BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Slippery

I pay close attention to the Church and its leadership.  I take careful note of what is said, and by whom.  The closer you listen, the clearer the Church’s methods and means become.  They really don’t take a great deal of effort to conceal things.

The Church is quite important to me.  It deserves my careful study.  Therefore I do not mind giving it the attention which it requires to understand what the Church is doing to cope with the various pressures, trends, and difficulties it encounters daily.

The Church’s study of public opinion is so careful, so well done, and so frequently updated, that in his October, 2006 General Conference talk, Elder Jeffrey Holland made the following observation:

“Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times. As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth.”

This statement was based upon the Church’s on-going public relations survey taking, opinion polling, and focus group studies.  When I attended a valley wide leadership meeting, at which Elder Russell Ballard spoke, he mentioned that from the Church Office Building he had watched focus group discussions the day before which came in by video feeds from Chicago, Seattle, and several other cities (whose locations I do not recall).

When the Church changed its position and supported the same-sex attraction ordinance in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, the Church’s spokesman made the following public announcement of the Church’s reasons for the change: 
“There are going to be gay advocates who don’t think we’ve gone nearly far enough, and people very conservative who think we’ve gone too far; the vast majority of people are between those polar extremes and we think that’s going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness.” 

This is the language of opinion polling.  The words “going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness” are the words of social sciences.  The decision was not a “revelation” but a change in position based upon the polling which showed the position change could be safely made.  The Salt Lake Tribune made the following report on January 30, 2010:
“When Salt Lake City embraced anti-discrimination ordinances for gay and transgender residents last fall — snagging a landmark endorsement by the LDS Church and widespread support from city officials — more shifted than public policy. Public opinion — throughout Utah — jumped, too. Support for some gay rights, short of marriage, climbed 11 percentage points across the state from a year ago, according to a new Salt Lake Tribune poll, and shot up by 10 percent among Mormons. Two-thirds of Utahns (67 percent) favor employment protections and safeguards for same-sex couples such as hospital visitation and inheritance rights, up from 56 percent in January 2009, when pollsters asked the same question. (This year’s survey of 625 frequent Utah voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points; last year’s was 4.5 percent.) Opposition dropped, overall, from 40 percent to 23 percent. Among LDS respondents, it plummeted from 48 percent to 28 percent. ‘This isn’t a gradual change of attitudes. This is a fairly dramatic jump,’ says Matthew Burbank, chairman of the University of Utah’s political science department. ‘Clearly, the fact that the LDS Church was officially endorsing this position had an impact on people.’ A similar number of respondents, 66 percent, also say they support expanding Salt Lake City’s anti-discrimination policy — the first of its kind in Utah and already mimicked in Salt Lake County—throughout the state.”

Adam-ondi-Ahman

At the first great priesthood meeting held at Adam-ondi-Ahman, there was Adam, who conducted, and seven High Priests who were in attendance.  The “residue” of those who were present looked on, but the meeting involved these seven High Priests and Adam.
 
The appearance of the Lord at that meeting was an appearance to the eight, who were involved in the ceremony in which Adam’s calling and election was made sure.  The on-lookers who were present did not see the Lord, although they could sense something important was underway when the Lord “administered comfort” to Adam.  Only those who had been initiated into the High Priesthood were permitted to participate and to view the Lord as He appeared and ministered.  You can read about this event in D&C Section 107: 53-56.
 
We assume the great meeting to be held at Adam-ondi-Ahman in the future will involve a great crowd, and it may.  However, if it is a repetition of the pattern from the first, there will be a small number, perhaps only seven or eight, who will see the Lord, with the residue merely sensing something of importance is taking place.  (See my earlier post on Daniel’s visitation with the Lord.)

What have you seen lately?

Saturday my wife and I ate downtown in Salt Lake City.  Instead of taking the Interstate back home, we meandered back to State Street and then down State Street.  It was between 6:00 and 7:00 pm on a Saturday evening.  I was surprised to see that there were eight tattoo parlors open at that time, all of which had customers and some of which were quite crowded. 
 
