Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Message 2018

It is Christmas 2018; the time when we commemorate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. But why should a figure born 2000 years ago not only be remembered, but also revered?  Why is Christianity, with its 2.3 billion members, the world's number one religion?  Why is the message of Jesus more influential than the philosophies of Solon, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad?   More than any other teacher or philosopher in the history of the world, Jesus of Nazareth presented a message of love and hope that was not just revolutionary, but transformative and exalting.  Jesus Christ elevated the entire human family based on a message of humility, faith, and love.  For this and other reasons, Christians not only revere Jesus as a great philosopher, or prophet, but He is the promised Messiah, and the only begotten Son of the Living God.

For 4000 years up to that point, most humans had lived a fear-based existence. Men and women conquered and prospered according to their strength and genius, and triumphed according to the strength of their own will.  This fear- and power-based philosophy has plagued Earth's 6000-year, war-ridden history. But Jesus Christ, came from the presence of Our Heavenly Father to reveal to man that true enduring safety, prosperity, meaning, and happiness are not obtained by exerting our own will on the university, but by submitting our will to the will of Our Heavenly Father.   (not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matt 26:39)

What revolutionary things did Jesus Christ teach?  Here is an abridged list:
1. Christ taught that if we changed how we think, humans could become a new elevated species. Christ taught that humans can transform themselves by how they think and that we could become like Him and share in His divine nature.

Proverbs 23:7 (Matt 5:28) For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
John 3:3 no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in  Christ, he is a new creature.
Matt 19:26  with God all things are possible.

2.  Christ's Beatitudes teach that virtue, and power does not depend on the strength of your arm, genius, or but the strength of your character, self-restraint, and the mastery of your passions.   Animals are slaves to their fears, instincts and appetites.  What makes human's higher than the animals is that we can be motivated instead by faith, hope, and love (charity).  Christ taught that a true son of God is humble, teachable, merciful, peacemakers, and patiently endure persecution.

3. Jesus Christ taught the value of all human life.  Christ taught what is known as the "Golden Rule" to love one another and to serve and forgive even the least of our brothers and sisters because we are all part of the same heavenly family.  
John 13:34 Love one another. As I have loved you.
Matt 25:40 Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Luke 6:31 do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Matt 18:21 how of shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?... seventy times seven.
1 John 3:3 now are we the sons of God.... when he shall appear, we shall be like him.

4. Jesus warned us to not be entitled, narcissistic, and self-absorbed in our own suffering or self-importance.  Christian disciples were encouraged to forgive, endure persecution, agree with our adversaries quickly, and to carry our cross.  

Matt 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mark 8:34 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

5. Jesus Christ exemplified a life of empathy which culminated in the Atonement and death on the cross.   Christ didn't just talk about doing good, The Creator of Heaven and Earth, condescended to take upon flesh, and be born in the humblest of circumstances. He walked the perfect walk culminating in taking upon himself the sins of all mankind.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.
Alma 7:13 the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people... that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according o their infirmities.

6. Finally, Christ overcame death and hell resurrecting from the dead and assending into heaven to stand at the right side of The Father.  Not only that, Jesus Christ called forth many of the dead from the grave who were restored to life.  Also, many prisoners in spirit prison had the gospel preached to them.  Thus, Christ gave us hope after death, such that we no longer need to constantly live in fear of our impending death.  Instead, through Christ, we can endure hardship and live with faith, and hope of a better world here and in the world to come. 

Matt 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, just as he said.
1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is they sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Matt 16:18 the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
1 Peter 3:19 (Isa 61:1-2) By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.
John 14:3 I go and prepare a place for you;... that where I am, there ye may be also.
2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight for glory.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Guilt v. Shame: Letter to Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons

2 Nephi 1:26 And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you. Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities.

Laman and Lemuel would fit right into today’s generation who consider  judgements about incorrect and immoral behavior as “micro-aggressions”.  These two brothers definitely took the truth to be hard. While all people are children of God and we are to love everyone; we aren’t expected to love everything people may do.  And we are expected to speak up for truth, even when the truth has become unpopular.

The other day, my daughter was telling me about the story of Dan Reynolds, the lead singer for Imagine Dragons, (I already had heard some of the story).  So, Bro. Reynolds was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was an Eagle Scout, served an honorable mission, was endowed in the LDS temple, and attended BYU.  Tragically, Bro. Reynolds was expelled from BYU for an unfortunate honor code violation.  More seriously, Bro. Reynolds indecretions violated his religious covenants and everything he once stood for.

