Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Political Quote

Today's quote comes from Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post, who concluded her column assessing the chances of each Republican candidate with this:

"Which brings us finally to Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, one of whom will be the nominee and very possibly the next president. Although both candidates have perfect hair, the nominee will not be a woman."

The air of inevitability continues to swirl around Mitt Romney. . .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

America, The "Good Spot of Ground" (Jacob 5:43)

On the eve of July 4th, eighteen months ago, I wrote a post entitled "Pilgrims, Patriots and Prophets." It went on to become one of the most popular posts on this page. The back story of the celebration of Thanksgiving is outlined here in another recent post, and both are linked to the freedoms we enjoy in this great country of America.

I am routinely assailed from all sides with predictions of the demise of America, or America in decline, or the end of America as we know it. To the critics and the naysayers I say, "Phooey." Become an optimist. Choose to believe that America was, still is, and will yet prove to be unstoppable. America is an idea whose time has come once again to renew and rise from the dire predictions. She may be chastened for a season, but if she will remember her underpinnings and keep God enthroned as the Sovereign, she will never fail.

We are divided now as a nation, much as we were when Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War in 1863, issued his proclamation with these pleading words, ". . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

George Washington, in 1789, offered his own Thanksgiving Day proclamation. When you read his and Lincoln's words, they leave no doubt these men were devout in their belief in Almighty God.

So today on Thanksgiving 2011, how are things with us, America? I say they are never better, and most certainly better than they were in 1863 by contrast. We just need to be reminded that the lessons learned from the failed collectivist experiment in Jamestown still have merit and are worth remembering when our federal government threatens to become the tyrannical oppressor like the English throne once was in the seventeenth century. We learned lessons early in our history about the need for individual enterprise, self-reliance and personal exertion. Those skills were once honed and enthroned as the means for survival as the colonists carved an existence out of the forests of a continent with nothing but promise and unlimited opportunity as far as the eyes could see. Increased productivity after the near collapse of Jamestown was the result of giving every man a plot of ground (individual property ownership) coupled with the freedom to grow his own crops and work the land his way.

The Plymouth Plantation, once individuals were enthroned rather the collective, became the model for the future destiny of America.

However successful that model was for two hundred years, during the past hundred years or so of American history we have seen the very vocal minority of Americans rise up. They have railed against the American tradition of individual enterprise. The reason? Free enterprise, they say, has not provided an equally successful outcome for everyone. It is as if the statement in our founding documents that "all men are created equal" must also guarantee or ensure an equal outcome for all. This vocal minority has defied the American tradition. They will tell you wealth inequality is not the desired outcome from a free society. They would have us return to a communal experiment like Jamestown.

When we cross the threshold of a belief that wealth belongs to the government to be distributed by benevolent dictators to ensure an equal outcome, we have then reversed course. That is not the American experiment at all. It is a return to the failed policies of the past. We can never assume that anyone in government, even a benevolent dictator, has the requisite wisdom to redistribute wealth. No one is that wise, especially when they are dealing with the wealth others have earned through their own diligence and persistence.

When we cede our American heritage to that vocal minority, we have ceased to live in the American way. The argument was framed long ago, even before the foundation of this earth was laid in the pre-mortal world. Christ acknowledged there would be risk if moral agency were granted to all. Some would abuse their agency. Some would fail. Success could not be assured for everyone. Satan's appeal was attractive -- an equal outcome for all was on the table for a vote. All in favor? One-third put up their hands for Satan, and were cast out. The rest of us put up our hands to sustain the Father and the Son. Jesus Christ would become the Redeemer for all who would voluntarily come unto Him. There was to be no compulsion, no assurances of exaltation. It would be risky and it would require individual exertion and faithful obedience to the covenants of the gospel.

In America we believe in the sovereignty of the individual and private property rights under the Sovereign the founders consistently referred to as "Divine Providence." Though we are perilously close to it in 2011, we as a people, free Americans, have never yet adopted an idea that crowns the sovereignty of the collective. Since the dawn of Earth's organization we have upheld the individual. We have accepted the risk of failure. Until recent years in a desperate attempt to preserve the status quo, as a country we have never said, "They are too big to fail." We traditionally have never embraced the notion that people needed to be bailed out when they failed. Failure was and always has been part of the plan of salvation because moral agency is in play. The idea of government-mandated social safety nets has quietly but persistently lulled us to sleep in the last hundred years.

So on this Thanksgiving Day 2011, I give thanks to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the bounties of this "good spot of ground. . . even that which was choice above all other parts of the land of my vineyard." (See Jacob 5:43). There was intentional design involved to provide bounties in natural resources. There would be a place on Earth where the blessings of freedom could take root and flourish, and those blessings are mentioned in the preamble of the greatest document ever penned by the hand of man, the Constitution of the United States of America.

My thanks this year flow to God for enabling us to continue preserving our liberty. This is still a unique and exceptional country of ours. It was designed to be so if we could apply the choices of our agency to prevent those who would undermine and erode the stated goals of enthroning individual sovereignty here. When we permit the vocal minority who threaten to destroy the foundation upon which America was built, our free-enterprise, private-property system, and displace it with the collective redistribution of resources to equalize wealth, we have forsaken our heritage and squandered our agency.

