Are we not all Refugees?

Are we not all Refugees?

Deep inside each of us is a feeling we are far from home.  When we see others forced from their homes, their livelihoods and their familiar circumstance, a peice of us connects with them.

Update: some people wanted a way to help despite the church not starting such a program.  I know of one page that directly reaches out to Syrian refugees.  This is the one I know

The LDS Hymn “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” is rumored to be the final song Joseph heard before dying.  It speaks of a man cast out of his circumstance, despised of men and acquainted with grief.  It is an excellent parable of human interaction

Isaiah states that our savior, even, Jesus Christ would be:

“…despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” – Isaiah 53:3

But on a deeper level, the verses of the song teach us that great lesson as taught by King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon

“…when ye are in the serviceof your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” – Mosiah 2:17

We live in a world of sorrows.  A world of tribulation for many.  Most of us believe we have a tribulation or are acquainted with sorrow when we cannot find our car keys or our hair will not conform to the norms we have come to expect from it.  We struggle with zits, or making it to meetings on time.

But right now, in our world, there are hundreds of thousands who would call our “tribulation”: “Luxury”.  Wars and strife have turned them out of their homes.  It has ruined businesses that were in families for generations.  It has made paupers out of those who had a great standard of living.  Worries about cell phone placement are traded for worries about food, clothing and basic necessities.

In addition to the loss of home, culture, and income; many have lost family members.  Recently a photo made its way across the internet of a toddler who died due to the family trying to escape the ravages of war while finding safe havens proved too difficult for too long.

In Europe, this need for shelter is understood.  Although possibly starting to fade from memory, many of those who live now remember stories from grandmothers and grandfathers of their need to find shelter from the ravages of World War II.  Many countries have opened their doors to our Heavenly Father’s children to accept our Brothers and Sisters seeking refuge from the pains of destruction.  However, our nation resists.

It is perhaps out of fear, and we can understand fear for the safety of our neighborhoods, our loved ones, our surroundings.  September 11th, 2001 still serves as a grave reminder of what can happen by those within our own borders can do.  However, the scriptures teach us a better way.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” -1 John 4:18

Elder Tom Perry, who recently passed away, taught us in October Conference of 2011; when we see our brothers and sisters on this earth with celestial eyes, we will not fear them.

We invite every member to write to their congressman to invite additional refugees into our homes and into our neighborhoods.  We ask Bishops and Stake Presidents to be prepared to administer to those who have “no place to lay their heads”, similar to how Christ was when He walked this earth.  We announce tonight, a worldwide program of using the donations to Deseret Industries and to Humanitarian aid to be distributed directly to these refugees in any state, country, or province they are found.  Any donations given will be delivered with financial transparency, but also with privacy to the receiver.  Then, we can truly state that we did not sound a trump before our alms.

We encourage members to donate generously, that when we meet our savior at the end of our lives, we may honestly hear the words “Fear not, for thou didst it unto me”.

I leave these thoughts with you, in the Sacred Name of Jesus Christ,


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Better than General Conference – Consent is Key

After doing the 40 Talks in 40 days, I can’t help but think that the world has a need that is not fulfilled in guidance.  Those men and women spouted out such bad advice, untrue moments and so many logical fallacies, I can’t help but think that many who were used to following them, but now question, could use some actual Guidance.  As such, I create a new Category: “Life Improvement” with a new series “Better than General Conference”.  Talks, in a similar style, but touching on actual issues of our day.  The intent:  That when a relative sends you an inspired quote or request to read General Conference talk, you can send back some real life advice for dealing with real issues.

Note, I’m not a prophet.  I’m a non-prophet at best.  I’m a human who has some ideas about life.  That said, I’m still convinced this advice is far better than what the “Prophets, Seers and revelators” dish out.  I will not mention this again, as I’d like to kind of leave the comparison with Mormonism in this section and just discuss life, current events, and how we can do better tomorrow than we did today.

Consent is Key

When considering relationships, whether sexual or not, we need to remember a key to a lasting relationship is consent

Have you ever had a parent make you clean your room?  When I was a boy I would sometimes leave toys on floor in the family room in the basement.  I also was sometimes afraid of monsters.  At one point, a brilliant idea came to me, if I laid my toys out, similar to a minefield, with them in unpredictable locations, any monsters coming to get me would be injured on the way.  After I had gone to bed, I heard several cries of pain.  I knew my monster trap had worked.  Of course, there were no monsters.  Instead, my father had come down for a shower, and, crossing the family room, had found a field of foot injuring action figures instead of a quick path to a refreshing shower.