BYU is a private religious school and all attendees, even athletes, sign an honor code that commits the student to maintain certain standards. Bro. Reynolds violated the honor code and was suspended.  Unfortunately, there have been several high-profile student athletes that missed bowl games and NCAA tournament games due to similar honor code violations. 

Mr. Reynolds is no longer active in the Church of Jesus Christ, but has gone on to have an award-winning rock music carreer. Reynolds has also become an advocate for the LGBT community and has recorded a documentary, hit single, and started the LoveLoud music festival which raises awareness for LGBT issues.  Reynolds said that he empathized with the LGBT community in Utah because he was similarly shamed because of his sexuality. Reynold’s song “Believer” talks about his “pain ... made [him] a believer”. 

1. I don’t support shaming.  I don’t know how Reynold’s disciplinary process was handled, but “shaming” should never be the means nor the ends.   The goal of Church discipline should be increased understanding and repentance.   But in the process of change, a repentant person may naturally experience feelings of guilt, sorrow,  remorse, humility and embarrassment.  

These unpleasant feelings are necessary, productive and help lead a person to improve themselves.  Guilt focuses on behavior and says ‘I did something bad’.  Shame, on the other hand, focuses on self and says, ‘ I am bad’. Shame is absolutely undesirable and destructive and impedes change.  The Church of Jesus Christ always emphasizes that all people are  children of God, of infinite worth, and never beyond improvement and salvation. 
2. I think we forget why sex outside marriage is harmful. Morality is really very simple.  Many people try their best to complicate it.  However, at its essence, morality = “do no harm”. That’s it. As a boy scout, former missionary, holder of the Melchizedek priesthood, and temple-endowed member of the Church of Jesus Christ, Mr. Reynold’s was expected to be an ambassador for these most basic family values. 

The scriptural and moral basis for reserving sex for marriage is that, even with birth control, sex still leads to pregnancy.  The medical and scientific reality is that all forms of birth control have well-documented failure rates of 2.5% - 18% over 24-months. If you are secually active, you will eventally get pregant.  Notwithstanding, children have a right to be raised by a mother and father.  And women, have the right to not be exploited for sex and then abandoned by their partner to raise a resultant child alone.   Also, marriage is intended to elicit and foster a life-long commitment, devotion and unity between the couple. Human nature has proven itself again and again that if men (generally speaking) can use a woman for sex without commitment, they will. These reasons are why marriage is a thing. 

Consenting, LGBT’s should have all the legal rights, penalties and privileges to live together if they so choose. However, when it comes to children, the law must protect the rights of children to receive a full genetic inheritance from both a male and female, and to be raised by a mother and father. As I will explain below, LGBT’s who live together cannot expect full religious rights as their relationship constitutes a degree of self-harm. In the same way, growing cannabis in your back yard, possessing, and using it recreationally should be legal but not moral, but selling or distributing it is both illegal and immoral. 

The brain rewards us with a dopamine surge for productive behavior.  Whenever we set a worthwhile  goal, and achieve it, we feel good.  Sex within marriage is meant to both produce offspring and emotionally unify the couple.  Sex outside of marriage, like illicit drugs, exploits these reward centers to achieve a reward that was not earned.  Prodictivity decreases when we can just sit on the couch and trigger a chemical high. 

Mr. Renolds as a missionary of Jesus Christ was advocating the cause of the fatherless and the widow by encourging people to observe the Christian law of chastity and sobriety. He preached this message full-time for 2 years. Illicit recreational drugs and promiscuity destroy people’s lives and families and results in greater poverty.   Fighting poverty is the business of religion (James 1:27), and not government because only religion can provide accountability and rehabilitation.  Government can redistribute wealth, but it does not improve people’s behavior. In fact, government welfare actually harms people by enabling them. Government entitlements and bailouts rob people of the motivation to improve themselves and their situation.

Religion in America has really fallen down. Like Rome, America suffers greater poverty due to increased recreational drug use (idle poor) and promescuity (illegitimate poor).  Religion is not doing enough to uphold morality, as well as provide for and rehabilitate the poor.  Consequently, the government, in the name of social justice, has opportunistically stepped in and usurped the sacred duty of religion.  However, government welfare doesn’t improve people, is very inefficient and is bankrupting the nation.   Rome lost its democracy to the Ceasars who came to power promising greater social justice by promising the poor with “free bread and circus”.  This contribution to poverty and threat to freedom is why scripture emphasizes chastity and sobriety over other forms of self-harm.

