Monday, February 27, 2006

Cannibal Crickets?

Where the heck are those darn seagulls when you need them?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Not Your Father's Gospel Doctrine Manual

The Charleston Post and Courier is carrying a story about one of those "complete idiot" guide books, only this one is about the Church. It is supposedly written by an LDS member; however, the review itself was written by a Protestant pastor (and for the most part is a reasonable review). A blurb:
The book is packed with information, and not all of it suffers from the highly biased opinion of the author. The strongest section is the historical summary of the life of Joseph Smith and the early days of the Mormon church. There is also a lot of interesting information on modern Mormon life. The most difficult section is the first section on theology in which the author goes out of his way to explain why Mormon beliefs are really not that different from the beliefs of other Christians. The reader can decide that question for herself, but as a Protestant pastor, I noticed some significant difference between Mormon and Protestant understandings of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, government of the church and which Scriptures are authoritative. The author also downplays the exclusion of women within the leadership of the Mormon church.
I didn't even know this book existed; but, it sounds interesting. I don't suppose it's about to replace Preach My Gospel; however, you can pick one up at Deseret Book.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Give Us Your Temple . . . But Keep Your Thrift Store

It appears the city council in Draper, UT a south Salt Lake surburb, supports, without reservation, the Church building a Temple to the Most High God in their community; but, they are less than supportive of that same Church building a second hand thrift store: Deseret Industries. According to today's Salt Lake Tribune:

When the LDS Church unveiled plans for a hillside temple, Draper welcomed the idea with eagerness and enthusiasm.

Same can't be said for church-owned Deseret Industries. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has visions of building one of its thrift stores east of Interstate 15 near Draper's main drag.

Trouble is, the City Council is considering an ordinance that would restrict large secondhand-stores (more than 5,000 square feet) to a commercial business park zone west of I-15, away from Draper's retail heart.

"I'm not sure [shopping at the DI] is a service a lot of our residents are looking for, given our demographics," Councilman Jeff Stenquist said.

Earlier this year, the council ordered city staffers to look at creating a zone to regulate secondhand-stores. The result: a proposed ordinance that would prohibit large outlets from all but the business park zone. And thrift stores - with outdoor storage and nighttime drop-off - would be barred from Draper altogether.

The city's Planning Commission endorsed the plan in January.
So, the city council in February 2005 unanimously changed a zoning ordinance to pave the way for the Temple; but, the same council now proposes an ordinance completely banning a thrift store, the only purpose of which is to help those less fortunate in society.

Deseret Industries was founded in August 1938 after the First Presidency issued a letter calling for:
"[C]ontributions of clothing, papers, magazines, articles of furniture, electrical fixtures, metal and glassware" from each household. The letter explained that the project would be known as Deseret Industries, and that the organization would make "periodic collections of these materials from homes…and employ men and women to sort, process, and repair the articles collected for sale and distribution among those who desire to obtain usable articles…at a minimum cost."
Through out the years, D.I. has served a dual purpose: It employs those who are unemployed or otherwise unemployable, and serves as an intregal part of the LDS welfare program helping those who are less fortunate than some of those more economically advantaged residents of say Draper, UT:

The Deseret Industries program was implemented specifically for the benefit of members who could not obtain employment elsewhere, and its initial work force consisted primarily of the unemployed and elderly. It was operated under the umbrella of the Church Security Plan—now Church Welfare services—and continues as an integral part of the Church Welfare system. Church leaders use Deseret Industries not only for employment training but as a resource for clothing and household items for needy members.

The Deseret Industries program still focuses on those with disabilities and those who have other social, employment, and economic challenges and obstacles to overcome. An estimated 60-70 percent of the people in the program are somewhat limited physically, mentally, emotionally, or socially. In 1980, Deseret Industries placed about 240 people into jobs with private companies. In 1989, it placed more than 700.

People needing training are usually referred to Deseret Industries by a Church leader. A program for each person is written with the individual's supervisors and rehabilitation workers. It incorporates personal and work-related goals and is closely monitored. Local Church members sometimes receive callings to help with training and rehabilitation.

