Archive for February, 2007

Chastity

February 26, 2007

I wish to compare, in light of the previous article, what conservative Christians believe in chastity and what the LDS church believes in chastity.

Both the LDS church and conservative Christians believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Where we differ is simply on polygamy: We believe that Abraham and all the prophets that took second or more wives were not sinning but obeying a commandment of God. (We do not believe that King David or King Solomon practiced plural marriage properly, taking too many wives, concubines, and marrying outside of Israel in contradiction to the Law of Moses.)

Both the LDS church and conservative Christians do not endorse any sexual practices outside of marriage. Homosexuality, pre-marital sex, extra-marital relations are all perversions of the faculties that God gave us, and doing these things is a very grave sin, second to murder and third to denying the Holy Ghost, the most abominable of all sins.

Both the LDS church and conservative Christians believe that abortion is wrong. Special exceptions may be given considering the life of the woman or if the child is a product of rape or incest, but only with a confirmation of the spirit given to the mother and her church leader. Many conservative Christians believe that all forms of abortion are wrong for any purpose.

Both the LDS church and conservative Christians believe that pornagraphy is doing the world great harm. We also believe that if it weren’t for all the sexual sins being committed, our families, our nation, and our world would be a much better place to live in because everyone would have a strong family they are a member in where they can learn God’s love from their parents and siblings. We believe that a nation that is sinning is under God’s condemnation.

The LDS church believes in eternal marriage, which is simply marriage that extends into eternal spheres. We believe we hold the keys to bind a man and a woman and their children into an eternal family. I believe many conservative Christians believe they are also part of an eternal family, or at least wish they could be. I am fairly certain that no other church teaches this is possible. however.

We do not believe that the standards of morality or the sanctity of marriage and sexual relations should ever be relaxed, even a little bit. We believe that we live in an age where these things are under a constant barrage, and that if we are not careful what we watch, listen to, say, or do, we may be caught in its net.

However, we also believe that sexual sin is not unforgivable, that the Lord can and will forgive those who truly repent, turn to Him, take up His cross, and completely forsake their sins. Is it an easy path? No. Is it possible, though? Absolutely.

Thus, we condemn the sin, knowing that the sinner is capable of repenting and becoming an equal with us in God’s kingdom.

Plural Marriage

February 26, 2007

One thing that is identified with the LDS church is our history of plural marriage or polygamy. I am quite proud of my history as I am descended from the 12th wife of Archibald Gardner.

I hope to dispel all myths and misconceptions of plural marriage in the LDS church, as best I can.

First, are we still practicing it? No! The church has a very strict policy that plural marraige cannot be practiced in the church, even if it is legal.

There are some people in Utah and elsewhere who claim to be mormons and who are practicing it. You will note that these are not members of the LDS church but their own church that they have formed. They may claim to be spiritual heirs to Joseph Smith, but I do not believe that they are.

Let’s move beyond this simple fact and into the history of plural marriage in the LDS church.

Before we do, I wish to emphasize the role of the family in the LDS church. The church believes that families can be eternal units. We believe that we are all part of the direct family of God, He as our Father, and we as His children. Men and women in the church, once married, are considered as one and should be united in all things. Children, although a challenge to raise properly, are considered part of our eternal blessings in salvation. Indeed, we believe that God’s purpose and work is to bring to pass the salvation of his children. If that is what God does, we should make our work and purpose to save our children as well. And that is the only source of real and lasting joy.

Now, what is plural marriage as practiced by the LDS church in the past? It is simply this: A man can take an additional wife if (a) he can support her and her (current or future) children, (b) is completely worthy, (c) has permission from his current wife (or wives), and (d) is permitted by God as revealed by the prophet.

In some cases, God commands men through the prophet to marry an additional wife, sometimes someone in particular. In most cases, the men petitioned the prophet first as moved by personal revelation.

The first great misconception is that these plural wives served as a sort of harem. Nothing could be further than the truth. As a wife, you have claim on your husband not only for your material support, but for the support of your children. As a wife, you share equally in your husband’s enterprises, both spiritually and physically. Husbands can only exercise their authority in the home through persuasion, patience, sincerity, and temperance, and of course, Christ-like love. This is anything but a harem, where women are kept as little more than slaves to titillate the desires of their husbands.

Besides, if the founders of the LDS church wanted to gratify themselves sexually, why would they put so many restrictions on plural marriage and why would they give so many rights and powers to the wives? Why not rescind the Law of Chastity and allow men and women to engage in whatever sexual practice they desired?

