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Mixed Feelings About 2-hour Block/Pageants

I am probably in the minority.

I think I’m going to miss weekly Sunday School. Having said that, I’m sitting here in the hall skipping Sunday School. So why would I miss it?

I’ve taught gospel doctrine twice. It is one of my favorite callings. It helped kick start my gospel study and forced me to try to make interesting lessons. The manual they give is so poor. Greg Prince is on the board of directors at a Methodist seminary. He handed the LDS Old Testament manual to some people there and they said they had seen some bad manuals, but the LDS manual was the worst. Continue Reading »

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Is the Church Running Scared? (Plus Elizabeth Smart Notes)

The LDS Church has been subject to increasing leaks and protests lately.  MormonLeaks has been publishing internal documents (some mundane, some embarrassing), and some people have been sneaking cameras into church to record Protest-imonies.  Apparently Jeremy Runnells and Sam Young have had excommunication proceedings posted online as well.  Is the LDS Church becoming even more skittish with cameras?

I had a really weird experience happen to me today.  I spent the weekend with my family in Moab.  On my way home from Moab, my wife tells me Elizabeth Smart is speaking at the U of U institute. So I decided to come by myself because she is tired of driving. She sends me the Facebook post telling me it is open to the public. Continue Reading »

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Please Give Me Advice for a Calling I Don’t Want

After a few pleasantries, including how busy my life is, here’s the gist of a conversation with a counselor in the bishopric.

Counselor:  Brother, the reason why you are here is that we have prayed on our knees, and the bishop feels inspired to call you to be the building coordinator.  Now you don’t have to clean the building yourself.  You just need to set up a program so that the building gets cleaned every Saturday.  What do you think?

Me:  Honestly?  I think this is a crap calling.  I’ll do it, but I’m not excited one bit about it.  I hate it when people assign me to do the cleaning without asking me if I’m available.  I often work weekends, and my wife will help clean the buiding, because she has a supremely guilty conscience.

Counselor:  Well, that schedule is just a suggestion.  You can always ask to trade with someone else.

Me:  It’s a bad system.  I get it that you don’t want to have the same people doing it over and over, and that everyone should have the opportunity, but I hate being assigned.

Counselor:  Do you have a better suggestion?

Me:  Hire a janitor.  The Church makes $50 billion/year.  Hiring a janitor would be supremely easy and the Church can easily afford it. Continue Reading »

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Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

Fair warning:  this post is a downer.  But first let me say how blessed I am.  I was in a wreck last month and walked away with no injuries.  Seat belts are awesome.  I am grateful I wasn’t seriously injured.  (My truck and laptop weren’t so lucky.)

I miss my truck, but it definitely could have been much worse.

I miss my truck, but it definitely could have been much worse.

On the other hand, I’m sad.  I just found out my brother-in-law has prostate cancer.  His brother died from prostate cancer last December.  He lost both parents to prostate cancer and breast cancer.  He lost his first wife (my sister) to a brain tumor 20 years ago.  His 2nd wife beat breast cancer (so far.)  Sometimes it seems like God picks on certain families.  I don’t get it.  I hope it isn’t too bad.  His last daughter is getting married next week, so I’ll find out more about the prognosis.

Of course tragedy strikes everywhere, but we’ve had some unusual things happen in the neighborhood.  A neighbor commit suicide soon after moving in.  A woman was struck and killed by lightning on Easter Sunday a few years ago.  A woman in our ward (first time mother) gave birth to twins.  The family posted a photo showing her smiling with her babies, and then she bled to death, in the hospital!  To top it all off, another neighbor, after having gone through a year or so round of chemo and radiation for ovarian cancer, was just told the tumors have returned and they have no treatment options left.

I don’t blame God.  Bad things happen to everyone, and I don’t believe that God is killing people with cancer.  It’s part of life.  But it sucks.  A friend of mine said,

Maybe you want to yell what Tevye said in Fiddler on the Foof: “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”

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Elder Oaks: Be One, Unless You’re Gay

I attended the “Be One” celebration last night at the Conference Center.  It was truly an amazing service.  I encourage you all to watch it.  Gladys Knight, the Bonner Family, the Be One Choir, and all the performers were amazing.  I got a little emotional as I listened to these wonderful black performers discuss the First Vision, and highlighted black history.  Some of these stories I had heard, some of them I had not.  I encourage you all to watch it if you haven’t.  The link is below.  Just skip ahead of the countdown timer.  The meeting starts about 1 hour in.

Continue Reading »

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A Couple of Interesting Sacrament Meetings

I’ve attended a couple of interesting Sacrament Meetings the past 2 weeks.  In one, the bishop got up an asked a few rhetorical questions.  “How would you react if the church suddenly asked for 20% tithing, rather than 10% tithing?  What would be your reaction if the church suddenly said once/month home teaching isn’t good enough, now it needs to be once/week?  Would you complain?  Would you murmur?  Or would you obey?”

Gahhh….  I would complain.  I hate “obey or else” talks, because I think these kind of talks are stupid, and completely miss the point of the gospel.  I wanted to add a few more to the bishop’s list:  Would you kill your son if God asked?  Would you do polygamy like Joseph Smith if the prophet asked?  Would you be a suicide bomber?  Obedience can be taken too far, and bishop, you’re not helping with this kind of stupid talk.

Then I attended another sacrament meeting that was quite unexpected.  It was an older couple.  The sister spoke and said they had been married just 2 years.  She spoke about getting a divorce, coming home heartbroken when her husband of several decades said he didn’t love her anymore and wanted to divorce.  She talked about how awful it was to attend family gatherings where he was there with his new wife.  She talked about joining a group of divorced women who ranted about their exes.  Then she talked about the importance of forgiveness, and moving on.  She is now happily married.

Then her husband spoke.  He talked of being inactive for years.  His daughter invited him to come to church and said she knew something bad would happen if he didn’t.  “Yeah, whatever,” was his basic reply.  He sounded very rich, on the verge of a multi-million dollar deal that not only fell apart, but left him financially ruined.  He discussed getting dis-fellow-shipped by the church.  Then he got suckered into a business partner who did illegal, mafia type stuff.  He was arrested for his partner’s business crimes.  He served probably 10 years in notorious Sheriff Arpaio’s jail in Arizona.  Mouse crawled across his body in jail.  He discussed making ingenious mouse traps with Coke bottles and things like that.  Then he spoke about reading the scriptures in jail, gaining a testimony, and being treated well by both gang-bangers and prison guards.  And of course, he is now out of jail, and met his wonderful wife and married in the temple after.

Wow.  I haven’t been that interested in a Sacrament meeting talk in a decade or more.  Truly the contrast between the two weeks was profound.  How about you?

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Losing a Lost Tribe

The 2nd post ever on this blog was Why are the 12 Tribes of Israel important?  I’ve seen some interesting documentaries, one from a Jewish-atheist journalist, Simcha Jacobovich asking Have the Lost 10 Tribes been found?  (He thinks the answer is yes.)

On the other hand, I just finished Simon Southerton’s book, Losing a Lost Tribe, and he thinks the Book of Mormon is pure fiction.  Simon documents that Native Americans are not descended from Lamanites as the Book of Mormon claims, and believes that Lamanites never existed.  Science seems to confirm Southerton’s conclusions.  Simon is a former LDS bishop (now excommunicated.)  On the other hand, Dr. Ugo Perego seems to have advocated that DNA will never prove nor disprove the Book of Mormon. Continue Reading »