My father had a serious talk with me after several nights of my protective strategy were put in place.  My ability to choose to leave toys out was seriously impacted.

Relationships always require communication if they are going to work.  Talking with my father before setting my trap would have saved his feet some pain, and an original Kenner Star Wars action figure or two.  His willingness to communicate with me helped improve the situation both for him and myself.

Part of what was wrong is that I did not allow my father to consent to the situation.  Relationships between boys and girls, men and women  and even between members of the same gender are always improved when both parties communicate, and allow the other to consent to actions.  Especially where our bodies are concerned.

Many times I have met someone with a different definition of personal space than myself.  Hugs, when consent is granted, are warm, comforting, and communicate love and concern.  Hugs, when consent is not granted can be cold, off-putting and even threatening.

Even in marriage, when consent has been given previously, communication of continued consent is very important for feelings of comfort and safety that allow love to flourish.  If a partner becomes withdrawn, quiet, or changes patterns, communication should lead before consent.

Teenagers, you are in an experimental time.  Many times media portray relationships as “normal” that do not illustrate good consent.  You need to have good role models and to talk to those you trust about how to give and deny consent and what to do if someone denies consent to you.  You are in a practice time to learn good consensual actions to build relationships based on communication.


If a friend is feeling down, ask first, before you hug them, but hug them if consent is given.  If a person tells you not to touch them, even if they are weaker, smaller, or unable to resist, do not touch them.  Even if it is part of a joke that your friends are enjoying.  Practice good consent and your lives will be enriched.

If leaders or people of authority pressure you for relationships, actions or deeds that make you uncomfortable it is important that you report this.  HR departments deal with lawsuits for millions of dollars caused by poor communication and situations lacking consent.  If you find yourself attracted to someone under your authority, understand that person cannot give you consent.  Anyone who is powerless to resist, or whose livelihood is dependent upon forced consent cannot consent.  Persue other relationships until the power in the relationship is equal.

Adults who interact with minors need to understand how little children can really consent to. There are something that they cannot be allowed to decide for themselves.  Toddlers would run around with filled diapers forever rather than be changed.  However, adults dealing with minors must always be careful in getting and respecting the consent of children and knowing the boundaries of their guardians and loved ones, as well as showing children decent respect that should be given to any human.

Sometimes a power imbalance in a relationship can be thrilling.  It can stir powerful emotions.  Leave that for fantasy time, and roleplaying rather than actually exercise power over others.

Individuals who are not conscious, inebriated, or otherwise incopacitated; including from drugs, medication, or injury, cannot give consent.

By communicating with our loved ones, our co-workers and those we wish to add to our list of individuals regularly included in our lives, including discussing situations of consent we can improve our lives, enrich our future relationships and engage on a deeper, more meaningful level.  We can avoid costly lawsuits as well as stand up for ourselves when others put us into situations that would rob us of consent.

There are times when competitors, rivals in companies, or even neighbors may take our consent away.  It never feels good.  But if we all strive to live lives that use the key of consent, the world around us will be a better place


May you all live lives of communication and consent.


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40 Talks in 40 Days – Returning to Faith, Rosemary M. Wixom

Well, here we are.  Tomorrow is Conference.  And no, I didn’t hit 40 talks (Comic-con and Skyrim got in the way), but I feel comfortable that most members who joined the challenged didn’t hit 40 talks either.  I had hoped to take another anti-homosexual marriage talk and delve deep into the science, but never had time for that either.

Regardless, I hope having someone who isn’t enamored of the authority of the individuals taking a hard look at what they are actually saying helped you to think about what some of the subtext is said, or what is overtly said that others might find offensive, not because they are misled by Satan, but because the leaders are saying offensive, hurtful, or just plain non-sensical things.   I want to point out another item and then we’ll get to the talk.  That is that I could, and did, praise many of the talks about many of their points.  If you are a believer, I challenge you to be able to vocalize anything negative you see in any of the talks. If you cannot, please understand that the bias lies heavier in one who cannot express both sides, than someone who can.  Being able to critically evaluate a popular speaker helps to remove our natural bias and leads to a closer understanding of truth in all cases.  General Authorities are not exempt from the natural laws of the universe or basic human psychology.  I think I even pointed out in a few talks, that actually they know that, and manipulate human psychology and bias to their advantage.

And now, the final talk for this year “Returning to Faith”

Returning to Faith

Every one of us can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ on our individual journey and find joy.