I also saw that Salt Lake City hosted a three-day tattoo convention in February. 

Social and Cultural “Rights”

In the Church News there is an article about religious freedom being eroded by encroaching social and cultural “rights” which conflict with religious freedom.  The case of Perry v. Schwartzenegger in California, which challenges the Proposition 8 vote was cited by Elder Lance Wickman, the Church’s General Counsel (lawyer).  In that case the public’s decision to prohibit same-sex marriage is being challenged on the basis that voters cannot negate a fundamental right.
 
The Church is alarmed about the growing potential for conflict between social and cultural “rights” on the one hand, and the free exercise of religion on the other.
 
The deeper problem the Church has with their position on this legal conflict in California, is the position taken on the Salt Lake City ordinance the Church endorsed a several weeks ago.  In that decision, the Church announced that employment and housing were “fundamental rights” which same-sex attraction could not forfeit.  The Church endorsed the use of coercive governmental power to compel employers and property owners to permit homosexual employees and renters, upon pain of punishment by the Courts.  This was an extraordinary departure from past positions of the Church, and represented the first time the Church approved governmental compulsion against employers and property owners to protect homosexual conduct.
 
The effect of the Church’s change in view on the Salt Lake City ordinance was almost immediate.  A follow-on state-wide survey after the Church’s changed position showed that there was a dramatic shift in Utah’s view of tolerance toward homosexual behavior.  Essentially, Mormons all over Utah fell in line behind the Church’s new attitude.
 
Now the Church is attempting to sound the alarm about legal encroachment of cultural/social views (read homosexuality) into other areas which will inevitably conflict with religious liberty.  But the Church has already conceded the argument.   By extension of the Church’s position with respect to housing and employment, the only question to answer is what to define as a “fundamental right.”  If housing and employment, then why not marriage?  How does that distinction get made?  And if any judge, anywhere, or ultimately five of the nine Supreme Court Justices, decide that marriage is a “fundamental right,” then the result will follow that religion cannot prevent the practice.  And if religion cannot prevent the practice of this “fundamental right” to marry despite a couple’s homosexual orientation, then the LDS Church cannot prohibit or limit homosexual marriage practices anywhere.  Not even in their own marriage ceremonies.  For to do so would invade a “fundamental right” of the persons involved.
It will take time for the arguments to wend their way through the courts.  But ultimately the Church’s position on the “fundamental right” of homosexuals to be employed and housed without discrimination, using the coercive force of the government to protect that “right” against employers and property owners, will be the same reason the government will force the LDS Church to be coerced into acceptance of homosexual marriage.  The LDS Church’s own words/press release and public relations spokesman’s words will be the reason cited by the Court against the Church, at the time the decision is reached.  The Court will announce that the LDS Church has already recognized the need for governmental power to be used to protect fundamental rights of housing and employment.  The Court will rule the Church must, therefore, accept as a fundamental right marriage, as well.
 

Peculiar

The gentiles seem determined to end their reign. According to an announcement from the Church this week, missionary work is being shifted from European and North American populations into Latin and South America, Africa and Asia.

I’ve thought for some time that the failing conversion rates are the inevitable result of the “marketing” system being used by the Church. What distinguishes the Restoration from other faiths is our doctrine. We have been de-emphasizing doctrine for years. We try to seem more and more like another Christian faith. We aren’t. We are quite different. The reason to convert lies in our doctrinal differences.

No one is going to live the Latter-day Saint lifestyle who thinks that we are just another mainstream Christian church. To pay tithing, refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking and serve in Church leadership roles at considerable personal inconvenience and sacrifice requires our Church to be more than just another mainstream church. If that is all we are, most people (especially devoted people) are going to want an easier form of belief, like Methodism, Presbyterianism or Catholicism. If they offer the same doctrine as we do, then they will win.

I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe the doctrine. I am not a traditional Christian because I believe their creeds are false and they teach for doctrine the commandments of men. Unless someone comes to believe that, there is no reason to leave a traditional Christian denomination and become a Latter-day Saint.

