Categories
history religion

Kirtland Temple Sold to TCOJCOLDS

The other day the news leaked that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had purchased the Kirtland Temple.

Kirtland, not Kirkland, and not a “miracle”, after all, it turns out it’s true you can buy anything in this world for money, but still it’s a historic sale.

From The Church News:

Today, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, the responsibility and ownership for the Kirtland Temple, several historic buildings in Nauvoo, and various manuscripts and artifacts officially transferred from Community of Christ to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an agreed-upon amount. Together, we share an interest in and reverence for these historic sites and items and are committed to preserving them for future generations.

Rumour has it the agreed upon amount is a whooping $192.5 million USD. Included in the sale:

  • The Bible used in the Joseph Smith Translation
  • Manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation
  • Seven letters from Smith to his wife Emma
  • A history of the church written by John Whitmer
  • The original David Rogers portraits of Joseph and Emma Smith
  • The cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, used to store the original Book of Mormon manuscript
  • The original door of Missouri’s Liberty Jail, where Joseph, Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin were famously held captive.
  • A document with the title of ‘Caractors,’ which are alleged to contain a sample of inscriptions from the gold plates. (In 2017, the church bought the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ for $35 million — an amount one historian called a bargain.)
  • Joseph Smith’s writing desk from the Kirtland Temple.
  • Emma Smith’s walking stick.
  • The home of Sidney Rigdon and wife Phebe.
  • The Smith Homestead
  • The Mansion house
  • The Nauvoo house
  • The Red Brick Store
  • Other homes and significant documents that belonged to early members.

This video about the news leaking explains how it went down:

Categories
life religion

What Religion?

Yesterday in class I had a twelfth-grade student ask me if I was a christian? Taken aback by this loaded topic, I took a moment to reply.

I stammered — “No, I’m not a christian.”

“Then what religion are you?” he persisted.

I found myself recalling this quotation by Douglas Adams:

“I really do not believe that there is a god — in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. It’s easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.”

As regular readers know, I too have thought a great deal about it, and it’s an opinion I hold seriously, nevertheless instead of proudly declaring my radical atheism I quietly hedged, “I’m less religious,” (whatever that is suppose to mean).

Although I’m still surprised that he would actually ask such a personal question, I think I understand where it came from. The student interogator presented a distinctly muslim appearance and we had just watched a documentary about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. The film, called Israel – Birth of a Nation, though balanced, covers the most heated conflict of the twentieth century and there is a heuristic convenience in knowing which religion those around you subscribe. I suspect he wanted to pre-determine my perspective on the conflict but my non-religious status defused any oncoming discussion in utero.

And that was it.

He dropped it and asked some other students what their beliefs were but as other students watched me, each doing their own mental analysis of the scene, I pondered why I couldn’t be the proud atheist role model I wanted to be? 1 It’s unusual to talk about ones beliefs in a public school setting but since it came up, I wanted students to know that the perfectly happy, healthy, well-adjusted non-believing teacher in front of them practices what he preaches with regard to the importance of critical thinking.

  1. I wonder if the recent stabbing of a teacher in France just five days ago by an Islamic terrorist had me feeling reticent. I feel silly admitting my thought process but the chilling effect of such ideological murders is real.[]
Categories
ethics religion

Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th is Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The holiday is also sometimes called Orange Shirt Day and recognizes the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system. Wearing an orange shirt on this day honours both the indigenous children who never returned home and also the survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.

The schools in Lethbridge (and across the country) have been doing activities and presentations all week building up to this day. I think it’s so important that we continue to collectively acknowledge the harm that residential schools caused.

Both my son (4) and daughter (5) have been very concerned about the stories they’ve heard about the woman1 who had her orange shirt taken away and not given back. They seem to have a pretty good, age appropriate, understanding of the traumatic impact these schools imparted.

I want to point out though, as Canadians share in the collective guilt of the day, one glaring omission is the often-overlooked, deeply disturbing role that the Catholic Church played in the atrocities committed at residential schools. While the reprehensible actions of the church in exploiting children within its congregation are widely acknowledged, it is equally vital to recognize the dark chapter of history where indigenous children, torn from their families, were also subjected to the church’s predation.

I don’t doubt there were also many abuses in residential schools outside Catholic control, but from the sounds of things2, that’s where the bulk of the sexual exploitation happened. I think acknowledging the church’s role should be a a major part of the truth in “Truth and Reconciliation”.

As we come together to commemorate Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and wear our orange shirts in honor of those affected, it’s essential that we acknowledge the elephant in the room — the painful role played by the Catholic Church in these grievous acts.

  1. Phyllis Webstad has written multiple books depicting her experience with the Indian residential school system[]
  2. The Daily episode State-Sponsored Abuse in Canada from July 16, 2023 covers it[]
Categories
religion

Membership

It was Saturday May 2nd, 1987 — 34 years ago today — when as an eight year old I joined the LDS church. Even then I remember being a skeptic but intense pressure to “make the decision” meant I didn’t have much choice. I ping ponged between not feeling worthy and insecurities about the “truthfulness” of the whole operation. The evening itself was nice and the conversation I had about it with my dad in the change room was memorable.

My memory of the night isn’t perfect but I remember a few details. Danielle MacNiven and Dan Baugh were both scheduled to be baptized that night too but I’m pretty sure Dan was a no-show — which thinking about it now, it’s bizarre that he wasn’t there. I wonder if he had cold feet? Or maybe I can’t remember the details right and it was someone else that was the no-show.

