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In Reply to Inquiries

I know many (perhaps most) of those who will attend the Temple Conference are regular readers of this blog. The conference will be held in Logan at Utah State University. The total seating will allow approximately 320 to attend.

The fireside will be free. There is no requirement for you to either have a ticket, or to attend the conference to attend the fireside. It will be digitally recorded. The recording will be done by someone I trust, and they will be responsible for making it available once it has been finished.

Whether you attend the Temple Conference or not, you are welcome to attend the fireside. It is open to the public, and free of charge.

We originally reserved the Logan Tabernacle for the fireside. It is still reserved. However, given the difference between the conference, and the fireside, it appears likely it would be more convenient for fireside attendees if it is moved to the Wasatch Front. We have contracted for a 1,000 seat auditorium in Ogden and the plan is to hold the fireside there.

We estimate the fireside may have 350-400 attend. Therefore there should be ample seating.

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I want to clarify that I never post or write without using my name. If I comment on a news article or any other place, I always use my name. There are no anonymous or fictitious characters who are me in disguise. I do not do that.

Further on Quiet

Joseph Smith had been confined for months in Liberty Jail. It was a harrowing ordeal, made all the more so because of so little news about the saints. On March 24th, Joseph received letters from several friends, including his brother Don Carlos Smith, Bishop Partridge and his wife Emma.

The letters were welcomed, but sent Joseph’s mind racing in all directions as he considered the plight of his family, friends and the church. He wrote:

“[T]hose who have not been enclosed in the walls of a prison without cause or provocation, can have but little idea how sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling; it brings up in an instant everything that is passed; it seizes and present with the avidity of lightening; it grasps after the future with the fierceness of a tiger; it moves the mind backward and forward, from one thing to another…” (TPJS, p. 134.)

This frenzy of thought was provoked by the letters. It set his mind whirling. He was filled with emotion and with intensity of thought about it all: past, present and future. In this state of mind he was awakened to appreciate keenly these terrible events and his own captivity.

But it was in the quietness which followed where the spirit whispered to him and we received through him revelations now contained in the D&C. He continues:

“[U]ntil finally all enmity, malice and hatred, and past differences, misunderstandings and mismanagements are slain victorious at the feet of hope; and when the heart is sufficiently contrite, then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers–“ (TPJS, p. 134.)

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.” (D&C 121: 7-8.)

The voice comes so quietly Joseph uses “steals along” to tell of its arrival.

It speaks so gently Joseph uses “whispers” to describe the voice.

Quietness

Our dispensation opened on a “beautiful, clear day” in the woods in early spring 1820. (JS-H 1: 14.)

It jumped forward again in 1823, at night, after Joseph and his family had retired to bed. It was at this time when an angel came to visit him. (JS-H 1: 28-30.)

These towering events happened in quiet settings. It calls to mind Isaiah’s remark about quietness: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isa. 32: 17.)

I think also of Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians: “and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” (1 Thes. 4: 11.)

Why is being quiet a virtue worth acquiring?

Why is the effect of righteousness quietness?

Was it quiet when you had your most profound spiritual experience?

Have you ever known a deeply spiritual man or woman who could not be calm or quiet?

Upcoming Fireside

I’ve been asked about the upcoming fireside to be held on Sunday evening, October 28, 2012.

The fireside will occur somewhere in Northern Utah. When finalized, the details will be announced on this blog.

The fireside will focus on the temple and temple studies. The things I will discuss have meaning beyond the temple itself. I view the temple as a ritualized invitation to higher things. The presentation will extend into the nature of that invitation and the intended higher principles.

Answers to questions

Q: Why do you call the PEF a revelation?
A: The church has used that description. I have accepted the church’s vocabulary. Am I vile because I am willing to allow the church to control their own terminology?

Q: Doesn’t a revelation require “thus sayeth the Lord” and a transcript to be presented for approval by the church?
A: That has not been the practice for a long time. If the practice of limiting a “revelation” to something preceded by “thus sayeth the Lord” then some of Joseph Smith’s canonized teachings in the Doctrine & Covenants, and his personal testimony in the JS-H in the P of GP would be disqualified by the standard. Once again, I am allowing the church to control the vocabulary.

Q: Which is it, a divinely revealed program, or a poorly administered program?
A: Are the Ten Commandments a divine revelation even they have been poorly obeyed since the days of Moses? Is the Sermon on the Mount a divinely revealed elaboration on the Ten Commandments clarifying that it is what is in your heart that matters most, even though it has rarely been obeyed since the time of Christ? If God reveals a standard, as he has done many times, and men fail to reach the standard, does that mean God did not give a revelation?

Nephi’s Isaiah

Nephi states straightforwardly why he uses the Isaiah material in his own prophecy. It is in Nephi’s record, but the statement comes from his brother Jacob. Nephi records what is apparently his brother’s first address.

