About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

The unavoidable consequences of OW participation

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson, who is a father, husband, attorney and active member of the Church.

In a recent Facebook exchange, I was asked to share what in my life would be damaged if women were ordained to the Priesthood. My response was that his question missed the mark. I haven’t opposed Ordain Women (OW) because I think that female ordination would be such a terrible thing. Rather, my opposition to OW is that it is a trap that will lead people out of the Church. A friend responded and insisted that “Mormons are not being led out of the church by OW.… For me and many other Mormons OW and FMH has provided a profound place of comfort and solace within the church.”

This refrain has been repeated many times and in many places by folks from the OW crowd. OW founder Kate Kelly has repeatedly stated that OW is perhaps the greatest retention effort in the Church right now. Most recently, in the “Getting Started” handout related to OW’s new six discussions, OW claims “we have already seen this organization serve as an LDS retention effort for women who left, or were considering leaving, the Church due to their feelings on gender inequality.” OW actively promotes itself as a group who provides a “profound place of comfort and solace within the Church” as observed by my friend. But this is a false claim. In fact, I propose that there is nothing about participation in the OW movement that will strengthen someone’s commitment to the Church. Instead, the natural consequence of participation will be to lead women and men out of the Church.

OW must realize the course they are setting will lead people to have difficult conversations with their Bishops and Stake Presidents. From the very beginning OW has a “Productive Conversations Toolkit” available on their website. The purpose of this document is to prepare OW acolytes to “effectively and confidently engage in conversations with leaders and peers about Ordain Women and the ordination of LDS women.” The document begins by introducing the hypothetical that the reader has “just got called in to meet with your church leaders.” It then gives specific advice for, among other things, avoiding discipline. Why would such a thing be necessary if it weren’t for the fact that it was entirely foreseeable and expected that activity in OW would lead to potential Church discipline or other problems?

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‘Really? Wow!’ A discussion of mental illness, disabilities and the Atonement

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Collyer, who says about himself, “Not much to say really. I’m a middle-aged member of the Church, married to a fabulous woman with whom I do my best to raise 4 children, living in the UK. I’ve been writing my own blog about the Atonement for the last 6 months or so – www.allthingswitness.wordpress.com”

This is a subject which I feel is incredibly important, but it is a post I’ve found this a particularly difficult to write, so I hope that a) I can do it some justice, and b) those with particular insights and experience will comment*. It is a subject we rarely discuss, but which I feel we need to gain greater insight into, so that we are better able to comfort those in need.

A few months go I posted a couple of articles on my own blog on the subject of depression, what I consider to be one of the great plagues of our age, and how we can find relief through Christ. Those posts can be found here, and here. While depression is fortunately becoming increasingly discussed in the Church (not enough yet I think, but we’re making some positive progress), other aspects of mental illness or disability are generally discussed either rarely and on obscure internet forums, or (more likely) not at all.

But if Christ suffered for ALL of our pains, sicknesses, and afflictions, that means he suffered also for our mental illnesses and disabilities; it means that through His atoning sacrifice there is power for those suffering. Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said, “No grief is so great, no pain so profound, no burden so unbearable that it is beyond His healing touch.” (Special Witnesses of Christ, Ensign, April 2001). That includes those with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Personality Disorders; and it includes things like Autism, and so many other conditions. Some individuals with these and a host of other mental illnesses and disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and they, along with those who care for and are very close to them, often suffer intensely through their lives. Surely of those whom the Saviour would wish to comfort most in this life, these sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father are amongst the most precious to Him, and I’ve no doubt that He weeps for their pains and sorrows.

The seeds of my decision to write on this broader issue of mental illness and disability, and the Atonement, probably lie in a meeting I had some time ago with someone who suffered from Bipolar Disorder. The purpose or content of the meeting are not relevant, other than to say that this good man had suffered for many, many years. At one point during the meeting, I felt a prompting to say to him something along the lines of, “Brother………., I want to testify to you that our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered for all of our afflictions and infirmities. And in suffering for them, He also understands them. Christ knows what it is like to have Bipolar Disorder. He understands!”

Well, the reaction of this good man was something I hadn’t expected. He was a religious man already. He already believed in Christ, but now his eyes widened, and he replied in an astonished voice, “Really? Wow!”
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Book Review: ‘The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law’

tuttle

Libertarian political thought is booming in the United States with hundreds of new books published on the subject every year. But almost none of those books have been aimed at younger students. LDS author and political activist Connor Boyack is trying to fill that void with a new book titled “The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law.”

The book follows the nine-year-old twins as they consult with a wise older man who is their neighbor as part of a school project. The man (named Fred) helps them consider just and unjust behavior and points out that immoral behavior does not become moral if members of the government do it.

Fred encourages the twins (named Ethan and Emily) to voluntarily give to others but points out that a government that steals from some people to give to others is a government that encourages pirate-like plunder.

One of the key exchanges is this:

“True laws protect people and their property from plunder,” Fred explained. “When true laws exist and are respected, people work hard to improve their lives and they work peacefully with others. Everyone prospers together and is happier.”
Ethan wrote down “True laws protect people.”
Fred continued, “When there isn’t any legal plunder, people rely on the kindness and service of others for the things that they need.”

Fred’s teachings are based on the 164-year-old book called “The Law” written by French author Frederic Bastiat. Bastiat was not an anarchist and favored some government but pointed out that government, even well-intentioned, justifies immoral acts in the name of collective action.

The Tuttle Twins book points out that it is moral for people to voluntarily give to others but it is immoral for people to expect the government to take from some people to give to others. It uses the example of Fred voluntarily giving tomatoes to his needy neighbor but says that if the needy neighbor hired the police to take the tomatoes it would obviously be immoral.

So, how did the Tuttle Twins book do with actual young people?

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Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse?

I link the following story and highlight a few salient points not because I am any kind of expert on the Episcopalian church (I definitely am not) but because it provides a pretty stern warning for those out there who would like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to imitate the liberal tactics espoused by the Episcopalians (and other liberal mainline churches, which are losing members in droves).

It appears that people who go to church actually prefer churches that stand for something rather than just reflecting the pieties of the secular culture.

Read this on the collapse of the Episcopalian church.

And read this on the huge decline in membership of liberal mainline churches and why it is happening.

A few key quotations:

Among the old mainstream denominations reporting to the National Council of Churches, the Episcopal Church suffered the worst loss of membership from 1992-2002 — plunging from 3.4 million members to 2.3 million for a 32 percent loss. In the NCC’s 2012 yearbook, the Episcopal Church admitted another 2.71 percent annual membership loss.

At this year’s convention, David Virtue reported: “In all the talk about same sex this and transgender that, there is absolutely no talk about sin. A psychologist friend of mine opined that talk of ‘sin’ here would be considered psychologically damaging and offensive to a lot of people, especially gays, so it is off the radar screen. ‘No sin, please; we’re Episcopalians.’

Why are Episcopalians leaving one of the oldest denominations in America? Perhaps that can be answered by New Hampshire’s V. Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Episcopal bishop. When he addressed the fifth annual Planned Parenthood “prayer breakfast” April 15, 2006 in Washington, D.C., he declared that “religious people” are the enemy.

Indeed, this is what we need. Religion without any actual religious people.