Supporting the Brethren on the environment

As I pointed out in this post, it is easy to support the Brethren when they take positions that agree with your ideology. But a faithful Latter-day Saint should support the Brethren even when it is difficult.

The Church has made several statements about the environment in the last few years. The most important is this:

All humankind are stewards over the earth and should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy.

God created the earth to provide a place for the human family to learn, progress and improve. God first created the earth and all living things spiritually, and all living things have great worth in His eyes.

The earth and all things on it should be used responsibly to sustain the human family. However, all are stewards — not owners — over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations.

Approaches to the environment must be prudent, realistic, balanced and consistent with the needs of the earth and of current and future generations, rather than pursuing the immediate vindication of personal desires or avowed rights. The earth and all life upon it are much more than items to be consumed or conserved. God intends His creations to be aesthetically pleasing to enliven the mind and spirit, and some portions are to be preserved. Making the earth ugly offends Him.

I would like to ask readers to read the above statement at least twice before proceeding. My experience is that most people read all kinds of things into that statement that simply are not there.

OK, have you read and re-read that statement? Yes? Then let’s keep on going.

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Supporting the Brethren on the issues of refugees and immigration

As most readers know, M* supports the Church and its leaders. This means that most readers and commenters are what we will call (for lack of a better term) “conservative Mormons.”

On many issues like same-sex marriage or abortion, this does not create much stress for conservative Mormons because the Church seems to support our views.

But what about the issue of the Syrian refugees? And what about immigration?

The Church issued a letter two weeks ago asking members to assist the refugees. How did you respond to that letter? Did you contribute other offerings? Did you participate in local relief projects?

Here is what the Church said:

It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships,” states the letter.

The letter explains the Church is assisting migrants and refugees in several countries “thanks to the generous help of our members.”

Mormons have been providing aid to refugees in the Middle East for more than a decade, providing hundreds of thousands of blankets, clothes, emergency medical supplies, food and other resources to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.

In response to the recent crisis in Europe, the Church made an additional commitment in September of $5 million to help displaced families.

The letter continues, “Members may contribute to the Church Humanitarian Fund using the Tithing and Other Offerings donation slip. We also invite Church units, families, and individuals to participate in local relief projects, where practical.”

“May the Lord bless you as you render Christlike service to those in need,” the letter concludes.

Let me state quickly that this is not a post intended to scold anybody. I want us to “reason together.” I don’t have all the answers, and I think people of good will can disagree. But if we support the Brethren, shouldn’t we support humanitarian efforts to help the refugees?

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Divine Doctrines and Policies

As I’ve listened to conversations regarding the latest church policy regarding SSM, I have been increasingly frustrated by discussions over the distinction between doctrine and policy. Some members seem to use this distinction as a cudgel in order to claim that they sustain prophetic leadership without actually agreeing with Church policy. In this mindset, doctrine’s come from God, but policies are purely man made or arbitrary. But this is a gross distortion of reality.

I believe that an accurate conception of church policy is essential in order to truly remain rooted in the Gospel while living in a society which is deeply opposed to church doctrine and policy. Church policy can best be understood as a divinely inspired, and at times commanded, application of the Doctrines and Principles of the Gospel. Continue reading

Reluctant Polygamist: Advanced Review Copy available Cyber Monday

JosephFor over a year, there have been those requesting a copy of my Faithful Joseph series in book form.

On November 30, the advanced review copy (ARC) will be available. ARCs are usually extremely close to final form. In this case, I invite critical and substantive review and will make modifications to the final version where warranted. A dedicated website has been created to foster open discussion of any critiques.

The ARC will be available in at least three formats: Paperback, Kindle book, and pdf file.

Copies of the ARC will be available at cost through the end of January. Reviewers will have through the end of March to make comments they wish to see addressed in the final version. The release date for the final version will be announced the first week of April.

Why the new title? Why bother with an ARC? How is this different from the Faithful Joseph posts? Continue reading