So, what was going through the minds of a man when he wanted to get married to an additional wife? I can think of only one reason. Either they were being obedient to the will of God (if they were commanded to take additional wives), or they were intent on raising even more children righteously.

Let me talk about how the practice started. As near as I can tell, a few years before Joseph Smith was martyred, he enquired of the Lord on matters of marriage and salvation. In response, the Lord gave a revelation that outlined the plan of salvation and what role marriage has therein. In that plan, he also taught about what eternal marriage was and how it should be practiced. He also taught of what plural marriage was and how it should be practiced. Then the Lord commanded Joseph to take additional wives.

Yes, this sounds crazy. I don’t blame you for thinking it is. However, many things the LDS church had done up to this point was simply crazy if you look at it from the worldly perspective. Ultimately, I believe we will understand the will of God in these matters and we would be silly to think any other way was possible.

Joseph initially rejected the injunction by the Lord at the end of the revelation. He loved his wife more than anything else in the world, and he feared he would break her heart when he told her. The Lord was adamant, and warned Joseph that he had to convey the revelation or he would risk getting cut off. So Joseph reluctantly complied.

He announced to his wife the revelation. She consented, calling it the will of the Lord. Then he announced it to a few very senior members of the leadership, all of them devout and loyal to the church. Hyrum Smith, his brother and life-long confidant, nearly fell away from the church because of it. However, after a test of his faith, he came to believe in it as well.

The point of this story is that it wasn’t as if Joseph Smith ran home and told his wife that he could have his own private harem. It wasn’t anything of the sort. It was a very difficult revelation to bear, the kind of burden that prophets wished they didn’t have to carry.

Now, at the time it was first practiced, the membership at large was not told about it and it was kept secret from the world. And that’s about the time he got martyred.

After this, the mormons were driven out of the United States and migrated to the Salt Lake Valley, then a part of Mexico (but soon to be claimed by the United States.) There, they practiced plural marriage.

My grandfather was one of those driven out of the United States. He practiced plural marriage and had 12 wives. I am a descendant of the 12th. If he did not marry 12 wives, I would not be alive today.

I want to talk about the living arrangements of plural wives at that time. With so much area to spread out, and a commandment from God to do so, husbands would get some land, build a house and a store or a mill or something, and give it to one of their wives. Then they would visit each of their wives and do what needed to be done to keep the place functional. In the case of the 12th wife of Archibald Gardner, she was given a mill up in a town called Afton, Wyoming. She lived far, far away from the other wives.

Now, as Utah began petitioning to become a state, the Republican Party discovered the practice of polygamy and began condemning it and whipping up the population with lies and false rumors about it. Some of the first elected representatives to the US Congress from Utah had multiple wives. Inevitably, it led to conflict.

Pressure mounted, the US passed laws forbidding plural marriage, and they used federal troops to enforce it. Many of the practitioners were caught and thrown in jail, for crimes they committed before the law was even passed! This is, of course, a violation of the ex-post facto clause in the Constitution. It was even questionable whether the federal government, according to the Constitution of the United States, could pass these kinds of laws.

During this time, despite the assets of the church being seized, the leaders of the church either being imprisoned or on the run, the church did not rescind its policy. In fact, I believe that after the law was passed there were still plural marriages being performed in Mexico and Canada. (I believe Mitt Romney is descended from one of these marriages.) This shows that the church simply does not buckle under social pressure. They were willing to give it all up–including their freedom and property–only to obey a commandment.

The revelation did come, eventually, that the practice of plural marriage should cease church-wide. This upset a lot of people who believed in the practice, of course. These people left the church and formed their own churches just to practice polygamy. Many of them are still around today, and still running from the federal prosecutors. But in the LDS church, the practice was ended, and it is pretty clear that it will never be practiced again.

Now, does the LDS church still believe in plural marriage? Absolutely. I believe that it is part of God’s plan, that the way it was practiced in the LDS church was correct, and that the people who practiced it are under no condemnation for it. It is still in our scripture as doctrine. Plural marriage is not going away in our church, any more than Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon can.

But will you ever find someone in the LDS church with a second wife? No. We are forbidden to practice it, removing one of the critical conditions for it. Anyone who is practicing it is practicing a perverted form of it, because they are doing it without God’s permission.

I’ll answer questions if you have them.

Go See Amazing Grace… Right Now!