Most Deseret Industries programs are more closely related to work adjustment than to skills training. Trainees get the experience of entering the workplace every day, being on time, learning to get along with coworkers, and taking directions from supervisors. Deseret Industries is not set up to train people to be journeymen plumbers or electricians, for example, though people may get experience doing these types of things.

The Draper City website touts the city as:

Draper City is now one of the most desirable areas to live in the state of Utah. New businesses are coming to town. Beautiful homes are being built. Community centers and churches are being added into the mix. And the historic charm remains.
Well, I can certainly see how the city council would not want to tarnish "one of the most desireable areas" in all of Utah with a retail outlet that assists the poor, the unemployed, the disadvantaged, and on top of it all doesn't generate one dime in sales tax to the city coffers. Of course, the Temple doesn't generate much sales tax either--but I suspect it fits into the city fathers' planning ideals more appropriately than does a second hand thrift store. If you have an opinion, and want to share it with the mayor, his email address is

I can't help but think of Christ's point in Matthew 25:35-40. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Big Love Redux--Or, When Will This Polygamy Thing End?

As an update to my previous post on HBO's Big Love, there's still another review out. I've blogged about it over at Bloggernacle Times here. Please stop by and get the latest!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ye Must Pray Always

Throughout my life, I've not been the most consistent saint when it comes praying always. I do believe one of the most powerful sermons in scripture on prayer is 2 Nephi 32, from whence the title of this post comes. It contains some very plain and clear instructions--yet those words, while plain and clear are also very deep and profound--at least to me.

I find if I am losing my spiritual bearings it is almost invariably linked to a lack of serious and consistent prayer. Nephi marveled and mourned because of unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

I find myself in this category all too often. Yet, as Nephi points out, the answer is very, very simple if we but search for it. The answer is prayer. And while in one sense the answer is very simple, at the same time it is also very difficult to put into practice. Why? Because the very forces of evil (which I believe are very real) teach us that we should not pray. And, if we do not pray, we will not be in tune with the Spirit, which is the Spirit that can and will show unto us all things what we should do.

So, as I go about my every day real world life; as I become careful and troubled about the many things in my life, I need to remember to pray always, feast on the words of Christ, and search knowledge. If I do these plain and simple tasks, the promises are indeed great: I will know all things that I should do.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Garden Eastward in Eden

Ok, . . . not exactly that Garden, and geographically it's more toward California's Central Coast; but, it is nevertheless our vegetable garden--at least tomato for this year. Since our weather is still somewhat cool for planting outdoors, we've come up with the idea to plant one plant each in a 20 or 30 gallon garbage tin with potting soil. At nights--still cool here hovering in the mid 30's--we just wheel them in the garage, and in the morning back out again into that warm California sunshine. With a little luck we'll have tomatoes by the time summer actually rolls around. There's nothing better than a toasted tomato sandwich with real home grown tomatoes. Now, if I could only figure out how to grow Utah corn here on the Central Coast . . .ummm.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Book of Mormon and DNA

(Updated) A "recent" article in the Los Angeles Times has returned the issue of The Book of Mormon and DNA to the news media. My purpose in this post is simply to catalogue to the extent possible, in one location as much of the DNA and Book of Mormon discussion that has occurred in the Bloggernacle. If anyone knows of posts, threads or discussions I have missed, please let me know so that I may include them here. I will disclose up front that I believe the Book of Mormon to be what it claims to be, i.e., a Second Witness for Jesus Christ. Therefore, I will retain editorial control over the links I post.

My purpose is to provide links that will impart information for faithful Latter-day Saints to become informed on these issues, and to allow them to study it out in their own minds. Many of the Blog links below are generally faithful discussions of this issue; however, some of the comments are at times critical of the Church's position.

The Los Angeles Times article or here.