Freedom has never been free, after all. The warriors on the battlefields of this world have been forever the watchful and protective guardians of freedom's flame. I despise war. As Benjamin Franklin said, "There is no such thing as a good war, and no such thing as a bad peace." But peace has been taken from the earth because of the abuse of agency. That said, we must forever remain grateful to Americans who voluntarily serve us in all branches of the Armed Forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They have valiantly defended this Republic and all our freedoms. They've done it for 235 years and counting.

When we brashly launched the American experiment in 1776 with an audacious accusation against King George III, the British tyrant, our founders penned a "self-evident truth" in the Declaration of Independence. The document states boldly their belief that all men are created equal. Every man is born with the same opportunity to make of his life what he chooses.

That inspired declaration is consistent with every revealed jot and tittle of the plan of happiness we have received from our Father in Heaven. It was never intended either in heaven or here on earth that every man would take the opportunity equally. The inequality of results was always assured. Once you pick agency, outcomes cannot be guaranteed, nor should they be. Guaranteeing outcomes is stripping freedoms. May we never tire of permitting opportunity for success in this country and allowing everyone to keep the fruits of his labor without fear of redistribution by a federal government grown too big, too cumbersome, and too invasive.

Let us give thanks for the colonists who originally discovered the secret to productivity, wealth, and happiness. Let us be vigilant in preserving that exceptional American tradition. Lest we forget, let us all remember these truths today especially. Let us remember that socialism was never, is not now, and never will be the law of consecration.

I am grateful for many things on this Thanksgiving Day in 2011. Most of all I am grateful for the God who continues to bless this "good spot of ground," the America I love, despite the growing evidence we are less and less deserving.

Let us realign our thinking and preserve these precious blessings for future generations.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Signs of the Times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

by Harry Anderson

Every year the course curriculum in the Church calls for these two lessons. I've taught both numerous times in my life in the Church. What never seems to disappoint whenever these topics come up is the number of Latter-day Saints who are clueless in their comments. Words like, "The Second Coming could happen any day." Or another favorite: "If we are more righteous, we will hasten the day." Or, "All the signs have been fulfilled, it's just a matter of how much longer the Lord waits."

These days I normally sit back and take it all in. I've all but given up trying to re-position the conversations back to the scriptures. It's just not helpful to the teacher.

Because we've been travelling around to various wards for events involving grandchildren, no one will guess the ward of which I speak here. The instructor opened the Gospel Principles manual, cited the lesson title, then closed that book and opened Bruce R. McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, and proceeded to read the 51 signs of the times cited therein by the author. He got to number 19 before the time expired.

The pattern continues, much to my dismay. A few weeks ago, same experience. Topic: The Postmortal Spirit World. Approach: Cite the lesson topic, then turn to Duane Crowther and someone (a non-member of the Church), who claimed to have been to the spirit world and back. Amazing.

Only one single scripture was cited in last week's lesson on the Signs of the Second Coming, so let us begin there: "And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man;" (D&C 68:11).

It would have been nice just to get the context of that one isolated verse, but it wasn't to be. The context is that the verse of scripture cited was a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith while the Church was still in its infancy (November 1831) -- only eighteen months after it was organized. It was a call for "all the faithful elders of my church" to be involved in missionary work. It was a clarion call to "Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written." (D&C 68:8-10).

The "signs following" spoken of here include the signs that follow all believers in Jesus Christ -- they emulate the teachings and works of the Savior in their daily walk in discipleship. Those are perhaps the most compelling signs of the times: The miracle of the change of one heart at a time in the midst of all the wickedness is routinely undervalued.

Despite all the wickedness in the world today there are people who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Make no mistake, it is a daily struggle to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. It is a daily walk in faith that He was who He said He was -- the Redeemer of Israel who is mighty to save because He alone atoned for our sins. Believing that, His disciples today mirror His image in their countenance. The evidence of the existence of His disciples is everywhere. That's a sign of the times you can take to the bank.

The sequel lesson tomorrow, "The Second Coming of Christ," is the one I get to teach. From the moment Christ was taken up into heaven in the company of many witnesses on the Mount of Olives forty days after He was resurrected, speculation about the timing of His return has abounded. The expectation was chiseled into granite by two angels standing beside the Apostles who queried, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go." (Acts 1:11). All through sacred writings since that moment the anticipation has been that at any moment He could return.

Many years ago I spotted a bumper sticker: "Jesus is coming and he's pissed." It was a six-word memoir before they were even in vogue. The righteous will welcome Him, the wicked will tremble in fear. A Great and a Dreadful Day. Another six-word anomaly.

