The Mormonizing Of America
By Alan on Mar 20 in Blog tagged Achieving, actors, America, American culture, apostles, athletes, authors, B, Brigham Young, children, church, David O. McKay, Donny & Marie Osmond, endowment, faith, Family, fourteen million, George Romney, Gladys Knight, Glenn Beck, government, Jimmer Fredette, Latter-day Saints, LDS, leadership, learning, marriage, Marriott, missionaries, Mitt Romney, Momonizing, Mormon, Mormonism, musicians, national stage, newscasters, NFL, Olympics, organizing, Osmonds, politicians, Presidential candidate, priesthood, progressing, prophet, religious value, religious vision, Revelator, sacrament, seer, sports, Stephen Mansfield, Steven Covey, successful, temple, Temples, The Book of Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Osmonds, Thomas S. Monson, upward motion, well educated, well spoken patriotic, willing to serve, worldwide | 1 Comment on The Mormonizing Of America
The Mormonizing Of America
New York Times best selling author Stephen Mansfield
There are nearly seven million Mormons in America . This is the number the Mormons themselves use. It’s not huge. Seven million is barely 2 percent of the country’s population. It is the number of people who subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. London boasts seven million people. So does San Francisco . It’s a million more people than live in the state of Washington ; a million less than in the state of Virginia . It’s so few, it’s the same number as were watching the January 24, 2012, Republican debate.
In fact, worldwide, there are only about fourteen million Mormons. That’s fourteen million among a global population just reaching seven billion. Fourteen million is the population of Cairo or Mali or Guatemala . It’s approximately the number of people who tune in for the latest hit show on network television every week. Fourteen million Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in 2011. That’s how few fourteen million is.
Yet in the first decade or so of the new millennium, some members of the American media discovered the Mormons and began covering them as though the Latter-day Saints had just landed from Mars. It was as though Utah was about to invade the rest of the country. It was all because of politics and pop culture, of course. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman were in pursuit of the White House. Glenn Beck was among the nation’s most controversial news commentators. Stephenie Meyer had written the astonishingly popular Twilight series about vampires. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had created the edgy South Park cartoon series–which included a much- discussed episode about Mormons–and then went on to create the blatantly blasphemous and Saint-bashing Broadway play The Book of Mormon. It has become one of the most successful productions in American theater history.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen Mormons sat in the US Congress, among them Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. Mormons led JetBlue, American Express, Marriott, Novell, Deloitte and Touche, Diebold, and Eastman Kodak. Management guru Stephen Covey made millions telling them how to lead even better. There were Mormons commanding battalions of US troops and Mormons running major US universities. There were so many famous Mormons, in fact, that huge websites were launched just to keep up with it all. Notables ranged from movie stars like Katherine Heigl to professional athletes to country music stars like Gary Allan to reality television contestants and even to serial killers like Glenn Helzer, whose attorney argued that the Saints made him the monster he was. The media graciously reminded the public that Mormon criminals were nothing new, though: Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame was also a Mormon, they reported.
Most media coverage treated this “Mormon Moment” as though it was just that: the surprising and unrelated appearance of dozens of Mormons on the national stage–for a moment. More than a few commentators predicted it would all pass quickly.
What most commentators did not understand was that their “Mormon Moment” was more than a moment, more than an accident, and more than a matter of pop culture and fame alone. The reality was–and is–that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reached critical mass. It is not simply that a startling number of Mormons have found their way onto America’s flat-screen TVs and so brought visibility to their religion. It is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints has reached sufficient numbers–and has so permeated every level of American society on the strength of its religious value–that prominent politicians, authors, athletes, actors, newscasters, and even murderers are the natural result, in some cases even the intended result. Visible, influential Mormons aren’t outliers or exceptions. They are fruit of the organic growth of their religion.
In 1950, there were just over a million Mormons in the world. Most of these were located in the Intermountain West of the United States, a region of almost lunar landscape between the Rocky Mountains to the East and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. The religion was still thought of as odd by most Americans. There had been famous Mormons like the occasional US Senator or war hero, but these were few and far between. There had even been a 1940 Hollywood movie entitled Brigham Young that told the story of the Saints’ mid-1800s trek from Illinois to the region of the Great Salt Lake. Its producers worked hard to strain out nearly every possible religious theme, a nod to the increasingly secular American public. Though it starred heavyweights like Vincent Price and Tyrone Power, the movie failed miserably, even in Utah. Especially in Utah.
