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  1. Naming Rights to the Book of Mormon

    November 27, 2018 by Ryan

    The following is a private letter to Hank Smith.

    Dear Hank from Utah,

    I recently listened to your talk on CD titled “Scripture Power.” At the end, the gravelly-voiced guy from Covenant Communications said that the author would like to hear from his listeners. So if you don’t like what I have to say, remember that it’s his fault!

    At the end of your talk, you presented a theory that Mormon named The Book of Mormon after the place called Mormon.

    Recognizing that I am not an authority on this topic, and knowing that the correct answer to this particular question ultimately does not matter to our eternal salvation, I respectfully disagree with your philosophy and wish to present my own counter-claim.

    First, let me recap what I understand your position to be. You quoted the following verse in support of your opinion.

    And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

    The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:30

    Your conclusion was that the prophet Mormon named “The Book of Mormon” after this place which he had a great reverence for.

    It is worthwhile to wonder why Mormon made such a big deal over, and wrote such a clumsily worded musing about the place of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 5:12, he let readers know that he was named after the place. It would be easy to conclude that being named after a place would plant a tender love for the scene in the Prophet Mormon’s sentimental heart.

    With that, I could almost go along with your theory about the naming of The Book of Mormon. Except that Mormon wrote something else that convinces me otherwise.

    I look to a passage in the Book of Helaman, which was also a moment when Mormon interrupted his narrative with commentary, to show that (I believe) Mormon intended for the overall book to be known as “The Book of Nephi.”

    And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi. Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written.

    The Book of Mormon, Helaman 2:13-14

    In this verse, Mormon clearly makes a distinction between discussing a small section he was abridging (“the end of the book of Helaman”) and the total tome (“the end of the book of Nephi”). If I am reading this right, if Mormon had gotten his way with naming rights we would today be trying to undo from our vocabulary the “Nephi Tabernacle Choir” and looking for a replacement URL for the website “nephi.org”

    Perhaps supporting this, when Ammaron gave Mormon charge of the plates, he called the sacred engravings “the plates of Nephi” (Mormon 1:4).

    Therefore, I hold my opinion that the book was supposed to have been named “The Book of Nephi,” but probably Moroni called the book after his father’s name instead.

    Of course, it is entirely possible that we are both wrong. Mormon or Moroni may have wanted the publication named after Mormon’s father and Moroni’s Grandfather, Mormon (Mormon 1:5). He is only mentioned briefly, but he must have been an exceedingly strong and mighty man to have carried his eleven-year-old son all the way to Zarahemla! I get exhausted carrying my six-year-old up the stairs at my house. (See Mormon 1:6 and smile)

    At any rate, again, the name of the book is not important in the overall scheme of things (though it is fun to contemplate now and again). The message of the book is what counts. Thank you for your work to impart that message to the world.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Ryan from Utah


  2. Only One Plan

    November 15, 2018 by Ryan

    The sister said something from the pulpit on Sunday that has really bothered me. It was not unique. I’ve heard it many times before. I’m certain I will hear it many times again. 

    In describing the “war in heaven” before this earth was formed, she implied that we all met together in a grand meeting and we heard two plans presented – Satan’s plan and Jesus’ plan. 

    Well, I respectfully disagree. There were not two “plans.” There has only ever been one plan, the plan of the Almighty Father in Heaven. There was never a second option. As He counseled from the beginning, He would send His “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:1). Jesus Christ was the Guy. There was never a second thought or runner-up choice. 

    Jesus understood this very well, and accepted the status with humility. He said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” 

    Then Lucifer interrupted.  

    Satan jumped up and with dramatic and boisterous effort attempted a coup to derail our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and authority. “Behold,” the insubordinate commanded, “here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). 

    I say call it what it was – an open rebellion against God, right there in His immediate presence. 

    Yet we, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have this revealed knowledge, often try to retell this scene more politely: We talk about the events as if they were a political debate. Following the debate, we stuck posters in our lawn clouds, talked about it with our neighbors, posted about it on our social media feeds, and showed up the polling stations on election day and filled in our ballots for our preferred candidate. 

    No, this wasn’t an option up for debate. This was a chaotic hostile takeover attempt happening right under the Father’s celestial roof. 

