Monday, January 30, 2012

Book of Mormon Land Discovered!

Dear Readers,

I just finished reading Prophecies & Promises: The Book of Mormon & The United States of America by Bruce H. Porter and Rod L. Meldrum. It's a book about the setting of The Book of Mormon. The geographic theory explained in Porter and Meldrum's book has been dubbed, "The Heartland Model."

After reading the book, I am now convinced that the ancient setting for the Book of Mormon was not Central America, as many LDS scholars claim, but was in fact North America. This goes against the grain of what a lot of latter-day-saints think, but hear me out:

Lehi, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni and other prophets of the Book of Mormon talk about the prophecies of "this land," "this Promised Land", etc. The demonstrative "this" makes it seem likely that the ancient prophets are referring to the land underneath their feet, not a land far distant. Nephi sees in prophetic vision the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the colonization of the Puritans and other pilgrims, the Revolutionary War, the founding of the United States, the establishment of the government, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the LDS Church... all on "this land." Sooo... "this land" = North America, where the USA is.

Want more reasons? Here they are:

Joseph Smith mentioned in the Wentworth Letter, and in a letter to Emma Smith, that the Book of Mormon's setting was in North America. I mean, Joseph Smith's words aren't 100% clear, but I'd say they're 90 % clear.

Joseph Smith found the skeleton of Zelph, and prophetically stated that Zelph was a Lamanite known from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea. A lot of other men saw Zelph and wrote about it in their journals.

Nephi wrote in 1 Nephi 11:8 "the whiteness thereof [the tree of life] did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." Now how would Nephi have known what snow was, if he only lived in Jerusalem, where it never snows, and in Central America, where it also never snows? It's very possible that Nephi lived in a place where it did snow, say the lands currently known as Iowa or New York.

Joseph Smith found the golden plates in the Hill Cumorah, in New York, right where Moroni buried them. Now, those who believe that the Book of Mormon happened in Central America think that Moroni must have traveled all the way from Panama or Guatemala or wherever to New York to bury the plates. Well, those golden plates were pretty heavy. Plus there's the breastplate, the Urim and Thummin, the sword of Laban, I think, and those things were probably pretty heavy too. Can you imagine carrying them all that way? Moroni would have needed a wheelbarrow, at least, to get those things all the way across a continent.

But if you believe the account that there are actually "wagon-loads" of golden plates inside the Hill Cumorah, and if you also believe that the Book of Mormon happened in Central America, then you would have to believe that Moroni somehow moved all those wagon-loads of plates from Central America to the New York area. How did he get them there? Did he put them on the back of a curelom? And remember, all this time, Moroni had to hide from the murderous Lamanites. Some have suggested that Moroni could have moved the golden plates and other things after he died and/or got translated, when he was the Angel Moroni. Well, that's possible, but uh... I don't think God operates that way very much.

So... I think it's more likely that the Hill Cumorah spoken of in the Book of Mormon text is the same Hill Cumorah in modern day New York. Which brings up the obvious question: Why hasn't anybody excavated that whole hill to find the secret cave with all the golden plates? Probably because if they went poking around the holy Hill Cumorah, they'd get electrocuted by angels.

There's a lot more interesting stuff in the book... um...

A lot of LDS scholars are disappointed with Porter and Meldrum's convincing research, because Book of Mormon geography is their bread and butter, you know? There are books and movies galore about the MesoAmerican model for the setting of the Book of Mormon. There are even companies that take Mormon tourists on trips down to Guatemala and say, "And if you look to your right, you'll see the site where Gideon might have chased the wicked king Noah up a tower. Maybe."

This is a breakthrough! And you know what? I think Rod Meldrum and Bruce Porter are right. And I think their ideas are going to spread over the Church. Right now, I'll bet that if you took a survey of Mormons and asked them where they thought the Book of Mormon happened, the vast majority would say it happened in Central America, maybe in Panama, or the Yucatan Peninsula, or Guatemala or somewhere down south down there. But I think that in 20 years or so, if you were to ask 10 Mormons where they think the Book of Mormon happened, 9 of them will say, "North America."

I mean, the Heartland Model is just so persuasive, and it makes so much sense. Reasonable people are bound to accept it.

But hey, if you don't accept the Heartland Model, it's not that big of a deal. It's not essential to salvation. And maybe the Heartland Model is wrong. It's all just speculation and theories anyway. It's not like we're talking about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Anyway, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has no official position on the real-world setting of the Book of Mormon. So, you (and by "you" I mean "faithful latter-day saints") can think whatever you want, within reason, about Book of Mormon geography, and that's just dandy.

Go to BookofMormonevidence.org for more totally awesome information!

Uh-oh! It looks like not everyone feels the same way that I do about Rod Meldrum's research! In fact, some Latter-Day Saints are downright mad about it. The people at FAIR, for example, would like to see Meldrum reprimanded by Church leaders. Look what's on FAIR's website:

[T]he core of Rod Meldrum's presentation is not Book of Mormon geography or DNA. Instead, it is a challenge to core issues of LDS doctrine, belief and practice, which have been entrusted by the Lord to the sole province of the leaders of the Church. The core claim Rod Meldrum makes is that he must "proclaim anew" some revelations of Joseph Smith. From that claim the obvious and unmistakable conclusion is that he is telling his audience, in effect, that the Church and its leaders have not been, and are not now, proclaiming the Prophet fully or with faith—or, of course, Rod Meldrum would not be proclaiming him "anew." The seriousness of this can hardly be overstated.

