#ShareTheGift

imageThe Church has started using direct e-mail to send messages to the members of the Church. If you have an e-mail associated with your LDS Account, you should have gotten the first of these e-mails this morning.

I really like this move. As is standard practice (and required by law in many places), the e-mail allows those who don’t wish to receive such direct communication to unsubscribe.

I enjoy the fact that when there is something important, I can be told immediately, rather than having to wait until Sunday services to hear a message read from the pulpit. This also gives me the chance to have an archive, so I can review anything of interest, rather than attempting to remember.

This first e-mail contained a link to the short video “He is the Gift,” which I have watched before and thoroughly enjoyed. It also included an invitation to attend the First Presidency Christmas Devotional this Sunday. Continue reading

On John Dehlin

John Dehlin recently posted speculation on why Kate Kelly was excommunicated and he is still a member of the Church. For those who don’t wish to read the entire thing, he bookends his speculations with these paragraphs:

Because people continue to ask…..I can only speculate as to why Kate Kelly was excommunicated and I have not been (to date) — but I do have a few theories (Kate and others — I certainly welcome your feedback here…since most of this is speculation)…

If you forced me to speculate….my guess is that a disciplinary court will be held for me within the next 1-12 months…and that they have only been delaying because of some of the reasons mentioned above. In other words…the delay is due to their desire to protect themselves and their power, and to minimize the possible collateral damage to the church…and not for any other reasons….and certainly not because they are operating in accordance with God’s will.

I could be wrong…but that’s my impression.

I responded, but I see my comment is still “awaiting moderation.” Therefore I post it here, since I can (complete with typos and grammar errors). I’ll be interested to see if my comment ever makes it out of John’s moderation queue. Continue reading

Obedience and Desire

There is a common folk myth — and I use the term “myth” not because it isn’t true, but only because I’ve been unable to independently verify it — about the training that Arabian horses undergo before riders will trust them to carry them through the harsh deserts of the Middle East. The trainers will train the horse to come to the owner at the sound of a bell. But casual obedience is not enough — the trainers want the horse to be able and willing to override their strongest urges and desires to comply with the rider’s commands.

To put this to the test, the trainer will tie the horse within sight of water for several hot days, without feeding the horse or giving it water to drink. Then, as the horse is severely parched and dehydrated, the trainer will release the horse, and the horse will immediately dash to the water, expecting a long, thirst-quenching drink. Just as the horse is about to drink, the trainer will ring the bell. Those that respond to the bell even in that moment have passed the test and are ready to be trusted — those that don’t must continue with their training. (There’s an old seminary video that depicts this, which can be found here.) Continue reading

The First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 9.6Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the Christmas holiday. During the weeks of Advent many Christians participate in readings, songs, worship, devotionals, and traditions that prepare them for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas Eve. Advent is not something that is normally associated with LDS Christmas worship, but in many countries around the world, LDS families, along with members of other Christian faiths, celebrate the four weeks before Christmas in preparation for the holiday.

After many years, I have finally decided to start this tradition in our family as a way to turn us toward the Savior instead of the holiday rush and the more secular aspects of Christmas. Starting today and over the next weeks, I am going to share our Advent devotionals here, and hope that you will join us in preparing for Christmas.

Traditionally, on the first Sunday of Advent the readings and devotionals focus on the Old Testament prophesies of Christ. This video from the Church focuses on the prophesies of Isaiah. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!

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From Whom Do We Learn History?

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, Young Draughtsman Copying an Academy studyThis week I’ve been intrigued regarding the question of whom we look to for our history. This was prompted in no small part by the vigorous discussion with DQ, someone apparently in the Utah area who simply doesn’t believe what I am saying about Emma working with Joseph to uncover the identity of those seducing women circa 1842. DQ’s argument is that my version of events isn’t credible unless a bona fide historian concurs with what I’m saying.

The interesting thing I’ve come across is a large cadre of researchers, many not official historians, who have concurred with the idea that one can believe William Law and John C. Bennett, but one cannot believe Joseph and Emma Smith.

These are researchers who, in attempting to construct a coherent history, have been forced to discard information that doesn’t fit. Continue reading