Who can be a Seer?

I was asked recently.

“Who can become a seer?”

I answered this: You could probably substitute “seer” for “prophet” in Moses’ lament: “Would to God all men were [seers]”. The purpose of seership is the same as any other gift of the Spirit: to acquire knowledge of truth. And, assuming “God giveth liberally to all men,” as James promised us, it would follow this was among the things He intended all men to experience.

Read the description of the conditions of post-mortal residence in the presence of God given in Section 130. The “seership” experience there is commonplace. The “sea of glass,” or earth on which they dwell is a great Urim and Thummim, as well as the “white stone” given to them. The result is that ALL occupants of that sphere are seers. Accordingly, we should assume that we obtain our first instructions here to prepare us for living there. Seership, being necessary for life there, is something we ought to expect to be included in the Lord’s tutelage while we are all here.

ALL of us are to “covet the best gifts” on the one hand; and on the other “there is no gift greater” than seership. (That’s Paul and Ammon being quoted.) It follows necessarily, therefore, that we should be seeking to have some experience with this gift here in mortality.

After the Gold Rush

I’ve been a Neil Young fan since his Buffalo Springfield days. Among his acts of kindness over the years, he saved Lionel Trains from bankruptcy in 1995, because he is a model train fan. That affection grew from his relationship with his autistic son.

In any event, here is an A Cappella version of his After the Gold Rush song; one of the great anthems of modern rock. I found this on YouTube and thought it memorable.

Second Anointing

I’ve gotten numerous questions this last week on the subject of the “second anointing” or “second sealing.” This is not a subject which I think invites a lot of open discussion. I’ve intentionally avoided it in my books.

Here’s what I think is appropriate to explain:The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil is an explanation of what is required to get to the point you are prepared to meet the Lord. It is essentially a manual. It stops short of explaining what the Lord, in His on-going ministry to mankind, will do to prepare the individual for what comes next. That is His ministry. The Holy Ghost brings you to the Lord. The Lord brings you to the Father. That book was written to help you come to Him.

Beloved Enos is an explanation of what the results are, once someone has received the Lord’s ministry. It takes Enos’ record and uses it as a basis for the explanation.

Between the text of The Second Comforter and Beloved Enos, what is omitted is a description of the sacred ordinances involved in what is termed “the second anointing.” I do not feel inclined to go into that.

BYU Visit

I need to preface my remarks below with this: My son attended a Catholic High School for a year and had the wonderful experience of being in the minority there. I have lifelong friends who are Catholic. My family was Baptist and my sister remains a devoted Baptist. I have friends of many faiths, or no faith at all. Some friends have been LDS, and lost their faith altogether. Some have converted from LDS to Catholic. All these wonderful people are valued friends. I attend annually a Presbyterian service blessing the Scottish clans with a dear friend. My friendships have nothing to do with the friend’s faith.

Now, that having been said, I was down at BYU about a week ago. [While there, I was surprised to find that several of my books were for sale in the BYU Bookstore. Somehow I thought Benchmark Books in Salt Lake was THE local distributor.]

While walking about the campus I was reminded just how much I like being a Latter-day Saint. We’re quirky, even peculiar people. There’s a lot about us to laugh about. But underneath it all Latter-day Saints really try hard, in our strange way, to be good, decent people. The struggle to be that is met with frequent failure. But the exercise is good.

Devotion to any faith is good for the souls of mankind. In many ways we are not at all superior to other groups. I remember the talk given by Pres. Faust about the killings of the young girls in the Amish school a few years ago, which was followed by the compassion of the Amish victims’ families to the widow and children of the murderer. If we were to hold up a contemporary group in the United States who most succeed in living a Christ-like life, it would likely be the Amish. Nevertheless, I really like being a Latter-day Saint and in fellowshipping and struggling with my fellow Saint. I find it joyful. I love the Saints. Even as I sense very keenly our many shortcomings. For me, it is still joyful to live as a Latter-day Saint.