Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wright's sermon: close to Book of Mormon curses.

(May 28, 2008: I've updated this post with a couple scripture references at the end.)

I watched a video of Bill Moyer's interview with Rev Wright. And in that video is a clip of the controversial part of Wright's sermon.

BUT, Moyer's clip of Wright's sermon shows enough of the sermon to put the controversial lines in context.

Looking at Wright's sermon in context, shows me that Wright's premise is in line with the Book of Mormon's (and the Bible's) promises of blessings and cursings upon this land.

I will disagree with Rev Wright about whether the US government is actually fomenting drug use and helping to spread AIDS. Those parts may be just conspiracy theory.

But he lists enough other valid collective sins by our country and by our government that, in my opinion, would qualify our land to merit the curses promised in the Book of Mormon.

Our own (LDS) prophets have told us that all the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are present in our country. I think some of the Brethren have said such sins are even more prevalent now.

Many Christians have jokingly said that if God doesn't punish us for what's going on in our country, he's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

We need to turn and better follow God's ways, both individually and collectively as a nation.

I think the slams against Rev Wright are akin to what people said in the Book of Mormon against Abinadi and Alma (and in the Bible against Isaiah and Jeremiah) when those prophets testified about the sins of the people, and warned them that God would curse (damn) them if they didn't repent.

Such warnings about consequences of obedience to God versus rebellion against God are clear in the Old Testament. Keep God's commandments and prosper. Disobey God's commandments and face his curses.

I don't agree with everything in that sermon. But Rev Wright's pleas for God to damn America seem to me to be pleas for God to fulfill scriptural promises concerning the obedience/disobedience or righteousness/unrighteousness of a people or nation. Which promises are laid out plainly in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.

In my opinion, those who are condemning Rev Wright over this matter are very close to making the same mistakes of King Noah's priests who called for Abinadi's death, and also those Ammonihahites who threw Alma and Amulek into prison.

Rather than saying Rev Wright is crazy or un-American, we ought to be saying that our country, collectively and as individuals, needs to repent of our wickedness. The guy's got a point, and the scriptures back him up.

In the Bible, Leviticus chapter 26 contains the promises of blessings for obedience, and cursings for disobedience. Those were specifically given to ancient Israel, but I think they can also apply to any people who profess to be God's people.

Such promises of blessings and cursings are repeated in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 1:20, and Alma 45:15-16. These promises are specific to "this land" where the Nephites lived, which we believe to be the Western hemisphere, putting aside for the moment just how much of the Western hemisphere was actually occupied by Nephites.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Food crisis in our back yard: Haiti. Please help. Donate now.

Due to the recent food crisis, specifically rice, many people who have been living on the edge are now unable to get enough food to eat.

One place currently hit hard is Haiti.

I have found a charity that has a good track record in feeding the poor: Food for the Poor. They have an excellent rating at Charity Navigator, and the BBB. 96% of their income goes to actual program services. That is very good.

Here is their direct donation link for their Haiti food program. You can donate online, or mail in a check. If you mail in a donation, put their department number for the Haiti program on the envelope and your check. You can also donate to their other programs, or to their general fund.

Is it okay for Mormons to donate to charities other than the church? Sure is, see Alma 1:30.

You can also donate to the LDS church's Humanitarian Aid efforts by entering an amount on that line on an LDS tithing/donation slip. But I don't know if the church currently has any programs going on in Haiti.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

English pass-along card at restaurant. Tue, Apr 22, 2008.

04/22/2008. 1015. I struck up a conversation with another customer at a sandwich shop. He was a native English speaker, and had studied German in school. I offered him a German Book of Mormon, but he wasn't interested. We segued into a disucssion on current events, and it turned out we had similar opinions, so we continued our discussion. When it came time to leave, I gave him one of my business-card size custom pass-along cards.

4th Annual FREE Central Indiana Family History (Genealogy) Conference.


Saturday, September 20th, 2008, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

LDS Church, 900 East Stop 11 Rd, Indianapolis, IN. Mapquest map. Google map. Google street view.

There will be 28 classes offered. Classes are free.