Church's Official Response

Bloggernacle Times
5/26/05 Science and The Book of Mormon

2/16/06 DNA

By Common Consent
7/27/04 Another Round, DNA, Zelph and The Book of Mormon

Cordiero's Musings
2/17/06 Book of Mormon DNA and Agenda Driven Science

Dave's Mormon Inquiry
6/3/04 A Man Named Zelph
7/27/04 Losing a Lost Tribe
11/6/05 1491
2/18/06 L.A. Times Story
8/10/06 Nephite DNA

Book of Mormon and DNA

DNA and the Book of Mormon

Hedgehog Blog
2/17/06 Mormons Newsmedia and DNA

Iron Rod
8/5/05 Does DNA Prove Asian Origins

1/15/05 Does DNA Refute The Book of Mormon

LDS Science Review
7/11/05 Tvedtness on DNA and Book of Mormon
7/19/05 Southerton and Murphy Could It Have Been Different
2/16/06 Elder Oaks DNA and The Book of Mormon

Milennial Star
5/27/05 Mediterraneans in New World

2/12/06 Hidden Wisdom of the Gospel
2/17/06 DNA Issue Rediscovered in L.A. Times

5/30/04 DNA and The Book of Mormon
8/8/04 Further Thoughts on DNA Issue
9/11/04 Extinct Indian Tribes . . . Origins of Ancient Americans
10/3/04 DNA Update
1/15/05 When DNA Evidence Is Ignored
2/10/05 The Logic of DNA Attacks on Book of Mormon
2/26/05 Ancient Americans Still a Mystery
3/10/05 Semitic Peoples in Ancient Mesoamerica
5/25/05 New Paper on DNA Book of Mormon Issue
6/15/05 Tunnel Vision--Critics on DNA Challenge to Book of Mormon
9/15/05 Sherem The Foreigner
10/1/05 Church Affirms Divinity of Book of Mormon
10/26/05 Jewish DNA
11/12/05 Another Scientist Takes On Southerton
2/18/06 L.A. Times Discovers Another Old Story
3/12/06 Can Iceland Chill Out The DNA Issue

Mormon Metaphysics
12/21/05 Sunstone and Potter's Hermeneutics

Our Thoughts
7/30/04 DNA Lamanites and Book of Mormon
7/21/05 Southerton Promoting Book Again
2/18/06 Traditional Doctrine

2/16/06 Mormons and DNA

Radio Blogger
2/16/06 Does the Book of Mormon have a DNA problem

Right Side Redux
2/17/06 Old News New Attacks

Straight and Narrow Blog
2/18/06 Lamanite Redux

Sunstone Magazine
December 2004 Logical Structure DNA Arguments by Blake Ostler
May 2005 DNA Strands In The Book of Mormon by Blake Ostler

Times and Seasons
11/25/03 The Curse
11/26/03 Nephites, Lamanites, and Native Americans
11/30/03 Nephites and Lamanites Redux

Whole Note
2/16/06 DNA and The Book of Mormon

Woody's Woundup
2/16/06 DNA and The Book of Mormon

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Putting The “Glamy” Into Polygamy

Yep. I'm sure you've all heard that HBO is planning a “Big Love” celebration in a few short weeks. Big Love is HBO’s newest series, and it’s about polygamy; however, it’s a view of polygamy through a rather distorted Hollywood lens.

I’m no historian, and have no great insights into the early LDS practice of polygamy, other than what I have learned over the years; but, really, three gold rings, one for each wife? Can you imagine the Prophet Joseph, or Brother Brigham sporting a gold ring, for each wife? They’d never be able to even raise their hands!

HBO’s Big Love Gang of 4 (one husband–three wives) are all drop dead gorgeous. Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin are the Hollywood epitome of the modern day polygamous family, all beautiful, all young, all ready, for the all perfect 24/7 polygamous lifestyle. How accurate is this depiction of polygamous life in the 1800's, or even today in the fringe religious groups which continue the practice?

These are HBO's polygamous wives.

Below's a partial sampling of Brother Brigham's actual wives:

How will HBO treat the LDS connection? According to the Deseret News:

Shot mostly in California, some filming was done in Utah, and a lot of local sites — including the Salt Lake LDS Temple — are clearly visible.

Although the fictional family has familial ties to a polygamist clan and its evil leader, they've left that behind and are sort of independent polygamists.

The producers made a point of separating Mormons from those polygamists.
"People do have this misconception. There is a blurring of Mormons and polygamy in the same breath," said executive producer Mark V. Olsen. "I want (viewers) to get it. That is important to us."

LDS Church officials are aware of the HBO project and somewhat concerned.

