Q & A with Tim Malone, Author of Latter-day Commentary


ldc-blog-imageQ: How has your perception of Latter-day Commentary changed since its inception?

In many respects, the direction of this simple blog has turned completely around. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, my intent was to help combat what I perceived to be a plethora of misinformation out there about the doctrines I knew to be true, or that I grew up believing. I now find myself presenting reasons why what I originally thought was false doctrine may indeed be worth considering, especially since early documents support that Joseph originally taught it.

In other respects, the intent and focus of the blog has not changed at all. My intent was to share my gospel study and learning experiences. I have always appreciated teaching, have taught the gospel all my life and enjoyed making lesson plans or outlines of subjects and then fleshing them out with scriptures and quotes. That has not changed. What has changed is my perception of the truth. I have had to jettison some false beliefs that were based solely on tradition. Gratefully, I was prepared. I frequented many LDS group blogs for several years before I started my own.

Although I felt prompted and inspired to start the blog and made it a matter of prayer, I do not say the Lord told me to start the blog, only that I find a way to bring greater motivation to my life in the area of gospel study. I have shared many talks and lessons on my blog that I also gave in the gospel doctrine class or delivered from the pulpit over the years. Sometime last year I felt to dedicate the blog to the Lord and let Him use it for His purposes. Things changed radically. I found myself led to invite others to share the audience I had built up over seven years of work.

ds-blog-imageQ: You’ve had both positive and negative feedback from readers about some of the content regarding DS and the work currently underway. What was your initial reaction to his writings? Can you elaborate on the challenges of retaining your faith in light of recognizing discrepancies in the traditional narrative of the church?

I appreciate both kinds of comments from readers, especially those who can and do form cogent arguments in response to what Denver has written and what I have tried to explain in my own words. I am not always successful in understanding all the intricacies of the doctrines put forth. I may be seeing only a small part of what is being presented in the post and entirely missing how such a radically different view affects families and individuals in situations dissimilar to mine.

My initial reaction to Denver Snuffer’s work was positive. It was a revelatory experience. When I tried to share what I had read with others, I was saddened by how negatively they reacted. It was especially difficult as I tried to discuss what I felt was enlightenment from the Holy Ghost with my wife, who I consider my equal in our knowledge of church history. After all, she served her mission in Independence Missouri, with a Mission President teaching the standard narrative.

On the other hand, my mission president was a convert and always encouraged the missionaries to “push the envelope” in our studies. He did not shy away from inspiring us to reach out and understand the mysteries. He would say, “They are only mysteries because you haven’t studied them.” It’s funny that both our Mission Presidents were CES employees but Carol’s had a much more traditional or orthodox approach to the history of the Church, especially the Nauvoo period.

Retaining my faith in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and most of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants was not difficult. I confess the idea that Section 110 may be of dubious authenticity was difficult for me at first. But when I compared Section 27 side by side with the original, and saw how it had been “expanded” under Sidney’s pen, I made a more careful consideration of section 110, took it to the Lord in prayer and came away satisfied.

40-years-in-mormonismQ: Are you still digesting the material laid out in the DS lectures last year, and if so, what specifically do you find to be significant?

I most definitely am still digesting the lectures and will be for years to come. I re-read lectures three and four again this past week, pondering carefully the enticing nature of how Denver has presented repentance. So many people I know try to “white-knuckle” it through repentance by using the “moving away-from” model as opposed to what Denver presents in a “moving toward” model. I have always favored that approach. It has always worked for me. I fully endorse it.

I’ve studied the lecture on covenants at least four times now and am just beginning to understand the significance and all-encompassing nature of what is found in that short lecture. I think it’s about twenty-two pages if I’m not mistaken. Yet I learned why the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming if we are not sealed to the fathers, as well as came to a better understanding that everything the Father is doing in our day is to fulfill that covenant he made with the Patriarchs.

