Tuesday, April 27, 2010

LDS Meeting Houses Might Be Going Green

The LDS Church might be going green by building environmentally friendly chapels. The LDS Church has unveiled a new chapel in Farmington, Utah that will have solar panels on the roof. 
Although the Church has sporadically enganged in earth friendly practices, this might be the new wave of church buildings in the future:  
The LDS Church has long used conservation practices in its buildings — deploying overhangs and verandas to reduce heat load in its structures throughout the world beginning in the 1950s, as well as using a system of several underground spring wells in the early 1970s to enhance the Church Office Building's cooling and heating system.
A meetinghouse in Susanville, Calif., has been totally heated by geothermal energy since the 1980s, and the conversion of the Vernal Tabernacle into the Vernal Temple in the mid-1990s featured reuse and recyle efforts. Based on the church's current "Heritage-T" design, the Farmington prototype has yet to be approved as a standard for the church.
"The early results are so overwhelming that it won't take long to determine where we're going on this," said Bishop Burton. "It's another step in our program to be environmentally responsible."
What are you feelings about the LDS Church's effort to create environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings? 

2010 Elections: Predicting Which LDS Politician Stays Or Leaves Office

Here are the following predictions about the current LDS politicians who are running in the 2010 Elections.

1. Senator Bob Bennett
 I predict LDS Senator Bob Bennett will not win despite winning an endorsement from Mitt Romney. Many people feel that his voting record reveals that he is not conservative enough. A recent poll was conducted which put him in third place behind two contenders who are seeking his seat: 
A new Salt Lake Tribune poll of Republican delegates shows Bennett running in third, behind GOP challengers Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. Lee logged 37 percent support in the survey, while Bridgewater came in at 20 percent, and Bennett lagged at 16 percent.
2. Senator Harry Reid
This prediction isn't too hard to make either since I've already discussed Harry's low poll numbers. The Senate Majority Leader will not be returning back to Washington D.C. He's trailing badly behind Sue Lowden.
3. Senator Mike Crapo
Republican Senator Mike Crapo will win the 2010 election since he is doing very well in the polls despite the fact that he is facing Democrat and Republican challengers to his Senate seat. I can't find any poll numbers to back up my claim but I'm fairly confident in my prediction.
4.  Jim Matheson
Senator Jim Matheson is being challenged by a fellow democrat named Claudia Wright and is also facing three Republican, two independent and one Constitution Party challenger to the Senate seat. I predict that Jim Matheson will be reelected. Again, I have no poll numbers to support that prediction but I'm feeling pretty good about it.
If you know any other LDS politician who is up for election, please let me know and I'll add it to my list of predictions for 2010.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Book of Mormon: A Broadway Musical!?

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of "South Park" are about to unveil a new Broadway musical in New York City next year in which it will be about the Book of Mormon. They plan to tell the history of the LDS Church through a pair of missionaries serving in Uganda.

Some Mormons are thrilled with this news: 
"I realize we believe things that are crazy and unbelievable to outsiders," says Loyd Ericson, a Mormon studying philosophy at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. "I'm willing to laugh at my culture and beliefs."
Plus, he says, Stone and Parker are smart enough to know that a mean-spirited production isn't going to attract a big audience. After all, they have gone down the Mormon road before on their long-running television show, Ericson says, and each time the topic has been handled in a critical but affectionate manner. 
In one scene, people of diverse faiths are engulfed in hell's flames when Satan tells them, Mormons had the true religion. Another season featured a team of faith leaders, including Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad, taking on the magician David Blaine, who wants to start a religion. LDS Church founder Joseph Smith is among them, "the super friends," as the show is titled.
Then there is one entire episode, "All About the Mormons," which tells the story of a LDS kid who comes to town. He tells his new friends how the church began, a history that is spoofed as "dumb." But the boy, his parents and siblings, Ericson says, are portrayed as loving alternatives to some of the dysfunctional families around them.
The main character in Stone and Parker's 1997 feature film, "Orgazmo," was an LDS missionary who becomes a porn star but uses a stunt double in the sex scenes so he can marry his sweetheart in an LDS temple. 
"Even in that movie," Ericson says, "Mormons were seen as kind of gullible, good-natured people trying to do what's best."
I have no objections either.

When Mormon filmakers tried to go Hollywood and gave us The Book of Mormon: The Movie, it was a flop. 

