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The Church and Immigration Law

Given the heated discussions over Arizona’s recently-passed immigration law (SB1070), I think it would be useful to look at the Church’s most recent commentary on immigration. In 2008, when the Utah legislature was looking at passing a series of laws to crack down on illegal immigration, the First Presidency sent Elder Marlin K. Jensen (a lifelong Democrat) to discuss illegal immigration with legislators. From the Deseret News’ reporting of one event:

An LDS Church leader on Wednesday urged Utah’s lawmakers to “take a step back” and hold a “spirit of compassion” as they consider a slate of bills aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

“Immigration questions are questions dealing with God’s children,” said Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I believe a more thoughtful and factual, not to mention humane approach is warranted, and urge those responsible for enactment of Utah’s immigration policy to measure twice before they cut.”

As one of three religious leaders speaking at a Interfaith Dialogue on Immigration at Westminster College, Jensen urged people to put a human face on the issue.

“Meet an undocumented person,” he said. “Come to know their family.”

The Church has not spoken out on Arizona’s recent bill, but they might, and it would be interesting to get their perspective on it.

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Best Spring Hymns!

I love Spring. It is such a beautiful time of year, the flowers are wonderful, the trees can be amazing and life is renewed. I feel a rebirth every Spring after the long, cold, dark winter. Last week in Church we sang “All Creatures Of Our God And King”. I love that song in the Spring – it is reminiscent of the season with its wonderful lyrics and upbeat music. I always sing that song a little louder as I feel the need to lift up my voice and sing praises to God for giving us Spring. What are your favorite Spring songs? Why?

Epistemic Closure and The Gospel

The New York Times has a good article this morning that covers the debate within conservatism over the concept of epistemic closure, which basically is the idea that many political conservatives see conservatism as having definitively answered and settled all of the major issues of the day, from global warming to national defense to health care, and therefore when it comes to the issues, mainstream conservative thought does not need to be questioned or reexamined, only defended. From the article:

Mr. Bartlett, who lost his job at the Heritage Foundation after accusing George W. Bush of betraying the Reagan legacy, said in an interview: “Every intellectual movement needs to constantly question itself; otherwise it becomes stale. But conservatives have sort of reached a position of intellectual closure. They don’t think there are any new ideas of particular interest to them. Their philosophy is fully formed. The only question is how best to implement conservative ideas in the political debate.”

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Mormons and Child Protective Services

There is a local LDS family I know who has “issues” with childrearing. I have often been shocked at what I have seen. When they first moved into our ward I went to help them move. It was about 30 degrees outside and one of their kids was running around outside with just a diaper on turning pink with cold. I grabbed the kid and took him inside and gave him to his mom. Not 5 minutes later he was back outside still in a diaper! I stopped the work crew and informed the father that we would be leaving if he did not get this kid dressed or indoors.

A year or 2 later my wife witnessed the Mom leave an 18 month old unsupervised at a pool to load her van. The 18 month old was soon found by another mom floating face down in a wading pool turning blue. The kids life was saved by another Mom who revived the child.

Yesterday at church I overheard the Dad of this family talk about how one of their kids fell out of a second story window and that CPS had been harrassing them ever since. To be honest I was not surprised. In fact I suspect that other church members have been calling CPS out of concern.

So what is the right thing to do when you know about and witness really dangerous parenting in your ward?

Is there any way we can help you?

You know this question. You’ve been asked it. You’ve probably asked it yourself. Here is my question: what is an appropriate response?

If you are like me, your immediate reaction is “no” but almost always, I have an immediate unstated reaction along the lines of: “I don’t know, how can you help me?”

You may have had experiences wherein you were asked for help that you felt was inappropriate. I think we all have had experiences, whether we recognize them or not, in NOT being asked for help we really could have easily offered. So where is the balance? Sure some of it has to do with your relationship, your family situations, and even your lifestyle. But let’s pretend that you are home or visiting teaching a family that is new to you: what services are you offering when you ask, “Is there any way we can help you?”

Watching and planning for a youth to go inactive

As some of you know I have been involved in YM’s for about 15 years. Basically since I came home from my mission. I have seen lots of success with the kids I have worked with. Occasionally I have seen kids go inactive as well. I am a big believer in doing what the kids need not what stake leaders or handbooks say.

I have a kid now who comes from a good family and most likely will go inactive in the next 1-3 years. I say this based on experience and the attitude of the YM. He only goes to church and activities because his parents make him. He comes with a huge negative attitude towards everything and anybody.

Last night myself, a bishopric member, and another YM leader took a few minutes to discuss his situation. We all agreed that most likely he would eventually quit coming and go inactive probably when he turned 18 and graduated from HS.

So we came up with the following.

1. We would hope and pray for a miracle were he could feel the spirit and allow himself to change and become converted. Avoiding a inactive period entirely.
2. We would make an effort to make his YM exp as good as possible in the hope that if he does go inactive at some point during his life when big changes come like marriage, children etc he would look back on his YM exp and think I know where I can go and find people that will love me and my family. Current YM lessons would have elements of stories from formerly inactive people who had eventually come back to full activity in the church after a period of inactivity in early adulthood.

I call #2 the “long game” where we play the leadership role out over the next couple of decades and for-see him as an adult trying to make spiritual decisions after a period of inactivity.

From bbell: Adoption of Children is of God

I think my title for this piece is probably a good summary as well. I have often felt that adoption of children is a blessing from God for both the adoptive parents and the children involved.

Early bretheren including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young adopted children into their households.

The decision to open your home for a new infant or even a teenager is one of selfless sacrifice that I feel our Heavenly Parents look upon favorably.

What experiences have you had with adoptions?

On Forgiving

I carry a grudge. I did this color thing from a book and I’m a “blue.” Blues are caretakers, but they carry a grudge and have high expectations of others. I have such a sense of outrage when I’m wronged and fantasize revenge. One really bad side effect of that is that I also feel that way toward myself.

But, because I’m a religious person, I don’t feel good about myself when I’m in that unforgiving mode. And then I beat myself up even more. We are supposed to forgive.

My sister’s grandchildren were horribly abused by their stepmother, who is in prison for what she did. My sister speaks to me often of her struggle to forgive. She prays for this woman. She wants to forgive her, to feel peace. But she would also like to torture this woman as badly as the woman tortured the children.

I, too, pray to be able to forgive. I pray for the people who’ve wronged me and ask God to bless them and to help me to put the bitterness aside.

The conclusion I’ve come to with this is that sometimes this is all the forgiveness that’s humanly possible. When the grievance is so outrageous, so life altering, I believe the best I can do is want to forgive them. I’ve not forgiven, but I’m in the process of forgiving.

I hear platitudes about forgiveness, scriptures, and get preached to sometimes. All this makes me tired because they often come from a person who has no concept of being truly injured. We’re not talking somebody calling us a bitch, we’re talking about–in my sister’s case, say—someone who tortured children.

I often refer to the book “The Sunflower” by Simon Weisenthal. I believe this is one of the best treatments of the subject of forgiveness in the history of time. Some sins can only be wiped out by God. And until then, we can be in the process of forgiving. And call it good.

BYU Testing Center & Taxes

I finished my taxes as usual – late on the 14th or I should say early on the morning of the 15th. I felt like I was back at the BYU Testing Center when it was time to hit “file”. I had that uncertain feeling in my gut that I had somehow, somewhere made an error. It felt like I was back at BYU in the Testing Center – tired from staying up late cramming for the exam, then stumbling in there to take the exam, then hopefully submitting the test and then the hopeful waiting… I am now in the hopeful waiting stage on my taxes and still recovering from staying up too late. So happy late tax day!

“Which Thing I Never Had Supposed”

I have recently been thinking about what Moses says in chapter 1 verse 10 in his eponymous book: “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” I’ve often thought this was a curious thing to say, at least to me it has long appeared obvious that man is nothing. So why was this news to Moses? As I considered the context in which Moses lived and wrote, I had a new idea.

Moses grew up in Egypt, which even in his day was an ancient civilization, one that achieved heights of architecture, science, medicine, religion, population and land extent, military might, and durability that have seldom been equaled, even up to and including modern times. Moses performed many miracles in Pharaoh’s court, but many of them could be duplicated by Pharaoh’s magicians. By the miracles Moses performed, he knew that God was more powerful than the might of Egypt, but Egypt was still pretty impressive. And after the exodus, Egypt’s level of civilization could only have appeared even more impressive in comparison. Moses could only be more impressed at the heights of civilization that man could achieve.

So when God takes Moses on a whirlwind tour of the cosmos, and even then God has to hold back to avoid blowing his mind, it must have really put all of man’s achievements in perspective. Compared to this, man really is nothing.

Defining Infidelity and Affairs

There is an article at Mormon Times, titled “All Are Vulnerable to Threat of Infidelity” that offers some statistics and information that surprised me and raised some questions. Read more »

Gold Engraved Tablet in New York

This is completely preposterous.

Some family in Great Neck, NY is saying they are in possession of an ancient Middle Eastern gold tablet with an engraved inscription.

It’s very small, fits in the palm of the hand, and is worth $10 million.

As of yet, no mention of an angel being involved.

(please note that the title and post previously and mistakenly indicated that “Great Neck” is in New Jersey when it is in New York … the error has been fixed)

Duty to God v. Personal Progress

In addition to the upgrade the Young Women’s Personal Progress program received this year, the Young Men’s Duty to God program is apparently being revamped as well. While precious few details are currently available about changes, I did notice this statement included in the FAQ:

Because the purpose of the new program is to help
young men build spiritual strength and learn and fulfill
their priesthood duties, the principal recognition they
receive will be when they are presented in their wards or
branches to advance in the priesthood.

This answer is in response to a question about the recognition that Young Men will receive for their participation in the new program. Both the question and the response seem entirely appropriate and reasonable. Now let’s contrast this with the corresponding section of the Personal Progress roll-out:

With this revision several new items have been added to help
leaders recognize young women more frequently. The new
items include Personal Progress value ribbons, a bookmark
to hold the ribbons, and age-group certificates.

In the Young Women’s FAQ, a full 11 questions and answers are devoted to the various tchotchkes used to recognize the Young Women’s progress, the most prominent of which is the jewelry, including the re-designed pendants, the new torch necklace, and Honor Bee charm.

So, while I am inclined to enthusiastically embrace a non-scouting goal and progress program for our young men, the stark contrast it creates in such un-parallel outcomes is startling. Our sons who devote time and energy to this goal-setting and achieving (and even those who don’t) will be recognized with The Priesthood. Our daughters who do the same will be recognized with…cheap jewelry.

No, expensive jewelry would not make me feel any better.


So I got a call from a survey company, I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t that one the media is always quoting. Or “are” always quoting. Whatever.

Anyway, this is how I responded:
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Saturday Conference Thread

I’m off work for the first Saturday in awhile and I’m going to watch conference and place my pithy comments. I’m not up with the latest on general authorities or church trends, so they may not be apropo, but I suppose you can set me straight. The inkling I have of the church comes from reading the Ensign, which I’m enjoying these days.

I don’t know where my co-bloggers are — maybe translated or something. I do have to run to Bountiful Baskets at 10:30.

One of the things I enjoy during conference weekend are the stories KSL does between sessions, so I’ll comment on those as well, between cleaning house. They could be called “The Carole Mikita Show” but it’s all good.