If you want a box lunch you can choose that option. There will be a charge for the box lunch. I don't have the cost for that as yet. There are also many restaurants close by.

A printed syllabus can be purchased for $6.50, or on CD for $1.00.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Tagalog-Cebuano declined at store. Fri, Apr 18, 2008

04/18/2008. 1014. I was shopping at a discount store and the cashier looked like she was from the Philippines. I asked and she was. I offered her the Book of Mormon in the languages she spoke, but she humbly and politely declined to receive them. I forgot to offer a pass-along card. There was some unspoken misunderstanding, but I don't know what it was. Next time I need to buy things from that chain, I'll try to make it there and follow up. I was able to exchange a few words in Tagalog with her, so she'll probably remember me the next time I go.

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Mag 5.2 Earthquake in the Midwest, 5:37 AM EDT,

5:37 AM, local EDT time. I was awake early and felt it. It rumbled for a few seconds, built up, and then the building shook, then died down to a rumble. It lasted maybe 7 to 12 seconds.

I started to call the TV stations but their lines were busy.

Here's the detail from US Geological Survey.

Here's the map from the US Geological Survey.

It's on the WABASH FAULT, which runs along the border of Indiana and Illinois, and is also associated with the Wabash river. The Wabash Fault zone is north of the New Madrid fault zone. There is debate in the geological community as to how closesly associated or connected the Wabash fault zone is with the New Madrid fault zone. The New Madrid fault was the location of huge magnitude 7 quakes in 1811 and 1812.


Update: The USGS has re-classified this as a 5.2 magnitude quake, after originally publishing it as 5.4.


Update: Several aftershocks later in the day. First aftershock was 4.6, then some smaller ones.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

26 Reasons to Study the Book of Mormon.

This is a recap of the reasons from Ezra Taft Benson's First Presidency Message in the January 1988 Ensign.

Why Study The Book of Mormon?

President Benson listed 26 reasons for studying the Book of Mormon (from The Book of Mormon Is The Word of God):

1. It is the word of God.
2. A man can get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book.
3. It is addressed to us in our day.
4. To convince us that Jesus is the Christ.
5. It teaches us to come unto Christ and to abide by His gospel.
6. It exposes the enemies of Christ.
7. It confounds false doctrines.
8. It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day.
9. God expects us to read and study the Book of Mormon.
10. We are to use it as a basis for our teaching.
11. We are to liken the Book of Mormon scriptures to us, that it may be for our profit and learning.
12. We use it to handle objections to the Church.
13. It is to be used as a standard for the Lord's people, the House of Israel.
14. It testifies that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
15. It is the great finder of the golden contact.
16. It is a great sieve - it does not teach things pleasing unto the world.
17. Our missionaries are more effective by using it.
18. It makes our homes and families stronger.
19. Social, ethical, cultural, and educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fullness of the gospel, which the Book of Mormon contains.
20. Church classes cannot be spirit filled unless used as a standard.
21. Our nation will degenerate unless we heed the words and teachings of the Book of Mormon.
22. To lift the church from condemnation.
23. Persuades and prepares men to go on missions.
24. Those who receive it in faith and work righteousness shall receive a crown of eternal life.
25. Those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation.
26. Provides spiritual and intellectual unity in one's life.

The above list is found here, where I copied it from. However, the 26 point recap may have other sources, as I've seen it used elsewhere. So I don't know if it is original with that web page's author.

Numbeer 15, finder of the golden contact, and 17, a missionary tool, are the ones that stand out to me, as they relate to this blog. And in the context of this blog a "golden contact" doesn't necessarily mean someone who gets baptized soon, but rather someone who is willing, and often eager, to receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon in their native language.

I've basically done three things: Eat out, shop, do laundry.

I ask people three basic questions: Where are you from? What languages do you speak? Would you like a free church book in your language?

And somehow, I've run into hundreds of people, who speak over 70 languages, who are willing to receive reading material; mainly the Book of Mormon but also Gospel Fundamentals if there is no BoM in their language yet.

How does that happen? How does the Lord control "circumstances" wherein those encounters are made? All I'm doing is eating, buying stuff, doing laundry, and striking up conversations. And only occasionally, maybe only 10% of the time, is there any inspiration or whisperings of the Spirit telling me where to shop/eat/wash clothes.

In 2005 I took a Swahili BoM (among others) to Colorado, and just by chance, met a man who spoke Swahili. I think it proper to say, at least figuratively if not literally, that the Book of Mormon found that man.

I'll say "Amen" to President Benson's words. The Book of Mormon does the finding. I'm just along for the ride as driver and delivery boy.

Would you please carry a missionary copy of the Book of Mormon in your car, and see what happens?


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Arabic, Spanish at gas station. Sat, Apr 12, 2008.

04/12/2008. 1013. Driving home from shopping I passed a gas station that I don't remember being to before. I felt a tug/impression to go there, but wasn't in the right lane, so I had to go on a bit and turn around.

I needed to buy some gas anyway, so I went in and prepaid. One cashier was getting off duty, and another starting. One was Hispanic, and the other looked as if he might have been from Africa, so I checked out his name tag, and his name had an Arabic spelling.

He was from Sudan and spoke Arabic. He agreed to receive an Arabic Book of Mormon, so I got out Arabic and English copies while I put gas in the car. He gratefully accepted them. The other cashier showed interest, and picked up the English copy, so I asked him if he'd like a Spanish copy. He said okay. I offered a Spanish Bible too, and he agreed to receive one. I went out and brought back Spanish and English copies of the Book of Mormon for him. I thought I had the Spanish Bible in my car, but didn't. He gratefully accepted them and flipped through them.

I went home and retrieved a Spanish Bible, and an English NIV bible for him, and went back. He was still there, and gratefully accepted those too.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Spanish at laundromat, Thu/Fri, Apr 10/11, 2008.

04/10/2008. 1012. Late night at the laundromat. Made a connection when a family (a dad and 3 kids) lost track of how many washers they were using, and put some soap into my washer when it was in the rinse cycle. This required me to run it through another cycle in order to rinse it, and allowed me to stay longer.

While folding clothes, they were using the next table. I offered the father a Spanish Liahona magazine (March 2008 issue), and a "Together Forever" DVD, which he accepted. For some reason I wasn't bold enough to also offer a Book of Mormon. But the March 2008 issue of the Liahona/Engisn is the special Easter issue focusing on the Savior.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Punjabi declined. Mon, Apr 7, 2008.

04/07/2008. 1011. I stopped at a gas station for some gas, and when I pre-paid, I asked the cashier what other languages he spoke. He was from India/Pakistan, and spoke several. He politely but firmly declined my offer of church books in the languages he spoke. I've been to this station before, but hadn't made any placement efforts, and probably haven't talked with him before.

He didn't have a favorable opinion of Christian churches, and declined to receive material on that basis. The interesting thing is that his objections were pretty much along the lines of how the LDS church and many others differ from mainstream Christianity, such as a multiplicity of denominations, hypocrisy, Sunday-only religion, lack of compassion. I wanted to say "But we're different kind of Christians than those other guys", but I didn't. He just plain wasn't interested, and didn't want to waste time reading about Christianity, and I didn't want to contend. Anyway, I basically agree with all his observations. I think that many churches/religions/denominations do suffer from the faults he pointed out.

I'd like to stop by there again and give him opportunity to ask questions and let him continue the conversation if he wants.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

The purpose of apologetics in religion.

I thought this was a very good and succinct purpose of apologetics. On the Mormanity blog, a commenter, "Pops," wrote

"The goal of apologists is to knock down obstacles that might prevent others from taking their spiritual quest down avenues the former have found fruitful.

God could easily prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But then, wouldn't that sort of defeat his purpose?"


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chinese declined at gas station. Sat, Apr 5, 2008.

04/05/2008. 1010. I stopped at a gas station on the way to view General Conference at the stake center. The cashier appeared Asian, so I waited around for the person after me to get done, then asked the cashier what languages she spoke. She mentioned one of the main Chinese dialects.

I offered her a free church book in her language, but she politely declined. Then there came more people in line behind me, so I didn't switch to offering a video, nor mention the bi-lingual nature. But it may be worth a follow-up later to see if she wants a video.

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