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smac97

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About smac97

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    My name is Spencer Macdonald

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  1. I did not take the previous remark as any sort of slight against myself, or even as a real condemnation of the legal profession. Attorneys are understandably, or at least should be, fairly self-deprecating. Our profession involves resolving disputes between parties, but it also allows for plenty of opportunities for vexatious or other inappropriate conduct. Hence the proliferation of lawyer jokes. In an ideal world, (such as during the Millennium), it is my hope and expectation that attorneys will not be needed in the same way they are needed now.
  2. BYU Caffeine is APPROVED - Breaking news!

    Obliquely accusing BYU of "blaming women for the sexual assaults" is "light-hearted fun"? Rape is a serious subject. Right. Publicly accusing BYU of "blaming women for the{ir} sexual assaults" was intended as a compliment. -Smac
  3. BYU Caffeine is APPROVED - Breaking news!

    It sure would be nice to have a lighthearted thread once in a while. One in which the LDS Church is teased but not ridiculed (or disparaged / attacked / insulted / maligned). Yep, it sure would be nice, but nope. You had to come along and kill the fun. -Smac
  4. BYU Caffeine is APPROVED - Breaking news!

    That Rubicon was crossed a long time ago: Granted, it's Karl G. Maeser instead of Brigham Young, but he A) founded the school, B) originated the emphasis on "honor" at BYU, and C) had a beard. -Smac
  5. BYU Caffeine is APPROVED - Breaking news!

    We need a neologism for this. How about the Popocalypse? -Smac
  6. Professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander, both tenured teachers of law holding endowed chairs (at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of San Diego Law School, respectively), jointly wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer column “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.” In the column Wax and Alexander articulate the social practices at the heart of middle class America from the late 1940’s through the 1960’s: This sounds like it could be a checklist of repeated and ongoing counsel we have been receiving from General Authorities for generations now. The interesting thing here is that, in the main, the negative aspects of this old-fashioned "bourgeois cultural hegemony" ("racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism") were incidental, not integral to it. That is to say, this "bourgeois cultural hegemony" can shed these ugly attributes and exist and function beautifully. Perhaps the trickiest part would be sorting out gender-based employment v. stay-at-home issues, but this would be a decision for the individual married couple, not an implicit mandate imposed on them by social expectations. The response to the foregoing op-ed piece has . . . not been uniformly positive. See here (quoted here): More here. I was, you should know, being a bit tongue-in-cheek in the title of this thread. These law professors are not espousing LDS teachings as such. They are instead teaching what they call "bourgeois culture," which just happens to align in many ways with LDS culture. Not perfectly, of course. We Mormons go a bit beyond the constraints of "bourgeois culture" by continuing to proscribe extramarital sex (we limit not only kids to marriage, but also the activity that leads to kids). But other than that, the cultural behaviors espoused by these professors seem to be congruent with reducing/avoiding/eliminating much of the dysfunction that is infecting our country. From the op-ed: I think that's right. Thoughts? -Smac
  7. From the Salt Lake Tribune: I think the comparison to the U.S. Constitution is apt. I also think it demonstrates just to central The Book of Mormon is to our faith, and how committed the Church is to it. D'oh! According to Westegg.com, $2,500 in 1903 dollars is equivalent to $67,727.29 in 2016 dollars. I'm not sure I understand the "game-changer" remark. I also wonder how one goes about determining the value of a singular artifact that has tremendous "value" to a very, very small group (the LDS Church (and/or a few of its wealthiest members) and, perhaps, some of its schismatic sects), some substantially less value to a larger-but-still-very-small group (historians/museums), but pretty much no substantive value to anyone else. Thanks, -Smac
  8. A Prophet of God

    Yep. Here's a chronology. There was a 50-year gap between the canonization of OD-1 and D&C 138, and yet the Church carried on during that half century. And there was a 28-year gap between OD-2 and D&C 138, and then a 43-year gap between the D&C 136 and OD-1. And yet the Church continued on. I think the same can be said for the Church post OD-2. Thanks, -Smac
  9. A Prophet of God

