The scientific response to the pandemic

One of the most depressing aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the massive propaganda campaign by the media/Big Tech/medical establishment to convince the public that there is only one way to respond: by panicking.

One medical health professional in my ward pointed out to me recently that the lockdowns and the various government mandates are new and unproven approaches to a pandemic and the burden of proof should be on the promoters of these approaches, rather than the other way around. In past pandemics (and there have been many in the last 100-plus year), people have understood that the vulnerable should be protected but that most people in society should continue life as normal, and the government should certainly not mandate any specific type of behavior. As the Church has pointed out, wearing masks and taking vaccines should be voluntary.

Elder Packer rejected fear-mongering in this 2004 talk:

When I was a boy, childhood diseases appeared regularly in every community. When someone had chicken pox or measles or mumps, the health officer would visit the home and place a quarantine sign on the porch or in the window to warn everyone to stay away. In a large family like ours, those diseases would visit by relay, one child getting it from another, so the sign might stay up for weeks.

We could not blockade ourselves inside our homes or stay hidden away to avoid those terrible contagions. We had to go to school, to employment, to church—to life!….

…Encourage our young people. They need not live in fear (see D&C 6:36). Fear is the opposite of faith.

While we cannot erase wickedness, we can produce young Latter-day Saints who, spiritually nourished, are immunized against evil influences.

The most prominent (and unfortunately successful) propaganda campaign has been to convince many people, including many otherwise very intelligent people, that “the science” is on the side of the new approach rather than the way things have been done in the past. This is why you see people like Dr. Fauci claiming that he represents science, as if one person could stand for science. And, yet, so many people seem to fall for the propaganda.

The good news is that, below the radar and censored by the media elites, there are thousands of epidemiologists and health professionals who are indeed challenging Dr. Fauci’s claim that his approach is the only one that is scientific.

Despite what the media may attempt to tell you, these people are some of the most respected people in their fields. Thousands of them have signed the Great Barrington Declaration, which says that the approach to the pandemic has been all wrong. The approach should be to protect the most vulnerable but otherwise encourage people to go about their lives as normal. Any mask wearing or taking of vaccinations should be voluntary.

I encourage all readers to take a look at the Great Barrington Declaration and examine the credentials of the people who put it together and who have signed it. I want to repeat this point: these are thousands of the most qualified and respected epidemiologists and health professionals in the world, and they oppose our current approach to the pandemic.

The good news is that the great governor of the great state of Florida this week appointed one of these respected health professionals as the surgeon general of his state.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) introduces Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s new surgeon general

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Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth: ward boundary changes

I live in a small town in Colorado with one relatively small chapel. Until this Sunday, the chapel housed two wards, one family ward and one young single adult ward. In the last 15 years, Sacrament meetings in the family ward have grown from about 100 people to about 300 people as new subdivisions have grown like mushrooms in the fields around town.

Our primary has more than 100 kids, and we have more than 30 young men. We knew it was only a matter of time until the ward would change because there are hundreds of other new homes being built in our ward boundaries.

So two Sundays ago a counselor to the bishop announced that the stake would make changes in ward boundaries. The counselor made a joke, “let the speculation begin,” and that is what happened. Every time one ward member talked to another, the question was asked, “what will happen to our ward? Will we ever see our friends again?” Many people literally wept at the idea that their friends would be shipped off to other buildings and they would lose the attachments built up over so many years.

Many readers who live in Utah and Idaho may go through boundary changes all the time, but for those of us who had lived with roughly the same ward boundaries for several decades, the alterations seemed potentially traumatizing.

So on Sunday afternoon the stake presidency presented the new boundaries, and basically our ward is being split in two with some additional people added from two other neighboring wards. Both of the wards will meet in our small chapel, along with the single adults ward. I am not sure how three bishoprics and ward clerks will share three small offices, but I guess they will make it work.

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Taking the Stone Out of the Hat, Part I: Witness and Warning

For over a century leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have taught the Book of Mormon was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith using the gift and power of God through the Urim and Thummim found with the gold plates. This is the same as taught, without deviation, by Joseph Smith throughout his life. His second scribe Oliver Cowdery who wrote for the Prophet, helping to produce almost all of the current text, taught this throughout his life as well. After the conclusion of the gold plates translation, three men (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the first scribe Martin Harris) were privileged to witness and testify of the gold plates, Urim and Thummim, and other holy objects. There names are attached to the Book of Mormon publication.

Recently this narrative has seen a challenge by none other than Mormon academics who think they know better. Instead of a divinely delivered Urim and Thummim found with the gold plates for their translation, it is now at least part of the time translated by a common rock found in a well put into a hat. Despite sophisticated words attached to research of primary sources, the new narrative is wrong. Taking Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery seriously, with a closer look at the primary sources, supports the traditional translation teachings. The ancient Interpreters placed with the gold plates was the only instrument that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon.

Placing the stone in a hat as a major translation tool wasn’t seriously considered by members of the LDS Church until the turn of the 20th Century. No less than B.H.Roberts included a discussion of the seer stone in his landmark A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (pg. 137-133) with very little said about the Urim and Thummim. There was no more discussion of the seer stone until the “New Mormon History” movement began by Leonard Arrington sought to take seriously all sources, at the expense of the “traditional” history. Joseph Smith went from a Prophet called of God to translate the Book of Mormon and restore the ancient Church, to the local magician who just happened to become a Prophet. They basically accepted the position of anti-Mormon critics, with the seer stone in a hat the connecting issue. This isn’t even a “liberal” against an “orthodox” Mormon debate. In the book From Darkness Unto Light by MacKay and Dirkmaat, and sold by LDS distributor Deseret Book, the seer stone in a hat is said to be a major part of the translation. The newest approved history Saints has the seer stone in a hat and the Urim and Thummim almost on equal ground. An article in the October 2015 Ensign has an extensive discussion of both the Urim and Thummim and the seer stone, although not the first time in the magazine. It seems the stone in a hat is now found everywhere, when it used to be a speculated side note.

Including the stone in a hat as part of the translation is more than academically questionable, but comes with spiritual problems. Consider that Richard Bushman in his Joseph Smith biography Rough Stone Rolling denies that Joseph Smith told the truth about his using the seer stone, trying to hide his occultic past. He isn’t the only one who questions Joseph Smith’s words, as pseudo-official apologists FARMS, FAIR, and the Interpreter contributors also keep the Prophet out of the process. They hold strongly to and defend the stone in a hat translation method; even insisting that was the primary tool. Some may wonder why it is important to establish that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery used the Urim and Thummin for the translation exactly as they always explained, and not a seer stone in a hat. Consider the scholar Royal Skousen in his preview book Volume III: The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, pg. 22, where he writes Joseph Smith’s translation claims are “only partially true” and Oliver Cowdery “appear[s] to be intentionally misleading” even though they are the ones directly involved with the translation. Yet, that seems to be the only way a person can accept the stone in a hat narrative. Academics who hold to the stone in a hat seem to believe Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were untruthful, the Urim and Thummim were not very important, the gold plates had no practical use, and some mysterious entity actually wrote the English words. Descriptions of the gift and power of God to translate has changed into accusations against the Prophet Joseph Smith and his scribe. If one is to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) then the stone in a hat comes up short, along with its history.

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Is this a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated?’

The CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky famously said recently that the COVID 19 spread is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” This claim has been repeated by a number of health professionals, the media and politicians.

Is this true? Well, it is actually quite easy to find out. All you have to do is compare the vaccination rate in various countries to each other and then the countries with the lowest vaccination rates per capita should have the highest number of deaths per capita. It is most helpful to compare like countries to like countries, and we will get to that in this post.

Well, let’s dig into the numbers from this helpful web site.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let me put up a graph that has been circulated a lot lately to show you that the claims that this is a pandemic of the vaccinated are complete nonsense.

Here are the vaccination rates in four countries:

Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and India is one of the least vaccinated.

And now we can look at recent deaths.

So, how is it possible that India, with a very low vaccination rate, has fewer deaths per capita than Israel, with a very high vaccination rate?

You see what I am saying about nonsense?

But to be fair, comparing countries as dissimilar as India and Israel is problematic, so let’s look at the numbers for countries that are more like each other.

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Persecution Is Coming

MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN

Geoff B suggested this needed to be posted here at Millennial Star. I’m happy to oblige. These are my thoughts, your mileage may vary, of course.



For many years, I’ve followed a rather eclectic group of men and women who spend a lot of time thinking deeply about various issues, and then writing their thoughts about those topics. I don’t always agree with everything they say, but I deeply appreciate knowing what they have to tell us, and I recognize that many of them really do know what they are talking about because they have spent years or decades thinking about the issues and studying them in great detail. I have been enriched by their thoughts and writings, and over the last decade, my viewpoints on a lot of things have changed drastically, primarily due to their influence in opening my eyes to some festering issues that have laid just under the rock of our social structures.

One writer that I have followed consistently is Rod Dreher. Mr. Dreher is formerly a journalist, currently an author, blogger and pundit. He has written several books, the most prominent of which are Live Not By Lies and The Benedict Option. Both are must-reads if you care at all about living a religiously informed life in the West or in the United States. He has a world wide following, particularly in Europe and the United States. But he has readers in Africa, Asia, all over the place. He is religious, and his faith informs his study and his viewpoint. However, he doesn’t push his religion on his readers, but he is very transparent about his beliefs. For many years he was a faithful Catholic; he broke from the Catholic Church nearly twenty years because of the international pedophile priest scandal. He fled to the Orthodox faith, and that is his spiritual home.

I don’t agree with every jot and tittle of what Mr. Dreher writes about. We don’t view politics, for example, through the same lens. He was, and is, extremely hard on Donald Trump whereas I am far less critical. But whatever. His value to me is his profoundly deep insights into religion, into our cultural insanity in our contemporary society and politics, and his quite trenchant commentary on a host of issues that we grapple with in the now third decade of the 21st Century.

Without stepping the reader into all the details, Dreher has been keeping his finger on the pulse of our rotting corpse culture for many years now. He was clear-eyed from the very beginning about what Obergefell was going to do to religious freedom in the United States. He saw the growing intolerance in our social and secular institutions towards Christians before most anyone knew that it was becoming a problem. He saw the handwriting on the wall long before many other people saw these issues. His is a voice that needs greater dissemination.

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