Sunday, April 30, 2006

4000 And Counting

Update: The Deseret News also had a nice write up on this milestone here. I had heard about this; but, with my weekend's scouting activities, I forgot to watch the Tabernacle Choir's 4,000th broadcast this morning. From KSL's write up it was acknowledged all the way to Washington D.C. Congratulations to the Choir and all those behind the scenes that make the weekly broadcast possible:

And now, I'm honored to announce your next performance 'Come, Come, Ye Saints'..."

President Bush became part of a historic moment here in Utah as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrated its 4,000 broadcast this morning.

"Music and the Spoken Word' is the longest running program on nationwide network radio -- KSL-TV has aired it for 40 years.

"From the crossroads of the west, we welcome you to temple square in salt lake city for the 4,000 broadcast of 'Music and the Spoken Word' "

The group known as America's choir passed a broadcasting landmark that began July 15th, 1929...

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord..."

Pres. Bush: "You have brought music and inspiration to generations of Americans and I wish you continued success in the future...."

360 voices and many behind-the-scenes for 77 years.

Craig Jessop, Music Director, Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "It represents the collective efforts of thousands: of singers, directors, organists... It's really quite a remarkable legacy to be a part of."

The spoken word represents, to many, an inspiring non-denominational message first given by Elder Richard L. Evans, then Spence Kinard and how Lloyd Newell.

It was an historic day for members of the choir, their President calls them an army of volunteers. Their church leaders call them musical missionaries.

Brian Roberts, Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "I'll bump into people and if I have my bag with me and it says 'Mormon Tabernacle Choir' on it, and they'll go,'Oh, you're with the choir?! I love the choir, they're so wonderful!' "

When the choir travels, 'Music and the Spoken Word' has originated from worldwide locations, London, Geneva, Barcelona...loved by audiences abroad and at home.

Emmaline Johnson, Midvale, Utah: "Sunday mornings I look forward to listening to it and it kind of gives you a calmness and something we don't get everyday..."

Bruce Reese, CEO, Bonneville International Corp.: "Music and the Spoken Word' draws bigger audiences in its rated TV markets than any other devotional program..."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Governor of Utah: "I express my heartfelt appreciation for the way in which all involved with 'music and the spoke word' represent the state so prominently and so proudly throughout the world."

The audience recognized President Gordon B. Hinckley, the choir's advisor for 35 years.

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley: "All of you who serve in any way in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accept of our thanks, of our gratitude, of our appreciation and of our blessing."

President Hinckley told them to continue, always improving the quality of their performances.

It takes about 19 years to do 1-thousand weekly broadcasts, so, that means the choir will celebrate its 5-thousandth performance of 'Music and the Spoken Word' in the year 2025.
It seems as though the Choir is one of those Mormon Icons that almost always brings a positive response. How refreshing in today's climate! Hope we're all around for their 5,000th program!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

LDS Almost March To Protest Religious Bigotry

From today's Daily Herald, a story about a group of LDS protestors about to march in opposition to religious bigotry over questioning of movie goers outside a showing of Richard Dutcher's States of Grace. If you can believe this the theater owners instructed employees to caution movie viewers that the film was not a "Christian" film; but, it was a "Mormon" film--further evidence of continuing religious bigotry and hatred by our so-called "Christian" brothers and sisters:

Signs on sticks, marching, chanting.

"Grace is for Mormons, too."

"Mormons (heart) Jesus, too."

"Mormons are Christians, too."

About two dozen members of the LDS faith, some from as far away as Utah and Texas, had planned to spend their Wednesday evening protesting outside the Horton Plaza 14 Theater in San Diego. The protest targeted what the members say is discrimination against the LDS Church and the movie "States of Grace," which is playing at the theater.

The story started on Monday. Armand Mauss and his wife drove 85 miles to see "States of Grace" at the theater because it wasn't playing where they lived.

Mauss walked up to the ticket counter and asked for two tickets.

"Are you Christian?" the girl at the ticket counter asked.

Mauss was surprised but responded in the affirmative. It was her next statement that surprised him.

"She responded, 'Well you need to know that this film, it's being advertised as a Christian film, but it's really a Mormon film.' "

From further questions, Mauss learned that the theater's supervisors had told their employees to "warn" ticket buyers about the film. They had complaints from people upset because the movie wasn't what they expected.

"I asked (movie theater employees) if it was a Catholic film, would you say, this isn't a Christian film, it's a Catholic film?" Mauss said.

Can you imagine the outcry from the gay community if theater owners instructed employees to ask movie goers what they thought of gay cowboys, prior to a showing of Brokeback Mountain? People thought it outrageous when Larry Miller made the decision he wouldn't show the film at all; but, at least he didn't pull what went on here in San Diego.

Apparently Richard Dutcher stepped in at the last minute asking the LDS protesters not to picket the theater:

It was a phone call from Dutcher on Wednesday telling them to not make a scene and to put the brakes on the protest outside the theater.

"I was kind of riled up and everyone else was kind of riled up," said Steven Greenstreet of "This Divided State" fame. "But I guess that's kind of the point of the protest -- I guess the way we were approaching it wasn't the most Christian way. We decided it would look better to turn the other cheek."

They still went to the theater, but with fewer signs and a smaller group to talk to California media . . .

A big fan of Dutcher, Greenstreet took off to San Diego immediately after hearing the story to protest with others who were upset over the separation between Mormons and Christianity.

He spent his Wednesday calling people and making the signs. He was excited, and ready to be peaceful, saying before the protest that if anyone asked the group to leave, they would.

However, at 6 p.m., thirty minutes before the protest, Dutcher called. The filmmaker told protesters that he would handle business with the theater privately.

Dutcher's approach was likely the more "Christian" approach to diffuse this situation; but, I am irritated by the religious bigotry and intolerance of many of our so called "Chrisitan" brothers and sisters when it comes to LDS views and practices. We need the equivalent of a Mormon Anti-Defamation League.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gallop Survey Says Mormons Strong On Meeting Attendance

A recent Gallop survey noted that Mormons, among others, are significantly above others in church attendance. You have to subscribe to read directly from the Gallop website; but, they do share this much:

A special Gallup analysis shows that Mormons, evangelical Protestant groups, and Baptists are significantly above average in their self-reported church attendance, while Jews and Episcopalians are significantly below average. Catholics and members of mainline Protestant denominations other than Episcopalians attend church at about average rates.

Also, from World Magazine:

Members of the Church of Christ and Mormons came out on top in a Gallup analysis of worship attendance between 2002 and 2005, with Episcopalians near the bottom. Percentage of members who attended services weekly or almost weekly, by denomination or group: Church of Christ, 68; Mormon, 67; Pentecostal, 65; Southern Baptist, 60; nondenominational, 54; Catholic, 45; Methodist, 44; Presbyterian, 44; Lutheran, 43; Episcopal, 32; Jewish, 15.
Not bad at 67%. I'd be curious to read the Gallop question to know how they defined regular church attendance, and how they factored into their analysis the three hour block, etc. etc.

Welcome To annegb's Just Sayin'--A New 'Nacle Blog

Welcome to annegb over at Just Sayin'. Everyone and anyone who reads most any of the blogs in the 'Nacle have seen comments from one of the most popular if not the most popular commentor, annegb. Well, she has also begun bloggin' in ernest over at her own site now, Just Sayin'. Please drop by and say howdy, and also welcome her as one of the 'Nacle's newest bloggers. She has some pretty interesting personal history up now, and her posts are as fascinating as her comments. Her photo is pretty cool too! Welcome annegb!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Resurrection's Reality

Christ's Resurrection has no more powerful reality than that testified to by the Spirit; however, it is a matter of historical fact that thousands literally saw the Resurrected Christ. Many of those thousands physically thrust their hands in His side, and felt the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet. Some even break bread and ate with the Savior of the world after rising from the dead. Listed below (with great thanks to Elder Talmadge's Jesus the Christ) are some of those who so testified from personal knowledge.

1. Mary Magdalene, near the sepulcher (Mark 16:9-10; John 20:14) 1 person

2. The two Marys, somewhere between the sepulcher and Jerusalem (Matt 28:9) 2 people

3. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13) 2 people

4. Peter, the apostles and others in or near Jerusalem (Luke 24:36; John 20:19) 13 persons

5. The eleven apostles and others at Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; John 20:26) 12 people

6. The apostles at the Sea of Tiberias, Galilee (John 21) 11 people

7. The eleven apostles on a mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:16) 11 people

8. Five hundred brethren at once (1 Cor. 15:6) 500 people

9. To James, the other 10, and Paul (1 Cor. 15:7) 12 people

10. The eleven apostles at the time of the ascension, Mount of Olives (Mark:16:19; Luke 24:50-51) 11 people

11. A great multitude of the Nephites (3 Nephi 11:8) 2500 people

12. Spring 1820 Joseph Smith (Joseph Smith 1:5-26) 1 person

13. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon February 16, 1832 (D & C 76:11-24) 2 people

14. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey April 3, 1836 (D & C 110:1-11) 2 people

Approximately 3079 personally saw and bear record of the reality of Christ's Resurrection. And, though I am not numbered with them, never have I personally felt the reality of Christ's Resurrection greater than I have at this time in my life. May the blessings of Easter's message of Hope, Renewal, Revival, and Resurrection be with us always.

That We Always Remember HIM

Some 2000 years ago today, He Atoned for our sins, that we might all live. Thank You!

May we be willing to take His name upon us; that we will always remember Him, and keep His commandments, that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Pope Comes Out Swinging

Pope Benedict XVI, as part of his Good Friday message has come out swinging against modern culture. Ruth Gledhill of the London Times Blog, Articles of Faith has a great post on this timely message. I love the title, taken from the remarks: Inane Apologia of Evil. It grabs the attention.

Some of the more memorable critiques of our modern culture include:
'Lord, we have lost our sense of sin! Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolour freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication. Lord Jesus, open our eyes: Let us see the filth around us and recognise it for what it is, so that a single tear of sorrow can restore us to purity of heart and the breath of true freedom.'

'Lord Jesus, our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society's incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness.'

'Surely God is deeply pained by the attack on the family. Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family. There is a move to reinvent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God.'

'Lord Jesus, purity has everywhere fallen victim to a calculated conspiracy of silence: an impure silence! People have even come to believe a complete lie: that purity is somehow the enemy of love.'

This is good stuff, and could have (and in fact has in one form or another) come directly across the pulpit at General Conference. Good for the Pope! I like this guy. I wonder if he's read the Book of Mormon, or the Family Proclamation. This is a message, like so many others that will not be well received by the world at large as it wallows away it its own sewer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gay Protesters Disrupt BYU Provo Campus

Soulforce, a "so called" group touting "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political, oppression through the practice of relentless non violent resistence" purposefully and illegally demonstrated on BYU Campus on Monday, April 10, 2006:
"We really feel that these students don't understand our message," said Jacob Reitan, 23, co-director of the Equality Ride. "They have gross misconceptions about what it means to be gay, what gay and lesbian people are seeking in this country. We need to address those misconceptions."

Though Monday evening's rally was held off campus, Reitan and other Soulforce members took that message on to BYU's grounds earlier in the day. That visit resulted in five people — including Reitan — being escorted off campus by BYU police.