3.  (Now we get to the real point of this post.)  The business of “pure religion” is both wefare and virtue. Like I said above,  I am no fan of shame, but Bro. Reynolds seems to have a case against the Church of Jesus Christ for having rules regarding the appropriate and safe expression of sexuality.   Unfortunately, the reality is that unrestrained sexuality can and does cause harm.  There must be rules. When a person harms another without their consent, that is the jurisdiction of the government.  When a person is harming themselves (self abuse), that is the jurisdiction of the Church. 

So, as a necessary institution in the fabric of society, how does the Church establish, encourage, and defend virtue and morality? The Church of Jesus Christ employs a spectrum of positive and negative reinforcements.  In addition to teaching correct principles, The Church maintains a community of believers, provides ministering rehabilitation, receives confession, and can disfellowship (withdraw sacraments) or ultimately excommunicate.  

When it comes down to it, if positive reinforcement has failed, the essence of religious discipline involves increasing levels of embarrassment (not shame).   At the basic level, the Church community seeks to help each member conform to the moral standard.  In the early 1800’s chewing tobacco was common place.  Now its rare.  Why the change in behavior?  It’s because chewing tobacco ceased to be socially acceptable. Now those who do chew face a bit of social stigma. Spittoons were common and even expected pieces of household furniture.  Now spittoons have nearly gone extinct. 

In addition to the Church using positive social pressure to positively influence moral behavior, the Church also uses confession. The Bishop is set appart as the only person to hear about your list of dirty laundry. Bishops are to keep this informatiom strictly confidential.  But admittedly, like undergoing rehab, divulging your sins to another person is embarrasing but also cathartic.  But the sting of guilt serves a very useful purpose. The embarrasement can change your brain. 

I work in a local Emergency Department. Many people around me swear all the time. Youtube is also filled with swears. The consequence is that I was occasionally cursing under my breath when extremely frustrated. One of my work colleages knows I dont like cursing.  She heard me curse under my breath and called me on it.  I was embarrased, but I thanked her because the feeling of embarrasement helped change my brain making it easier to not curse.  I wasn’t offended at her “shaming” me because I wanted to do better. 

My simple cursing example doesn’t compare in scale to Bro. Dan Reynolds.  However, in scope, I feel I didn’t become resentful at my embarrasement because I was penitent and  desired to change.  Or at least, I wanted to want to change.  In Bro. Reynold’s case, it appears he didn’t, became resentful, and has turned critic. 

Dan has since struggled with depression, and inflammatory disease.  Unfortunately, fame and fortune cannot ultimately supply health and peace of conscience.  Depression is caused by a complex combination of genetic, internal and environmental factors. But I can assure you this, it’s not the Church’s rules and their enforcement that is to blame.

Genetics: MTHFR gene activity
Internal: Repression of or discontinuity with truth. 
Environmental: Stress, sunlight
Physiologic: Dopamine, Serotonin, Low Vitamin D, Testosterone, Thyroid, or Sulfate (SAMe). 

There is a place for discipline in society.  A work colleague of mine was telling me about his neglectful upbringing.  I ask him “how did you turn out so good?”  His response was, “the military”.  He said he needed the discipline because “I couldn’t even wake up and brush my teeth.”  When we cannot “nice” people into doing the right thing, then we need to have ways to discipline them into it. Of course this is all by the individual’s consent. There is no place for coercion in religion. 

In our day of permissive “helicopter parents” who are raising “snowflake” children, our society is getting soft.  Just yesterday, there was outrage over a father who made his daughter walk to school after she got suspended from the bus for bullying.  She walked 5 miles in the cold with a hat, coat,  and was followed the entire way by her loving and dutiful father in his car. We must not lose sight that there is an important place for discipline in our families and in our churches, and society.  

Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Lehi dwelt in a tent

I had the opportunity to help the hurricane Michael victims in Marianna, FL.  The Florida panhandle experienced catastrophic tree and structure damage. Massive oaks were uprooted and majestic pines snapped mid-trunk. Volunteers traveled from around the southeast area to lend a small helping hand to cut up a few of the innumerable fallen trees and tarp a few of the countless damaged roofs. 

While setting up tents for stake volunteers that would arrive late, a few of us got talking about Lehi dwelling in a tent (1Ne2:15). Many assume that for Lehi to possess tents that he must have been involved in some sort of trade business.  But I think this assumption misses an important scriptural truth. 

In my opinion, Lehi was able to pack up his tents and provisions and flee Jerusalem with his family not because he was in the tent or trade business, but simply because he was a faithful Jew.  As a faithful Jew, Lehi would have observed the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth).  One of the 3 yearly Jewish feasts required that all Jews travel to Jerusalem dwell in tents or huts for 8 days. Jews were to eat in their sukkah, sleep in their sukkah, read, pray, and rejoice in their sukkah (Lev 23:42). 

One significant  purpose of the Feast of Tabernacle was to look back and commemorate the deliverance of Israel by the hand of God by remembering when Israel was called out of Egypt and dwelt in tents in the dessert. Additionally, the feast looked forward and prepared God’s people for a possible future when God would again call Israel to flee Babylon and to be led like Lehi to a promised land. 

In our day, we take for granted that camping is a thing. We take it even more for granted that tents and camping equipment are relatively cheap and available at the local Walmart.  In our day, in addition to camping, modern prophets continue to preserve a cuture of preparation (prepper culture) by calling God’s people to keep a storage of food and water (not guns and ammunition). 

Many generations have come and gone who have stored canned wheat, beans and rice and the great Tribulation of which the Bible forewarns never occurred.  However, the practice of keeping a food storage serves to preserve these practices among God’s people and in the community. Again, like camping, we take it for granted that buying and canning storage wheat is even possible. 

Imagine if the great Tribulation were to begin next week and God was to visit all His people in a dream like Joseph in Egypt with instructions to store a years worth of wheat. How would someone with no prior concept of storing anything or where to get it and where to put it, possibly comply?  Some ultra-faithful would find a way to obey, but many others might feel overwhelmed at the command and give up. 

Fortunately, we believe in a God, who is not only King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but also the Ultimate Prepper of Preppers. As such, God has prepared His people generations in advance to observe and preserve a culture of self-reliance, provident living, and preparation. Accordingly, when the promised End-times Tribulation does eventually occur, a remnant of God’s people will be preserved to welcome our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ again to the Earth. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Utah Legalizes Medical Marijuana

So, I am reading that Utah approved medical marijuana.  What is more surprising, is that the Church of Jesus Christ is reported as supporting medical marijuana legalization.

The LDS Church hopes the compromise will push heavily to make the marijuana products that are legalized “medical” and not “recreational”.  Every effort is being made to assure that the drugs are available as pills or other medical products, not as things that can be eaten or smoked.  Also to make sure that patients actually have the qualifying medical conditions and that the drugs are distributed by pharmacies under the prescription of at least 2 physicians.  

However, we should remember, Utah banned cannabis in 1915, making it one of the first states to do so. The state legalized non-psychoactive CBD oil to treat severe epilepsy in March 2014, making it the first state to legalize only CBD oil without legalizing other forms of cannabis.

Marinol, Dronabinol and other Orecigenics are schedule 3 substances, CBD oil was recently moved to schedule 5 and already legal in Utah.  So, I’m really not sure this new medical marijana compromise really accomplishes anything good.  I think the Church maybe was hood-winked on this. I only see this new legalization making illicit forms of cannabis more available and socially acceptable. Medical forms were already legal.

I am in agreement with the Academy of Pediatrics that marijuana possession should be decriminalized but there are no proven effective medical uses for marijuana in addition to problems with quality, purity and potency.

“For adolescents, marijuana can impair memory and concentration, interfering with learning, and is linked to lower odds of completing high school or obtaining a college degree. It can alter motor control, coordination and judgment, which may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries. Regular use is also linked to psychological problems, poorer lung health, and a higher likelihood of drug dependence in adulthood.”

Okay, if you are one of the few kids with Dravet sydrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome then those kids are welcome to gave access to FDA approved CBD oil (Cannabidiol without the THC).  

My thoughts on this:
1. the brain rewards productive behavior.
2. artificial stimulation of reward centers is an exploit, and robs a person of motivation.  Chemically stimulating reward centers is a lie, and constitutes self-abuse. (you didn’t earn that dopamine surge). 
3. If you have a terrible job that’s not fulfilling, then get a new job. You may have earn the right to reward yourself afterwards with a good meal, relaxation, reading, and a productive hobby, etc; but not to harm yourself with non-productive and harmful psychoactive chemicals. 
4. Recreational activity and even relaxation can still be productive (hobby, rest, exercise, socialize) without needing to chemically trigger dopamine reward centers.
5. New high-THC cannabis is harmful and causing paranoia and psychosis in addition to causing hyperemesis and negatively affecting judgement.
6. People will buy cannabis off the street where quality, potency, purity is very uncertain. 
7. There are no proven medical uses for marijuana.  CBD oil, Dronabinol, Marinol can are already being used in specific FDA-approved cases for seizures, appetite stimulation and nausea. 
8. Possession and using marijuana should be decriminalized. Over-enforcing/interpreting the law can be as bad a under-enforcing.  Its not right and wrong, but a straight middle road and 2 wrongs on either side. (Aristotles Golden Mean). 
9. People should be free to grow cannabis in their back yard, or brew their own beer, but distrubution and sales of a recreational substance to an addicted person who lacks capacity constitutes harm. This was the legal basis of the 18th Amendment.
10. Addicted people who abuse themselves need rehab and not jail. Rehab abd self-abuse is the jurisdiction of the Church.  The State jurisdiction punishes those who harm others.
11. Loses in worker productivity and increased medical costs will exceed potential tax revenue.
12. Legalization is leading to greater social acceptance and widespread use by adults, adolescences and children.
13.  Like alcohol, the recreational vs. medicinal use is tied to its formulation (packaging). Medicinal cannabis is in a pill or gel cap.  Recreational cannabis is smoked or is in a brownie (edible). 