"We know a little bit about it," said church spokesman Dale Bills, who declined further comment beyond an official statement about "Big Love" in the newsroom/comments section of the Web site: "Polygamy was officially discontinued in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1890. Any church member adopting the practice today is excommunicated. Those groups which continue the practice in Utah and elsewhere have no association whatever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and most of their practitioners have never been among our members.

"The church has long been concerned about the continued illegal practice of polygamy, and in particular about reports of child and wife abuse emanating from polygamous communities today. It will be regrettable if this program, by making polygamy the subject of entertainment, minimizes the seriousness of that problem.

"Through its Los Angeles public affairs office, church representatives have asked the producers at HBO to consider a disclaimer at the beginning of the program, dissociating the practice of polygamy today from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The producers have said they are willing to consider that request."

In fact, a disclaimer will run at the end of each episode stating that the LDS Church does not condone polygamy.
The wrinkle in this production is the supposed "independent" polygamous status of this family. They aren't really affiliated with any one particular religious movement. Still, it will be interesting to see what doctrinal references there are about The Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, from whence the original LDS practice originated. Any mention of these volumes of scripture is going to perpetuate the myth that the Church is somehow still involved in the polygamy practice.

The real question is are you going to tune it a watch? I've thought about whether I will or not. I've liked most HBO series productions. Six Feet Under was one of my favorites. I suspect the suspense will compel me to watch and see how the story line goes. Perhaps I'll do some live blogging on the first show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bloggernacle Times

A quick update note. In addition to blogging here at Messenger and Advocate, I will also be posting over at Bloggernacle Times. So, be sure to take a look the "Big Island" Box 2 over at the Archipelago. My first post is now up.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Torah Still A Bright Spot

Torah Bright see here, the LDS Olympic hopeful kept her golden hopes alive as she advanced to the Turin Olympic final. She apparently had a "gloomy" start, but turned things around in her second qualifying run:

PHEW, that was close. Australia's spectacular snowboarder Torah Bright had to go into the second qualifying run to make the Turin Olympic final, but she did so in style. As the weather warmed up from minus seven to minus one degree, Bright too started to sizzle . . .

Bright, whose name means "Enlightened One", comes from a Mormon family and she is an anomaly in the snowboard world of radical cool. But Bright, whose sunny nature complements her photographic looks, fits right in: if only that some of the men are envious of her tricks and ability. She had skipped most of the world cup season to train for the Olympics and recover from an appendicitis operation, that she said took more out of her than expected. But at her first competition this season at the high profile X Games in Aspen she was second - to Clark.
I have absolutely no idea how they do that stuff . . .but it sure is fun to watch.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Press and Prophets--A Long History In Utah

The battle between the press an prophets is not at all limited to the European press and the prophet Mohamed. America’s own home grown prophets have been lampooned, as far back as the 1870's. Pat Bagley the editorial cartoonist with The Salt Lake Tribune asks:

What do you get when you mix a prophet, unflattering portrayals of said prophet and a furious debate regarding the responsible exercise of free speech? The birth of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Today’s Tribune is tame by even its own historical standards; however, there was a time when it cut its teeth on the Mormon Prophet Brigham Young. Shortly after colonizing the Salt Lake Valley, Brother Brigham taught the Saints to eschew Babylon, i.e., The United States of America. His focus was to become economically self sufficient, as well as politically self sufficient in order to build their Zion out west.

Others within the flock, felt differently, and wanted to open up economic intercourse with Babylon, creating a win/win situation. One of these pro-business leaders was William Godbe, a Mormon in good standing, until he ran afoul of Brigham Young’s counsel of self-sufficiency. In the late 1860's, just as the Saints were settling into the Salt Lake Valley, Godbe and his followers started up a rival newspaper to the Church’s Deseret News. It started as the Mormon Tribune, but soon became the Salt Lake Tribune, the forerunner of today’s Tribune.

The first editions of the Salt Lake Tribune, were not necessarily anti-Mormon as much as they were pro-business; however, that soon changed once a trio of Kansans ruffians took control of the Tribune in 1873:

Excommunicated in 1871, Godbe and like-minded confederates opened a rival newspaper to the LDS Church's Deseret News. It was called The Mormon Tribune, but was soon renamed The Salt Lake Tribune. Initially, The Tribune wasn't anti-Mormon. It trumpeted the virtues of capitalism and integration into the economic life of the nation. But things soon turned nasty. When three Kansans took control of the paper in 1873, the gloves came off. Delighting in poking the dominant culture with a sharp stick, The Tribune never met a polygamy story it didn't like. But its special venom was reserved for Brigham Young.
Hence began a life long rivalry between the official Church publication of the Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune, which for many years was overtly anti-Mormon in its coverage; however, it did seem to harbor a particular hatred for the Prophet Brigham Young, whom it described as:

"He was illiterate, and he has made frequent boast that he never saw the inside of a schoolhouse. His habit of mind was singularly illogical, and his public addresses the greatest farrago of nonsense that ever was put in print. He prided himself on being a great financier, and yet all of his commercial speculations have been conspicuous failures. He was blarophant and pretended to be in daily intercourse with the Almighty, and yet he was groveling in his ideas and the system of religion he formulated was well nigh Satanic.”

These descriptions of Brigham Young, make the recent cartoon caricatures of Mohamed seem mild by comparison. The Mormon response, in comparison to the lunacy of some Islamic fundamentalists, was also rather mild:

This being America, The Tribune was free to print material insulting to a revered prophet (it was also apparently free to make up words like "blarophant"). The days when Mormons would spill type into the street for such an offense were apparently over.

For years Mormon umbrage at a free-but-irresponsible press was limited to sermons urging members to subscribe to the Deseret News and not that scurrilous anti-Mormon rag. My grandmother remembered hearing such admonishments in her East Millcreek ward. She said it made sneaking a peek at the Trib just that much more of a guilty pleasure.

Even today, there is a distinct flavor and feeling amongst some within the shadows of the everlasting hills between the two Salt Lake daily newspapers. Still, how refreshing the Mormons of yesteryear or even today do not take to the streets burning beehives in effigy for perceived assaults by the press against revered religious figures. Certain folks in Islam should take note.

Update 7:15 a.m. A quick question for Pat. As I recall you prepared for your career by lampooning some pretty funny cartoons at the Daily Universe at The Lord's University, about the same time I attended. So, how on earth did you end up at such a heathen publication as the Salt Lake Tribune? Does your bishop and stake president know about this?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Mormon Massachusetts?

The Associated Press is running a story dated today claiming that the Church is making great strides in arguably the most politically liberal state in the country, Massachusetts. It is also a very strong Catholic stronghold. According to the AP, Church membership in Massachusetts between 1994 and 2004 climbed 56% from 14,840 to 23,161 members. Wards have also grown from 15 in 1980 to 39:

Progress can be slow for emissaries of a culturally conservative faith in a liberal, heavily Roman Catholic state. But persistence has had rewards. Statewide, church numbers show Mormons gaining a foothold that local church leaders believe will grow much bigger.

Between 1994 and 2004, Massachusetts membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints increased 56 percent, from 14,840 to 23,161. That's tiny, compared to the state's 3 million-member Catholic church. But it approaches the 33,400 state membership of the Unitarian Universalist Association, whose roots in Massachusetts go back to the 18th century.

Mormons now have 39 congregations, or "wards," in the state, compared with 15 in 1980. To the west of Boston, the only Mormon temple in New England has a granite grip on a hill in the suburb of Belmont, home to perhaps the church's most prominent member: Gov. Mitt Romney.
Shortly after the Church was organized, it had a 400 person congregation, that disbanded after the Prophet Joseph’s martyrdom. Church membership did not have any significant numbers until approximately the 1960's. Now, many of the LDS intellectual elite are supposedly migrating to the prestigious east coast universities in Boston:

In the mid-1800s, Boston was home to a 400-member Mormon congregation, at the time the largest in the eastern United States. But it disbanded shortly after the slaying of founder Joseph Smith in 1844, when Mormons fled widespread persecution with a mass migration to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

It took more than a century for Mormons to return in notable numbers to Massachusetts in the 1960s. Ulrich said the church in recent decades has cultivated an "intellectual elite" at church-run Brigham Young University, which has been drawn to the Boston area's renowned universities.

