James Hamula released, no longer a member of the church

From James Hamula’s biography at lds.org:

August 8, 2017: This morning James J. Hamula was released as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following Church disciplinary action by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins provided the press no details about the removal. But the church did confirm Hamula was no longer a member of the church and that his ouster was not for apostasy.

This is the first excommunication of a LDS General Authority in the social media age. The most recent excommunication of a General Authority prior to today’s announcement involved George P. Lee, who was cut off in 1989 and admitted in court circa 1994 to touching the chest of a 12-year-old girl. The most recent excommunication of an LDS General Authority prior to 1989 occurred in 1943, when Apostle Richard R. Lyman was cut off for a long-term affair with a woman he considered to be his secret plural wife.

I urge readers to reach out in love and compassion to the Hamula family and their friends during this unprecedented public readjustment.

Update: The Deseret News has also published an article about this announcement, which discusses the reasons why the Church excommunicates individuals and the circumstances where they might explain the reason for the action.

Upcoming Cosmic Events

Three big astronomical events coming up over the next month.

1. August 20, Sunday, is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2. In 1977, Voyager 2 was launched on a journey to the outer planets. Along with Voyager 1, these two satellites did the first flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.  Traveling at over 38,000 miles per hour, Voyager 2 is now 15 billion miles away from earth. It is approaching the edge of our solar system. It will encounter the star Sirius in 300,000 years.

2. The following day, Monday August 21, is a solar eclipse. This is the first major eclipse across the United States since 1918. Beginning in Oregon and passing down through South Carolina, there will be a 70 mile swath of complete darkness across the states. Most of the US will see at least an 80% eclipse (here in Indianapolis, we’ll have 93% coverage). The entire event will be over an hour in length, with the full eclipse only a couple minutes in length.

Be sure to never look at the Sun without proper protection, especially during an eclipse. Regular sunglasses do NOT give ample eye protection. Only special eclipse sunglasses with an ISO 12312-2 rating. I purchased 10 pair on Amazon for $3.99, including shipping. Order now, to ensure they arrive on time.

3. September 5 is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1. Launched 16 days after Voyager 2, its trajectory brought it first to Jupiter, and so it was named V-1. Having traveled 18.5 billion miles from earth, Voyager 1 is the first and only manmade item to leave our solar system (August 2012). It currently is measuring the interstellar gases and winds.

Voyager was part of the plot in Star Trek movie with Captain Kirk finding an alien modified version centuries in our future. I thank Voyager for making me the Trekkie I am today.

The satellites run on a nuclear powered electric motor expected to run down by 2025. After that, they will not have enough energy to transmit anything else to earth. Voyager 1 will encounter star AC +79 3888 in about 40,000 years. The star is further out, but is approaching earth, shortening the time to arrival.


The Constitution – 230th Anniversary Edition

On September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was signed and we became a new nation. Previous to this, we lived under the Articles of Confederation. These articles gave all power to each individual state, but none to the confederation. Without a federal government, issues like common defense, treaties, interstate commerce, and a common currency were not possible. Under the threats of economic collapse and other nations waiting to take over weak states, the Continental Congress gathered. They initially gathered to patch up the Articles of Confederation, but it was soon agreed upon to scrap them and start fresh. Six weeks later, the draft was completed and sent to committee to finish it.

Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing the Constitution, article by article. Others are also encouraged to write posts on the Constitution.

Today, we’ll look at the Preamble.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

1. We the People of the United States – this is the first nation in modern history created and approved by the people. No kings, lords, nor authoritarians imposed their will on the people.

2. In order to form a more perfect union – the Articles of Confederation failed to hold the individual states together. “Not worth a Continental” described the federal government.

3. establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare – herein lies the main purposes for the Constitution. Provide a federal judiciary, handle interstate commerce and disagreements, defense department, and PROMOTE general welfare.

Note that the Constitution and its Amendments constrain the federal government to a certain number of things it can do. The states and local communities are better able to handle most challenges, not as a one-size-fits-all federal program (most of which have grown out of control, are costly, and do not help individuals very well.

To promote general welfare is not the same as providing general welfare. To promote it means to open up the free markets, between states and with other nations. It means having a Federal government that does not overregulate anything and everything.

Also note that the Fed is to promote GENERAL welfare, not specific welfare. This opens up the question of why the Fed is involved in specific welfare issues like healthcare, retirement, education and welfare? Should the Fed be so deeply involved in these, or should they be left to communities and states? Such questions continue in Congress and statehouses, even though many of our federal programs are generations old.

As we look at the articles of the Constitution over the next several weeks, we’ll see exactly what the federal government is expected to do, and what things may be prohibited. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

LDS Perspectives #47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin

Tyler GriffinTaylor Halverson

Episode 47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin Aug 2, 2017

Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin are co-founders and co-directors of the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group.

This group recently released the Virtual New Testament App and are currently working on a Book of Mormon geography app.

Nick Galieti talks with Tyler Griffin and Taylor Halverson about the usefulness of mapping Book of Mormon geography. Their efforts are aimed at situating the Book of Mormon within the text, rather than within America.  They hope that their app will help readers gain a respect for how geography plays a role in motivating characters in the Book of Mormon to make certain decisions.