Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The faithless, feminist book "Women at Church"

The book "Women at Church" which received rave reviews from: Richard and Linda Eyre, so-called authorities on marriage and the family, Camille Fronk Olson-BYU professor of religion, Terryl Givens's (renowned educator and Mormon apologist), Beverly Campbell, past Public Affairs Spokeswoman for Virginia/ Washington D.C. areas of the Church. Their high praise for Neylan's book is lumped right along with that of Maxine Hanks, one of the infamous September 6 who were excommunicated for apostacy.

The book is utter hogwash. It is nothing more than faithless, feminist propaganda.

Here are a couple of quotes from "Women at Church". The first quotation in "Women at Church" is where "Women at Church" is quoting other authors that are presented as authoritative.

"'Gender inequality,' Hudsen and Ballif-Spanvill say, 'in all of its many manifestations, is a form of violence - no matter how invisible or nomalized that violence may be'"

and in another place "Women at Church" reads

"In contrast to the understanding from her educational and cultural experience in the twenty-first century world, my daughter's experience at church is very different. At church, she never sees her Primary leaders or her mother's Relief Society leaders sit on the stand during the ward of stake conference. She has asked me in tears why only boys pass the sacrament and why the Church paintings and photographs in her Primary room are all of men. She wonders why the Cub Scout boys in Primary get a blue and gold banquet; what, she asks, do the Activity Day girls do to celebrate their accomplishments? My daughter and other young girls find themselves wondering, 'What is my role here? Why am I limited in my aspirations here when no such limitations are put on me anywhere else?'

When a woman asks these questions as an adult, the results can be devastating. The pain is real when a woman starts to wonder why the freedoms that benefit her life so greatly outside the Church are not present in the organization to which she has devoted her heart and soul. As women functioning in the Church's gendered organization where structural parity cannot be claimed to currently exist, we as members are asked to suspend our understanding of and trust in structures that our own people - as well as many other trusted scholars - say make communities more functional, prosperous, and happy. Each woman searches for peace in reconciling external world experiences with the structure of gospel administration. For some, this can be hard."

So we are to understand from the first quotation that the author believes that when Christ called twelve men to lead his church, but has never called any women, that was apparently "a form of violence" against women.

From the second quotation we learn that that such "violence" continues today. This is clearly not faith, it is the opposite of faith. The author is a social member, but fails to exercise real faith, and teaches others not to exercise faith as well.

The author makes quite clear her belief that where feminism and social science have spoken, prophets should remain silent, as they can have nothing to say. Faith is thrown out the window in preference to the ideas of the world.

Christ on truth and "official" church doctrine

One of the trends of modern day, which seems to be an after effect of living in a highly bureaucratic society, is the concept of "official" church doctrine.

There are many discussions in the scriptures about whether something is true, or false. The discussion of whether something is official or not official is different altogether.

My favorite illustration of the correct way to view "official" church doctrine involves the Savior.

Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

There we have the official position of the Church written by Moses, but it is still the truth that it was suffered to be that way "because of the hardness of their heart"

Then Christ teaches that despite the official church position, there are still spiritually destructive consequences.

Continuing Mark 10.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

The church can apparently have an official position that just represents the hardness of the hearts of the general membership, but the spiritually destructive consequences still remain. We always should stand for the truth, teaching it frankly as Christ did. He made no bones about what the actual case was.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The claims of inequality by women in the church

The women who are up in arms about inequality in the church only feel that because they have rejected the truth about the honors of motherhood. Heavenly Father places his children in their hands, giving those mothers dramatic power to shape the destinies of his own children as they enter mortality. He gives his own children to these mothers precisely when his children are at their most vulnerable. The influence of those mothers can shape their eternity. He asks that those mothers forgo worldly opportunities (which mean absolutely nothing) to pursue the gift he offers them because it is so crucial eternally. He asks that they have as many children as possible and makes it part of the sealing covenant, essentially saying that he will give them children eternally if they will not limit the number of them in mortality. Given the sacred nature of what is being offered, it cannot be turned down without giving offense.

When you reject that sort of gift as not "enough", then nothing else ever will be. It is such a tender, gentle, sacred role that Heavenly Father offers as a gift to women in mortality. One can't reject that sort of sacred honor and still have any sense of the nature and value of God's gifts to his sons and daughters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Christopher Columbus

A belated Columbus day post.

It is unlikely that any person who felt themselves inspired by God to take a step that was important for the restoration did not find themselves facing significant opposition and difficulties from wicked men inspired by the adversary. That opposition continues long after their deaths as the adversary inspires people to smear their names.

While critics like to claim how wrong Christopher Columbus was, I think many members have found themselves at one time or another strongly inspired to take a course of action they have a difficult time justifying to others. They may offer the best excuse for what they are doing that they can. That excuse may seem thin even to them. But they know they feel impressed to take that route, not knowing why. I expect Christopher Columbus's reasoning was secondary to the impressions he had that this just seemed like the right thing. The reasons he gave may have been wrong, but the impressions were right.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Joseph Fielding McConkie

Those who know me well know how I like Joseph Fielding McConkie. I want to explain why.

When I was a BYU student I took a religion class every semester. All told, that is a very large number of individual days spent learning about the gospel. Of course, the teacher had some insight to offer every day.

I only took a single Book of Mormon class from Joseph Fielding McConkie, who had returned from being a mission president in Scotland about the time I returned from my own mission in Virginia.

However, I noticed something. There were a very small handful of things I learned from other BYU religion classes which stayed with me for up to five or even ten years as interesting insights. But over time, I found that all of them were supplanted. Some that I had clung to for years were eventually rejected as downright wrong. To be completely fair to my other BYU instructors, there were some interesting historical facts that I still remember. Also I remember a class taught by one man for his marvelous example of personal effort on behalf of the poor.

However, while things learned in other classes never really went anywhere I found the opposite with Joseph Fielding McConkie's class. Almost everything in his class seemed to grow into something that was much greater than what I originally thought was being presented. In the years when I was forgetting and discarding insights learned from other teachers, I was finally beginning to understand what he had wanted to convey in some of the days of class 10, 15 or even 20 years later. Just recently I think I realized what he was trying to get at with a comment he made that I had wondered about for many years. His classes seemed to constitute well planted seeds that grew into major aspects of gospel understanding, whereas the other ones all really came to nothing but an "insight of the day" that were what I call postcard doctrine. They were a nice thought. Enough to teach a lesson with. But not something that endured and grew and developed into more. Sadly, too frequently they were not even correct.

Its not that the other teachers were teaching apostate doctrine. But they offered nothing more than a single days worth of spiritual sustenance either. Something to think about, but ultimately not something that will grow into anything more.

That one semester of Book of Mormon from Joseph Fielding McConkie has had an immense influence in my understanding of the gospel. It has so thoroughly grown into parts of it that I could not sort out where his influence begins and ends anymore.

If anything, I have severely understated the influence he has had.

Sadly, while his books are great, they seem to go into much less depth than he did in person. Given the criticism he got, I cannot say I am surprised.

He was criticized by colleagues for reading beyond the period that ends the sentence when teaching the scriptures. Put differently, he didn't worry about whether what he said was "official" church doctrine any more than his grandfather seemed to think in terms of giving only "official" answers when writing answers to gospel questions or doctrines of salvation, or his father thought in terms of "official" church doctrine when writing his books. (Christ didn't seem to think in those terms either as I have pointed out elsewhere). They just tried to teach the truth from the scriptures as clearly as they could see it. Teaching for him wasn't a matter of looking up an answer in a quotation, it was a matter of discerning truth through the Holy Ghost so that when he stated it, you would recognize and be able to taste that it was right. For that he got a lot of criticism. Joseph Fielding McConkie wrote:

I asked my father [Bruce R McConkie] once how he could be so confident in teaching a particular matter when others to whom we look for clear instruction were reluctant to say much. I noted that some with whom I taught would jump on me for saying the same thing, suggesting that I was going beyond the period that ended the sentence. His response was, “If you cannot go beyond the period that ends the sentence, you do not have the Spirit, and if you do not have the Spirit, you have no business teaching in the first place.”
Some are uneasy with such an expression, immediately fearing that if we actually give people the license to use the gift of the Holy Ghost, someone will abuse it or error in judgment. Occasionally they will. On the other hand, if we have taught people how to properly use that gift, those they are teaching will easily be able to discern the matter. Dad felt that the greater danger lies in the idea that unless we hold a particular office or position, we are without the ability to use the gifts that God has given us. Such a conclusion does not represent the gospel as Bruce McConkie understood and taught it.
Given my experience, with his class as opposed to others, I think he understood the matter rightly.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Poor of the Earth

Some notes typed while listening to Love Elder Holland (Gen Conf October 2014)

I loved his citing:

2 Nephi 13:13 The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
 14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the vineyard and the spoil of the poor in your houses.
 15 What mean ye? Ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

In this nation and time, I don't think we really understand what poverty really even means. I love fast offering specifically because it can help those outside of this nation if we can keep perspective on what poverty is and given with corresponding generosity. The rich must be brought down that the poor may be made rich, and we are so rich as a nation we hardly know what real poverty looks like.

I miss the missionary homecoming slideshows we used to have because of the constant reminders they gave of true poverty.

I remember a coworker who grew up in a part of Brazil where starvation was still a common form of death.

I remember the slides my stake president showed of his work in poor parts of south america. I recall the picture of a young girl who was blind from the stage of starvation she had reached when he took the picture and whom he was sure would be dead by the time he returned.

I love the story of the widow and her mites, precisely because she was what we would consider to be the destitute poor, but she gave all.

I love the parable in D&C 38 which I wish got a lot more attention in a world wide church. I am grateful to have seen enough of poverty as it has existed through almost all of the worlds history in almost all of the worlds locations and for the vast majority of mankind at all those times and places and know that I am not the poor of the earth.

D&C 38:26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
 27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The endowment is intended to be understood.

There verses are such a nice illustration of the fact that the temple is not supposed to be like the "sacred mysteries" of other churches. The endowment may have different levels of meaning, but that is very different than saying that the endowment either doesn't really have any specific intended meaning or saying that the endowment is simply not for regular church members to understand.

D&C 76:5 For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

 6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

 7 And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

 8 Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

 9 And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

 10 For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

I would not be surprised if some people I know even quite rightly believe that through the temple instruction the Lord can and will reveal to us the mysteries of His Kingdom.