Change…

Screenshot of browser interface to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

No matter what change occurs, someone will complain. I try not to be one of those people.

Other times change is amazing and awesome. For example, a recent purchase of a new TV gave us much easier access to all kinds of media, including an internet browser (the Silk Browser) we could use on our TV. Things were great, being able to bring the scriptures and Gospel Study aids up on our relatively large TV screen. It was pretty amazing. We could read while the audio read aloud to us. When there were embedded videos, we could click and play them. When the study guide suggested we read something, we could click and have the reference pop up on the screen for all to see.

No fumbling through fragile pages. No worry that someone in the room was using their phone or device for something else. Ability to scroll through content in a manner to ensure the less-able members of the group could follow along.

Then three things happened.

First, we got to May in the “Come, Follow Me” guide and I realized there was no way to scroll the left side. I quickly realized I could work around this for our continued study by signing in (the TV auto-filled my username and password) and using bookmarks to keep my place in both the “Come Follow Me” guide and the scripture reading. [Today I noticed this same “feature” when I use the website interface of a laptop computer, hence the post.]

Second, someone put a “Feedback” box on the middle of the right side of the screen. That would normally be fine, except that is where the next page arrow lives. After sufficient anger to prompt at least one instance of attempting to comment using the awkward TV remote “keyboard” interface, I figured out that I could click on the “Related Content” icon at the far upper right corner and open the side window, pushing the next page arrow out from under the “Feedback” box. After several days, I noted that the Feedback box had shifted off the next page arrow.

I was feeling like I had mastered things. Then came the day when I attempted to scroll down the page. And nothing happened. By this time the orange “Feedback” box had disappeared.

Now, this could all be a subtle way of getting us to use paper copies of the scriptures and manuals. Unfortunately, other websites or TV-provided media work just fine, so these “features” don’t succeed in dissuading folks from plastering their faces to the TV screen for other content.

I’m moderately sure that someone thinks the updated interface is wonderful. And maybe it’s just that I am slow and technologically backwards. If you know how to make the Church website sing and disgorge content on devices that don’t have a touch screen, please share!

If you have also run into challenges, please share what you do to study scriptures in light of the challenges. For example, my husband (who didn’t really like me using the TV for family scripture study) reads his verses from the Thomas Wayment edition of the New Testament. My daughter reads from her mini-quad with several ribbons. And I use my phone or tablet or (gasp) paper scriptures.

Turning Something Very Good Into Something Very Bad

Jacob Z. Hess

This is the fourth of a seven-part series, “Recruiting Alma the Younger” (see earlier essays on attachment injury, the pain of separation from the Saints and historical claims against the Church). Appreciations to Public Square Magazine and Meridian Magazine for sharing this previously. 

When a divorce takes place, something else almost always happens before:  whatever had once been earnestly, easily embraced as good and beautiful comes to be experienced as definitely not good and anything but beautiful. In the place of previous preciousness, new feelings of aching animosity often arise, alongside a new understanding of one’s partner, the relationship, and its history – as old memories are swapped out for a very different story.    

This happens with a dissolving marriage. And it does with the end of other kinds of unions, including in relation to faith communities. 

In a talk earlier this month, Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlined some of the humanitarian work the Church had been able to accomplish in a single year with the help of member contributions, including:

  • 400,000 food orders given out to hungry individuals
  • 300,000 people in 35 countries receiving vision care 
  • 50,000 people in dozens of countries receiving wheelchairs
  • Thousands of mothers in 39 countries receiving newborn care
  • Over 100 disaster-relief projects around the world helping victims of hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, and other calamities

Since these efforts began, hundreds of communities in 76 countries have also received clean water, with a total of more than two billion dollars provided in aid to people throughout the world independent of “church affiliation, nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender, or political persuasion.”

To many observers—even those who wouldn’t consider themselves religious—such efforts would be reliable markers of a people and an organization that is “good.”But especially over the last decade, more and more have come to see this faith community (along with other religions) in a very different light. 

How does something good on its face, come to be experienced as bad?  

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Partners

Washington DC Temple at dusk, 2011, by Joe Ravi (CC-BY-SA 3.0 )

Decades ago now a young man of my acquaintance told me he’d been prompted to ask me to marry him. A few days later we agreed to meet at the temple so the question could formally be asked and answered.

After the endowment session, the question was asked and answered. We parted to change for an activity later that evening. After I was ready I waited. After a while, I went downstairs, suspecting that there had been a miscommunication about where we were to meet. But my young man wasn’t there either.

Eventually my young man emerged from the dressing room, and we went out to a bench on the hill near the temple, where for many years couples have sat together to talk of things. It was there where my young man presented to me the delightful note he’d written to me in the changing room:

To my partner in the body,
Whose gaze fills me with love,
In whose arms I am blessed with peace;

To my partner in the heart,
With whom I share the delights in life,
With whom my voice and feelings sing;

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