    Let’s be real here. Lucifer didn’t have a “plan” of any sort. What he had a narcissistic complex. He wanted himself on top, with that annoying “Beloved Son” and His Daddy out of the picture. Satan promised things he couldn’t possibly deliver, and wanted the power and glory and praise and recognition heaped upon himself – all for the small price of giving up our ability to choose for ourselves. 

    (Well, on second thought, I suppose I can see similarities to how many modern politicians behave.) 

    God Himself described to Moses what was wrong (see Moses 4:3): 

    • ‘Satan rebelled against me’ 
    • ‘[Satan] sought to destroy the agency of man’
    • ‘[Satan wanted] that I should give unto him mine own power’ 

    Satan was persistent enough that the Father had to completely banish Lucifer from His presence. He did so by asking Jesus Christ to cast him out. “By the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3). It was an act which I’m certain did not cause any endearing loving feelings toward Jesus to stay in Satan’s heart. 

    Isaiah gave us a glimpse of this scene in his vision: 

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    Isaiah 14:12-14

    To all this, Abraham added another critical detail. “And,” added Abraham, “at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:28). 

    What was the reaction in the heavens to this event? Did they cheer or sneer at the departure of their political foes? Did we yell and taunt after Satan, “Don’t let the pearly gates hit you…?” No, our Heavenly Father and His Son did not do this out of vindictive or vengeful or jealous or prideful hearts. Joseph Smith described that “the heavens wept over him” and the many who were cast out with him (Doctrine and Covenants 76:26). 

    The heavens wept over Satan’s departure!

    Satan sealed his fate. It had already been counseled and made known in the heavens – I don’t believe only at one single meeting, but many times – that “They who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate;” while “They who keep their first estate shall be added upon” (Abraham 3:26). 

    Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet and Seer, described his and Sidney Rigdon’s joint vision of the event, which included a glimpse of the continuation of Satan’s rebellion to this day. They wrote: 

    And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! …For we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about. And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame.

    Doctrine and Covenants 76:26-30 

    So please, don’t try to make it sound nice and pleasant. It was a rebellion, a war, a fight for our souls. It still continues today, as Satan calls good evil and evil good (see Isaiah 5:20) while trying to confuse and entice us to act out and rebel against our Father in Heaven’s plan. What Lucifer doesn’t tell us is that, as Isaiah saw, if we join his side, his “side” is actually the side of the pit of Hell. One day, when we see Satan for ourselves, we shall narrowly look upon him, and consider him, and say, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?!” (See Isaiah 14:15-16) 

    Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? Now is the time to show! 


  3. Happy Customer Service Week

    October 4, 2018 by Ryan

    The sign in the lobby read “Happy Customer Service Week.”

    I was left to ponder: Should the word “Happy” describe the attitude of the “Customer,” the type of “Service” to render, or the overall spirit of the “Week?”


  4. A Star Spangled Blog Post

    July 4, 2018 by Ryan

    I just watched another video on YouTube where another singer passionately belted out another rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

    Imagine the morning of September 14, 1814. The War of 1812 had recently ramped up, and after Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in April 1814, the British forces turned their full attention to battle against the young American colonies.

    From a ship anchored in Baltimore’s harbor, Francis Scott Key had been captured in an earlier battle. He watched helplessly as Fort McHenry withstood 25 hours of British bombardment. Would this key battle in the second war of American independence be victorious? Or would this battle be a major win for Great Britain?

    On the back side of a letter, he penned the first verse of his poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” He continued to work on the poem until it was completed with four verses.

    Today, we often sing the first verse.

    Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
    O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
    Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    Do you notice the last line ends in a question mark? Mr. Key could see the bombs all night. There were no street lights. CNN, Fox News, nor the BBC were available on his smart phone to update him with information. He could only wait anxiously through the night to learn if the beloved American Flag – and the nation he loved – would rise in the morning, or be replaced by a white flag of surrender?

    If you stop singing with the song after that verse, you don’t find out the answer. If you end the song with that verse, there is no point in singing the song at all! Yet over and over, I hear singers end with great emphasis and crescendo asking that question, when instead it should be lowering to a feeling of desperation, anxiety, hope, courage, fear, and faith.

    So here I repost the rest of the lyrics. Imagine the silence of the morning. The first rays of the sun appearing – the gleam of the mornings first beam. This is what Francis Scott Key saw in answer to his question. Notice that this verse ends in an exclamation point! This is where the crescendo properly belongs!

