Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category
I received my copies of Denver Snuffer’s Remembering the Covenant, Volumes 1, 4 and 5 the other day. Why would I invest $55 to purchase printed versions of something that is available for free online? I’ve already purchased and read Denver’s previously published eight volumes. And for the most part, I read the majority of what’s in the books on Denver’s blog over the past year.
Two reasons: I’m an old guy. I like physical books. I enjoy turning the pages, marking them up and seeing them stored in my library. Second, I found it interesting Denver hinted at something I have been thinking about for a long time. We take the availability of the Internet, Blogger and hey, even electricity for granted. The day may come when these things are no longer guaranteed.
I like the formatting of the books, the new chapter organizations and the footnotes. The blog comments are not included. That’s understandable. If you’re read some of them, they get way off the subject and frankly, there are some weird things in there that are distracting from the content. I’m not saying comments aren’t valuable, just that they can take things in unintended directions.
Commentary on The Second Comforter
I feel like a late-comer to the Denver party. Now, he wouldn’t like that characterization. He has always said the important thing is the message, not the messenger. And of course, Denver is not the only one focusing on the idea that we can and should receive the Savior in this mortal life. By that I mean a personal visit from the Lord in which he ministers to and teaches you sacred things.
As Denver noted on his blog, volumes two and three in the series were published previously as the single volume Removing the Condemnation. The advantage of purchasing them in this new format is that they are in a larger font and split into two volumes. I chose to save a few bucks by just getting the ones I didn’t already have. Amazon already has the three other volumes bundled.
So for me, having the luxury of the printed volumes allows me to study Denver’s commentary on his original book at my leisure, which is usually at night before retiring for the day. I learned recently that if I work on the computer right up until I retire, it makes it difficult to get to sleep. There’s something more relaxing about reading a book instead of reading on a computer screen.
Two Areas of Disagreement
In the year or so since I was introduced to Denver’s writings, I’ve made it a point to share with Carol some of the things I have been learning. She’s not all that interested, especially since the first book I
read from Denver was his last one, Passing the Heavenly Gift. We basically disagree on two points – the desirability of meeting Christ in this life and just what priesthood power is.
Carol was taught all her life and believes that there is no need to receive the Savior in this life in a literal way, meaning you don’t need a personal visit to be saved or exalted. She says that will come after this life. When I show her the scriptures and the teachings from Joseph she responds, “Well, the majority of the members of the church aren’t going to see Christ in this life, so there.”
We read chapter one of Passing the Heavenly Gift together. I wrote about her response in my first essay about Denver early in 2012. We’ve had an ongoing discussion about power in the priesthood ever since. Every time a baby is blessed, a baptism is performed or someone is confirmed or ordained, she leans over to me and whispers, “not valid – no power, right?”
Difficult Ideas to Accept
She’s trying to point out that, in her mind, Denver’s argument that power of some kind was lost, does not make sense to her because of the special feelings we each feel when we witness an ordinance of the priesthood, partake of the sacrament or attend the temple. While in the Celestial room, we’ve discussed what he has written. Gratefully, we’ve been able to keep it quiet and civil.
Carol’s viewpoint is that receiving a personal visit from Christ in this life is not necessary, at least according to all we’ve been taught growing up in this church. The focus has always been, receive the ordinances, including marriage in the temple, then endure faithfully to the end. That means as long as you attend church, accept callings, pay tithing and pray often, you’ll be exalted.
Thus, she says the focus of Denver’s first book is unnecessary, at least according to what we’ve been taught. What she got out of Denver’s last book is that he was very clearly saying that the church lost something with the death of Joseph, perhaps even sooner. She took great exception to this idea. What exactly was lost has been a matter of discussion between us over the past year.
Focus on the Book of Mormon
I’m glad I read his last book first. I had long been feeling that there was something missing in our modern church compared to the early church, meaning in the days of Joseph Smith. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is scripture and is intended to guide our lives.
I also believe that Joseph received the sealing power from God, just like Nephi did, but that there was so much more he wanted to share with us that he received from the Lord before his life was cut short. He did not live to see the completion of the Nauvoo temple. There were things he knew that he tried to teach in the last few months of his life, that we just didn’t quite understand.
I’m looking forward to reading and studying these three volumes, Remembering the Covenant. I note that he positions them as a commentary on the Book of Mormon. I like that. There is so much of this marvelous book that even after a lifetime of studying I still don’t understand. I know Denver taught much of this stuff in his Gospel Doctrine classes over some twenty years.
Remain True and Faithful
In case you were wondering, I see no incompatibility between studying the works of Denver Snuffer and remaining a faithful member of the church. In fact, as many others have stated, I don’t think I have ever studied the gospel more intently in the past year since I first encountered his works. Denver has repeatedly encouraged us to remain faithful and serve in the church.
Yes, his first book is somewhat unconventional in that the doctrine of seeking an audience with Christ in this life is no longer taught in our church. And yes, his last book is controversial in that he put in one place all the arguments we have been reading on the Internet for years that there is something amiss in the direction of the church compared to what Joseph restored so long ago.
Can one believe that something is missing or not quite right in the church today and still answer the temple interview questions honorably? Absolutely. I sustain the Brethren as authorized to lead this church. I see nothing in what Denver writes to be contrary to or opposing the teachings and practices of the Church. Denver has encouraged us to be faithful and serve in the church.
Future posts on Denver Snuffer
Although this blog is not devoted to discussing the writings of Denver Snuffer, I intend to bring up a number of things I have read in his books that I find interesting and worthy of discussion. I have had a paradigm shift in the way I view the priesthood that answers so many questions for me. I am also delighted to see the idea of meeting Christ in this life being taught and promoted.
