Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fundamentalist Temple Work

Today's Deseret News has an absolutely fascinating article about a new religious temple being constructed near Eldorado, Texas. The temple belongs to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, See also here. (Not affiliated with the Mormon Church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

What is so fascinating to me is the fact this religious group has a temple, that is or near completion. I did not know they had or were constructing a temple. I did not know their belief system incorporated temple worship or work of any kind. While it's virtually impossible to build a temple in secret, no one has been talking much about this temple.

Reports the Deseret News:

The polygamous sect itself remains silent, as it has been since construction started.
"They're not making a lot of comments on it," Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said. "They said, 'Yeah, the structure's completed on the exterior,' but they didn't elaborate."

On a dirt road just a few miles outside of the tiny town of Eldorado, the temple stands out amid the surrounding ranchland. It has a limestone facade. Arched windows around the building lead up to turrets, which surround the roof. Atop it all is a short-domed steeple, reminiscent of the Nauvoo, Ill., temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Above the doorway is the "all seeing eye" and an inscription that reportedly includes the phrase, "Holiness to the Lord in the House of the Lord."

"We believe it's done," Doran said. "We don't know about the interior, but the exterior looks definitely done. They've got sod down, they've got the fence out, they've got metal railing on the stairs."

News of the FLDS temple's completion has reached some in the polygamous border communities of Hildale, Washington County, and Colorado City, Ariz.

"About half the people who live here still don't even know about it," former-FLDS member Ross Chatwin said. "Warren (Jeffs) was very upset when the apostates (FLDS members who have been excommunicated) found out about it."

Based on published reports, one key belief or doctrine of the FLDS group is the practice of polygamy. Will this practice be solemnized in this temple? Will they perform sealing work similar to the work that is performed in LDS Temples all over the world? I have no idea, and apparently so does no one else:

Doran said he maintains contact with FLDS members on the YFZ Ranch, who told him members will flock from all over the United States to Texas as a retreat.

"They said they'll do their temple work and return home," he said. Asked what kind of temple work will be performed, Doran said he had no idea.
If I were to guess right now, I would say the FLDS leadership (one of whom is wanted for alleged sexual assaults on a minor), may be contemplating a legal defense of their polygamous beliefs and practices. Religious belief and practice, at least currently, is a highly protected exercise of the First Amendment. Even though polygamy is currently outlawed in all 50 states, it is nevertheless practiced by several groups around the country. The FLDS group can make the legal argument that their polygamy practice ought to be protected by the First Amendment.

This constitutional argument did not work well for the original Church of Jesus Christ in the late 1800's; however, times have changed, as has the legal framework. The gay rights movement has been extremely successful in their assault on traditional marriage, between one man and one woman. Their legal basis, at least in my opinion, is not nearly as strong as the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The FLDS church has always maintained their polygamous life style was a matter of deeply held religous belief. See a related article here.

Beginning to solemnize polygamous marriages in their new temple would be an additional strong argument in a potential legal assault on current polygamy laws throughout the country. Given what courts have done throughout the country with traditional marriage laws, I think it entirely plausible polygamy laws may start falling under this type of potential legal challenge. If courts are willing to strike down current marriage laws using strained legal arguments, how much more likely are they to strike down laws based on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment? This is one to watch.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune's Hive Is Buzzing

Is this headline: "Crews turn Capitol into busy beehive", from the same Tribune that gave us this editorial? They must be as busy as bees at the Tribune to have engaged is such a religious faux pas--particularly since they are still harping on the same issue. Go figure.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Do Mormons Overwhelming Support The Iraq War?

I don't know the answer to that question. Personally I hope the answer is a resounding NO. I do NOT support that war, and I never have; however an article from Today's Salt Lake Tribune is very troubling, at least to me. The gist of the article is that, at least in Utah, there is a religious divide (as there is about many things) along LDS v non LDS membership and support or nonsupport for the war. Reports the Tribune:

Unlike most other major U.S. religions, the LDS Church has taken no official stance on the war. Nonetheless, a recent poll commissioned by The Salt Lake Tribune showed overwhelming support among Utah's Mormons for President Bush's actions in Iraq.

While 73 percent of those identifying themselves as Mormons in the poll said they, like Dannehl, supported President Bush's conduct of the war, about 62 percent of non-Mormons said they disapproved.
It is fascinating to me how the Church takes no official position, yet almost in lockstep, at least in Utah (and probably the U.S.), 73 percent of identified LDS membership (according to this poll) support the war. And, more troubling to me, is the manifestation of this support in Church sponsored meetings:

'I support my president': Each month, Mormons gather to share their beliefs at "fast and testimony" meetings, speaking of how they have come to understand the LDS Church "is true."

But sometimes, the discussion moves to other convictions.

At a recent meeting in American Fork a man identifying himself as a former Green Beret stood to share his testimony. "If you're a Democrat, I want you to understand that I support my president," he said in comments recorded by the church for homebound members. "And if you have a problem with that, we can talk behind the church." The comment drew laughs from the congregation, but no challengers.
I see nothing funny about the abuse of a fast and testimony meeting to espouse one's own political views, whether that is for support of the war, or in opposition to the war. There are more appropriate forums and venues for such expression.

