Wednesday, December 18, 2019

2019.12.18 - WHAT WOULD JESUS DO WITH 100 BILLION DOLLARS?

 Yesterday after a whistleblower claims that the LDS Church stockpiled $100 Billion in charitable donations and dodge taxes, the First Presidency released a statement.

" Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. This is a sound doctrinal and financial principle taught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents and lived by the Church and its members. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission.
The reason why they give for safeguarding the money was the principles taught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents?  I find it so interesting how people can interpret scripture so differently. While some could read the parable as justification to multiply what you have been given, others could read the parable as a condemnation, and teaching us of what NOT to do.

I might be wrong, but when I read the parable,  the servant with the one talent (in this case maybe his talent is only money).. hides that money from everyone else. The Lord then comes and says thou wicked and slothful servant.. you oughtest (thinkest) to have put My money to the exchangers (banks, hedge fund managers, stock brokers) and then at my Second Coming, you think I want the interest? This unprofitable servant is cast into outer darkness. I could be completely misinterpreting this though. I do find the following verses to be really interesting... it is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.


I think we would do well to reread Matthew 25. Quick one line summary of the parable:  The Sheep feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, takes in the stranger, clothes the naked, and visits the sick and those in prison. The Goats do not.

The Sheep are exalted and receive life eternal.
The Goats shall go away into everlasting punishment.

Maybe we can start giving some of those BILLIONS of dollars to the LEAST among us. Christ says that doing this is the same thing as giving it to Him. So maybe we don't need to wait to give him the lump sum when He comes again, but give it to the less fortunate NOW.
(and in my humble opinion, we would be even more "Profitable" servants)

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"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Matthew 25:45

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Sidenote:

From the Church Newsroom (was removed but has been archived HERE) Elder Andersen said the significance of the meeting with Vice President Mohadi was to “express to him our desire to help improve Zimbabwe.” He noted that Vice President Mohadi had made a specific request for support with the development of clean-water wells in more remote areas of Zimbabwe.“We want to help in every way we can,” said Elder Andersen. “We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have,” he added.

Really?  

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

2019.12.17 - WHAT WILL DESTROY ANY SOCIETY? WEALTH, POWER AND POPULARITY


In light of the recent events this past week, it is a good thing that we will be studying the Book of Mormon next year. Maybe we might take the prophesies and warnings seriously this time. The Book of Mormon warns us that there are four things that will destroy any society or institution. What are they?  Wealth, Power, Popularity, and the Lusts of the Flesh. The Book of Mormon begins with Nephi's prophesy that the time will come that ALL churches which are built up to get gain and become popular in the eyes of the world and seek after the things of the world must be brought low.

 "For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet." I Nephi 22:23 (Other verses to read: 2 Nephi 9:30; Alma 4:8; Helaman 7:12; 3 Nephi 6:15; Mormon 8:28)

For those who haven't read Hugh Nibley's BYU commencement speech given on August 19, 1983 here are a few highlights. The speech is called "Leaders and Managers".  The full transcript can be found here.
"Most of you are here today (BYU graduates) only because you believe that this charade will help you get ahead in the world. But in the last few years things have got out of hand; “the economy,” once the most important thing in our materialistic lives, has become the only thing. We have been swept up in a total dedication to “the economy,” which like the massive mud slides of our Wasatch Front, is rapidly engulfing and suffocating everything. If President Kimball is “frightened and appalled” by what he sees, I can do no better than to conclude with his words: “We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the ‘arm of flesh,’ for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, `I will not spare any that remain in Babylon...
Moroni disappeared from the scene, the old coalition “did obtain the sole management of the government,” and immediately did “turn their backs upon the poor” (Helaman 6:39; emphasis added).. Such was the management that Moroni opposed. By all means, brethren, let us take “Captain Moroni” for our model, and never forget what he fought for—the poor, outcast, and despised; and what he fought against—pride, power, wealth, and ambition; or how he fought, as the generous, considerate, and magnanimous foe—a leader in every sense.


I sure hope this upcoming year that we  don't treat the Book of Mormon lightly. Here are a few recent news items to consider that possibly the Book of Mormon is a warning to us....  and not just the rest of all of the other churches who amass wealth, power and popularity.