The stage is set for the sermon in 2 Nephi Chapter 5. Here we learn of the construction of a temple by the Nephites. The temple dedication ceremonies are left out of the account. It is an interesting omission. By chapter 6 the temple is in service.

Jacob’s sermon could very well have been both the event marking the commissioning of the temple, and the first sermon delivered to the people in the structure. Nephi put this into his account because he obviously approved of the sermon and wanted it preserved for all time.

Jacob states this:
“the words which I shall read are they which Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel; wherefore, they may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel. And there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel.” (2 Ne. 6: 5.)
-What does “likened unto you” mean?
-Is there a difference between something literal and being “likened?”
-Does that difference matter?
-What about the limitation Isaiah spoke about “all the house of Israel?”
-Does the Book of Mormon designation of the European bloodlines that would displace the Lamanites as “gentiles” disqualify the gentiles from “likening” the words to them?
-Does the Book of Mormon promise that the gentiles can be “numbered” with the house of Israel allow the same “likening” to apply to the converted gentiles? (2 Ne. 10: 18; 3 Ne. 16: 13; 3 Ne. 21: 6; 3 Ne. 30: 2.)

Assuming the words can be “likened” to you, then what does that mean? Are the words to be taken as an analogy to guide us or as a promise given to us?

Jacob explains the analogy he wants to draw to the Nephites beginning in 2 Nephi Chapter 9. It is instructive.

Nephi ‘went to school’ on his younger brother’s example. He fills 2 Nephi with Isaiah’s words. Then, in the closing chapters of his book, he provides his own commentary. He ends his record in this manner. With all he had seen, with all he knew, and with all he was told to withhold from us, he uses Isaiah as his basis to teach, preach, exhort and expound to us. Much of it is addressed directly to the “gentiles” of our day. He applies Isaiah to the gentiles.

A great key to understanding Nephi’s prophecy is that he used Isaiah’s words as a tool to deliver his (Nephi’s) message. Using Isaiah’s intent will not help you. It is irrelevant. You must use Nephi’s interpretive keys in his closing chapters to understand Nephi’s intent in “likening” the prophecy to his people and to the latter-day gentiles. This is why I wrote Nephi’s Isaiah. You will be disappointed if you think it is an interpretation of Isaiah. It is not. The book is about Nephi’s message, not the words he employed to “liken” unto us. If you accept this approach you don’t need my book. You only need Nephi’s words.

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As a postscript about the Perpetual Education Fund:

When President Hinckley announced it in the April 2001 General Conference he said the following:
“they will return that which they have borrowed together with a small amount of interest designed as an incentive to repay the loan.”

This was the original intent.

I’ve received many emails explaining the way the original program was compromised and poorly administered. I acknowledge there may be problems with how it turned out. But that is the responsibility of the employees at the Church Office Building. Those problems do not reflect the purity of intent by the church members who donated. I think there are a lot of people in the bowels of the Church Office Building who have performed poorly for the church. Since these are funds given by faithful members, there is a responsibility which hasn’t been kept by some of these employees. 

Upcoming General Conference

I’ve heard from several sources that Elder Russell M. Nelson has announced to a number of Stake Presidents that President Thomas S. Monson has received a revelation that will affect every man, woman, and child in the church. This revelation is supposed to be announced in the upcoming general conference.

The last great revelatory program introduced in general conference was the Perpetual Education Fund announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. That program is profoundly Christ-like.

During His ministry, Christ blessed lives in practical ways. He cured lepers; allowing them to return to society. He cured blindness; rescuing the blessed from darkness. He cured the lame; liberating them from physical captivity. His goodness conferred life-changing blessings, making practical changes to the lives of those he blessed.

Similarly, the Perpetual Education Fund has conferred practical, life-changing blessings. It mirrors the way Christ blessed people.

Not all beneficiaries of the Perpetual Education Fund have repaid their interest-free loans. Not all have remained active in the church. That is of no consequence. The goodness of the program is in the giving of the blessing. It does not matter whether those who are blessed are grateful. The church’s (our) acts of Christ-like generosity is unchanged whether the beneficiary ever returns to thank us. Nine of the ten lepers never thanked the Lord. There is little evidence in the scriptures of the many who were healed by the Lord then becoming faithful disciples. The program is Christ-like. Its greatness consists in conferring a blessing. The Lord gives the sunshine and rain to all, the good and the bad. Very few are grateful to Him for that. It does not stop Him from being good and continuing in sustaining us all from moment to moment.

I encourage all to listen to upcoming general conference.

A number of clarifications from this week

It is impossible in a short post to ever discuss any subject completely. For the most part, all posts are a abbreviated ideas to cause anyone who reads this to think. I want the reader to turn ideas over in their own minds, and reach their own conclusion, after hopefully being provoked to thought by what I say. It is a mistake to think because I have said one thing that I have then said everything.

