Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2012, May 30

“Book of Mormon: The Establishment of the Church by Alma in Zarahemla (and More)” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Establishment of the Church in Zarahemla



There is an interesting situation in Zarahemla when Alma and his people return. King Benjamin had done this:
Mosiah 6:1 And now, king Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments.
3 And again, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of all these things, and had consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people, and had given him all the charges concerning the kingdom, and also had appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made, he dismissed the multitude, and they returned, every one, according to their families, to their own houses.

and King Mosiah continues it.

King Mosiah was both the secular and religious leader at the time—king and high priest; like his father Benjamin and his grandfather Mosiah, and Nephi at the beginning.

Alma’s people want him to be king, but he refuses; he’ll just be their high priest:
Mosiah 23:6 And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people.
7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.
16 And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church.
17 And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men.
18 Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.

When Alma and his church (but possibly not the full law of Moses) come back, they are now under the secular and ecclesiastical authority of King Mosiah:
Mosiah 24:24 And it came to pass that they departed out of the valley, and took their journey into the wilderness.
25 And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days *they arrived in the land of Zarahemla; and king Mosiah did also receive them with joy.
King Mosiah sees Alma and his church, and I imagine he believes it best to allow Alma to be in charge, once more splitting the secular and religious leadership of the Nephites:
Mosiah 25:14 And now it came to pass that when Mosiah had made an end of speaking and reading to the people, he desired that Alma should also speak to the people.
15 And Alma did speak unto them, when they were assembled together in large bodies, and he went from one body to another, preaching unto the people repentance and faith on the Lord.
19 And it came to pass that king Mosiah granted unto Alma that he might establish churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla; and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every church.
21 …every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.
22 And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.
23 And now there were seven churches in the land of Zarahemla. And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God;
24 And they were called the people of God. And the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon them, and they were blessed, and prospered in the land.

King Mosiah later gives all the religious relics to Alma the younger:
Mosiah 28:20 And now, as I said unto you, that after king Mosiah had done these things, he took the plates of brass, and all the things which he had kept, and conferred them upon Alma, who was the son of Alma; yea, all the records, and also the interpreters, and conferred them upon him, and commanded him that he should keep and preserve them, and also keep a record of the people, handing them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.

But then, Alma the high priest is elected the chief judge:
Mosiah 29:41 And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.
42 And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.

Shortly after, due to heavy problems in the church, Alma gives up the office of chief judge, and the secular and ecclesiastic powers are once more separated:
Alma 4:15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.
16 And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.
17 Now this man’s name was Nephihah, and he was appointed chief judge; and he sat in the judgment-seat to judge and to govern the people.
18 Now Alma did not grant unto him the office of being high priest over the church, but he retained the office of high priest unto himself; but he delivered the judgment-seat unto Nephihah.
19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them…
20 And thus in the commencement of the ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, Alma delivered up the judgment-seat to Nephihah, and confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God…

Later, Alma the Younger offers the religious plates/ records to Nephihah, but he refuses, perhaps because this would signify the reunification of the secular and religious leadership:
Alma 50:37 And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
38 Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.

(And until the coming of Christ, when it is likely that the government was once more together with the religion.

It then seems to split; after that, secular and ecclesiastic authority seems to come back together at the end—with Mormon and Moroni.)

2012, May 25

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: Are Ward Units Too Big for Real Growth?” by grego

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: Are Ward Units Too Big for Real Growth?


(c) 2012

If the LDS Church is interested in real growth, would it help to make the wards much smaller? With some of the wards I’ve been in being over 200 active members (according to the church’s definition of “attending once a month”), and student wards having even more; and total membership on some ward rolls being over 600 names, I wonder: are LDS wards too big?

This led to some searching on social numbers, and this is what I found.


“…A British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar figured the same principle ought to apply to all primates – human and non-human alike… He then followed suit (abstract) for human primates and came up with a human maximum “mean group size” of 150 and an “intimate circle size” of 12. Hypothesis in hand, he then compared his prediction with observed human group sizes, paying special attention to the anthropological literature and reports from hunter-gatherer societies…

For the most part, his predictions held true. The upper limit for human social cohesiveness was groups of about 150, and this tended to occur in situations involving intense environmental or economic pressure – like war (Roman maniples contained around 160 men) or early agriculture (Neolithic farming villages ran about 150 deep, and 150 members marked the point at which Hutterite settlements typically split apart). Any higher, and it’d be too costly and require too much social “grooming” to maintain the group.

The hunter-gatherer existence self-regulates tribal size, really… A large, ranging, sloppy group would mean more weak links, and in a social framework where every member was integral to the success of the whole, it simply wouldn’t work out. As we see with the Hutterites, a hunter-gatherer tribe that got too big for its britches would simply become two hunter-gatherer tribes rather than languish and fail.

