Friday, February 14, 2020

2020.02.14 - CONTROLLING WHAT THE LDS MEMBERS READ - "MEDIA SPIN"


"He who controls the media 
controls the minds of the public."
 Noam Chomsky
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I found it interesting to see the headlines of all the major newpapers who reported about the 100 BILLION dollars (+plus) fund that the LDS Church has amassed.  Here are some examples from The  Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and our local Salt Lake Tribune. Then look as the positive spin on the same story in the headline from the Deseret News.






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Here was the headline in the Deseret News this week about the same story.

What is really ironic is the name of the Deseret News reporter who wrote this article for the paper. His last name is Shill. Not sure that is his pen name or his real name, either way, he might want to consider a new "pen" name. Shill is probably the worst name you could have as full time writer for the Church. The definition of "Shill" is not necessarily positive.

With headlines in all the major national newspapers, no wonder the Church wants/needs to own their own media channels to soften the negative news that has been dominating the headlines. In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to influence public opinion about some organization or public figure.



The church holding company, Deseret Management, owns several media subsidiaries that run the Deseret News, the largest newspaper in Utah, KSL TV station, 11 radio stations includig KSL Newsradio,  a publishing and distribution company, and more.  A few years ago, the church sold 17 radio stations for $505 million to better focus on Internet ventures.
The Church also owns the Bonneville International Corporation which operates and owns radio stations nationwide, Bonneville Communications, Bonneville Interactive, and Bonneville Satellite Company.
Another company the Church own is  Deseret Digital Media which operates the Web sites of other Deseret Media Companies media companies, including deseretnews.com and ksl.com.
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Sidenote:
On Monday February 10th 2020, the Wall Street Journal, released a exclusive interview with Mormon Leaders regarding the Faith's amassed 100 Billion Plus in investments.
LINK TO THE Wall Street Journal's audio
Here is one person's opinion posted publically in a comments section:
In multiple responses to having a secret $124+ Billion dollar cash fund, the LDS Church has stated how sacred their responsibility is to care for the widow's mite. Invariably, when tithing comes up in LDS context, the story of the widow's mite is trotted out. 
Being raised in the LDS Church, I remember frequently being taught about the widow's mite. The context in which Church lesson manuals address the widow's mite (from Primary to Come Follow Me manuals), is all about her sacrifice and how we should always pay an honest tithe, even in our extreme poverty.
From the current Primary (children's) manual: "There are people who say they cannot afford to pay tithing because their incomes are small. … No one is ever too poor to pay tithing” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 212). 
The story of the widow's mite is explicitly taught in the LDS Church as a lesson that even in our most extreme poverty, we should pay tithing to the LDS Church. I have heard this my whole life and could find innumerable additional examples where this is explicitly taught. 
The problem is this is almost 180 degrees removed from what Christ is actually teaching in this exact story. The passage is a direct condemnation of (1) the rich giving a fraction of their wealth to the church and (2) allowing a widow in their midst to give her last pennies to the church. 
The story is not just Mark 12: 41-44. The immediately preceding verses are: 
38 ¶ And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation 
Literally, the immediately preceding verse talks about the church leaders "devouring widow's houses" and receiving greater damnation. Yet every LDS Church lesson manual I can find blows past verse 40 and only addresses 41-44. Every reference to the widow's mite is an expectation and demand that impoverished members pay their tithing regardless. 
What is not spoken of is that a poor member's Temple Recommend is also tied directly to paying your tithing. So when Alma speaks of the poor being cast out of the synagogues, this is literally the case in the LDS Church today. If you don't pay your tithing, you are not worthy of a recommend - which means all your temple blessings, your eternal family, and promises of the Celestial Kingdom are gone. 
So, when the LDS Church invokes the widow's mite in context of their $124 Billion Dollar rainy day fund, it makes me furious. To think that "devouring widow's houses" (verse 40) to add to your secret/sacred fund is in any way endorsed by what Christ is saying here is an absolute desecration of the text and the message 
If anything, the Biblical text of the widow's mite, including the condemnation of the rich and the scribes (the church leaders), condemns the LDS Church both in demanding money from the impoverished faithful, and condemnation for not using that money to raise that same widow out of her poverty. 
I have nothing to say if faithful members above the poverty line pay tithing. But to teach children (current primary manuals) that the widow's mite means that you pay tithing instead of food or housing is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the impoverished in third world countries is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the poor that is directly tied to access to the temple (eternal families, heaven), is morally wrong. And to demand tithing while you are accumulating an almost unfathomable amount of wealth is morally wrong. 
And to repeat, ad nauseam, that Christ taught this in the widow's mite story, is morally wrong.