    Yes. Hence we have the principles of scripture study, and faith, and Moroni's Promise, and so on. Yes, it is. Angelic ministrations in this dispensation are unique. Prophet and apostles are unique. An open scriptural canon is unique. The Book of Mormon is unique. I do not doubt that there are many good and decent people and faith groups who seek - and receive - guidance from God. But they don't receive such guidance in the same way, about the same things, through the same means. I've never been into competing with other faiths. I am content to let them share their views, and for me to share mine. You speak as if these are two distinct categories of things. They aren't. Again, review what Pres. Nelson wrote. Guidance was "received by the prophet" (revelation given to President Monson) that was then "decided {on} by committee" (the ratifying and unanimous vote of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). It's all part of the same process. Not sure. The Official Declaration-2 was declared by Pres. Kimball to be revelatory. But he declared it in a letter which was read during General Conference by Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, who was the First Counselor in the First Presidency at the time. So by the reckoning of some of our critics, it doesn't count, I guess. I'm not that rigid. Pres. Nelson declared the November 2015 policy change to have had revelatory provenance. He said it to the world. In an official setting and in his official capacity as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. I'm good with that. I am also comfortable that the Brethren are being led by revelation regularly, and that they are providing assurances of that regularly. I am not altogether comfortable with the decades-long absence of further revealed scripture, but I attribute that either A) less to the General Authorities mucking things up and more to the Saints not sufficiently having their act together; or B) to the timing of the Lord, as I don't think He operates on our preferred timetable. I would like to see the Proclamation canonized. It would, I think, help members who vacillate on the issue of same-sex marriage. I would also like to see further revelatory guidance regarding same-sex attraction generally. Such things wouldn't help the got-the-bit-in-their-teeth types who are bound and determined to ignore/defy the Brethren on this issue, but it could be helpful to those who somehow think that same-sex behavior is compatible with the Law of Chastity. These are controversial issues (made more controversial than they need to be, I think). So I will pray for such guidance, but then leave the eventuality up to God. It's His show, after all. Thanks, -Smac
  10. Curious about cafeteria doctrines

    I think there is a big difference between picking/choosing "teachings" and picking/choosing "opinions." I feel much more constrained by "teachings" (as in doctrinal, counsel-that-falls-within-the-properly-used-discretion-of-the-Brethren sorts of things). "Opinions"? Not so much. But then, the Brethren in 2017 are much more cautious about conflating "opinion" with "doctrine," so this does not seem to be a very big problem. The Brethren have been backing off dos-and-don'ts lists for quite a while now. Not really. Okay. I think martinet-style bishops are few and far between. I suppose. Rebellion of some sort or another is part of growing up. I don't think we'll see a paradigm shift in the Church. We'll just see a more moderated, compassionate, others-may-feel-differently-but-the-doctrines-of-the-Church-remain-unchanged type of approach. I also think the sociopolitical folks who are becoming hardliners on gay rights (of the "screw your personal beliefs, just bake me a gay wedding cake or I'll sue you into oblivion" variety) are going to regret having moved away from the live-and-let-live approach that, in the end, would have probably made more inroads. As it is, these hardliners are creating an either-you-side-with-us-or-you-side-with-your-church-and-we'll-label-you-a-bigot-and-shun-you-until-you-cave-in conundrum. Nobody likes a bully, after all. And plenty of LDS youth really do enjoy being in the Church. So when faced with this conundrum, and when they see the bullies behind it, I think a lot of such youth will retrench into the Church, and may even become more devoted to the principles of the Restored Gospel. Such reactions may be a form of "rebelling" against the bullies, as it were. They may see the bullies as "the world" opposing the Church, which vindicates the Church's position because A) that's what the prophets and apostles have been telling us for generations, and B) the bullies, having abandoned any pretense of pursuing truth or justice or basic fairness, and having no supporting rationale for their opposition to the Church except parrot-like repetitions of "H8ters!" and "Bigots!", will be exposed for that they are. Thanks, -Smac
  11. Curious about cafeteria doctrines

    If "cafeteria" describes Mormons who do not accept and live up to every facet of every doctrine and practice in the Church, then it essentially described every Latter-day Saint ever, and hence has no utility at all. I don't know what that means. So youth leaders wink and chuckle about dirty jokes, fornication, boozing and weed? What is a "letter of the law" type? What is "that type of thinking"? Two of the biggest areas of problematic adolescent behavior pertain to the Word of Wisdom (alcohol, drugs, etc.) and the Law of Chastity (fornication, porn, etc.). I haven't seen any substantive change in how these standards are presented to today's youth as compared to my experiences oh-so-long ago. Hmm. I have not seen that in my ward or stake. YMMV, I guess. "Progressive" in this context seems to be used more as a sociopolitical adjective than a religious one. Mormons are generally sociopolitically "conservative" but theologically/doctrinally "progressive." Thanks, -Smac
  12. A Prophet of God

