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A Prophecy! Ok Not Really! Merely a Prediction!

A few years ago the good people of Utah voted down an initiative that would have allowed hotter radioactive waste to be brought into the state.

The company that encases such waste in glass before dumping it in the desert sported the doublespeak name of EnviroCare. It has since been purchased by Steve Creamer, who got rich by brining New Jersey garbage to Utah. Utahns might remember him from the SynCrete fiasco or the Quail Creek Dam failure. Most likely they’ve never heard of him though. Read more »

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Parental Guilt In A Two Working Parent Family

My wife and I both work full-time which means that our one-year-old goes to daycare at least 3 days a week (we each work from home one day a week). As is typical of daycare, he often comes home sick — particularly in the winter. As the daycare provider tries to limit sick kids from spreading illness, sometimes we have to keep him home. That means one of us has to stay home with him. The challenge occurs when we each have so much going on at work that we cannot stay with him. However, we have usually managed to have the person with the least amount going on at work stay home with him. Two weeks ago we hit a point where I had to travel for a work meeting that I could not cancel and had to be there and my wife was being trained in a new position at her job. Therefore, it was really challenging for either of us to stay home that day even though he was clearly sick. What were we to do? First came the parental guilt. We both felt horrible and very torn between going to work and staying home with him. The typical family quotations of “no success can compensate for failure in the home” and “the greatest work you will do will be within the walls of your home” came into my mind and did nothing but make me feel guilty. An older woman from our ward offered to stay with him for the day. Everything worked out ok, but I felt terribly guilty as I took the plane to the meeting and flew home again in the afternoon. I felt like a terrible parent for letting someone else “raise” my child. How do we reconcile these feelings? Should I or my wife have stayed home with him? Am I just a naive new parent or are these feelings typical of the ones parents have through the years — weighing doing something with the kids vs going hometeaching, going on to your kids soccer game vs an important work meeting.

Anxiety and Baptismal Services

I can remember a point as a missionary where the mission president taught us that we should be worried, that we should be anxious. Being a steward means caring about the people you work with. It means that you worry about things to a degree that you think about potential problems that might arise and plan ways to prevent those problems from happening. Read more »

Fornicating cows

I’m reading a wonderful book, found serendipitously in the back shelves of the library, called Provinces of Night, by William Gay.  It’s one of those books you don’t want to end.

I read this last night and thought it was funny and worth sharing, just a little nugget from this remarkable book:

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Sorry Is Not Enough

Many Seinfeld fans were appalled this week as former Kramer actor Michael Richards spewed nearly three minutes of racial epithets when two African Americans interrupted his stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory. Richards has called Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to apologize for the outburst. Jesse Jackson accepted his apology and advised him to get help. Curiously, however, Reverend Al Sharpton’s answer was “Sorry is not enough.” Read more »

I’m grateful for poor health

I read recently that you cannot be depressed and grateful at the same time.  I will work on changing my attitude.

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Sarbanes-Oxley Effect?

The Church’s general counsel for international matters, Bill Atkin, recently gave a lunch presentation to the international subcommittee of the Utah State Bar. He spoke generally of his career in international law as a partner at Baker & McKenzie and also about some of the work he is called upon to do as counsel for the Church. Read more »

Tithing – 10% Of Increase To The Church, But What Fund?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend at Church. He was planning on paying tithing this year and was wondering if he could split his tithing between the tithing fund, humanitarian fund and the perpetual education fund – 3.3% into each fund. He said that as long as it was a tithe (10%) and paid to the Church, that is all that is asked. He said that he obviously would pay fast offering separately as that is specified as a separate donation in the scriptures. I was a little perplexed and checked the handbook of instructions and the scriptures and, technically, I guess he is right. It only states that one should pay 10% of increase as tithing. It does not say it has to go into the tithing fund. So if he pays his 10% to these different funds, is he a full tithe payer?  We had another member of our ward who wanted to pay his 10% to the charity of his choice. In this case, while it is noble to give 10% to any cause, it does state that it should be given to God, so donating 10% to the Red Cross does not count. Thoughts?

The Do’s and Don’ts of LDS Blogging

Joseph Smith taught that he wanted to teach the Saints correct principles and then let them govern themselves. The internet and blogging seems to offer an arena that is especially resistant to official control. Also, to this point in time, I don’t feel the Church leadership has made any effort to curtail or control LDS blogging. So, blogging offers an opportunity to put Joseph Smith’s idea about correct teaching and self-imposed limitations to the test.

To say this more straightforwardly, if there are unique LDS blogging standards of any kind, they are self-imposed and they should have emerged on their own. Since the blogosphere is a public space, these LDS blogging standards (assuming they exist) should be observable.

The title of this post may be deceptive. It sounds like a statement. Really I want to ask three related questions.

1) Are there unique LDS blogging standards?

2) If yes, what are they?

3) If not, should there be?

Going deep.

Foxtrot, going deep.

As far as I’m concerned, free will coexists with divine preordination just fine. However, it apparently hinges on a different understanding of “preordination” than other Christians have.

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12 Million Mormons or 4 Million?