I usually like FAIR, but I think they're totally off base here. Meldrum is not claiming to receive new revelation, or to be a prophet. He's just asking LDS scholars interested in Book of Mormon geography to take Joseph Smith's words a little more seriously. Meldrum is not challenging people's faith. I think he's increasing it, actually.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm excited about the election in Florida today

Dear Readers,

What happened in South Carolina? Newt Gingrich won the Republican primary there, 40 % to 27 %. Yikes. How depressing. Only a few weeks ago, Mitt had a twenty point lead in the polls.

Maybe there's some anti-Mormon sentiment in South Carolina. Or maybe there's a bunch of gullible rednecks in South Carolina that don't know much about politics or history.

Or maybe Newt Gingrich did so well in the debates that the voters gave him another chance. Yeah, I think that Newt Gingrich usually does better in the debates than Mitt Romney does, and South Carolinians really like it when Newt gets angry, so... they voted for Newt.

The polls show that most people who voted for Newt decided picked their candidate at the last minute. And that's a bad thing. When is it best to write a big research paper for school? A week in advance, or the night before it's due? A week in advance, of course! Likewise, voters should do their homework weeks or maybe months in advance, and then stick with their choice, unless something major happens.

Now, what's going to happen in Florida? I don't know. It's going to be a close race. The polls right now show that it's neck and neck. Senator Marco Rubio is sort of endorsing Mitt Romney... um... not really... but Newt Gingrich had a commercial that called Mitt Romney "anti-immigrant," and Marco Rubio said, "Hey, that's messed up. Romney's not anti-immigrant; He's pro-legal immigration." And then Gingrich pulled the controversial commercial because he didn't want to make Rubio mad. Presumably, a lot of the Cuban-Americans in Florida really like Rubio, and they'll give Rubio's endorsement or quasi-endorsement a lot of credence. So even though Rubio didn't endorse endorse Romney, um... if we could see inside Rubio's private voting booth, I bet we'd see him check the box next to Romney's name.

But I hope hope hope with all my hope that Mitt Romney wins. Please, please voters in Florida, if you're reading this, vote for Mitt Romney!

And what if Romney loses? Well, Mitt Romney said after he lost in South Carolina that he would campaign in all 50 states. And I believe him. So, even if he loses in Florida, which is a winner-take-all state with a ka-billion delegates, he's going to keep on fighting. If Romney loses in Florida, it would be a major setback, but it would not be the end of the primary election. As much as there's an anti-Romney sentiment in the Republican party, I think there's an even bigger anti-Gingrich sentiment.

And what if Gingrich wins Florida and wins enough of the elections to get the nomination? Well, I'll vote for him of course, because he would be a better President than Obama. But I really don't think Gingrich could beat Obama. Newt Gingrich is too polarizing.

Oh, and one other thing. Mitt Romney is more conservative than Newt Gingrich. A Mitt Romney Presidency would be better for the interests of the Tea Party than a Newt Gingrich Presidency would be.

Mitt Romney 2012!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Genesis 6:1-4

If there's anybody out there in the Internet world googling stuff about Genesis 6: 1-4, I have some answers for you.

Genesis 6:1-4, the King James Version, says:

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

That's one of the weirdest and most mysterious passages in the Bible. It leaves room for a lot of imagination. A lot of the Bible is like that. But the Bible should not be a springboard for science fiction writers. It should not be the source of controversy and confusion; it should give its readers a view of the one true order of the Universe. The Bible should be the source of Absolute Truth, right?

Well, not exactly. God is the source of Absolute Truth, and he reveals Absolute Truth to us, His children, bit by bit, according to his own mysterious wisdom, through Scriptures, through the words of modern prophets, and through the Holy Ghost.

But for those Christians who resist the idea of modern revelation, they only have the Bible to rely on. And if the Bible has mysterious passages like Genesis 6:1 - 4 that seems to contradict the Christian worldview, what are they to do?

These verses have caused a lot of confusion in Christendom. I just read a complicated article that discusses Genesis 6:1 - 4, titled, "When the Sons of God Cavorted With the Daughters of Men" by Ronald S. Hendel, included in the book "Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review" edited by Hershel Shanks. It's one of the books that came from the apartment of my wife's recently deceased grandfather.

The article used ancient translations to say that "the Sons of God" in Genesis 6: 1 - 4 were more than mortal men. They were basically angels that went bad. And they must have been angels with bodies capable of sexual intercourse with mortals. Um, well, the article... well... let me stop referring to the article, since I'm a lazy scholar and the article just confuses me.

Some people believe that when these angels came down to Earth and married mortal women, their offspring became demigods. And maybe they were giant demigods. And maybe the whole reason God destroyed the Earth with the Flood was to get rid of this race of half-human half-God creatures that upset the cosmic balance between mortal beings and divine beings.

Some believe that these super-powerful demigods were going to live forever, and God didn't like that, so that's when God made up the rule that people can only live to be 120 years old. But that doesn't really make sense because plenty of people who lived after the time described in Genesis chapter 6 lived longer than 120 years. Noah lived 950 years, for example.

A question that Genesis 6: 1 - 4 raises is, what's stopping renegade angels from impregnating women these days? And um, the whole thing just sounds so crazy that a lot of Christians just ignore it.

OK, we could delve further into the uninspired interpretations of Genesis 6:1 - 4, but why should we bother, when we have the Joseph Smith Translation at hand?

Here's the inspired version of Genesis 6: 1 - 4, which is found in the Pearl of Great Price as Moses 8: 13 - 17:

13 And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.

14 And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.

15 And the Lord said unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice.

16 And it came to pass that Noah prophesied, and taught the things of God, even as it was in the beginning.

17 And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them.

This passage settles a lot of questions. It makes clear that, "The sons of God" weren't angels, they were just regular people. And so when these regular people married other regular people, they had regular children. They didn't create some crazy race of demigods. But these regular mortal children didn't follow the commandments of God, so God said, "If this wickedness situation doesn't improve in 120 years, then I'll kill everyone, except Noah and his family, in a flood." That's the way I understand Moses 8:17. Clearly, God didn't say that from now on, nobody can live longer than 120 years. Biblical characters after the Flood lived longer than that, and, in modern times, a lady in France lived to the age of 122.