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Virtue Hierarchy

I’ve been on a Jordan Peterson binge lately. I think this interview is great because it has an  (admitted) feminist and masculinist (competent-ists) talking about the issue of social order, hierarchy, position, power, rights, responsibility and justice.

However, this anti-patriarchy, vs. pro-competency debate is really a false dichotomy.  The truth is that political and social power is meant to be primarily based on virtue and empathy.  Dr. Peterson occasionally refers to a conspiracy of evil in the world but is not open about the extent of its authority, influence, and power (secret combinations).  Also, it’s this oppressive conspiracy of evil and corruption that Helen Lewis is referring to but ascribes to patriarchy. 

In the Bible, David built his citadel that stood next to and looked down upon and protected the future temple.  After the temple was constructed, Solomon built the Milo which was a raised stepped structure and platform that connected the citadel on Mount Zion with the temple on Mount Moriah (Ophel).   This isn’t teaching theocracy but teaching a unity of foundation.  Government protects religion, and religion (temple) establishes the basis for virtue in which we are to judge and select our political leaders. In Bible times, this principle was modeled by the High Priest ordaining King David and Solomon and the prophets Samuel and Nathan criticizing them

In the political arena, virtue is not completely ignored, but often overlooked.  We seem to initially care about whether US president’s inhaled, or what the definition of “is” is.  But in the end we conclude that competence to do the job is unrelated to their life-long pattern of basic moral character.   Yet, at the same time, we have conservative supreme court justices torn apart by accusations of workplace harassment or threat of a serious moral indiscretion at a high school party. 

Isaiah 2 teaches that the restoration of the temple will ultimately bring the long-sought peace on Earth. One day the Lord’s Temple will be used as the basis for morality and virtue.  It may be that political candidates will require a worthiness interview and bishop’s endorsement to run for office.  Thr Church of Jesus Christ wouldn’t pick our political leaders, but vet the potential candidates.  The special-interest controlled Press has failed in vetting our political candidates so far. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Zelophehad’s Daughters

I’ve been listening to some of Dr. Jordan Peterson.  His ideas and words are routinely misrepresented by the mainstream media. Dr. Peterson is a phycologist from the University of  Toronto who made a name for himself by publically objecting to government mandated speech (gender pronouns).  Dr. Peterson has some great insights into the most fundamental Bible stories (Fall, Cain v. Able, Crucifixion, etc).  Dr. Peterson is less well-known for developing the OCEAN personality assessment which was used to characterize individuals based on the “Big 5” personality characteristics.  This assessment was used by Cambridge Analytica/SCL Group to micro-target tailored political advertisements via Facebook to US voters. 

Dr. Peterson has been touring the country talking about and defending the social order and competence hierarchy (NOT patriarchy). According to Peterson, there are more men represented at the top but also the bottom of our social order (CEO’s and sanitation workers).  However, the preponderance of men at the extremes is not all due to corruption, discrimination, and oppression, but are multifactorial.  The main factors are based on a combination of biological realities and individual preferences.   

That said, Dr. Peterson does not deny the existence of corruption, discrimination, and oppression.  These problems exist and need to be stopped.  However, oppression is not the reason why their are more female nurses and more male engineers in Sweeden and Norway. He welcomes the idea of more women leaders and women in all fields of study.  However, Dr. Peterson encourages freedom of opportunity and preference vs. a government-coerced and artificial equality of results. 

