Mormons Are a Submissive People


Jesus-Rich-Young-RulerI’ve noticed a constant theme over the past few years as I have written about those who have been excommunicated from our church. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence the subject has come up so many times or if I have sought it out. I’d like to explore the idea of submissiveness with you in this post and get your opinion as to what the right attitude should be towards this.

Opposite of Arrogance and Rebellion

I’ve told you I pray about my posts. I’ve also mentioned to specific individuals privately this post was coming. These good people are worried about me. I know they love me and have expressed concern I’ve been dealing in territory they say causes them discomfort. Rebellion and arrogance are the opposite of submissiveness. I’ve had experience with both as a young lad.

Remember Them Which Rule Over You

I’m not going to address the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 of wives submitting themselves to their husbands. I’ll leave that to others. I prefer to center my remarks on the scripture in Hebrews 13:7, which reads, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Obey Counsel of Priesthood Leaders

I note in the Topical guide the word remember is replaced with the word Obey. If I recall correctly the Topical guide was compiled by Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. I believe we can safely surmise the word obey can be used in the place of the word remember, at least in this case. In short, we are to remember and obey the word of our priesthood leaders who preside over us.

Blind obedience not encouraged

That’s probably the crux of the matter. Some of my readers find it troublesome to think anyone could or should come between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. They can quote scripture and words from the Brethren – so can I – indicating how important it is to confirm all we receive from our priesthood leaders for ourselves. In other words, avoid blind obedience.

Examples from Disciplinary Councils

Put another way, we are to submit to their counsel, especially when it is given in love with concern for the salvation of our souls. Perhaps I can best illustrate with a few examples from disciplinary councils in which I have participated over the years. Don’t worry, I’ll provide no specifics; mention no names nor identify anyone in any way so you may think you know them.

Restoration of Full Fellowship

I have been blessed that the majority of these disciplinary counsels have been convened to consider bringing the member back into full fellowship after a period of disfellowshipment or excommunication or. I am pleased to report that most of these councils have resulted in positive outcomes. Tears and hugs all around have usually been expressed at the end of the proceedings.

A Willing and Contrite Spirit

In discussing as a bishopric or High Council what is different in the second council, it invariably comes down to a matter of attitude. We note the contrite spirit, the willingness to do as advised, the demonstration they have done as counseled over the year or years – I hate to see a disciplined member go more than a year without sacrament and temple blessings. They are different people.

Submissiveness Natural Result of Repentance

In other words, they have learned to be submissive. I have specifically heard penitent individuals express words to the effect of, “Bishop (or President), what would you have me do? I will do whatever you ask, anything you say to get my membership back or to be considered a member in full standing again.” There is no pride, no thought for self, only a desire to please their leaders.

The Lord Forgives, So Should We

Of course we ask them to relate their feelings about the Lord. We ask about their prayers. We ask if they feel forgiven. We ask if they feel the Love of their Savior. We ask about their efforts of restitution, if they have asked forgiveness of those they have harmed, used or abused (often a hard thing to do). We ask about their scripture reading, their gospel study and other habits.

Don’t Dwell on the Sin

If you have never gone through a disciplinary council, you may think this intrusive. We don’t dwell on the sin. We don’t rehash details of the sin. We focus on their efforts of repentance. I think my first disciplinary council was in 1989 as an executive secretary. Ordinarily the clerk attends but he was unavailable so I was asked to take notes and write up the report to Salt Lake.

Bishop’s Counsel is Recorded

I can only recall one council in which we decided the individual was not yet ready to be returned to full membership status. They obviously had not taken the bishops counsel seriously. We always provide a written record of what the bishop feels inspired to ask of them as evidence of their willingness to repent. That is his right and responsibility as a sustained common judge in Israel.

Counselors Provide Input for the Bishop

Having sat on the side of the table in which my duty is to provide counsel to the Bishop or Stake President, I have noted their response. With some leaders, it’s just a poll to see what we think, especially if it’s a cut and dry case. With others, the priesthood leader is genuinely interested in what we have to say. I have always appreciated that, especially when I was a new in the calling.

High Council Disciplinary Format Different

Remember, in a Stake Disciplinary council half of the High Council is to speak on behalf of the member. The member is allowed to have witnesses speak on his behalf and if I’m not mistaken, to have members of his family present to be at the proceedings, as long as they are reverent. The format is given by revelation. You can read about in in section 102 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Submissiveness Shows Respect

Now, let’s return back to the idea of submissiveness and respect. I’ve always struggled with the habit we have in our church of standing when a General Authority of higher authority comes into a meeting. To me, this smacks of hierarchy worship. That’s not to say I don’t follow it. I do. When I conducted sacrament meetings and a member of the Stake Presidency entered, I stood.

The Unwritten Order of Things

When sitting in Bishopric training meeting or High Council or Stake PEC, I note that we always deferred to the presiding authority as the last to speak and having the final ward. We usually expressed our opinion from youngest to eldest. It’s just the unwritten order of things that Elder Packer discussed in his talk offered so long ago on the subject, which many said they disliked.

I’m a First Generation Mormon

I suppose it’s the natural man in me, the rebel of a first-generation Mormon. I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and Presbyterian ministers. I attended the Presbyterian Church with my mother until I was five years old and still remember the pomp and formality of the worship service. Dad was a lapsed Baptist. I have many living relatives I love who are ministers today.

Apostasy not same as Moral Transgression

I want to conclude with a short discussion of the difference between a disciplinary council convened for moral transgression as opposed to one convened for apostasy. I’m alarmed we have seen more of these apostasy councils lately. It wasn’t that way as I was growing up in the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Apostasy usually brings up visions of rebellion, arrogance and pride.

Apostasy Usually Decided At The Top

However, in cases I have investigated first hand, I found none of these were present on the part of the individual who was excommunicated. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain, but I have interviewed them or read their account of the proceedings and their letter of appeal. I sense a difference in the actions of the presiding authorities – their minds made up in advance.

Stake President Carrying Out Assignment

This was clear in the account of Denver Snuffer. There is no doubt his stake president was told by members of the SCMC in Salt Lake what needed to be done with no room for negotiation. In other words, the decision was made. The stake president was simply under orders to carry out the formalities of discipline. I feel the same thing happened with Mel Fish and with Brent Larsen.

Even Good Men Can Err in Doctrine

This quote from Joseph reminds me of my friend Paul Toscano: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (HC 5:340)

The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul wrote a book explaining his side of things, “The Sanctity of Dissent.” The more I think about it the more I agree with Paul. I believe we have a right to disagree with the interpretations of scriptures and doctrines as offered by our General Authorities. I believe we should be able to share that on our private blogs without fear of reprisal or punishment from church officers.

Blogs are For Exploring New Ideas

Of course, as I have written many times, I would not dream of teaching my personal ideas or interpretations from the pulpit or in the classroom. I sustain the Brethren and their right to declare what should be taught uniformly throughout the church – but NOT to censor what we write in private or semi-public, such as a blog. Our blogs are not official word of the church.

