Church Music: I Will Walk With Jesus, and Go & Do

In the Face to Face broadcast back in November, two new songs were introduced which go along with the new Children and Youth programs in the Church. Normally, I am not a fan of what I call “church pop”, but these songs are really good and have brought a very strong spirit into our home as we’ve listened to them. And as an FYI — there is an entire album of songs that go with this year’s youth program found by following THIS LINK.

We started learning I Will Walk With Jesus in Primary today. It was raining on my face is all, I was not weepy or anything — primary kids are the best! I am really starting to understand at a deeper level why Pres. Nelson talks about walking the “Covenant Path” so much. We need to walk that path, we need to teach our children to walk that path at very young ages, because the world they are going to live in will try and take them in so many ways off of that sacred path.

The song for the youth (kids age 11-18) is called Go & Do and is the youth theme for the year, based off of 1 Nephi 3: 7. . In the official video the song is sung by David Archuleta. This song also talks about walking with Christ. Do you see the theme of walking the covenant path and walking that path with Jesus Christ? What a great message for our kids. What an invitation for all of us.

New Heart, New Mind, New Year

Jacob Z. Hess

This is the last of a seven-part seriesRecruiting Alma the Younger that began on Millennial Star and expanded to Meridian Magazine (earlier pieces explored competing ways of making sense of faith struggles, the pain of walking awayhistorical concerns, and the impact of The Church of Jesus Christ – along with considering the implications of socio-political views on faith and an appeal to come back to one’s spiritual home for Christmas). 

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” -George Eliot

I didn’t always feel this happy.  Or carry with me a peace that rarely goes away.

For many years, I lived life in a cloud, surrounded with a palpable fog of regret, despondency and gloom that seemed to follow me – like Charlie Brown’s Pigpen or Little Abner’s Joe – wherever I went. 

My life for a long while.

After carrying that weight for so long, I know what it’s like to start believing – really believing – that underlying sorrow and fear is “just going to be my life.” 

Faced with this kind of internal angst, no wonder people like me numb out – finding something to push away what we’re feeling.

Anything but this. 

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Should the church reconsider its policy against concealed weapons?

Many readers will have heard by now about the Texas church shooting. Here is a picture that I found very eerie because it could have easily taken place in an LDS chapel (although it didn’t — the church involved was not LDS):

To summarize, a man wearing a tench coat entered a Texas church with a shotgun hidden in his coat. The man shot an usher, shot another man and was killed by two members of the congregation who pulled out guns and shot him. The two people shot by the guy in the trench coat died. It should be noted that several other members of the congregation also pulled out their guns right after the shooting and adopted defensive postures to take on the gunman. Guns in church are legal in Texas because of a recent change in the law. The shooters who killed the gunman saved countless lives. As you can see from the picture above, the congregants were sitting ducks who could have been massacred by the gunman.

LDS church policy in Handbook 2 states:

21.2.4

Firearms

Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on Church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.

I have seen some reports that indicate the handbook policy was actually changed in August 2019 to make the policy against guns more stringent. It is worth noting that in September 2018 a church member with a concealed carry permit accidentally discharged his gun in a meetinghouse in Provo, Utah. This accident may have had something to do with the 2019 policy change.

But given that church shooting in Texas — in which people with concealed carry permits saved countless lives, perhaps the Church will consider changing its policy again. This post is intended to politely discuss this issue.

Please note: we at M* do not believe it is our job to counsel the Brethren on Church policy. We do not criticize Church leaders on this policy or any other policy. We believe the Church is led by revelation and that Church leaders receive that revelation. The purpose of this post is, therefore, not to complain but instead to provide a forum for members to present their opinions.

Possible arguments in favor of allowing concealed carry at Church

1)Concealed carry at an LDS church should only be considered in states and countries where concealed carry at church is legal, as it is in Texas. It is worth noting that this means concealed carry would still not be legal in most countries and even in some U.S. states. So, this question only applies to a few locales, not the entire world.

