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.

Going to church while on vacation

I am on vacation in the Rocky Mountains with the family. We went to church today and there was an announced crowd at Sacrament meeting of more than 400 people. The reason they announced the crowd was that this was apparently a record. The chapel was filled, as well as the two overflow rooms, Primary and Relief Society. It took nine members of the Aaronic Priesthood 40 minutes to administer the Sacrament.

It was Fast Sunday, so we also heard some nice testimonies. During the testimonies, we learned that normally there are fewer than 100 people in the chapel for Sacrament meeting. The year-round residents were astounded but impressed to see so many people there for church.

When you go to Church on vacation you have to do a bit of planning. You need to bring something resembling Sunday clothes. When you have children, this adds a bit of stress because something is always forgotten. In our case, I forgot to bring a tie and a belt for my slacks. My wife forgot to bring a skirt. The kids forgot their Sunday shoes. So we were a motley crew sitting in the back today. But we were happy to be there among the Saints, and I don’t think anybody cared that we weren’t in our Sunday best.

I have been to Church literally around the world while on vacation or traveling for work. I regularly go to church near Waikiki in Hawaii. I have been to a small chapel in Puerto Montt, Chile where the members all kept their down jackets on throughout the service, even though the building was heated. I have been to chapels in London and Hong Kong. Sometimes I just stay for Sacrament — more often I stay all three hours.

I am happy to report that Church services in southern Chile are almost exactly the same as services in the U.S., Hong Kong and London. And I am also happy to report that people have been friendly and welcoming in nearly every chapel I have attended. So, the Church is true, even on vacation.

Feel free to share some of your stories about church services while traveling.

LDS church growth continues strong

The below guest post in which a writer reports that Church growth continues stirred a predictable reaction from the ex-Mormon crowd. One of the ex-Mormon boards linked the story, and we got dozens of mean-spirited comments from the nasty people who read those boards. The primary sentiment was, of course: there is no way the Church is growing because (insert anecdotal story here about all the people you know who have left the Church).

Sorry, ex-Mormons, go home, you are drunk.

This website titled “LDS Church Growth” has been chronicling the growth of the Church for many years.

So far in 2016, 54 stakes and and 12 districts have been added to the Church. Five stakes and five districts have been discontinued. Net growth: 49 stakes and seven districts in the first five months of 2016. In 2015, 67 stakes and 32 districts were added and seven stakes and 13 districts were discontinued for a total growth of 79 stakes and districts. So Church growth in 2016 has been way up from an already strong 2015.

Go check out the web site for yourselves. There are a lot of fascinating stories about Church growth in different spots around the world, and even a few anecdotes of the Church losing members in some areas.

As most readers know, the Church reports membership at April conference, and the Church reported in 2015 that there were 257,402 converts baptized and 114,500 new children of record for a total church membership of 15,634,199.

Brothers and sisters, the Church is true whether or not it is growing. There may come a time when Church growth slows down or we even lose members on a year by year basis. But the truth is that on a worldwide scale the Church is indeed growing today. It is just a fact.

Taking President Trump seriously

I have a lot of friends on social media, and one of the consistent themes I have found is that almost nobody takes Donald Trump seriously. By this I mean that they have not really stopped to contemplate what a President Trump would mean. What would President Trump actually do? And how different would he be from the other Republicans candidates we have seen lately, including Mitt Romney?

Let me start this post with the following important disclaimer: I am NOT going to vote for Donald Trump for president. As a libertarian/conservative, I oppose a lot of what Trump stands for, and my conscience will not let me vote for another person who does not understand the basic principles of liberty.

But in the interests of being somewhat of a contrarian and perhaps even literally a devil’s advocate, I would like to propose that most people have not adequately thought through what Trump would be like as president. Most of our dear readers have certainly not considered that he is not that different from the other Republican candidates out there.

Let’s consider Trump vs. Mitt Romney. In favor of raising the minimum wage: both Trump and Romney. Repealing Obamacare: Trump and Romney. Against illegal immigration: Trump and Romney. Likely to do deals with Democrats to “get things done:” Trump and Romney. Want to get “tough on China:” Trump and Romney. Want common sense tax reform: Trump and Romney. Lower the corporate tax rate: Trump and Romney. I could go on, but my point is that when it comes to the actual issues Trump and Romney don’t disagree that much.

When it comes to demeanor and style and honesty, I think Trump and Romney are exact opposites, and I definitely prefer Romney’s demeanor and style to Trump’s.

So, the Mormon love for Romney and disdain for Trump has much more to do with style than policy substance.

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What I think about when I don’t want to go to Church meetings

I’m sure that every reader of this blog has experienced days — perhaps even months or years — when it is really difficult to get motivated to go to Church or specific church meetings.

Let me make this clear: I got baptized in my 30s and still have some of the fire of a recent convert, but I occasionally feel negative thoughts about a church meeting.

You are not alone if you feel this way. And you probably have some very good reasons for some of those negative thoughts.

Does this sound familiar?

Sacrament meeting: your kids will not sit still, and they fight with each other, and they run down the aisle, and they are noisy, and you, the parent, get absolutely nothing out of the meeting because you spend the whole time chasing them down or trying to keep them under control. Or if you don’t have young kids, how about the Sacrament Talk of Doom that is poorly organized, includes doctrine that is not correct or is horribly boring?

Your calling: you have been called yet again to (fill in blank here) calling that you really don’t like. The people you teach are not inspired and sit silently for an hour while you desperately try to get them to participate.

Priesthood: Once again, Brother Know It All is teaching, and he is spouting his crazy ideas. You look at your watch about 20 times during the lesson.

Relief Society: Once again, Sister Molly Mormon is teaching, and she is making you feel bad about yourself because you don’t do all of the activities she does.

The point here, ladies and gents, is that we all have felt these things at one time or another. There is nothing wrong with you if you have had these thoughts.

I have found that when these negative thoughts come into my mind I can drown them out with positive thoughts. Here are a few suggestions:

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Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Midnight Special’

This is the latest in the occasional series on movies that have themes that will be appealing to latter-day Saints.

The movie being reviewed is called “Midnight Special,” which is a sci-fi flick about a boy who has special powers and his parents’ attempts to protect him from the government and a cult leader who want to kidnap him.

Let me point out that the title is very disappointing and does not do this movie justice. The title makes it sound like a tawdry cop buddy movie, when in fact it is a surprisingly family-friendly film intended to get the audience to think about the Big Questions. This is one of those rare movies that does not have any swearing, no sex, no nudity and only a bit of violence (thus the PG-13 rating). The acting and directing is excellent.

I want to warn you that I cannot review this movie from the Mormon perspective without SPOILERS. This is a movie that relies on mystery and surprise, so do not read the rest of this review unless you don’t plan on seeing the movie or unless you have already seen it.

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