A People Prepared for the Restoration

One of the talks that really stood out to me in this most recent general conference was one by Elder Jairo Mazzagardi entitled “The Sacred Place of Restoration. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on my blog explaining how this talk helps us learn about the process of receiving personal revelation.

This week I have been thinking quite a bit more about the question that caused Elder Mazzagardi to struggle so much: Why did the restoration have to occur in North America when it did rather than anywhere else or at any other time in human history? He offers some answers in his talk, namely the existence of religious freedom and the confluence of religious revival and economic explosion in upstate New York. These are very significant answers, but certainly many more things could be added to that list.

I have been listening recently to free lectures on Open Yale Courses while working out or commuting. And this week I have been listening to a phenomenal course of the Civil War and Reconstruction by historian David Blight. One of the early lectures is about the “Northern World View.” Listening to this lecture gave me added insight into Elder Mazzagardi’s question. Continue reading

Special Interest Groups

Since the beginning of Civil Rights for women, blacks and other special classes, we’ve seen an explosion of new special classes with special rights and privileges not given to other classes.

With Gloria Steinem’s version of feminism came a movement that not only sought to bring equality, but to actually diminish other groups, white males, in particular. Over the decades, white males have seen their place in society diminish. Privileges, based usually on merit, were given to others based on special class. Men were denigrated, as many women felt that women needed men like a fish needed a bicycle (Gloria Steinem). With the off-putting of men, came a decline in their self-esteem, determination, role as father and husband, and key bread-winner. There are more women graduating from college and high school than men. Single mothers often are the norm, rather than traditional families with two parents (M/F). Many young men today find it easier to find escape from the role confusion by spending their lives in video games, porn, and other “safer” relationships.

In the last couple years, we’ve seen a new special class rocket to the top, which suddenly gives some men the opportunity to beat women at their own game. For those who watched the Growing Up Kardashian tv show, you saw lots of pretty women that did pretty much what they wanted, while Bruce Jenner stood in the background frustrated. No longer is this the case. With changing his sex and name to Caitlyn, Jenner now has as many photo ops as Kim Kardashian. Caitlyn was named “Woman of the Year”, something natural born women were used to winning in the past. Continue reading

Rooting our Worship in the Savior

I recently had a dear friend publicly announce that she was leaving the Church. I have known about her objections and her decision for a while, but seeing her announce it was still painful.

One of her criticisms that I have also heard others mention is that she felt that teaching in the Church was not focused enough on Jesus Christ and too focused on peripheral matters such as tithing or food storage. She felt that these matters distracted from the focus on Jesus Christ and harmed her relationship with him.

Of course, there is some merit to this critique. We should always strive to do better in tying our discipleship and everything that we do to the Savior and his Atonement. Without him all of the commandments that we keep, callings we hold, and sermons we preach would be in vain. Without his grace, everything would lack efficacy and meaning. If we lose sight of that, we lose sight of the true core of the Gospel. Continue reading

Public Faith – conversation at Wesley Theological College #publicfaith

Join the live stream as Mike McCurry (former White House Press Secretary), David Gregory (CNN), and Reverend Ginger Gaines-Cirelli talk about faith in public life.

https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/support/faith-in-a-public-vocation/?bblinkid=18305467&bbemailid=1486059&bbejrid=97920914

If you have a question, comment – I have access to index cards and am sitting in the front.

LDS church growth continues strong

The below guest post in which a writer reports that Church growth continues stirred a predictable reaction from the ex-Mormon crowd. One of the ex-Mormon boards linked the story, and we got dozens of mean-spirited comments from the nasty people who read those boards. The primary sentiment was, of course: there is no way the Church is growing because (insert anecdotal story here about all the people you know who have left the Church).

Sorry, ex-Mormons, go home, you are drunk.

This website titled “LDS Church Growth” has been chronicling the growth of the Church for many years.

So far in 2016, 54 stakes and and 12 districts have been added to the Church. Five stakes and five districts have been discontinued. Net growth: 49 stakes and seven districts in the first five months of 2016. In 2015, 67 stakes and 32 districts were added and seven stakes and 13 districts were discontinued for a total growth of 79 stakes and districts. So Church growth in 2016 has been way up from an already strong 2015.

Go check out the web site for yourselves. There are a lot of fascinating stories about Church growth in different spots around the world, and even a few anecdotes of the Church losing members in some areas.

As most readers know, the Church reports membership at April conference, and the Church reported in 2015 that there were 257,402 converts baptized and 114,500 new children of record for a total church membership of 15,634,199.

Brothers and sisters, the Church is true whether or not it is growing. There may come a time when Church growth slows down or we even lose members on a year by year basis. But the truth is that on a worldwide scale the Church is indeed growing today. It is just a fact.