40 days of Talks: Is this not the Fast that I have Chosen

Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen

“Your fast offering will do more than help feed and clothe bodies. It will heal and change hearts.”

Possibly, but let’s take a look at what the Fast Offering money gets used for.  It’s hard with a church so secretive about its finances to verify such a claim.  We can look at the Humanitarian aide portion of the church’s website and see that in 2010, about $1.3 Billion was given to individuals to help them, which seems like a lot until one does a bit of math.  1.3 Billion from 1985-2010 (15 years) divided by number of members (14 million) is about $3.71 per member.  If we go with active members (~5 million) it’s around $9 per member per year, which… frankly seems a bit like someone is skimping some dollars.  I know that as a member I gave between $30-60 each month to Fast Offering, so either I was WAY above average (about 40-80 times the average payer) or some of the money isn’t making it to “heal and change hearts”.

As further evidence of issues the church has stopped publishing the dollars used for humanitarian aid after Business Week investigated as you can see on the 2014 welfare sheet, only hours are reported, no dollar values.

On this sheet, we have some noble goals.  Fighting Ebola, Phillipean Earthquakes, Immunization campaigns and Clean water initiatives are all nobel (although I feel it necessary to point out that the church took credit for a member, Bishnu Adhikari‘s, private initiative for clean water that happened to be run by a Mormon in its film Meet the Mormons, so one must question if these are church initiatives or member-led initiatives that the church is claiming as its own).  And I totally respect the church in these efforts, but noble goals aren’t evidence against someone skimming funds for less-than-noble goals.

Fast Offering can also cause a lot of pain.  Fast offering money was funneled into West Ridge Academy, a for-profit venture that tried to reprogram homosexuals and troubled teens with reparative therapy and harsh conditions.  It was heavily sued by boys who left the organization.  I wonder how many times tithing has been said to go to feed poor families, when the idea that Gays were being sent to reformation camps was left unmentioned.

When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him.

Hiding finances, misappropriating funds, changing tithing slips to state that money donated in any category can be used for any other category.  Mr. Eyering might have said

“When we offer to sucker anyone, the Savior feels it as if we suckered him”

Why so many shady business practices?  I guess Jesus never said “blessed are the transparent”.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”1

I can’t help but wonder if another scripture might apply if one trusts an organization so completely that one only donates to that organization and very little of the money reaches the hungry, the naked, but instead is used to abuse a portion of Heavenly Father’s children:

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Eyring then states that this God asks something so simple, even a child can understand it: to pay the church money:

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

We call upon members everywhere to demand of their leaders that money donated is accountable.  That it cannot be hidden once discovered that the numbers are low.  That no more camps where individuals are tortured or abused be funded by dollars dedicated to feeding the homeless.  That leaders be held accountable for building Malls and Real Estate for-profit ventures while LDS members starve.

Finally, we leave with the reader with the thoughts of George Carlin:

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40 talks in 40 days – Disciples and the Defense of Marriage, Russel M. Nelson

In preparation for General Conference, a lot of members I know are taking a 40 day challenge.  They read 40 General Conference talks (or Ensign articles) in preparation for Conference.  They challenge their friends to do the same.

Challenge-Accepted

…But I’m going to not just read the wonderful talk and talk about how wonderful it is.  No, we’re going to apply some reason, logic and science to what is said.  Day 1:

Disciples and the Defense of Marriage

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Technology, you keep using that word

With recent revelations by the LDS church that Joseph Smith Jr. did, in fact, use a seerstone, many bloggers and notables including Richard Bushman and Greg Trimble have taken to calling the seerstone “A technology we do not understand”.

You keep using that word

Technologynoun, plural technologies 

  1. the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts,engineering, applied science, and pure science.
  2. the application of this knowledge for practical ends.
  3. the terminology of an art, science, etc.; technical nomenclature.
  4. a scientific or industrial process, invention, method, or the like.
  5. the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves withthe material objects of their civilization.

Let us juxtopose this with the definition of “Magic”:

Magic- Noun

  1. the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.
  2. the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.

These bloggers like to call the seerstone a “technology” however the word is simply misused.  It was not developed by Science (That is to say, observation, forming a hypothesis, then using experiments to try to reject that hypothesis), it was not provided by the group itself for its benefit and it was not applying scientifically derived tools for practical ends.

