Tuesday, September 27, 2016 0 comments

All Things Working Together For Our Good


Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another. (D&C 90:24)

The above sounds like one of the best recipes for optimism that I’ve ever heard of. And that promise that a things would work together for our good—doesn’t that just fil you with hope and gratitude?  To think that the universe and everything in it ultimately will bring about good things for us is comforting. Even the hard things can bring about our good if we follow the Lord’s instructions. It reminds me of that quote by Orson F. Whitney:

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”

Anyway, back to the idea of “all things working together for our good”.. It’s also a direct contradiction of a paranoid viewpoint. Some people think everything and everyone is out to get them (and that’s a pitiable mental illness), but the Lord tells us that if we search diligently, pray always, believe, and keep our covenants, then all things are working for us, even if they seem to work against us.


Sunday, September 25, 2016 0 comments

The Bishop’s Agent


22 And let the bishop search diligently to obtain an agent, and let him be a man who has got riches in store—a man of God, and of strong faith—
23 That thereby he may be enabled to discharge every debt; that the storehouse of the Lord may not be brought into disrepute before the eyes of the people. (D&C 90:22-23)

This sounds as if the command was to find a rich man who would be willing to use his personal funds to discharge the debts of the Lord’s storehouse. But there may be something else going on here.

The storehouse had to get its goods somehow. It had to buy them from somewhere, and at that time it would usually be on credit. Suppliers would want to know that they wouldn’t be defrauded by a new customer. They would look at reputation to know whether to do business or not.

If a supplier had goods ordered by “that upstart Mormon church,” about which so much antagonism and vituperation was bandied, they would feel they were taking a risk. But if the agent who set up the transaction was a rich man who was also known to have strong faith, that would be a sort of social proof that would satisfy the suppliers.  Suppliers would say to themselves, Well, [rich guy] is a part of that church, so there must be something respectable about it. [Rich guy] trusts them, so I suppose I can trust them. [Rich guy] will make sure I get paid because if I don’t, then his reputation and faith is on the line too.”

It might be easy to say that the storehouse was a bit unstable at that time, and I don’t know much about it, but what I do see in these verses is that the Lord knew people need social proof of some things, and He went about to provide it in the form of reputable people who would act in the church’s interest. The Lord also knew the church’s storehouse needed a good reputation in financial things, so He provided for that too.

If we lived in a perfect world with completely honest people, perhaps reputation and social proof would not be needed, but since that is not the case, the Lord still works to build trust for the various institutions of His Kingdom. Each of us is an informal piece of that. Every member a missionary.

Let’s make sure we live so as to not bring the church into disrepute among the people.
Friday, September 23, 2016 0 comments

Truth as eternal in nature


24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93:24-25)

I love how truth is defined here. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” almost 2000 years ago, and this is the best definition I’ve seen. It is a principle that doesn’t change over time.

I was a bit puzzled by the corollary that anything more or less than that comes from Satan. It is easiest to see that anything less than timeless would not be universally applicable, but what falls under the head of “more”?  What could be “more” than eternal?

Eventually I realized the “more or less than this” referred to the scope of the principles rather than their time frame (although time frame has already been made a factor). It refers to under-done and over-done principles.

Under-done principles do not give the benefit of discipline that they promise. It cheats us out of true progression. Over-done principles promise greater holiness, but actually they take away freedom and opportunity for growth by narrowing our views. So they both lie about their benefits.   Satan would  prefer that we disobey, but he will also try to persuade us to under-do or over-do our obedience.

Thus, we have to seek the Spirit to know how we can best receive truth and improve our lives.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 2 comments

New Lessons from the Genesis 39 Story of Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife


The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is easily boiled down to the lesson of resisting temptation of immorality with immediate flight. Sometimes it is easy to think Joseph had an easy choice or that Potiphar’s wife was completely evil from beginning to end.

However, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the story holds insight not just from examining Joseph’s perspective, but also the perspective of Potiphar’s wife.  I think that by seeing her as an ordinary woman in need of love, we can gain additional insights about vulnerabilities to temptation.   

On the surface, Mrs. Potiphar seems like she has a wandering eye. We’ve read her this way so many times. She’s forward and vocal about what she wants, and eventually she becomes physically aggressive as well, taking hold of Joseph’s clothes to the point that he has to slide out of them to escape her.   But…at the beginning, when you read the account closely, you might see that she doesn’t even notice Joseph until after some time that he is made overseer in Potiphar’s house.  It takes time for him to even appear on her radar at all.  Potiphar notices Joseph’s abilities and virtues much faster than Mrs. Potiphar does.  Joseph finds grace in Potiphar’s sight much faster than with Mrs. Potiphar.

1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
7 ¶And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. (Genesis 39:1-7)

So what is it that draws Mrs. Potiphar’s notice?  It’s probably a combination of factors.
First, Joseph is a goodly person and well-favoured. Some commentators point out this is similar language to how Rachel, David, and Absalom were described and say this means Joseph was good-looking.  Probably he was.  Second, he must have been pretty likable, both to the other servants and to Potiphar. (A slave certainly isn’t going to want to make enemies.) Third, he was trustworthy and successful in his work.  I also think it very likely he gave everyone an impression of care and consideration as he worked with them. 

I suspect that Mrs. Potiphar noticed his care and consideration along with all his other good traits and then by imperceptible degrees began to feel that some of that was directed specifically at her.  And how could it not be? If everything in the house had been made Joseph’s responsibility, then he probably had to do things for Mrs. Potiphar as well as her husband.  He probably served her in his usual superior fashion. For some women, service is a major love language, and it may have been Mrs. Potiphar’s. Soo.. she may have reasoned that Joseph’s exemplary service was done because he loved her.   I don’t think the trouble between them erupted in a short period of time. It could have built up over months and maybe even years. 

Further, at the same time Joseph is daily demonstrating his competence and running the household in every respect, Potiphar is doing less and less around the house until he is doing nothing. Potiphar may have been focusing more on work for Pharaoh, but to Mrs. Potiphar it would appear as though her husband had turned lazy at home.  At home, Joseph showed to greater advantage than Potiphar. It would be really hard for Mrs. Potiphar to not make comparisons between Joseph and her husband.

I notice that our record is pretty clear about Mrs. Potiphar’s feelings for Joseph, but it says nothing about how Joseph felt about her. We assume that he was completely indifferent to her. But…is anyone ever completely indifferent to someone they see every day, someone they serve, someone they try to please, someone whose material interests they are bound to do all they can to promote?

7 ¶And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:7-9)

If this were a simple case of sexual harassment—if she liked him and he didn’t—after his first refusal, Mrs. Potiphar could simply have lowered the boom and made Joseph’s life heck with some sort of physical punishment.   I personally wonder if Joseph did at least like her, and maybe she made that first invitation because she thought he would accept easily. Maybe she thought he felt some sort of constraint and she wanted to remove it.

Incidentally, we interpret her request “Lie with me” as a direct demand for sex, but compared to “come in unto me” it seems less direct. She may have been asking him to lie next to her, but Joseph would not even do that, probably seeing it as a gateway act to the sin.  The point is, however the way she phrased her request/demand, the intention was transparent.

It is interesting that Joseph’s refusal emphasizes 1) the trust put in him by Potiphar, 2) his status in Potiphar’s household, 3) how nothing had been kept back from him except her because she was already married, and 4) the sin it would be against God. He recognizes his privileged place and doesn’t want to ruin it.  He’s full of reasons. It’s like he was ready. Like he’d already had to start convincing himself. Like he’d already had practice talking to himself about it.

Also interesting is that he sees Mrs. Potiphar as one who has been “kept back” from him.  I have to wonder if he would say she had been “kept back” from him unless he had wanted her on some level and pondered the situation deeply.  There is something here that reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve who could eat any fruit except that which had been forbidden, while Satan tried to make the forbidden fruit seem the most attractive.  

Ultimately, Joseph’s deepest commitment was to God, and that gave him the motivation to resist.

Once Mrs. Potiphar speaks and he refuses, Joseph seems to have realized that he needed to guard himself.

And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. (Gen. 39:10)

Mrs. Potiphar was thoroughly infatuated. She couldn’t leave him alone, but indulged herself by speaking to him day by day, which would be very wearing over time for him. We don’t know whether she kept repeating the request that he lie with her or whether she merely made herself as charming as possible.
  
Joseph, on his part, seems to have used his status in the household to manufacture safety measures for himself. It is hard to imagine how he could get away with straight ignoring her to her face, but he had other options. It is likely he gave himself lots of things to do to keep out of her way, that he took other servants with him so he was never alone with her, and he sent messengers to her instead of talking to her himself. He was a slave, so he couldn’t just change jobs to a different household. So he had to find creative ways to isolate himself from her.

Sadly, she seems to have misunderstood.  (And I have to wonder if she had nothing meaningful to occupy her time and attention to keep her from thinking so much about him.)  It is possible she thought that the people always with him and the constant work kept him from expressing his true feelings for her.  So she set up what she thought was the perfect situation.

And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. (v11)

Hmmm. No one is there in the house except Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar for some reason. Astonishing coincidence. All the servants are off skylarking except for Joseph, who is intent on his task list.  It sounds like Mrs. Potiphar has sent everyone away.

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. (v12)

This time she is more forceful in her invitation, grabbing onto his clothes, perhaps hoping some violent passion would get the message across that she was ready and willing.

