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Friday, April 18, 2014

Guest Post: Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility: fill our own lamps with oil

In the Church at present, we assert that obedience to certain mortal officers is the same thing as obedience to God, and thus, that our salvation will be assured if we obey those mortal officers. Meanwhile, there are teachings in our history which adamantly reject that worldview. Here are a few of them:
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.”(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 237-38).

“If we have presidents or apostles or anybody that we do not like, let us vote them out, and be free men, and cultivate and cherish in our bosoms the principles of liberty.” (John Taylor, 7 October 1872; “Discourse,” The Deseret News Weekly, volume 21, number 48.)

“We have hitherto acted too much as machines, as to following the President. I will confess to my own shame that I have acted contrary to my own judgment many times. I mean hereafter not to demean myself, to not run contrary to my own judgment. When President Young says that the Spirit of the Lord says thus and so, I don’t consider that all we should do is to say let it be so.” (Elder Orson Pratt, 1847; see Conflict in the Quorum, Gary James Bergera 2002)

“We can tell when the speakers are moved upon by the Holy Ghost only when we, ourselves, are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak”. (President J. Rueben Clark, CN-7/31/54)

“Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Nephi 28:3; also see 2 Nephi 28:21, 24-25, which warns us about “carnal security”, and warns us against being complacent in Zion. Might these warnings be referring to excessive trust in mortal officers?)
The basic predicament that exists is as follows: if a member feels that the Holy Ghost is impressing him with the knowledge that a particular policy/doctrine within the Church is not inspired and shouldn’t be obeyed, should he stand his ground, or should he abandon what he feels, and yield to the Prophet?

In August of last year, I presented this question to several thousand of my fellow members via email, and received 401 replies. Of those respondents, 12% answered that they would stand their ground, 26% answered that they would yield to the Prophet, and 62% chose a third answer: that neither option was satisfactory to them, thereby manifesting their unhappiness with of the wording of the question, or simply their unwillingness to answer it.

For a longer discussion about personal responsibility within the Church, see here.

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Raised mostly in Utah, Joe Murff is a transplant to Massachusetts. A technical writer by trade, his avocations include gardening, carpentry, and trying to keep up with his wife and two daughters. After serving a mission in Milwaukee Wisconsin, he attended the University of Utah and completed an English degree.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Handbook of Instructions (1940): Removal of Women's Hats

by Seattle Jon:

My youngest brother gifted me a Handbook of Instructions from 1940 signed by first presidency members Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. and David O. McKay. At 170 pages, the handbook is much shorter then our current versions (Handbook 1 alone is 186 pages) yet contains some interesting rules and regulations - and language - which I'll share over time.

Removal of Women's Hats in Meetings

No specific instruction has been given that women should remove their hats during Church services. Common courtesy would, of course, require that any large hats that obstruct the view of those in the rear should be removed in Church as well as in other gatherings, but where the hats do not obstruct the view, the matter of their removal should be left to the individuals. Ushers should refrain from asking any woman to remove her hat.

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. He has one wife, four kids and five chickens.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MMM Library: Welcome Casserole

by Bishop Higgins:

Brother Royal Samuelson, executive secretary, calls members of the ward for various reasons. This time, to bring over a welcome casserole.

This post was originally published on May 16, 2011.

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Bishop Gerald Higgins is the bishop of the 3rd Ward and the first thing you should know is that Bishop Higgins loves Jesus. Also apple juice, marching bands and things that are soothing, like sunsets, the holy spirit, and hand lotion. Now, hasn't he met you before? Perhaps 2.5 million years ago in the pre-existence. It seems you've changed some since you've taken on this mortal coil. Remember how we could never wear hats in the pre-existence? Too windy. Twitter: @bishophiggins. Blog:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are Kids Sports a Hidden Scourge in Society?

by Seattle Jon:

I'm coaching my son’s little league team again this year, which meant 2+ hour practices three days a week in March and 2.5+ hour games three days a week through the end of June. That's a lot of baseball. And when you spend that amount of time around baseball you meet other parents who also spend a lot of time around baseball. So what do we talk about?

Mostly about how to balance being the supportive parent who spends three hours a day driving all over town to allow our child to pursue his or her dreams without becoming the supportive parent that drives all over town to allow our child to pursue OUR dreams.

