The Purpose of Nephite Temples

I’m willing to bet that if a Nephite entered a modern Mormon temple, they would be surprised at what s/he saw.

I started reading the Book of Mormon again about 3.5 years ago. To this point, I’ve made it as far as Mosiah 11. Yes, It’s taken me 3.5 years to get this far in the Book of Mormon. I read 1–3 verses per day. What his has allowed me to do is look for meaning and messages I normally over look when trying to race through the text.

Something I have noticed is what appears to be the purpose of the temples of the Nephites. They seem to be places of instruction. Granted, someone might argue modern Modern temples are places of instruction as well. True enough. But not in the same way.

We read in 2 Ne 5:16 that Nephi and his people built a temple in the land of Nephi. It was in this temple that Jacob gave his famous address in Jacob 2 to the Nephites. It was at this temple that Limhi (and subsequently Ammon) told his people that Ammon had come to offer them deliverance from the bondage of the Lamanites (see Mosiah 7).

King Benjamin taught his angelically-inspired sermon found in Mosiah 2–5 from the temple in Zarahemla. Jesus taught the Nephites from the temple in Bountiful.

It seems to me based on these examples, is that the temples of the Nephites were used as places of instruction. Not like ours today, where we learn the same rites and rituals. More like a spiritual university; a place where you were taught a myriad of sermons, doctrines, and principles.

Actually, of all the Mormon temples built, I have to wonder if the Kirtland Temple would have been the closest to that purpose.

George P. Lee dies | Deseret News

George P. Lee, the first American Indian to serve as a general authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Wednesday at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. He was 67 years old.

. . .

George P. Lee once enjoyed such widespread respect as the first and only American Indian LDS general authority that many Mormons believed he someday might become an apostle or even higher.

Read more at George P. Lee dies and Ousted LDS leader dies

My 37th Birthday

All of my birthdays have always been about stuff.

But this year, I’m giving my birthday up.

I’m turning 37 years old in September, and instead of asking for gifts, I’m asking for $37 or more from everyone I know. It’s not going to me, though. All of it is going to build freshwater wells for people in developing nations.

A billion people in the world are living without clean water—but how much are they really living? Millions contract deadly diseases from contaminated water. 45,000 people will die this week alone. The lucky ones won’t, but still walk hours each day to get dirty water to give to their families.

My birthday wish this year is not for more gifts I don’t need; it’s to give clean and safe drinking water to some of the billion living without it. I want to make my birthday matter this year.

Please join me.

Because of charity: water’s unique model, 100% of all donations go directly to direct water projects costs, and each donation is “proved” and tracked to the village it helped when projects are complete.

Why Are Mormon Church Meetings So Dull? – Flunking Sainthood

A couple of years ago I read the memoir Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea, a Massachusetts novelist. The author’s project was to attend a different religious service every weekend and write about her initial impressions.

I felt that it was unfair to judge a faith tradition based on a single snapshot, when so much of religious life happens during the other days of the week. That said, what Shea concluded about Mormonism was spot on: the only thing non-Mormons needed to fear about Mormonism was that Mormons would bore the world’s population to death.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to make us realize the truth about ourselves. This author nailed the fact that our sacrament meetings are beyond dull; they are stultifying. She certainly had no desire to return. And really, who could blame her?

Read more at Why Are Mormon Church Meetings So Dull? – Flunking Sainthood.

A Modest Proposal: Making More Hymns “Familiar”

But I think there are simple things we can do to learn more hymns together. I suppose this post is a plea to choristers and Ward Music Chairs everywhere to consciously teach the “unfamiliar” hymns in their wards. This is how I do it when I get to be in charge in my ward:

Read more at A Modest Proposal: Making More Hymns “Familiar”

Preaching to the choir

I served as a full time missionary for the LDS church in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission (there was only one mission in Nevada at the time).  Lots of fond memories there.  Blistering heat that would leave your footprints in the asphalt, desert rainstorms / flash floods, really interesting people from all over the world.  There was also the “work”.

I remember the first time I was a trainer.  We were instructed by our mission president to take our new missionary tracting as soon as we got them back to the apartment.  Didn’t even give them time to unpack.  I think I handled the first dozen or so door approaches before my “greenie” got the courage to try one.  On his very first try, a man came to the door wearing nothing but boxer shorts with a handgun tucked in the front.  The man suggested we leave.   We did.  What a great way to start a mission.

I experienced two mission presidents while there.  Both of them had different approaches to proselyting, but one thing remained the same.  We were to spend as little time as possible with existing members of the church.  We were even told that if there wasn’t an investigator at church, that we were to be sure to attend one of our wards and take the sacrament, but then we should leave and be out in the community proselyting, even attending other churches.  We did this quite a bit.  While in Nevada, I attended Catholic Mass, Jehovah’s Witness meetings, and a variety of other Christian denomination meetings.  While not  always resulting in formal teaching opportunities, attending these other churches generated a lot of gospel discussions.

When we were with members, we would tract or take them street contacting.  We never visited with the less active unless it was a part-member family situation that had a potential convert.  Our dinner appointments with members were to be wrapped up in under an hour unless a non-member was present.  The total focus was on bringing souls to Christ through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.  And you can’t do that when you spend all your time with the “already baptized”.

Fast forward to today.

The mission in the area where I live has been given a mandate that every companionship needs to teach 20 missionary discussions a week.  I guess that’s a good thing.  I remember similar goals when I was a full time missionary.  However, here, where I live, the focus seems to be on teaching these discussions to member families, not non-members.  The missionaries in our ward pass around two calendars.  One is the dinner calendar, and the other is a calendar for you to have them over to teach you a discussion.

To me, that’s just bizarre.  I just don’t understand the logic in “Preaching to the choir”.  I mean, pretty much all active, attending LDS families are probably already converted.  There is almost zero chance that anyone they are teaching is a candidate for baptism and confirmation.

I’ve heard the argument that this will help inspire members to invite non-members over to take part in these discussions.  Frankly, I don’t buy it.  In the last couple years that they’ve been trying this, we have had ZERO convert baptisms in our ward as a result.

Is this the future of missionary work in the church?  To spend all that money, time, effort, and resources to become an over-glorified home teaching program?

America the Beautiful

We sang “America the Beautiful” for our closing hymn in Sacrament today. I always feel weird singing it since it seems to be an unofficial anthem of the United States. Granted, there really aren’t many non-patriotic hymns in the hymnal for Canadians to sing in honour of Canada Day. I guess it’s better than singing “Oh, Say Can You See”.

But did we have to stand to sing today?

I had to check the map when I got home to make sure I was still in Canada.