Surely the Brethren cannot find fault with anyone who encourages us to seek an audience with Christ for the specific purpose of receiving instruction pertaining to our salvation. And surely they can’t fault him for informing us in one place, in a very favorable way I might add, about the things we have read in many places on the Internet regarding a different view of our history.
Don’t call me a Snufferite. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m just a regular member of this church. I merely want to know what I must do to have an audience with my Redeemer in this life. I can’t imagine anybody labeling this as an undesirable thing. I’m simply grateful that Denver says it can be done and that he has done so. Thank God for his testimony and witness.
For More Information
In case you are interested, I’ve written several previous entries about Denver Snuffer:
01. March 24, 2013 – Overview of The Second Comforter
02. March 9, 2013 – A New Star Will Shine Forth
03. March 3, 2013 – All Are Invited to the Feast
04. December 25, 2012 – The Four Phases of Mormonism
05. December 11, 2012 – What Denver Snuffer Teaches
06. July 7, 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
07. May 12, 2012 – Orthodox Mormonism
08. May 5, 2012 – Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer
09. April 8, 2012 – Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil
10. February 26, 2012 – Loss of the Sealing Power
From a reader: I have a question; I was curious what you meant by “those still in the uncorrelated church.” Are there LDS churches not correlated? Thanks! My response: Ah yes, was wondering if someone would ask about that. Glad to know someone’s reading and thinking about my stuff.
Tightly Structured Teaching
The uncorrelated church (Google it) is a phrase made popular by John Dehlin a few years ago. It refers to the idea of a church being a body of believers, not necessarily a specific congregation, who are not too fond of the direction from Salt Lake that “you shall” present, study and discuss specific topics within tight constraints each Sunday in the block of meetings. They object to the idea of correlation as being a tactic or practice that kills the spirit because, the impression is, you are only allowed to bring up specific “approved” quotes and specific scriptures when discussing the assigned topic. The people who see the church as being too tightly correlated do not seem to enjoy teaching methods where one individual stands at the front of the class and spews forth everything they have studied during the past week.
New Youth Curriculum
The church recognizes this and is doing something about it. Beginning with the youth this year, the classes are designed to be less formal and structured, encouraging more involvement and discussion by the participants and less rigid in what can be shared or discussed in that specific class. The problem is that we are a church of lay teachers, so many of whom struggle with the confidence needed to effectively lead a class or to even present a decent sacrament talk without strong and tight direction from the priesthood leaders. It has even come to the point where ward and stake leaders hand out, in writing, specific rules of what you shall and shall not say when standing in front of the congregation. As President Lee opined when correlation was just beginning, he was afraid it would kill the spirit of revelation. I believe it has.
Sharing Sacred Experiences
Everybody is afraid to share any kind of personal or sacred spiritual experience that may be misunderstood because it hasn’t been run through correlation, the committee that approves everything that goes into our manuals. We are repeatedly warned in priesthood bulletins and directives to prevent or not allow individuals to teach unauthorized and unapproved doctrine from the pulpit and in the classrooms. I get that. I have seen the result of false doctrine being taught. A well-meaning brother or sister may share a beautiful, uplifting story that touches the heart and stirs the emotions but unfortunately, is based on a false premise or belief. It does more harm than good. So the church has cracked down over the years, beginning back in the 1950’s and reaching the zenith in the last decade. I have watched this happen firsthand.
Approved Stories Only
But again, the problem is that correlation has created an environment of fear in our church. Members are so afraid to say or share anything that is not in the official approved curriculum that they just keep their mouths shut. Very few people know what’s approved and what’s not so they don’t say what the spirit puts into their heart to say for fear of incurring the wrath of someone who says, “Where did you read that? Are you sure that’s approved by the Brethren?” Then they turn to whatever priesthood leader is sitting in the class and wait for him to respond. It puts the poor priesthood leader on the spot. I have seen this over and over in Gospel Doctrine classes. The pendulum has swung too far. I remember hearing all kinds of wild things when I was growing up but at least people felt they could share among their fellow saints.
Unique Spiritual Feelings
One specific example that really rankles me is the idea of discussing what happens during prayer. You and I have dialoged about this in our recent emails. Can you imagine bringing up your question when the subject is being taught in a priesthood quorum about the vibrational feelings you and I have both experienced in prayer? We would get blank stares or worse. Unless you can put what you have experienced into the proper words that one of our apostles has recently used (can’t use words of old apostles) then your brethren in the quorum will feel uncomfortable with what you have shared. Perhaps if you use the phrase “feeling in tune” or “in harmony with the spirit” you might get some heads nodding. But what if what happened to you in prayer went beyond the vibrational phase or being in tune with God?
Visited by an Angel
What if, to use your example, while deep in prayer one night, feeling happy and loved, at peace with the universe, you poured out your heart in devotion and felt the love of God descend upon you in great power and abundance? You were so happy and filled with joy that you felt your heart might burst. Just at that moment your spirit leaves your body and you find yourself in the spirit world with a guide there to meet you and show you a few things that the Lord wanted you to know. You are wrapped in the spirit. You see and hear things that are unimaginable to anyone in this world who has never experienced such things for themselves. When you return, and are still filled with the spirit, you write these things in your journal as a great treasure. You taste the joy of the Lord with you for days, weeks and months to come.
Sharing Your Testimony
Now, what if, during a lesson on prayer and revelation, such as the one we’re going to receive in Gospel Doctrine class tomorrow, the teacher has you read D&C 42:61, which reads, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal,” and then asks, Brother Jones, (this is right out of the manual), “How have these promises been fulfilled in your life?” How would you respond? Remember, you have just received a marvelous manifestation from the Lord a few nights ago in which he showed you joyous things about the world to come. You have received revelation. You have received knowledge. You have beheld the mysteries of God which bring joy.