However it does match the definition of magic in that it was “producing a desired effect or result through incantation or other techniques that assume human control of supernatural agencies or forces of nature.

In other words, yes the Seerstone and your iPhone are both made of minerals, however the arrangement of the minerals in an iPhone, and the results are reproducible, verifiable, and falsifiable.  That is the definition of technology.  The seerstone cannot be reproduced (although an article in the Juvenile instructor does say how one can chant incantations to make one’s own seerstone), cannot be verified, nor has one every been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and it is not falsifiable (otherwise, certainly the Kinderhook plates and Book of Abraham issues would call serious doubt into its abilities).

To call it technology is an extraordinary claim.  To be specific, these bloggers and historians are saying that the rock is able to contact an individual being who lives on a planet near a star named Kolob, and it was prepared for Joseph Smith Jr. to find in a well, thousands of years after it was placed.  That makes it an alien technology, if it be technology.  Further this technology emits no power signal, no waves that are noticeable or have been measured, and is perfectly fine sitting in a vault unused since it performed a single set of tasks.  If you believe all that, I tell you seriously I have a dragon in my garage.

So, I await those historians, bloggers, and others to actually produce extraordinary evidence that the stone is, in fact, technology and not magic.  Until then, we are RIGHT to call it magic.

It would be like saying that a person who created Ashley Madison wasn’t an adulterer if he married 33-40 women but we couldn’t prove he had sex with them.  You can’t just bend words to mean different things to make your position seem less preposterous.  Words have meaning.  Deer are deer, horses are horses, and magic is magic.

As soon as the church produces a line of Seerstones each person can use, and sets up a tech-support line so that people can call in if they have issues, and they send out an update that improves the software; I’ll call it technology.  Until then, it is, what it was known as in the contemporary context of Joseph Smith:  Folk Magic.

Peepstone Joe

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We hereby declare Julie Rowe a false prophet

Inasmuch as it has come to our attention that Julie Rowe has declared that she has received revelation and inspiration for the preparation of the end of times let us respond with a solid voice that she is not genuinely gifted with supernatural powers of foresight.

The tendency of any group, when a prophecy fails, is to become more entrenched in belief.  This has been true of individuals who believed aliens were going to pick them up, of individuals who believed that Gold was going to be recalled and they should invest in a mine that has no gold in it, of people who believed in a woman whose daughter has confirmed she was certifiably crazy and not translated.

As such we write this statement of disbelief to counter the entrenching and to illustrated that the non-believer is, in fact, more prophetic that the believer in Julie Rowe.  She has stated several verifiable positions on the future all of which believers are likely to claim occurred by “moving the goalposts” or claiming that minor events fulfilled what were major claims by Ms. Rowe.

We claim the following will not happen as Ms. Rowe claimed it would happen in Rexberg, Idaho on July 25, 2015