Continue reading

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40 Talks in 40 days – On Being Genuine, Dieter F. Uchtdorf

On Being Genuine

I pray that we will resist the temptation to draw attention to ourselves and, instead, strive for a far greater honor: to become humble, genuine disciples of Jesus Christ

Says a man in a suit at a podium being broadcast worldwide.  Think about that for a minute.

In the late 18th century, Catherine the Great of Russia announced she would tour the southern part of her empire, accompanied by several foreign ambassadors…There was only one problem: it was all for show. It is said that Potemkin had assembled pasteboard facades of shops and homes. He had even positioned busy-looking peasants to create the impression of a prosperous economy

What a horrible thing to do.  If a company does this for investors it is fraud in today’s world.

the term “Potemkin village” has entered the world’s vocabulary. It now refers to any attempt to make others believe we are better than we really are.

So, for example if you only have 5 million active members, but continue to doggedly insist there are 14 million members


Oh oh, I know if you insist that your organization does charity but in reality spends more on a mall than all the years of its existance that would be an example of a “Potemkin village” right?

Or if you send out 30,000 more missionaries but have the same conversion rate, but still claim it a success that might be a bit similar to a “Potemkin village”, huh?

It is part of human nature to want to look our best. It is why many of us work so hard on the exterior of our homes and why our young Aaronic Priesthood brethren make sure every hair is in place, just in case they run into that special someone.

Ha ha ha.  Oh, yeah.  I’m sure there is no one who helps the LDS leadership look well for their televised events.  Vanity, right?  But as he says, vanity; although a sin in some religions, isn’t the problem here.

There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smelling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the home teachers arrive. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful.

So when, exactly does it shift from Useful to Deceitful?

In our day, the Lord has similarly strong words for priesthood holders who try to “cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride, [or their] vain ambition.” When they do this, He said, “the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”3

So anytime the church tries to cover their sins, or gratify their pride or vain ambition, the priesthood is removed from the organization.  Well, it’s a good thing we don’t have a long sordid history of trying to hide facts or skeletons in the closet.  And we would never want to have leaders who say, lie on international television, or state that historians are too willing to tell the truth but should only tell useful truths.  That might mean the church was in apostasy and devoid of priesthood!

as the Revelator said of the Ephesians—we have “left [our] first love”?4

And there you have it, if you take actual, verifiable facts and compare them to Deiter’s talk, the conclusion is that the organization has left Christ as a whole.  His words, compared to what they imply when one takes the organization and holds it accountable, equate vain ambition and trying to look good before the world, with abandoning Christ.

He’s either wrong, or his position as Apostle is.  Which do you think it is?

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40 Talks in 40 days – Fatherhood—Our Eternal Destiny, Larry M. Gibson

Fatherhood—Our Eternal Destiny

May we each enjoy the fulness of Father’s blessings in this life and the fulfillment of His work and His glory by becoming fathers to our families for eternity.

Okay, this is a talk to men, by men in a supposed man-only audience.  So I guess the topic of fatherhood makes sense.  The mansplaining aspect is relevant in context, and it is about men talking about men becoming god-men in a place for men to discuss that.  Fair enough.

I do want to point out the ludicrous idea that Gordon B. Hinkley “Didn’t know if we teach it” about becoming Gods in Time magazine.  FAIR likes to say this was really about King Follett, but let’s be serious, even then Hinkley’s words are misdirecting.  Do we teach anything about “God the Father was once a man like we are?” (the question asked by Time Magazine)

Hinkley’s Response: I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.

And yet, here we have a talk in 2015 that is a fairly public discourse, published on the internet and all, that is very clear what the doctrine is.  Prepare to become Gods, eternal fathers to eternal families. I guess it’s good that Hinkley died before such an open discussion of the topic was published or else he would have had to weasel even harder to get out of such a direct question.

One afternoon he took me to purchase some new shoes. On the second floor of the department store, he invited me to look out the window with him.

“What do you see?” he asked.

“Buildings, sky, people” was my response.

“How many?”

“A lot!”

He then pulled this coin from his pocket. As he handed it to me, he asked, “What is this?”

I immediately knew: “A silver dollar!”

Drawing on his knowledge of chemistry, he said, “If you melt that silver dollar and mix it with the right ingredients, you would have silver nitrate. If we coated this window with silver nitrate, what would you see?”

I had no idea, so he escorted me to a full-length mirror and asked, “Now what do you see?”

