Two Kinds of Money

There have been a lot of significant events in the history of LDS Church finances, but I think one of the great unsung heroes of Church history has to be the guy who came up with the idea that a Church can have money that isn’t “tithing”.

The most amazing thing about this principle is that, like the Church itself, I was surprised to discover that I myself had money that wasn’t “tithing funds”.  It turns out that some of my income was specified for non-tithing purposes, such as real estate investments, commercial spending, and other undisclosed uses.

Of course, I have other parts of my income that are designated as “tithing funds”, and I pay an honest and complete 10% tithe on all of these funds.  So don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that anyone not pay a complete tithe.

It’s just critically important that we recognize the different kinds of money, and that the Lord recognizes and understands their different purposes on this Earth.

In Case of Emergency…

It occurs to me that if things were to change in regard to “women and the Priesthood” in the future, there may be a few LDS Church members (and leaders) who experience a bit of a crisis of congruity, especially if they have made strong arguments against such a change being needed or even doctrinally possible.

Were that to be the case, I would want these Church members and leaders to be at peace, and to be able to reconcile the change with their past statements and arguments.  To that end, I have prepared the following statement for them to use.  If you are now arguing against the doctrinal suitability of women receiving the priesthood, please feel free to cut-and-paste this statement and save it for future use in talks, Church newsletters, and online use including blogs and message boards.

There are statements in our literature by the Brethren and others which we have interpreted to mean that women would not receive the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood. I have said the same things, and people write me emails and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what D. Kelly Ogden said, or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

No attribution necessary.  Use it freely as needed.

U Can’t Touch This (Please Uzza, Don’t Hurt ‘Em)

LDS, and Christians and Jews in general, are no doubt familiar with the phrase “steadying the ark”, and the story from whence the phrase comes.  Here’s how 1 Chronicles 13 tells the story:

9 ¶And when they came unto the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.

10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.

11 And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day.

Assuming the story actually happened as reported, it’s all rather silly.

The ark isn’t God. The ark is a heavy gold chest, and apparently it was being pulled around the countryside by some oxen. The ark didn’t fly around on its own power, it didn’t have legs like a horse. It was a heavy box that people had to lift and carry, or animals had to be employed to move.

So Uzza is transporting a valuable gold chest, and the oxen stumble, apparently putting the ark at risk of falling to the ground. Are we really saying that if we were in his positition, we would stand still and watch the ark fall to the ground, spilling its contents? Was Uzza supposed to have faith that even though the Lord had allowed the oxen to stumble, he would miraculously save the ark from falling?

And since the Lord works through His followers, how was Uzza to know he hadn’t been placed in that position to act for the Lord in steadying the ark?

It’s even more silly how we try to apply some assumed lesson from Uzza’s tragic death in our day. Instead of using the principle of “ark steadying” to label those who we wish would be happier with the status quo, let me present some real-world scenarios:

– A seminary teacher arrives to the Church building early one morning and sees water running out from underneath the bathroom door, soaking the carpet in the hallway and seeping to the wood floor in the cultural hall. Since the facilities are not part of his stewardship, he decides not to “steady the ark” and shut off the water, and instead trusts in the Lord.

– While waiting for a Temple recommend interview in the foyer on a Wednesday evening, a man notices the Scout troop from another ward is meeting with only one adult leader two boys (in violation of the strict “two deep” adult leader policy). He sees some other things that make him uneasy about the situation, but since it isn’t his stewardship (or even his ward), he decides not to “steady the ark” and doesn’t mention it to anyone, trusting in the Lord.

– While visiting his brother’s ward, a man attends Gospel Doctrine class and in the course of the lesson, the teacher forcefully expresses views on the origin of the Priesthood ban that, while in harmony with teachings from 50 years ago, are out of step with current thoughts on the subject. The man’s brother later mentions that this subject comes up regularly with the teacher, and the same views are always reinforced, as well as some unusual beliefs regarding polygamy and other Church doctrines, policies or teachings. Instead of bringing the issue to someone in authority, both brothers decide it is out of their stewardship and to trust in the Lord and not steady the ark.

Those are all actual situations I have seen. Does anyone think that a person taking action outside of their stewardship in these cases is “steadying the ark”? How would it be any different than Uzza seeing the ark falling and instinctively trying to help.

It should also be noted that 1 Chronicles 13:7 says Uzza was driving the cart:


7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.

That being the case, it could be argued that the driver of the cart does have the stewardship to ensure safe transport of the cart’s contents.

“The Book Of Mormon Musical” : Doctrine On Broadway …a prophecy fulfilled?