February 26, 2007

I took my wife out on a rare date to see Amazing Grace this past Friday at the Supermall theaters. It costs a family of 6 a bit more to get out. But this was worth every penny.

I hadn’t been taught much about William Wilberforce or the  abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. Or perhaps I was but I happened to be sleeping in class that day. Regardless, I wonder why this important story isn’t preached from the rooftops to inspire our children to be the best they can be!

The story is one of power–of the power of doing what’s right when everyone around is locked in their ways. It is a story of persuasion and influence and patience. It is a story of the power that a few good men intent on something wonderful have in accomplishing it. It is a story I will long remember.

It also reminds me that the sacrifices that were born for freedom weren’t only born on black shoulders. There were a few noble white men who fought and perservered when they could’ve laid back and let the status quo continue. I wish to be counted among that group as well one day.

Mormons and Racism

February 22, 2007

I have heard again the accusation of racism levelled at the LDS church and its members.

Are there racists in the church? Most likely. (You can probably find murderers, adulterers, and homosexuals as well.) Is racism condoned? No, it is vehemently condemned, and those who have racist tendencies run the risk of being excommunicated unless they repent.

Racism is completely incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS church.

What follows is my interpretation and my limited understanding of the church and its issues. Don’t take it as gospel. My intent is to explain what I have learned and what I believe so that you can see how the issue of racism is handled internally.

The charge of racism often comes because of the LDS history with blacks and the priesthood. Let me introduce this subject in the easiest way possible: by being completely honest with you.

First, what is this “priesthood” the Mormons talk about?

The priesthood is power from God given to man. God controls the priesthood through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ dispenses it to men through the laying on of hands. The priesthood is what allows the church to do anything in the name of God or Jesus. Without it, there would be no church at all. How could you create a church of God without the power of God?

Joseph Smith received the priesthood by the laying on of hands directly from Peter, the apostle of Jesus. (Peter received it likewise directly from Jesus.) Joseph Smith then distributed that priesthood to faithful men, and they in turn distributed it as well. Always it is done in accordance with the will of God. Trying to use the priesthood in contradiction to the will of God is an exercise in futility and damnation.

Joseph Smith also gave the priesthood to a few black men.

Under the leadership of President Brigham Young, Joseph’s successor whom we revere as a prophet as much as Joseph Smith, it was revealed that the descendants of Ham (whom the black people are) should not to have the priesthood because of their special curse which would be lifted in the future. President Young then made a church policy that the priesthood not be given to anyone who is a descendent of Ham, or in other words, who is black.

What is this curse of Ham? I do not know very well. What I do know is that in the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites were cursed with a different curse. However, the Lord also gave them a special blessing. This hints at a pattern: The Lord blesses and curses in balance when it comes to distinct races. I do not know what the blessing in proportion to the curse for the Hamites was. I have heard that it may have been their enhanced intelligence and wisdom. If this is true, then the LDS doctrine would be that black people are inherently smarter than white people.

If you aren’t doing a double-take, then you should be. Let me repeat: my understanding is that the church doctrine states that black people are inherently smarter than white people.

Now, intelligent readers will go, “Wait a minute, Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black men against the will of God then!” Well, probably yes. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that we can’t be judged for what we don’t know, and Joseph may not have known at the time. Or perhaps Joseph did know, he didn’t tell anyone, and he got special permission for the black men he ordained.

Well, the revelation was given, and it was clear that the curse would be lifted in the future. When, though? There are several records of various church presidents (prophets along the lines of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc…) petitioning the Lord to lift the curse. There are records of the Lord responding, “Not now.”

In the 1970’s, President Spencer W. Kimball was moved to ask again. The answer came, and it was “Ok.” Immediatelly, he announced the revelation and the resulting change in policy. And immediately, faithful blacks who were already members of the church were given the priesthood. The doors for preaching the gospel in Africa were opened. Today, the church is rapidly growing in Africa.

Now, there is great speculation, outside of the church, that President Kimball was simply responding to social pressures. I believe this speculation is unfounded. There is ample evidence that the church does not respond to social pressure, no matter how severe. Why would they respond in this one instance when there are much larger issues?

I wish to season the above history with another bit of history. I believe this will show the true heart of mormons and their feelings towards racism.

In the 1920’s, the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its popularity. It was spreading like wildfire in the US. However, there were a few states that weren’t taking to the KKK. These states included mostly LDS states–Utah, Idaho, etc… The KKK redoubled its efforts. The church and its members actively opposed them, publishing anti-KKK literature, exposing them for the evil that they were and so on. The KKK and the LDS church became bitter enemies.

