Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority" By Elder Richard G. Scott

Find this talk here.

  • I don't disagree with what he's saying about needing to feel sadness to be able to feel happiness. I'd like it if he included the scriptures he's referring to in the text of the talk, rather than leaving them for footnotes.
  • He says our purpose is to come to earth "to be tested, tried and stretched." He doesn't include that the purpose behind this testing, trying, and stretching is so that we'll learn to come to Christ and follow Him. See Ether 12:27, Abraham 3:25, and lots of others.
  • I like that he talks about things we can do to use our faith. I tend to wait around for trials of my faith to appear, subconsciously considering those trials my only opportunity to use faith. I know intellectually that's wrong, but I tend to do it anyway.
  • I've found God to be far more talkative than I ever gave Him credit for. I don't take advantage of that enough.
    • There's more than just "buoyant peace" that comes from prayer. God talks back.
  • God does talk back through written word, but if you let Him, He'll talk back in much more interactive ways. Most of use refuse to let Him do it.
    • Even when talking back in ways other than by written words, God frequently quotes His scriptures.
    • The "voice of the divine" doesn't always sound like the King James bible.
  • Studying scriptures is a great way to show God you want a closer relationship with Him. It gives Him permission to teach you.
  • I don't doubt his promise that peace will come from studying the scriptures. I'll add, though, that you might not recognize it at the time.
  • "We all know there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the temples of God" I'm not sure I know that. I've been in a lot of peaceful places that weren't the sort of temples he's talking about.
    • I certainly have enjoyed my temple experiences more when doing family names I found.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Stay in the Boat and Hold On!" By Elder M. Russell Ballard

Find this talk here.

  • Brigham Young's examples of the Old Ship Zion come without any evidence to prove the truth of Brigham's claims. He seems to have felt it self-evident that the Church is the only way to avoid getting "drowned", and "[safely] into the harbor", and assures us that "you need not be concerned," but there's nothing to back up those claims. "We are on the old ship Zion ... [God] is at the helm and will stay there" is equivalent to chanting "All is well" unless supported by actual evidence.
  • Alma's question about continuing to feel a change of heart is important. It's a sign of having received the baptism of fire.
  • The difference between "experienced river guides" and Church leaders is that river guides show evidence (the scriptures call this "fruits") to back up their claims of being worth following. The scriptures ensure us that prophets and apostles will bear certain fruits, and modern Church leaders generally haven't done that. Christ even used his fruits to prove who he was to John's disciples, rather than making claims.
  • This is ludicrous. Elder Ballard quotes himself, as evidence that his leadership is infallible: "Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. … We will not and … cannot lead [you] astray." This is heretical, non-scriptural doctrine, which encourages idolatry and spiritual laziness.
    • It gets worse. He told the mission presidents to whom he first delivered that quote to "teach your missionaries to focus their eyes on us" No, we should follow Christ, not man. The scriptures are clear on that point.
    • Apparently, though, those who refuse to accept Ballard's heresy "leave the Old Ship Zion—they fall away; they apostatize."
  • "Our local Church leaders, like seasoned river guides, have been tutored by life’s experiences; have been trained and mentored by apostles and prophets and other officers of the Church; and, most important, have been tutored by the Lord Himself." This would be wonderful if they actually had been tutored by the Lord Himself, but most local Church leaders regularly admit they have not. This becomes obvious sometimes, like when our bishop determined that my wife and I were comparable to Ron and Dan Lafferty, convicted double murders, because we felt God had given us instructions the bishop didn't agree with.
  • "When you thoughtfully consider our lives and ministry, you will most likely agree that we see and experience the world in ways few others do. You will realize that we live less in a ‘bubble’ than most people" This is more of Ballard vaunting himself, claiming he can't lead us astray and is free of the commoner's problem of bias and provincialism. This is the same Elder Ballard who demonstrated his brilliant and unbiased grasp of life by gracelessly instructing an audience of young single adults that the women among them should wear a little lipstick so as not to look like boys.
  • "We need to become like the sons of Mosiah, who 'waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth.' We can become men and women 'of a sound understanding.' This can be accomplished only by our 'search[ing] the scriptures diligently, that [we] might know the word of God.'" Yes. Absolutely. It helps a lot in that process if you quit accepting the idea that any particular source must always be perfectly true.
  • "In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves 'to much prayer, and fasting.'" This is also absolutely true.
  • He speaks of people he's known who leave "the boat" and of whom many "have lost their focus on the central truths of the gospel." It would help those of the Church who seek to address the flood of members leaving the ranks if they would admit that there are many who leave who have not lost that focus.
  • "If we keep our focus on the Lord, we are promised a blessing beyond comparison." Ok, but are we supposed to focus on the Lord, or on the leaders of the Church? Earlier, he says he taught mission presidents to teach their missionaries to "focus their eyes on us". Which is it?
    • As for me and my house, we'll choose the Lord.
  • "Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding" If this is true, quit excommunicating people for asking questions.
  • "The important questions focus on what matters most—Heavenly Father’s plan and the Savior’s Atonement." Again, are we to focus on the atonement, or on Church leaders?
  • "we will seek you, find you, minister to you, and pull you safely back onto the Old Ship Zion" This hasn't been my experience, but perhaps that's because I'm not convinced the "Old Ship Zion" is safe.