I Have Seen a Vision
Do you share that? What if you feel impressed to stand and say to the class (and not just to the teacher), slowly and distinctly, “I have asked for and have received revelation from God. I have been shown things in vision that have given me knowledge of the spirit world. I have been visited by angels. I have been taught the mysteries and peaceable things of God. I have felt his joy and understand better what eternal life is going to be like.” You then sit down. What do you think would happen? How would the teacher respond? How would the members in the class around you respond? Would they whisper to their neighbor, “Did he say he had seen an angel?” Would someone in next week’s Ward Council meeting say, “Did you hear what Brother Jones said in Gospel Doctrine class last week?” Could this happen?
Ward Council Meetings
You bet it could and it has. I have sat in those ward council meetings over the years. There is great concern expressed about what some members say in class. Because of this they are not asked to teach or to speak in church. In essence, they are ostracized for sharing their spiritual experience, when they felt prompted by the spirit to do so. They are shunned and looked upon as being weird or different. “Why, he said he’s seen an angel. He said he had a vision,” implying that such things are only for the prophet or the apostles. “I’ve never seen an angel or had a vision. What makes him special? I know Brother Jones. He’s a sinner. There’s no way the Lord would send him an angel. He must have been deceived.” Yes, I know this last part is fictional but it is based on real leadership meeting conversations.
All this is the result of correlation, where the members feel that unless something has been approved of the correlation committee in advance, you had better not share it in church. Correlation causes us to feel we must keep our spiritual experiences to ourselves and only share approved or authorized stuff from church history. Go take a look at lds.org under Resources, Manuals, Melchizedek Priesthood and note the wording, “will study,” and “are to be taught,” from “church-approved resources.” Do you get it? Isn’t that pretty tightly controlled and correlated, even to the point of what you will study or read? And that’s why I say I am still in the uncorrelated church. I am old school, an old man who grew up studying whatever I felt the Lord wanted me to study, not necessarily what Salt Lake told me to read and study.
I Sustain the Brethren
I’ll bet that was a lot more than you asked for wasn’t it? Thanks for asking. Hope you don’t mind if I post my response on my blog. I won’t reference you other than in passing as a reader. It might get me into trouble. I love this church and I love the people in it but we have a problem in that people who don’t know, understand, teach and answer with the “official church-approved answers” are made to feel that they don’t quite fit in. I’m one of those and always have been. Because I have made it a matter of great effort in personal study over the years I can teach and speak at the pulpit in the way the church wants. I am OK with that. I sustain the Brethren in the direction they have taken the Church through correlation. That doesn’t mean I agree with the results of correlation that I have seen firsthand in our church today.
I had not intended to write this review, but could not resist because the impression to share was so strong. I had intended to review chapter three of Passing the Heavenly Gift, but that can wait. I finished Proof of Heaven a week ago and did not feel the desire to review it as I do with this book. Proof of Heaven can stand on its own, already reviewed by many people. Visions of Glory has also been reviewed in several places, but the negative reviews are too dismissive for me.
I’m not going to say my review is negative, and I am going to recommend you read it, but I’m going to offer a few words of warning. There’s just something strange about this book that I can’t put my finger on at the moment. Maybe by the time I finish the review it will be clearer. The negative reviews on Amazon and elsewhere declare that Spencer was deceived. I’m not going to go that far. I believe Spencer was sincere when he described what he said he saw.
Visions of Glory combines two of my favorite topics – Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and the Last Days. Like several of the reviewers, I was fascinated with the first third of the book as he describes what he learned in his first two NDEs. I had little problem with what he offered and found myself nodding my head in agreement with some of his descriptions. The spirit burned in my heart as I recognized and understood that Spencer had shared some wonderful truths with us.
LDS Blogging on Last Days
I don’t doubt that Spencer did indeed experience the NDE’s as he described them. But I am just blown away by the detail in the last two thirds of the book in his third NDE. Cedar Fort’s wording on the cover that this is “one man’s astonishing account of the last days” causes me to immediately think, “Well, that’s just his interpretation.” And indeed, that’s the first warning I’m going to offer. These are just one man’s views of the Last Days. Mine are certainly different.
With John’s recent passing, Spencer, not his real name, has contributed more to John’s blog, now maintained by others. You can get a better feel for Spencer there by reading his contributions as he answers questions put to him by readers. It kind of reminds me of the early days of Denver’s blog in which he was much more interactive with his readers. Having a popular blog in the LDS community can be burdensome because so many readers are at different levels of understanding.
In any event, after reading Spencer’s book (it really is his even though John wrote it), you can interact directly with him on the Unblog. Although I found Spencer’s description of some of the events of the last days to be fascinating, my focus has been different. What I would like to ask about, he would not be able to answer. I am more interested in how the widespread destruction is caused and how to interpret the events from the Books of Revelation, Daniel, Joel and others.
Invasion of America
Those who have read essays from my early years of blogging know my interest in the books of Anthony Larson, known as the Prophecy Trilogy. In there, you’ll find a description of the pillar of fire, for example, that is radically different from what Spencer describes in his book. You’ll also find much more reference to the cosmological causes of the great destruction that is to take place before the coming of the Lord, which are barely mentioned in passing by Spencer.
Now, I hate to go “out there” but I want to make a point that there are multiple claims of how the great destruction is going to come about. Spencer notes that there are many nuclear explosions, most caused by internal radicals, not by the foreign invaders. I read that part to my wife. She said it sounds like someone watched “Jericho” or “Revolution” and had a bad dream. I must admit I have never read anyone else talking about floods in Salt Lake as one of the signs of the last days.
