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 sins of Sodom

Those who believe the sins of Sodom were exclusively sexual sins need to consider this scripture:

Ezekiel 16:49: Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

It is clear from reading the account of Abraham and Lot that Sodom was not all about sexual sin. Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” (Genesis 13:12) a symbol that he favored the things of the world over spiritual matters. Abraham, on the other hand, went to Hebron and immediately built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 13:18).

Over time, it has become clear that Abraham was known for his generosity, his charity and his humility. Lot pitching his tent toward Sodom showed that he did not care that the people of Sodom were unwelcoming, haughty, prideful and uncharitable. We cannot discount the fact that Sodom was evil precisely because the people did not care about the poor and were prideful (just as people in the Book of Mormon were often guilty of the same sin).

But those who would like the sins of Sodom only to be about lack of charity face a conundrum: the scriptures and the teachings of modern-day prophets make it clear that the sins of Sodom were also sexual in nature.

Consider the verse that comes right after Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:50:

And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

Yes, the people of Sodom were prideful, but they were also guilty of sexual abominations. The Church Topical Guide references these sins.

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Harold Ramis, RIP. A review of his best movie here.

Harold Ramis, the director and actor, has died. He will be remembered a lot for “Ghostbusters,” which was an OK movie, but not nearly as good as the brilliant “Groundhog Day,” which is still one of my favorite movies ever.

Enjoy this review of “Groundhog Day” from 2005. “Groundhog Day” is still the best “Non-Mormon Mormon Movie.”

(Harold Ramis has a cameo as a doctor in “Groundhog Day” by the way).

‘Us’ vs ‘them’

President Obama famously said “the government is us.”

I don’t think anybody believes this.

Some people might say they believe this when one policy they favor is approved by voters. If you are a tea party supporter, you might have been temporarily cheered during the 2010 elections, or if you wanted Obama to win in 2012, you might say to yourself, “the people have spoken.”

But nobody really believes the government is “us.” The government is almost always “them.”

Skeptical? Think back to World War II. The government (“them”) rounded up Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps. Was that a government of “us?” How about the many governments of the South that enforced segregation or turned a blind eye to lynchings or fought civil rights in general? Many individual white people in the South, especially business owners who wanted new business, favored integration, but the governments (“them”) prevented it.

Ancient history, you say? What about the NSA spying on all Americans’ phone calls, texts and internet communications? I literally do not know anybody in real life who defends this policy. Everybody I know, from conservative to liberal and all shades of politics in between, finds this extremely alarming. Yet nobody feels like we can do anything about it. “They” are in control. “We” are helpless. This is not a government of “us.”

Here is an easy test to see if you feel like you are in control of your government: how would you feel if you got a call from the IRS? Would you feel uneasy? Would you imagine a painful audit or a pleasant experience? How about being molested by the TSA as you do nothing but take the voluntary action of boarding an airplane? Is that a government of “them” or of “us?”

On a local level, do you really think your local police are concerned about “you” when they set up speed traps? Or are they concerned about raising revenue for “them” and “their” concerns? Speed traps have nothing to do with “protect and serve;” speed traps about about “them” getting away with fleecing you out of $150 (or more) of your hard-earned money.

Now, compare this to your experience at Church.

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Who are the best and worst U.S. presidents?

If your criteria is following the Constitution and promoting liberty and prosperity, the five best are:

1)George Washington
2)Grover Cleveland
3)Calvin Coolidge
4)James Monroe
5)Ronald Reagan

The five worst are:

36. Jimmy Carter
37. George W. Bush
38. Richard M. Nixon
39. Woodrow Wilson
40. Lyndon B. Johnson

Note: Obama was not in the survey. FDR was number 35.

As something of an amateur historian, I agree wholeheartedly with these results, although I might quibble here and there with some placements. For example, I am not convinced Reagan should be rated above Thomas Jefferson. But in general, yes, this is the way I see things.

If you had read the post….

This is a guest post by Michael Towns.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a small treatment entitled “Yes, God is a Child-Sacrificing and Misogynist Bigot”. The ideas were largely based on concepts that were elucidated by Blake Ostler in his latest work, “Fire on the Mountain.” In it, Ostler discussed the Akedah (the Binding of Isaac in Jewish parlance) and the sacrifices involved with polygamy. The provocative title was chosen on purpose. Regrettably, some people simply read the title and then proceeding to build a case against me.

Ostler brought up, in my opinion, some truly deep and astounding points regarding the lengths that God will go to in order to reveal Himself. Exploring the notion further, not only does God wish His children to know Him personally, but He wants a deeply profound and intimate relationship. Ostler himself draws extensively from the work of Martin Buber, who was a prominent 20th century Jewish philosopher. Buber postulated the idea that in order to truly know a person, you have to leave certain preconceived conception behind. (I would heartily recommend that you pick up a copy of Oster’s book.)

By way of example: if I have a certain neighbor who happens to be an attorney, and that is the only way I ever view him, then I never see the reality of who he is: a divine child of God and future god. Instead, all I see is an attorney at law and all my interactions stay fused to that myopic coda.

However, if I do in fact see the divinity in my neighbor (perhaps the attorney analogy is misguided), then all my interactions with him change. The potential for true friendship and intimacy grows leaps and bounds. He and I can go on to greater heights of spirituality.

So it is with God. If the only way I view God is that he is an advanced hedge fund manager in the mode of George Soros, dispending funding to any number of progressive causes like subsidizing birth control pills, then is it not possible that I am missing something profound in His nature? The shoe fits on the other foot: surely God is not a caricature of Ronald Reagan, lowering taxes and bringing down Iron Curtains with the rod of his mouth. If that is how some conservatives view God, then they are missing profoundly important dimensions of who God is.

Here is my point: God will reveal Himself to us, and he will not be who we think he is. In a way, he plays a heavenly hijink on us. He desperately wants us to know Him, and to cast aside our preconceived ideas.
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