I like the silver nitrate story.  I think the LDS church has a lot to learn from this.  With its tons of cash, and very little humanitarian aide, with its billion-dollar malls, and 2% of Florida.  With its asking the poor to give 10% even if they can’t pay bills, I think this story is relevant and solid.

“No,” he replied, “what you see is silver reflecting you. If you focus on the silver, all you will see is yourself,

It’s a good lesson.

“Dad, that was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and I will never, ever do it again.” His eyes closed—then opened—and he said, “Unless my son wants me to.”

This is a sweet story and lesson.  Without the spin of “Going on a mission” because it was easier than the hardest thing the younger son had ever done, which is a little questionable, it is a good story of fatherly love, and what family means.  It didn’t have to be a “Son” who asked, I hope, if a daughter wanted to, she could too; but this is  a man meeting, for men, so that’s not the focus point.

In your home, they can learn to preside over their family in love and righteousness.

Meh, presiding men, women are subservient.  even in a man meeting for men, this is monogenistic as an idea.

fulfill your duty and obligation to serve a full-time mission, and then, without waiting too long, get married in the temple to a daughter of God and have a family.

Think if we took out the controlling words.  What if this simply said “Fulfill a meaningful service to your fellow humans, and one day getting married to a person you love” rather than duty and obligation to the corporation and “Without waiting too long”.  Why the rush to marriage?  Why not the counsel to find the right person?  Why the words “Daughter of God”, could the boy marry a dog or non-daughter of God?  Is this just a slight on homosexuals who want to marry a son of God?  Why must there be only one course and that course emphasized in even the little language?  Is being a good human simply not good enough?

Doesn’t this sound like the work and role of a father ?

I hate this cult technique.  No, the work of a father involves diapers, getting up at 2 a.m. and rocking a toddler to sleep and then getting up for a presentation in front of an executive the next day  (The work of a mother might include that too).  It includes planning vacations your child sleeps through, or going to restaurants the kid doesn’t eat the food at.  It involves hugs and reading the same story for years over and over.

The list of things the church dictates is not fatherhood, and fatherhood is not the church.  To equate the two is a cultish technique to push in the mind that only members of the church are good fathers, and good fathers are like men in the church.  Good fathers can ignore every item on the list of church duties and still be good fathers.

Overall, this is my favorite talk.  I liked the lesson of the silver dollar.  I liked the lesson of the father walking with his sons and that the son would do it for his son.  I like the passing of a legacy of good fatherly roles and understanding from generation to generation.  But the negative bits still get to me.  I meme from when I was a teenager comes to mind:






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All it boils down to – Smug Superiority

Through one thing and another, I’ve found myself stuck in LDS meetings for over four hours in the past week or so.  One thing struck me.

It’s all about a sense of smug superiority.

It’s not about the history of the Lamanites, because we can’t even find them anymore according to FAIR, and most members don’t care about them anyway.

It’s not about Joseph Smith Jr.’s actual life, or plate translation techniques, members are willing to say without hesitation that the method of translation doesn’t matter anyway.

It’s not about consent or sexual relationships, as polygamy breaking up families can be shrugged away in an instant.

It isn’t about actual health benefits as coffee has been shown to be beneficial and that hasn’t changed any position by anyone.

It isn’t about doctrine, as many points of doctrine have shifted over the years.

There is one thing that remains:  And that is the feeling that they are right, special and more chosen than people around them.  In fact, sitting in meetings, individuals will tell story after story about how they are more blessed, or self-depricating stories about how they are inferior to all the members around them.

Stories about family members too lazy or dull witted, or misled to be as special as the people sitting there.  Stories about preachers or people with PHD’s too foolish to realize how “True” the religion is.

All of which contribute to this feeling of smug superiority.  A comment that pulls away from that feeling of smug superiority is treated as hostile regardless of its truth, its validity or its relevance.  Keep everyone feeling a little better than their neighbors and the meeting continues fine.  Point out that other humans are decent people too and that members can be shitty and another comment immediately following will return the smug superiority… “We are all flawed, but at least members of this church are trying”, as if the rest of humanity wasn’t trying as hard.

So there, that’s my current evaluation of what the LDS religion is.  After doing my 40 Talks in 40 days and sitting in a meeting, I am convinced the whole thing would fall apart, and that a ward would struggle where the air of smug superiority wasn’t maintained.  Listen to General Conference and see if you can find one talk that doesn’t play to feelings of Smug Superiority.

