Martyrdom or Fighting Back

Civility is dead, many say, as each side points fingers at the other as to who is responsible. Words that condemn the incivility are often uncharitable themselves. No real solutions are put forward how it might be returned because the underlying reasons are ignored. Some push back with the argument that “civility” was a social nicety lie and the truth of American (even human) feelings are expressing themselves. One side says civility is for losers and the other for the privileged. The Gospel comes strongly on the side of civility, but at a cost and with a few exceptions.

The life of Jesus Christ was a series of giving the enemy the benefit of the doubt. His death might have been brutal and inhuman as was often the case anciently, but his response to it all is reported to have been mild. There was one instance when he called the Jewish ruler a name and only a few non-defensive statements to the rest of his accusers and judges. On the other hand, he did not completely ignore his antagonists. Sometimes he questioned the premise of the arguments with his own inquires. At other times he quoted and interpreted Scriptures that seemed to be more authoritative than the original quotes of those against him. His teachings, as he warned, had the seeds of social and family division as he sought to uproot the current social order. Of course, he refused to do this by fomenting rebellion and incivility; declaring them both antithetical to his purposes. And yet, offhandedly, he hinted that the traveling elders would need to defend themselves on the road against robbers. He was a man of peace who had a few complications often ignored because of the whole of his message.

Years later the followers of Jesus Christ often didn’t fare any better. They didn’t rise up with an army or rebel against local authority, but they were treated as criminals at times. Not one of his Apostles, if the recorded history is correct, survived to die of natural or accidental causes. A whole generation, again if the history is to be believed as more than overblown propaganda, became known as martyrs. None are recorded to have fought back against their deaths at the hand of the government or hateful people. Obviously it wasn’t a full religious extermination or no one of such a small group would have survived. Christianity, no matter what condition it is today, would have died with the other now extinct religions. If they had fought back maybe things could have been worse. Continue reading

174th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith

Today marks the 174th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum Smith. I shared how I came by my testimony of Joseph Smith four years ago. It still stands to this day, I know that Joseph Smith is the Lord’s prophet of the Restoration and that through him we have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

Doctrine & Covenants 135

Announcement of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum Smith the Patriarch, at Carthage, Illinois, June 27, ​1844. This document was included at the end of the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was nearly ready for publication when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered.

1 To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.

2 John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated! Continue reading

A Mormon Supreme Court justice?

After the announcement today that Justice Kennedy will retire, President Trump confirmed that his replacement would come from this list. The list includes both Thomas and Mike Lee, both prominent Utah Mormons.

As most readers know, Mike Lee is a senator from Utah. In my opinion, he is one of the best senators in the Senate, second only to Rand Paul. Based on his public statements, Mike Lee would make an excellent Supreme Court justice. From a strategic standpoint, Utah is very likely to choose another Republican for the Senate, so Trump’s naming Lee does not endanger the Republican Senate majority.

I didn’t know that much about Thomas Lee, but according to Wikipedia he is probably just as good as his brother.

In a 2016 article, Professor John McGinnis of the Northwestern University School of Law argued that Lee was similar to Scalia in being “capable of pressing the intellectual case for following the Constitution as written” because of Lee “has pioneered the application of corpus linguistics to law,” and further wrote that if elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, “Lee would create a transmission belt from the best work of originalists in the academy to the Supreme Court.”

Hannah Clayson Smith, writing in the National Review, praised Lee as a possible successor to Scalia because of Lee’s similar jurisprudential style to the late Justice, but noted that with respect to Lee’s views on judicial precedent, “Justice Lee is more like Justice Thomas than like Justice Scalia.” Smith noted that Lee (like Thomas) has repeatedly advocated for overruling precedent that he views as “contrary to the original meaning of the Utah constitution,” even if precedent takes a different approach.

These are very good times for conservative/libertarians with regard to the federal courts. Much to the surprise of many, Trump has appointed some of the most conservative/originalist/textualist judges in recent history. Will he name a Mormon Supreme Court justice? We shall soon find out.

Seeking Songs of the Heart

The Church is embarking on a global hymnal, in which all the songs will be published in each language. A similar effort will apparently take place for the Children’s songbook.

You can participate in the survey seeking information on what hymns should stay and which should gracefully exit, and which hymns not currently in the hymnal should be added.

And each individual can submit up to five new songs by July 1, 2019.

The effort to select the final collection and prepare the hymnal in dozens of languages will take years, so no one need mourn the imminent loss of our familiar green hymnal.

Now go to – make your voice heard!