Saints Book Club Chapter 7

At the start of Chapter 7, the translation of the Book of Mormon is progressing rapidly due to an unseasonably cold and wet spring which delayed the planting season. But in the process of translation, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery read of the Savior’s strong emphasis on baptism. Joseph had not been baptized and so he sought to learn how to receive the ordinance by properly.

The unfolding appearance of John the Baptist is familiar to us. But the significance of this event should not be underestimated. A divine messenger appeared to Joseph but also to Oliver Cowdery. Is this the first visit of divine visitation in the unfolding  Restoration that was simultaneously experienced by more than one person? I imagine Joseph must have felt relief at the fact that another person had experienced a divine vision with him. And the authority that John the Baptist gave them was nothing less than the power to act in the name of God.

While Harmony had temporarily been a place of refuge, persecution now intensifies. Emma, Joseph, and Oliver relocate to the Whitmer home. The Whitmer’s willingness to invite them into their home is remarkable. David Whitmer had learned about the translation process from Oliver, but did not yet know the Smiths. Yet the Lord knew David, and he helped to make sure that David could help in the translation process. That is very reassuring to me.

David is the Whitmer that we hear the most about, but not the only one who sacrificed much for the restoration. I loved Saints description of David’s mother Mary who was required to take care of her eight children and also serve her three visitors as she has a remarkable

Mary had little time to relax herself, and the added work and the strain placed on her were hard to bear.

One day, while she was out by the barn where the cows were milked, she saw a gray-haired man with a knapsack slung across his shoulder. His sudden appearance frightened her, but as he approached, he spoke to her in a kind voice that set her at ease.

“My name is Moroni,” he said. “You have become pretty tired with all the extra work you have to do.” He swung the knapsack off his shoulder, and Mary watched as he started to untie it.

“You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors,” he continued. “It is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.”20

Moroni opened his knapsack and removed the gold plates. He held them in front of her and turned their pages so she could see the writings on them. After he turned the last page, he urged her to be patient and faithful as she carried the extra burden a little longer. He promised she would be blessed for it.

The old man vanished a moment later, leaving Mary alone. She still had work to do, but that no longer troubled her.

I have also always loved the story that is told in this chapter of Joseph needing to ask Emma for forgiveness after a fight before he could once again begin to translate. That is such a good example of how our personal righteousness and relationships can impact our ability to receive revelation and inspiration.

Similarly, the chapter depicts Martin Harris’s inability at first to see the angelic visit and witness of the Book of Mormon. I am so sympathetic to Martin for his faith struggles. He was asked to believe in something he had not seen. Yet, he was able t summon the  courage to pray until he as able to be a full participant. We often vilify or mock Martin Harris, but we can learn much from his  example when we struggle with doubt and uncertainty.

Avoiding the Christmas Wars

This year I’m not feeling my usual anxiety — I don’t want to say yet, maybe it will come, maybe it won’t. Who knows. I’m glad though that right now, I”m not stressing about the holidays like I usually do. That said, I’ve noticed the same holiday stories creeping into my newsfeeds and those things might give me anxiety!

I’m not linking to any particular story — no one needs clicks from me — but you know what I’m talking about:

“Saying Happy Holidays is More Inclusive than Saying Merry Christmas.”

“Bring Back Merry Christmas!”

“We Only Celebrate Christmas Here!”

“Christian Groups upset over Starbucks Holiday Cup.”

“10 People Trampled on Black Friday at a Flash Toaster Sale”

Arg! You know these headlines. You see them too. Make them stop! Continue reading

Changing How We Refer to Ourselves

Former and proposed logos for the Church of Jesus Christ choir in the DC Area

This past August, President Nelson asked us to embrace the formal name of the Church. 1

We’ve now had several months to adapt to this change in our individual interactions. With the advent of the Christmas concert season, we’re formally seeing how these changes are being embraced by musical groups that used to include “Mormon” in their titles.

Last night the renamed Washington DC Temple Choir performed for hundreds of dignitaries, including the Ambassador of Paraguay and Elder Holland. Though the website and official logo have yet to reflect the change, the local choir has begun the shift to distance themselves from the “Mormon” moniker which has been used in the past.

I’d be interested to hear of:

  1. New names for groups where “Mormon” used to be part of the name
  2. Instances where you have been pleased with how adaptation to President Nelson’s request has opened dialogue
  3. Situations where you used to use the term “Mormon” and have yet to find a satisfying alternative

Notes:

  1. See the M* post of 8/17/2018, “Christians formerly known as Mormons.”

Light the World Week One: Give as He Gave


I can hardly believe that we are fast approaching the end of 2018,and we’re here at another holiday season. The last few years of my life and that of my family have seen many changes, new baby, new house, new ward and callings. I keep hoping things will slow down, but they don’t!

In the Church we have a new prophet, and many significant changes to how we “Latter-day Saint”. In April we said goodbye to home and visiting teaching and have been learning to serve in the higher and holier manner of ministering. Over the summer and again in Conference, Pres. Nelson asked the members of the Church to use the full name of the Church as we refer to ourselves and the Church. In October General Conference we were also introduced to the new Come Follow Me program for individuals and families and welcomed (at least everyone I know welcomed it) the change to a 2 hour church meeting schedule. Many new temples have been announced, members of the church are engaged in exciting and necessary good works all over the globe. It is truly an exciting time to be alive.

This year, as in years past, the Church is encouraging members to participate in service over the month of December as part of its “Light the World” initiative. This year December is divided up in to areas of focus for each week. In week one, the theme is, “Give As He Gave”. We are encouraged to pray and think of ways to give to others and the savior gave. Some suggestions that the Church has given are:

1. Share on social media an example of someone in your life that has been an example of Christlike service. Make sure to use the hashtag #LightTheWorld, so others can see your post.

2. Use a Giving Machine, or donate to another global cause.

3. Collect supplies for refugees.

4. Seek out a person from another culture and learn his or her story.

I hope that our readers will be inspired to serve, and then come back and share with us what you did to #LightTheWorld and how it changed you.

Days of Thanksgiving, Days of Fasting

John Alden House in Duxbury, Massachusetts, photo by Pete Forsyth, 15 Mar 2009

I recall as a child visiting a monument to the 1620 Pilgrims. I had no clear idea what was going on, other than that my mother was looking on the stone for names of ancestors who came across on the Mayflower.

I was a half-Asian kid who was abused at school for being other. Neighbors chased my brother home one time, attempting to “kill” the embroidered eagle on the jacket he’d received from our Chinese grandparents. The most memorable abuse left me a blubbering mess. The girls had taunted me all the way home with names I didn’t even understand, flipping my skirt up to expose me below the waist.

So it was odd to realize that I was family to those religious refugees we Americans look to each November.

Rejecting Religious Ceremony

The religious protesters we know as Pilgrims were Puritan Separatists who rejected the excess of both Catholicism and the Church of England. As we genealogists know, they refused to allow their children to be baptized in the Churches they considered to be corrupt. They did not agree that marriage was a religious sacrament. Therefore the generation who became Pilgrims is incredibly difficult to trace in England. They were the broken link, from a pedigree standpoint.

Days of Fasting, Days of Thanksgiving

The Catholic Church had accumulated canonized Saints for centuries. The year was effectually littered with Holy Days.

One of the primary Protestant reactions to their perception of Catholic excess was to eliminate Holy Days that were not focused on the Lord, Jesus. Continue reading