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Zeniff: noble idealist or useful idiot?

I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them — but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed. . . .

And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land . . .

And I went into the king [of the Lamanites], and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom. And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land that we might possess it. . . .

Now it was the cunning and the craftiness of king Laman, to bring my people into bondage, that he yielded up the land that we might possess it. . . .

Therefore it came to pass that king Laman began to stir up his people that they should contend with my people; therefore there began to be wars and contentions in the land. For, in the thirteenth year of my reign in the land of Nephi, away on the south of the land of Shilom, when my people were watering and feeding their flocks, and tilling their lands, a numerous host of Lamanites came upon them and began to slaw them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields. . . . (from Mosiah 9)

Discuss, with extra credit for any modern-day applications (keep it civil, folks).  ..bruce..

P.S. I should have noted this in the original post: the phrase “useful idiot” has a long history in geopolitics.

Where “Rough Stone Rolling” bowled me over.

At 5:16 p.m. on June 27th I want you to stop and take a look around. What do you see? What do you hear?

Contrast that with Joseph Smith’s last minutes.

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Bird Flu – Great Food Storage Motivator?

The headlines may have died down in recent months, but bird flu experts say that the threat of a global pandemic has actually been growing. The World Health Organization outlined the spread of the bird flu virus around the world to 150 experts drawn together to discuss protective measures.

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Top Ten Quotes from this Year’s Joseph Smith Manual

Here are some gems from this year’s Priesthood and Relief Society Manual. The more I read of Joseph Smith, the more dense and insightful his thinking seems. The list, of course, is mine. Feel free to add your own!
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Top Ten Quotes from Joseph Smith Not in This Year’s Manual

Nearly all of these come from Joseph Fielding Smiths’ Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so it is possible that some of these quotes are not present in our manual due to historiographical reasons, and I have made no investigation into the validity of these quotes. Others, of course, were not included due to space or subject matter considerations. As with the other list, these are my favorites. Feel free to add your own in the comments. Read more »

False Prophecy: that one time I was wrong

I had the pleasure of attending church with my sister yesterday and she goes to a lovely LDS building in Arlington, Virginia. It really is a beautiful building in a fabulous residential neighborhood, but the facility has one major flaw: a teeny tiny parking lot. Indeed, there were about 25 spaces. I, along with most of the congregation, parked on the street, which I hate to do because I feel it is an incredible nuisance to the surrounding residents, and that can’t be good neighbor-making or missionary work.

I commented on their lack of parking, and my sister told me that when President Benson (before he was a President, natch) had been around, the church had been given the opportunity to buy a neighboring lot (now long occupied) and Benson had dismissed it: the church will never need more parking in DC! Read more »

Our culture is crazy. You know that, right?

I think I’ve finally found the female answer to pr0n. No, it’s not “Playgirl.”

I bet you can’t guess.

Go on. Think.

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Ward Choir Auditions

There are some people in my ward who are incredibly talented singers. I am not one of them, but I wish I were. Both their musical needs and mine cannot be satisfied without reducing the quality of the choir. And herein lies the dilemma. Read more »

This Came out of Utah

As long as we’re on the topic of Utah and Obama…

A Utah couple created this Obama sock puppet to sell on their website. According to KSL they claim to have plans to make puppets of other figures such as McCain and the leader of Iran. I’m trying to imagine what would make a McCain puppet look like McCain? Perhaps a lopsided neck? Would that be funny or appropriate? But so far they’ve only made the Obama one. They see nothing wrong with this. How about you?

According to the Salt Lake Tribune the creators of the sock puppet are not LDS. Cold comfort, I suppose.

Guess How Long My Obama Sign Stayed Put!

How long did John's Obama yard sign stay up in Mormon country?

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Mystery of the week

Our high priests group lesson today was on the Atonement. Our instructor, a lawyer, asked a question that frankly had the rest of us stumped — or, at least, unwilling to purely speculate.

The question: What qualified Christ to become part of the Godhead while still an unembodied spirit? (Yes, he was the firstborn among God’s spirit children, but why? Was he that much better as an pre-spirit intelligence? If so, why?)

For that matter, what qualified the Holy Ghost to likewise be selected as part of the Godhead while an unembodied spirit?

Thoughts?  ..bruce..

Notable language

I frequently have conversations with women that go something like this:

Me: “So what brings you to _____”

Her: “We’re in dental school…”


Me: “I don’t think I’ve met you, my name is ______, are you new in the ward?”

Her: “We just moved in…We’re getting a PhD, and then we’ll be moving back to….” Read more »

“I Will Greatly Multiply Thy Sorrow In Childbirth”

We’re quite a fertile bunch here at MM, I think, and with our own impending birth in my family, I too have uteruses on the brain (but definitely not, what with all the aches, pains, nausea, fatigue, any uterus envy). Two completely separate bits of reading I was doing during the same time period jolted me with a new idea:

We are all familiar with God’s parting words to Adam and Eve as they were expelled from the garden. God says to Eve, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.” (Genesis 3: 16) Could it be, I wondered, rather than merely being a curse, that this pain in childbirth was a direct and literal consequence of the physical changes resulting from the Fall?

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That Loving Feeling

Today is Loving Day—it commemorates the Supreme Court decision that officially made it illegal to discriminate against a proposed marriage based on the race of those involved. For 16 states in the US, it wasn’t until 1967, that they were forced to allow inter-racial marriages.

As a member of an inter-racial marriage, this particular decision holds my attention. I wonder why inter-racial marriages were so problematic. Certainly, both my government and my religion have at times cautioned against them. And frankly, although no one is banned from marrying a member of another race now, there are still plenty of people who have negative feelings about inter-racial couples. Why? Read more »

Questions About Mormonism and the Book of Mormon

Some time ago a friend/acquaintance of mine told me he had an appointment to meet with some Mormon missionaries – but he wasn’t comfortable making the appointment. He said he just wanted a Book of Mormon. So I gave him one.

Some months have passed since then and today he sent me an email that that included the following: Read more »

Keeping Up (or Not) With LDS Blogs and Blogging

I’ve been reforming my RSS reader a bit, trying to get it a little more under control, and consequently the topic of LDS blogs (and which ones I want to read) has been on my mind a little bit lately. Read more »

“Oh My Heck!” — a group screenplay effort

A few months back, I noticed that my own LDS blog was getting hits for “Mormon Anti-Christ”, apparently from people looking for the Mormon concept of a latter-day Anti-Christ. I wrote up a post on the subject, which I then ended with this post-script:

I get the impression from what little research I’ve done that Catholics are much more skeptical [than Evangelists] about the idea of there being a literal, individual, powerful AntiChrist as a precursor to the Savior’s second coming — probably because, as the Catholic Encyclopedia entry cited above states, Protestants have been claiming for centuries that the Pope is the AntiChrist. What makes that so interesting is that in most horror movies about the rise of the AntiChrist — e.g., “The Omen” — it seems that it’s almost always the Catholics who are fighting against him. On the other hand, it seems like there’s often a group of renegade or corrupted Catholic priests and nuns who are supporting and protecting him. So for all us Mormons who complain about media bias, realize that it could be a lot worse — no one’s made a movie that shows the AntiChrist being born in Spanish Fork, attending BYU, and serving an LDS mission, before going to work for the Marriott Corporation, all the while being protected by a 21st century band of Danites. Yet. Hmm…maybe I’ll write a screenplay.

I even have a title for it: “Oh My Heck!”

OK, time to have some fun. Let’s hear some of your ideas for fleshing out this mythical screenplay. ..bruce..

P.S. I don’t have permission to add categories, so I’ll have to let the MM powers-that-be decide how to categorize this one.  ..bfw..

A Two Dollar Wager

There is a story Pope Benedict XVI likes to tell. I like it too. I’ll translate it slightly to make it a little more relevant to our readership.

A boy, a Deacon, is in school when a teacher stops him. “Young man,” the teacher says, “I will give you a silver dollar if you can tell me where God is.”

The Deacon thinks about it and replies, “Mister Jones, I will give you two silver dollars if you can tell me where he is not.”

Oh Great Uterus! I have Uterus envy!

My wife has had two children. One of the many things that has amazed me about this process has been the uterus. Here is a muscle that is usually the size of a fist that can expand over nine months to the size of a hollow watermelon. During childbirth it is powerful enough to expel an infant while at the same time cause excruciating pain due to the power of its contractions (at least it sure looked excruciating). Then it magically shrinks back to its former size in a few weeks time. Now men who think they are strong must take note – it takes years of exercise and supplements (not the Barry Bonds kind) to build up your biceps or other muscles to noticably expand them, while the uterus can do this in 9 months without the supplements and regardless of the exercise fitness of its owner.

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June 8, 1978

Mama would have been nearly seven months pregnant with me at that time. She already had two little girls — 4-year-old Rosalynde and 2-year-old Gabrielle — and if I’m remembering correctly, they were living in a starter house on Harmony Place, a small cul-de-sac whose idyllic name belied the very large, frightening dog that lived next door. My parents had been married for nearly five years by then, and Daddy was probably working at his first post-law school firm in nearby Los Angeles.

Mama heard about it first. I think there had been a press conference in Salt Lake City, and it had come through on a local radio station. She stopped everything and called Daddy at work — probably a rare occasion, since Los Angeles was a different zip code, so it would have been an expensive long-distance call. Daddy answered, Mama told him, and both of them started weeping. I think I remember hearing that they kneeled down and prayed together, right there on the phone, right there in the office, and thanked God that no worthy man would ever again be denied the opportunity to hold and exercise the holy priesthood.

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