Guest post: reflecting on “Under the Banner of Heaven”

This is a guest post by Lattertarian.

Under the Banner of Heaven is the title of a 2003 true-crime book by Jon Krakauer, who is not a stranger to bestselling non-fiction writing. He’s a big name. In this book, he tackles two topics that are tangentially related to one another: a 1984 Utah double murder perpetrated by fundamentalist maniacs, and the broad early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culminating in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which over 100 migrants in a wagon train were murdered by … fundamentalist maniacs. 

The book came and went, but it also got picked up by Very Serious dramatists who were Very Serious about bringing this story to a video audience, so here we are. This reflection is about the “FX on Hulu” miniseries based on the book. It’s easy to see what you want to see in UBH (which is what I’ll call the show hereafter for convenience), and the showrunners make several very important and very misguided decisions that make the thing a mess, but the central questions are compelling and merit some thought. Bottom line: it’s all more complicated than it needs to be, and not in a good way.  

First, a few paragraphs about me. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Branches of my family, including my entire mother’s side and the family line of my fraternal grandmother, are old-line multigenerational Mormon in the classic sense, what people inside the church call “pioneer stock”. I’ve been surrounded by “Mormon culture” my whole life, including semi-annual trips to Salt Lake City to visit all that extended family on summers and Christmases. I was baptized at age eight in the famous Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I served a two-year mission (in Idaho, no less). I have a “testimony,” and remain an active member of the church serving in positions of responsibility in my local congregation. I have been “married in the temple,” and am getting ready to watch my son and his bride do the same. I am fully fluent in the jargon and behavior signals of ethnic Mormonism (more on this in a bit), and have been for almost 50 years now.   

Lest that lead you, dear reader, to believe that I’m going to slavishly bash UBH because I’m a partisan stooge for my faith, this is a good place for me to state that I am also a Gen-X Libertarian who grew up in Southern California, not Utah. While I am fully fluent in Mormon, I grew up exposed to much more than a single cultural throughline. I graduated high school with the class of 1989. I remember the before-times when people didn’t have cable TV, personal computers, or internet access, let alone smartphones. I am the chairman of a county Libertarian party affiliate, and have no recollection of voting for either an R or a D (I’m not saying it never happened, but if it did I either don’t remember or just don’t care). I believe that every individual has absolute rights over his or her self, stuff, and speech, and believe the world would be a better place if every individual accepted and respected that in every other individual. I have a deep-seated skepticism of authority, particularly government authority (and if there’s any ethnic group within the United States that has every reason to distrust government authority, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in the top five), and my loyalty is not easily won. I seek to see things as they are, not how I wish them to be.

Continue reading

Zions Bank sponsors children’s grooming event in Idaho

Zion’s Bank, founded by Brigham Young in 1873, is now sponsoring events aimed at grooming children in Idaho.

The Boise Pride Festival this weekend includes at least two events involving the grooming of young children, a “Drag Kids on Stage” show and “Drag Story Time with Gendertainers.”

Here is the link to the “Boise Pride Guide” showing that Zion’s Bank is a major sponsor, along with many other corporate sponsors, including Citi, Albertson’s and Wells Fargo.

Zion’s Bank was founded by Brigham Young in 1873 but has not been associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the 1960s.

UPDATE: Zion’s Bank announced they will no longer participate in this event specifically because of the shows aimed at children. Kudos to Zion’s Bank.

Guest post: review of ‘Jezebel’s War with America’

This is a guest post by Bookslinger.

I’d like to recommend a book I found at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Jezebel’s War with America, by Michael L. Brown, $4. It’s cheaper than buying used on Amazon, where it’s about $7 including shipping.

I bought extra copies to loan to friends.

I’m writing this review/recommendation for a general Christian audience, not solely Millennial Star’s intended audience.

You’re most likely already knowledgeable about the subject – the spiritual and culture wars going on. 

The value I see in the book is in the extensive endnotes, and the connecting of the historical dots. It shows who the players and leaders of personal, family, and nation destruction were and are.

In case you’re not familiar with Michael L.  Brown, he has a ministry, website, podcast, videos, etc.  