And this just in.. a new Deseret News article for more damage control:

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/2/14/21133740/mormon-church-finances-billions-presiding-bishopric-ensign-peak-tithing-donations-byu-real-estate 

Friday, February 7, 2020

2020. 02.07 - What BYU WILL and WILL NOT accommodate

Next month BYU will be begin hosting some of the biggest events they hold on their campus all year. The first event is the National Ballroom Dance Competition. Every March, thousands and thousands of spectators, along with 26 national judges fill the Marriott Center to watch over 3,000 registered couples and teams vie for National Championship of Ballroom Dancing.  The second event is the annual Women's Conference, which is largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world.

It might surprise members of the Church to find out who BYU is allowing to participate and who are not welcome to attend. 



"Nursing mothers cannot be accommodated at BYU Women's conference."


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Here is the link to the BYU website where is explicitly states that mothers are not allowed to bring their nursing babies to any of the events. What is interesting is that teenage boys 17 and older ARE allowed to attend. I don't know which one can be more disruptive.. a sleeping baby or a teenage boy playing on his cellphone. 

HOWEVER: THIS IS WHAT BYU WILL ACCOMMODATE:



"BYU will allow same-sex dancing at annual competition."


The event will be historic for the conservative college, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To host the coveted showcase, which it has every year since at least 1997, BYU was required to lift its ban keeping same-sex couples from competing this spring. 

Here is the link:
https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/01/21/first-time-ever-byu-will/

Friday, January 17, 2020

2020.01.17 - MORE TEMPLE REMOVALS


Yesterday I watched as almost all the trees on the south end of the Temple were cut down.

Church tradition has it that some of the other older trees on Temple Square were planted in 1893. They were grand elm trees and the seeds came from the World's Fair held in Chicago, Illinois held that year in 1893.

In fact, one of the oldest trees was located at the corner of South Temple and Main Street. This "tree of paradise" was planted in 1869 and was part of plantings that surrounded the square and extended down both sides of the street. It is one of the oldest planted trees in Utah.




While many of the trees on Temple Square will still remain, unfortunately there are more trees slated to be cut down in the coming days. They will be cut down, removed, and maybe used for firewood and burned. Trees are symbolic connections between the earth and heaven. The roots that are planted in the soil of the ground are reflected in the branches that reach up into the heavens.

In addition to the trees being cut down, it was announced today that parts of the ceremonial temple clothing is also going to be removed and changed. Here is a link to the announcement 
from the First Presidency and a sample photo from the Church. In my opinion, another symbolic element (like the trees) of a connection between what is above to what is below has been cut and removed.

Here is link to the news article in the Church owned Deseret news.
https://www.ksl.com/article/46705726/adjustments-made-to-latter-day-saint-temple-ceremonial-clothing


The Official statement:
Some adjustments have been made to temple ceremonial clothing. These adjustments don’t reflect changes to temple symbolism or doctrine but are intended to make the temple experience more simple, comfortable, and accessible by making the clothing easier to put on, care for, and afford. 
Some of these adjustments include:
  • A simpler design for the veil and robe.
  • Removing the plastic insert from the cap and the tie from the cap and veil.
  • Using a more durable material that is the same for the robes, cap, and sash, which helps them last longer and makes them easier to care for.
We hope these adjustments will help improve this sacred experience for you as you make temple worship a regular part of your life.
From the photo above that the Church publicly posted, many faithful Church members will see some of the elements that have been removal like the circular insert in the cap and the ties from the cap and the veil.

