Posted on April 7, 2010 by Dennis
At this last General Conference, I was anxiously awaiting someone–particularly President Monson or the Presiding Bishopric–to discuss details about the Church’s new mission: helping the poor and needy. This mission will be added to the the Church’s existing three missions, which will be called four purposes: perfecting the saints, proclaiming the gospel, redeeming the dead, and helping the poor and needy.
I assumed that it would at least be mentioned. Which would have been nice, as most members I’ve talked with, including priesthood leaders, are unaware of the announced addition to the church’s mission.
To my surprise, there was no mention of it (unless I missed something). This post is not a complaint; I imagine the Brethren know what they’re doing in terms of implementing the new mission. Perhaps they just want to take the time to develop a systematic program before they make a big deal out of it.
So why did the Church make the announcement several months ago? Perhaps it was more a message to the world than to the Saints. Perhaps they didn’t want to wait to let others know that we are really serious about helping the poor and the needy.
I’m curious if anyone has information about the rolling out of the fourth mission. Has the Church communicated anything about this to stake or ward leaders? Has anyone’s ward, stake, or quorum began any kind of organization or new callings associated with helping the poor? For example, has anyone’s Elders Quorum called a Helping the Poor and Needy chair? And would it be OK to do something like this, absent specific instructions from Salt Lake?
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine | Tagged: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, fourth mission of the church, fourth purpose of the church, General Conference, LDS Church, Mormons, Thomas S. Monson, three missions of the Church | 7 Comments »
Posted on April 5, 2010 by Dennis
This was kind of a rough General Conference for me — because of the little one — but it was still inspiring as always. Dominant themes included the Resurrection of Christ, teaching children the gospel, and having hope and faith in the midst of turmoil and adversity.
Because this post is late and synthesis requires more effort than chronology, I’m just going to list the Top 10 “moments” that stood out to me (in chronological order), and include some of my own thoughts:
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine | Tagged: Atonement, charity, Dallin H. Oaks, David A. Bednar, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder Rasband, family history, healing, Henry B. Eyring, Jeffrey R. Holland, Jesus Christ, lust, missionary work, moral agency, pornography, Priesthood, priesthood blessings, Quentin L. Cook, Resurrection, Russell M. Nelson, Temple work, Thomas S. Monson | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 28, 2010 by Joe O.
This is the first in a five-part series on marriage, wherein I discuss charity in marriage, why the gay community should favor marriage between a man and a woman, and why Latter-day Saints are not positioned well to defend against gay marriage.
In all three scriptural accounts of the physical creation, Adam is created of the dust of the earth, while Eve was created of Adam (Genesis 2:7, 21-22; Moses 3:7, 21-22; Abraham 5:7, 15-16). Adam, upon seeing woman for the first time, notes the significance of this division when he calls woman bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. What is striking to me is what Adam says next: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (v. 24 in Genesis and Moses, emphasis mine). Were they not already one flesh before God removed the rib from Adam’s side?
Filed under: Faith, Mormon Culture, Relationships, Scripture | Tagged: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Faith, Folk Theologies, LDS Church, marriage, sanctity of marriage, Scripture, traditional marriage, women | 15 Comments »
Posted on November 10, 2009 by Joe O.
This site has been quiet for some time and it makes me wonder if we’ve stopped “thinking in a marrow bone.” I haven’t stopped thinking, but I’m not sure if I’m doing much thinking that’s worth anything. So instead, I’d like to issue a challenge and have you do the thinking for me: someone help me understand why so many Mormons accept evolution whole cloth without settling some of the most crucial divisions between doctrine and Darwinian dogma?
Let me reveal my ignorance by talking about things I don’t understand.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Science | Tagged: "survival of the fittest", age of earth, carbon dating, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, creation, creationism, death, eternal matter, evolution, Garden of Eden, intelligent design, LDS, LDS Church, Mormons, natural selection, Resurrection, Science and Religion, Two Great Commandments | 29 Comments »
Posted on October 4, 2009 by Dennis
I always feel spiritually rejuvenated after General Conference, and this conference was no exception. Here are some of the dominant themes and highlights I noticed, along with some of my own thoughts:
1. Fresh ways of looking at the “fundamentals”
I sometimes grow tired of the way the “fundamentals” in the Church are sometimes talked about by church members: “the Sunday School answers; you gotta read, pray, and go to church; you gotta make good habits; etc.” It’s not that I disagree with the importance of the “fundamentals,” it’s that I think they are too often talked about in shallow ways.
This conference, however, had several excellent talks that can aid members in the way they think and talk about the “fundamentals” of consistent scripture study, prayer, family home evening, and worship.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Scripture | Tagged: Africa, Atonement of Jesus Christ, Book of Mormon, Boyd K. Packer, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, conversion, Dale G. Renlund, Dallin H. Oaks, David A. Bednar, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Gospel of Jesus Christ, heart transplant, Henry B. Eyring, Holy Ghost, Jeffrey R. Holland, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Joseph W. Sitati, LDS, LDS Church, Michael T. Ringwood, mighty change of heart, Mormon Church, Mormons, Neil L. Andersen, Richard G. Scott, Richard L. Bushman, Robert D. Hales, Rough Stone Rollling, South Korea, testimony, Thomas S. Monson, Two Great Commandments, Vicki Matsumori, Yoon Hwan Choi | 2 Comments »
Posted on July 20, 2009 by Dennis
In many respects, Catholics and Mormons have similar views on abortion. In general, both churches are pro-life, although individual Mormons are probably more likely than Catholics, at least in the U.S., to be pro-life. Plus a larger number of U.S. Catholics are more likely to emphasize (Democratic) legislation and interventions to reduce abortion, rather than (merely) emphasize (with Republicans) repealing Roe v. Wade. So, on average, it is probably safe to say that individual Mormons are more conservative than Catholics on the abortion question.
However, in terms of their institutional positions, it is the other way around–the LDS church is more liberal.
These differences are relevant in light of the Catholic church’s recent automatic excommunications of the family and doctor of a nine-year-old Brazilian girl who received an abortion. The pregnancy (twins) was a result of rape from the girl’s father (the girl is not subject to automatic excommunicated because of her age). Two weeks after the decision (March 2009), the archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho (who made the ruling) stepped down, prompting some to wonder whether the Vatican disagreed. Time Magazine (above link) reports, however, that a recent Vatican publication “unequivocally confirmed automatic excommunication for anyone involved in an abortion — even in such a situation as dire as the Brazilian case.”
Filed under: Comparative Religion | Tagged: abortion, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, automatic excommunication, Catholic, Catholic abortion position, Catholics, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, excommunication, incest, LDS, LDS Church, Mormon abortion position, Mormon Church, Mormons, Pope Benedict XVI, pregnant 9-year old, pro-choice, pro-life, rape, Vatican | 16 Comments »
Posted on July 11, 2009 by Joe O.
My five-year-old daughter came home from Primary one Sunday and told us all about her lesson the Word of Wisdom. Her teachers had creatively made pictures of things that were “bad” so the children could throw them away. They threw away images of cigarettes, alcohol, tea, and coffee – all the things that are restricted based on D&C 89 and other, later admonition from the prophets.
Filed under: Mormon Culture, Mormon Doctrine, Scripture | Tagged: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Latter-day Saints, LDS, LDS Church, LDS Primary, Mormon health, Mormons, Word of Wisdom | 5 Comments »
Posted on June 2, 2009 by Joe O.
I’m not usually a literalist about the scriptures, but I’m a little baffled by a verse I read today and the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 137. This section is the account of a vision Joseph Smith had of the celestial kingdom. He names Adam and Abraham, as well as his parents, as inhabitants, likely those who were saved “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.“
And then he mentions his brother, Alvin. Joseph “marvels” that his brother Alvin is there, “seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.” And then the great revelation that “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.” Of course, this revelation plays a big part in understanding why we do work for the dead in our temples…right?
Here’s my question: What was Alvin doing there in the celestial kingdom when his work hadn’t been done yet?
Filed under: Scripture, Theology | Tagged: Alvin Smith, Celestial Kingdom, Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants 137, Folk Theologies, Gospel of Jesus Christ, interpretation of scripture, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, LDS, life after death, mass confusion, Mormon Church, Mormons, Resurrection, Scripture, scriptures, Temple work, temples, Theology, unanswered questions, work for the dead | 14 Comments »
Posted on April 15, 2009 by Dennis
Just a few thoughts from my reading the accounts of the resurrected Christ to his followers.
In three visitations, Christ was not recognized at first: (a) the visitation to Mary at the empty tomb, (b) the extended journey with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, (c) and the appearance on the shore while Peter and the disciples were fishing.
I think it can be profitable to point out what happened before His followers recognized Him. For Mary, it was after he called her by name. For the two disciples, it was when he blessed and broke bread. For the fisherman, it was after they, following His instructions, pulled in their net overflowing with fish.
Perhaps these stories can be analogous to our lives, in terms of recognizing the Savior’s presence and influence. When we feel that Christ knows us personally and calls us by name; when we partake of the sacrament and renew covenants with God in His name; and when, following His instructions, we are successful beyond our wildest dreams in building His Kingdom — in these circumstances, we see Christ for who He really is.
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Filed under: Religious Experience, Scripture | Tagged: Easter, empty tomb, Gospel of John, Gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints, Mary Magdalene, missionary work, Mormons, Peter, Resurrected Christ, Resurrection, road to Emmaus, sacrament | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 26, 2009 by Joe O.
Things are quiet on the blog lately, so I figure it’s a good chance to make an appearance. Perhaps few people will read this entry and then I can likely avoid being blacklisted.
I applied to teach at Messiah College in Pennsylvania recently and part of the application was affirming the Apostles’ Creed. I affirmed the Apostles’ Creed, and I did so because I agreed with all the statements that were made within the creed. However, after having done so, I couldn’t help but recall the words of Joseph Smith when discussing his First Vision: “the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (JS-H 1:19).
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Theology | Tagged: Apostles' Creed, Christianity, creeds, First Vision, God, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormon Doctrine, Mormons, orthopraxy, Theology, Trinity, truth | 17 Comments »
Posted on March 24, 2009 by brentm
“Can you be a good Mormon and want to be a millionaire?”
This question, or something very much like it, was posed in my Sunday School class last week. I think the very question says something interesting about the asker, but since my short answer (“No”) would not have gone over terribly well, and my longer and more justified answer would’ve taken over the lesson, I thought a blog entry might be a good place to explore the issue.
Filed under: Scripture | Tagged: Brigham Young, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, economics, eye of a needle, Gordon B. Hinckley, Hugh Nibley, Jesus Christ, King Benjamin, Latter-day Saints, love of money, Mammon, Mormons, rich young ruler, riches, Scripture, Solomon, Sunday School, wealth | 34 Comments »
Posted on January 25, 2009 by Dennis
I’m going to say what many Latter-day Saints are thinking, but some are afraid to say: Sunday School is often mediocre.
I really don’t wish to gripe. I definitely realize that each person — teachers and students — need to do their part. I also recognize that most teachers try hard and take their callings seriously. But certainly Sunday School doesn’t have to be the mind-numbing chore that it seems to be for many members. We can do much better!
In this post, I offer ten simple tips that could radically improve Sunday School lessons. (Yes, I will be that bold.) These tips are simply suggestions from myself, a Latter-day Saint who has done a fair amount of teaching and thinking about this issue. They can be applied by virtually anyone, in my opinion.
Filed under: Faith, Scripture | Tagged: Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormon, scriptures, Sunday School, teaching, testimony | 41 Comments »
Posted on December 27, 2008 by Dennis
This is the second of a series of short posts entitled “Meditations on Time.” In this series I will explore some of my thoughts and experiences concerning time and the gospel.
In my previous post, I talked about my childhood fear of living forever. As a young boy, I thought that living forever would be boring and even frightening. I concluded that I would simply live in the present and not worry too much about it.
What I’m aiming to do in this series is to discuss why this childhood view — simply live in the present — is problematic.
I know it’s a couple days after Christmas, but I would like to briefly talk about Ebenezer Scrooge’s resolution at the end of A Christmas Carol. After being shown his tombstone by the Ghost of Christmas Future, Scrooge pleas:
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
Filed under: Literature, Relationships, Religious Experience | Tagged: A Christmas Carol, alienation, Atonement, Charles Dickens, Christmas, consumerism, Cratchitt, death, Ebenezer Scrooge, eternal life, existentialism, Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Future, Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Irvin Yalom, Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints, LDS, materialism, Mormons, oncology, time, Tiny Tim | 3 Comments »
Posted on October 5, 2008 by Dennis
I thought I’d take a minute and discuss what I consider to be the highlights of this weekend’s semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine | Tagged: "I stand at the door and knock", "lift where you stand", "no poor among them", "one heart and one mind", "poisoned by degrees", "yoke is easy", 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Je, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Alexander Pope, As You Like It, charity, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, courage, D. Todd Christofferson, Dallin H. Oaks, David A. Bednar, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elaine S. Dalton, Faith, Far West Missouri, General Conference, Gerald Klause, gospel teaching, gratitude, Great Apostasy, Henry B. Eyring, Henry David Thoreau, here and now, hope, Independence Missouri, Jesus Christ, Kansas City, L. Tom Perry, Lawrence E. Corbridge, LDS, LDS Church, Lehonti, meaning in suffering, meaningful prayer, meekness, Mormons, mouths of babes, Parley P. Pratt, Philadelphia, Poverty, priesthood callings, Quentin L. Cook, Restoration, Restored Gospel, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Empire, Rome, sacrament, sacrament meeting, scriptures, Shakespeare, suffering, temple worship, temples, The Morning Breaks, Thomas S. Monson, unity, virtue, Walden Pond, Wendell Berry, William D. Oswald, Zion | 4 Comments »
Posted on September 28, 2008 by Brady
How often have you heard someone testify from the pulpit that prayer works, that priesthood blessings work, that the gospel works? Well, I heard one of those again today and (as always) it made me cringe. By now I’ve probably proved myself someone who gets a little too caught up in the way people say things and I plead guilty here. I really believe that the sister in my ward who said that the gospel works meant to say much more than her words alone conveyed. But, since this is a blog and not sacrament meeting, I think I might indulge myself in a bit of nitpicking.
Filed under: Relationships, Theology | Tagged: behaviorism, Christianity, determinism, egoism, evidence-based practice, God, individualism, instrumental reasoning, Latter-day Saints, LDS, love of God, materialism, morality, Mormonism, Mormons, pragmatism, prayer, psychotherapy, reductionism, relationships, self-centered, utilitarianism, William James | 8 Comments »
Posted on September 24, 2008 by Joe O.
Whenever I hear people talk about the kingdom of God, it seems like it’s always referred to in the future tense. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if the kingdom of God isn’t already all around us.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Relationships, Theology | Tagged: baptism, Book of Mormon, children of God, Christ's visit to America, Doctrine of Christ, Gift of the Holy Ghost, God, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, LDS, Love, Mormon theology, Mormons, Scripture, sons of God, Theology, Two Great Commandments | 10 Comments »
Posted on September 18, 2008 by Jeff Thayne
Many of us compartmentalize our lives in a way that would seem strange to scholars of past centuries. We talk about our religious lives and our academic lives as though they were two separate things, divided in a way that protects one from the effects of an error in the other, as a bulkhead on a ship may protect other compartments from being flooded by water. However, this modern separation of our academic and spiritual life is a very recent development. I believe that the division between spiritual and secular knowledge is a false distinction, and, as Richard Williams has pointed out, found nowhere in scripture.1
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Philosophy, Science | Tagged: apostasy, Carl Rogers, compartmentalization, Dallin H. Oaks, Great Apostasy, knowledge, Neil A. Maxwell, Philosophy, potter's clay, progression, Restoration, Restoration of All Things, Restored Gospel, Richard Williams, sacred, Science, Scripture, secular, truth, turning of things upside down, unconditional positive regard | 16 Comments »