Missionary Chat: Omniscience vs. endowments

Today’s missionary chat is based on a question my wife raised that I always found interesting: If God is omniscient, then why do Mormons have endowments done?  Wouldn’t God know who to let into the Celestial Kingdom without evidence of having an endowment done?  Here’s the chat:

Angie: hi!

Bob (me): Hi Angie.

Angie: hello! how are today?

Bob: I’m well.  How are you?

Angie: Fantastic! :)

Angie: Is there anything that we can help you with?

Bob: Yep, I have a question.

Angie: alright! what is it?

Bob: First, do you believe that God is omniscient (i.e., knows everything)?

Melody: We know that he know every things

Bob: Okay. I just wanted to make sure. That leads to my primary question. If God is omniscient, then why do Mormons have to receive the endowment? If I’m not mistaken, the endowment is a gift of knowledge that includes learning handshakes and passwords to get past angels who stand as sentinels to the Celestial Kingdom. If God knows who is worthy and who isn’t, why the handshakes and passwords?

Angie: sorry, I really don’t know about that because as a purpose of a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ. and we Share the Basic belief.

Bob: Hmm… Aren’t endowments required to get into the Celestial Kingdom?

Angie: yes all the I know that we need to do all the Temple ordinances,because it is a command to us

Angie: so you are a member in the church?

Bob: No. I’m just very interested in Mormonism and someone pointed out that this seems odd.  So I thought I’d ask a missionary.

Melody: Where are you from?

Bob: I live in Florida right now.

Angie: cool! so did you meet before the missionaries?

Bob: Yep. I’ve met with many missionaries.

Angie: so how is it?

Bob: Not sure what you mean.  If you’re wondering what I think of the missionaries, I’d say that I don’t find their arguments compelling enough to join the LDS Church.

[The chat session has ended.]

They killed the chat at this point.

So, this question was clearly too “deep” for these missionaries.  I’m not convinced they even knew what “omniscient” meant.  I also find it sad that people do things because it is a “commandment,” no questions asked.  And, finally, I am transcribing the chat exactly as it occurred.  So, the typos and grammar of the missionaries are exactly what they wrote.  I’m not sure how well they end up representing the LDS Church when they write so incoherently.

Missionary Chat: Polygamist God

In my ongoing pursuit to learn what “on the ground” Mormons believe, here’s another Missionary Chat.  This one on God the Father and his wife/wives.

Ken: Hello.

Marcel: welcome back (creepy that they know it’s me again)

Bob (me): Hi. I have a question for the two of you.

Marcel: sure

Bob: Do you, personally, believe that God the Father has multiple wives?

Ken: we are here to represent the Church’s official position-in regards to this question there is no official doctrine on the matter

Bob: I can appreciate that you represent the Church’s official position. But you have personal views on these issues, right? So, I’m wondering what your personal views are.

Ken: sure, but they are no more than speculation

Bob: Perfect!  I love speculation!

Marcel: what interest you about that topic?

Bob: Just wondering what actual Mormons believe about this.

Marcel: Just like ken said, there is no official belief

Ken: there are varying opinions on matters that are not clear-however, we know that there is no need to focus on such matters because they are not essential knowledge at this point-it is much more important to have a testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon

Bob: I can grep that. What is your opinion on this?

Marcel: I do not have an opinion on this topic

Bob: Ken?

Ken: honestly, I haven’t given it enough thought to come to a certain stance-again because its not important to know at this stage in my life

Ken: have you had the opportunity to read and pray about the Book of Mormon?

Bob: Yep.

Marcel: ok, do you believe the book of mormon to be true?

Bob: What do you mean by “true”?

Marcel: I mean true, or its from God

Bob: That’s an intriguing definition of true. The dictionary defines it as: “in accordance with fact or reality”

Marce: you know what I mean, you can define it however you want

Ken: this is a talk that our church leader has given on the matter. we invite you to take a look!

Bob: Reading it now.

Ken: He does a great job of explaining what we mean by that term-and how it applies in our understanding of physical and spiritual matters

Ken: awesome-get back to us when you’re done

Bob: According to that article, truth is, “His gospel. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  So, was Marcel asking me if the Book of Mormon is the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Marcel: Yes

Bob. Oh. Okay. Interesting question.

Marcel: why interesting?

Bob: Well, how can anyone “know” what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is? Christ was illiterate and didn’t write down his “gospel.” And the few records we have of his supposed teachings are very contradictory as they were written decades after his death by a variety of people with different agendas.  So, how could I know if the Book of Mormon is the gospel of Jesus Christ if I have no idea what the gospel of Jesus Christ is?

