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Aldo Leopold, who taught us to see the difference between a “wilderness” and a “waste”

In 1 Nephi chapter 8, Lehi has a vision that begins in “a dark and dreary wilderness.”  He describes the action that follows:

5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. 6 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. 7 And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.

8 And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. 9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. 10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

I have noticed that it is commonly assumed that the man who approaches Lehi is an angel (For example). Some people will notice the problems with that assumption: Read the rest of this entry »

Last week a podcaster and blogger named Bill Reel was tried by his Stake President for apostasy, and yesterday was given the sentence of excommunication.

The primary cause for the trial was a recent podcast in which Bill pointed out (emphasis on pointed) that Elder Holland had made a number of untrue statements in speeches and interviews. Bill included links and references to Elder Holland’s specific statements and to facts appearing to show that Elder Holland’s statements were false.

Bill’s trial was not about whether he was correct or incorrect about Elder Holland’s dishonesty, or about any of Bill’s other views about the Church. In fact, the question of Bill’s correctness or integrity was totally irrelevant. From the transcript of the Council (retrieved here on 12.03.18): Read the rest of this entry »

Sacrament Meeting talk delivered on 08.26.2018

Text in blue omitted for time when originally delivered

The great and last promise

In 1832, only 2 years after the Church was founded, God spoke to the saints and gave them a commandment, an explanation, and a promise, now found in D&C 88. First, the commandment:

D&C 88:62 …I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—

63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Then a word of explanation to help them understand

66 Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.

And, with that commandment and explanation in mind, they were prepared to understand what he called his “great and last promise”:

67 And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.

68 Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.

This “great and last promise” is an invitation for every saint to awake, arise from the dust, and know God; to become prophets and prophetesses; to bear witness of him; and to have eternal life. We need no further authorization to do so. What we need is an eye single to Christ’s glory. Read the rest of this entry »

We grow toward godliness and salvation by cultivating in ourselves the attributes of Christ (Lectures on Faith 7:9).

By receiving the spirit of Christ, we share his mind and grow to be like him (LoF 5).

The Lectures on Faith name the attributes of God which we must understand (and adopt as our own nature) to be saved. They include the following:  he is no respecter of persons (LoF 3:23).

Read the rest of this entry »

All Christians, Latter-day Saints especially, would be wise to re-read the story of the widow and her mite in context.

From KJV Luke 20-21, non-original chaptering removed:

¶ Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,

Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;

Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Read the rest of this entry »

It is curious how often people in the Book of Mormon swing between righteousness and apostasy in the space of a few short years. The authors of the Book must have had a different view of their societies than the average person, because it can be difficult to see societal shifts when you are embedded in them. Old ideas lose favor and are dropped without fanfare, and new ideas are presented as though they had always been true. If nobody points out the change in people’s thoughts, attitudes, and behavior, then it is easy to imagine that things have always been the way they are. Here is a recent example: Read the rest of this entry »


The night before he died, on June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith reported this dream, which was recorded with the other events of the day in the History of the Church:

I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather-boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm. Read the rest of this entry »

Lecture on Faith 1

“Lecture First”, 1835

This is intended for those who, whether they have read the Lectures on Faith or not, need an explanation of why the Lectures are worth studying.

I first opened them as a teenager, and found the language a little hard to grasp. They seemed to ramble on in spirals and circles, like a dumb person trying to sound smart. I had no way to contextualize them, and gained nothing from them.

I read them again on my mission, this time knowing  that they were the curriculum for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland in the early 1830s. I saw this time that there were nuggets (such as the oft-quoted statement from Lecture 6 about religions that do not require the sacrifice of all things), but if there was any unified argument made by the Lectures as a whole it escaped me.

Now, in my third decade of studying them, I can say that they make a very cohesive and powerful argument,  and that the various topics they address are all essential to that argument.  Read the rest of this entry »

Among those who are aware of their existence, the Lectures on Faith are a source of controversy. Their canonization and decanonization, force us to contemplate the fallibility of Church leaders, and to question whether we are collectively gaining or losing light.

Their decanonization is often defended by an appeal to the infallibility of Church authorities, such as “If the brethren removed them, then there was a reason,” and “their removal can’t have been in error, because we have modern prophets and apostles.” This, of course, requires overlooking the Lectures’ initial authorship and canonization, the work of leaders who were the wellspring of any authority held by those who championed decanonization. One could just as easily say “If the brethren canonized them, then there was a reason,” and “their canonization as scripture can’t have been in error, because we have modern prophets and apostles.”  So this isn’t to be settled by an appeal to authority.

Read the rest of this entry »

Part 1

New bottles for new wine – Christ and the Pharisees

Jesus was teaching during a meal, at which were present publicans, blatant sinners, Pharisees, and disciples of John.

Likely prompted by the presence of John’s disciples, whose baptism Jesus respected, the Pharisees present asked

“Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law?

But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law.

I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing, for when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away.

For no man putteth a piece of new cloth on an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish, but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” (Joseph Smith translation of KJV Matthew 9)

Read the rest of this entry »