However, Matt Stone and Trey Parkers just might be the guys to help the LDS Church go mainstream and get people to learn more about our faith.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gen. Petreus' Top 10 Reasons BYU Grads Make Great Soldiers

At first, I thought this was a top ten list created by David Letterman. However, General David Petreus actually came up with 10 funny reasons why Mormons make great soldiers:  
10 — They have already been on many a mission.
9 — Army chow is no problem for folks accustomed to eating green Jell-o and shredded carrots.
8 — It's not a problem if they don't know what rank someone is, they just refer to them as Brother or Sister so-and-so.
7 — They never go AWOL. They just call it being less active.
6 — They will seize any objective swiftly if you tell them refreshments will be served.
5 — They know how to make things happen. In fact if you ever need a base built quickly in a barren wasteland, stride out to where you want them to start, plant your walking stick down and say in a loud voice, "This is the place."
4 — They have innovative ideas for handling insurgents — like assigning them home teachers.
Story continues below
3 — They always have a years' supply of provisions on hand.
2 — They are the world's most reliable designated drivers.
1 — They understand how far Iraq has come over the last seven years, and they think that Iraq's old spot in the "Axis of Evil" can now be filled by the University of Utah.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mormons Are More Likely To Read The Bible During The Week Than Are Protestants or Catholics

While doing some research about a certain Bible topic, I somehow came across this gem online. Its a list of the most interesting findings of 2001 as announced by The Barna Group, a pro-Christian research firm.
1. Among adults who have been married, born again Christians and non-Christians have essentially the same probability of divorce.
2. Mormons are more likely to read the Bible during the week than are Protestants or Catholics.
3. Adults who attend charismatic or Pentecostal churches were more likely to possess biblical beliefs than were those attending other Protestant and Catholic churches.
4. By the end of the decade, 50 million Americans will seek to have their spiritual experience solely through the Internet, rather than at a church; and upwards of 100 million Americans will rely upon the Internet to deliver some aspects of their religious experience.
5. Roman Catholics represent the second-largest denominational group of born again Christians in the nation - trailing the Southern Baptists, but way ahead of Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others
6. Although one-third of all born again adults claim to tithe their income, only 12% actually do so.
7. Just half of all home schooling parents are born again Christians.
It was nice to find this little gem.
I just finished reading the entire Bible last year.
Do you read the Bible? How often?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The True Meaning of Easter

The video nicely demonstrates how the Savior suffered for all mankind and how Christ showed himself to people on both sides of the world.

The Bible and The Book of Mormon contain accounts of Christ using his own body as evidence of the reality of the Resurrection. Consider the Biblical account of Christ showing Himself to His apostles after the resurrection:
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And he took it, and did eat before them.
 Luke 24: 39-43
There is also the account in the Book of Mormon of Christ showing His body as evidence of the resurrection:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bible Wars

One of the well known theological disagreements between Christians and Latter Day Saints is the Book of Mormon. Revelation 22:18 is often cited by Christians as biblical "proof" that there can’t be a Book of Mormon because of the belief that nothing should be "added to" or "taken away from" the Holy Bible.
Yet, there is a Bible war among Christians over which Bible is the correct one. 
For example, there is the King James Only movement in which some Christians believe that the King James Version (KJV) is the only true version of the Bible. In fact, some even go far as to argue that only the 1611 version of the Bible is the only true Bible and that other versions of the KJV, such as the New King James Bible (NKJV), are not.
Yet, other Christians don't believe in the idea that the KJV is the only true Bible. Pastor Steve Weaver, in his criticism of the KJV only movement, said something that caught my eye:
"One of the favorite verses used by advocates of King James Onlyism is Revelation 22:18-19..."
Hmmm. I've heard Revelations 22:18-19 being used against the Book of Mormon. But this is the first I've ever seen that passage used against...the Bible.

For a Mormon, its fascinating to see debates over which particular bible translation is "adding" or "taking away" from the Bible.
Adding Or Taking Away: Bible Translations
The reason why I find this amusing is because the criteria for accepting or rejecting a book is based on Revelations 22:18-19, then critics of the Book of Mormon are unfair and intellectually dishonest. Why? Because most Christian denominations are united or are in agreement in their rejection of Book of Mormon based on the same passage of the Bible, but are not united in agreement which version of the Bible is true.
Although all Christians accept the Bible, they're just not sure which one does or doesn't "add" or "take away" from the Bible.
Looking around the Internet, its clear that the debate over the which Bible edition or translation is the correct one is quite fierce. For example, you'll find that some believe that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is "corrupt."

Others do not like the New International Version (NIV) and believe that it is a "perversion" of the Holy Bible. There are those who believe that The New American Standard Version (NASV) is not the "true" word of God.

