Life is still good

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have two thoughts battling in my brain at the same time. Thought one: traditional morality is in decline, and society is suffering because of it. The Proclamation has warned that attacks on the family will cause problems in society, and we are seeing this.

But then there is thought two, which is that many things in society are the best ever. Fewer people dying in wars. Desperate poverty is in decline worldwide. Most people live quite well, especially compared to past generations.

Readers may find this video interesting regarding thought two:

Cheerful Givers

St. Margaret at Queensferry by William Brassey Hole (1899)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…God loveth a cheerful giver.” 1

God loves all of us all the time. Yet when we don’t give or give grudgingly, God may not delight in us, though we be loved.

When it comes to giving cheerfully, I typically think of the person for whom I was named, St. Margaret. Margaret was Queen of Scotland, mother to eight children, and my ancestor 2. Though St. Margaret lived nearly 1000 years ago, the deeds of her life were preserved by means of her daughter, who insisted that Margaret’s confessor create a written record by which the daughter could remember the mother she had not known well.

The life the confessor captured is an epitome of the giving Christian. Margaret would feed hundreds of orphans each day of the two Lenten periods she observed each year (before Easter and before Christmas). As Margaret visited the inhabitants of her country, she would give away all that she had. And she encouraged those around her to give similarly.

In Church today, one friend described how those actions we may see as sacrifices can later be seen as investments. By cheerfully giving and serving, we create a better world, both for ourselves and for those around us.

As King David wrote, The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof…. 3 Everything we have is God’s, by that view. The only thing we have of ourselves is our free will. If we willingly, gladly, give to God and His children, then we have given the only gift we have to give.

Who are your examples, when you think of Paul’s admonition to give cheerfully?


  1. 2 Cor. 9:7
  2. According to the genealogies others have researched,
  3. Psalm 24:1

Proof versus Conjecture: the Golden State Killer

Detail of cover to Michelle McNamara’s 2018 book about the Golden State Killer

In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of robberies, dozens of rapes, and numerous murders were committed by an individual Michelle McNamara dubbed the Golden State Killer.

The individual had been known by other names: the Visalia Ransacker (1973-1976), the East Area Rapist (EAR, 1976-1979) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS, 1979-1986). DNA from the crime scenes could not be analyzed until the DNA profiling theory of 1985 was adopted in the affected California jurisdictions.

Ms. McNamara died in 2016 of a combination of an undiagnosed heart defect and prescription drugs for sleeplessness, anxiety, and pain. Colleagues finished the book, which was published in February 2018. Neither Ms. McNamara nor those who completed the book knew who the Golden State Killer was. The many DNA clues that linked the crimes to one another did not match any DNA profiles on the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

As I read Ms. McNamara’s book, I knew who police arrested in April 2018. Therefore it was almost painful to read the portion of the book where Ms. McNamara and her colleagues talked about the the times they had been certain they had found the killer, only to learn time and again that DNA exonerated the suspect.

Of this, Ms. McNamara wrote:

“We return to the past, armed with more information and cutting edge innovations. But there are hazards in having so much wizardry at hand. The feast of data means there are more circumstances to bend and connect. You’re tempted to build your villain with the abundance of pieces. It’s understandable. We’re pattern seekers, all of us. We glimpse the rough outline of what we seek and we get snagged on it, sometimes remaining stuck we we could get free and move on.”

No matter how much a suspect seemed to resemble the profile of the killer, they were not the killer if the DNA didn’t match. In this case, a simple test was possible, a test that time and again failed to validate the plausible conjecture in which people were so vested.

Why is this germane to the audience that reads Millennial Star? I think it is germane because there are many who have become convinced of a seemingly plausible conjecture regarding Church history. They have glimpsed a rough outline and have gotten entirely snagged on it. They have been unable to move on and seek to snag others with their discontent.

Unfortunately, determining the validity of conjectures regarding Church history is not as simple as performing a single DNA test. Entire theories are based on the thinnest of evidence, with dozens of books and hundreds/thousands of online repeaters voicing the conjecture as though it were incontrovertible fact.

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