So, even at a time in our nation’s history when being racist was “cool”, the LDS church and mormons did not embrace it. In fact, they fought it. My ancestors were anti-racist even when being anti-racist wasn’t cool. Can you say the same for your ancestors?

Here are a few more thoughts on the issue of mormons and racism.

  1. It is very possible that one of the books of the Book of Mormon was written by a descendent of Ham, making at least one descendant of Ham part of our accepted body of canonical prophets.
  2. Mormons were persecuted in Missouri in the late 1800’s for, among other things, being opposed to slavery.
  3. Even though the priesthood could not be given to blacks, that does not mean that God did not call prophets among them! There are remarkable stories of groups of faithful believers forming spontaneously in Africa under the direction of prophets who taught that the LDS church was true.
  4. There were many blacks who joined the church even though they knew they could not get the priesthood. These people understand better than anyone about racism and the LDS church. Find one and ask them.
  5. During the civil rights era, while the issue of civil rights was being intensely debated, the LDS church and its members worked vigorously to support reform. I don’t think the members have ever been so active in politics since. Note that this occurred before President Kimball’s revelation on blacks and the priesthood.

I hope this clarifies a lot. As always, I am proud of my religious heritage, and I have nothing to be ashamed of, even when it comes to this aspect of our history.

Mormon Wars

February 20, 2007

I want to address a common charge that has poisoned the minds of the anti-Mormons. It is simply that the LDS church is a church of murders and wars.

This complaint is not new. The short answer is that, yes, mormons have killed and will kill again. But we are only allowed to kill under specific circumstances. These include the defense of our life, the lives of our family, friends, and neighbors, or property. It also includes fighting in wars for our country.

The LDS church is strict: we abide by all laws of our country, whether we like them or not.  In fact, in countries where it is illegal to preach or worship, we do not preach or worship. That also means that if our country declares war, we also declare war. This resulted in mormons fighting mormons in World War II as there were mormons in Germany and the United States.

Now, as for allegations of mormons murdering in Missouri or Illinois back in the latter half of the 19th Century, I hope to lay this to rest. You have before you plenty of historical resources from which you can draw historical facts. You can go read about the Missouri Mormon Extermination Order, where mormons could be shot on sight. You can go read about the President of the United States refusing to send troops to Missouri and Illinois to stop the violence. You can also read about the various militias that were raised, legally and lawfully, and put under the command of the state authorities in those states.

Let me give you the short version. There were people who hated the mormons, hated them so much that they would kill them. A particularly painful event in our history is the massacre at Haun’s Mill in Missouri, where a mob moved in and murdered in cold blood women, men, and children.

You can read about how assassins were sent after Joseph Smith and others, and how they were unsuccessful. In one instance, an assassion caught Joseph Smith alone in a barn. When confronted, Joseph Smith put his arms in the air and challenged him to fire his gun. The man fled, thankfully, giving Joseph a few more years of his life.

Was there a Mormon War in Missouri? Yes, there was. As mormons moved into Missouri, the natives began forming mobs and harrassing the mormons. To stop the fighting, the governor sent a general to raise troops and quell the violence. The troops raised were from the mormons, and they were ordered to disarm the mob. This involved violence, violence which was exaggerated until it reached the governor’s ears. Then the order came to disarm the mormons and arrest the leaders. The leaders surrendered and the mormon militia disbanded. Then came the Extermination Order. The leaders were carried away into a dismal, cold jail, where they barely survived the winter. The rest abandoned their belongings and moved to Illinois.

In Illinois, the church enjoyed a few years of relative peace, thanks to the generosity of the residents there. However, it wasn’t long before the mobs were stirred up, and war was about to break out between the lawfully organized Mormon Militia in Nauvoo, and the illegally rallied mob. Joseph Smith was summoned for trial, and like a lamb to the slaughter, he went. There, the mob broke into the jail, and murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum, martyring them.

The church was driven out of Illinois, once again abandoning their cities and their property. Once again, they had to flee through winter. Once again, they paid a heavy price in human lives. The trek across the plains was no picnic either. Not only did they who lived in Illinois have to flee, my own ancestors among them, but converts from England had to make the trek also to join the church in Salt Lake Valley.

I wish to share you a story of the faith of these converts. These were not frontiersmen like the earliest members were. These were city folk, usually of lower class. They took handcarts in companies, led by an able captain. The Willie and Martin Companies left a little late from their starting point. The captain cautioned them to stay the winter and try in the spring. They were willing to take the risk to spend that winter with the saints in the valley, and so he led them.