Marcel: You will know what the gospel of jesus christ is by reading the book of mormon and praying to God

Marcel: even though those men wrote after christ death, they were inspired by God to write the record

Bob: Hmmm… Marcel, your first point seems like circular logic. I’m supposed to determine if the Book of Mormon is the gospel of Jesus Christ without knowing what the gospel of Jesus Christ is by reading a book that is claiming to be the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What evidence is there that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Did Jesus write it?  Do you have evidence external to the book itself indicating that Jesus wrote it?

And, no response…

So, according to Ken and Marcel, D&C 131 is not official doctrine (though I’m sure apologists would claim that “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” is just “temple marriage” and not polygamy, even though it was originally polygamy).  The number of wives god has just doesn’t matter enough to have an opinion about it.

And according to a former airline pilot, truth is “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Take that Merriam-Webster!

Missionary Chat: Gods & Planets

I’m kind of enjoying chatting with the missionaries online.  Since it’s on my own terms, it’s kind of nice.  Here’s my discussion from this week:

Joey: Hello.

Sean: Hello!

Bob (me): Hi. I have a question for the two of you.

Sean: Ok.

Bob: Do you, personally, believe that, after you die, you will become gods and get to create your own planets?

Joey: We believe that we have the potential to inherit all that God hath. We don’t know what that will look like literally.  There is a great article on the subject if you would be interested in reading in more detail.  (posted link to recent article)

Bob: I read the article. I know what it says.  I want to know what Joey and Sean (you two) personally believe.

Joey: I believe that just as a seed grows up to be a strong tree just like the tree it fell from, we have the potential to grow up to be just like our Father in whose image we were created.

Bob: Nice metaphor, Joey.  Can I take that to mean that you believe you can become a god?

Joey: I believe I have divine potential to become like God. I don’t believe that I will replace God, nor do I believe that I know of all the powers I will have as far as creating worlds and such. I do believe, however, that I will be able to have children with my wife in heaven as an eternal divine being.

Bob: Excellent.  And Sean, what do you believe?

Sean: I’m not exactly sure what will happen in the next life, but I do know that God has told us we will become like Him. As far as what exactly this entails, I don’t know. It is His purpose, God’s purpose, to help us come back to Him. We are His children in the most real sense.  As His children, I don’t see how anything separates us in the essence of what we can become. Just as a child follows the example of their father on this earth.

Bob: Great! Thank you both.

Sean: No problem. Anything else we can help you with?

Bob: If you’re okay with it, can I clarify one point in what you wrote, Sean?  You wrote, “Just as a child follows the example of their father on this earth.” What about women?

Sean: Sure. I just said it like that because God is our Father in Heaven.  We’re following God. Him. The roles of men and women in heaven will be different, yes, but we will be together, one in purpose. Marriage is meant to be a binding union, where man and wife become one.

Bob: So, men will become something “like” God. What will women become?

Sean: The same.

Bob: Goddesses? Mothers in Heaven?

Sean: Yeah, pretty much.  Like I said, we don’t know exactly, but it’s safe to say yes to that.

Bob: Okay. Great. Thank you.

Sean: You’re welcome!

So, LDS, Inc. is downplaying the famous couplet, but the missionaries still believe it.  And they’re sexist.

Missionary Chat: Philadelphia Apartment Building

I had another question I wanted to run by some Mormons: Why is the LDS Church building a for-profit, 32 story apartment building in Philadelphia?  Same rules as before…

Bob (me): Hello?

Ken: How can we help you today?

Bob: I have a question about the LDS Church.

Casey: Great! We’ll do our best to help.

Bob: Why is the LDS Church building a multimillion dollar, 32 story apartment building in Philadelphia?

Casey: The Church practices what it teaches when it comes to finances. They have a couple for profit companies that pay taxes and such that the Church uses as a sort of “rainy day fund”. If something were to happen, the Church would be able to take care of a lot of people for a long time.  That being said, when good investment opportunities come up, they take them, in addition, property ones like this, I have noticed are used to help areas economically as well.  The lot that the high rise will be built on will help the area around the Temple that the Church is also building there.

Bob: Okay. Thanks.

Casey: Does that make sense.

Bob (Since he asked me a question, I decided I would ask another): Well, how exactly does the LDS Church “take care of people” with this money?