Ironically, as the Tribune points out, supporting the war in the numbers reflected in this poll places LDS members right along side the Southern Baptist Convention, a group of people which despises the LDS Church, teachings, and membership:

  • The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest single U.S. Protestant body, issued a resolution in June expressing "deepest gratitude and respect for our president," who "has been forced to make difficult decisions that place our servicemen and servicewomen in harm's way."
  • The resolution encouraged "all Southern Baptists to pray regularly for our president and to stand with him in opposing global terrorism."
  • Southern Baptist officials estimate support for Bush's war among their members stands at about 75 percent.
Though not all Utah Mormons support the SBC, or the war:

'A Mormon response': Not every Saint marches with a war drum.

"Pacifism is a Mormon response," said Dennis Clark, an LDS member from Orem who opposes the Iraq war on spiritual grounds. "I've always felt that it's really not possible for me to hold priesthood and believe in the use of force."

Clark, a poet and writer who spoke about his views at Sunstone Magazine's 2004 symposium on Mormon history and contemporary life, says he does his best "to sneak in my subversive ideas" when teaching younger men at his ward.

But at 60 years old, he does not expect to see the day when a majority of LDS members are opposed to the use of military force.

Clark often worries about the relationship his fellow Latter-day Saints have forged with Evangelicals.

"Mormons are not Christians in the eyes of these people," Clark said. "I think it's really a miscalculation for church members to feel comfortable in that company, because we'll be the next people they'll come after."
Mr. Clark makes a very astute observation, one with historical precedent. It was the early evangelical community that came after the Prophet Joseph with a vengeance. It is that same community that continues to ridicule LDS beliefs today.

Upon reading today's Tribune article I thought back to President Kimball's charge to the LDS community to be more pro-kingdom of God and less anti-enemy. To stop worshiping the false gods of our military and modern culture:

And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world—that which is telestial—that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.

In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: “And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch.” (Moses 7:13.)

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is affirmative: to forsake the things of the world as ends in themselves; to leave off idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the “arm of flesh,” for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, “I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (D&C 64:24.)

What would be a more interesting poll, one I wish could be conducted is the opinion of LDS members world wide, not just within the confines of Utah, or even the United States. I suspect that LDS members at least in the United States likely mirror the opinions of their Utah counterparts. I know that at least on California's Central Coast that is true; however, I'd be curious to see how that opinion changes when the entire world wide Church membership is included. I suspect there would be some significant changes.

I say let's do support our troops. Let's get them out of this unholy and unrighteous war. Let's bring them home to their families so we can begin to build the kingdom of God, rather than wreak havoc in the kingdom of men.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

BYU Professor Heads A 9/11 Conspiracy Group

Today's Deseret News reports on a groupd headed by BYU Physics professor, Steven E. Jones that gives me some pause. According to the News:

Last fall, Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones made headlines when he charged that the World Trade Center collapsed because of "pre-positioned explosives." Now, along with a group that calls itself "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," he's upping the ante.

"We believe that senior government officials have covered up crucial facts about what really happened on 9/11," the group says in a statement released Friday announcing its formation. "We believe these events may have been orchestrated by the administration in order to manipulate the American people into supporting policies at home and abroad.

Headed by Jones and Jim Fetzer, University of Minnesota Duluth distinguished McKnight professor of philosophy, the group is made up of 50 academicians and others.
I'm not much of a conspiracy believer. I've always felt the Kennedy conspiracy theorists were on the fringe of reality. So, to have a BYU professor such an intregal part of a group that thinks the United States Government played a major role in the events of 9/11 is troubling to me. Some of the group's contentions include:

• Members of the Bush administration knew in advance that the 9/11 attacks would happen but did nothing to stop them.

• No Air Force or Air National Guard jets were sent to "scramble" the hijacked planes, which were clearly deviating from their flight plans, although jet fighters had been deployed for scramblings 67 times in the year prior to 9/11. The procedure for issuing orders for scrambling was changed in June 2001, requiring that approval could only come from the Secretary of Defense, but Donald Rumsfeld was not alerted soon enough on 9/11, according to Scholars group.

• The video of Osama bin Laden found by American troops in Afghanistan in December 2001, in which bin Laden says he orchestrated the attacks, is not bin Laden. The Scholars for 9/11 Truth compared the video with a photo of the "real" bin Laden and argue that there are discrepancies in the ratio of nose-length to nose-width, as well as distance from tip-of-nose to ear lobe.

The Scholars group hopes that media outlets around the world will ask experts in their areas to examine the group's findings and assertions. If this were done, they argue, "one of the great hoaxes of history would stand naked before the eyes of the world."

The group also asks for an investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, following up on points made in Jones's paper, "Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?" That paper, recently updated, has been posted on Jones's BYU Web site since last November.