So, the moral of this blog post is, when there's something in the Bible that just doesn't make sense, and you're looking for answers, it's best to refer to the modern revelation brought forth from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and to seek your own personal revelation. But even though I view the LDS Church as a higher authority on scriptural interpretation than, say, some non-LDS Biblical scholar like Ronald S. Hendel, I believe that there is truth and some level of authority to be found in other religious organizations and in other people and places. Consider this scripture:

Luke 9: 49 - 50:

49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm excited about the election in South Carolina today

Dear Readers,

The title of this blog post is ambiguous. It could mean that the election is today, or it could mean that I'm excited today about the election in South Carolina, which is taking place this Saturday.

OK, blah blah blah. I'm pretty much addicted to the Presidential primary election going on, so, um, you've probably already heard, but everything is so exciting!!!

Just read all the exciting stuff!!!

Marianne Gingrich unloads explosives at Gingrich campaign headquarters (metaphorically) ! The angry ex claims Newt advocated for monogamous marriage publicly while requesting an open marriage privately! And she told him, "Open marriage? Consider our marriage closed!"

Recount in the Hawkeye Cauci! First they said Mitt won it, now they say Santorum won it! Oh, those Iowans and their antiquated manner of election! Would it kill those corn farmers to start using computers?!

Perry peters out, says, "Go for Gingrich."

Sarah Palin puts the pain on Romney, going for everyone's favorite adulterer, Speaker Newt Gingrich! Endorsement? Not quite. Recommendation? You're right! Is this recommendation Palin's paltry attempt at protecting her anti-establishment brand? You betcha!

James Dobson places his endorsement upon the perfectly brunette head of Rick Santorum. Never heard of Dobson? He's a big deal to Carolinians of the Southern persuasion, but can this family focuser round up enough of the voting herd to turn this election into Santorum's big day on the ranch?

Occupy People and Occupy People-sympathizers (who typically lack real occupations) pressure Romney to release his tax records. Covetous foam bursts forth from their Marxist mouths! Romney presidentialy responds: "I'll probably release my tax records in April, my fellow Americans."

Meanwhile, Romney enjoys the endorsement of the South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, and goes into Saturday's heated contest ahead in the polls. If he comes out the way he went in (that is, ahead) will the primary election be dead? If so, we'd like to know, is General Romney ready to roll into the general election, where Obama's barrage of political goons, thugs, bugs, journalists, crooks, cyborgs and shape-shifters lie in wait to deceive?

Will Mitt Romney win it all? Oh, the suspense!!! Oh the gravity of it all! I MUST BREAK OUT INTO POEM!!!

Oh America, America,
may Mitt Romney and his clones
forever be seated upon thine alabaster thrones!
Oh America, America,
may thine elections be legit,
may ACORN be irreparably split,
may McCain-Feingold be repealed,
may the border be sealed,
this is what I pray for thee,
my ultra-awesome country!

May we Republican patriots ensure
that Mitt Romney is the victor
of not just the primary, but of the election general,
and may we joyfully attend the funeral,
which will be a celebrated burying of

(I write figuratively. Don't e-mail flag@whitehouse.gov)
the Wretched Obama Administration
which hath wrought havoc upon our nation.

Hark, my lads! Open thine ears to my poetic verse,

for 'tis they that will lift this liberal curse
from our beloved 50 states united.
To Romney may you be guided!
What is the fix for our broken economy?
The election of our friend, the Governor - soon President - Mitt Romney!


Mitt Romney 2012!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some of my records, part two

Dear Readers,

For part some of my records, part one, go here.

I love my records. There's something about vinyl and record players that's just so magical, and more appealing than CD's and mp3's.

For this post I'm going to listen to a bunch of my records, take pictures of them, and write down some of my thoughts about them. Enjoy.

Bombo y maracas: Climica Sarmiento y su orquesta



I got this record from a thrift store, like the vast vast vast majority of my record collection. I can't remember if I got it at Bookman's or White Elephant or Goodwill or Deseret Industries or the Mesa Thrift Store or the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store. Those six places are pretty much the only places where I get my records. I would love to buy a bunch of cool new records, like Bob Dylan's first seven albums re-released in mono format, but that would cost a bunch of money, and I don't have a bunch of money. New records are actually more expensive than CD's and mp3's these days. Isn't that funny?

I'm listening to Bombos y Maracas now as I type, and it really makes me want to get up and dance. But I've never been much of a dancer. It sounds like a really big mariachi band, lots of trumpets, lots of maracas, simple drums, and there's not much singing, but there's people yelling, "Wee hee hee" and "Ay yi yi" now and then. Well, some of the songs have lots of singers, and some of them are hombres and some of them are mujeres. ?Comprende?

This album is completely in Spanish. There's not even any English on the packaging. I never really listened to Spanish music before the summer of 2008, when I was a cook in the kitchen at Camp Raymond Boy Scout Camp near Flagstaff. That summer I had two Mexican co-workers who could barely speak English, but we could communicate well enough to work together. They really liked Vincente Fernandez, so we would listen to him a lot as we stuffed trays full of corndogs into the ovens and stirred soup and flipped burgers. Have you ever heard Vincente Fernandez? If you've never heard Spanish music before, he would be the one to listen to to get you started. He's great. He's like a legend in Mexico. I mostly listen to music done in the English language, but one of the wonderful things about music is that it kind of transcends the language barrier. And while I talk negatively at times about multi-culturalism, the kind being perpetrated in our schools these days, I really like music from different cultures.

