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Everything posted by Stargazer

  1. It's a VERY labored pun. It evoked a smile upon my first reading, but upon further reflection I didn't think it was all that funny, and I don't really like it. The jokester was trying to pun on immaculate conception and relate the fire to karma or revenge on Catholicism for all the bad things done by it over the millennia. The joke actually sucks. Edited to add: OK, I see that Picard has explained his own joke now.
  2. Umm, "saint" isn't chosen to suggest that members of the church are better in some way than other people. There's baggage associated with the name that originates with the Catholic Church giving enhanced holiness points to those whom it chose to elevate, post mortem, to the level of a special kind of intercessor. But the word "saint" was used in the early church to designate members of the church. The Apostle Paul began his letter to the Ephesians thusly: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: You can find similar usage in other NT verses. The members of the church at Ephesus were not in a special holy state. They were members of the Church of Jesus Christ. And more: 2 Corinthians 1:1 - Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Romans 15:25-26, 31 - But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem... That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judæa; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; Acts 9:13 - Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: Philippians 4:21 - Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. The way I see it, usage of the word saint, from the Latin word sanctus, meaning holy, is a goal, or something that is being striven for but possibly seldom reached in this life. But it designates the common members of the church, whether they are currently particularly holy at a given moment or not. I think it is needlessly contentious to deny the appellation to people you've never met, just because there are a few you've had negative experiences with. Especially since you are a saint in the same way as all other 16 million members of the church. Are your actions always saintly? I know mine are not. But I hope we both aspire to becoming more saintly. 🙂 As should the rest of them, to varying degrees of success, of course.
  3. My late wife liked "Church of Jesus Christ" as a shortened way of naming the Church. I don't think it's all that common, however, among Latter-day Saints.
  4. This is an interesting YouTube video published by CGP Grey, who publishes a lot interesting and informative videos. Are you wondering how the Vatican came to be, here's a quick rundown:
  5. I know my genealogy extremely well on all ancestral lines down to my great great grandparents, and I definitely know where all of them come from. When I did my DNA test (Ancestry.com) I found that the test correlated very well with what I knew already. Ancestry also provided lists of probable cousins, and I found a number of people in the lists whom I already knew as my cousins. This includes a lady whom I am personally acquainted with, who is my second cousin once removed -- a rather distant relationship -- as we share one set of great great grandparents. I wish that it had occurred to me to do DNA testing for my late wife -- we know her genealogy only back as far as her grandparents. If we had had her DNA checked, we might have been able to find relatives who are now unknown to us. Actually, while writing this it suddenly occurred to me that I could get one of her children to do a DNA test! That would work, too, wouldn't it? Wow! But with these tests you can find out things you didn't want to know. The video you posted indicated there are some white supremacists who use the tests to get all warm and fuzzy about being "pure" white. Gosh, I hope they all find out they are part something they don't like, so they can be at war with themselves. That would be soooo precious.
  6. Many people fighting on the side of the Confederacy, perhaps most, were not fighting because they loved slavery or wanted to keep it. The Confederacy itself existed because of slavery (one should examine President Davis's remarks on the proposal of raising black southern regiments if one doubts this), but those who fought on its side were more frequently doing so out of loyalty to their state, or because they believed that the North was endangering their rights as free men. So don't assume that your ancestor was fighting to keep slavery; he might have been, but it's unlikely. Oh, and one of my ancestors fought against your ancestor! My great great grandfather Pvt Christian Stoltzmann was a recent immigrant from Germany, and signed up to fight for the Union as part of the 8th Indiana Infantry. He never got near the Army of Northern Virginia, however, so your ancestor and mine never fought face to face! From the film Gettysburg:
  7. That's lovely! My wife and I just started working at the temple. Allow me to annoy you still further: you're way younger than my daughter! But I've learned that young people can frequently have a freshness of outlook that sometimes caps my experience. Both I, the second counselor, and the first counselor in our elders quorum presidency are each more than twice the age of our president, and our president is actually younger than you (as far as I can tell from this distance). He's extremely competent as quorum president and we both look up to him, even though our church leadership experience is way more extensive than his. If he's the future of church leadership then all will be well. As for you, I've marveled at your insight on many matters over the years, and I'd gladly take advice from you at any time. Not that I need much! 😄
  8. Well, that can be taken two different ways. It might be more accurate to label my feelings on the matter to be my conscience, and my clear conscience leads me to believe that is what the Lord feels about it. In any case, I don't think the Lord is up there counting every last minim; I believe he's up there weighing the heart. On the other hand, it would be rather difficult to believe that the Lord felt that paying 5% was an honest tithe, on the other hand, regardless of what I felt about paying at that rate.
  9. At times in my past I was lax in my obedience to the law of tithing. I would not say that I suffered any misfortune as a result, but I did feel a consequence: feeling dishonest before the Lord and ungrateful. I feel much better about myself and my relationship to the Lord when I am faithful in this respect.
  10. Well, that would be apt, except for the fact that under Marxism, as practiced, all property, including labor, belongs to the State. I remember hearing the proverb under Communism in the Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work." Marx was a lying fatherless piece of excrement. If he isn't roasting in the fires of hell right this minute it's only because hell doesn't exist. His "philosophy" led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, by proxy. Mass murderers like Genghis Khan deserve more consideration -- at least they committed their murders while facing their victims.
  11. I know we've hashed this around before, but it's a fun subject, so... 🙂 Besides, I'm interested in your thoughts, as you've always seemed to be a thoughtful person whose contributions here I enjoy. Of course. This doesn't answer anything I raised, so is this to be understood as at least partial agreement to some of what I wrote? That sounds very community-spirited, Scott. But you either didn't read, or chose not to address the concepts I was proposing, because you don't answer them at all. As for fear of consequences, please don't tell me that the potential consequences never enter your mind. One has to be careful with taxation, because an innocent mistake or misunderstanding can land you in just as much hot water as intentional cheating. You are aware that a business is permitted to deduct expenses such as light and heat in the calculation of taxes owed, right? Yet the business cannot say that it hasn't received value for what it has paid, and these expenses directly benefit the life of the business. Why then is the business permitted to deduct these expenses? The business should be paying taxes on the gross, not the net, according to the logic you propose. I don't disagree with you, as to the necessity of taxation -- even if I say that taxation is theft. Some theft is perhaps necessary. Yet the pooling of resources with those of your fellow citizens is done as a community, and you have an effective voice in its administration at the local level. And by the way, I happily tithe the property taxes I pay to support the schools and local government. I actually approve of the federal government maintaining a standing military force to protect us from foreign enemies, and many other things that the federal government constitutionally does. And the state and local governments, too. We needn't discuss here the things those governments do which are extra-constitutional. My post that you were answering here actually pertained only to the federal income tax (and state income tax, if I were in a state that had it, which I'm not). Your response has intermixed that with local taxes. I'd really like to separate them, because to me they represent different classes of taxation. I've explained above about why I agree with part of what you're saying here. It's just the income tax I don't tithe on, because while I could sell my house and live in a tent on public land (such as the homeless tent city in my hometown) and thus avoid property taxes, I can't avoid income tax, except by not working. That's why I consider the income tax a "cost of doing business." In short, I CAN'T work unless I pay income tax -- at least I won't be able to keep it up for long, once the government has tracked me down. This is why I believe that tithing can legitimately and honestly be calculated on the net after income tax. If this were not so, then Saints who live in countries where the income tax rates go up to extremely high levels would actually be paying WAY over 10% of the income the government allows them to keep. Granted that most high-tax countries reserve their highest rates for those earning tons of money, and thus they should be able to survive on what's left over -- the principle is the test, in my opinion. What if the government decided that at your income level they could confiscate ALL of it -- unlikely, I know -- where would the tithing-on-the-gross be then? You can't tithe on what you can't have. I am pretty sure you will disagree with me. But do you at least understand where I am coming from? I do wonder about one thing. Do you believe taxpayers should pay taxes on their gross income, rather than their adjusted gross income? Or in other words, do you believe they should voluntarily eschew taking deductions? If not, why not? Wouldn't that better support our government and our community? Just because the government allows you take those deductions, it doesn't require that you do so. That's one of my gripes with the likes of Warren Buffet complaining that he's paying a smaller percentage of his income in income taxes than his employees are paying. Instead of complaining about it, why doesn't he just pay more than he's required to by stopping taking the deductions allowed to him! Why advocate the government take more from others when he himself appears to be unwilling to pay his self-assumed "fair share" voluntarily? Of course, I don't know if he does after all voluntarily take fewer deductions than he's entitled to. If he pays more in income tax than he's required to, that's fine, but he can jolly well stop advocating that others be taxed at higher rates. Maybe he should start a voluntary movement advocating the super-rich to forgo taking deductions. I'd support him in that. As long as it was voluntary.
  12. That's actually a good way of looking at it. I have no objection if someone wants to so regard it. I look at it differently. If a merchant receives $10 in an exchange for an item that he bought for $5, shouldn't he regard the original cost of the item in the same way your suggest for the tax? If he hadn't spent the $5 then he would not have the benefit of being able to sell it and thus profit from it. And all the items in his shop contribute towards his income in a synergistic fashion that would not have occurred if he hadn't first spent the money to buy them -- because if he hadn't spent that money for his stock in trade, nobody would be exchanging money with him for that stock. So he should tithe on his gross, right, and ignore cost of goods sold, because his goods return value? Even more to the point, if a businessman pays money to his service providers, such as telephone, electricity, water, insurance company, and stock broker, he is clearly receiving value for what he pays, and thus he should tithe the money he pays to those providers, right, and not deduct those expenses from his increase? Another one: if a protection racket ring forces you to give them a "cut" of your receipts in exchange for not burning your business down, and incidentally prevents other criminals from victimizing you, should you pay tithing even on the money you pay to the ring, since they are providing a service? My answer to the matter of taxation is this: it is a cost of doing business, which, if you could, you would avoid paying. In other words, if I am forced to pay it, it has nothing to do with my increase. Likewise for the business, if I must pay for the goods or the services in order to stay in business, because it is the cost of doing business, then it is not part of my increase. There was a time when there was no federal income tax. Yet people still received value from the federal government. Because the government financed itself in other ways. Now they insist they must take money from me that they did not earn. I don't care if they passed a law saying they could: they don't have a right to my labor. I pay it of course, because the alternative is unpleasant. Taxation is theft, I sincerely believe, and I pay it because I am forced to. I'm sure you believe differently, and I have no beef with you about it. But to me, taxation is a cost of doing business, even for an individual working a job, because if I don't pay it I get to go to jail.
  13. And your point is? Sorry, not clear about why this is relevant.
  14. The only way to pay less tithing is to have less "increase". Paying 9% is not tithing; it's just a donation. I know the bishop puts it down as "part-tithe", but it really isn't. It's like pregnancy: you're either pregnant or you're not; there is no semi-pregnant. By the same token, if you're not paying 10% of your increase, then you're not tithing. On the other hand, do we get extra points for paying 11%?
  15. That's going back a ways to drag this thread out of dormancy! And for your first post, too! How did you happen to come across the board? Anyway, before I retired I did not tithe my federal withholding, because I considered my income tax to not be my "increase", but I tithed any tax refund. I also didn't tithe my Soc Sec "contributions" because I knew I would be getting that back, and after receiving back all my "contributions" I would eventually be getting money I hadn't ever "contributed." So when I retired, I began to tithe my monthly SocSec income -- and I treated my employment pension the same way, which was not to tithe my contributions until I started getting them back after retirement. And you're right, it is between you and the Lord.
  16. Actually, there is a book, "Mormonism for Dummies"! I don't know how reliable or accurate it is.
  17. I like referring to our RS president as President <surname>! She always looks a bit perplexed at this, but I still do it.
  18. While I was a ward clerk, the bishop asked me to serve as the ward historian. Should I have been an actual historian? My function in that calling was to collect information about things happening in the ward, including from the secretaries of the various organizations, and record them for the purpose of sending to SLC every year. But I couldn't have answered every question about what happened in the ward since its founding. It's easier to call him Church Historian. Would it make any difference to someone who is angry about church history if the church historian was actually called "managing director of the church history department"? Titles of officers in many fields often imply things about the officer that may not be the case. For example, in most counties in the United States there is the office of Coroner. Coroners are in charge of death investigations. Qualifications for the office vary. Sometimes the Coroner is an appointed position, sometimes an elected position. In my home state (Washington) it's an elective office, and practically anyone can be elected to it, including people who aren't medically trained at all. Unless they're qualified medical examiners, Coroners don't do autopsies. Their main job is management of the Coroner's office, and the supervision of medical examinations. It's normally a political office. Expecting a Coroner to know everything about death investigations is unrealistic. Even functional specialists don't know everything.
  19. Jeeze. Just because some white supremacist says that it might be arson doesn't automatically mean that it wasn't arson. I agree that nobody should be making unfounded assertions, and especially shouldn't be touting them as true when nothing has been officially concluded, but given the current spate of church burnings and descrecrations which have been going on in France, it is entirely reasonable to suspect that the blaze may have been intentional rather than accidental. That was among the first thoughts that occurred to me, along with the opposite, namely that as an active worksite an accidental fire was very likely. The second thoughts I had were these: there would be all kinds of unfounded speculation that the fire was deliberate and some of the speculators would say who they thought had done it; there would also be those who were pretty sure that there would be plenty of unfounded speculation about the cause of the fire, and some of these folks would bend over backwards accusing those making speculations of being bad people for having those suspicions, and accusing them of promulgating conspiracy theories. It is a fact that the fire MIGHT have been deliberately set. It is also a fact that fire MIGHT have been an unfortunate accident. There are grounds for preferring one alternative over the other. Just because you disagree with someone over the cause doesn't make them a conspiracy theorist.
  20. Well, this confirms one thing: the Second Coming won't occur before December 2023!
  21. In our ward in Washington state there was an older inactive couple, they were only names on the ward list, and had never been to the temple. The wife had formerly been Catholic, and after her parents died she decided to rejoin the Catholic Church in their honor. So she put in her resignation and started attending weekly mass. This apparently put the husband in mind of his testimony, which was still there, so he started attending our ward, got active, and went all out to be an exemplary member. Meanwhile his wife attended weekly mass, but after the initial pleasure of going back to her roots it all began to pall on her. She just wasn't getting what she formerly had out of it. Eventually, she started attending church with him, and then her testimony started coming back. Finally she went to the bishop and asked to come back. She was required to wait a year, but she did and was then rebaptized -- by her husband. At some point they went to the temple, received their endowments and were sealed as husband and wife. As the ward clerk at the time I got to watch the whole thing, and it was very uplifting. They're both gone to the next place now, but they stayed active and enthusiastic to the end. Listening to them speak in church was a treat. So, never say never. And even if you resign, you can come back. But always, always, always, treat those who leave or doubt with respect and friendship. You're not supposed to drive them further away, but if you have to send them off, send them off with love and a welcoming heart.
  22. That might be because it was new to you, also because some of those denominations only do it occasionally and when they do they go whole hog on the ceremony. Ever been to a Catholic High Mass, such as at Christmas? Wow, it's impressive.
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