Jones argues that the WTC buildings did not collapse due to impact or fires caused by the jets hitting the towers but collapsed as a result of pre-positioned "cutter charges." Proof, he says, includes:

• Molten metal was found in the subbasements of WTC sites weeks after 9/11; the melting point of structural steel is 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature of jet fuel does not exceed 1,800 degrees. Molten metal was also found in the building known as WTC7, although no plane had struck it. Jones's paper also includes a photo of a slag of the metal being extracted from ground zero. The slag, Jones argues, could not be aluminum from the planes because in photographs the metal was salmon-to-yellow-hot temperature (approximately 1,550 to 1,900 degrees F) "well above the melting temperatures of lead and aluminum," which would be a liquid at that temperature.

• Building WTC7 collapsed in 6.6 seconds, which means, Jones says, that the steel and concrete support had to be simply knocked out of the way. "Explosive demolitions are like that," he said. "It doesn't fit the model of the fire-induced pancake collapse."

• No steel-frame, high-rise buildings have ever before or since been brought down due to fires. Temperatures due to fire don't get hot enough for buildings to collapse, he says.

• Jones points to a recent article in the journal New Civil Engineering that says WTC disaster investigators at NIST (the National Institutes of Standards and Technology) "are refusing to show computer visualizations of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers."

Some of these statements border on the radical, from a lay person's perspective. For me the most difficult is the claim the buildings were actually brought down by pre-positioned explosives, implying some elements of the government knew about 9/11 before the fact, allowed it to happen, or even exacerbated its outcome.

That said, the group is comprised of some pretty impressive scholars, including one BYU professor, an instructor, and others educated at BYU:

Headed by Jones and Jim Fetzer, University of Minnesota Duluth distinguished McKnight professor of philosophy, the group is made up of 50 academicians and others.

They include Robert M. Bowman, former director of the U.S. "Star Wars" space defense program, and Morgan Reynolds, former chief economist for the Department of Labor in President George W. Bush's first term. Most of the members are less well-known.

The group is called Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Their website is here. The qualifications of the scholars reflect some pretty educated folks. Still I have a very difficult time believing some of their contentions. And, troubling for me is the involvment of a well educated BYU professor, which brings a Church tie whether meant or not.

It will be interesting to follow their progress.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Two Employees Fired In President Hinckley Health Disclosure

KUTV, (video available at the linked website) Salt Lake City's CBS televison affiliate has reported that two Cottonwood Hospital employess have been fired for allegedly leaking President Gordon B. Hinckely's medical condition to the media:

Now IHC employees have been fired after the news of Hinckley's condition was leaked to the media.

"I'm really upset, I've worked for IHC for 4 years and for them to fire me on a technicality," says Aryn Nelson.

Nelson says four months ago she gave her login information to another worker after that employee's internet privileges were taken away. That employee allegedly signed in under Nelson's name and sent an email to the media Tuesday, saying LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley was in the hospital.

"They brought me in and I started crying when they said we're going to terminate you, we sincerely believe you didn't send the email,� says Nelson. �I had no idea until they pulled me into the office they just said he had a procedure. I didn't even know about it until I watched the news."

Nelson says the reason she was given for the termination was because she gave out her computer password.
This is an interesting story on many counts. First, it names only one employee, Aryn Nelson, allegedly involved in this leaking. Aryn is apparently only tangentially involved in that she gave her internet password to a co-employee, not named in the story. It was the non-named employee who allegedly sent the email to the media about President Hinckley's medical condition.

Leaking medical information about any patient to any third party is potentially a violation of the Health Insurance Portablility and Accountability Act, HIPPA--see here and here.

The Act establishes for the first time a set of national standards for the protection of certain health information. A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals' health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public's health and well being. The Rule strikes a balance that permits important uses of information, while protecting the privacy of people who seek care and healing.
If, as reported, the unnamed employee was fired for directly leaking President Hinckley's medical condtion to the media, this appears to be a serious violation of his HIPPA medical privacy rights. While, on the other hand, Aryn's transgression appears to be more of an internal employment issue of improperly disclosing her internet password and access.

The gospel implication is whether if President Hinckley hears of these alleged violations, would he, or should he as God's ordained Prophet on earth forgive these transgressions against him? If so, should these employees be reinstated to their jobs? I would imagine someone is likely to make President Hinckley aware of these transgressions. Given that Christ Himself asked the Father to forgive those Roman soldiers who carried out the Crucifixion orders of the government, is it likely President Hinckley would do the same, and ask that these employees be given back their jobs?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

President Hinckley Doing Well After Surgery

This will likely be my last post on President Hinckley's recent surgery and now recovery. He is doing quite well, for which I am certain millions world wide are grateful.

Salt Lake Tribune:

LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley was "resting comfortably" Wednesday at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous growth in his colon.
"We expect that he will recover rapidly and resume his normal duties soon," said spokesman Dale Bills.

LDS Church headquarters has been flooded with heart-warming get-well wishes from the Mormon faithful and others, church officials said.

Deseret News

President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was reportedly resting comfortably in LDS Hospital Wednesday after laparoscopic surgery Tuesday to remove colon cancer.

Few details regarding President Hinckley's surgery or his condition have been released by church spokesmen. Church officials did say they have received an outpouring of well-wishes for President Hinckley

Because of federal privacy laws, those caring for him cannot discuss his surgery, how the cancer was detected or what future treatment he might need. But several colon cancer experts not involved with his care talked about the disease and its treatment in general terms.

