More Reviews of Heaven Up Here

April 27, 2012

It’s really been great to hear that so many people have enjoyed reading my book. Here are some of the latest:

Heaven Up Here reviews

Makes me glad I published it.

Concise Dictionary of Mormonism: K

April 27, 2012

KSL: The church’s flagship radio and television stations in Salt Lake City. An NBC affiliate, KSL broadcasts such programs as Dateline NBC and To Catch a Predator, both “true crime” programs focusing on brutal murders and sex crimes. The station has drawn a firm moral line in refusing to air Saturday Night Live.

Keys of the Priesthood: The right of priesthood authorities to exercise power in the name of God. Jesus holds all the keys, Joseph Smith received the keys for the restoration of the gospel, the First Presidency holds the keys of the Kingdom, and the ward building maintenance chairman holds the keys to the chapel for Saturday cleaning.

Kimball, Heber C.: One of the original twelve apostles of this dispensation and counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency. Ensured his family’s exaltation by giving his 14-year-old daughter, Helen, to Joseph Smith as a plural wife. Heber embraced plural marriage, eventually marrying 43 women and fathering 65 children. Kimball is also noted for his alleged statement, “I think no more of taking [another] wife than I do of buying a cow.”

Kimball, Sarah Granger: Early Mormon suffragist and Relief Society leader. She publicly taught that “the Father and Mother God” were equal in their divinity, a position that might have led to her excommunication had she been alive a century later.

Kimball, Spencer W.: Twelfth president of the LDS church, and grandson of Heber C. Kimball. A small man physically, he served faithfully and energetically as an apostle and later as church president, despite many serious health problems, including a heart attack, cerebral hemorrhage, and throat cancer, the last of which left him with a distinctive weak, gravelly voice. Under Kimball’s direction, the church’s missionary program experienced massive growth and more aggressive teaching and baptizing. His 1969 book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, brought comfort to the souls of millions who learned that masturbation was a serious sin and would lead to homosexuality, a “crime against nature.” His personal mottos were “lengthen your stride,” and “do it!” (Note that the latter is not license to do what one wants, especially if it leads to homosexuality.) Kimball was also known for his lifelong service to the Lamanites (Native Americans); his success was unsurpassed in helping them develop Mormon middle class values and lighter skin.

Kinderhook Plates: A hoax perpetrated in 1843 in which six brass plates were fabricated and presented to Joseph Smith as being an ancient record discovered buried in the ground. However, Joseph Smith translated a “portion” the plates and said that they contained ” the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.” Furthermore, contemporary witnesses produced a map they said Joseph Smith had drawn showing the Kinderhook discovery site as one of Moroni’s stops on the way to Cumorah. These facts show that Joseph was not at all fooled by the hoax.

King: All males who have been through the temple ordinances have the potential to become “Kings and Priests unto the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.” Joseph Smith reached that potential when he was ordained King and Priest sometime after March 11, 1843, showing his Christlike humility and lack of pretense or ego.

King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith’s last address to a general conference of the church, this discourse is so named because it occurred shortly after the funeral of church member King Follett. Although the discourse remains uncanonized, Joseph Smith teaches some important beliefs that have since become doctrine. Among the topics explicated are that the spirit or “mind of man” is eternal, that God is Himself an exalted man who lived a mortal life on a planet like ours, and that humans have the potential of becoming Gods in the same sense that God is a God. All of these teachings have been embraced by later prophets, culminating in the memorable statement of Gordon B. Hinckley: “I don’t know that we teach it.”

King James Version of the Bible: The official sanctioned Bible used in the LDS church because it is the most correctly translated Bible and its Jacobean English is the style aped in the Book of Mormon and modern revelations.

Kingdom of God in Heaven: The place where God resides in everlasting burnings. It is a celestial kingdom organized under divine government for all exalted beings. Located near Kolob, the governing star/planet. Contrary to some speculation, one cannot reach this kingdom by traveling to the second star on the right and on till morning.

Kingdom of God on Earth: “The kingdom of God on earth exists wherever the priesthood of God is (TPJS, pp. 271-74). At present it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism). After the death of the apostles, the kingdom of God was removed from the earth, as none had the priesthood except for John the Beloved and the Three Nephites. The situation required a restoration of priesthood from resurrected beings and from John the Beloved, though the Three Nephites were apparently occupied in plowing someone’s field or hitchhiking through Utah.

Kirtland Bank: In 1836, Joseph Smith declared that the “audible voice of God, instructed him to establish a banking-anti banking institutions, who like Aaron’s rod shall swallow all other banks (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” When the Ohio legislature refused to grant a bank charter, Smith organized the “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company” in January 1837. Within a month, society notes became backed by land values instead of cash or coin, as the notes had declined precipitously in value. Fearing that businessmen might try to redeem the notes and ruin the bank, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon resigned as officers of the bank, which failed in November. Warned by the Spirit, Joseph Smith fled creditors and lawsuits and moved to Missouri. Local members demonstrated their faith by paying some $35,000 toward Joseph’s debts.

Kirtland Temple: The first LDS temple dedicated in the latter days, built in Kirtland, Ohio, at great sacrifice by church members. After a long fast, those attending the dedication “partook … freely” of bread and wine, and thereafter reported glorious visions and spiritual manifestations. Buzzkill David Whitmer reports having seen “no visitation,” saying that the dedication was “a grand fizzle.” After the dedication, the temple was used for sacred ordinances, such as washing of the feet and anointing, preparatory for the higher ordinances of the endowment and sealing, which would come later in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith anticipated the restoration of the sealing power, so he took Fanny Alger as a plural wife, the sealing and consummation apparently performed in the Smith family’s barn, where wife Emma discovered them.

Kirtland, Ohio: The first major gathering place of the LDS church. A Campbellite congregation in Kirtland had been converted to Mormonism by Parley P. Pratt, one of its members, who had traveled to New York and was introduced to the Book of Mormon. Impoverished Mormons from Colesville, New York, traveled to Kirtland to gather and escape persecution of their neighbors. Demand for their labor and resources in building the temple impoverished the Saints further, until a period of prosperity was brought by the founding of the Kirtland Bank.

Knowledge: The ability to choose right from wrong, as Satan teaches us in the temple. Also refers to the understanding of information as given by the spirit or by secular means. Not to be confused with “so-called science,” which as Thomas Monson declared, is a destroyer of faith; such “agnostic, doubting thoughts” must be forbidden “to destroy the house of [our] faith.”

Kokaubeam: A transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven”; this word commonly appeared in Egyptian funerary texts. Or not. Not to be confused with a cocoa-flavored breakfast cereal.

Kolob: A star (or planet) “nearest unto the throne of God.” Entirely unrelated to Thomas Dick’s discussion of the hierarchy of planets and stars, culminating in the throne of God (see The Philosophy of a Future State pp. 241-247), which Joseph Smith had been reading at the time he translated the Book of Abraham.

Concise Dictionary of Mormonism: J

April 26, 2012

Jackson County, Missouri: Home of the Kansas City Royals, Harry S. Truman, Democratic boss Tom Pendergast, and our first parents Adam and Eve.

Jacob, Son of Lehi: The firstborn of Lehi in the wilderness. Noted for quoting at length previously unknown prophet Zenos’ “allegory of the olive tree,” which is interesting mostly because neither Jacob nor his audience would have ever seen an olive tree.

James: Apostle of Christ most often quoted to support the LDS beliefs that God’s grace must be earned through works. Appared in 1829 with Peter and John to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. Also, a minor character in a certain film, though apparently his lines were cut to just “we will go down” and “I am James.”

Jared: The brother of the brother of Jared.

Jaredites: Descendants of Jared and his brother who traveled across the ocean in barges and lived for some 1,600 years in the Americas without leaving a trace.

Jehovah: 1) Before Nauvoo, one of the names of God. 2) After Nauvoo, the name of the premortal Jesus.

Jerusalem: Holy city in Palestine, location of Solomon’s temple, scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, dedicated for the gathering of the Jews in 1841.

Jerusalem, Land of: Birthplace of Jesus.

Jerusalem, New: Where the non-Jewish members of the House of Israel will be gathered before Jesus’ Second Coming. See Independence, Missouri.

Jesus: Savior of the World, and Son of God, being fully God and fully man. In modern times, it has been revealed that Jesus was a powerfully built European who looked vaguely like Barry Gibb.

Jews: The “other” chosen people. Unbeknownst to them, their history, rituals, culture, and religion are remarkably similar to those of Mormonism.

John the Baptist: Prophet who paved the way for Jesus. Beheaded by Herod, John appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and restored the Aaronic Priesthood by ordaining Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Rumors that he took a boat downstream and had a wild weekend with some coeds at SUNY-Binghamton are unfounded.

John the Beloved: Apostle of Jesus, believed to be the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. Although John’s tomb is located in Selcuk, near Ephesus, he had the last laugh by surviving to the present day as a “translated being.” Since then, seen only in 1829 helping to restore the priesthood and in a cameo appearance in the temple film.

John, Revelation of: Also known as the Apocalypse, a highly symbolic prophecy of the future that was largely undecipherable until Joseph Smith produceda “key” that made everything clear (see D&C 77).

Joining the Church: According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, converts share three common experiences: “First, [they] meet with missionaries for a series of brief lessons on basic LDS beliefs and religious practices. Second, all prospective converts must demonstrate in a prebaptism interview … that they are making an informed decision of their own free will and that they willingly fulfill the baptismal requirements. Third, every convert must receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation as performed by authorized representatives of the Church and be accepted as a member of the local ward or branch by the common consent of the members.” (Note: These are optional as circumstances dictate.)

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible: A remarkable restoration of ancient truths, which Joseph Smith accomplished by adding words in place of the italicized words in the King James Bible.

Joseph Smith–History: After previous efforts at writing a personal history were thwarted by mobs, lawsuits, imprisonment, and getting the story straight, Joseph Smith wrote of his experiences with the divine. Highlights include the First Vision (this time uncluttered by angels), the visit of Moroni, and persecution so intense that no one remembered it.

Joseph Smith–Matthew: The rendering of Matthew 24 in the Joseph Smith Translation so readers would know exactly what Jesus meant without having to wade through parables and prophecies.

Joseph of Egypt: Sold by his brothers into captivity, he became a great prophet, such that he was able to prophesy of Moses, Aaron, and Joseph Smith, mentioning them by name (though he apparently got a little off track when he said that “they that seek to destroy [Joseph Smith] shall be confounded”).

Journal of Discourses: A record of all sermons from church leaders published between 1852 and 1886. Although authorized by Brigham Young and published in conjunction with the church-owned Deseret News, these sermons are not to be taken as official or authoritative statements of church doctrines or contemporary teachings. Some talks contain “deadly heresies,” including those given by prophets and declared as doctrine and revelation.

Journals: Prophets have long counseled that church members keep a journal recording their daily activities. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that a personal journal should not delve “into the ugly phases of the life he is portraying. … Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story.” Therefore, journals should be uplifting but never negative, which isn’t a problem because that is how most LDS lives are lived.

Joy: A state of lasting happiness that comes from total obedience.

Judgment: The Savior taught that we should not judge others; modern revelation has clarified that we should, however, assess others’ worthiness based on their clothing, facial hair, and number of earrings, among other things.

Judgment Day: After death, all human beings will be judged by Jesus Christ, who is both judge and advocate. He will judge us “according to works, desires, and intent of the heart” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism) and by the records we keep. For this reason, it is important to leave the negative out of your journal.

Justice and Mercy: Two attributes of deity that must be satisfied. In short, it would not be just of God to be merciful and forgive us unconditionally; in order to satisfy justice, the Savior, who was sinless, must suffer in our place. And of course it is absolutely just to punish someone who has done nothing wrong.

Seven Deadly Heresies Now Doctrine

April 26, 2012

I just noticed something interesting about Bruce R. McConkie’s 1980 speech at BYU entitled, “Seven Deadly Heresies.” I was once attacked for citing this “non doctrinal [sic] speech” in talking about the doctrines of the LDS church.

However, I have been vindicated. The speech now bears the following copyright:

“© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.”

As my detractor noted, “Doctrine is found in the published works of the Church. You want to pin us down? There it is.” Anything bearing the IRI copyright has been through the Correlation process and published by the church, and is therefore official doctrine.

In this famous speech, McConkie contrasts “the revealed religion that has come to us with the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the diverse speculations descending therefrom,” giving his readers a choice between believing the prophets or accepting “the theories of men.” To underscore the impossibility of harmonizing evolution with the gospel, he compares Darwinism to “the false religions of the Dark Ages ” and the truths of God to “the truths of science as they have now been discovered.”

Some have insisted that McConkie was in this speech softening his position when he said, “These are questions to which all of us should find answers. Every person must choose for himself what he will believe. I recommend that all of you study and ponder and pray and seek light and knowledge in these and in all fields.”

Of course, this is like saying, You can choose to follow God or the philosophies of men. Come to think of it, that’s exactly how McConkie presents it. It has been said that McConkie “essentially says if you can find a way for it to work in the context of doctrine, more power to you.” That would explain why McConkie includes harmonizing evolution in a list of heresies. “If you can find a way for heresy to work in the context of doctrine, more power to you.” Does that sound like something McConkie would say?

Either way, the Seven Deadly Heresies are now doctrine:

1. God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.
2. Church members can harmonize evolution and doctrine.
3. Temple marriage assures us of an eventual exaltation.
4. The doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation.
5. There is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds.
6. Adam is our father and our god, … he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and … he is the one we worship.
7. We must be perfect to gain salvation.

Some Quotes on Conformity

April 25, 2012

“It’s easy to see that you are one of us. Ain’t it funny how we all seem to look the same?” — Pete Townshend

“Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. It consists in compliance with divine law, in conformity to the mind and will of Deity, in complete subjection to God and his commands” — Bruce R. McConkie.

“It doesn’t matter how you feel inside, you know. It’s what shows up on the outside that counts. Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down past your knees, until you’re almost walking on them. And then you’ll fit in, and you’ll be invited to parties, and boys will like you. And happiness will follow.” — Marge Simpson

“Individualism erases the importance of divine authority.” — Dallin Oaks

“Being like everybody is the same as being nobody.” — Rod Serling

“People think in a very critical way before they come into this Church. When they come into this Church they’re expected to conform. And they find happiness in that conformity.” — Gordon B. Hinckley

“If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.” — H. P. Lovecraft

“There is the need now to be united with everyone facing the same way. Then the sunlight of truth, coming over our shoulders, will mark the path ahead. If we perchance turn the wrong way, we will shade our eyes from that light and we will fail in our ministries.” — Boyd K. Packer

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Concise Dictionary of Mormonism: I

April 24, 2012

Idaho: Utah with more militias.

Illinois: A gathering place, where church members would have a “permanent inheritance” that would last some six years.

Immorality: Sexual contact outside the bounds of marriage. (Note: Should not be applied to nonsexual behavior or conditions, such as poverty, suffering, or dishonesty. Once again, does not apply to Joseph Smith.)

Independence, Missouri: The “center place” where the New Jerusalem would be built and the Savior would return. Near the Garden of Eden. A temple was to be built in Joseph Smith’s generation in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, but persecution by evil non-Mormons thwarted the work of the Lord, and the gathering place was moved north and east. At some point, faithful Mormons expect to be called to abandon their homes and their worldly goods and gather to the New Jerusalem.

Indian Placement Program: An organized effort begun in 1947 to take Native Americans from the reservations and place them with white Mormon families, in the hope that they would assimilate into the broader American and Mormon society. Early efforts were quite successful, as apostle Spencer Kimball reported in 1960 that “children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation,” with one girl reportedly “several shades lighter than her parents.” Despite promising signs that Native Americans were “changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness,” the program had mixed results and was discontinued entirely in 1996.

Individuality: The God-given freedom to dress, act, and think like everyone else.

Infant Baptism: A wicked practice of apostate Christianity. Infants do not have the experience and understanding to make life-changing decisions; only at age eight are they able to make an informed and independent decision.

Inspiration: Ideas or promptings given to the spiritually mature to fullfill God’s plan. Examples include the inspired purchase of early church documents from Mark Hofmann and the handcart program.

Institutes of Religion: Weekday instruction for college students to counteract the independent thought and knowledge they are subjected to in their secular classes.

Intellectualism: One of the three great threats to the LDS church. Usually preceded with “so-called.”

Intelligence: Described as the glory of God, “in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). As Boyd K. Packer taught, intelligence is to be gained by “facing the right way” in obeying church leaders and avoiding truths that “are not very useful.”

Intelligences: The state of spirits before their spirit birth. Although no church leader knows what intelligences are, they have existed forever and are coeternal with God.

International Genealogical Index (IGI): A database recording genealogical data and information about which ordinances have been provided to the deceased. The LDS church makes no guarantee of accuracy, though members can rest assured that the angels are sorting it all out in the spirit world.

Interviews: One-on-one meetings conducted between a leader and member to determine the member’s worthiness, record tithing status, and delve into the details of the member’s sex life. Such interviews are usually held from the time the member is twelve years old, when they are mature enough to talk about sexuality with an adult behind closed doors.

Isaiah: A book of the Old Testament that was written before and after the Babylonian exile. The post-exile text (commonly referred to as “Deutero-Isaiah”) was miraculously pre-recorded by the wicked Laban so the Nephites might have a record of events that happened after they left Jerusalem.

Israel: 1) Members of the LDS church. 2) Descendants of ancient Israelites, chiefly Native Americans and Jews. 3) A secular, Socialist nation set up by inspiration from God.

Made My Day

April 23, 2012

My friend Odell sent me this photo, and it made my day. Somehow, it seems more real when it’s in print.

Concise Dictionary of Mormonism: H

April 23, 2012

Handcart Companies: A disastrous attempt by the church to save money getting immigrants to Salt Lake City in the 1850s, costing the  lives of 250 church members. Miraculously changed into a faith-promoting event that is commemorated by youth “Pioneer Trek Re-enactments.”

Hands, Laying on of: Performing priesthood ordinances by placing the hands on someone’s head. Also, what happened when Joseph Smith locked the office door.

Happiness: See Obedience.

Harris, Martin: A sober, upstanding citizen whose testimony is powerful evidence of the existence of the golden plates. Also known for having a conversation with Jesus, who appeared in the form of a deer.

Hate: Saying and doing hurtful things toward a person or group, such as when Lawrence O’Donnell talks about Mormonism. Does not apply when Mormons talk about gays.

Healing: A gift of the spirit provided to priesthood leaders to make the sick and injured whole. When the person is healed, it is because of the person’s faith; if the person is not healed, it is either a lack of faith or that it wasn’t God’s will that they be healed. Does not apply to amputees.

Heaven: Any of the three kingdoms of God. Can also refer to Sundays when all meetings have been canceled.

Heavenly Father: Another name for God the Father, who is the Father of our Spirits and who directed the creation of the universe.

Heavenly Mother(s): The exalted wife/wives of Heavenly Father and His partner(s) in creation and procreation. She/They are to be revered for Her/Their perfection and glory, but don’t make too much mention of Her/Them, or you might be excommunicated.

Hebrew: Any of a group descended from an ancient Semitic people, including Jews and Native Americans.

Hell: The state of being cut off from the presence of God. Not a place of literal fire and brimstone, though some have suggested that it consists of an eternal sacrament meeting with music by Janice Kapp Perry.

Helpmeet: A misunderstanding of “help meet” which means an appropriate partner in marriage; in other words, the woman must be subservient to her husband.

High Council: A group of high priests who periodically visit wards and branches to make sure there are appropriate levels of boredom.

High Priest: Where elders go to die.

Historian, Church: Person charged with maintaining the official version of church history. Joseph Fielding Smith was the prototypical historian, insisting that anything that was not faith-promoting be suppressed and/or destroyed. During the 1970s, the church flirted with real history, hiring Leonard Arrington. After he published The Story of the Latter-day Saints, which wasn’t sanitized enough for some of the Brethren, he was exiled to BYU, and the historian’s office was thereafter occupied by general authorities.

Historical Sites: Sacred sites preserved by the church and staffed by missionaries, who teach the approved version of the history. In no way related to the shrines and pilgrimages of apostate religions.

History: Episodes from the past that promote a positive and faithful view of the church.

History of the Church: A seven-volume work containing the faith-promoting history as seen by nineteenth-century church historians. Not to be taken literally, except in those places where it makes Joseph Smith look good.

Holy Ghost: Either the influence of God the Father’s spirit-body (1835) or a personage of spirit separate from God the Father (1843).

Home Teaching: The assignment for priesthood holders to visit assigned families once a month to provide a spiritual lesson and inquire about the families’ welfare. So important an assignment that most priesthood holders don’t do it.

Homosexuality: A delusion people have about who they are, caused by Satan.

Honesty: Presenting milk before meat and making sure you don’t answer the questions asked but the questions that should have been asked.

Horse: 1) A tapir or some other nocturnal, water-dwelling, soft-footed creature that could conceivably have been large enough to pull chariots, or 2) miniature ceremonial animal effigies carried on the king’s wheel-less sledge (see Chariot). Not an anachronism in the Book of Mormon.

Hosanna Shout; A part of the temple dedication when an elderly apostle stands in front of the congregation and leads them in a quiet, mumbled, and dignified “shout” of Hosanna.

Hospitals: From early in church history, members and leaders recognized the importance of meeting the physical needs of members, as well as spiritual needs. In this spirit, fifteen hospitals were built and operated by the church.  In 1974, the church decided it could better provide for its members by divesting itself of the hospitals.

Humility: Recognizing your limitations and faults. Should not be used in apologetics.

Humanitarian Aid: Material and financial aid to the poor and needy given by the church. This is such a crucial mission that, according to British LDS records, almost 2% of the church’s income goes to humanitarian aid.

Husband: Leader of the home, as permitted by the wife.

Hyde, Orson: Apostle who dedicated the land of Palestine for the gathering of Israel while Joseph Smith was having sex with Orson’s wife back in Nauvoo.

Hymns: Music sung in church to invite the proper spirit and to wake people up (this is called the “rest hymn”).

Concise Dictionary of Mormonism: G

April 20, 2012

Gadianton Robbers: “In the Book of Mormon, a band of robbers founded by a wicked Nephite named Gadianton. Their organization was based on secrecy and satanic oaths.” (Note: Secrecy and oaths are good things if they’re not satanic.)

Garden of Eden: The dwelling place of our first parents, Adam and Eve, before the Fall. Located near Adam-ondi-Ahman and the plains of Olaha Shinehah, which, as  everyone knows, are in Missouri.

Garden of Gethsemane: The location where Jesus suffered for our sins. However, we don’t wear a garden around our necks to honor the atonement because it would be too heavy.

Garment of the Holy Priesthood: Also known as “garments” or “g’s.” As part of the temple endowment, which is completely unrelated to Freemasonry, Mormons are given the garment (actually two-piece underwear sets: t-shirt and shorts) to wear at all times. The garment has stitched into it certain marks that are in no way related to the Masonic symbols of the compass and square. The garment is said to be “a shield and a protection” to the wearer, though, contrary to belief, most Mormons do not believe the garment has magical powers, although J. Willard Marriott would disagree. The garment is also available in a one-piece version, but most people don’t wear it because it frequently causes a “celestial wedgie.”

Gathering of Israel: The gathering of Jews and Mormons to the various locations around the world where they live.

Gay: An adjective meaning “happy.” Maybe be used with “so-called” to refer to those who choose to be homosexuals.

General Authorities: A group of men who are called to serve the church around the world full-time. As explained by general authority J. Golden Kimball, callings are extended by “inspiration, revelation, and relation.” Often such leaders are called because they have proven their spiritual excellence by their success in business or law.

Gentiles: Non-Mormons, except Jews.

Gift of the Holy Ghost: The right of all church members to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which is conferred by the laying on of hands. Rarely exercised.

Gifts of the Spirit: “Special spiritual blessings given by the Lord to worthy individuals for their own benefit and for them to use in blessing others.” Examples include prophesy, speaking in tongues, using a divining rod, and finding buried treasure by looking at a stone in a hat.

God, Godhead: 1) In 1835, consists of two members: God the Father, a “personage of spirit”; and Jesus Christ, a “a personage of tabernacle” (Doctrine and Covenants 1835, p. 53). 2) By 1843, consists of three members: God the Father and Jesus, both having bodies of “flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” but the Holy Ghost is “a personage of Spirit” (D&C 130:22).

Godhood: The ultimate goal and destiny of all humans. God is exalted man and woman sealed together for eternity; there is complete equality in this relationship, no matter how many wives the exalted man may have. (Note: not to be discussed among non-Mormons, particularly in television interviews.)

Gold Plates: An record chronicling approximately 1,000 years of ancient Americans, their prophesies, and the visit of Jesus to them. The plates were so important that they were preserved for 1,400 years so that Joseph Smith could not use them in translating the Book of Mormon.

Google: A source of vile falsehoods about the LDS church. Avoid at all costs.

Gospel: “Good news.” This is the plan of salvation, wherein Jesus suffered and died for our sins so that we could be saved by obeying commandments and ordinances and anything else that is required of us.

Grace: An enabling power from God that is available to humans only “after they have expended their own best efforts” and “cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.” See also “Good News”

Guilt: Godly sorrow for sins and misdeeds. An excellent motivator, guilt has blessed the lives of millions of Latter-day Saints throughout the world.

Mormons Softening Anti-Gay Position? Not So Much

April 19, 2012

It’s been reported in the last couple of weeks that the LDS (Mormon) church has softened its views on homosexuality. Last year, apostle Boyd Packer’s remarks to the church’s general conference were edited when he said that gays were not born with homosexual “tendencies.” Recently, a panel discussion was held at BYU in which LGBT students talked about their experiences and how they have been treated in the church, which was followed up with an “It Gets Better” video from BYU students.

My first thought when I saw the BYU reports was that it isn’t the church that is softening its attitude, but ordinary church members who are reaching out. I didn’t see much change in the church’s attitude towards gays, other than they’ve stopped promoting a book that referred to homosexuality as a “crime against nature” and that said that believing one was born gay is “blasphemy.” My impression was confirmed when another address from Boyd Packer was published in this month’s New Era, the LDS church’s official magazine for teens. He essentially said the same thing that he did last year in arguing that no one is born gay. This time, he was not edited:

A few of you may have felt or been told that you were born with troubling feelings and that you are not guilty if you act on those temptations. Doctrinally we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased, and that cannot happen. You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live a morally pure and chaste life, one filled with virtue.

The difference is that this statement is in a magazine that very few people other than Mormons will read, whereas the earlier statements went out to a wider audience. The message is clear in his remarks: You were not born gay, and if you act on your feelings, you are guilty of sin. Being gay means you are not following the Holy Ghost and are not living a pure, chaste, and virtuous life. Doesn’t sound any softer to me.

The LDS church is really good with PR. They have people talking about changing teachings and attitudes towards the LGBT community. The reality, however, is the same stuff they’ve been preaching since the 1950s.