To illustrate and hopefully clarify, and certainly cause further thought, I want to add the following comments. These are taken from input I received this week from some of you.
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I pray to the Father in the name of the Son. In my mind I think of the Father. I let heaven speak to my heart concerning that name-title and I do not presume to have the right to tell anyone what comes into my mind. I also thank the Father for the sacrifice of His Son.

I would add that “El” is singular. “Elohim” is plural. In Abraham 3, there is a group identified as “the noble and great.” The noble and great are the “we” who are to prove “them.” This is in Abraham 3.

When the matter is settled, in chapter 4 of Abraham, that “we” or “the noble and great” commence the creation, and that group throughout Abraham 4 are continually referred to as “the Gods.” The English term “the Gods” captures the same idea as the Hebrew word “Elohim.”

If you have not read The First Three Words of the Endowment, you may want to do so. **
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It would be an astonishing, but not completely unprecedented, if one of the “sons of God” were to fall away. Were that to happen, the heavens would weep over him.
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When Christ says that no man “comes unto the Father but by [Him]”, this implicitly means that Christ will at some point take you to His Father.

When Christ promised not to leave us “comfortless”, he added that “my Father will love him, and we come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23). Joseph Smith added “the appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old secterian notion, and is false.” (D&C 130: 3).

Joseph affirms he “saw two Personages.”

It is more important that you come unto Christ and you allow Him to teach you these things. Pray to the Father in His name, ask Him, listen to Him. It is Christ alone who is responsible for the salvation of each of us. Read the scriptures carefully. In fact, if you will pray and study your scriptures diligently, He will open up to your mind the meaning of the more mysterious passages and use the words of the Prophets found in our scriptures to answer your questions. Do much more of that. There is no man who is a substitute for Jesus Christ. **
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I agree that the purpose of keys, and in particular priesthood keys, is to confer an authoritative invitation to the recipient from God.
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I would not encourage anyone to leave the church. It was commissioned by and still authorized by God. The majority has always had a divine preference and protecting hand. Splinter groups have always dwindled or fallen into abuse and corruption. The August 1844 vote in Nauvoo was the right of the saints under the Lord’s law of “common consent.” I believe the Lord did accept the vote. Whatever shortcomings that generation had, they were only like all of humanity. Our Lord suffered for all imperfect people. But He also will discipline and correct us, even if He needs to use a rod to do so.
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In my thinking, a “President” or a “candidate to be the President” is a figure head. Once a man is elected to be the President of the United States, he is referred to as “the “Administration.” I believe there is a great difference between a man, on the one hand, and “the President of the United States”, or “the Administration”, on the other.

Let me see if I can illustrate the point.

I think President Jimmy Carter was a failure. I think he was an embarrassment as an administration throughout the world. President Jimmy Carter made so many errors that in my mind I have little hesitation in thinking of him as foolish. In short, my regard for President Jimmy Carter borders on exasperation and deep disappointment.

In contrast, the man Jimmy Carter is principled, devoted, and admirable. As a man he possesses basic goodness. I think he is good-hearted.

Bear that distinction in mind. My comments concerning Mitt Romney had nothing to do with the man, and everything to do with the “the candidate”, and the representative of a proposed “new Administration.” Like Jimmy Carter, if I change the topic from the Candidate, to the man Mitt Romney, it’s a different topic.

If you watched the GOP convention, before Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech, there were many who had the opportunity to describe Mitt Romney, the man. He is a compassionate and exemplary Mormon bishop. He rendered kind, compassionate and loving support to members of his ward while he was bishop and for years afterwards. While those people were speaking, the camera panned the audience. There were many in the audience who were moved to tears as they listened to those people speak. Mitt Romney, the man, seems to me to be an example of how all bishops should be. More than that, he seems to be an example of what all of us should be.

When I said that I wish Mitt Romney did not represent my faith, I had exclusive reference to “the candidate” and not the man.

I know you cannot read my mind. So that is probably my communication failure. As to Mitt Romney the man, I am grateful he is a member of my faith.

I could write pages more. I am only offering a glimpse.
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When I am in the voting booth, (and I always vote) I have never voted for evil. Therefore, I have never voted for the “lesser of two evils.”

While I don’t think it is anyone’s business, over the years I have voted for, among other people, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, written in Lee Iacocca and former LDS church historian, Marlin Jensen. As I cast these votes, I always thought I voted for someone who would be wise and good.

That post did not represent a decision about anything. That post represented musings I thought might be helpful to others.

In addition, I hoped there would be some few who might read that post and detect some layers. For anyone who would be open to the idea, I think you could well consider those musings to be about you, me, or all of us. What ultimately turns into the “Administration” almost always reflects quite accurately a collective decision. In other words, we always give the power to the “Administration” that we deserve to have lead us.