Blogging is Following Counsel of Elder Ballard

That’s why I wrote in my previous post how it troubles me when we are punished for trying to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard to be involved in the online dialog about the church and our doctrines. We want people to understand us, even if we differ somewhat from the standard or orthodox interpretation of the official doctrines that are presented by teachers in our classrooms.

Seeking to Remain Informed

For those who have expressed concerned I have gone apostate because I enjoy reading, writing about and discussing the writings of certain individuals such as Denver Snuffer, Max Skousen, D. Michael Quinn, David John Beurger or just about anything from Signature Books, please don’t think this affects my testimony of the fundamentals of this church. My testimony is intact.

Many Prophets In Addition to Joseph

I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In spite of his flaws, he was a prophet of the Lord in these latter days. But don’t take away from me my right to call Denver Snuffer a prophet as well. I accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God, intended to be a warning for our day. Again, please don’t take away my right to read and discuss the writings of Denver Snuffer on my blog.

Seek Guidance From God in What to Study

As I’ve written many times, I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve in the small capacity in which I am asked, be it as a home teacher or in my current calling as the Stake Financial Clerk. I seek the guidance and direction of the Lord each day in what I should read and study in addition to the scriptures. I feel lead and am grateful for that still small voice to my soul.

Submissiveness to Local Priesthood Leaders

I like to think I am a submissive individual. I try not to take any offense when corrected by my priesthood leaders. I try to welcome it with a cheerful attitude. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart. As I’ve always said, I would remove my blog in a heartbeat if they said it caused people trouble or caused them to doubt their own testimonies of God and of our Savior.

Expressed Willingness to Remove my Blog

I wonder if the day will come when that changes. This is probably getting repetitious to my regular readers. I am growing. I am learning. I am seeking the face of the Lord. I do not feel this blog is being written by commandment of the Lord but by suggestion and a desire to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles. God bless them, especially those who suffer effects of old age.

Seek Learning by Study and by Faith

God bless you my brothers and sisters. May you seek learning by study and also by faith. I strive to do both. I will not leave my eternal salvation to what I hear taught each week in the three hour block of meetings. It is simply not enough. It is my personality and learning method that I must write and share as I read. Otherwise I do not feel a commitment or internalization of what I read.

Keys to My Participation in Ordinances

Please, rest assured, I intend to be and remain submissive to the direction of my priesthood leaders. Unless the Lord tells me otherwise, I will do as they direct. I sustain them and grant them authority over me. At this point in my life, the spirit directs I should do so. I want and need the sacrament and the temple. These brethren hold the keys of those blessing in my behalf.

The Last Post


HollandAtThePulpitWarning: This may not be Uplifting

I’m in another computer class this week. This makes week number sixteen this year. For those mathematically challenged, this will be 640 hours by the end of the week. I’ve got three more weeks to go – another 120 hours for a total of 760 hours. I got to thinking about when my migraines started. They started in February – about when I started all this computer training.

High Tech is for Young Folks

Maybe it’s because I’m a 56 year-old man and this stuff is fast-paced high-tech. I’m not saying I can’t keep up. I find it harder to focus so I can remember what is being taught. It was different when I was younger. There’s more stuff in there that needs to be shifted around and categorized to make room for new technology. I hope this is the last time I have to recertify my tech skills.

Keeping the Bad Guys Out

I think this is going to be one of the most enjoyable classes. It’s called “Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures.” In other words, I learn the same stuff in this class the hackers employ who want to break into my work systems. I’ve often asked myself why someone would care to break into our network. We manage several billion dollars’ worth of private jet aircraft, but so what?

Few Can Afford a Private 737

The aircraft mean nothing to me. They’re just things. I wouldn’t want one. They cost millions of dollars to house, staff and maintain each month. I would probably be worried about how I would pay for them but then I guess if you can afford a private Boeing 737, you can afford to pay for the monthly maintenance. Besides, a single charter flight can bring in half a million dollars.

A lifetime in the Business World

I hate business, always have. I thought I would be a college professor, a scientist or astronomer actually. But someone told me I could make more money to provide for my family if I learned computers so I did. I’m not sorry about my decision. I enjoy my work, especially weeks like this, but I have always wondered what it would have been like to teach or to be a research physicist.

Escape into Writing Science Fiction

That’s why you’ll find one of the main characters of my book teaches at CU. Funny thing is, he’s not happy with his job either. He wants to work for the government, because that’s where the big bucks are. He hates having to work so hard to get his programs funded and get new grant money each year. He feels stuck in his job, always looking for a newer telescope to manage somewhere.

Teaching Gospel Doctrine Class

I think I’ve written in the past I always ask the Lord what he would like me to write about in my blog posts. A couple of things come to mind. One is the wonderful experience I had substitute teaching our gospel doctrine class two weeks ago. I’ve been teaching church history since I was seventeen. This had to have been the most emotional retelling of the crossing of the plains ever.

Ephraim’s Rescue

I could barely finish the story of the rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart companies. I think it meant more to me because I had seen TC Christensen’s wonderful movie “Ephraim’s Rescue” just a few months ago. I related the story of how Ephraim Hanks ceremoniously washed his hands before each healing and how his gift grew upon him over the years. It was a sacred story.

Thinking of Denver Snuffer

But I had to think about Denver Snuffer as I taught. I know you’re going to ask why so I’ll tell you. I had the lesson divided into three – The rescue of the handcart pioneers, the crossing of the Sweetwater with the three young men who ultimately gave their lives to accomplish the task, and then part three was supposed to be spent in the scriptures, as we discuss being rescued by Christ.

We Tell Good Stories

I’ll offer the excuse of having been a high counselor for so many years in a previous stake. I love to tell stories. High Counselors, the good ones anyway, are able to take their assigned subject then shorten or lengthen the telling of their prepared material until it fits the time exactly so the Sacrament meeting ends at five minutes past the hour. I learned to do that with great expertise.

Scriptures Didn’t Get Read

Unfortunately, in the telling of the stories of the saving of the handcart companies and the story of the crossing of the Sweetwater by the three boys, I used up all my time. I never got to part three. While I received many complements of how deeply touched the members of the class were, what did I do wrong? I did not teach them from the scriptures. Not a scripture was read.

A Savior Who Rescues

It was not intentional I assure you. The spirit was felt. Even Carol said so and she does not hand out compliments easily. But the doctrine of a Savior who rescues us was not discussed. We did not as a class open the scriptures, read silently or out loud, separately or together, the scriptures that pointed out the whole purpose of why we meet in Sunday School: to learn of the Savior.

The Migraines Continue

I have thought a lot about the need to be rescued over the last seven months. I am a problem solver by nature and by training. By apparently my problem is not one that is going to be solved, or at least I haven’t discovered the solution yet. Migraines run in my family. I remember many days coming home from school finding mother lying in the dark with a damp cloth over her eyes.

