Disagreeing with LDS Prophets and Apostles vs Losing Confidence in Them


[Cross-Posted from Sixteen Small Stones: Disagreeing with LDS Prophets and Apostles vs Losing Confidence in Them]

Among some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it has become increasingly common to openly and publicly criticize teachings, directions, decisions, and policies of the prophets and apostles of the church.

I recognize that this trend is at least partially the consequence of a more general societal shift in attitudes and perceptions of privacy; a shift that is influenced by blurring lines between the public and the private driven by information technology and the Internet.

As long-time readers of my blog know, I am very troubled by this trend. I am troubled by the nonchalance with which members of the church confidently declare that they know that the prophets and apostles are wrong about this-or-that.

While I have have written extensively about this and related topics, I recognize that my posts are long, disconnected, and probably not very accessible to casual readers. When you are discussing the issue in the comments of social media, pointing to pages and pages of blog posts written over the course of several years just doesn’t work well.

So here is my attempt to distill my reasoning into a single, more succinct and consumable post: Continue reading

Beware Uncharted Islands – The Beast Below and Enduring in the Old Ship Zion

[Cross-posted from Sixteen Small Stones]


Last month, my daughter sent out an email query to the members of our family asking for each of us to respond as quickly as possible with the name our favorite magical creature of all time. I didn’t respond immediately and so her question slipped off my radar. She followed up with an email reminder, and then a verbal reminder. I didn’t understand why it was so important, but after a little thought, I told her that my favorite mythical creature was Fastitocalon.

Like most people, she had never heard of Fastitocalon.

Fastitocalon is the name of a gigantic mythological sea monster that floats at the surface of the ocean and deceives seafarers. The wicked beast waits for sea travelers, who easily mistake it’s huge carapace for an uncharted island, to secure their ships to its shell and disembark for a rest from their journey. Just when they are starting to feel safe and enjoying themselves, Fastitocalon dives into the sea, sinking the ships and drowning all the travelers.

For Christmas, my daughter gave each member of the family an original drawing of the creature they had told her was their favorite. And she gave me a wonderful drawing of Fastitocalon, a photo of which I have included at the top of this post.

I love my daughter’s conceptualization of Fastitocalon as a giant turtle. I like the line between what appears above the surface and what is below; the change in lighting and color. The welcoming island above and the beast below.

My first encounter with Fastitocalon was through J.R.R. Tolkien’s delightful poem of the same name in “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil“: Continue reading

On the Folly of Demanding Demographic Diversity among the LDS Apostles

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

As you probably already know, three new apostles were called during the recent October 2015 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apostles serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ and hold priesthood authority and keys to direct the work of God on the earth. Jesus directs his church through these living apostles and prophets. And as members of the church we believe these men are called by God through inspiration to the living prophet and president of the church.

Some members of the church, and not a few dissidents and former members, have expressed disappointment and feelings of hurt because the three new apostles do not come from diverse enough backgrounds to meet their contemporary concepts of Diversity. All three new apostles are white men, born in Utah. These disappointed members and critics wanted new apostles with backgrounds more representative of the diversity in church membership, which now has more members outside of the United States than in.

There has been plenty of commentary about this criticism, and I don’t want to rehash what has already been said. But I do want to step back and take a more abstract look at some of the problems with wanting the Lord to call apostles based on demographic diversity.

Diversity is a good thing. Each individual brings a unique package of experience, background, talents, and ideas that can contribute to building the Kingdom of God.

However, when considering diversity, it is important to recognize that we, as human beings, tend to draw arbitrary lines and to group people based on simplistic similarities. However we draw those lines, we unavoidably generalize, oversimplify, and reduce people from complex individuals into artificially uniform groups.

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The Standard of Truth Still Stands Strong

I haven’t written much on the topic of gay marriage in recent months because I felt that pretty much everything on the legal merits had been said ad nauseum. I also had little pretension or doubt as to what the outcome of the Supreme Court case would be, though I was eager to see what rationale the Court would use as it created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

This morning, knowing that the decision was pending, I spent time in the temple praying for peace and clarity regarding the opinion. As I did so, I again received a reassurance that I have received frequently over the past several months. Ultimately, while there are reasons to despair over the changes that have swept the nation, we should be filled with hope because the Lord is in charge.

While many are celebrating today, I know that many others are afraid of the impact this decision will have on the Church and the cause of religious freedom.  And many are wondering how to respond as our views increasingly become a minority position. While these thoughts are purely my own, I hope that some of what I express in this post will provide comfort and consolation for those who are anxious as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have frequently warned that when the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage (which it did today), it will be this generation’s Roe v. Wade and lead to a never ending cultural war on the topic. I sincerely hope not. Though I have frequently and strongly spoken up against the legalization of same-sex marriage, I hope that the fighting will recede and that those who see the urgent need to defend the family from decay and destruction will be able to move on to fighting for other pro-family measures.
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Discovering The Joys of Womanhood in Ancestors’ Patriarchal Blessings

young-woman-receives-patriarchal-blessing-fullThe following guest post is from Beth Buck. Beth is a stay-at-home mother of three. She works part time as a staff writer for an emergency preparedness website, has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies/ Arabic from BYU, and holds a black belt in Karate.

Patriarchal blessings are unique to Mormonism in concept and practice. No other denomination (save the offshoots of Mormonism) continues the biblical tradition of receiving a prophetic blessing unique to each person. The lds.org topical article describes these as “personal counsel from the Lord.”

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