"We're probably importing a lot of people," Ulrich said.
Of course Governor Mitt Romney’s connection to the Church is likely to have some impact on making the Church better known in the state. I’m not certain the Church is likely to sustain a 50% growth rate every decade; however, it does seem as though we are making great strides in the northeast, where the Church traditionally has not had a very strong showing.

LDS Snowboarder Bright Spot In Winter OIympics

Torah Bright, an LDS Australian snowboarder is about to take the Olympic games by storm. Several media sources are carrying this article all over the world, including The Weekend Australian:

TORAH Bright has been taught by the Mormon scriptures to expect great things in her lifetime and she expects no less than to win Australia its first Olympic snowboard medal on Tuesday.

In a sport renowned for anti-social behaviour and grunge clothing, Bright is a breath of fresh mountain air. She is a beautiful, non-drinking, non-cursing 19-year-old who reads her spiritual literature every day.

One of five children brought up in a Mormon household in Cooma, at the foothills of the NSW Snowy Mountains, the Bright family is protective of its religious beliefs.

Torah already has a great outlook on life, that will take her a long way, not only in the Olympic games but throughout the eternities:

"I have always been taught to expect great things in my life. I go through life waiting for beautiful things to happen and it's a pretty exciting way to live," said Bright, who will get the chance to go for gold late tomorrow and early Tuesday (AEDT) in the qualifying round and final of the women's halfpipe.

"I have faith and I know I've been given a special talent. I've got a new routine and done the training, now we have to see what happens."
All of the Bright children were named specially at birth. Torah’s name, of course, comes from Hebrew, meaning teaching, instruction or law. By her example she will be a great teacher and instructor to millions of youth world wide:

Marion Bright revealed her children were all given special names at birth. "Torah is Hebrew from the Old Testament meaning bearer of great message," Marion said. Torah finds that funny, but her spiritual advisers find it significant.

They believe Torah's message to young people is that you can ride as cool as anyone through life but be a beautiful person at the same time.

It will be more interesting watching the snowb
oard competition knowing a little bit about one of the competitors.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Help Request From The Bloggernacle

A priesthood leader in our ward asked me in an email this morning where to find the account of a vision or dream that Brigham Young had where he was visited by Joseph Smith after his death.
Joseph told Brigham to counsel or teach the Saints to stay close to the Spirit.

I'm not much of a Church historian--though this seems vaguely familiar. Do any of the true Church historians out there in the 'nacle know whether this is a real or mythical account? If real, what is the source?

Thanks for your help!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Armageddon: A Religious War

Events of the last few days have turned my thoughts toward the last of the last days, where the nations of the world will arise to fight a final terrible battle, preceding the Second Coming of Christ. The recent outrageous reaction by some Islamic extremists has already been discussed in other posts. Wilfried has an excellent post over at T & S, and John F. has an excellent post over at ABEV; however, I'm not sure this particular angle has been discussed, which is the purpose of my post.

I am not an LDS scholar, author, historian, or latter days expert of any kind. These are just rough thoughts I have entertained over the last few days on the subject.

The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie discussed in interesting detail Armageddon in Chapter 40 of his work The Millenial Messiah, Elder McConkie writes:

In the coming day—a dire, dread, damning day—woes without measure will fall upon men. Pestilence, plagues, and death will stalk the earth. The kings of the earth and of the whole world will gather to fight the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Their command center will be at Armageddon, overlooking the valley of Megiddo. All nations will be gathered against Jerusalem. Two hundred thousand warriors and more—two hundred million men of arms and more—shall come forth to conquer or die on the plains of Esdraelon and in all the nations of the earth. At the height of this war, the Lord Jesus will put his foot on the Mount of Olives and save his ancient covenant people. Of all this we are aware.

Now it is our purpose to show that this war will be a religious war, a war in which the servants of Satan assail the servants of the Lord and those allied with them. The great and abominable church will wage war against everything that is decent in the world and will then be thrown down by devouring fire. The two witnesses we shall call to give extended testimony about this coming conflict with Gog and Magog are Daniel and Ezekiel. Their words we shall accept as law. Some of it will come to us in plainness; other portions of what they have to say will be hidden behind strange names and among unknown nations.
What screams out at me from these two paragraphs is the religious nature and basis for this war. It is inconceivable (at first blush) that religion would or could spark a war that would engulf the entire world. What type of people, would or could possibly be motivated by religious thought, belief, or conviction to engage in such a battle. Well, recent events have given me great pause. I'm sure we've all seen the photographs all over the Internet; but, I think they do speak volumes more than words can possibly describe.