Reitan said he could not reach an agreement with BYU officials that would let him give a speech on campus, so he did so without their permission. The result, he said, was being arrested.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the Soulforce members were issued citations for trespassing and transported back to their hotel. No handcuffs were used, she said.
Soulforce had followed the rules, obtained the proper permits, and apparently acted appropriately to be able to hold a rally off campus at Kiwanis Park ; however, when it came to respecting the rights of 30,000 BYU students, as well as faculty and staff, they decided to break the rules, break the law, and unlawfully demonstrate on BYU and Church property. As a result, five Soulforce members had to be escorted off campus by BYU police:

Five gay activists were peacefully escorted from Brigham Young University's campus Monday after raising a mild ruckus in front of a gathering of students.

The five are members of Soulforce, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group. BYU police loaded them into a van after the demonstrators yelled to a campus crowd that policies of the LDS Church, BYU's owner, were killing gays.

"They made us aware of their intentions, and we told them it would go directly against our policy,” said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. “The officers approached them and asked them to stop and asked them to leave.”
When they did not, they were escorted off campus, placed under arrest, cited for trespassing and delivered to their hotel, said Jacob Reitan, one of the five. Other members of the group, which totaled 33, were allowed to remain and meet with students.
Just how is it that BYU and the Church have
gross misconceptions about what it means to be gay, and what gay and lesbian people are seeking in this country? Why is it not the case that it is Soulforce, and its own membership who are the ones who have the gross misconceptions about what it means to be gay? Just over a week ago, a living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ delivered a message of truth and light about this lifestyle in a talk entitled "I Will Remember Your Sins No More:"

It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way. Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addiction, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to escape from their influence.

Some are led by curiosity into temptation, then into experimentation, and some become trapped in addiction. They lose hope. The adversary harvests his crop and binds them down.

Satan is the deceiver, the destroyer, but his is a temporary victory.

The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot escape and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven. That cannot be true. They have forgotten the Atonement of Christ.

"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him" (D&C 18:11).

Christ is the Creator, the Healer. What He made, He can fix. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness (see 2 Nephi 1:13; 2 Nephi 9:45; Jacob 3:11; Alma 26:13–14; Moroni 7:17–19).

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10).

The account of this loving father and a wayward son, drawn from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is a type, a pattern, an example.

Each of us has a loving Father in Heaven. Through the Father's redeeming plan, those who may stumble and fall "are not cast off forever" (Book of Mormon title page).

"And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" (D&C 18:13).

"The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless" (D&C 1:31–32), the Lord said, "he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42).

To me, the key to the Truth about being "gay and lesbian, or gender confused" is the Atonement of Christ. As Elder Packer pointed out, those who proclaim (like this Soulforce group) they are born into a certain lifestyle, and cannot change, deny the efficacy of Christ's Atonement. They deny the power of Christ to bring change into any life, into which He is invited. They are deceived into the belief that they are born into this lifestyle; that they have no choice, and cannot change. In reality, those are the gross misconceptions about what it means to be gay. And, those are the misconceptions that Elder Packer addressed to all people everywhere.

I was very pleased to read in the press accounts the only un Christian conduct was exhibited by some of Soulforce's members, and not BYU students. There was some discussion over at T & S about BYU students treating the protest group with kindness and love. It appears that was how they were treated, even while they were breaking the law and being escorted off campus.

I suppose it was just too much to ask that the Soulforce folks follow the rules, and obey the law. They have taken upon themselves the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi. They have wrapped themselves in the fabric of the true civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's, trying to make people believe their cause is just like that of racial equality and the earlier "freedom riders" who were engaged in the early civil rights struggles in this country. That too is simply another falsehood, meant to obfuscate rather than educate.

Other press coverage:

Provo Daily Herald

ABC Channel 4 News

Pink News

KUTV Channel 2 News

BYU's Daily News (About 3 min. 25 seconds into the newscast--well done)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Elder Russell M. Nelson Remarries

Update 4/10/06--A photo of the happy couple, I found over at BYU Newsnet.

Elder Nelson and Wendy L. Watson were married 4/6/06 in the Salt Lake City Temple:

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Wendy L. Watson were married today in the Salt Lake Temple. This is the second marriage for Elder Nelson and the first for Wendy Watson.

Elder Nelson's previous marriage was to Dantzel White Nelson, who died 12 February 2005. Their family includes 10 children, 56 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Ordained an Apostle on 12 April 1984, Elder Nelson received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Utah and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. A renowned surgeon and medical researcher, Elder Nelson served as the former president of the Society for Vascular Surgery and also as former chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association.

Wendy L. Watson, originally of Raymond, Alberta, Canada, is the daughter of the late Leonard David and Laura McLean Watson. She is a professor of marriage and family therapy in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University (BYU) and will retire 1 May 2006. She received her R.N. in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, her B.A. from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, her M.Sc. from BYU, and her Ph.D. from the University of Calgary. She served as chair of BYU Womens Conference for 1999 and 2000, and is the author of several books and addresses recorded on CD, including Rock Solid Relationships and Things Are Not Always as They Appear.
Best to them both!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

176th Annual LDS General Conference Sunday Afternoon Session

1:00 p.m. James Faust, Second Counselor First Presidency conducted. This is the fifth and final session of conference this afternoon.

1:03 p.m. The choir opened with Sing Praises to Him

Invocation Lance B. Whitman, Quorum of the Seventy

1:09 p.m. Choir sings Jesus Lover of My Soul

1:13 p.m. M. Russel Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Had bilateral knee surgery a few weeks ago. (I'm amazed he can stand). He better appreciates the pain Christ endured as a result of the Atonement. We have been given much because of Joseph Smith. Restoration taught that there are eternal truths outside the Bible. Without restoration no valid Priesthood ordinances, or constant Holy Ghost companionship. We experience a mighty change in our hearts. We sing the song of reedeming love.

Many Missionaries enter MTC with well read and worn copies of Preach My Gospel. Missionaries now need more people to teach. Better teaching results when members participate in the process.

Christ showed way, when he showed his disciples where he dwelt. He was teaching, when he invited them to visit with him. Our homes can also be gospel sharing homes. People who visit can experience gospel first hand. This will bless others who come to our home, and also us who live in that home. Our understanding of gospel will improve.

Gospel sharing home we pray for guidance for ourselves and well being of others. In Alma's time they prayer for investigators of gospel.

Gospel sharing home are ordinary homes--not perfect. It is where family members love each other.

It is not, a program, but a way of life. Friends will come naturally into our lives this way. Friends will accept that this is part of who we are, and will feel free to ask questions. We pray for all missionaries, including our own.

Many join church from experiences of those who go to gospel sharing homes. Church DVD's are a tool. Nothing more effective than for us to say to our friends to come and participate in sacrament meeting.

1:31 p.m. Richard G. Scott, Quorum of the Twelve Preach My Gospel important manual. Better overall missionary work results. Process begins in the home long before missionary age to prepare a young man for a mission. Talk about when he or she goes, not if. In the home the armor of truth is tailor fit to each child.

In the home a girl can learn her primary role is to be a wife and mother. They can also serve as missionaries full time too, if they follow the First Presidency guidelines. They are not to be pressured and not to interfere with marriage prospects. Parents also use Preach My Gospel in the home. It can help young women to prepare to be a wife and mother.

Over a million copies distributed of Preach My Gospel. His own daughter served a good mission is Spain, upon the prompting of her bishop.

There is an urgent need for full time couple missionaries. His own mission meant a great deal to him personally. He grew up in a part member family. As a young man he didn't have any way to judge the importance of a full time mission. He served in Uruguay (yea . . . mine too!)
He learned esssential doctrines, what it meant to be guided by spirit. He became converted in essence. His prayers were answered to be a better missionary. All that he holds dear in life began to mature in the mission field.

He would not have had his professional opportunities without his mission experiences. His life has been blessed beyone measure because he served a full time mission. He wants to motivate young men to serve a full time mission, as well as older couples, and some young women as well.

You will never regret serving a mission; but, will most likely regret not serving if that is your ultimate choice. Full time missionary service is a great blessing.

1:49 p.m. David R. Stone Quorum of the Seventy. How useful to have an early warning system to warn us of upcoming evil. We see Babylon now everywhere; yet, we need to create Zion in its midst (though I have always thought they cannot co-exist). We are surrounded by the waves of idolatry today.

Ancient Israel forgot the Lord who led them out of Egypt. As today, we forget God because of our modern day culture. Customs acceptable in one, are not in another--same with language. Self satisfied, self deception--good quote for people moving about in their own little worlds.

Too often we are like puppets on a string, as the culture determines what is "cool." But, we should pay attention to the culture of the people of God--the Royal Priesthood.

We can create Zion by limiting the extent Babylon will have on our lives. Seduced by our culture, we hardly recognize our idolatry. (very good and timely quote--Hugh Nibley would very much agree). We can create a Zion in the midst of Babylon. We can and should create our own standards.

We can live a Zion life if we want to; however, the waves of Babylon beat incessantly on our shores. Most of Babylon is evil, and we won't have any early warning system. Zion is the city of God. Babylon is the city of the world. Zion is the pure in heart, regardless of physical location.

2:02 p.m. Choir and congregation sing How Firm a Foundation (another 7th inning stretch!)

2:04 Robert S. Wood Quorum of the Seventy Voices are growing ever more strident. God has warned us that Satan would stir up people's heart to anger. Deluded and wicked men in Book of Mormon stir up men and women to anger. The time of Christ's birth and second comming will be days of vengance.

Be aware of those who stir us up to anger so that calm reflection and thought are lost. Andrew Jackson said, elevate your guns a little lower. Many of us need to do the same. We need to raise the level of public and private discourse. We need to uphold wise, honest, and good men and women--wherever they are found. Culture of slander, stereotyping. Spirit of mocking of those with whom we disagree, are those who occupy the large and spacious building. There are mockers in the last times who walk after their own ungodly lust.

Cynicisim closely related to mockery. Display disblief in sincerity.

When your polictics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethern, you are on dangerous ground. It is not our duty to find fault in others. But, in kindness and love we help them find truth that God has revealed in latter days.

We cannot be caught up in a world that takes and gives offense. We should rejoice in the truth, and the pure love of Christ, which we represent. President Hinckley has counseled that we may give opinions; but, to have hatred or ill will as a result of political differences.

2:17 p.m. H. Bruce Stucki Quorum of the Seventy. Related story of Christmas gift of bow and arrow, and taking it out to hunt rabbits. The arrow missed the rabbit. He looked all around but could not find his arrow. The sun was setting and didn't want to be late for home, breaking a promise to his mother. He prayed that he not lose his new arrow. While still on his knees he opened his eyes and found his arrow, which he grabbed and ran for home arriving before dark. God had answered his prayer.

Prayer is a two way communication. It is one of the stepping stones on the path leading to eternal life. Faith is another stepping stone that is critical. The veil between this and the next is very thin. No better time than now to begin to follow the counsel to "pray always"

The family third stepping stone to lead us back to God. The family is by divine origin. Family is the unit and vehicle to be sealed and return to our heavenly parents.

2:30 p.m. Joseph B. Wirthlin, Quorum of the Twelve. Snowman the horse, eight when bought, and badly treated. Harry let Snowman jump, and entered him into a formal competition. He won the competition and was an example of hidden untapped potential hidden within each of us.

