Friday, October 7, 2016

Another “interesting” exchange on social media

Since I've been so bad about posting ANYTHING lately, I'm trying to rectify that.  
So here it is: another “interesting” exchange on a social media platform.
Again, I'm posting this to 1) preserve it; and 2) see if anyone that might read this blog has any further comment.
To be fair to all, I've included the entire thread, and only changed the names to protect the innocent. ;)

(Inspired by John Dehlin) I post the following: 

Any of my LDS friends wanna explain this?

First response is from a woman who joined the church™ just before my ward was split (actually "re-alligned" since the new boundaries didn't result in any actual new units, just the "re-naming" of the existing ones) about 2 1/2 years ago.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Do you have friends in that investment group?

I'm Dence: The investment group is not owned by some Mormons, it's a subsidiary company of the church. It's presumably funded by tithing. (of course if they'd actually disclose and have a vote on where tithing is spent like D&C 104:71 requires) we wouldn't have to presume.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Yeah, I would have to presume that your presumption is off-base. The church has been involved in commercial investments and businesses since the time they entered the Salt Lake Valley, with no established commercial businesses to support the Saints who relocated there. Their earliest commercial ventures were for communications (newspaper) banking, and commercial real estate. Now, if you want to trace the use of tithes all the way back to 1847 when they first started their commercial ventures, then you might have a case. But the church since has used the profits of their tax-paying commercial ventures to invest and purchase other commercial ventures. That is my understanding how purchases such as this one you question is financed, not through the tithes and offerings of the membership.

I'm Dence: Wow KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP, that's a pretty white washed view of history. 
BTW why would you think my presumption is off base?
The only funds the church has come from what folks donate. (And this, 'we invested it for x years and then separated the interest" doesn't magically change that)
Also, you apparently don't know that the church isn't even the same entity today that it was in 1847.
Further, up until I believe 1958 they actually disclosed expenditures in general conference (Rather than read a statement that they substantially comply with basic accounting procedures in receiving donations) the d&c is petty clear on how no expenditures are to be made without the common consent of the members. So where's the revelation changing that actual revelation?
Finally, my point is that there are many charitable ways to spend, and rarely is investing one of them. How do you justify a church buying something like this (unless they plan to let the poor of Texas live there free) when they could build a hospital, or an orphanage, or dozens of other things?

MY OLD BABYSITTER WHO NOW LIVES IN TEXAS: Well, maybe the RUMORS of a BYU Texas are coming true! hahaha

I'm Dence: Hadn't heard that rumor.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Meh, drop in the bucket compared to City Creek.

I'm Dence: Or Florida, or Hawaii...
(still doesn't make it right)

MISSION FLAT MATE: It is strange I have to admit.....every Sunday, we need more money for the missionaries, more money for this, more money for that. Ok, sell one of these multi billion dollar properties and'll have money.

I'm Dence: Aww come on. Its all just about an opportunity for you to sacrifice. Its for your own good. lol

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Every Sunday you get requests for money?

MISSION FLAT MATE: For various causes in the church, yes.

MISSION FLAT MATE: I never understood why every year the church asks the members to pay more in fast offerings, no matter how much you paid in 2015, pay more in 2016, etc.

If you carried out this policy every year for say 30 years, eventually 100% of your income would be going to the church, then you'd be on welfare.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: I'm sorry. I almost never hear it in our building. Might be something to point out to trusted leaders. I could see how that would keep the hackles up.

MISSION FLAT MATE: We have much bigger problems up here. Like a non stop flow of looney tunes that bear their "testimony" each month. We achieved a first in the church last month, a complete nut job who was a minister in a DIFFERENT church also went to the front to bear her testimony. Thereby assuring the loons of complete victory that Sunday.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Uhhh. Got like minded members to take over next Sunday?!???

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Very sorry about that. Being kinda"new" I've only had my one ward and I've been told it's a good one.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Well in that case, take my advice......never move.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  I'd also say to ignore the increased fast offering request. Our Bishop looks at it, notes it's generous and thanks us. I would say it's an area or regionl problem possibility.i don't think that coming from Salt Lake.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Yes, but if you only pay the same amount you are not exercising more faith sister _. Surely you want more blessings don't you Sister _, don't you want more blessings?

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Wow! I'd laugh but it's so sad. Maybe I'm a smart mouth because I haven't been through it. I'd just say I'll pick up extra someplace else.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Well tithing is tithing. If it's an issue, then the Holy Ghost can help answer how far to take concerns. FB or friends are a fine resource after that first step is taken. Doubts need to be addressed correctly or they can be taken the wrong direction.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Where there's smoke, there's fire sister _.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  So I should not follow the LAW of tithing because of an internet post? I think your response is a little generic for the situation. It leaves nothing to work with in a true conversation.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  Point is, people need to take a closer look, that's all. You reach a point where the LDS church may not be doing anything much different than what the televangelists are doing with the money they take in. Many members are critical of how these guys spend their money, not a "real" church they say, exists only to take in money they say. Well when the LDS church is spending billions on property, then we have to wonder what the difference is?

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Ok thanks for spelling it out for me. I will do as I questioned above and take it from that point. I won't stop for others sins. Got enough of my own to work out already. Any reasonable research is welcome.

I’m Dence: sister _ I don't think anyone said not to pay tithing. 
I'd just like some accountability for those who spend those funds, as does the Lord. 
Unfortunately we don't currently have that so at least bringing attention to THAT fact is just a small something I think I can do. I don't expect most will even bother to look at it, let alone think about it. But I believe it becometh everyone who has been warned to warn their neighbor.

GIRL FROM HS PLAY: I don't have any answers that you are looking for and was not even going to touch this post but I see personally so many places where the Church uses the money it takes in to help others with so many things....

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I guess I'll never see how building a 1.5B shopping mall is in support of the three fold mission of the church?

