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  1. 5 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

    Have you made this publicly available anywhere? I'd love access!

    What I call my "raw notes" is in a pidgin shorthand that I understand. At least it's searchable (yes, honorary Boomer that I am, I was Johnny-come-lately to the fact that Word docs are searchable. That was an amazing discovery! :) ).

    I sold out at a FAIR conference of my self-published batch of what was going to be volume 1 of a series of books on JoD topics (that one dealt with fallibility, blood atonement, debt, preparedness, and affliction). Volume 2 was going to have the First Vision, Adam-God, Zion society, and missionary work; but, there is really no market for it. People don't really read any more, and if/when they do, it's not old Church "history of thought" pieces. It was well worth it to me for the experience and for me and my posterity, anyway. 

    Here's the introduction to volume 1:



     “Starting Right”[1]

    Getting our Bearings on Journal of Discourses


    Journal of Discourses is a 26 volume work of nearly 10,000 pages that contains material from Mormon Church leaders from 1851 to 1886 (with some earlier material from Joseph Smith). Although it has a certain mystique among interested Mormons and non-Mormons (those who refer to or quote from it), almost nobody has ever read any significant portions of it. Almost all knowledge or use of it is derivative; people quote from it based on others’ quotations from it, not from their own firsthand reading or experience with it. People’s perceptions about Journal of Discourses are accurately parodied (many a true word is spoken in jest) by some of Orson Scott Card’s entries in his Saintspeak: The Mormon Dictionary[2]:


    Journal of Discourses --- A mammoth collection of speeches by General Authorities in the nineteenth century, containing many doctrines that were never taught in the Church . . . Today, however, there is no fear of ill effects from publishing the Journal of Discourses, for only Fundamentalists, anti-Mormons, and historians ever read it.


    Blood atonement --- A doctrine that was never taught in the Church, especially by Brigham Young, Jedediah Grant, and Heber C. Kimball.


    The overriding impression is that there are a lot of strange and contradictory things in Journal of Discourses that are a boon to critics of the Church and hard or impossible to explain (or explain away) by Church members.


    The purpose of this series of books is much larger than simply dispelling these impressions, although that is one of the inevitable effects of looking at the total picture of the content of Journal of Discourses. A detailed look at the total contents in context uncovers an immense and untapped treasure trove of insightful observations, humor, useful explanations, original parables and allegories, and other material that is invaluable for preparing talks, serving in the Church, defending the Church, and simply widening one’s background knowledge of the Brethren during the first decades in Utah Territory. Despite the high quality of the material, most of it is almost completely unknown, even to people who are reasonably well-read in Church history. Much of the material is superior to the shop-worn and recycled quotes and anecdotes that have become mainstays in Church manuals and materials.


    My grandfather gave me his mother’s well-marked set of Journal of Discourses in 2000 to look things up as I corresponded for about six months with an anti-Mormon in Webster, New York (John Farkas). When I discovered how effective using the full text and context with cherry-picked anti-Mormon proof-texts was, I decided to carefully read all 26 volumes and take detailed notes on anything of significance. My increasingly expansive involvement in LDS apologetics gave me a good perspective on things that are useful or important, but my service in the Church and what I was dealing with in Church callings during that time also made me aware of other important applications. During the time I read, compiled and organized my notes, I served as a ward mission leader (twice), elders quorum president (twice), and bishopric member (three times; currently serving as bishop). Once I had what I call my “raw notes” (a large three-ring binder with page numbers and pidgin shorthand notes by volume), I grouped the references into around 100 separate topical categories (e.g., missionary work, Adam-God statements, preparedness, polygamy, priesthood, blood atonement, marriage and parenting, etc.).


