Svithe: A review of the new Ensign


The Ensign is an official magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for English-speaking adults in North America. It comes out monthly and serves as an official organ for Church leaders as well a providing a variety of practically-minded and human-interest stories.


The Ensign underwent a major redesign a couple years ago, and the January issue pushes that design aesthetic a little further along. It wasn't until I took it out of the plastic today that I noticed the slight changes in the cover design and the interior, similarly, is more a progression in the previously chosen design direction rather than a new design entirely.

Essentially, the design is now slicker and more attractive. It's looking more and more like something a teenager might be interested in reading.

(Incidentally, I don't get The New Era [the Church's mag for teens] so I can't compare them, but The Friend [for kids] also underwent a design change this month. It's cover design is the most notable change. A brief glance-through didn't reveal any other changes.)

Jan 2010 Ensign

The changes to the cover are slight. Font refinements, the title is now transparent. It's nice. It's not killer. It won't be winning any awards, but I think we can assume that the Church magazines aren't trying to be hipper than thou, just hip enough. (I'm not commenting on the art because in the last few years, we've seen improvement in cover-art selections. This is an image most Mormons have seen many times, so it's a bit tired, but I'm choosing not to whine.)


(The story I'm about to tell you is hearsay, but my source is excellent. I may have a some of the details wrong, but I have full confidence in the gist of the story.)

Once upon a time, the Church paid a research company to find out how the members were using the magazines. One of the findings was that the Ensign is the most-subscribed-to-/-least-read magazine in America. Or, in other words, considering the size of its subscription, no one was actually reading the thing.

The editor made big plans to fix this problem but no one liked his plans and so they stuck with producing a boring magazine that no one actually read.

I heard this story in connection with fiction, but I can't remember now if the editor wanted to bring fiction back for this reason, or if taking fiction out was part of the seemingly deliberate attempt to make the magazine even more boring and less read.

(If you think it's boring, then you're obviously not worthy enough to read it anyway.)

Clearly, the magazine department now desperately wants people to read the magazine. As we will see.

They're also making a serious effort to bring people online. They offer mp3 readings from the magazine, it's available in forms easily accessed by handheld whatsits, etc. They've even finally got a web address you can easily type to get directly to the magazine's site: ensign.lds.org (although once you type it in, it switches to http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=a6246a008952b010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0 and the First Presidency Message is http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=81be47a27a2b5210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD, neither of which are particularly pleasant to link to).

Jan 2010 Ensign

The table of contents offers teasers (their word, see page eleven) to tell you more about an article before you waste all those calories turning to "Prophets of the Old Testament" only to discover it's just a buncha lousy pictures. (Incidentally, I am overall happy with the quality of art that's been appearing in the Ensign of late, though I was a bit disappointed with this set.)

The ToC also has a goodly amount of whitespace which I am always in favor of and which, for a table, I think is necessary for readability.

In all, the ToC is inviting. It's not something just to skip over, it's something to read. My favorite general-interest magazine, Wired, always has an engaging ToC and it often significantly alters the order in which I read things. The Ensign's teasers are a step in that direction, though they're still a bit hermetic at present.

But I suppose they sorta hafta be. Mormons don't fit a narrow demographic and they need to be as worried about pushing people away as drawing people in. Most magazines make inroads with their overall audience by being occasionally outrageous (Sarah Palin in shortshorts! Obama as jihadist!) --- this risks losing some subscribers, but their is the chance of gaining some as well. Being controversial is not a luxury the Ensign has however. Heaven forbid they should promote pipe-smoking. I would love to see them do it, but the closest they've come to controversy was the painstakingly anticontroversial take on Mountain Meadows.

Anyway. Let's move on by skipping to the end, with my favorite new feature.

As any magazine reader knows, it has become expected for the final page to be a standalone thing for readers to turn to first. It may be a cartoon or humor column, it may be an essay from someone famous, it may be a compelling personal experience. The Ensign is now doing this as well with a final-page department called "Until We Meet Again" --- "a brief personal essay offering spiritual insights.

Jan 2010 Ensign

I give this change high marks. I think it has a good chance of becoming a destination for people as they first open up their new Ensign. I think not having a General Authority write the first one was wise --- in fact, I think it's an opportunity to get great writing from outside the Church Office Building. I don't think the Church should get into celebrity culture, so probably Orson Scott Card or Donny Osmond would be a bad idea, but great writers and thinkiners like Angela Hallstrom or Mahonri Stewart or Gideon Burton? I would imagine that even knowing it's not an opportunity to plug their new project, even knowing that they'll need to be perfectly orthodox, even then, you could get a lot of Mormondom's best writers to participate. Sure, most Ensign readers won't know who Ardis Parshall is, but that doesn't mean that they can't appreciate a well-written essay. And who knows --- maybe they'll remember the name, or google it, and that's good for everyone. And unless the page said "Author of People of Paradox", the author's essay on thinking during the sacrament cannot reasonably be understood as Church-approval of the author's other work.

Also at the end of the book are various new departments, some of which are new and some of which have already been seen in the Liahona (the Church's non-English or non-NAmerican magazines, which combine the adult, teen and kid mags into one). These too will be quickly looked at, just as "Latter-day Saint Voices" long has been.

My favorite of this portion is "Small & Simple Things, which contains subdepartsments such as a temple spotlight.

Jan 2010 Ensign

But now we're running into a point where we need to consider possible unintended consequences.

Everything I've talked about so far is good and I like it. But can this streamlining and simplifying and shortening result in a dumbed down magazine? Of course it can. But is it?

Well. I'm not sure.

There seems to be an about par number of longer articles, but one of my problems with the Ensign is it's general shortage of high-interest articles for me. I like the historical articles and the deeper doctrinal delvings. Most of the articles are either too practical or too feelgoody for my taste. Which isn't to say they are awful and I hate them, but I'm getting more articles like that than I strictly require and not enough of the other.

In discussing the redesign, the editors make an valid point:

    Often at the Ensign we receive letters asking, “Would you please do an article about __________?” We consider and respond to those requests because our job is to serve the spiritual needs of readers. But sometimes we find that the magazine has recently run an item or items on the requested topics, and readers, for one reason or another, may have missed those articles....