Then, in 1951, a man named David O. McKay became the “First President” of the Latter-day Saints and inaugurated a new era. He was the Colonel Harlan Sanders of Mormonism. He often wore white suits, had an infectious laugh, and under- stood the need to appeal to the world outside the Church. It was refreshing. Most LDS presidents had either been polygamist oddballs or stodgy old men in the eyes of the American public. McKay was more savvy, more media aware. He became so popular that film legend Cecil B. DeMille asked him to consult on the now classic movie The Ten Commandments.
Empowered by his personal popularity and by his sense that an opportune moment had come, McKay began refashioning the Church’s image. He also began sharpening its focus. His famous challenge to his followers was, “Every Member a Missionary!” And the faithful got busy. It only helped that Ezra Taft Benson, a future Church president, was serving as the nation’s secretary of agriculture under President Eisehower. This brought respectability. It also helped that George Romney was the revered CEO of American Motors Corporation and that he would go on to be the governor of Michigan, a candidate for president of the United States, and finally a member of Richard Nixon’s cabinet. This hinted at increasing power. The 1950s were good for Mormons.
Then came the 1960s. Like most religions, the LDS took a beating from the counterculture movement, but by the 1970s they were again on the rise. There was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a symbol of Americana when Americana was under siege. There was Mormon Donny Osmond’s smile and Mormon Marie Osmond’s everything and the three-year run of network television’s Donny and Marie in the late 1970s that made words like family, clean, talented, patriotic, and even cute outshine some of the less-endearing labels laid upon the Saints through the years. New labels joined new symbols. A massive, otherworldly, 160,000-square-foot Temple just north of Washington, DC, was dedicated in the 1970s, a symbol of LDS power and permanence for the nation to behold. Always there was the “Every Member a Missionary!” vision beating in each Saintly heart.
By 1984, the dynamics of LDS growth were so fine-tuned that influential sociologist Rodney Stark made the mind- blowing prediction that the Latter-day Saints would have no fewer than 64 million members and perhaps as many as 267 million by 2080.3 It must have seemed possible in those days. In the following ten years, LDS membership exploded from 4.4 million to 11 million. This may be why in 1998 the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The Mormons–a misguided cult in the view of most traditional Christians, most Baptists in particular–had to be stopped.
They weren’t. Four years after the Baptists besieged Temple Square, the Winter Olympic Games came to Salt Lake City. This was in 2002 and it is hard to exaggerate what this meant to the Latter-day Saints. A gifted Mormon leader, Mitt Romney, rescued the games after a disastrous bidding scandal. A sparkling Mormon city hosted the games. Happy, handsome all-American Mormons attended each event, waving constantly to the cameras and appearing to be–in the word repeatedly used by the press at the time–“normal.”
The LDS Church capitalized on it all. It sent volunteers, missionaries, and publicists scurrying to every venue. It hosted grand events for the world press. It made sure that every visitor received a brochure offering an LDS guided tour of the city. Visitors from around the world read these words: “No other place in America has a story to tell like that of Salt Lake City–a sanctuary founded by religious refugees from within the United States’ own borders. And none can tell that story better than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Largely unchallenged, the Mormon narrative prevailed.
What followed was the decade of the new millennium we have already surveyed. Mormons seemed to be everywhere, seemed to be exceptional in nearly every arena, seemed to have moved beyond acceptance by American culture to domination of American culture. At least this was what some feared at the time.
But Mormons did not dominate the country. Far from it. Remember that they were not even 2 percent of the nation’s population as of 2012. True, they were visible and successful, well educated and well spoken, patriotic and ever willing to serve. Yet what they had achieved was not domination. It was not a conspiracy either, as some alleged. It was not anything approaching a takeover or even the hope for a takeover.
Few observers seemed to be able to explain how this new level of LDS prominence in American society came about. They reached for the usual answers trotted out to account for such occurrences: birth rates, Ronald Reagan’s deification of traditional values, the economic boom of the late twentieth century, a more liberal and broadminded society, even the dumbing down of America through television and failing schools. Each of these explanations was found wanting.
The Mormon Machine
The truth lay within Mormonism itself. What the Saints had achieved in the United States was what Mormonism, unfettered and well led, will nearly always produce. This was the real story behind the much-touted “Mormon Moment.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had risen to unexpected heights in American society because the Mormon religion creates what can benevolently be called a Mormon Machine– a system of individual empowerment, family investment, local church (ward and stake level) leadership, priesthood government, prophetic enduement, Temple sacraments, and sacrificial financial endowment of the holy Mormon cause.
Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies–a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.
These hallmark values and behaviors–the habits that distinguish Mormons in the minds of millions of Americans– grow naturally from Mormon doctrine. They are also the values and behaviors of successful people. Observers who think of the religion as a cult–in the Jim Jones sense that a single, dynamic leader controls a larger body of devotees through fear, lies, and manipulation–usually fail to see this. Mormon doctrine is inviting, the community it produces enveloping and elevating, the lifestyle it encourages empowering in nearly every sense. Success, visibility, prosperity, and influence follow. This is the engine of the Mormon ascent. It is what has attracted so many millions, and it is the mechanism of the Latter-day Saints’ impact upon American society and the world.
Mormons make achievement through organizational management a religious virtue. It leads to prosperity, visibility, and power. It should come as no surprise, then, that an American can turn on the evening news after a day of work and find one report about two Mormon presidential candidates, another story about a Mormon finalist on American Idol, an examination of the controversial views of a leading Mormon news commentator, a sports story about what a Mormon lineman does with his “Temple garments” in the NFL, and a celebration of how Mormons respond to crises like Katrina and the BP oil spill, all by a “Where Are They Now?” segment about Gladys Knight, minus the Pips, who has become–of course–a Mormon.
Mormons rise in this life because it is what their religion calls for. Achieving. Progressing. Learning. Forward, upward motion. This is the lifeblood of earthly Mormonism. Management, leadership, and organizing are the essential skills of the faith. It is no wonder that Mormons have grown so rapidly and reached such stellar heights in American culture. And there is much more to come.
President Thomas S. Monson
Prophet, Seer, and Revelator
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
THE MORMONIZING OF AMERICA by Stephen Mansfield, © 2012. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, TN. 11/06/2012
Mormon Temples Are Places Apart From The World
By Alan on Apr 04 in Blog tagged 150 Built or under construction, All are welcome, dedicate, for eternity, God's laws, Holiness to the Lord, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Kansas City, Latter-day Saints, maintain sacredness, members, Missouri, Mormon, Mormon Temples Are places apart, ordinances, place of worship, respect, reverence, sacred purposed, set aart, temple, temple-goers, temples are not open to the public, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The House of The Lord, unite families together, Washington Post | 2 Comments on Mormon Temples Are Places Apart From The World
Mormon temples are places apart from the world.
Later this week yet another new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint–this one in Kansas City, Missouri–will open its doors for public tours before being dedicated. After dedication, the building will no longer be open to the public, but only to members of the church “in good standing.”
To some, it seems like a curious thing for a place of worship not to open its doors to all comers. It may be a good time to try to explain.
Mormon temples come in all shapes and sizes. They range from the iconic six-spired granite edifice on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, to the towering white marble structure familiar to Beltway commuters in Washington, D.C., to the smaller temples in unlikely places like Nuku’alofa in Tonga, or Hong Kong.
In all, Latter-day Saint temples now number around 150 built or under construction –more than half of them finished or started within the past dozen years. All of them, no matter what the architecture or location, have one external identifying feature in common. Above or close to the front entrance, etched in capital letters, is the inscription: “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.”
Bible scholars will recognize the words. In the days of Moses the phrase “holiness to the Lord” was inscribed on a kind of headband or crown worn by the high priest, whose duties and vestments are described in detail in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus. While the office of high priest has long ceased to exist among the Jews, there is a world of meaning in the same words now inscribed on every Latter-day Saint temple.
The English word “holy” doesn’t entirely capture the intent conveyed by the ancient Hebrew. English usage of “holy” certainly associates objects or people with the sacred, as in worship. But the original Hebrew (kah-dash), Greek (hagios) and Latin (sanctum) each carry the additional sense of something separate or “set apart” for sacred purposes. Latter-day Saints understand the words “Holiness to the Lord” in exactly this way. Temples are places consecrated, dedicated and set apart for sacred purposes, and when temple-goers walk through the doors they have already set themselves apart mentally.
Set apart from what? From the distractions of the world, from the profane and materialistic, and instead–as the apostle Paul urged Jesus’ followers –in order to set their affection “on things above, not on things on the earth.”
A few years ago a leader of my church put it rather well: “Holiness is the strength of the soul. It comes by faith and through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances. God then purifies the heart by faith, and the heart becomes purged from that which is profane and unworthy. When holiness is achieved by conforming to God’s will, one knows intuitively that which is wrong and that which is right before the Lord. Holiness speaks when there is silence, encouraging that which is good or reproving that which is wrong.”