    Other topics, while interesting, are too small to build major book sections around. For example, I noticed a recurring thread that convinces me that Sandra and Gerald Tanner got the idea for their book title Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? directly from Journal of Discourses. It’s simply too unique of a phrase, in my view, for them to have independently come up with it without being influenced by it.[3]


    Have they knowledge? Go after it, and you will find an aching void, a shadow instead of substance, words which are wind, instead of realities.[4]


    No doubt many of you have had your portraits penciled upon the canvas by the artist, and after he had drawn the outlines, without filling up or embellishing at all, you looked at it and said, "That is not myself, it does not look like me, it belongs to someone else." But when it came to be filled up and embellished, perhaps you were ready to own it. We have the shadows of things that are, and not the real things themselves, in many respects.[5]


    What do men and women who turn away from the faith, as they occasionally do, turn to? To an empty sound, from a reality to a shadow.[6]


    The religions of the day, independent of their moral worth, are nothing but a myth, a shadow; there is no reality in them . . . Take the other road, and you get a shadow for the time being, and you may think you have the substance, but sooner or later you are left as a feather floating in the air, or worse than a ship upon the ocean, without compass or rudder.[7]


    We have got this kingdom to build up; and it is not a phantom, but a reality.[8]


    In a similar vein, President Hinckley’s oft-repeated statement that the gospel makes bad men good and good men better seems to have been influenced by Journal of Discourses. There are other indications that President Hinckley was well-read in Church history, including some of the more arcane items, like Journal of Discourses, but note how closely this expression parallels items like these:


    What are the fruits of this Gospel when it is received into the heart of an individual? It will make a bad man good, and a good man better.[9]


    There is not a word or doctrine, of admonition, of instruction within its lids, but what agrees in sentiment and veracity with those of Christ and His Apostles, as contained in the Bible. Neither is there a word of counsel, of admonition or reproof within its lids, but what is calculated to make a bad man a good man, and a good man a better man, if he will hearken to it.[10]


    Most topics are more “major” than such “smaller” ones. After identifying major topics, I then determined subtopics within each topic in order to organize the topic for commentary. I then drew upon my notes, files, and research to provide commentary and correlation for the subtopics and quotes.


    While the apologetic applications are obvious, I find the Church leadership and devotional material to be much more important, applicable, and useful. I hope that this book series will make these obscure and unknown insights, explanations, and observations accessible and usable to interested people.


    Journal of Discourses statistics


    Journal of Discourses contains 1417 items, covering 9,776 pages. This total includes seven dedicatory prayers (Salt Lake Temple cornerstones, the Tabernacle, and the St. George and Logan temples), two court transcripts, nine 4th of July orations, eight 24th of July orations, two school opening orations, and a Christmas address to public works employees. 38 of the talks are funeral addresses, and 356 of the talks (25%) are General Conference addresses (including General Conference held in May for a few years and in venues other than Salt Lake City, such as Coalville, Logan, and Provo). [11]


    There are 53 individuals who appear in Journal of Discourses, including 22 who appear only once, and another 16 who gave less than 15 talks. This makes roughly 90% of the material in Journal of Discourses the work of the “Big 15.” Among the “Big 15,” it’s interesting to compare the number of talks with the number of pages each covered:[12]


                                                 Number of talks               Number of pages

    1. Brigham Young                           387 (27%)                           2285 (23%)

    2. John Taylor                                  166 (12%)                           1325 (14%)

    3. Orson Pratt                                  124 (9%)                             1298 (13%)

    4. George Q. Cannon                      111 (8%)                               924 (9%)

    5. Heber C. Kimball                         110 (8%)                               517 (5%)

    6. George A. Smith                            78 (6%)                               422 (4%)

    7. Wilford Woodruff                        67 (5%)                               422 (4%)

    8. Orson Hyde                                    49 (3%)                               272 (3%)

    9. Erastus Snow                                 47 (3%)                               264 (3%)

    10. Daniel H. Wells                           38 (3%)                               243 (2%)

    11. Charles Penrose                          29 (2%)                               222 (2%)

    12. Joseph F. Smith                           24 (2%)                               188 (2%)

    13. Lorenzo Snow                             21 (2%)                               152 (1%)

    14. Franklin D. Richards                   20 (1%)                               130 (1%)

    15. Parley P. Pratt                             15 (1%)                               125 (1%)


    The talks were recorded, with few exceptions[13], by trained stenographers who accurately reported what was said. Sometimes people are tempted, when dealing with criticisms using Journal of Discourses proof-texts, to explain away statements as possibly being recorded or published incorrectly. This is not only not the case, in my view, it is completely unnecessary to ever explain away anything in Journal of Discourses on the grounds that it was inaccurately recorded or reported.