    On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
    Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
    What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
    In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
    ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    The next verse taunts the enemy a bit as it rejoices in the war’s victory. (If a singer were to choose to cut a verse from a performance, this would be my choice.)

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
    A home and a country should leave us no more!
    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    The final verse is a humble prayer, attributing to God thanks for rescuing the land from the hands of the enemy.

    Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
    Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    It was an amazing poem. I love the raw emotion captured within the composition and rhyme. I wish that our attention span were longer, and that singers could sing it all.


  5. Disneyland Rant – Ticket Prices are Only Part of the Solution

    February 14, 2018 by Ryan

    In the least surprising news of the week, Disney raised ticket prices for their US parks.

    Yawn.

    Let me get a few things out of the way…

    People who enjoy going to the parks do not want to pay more.

    Yes, it is expensive.

    Yes, in 1955 Walt originally charged $1 for admission (although if you wanted to actually ride anything you needed to buy a ride ticket separately).

    Yes, today’s prices way outpace inflation when compared to that.

    This news happens every year – sometimes twice a year. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now. You could set your Futurosity Shop watch by it.

    Disney offers the same explanation each year also: they do this to help control the crowds.

    I can go along with that to a point. They will eliminate some people from visiting. Those folks can go visit Knotts Berry Farm instead.

    But if Disney were serious about crowding at the parks, here is what they really need to do: Eliminate the option for Southern California residents to pay for their pass in monthly installments.

    Disney won’t do that, for the same reason that the government takes taxes out of your paycheck. People are lousy savers. If they see a little bit of money come out of their paycheck each time, they don’t notice the large total at the end of the year.

    Another thing Disney really needs to do is eliminate the Fast Pass system.

    Fast Pass allows you to obtain a return time for major rides and attractions. Instead of standing in line, you can be somewhere else doing something else. You come back in your window of time, and walk through the shorter line on the side.

    This creates several problems.

    If you are not in the line, you are somewhere else in the park, taking up space.

    When you return to the attraction, they slow down or stop the standby line to let the fast pass line go ahead.

    If everyone just waited in one line, it would move continuously. The lines would eat people from the walkways, reducing crowding. It would be a win-win!

    But now that Disney makes money selling “Max Pass”es (a paid Fast Pass system done within the Disneyland app), I’m afraid that they are never going to go back!

     


  6. The Maine Problem

    February 7, 2018 by Ryan

    Poor Tom Golisano. I read his story in the national news a few days ago.

    Tom purchased a vacation home in Maine, and now he claims that he cannot enjoy it because his Canadian neighbors are making life miserable for himself and his family.

    When he is not there, they hang out on his lawn. They scatter when he arrives on the scene to chase them away, but by then the damage is done and the yard is a complete mess – it is in no condition to play Frisbee on or have a picnic with the grandchildren.

    Tom has asked his local government officials to get involved. He would like his neighbors deported. Or at least evicted.

    What do his neighbors have to say about it when asked for comment?

    “Honk! Honk! Honk!” said one.

    “Honk! HONK!” replied another.

    Then they turned their backs and flew away.

    You see, Tom’s neighbors are geese. Canadian Geese.

    They like Tom’s property too. Their ancestors have been flying by and nesting in the area for a long time. They have no intentions of leaving.

    They are loud and messy. They relieve themselves on his lawn.

    What is a billionaire to do when he simply can’t enjoy his vacation home in Maine?

    Tom has decided not to pay his property tax bill anymore, until the city officials can control the geese.

    Good luck with that, Tom! You try not paying your taxes, and see what kind of actions the officials take.

    I’m just not feeling sorry for you.

    Here you went and bought a nice home in a place where geese live, and now you are upset because geese live there.

    Somehow that is the government’s fault?

    This fight is for the birds!

    Honk for Your Rights!

    You know why those geese fly in a “V” formation? “V” stands for “Victory,” Tom! I’m certain they do it just to spite you.


  7. Ye Simple Souls Who Stray – Wine, Oil, Refreshment

    February 3, 2018 by Ryan

    The headline intrigued me:

    Rising Utah liquor sales fueled by more non-Mormons, tourism

    How naïve I have been! To think that all this time, I believed that the Mormons were the ones buying up the booze!

    I must continue reading!

    In Mormon dominated Utah where alcohol is frowned upon, liquor sales keep climbing each year.

    I paused to check the byline! Right out of the gate, the writer has skillfully blended adverbs and a subordinate clause to the point  that I am unable to discern the intended meaning. Is alcohol frowned upon by Utah? Or by the Mormons?

    With my head still spinning by this challenging information, I continued reading.

    State residents bought nearly $428 million in alcohol last year to set another record, continuing a two-decade trend likely fueled a steady influx of new out-of-state residents and a thriving tourism sector.

    I pondered and reread the following…

    “…A steady influx of new out-of-state residents….”

    Are the residents relocating from out-of-state? Are they buying up liquor in Utah, only to return to their out-of-state residences? Or are they purchasing property in Utah so they can be considered a resident, but continuing to live elsewhere so they can still be considered out-of-state?

    My head was spinning.

    I checked the byline again. Was this author perhaps one of the high school students recently in the news for having his article removed from the school paper? Perhaps he had found a new rag to write for?

    Then, at once, all of these thoughts were superseded by a different quandary: How do they know that the potable purchaser’s piety is of the “Mormon” persuasion?

    I will admit to ignorance here. I have never been a patron of the Utah State Liquor Stores. As the article states, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instructs its members to avoid drinking alcohol. As a faithful member, I do not know the manner of becoming a vendee of this establishment.

    I assume they ask to see one’s identification at the check-out line. I could guess that, from a government-issued ID, they could count the number of out-of-state verses in-state driver’s licenses to determine that statistic.

    But what about religious preference? Do they ask for this information too?

    I double-checked my Utah State Driver’s License. The closest thing I could find to a religious declaration was the spot for organ-donation.

    So how are the shopkeepers determining the religious statistic? Are Latter-day Saints presenting their church-issued “Temple Recommend” as a testimony that they have obtained to the age of accountability?

    Or, thinking more conspiratorially, is the state drivers license bureau inter-connected with the church’s membership record database? I’m sure that the National Security Agency must know!

    Believing I was on the trail of a much bigger, serious discovery, I reviewed the rest of the article. It presented a mundane recitation of how the liquor agency spends its money, and what the most popular beverages are. Unfortunately, it did not answer my question or explain how they can be confident in their consumer’s convictions.

    A scientific investigation should be launched immediately! Volunteers of all persuasions and residences are needed to make undercover purchases from the state.

    Come to think of it, the results of this investigation could give a whole new meaning to the concept of being baptized-by-the-spirit.

     

    Article Sited: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/state-and-regional/correction-utah-alcohol-sales-story/article_7b8b1f7d-ed7f-50f9-9763-3480d87ae380.html


  8. Continue Learning

    September 1, 2017 by Ryan

    I do not care what you want to be as long as it is honorable. A car mechanic, a brick layer, a plumber, an electrician, a doctor, a lawyer, a merchant, but not a thief. But whatever you are, take the opportunity to train for it and make the best of that opportunity. Society will reward you according to your worth as it perceives that worth. Now is the great day of preparation for each of you. If it means sacrifice, then sacrifice. That sacrifice will become the best investment you have ever made, for you will reap returns from it all the days of your lives.

    Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 171–72.

    Picture of Gordon B. Hinckley

    Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008)


  9. Five Dollar Date

    January 14, 2017 by Ryan

    What exactly is the big deal?

    In Adult Roles and Financial Literacy class at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, the teacher handed out an assignment. The boys received a blue paper, while the girls received a pink paper.

    Maybe the color of the paper offended people?

    The instructions began, “Your assignment is to go on a date! But, the catch is you can only spend $5.00, this does not include gas.” Perhaps the point of offensive was taken here, as a run-on sentence beginning with “But!” should make every English student cringe!

    “Below is a list of suggestions from the girls.” From what group of girls? Where they polled from a previous class? As I read the suggestions, it would seem that they were taken from a survey of other students, though I’d like clarity on this source.

    The instructions encourage that the assignment may completed as a group date, pooling money for the activity.

