Sunday, February 28, 2010


On Friday Marie Osmond's son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

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.

Missionaries in Chile

According to this morning's Deseret News, all LDS missionaries in the affected areas of Chile are safe and accounted for.  My wife suggested that there are readers outside Utah who may want news like that put onto the blog.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Becoming One

The idea of being "one" (as Christ put it in His great Intercessory Prayer in John 17: 20-23) has been oftentimes misunderstood and the source of abuse.  There should be nothing compulsory about this process.  "Oneness" is a byproduct, and not an end.  When we seek it as an end, then we have missed the opportunity to achieve it.

Believing "oneness" is achieved by making people think alike, look alike, be alike, or behave alike is so wrongheaded as to be Satanic.  The ideal expressed by Christ as He prayed to the Father was that we should each attempt, in our limited capacities, to be more like Christ.  The closer we approach that ideal, the more we become "one" as a byproduct.  Merely giving a list of behavior as the way to "oneness" is not only foolish, but it is impossible.  It must come from within, and cannot come from without.

Paul's 14th Chapter of Romans is actually the only way in which "oneness" can be attained.  Let everyone decide what they believe will make them closer to Christ, and allow them the freedom to follow that path.  Let all others refrain from judging the behavior of others.  Whether they "eateth herbs" or "eateth meat" let each be free to do what they believe to be right before God.  "Judge not him that eateth: for God hath received him."  Let everyone do what in their own heart they believe is right before God, because God will respect anything done on His behalf.  And let everyone else refrain from judging these honest efforts, but bear with one another.

This will give rise to widely diverse behavior. but will result in an absolute uniformity of intent.  Everyone should be free to do what they believe God is asking them to do.  And everyone should also respect the honest efforts of others.

Over time, perhaps over generations, behavior will grow closer as a result of the purity of the underlying intent.  Not because someone is compelling uniformity, but because light and truth will eventually bring harmony.

Being "one" just as building Zion cannot be a goal in itself.  It is always a byproduct of the kind of people which changed hearts produce.

In a private conversation with someone a few years ago he commented that he wished the definition of "Mormonism" would be changed.  He thought that anyone who was willing to accept the ordinances of the Church ought to be regarded as being Mormon, no matter what else they may differ on.  I've thought about his comment for years now.  I'm inclined to see a great deal of wisdom in that idea.  I've grown to see that those comments echo the earlier writings of the Apostle Paul.

Elder Oaks at Harvard

Elder Oaks spoke to law and divinity students at Harvard this week.  The talk was recorded and may be broadcast between General Conference sessions.  He spoke for about 45 minutes then took questions.  Among the comments he made was that neither the Church nor Evangelicals would identify Mormons as Evangelicals.  He also noted the hostility of higher education to religious values and beliefs, despite the widespread religious convictions of Americans.

A Tennesse Ward and the Lord

I have a friend in Tennessee who emailed me this week about a Latter-day Saint congregation he visited a few Sunday's ago.  The congregation was of mixed races, and the meetings were louder, more animated and lively than the "typical" ward.  He quite enjoyed it.  His description of the visit made me long for the mission field again. In the mission field there are widely divergent congregations.  But the Wasatch Front is far different in texture and tone than anywhere else.  I think there are people here who believe a stoic face is required to be reverent.

My impression of the mortal Lord is that He was gregarious, lively, filled with life, and given to smiling often.  He surely was challenged by serious men involved in conspiracies to have Him killed, and for them His responses were serious.  But He was filled with life, and love and humor.  His many analogies drew from the common man's experience to teach with simplicity the deepest of ideas.  I think He would have fit into the Tennessee ward my friend told me about.

I think when the scriptures note "He wept" it was because His normal demeanor was so upbeat, so positive and hope-filled that weeping stood out by contrast.

I've only sensed that I genuinely offended Him once.  All other errors and mistakes have merely "bemused" Him, even though I have felt terrible from my end.  He is a patient Teacher.  Who knows exactly when you are ready and then how best to teach.


I've never won an argument with the Lord.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Telestrial

Here's a troubling thought to ponder:  The Telestrial are those who have received and bear testimony of their faith in prophets, such as Paul, John, Moses, Elias, Isaiah, Enoch, and Joseph Smith, but who "received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus."  (See D&C 76: 98-102.)

Security therefore lies not in following men, even men identified in the verses who are true prophets, but only in following Christ and receiving His Gospel and testimony.  What an absolutely uniform, individual obligation the Gospel imposes upon everyone. 

Popularity or Persecution?