(Overstepping Dunbar’s number might also increase stress. We clearly see that in farm animals. Increasing group size past optimal levels increases damaging behavior indicative of stress: feather pecking in hens and tail biting in pigs. No, we are neither pigs nor chickens, but we’re still sensitive to our environments.)”

From :

What is “Dunbar’s Number?” And is the Internet raising it?

Apr 11, 2009

…Recently, academics began focusing on “Dunbar-like” relationships that have proliferated on social networks and MMORPGS (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games), many well above 150…

How did Dunbar arrive at 150 relationships per person?

In 1993, Robin Dunbar studied the social habits of primates. After reviewing 36 primates and the average social group size, he found a strong correlation with the size of the neocortex region of the brain. Through extrapolation, he concluded that human social groups are limited to about 150 people.

In short, it is our brain that constrains the size of our social circles. This limit is only for groups that are physically dependent, paralleling his study of primate group sizes. The real eye-popper is when Dunbar studied historical examples of human group sizes…

Does Technology Raise Dunbar’s Number?

The Economist asked this same question to Facebook. Do to our friends’ news feed, status updates, etc., does Facebook reduce the friction of socializing and increase the size of our social circle?

Facebook reported that the average number of friends per account is 120. But those friends with which you heavily interact (write on wall, comment on photos) is only 7-10. But for even those with over 500 Facebook friends, the number only increased to 17-30.

MMORPGs, such as Warcraft, do not suggest an increase either. Average guild sizes are well below 150 for World of Warcraft and Ultima Online, with an average of 17 and a median of 9. There’s a very interesting graph of satisfaction with guild sizes, which peaks at 7 and 50 members. This level of satisfaction has a lot to do with group complexity. Life with Alacrity writes that simple groups will peak at 7 and complex groups at 60, eventually fractioning well before they reach Dunbar’s number.”

What might happen when “social acceptance” numbers are exceeded?

  • People don’t bother learning much about others.
  • People aren’t really interested in others.
  • People gravitate towards those who are like them the most, and who they like the most–more cliques and ostracization.
  • People actually don’t like new members (unless they are like them more than others)!
  • There is more impetus for negative social disorder–stress, strife, backbiting, etc.
  • Bishops and other leaders have a rough time taking care of everyone.
  • Newer (and older) members go inactive more and faster, building the burden of the active members.

Is there anything in the Book of Mormon about numbers?

There is, just a little—and it’s quite interesting.

Mosiah 18:16 And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about <two hundred and four souls>…

18 And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even <one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God>.

35 And they were in number about four hundred and fifty souls.

So here’s the church: Alma is the high priest over 450 people, possibly 204 of them being above the age of 8; and one priest for every 50 people. In current terms, that would be stake president, and bishops. It might be argued that because stake presidents and bishops have two counselors, then that could well be 1,500 people in a stake and 150 in a ward. Even so, 150 is much less than most wards, especially on the rolls! On the other hand, would home teaching make up for it?

Later, there are seven churches in Zarahemla; for the people already there, Alma’s people, and Limhi’s people combined:

Mosiah 25:21 Therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; <every church having their *priestS* and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word> according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.

22 And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.

23 And now there were <seven churches in the land of Zarahemla>. And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God;

It seems like there are many units in each of the seven churches, each with its own priest, and teachers under the priest, as shown here:

Mosiah 26:7 And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and <delivered up unto the priests by the teachers>; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest.

I wonder if the same 1 priest to 50 members ratio was still in effect.

Especially if/as societies break down, would it be better for the LDS Church to prepare now by making the units smaller to stimulate real growth? If each ward had 150 TOTAL members on its roll (or ideally 50-60 adults?), would that encourage the members to bring the less-active members back into full fellowship?



(Soldiers are grouped in 50’s:

1 Ne. 3:31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

2 Ne. 13:3 The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

Mosiah 11:19 And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites…)

When Jesus comes, there are 2,500 people there:

3 Nephi 17:25 And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.

Then, more come:

3 Nephi 19:3 Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.

How many? I don’t know.

But, the group is split into 12, according to the chosen disciples, in order to teach them better:

3 Nephi 19:5 And behold, the multitude was so great that they did cause that they should be separated into twelve bodies.

6 And the twelve did teach the multitude…

2012, May 15

“Book of Mormon: Mosiah 4: What Have You Borrowed from God?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Mosiah 4: What Have You Borrowed from God?


(c) 2012

Mosiah 4:28 And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.

