President Gordon B. Hinckley Has Passed Away

January 28, 2008 at 11:32 am | Posted in Church, Gordon Hinckley, Mormon | 1 Comment

Numerous others are making their comments known, and I wanted to share mine too. I appreciate all that President Hinckley has done for the church. His efforts at public relations have cast the church in a much fairer and kinder light. He has pressed for more moderation and more mainstream acceptability. He has done much to show the world that we are regular people, not fringe extremists. His efforts will never be forgotten, not his 60 some odd years of service in the church. Few can claim to have served in the church for such great lengths of time. He loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he did all in his power to share that love of the Gospel. He radically increased the number of temples, including the designs of smaller temples for quicker construction and more access to these eternal and sacred buildings.

Thank you President Hinckley. Rest now from all your labors.

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The Council of Fifty

December 19, 2007 at 5:59 am | Posted in Blogroll, Mormon | 2 Comments

I recommend a new blog created in the Mormon Bloggernacle called The Council of Fifty. This new blog is intended to discuss politics and the role of Mormonism in the realm of the political. I am honored to have been invited to participate and invite all my readers to bookmark and visit often this new blog.

Fast Sunday Cometh

November 3, 2007 at 11:07 am | Posted in American politics, Church, Fast Sunday, fasting, Mormon | Leave a comment

danithew on Mormon Mentality came up with a great idea to remind us to prepare for Fast Sunday. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, every first Sunday of the month is Fast Sunday, wherein we are to fast for two meals (or twenty four hours). Though it isn’t specified to fast exactly twenty four hours, many people do to show an increased faith. The last two or so hours tend to be the hardest. One time on my mission, we held a mission wide fast on the first Sunday of August in 1996. That Sunday was a particularly hot day, and those last two hours were miserable. But we were fasting to find someone that month and baptize him by the end of the month. My companion and I were the only ones in the mission to have accomplished just that. We found a young man through a member family and baptized him on August 31.

With the fast, we also provide a fast offering to the church, money to be used to help those in need. Generally the fast offering is to cover the amount we would have spent on the food we would have eaten in those two meals. It is recommended that we give a generous fast offering though. This money assists members of the ward who are in dire need, and it is definitely needed.

Fasting on the first Sundays also gives us a chance to ask of the Lord, through fasting and prayer, for assistance in some manner, whether for ourselves or for others who need the Lord in their lives. In Matthew 17 we learn an important lesson about praying and fasting:

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Why can’t prayer alone do it? Probably because it requires preparation. Even the Lord’s closest disciples need to prepare to be in tune with the Spirit in order to accomplish the will of the Lord. And that’s where this post of mine comes in. Fast Sunday requires preparation. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said of fasting without preparing:

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation.

There is no point in going fasting without praying, and there is no point in just praying if you don’t know what you are praying for, in this regard.

Fast for a purpose other than to go starving.

Elder Joseph B. Worthlin continues:

Fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions.

Fasting and prayer can help us in our families and in our daily work. They can help us magnify our callings in the Church. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “If you want to get the spirit of your office and calling as a new president of a quorum, a new high [councilor], a new bishop [or, I might say, a Relief Society president]—try fasting for a period. I don’t mean just missing one meal, then eating twice as much the next meal. I mean really fasting, and praying during that period. It will do more to give you the real spirit of your office and calling and permit the Spirit to operate through you than anything I know.” 4

And that is its strength. It helps us improve. It helps us get closer to God. It helps us get further away from worldly passions and desires. These are good things to do. Our lives would improve with each fast.

So as today is the day before the fast, I recommend to all my readers to prepare for the fast. Think about the things you need from the Lord. Think about the Lord. Pray that you get closer to Him.

Why Did Ananias and Sapphira Have to Die…

October 11, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Church, Mormon | 9 Comments

if entry (and supposedly exiting) into the fold of Christ, and into the early version of the United Order was voluntary? In Acts chapter 5, we read:

1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

If entry into this system is voluntary, then why did they have to die? Was their crime really worthy of death?