    I’ve taken up the blue subtitled “Boys Paper” (which I feel link should contain an apostrophe) to analyze:


    • Make plans for the date and let the girl know what they are doing
    • Have creative ideas for dates.
    • Use good manners:
      • table manners
      • chew with mouth closed
      • open doors for her
      • introduce her to your friends
      • no gross noises
    • Don’t gripe about the money you’re spending or don’t have.
    • Don’t spend too much time talking about things she isn’t interested in or about yourself.
    • Don’t exaggerate to your friends about what happened on the date.
    • Dress for the occasion, like you care about her:
      • appropriate clothes
      • clean
      • a little nice cologne
      • nice breath
    • Be prepared for the date (car gassed and ready to go)
    • Be on time (or call if you can’t be on time)
    • Give compliments when they are sincere.
    • Don’t feel entitled to a kiss (or more).
    • At a restaurant, say what you’re going to order so she will have a guide in ordering.
    • Don’t comment or be concerned with how much she is or isn’t eating.
    • Be honest.
    • Don’t use vulgar language or swear.
    • It’s okay to show your feelings.
    • Look out for her well being on a date, be considerate.
    • Don’t talk about, flirt with, text or check out other girls when on a date.
    • Have a sense of humor, have a good time.
    • Keep up your end of the conversation, listen and respond.
    • Girls like flowers and little gifts.
    • Be respectful to her parents.
    • Have her home on time.
    • Don’t drive recklessly.
    • Show respect to her.

    The bottom of the page gives three blank lines where the student was to summarize the “date activities,” and concluded with a signature line for the “Date’s Signature.”

    Parents are upset with this?

    The overwhelming complaint I see online is that the suggestions are “from the 1960s,” “sexist,” or “inappropriate.”

    What is the name of that class again? Adult Roles. Then this, in context with a lesson about social norms, is a fantastic assignment. Go out into the world, and practice interaction with another human being in a social setting. Show interest in her; show courtesy towards her, and show attentiveness toward her needs.

    The word that comes to mind is “Chivalry.”

    It is an assignment that might last for a couple of hours. They are skills that will serve the individual well in all aspects of life.

    Or would they rather that their boys be encouraged to take a girl out, stare at his phone, swear, thoughtlessly speak about people or topics, and make the girl uncomfortable?

    The page could have been rewritten for grammatical and clarity issues. Other than that, I have no problem with the premise of the assignment. I would encourage this assignment!


  10. My Observations While Voting

    November 10, 2016 by Ryan

    While waiting in line to vote yesterday, I made some observations.

    I had plenty of time to observe.

    You see, the process took a full hour. I measured it from the time I walked into the school to the time I exited the school.

    My first observation… There were plenty of machines.

    In fact, from my vantage point at the back of the line, this confused me. I observed that almost always, at least half of the machines were not being used. There was even one moment when all machines were empty. Not a single voter touching a single screen. Yet the line was not moving.

    As I rounded the last switch-back of the line, I finally saw the sign telling me what the rules were. It told me what to bring to identify myself. It instructed me that I could not electioneer within 150 feet of the premises. I had to wonder why such a sign was not posted prominently at the front of the queue, instead of at the end? It wasn’t a problem for me, but I wondered how some would feel if they waited their turn for 50 minutes, only to find this poster and learn that they were not prepared with the right identification?

    The excitement built as I could see the judges table ahead. I finally took my turn at the table. It was then that I confirmed the real bottle neck to the operation.

    One judge verified my driver’s license very quickly.

    One judge waited anxiously, ready to hand me my electronic voting card.

    The judge in the middle fumbled with a giant book of voter registration. He was an older man with a shaky hand. He had trouble reading the print, and even some difficulty turning individual pages. Yet every voter needed to pass through this judge, assigned to handle the book.

    It was clear why many machines were always empty.

    I do not profess to know all of the rules of election judging, but it instantly occurred to me that if they could split this book in half – one containing names A-M and the other containing names N-Z – and if the other two judges could have handled the books, the entire operation would have been much more efficient.

    Yet there was nothing I – or any of us – could do but suffer through the process until our turn arrived.

    My final observation was that those with handicaps – older persons with difficulty walking, standing, or changing from sitting to standing positions – could really have used some kind of handicap pass to hold their place in line. Hand the person at the back of the line a card. Allow the disabled voter to come to the front and wait comfortably. When their position in line reaches the front (as indicated by the card’s arrival), call them up and allow them to vote. But do not make the elderly suffer through the hour wait, slowly shuffling through switchbacks.

    These were my observations while voting. I hope that maybe someone in charge will see them and be better prepared for the next time.