Anyway, the physical experience of the baptismal font surprised me. It was warmer than a public pool and cooler than a hot tub. I’d never worn clothes in water before so that was new and the too tight jumper they forced me to wear was not comfortable. I stressed that the water would make the white outfit transparent but I don’t remember that being an issue in reality.

In my experience, what happens in a baptism is that the dad (assuming he’s in good standing — which he was) takes you down into the lukewarm water of the baptismal font, holds their arm to the square, says a ceremonial prayer and submerges the reluctant joiner under the water. It doesn’t take very long, but then you come up out of the water to an overpowering crowd of eager lookie-loos only to be told that the dunk didn’t count because your elbow wasn’t quite below the water line and that it needs to happen one more time, for full sin washing potency. So we did it again.

Back in the change room, while we dried off, I told my dad that I was reluctant to go through with part 2, the confirmation blessing. He asked why I didn’t say something sooner. I’m not sure what I said but I remember he told me that, “now, it’s too damn late.” Geez, Dad, swearing in the church about baptism? — even then I was a judgy kid. He went on to tell me about the first time he went through the temple — an even more esoteric ceremony within the church — and how at the end of it all he had to get married to someone he DID NOT WANT TO GET MARRIED TO (His first wife). So, he could relate.

Nevertheless, as far as he was concerned my fate was sealed and we went to the primary room for more prayer, singing, and a bunch of old men putting their hands on my head while one of them gave me blessings of happiness so long as I stayed worthy — I think it was my grandpa that did the honours. Being baptized meant I got a clean slate but from this point forward anything I did wrong would be permanent points against me on judgement day — seriously, how is this healthy for an eight year old?

So that’s it. That’s what I remember about my baptism. Coincidentally, May 2nd was arbor day and on the same day, my family and I planted some trees in the coulee behind our house. I don’t have any regrets about the trees we planted that day. They are big now.

Categories
ethics religion

God Doesn’t Give Refunds

James Huntsman comes from a rich and prominent Mormon family in Utah. Because he had a lot of money and because he believed in donating a full 10% of his income in tithing, he gave the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints millions of dollars over the course of his life.

A couple of years ago he decided the LDS church wasn’t for him. Among his complaints about the church was the fact it had amassed a giant $100 billion+ hedge fund instead of using that money for good. So now, Huntsman wants his money back.

From the washingtonpost.com:

In the suit, Huntsman says he wants back millions of dollars he donated and plans to give it to “organizations and communities whose members have been marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines, including by donating to charities supporting LGBTQ, African-American, and women’s rights.”

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, comes 16 months after a former high-level investment manager with the church filed a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service. The complaint, which The Washington Post obtained in December 2019, alleged that the Church amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes and misled members by stockpiling surplus donations using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses.

What he doesn’t realize is, God doesn’t give refunds. But all the same, I’m glad he’s pointing out the hypocrisy.

Categories
crime culture history Politics religion

The Title of Liberty

Despite LDS church officials distancing themselves from fringe conspiracy theories and congratulating incoming President elect Biden, we still witness the embarrassment of a Mormon proudly participating in yesterday’s debacle and broadcasting their association with the church publicly by flying the “title of liberty” pictured above and cosplaying as a warrior from the Book of Mormon.

From Wikipedia:

Moroni [a character from the Book of Mormon] is associated with the “title of liberty”, a standard that he raised to rally the Nephites to defend their liberties from a group of dissenters who wanted to establish their leader as a king. Moroni was so angry with Amalickiah’s dissention and wicked influence that he tore his coat and wrote upon it, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” With those words, he rallied his people to defend their families and their freedom and drive out the armies of Amalickiah. Moroni put to death any dissenters who did not flee and would not support the cause of freedom, and his ” title of liberty” was raised over every Nephite tower.

I guess I’m more disgusted by the so called Saints participating in this madness than others because of my background in the church and the sensitivity church members have with regard to fighting against the United States government. See also Articles of Faith: “12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

There are lunatics within any large enough group of people, but I even know some — heck, am related to them — that would not surprise me to hear they went to this level. (By his body size, I certainly don’t think this is someone that I know.)

As I mentioned previously, it shocks me the level of support Mormons give Trump.

Update: These tweets sum it up for me:

Categories
Politics religion

Religious Vote Share

It turns out American Mormons voted for Trump at a much higher rate than other religions. As someone that grew up LDS, I don’t understand how they can stomach such a monster.1 Here are the statistics:

From NPR’s VoteCast:

  1. Look at me, haunted by my past… I wrote this right after the election but never posted it until December 25 and just backdated it to be less conspicuous. Is there anything in this post that I should feel bad about posting? Obviously not, but then why did I feel sheepish?[]
Categories
religion

Awake My Soul

Incredible use of editing to articulate a journey that almost perfectly reflects my experience. Plus Mumford and Sons…

Categories
religion

Why Are They So…

What people search for says a lot about the collective perspectives on things.


It’s worth noting that these results came from google.ca and are created via what people are searching for, not necessarily what any one group is actually like.

(Inspired via)

Categories
religion

On Being Open Minded

A common argument against believing in the supernatural is that sceptics disregard eye-witness testimony to such phenomena. The following video from QualiaSoup rebuffs this line of reasoning eloquently while expounding the virtues and pitfalls of open mindedness.


[Open-mindedness– YouTube]

(via Friendly Atheist)