The happiest people he knows, who have abundant lives have certain characteristics:

1. Drink deeply of living waters--Christ and his words. The gospel is not a religion of boring and gloom. It is a gospel of wings. Do we wish to partake of this living water? Forsake our weaknesses, and drink deeply of the living waters of Jesus Christ.

2. Fill our hearts with love. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Serve others. We are all busy; but let's not be too busy for shallow lives. We are happiest when our lives are connected to others.

3. With God's help create masterpiece of their own lives. Love God with all our hearts, might, mind and strength.

The abundant life does not come packaged and ready made. It comes through faith, hope, and charity. It is a magnificant journey beggining a long time ago, and will never end. This life just one step in our search for abundant life and eternity. Abundant life within our reach.

2:47 p.m. James E. Faust expresses thanks for all who participated during conference, including all choirs.

2:48 p.m. President Hinckley, Prophet, Seer Revelator. Music magnificent, and talks inspired during this conference session. They have confirmed our faith. As we return to our homes and lives, let us remember the counsel we have received. May we live together as husbands and wives, and children. God Bless you by beloved brothers and sisters. May heaven's blessings rest upon you.

2:50 p.m. Choir sings Abide With Me Tis Even Tide

2:55 p.m. Benediction

176th Annual LDS General Conference Sunday Morning Session

9:00 a.m. Choir opens with Rejoice the Lord is King. More beautiful shots of the conference center outside as conference begins. It looks very spring out there.

9:01 a.m. President Monson conducting.

9:03 a.m. Choir performs He Sent His Son--The choir really sets the Spirit for these conferences, from their introductory music to the main musical numbers throughout the conference. They truly are an American Classic.

9:06 a.m. Invocation H. Brian Richards Quorum of the Seventy

9:10 a.m. Choir performs I Stand All Amazed--great color contrast again in the choir with the women all in red and the men in black (wait . . .wasn't that a movie once?) Singing this particular hymn makes me think of a huge sacrament meeting. Which brings up the question, why not do a huge sacrament meeting at conference? Perhaps the logistics are too difficult with 25,000 plus in attendance. Just a thought.

9:15 a.m. James E. Faust, Second Counselor First Presidency. We care about all of God's children, whether alive or dead, regardless of religious belief or nationality (more on the diversity theme here . .this is good). President Oaks quoted about the fact we have differences with other Christian Churches which is why we send missionaries and build temples.

Faust to speak of Fullness of Gospel. He begins with the apostasy. Quoting Paul, there must come a falling away first. With it came a loss of priesthood keys, baptism by immersion, Godhead three distinct personages, all mankind to be resurrected, temple work for living and dead, continuing revelation.

Peter spoke of a restitution. In the centuries following, many Christians recognized the apostasy. Reformers saw this, and played an important role. John Lathrop, from who Joseph Smith descended, recognized no apostolic keys on the earth. He was imprisoned for his belief. (sound familiar?) Roger Williams founded Rhode Island--no regularly constituted Church on the earth. There won't be until Church reconstituted or restored.

Apostle John saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven with the fullness of the Gospel. In restored Church we now have apostles and prophets. Priesthood, MP and AP restored. AP May 15, 1829 by John the Baptist. MP restored by Peter, James, and John a month later was restored.

April 3, 1836 Moses appeared gave keys to Joseph Smith, for gathering of Israel, Elias and Elijah followed appearing in the Kirtland Temple, all presenting their keys to the Prophet Joseph to restore all things in the last days. Tithing and offerings also restored.

Temple worship restored. Temple very much a part of Christ's life while on earth. Temples important now in LDS belief and theology. The most sacred work is performed in them. We received the solemn answers of life in the Temple. We came from God's presence and prepare to return to His presence. We make covenants in the Temple and are sealed with Priesthood authority.

Apostle John discussed those in White robes. God's work to bring to pass and immortality of mankind. All will hear Gospel in this or the next life. Paul saw baptism for the dead in Corinthians. No person's choice or agency is taken away. The dead may accept of reject these ordinances as they wish.

Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph, and directed him to the golden plates, resulting in the Book of Mormon's publication. It is another testament of Jesus Christ, and has restored doctrines of the fall, resurrection, and others. Heavens have been opened once again.

Doctrine and Covenants, contains further insights about principles and ordinances and structure of Priesthood. Pearl of Great Price, with Moses and Book of Abraham. We learn about these prophets as well as the creation. Gospel has been taught since Adam's time. This Church is the restoration of Christ's early church, founded on apostles and prophets. We are not a break off of any Church. But we are NOT to feel superior to any other person or church.

We believe the great religious leaders, and great philosophers all received a portion of God's light to enlighten whole nations and individuals. Thus we have respect for religious belief of others, and request the same from them.

Testifies of restoration, and its truth and importance today.

9:30 a.m. Jeffery R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve. Blessed are the poor in spirit--for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those whose lives are broken, to those he speaks. Christ said, come unto me, all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.

Come unto me is crucial part of this invitation. Christ told his early disciples to "come follow me" It is clear that our duty and our requirement is captured in this phrase. He says, trust me, do what I do. If we follow Christ, he will lead us out of darkness. He will give us peace. There is no other way for us to find peace and happiness.

How do we come unto Christ? Scriptures give examples. Most basic form of faith, just desire with our hearts, i.e., Alma Chapter 32 discourse shows what is enough to begin. Just hope, for things not scene in our lives, but which are truly there. That simple step, will always the first principle of His eternal gospel.

Second, we must repent. We must change that what needs to be changed. Repentance the most hopeful word in Christianity. Anything we can change we much change--then forgive the rest.

Third, in as many ways as possible, we take upon us His identity, including His name. Start with Baptism and conclude with Temple Covenants. Taking the sacrament we renew these covenants. Follow the Son, take upon you Christ's name. Following these teachings, prayer, fasting, scripture savoring, love with pure love of Christ, which never fails. All will take and lead us to Christ. He is anxiously trying to reach us.

All of us can and should have straight forward experience with Christ. Are we battling addictions of tobacco, pornography, gender identity issues, disease, depression, death? Come first to Christ. Trust in His promises. Whoever trusts God will be supported in their troubles and afflictions.

Christ's Atonement can and will lift us. Christ will not turn his back on us know. He means that He knows the way out and up--because He has walked it, and He is the way. What ever our distress, don't give up--don't give into fear. Be not afraid, only believe. Only when Peter began to doubt did he sink.

Christ is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment. Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt--Christ to Peter. If we are broken we can be mended. (Very powerful spirit in Elder Holland's discourse). May all of us come unto Him and be made whole.

9:46 a.m. Earl C. Tingey Presidency of Seventy. Why not speak of the Atonement. The great plan of happiness is the Atonement. Each of us will die. Is there any happiness in death? Atonement rescues us from death.

1. Knowledge of plan of salvation means there is a God and Christ. This confirmed by Joseph's experience in the sacred grove.

2. Knowing Father and Son, helps us know we are on earth for a body, experience, and to eventually to return to God. We will sin and we will and do need to repent. The Savior can remove the rocks of sin from our lives.

3. Through Atonement we can overcome sin and become clean again. This is by eternal law of mercy. Without Atonement and repentance, then we are all subject to law of justice. Mercy cannot rob justice. Mercy can satisfy justice, but there must be repentance and acceptance of Christ. Adam and Eve transgressed the law and were cast out of the garden. My eyes are opened said Adam, as did Eve. But not for our transgression we would not have had increase and knowledge

4. Adam and Eve's fall brought two deaths--Spiritual and physical. Spiritual death is separation from God's presence. We are currently all in spiritual death, in that we are separated from God. Christ's Atonement overcame both deaths. Resurrection is universal, applying to entire human family. This is an unconditional gift from God. But it doesn't overcome the second death, which requires repentance. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. Our same spirit will

5. Christ was born of earthly mother Mary. He inherited her capacity for death. From God He inherited immorality. Christ condescended to come to earth, to be tempted, tried, mocked and crucified. He had power to prevent all these things, but chose not to. Christ descended below all things, to raise other above all things.

Atonement means to restore, or to come back. It reunites families, and families to God. If we understand the plan of happiness then we should follow it. What happens in the world will NOT determine our happiness.

9:58 a.m. Choir and congregation sing Reedemer of Israel (7th inning stretch folks . . get up and walk around!)

10:01Anne C. Pingree Second Counselor Relief Society. Accompanied Sister missionaries to home of a non member. Helaman sons, Nephi and Lehi after forebearers. We must all grow up unto the Lord. Maturing spiritually will only happen after we choose to put away childish things. We put away childish things as we become more Christ like. Those who are baptized are those who take upon themselves Christ's name. Service to others required for those who want to grow up unto the Lord.

Relation of stories of true service. Discussion of visiting teaching message, examples of service. Heats knit together in unity of love.

Besides service, our willingness to press forward in faith shows our willingness to grow up unto the Lord. Example was Nephi building a ship, even though he probably didn't know what to do. Nephi's response, though, was what do I do to make the tools--not, are you crazy--I can't build a ship? God will provide the means to accomplish His means. Nephi looked for a solution. He knew God would help him accomplish what He commanded.

When told her mission called had been changed to Africa, her response--I can do that. This willingness showed her wanting to grow up unto the Lord. Challenges may be formidable and the route unknown--but if we will press forward in faith, we can and will succeed.

10:13 a.m. Elder Dallin Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve. Book of Mormon challenge allowed many to grow, and learn. What was learned depends on the reader. It depends on how in tune we were. He learns how much God loves His children in all nations. (more on the diversity there here--good.)

Book of Mormon on Atonement

The Atonement prepared from foundation of the world for all mankind

All men are redeemed

Salvation given free to all men. None are forbidden.

His blood atones for all who have sinned, and for little children.

This contradicts view that Christ's grace is only for a few. It is, in fact for all. Christ invites children of all men to come unto Him--2 Nephi.

Christ also invites both Bond and Free. Bond includes those addicted to substance or practice, or held down by custom or tradition contrary to God's commandments. We preach to liberate the captives--Joseph Smith.

All are alike unto God. God will manifest himself to all who believe in Christ. These promises of manifestation to all nations, kindreds, and people. This includes those who are not Christian, or have not been Christian. Some in Russia are seeking out Gospel. Some in India also seeking out Christ and Gospel. Woman in Thailand met missionaries, and confirmed her feelings toward God.

Only 5% of Cambodian's Christian. Mongolia also has people yearning and seeking out Christ.

The great Creator died for all men. We must comply with Christ's conditions: Faith, repentance, baptism. All men must hearken unto Christ's voice. He desires all men to come unto him. Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. Deny yourselves of all ungodliness.

Abrahamic covenant opens door to God's children everywhere. If we be Christ's we are heirs to Abrahams promises. We are God's covenant people. No privileges of birth should make us think we are better than another (more on diversity).

Abraham's decedents scattered over the entire earth. Christ has said he will appear to lost tribes of Israel. Book of Mormon declares Christ will manifest himself unto all nations, and all men. He remembers those everywhere, all nations of the earth.

Christ commands that those to whom he appears, should write his words. All nations shall write His words. Eventually all nations will have the writings of all other nations. This includes Christ to lost tribes of Israel.

Don't reject God's writings because we already have a Bible. God's work not yet finished, and won't be until the end of man. The Gospel is meant for all men and nations (at this point there is a shot on the screen of the entire earth in space). Book of Mormon testifies of Christ to all nations.