The lesson tomorrow suggests He will do five specific things when He comes again:

by Del Parson
1. He will cleanse the earth. Whenever something bad happens, people immediately jump to the conclusion that the Savior's return is imminent. I've written before about the reaction to 9/11. Many in our community thought it was the trigger for the much-anticipated Battle of Armageddon. He will come in great power and great glory. There will be no mistaking His identity this time. He will be clothed in garments of red, suggesting He trod the wine press alone, drenched in His own blood for the sins of mankind. (D&C 101:24-25; 133:42-62, also given in November, 1831): "And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat. And so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places. And his voice shall be heard: I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me; And I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart." While artists continue to represent the Savior in white (see above), the scriptures are clear. When He comes again His garments will be stained with the blood of the wicked instead of His own as they were in Gethsemane. (See D&C 19:16-19). "The end of the world," is interpreted to be the "destruction of the wicked." (See JS-M 1:4).

2. He will judge His people. The separation of the sheep from the goats, as foretold in Matthew 25:31-46 and D&C 63:54 will occur. The time for dithering and fence sitting will come to an end in an instant. The separation between the righteous and the wicked will be complete, judgment will be rendered. The same thing happens when we die and go through the veil -- a partial judgment between light and dark, good and evil, and righteousness and wickedness. (See Alma 40:11-14). I suspect the anticipation for the Second Coming on this side of the veil might be akin to the anticipation of the resurrection on the other side. (D&C 138:50). In the destruction, some of the righteous will perish right along with the wicked, suggesting that how we live our lives determines our eternal inheritance, not the timing or whether or not we survive destruction that is coming. (See TPJS, 162).

3. He will usher in the Millennium. For 1,000 years after His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will come to reign upon planet Earth. Those who are alive on the Earth at the time of His coming will be "caught up" (meaning resurrected) to meet Him at His coming. This event is what is described as the "morning of the first resurrection" in sacred places. (See D&C 88:96, a revelation given the day after Christmas, 1832, known as the "olive leaf. . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us"). It is really a continuation of the general resurrection that happened when He became the "first fruits" of the resurrection during his meridian ministry. Then those who have died and been faithful during their mortal probation between the time of His resurrection and the Second Coming, those who have become heirs of the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, will also be "caught up" to meet Him at His coming. In other words, the morning of the first resurrection will be here.

President Brigham Young
President Brigham Young captured the essence of what will be happening during the Millennium in these words:

In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God [see Revelation 3:12], and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is — Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them when they shall have been officiated for, and bring them up. And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then man will be sealed to man until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene. (Discourses of Brigham Young, 116).

4. He will complete the First Resurrection. As we mentioned above, there is a specific order to resurrection. The faithful come forth from the graves first. (See D&C 88:97-98). The wicked who are destroyed at His coming remain in their graves until the end of the Millennium. Why? So they may have every possible opportunity to accept and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and to repent fully of their sins. It is the merciful part of "the great plan of happiness." The keys of resurrection will be in the hands of faithful patriarchal heads to each family. Who more than they would want to allow for every chance for their posterity to accept and embrace the gospel? All of our Heavenly Father's children will be given ample chances to see things as they really are, and to pierce the fogs of deception that have held them bound. This quote from Gospel Principles (p. 260) sums up:

"After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, other righteous people who had died were also resurrected. They appeared in Jerusalem and also on the American continent. (See Matthew 27:52–53; 3 Nephi 23:9–10).This was the beginning of the First Resurrection. Some people have been resurrected since then. Those who already have been resurrected and those who will be resurrected at the time of His coming will all inherit the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:50–70).

"After the resurrection of those who will inherit celestial glory, another group will be resurrected: those who will receive a terrestrial glory. [I suggest the word "after" is when they are "ready" and not before, perhaps also as long as at the end of the Millennium, having settled their eternal station in their own minds and their righteous fathers before them having done all they could to affect the outcome in love, persuasion and long-suffering]. When all these people have been resurrected, the First Resurrection will be completed.

"The wicked who are living at the time of the Second Coming of the Lord will be destroyed in the flesh. They, along with the wicked who are already dead, will have to wait until the last resurrection. All of the remaining dead will rise to meet God. They will either inherit the telestial kingdom or be cast into outer darkness with Satan (see D&C 76:32–33, 81–112, emphasis mine)."

5. He will take His rightful place as King of heaven and earth. The "intrigues between the nations," all the "wars and rumors of wars" were all foreseen in a revelation on Christmas Day, 1832, known as D&C 87. We learn "with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations." (Emphasis mine). It is a worthy goal to pray for "peace on earth," but there will be no peace on earth until He comes again. Peace has been taken from the earth because of the unrighteous exercise of moral agency among the inhabitants. When Christ comes again He will come in triumphant glory to rule and reign, a complete reversal of His first birth in an obscure manger in Bethlehem. He will come this time as "Lord of lords, and King of kings." The epic words of Handel's Messiah, taken from Revelation 17:14, will finally be fulfilled: "Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6).

It is almost a "rite of passage" for members of the Church to speculate on the timing of the Second Coming. I know it was a passion of mine at one point in my life. When one is immersed in the study of the Word, it seems events could be accelerated and timing could be imminent. However, age, experience and hopefully some acquired wisdom along the way tempers such pursuits about timetables. I know I have been tempered in my life.