A recent trend with Latter-day Saint scholars has been the publishing of several books that try to make Mormonism seem like Protestant Evangelicalism.  I do not believe the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is much akin to anything in Historic Christianity, and thankfully very different from Protestant Evangelicals.  It is instead a return of Primitive Christianity as found in the New Testament.  That is quite a different thing than what Historic Christianity has become, and almost altogether alien to Evangelicalism.  

I believe the Church will advance only by acknowledging the differences, explaining them and showing what great things Historic Christianity has lost.  Unless we have something different and important to offer, there is no reason for anyone to become a Latter-day Saint. 

The opening statement of Christ to Joseph Smith in the First Vision ought to be the point we most emphasize.  It was the many defects with Historic Christianity and its creeds which provoked the Lord to open the heavens again and start this great, final work.  When we neglect that message, and try to seem like another brand of Protestantism we are neglecting the only reason for our Church's existence.

I know it is not up to me.  And I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.  

I suppose this post is nothing more than proof of my tendency to err in judgment.  But it is an honest and well meaning error which isn't being tried by the Church at present.  When it was tried, in the early years, the newspapers railed against us, editorial cartoons mocked us, mobs persecuted us, and in turn the Church grew in numbers so dramatic that a single set of missionaries sent to England baptized nearly 7,000 converts.  The distinction caused by the persecution was valuable. Certainly not in a public relations sense, but very much in a "harvesting of souls" sense.

Sharp distinctions give the disinterested a reason to consider our message.  Persecution attracts the honest who want to know why the persecution is happening.  Joseph believed, and history has proven that persecution is the heritage of the righteous.  Its absence may not really be a good thing.  The cost of trying to avoid it is at the expense of forward progress. This is evidenced by the decrease in convert baptisms we see at present.

I have never seen any statement in scripture affirming that becoming popular in the eyes of the world was good or desirable.  On the contrary, I see the Book of Mormon listing that as one of the great evils.  (See e.g., 1 Ne. 22: 23.)

Baptism of Fire

The question has come up about how the Lamanites could receive the baptism of fire and "know it not" when it happened.  Whole books have been written on this subject and I can't do it justice in a blog.  So I won't try.  I'll make a brief comment:

The alternatives are:

1.  They knew something happened, but didn't know what it was or what it should be called.
2.  They didn't realize something had happened at all.

If the reason is 1, then the result is un-troubling because without a vocabulary to label the event it is easy to to understand whey they "know it not."

Much more troubling is reason 2.  What if the baptism of fire is an event so subtle it could escape detection?  And if that is the case, then how is one to know when or if they have experienced it?

Some writers have made the baptism of fire such a remarkable event that it connotes salvation, even exaltation itself.  For those who accept that definition of the event, then to reduce it to an undetectable occurrence seems to somehow diminish it.

Joseph described the effects of the Holy Ghost on a Gentile (purges the blood and remakes them into an Israelite), and on a descendant of Israel (pure intelligence).  [I'm not going to give the cite from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, because I don't have a copy with me while I'm writing this.  So you look it up.]  Both effects Joseph describes could be felt in a minimal way.  Neither would require it to be dramatic.

"Fire" is a description of quickening, purging sin, and receiving the love of God.  [Beloved Bridegroom gives a great explanation of fire as a symbol of the love of God.]  If you are living in conformity with such light as you have been given, receiving this kind of "fire" would not necessarily be physically detectable.  The real place where it would begin to show would be as a person prays, and then begins to receive answers, or "pure intelligence" as Joseph put it.  "A sudden flow of ideas," which the recipient knows is beyond their capacity to think of or accomplish, would be another way in which the recipient would recognize its presence.

I think it is altogether possible for either explanation to be true.  No matter which explanation, I don't believe it diminishes in any way the importance of this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  It is, in my view, the event marking the beginning of the process by which someone becomes ultimately a new creature.  It is not the end of the journey.  I would use other words to describe that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's in a Name?

The site we use for this blog has the unfortunate label of "Followers" for those who read the blog, or receive regular updates on new posts.  The website comment goddess who works to manage this has attempted to change the name to "Readers" but can only do that within the fields open to be changed.

Now I realize those who follow this are "Readers" and only "followers" in the sense that they receive update notices.  I acknowledge the insult given you by the Google label.

As an aside, if you really are a "Follower" then let me make one thing clear:  You don't want to follow me.  You should be a follower of Christ.  He can really do something for you.  I cannot.

That having been said, now let's go on being bemused at  Google's unfortunate choice of monikers for those who read a blog.
I'm really appreciative of the ability this forum has to reduce the need for repetition with many people.  I hope it is convenient for readers, too.