I’m Dence: So PLAY GIRL, if they can do so much with >2% of what's available, just think of what they could do with the other 98%+

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I still like the casino idea I’m Dence, it could even be Mormon themed. The waitresses can wear long prairie dresses and bonnets. Gays, blacks and democrats will be banned of course.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: So, profits from the Church's existing commercial enterprises and investments are in actuality donations???? Fail to see how that makes sense, unless, once again, you're going to track all the way back to money's used more than a century and a half ago when the church first established their commercial ventures. I guess I should have gone with my first inclination, which was to suggest using you use your time, intelligence and other resources to find answers for yourself, especially if you've already decided internally that something nefarious is going on. Would probably be a wiser course of action than trying to bait people into a debate and declaring their views naive.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP So my suggestion, if you truly want answers and not just an opportunity to bait others into some debate, is submit a copy of your most recent tithing settlement in which you have declared yourself a full tithe payer to Salt Lake and request an accounting of how and where the church tithing money is being spent. I would think you would be justified in such a request, right?

I’m Dence: I find this comment to be condescending, and shameful. How very Christian of you.

MISSION FLAT MATE: How did the ancient church ever get along without massive business investments? We are told the church is a modern day restoration of the ancient church. Heck, how did the church survive in the 20th century prior to massive business investments?

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP Correct me if I'm wrong, but the premise for this particular thread is the presumed misuse of tithing funds to purchase an apartment development in Texas.

I’m Dence: No, the premise for this post was: would you as a believing member care to explain this? [this being that Property Reserve Inc., a church™ owned subsidiary investment company had bought a newly built 386 unit apartment complex in Texas with a tax assessor’s value (usually a fraction of true market value) of $45 million.]

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  The church has an investment arm that does not utilize tithing funds. Gordon Hinckley made that pretty clear in a talk he gave around the City Creek project as that was a concern of many members. The Church actually has its hands into alot of different projects that folks arent aware of that dont involve tithing funds. The Church has quite a bit of money outside of tithing funds and is constantly looking at investment opportunities.

I’m Dence: The 2 questions I have is: 1) where does the church get funds that are NOT donations (and NOT interest on donated funds)?; and 2) regardless of where the funds originate, how is "investing" an appropriate activity for a church (especially a church which won't disclose its assets in the US, but is estimated to spend >2% on charitable endeavors)? 
See, The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21)

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  Maybe its going to be another MTC or a spa and retreat for doubting members......LOL

MISSION FLAT MATE: I agree 100% with I’m Dence why is a church involved with "investment opportunities?"

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP Have we not been taught by history and investment performances that diversification is a safer way to utilize one's assets? Also, just as you use scripture and parable, Im sure others can be applied to the question as well. Running faster than one has strength, Pharoah's dream, et al, that would teach us that individuals AND organizations should be cautious and wary against over extending. 
So, I’m Dence, let's just get it out there. What would you have the church do? Abandon all commercial ventures in the which they provide employment for hundreds, perhaps thousands of people and retract into activities strictly of a spiritual nature? You seem concerned at the % of what the church spends for humanitarian assistance at this time. Is it not possible that there are darker and more desparate times around the corner where millions more will be grateful the church didnt expend their resources too soon? I dont know the answers to these questions, Im just speaking in hypotheticals.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  "Abandon all commercial ventures...."

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: We're of different opinions, then.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  And that's totally fine.

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  Whats wrong with a religious organization using investment vehicles at their disposal to increase their resources to in turn do more good throughout the world? Parable of the talents? Having said that i like the BYU- Texas theory but have a couple of other thoughts - preparing for entrance into the Big 12 conference or i still like the sanctuary idea where general authorities can relax and recharge; or maybe low income housing to assist with the community?

MISSION FLAT MATE: "maybe low income housing to assist with the community?"

Ok that almost made me burst out laughing! The day a republican church goes along with that idea, hell really will have frozen over.

CHEERLEADER FROM HS: Well said HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE. Why would' the church increase it's assets to in turn do good? I don't really see the problem here? The church is on hand for humanitarian care all over the world regardless of the religion of those in need.

MISSION FLAT MATE: The church is not going to get into the low income housing business in the USA CHEARLEADER, period end of story.

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE: Homeless shelter?

DIFFERENT KID FROM HS: That's great. :D :D

ANOTHER HS GUY: I'm grateful the Church gives my Company lots of Business.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Because that's why the church was set give companies lot's of "business."

ANOTHER HS GUY: Thanks for the clarification. Since I never asked but now I know.

ATTORNEY WHO JUST MOVED OUT OF MY WARD: (1) One of the finance professors I assisted was on the church investment committee. In discussing their investments then it seemed clear they were investing donations. I thought it made a lot of sense since the church had needs for funds in varying amounts at various times. So it only seemed like prudent asset/cash management to invest funds until they're needed. (2) I also worked for a $9b land trust. They invested their earnings from income producing assets, like apartments, shopping centers, hotels, industrial and commercial parks and auto malls to pay for education. That way, even if they didn't get more donations they were still generating money and were able to fund their beneficiary programs. The programs were schools and while I was there they transferred about $300m~ each year of the trust value about 4% of the trust value to cover educational costs. They were the largest K-12 private school system in the U.S. I thought it was a great way to manage their assets.

I’m Dence:  Interesting to hear from someone with actual knowledge about how similar things have been done. Thanks. 
I still am unconvinced that it's appropriate for what the "sole corporation" claims to be (or should aspire to) but the more actual facts I learn, the more I believe (to paraphrase Denny Green): they are who I think they are.
I just find it incredibly disheartening that those who should be open and honest about such things, prefer to hide their works in, at best murkiness (if not outright darkness). Especially when there are express revelations requiring not just transparency, but the common consent of the membership after full disclosure.

