Wednesday, February 26, 2014


 A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of the mother of our close friend. Our friend spoke at the funeral as did all of the siblings. They each gave tribute to their mother in their own unique way. The common remembrance shared about their mother was that she loved to laugh and was always smiling. It was said that their mother loved life, and truly made the world a brighter place wherever she went. I came away from the funeral wanting to be a better person, smiling and laughing more.

I came across a youtube the other day that made me laugh. I think we all need to laugh more. Life is too short. This video is a short comedy act by Nina Conti, a ventriloquist. As part of her act, a man is brought onto the stage and is transformed into a human puppet. The comedic ventriloquist has complete control of what he says and operates his “mouth mask” to open and close his mouth to look like he is speaking. It is clever and I thought it was pretty funny.

Here is the link to the embedded video:

The video prompted me to make a simple observation.

 A “puppet” can be defined as a person, group, government, etc., whose actions are prompted and controlled by another or others. The "puppet" is usually a charismatic person and holds a position of power or authority over others. However, the one(s) controlling the puppet have all of the power. While the "puppet" appears to be the one saying or acting on their own, it is the person behind the curtain that is actually doing the talking. Those in control are usually called the "powers that be". The "powers that be" always have an agenda.  

In powerful corporations, there is always a sole leader that speaks for the entire institution. They usually have staff members or committees who help write or edit their speeches. The corporate head is the mouthpiece for the company. There is a delicate balance to make sure that what is said by this spokesperson will not offend a large amount of people. Furthermore, if a change in direction is desired for the institution,  a delicate balance needs to be maintained between keeping the original practices versus changing and “implementing” new policies which might too difficult for the members of the group to accept.  To avoid making these mistakes, institutions use focus groups, surveys, and opinions polls to help assess what will be currently acceptable to the larger group.

 These institutional leaders need those under them to support and sustain them in order to maintain power and control. However I think Albert Einstein said it really well:

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

Fortunately, the Lord doesn’t use social sciences to declare His word. His mouthpieces speak His word. I am grateful that the Lord continues to speak to us today through His prophets in order  to point us to back to Him. The scriptures teach us the importance that the words spoken by true prophets come from the Lord. He is not pleased when the messages do not come directly from Him.

One interesting scripture found in Jeremiah 23:30 (New Living Translation of the Bible) says, "Therefore," says the LORD, "I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me.”

Recently there has been a lot excitement about the recent Church policy change to lower the missionary age for the Elders to age 18 and for the Sisters to age 19. A few weeks ago, a member of the Quorum of the 70's met with local ward mission leaders. The General Authority  asked the ward mission leaders why they thought the age requirements had been lowered.

He then said that he and all the 70's had a conference with two members of the Quorum of the 12 and they posed the same question to the 70's. The apostle told the 70's that the missionary age was not lowered to "save" all of these youth -- although that's a nice thing. They said there was only one reason it was done. It's because the Lord said so, to hasten his work---- that's it.”

Some might have watched the special report that aired in between the General Conference sessions that reported on this decision to lower the missionary age.  

 Link to the one hour special report "A mighty band of youth"

Here are a few interesting quotes from the above link.

“The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, they say, have studied this idea for years. Eighteen year old men have been serving in 48 countries throughout the world for the last ten years, because of university entrance and military qualifications in those nations.”

"Many might not know this is not the first age change for serving missions. The age for missionary service for men used to be 20 years olds prior to 1960. Elder Jeffrey R Holland was one of the first missionaries called when the age was lowered to 19 years."

Around 13: 43 minute mark in the above video, there is an interview with Elder Jeffrey R Holland.

Elder Holland states: “I was in the first wave of 19 year olds when that change was made in 1960. President Monson, as this was all being discussed with him, and as he was giving leadership to it, we asked his opinion in this and in all other matters about the age change . . . and he said, 'I was a Mission President, I was presiding in Toronto when the 19 years old change came and we didn’t miss a beat'.” 

I found it interesting that he states that the decision to lower the missionary age was discussed with President Monson and that they asked his opinion about lowering the age. Faithful members would likely say that they believe that this was divine revelation given to President Monson, as the Lord's prophet. And the reason why it was lowered was because the Lord said so.. in order to hasten His work.

Anyway. . . sorry to digress. I thought the video of the human puppet was pretty funny and wanted to post it in case it might make another person laugh and/or at least smile. If it didn't, smile or laugh anyway because it helps brighten these latter days that we live in.