WEALTH:  $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund. See story here:




POWER: 
"You can tell what’s informed the society by the size of the what the building is that’s the tallest building in the place. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral’s the tallest thing in the place. When you approach a 17th century city, it’s the political palace that’s the tallest thing in the place. And when you approach a modern city, it’s office buildings and dwellings that are the tallest things in the place.
 And if you go to Salt Lake City, you’ll see the whole thing illustrated right in front of your face. First, the temple was built. The temple was built right in the center of the city. I mean, this was the proper organization, that’s the spiritual center from which all flows in all directions. And then the capitol was built right beside the temple, and it’s bigger than the temple. And now the biggest thing is the office building that takes care of the affairs of both the temple and the political building."
Excerpt from the transcript of an interview with Joseph Campbell, an American Professor of Literature. Full transcript found here.  

Related image


POPULARITY
The social media singing star, Claire Crosby has more than 6 million followers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram with social media video views numbering more than 1 billion. What better way to get more popularity than to create a video of yourself playing the piano while she sings and then you post it all over social media. Link to video here. 

Claire Crosby sings and is accompanied by President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Dec 6, 2019.
 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019.12.12 - GLOSSED OVER, PAVED OVER.. and SMOOTHED OVER

A FEW QUICK THOUGHTS:


GLOSSED OVER:

Just in case this event is glossed over.. I want to at least mention it here:

My family makes fun of me because I am a "moon" geek... sort of a "pseudo werewolf" because of my obsession at staring at the moon.  I also like the symbolism of numbers. So for those symbolic "werewolfs" out there... the last full moon of this decade will take place in less than 12 hours on December 12th, and the instant that the moon is full is 12:12 a.m. (EST)..... 12/12@12:12!

I don't blame any of you for glossing over that. Super geeky. 


PAVED OVER: 

Over an acre of land in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City has been used for over 43 years as a community garden. However, the LDS Church will soon be shutting down the garden and paving over it with concrete. They are turning it into a parking lot. Here is the news article: 



The reason for closing down the garden is because the LDS church is shuffling some of the SLC East side congregations. The Church is closing down the Douglas Ward Building due to diminishing attendance. It currently only has one congregation meeting there. Also the Church is selling another historic church building in the area to the University of Utah.  So to accommodate the closing, the members will need to travel further to a new building.... and unfortunately they need more parking space. The community of gardeners who have enjoyed growing fresh vegatables for decades will need to find another way to be self-sufficient in growing their own food  to make way for parked cars that will only use it for 2 hours on Sunday. 

Here is a photo of the Douglas building that the LDS Church is closing down. 

The Douglas Ward located on  721 S 1200 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102


SMOOTHED OVER....

I starting writing about this months ago. However, I never posted it but thought it fit the theme of the blog title.

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is regarded as one of the largest environmental disasters in American history. The disaster on April 20, 2010 killed 11 workers as the oil rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico. It took nearly three months to stop the flow of oil. By then, four million barrels of crude had contaminated the ocean and the marine wildlife. The public was outraged at the oil company. BP hired some of the best Public Relations firms to try and regain public favor. Below is one of the commercials that was aired nationally.


Here is one of their feel good public relations videos:



Damage control is always needed whenever an institution makes a bad decision and they lose public favor. I use the above example as a backdrop for the following:

In the LDS Handbook of Instructions, there has always been a policy to restrict the baptism of children of polygamist families whose parents have practiced or are practicing plural marriage, an illegal form of marriage. However until recently the LDS handbook did NOT contain any restrictions for children whose parents are living in a same-gender relationship and considered LEGAL marriage.

To avoid a potential lawsuit that restricted one type of family that is not legal (polygamy) and not the other family which is LEGAL(same-sex marriage), the below policy was quietly added on November 15, 2017 to the LDS Handbook 1 of Instructions.

Here is the actual wording of the policy: (the bold word emphasis are mine)



There was NEVER a public announcement of the policy.

However, the policy was leaked to the public and the Church had a BP-type of disaster on their hands. Not only did the Church bar the children from baby blessings and baptism, but deeming same-sex married couples as “apostates” just like those practicing polygamy. It was reported in the local paper that "Hundreds, maybe more, resigned their church membership. Even believers felt wounded and betrayed. Families were torn. Tensions erupted. Some were disciplined by the church. Some died by suicide."

What some would view as caving into social pressure, the First Presidency reversed the policy in April of 2019.