Casey: Most of the for profit businesses the Church has are farms and land and such. They could easily turn that into a way to feed a lot of people in an emergency.  As far as I understand as well, some of the farms are used to supply our Church’s welfare program, where they help feed member families that are struggling as well as humanitarian efforts where our Church sends tons and tons of food and packages to countries in need (e.g., the typoon in Phillipines

Bob: And the apartments in Philadelphia contribute to that effort?

Casey: I’m not sure what the apartments in Phili will be used for. Sometimes I’m sure the church does it to build up their actual cash rainy day fund, I’m not sure exactly.

Bob: Okay. Thanks. Much obliged.

Casey: You bet, can I ask what sparked your question originally?

Bob: Sure. I read the news article about it in the New York Times.

Casey: Great! Do you know much more about our faith?

Bob: A fair amount, yes.

Casey: Yeah, the way the Church handles their finances really adds to my testimony that it is ran by inspiration. The Church will never go into debt. They won’t dedicate a Church building unless it is paid for in full. They are good stewards of what God gives them. Money is just another opportunity to take care of something that God has given us.  Especially in today’s society when a lot of Americans and businesses, or governments are not very responsible with money.  We know that everything we have and every opportunity we get is from God and so we should treat it that way.  I hope that all makes sense?

Bob: Sure.  Though, how do you know how the LDS Church manages it’s finances. They aren’t public record, are they?

Casey: No, dollar amounts are not public, but some of the principles they follow are.

Bob: Okay. Thanks.

Casey: You bet!  Bob, would you be interested in talking to full-time missionaries in your area?

Bob: No. But thank you for asking.

Ken: ok. well is there anything else we can assist you with today?

Bob: Nope. That’s plenty. Thank you.  Have a good day.

Casey: You as well Bob, thanks for coming online to ask!

Bob: Bye.

Do Mormons really believe these explanations?

Missionary Chat: Florida Property

In case you didn’t catch it, the LDS Church now owns 2% of the state of Florida.  Since I try not to bug my still Mormon family members about the LDS Church very often, I decided to go to the always available source for thoughts on this: Missionary Chat.  My rules for the chat were simple: ask the missionary (turns out there were two) why the LDS Church was buying so much property in Florida, wait for the answer, then say goodbye.  I wasn’t trying to pick a fight or anything, I just wanted to know what a missionary would say (so convenient).  Here’s the transcript (I’m Bob):

David (Really?  Isn’t it Elder Johnson or something?): Hi, how are you?

Bob: Fine. How are you?

David: great thanks! How can we help you today?

Bob: I have a questions about the LDS Church. I’m wondering why the LDS Church owns 2% of the state of Florida.

David: I wasn’t aware of that… What do they own in Florida?

Bob: Hundreds of thousands of acres of property. Deseret Citrus and Cattle Ranch.

David: Oh ok.

Bob: And they just bought another ranch in the panhandle used for timber. Why does a church own so much for-profit property?

Kevin (his companion, I suppose): So a lot of this ties into the churches welfare program. The food or objects produced goes to help people where they need it. Here is a link that expalians a little more on this.

Bob: Okay. Thanks.

Kevin: Ya no problem! Are there any other questions that we can help you with.

Bob: Nope. That’s it. Have a good day.

Kevin: Okay! Have a great day Bob!

So, David had no idea, and Kevin gave the apologetic response, which doesn’t make sense.  Can’t feed timber or shell rock to people without food.  Off to a good start.  I’m going to keep asking my ever-present missionaries questions to see what they know.  Should be fun.

Is Mormonism going to evolve, and can I make it work for me?