12 Million Members or 4-6 Million Members?

The Church often touts its membership numbers and growth. There is considerable pride amongst members of the Church every time we hit a new milestone such as 12 Million members. Media reports speak about the fast growth of the Church. However, there are some interesting data available regarding the convert retention rates in the Church. Several published articles have discussed the disconnect between the number of members listed in LDS membership records and the actual self-reported religious affiliation seen in country Census reports. Usually the self-reported LDS population is 30-50% of the membership reported for that country by headquarters. Based on that information, the actual number of active members is somewhere between 4-6 Million. While this number is considerably more accurate a measure of actual members, why doesn’t the Church report this number? Why not report the number of recommend holding adults? What about the number of full tithe payers? What about average weekly sacrament meeting attendance? While each of these numbers is something the Church could report, it chooses total baptized members regardless of whether they recognize their Mormonness or not. The problem is that the Church could not suddenly report that they had lost 2/3 of their membership as that would be poor PR. So what should the Church do? Does it matter that we are overrepresenting our actual membership? Read more »

Looking for the Temple in the Book of Mormon (part 2 of 6)

I’m going to press on to Chapter 2 of Mosiah. Again I want to emphasize that I’d like this to be a collaborative project. I want to see what other people find. Please post your own findings below and I’ll incorporate them into the table, along with a link giving you credit.

In this chapter the population gathers at the temple and King Benjamin begins his address, with the hope that the mysteries of God can be shown to the people. The idea of “mysteries” is often a scriptural indicator that material related to the temple is being discussed.

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I came across this organization while working on a book about suicide for Mormons. They were helpful in having the book published. I keep copies of the book on hand and give them away fairly frequently, which is really sad.

In my last order, I received a couple of other books by mistake, one was a book about mental illness and the other, a book about addiction. I decided to keep these as they are very well done and specifically addressed to LDS people. Read more »

Sense of Entitlement

Corey is an LDS artist, and we’re proud to present the following guest post by him:

When and how do we sense that we are entitled to things? Does it depend upon our “class,” our intelligence, or just our family background? Should we be working to avoid this sense of entitlement, or do we just need to find a balance? Read more »

BYU, Pfizer and Turning The Other Cheek

See the excerpt below from The Deseret News:

After discovering a new enzyme in 1989, Brigham Young University professor Daniel L. Simmons realized his find might lead to a painkiller that would reduce inflammation without the stomach problems caused by existing drugs.

But rather than patent the discovery, the private school placed its trust in a powerful drugmaker and, according to a new lawsuit, was cheated out of billions of dollars as a result.

Simmons and the Provo university seek actual and punitive damages, now estimated to be “significantly in excess of $1 billion.”  They also want corrections to 75 patents, in order to credit Simmons for his work.   

BYU asserts it had a 1991 contract with Monsanto to collaborate on development of an aspirinlike drug, called a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Monsanto was required to alert the university if results from the project could be patented, and to share profits, according to the lawsuit.   

This is an interesting case which reminds me of how we are counseled to extend charity and “turn the other cheek.”  It appears that BYU very naively assumed that by not patenting the discovery and partnering with Monsanto they would be treated fairly.  Of course this did not happen according to BYU.  Monsanto (Now Pfizer) seems to think otherwise.  If BYU is a Christian university that truly believes and should follow Gospel tenets, then should it be willing to “turn the other cheek” in a case like this?  I would say no, but when should a Mormon institution practice what it preaches?  What should be the criteria when it should be charitable and forgiving and when should it play hardball?  These are hard questions that extend beyond Mormon institutions to each of us.  When should we be charitable and extend mercy?  When should we play hardball?  Is it when small amounts of money are involved, large amounts?  What about when people’s feelings are involved?  How do we keep ourselves from being taken advantage of while still trying to be Christlike in our interactions with our fellow humans?

Six Bishops In Four Years

After our marriage we moved into married student housing (apartments) in Salt Lake City. For the next four years we always attended the ward to which we belonged geographically. Despite that, due to a chain of unusual circumstances, we had six bishops in four years. Read more »

Across the cultural divide.

As I sat in Relief Society today I noticed someone new. She was wearing a beautiful blue sari with gold embroidery on the edge and some of the dangly, jingly Indian jewelry; there were flowers in her hair and a bindi on her forhead. I was intrigued that someone like her would be at our church. I asked my neighbor who the visitor was.

“Oh, that’s Maggie,” she said. “She’s getting baptized today.”

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To VT or not to VT; that is the question.

Without going into the gorey details, I have been really struggling lately. Only recently have I admitted to myself that I am depressed by these burdens I’ve been carrying. Ever since General Conference I’ve felt as though I’ve been bleeding faith; I have been drowning in this mess to the point that I feel as though I am clinging to the last little branch of faith that I have left and it is all that is keeping me from being swept away.

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Looking for the Temple in the Book of Mormon (1 of 6)

I would like to try something here that will be similar to my Where the Wild Things Are post, but in a much more serious mindset. Also, I’d like it to be interactive, which means I’d like your help, if you’d be so kind.

While reading By the Hand of Mormon a few years ago I took special note of pages 123 and 124 in which research around King Benjamin’s address is mentioned. Being somewhat ignorant of anything about this address other than the text itself I was intrigued to see how much research had gone into it, and how it mirrored many ancient ceremonies.

I then decided to start looking for similarities between the first six chapters of Mosiah and our modern temple ordinances. I was surprised by the abundance of references. Showing them to others I found that they found things that I had missed. Read more »

Elder Erkle, I’m going to beat the **** out of you!

I have a sweet and kind friend who struggled in life much as I did, leaving him with a somewhat lowered self image.  He’s turned that around in a magnificent fashion, giving back to society in a quiet and Christ-like manner.  You wouldn’t believe the things he’s accomplished for our community, and you’ll never know, because he’s threatened me with my life if I spilled those beans.  (that actually happens a lot to me).

 Yesterday I was asking him how he turned his life around, how he achieved the peace and faith that emanates from his countenance.  His reply was that there were turning points in his life, and he shared one with me. Read more »

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