Caught in a terrible snowstorm outside of the valley, President Brigham Young heard the news and cancelled general conference to organize a rescue party. With great effort, and even the sacrifice of human lives, they brought the companies the last few miles into safety.

Even in the Salt Lake Valley, however, the persecution did not stop. Far away in Washington D.C., anti-mormons were spreading false rumors of the mormon’s intention to form a separate nation. A worried president dispatched federal troops to quell the rebellion. Yes, this was another war, a war that ended once again with the church surrendering. Luckily, no lives were lost on either side, but the mormons had to suffer a military base in the middle of their capitol city, complete with prostitution, gambling, and alcohol.

Whenever anyone sets their hand to do what is right, the hands of opposition are there to stop it. Anyone who has made an effort to do good knows this. The greatest acts of goodness are met with the greatest acts of violence and intolerance. The mormons were no exception to that rule.

As for intolerance, hatred, cruelty, and persecution, LDS members worldwide are familiar with these even today. LDS members are taught not to hate their enemies, but to love them. They are taught not to complain, but to praise God. We are taught to count themselves lucky to beaten with a few of the stripes that Christ was beaten with. We are taught to respond to all the intolerance and hatred and fear not with antipathy and violence, but with kindness and love and faith. That is the history of my ancestors and my church, and I am not ashamed of it.

Rep. Murtha, Man of Corruption

February 20, 2007

Liberals love to call President Bush names, and love to accuse the right of being corrupt. Of course, when their accusations do prove true, the right is quick to punish the guilty and them from office. Several ex-members of congress of the Republican Party are facing jailtime for their crimes because republican prosecutors and congressmen refused to tolerate their corruption.

Even in cases where corruption is not evident but only accused, the republican party is willing to wash their hands of the accused. This is the case of Rep. Tom DeLay, who is, in my mind, being charged with nothing at all. When he is cleared, I doubt the left will apologize for smearing his name. They have yet to apologize for being wrong about slavery, President Reagan, or the “Star Wars” program.

However, on the left, things are different. Corruption is ignored. Corruption is invited. In fact, it is celebrated.

In the case of Rep. Murtha, who avoided indictment for bribery by testifying against other members of his party, and who consistently brings home the bacon for his district through the now-hated earmarks, we see considerable corruption. And yet, he stands almost as second-in-command in the House. Indeed, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who is also corrupt) was upset when he didn’t get that position.

I know this is hard for the left to understand, but corruption exists in Washington D.C., and it is found mostly on the left side of the aisle. That is for one simple reason: the right side does not tolerate it, not even a little.

Corruption is bad because it creates corrupt people, people who would sell their country’s soldiers for a little political gain. When corruption reaches this extreme, it moves into outright treason.

Rep. Murtha is doing this right now. In my mind, if a congressman starts asking, “How do we lose this war?” he should be tried for treason. If a congressman starts putting into motion a plan to undermine the war, then he should be tried quickly before he can vote. I believe Rep. Murtha, and everyone else who wants us out of Iraq now, no matter how many delusions they have caused themselves to believe, should be tried.

If guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy, which I believe plotting the defeat of our troops is, they should be hung. Go ahead and show it on national TV, to all the little schoolchildren. I hope they have that image of that congressman dangling from the end of a rope, with the subtitle “Traitor Hung” below him burned into their memories. At least they will grow up knowing that treason is never tolerated, and that the constitution means something. Perhaps it will also scare off all the corrupt politicians who think they can violate the public’s trust and get away with it.

I don’t know why President Bush and the republicans are so nice to the opposition in this case. What favors can traitors possibly give us? What good can negotiation or compromise give, when they only want to see our young men’s mission nullified? What good can they do for the country? The longer they preach our defeat, the stronger our enemy will become. The longer they try to underfund and stop the reinforcement of our troops, the more American blood will be spilt.

Am I extreme in this view? If so, I hope always to be called extreme in the support of liberty, whether it be the right of the American people to live without fear of terrorists, or the right of the Iraqi people to have their own government. I will defend it even if it means pointing out those who wish to undermine it and calling for them to answer for their crimes against our country. In fact, I will even bear arms and kill our enemies, if need be, to secure our liberty.

I wish the left were half as enthusiastic about liberty.