Lots of Reading and Thinking

They always seemed to come to her after grading a lot of student papers. That involved reading and thinking, exactly what I am doing in my recertification classes. I’ve read that migraines can also be hereditary. Hmmm…Mother was marginal bi-polar. So am I. I am so grateful for Elder Holland’s General Conference address last Saturday. It was exactly what I needed to hear now.

Improve Skills With The Scriptures

So what does this have to do with Denver Snuffer? It made me think of something he said or wrote: that we have become a church of storytellers, and darn good ones too, but not nearly as good at opening, finding, studying and telling the story of salvation and revelation from the Lord’s scriptures. I speak this to my self and nobody else. I lack in scripture teaching skills.

Finding Answers in the Scriptures

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know the scripture stories. I can tell them with the best teachers who have spent a lifetime in this church using such stories to illustrate points as found in approved curriculum, but what about just opening the scriptures and teaching when prompted by the Holy Ghost? Perhaps such opportunities don’t come very often in your life. Are you ready for them?

Remember, Doctrine Doesn’t Sell

It still bothers me that Denver Snuffer was excommunicated last month. It still bothers me that friends who I dearly love, who have written books devoted specifically to doctrine have seen the sales of their books drop from the high plateaus of the seventies and eighties to the low levels of almost nothing today. “Doctrine doesn’t sell,” they are told by Deseret Book sales executives.

This Blog is Six Years Old

It’s been six years this week since I started this blog. I’ve grown a lot and made a lot of friends, but I’ve discovered two things that bother me tremendously and have caused me to think deeply about both the need and the wisdom of continuing a blog like this. First, anyone who has read the blog from the beginning knows how much it has changed. I do not believe things as I did then.

I Thought All Mormons Were Conservative

Back when I was started I was naïve and immature. I believed everyone felt as I did. I thought most Mormons were conservative, believed the stories of the restoration literally and felt as deeply as I did about preparing for the second coming. I felt the return of the Lord was just around the corner. I thought God was preparing a people to meet him. I believed in a real Zion.

Close Encounter With Evil Spirits

I still do, just not in my lifetime. Some of you know back in February I had a close encounter with the devil or at least with a couple of his evil spirits. It has permanently changed my life. I am no longer the same person. I am much more emotional. I am much more sensitive. I am now hiding behind drugs. The prescriptions for anxiety and pain keep the devil away, but just barely.

Hiding Behind The Doctor’s Pills

The other day I tried an experiment to see if maybe I had convinced myself of something that wasn’t true. I stopped taking all the pain and anxiety drugs – just for one day mind you. I thought I could handle it. I was fine during the day. The head burned a little, the pain was there as it had always been, but it was manageable, at least until 1:00 o’clock in the morning. Then I knew.

The Evil Spirits Returned

I knew I would never be free from what whatever had happened last February. The evil spirits were back. They woke me up and let me know they were still there. Their presence I felt back in February may or may not have had anything to do with the drugs and alcohol my son was using. It scared the crap out of me. I took my pills, waiting for them to take effect, went back to sleep.

No Idea of the Cause

Carol kept asking me, when this pain started, asking if it had started when I began reading Denver Snuffer. No, it started in February, and as far as I can tell, is related to anything other than a more intense effort to or realization that the new material I was studying for work was a lot harder than it was the first time or the second time I went through this certification process.

Mental Illness Can Be Hereditary

I was warned in my patriarchal blessing the adversary wanted to destroy me and my work. I always wondered what that work was. I still do. But I’m not sure how much longer I’ll need to worry about it. The pain and anxiety have been getting steadily worse. I’m going to have to face the reality I have developed the same mental illness that afflicted my mother in her later years.

Time to see the Head Shrink

That’s the curse of borderline genius, they say: sometimes you can produce amazing things with wonderful God-given gifts. I feel this when I prepare and teach a gospel lesson that helps people feel the sprit. Other times, you see or hear evil spirits. What is a person to do? I guess I have done everything except what the last doctors suggested – see a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Owned by the Boss 24x7x365

I am tired of driving on the Los Angeles freeways two hours every day for a job that I both love and hate. I love it because it is so damn easy that I can do it in my sleep. I hate it because the boss owns me and made it clear in a recent conversation I am to be at his beck and call whenever he needs me 24x7x365. He also called me a grumpy old man. That hurt even if it was true.

This Blog May Suddenly Go Away

So I think I’ve said the two things I wanted to say: 1) This blog may suddenly disappear one day. What does it matter in the eternal scheme of things? Am I a better man because of this blog? Does it server any useful purpose? Have I ever or am I now helping anyone? The numbers say I get a few hundred readers a day but I think they’re just looking for news of Denver Snuffer.

Even the Very Elect Shall Be Deceived

That’s the other thing I wanted to say. 2) We are told in the last days that even the very elect shall be deceived by false Christs. Funny, I never considered Denver Snuffer to be a false Christ. What do I do with the witness, even the burning testimony I was given when I read his last book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, that it was true, especially now that he has been excommunicated?

Looking for a New Job

I’m going to look for a new job. I’ve made up my mind that it’s not worth the many hours I spend on the LA freeways to be told by a wealthy man I once respected that he owns me. Why should that matter? We’re all owned by our employer’s, especially in California where we are employed at will, meaning the owner does not have to give a reason to fire us. He simply can.

Money Can’t Buy You Happiness

I am willing to take something, anything that is closer to home, even if it’s thousands of dollars a month less. What is money anyway? Yes, that means I’ll have to move. I can’t afford to live in this beautiful city, but from everything the scriptures tell us, there will be no more beautiful cities left in a few years. I’ve been taught all my life the last days will be unbearable with suffering.

Not Your Typical Mormon Family

But the most important thing in the world to me, my relationship to Christ, has suddenly become front and center. I am not your typical Mormon. I am not a young Mormon man with a beautiful young Mormon wife and a large beautiful, happy Mormon family. Perhaps I grew up with that but that has not been the experience of my adult life. It’s just been me and Carol and Mike.

My Son Has Moved On

Mike is gone now. He is happy, or so we think, based on the things he writes on Facebook. He always was smarter than his dad and has a better job than his dad where he does things that are much more technically challenging that what I’ll ever do. I love Mike. I’m proud of him. I hope he finds a good woman to love and to make his life complete. He lives by the seaside up in Goleta.

Not Very Uplifting Writing

I don’t think I’ve ever written like this before. You can tell it took a somewhat ominous tone about halfway through. Sorry. I don’t mean to be a downer. I am simply disappointed and did not find what I was hoping for from General Conference, as wonderful as it was. There is something missing from my life, and that something is a sacred, close personal relationship with the Savior.

The Church Says I’m Deceived

And the one man who taught we could and should pursue such a relationship has been cast out by the church I love. I was never as excited as I was when I read PtHG. Then I had never been as disappointed and saddened as I was when I learned he had been excommunicated. Now I am the point in my life where I am tired of putting up with disappointment. It’s time to make changes.

