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On a scale of 1 to 10

I’ve figured out part of the problem I have in discussing Mormon issues with others. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between how important the two parties view the subject being discussed. To illustrate the point, I’m proposing a completely arbitrary method of ranking an issue on a 10 point scale of ascending importance as follows:

1. Completely meaningless
2. Trivial
3. Relevant
4. Somewhat significant
5. Significant
6. Very significant
7. Important
8. Very important
9. Critical
10. Essential to salvation

When I think a subject is “1” and someone else thinks it is “10” then naturally I don’t care about the point. They think I must be convinced of the point or I am going to forfeit salvation itself.  When that is the case, we don’t connect very well. If we do reach an agreement, I don’t think the agreement amounts to much.  They on the other hand, think they’ve won a major point, or provided a valuable service.  I would likely be bored with the discussion, and since I didn’t value the subject’s importance would probably offend the other party by my disinterest.

On the other hand, views change.  At one point I am convinced that some behavior or conduct is either 9 or 10, only to later realize that it is more likely a 3 or 4.  That change in attitude may be due to nothing more than living longer, getting more experience and developing a little humility about life and its challenges.

I think that a lot of discussions, disagreements and strong arguments are rooted in an assignment of different levels of importance to the subject.

For example, when I was an Elder’s Quorum President, Home Teaching by Quorum members was something between an 8 and 10.  I’m not an Elder’s Quorum President any longer, and I go home teach my families because I really care about them.  I like them.  I want to be with them.  I find them interesting.  I’ve been 100% for many months and, if I miss at all, it is due to either their absence during the month or mine.  But I try to keep in close touch, not because of some “assignment” but because I like them.  If I were to assign a level of importance to home teaching now, based on the scale above, I would candidly give it a 5 or 6.

There are people who believe the center piece of the relief society room during a lesson is a 10.  I don’t relate well to that.   And there are those who think President Monson’s General Conference Addresses are a 1. I don’t relate well to that, either.

Before a discussion begins about gospel subjects, I think it is always helpful to first find out how important the subject is to the person with whom you are speaking.

A public service

My youngest daughter plays on a 10-and-under boy’s super league baseball team.  They played in a tournament this week.  In the first three games she was hit by pitches in every game.  In one, the bases were loaded and her hit-by-pitch walk scored an RBI.  I told her she had “RBI’d” a run and I was proud of her.  She thought about it a while and asked, “What does RBI mean?”  I said, “Run batted in.”  She replied, it should mean “Run by injury.”

In the last game she hit a single and RBI’d 2 runs. 

I noticed that the moms for the opposing teams all rooted for her when she was up to bat.  The dads, however, were horrified that a girl was competing with their sons.  I think she’s doing a public service.

Stake Conference

Stake Conference weekend!  That means that I’ll be helping to minimize the crowds in the parking lot at the Stake Center by leaving my car at home.  I’ll also help out with the crowded seating problems at the Stake Center by leaving some seats open.  I know it is a sacrifice to do this, but it’s one I’m willing to make. 

It’s the equinox.  I’m going to do something memorable. 

Witch of Endor

King Saul lost his counselor-prophet when he died of old age. (1 Sam 25:1)  Saul’s unstable conduct and unfaithful behavior precluded him from getting an answer from the Lord. “And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” (1 Sam. 28:6)  So Saul went to visit a woman who could conjure the dead. Saul had the woman conjure the deceased Samuel.

Saul had prohibited conjuring as a matter of law within the kingdom. (1 Sam. 28:3) So think about what he’s doing: 

– it’s illegal to go see a conjurer, so he’s breaking his own law.
– he goes to see the witch of Endor in order to get access to the dead prophet.
– so are we to trust the witch? or are we to trust the spirit that the witch conjures to be reliably Samuel?

Life really gets complicated for the superstitious and foolish.

Prophets and entropy

I have been struck by how much of the message which Samuel the Lamanite and Abinadi both deliver have previously been the subject of Nephi’s prophecies.  Almost every bit of Samuel the Lamanite and Abinadi’s messages are first included within Nephi’s message.  It is possible that both of these later Book of Mormon prophets were “restoring” to new generations the message originally taught by Nephi which had fallen into neglect.

The entire message of Joseph Smith was to restore what had been here before and become lost.  The work of scholar Margaret Barker suggests that Jesus Christ was restoring First Temple theology and earlier lost traditions.  

If the gospel was originally preached to Adam (and I think it was) then every prophet from that day until now has simply been restoring what was once here. Prophets fight the law of entropy.  Mankind keep losing truths and prophets keep bringing them back.  

One of the great “signs” that there is a true prophet on the earth is the restoration by them of truths which have fallen into disuse or neglect.  True prophets are at war with entropy and decay.  

Continual worship

After Christ’s resurrection, when He had ministered to His disciples, and proven that it was He who had been crucified, Luke makes this interesting observation: “And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” (Luke 24:52-53

First, it is interesting because Christ had fulfilled the Law of Moses.  Therefore, the rites of the temple of Herod were no longer necessary.  Yet Christ’s disciples returned to the temple “continually” to worship Him.  Second, the temple was under the control of those who conspired to kill the Lord.  Despite this, Christ’s disciples were “continually” in the temple.  

True worship by a true disciple is never impaired by the circumstances. We should not allow anything to distract us from our own “praising and blessing God.” If it can be done in the temple of Herod after the crucifixion of Christ, it can be done today. 

Satan fell from heaven

Satan was not thrown out of heaven until after this earth was created.  Jesus remarked, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” (Luke 10:18) Similarly, John’s revelation records that Satan “which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9) From this we know that Satan was not cast out until after the creation of this earth had prepared a place into which Satan could be cast. 

Several of the astronauts who walked on the moon during the Apollo project reported having deeply spiritual experiences when they left the earth.  One of them became a full-time minister.  

C.S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy in which the first volume titled “Out of the Silent Planet” made this earth isolated from the heavenly chorus because of its wickedness. 

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea: for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12)

Dumbing down?

I had a friend suggest to me that the Lord was requiring the church to “dumb down” the curriculum. I absolutely reject that idea. It’s just preposterous. The Lord always offers light and truth to any who come to Him. It is men who turn away from what is offered.

Weekend movie

I watched a new DVD we bought from Deseret Book titled “One Good Man.”

If it was satire or intended as irony then it was quite good. If it was just a straight up drama then I hated it. Since it was an LDS product, and sold at Deseret Book, I assume it wasn’t meant as irony or satire.

It offended me because the lead character was called to be a Bishop. This makes the hero a church leader. The hero treats one of his ward members as disposable, but goes out of his way for non-members and widows. It resulted in the inactivity of an entire family whose sole outreach by the bishop was to go Christmas caroling with his family on their porch. While there, he tells the wife that he, “hadn’t seen them in church lately.”

It was depressing. As irony it shows how a “good” man can’t always do good. Life is riddled with conflicts and unintended harm. So I like it as irony.