Joseph would not have felt he needed to guard himself if he didn’t feel vulnerable, and without those precautions, he must have been suddenly afraid, maybe not of her, but of himself. So in the heat of the moment of ambush, he doesn’t say anything—he already said his say earlier.  If he was unsure of his strength to resist, touching her would be last thing he’d want to do for any reason, so grappling with her to get his clothes out of her clutches would be out of the question.   Better to forget his dignity, leave them behind, and run.

I have to wonder where he went or how long he stayed away or what he thought would happen afterward.

Mrs. Potiphar, for her part, starts spreading lies about Joseph and gets him in trouble. For the longest time, I thought it was very peculiar that she accuses him of rape and then Potiphar only threw him in jail. Joseph is a slave. A high status slave, yes, but still a slave. It would be more believable for him to be executed. And perhaps the Lord protected him that way.

But recently, I noticed something peculiar in Mrs. Potiphar’s story she tells about Joseph. She tells things one way to the men of her house, and another way to Potiphar.

To the men of her house she says, “See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.” (v14-15)

To Potiphar, she says, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. (v17-18)

Notice that not only does she make Joseph the bad guy, but also Potiphar for bringing Joseph into the household. This is another indication that she’s become distanced from Potiphar over this time. Also, when she talks to the men of the household, she makes it out that Joseph has not just mocked her, but mocked them too. (She’s trying to turn the men of the house against Joseph first and Potiphar secondarily.) Then when she talks to Potiphar, she only says that Joseph mocked her.  

Another thing that is peculiar, is that Mrs. Potiphar places emphasis in a peculiar place in her accusation. There’s the rape part, but then there’s the detail that she cried and then Joseph left his clothes and fled.  It almost seems like she is making a bigger deal over the lie that he left her crying than the lie that he raped her. But why? What is going on here?

Mrs. Potiphar is accusing Joseph of being unfeeling and uncaring. “He did it to mock me,” she says to her husband. “He saw me crying and he just left.

What is going on in her head? Mrs. Potiphar, having been previously convinced that Joseph loved her, was shocked to learn by his hasty departure that he actually did not want to have sex with her. (He’d told her before, but she had believed his caring acts of service more than his verbal denial.) So, after his speedy exit, she would think back on all the things she remembered him doing for her and say to herself, Soo…that nice thing he did for me wasn’t love? This other thing wasn’t love? And that? And that? And that? (ad nauseum) and she’d ask herself, Then why did he do all that stuff at all? She’d conclude, He must have been messing with me, trying to make a fool of me for his own amusement.  (Of course, Joseph hadn’t been doing that. She had just allowed her own heart to deceive her.)

But then, she would reason, If his care for me was an act, then what about his care for anyone else in the household? Is that an act too? It made her doubt Joseph’s care for all the other servants as well.  When she told the servants, “He’s mocking us,” she meant, “He messed with me, and he’s been messing with you too.  He just pretends to love us.” Along with rape, she represents Joseph to the other servants and to Potiphar as a manipulator and a sociopath, someone who acts like they care, but doesn’t. And rapist sociopaths are dangerous, even if they are good estate managers, so Potiphar would think taking Joseph out of society (putting him in jail) would prevent him from “using” other people.

But why would she claim Joseph raped her if he didn’t? She’s been infatuated with him for so long, so why accuse him of something like that? She may have reasoned, If he doesn’t really care about me the way I do about him, then keeping him around is going to be torture. I can’t see him day after day. I can’t do this any more.  I have to get rid of him somehow.  But Joseph hadn’t done anything wrong to justify his removal, and everyone knew he was a great manager, so she couldn’t accuse him of mismanagement. Thus, she had to make up something awful enough to get him out of the way, but I can’t see her wanting to get him killed.  Yes, the false accusation was very wrong, but she probably felt she couldn’t explain the real problem to her husband, having already emotionally distanced herself from him.

Joseph may have seen the imprisonment as a welcome separation and a relief. We have no record that he fought the accusation.

So with this view of the story, it is no longer about the exceptionally virtuous man who dares to defy the power of the EVIL WOMAN.  With a sympathetic view of both Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar, assuming that both were trying to do the best they could to meet their needs and live according to their respective lights, we can learn a lot about the real vulnerabilities of men and women, about the conditions of close association that can create temptation over time, about misunderstandings and assumptions that make things worse, and even about the kind of drastic measures that might be taken to keep oneself safe.

We see that both Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar were vulnerable, and their close proximity over a long period of time put them in a pressure-cooker of temptation. 

Joseph would be tempted by the way Mrs. Potiphar respected him and the way she tried to make herself so sexually available. Mrs. Potiphar would be tempted by Joseph’s good looks, competence, caring, and attention.  The happy thing is that Joseph had the integrity to keep both himself and Mrs. Potiphar from sinning. And for all the awful injustice Mrs. Potiphar perpetrated upon Joseph, it’s possible she deserves at least a small bit of credit for having the guts to effect their final separation. (If she didn’t call for some sort of change, who would? Joseph couldn’t; he was a slave. Potiphar wouldn’t; he profited from Joseph’s management.)

It is possible that the Lord allowed Joseph to be tested this way as preparation for making him Pharaoh’s right hand man. That power as second-to-Pharah would have such great privileges and opportunities to indulge any kind of appetite that it could destroy anyone who wielded it unless they were committed to living a moral life. Joseph was undeniably faithful in management, but could he keep his integrity and purity even in a position of power, even in a foreign country, even if propositioned directly? 

Yes he could. He proved it in this refiner’s fire that was not of his choosing.

Lessons from Joseph for men:
·      Your exemplary service may be mistaken by women for secret love and admiration. (Serve well anyway. You only have control over yourself, not how people interpret your actions.)
·      When inappropriate interest arises in you, remind yourself of all the reasons you have to resist.  Remember the trust others have in you, and commit that you will never let them down. Give your love of God your highest allegiance.
·      If a married woman expresses blatant interest, give a firm “No” with all your reasons.
·      Guard yourself. Keep busy and keep people around you. Don’t be alone with that woman.
·      The measures you take to guard yourself may not be appreciated or even understood by that woman. If she is not as committed to purity as you, she may come to the point of deliberately trying to defeat your safety measures. You must be prepared to run. And dignity be hanged.
·      If you can do anything to move out of her range of influence, do so.

Lessons for women from Mrs. Potiphar’s mistakes:
·      If a man periodically in your service seems to be extra helpful, don’t jump to the conclusion that means he likes/loves you. (Today media is so sexualized that to avoid the assumption is counter-cultural, but it can be done. Hang on to humility, and don’t flatter yourself.)
·      Even if you get a pretty strong like/love vibe from that man, don’t say anything to him about it or do anything that might show you notice.
·      Don’t compare that man to your husband; it’s unfair. Chances are you’ll be comparing one man’s strengths with another man’s weaknesses.
·      Don’t seek out more opportunities to be with that man. 
·      Don’t create opportunities for physical or emotional closeness with him.
·      Don’t allow yourself to be alone with him.
·      If you can do anything fair to move out of his range of influence, do so.

Universally helpful principles:
Do not betray the trust others have put in you.
Love the Lord the most.


Sunday, September 18, 2016 0 comments

Alma 60: Captain Moroni’s letter to Pahoran may be less rash than we think


Captain Moroni’s letter to Pahoran is pretty well-known in the church for its blunt language and anger in which Captain Moroni demands to know why Pahoran hasn’t sent more troops or supplies to the Nephite army’s support. We’ve heard in general conference that Pahoran’s response is a model of self-restraint in the face of Captain Moroni’s accusations.

Recently I was reading through this letter again, and it struck me that Captain Moroni’s letter is also has certain marks of self-restraint as well.  Verse 6 shows us this—“we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state.”   Captain Moroni wants to know WHY this is happening, rather than rushing in with an army right off.

Also, he asks a number of questions starting with “do you suppose” or variants.

“could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you?” (v11)

“Do ye suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness?” (v12)

“we know not but what ye yourselves are seeking for authority.” (v18)

“We know not but what ye are also traitors to your country.” (v18)

“Or is it that ye have neglected us because ye are in the heart of our country and ye are surrounded by security, that ye do not cause food to be sent unto us, and also men to strengthen our armies?” (v19)

“Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” (v21)

“Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things?” (v23)

It looks like Captain Moroni is trying to think of all the reasons why Pahoran might withhold supplies and men. I have not quoted what comes afterward, but you can look yourself and see that he shows why these are not good reasons.  By doing this, he shows that he understands the inner obstacles that leaders face when they have to resolve on strenuous action to curb evil. Again, the fact that he asks for an explanation first before charging in with the army is evidence that he is not rash.

What this teaches me is that if I have to chastise someone as part of my responsibilities, it would be a very good thing if I spend some time thinking up a list of plausible good faith reasons why they might have done or omitted to do something. This helps me to understand them better and think up ways to help them overcome their internal hang-ups (because everyone has hang-ups someplace). Then, even if I am still wrong, as Captain Moroni was, at least they will know that I did the preliminary work of trying to understand and feel the difficulty of their situation.  People want to be understood.
Friday, September 16, 2016 0 comments

Be not ashamed, but be admonished

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Be not ashamed, neither confounded;
but be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride,
for it bringeth a snare upon your souls.
(D&C 90:17)

This verse is interesting to me because it shows that while the Lord does not want us to be proud, He also doesn’t want us to go off in the weeds the other direction and be ashamed or confounded. This implies to me that being ashamed and confounded are counterfeits of humility.

