Monthly Archives: February 2008

U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

It seems that the buzz in the Bloggernacle is about the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. I don’t really anything to add to the discussion which has already taken place, but here are a few links:

“We don’t have to find them. They are already there”

There is an “In Memoriam: President Gordon B. Hinckley 1910–2008” booklet that we will be getting with the Ensign that has been put up on the Church web site. If you visit the Funeral Services for President Gordon B. Hinckley page, you can download the PDF.

in_memoriam_pres_hinckley_supplement.jpg

Out of all of the wonderful things that were said at the funeral, the thing that really stuck out to me was from Boyd K. Packer. At about the 1 hour mark of the funeral (the last paragraph on page 25 of the In Memoriam booklet), he was talking about how President Hinckley did not ask for the callings that came his way, but he did not shy away from them either.

In one of the earliest revelations, the Lord said, “That every man might speak in the name of God the Lord,even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20) that “the weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones” (D&C 1:19).

With the Church growing very rapidly worldwide, we often go to distant places to organize or reorganize a unit of the Church. We are sometimes asked, “Where on earth will you find the new leaders?” We do not have to find them. They are already there, just as Gordon B. Hinckley was there. The Lord provides them. They are serving faithfully and paying for the privilege in tithes and offerings.

In a separate ordinance following baptism, members of the Church have conferred upon them the Holy Ghost, which the scriptures explain will “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26). The Holy Ghost is the Inspirer. Inspiration is always there, if you learn to live with it and for it.

I love the part where he said, “We do not have to find them. They are already there.” What a great way to describe the way the Church is run! I am currently the bishop of my ward. I have no special training to be a bishop, but I love the Lord and the church and I want to help in any way I can. At various times members of my family have been Sunday School teachers, counselor in a bishopric, primary teacher, counselor in a stake presidency, primary music leader, high councilor, Relief Society president, bishop, Sunday program/bulletin coordinator, counselor in a Relief Society presidency, and more. We serve where we are asked to serve, and we pray that the Spirit truly will be “the Inspirer” and help us follow God’s will.

JesusChrist.LDS.org

jesuschrist_lds_org_screenshot.jpg

Yesterday I posted about a bunch of official Church web sites. I then read a blog posting from ldsWebguy about a new section of the Church web site at JesusChrist.LDS.org:

Using the words of latter-day prophets and apostles as its foundation, the site focuses solely on the life, teachings, and mission of the Savior and how we can come unto Him and invite others to do the same. In addition to the teachings of Church leaders, the site provides links to the scriptures, additional articles, and multimedia presentations.

It looks very nice. Check it out!

Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church is doing a remarkable job at getting things online. The online missionary recommendation forms are a great example of this. Young men and women are already computer savvy and can go online and fill out the form. Then the Bishop and Stake President enter some other information and it’s done. Within a few days a call letter is sent. I waited 8 weeks for my mission call. The last couple of missionaries that have gone out from our ward have waited about 10-12 days. Amazing! The other sites the Church have also provide great information, both for members and leaders, and even non-members.

  • http://lds.org/ – official Church web site… of course you know about this
  • http://scriptures.lds.org/ – the standard works available online
  • http://lds.org/mss/ – the online missionary application form
  • http://tech.lds.org/ – the Church has an official “tech” web site. There are postings from various Church employees
  • http://tech.lds.org/forum/ – the best part of the tech web site is the forum. You can post questions or answer other people’s questions about MLS, new Family Search, and more. From the forums I’ve learned about upcoming changes to MLS, learned about how to do certain things, and learned about upcoming test programs the Church is running (new mission tools online, new Family Search, Internet access in clerk’s office, etc)
  • http://col.ldschurch.org/ – the online directory of leaders. The Church used to publish a book with all of the worldwide leaders, and then they started to send around a CD. They still send the CD, but the online version is always up-to-date (Bishops de Yong, Ayers, and Olsen already show up). You can search by name or part of a name for either the unit or the person.
  • http://new.familysearch.org/ – official web site of the new Family Search. The roll-out of this has been delayed, but it looks like it will go along way in stopping duplication in our temple work. Since it is online, the information is always current, and members will be able to connect more easily.
  • http://priesthood.familysearch.org – this web site is for Family History Consultants and Priesthood leaders. I registered here and that is what got me access a couple of months ago to the new Family Search beta. I’m not sure if that is still true today.
  • http://ldscatalog.com/ – this is the distribution centre web site. Each unit can login as a unit and see things that the normal member wouldn’t see. If you don’t have a username and password for your unit you can call them and they will mail one to you
  • http://ldsces.org/ – the Church Education System web site. From here you can download various manuals and bookmarks
  • http://mormon.org/ – the proselyting web site of the Church
  • http://josephsmith.net/ – a Church web site all about Joseph Smith
  • http://gordonbhinckley.org/ – a Church web site all about President Hinckley
  • http://thomassmonson.org/ – a Church web site all about President Monson
  • http://scriptures.byu.edu/ – this isn’t technically a Church site, but it’s BYU so it counts. On this site you can look up a scripture, and then find all of the General Conference talks that have used that scripture. It is a great resource for preparing talks and finding a good quote.

A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant

Time magazine has a great article on their web site that talks about “Tudor Parfitt, a real life scholar-adventurer” who think he knows where the Ark of the Covenant is, or at least “the last thing on earth in direct descent from the Ark of Moses” (you’ll have to read the article to understand what that means).

There are two questions at the end that are very thought provoking:

What would such a wonder look like in our postmodern world? What might it do?

The Ark had great power. Was it in the Ark? If so, then it should still have the power wherever it is. Was it only because at the time God was with the people? If so, then the Ark probably wouldn’t have any power now. It then makes you think about some of the other physical things that have been used in the past to teach people or receive revelation.

What would it be like to see 10 Commandment tablets? The “golden” plates? The Urim and Thummim?

What about things that aren’t as well-known… a nail that had been used when crucifying Jesus? The “apple” core that Adam and Eve had bitten? Something from Noah’s Ark?

I guess however cool it may be to see something like that, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. We live by faith, and seeing any of those things wouldn’t make your faith any more sure that the faith that comes by feeling the Spirit.

And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
Alma 32:21

The Bible According To Google Earth

Apparently the people at The Glue Society created some art for a show last year. The series was called God’s Eye View and has 4 pictures that are essentially images from Google Maps but that are of biblical events.

For example, here is the crucifixion:

God’s Eye View - Crucifixion

There are also pictures of the flood, parting the Red Sea, and the Garden of Eden.

The navigation at The Glue Society web site is kind of odd, but you can see the pictures on the Creative Review blog.

‘Knowledge of religion shallow, commitment deep’ in U.S.

The National Post had an interesting article last Saturday called ‘Knowledge of religion shallow, commitment deep’ in U.S. I guess it isn’t too surprising that in today’s world people are less-focused on organized religion, but still trying to be “committed”. However, I still found some of his findings surprising:

  • Only half of American adults can identify one of the four Gospels
  • Most cannot name the first book of the Bible
  • Only one-third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount
  • A significant number believe Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife

Those are some pretty basic stories/facts/events that I would have expected people to know just because of pop culture references.

2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity

On February 9 the Church held its annual Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting. Normally these are for a specific subset of members, usually ward and stake leaders. This time it was for all adults in the Church (18 and up). The topic was Building a Righteous Posterity.

I was working that day, but left for a couple of hours so I could watch the broadcast. There were essentially 4 sections to the broadcast:

  • Introduction and remarks by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
  • Information on “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” by President Boyd K. Packer
  • Roundtable discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Julie B. Beck, Susan W. Tanner and Cheryl C. Lant
  • Closing remarks by President Thomas S. Monson

My feelings about the broadcast are mixed. I wasn’t impressed with the format. It seems that the leaders speak with much more power at General Conference. I like the idea of roundtable discussions, but half the time the participants’ heads were down reading their notes (things didn’t seem very spontaneous). By the time President Monson spoke, we were already at the 2-hour mark so my attention was certainly drifting.

With all that being said, I also acknowledge that the resulting material is excellent. I made quite a few notes, and I’m sure there will be many people using material from the broadcast in talks. Perhaps my favourite line was by Cheryl C. Lant, the Primary General president. During a section of the roundtable about unity in marriage, the dialog went as follows:

Sister Lant
You know, there’s so much talk in today’s world about “are my needs being met?” You hear that so much.

Elder Holland
Yes, needs is a very big word.

Sister Lant
Yes, “my needs aren’t being met.” And I think if we could just get to the point where we are thinking about someone else’s needs, our needs are met. That’s the best way to get our needs met, if we are looking to take care of somebody else.

I agree whole-heartedly! If we would stop worrying about ourselves and start thinking about others, everything would be better; our jobs, our marriages, our callings.

For more information on the broadcast, try the following links:

Anglican Bishop of Durham Advocates An Understanding Of The Afterlife That is Very Mormon

The blog Sixteen Small Stones has a link to a Time magazine article about the Anglican Bishop of Durham.

In a fascinating interview with Time Magazine , the Anglican Bishop of Durham, N.T. “Tom” Wright, who is the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England, says that most Christians misunderstand the Biblical teaching of the the afterlife. The view he advocates bears a striking similarity to the Mormon teachings of Joseph Smith.

Sixteen Small Stones quotes several parts of the article directly that seem rather “mormonish”. The one that stood out to me the most was:

There is Luke 23, where Jesus says to the good thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But in Luke, we know first of all that Christ himself will not be resurrected for three days, so “paradise” cannot be a resurrection. It has to be an intermediate state.

It seems to obvious to Mormons that what he is saying is true, but it’s quite radical for some established in another Church to say those things.

Mormons Confront Negative Ideas About Their Faith

On Tuesday, Morning Edition from NPR had a 5-minute segment on the Church. The campaign of Mitt Romney brought a lot of attention to the Church. Unfortunately, we’ve found out that there are still a lot of misconceptions out there, as well as a lot of people who just don’t want to hear the truth of what we believe.

Howard Berkes, the chief Rural Affairs correspondent (who is based in Salt Lake City), talks with Elder M. Russell Ballard, Richard Bushman, Jan Shipps, and others in talking about what we learned and what we need to do.