The new policy was announced by President Dallin H Oaks, at a morning leadership training session for the area presidencies and top female officials.

“Effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval,” Oaks said, “if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make. In addition, same-sex Latter-day Saint parents no longer will be seen as “apostates.” In addition, officials said, the revamped policy clears the way for babies of such couples to be “blessed” in a traditional church ceremony.

This new policy changed was received as an overwhelming positive change. However, many started to question why the first policy was claimed as "revelation" in the first place. 

So in order to smooth over and minimize the need for damage control, President Nelson spoke at BYU just days before the October Conference. His talk was broadcasted worldwide.

 Here are some of his comments to "smooth over" the member's concerns over the revelation claims for this policy. The first "revelation" claim in 2015 to not allow children under 18 years of age to be baptized and then the "reversal revelation" in 2019.

"The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have continued to seek the Lord’s guidance and to plead with Him in behalf of His children who were affected by the 2015 policy. We knew that this policy created concern and confusion for some and heartache for others. That grieved us. Whenever the sons and daughters of God weep—for whatever reasons—we weep. So our supplications to the Lord continued.
We also took note of LGBT parents who sought permission from the First Presidency for their children to be baptized. In nearly every case in which the LGBT parents agreed to teach their children about—and be supportive of—the covenant of baptism, the requested exception was granted. 
As a result of our continued supplication, we recently felt directed to adjust the policy such that the baptism of children of LGBT parents may be authorized by bishops without First Presidency approval, if the custodial parents request the baptism and understand that a child will be taught about sacred covenants to be made at baptism. 
We also determined that LGBT parents may request that a baby be named and blessed by one who worthily holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is important that these parents understand that ward members will contact them periodically and that when a child who has been blessed reaches eight years of age, local leaders will recommend that the child be baptized."
It is interesting to see the downplay of using "revelation".  For example the word  "They felt directed" and "They determined."

On such important matters, I wonder if it is too much to ask to actually hear the Lord's voice in any of these decisions, like the "Lord directed" or "He determined."






Thursday, December 5, 2019

2019.12.05 - A LOST DOCTRINE - "MAKING YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE"

"Give diligence to make your 
calling and election sure."
2 Peter 1: 10

The assigned Sunday School lesson given last week in all of the LDS wards was on the Epistles of Peter.   The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles” (History of the Church 5:392).  However, it was interesting to see what was left out from the lesson manual. 

Here is a screen shot from the "Come Follow Me" Lesson Manual for 2 Peter 1:1-11.



I don't disagree with the importance to identifying the Christlike qualities and inviting others to develop them more fully, however, I was surprised to see there was no mention of the verse found in 2 Peter 1: 10  about "giving diligence to make your calling and election sure." 



Through out Joseph Smith's ministry, he emphasized and taught the members about the importance of receiving your calling and election. In his sermon delivered on the Nauvoo temple grounds on Friday May 12, 1844, Joseph said, 

"Oh! I beseech you to forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure---and if any man preach any other gospel with that which I have preached, he shall be cursed, and some of you who now hear me, shall see it & know that I testify the truth concerning them". 

To beseech is to beg for urgently and fervently to do something. 

It is interesting to point out that Joseph Smith said that if any man preach any other gospel (meaning not about making your calling and election sure).. he shall be cursed. Are we preaching another "gospel" today by never teaching or mentioning about the doctrine on making your calling and your election sure?


Joseph Smith said: “After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, is baptized for the remission of his sins, and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness and living by every word of God. The Lord will soon say unto him, ‘Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John [KJV], in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses” (TPJS, 150; WJS, 5; see John 9:7–9).

That "other Comforter" is Jesus Christ. The Lord has promised the Saints that it is our privilege to receive Him after our calling and election has been made sure.  Receiving the Second Comforter means you will meet Christ. You will know, without a doubt, He exists. You will know, through Him, the atonement has been provided and the scriptures that testify of Him are true. You will no longer have faith in the existence of God nor in your standing before Him but will have knowledge.

Receiving an audience with the Second Comforter is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It is unfortunate that we have removed the reference about the Second Comforter from our scripture. I have written about that in a previous blog post. Here is the link:   http://barerecord.blogspot.com/2014/04/258-now-what-is-this-other-comforter.html


We need to remember these lost doctrines that used to be taught back by Joseph Smith. 


I close with Peter's words:
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."