We have made thousands of decisions, and cast millions of votes to place the Candidate Romney at the head of a political party. That is us.

**[There is nothing inconsistent in these two statements. If you can’t understand it, it is because you will not ask and allow God to enlighten your mind. Remember, I am not trying to get you to understand what I understand. I am trying to get you to open your heart, your mind; look to heaven for guidance and get answers to anything you don’t understand.]

“Leaning” Romney

I am not particularly political. Political partisanship is generally a distraction from what our problems really are. Once you have become partisan you tend to ignore the merits of the other side, as well as the mistakes of your own side.

We must all become converted in our hearts to Jesus Christ. If we have Christ in our hearts, all else will follow. Joseph Smith’s comment that he “teaches them correct principles and they govern themselves” was not just a casual statement. It was the confidence a prophet of God in the ability of people to know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong. Even if they err, they would get closer to the correct course by considering the principles they had been taught than by assessing the argument or immediate decision before them.

When a man is converted to truth, correct principles, and true doctrine, such a man has no difficulty stating in simple, but clear terms, the truth which inhabits his heart.

Mitt Romney has been running to be the President of the United States for 5 years now. In all of that time, I find myself unconvinced that his heart is filled with sound, true, heartfelt principles and doctrines. Why can’t he set forth in plainness true economic doctrine as well as I can? His background should qualify him to speak with greater plainness about the truths of economic freedom and the principles of economic growth better than I can. He does not. At times he is almost incoherent.

There are fundamental and universal God-given principles for the preservation of the freedom of mankind. Madison, Monroe, Jefferson, Washington, Mason, and the great John Adams could all state with clarity and simplicity, with the beauty that persuades you to your very core, these God-given truths. Why is Mitt Romney unable to do so?

In his first term, President Obama experimented with turning a soft hand to the Muslim world. It was something new. Although it failed, the virulent critics immediately labeled it “an apology tour.” No one had any idea how the Cairo speech might move the Muslim hearts. Instead of condemning and even rooting for its failure, we should have prayed to God that our President would move the Muslim world. We should have asked God to soften the hearts of our enemies. We should asked God to embolden our friends. Instead we withheld our sustaining prayers, and in contempt, we let the matter proceed to its now complete failure.

Thinking upon the failure of that experiment, I recall how clearly Richard Nixon articulated, and Henry Kissinger elaborated, on the effective policy of projecting national strength to our enemies. Whatever terrible flaws Richard Nixon had, he was convinced to his core, and able to persuasively articulate the truth of national power in the international arena. After our national humiliation under Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan was elected in very large part because he could speak the principles of American power persuasively, convincingly, and from his heart.

Mitt Romney is unable to do this.

As I listen to Mitt Romney speak about any topic, principle, or true doctrine, he seems hollow. He sounds more like a spokesman for the opinions of others than a man speaking from his heart. He sounds like the chairman of a committee. He sounds like he is trying to use focus group phrases. He seems to be using the results of opinion polls to formulate his public statements. In short, he seems more like an artificial life form then a principled, true-hearted, complete convert to God given truths, proven economic doctrines, and historically successful foreign policy.

This leaves me wondering:
-It is not “who” but rather “what” am I electing?
-Is this a man with a true and converted heart and soul, or is this a weather vane prepared to be tossed to and fro with every wind of shifting opinion?
-Is he, as I suspect, double-minded and unstable as water?

If opinions shift on something which is absolutely fundamental and God-given to preserve man’s freedom, will that popularity shift cause him to surrender such a principle?

Why should I regard him as something more than an empty suit espousing, without the conviction I can feel in my own heart, the results of market driven research?

I am “leaning” Romney. That is because I believe all of the quantitative easing has not worked and has hurt us all very much. This I could explain with simplicity, but that’s beyond this post. I believe President Obama’s soft approach foreign policy has utterly failed. I believe the stock market is over-priced, and nothing more than a politically manipulated show piece for the President’s sake. I believe shutting down the pipeline was an act completely contrary to our national interest, and has resulted in increased gas prices to every American. Mitt Romney criticizes each of these things. But he sounds more like a puppet than a man of principle with a converted heart. To me, if in the end I vote for Mitt Romney, it will only be as a choice of the lesser of two evils. How I wish he were not Mormon. I think he represents the religion of conviction, devotion, and true principles (the ones which reside in my heart) in such an embarrassingly weak way that if taken as an example of our people should engender contempt and disrespect. He is like the progressively less principled Joel Osteen. As Mr. Osteen’s  popularity has risen, and his wealth has increased (he now lives in a $10 million dollar home) the principles he used to preach have eroded, softened, and been abandoned. He is a living example of the very problem Mitt Romney’s behavior now puts on display.

May God have mercy on us all. May we all look to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, for our salvation – both temporal and spiritual. Even so, Amen.