I have had it reconfirmed to me once again how important it is that we are sealed to the fathers, the Patriarchs, and that this must be done in a temple, like the one Joseph was trying to get the Saints to finish in Nauvoo but which did not happen. There is not a temple found on the earth today which is acceptable of the Lord where He can come and seal us to the Fathers in that binding ordinance that is referred to in section 124 – a place to restore that which was lost.

I am still blown away by the priesthood lecture. I think I’ve read it six or seven times now and am still learning new things each time I study it. There was so much I thought I knew about priesthood that was simply wrong. I’m grateful to have been in attendance at the Mesa lecture. The idea of Preserving the Restoration resonates with me. I have seen so much understanding disappear from that we taught when I was growing up in the church in the sixties and seventies.

ds-interview-part1Q: Your recent interview with DS offered an opportunity for clarity on a variety of topics. How did this interview come about and did you find what you were looking for?

Although I could not attend the early lectures due to work commitments, I made it known on my blog I planned on attending the later lectures. I received an invitation from Denver to meet with him for dinner on the evening of one of the lectures. I suppose he wanted to meet this individual who had written so much about his writings over the preceding eighteen months. Carol and I had dinner with Denver and his family the night before the St. George lecture. We parted as friends.

This year, I celebrated ten years with my employer by taking a two week vacation, something unheard of for a computer guy in a small company. I wanted to make the first week a working vacation. I arranged interviews with several fellow bloggers and readers. On Wednesday, Carol planned an endowment session at the Brigham City temple. Obviously I would not be attending with her. I asked the Lord if there was someone else we wished me to add to my interview list.

He suggested Denver. I asked. He accepted. I asked if he would prefer the questions in advance. He agreed. I used to interview CEO’s and Marketing VP’s for a software newspaper I published years ago so the format was very familiar – sort of like a deposition. After Denver agreed, I went to the Lord for the questions. He provided. So the questions asked were what the Lord wanted to have expounded. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any particular answers. I wanted to understand some of the more controversial points from his lectures. Most of his answers were from PtHG.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of online and offline dialogs with readers about what Denver has written. I have no idea why they seem to think I know what is on his mind. It still amazes me how many people either haven’t or will not read his material. They will read what other people have said about it but won’t read it themselves. This astonishes me. If there’s one thing Mormons are supposed to be good at, it’s having an open mind about writings that are extra-Biblical. In other words, we want people to read the Book of Mormon in order to understand us better.

Yet, so few will take the time to make a formal study plan, combined with prayer in an effort to understand the doctrines behind the writings and lectures. I think some of the questions I asked in the interview were brought up in an effort to get people more interested in going to the source. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish, it was to get people to seriously read, ponder and pray about the lectures. But so many have made up their minds. They are closed. It is so sad.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilQ: You’ve written a lot on the subject of NDE. What has contributed to your interest on this particular topic? How would you characterize common elements found in many NDE based on what’s been revealed about life after death?

I am by no means an expert on NDEs. I have had two dreadful near-death experiences in my life. Both times I was met by beings of darkness. The first time was in my youth. I opened the portal through my own foolishness. It woke me up big time. It turned me around. It caused me to fear for my life and to seek to repent, which took a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish. It was nearly a year later that I came into the presence of the Lord, which I have described on my blog.

The second NDE was a couple of years ago when my son opened a portal in our home at 2am in the morning while doing drugs and porn with a fellow druggie. I’ve posted the story and shared it with those who have asked. I was mislead by a well-meaning individual who told me I could deal with the dark spirits by asking the Lord to bring them into my aura so I could get them to repent. Yeah, right! It was one of the most foolish things I have ever done in my life. I still suffer pain.

My interest in NDEs is a result of having the portal to the spirit world opened in a manner that was not at all pleasant. I suppose only those who have experienced being sucked into that world, even for a moment, can understand the resulting interest in trying to make sense of the things discovered or actually remembered, by entering into such a realm. There are things revealed to your soul that this world denies. One seeks to find others who have been there and can relate.

true-order-prayer-imageQ: Your posts on the True Order of Prayer resonated with many people. The prayer circle was a more prominent fixture in worship (both inside and outside of temples) until May 1978 when the First Presidency restricted its use to certain settings. How have your prayers in this manner affected your relationship with the Lord and/or the Powers of heaven?