Ponder the Path of Thy Feet By President Thomas S. Monson

Find this talk here.

  • I suspect we left our Father with more than just "an overwhelming desire to return to Him." I suspect there were ordinances and covenants involved in ways we don't currently understand. To be clear, I have no reason to believe Pres. Monson disagrees with that assessment.
    • Ether 12 tells us Christ has given us weakness to teach us humility, and that we are supposed to learn to humble ourselves to allow Christ's grace to convert those weaknesses to strengths. So what were we like, I wonder, before Christ gave us weakness?
  • He talks of Christ's "lament over Jerusalem as He closed His public ministry." That's an interesting event we don't hear much about, and I'm glad he mentioned it. It reminds me of Mormon talking about "ye fair ones".
  • "We, as servants, can expect no more than the Master, who left mortality only after great pain and suffering." Lectures on Faith says much the same thing, that if Abraham was required to sacrifice his only son to gain salvation, we can hardly expect to gain salvation ourselves without a similar offering on our part.
    • Those who blithely suggest they're saved simply because they've been endowed and sealed -- and those who suggest I must be damned because I openly question the validity of those ordinances -- demonstrate woeful ignorance of scripture and dearth of thought.
  • "Let us remember that the end result of disobedience is captivity and death, while the reward for obedience is liberty and eternal life." True enough, but what sort of obedience are we concerned about? Put another way, as we're striving to be obedient, do we focus on the most important things? Or do we "pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and [omit] the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith"? It's most important to recognize and obey the Spirit, but if you listen to conference you'd think avoiding doubt and pornography are the most important things.
  • "His parables teach with power and authority." I sometimes wonder what that actually means.
  • "With the parable of the lost sheep, He instructs us to go to the rescue of those who have left the path and have lost their way." No mention of how to identify the path and those who aren't on it.
  • I'm grateful to see another conference talk that talks about Christ. I wish his testimony of Christ resembled that of Joseph Smith's. There's lots of power in hearing a credible witness testify they've seen Christ.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"The Sacrament and the Atonement" By Elder James J. Hamula

Find this talk here.

  • I think it's interesting that in the Luke 22 version of the last supper, Christ passes the wine before the bread. The Matthew, Mark, and 3 Nephi versions all do it in the customary order, and John doesn't seem to talk about it (or perhaps I missed it).
  • "To those who would so signify and conduct their life, spiritual death would 'pass over' them, and eternal life would be assured." It's the meal of the passover that signifies that passing over, not the bread and wine. The only promise mentioned in the sacramental prayer is to have Christ's spirit to be with us.
  • It's interesting that so many believers insist on an ordinance similar to the Last Supper, because the scriptures command that we always observe to do it, but we ignore feast days and sabbaths that come with similar commandments, thinking they've been done away with the rest of the Law of Moses.
  • It might be sort of a stretch to suggest that by taking the sacrament "we acknowledge" our own resurrection.
  • "small cup of water" is interesting. The scriptural accounts of the sacrament that talk about the amounts agree that the partakers ate until they were filled.
    • Some have suggested that the bitterness of red wine is symbolic of the bitterness of the crucifixion. I don't know about that, and I do know that today's D&C 27 says "it mattereth not" what we use. But I think we miss something by using little morsels of bread and tiny thimbles of tap water.
    • The Church History Museum has a display of the last supper which is almost laughable. Glass glasses filled with water, but laid on a red tablecloth so they kind of look like there is something red in them.
  • Now he mentions the sequence of bread followed by water, which again reminds me of Luke's unconventional ordering. But I think he might be describing an important symbol I hadn't considered, in that part of his discussion.
    • I'm certainly willing to believe that our modern version of Luke simply gets the order wrong.
  • He doesn't explicitly reject the commonly preached doctrine that we need to struggle against our own sins, ourselves, but he comes close, and it's very nice. The scriptures make clear that though we shouldn't necessarily ignore our weakness, and certainly shouldn't simply embrace it and allow it to control us, we're expected not to conquer our weakness ourselves but to come to Christ and let Him make weak things strong for us.
    • Later he falls back to the "we've gotta overcome" Kool-Aid.
  • "This is the doctrine of Christ" (that we repent and be baptized)  Scripturally, our insistence on other ordinances and nuances of doctrine are not the doctrine of Christ, and if we really insist on them, we're preaching "more or less than [His gospel]" and are condemned for doing so.
  • The Church talks about the "Spirit of Christ" as distinct from the "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit" (these last two are interchangeable in modern Church parlance). The sacrament prayers are pretty clear that it's "His Spirit", that is, Christ's Spirit we're always to have with us if we keep our end of the bargain, which contradicts the common assertion that everyone has Christ's Spirit.
  • Nowhere do the scriptures back up the Church's insistence on having the sacrament only when a bishop is around to bestow his favor on it. It's interesting that the sacrament, which everyone agrees is so important, will get you excommunicated if you do it without the bishop's say so.