The US has become increasingly divided.  Its like both sides are speaking different languages and not just watching different news networks. Dr. Peterson values the left and the liberal political spectrum which balances and checks the social hierarchy. Conservatives are great at running things, but creative liberals come up with new ideas that improve them 

Dr. Peterson doesn’t reject feminism or social welfare, but warns of the dangerous tactics being used by the extreme left, some  feminist and socialist.  Dr. Peterson warns against inflammatory rhetoric that seeks to silence people, incite protest, rebellion, and violence (“Rules for Radicals”).  Dr. Peterson also warns against identity politics, victimization, and  class guilt.  Incendiary rhetoric like this was used to fuel the rise of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao.  Instead of fomenting a rebellion and overthrow of the current social order, Dr. Peterson advocates greater competence, assertiveness and better negotiating with the competence hierarchy. 

The story of the 5 Daughters of Zelophehad (Num 27:1-11).  In this story, Moses had divided up the land of Israel amoung the 12 Tribes.  Rules of inheritance were given that specified that a man’s land was to be divided among his son’s and that the oldest son was to recieve a double portion. But these rules did not account for situations were a man had no sons, but daughters. The rules of inheritance in this case were incomplete, and unfair.  But, instead of rebelling and inciting a revolution to overthrow Moses like Korah (Num 16),  the 5 daughters of Zelophehad respectfully petitioned and negotiated with Moses. 

The Book of Mormon highlights several instances were characters appeal to social justice, identity politics and victimization to make false arguments to justify rebellion and murder.

1 Nephi 17:20: Laman and Lemuel claim that they have concern for the women’s suffering while traveling in the wilderness. 

Alma 30:27: Korihor claims religion is oppressing its adherents from enjoying their  rights, and religious leaders are glutting themselves off the substance of their followers. 

Alma 54:17: Ammoron (Nephite King of the Lamanites) claims the Nephites have stollen the rights to rule from the Lamanites. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Remembering Our Name

I think we all sense the stready moral decline of the United States and the world in general.  Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham famously said, “If God doesn't judge America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."  We have seen some and can expect increasingly political and social pressure on the Church of Jesus Christ as the Church chooses to take a stand on moral issues in an increasingly immoral world. 

During this past General Conference, President Dallin H. Oaks stated that the Church will take a firm stand on social and moral issues when they impact the Plan of Salvation.  In many other instances, regarding the politics of New York, Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo, and Utah; the Church has endured considerable adversity and been an example of being a peacemaker and enduring persecution with patience. The Church moved away from initial race integration fearing being labeled abolitionists and to make peace with our Missouri neighbors.  We moved away from polygamy as a social welfare system to make peace with an antagonistic, secular Utah Territorial government. 

Elder Uchtdorf talked about “weltschmertz” which is a great German compound word that refers to the “the sadness caused by brooding on how the world is inferior to what we think it ought to be.”  Elder Uchtdorf taught that the remedy to this dispair is to dedicate ourselves to the Lord's cause and in doing so we can find that our lives are full of purpose meaning and peace.

In the face of greater impending adversity and judgement, President Russell M. Nelson delivered the perfect spiritual advice.  As God’s people, first and foremost, we must remember and never forget the name by which we are called— the name of Jesus Christ.  What we call ourselves and what others call us is a big deal. We cannot forget Jesus Christ in our Church’s name because this is the only name by which we can hope to be saved. 

Rabbi Chaim Richman talks about the Book of Exodus (Shemot = names).  According to him, Jewish Rabbi's say that Hashem delivered Israel from Egypt even in their idolatry because they had kept their Hebrew names, language, clothing and identity. According to Rabbi Richman, remembering their names brought Israel deliverance from Egypt.  

Our leaders are focusing us on the most basic fundamental principles so that, despite our failings, we may also qualify for deliverance: 1. our name 2. sabbath day observance 3. ministering. 4. home-centered learning. 

October 2018 General Conference

LDS Conference Saturday Morning

2-hour Church

Home-Centered Church and Gospel Learning

We can do hard things

God expects hard things of us

Forgiveness, Illness, church service

Look like, sound like, and act live disciples of the Lord. 

The Savior faced hards thing 1Ne 19:9

Christ is the foundation of Zion

Small and simple things

Make homes sanctuaries of faith 

It is more than okay to bring children into this wicked world.  We don’t have to fear. 

“They that be with us are more than those that be with them”

Prayer can bring down blessings.

Stand in Holy Places: homes, church, temples = safe places.

We must receive revelation to combat false doctrines.  

We need to live gospel to receive revelation.

Be able, worthy, and qualified and we will be not troubled.

We need not fear if we are on the covenant path.

Secular learning is not the only source of truth. 