    George D. Watt, a British convert (and the first person baptized in the British mission) was the primary stenographer, and he began the project of publishing collected sermons in volumes in the Church’s publishing center in Liverpool, England.[14] Here is a breakdown of the stenographers and how many talks they were responsible for:


    1. George D. Watt            544

    2. David Evans                  264

    3. George F. Gibbs            177

    4. John Irvine                     135

    5. J. V. Long                       108

    6. E. L. Sloan                        18

    7. John Grimshaw                 8

    8. James Taylor                     7

    9. John Q. Cannon                4

    10. Rudger Clawson            4

    11. James Hart                      3

    12. Julia Young                      2

    13. Leo Hawkins                   2

    14. William Thurbood         1

    15. J.B. Milner                       1

    16. James D. Stirling            1

    17. Masters Feramorz         1

    18. C. G. Ferguson                1

    19. Josiah Rogerson            1

    20. John C. Graham             1


    133 talks cannot be linked to a specific stenographer, and Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse was listed as reported by Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, William Clayton, and Wilford Woodruff.


    Talk venues ranged across the spectrum. While most occurred in various locations in Salt Lake City (various ward meetinghouses, the Bowery, the Old Tablernacle [adobe], the New Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, Big Cottonwood Canyon, temple cornerstones, Heber C. Kimball’s home, Church historian’s office, the public square, the new theater, the council house, the social hall, Utah Territory District Court, and the Young Men’s Literary Association hall), locations in Illinois (Commerce and Nauvoo for Joseph Smith talks), Idaho (Cache Valley, Paris, and Rexburg), and even England (Sheffield; a church conference) are included. Within Utah, locations outside of Salt Lake City appear as venues for talks in Journal of Discourses:  American Fork, Bear Lake, Beaver, Bountiful, Box Elder, Brigham City, Coalville, Ephraim, Farmington, Franklin, Grantsville, Hooperville, Hyde Park, Hyrum, Kaysville, Lehi, Logan, Manti, Mill Creek, Mount Pleasant, Nephi, Ogden, Paradise, Parowan, Payson, Provo, Richfield, Richmond, Springville, St. George, Tooele, Wellsville, and Willow Creek.               


    Make-up of the volumes in this series


    Because I want this work to be as accessible and usable as possible, I chose to divide the commentaries into multiple, smaller volumes. This reduces the printing cost and sales price for each volume, which hopefully will encourage people to decide to buy ones that capture their interest. I also chose to combine two or three major apologetic topics with several doctrinal, historical, devotional, and Church-related topics to give each volume variety in scope and range. This volume includes the topics of blood atonement, affliction, infallibility and blind obedience, temporal preparedness, and debt and credit. Other volumes will include such topics as (but not limited to):


    ---Adam-God statements              ---humor                                                           ---eternal progression

    ---marriage and parenting             ---nature of God                                             ---First Vision

    ---testimony and revelation          ---ministering of angels                                ---seeing God

    ---prayer                                            ---Civil War                                                      ---Stephen Douglas prophecies

    ---returning to Jackson County    ---Constitution hanging by a thread          ---politics

    ---missionary work                          ---blood of Israel                                            ---remnant of Lehi

    ---state of people without            ---Zion                                                               ---priesthood

        the gospel                                     ---blacks and the priesthood                       ---polygamy

    ---doctrine                                        ---background                                                 ---countercharges

    ---prophecies                                    ---Joseph Smith, occult, moneydigging    