Was Enoch’s Zion Voluntary or Compulsory?

October 8, 2007 at 5:28 am | Posted in Christianity, Enoch, Mormon, zion | 7 Comments

In our dispensation, the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, much of our debate about religion and governance takes either the side of “freedom” or the side of “slavery.” At least that is how some would like to frame the debate. I am curious though about an aspect of “Zion” in regards to governance.

Moses wrote:

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

Much has been written about the United Order and its failure to even get off the ground. President J. Reuben Clark had this to say about the United Order:

“”The fundamental principle of this system was the private ownership of property. Each man owned his portion, or inheritance, or stewardship, with an absolute title, which he could alienate, or hypothecate, or otherwise treat as his own. The Church did not own all of the property, and the life under the United Order was not a communal life, as the Prophet Joseph, himself said, (History of the Church, Volume III, p. 28). The United Order is an individualistic system, not a communal system.” (President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. on The United Order and Communism, 113th Semi-Annual Conference, October 1942

I’m wondering, did the United Order fail BECAUSE it was all voluntary and your property was still your own? Or because they were not all of one heart and one mind? It seems a lot of pieces must be perfectly together in order to get Zion.

So I’m curious, was Enoch’s Zion voluntary or compulsory? Did they fully relinquish all rights to what was “theirs” for the community? Is the key element to running this operation an individual who is spotless before God, has no materialistic desire, and complete charity of his fellow men? Certainly from the little we have on Enoch, he doesn’t sound like a man who cared much for worldly possessions. Or does something like this only work in a simpler environment? How much advertising did they have back in Enoch’s days, advertising that so easily tempts us to get material possessions we really don’t actually need? Who doesn’t want a Lexus RX 330 hybrid? How easily will you allow someone else to drive what you paid for?

Bill Sali Is Against the Constitution of the United States of America

August 16, 2007 at 1:20 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Christianity, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Evangelicals, Mormon, Religion, Republicans, secret combinations | 1 Comment

Here is Article VI of the United States Constitution:

All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

And here is Congressman Representative Bill Sali:

“I think that Keith deserves a call from me — not necessarily because of what’s in my heart or in my mind, but because of how it’s been portrayed,” Sali said.

But Sali said he does think the country’s Founding Fathers created a government based on Christian principles and that the best course into the future is to follow those ideas.

The country’s creators fought for the “principles found in Scripture,” he said. “The dangerous part is straying from these principles.

“The idea that somehow we can move to multiculturalism and still remain the same — I think that’s a little dangerous, too,” he said. “From my standpoint, I believe the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian, and the God they were talking about is the God of the Bible.”

That is an explanation over these earlier comments:

We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Clearly Mr. Sali is delusional and ignorant. I’m curious what conservative Mormons in Idaho who he represents think about him…

For example, here is a Founding Father who differed with Mr. Sali, some guy named Thomas Jefferson, who said:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

I’m gonna side with Thomas Jefferson on this one, personally.

Romney Still Supports Torture

May 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Gitmo, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War | 8 Comments

In tonight’s Republican debate, Romney signaled that he still supports Bush’s “enhanced techniques” which as McCain rightly pointed, amounts to torture. Chris Cillizza has the details.

McCain went first. He rejected the use of torture to obtain information, citing his experience in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. “It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us,” McCain said. McCain added that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” are torture, adding that his position was held by most retired and active duty military officers.

Romney backed “enhanced terrorism techniques” but drew the line at torture. He drew applause with his call to double the size of Guantanamo Bay, rather than close it.

Then again, Romney has not shown to be pretty informed about many things, including French culture, where he served for two years…why would he know a thing about these techniques?