"Eternal Life—to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ" By Elder Robert D. Hales

Find this talk here.

  • The Father's love for Christ is definitely noticeable. I was thinking of that the other day when reading John 1:18, which the JST helpfully expands. The King James says that "no man hath seen God at any time", but Joseph Smith clarified that by adding "... except he hath borne record of the Son." Christ really is our intermediary in every way, so God the Father simply testifies that Christ is the one we need to pay attention to, and then He steps aside and lets Christ run the show.
  • "[Eternal life] comes through a matter of personal revelation" Absolutely true, and it's wonderful that someone would say this. Joseph Smith taught that we can only know we're on the proper course in our lives through revelation from heaven, and that if we obtain salvation it will be because Christ has come to us and promised it. The Church today will deny this interpretation, but D&C 76 is clear that we need to receive Christ while we're in the flesh in order to obtain the celestial kingdom. We must have Christ visit us and promise us eternal life, in order to get to the celestial kingdom. That's what it means to "know" God, and that's the personal revelation that gives us eternal life.
    • Fortunately, with some searching, we also learn that God is far more forgiving and merciful than most of us give Him credit for, meaning we're not nearly so eternally stuck as we might tend to believe, if we don't receive Christ in the flesh.
  • "this does not mean that some people will forever be dependent upon the testimonies of others." This, too, is very helpful. It's easy for people to despair when they don't believe as strongly as they'd like to, or put another way, they want to believe, like Alma said, but they can't yet find sufficient evidence to convince themselves. That's a hard position to be in, and we're all in it unless we've received our calling and election, or we're willing to lay hold on fallible, emotion-based evidence.
  • "My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from [various sources] and especially the Holy Ghost. ... In this process, seeking for personal revelation is a key" The scriptures tell us that faith comes from hearing the word of the Lord, so this is exactly how it should work
  • It's awfully nice to hear someone teach from the scriptures. We do that so rarely.
    • It's also nice to hear some actually testify of Christ

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Live according to the Words of the Prophets" By Carol F. McConkie

Find this talk here.