Isn’t this the same reason why we walk through the doors of any church? No, not exactly. There are many thousands of Latter-day Saint chapels, or meetinghouses, around the world, and of course just like other churches they are treated with reverence and respect. Our buildings typically include a chapel for public Sunday services, classrooms, a basketball court and a kitchen to service recreational activities through the week. For Latter-day Saints, these buildings are part house of worship, part community center and all are welcome to join us in worship and communion.
No Latter-day Saint would ever regard the temple as a community center. For a temple-going Latter-day Saint, crossing the threshold of a temple is accompanied by a wholly different feeling than walking through the doors of a chapel for Sunday worship. To begin with, we don’t go to the temple on a particular day of the week. There is no schedule for temple attendance and no expectation of frequency beyond a person’s own motivation. Temple attendance is not a matter of calendar but of a personal desire for a higher commitment to God. In a weekly Sunday service, our taking of the “communion,” or “sacrament” as we call it, is an act of reconciliation, a reminder of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and a symbolic gesture that invites the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives for the coming week. In the temple, however, “Holiness to the Lord” engenders something more – an understanding that we are not simply going to try to live our faith for another week, but that we are about to make personal promises to God to consecrate and dedicate our whole lives to him.
Ultimately we show our loyalty and devotion to God by observing what Jesus described as the second great commandment –by loving our neighbor. Men and women through the ages have sought places of spiritual sanctuary, free from the temptations of the outside world, where they can draw close to God. Monastic orders and convents are one manifestation of this. But Latter-day Saints see the temple not as a place of permanent retreat, but as a place of personal covenants, where for an hour or two they can immerse themselves in communion with God, render ceremonial service for those who have departed this life, and unite families together for eternity through sacred ordinances. Paradoxically, the resultant effect of temple worship is not withdrawal or isolation from the world, but to impel the believer to re-enter the world better prepared to serve members of one’s family, church, neighborhood and beyond.
Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley described it this way when speaking to a large gathering of men in the church in October of 1995:
“If every man in this church…were to go to the house of the Lord and renew his covenants in solemnity before God and witnesses, we would be a better people. There would be little or no infidelity among us. Divorce would almost entirely disappear. So much of heartache and heartbreak would be avoided. There would be a greater measure of peace and love and happiness in our homes. There would be fewer weeping wives and weeping children. There would be a greater measure of appreciation and of mutual respect among us. And I am confident the Lord would smile with greater favor upon us.”
With all of this in mind, a few moments’ thought should make it obvious why temples are not open to the public. In my whole life I have never heard a church member refer to a temple as “secret.” The term of choice is “sacred,” and Mormons understand the difference. It is important for Latter-day Saints to maintain that sacredness. Large “visitors welcome” signs routinely flank our chapels, but they are not to be found at temples, other than those few that have adjacent visitors’ centers. Rather than places for casual visits from the public, temples are places where we continue a spiritual journey already begun. While we do not invite the public into the temple, we do invite sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect for the sacred – values which are sadly diminishing even in our religiously pluralistic society.
Micheal Otterson is an On Faith panelist for The Washington Post
For The Family
Our Latter-day Prophet Reminds Us. . .
By Alan on Apr 23 in Blog tagged Easter, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormon, prophet, Revelator, seer, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Family, theFamily, Thomas S. Monson | Comments Off on Our Latter-day Prophet Reminds Us. . .
.“The entire Christian world will be celebrating Easter.
I believe that none of us can conceive the full import of what Christ did for us in Gethsemane, but I am grateful every day of my life for His atoning sacrifice in our behalf.
At the last moment, He could have turned back. But He did not. He passed beneath all things that He might save all things. In doing so, He gave us life beyond this mortal existence. He reclaimed us from the Fall of Adam.
To the depths of my very soul, I am grateful to Him. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. He secured our salvation.
As I close, may I share with you touching words written by Emily Harris which describe so well my feelings as Easter comes:
The linen which once held Him is empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean.
The door stands opened.
The stone is rolled away,
And I can almost hear the angels singing His praises.
Linen cannot hold Him.
Stone cannot hold Him.
The words echo through the empty limestone chamber,
“He is not here.”
The linen which once held Him is now empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean
And oh, hallelujah, it is empty.
Blessings to you, my brothers and sisters.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.
For The Family
The Lord’s Way. Remember the Poor, Needy, Sick and Afflicted.