Colon cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when it's detected early. The survival rate for stage 1 colon cancer is more than 90 percent, according to Dr. John Ward, medical oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

Provo Daily Herald

Gordon B. Hinckley, the 95-year-old president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was "resting comfortably" at a Salt Lake City hospital Wednesday after a cancerous portion of his large intestine was removed, a church spokeswoman said.

"We expect that he will recover rapidly and resume his normal duties soon," said church spokeswoman Kim Farah. No other information was released.

The cancerous growth was found during a routine medical screening -- presumably a colonoscopy -- and was removed Tuesday, a church statement said. It was not known whether there were any indications of additional cancer or what treatment might be planned.

President Hinckely is amazing in his ability to continue in his dedication to his calling and service to others.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

President Hinckley Recovering From Cancer Surgery

The Salt Lake Tribune continues to lead in its coverage of President Hinckley's colon cancer surgery and current condition:

LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley was in a Salt Lake City hospital Tuesday recovering from laparoscopic surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his colon, or large intestine.
"The diseased portion of the intestine was successfully removed," said LDS spokesman Dale Bills in an official statement. "It is anticipated that President Hinckley will recover rapidly and resume his normal duties."

What is next for the Prophet:

After the cancer cells are removed, the surgeon looks into the abdomen to determine if there are any other masses in the abdomen. Any suspicious growth would be evaluated by a pathologist.
But even if doctors did find the cancer had spread, it is unlikely that Hinckley would undergo the chemotherapy as a younger person might. "At his age, you would have a tough time showing some kind of advantage in that treatment," Nibley said.
Of course, President Hinckley is not your average 95 year old patient, and chemotherapy treatments have improved over the years:

Joe Eyring, a Salt Lake City colorectal surgeon, said that might not necessarily be the case.
"Chemotherapy for colon cancer has made real breakthroughs lately. Many potential therapies are available depending on [the cancer's] location and stage of development," Eyring said. "In general, 95-year-old people don't usually choose chemotherapy but there aren't many 95-year-old people in his position. This is a unique case."

As president, Hinckley has traveled to more countries than any previous LDS leader, jetting across the globe, dedicating temples and meeting with church members, government officials and the media.

More press coverage:

Deseret News

The Washington Post


As I find more news coverage I will post links to them here. Almost every major news source, including print, cable and broadcast has a version of this story; however, it is essentially the same AP story that is running here. If anyone has other updates, please feel free to share them. Please also remember President Hinckley in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

President Hinckley Hospitalized For Surgery

Update: For more recent updates see new post here.

President Hinckley has been hosptialized. (Hat Tip Julie M. Smith at T & S) I will continue to post updates here as I find them:

Yahoo News

Salt Lake Tribune

The Tribune has the most comprehensive coverage thus far. The Tribune is also reporting that President Hinckley's surgery was for colon cancer:

LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley was in a Salt Lake City hospital Tuesday recovering from laparoscopic surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his colon, or large intestine.
"The diseased portion of the intestine was successfully removed," said LDS spokesman Dale Bills in an official statement.
  • "It is anticipated that President Hinckley will recover rapidly and resume his normal duties."

Initial opinions by experts lean toward Colon Cancer; however, few details are actually known at this time:

The "routine screening" was clearly a colonoscopy, said Bill Nibley, an oncologist at Cottonwood and LDS hospitals. It is now quite common to remove these growths in a laparoscopic surgery, a less invasive procedure than full surgery. Laparoscopic surgery consists of smaller incisions and the use of tiny cameras to help guide the surgeon.
After the cancer cells are removed, the surgeon looks into the abdomen to determine visually if there are any other masses in the abdomen. Any suspicious growth would be evaluated by a pathologist.
But even if doctors did find the cancer had spread, it is unlikely that Hinckley would undergo the chemotherapy as a younger person might.
"At his age, you would have a tough time showing some kind of advantage in that treatment," Nibley said.
I will continue to post more as I find more. Where is the Deseret News on this story? They are woefully behind their competition at the Tribune, and most other news organizations carrying the story

Deseret News

KSL News

KSL News is also reporting the surgery as colon cancer surgery.

LDS Church Website

Fox News

China Post Taiwan

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Dad

Wendol M. Murray 1930~2006

I have interrupted my regular blogging over the last couple of weeks, because I have been attending to responsibilities following my Dad's recent death. In fact, he died the day of my last post, in the afternoon. This post, while out of the ordinary in what normally might appear here on Messenger and Advocate will be my final tribute to the man I called Dad. Since the thoughts about my Dad implicate and revolve around LDS issues and doctrine, I have no hesitation on posting them here. They are an expansion of remarks I made at his funeral services in Los Alamitos, CA (1/13/06), and Murray, UT (1/16/06).

Photo Courtesy Owen R. Murray

As I reflected on my Dad's passing from mortality into eternity, I was reminded of the Prophet Jacob's comments shortly before his own death, in the Book of Jacob, in the Book of Mormon:

[T]he time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream . . . .
As I pondered life with my Dad, I wondered where did the half century plus of years go that I came to know and love this man? Indeed it was as though my time with him passed away like as it were a dream. While I always knew this day would come, I could scarce believe its reality when it did.