Are you familiar with Denise Mendenhall, daughter of LDS author Doug Mendenhall? She lives without a veil. She gave a talk at Confetti Books in Feb of 2012. I have a recording of the event. In it she relates how the Lord told her to share that he is going to cause a huge EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) to hit the earth which will wipe out all technology based on the use of electricity and electronics, which is just about every means of modern communication and transportation.
Civilization will be Destroyed
Here’s my point. We’ve got Spencer claiming there will be a huge earthquake that will destroy most of the West Coast, cause massive flooding in Utah and precede an invasion by a large body of foreigners who take over the country. I’m not sure I understood the explanation for the flooding but I thought Spencer was describing the return of Lake Bonneville. He related that everything south of Point of the Mountain was under water as far as the eye could see. Strange.
So in addition to the huge earthquake, which is prophesied in the scriptures, without the floods, we’ve got Denise sharing that there will be a huge EMP and Anthony Larson pointing out that the great destruction of the last days will be caused by Earth’s close encounter with another celestial body. Spencer writes in his book that the earth passes by a huge planet on the journey back to God’s presence but that it has absolutely no effect on the earth or the inhabitants.
Although Spencer and Denise both claim that their visions of the end times are from the Lord, I’m going to go with what I have long held that the destruction of the last days, including the massive earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic activity, are caused by the return of the Ten Tribes, who Joseph said were taken from the earth. This is in direct contradiction with what Spencer claims in his book – that they are living in deep caverns long hidden under the ice.
Celestial Mechanics and Time Travel
This is all conjecture and fun to think about but back to the point of this review. I offered one warning about Spencer’s book at the beginning. Here’s another: How is it possible that God could tell three different people, one of them a prophet, that the destruction of the last days will be caused by three different things: a massive earthquake, an EMP and a planet coming up alongside the earth? Could they all be correct? Well, actually I suppose they could be.
Imagine for a minute that you put aside what science teaches about celestial mechanics. Let’s assume that somehow a large planetary body could come close to the earth. Let’s further assume you accept the alternative theories of cosmology known as the Electric Universe in which plasma and electricity have greater influence than gravity, then yes, I suppose an EMP could accompany the earthquakes and other prophesied destructions found in the scriptures in rich abundance.
My apologies if my ramblings don’t make sense. I have tried to provide links to previous essays that might help if you haven’t been a regular reader of my blog. In Visions of Glory Spencer is clear that he has little to no background in technology. He marvels at the things he encounters as he becomes a translated being. I suppose his description of the portals will be the most difficult for scientifically minded people to accept. After all, he’s talking about time travel at that point.
All the Hot Mormon Topics
A few questions I am still pondering: Why such detail about the destruction in and around Salt Lake and little to none of the rest of the world? Why did they have to go to Cardston first before they went to Missouri? Why is the appearance of the Lord in the Conference Center to a select few not mentioned anywhere in prophesied events of the last days? Is the invasion of America by a foreign military a part of the events foretold in the scriptures? Why didn’t the plague kill more?
Is the book an exciting read? Yes, I couldn’t put it down. You’ll encounter plagues, earthquakes, floods, foreign invasion, changes in weather (kind of like Global Warming without the politics), changes in constellations as the earth travels through space, the return of the Ten Tribes, the long walk to Missouri, the building of the New Jerusalem, the gathering of the elect by the 144,000 and much more. But as some reviewers have written, it reads like a piece of good LDS fiction.
That is probably unkind. I don’t know Spencer. From everything I’ve read he is a kind soul. I would not have the courage to share what he has shared specifically because I know so many people would be inclined to mock. I have read the glowing reviews of others who said this is the most life-changing book they have ever read. Others have written that the Holy Ghost testified to them it is true. I’m not going to go that far. Perhaps I simply was not ready to receive it as such.
Inspiration for LDS Fiction
Some of my readers may know I am writing a trilogy of fiction based on the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and the Electric Universe cosmological views of Wal Thornhill and David Talbott. I have taken the opening chapter of Anthony Larson’s book, And the Moon Shall be Turned to Blood and have expanded it into what I hope will be an interesting and exciting story about how events could possibly happen in the very last days just prior to the return of the Lord.
My first book ends with the return of the broken off piece of earth containing the Ten Tribes. In fact, that’s the whole premise of the first book – that a planet will come close to the earth, cause huge widespread destruction and eventually position itself just above the magnetic North pole. In my second book I plan to write about life on Earth after the destruction of civilization and how we pick up the pieces. I confess I planned to write about the walk to Missouri to build up Zion.
As I read through the last two thirds of Spencer’s book I made mental notes about how I could expand this scene or that scene and incorporate it into my book. If I ever publish the first and find the anticipated satisfaction in its reception for which I hope, I’ll write about the return of the City of Enoch and again, the destructions that accompany yet another piece of Earth coming home. In my third book, I will write about what happens when the Lord does finally return.
One Man’s View
Most people don’t think about this stuff. None of us really has any material clue about how this is all going to come down, especially the timing and sequence of events. I like reading books like Visions of Glory because it gives me food for thought about how future events could possibly happen. Do I consider it a work of fiction? I’m not sure. Did the Holy Ghost reveal to me that what Spencer claimed he saw really will happen that way? I confess, no, I can’t say that.
I reiterate the point that Cedar Fort makes on the cover – this is one man’s view of things. He claims he was shown this in vision. At one point he made some reference that this may all be symbolic. At other times he was emphatic that he knew he was going to participate in these events at some future point in his life. I don’t know any translated beings but if you know Spencer in real life, maybe you should stick close to him to see if he is changed someday.