  • We Claim that individuals will not be healed 100%.  In fact we claim that no amputee has been healed and that will continue into the foreseeable future without medical science and prosthetic limbs (Which are hardly being healed 100%)
  • We claim that no one will see people raised from the dead.  This claim is verifiable and would instantly be news on every news network if verified.  CPR and other techniques verified through science are not what was discussed here, but priesthood/divine power and anyone recovering from death through any other technique should not be seen as a successful measure
  • We claim that déjà vu is NOT “us seeing these things before”.  If that were true we would expect children (closer to heaven and more innocent) to experience it more, and teenagers, in their rebellious stage, to experience it less often.  Instead the opposite is true.
  • We clearly state that  There are not “bonds, curses, chains being broken like Cain that are being broken and will be broken until final battle when we will be healed.”  Um. wait, what does that even mean?  When did Cain get bonds broken?
  • We claim there will not be an economic disaster in September.  Indeed, the Federal Reserve has all but stated they will raise interest rates in September, and that will impact the stock market, but probably less than the Greek debt situation or the Chinese Stock Market close did in July.  As such we think that the impact in September will be a failed prophesy (or why didn’t God tell her about the bigger impact 2 months previous).  We say this to illustrate that a sound financial understanding is a better market predictor than prophesy
  • We sustain that no “earth shattering on the Wasatch front” will occur from September to October of 2015.  Indeed, there may be an earthquake, but the impact to humans/size will not be sufficient to warrant a prediction and dozens of earthquakes of a similar impact will be in the record as Seismic activity is constantly happening at a depth that does not impact humans.
  • We state clearly that “foreign troops will NOT hit soil in LA” in any kind of timeframe or explanation that would link it to the September-October events previously stated, which were implied in Ms. Rowe’s talk.  We know that the believer will be tempted to find ANY boots on the ground from ANY country as evidence of this being fulfilled, be we declare with solemn voice that Ms. Rowe implied an invasion clearly with her words and we are certain no invasion is immediately forthcoming.
  • We firmly state that Denver is not going to be the next capital of the United States.  If any city becomes another capital, regardless of world events, Ms. Rowe’s claims are defeated.  We know the temptation for the believer is to push this “Capital switch” into the future as some event, but we seriously state that there will be several events more relevant to listeners that are not foreseen (Like 9/11) than a capital switch and call into question any revelation that misses such key events and yet specifically states such a thing so far into the future that believers are relatively unaffected by it.
  • We firmly state that there are not “more than 4 translated beings on the earth right now.”  We ask anyone who believes this to produce verifiable evidence of any translated being.  We question the ineffectiveness of translated beings at any of the following:  Protecting the prophet from Mark Hoffman’s bombs, Informing the prophet about Mark Hoffman’s deception, Protecting Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail, Coming to Brigham Young’s aid during the Utah War, Helping to talk down the Morresite rebellion, Helping to find Elizabeth Smart who was being raped by a self-proclaimed prophet in between riding around downtown Salt Lake City, etc.  We declare that any Translated beings who are so perfect, and yet so ineffectual at influencing current events should not be worth mentioning.
  • We confidently state that theire will be no “Earth quake will split the country down the middle like parting of Red Sea to keep enemies from getting to Zion”.  Let this also not be put forward so far into the future as to be irrelevant while other more critical events are missed.
  • We state with conviction that the recent ruling regarding gender attraction (That is to say, Gay Marriage) will not be a turning point.  It will be a non-issue as far as the majority of the country, and seen as old bigotry by the next generation.  Indeed, we prophesy that within 10 years a married gay man will bless the sacrament at an LDS ward.
  • We question the claim “A lot of children will be orphaned.”  We believe that it is unlikely that Orphan rates will climb above say, that during pioneer times, which would be a standard for “a lot”.  We state that orphan rates will not climb above those in Syria for the Unted States in the next 10 years.
  • We feel comfortable stating that electricity is here to stay and that it will not fail us.  The plethora and wealth of technology may not always continue as we currently enjoy; but this is not the same as stating that electricity will fail.  We doubt that greatly.
  • We demand that the word “plague” is too vague and too easily filled by a plethora of possibilities to be called a “win” for any prophet.  The standard for validation must be higher than “Someone, somewhere gets sick”.
  • We also reject the further claims made in Seattle in January 2015
    • Dragons are not literal creatures.  None will be released.
    • Weapons are not crafted spiritually (such as arrows), or else Satan would have released a spiritual nuclear event wiping out spiritual beings.
    • The United States will not be a 3rd world country any time soon
    • Seattle will not be a “hot spot” for man-made disasters.  Individuals will find other areas (such as Detroit) that have far more man-made disaster per year than Seattle.  (Other cities mentioned that will have massive destruction are NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco)
    • We clearly state that the following Foreign troops:  Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, mass fleets of Russians will NOT come through Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest.
    • Individuals in Washington will not arrive to Idaho in rags
    • Many missiles will not be launched launched at us, and we laugh at the idea that many of them will be divinely redirected.  We believe that the missile systems operators will find man-made events if any missiles misfire (which is a possibility).
    •  We firmly state that there will be no literal forcefield deflecting missiles.

False belief is not harmless.  It was devastating for those who believed a comet would signal the end times or that they should follow a prophet no matter what, or that one should sell one’s property in preparation for the end of the world.  We ask that general authorities, Stake leaders and bishops warn members against false prophets and that while people who taught love such as John Dehlin were excommunicated, apocalyptic end-of-the-world false prophets should be at least treated to a similar disciplinary council.

The list of failed prophesies of the end of the world is long and we ask individuals ot consider Ms. Rowe’s voice as one more in the long list of those who drive an empty frenzy, rather than a true voice of warning.