    Getting to know the Brethren


    I look back on the years I spent reading, taking notes, organizing material, and sharing good insights or humorous comments with my wife with great fondness. If you read enough of a person’s written or spoken words, you get a good feel for their personality, temperament, and essence, and I feel that I have certain insights into the spirit and manner of both these men and their times and circumstances. I have come away from this project with a greater sense of appreciation for these men, the keys they held, and their unique and personal contributions to guiding the work of the Church in the decades between settling the Salt Lake Valley and the end of plural marriage. When I have shared quotes, stories, and insights from them with others in talks, trainings, counseling, and in personal conversation, people have expressed a desire for “more where those came from.” I think that people and the Church have much to gain by adding the largely untapped and unknown wisdom and insight of Journal of Discourses to their storehouse of reference material.



    I hope you enjoy this book series as much I do, and I hope you find it as useful as I continue to find it.


    [1] Joseph Smith famously noted in the King Follett Discourse: “If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get it right” (History of the Church 6:303). Having a proper grasp of the background and what Journal of Discourses is and isn’t is crucial in fully appreciating it and properly applying it.

    [2] Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1981.

    [3] While I have communicated with and received answers in the past from Sandra Tanner, I never received any response to the question of whether they had these quotes in mind when they chose the title.

    [4] Brigham Young, May 26, 1872. Journal of Discourses 15:42

    [5] Orson Hyde, January 19, 1873. Journal of Discourses 15:304

    [6] Brigham Young, September 17, 1876. Journal of Discourses 18:232

    [7] Brigham Young, June 17, 1877. Journal of Discourses 19:40

    [8] John Taylor, August, 31, 1879. Journal of Discourses 21:8

    [9] Brigham Young, July 11, 1869. Journal of Discourses 13:144

    [10] Joseph F. Smith, April 6th, 1884. Journal of Discourses 25:100

    [11] This was due to raids by federal marshals and many of the Brethren being in hiding.

    [12] Page numbers were determined on a “winner-take-all” basis, with only one person being given credit for each page. This resulted in judgment calls in some instances when two people shared a page.

    [13] The three talks by Joseph Smith are a notable exception. They were compiled using longhand notes by people present: Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton.

    [14] B.H. Roberts made use of the fact that almost all Church materials were published outside of Utah Territory when an association of ministers published a written attack against a General Conference talk by President Joseph F. Smith in 1907. Among other things, the ministers claimed that “the Church deceitfully teaches one thing at home, and another abroad.” Roberts pointed out that all of the references in their review were published and disseminated outside of Utah: “Now where is the Millennial Star published? In Liverpool, England. Where were the Journal of Discourses published? In Liverpool, England. Where was The Seer published? In Washington, D.C. . . . So that your practical charge that we preach one set of doctrines and principles in Utah, and quite another in the world, and that we’re trying to play the double game of having one doctrine for home consumption and another for proclamation abroad, is as shallow as it is untrue” (B.H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints [Maasai: Provo, 2002], 553-554).

  2. The more recent version of Duane Crowther's "Life Everlasting" contains journal material and NDEs from non-Mormons as well. What is striking is that the spirit world seems to be what people expect it to be. That is, it's not immediately a big Aha! moment ("The Mormons were right!"). Missionaries there will run into the same obstacles as here, as people are still who they were when they were here. I believe that even atheists and people who don't believe in a hereafter will be able to explain it away to themselves, if they want. 

  3. 8 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

    Literally for decades (possibly forever?), and yet my first bishop here insisted on ignoring it ...

    It wasn't codified until relatively recently (last several years or so), but it's been in many people's "unwritten order of things." 

    I can say that white-shirt, suit wearing men like me are in the distinct minority now --- other than men older than 60 (I'm 46). I think "old fossil" holdouts are being swamped by shear numbers. 

  4. On 6/21/2022 at 12:16 AM, mfbukowski said:

    I agree. But all the standard works would take a little while.

    But once in a lifetime?

    There are worse things than devoting a lifetime to scripture study AND be a working stiff like most of us.   Yep.

    There could be worse things.  But could you remember that quote in Moroni from 20 years ago when it paralleled something in the OT?

    Tough call imo.