What’s worse, is that I think that most members refer to that feeling of being slightly better than those around them as “The Spirit” or “The Holy Ghost”.  Anything that detracts from that feeling that they are slightly superior is seen as wickedness, or anti-mormon.

And when your religion is all about being a little better than everyone around you to the point that finding out you have flaws is threatening to a level that one must label it “anti-mormon” and spend hours singing praises to your own beliefs being a bit better than everyone else’s, your religion doesn’t deserve respect.  It doesn’t deserve to be treated on par with other beliefs.  It deserves to be aggressively stamped out.

Because the belief that one is slightly better than everyone else isn’t a virtue that improves the world, but something that drags individuals down and shields them from improvement.

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40 Talks in 40 Days – Yes, We Can and Will Win!, Ulisses Soares

Yes, We Can and Will Win!

We must hold ever more tightly to our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we will win the daily battles against evil.

Before I get started I just want to point out that Ulisses is a brave man.  He uses no middle initial to make himself sound authoritative, and yet made it all the way to the presidency of the Seventy!

Second, I’m not sure who thought using Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can” as the intro to a speech that, again; could be talking entirely about homosexual marraige (Which they lost), but I think it was in poor taste.  Not that people should never use “Yes, we Can” ever again, but it just seems cheap and trashy to work someone else’s slogan who is still known for that phrase, into a speech contrary to what that person’s beliefs are.  It would be like taking Spencer W. Kimball’s “Do It” and meshing it with sexual innuendo, awkward and not very couth.

President Thomas S. Monson once said:

Must we quote the living prophet?  It comes across as brown-nosing and scoring points rather than inspired.  Whatever.

The world can at times be a frightening place in which to live. The moral fabric of society seems to be unraveling at an alarming speed.

We’ve covered this before, but since they repeat it, let’s repeat as well, the world is a much, much better place.   Wars, rape, starvation, all are down.  Whatever could he mean?

None—whether young or old or in-between—is exempt from exposure to those things which have the potential to drag us down and destroy us. …

I’m guessing that he means Pornography here.  I mean, people certainly had more exposure to war, rape, and starvation before this period.  Let me remind everyone that believing that pornography is addicting is far more harmful than pornography.  I know, I know, that pesky science contradicting “the prophet” again.  Numbers, facts, statistics.  Such bothersome things when there is belief to be sold.

“… But we need not despair. … We are waging a war with sin. … It is a war we can and will win. Our Father in Heaven has given us the tools we need in order to do so.”1

Let’s talk about this war for a second.  There are roughly 7 billion souls on this earth.  That means that there were at least 21 Billion souls in the pre-existence (This is rough numbers people, there have been about 7 billion throughout history and there are more people being born, it’s just an illustration of the numbers), and 7 billion of those followed Satan.  That means that for Adam and Eve, there were 3.5 Billion devils to tempt each one.  For Noah on the Ark, there were about a billion devils to tempt each person (and there weren’t even pigs for the devils to go into the bodies of, because everything was drowned except what was on the Ark). Today, there is only one devil per person.  Our modern life is actually less tempting, less dangerous, and less devils per capita than any time previous.

Maybe that’s why the world is a better place?

All of us, young and old, are faced daily with the war mentioned by President Monson. The enemy and his angels are trying to distract us.

And why do we have to call it war?  I’m opposed to calling it a “war on drugs” or a “war on Terror”.  Why does it always have to have the sharp imagery.  Why is it a “War in heaven” instead of the “Great eternal debate” still being discussed in our lives?  Instead of thinking of Angels with swords and devils assaulting youth on every side, we could talk in terms of philosophy and agency.  I mean, that was what the war in heaven was about, right; agency?  So we could couch it in terms of choices and decisions.  “The Great Decision”.   Let’s face it, God needs violent imagery to appeal to his base.  I’d rather be around people who will do good without threat and rhetoric, thank you.

The scriptures contain countless examples of those who have won their wars even in the midst of very hostile situations.

Again, the scriptures have a lot more of this, than the quiet examples of people doing good even when tempted not to.  War appeals to the people who read scriptures.

Figuratively, all of us need to transform ourselves into modern Captain Moronis in order to win the wars against evil.

Ah yes, well, why not.  I mean, it’s like setting the standard that everyone needs to be a George Washington in order to get to heaven.  It’s unreachable, because he was extraordinary, and yet feels tangible.  And when we fall short, we can blame ourselves to go through the guilt cycle again.