How To Negotiate With The Enemy

February 20, 2007

I have heard too many times now that the left wants to negotiate from the enemy. This idea is so absurd you would think it was a bit of propaganda invented by the right. The reality is that it is the left that thinks we would all get along if we just all talked.

Forgetting the history of the 20th century, and forgetting everything we have ever learned since the beginning of time, and forgetting that such a thing as logic and reason exist, and that they dictate that negotiating with your enemies is impossible, let me illustrate in the simplest way possible what a negotiation with Iran or Al Qaeda or any of our enemies looks like.

Pres. Ahmedinajad:  President Bush, thank you for coming. We are here to negotiate the terms of your surrender.

Pres. Bush: Surrender? Excuse me, but I don’t think that was the original premise. We are coming here to discuss what it would take to get you to stop your nuclear program.

A: Well, I think we’ve been quite clear. We are demanding that the world blow up in a ball of flames to bring the 12th Imam to restore God’s law on earth. That is all we want. You die, we live. It will be much easier to kill you when you are dead.

B: This is insane. Why would we want to allow you to kill us at your pleasure? What we want is for you to join the 21st century, the world community, and become our closest ally, like Japan, Korea, and Germany. We want to send engineers and economists to your country to teach you how to create a free, productive society, where everyone can participate in their own future.

A: But you don’t understand. We don’t want those things. We want you to die. Now, there are a few scenarios I was imagining. Under scenario one, we distract the world using our puppet states while we finish building nuclear bombs. Then, we surprise you and set some off in your cities. Scenario two is much like that, except we blow up your allies in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Under either scenario, we are hoping to get a full nuclear war. You should note that we are working closely with Russia, who also wants to see the US cut down a few notches.

B: That’s unacceptable. Why would we give up those things if we are in the position of power? Shall I inform you of your predicament? You are standing on top of a political revolution about to hit your country. You are also stuck between two countries we currently occupy. Your puppet states have all but fallen in Africa. We possess unimaginable military might, and Russia is still a shadow of its former self, unable to even employ its scientists. We have two carrier groups sitting off of your coast, several air bases located not far from your borders, and an advanced satellite network. These things allow us to cripple your economy, destroy all the progress you’ve made towards a nuclear bomb, and also destroy your government, all in a few days of work. The United States will not rest until you no longer threaten the world with nuclear holocaust.

I may be missing a few things in this discussion, but let me be clear about how negotiations really work.

First, you need to come to the table willing to give something to get something. If what you are willing to give does not match what the other party wants, or if what you will get does not match what you want, then negotiations are dead on arrival. In the case of Iran, they want to destroy the world. If you think I am making this up, you haven’t been reading President Ahmedinajed’s speeches nor reading the religion of the Ayatollah Khomeini. In the case of the US, we simply want a peaceful world where people don’t go around killing each other.

When your negotiating goals do not line up, there is no negotiating. There is only conflict. You can try to convince one or the other parties to either shift their goals or be willing to offer something more, but that is usually pointless. Only when it has become apparent that one party has something you really need and you cannot accomplish your goals without it, then negotiations will happen.

In the case of the US-Iran conflict (and we are in conflict because our goals do not align), we can make it clear to Iran that their hope for world destruction will not happen. You could make it clear that you are willing to kill them to stop them. Of course, Iran could do the same to us. If the American hope of creating a peaceful world dies, then perhaps, they might reason, we can accomplish our goals.

It is clear that Iran is never going to come to the negotiation table with anything less than world annihilation as their top priority. They have said this on multiple occasions, and have never backed away from it. It is also clear that the US will never tolerate a world at war, but would rather have peace. Since Iran is not willing to give peace (it would frustrate their plans, obviously), and since we are not willing to allow Iran to destroy the world (it would frustrate our plans too), then we are not going to negotiate.

Socialism Sucks

February 17, 2007

Socialism sucks.

It sucks because it is inherently anti-freedom.

Did you know that there are people in Canada who are fined or imprisoned for helping their fellow Canadians? Yes, helping someone is a crime in Canada, thanks to socialism.

I wish I could drive this thought into the head of everyone I meet. Government works not by persuasion, but by coercion. That is, government makes you do things you would not otherwise do. That is why government is inherently evil. It is wrong to force people, correct? Well, if you believe in freedom, then government is the ultimate force against freedom.

I wish I could implant in every mind the thought that socialism is tyranny. Whether it is Saddam Hussein torturing and murdering his people, or socialist governments limiting the options of its people, it is the same tyranny! Yes, there are degrees of tyranny, and yes, Saddam defined new depths of that gauge, but socialism is not distant from his government!