  • Do prophets always hold keys? I've mentioned before that I find our discussion of keys in the Church somewhat lacking, and if that's true, this question may be unanswerable.
  • It's interesting she'd cite D&C 132. We almost never read it, perhaps because it is confusing. For instance, it contradicts itself when saying once that plural marriage is fine when the first wife gives her consent, and then later suggesting her consent isn't actually necessary. It also says plural wives should be virgins, yet many of Joseph and Brigham's plural wives were either previously married, or in some cases concurrently married. Finally, it directly contradicts the Book of Mormon when it claims David's plural wives were actually justified, in some cases. Frankly, I think Brigham Young tampered with section 132 before it was canonized; we don't have anything remotely like the original copy anymore to verify it against, and it's far less internally consistent than Joseph's revelations usually were. Anyway, it's interesting to see it quoted.
  • She quotes from D&C 21 and claims it refers to the prophet of whatever time we happen to live in. In fact, that verse refers only to Joseph Smith, as is clear upon close reading.
  • She says the Apostles "prophesy in the name of Christ." But they don't. Even when you take the broader definition of "prophet" and "prophesy", which doesn't require telling the future but instead denotes supernaturally received information or power (supported in scripture by such incidents as Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, or the man "blind from birth"), they still don't meet that qualification.
  • Once again, we get the modern misinterpretation of “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” It doesn't mean that anything a Church leader says is the word of God, as is clear from reading the context. It means the Lord will fulfill His promises, whether He does it Himself, or gets a servant to do it.
  • "We are grateful for a church 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.'" Yes, we definitely are. It was the testimony I heard from someone who claims to have seen Christ (and would thus qualify as an apostle) that started getting me excited about the gospel. I still don't know for myself whether that man's testimony was true, but it doesn't really matter; I'm not following that man, anyway.
  • "We need not be 'tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.'" If you compare the doctrine of the early church with that of today, you can see we've been tossed exactly like that. Hence polygamy starting and ending, temple ordinances changing regularly despite Joseph Smith (and Isaiah, and others) making clear they must never be changed, blacks and the priesthood, etc.
  • The "knowledge of the Son of God" Paul refers to in the scripture she quotes is more than just intellectual knowledge; it means we've seen Christ, talked with Him, and made covenants directly with Him.
  • It's interesting to consider what previous exposure the widow may have had to Elijah. The scriptures give no indication that he was some sort of ecclesiastical leader to whom the widow would have given a sustaining vote, for instance. Presumably the Spirit confirmed Elijah's promise (made, notably, in the name of "the Lord God of Israel"), to the widow. We should seek the same confirmation when leaders or others tell us to do something.
  • "We heed prophetic word even when it may seem unreasonable, inconvenient, and uncomfortable." Yes, given the Lord's confirmation, we do. And we receive subsequent witnesses from the Lord that it was right. This sustains us even when unthinking family members and friends accuse us of deception and evil because of the uncomfortable things we've chosen to do.
  • "But following the prophet is always right." I wonder if she's read the story of the two prophets in 1 Kings 13...
  • "The words of the prophets are like manna to our souls." I mentioned a man who claimed to have seen Christ. I found his words "like manna", because they helped me understand the scriptures. The Lord then opened my eyes further, that I understood the scriptures still better. Generally Church leaders don't talk in detail about scripture anymore, so I don't have that experience listening to them.
  • The line attributed to J. Golden Kimball about not getting anywhere in the Church without either "inspiration, perspiration, or relation" came to mind when she started quoting Bruce R. McConkie, her uncle-in-law.
  • "May we open our ears to hear, our hearts to understand, and our minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to our view." This is an excellent thing to be praying for. It's what Nephi prayed for when he needed to know whether to follow Lehi and the rest of the family, and it's what the scriptures call a "softened heart".

"Sustaining the Prophets" By Elder Russell M. Nelson

Find this talk here.