Increasing Light

Teaching is marred by the ineptitude of teachers.  It does not matter how complex a subject being taught is, a good teacher will make is both simple and enjoyable to learn.  When a subject becomes difficult to understand, more often than not it is because the teacher does not understand the subject well enough to make it simple.
For the Gospel, teaching is a matter of increasing light in the one learning.  To do that the student must learn how to improve their obedience to true principles.  Only someone's obedience to truth will lead them to greater truth.  The teacher's obedience cannot and does not benefit the student of the gospel if the student is unwilling to receive greater light and truth by obedience.
The necessary obedience is not obedience to a man, or men, or a set of rules devised by men.  It is not even obedience to a rigid set of commandments. Obedience and fidelity must be directed to the Lord.  No matter how well someone may teach for doctrine the commandments of men, those who hear will never gain more than a form of godliness, without any power.
We all must progress in the same way Christ did.  He grew from grace to grace, until as last He was called the Son of God.  He had the fullness of grace and truth. Read John's testimony again found in the beginning of D&C 93. Pay attention to the first verse of Section 93, because it is the summary of what John's testimony will include.

The teachings are real.  Increasing light is real.  But each must gain it in the very same way as Christ and all those who have followed Him gained it.

A good teacher will always work himself out of a job by teaching how to find light without him.  A bad teacher will call attention to himself, and try to make others dependent upon him.  The worst teachers are those who want to control those who will listen to them and to dictate what they do, what they think, and how they must follow.  Christ, and the light He brings, liberates, making each person an agent for themselves.  Satan's plan is to put us into bondage, controlling us and making us fear.

The comment moderator (Goddess) thinks this is important

A comment on Adam-ondi-Ahman

The description in D&C 107: 53 refers to Adam giving a blessing to "them." You have to determine to whom the word "them" refers.

I wrote elsewhere about Daniel and the way in which the Lord's appearance was veiled from others who were present, Daniel alone seeing the vision. The same is true of the Lord's contact with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Those with him did not have the same open vision.

When Joseph and Oliver saw the vision in the Kirtland Temple, they were behind a drawn canvas veil, and others were in the building. They didn't see what Joseph and Oliver saw.

In the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the visions which were opened to some were not to others.

There was an inner group of high priests for whom the Lord's appearance would be appropriate and they are named. Naming means something. The rest are referred to as "the residue" and are not named.

These patterns are very real. They are set out in scripture because they are real. There is a great difference between being one of "the residue" of good people and being a clearly named high priest, particularly when you encounter the number of seven for the meeting. The number is also important, as I've explained in books I've written.

The picture people get into their heads is difficult to remove. But this process is dependent upon the preparation of the individual, not membership in a group. I've associated importance with elements of the revelation which others may not think important. I believe naming the seven, the number of them (seven), identifying them as high priests, calling those others "the residue" and leaving their names out of the narrative, and the overall setting takes this incident and puts it into the Daniel/Kirtland Temple/Apostle Paul category of visions of the Lord. Where some present are excluded and only a specific group or individual whose presence was specifically invited by the Lord, are permitted to stand in His presence.

It is a terrible thing to enter into the presence of the Living God. Not all who are righteous are prepared for that. Hence my reading of the verses.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jumping out a Window

When I first joined the LDS Church I thought every Latter-day Saint had revelations, visitations by angels, and miracles in their lives.  I thought, the Joseph Smith story was the common experience for those who were members of this Restored Church. 

It took a few years before I realized that it was the exception, not the rule, that such miraculous experiences took place. I learned that most saints were more akin to Hugh Nibley's description of his grandfather, a member of the First Presidency, who said that if he ever saw an angel he would "jump out the window."
I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with "a firm mind."  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a "firm mind."  One or the other has to be incorrect.

I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. 
So was Christ weak-minded or of "a firm mind?"  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John? 
Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it's safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD's and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: "They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work."  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)


You learn all the time in life.  I've now learned that comments can take as much time as you let them;  and if every comment gets a response, then using a blog to try to simplify will not work either.  See previous post here. As a result here is how it appears it may work:
My wife, who is doing the mechanical work on this blog, will moderate comments and post them at her sole discretion.  You must appease the goddess if you want to get something approved by her and onto the blog.
There are those comments which will get responses from me.  Sometimes directly within the comment section of the post.  Sometimes as a new post.  Not every comment will get posted, and not every posted comment will get a reply.  The hope is that everything of particular value to people/readers will get onto the blog. Also, feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comment section.  Be nice - remember the goddess is moderating. 
I'm hoping this will not become a full-time job.  Primarily because I still work for a living and blogging doesn't earn anything.  It is merely a form of public service for the bored internet surfer who may be interested in Mormonism and related stuff.
P.S.  We reserve the right to keep trying to make this work better.  