SISTER-IN-LAW: Who are you talking about when you say "those"? The Prophet and Apostles? Your statement is murky to me.

ATTORNEY WHO JUST MOVED OUT OF MY WARD: The non profit trust I worked for had to file an IRS Form 990 each year. From that, newspapers might go to a site like to download and see a submitted Form 990 and report on what they found. This included top salaries by name, Contributions and grants, Investment income, Total Assets, Total Liabilities, Net Assets and other information. I don't know if there is an exemption that allows the church to request the IRS not to make their 990s generally available. The trust, like may non profits, was relatively transparent because of this IRS requirement. It made it easier for the public to get a decent level of transparency. I understand where you're coming from about transparency, though.

Nonprofit Explorer - ProPublica
Since 2013, the IRS has released data culled from over 1.8 million nonprofit tax filings. Use this…

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I'm waiting for the church to announce they just bought a Vegas casino. Could be a big money maker and the money could be used to help the poor, so it's ok.

I’m Dence: "Could" being the operative word.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Enough Mormons already work in them, so just take the final step, LOL :)

MISSION FLAT MATE: I'll spin this debate in a new direction. For four years at BYU I heard day in and day brings in a lot of money, therefore it's needed at BYU. Never mind the fact that the players are frequently a source of international embarrassment as a result of their conduct on and off the field. One night I'm watching NBC National News and they are doing a story on a fight between BYU and another team, the focus was on the numerous cheap shots and punches to the heads delivered by BYU football players. Gee, something Heavenly Father can be proud of for sure.

Still the argument brings in money.

One seriously has to question the priorities of a church and membership that have largely put money and the acquisition of it ahead of most everything else.

I’m Dence: Just one of many differences between the gospel, and the trademark of the subsidiary company of the sole corporation (and those who worship its board of directors and/or fruits).

GUY FROM MY YSA WARD: Spencer W Kimball was a banker,
he restructured all of the churches assets. All of the quorum of the twelve are Ivy league educated and were super successful in their private lifes.
I am no longer part of the church. But from a business point of view, they are the best business model ever. My uncle works in their outside of the tithing corporate side and the corporation side is super successful.
The church is taking a ton of farm land on the Wasatch front and putting in the utilities and services and developing and selling it off. 
Most of the land was donated a hundred years ago. In Hawaii they're doing the same. In California they have been doing it also.
People are still donating large tracts of land world wide. The business of "the corporation of the presiding presidency or bishopric" is a booming business. I have been out of the church for twenty years now. I am not angry , I am practical and realistic and I have been watching and paying attention.

MISSION FLAT MATE: An ex member who is now a cheer leader :)

I’m Dence: I'd not intended to argue, debate, bait, or in any way convince anyone of anything with this post. I had my own ideas about what is going on (generally and in this specific case) with the "sole corporation" (and it's subsidiaries) and wanted to hear what others thought (or if they were even aware - or cared). 
Despite my reputation, and profession, I don't particularly like to argue with folks, especially on social media. It's not effective, and it's just not fun for me. 
More importantly, I've come to believe that the principle of agency IS the purpose of life. Those who fail to grasp this truth, or worse, pay lip service to it, yet try to force their views on others are just plain wrong. If others can be persuaded to think and figure things out for themselves (hopefully with guidance from the spirit) great. If not, it is far better to plan to be long suffering, than to try to force them to come to your position.
I thought I asked a pretty simple question: would you as a believing member care to explain this? [this being that Property Reserve Inc., a church™ owned subsidiary investment company had bought a newly built 386 unit apartment complex in Texas with a tax assessor’s value (usually a fraction of true market value) of $45 million.]
I was saddened and disappointed (though not necessarily surprised) by those who regurgitate the correlation committee's sanitized/white washed/candy coated, less than accurate, views of the history and present state of affairs of church™ investment. 
I am troubled by those who seem to honestly believe that trusting in the arm of flesh through commercial investment is an appropriate activity for an organization claiming to be a full restoration of the historic church of God. 
I just plain mourn for those who, rather than seek to investigate the truth, instead resort to knee jerk attacks on anyone who raises an issue they aren't comfortable with by labeling them as a "Doubter"/ "Questioner"/ suffering a “faith crisis” (current Mormon cultural parlance to belittle someone so the accuser can feel justified in ignoring the content of the “other’s” message). Honestly, why would anyone do that to another person who is merely raising a legitimate question and seeking a real, honest, discussion of the issue? I find that shameful.
Like I said, I value agency, as does my Father. And those who would abdicate their personal agency (especially to men who say, God has given us his power) without investigating, and then seeking spiritual confirmation of their findings desperately need to change. (and study their scriptures.)
So what's my explanation of this? 
Actually despite Messers. KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP and HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE's false narrative that the "investment arm" of the church™ is a distinct, and direct decedent of the separate commercial activities of Brigham's early Deseret ventures (which ironically included a number of breweries and distilleries), the fact is that entity's assets were depleted to the point of bankruptcy by the time Lorenzo Snow became it's president. An entirely new entity was created when Heber Grant became president, and that entity was $32 Million in debt by 1962. (So you don’t have to trace back any further than that point.) It was just prior to that time that Henry Moyle convinced David McKay to stop accounting for expenditures in General Conference. (Likely to hide the extent of the budget deficit caused by spending on underutilized buildings.) Then the church™ brought in Eldon Tanner (not Spencer Kimball who’s banking experience was being a clerk and a teller as a young man, and who made his fortune selling bonds and insurance), who took over church™ finances and brought with him a team of corporate lawyers and managers whose experiences in the the world of corporate finance have been credited with turning the church™ around financially. 
But where did they get the funds to make such a turn around?
You'd think that after serving as a ward or stake finance clerk for over ½ of my adult life I'd be well versed in church™ finance. But like a good Pharisee, I didn't have time to actually learn about anything but collecting church™ funds (and distributing the meager "budget" that is returned - in accordance with "the handbook", of course) until I was released and finally took the time to investigate on my own.
What I discovered is that in reality, the church™ presently accounts for tithing on a 3+ year basis. In the 1st year the donation is collected, in the 2nd year it's budgeted, and in the 3rd year (or later) the principal is spent per the budget. From the date of collection until ultimate distribution, the funds are invested. (This is consistent with Mr. Dang’s experience.) So when the church™ spends “investment money” those funds include the interest collected on the tithing money during the 3(+) year cycle from when the donation is originally collected until the time it is ultimately spent. It also includes the interest on the former returns/interest as it accumulates over the years (essentially since sometime after 1962). 
So to claim that the "investment arm" is different than tithing, is what we in the legal profession call a distinction without a difference. 
Also of note: the fact that these "investment" funds total 100's of millions (if not billions) of dollars gives an indication of how much the actual tithing principal is. For those proclaiming all the good that the funds that actually are spend do, think how much more could/ought to be done if "the brethren" would actually bring ALL of the tithes into the storehouse.
Finally, as to parables, it's well known that they are stories that have meaning on different levels. Those who think that the parable of the talents is really talking about investing money, probably aren't seeing the real meaning in the story. Woe will be unto such, unless they change!

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE: My sincere apologies. My poor attempt at some humor, once again

I’m Dence: Naw HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE, I enjoyed your humorous speculation. No need to apologize.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Um, is there a Reader's Digest version available of that last post?

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Preferably in large print...

MISSION FLAT MATE: What we don't know, is that I’m Dence billed himself $450.00 to write that.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: Believe it or not I’m Dence - your opinion is based on a lot of unknowns as well. It is also based on personal values that you've assigned as what a good Christian/Mormon is- even making your own interpretation of scripture. It places those who don't see your point of view as contrary to our own tenets. There is too much unknown here to say the church is flawed in their decisions to participate in for profit investments. Suggesting that a church act a certain way because it doesn't fly with secular criteria of how a church should act is also flawed. It is an assumption on anyone's part where the original capital came to begin these investments. 

Posting your opinion invites debate. Not everyone will agree- that should be expected.

I’m Dence:  It's pretty clear you either didn't read, or didn't comprehend, my prior post. 
That's ok. I won't try to make you. That's something you have to choose to either seek to understand, or ignore. 
I would ask that if you want to further interject yourself into the discussion that you let us know where you stand on the original question.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: For my take on your original question: I don't see a problem with the church involved in for-profit commercial ventures. 

I am a private architect working with the church and many of their projects I am involved with are for profit. he purposes of some of these projects I am privy to and others I am not. These projects support a wider interest for the church and they are not for profiteering as has been commented on. 

I have a problem with the assumption that all ventures outside of temple and meetinghouse are out of bounds for the church (a favorite attack in the editorials on the SL Trib). The church has had a wide variety of interests in the past and present from schools, hospitals, banking and commercial ventures like ZCMI. Some of which they no longer participate in because they don't meet the church's present purposes.

MISSION FLAT MATE and I have disagreed over city creek in the past but investment in infrastructure in and around temple square and the church properties provides support of those properties to help insure SL downtown isn't abandoned and remains a center of commerce and growth. Investment for healthy community building of which downtown SL is a part from Brigham Young's following Joseph smiths lead. 

The church has been involved in community building from the start with Joseph Smith's "Plat of Zion" design. Community building involves itself with all the things I have mentioned including commercial ventures for profit and also building parks, farming and housing (which the church is also involved in). 

To equate the church's community building and investment in infrastructure as wrong is simply uninformed bordering on fault finding.

MISSION FLAT MATE: There just isn't any justification to support the idea of a church engaged in the business of saving souls, also being in the business of business for commercial gain.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: Again you are assuming that a church has no business in these activities. Saving souls/building community- to me it is all interrelated. 

The Jews have been involved in the very activities I have mentioned and they have been castigated for millennia because they were commanded to and were successful at it. Gods people have always been a community building people from the beginning.

I’m Dence:  Yes, conflating Zion with Babylon can cause confusion.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Whaaaa? Please show me that verse from the OT, Thou shalt build unto me a shopping mall. Thus saith the Lord, the mall shall have, a Nordstroms, GAP, and food court. Thou shalt only serve Kosher in the food court.

MISSION FLAT MATE: It's ok OTHER GUY FROM MISSION for the members to go out and make some cash as individual members of a church. It's not ok when "the church" becomes a business enterprise.

I’m Dence:  Actually, I think I could envision circumstances where it might be appropriate for "the church" to have business enterprises. But certainly only for specific purposes. And only when the funds used In such an enterprise are handled in accordance with the actual revelation we purport to believe in; and not some corporate policy that has replaced it, advanced by the hired guns at Kirton McConkie.
Of course, if I have to take sides, I'm with the MISSION FLAT MATE on this.

MISSION FLAT MATE: You're with me on the Kosher Food Court?

I’m Dence:  Oh, absolutely. :D :D

MISSION FLAT MATE: You and I will be in big trouble with OTHER GUY FROM MISSIONOTHER GUY FROM MISSION....I’m Dence is a bad influence, I blame him and society for my actions.

I’m Dence:  Guilty as charged. 
I'll take responsibility for society as well.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION:  You can call it what you like but building a city of God has been the focus of many different groups including ours and yes commercial institutions such as The Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institute were a part of it. Times have changed but there is a precedent for the very thing you are criticizing. You are equating a commercial enterprise to filthy lucre- it is also one aspect of community building. 

Take some time to read Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Kings through Chronicles to see how integrated personal life and church life was. Also, Enoch's United Order was a model Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had envisioned for us; it was a spiritual law that integrated secular life (which includes everything I have previously mentioned). Although we aren't living the principle the precedent is in place and the church is still involved in aspects of community building. In modern times we have partitioned our secular life from our spiritual life and many of us only see our Sunday experience as the only outlet for the church. It is us who have a problem of with understanding this paradigm. You criticize what you don't understand.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  It does seem very very odd that after listening to endless talks in General Conference about the evils of the pursuit of money. That the church itself would engage in the pursuit of money on a massive scale.

There are a number of Christian churches that reject being involved in business, and good for them.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Sorry you feel so put upon by the responses to your 'innocent' request for a "real, and honest" discourse on the matter. I find your assertion that you had no intent to argue, debate, or bait disingenuous based upon your responses. As for the distinction you bestowed upon me of being condenscending and shameful, I'm sorry you have chosen to take offense where none was intended. I will admit my knowledge of the history of the various corporations and entities established by the church is lacking, and I cannot tell you definitively where the money came from to finance the purchase of this apartment complex. I don't believe that my tithing funds were used to purchase it. I may be mistaken, and according to you 'abdicating my personal agency', but the question of whether or not I trust how the Lord's sacred funds are being managed by the stewards in Salt Lake is not at the top of my list of things that need doing. I am struggling to handle the stewardships I've been entrusted with. Those who have stewardships at the level of your concern will have to answer for themselves whether or not they were true and faithful in those things. And once again, I apologize if you took offense at my suggestion that you reach out to Salt Lake with your concerns. Where else are you going to find an answer? I would think that social media would be a step below wikipedia in terms of finding answers to your questions. And just a friendly note, based on the content of your lengthy comment, perhaps before you call others' statements out for being condescending, you should evaluate your own, because quite honestly, your statement is dripping with it. Also, which do you find more 'shameful', my suggestion that you reach out to Salt Lake with your questions, or your holier-than-thou declaration that we're not only abdicating our personal agency, but that we 'desperately need to change'.

BROTHER-IN-LAW: The Church will use all legal means to protect its tithing and other funds as it is held sacred and it will use methods to distribute the risk of such funds. I mean who would really keep millions of dollars in one bank account, no one, it can't be guaranteed. You have to distribute your cash into investments to protect it and not just one type of investment. Its called diversification. Standard practice really.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

the Church™ must do more for LGBT youth ?

So I just had an “interesting” exchange on a social media platform, and wanted to 1) preserve it; and 2) see if anyone that might read this blog had any comment.

As the last comment indicates, I feel that I've said my piece.  That said, unless I consider a comment here to raise something new and substantial, I’ll likely not reply (other than to acknowledge your comment) Also, the stuff in [brackets] after posts, are my thoughts that were not part of the original thread.

So here it is:

I had a former mission flat mate (not my companion, but we lived in the same flat for awhile) post the Trib’s Op-Ed on the Church™ must do more for LGBT youth.

After reading the piece, my first comment was:

"Platitudes, lip-service and meaningless testimony sharing by the highest levels of LDS Church leadership must stop."
As if there's any chance of that .  :(

Then another guy from the mission (I don’t remember him) said:
So how do you justify the tribune's statement " Renouncing all past teachings that do not align with current medical and mental health standards and practices needs to happen immediately" with The Proclamation to the World "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." And D&C 43:15-16 "Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach...And ye are to be taught from on high." This not meant to be trite. I can see no way for the church to change this doctrine short of a revelation that unravels the Temple Sealing ordinance(and all of my spiritual experiences in which gender exists with both those unborn and deceased). So the arguement becomes one of outreach. I know there is a lot of outreach going on with LDS social services (a relative and friends work there) but they are not trying to go the direction of the world with pure acceptance, it is treated from the perspective of help and full Gospel fellowship..

[Of course, it’s not the Trib’s statement, it’s Kimberly Anderson, the Op-Ed writer’s opinion]

The OP then said:
On one hand the Trib is going easy, they didn't make any mention of the electro shock treatments used on gay men at BYU in the 1970s. How the church is avoiding a lawsuit on that one defies logic, [Another missionary who is a lawyer] noted legal expert will need to answer that for me.

[But] I digress, the real point here is how do we change the climate in the church that causes young gays in the church to believe that suicide is a better option than living?

To which Other Missionary responds:

 I think it is easy to blame the church, but sometimes it really is "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12) and people on the church need to realize "What we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive". (Eph 4:14). I think the world has created the climate and the definition of the climate. If you are not happy, it is not your fault, blame the church, others, society, government, etc. But really, if your life is not in order, you will not be happy. Satan then convinces them that they cannot repent, and they give up (which is his ultimate goal). To blame that on the church is wrong. I have watched people work through all types of sexual problems, including some that have been in jail for pedophilea, and they have found peace only after their life is in order with the church. Some have spend decades looking for that peace elsewhere, and it will never be found. So to blame the one place where peace can be obtained, because you refuse to believe it, or accept it, or to live it, and then demand that they change, will not give you peace.

The OP then said:

You're making a big mistake [Other Missionary] lumping gays in with pedophiles. Which is what you're implying.

I don't believe the church has the ability to make gay men straight by just telling them to "repent." That's crazy.

I have no idea why some people are attracted to others of the same gender, the reasons are not understood and far more complex than simply calling it a sin and telling the gays to "repent."

I know Elder Packer taught this, but, the church quickly changed his talk before it went onto

Other Missionary then replied:

I did not lump them, I stated that I knew a pedophonile that has overcome it. It's possible to work through severe moral issues. The gay lobby believes and actively lobbies that it is not possible. That is what I am arguing against.

To which OP then said:

And I agree with the "gay lobby" I don't think you can change your sexuality.

Other Missionary then asked:


And OP retorted:

I just don't believe you can.

Other Missionary then declared:

I am the opposite. I think people can change many things, and are spiritually stronger than they realize. When I studied music there were studies on brain development that showed different sections of the brain physically changing based on the instrument the student played. I have also seen research that shows the brain rewires itself each time you choose not to get angry. So a choice of one reaction can restructure part of the brain. I think that this applies to sexual/ gay activities and thoughts. They can change their brains by what they constantly obsess about. As for the knowledge of Dr.'s. I have met enough that have told me they do not know, the research has changed, there is new research and they were wrong, that I know that they are not the expert. I absolutely believe 1 Cor. 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I think people are in more control of themselves than they will believe. I know a man that had a stroke 20 years ago that damaged the part of your brain that filters behavior, or moral decisions. He was warned that most people with that damage become severly immoral, gay, etc. He has not had a problem with it. The Dr's attribute his control to his spiritual development. The one that frustrates me the most is the belief that a child is transgender. There are even pediatric groups here that argue against that. A child has not gone through puberty. This is a societal construct. But the gay/ trans lobby will not let their voice be heard and they make more noise. I am not saying that people may not struggle with it. But I believe they can overcome it.

OP then said:

Do you know how many heart broken wives and kids there are out there in the church because a gay man got married and had kids, believing he could, "overcome it." Then ended up divorcing his wife, upon the realization that he is a gay man, and nothing can change that. I know of cases like this, one of them was in our mission BTW.

Other Missionary then said:
One was in my ward, and my friend. But I watched him spiritually fall first, before he left his wife (33 years of marriage). When he started to argue with the prophet the spirit left him, and then he failed. For the first 30 years when he was keeping the commandments, he was able to do it. I think people need the trust the Savior more. I do not believe that there is any commandment that we cannot keep. Just commandments that Satan convinces us we cannot keep. If we all gave into our bodies weakness'/appetites all of us would fail. It really is our choice.

[“one” was in your ward, and your friend. Really?  I’m not sure you know what a “friend “is.]

OP then kinda started to go after Other Missionary and said:

Uh huh, let me see you lose 40 lbs then.

Other Missionary then claimed:
You know that there is a difference between eating and sexual desire. President Clark even spoke on it. Sex is not mandatory to live. I lost my wife, and immediately stopped having sex until I remarried. I have lost 50 lbs in the past. Dr's cannot explain my weight vs my diet (endocrine disorder). But I can control what I eat so it does not become worse. I can gain 10 lbs in 2 days, without eating anything to cause it, then I slowly lose it again. But I control my diet so that it does not increase. But I was able to completely control my sex drive.

To which OP teased:

Oh sputter blah sputter, blah, sputter.....Uh [Other Missionary] says, [OP] the rules of self control only apply when I say they do. They certainly don't apply to me, and my diet. I can't control putting all that fat, sugar, and carbs into my body, I have no control over that [OP].

[Other Missionary], can you honestly tell me that you have a healthy diet and you don't stuff your face with fat, sugar, and carbs?

If we drop you onto a desert island for a year, you'll lose weight. And there won't be a daily buffet on set like the Skipper had :)

Other Missionary then gets defensive and says:

I have been working with Dr's since I was 6 on dietary issues. Their research has been constantly changing over that time.  In other words they do not know. Several of their recommended diets have made me gain weight. Now they have told they were wrong, and the current research say's I need more natural fats, less carb's, more full fat dairy, french cheeses, and that their previous recommendations had destroyed the natural gut biome in me and caused to gain weight. So the Word of Wisdom was correct, natural grains and foods. My diet is breakfast (3 eggs 210 calories and a small serving of a natural carbohydrate (usually our own homemade 3 day raised whole wheat sourdough breadand we grind the wheat, or small oatmeal. My lunch is usually 1-2 cups of vegetables, 1/4 cup brown rice and 1/4 cup of pan fried chicken breast, no sauce. I also eat 1/3 cup of anasazi beans (natural bean from the Anasazi Indians around southwest Colorado. No snack. My dinner is the same as my lunch, or a taco salad (homemade with 1/2 head of romaine lettuce, 1/2 avacado, one tomato, 1/4 cup chicken again, 1/4 beans, a few baked chips, salsa, grated cheese, and now sour cream (eat more dairy fats). I cannot eat processed breads, sugars or foods as my pancrease produces to much insulin as the response. I pass out in several hours. I can ocassionaly eat ice cream. I rarely eat out (nothing I can eat) and I cannot eat any red meat! If I do it goes into my joints and I cannot walk. My caloric intake is around 1,500 a day and I have been warned that it may be too low. If I eat more I gain weight. I have worked with several Dr's and a nutritionist (5 years) and no, I have never been able to stuff my face with sugar or carbs. I watch other people eat it around me, and then eat what I can. I have also been told to increase my olive oil intake (It is better for you than they have taught for 40 years) as it helps reduce fat buildup in your arteries, and cholesteral is not produced from diet but is 85% produced in your liver and genetic (new research). Reducing fat intake does not reduce it. So yeah, I do not eat it. I can eat poultry and fish so I rotates those around with the chicken, no pork or red meat. I would die in Texas.

OP continues teasing, saying:

I think the desert island will offer a guaranteed cure, when do you want to leave?

At this point I finally pipe in and say:

I think virtually everything that [Other Missionary] had said in this thread IS the problem.
Which is why this problem will likely never be improved in my lifetime. :(

OP then says

I will agree with [I’m Dence].

But Other Missionary just can’t leave it alone and wants the last word, so he condescendingly says:

If it is a choice between the medical (opinions) of the world, or the leaders of the church, I will follow the leaders of the church. Revelation trumps wordly knowledge everytime for me.

Well, that’s my cue, so I respond:

So show us a "revelation" where the Lord told the prophet (you know, the only guy authorized to receive revelation for the whole church/world) anything about this issue, and where he then, in his prophetic capacity, announced it to the church/world as the word of the Lord.
I'd sincerely like to see that; because if it exists, I must have missed it.

Other Missionary then posts:

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Followed by:
NEAL A. MAXWELL  “Cleanse Us from All Unrighteousness”


And finally President Faust "There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so. Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. Our designation as men or women began before this world was. In contrast to the socially accepted doctrine that homosexuality is inborn, a number of respectable authorities contend that homosexuality is not acquired by birth. The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair."


SPENCER W. KIMBALL  - The Foundations of Righteousness - Ensign Nov. 1977
Pres. Kimball We hear more and more each day about the sins of adultery, homosexuality, and lesbianism. Homosexuality is an ugly sin, but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved with it, it must be brought into the open.


EZRA TAFT BENSON - Counsel to the Saints
This from Pres. Benson gives you a scriptural revelation, and explanation. "Do not commit adultery “nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59:6.) That means petting, fornication, homosexuality, and any other form of immorality."

Other Missionary then sums up:

Nowhere does is say you cannot repent. But you cannot be happy commiting sin, especially homosexual or other deviant sexual behaviors. So the church cannot tell them it is ok. But they constantly try to help them overcome it. We need to help others develop the faith in Christ to overcome their (and our ) weakness'. Not give in and reduce the power of the "infinite atonement."

I then respond:

A "proclamation", that never claimed to be the result of revelation. Quotes from 2 guys who are NOT THE prophet, and 1 who wasn't THE prophet when he said it. So only the Spencer Kimball quote meets the first requirement that it be said by THE prophet. And the "permissiveness" part of his address clearly imply that it was the concerns of "we" (the brethren) he was voicing. It is plain that he was not even claiming to be speaking for the Lord.
But like I said, I think virtually everything that you have said in this thread IS the problem.
Your continued attempts to justify your brethrenite hard heart, just strengthens that judgment.

Contentiously, Other Missionary then says:

So then lets turn this around. You find me one statement from a prophet that justifies your position.  I'm staying with D&C 1:38 "Whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." Multiple servants for almost 200 years (6,000 from all dispensations) have stated it is a sin. As far as I am concerned they have spoken in their official capacity, it has been published, and they have backed it.D&C107:30-31. If you are not happy with the proclamation and believe that it is not revelation then try applying D&C107:33 and see if you can get it overturned. But I believe "they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord." (vs 32) I fully believe in this process. "“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively,” he said. “And then, we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will.”

This “prophetic process”—which also includes fasting, prayer, studying, pondering, and counseling with each other as they wrestle with the issue—was followed in 2012 with the change in age for missionary service, as well as the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries, President Nelson said.

“Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter,” he said. “Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration.

“And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process. And so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.”

I then said:

I'm not sure I've taken a position, other than LDS culture has serious flaws on this issue, and is absent legitimate revelation. I don't think you can "turn around" the idea of just being a decent person to others.  But if you insist, how about we just look at the example of the Lord. ;)
BTW D&C 1:38 doesn't mean what you think it does. Misinterpretation of scripture, clearly colored by your personal political bias, holds no weight with me.
Believe what you will, but know that trusting in the arm of flesh, especially when it's not even necessary, is done at your peril. Good luck with that.

Confused and/or offended, Other Missionary then says:

How does having a spiritual experience that verifies that President Monson and all of his counselors, and the quorum of the 12 are inspired qualify as "trusting in the arm of the flesh?" I am willing to follow their teachings, even though you do not believe they are inspired by revelation, unless they provide you documentation of each revelation. How do you come up with that statement?

Minutes later he adds:

If you do not trust me on D&C 1:38 , trust Elder Ballard. "Many of us may find ourselves in a similar situation as we make our way through life’s challenging thoroughfares. These are difficult times, and the world’s cultural and sociological landmarks of propriety, honesty, integrity, and political correctness are constantly shifting. Just when we think we know the way to happiness and peace, some new ideology comes along which can lead us down a path that will only heighten our confusion and intensify our despair. At such times, we might well ask, “Is there one clear, unpolluted, unbiased voice that we can always count on? Is there a voice that will always give us clear directions to find our way in today’s troubled world?” The answer is yes. That voice is the voice of the living prophet and apostles.

When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized 171 years ago this month, the Lord gave a revelation to the members of the Church through His prophet, Joseph Smith Jr. Speaking of the President of the Church, the Savior instructed Church members to “give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5).

Then the Lord gave a magnificent promise to those who are obedient: “For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

A year and a half later, the Lord added to that significant promise this stern warning: “The arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people” (D&C 1:14).

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. Great and wonderful are the blessings that come into our lives as we listen to the word of the Lord given to us through him. At the same time, knowing that President Gordon B. Hinckley is God’s prophet also endows us with responsibility. When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History has shown that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel as did Nephi of old: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Ne. 3:7).

Finally, I responded:

You clearly conflate “the Church” (a trademark of the Sole Corporation of “the corporation of the president” and/or inter-mountain west LDS culture) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, which the true church (the followers of Christ) seeks to live and teach. To my mind, you also have a warped idea of what a “prophet” is and/or when one is acting as such.
When the drunkards of Ephraim claim to speak for the Lord, without his express direction to do so, they take his name in vein.
I see those who abdicate their agency to follow such men (because of their title, rather than the title holder’s express direction from the Lord) as trusting in the arm of flesh. Feel free to “FOLLOW THEIR TEACHINGS.” But know that you have been warned, and woe is likely to be unto you.
For me, I’ll follow the example of the Lord. He already has spoken and told us to love one another, and to treat other as we want to be treated. He also told us to remove the beam from our own eyes before removing the splinter from our neighbor’s eye.
I don’t need revelation in matters like this. And neither does anyone else. If I follow the gospel (the afore referenced actual teachings of Christ) it’s crystal clear how I am to treat others.
If you (or those you apparently presume to be your betters, who hold a title) want to change what the Lord has already clearly taught, it is incumbent on you (or them) to provide an actual revelation where the Lord says: Yea, I said that, but what I meant was, except for [whatever folks you/they want to disparage]. Or: what I said was true in times of old, but now days things have changed, and now I’m telling you this.
Instead you have the opinions of a group of extremely insulated old white men, who in large part claim at most to have felt inspiration (as opposed to having received actual revelation), about a matter, that requires neither. In part due to their own personal biases and prejudices, as well as to those of their followers.
BTW, I’m quite certain that those who can’t distinguish inspiration from revelation have yet to RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Perhaps you ought to seek spiritual experiences based on the Lord, rather than men, regardless of who they are, or what title they claim. Then your whole house of cards doesn’t have to fall down because they inevitably change what they’ve said.
Finally, even a revelation is only binding on the church when THE prophet records it, then announces it, and then the membership accept it by common consent. Historically it is then published. (Something that hasn’t actually happened in either of our life times. And I’m well aware of the 1978 Official Declaration 2. The argument for even a negative revelation there is tautological at best.)
I've said my piece. I'll not waste my time with further replies in this matter.

Thoughts?  Am I out of line here?  After all, I'm Dence.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bringing about Zion

So the Church™ hasn’t really talked about bringing about Zion in my lifetime (or in the life of anyone currently alive) from what I can tell.  Oh there's the occasional lip service to some general idea (usually if it helps bolster an argument by a GA to give/pay more to the Church™).  But nothing tangible.  Nothing concrete.  Nothing serious.  And I find that very distressing.

It’s clear they are supposed to.  The Lord commands us to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6, see also D&C 11:6; 12:6; 14:6)

Maybe they forgot.  Maybe they don’t even know what that is, or what it might look like, so they ignore it.  I could infer sinister motives, but I tend to subscribe to Hanlon's razor (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity/ignorance.)

Well, maybe we ought to know what Zion is if we’re going to talk/think  about it.  Certainly, if we are going to seek to bring it about.

Google says Zion is the hill of Jerusalem on which the city of David was built (or it’s Africa if you are a Rastafarian)

Wikipedia says it’s a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem, which commonly referred to a specific mountain where a Jebusite fortress of the same name stood and later became a metonym (a figure of speech which is a substitute for reduction) for Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem and "the World to Come", the Jewish understanding of the hereafter.

In the well hidden Young Women’s unit on building up the church, says: “Zion refers to the Lord’s people who are of one heart and one mind and dwell together in righteousness. We can establish Zion by building unity and spiritual strength in our homes, wards or branches, and communities.”  Well, maybe.  But like most things that come out of the correlation committee, you can bet there’s a LOT more to it than just that.

If you actually looked up the scriptures I cited above, you’ll see that 3 of the 4 D&C versus actually say “the cause of Zion” rather than Zion.  Is there a difference between the cause of Zion and the Lord’s Zion?

Honestly, I don’t know.  If anyone thinks they do, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

At first blush, I’d think that the cause of Zion is the doctrines and/or concepts that when practiced actually bring about the Lord’s Zion.  And what would those doctrines and/or concepts be?  I think Alma had it pretty well in hand when we’re told of his initial ministry:

20 Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God. (Mosiah 18:20-22, emphasis added.)

I’d submit that the cause of Zion is to become the children of God; and that when we do so, we are well on our way to bringing about Zion.

Perhaps there’s more though.

Scripturally, Zion is the Lord’s people. (“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”) (Moses 7:18)

It is also the City of Holiness which came to pass in Enoch’s days, after his continued preaching in righteousness unto the people of God  (Moses 7:19) The abode of the Lord forever. (Moses 7:21)

And Zion is also the Kingdom of God on earth.  The Kingdom the Lord prayed for in “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10)

And Zion is also the pure in heart. (D&C 97:21) In their latest attempt to create scripture without revelation, the correlation committee says in True to the Faith, that “Zion is often used in this way [the pure in heart] to refer to the Lord’s people or to the Church and its stakes.” (They then cite D&C 82:14, which says nothing of the kind)

I prefer to believe that the pure in heart is a reference to those with real charity.  Those possessed with the pure love of Christ.  Those who have the both the same love Christ has for each of us, as well as the love Christ has for our Father.

So it seems that if we preach nothing but repentance and faith in Christ, and look forward to his return by being united with, and loving our neighbors with true charity, we actually can bring about Zion.  And maybe we don’t need the Church™ to follow the injunction to seek to bringing about Zion.

Perhaps if we just act Christlike, the others around us who are observant (watchful, not necessarily rule following), would not only notice, but seeing our good works, would emulate that example, thereby allowing their eyes/minds to be opened and in turn their hearts to become pure.  I have no illusions that such a course would be quick, nor that there would likely not be that many who’s hearts would actually be turned.  But I’m sure there would be some.  More importantly, I believe that it could lead to the ultimate creation of a critical mass of such folks, who could then band together to actually bringing about the physical Kingdom of God Zion that we are supposed to be seeking.

So what do I mean by just act Christlike? When Rock Waterman recently blogged about The Refiner's Fire , he spoke of Mosiah 4:17-18 and called it the “easiest and most rewarding of God's commandments.”  He then concluded: “Doing my meager part to assist someone in having a bite to eat now and then turns out to be the one thing I can do that actually brings me closer to God.”

I think that keeping this commandment (to do unto the least of these) is the first step in becoming pure in heart and having charity.  Not the act of giving to the beggar itself, but the desire behind the act to help your brother/sister in need.  Without regard to how the need arose.  Without assigning blame, or finding fault.  For aren’t we all beggar’s?

Until I hear of a better method of bringing about Zion, this is my plan.  Feel free to adopt it yourself.  Or not.  After all, I'm Dence.