Learning lessons from LDS immigrants

Last Sunday we had a fantastic talk in our ward. A sister who had immigrated from the Philippines told the story of her families conversion when she was in the Philippines as a teenager. Her family was pretty poor and lacked basic durable goods like a TV and a fridge. Upon paying tithing her father had a series of rapid promotions and they ended up living what was in the Philippines a fairly middle class lifestyle, essentially they could afford a fridge and this simplified their lives quite a bit. She spoke about how grateful they were that they had a fridge and they were always appreciative of food that stayed fresh.

She ended her talk by talking about how grateful her 19 year old daughter was for the janitorial job she had at BYU that helped her get thru school.

Imagine if you will the audience for this talk. We arrived at church from our 3000sqft homes in late model SUV’s and vans that cost far more then her parents had ever made in a year. Fridge? Most of us had a fridge in the garage and one in the kitchen. For many of us the world that this sister described was far far away. I watched as many people around me teared up as the spirit poured out across the audience.

For me I always think of the YM when I hear something important. To them their whole lives have been one of material indulgence. Even the poorest among them have a house, fridge, 2 cars, cell phone, AC etc.

Sometimes I think we need a glimpse of what other peoples face across the world to realize what we really have.

What lessons have you learned from LDS immigrants in your wards and stakes?

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Things Read in Books This Week

Well, this is going to be things read in book. I can’t even remember the name of it, but I got on a self-help book kick and picked this book on communicating out of the library. It was kind of boring and hard to understand (go ahead and mock if you must), but there were two things I took from the book. One was this quote: “God help me to forgive all those who sin differently than I.” Profound. Read more »

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George P. Lee Dies…

…and if you don’t know he was excommunicated and for what, the Deseret News isn’t going to tell you. The only thing they’ll give up is that he “[...] served as a general authority for nearly 14 years” — as if he went emeritus or something (although the divorce is certainly fishy).

The Salt Lake Tribune is more forthcoming, naturally; so, I thought this could serve as counterpoint to the notorious SL Tribune bias post from a while back. At any rate, perhaps this passage from the Tribune article best sums up the situation:

“George P. Lee is one of the truly tragic figures in modern Mormon history,” Armand Mauss, an LDS sociologist in Irvine, Calif., said Thursday. He was “both created and destroyed” by changing Mormon teachings and policies regarding native peoples.

Anyway, I’m going to deliberately copy the entirety of the (short) DN article below so that, if/when it gets updated, no one’s going to tell me that I didn’t read carefully enough.

But what I really want to know is shouldn’t we have stopped using his middle initial when he ceased to be a general authority?
Read more »

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All are alike unto God?: The Church in Africa

Most of us are familiar with the teaching that one day the gospel will fill the entire earth, and that all people will someday embrace or at least have access to the church teachings in their own language. The church publicly espouses its intense desire to proclaim the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people, yet when it comes to Africa, or at least certain parts of Africa, it would seem that actions speak louder than words.

I taught various courses on African history at BYU in the late-1990s. During Fall Semester, 1998, I invited the late Dr. E Dale LeBaron to take 50 minutes to discuss the role of the Church in Africa to about 25 students enrolled in one such course. As the author/editor of “All are alike unto God” (Bookcraft, 1990), a short volume of oral histories and testimonies of African converts to the church, Dr. LeBaron was then a popular speaker and noted church authority on the subject. His experience in Africa went back decades, in fact, having served as a Mission President in South Africa in the late-1970s when the revelation was received in Salt Lake allowing black males to hold the priesthood.

I asked Dr. LeBaron about this experience: could he describe to my students what it was like to be the first Mission President to send missionaries into the black townships of South Africa? He said that at the time in meetings with church leaders “one of the brethren” took him aside and warned him that it would not be wise to allow the church in South Africa to develop like it already had in New Zealand, where darker-skinned Maoris had joined in such numbers as to seriously alter the demographic profile of the church, in a way that had certain negative consequences, about which Dr. LeBaron did not elaborate. Dr. LeBaron, however, said to my students that he took this as wise counsel to “go slow” in South Africa. He therefore did not call upon his missionary force to actually proselyte in black townships, but merely asked (white) members to share the gospel with their black friends and associates. In a nation then under Apartheid rule, with strict segregationist racial policies in force, this was a “go slow” policy if there ever was one.

At this point in his narrative Dr. LeBaron noticed the stunned look on my face, and he immediately moved to his slide projector; his images filled the rest of the hour and I didn’t have a chance to ask him any further questions, such as: how is it, that the church would not want a “black” church in a country that is/was about 90 per cent black? What would be the negative consequences if such a thing were to occur?
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Pre-Registration For Sunstone + Raffle

Over at Times and Seasons, Kaimipono Wenger has posted about the opportunity to pre-register for Sunstone 2010 between July 26th and July 30th and simultaneously enter a raffle for some pretty cool prizes.

Check it out!

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I’m a Mormon

Like many of you, I am sure, I don’t watch commercials anymore. Yet today, one of my children distracted me from my show and I neglected to fast forward through the commercials. Some commercial with a surfing woman was on–it could have been for juice or cereal–and at the end, she said “I’m a Mormon” and the little mormon.org thing showed up in the corner. No logo. No Jesus. No blue scriptures. This was a commercial for selling Mormonism. I was shocked. Read more »

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Slippery Slope part 2

Recently in Georgia a graduate student was exposed to serious anti-Christian bias by the faculty of a public university. Like my first post I am convinced we are on a slippery slope towards society being intolerant in regards to traditional Christian moral teachings

http://www.nationalreview.com/phi-beta-cons/231312/get-thee-gay-pride-parade

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The $1 Trillion Deficit Year To Date

I saw this article that said the US has spent $1 Trillion more than it took in so far this Fiscal year. Wow. This article then speaks to what you could do with $1 Trillion. It is amazing how much one could do with that money, it is also frightening to think what the Government did with that money… It is also astounding to consider that none of us can outspend ourselves like that every year without dire consequences – is the Government any different??? Read the full article below.

Read more »

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When Family History and Church History Collide

Yesterday before walking into the Orem, Utah library (to visit an aunt who works there) I called my parents. They asked me rather urgently if I could pick up a book for them: “Stories From the Life of Porter Rockwell” by John W. Rockwell and Jerry Borrowman. Read more »

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Your thoughts on Godhood, creation, and eternity?

The age of this universe is currently estimated at just under 14 billion years, though there have been a few recent suggestions that it could be older than that. In any case, LDS concepts of existence and eternity very strongly suggest, then, that all of us predate the universe itself, an axiom I take as given. I also take as given the axiom that God (the Father) created this universe for His purposes (as per Moses 1). This has strong implications of extra-dimensional existence, which I’ve written about before.

However, I occasionally run across comments from Latter-day Saints who, in interpreting the King Follett Discourse (or their understanding of it), seem to feel that God the Father experienced mortality within this universe, that is, He lived a mortal life (albeit in a Christ-like role) on some planet within this universe during the course of its existence.  I don’t believe that — I think that when God the Father “dwelled on an earth the same as Jesus Christ”, that it took place in a  universe and an existence separate from and that predates this universe. In my opinion, that makes far more sense and is far more consistent with other LDS doctrine and scriptures than the “experienced mortality in this universe” idea.

I’m curious, however, what everyone else thinks.  ..bruce..

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Going to Church has become a Risky Business

A few weeks ago, my son was being particularly fussy in Sacrament Meeting and my daughter offered to take him to get a drink. I agreed and, quite frankly, enjoyed the few minutes of Sacrament Meeting I could focus on while they were gone. This rendezvous at the water fountain has become a habit and it seems harmless enough: the kids, who get NOTHING from Sacrament Meeting, get to stretch their legs and get a drink, and I get to listen for a moment. We always sit in the front row on the short pew by the front doors and the water fountain is about 7 feet away.

Last week there was a brief announcement at the beginning of Relief Society that there would be a new routine for retrieving kids after Sunday meetings: all the Primary children should be picked up from the Primary room at the conclusion of the meetings. Although no reason was given for the change, I could think of some good ones and it seemed like it could be a really good idea. We’ve done it for two weeks now, and everything worked for me.

Today, as I sat in a ward-members’ backyard with a bunch of other moms as our kids swam, I got some new information: a registered sex-offender (possession of kiddie porn) had been attending Church with us, and that is what precipitated the change in Primary routine.

What bothers you the most about this? Read more »

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Getting Spicy at BYU

In the wake of Old Spice Man’s explosion on YouTube and Twitter last week the following video out of BYU has become popular as well. It is too well done to not share.

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Duty to God Diversity

Today our ward did the relaunch of the Duty to God program for the Young Men.  I think the changes to the program itself merit some discussion and might post on the program itself in the future.  But something else struck me as we went through the materials for the new program.

The Church has produced a DVD to explain the new program.  It has two sections.  One for the boys and another for leadership, aimed at both the adult leaders and the boys that are in leadership roles.  I watched both sections today.  I am not sure that the videos did a great job of explaining the new program (it is a bit hard to explain) but they did do something very interesting.  They showed vignettes with young men taken part in the program.  This starts off very normally and then suddenly they switch contexts from a US ward to one in Latin America and the kids are speaking Spanish.  These kids are shown living in conditions that are pretty common in Latin America but would be shocking to many LDS kids in the USA.

The translation is by way of subtitles and there is no voice-over.  My impression was that about half of the dramatizations were done in Spanish, making for about a third of the total video.  The same pattern was repeated in both sections of the video.

It seemed that part of the point of including these segments was to show that the program is applicable regardless of the situation of the local unit.  It works well because for the most part it is self-directed.  But I thought this was an interesting way of implying that and an encouraging acknowledgment of the fact that we belong to a worldwide church.  I wonder if the same video is shown in Latin America.

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Mormons and Catholics: Two sides of the same coin?

This morning, as is my custom, I staggered out of bed (having gotten home from work at midnight, dinked around until 1 am, and fallen asleep at around 2 am) into the living room where Bill always leaves the paper (Daily News, St. George, UT) on the coffee table for me. I’ve never asked, but I think this is some sort of service thing he and our therapist have agreed upon and now I take it for granted. He’s quite religious about it and it’s a sweet thing because he doesn’t read the paper that much, but even for him to acknowledge this is important to me is pretty big. So….

This morning there was an article about a newly re-vamped Catholic Church in St. George and its dedication, with Elder Russell M. Ballard listed as a keynote speaker. I’m so glad. So glad to read about this and know we’re coming a long way, baby, toward accepting and embracing the validity of other faiths. I don’t know if this happens regularly; I’ve never heard of it before, but that doesn’t mean anything. Read more »

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Things Heard In Sunday School

A few weeks ago in Gospel Doctrine, we were talking about David and Bathsheba. The teacher was trying to compare the temptation that David underwent with today/s world. Two comments really struck me (in more ways than one). First, someone commented that he wanted to defend David as Bathsheba was up on her roof bathing in the nude without a curtain or anything. His wife would never bathe on their roof without some kind of curtain shielding her. His wife piped up that Bathsheba should have used a curtain unless Bathsheba was really trying to tempt David. Second, we then talked about how we can avoid adultery. One guy said “we can avoid it if we only call each other Brother and Sister, that way we don’t know each other’s first names and we don’t get too familiar.” I began thinking how glad I was that none of my co-workers could see where I was that day or they would think I was crazy… So Brothers & Sisters, what have you heard in Sunday School that really struck you?

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Thought for the day

More than one presumed “theological problem” comes only from the lack of respect with which God treats our prejudices.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila

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Top 10 Signs It’s Pageant Time

10. The local paper does it’s once annual story abut those crazy Mormons who just KEEP ON COMING.

9. Half of your ward is AWOL, leaving near mass chaos when there is no one in nursery to drop your kids off to and you have already promised to sub in both Sunday School AND Primary.

8. The “What Mormons Don’t Tell” truck shows up, along with the megaphones and people wearing temple clothing.

7. There is more than one 15-passenger van in the church parking lot.

6. The pleading for us to PLEASE sign up for our allotment of Pageant assignments slows down to a trickle as those announcing realize that the only people left have walkers or infants and probably can’t direct traffic in the parking lots or act as bouncers at The Hill.

5. The sudden bloating of members at your Sacrament Meeting means that you don’t have anywhere to park or sit, but they also bolster your anemic congregational singing.

4. The ambient noise in the hallway is actually quieter than the dull roar of children and coughs in the Chapel.

3. ALL my local Mormon Facebook friends have invited me to Pageant and I received a special e-mail from my stake telling me how I can do the same.

2. Donny Osmond is spotted at the Chill & Grill.

Read more »

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Visit Disneyland – Vermont: The Joseph Smith Birthplace Monument

As I exited the car in the small parking lot at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Monument near Sharon, VT, I was immediately overcome with a feeling that I can only describe as otherworldly… something I knew I had felt before, though in a much different context. It was quite a Saturday’s Warrior moment.

No, it wasn’t the spirit. You see, in the woods surrounding the visitors’ center, they pipe in a constant stream of choral music. Now, I have nothing against the song “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” choral music, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (quite the contrary, really). However, when brought together in the situation described here, I have to admit that I was a little creeped out.

As I stepped out into what I expected to look and feel (and sound) like nature, I was caught unaware by an ethereal, disembodied soundtrack. I felt like I had just arrived at Disneyland… a sensation only enhanced as the music changed gears from primary songs / hymns to the choir’s Showtime album.
Read more »

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Slippery Slope?

According to the AP from the Foxnews website a professor at University of Illinois was fired for saying he agrees with Catholic teachings on Homosexual sex. Personally I believe that this is a sign of things to come.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/09/university-illinois-instructor-fired-catholic-beliefs/

Do you agree with the University’s decision?

Is this a sign of things to come?

Does the 1st Amendment protect speech at Public Universities?

86 Comments
Craigslist

I was looking at various items on Craigslist. On a whim I punched in the word “Mormon” and was amused to see this: Read more »

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