Black Lives Matter AND…

I have a unique background that few other white LDS members have. I lived in the deep South for 17 years, assigned during most of that time in stake and ward missionary callings. I was instrumental in beginning the work among African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama 30 years ago. With two full time missionaries, I opened the work in Tuskegee, and was their group leader until a branch was established. One of my greatest honors was being “adopted” as an honorary black brother to my dear deceased friend, Renee Olsen, who said I was among a few white Mormons that understood the black world (Margaret Blair Young being the foeremost expert in this area, IMO).

Still, I realize I do not carry the burden placed upon blacks by even well meaning whites of all religions and political views. Yes, even white Democrats do not understand and many of their words and actions harm more than help. When asked if Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders responded by saying “all lives matter”.

The problem is, for blacks, this is comparing apples to oranges. They are equivalent.

All Lives Matter means we should care and help all people, regardless of what class or caste they are placed in by nature and society.

However, Black Lives Matter is different. Unlike whites and many others, racial prejudice still lives on. Separate water fountains happened in the recent past, which was experienced by many older blacks we know. Today, most whites do not think that racism still happens. It does. More blacks are stopped by police than whites. Blacks, though a minority population, take up almost half of prison beds. Government ‘helps’ the poor (mostly blacks), by giving women welfare only if there is no man in the home. Teachers give up on black kids quicker than white kids. Even the Academy Awards demonstrated racist tendencies by giving no nominations to blacks this year.

If you were walking down a dark street, what would be your initial response if some young black men were to walk towards you? Would you feel the same if it were some white boys?

Black Lives Matter should not be compared to All Lives Matter. Both are valid statements, but mean different things. It is best if we do not insist on one over the other. They are both important, with different connotations. Black Lives Matter AND All Lives Matter.

We need to care for all people, from the womb to the deathbed. This is what Christ would have us do. But we also need to look at blacks as our brothers and sisters, treat them with dignity, and help lift them out of the tragic poverty and dependency that we have placed them in.

Christmas’ True Purpose

This Christmas morning, my wife’s cousin Facebooked that her son passed away today. Travis was born trapped inside a motionless body. Unable to walk, talk, or move his arms, many thought for years that he was in a total vegetative state. His mother always knew something that doctors only in the last few years were able to determine: Travis was awake and alive inside, with a functioning mind and brain.

Teresa would take Travis on vacations, cruises and trips anywhere and everywhere. Her Facebook page lights up with many of his adventures. One of their favorite vacation places was her Mom’s farm in southern Indiana, where we would often visit and spend time with Travis.

While his passing today on Christmas is a sad event, it is also a moment to reflect and rejoice. What better day for him to walk through that spiritual door into the next room, where loved ones and God await him?

Christmas is important, not because a child was born of a virgin, but because that child brought about the atonement and resurrection of all mankind. Because of Jesus Christ, each of us will live again. No longer will Travis be bound by useless limbs and a silent voice. During his mortal life, Jesus made the lame walk, the mute to speak, and raised the dead. Because of Christ’s mercy and love, today Travis walks, speaks, and lives eternally, never to taste of death, pain or suffering again.

And for this reason, while I mourn with his mother, sister and family, because we will all miss Travis, I also rejoice that Travis lives on this very Christmas day, and that we will one day see him again, and he will embrace us – something he was not able to do in mortality.

Reading Nephi Discussing John’s Apocalypse

Coming up in the next few weeks in LDS Sunday School classes, we will be discussing the Book of Revelation. As a new member back in December 1975, I recall hearing many messages regarding the Last Days, using the apostle John’s Revelation to figure out the tragedies and events of the Last Days.

Sadly, one way in which we miss out on what is found in Apocalypse is by looking at what it says on the surface, without using one of the best tools given us via the Restoration of the Gospel. Continue reading

Zion and the Tree of Life in the Latter Days

I joined the Church in 1975. Back then, much of what was going on in the world and believed by the world matched my new LDS views.  There were issues regarding the new sexuality that pushed against the Church’s stance on chastity, however. Still, most things were kosher between the world and church.

40 years later, we see huge divisions between the world and Church. The chasm between the two have grown large enough that many believers are being forced off the fence. Continue reading