Preparing for General Conference: President Nelson’s life-saving prophetic guidance

I will never forget hearing these words from President Nelson at the October 2018 General Conference:

The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith. I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.

At the time, I had no idea what the “home-center, Church-supported” curriculum would entail. But soon thereafter we as a family started studying the “Come Follow Me” curriculum five days a week. And the changes have literally helped save us during difficult times.

At the beginning, there was some resistance to a Family Home Evening type of environment five nights a week. My three sons did a bit of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Just a bit.

But now, believe it or not, my sons, all of them Young Men, look forward to our Come Follow Me time of scripture study and Gospel discussion.

It is not an accident that Come Follow Me was introduced soon before the pandemic. While so many people suffered through the unnecessary and tyrannical lockdowns, we were able to concentrate on the Gospel an hour or so a day as a family. Two of my three sons suffered severe depression from the forced isolation and closing of schools. I believe it was the Come Follow Me program that helped keep them alive.

Now my sons — and the rest of the family — are stronger and filled with faith. What does not kill you makes you stronger, and that applies here.

The Sabbath day is even more of a delight. The influence of the adversary has decreased, and the changes in our family have been dramatic and sustaining. I feel like the Come Follow Me program has created an invisible shield around our home. This does not mean that nothing bad will happen to us — we are certain to have challenges in the days ahead just like everybody else. But we will be stronger and more able to face these challenges.

At the April 2018 General Conference, President Nelson famously said: “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” The Come Follow Me program helped increase that influence in our home, and it has helped us survive spiritually.

So, what will we hear at General Conference this weekend? I predict many messages that will continue to help us survive spiritually. It will be a delight.

Interesting third temple events in Jerusalem

Some interesting things are happening in Jerusalem, and they may or may not lead to the building of the third temple in the coming years.

Before we go on, why is this significant? Consider the following from Joseph Smith in talking about the things that must come to pass before the Second Coming of the Savior:

“Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c., and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 337.)

If we read that plainly, it appears a temple in Jerusalem must be built before Jesus will return.

With that in mind, we read: “Ben Gurion Gearing Up to Bring All 70 Nations Straight From the Airport to Third Temple.”

Ben Gurion, Israel’s largest airport, located in Tel Aviv, has announced plans for a 2023 high speed rail line that will transport travelers directly to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the story, the terminal station near the Western Wall will be named for the U.S.’s 45th President, Donald J. Trump (cue weeping and wailing from the never-Trumpers).

While the Israeli government has not publicly announced plans to build a new temple, there are some hints, like an informational flyer distributed by the government in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighborhoods, answering questions about how the new train line might affect them. The flyer included this cheerful graphic:

Yes, that graphic shows people happily riding the train to perform sacrifices near the Temple Mount, which can only be done at…a future temple!

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Today’s temple: Fort Collins

In Elder’s Quorum on Sunday several Church members were concerned about the contents of social media. I said, “don’t blame social media, it is just a tool. If you want social media to be better, you should post pictures of temples and quotations from prophets and the scriptures, and your social media will get better.”

So, in that spirit, here is the first of an occasional series: today’s temple. Fort Collins, my home temple in northern Colorado. Have a great day everybody!

Fort Collins, Colorado temple

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.

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BYU announces no racist shouts at volleyball game after lengthy investigation

BYU exhaustively investigated the alleged racist comments at a two-week-old volleyball match and could find no evidence that the slurs took place.

Remember, the claim was that racial slurs were shouted “throughout the entirety of the match.” There was no evidence that even one racial slur ever took place.

The result is certain to disappoint race hustlers, progressive Church members and ex-Mormons, who could never have imagined a more perfect scenario than a black female volleyball player coming to BYU and claiming constant racism. Unfortunately for these charlatans, BYU fans are just like most Church members, ie, good people who leave the racist slurs to MSNBC commentators. Meanwhile, Duke is continuing its history as the school of woke hoaxes.

From the BYU statement on its investigation:

We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly). We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event: Duke athletic department personnel and student-athletes, BYU athletic department personnel and student-athletes, event security and management and fans who were in the arena that evening, including many of the fans in the on-court student section.

From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation. 

Well-meaning and reasonable people knew this was probably the case right after the allegation was made. It is simply not likely that fans at BYU would scream racial epithets “throughout the entirety of the match” without school security and other fans doing something about it.

Sorry progmos, race hustlers and exmos! Sucks to be you.