Can we exist without government? No. It is an evil, a terrible evil, but a necessary one. I want you to go read the constitution once again. Note how it is not a set of shackles on the people, but a set of shackles on the government. It says, from the first sentence of the first paragraph, “This is what we will allow the government to do. Everything else is forbidden!”

Read the original Bill of Rights. It doesn’t talk about what people can’t do, but what government can’t do! Compare this to the bastardization of the concept of a “Bill of Rights” that you see today. A medical bill of rights wouldn’t limit government, but free citizens. An airline passenger wouldn’t limit government, but free citizens. Those aren’t bills of rights, but bills of wrongs! They empower government to do more, to manifest itself in more ways, to brutalize and torture and imprison more of our free people.

As far as nationalization, this is what it is. Government takes money from the people by force. If you do not pay, they take your property, imprison you, humiliate you, and punish you. Then, they use it to provide a substandard service. If you don’t like it, your complaints fall on deaf ears, and you can never revoke the program. If you want to do it better than government, you are imprisoned, fined, and punished. This is not freedom. This is tyranny!

If you believe in nationalized health care, or a government controlled single-payer insurance scheme, or in fact any controls on the medical industry, in any way shape or form, you are a believer in tyranny. You are empowering the government (which is the ultimate enemy of freedom) to intrude on our lives, taking our freedoms, and punishing us for helping each other. Socialism in all its forms sucks. It is evil. It is not liberty, but bondage! It is, as they say, the slow boat to communism, and we know how wonderfully that worked for the communist world! (If you believe otherwise, please, please, please stop complaining and move to Cuba. Communism is a wonderful educator on the evils of communism.)

If you want to see what nationalized health care will look like in a few years, you need no further than to look at other countries (UK and Canada being excellent examples) or to our public school system. This is what government does, and this is why tyranny in any shape is evil.

LDS Church and Science

February 17, 2007

I recently read an article about a Texas legislator who believes that the sun revolves around the earth. Now, understanding physics, I know that what he is saying is not correct. We know because we can observe plainly that the earth indeed rotates around the sun.

But this has brought to my mind the question of faith and science. It is apparent that many on both sides have fairy tale views of the other.

The LDS church believes that there is no conflict between religion and true science. That is, science that is correct. Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect science being passed off as correct science, for various reasons.

The LDS church believes that God is the ultimate scientist. We also believe that to become like God, we must also become the ultimate scientist. LDS members are encouraged to learn, learn, and learn some more. They are encouraged to keep learning, and never stop learning. We believe that in the afterlife, our education will still continue. We will learn until we have achieved the knowledge of all things, and that education may take several million years for all we know.

The LDS church also believes that there is a lot of error in the world. When I say “a lot”, I really mean, “Most of what you know is error.” Oddly enough, this is what physicists generally believe as well. Name one physicist who claims Quantum Mechanics is the be-all, end-all of physical knowledge. Name one physicist who doesn’t wish to see QM explained away, and replaced with a better theory. I doubt you can find one. Physicists, like LDS members, believe that man is stupid, and that even at our best we are little more than children. Sure, we discovered some interesting things, but there is so much more to this universe that we cannot even begin to understand, and we could spend the next million years studying it and probably not be better much off.

There are a lot of scientists who believe their eyes too much. They also believe their own reasoning too much. They also believe things that can be proven wrong or incomplete. They also teach things they know is incorrect. This is the state of science. I know you can find numerous examples of this behavior in any field, even Physics, and yes, even the LDS church.

In the church, we are taught that the simple doctrines, the ones that are clearly taught and clearly explained, are the absolutely correct ones. Everything else, whether derived by logic or interpretations, are possibly correct, and possibly incorrect. It is too difficult to sift through a logical argument, especially about religion, and there is the risk of concluding something incorrect. Rather, the LDS church itself preaches the simplest and absolutely correct principles of the gospel.

Outside of the church, in member’s private lives, there is a lot of speculation and reasoning and thinking. But we know that this is only mortal people trying to understand immortal things, and we know that we cannot trust our conclusions, even if they seem to support the message of the church, and especially when they don’t. The only time we can be sure of something is when we get a sure answer from God.

I understand why there is a perceived conflict between religion and science. On the one hand, you have a system of beliefs that interdepend on one another. Should even one of those beliefs be proven wrong, then the entire religion can be proven wrong. Hence, things like the earth circling the sun leading to a church executing the discoverer for fear of their entire church falling. (By the way, the Book of Mormon also teaches that the earth revolves around the sun.)