NPR recently posted the soundtrack to “The Book of Mormon”, the Broadway musical from the creators of “South Park” and “Avenue Q” that has turned into a smash hit.

http://www.npr.org/2…-book-of-mormon

I haven’t seen the show, but after listening to the soundtrack a few times, I have to admit that the music is really good. I suspect from the quality of the music alone, these songs may be with us for a long time. I have dozens of CD’s of Broadway and film musical recordings, and this would definitely be in the top 5 or 10.

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30 years ago, President Kimball expressed his vision for the arts, and the ways in which music, film and art could help tell the story of the Saints. In some way, as I see the success and reaction to “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway, I see a skewed fulfillment of that vision.

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In the field of both composition and performance, why cannot someone write a greater oratorio than Handel’s Messiah? The best has not yet been composed nor produced. They can use the coming of Christ to the Nephites as the material for a greater masterpiece. Our artists tomorrow may write and sing of Christ’s spectacular return to the American earth in power and great glory, and his establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in our own dispensation. No Handel nor other composer of the past or present or future could ever do justice to this great event. How could one ever portray in words and music the glories of the coming of the Father and the Son and the restoration of the doctrines and the priesthood and the keys unless he were an inspired Latter-day Saint, schooled in the history and doctrines and revelations and with rich musical ability and background and training?

Faithful LDS have given it their best shot over the years, to mixed (and usually underwhelming) success.

As far as the songs go when it comes to “religion”, it’s a mixed bag. Several are harmless, several are “interesting”, and some are so patently offensive that they would be extremely objectionable to anyone who is sensitive to profanity and “lightmindedness” towards the Church and its leaders.

One song stands out as particularly interesting, and I’ve listened to it more than the rest. It’s surreal to imagine this song being sung to packed houses in New York, and soon it will be heard all around the world (and, with the inevitable film version, it could help shape future perceptions of the Church in ways we can’t yet foresee).

The song is called “I Believe”. It is sung by Elder Price, as he deals with a crisis of faith on his mission in Uganda. You can hear it here:

http://www.npr.org/2…mormon#playlist

(The song has one aside line from an African that contains some profanity. If you want an edited MP3 of the song, PM me).

Here are the lyrics:

I Believe!

Ever since I was a child, I tried to be the best
so what happened?

My family and friends all said I was blessed,
so what happened?

It was supposed to be all so exciting, to be teaching of Christ across the sea.
But I allowed my faith to be shaken, oh what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed to help the needy, to do the things I never dared.
This was the time for me to step up, so then why was I so scared?

A warlord who shoots people in the face,what’s so scary about that?
I must trust that my Lord is mightier…and always has my back!

Now I must be completely devout…I can’t have even one shred of doubt!

I Believe!

…that the Lord God created the universe

I Believe!

…that He sent His only son to die for my sins

And I believe!

…that ancient jews built boats and sailed to America.

I am a Mormon, and a Mormon just believes.

You cannot just believe partway, you have to beleive in it all.
My problem was doubting the Lord’s will instead of standing tall.

I can’t allow my self to have any doubt, it’s time to set my worries free.
It’s time to show the world what Elder Price is about, and share the power inside of me!

I Believe!

…that God has a plan of us!
I Believe!

…that that plan involves me getting my own planet.

And I believe!

…that the current President of the Church – Thomas Monson – speaks directly to God.

I am a Mormon!

And dang it, a Mormon just believes.

I know that I must go and do the things my God commands.
I realize now why he sent me here.

If you ask the Lord in faith, He will always answer you.

Just believe in him and have no fear!

I Believe!

…that Satan has a hold of you

I Believe!

…that the Lord God has sent me here.

And I believe!

…that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.

You can be a Mormon! A Mormon who just believes.

And now I can feel the excitement, this is the moment I was born to do.
And I feel so incredible, to be sharing my faith with you.
The scriptures say that if you ask in faith, if you ask God himself you will know.
But you must ask Him without any doubt, and let your spirit grow…

I Believe!

…that God lives on a planet named Kolob.

I Believe!

…that Jesus has his own planet as well.

And I believe!

…that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.

I believe the Lord will reveal it. And you’ll know it’s all true, you’ll just feel it.
You’ll be a Mormon, and by gosh, a Mormon just believes!

I Believe!

The song touches on a few points that have been discussed among LDS for years (Eden in Missouri?), but presents them as most traditional Mormons see them (and Church publications present them). In other words, I find this song to be a plainer expression of what Mormons (and certainly energetic Missionaries) believe than one would get from some online quarters.

Certainly, there could be quibbles with the wording (God lives near Kolob, not on it!) but I suspect such quibbles would make the wrong point about our belief in such things.