ONLY Prophets Know the future

I won’t change my church. Where would I go? But I am disappointed in what they did to Denver. I have to ask if I’m crazy – one of the deceived ones we were warned about all though our youth to be wary of. “Don’t be like them. You’re special. You’re elite. You’re the chosen ones. Don’t let anyone lead you astray. Follow the prophets. They’re the ONLY ones who know the way.”

Farewell and God Bless you My Readers

God bless. I bid you adieu. Who said that in the Book of Mormon? Was it Nephi or Moroni? Oh, neither. It was Jacob. Ah, yes, wanderings in a strange land. That’s us. Cast out. How in the world can a man go without the sacrament or the temple? I guess your own home becomes your temple. You become your own bishop, therefore authorizing the sacrament yourself. Interesting.

Update: about 4pm on Wed 10-9-13: As noted at the beginning of the post, I have been intensely involved in a computer class that starts at 6am and runs until 2pm each day. When I say intense, I mean intense. This is a class on how to defend against evil people who want to steal, deny your rights as a paying customer or worse, to simply destroy or bankrupt you by wiping out your data.

Your wonderful comments

I have noted your 33 comments to this essay, and especially the now 441 comments to my previous essay.  I am deeply moved by your expressions of sympathy and compassion, especially from some who I don’t even know, in addition to the dozens of private emails inquiring after my health. I can tell you the second half of the essay above is not normal for me and ask you to excuse me.

The Influence of Drugs

It was written under the influence of hydrocodone, tramadol and clonazepam (now my spam filter is going to have to work overtime). I am so sorry if it a) made no sense, b) was not uplifting, which is always my goal and especially for c) stating that this blog may go away. As I just reread it in a more sound mind, it made me think I was going to go off myself or something. How horrible. I’m so sorry.

Can’t Run Away From Problems

I will include these last four paragraphs in comments below, then read and respond to your comments and state unequivocally I am not discontinuing this blog. There are two things I need to work out – 1) How I am going to deal with my ongoing health issue in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord and 2) How I am going to deal with my testimony issue regarding Denver Snuffer in a like manner.

The Appeal of Denver Snuffer


DenversReadersUpdate 9-11-13: Denver Snuffer has been excommunicated. You can read it on his blog.

A reader asked my opinion of a recent post about Denver Snuffer by Russell Stevenson over on Rational Faiths. Somehow I missed it even though I go there often. It’s entitled, “Housewife Danites: Denver Snuffer and the Suburban Underground” dated August 27, 2013. I had to laugh at the title and at much of the content. I like Russell’s style. So now we’re Facebook friends.

We’re going to see a lot more posts about Denver in the next few days and weeks. I suspect his disciplinary council on Sunday will not be attended by the most important person – Denver. I may be totally wrong, but the fact is we know he is starting his lecture tour on Tuesday. That’s a big clue he won’t be doing as the Stake President asked, so why show up? It’s a done deal, folks.

Update: I’ve been advised in the comments by one who knows that Denver will attend his council. As I wrote in the comment. I assume too much. To me, that’s a true sign of humility. Please forgive my arrogance for assuming otherwise. Also, remember, as the Stake President wrote in the summons, there are two options: disfellowshipment or excommunication.

Update2: There are those on the private email lists who have stated they will be fasting and praying for Denver. I feel to do the same. I was too quick to think that his case was open and closed – too quick to make him a martyr for the cause of free thought and dissent. Take what I write here with a grain of salt. Mine are only observations from afar. I do not know the man.

Russell writes about the Mormon underground which confused some of his readers. Not sure why the headline calls it the Suburban Underground, maybe someone else wrote that. Anyway, you’re going to have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to some of the meat of his comments about Denver, his appeal, why he matters and will continue to matter in at least the near future.

Confidence in the Face of Excommunication

Many people are fascinated by Denver Snuffer. I’m one of them. Yet I know I couldn’t do what he’s doing. God bless him and his family as he goes through this. Maybe it’s not a big deal because he’s expected it for so long. Perhaps the big day for Denver is not Sunday, but Tuesday. He might lose his church membership on Sunday but will teach things on Tuesday that are in his heart.

As I wrote in my last blog entry, if my Stake President said take down your blog or at least stop writing about Denver Snuffer, I would do as he asked. I expressed how much I need the temple and the Sacrament each week. Think of it. If he is excommunicated, Denver will no longer have access to those, nor the right, according to the church, to exercise his priesthood or to even wear the temple garments.

Since it is a commandment to pay tithing, if he desires to do so, it must be paid through another family member. There is the stigma in our LDS community of being shunned, even though it is a time when former members need the most love. There is the possible loss of income from former business associates who choose not to be associated with a man who has been excommunicated.

Something Different About Denver

You’ve got to ask yourself why he would be willing to give all this up. In his latest posts he hints at some of his conversations with his stake president, how he has tried to comply and yet how he cannot or will not give up the publishing contracts. Did you know that he donates all proceeds from the sale of his books to the church missionary fund? He does not promote them by the way.

There is something different about Denver Snuffer and everyone who writes about him both sees it and writes about it. We who have been following this saga over the past year or two since the release of Passing the Heavenly Gift see there are mainly two camps: those who love him and those who hate him [See my comment in response to Ray below]. Russell Stevenson writes in his post about The-Church-in-Waiting.

Denver referred to this idea a couple of posts ago on his blog, pointing out that the establishment of Zion is not and will not be brought about by an institution such as the LDS Church. That’s quite a claim, but actually quite tame compared to some of the things folks have been quoting in the many (138 now) comments on my post from the day Denver announced his summons to the world.

Something for Both Camps

I know this may seem like I’m wandering a little bit, but stick with me. It’s late, I’ve had a tough week and I’m tired. But I feel it’s important to get this posted tonight so folks will see it before this weekend. You can discount me because I’m a California Mormon but Russell Stevenson hit on something very important in his post: Denver Snuffer appeals to all kinds of Mormon folks.

I hate labels or groups, especially when it comes to people but we all do it. Take a look at what Russell is saying: He points out clearly that Denver appeals to conservative and liberal Mormons. He appeals to both men and women. He appeals to those who are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the church as well as those who are working to build the church up.

I get the impression Russell may have only recently been introduced to Denver’s writings, and had a lot of catching up to do in order to post his article with some credibility. But Stevenson does have credibility in Mormon history. Therefore I paid attention to his main point: Denver has appeal. That’s the bottom line. The man has charisma; he has confidence and exudes authority.

Wish I Could Be There Tuesday

Maybe that’s because he’s an attorney, or maybe it’s because of his claim to have met with the Savior. Not many people can or have made that claim. Denver has gone to great pains to make sure his picture is not posted in his books or on flyers advertising when he is going to speak. He has explained many times it’s because he wants to draw attention to his message, not himself.

