Monday, April 20, 2015

MINI MISSIONARY LESSON: WHY GIRLS CAN’T HAVE THE PRIESTHOOD

With the lowering of the mission age, the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer is doing its part to help train young men for the rigors and blessings of doing God’s work. As part of this effort, Elder Kory Anton, who is hoping to clear things up and return to the mission field very soon, offers his insights to help others prepare.

Believe it or not, sometimes people ask missionaries questions that just seem so obvious that you might not know what to say. Never fear. Here are some tips for dealing with what some missionaries erroneously call “tough questions.” These are all pretty easy when you think about it. Today’s question is:

Why Can’t Girls Have the Priesthood?

Sincere investigators just know that God doesn’t want girls to have the priesthood or He would have given it to them by now. But sometimes descent investigators can seem mixed up about this issue, so here’s what you do: you remind them that men and women have different gender roles. Women get to have babies and are naturally kinder, more nurturing, more loving, and can tolerate being at home watching television while the kids nap before they make your dinner. Men are powerful fighters and warriors who are not as kind or nurturing and cannot stand kids for too long. Women are also naturally so close to God that they don’t need the priesthood, but warrior men need everything that they can get so that they don’t constantly kill everyone. These gender roles are as eternal and unchanging as the commandments and laws so that no matter what culture or time you are in they apply everywhere. Just like how Jesus actually drank grape juice because he was living the Word of Wisdom because it is an eternal law, so women have never had the priesthood, have never blessed or anointed the sick, have never laid hands on people or animals to heal them, and have never been called prophets. Never! 

Insincere investigators might say that the view that men and women have essential characteristics is sexism. They claim that gender roles depend on society and that using these roles causes one to pre-judge people and could even distort how you see a man or a woman. Remember that playing the sexism card is one of Satan’s many tricks to destroy the family and the Proclamation, and those investigators are just stony ground where the true gospel seeds will never grow.

Final Warning

Now some missionaries may reject the eternal truths given above. Such missionaries might believe that women getting the priesthood is like blacks getting the priesthood, but those issues are totally different. Totally! Missionaries who lose faith in the eternal truth about gender roles might be tempted to say that they don’t really know why girls don’t have the priesthood. Answers like that make missionaries seem weak, making you seem like you don’t have all of the answers. Investigators must trust that you know everything if you are going to actually convince them that the church is true. Don’t fall into the trap of saying things like “I don’t know” or “I encourage you to ask a variety of wonderful women at church,” since you don’t know what they will say. To be a trustworthy, confident man, you must answer clearly and absolutely.

Taking the above approach is sure to keep you on the solid, sturdy ground of the eternal truths of gender roles and that women have never and will never do any priesthood-like things.

Best of Luck,

Elder Cory Anton

Monday, April 13, 2015

“NONPRODUCTIVE” GAY AREA MAN ONE OF WARD’S HARDEST WORKING MEMBERS

Meal provided by “nonproductive” Brother Weaver
Fort Wayne, IN—Gay area ward member Travis Weaver, in spite of never marrying or producing children, happens to be one of the hardest working members of his congregation.

Travis has been very active in the Fort Wayne South ward since returning from his mission to Brazil almost 11 years ago. Since that time Travis has served in the Elders Quorum and Young Men presidencies and also spent 3 years as the early morning seminary teacher. Travis did this while completing his engineering degree at Indiana Institute of Technology and securing a great job in his field.

“Travis has a really demanding job, and he travels quite a bit,” said David Madison, first counselor in the Elders Quorum, “but he is one of our most trustworthy and diligent home teachers.” Madison quickly added that “he does a lot for the ward, and it is just too bad that he can’t find the right woman and have children.”

Madison, like most members of Travis Weaver’s ward, doesn’t know that Travis does not find women sexually attractive. Though Weaver has dated women from time-to-time, he has never felt right, personally, about a mixed-orientation marriage.

“Since really no one knows I’m gay,” explained Weaver, “I have to hear some pretty ugly things from time-to-time.” Weaver noted that in a recent Sunday School class, the topic of “worldly standards and permissiveness” prompted comments like “homosexuality is a sin and affliction because it makes people nonproductive when it comes to what really matters—the family and having children.”  Other class members said things like “from the very beginning God made men and women to be creative and have children.” This comment made Weaver laugh inside, as he reflected on how every scriptural Creation story only includes men as the creators.