10:30 a.m.
Choir sings

10:34 a.m. President Monson thanks Choir for music this session, and those who particpiated.

10:35 a.m. President Hinckely is the concluding speaker. He thanks all members for their prayers. When man reaches this age, he reflects upon what has brought him to this stage. His talk different from all previous. He faces the sunset of his life. He recently had major cancer surgery. It is the first time a patient in a hospital. He doesn’t recommend it. He still has residual problems. (more cancer?)

We all have challenges in this life. The road not taken quoted. I took the one less traveled by. Christ: Seek ye the kingdom of the Lord, and all these things shall be added unto you. 43 years ago sustained as a General Authority. Has given over 200 talks, and testified of Christ.

Things are changing. His companion has died, and he misses her more than he can describe. Everything good that has happened to him he owes to activity in the Church. Presidents of the U.S. have come to his office because of the Church. He gave Book of Mormon to President Regan. Bush awarded Medal of Freedom. He has been to the White house. From President Grant to Hunter he has worked with all presidents of Church.

He is dealing with books and artifacts he has accumulated over the years. He came across an old journal, which he re-read, and quoted from over pulpit from various entries.

He has seen many of the great men of the Church come and go. He had remarkable relationship with FP and Q of 12. He has walked with the impoverished, and also with those who have wealth and privilege.

Received patriarchal blessing as young man. A remarkable document, and shares:

"The nations of earth shall hear thy voice and be brought to knowledge of the Truth."

Has lifted his voice on every continent for Christ. It is all a miracle. He asked members last year to read the Book of Mormon. I told the brethren the Book of Mormon was most correct on earth, the keystone of our religion and man will get closer to God by reading it than any other book.

Hopes we have grown closer to God by reading Book of Mormon. He had privilege in participating in Joseph Smith tribute. Appreciates Church. Heart overwhelmed with gratitude and love. Please don't regard what I have said as an obituary. Looks forward to speaking to us again in October. This is God's holy work. The first vision was real, not imaginary. Both Father and Son spoke to boy Joseph. Resurrected Christ introduced by God the Father.

Book of Mormon is all that it purports to be. It is a work recorded by prophets to convince all that Jesus is the Christ, manifesting himself to all nations. Priesthood has been restored to the earth. Joseph Smith is and was a prophet. He leaves testimony witness and love in Christ's name.

10:52 a.m. My Redeemer Lives

10:56 a.m. Marlin K. Jenson Benediction

My observations: I haven't felt as moved in a conference address as much as I was in President Hinckley's this morning. I know he specfically said it was not meant as an obituary, and I hope in fact it was not--though both my wife and I felt as though it was a farewell address. His reference to further problems is not a good sign, in a man his age. But, we'll see.

It was a good conference session. One of the recurring themes seems to be the one of diversity. It has been voiced by more than one speaker and more than one time. Good counsel from all, for a world in desperate need of vision and direction.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

176th Annual LDS General Conference Priesthood Session

Note--Bryce over at M* also has posted his notes, of this session. They are very, very good. See here.

Note 2--Dave over at DMI has also posted notes of this session. They too are very, very good. Please see them here.

5:00 p.m
. Thomas Monson Conducting. Pres. Hinckley attending and presiding. Priesthood Choir Orem and Salt Lake Institutes of Religion

5:02 p.m. Awake Ye Saints Of God Awake

5:05 p.m. Invocation

5:09 p.m. Choir The Lord is My Shepard.

5:15 p.m. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Quorum of the Twelve. Priesthood is wonderful force for good. We live in a time of opportunity. Correct choices requires discipline and good outlook. (Choice is a big theme this conference) If we trust and obey the Lord His hand will be over us, and He will help us see the end from the beginning.

As a boy he left East Germany for West Germany overnight. He was a laundry delivery boy, and needed a bicycle. He had always dreamed of a shiny new bike. Instead he got just a black steady work horse, which he used to deliver laundry before and after school. He did his part because the family needed income and he wanted to contribute. Back then he couldn’t see the end from the beginning, and it was hard to live. He got so tired and worked so hard his lungs would literally burn from delivering the laundry. He didn't like it.

He joined the air force to be a pilot. He took the medical exam, and told him he had scars on his lungs from his teen aged years. The treatment that helped him recover, was the exercise and fresh air as a laundry boy, which he didn’t even know at the time, or until later. Without that experience as a boy he would not have become a jet fighter and later commercial pilot.

Discouragement may creep into our life along with doubt about the value of our work. Satan will plant seeds of doubt that we will never make a difference. He will try to prevent us from seeing the end from the beginning. As priesthood holders we are taught by prophets, seers, and revelators of our day. The decisions we make now will determine what will follow in this life and through out eternity.

He is grateful for Pres. Hinckley’s leadership. His prophetic view helps us see the end from the beginning. God loves us, so that he gave us prophets to give us guidelines. For the Strength of Youth are some of these critical guidelines. The principles contained therein are priceless. If you don’t have one get one. It is a gem for any aged group. All these youth, and leader guide books and temple recommend have symbol of Salt Lake Temple. The Temple binds us together, past, current, and future generations. Eternal questions answered in the Temple, divine Truths are taught in the Temple.

Our temporal bodies are also sacred, as are the Temples of God. We are not our own, as we have been bought with a price (Christ's Atonement). Use our thoughts, minds, hearts, and bodies with respect and dignity. As we keep Strength of Youth standards, we will perform life’s work with greater skill. We will be temple worthy.

God keeps promises. We need to fulfill our part to receive His blessings. When we are blessed it is because we obeyed the law upon which it is predicated. To go to the Temple you will be interviewed by a Bishop. Are you honest, morally clean, keep word of wisdom, pay tithing, sustain Church leadership? These standards are similar to those found in Strength of Youth. These along with guidance of Holy Ghost will help us decide on education, friends, media, dating, sexual purity, and a host of other choices we do and will make.

As we keep the standards we will see beyond the “moment” We will endure and work hard. The youth will then serve missions. Upon their return they will plan their lives, and prepare for marriage and eternal families. Your priorities in life will change. You will be able to see the end from the beginning. Write these standards into your hearts and minds. Compare the standards with where you are today. The Spirit will let you know what changes you need to make. Use true repentance and Christ’s Atonement to achieve your potential.

Know thou my son that all these things shall give you experience. This was a lesson taught by Christ to Joseph, and by extension the saints.

Teaching by example is the best way to teach. Teach our youth by being a Temple worthy leader. This will be of great help to our youth, and help them see the end from the beginning. He promises that when we follow this pattern God will help us make more out of our life than we can by ourselves. He will help us see the end from the beginning.

5:31 p.m. Ronald A. Rasband Presidency of the Seventy. 122 temples now available to the saints worldwide–more have been announced and are coming.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin called families together for counsel from him. They came up to the temple with their tents, and the doors toward the temple so they could hear King Benjamin’s words. Are our doors pitched toward the Temples that we love in our own homes?

Families received his word with enthusiasm and commitment. They entered a new covenant to follow Christ. Unfortunately the little children at the time did not understand his words, since they were small children. The did not believe the traditions of their fathers? Why did they not accept them? Do we have reason to be concerned of our rising generation of youth?

President Hinckley has praised our youth. They look to the Lord for His guidance and help. But there are warnings too. Many youth are mature; but they are sorely tested, with the tests to become more severe. Does this get your attention? It should. As fathers and leaders we need to respond to the call “All hands on deck.” We need to teach and fortify fathers and mothers, to help them teach the children in the home.

Now is the time to increase our awareness, and to be influences for good in their lives. When first called to the Seventy, he took his family with him to England to preside in an area presidency. He included his family in his Church work, which brought them together. They performed baptisms for the dead in the Temple, which also brought them closer together, more so than all the prior football games of other temporal activities.

Nephi understood commitment to children of the upcoming generation. We teach Christ, to our children so they know to Whom they may look for a remission of their sins.

5:43 p.m. Elder Richard G. Hinckley Quorum of the Seventy. President Hinckley’s son (he does look like him.) He began his talk by stating he is likely the only General Authority sustained by the entire Church membership, over the protest (tongue in cheek) of the prophet. His mother passed away two years ago just after April conference. He can honor her now only by how he lives. He loves his father, and honors him. He recalls some of his youth and interaction with his family. He recalls laughter and love. His father, President Hinckely is kind and wise.

What my membership in the Church means to me. List the thoughts that come to your mind. You will soon have a growing book that helps you understand your membership in the Church. It may help you in future talks.

Tonight he talks about repentance. It is not a harsh principle. It means to turn, or to return to God. Jehovah asked Israel to return, repeatedly. All they needed to do was acknowledge their sins.

When we acknowledge sin, forsake, it, and change our hearts, then God will and does forgive us. Atonement makes repentance possible. His Church membership means everything to him. It gives life meaning.

5:52 p.m. James C. Faust Second Counselor in First Presidency It is always a great privilege to address the priesthood of the Church. The young men are blessed to hold the Aaronic Priesthood. The lesser priesthood doesn’t mean there is anything small about it. Upon taking of the Sacrament members take Christ’s name upon them.

Some deacons became careless in passing the sacrament. One Sunday, the High Priests of the ward sat on the deacons row, to pass the sacrament. The young deacons learned by example that passing the Sacrament was a sacred trust, and a great honor. Peter called the Priesthood a Royal Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood holds keys for administering of angels. In ancient and modern times angels have appeared with warnings and instructions. At times our relatives who have passed on may be such angels in our lives.

Alma the Younger had an experience with ministering of angels. Alma was so overcome that he fainted and was carried to his father. He subsequently repented and was born of the Spirit. He went on to become one of the Church’s greatest missionaries. Miracles don’t always convert people. Laman and Lemuel are prime examples. Aaronic priesthood holder obligated to qualify for the Melchizedek priesthood.

Upon ordination the Aaronic Priesthood holder can administer in certain ordinances. Duties of different quorums reviewed. Home teaching companions to their fathers helps to watch over the Church. You need to have spirit with you in your lives as you perform your priesthood duties. You must avoid all types of addiction: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography. Some addictions are mind altering, and can inhibit reason from guiding you.

6:07 p.m. Choir and congregation sing We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet.

6:10 p.m. Thomas B. Monson First Counselor First Presidency. Remember it is a great blessing to hold the priesthood. All should honor the priesthood. We should know what we believe. We should be ready to answer those who wants to question our beliefs. When the time for performance arrives, the time for preparation has passed. We should prepare now.

Are we ready to answer questions and declare truth? We should be prepared. Pres. Mckay asked what beliefs set us apart from others? He responded that it is divine authority by direct revelation. Perfect example is First Vision of Joseph Smith.

John Baptist in May 1829 ordained Joseph and Oliver, to the priesthood of Aaron, which he held on earth. He was acting under Peter, James, and John who held keys of Melchesidek priesthood, another example of divine authority and direct revelation. Apostles sent by God ordained Joseph and Oliver to be specially witnesses of Him.

We carry the requirement and duty to be true to the trust we have been given. Priesthood is the power of God delegated to man for man to act toward man’s salvation. This is authority given in this day by ministering angels, direct from presence of Almighty God.