Sealed at the Palmyra Temple

May 13, 2007 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Christianity, Church, Eastern Europe, Mormon, Religion, Romania | Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

Over at our family history blog I’ve written a new post about our most recent trip to the Palmyra temple, where we celebrated the sealing of Jess—Jaime’s sister—and Joe and their two lovely children. Please read it. I also wrote about who Jaime and I sealed, someone close to my heart, sealing him to his wife.

Provo Businesses Blacklist BYU Students Who Protested Cheney

April 29, 2007 at 7:37 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, BYU, Cheney, freedom, Mormon, Religion | 12 Comments

I’m not surprised, but Provo businesses are blacklisting students that participated in a protest of Cheney, courtesy of Joe Vogel:

Now BYU Alternative Commencement has received an email from a local businesswoman named Denise Harman, who claims that all BYU students participating in activities against Dick Cheney are being tracked by local businesses. “Many businesses are noting the names involved,” she says.

Why are business tracking the names of soon to be graduating students? “You are being tagged as trouble makers and added to massive ‘Do Not Hire’ lists,” says Denise Harman, who hires hundreds of graduates every year.

She adds curtly, “Just thought you should know that activities have consequences.”

Indeed they do. How utterly childish. Shows you that residents of Provo have a stronger allegiance to one man than they do to democracy or even free speech. I wonder, if a day comes when those protesting rules against Mormonism get blacklisted what they will say…

Celebrating One Year of Political Blogging

April 11, 2007 at 7:05 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, Church, conservatives, Democrats, Evangelicals, family values, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, liberals, Middle East, Military, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Religion, Republicans, Romania, Utah, War, War on Terror, World Events | 4 Comments

One year ago, I wrote my first post on my blog. Back then it was called RHMD’s Thoughts on Politics. This was my first post: Continue Reading Celebrating One Year of Political Blogging…

On Rockefeller, Being Rich and Being Religious

April 3, 2007 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Christianity, Church, Mormon, Religion, Thoughts | 2 Comments

I am currently reading Ron Chernow’s “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr.” Mr. Chernow’s book is thought-provoking to say the least. I bought it because I wanted to know more about John Rockefeller. Continue Reading On Rockefeller, Being Rich and Being Religious…

Few Stood Against Many…

December 21, 2006 at 8:49 pm | Posted in freedom, Mel Gibson, Military, Mormon, neo-conservatives, War | 3 Comments

I just watched the trailer for the new movie coming out in March 2007 called “300.” It looks like a gorgeous artistic film, along the lines of Sin City from 2005. I noticed something in the trailer, the theme of the film seems to be “few stood against many,” which I’ve noticed is a common theme in American filmmaking recently, the glorification of the few against incredible insurmountable odds. The few also happen to be “free men,” the ideal utopian group that has their lives interrupted by an invading force. (Mel Gibson used this too in his film Apocalypto). It seems we’re getting fancier, more professional, more artistic, in our worship of the hero, the warrior, the David against a massive Goliath. I’m noticing a lot of glorifying of the hero and the warrior, the soldier in everything around us here in America, and not just entertainment. But in all these cases, these heroes and warriors rely on the ethically and morally compromising arm of flesh to succeed, and one has to wonder if we drink too much in their glory to rely on God for our protection. President Spencer W. Kimball warned us about our worshiping of the gods of steel and muscle. Can we escape this worship when it is all around us?

Furthermore, can we ever get something this beautifully artistic without all the violence and gore? I still want to see Sin City for its style and cinematography, but am kept away by the brutishness and coarseness of its violence.

UPDATE: Oh, fittingly, the enemy in this show is the Persian Empire….

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Bowels of Mercies

December 21, 2006 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Christianity, Church, Mormon, Religion, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Okay, so I was thinking yesterday about this scripture:

Colossians 3:12 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

I’ll quote the next few verses later, because this message is quite powerful. But I was just curious about the phrase “bowels of mercies.” Where does it come from? What is it about our bowels that seem to emanate mercy? Doesn’t mercy come from charity and the heart? What do you all think?