I wish I could be there in Boise next week but I’ve got a certification class for work I can’t miss. I’m looking forward to listening to the talk I’ve already preordered from Doug Mendenhall. In many ways I envy my friends on the private discussion groups who will be there. I believe it will be an electrifying moment. Denver has a message he or someone who inspired him wants heard.

I can just see some of the opposing comments to this post now: “Yeah, we know that someone who inspired him is the devil.” Yep, some of the comments are that bad and worse, but for the most part, I’m grateful for my readers who are willingly and deliberately civil even though they disagree. I am fairly certain some from the SCMC have been adding their comments as well.

My conclusion on Denver’s Appeal

So what is that appeal of Denver Snuffer? He must be excruciatingly annoying to those who are able to poke holes in his arguments. They do a pretty good job too. Even some of his supporters have asked questions that make you wonder if he has contradicted himself or dramatically changed his beliefs or teachings between the time of his first book and his last one – PtHG.

The appeal is that he has not self-imploded like so many apostates have over the years. Note that I used the word apostate. Yes, if he is excommunicated, he can be considered an apostate from the LDS Church. In the minds of some people, that changes everything. To me, it does not make one bit of difference. I don’t see Denver as fighting against the Church but maybe I’m wrong.

Denver appeals to people who find something lacking in the LDS Church. I think Stevensen mailed it when he wrote about the idea of The Church-in-Waiting with one exception. We’re not looking to leave the church. We want the things the Lord has promised – to be taught by angels and to be invited to be a part of the Church of the Firstborn – obviously not an earthly institution.

Invitation to Dialog

Does any of this scare you? What are your thoughts? I love to read your comments. Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for sharing what you think. You help me grow. That’s why I blog. And Richard, did I answer your question? I told you I might make it public if it got too long. In short, I loved Russell’s post. It made me think. I didn’t find it offensive, I found it humorous.

Sharing the Gospel through Goodreads


TimMaloneGoodReadsI finally got around to updating my Goodreads account with a few of the book reviews I have written over the years. I have been amazed by the response of new readers to my blog. It makes me feel a little better after being dropped by ldsblogs.org. I know people have told me not to be concerned about that but it still hurts losing that extra 200-300 hits per day from their site.

Readers and Blog Hits

Why are hits important to bloggers? I suppose the answer is different for everyone. Is it selfish? Is it egotistical? Is it narcissistic? I hope not. In my case, I started blogging in 2007 before Elder Ballard asked the Saints to be more involved in the online dialogs that are taking place about the church with or without us. My inspiration was an early LDS solo blogger I followed for years.

Solo Versus Group Blogs

Jeff Lindsay was an early pioneer solo blogger I admired as compared to the multiple group blogs that existed for many years. Group LDS blogs are fine and get a lot of traffic but frankly, I found I did not agree with many of the viewpoints I considered “unorthodox,” in other words, worldly. I know that’s judgmental but I did not find myself uplifted by some of the discussion there.

I Read So I Can Write

I want people to be exposed to some of the things I have found uplifting to my faith. I find that it helps my own personal study. Indeed, that is the major reason why I blog – to motivate me to read the scriptures and study the gospel. It’s hard to write about something and not sound like a fool if you haven’t read anything on the subject. I read so I can write. I write about what I read.

Television versus Reading

I grew up without television so I have a difficult time sitting down in the evenings to watch TV to unwind. I would much rather grab a book. So I do. But because I want to be with Carol, I also grab my earplugs. Yes, it can be distracting but if I hold the book just right, I can block out the TV and focus on what I’m reading. I can’t get over the feeling that TV for me is wasting time.

Non-Fiction versus Fiction

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I usually don’t read fiction. If you look at the list of books I’ve entered so far on Goodreads, you’ll note that the majority are non-fiction and LDS-related. I am fascinated by books about the last days, the spirit world and church history. I also like to read controversial stuff you won’t find in Deseret Book as well as your orthodox LDS book fare.

Out of the Best Books

I am a firm believer in the commandment from the Lord, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” I find nothing wrong with counting my reading of LDS-related books as my gospel study time. There are lots of scriptures quoted.

Physical versus Digital Books

I think I have transferred copies of most of my book reviews over to GoodReads. That made me the #56 book reviewer this month earlier today. As I wrote in a previous post, it’s going to take me months to include every book in my library, which has recently passed the 2,000 mark. I’m from the old school. I like to hold a physical book in my hand to read. Thus I buy a lot of books.

Book Reviews Are Helpful

But just to be sure, I decided to make a list here of my reviews with links so I can compare to what I now have on Goodreads. It truly is gratifying to receive emails from individuals who have read my reviews and felt inspired to write and thank me. It’s nice to think that maybe something I wrote has helped someone else. I have so very few original thoughts. I am guided by books.

Books Reviewed on Latter-day Commentary

These are in no particular order. I just went backwards through my blog looking for book reviews and added them with links to the list here. By the way, reading a book doesn’t make you an expert on a subject, but it does help you talk intelligently or at least understand when others bring it up. Also, as I’m sure you know, in most cases, the person writing the book is supposed to be an expert, but that is not always true. We’re all still learning.

01. 6-4-13, Born of the Spirit, E. Richard Packham, 1979
02. 5-29-13, There is a way Back, Gerald Pearson, 1970
03. 5-4-13, The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1987
04. 5-3-13, You Have Been Here Before, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1986
05. 4-23-13, Beloved Bridegroom, Donna Nielsen, 1999
06. 4-17-13, Remembering the Covenant, vol 1, Denver Snuffer, 2013
07. 4-12-13, The Doctrine of Meeting Christ in This Life, Eric Chun, 2013
08. 3-18-13, From Darkness Into Light, Mel Fish, 1999
09. 3-24-13, The Second Comforter, Denver Snuffer, 2006
10. 2-2-13, Near Death Experiences, Part 2, containing:

  • The Gateway We Call Death, Russell M. Nelson, 1995
  • Embarrassed by the Light, Douglas Beardall, 1995
  • Saved by the Light, Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry, 1994
  • NDE – Near Death Experiences, by Lee Nelson and Richard Nelson, 1994
  • Beyond Death’s Door, Robert L Top and Wendy C Top, 1993
  • Reborn in the Light, Cherie Sutherland PhD, 1992
  • Embraced by the Light, Betty J Eadie with Curtis Taylor,1992
  • Closer to the Light, Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, 1990
  • Beyond the Veil – Volume Two, Lee Nelson, 1989
  • Beyond the Veil – Volume One, Lee Nelson, 1988
  • The Light Beyond, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, 1988
  • The Journey Beyond Life , Michele R. Sorensen and David R. Willmore, 1988
  • The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1987
  • Return From Tomorrow, George G Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill, 1978
  • Spirit World Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, 1978
  • Life After Life, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, 1975
  • Temple Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, 1974
  • Life Everlasting, Duane S Crowther, 1967