The Church is standing up for family values because they are essential for God’s plan of salvation.

Keep on the covenant path.

LDS Conference Saturday Afternoon

King Ahad vs Elijah. 

How long do ye halt between two opinions? 1King18

If He exists? Worship Him, If it is true then follow it

The Gospel should be the defining focus of our life.

The President of the Church possesses and excises all gift and keys bestowed upon the church. 

The prophet has the gift of prophetic seer-ship.

Be a force for good in the world

Develop righteous patterns and habits

Christ is the only name by which salvation happens

We must take His name upon us. 

Life is not vanity

weltschmertz = “The sadness caused by brooding on how the world is inferior to what we think it ought to be”

Those who dedicate themselves to the Lord's cause find their lives are full of purpose meaning and peace.

Discipleship begins with three words: 

Believe, love, do.

LDS Conference Sunday Morning

Joseph F Smith revelation on the redemption of the dead. 

Develop a shepherd’s heart. 

Feed Christ’s sheep.  Be angels.

Jump in the pool and swim towards those who need you. 

Unrestrained anger can be more destructive than the injury that provoked it.

Those grievances have far exceeded their expiration date. 

Forsake and forgive offense and be peacemakers. 

Share the gospel. Ask if others want to know more.  Be latter-day gatherers. 

Richard Norby- Brussels Airport

In life we will taste the sweet and the bitter.

Like the 2000 Stripling Warriors, none were lost but they all received many wounds. 

Nurse the wounds of others. 

Even the prophet is beloved of God but not spared pain and trials.

Do not exclude Christ’s name from His Church. 

What’s in a name? everything.

Israel was delivered because they did not forget the name by which they were called. 

LDS Conference Sunday Afternoon

Christ will be with us in our trials

If we are willing to take Christ’s name.

When we serve God

speak for God

Feelings in our heart: meek, lowliness in heart, charity

We need to understand Gods true nature in order to have faith in Him. 

Take upon ourselves Christ’s name.

God is well aware of our afflictions

Repentance is part of Gods plan.

God will help us return to the gospel path.

Choose repentance. Our choices determine who we are. 

If there is anything in your life that you need to consider, now is the time. 

Holier approach to caring for others.

Be a faithful sheep dog.

Look to the future with optimism. 

Visit the temple often to preserve the fire of conversion. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ministering in Unity

You could take a 1000 Watt incandescent bulb and shine it against the wall all day long and not do much.  You may heat up the wall a bit.  On the other hand, if you take a 10 Watt laser where the photons are unified and coherent with one another, that 10 Watt laser will burn a hole in just about anything.

The scriptures foretell that the number of God’s faithful in the Last Days will be few in number.  However, like coherent laser light, if God’s people are unified together focusing our efforts on a specific issue; we can burn holes in any problem. 

John 17: 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:

President Nelson’s Book of Mormon Challenge

President Russell M. Nelson said, "I’ve made lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals.... Looking at the Book of Mormon through those lenses has been an insightful and inspiring exercise. I recommend it to each of you."

The Book of Mormon is:

— "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Its major writers — Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, Moroni — and its translator, Joseph Smith, were all eye-witnesses of the Lord.

— A record of his ministry to people who lived in Ancient America.

— True, as attested by the Lord himself.

The Book of Mormon affirms:

— The individual identity of Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

— The necessity of the Fall of Adam and the wisdom of Eve, that men might have joy.

The Book of Mormon refutes notions that:

— Revelation ended with the Bible.

— Infants need to be baptized.

— Happiness can be found in wickedness.

— Individual goodness is adequate for exaltation. Ordinances & covenants are needed.

— The Fall of Adam tainted mankind with "original sin."

The Book of Mormon fulfills Biblical prophecies that:

— "Other sheep" shall hear his voice.

— God will do "a marvelous work and a wonder," speaking "out of the dust."

— The "stick of Judah" and the "stick of Joseph" will become one.

— Scattered Israel will be gathered "in the latter days" and how that will be done.

— The land of inheritance for the lineage of Joseph is the American hemisphere.

The Book of Mormon clarifies understanding about:

— Our premortal existence.

— Death. It is a necessary component of God's great plan of happiness.

— Post-mortal existence begins in Paradise.

— The resurrection of the body, reunited with its spirit, becomes an immortal soul.

-- Our judgment by the Lord, will be according to our deeds and the desires of our heart.

— How ordinances are properly performed: e.g. baptism, sacrament, confer the Holy Ghost.

— The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

— The Resurrection.

-- The important role of angels.

-- The eternal nature of Priesthood.

