#daytoserve – A Report


Day to Serve is an initiative started in the DC area several years ago. During the month from September 11 – October 10/11, citizens from across the political and religious (or non-religious) spectrum select a day to serve and “are encouraged to make a concerted effort to feed the hungry, clean up neighborhoods, and improve communities by recognizing and participating in “Day to Serve” activities,” to cite Virginia’s Day to Serve proclamation for 2015. The event extends beyond the month in fall at times, as with the Washington Nationals’ Day to Serve game (Aug 8 this year), where all food donations and ticket proceeds go to the Capital Area Food Bank. Continue reading

How does the prophet choose new apostles?

With three vacancies in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, this is a rare and interesting time for the Church. How are new apostles chosen? Elder Christofferson offers some guidance.

Elder Christofferson said the selection and calling of new apostles to the Quorum of the Twelve is the prerogative of the president of the church.

“President Monson, I don’t know if this always has been the case, but his practice has been to ask each of his counselors and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve to give him names they would recommend for his consideration, not to discuss with each other but just individually, to give him whatever name or names they feel impressed he ought to look at,” he said.

“What process he goes through exactly, I’m not sure. That’s, again, something private he pursues. He then brings back, when he’s reached his decision and had the inspiration he needs, the name or names to the council that we have of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to sustain it. That goes forward to general conference.”

In April 2009, President Monson selected Elder Neil L. Andersen as a new apostle after the December 2008 death of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.

“I recall this last time around when Elder Neil L. Andersen was called,” Elder Christofferson said. “Before that happened, we were just discussing casually before one of our meetings of the Twelve about the vacancy, and I remember President (Boyd K.) Packer saying, ‘We don’t have to worry, President Monson knows how to get revelation.’

“That’s what it is, a revelatory process in the end. Different prophets may approach it in different ways, but in the end, it’s finding out from the Lord who he wants.”

Elder Christofferson talked about the increased responsibilities that fell on the remaining members of the Twelve with the deaths of their colleagues. Elder L. Tom Perry died May 30, and President Packer, who was president of the quorum, died July 3. Elder Scott had been unable to function in the quorum for months due to health issues.

“This is unusual,” Elder Christofferson said. “We found the last time there were three vacancies at one time was 1906, so it’s not something that comes very often, and I hope it always remains rare. But I see the wisdom in the Lord organizing a Quorum of the Twelve. Sometimes people think that’s a lot, but I can see that’s barely enough.

“It may add a little bit to the load or the responsibility or the assignments of those who are actively functioning for a time, but it’s a brotherhood, and we all pull together, and maybe some things don’t get done or are delayed until later that have lesser priority, but the things that really matter happen and, in the end, we all understand that it’s the Lord’s work, and he really is the one who does it and he lets us help. … Happily we get to be a part of it.”

The Deaths of the DeLongs: Searching for Blue Berries

In October 1845, during the height of the Mormon persecutions in Illinois, four of the nine members of the DeLong family died. The DeLongs were impoverished converts who arrived in Nauvoo in time to join the lines to view the dead bodies of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. After the parents and two children died, the rest were scattered. Of these, only one ended up traveling west as far as Utah. That four-year-old in a red flannel diaper and a straw hat would go on to be one of the first settlers of Panguitch, Utah.

I had heard as a youngling about how a neighbor had provided blueberries, from which Mother DeLong prepared a pie. But most of the children refused to eat the pie. Those who did, both parents and one son, all died of ague, violent illness. Mother DeLong gave birth the day her son and husband died, and both she and the new infant died soon thereafter.

The problem with the story was that blueberries have a very short season: in Illinois they are only available in July and August. Other members of the extended family criticized the oral history from the surviving family members because it didn’t agree with written records from this terrible time and the fact that Mother DeLong didn’t die the same day as her husband and son.

My personal experience as a pregnant mother taking lethal levels of drugs (in my case to treat the heart condition of my unborn son) helped me understand why a poison migh induce labor but not immediately kill.

That left only the identification of poisonous blue berries that could be mistaken for blueberries in early October in Illinois. I have been searching for a possible candidate berry for over a decade. Continue reading

Grading the Pope’s visit so far

Pope Francis is visiting the United States, and he is proving to be one of the most controversial popes of recent times. This is not a bad thing. But the Pope’s grades are are mish-mash: he gets some As and Bs but also a lot of Fs and Incompletes. Let’s take a look.

Dining with the homeless rather than with Washington politicians. A-PLUS. Did Jesus spend his time with the Sanhedrin and Pilate, or did he spend his time with the poor, sick and needy? You know the answer. The Pope leads by example here, and this decision alone makes his trip a success.

Condemning abortion. B. The Pope could have done more to specifically condemn government funding of abortion, but he is sticking to traditional Catholic teaching on abortion, and I think this is mostly a good thing. Of course, the Mormon position is somewhat different on abortion, but the Pope’s reminder that abortion is something to be avoided is a good moral lesson for us all.

Emphasizing the traditional family. A. The Pope gets excellent marks for pointing out that the family is under attack by the secular world. The Catholic church continues to oppose same-sex marriage even though such a view is not popular in Europe and the United States. News flash to liberals: same-sex marriage is still not very popular in many areas of Latin America, Asia and Africa, where the Catholic church is growing the fastest.

Emphasizing the importance of religious liberty. A. The Pope told President Obama that Catholics are concerned about maintaining religious liberty in the United States. Good for him. We should all be more concerned about this.

Compassion for immigrants. B. The Pope gets solid grades for his Christ-like love of immigrants, but the refugee crisis in Europe is not a simple problem that can be solved by Europeans blindly taking in millions of mostly Muslim people, the majority of whom are motivated by economics. Yes, the United States is a land of immigrants, but the United States also takes in millions of immigrants every year, and as much as I believe in the benefits of immigration it must be done in an orderly fashion with clear knowledge that many immigrants do indeed end up getting benefits from the government. The Pope seems not to care about this reality.
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