  • Elder Nelson asks if we understand what sustaining means. I wonder if he does. This talk mentions "common consent", which is where the idea of sustaining comes from, but it doesn't talk about what it meant at the time nor the scriptural basis for that meaning. Instead, it builds on modern tribal interpretation to concoct a whole new meaning for sustaining.
  • He claims the counsel of the prophet will be "counsel will be untainted, unvarnished, unmotivated by any personal aspiration, and utterly true!" Where does he get that idea? The scriptures are full of examples of prophets that were far more fallible and human than that. For a few examples, let's look at 2 Samuel 7, where through Nathan the Lord promises David a prophet descendant and predicts that the prophet will sin, and be chastised by men because of it. Or 1 Kings 13 where a prophet sinfully accepts an invitation to dinner, and is killed because of it? Or all the times Joseph Smith is chastised for his failures in the D&C? Or the comments from modern church leaders about never landing on the moon? Or the chapters in Ezekiel that warn that the Lord will blind the peoples' prophets if the people trust them too much (Ezek 14:4 is one such)? Frankly I think that last promise has been fulfilled in our day, in spades.
  • "Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry." Exactly true. And through the time of Joseph Smith, they actually testified that they had seen Christ and stood in God's presence.
  • The verse he cites regarding common consent doesn't have anything to do with common consent. Common consent means the members of the church have to agree when they do things, and that's how it was treated for some time after the founding of the church. These days, however, voting against whatever the leaders say will get you disciplined.
  • "No prophet has ever been elected." That's sort of true. He's right that most of the time people don't campaign (the 1844 succession crisis is one notable exception). But some have not taken office, or have been delayed, because the people didn't sustain them. Frederick G. Williams is one notable example.
  • "You and I do not 'vote' on Church leaders at any level." Not anymore, we don't.
  • "Man’s ways remove people from office or business when they grow old or become disabled." God's way is for people to remove themselves, like King Benjamin did.
  • "Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us." What does it mean that some other person's calling is binding upon us? Does that mean that if they're in a position of authority over us, we are by our sustaining vote indicating we've sworn an oath always to follow their instructions? The Lord certainly wouldn't ever ask us to swear such allegiance to a fallible human, so either the prophet is infallible (something Church leaders routinely deny), or we shouldn't be making that kind of oath.
    • For that matter, the only test for a prophet's legitimacy given in scripture is that that prophet brings forth prophetic fruits. Few Church leaders have even claimed to have brought forth such fruits, let alone proven their claims.
    • The George Albert Smith quote helps clarify this, particularly in that "we will strive to carry out [the instructions of the person we sustain] as the Lord shall direct." I might be willing to take an oath to carry out some person's instructions if the Lord ratified those instructions.
  • "They hold all the priesthood keys that have ever been conferred upon man in this dispensation." It would be fascinating if someone would finally talk about what priesthood keys there are, and who has them. Right now the entire subject is, in its details, a matter of cultural speculation.
  • "[The] decisions of these leaders must be unanimous." They also need to follow the scriptures. Unfortunately many of those decisions made today don't.
    • "These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached!" This brings up an important point, namely how we know what the Lord's will is, or more generally, how we recognize the Spirit. I've felt the same good feelings others have, when a church leader enters the room and everyone stands, or when listening to General Conference, or when taking the sacrament or attending the temple. I have, however, come to doubt that those feelings are a reliable indicator of truth. Joseph Smith said the Holy Ghost communicates pure intelligence, and many of those feelings in my experience don't communicate intelligence. Moreover, I've felt much the same feeling in entirely non-spiritual situations, like at a rodeo, when there has been nothing for that feeling to confirm as true. Finally, psychology shows people have feelings like that all the time, like when they're raised in North Korea and the Dear Leader comes on TV. On the other hand, I have felt pure intelligence, and I've had confirmatory experiences when I've followed that intelligence. I do know the Spirit works, but it doesn't work the way the Church teaches.
  • "Counterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray." So why do the scriptures predict the institutional Church will grow apostate? D&C 85 says the church will require "one mighty and strong ... to set in order the House of God".
  • Having those people in whose hands the Church rests say "I assure you that the Church is in good hands" doesn't necessarily mean a lot. It's like when Elder Ballard quotes himself saying he and his colleagues can't lead the Church astray.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Continuing Revelation" By President Henry B. Eyring

Find this talk here.

  • "There are many listening today who feel a pressing need for that blessing of personal revelation from our loving Heavenly Father."  Yes, there are.
  • "with [the establishment of the Church] was restored the power to invoke the Holy Ghost so that revelation from God could be continuous." This betrays a misunderstanding common in the Church. The scriptures teach not that duly authorized men give the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, but that the Lord gives the gift, in His own due time. Also, even without the gift of the Holy Ghost, revelation can be continuous. The gift of the Holy Ghost, remember, is the promise that its companionship will be constant; it can be constant without that promise.
  • He says Pres. Packer told us about revelation as "that identifying mark of the true Church", but that's not what Pres. Packer said in his quote, and it's not an identifying mark of anything. Everyone, church member or not, gift of the Holy Ghost or not, is able to receive revelation, if the Lord chooses to bestow it. It's not a marker of anything, other than the Lord's favor, and we certainly don't have a monopoly on that.
  • In another story of a response to another of Lehi's revelations, Nephi tells us precisely how he went about securing the confirmatory revelation Pres. Eyring talks about. Nephi tells us he prayed that his heart would be softened. We need to do the same thing.
  • Now Pres. Eyring is equating family rules with revelation. Is that the personal revelation he told us earlier so many people are searching for? The revelation that their family should have rules? As Joseph Smith put it, God isn't trifling with us. Yes, family rules are important, and yes, "small and simple things" and all that. But having family rules is exactly the sort of thing "human judgment and logical thinking" will come up with on their own; the same judgment and thinking that Pres. Eyring rightly told us earlier aren't sufficient for the things that matter most.
  • It's stuff like the Teton Dam story that I think we need to hear more of. Clearly there were times there when God reached down and directed things in such a way that those involved knew it was His power and not theirs. We need testimonies in our day that such things are possible. Poetry and faith promoting rumor are nice, if you don't mind taking the time, but what we really need is testimony, or in other words, we need to share the evidence on which our faith is built.
  • "[A feeling of love for the president of the Church] is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God." Perhaps, but do you have any evidence of it? Something in scripture, perhaps? Because from my perspective, the love most Church members show for their president matches very closely with the hero worship we see in North Koreans for whichever Kim Jong happens to be in charge at the time. On the other hand, there is evidence -- actual hard evidence -- that Joseph Smith received intelligence from some higher power, that God has a hand in our daily lives, and that angels visit the earth. But I don't see any evidence beyond unsupported claims of Church apologists that love for the leaders of the Church is anything more than hero worship.
  • "the Lord often asks His prophets to give counsel that is hard for people to accept." You mean like the counsel to be a good example that Pres. Monson gave in the priesthood session? Not particularly hard.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Guided Safely Home" By President Thomas S. Monson