Sign the petition here

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The ABC’s of Science and Mormonism – First 10 letters

A is for Gold (Au)

B is for Brass

C is for Cattle

D is for Devil

E is for Etymology

F is for Fighting

G is for Holy Ghost

H is for Hemisphere or Heartland, if you prefer

I is for Isaiah

J is for Jehovah

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The Gospel according to Jake

All the best of Brother Jake in one place (credit to /u/YoungModern for compiling the list:

Now a basic overview of the gospel[2] .

Then an explanation of the nature of your soul[3] and where it came from and where it’s going.

That deal with polygamy explained[4] .

Why Mormons are not sexist[5] .

Why Mormons are not racist[6] .

How the Book of Abraham was translated from Egyptian scrolls[7] .

The Book of Mormon[8] summarised in ~6 minutes.

Why prophets are awesome[9] .

Why the Mormon Church is Not a Cult[10] .

What goes on in those sacred temples[11] ?

The importance of modesty[12] .

The importance of tithing[13] your money.

Why Mormons don’t hate gay people[14] .

Then here for a musical explanation of how those who yearn for a rational faith can resolve doubt through symbolical interpretation[15] .

And here’s a fabulous musical explanation of how the church came to franchise it’s ecclesiastical services and doctrinal instruction in a process known as correlation[16] .

How church discipline[17] works.

Now learn about how all of your doubts can be resolved through apologetics[18] .

And here’s an excellent video on the importance of religious freedom[19] .

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Did Brigham Young engage in Human Trafficing

And perhaps more importantly is “Human Trafficking” baked into the Mormon narrative?

To understand this, we turn to… the Pope. Yesterday (July 22nd, 2015) the Pope met with Mayors from around the world and discussed Climate change and Human trafficking, two items that are major issues around the world for almost every country.

However, the fascinating thing was that most of the mayors left with an idea how the two were linked.

“When it gets hot, the poor get a lot hotter, and when it gets cold, the poor get a lot colder,” he said. “That’s a quote from Gen. [Russel L.] Honoré. The point of this is, when climate change comes, when we feel its dramatic impact, and it forces people to move out of their homes, like they did after Katrina, people are put in really, really difficult situations where they have to make bad decisions, and in very impoverished countries one of the decisions they make is to sell their bodies, or to give themselves over to somebody else to abuse them, and quite technically enslave them into owing them money for the rest of their lives, which evidently turns into a very large economy for human trafficking across the world.”

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Twopence more and up goes the donkey

“Twopence more and up goes the donkey”.  It’s a fascinating phrase because it only exists for a limited time in London.  It has a meaning that people ascribe to it, and even one man who claims to have invented it, saying he was fined for balancing a donkey.

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“No Official Doctrine”

Things the LDS Church has no official position on (According to FAIRMormon):

1) Evolution[1] which is funny because the Garden of Eden, The Fall, Noah’s flood and such all are impacted by this concept

2) The Official location of the peoples in the Book of Mormon[2] which is funny since the entire truth claims of the church depend on this book being legitimately about people in North America who are the ancestors of Native Americans

3) Who the Great and Abominable Church is that Nephi is talking about that God shows to Nephi[3] which is funny, because if there are only two churches, the church of the Lamb and the Great and Abominable church, it might be important to know which you are in

4) The Consumption of Cola Drinks[4] which is funny because they are dead set against coffee and tea; when those actually have health benefits[5] proven by science[6] .

6) Whether or not there was Death before the Fall of Adam[7] which is funny because it only matters if one takes the scriptures very, very literally, and needs sex to be somehow linked to all of mankind’s actions.

7) Whether there was a global or local flood[8] which is funny because the church has published that to be Mormon means to acknowledge a global flood in its official magazine[9] and it is a fairly key component to many church leader statements, and yet they know the science doesn’t back up the position

8) When the lands of the earth were separated[10] which is funny because the Bible makes a statement, and despite having prophets with communication to God, they still haven’t answered if this verse can be taken at face value

9) Dinosaurs[11] . Because evidence and every 5 year-old’s heart loving these movie-blockbusting lizards from a previous era is no reason to actually acknowledge their existence.

10) Jesus being married[12] which is funny because early leaders actually cited Jesus’ marriage as proof that he was polygamous to back their own polygamy. Taking away this argument would be “anti-mormon” lies back in the 1860’s

11) Which books are considered doctrine[13] even when they bear the copyright or trademark of “Intellectual reserve inc” doesn’t make it official which is funny because everything had to go through the correlation department before going to printing.

