America, land of tyranny?

I was recently speaking with a friend, who just quit his job at a correctional facility. This is a place where I once worked, but was fired at, due to a new boss that believes in taking no prisoners. Since my firing 6 months ago, this boss has fired, demoted, or driven away many good people.  What once was a close-knit family with some struggles, is now a divided work place, where many people tip toe around, fearing for their jobs.

Sadly, this seems to more and more be the norm in our society. There was a time when a person was hired at IBM and stayed forever. Loyalty went both directions, up and down the chain. The boss and the worker would look out for each other.

Today, people are just resources to use up and replace, while work locations are just a temporary place to make money, with no loyalty for one another. Continue reading

Seeking Smooth Things

This is a guest post by Reid Litchfield.

nahum1

The Pesher Nahum scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q169) makes cryptic references to a group called ‘The Seekers of Smooth Things’. The theories about who these people were have some fascinating implications for the Church today.

I enjoy biblical history and have recently been studying the transitional period between the Maccabean Revolt and its resulting Hasmonean Dynasty and the Roman takeover of Judea. Over the course of this study, I encountered a quizzical group known as The Seekers of Smooth Things. The story of this obscure sect of Judaism, and their relevance to us today, begs to be told. But first, some background [1.When possible, I have tried to use numismatics to provide faces to the names in this post.] . . .

The Transition from Persian to Greek Rule

Following the death of Alexander the Great [2.Alexander III of Macedon. This coin minted by Lysimachos is thought to have one of the most accurate likenesses of Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon. This coin, minted by Lysimachos, is thought to be one of the most accurate likenesses of Alexander the Great. There was a tendency for the successors of Alexander the Great to portray themselves as looking like Alexander in an attempt to legitimize their rule. As a result, stylistically many of the obverse images on the coins of the Ptolemies and Seleucids are similar to the this coin in style and appearance.], his vast kingdom was divided up among his generals, with Ptolemy [3.PtolemyPtolemy I Soter (305 – 282 BC)] taking Egypt and Seleucus [4.Seleucus I NicatorSeleucus 1 Nicator (306-281 BC)] taking Syria. Judea found itself in the middle of territorial battles between these two quarreling Greek armies. Ultimately Judah was conquered by the Seleucids, but the Jews continued to be unapologetically Jewish in their customs and religion. This proved to be very problematic for their new Greek masters.
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The State of “Orthodox” Mormon Blogging

hands-computer-828898-galleryEven before the official founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism has been using the most up to date communication technologies to spread the gospel. A particular viewpoint has been the incredulity that a highly successful new religious tradition started in the days of the printing press. Even more amazing is that it was printing, especially in the form of a new Holy Book called The Book of Mormon that contributed to its development. This was followed by newspapers and pamphlets that contained apologetics, sermons, information for the scattered members, and even new revelations. It was an amazing achievement of audacity and organization. The same can be said about its embrace of radio and television when they became widely available.

Modern times continues forward progress with the Internet, and the LDS Church is still utilizing the most advanced methods of communication in existence. It was one of the first religious organizations to develop a fully functional web site dedicated to connecting with members and spreading its teachings. This has been recognized with some regularity by those who pay attention to such things. Despite the belief that the Internet has been eroding the faith of Mormons, factual studies have shown that the LDS Church is still growing and retains more of its membership after young adulthood than most other religions. More can be done, but that is up to individuals who have been commanded since President David O. McKay that every member should be a missionary.

when I first started blogging ten years ago, my main concern was that very few “orthodox” members had a website worthy of reading. My own Straight and Narrow Blog, now a clearing house of my posts from other sources, had a mission statement goal to be a conservative voice among a large and loud liberal “un-orthodox” bloggernacle. I had hoped to be an example to start a trend for better and more thoughtful defenders of the traditional faith views. Comparing that time to today, there has been improvements in “orthodox” Mormon blogging. Unfortunately, the majority come from those who found one another and not to a lot of growth in blog numbers. Keeping up a blog is hard and too many come and go that could have survived if given support, even though other factors do contribute. Perhaps after ten years the idea of a strong, influential, and vibrant conservative “orthodox” blogging community is of limited possibility. Continue reading

Elder Holland provides reassurance

Many of the world’s trends are worrisome. But Church leaders are continually upbeat, so it probably is a good idea to try to emulate them. Elder Holland gave a great talk Feb. 6 to CES educators.

Here are some highlights:

We know for certain that if and when everything else in the latter days is down or dying; if governments, economies, industries, and institutions crumble; if societies and cultures become a quagmire of chaos and insecurity, nevertheless, through it all the gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that bears that gospel to the world will stand triumphant. It will stand undefiled in God’s hand until the very Son of God Himself comes to rule and reign as Lord of lords and King of kings. Nothing is more certain in this world. Nothing is more sure. Nothing could be more of an antidote to anxiety. As the Prophet Joseph declared, and as a generation of missionaries quote with fervor: The truth of God will sweep every country and sound in every ear. No unhallowed hand can stop it from progressing. Still true.

Elder Holland said one of his primary concerns is that members are delaying getting married and having children because they are so worried about the world.

Let me list some specific things that I think you should teach your students to be glad about and over which they should cease being fearful. I note, for example, getting married, having families, and welcoming children into the world. We in the presiding councils of the Church hear far too often—and perhaps you do as well—that many of our youth and young adults are terrified to get married. In extreme cases they are fearful that the world is about to end in blood and disaster—something they don’t want to take a spouse or child into. In less severe, more common cases, they are fearful that the world will just get more difficult, that jobs will be too hard to find, and that one should be out of school, out of debt, have a career, and own a home before considering marriage.

Good grief! On that formula Sister Holland and I still wouldn’t be married! Seriously, when we got married we were both still undergraduates at BYU, with neither set of parents able to help us at all financially, no way to imagine all the graduate education we had yet ahead of us, and this with $300 dollars between us on our wedding day! Now that may not be the ideal way to start a marriage, but what a marriage it has been and what we would have missed if we had waited even one day longer than we did once we knew that that marriage was right. Sure, there was sacrifice; certainly there were restless days and weeks and months; certainly there was some burning of the midnight oil. But I tremble to think what we would have lost if we had taken “counsel from our fears,” 15 as President James E. Faust would later tell me over and over and over that I and no one else should ever do. What if we had delayed inordinately? What would we have missed?

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Digital Scarlet Letters

scarlett letterI think we can all agree social media is a good thing, when used the right way. I know I have been able to reconnect with lost friends, and as much as facebook makes me crazy, it is the only way I know what is going on with my family most of the time.

Despite all of the good on the internet, there are some downfalls, and pitfalls. The example I give today is about a woman named Justine Sacco. Ms. Sacco was a PR director for a firm that did humanitarian work. One day she tweeted out a “joke”, and then got on an airplane for 11 hours. During that time, her “joke,” which really wasn’t very funny, or even a joke, really, broke the internet (at least for that week), and created a public furor which left her without a job, and a ruined reputation.

To read the full story click HERE.

The author of the article interviewed Ms. Sacco and the man who created the fury surrounding her bad tweet, Sam Biddle. In an ironic twist of events, Sam Biddle had his own fury from something he said online too, and although his reputation did not suffer as much as Ms. Sacco, he still had his walk in the social media hall of shame.

After reading the article, another friend commented that these public shamings, pile-ons and furies were like the Scarlet Letter of our day. Because someone said something stupid, and thoughtless, they were branded for life, they lost their job, and their reputation was ruined. Continue reading