When he was 17 he was to be ordained an Elder. He went to Stake President for his interview. The SP was a scriptorian, and felt others, should also be. He was told by SP to come two hours before sacrament and to bring his personal scriptures. SP asked to see his scriptures. He commented “well read”. He asked Monson, have you ever had an angel minister to you? Well, I’m not sure. Then citing 13th section of D & C, this priesthood holds keys for administering of angels. At the end of a “long” interview SP passed him, and said he would be ordained an Elder. Remember that the Lord blesses those who serve him.

Oath and Covenant applies to all priesthood. It is a pronouncement to Aaronic priesthood of future duty. If you obtain these two priesthoods you are sanctified. He that receives this priesthood receives my servants, and my Father and His kingdom.

Two main requirements. First faithfulness and obedience. Second to magnify ones calling–to honor and glorify your calling. To increase the importance of your calling.

Prophet Joseph asked what does magnify calling mean:? To hold it up. To elevate it. To perform your calling.

Aaronic priesthood should be given opportunity to magnify their callings. We should not doubt, but believe. The priesthood is not a gift, but a commission to serve and bless the lives of others.

Melchizedek priesthood are shepards watching ovaer Israel. Are we prepared to feed flock of God? We must recognize worth of human soul. Never give up on any of God’s children. When priesthood callings are magnified, the power of God brings to pass his purposes. For whom God calls, He qualifies.

6:35 p.m. Reminders of tomorrow’s sessions, day light savings time tomorrow 2:00 a.m. President Hinckley concludes

6:35 p.m. President Hinckley. He remarks how President Monson is a difficult man to follow. Full of humor but also sincerity. When a man grows old he develops a softer touch. He emphasized how he has thought a great deal about that recently. Why there so much hatred? There are terrible wars. At home there is contention. Fathers who make wives weep and children fear. There are racial tensions. I cannot understand how this can be. He recalls the 1978 revelation on priesthood to all worthy males. There are racial slurs and remarks heard amongst the saints. True disciples of Christ do not participate in them. No man holding MP can arrogantly assume he can hold MP but another whose skin is different cannot. We have a diverse society, and we must accommodate this diversity.

Each is son or daughter of God, who loves all children No basis fro racial hatred in this church. If you so indulge you need to ask for forgiveness.

Receives letters about issues to discuss at conference. One from a woman who divorced then remarried. Husband quit job and refusing to work, while wives provide for households. If one so does, they deny the faith and are infidels. Women have claim on their husbands for maintenance, as do children till they are of age. Husbands considered breadwinners for family. A man who refuses to work to support family, is not in good standing.

Knows that conflicts of th world are of adversary. From time of Church’s organization Satan has been at work.

Story of young man growing up in community not members of church. Some of his LDS associates belittled him. He hated Church. At 17 he enrolled in college, after his father died. One friend asked him to join a club. For first time in his life someone wanted me around. This was good feeling for this brother, and after 16 years he finally had a friend.

His friend read the Book of Mormon, and he asked about it. He asked what was so important in Book of Mormon. H didn’t want to touch the book, only what was in it. Richard, his friend asked him to attend and sing in choir. He was promised the first time if he read the Book of Mormon he would know it was true. He did read the book, and was eventually baptized.

Recently he was married in the Salt Lake City Temple. Elder Coleman performed the ceremony. It is unfortunate how his early Mormon friends treated him. It was only afterward when another Mormon treated him better than he was converted.

Why do we have to be so mean? Why so much animosity? It is not part of Christ’s gospel. We must forgive others their trespasses. We all sin. We are members of God’s church. We are obligated to Him and others. The world needs men of strength and righteousness. Most LDS though show outpouring of love and concern for others. Relief Society does vast good all across the world. Welfare program provides clothing, food and other temporal things for those in distress.

Perpetual education lifts thousands out of poverty into sunshine of knowledge. No end to the good we can do. Don’t dwell on critical or negative. Pray for strength and capacity to assist others. Radiate light of Gospel all times and places. Spirit of Redeemer to radiate from us to all others.

6:55 p.m Choir Closes Come Oh thou king of kings.


I was particularly struck by President Hinckley's remarks. He spoke plainly, clearly, and with conviction. He clearly is dismayed at the level of contention in the world. He is greatly disturbed at how we treat each other, the wars that rage unchecked, the meanness of spirit with which we treat each other. He asked a couple of times Why? I got the sense he was truly concerned with hate, contention, war, and unchristian conduct. He decried it on a national level, and at home, as well as by members of the Church. I very much appreciated hearing these comments, and felt them a strong reminder to live a more Christlike life. We can all do with more charity in our actions, thoughts, and deeds. We truly were fed by a Prophet of God this evening.

176th Annual LDS General Conference Saturday Afternoon

1:00 p.m. Conference begins. There are always beautiful shots of the flowers outside on Temple Square and the conference center. Combined choir from BYU will provide this sessions' musical numbers.

Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency will conduct, at President Hinckley's request.

1:02 p.m. The choir sings I Saw A Mighty Angel Fly

1:06 p.m. Cecil O. Samuelson gave the invocation. The limitless magnificence of the Atonement. I liked this phrase in the prayer.

1:08 p.m. Choir Sings Have I Done Any Good? I like lots of music in the conference sessions. I especially like it when I know the music. So far I've recognized most all of the numbers. Of course I suspect it would not hurt to broaden my horizons and musical knowledge. Wake up and do something more than dream of your mansions above! Words to live by (or would that be sleep by?)

1:13 p.m. President Hinckley requests presentation of the General Authorities of the Church. President Monson presents all General and Area Authorities, with the following sustaining votes. There was a day when during this portion of the conference that protesters would interrupt and voice opposition. This was back in th 70's when the Equal Rights Amendment was a hot topic. The "Brethren" are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. This must be almost an awful responsibility for these men.

Several of the Seventy were release and new Seventies called to the Quorum as well. There are several non-American foreign brethern sustained. This is a great sign of the world wide Church. I am pleased to see this type of diversity. The sustaining was unanimous. The new authorities came to take their place on the stand. There are quite a few! They'll have to build a bigger stand if they keep calling them like this.

1:19 p.m. Robert W. Cantwell Managing Director Church Audit Department. This is independent of all other Church departments. It consists of CPA;s D & C 120 accounting. Contributions, expenditures, and assets are recorded and administered consistent with accounting principles.

1:21 p.m. Report on 2005 Church Statistics (Thanks Justin B for helping out on the stats--I got behind)

2,701 Stakes

643 Districts

27087 wards

12,560,869 members

93,150 children of record baptized

243,108 converts baptized

52,060 full time missionaries serving

3 New Temples Dedicated

1 Temple rededicated

122 Total Temples in operation

1:23 p.m. Boyd K. Packer, Acting President Quorum of the Twelve. Story of Alma and Corianton his son. See Alma Chapter 39 Alma was very disappointed. Corianton forsook his ministry and affiliated with a harlot. Ye cannot hide your crimes from God. These actions hurt the Church. When they saw your conduct they would not believe my words.

Alma then taught his son, because the preaching of the Word had greater impact on the minds of man than anything, even the sword. Alma started teaching Corianton of Christ, and His coming. He teaches his classic on the life after death. See Alma Chapter 40 in the Book of Mormon. The same spirit that inhabits the body in life, is the same spirit that leaves it upon death--no miraculous changes will take place.

Alma taught about justice and mercy. The Atonement was critical and required. So God Himself provided such an Atonement for all his children. Repentance not possible without punishment. Alma knew from personal experience the pain of punishment and the power of repentance. He too was a rebellious youth, disappointing his own father. An angel was sent to him as a result of the prayers of a loving family and father.

Don't excuse yourself because of your sins. After sufficient repentance, Corianton was able to return to the mission field and resumed God's work. Twenty years later he continued laboring in the Gospel. Gender confusion, pornography, and like lifestyles lead to addicting lifestyles. Some claim they are compelled to live in sin. This denies the Atonement of Christ. It denies Christ's power and Atonement. It is a lie, propounded by Satan. I the Lord will remember their sins no more.

1:39 p.m. David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Tweleve Apostles. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is the introductory ordinance of the Church. It is preceded by faith in Christ. Except a man be born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. His message will focus on the baptism of the Spirit.

A covenant is contract between us and God. God decides the elements, terms and conditions of the covenant--not man. At baptism we take upon ourselves Christ's name, remember him always, and in return we will have His Spirit to be with us always.

After baptism we each were confirmed members of the Church. Receive the Holy Ghost is the injunction that completes the second part of the baptism ordinance. We are baptized by immersion in water. We then need to be immersed in the Spirit for the true remission of our sins. Strong dramatic spiritual manifestations are not the norm. The Spirit communicates through the "still small voice." It will usually be subtle, not dramatic.

We need to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. When we withdraw from the Spirt it cannot guide us. We need to recognize when that happens. The standard is clear. If something we see, hear, do, think distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop whatever it is. The spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest. We should shun those activities, thoughts, or anything else than distances us from the Spirit.

The Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us. It is up to us. Having the Spirit as our Guide is essential for our spiritual growth in this world. The promise to have His Spirit with us is available to every member of the Church.

Liahona symbolic of how to use the Holy Ghost in our lives today. The same principles that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi, will allow the Holy Ghost to work in our lives today. As we study the Liahona principles we can and will be blessed with the Holy Ghost's direction. It pointed the way Lehi and his family should go toward the promised land. It worked when the family was righteous and kept the commandments. It ceased when they were contentions. It provided direction in their lives. Faith and diligence were required for its proper function, as they are required today in our lives for the Holy Ghost to properly function.

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide. We invite the Holy Ghost through meaningful family prayer, virtue, humility. We should avoid that which is crude and vulgar. Partaking of the Sacrament will also help the Holy Ghost guide us in our lives. We are reminded weekly that we can ALWAYS have his spirit to be with us by partaking of the sacrament.

Prophet Joseph appeared to Brigham Young in a dream, and told him to tell the Saints to keep the Spirit of the Lord close. He emphasized the importance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of the Lord.

Very powerful talk on the Holy Ghost from this new apostle. Very well, done. The spirit was strong throuhout that talk.

1:56 p.m. The Choir Sings Come Ye Children of the Lord

1:59 p.m. David F. Evans Quorum of the Seventy. He has been a Seventy for a year. He testifies of the reality of prophets and apostles today. Missionary story about arriving for mission interviews during a snow storm. They were happy and cheerful regardless of the weather. By serving the Lord in his cause they felt a love hard to describe.

That night missionaries went out preaching the Gospel despite difficult circumstances. They were happy doing that which they had been called to do. This is the greatest generation of missionaries the world has known. This results from "raising the bar" and shows why it needed to be raised.

President Hinckely's mission story recounted. He recommitted after receiving a letter from his father, encouraging him to lose himself in the Work. He began to see the beauty of the land and the people. If you want to be happy, then forget yourself and help other people. Come and join as a missionary for the Lord. Commit two years of your life to God, and you will love those whom you serve. It will be difficult work, but with satisfaction as well.

Not only young elders are entitled to missionary blessings. Older couples and sisters also are able to serve.

(This is a great talk for the youth of our ward, and I'm sure others as well. What can we do as youth leaders to help these young men and women see the importance of missionary work? It can and will be the most important formative years in their life.)

The fog can and will lift if you serve the Lord diligently on a mission. Come and join with us. Come and be clean and be happy. Be part of the greatest generation of missionaries the world has ever known.

2:06 p.m. Wolfgang H. Paul, Quorum of the Seventy. He saw a bumper sticker "I do want I want." This is supposed true freedom, total freedom. Today's media and popular culture teach that if you do what you want you have real freedom. Satisfying our desires is that is important.

But, it is God's plan that provides true freedom and happiness. Because of the redemption we are free forever. (otherwise we would be subject to death). We can choose life. Satan wants man to be miserable like unto himself.

Free agency allows us to make decision. Agency is an eternal law. A law that has always existed from all eternity, to all eternity (paraphrasing Brigham Young).

God taught Abraham about the eternal nature of spirits. He taught about the importance of mortal life, and our test period to exercise that agency. We will create a world to prove them herewith. Knowledge of Good and Evil important. Choices critical, as are the consequences.

Christ set a perfect example of how to use agency. In pre-mortal life he said Father Thy Will be done and the glory Thine forever. It is this attitude with which we should approach life--do what the Father wants--not what we want. By submitting to the Father's will only will we find true freedom. Great testimony. It's good to see these non-American brethern fill the ranks of General Authorities.

2:15 p.m. Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve. Recites story of a loving wife, and the oblivious husband too busy with his "game boy" (how often do we go through life like that?) He knows that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Family is the central unit of eternity. Satan's attack on family and marriage seeks to undermine both.

Couples at times let their romance become rusty. (we can all do better here--I know I can.) In due time, all blessings will be available, even if not now married.

1. Couples need to comprehend doctrinal foundation of a marriage. One man and one woman. D &C 49:15-16. Worldly trends to define marriage differently will destroy marriage. Marriage is an eternal and everlasting covenant. It embraces husband, wife, and God. Marriage is but the beginning bud of family life. Families can be eternal as God Himself. (interesting the reference to one man and one woman. I think this is in response to all the Big Love hoopla). True happiness depends upon purity within the relationship. Avoid crudeness and pornography. Be clean in marriage.

Priesthood meant to exalt families. Men need to nurture their marriage.

2. Actions to strengthen a marriage. Appreciate, communicate, contemplate.

Appreciate. Say I love you and Thank You. This is not difficult. This is a sign of sweet civility. Look for the good in your partner.

Communicate. Good communication requires planning together. Observe, talk, and listen to each other. Make mutual goals. Use prayer and remember your spouse.

Contemplate. This is a deep word. If couples contemplate in the temple covenants will better be kept. Temple attendance will strengthen each other. This will nurture marriage and God's Kingdom as well.

Each partner should consider these suggestions. Begin with a desire to bless your unity and purpose. Do not be selfish. Be generous. Celebrate and commemorate each day together as a treasured gift from heaven.

No other success can compensate for failure in the home (David O' McKay--haven’t heard that in some time.) Great counsel for better marriages. We can all do better I'm certain in our marriages.

2:30 p.m. President Monson reminds everyone of General Priesthood tonight. Also he reminds us to set clocks forward tonight.

2:31 p.m. Elder L. Tom Perry Quorum of the Twelve. Visited the Logan institute of religion. In renovating the building they found an old sacrament tray, with actual glass sacrament cups. (Even I don't remember these--always paper or plastic in my life time). The workers presented this glass cup to Elder Perry.

He related how on his 12th birthday, on a Sunday. He had an interview and read D&C 13 about John the Baptists conferring the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph and Oliver. His father the Bishop conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on him, and was sustained in his Deacon's Quorum. An evening sacrament meeting (those I do remember) was the first time he exercised his priesthood authority. He noticed how different people approached taking the sacrament differently. Some were just routine, others approached it as a very sacred ordinance.

Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the night before His Ultimate Sacrifice. Matthew 26 sets for Christ's passing of the First Sacrament. Take eat this is My Body. Take drink, for this is My Blood. 3 Nephi 20 also has an account of Christ's administering the Sacrament, this time to the Nephites in America. If you do always remember Me you shall have My Spirit to be with you. (this is a recurring and important theme in this conference, and one which I have pondered over the last several months--direct revelation and direction to an all to often unwise, and unworthy servant.)

The purpose of taking the sacrament is to renew our covenants with Christ. We renew all covenants (not just baptism i.e., temple covenants) when we partake of the sacrament. It is one of the most sacred ordinances of the Church. Casual taking of the sacrament, results in lack of spiritual growth.

Parents have responsibility to teach importance of attending Sacrament meeting weekly. May we have an increased reverence for the Sabbath. May we always remember Him, keep His Commandments, and we will have His Spirit to be with us.

Great discussion on an important ordinance (one of the most sacred) in the Church. Very spiritual delivery--well done. President Hinckely has yet to speak. I think his absence from the pulpit is deliberate, and not a good sign--in terms of his physical longevity in mortality. Yet, he will have another important mission to follow.

2:48 p.m. Choir Closes Come Follow Me--a very powerful rendition. All of their hymns have had just a bit different arrangements than that in the regular hymn book. The music at these sessions are as important as are the talks. The Spirit speaks as much through this music as it does when prophets, seers, and revelators instruct the body of the Saints.

2:54 p.m. Elder Glen L. Pace Quorum of the Seventy offers the Benediction.

176th Annual LDS General Conference Saturday Morning

Today the Church celebrates its 176th annual General Conference. It is held in the conference center, located in downtown Salt Lake City. There are at least two blogs which will have open threads on conference where you can go and discuss within the Bloggernacle community the conference talks, share ideas, comments, questions, and the like. See here and here. If I locate more I will add them.

9:00 a.m. Conference begins at the conference center in Salt Lake City. The Choir provides music for this session. James E. Faust, second counselor conducts this session of conference. He looks good, as does Pesident Hinckely--though President Hinckley looks older than he has in the past. I'm sure his surgery has taken a great deal out of him--but it's good to see him make the session.

9:03 a.m. The Choir opens with Dearest Children God Is Near You. Nice color contrast between the sisters and brethren in the Choir, black and white. Blogger is very slow this morning, and live blogging is likely to be more difficult as a result.

9:06 a.m. Opening Prayer

9:07 a.m. Choir Did You Think To Pray. I like this hymn. Something too often I don't think to do before leaving the house, or beginning a day a work, or performing any task worth doing well, Church related or not. When your soul was full of sorrow, Balm of Gilead did you borrow? Umm. Prayer changing the night to day. I've always marveled at those organists.

9:14 a.m. Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles--expresses gratitude for the Prophet and his Book of Mormon challenge. Lehi, another prophet also chose to follow the lord, despite discord amongst his own sons, Laman, and Lemuel, who misused their free agency rebel.
Lehi blessed all his children before his death. To Jacob, he taught about the Plan of Salvation and Free Agency. Prior to this earth life we learned about good and evil. We were given free agency to see if we would follow God's plan.

Satan sought to destroy man's agency, which cost him and one third of heaven used their agency to reject God's plan. They had their freedom of choice, but couldn't choose the consequences.

On earth we have opposition in all things. It brings about God's eternal purposes. Man must act for himself. Adam and Eve first to experience temptation, and to exercise their free agency. Adam fell than men might be. Men are that they might have joy. Only by yielding to temptation will we lose that joy, which is Satan’s desire.

The adversary has no joy, unless we sin. He must have incredible joy given the state of this world.

Satan cannot make us do anything. We alone have the power to chose. The adversary must depart if we tell him to depart. He can only affect us if we allow him to do so. We do not have to yield to his enticements.

We have the Holy Ghost for a reason. It will keep us holding onto the "Iron Rod." All of us make mistakes. This is why Lehi taught Jacob and all of us about the Plan of Salvation. Because of the fall we can act for our selves, rather than be acted upon. In today's world we need to act to avoid evil, in order to avoid being acted upon.

When the promptings come, it won't be with a voice of thunder. It will be a thought to our minds, or a feeling in our hearts. If we ignore them, then the spirit's light fades, and we walk in spiritual darkness at noon-day. We become bound by the chains of sin.

Debt binds us. Breaking the law binds us with temporal prison. Spiritual prison is similar. Daily we must exercise choice wisely. We must exercise agency wisely.

Addiction and destructive behaviors make it almost impossible for light to penetrate. How do we escape these addictions? We reclaim agency by acting in faith.

1. Choose to accept God loves us and we are his children.

2. Choose to put everything on the altar before God. Use our agency to do His will. Never give up.

3. Choose to pray and read the scriptures to enhance the Spirit. When we feel the Spirit we are being cleansed.

4. Choose to obey and keep the commandments. Partake of the Sacrament.

5. Choose to attend the Temple.

6. Choose to believe in Christ's Atonement. He has power to remember our sins no more.

7. Choose to reject shame for the past and sins repented of. Satan desires that we be miserable.

We should use our agency to lift and strengthen others. We and others can lose our agency through the unwise use of our agency and poor choices.

Agency was manifest in Heaven before this life. It allow us to be tested and tried. It allows us to express our inward spiritual desires in outward Christlike lifestyles. Agency allows us to live in joy in the present. Agency determines who we are, and what we will be.

Agency leads us to act, seek and find, knock, and receive. Christ is the source of all light. His light will grow within us as we use our agency correctly.

9:31 a.m. Bishop H. David Burton. Relates story of Prophet Joseph Smith. Millions last year responded with generous contributions to the less fortunate. Bishop Burton relates stories of various relief efforts by Church membership worldwide, with videos and stories. What a great missionary tool while at the same time helping our fellow brothers and sisters in a time of need.

We need to lift those downtrodden and oppressed, regardless of church membership, or religious affiliation. This demonstrates the "pure love Christ." That which we give, will again be meted out to us. On behalf of the Twelve and First Presidency expresses "Thanks" which in a way is almost trite. Nonetheless--gratitude to all is expressed humbly in Christ's name.

9:46 a.m. Choir sings Now Let Us Rejoice--it's the Seventh Inning Stretch Folks--or at least the conference equivalent. Nice shot of Moroni on top of the Temple outside. Interesting how one can experience the "spirit" and power of this hymn as sung by the choir, literally 1000 miles away. I cannot explain it. Come home indeed. The conference center looks very full. I suspect they still use the ticket system to get in.

9:50 a.m. Sister Julie B.Beck, First Counselor Young Women's Presidency. This is the beginning of the blessing about to be poured out on my people--referencing the restoration of keys back in the Kirtland Temple. Priesthood interwoven into who we are--men and women alike. We are given equal partnership and blessings. The priesthood restoration provides blessings to all men and women alike. We are all equally blessed by priesthood ordinances:

1. Blessing name of children

2. Baptism same for boys and girls.

3. Gift of Holy Ghost given same gift to all baptized members, male and female.

4. Priesthood blessings available to all.

5. Patriarchal blessings also available to all.

6. Temple worship and endowment is for all who want to qualify for these blessings.

7. Temple marriage covenants are shared equally by the man and the wife. Each are blessed to be exhalted at some future time.

All faithful members equally blessed through blessings of priesthood restoration. Some gifts are given to certain individuals; but given from the same God.

God is no respecter of persons. We all have the gospel, same baptism, same gift of Holy Ghost, same opportunity to utilize Priesthood blessings. We are equal partners through Priesthood woven in, through, and around our lives.