    When I was first called as a bishop in 2007, my executive secretary gave me the Interpreter's Bible. It is a twelve volume set, with each volume being more than a thousand pages. A few months into my calling, my wife was hospitalized for months and had several major surgeries. Our kids were really young at the time, and when they were down for the night, I started reading and taking notes. I visited her daily, but also had a lot of alone time outside of the little kids, church, etc. (I exhausted my paid leave and then was on FMLA for a few months). I finished it in 2018, so it took me about 11 years. Now, I'm working on putting those notes into an index I can use. It was helpful when I did three radio shows on Mormonism (the "no other gods beside me" passages from Isaiah figured prominently in one of the episodes), and there is a lot of good exegesis in those twelve volumes. One of my favorite parts is the sermon notes, which have observations, insights, and stories (including some neat historical stories from around the world) that apply to the verses at hand. It's not uncommon for there to only be two or three verses on a page (KJV and RSV side-by-side, because the rest of the page has exegesis and sermon notes). There is a lot of really good talk material in there, but it can be hard to locate until I've fine-tuned my index. 

    But, it's not a race. It took me about 12 years to read and compile my Journal of Discourses index, and that's also about 10,000 pages. 

  5. 6 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

    He would not need to answer - presumably he has prayed about the situation in HIS STAKE and made a decision.

    All it would do is appear to be questioning HIS particular revelations on perhaps some situation you have no idea about.

    Yes. Based on the details given here, this is something that is completely at his discretion (the makeup of the EQPresidency). He presides over it, and he can approve or deny whomever he wants for whatever reason he wants. Most (wisely) don't run roughshod over the ward recommendations, but it is completely his prerogative.

    7 hours ago, bluebell said:

    It might be. Like, if a SP had a personal preference that all aaronic priesthood holders wear white to pass the sacrament.

    Or if they preferred that everyone face towards the temple when setting anyone a part for a calling.

    Or, if their preference was that all high councilors must be married.

    The first example has specifically been no-no'd by the handbook. The second example is just weird (I know that it's happened, but probably not very often).

    The third one is similar to the case at hand. The stake president decides whom to call into the high council, and he can have a personal requirement that they all be married, if he wants. There's nothing contra-handbook about that. 

  6. 20 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

    These are ward callings that the Stake Presidency gives approval for. They ask for recommendations. We are on the fourth group of names I think.

    I misunderstood. So they're micromanaging ward callings (other than EQpresidency)? 

    Yeah, that's different. 

  7. 11 hours ago, MikeFoxtrot said:

    I don’t want to assume, so would you mind explaining the alternative model (if any) that you accept?

    And does this alternative model do a better job at explaining how biological life operates?

    Sure. My model is Brigham Young's explained throughout Journal of Discourses (passim). The world was created in creative periods of indeterminate length. Adam and Eve were born on another world and brought here, as were plant and animal life.

    "How biological life operates" (i.e., cellular respiration, metabolism, protein synthesis, replication, reproduction, etc.) is understood exactly the same way under both models. 

  8. 1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

    You must be misremembering the conversation. Tachyons are hypothetical only (no evidence for their existence). Physics absolutely accepts c as a hard speed limit. 

    But the apparent expansion of the universe exceeds the speed of light on the outer edges (it appears to be moving faster than c, and accelerating). This is what has given rise to the "dark energy" theories, because astrophysicists are trying to explain how those areas can be moving so fast. 

    His point (his name was Dr. James Jorgensen; cf. page 4 here  https://publications.anl.gov/anlpubs/2008/01/60754.pdf ) was that apparent laws that work at certain "macro" levels do not at "micro" levels (gravity is a good example of this). That's why quantum physics was developed; Newtonian mechanics and even Einsteinian relativity are violated at the Planck length. One point he made was that when the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, they weren't bound by c --- while having physical, resurrected bodies, they didn't have to leave aeons earlier so that they could arrive in upstate New York in 1820. For most purposes and observations, c is the upper speed limit in the universe, but there are exceptions (especially at the Planck length), and we "see through a glass darkly" and there are things we don't know. 