I am grateful for good friends who share with me their research and knowledge, one such friend writes this blog. He shared the following information to me in a personal email and with his permission I share the following.

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Regarding the removed of the circular insert:

The cap is circular when viewed from above, like the pupil of an eye. It is similar in symbolism to the Egyptian hypocephalus, which was a circular disk placed under the head (hypo = under, kephelae = head) of the mummy. It represented the Eye of Horus on earth which looked upward into the eye of eternity (source, search for "pupil"). It represents seeing eye to eye with God, having an eye single to his glory. It is the conduit through which light and life flow from heaven into the soul. For all the same reasons, it shares the same symbolism with a seer stone(s). Also, regarding the connection between the cap, seerstone, hypocephalus connection: The caps worn by the priests in their temple service served as a cushion for a crown, and stood in place for the crown itself. (Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos, Deseret Book, Pg. 55)

Facsimile #2 is a drawing of a hypocephalus. Figure 3 depicts God sitting enthroned on his ark, and around/on his head is a circular "crown of eternal light".

The function of the seerstone and hypocephalus were similar, to transmit light from God to the head of the initiate. The cap symbolizes this transmission, and represents the "crown of eternal light" that shines out of those who are chosen, called up through the veil, and anointed Kings and Priests unto God. 

Regarding the removed of the tie of the cap to the robe:

Our degree of fellowship with heaven is symbolized by the wearing of robes. This fellowship is "priesthood", as you know. Of the fulness of this priesthood, Joseph Smith said:

"is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven...It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing his glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth and through which he has continued to reveal himself to the children of men to the present time and through which he will make known his purposes to the end of time." (source)
and
"And God said unto Noah the end of all flesh is before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold I will destroy them with the earth," thus we behold the Keys of this priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that he talked with him in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the Keys, the Covenants, the power and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning." (ibid)

The relationship with God symbolized by your robes is the channel through which he will reveal the knowledge that will save you and your family. In other words, there is an eternal link between the cap and the robe. The robe symbolizes the relationship one has with heaven, and the cap symbolizes the receipt of saving knowledge.

There is a bow on the cap, with six loops of fabric. This symbolizes the six active days of creation, which, combined with your own soul, fully redeem creation as you walk through the veil. If people will do this, the Earth will truly not be utterly wasted at the coming of Christ and the Fathers.

The epaulet on the shoulder folds three times in one direction, and four times in the other, creating twelve segmentations. These represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Aaron's priestly vestments included shoulder pieces supporting the ephod, and on each shoulder there was an onyx stone engraved with names of six of the tribes. When Aaron walked through the veil and the Lord looked down upon him, the names of his people would be engraved on the upward-facing shoulder piece of the ephod as a memorial. The people could be assured that the Lord would remember them and his covenants to their fathers (Exodus 28:9-12). We carry the same memorial through the veil on our epaulet, a silent plea to God to remember scattered Israel. Inasmuch as the blood of Israel actually flows in our veins, walking through the veil redeems Israel just as Aaron symbolically redeemed Israel by carrying them through the veil.

The link between the cap and robe (revelation and priesthood) happens between the bow and the epaulet. The result of our relationship with God (if we develop it) is to be adopted into the family of God through Israel, and to receive a knowledge of the hidden mysteries of creation in the Holy of Holies.

