Friday, September 25, 2015

"The Law of the Fast: A Personal Responsibility to Care for the Poor and Needy" by Bishop Dean M. Davies

Find this talk here.

  • These are remarkable times, indeed, in terms of the technology and science the Lord has given us. It's also remarkable that now, when we have people who we claim are prophets, seers, and revelators, they almost never show evidence of the spiritual gifts of healing and revelation their scriptural counterparts manifested.
  • It's also interesting that although General Conference talks regularly point out, as this one did, increased human violence and natural disaster around the world, as the scriptures have predicted, the Church downplays the rest of the scriptural predictions, namely that the world is imploding.
  • Yes, "when and where possible" the Church does an awful lot of humanitarian service, which is no doubt a good thing. One wonders how much more they could do if they quit buying advertising in Times Square, and making big screen movies about caricatured "Mormons". If we're really supposed to take care of the poor, let's quit wasting time and money on relatively worthless endeavors such as those, or on employing thousands of Church employee drones who waste their days trying valiantly to live their idea of the gospel against the constant restraint of an institutional bureaucracy that rivals the government in stagnation and corporate boot-licking. Let's instead use our resources for the poor. The amount of money spent on Church educational materials (most of which the members ignore and all of which are wholly inane), advertising and public relations materials, focus groups and market research (yes, the Church does lots of market research, such as before making changes to temple ordinances to see if they'll go down well), and especially on our army of paid clergy, dwarfs the Church's fast offering and humanitarian budget. That this fact is widely known despite the Church's far-reaching efforts to keep its accounting secret demonstrates even more clearly just how wide the gulf between the two budgets really is.
  • How many of us call, and have the Lord actually answer, as Isaiah promises, even when we obey the Church's regular fasts with strictness? In our stake conference, Elder Ballard told us that he's grateful for "trained scholars" in the church who can answer his questions about Church history and the scriptures. So it sounds like Elder Ballard, at least, isn't in the habit of asking the Lord and receiving answers from Him.
  • Bishop Davies tells us that the commandment to fast and give fast offerings promises extraordinary blessings. But the Isaiah text he refers to doesn't limit our requirement in that way. Instead, Isaiah says we're commanded to loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. That's far more than just fasting and giving an offering, and it's not everything Isaiah says we're supposed to do. He also tells us to bring the poor into our houses, cover the naked, and assist our needy relatives.
  • Once again we have mention of priesthood keys, this time used to distribute fast offering resources. Does anyone actually have a good idea what priesthood keys exist, in the church's thinking? Is there a list somewhere? (Answer: No)

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