12) Whether a person can progress between the three degrees of glory[14] which is funny because that whole claim about “Families being forever” kinda could somehow be affected by whether people in the Telestial kingdom could show up in the Celestial kingdom one day

13) The age of the Earth[15] which is kinda funny since D&C 77 pretty much states it, and the Nauvoo Masonic Hall still has the year of the earth on the corner from a Young Earth Perspective. Further, it kinda impacts the whole “Adam was the first man” concept

14) The Date of Christ’s Birth[16] which is funny because Apostles have said it over the pulpit during conference even though that date is clearly wrong.

15) Whether Jesus knows who is going to be saved[17] which is funny because that’s part of the definition of omniscience, a trait of God explicitly stated

16) Did God have sex with Mary[18] which is funny because it was explicitly stated by church leaders over the pulpit at General conference.

17) Whether the Sons of Perdition will have another chance at eternal glory[19] yup, even being damned doesn’t mean you are according to the Church official positions

18) Whether Native Americans are Lamanites[20] which is funny because Spencer W. Kimball took kids from their homes to be re-educated by Mormons[21] hoping to make their skin whiter[22]

19) Whether Jesus Christ is the savior of other worlds[23] which is funny because the atonement is described as infinite and eternal. I guess that’s a “limited infinite” that lasts for an eternity.

20) Whether Joseph said the Moon was inhabited[24] which is funny because well, moon-people in 2015… this should be a clear and easy one to simply say “No, we officially don’t believe this”

21) Spencer W. Kimball’s claim that women should fight to the death to preserve their virtue[25] which is funny because he clearly said it, it’s printed in Miracle of Forgiveness and quoted in manuals, and still pretty much used everywhere.

22) Whether the Garden of Eden is in Missouri[26] which is funny because it was pretty clear for most of Church history what Joseph meant.

23) How the Book of Abraham was translated[27] which is funny because it’s a book of scripture that very much informs the LDS worldview, and that is highly suspect in its authenticity. A question to deity could easily resolve this issue.

24) Anything Apologists say[28] which is funny because, they have so few actual opinions of their own, and rely on these unofficial apologists as sources so frequently

Some Official Positions:

1) Adam God Theory is wrong[29] which is funny because Brigham taught it for 37 years[30] including over the pulpit in conference. It’s funny because it’s hard to figure out what is doctrine if this isn’t; and it’s one of the unique teachings of Brigham, whose credibility the LDS church entirely depends upon

2) Opposing the ERA[31] (Equal Rights Amendment for women to be paid the same as men)

3) That hot drinks are tea and coffee[32]

4) The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ’s conception.[33] which is funny to think about, but sure, this one makes some sense.

5) The proclamation on the Family IS official doctrine[34] which is funny because I look forward to reading the FAIR page that corrects the notion that this was ever doctrine in about 10 years

6) The location of the 10 tribes[35] is still that they are scattered, which is funny because, it’s about damn time the church found them.

7) The church support for Prop8 was official[36]

8) There are several official statements that the Blacks will never receive the priesthood[37] including first presidency quotes, which is funny because the only one they highlight is where a church leader claims there was no official position of the church.

Summary Anytime top church leaders cannot unanimously agree on central tenets, the church simply labels the issue with “No official position” which weakens the claim that the 12 are united on policies of the church as several key doctrines are left unanswered. When the church is attacking individuals (Women with ERA, Blacks and the priesthood, Gays with prop8) the church takes an official position.

This damning of others, while refusing to use the prophetic gifts to answer fundamental questions of life and mormonism is evidence the church is damned/apostate as the leaders cannot answer questions, but only dig in their heels when lobbing the church’s weight against minority groups seeking equality.

The church must take official positions on doctrinally relevant questions or it will continue to grow doctrinally irrelevant while appearing to merely be a vehicle for bigoted hate.

Or maybe that’s just FAIRMormon’s official position?

Posted in Apologetics, Correlation, Current issues | 2 Comments

Baloney detector and kids

A great post.  Just going to link to it without further commentary: http://parent.co/how-to-help-your-kids-build-a-better-bs-detector/

And animations mentioned in the article:
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/09/critical-thinking/

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