President Boyd K. Packer
We need look no further than the most recent General Conference to the words of the chief Apostle today, President Boyd K. Packer, for a clue about the timing of the Second Coming. Said he,

Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right — getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren. ("Counsel to Youth," Boyd K. Packer).

I would add one more valuable perspective for your consideration from President Lorenzo Snow, who stood in the Tabernacle over 100 years ago to open the 70th Annual General Conference. It was the first conference after the turn of the century in 1900, and it culminated a period of great trial and tribulation for the Church. Total Church membership then was approaching 300,000, with the majority of those members living in Utah.

President Lorenzo Snow
On Friday, April 6, 1900, President Snow said: “The Lord has prospered us amazingly, and we are doing large things at the present time. . .  Now that we are approaching our seventy-first year, the Lord expects that we will do something — something that will cause the nations to marvel, as what we have done has caused them already to wonder.”

Then this thought-provoking statement: “Now, Latter-day Saints, how is it with us? We have received the Gospel. We have received the kingdom of God, established on the earth. We have had trouble; we have been persecuted. We were driven from Ohio; we were driven from Missouri; we were driven from Nauvoo; and once we were driven for a time from this beautiful city. Many have lost thousands of dollars; lost their homes and all they had, and some of the brethren have seen their wives and children lay down their lives because of the hardships they had to experience. . . The people have looked with astonishment at the willingness of the Latter-day Saints to suffer these things. Why do we do this? . . . What is it that enables us to endure these persecutions and still rejoice?”

President Snow then answered his own question. I suggest his answer still reverberates in the hearts of all true disciples over 100 years later: “It is because we have had revelations from the Almighty; because He has spoken to us in our souls and has given to us the Holy Ghost. . .  This Church will stand, because it is upon a firm basis. It is not from man; it is not from the study of the New Testament or the Old Testament; it is not the result of the learning that we received in colleges nor seminaries, but it has come directly from the Lord. The Lord has shown it to us by the revealing principle of the Holy Spirit of light and every man can receive this same spirit.” (Conference Report, April 1900, 2–3, emphasis mine).

President Gordon B. Hinckley
President Gordon B. Hinckley, while touring the missions and stakes in Africa, made this assertion in 1998: "It isn't who we are and where we live. It is our attitude, our love and testimony, our faith and our conviction that make a difference in turning membership in this great and sacred Church."

He said that the membership [of the Church] will grow, "where there are now hundreds, there will be thousands, there will be tens of thousands. This gospel is true; it will spread over the earth.

"With 10 million members we've only begun. We've barely scratched the surface of what will come. I haven't the slightest doubt of that." (As reported 02/28/98 by John L. Hart, Church News staff writer, emphasis mine).

The take away from today's post? I hope it is this: You have time to live your lives in faith and anticipation for the Second Coming in the spirit of hope. There is still much to do before that day comes. So much, in fact, that it is a very long list of unfulfilled events waiting to transpire as we build Zion together.

Mormon eschatology is (or should be) clearly defined in our minds with no uncertainty.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moral Imperatives and Penn State - Secrets Shouted from the Housetops

The Savior warned us to never assume that our secrets would be safe. He prophesied they would be shouted from the housetops one day:

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Luke 12:2-3).

In light of developments at Penn State University last week, we would all do well to ponder that passage of scripture. We have all done and said things in secret, perhaps, that we would be all be embarrassed about if they were to be shouted from the housetops. In this age of digital communication, truly our every word can be instantly broadcast around the world. Our digital footprint is available to the world and on fully display. From any mobile phone, computer or other digital device we communicate instantly with others, and some of us actually still believe we can do whatever we do anonymously or in secret. As I suggested in an earlier post, not so!

Digital technology destroys our presumption of secrecy. WikiLeaks exposed thousands of classified government documents, embarrassing diplomatic leaders everywhere. How many of you know teenagers whose innocence has been betrayed when they were caught “sexting” to a friend? What they thought was innocent fun is suddenly broadcast everywhere, relationships are destroyed, and pain is inflicted.

Our deep dark secrets are harder and harder to hide. Sooner or later we are betrayed. If not in this world, doesn't anyone who believes in God have a sense of moral accountability before Almighty God? If what we do and say in secret is not revealed in this world, it will certainly be on full display when we stand before the judgment bar, won't it? How are we to assume we can hide from an omniscient God?

King Benjamin observed: "I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not." (Mosiah 4:29-30).

The question God poses to Adam in the garden after he has partaken of the forbidden fruit, "Adam, where art thou?" is not because God didn't know the answer. Rather, He was more interested in whether Adam knew the answer. I submit we must make every effort to speak, write, and act in greater purity before the Lord.

We are living in a very public world these days. As disciples of Christ, we are charged with bearing witness to His name in our lips, in our hearts and in our daily walk. I'm not as worried about what others think about me as I am about what my Savior thinks. His eyes are upon us all. He knows us. He will succor us in all things. The least we can do is reflect His glory in our lives in exchange for His atoning sacrifice on our behalf. Even though true disciples are not yet perfected, their diligence is required in eschewing the temptations with which we are beset.

Which brings me to the topic today. In the category of colossal moral lapses, cover-ups and hidden sins, the events at Penn State this last week are in a lamentable category all by themselves.

Former Penn State head football coach, Joe Paterno 
In case you've been living under a rock, a storied football tradition at Penn State University came crashing back down to earth with the revelation that a defensive coach was in fact a serial child molester and had abused at least eight young boys under the noses of the university's top brass. After many years of head football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier, acting in what they deemed to be the best interests of "the program," the board of trustees finally took action and fired both of them abruptly when the scandal blew up in their faces last week. The assistant coach who was allowed to retire without any of these sordid facts tainting his reputation, now stands arrested and will likely face the rest of his life in prison. The athletic director was put on administrative leave.

What a sad end to the career of college football's winningest coach. Whatever his legacy might have been in the future, it will now be forever tainted by his inability or unwillingness to prosecute swift justice against his assistant who was the perpetrator of the abuse against so many young and innocent boys. The scandal and his role in it will forever be the first item listed in his resume. How tragic!

"The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky's alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years — continuing to target new victims," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly. "Equally disturbing is the lack of action and apparent lack of concern among those same officials, and others who received information about this case, who either avoided asking difficult questions or chose to look the other way."

I have not read the court documents, but those who have waded through them describe Paterno's assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, as "a monster" at work under the safety and protection of a bureaucratic cover-up designed to protect "the program."

Even more troubling, perhaps, is the rioting on campus that ensued. I kept wondering as I watched those scenes unfold, "What are the parents of these students thinking about the lack of moral clarity in their children that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong?"

It's one thing to be loyal to an iconic football coach, but does that loyalty manifest itself inappropriately and is it out of step with reality when it supports the obvious lack of moral turpitude of those who were in a position to end the abuse but failed to?

Do crowds of college students taking to the streets in the middle of the night and overturning a media truck in fury for reporting the facts of the matter make the disclosure of the beastly conduct of one assistant football coach somehow acceptable?

Does defending the indefensible somehow trump the morality of basic human conduct?

When does football become more important than what is considered a reasonable, even minimal, standard of acceptable moral behavior?

Even in a godless society, does sexual abuse of young boys by an authority figure EVER become morally justified in the name of protecting "the program?"

Can anyone, even a casual observer, even begin to count the cost in the lives of those boys, their families and the sordid ramifications of their future lives in the wake of what was perpetrated upon their souls? I am a somber witness of what can happen to the life of an innocent child who is sodomized at a young age. The ripples in that pond can go on and on forever.

I sincerely hope the twisted thinking of school administrators at Penn State who looked the other way in this sordid series of events is not representative of what is going on nationwide in other schools, but there is evidence it is not unique to Penn State. The culture of the NCAA has contributed to these events, I am sorry to say. The quest for money, ever increasing amounts of it, while somehow proclaiming its amateur status is naive. You can't have it both ways.

The purity of the NCAA's amateur image is continually challenged as recruiting violations pile up, disclosures of under the table payments to star athletes by boosters are disclosed, and the list goes on and on. Those guilty of crimes are routinely slapped on the hands, then go on to sign multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts with professional teams. Purity and college (even high school) athletic programs are not often two words found in the same sentence. There is a distortion over what is right and what can be considered acceptable conduct when boosting your "program," it seems.

The stark revelations at Penn State are a reminder once again that what we think is true, we hope is true, because we seem to value sports figures so much in our society, is nothing more than a sordid sham of excessive proportions.

The moral question was put into sharp contrast for me when I read in The New York Times a statement of one of the rioters who said, "It's not fair. The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population."

Really? The board of trustees acted decisively and accurately when it ended the season of Paterno prematurely by firing him, along with the university's president. As leaders of the university, the lapse in their moral judgment was appalling. Where's the outrage for the abused? Students are angry because their beloved coach was fired?

The evidence suggests both knew what was going on for fifteen years right under their noses and they took no decisive measures to clean house. Now their reputations, whatever they were before the events of last week, will be forever tainted and attached to this scandal. Evermore, they will have to live with their complicit decisions to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

And there is nothing supportive rioting students can do to alter that fact.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mitt Romney, Daniel's Little Stone, and World Domination

Because Mitt Romney is running for President of the United States in this campaign cycle, much attention is being focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though he laid concerns to rest in the last presidential campaign about taking his instructions from 47 E. South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, much as John F. Kennedy would have to do when he was the first Catholic to run for the presidency, rumors and innuendo persist. What are the true aims of this upstart Mormon who would presume to have the American people put him in the White House? Is there a secret agenda among Mormons to control the world?

In a word, Yes. But it's not what you think.

In a previous post I discredited the infamous "White Horse Prophecy," and today I would make a further declaration now that Romney's candidacy has advanced to the point it has, making him the presumptive choice of the Republicans. It is this: With or without Mitt Romney in the White House, Daniel's prophecy about the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands will be fulfilled in its entirety. Mitt Romney or any other Mormon who runs and is elected to public office notwithstanding, the true prophecies and Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream will come to pass. The little stone was interpreted by Daniel to be "a kingdom" that would begin rolling after being cut "from a mountain without hands" that would become larger as it rolled forth until it had filled the whole earth. (See Daniel 2:34-35, 44; D&C 65:2).

That little stone today is easily identifiable as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Orson Pratt, "Theocracy," JD 7:210). It began with six members in a log home in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830. Thus was born a "mini-nation within a nation." A branch of the house of Israel had been planted "in a good spot of ground" and would eventually flourish and spread forth. (See Jacob 5:25). It is the fulfillment of the promise made to Father Abraham, who was promised he would become the father of "many nations." (JST Genesis 17:8-9; Genesis 17:5).

President Gordon B. Hinckley
If the truth be told, with or without Mitt Romney, the Church has become a mighty empire, characterized in recent years by this statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, who observed in 2005 the demise of the British Empire: "There is now another empire. It is the empire of Christ the Lord. It is the empire of the restored gospel. It is the kingdom of God. And the sun never sets on this kingdom. It has not come of conquest, of conflict, or war. It has come of peaceful persuasion, of testimony, of teaching, one here and another there." ("Opening Remarks," Ensign, November 4, 2005).

The enemies of Mitt Romney have nothing to fear. If they think for one minute by defeating him the little stone can be stopped in its tracks, or that it will alter or reverse its course by stopping his candidacy, they are sadly mistaken. With or without Mitt Romney in the White House, the destiny of the little stone's trajectory and the Church's role in it remains unchanged.

There was a time anciently when Israel was "a nation within a nation." (See Deuteronomy 4:34). By turning away from God's law, however, Israel lost her identity as a nation. (See Jeremiah 31:6). On April 6, 1830, however, Israel regained her status as a nation with the restoration of the gospel and the establishment of a latter-day kingdom. This kingdom was a spiritual kingdom in the beginning, not a political one, and not until the eventual return of the King of kings and Lord of lords will it become the universal nation referred to by Jehovah when He appeared to Abraham in Haran. (See Micah 4:3-7).

As early as 1832, in a revelation given September 22 and 23, we have this directive from the Lord:

And verily I say unto you, the rest of my servants, go ye forth as your circumstances shall permit, in your several callings, unto the great and notable cities and villages, reproving the world in righteousness of all their unrighteous and ungodly deeds, setting forth clearly and understandingly the desolation of abomination in the last days.
For, with you saith the Lord Almighty, I will rend their kingdoms; I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens shall tremble.
For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it, and know that I am, and that I will come and reign with my people.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Amen. (D&C 84:117-120, emphasis mine).

The kingdom of God on the earth today is now worldwide in its influence, and it will continue to grow. Nothing can stop its forward momentum. Today, already, it fills "the whole earth." Temples dot the globe, an eventuality long foretold. One day it will be found in all nations -- a "nation within nations." It is because truth and light cannot be suppressed.

Joseph Smith
Said Joseph Smith, writing in 1842 to John Wentworth, Editor of the Chicago Democrat:

The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, "The work is done.” (HC 4:535-40).

Even earlier in 1834, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Church still in its infancy, Wilford Woodruff told of the following event:

President Wilford Woodruff
On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. . . . When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. . . . When they got through the Prophet said, "Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it." I was rather surprised. He said "it is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America — it will fill the world.” (CR, April 1898, 57).

Two years later in dedicating the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph prayed, "that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth." (D&C 109:72).

Truman Madsen characterized another such audacious statement by Joseph Smith's successor, Brigham Young, in these words:

President Brigham Young
There is from the earliest records of this man's [Brigham Young's] vision, incredible grasp. Imagine walking into this valley [Salt Lake], one tree, and it is dead. Stands up on a wagon the day after they arrived, a hundred and something people, opening line, "Attention the whole world." And then (paraphrasing), "We have come here to fill these rocky mountains. We have come here to establish, never to be thrown down, the kingdom of God on the earth. From this place the power and word of God will reach all mankind." And a few other humble and minor predictions like that. Brigham had the vision. (Lecture Three by Truman G. Madsen, Life and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Tape 2, Bookcraft, 1997).

President Heber J. Grant
President Heber J. Grant offered these insights on the future of the Church: "Our enemies have never done anything that has injured this work of God, and they never will. . . [A]nd all the disbelief of the world, all the opposition of all the world cannot stop it, God has established it and it will go on and on until it has fulfilled its destiny. . . The little stone cut from the mountain without hands is to roll forth and fill the whole earth." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Heber J. Grant, 216).

President David O. McKay
The worldwide reach of the Church began to blossom and spread under the administration of President David O. McKay. In 1952, speaking in General Conference, he said: "God bless the Church. It is worldwide. Its influence should be felt by all nations. May his spirit influence men everywhere and incline their hearts toward good will and peace." (Gospel Ideals, 584, emphasis mine).

The promises made to Father Abraham have come to pass already, and will continue to expand in the days and years ahead. In every sense the promise that the Lord would "make of [Abraham] a great nation," and the promise that through his seed "all the families/nations of the earth" would be blessed are being fulfilled. The seed of Abraham have become a nation within all the nations.

We must make clear the stone cut out of the mountain without hands has already rolled forth. It has had an impact upon nations and kingdoms. Even in recent months kingdoms of tyrannical dictators have continued to fall in succession. Since the restoration of the gospel in 1830, none has fallen through any force or violence by the Lord's emissaries who are among the seed of Abraham or Israel. Rather, all power and influence in the kingdom of God is exercised through the righteous use of the priesthood, "by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge." (D&C 121:41-42). Priesthood power in this kingdom is something quite different than the abuses of power so prevalent in governments set up by men's hands. Richard L. Bushman put it well in his epic treatment of Joseph Smith, in these words: "The democratic concern about political power seemed beside the point when the power of the priesthood was the power of God." (Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, 265-269).

The truth and light of the restoration of the gospel, now proclaimed by some 50,000 missionaries worldwide representing the Church, coupled with the light and majesty of the Constitution of the United States of America, are quietly and peacefully leavening the whole earth. (See Matthew 13:33; Mark 4:26-28; Luke 13:20-21; D&C 35:13-14).

People will push back on that statement that things are going forward "peacefully" since there is so much evidence of war and bloodshed. However, the Church has no control over the intrigues between nations, whether or not national borders are enforced. These conflicts have actually contributed to the spreading of the gospel among Abraham's seed and the spreading of Abraham's nation of believers within the nations in the midst of all the calamities that have befallen the world in the these last days. The days ahead will continue to add numbers to the ranks of those who will be weary of war, and they will increasingly turn to the stakes of Zion throughout the earth for safety. The City of Zion will someday be viewed as "terrible." "And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand." (D&C 5:14; 45:70).

The leavening of the nations continues, and never discount the influence of the constitutional government the Lord established in America. It was brought forth by good and wise men whom the Lord raised up for that very purpose. Its influence will continue to roll forth because the land of America was foreordained to preserve and protect freedoms throughout the earth. (D&C 101:77-80; 109:54).

So where is this notion of world dominion by the Mormons coming from? On the one hand it is God's kingdom rolling forth in fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, but it is also a Satanic copycat at work here, a demonic imitation of the real thing. Satan is offering up a counterfeit, and its earmarks are now more easily discerned. Ultimately, Satan's dominions on this earth will collapse in upon itself, because it is unsustainable. The little stone will destroy what is not destroyed by the wicked among themselves. Read this projection of the future, and then ask yourselves, "Is 'world domination' by the Mormons (if that is their aim) really such an awful specter compared to what might happen if the forces of Satan's counterfeit are triumphant?" You be the judge:

Paraphrasing three contemporaries of the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding the role of the Constitution in the Millennium: The other three seem to say, that this form of government, which the Prophet called a glorious standard, this Constitution which cost, according to our own scriptures, the best blood of the [18th] century, . . . this Constitution, which is a canape of guaranteeing certain basic rights in a republican form of government, will ultimately extend its influence worldwide. Other forms of government will eventually crumble, and in that sense if I read him correctly, the Constitution will win by default.
The only stable society that eventually will obtain, even in this glorious country of America, unless we repent, and there isn't a lot of evidence of that at the moment, . . . the only people that will be secure in both the spiritual and temporal senses, call it safety if you want, because Joseph did, will be in the stakes of Zion. Temporal as well as spiritual survival, will depend upon peoples clustering who do continue to uphold the Constitution, and who also honor, love and serve the God of his land, who is Jesus Christ. But eventually, and especially in the Millennium, world government will be literally based upon the Constitution. (Joseph Smith, as quoted and paraphrased in Lecture Three by Truman G. Madsen, Life and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Tape 2, Bookcraft, 1997, emphasis mine).

This great nation of Abraham will become more visible in the days ahead. We still have before us the building of the New Jerusalem. Among other things, Zion will be characterized as occupying all of North and South America. As it was in the days of Enoch, so shall it yet be: "The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people." (Moses 7:17). "The glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion." (D&C 45:66-71).

It will not occur overnight, the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies. However, with the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the conversion of Judah, the return of the Lord in glory, and the establishment of two world capitols, one in Zion and one in Jerusalem, with the return of the inhabitants of the city of Enoch, it will someday be said that truly the nation of Abraham has been born "in one day." (Isaiah 66:7-8). This will just be the beginning of the physical kingdom over which the Savior will someday rule and reign when He comes again. In the meantime, all the priesthood keys that authorize the Abrahamic covenant now available to everyone on earth today without restriction, reside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every day of their lives, faithful Mormons are conspiring for the salvation of the whole human race. It is a conspiracy of love, and the participants are the covenant people of modern Israel, and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, even Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah. To the descendants of Ishmael he is Allah. When His true identity is someday known, He will be reigning and ruling among us.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Said Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "This kingdom is going to grow and increase, multiply and abound, and nothing can stop it, until the day comes that it will be both an ecclesiastical kingdom and a political kingdom, and it will govern in all things - spiritual, civil, temporal, and political." (CR, October 1958, 116).


For all the printers' ink that is being spilled on Mitt Romney these days, and for all the people who fear those "cultists" - the Mormons - let it be known now and forevermore: The God of Abraham is doing everything within His awesome power to spread the truth about the salvation of God to every nation, kindred, tongue and people living on earth today. They are all His children. He would have them live in peace among one another, even if it means they will have to suffer mightily to learn the lessons that war can so cruelly teach. The land promised to the descendants of Abraham, including the children of Israel and Ishmael, will someday be cohabited in peace by Palestinian Arabs and Jews.

With or without Mitt Romney as the next occupant of the White House, the kingdom of God will roll forth until it has filled the whole earth. While Romney's candidacy is tantalizing to most members of the Church, he is doing everything he can to disavow how his presidency might be linked to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have just outlined in broad brush strokes what that doctrine is.

But Mitt Romney, I emphasize, or any other elder of Israel, has little to do with its ultimate fruition. A true theocracy transcends the petty political machinations presently before us. What we are witnessing today is political theater, having little to do with the prophecies described in holy writ.

We as a Church are the little stone Daniel saw and interpreted in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. We are the lineal descendants of Abraham with all the birthright blessings of the covenants. As members of the restored Church we are almost all descendants of Joseph, the birthright son of Israel, through Ephraim and Manasseh. We invite all to come in at the expansive tent door of Abraham, and we do mean ALL. In the tent of Abraham there is room for EVERYONE. That's "world domination," Abraham-style.

And it has little or nothing to do with Mitt Romney's candidacy. It might matter to Mitt whether or not he's elected, but whether Mitt Romney is eventually elected as President of the United States or not will have little impact on the final victory of the family of Abraham, the establishment of Zion, and the triumphal Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

That knowledge of the final outcome has been "out of the bag" for a very long time, and it's no secret conspiracy.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Try Writing Your Six-Word Memoir

Just when I think I've seen or heard everything, something new pops up on my radar. This week I stumbled across an idea that was something strangely unique:

Your life in a six-word memoir. Count them - only six words there. Then write paragraphs in six-word sentences. See how long you can go. It's an interesting exercise needing practice. Almost anyone can do it too. Once you start, you won't stop. But this paragraph will now end. Only six words, count them all.

Little did I know at the time there was a complete and well-developed genre for this kind of six-word exercise. Here's the web link to the original site where you'll find hundreds of examples in many categories of six-word expressions about nearly everything. Who knew?

So if you had to summarize your life to this point in six words, what would you say about yourself?

Here are some that jumped out at me for a variety of reasons, some serious, some funny, some whimsical, and some thought-provoking:

"Sharing smiles earning frequent happiness miles."

"Rediscovering why I married my wife."

"Happiness is an attitude of gratitude."

"Question that you would ask God?"

"Best advice for a new mother?"

"Could have used her advice today."

"America's naysayers outnumber the yes sayers."

"It's my home, I'll come back."

"This is America. Everything is improbable."

"Never thought I'd be this old."

"Have broken 6 Commandments, almost 7."

"Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!"

"Pain is temporary, hope is forever."

"Never made headlines, only wrote them."

"What's old is new again tomorrow."

"He who writes first writes best."

"Moms really are the best advice-givers."

"Considered suicide, but dinner was ready."

"Misunderstood, suicide, drugs, now Jesus freak."

"Facebook members knowingly commit privacy suicide."

"I'm the hero of my story."

So hopefully you've found a new word game here that will test your powers of condensation. I've learned many times as a writer that it's always harder to condense than it is to expand. For those who struggle with their journal writing and their aborted attempts at putting together a life story, this might be a useful exercise in overcoming the writer's block. Take a few periods of your life and write the headlines in six words.

Here are examples from my life (in six words):

"Life, more sweet than bitter mostly."

"Son first, then husband, father, grandfather."

"England to be missionary, got converted."

"Vietnam my generation's war, now al-Qaeda."

"Being Dad best gift from Patsy."

"New president needed in America. Who?"

"Snowy Pine Valley, Spring always follows."

"Staying here until Thanksgiving, then out."

"Missing Christmas, white and quiet here."

"No inversion up here, down there."

"Looking back occasionally, still pointed forward."

"If you're done changing, you're done."

"Repentance daily, good soul food forever."

"Holy scriptures, holy temple, holy people."

"Holey shoes, holey socks, holey economy."

"Jobs aplently, but you look harder."

"Fire's warm, snow's falling, beauty's everywhere."

"Herman Cain, unnamed women from NRA?"

"I remember when NRA meant guns."

"Mitt Romney, whooda thunk it? Us?"

"Newt Gingrich, next anti-Romney in Iowa."

"Jon Huntsman, China was more friendly."

"Rick Perry, Texas meteor flame out."

"Michele Bachmann, pint-sized in tall timber."

"Ron Paul, here's your sign: 'Fed-up!'"

"Rick Santorum, once a better Senator."

"Barack Obama, Marx and Keynes? Yup."

"Second Coming? More signs every day."

"Fig leaf watch includes Independence, Jerusalem."

"Don't hold your breath, hold fast."

"Be patient until I come. Someday."

"Follow Brethren, they know the way."

"Today's post, all about six words."

Try it, you'll like it. . . too.