First endowment session at the temple in 18 months

I was extremely happy to walk into the Fort Collins temple endowment room for the first time in 18 months today. A friend’s son was getting his endowments as he prepares for his mission, and the friends invited me and my wife to attend. It was glorious.

If you have not been in a while, there are some significant changes in the endowment. Again. Over the last five or so years it seems like the endowment ceremony changes every year or so. I will not get into specifics about this sacred ceremony, but suffice to say that the endowment is shorter but still very powerful.

Most people were not wearing masks, but we were asked to social distance, and there were hand sanitizers everywhere. At most temples, if you want to participate you must make a reservation, which can be done on-line. I really hope the latest overreaction to the inevitable mutation of the virus will not close the temples again. I don’t want to wait another 18 months for the next temple trip.

Losing weight: one of the best measures to protect you from the virus

I am very happy to report that in the last six months I have lost 22 pounds. How did I do it? I completely changed to a sustainable low carb diet. I have avoided cookies, donuts, soft drinks, break fast cereals, bread, rice, pasta, white flour and potatoes. I keep track of everything I eat and try to ingest one-third carbs, one-third fat and one-third protein. Before I started this diet, I was eating 60 percent carbs, 20 percent fat and 20 percent protein. This is a pretty big change. But I am now at my goal weight.

This is not a fad diet. This is a change I plan on keeping the rest of my life. Bottom line: a lot less sugar and simple carbohydrates and a lot more meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables and fruit.

Why did I do it? Because I saw a picture of myself over the holidays and I did not like how I looked. Yes, my primary motivation was vanity. But guess what: my knee pain that caused me to limp for months has disappeared. I am in my late-50s and in great shape now. And of course there is an ancillary benefit: I am much less likely to have a severe reaction to COVID.

For some reason, we as a society have completely forgotten the basics of health. Let’s face it: most of us are overweight and too sedentary. And then the evil lockdowns came, and billions of people worldwide convinced themselves the healthiest thing they could do was to cower inside their homes and watch screens. The police in super health-conscious Boulder County near where I live staged armed police at trailheads during the pandemic so people would NOT GO HIKING OUTSIDE. Talk about fear porn.

But even if the rest of the world is living in a crazy upside-down universe, where good is evil and evil is good, you do not have to. You can take the advice of this peer-reviewed article from June 2021 and lose some weight. I quote:

Unhealthy lifestyle characteristics (i.e., sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition) often lead to excess body mass and adiposity, commonly defined as a body mass index (BMI) at the overweight (i.e., 25.0–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (i.e., ≥30.0 kg/m2) level. Previous research has demonstrated that obesity is a clear risk factor for poor outcomes in those with COVID-19.3

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Compassionate Coercion: Embrace It, or Fight It?

Happy Pioneer Day, everyone! These mighty spiritual forebears of all Latter-day Saints today came to Utah seeking freedom – a place to speak, worship, and assemble where and how they wanted.

I have to wonder this morning, in light of rapidly changing events around us: At what point would you be willing to stand up and fight against incursions on your own freedoms? That’s an interesting question for Christians of any age – but maybe especially in America with our tradition of righteous revolution.

On one hand, believers can look to the model of Jesus teaching His followers living amidst Roman oppression that the kingdom we’re working towards is “not of this world” – essentially encouraging them to side-step any confrontation with injustice and restrictions on freedom. On the other hand, believers in the United States can look to the model of the Founders rising up to say “not okay” against British limitations on their natural rights and liberties – even to the point of bloodshed. (And Latter-day Saints Christians can look to the model of Captain Moroni doing something similar against Amalikiah’s threat in the Book of Mormon).

So, when is it right to say “not okay” when it comes to incursions on our freedoms? We’ve been dealing with fairly minor issues like baking cakes and wearing masks – but the major issues are very much here, including: (1) Freedom to speak in our online public spaces openly our thoughts (NOT okay with serious resistance to public health orthodoxy and socio-political orthodoxy around race and sexuality) and (2) Freedom to assemble in public schools, spaces and venues – which is rapidly being restricted by fears around COVID-19 transmission, especially among the vilified unvaccinated.

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Come Follow Me: D&C 81-83

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 81-83


D&C 81
This revelation was originally given to Jesse Gause, calling him to be a counselor to Joseph Smith. Not much is known about Gause, but the Joseph Smith Papers Project notes a few things about him. First, he moved around a lot. He first joined the Quakers in his early adult life. After the death of his first wife, he joined the Shakers in 1829 and married again. He possibly joined the Shakers, because many of his in-laws were of that faith, and he needed assistance caring for his children from his first marriage. Moving to Ohio, he heard of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and was baptized sometime before his appointment as counselor in 1832. Gause served for about a month as a scribe on the Joseph Smith Translation, and was sent on a mission, including to the Shakers, where he unsuccessfully attempted to convince his wife to join the Church. He left his mission companion, Zebedee Coltrin, in August 1832 – supposedly to return to his wife and the Shakers.

Frederick Williams would soon be called to replace Gause in the First Presidency.

Three Other COVID-19 Matters That Could Unite All Believers

Even if we continued to disagree on the reality of what was happening, I proposed last week that the attempt to better hear each other’s fears might be a way to draw our hearts together. 

By comparison, the vast majority of high-profile, public efforts to bring unity in our nation this last six months have focus on mostly one thing: encouraging agreement around coming together to receive one of the various COVID-19 vaccinations. 

I really do get it:  If you believe (a) COVID-19 has killed exactly as many people as officially reported and remains extremely dangerous to many people, and (b) these vaccinations are THE answer to stopping these deaths and as “safe and effective” (short and long-term) as officially reported, THEN, of course you should be advocating everyone to come together around this. 

The reality, however, is that many Americans don’t believe either (a) or (b). Despite the relentless, seemingly unending persuasion efforts that continue, these Americans have not embraced either of these points as self-evident.

The dominant response to those people as I’ve detailed elsewhere, has been to disparage, shame, mock, and call for increasing limitations on their freedom. I even heard one doctor I respect last week suggest that mockery was “effective” according to some research he had reviewed.

Which brings me to this follow-up article.  If disciples of Christ and other thoughtful decent people aren’t going to agree on vaccination as a unifying point (as seems likely), what WILL bring us together? 

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