By Alan on Apr 16 in Blog tagged compassion, education, fast offerings, humanitarian service, Latter-day Saints, Mormon, remember the poor, savior, self-reliance, sin of covetousness, temporal and spiritual, the afflicted, The Family, The Lord's Way, the needy, the sick, theFamily, work | Comments Off on The Lord’s Way. Remember the Poor, Needy, Sick and Afflicted.
The Lord’s Way – For The Family
The Savior, who set the pattern for us, is pleased with those who “remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” [D&C 52:40].
As we reflect on the life of the Savior and His Resurrection, certainly the many images of those who petitioned Him for help come to my mind. I can easily imagine the deformed legs of a man unable to walk since birth or the tears flowing down a widow’s cheek as she follows the body of her only son as it is carried to its tomb. I see the empty eyes of the hungry, the trembling hands of the sick, the pleading voice of the condemned, the disconsolate eye of the outcast. All of them are reaching toward a solitary man, a man without wealth, without home, without position.
I see this man, the Son of the living God, look on each of them with infinite compassion. With a touch of His holy hand, He brings comfort to the downcast, healing to the sick, liberation to the condemned. With a word, the dead man rises from his bier and the widow embraces her enlivened son.
“It has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints,” President Joseph F. Smith wrote, “that a religion which has not the power to save people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here, cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, to exalt them in the life to come.”
The temporal and the spiritual are linked inseparably. As we give of our time, talents, and resources to tend the needs of the sick, offer food to the hungry, and teach the dependent to stand on their own, we enrich ourselves spiritually beyond our ability to comprehend.
The Lord declared in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “It is my purpose to provide for my saints. … But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.”The Lord’s way consists of helping people help themselves. The poor are exalted because they work for the temporary assistance they receive, they are taught correct principles, and they are able to lift themselves from poverty to self-reliance. The rich are made low because they humble themselves to give generously of their means to those in need.
In the Church, the bishop has the specific charge to care for “the poor, the needy, the single parent, the aged, the disabled, the fatherless, the widowed, and others who have special needs.”
Over the years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welfare program has grown to meet the ever-increasing needs of an expanding Church. In North America today, 80 Church farms produce nutritious food for the needy. Eighty cannery facilities preserve and package this life-sustaining food. More than 100 bishops’ storehouses stand ready to assist more than 10,000 bishops and branch presidents as they carry out their sacred obligation to seek out and assist the poor and needy in their wards and branches. Fifty Deseret Industries operations offer work and training to thousands. Worldwide, 160 employment centers help more than 78,000 people find jobs each year. Sixty-five LDS Social Services offices help member couples adopt children and provide counseling to those in need.
The Church does not limit its relief efforts to its members but follows the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” 4 He instructed members “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted.”
As a disaster occurs somewhere in the world, almost immediately, the Church begins sending life-sustaining food, clothing, medicine, and blankets to help both members of the Church and those of other faiths. Once the shipments arrived at their destination, Church members came by the hundreds to unload the trucks and assemble the supplies into boxes. The items in each box would sustain a family for a week.
In addition to helping others, families and individual members would do well to review their own level of self-reliance. We may ask ourselves a few questions:
Are we wise stewards of our money? Do we spend less than we earn? Do we avoid unnecessary debt? Do we follow the counsel of the Brethren to “store sufficient food, clothing, and where possible fuel for at least one year”? 7 Do we teach our children to value and not waste what they have? Do we teach them to work? Do they understand the importance of the sacred law of tithing? Do we have sufficient education and adequate employment? Do we maintain good health by living the Word of Wisdom? Are we free from the adverse effects of harmful substances?
If, in honesty, we answer “no” to any of these questions, we may wish to improve our self-reliance plan. Prophets have provided fundamental guides for us.
First, one of today’s evils is the sin of covetousness. Inordinate desire for material possessions can become an obsession that consumes our thoughts, drains our resources, and leads to unhappiness. Some members of the Church are increasingly burdened with unnecessary debt because of this sin. President Heber J. Grant said: “If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet.”
“Industry, thrift, self-reliance continue as guiding principles of this effort,” President Thomas S. Monson, chairman of the Welfare Executive Committee of the Church, has admonished. “As a people, we should avoid unreasonable debt. …’Pay thy debt, and live.’ (2 Kgs. 4:7.) What wise counsel for us today!”
Second, from the beginning God has commanded us to work and has warned us against idleness. Sadly, many in our world today encourage idleness, especially in the form of mindless, inane entertainment that is on the Internet, on television, and in computer games.