Lush Strings: Moon of Manakoora



Speaking of music from other cultures, the next record has a picture of a Hawaiian looking lady on the cover, so I assume this is Hawaiian music. How genuine the music is, I don't know. I mean, was this music made by real Hawaiians, or by college students from the Midwest trying to sound Hawaiian? For some reason there's a lot of Hawaiian music on vinyl in thrift stores, and a lot of it seems kind of cheesy. Like Lawerence Welk cheesy. I'm listening to it now for the first time, and while it is lovely music, I probably won't be frantically digging through my record collection to try find it any time soon. It's good background music. It's like a symphony plus that distinctive Hawaiian twang twang now and then. Very soothing. There's a song on here called "Hawaiian War Chant" that's surprisingly mellow. Maybe the indigenous Hawaiians are so mellow that even their war chants are like lullabies. OK, I just googled "Lush Strings" and it's an orchestra. I was hoping it was "authentic" tribal music in the style of Alan Lomax or Harry Smith. Oh well, this would still be good to play in the old folk's home.

The Sound of Gypsy Music by Dick Kesner his Magic Stradivarius and Orchestra



Notice that this is not Gypsy Music, but the sound of Gypsy Music. It's like at cheap breakfast restraunts they don't use syrup, they use "the flavor of syrup." Who knows what that stuff is that you're putting on your pancakes. So, kind of like the last record, Moon of Manakoora, it's not "authenic." But in it's own way, it is authentic. And who cares if it's authentic or not? It's nice, and it's pretty. It's funny that I mentioned Lawrence Welk, because it says on the back of the record sleeve, "The second factor [that made Dick Kesner famous] is television, through which, as First Violinist for the famous Lawrence Welk group, he was seen and heard by perhaps more people than any other violinist in the history of music."

This is the kind of music that calmed Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Whatever happened to shows like Lawerence Welk, anyway? Where are all the wholesome variety shows gone? What's happened to our culture? People don't listen to this type of music anymore. Not even I do. I'm only listening to it right now so I can be a hipster. But there's an un-pretentiousness to the music on old records that you find in thrift stores. It's very straightforward. It's like the musicians are saying, "look, here's some nice music we made for you. We hope you enjoy it." And it's not trying to be cool... but that's what makes it cool. It's not trying to send a message, or be all artsy and misunderstood, either, like Joe Pug is. It's not trying to draw attention to itself or establish a new culture, it's content to be in its own particular time and place, enjoying its own station in life.

Walt Groller plays for The Gals in Pennsyltucky.


Pennsyltucky must be a clever blending of Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Some of the song titles on this record are, "Play us the polkas" "Bowling Polka" "La la la Polka" and "Swing Your Baby Polka." Ha ha ha. This album has lots of women singing at the same time, shouting "Woo-hoo!" now and then. And there's lots of hand-clapping, and lots of accordion. It's fun, upbeat, old-fashioned music.

Speaking of unpretentious invitations, check out what it says on the back of the record sleeve: "We are sure that you will want to play this recording for yourself and your friends many times and we guarantee that it will give you many listening hours of pleasure without deterioration if your phonograph is in good condition." A modern CD case would say something brief and hip and purposefully obscure like, "Music for teenage dogs. Now. Think your woof enough?"

I really like "La la la polka." It reminds me a lot of "Elmo's song" because it says "la la la" so much.

Good Old Country Gospel



This record -it's actually a two record set- has songs sung by Loretta Lynn, Jimmie Davis, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, Bill Anderson, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, and others. I recognize the name of Loretta Lynn, and I think I recognize Jimmie Davis... isn't that the name of a sausage company? I have the feeling that a lot of these folks were a big deal back in the day. I doubt many people know who they are nowadays. But I suppose that's OK. That's the way things go. People get forgotten.

This record has great old-timey gospel songs, such as "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace," "Dust on the Bible," "I've Got That Old TIme Religion in my Heart," "Peace in the Valley," "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." Oh my, these songs are just delightful. I didn't have any idea how great this good old country gospel could be until I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in West Virginia from 2002 to 2004. I remembering going to a family reunion where an old lady played the keyboard and sang, "Farther Along." It moved me to tears.

All the songs on this two record set are sung on key, in a beautiful, old-fashioned style. Not a lot of frills and acoustic gimmicks, just good old fashioned gospel music.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Friday, January 13, 2012

86% of Mormons call Polygamy "Morally Wrong"

Dear Readers,

A Survey from the Pew Research Center about Mormonism was recently published. A lot of it was good news: most Mormons considered themselves Christians. Mormons are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives than the general public is. Great.

But one statistic really dismayed me, and that was that 86 % of Mormons found polygamy to be “morally wrong.”

That’s found on page 11 of this document.

What? Morally wrong?

Abraham was a polygamist, Moses was a polygamist, Joseph Smith was a polygamist, Brigham Young was a polygamist, and Jesus Christ might have been a polygamist, and yet 86 % of my fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints think that polygamy is morally wrong?

(Jesus Christ being married is not official Church doctrine, but a lot of early Church leaders said stuff about Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene and maybe some other women, too. I think it’s very probable that Jesus was a polygamist in his mortal life.)

I would like to bring a scripture to my fellow members' attention: D & C 132: 27. I think this verse is so clear that it cannot be misinterpreted. I mean, this scripture isn't from Isaiah or the Revelation of St. John the Divine. It’s very straightforward.