Here’s the rest of the message:

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

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Why Do Mormons Still Support Bush So Strongly?

December 3, 2006 at 4:32 am | Posted in America, American politics, Cheney, Christianity, Church, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Military, Mormon, Religion, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Syria, War on Terror | 12 Comments

I’m really befuddled. Why do so many Mormons still support Bush?

Just today, his departing Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo which he, no doubt, leaked to the press as well, which in effect calls the Iraq strategy a failure. One fascinating aspect about this memo is how he recommends the very same policy John Murtha recommended ONE YEAR AGO! Here is what Rumsfeld said:

Another option calls for redeploying American troops from “vulnerable positions” in Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.” That idea is similar to a plan suggested by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a plan that the White House has soundly rebuffed.

Here is what John Murtha said one year ago:

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

This was the typical reaction from Republicans:

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: “Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil.”

Here is another conservative:

In a statement that has angered, embarrassed and humiliated Marines around the globe, one of our own — a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel — has called for the legendary fighting force to retreat from Iraq and surrender to the terrorist organization that has killed thousands of Americans at home and abroad. He has even called for the United States to enter into negotiations with al Qaeda. This vermin’s demand for retreat, surrender and negotiations with the enemy is so committed to assisting al Qaeda in their efforts in Iraq that he has posted his unspeakable demands on his website in the form of an official statement.

The traitor, Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha, agrees 100% with Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that the Marine Corps, which is mangling the enemy on a daily basis in Iraq and suffering comparatively light casualties, should lay down its arms, call it quits, and abandon the people they are defending in the fledgling democracy of Iraq.

Furious Marines from wars as far back as World War II are spitting mad at the cowardly colonel and many want his head on a stake in the middle of the Marine Corps Commandant’s lawn. Personally, I would not soil that good earth with so vile and despicable a piece of offal.

Encouraging retreat is viewed as aiding the enemy by the Marines and is a violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is punishable by death. Currently serving Marines, active duty or reserve, who encourage surrender are in violation of Article 100 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, an offense also punishable by death. Because Murtha is retired, he is virtually assured of not being prosecuted.

However, he will be celebrated by al Qaeda and other terrorists around the world. At this very moment, al Qaeda communications specialists are likely prepping pieces of propaganda using Murtha’s traitorous tirade as a tool to recruit fresh killers by showing them that even an American Marine (apologies to Puller) believes his allegedly beloved Corps is so inept in battle that retreat and surrender are the Marines’ best option and perhaps should, in fact, be added for the first time to the Leathernecks’ vast, quasi-mythical repertoire of operational art and battlefield strategy.

Murtha joins the likes of traitor Clayton Lonetree, the Marine security guard who gave top-secret intelligence to the Soviets, and traitor Robert Garwood, the Marine who went over to the enemy during the Vietnam War and was involved in holding and abusing US prisoners of war in North Vietnam while wearing the uniform of the enemy.

The Marine Corps is famous for its members standing their ground and winning fights against outrageous odds. Battles with names like the Peking Legation, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Fallujah decorate the hallowed halls of Corps history. Especially repugnant is how Murtha is insisting upon surrender while the Marines are decimating the enemy en masse.

Marines should ask Murtha if Chesty Puller would order retreat and surrender before the enemy.

John “The Jellyfish” Murtha should be shunned by all Marines and, if possible, legal steps should be taken to prevent this betrayer from being buried in a national cemetery upon his demise.

And yet another:

Jack Murtha’s call for immediate disengagement took him far outside the boundaries of legitimate disagreement. He has never been able to articulate any plausible basis for his position on Iraq. There is a simple reason for that. There isn’t one.

Reasonable people cannot differ about whether or not the United States should press forward with our war against the terror masters. For the time being Iraq is inevitably the principal front in that war. A congressman who tries to duck his share of the responsibility for prosecuting that war is displaying moral cowardice. Any American who recommends retreat is injuring his own country and calling his own patriotism into question.