I like that it says, “be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride.” It is as though the Lord means for that rebuke to work for all time, or for us to work at humility.

Of course, I have found in my life that my pride doesn’t stay admonished for long. It takes every excuse it can to pop up again. I’ve had to learn to admonish myself, and I’m not as good at that as I could or should be.

Sometimes when I think I’m sitting pretty, I have to remind myself that Heavenly Father could change my life in an instant if He decided I needed some special difficulty.  I could be given a handicap. We could suffer financial reverses. We could have an unexpected disaster. In short, our stable life could be up-ended in a second. He might do it to humble me, or He might do it in order to stretch me in some new direction. In both instances, I would need to be prepared to accept His will. This reminds me that I am still dependent upon God.

Sometimes I have to admonish myself that God knows all the thoughts and intents of my heart. I can’t hide anything from Him. He sees through any posturing and parading and self-back-patting. He knows when my motives are selfish or when I’m gratifying my ego. So if I notice my interior life is amiss, I am just as in need of repenting as if I sinned in public.   Sometimes when I pray I find myself saying to Heavenly Father, “You see everything inside of me. Look at this obnoxious pride I have. Just look at it!” And I go on to describe the thing I happen to be extra proud of at the time. Weirdly enough, pointing it out to the Lord helps shrink it. I’m not sure why.

Also, for some reason, I find myself fantasizing about comparing myself to others and finding that I’m superior.  Which is ridiculous.  Because it is just as likely that I might be found inferior instead.  I’ve read studies that show we tend to overestimate our own performance. So consciously correcting my estimations of myself to take that into account is probably a good idea.

Another thing I use to admonish myself is to remember that everyone is the star of their own life, so to others I am just a bit player. I can co-star in my husband’s life, but not everyone is looking at me.  (I think social media tends to build that perception that everyone is looking at oneself.)

Another thing I know is that Satan loves to flatter me when I’m trying to instruct others in humility.  Any time I think I’ve got it figured out, I become vulnerable and start making mistakes.  I anticipate that after this post I will probably get hit with it, and if I don’t get into trouble with pride immediately, I will probably flatter myself that I do have this figured out and then get into trouble later. (Yes, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.)

One question I had about the above verse was “How does high-mindedness and pride bring a snare on our souls?”

Pride causes us to act in certain ways, to scorn and feel contempt, to contend, in short, into a number of hostile attitudes that lead us to sin in our interactions with others.

It can be compared to a snare in that it lures us with comfortable feelings of superiority, and then it is hard to get out of because so often we start to feel we are justified and comforted by it. 

But I’m sure you can immediately see that if we enjoy feeling justified and comforted by our pride, then we can’t be justified and comforted by the Spirit of the Lord.

Hmmm…that last statement feels very important so I think I will repeat it.

If we enjoy feeling justified and comforted by our pride, then we can’t be justified and comforted by the Spirit of the Lord.

Will you share some of the healthy ways that you admonish yourself when you notice you are getting proud?  We all need more ammunition to shoot it down!
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 0 comments

Flee or Prepare for War




And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; (Alma 48:15)

This faith the Nephites had about how God would bless them for keeping the commandments is interesting and applicable today. Prosperity implies peace, but the blessings during war are no less important. The Nephites believed that during war they would receive appropriate guidance about whether to flee or fight.

I started thinking about these war instructions—flee or prepare for war (fight).  Under what conditions are each of those applicable? 

Fleeing is appropriate when the opposition is too great and losses would be too severe if the home army gathered to fight.

Fighting is appropriate when the opposition can be beaten with a stiff resistance brought to bear.

And wouldn’t it be lovely to know ahead of time—prophetically—when to run or when to fight so you don’t end up fleeing when you might have won, or you don’t get slaughtered where you should have run if you’d only known?

Where have our prophets told us in effect to run?  One issue I can think of right off—tolerance.  Where have they told us to stand and resist?  Strengthening the family and standing for religious freedom. I personally feel that should give us some hope.

What other issues can you think of where the prophets told us to flee or to prepare for war?
Monday, September 12, 2016 0 comments

The Pride of Ephraim and an Economic Lesson about Trust


1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:
4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.
5 ¶In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,
6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate. (Isaiah 28:1-6)

Reading verses 1-4, it is pretty clear to me that Isaiah must have been disgusted with the pride of Ephraim in his day. It seems the land of Ephraim was a beautiful land with beautiful people—“glorious beauty on the head of the fat valleys”—so much so that they were drunk with it. And you get the idea that they had a problem with wine and drunkenness as well.

Isaiah warned them that the Lord could humble them with disaster—hail, storm, flood—which would throw down their pride. He also said that their glorious beauty would fade like a withering lower and like the first-ripe fruit that is eaten immediately.

The way Isaiah calls Ephraim “fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine” makes me wonder what he was seeing.  What makes a valley “fat”?  And why call Ephraim drunkards at the same time he credits them with glorious beauty? Is he calling attention to how drunkenness is unattractive, or is there something deeper going on here?    

Reading this over and over, I wondered if there was a growing problem in Ephraim’s economy that Isaiah was very concerned about and calling attention to.  It is possible that the land of Ephraim was full of vineyards for wine. 

Isaiah may have looked at all those vineyards and wondered, “Who is going to drink all that wine that they make?”  If the place is booming with grapes, then the demand has to come from somewhere to absorb the supply, otherwise some of that supply was foolishly produced.  Isaiah must have reasoned that either Ephraim was drinking it all themselves (in which case they were drunkards), or they were going to try to sell it elsewhere, which meant that the people were chasing high profits, and everyone was piling into the business.  And you can kind of see there is a problem if there is only one crop in an area. The whole place depended upon the crop of grapes. If natural disaster hits and destroyed the crop, everyone there would be affected. 

In verses 5-6, Isaiah anticipates a future day when the people would depend on the Lord instead.

5 ¶In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,
6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.

Isaiah anticipated that some day, instead of pride, the people would be humble and give the Lord the glory for their success, instead of whatever cash crop made the money roll in.  He wanted the people to trust the Lord instead of their vineyards that were at the mercy of weather patterns that could be capricious and occasionally devastating.

It is instructive to see that ancient Israel seems to have had boom-and-bust periods somewhat like we do, when people would pile into a high-yielding industry.  Embedded in Isaiah’s warning to the Ephraimites is the implied principle that high-yielding industries can be destroyed and can’t be depended upon, but the Lord can be depended upon.
Saturday, September 10, 2016 0 comments

Education Week Class Notes: Martin Harris, Seer Stones, Joseph Smith's Presidential Campaign, and Apostolic Call Stories

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Here we have a mix of classes about various aspects of Church History. I hope you'll find this info as fascinating as I did!

Martin Harris: More than A lost Manuscript: Entrepreneur to Witness (by Susan Easton Black)
BYU Studies presentation: A journal subscription that publishes books. Working on a book on Martin Harris.  It’s like Education Week in a journal.

How she got into this project:
15 years ago at a donor’s meeting, She wanted to find the 116 lost pages and a philanthropist decided to throw money behind that.  If she didn’t find it, she decided to do a biography on Martin Harris.
She used looked for voyage and ocean and Lehi as search terms to try find things that might have stuff on the 116 lost pages.  Found a journal by a guy from Utah who took a ship across the ocean. Doh!

Martin didn’t write journal, life story, memoirs, but the biography is 500 pages.
This class is on his life as Entrepreneur to the time he was a Book of Mormon scribe.

His family was from England.  There were six men named Thomas Harris that came to America.
He was a non-conformist, thought about religion, but didn’t want church-state leadership in one man.  Arrived before 1638.
Settled in Prvoidence, Rhode Island.. 
Another person there was Roger Williams whose descendent is Jeffrey Holland. 
Another descendant of Thomas Harris is Dallin H .Oaks.

The Harrises supported themselves with quarries.  Harris Quarries in Rhode Island, which was a financial success.
They associated with Quakers, Ann Hutchinson.
Quakers – no paid ministry, no college, sex-segrated rooms, had worship service with set start and end times.  Everyone sat quiet until someone was inspired to speak.

Nathan Harris moves to New York. City. Martin Harris born 1783 in Easton, New York.
Nathan Harris was adventurous and moves a lot. Looking for fortune.
He goes to Swift’s Landing in New York, which became Palmyra, New York.
He buys 600 acres (he’s not poor). Bought at 50 cents/acre.
Nathan Harris’s nicknames: “The Nimrod” “Trout Harris”  He likes hunting and fishing.  He built a pond on his property and kept a pet trout.  The trout bit a neighbor’s nose when Nathan told him to put his face in the water.

Martin’s Youth.
Involved on father’s farm, shoe ship, tannery.  Did not go to school with other kids.
Quarker meetings as early as 1790 in private homes. Martin went to these.

Nathan Harris and civic duties – pathmaster (kept paths clear for wagons from brush), constable, tax collector.
Nathan turned farm management to oldest son Emer Harris.

Martin age 25, manages farm and business affairs.
He was good at it and succeeded.  He was an eligible bachelor because of this.
Lucy Harris age 16, (his cousin) catches his eye. He marries his uncle’s daughter. 
Married March 27, 1808 in a Quaker wedding. 
Quaker marriage tradition: When the man takes the woman’s hand and the woman doesn’t pull it back, then they are married.

Martin and Lucy choose to stay in Palmyra.  In 1808 there were 2600 people there.   Proposed Erie canal.
Martin opened a shop not on Main street, but continues managing the farm.
He registers a mark for domestic animals. 
He’s elected as a town officer, overseeing highways and fences in 1811.  Each fence pole has to be at least five feet tall.
He pieces together a 150 acre farm.  Future looks bright.