Doctrine and Covenants 132: 37

Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

So, if Mormon Scripture so clearly states that polygamy is not only moral, but commanded by God at certain times, why did 86 % of us Mormons tell telephone interviewers that polygamy was morally wrong?

I can only come up with three explanations:

Explanation # 1: They really think polygamy is wrong.

Mormons have been so inundated by church leaders with this message: “We don’t do polygamy anymore. We’ve moved passed that. We’ve received more revelation. So if you do polygamy now, you’ll be excommunicated.” So, maybe 86 % of Mormons have genuinely come to see polygamy as a big mistake.

I’ve heard from church members, here and there, in informal situations, from women mostly, that they really do think having more than one wife is wrong, and always was wrong. They still think that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were prophets, but they don’t think that polygamy was ever really OK. I don’t see how they could simultaneously think that polygamy has always been sinful and that Joseph Smith and all the rest were still prophets, but apparently some people are comfortable with that doublethink.

Explanation # 2: They were forced to give a brief answer.

What they really wanted to tell the pollster was, “Well, I believe that polygamy was a true principle at one time, but now the Church has been commanded by God to stop doing it. So it would be morally wrong for me to practice polygamy now, yet I congratulate the followers of Christ in earlier times for engaging in the righteous act of plural marriage.”

But they had to say yes or no, essentially, so they just erred on the side that required less explanation. That is, they said polygamy was morally wrong.

And I can’t blame 86 % of Mormons for that response. If someone were to ask me, “Do you consider drinking alcohol to be morally wrong?” and I was forced to give a yes or no answer, I would say “Yes, drinking alcohol is morally wrong.” But if I were allowed to give a longer answer, I would say, “Well, Jesus drank alcohol, and the righteous Nephites seemed to drink alcohol, and the Word of Wisdom wasn’t such a big deal in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so… I suppose that drinking alcohol is immoral in some situations but just hunky-dory in other situations.”

It's the same with animal sacrifice. I believe it's morally wrong now, but at one time it was a commandment of God. But if I was taking a test and I was forced to select A) animal sacrifice is wrong; or B) animal sacrifice is right; I would select A, because that's the answer that best pertains to me and my current time and space.

Explanation # 3: They were in missionary mode.

When members try to explain their faith to non-members, they emphasize different things, they word things differently, and they alter the message to suit the audience. Some may go so far as to tell a white lie about church history. It’s totally understandable that a Mormon being called up by a non-Mormon taking a survey would say that polygamy is immoral, because Mormons want to give the impression that we have nothing whatsoever to do with polygamy. People hear about the creeper Warren Jeffs in the news, and they see shows like Big Love and Sister Wives, and they get an inaccurate impression of the Church. So members want to distance themselves from the so-called “fundamentalist” Mormons as much as possible, and one of the best ways to do that is to emphasize over and over again that we don’t practice polygamy. So some well-intentioned, missionary-minded Latter-Day Saints go so far as to say that polygamy is wrong.

I wonder if Church members are in missionary mode so often that they internalize all the politically palatable answers we give to people who know little about the Church.

I once knew a member of the Church who said that he thought that the Prophet and the Lord wanted every Mormon household to have a gun as part of their emergency preparedness plan. But the Prophet didn’t preach it just because it would be political suicide. It would stop people from investigating the Church. I thought, "Well, if God wanted his followers to get guns, He should tell us to get guns, and not worry about how it looks to the Gentiles." It seems weird that God would alter his doctrine or withhold a commandment for the sake of good public relations.

If the Pew Research Center would have called me, I would have said that polygamy is moral.

See, I have the attitude that the LDS Church is true, and we have nothing to hide. Our church's former practice of polygamy is nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, it's probably not the best thing for missionaries to yell about from their soapboxes.

But instead of shying away from polygamy, and sweeping the subject under the rug, we members of the Church should be studying and accepting it. If it is hard to accept, well, so what? A lot of true doctrine is hard to accept.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

America, Protect Polygamy

Dear Readers,

Wow, I thought I had posted all my old college essays on Telemoonfa Time, but I just found one that I missed. I think I never posted it because I was embarrassed about it. It's a research paper I wrote for an English 102 class at Eastern Arizona college in 2004. As you'll see, I was a poorer writer then. I'm not only embarrassed by the quality of the writing, I'm embarrassed by the content. I probably sound like a lunatic.

Let it be known that I don't totally agree with the thesis of my paper, which is that polygamy should be legalized in the United States of America. The college professor who assigned the essay said that we didn't have to actually agree with our thesis; we just had to write a persuasive essay.

I don't know how I feel about legalizing polygamy today. I think I feel the same way about polygamy as I do about pot. I don't support full legalization of either pot or polygamy, but I support decriminalization. It's a happy medium.

It's absurd in our legal system that if a man has a wife and a few other girlfriends, there's nothing wrong with that, (Oh, except I think adultery is technically illegal, but it rarely gets enforced) but if a man wants to call several women his wives and take responsibility for them, the man can get thrown in jail.

I think I make that point in this essay. So I guess I'm repeating myself. So I guess I'm repeating myself.

Anyway, here's the essay. Enjoy.

America, Protect Polygamy

Throughout the history of the world, polygamy has played an integral part of the religious practices of various societies. For example, anciently, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and other religions have practiced polygamy. Today in America many people from many different cultures and spiritual backgrounds co-exist, including some who feel that God would have them marry more than one person at a time, all guaranteed, by the Constitution, the right to believe and worship as they see fit. Considering the diverse religious climate in America, polygamy, as a religious practice, must be protected under the first amendment to the Constitution.