2)Concealed carry permits involve taking safety and training classes. The people with these permits are among the safest gun owners in the world because of this training.

3)The number of guns in the United States continues to climb. I have seen estimates that there are between 300 million and 400 million gun in the U.S. Meanwhile, the homicide rate has gone down. (See the below chart).

With so many guns in the United States, and so many crazy and/or over-politicized people out there, it is reasonable to believe that LDS churches may suffer attacks by shooters.

4)Please do not come on this blog and make inane arguments about gun control. You can take those arguments to other blogs where people believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy. The fact remains that the United States has a constitutional protection for gun ownership, and that will not change anytime soon. There are at least 300 million guns in the United States, and they will not magically disappear because you want them to. In a Zion world there would be no guns (in my opinion), but we don’t live in Zion, we live in a fallen world where bad guys can easily get guns. And as the chart above shows, the more people talk about gun control (under President Obama), the more guns people buy. Let’s deal with the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be. And this post is not about gun control — it is about Church policy towards concealed carry.

5)If bad guys are going to have guns (and they are), good guys with guns will be needed. If bad guys know that the Church is a gun free zone, they are more likely to target our chapels. Many of the most publicized mass shootings take place in gun free zones.

6)Lives will be saved if a concealed carry holder takes on a potential shooter at church.

Possible arguments in favor of continuing church policy as it is

1)The Church is concerned about all lethal weapons in a peaceful church setting. It does not help bring the Spirit to see people around you carrying weapons of any kind. The Church is about worshipping the Prince of Peace.

2)Guns, even those carried by people with conceal carry permits, will sometimes go off, even accidentally. Can you imagine the tragedy of somebody accidentally being killed by a person carrying a gun at church?

3)Guns are not compatible with a Zion society, and this is what we should be trying to create at church. Like it or not, some people are going to feel uncomfortable knowing other people at church are carrying guns.

4)If you favor guns at church, would you favor guns at a temple? I would not personally. Consider this question carefully while you consider whether you want guns in a chapel while the Sacrament is being served.

My take: I am honestly undecided on this issue. I own several guns for protection. I take them to the range once a year to shoot. I am against most gun control, and I favor the 2nd Amendment. It is simply a fact that many attacks take place in gun free zones. But on the other hand, I have tremendous sympathy for those who don’t want to see guns at church. It is also simply a fact that a gun carried by even the safest person can go off accidentally. And I would not want people to carry guns into the temple, so if I don’t want guns at the temple, why would I want them in a chapel? So I can see good arguments on both sides of this issue.

Here is your chance to sound off, but please, please, please don’t turn this into a debate on gun control. This is not the time or place.

Book Review: The Lost 116 Pages

Book Review: The Lost 116 Pages – Reconstructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories, by Don Bradley

The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon's Missing Stories

For 190 years, Latter-day Saints and others have been enriched by the teachings and stories in the Book of Mormon. Sadly, a large portion of the book is not available, due to the manuscript being stolen from Martin Harris, one of the first scribes to Joseph Smith. Over the years, many have opined not having the lost manuscript, often called the “Book of Lehi” and what additional information it could give us concerning the Nephites, their teachings and history. So important is this loss that several unscrupulous persons have claimed over the years to have found and interpreted it. Having read several of them, I can tell you that they are fraudulent and full of discrepancies.

Not so with “the Lost 116 Pages.” Bradley does not claim to be rewriting the Book of Lehi, nor translating anything from a manuscript. Instead, through more than a decade of research, he has come up with several compelling theories of events and teachings that probably occurred within the lost manuscript.

Two major sections, The Lost Pages and The Missing Stories are broken down into fifteen chapters:

  1. The Ark of the New Covenant
  2. The Sealed Book
  3. Translating the Nephite Record
  4. The Manuscript Theft
  5. The Long Blue Lost Manuscript
  6. Reconstructing the Lost Manuscript
  7. A Passover Setting for Lehi’s Exodus
  8. Lehi’s Tabernacle in the Wilderness
  9. The Seven Tribes of Lehi
  10. Nephi’s Conquest
  11. Nephi’s Temple
  12. The Lost Middle Period
  13. God and Aminadi in the Temple
  14. The Mosian Reform
  15. The Book of Benjamin

The first five chapters go into the details of finding the gold plates, description and use of the Urim and Thummim, the translation process, the loss of the manuscript, and its detailed description.