War of 1812.  At this time, “None more promising” than Martin Harris.  The war destroys everything.
John Swift gathers able-bodied men 18-45 aged, and Martin Harris doesn’t want to go to war.  He hires a substitute to fight for three months.  He served 9 days in the war in person. 
Later he learned veterans got bounty-land, so he tries to get land, but substitutes didn’t count.  Government says 9 days in-person service is not enough, but 14 days would have been fine.

In 1816, Martin is a gentleman and a farmer of respectability.
Joseph Smith Sr. Family comes to Palmyra.  The Smiths set up a cake and beer shop.
All the Smith children could do a good day’s work for anyone, and people knew it.
Harris hired Joseph Smith Jr. and Joseph was a good worker.

In 1818 the Smith’s contract for a farm 3-miles from Harris’s farm.
Religious revivals in 1818. (Quaker, Universalist, Restorationist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal)  Circuit riders try to convert the unchurched.
Martin Harris was hugely interested in the revivals.
He knows the Bible well.  He shops for a religion. He leaves Quakers and goes to all the churches.
In 1818 at age 35, Martin says he is an un-churched Christian by divine manifestation. (He had some sort of spiritual experience that gave him revelation.) In it, he learned the Lord’s church is not upon the earth, and the trinity definition is problematic.  He decides to wait.

Martin is a proponent of home industry. He becomes a weaver.
He’s part of the Ontario County Agricultural Society.   He’s a judge for small animals.
He was vitally interested in Erie Canal (wants to get it 1 mile from his house), Greek Christian Revelation (finances the Greeks to save them from the Turks), he has views of banks (pro-specie) , anti-Masonic.

Martin decides to hire more Smith family as workers.  He hires Joseph Smith Sr. and Hyrum. They tell him about Joseph visits from angel Moroni.
Suddenly other things don’t seem to matter as much as this. 

In 1827 after 17 years of marriage, Lucy suddenly gets worried about finances.
She wants property and a house (but not the house that has just been built). 
Property is deeded to her brother, who deeds it to her.   Lucy now has a “private purse” so she’s not accountable to her husband for how she spends the money, which was rare at that time.
But Martin and Lucy’s marriage is not going well.

In October 1827.  Joseph gets the plates from Moroni.
Martin doesn’t learn it until October.
Lucy Mack Smith sent to Martin’s house, doesn’t like his wife.  Lucy Smith tells Martin, “Joseph wants to tell you what’s happened”
Once Martin knows, he says, “Hire a hand to work a year for me; I shall travel”  This statement tells us his marriage is bad, and he’s also prosperous.
Lucy Harris learns something about the plates in a dream, and gives $28 for the translation.  (The first money given to help for the translation.)
Martin gets to pick up the box the plates are kept and knows the Smiths aren’t rich enough to them to afford. The Spirit testifies to him.
He helps them keep the plates safe.

Martin becomes Joseph’s financial back-up. He helps Joseph pay his debts before he leaves town.
No one else in the early days helped as much as Martin Harris.
Martin journeys to Harmony, but doesn’t tell his wife. Marital strife.
Martin takes copies of the characters to Dr. Samuel Mitchell and Charles Anthon.
Martin and Lucy visit Joseph in Harmony.
Martin scribes for Joseph.  Martin knows his wife’s feelings, thinks he has to take the pages to show his wife.  Three requests and a final yes.  Martin promised to show only to five people related to Martin.
He takes 116 pages to Palmyra June 14, 1828. Made a covenant to follow the conditions.  Had pages for three weeks.

Joseph goes to Palmyra.  Has Hyrum to tell Martin to bring the manuscript. Martin can’t find the manuscript.  Martin is slow to come inside, sitting on the fence.
Martin says “I’ve lost my soul!”   “Have you lost the manuscript?”  “You’ve lost your soul and mine as well” 
These were the darkest days in Joseph’s life.  Not Liberty or Carthage jail. Black as night, heavens were closed.  Joseph knew he was no longer called and chosen because of disobedience.
They try to look in Martin’s house, confront Lucy.  Martin thought Lucy did it. She makes a separate bedroom from Martin. Years later, she says the manuscript was burned. Others say it was stolen. The Lord says it was changed.

The Lord needed a rich man to financially back the restoration process. 
Martin Harris became an object of charity at the end of his life.
He had difficult family relationships and had to give them up because of Joseph Smith.

The Best of BYU Studies: Seer Stones and Traditional Religious Practices in the Light of Folklore Studies and Biblical Scholarship (by Eric A. Eliason)
(Image of the chocolate-colored seer stone with striations.)
The released image of the seer stone caused a stir and didn’t fit the narrative we’re familiar with.
It is likely the stone he used a lot of the time when Joseph Smith translated. He possibly used a white one too.  The brown one has the best provenance we know of.  The white one isn’t quite as certain.

Folklorists haven’t looked at early Mormon folk magic before.
Bottom line --- “Frontier folk magic” is actually Biblically-based traditions in keeping with Joseph Smith’s claim to be a prophet.

Caution: When we step into the past, it is we who are out of place. We have to get to know the past on its own terms. 
“Folk magic”
Mark Hofmann and the Salamander Letter forgery.  Tried to recast the BofM as a salamander-given object. When people got wise, he started bombing and murdering people.

LDS historians help their field see that “folk magic” was common practice in America.
Professional folklorists saw no big deal and mostly did not engage.
Folklore is meaningful artistic expression passed on mouth-to-mouth within specific cultural groups. (Examples: stories, traditions, customs, beliefs, practices, songs, and dances.)
Mormons are a big part of folklore disciplines; only in religious disciples are they bigger.
Other folklore forms: pre-birth experience narratives, conversion stories, form and content of priesthood blessings, promptings, among our most sacred and cherished experiences.
(Still the Small Voice, Tom Mould, written by a “dry Mormon”, stories of promptings.)
Folklore is often validated by science. (Ex: Ethnobotany example, spiritual practices too?)
Scientists research plants that indigenous peoples have used for long periods.
Just because it is folklore, doesn’t mean it’s NOT true.
Folklore is defined by means of transmission, not truth value.  Transmitted face-to-face rather than through authority structures.
LDS folklorists never got involved in discussions because they never saw them as a threat.

Seer Stones, Urim and Thummim and translation. 
Art depictions are not always accurate, but only a general idea.
--Joseph didn’t look at the plates while he translated.
--Oliver never saw the plates until he was one of the witnesses.
--Joseph usually looked at the seer stone in a hat.  This can seem silly, but words of light appearing on a dark stone is cool.
We have a changing understanding.
See the Church’s article on Book of Mormon translation.  http:://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng

Properly understood, Urim and Thummim are fairly interchangeable terms with seer stones.
Both refer to items used by the prophet to gain information from the Lord.

Uses of seer stones and peep stones in 1800s in America:
--Lost object finding
--Well-digging dowsing, water-diving, or water-witching
--Treasure seeking
--Direction-finding (like a compass or Liahona)
--Religious insight
--Discovering cheating spouses (private eye work)
--Finding thieves (police work)
This indicates practices of Joseph Smith and his associates. This is all about finding the truth.
This is like praying, singing hymns, reading the Bible; lots of Americans did these things—not just Mormons—and they saw it as religion and legitimate.

To us, to call it “folk magic” is to project our ideas onto the past.
Where they a bunch of pagan magicians? Not really.

The seer stone is a reference to the Bible.
1 Sam. 9:9 tells us a seer is an earlier term for a prophet, one who saw visions, dreams, or scenes in the mind’s eye, or even with the natural eyes.
God gives the seer insight into the meaning of his or her visions. (2 Sam. 24:11)
God speaks through objects in the Bible
Urim and Thummim, the ephod, and lots were all physical objects used to find God’s will.
We’re not sure how they worked. It might seem like dice or games of chance.
They saw these things as a legitimate way for God to reveal himself.
No such thing as coincidence
Seer stones fit the Bible tradition.

Casting lots to discover new apostle (Acts 1:24-26)
Non-Israelites casting lots to discover who has caused this storm? (Jonah 1:7-8)
Describing and using the ephod or Urim and Thummim to determine what God wants (Ex. 28:4, 29:5, Lev. 8:7, Judg. 8:26-27, 17:5, 1 Sam. 21:9, 2 Sam. 6:14, Ex. 28:30, Lev. 8:8, Deut. 33:8, 1 Sam. 28:6, Hosea 3:4, Ezra 2:63, Neh. 7:65)

Seer stones and other divining practices can be seen as evidences of the restoration of Biblical practices, not paganism.

Scriptural understandings of Magic
Joseph in Egypt had a divining cup, but Saul visited the witch of Endor to conjure Samuel
Pharaoh’s magicians turned their sticks to snakes like Moses.
Magic-versus-religion is not represented in ancient New Easter literatures.
Magic was not illegal or worrisome, but the authorization for doing it was the thing at issue.
It is not the form but its authorization that determines its legitimacy.

Joseph Smith and his family themselves showed unease with earlier practices at the same time they persisted in using them.
His detractors accused him of occult practices at the same time they used them themselves. (Ex: Doctor Philastus Hurlburt. His name Doctor had nothing to do with his credentials, it was his actual name. He was thought to be Doctor because he was a seventh son and thought to have special abilities.)
David Whitmer left Mormonism in part over Joseph’s moving away from practices we’d see as unusual today.

Divining in the D&C 
Oliver Cowdery could use a rod as a divining or dowsing tool.  (D&C 7)
The Lord recognized his ability. In early versions of the D&C it is called “the sprout” instead of “gift of Aaron”
(People think “gift of Aaron” means an Aaronic side-kick gift, but it’s not.)

What about now? 
There are still people who use dowsing. 
Eliason has some students from the country who see people using divining rods and are annoyed that people think it is weird. At least one student in each of his classes every semester. One had a bishop who doused for a Mutual activity.
Sarajevo had a resurgence of dowsing when water supplies were blown up. They needed the dousers.

We have a tendency to think, “If I’m not familiar with it, it must be weird.”
Magic is a virtually useless term.
Scholars tried to define magic, but definitions usually come down to “What other people do is magic. What me and the people I know do is science or true religion.”
Examples: “Put on a jacket or you’ll catch a cold” (No evidence for this saying.)
Eliason didn’t give many examples, because he knows people will object when they find their closely loved practices are considered magic.

Concluding Summary:
Folklore is often religiously and scientifically true.
Seer stones and Urim and Thummim are fairly similar terms.
19th folk magic was deeply rooted in the Bible.
Joseph’s practices can be seen as evidence for, not against prophecy.
Magic is not just some old thing but still with us
Magic is a relative concept, not intrinsic.


Joseph Smith: Candidate for US President (by Susan Easton Black)
United States in 1844 consisted of 26 states.
Parties were Democrat and Whig
Democrats had a majority of states.

National Issues
Issue: Manifest destiny.  Should America take over beyond the Mississippi and go from Atlantic to Pacific?
Many considered US as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands and fill the whole earth.
Issue: Annex Texas or not?  Texas was owned by Mexico.
Issue: Slavery.  It wasn’t decided until 1860s. Talk centered about States rights and whether they could choose whether to be slave states or not.
Issue: Mormonism.  (Became a hot-button issue in the 1850s) 

Presidential hopefuls were Martin Van Buren and John C. Calhoun
Martin Van Buran had been president, but wanted to be president again.  Joseph Smith could not get redress for Mormons. Van Buren said the cause was just but could do nothing for them.
Calhoun was a southerner and a states rights advocate.

Lewis Case and Richard Johnson were candidates, had served as vice presidents under Van Buren

Candidates Henry Clay and James K. Polk.  Clay county Mormons lived in was named after him.
Polk was strong manifest destiny and won in 1844.

At the time of this election, Illinois was a swing state. Illinois votes would name the next president.

The vote of Joseph Smith
By 1843 he is mayor of one of the largest towns in Illinois and concerned about who to vote for.  Only men could vote.  The prophet would announce who to vote for.
Joseph announced he could command 20,000 votes.  Joseph believes he can name and vote for the next president.

Joseph Smith wrote to each candidate and asked what they would do to get the Mormons their lands back in Jackson County Missouri.  By this time they’d been gone for a decade.
Some candidates did not take the time to write back.
Henry Clay and Calhoun wrote back. 
Clay (Whig) they say it is an issue to consider but won’t make a decision until after the election. (Committing to something definite would lose the vote of either Missouri or Illinois.)

By Jan 1844 Joseph feels he has given the candidates enough time to reply.  He calls his first nation-wide political meeting in the red brick store.  (Everything was painted red inside)
The bottom floor was the store, the upstairs was sacred space, translating room, forming the relief society, and other things.
No women were invited to the meeting.
Present: Pratts, Woodruff, Young, William Smith.  All members of the 12 and presiding bishop. This was his think-tank.

Joseph Smith asks, “What do we do with our vote in 1844?” 
Neither party would do anything for them.
Some said, “We shouldn’t vote.” Other’s argued not voting doesn’t show patriotism.
They decide to put up a dark horse candidate who would help them get their lands back.
Willard Richards. A junior member of the quorum. He decides to “throw his vote away” on “General Joseph Smith.”  Everyone agrees excitedly.
Parades were the social activity. Parade through Nauvoo!!  General Joseph Smith for president!

Who to choose for vice president candidate?
Considered were:
--James Arlington Bennett of New York (nonmember who ran New York Sun)
--Colonel Solomon Copeland (man in Tennessee) 
Each of these men said in response to request, “NEVER associate my name with yours!”

They choose Sidney Rigdon for vice president.  He was in 1st presidency, but moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was attending the Baptist church (!) 
Church had voted to retain Sidney in the first presidency, but Joseph didn’t want him there. But he’d want him in political matters.

Platform for the “Reform Party” 
A non-party president who would:
--Restore the lands of inheritance to Latter-day-Saints in Jackson County.
--Reduce Congress’s pay and size  ($2/day) A farmer makes about the same amount. But a farmer is honest.
--Expand the United States into northern hemisphere Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America.  Joseph called it all Zion.  He wanted to pull in South America in his second term.
--Eliminate slavery with compensation from land sales.  (Platform mostly written by W.W. Phelps.)  Give the slaves an opportunity to either stay or go back to Africa at government expense.
--Standardized monetary System.  Remember, in 1837 there was a nation-wide run on the banks that caused national depression.  This caused Kirtland Safety Society to fail.  The nation was so leery of banks.  There was no bank in Nauvoo. Banks had individual printed money and you didn’t know if they had species to back it.  (Joseph’s idea was compelling.)
--Jail reform.  70,000 men in debtor’s prison at that time.  Jails needed to be places for men to learn to contribute to society.

Joseph’s campaign from January to March was nowhere. 
There were no political missionaries.

Council of 50 in March 1844. 
Started with a revelation which isn’t in D&C. 
Council of 50 had political ramifications.
Had 12 apostles and non-members, high-ranking members. 
Some got carried away with it.
They looked forward to when Christ would reign as king of kings and speculated about what countries they’d like to reign once Christ came.

Brigham Young suggests Joseph Smith call political missionaries.
Ask for volunteers in March. Thousands wanted to be part of it.  Every apostle volunteered. 
Pratt and Hyde were in Washington as political missionaries in June 1844.  Young and Woodruff were in Boston area as political missionaries in June 1844.  William Smith in Michigan as political missionary.  Parley Pratt in Illinois.
John Taylor and Willard Richards were not allowed to go. Richards was Smith’s personal secretary.  Taylor was the journalist who published the history of the church.  They ended up with Joseph in Carthage.

How successful were the political missionaries?
They held conventions and rallies wherever they went. Their platform was very popular. They had a newspaper clip-out to let Joseph know how they were doing.
Joseph remained in the Mansion House (the name of his house) and gets the newspaper clip-outs that pour in.
 Joseph Smith begins to say, “I’m popular” (incredulously) as he gets the clip-outs. 
Then he worried he was going to win.
Then,  “I think I’m going to win on the first electoral ballot!”  (realization)
Clip-outs were printed in the Nauvoo paper.
 
When Joseph becomes popular not everyone is thrilled.
William Law was in first presidency and he was called to repentance. He rebelled and was concerned about Joseph as president.  He forms a group of conspirators to stop it.  Joseph has bodyguards now.
Law and conspirators decide to counteract the newspaper articles and start the Nauvoo Expositor. They want to expose Joseph for who they believe him to be. They say bad things. Newspaper destroyed.  This leads to Joseph’s death.

Joseph killed at 38 years old. Hyrum killed at 44 years old. 
Joseph was a shot political candidate.  The next man shot while running for president was Robert F. Kennedy.

How did the election turn out?
Illinois voted democrat. LDS voted for Polk. 
Polk won the election.  Alamo started as he entered office.  He was the expansionist.
He wants Manifest Destiny. By the time he finished we were shore-to-shore.
Mormon Battalion helped with expansionist stuff. Made it to California.

Things to think about.
Joseph Smith concluded he had to run because the current candidates wouldn’t do things for the church.
Joseph Smith was a great prophet.


The First 100 Apostles: Apostolic Succession to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
The Prophet Joseph Smith to Brigham Young (1829-1844) (by Kevin l. Tolley)
Part 1: Joseph Smith to Brigham Young

How apostles came in and how the left the Quorum of the Twelve
Towards the end, how they leave becomes less exciting.

First four apostles: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris
First charismatic apostles and special witnesses of this dispensation

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were arrested for disturbing the peace, they left the trial. They ran through the night, Oliver Cowdery collapsed, Joseph picked him up and kept running. They are wet and covered with mud. Finally after Joseph collapses and asks, “How long must we endure this?” Peter, James, and John then appeared and ordained them to the Mechizedek priesthood.
After the ordination, they had renewed strength and Oliver stopped complaining.  They were the first two elders of the church. 

No mention of authentic ordination date for Martin Harris. We don’t know when David Whitmer was ordained. 
D&C 18 told the 3 witnesses they had to find the Quorum of the Twelve members.
Joseph was directed to choose twelve apostles who must believe in the supernatural. He would know the proper persons as soon as he saw them.  So Joseph knew who the Twelve would be as soon as he met them, and he had to sit on that info and the three witnesses had to find them.
At this time there is no First Presidency until 1832.

In 1832, January, Joseph sustained as President of the high priesthood.  (President of just the priesthood) (Also he’s President of the Church)
Jesse Gauss and Sidney Ridgon were in the first presidency.

Then there are lots of things in the Sidney Ridgon’s life. Mobbed and dragged by a horse.  He had seizures. During travel to Missouri, he almost drowned.  Rigdon got in an argument with Phelps and then preached afterward (was clearly devilishly influenced, saying the church was rejected)  As a result, Joseph demanded Rigdon’s ministerial certificate and tore it up.
It took him three weeks to repent, then he came back and apologizes and Joseph brought him back into the First Presidency.

Jesse Gauss.
He went on a mission to the Shakers. (He had been a Shaker).
He was concerned about his wife who was still a Shaker. He failed.
His missionary companion was Zebedee Coltrin, who had bad migraines and sickness and wanted to go home and did so for medical reasons. 
Jesse disappeared completely.  Then he was excommunicated by Joseph Smith.
In D&C 81, they crossed out Jesse Gauss’s name and put in Fredrick G. Williams, who gets Jesse’s blessings. 

Joseph loved Frederick G. Williams, named one of his sons after him.
Assistant to the presidency is made Oliver Cowdery.  Only him and Hyrum Smith had this co-presidency office.

1835 Feb 14th. A reunion of Zion’s Camp.  Quorum of the Twelve must be organized. Joseph tells the three witnesses to go find them.  They choose Lyman Johnson, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball.  Joseph Smith agreed with all their choices. But the others were not there. Only three of the 12 showed up to the meeting. 
Six more apostles called the next day.
William Smith was the little brother of the prophet. 
The witnesses found more of the Twelve in another meeting later.
Lyman Johnson was the youngest of the group (23?) Later, the 12 would be organized by age. Before this, they would take turns being in charge of meetings.

In 1835, Thomas B. Marsh was the President of the Twelve in a document.

They do some weird things at the beginning.
How the Quorum of Twelve functions isn’t in the Bible, so they have to develop it.

Oct 1835. William Smith makes rude comments in a meeting run by Joseph Smith. Joseph told him he was out of place, he refused.
William was enraged, wouldn’t sit down unless he was knocked down.
Joseph left to calm down.
William was yelling out in the street how incompetent Joseph was.
Joseph and Hyrum talk to William in private.
Next day William was scripture studying with members and it turned into an argument. 
William attacks Joseph and beats him up while Joseph was getting his coat off. 
This beating happens in Nov. In Dec, someone suggests ex-ing William for un-Christianlike conduct and beating the prophet. 
Jan 2nd, William apologizes, saying he fought as a brother instead of as an apostle.
Joseph forgave him, brought him back in the twelve.

Over the next year, Kirtland Safety Society debacle happened.  Joseph wasn’t good at finances. Then there is lots of turmoil financially driven. 
Martin Harris, Johnson brothers, and Boynton come into the Kirtland temple armed, took podiums at the back. They were determined to take the temple over to get their money back, and they threatened to kill anyone who left.  Two men climbed out the window and got some people to help.
The rebels were excommunicated, they apologized, then they were allowed back in the Twelve.

Martin Harris left the church over other reasons. He thought the church left him and he lost confidence in Joseph. 

Joseph Smith put his father, Joseph Smith Sr., in the first presidency, his uncle, and his brother Hyrum too around this time to show them he cared about them.

Joseph attempted to take a personal loan from the anti-bank.  They made their own rules.
Joseph asked Frederick G. Williams for money and Williams refused on the grounds it wasn’t fiscally sound..
Joseph threatened to break him from his office if he didn’t give him the money. Williams said, “Break me from my office.”
After Joseph came back the next day, he wept like a baby and apologized. But word got out about Williams, so members didn’t sustain Williams for disobeying Joseph. 
So Williams left office because the people wouldn’t sustain him.
Hyrum Smith took his place.

Luke Johnson and Boynton lost confidence over financial matters.
Boynton was instrumental in inventing the torpedo.
Luke Johnson later returned to the church. Became a bishop in Utah.

1838 was a time of apostasy. Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated for not attending church, for practicing law, and some other incidents. He accused Joseph of adultery. Joseph never denied it, but told him not to talk about things he didn’t know anything about.

David Whitmer began speaking against the prophet.
Rigdon gave his salt sermon, Danites threatening apostates. 

William McClellan lost confidence over financial matters. 
He wanted to recoup losses, stole some of Joseph’s stuff for it. Told the sheriff to beat Joseph while he was imprisoned, but sheriff agreed to let McClellan fight Joseph.  McClellan wanted to do it with a club. Joseph was okay with that, but then McClellan didn’t want to do it after all.

John E. Page, John Taylor, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff.  Underlined in D&C 118. Called.
Wilford Woodruff jumped in line in front of John Taylor because of age. Brigham Young switched the order back later.

George A Smith had a crazy wig he wore.

April 1839. Revelation for the Quorum to leave on their missions from the temple lot on a specific date. They snuck in the night the night before and had the meeting.

Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde became disaffected and signed affidavits that brought about the Boggs Extermination Order.

Concerning the milk strippings story. There were other reprimands of Thomas B. Marsh at that time. He feels Joseph is handling the situation badly. He feels threatened by the Danites and he insists Joseph is incompetent and dangerous.

David Patten was the first martyr.
Thomas Marsh talked to someone and Orson Hyde saw him talking to someone—David Patten, who was dead at the time. Patten’s spirit told Marsh, “How soon you have forgotten our covenant that we would never leave the church.”
Marsh returned to the church after his wife died. Young required Marsh to apologize in general conference.

Orson Hyde returns under Joseph Smith, sneaking back into Nauvoo. He was distraught. Joseph ran out of the house to forgive him immediately. The Lord had showed Joseph Orson was coming and he couldn’t wait any longer.

Willard Richards ordained to the Twelve in England.
Lyman Wight was in Liberty Jail
John C. Bennett started “spiritual wifery” to seduce women.  He seduced Orson Pratt’s wife while Orson was on a mission. Orson lost confidence in Joseph for a time, thinking Joseph had authorized that (but he hadn’t).

Amasa Lyman called to Twelve.

Sidney Rigdon is asked to leave, but he doesn’t.

The First 100 Apostles: Apostolic Succession to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Brigham Young to Lorenzo Snow (1844-1901) (by Kevin l. Tolley)
In 1844 William Law was excommicated.
William  and Lucy Law wanted to be sealed, but Joseph did not seal them together.  Lucy invited Joseph into her house, but tried to trap him and demanded he seal her to him (Joseph).  Joseph escaped out a window. William tried to seduce a 14-year-old girl.
William Law was never part of the Twelve, just part of the First Presidency. (Odd)
June 1844, Joseph and Hyrum are martyred, while dissolved 1st pres.

Sidney had been ordained prophet, seer, and revelator, but was never ordained part of the Twelve.
Sidney was in Pittsburg. He has two major turning points in life 1) mobbing in  Kirtland. 2) Liberty Jail in Missouri and was let out of jail. He said  Jesus had not suffered as much as he (Sidney) had.
He was always sick, not very active.

Amasa Lyman was put in the Twelve for a while.

Brigham came back to Nauvoo fast.  As soon as Joseph was gone, Brigham became much more forceful. 
Brigham tried to talk to Sidney, but Sidney kept dodging him. Sidney holds a meeting with 1000s; he suggests there should be no more president of church and he should be the guardian of the church.
Brigham preached and his countenance looked and sounded like Joseph.  Brigham preached apostolic keys.
Most sustain Brigham, but there were other groups competing.
Sidney later excommunicated.

Joseph had wanted to release Sidney, but no one wanted to sustain that.
Sidney didn't know about all the endowment.
Sidney prophesied the Nauvoo temple would never be completed, so the Saints completed it to show he was wrong.

W.W. Phellps said William Smith was the only remaining Smith as Patriarch to the church. William thinks he's now in charge. Then Phelps re-tracts and says William is the "Patriarch for the church".

D&C 107 has things that suggests the Twelve should be in charge.
John C. Page loses confidence in Brigham Young. John Page was nicknamed the Sundial. But once Joseph was gone, he didn’t seem to know which end was up anymore.
He left and joined the Strangites.

Jame Strang. (not an apostle at all)
He and his Strangite followers went up to Wisconsin and thrived for a while, but then his church  killled James Strang because they found out his lover was dressed as a  man.

1846 July, Ezra T. Benson is called in and fills vacancy.

Brigham asked W.W. Phelps if it was time to organize first presidency. "It would take a  revelation"  There is no record of a specific revelation.
1847 Brigham  reorganizes First Pres. in Iowa-- Brham Young, Heber Kimball, Willard Richards.

Lyman Wight excommunicated.
Lyman went to Texas because of a prophecy by Joseph and wouldn't follow Young to Utah.

Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards.
Willard Richards was the first apostle to die of natural causes.
Replaced by Jedediah M. Grant. (father of Heber J. Grant)

Big revival in Utah. Church leaders worried the Saints were getting soft. They encouraged the Saints to get rebaptized, live the Word of Wisdom.

Polygamy  resurged.
More Wives Than One, a book about polygamy. 
Men were in it for life, but women could get divorced if they wanted.

Brigham ordained three of his sons apostles. One of them never came into the Twelve.

Jedediah  M. Grant died at 40.
Died and was revived through priesthood blessing three different times in the space of a few days. Each time he came back, he taught Heber J. Grant about the spirit world.
At Jedidiah  Grant's funeral, Heber J Grant describes all the things Jededah taught  him about the spiritual world (Evidently this sermon is in the Journal of Discourses)

Patriarch gave Heber J Grant a blessing as an infant.

Daniel H. Wells was an apostle, but was never in the Quorum of the Twelve. (!!)

Parley P. Pratt & Eleanor McClean.
Eleanor’s husband would disappear for years and reappear, then disappear again. She met and married PPP while her husband was gone at length. Hector McClean hunted PPP down in Arkansas,  knocked him off horse, stabbed him twice.
8 bullet holes in PPP. Parley  was still alive. Shot again. Parley was still alive. Eventually he died.
George Q. Cannon fills the vacancy.

1861. John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff are switched in order. Brigham Young changed the order in general conference and declares it should be in order of ordination, not age.

Brigham Young Jr. ordained an apostle, but not a member of the Twelve.

Joseph F. Smith.
He was called on a mission at 16 because he punched a school teacher.
Joseph F. Smith had a book of different pictures of men’s facial hair styles and liked to try them out.
He is ordained an apostle.1866. He's made a counselor in the First Presidency.

Amaza Lyman is excommunicated in 1867 because of three sermons he gave in which he said you could make it to heaven without the atonement.
He got involved  with the Godbeites.  His son and grandson were called to the Twelve and stayed faithful.
In 1908 after his death the First Pres gave permission to for him to be re-baptized by proxy. His whole family stayed active.
Joseph F. Smith fills vacancy.

Heber  C. Kimball had a paralyzing wagon accident.
Angel Moroni came in a dream and told him his work was done and would return to bring him home.  He died in a week.

George A. Smith and his wig and false teeth.  When he pulled off his wig and false teeth one day, this startled an Indian.

Brigham Young Jr. jumps Joseph F Smith in seniority.

In 1868 the Quorums are all together for the first time.
The order of Brigham Young Jr. and Joseph F. Smith is flip-flopped again.

Albert Carrington brought in when Ezra T. Benson dies.
Brigham Young got 6 counselors.

Orson Hyde is removed seniority. Orson Pratt is removed seniority when they repent.
John W. Young becomes counselor 
[Sorry this part is a bit garbled]

Brigham Young passes away 1877.
Dies in the Lion House. His final words were, "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph."

First Presidency is not reorganized quickly.
Orson Hyde passed away and three different people write that heavenly choirs passed over the house as he died and they could hear individual  voices.

Moses Thatcher called to 12. He presides over church in Mexico.

Francis M. Lyman and John H. Smith called to 12.
Geroge Teasdale and Heber J Grant called to the 12.  Was 23 when called to be stake president of Toelle stake.

Heber J. Grant thought he would be called to mission and wasn't. He had to defy the devil verbally when devil told him the patriarch lied in the blessing he was given.

George Teasdale had an impression he would be called to the Twelve. Then he wasn’t called when he thought he would be. This caused him to feel he had been deceived, and he prayed hard for forgiveness for vanity and pride.
Then later he was called.

John Taylor didn't want to call his son because he thought it looked like nepotism.

Albert Carrington was excommuicated for adultery that happened over 12 years in England.
Afterward  he suffered a stroke and tried to repent over the rest of his life. 
Each six months afterward the 12 had a meeting to decide whether he could be re-baptized.

John Taylor passed away in hiding. He was a double-martyr because of Carthage and because of anti-polygamy stuff.

1889, first presidency reorganized.
Marriner W. Merrill, Abraham H Cannon, Anthon H. Lund called.
Merrill served as a bunch of offices at the same time.
Matthias F. Cowley called, Abraham Woodruff called
When brethren's health was bad, they would go to California and sit on the beach for a while.

Wilford Woodruff died in San Francisco.
Lorenzo Snow had Christ appear to him in the hallway of the church telling him to re-organize the first presidency immediately. No more long gaps between presidencies since then.  Gaps no longer than three days now.

Rudger Clawson called to the 12.
He was a missionary in Georgia. His companion was killed by a mob. Rudger defied the mob to shoot him. Joseph Standing, his companion, was shot in the face 23 times.
Rudger called into the First Pres. in 1901. He spent the shortest time in the presidency—5 days.

Reed Smoot was senator 30 years while being an apostles. He was prevented from voting. until they got to like  him.
They wanted him to be President of the United States if he would just stop being an apostle or Mormon, but he said he would rather be a deacon  in the church than be President of the US. [I’m curious about the source for this story.]


The First 100 Apostles: Apostolic Succession to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 
Joseph F. Smith to George Albert Smith (1901-1951)(by Kevin l. Tolley)
This is a dark period of history because not many people study it.1900-1950

Lorenzo Snow died, his counselors were released
Joseph F Smith is president. John R. Winder is a counselor. He’s not a 12, not an apostle. Just a high priest.

Brigham Young Jr. was President of the Twelve. Almost became president, but got reordered.

John Smith, Joseph F. Smith's brother, was the Patriarch who ordained Joseph  F. Smith prophet. That office has now been done away.
1902 Brigham Young Jr.

Hyrum Mack Smith, Joseph F. Smith's son was made an apostle.
Sometimes the prophet calls someone by revelation, sometimes he asks for  nominations from the 12.  Hyrum Mack Smith was nominated repeatedly.
(Someone only nominated is neat because they are worthy enough to serve, but doesn't have to. An example of this is also in the New Testament.  Tolley expresses admiration for these types of men.)

Francis Lyman dedicates the land of Russia for preaching of the gospel.
Elder Nelson rededicates it.

Zebedee Coltrin had an impression to give a blessing to 7-year-old George Albert Smith.  Tells him he will serve in the Quorem of the 12.
When George Albert Smith was called, he is sick for the first 10 years and has a hard time serving in the 12.
He had a dream of his grandfather. "What have you done with my name?" He realized he had never done anything of which his grandfather had to be ashamed.

Abraham O. Woodruff passes away in his 30s. 
He served in the church in Mexico. Wife gets smallpox. His wife died and was buried in Mexico. He dies in Texas.  In 1993, his descendents exhumed the bodies and buried the bodies together at Salt Lake City.

Charles W. Penrose. Called the 12, no cool stories about him. (sad face)

1904 Polygamy continued in other countries besides America until 1905.
John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley were still performing plural marriages.  They believed it would continue forever.  Undocumented revelation from John Taylor, when final manifesto came out, they left.
Mattias Cowley eventually returned to church. John W. Taylor never returned. They couldn't sustain modern revelation.
Merrill passes away.

David O. McKay, and two others have clear documented revelations of seeing the Savior.
George F. Richards had a dream of the Savior.
Orson F. Witney had a vision of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane suffering. Savior appeared again. Jesus: "I  need to leave now"  Orson: "Take me with you" Jesus: "No, it isn't your time."  Savior was tall in his dream and Orson was a very tall man.
Tolley’s observation: It is wonderful that after the two apostles that wouldn't sustain revelation, there are three apostles with definite visions and revelation.

Anthony W. Ivans. 
He was record-keeper for the 1st presidency, was nominated while he was taking notes and he was surprised.  He was Heber J Grant's cousin.

John R. Winder died. In his last talk in general conference, he just bore his testimony and didn't preach.  Oct 1909

Joseph Fielding Smith called to 12.
Lots of Smiths in the 12.  Perhaps the Lord felt at that time that the best place to raise an apostle was in an apostle's home.

John A. Smith passes away 1911 the day after giving a talk in GC.

James  E. Talmage
Two competing stories of his call. 1) Called and never told about the call. 2) In his journal it says he was called 4pm.

Francis Lyman passes away. "Lives are for wearing out in the service of the Lord"

Heber J. Grant becomes President of 12 at age 60.
Stephen L Richards is called to 12. 

Hyrum Mack Smith gets sick with ruptured appendix. Doctor tries to save him.  Only a blessing from his father can save him. The blessing is "you're going to pass, and I will follow you soon after"  Jan 3rd 1918. 
Joseph F. Smith knows he will die, so he does a thorough study of death and  receives revelation D&C 138 on the spirit world.

Richard R. Lyman’s motto "Long prayers and long sermons doesn't bring about much if it  doesn't bring right living"  His dad is Frances Lyman
Nov 17 1918 Joseph F. Smith passes away.  It was against the law to have large private funeral during the Spanish Flu.

Dec 23 1918 Re-organization of 1st pres
Pattern of counselors going back to their previous place. Nominations of president.
Elder Melvin Ballard called to 12.  (M. Russell Ballard is his grandson) 
He received a manifestation after he sought the Lord. He saw Christ in a  dream.

Heber J Grant spent time with Charles Nibley. Nibley  recommended Anthony Ivans to be in the First Presidency, but Grant objected on the grounds Ivans was a democrat and Grant didn't want all democrats in the First Presidency.

John A. Widsoe was gone when he was called and he couldn’t be found for a while. Finally he was reached in a panicked call. Called to the 12. When he heard, he put away all his life and  dreams and put it all away even though he loved what he did. (He was an  academic at the time.)
He liked Biblical criticism.

Penrose passed at age 93, oldest member of the 12 in history
Charles Nibley was never an apostle, but was a high priest.

10 years with no movement in the 12.

Joseph  F. Merrill called to the 12. 
During the sustaining of church officers, Saints grumbled that he wasn't sustained separately, so they did sustaining again separately, worrying there would be objections. But no one objected.

Charles Nibley passed away.
Hugh Nibley says Charles said, "If an angel came through the door, I would jump through the window." (This statement apparently expresses Charles’ ideas that an angel would be scary to see.) He was a man with feelings and sensitivities. 
Charles Nibley was very wealthy too.  Charles passed Dec 1931.

J. Reuben  Clark called in 1933. At the time, Clark was an ambassador to Mexico and couldn't go back on his work. Ordained to the office of high priest.
Member of the  70, but not in the quorum.
Not ordained apostle for another 8 months.

James  Talmage dies 1933.
He had a talk show on the radio on Sunday night. He had a raspy throat, got a root beer to soothe it, but his throat kept bothering him. He went to his office while everyone was out because he didn’t want to bother anyone. He just had strep throat in his office curled up (a  dangerous disease at that time) He died a couple days later.

Charles A Callus. Mission president in southern states for previous 25 years. He loved the south.

Anthony Ivans died of a heart attack
David O McKay came to 1st Presidency.

Alonzo Hinckley had the shortest time in the 12. He had a blessing he would do  so.
He had stomach cancer. He tries to resign. He went to southern California to rusticate on the beach. He has a series of visions.  His father came to him 3 times and told him it was time to come home, but he refused and demanded healing because he had work to do. Finally he said he would sell his businesses. He was visited by three heavenly messengers. Finally he passed away.

Albert E. Bowen. Apostleship was never one of his dreams. Ordained apostle, called as assistant to the 12.
Presiding bishops are frequently called into the twelve.

Sylvester Q Cannon called to the 12. Was an apostle, but not in the 12.

Reed Smoot passed away.

Marion G. Romney called to assistant to the 12. Not an apostle. 
He was called out of the audience at general conference. He didn't remember hearing any of the other four  called because he was so surprised.

Rudger Clawson passes away. 
Hardest battles of life fought in the chamber of our own souls.
Spencer Kimball and Ezra Benson called to apostles at the same time.
Kimball slipped out of his chair "No, not me."
They were called at the same day, older one ordained first.
Ordained while on his knees.

Horrible ordeal for the Twelve. 
Richard R. Lyman. He met a young lady and sealed himself to her, started practicing polygamy in secret. It was found out. He was excommunicated.  Amy Lyman (his first wife) was general Relief Society president of the church at the time and asked to  be released from her calling. She felt no one took her seriously, but she wasn't released and the leaders sent a taxi to pick her up every day. She was released 5mon-1year later.

A newspaper reporter had a dream that Lyman Richard dies. Problem, name is wrong, he's not dead. He sent a reporter to report on the apostles’ health. Later, a press release came about the excommunication of  Richard Lyman.  Mark E. Peterson had this dream and was later called to the 12.

Charles Callus has a heart attack down in the south
Delbert Stapley had an impression he'd be called to the 12. He was scared to meet with  anyone. He comes to general conference after opening prayer, leaves before closing  prayer. He was found in the lobby, and called as apostle in the lobby.
Series of visions.

LDS Stories from the Pacific Islands: The Emerging Church in the Pacific (specificallyKiribati) (pronounced Kiribas) and Papua New Guinea (by Brett MacDonald)
The hardest buildings to preserve are not new but not so old they feel historical, usually about 50 years old.
In the same way, members there feel they don’t have a history to preserve yet. But they are learning and living the history.

Thoughts on a global-historical perspective of Christianity
Dangers of a single story about a person or place. You miss the complexity.
They (the countries) are interesting countries with interesting challenges.
By the time the first Anglo-Saxons were converted , Ethiopian Christianity was already in its 10th generation.
In 1614 Christianity was prohibited in Japan.
Many early Christians went east in addition to west.
Iraq was though the Middle Ages at least as much a cultural and spiritual heartland of Christianity as was France or Germany or indeed Ireland.
85 bishops in the Eastern church
Spirit among the Turks and the Tibetans.
There were Christian churches in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and India before England had its first archbishop.
We can’t understand Christian history without Asia, or Asian history without Christianity.  SO, WE NEED THE STORIES OF THE MEMBERS IN ASIA.
Christianity has recently become thoroughly global.
It is estimated that in 2050, 72% of Christians will live in Africa and Asia.
We see a pattern of God moving geographically to Middle East, Europe, North America to developing world. 
Moral: He goes where He’s wanted.

South Christianities shows us that newer churches read the Bible in a way that makes Christianity look totally different from the faith of a prosperous advanced society of Europe or North America.  They ask the same basic questions on how to meet basic needs that the early church did.
“Counsel together” meant one thing to us and a different thing to them.

When asked “What is the most important lesson from the story of Joseph in Egypt?”
North America Christians said, “Joseph remained pure”
African Christians said, “No matter how far from home he was or for how long, Joseph never forgot his family.”

Andrew Jenson had a future-looking perspective.
In 1895, Jenson traveled the Pacific and much of the globe as assistant church historian.
Traveling wasn’t always convenient.
Interesting journey story: He Walked 3 miles. 12 miles of no human habitation. Major rainstorm started. He and his companion took off all their clothes to keep them dry.

Jenson played a vital role in keeping alive the ideal of a universal church. Insisted on Mormon history have all different countries and cultural groups.

Kiribati  (pronounced KI-ra-BASS)
Least-visited countries on earth. 100,000 inhabitants on coral atolls.
It’s almost as wide as the continental United States
Only 2% of land is arable. Efforts to increase food security. Few seeds, few soil, little fresh water, few pollinating insects
Robert Louis Stevenson spent lots of time there and waited weeks for another ship to pass by and pick him up.
The island was a mere thread of residence. Unsure situation, improbable beauty. Little grew there that could be eaten and diet was meager and unvarying.

Tarawa is the main island on Kiribati.
In WWII, it was a major strategic location. Japanese built an airstrip there with tunnels, wire, mines. 
The US Marines had to dislodge them.  High cost of victory. 17 Japanese of 4000 solders survived the battle.
The island was devastated with garbage and bodies everywhere.  Stench of death.
New battles now fought on Tarawa: rising sea levels, diet of cheap western food, lots of amputations from diabetes.
The sacrament connects us to each other there.
The first LDS missionaries in 1975, now more than 2 dozen congregations there.

Yotuotuni:
He broke his hip, couldn’t understand English. He prayed to be healed and promised he would be a missionary.
He taught himself English by using the Bible.
President of Mission visited. Yotuotuni was chosen to study in Tonga.
In Tonga, he learned he had enrolled in a Mormon school.
Tuo gained a testimony and was baptized.
Tetinecku was the first to join the church, but wasn’t activity.
Tuo found a girl he liked and wrote her notes in paper in library books. Then he would tell her about the awesome book he read and she would go read it and find his notes to her.
Tuo earned money for a ticket to go to the temple in New Zealand. He went to every session on the first day.
Returned every day the temple was open for a month.
He was the first to be sealed in the temple.
Tuo was asked to help with translation of the scriptures.  He studied in Provo and caught fish from the Provo river every night.
He took a draft of Book of Mormon back to his people.  The elders read it and wept.
Elder Sonenburg called Tuo as the first branch president in Kiribati.

Papua New Guinea.
Just north of Australia.  It’s still is not well-explored.
Some explorers thought they found the Tower of Babel because 1/3 of the world’s languages are in New Guinea.
In some way the church has been too successful there. They stopped conversions for a while because there were too many people joining for the leadership to handle it.
Some people were called to leadership before they had completely kept all the commandments of chastity.
First convert Auda Doudi. In 1980.

Some work done in New Guinea. Squatter settlements have 10Ks of people, wanting improved opportunities. They have a hard time gardening.
Boggy soil in the south.
Fish is the stable food.
MacDonald worked with leaders to help them train others to improve food production.
Food Production Problems: No veggies, bad soil, no seeds, too small place, hunger, need new ideas.
They prioritized the issues and voted.
Top priorities: New ideas, bad soil, hunger.  They wanted knowledge most.
The thing they were most interested in was a story of ancestors of Utah Territory 1855-56 when there was a severe food crisis with relentless drought when pioneers had to replant crops 5 times. People began stealing from neighbors.  As a result of low harvest, some paid less tithing.  The begging was particularly shocking. Someone stole a bag of four from President Woodruff. 
Leaders in New Guinea heard those stories and strongly identified with them.
(Utah solutions: Dig for roots, rather than beg, established ward fishing companies, )

Kiribati again..

Ukenio. 
He has no formal education. Has no opportunities. His son was a missionary, his daughter was a student.  How to meet the families needs?   
His brother built a fishing boat. Good fishing knowledge was guarded, but possessions are shared.
They caught 40 large tuna. But coming back, the engine died, the boat drifted into the open seas.
Month 1. Wife notified the guard her husband was missing.  Tsunami warning.  Searches, but searching called off.  
Wife hung her husband’s clothes in her hut’s ceiling as an expression of hope. (This is a traditional practice.) Prayed.  
Ukenio tried to stay mentally and physically strong as possible and would swim for a while.  Algae grew on the boat, attracting more fish, so the men survived on the ecosystem formed. 
There was a coconut in a strong current that Ukenio swam after and couldn’t get. He had to turn back to the boat or be swept away. He spent some time thinking about how to use that experience to teach his children about temptation.
Month 3 -- The boat seams started weakening.  Only two hours sleep at a time to bale water.  His nephew died. 
Month 4 they couldn’t bale much.  Semi-conscious state.  A thumping noise of a giant sea turtle revived Ukenio.  A Japanese fisherman found them.  Their strange ecosystem built around their boat meant they had enough food not to starve, but enough to draw attention.
They were found 1500 miles from home.
When asked what he thought about while lost at sea, he said: “Family, food, water, food, water, stories of Mormon pioneers’s struggles. Jesus.” He tried to remember all the names of Jesus.

[I walked out of that class thinking to myself, “How can I possibly complain about anything in my life?”]