As a side note, there is also a complementarity between the cap/seer stone and the woman's facial veil. The following comes from an interview with Joseph Smith Sr. where he summarized the Book of Mormon as far as he was familiar (including the lost portion of the record). When King Mosiah I found the Jaredite seer stones on the ground during the Nephite exodus through the wilderness, he took them to the tabernacle. The Lord asked him “What have you got in your hand, there?” Mosiah replied that he did not know, but had come to inquire. The Lord said "Put it on your face, and put your face in a skin, and you will see what it is." Mosiah put on the spectacles and veiled himself in an animal skin, and could see everything past, present, and future." (source )

When Joseph Smith used the seer stone, he had to place his face in a hat. The only description we have of the material of Joseph's hat specifies that it was a beaver-skin hat. Don Bradley argues that "Joseph Smith did not understand himself to be looking into a hat, per se, but rather to be looking into an animal skin." (source).

The facial veil, the skin of an animal who gave its life for the purpose, is needed to mediate and filter out all unwanted ambient light. It creates space for the coherent and properly ordered transmission of knowledge through the seer stone. The veil's function is "wisdom", and the seer stone's "knowledge".


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020.01.08 - THE SLC TEMPLE: THE REMOVAL FROM THE FOUNDATION

The Salt Lake City Temple is now closed until as early as 2024.

This week, dozens and dozens of moving trucks began hauling away all of the furniture, historical items, artwork, light fixtures, stain glass windows and sacred items.  The Salt Lake Temple which is the epicenter for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been officially "decommissioned"

On Monday, I watched the movers carry out the contents from inside the temple into these bright orange Allied Semi-Trucks.




Once everything has been hauled off, the demolition of many of the buildings around the Temple will begin. It will be sad to see the Salt Lake Temple Chapel be torn down. I asked to take a photo inside of the chapel so I could show my children what it looked like inside and the beautiful 2 story mural of Christ ascension. Below is the photo of the outside of the chapel:



Here is the photo inside the Chapel. I am not sure if the Church has any plans to preserve this mural because I think it is painted onto the wall itself.


Another part of the demolition will be the sealing rooms that extend out from the North side of the building. One of the reasons for removing this section of the temple is that there are large cracks and  separation occurring.


This is a close up of one section of the granite wall that is starting to show the cracking despite attempts to fill in the gaps with compound adhesives. They will be rebuilding this entire part of the temple with all new sealing rooms.


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In May of 2018, an article was published in the LDS Church News in the Mormon Times section stating that the Salt Lake Temple was built to last through the Millenium. Here is the link to the article.

President Brigham Young stated. "I want to see the Temple built in a manner that it will endure through the Millennium."

“Because the builders recalled President Young’s desire for this temple to stand through time, the structure was very solid. Even at their tops, the walls were six feet thick, and the granite blocks were individually and skillfully shaped to fit snugly together. Nearly a century later, Elder Mark E. Petersen (a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) attested to the soundness of the temple’s construction. He was in the temple when a rather severe earthquake hit, damaging several buildings around the Salt Lake Valley. 'As I sat there in that temple I could feel the sway of the quake and that the whole building groaned.' Afterward, he recalled, the engineers 'could not find one semblance of damage' anywhere in the temple.”


The article concludes by saying the:

"So, the finished Salt Lake Temple may be more earthquake resistant than some may believe."

I don't know of any other building that has a 14 foot granite foundation.
The Deseret News' LDS Church News of March 30, 1963, published a photograph of when extensive excavations were made around the base of the Salt Lake Temple. The article listed the granite foundation as 14 feet deep.

However, a year later in the April 2109 conference, President Nelson announced that the Temple will close for 4 years for major seismic and structural renovations to help the building withstand a large earthquake. According to Brent Roberts, the church’s director of special projects, this will require placing hundreds of shock absorbers between the ground and the building’s footings and foundations. “It actually will now be the foundation of the temple, so when the earth moves, the base isolation system takes all that movement."

"It actually will now be the foundation of the temple, so when the earth moves, the base isolation system takes all that movement," Roberts said.

So in other words, the original foundation that the Temple was build on will now be replaced by a "base isolation system". Essentially the building is no longer on rock, a steadfast and firm foundation, but on rollers that can move back and forth depending on the movement of the world.


I thought I would close with one of my favorite verses from the Book of Mormon found in Helaman 5:12 
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."