My Dad taught me many, many things in life. I have over 50 years of priceless memories that I will cherish until we are one day reunited in another time and place. I want to just comment on three of the most important concepts or lessons he taught me over my lifetime. I tried to organize them in order of importance and found I was unable to do so, as they are inextricably intertwined one with another. So I post them on no particular order other than for sake of discussing and outlining them.


My father once described himself as having been raised in a religious home; however, he was not necessarily religious. He was set to marry his high school sweet heart, Carol (my mother) right after high school graduation. He went to get a Temple recommend, and his Bishop told him that as soon as he had fulfilled a mission for the Church he would be happy to give him a Temple recommend for marriage. My mother told Dad that she would be waiting, and sure enough, upon completion of an honorable mission to the British Isles in 1952 he and my mother were married for Time and all Eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple.

I recall on at least one occasion, my Dad told me in his youth, he never had much use for the Church. While he was not antagonistic, he was not yet really converted. This began to change upon completion of his mission to Great Britain. It also changed through the 53 years of marriage to my mother, who had the most profound influence on my Dad than any other mortal soul. By the end of his life, my Dad had served a full time mission, served in a bishopric as a counselor, and a Bishop, served on the Stake High Council, and also as a Temple Worker during the last five years of his life. By the end of his life, Dad was fully converted to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and lived its precepts.

His life was a powerful example to me of the critical importance of God and Church in a person's life, and the positive and important changes God and the Church can make in one' s life. Like my Dad, there was a time in my life while having been raised in a religious home, I was not religious. I was too intellectually mature to be bothered by religion. I was an intellectual want to be. God, Church and Commandments had no place in my life, because I knew better. I had more and better answers than those called to receive Revelations directly from the Source of all knowledge.

To this day I am eternally grateful to my Dad who through his example continued to show love, kindness, and respect to me during a rebellious phase of life that did not include Jesus Christ, or His Gospel restored. His continued commitment played no small role in my eventual "conversion" and return to Christ's Church. I let Christ and his Gospel Restored back into my life, which changed me forever.


My Dad was a life long professional educator. He began his career as a teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District, and retired as Principal of Millikan High School. He spent over 30 years in the service of faculty, staff and most importantly students. My Dad was an educated man, having obtained a Bachelor's Degree in History and Political Science from the University of Utah, a Master's Degree in History from Cal State University Long Beach, and his Doctorate in School Administration from Brigham Young University.

Following in his footsteps, I too completed a college education, and a professional degree, J.D. in law. While my Dad's temporal educational accomplishments were indeed impressive, it was the spiritual implications of his education that impressed me more. Most directly impacting my life was Jacob's teaching about education and the counsel of God:

28 O that cunning aplan of the evil one! O the bvainness, and the frailties, and the cfoolishness of men! When they are dlearned they think they are ewise, and they fhearken not unto the gcounsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their hwisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

29 But to be alearned is good if they bhearken unto the ccounsels of God.
My Dad exemplified this principle, which for many years I did not, until I learned from his example why it was true. In comparing my life with his, it was clear I thought I was wise; but, because I hearkened not unto God's counsel I was in fact foolish. It was my Dad's example of having become learned and hearkening unto God's counsel that produced true wisdom, from which I learned by example. One that likely saved my eternal soul.

We know from latter-day revelation and modern prophets, that:
36 The aglory of God is bintelligence, or, in other words, clight and truth.
We are also commanded:

118 And as all have not afaith, seek ye diligently and bteach one another words of cwisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best dbooks words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
One of the most comprehensive scriptural passages about education, learning, light and truth was revealed to man in 1833 by the Prophet Joseph:

23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is aSpirit, even the Spirit of truth;

24 And atruth is bknowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

25 And whatsoever is amore or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a bliar from the beginning.

26 The Spirit of atruth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He breceived a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;

27 And no man receiveth a afulness unless he keepeth his commandments.

28 He that akeepeth his commandments receiveth btruth and clight, until he is glorified in truth and dknoweth all things.

29 Man was also in the abeginning with God. bIntelligence, or the clight of dtruth, was not ecreated or made, neither indeed can be.

30 All truth is independent in that asphere in which God has placed it, to bact for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

31 Behold, here is the aagency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is bplainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the alight is under condemnation.

33 For man is aspirit. The elements are beternal, and cspirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

34 And when aseparated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
There was a time I was seduced by the world's argument that the primary object of learning was to get gain--to be a financial success by earthly standards. It was not until I observed my Dad's educational accomplishments and his own example, through the lens of latter-day revelation that I truly began to understand the critical, eternal and revealed importance of learning and education:
18 Whatever principle of aintelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the bresurrection.
19 And if a person gains more aknowledge and intelligence in this life through his bdiligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the cadvantage in the world to come.
We are placed here on earth to learn, even by study and by faith not so that we can make more money than our neighbor, but to prepare us for the worlds and life to come. We are commanded to learn, to obtain and act upon light and truth so that we will be better prepared to face Eternity and become like our Eternal Father and His Son.