He told me one day he was surprised by a very difficult and uncomfortable situation—his friends were accessing pornographic images on their cell phones. In that exact moment, this young man had to decide what was most important—his popularity or his righteousness.

See, it’s all about pornography.  And yet, science tells us that this very idea, that “pornography is a great threat” is far more damaging to people than viewing a boob.

In the few seconds that followed, he was filled with courage and told his friends that what they were doing was not right. Moreover, he told them that they should stop what they were doing or they would become slaves to it.

And there you have it.  This kid pushed his friends more towards a damaging mindset because of his religion.  Far more damaging than the image itself.

Undoubtedly, he and his friend faced mockery and persecution because of that decision.


Oh and while we’re at it, if one tells others harmful meme’s and attempts to enforce their beliefs on others, if those others do not comply or make a statement back, then the one enforcing their beliefs on others is persecuted.  We see this with Kim Davis at the courthouse.  Some day, religious people need to get over themselves and understand that standing for truth doesn’t mean decrying other people’s choices, it means doing what they feel is right.

The war of good against evil will continue throughout our lives since the adversary’s purpose is to make all people as miserable as he is.

And yet, being miserable in church, or in the temple is never used as an example of an accurate measurement that the devil was there.  To suggest such a thing is shocking to any member.  And yet, some people genuinely are miserable in church, in the temple, or being around people who enforce their beliefs on others.  This is just rhetoric to try to bolster those who  try to enforce their religion on others.

Please stop.  Stop with war rhetoric.  Stop with implying that you are better than everyone else if you are part of the church.  Stop with encouraging your members to smack down their friends and relations.  Stop with calling the world wicked, evil and getting worse all the time.

For a group that claims to have good news and to be about families and an eternal perspective, you spend a ton of time dwelling on the awful state of everyone else.


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40 Talks in 40 Days – The Greatest Generation of Young Adults, Elder M. Russell Ballard

The Greatest Generation of Young Adults

What we need now is the greatest generation of young adults in the history of the Church. We need your whole heart and soul.

Pandering.  Flattery.  And what do they ask in exchange for the flattery, that’s right, he asks for their whole heart and soul.  There is no clearer definition of a cult, than the introduction to this talk.  Find young people, malleable people, get their trust, and flatter them for exact obedience and giving over of their free will to you.

During the October 2002 general priesthood meeting, I challenged bishops, parents, and prospective missionaries to “raise the bar” for full-time missionary service.

Here’s the problem, this is measurable.  Not what the bar was raised to, heaven only knows what that means, but rather whether raising the bar was effective.  Similarly there was a pure increase in number of missionaries during the age drop.  The impact of both raising the bar and increasing raw numbers is measurable and the measurements aren’t good:

Data and analysis provided by:

Not exactly stunning is it?  That’s a pretty flat graph there at the end.  I doubt you could even tell when the “raise the bar” edict was given, or when the surge occurred.  Nevertheless, the Deseret news reported a success, because the missionaries themselves were affected.  Got that?  Again the goal is to “convert” the missionary, or another way of saying that is to “Have members spend a predominant amount of time in conversion activity” and that the primary focus is the convincing of the teacher.  These are indicators on the BITE model of defining a cult.

“… We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”1

I know this is crazy, but what if the “whisperings of the spirit” are no different than what other cults use to motivate their members?  For example

If you jump to 5 m 28s, you’ll hear a woman bear testimony that she is a plural wife, and it is true, then a muslim, and others from other faiths.

In many ways the world today is more challenging than it was 13 years ago. Our young men and young women have many more distractions to sidetrack them in their preparations for both a mission and a future happy life. Technology has expanded, and almost everyone has access to handheld devices that can capture the attention of the human family of God for both great good and unconscionable ill.

Everything Good is of the Church, and everything that could distract you from the Church is evil.  We’re back to the BITE model of cults.

In the early days of the Church, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before they went on their missions.

This is left ambiguous for a reason.  Joseph Smith Jr. did no such thing, nor did Brigham Young.  Joseph F. Smith was sent on a mission to avoid the law, for example after he hit a constable.  But whatever, “early days” I guess could be 1905.

These days you are interviewed to serve as missionaries by your bishops and stake presidents, and most of you will go through your entire lives without being interviewed by a General Authority.

A gentle reminder of how impersonal the religion has become.

That is simply a reflection of the reality in a worldwide church of more than 15 million members.

The 15 million here is used to brag.  Approximately 5 million are active, but the real number that matters is the 80,000 missionaries for only 200 or so General Authorities.  For each GA to meet with a missionary, they would need to meet about 1 a day, and that would leave very little time for managing real-estate investments, Elk Ranches, and shopping malls.  Or they’d have to pay for more men to be General Authorities.  Ya know, have seventies devoted specifically to missionary interviews.  Crazy idea, huh?

Your photograph comes up on a computer screen, together with key information provided by your bishop and stake president. When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly.

This is partially true.  In fact, there is a white list of missionaries who are pre-assigned.  They are never reviewed, but assigned by computer.  There is a list of missionaries who are flagged as needing a human to review them.  These missionaries go through the process outlined above.  People with medical conditions, or missions that have a special need, or individuals who have a particular trait are identified and hand selected.

Source:  Someone who helped build the computer system.

No, it isn’t the same as a personal, face-to-face interview. But it’s close.

No, it isn’t close.  It isn’t even in the same category.  Imagine you applied for a job, and when you applied you found out that you were hired as the janitor because the HR person looked at your picture and decided what job was best for you.  If you are female you might feel like some sexism could have occurred.  If you are black, native american or have a disfigured face, you might think that human prejudice would be sufficient to levee a lawsuit.

I wonder if anyone has looked into if the “Spirit” places non-white people in less desirable missions more frequently than white females who are attractive.  I wonder if there is a gender/racial lawsuit waiting to happen by this “near interview” method of selecting people.  In the 50’s, this had a name, it was “Discrimination”.

In fact, we see it even on resumes with the exact same qualifications just by the name at the top of the resume.  The LDS method, if non-discriminatory, would be something to parade about and really shout from the rooftops.  However, if it actually was laden with discrimination, it would be a heavy blow to the idea of inspiration.  I wonder if anyone will ever attempt to measure it.


The religion gets a lot more cult-like for missionaries.  It is stated that the organisation wants their hearts and souls blatantly.  Increases in “the bar” or numbers did not impact conversion rates. Member should understand that when they send their children off on missions, they are sending them into a cult-programming program and the church openly admits that.  Nevertheless this machine for turning thinking high-schoolers into devoted salespeople of the corporation doesn’t even warrant having dedicated General Authorities to make it a little more human.



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40 Talks in 40 Days – Look for the Possibility of Bias Dallin H. Oaks

We’re going to take a break from the “All General Conference Talks” but hold to “All General Authority” talks that are significant for today.  Thanks to user latterdayskeptic at Reddit for capturing the audio and transcribing this portion of Dallin H. Oaks’ talk:

You see these men who have been called by the Lord and their lives are an open book. Their motives and their experiences are transparent to you. You know over a period of time, you sustain them in their callings, you know where they came from, what they’ve done in their life. Look at these men. She was motioning to her husband and others similarly situated. She said, now, will you choose to believe them or are you going to choose to believe somebody that went on television and made a comment or somebody that recorded something in the internet anonymously. You don’t even know. Who do you choose to believe? These that you know, whose credentials and motives and experiences are transparent or some anonymous figure on the internet or somebody whose motive you don’t understand.You don’t know the background. [Possibly incorrect transcription here: 13:30] Now she, her husband, and I have both been educated as lawyers. One thing a lawyer has to know is that if somebody tells you something you’ve got to examine the possibility of bias or intent that causes them to say something that is not true. We have had that kind of experience. And so I share with you, brothers and sisters, especially with my young brothers and sisters, look for the possibility of bias, look for the possibility of evil motive, look for the possibility of stupidity because some people preach and wax eloquent about things that they don’t know anything about, and that is another part of my experience [don’t understand, 14:18] with that talk. [audience laughs]

I’ve included some very relevant links for each of the things he said, I could have included more on the deceitful motives from links to the church buying up 2% of Florida, to bailing out businesses with tithing funds, or missing accounting for funds,

We could talk about their prior careers and how they could never have made as much money or have as much status there as they do in their current positions.  We could discuss the total lack of accountability for these men

This entire talk is an appeal to authority.  We know so very little about the apostles, but one feels like they know them from seeing them on TV.  How many children does Elder Ballard have?  What kind of Surgery did Gordon B. Hinkley’s Great Grand daughter have? What is the number one expenditure of Russel M. Nelson?  What is his favorite drink at a party?  Which is the one and only Seventy who does not fly first class?

We feel like we know them, but we do not.  This is con-artistry, pure and simple.  The art of making you Confident (hence the “Con” root in “con-artistry”)  in someone you should be questioning.