Third, I commend to you the counsel of President Hinckley when he said: “Get all the education you can. … Cultivate skills of mind and hands. Education is the key to opportunity.” Yes, education is the catalyst that will hone and sharpen our talents, skills, and abilities and cause them to blossom.
Fourth, those who choose to follow the example of the Savior and relieve suffering could look to the amount they contribute to fast offerings. These sacred funds are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to bless the sick, the suffering, and others in need.
Contributing a generous fast offering blesses the givers richly and allows them to become partners with the Lord and the bishop in helping relieve suffering and fostering self-reliance. In our prosperous circumstances, perhaps we should evaluate our offerings and decide if we are as generous with the Lord as He is with us.
When the welfare program emerged from its humble beginnings in the midst of the Great Depression, few imagined that, 60 years later, it would have blossomed and flourished to the point where it blesses literally millions of the world’s needy.
For The Family
“Jesus Christ Hath Shown You Unto Me, And I Know Your Doing.” (That’s Us!)
By Alan on Apr 02 in Blog tagged abominations, Babylon, blood, earthquakes, fine apparel, great pollutions, Hesus Christ, hypocrites, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, money, Moroni, Pride, riches, rumors of wars, saw our day, secret combinations, secret dealings, The Book of Mormon, the great and abominable church, vaprs of smoke, wickedness, Zion | Comments Off on “Jesus Christ Hath Shown You Unto Me, And I Know Your Doing.” (That’s Us!)
The last Prophet and writer of The Book of Mormon who abridged all of the gold plates that had been writen by previous writers in America, buried this abridgement in the Hill Cumorrah, New York, and then appeared as a glorified being to Joseph Smith and showed him were these plates were buried.
Joseph eventually got these gold plates and translated them into what we call The Book of Mormon.
This prophet, Moroni, when he was yet alive wrote this note to all of us, in our day, who reads this book:
“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”
Then Moroni described latter-day Babylon as if he were a modern-day journalist:
And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
Moroni’s vision was essentially the same vision as that seen by Jesus, Paul, and John the Revelator. Moroni foresaw pervasive pride, attention to fashion, envy, strife, malice, persecution, iniquity, and polluted churches, which are actual religious institutions and the philosophies of men, all of which are worshipped and followed devoutly.
Saints will embrace in Babylon (The World)
Sadly, Moroni reported, these conditions would exist among the Saints, whose fascination with Babylon would defile the holy church of God:
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?”
Moreover, Moroni said that our embracing Babylon while professing Zion would serve to persecute, rank, alienate, and maltreat the less fortunate among us: “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?”
Frighteningly, he noted that some Saints would adopt Babylon’s strategy of sinful secret dealings to get rich. Their selfish attitude toward money would hold the vulnerable and poor in captivity:
Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?” Unless we Saints repent and flee Babylon, we will suffer her fate: “Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.
A Day of Immense Wickedness and Contentions
Moroni described latter-day Babylon as “a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness. Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.”
Beyond the preponderance of latter-day secret combinations, denials of the power of God, and myriad competing churches and man-made philosophies that are built up to get gain, Babylon boasts one continual scene of natural disasters and war: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; and there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.”
Moreover, Babylon is a place and condition of “great pollutions,” both physical and spiritual: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth.” Every conceivable sin abounds: “There shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms [every form of sexual sin], and all manner of abominations.”
Babylon is a place and condition of apathy and lack of accountability to God: “Many . . . will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.”
Babylon (The World) as a Counter-religion
As we recall, the word church, in Babylonian terms, means both a religious institution and a worshipped philosophy of man, anything that we worship other than God, whose leaders and teachers are those to whom we give our allegiance in place of God. Therefore, for example, Moroni prophesied: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.”
Beyond spawning many corrupt religious institutions and man-made philosophies, Babylon promotes the attitude of entitlement, the doctrines that having money equals personal goodness, and that money exalts its owner above those of lesser fortunes. In the process, Zion’s equality, unity, and oneness become nonexistent.
To achieve her goals, Babylon first focuses her disciples on seeking riches for self-serving purposes; then she soothes their consciences with the lie that God will favor or at least wink at the rich (because they are rich, they warrant God’s favor, they are told), and eventually He will usher them into heaven where more riches await. This is false doctrine. Hugh Nibley notes, “God recognizes only one justification for seeking wealth, and that is with the express intent of helping the poor (Jacob 2:19).”
Moroni offered no comfort to those who espouse such Babylonian attitudes: “O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches [worshipped philosophies] unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured [reinvented] the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?” Clearly, Babylon wants money so badly that she will ignore or wrest the scriptures to justify her actions.
The Fall of Babylon
Babylon is like a cancer: her presence is destructive to the system. She is an unwelcomed intruder that must be excised completely, or she will overwhelm and kill her host. Babylon can be neither converted nor saved. Total annihilation is the only answer. “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.”
Other prophets have weighed in on Babylon and its future. For example, Nephi foresaw the absolute demise of latter-day Babylon (a.k.a., the great and abominable church): “Behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof. For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish.” Unfortunately, many people who are aware of these scriptures will still choose to wait it out, then try to jump ship to Zion at the very last minute.
We should take to heart these prophecies. Babylon and Zion do not mix. Zion merged with even a little bit of Babylon is no longer Zion. For Zion to be Zion—a Zion person, a Zion family, or a Zion priesthood community—there can be no hint of Babylon. Hugh Nibley writes:
Zion is pure, which means ‘not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed’; it is all Zion and nothing else. . . . It is all pure—it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter. ‘Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean’ (3 Nephi 20:36). It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment.
If we partake of Babylon or embrace her teachings in any degree, we are not Zion, and we will suffer Babylon’s fate.
John’s Prophecy of Babylon’s Fall
In the chapter 18 of the Revelation of John, the apostle saw a powerful angel descend from heaven, “and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils.” John lists five reasons for Babylon’s fall:
Illicit relationships, interactions, and transactions that bring power and wealth. Described as “fornication,” these universally accepted things stand contrary to the Covenant.
The intolerable sin of wealth-seeking: “and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies”
Pride: “How much she hath glorified herself”
Excess and selfishness: “[Babylon] lived deliciously”
Ignoring the underprivileged: “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” But enough is too much: “her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
The first angel’s voice is now joined by a voice from heaven, which is directed at the Saints: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” This merciful warning is dire; the Lord has undertaken to judge Babylon, and neither she nor the people who remain in her will be able to withstand his judgment: “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
The reference to a sudden and astonishing fall is repeated throughout the prophecy:
“…in one day”
“Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come”
“For in one hour so great riches is come to nought”
“…in one hour is she made desolate.”
Babylon’s fall will be violent and permanent: “Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”
The wicked, who have loved Babylon, will greatly miss her; their reaction will be widespread mourning: “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment.”
The world’s economy will collapse, and those who have bought and sold will never recover: “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.”
John then records the words of a voice from heaven, as if it were speaking directly to Babylon, saying, “All things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.” Then viewing the merchants, the voice adds, “The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas.”
But the merchants are not the only ones to mourn. The fall of Babylon is lamented by everyone who has remained within her precincts:
And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What [city is] like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Then a mighty angel assesses the extent of the destruction:
And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee.
No more of the world’s music and art; no more worldly crafts; no more worldly manufacturing. Babylon’s light has been snuffed out forever, and the world mourns, “For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”
But Zion’s hour has come at last. While the people of Babylon mourn, the people of Zion rejoice. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” Clearly, we have a choice: we can remain in Babylon, suffer her plagues and mourn, or we can come to Zion, obtain safety in the Covenant, and rejoice.
Nephi’s Vision of Babylon’s Fall
According to Nephi, the fall of Babylon will be “exceedingly great.”Babylon will be destroyed “speedily; . . . it shall be at an instant, suddenly.” Lehi’s foundationless “great and spacious building” that “stood as it were in the air, high above the earth” will collapse, to the astonishment and fear of the world. Then a voice from heaven will be heard: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit.”
Moreover, when Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms,” falls, it “shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” That is, Babylon will be so fully eradicated that “it shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; . . . her time is near to come, and her day shall not be prolonged. For I will destroy her speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish.”
Joseph Smith’s Revelation on the Fall of Babylon
Speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said,
Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; first among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
The Saints are not exempt. Those Saints who hold to Babylon and its philosophies will suffer the consequences of Babylon’s fall. Either we must decide to be safe in Zion or defenseless in Babylon. To the extent that we dabble with Babylon we are vulnerable.
Given the mountain of irrefutable evidence that the foundation of Babylon is cracking, we would be well served to reconsider our allegiance to the principles Zion and flock to her safety.
For The Family
Lord, How Can We Prepare The Way Before Thy Coming?
By Alan on Apr 01 in Blog tagged ., authority, before thy coming, charity, church, comandments, dispel fear, dreadful day, faith, fear, fearful, great day, heavens to shake, hope, How can we prepare, if ye are prepared ye shall not fear, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, look upward, Mormon, not comfortable, patience, red in his apparel, trust | Comments Off on Lord, How Can We Prepare The Way Before Thy Coming?
NO, THIS IS NOT APRIL FOOLS WHAT WE SAY!
It’s Time To Stand For Our God, Our Freedoms, And Our Families!
We are living in the Last Days!
He is "The Way".
We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” D&C 21: 4-5
There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will desperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.” D&C 21: 6
If the emotions one feels as he contemplates the fore-boding days ahead are primarily fearful, then perhaps what is needed is a serious evaluation of one’s personal relatioinship with Jesus Christ. It is he to whose coming we look, and if it is with frightened eyes, perhaps it is because we are not completely comfortable with our present relationship to him.
We must be prepared. The Lord spoke through Joseph Smith and gave a most profound truth, and a promise, saying: “…if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” Elder John A. Widsoe said, … Fear, which “shall come upon every man,” is the natural consequence of a sence of weakness, also of sin. Fear is a chief weapon of Satan in making manking unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life, for the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of evil ever seeks to engender fear in human hearts. In this day of sorrow, fear walks with humanity. It directs, measurabbly, the course of every battle. It remains as a gnawing poison in the hearts of the victors as of the vanquished.
As leaders in Israel, we mst seek to dispel fear from among our people. A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well. The Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned world-mission so great that they cannot afford to dissipate their strength in fear. The Lord has repeatedly warned His people against fear. Many a blessing is withheld because of our fears. He has expressly declared that man cannot stop his work on earth, therefore, they who are engaged in the Lord’s latter-day cause and who fear, really trust man more that God, and thereby are robbed of their power to serve.
The key to the conquest of fear has been given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. “If ye are repared ye shall not fear.” D&C 38: 30 That devine message needs repeating today in every stake and ward. Are we prepared in surrender to God’s commandments? In victory over our appetites? In obedience to righteous law? If we can honestly answer yes, we can bid fear depart. And the degree of fear in our hearts may well be measured by our preparation by righteous living, such as should characterize Latter-day Saints.
In this world upheval, in this day of wanton destruction, we, as a people, must look upward. There must be trust and faith in our hearts. Hope must walk by our side. We must remember charity also. We must treasure the warm words of the Father to His Church. “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord God am whith you, and will stand by you.” D&C 68: 6
Oh!, that each heart could honestly repeat the words spoken by President Joseph F. Smith during World War I. “No matter what may come to me, if I am only in the line of my duty, if I am in fellowship with God, if I am worthy of the fellowship of my brethren, if I can stand spotless before the world, without blemish, without transgressioin of the Laws of God, what does it matter to me what may happen to me? I am always ready, if in this frame of understanding, mind, and conduct. It does not matter at all. Therefore, I borrow no trouble nor feel the pangs of fear.
Much has been said concerning the coming of the Lord. Much more could be said. The world rushes headlong toward disater and many live in fear of that “dreadful day“. But many others look forward with poignant longing for the “great day“ of the Lord.
The advice of Elder Orson Pratt should be in the forefront of the mind of every Latter-day Saint in these troubled and ominoius times.
With a work of such magnitude before them, the Latter-day Saints should be wide awake, and should not have their minds engaged in those fooleries in which many indulge at the present time. We should put these things away, and our inquiry should be, “Lord how can we prepare the way before thy coming? How can we prepare ourselves to perform the work which must be performed in this greatest of dispensations, the dispensation of the fulness of times? How can we be prepared to behold the Saints who lived on the earth in former disipensatioins, and take them by the haved and fall upon their necks and they fall upon ours, and we embrace each other? How can we be prepared for this?” How can all things that are in Christ Jesus, both which are in heaven and on the earth, be assembled in one grand assembly. without we are wide awake?
When we can make such questions the code for patterning our daily living, we too can truly be prepared for the coming of the Lord.
“And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat.” D&C 133: 48 & Isa. 63: 2
He is "The Way".
“If You Shall Believe In Christ You Shall Believe These Words.”
By Alan on Feb 01 in Blog, Videos tagged believe, Book of Mormon, Christ, Church of Jesus Christ, God, Jeffery R. Holland, Jesus, Latter-day Saints, prophet, records, truth, words | 17 Comments on “If You Shall Believe In Christ You Shall Believe These Words.”
God always provides safety for the soul. Jesus said, “Who so treasureth up my words shall not be deceived, and in the last days neither your heart or faith will fail you.”
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