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.

Can’t we all just get along?

Have you heard of Rodney King? He was brutally beaten by the LA Police Department in 1991, and the acquittal of the police officers the next year led to six days of rioting in LA. Sixty-three people were killed and more than 2000 injured because of the riots. Rodney King appeared on TV during the riots and gave an oft-quoted, impassioned speech in which he said,

“I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?… it’s just not right – it’s not right. And it’s not going to change anything. …And, just, uh, I love – I’m neutral, I love every – I love people of color. I’m not like they’re making me out to be. We’ve got to quit – we’ve got to quit; I mean after-all, I could understand the first – upset for the first two hours after the verdict, but to go on, to keep going on like this and to see the security guard shot on the ground – it’s just not right; it’s just not right, because those people will never go home to their families again. And uh, I mean please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along – we just gotta, we gotta.”

King’s speech, which you can watch in part here, was very touching for me the first time I watched it. It is — dare I say it — almost Christ-like in its deep desire for people to love rather than hate.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase — “can we all get along” (which popular culture has often expressed as “can’t we all just get along?”) — a lot lately. This is the message that modern-day prophets express in almost every talk they give. This is the message that all Christians should impart, especially in these very tense times of national tumult over politics.

So, in that spirit, I would like to try in this post to help people on both sides understand the position of the other side a bit. Perhaps if we stop seeing one “side” (ie, Democrats/liberals/progressives/democratic socialists vs Republicans/right-leaning libertarians/conservatives) as evil, we can turn down the political temperature just a bit.
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President Oaks’ much-needed Conference address

A friend of mine pointed out after General Conference that the title of President Oaks’ talk could have been: “No, our position hasn’t changed, why do you ask?”

Left-wing Latter-day Saints, questioning Latter-day Saints and former Latter-day Saints keep on asking, so I guess we will keep on getting the occasional talk at General Conference reaffirming what the vast majority of active Latter-day Saints already know, to wit: “no, the Church’s position on social issues hasn’t changed.”

But President Oaks’ talk is much deeper — and much more important — than I think some people realize. Now that the transcript is up and available, let’s go through the entire talk, which is titled “Truth and the Plan.”

President Oaks starts out by pointing out we should be careful about our sources of information:

We live in a time of greatly expanded and disseminated information. But not all of this information is true. We need to be cautious as we seek truth and choose sources for that search. We should not consider secular prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious about relying on information or advice offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects…Our personal decisions should be based on information from sources that are qualified on the subject and free from selfish motivations.

President Oaks then discusses the problem of only relying on “scientific or secular” sources for information, and sums it up:

We find true and enduring joy by coming to know and acting upon the truth about who we are, the meaning of mortal life, and where we are going when we die. Those truths cannot be learned by scientific or secular methods.

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Church doubles down on opposition to medical marijuana initiative in Utah

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made its position very clear on the medical marijuana initiative in Utah on the November ballot: it is opposed.

The Church says, however, that it favors using marijuana for certain medicinal purposes under controlled circumstances.

According to this story:

“The church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form from a licensed pharmacy,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard, a General Authority Seventy with the church.

But Elder Gerard said the church is “deeply concerned” that the initiative does not contain “proper controls” on marijuana use, and also has worries about other states having “experienced serious consequences to the health and safety of” their residents due to marijuana laws that are too permissive.

Elder Gerard also urged Utahns to vote no on the initiative.

“We call on lawmakers, patients and community leaders to come together to find an appropriate solution to benefit all Utahns,” he said.

The Utah Medical Association, as well as Drug Safe Utah — a political issues committee formed to directly oppose the initiative — were also on hand to announce the new coalition and criticize the ballot measure as a bad solution for Utahns.

Both groups have previously slammed the initiative as a loosely regulated policy measure making recreational use possible.

“The marijuana initiative appearing as Proposition 2 on the ballot this November does not strike the appropriate balance in ensuring safe and reasonable access for patients while also protecting youth and preventing other societal harms,” Utah Medical Association CEO Michelle McOmber said in a statement on behalf of the coalition.

You can read more about Proposition 2 in Utah here.

Most polls show widespread support for Proposition 2, and political analysts believe it will pass despite opposition from the Church and most prominent Utah politicians.