11. 1-30-13, Near Death Experiences and Me, Part 1, Containing:

  • Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, 2012
  • Visions of Glory as told to John Pontius, 2012
  • Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, 2011
  • To Heaven and Back, Mary C Neal MD, 2011
  • Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, 2010
  • In His Arms by Denise Mendenhall, 2006
  • And Should We Die, Ron McMillan and Randy McMillan, 2003
  • Possibilities…Lessons From the Spirit, Doug Mendenhall, 2002
  • Visits From Beyond the Veil, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, 2002
  • There is no Death, Sarah LaNelle Menet, 2002
  • And There Were Angels Among Them, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, 2001
  • My Peace I Give Unto You, Robert Lake with Doug Mendenhall, 2001
  • The Message, Lance Richardson, 2000
  • Life After Death, Robert L Millet, 1999
  • I Stand All Amazed, Elane Durham, 1998
  • I Saw Heaven, Lawrence E. Tooley, 1997
  • Heavenly Answers for Earthly Challenges, Joyce H Brown, 1997
  • Beyond the Darkness, Angie Fenimore, 1995

12. 1-18-13, And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, Anthony Larson, 1981
13. 1-13-13, Visions of Glory, John Pontius, 2012
14. 9-10-12, Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, 2011
15. 8-14-12, The Book of Mormon: A Biography, Paul C. Gutjahr, 2012
16. 6-24-12, Teachings of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives, Anonymous, 2011
17. 5-5-12, Ten Parables, Denver Snuffer, 2008
18. 2-26-12, Passing the Heavenly Gift, Denver Snuffer, 2011
19. 3-28-11, How Americans View Mormonism, Gary Lawrence, 2008
20. 12-6-10, Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth, 1970
21. 5-5-10, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
22. 5-11-09, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman, 2007
23. 4-23-09, Shaken Faith Syndrome, Michael Ash, 2008
24. 3-16-09, In Sacred Loneliness, Todd Compton, 1997

Preparing for a Digital Afterlife


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:

My Essays

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.

My Domains

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.

Email Hosting

Besides my work email, I have my two private email accounts, tmalonemcse@gmail.com and tim@3tcm.net. 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.

DNS 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.

Website Hosting

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.

The Power of the Sacrament


I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:

Hello,

I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.

My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.

I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.

Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.

Please help.

And my response:

Hi Samantha,

Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.

I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.

I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.

I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.

That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.

The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”

There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.

At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.

For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.

My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.

I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.

Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.

Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.

Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.

Good luck and God bless. You can do it.

Top 50 Most Viewed Essays


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

My Interview with Mormon.org


On this Pioneer day, I decided to answer all the personal questions that you are asked when you fill out the profile on Mormon.org.  There are a whole lot more under the FAQ section (about 80) but that will have to wait for another day when I have more time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process of answering these questions and felt like I was being interviewed, thus the title of this blog post.

01. Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?

Having grown up with daily prayer, I can’t imagine a day go by in which I don’t communicate with my Heavenly Father in prayer.  We start the day in prayer as a family asking for the Lord’s blessing upon us as we work.  We end the day in prayer the same way, usually kneeling by the bed, reporting our activities to God and thanking him for his help.  We give thanks for the food we eat at mealtimes and participate in public prayers in our weekly worship service.  It is through prayer and reading scriptures that I feel close to God and directed in my life.

02. Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?

The most powerful admonition of the Lord that has helped me find happiness in this life is his commandment that we love one another.  I remember this whenever I feel that I have been misunderstood or hurt by someone else, either intentionally or not.  It is so easy to take offense in this world but the end result is that we only hurt ourselves when we do that.  To love others is to trust in the Lord that he will help make everything all right, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first.  He also requires us to forgive others since we all make mistakes and errors in judgment. We show our love by forgiving.

03. Please share your feelings/testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel.

Even though I grew up hearing the Joseph Smith story I am still amazed as an adult to realize just how powerful his history really is.  Think about it!  Angels, gold plates, visits from God, Jesus Christ and ancient apostles and prophets – these are all miraculous events that we just don’t hear about everyday.  It is truly a marvelous thing to learn all that the Lord did through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God.  I am especially grateful for revealed doctrines that clarified and corrected the errors of man in the many religions of the world.

04. Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.

I have read at least a dozen biographies of the life of Joseph Smith, and continue to be amazed that the Lord was able to accomplish so much through this one man.  He was a prophet in every sense of the word in that the Lord revealed his will for us through him and continues to do so through the prophets that have followed.  But it was Joseph who paid so dearly with his life even though he did what the Lord told him to do in bringing forth the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I hold Joseph Smith in high regard and look forward to meeting him in the world to come.  I want to thank him for his faithfulness in translating the Book of Mormon.

05. Why do Mormons go on missions?

I went on a mission because I watched a video of the prophet asking all worthy young men to serve the Lord as missionaries.  As he shared his vision of how the gospel would go to all the world, I deeply felt a desire stirring within my soul to be a part of that great army of missionaries.  It was a major sacrifice for me to leave my studies and spend two years in Central America seeking out those who would respond to the Lord’s invitation to come unto him through baptism.  I loved my mission experience and found joy in testifying to the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  We go on missions because we are commanded to share the gospel and feel the desire to seek out and bring the message of the truth to all who will receive it.

06. Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?

Besides being a commandment to seek out our ancestors, we do family history research because we feel a desire to know and appreciate the story of those to whom we are indebted for our very lives.  I am a product of all those who came before me.  My parents were influenced by their parents and they were who they were because of their parents and so on back as far as we can discover.  Once we have the basic facts of their lives such as names and dates, we are privileged to go to the temple and perform proxy ordinances for them so that they too may meet the commandments of the Lord to be baptized and enter into covenants of exaltation.  We do family history work so we can be saviors on Mt Zion (Obadiah 1:21).

07. How has attending Church services helped you?

One of the highlights of my week is to attend church services each Sunday.  I serve in a leadership capacity in my church, and attend a few more meetings besides the regular three-hour block of Sacrament, Sunday school and Priesthood meetings.  I love the interaction with others who believe as I do and feel as I do about trying to follow the teachings of the Savior.  I say try because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes each week.  That’s another reason why I love to go to church each Sunday – I get to renew my baptism covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.  I learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these church services and feel a unity with God and with my fellow saints as we worship God and Jesus Christ together.

08. What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?

Like everyone else, I have experienced moments of argument and disharmony in my home which leave me feeling frustrated, resentful, hurt or angry.  I do not like such feelings, especially in my home where I want to relax and feel happy, safe and secure.  So over the years, I have made a greater effort each day to promote harmony and unity by not arguing and not finding fault with my family members.  I was not very good at this as a youth and so I appreciate the blessings that have come to me as an adult as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to love others, especially members of my own family, who need and deserve my love the most.  We can have a harmonious home by practicing kindness and forgiveness.

09. What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?

Of all the teachings of the church about family, this idea of keeping out the world has been the most difficult but the most rewarding.  Television and the Internet are two of the most challenging types of media to monitor and control.  We believe in freedom so we encourage each other to seek after virtuous and uplifting material.  So the shield we put into place is not anything controlling such as “thou shalt not!”  It is more of making sure that we understand the differences that certain material, music or entertainment can produce, compared to the results of worthy content.  We seek out and support worthy entertainment and uplifting media content and pray constantly that we will each desire such material over the worldly offerings.

10. Could you talk about your baptism?

I was eight years old when I was baptized and for me, that is a long time ago.  My father, who was a recent convert, had to work the evening of my baptism, so he was unable to perform the ordinance.  I was baptized by a young man who was preparing to serve a mission.  My father was able to confirm me a member of the church the next day and I remember the special feelings that came to me as he conferred upon me the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I remember my primary teacher was there and gave me a picture of the Savior mounted on a small piece of wood.  I still treasure that memento and the words of encouragement that she penned on the back.  I’m sure I did not understand all the implications of the covenants I was making at eight years old, but I have come to appreciate the blessings of this ordinance more and more each Sunday as I take the Sacrament and remember what the Savior miraculously did for me in taking upon himself the effects of my sins upon conditions of repentance.  It is baptism that makes my repentance possible.

11. Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?

I am not a very outgoing person so I believe that the best way I can share the gospel with others is through providing a good example of following the teachings of the Savior.  I have been amazed over the years as I see the influence that my behavior has on others.  I feel it brings respect and a kind of trust that can come in no other way.  I am sometimes surprised that people, including co-workers, will unsolicited confide in me details of problems they are working out and seek my advice and opinion.  I am then able to share my beliefs that following the teachings of Jesus Christ can and does help me deal with problems and that it can help them too.  Because I am shy, I find great comfort in sharing my feelings about the gospel online and am an active LDS blogger.  I also use modern technology like Facebook and Twitter to share my life.  The gospel comes up in the natural course of sharing things online and results in online dialogs in non-threatening and informative way.

12. How does making right choices help us make more right choices?

When we choose the right even when it is hard to do, we strengthen our character and develop integrity.  Deciding to do the right thing one time makes it easier to do the right thing the next time.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the added advantage of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This gift helps us understand what the right thing to do is in difficult situations.  When we decide to follow the impressions of the Holy Ghost in making life’s choices, we show God that we value and appreciate this gift.  The impressions of the spirit will then become stronger or easier to recognize and we can grow in always making right choices.  Of course, being mortal, we will all make mistakes.  The Holy Ghost can also help us repent and make better choices in the future.

13. In what ways have your prayers been answered?

There are so many countless examples over the years that it is hard to share just one or two.  Perhaps the most dramatic for me was on the day that I proposed to my wife.  After I returned home from my mission, I had been praying for quite some time to find a woman who believed as I did and with whom I could be happy.  I was dating my wife’s best friend but the chemistry was just not there.  One day my wife invited me to a ball game and I told her about my troubles getting her friend to like me.  I could see that her feelings were hurt. The next day I visited her in her home and had a long conversation about life and marriage and family.  I had some very powerful spiritual feelings as I was talking to her that I knew were an answer to my prayers.  I proposed on the spot and we were married a few months later.  The Lord helped me with one of the most important decisions of my life.

14. What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?

My role in the family is to provide security and stability – both financial and spiritual.  I enjoy my responsibility to work and earn the money that we need to have a home, food, clothing and other necessities of life.  But more importantly, I enjoy my responsibility to provide spiritual direction for my family.  We are strengthened by attending church together, by praying and reading the scriptures together and by pursuing worthwhile family goals.  For example, my wife and I take classes at the local community college in the evenings in an effort to improve ourselves and keep our minds active.  We are strengthened as we work together as a family to accomplish good things with our lives and to provide service in our church and our community.  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us in this endeavor.

15. How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?

Sometimes this life can be a drag on the spirit because of all the disappointments and setbacks that come as a natural part of living in this world.  Understanding the Plan of Happiness helps me to realize that such setbacks are temporary.  I remain convinced that the Lord is very involved in my life and wants to help me through my journey until I am ready to return to his presence in the life to come.  Knowing that I lived before I came to this world to experience mortality helps me to have a bigger picture of things.  Knowing that I will live in the world to come and that I will someday be resurrected with a glorious and eternal body give me hope that goes beyond the drudgery and dullness that this life can sometimes be.  The Plan of Happiness is just that – a plan for me to find and achieve happiness through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and enduring to the end of mortality true to what I know.

16. What is hope and what do you hope for?

Hope is the belief and conviction that there is purpose and meaning to this life.  Hope is the understanding that even though we pass through trials and troubles, we can have the assurance that our experiences are for our good and will cause us to grow.  I hope for a glorious resurrection.  I know that this is dependant upon my personal righteousness and my works of faith in this life.  Yes, the resurrection is a free gift to all men, but we believe that the quality of our lives in the hereafter is very much dependant on our actions here.  This life is a time of testing and proving and we can hope that our efforts in struggling against opposition in this world will be rewarded by a just and merciful God who wants to bless and help us through it.

17. How has the Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?

In the Book of Mormon we read that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).  I can’t think of any more concise and explicit scriptural reference that helps us understand the purpose of life.  Of course, the Book of Mormon provides a lot more insight into how we go about finding that joy and even helps us to understand what true joy is.  One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the prophet Lehi’s dream about the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8).  In his dream he partakes of the fruit of the tree which is desirable to make one happy and is sweet above all that he had ever before tasted.  Eating of the fruit fills our soul with exceedingly great joy.  The fruit of course is the love of God and we obtain it by holding fast to the Word of God that is represented by the Rod of Iron in Lehi’s dream.  What a great story!

18. How has the Holy Ghost helped you?

I consider the Gift of the Holy Ghost one of the greatest blessings in my life.  There have been so many instances in which I have been helped by the Holy Ghost that it is hard to imagine getting through this life without this wonderful gift.  The Holy Ghost inspires me and encourages me to do things that are hard to do but that result in happiness for me and for others in my life.  The Holy Ghost has warned me of danger many times, prompting me to stay away from certain things and places.  The Holy Ghost has helped me by prompting me to a certain course of action that I otherwise might not have considered.  The Holy Ghost has been my constant companion in my work, helping me to remember things that, if forgotten, could have been the cause of much distress or pain.  The Holy Ghost has comforted me in times of sorrow and distress, helping me to feel the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior even when I do not feel worthy of their love.

19. What blessings have come through your faith in Jesus Christ?

It is because of my faith in Jesus Christ that I am able to get through some of the more difficult aspects of my life.  For example, it is hard for me to do things in a public setting.  But I have been taught and believe that it will be for my good.  The Lord has promised me through the scriptures that he will help me through these difficult circumstances as I exercise faith in him.  And like everyone in this world, I am no stranger to making mistakes and poor choices, even when I know better.  It is through my faith in Jesus Christ that I put into practice one of my favorite little sayings that helps me keep going: “Success is not in never falling, but in getting up each and every time we fall.”  I know that I can be a better person than my fallen human nature would dictate, and it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am willing to make greater effort each day to be the man that I know he would have me be.