Almost all the Democrats in the House understand this, which is why only three of them would vote on the record for retreat.

We mark the boundaries of legitimate disagreement by the way we characterize arguments that lie outside them. What Jack Murtha did last week wasn’t just wrong. It was cowardly and disloyal. That’s the truth and Jack Murtha deserves to hear it.

But, Mr. Murtha was right. And now the departing Secretary of Defense agrees with Mr. Murtha’s recommendation. I wonder if we will hear the same venom, the same call for his head from these same people as they did to Mr. Murtha. I doubt it.

Anyways, that’s a side topic. Let’s get back to Bush. His departing Secretary of Defense released a memo that states clearly that their Iraq policy is not working. Meanwhile, Bush continues to look cheerful even as he says:

“I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq has been unsettling,” Bush said.

Unsettling? Fifty-One people just died today in three coordinated market blasts. Unsettling? Why do Mormons still back this guy?

Worse yet, no leader in the Middle East supposedly trusts the Bush Administration to get it right.

But instead of flaunting stronger ties and steadfast American influence, the president’s journey found friends both old and new near a state of panic. Mideast leaders expressed soaring concern over upheavals across the region that the United States helped ignite through its invasion of Iraq and push for democracy — and fear that the Bush administration may make things worse.

President Bush’s summit in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister proved an awkward encounter that deepened doubts about the relationship. Vice President Dick Cheney’s stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, yielded a blunt warning from the kingdom’s leaders. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s swing through the West Bank and Israel, intended to build Arab support by showing a new U.S. push for peace, found little to work with.

In all, visits designed to show the American team in charge ended instead in diplomatic embarrassment and disappointment, with U.S. leaders rebuked and lectured by Arab counterparts. The trips demonstrated that U.S. allies in the region were struggling to understand what to make of the difficult relationship, and to figure whether, with the new Democratic-majority Congress, Bush even has control over his nation’s Mideast policy.

The Saudis are warning Cheney, Rice gets at best a cool reception in Israel and Palestine, Bush was snubbed by the man he needs desparately in Jordan, King Abdullah of Jordan warns of more civil wars in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran continues quietly to build their nuclear program. Syria continues interfering in Lebanon, and the world now further distrusts America.

So I ask again, my Mormon friends, why do so many Mormons still think this guy is a good guy? Do we not believe that by their fruits we shall know them? What are the fruits of President Bush? A divided America, civil war in Iraq, further civil wars possible throughout the Middle East, no one trusting Bush. Could any president have done more to weaken America’s standing in the world than Bush has these past six years? No. That’s not only bad for America, but that’s also bad for our church. I am asking that you join with me in calling for the resignation or impeachment of President George W. Bush. Believe in your conservative principles. Where’s the shrinking of the government? I’ve not seen it these past six years. Where’s the fiscal responsibility? Why are we putting our wars on credit cards for our children to pay? Why are we going to war with countries based on faulty intelligence, and then when things start going bad, we blindly, stupidly, stubbornly say we need to “stay the course,” when staying the course is the worst possible option to choose? There are so many things wrong with the Bush administration, so many ways that they act counter to Conservative principles. How can you guys still back him? Is it because he throws you a bone—whether it be gay marriage, or abortion, or tax cuts—so you stay mollified and silent while he goes counter to all your other conservative principles?

I pray that you consider my request. Before this gets even worse. Think about it, how can Bush act effectively with the rest of the world if he is no longer taken seriously by anyone?

The Middle East and the Jaredites

November 24, 2006 at 12:42 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Lebanon, Mormon, Muslim, Religion, War on Terror, World Events | 2 Comments

David Ignatius has a great op-ed in the Washington Post today on what he calls the Politics of Assassination, in reference to the murder of Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese Christian politician. He says:

A disease is eating away at the Middle East. It afflicts the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Lebanese, even the Israelis. It is the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force — the power of physical intimidation. It is politics as assassination.