I had a young man email me with a couple of questions.  After writing up my response to him, I thought my response might make a good post on MSP.
Here’s the question:
Is it possible, do you think, for a fundamentalist religion like Mormonism to evolve to become a “liberal” religion (if only it could happen more quickly!)? 
He also asked how he could make a place for himself in the religion despite not being a fundamentalist.  Here’s my response:
Regarding your question: Can fundamentalist religions evolve to become “liberal” religions?  The short answer is, “yes.”  The long answer is, “It takes time and, well, is complicated.”
Let me explain… All religions are in a constant state of change.  Some are more open to change than others, but all have to change, or else they will die.  Why?  Because there are two primary factors that drive religious growth and decline within any given population: being seen as “legitimate” by the broader cultural value system but retaining a unique niche.  You can think about religions – especially in the US – as quasi-corporations.  They either want to increase their market share or at least maintain their market share.  In order to do this, they can’t be so extreme that the majority of the potential “consumers” reject them.  For example, Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church – the one that protests at funerals all over the place and is extremely anti-gay – is almost universally despised across the US.  As a result, no one is joining.  They are not “legitimate” according to broader cultural values because they are openly hate-filled.  So, they don’t grow.  In essence, Westboro Baptist has no “legitimacy” but a very clear market niche – if you really hate gays and want to be public about it, join Westboro Baptist.
Now contrast that with, say, The United Church of Christ.  The United Church of Christ is a liberal Christian religion.  It, too, is not growing.  Why?  Because it is 100% legitimate – it agrees with science, embraces alternative sexualities, etc. – but it is not really unique.  In fact, it is an ecumenical church, meaning it will accept baptisms from other liberal Christian denominations.  Basically, The United Church of Christ doesn’t have anything unique about it; it’s just like dozens of other liberal Christian denominations in the US.
In order to grow (if growth is possible, depending on demand for religion, but that’s a different issue), a religion has to find the right balance between “legitimacy” and “niche appeal.”  The LDS Church does an okay job with this.  But, and this is where my answer to your question comes in, the result of maintaining legitimacy is that the religion is constantly growing more “liberal.”  For instance, 40 years ago, blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood.  Today they can.  Just 25 years ago there were penalties for revealing temple ceremony covenants; those are gone.  110 years ago the religion practiced polygamy; that’s gone.  And, also about 40 years ago, the LDS Church thought aversion therapy – strapping gay men into chairs and making them vomit when they watched gay porn – was a good approach to curing homosexuality; that, too, is gone.  What’s happening?  As cultural values in the US have shifted, so, too, have the policies of the LDS Church. And those policies have all shifted toward greater cultural legitimacy, which is almost universally more liberal (technically, more progressive).  Ryan Cragun and Michael Nielsen published a book chapter in which they detailed this entire process.  In short, as the LDS Church tries to remain a culturally “legitimate” institution, it is forced to get rid of the more bizarre and inhumane elements of the religion.  The result is a general softening of Mormonism over time.  In fact, the FLDS is a closer approximation of the Mormonism of the 1800s than is the LDS Church, because they have refused to legitimize: they are still racist, polygamist, etc. (though, of course, don’t tell a member of the LDS Church that; they won’t like hearing it).
So, the general trend for any religion that wants to remain “legitimate”, which is certainly a desire of the LDS Church today, is toward becoming more progressive.  However, there is also a motivation not to adjust too rapidly to prevailing cultural norms.  If the LDS Church suddenly became just like The United Church of Christ, what would make them unique?  They wouldn’t have anything they could “sell” to “consumers.”  So, in order to remain unique they have to continue teaching that The Book of Mormon is authentic (though, of course the General Authorities today know the problems with that claim), they have to continue claiming the prophet receives revelation (despite not receiving anything that would qualify as a revelation for decades), they don’t want to be too friendly toward homosexuals and women, because that would make them too liberal, and their base is extremely conservative (both religiously and politically).  In short, the LDS Church is liberalizing, but slowly.  And, if the leadership is smart, they will continue down the same path – slow liberalization – in order to balance their legitimacy and niche appeal.  It is possible that a new leader could revolutionize the religion and it could become liberal very quickly, kind of like Methodists in the US did, but that’s unlikely.
So, there is hope for the LDS Church.
As for your participation… Well, I’m not ever keen on giving advice – I don’t know your particular situation and advice is always contingent on lots of things – but I could suggest one thing: Don’t let the religion USE you; USE the religion!  What do I mean by that?  The LDS Church is a massive organization that survives based on its members’ willingness to give money and do whatever the leadership tells them to do.  If you give money to the religion and do whatever the religion tells you to, you are being USED by the octogenerian leadership of the religion as a pawn.  You’re basically a non-thinking sheep.  But you don’t have to be.  You could selectively agree to callings that you think will actually make a difference in the world, and, in your callings, you can offer a different perspective.  Be the scoutmaster and embrace gay scouts, teaching the other scouts that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.  You could volunteer to teach gospel doctrine and offer non-literalistic perspectives in subtle ways, slowly leading the members away from fundamentalism.  In short, you can help ease the members in your local ward away from fundamentalist thinking by being selective in how you volunteer.  And, if you want to donate, tell your bishop that you will only donate to the humanitarian efforts of the church, not to the missionary efforts or the general tithing fund.  If he won’t accept that as a full tithe, then don’t pay your tithing.  Meanwhile, take advantage of the sense of community.  It is a strong community and it can make you feel very welcome.  But don’t let the community USE you.  USE it for what you want.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, your spouse, your kids, your values, etc.  Publicly dissent if the leadership does something egregious.  If your bishop oversteps his bounds, tell him.  Stand up to him.  Publicly advocate for women getting the priesthood.  Publicly advocate for homosexuals being allowed full participation while being sexually intimate.  Read up on masturbation and let young people know that it is perfectly normal and they don’t need to feel guilt over it.  Be the person you want to be.  Yes, you’ll probably get some dirty looks some times, and probably some snide comments from some of the more conservative members.  But they are not the church; you are the church.  You may want to read Levi Peterson’s autobiography.  He has publicly stated that if the LDS Church excommunicated him, he’d still go to church, because it’s his church, not the leaders’ church.  You can still be Mormon and not be a sheep.  And the more people who start standing up to the leadership of the religion, the weaker their hold will be on the religion.  Eventually, they will become more like The Community of Christ, where they literally vote on policies and doctrines.  Right now it’s a dictatorship, but Mormons don’t realize that religion is voluntary.  They don’t have to follow what the dictators at the top of the hierarchy say.  The more local members reject the dictates of the oligarchs, the sooner the religion divests itself of its least desirable elements.

Real or pretend change? LDS Inc. on gay scouts…

If you haven’t heard, the LDS Church issued a statement on the policy change the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering that would allow gay scouts – but no gay scout masters.  The statement is a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance – it says everything without saying anything.

Of note, the words “gay” and “homosexual” don’t appear in the statement.

A lot has been made about this statement as it seems laudatory of the change.  But the statement never clearly comes out and says, “Yep, we are fully on board with gay scouts.”  Instead it says things like, “[we] are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.'” And, “We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues.”  In other words, the statement says that the Church is happy with the BSA’s efforts to consider these issues.  That’s all the statement clearly states.

However, it insinuates that the Church is in favor of the change, and that is how most media outlets have interpreted the statement, despite the fact that the statement never explicitly says that it is in support of allowing gay scouts.

So, what’s going on here?  It seems like at least two things were influential in the wording of this statement.

First, the LDS Church can’t openly say that it welcomes gay scouts because it would offend the many homophobic members, like Boyd Packer.  By welcoming gay scouts, that would be tantamount to endorsing gay scouts, and they can’t do that without pissing off potentially thousands of their conservative, bigoted members.  So, the statement insinuates support without stating support.

Second, the BSA policy change reflects an interesting perspective on homosexuality that I think LDS Inc. supports.  Gay scouts are okay, because they are young and, hopefully, can be taught that being gay is wrong.  They’ll grow out of it, so they can tolerate gay scouts.  Plus, they are unlikely to be having gay sex, which is what homophobe Packer seems to really have an issue with.  But gay scoutmasters – well, they can’t be tolerated.  Why?  Because that would suggest that the religion endorses homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle rather than a sinful desire that needs to be overcome.  Thus, the BSA policy change actually already aligns with LDS Inc.’s views towards homosexuals: identifying as having “same-sex attraction” is fine; it’s the same as saying I’m addicted to alcohol or porn.  But actually embracing your homosexual orientation and living as a homosexual is wrong, because that undermines the idea that homosexuality is sinful (just like saying “I occasionally watch porn and feel no guilt over it” or “I drink alcohol socially and am a responsible adult” both illustrate that sin is socially constructed).

So, young gays are okay.  But old gays are a threat to the Mormon sacred canopy under which acting gay is sinful.  This isn’t change on the part of the Church; this is insinuating being progressive without actually being progressive.

the feminists are coming, the feminists are coming!

There’s lots going on at LDS Inc. regarding women.  Obviously the big news is that a woman finally got to say a prayer in conference, which the church is claiming was already on the schedule and had nothing to do with the petitions and letters.  Of course, in her prayer she thanked god for the patriarchal structure of the church, “We are grateful for the restoration of the gospel, and with it the blessings of priesthood power, temple covenants, scriptures, and living apostles and prophets.”  The male leadership can’t let women get too uppity before they slap them down!  I wonder how many versions of that prayer she had to rehearse before the patriarchal octogenarians approved it?!?

On the heels of this milestone comes another concession to women – Mission Leadership Councils.  These sound like nice, token efforts to pretend to include sister missionaries in the leadership of missions, without actually giving the sister missionaries any real authority, influence, or power.  Male missionaries still hold all of the actual positions, they are now just going to let two “sister training leaders” sit in on an occasional meeting with the men who actually have all the authority.  How nice of them…

Some Mormon women have, as was noted in a prior post on MSP, realized that token efforts are just that, token efforts.  They are asking for more – ordination to the priesthood.  Props to them.  I hope they get it, and sooner rather than later.  Alas, that it is all hope, with virtually no confidence that anything will come of their efforts any time soon.