I realize the current controversy does not directly relate to the conflict between the Jews and Muslims; however, the ancient hatred between them persists to this day. Iran's leader has recently called for the extermination of Israel--not an isolated incident. While I'm hopeful that continued efforts to bring peace to the middle east will be fruitful, I'm not at all optimistic. Iran marches toward the acquisition of actual nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The current actions of Islamic extremists demonstrate, at least to me, that any moderate element in Islam, either does not exist, or has no sway over the more militant extremists, who reign with blood and horror.

Elder McConkie continues:

Ezekiel gives us another view and perspective of what shall be when the armies from the north invade the glorious land. This is the religious war of which Daniel spoke. It is a holy war in which emotion rules and ways of worship are at stake. It is a war between Christ and his gospel, and Lucifer who sought to deny men their agency even before the world was. In it we shall see Christ come to champion the cause of his people, and in it we shall see the fall of the great and abominable church, which is the church of the devil. She shall fall as Babylon of old fell. Gog and Magog are all the nations of the earth who take up the sword against Israel and Jerusalem in the day of Armageddon. Their identities remain to be revealed when the battle alliances are made. (Emphasis added).
It is chilling to contemplate how we are living in wondrous times. Times where we look around in our every day lives and see the literal fulfilling of many ancient prophecies. I'm not trying to suggest that Islam or any specific Muslim is Gog of Magog. I am not even suggesting that the current unrest is necessarily the fulfillment of any specific prophecy. It is, however, eye opening to me, and gives me greater insight and pause about how real some of the ancient prophecies are, and one day will come to be.

Update: A very good editorial from the Scotsman, exploring some of the deeply rooted religious issues, and others.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dissolving Marriage Via Polygamy

The assault on traditional marriage, and by extension on the basic unit of society, the family, continues, now in our neighbors to the north--Canada. Stanley Kurtz over at NRO has an excellent article on gay marriage, polygamy, and the complete dissolution of marriage. It's a must read for anyone concerned about the legal and political assault on traditional marriage in the West.

Notes Kurtz:

Canada, you don’t know the half of it. In mid-January, Canada was rocked by news that a Justice Department study had called for the decriminalization and regulation of polygamy. Actually, two government studies recommended decriminalizing polygamy. (Only one has been reported on.) And even that is only part of the story. Canadians, let me be brutally frank. You are being played for a bunch of fools by your legal-political elite. Your elites mumble a confusing jargon to your face to keep you from understanding what they really have in mind.
Martha Bailey, a Queens University law professor authored a report advocating the decriminalization of polygamy. This report played a critical role in the formation of the Beyond Conjugality project, which was a report published by the Law Commission of Canada. Kurtz argues the project was really the disolve marriage project. Kurtz' thesis is that the legal and political elites of Canada are actually attempting to abolish marriage completely by making all marriage legal:

It’s like this. The way to abolish marriage, without seeming to abolish it, is to redefine the institution out of existence. If everything can be marriage, pretty soon nothing will be marriage. Legalize gay marriage, followed by multi-partner marriage, and pretty soon the whole idea of marriage will be meaningless. At that point, Canada can move to what Bailey and her friends really want: an infinitely flexible relationship system that validates any conceivable family arrangement, regardless of the number or gender of partners.

But why would Bailey favor that? Simple. Canada’s anti-polygamy laws stand in the way of Bailey’s true goal: the creation of a modern, secular, “non-patriarchal” relationship system that would allow for marriage-like unions in any combination of number or gender. That would mean the effective abolition of marriage. But to get to the postmodern version of multi-partner unions, Canada’s old-fashioned anti-polygamy laws have got to go.
These social/political/legal experiments by the social, legal, and intellectually elite will lead to nothing but the disintegration of the family, which in turn will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. This is the stark warning of modern prophets, seers and revelators as outlined in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It's well worth re-reading.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nauvoo To Commemorate Saints' Exodus

On February 3, 2006 the city of Nauvoo will commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Saints' exodus. According to the Quincy Hearld-Whig:

Nauvoo will commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Mormon exodus with special activities beginning Friday night.