Please don’t be upset with my review if you feel I am mocking sacred things. I’m not. I have been a long-time reader of John’s blog. I have deep reverence and respect for those who have spiritual gifts that I don’t have. I suppose I am too caught up in making a living and relying on technology to do it. I spend every day working with routers, switches and wireless access points, servers, fiber-optic Internet connections and all kinds of things to keep the electrons flowing.
Technology for a Zion People
That’s why when I read in Spencer’s book how communications were cut off and yet there were some pockets of cities with electricity, I had to wonder why he claimed there would be no Internet. Wouldn’t that be one of the first things society would want restored once they had electricity? Even if it were just a small network in the local city not connected to the outside world, I am positive any civil authority would want that re-established as soon as possible.
He also mentions that the church had communications systems intact. OK, how did they do that? He never describes the fate of satellites, yet I believe in one case he noted the foreign invaders had some sort of GPS. The church relies heavily on the Internet and satellites to communicate with stakes all over the world. I realize that later on Spencer implies that they could keep in touch via their white seer stones but this is in the beginning, right after the big earthquake.
Spencer’s book is not about technology. It’s about becoming a Zion people. That’s why it fits in so well with John’s focus on the Unblog. It takes so many of the beliefs unique to Mormonism to levels that I confess I had never dreamed. Why would the Lord reveal such detail to Spencer that he hasn’t revealed to the prophets? Or if he has, why have they chosen not to discuss it, share it and teach us about it? Spencer doesn’t claim to be a prophet, but he sure shares amazing detail.
Fiction based on Dreams?
Final warning: John relates that as Spencer shared his visions he was impressed to tell Spencer about similar visions from other members of the church in our early history. Spencer claims he had never heard of them. Yet as I read Spencer’s visions I immediately called them to mind. Am I unique in that I knew of these things when a man with three advanced degrees had never heard of them? One could make an argument that the book was written from these previous visions.
The other visions and dreams are included in the appendix. The whole idea of going to Cardston first is based on a letter from Sols Caurdisto who toured the temple before it opened in 1921. The destruction of the cities of the East Coast that Spencer related the Angel showed him could have come directly from John Taylor’s 1877 dream, also included in the appendix. The 1884 dream of the plagues and Charles Evans dream of schools in New Jerusalem appear in Spencer’s narrative.
My conclusion: This is a fantastic book, a very enjoyable read. I recommend you read it. Don’t let my worldly skepticism deter you from gleaning wonderful truths shared about how the spirit world around us operates. But when it comes to how the events of the last days are going to go down, make sure you compare what you discover with what you already know from scripture. Then ask yourself as I did, “Has the Lord ever revealed such specific detail to anyone else?”
Note: Since I mentioned my book, you may be interested in reading a few chapters. It is tentatively entitled “Red Sky.”
When you get old like me, you begin to think about your legacy. A good legacy is a life well remembered by loved ones and friends. In the old days, you wrote a book containing lots of good things that helped you, printed copies and handed them out to people you wanted to remember you. In today’s world, books are on their way out. Everything is in digital electronic format.
I’ve written a lot of good essays and placed them online for public viewing. I’d like to make sure they are still available long after I’m gone. That’s a difficult proposition unless you hire someone to make sure payments are made to all the right people involved in your digital identity. It’s not that I am vain; I just hope that someday I might have descendants that will treasure my words.
I wondered if it’s possible to set things up so that they will always be available without making payments. So I got to thinking about it and did a little research. Depending on how complex your online identity has become, you may not have as many concerns as I do. My blog is a bit more involved. Here are the components of what I have created and would like to keep going:
I have original copies on my local hard drive, backed up onto a second hard drive, with copies occasionally burned onto CDs or DVDs and even copies on a couple of flash drives. Of course, I also have printed copies over the years but have neglected to put them all in a single notebook. That might be a good project for a rainy weekend when I have lots of time and ink.
I started posting my essays on Blogger in 2007, then switched to WordPress hosted on Dotster in 2009 and have just recently switched to WordPress.com after Dotster suffered an extended server failure. I also decided to go back and import all my WordPress essays back into Blogger. So now I have 290 essays in two online repositories, some with synced comments and many that are not.
The comments are an important part of my essays. I wrote many of my posts in a controversial way on purpose because I wanted the comments. Reading other’s viewpoints helps me to learn and grow. I am a very orthodox conservative Mormon and greatly appreciate those who do not see things the same way. I learn so much from those who share my religion but not my views.
I own 3tcm.net and latterdaycommentary.com, both registered and hosted with Dotster. I can’t think of any way to keep a domain name going without payments after you’re dead and gone. The longest you can register a domain name right now is for ten years. So while it’s nice to have my own domain name today, a private domain name is not the best choice in the long run.
That’s why I decided to keep my essays in two major public blogging sites. In theory, as long as there is electricity, Google and the Internet, my blog will always be there on blogspot. I’m not so sure about WordPress.com but much prefer it as a blogging platform. Of course it’s a bit more complex with the MySQL and PHP admin requirements but offers so much more than Blogger.
Besides my work email, I have my two private email accounts, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. I like the private domain address which I have had for over ten years. I thought I would use the Gmail account in signing up for stuff on the Internet so I didn’t have to wade through so much spam on my 3tcm account, but ended up forwarding most of it anyway.
Of course I won’t need email when I’m gone, but for now it’s a concern because so much of what we do these days is via email. I have enjoyed hundreds of extended dialogs from readers of my essays who wanted to know more but didn’t want to share that in the public comments. I was shocked when Dotster killed my email recently. I asked them to only cancel my website hosting.