    Okay. Yes. But we cannot disregard the function of the councils of the Church. Revelation comes through the Presiding High Priest (D&C 28:2-3), but he does not function alone. See here: So the Presiding High Priest is the conduit through which church-wide revelation comes. However, there is, for lack of a better term, a "ratification" function held by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It is declared by the Presiding High Priest, but then must also be unanimously ratified by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see D&C 107:27). So the origins of the doctrine are revelatory, but the councils of the Church still play a mandatory role in the presentation of doctrine to the Church. I think "that claim" needs to include an acknowledgment of the role of the councils. Those councils are guided by revelation and are invested with priesthood authority. That, I think, is the characteristic which distinguishes ours from "any other {church}." No. Not at all. I disagree. The leaders of the Church profess to be guided by revelation, and also profess to have been invested with priesthood authority not found in other churches. Further, the Brethren are called upon to make decisions all the time. All. The. Time. Most are administrative, and hence fall within the parameters of the assigned stewardships in the Church. However, there are times when "decisions" must be made for the Church as a whole. For that, there is a more complex process required (see D&C 107). Recently this board has been discussing the November 2015 policy change regarding same-sex marriage and children living in same-sex-parent households. This, I think, is the "decision" you are alluding to. I think you are hinting that the policy change was "decided by well meaning men doing what they think is their best understanding of the will of God (just like every other church)." Well, the answer to that is "no." President Nelson's made some January 2016 remarks during a worldwide broadcast to the "millennials" of the Church, which remarks were subsequently transcribed and published to the world. In his remarks he clarified how the policy change came to be: These remarks are nearly two years old. So the source of the policy change is clear. There is no good faith question about how the Brethren have presented it, which is as arising from a revelation given through President Monson and sustained by the other members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. You are, of course, at liberty to not believe in the revelatory origins of the policy change as described by President Nelson. Just like we have endless threads about several disputed issues. Personally, I have found these remarks (attributed to Elder Bednar, and summarized by the author) to be a useful resource for considering "what is doctrine and what is policy): An excellent treatise, IMO! Then why start a thread on the subject? I think the Church was quite clear as to the origins of the November 2015 policy change. Very clear, indeed. They can be. See above. Not all church policies are "revelatory." The Church has a policy prohibiting the use of the kitchens in church buildings for the preparation of food (warming and serving, yes, but not "preparation"). I suspect this policy arose based on experience, logistical considerations, facilities management concerns, compliance with city ordinances or other laws, and so on. I do not think that policy was created out of a revelatory experience given to the Presiding High Priest. I also do not particularly care about the origins of this policy. There are times, however, when a policy addresses some issue of significance, such as the Church's handling of same-sex marriage involving members of the Church, and also regarding children being raised in a same-sex-parent household. These policies, I think, probably merit some real explanation and clarification from the Brethren. And . . . that is precisely what we got. The First Presidency issued a letter about it. Elder Christofferson gave an in-depth interview about it. President Nelson explained its origins as being revelatory. They haven't. Thanks, -Smac
  13. Curious about cafeteria doctrines

    I have never considered myself a "cafeteria Mormon." I don't think that Latter-day Saints are obligated to accept every word that comes from a General Authority as binding/doctrinal. This has particular application to various remarks by General Authorities who A) lived in the 19th century, B) were therefore very inexperienced in matters of providing revelatory guidance to the Church, C) at times conflated personal opinion and conjecture with revealed truths, and D) presented ideas/concepts that are not soundly rooted in the scriptures and have not been presented to the Church per the Law of Common Consent. This is why I feel free to entertain various ideas about, say, the geography of The Book of Mormon, or the scope of The Flood, and so on. This is also why I can feel quite comfortable in rejecting the Adam-God theory (most of it, anyway - it was a somewhat amorphous concept). As to the location of the Garden of Eden, we have noncanonical, second-hand statements attributed to Joseph Smith for the proposition that it was located in Jackson County, Missouri. I am inclined to accept those statements as presumptively, but not definitively, correct. And I am fine with members who do not accept them, either presumptively or definitively. In contrast, the location of Adam-ondi-Ahman is a bit more definitive, as its location is attested to in scripture as being in Daviess County, Missouri (D&C 107:53-56;116:1;117:8). My qualm with "cafeteria mormon" is that, for me, it denotes someone who rejects important, foundational elements of our faith, or who actively and flagrantly disobey important commandments. Perhaps before we begin using and relying on this term, we should first understand its definition and connotations. Thanks, -Smac
  14. Says the fellow who has repeatedly accused president Monson of "remaining silent."
  15. You don't, either. It's speculation all around. But I think my speculation is more well-founded. Okay. I'll bite. What do they, in your view, want to hear that has not already been said? I haven't ignored it. I understand that. I understand that. Yes. I get it. I also get that the prophet has spoken on this issue. So have Elder Christofferson and President Nelson. Again, what is it that you think needs to be said that has not yet been said? I've seen this up close and personal, too. So the difference in our perspectives must be attributable to something else. Thanks, -Smac
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