Each year visitors, area residents, Brigham Young University Academy students and missionaries from the Illinois Nauvoo Mission remember the beginning of the historic trek to the Salt Lake valley.

The commemoration begins at 7 p.m. Friday with a fireside meeting in the Joseph Smith Auditorium, 165 N. Wells. The meeting features stories significant to the exodus.

The re-enactment walk down Parley Street, which led to the crossing of the Mississippi River, will be at 9 a.m. Saturday. The walk begins at the Family Living Center, located at the corner of White and Granger streets.

Participants in pioneer dress will carry names of individuals who were part of the 1846 exodus. Participants are invited to wear period clothing, but it is not required.

The remembrance ends at 7 p.m. Sunday with "Gathering in the Lord's Own Way," a presentation by Fred Woods, executive director of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, in the Joseph Smith Auditorium.

All activities are free to the public.

In the fall and winter of 1845, conflicts led Illinois government officials to advise the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to vacate Nauvoo to avoid a civil war. Initial plans called for the Saints to leave in spring 1846, but conflicts intensified. The first ox-drawn wagon, owned by Charles Shumway, crossed the Mississippi River on a flatboat on Feb. 4, 1846.

The Beautiful Nauvoo website notes:

At 7:00 p.m. in the Joseph Smith Academy Auditorium, a fireside will be held on February 3, 2006 to start the commemoration of the exodus of the Mormon Pioneers from Nauvoo on February 4, 1846.

A re-enactmant of the walk down Parley Street will take place on Saturday morning February 4, 2006, beginning at 9:00 AM. Starting at the Family Living Center at the corner of White and Granger Streets, the group will be led by modern members of the Nauvoo Legion and will walk or ride in horse-drawn wagons along Granger Street to Parley Street and then along Parley Street to the river where a flag ceremony will be conducted. Anyone who wishes to participate in either event is welcome to come. As usual, there is no charge to participate. If you desire to participate in the walk re-enactment on Saturday morning, please come dressed for the weather. The re-enactment will take at least an hour
I had no idea there was a formal reenactment of the exodus, or the detail some take in dressing the part in the early Saint's departure from their beloved city. If there is any follow up coverage I will post that as well.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Church and Hate Crime Legislation

The Church apparently has a stand on hate crime legislation, according to BYU Newsnet:

Utah legislators may finally pass hate crime legislation this year, thanks to a language overhaul and a statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abhors hatred, intolerance and abuse of any individual or group," said the brief statement from the church released to The Associated Press. "As it has stated consistently over the last three years, the church does not oppose hate crimes legislation, including (House Bill) 90 as drafted."

This is apparently a local Utah issue; however, a couple of questions arise:

1. Is it really necessary to classify certain crimes as hate crimes, with distinct and differing penalties? Shouldn't penal statutes govern conduct, regardless of the motivating factor? Should one receive a more harsh penalty for murder because the victim was of a certain ethnic origin, religious persuasion, or even sexual orientation?

2. Should the Church really be in the hate crime business? Should the Utah Legislature, or any legislature have to use the Church as a crutch to pass legislation? And, should the Church allow itself to be so utilized?

The Love of Many Shall Wax Cold

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:12.

Six die in shooting spree.

Two North County women were among five people killed at a large U.S. Postal Service center in Goleta during a shooting rampage by a mentally troubled former employee who then took her own life, officials said Tuesday.

Another woman who was shot in the head was reported in critical condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, of Grants, N.M., who had been placed on disability leave after a previous incident at the distribution center, gained access to the facility Monday night by following another vehicle through a security gate, according to Santa Barbara County sheriff's investigators.

Investigators didn't know the woman's motive or whether she had specific targets or just opened fired on the first people she saw, said Sheriff Jim Anderson.

“That's something we're still investigating,” Anderson said.

Sanmarco reloaded her 9 mm handgun at least once during the onslaught, he added.