Long before there was a Proclamation to the World about the family, I was taught and lived the principles contained therein as exemplified by my own mother and father, including but not limited to:

[M]arriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
I benefitted in my own life because my own mother and father embodied and taught these principles and concepts in my own life as I grew up in a Christ centered home. I hope I can do as well in my own life and family as a parent.

While I miss my Dad, I am comforted by the knowledge that there will come another time and place, not in this sphere, but in a more exalted sphere where I will have an opportunity to reunite with him again, and continue learning from his example. In the interim I will and do miss him already. Yet, I will continue to strive to live a life based on the examples which he taught me.

Death tries one's faith. It is much easier to speak about life eternal, and the Resurrection in the abstract. I have found it much more difficult when faced with the reality of the physical separation death brings in one's own life. Yet, while my Dad's death has tried my faith, it has not shaken it. I remain convinced that the principles upon which his life was based, and which he taught to me, are in fact true and eternal. I firmly believe that one day our entire family will once again be reunited to enjoy each other's association.

So to the man we call, Wendol, Dad, and Pupps, we all look forward to seeing you again. And till that happy occasion, may God bless and keep you in his care and work. I am certain you continue in your role as a teacher in the next life, utilizing your time and talents to their fullest as you did here on earth as a wonderful father and example to us all.

Below is a copy of my Dad's obituary as it essentially appeared in the Press-Telegram, Deseret News, and Salt Lake Tribune:

Wendol Maurice Murray 1930–2006, Long Beach, CA. Wendol Murray, 75, died peacefully on January 7, 2006 at his daughter’s home in Nipomo, CA . The fourth of four children, Wendol was born to Robert and Milda Murray on April 21, 1930, in Tooele, Utah. He graduated from Murray High School, where he played football for the Murray Spartans (Smelterites). He also met his life long sweetheart Carol (a cheerleader) at Murray High, whom he would later marry after serving an LDS mission to The British Isles. After serving his mission 1950 to 1952, Wendol and Carol were sealed September 10, 1952 for Time and all Eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple.

Wendol joined the United States Army in 1954. He completed basic training in California, and then spent 18 months in Germany, serving his country. Learning the importance of a good education on his mission, Wendol began his formal education at the University of Utah graduating with a BS in History and Political Science in 1958. He continued his education graduating with an M.A. in History from Cal State Long Beach in 1966. Wendol completed his formal education earning an EdD in School Administration from Brigham Young University in 1976.

Wendol was a life long educator serving as a counselor, teacher and an administrator at several schools throughout the Long Beach Unified School District including: Teacher at Lindberg Jr. High School, Counselor at Rogers Jr. High School, Instructor Long Beach City College; Vice Principal at Washington Jr. High, Poly High School; Principal at Newcomb Academy, Jefferson Jr. High, Hughes Jr. High and finishing his career as Principal at Millikan High School. After retirement, Wendol continued to substitute at various Long Beach Schools for several years.

As a life long member of the LDS Church, Wendol served in many capacities, including LDS Missionary, Bishopric Counselor, Stake High Council, Bishop and Temple Worker in the Los Angeles Temple. Wendol and Carol also served two years in China with the BYU Teacher’s Exchange Program.

Wendol is survived by his high school sweetheart, Carol; sons, Guy (Daphne) and Bryan (Kristine); daughter, Wendy (Brian); nine grandchildren; brother, Fenton; and sister, Myerta. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert; mother, Milda; and brother, Leo.

Services will be held January, 13 2006 at 11:00 a.m. at the LDS Long Beach East Stake Center located at 4142 Cerritos Avenue, Los Alamitos, CA. An additional service will be held on Monday, January 16, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. at Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Home located at 4760 S. State Street, Murray, UT. Friends and family may call from 10:00-10:45 a.m. prior to services. Interment will be at the Murray City Cemetery immediately following services at 5490 S. Vine Street, Murray, UT.

As a follow up article on my Dad's life, the Long Beach, Press-Telegram also published the following article on my Dad's life:

Murray left mark on LBUSD

Caryn Fugami, Staff writer

Time waits for no man. But love often will.

During the late 1940s, Wendol Murray, a center on his Utah high school football team, could not keep his focus entirely on the field and fell in love with Carol, a cheerleader. Plans to marry after high school were thwarted, however, when Murray was called on a mission to the British Isles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Murray dutifully went and when he returned two years later, Carol was there.

"She waited for him," son Guy Murray said. Wendol and Carol were married Sept. 10, 1952, in the Salt Lake City Temple, a marriage that thrived 53 years until Jan. 7, when Wendol Maurice Murray died in Nipomo near California's central coast, at his daughter's home. He was 75.

Born in Tooele, Utah, Murray served in Germany with the U.S. Army before enrolling at the University of Utah and earning a bachelor of science degree in history and political science in 1958. After being offered a teaching position at Lindbergh Junior High School, he moved his family to Long Beach, where they eventually bought a home in El Dorado Park Estates.