Sister Beck clearly sought to stress the equality of men and women in the Church, in certain areas. Watch for the hue and cry of some in the 'nacle about how we are unequal. It has already started to some degree, and will likely be a lively discussion in the not to distant future.

10:01 a.m. Choir sings For the Beauty of the Earth

10:05 a.m. Elder Henry D. Eyring, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ancient apostles, for example, Paul, have seen our times. They have seen the latter-day wickedness of our times. There is hope, though, in a place of safety from the storms ahead.

It is upon the Rock of Christ that we must build our foundation. When the hail and storms beat upon us, they will have no effect be cause of the Rock of Christ. It has never been more important than now to build on this rock.

King Benjamin saw us and our descendants. He was a holy man, and knew how to build of the rock of Christ. His final discourse is full of his insights. Because we are free to chose between right and wrong, we face hazards.

He described the consequences of our choices, depending on how we choose. We may drink damnation to our soul, and everlasting punishment, unless we repent. The demands of justice will awaken us to our guilt, and cause us to shrink from God. He spoke plainly and clearly.

We can and must become as a little child. Most though want to be strong, and less childish. To be like a child, is to be like Christ. Our nature must be changed to be come strong so that we are safe in times of moral peril.

The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam. King Benjamin taught this. We must become like a child, meek, full of love, submissive to all that God seeks to inflict upon us.

Elder Eyring related a story of prayer of submitting his will to God's. Only when a submissive heart seeks, will the Spirit manifest itself unto that heart. We much change our hearts to be more submissive to Christ and His will.

There is no other way given or name given other than Christ. We must have faith in Christ. We must know Christ. Yet, how can we know Him if we have not served Him? We will come to love those we serve. To be called to serve is a call to change our very natures.

To remit our sins we must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help those who need our help. We must avoid contention. We must take heed and pray always. Through sin the Spirit can be lost. We are responsible for ourselves. The Holy Ghost can lead us to truth and away from sin.

10:23 a.m. Choir sings Consider the Lilies

10:28 a.m. Elder Faust resumes conducting. President Monson will conclude this session. The Choir will sing High On A Mountain Top

10:29 a.m. President Monson, First Counselor First Presidency. Satan has created traps for the unsuspecting. He attempts to entice and ensnare us. Once grasped, it is difficult to escape. We must recognize his traps and avoid them.

Immorality is constantly before us. Many believe what was once evil is no acceptable. They are mistake. Chastity and virtue are precious above all things. 1 Corinthians 10:13--God will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able to bear.

Pornography is also another snare. His lie is that viewing pornography hurts on one. It is acceptable and normal. Some publishers and printers prostitute their presses with pornography. The most readily available source today for pornography is the Internet. It is enticing and habit forming. It is foul sleaze that make its exploiters wealthy--per President Hinckley. Long gone are the restraints of yesteryear. Avoid any semblance of pornography.

Drugs and Alcohol are another snare. They cloud thinking, remove inhibitions. They are purposely placed in the pathway of vulnerable youth. Paul taught that we are the Temple of God and that His Spirit dwells within us. We need to keep our physical temples clean and pure.

Excessive Debt another snare. We live in a time of borrowing that is too easy. Home equity loans very popular. But, this is a second mortgage. If we live beyond our means, the day of recononing will come. Many enter into long term debt, and then changes occur. Jobs are lost, health may be lost. Debt payments can't be made. We need to live within our means. We will be happier than if we are consistently worrying about paying our debts. We should release ourselves from bondage.

Beware of the detours, traps, and snares, which beckon us to grasp them. Pause to pray. Listen to the still small voice.

Yet, there will be those who will not listen. They will grasp the snares until they cannot let go. The clamor for prominence and prestige, the quest for wealth is not worth the price.

Surrounded by challenged of modern living we look heavenward for direction.

10:50 a.m. Choir closes singing High On A Mountain Top

I enjoyed this sessions. Talks were timely, even if we've heard them or some of the concepts before. I continu to maintain that once we start living more fully that which the the Prophets teach, then we'll likely hear more new material.

At least two other blogs have mentioned a well written ariticle in the London Financial Times dealing with pornography. As that is a timely spiritual and now secular topic, I will reprint the entire article below, with a link to the original source. Sometimes papers pull articles offline after a period of time--hence my reason for reprinting it in its entirety. The original link is here.

The story below:

Not tonight darling, I’m onlineBy Adrian TurpinPublished: March 31 2006 15:19 Last updated: March 31 2006 15:19

On a winter afternoon in Trafalgar Square, Michael (”Please don’t use my second name”) is trying to explain how the internet has changed his life and the lives of thousands like him.

“How many men are there here?” he asks, standing on the steps of St Martin in the Fields church. He surveys the tableau of anonymous office workers muffled against the cold. “Say there are 100, 200, 500...? How many will go home tonight and, with or without the knowledge of their partners, look at porn on the internet? You’d be surprised. Timothy Leary said about Sixties drug culture, ‘tune in and drop out’. The modern equivalent is ‘log on and get off’.”
He draws a line in the air between Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. “You might think they don’t look the sort. Well, I don’t look the sort - but I’ve spent whole weekends with the curtains drawn, sitting in the dark apart from the blue light of the screen. It seems so creepy when it’s put like that.” He laughs and shrugs. “But everybody’s at it. Aren’t they?”

The question is all the more unsettling for being rhetorical. Can it be true that a great swathe of the UK population is spending its spare moments surfing for naked flesh and, if so, what effect might that have on the nation’s collective psyche? What does it say about our emotional lives? You don’t have to look far to find evidence that Michael’s “everyone’s at it” contains more than a kernel of truth.

Dr Marios Pierides is a consultant psychiatrist with the Capio Nightingale hospitals in London, who specialises in treating patients with addictions. “The man who tells you he hasn’t looked at pornography on the web is the man who tells you he hasn’t masturbated,” he says.

According to the internet filter company N2H2, its database of pages identified as pornography grew from 14 million in 1998 to 260 million in 2003, a 1,800 per cent increase. Type “XXX” into Google - a rough and ready reckoner of the number of adult sites - and you will get millions of results, while in January this year, The Washington Post reported that the online porn business was worth $2.5bn a year, compared with just $1.1bn for music downloads.

“One of my colleagues calls internet porn the crack cocaine of the internet,” Pierides says. “It would not be unreasonable to call it an epidemic. In the past 12 months, I’ve seen an explosion in the number of people referred to me with issues about it. It has tripled. This is causing real problems.

“I’ve had many wives complaining about it and simply going along with it, and the number of people in offices is startling. It’s now not at all uncommon for me to be consulted by high-flying professionals who fear their addiction will lead to them losing their jobs.”

The psychiatrist’s views find accord in the US. According to Mark Schwartz, the clinical director of the Masters and Johnson Clinic in St Louis, “Pornography is having a dramatic effect on relationships at many different levels and in many different ways - and nobody outside the sexual behaviour field and the psychiatric community is talking about it.”

Statistics about internet usage are often sketchy and raise as many questions as they answer. Still, the dots are there to be joined. In 2001, the internet tracking company Netvalue made headlines when it reported that more than a quarter of Britons who had access to the net from home had looked at adult websites over the course of a month. Of those, students (23 per cent), manual workers (15 per cent) and professionals (almost 13 per cent) were the most frequent visitors.

Now consider the near exponential increase in internet access in the past decade. The Office for National Statistics recorded that just 9 per cent of UK households were online in 1998; by 2004 that figure had risen to 52 per cent. The amount of time spent online seems to be expanding too. Last month, Google claimed that the average Briton now spends more time trawling the web (164 minutes a day) than watching television (148 minutes). It seems fair to assume that not all this time was spent innocently shopping on eBay or doing homework.

Given such growth, talk of pornography flooding into Britain’s homes as never before is neither hyperbolic nor judgmental; it’s a statement of fact. The internet has released a genie from the bottle. Once pornography had to be actively sought; now it is accessible and affordable for the majority of the population, anonymity guaranteed at the click of a mouse. The consequences are staggering. In 2004, the American internet tracking service ComScore revealed that more than 70 per cent of men aged 18-34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month. “It’s a high number,” one of the company’s analysts told The New York Times, “but it won’t shock anyone who’s worked in the industry.”

Michael is not shocked either. But nor is he entirely comfortable with his own situation. “When I talk to you about this for the first time, I feel queasy. It’s not quite a moral queasiness. I’m not talking about the ethics of pornography or the exploitation of women. Whatever I ought to feel about that, that’s the easiest bit for me to rationalise.

“It’s not sexual guilt. It’s more a sense of waste and puzzlement. What am I lacking in my life and my marriage that I need this? You are meant to get to know yourself as you get older. I’m 32 and sometimes I think I’m getting more confused, lost in cyberspace. But the most baffling thing is that I can say all this to you, but when I go home tonight I’ll probably boot up my machine and start all over again.”

I had found Michael through a friend of a friend, and e-mailed him a couple of weeks before our London meeting. I told him I was writing about how the internet had affected people’s relationships - more specifically about how the online revolution had brought the guilty secrets of pornography into men’s erotic lives. His first response was: “Why me?” His life was so ordinary. “Exactly,” I replied. “That’s the point.”

Michael was right about not seeming “the sort”. At first, we exchanged e-mails. For someone who spent so much time on line, he seemed awkward, cool to the point of terseness. It took a while before he told me his background: a happy childhood; two degrees - a bachelor’s from a red brick university and an Oxbridge PhD; a relatively high-flying job in academia that he liked rather than loved.

The really personal stuff was left until we met face to face - a face that seemed the antithesis of the pasty-faced onanist: shaven head, broad smile, good-looking in a slightly ruddy way with a self-deflating sense of humour.

Had he ever had problems establishing relationships with women? “I wasn’t Casanova,” he deadpanned. “Eight or ten relationships, flings, whatever, since I left university.” He met his wife five years ago, marrying in 2003. They have no children. “It’s a comfortable relationship,” he said. “But I would never tell her about the porn. It’s something I’d dabbled in occasionally for a long time. When I lived in London I would occasionally get magazines from a news stand outside Victoria station, always at night. But it was only really when I got the internet that I got serious.”

In the days before broadband, downloading pictures was painfully slow. He instead turned to MSN’s chat rooms, which have since closed down after the internet service provider became nervous about their ability to police paedophile activities. “I can’t remember the first time. But I can still remember the feeling. There was a sort of tingle of expectation - adrenaline - perhaps as the modem started to whine. I once read that some people get turned on just by hearing that sound. I can believe it.

“I’d be seeing a girlfriend but I’d choose to spend time getting aroused online rather than with her. It wasn’t always the case. Sometimes I’d go for weeks without logging on. But I’d always relapse in little bursts. A couple of hours a night for a week, if I got a chance.” By the time he was married the sessions sometimes lasted until three or four o’clock in the morning, after his wife had gone to bed. “Was it a sign that something was wrong with my relationship or that something was wrong with me?”

These days, Michael spends little time in chat rooms and more downloading pornographic pictures and videos from websites (he says that he prefers websites that show more natural, less silicone-enhanced women). His wife’s absence on business trips gives him time and opportunity to seek them out.

Has his online life changed the way Michael relates to her? “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I know I love her, although our sex life seems to have tapered off as I watch more. On a bad day, I feel it’s gnawing away at some human part of me.”

Jane Haynes knows all about the vagaries of human behaviour. For almost 20 years, she has practised as a relational psychotherapist, having trained as a Jungian psychoanalyst. Her consulting room at the Group Analytic Practice in London is discreetly tucked away in a mansion block near Marylebone Road. A box of tissues on the arm of the sofa suggests the hidden dramas that take place here, but Haynes radiates a soothing calm.

Never judgmental, she expresses wry wonder at the tangles in which people find themselves over sex. She used to be an actor. Now she often comes out of sessions with the words of A Midsummer Night’s Dream ringing in her head: “Lord, what fools [we] mortals be!”
She stresses that she speaks as a clinician rather than an academic, and she tells it as it is rather than as it ought to be: “In the last few years, the issue has come up more and more among the women I see professionally. I’m generally talking about women aged 30 to 40 who are outraged to find out that their husband is looking at some website or other. I hear it so often I sort of want to smile.

“In my work, I find it’s men who are bored by straight sex and women who say, ‘Why on earth, when I’ve only been married for a year, does my husband want me to take another woman to bed with us?’ So for me the big question is: what is the easy availability of porn doing to people’s minds and expectations?”

She is reluctant to take an ideological stance, pro- or anti-porn: “In my line of work I try to get people to understand that there are differences between men and women. And it may be that that, in the sexual arena, those differences are very profound.

“I have mainly found pornography to be a male problem. Unlike men, for example, very few women have problems that they’re more turned on by porn than by their partner. But then I don’t think men are naturally monogamous. So perhaps for them pornography is an attempt to come to terms with that without rocking the boat of their relationship. Domesticity is an enemy of the erotic life. I should also say there’s an important distinction to be made between porn used alone and pornography used together as a couple: sometimes consensual porn can actually enhance a relationship because it is shared and not split off into a private world.”

To some men, Haynes argues, clicking on porn is simply a way to pass the time. “It’s a hobby. Once they’d idly play solitaire; now they idly click on a porn site.” Others, though, succumb to addiction: “It isn’t just lonely, perverse men this happens to. It doesn’t just hit because men haven’t got a relationship. A man can be interacting well with his partner, but at the same time he’s addicted to these sites. That can be very distressing for him. Most addictions are to do with internal emptiness, wanting to fill up dead space, and addiction is always destructive.”

One problem is defining where normal behaviour ends and addiction begins - especially when so many people seem to be indulging. One much-quoted American survey labelled someone who looked at internet porn for more than 11 hours a week as a compulsive user. Using a similar benchmark, a study in 2000 by psychologists concluded that 200,000 people in the US were internet sex addicts.

Testifying to a US Senate committee in 1999, Dr Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s sexual trauma and psychopathology programme, said that “even non sex-addicts will show brain reactions on PET [Positron Emission Tomography] scans while viewing pornography similar to cocaine addicts looking at images of cocaine.” The implication is that the human brain is hardwired to crave porn. Given the opportunity, we may all have the potential to become addicts.

I phone Michael. Does he think he’s addicted? “I haven’t bankrupted myself with subscriptions to porn sites. I’m still in a relatively stable relationship. And I’m not seeing a therapist, although I’ve thought about it,” he says. “But, yes, I know there’s an element of compulsion there.”
I tell him about how Pierides’ colleague described pornography as the crack cocaine of the internet. “I don’t feel like a crack addict, more like a binge drinker,” he replies, speaking low so that his wife can’t hear him in the other room.

“I know it’s not doing me good or making me happy at some level and I’d be embarrassed to let anyone know how much time I was spending online looking at porn. It’s like when the doctor asks how many units you’re drinking and you halve it.”

In the US, the debate about porn’s effect has been energised by the publication of Pamela Paul’s book, Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families. Paul, a contributor to Time magazine and The New York Review of Books, describes herself as a liberal who had never really given pornography much thought before she came to write about it. “I set out to do a book that wasn’t politicised because I felt that people’s perceptions of the subject were set in stone.”

Her conclusions, however, echo many of the concerns of old-school feminists and the Bible-bashing right. “In America at least, a veil of political correctness has fallen over the subject. People think it’s either harmless entertainment or that it’s empowering or good for a relationship.”

What gives Paul’s polemic weight is the number of interviews she has done with users and those around them. “My starting point was that we knew about the supply but very little about the demand,” she says. If she thought that porn fans would be another species, she was soon disabused. One of the author’s first finds was Jonah, a religious school teacher who enjoyed looking at images of genital torture.

“I found him on the internet absolutely anonymously,” she says. “But it turned out that he used to work with me. He would have been the last person who I’d have thought would have been into that kind of thing.”

The words of Pornified’s female interviewees make uncomfortable reading. There is Ashley, whose boyfriend is quite open in his use of pornography but finds it hard to maintain an erection. Every man she has dated fixates on porn: “Their view of sex is really skewed. It’s gotten dirtier, raunchier. They want you to do a lot of degrading things.”

Bridget, a 38-year-old accountant from Kentucky, feels rejected by her partner: “When I found out he was looking at all this porn I just felt thrown away.”

Variations on this story recur repeatedly in Paul’s book - and are echoed on hundreds of websites about the subject. Typical are such women as marriedlove, who logged on to the “Husbands and internet porn” discussion board at www.aphroditewomenshealth in February. “I’m often struck in these (increasingly common!) debates over porn, how often female frigidity is referred to as cause for frequency of male porn use,” she writes.

“I’d be happy to engage in some form of sexual play or another with my partner multiple times per day, but he still looks at porn alllllll the time. Maybe I’m unique in this, but I don’t think so.”
In Pornified, however, it’s the testimony of the men that is most striking. “Overall one of the surprising things was the extent to which men would talk to me,” Paul said. Kevin, a 32-year-old photographer from Colorado, describes how, having broken up with his fiancee, he began to go online looking for porn almost daily: “I would want more and more. It wasn’t enough to see bare breasts, it had to be bottoms, then it had to be couple, anal and group sex, multiple men and multiple women, bisexual.”

“More than anything else it was making me jaded,” Kevin tells Paul. “I wasn’t finding pleasure in the little things, with women or with life in general. Things that used to be erotic bored me.”
Harrison, a graphic designer, finds his appetite for porn interfering with his libido: “I’ve gotten used to a certain heightened level of stimulation, and when compared with porn, real sex just isn’t that exciting.” (Jane Haynes knows this pattern only too well: “I see it time and again clinically. Porn doesn’t enhance libido, it tends to drain it, which is what drives thinking men to despair.”)

Pornified is subtle enough not to depict the world in black and white. There are men, couples and occasionally even solo women who profess to love porn, use it, and believe they have no problem controlling any demons it might unleash. But the overwhelming tone of the book is of male melancholy, best summed up by Kevin. “I don’t know if porn was an addiction for me,” he tells Paul, after deciding to stop looking at adult material online. “I don’t think so. But it was certainly a depressant.”

For Paul, the problem with porn is as much about self-harm as it is about objectifying women. “It’s like before [Eric Schlosser’s book] Fast Food Nation or [Morgan Spurlock’s film] Super Size Me people didn’t know junk food was bad. They just thought it tasted good. They didn’t know about the odd chemicals and cooking processes that go into a chicken nugget.” The difference is that where McDonald’s or Burger King can only be found on the high street, the majority of homes now offer the means to view internet porn.

For Michael, however, ease of access is only part of the problem. “It’s easy to think of the internet as just another medium,” he says, “a high-tech version of dirty magazines or films. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.

“To me, the most disturbing thing about the internet is that it has the perfect structure to promote dissatisfaction. You click on an image, it’s not quite right. So you click on another, then another. It’s completely open-ended. If you just keep looking there’ll be that image that’s just right. But the more you look, the less you get turned on by the stuff you did before. So, you have to search harder.”

You don’t have to be a moralist to see a downside in millions of men regularly seeking oblivion in an activity that is doomed to disappoint them and which (if Paul’s interviewees are typical) frequently depresses them.

However you judge it, the scale of this flight into fantasy is strange. To some it may look like both symptom and symbol of a wider malaise, marking a collective failure to connect with one other and engage with reality. Has an addictive, acquisitive society lost sight of what makes it happy beyond the next serotonin-inducing surfing session?

Pornified’s most memorable quote pursues a similar train of thought. “The metaphor of a man masturbating at his computer is the Willy Loman of our decade,” says Mark Schwartz of the Masters and Johnson Clinic, referring to the spiritually rudderless protagonist of Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman. “In a sociologist’s terms, it’s anomie - the completely lonely, isolated man having sex with an airbrushed woman on a computer screen. It’s truly pathetic, even tragic.”

What might this mean for children and adolescents learning about sex? Pamela Paul quotes the feminist writer Naomi Wolf: “Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training - and this is having a huge effect on how they interact.”

Certainly, familiarity with adult material appears to be starting earlier. “It’s not uncommon for children to be talking about internet pornography in the playground,” says Dr Pierides. A 2003 study for the London School of Economics (LSE), “UK Children Go Online”, found that 75 per cent of nine- to 19-year-olds have accessed the internet from home. Of these, 57 per cent say they have seen pornography online, 36 per cent have accidentally found themselves on a sexually explicit website, and 25 per cent have received a pornographic e-mail.

But the effect of such exposure is almost impossible to quantify. “There just isn’t the data,” says Sonia Livingstone, who co-authored the LSE report. “The ethical problems of conducting research involving children are so great it’s hard to identify the areas for concern.”

Unflappable as ever, Jane Haynes counsels against a moral panic. “To some degree, where there is more openness about sex, boys are probably less driven in wanting to explore it. My 14-year-old grandson has seen a lot of porn on the internet and he is completely dismissive of it.
“You could say, though, that we are undergoing a huge experiment. This is the first generation who are flicking on pornographic websites in front of their parents - when it comes to 18-year-olds, you’ll find that a lot in professional families. I think it will take years to know what the implications are of young people having absolutely easy access to this material.”

If the genie of instantly accessible porn can’t be recorked, what can be done about it? For Haynes, used to picking up the pieces, that question is about as useful as asking what to do about the weather. “You can stop people watching pornography in offices,” she says. “You can stop people watching it in schools. But it’s there and it’s only there because there’s such a huge demand for it.”

Marios Pierides - dealing with the sharp end of addiction - prescribes psychotherapy and sometimes drugs. “Interestingly, a number of studies show that some antidepressants can have an effect on the problem,” he says.

Pamela Paul advocates what she terms “censure not censor”. The tub-thumping conclusion to her book is a call to arms against liberal relativism. “Pornography,” she declares, “is a moving target and it’s time we catch up with it. For years, the pornography industry and the pornified culture have told women to shut up or turn a blind eye. They have accused anti-pornography activists, or even those who have dared question their profit equation, of being anti-sex and anti-freedom... Those who are quiet must now speak out.”

For Michael, at least, the process of speaking seems to have been therapeutic. A couple of weeks after our meeting in Trafalgar Square, an e-mail from him arrives. “Cold turkey”, reads the header. With his wife trying for a baby, he’s been thinking about his online pursuits and it seems like a good time to stop.

For the immediate future, he intends to keep his study door open and avoid working at home while she is out of town. The credit card subscriptions have been cancelled and the history of the internet sites visited erased from his computer for the last time, or so he hopes. “One down, several million to go,” Michael drily concludes. “Failing that, same time, same place next year?”