As soon as the church releases its financials since 1959 for public review, then maybe he might have a leg to stand on to say that we know their motives.  Until that day; all we know is that they take money and are secretive about it.

The link to the audio is here:

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40 Talks in 40 Days – The Lord is my Light, Quentin L. Cook

The Lord Is My Light

Our ability to stand firm and true and follow the Savior despite the vicissitudes of life is greatly strengthened by righteous families and Christ-centered unity in our wards and branches.

Especially if those changes of fortune (What a vicissitude is) come from the CPA of your hospital giving all the money to a private shell corporation so that your level of care is greatly diminished, eh?

The clamor that reverberates across the earth because of worldly wickedness creates feelings of vulnerability.

“Worldly Wickedness” is such an interesting choice of words.  Is there such a thing as “Heavenly Wickedness”?  I think most people would answer “of course not”, so then we can look at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, or Joseph Smith removing consent from relationships with women around him and quickly call that “worldly wickedness”, as murder of innocents and non-consensual relationships cannot be called anything but wickedness.  “Worldly Wickedness” is meant to claim everything done that is bad outside the church while at the same time implying everything inside the church is just fine.

With modern communication the impact of iniquity, inequality, and injustice leaves many feeling that life is inherently unfair.

Another fascinating line, as without modern communication I’m pretty sure that Hobbes still wrote that life was “nasty, brutish and short”.  I think he means that modern news outlets paint the world bleaker than it actually is, but that’s not what he said.


As significant as these trials can be, they must not distract us from rejoicing in and celebrating Christ’s supernal intercession in our behalf.

Eat, drink and be merry; for tomorrow, when we die it’ll be just fine because God.

Seriously though, this is a pretty good Easter talk for any Christian faith.  It is filled with hope, it focuses on Christ, it gives a nod to his wife and finding hope in unexpected and dreary places.  He seamlessly flows into a sweet story about family and faith.  His Jab at Ordain Women was so subtle it could be easily overlooked or missed

Husbands and wives are equal partners.13 They have different but complementary responsibilities. The wife may bear children, which blesses the entire family. The husband may receive the priesthood, which blesses the entire family. But in family council, wives and husbands, as equal partners, make the most important decisions.

He cites the handbook a number of times as though it were doctrine, moving Christ and Family to be all about the church:

“The Church provides the organization and means for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of God’s children. It provides the priesthood authority to administer the ordinances of salvation and exaltation to all who are worthy and willing to accept them.”15

An interesting move from a doctrinal standpoint, but he stays well in safe zones of what the handbook says without touching controversial points.

In the world there is rampant contention and iniquity and a major emphasis on divergent cultures and inequality. In the Church, except for language units, our wards and branches are geographical. We don’t divide by class or rank.16 …Cultures often divide people and are sometimes a source of violence and discrimination.17

This is a fascinating statement, it makes it sound like culture is separate from church; and that the LDS church surpasses class and division.  The errors in the world come from people having “culture”, a statement I’ve never heard expressed that way before.  It ignores those who are “cultural mormons” and I would argue removes the often used excuse “The Church is true, the people are flawed” as here the people in the church are held up as classless, non-divided entities of perfect harmony.  One need only visit any ward or branch in the world and become friends with a relief society president to know this is not true.

But it also ignores a selection bias or two.  Missionaries almost always have success among the middle class in whatever country they are in.  The message itself speaks primarily to family-oriented individuals who have enough discretionary income to give 10% to the organization.  The anti-abortion and sexual fidelity stances of the church appeal to a more morally conservative group.  One of the reasons there are not more divisions of culture in the church is that it weeds out other cultures.

Further, the church just excommunicated a set of people who held a different culture.  You can’t honestly say there are no divisions in the church, if you just divided groups of people who don’t think like you.  That is the very definition of “division”.  And it was “in the church” until those people were thrown out.


Without the context of the contemporary events this talk is a decent Easter talk taking Christ’s sacrifice and using it to bolster family and church-first focus.  But with context, it becomes clear that this is a manipulation of telling anyone who believed that John Dehlin, Kate Kelly, Rock Waterman, or Denver Snuffer had a point, that they are in danger of losing family and ultimately rejecting Christ if they don’t comply.  It eliminates differences of opinion and sets any kind of individual thought as a “worldy culture” and equates worldliness with wickedness; while ignoring church-led crimes.  It is a 1984-style talk to bring compliance out of the membership and crush individuals who think differently.

And that’s a pretty awful way to use Easter celebration.

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