    One of our challenges is to serve a wide range of readers, from young single adults to elderly widows or widowers, married couples, and readers from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The magazine, as directed by Church leaders, supports the family in its divine, eternal design—father, mother, and children—as outlined in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Yet we know that a significant portion of adult Church members are not married, and many do not live in a family that matches this model.

    Although we are not able to address each segment of our readership every month, we believe that a majority of the articles in the magazine apply to every member, single or married, old or young. We seek articles that teach universal gospel principles.

A couple good points here. 1. The articles I want still exist and if I really want to read them, I can find them. (Although, it's worth mentioning, I probably won't.) 2. With such a broad demographic (all English-speaking NAmerican Mormons), not everyone can be perfectly served. (This I recognize. And I don't feel the Church is obliged to do so. But goshdarn it, this is me we're talking about!)

Well. That's probably more review than you wanted to read.

Take a look at the pdf if you don't subscribe (be warned: it's big) and leave me your thoughts in the comments.


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Svithe: Notes for today's Sunday School lesson, "The Family is Ordained of God"

(ergo, this is a little sloppy)


Love this job.
Love sticking with the scriptures.
The D&C ones though give few scriptures. (read)
Lesson about “The Family Ordained of God”
Good intro to OT as
Genesis will be the story of families: Adam's Noah's, Abraham's

(What forces sought to “attack” those families?)


I ask because that was what the GA quotes in the manual were about.


Let’s move to the NT and Jesus’s birth family and the strains upon them



 Jesus born in an oppressed land to poor parents

Consider the poverty of Jesus’s own family at the time of his birth; a shamed mother and stuck sleeping in a smelly old stable (haw many of our families torn by money issues?)


WITH THAT IN MIND, I want to talk about a few things that have been in the news lately and then use those items to discuss this idea of protecting and promoting families:





Rich young man


When Jesus announced himself to his townsfolk, this was the scripture he read:


Luke 4

16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

  17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

  18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

  19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

  20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

  21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.


Note especially verse 18





Family is a curious thing given how important it is to us. Because it’s hardly mentioned in scripture at all. It’s certainly not clearly defined, nor is it clearly suggested why it’s important or how to strengthen it. Plain and precious things, dontchaknow.




We often treat the idea of families being “under attack” as not being terribly literal --- as referring more to primetime television and the pansexual leanings of certain college professors




Afghanistan's been in the news lately, what with President Obama's new plans, so let's use them as an example:

1.5 million widows out of an estimated 26.6 million people in Afghanistan (>5%)>

(the fighting started long before 9/11)



Focus on Jesus teaching about supporting the poor, the widows, the fatherless.



From Bishop Edgley (re: change in handbook language):


"Caring for the poor and needy is one of the ongoing purposes of the church," said Bishop Edgley of caring for the poor and the needy. "Including language about caring for the poor and needy as one of the purposes of the church recognizes the long-standing practices of the church. I don't think you're going to see anything change, but we're always trying to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be better at delivering relief."


"What we're trying to do is fulfill what the Savior has taught us," he said. "We've been trying to do it forever, and we'll continue to do it."


"It's so tender when you see the needs out there and so gratifying to play a part when we reach out to those whose suffering most of us don't even understand," he said.



Pr Monson (hard to do a two-paragraph bio of Tommy w/o mentioning widows) in Oct 2009 GC:


"It's so tender when you see the needs out there and so gratifying to play a part when we reach out to those whose suffering most of us don't even understand," he said.



An almost identical article appeared in the SL Trib but, well, this is Sunday School.

(but imagine for a moment, that this was not far away in Africa, but where you life --- would it feel like your family was under attack?)

Violence and crime in Aba, Nigeria, this summer caused The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to closed its Aba Nigeria Temple indefinitely and evacuate temple workers in mid-June.

"The safety of our temple visitors and workers is always our first concern," LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said. "Incidents of violence in recent months in the area where the temple is situated are not necessarily related to the temple but could put church members at risk. As a precautionary measure, temple workers have been moved to other areas, and the temple has been closed while the situation is being addressed."

The closing and evacuation followed in the wake of mid-June gunfire in the area around the temple. Also, the city of Aba and its Nigerian state of Abia have seen a marked increase in reported kidnappings this year.

In an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner reported in the Ogden newspaper's Wednesday edition, a Nigeria temple worker reported the mid-June incident in which four gunmen were seen carrying AK-47s, with shooting reported in the area around the temple, located on the outskirts of Aba, a city of about 900,000 on the Aba River in southern Nigeria

Bullets from the shooting struck the guardhouse on the temple grounds. The complex also includes an LDS stake center and administrative office. The temple has been closed since mid-June, with foreign temple workers reassigned to other areas.

The Aba Nigeria Temple — the only one in the country and one of only two in the church's Africa West Area — was dedicated Aug. 7, 2005, by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Two years ago, the LDS Church was the target of an earlier round of violence in northern Nigeria when four missionaries were kidnapped near Port Harcourt. The kidnappers released the four Nigerian missionaries after local church leaders arranged to pay $810 total to compensate the kidnappers for the cost of housing and feeding the missionaries during their capture.

Scores of foreign oil company employees were kidnapped for ransom in early 2007. The spate of kidnappings has since moved from north Nigeria to south Nigeria.

While interest by Nigerians in the LDS Church dates back to the 1950s, the church first began proselytizing in Nigeria in 1978. Membership approached 10,000 in 1987. Ten years after that, as the church was approaching 100,000 members on the continent, Nigeria's LDS membership was 30,300.

The church's latest statistics for Nigeria include 88,374 members, five missions, the one temple and some 260 congregations throughout the country.


LDS NEWSROOM: water-reaches-end-of-the-row-in-congolese-villages (18 Miles for water)

What challenges would such parents have in teaching their children?

Joseph W. Sitati is the first African General Authority. He is from Kenya and thus, it seems to me, more apt to know about things like we are discussing than, say, me. From his GC talk last October:


I have seen the good fruit of the gospel blossom in my home continent of Africa. After just 30 years, there are 300,000 Saints. In the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, many are finding a sure anchor for their faith. Families uprooted from their rural communities in search of a better future in the towns and cities have found a new way to hold on to the strong family traditions which have come progressively under attack in this era of globalization. The Spirit of the Lord is moving powerfully among the people.