I still have a long way to go in this area. I am focusing on altars in my personal study these days. I want to know the history of true altar building, why the Patriarchs built altars, how they built them – no hewn stone – and if there is significance to where they are placed. I wish I had land of sufficient size where I could dedicate a private space to building an altar for worship. In the meantime, I asked the Lord if I could substitute a dedicated home altar and received his approval.

There is something powerful about altar worship. What we learn in the temple is significant. For me, a prayer at the altar is so much more powerful than my usual morning and nightly prayers. I find repetition does not enter into my heart or mind when I pray at the altar. I am filled with desire and am given the words to say. These prayers at the altar have changed my life. It is clear the powers of heaven pay attention when we go to the trouble of praying at a dedicated altar.

At one time in the history of Mormonism, it was acceptable practice to have a home altar. It was a sign of commitment to one’s religion to gather the family together at the altar for worship. I use my altar when I partake of the sacrament in my home. It is so sad to read how such practices as altar worship and partaking of the sacrament in the home are now considered apostate. Joseph Smith would not be welcome in the LDS Church today because of “apostate” worship practices.

Think about what we learn in the temple from Adam’s example with an altar. When he prayed at the altar, he opened a portal to heaven. He received messengers. This is a true and powerful form of worship. Ask yourself why we are taught about prayer in the temple if it was not intended for us to go home and practice this in our own home. Yes, I recognize some have been deceived and have received false messenger, but we have got to learn to deal with this if we want to progress.

posts-on-evil-spiritsQ: You’ve shared experiences in which you’ve come into contact with malevolent spirits and the distress they can cause. Were these experiences connected to prayer? What is your view on possessions recorded in the New Testament versus certain mental disorders in our day as possible possessions?

I think my answer to the NDE question above would have probably been a better fit here. The spirits were not invited, but conditions were brought about that caused them to make themselves known. It is not a pleasant thing to come into the presence of spirits who intend to do you harm. The prayers involved were after the fact, as in, “O Lord, save me from these evil creatures who desire to take away my light and life. O Lord, remove the fear from my heart and give me faith like unto Moses to command them in the name of the Son of God to leave my presence forever.”

I have written at least two dozen posts answering that very question about emotional and mental disorders being caused by evil and unclean spirits. I will refer people to my blog for answers. I will also encourage you to read Doug’s book on Conquering Spiritual Evil. It seems the majority of people today do not want to believe such creatures exist in our day and age. They consider the idea of evil spirits to be a throwback to less enlightened times. Think again people. Think again.

tim-malone-baptism-postQ: You’ve written extensively about your reasons for resigning from the church while acknowledging that leaving the church is not the path for everyone. Are you finding that many people are choosing to stay notwithstanding their belief that something new is underway?

My decision to resign was due to my unique circumstances. I served in leadership positions in my current and previous stakes that made it hard for some people to accept what I was sharing on my blog simply as part of my gospel study. I have had former stake presidents, high councilors and missionary companions who now serve as mission presidents write to castigate me for what I have done in reading and writing about Denver and his books. What are they so afraid of? They are afraid for their children. I don’t blame them. They are trying to hold their families together.

My writings were a threat to them. I understand. That’s why so many went to my Bishop and Stake President asking them to rein me in. Because I served in a somewhat public position at the stake level, I felt it best to quietly resign instead of go the excommunication route. When the Bishop put me on informal probation for apostasy, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew I wanted to get baptized and to write about it on my blog. Why waste the time of sixteen good men? Others felt the desire to go through a disciplinary council. I had been through too many.

why-i-resigned-imageI do NOT recommend anyone leave the church to be baptized. If you want to be baptized, go ahead but don’t announce it like I did. My mission in life is different from yours. I am aware of several thousand who have been baptized. By the way, if anyone baptized reads this and has not yet submitted their name to Keith for recording, please do so before the deadline of July 1st. I wanted my name on that permanent record that will be presented in the temple when it is built. I want the Lord and the powers of heaven to see I am not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

I recognize I am a bit of a rebel, a risk-taker and a troublemaker. I am not afraid of doing what I feel the Lord has asked me to do. I know so many of my friends in the LDS Church are upset with me for what I have done and am doing. My answer is always the same. I spent just as much if not more time investigating the writings of Denver Snuffer as Brigham Young did when he investigated Mormonism. Hundreds of hours in study and prayer have led me to where I am today. No LDS Leader can say I didn’t follow the prophet – search, ponder and pray. I did.

The standard answer – I know, because I have received it in so many private emails from friends in my current and former stakes – is that I have been deceived. They shake their heads and make references to “even the very elect.” Fine. You think what you will. I understand. I tell you I am more certain of my path in life now than I have ever been at any time in the past. But my path may not be for you. Do as you feel directed by the Lord in prayer. There are so many who are doing a marvelous work in their wards and stakes by sharing truth quietly and with discretion.

One final word: please stop telling me over and over how important it is to focus on the Lord and not on Denver Snuffer. Don’t you think I know that? Everything Denver is doing is inviting us to rise up and come unto Christ – to come into His presence. I have a calling, an election and a sure promise as to that blessed event in my own life. I have years of work ahead of me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. Denver is a servant, a teacher, a witness. He cannot save you or me. We must come into the presence of Christ for that. Wake up people. I get it. Do you?

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.

A Website for the Average Mormon


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.”

Encouraging Faith

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.

The attitude of mocking


Kurt was cool.  He said his dad would let us dig holes at his house so I and other neighborhood boys started hanging out with him.  Kurt was a little older than me and so I looked up to him just like an older brother. He was a major influence in my life for the next ten years, or until at least 1974 when I went away to college.

The influence of friends

My dad didn’t like Kurt at all.  Looking back now I can’t say that I blame him but I didn’t understand it at the time.  Kurt had long hair and he looked sideways at you because he had one bad eye.  He seemed to have a general disrespect for authority figures in society.  That showed openly in the way he interacted with other people.

Kurt was a rebel from the word go.  He wore a denim jacket with “The Mighty Quinn” embroidered on the back.  I had no idea what that meant.  I think it may have had something to do with the underground drug culture that had spilled down from the Bay area to Southern California in the late sixties and early seventies.

Comparing parents

Kurt’s parents seemed very easy-going and laid-back.  Mine were very strict and were often uptight, or at least I thought my mother was.  Kurt’s mom worked at a bank and my mother taught at a local elementary school.  I didn’t interact much with Kurt’s dad but he seemed very permissive and gave Kurt a lot of things.

I don’t know why kids compare parenting styles but I guess we all do.  We usually don’t realize how much our parents do for us until we get older.  For the longest time I wanted my parents to be more like Kurt’s.  They gave him cool stuff and he would share it with us.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t stuff that my parents liked.

Introduction to vices

For example, one day a bunch of us were hanging out behind the local department store.  There was a little spot between the school and the store where they kept the trash bins.  We used to sit on the high brick wall around it from which we had a good view of all the kids in the schoolyard.  It was our cool place to sit and talk.

One day Kurt popped out a hard pack of Marlboro cigarettes and lit one up.  We all watched in amazement.  He did it so nonchalantly like he had done it many times.  OK, we were all impressed, including me.  Remember, I looked up to Kurt like an older brother.  I wanted to be just like him.  What he did, I did.  That was the rule.

The cultural influence

I can’t tell you how many times my parents banned me from hanging with Kurt.  Apparently, every time I got sassy with my folks it was after I had been with him.  I didn’t get the connection then, but it was very obvious to them.  Without doing anything, Kurt was blamed for a lot of my teenage rebelliousness growing up.