-- How human behavior is influenced more by the power of the word than power of the sword.

The Book of Mormon reveals information previously unknown:

-- Baptisms were performed before Jesus Christ was born.

-- Temples were built and used by people in ancient America.

-- Joseph, 11th son of Israel, foresaw the prophetic role of Joseph Smith.

-- Nephi (600-592 B.C.) foresaw the discovery and colonizing of America.

-- Plain and precious parts of the Bible have been lost.

-- The Light of Christ is given to each person.

-- The importance of individual agency and the need for opposition in all things.

-- Warnings about "secret combinations."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Jordan Peterson Collection

Job vs. Career vs. Family vs. Christ vs. Meaning

Men vs. Women on agreeableness.  Peterson teaches women assertiveness training.  Ruth thinks most men could use agreeableness training.

Should gay couples raise children?

Crime and Aggression


Pareto Distribution = Matthew Principle

Bible Series: Temple and Ressurection

12 Rules for Life

Competence Hierarchy

Problem with Atheism

Scale of Perception 

Acrive Imitation is the Religious Element.

Depression and Success

Wisdom vs. IQ

Don’t get angry, but out-stubborn your kids.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Jordan Peterson on Nuclear Family

Jordan Peterson reports the right of children to be born into families with both a mother and father.  Fathers like male rats engage the children in rough-and-tumble play which is critical in brain development the absence of which can lead to increased ADHD.

We have been losing the battle on defending traditional marriage and families. I think if we can’t define marriage or articulate the benefits, we will continue to do poorly.  We also are confused about the role and boundaries of religion, and government.

1. The business of pure religion is providing individual welfare services and promoting individual virtue.  (James 1:27). 

2. The jurisdiction of religion covers the prevention, discipline and rehabilitation of self-harm behavior and vice. Other private specialized professional organizations can be created to treat extreme cases. 

3. Religion uses the institution of the family and family organization to promote virtue and provide individual welfare. 

4. Historically, religion used re-marriage, polygamy and adoption to care for the needs of the widow and the fatherless.

5.  The human brain is designed to chemically reward productive, goal-directed behavior. Stimulating chemical reward centers via non-productive, artificial, chemical, or by illicit sexual promiscuity constitutes vice and self-harm.

6. Recreational, non-medicinal use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other substances for their psychoactive affects exploits the brain’s reward centers and constitutes vice and self-harm.

7. Eating a limited amount of simple sugar is beneficial because your body almost entirely runs on sugar.  Sugar is the fuel of the body.  Food is a combination of sugar, protein, fat, fiber.  However, your cells operate almost 100% on sugar (except starvation conditions) and converts protein and fat into sugar when used as fuel.  Eating a balanced diet involves eating a diet that is composed of a balance of sugars in the form of sugars (primarily complex carbohydrates =starch), protein, fat, and fiber. 

8. Marriage is ordained for the proper and  accepted expression of human sexuality for the purposes of unifying the marriage bond, biological procreation, and nurture of biological and adopted children. 

9. Children have the absolute unalienable right to receive a full genetic inheritance from a human male and human female. 

10. Children have the right to be raised in a family with the nurture of both a human male and female where human maleness and femaleness behavior and characteristics are modeled. 

11. Children have the right to be raised in a traditional family by a mother and father who are married and who exhibit and model the commitment, love, self-sacrifice, service, unselfishness for one another and the children. 

12. The jurisdiction of the State applies to individuals who perpetrate a harm on others. 

13. The State should never make a law with regard to a belief.  Laws should not promote, nor punish nor restrict belief, nor promote, punish, restrict one belief over another nor limit or promote its expression or transmission. Atheism, Humanism, Scientism, Statism constitute belief as much as Theism.  The State should not make laws to equalize or regulate belief.  Exposure to others beliefs does not constitue harm. Persons in government can openly share and promote, discourage belief without creating legislating their belief.  

14. The State can punish lies (knowing falsifications and omissions with intension to deceive), slander, libel, and speech that is intented to promote or incite violence and/or physical harm to others. 

15. The State protects individual rights of life, liberty, property, as well as providing for the general welfare (roads, bridges, rail, mail, monetary system), and national defense. 

16. Consenting adults who wish to create a same-gender union are 

17. Laws can promote the traditional family without necessarily criminalizing their violation. 

18. Individuals may grow and consume their own tabbacco or cannabis or brew their own beer for personal consumption which constitutes self-harm, but the sale and distribution of recreational psychoactive substances constitutes a harm on the addicted consumer and is therefore prohibited and punishable under that law.