A new celestial culture is developing in homes, nurtured by the ready hearkening to the counsel of the living prophet to have daily prayer and scripture study and to meet once a week as a family in home evening. As a result, many are able to break free from the shackles of traditions that restrict the exercise of their agency.

As an illustration from personal experience, three of our children were recently married in the temple without the encumbrance of dowry, a traditional practice that drives many young men and women to live together without any legal commitment to each other. The opportunity for a temple marriage in the three temples now established in Accra, Ghana; Aba, Nigeria; and Johannesburg, South Africa, is helping to instill a fresh hope in the sanctity of marriage.


If we want to convert families, then those families must be intact to start with. Ergo, if Satan is attacking the so-called strongest families, he must also be attacking those that might join those ranks.













The Fourth Fold


"Caring for the poor and needy has always been a basic tenet of the Church," said LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter. "The language reference is simply a description of the purposes of the church to be included in the next edition of the Church Handbook."

The three-fold mission of the LDS Church was first taught at the April 1981 General Conference by then-President Spencer W. Kimball, who said it was the inspired product of the church's First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

As stated, the aspects are:

* "To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

* "To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation.

* "To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth."

Caring for the poor and the needy has long been preached in the LDS Church. In the same April 1981 General Conference, President Kimball said, "We all have opportunities to render service to others. That is our calling and our privilege. In serving the needs of others, we are mindful of the words of the Savior: 'Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"



Elder Ballard, Oct 2003

If we do not make good choices, the media can devastate our families and pull our children away from the narrow gospel path. In the virtual reality and the perceived reality of large and small screens, family-destructive viewpoints and behavior are regularly portrayed as pleasurable, as stylish, as exciting, and as normal. Often media’s most devastating attacks on family are not direct or frontal or openly immoral. Intelligent evil is too cunning for that, knowing that most people still profess belief in family and in traditional values. Rather the attacks are subtle and amoral—issues of right and wrong don’t even come up. Immorality and sexual innuendo are everywhere, causing some to believe that because everyone is doing it, it must be all right. This pernicious evil is not out in the street somewhere; it is coming right into our homes, right into the heart of our families. ..... The new morality preached from the media’s pulpit is nothing more than the old immorality. It attacks religion. It undermines the family. It turns virtue into vice and vice into virtue. It assaults the senses and batters the soul with messages and images that are neither virtuous, nor lovely, nor of good report, nor praiseworthy.


Let me say again that the family is the main target of evil’s attack and must therefore be the main point of our protection and defense. As I said once before, when you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense to Satan. When he wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he doesn’t poison the world’s peanut butter supply, thus bringing the Church’s missionary system to its collective knees. He doesn’t send a plague of laryngitis to afflict the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He doesn’t legislate against green Jell-O and casseroles. When evil wants to strike out and disrupt the essence of God’s work, it attacks the family. It does so by attempting to disregard the law of chastity, to confuse gender, to desensitize violence, to make crude and blasphemous language the norm, and to make immoral and deviant behavior seem like the rule rather than the exception.


We have the good fortune to fret about such things. Our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world have much more dire concerns and immediate and physical attacks upon their families that must be dealt with first. And what can we do to help?


The Family: A Proclamation to the World


The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. 
Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. 
We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan. (the sanctity of life clearly refers to all living, wouldn't you agree?)

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed. (as per Maslow, mustn't physical security precede all the above?)

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, 
we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets(is this a self-feeding cycle?)

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.




Isaiah 54:13

 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.  


D&C 68:25                   *********************

 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.


1 Nephi 1:1

 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.


D&C 93:40                 *********************

 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.


Mosiah 4:14–15

And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.







No poor in Zion (for next week, so closing and as part of testimony) / fast offerings

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Svithe: "nourished by the good word of God"


Moroni on the Church:

    And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

What exactly is the good word of God? Is it the scriptures? The simple doctrines? The testimonies of fellow members?

I heard today of someone who is less pleased with the "social" aspects of our ward and wants more "doctrine" and I was left wondering what that meant.

What does it mean to be nourished by the good word of God?

We are all numbered among the people of the church of Christ --- we have taken his name. When we speak as moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture, the will of the Lord, the mind of the Lord, the word of the Lord, the voice of the Lord.

So therefore are the "social aspects of Church" part of this nourishment by the good word of God? Or are they a distraction?

Learning that the social aspects of the Church matter and are important as per the way we are programmed as human beings was a surprising lesson to me when I discovered it. But I believe they are.

And while, yes, scriptures etc are important, I think the reason Moroni says the Saints did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls is because in order for religion to work, it requires more than merely me and God. We must learn from our fellow travelers. And sure they can get things "wrong" (according to my more correct knowledge?), but we too are mortal and fallible and apparently there is worth in a bunch of mortal and fallible fools meeting together to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of our souls.

So welcome to the social gospel.

Hey. I don't like people either.

But it's good for us.

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Svithe on memory


Someone --- I think it was Spencer W Kimball --- said remember is the most important word in the dictionary. Personally, I think any statement like that is inherently silly, but the concept of remembering is certainly important. Helaman certainly thought so.

I had this idea when I was younger that sometimes old acquaintances will bring up and ask me if I still believe this (answer: I don't know) that we're born knowing everything and life is but a process of remembering what we have forgotten. I don't know how true this is generally, but with pure spiritual concepts, I still accept it as true. We know we are loved, for instance, and at times, we remember.

Let's keep remembering.

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Svithe: (psalm98)


O sing unto the Lord
a new song; for he hath
done marvellous things:
his right hand, and his
holy arm, hath gotten
him the victory.

    The Lord hath made known
    his salvation:
    his righteousness hath he
    openly shewed in the
    sight of the heathen.

      He hath remembered his mercy
      and his truth toward the
      house of Israel: all the ends
      of the earth have seen
      the salvation of our God.

        Make a joyful noise unto
        the Lord, all the earth:
        make a loud noise, and rejoice,
        and sing praise.

          Sing unto the Lord with the harp;
          with the harp, and the voice
          of a psalm.

            With trumpets and sound of cornet
            make a joyful noise before
            the Lord, the King.

              Let the sea roar, and the fulness
              thereof; the world, and they
              that dwell therein.

                Let the floods clap their hands:
                let the hills be joyful together

                  Before the Lord; for he cometh
                  to judge the earth: with
                  righteousness shall he judge
                  the world, and the people
                  with equity.
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Svithing borrowed words (Pallas Athena)


My brother, Pallas Athena, wrote an interesting post this week. He doesn't post often, but when he does he's always provocative and worth reading.

This post wended its way from a fire-based metaphor he doesn't like to a completely unrelated fire-based metaphor he does like. It has a number of points I want to reply to and they're all religiousy and it'll end up being rather long for his comments section and I don't want to be accused of trying to take things over on his properties.

That said, I am going to quote large tracts of his post, so if your reply is more to him than me, you might go to the original to comment.

    A couple weeks ago, my family attended church with a co-worker of mine. I am familiar with the church, and admire the pastor. I have heard him preach on the radio and listened to some of his sermons online. I see him as a man of God and have a lot of respect for him. When we went, it was a refreshing experience. Everyone seemed excited to be there, I mean really excited. It was an hour and a half long service of which the first twenty minutes and last twenty minutes were spent standing and singing along with the rock band on stage. In between the music was an interesting sermon though it seemed somewhat shallow (unfortunately not from the normal Pastor - he had swine flu :( ). There were people sitting beside me, in back of me and in front of me with their Bibles out and note pads, taking notes. Not counting my wife, I can not remember the last time I saw anyone take notes in a Sacrament Meeting.

    My kids enjoyed the standing and singing to the electric guitar, drums and keyboard. I did too, I must confess. The feeling of inclusion was very apparent. The place was packed. The converted school bus was out front after it had made its rounds picking up people from all over town. No one I saw was dressed up, everyone looked and felt comfortable. After the service everyone was hanging around talking enjoying each others company. We had to rush out to make it to our own service.

    Upon arriving at our church there was a noticeable difference. Looking around, no one seemed excited to be there. Everyone was dressed up and there was a bit of stuffiness in the air. Sacrament Meeting was a bit of a different experience. The closing hymn was “The Spirit of God” – one of my favorites, but I wasn’t singing, it is hard for me to sing that slow.

    I spent a lot of time that day, and since, thinking of the two churches. Comparing them. I have attended many different churches but this presented an interesting contrast rushing out of one to make it to the other. I decide to try and come up with three words to explain each of the two churches and here is what I came up with.

    Other Church: Excitement, Enthusiasm, Sugar Rush

    My Church: Dull, Duty, Depth

    First my explanation of why I chose those words for the other church. There was no one there that I could find that did not seem excited to be there. From the youngest kids to the ushers to the old ladies, there was an air of excitement that permeated the entire space. Not just excitement but also enthusiasm. The people attending seemed genuinely enthused about the Lord Jesus and what he had done for them. But it also seemed a bit like a sugar rush, an inrush of current if you will, but not a lot of substance to hold onto that rush.

    Now, the words for the mormon church. I can not remember the last time I have been to a church meeting that was not dull. Not to say the messages were not good, but they were dull. There is a sense of duty in the church, duty to show up, duty to sit quietly, duty to do what you’re told, and you just do it, all of it. But there is depth, the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by Joseph Smith has no end. One can take it as far as they wish, which I might add, is a large part of the problem.

    The Church of Jesus Christ has all the restored keys and proper authority to accomplish the purpose of life on this earth. Because of this they do not need enthusiasm or excitement. The other churches do not have all the answers. They have Jesus and they have the Bible. Arguably, that is enough, but there will always be questions and gaps. They fill these with their excitement and enthusiasm. The mormon church does not need excitement or enthusiasm, they have “the truth”.

Lotta things to say here. The first is the issue of visiting other faiths (which the Sistas also recently posted on) which I for one am certainly in favor of even if I never actually do it. I think it's good to introduce our kids to other's worship. And for several reasons: they'll be more open to others, others will be more open to them, all the good things that may proceed from both those.

As a missionary, incidentally, nothing seemed to build good will like nonflamboyantly visiting other churches. Good stuff.

Another point: I enjoy Catholic radio. Even if I may not align perfectly with their doctrine, I find worth there.

But now to the real point: the dullness of Mormon meetings. Which leads us to our second quote.

    So to go back to the lame analogy and expand it to this example; the other church is like a dry tumbleweed. When lit it creates a large fierce flame which has no substance. The mormon church is like a nice hardwood log. Once it is lit, it is not going out, it will put out lots of heat, and will burn a long, long time, but will never give you the excited, enthusiastic flame of a dry tumbleweed.

This analogy has its charm. Probably offensive to tumbleweeds, but there you go. And it's apt in many ways.

But let's get to the main thrust of this analogy.

    I have had many discussions with my wife since this experience and I have not been able to figure out, how could excitement be brought back into the church? The church is not growing near as well as claimed. Even though we frequently sing "All is Well, All is Well", I think there is a strong argument to the contrary. I cringe everytime I read 2 Nephi 28, is that not what I hear from the pulpit of the church? The church does not need to compromise any of its core beliefs or underpinnings to do this, but it needs excited members, enthusiastic members. I can not get it out of my head...if the members of my church had the excitement and enthusiasm the members of the other church had, oh, imagine...

This is a really great thought experiment for us to engage in. Not just what would happen, but how can we get there?

This discussion of mine's been a little anemic because I'm holding the baby and I can't think and type at the same time without two hands. So let's just look at my post here as an advertisement for my brothers. You should read his anyway because I skipped the paragraph about Emma. And she sound hot.

Go forth.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Svithe: In dialogue with Richard G. Scott


Richard G. Scott is an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His words are taken from his recent talk To Acquire Spiritual Guidance.

Theric: So sometimes I'm not sure what my goal is with all this svithery stuff. It's a little presumptuous to put myself up as some sort of spiritual guide. But if I'm doing it only for myself, why do it at all? Besides, some of these things are born more of desperation than anything else.

Elder Scott:I share an experience that taught me a way to gain spiritual guidance.

Theric: Great.

Richard G ScottElder Scott: One Sunday I attended the priesthood meeting of a Spanish branch in Mexico City. I vividly recall how a humble Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate the truths of the gospel in his lesson material. I noted the intense desire he had to share those principles he strongly valued with his quorum members. He recognized that they were of great worth to the brethren present. In his manner, there was an evidence of a pure love of the Savior and love of those he taught.

Theric: I assume it turned out well?

Elder Scott: His sincerity, purity of intent, and love permitted a spiritual strength to envelop the room. I was deeply touched. Then I began to receive personal impressions as an extension of the principles taught by that humble instructor. They were personal and related to my assignments in the area. They came in answer to my prolonged, prayerful efforts to learn.

Theric: Right. Ultimately, we all find out own way to commune with God.

Elder Scott: As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord. The details of the communication are sacred and, like a patriarchal blessing, were for my individual benefit. I was given specific directions, instructions, and conditioned promises that have beneficially altered the course of my life.

Theric: I can believe it. Really, the schmuck talking matters a lot less. Listening to, say, me, should be no more than a catalyst. That's a chemistry term. I'm not sure if you know it, being a nuclear physicist? But anyway, what I was originally talking about is that I worry that my motivations might not be purely, ah, pure. But you probably have a story for that as well?

Elder Scott: Subsequently, I visited the Sunday School class in our ward, where a very well-educated teacher presented his lesson. That experience was in striking contrast to the one enjoyed in the priesthood meeting. It seemed to me that the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles of the lesson. I had the distinct impression that this instructor was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. At any rate, he certainly did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader.

Theric: Oo. Yeah.

Elder Scott: In that environment, strong impressions began to flow to me again.

Theric: Really!

Elder Scott: I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life.

Theric: Wow.

Elder Scott: Subsequently I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, “Was there yet more to be given?” I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated. Again I was prompted to ask, “Is there more I should know?” And there was. When that last, most sacred experience was concluded, I had received some of the most precious, specific, personal direction one could hope to obtain in this life. Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.

Theric: I don't even know how to reply to that.

Elder Scott: What I have described is not an isolated experience. It embodies several true principles regarding communication from the Lord to His children here on earth. I believe that you can leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because you do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to you.

Theric: I---could certainly do better at that. May I pull out the I-have-small-children excuse here? Or is this just a matter of me not asking sincerely enough?

Elder Scott: Impressions of the Spirit can come in response to urgent prayer or unsolicited when needed. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it.... However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance. Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily.

Theric: Well, thank you, Elder Scott for stopping by. You're welcome in Thutopia anytime. Just stop staring at me. Please. Any closing thought?

Elder Scott: I testify that you can personally learn to master the principles of being guided by the Spirit.

ThericL Elder Richard G. Scott, ladies and gentlemen!

this svithe in thutopia
last week's svithe


S is for Svithe


S is for Sunday, the day that I write
V is for Vacuous, a curse that I fight
I is for Intellect, a party to please
T is for Telling, of faith in degrees
H is for Humble, to welcome the Dove
E is for Everything, proof of God's love.

this svithe in thutopia
last week's svithe


The Metaphors of Dr. Caligari (a halloweeny svithe)


This is part of my irregular series of posts wherein I take a post I want to write and jam it into a svithe-shaped box.


Part of our regular Halloween decor is placing on old tv in our big front window and playing a Halloweeny movie. The first year we did It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, then Nosferatu, the White Zombie and then, this year, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:

At one point in the evening I was left home alone. As we don't get that many trickortreaters and as the weather was pleasant, I started the movie over then went outside and watched it though the window.

I bought Dr. Caligari some years ago for a buck somewhere, but never did get around to watching it (a common theme in my movie-related posts, I know). So this was my first time, interrupted now and then by trickortreaters and by my responsibility to the pizza I was cooking and then, just as the climax was hitting, by the return of my family.

One of the elements I was most looking forward to in the film was the German-Impressionist set design, the buildings offplumb and the walls lurching in ausettling ways. And all the triangular doors and trapezoidal staircases were cool, but they didn't affect me in the right way. Decades of Dr Seuss have trained me to view the skippywhompic as whimsical rather than threatening. And I think that's a shame. (Not whimsy, but exclusive whimsy is the shame.)

Dr Caligari

I think the arrival of sound may have limited film's potential in some key ways. The dreamscapes of films like Caligari or Nosferatu or Vampyre don't transfer well to a world where a line of dialogue may be expected to explain away the absurd shape of a jail cell or the stripes of black in the villain's white hair.

In a world of sound, things may not be merely unsettling.

In a world of sound, we expect an explanation. And that which is explained is weakened, because the rational mind is allowed to pretend the celluloid world too is safe and rational. Lame.

Anyway. Time to svithify. Here are some potential metaphors we can apply to the above. Please help me choose the most fit.

Yeah. And a righteous Halloween to you to....

this svithe in thutopia
last week's svithe


Svithe: The Me-First Fallacy (and its amazingly simple solution)


Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as he is with you. ---Oswald Chambers

I've been thinking a lot about this issue lately, in part because of my Elna Baker posts and in part because of friends of mine and in part as I reevaluate my own thinking, and rediscovering the above quotation has gelled it together for me.

When I speak to people who are mildly or severely disenfranchised with faith, they often blame that disenfranchisement on the affliction called Other Believer's Expectations for True Believers.

Often, as humans, we make the mistake of believing that we are in fact the center of the universe, that we are in fact the archetypal human, that we are in fact perfectly average and merely typical. All of these assumptions are varieties of the same sin, an accidental, almost negative version of pride.

About ten years ago I was plotting a book written for teenaged Mormons about sex. Because I had figured out what I had needed to know when I was a teenager and I was going to take my wisdom and lay it out for the next batch of teenagers.

I'm glad I never got more than a few paragraphs written down, because the hubris of the concept appalls me now.

The whole point of this life is to figure some things out for ourselves (within doctrinal guidelines if possible, but those things are rather vague if we're being honest). If there was a single correct answer applicable to every question, we'd have nothing to figure out.

And when we do figure out an answer it feels so good that of course, being good people, we want to share. And that's when we make our mistake: assuming that the answer God has shared with ME is also therefore the same answer he would share with YOU.

Why in the world would he do that?

The reason that answer felt so good was because it was, of all possible answers, the best one for me. And I am not you.

We can also make this fallacy in regards to ourselves. Learning at age 15 that X is a huge error, then assuming that X will be an error of equal magnitude at age 45, does not necessarily hold true. Sometimes, sure. But the subtle details of life are everchanging and God knows what we need.

So the solution?

Be open to God's will for you now.
Expect God's will to differ for others.
Don't presume to judge the quality of God's various answers.

Or, at least, that's the answer I seem to have today.

What thinkest thou?

this svithe on thuopia
last week's svithe


Svithe: Stand on Your Head


The Berkeley Ward has its own legend: J. Ed Johnson, who stood on his head.

He stood on his head at funerals, in testimony meetings and, most famously, at a Berkeley City Council meeting where his antics won the ward the permission to build a modest parking lot next to the building.

He did a lot more than just stand on his head of course, but just being a stellar Saint might not be enough to ensure legendary status. You might also need to stand on your head.

This is our stake's 75th anniversary and we've had a variety of theses and thatses to celebrate, Today, at our our Priesthood/ReliefSociety/YoungMen/YoungWomen meeting following a Stake Sacrament Meeting one of J. Ed's granddaughters showed slides of him standing on his head in cemeteries and national parks and spoke of his diligence.

So when we speak of creating a spiritual legacy for your dependents, yes provide for the widows (another Johnson trademark) but also come up with some grand, photographable quirk. Because that's the stuff of legends people. Then people will remember you.

(And if your example was in the right things, then they will also remember He whom you served.)

this svithe on thutopia
last week's svithe


#svithe #ldsconf


If you're not following Thwitter, you're missing out, folks. Not because I tweet such interesting things, but the conversational nature of Twitter is a marvelous way to build relationships and knowledge. Dandy stuff.

Anyway, bit of background for those of you who merely observe the Mormonness of this blog with a bemused eye, but last week was the Church's semiannual General Conference (my blog notes, response to my twitter notes). For that moim we get together worldwide and leadership speaks from Salt Lake City. It's covered by a goodly number of tv and radio stations and is streamed online). Anyway, it's kind of a big deal. That's my main point.

Watching Conference and taking my notes and then being on Twitter at the same time was an unusual experience. On the one hand, all these things distracted me for the other things. On the other hand however, it was a great way to find other Saints also watching #ldsconf. (Well over 10000 tweets over the weekend.)

I had been mulling a post over the so-called Twitter Stake experience, but I got busy and didn't type anything up.

So I'm going to take my cues from Tyler and make this week's svithe a response to his blogpost on #ldsconf. (Or, more accurately, a reply he made to a comment left for him.) Specifically, he was discussing how Saints can bear (t)witness during the #ldsconf offseason:

    I don't think it needs to be anything excessive or overbearing, such that we become twitness bearing zealots. For me, as on this blog, that means not being afraid to discuss spiritual/religious matters when they come up or when I feel compelled to share some experience I've had with God. In the past, I've tried to implement a weekly svithe (a neologism combining seven and tithe) as Theric (also know as Thmazing) and others have done---and that I really should pick up again---as a means to devote one post in a week to spiritual/religious matters. Perhaps a #twitness hashtag (though I see it's already been co-opted for other purposes; let's take it for ourselves!) or some such label might encourage Mormon tweeters to do the same, to share their resolve to live and share the Gospel in real time, to be a support system for other Twitter-day Saints.

Adding a hashtag is the easier way to draw attention to a regular occurrence on Twitter and we have a few options here. One is #ldsconf although that seems necessarily limited to references back to Conference (as if that were a bad thing.

Another is #svithe which I am leery of promoting. Although I'm always happy when someone finds svithing a useful concept, promoting the concept to others seems self-promotional somehow.

The third is #twitness which has hardly been strongly used by anyone to this point --- it could certainly be repurposed. The problem I see is that bearing witness is a phrase less used by Mormons than bearing testimony (though #twestimony is kinda lame).

Anyway, I'm not promoting any particular concept, nor am I convinced the Twitter Stake had enough mass to make something like this a solid phenomenon. But I do think that Mormons (or any serious religious denomination, for that matter) should think about their presence online. And that's best done by the plebes, not the hierarchy. So it's worth discussing and experimenting with and figuring out.

That's all. Dicuss. Here or on Twitter. Remember, I'm @thmazing.

this #svithe on thutopia
last week's #svithe[tacular]


Svithetacular 179.5



President Monson
    Five new temples. I was fighting the computer, so I only caught Brigham City, Chile and Sapporo. I'm sure I could check Twitter though.

    Lady Steed's Mac won't kill the hiccupping video feed so we've got two off feeds going at the same time. Still, it's better than my laptop. I was going to take notes there, but the keyboard doesn't work.

    His blessing for us as we listen.

Elder Richard Scott
    What can we do to enhance our capacity to be led to correct decisions in our lives?

    Father in Heaven knew we would be faced with decisions beyond our capacity to choose correctly. Ergo, Holy Ghost.

    Use the HG consistently --- that's what God wants.

    There's no consistent formula to be guided by the Spirit.

    Spirituality yields two fruits: inspiration to know what to do, the power to do it.

    Those come together.

    Cf 1N3:7.

    Beware those who choose to impress rather than become a conduit for inspiration.

    "Is there more I should know?"

    Best to write down inspiration as it comes.

    Big O holds the baby. The baby cries. Elder Scott should really either give us a minute or at least Speak Up a Little!

    No porn, folks

    We can learn the principles of being guided by the Spirit

    and thus live lives of great peace and happiness

Didn't catch who this lady is---40m later, via Twitter: Sister Matsumori
    The missionaries stop at one last house, a home teacher calls someone he had just visited, a YW decides to ditch the party

    How did they know to do that?????

    The Holy Ghost!

    She cops to not feeling different immediately upon being baptized or confirmed.

    It takes time to understand what and when the Spirit is.

    Trying to find a still small moment in our edays is not easy.

    a warm blanket

Thanks to Twitter, we know this is Elder William Clayton
    firewood in burlap, rope around forehead

    now for metaphysical burdens

    some no fault of our own
    ---other people

    whatever the burden, from heaven's perspective, last but a short while

    cursed is the ground for our sake
    work a continual burden for our sake

    if we are compelled to be humble, well, blessed are we

Twitter says.....Russell T. Osguthorpe?

    Missionaries like doctors.

    Sunday classes not about pouring in info.

    Are overintellectualized Sunday schools becoming a big problem or something?

    teaching that teaches about then shows how to take action

    He's a recovered giverupper.

Elder Bednar (twitter is awesome --- wish I'd thought of it earlier to fill my temple and speaker gaps)

    We know we should, but do we do?

    "such love is the desire of the soul"

    bear testimony in the home

    When did you last?

    we should look for and create opportunities to bear testimony

    testimony creates light out of the dark

    some lessons will fail, but CONSISTENCY is the greatest lesson

    Comparing what's getting tweeted with what I'm hearing, I'm about five minutes behind.

President Dieter F Uctdorf
    What do people think of Mormons?

    Geez. Mormons are weird.

    Baby screams, boy sings, I can't hear anything.

    love of good things the source of joy
    love of the notsogood the source of notjoy

    since God is love, the closer we approach him, the more profoundly we experience love

    an earnest desire to become more like Him because we love Him
    thus becoming born again, cleansed in the blood

    How can we hear the Father's voice?
    He will answer us.
    As you read the scriptures, or conference or are in the temple or at church, listen for his voice. In nature, listen. In daily interactions with others, in a hymn, in a child's laugh, listen for his voice.

    His voice will lead you on a course to the pure love of Christ.

    Love the path to consecration.

    What should be THE defining attribute of members of CJCLDS?
    Let us be known as a people that love our God and love our neighbors as does Jesus Christ.

    And as we do, we become aware of what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.


Elder DHOakes
    Sorry. Further computer issues. Trying to get caught up.

    Basically, true love doesn't take hostages and sometimes life sucks, but God still loves us no matter what you think. (Basically.)

    The general consensus on Twitter at the moment is that if Elder Oakes is talking about the connection between love and law, then, as he is particularly qualified to do so, we should listen.

    This is a different take on the God-is-like-unto-your-own-parents simile. It's an interesting exploration he's taking. I'll definitely need to reread this more closely in future weeks.

    plug for agency

    "courageous confrontation" --- love often requires that, rather than giving in to indulgent self-destruction of the beloved

    love of children does not require rejection of God's laws

Elder RBHales
    Belief in God --- why is it so important?

    Why did Jesus say that life eternal is to know God and the christ he sent?

    I think Elder Hales is missing a chance here. Atheism is becoming a more layered and positive philosophy. Rejection of God is not a clear connection to a lack or morality anymore. It would be good, I think, not to reject atheism as an error outright but, as we do with other faith systems, say bring what you have and let us see if we cannot add more.

    The reality and physicality of God.

    "we know the father and the son have feelings for us"

    The god-weeping verse needs more discussion. I recently learned that Joseph Smith may have intended to remove that from Moses.

    "according to the dictates of our own conscious"
    "and allow all...the same privelege"
    "worship how where and what they may"

    if we do not yield to the gentle influence of the HG we risk becoming like Korihor

    seek a testimony of God now

    these lessing to your family forever

Elder Zeballos
    If you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life.

    This divine promise POSSIBLE to ACHIEVE

    isn't promise, you know, pretty awesome incentive?

    all ye that embark in the service of God, see that you serve him with all your heart might mind and strength
    (with all our being)
    that we may stand blameless before God at the last day

    the command to become perfect as He is *encourages* us to do our best, to uncover our talents, etc

    eternal life for all mankind

    not requisite to run faster than we have strength

    be diligent to win the prize

    God cannot expect more than our best nor accept less.

    our saviour to whom we owe everything

    by grace we are saved after all we can do

    faith dedication enthusiasm love --- use all to achieve what is impossible without divine assistance

    the most glorious of realities: to live forever with god and our families

    Like Paul, to fight the good right, finish the course, keep the faith

    Yes! It's possible to be happy now and forever!

Brother Callister
    I'm now holding the baby who seems like it might be coming down with a fever. May impact my notetaking.

    I'm glad to hear about angels.

Elder Anderson
    the joy of something (I was interrupted midtype)

    repentance a blessing to all of us

    "a period of riotous living" lol

    do we listen less upon praying?

    why does sadness sometimes live past repentance

    Why do they always insist that we will remember a story?

President Packer
    Another truly distinctive voice, even as it ages.

    cow, chicken, lots of children

    all beings with bodies have power over those who do not

    adding to the stage metaphor, P now intoduces a mental delete key



President Eyring
    Every Latter-day Saint an optimist

    My family agrees that "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" a homerun Primary song. Who wrote it...?

    Love of God leads us to keep his commandments
    Love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey him

    Family given as an example of an ideal place

    SURPRISE!!!! This talk is about love too! (Anyone catching a theme, here?)

    Pray for the love that allows you to see the good in your companion, that makes the less than great things seem small, that makes you want to bear her/his burdens


    Prodigal son

    Orson F Whitney: Promised that parents who stay true, tentacles of divine providence, pray for kids, etc

    How nice to be asked about one's family, ah, ah, whip out the pictures, ah.

    Gift through loving obedience, great shall be the peace of your children.

    THE WAY lies through Jesus Christ

Elder Perry
    He and the wife went to the Mormon Miracle Pageant this summer in Manti

    15000 in one night! Wow!

    Incidentally, in Manti, great little ice cream place. Only licorice ice cream I've ever had.

    There's something about facing the lessons of the past that prepares us to face the future.

    Embracing the gospel results in a complete change of life

    That turn of phrase was confusing. Did he mean they knew it would be barren or that they were used to green hills etc.?

    Having converted one desert, get out of here, go to a fresh desert, start over

    It is curious, the placement of the Manti Temple. If there wasn't one there, don't you think the best they could hope for today would be a small one? Probably in Ephraim instead?

    Use the lessons of the past to meet the future:
    shipbuilding leads to roofbuilding
    (waterproofing, etc)
    I'm pretty sure this wasn't a new innovation---they already knew this was how to build. They're Norwegian!

Bishop Burton
    We here at the Thteed house are thinking maybe Primary should be a little more intensive.

    "Virtue Traits" the outward manifestation of the inner man


    In our society, you never admit to wrongdoing unless it has already been proven beyond dispute already.

    Abandoning these Christcentered virtues will be DISASTROUS
    could even result in the rule of law being set aside

    This isn't a typical Burton talk at all. But I like it.

    Shame on the donut scamming little girl.

    Did he say that parents suffer more than the children they endeavor to teach? What does that mean?

    Integrity is the light that shines from a disciplined conscious.

    I am constantly astounded by how little integrity some of my students have. And saddened. You can't play on some kids' sense of honor because they haven't one.

    Dignity honesty and integrity are more important that revenge and rage. Another thing some kids just don't know.

    I didn't watch what all the lost and forgotten thing was about. Did I miss something or was that just a really weak bit of figurativeness?

    May we have humility responsibility opportunity etc. It actually worked pretty well. With a different reading, you might not even notice it.

Sister Dibbs Second Counselor of the YW and allegedly Pr Monson's daughter
    Nothing like a good disaster story to kick off a talk.

    Those damages had safety equipment but Chose Not to Use it. I can't imagine what the lesson here is going to be.

    PrMonson: Remember: You have access to HFather's guidance.

    Hold fast to the rod of iron.

    I hear on Twitter that Sis Dibbs never stops smiling and frequently speaks of disasters. I love it.

    Use the safety equipment!

    She confirms the daughter rumor.

Elder RM Nelson
    "Wireless telephones"?

    Prayer has no roaming fees! Awesome! Sign me up!

    Illegible midnight genius --- ah, we've all been there

    Don't steal, kill, bear false witness. (please)

    Some commandments for specific moments (eg, build an ark)

    Put off the natural man and become a Saint through Jesus and become as a child willing to submit to all things


    Read the story about the son's father and Elder Nelson's prophecy to him


    callings not for aggrandizement

    line upon line, precept upon precept

    TSM the Living Prophet
    that we may heed his counsel is my prayer in the name of....

President Thomas S Monson (speak of the, ah, prophet?)
    renewal of the No Retirement theme, this time in medicine instead of church
    (but I'm sure they will merge)

    Those who lose their lives in service grow and flourish and in effect save their lives.

    at our best when losing our own lives for others

    How often has daytoday living interfered?

    Take a step back and take a good look at what we're doing.

    We spend too much time caring for things that do not matter.

    We are the Lord's hands upon the earth with a mandate to serve.

    The ideal gift to Pr Mons is to serve someone in need

    warm fuzzies in a jar

    it isn't easy for those who are young to understand when life changes from a time of prep and perf to a time of putting things away, standing on the sidelines watching the procession pass by
    you have to live a long time to learn how empty is a room filled with nothing but furniture

    When saw we thee hungry and fed thee?

    He speaks to you and to me, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavyladen and I will give thee rest.
    For I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls.


Elder Holland
    I am very very sad that my, ah, emergency conflicted with the beginning of this talk. I love Elder Holland's talks.

    I have never heard this portion of the Martyrdom before. And he uses it to striking effect.

    "none of these frankly pathetic explanations for this book" (book of mormon)

    No wicked man COULD right it and no RIGHTEOUS man would (unless commanded to) -- JRH's grandpa

    You cannot leave this church without crawling over or under or through the Book of Mormon.

    It is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who wish not to believe in this work.
    (can't wait to read pathetic exmo reaction to that line)

    Holland is a masterful speaker, both in the writing and the presentation.

    His clear clear witness echoes Nephi's: hearken to these words and believe in Christ, or, if you don't believe these words, at least believe in Christ, and if you do believe in Christ, then you will believe in these words.
    He will show you that these are his words in the last day.

Elder Quentin Cook
    Hey! Love pleasure more than righteousness? Tch.

    Some serve because they believe it is the right thing to do.
    While good, a higher motive is when we serve our fellow man because God wants us to.
    Said someone, missed who, but that person said the LDSs seem to serve for that latter reason.

    We will be accountable for our own sins in our day of judgment.

    Two stewardships: ourselves; poor and needy. Those for discussion today.

    Keeping up the spring
    Restoring the spring

    God's standard of morality the same for all his children

    We are accountable to God. So how silly to rationalize. Like hiding our eyes and thinking mommy can't see.

    managing priorities, what putteth thou first?

    religious observance in the home as important as food clothing and shelter

    children unaware that they are accountable of the time talents etc at a disadvantage

    our stewardship for those in need inspire some of the strongest language in all scripture

    some members will always respond, no matter the sacrifices required

    No, of course you shouldn't run faster than you have strength, BUT BE DILIGENT

Lebrand N.Neilson?
    Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

    The Finnish/Soviet border and one more prophecy fulfilled

    NO GREATER WORK no greater call THAN teaching the NATIONS of the EARTH

    so leave your fishnets straightway and follow Him, ladies

    heart transplant as metaphor --- avoiding organ rejection

    the ultimate operation is a, wait for it, CHANGE OF HEART

    It's swiftly become clear that there is not enough room in this bed for all of us.

    easiness and willingness to believe in the word of God

    another talk about soft hearts. curious.

    I will Go and Do.

    Funny turn of phrase. Sounded like God wanted Lamoni's dad's sins. Maybe to try something different for a while.

    live worthy of the HG

Elder Sitati
    The Tower of Babel

    we are currently in the middle of many many many familial distractions; these last three talks are a blur

    allegory of the olive tree
    all nations become members of Israel

    "ready heckoning"? LS suggests 'beckoning'

    I never realized how much 'married' sounds like 'murdered'. Let's keep but one in the temple, shall we?

Elder Christofferson
    I do not believe there is a double standard of morality (faust) (that is, OUR faust)

    disciple and discipline's rootword relation suggests that one leads to the other

    moral certainty the foundation of moral discipline

    today we need laws to stopgap genteel traditions

    unethical conduct led to much of our current financial problems

    we can never have enough good-enough rules (or enforcement thereof) to stop bad people from being bad --- so just a reduction or freedom for the good

    we would not accept the burden of Christ so we must accept the burden of Caesar

    moral discipline learned at home

    those who don't want to 'impose' the gospel on their children with the idea that this is a better honoring of agency --- but without knowledge of the gospel, how will they compare it to the devil's hardball proselyting?

    curious thing: admitting sins only allowed when the occurred in childhood or were of the most minor-indiscretion type of sin

President Thomas S. Monson
    Phew! Print edition forthcoming!

    winds and waves and floods that can destroy
    HE is evermindful of us and will bless us as we do what is right

    how grateful we are that the heavens have been opened and the gospel restored

    We are a blessed people.

    And here's one more....

    He loves us and prays for us and asks for the same in return.

    May God bless us and his promised peace be with us now and ever.

    Oh, divine Redeemer!


Thutopia svithe: last svithe
Weekly Svithe: last svithe

General Conference Svithetaculars at Thutopia
176.0 176.5 177.0 177.5 178.0 178.5 179.0 179.5


General Conference Svithetaculars at The Weekly Svithe
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