Weaver, in part because of comments like those, has never thought it wise to tell ward members about his sexual orientation. Instead he has spent his adult years serving the people of his ward with unmeasured compassion, finding that he is lifting and lifted by those around him. When asked about comments like how gay people are “nonproductive,” Weaver said, “oh, yah, that nice sister who said that, well, I just figure she just doesn’t know better. One thing I do know is this: when she had a baby a few years ago, her family loved the beef Wellington with a green peppercorn sauce that I took over.”  

Monday, April 6, 2015

PROVO REVEALED TO BE HUGE POTEMKIN VILLAGE

This may be little more than pasteboard and scotch tape!
Provo, UT—Tipped off by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Priesthood session talk, officials looking into allegations have confirmed that Provo “is indeed one massive Potemkin village.” Officials said that “from the ‘mighty’ Provo river to the ‘majestic’ Utah lake, it is all one gigantic sham.”

Officials reported that they had heard rumors about Provo’s fundamental artificiality for years. “Sure,” said one unnamed source, “I had heard the first day I came to Utah that unless you are on heavy doses of anti-depressants it is physically impossible to have actual, real fun at Seven Peaks or to even happily shop at the mall, but I had no idea about the scope of the deception.”

In spite of persistent rumors, officials had never followed up on them until Uchtdorf mentioned a town specifically trying to deceive passersby. When those officials took a closer look, they found that the entire city of Provo “was as real and true as the health benefits of vitamins or aromatherapy or promises of making ‘good money’ selling Vivint security systems over the summer.”

Some of the artificiality seemed to be centered on Brigham Young University’s campus. Said one official, “we found that what were called ‘Religious Education’ classes were often little more than watered-down Sunday School lessons with a thin veneer of actual academic rigor.” Other officials noted that “while some seemed to get something like a real education at the school, the entire university seems to be little more than a massive Mormon singles meet-and-greet.” The university’s artificiality is even evident in its architecture. In the words of another official, “first, I don’t know how you call a 12 story building a ‘tower,’ second, that art building looks like a rejected Frank Lloyd Wright sham design for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and finally, that dull, boring, granite business building looks like the empty box that the Salt Lake Temple came in!”

Not all passersby were fooled by Provo’s façade. When asked about the town which many call a “city set on a hill” and a “light to the world,” Salt Lake City resident Preston Nielson said that “yah, Provo is as real as the profits generated by Nu Skin and that Noni company!” Nielson went on to allege that “the entire town seems built on the municipal equivalent of the idea that one’s obedience buys them salvation.” Nielson himself is proud to be from a “real” place and to have graduated from a “real university,” the University of Utah, famous home of Stanley Pons and cold fusion.

Monday, March 30, 2015

CHURCH ISSUES PROOFREADING TOOLS FOR YW SEXUAL PURITY LESSONS

Salt Lake City, UT—The Church has issued proofreading tools for those Young Women leaders who might be working on lessons dealing with sexual purity. The tools are meant to help such leaders review key concepts and perhaps pinpoint lesson planning errors.

Male/Female P: This proofreading mark designates parts of a lesson where a leader might erroneously assume that pornography is only a male problem. The male and female symbols in the letter “p” remind a leader that young women can be just as curious and turned on as boys are by sexually explicit material. Leaders who believe that pornography is exclusively a male problem risk making young women who struggle with this issue feel additional isolation and shame.

Shackle?: This proofreading mark reminds those preparing a lesson that not all sexual struggles are addictions. This mark is especially useful for those who might conflate occasion pornography use with habitual pornography dependence.

Male Gaze: As some leaders might place too much emphasis on how a young woman’s actions might affect a male viewer, this symbol crosses out that male gaze. While young women can be aware of the signals they may send to others, including young men, women should not live lives dictated by what men may or may not see.

The T and Warning:Fear: These two symbols work well together when proofreading a sexual purity lessons. The scroll with a letter “T” is to remind instructors to use the truth as clearly and fully as possible. Telling that truth can mean being honest about struggles as well as success without being sensationalistic. It can mean affirming how powerful, pleasurable, and bonding physical affection can be as well as discussing some of the heartache that it can bring. The warning triangle with “fear” in it is to warn against using fear as a way to emotionally threaten or otherwise coerce young women to live the law of chastity.

A most obvious example of using fear in just such a way is the case of a woman from Cedar City, Utah who made cross stitches for all of her young women that said “if you have sex before marriage you’ll get syphilis and die.” The T and the Warning: Fear tools would have been ideal in the planning stages of this erroneous sexual purity message. In addition, these proofreading tools alert lesson planners to where they may feel tempted to use fear or manipulation—the devil’s tools—to do the Lord’s work.

Toast: This symbol, which is meant to show a piece of toast, could also be chewed gum, a cupcake with the icing licked off, or a flower without its petals. All of these are common symbols or metaphors for a woman whose sexual experimentation has “gone so far” that she is no longer considered “pure” by some. These very destructive, short-sighted, and erroneous comparisons use fear (see above), reinforce shame, convey the idea that God and others will no longer consider them worthy of love and connection, and undercut the very Atonement that is the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dynamite: This proofreading tool is used to point out where teachers can insert messages that will make young women feel powerful. Many of the symbols above show errors that could make women feel afraid or powerless with relation to their bodies and the amazing things that their bodies can do. This symbol shows areas where instructors can encourage young women to love and feel deeply grateful for their bodies and what those bodies can do. It can also point to places in the lesson where instructors can encourage young women to consider how the power and pleasure that their bodies offer them can be used to bless their lives. Women who take ownership for their bodies and love and appreciate their bodies can then consider how they can use their bodies to bless the lives of others. With those ideas in mind, young women can set their own standards for how they will use such God-given blessings.

Monday, March 23, 2015

CLEARPLAY ANNOUNCES NEW CLEARPLAYSCRIPTURES

Salt Lake City, UT—ClearPlay has announced its latest service: ClearPlayScriptures. As with its famous service for movies, ClearPlayScriptures removes the vulgarity, sensuality, nudity, violence, substance abuse, and other offensive elements from holy writ.

According to their website, “whether it’s personal scripture study, family home evening with the kids, or a talk or lesson, ClearPlayScriptures has you protected.” 

The alterations that ClearPlayScriptures makes are obvious from the first chapters of Genesis, including “modest outfits” for Adam and Eve as well as Cain “finding some alone time” and “getting a tan” instead of killing his brother, fleeing, and being cursed.

“I’m just thrilled with this service,” said Jenna from Provo. “When it was family scripture study time, and there we were with 4 year-old Khyileë and 2 year-old Pyler, I was so glad when we got to the story of Nephi getting the plates to see that ClearPlayScriptures had filtered it so that Nephi finds Laban, takes him home, offers powerful testimony of the Word of Wisdom, and then Laban and his whole family are converted.” Jenna added, “when Laban wept as he tearfully gave Nephi the plates and said goodbye to his trusted friend Zoram, well I knew that heaven had blessed my family with scriptures free of anything troubling or contentious.”

ClearPlay’s website has numerous testimonials of people ecstatic about this new service. As Troy from Logan puts it, “it is so refreshing to be able to read the scriptures without your finger on the page ready to turn immediately when you find something inappropriate.” Troy could be responding positively to filters where Joseph’s brothers throw him a surprise birthday party, Jezebel encourages devotion and modesty as her and Ahab serve as mission presidents, and Jonah not only converts all of the sailors but even the fish were “moved upon by the Spirit.” 

Jacob from Springville also loves the service, saying that he would like to “thank all of the folks that make the filters and the engineers/current Seminaries and Institutes employees who make this possible!” Jacob said that the change in Lehi’s speech, specifically when he says “for it must needs be that there is an opposition against all bad things” helped him to see that “removing all traces of struggle and whatever makes us uncomfortable” is clearly what good people should constantly do.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TOP 10 REJECTED MUTUAL YOUTH THEMES

For every “O Ye that Embark in the Service of God,” there are thousands of rejected mutual youth themes every year. Here are only 10 of them. Please feel free to add more in the comments. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

POINT: SISTER MISSIONARY EMAIL HOME / COUNTERPOINT: ELDER (MALE) MISSIONARY EMAIL HOME

POINT: SISTER MISSIONARY LETTER HOME

Sister Kaylee Snow, Toronto Mission
Sister Snow last Fall (though she has
sent 43 pictures home in the last 2 weeks.)

Hello Family!

This was another week when I felt the Lord’s hand in this great work. I’m learning to pay attention to His promptings, and I know that He is leading my path. The most difficult day was Thursday. Of course it was snowing, but I had the strongest impression that we should go visit Claire. I had it when I woke up and then when I was getting dressed. When I studied with my companion Sister Hovey I said, “Sister Hovey, how much do you trust me?” She of course said, “I completely trust you—where do you think we should go?!?!” We visited people all day in spite of the terrible weather. What made it a difficult day was that we didn’t see any results. I have no idea why we had to be out in the cold all day, but we did and I guess that the Lord will accept our sacrifice. I’m grateful for Sister Hovey and the love, faith, and trust she places in me. She has been such a blessing for me, and such an instrument in God’s hands for me.

We were richly blessed in other ways this week. We felt the Spirit powerfully witness to us as we testified of the Book of Mormon. We did service this week working at a retirement facility, helping a lady move out of her house, we heart attacked the ward mission leader’s house for his birthday, made and delivered goodies to a less active family, cleaned up a lady's yard, visited someone who needed a visit, and my favorite: helped someone regrout their bathroom. It all helped me to realize that if you want to love someone YOU HAVE TO SERVE THEM! 

I know I have said this before, but tell Powell that he needs to start to read Preach My Gospel NOW so that he can be ready to serve in just 6 short years. He’s a Deacon now, and those teachings will help him avoid temptation and hit the ground running when he gets to his mission.

Mom and Dad, have the courage to take a Book of Mormon with you wherever you go. If you have faith like Ammon you will know who to offer it to. Also, Mom and Dad, please extend this invitation to the ward. Tell them to email me to tell me how it went. I want to hear from EVERYONE!

Love,

Sister Snow



COUNTERPOINT: ELDER (MALE) MISSIONARY EMAIL LETTER HOME

Elder Mike Burnson, Tampa Florida Mission
(Elder Burnson, in spite of his
mother giving him a camera
and pleading with him to send
pictures, has only sent 4 pictures
in the 17 months he has been
serving in Florida)

good week taught some people and stuff. this week I got a really cool ralph lauren green suit for free and tailored and everything for free it is super dope. this morning we played some racquetball and then we played some BBall so I am worn out.  Love ya, have a great day!

love,

Mike

Monday, March 2, 2015

"LDS" BLOGGER COMPLETES TRANSITION FROM FAITH TO CYNICISM

Jensen's Vote for Next LDS Church Leader
Salt Lake City, UT—James Jensen, the blogger behind MormonVistas, has completed his transition from the faith that initially inspired his online work to the cynicism that now typifies his blog’s “truth seeking.”

“It has been quite the faith transition,” Jensen recently reflected in the podcast that accompanies his blog. “Where I used to just believe everything I heard and read from the church, now I can see that it is all sanitized and whitewashed milk that keeps Mormons weak and subservient to the church’s massive PR machine.”

Jensen’s faith transition can perhaps best be measured by the change in what follows this phrase: “If they would only.” When MormonVistas started, Jensen often wrote about how “if members would only” followed by phrases like “serve one another” or “put in a little more effort to magnify their callings” after which Jensen often wrote that, “wards and branches would run better.”

But over time Jensen’s faith in those principles was first challenged by suspicions and then completely replaced by an unmitigated cynicism toward Mormon leaders, practices, and culture. Now Jensen’s website and podcast often feature “if members would only” followed by “see how the church is all about power” or “look past the façade to see what is really going on.”

An example of Jensen’s overwhelmingly cynical approach is a recent post about how “Modesty Creates Sexual Violence.” In the post, Jensen describes grudgingly attending the missionary farewell of a distant cousin. During that meeting, a “charming and talented young woman” gave a “boilerplate, clichéd talk” about personal struggles, the death of a close friend, and finding her faith amid uncertainty. After talking about her struggles to set her own boundaries for sexual expression, the young woman remarked, seemingly parenthetically, that she was “grateful for modesty standards that help her see and then feel in control of the signals her clothes and body send.” From this remark Jensen wrote a 700 word tirade about the oppressive nature of modesty teachings in the LDS church, teaching that, according to Jensen, “commodify women’s bodies, turn them into objects, and perpetuate sexual violence.”  Where in years past Jensen may have found inspiration or expressed at least a balance of sympathy and suspicion for what this unsuspecting young woman had said, he now finds nothing but the nefarious “power workings” of the “whited sepulcher” and “evil empire” that is the LDS church and its culture.

If asked about the post, the young woman would have no idea what Jensen was saying. Jensen himself would find pride in his brave “truth seeking” and “truth speaking.”

Though MormonVistas is now consistently “revealing” the shortcomings and hypocrisies of the Mormon Church, Jensen has recently written several positive posts about the man who now seems to be the patron saint of liberal and/or disaffected Mormons: Pope Francis.

Monday, February 23, 2015

RECENTLY ENGAGED AREA MAN DISCOVERS WHOLE NEW WORLD OF CHURCH MEETINGS

Map of Nearly 2 hour Drive Probert will be Asked to Take
for a Devotional with an Apostle
Hattiesburg, MS—Since getting engaged to Melissa Stevenson, area man Michael Probert has discovered a whole new world of LDS church meetings. Probert, who joined the church at the end of his senior year at Mississippi State, did not serve a mission, and in the 5 years since becoming a member had only really been exposed to the 3 hour block of Sunday meetings.

“I’ve been the second counsellor in my ward’s Sunday School Presidency for over two years,” said Probert, “but it has only been since I got engaged that I have learned that there are two hour Stake Auxiliary Training meetings every six months.” Auxiliary Training meeting is not the only church get together that is new for Probert.  “Oh, yah, last month Melissa had us go to the Saturday evening adult session of Stake Conference, so, yah, that was another new meeting.” 

Probert, who previously found the 3 hour Sunday block “rather longish” compared with the Methodist church he attended as a youth, recently “discussed” his ever-expanding schedule of church meetings with his lovely fiancée. For her part, Stevenson expressed the joy she felt seeing her parents attend their various church meetings “several times each month beyond just Sundays.” While cherishing his lovely “bride-to-be’s experiences,” Probert expressed his desire to use each “entire Saturday” to prepare for Sunday. Both agreed to “table the issue for now” and make out.

Though Probert is very, very happy with Stevenson, he still does not realize that in 4 months he will be asked to drive 2 hours each way to Mobile, Alabama on a Wednesday evening for a special 2 hour devotional with Elder Holland nor does he yet know that, come April, there are Saturday sessions of General Conference he’ll be asked to watch with Stevenson. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 CHURCH LEADER VALENTINES

As we have done for years, okay two years, here are the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer's Church Leader Valentines: (oh, and these are the Valentines from last year and the year before)



Monday, February 9, 2015

RECENTLY RETURNED MISSIONARY’S ONLY EXPERIENCE OF ACCEPTANCE, COMPASSION COMES FROM SPANISH BRANCH

Unofficial Spanish Branch Clock
Rochester, NY—Since returning from his mission to La Paz, Bolivia, Elder James Maywood’s only lasting experiences of acceptance and compassion have come at the South Rochester Spanish branch.

“Of course I loved coming home,” said Maywood, “but it seems like I had hardly unpacked before my dad started getting on me about getting a job and mom started to talk about grandkids.” As the third of four children, Maywood is the only to serve a mission, and, according to his mother, her “only chance of holding a sweet, precious little grandbaby any time soon.”

Pressure from home has not been Maywood’s only stressor. As he puts it, “when I tried to go to a Young Single Adult activity, everyone just seemed so judgmental and so into music and movies that I don’t have a clue about, that, you know, I just felt out-of-place and like I can’t compete!”  Maywood noted that so many young women seemed unimpressed if not disappointed in him.

These experiences stand in the starkest contrast with the acceptance and compassion he has felt in the Spanish branch. “So the Branch President asked me to speak in church,” explained Maywood, “and after the talk everyone wanted to talk with me and told me how much they liked what I said.” Maywood added that “of course several older sisters gave me the warmest hugs, and one even said that I reminded her of the elders who had baptized her.”

It wasn’t just by way of his talk in church that Maywood has felt an outpouring of love from branch members. Maywood elaborated that “when I stopped by for a home teaching visit I just felt like a member of the family, but a family that isn’t harassing me all of the time.” Maywood also said that he thoroughly enjoys joking with ward members about differences in Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary in members from different places. As he puts it, “joking with Brother Morales about how Cubans sound like they have a potato in their mouths or how Chileans must be allergic to the letter ‘s’ is actually really fun for all of us.” Maywood added that “they love to tease me about my Bolivian accent and words, and how I sound like a ‘Bolivian gringo’.” 

Maywood believes that branch members offer so much seemingly unqualified love and acceptance in part because he took time to serve Spanish-speaking saints and to learn their language and customs. Maywood also noted that, “oh, and I think that we all feel a certain bond of affection and acceptance when we all arrive about 15 minutes late for everything!” 

Monday, February 2, 2015

TOP 10 REJECTED ESPECIALLY FOR YOUTH CLASSES

It is that time of year when families are signing their kids up to pick pineapple in Hawaii, planning visits to see their children in state and federal correctional facilities, or registering them for Especially for Youth. The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer is happy to present the top 10 rejected EFY classes. Enjoy!