20. How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?

One of the best ways I know of to live in harmony as a family is to do all within our power to avoid criticism, cutting remarks or any attempt to make another family member feel less than loved.  We do this by sharing the same ideals and goals – to seek happiness in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where some family members may not have fully accepted the vision of the gospel, we can provide an example of tolerance and patience with them, just as our Heavenly Father and our Savior do with us.  Fighting, arguing, bickering and contemptuous behavior toward any family member is not the way to have peace and harmony in our homes.  Thus, we pray each day that such undesirable activities are mitigated by expressing love and kindness in all that we do.  We are each at differing levels of maturity in our understanding of this concept, so it is up to those who do, to live it better each day.

21. Can you think of a specific challenge in your family that Gospel Principles helped overcome?

Like most families, we have experienced our share of challenges that have tested our faith and caused us to lean deeply on our understanding of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome.  For example, my wife and I have both lost parents to death, have had our share of serious health problems, including cancer, and have suffered through multiple seasons of financial stress due to unexpected unemployment.  In addition, we have been pained as not all family members have accepted our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  But it is because of the teachings of Christ that we are encouraged to be patient, that we are comforted when discouraged, that we are inspired when distressed and that we are given strength when we feel weak.  We go on and we press forward, believing that it will all work out for our good, either in this life or in the life to come.  We meet those challenges with strength knowing that we are not alone and that God has promised to help us through them if we will but exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and remain true and faithful to him.

22. How can your talents and gifts bless others?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God gives gifts to each member for the purpose of blessing and supporting each other in this life.  Some of those gifts and talents are more obvious, such as singing, musical ability, acting, performing or even a talent to be able to speak with confidence in front of the congregation (trust me, not all members have this talent).  But the scriptures teach that God gives some gift or talent to every member.  Perhaps one is blessed with the ability to be a good listener, another to share heart-felt testimony of how they know the church to be true, others with the gift of teaching children or even just the talent of being able to live peacefully among their neighbors.  When we share our talents and gifts with others, God blesses us and we are “magnified” or made more effective so that others can receive the same benefits that we enjoy.

23. Think about your everyday activities. What are things you act upon each day where you cannot see the end results? How does faith move you to action?

A very simple everyday activity for me that is an act of faith is prayer.  I have never seen an angel or heard a voice in response to my prayers, but I continue to pray each day, believing that God does hear and answer my prayers.  And indeed he has – by sending the comforting feelings of the Holy Ghost to bless and confirm to me that he loves me and wants me to know the truth for myself.  My faith in God and my trust in the words of his prophets as found in the scriptures causes me to continue to pray both as an individual, with my family, in my congregation and in the homes of other members of the church that I visit.  The end results of my prayers are not always evident right way but are just as certain as if I had seen the effects at the time of the prayer.  I am confident; yes I can say that I know, that God hears and answers our prayers that are offered in faith and with real intent.

24. How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?

I first read the Book of Mormon when I was very young – probably 5 or 6 years old.  I read it out loud with my mother, who was a schoolteacher.  Our family had recently joined the Mormon Church so this was also my mother’s first time reading the Book of Mormon.  I remember the special feelings I had as we read it together.  I felt a warm and comforting spirit as I read. I have read the Book of Mormon many times in the many years since I first read it.  In fact, there is not a year that goes by in which we do not read from it either individually or as a family.  No matter how many times we read the same passages, we always seem to learn something new or have our faith in the truthfulness of the book reaffirmed.  The same warm feelings always return. But it is by following the principles of the gospel that are written in the Book of Mormon that we draw closer to God.  It is in the pages of the Book of Mormon that we learn more about the purpose of life and God’s plan of happiness for us.  The Book of Mormon teaches us to study things out and to pray about them that we may know of their truthfulness for ourselves.

25. Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?

Up until recently, we as members of church recited the mission of the church as follows: to preach the gospel, redeem the dead and to perfect the saints.  Within the past year, a fourth mission has been added: to care for the poor and the needy.  We now call these four areas of focus simply the purposes of the church.  In my life, I have participated in each of these areas by serving a mission and continuing to share the gospel, by doing family history or genealogy work and by magnifying my callings to serve in the church as a teacher, leader or whatever I’m asked to do.  I’m grateful to be able to assist in caring for the poor and the needy by contributing money to the fast offering funds of the church and by volunteering to serve food at the local homeless shelter on a regular basis.  These missions or purposes of the church help me as an individual member focus on what is really important to our Heavenly Father – to save his children, both temporally and spiritually.

Add your profile to Mormon.org


I haven’t been this excited about something the church has done in a long time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the blessings of being involved in church activity each week, especially as I watch the young single adults grow and develop (I serve in the Bishopric of a YSA ward).  But for me, this is probably the single most exciting development I have seen come from Salt Lake City in many years.

I’m talking about the new Mormon.org, a complete redesign of the companion website to lds.org, the two main websites of the Mormon church.  Since I make a living with computers in IT support, I have been watching the church embrace and use technology for my entire adult life.  In the early nineties I wondered for a long time when the church would finally get a website.  When they did, it took me a while to not think that it was just a little bit behind the times even when it was new.  I felt the same way when Mormon.org first came out.  But with release 4.0 of the site, I confess that I am just blown away.  Why?  Because of the interactive element.

The church has embraced social media in a big way.  I confess that I am a little shocked at the amount of openness and trust that is exhibited in allowing members of the church to create their own profiles on the site.  It’s especially progressive that links to FaceBook, Twitter and blogs are not only allowed but encouraged.  The Brethren are putting a lot of faith in the members of the church to show the world who Mormons really are.  The profile and links are reviewed but they are left totally up to the members to maintain – warts and all.  It is an awesome way to share the gospel.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to add your profile to the new Mormon.org.  It’s a simple process and takes just a few minutes.  All you need is an account on LDS Account.  Most members of the church have already done that as they participate in the new Family Search or access their ward and stake websites.  I can’t think of a better way to share our beliefs with the world and help dispel all the misconceptions that are still out there, especially on the Internet.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, come be my friend on Facebook.  That’s where I do most of my online social interaction these days.  It’s just so much quicker to share my life with family and friends there.  I’m glad that I spent several years writing essays on Latter-day Commentary because I wanted a place to explain in depth how I feel about the church and the powerful doctrine.  But you may have noticed that my essays have become few and far between.  Social media is not just for the young.  I have reconnected on Facebook with 500 friends from school, work, church and life.

What an amazing thing that the church has done.  I think we’re going to hear a lot more about this.  Now go create your profile on the new Mormon.org.

Mormon Mommy blogs are the traffic queens


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!

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