This week saw another sickening instance of this law of brute force, with the murder of Pierre Gemayel, a Lebanese cabinet minister who had been a strong critic of Syria. Given the brutal history of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, there’s an instant temptation to blame Damascus. But in this land of death, there are so many killers and so few means of holding them to account that we can only guess at who pulled the trigger.

I am reminded, sadly, of another group of people with a similar knack for the use of violence and political assassination: The Jaredites. Who are the Jaredites? They are a people in the Book of Mormon (the Olmecs from what we know archaeologically), who left during the time of the Tower of Babel, crossed the Pacific and found their promised land. In Ether 9:4-12 we read the following:

4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.
5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.
6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.
8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.
9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.
10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.
11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.
12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.

The Jaredites focused on revenge and reprisals instead of the religion they espoused. Sounds very similar to the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius continues:

The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination. So many things are going right in the modern world — until we reach the boundaries of the Middle East, where the gunmen hide in wait. Those who imagined they could stop the assassins’ little guns with their big guns — the United States and Israel come to mind — have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong.

This is a time of convulsive change in the region, and many doors are being pushed open. Syria has an opportunity to leave behind its drab Cold War trench coat and become a modern, prosperous Mediterranean nation; Hezbollah, the militia that represents Lebanon’s dispossessed Shiite population, has a chance to lead its followers into political power and prosperity. But they won’t realize these opportunities so long as the politics of assassination rules the region. If Syria and Hezbollah keep brandishing their power like a grenade, it will ultimately blow apart in their hands.

In Ether 11:5-7 we see the worsening of the violence:

5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;
6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.
7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.

When we see the terrible destruction violence has upon the Iraqis, with the attack just yesterday killing now over 200 people, is this destruction bad enough yet to make the Iraqis see the futility of the use of violence? Sadly, I do not believe that will end their hate. The Iraqis (and Lebanon is following in this path), are starting to look a lot like the Jaredites:

Ether 13:25-27

25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.

Ether 13:31

31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.

Ether 14:8-10

8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.

Ether 14:21-24

21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the ascent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.

It got so bad that even when Coriantumr realized just how horrible things have gotten, he tried to make amends with his enemy, who still wanted this head. This was impossible with his people, and thus the violence continued:

Ether 15:1-6

1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.
3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.
4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.
5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.
6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.

Ether 15:19-22

19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.
21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.
22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.

Ether 15:29-30

29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had aall fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.

Thus ends a civilization.

Will Mit Romney Be The Republican Nominee in 2008?

November 23, 2006 at 2:06 am | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Mit Romney, Mormon, Religion, Republicans | 17 Comments

He’s trying really hard. That is clearly evident. He’s shifting his political views hard right (even though he supposedly is a moderate—but to get through the Republican primary, you have to sell out on your principles and please extremists), supporting Bush’s war in Iraq, supporting the use of torture, etc. He’s starting to get pretty good copy, but I get the impression that he won’t be able to jump over the massive wall that stands in his way: Protestants still don’t think Mormons are Christian and clearly do not wish to vote a non-Christian as leader of their nation. I really wonder why Romney attempts to get the votes of people who do this:

Southern Baptists have been particularly vocal about labeling the LDS Church a “cult.” In 1997, the denomination published a handbook and video, both with the title The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints. More than 45,000 of these kits were distributed in the first year; the following year—in a throwing down of the proselytizing gauntlet—the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Around the same time, a speaker at the denomination’s summit on Mormonism declared that Utah was “a stronghold of Satan.” When Richard Mouw, president of the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, tried to repair relations with the LDS community by apologizing on behalf of evangelicals during a speech in the Mormon Tabernacle last year, his conservative brethren lashed out. Mouw had no right, they declared in an open letter, to speak for them or apologize for denouncing Mormon “false prophecies and false teachings.”