You see, Kurt was a product of the sixties.  He was just doing that which came naturally as a result of growing up in a society that promoted cultural dissent.  We were on the tail-end of the Hippie movement.  Hippies criticized the middle-class values that my parents exemplified and rejected established institutions we upheld.

The Hippie movement

Hippies embraced Eastern religions, championed sexual liberation and promoted the use of psychedelic drugs and psychedelic rock.  They opposed nuclear weapons and war, and even nuclear power in general.  They opposed political and social orthodoxy and rejected doctrinal ideology while seeking new meaning and value.

They favored peace, love, and personal freedom, perceiving the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives.  For hippies, it was “whatever” and “anything goes” as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.  My friend Kurt epitomized this culture and I absorbed it from his influence.

Sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll

Kurt introduced me to music that I had never heard before.  I was so sheltered that I didn’t even have a TV or radio in my home growing up.  Now I was listening to groups like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd and Yes.

You can argue that these bands made some great music and I won’t disagree.  But what went along with that music was the promotion of illicit sex and drugs.  I think you can also call it the great American party scene.  It was prevalent when I was in high school and it still is today, but most powerfully expressed in the rock concert.

Great and spacious building

If there is anything that helps me visualize the great and spacious building as it was described by Nephi in the vision shown him by the angel, it is the rock concert.  Of course, not all bands or songs at a rock concert fall into this category.  But from my experience, the large crowds and abundant drug use constitutes vain imaginations.

In my case, I discovered it firsthand on April 6, 1974, the date of the California Jam and the last rock concert I ever attended.  If you think about the date, you would be right in pointing out that it was the Saturday that we sustained President Kimball as the Lord’s prophet.  Yes, I should have been somewhere else that day.

A lost generation

As I wandered around the festival that day I was overwhelmed with the number of young people that I saw wasted on drugs and so totally out of it.  I had an awakening there and slowly came to realize that I no longer wanted to be a part of this great and spacious building.  My eyes were being opened and it was not a pleasant sight.

I saw so many young people burned out and losing their ability to focus because of the drugs.  So many lost their virtue and with it their desire to create things that are good or lasting.  They went on to be has-beens and dropouts.  Some made it into mainstream society as they got older but the glory days of their youth were gone.

Turning away from the world

The ideals and idealism of the hippie movement had never been realized and never would be.  It was all a big lie, perpetuated by the biggest liar of them all.  That was the feeling I had as I left this group and entered into the world of living the gospel and preparing for my mission, temple marriage and a life of service in the church.

My repentance was not easy.  I had only been away from the church for less than a year but it felt like forever.  I had to work for years to overcome the effects of that world.  I still bear some of those scars today.  Some of the music from those days brings back painful memories that I don’t want to relive.  I had been badly burned.

Deception of the adversary

In the great and spacious building are found many people who are in the attitude of mocking those who have partaken of the fruit.  I’m sure you have seen this attitude firsthand.  I know I have.  When I left that building and found my way back to the iron rod, the attitude of mocking became more visible and much easier to discern.

While some are very direct in their mocking, labeling believers in God and Christ as fools or worse, it has been my experience that most are just going along with the crowd.  The entire hippie cultural movement of the late sixties and early seventies was nothing more than another attempt by the adversary to deceive God’s children.

Summary and conclusion

I know this isn’t a particularly uplifting or inspiring essay but I’ve wanted to write it for a long time.  I was greatly influenced by the American pop cultural of the late sixties and especially the early seventies, when I was in high school.  The hippie movement simply did not deliver the promised enlightenment that so many sought.

Unfortunately, the influence of those days has been integrated into our culture and society.  It is hard to be in the world and yet not of it when so much of our world has been corrupted by the false values of the hippie movement.  The attitude of mocking followers of God is just one of the more blatant results of that movement.

New home for Latter-day Commentary


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.

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