Self Government and Self Discipline

Self-government implies self-discipline.  Freedom requires self-restraint in conduct and speech.  People are free to say whatever they want, but when they want to say things that endanger others, then you have to consider limiting speech.  That is always unfortunate.  Ultimately, unless people share common values, common beliefs, and a common sense of proper conduct you cannot have "freedom" and "self-government" because it will end in violence.
When everyone agrees on first principles, there is little need for speech-limiting laws.  When, however, something is deeply offensive and insulting to one group, and valued highly by another, cycles of debate end in cycles of violence. 

The United States' Constitutional form of government presupposes an agreement on fundamental first principles.  As that common consensus diminishes on fundamental principles, our form of government is increasingly less likely to work.  If the "Elders of Israel" are going to save the Constitution, it will not be through legislation or litigation, but by conversion of people back to a common set of beliefs.  Only then Constitutional government has a chance to survive.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Truth - anything more or less

I'm in the unique position of being powerless.  I preside over my family, nothing else.  I write for all others only to persuade.  I will not be penalized if someone who reads my writing rejects it.  The question then is really not: "what is my motivation," but instead: does the Spirit ratify the things I have written to you? 

There is an alarming statement in D&C 93.  It follows the definition of truth found in D&C 93:24:  "Whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning" (D&C 93: 25); meaning that we are all required to find the truth.  Anything more or anything less is evil and means we have been deceived.  In addition, the follow up to the parable of the Ten Virgins found in D&C 45:56-57 warns everyone that the five foolish virgins who will not take truth as their guide are going to be hewn down and cast into the fire.

These decisions about what truth you must accept are important, but can only be made by trusting the Spirit.  You should look to the Spirit for the answer to where and what is truth in this day of so much deception.  Marketing, by its very nature, is deception. (See, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom, by David Kupelian)  All of modern commerce is based on deceiving you.  Making you think you need something when you do not.  Exciting your envy to get you to purchase something you really don't need.  So when it comes to the truth, you will need to demonstrate some "sales resistance" to Satan, and not be fooled into rejecting truth although it comes from a lone voice, crying from the wilderness (as has been so often the Lord's pattern in the past).

It's all about you

I received an email over the weekend which finally helped me understand a reaction to The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.  Apparently there are readers who think that the book is about me.  It isn't.  It is entirely about the reader.  If someone reads it trying to get to a 'punch line' or great ending, they are reading with the wrong intent.  The book isn't about that at all. It is a manual.  It's purpose is to provide the reader instruction while they are on their own path back to the presence of the Lord.  

To the extent that there are any personal matters in the book, they are designed to illustrate common mistakes.  My mistakes and errors are set out in the beginning of the chapters. Then the chapter explains how to get the principle right.  Other than showing how poor a student I have been, my presence in the book is entirely secondary.  I do bear testimony about the truth of the teachings, which I think is required for a book of that nature.  But the book is entirely about you, the reader.

I reiterate several times in the text that it is not a book for every reader.  It is not publicized, advertised, or promoted in any way.  It is entirely a word-of-mouth book which will find appropriate readers without any effort on my part to promote it.

Visit to the Nephites

I was asked about the difference between my explanation regarding the timing of the visitation of the risen Lord to the Nephites in The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil, and the timing proposed by Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith.  I put the visit at the end of the thirty-fourth year, they put it immediately following Christ's resurrection.  I responded as follows:

I won't respond or rebut the argument.  I don't think it is important to resolve the matter.  It is only important to understand the issue.  From the things these men wrote, it is clear that Elders McConkie/Smith reason how it could have been immediate, despite the fact that the text says it was the difference between the beginning and end of the thirty-fourth year.  The anchor of their argument is that the people were showing each other the great changes which took place during the destruction.  They reason that this would have been immediately after the destruction, otherwise there would be no reason to be pointing it out.  

I account for this by recognizing that the festival season caused a migration later in the year. At that time their presence at the Temple site would have introduced them to the destruction for the first time, despite the fact the great quaking and tempests had ended eleven months earlier.  I also account for the various appearances of the Lord to "other sheep," as well as the forty-day ministry at Jerusalem in my reckoning.  

However, I do not think it important for someone to disbelieve McConkie/Smith.  It is only important how one decides to read the scriptures.  Borrowed opinions are just that.  People need to read the scriptures and decide what they mean for themselves.

In the book I refer to the "ceremony of recognition." This ceremony has a specific order. It begins with an embrace.  The headnote (written by Elder McConkie) says "hands, feet and side" as the order.  The text, however, refers to the side, then the hands and feet.  That ceremony, so far as it is appropriate to do so, is explained in the text of The Second Comforter.

Consider This

When I joined the LDS Church there were approximately 3 million members.  That was in 1973.  We have now over 13 million.  That means that there are approximately 10 million Latter-day Saints with less experience with the Church than I have.  What an odd thing to consider.

President Monson, President Packer and Elder Perry are the only remaining members of the Presidency and Twelve who were already in place when I joined the Church.  All the others were added to the Twelve after I joined.  Again, that is an odd thing for me to consider.  I can't imagine a Church where all the Presidency and Twelve were called after I joined.  

I was thinking about all those who were in the First Presidency and Twelve when I first joined:

It was (to me) terrible to lose President Kimball.  I'd grown quite fond of him from a distance in New Hampshire and Texas.  Then when I went to law school, his son Ed Kimball taught at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, and President Kimball would come to visit his son.  We'd run into him in the elevator or hallway and I grew even more respectful and attached to him.  

Who didn't absolutely love Elder LeGrand Richards?  What a delight it was to listen to him.

Elder McConkie and Elder Peterson were doctrinal giants.  I went to both of their funerals because I had such a personal sense of loss at their passing.


I was with John Pratt on Saturday and he mentioned his new article on Meridian Magazine called "Venus Testifies of Christ." I went home and read it and thought it was just delightful. He makes the case that Venus was the star which foretold all the great events in the Lord's life.  You can find the article on Meridian Magazine on-line. 

Monday, February 22, 2010


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.”


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. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


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.

Friday, February 19, 2010

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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Personal Responsibility

I have tried to lessen the burden imposed upon Church leadership in the books I have written.  The Saints need to be more accountable for their own progress and understanding.  The books impose responsibility upon the reader to establish their own communication with God, and then to assume responsibility for their own progress.

Whatever intelligence we attain unto in this life will rise with us in the next.  Seeking to gain in intelligence, or light and truth, is always individual, never collective.


Recognizing a problem is not solving it in the same way that a diagnosing an illness is not treating it. 
It is always the first step, however, to recognize a defect.  We don't solve a lot of problems because we fail to acknowledge their existence.
Then there are those who will argue that a defect is not really a problem, but a feature.  Don't be fooled by salesmanship.   Defects are never features. 


If a man is unfaithful to his wife, he will be dishonest in his business dealings and in his other relationships. Hence the saying: "an adulterer is a liar." The two go together.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Response to a Critic

In response to a critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and you do not.  I'm content to let you disbelieve.  Why are you not content to let me believe?  One of us is clearly mistaken, but I am content with both my belief and your disbelief. 

Of the two of us, I think your hostility toward my position reveals an underlying insecurity about your confidence in your position. 

I am prepared to be everlastingly judged on the basis of my beliefs.  I insist the Lord has every right to hold me accountable for what I believe, do, think, say and how I behave. 

Two Women

A Parable by Denver C. Snuffer, Jr.
Once there were two women.
One was born to privilege, whose family had great wealth.
The other, named Martha, was born poor.
They both grew up and at length Martha married, but the woman of privilege never did marry.

As adults both women felt the need for motherhood.
Martha bore seven children.

The woman of privilege spent seven years in college studying child development and education, eventually receiving her Ph.D., but never married, nor had a child.
Now as coincidence would have it, the woman of privilege inherited her parents‛ home and moved back into the wealthy neighborhood in which she was raised.

Martha’s family needed more room and searched for a house.  They found a modest home located in wealthy neighborhood which had once been a servant’s. Now the servant’s home needed repairs, and few were interested in a home which, in comparison with the others around it, seemed merely a servant’s residence.

Martha however, believed there was an advantage for her children to grow up among the children of greater privilege and therefore purchased the unwanted house.
And so it was that the woman of privilege and Martha came to live in the same neighborhood.

Martha, ever eager to learn more, had read books to better understand parenting.  She was surprised to learn one of her favorite teachers lived in her neighborhood.

As coincidence would further have it, both the woman of privilege and Martha were called upon to serve together in teaching neighborhood children.  They spent many hours together, but oftentimes did not agree.
For Martha, the experience of raising her own children led her to view things differently than the woman of privilege whose experience was based upon study, borrowed understanding and the science of others.

After six years, Martha concluded the conflicts between them were insurmountable.

In the seventh year, Martha concluded that if the woman of privilege could gaze into the eyes of her own children for but five minutes, she would know more than she did now, notwithstanding the many years of study which she had devoted to child development and education.  

In the eighth year, Martha concluded it was her responsibility to teach the woman of privilege, and so the occupant of the servant’s house undertook the burden of teaching the needy but unwilling. 

It was a role that would require many years, with only limited success.
Pride is unbecoming in a pupil; and meekness ever required of a teacher.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I was asked whether those who are in the middle of an apostasy can detect that it is underway.
Yes and no: Yes, as to isolated individuals.  No, as to the institutional mindset or they would have done something about it.  The Great Apostasy began sometime during the second century.  But you have to get down to the Protestant fathers in the 1500's and thereafter before there is any widespread shouting about what has been lost.  For the intervening thirteen centuries people respected authority, and trusted that the leaders had the keys to save them.
I can't imagine the courage it took for Martin Luther to refuse to back down when he was confronted with thirteen centuries of history telling him he was wrong.  We really do owe a debt of gratitude to him, and those who followed after, for ultimately establishing religious freedom. Americans more than any other people are the direct beneficiaries of that courage.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.  Although I'm hundreds of miles away, my thoughts are with my wife. David and Solomon clearly never found a wife to be their equal, helpmeet, love and joy. I pity them. I have she who completes me; my queen and high priestess, love and companion, wise counselor and faithful friend. She is the standard against which all other women are measured, and all others found to be wanting. She is home.

I have yet to see a marriage I think the equal of my own.

The final parable in Ten Parables begins deliberately. I hope readers realize how important that discussion is to the way things really are.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


When Daniel saw the Lord he "alone saw the vision" (Dan 10:7) and not those who were with him. The others felt the great presence (v. 7) but saw nothing. The physical effect upon Daniel was exhausting. He collapsed and had to be strengthened (v. 10). Three times he collapsed and three times he was touched by the Lord to strengthen him (vs. 10,16,18).  It was real and VERY physical. Yet he alone saw the Lord. It is always so. Hence Paul's comment "whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell" ( 2Cor12:2).  It IS physical. But those who are excluded merely feel the terrible presence, and see nothing. Those included are like Daniel and Joseph Smith, left exhausted from such encounters (see JS-H 1:48).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Not for entertainment

I was reading in the first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers and came across a letter written by Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde upon their return to Kirtland after their mission to England.  During the interim things had broken down in Kirtland with lawsuits, cross accusations and apostasy.  Although the missions had been a great success, with more than fifteen-hundred converts joining the Church, when they returned they found the existing Saints in disarray. 
They were immediately confronted with criticism of Joseph and other Church leaders by the residents of Kirtland.  In the letter to Joseph Smith, received on July 6, 1838, they responded to the criticism they were hearing with a comment which stood out to me.  It would make a good motto:
"The faults of our bretheren is poor entertainment for us."  (JSP, Vol. 1, p. 280.)
I like that.  I think it is still good enough advice to remain true over a century and a half later: The faults of the Brethren are poor entertainment for any of us.

What's in a name

In response to a question asked today:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a temporary institution which will cease to exist after this life.  There is no vision, revelation, scripture or statement promising us that the church as an institution will continue to exist after mortality.  What the scriptures, visions, and revelations do tell us about the eternal description of the saved is that it is "the Church of the Firstborn" or "the Church of the Lamb."  Membership in that group is separate from membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nephi uses "Church of the Lamb" (see e.g., 1 Ne. 14: 12) to describe the latter-days group over whom the Lord will watch.  Interestingly, although Joseph had this revelation before him when he organized the church, he did not choose the "Church of the Lamb" as the organization's name.  

When modern revelation refers to those who inherit the Celestial Glory, it calls them members of the "Church of the Firstborn" (see, e.g., D&C 76: 67 also 93: 22).  Those who are chosen in our day to belong to the Church of the Firstborn are shown only one way in which that takes place.  In a revelation given to Joseph Smith while translating the New Testament, Section 77, Joseph gave this explanation of the latter-day 144,000 saved persons in verse 11: "they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn."

At the time Joseph received the explanation recorded in Section 77 (March 1832) the church had existed for over two years.  When the official name was given in 1838  (D&C 115: 4) the name chosen for the earthly, temporary organization was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - not the Church of the Firstborn.

The Church of the Firstborn exists on the "other side" so to speak.  You qualify to get there by how you live here.  But you have to be invited into that church by the "angels to whom is given power" to extend that invitation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I was asked a question which provoked this explanation of the book, The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil:
The book was written to cause the reader internal reflection.  There really isn't a "punch line" in the book.  My testimony is essentially incidental; merely affirming that the principles taught in the book are true.

I worry that reading only the testimony, divorced from the explanation of how someone moves along in personal progress to the point they receive that personal witness, will make it just another "feel good" read.  The book is a manual.  It isn't designed to make people feel good.  It is designed to get them to do something.
I worry that whenever people read of others' spiritual experiences they assume that because they have read about such things they are somehow "included" or "worthy" and that they are linked to God as a result.  The book is designed to awaken people to their own lack of an existing link: then to cause them to resolve to establish that link for themselves.

So I think taking only the testimony alone contradicts the whole purpose for which it was written.  The testimony was merely a brief, nine word ratification of the book's teachings.  The focus was, and is, on receiving an audience with Christ.  The book is a manual for the reader to do that for themselves.  The reader, not the author, is the focus of the book.  Indeed, with only brief exceptions, my personal presence intrudes into the book to highlight how to do something wrong.  Then the book explains how to get it right. 


When we receive truth we are expected to live our lives in conformity with the truth we've received.  We shouldn't expect to receive more if we do not live what we've already been given.  Living in conformity with such truth as you already have is also always required to avoid deception.  It is simply not possible to harvest additional light while refusing to live the light already given.  False spirits visit with those who invite them by their misconduct, rebellion or wickedness.  Hence the need to constantly re-evaluate how you live and the choices you make.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Below is an email I am going to send in response to any new emails.  I regret having to do this, but as should be apparent from the content below, I am forced to do so:
Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of meeting, talking, and associating with many new people.  I have had the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about the gospel, about books I have written, and about other subjects that help move along the truth of the restored gospel. I have been contacted by people far and wide who have read what I have written, and as a result, have wanted to meet or talk with me. Some people have wanted to meet over lunch on a weekday. Others have come to my office to meet with me.  Some have made appointments, others have just dropped in.  I have spent countless hours talking with people on the phone.  There are those who have wanted to attend the temple with me, and I have made arrangements to do so.  This has been a great blessing to me.  However, it has grown now to the point that I can no longer accommodate the many requests.

On any given day, I now receive dozens of email questions from people I know or am acquainted with, as well as people I don't know, who want answers to questions they have as a result of something I have written or for other various reasons.  I've been asked to meet at the temple, to come to someone's home and talk, to allow someone to come to my house to meet with me, to visit in my office, or to do other things for them.  I have been given articles, manuscripts, plays, DVD's, video tapes, books, letters, and other media and asked to read, edit, and/or give an opinion about the materials.  I have been asked to speak on numerous occasions at various functions, which I have done on a few very rare occasions.  Right now there are over a dozen requests to speak at places in Utah, California and Arizona.

I have sincerely tried to be available to everyone in whatever capacity they have asked me.  I have given up  a great deal of time in order to respond to requests when people have sought me out. I have enjoyed these wonderful associations and opportunities. Many of these have been blessings to me.  I have learned much and I love the opportunity to discuss, teach and learn the truth, and to be taught by others.

It is with regret however, that I will no longer be able to make myself available in this way.  Last Monday was when it reached a point I decided I could no longer continue in the same way.  Before the day was over I spent six hours answering emails related to books I have written.  I have a wife and several children who need my attention, and an active law practice which requires my full time work. My family and business suffer from neglect when I spend excessive time answering Gospel questions.  I employ 6 people whose families depend upon my productivity at work.  They have been very patient with my diversions over the last several years, but they deserve better from me as an employer.   

Despite the inability to be available directly, my wife and I have come up with a plan which will help solve the problem, I hope.  My wife has agreed to maintain a website where I will post answers to questions I have received over the years, comments or things that I believe may be edifying, or whatever I think may be beneficial as a result of something that comes from a reader.  I will try to update it at least weekly. 

The address will be:
Thank you for understanding these problems.  I hope the solution will still allow me to be of service to anyone who asks something of me.
Kindest Regards,

Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. 

Principles and Rules

Question by someone:  What is the difference between "principles" and "rules"? 

Answer by me:
Assuming you define "Principles" as the underlying reason for the commandment, then you're also speaking about what the Apostle Paul called the "Spirit of the law" as opposed to the "letter of the law."  He said the "letter killeth" but the "Spirit giveth life."  I think he was right.

Any rule can be abused.  Any rule can become broken even when it is being kept.  Rules can become harsh taskmasters, inflicting punishment when they were designed to bless.  The underlying principle, however, always seeks to bless.  The underlying principle was designed as a blessing.  When the rule begins to oppress, then is should be abandoned in favor of the principle. 

Rules have and do change.  But principles remain constant.  The brutality of the rules was exposed by Christ when He healed on the Sabbath.  He did that specifically to demonstrate the futility of ignoring the principle, while only adhering to the law/rule.  

In the English common law tradition there were cases "at law" and cases "in equity."  They divided the Courts into separate forums, where courts of law could not do equity.  But courts of equity could ignore the provisions of law, modify them, or establish a higher principle which resolved fairly a dispute despite some legal impediment to the relief sought.  That tradition follows the Lord's example.  

Principles ennoble.  Rules preoccupy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I didn't know

I was amused to find that my wife (who physically maintains this blog for me) had already made it active.  I've been sending stuff to her to post, but figured it would be a while before this actually became something available for readers. 

I'm also surprised that some people have already found it.  I got an email today thanking me for it.  So I did a search and found the blog is actually up and running and can be found through Google.

OK, then, welcome to this blog.  If you're reading it, you've found it too.  I'll try and add something at least every few days.  Hopefully something that will matter.

Questions and Answers

I get asked a lot of questions.  The other day someone asked how "to write only what the Spirit directs?"

That requires something quite subtle and hard to keep.  The presence of the Spirit, its constant companionship, guidance and influence is so refined and difficult a matter to put into words that even the scriptures do not give an adequate account of the process. 

Obedience is required, but there are obedient people who are utterly without the Spirit.  Obedience can make a person rigid and unyielding, when they ought instead to be meek and pliable.

Discipline is required, but not if it makes a person dogmatic.  The word "disciple" is derived from discipline, but a disciple follows the Master.  A disciplined man can be on his own errand, rather than the Lord's.  

These words, like so many others fail to capture just how great and fine a balance is required for the Spirit to provide direction.

Meekness is required, but not in the way the world thinks of meekness.  I've tried to explain the true quality of meekness shown by the Lord and His followers in Beloved Enos.  It involves power, strength, and certitude.

The process almost defies words.  It is very real, in fact tangible.  But the way in which you know it to be right involves an ability to feel the balance, taste the good, harmonize with the greater intelligence which pervades everything that is.  It comes from Him.  It is Him, in a very real sense.  All things were made by Him, bear record of Him, and are a testimony of His way.

Writing the words of eternal life require someone to have eternal life.  They can still be mortal, but they need the promise of eternal life.  So I suppose the Lord's admonition: "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added thereto" really answers the question.  Or as told to Hyrum: "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word."  The one must precede the other.  At least the statement of the Lord to His disciples, and the revelation to Hyrum Smith seem to indicate as much.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Words matter

I worry about things being attributed to me from private conversations or speaking events where the public was invited.  I choose words with great care.  The difference between truth and error can be quite a fine line in some important matters.  Therefore, when I say, teach, write or answer a question with exact language in mind, and the listener or reader does not retain the distinctions when they attempt to repeat what I've said, I wind up being confronted with things I never said, don't believe and would never teach.  One of the reasons for this blog is so I can control what is attributed to me.  I'm very willing to be held to account for what I teach or write.  But I'm not willing to be held accountable for someone else's understanding or partial recollection of statements I have made.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Apologetics

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and am loyal to it as an institution and as the proponent of a faith.  Although I am keenly aware of the flaws any body of men and women will display, those weaknesses inherent in the human condition do not diminish the greatness of an institution.  I believe in constructive explanations about shortcomings, ways to understand or process what appear to be flaws.  In that sense only do I believe in apologetics.  To deny the existence of shortcomings is, I believe, to depart from the warnings given to us by Christ, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, the Apostle Paul, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others.  I like the comment made by President Hugh B. Brown about us Mormons:  "We are a lay church; and this gives rise to much mediocrity."
It helps to have a sense of humor if you're going to try to be a faithful Mormon.  It also requires thick skin.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven contrasted with Hell

It is a misnomer to speak of the "kingdom of the Devil" because the description presumes something more organized than is the case.  It is difficult to organize when fear, hatred and anger are the primary motivations.  Love is a far more cohesive, creative and loyalty producing motivation.  All that Satan does is designed to destroy itself, as well as all those who follow him.

This Blog

I'm trying to put into a blog what would require many hours of individual emails and conversations.  Hopefully this will both answer the many questions I keep receiving and allow me to stay productive with my family, job and Church responsibilities.