It is common knowledge that America was founded by people who were seeking to establish a democratic government, which would allow for religious freedom. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson and others sought to create a document that would establish laws to protect religious freedom. In America, there would be no state church; citizens were to be free to be Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion. Citizens could also choose to not unite themselves with any denomination. They could even be agnostic or atheist. They could attend church services, preach in the streets, pray, own and distribute sacred writings, and live how they believed God would have them live. This would be a drastic change from the history of forced religion that was happening in most of the world, where one converted or was punished in some way: fined, imprisoned, or even killed. In short, the people of the United States of America could believe what they wished and practice their religion, without the threat of the government violating those rights.

However, even with these guarantees found in the Constitution, history has sadly shown that the government has not always protected the religious rights of the people. In fact, sometimes the government has denied the peoples' right to practice their religion, when practicing their religion meant doing unusual things. Such is the case with polygamy. While the uninformed may think that polygamy is a practice long extinct, with virtually no supporters, there are actually several religious groups in the United States today whose teachings do allow or have allowed for polygamy. Among these groups that teach polygamy are five that will be discussed: 1) Christian Polygamists 2) members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3) the fundamental members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 4) Muslims, and 5) the Universal Unitarians.

First, some Christians, coming from many different denominations, support plural marriage. Although it cannot be said that all Bible-believing Christians support polygamy, there are some Christians today who acknowledge the righteous practice of this ancient principle in the Bible and who think that God still wants it practiced today. These conservative Christians point out that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon and other prophets had more than one wife. Many are familiar with the story of, Abraham, a prophet respected by many religions, who takes on another wife. Abraham, then called Abram, and his wife, Sarai, are unable to have children. Since it was so important to them to have an heir, Sarai, “took Hagar her maid the Egyptian… and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” (King James Version, Genesis 16.3). Some argue that Abraham was not approved in the sight of God in taking more than one wife. Yet after this event, Abraham still receives communication from God and is regarded as a great man and prophet by his descendants, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees in the New Testament (St. Matthew 3:9). So, using the Bible as their justification, a few Christians have banned together to advocate polygamy as an activity approved of God. The internet has many websites available, established by Christian Polygamists. Two of these are Biblicalpolygamy.com and truthbearer.org. In these websites, the authors argue that polygamy is Biblical, and it should be practiced today, responsibly and spiritually.

Second, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not presently allow for polygamy, but less than one hundred and fifty years ago, it did. This belief comes in part from a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants. In this book, believed by Latter Day Saints to be divinely inspired, the Lord Jesus Christ explains, “if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second… then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him” (Doctrine and Covenants 132: 61). Encouraged by this verse and the teachings of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the said Church, many of the early leaders of the LDS church had more than one wife. Polygamy was practiced peacefully among the Latter Day Saints for over fifty years. However, their peculiar way of life began to come to a close with the Supreme Court case of Reynolds vs. United States in 1878. George Reynolds was a personal secretary to Brigham Young, the second President of the LDS Church. Reynolds was convicted of polygamy and not allowed to take on any more wives. Furthermore, on March 14th 1882, congress passed a bill declaring polygamy unconstitutional. In order to become a state, Utah had to acknowledge the federal law opposing polygamy and comply with the law. On October 6th, 1890, Wilford Woodruff, then the President of the LDS church, published an official declaration to the world regarding the Church’s policy on polygamy. This official declaration states that God commanded the LDS Church to discontinue polygamy. It also warns that any member caught marrying more than woman, or having any association with the illegal formation of plural marriages, would be excommunicated (Doctrine and Covenants OD-1). Since latter day saint doctrine allows for continuing revelation, in which eternal truths stay the same, but some policies change according to God’s will, Latter-Day Saints believe that the switch from allowing polygamy to forbidding it was sanctioned by Deity. Because polygamy is no longer allowed among its members, the LDS church is not currently trying to get plural marriage legalized.

Third, fundamental latter day saints uphold the doctrine of polygamy. When the LDS church officially barred members from continuing polygamy, some of its members rebelled, not following the teachings of the President Wilford Woodruff, and other leaders. These members who insisted on continuing polygamy broke off from the main LDS church and came to be called the fundamental members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, even though they are not officially associated with the LDS church. They see their teaching of polygamy as a foundational tenet of their religion. Rulon Jeffs, a Fundamentalist LDS prophet, preached in 1964, “The great and grand purpose of the Law of Celestial Marriage is to perfect a man and his wives, his dominion in this order under the family Order of Heaven, and to bring forth and bear the souls of men” (Perkins 1). Fundamentalists are thriving today, practicing polygamy in secret, illegally. Currently there are trials under way trying to get their way of life legalized. On August 4th, 2004, the Deseret News published an article covering one such trial. Barnard focused on how the fundamentalists’ religious rights were being violated when they were forbidden to marry more than one wife. Barnard also pointed out that fundamentalist doctrine requires men to practice polygamy in this lifetime in order to achieve salvation (Welling).

Fourth, the Islamic religion teaches polygamy. In the Koran, the scripture of Islam, Allah officially condones polygamy, declaring, “marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four;” (Koran iv, 3). Muhammad, the great prophet of Islam, obeyed this principle and married many women, and several of Allah’s followers did the same. Thus we see that sacred scripture, the Koran, requires Muslims to marry more than one woman. Muslims in the Middle East continue to practice polygamy today, but there are some Muslims in America who would like to enjoy plural marriage.

