About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

2020 election prediction from the person who correctly called 2016

In May 2016, I predicted Donald Trump would be the next president. You can read it here. So readers are anxious to know what I think will happen in November 2020.

The answer: Trump will win again. Republicans will keep the Senate, and there is a 50-50 chance of the Republicans winning the House.

This is not necessarily a brave prediction. Anybody following the betting markets knows that Trump is expected to win among the people willing to put money on it.

Yes, yes, I know that Biden is way ahead in many crucial polls. I am predicting that the country will become less enthusiastic about Biden as he emerges from his basement. I am also predicting that the Democrats will suffer from their love for endless lockdowns during the COVID-19 crisis. I predict they will get more blame for the economic downturn than Trump.

But here is the thing about making predictions: sometimes you are wrong. For those who don’t understand my tongue in cheek sense of humor, please note that I was absolutely sure Mitt Romney would win in 2012, and I was very, very wrong on that prediction. Win some, lose some.

The upside of COVID-19: the end of many leftist narratives

As we ponder the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are dying worldwide from COVID-19, there is one bit of good news from this historically pivotal event:  many of the most pernicious leftist narratives are being destroyed right in front of our eyes.   I always try to see the positive in negative events, and in the long run, there will be positives to take away from this dark and dreary time.

With that in mind, here is a partial list of left-wing narratives that have been completely destroyed in the last few months.

1)The left cares about working people.  The United States is approaching 40 million jobs lost during the pandemic, and the vast majority of people who have lost their jobs are working class and middle class people.   Most of the managerial class and the professional class (and of course government workers) have been able to keep their jobs.  And yet left-wing commentators and politicians want to continue the lockdown indefinitely.  They can barely muster any concern for the unemployed during this period – everything is based on the childish claim that if you want people to be employed you somehow care about the stock market more than lives.

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Limited reopening of some temples

7 May 2020 – Salt Lake City News Release

First Presidency Announces Limited Reopening of Temples

In a letter to all Church members, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed their gratitude for the efforts of all those who have worked to address the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“With profound gratitude to our Heavenly Father that He has heard our prayers, we rejoice in announcing a careful, phased reopening of temples,” the First Presidency said. “Beginning Monday, May 11, 2020, living husband-and-wife sealing ordinances will be performed in selected temples for members who have been previously endowed.”

Sealings at Selected Temples

In the first phase of temple reopening, temple ordinances will be limited to husband-and-wife living sealings (marriages) for members who are already endowed. This will begin at selected temples in Idaho and Utah (USA) and Germany and Sweden (see list of temples opening at the end of this article). The current status of individual temples can be viewed on each individual temple’s page on Temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Dead Man Walking’

This is another in the long-running occasional series of posts on Non-Mormon Mormon Movies. We have been doing these posts for so long that we might have to change the title to something like “Non-LDS LDS Movies.”

Today we will be discussing the powerful movie “Dead Man Walking (1995).” This is definitely not intended to be a movie about anything having to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, the primary character in the movie is a Catholic nun named Sis. Helen Prejean (played by Susan Sarandon).

But Sis Helen’s actions in this movie are so incredibly Christ-like in a stunning and powerful way that I think all Latter-day Saints should be able to appreciate this movie. I ended up saying to myself, “how can I be more like Sis. Helen?”

The basic plot is that Sis Helen receives a letter from Matthew Poncelet (played marvelously by Sean Penn), who is on death row. She drives out to the prision to meet with him. Poncelet is a racist and sexist white supremacist Nazi supporter who is accused of killing two teenagers. At the beginning of our encounters with Poncelet, there is simply nothing redeeming at all about him. He has no remorse for the killings and claims he is innocent. He flirts in a disgusting, sexist way with Sis Helen even though he knows she is a nun. He has Swastika tatoos all over his body and praises Adolf Hitler.

We also meet the parents of the two victims, who describe the horrific rape and murder of the teenagers. The viewer cannot help but have tremendous sympathy for these parents, who desperately want Poncelet to be killed so he is never let out of jail to hurt others.

Sister Helen, however, is against the death penalty. She has a fascinating religious debate with the prison chaplain who favors the death penalty. I think the director Tim Robbins does a pretty good job of being fair to both sides of the debate, but of course we are meant to have more sympathy for Sister Helen. (You may or may not know that Sarandon and Robbins are a couple in real life).

Here is the incredible part of this movie: Sister Helen shows true Christ-like love for this monstrous, murderous man. And Poncelet responds to this love in an unexpected way but showing some repentance and change. At one point, Sister Helen reminds Poncelet that he is a child of God, and his shock at being shown this respect seems genuine. Imagine how different the world would be if all people truly believed they were children of God.

Susan Sarandon may be one of my least favorite actresses in terms of her politics, but her performance was so good that I could almost imagine the Savior Himself speaking when she delivered her lines. Her performance was so understated and mild — but still powerful — that it was as if the Savior was talking in the Church Bible videos. I cannot overstate how strong the last act of this movie is. I wept the entire time.

As long-time readers will know, I am proudly a right-wing Jeffersonian constitutional conservative, but I have also been a long opponent of the way the death penalty is practiced in the United States. I simply cannot endorse a government that kills people, even monstrous people like Poncelet. I think most people on death row should have their sentences commuted to life in prison without parole. And we should do a better job of making sure no innocent people are ever killed by the government.

So, this movie affected me emotionally in ways that some readers may not appreciate. But I still think it is worth watching for all latter-day Saints for the following reason: our Savior loves us even though we are all sinners. Can we learn to be more like Him? Can we learn to love even the monsters around us? Can we learn to believe that all people, even the worst among us, are children of God?

“Dead Man Walking” challenges us to try to show love to the most difficult people around us. I wish more movies did this.

NOTE: “Dead Man Walking” is rated R and has horrific, graphic scenes of rape and murder. I skipped through those scenes, which you don’t really need to see to appreciate the movie. If you skip through those scenes, the movie is more like PG-13.

Freedom and Church membership

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson, who is a friend of the Millennial Star and occasional contributor.  He also blogs at davidson-law.net occasionally.

In October 1905, Matthias Foss Cowley and John Whitaker Taylor resigned from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles over their disagreement with the Church’s decision to abandon the practice of polygamy. As the Manifesto was issued in 1890, this was clearly a long time coming, and the historical record makes it clear that Cowley, at least, had persisted in solemnizing plural marriages through 1905 even though he had been instructed to cease the practice and lacked the authority to do so.

In my study this morning, I was reading the remarks made by the Pres. Joseph F. Smith in the October 1903 General Conference, as he was getting ready to present the General Authorities and General Officers of the Church for a sustaining vote.  Elders Cowley and Taylor were among those to be sustained that day, two years before their resignations.  I can’t help but wonder if Pres. Smith had these two men in mind when he said the following:

“The freedom of the Latter-day Saints has never been curtailed or lessened one whit by their becoming members of the Church of Christ. Rather has it been enlarged. There are no freer people upon the face of the earth today than the Latter-day Saints. They are bound to the Church by no ties or strings, but their own conviction of the truth. And whenever a man makes up his mind that he has had enough of what is called “Mormonism,” all he has to do is to make it known and we will sever the bond that unites him with the body, and let him go his own way, only bearing toward him the feeling of sympathy and of true brotherly kindness, and wishing him still the mercies of God. We will cry, Father, have mercy upon him, because he knows not what he is doing. For when a man denies the truth, when he departs from the right way, when he rejects the right of God to counsel in the affairs of men, he is either ignorant or wilfully wicked, and it only excites our pity for him. As the Savior cried upon the cross, so will we cry in the same spirit, Father, forgive him; have mercy upon him; for he knows not what he does. Therefore, we expect only those to vote at this time who are members of the Church in good standing; but all such we do expect to vote, according to their own free will, whether it be yea or nay.” (a PDF of this talk can be found here)

I found myself wondering about what must have been going through the minds of these two men sitting on the stand and listening to the President of the Church say these words.  No doubt these men chafed under the direction given by the First Presidency on the matter of plural marriage and they clearly couldn’t be said to be one with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve.  I suspect that they felt that their freedom to do as they wished was very restricted and that perhaps unrighteous dominion was being exercised over them.

As I consider this, it occurs that not much has changed.  There are some in the Church today that feel like it controls their lives, that feel constricted in their freedom.  Many, too many, of these individuals cut themselves off from the Church, either in name or just in deed, and gleefully proclaim their newfound freedom.  This exercise, by itself, merely indicates that they were never in bondage because they are always free to go.  I feel to echo Pres. Smith’s thoughts in this, as my heart goes out to these people in ways that they would not accept, and likely would not understand.

But, it is true that there are consequences to actions and words and thoughts.  Those that choose to take a path contrary to the doctrines of the Church; contrary to he warnings and admonitions of the prophets and apostles; will find themselves cutting themselves off from the blessings of the Church and the Gospel, irrespective of whether they are still on the earthly membership rolls of the Church.