But on the other hand, science (as many practice it) is a system of beliefs, and should any of those beliefs be questioned or proven wrong, their entire stack of cards can come tumbling down.

Add to that people from both sides with antagonistic feelings, both scientist who feel they have a duty to prove religion wrong, and religionists who believe they have a duty to prove science wrong, and you get a nice conflict

We need not be in conflict, however. If religionists would build their religion on a sure foundation, then there would be nothing to attack. After all, what relation does the orbit of the sun or earth have to do with whether Christ is our Savior? Also, if scientist would stick to hard science, they would have no threat from religion. For instance, why does the theory of evolution have to be proven true to show that the scientific method works?

There is one final thing I wish to note. The LDS church preaches faith, but they also preach of faith becoming knowledge. See, faith is something you don’t know but believe. And knowledge is something you know. So LDS members believe that the principles they have faith in will eventually turn into a sure knowledge where belief is no longer necessary. As for myself, I can tell you that this is true. I have long ago stopped believing in God, because I know for myself and for a fact indisputable, that He is there and He is worthy of my trust. I no longer practice faith regarding this principle, any more than a student who has mastered Newtonian Mechanics and observed it in real life needs no longer to believe the principles he was taught because he knows they are correct.

A Church of Magic or Miracles?

February 17, 2007

I oftentimes hear comments about how fantastic and even outrageous the claims that the LDS church makes are. We have prophets, seers, revelators. We claim divine power given by divine beings. We claim a personal connection to God. We claim personal miracles in our lives. We claim the word of God beyond the Bible.

Yes, these are fantastic claims. But would you want your church to claim anything less?

For instance, on the topic of salvation, what gives any church the ability, through the power of their teachings, to elevate any man beyond their mortal, fallen state? If the church claims the power of men, then I say: Corruption cannot create incorruption. The church must claim some power beyond man, some superior power. That is the only way. In other words, only churches which preach fantastic claims and divine revelation and miracles can possibly be worthy of joining.

To all those churches who claims miracles, revelations, and God’s interference in our personal lives have ceased, I wonder why they have any members at all. I can only imagine it is like attending a seminar on how to get rich, when the speaker is neither rich nor has any knowledge of how to get rich, and believes that poverty is the only possible state of man! Or a restaurant that neither serves food or eats food, but instead teaches that there is no such thing as food!

To all those people who believe miracles, revelations, and God’s interference in our personal lives have ceased, I ask on what are you basing that observation? The scriptures are full of extraordinary claims and fantastic miracles. People around you are testifying of extraordinary events and fantastic miracles. Every serious observation comes to the same conclusion: there are people, a lot of them, who believe that religion is real, that God is real, and that faith is real. Or do you believe that you are somehow better off and more intelligent than all those “godbags”? Pride is a terrible sin, and worst of all is that the sinner believes that they have no sin!

As for my faith, I believe that there is a God who sits in heaven and rules over all creation. He is merciful and just, and he loves each of His children. He has not died nor been extinguished, nor has He left His children. He has spelled out exactly how to open the doors of miracles, and that door is faith–believing in things that you cannot possibly know or see, and acting accordingly.

Faith–this is a word that causes the left to tremble in fear. They are so insecure in the state of the universe that they dare not trust any principle, even scientifically proven ones, for fear of being disappointed. (They have been disappointed too often in their own faith in government and man.) Yet faith is absolutely critical for life. It’s something we practice everyday, even if we don’t believe we are. Faith in correct principles brings the desired results, while faith in incorrect principles brings surprises and frustration and cognitive dissonance.

We are a church of miracles, of revelation, of divine power and authority, because we have faith in correct principles. I am not afraid or ashamed to say it. We are right, we believe in correct principles, principles which can bring salvation! But I don’t hold it over your head condescendingly. I neither state that our church has a monopoly on correct principles. Many churches preach many correct truths. Instead, we send out tens of thousands of young men to preach our faith and to invite everyone to come, partake, and be equal enjoyers of our faith. Come, listen to our message of faith and hope, and come, join our church.

If what I am saying is true, and if Mitt Romney is a true believer in the principles that the LDS church teaches, then I have to ask: Why would that mean he should not be president? Wouldn’t you want a president that searched for truth, and when he finds it, believes it, practices it, and preaches it to the world? Wouldn’t you want someone who has faith in correct and true things, rather than one who does not?