Find this talk here.

  • I wonder sometimes that we talk remarkably rarely about how to identify priesthood, in the Church. The scriptures make several things clear enough:
    • The Hebrews had the higher priesthood, but God took it away from them, leaving them with the Levitical priesthood. Note that the scriptures don't make clear whether the Hebrews knew they'd been deprived of higher priesthood, or not, nor how they'd have known.
    • Christ acknowledged the lesser priesthood still held by the Jews, during His ministry. Apparently it's hard to lose the lesser priesthood through bad behavior.
    • D&C 121 makes clear that some form of the priesthood, at least, is conditional upon good behavior. 
    • D&C 121 also says we'll understand the "doctrine of the priesthood" only after we let 'virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly" and have "bowels ... full of charity". So on the assumption that most of us haven't done that, the priesthood is something we probably don't understand all that well.
      • That's probably why, for all its talk of priesthood keys, the Church can't provide a list of those keys, nor what they do, and why even though Brigham Young taught that there are keys we don't have, the temple recommend interview requires members to claim the president of the church holds all priesthood keys.
    • D&C 124 makes clear that the fulness of the priesthood was something we had, but it was taken away, and couldn't be restored until we built the Nauvoo House -- something we never completed.
      • The standard Church narrative is that these verses speak of the Nauvoo temple, but the section talks about the Nauvoo House just previous to those verses, and never indicates that it is changing subject. Further, the Church claims the Nauvoo temple was completed, but this is very debatable, perhaps most obviously because we have no record of the fulness of anything having been restored.
  • Anyway, whether the body gathered there had the priesthood or not, I don't blame Pres. Monson for feeling humbled at having to speak to such a crowd. That would be tough.
  • It's interesting that after talking about how important it is to have guidance in life, the first concrete example of something from which to get guidance that Pres. Monson gives is the stars. The scriptures make clear the heavens are there to communicate messages from God to us (cf. Jeremiah 31:34, or most of the book of Abraham), and the most reasonable interpretation of the book of Revelation, of which I'm aware anyway, involves constellations and planets intimately. Yet the Church doesn't even talk about astronomy anymore, and tries to diminish the credibility of those Church members who do talk about such things.
  • Pres. Monson says we should follow "the Master", but he gives no concrete examples of how to do that, other than "be worthy." Is this the message of revelation and prophecy we're to expect from the Lord in times Pres. Monson rightly describes as surrounded in sin?
    • Ok, now he's saying we should be good examples. Thanks for that.
  • "Our Heavenly Father will not leave our sincere petition unanswered." I'd love to hear specific testimony of that claim. I believe it; it seems to have been true in my life. But of all the messages I've ever heard regarding the gospel, the most influential have been those that either expounded the scriptures, or that testified that principles taught there are true.
    • For instance, I can testify from experience that living what Christ tells you to do will get you dragged before Church and government leaders, and that when that happens, we don't need to worry about what to say, because Christ will tell us in the very moment what we should say (cf. Matt 10)
    • Easily the most immediately meaningful gospel message I've heard was one where a man claimed to have seen Christ, and received promises from Him. I don't know if the claim to have seen Christ was true, but I've learned that the scriptures teach it could be, and that that's the blessing we need to seek in this life. That has taught me to love the scriptures, more than any other message I've ever heard.
  • Too bad this talk didn't really say anything.