In the first section, the two most important points for me was, first, the lost manuscript was likely 300 pages long, or 2/3 the size of our current Book of Mormon. Bradley details why there are more than 116 pages, why Joseph Smith called it 116 pages (the same number of pages in the translation of Nephi’s small plates), and the length of time/number of pages per day, in which Martin Harris and 4 other scribes were translating the manuscript. With this understanding, it vastly increases the amount of scripture lost.

Second, from accounts describing the Urim and Thummim, we get a fascinating and detailed theory on how it actually worked. Diagrams depicting the look and use of the Interpreters are very helpful in imagining what they looked like. Interestingly, the two stones are described as diamond-like, one an equilateral triangle and the other a right angled triangle: or the Compass and the Square, important symbols in Latter-day Saint temple theology. Bradley explains that the curtain that separated him from his scribe was not used just to hide the plates from view, but obscured the light so the Interpreters could project more clearly the translation. It also anticipates the veil of the temple, in hiding the most sacred things from the world.

In discussing the probable missing stories from the lost manuscript, Bradley uses clues given by statements made by Martin Harris, Joseph Smith Sr, and others, as well as internal clues within the Book of Mormon, to expand and explain things which not only gives us an idea of what was in the lost pages, but enhances our understanding of the Book of Mormon we have today.

For example, in the Book of Alma, Alma’s missionary companion, Amulek, speaks of his ancestry, which includes Aminadi, who interpreted the writing made on the temple wall by the finger of the Lord. For years, I pondered just what the story behind Aminadi was, as the Book of Mormon does not give any other details about him, even though the prophet Mormon probably told his story in the lost pages. Using similar events in scripture (Belshazzar’s finger of the Lord writing on his palace wall, the Brother of Jared seeing the finger of the Lord, etc), and details within the Book of Mormon itself, Bradley places Aminadi during a period just prior to great Nephite destruction (see Omni), being a warning voice to the people they needed to repent or be destroyed. Later, Bradley expands this story by noting that Mosiah 1 was warned in a dream to take the believers on a new Exodus to Zarahemla, ahead of the great destruction in the Land of Nephi. He then successfully ties the story of Zeniff into this story, as a people returning to the land of original inheritance.

By using available clues, Bradley details the location of the American Mount Sinai, where Mosiah 1 discovers the Interpreters and constructs a mobile temple or Tabernacle. Instead of a bunch of disparate stories from the lost pages, Bradley weaves an intricate tapestry of stories that tie into one another, and into the Old Testament. Nephite prophets are compared with Moses, Abraham, David, Joshua, Jacob and Joseph of old. Events are tied to ancient Israelite festivals. Sacred Nephite artifacts are likened to the sacred items kept in Solomon’s temple.

Bradley notes in his conclusion that it was this complexity that brought him to a point of belief in the Book of Mormon and his return to the Restored Church after many years of separation. For me, this is also a major evidence of the truthfulness of the gospel. Someone as young and ignorant as Joseph Smith could not have designed such a complex book, which ties into Old Testament events and festivals, and weaves its stories together into a tight work.

No, Bradley does not bring back all of the Lost Manuscripts 116 pages. There just aren’t enough quotes and clues available to do such a thing. However, what he has restored to us and the well researched and considered conclusions he draws from the evidence will greatly enhance our understanding and appreciation of what we do have: the Book of Mormon. We do owe Don Bradley much thanks for this, his opus magnum. Because of his tireless research over more than a decade, we now have a fuller understanding of not only the Lost 116 Pages, but of the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

Available at Greg Kofford Books: https://gregkofford.com/products/the-lost-116-pages