The Hierarchy of Handouts

Mosiah 4:

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just–

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

Some people in Utah think that the area surrounding Temple Square is the panhandling capital of the world. I don’t know if that’s true — I’m not well traveled or well educated enough to say for sure. However, it it’s at least in the top twenty, I submit that Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, would crack the top five.
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Estrogen, Testosterone, and Spirituality

Some time ago, I was a visitor in an Elders quorum meeting where the quorum president announced the calling of a new quorum secretary.  While making the announcement, the quorum president broke down crying as he talked about the quorum member’s willingness to accept the calling.  I was astonished at the quorum president’s emotionality over this calling, and I imagined he probably loses composure pretty often over things that I might consider routine.  In past years, I might have seen this quorum president’s crying as indicative of a level of sprituality far superior to mine; for example, in the MTC I saw guys crying all over the place, at the strangest times, and I felt strange and lacking in spirituality for my lack of tears.  Over time, though, I’ve come to believe that there are many other factors besides the Spirit that influence our responses to things we see and hear in Church contexts, and I have come to respect the role of chemistry in responses and behaviors that we often consider willed and voluntary. Read more »

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Christmas Carol Wishes

Recently I attended a stake youth activity at a retirement home where the youth caroled for residents. I volunteered to prepare song books. It was interesting to notice how many of the handful of Christmas hymns in our book are not well-known to lay listeners: “With Wondering Awe” and “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night,” for example, are fine songs, but they are not the ones that spring readily to mind when contemplating the season. Yet many more famous religious carols are not included: “O Holy Night,” “We Three Kings,” and “What Child is This,” to name a few. In our discussion last year of Christmas hymns, many favorite songs are not those included in our hymnbook. This can sometimes be remedied with special musical numbers and choir pieces; I organized a women’s group to sing “What Child is This?” several years ago, which was made a bit more amusing because most of the participants just happened to be extremely pregnant (I was a day past my due date myself). In fact, the seemingly arbitrary number of Christmas hymns in the hymnbook makes me a little suspicious that they included roughly enough to serve as opening and closing hymns through one December, but not quite enough to skip over some you may not particularly like.

If the Christmas section of the hymnbook were expanded, what would you wish to be added?

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Sweet Cheerios

Recently, I heard my two-year-old belting out a song while in the bath. This is not too noteworthy, really, but it wasn’t the “A,B,C Song,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” or even “Wild Thing.” No, he splashed along as his cute little soprano sang:

Swing low,
Sweet Cheerios!
Coming for to carry me home.
Swi-ing low,
Sweet Cheerios,
Coming for to carry me home!
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Putting “Unorthodox” members on the “backburner”

I was thinking about a particular subject today while sitting in Sacrament Meeting listening to some great talks. My wife gave one of those great talks. After her talk a couple of members came up to talk to her and were very complimentary of her talk. One guy acted upset because he disagreed with the investment strategy she used as an example in her talk. He was older and thought he knew the perfect way to invest which was different from the way my wife’s company does it. Anyway this caused me to think about the “unorthodox” among us, including myself. Many times these members are set aside by all of us. I wondered how valuable these members could be if we actually gave them a chance and let them serve. I know of a few example of folks who were wonderful teachers and counselors once they were given the opportunity to serve when someone thought they had something to offer. In addition, I think that we are all a bit unorthodox in our own ways. When I use the term unorthodox it could be someone who is a little socially odd to someone who is doctrinally too left or too right…

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When Should the Bishop Intervene with Youth? from bbell

Concerning wayward YM. When to intervene and get the bishop involved????
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Lift of Priesthood Ban a Simple Matter of Correlation

So the Sunday School lesson on Official Declaration 2 was taught by a substitute teacher in my ward. She seemed really nervous, but I am not sure if that was about the act of teaching or the content of this lesson. She presented the extension of the Priesthood to all worthy males as a simple matter of correlation on par with the three-hour block, getting rid of the old ward budgets, and the (old) “new” Enrichment program.

Is this progress (that the fact that we once withheld the Priesthood from worthy males because of their race is such a thing of the past, it hardly warrants discussion) or regression (that we still just can’t talk about it)?

Discuss.

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In Defense of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (and Its Readers)

Why are Mormons so willing to attack Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and those who enjoy it? Not just willing, but eager? I don’t know how it is outside of Mormondom, because I’ve never seen it come up. But I’ve frequently observed Mormons attacking other Mormons — their brothers and sisters in Christ — for reading these books. Why is this?

I’ve been made fun of for what I read. A lot. In college, I read the Illiad on a road trip to a rowing regatta in Madison, WI — not because it was assigned, but because there was a new translation that promised to be the first since Lattimore’s that was worthy of Homer. Once I was reading War and Peace on a beach on Cape Cod. They had a lot of fun with that one. I shrugged and mumbled something to the effect of, “Sorry. It’s just too good to put down.” I don’t really know what to say when this happens. They expect me to bring literature that is merely a diversion, like a James Bond novel. A low-brow, unsophisticated page-turner. I love James Bond novels, the original ones by Ian Flemming. Funny thing: Nobody’s ever made fun of me for reading one of those.

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The Nutty Putty Cave Closure

I have followed the events associated with the Nutty Putty Cave over the last week and a half with a sad heart. While at BYU in the 1990′s I went to the Cave multiple times with various groups. We always had a great time, although occassionally I would start to feel a little panicky when I was in a really tight spot. I was saddened to hear about the death that occurred in the cave. I hope his family is brought some measure of peace.

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It’s Beginning to look alot like Christmas

OK, so the stores have looked like Christmas since about September, and the weather here in upstate New York hasn’t been very Christmasy (what a blessing!), but it seems that Christmas will happen, whether I am ready or not. What do you do to prepare for Christmas? Read more »

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