Emergency (Gospel) First Aid

Roughly 175 years after the terrible accusations of summer 1842, I got an e-mail from a friend. Various family and friends had told my friend all about why Joseph Smith and the Church were wrong. They didn’t know who to ask other than me (which is a sad commentary of some sort).

They trust me to be honest – perhaps a bit too explicit and open mic, in fact. But for this person, they didn’t want to feel like they were being “handled.”

The questions were:

Q: Did Joseph destroy public property?

Q: Did Joseph lie to Emma about Eliza snow? Who caught them in bed? Was it Emma? How old was Eliza when this happened? Why was the revelation received after the incident?

Q: Why didn’t Joseph use the urim and thummim? If those were God’s tools, why didn’t he use them?

Q: To obtain the priesthood, do you have to be a full tithe payer? Are you denied the priesthood if you don’t pay tithes? In particular, did Joseph demand money for ordaining people to the priesthood and did he demand that people pay for the Book of Mormon?

Q: Where in scripture or the Family Proclamation is it stated that those who engage in same sex marriage (or relationships) cannot hope to ever be saved. Why isn’t someone who beats their wife and children, for example, punished the way we punish those who marry someone of the same gender?

My friend, like many of us, no doubt, has someone (or a few) in their extended family who don’t identify as hetero-normal or CIS (i.e., comfortable with the gender one is born with).

My first thought was “you didn’t read my book…!” But when someone is bleeding, you don’t say, “Have you read my thousand page dissertation on transfusion?” You just whip out a bandage or tourniquet and help stop the bleeding. Then you can point them to the academic literature.

So here are a few answers I gave my friend. Posted since I suspect my friend isn’t the only one with these questions. Continue reading

Another Testimony of Joseph Smith

Facebook reminded me today of a post I wrote a few years ago about how I gained my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. From the original post:

“Growing up in the Church I think I look the life and Marytrdom of Joseph Smith for granted. I never really thought about my own testimony of Joseph Smith I just always thought I knew he was a prophet, because everyone around me said he was. Thankfully, that changed. Twenty years ago, on the 150th anniversary of the Martyrdom, there was a fireside broadcast in commemoration of the event from Carthage Jail in Illinois. President Howard W. Hunter and his councilors were going to be there as well. I was a young single adult at the time, attending a student ward. We had the last block of meetings in our building that day, and everyone had planned on staying for this broadcast. I really didn’t think much about it; in fact I didn’t even know that June 27th was the exact day Joseph Smith had been killed. But my friends were going to be there, so I stayed.

I’m so glad I did stay and I thought to pay attention because it was at this fireside that I gained my own testimony of Joseph Smith.

The service started with and opening song and a prayer and there were speakers. I don’t remember what they said at all. But near the end of the program there was a congregational hymn. I can’t even remember what song it was we were to sing, “Praise to the Man,” or “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief?” It didn’t matter. The camera panned to President Hunter, who was in a wheelchair and who looked uncomfortable in the heat of a late June afternoon in Illinois, but he was singing and enduring it well I thought. It was at this time that the Spirit spoke to my heart and my mind. “Joyce, Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration. And all the power and keys which were given to Joseph, reside with that man there, President Hunter. He is the living prophet – follow the prophet!” From then on, and for the last 20 years, I have had an abiding testimony of Joseph Smith. I know he was a prophet of God.”

You can read the whole post by clicking HERE.

I still testify that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration. That has been made manifest even more this year, as I’ve had the opportunity to teach Church History and the Doctrine & Covenants in our ward’s Gospel Doctrine class. We have living prophets on the earth today, and we will always do well to follow their council and teachings in all things. Helping others follow the prophet is also one of the most important things we can do. If you are struggling with something, look to what the living prophets have said and taught us. They love us, and want us to return to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Their words are the words the Lord and the Savior would speak if they were sitting next to us. Listen and follow!

A Picture of the Sun

This is a guest post by Nick Galieti, a podcaster for LDS Perspectives and Book of Mormon Central. Nick Galieti was recipient of the 2015 John Taylor: Defender of the Faith Award by FairMormon, is author of the books Tree of Sacrament, and The Exaltation Equation, and has directed and produced the documentaries Picturing Joseph, and Murder of the Mormon Prophet.

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Readers, Editors, and Reporters have different expectations of “the news.” Typically, readers claim to want the truth of events; Editors want what sells the news and ensure that what is presented is compelling; and reporters want to influence the world with stories that can impact change. While this characterization may be oversimplified, the various views of the role and function of “news” does depend on the filter by those who consume, promote, or produce it. This can be problematic as the medium that some suppose should be an unbiased or dispassionate reporting of events, is used as leverage to promote narratives, agendas, or simply to sell the news for revenues sake. In this regard, all news is “fake” in that no one can receive absolute objectivity, even if it is presented.

The song, “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” by Chris Cornell played on the radio, and a lyric stood out and gave me pause. The original lyric is “take a picture of the sun and it won’t help you to see the light.” After hearing this lyric my mind connected to a recent news story about a 12-year old Mormon Girl who came out as gay in a Sunday Meeting but was stopped and told to sit down by a local church leader. Much has been written, comments on social media have flared, and every source seems to have the “truth” or is reporting “honestly” or “accurately” while contradicting or giving different information than the next. Continue reading

If I Were President: Healthcare Edition

Today, we’ll discuss healthcare, since the Senate is debating their bill.

The Senate bill is similar to the House bill in many ways. Neither repeals Obamacare, but do repeal many of the mandates.

Four Senators, Paul, Cruz, Lee and Johnson oppose it so far, because the bill does nothing to reduce costs to people and employers. It is not a free market system, which we have not had in over fifty years.

If the following were added to the bill, I would find it acceptable:

First, allow insurance to be sold across state lines. This may be difficult to do, given the 10th amendment.

Second, allow Walmart, CVS, credit unions and other companies to offer insurance plans to their customers. With risk spread out over hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of customers, prices will drop. Just look at how prescription prices dropped from Walmart offering many for four bucks. It takes health insurance needs from employers, where people risk losing insurance when they lose a job.

Third, give a 2 year period for people with preexisting conditions to get insurance without a penalty. Then, every five years after that, have a three month open enrollment for preexistent conditions as a year of jubilee. In this way, those who choose not to get insurance until something serious occurs will not have that expensive monkey on their backs forever, but will pay a penalty for a few years. It gives them incentive to buy now, or take a risk of their own choice. And it will drive down costs.

 

Of course, a pure free market system would be awesome, but probably not attainable at this time.

How would you fix the Senate bill?