Murray soon transferred into administration to continue what would become a lifelong commitment to education in Long Beach schools that spanned more than three decades. His positions included counselor at Rogers Middle School; instructor at Long Beach City College; vice principal at Washington Middle School and Poly High; and principal at Newcomb Academy, Jefferson Middle School, Hughes Middle School and Millikan High. He retired in 1991 while at Millikan High.

Along the way, Murray continued his own education, receiving a master's degree in history at Cal State Long Beach and his doctorate in school administration from Brigham Young University in Utah.

"He was a legend," Don Keller, co-principal of Millikan High, said of Murray.

Keller recalls Murray's boss, Edward Eveland, referring to Murray as "the most dynamic principal" he knew.

"(Eveland) said he had vision and could implement change for the good. He was extremely bright, extremely organized, and had great interpersonal relationships with all he came into contact with. He was a true gentleman, and he was a hard worker."

Keller still remembers the time Murray fell off a fence, severely breaking his leg.

"That did not stop him," Keller said, "even though he was up in age. He cut off the leg to his pants and he came to work in a suit with his leg exposed with the different pins and screws and paraphernalia on his leg."

Despite the demands of his career, Murray persisted in his dedication to family and church. He and Carol, also an educator, taught English for two years at Shandong University in China as part of a BYU teacher's exchange program. Murray also served in the LDS Church, Los Angeles Temple in different capacities, including missionary, Bishopric Counselor, Stake High Council, Bishop and Temple Worker. And in his retirement years, Murray and his wife built a do-it-yourself cabin on property they owned in Brian Head, Utah.

"It was a family affair type of thing," Guy Murray said.

When asked what his father's legacy was, his son responded without hesitation.

"His legacy was his family his children, his grandchildren, his wife and his service to the community and church. … It's a difficult time, but we are certainly uplifted by his life and his memory, and the fact that he did so much for people that he enjoyed working with in the community and in education."

In addition to his wife, Carol, and son Guy, Murray is survived by his daughter, Wendy; and son, Bryan; brother, Fenton, and sister, Myerta; and nine grandchildren. Services were held Friday at the LDS Long Beach East Stake Center in Los Alamitos. An additional service will be held Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. at the Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Home, 4760 S. State St., Murray, Utah. Interment will be at the Murray City Cemetery.

Caryn Fugami can be reached at caryn.fugami@presstelegram.com or (562) 499-1337.
I am grateful for a life well lived, and examples well taught. In a very real way, my Dad's death has been a re-birth of my own life. So, Dad, till we meet again . . . a fondest farewell and God speed.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Church Of More Color

There is an interesting piece in today's Times Leader, a northeastern Pennsylvania newspaper about members of color in an otherwise white Church. It is tastefully done, informative, and deals with a delicate yet, I think very important subject. It is well worth the time to read the entire article. Some highlights:

The Church expanding in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods:

Donte Holland, a 30-year-old carpenter’s apprentice, joined the Mormon church in Philadelphia two years ago because it gave him “the fruits of the spirit. Peace. A good feeling inside.”

Holland and his wife, Rosalyn, are both black. The Mormon church is as white as its most famous members, Donny and Marie Osmond, and in Philadelphia, Eagles Coach Andy Reid. But for the last decade or so, the Mormons, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, have been expanding in city neighborhoods with large black and Spanish-speaking populations.

The Church's ethnic membership increases:

Recently, a new Mormon church building at Broad and Wyoming streets in Philadelphia held an open house with food and information about the church and about other topics, including medical care and financial planning. The Harlem and Philadelphia churches follow an earlier expansion in Detroit.

The church does not record members’ racial or ethnic backgrounds, but experts estimate that black Mormons number 5,000 to 10,000 in the United States, up from almost none 30 years ago.

The church says 130,000 people belong to its Spanish-speaking congregations, up from 92,600 in 1995.

The Broad and Wyoming location includes a Spanish-speaking service, and attendance at that has grown from 60 to about 110 since the new building opened earlier this year.

Growth tied to inner city work:

“There is a kind of changing face of the LDS church because of its continuing commitment to work in the inner cities,” said Melvyn Hammarberg, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the Mormons.

Despite past racial issues many Blacks call the Church home:

Despite the church’s history, several black members said only the Mormon church ever felt like home.

Ahmad S. Corbitt, who grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from John Bartram High School, got his Arab name from his parents, who were involved with the Nation of Islam and knew Malcolm X. The family later converted to the Methodist Church. But when Mormons knocked on his family’s door in South Jersey in 1980, “my mother felt a peaceful, spiritual feeling immediately.”

Black Church leadership a natural consequence:

After several years as a lawyer and public relations executive, he became director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs of the church. Last month, he became Stake President for the Church in South Jersey, a promotion roughly equivalent to becoming a bishop in the Catholic Church. Corbitt, 43, is one of a handful of black stake presidents in the United States.

At one of the new Philadelphia church’s first services, the crowd of about 100 people appeared to be about 30 percent black. The surrounding neighborhood is about 80 percent black.