I've witnessed a few situations with kids over the last few years that I can only describe as exhausting. Little league baseball wasn't enough, as parents spent thousands of dollars on "select" baseball to get formal training and weekly tournaments, hired local celebrities for private hitting lessons and bought top-of-the-line equipment and gear. Not to mention these kids were also still playing select soccer, basketball or lacrosse. Just imagining the time and money required to make this work makes me want to take a nap then start looking for a second job.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Primer on Craigslist Housing Scams

by LJ:

Between late January and mid-February, our landlord passed away unexpectedly and my husband was let go from his job. One heaven-sent job offer and a month later, we found ourselves back in Arizona with a working car and a (mostly) happy family, but nowhere permanent to live.

We jumped headfirst into the gaping maw of Craigslist and this is where I started to see some patterns in its sad, scammy world, especially the rental listings. I share this hard-earned knowledge with you in the hopes it saves you a few hours of empty searches. Let's start with my favorite rental scam, the Sloppy Listing. 

The Sloppy Listing has three trademarks: (1) a single, grainy photo of the house exterior, (2) wobbly English, and (3) the zip code awkwardly written anywhere in the description.


Home Sweet Home For You !

Description: You don't want to get pass by this beautiful home in the charming 85254 zip code area neighborhood of Phoenix. This house is fine 3/4 acre parcel with 4 bedroom 2 and half bath with granite counters in the bathroom and kitchen area's. It is beautiful home and come by and see today before its going to someone else!

A bonus giveaway to a Sloppy Listing is that the monthly rent is way too low, or any additional photos are obviously pieced together from two different houses. My favorite was a home in "central Phoenix" with all deciduous trees in the front yard and a snow-capped mountain range in the background.

If you pass the Sloppy Listing, you might get lured in by the Sorta Legit Listing. It has (mostly) correct English and pertinent property information, but the photographer has carefully cropped out the cat skeletons in the rafters or the bombed-out meth shack next door. This is where I turn to Google Maps to show me street views of the neighborhood and then SHABAMMO. I can see for myself the scrap lumber pile off the carport that houses a giant scorpion colony.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Speed Reading the Book of Mormon

by Bradly Baird:

At least once a year, our ward or stake establishes an initiative within the membership that encourages everyone to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. Typically, the timeframe for such engagement is spread across the course of a year or over the summer, and offers everyone the opportunity to dive deep into the book and receive the attendant benefits of in-depth study.

Three weeks ago, our ward leadership asked everyone to read the entire book in just 31 days. To complete the task means that each person should be reading at least seventeen pages a day. It is an easily achievable goal, but it does take some time (and sacrifice).

When I first jumped into the exercise, I worried that I wouldn't receive a lot of spiritual value; because I wouldn't have the time to dive deep into the language, notes, and meaning of each chapter. I also wondered what purpose such rapid reading would serve.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Saintspeak 20: The Letter P

by Seattle Jon:

Another installment from Saintspeakthe mormon humor dictionary from Orson Scott Card. Previous installments can be found here. Reproduced with permission from Signature Books.

Paradisical A word that Mormons pronounce a hundred different ways, none of them correct. Just remember the phrase "part of a bicycle" and at least you'll have the rhythm right.

Patriarchal Blessing 1. A private scripture given to young members of the Church so that when they're old they can see whether they were righteous enough for the promises to be fulfilled. 2. The source of the best rumors and folk doctrines in the Church. Rumor had it that Harold B. Lee's patriarchal blessing promised that he would be president of the Church at the Second Coming; it is also rumored that the two prophets who will rise from the dead in jerusalem have already been told who they are in their patriarchal blessings. Everyone in the Church knows someone who knows someone who was told in a patriarchal blessing that they chose their parents in the preexistence.

Patriarchal Order 1. The principle of plural marriage. 2. The only true family pattern, in which the husband and father commands, and his wife and children rnust obey without question, even if the "patriarch" hasn't the foggiest notion of what he's doing. This is necessary because the process of arriving at consensus depends on the heretical notion that two opposing ideas can both have merit at the same time.

Polygamy The family system in which a lustful man surrounds himself with ever younger wives so that none of the older wives ever dares to get too uppity.

Personal Prayer An almost sure home remedy for insomnia.

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