Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WRITERS, STAFF, EDITORS OF THE MORMON TABERNACLE ENQUIRER ASCEND INTO...SOMETHING

Like that but in Utah and it was only me looking
This is Carl. I, uh, work for the janitorial staff here at the Church Office building. Yah, so yesterday morning, I got here really early ‘cuz I like to get here early Monday morning, you know, start my week off right. I usually clean the offices in the basement first, and the lowest level of the basement is usually the dirtiest and that is where the offices are for the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer. I never know what I’m going to find in there. One week they had a goat, boxes of string cheese, eight track tapes, glue guns, and like four hundred Christmas trees with little blue Book of Mormon lights on them. And it was June. A few weeks later there was this really confused family of eight from Guatemala that I think someone bought off of the dark web or something. Lots of weird stuff!

So anyway yesterday morning I got there real early, and wouldn’t you know it they was all there. The editorial people, I mean all thirty-seven of them were in the conference room along with most of the reporters. Elder Kory Anton was in his office writing something, I think his letter to the First Presidency about getting back to his mission. Shania Bender was in from Ohio, Gene Dyer, and Hannah Shelton from New Hampshire. It was like they all decided to get to work super early, and it was super busy.

So right then I seen this huge light, you know like one of those spotlights for where there’s a new store opening or something. Yah, so there was this light, and the whole place was just all white and lit up. It’s usually kinda dark down there, you know, on account of there not being windows since it’s in the basement, but I tell you it was as bright as noon up in the President’s office. Then I heard some noise, but I couldn’t make out what it was. It was like really loud mumbling. So all of the journalists and the staff, and even the interns that just make hot chocolate and copies and stuff, well they was all looking and listening. And then they all had like these really meh looks on their face, you know like when you remember something you have to do but you don’t care either way.

So right after they started looking meh, suddenly they all sort of lifted up, floated out the doors, up the stairs, and then right up into the sky. I followed’m, but I could hardly keep up. By the time I got outside I could just see the last ones, you know, like Barley B. Bratt and some of the sports staff disappearing into the clouds. It was the craziest thing. 

I must’of been staring for a while, ‘cuz then there was two guys who looked like they were from the temple came and says to me, “ye man of Sandy, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” I told them that I thought that all of the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer people had, like, flown up to heaven, and they told me something like “these same…reporters and editors, which are taken up from you, um, I’m not sure they were going to heaven exactly.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

AREA MAN HOPING THAT MORE OBEDIENCE WILL SILENCE DEEP-SEATED FEARS, FEELINGS OF UNWORTHINESS, SHAME

“More obedience is always the answer
and will make it all clear, right?
Boca Raton, FL—Area man David Brill has unconsciously decided that more obedience, including more scripture reading, missionary work, and temple attendance, will silence his deep-seated fears and feelings of unworthiness and shame.

Brother Brill is known to everyone in the Boca Raton West ward as faithful and easy-going. “Oh, yah, nothing gets Dave down,” reported Jeremy Knowlton, his High Priest group leader. He continued that “Dave is just one of those stalwart saints, you know, doing whatever is asked without complaints or worries.”

What Brother Knowlton and others in the ward do not know, and what David Brill would scarcely admit to himself, is that recent events in his life and in the church have led to difficult questions. David’s elderly parents have drifting into an old age that has brought financial distress, sickness, and despair. Brother Brill often wonders why God would ask these humble, faithful people that he loves so much to pass through such pain.

Brother Brill’s suffering parents are not his only questions and fears. Years of committed church service always helped him feel safe and secure in the sense of place and purpose that the gospel gives him. But as he sees so many good people doing great service in other churches, the idea that he is in the “only true and living church” seems at least questionable. Brother Brill’s gnawing questions include wondering how God would only be leading Mormons and how everyone else could be in error.

Difficult questions like these as well as others have caused Brother Brill to feel adrift and sometimes even out of place at church. These questions, which he views as doubts that reveal a lack of faith, have also caused an unacknowledged sense of inadequacy, unworthiness, and even shame. These feelings have only been compounded by what he understands as God’s exacting standards of perfection and flawlessness.