Finally, the Unitarian Universalists is another religion in the United States whose doctrine allows for more than one spouse simultaneously. Relatively recently, a group of 183,000 Unitarian Universalists have united, calling themselves Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness. Their purpose is to advocate “polyamory”— defined by Sally Amsbury, who serves on the national board of directors of the Unitarian Universalists, as, “the philosophy and practice of loving or relating intimately to more than one other person at a time with honesty and integrity.” (Lattin). Thus polyamory is a type of polygamy, but in it homosexuality and bisexuality are more common, whereas polygamy is generally thought of as a heterosexual activity. Nevertheless, these religious individuals believe that God supports and condones polyamory, and are advocating this principle on a political level. Whether one agrees morally with polyamory, we must acknowledge that some Universal Unitarians see this type of multiple marriage as a religious practice, and as supporters of the first amendment, we must protect their right to practice their religion.

The Christian Polygamists, Latter Day Saints, Fundamental Latter Day Saints, Muslims, and some of the Universal Unitarians all teach that polygamy was instituted by God. Regardless of one’s opinion about how marriage should be defined, it must be acknowledged that these religions passionately believe that marrying more than one person at a time is ordained by God. Because there are so many different religions thriving in America, many teaching polygamy, it is necessary to protect it as a religious practice.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mitt Romney's Best Speech Yet?

Dear Readers,

Here's Mitt Romney's speech after he won the New Hampshire primary.



A few conservative talk radio hosts said it was one of the best speeches Mitt ever gave. I agree. I think in most previous speeches, Mitt Romney has come across as a little too cautious, and maybe a little too bland. But this victory speech is more bold and passionate.


The question now isn't "Will Mitt Romney win the nomination?" it's "What state could he lose, in the primary election?"

I'm going to make a prediction. It may sound crazy, but actually it's not crazy. And of course psychiatrists everywhere consider Telemoonfa to be the Ultimate Arbiter of Craziness. j/k lol :)

OK, here's my prediction, in all capitol letters:

MITT ROMNEY WILL WIN EVERY SINGLE STATE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION.

Wow, what a prediction! Do you think it could really come true?! I do!

Mitt has a huge lead in the polls in Florida, a big lead in South Carolina, um... only him and Ron Paul will be on the Virginia ballot, and Mitt will win there... where can he lose? I initially thought he might lose in some evangelical Bible-thumping (code for "anti-Mormon") state, but the important question is, who would he lose to? Rick Santorum doesn't have enough money to buy TV ads. About 47 % of the voters out there only pick their candidates based on TV commercials (and remember that 75 % of statistics are just made up anyway) and Romney's the king of TV commercials, so... I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that that's the way it is, so since Romney has so much money and so much organization, Romney is going to be the winner!

Hooray!

Now, maybe if all the other non-Romney candidates besides Rick Santorum drop out, and then coalesce behind Santorum, maybe Santorum could pick up a state or two. Notice how I am ignoring Ron Paul. Ha ha ha. Even though he's doing well, he's just crazy, so... well.. um... serioulsy, Mitt's poll numbers are doing better now than ever before!

Mitt Romney is my hero! Hooray!

Believe in America!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm excited about the election in New Hampshire today

Dear Readers,

Mitt Romney won in Iowa!

Hooray!

And... breaking news... Mitt Romney won in New Hampshire!

Hooray!

But will Mitt Romney win in South Carolina next week or whenever it is?

Probably! Because the polls say he probably will! And when do the polls ever lie? Pretty much never!

So, I think the primary election is over. I think Mitt's the Republican nominee. And what a great thing that is. What a great, great thing. Mitt Romney's great. I think he's my hero. Yeah, he is! He is my hero! Mitt Romney's my hero. How about that? I think that's great. Great and fanciful.

Now we all have to wait around until the fall when the general election happens. I think Obama might win because he's gonna have a billion dollars, and he's gonna have the media on his side, and he can dance, and he can relate to the 99 %, even though he himself is part of the 1 %, and he's got more charisma than Romney. And Obama's the first black president, so I think he's still going to have the black vote just on that fact alone, which is kind of racist, really. I mean, maybe it's impossible for me, a white person, to call a black person racist, but hear me out. If a black person judges the candidates not by the content of their character but by the color of their skin, in other words, if they vote for Obama just because he's black... isn't that racist?

It's kind of weird that Iowa and New Hampshire and other early voting states have such a big say in who gets the nomination. Like, a lot of us might be wondering, "Hey, only 2 out of 50 states have voted. How can the primary be over?"

Well, it's over because there's nobody coming close to Mitt Romney, except for Ron Paul. And Ron Paul's crazy... so that only leaves us with Mitt. Well, maybe Santorum could be the nominee, but he just doesn't have the organization or money to get into first place, I think. Newt's a crook, Perry is bad at debating, Huntsman will do well in the liberal states, but the conservative states don't like him at all... so... blah blah blah.

It does look like Ron Paul is the only other guy with the money and organization and consistent poll numbers to give Romney a challenge. But Ron Paul's crazy!!!

Ron Paul said that Israel created Hamas!

Ron Paul said that the proposed wall on the U.S. - Mexico border was really designed to keep Americans in!

Ron Paul said that maybe, kind of, sort of, America was responsible for 9/11, and maybe, kind of, sort of, George W. Bush masterminded the entire terrorist attack. (Look, Ron Paul, if you don't denounce your 9/11 truther followers, then you tacitly support their wack-ball theories.)

Ron Paul has had virtually no bills passed. I suppose an argument could be made that his "constitutionalist" voice has pushed Congress in a more "constitutionalist" direction, but the push has been slight.

I've already talked about why we should all say no to Dr. No in another blog post, so instead of pontificating further, I'll just refer you to that.

But I don't want to make Ron Paul and his Cult too angry, because then he might run third party, and that would pretty much guarantee Obama's re-election.

The other thing that would pretty much guarantee Obama's re-election is Donald Trump running third party, which brings me to a pleading:

Please, please, please Ron Paul, don't run third party.

