About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

Just In Case You Missed It

A natural disaster, in the form of a 500 year flood, occurred last weekend in Nashville/Davidson County and the surrounding counties of  Benton, Carroll, Cheatham, Crockett, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner, Tipton and Williamson Tennessee. Perhaps the costliest non-hurricane disaster in the US, national news coverage has given little attention to this event. At this time, it is known that 29 people have died, and thousands of homes and businesses are underwater.  Nashville’s tourism industry has been severely crippled as Grand Ole Opry Hotel is 10 feet underwater along with nearby Opry Mills Mall. The touristy honky-tonks and restaurants on Broadway, the Schermerhorm Symphony Center, the Tennessee Titans’ field, and  the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are all flood damaged.  This article sums the spirit of cooperation and charity demonstrated by the Tennessee citizens.  Tennessee is nicknamed the “Volunteer State”, and it truly is, in word and in deed.

Creeks and rivers quickly rose, to overflow into nearby homes and businesses.

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A Tale of Two Wards: What Is Zion?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . . Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

In 2009 the full-time missionaries were pulled from our large ward and sent to a small ward, recently split, in a neighboring stake. This “other ward” has four sets of missionaries.  Our ward could be described as a typical transplanted Utah/Arizona/Idaho ward with a few true southerners. Pious yet worldly, are the  words to describe most of us. The news we no longer had full-time missionaries, was not well received by the members of our ward. After all, our  ward is upwardly mobile middle class, and we are accustomed to achieving success.  In all aspects of mormondom, we consider ourselves to be  well above average.  Our proselytizing failures are a blight on our wealth= righteousness checklist.  In contrast, the ward our missionaries were re-assigned to, can best be described as predominantly native Tennessee country folks plus single/married university students; with a few professionals such as a country doctor,  a small town lawyer, and a handful of college professors. This other ward is definitely not suburban upwardly mobile middle class. Humble and genuine would be the words to describe this other ward.

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Squirrels in the Engine or Adventures of a Redneck Woman

The car technician called to tell me an “act of God” had been visited upon my vehicle. Apparently the “wrath of the Almighty” would not be covered by warranty.   He inquired as to whether  I had homeowners insurance? I sank against the wall with the phone frozen to my ear.

“What?” I squeaked at the technician.

“Ma’am, you got squirrels in your engine.”


“Ma’am. It’s the biggest darn squirrel’s nest the boys and I have ever seen. Buckets of acorns too. The company don’t cover squirrels Ma’am. Anything a squirrel does is an act of God.”

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Temple Institute in Jerusalem- “Sons of Levi Prepare to Offer an Offering to the Lord”

The Temple Institute ( Hebrew translation: Machon HaMikdash) located in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, was founded on the principle of action. Rabbi Yisreal Ariel, a distinguished Rabbi and founder and head of the institute since 1987 is paraphrased in the following from the website:

Every generation is obligated to do all within its power towards rebuilding the Holy Temple this, as opposed to those who believe that we must wait for the Messiah to arrive before it can be rebuilt.

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