As Amy Sullivan says just a paragraph earlier in her piece:

Evangelical Christians consider Mormonism a threat in a way that Catholicism and even Judaism are not. The LDS Church, they charge, has perverted Christian teachings to create a false religion. As John L. Smith, a Southern Baptist who runs Utah Mission—an organization that tries to convert Mormons—told Christianity Today: “Mormonism is either totally true or totally false. If it’s true, every other religion in America is false.” To be tolerant of Mormonism is to put evangelical Christianity at risk. And to put a Mormon in the White House would be to place a stamp of approval on that faith.

When you’ve religionized your political party, how can you compromise your principles? If you accept a “non-Christian,” are you not turning your back on your own religion? Ms. Sullivan finishes her article with:

The tragedy—or, depending on your point of view, the irony—is that Mitt Romney may just be the most appealing candidate Republicans can field in 2008, the one most likely to win the White House by shoring up social conservatives and rallying business interests without frightening swing voters. Yet the modern GOP’s reliance on evangelical voters and its elevation of personal religiosity—strategies which have served the party so well in recent years—may doom the chances of this most promising candidate. Or, to put it in evangelical terms, it might be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.

On the one hand, it seems rather futile for Mr. Romney to try and reach out to these voters, especially when a Rassmussen poll shows that 53% of Evangelicals will not vote for a Mormon candidate. On the other hand, by shifting so hard to the right, as he has of late, he stabs in the back the moderate voters who he needed for his governorship run. This is the same problem Mr. McCain is facing. He has to become a prostitute to the hard-right voters, even though he is really a moderate. But this shoots down his credibility.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a Mormon will have an easier time becoming president of the United States as a Democrat than a Republican. Look at the fact that Romney became governor of one of the most liberal states in the nation, Massachusetts. Was his religion an issue with voters there? Not really. Could he have ever been elected governor of, say, Texas? Or Alabama? I feel sorry for Romney. He’s a good guy. He has to compromise his principles as a moderate in order to become president. It’s such a shame that this is what the Republican party has become, a party where real principled men have to shame themselves in order to get their vote.

Christians Fleeing Iraq

October 17, 2006 at 11:52 am | Posted in Christianity, Church, Iraq, Mormon, Religion | 8 Comments

Christians are fleeing Iraq in droves because of the violence. Many Mormons justified their support of this war on Iraq “opening” to the Gospel. What do you say now, my Mormon friends? Can you visualize missionaries walking around Iraq today?

Bush Using Christians For Political Purposes

October 12, 2006 at 2:12 am | Posted in American politics, Christianity, Evangelicals, King George, Mormon, Religion, Republicans | 9 Comments

Surprise! Surprise! According to the man second in charge of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, David Kuo writes a book due out before the elections—thankfully—that shows that Bush used Christians and their moral beliefs for political gains! Continue Reading Bush Using Christians For Political Purposes…

Quote of the Day – On Forgiveness and Justice

October 6, 2006 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Amish, Christianity, Mormon, War on Terror | 4 Comments

“Forgiveness is more about ourselves than the perpetrator. The perpetrator still has to pay for his crime, whether by the laws of man or by the laws of God. Forgiveness is not about stifling justice, but about changing our own hearts to no longer have hatred for those who have committed crimes against us.”

—By The Good Democrat

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I really like what I wrote previously on forgiveness. In light of the Amish forgiving the man who killed five (soon to be six) of their own innocent girls, and in light of our wars around the world, I think it is good to take a step back and see what it means to be Christian.

Arise From the Dust and Be Men!

October 5, 2006 at 7:54 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Democracy, Iraq, King George, Mormon, Religion, Republicans, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Michael Hirsh wonders: “Are there no Ikes or Harrys extant?” Where are the men of honor who take responsibility for their own actions these days? Where are the men who acknowledge mistakes and do all in their power to rectify, rather than “stay the course?” Continue Reading Arise From the Dust and Be Men!…

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