Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Memo to Utah: We are NOT a "Swing State"

In this election cycle we've just about heard it all by now. The latest flavor of the month has been that Utah might figure prominently as a "swing state." Here are the reasons why Utah is NOT:

1. The predominance of the Republican party has not changed, and it won't for this election cycle.

2. Yes, people hate the thought of voting for Donald Trump, but enough Republicans will vote for him that he will win Utah without much effort. He's up comfortably in the polls today.

3. It's hard to imagine the hated Hillary Clinton winning enough cross-over votes to change that outcome.

4. Just because there are two minority parties who have chosen Utah as their headquarters does not signal a mass uprising among the citizenry.

5. Even if Evan McMullin or Gary Johnson were able to somehow win Utah's six electoral college votes, that won't be enough to throw the election into the House of Representatives to determine the election.

6. In the grand scheme of national politics Utah isn't even a drop in the ocean.

7. One person's vote in Utah is almost immaterial because the outcome is always so predictable.

8. Whenever a viable third-party candidate has emerged, I have always voted for that person, as I did twice for Ross Perot. Why? Because my vote really doesn't matter much and I have always known it.

9. "But the Supreme Court hangs in the balance," I hear routinely from others. See above.

10. This might be the most important election of our lifetimes. See above.

Image result for the lesser of two evils

I won't stay home and not vote for anyone. Instead, I will immediately fill in my mail-in ballot as soon as I receive it and be done with this election cycle.

I have unsubscribed from every single e-mail request from every single campaign that has solicited my donations.

I have rudely hung up on every pollster who has called my home.

I have turned off all the political coverage on the news channels.

I will tune out the debates whenever they pop up. Watching NFL football will be a welcomed relief by contrast. Shoot, watching ANYTHING else would be acceptable to me this year.

I have never seen a time in my life when the political process has produced such dismal choices. The two-party system has given us the worst outcomes I can imagine. I am boycotting and denouncing the two major candidates, and I will not vote for either one.

Others will tell me to adopt such a stance is un-American or irresponsible and my vote will not count or be meaningful. And they would all be right, because my vote in Utah is essentially meaningless. See above.

So who will I vote for? The one guy who's standing up for America. The most logical would be a vote for Evan McMullin. At least he most closely aligns with how I think and believe. I actually have several options. I could write in my wife's name, as Mitt Romney suggested he might do a few weeks back. Or I could vote for Thomas S. Monson or Joseph Smith or Mickey Mouse. I've even thought about writing in my home teacher. Any one of my sons and daughters would also be a good alternative.

Far from throwing away my vote in Utah, it will give me the satisfaction of taking a stand against the corrupt two-party system and the two corrupt candidates represented by the major parties. Both Trump and Clinton have headquarters here in Utah this year. It won't move the needle much either way, I predict.

I would love to hear anyone's comments about why I'm wrong. Go ahead, take a shot and convince me your one vote makes even a scintilla of difference in Utah.

I have often joked that this year I would write in the name of a righteous young man whom I love and trust as my number one choice, even though he isn't old enough to serve based upon the Constitutional requirements for office. In fact, I have several grandsons that fit that bill. And even more granddaughters!

If you live in Utah this year, you don't have to choose the lesser of two evils. Trust me, plenty of people in Utah will do just that and blindly drink the Trump Kool-Aid to prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from winning. And Trump will win Utah. And he will garner enough voters to do it.

I just won't be one of them.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Inspiration of the Moment

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after we are baptized we are invited to "receive the Holy Ghost." It is not a bestowal of a gift from a hand-to-head conveyance that is automatic. Rather, it comes in the form of an admonition to accept the proffered gift from a loving Heavenly Father. It requires aligning our thoughts with His.

Almost from the moment the gospel was restored to the earth through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith, many and varied have been the ideas associated with the Holy Ghost. Speculations about who, what, and how the Holy Ghost ministers to men and women continue into our day. I could make a very long post with a summary of all those opinions, but I will refrain.

Joseph Smith
When President Martin Van Buren asked Joseph Smith "wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day, Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost." (History of the Church, 4:42).

After his martyrdom, the Prophet Joseph appeared to President Brigham Young and said of the Spirit:

"Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world." (Watson, Manuscript History of Brigham Young).

I have always treasured these words that describe the workings of the Holy Spirit:

"I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy." (D&C 11:13).

President Boyd K. Packer has said:
President Boyd K. Packer

The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a "still small voice." (D&C 85:6). And while we speak of "listening" to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, "I had a feeling . . ." . . . Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear. Nephi told his wayward brothers, who were visited by an angel, "Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words." (1 Nephi 17:45).

The scriptures are full of such expressions as "The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened" (D&C 110:1) or "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart" (D&C 8:2) or "I did enlighten thy mind" (D&C 6:15) or "Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts." (D&C 100:5). There are hundreds of verses which teach of revelation. (BKP, Mine Errand From the Lord, 94–05, p. 60).

Revelation comes to us through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost, synonymous with the Holy Spirit. There are some wonderful members of the Church who, in pursuit of the "greater things," or the "mysteries of God," often go beyond the mark of the simple gospel truths. I caution those who are so disposed to stay within the mainstream of the Church. Danger lies on either side of the straight and narrow path - "more than" is just as dangerous as "less than."

What do I mean by "more than" the simple doctrines of salvation? It is specious, speculative and uninspired interpretation of scriptures and old sermons written or transcribed. Some who are not anchored in the Word we have received go beyond the mark. One example: The age of the earth, how it was created and the possibility of the existence of pre-Adamites. Another: The endless debates in high priest groups about trivial minutiae never founded upon scripture, going over the top in stretching for meanings never before revealed. Another: Some talks in the Church that should be prefaced with "I will now proceed to present a discourse upon a subject about which the Lord has revealed little or nothing, and His servants have never spoken about." These are examples of "more than" the plain and simple doctrines of salvation. There seems to be a presumption among us that we must go beyond what the Lord has revealed to display our gospel scholarship. Such ideas add to the "more than" doctrine category.

"They despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall." (Jacob 4:14).

Elder Dean L. Larsen
In his October 1987 general conference address, Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Presidency of the Seventy said: "I have wondered what was actually in Jacob's mind as he wrote of 'looking beyond the mark' in describing a failing that was common to ancient Israel. . . .

"Jacob speaks of people who placed themselves in serious jeopardy in spiritual things because they were unwilling to accept simple, basic principles of truth. They entertained and intrigued themselves with 'things that they could not understand.'

"They were apparently afflicted with a pseudosophistication and a snobbishness that gave them a false sense of superiority over those who came among them with the Lord's words of plainness. They went beyond the mark of wisdom and prudence and obviously failed to stay within the circle of fundamental gospel truths which provide a basis for faith. They must have reveled in speculative and theoretical matters that obscured for them the fundamental spiritual truths. As they became infatuated by these 'things that they could not understand,' their comprehension of and faith in the redeeming role of a true Messiah were lost, and the purpose of life became confused."

In pursuit of the "greater things" those who chase the shiny objects have often gone far afield from where they started and lost the very things that were most precious to them - their families. At one time in my life I was one of those who sought for things I could not always understand. I know whereof I speak. And now in my old age I am content with simplicity. All the ex-Mormons for Jesus and others I once read and chased are now silenced by the passage of time as the caravan moves on toward the city of Zion. Please, do not be deceived, especially if you are among the elect in these last days. (See D&C 45:56-59). Take the Holy Spirit for your guide, and no one else.

I am grateful for the small and simple things that happen every day in the ministrations of the Holy Ghost when I am seeking guidance in my daily walk. I am not perfect by any stretch. But I am grateful for the inspiration of the moment, and cannot imagine life without it.

The workings of the Spirit within us are so fragile, so transient, and so subtle we must never take them for granted nor discount them when they come to us. If we are attuned to the Infinite we may rely upon that inspiration and grow in light and truth day by day, year by year, seeking to stay in the straight and narrow path that leads toward eternal life.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie

"You don't have to do what Jacob said, 'Go beyond the mark.' You don't have to live a life that's truer than true. You don't have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church - keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you're on that path when death comes - because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate - you'll never fall from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. Now, that isn't the definition of that term, but the end result will be the same." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "The Probationary Test of Mortality," address delivered at U of U Institute of Religion, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 10, 1982).