This verse seems pretty weird, stuck here all by itself. But it balances out the whole preceding section on beggars, and it gives those who can pay back, a reminder to do so. While we are all beggars (v.19, 20), we are also all borrowers.

It also makes me think about how much I’ve “borrowed” from Jesus, and that I should try to return what I’ve borrowed, or to give what I’ve been given; or as Jesus said, “When thou art converted, convert they brethren”. When I covenanted with God at baptism and in the temple, I “borrowed” my salvation, and agreed to return it for myself and help others to do so also, and to do other things, according to those covenants. If I fail to live up to my covenants, I will commit sin; and though God won’t, it’s a nice reminder that it’s not a light thing to fail to live up to my part of the bargain.

2012, May 11

“Book of Mormon: When Were the Jaredites Destroyed–Moroni’s Clue?” by grego

Book of Mormon: When Were the Jaredites Destroyed–Moroni’s Clue?



(c) 2012

I’ve seen all kinds of dates for when the Jaredites were destroyed. I’d like to present something here that I can’t believe I’ve missed for so long, I guess you could say I didn’t know I knew it.

Ether 12:5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and THE JERUSALEM FROM WHENCE LEHI **SHOULD** COME…

There it is. That’s it. Moroni writes that when Ether preached about Jerusalem, Lehi hadn’t left Jerusalem yet.

So where does that put the Jaredites, timewise?

According to the record of Ether, there are about 14-16 years between the time he preaches about Jersualem (and Lehi hadn’t left yet), to the destruction of the Jaredites. So, with Lehi in the desert for eight years, on the shores for a short time, and traveling across the sea for less than a year, at the most the record allows that the Jaredites still lived in the land for six years after the Lehites landed. At the least, the Jaredites and the Lehites lived “nearby” for four years. For the Mulekites, it might have been even less–thus it’s very possible that Coriantumr might have met them almost right after they arrived.

If Moroni wrote correctly, and the interpretation is correct, this conclusion is very different than the hundreds of years of nearby co-existence that others have estimated.

2012, May 5

“Truth and Authority Status Quo” by grego

Filed under: Book of Mormon — grego @ 2:12 am
Tags: ,

Truth and Authority Status Quo



At one time, I was giving a test to elementary school students (4-6th graders). The last question on the listening part of the test was, more or less: “Hi John, this is Dr. Adley. To be healthy, exercise and eat fruit and vegetables regularly. Call me if you have any questions.” There were three pictures to choose from: A)fried chicken, B)a hamburger and soda, and C)fruits and vegetables. Being the evil testgiver I am, I read it correctly the first time, then changed the test question the second and third time to: “Hi John, this is Dr. Adley. To be healthy, exercise and eat ten hamburgers and sodas every day. Call me if you have any questions.”

Ok, I’ll give them some credit, they didn’t all immediately choose B. But in the end, the top testing students—the memorizers and regurgitators, the listen-and-do automatons, the A+ students—all chose B. On the other hand, all the other students chose C. Everyone who chose C laughed at those who chose B; they thought it was outlandish. (Unfortunately, it is those A students who will so easily buy into and become members of mainstream science and mainstream everything else and convince the others that in life, B really is the answer, and everyone needs to listen.)

So we talked about it, and what follows is much of what we talked about:

“I have cancer—there’s a small lump in my big breast!” “No problem, we’ll just cut your whole breast off, voila!” “Yay!”

“My body is bad!” “Here, drink this drink, it will take care of it.” “No, that’s yucky!” “Ok, let’s operate instead.” “Ok!!”

“I have cancer!” “Here, take some poison!” “Can I do it at home?” “No, I’ll buy it for you–special poison from America, and it only costs $1,000 per shot!” “Great, ok!!”

They were all rolling on the floor laughing by this point. (Actually, the first one was enough… I should have realized that and used another example, right?)

Then I told them, “Don’t laugh, adults do this all the time.  They were shocked, then yelled out: “They’re so stupid!”  I said, “No, your mommy and daddy do this, you do it, we all do it.”

I told them about how authority controls our lives and our thinking. I asked how many thought the center of the sun was very hot, hotter than the outside.  Many raised their hands.  I told them about the ongoing argument about this topic.  Even if something seems stupid or outlandish, listen a little more to the explanations—there might be something.  I told them when things do seem to make sense, to question it.  And of course, when things don’t seem to make sense, question them—but be open to what didn’t make sense before arriving at a conclusion.

I told them that taking a test and living are very different. Tests depend on an authority, have a right answer, usually don’t have more than one right answer, don’t have “I don’t know” as a possible answer, often don’t require thinking but memorizing, usually don’t allow questions and discussions, etc.

I reminded them how often I found mistakes in our English books, textbooks, their English-teaching Chinese teachers, etc. and the arguments we had had over them.

“How many planets are there?“ I heard their answers, then told them the correct answer: “we don’t know.” Wow, up until 2006 mainstream science was all on 9, when Pluto got cut. And did Pluto get cut without “a just trial”/ proper reasoning? And is everyone in agreement on that decision? Just because it’s small and other objects are bigger, does that have a bearing on the definition of “planet”? I told them “We don’t know” was the best correct answer for many questions, even some of the ones they see on their tests in school.

I spoke on how the world really works on authority status quo, and how opposed that usually is to exploring truth and finding much better ways and greater understanding.  I spoke on supporting arguments.

Keep your minds open, folks!

P.S. So, I searched just a little, and here are a few comments about planets and Pluto (from, I believe):

Laurel Kornfeld – April 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm: “Our solar system does NOT have only eight planets, and it is far more than a minority of scientists who still view Pluto as a planet and a Kuiper Belt Object. The same is true for Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. Only four percent of the IAU voted on this, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Stern and like-minded scientists favor a broader planet definition that includes any non-self-luminous spheroidal body in orbit around a star. The spherical part is important because objects become spherical when they attain a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning they are large enough for their own gravity to pull them into a round shape. This is a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects. Pluto meets this criterion and is therefore a planet. Under this definition, our solar system has 13 planets and counting: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.”

Chuck – July 20, 2011 at 12:23 am

Actually Laurel, all of your information is completely incorrect. Pluto is not spherical at all, in any way. Pluto is shaped closer to a cone, but jagged and shapeless. Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris, are all asteroids that were caught by the Sun’s orbit. Pluto also crosses Neptune’s orbit twice a year.

Chris – August 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

@ Chuck – you are wrong in every sense of the word. Pluto is just as round as the Earth is, as are Eris, Ceres, and the other 2 that nobody cares about. Pluto is just as much of a planet as Uranus, Mercury, and Earth.

Ali Harb – August 27, 2011 at 12:06 am

In Quraan it is mentioned that there is 11 planets other than Sun and Moon. So definitly there is 11 planets. All human answers are in Quraan but we have to read and know.

miranda england – January 20, 2012 at 3:49 am

There’s 3 things to consider it a planet. Which pluto only meets 1. Yes it orbits the sun no its not sphere and its not able to clear objects from its orbit.

Jeff Coll – January 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Pluto should be a planet. I’m just amateur astronomer, but there should be no reason why Pluto should not be included along with the other planets. Pluto has an orbit just like any other planet, however eliptical it may be. yes I agree it is very small but it should not be disqualified as a planet just simply because it does not look like on the other planets and it’s not completely round. if were going to get that technical about planets, then I suggest that we consider the gas giants, which we’re not even sure have any definite planeit structure on the inside, should they be disqualified as planets too? Besides it would confuse all of the first-graders when they are trying to memorize the nine planets. Should we change the rhyme to say my very excellent mother just served us nuts?!!

Belal – February 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Hey V Bellator, Ali Harb IS in the right place. I am not sure about the rest of you though. The Quran says there are 10 planets (11 only in Abraham’s dream – Sura 12, the 11th is imaginery).

Gerry Claes – March 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm

There are 8 planets in the solar system (until another planet beyond the Kuiper Belt is discovered). I suggest your read Mike Brown’s excellent book on this subject: “How I killed Pluto and why it had it coming”

Alas Pluto was demoted to the status of Dwarf Planet and therefore there are only 8 planets currently in the solar system. The book gives the logic behind this decision by the IAU.

As one writer also mentioned, what’s the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet–isn’t a dwarf human still a human??

I’m sure the debate will continue…

2012, May 4

“LDS/ Mormons: Borrowing to Get Ahead—Is It Worth It?” by grego

LDS/ Mormons: Borrowing to Get Ahead—Is It Worth It?



I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately: the economy, jobs, all the PhD’s and M’s that don’t have work, the history of companies being built by low-education people, youth, our students, other students I/ we know, my children, etc.

And especially, the youth in our church (my wife works with the Young Women), of which not very many make it from baptism to Relief Society. There are many problems, but one that I’ve really thought about recently is “education”. Most of the young women who stay in the Young Women program the longest drop out by the time they get into the second year of high school. And, the smarter they are (or better said the better the grades they get), the more probable that they’ll drop out.

I’ve noticed a few problems with the youth and getting ahead:

1. Faith becomes less and less a factor as time goes on.

2. Many school teachers encourage the youth to do something that conflicts with the gospel/ church, and they often do it. The youth put the counsel of their school teachers over the counsel of their church leaders.

3. They often accept the praise of their school teachers (and fellow students) over the praise of their church leaders, fellow youth, and even parents.

4. BIG ONE: and here’s what’s wrong with the world. Everyone borrows to get ahead! Why is Europe in trouble? Why is America in trouble? Everyone’s been borrowing money to get ahead.

Let’s say there are four children (Abe, Bob, Cal, Dan) of average intelligence. If they all pay to learn, they’ll all probably continue to learn at pretty much the same pace. Ouch–that doesn’t help, does it? So they keep paying, until Dan has no more money and the pressure with his family has boiled over into problems (of course, that could happen with any one of them…). Now, Dan is out of “the race”, unless he can find another way. The other three keep paying, until Cal has no more money and is out of it, unless he can find another way. Then Bob finally has no more money and is out, so Abe wins! All he had to do was spend and borrow more than the others, which increased the distance between him and his competitors!

Will Abe continue to study now? Probably not much, but he doesn’t have to… (Why are some Asian students often smarter in 9th grade than at university graduation? Because they’re so tired from winning earlier, they can’t go on strong anymore.)

What will Abe do now? What does he win? Does he win money, a job, a happy career, a guaranteed great life? Nope–none of that. He just wins getting into a school, where it might… start all over again!

Or let’s say that at the end, Abe wins the top job. Now he becomes as many professionals–hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get the top-notch education, and in debt for 20 years (if things go well).

So let’s say Abe stays on top… When he graduates, he will go to work for… Aaron? Adam? Likely not! He will go to work for Bob, Cal, or even Dan–if they are able to get a loan to start a company.

Another question–when everyone is moneyless, who will buy products? Buy on credit? Or was all that work and money spent on “winning”, not worth it?

But since everyone else is trying to borrow too, if you don’t borrow, you’ll get left behind. Is that so bad?  Are there no other options for “success” in life?  Are there no other skills–work, relationship, communication, creativity, etc.–that can compare with “studies” or a university degree?  Would it be wiser to invest in these skills?  Many countries now have plenty of people with graduate degrees who are unemployed and collecting state money.

There was a pretty faithful girl from a pretty faithful family whose greatest dreams and goals when she grew up were to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. She could likely pick her husband without much problem, and they would be willing in a moment. In just a short time, she went from that to staying at school till 9pm three times a week, and studying all day on Saturday. Why? So she could get into a better college—not in a few months, but in OVER a year. Not only is it impossible for her to attend any Young Women activities now, the family is going into debt to pay for these extra preparation classes.

Sure, that is great “planning ahead” and “being prepared”. But as with other things: at what cost? Will it be worth it? Is this what all the time and money should be put towards?

Yes, women have been encouraged to get an education/ prepare for the future. But I feel the church leaders have stressed this too much.

Here’s an example of what can happen when it gets out of hand: sex exchanged for school loan payments. Dana goes to an expensive college, graduates, and gets a job at $30,000 (not bad for starters). She looks at her $100,000 debt, and figures out that that’s going to take over three years of straight work to pay it off. Ouch. That usually also means a nosedive in her style of living. Whoops, the math isn’t working! So she turns to other “assets” to pay off her debt. (Do an internet search on “sugar daddy college university debt sex” and read more about this situation and the plenty of websites popping up to meet this “need”.)

When we bought our first car, I was very worried about what would happen if something happened to me and I couldn’t work (especially at my cushy job—that’s as in “physically not-very-demanding”, not “high-paying”), or if we didn’t have money one month to make a payment.

So, please consider, very carefully, whether what you’re investing your money, time, and effort in—not just buying—is worth it or not.

I’d love to be smart and spiritual, and for my children and others to be like that, too. But I see too many who go into debt and lose their faith because they put “getting ahead” ahead of everything else, including the commandments and church.

I’ve always said, “Better the dumbest guy in heaven, than the smartest guy in hell.”

2012, May 3

“Baptism in the Book of Mormon: Pushed by Missionaries or Requested by Investigators?” by grego

Baptism in the Book of Mormon: Pushed by Missionaries or Requested by Investigators?


I decided to take a look at the circumstances around a person being baptized in the Book of Mormon, and compare that to what happens nowadays with most investigators.

I do not want to get into the doctrine of baptism very much (there are many more verses that talk about baptism that I didn’t list), nor deeply discuss investigators preparing for baptism through belief, faith, repentance, and works, as I’ve done that a little before, anyway; however, I do note this in the verses that are here, if they go along with my main purpose.

Book of Mormon verses:

Mosiah 4:1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, DESIRING TO KNOW of his people IF THEY BELIEVED the words which he had spoken unto them.
2 And they all CRIED WITH ONE VOICE, saying: Yea, WE BELIEVE ALL THE WORDS which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we KNOW OF THEIR SURETY AND TRUTH, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has WROUGHT A MIGHT CHANGE IN US, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the MANIFESTATIONS OF HIS SPIRIT, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
4 And it is the FAITH WHICH WE HAVE had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby WE DO REJOICE WITH SUCH EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY.
5 And WE ARE WILLING TO ENTER INTO A COVENANT with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, ALL THE REMAINDER OF OUR DAYS, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

Mosiah 18:10 Now I say unto you, IF THIS BE THE DESIRE OF YOUR HEARTS, what have you against being BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
11 And now when the people had heard these words, THEY CLAPPED THEIR HANDS FOR JOY, and exclaimed: THIS IS THE DESIRE OF OUR HEARTS.

Mosiah 21:33 And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant.
34 Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were DESIROUS to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.
35 They WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter.
Mosiah 25:17 And it came to pass that after Alma had taught the people many things, and had made an end of speaking to them, that king Limhi WAS DESIROUS THAT HE MIGHT BE BAPTIZED; and all his people WERE DESIROUS THAT THEY MIGHT BE BAPTIZED also.
18 Therefore, Alma did go forth into the water and did baptize them; yea, he did baptize them after the manner he did his brethren in the waters of Mormon; yea, and as many as he did baptize did belong to the church of God; and this because of their belief on the words of Alma.

Alma 8:4 And he began to teach the people in the land of Melek according to the holy order of God, by which he had been called; and he began to teach the people throughout all the land of Melek.
5 And it came to pass that THE PEOPLE CAME TO HIM throughout all the borders of the land which was by the wilderness side. And they WERE BAPTIZED throughout all the land;

Alma 15:3 And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, DESIRING THEM TO COME UNTO HIM.
5 And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when HE saw them he stretched forth his hand, and BESOUGHT THEM THAT THEY WOULD HEAL HIM.

10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
11 And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.
12 And Alma BAPTIZED Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people.
13 And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever WERE DESIROUS TO BE BAPTIZED.

Alma 19:35 And it came to pass that there were many that did BELIEVE IN THEIR WORDS; and as many as did believe WERE BAPTIZED; and they BECAME A RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE, and they did establish a church among them.

Alma 32:16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is BAPTIZED WITHOUT STUBBORNNESS OF HEART, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

Helaman 5:16 …and from thence into the land of Zarahemla, among the Lamanites.
17 And it came to pass that they did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many of those dissenters who had gone over from the Nephites, insomuch that THEY CAME FORTH and did CONFESS THEIR SINS and WERE BAPTIZED unto repentance, and IMMEDIATELY returned to the Nephites to ENDEAVOR TO REPAIR UNTO THEM THE WRONGS WHICH THEY HAD DONE.

Helaman 16:1 And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city. And as many as believed on his word WENT FORTH AND SOUGHT FOR NEPHI; and WHEN THEY HAD COME FORTH AND FOUND HIM they CONFESSED UNTO HIM THEIR SINS and DENIED NOT, DESIRING THAT THEY MIGHT BE BAPTIZED unto the Lord.
2 But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.
3 Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that THEY WENT AWAY UNTO NEPHI TO BE BAPTIZED.

3 Nephi 26:17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to BAPTIZE and to TEACH AS MANY AS DID COME UNTO THEM; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus WERE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.

4 Nephi 1:1 And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And AS MANY AS DID COME UNTO THEM, and did TRULY REPENT OF THEIR SINS, were BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus; and they did also RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST.

Mormon 9:29 See that ye are NOT BAPTIZED UNWORTHILY; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.

Moroni 6:1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were NOT BAPTIZED SAVE THEY BROUGHT FORTH FRUIT MEET that they were WORTHY of it.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, HAVING A DETERMINATION TO SERVE HIM TO THE END.
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, AND WERE WROUGHT UPON AND CLEANSED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Conclusion: investigators usually sought out the preacher and were desirous of baptism (or covenant-making) and willing to show it. There was no such thing as just agreeing to set a date, especially because the missionaries pushed them. The investigators also fully understood the meaning and intent of baptism.
The new members did not receive just the GIFT of the Holy Ghost, but the Holy Ghost itself (something most new members here can’t attest to–not because they’re bad, but because they’re unprepared and not fully committed).

I invite any comments that show the Book of Mormon shows otherwise.

2012, May 2

“LDS/ Mormons: Problems with ‘Real Growth’ in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” by grego

LDS/ Mormons: Problems with “Real Growth” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


One of our area goals, set by our area presidency (70′s), for this year is “real growth”.

Finally, someone was starting to see it!! I have no idea where this is coming from, but in general conference Brother Edgley spoke on “The Rescue for Real Growth”, and I realized maybe it was higher than just our area presidency.

A few weeks ago in a meeting with the high councilor we were looking at numbers, and he mentioned that numbers are going down all across the stake, and had been for a little while. (For example, ward temple attendance has spiraled from 40/ month to less than 10.) Then he asked for input as to why. I rose my hand. “This is the culminating fruit of at least 15 years of numbers games instead of real growth…” and continued to speak for a few minutes.

It seems that for years the leaders have been worrying about and measuring good things, while not worrying about or measuring much better things.

Things being measured:
-Sacrament meeting attendance
-Home teaching
-Temple attendance

Ok, but… Things that SHOULD be measured more than most others:
-Book of Mormon reading
-Family Home Evening

I’ve always wondered why so much prophetic and leadership counsel gets “forgotten” in the process, like this:
Often we spend great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes.
We work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings.
We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions.
We strive to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple.
All of these are commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom.
But when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come (The Power of the Word, Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Church, April 4, 1986).

But it’s not just the members, it’s also the missionaries. In fact, it starts with and is largely pushed by the missionaries.

For the past 15 years (at least), “real growth” has had no meaning to the missionary work here. It’s all been about numbers, numbers, numbers. That pressure comes from the mission presidents and from the missionary leaders (assistants to the president, zone leaders, district leaders) who have also ignored church leaders’ teachings and about all the scriptures when it comes to missionary work and goals. Just a few years ago (three?), Elder Nelson gave a talk and asked the missionaries to measure their personal efforts, not other goals they had no control over. How many mission presidents are doing that? But is it their fault, or their leaders they report to (and what numbers are being reported)? (I’ve gone into numbers and goals before in other missionary posts.).

I find it a little ironic that you have this in “Preach My Gospel”:
“A Successful Missionary
Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice (p. 10).”
but then there’s also a section on number goals (“Use Time Wisely” chapter). Is this sending a mixed message to missionaries?

I gave rides to the missionaries recently, and as the missionaries read their district goals (another big problem! But I didn’t discuss that with them.) in the car, I had a few comments … “Our goals are to have 50 people come to church, 100 teachings with members, and 10 baptisms. Cool! That’s a little low, though.” They were all excited and talked for a minute about them. Then I chimed in.
“These are all ‘result’ goals, not ‘effort’ goals. What if you do nothing, and a member brings 50 people to church? What if you do everything you can, and no one shows up to church?” Silence. “I suggest you concentrate on goals that you can control, see your results, and use the results to make your methods better. For example, instead of having a goal that 50 people come to church, why not a goal to invite everyone you meet that week to come to church? Instead of having a goal of 100 teachings with members, why not have a goal to visit 10 members, and invite them to help you teach an investigator that month? Instead of having a goal that 10 people get baptized, why not a goal to invite everyone you teach, unless otherwise noted, to get baptized?” Silence. Then the leader spoke up–”Hey, I really like that!” I continued. “Then, if you’re putting forth the effort, but your numbers aren’t good, you know you need to work on that item.”
“Also, while goals that test limits are great, you’re looking for sustainable goals more than anything. Maybe those numbers are low when that’s all you’re concentrating on, but are those goals sustainable–can you reach them for the rest of your missions?” Silence.
They asked me about the possibility of being able to speak in a school, about which three seemed to be really excited; I said I had nothing against it, but… “at least make it high school!” Why? Almost every non-adult that has gotten baptized has the extra burden and complication of fighting with their parents over church attendance vs. studies, and it’s bad enough when long-time families have this same problem and studies often win. The same missionary agreed, adding they should probably concentrate on family baptisms and not teenagers.
I then asked, “In the church we often speak about the leadership skill of delegation; what missionary activity should missionaries delegate?” Silence. Then a few answers. I reminded them that my nephews were going to be baptized in May or most likely June. I suggested that missionaries should delegate the task of finding to members. “How would you like to have 10 members helping you find people to teach?” “That would be great!! But… Brother grego, how do we do that?” Right, because the new missionary handbook says, oh, about NOTHING about working with members (2.5 pages, about which 2 pages is about it, and .5 pages how), and NO mission leaders have stressed or even really mentioned it for the past YEARS in this area. I asked if they had ever heard of the “How Great Shall Be Your Joy”? “No.” So I told them to ask their mission president, and then dropped it, as we were getting close to our destination, anyway.

A few weeks ago I had given the missionaries a printout of 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (slightly modified), which reads:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor of [his servants].”
As I handed it to them, they asked, “What’s this?” and I said it was a section that President Hinckley suggested in a general conference talk that we read every morning. “Really??” I can’t think of members who need this help more than the missionaries, but I wonder how many mission presidents have remembered this counsel and followed it? Which goes back to an idea I’d really like to see implemented: a handbook of ideas for mission presidents. I think it’s unbelievable that mission presidents receive nothing (except what might be left over in the mission office) to help with their callings. Would it be possible to give each mission president at least a “book of ideas”?

Due to recent happenings, more (in addition to previous posts) about rushed baptisms… I wonder if the mission president and missionaries remember a few things:
1. “There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1975, p. 65).
How many converts build on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon? I don’t want to guess…

2. D&C 20:37 Qualifications for Baptism
• Humble themselves before God.
• Desire to be baptized.
• Come for th with broken hear ts and contrite spirits.
• Repent of all their sins.
• Are willing to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ.
• Have a determination to serve Christ to the end.
• Manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission
of their sins.
After worthy converts are baptized…
I’d like to particularly note the “manifest by their works…” part–how is that being manifest? By quitting smoking two days before the baptism? By showing up for church once? I wonder how much emphasis is being placed on “worthy converts” being baptized?

3.”Establishing the Church
When people have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church, continue to work with ward leaders and members to help these new converts adjust to their new life and continue their spiritual growth. The Church is established as people who have testimonies are baptized and confirmed, keep their covenants, prepare actively to go to the temple, and help strengthen the ward or branch.
Missionaries, ward leaders, and Church members should not turn away from their responsibility to nourish and strengthen new members.”

Perhaps that’s why we have less than a 20% retention rate? (Talked more about that in other missionary posts.)

I like to ask missionaries , “When can you stop working with investigators?” I get all kinds of answers. Then I ask them to open “Preach My Gospel” to page 210:
“After the Baptism and Confirmation
Under the direction of the bishop, missionaries may continue to fellowship new members. Continue to teach them and review what they have been taught. Encourage and support them, read the Book of Mormon with them, and help them share the gospel with family members and friends. As appropriate, continue throughout your life to communicate with those whom you have taught and to encourage and support them.
After the confirmation, continue using the Teaching Record to record your progress in teaching lessons 1-4 again and in teaching lesson 5. Work closely with the ward mission leader and ward leadership to help the new convert stay active and receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Then I ask them again, and a few will say, “after they receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Great, when is that? After some thought, some will say, “After they have been to the temple.” Right, for baptisms or…? “When they are sealed (or endowed for singles).” YES, YES, YES!! Ok, that’s the answer I hope they understand, because so much of the problem with real growth in our ward/ stake/ country rests on this one point. And frankly, unfortunately, that is when the members here will begin receive the converts as true members with testimonies (–the effect of years of non-”real growth”).
See, it’s been more than once that I’ve seen missionaries looking for people to baptize while many of the people they themselves baptized in the same ward are already inactive!! Whenever missionaries ask me, “What can we do?” I almost always say, “GO GET THEM AND BRING THEM BACK”.

“Those who exercise faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized in Christ’s name can be sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If they endure to the end, they will stand spotless before Christ at the last day and will enter into the rest of the Lord. Christ will hold them guiltless before the Father. He will be their Mediator and Advocate. Those who do not endure in faithfulness to the end will be “cast into the fire . . . because of the justice of the Father.” (See 3 Nephi 27:13–22; compare 2 Nephi 31:10–21; 3 Nephi 11:31–41; D&C 76:40–42, 50–53.)”
By baptizing but not following up and helping converts convert and endure to the end, are we just damning people we should be trying to save?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks had some “real growth” in the Philippines when he was presiding there–*extremely* high retention rates… I’ve wondered why, in the ensuing five(?) years since, nothing has come of what he did. I’ve asked leaders (ward, stake) on numerous occasions if they can get the program, but it was usually met with the same answer: “No (or, on one occasion, “Maybe”)–if our leaders want us to have it, they will give it to us”.

Please, LDS church leaders, can we get it?

I wonder if the talk about “real growth” will ever include down-to-earth discussions and changes in a broken system instead of always seeming to putting a new cover on a worn-out book, or rewriting old information. Actually, no, I don’t. I know that one day, it will. It’s just a matter of when that day will be, and who will make it happen.

I just got some stuff off my back, now I’m sure I’ll get chastized for it, but even that will help me feel better, I guess! I’ve just been watching this whole thing go in a big spiral downward that keeps getting bigger and faster for years, and it seems like no one’s listening… I do hope that someone out there will read this and it will help the work to go forward! Good luck, God bless.

%d bloggers like this: