I agree that there may be many reasons for the decline. However, the most prominent of reasons in my view is the de-emphasis on doctrine. As a convert to the Church I know what attracted me to become a Mormon. It had nothing to do with the formulaic discussions of the missionaries, slick marketing or good arguments. It had to do with doctrine. I DIDN’T WANT to be a Mormon. Quite the contrary. But I knew I should become a Mormon because their doctrines came from God and answered questions other faiths could not begin to answer.
The man bellowed at Joseph F.: “Are you a Mormon?”
Joseph responded: “Yes siree; dyed in the wool, true blue, through and through.”
The man was so disarmed that he grabbed Joseph F.’s hand and told him he was the “pleasantest man I ever met!” (with a few obscenities mixed in.)
I like that story. I consider myself a “true blue, through and through Mormon.” Despite that, I know we have problems and many flaws. The scriptures foretell our many deficiencies. But human weaknesses and shortcomings are no impediment to the Divine origin of Mormonism; nor its ultimate destiny.
I think it is an error to have an unreasonably high opinion of ourselves. Conversely, it is an error to conclude that all is lost because of our shortcomings. We are full of sins and errors, slogging along making institutional and individual errors daily. But we are also, institutionally and individually, called to be involved in God’s work to redeem His children. He loves us all, with a love which can overcome our many failures.
There was an article on Mormon Times about the declining baptism rate the Church is experiencing. The article can be found at: http://www.mormontimes.com/
I’ve often thought that with the standard set by the Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (“Judge not, that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged” – Matt. 2: 1-2), that any time a person is given the opportunity, they should forgive others, just as Christ admonished us. (See Matt. 6: 14-15.)
Those who think presiding over a ward or stake gives them an opportunity to dominate others are taking an extraordinary risk against their own eternal interests. My counsel would be to err on the side of forgiving, and never on the side of condemning. Even the woman taken in the act of adultery was told by the Lord: “neither do I condemn thee.” (See John 8: 1-11.)
Christ’s teachings were meant to be applied internally to check our own behavior. Not externally as a means to judge or condemn others. If you see something amiss in other’s conduct, then persuade them by your example to be better. Lectures are almost always useless. An example is compelling.
In relation to the world’s population there are statistically fewer LDS each year. Our birth rate is declining and our baptism rate does not even begin to keep up with world population growth. In other words, each year there is far more temple work to be done than there was the year before.
Yvonne Bent has organized a conference on May 15, 2010 at the Rose Wagner Auditorium in downtown Salt Lake City to have various presenters address conference attendees on the widespread sacred patternism, including chiasmus. She invited me to speak, and I will be among those who will participate in the program.
I think Cool Change was Little River Band’s greatest song. I found this video on YouTube which couples the song with video of swimming dolphins and whales.
These are mammals in the video. They are warm blooded and breathe air. Because they must breathe they are required to return to the surface. But in the video they seem to be playing, jumping, enjoying the jump into the heavens and out of the waters where they live. One of the dolphins leaps and twists like one of the Olympic events we just finished watching.
The upward leap seemed a symbol to me of what all life here was intended to do: reach up joyfully to that God who gave us life. Hope you enjoy the video and song as much as I did as I watched it with a daughter last night.
I was asked about a list of “commandments” to keep. The person was sincerely trying to keep the commandments, but lacked a comprehensive list of them.
It is not possible to list all commandments. In one sense there are only two: Love God. Love you fellow man. All others are extensions of those.
If you love God you will do what He asks of you. Whenever something comes to your attention He would have you do, you do it. For example, Christ was baptized and said to “Follow Him.” So because of your love of God, you follow Him.
But Christ also showed repeatedly, that the second commandment was greater than the rules. Keeping the Sabbath day holy, for example, was subordinate to loving and freeing His fellow man. He freed men from sin on the Sabbath by forgiving sins. He freed them from physical injury or disease by healing on the Sabbath. Both were considered work, and therefore an offense to the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Your individual path back to God will begin with following the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At some point, however, you will find that individual service and obedience to God’s will for you will create disharmony between you and others. Can’t be avoided. If you’re following Christ, you will find the same things He found. Helping someone in need will take you away from Church meetings on occasion. You can’t make a list and keep it, because as soon as you do the list will interfere with loving God and loving your fellow man.
So the whole matter can be reduced to this: Follow Christ, receive the ordinances, accept the Holy Ghost, who will teach you all things you must do. Any list beyond that will inevitably result in conflicts and contradictions.
In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing. There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building. Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.
There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality. But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7: 17.) If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.