The Today's New International Version (TNIV) is under criticism because it attempted make the Bible gender neutral and as a result, this is a distortion of the Bible.

There are those who are just unhappy with the Message Translation.

Even translations that have been offered by different faiths are under criticism.
For example, there are some who have issues with the Jehovah's Witness translation of the Bible, the New World Translation (NWT). A Christian website wonders aloud if the New World Translation is "valid" version of the Bible while another site claims that the Jehovah's Witnesses have changed the Bible to "suit its own theological bias."
Another example would be the criticism towards Joseph Smith's treatment of the Bible. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ) calls it the Inspired Version of the Bible (I.V.) where as the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints call it the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).

As you can see, no Bible is safe from Christian critics. 
The truth is that the Old Testament and New Testament has always been under constant revision ever since the beginning of recorded scripture. For example, the earliest known editing of the Bible comes in the form of the Documentary hypothesis which  holds that the first five books of Moses were later edited and redacted by unknown scribes or writers.

 Even Liberals and Conservatives Have Their Own Books!
Furthermore, its not just different religious groups that have their own Bible. Even people with certain political or social beliefs have their own "Bible". For example, some environmentalists have the Green Bible.

On the other side of the political spectrum, there is a small minority of conservatives who believe that the Bible has been edited with a liberal bias. As a result, the Conservative Bible Project was born because they want go back to a more politically pure Bible by making it more "conservative." Naturally, there are some Christians who aren't amused by the idea that the Bible needs to be "edited" for its proper political slant.

Even a famous politician such as president Thomas Jefferson edited his own Bible.
Adding Or Taking Away: How Many Books In The Bible?
Not all Bibles are the same. Some denominations have "extra" books in their Bibles. For example, Jeff Lindsay, an LDS apologist points out that
"the Roman Catholic Bible now has about twelve books more than the Protestant Bible, meaning that about 200 pages of text have been "subtracted" - one could say - from the Protestant Bible relative to the "traditional" Catholic Bible."(Source.)
There are other Bibles that have extra books that are not found in most European versions such as the Armenian Bible or the Ethiopic Bible.
Missing Books In The Bible: Adding Or Taking Away?
A final issue is that the Bible as we know it today may not be complete. In fact, there is a long list of non-canonical books referenced in the Bible. This means that there are books, prophecies, quotes and allusions that are not in the Bible. As a result, there is a fierce debate over missing Bible verses or how many books are in the Bible.
I came across a website created by a Christian named Dr. Paul Richardson who made this statement about the missing Books in the Bible:
 "I really wish I had these missing books. I would love to read them, wouldn't you?"
The Book of Mormon is just like the Bible. There are sacred writings mentioned in Book Of Mormon that are not found in the text. Here are a few examples: the teachings of King Benjamin, the words of Amulek and Alma. These words, along with some other writings, are missing from the Book of Mormon. 
Only God Edits The Scriptures
Only God can edit the scriptures. It is authorized under the direction of the Lord himself through prophets.  For example, King Jehoiakim had "taken away" from the scripture by burning a roll written by Jeremiah . Yet, the Lord instructed him to rewrite the words that were destroyed. (See Jeremiah 36: 27-28).

We see clearly that the King had "taken away" from the Bible, and yet, the Lord told Jeremiah to "add" to the scriptures by restoring what the King had destroyed. Not only did God have Jeremiah to restore what was lost but the Lord told him there were more things to write!

The Book of Mormon is like the Bible in which God tells His servants what to write down or what not to write down. (see  2 Ne.4: 15, 2 Ne. 29: 11-12, 3 Ne. 27: 23-24 and 3 Ne. 28: 25)

Another example can be seen when God, foreknowing that Joseph Smith would lose 116 pages of translation of the Book of Mormon, inspired Mormon to include the small plates with the other golden plates. Once Joseph Smith lost the manuscript, the Lord simply restored that which was lost by instructed Joseph to translate those small plates since it had the same period of time as contained in the lost manuscript.
It is fascinating how some Christians criticize others about which Bible they are using and  yet, somehow, the Book of Mormon cannot be accepted because it is an extra scripture that violates Revelation 22:18-19
If Revelelation 22: 18-19 is the standard for which we judge the authenticity of scriptures and if the Bible can be accepted despite the various translations, editions, additions as well as subtractions, then the Book of Mormon should be accepted based on the same standard too because The Book of Mormon is just like the Bible.
Just a postscript: the dividing of the text into numbered chapters and verses as in the King James is “adding to” the Bible, as the original manuscripts do not have them. ;)