For most people, this is more complicated than they want to know. Up until last week I used Dotster DNS, but when they proved to be unreliable with the loss of my websites and blog, I went with FreeDNS. That way I can control my MX record, which still points to Dotster where I host my email, while I forward my domains to wherever I decide to host them.
I will keep Doster as a registrar for now. In my opinion one is as good as any other. They all have their horror stories. When I first started ten years ago, Dotster was the best. It has declined over the years in both the number of domains registered and the number of sites hosted. But I will no longer use their hosting services – DNS or website. Their tech support was atrocious.
And that brings me to the last piece of my puzzle. I can host my website on my home network and have done so in the past but decided I didn’t want to have to deal with the extra traffic and security concerns. When Dotster failed me I started looking for alternatives. I am impressed with Bluehost, HostGator and DreamHost, but am also looking at free sites.
I chose a free site called host-ed.net but so far am not impressed. They apparently require that you use their DNS servers to make your domain name resolve properly. I don’t want that. I want to use my own DNS server – FreeDNS. Host-ed is located in Germany. I think I would prefer a site that is in the United States. I also don’t want a site that forces me to run their advertising.
I miss having the control of WordPress plugins and third-party themes that WordPress.com doesn’t offer. I had my blog finely tuned with comment filters that kept me from having to wade through all the crap. I also had XML SEO plugins that brought my essays to the front page of Google searches. I can see the difference already. My traffic has decreased considerably lately.
Free Website Hosting
I’m an IT professional so I think I understand how to do a Google search, but I have yet to find a good objective review of free hosting websites. I have a friend who writes reviews of hosting services but he gets paid $50 every time someone signs up with a service he recommends. He has multiple domains, hosted with different hosts and gets paid for recommending them both.
I think I’m going to give Google Sites a go. It’s free and obviously with a well-known company. Some of the free sites I researched look like they may not be in business tomorrow. Besides, it looks like you can redirect your domain name to the site you create. If any of my readers are using Google Sites, I would be interested in knowing about your experience with the service.
I’m already on Google Plus so it seems like an easy integration with new essay announcements. I rely on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and a few specialized blog aggregators to get the word out when I post something new. I am especially pleased with the results I have received over the years with ldsblogs.org, mormonblogs.org and nothingwavering.org. Thanks for the traffic.
Future of Latter-day Commentary
Sure hope I got my Feedburner feed changed or nobody is going to see this. I’m working on another essay about what various online LDS personalities have to say about how the modern LDS church members feel about evil and unclean spirits. I’ve got a lot of ideas for future posts that I think will be exciting, perhaps even “edgy,” but very interesting. Stayed tuned as I get the bugs worked out.
If you are a new visitor to my blog, you may want to take a few minutes to browse through some of my top essays. These are ranked by page views over the past two years. I have a different list of some of my favorites but these are the most viewed. I hope this gives you a flavor for the kind of material I like to cover in my essays - current LDS topics.
1. General Authority Training – Advanced Subjects
2. How Americans View Mormonism
3. About Tim
4. There is no middle ground
5. It Came From Behind the Sun
6. Elder Packer Was Right about Bearing Testimony
7. My Interview with Mormon.org
8. What they don’t tell you about Bishopric Meetings
9. The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
10. The Mormon Corporate Empire
11. Getting past prejudices with Rent – the Musical
12. An Evening with Richard Bushman
13. The Endowment is more than the ordinances
14. When Prophets need to know
15. Divine Manifestations must have a purpose
16. Come Unto Christ – my Christmas talk
17. A different kind of knowledge
18. Rachel Esplin video continues to be a hit
19. Shades of grey and relative truth
20. Walt Whitman – the great American poet
21. Mormon visitors from outer space
22. A website for the average Mormon
23. Thoughtful discussion of controversial topics
24. 2012 the movie
25. Revelation and emotional response
26. Add your profile to Mormon.org
27. The attitude of mocking
28. Objections to the Book of Abraham
29. A letter to a reader – burning of the bosom
30. The ambush – a fictional background story
31. Spiritual experiences as a foundation for faith
32. Seer stone in a hat – book of Mormon translation
33. When a prophet gets Alzheimer’s disease
34. The personal power of Hester Prynne
35. Red Sky – an early version of my novel
36. Unique Religion of Benjamin Franklin
37. God even loves computer geeks like me
38. Moving toward gospel promises
39. Sandinistas - missionaries in Nicaragua
40. Mormon mommy blogs are the traffic queens
41. Multiple versions of the first vision
42. And the stars shall fall from heaven
43. Miracles and angels – a car wreck in Oklahoma
44. The government of the United States will collapse
45. Just where exactly are the lost ten tribes?
46. Mormon Church is not the fastest growing
47. Just what was Portnoy’s Complaint?
48. Changes to the Book of Mormon
49. Changing requirements of perfection
50. Public rebuke from an apostle
I’ve been reading the arguments on MormonThink.com off and on for several years now. I have a lot of respect for the individuals behind the site, even though most of them choose to be anonymous. I am confident that I have been visited by several of the contributors there or at least by those who read their site and others like it such as Ex Mormon and Post Mormon.
I am by no means a scholar or intellectual. I think I’m pretty smart and that I’m pretty good with logic. After all, I have made a living for thirty years demystifying computers for others. But I know there are a lot of people out there who are smarter than I am and who have the academic credentials to prove it. I like to think that I’m just a regular, average, typical Latter-day Saint.
I like smart, thinking people and especially people who present logical conclusions well, either in writing or verbally. Critical thinking is a skill that I am constantly striving to improve. I confess that I am impressed when someone can speak or write with confidence, especially when it comes to doctrines and practices of the church. That’s why I continue to take college classes each year.