    Richard Muller, the father of the "dark energy" theory, does not believe tachyons exist, and the reason he doesn't is because he doesn't want to (he feels that would violate free will). You are correct that tachyons are theoretical only (I'm not sure how we would even detect them), but they are hypothesized because they arise out of the math. If they do exist, then they exceed c by astronomical amounts.

  9. 4 minutes ago, MikeFoxtrot said:

    What sort of evidence might change your position of biological evolution?

    That's a good question.

    Maybe if organic evolution did a much better job of explaining how complex things like flight, the eye, the brain, etc. developed through gradual, incremental changes over extremely long periods of time because random mutations made survival and likelihood of passing on genes more likely. It's axiomatic that evolutionary changes are very slow and over unimaginably long periods of time, but there are things that had to have had instant "leaps" without "intermediate forms." With sexual reproduction, for example, you have to have not only that develop through evolutionary mechanics, you also have to have the opposite sex develop at the exact same time and in the exact same place. 

  10. 9 minutes ago, bluebell said:

     I think CFM was an attempt to make things better.  Speaking for myself, I don't like it any more than the old version, but I don't like it any less either.

    A bigger problem in my view is that the PH/RS lessons are conference talks. Have been for years, and will be for the foreseeable future. In many wards, so are the sacrament meeting talks. 

  11. 18 minutes ago, juliann said:

     I know more and more members who are skipping GD although they go to RS/EQ.  I dislike Come Follow Me more and more . . . My pet peeve is that we have literal bumper sticker summations of text chapters in lesson manuals.

    Come Follow Me is brutal. Are we back to the same Book of Mormon manual next year? 

    I'm the high councilor over Sunday School, and I've observed lessons in 10 of the 12 wards so far. All Things considered, the teaching is pretty decent --- with CFM being a real limiting factor. 

    I hope there are some other things in the works, because CFM represents a four year sabbatical from write lessons and manuals. We have a running joke in our family about the predictable questions (what do you feel prompted to do this week as you read about the dimensions of the Tabernacle? :) ). 

  12. 7 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

    Church doesn’t have to come out in support of gay marriage any more than they need to support French kissing outside of marriage.  IMO. Let marriage be a civil term and issue.  We all know the church sees sealings as superior to marriage anyway. 

    I agree, which is probably why the status quo will reign: love and be kind to everyone, but no need to come out in support of gay marriage (or people living together). Preach the truth and try to convince people to repent and change. Be kind and diplomatic.

  13. 11 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

    I wonder why we don’t differentiate between sealing and marriage?  “We believe sealings between man and woman are ordained of God.”



    Because the Church also doesn't support gay marriage. Under the same logic as Elder Paul Johnson gave when he addressed the gay dating issue at BYU: because only men-women marriages are vid in heaven, anything that gets people further away from that is to be discouraged.

    I don't think there is a way, doctrinally, for the Church to come out in support of gay marriages. Elder Bednar's quoting of the Proclamation in response to the question really is the doctrinal underpinning to this,I think.

    ETA: I think @bluebell's comparison with LDS children living together is a good one. We can support and love family and friends in Tris boat (and we do), but it will forever be incompatible with the gospel and the Church. Supporting gay marriage (but not sealing) is the same.

  14. 14 hours ago, Duncan said:

    I just wonder, honestly, how much about evolution did Pres. Smith and Elder McConkie, did they ever study it to any real degree? if not who cares what they think about it? I'd take someone like Dr. Henry Eyring's opinion over theirs.

    Unless one rejects things like the resurrection or the reality/possibility of physical miracles, there are limits to "taking scientific opinions over prophets." The question is where one draws that red line (everyone differs on exactly where one puts that), but there are a number of fundamental things (like the resurrection or Jesus' miracles or angels) that are soundly rejected by science that are fundamental to Mormon faith. Added to that is the fact that many people have personally experienced miracles that defy science.

    I think that President Smith and Elder McConkie were probably well-read in the sciences (especially because they considered loss of faith on the part of members because of it to be a problem) --- they just didn't acquiesce to it always, without question when it came to things they considered to be vital. 

  15. 9 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

    I've racked my memory, and the last time I can remember this topic coming up in a Church context was an Institute class at Harvard back in the 1990s. :unknw:

    I think it's much more common in private settings (one-on-one, fathers and sons campouts, camping with youth, etc.). 

    I remember asking a member of our stake presidency in Chicago (a head physicist at Fermilab, a particle accelerator) about all sorts of things as a high school student. Great discussions! He told me that just as Newtonian gravity works well for things on our scale, it breaks down at the subatomic level (the Planck distance) --- and the speed of light as an inviolable limit works well for things at our level, but it is able to be surpassed (tachyons; expansion of the universe that exceeds c, leading to theories about dark energy). On evolution, he said that of course there is adaptation, but (his words) "you don't get birds from frogs." 

    I think you're right that these sorts of discussions in church classes are rare, but they do happen, and they are a heisses Thema for a lot of people. 

  16. 9 hours ago, MikeFoxtrot said:

    Are you saying you do not believe in biological evolution based upon your studies of scripture?

    And also based on my studies of science, and reason. Not based solely on scriptural interpretation, although this colors and influences how I see science. 

    Everybody has his own "weighting" system between scripture interpretation, reason, and science, and this yields a spectrum of views on things like organic evolution, literal historicity of things in the scriptures, etc. 

    Although I now teach strictly German, I am certified to teach high school biology and middle school science (physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science) through 2033. I find science fascinating, and I can test as proficient or more on it as any skeptic. In the past, I've had fundamentalist students (non-Mormon) who were upset about learning about evolution, and I've told them that there is nothing to fear and nothing threatening to their faith in learning about the theory in detail. What are the reasons behind the theories, and what evidence is given? You can strongly disagree with it and still learn why people think that, and what the evidence is. And, if you want to be able to intelligently refute it, then you have to understand it and be conversant in it on their terms. 

  17. 1 hour ago, MikeFoxtrot said:

    How do you reconcile this problem?

    I side with scriptural literalists, like Smith and McConkie, when it comes to human geography, etc. But, I read a lot of science, and I would still have loved to have read Eyring's response. I think it would have been that the literal interpretation is just wrong, but it's interesting that he didn't touch that in his book dealing mainly with reconciliation between science and faith.

  18. 58 minutes ago, Emily said:

    I was fortunate to find a book by Henry Eyring (I think it was called, "Faith of a Scientist") 

    I think Hal Eyring wrote two books: Reflections of a Scientist, and Faith of a Scientist. I enjoyed reading them,but one disappointment was when he shared a conversation he had with President Fielding Smith when he served as general Sunday School president. President Smith had asked him how he explained the passage in the Book of Moses that says that Adam was "the first flesh, the first man also." He simply ended the chapter without saying what or how he answered (or if he answered). 

    Very disappointing! I wanted to know what he said, and I wondered why he ended the chapter without saying.

  19. 5 minutes ago, Danzo said:

    Me and my wife (both returned proselytizing missionaries) were called as service missionaries shortly after marriage about twenty years ago when we were about to have our first child.

    The difference here is that the situations are very different. He is not being called to a service mission after his proselyting mission; this is his first mission. He will be getting married during his mission, and they will be living in his same student ward complex. 

    I asked my son more about this this morning. He (the roommate) insists that it isn't a service mission, it's a "consecrated stake mission" (per the stake president, per the roommate). So maybe this isn't even a formal service mission,maybe it's more of a "gentleman's agreement" to encourage some sort of service and marriage (instead of putting in mission papers)? 

    That would actually make more sense to me than Salt Lake encouraging marriage while in the midst of a service mission. I found that thought very surprising. I think Salt Lake would recommend honorable release in order to be sealed instead. 

    It sounds to me like it's just a stake assignment because the stake president is encouraging them to get married.

  20. 1 hour ago, Emily said:

    I do have this nasty suspicion that for some North American members, the BoM needs "Made in America" stamped on it (with stars and stripes) to believe it's true. I'd be curious to know if any members who are not North Americans have a knee jerk preference for the "Heartland" theory. Like, do members in South America and Mexico prefer the Meso-American theory? Or do some of them support the Heartland theory as well? (There's gotta be a good sociology thesis in that question.)

    I think that Church members outside of North America who have a strong view on Book of Mormon geography come down on Heartland/Mesoamerica in about the same numbers proportionately as they do in North America. For me, it was Dr. John Clark's paper on travel distances, topography, and geographical features that sealed it for me in favor of Mesoamerica. If you look up the relevant passages and follow along with his explanation, Mesoamerica (a specific part of Mesoamerica) is the only possible location --- and no North American setting is possible. He makes a very compelling case, based on the details in the Book of Mormon first, and not the other way around (i.e., beginning with a desired outcome, and making the passages fit that). 


    1 hour ago, Emily said:

    But I haven't really heard much contention on evolution. I know some members still reject evolution, but with the exception of the occasional old geezer who is still fighting the battles of the fifties in Gospel Doctrine, the topic just never comes up at church. Are battles being fought on social media or something? 

    It isn't just geezers fighting the battles of the 1950s in Gospel Doctrine. It depends on whether or not someone brings up the topic --- if the topic doesn't come up, most people don't go out of their way to broach the subject. I still think that most members today lean more anti-evolution than pro-evolution, if they are asked. It just isn't a topic most people go out of their way to bring up. 

  21. 2 hours ago, sunstoned said:

    They now have a married (young) missionaries option?  I feel cheated. 

    Well, there are big differences logistically between service missionaries and proselyting missionaries. They normally live at home, they don't have companions they have to be with, their hours and demands are different. I know some whose Facebooks show them at every new release movie. :) So, service missions accommodate marriage a lot more than proselyting missions. 

    I also don't think this is widespread, or well-publicized (i.e., I don't think the Church is going out of its way to publicize it as an available option). My son says it's part of a pilot program (per his roommate). We just know that it's been stressful getting the roommate out, because he had wanted to stay indefinitely beyond his lease or even couch-surf, but our younger son and another boy needed to know they have  apartment spots nailed down (a different roommate just moved out). He was going to move back in with family in the Phoenix area pending his mission, and now the change of plans involving renting another apartment in the complex. He doesn't know what his assignment will entail --- and unless his and his fiance's families are loaded, both of them will probably have to work while he does his service assignment to afford the rent. 

  22. 21 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

    A friend of mine was promised in his that he would be married “in this life”.  He was burned over 80% as a child and endured surgeries constantly- he kept going in anticipation of finding his love and was very faithful- 

    He died alone at 70 four years ago.  I suppose some might say that he wasn’t living worthy of the promised blessings. I find it all quite heartbreaking honestly. I have never really looked at my own (4 pages! ) as a predictor of anything.  Life is messy.  Do your best, expect the unexpected, and love God.  End of story. 

    I would much rather patriarchs boldly say what they feel should be said, than have them "play it safe" and keep it bland and generic to avoid things like this (and we all know examples of this). I think the potential for amazing prophecy outweighs the chance that some things might be blatantly unfulfilled.

    President Packer told us in a meeting about a blessing he gave a toddler, and he "played it safe" and gave a generic, bland blessing that didn't say much. He was smitten with guilt, and returned a few minutes later, surprising the mother. He said that he had just given the toddler a blessing, and he had come back to give her the blessing the Lord has for her. He told us to prophesy, and don't be afraid, and leave it up to God to fulfill it. 

    Again, I think that overall, for most people who take it seriously, the amazing, inspiring, and aspirational prophesy in their patriarchal blessings far outweighs the "misses." No mortals are human fax machines, and that would also be true of President Nelson in giving a blessing. But the Church and our lives are much better with patriarchal blessings than saying, "Aw, what's the use? They don't really guide, direct, and predict much of anything." 

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