Lacking the skills, perspective, network of trusted, wise friends, and assistance he needs to acknowledge, understand, and address his concerns, and finding no place to do so at church, Brother Brill has unconsciously decided to increase his scripture study by an extra 15 minutes, to pray for more missionary opportunities, and to attended the temple one additional time each month. Little does Brother Brill know that this additional obedience will not make his questions and fears go away. When his extra righteousness does not alleviate his doubts and fears, Brother Brill will in fact experience even more doubts, fear, and shame. Time will only tell if this will cause Brother Brill to fall deeper into despair, to find relief in some form of unquestioning fanaticism, or whether he will seek the skills and help he will need to learn to honestly, faithfully, and bravely examine and make peace with his feelings and concerns. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING: CAFETERIA MORMONS

Commentary by Dale Jennings

When our church leaders speak the Lord’s words, they expect us to listen and obey. We know that it is only by exact obedience that we can be sure that Satan won’t slowly turn up the temperature on our pot until we are spiritually boiled to death. Strict faith and obedience to each and every word from God is why the real danger that the church faces today isn’t from ISIS or Obama or even Caitlyn Jenner. No, what threatens to destroy God’s work today are cafeteria Mormons.

Cafeteria Mormons have the false, satanic idea that they can pick and choose what words of God they want to listen to and obey. They love one apostle (usually Uchtdorf!) and resist God’s word as given by others (like Packer!). They love some scriptures, like King Benjamin’s speech or Christ letting the prostitute off the hook, but disregard others, like how it was obedience and not grace that saved Noah or how God commanded Abraham and Nephi to kill when God found it necessary.

What cafeteria Mormons fail to realize is that each and every word of scripture, of revelation, and in the manuals and handbooks go together perfectly, completely, and harmoniously. It is either all true or it is all false—that is just how it is. If this offends your ideas and if you want to reject the Biblical truth of how Jacob used rods to produce more striped, speckled, and spotted lambs for himself (Genesis 30) or if you want to reject how God used a sea monster to punish Jonah, then you can kick against the pricks and jeopardize your soul.

When cafeteria Mormons are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing is when they start to infect others with their diseased doubts. They show an appalling lack of humility when they question a church policy or when they wonder aloud if social or cultural ideas influence God’s revelations to His chosen vessels. Sometimes they claim “personal revelation,” but we all know that no personal revelation that is really from God would ever be even slightly different from what God tells His leaders. The Comforter confirms—that is all! Case closed.

Of course some of these deceived and too often deceiving “Mormons” assemble in apostate groups and conferences or exchange ideas in that cesspool of falsehood that is the “Bloggernacle,” but they are sometimes even seen in our stakes, wards, or homes. Every effort should be made to avoid them, and thereby quarantine their infectious ideas. It may seem unkind or cruel, but we know that God has commanded his righteous in ancient times to kill every apostate man, woman, and child, and it is better that we insulate ourselves from them and their wickedness to avoid dealing with doubts or questions about God’s words. Avoiding, shunning, and shaming those who fail to successfully doubt all of their doubts is clearly God’s loving way of keeping His innocent and trusting sheep safe. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

RECENTLY RETURNED MISSIONARY REVIEWS STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Should be Called Star Wars: Stop Trying To Hold My Hand!
Sister Kaitlyn Burke has recently returned from serving for 18 months in the South Dakota, West mission. She writes Zion’s best movie reviews for Zion’s Finest News Source.

I told my family that if they agreed to do another hour of role-plays from Preach My Gospel then I would go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with them. In case any of you are thinking about seeing it, here’s my review.

The movie’s overall message did not offend my spirit. In fact, for those who are attuned, they can see that this is what God wants you to get from the movie: if you are a scavenger, living off of the discarded scraps of others and never getting the real value for your work, or if you find yourself fighting on the wrong side of the battle between good and evil, then now is the time to abandon your current life, follow the Force/Holy Ghost, and enter the mission field. Let’s face it—if you don’t leave now, the Lord might destroy that whole place!

The movie also provides a clear warning to parents about not letting their children get off on the wrong path like Han and Leia’s son. What could have led him to such evil? Well, not only did he not go on a mission, but he learned evil instead of good. Take that as you will, but it probably means that he went to some overly permissive, sinful college like the University of Utah, Utah State, or BYU in Provo. Parents—if you are not going to protect children by sending them to a place where their agency will be used to always confidently and easily only choose the right, like BYU-I, then if they toast your insides with a lightsaber then that’s pretty much your fault.

As you can guess, I’ve been saving the most important, the crucial moment of the movie, for last. And you all know what I’m talking about, so I will just say that if she doesn’t want to hold his hand she shouldn’t have to. I mean they just met and she hardly knows him. Who knows where that hand has been? Even if he’s cute or fun, or even if her parents might really, really like him, if she doesn’t want to hold his hand then she should just be able to say “I don’t want to hold your hand” and everyone should be okay with that. They shouldn’t say that it is okay for you to hold hands with him if she doesn’t feel comfortable with that yet and everybody should just slow down and not pressure her so much to just go and hold hands with anybody who happens to be running around with her, even if everyone thinks that is it no big deal, so just cool it people!

I’d say that the movie was okay, but given the choice of seeing it and being back in Hot Springs or Oglala really fighting the First Order that is sin, fear, and ignorance, give me the mission field any day!

Monday, December 28, 2015

AREA WOMAN WHO “STRUGGLES WITH TOO MUCH TV, SUGAR” STARTING TO FEEL OUT OF PLACE AT FIRST ADDICTION RECOVERY MEETING

Too Many Carbs/Too Much Coke
Might Not Be the Same
Minneapolis, MN--Area woman Vanessa de Rossi, first counselor in her ward’s Relief Society and a lifelong member who “struggles with watching too much television and consuming too much sugar,” is starting to feel out of place at her first Addiction Recovery Program meeting.

“I was really excited to hear our stake was doing the Addiction Recovery Program,” said de Rossi. De Rossi elaborated that “our Relief Society president always says that the ARP is really for everyone, and that everyone has their addiction.” But now that de Rossi is at her first meeting, she is starting to feel a little out of place.

De Rossi explained that “when I got here, everyone was really quiet. I went around, like I always do, and shook everyone’s hands, introduced myself, and mentally tried to think of something nice I could say about each person.” 

In an effort to reach out in a friendly manner and to get as much help as possible from the program right from the start, de Rossi took the first opportunity she could find to explain her “painful struggles” with watching television “up to three times a week for as much as an hour” when she could have studied her scriptures or made two more compassionate service visits. Feeling the compassion and acceptance from the group, de Rossi went on to explain the shame, embarrassment, and pain she has felt for the “extra scoop of ice cream one time when no one was around” or that “one hidden bag of fun size Snickers” she had in her closet two years ago. De Rossi felt comforted by the ARP missionaries who consoled her by saying that the Lord can help us no matter what our struggles might be.

It was when other program participants started sharing that de Rossi started to feel like this might not be exactly the right place for her. When talking about how the Savior’s love had helped him, the man next to de Rossi explained how found strength to overcome his old habit of “using a website filled with pictures of naked Bolivian postal workers to masturbate for so long that I lost feeling in the lower half of my body for a week.”

This was not the only example of the program’s effectiveness that made de Rossi feel somewhat out of place. Later in the meeting a man who had been in the stake high council explained that he knew that his life was unmanageable when he “found a flask and a bag of coke in his scripture bag and when he realized that the only way he had been able give his monthly high council talks in his assigned wards for the past eighteen months was if he was drunk out of his mind.”

Midway through the meeting, though everyone agreed with de Rossi that the Addiction Recovery Program is a powerful tool that can help a variety of people, not everyone seemed as excited when she said that “it doesn’t matter if your addiction is two episodes a month of House, a weekly bowl of Häagen-Dazs or heroin.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

NEW PRIMARY TEACHER: “I CAN’T FIGURE OUT IF THIS IS HEAVEN OR HELL!”

Photography taken with Iphone showing primary
children when primary goes over
Bristol, VA—New Primary teacher Sean Thurman, called to teach the CTR 5 and 6 year-olds, cannot figure out if being in Primary is heaven or hell.

“First,” said Thurman, “I have to admit that as a man sitting in Primary, you get all sorts of undeserved praise!” Thurman noted that the Primary President was “just so happy and so inordinately appreciative” of his willingness to serve. He admitted that “yep, this is straight up sexism, since women would never get the same praise or adulation for doing the same work,” but he added, “hey, it works for me!”

Not wanting to miss any opportunities to enjoy this undeserved praise, Thurman willingly went to Sharing Time on the day he was called. He explained that “it probably seemed like I was just so happy and eager, but, let’s face it, the difference between Elders Quorum and Primary isn’t that much, so I just picked Primary and its free, unmerited praise—win for me!”

When Thurman got to Primary, he easily found the row with the class he would be teaching. As he put it, “I spotted the kids right off—one incessantly poking the girl next to him, one pulling a thread on his sweater with obvious curiosity and perhaps the hope that the whole thing might come unraveled, and two other quiet, reverent children who looked like there might be a carbon monoxide leak right above their chairs.”

“I took a seat, trying to separate the rambunctious ones, folded my arms, smiled, and sang,” continued Thurman. “I have to say that at that moment, I thought I might be in heaven. All of the old words came right back, and I sang with a joy I have rarely felt at church.”

This euphoria, partly a result of how Thurman felt that “here (in Primary) was the Gospel in all its simplicity and joy,” proved to be temporary. He explained that “one of the boys looked at me and then said flatly, ‘you are short.’” Thurman stated that “I tried to ignore him, look forward, smile, and sing to set a good example, but he must have repeated eight times in his same disaffected, monotone way, ‘you are short.’” Thurman reported that “it felt like this could have gone on forever, until, clearly not making the headway he wanted, the little &*!$ punched me!” Thurman had been punched before, including one time as a missionary, but, as Thurman said, “this was so unexpected and caught me so much off guard, that I wanted to beat him to a bloody pile of bones and skin right on the spot.”

Sensing that immediate and life-threatening physical violence might not be the best way to start his pastoral work with these “little lambs,” Thurman addressed the young man directly and firmly, making expectations clear that he was not to punch him again.

“So, yah, when he immediately punched me again, I just about lost it,” said Thurman. The new Primary teacher went on that, “well, just about the time I had reached an uneasy détente with that little spawn of Satan, I realized that one of the other boys had taken off his shoe and was throwing it at a kid behind him.” Thurman tried to corral this young man, who “having launched one piece of weaponized footwear, was now preparing to launch the other.”

“After fighting with those kids through singing time and Sharing time, well, let’s just say that all of the shine had worn off of this new Primary gig,” stated Thurman. He concluded, “and then, at the end, when Primary actually went over by 6 minutes and 18 seconds, I concluded that there must be a warm place in hell for whoever is not keeping track of the time during the Sharing Time lesson!”

Weary of the celestial heights and infernal lows his new calling will inevitably bring, Thurman finally noted, that “and this week I didn’t even have to teach!”

Monday, December 14, 2015

TO AVOID CONFLICTS BETWEEN HOME AND CHURCH, NEW POLICY BANS BAPTISM OF CHILDREN OF REPUBLICANS

Elder Christofferson explaining the gap between the
Gospel of Jesus Christ and Republicanism
Salt Lake City, UT—Last night the church’s Handbook of Instructions was updated with a policy banning the baptism of children of Republicans. In response to waves of confusion and criticism, Elder Christofferson met with reporters from the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer and other, lesser news outlets to clarify the new policy.

“This policy is first and foremost about love,” said Elder Christofferson. He continued that “we want to bless the lives of all children, but we also want to avoid painful confusion that children might experience if they are learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ at church and then confronted by Republican ideas at home.”

When asked what he meant by this, Elder Christofferson explained that “imagine a child hearing King Benjamin’s words that we are all beggars and that we sin when we don’t help those in need, but then that same child goes home to a Republican parent—or worse, two parents—only to hear justifications for why we cannot help Mexican immigrants or Syrian refugees.”

Elder Christofferson was asked about baby blessings for the children of people who are Republicans. Here again the Apostle drew a clear line, warning that a baby blessing would generate a membership record for a child who, in Elder Christofferson’s words, “would encounter a home life filled with the extremist obedience and self-reliance rhetoric that would make Christ’s grace seem meaningless or absurd.”

Reporters asked Elder Christofferson if this might mean missed opportunities at an important life stage if these otherwise innocent children could not be baptized. In response to these concerns, Elder Christofferson said that “when these children are old enough to realize and fully denounce the ignorance, fear, narrow-mindedness, and xenophobia that Republicans rely upon to prevent reasonable gun laws and their enforcement and to resist a fair and humane immigration policy, when young people can show, unlike Republicans, that they embrace and love others of different faiths and backgrounds, then those young people are prepared to really understand and even preach the faith and love that are the center of Christ’s teachings.” 

“Let me be clear,” concluded Elder Christofferson, “we simply want to prevent the jarring confusion a young person would feel by hearing about trusting God and being a Good Samaritan at church and then hearing about trusting a false god like the US military (and its outrageously out-of-proportion budget) and then hearing that we cannot afford to help the poor, the sick, the naked, the needy, and those who Republicans dismiss as undeserving, lazy moochers instead of children of God.” 

Monday, December 7, 2015

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH A FRIEND FACING A “FAITH CRISIS”

Commentary by Alicia Ross

It’s fashionable among BYU students and young single adults who want to drink coffee or fornicate to have a “faith crisis.” Personally I know three or four people who are rushing out of the chapel doors to find the nearest tattoo parlor, so here’s a list of tips you can use when dealing with a friend going through one of these faux crises.

Don’t Forget the Cause: when your friends who think too much or who “don’t know if the mission is for them” start to talk about or post something on Facebook about their “concerns” about the church, don’t lose sight of what we all know are the real causes. People who really have faith never doubt; it is only those people who get into philosophy, worry about racism, show even a vague interest in “feminism,” and who are “open-minded” to Korihor-like, liberal ideas who question or doubt.  We all know without a doubt that they all failed to doubt their doubts! But it isn’t just a failure to doubt doubts. The real truth is that this is all just a cover for their desire to sin. When they have “questions about church history” or “the history of women anointing the sick,” what they are really saying is “where’s the Jack Daniels” or “how quickly can we take our clothes off?” Rest assured—sin is the real root of their doubts!

Modern Day Captain Moroni—Boldly Unpopular: we know that the Book of Mormon was written for our day. Just before the final destruction, and right before Christ came, it was Captain Moroni who defended the righteous. We can all learn from his life. Throw up thick walls of defense in your life against difficult or troubling ideas. Have faith enough to never venture into those questions. Fill the stage of your mind with so many memes and easy, clear General Authority quotes that no evil difficulties can leak in. I suggest ripping some article of clothing and writing on it “I Will Not Think Hard! And I Will Not Doubt!” But defending yourself is only part of the solution. You need to be faithful enough to be boldly unpopular in all of your interactions with the doubters and those whose faith is faltering. There should be no doubt in their mind about how wrong they are and about how firmly you stand in the right!

Shame Is God’s Way of Telling Them That They Are Wrong: this part is easy to misunderstand. Some of you might feel sympathetic to friends who have doubts. You might feel bad about the painfulness of their plight. If that is the case, make sure that your sympathy turns to pity, and that your pity turns to a desire to help them see that the shame that they should feel is God’s way of telling them that they are wrong. Sure, you can just come right out and tell them that they wouldn’t feel so bad if they were just doing what is right. But another way to do it is the indirect route. For example, send them quotes or conference talks that show them how wrong they are and how far they have fallen. Constantly talk about the pain of family members or the lost blessings of grandchildren or how disappointed the people from their mission would be in them. Shame can truly work miracles to reveal how far they are from the iron rod and how deep they are in the murky, polluted creek, you know, the one that is by the rod.

Don’t Let Them Wiggle Back: some of these doubters and fence sitters try to wiggle their way back into the church, but deep in their hearts they still have doubts. If you know someone like this, it is your obligation to protect the only true and living church from such secret doubters. They might believe that God is inspiring lots of organizations and not just His one and only true and living church. They might erroneously believe that, over time, with faith and patience the Lord will change any of His divinely decreed, eternal, and unchanging policies, procedures, doctrines, or laws. They might believe that God can inspire different individuals to take their own path back to Him, a path that might include painful doubts. But that is wrong! God’s church is not a big tent with lots of different people and different ideas in it; it is one very narrow path that everyone must march down, single file, in exactly the same way. Make sure that these wayward doubters know this, since we can’t risk destroying the unity and uniformity God demands in His kingdom.

Following these tips will tell your friends who are becoming lax in their righteousness and who are calling that slothfulness a “faith crisis” that the real problem is them. What more can you do than reveal to them how wrong they are?

Oh, and one last tip:

Do all of this with Christlike love!

Monday, November 30, 2015

THANK GOD THANKSGIVING IS OVER

It is exactly never like this!
Commentary by Greta Palmer

Words cannot express how grateful I am that the Thanksgiving holiday is over! Sure, it is supposed to be a marvelous time with family, friends, good food, and a season to reflect on one’s blessings. But this year, like many, many before, was taken over by so much awkwardness, guilt, anxiety, and what can only be described as weaponized consumerism that now that it is Monday morning I feel my heart swell with gratitude to the Lord for bringing Thanksgiving to an end.

Every year I try to tell myself that this one will be different, but it always turns out the same. Wednesday we reviewed Thursday’s schedule so that we were all on the same page—what time we would go visit my husband Taylor’s family and what time we’d visit mine, who would make what food and when, and how the kids would act around their cousins and weird uncles. But Thursday rolls around and it never goes according to the schedule. The inevitable Turkey Bowl lasts longer than the guys say it will, someone has inevitably torn an ACL, and if a fight hasn’t broke out there then it will break out somewhere between the pumpkin pie and the kid’s table once lunch rolls around.

This year, again, we got to my in-laws house and I was told “oh, you’re not late, we just call it ‘Greta time.’” And I love being told that my mashed potatoes are “a lot better than they were last year” and that I’m “really on my way to becoming a good cook and mother.” Nothing like first preparing plates for my complaining youngest children only to sit down to a meal richly seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of passive aggression!

My family is no better—women badmouthing the men who are in the other room yelling at a televised football game. Taylor and I inevitably get testy and annoyed with one another, making a bad situation worse.

If that Thursday were not enough, then comes the next day, appropriately called Black Friday, where consumerism, greed, wrath, and envy add the fourth witch to stir a Macbeth-like caldron of anxiety, fear, and despair. Every year I tell myself to not go overboard, not to be suckered in by deals that may cost less money but which are expensive in terms of my mental health. But then I end up in some long line in a store with too many people (and I’ve had too little sleep) fighting with another woman over trinkets to save maybe eight dollars over getting it next week. And this year the madness started on Thursday!

One new wrinkle this year: thank you, Max and Maddie, my very noisy newlywed cousins who “crashed at our place.” You gave Taylor and me a chance to discuss “married love” with our children. Oh, and a little pro tip: don’t leave the wrapper at the top of the trashcan in the nine year-old’s bedroom where you stayed the night, as that necessitates yet another awkward conversation.

So yah, I’m so very grateful that Thanksgiving is over!

Monday, November 23, 2015

PRIMARY CHILD EXPERIENCES DEEPLY CONFLICTIVE FEELINGS ABOUT STAKE CONFERENCE

“At least we didn't have to go up and sing!”
Brockton, MA—Jordan Rocha, an 8 year-old in the Brockton Massachusetts ward, experienced deeply conflictive feelings about stake conference over the weekend.

“Well, for one thing, the car ride to Boston is so long and boring, and Nathan (6 year-old younger brother) is so annoying,” reported the young sister Rocha. She went on to explain that “Maggie (2 month old sister) cried practically the whole way up there, but then mom let me have the whole bag of goldfish crackers, so that was good.”

Getting to stake conference provided little relief for the young Valiant. She stated that “we were clear back in the gym and you could hardly see the people and we had those metal chairs and that is so annoying.” Still, it was not all bad, as sister Rocha said that “I pretty much got to color the whole time and I did a really nice picture of Princess Leia on a unicorn; it is right here in my scripture bag, so I guess that was okay.” She concluded that “the meeting went on FOREVER with people just talking and talking but I didn’t have to go sister Peters’ class and see Tessa Greenwood who can be so annoying, so I guess that was good too.” 

It may or may not surprise the young sister Rocha that, though they have different reasons for feeling that way, most members of the Brockton ward including Jordan’s parents also experienced deeply conflictive feelings about stake conference.