Choosing to believe
But I’d like to take exception with one of the common threads I find in the essays on sites like MormonThink.com. It has to do with choosing to believe. The concept of voluntary or involuntary belief has been discussed by philosophers for millennia. But it’s such a basic part of how I deal with the sort of intellectual issues on Mormon Think that I want to share it with you.
I disagree with those who contend that beliefs are not voluntary acts of will. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a voluntarist when it comes to my beliefs about the church and our history. This is especially true in light of, or in spite of all the fascinating historical facts that I have read over the years that are just not taught to or even known by the majority of the Latter-day Saints.
Invariably I have found that those who label themselves atheists also claim to be involuntarists. I am coming to the conclusion that those who embrace the title of Ex Mormon, Post Mormon or Former Mormon also see their position as involuntary. “It was inevitable,” they say, “based on what I have learned, I had no other choice but to now disbelieve what I had formally believed.”
Well, that’s where we differ. I have spent many years studying the same material that has been so troubling and bothersome to so many of my fellow seekers of knowledge. I can honestly say that my faith has been strengthened and my belief deepened that Joseph was who he claimed to be – a prophet of God – and that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be – Holy Scripture.
I have no doubt that there are many in the church, who, if they studied the same material we have written about on our blogs and websites, would be absolutely freaked out and would soon leave the church. They are either social Mormons only or are not strong in their desire to know more about the history of our church. I don’t think these kinds of people are your typical Mormons.
What’s missing from sites like MormonThink.com, and what you’ll find in abundance on the official church web sites, is the role of faith, and especially encouraging faith. There is way too much emphasis on the intellect and not enough focus on feelings. The section on Testimony and Spiritual Witness relegates the role of feelings of faith as something to be dissected and derided.
Announcing new website
That’s reason why I decided to start my own website, LatterdayCommentary.com. This blog is hosted on that domain, which I registered years ago. It’s not much to look at today. In fact, I almost consider it a prototype. I’ve put together some commentary and links to my essays on some of the same subjects that you will find on MormonThink.com. It will grow with time.
I know that I’m just one of thousands of LDS members who have a website where they share their beliefs and testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I like to think that I’m not much different from your average Mormon. I grew up as a member of the church but I come from a convert family. And my viewpoint is definitely that of a laid-back California boy.
I’ve been happy as a member of the LDS Church all my life. I loved my mission and I love going to the temple. I love General Conference and I love serving in a local Bishopric. I hope you’ll take a look at my website and then come back here and make some suggestions as to how I can make it better and more useful in promoting the doctrines of our LDS faith to the world.
A long time ago, I compiled a list of the LDS blog aggregators and made sure that I got listed on as many of them as I possibly could. The effort paid off. Although Google searches are still my number one source for bringing in new readers, being listed with the LDS blog aggregators has brought in a respectable number. In fact, I get roughly eighteen percent of my traffic in this way.
Meta-list for Mormon Mommy blogs
My fellow blogger Megan from Hall Pass announced on Facebook a couple of days ago that she was a guest poster on Mormon Mommy blogs. It got me to thinking about all the MM blogs I’ve seen spring up over the past few years. I wondered just how much traffic they were bringing in. I also wondered if there was a blog aggregator especially for Mormon Mommy bloggers. Yep!
So I ran some Alexa comparison numbers and was shocked to discover just where all the LDS blogging traffic was really going. The aggregator site called Mormon Mommy blogs was ranked higher in Alexa than any of the other LDS blog aggregators out there. Now you may argue with me that it is not a real aggregator, but you might want to take a second look. They are indeed!
LDS blog aggregators
Take a look at the chart I compiled of LDS blog aggregators sorted by Alexa rankings. There are two MM blog aggregators on the list, one right at the top of the list. You are probably familiar with all the others. If not, you ought to be and you should make every effort to get your blog listed in them. They can do wonders for driving traffic to your blog and getting you new readers.
Except for the two MM link-lists, I get referrals from almost all of them except the two from the More Good Foundation. My blog is fed to Mormon Bloggers while LDS Blogs is really more of a hosting site. I suppose they probably don’t really qualify as an aggregator but I do get some traffic from blogs found there. I am pleased to see that Nothing Wavering ranks high on the list.
An amazing contribution
So congratulations to Mormon Mommy blogs, both the aggregator site and to all the MM blogs that are listed in there. You are the queens of LDS blog traffic, at least according to Alexa. If you have never visited their site, go take a look at all the blogs in the different categories. You will be amazed at the diversity and thoughtfulness there as well as many that are just plain fun.
You’ll find book blogs, hair blogs, beauty and fashion blogs, adoption blogs and even some blogs about crunchy moms! There are blogs about homeschooling, infertility, blended families, military life, singles, parenting, spirituality, photography, music, art, self-help, special needs and just about every other helpful topic. What an amazing contribution these women have made!
I’ve been writing on Blogger for quite some time and have long wished for greater control of the blog. I like the ease of use of Blogger but it does not offer customization features that I have read are available with WordPress. All the old Blogger essays transferred to WordPress without any problems. The links still point back to Blogger but that’s OK.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get all the same widgets in WordPress that I had in Blogger but I probably needed to get rid of some of them as it was beginning to look cluttered. I wish there was a way to transfer my blogroll but it looks like that may be a manual process. I also changed the theme to one that promotes the writing and not the design. I like the simple header. It speeds up mobile loading.
Update: three days later
The move is complete. I may still add some widgets but overall, I like the look and functionality of the new site. The biggest hurdle was transferring all my subscribers without having to ask them to subscribe to a new feed. I simply had to break the old feed from Blogger and redirect it from here. Easy, I know, but it took me hours to get it right.
Now I know why I waited until the three-day weekend to attempt this. The learning curve for WordPress was not too steep, but there still were some gotchas. The whole process was rather time-consuming but fun. I’m ready now to do some serious SEO and to get back to writing new essays. Oh, and respond to some of the recent comments.
No blogroll on LDC
I decided not to add a detailed blogroll but will maintain several in separate web pages. The links are at the top left: A new LDS blog aggregators list, the top LDS group blogs, the top LDS solo blogs and a large list of LDS Message boards or forums. These were all previously posted but have recently proven to be very popular reference pages.
Thanks to all the aggregators and fellow bloggers who have linked to the old site over the years. I know some have already changed to the new site. Thanks for your links. A blog is fairly boring without readers and comments. Your links bring me new readers every day. I look forward to the continued dialog and hope my essays are worth reading.
I had a blast today updating my list of LDS group blogs. I confess that although I have visited and read all of these blogs in the past, I have been sporadic in following them lately. That’s not because they aren’t good reading. It’s just that I haven’t had the time. Who does? I know some people spend numerous hours each day reading and contributing to these LDS group blogs.
I had a blast laughing and being shocked by the wonderful banter that goes back and forth in these forums. And I learned more than a few things that I didn’t know before. It happens every time I go reading on the Bloggernacle. There are some great articles written and shared every day on these blogs, some profound, some historically significant, some touching and some sad.
LDS Group blogs are fun
But for the most part, these blogs are just plain fun. I don’t know how else to explain it. You can waste a whole day being entertained and adding to the conversation. But I’ve got to wonder how these people produce anything for their employers and contribute as much as they do. I just can’t do it and not feel guilty. Maybe they are self employed or independently wealthy.
Unlike the solo LDS bloggers list that I updated last week, the top LDS group blogs did not change much in position. I added over a dozen good ones that a felt were worth the visit. Of course this list reflects my own personal preferences and may include a few that are not strictly LDS. But for the most part it’s a good cross section of the Bloggernacle as it stands today.
I have included a few disclaimers on the list, but here they are again: 1. These rankings are based on current Alexa rankings 2. This is not a comprehensive list. It is an arbitrary list of some of my favorites 3. List does not include LDS solo blogs 4. Some blogs may not be strictly LDS 5. A group blog has two or more contributors 6. All 9′s indicates that I recently added it
I know that Alexa is an imperfect measuring stick. I have had that conversation with others several times. If you know of a better way to rank the popularity of LDS blogs then let me know. I am open to adding your LDS group blog to this list as long as you have an Alexa ranking. The same goes for the solo LDS blogger. Just leave a comment or send an email.
Which ones do you recommend?
I used to participate in the dialog on several of the top group blogs years ago. I doubt that anyone would remember me as I probably didn’t contribute anything profound. But if you’re a solo LDS blogger like me and want to get exposure for your blog, I highly recommend that you join the dialogs on at least a few of the top group blogs. I always add readers every time I do.
So just out of curiosity, here are a few questions for you denizens of the Bloggernacle: 1. How many of these blogs do you read regularly? 2. On how many do you regularly contribute? 3. Which ones are your favorites and why? 4. Have you ever been banned from one of these blogs? 5. Do you feel that you are contributing something positive to the dialog there?
At Connor’s encouragement, I updated the rankings list of the solo LDS Blogs I read on a regular basis. I now have 110 solo blogs in my Google reader and listed on my sidebar. That’s an increase of thirty solo blogs since I published the last rankings five-six months ago in November 2008. Click on the image of the screen print below to go to the page and view the list with the hotlinks.
Although I noted several disclaimers at the bottom of the published list, I will include them here as well: This is an arbitrary list of some of my favorite solo blogs. It does not include LDS group blogs. The rankings are based on current Alexa rankings. Some blogs may not be strictly LDS. The top 3 are skewed due to their hosting site. All 9′s indicates that I recently added it.
How blogs are ranked
Look for the updated group blog rankings later this week. I classify a group blog as any LDS-themed blog with more than one contributor. In the list above, I have tried to only include those that are maintained exclusively by one person. It is not always possible to determine this so some may be in the wrong list. I move them around as I discover where they belong.
The top three are hosted on blog sites that include a whole bunch of other blogs. Alexa is unable to split out the individual blogs from these sites – About.com, Beliefnet and BYU. That would make Seriously So Blessed the top LDS solo blog but I doubt that it really is just one person maintaining it and of course, it’s not a serious effort at sharing doctrine. But it sure is fun!
LDS Blog Aggregators
This is in no way a complete list. There are thousands of LDS or Mormon related blogs out there. You can find a lot of them listed at LDS Blogs, which is curiously found at the URL of Mormon-Blogs.com. A big Bloggernacle thanks to David Sundwall of A Soft Answer and Of Good Report who has been publishing this list as a service to LDS bloggers for many years.
You can find many more LDS blogs at Mormon Archipelago, also known as LDSBlogs.org, Mormon Blogosphere, compiled by Dr. B of Mormon Mission. There are several other aggregators, one I especially recommend: Nothing Wavering. Another good one is the Blogregate at MormonBlogs.org. LDS Rankings rounds out the list. LDS Select seems to have disappeared.
A final note
Again, this is just my own list of LDS blogs that I follow, ranked by Alexa rankings. If you want to be added to the list, just let me know. I’ll add you as long as I find your content interesting, current and ranked in Alexa. If you are just starting and aren’t ranked yet, just give it time. You can read more about how to promote your LDS blog at this essay I wrote last year.