There have been a growing number of media stories about Church growth in the inner city, including this one, from the New York Sun about recent Church growth in Harlem; or, this, from the Detroit Free Press. I think this is a sleeper issue with great future impact for the Church worldwide, as well as the United States. The most significant, is the very real likelihood of a member of color in the Quorum of the Twelve and other governing Priesthood quorums in the future.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Send In The Clowns . . .

Monday, January 02, 2006

Two Missionaries Shot--One Killed

This is a horrible story. Two Elders were shot in Chesapeake Monday night: One of them died. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families. See here, and here and here.

Salt Lake Tribune coverage.

More Tribune coverage.

Deseret News coverage.

More Deseret News coverage.

Police believe they may have found the gun used in these shootings.

God Bless their families.

Mormon Roots In San Bernardino

Today's Ontario Daily Bulletin has a very positive article on the Church and its role in founding San Bernardino. It's a good read, and I recommend reading the entire article here. Some exerpts on Temple marriage and who can attend:

Dozens of religious ceremonies take place at the Redlands California Temple any given week. On Friday, multiple wedding parties passed through, one after another.

The loved ones of the brides and grooms arrived and filed in, just as at any other wedding. But a ceremony at a Mormon temple is a more exclusive gathering than normal. Each guest had to present a small card to the elder at the front door, proving they had the right to attend. These cards say not only that the guest is a Latter-day Saint, but that the guest has lived a moral life and has the recommendation of church leaders to visit the temple. Religion is by its nature an inclusive thing, but the Mormon faith has more provisions to meet than other faiths. As a result, it has been viewed by many outsiders as cultish or bizarre.

On living correctly:

"We try to live correctly all the time, not just some of the time," said Richard Avery, a 74-year-old Mormon from Moreno Valley. "I'm not saying other people don't, but we all try to govern our lives as if it could all be over at any second."
On San Bernardino's Mormon heritage:

A Mormon colony was founded in San Bernardino in 1851. Brigham Young, then church president, was trying to establish Mormon refuges, and the climate and proximity to the coast made the Inland Empire an attractive locale.

The Rancho San Bernardino was purchased and the city of San Bernardino was incorporated in 1854. One of Young's disciples, Amasa M. Lyman, became the first mayor.

Young would eventually recall the Mormons back to Salt Lake City before the end of the decade, but the effects of the civilization on the area were lasting. The Cajon Pass was cut, and the lumber business was started in Crestline.

"The Mormons really opened up much of Southern California to the east," said Kasey Haws, one of the counselors for the Redlands temple of the church.

California today is now home to some 800,000 Latter-day Saints. Utah is the only state with more.

On Temple work for the dead:

And when someone is baptized within the Mormon church, Connell said the opportunity is there to redeem the souls of ancestors who were not part of the faith. The ceremonies are called sealings within the church because they are actions with ramifications extending into eternity and well beyond the reaches of this earthly existence.

"We connect through antiquity to our ancestors, and allow a proxy sealing for them as well," Connell said.

That permanence, in this world and the next, is why members of the church so desire the blessing of their elders on the events in their lives.

Nice article.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

A recent Salt Lake Tribune article marked the end of the Main Street legal battle between the Church and the ACLU:

The long, strange journey that was the Main Street Plaza battle effectively ends today, dropping the curtain on a seven-year drama over whether a chunk of Salt Lake City's Main Street should be an LDS Church-owned park.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday it will forgo appealing its First Amendment case to the nation's highest court. The organization, in essence, had until today to file, but found no stomach for it among its national and Utah attorneys working on the case.

"We ultimately decided it was not in the best interest of the plaintiffs, the public, the ACLU or the important principles involved to trouble the U.S. Supreme Court with an appeal," said Dani Eyer, executive director of the ACLU's Utah chapter. "We did notify all the plaintiffs. Nobody was inclined to pressure us or hire someone else."

That means the Main Street Plaza between North Temple and South Temple will remain under LDS Church control with bans on protesting, smoking, sunbathing, bicycling and other "offensive, indecent, obscene, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct."
I'm curious whether the ACLU also felt ultimately it was not in the best interest of the Church not to pursue an appeal. Are they part of the important principles involved in this equation? If so, they didn't bother to name them specifically in their press release. By the way, just how horrible is it that the Main Street Plaza between North and South Temple should remain free of offensive, indecent, obscene, lewd, or disorderly speech, dress or conduct?

At the literal crossroad of church and state, the plaza became the symbol for all battles between the traditional power of the LDS Church in Utah and the ever-increasing religious diversity of the state.

It was, as Eyer puts it, the stuff of democracy. And city officials, Latter-day Saints, even the ACLU say it was worth it. They hope lessons were learned - about civics, about the need to include the public in government decisions, about the obligation to address a simmering religious divide.
This is probably a fair conclusion. The debate was interesting; however, I'm not convinced it was the symbol for all battles between an all powerful LDS Church, which was somehow insensitive to the "ever-increasing religious diversity" in Utah. The Church, if anything goes out of its way to be sensitive to this increasing religious diversity. It would be nice to see just a little more reciprocal sensitivity from the other diverse religious movements toward the Church, particularly around General Conference time. The Tribune article is a good read for the background of the dispute and its ultimate resolution.