And please, please, please, Donald Trump, don't run third party.

But if any of you Green Party people want to run a candidate for President, please do so. That would take away votes from Obama, so that would be cool.

I don't know if this political stuff is interesting to you. It's interesting to me. But so are a lot of other things, and I think I'll concern myself with some of those other things now. See you later.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm excited about the election in Iowa today

Dear Readers,

I'm really excited about the election in Iowa today. I hope Mitt Romney wins.

Ron Paul should do well, but he's crazy, so, even if he wins Iowa, he won't win America.

And according to recent polls, Rick Santorum should come in second or third or fourth place. Who knows, maybe he'll come in first. I actually really like Rick Santorum. I've wondered why he hasn't done well in the polls up until now. And he should do well in Iowa, because he's such a socially conservative guy and Iowans are such socially conservative people. A lot of small-town Protestant tea-party people don't trust Mitt Romney, but they like Rick Santorum. One problem with Rick, though, is that he hasn't had much scrutiny placed on him thus far. Not many pundits and reporters have placed much attention on him, because he was always near the bottom of the pack. Who knows what skeletons he has in his closet? Plus, Santorum might be too conservative to win the general election. And, he lost as an incumbent Senator in Pennsylvania, and that never looks good.

To me, Santorum seems like the latest anti-Romney. Romney's the inevitable Republican nominee, and I think that's great. Can we all just skip the primaries and go straight to the general election?

Wow, man, it's really happening... the election in Iowa.

I've never been to Iowa, but it sounds like a great place. Small towns, slaughterhouses, lots of hunting and fishing, farms farms farms, churches churches churches and corn fields. Of course, a lot of people are moving out of Iowa. For one reason or another, people are leaving small towns all over America, and congregating in cities. Look, I did it too. I live in a suburb of Phoenix. I blame the government for this population shift. I think the government killed the small family farm lifestyle with laws, regulations, the EPA, you know, uh... government people from San Francisco did it. And that's a shame, because rural people tend to be more conservative, and more conservative people tend to be... uh... right.

I just read this article from a liberal college professor in Iowa, talking about his fellow Iowans. He belittles the simple-mindedness that comes from what he calls a lack of diversity. He condescendingly talks about their love of NASCAR, pot-luck dinners, and Christianity.

Here's a quote from the article that lets you know where the author stands:

Whether a schizophrenic, economically-depressed, and some say, culturally-challenged state like Iowa should host the first grassroots referendum to determine who will be the next president isn't at issue.

And another quote:

After years and years of in-your-face religion, I decided to give what has become an annual lecture, in which I urge my students not to bid strangers "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Easter," "Have you gotten all your Christmas shopping done?" or "Are you going to the Easter egg hunt?" Such well-wishes are not appropriate for everyone, I tell my charges gently. A cheery "Happy holidays!" will suffice. Small potatoes, I know, but did everyone have to proclaim their Christianity so loud and clear?

I remember the same sort of cultured city-slicker attitude from one of my old college professors, Dr. Jean Boreen, in the English department at Northern Arizona University. She was from Iowa, I think. She came from a good Christian family, presumably with small-town Christian roots (It's difficult to be from Iowa and not be from a small town) but somewhere along the line she got really really liberal. She was a great teacher, to be sure. She knew her stuff and taught it well. Hers was one of the most challenging and rewarding classes, actually. But she also made it no secret that she loves gay marriage and the atheistic Golden Compass books and fighting AIDS in Africa via condom-dispensation and a host of other liberal causes.

But I got sidetracked. What I really wanted to tell you was that one time Dr. Boreen told us this story about when she was a high school English teacher in Iowa. She said there was a young man in her class who was horrible in English, who hated school, and who just wanted to be a farmer. Mrs. Boreen tried her darnedest to get him to learn, but alas, this young man just wanted to be a farmer like his daddy and his grand-daddy. He didn't want to be inside no school-house reading no books. He wanted to be outside a-huntin' and a-fishin' or a-whomp-whomp-whompin' in a big ol' John Deere tractor-machine!

Well, eventually Mrs. Boreen had to learn that it was impossible to reach every kid. Some kids just don't want to be in school, and you can't agonize over it. There are a bunch of other kids in your class who need a teacher's care and attention. So the boy dropped out of school and became a farmer. And it broke Mrs. Boreen's heart that her dramatic read-alouds, lively lectures, and intriguing grammar worksheets couldn't get this kid to like English. End of story.

And really, who turned out better, the farmer boy, or Dr. Boreen?

Who says that education is all it's cracked up to be? Who says that everyone ought to stay in school? If my daughter wanted to drop out of school and become a farmer, well, I'd probably say that's fine. Really. I mean, as long as she could read and write at a high-school level, and do a little bit of arithmetic, and had the discipline to pursue her interests, well, what's the problem with that? The world needs farmers, and if you're happy farming, well then go ahead and farm!

I would also emphasize to my daughter, if she wanted to drop out of school, that it's more important to be good than it is to be educated.

But Dr. Boreen had such a condescending attitude about the young man who just wanted to be a farmer. The high road, the noble path, in Dr. Boreen's mind, was to be a bookworm, a teacher-pleaser, a liberal, a college student, a teacher, or maybe an Occupy Wall Street protestor, and maybe even eventually the creme-d-la-creme, a college professor.

So, Iowans, I tip my hat to you. You are a part of America, you are the heart of America, and you have just as much right to voice your opinion as the folks who write the newspapers in the coastal cities. Don't let liberal college professors stop you from being you. Keep on slaughtering those cows, keep on growing that corn, keep on going to church, and keep your rural way of life going as best you can.

Oh, and vote for Mitt Romney.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa