Conference updates

The upcoming Top of the Mountains conference in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho will be live streamed on the Internet after all. Conference organizers have managed to accomplish providing that service. My talk will be live at this link: Conference Talk

All of the other talks will likewise be live streamed and the Conference website has links and information about all of those at this link: Top of the Mountains Conference

There is also a Conference scheduled on July 10-12 focusing on Emma Smith. That conference information/website is linked here: Remembering Emma-Mothers in Zion That conference will be held in Grand Junction, Colorado.

80 years on

June 6, 1944 was D-Day, now 80 years ago. Few of those who participated are still alive. My father, who was among those who were sent to Omaha Beach, died in 1994, a few months before the 50th anniversary of D-Day. I was alone with him in the hospital the night before his death and as he approached the last day of his life he reflected on all those who died that day. He was reluctant to discuss Omaha Beach, and only gave short answers to our many questions over the years. But that night he was pondering all the years his life had continued when so many lives of those he knew ended on that June 6th. He spoke openly about the day for the first time I can recall.

I hiked today with two of my daughters, and we talked about their grandfather and D-Day. It is hard for us to even imagine the events of that day. Both my daughters mentioned the opening moments of Saving Private Ryan.

My father told me about seeing one GI whose arm had been blown off who was on the beach carrying his severed arm in his other hand. When Spielberg filmed the landing on Omaha Beach he included that detail. I was surprised by it being in the film, but later learned that before starting the film he had interviewed survivors to get details of that day. Many of the details in that opening scene were things I previously heard described by my father.

My father died 4 years before Saving Private Ryan was released and I’m not sure he could have endured seeing that day depicted so graphically on film.

I had a cheerful, witty and upbeat father. He loved life and was never at a loss to see something positive in each day. He had a bird feeder outside the kitchen window that attracted a variety of birds that he appreciated watching. In hindsight I realize as he approached dying his reflection on those who died that June day had always informed his life. He lived grateful. And I am, and think I have always been, grateful for him.

Youth Retreat July 17-22

A 2024 Youth Retreat is planned and a website is now up where you can register to attend. Because of last year’s flood of late registrations, and the difficulties in getting food and other needed supplies in a last-minute scramble, this year registration in advance is necessary and must be done by June 7th.

Please go to the website linked here and register if you plan to attend: Youth Retreat 2024

Fidelity in marriage

At some point Lehi gave a commandment to his children that does not get mentioned until his son Jacob added his own record. Jacob wrote: “they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord which was given unto our father, that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.” RE Jacob 2:11.

Jacob mentions this inside a message about the ultimate Nephite fate. He reports the Lamanites obeyed that commandment given to Lehi, but the Nephites were disobedient, and instead recklessly practiced permissive behavior described as “whoredoms” that had “broken the hearts of your tender wives and lost the confidence of your children.” Id., @ 9.

It is because of the Nephite violation of marital fidelity and rebellion against greater light that the Nephites were to ultimately be destroyed while the Lamanites would suffer no such destruction. “Wherefore, because of this observance in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them, and one day they shall become a blessed people. Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands, and their husbands and their wives love their children.” Id., @ 11. This Lamanite virtue merited God’s mercy for all generations that would follow.

Now think about this contrast. The Nephites had prophets, scripture, a correct tradition, ongoing revelation, visitations by angels, and even were visited by the Lord. But they had no promise of being preserved. On the other hand, because of their obedience to the commandment about marriage, and spouses loved one another, they were promised to be preserved while the Nephites were condemned to destruction. The Nephites had “greater light” and it served only to condemn them because they rebelled against it.

That is a remarkable thing to me. And it reinforces the significance (the eternal significance) of how we behave in our marriages.

Zion

I’ve heard rumors and gotten assurances about Zion and thought I ought to share the intelligence I’ve gained from these divergent sources. We know it won’t be in Jackson County, Missouri. So that leaves so many options.

I’ve been led to understand that in the Bighorn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyoming there is a Medicine Wheel that clearly has some foretelling of Zion. So I’ve heard it’s going to be there.

But then I heard that almost on the same alignment in New Mexico there is Chaco Canyon which has tremendous good vibrations and an Indigenous people’s history that must have something to do with Nephites and a future connected with Zion.

But I have several friends who promise me that it will be on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona where one of the mesa’s was always intended for Zion.

There are already people in Mt. Pleasant, Utah waiting for construction to commence on Zion. So it is probably there, I’m told.

But, the absolutely most likely, clearly inevitable place must be in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho where there have been conferences in the past and one planned for next month. So Challis is the place… maybe.

However, I’m also being told that Sandpoint Idaho is far more likely as it is situated in the Northern Idaho Banana Belt of the Pacific flow.

Well, maybe the idea is far less a matter of geography and far more a matter of people of one heart and one mind who can live together in peace. Maybe if you could find those folks you could just set it up right there… If only.

Rules

As a new religious society, we have very few rules. There is no organization, and only occasional temporary committees formed to accomplish tasks, like conferences, compiling scriptures, gathering a selection of hymns, and on occasion women’s councils to deal with inappropriate conduct.

The more fractured and quarrelsome people are, the more need there is for rules and order. Less fractured and more united people need few, if any, rules.

Friends do not interrupt their friendship to impose rules on one another. Friends get along by virtue of the relationship itself.

The very few rules provided to us by the Lord suggests to me that we are expected to become the kind of people who do not need external rules in order to deal with one another in a kindly, cooperative way. After all, if there is ever to be another City of Peace then it should not be founded through a rigid structure controlled by a hierarchy. We have no record of the social order that tied the City of Enoch together. That should tell us something important about them.

And the people of Melchizedek are only briefly described as formerly sinful people who repented. Then they were taken to heaven.

When the Nephite society became unified the record covers hundreds of years in a single, very short book less than four pages long. But in those very few words about their society it is mentioned four times that there was “no contention” among them.

There is something profound implied by the near-absence of rules provided by the Lord to us. There is also something very profound revealed in the angry disapproval, religious condemnation, and ongoing debate that accompanies any effort to follow the very little guidance given to us. I’ve tried to stay out of those arguments, but have not been oblivious to them. I’m confident the Lord is also keenly aware of how we treat one another and how few of us really do: “Measure our words before giving voice to them, and consider the hearts of others.” T&C 157:53.

YSA Retreat Planned

I’ve been asked to put this announcement up:

This year the YA online fellowship is planning a Young Single Adult retreat in Island Park Idaho on August 16-19th. Those in the 18-30 age range are invited to attend.

We are so excited for a fun and uplifting weekend of fellowship at a beautiful cabin in Island Park, ID. We are looking forward to learning more about Christ with one another, spending time in nature, meeting new friends and knitting our hearts together. Activities include visiting West Yellowstone, hiking, movie nights, game nights, bonfires, lake activities, scripture/gospel discussion, and more.

Fill out the brief survey below if you are interested in attending and want to receive updates about trip details, even if you are unsure you can come. Please submit your response by May 4th, 2024. 

https://forms.gle/opQKjKyoTijHSpE57

(Submitting the form does not mean you have to be 100% committed, we are gathering interest! We will send out an official registration form at a later date.)

There will be a fee to cover the cost of lodging, food, park fees, etc. Right now, we estimate this will be in the range of $90-100 per person. We will be sending out updates as we plan.

Organizers hope to see you there!

NY Conference

I want to thank those who organized the recent conference in New York. It was very well organized, the venues were outstanding, and the effort really paid off for those able to attend. Although it was originally planned for Kirtland, Ohio and had to be relocated, the historic area made more sense than even the original chosen site. This may have been the best organized conference to date.

Those who organize conferences bear the costs and burdens of the event. I appreciate their sacrifices and really was impressed by this one. It was a long way to travel, and certainly there were many people who could not attend who would have liked to have been there. But for those who were able to participate, it was well organized, well planned, and very appreciated.

My wife and I visited EB Grandin’s print shop in Palmyra, the Smith Family house, Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, Peter Whitmer farm, Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario while there. We even walked across the bridge into Canada and ate lunch there during the visit.

The talk by Adrian Larsen is now up on YouTube: And Then Will I Remember My Covenant Which I Have Made. The talk I gave is also up on YouTube: The Holy Order, Part 2. The discussion by my wife (and me-but mostly her) is also up on YouTube: Topics to Consider.

I was at the full eclipse of 2017 in the path of totality, where the sun was visible throughout the event. But this eclipse happened with an overcast sky, and the sun was not clearly visible. From my point of view, the total eclipse with a cloud cover was much more dramatic and sobering to experience. It came like a thief in the night, because as long as any portion of the sun was not obstructed, it remained day-time and well lit. But when totality happened night fell abruptly, and the day ended. It was as if a day, a night, and a day passed in a single session. The only light during totality was at the distant horizon where it appeared a new sunrise was underway. It was quite remarkable. Experiencing totality first with a visible sun and then later with a cloud cover were both remarkable, but I preferred seeing the second one to the first.

Update: Holy Order, Part 2 paper

The paper version of The Holy Order, Part 2 has been updated. There were two typos that needed to be fixed, and I’ve added a new footnote (Footnote 26) to clarify something that apparently has been misunderstood. I thought the explanation that prohibited “vain ambition” or “gratifying pride” was clear enough, but apparently the reference to Abraham “seeking and willing” has led to a misunderstanding. Footnote 26 explains: “It should not be understood that his seeking and willingness implied any sense of aspiring or ambition. That was not in [Abraham’s] character. He did not go to Melchizedek asking for ordination, but showed only those attributes to God. God chose him. God identified him to Melchizedek.”

I’d like to leave this subject alone now. What has been said should be enough, and the scriptures can provide answers if you search them now that this paper has been provided.

New York Conference

This coming weekend in New York there will be a conference. It is referred to as the Remnant Eclipse Conference and the schedule is linked here: Eclipse Conference Schedule

I will speak on Sunday in a follow-up talk from seven years ago. That first talk was titled The Holy Order and this coming conference talk will be titled The Holy Order, Part 2.

The subject of The Holy Order is probably unfamiliar to many Mormons in all the various Latter-day churches. It is completely unknown to all the traditional Christian denominations, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. The earlier talk began unraveling the topic, and this follow-up will take the topic further. The Holy Order is certainly obscure, although it has been and remains quite important to God’s plan. It was here at the beginning and must return at the end. Joseph Smith’s comments about Adam-ondi-Ahman only make sense in the context of the return of The Holy Order. But Joseph was never able to provide a full explanation, and so these talks are intended to fill in missing parts of the picture.

Following the conference the paper (The Holy Order, Part 2) will be put up as a downloadable pdf document on this website.

Hymns Announcement

I’ve been asked to put this announcement up and am pleased to do so:

Hymn Project Notice and Requests Notice

Emma Smith was commanded to put together a hymn book for the saints.

“And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”

Like many aspects of the restoration effort done in Joseph’s time, Emma’s hymns have largely been forgotten or cast aside. As in the days of Emma, songs were a means to remind the saints of God’s promises and were used to reinforce beliefs particular to or representative of the restoration of truth. Emma used original songs and also adapted familiar Christian tunes to reflect the work of the Lord in that day. We believe this is as important to us now as it was then. Though many people use songs online to worship, we believe the day will come when a written hymn book reflective of the covenant and truth restored will be of great worth.

A group of people are working on a hymn books project to fulfill this for our day. This will be comprised of at least two volumes, possibly more. The first one will have many original songs from people who have taken the covenant, that are representative of our desire to preserve the restoration, sing about correct doctrine, worship Christ, etc.. We will also include some old favorites that we feel will enhance our worship. The book will feature songs in several styles: Traditional hymns, songs to teach children, contemporary worship songs, and sacrament songs. At present most submitted songs will be put in the book, as our belief is if it touches one – it will touch others. Not all people like the same kinds of music so the variety is good. All the songs have piano and guitar notation. We hope that those who don’t have pianos can use a guitar for accompaniment.

We currently have about 75 songs and have many more coming in volume one. We anticipate we will have between 100- 150. We will add more songs or volumes while we can.

The second volume will be focused on Emma’s hymns. There are many hymns in this category so it too could be more than one volume of songs.

Requests

  1. Please send any original songs you may have (which you would like to be included in this publication) to [email protected]. Your sending the song permits us to use the song in these volumes of work.
  2. Requests for familiar favorites are also welcome. These must be copyright-free (or used with permission from the composer).
  3. Many public domain tunes can have restoration words put to them. Feel free to write words you feel represent the restoration and put it to the music you have chosen. Again, send these to [email protected]
  4. If you can help notate music on a computer, locate songs, or want to help in any way, please contact us. [email protected]
  5. We would like to have a music conference when this is finished or tie into another conference, with the hope that we have time to teach many of the new songs. We are hoping someone who is organizing a conference will reach out to us if they can incorporate the presentation of the hymn book (s). We think the timing will be perfect for the fall conference.

To fully appreciate the scope of this work, we hope adequate time will be spent in worshipping through music at this conference. We anticipate that some of the songs could be sung as musical numbers that are learned by individuals/groups before the conference and many others as congregational hymns. It would be nice to have some youth learn some of the “teaching songs” included in volume one and present them at the conference. It would be fun to experiment with different styles of presentation as well. For instance, Kurt F. Kammeyer stated this about the Kirkland Temple Dedication and Emma’s Hymns.

“The placing of the choir in the four corners of the hall might seem to be a logistical nightmare nowadays; but for those accomplished shape-note singers in 1836, it was merely a variation on the usual ‘hollow box’ singing school arrangement. The four sections (treble, alto, tenor, bass) were probably seated as sections in each of the four corners, while Brother Davis led them from somewhere near the center of the hall, in the best ‘fasola’ tradition. The effect must have been quite stunning, as the congregation was in effect surrounded by the choir.

It is apparent from the dedication program that the Saints wasted no time in putting their brand-new hymnals to use. Every hymn sung at the dedication was taken from the new hymnal. They were eager to follow the counsel of Emma Smith when she stated in her preface that

‘Notwithstanding the church, as it were, is still in its infancy, yet, as the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, it is sincerely hoped that the following collection, selected with an eye single to his glory, may answer every purpose till more are composed, or till we are blessed with a copious variety of the songs of Zion.”

  1. Can you please reach out to us and let us know if you have an interest in the hymn book for home use, in a conference where songs are sung or presented, or again if you can help?
  2. If tying into the fall conference won’t work, is there someone who would like to help plan a music conference?

Of course, any conference to present the music will be dependent on the interest and help we can get. Thank you. We hope this work will prove to be a blessing in the end.

There will be a hymns project website. It is currently up but still under construction. TheHymns.info

Shouting from rooftops…

Almost all people keep their misdeeds secret, hoping their undeserved reputation for goodness is never tarnished by their private stuff getting exposed. But Christ said that would not work. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, for there is nothing covered which shall not be revealed, neither hidden which shall not be known. Therefore, whatever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light, and that which you have spoken in the ear, in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” NC Luke 8:18

I’ve heard about recent fighting among us that has become public. Sources reporting about our belligerence include not only local people through texts, emails, phone calls, and private conversations, but also from people in Europe, Canada, and the Far East. I’ve been sent links to websites where cross-complaints and ‘dirty laundry’ have been published for anyone interested to read. I’ve read some dramatic stuff!

When the last day comes and there are private failures shouted from the rooftops, at least no one will be interested in hearing from our group. All of our stuff is out in public, and often times portrayed in the worst possible light.

We apparently don’t let a balanced story to be heard when we rail on one another, but prefer to evaluate each other as narrowly, stringently, and judgmentally as possible. So in the last day, I doubt anyone will be interested in gathering by our roofs, but will instead mosey along to the other rooftops where the unexposed, carefully concealed, and surprising conduct of our critics will be proclaimed.

As we go about our indiscreet treatment of one another, I think there are at least a couple of things that might be worth considering. Joseph Smith gave advice to people conducting disciplinary councils in a meeting on July 11, 1840. I think his advice then is suitable for considering today: “That the Council should try no case without both parties being present or having had an opportunity to be present neither should they hear one parties complaint before his case is brought up for trial— neither should they suffer the character of any one to be exposed before the High Council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself—that the minds of the Councellors be not prejudiced for or against any one whose case they may possibly have to act upon.” (As quoted from JSP Minutes, online, footnote omitted, spellings as in original.)

In a recent post I invited those I’ve offended to let me know and I was pleased to hear from a few folks. I know there are many times when I could/should have done better, communicated more clearly, taken more time, and shown more courtesy. I’ve never felt equal to what I’ve been asked to do, but I’ve tried and continue to try with all my heart to obey the Lord. There are a lot of disappointments along the way. But that is due to my own unrealistic expectations more than anything else.

The work of the Lord is continuing apace. There have been some amazing things accomplished that are far, far greater than I could have done alone. Much more will be accomplished this year as we soldier on together. We have enough within our group to finish what must still be accomplished. Perhaps we even have too many people now involved. At least too many to gather together into one body without contention, jarring and polluting the place like they did, and have continued doing, in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Utah. (See T&C 101:2: “Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore, by these things they polluted their inheritances.”)

It is a very good thing, even a necessary requirement, that we let each other know truthfully about one another. Hidden resentments and suppressed offenses will come out in time. Eventually they will be shouted from the rooftops. To get ahead of that, we ought to be telling one another directly about how we have mistreated or offended one another. Things need to be put behind us if we expect to live in peace with each other. We’ve begun that. Let’s continue to do so. However, while reconciling and addressing wrongs is absolutely necessary, there is always the question about how to do that

There is some reason to believe that private offenses, even if they involve a few people rather than a single individual, ought to be addressed directly and privately. So we might consider ending our own shouting, climbing down off the roof, and inviting one another into the living room to talk about the offenses, when it seems appropriate. “And if your brother offend you, you shall take him between him and you alone, and if he confess, you shall be reconciled. And if he confess not, you shall take another with you, and then if he confess not, you shall deliver him up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting and that not before the world. And if your brother offend many, he shall be chastened before many. And if anyone offend openly, he shall be rebuked openly that he may be ashamed. And if he confess not, he shall be delivered up unto the Law. If any shall offend in secret, he shall be rebuked in secret, that he may have opportunity to confess in secret to him whom he has offended and to God, that the brethren may not speak reproachfully of him.” T&C 27:5.

Monsters…

I had planned to add to the “Not Automatic” post I last put up, but something more important needs to be addressed. The idea that a group of people can one day gather together in peace, and gain such favor with the Lord that He will bring back Zion, has distracted us from our responsibilities. Zion is a result. Results are distracting, and not really possible. Instead of expecting a result, we need to participate in the process.

I’ve written and I’ve spoken about lofty, even holy things. But that seems futile while we insist on making monsters of one another.

If someone offends me, it is my responsibility to confront the offender and let them know exactly what they did to offend. I owe it to them. If I have not confronted him and set out clearly his offense then I have done him a disservice and have failed in my duty. “And if your brother offend you, you shall take him between him and you alone, and if he confess, you shall be reconciled.” T&C 27:5.

When offended I need to explain to the offender what they did, why it offended, and explain that the injury or offense has harmed me. If he does something offensive and I fail to directly call him out on it, in time he will become a monster as the misconduct continues and inevitably escalates. If that process is to be interrupted and reversed, it requires me to bring it directly and personally to his attention.

When, instead of confronting the offender, I go about complaining to others, then those others are brought into the sad cycle of gossip and character assassination. This is why the first indispensable step is for me to “take him between him and [me] alone” to address the matter. Then, “if he confesses, [we] shall be reconciled.” This is not optional. This is mandatory. And if followed will reconcile the offender with the offended.

When we fail to address the offense directly with the offender, we let the offender grow worse. When we tolerate it for years it grows into monstrous behavior.

Talking about other people’s offenses without confronting them directly makes us monsters also. We accuse, condemn, belittle and spread alarm between others and reap the corrosive reward. We degenerate into a community of angry, divided, quarrelsome, bickering, jarring, contentious, and strife-driven people who cannot live in peace because we inevitably pollute any inheritance the Lord would give us. This process went unchecked in the Jaredite and Nephite people described in the Book of Mormon. Over time it turned into violence, destruction and annihilation.

There are many critics looking on our embryonic group that are entertained by our conflicts. We have to pass through this stage before we can mature into something more fitted to peaceful coexistence. They criticize us while they are not attempting that necessary step. If they ever make an attempt, they will encounter exactly the same challenges we face in the development into equality. Other religious communities submit to control by their hierarchy. They depend on supervision, and cannot attain equality. They conceal their conflicts. We need to expose ours and address them in a godly way that improves the offender and matures the offended.

We are far ahead in development by addressing our weaknesses. Even if we do it openly, awkwardly and improperly, it is a monumental step to face our weaknesses. No community will ever live in peace with one another if they hide their failures, substitute flattery for candor, and leave iniquity unexposed to the daylight. But the failures should not become fuel for gossip. They should be brought directly to the attention of the offender. The iniquity should not be advertised behind the offender’s back, but should be laid before the offender to be addressed.

Those who gossip injure far more people by their cowardly failure to follow the mandate that, “if your brother offend you, you shall take him between him and you alone, and if he confess, you shall be reconciled.” It is almost impossible for one man to offend dozens directly. It is almost inevitable for one gossip to offend dozens directly.

I have no doubt offended others. I’d like to hear directly from them.