But, again, the patriarchal octogenarians can’t let women get too uppity.  The new young womens leaders announced in conference have all drunk the Kool Aid.  Two are Mormon royalty – a McConkie and a Marriott.  Two had 7 kids; one had 11, for a total of 25 kids between them.  And their primary qualifications – they were good helpers with their husband’s callings.  Of the new president you get this great quote, “She has been a fantastic support for her husband in his responsibilities and is certainly capable of carrying out this important assignment, which, of course, will take her around the world.”  Not only does this illustrate Mormon nepotism, but also the inequality between men and women.  When men are called to positions, their work outside the church is usually described as helping to justify their selection.  When women are called, the emphasis is put on their ability to have kids and support their husbands, though they did at least mention that they all had English degrees.

anti-porn videos from the 1980s?

I’ve been working on a research project examining official Mormon discourse over the last 40 years or so and came across a reference to some anti-porn videos produced by the Church in the 1980s.  Has anyone ever heard of these videos?  And, even better, does anyone have copies they would like to share?

Here’s the citation:

“Church Produces Anti-Pornography Documentaries,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 75–76

The Church has produced several half-hour radio and television documentaries on the plague of pornography and plans to distribute them as widely as possible as free public affairs programs. The programs resulted from the Church’s longstanding concern about the growing availability and impact of pornographic material.

Commenting on pornography and the abuse of modern technology to disseminate it, Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve said:

“New technologies that can bless our lives in so many positive ways are also being used to spread pornography. … Video recorders now can bring to homes great classics, … but they also bring into some of these same homes lurid portrayals of debauchery that contaminate those who view them.”

It is estimated that pornographic videocassettes are now being rented or sold in more than 22,000 stores throughout the United States alone, Elder Haight said.

“The growing presence of obscenity has been aided by the lowering of media standards for advertising, by relaxed movie ratings, by television soap operas and situation comedies that use their powerful voices to justify, glamorize, and encourage sexual relations outside of marriage,” he pointed out.

The documentaries feature comments on the pornography issue from a clinical psychologist, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, a U.S. attorney, and clergy and other leaders of various denominations, including Elder Haight and Ardeth G. Kapp, general president of the Church’s Young Women organization. The programs will be distributed to commercial television stations, cable TV systems, and radio stations throughout the United States.

“Let our voices be heard in our communities,” said Elder Haight. “If something offends [our] standards of decency, our voices should be heard. Make our elected officials and law enforcement people aware that we support the fair enforcement of laws prohibiting obscenity and regulating indecency.”


Joseph vs. The Gold: Help me script it!


Ever since seeing this not so good version on youtube, I’ve been wondering what a good recreation of the Joseph Smith run with the plates might look like.  It’s all based on Lucy Smith’s account:

“The plates were secreted about three miles from home… Joseph, on coming to them, took them from their secret place, and, wrapping them in his linen frock, placed them under his arm and started for home.”
After proceeding a short distance, he thought it would be more safe to leave the road and go through the woods. Traveling some distance after he left the road, he came to a large windfall, and as he was jumping over a log, a man sprang up from behind it, and gave him a heavy blow with a gun. Joseph turned around and knocked him down, then ran at the top of his speed. About half a mile further he was attacked again in the same manner as before; he knocked this man down in like manner as the former, and ran on again; and before he reached home he was assaulted the third time. In striking the last one he dislocated his thumb, which, however, he did not notice until he came within sight of the house, when he threw himself down in the corner of the fence in order to recover his breath. As soon as he was able, he arose and came to the house. He was still altogether speechless from fright and the fatigue of running” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Smith, pp.107-108).

So, if you wanted to recreate this incident, what would be the ideal script?

  • How big/tall would the person playing Joseph have to be?
  • How heavy would the plates have to be?  Does the size/shape matter?
  • How far would the Joseph character have to run?
  • What about the people chasing him: How big/tall would they need to be?
  • How about the logs he hurdles?  How big would they have to be?

I’m thinking about trying to recreate this, though I wouldn’t be offended if someone else did it first.  I just thought I’d get some input on how to recreate this such that it would satisfy the apologists.

(Also, if there are any readers in Florida who want to help, make a note in the comments and maybe we can work out a date/time for our recreation.  I have a decent camera and tripod that would work.)