From his videos/podcasts, I think his speaking style is a bit too over-the-top, too zealous/intense, a bit too Pentecostal, almost holy-roller-ish, for me.   But his writing style is palatable.

Continue reading

Papa Ostler’s false gospel

Richard Ostler, who calls himself “Papa Ostler” on-line, preaches a false and damaging version of the Gospel. His book is filled with claims that are the exact opposite of what is taught by the Church. In fact, President Nelson has warned that Satan wants us to believe many of the the things that Ostler teaches.

To learn more, please watch this video.

The four obstacles found along the Iron Rod

This is a guest post by Lattertarian

The metaphors of Lehi’s dream are explicitly explained thanks to Nephi’s desire for clarification and willingness to write down what he learned. The plain and precious truths of that vision are of course only seriously taught within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but have clear lessons for all Christians (and every truth-seeker to some extent). All of us search for a path to happiness. Taking hold of the rod of iron that is the word of God puts us on a straight path to that happiness. But we are under constant pressure to step away and grope toward other voices, and wandering around in the dark is a dangerous proposition.  

It’s also possible, and eminently reasonable, to read Lehi’s dream in an extremely broad quasi-secular way. We all have someplace we want to go, some destination we perceive as desirable. We also know there’s a way to get there, and that “path” has its own guidance “rod” of principles and actions we innately understand we need to adhere to in order to get us to our destination. But a variety of things can distract us from that, and it’s worth considering some of those things.

So what are we doing here? Largely unasked in Lehi’s dream are questions of why someone would let go of the rod once they held it. The mockery from the people in the great and spacious building is one thing, but there are some daily ground-level specifics we all encounter that are worth considering. To my mind, there are four obstacles we can run into as we walk the path and hold to the rod. In keeping with the structure of Lehi’s dream, they’re best explored through metaphor. 

Rough Spots on the Rod

The Iron Rod is not smooth, metaphorically speaking. Or at least not entirely smooth. It has rough spots, with dings and edges on it in various places. Much of the time we can just run our hand along it as we walk. But when we hit those sharp spots we need to resist the urge to let go of the rod to lick a wound. Rather, we need to put the other hand on the rod, past the rough spot, and purposefully and carefully hand-over-hand our way past that spot until we can find another smooth length. What does this represent? Sometimes living the truths of the gospel can seem hard. Sometimes we hit a rough spot–a teaching with which we struggle, an interpersonal conflict within the congregation or our families, a sense that God has “allowed” some bad thing to happen to us, or some other thing we perceive as a problem going forward. We can sometimes feel like we need to “take a break” from the rod for a moment to “reorient” ourselves. But that’s a trap. Letting go of the rod always is. Don’t let go. You can slow down, and giving yourself permission to do that can be a valuable factor in your spiritual health, but letting go is extraordinarily dangerous. 

This does mean, however, that progress along the rod does not happen at a constant pace. Each of us speeds up and slows down at seemingly random (to an observer, anyway) points along the path. Sadly and dangerously, many of the rough spots on the rod, the places on the path where many slow down, become places where we encounter two important kinds of people. The influence of either of these groups can halt your progress and maybe even detach you from the rod. This is made easier for them (and harder for you to resist) if you have let go of the rod to nurse a scrape. 

Vigilante Speed Enforcers

For this, we swerve into a highway metaphor. Highways involve lots of individual drivers making decisions, particularly regarding speed. Have you ever come up behind someone on the highway who insisted on driving slower than the flow of traffic? Sometimes precisely the speed limit, sometimes just under, or sometimes (and most frustrating) close to the speed of traffic but just slow enough to create an inconvenience for everybody else? Or to look at it the other way, have you ever had somebody come up fast behind you and rather than go around they chose to tailgate, honk and gesture, or be otherwise pointlessly aggressive? We can encounter similar people as we walk the path while holding to the rod. These are the people who insist there is one way to walk the path and one way to hold to the rod, and if you’re doing it differently from them you’re doing it wrong. A subset of these people are the stubbornly dogmatic, demanding that everyone yield to their hard-charging and “correct” (and often myopic and unnecessarily hardline) doctrine/policy position, and they’re quite prepared to bully people about it.   

Continue reading