Wednesday, April 16, 2014

6 Questions of the Soul That Mormonism Answers

1) Is there a God?

You can bet every last Reese's egg in your cupboard that there is a God, because He exists (if you're some weird human who doesn't like Reese's eggs then you can substitute your favorite addictive substance).  

2) Okay. Whatever. There's a God, but does He care?

Since you bet all of your Reese's eggs on whether there was a God or not and there was one, you still have Reese's eggs to bet. So again, you can bet all of them that He cares, because He truly does. He is our Heavenly Father, the creator of our spirits. He has an invested interest in our lives because we are His children. When I was younger my brother and I would play Roller Coaster Tycoon and we loved it. I made fiscally smart and business savvy decisions in all of my parks. I sacrificed certain amusements to provide a janitorial staff to keep my parks clean, I constantly fixed rides so that they were safe, and I had multiple bathrooms throughout the park. I took the game too seriously in all honesty and treated it like it was my real life business. My brother on the other hand got a thrill out of charging people to use the bathroom in his parks and plucking people off the ground and dropping them in ponds. His favorite trick though was creating roller coasters that didn't loop back to the beginning. He would have his riders launched in a blaze of deathly glory off a steep climb that was supposed to be attached to a drop that lead to the starting place. Too often people assume that God treats humans like my brother treated his virtual amusement park guests. We are not play things or the products of a bored, indifferent, vengeful God. Preach My Gospel states, "He loves us. He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right."  We are beloved children of a celestial king.

3) Where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going? (Three questions for the price of one! Man, Mormons are generous people).

Entire books are written on this topic. I could write my own treatise on this multi-part question, but instead I will give a brief answer. We lived as spirit children in a pre-mortal state with Heavenly Father and other spirits. Our spirits didn't have tangible bodies of flesh and bones and our knowledge was untested. We were sent to earth to receive bodies and to essentially be put on trial. The purpose of this life is to learn, grow, and endure to the end. A latter-day apostle, Elder Oaks, stated, "To realize a fullness of joy, we had to prove our willingness to keep the commandments of God in a circumstance where we had no memory of what preceded our mortal birth." Much like the ACT, our performance during our earthly test determines where we go after we graduate from the Secondary Academy of Planet Earth (or Earth High School for the public school kids like me out there).  Based on our lifestyle we will reside in one of three kingdoms of glory (in descending order); the Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial Kingdom. All kingdoms surpass our understanding of excellence and will be a positive place to spend eternity, though why shoot for the Telestial Kingdom when you can land in a better place?  The Celestial Kingdom is to a Reese's Egg (or again another delectable substance) as the Telestial Kingdom is to Corn Chex. Both are pretty good, but we all know which one is better.
4) How am I "saved"?

Have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of your wrong doings, be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. A passage of text from the Book of Moroni in the Book of Mormon clearly states what is expected of us in this life,"And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by the faith unto the fulfilling the commandment; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth a remission of sins; and the remission of sins bringeth meekness and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligent unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God."(Moroni 8:25-26).

5) What if I was never baptized?

Baptism is a required ordinance to reside in the presence of Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom. If you're never baptized then you will spend eternity in another kingdom of glory. Here's the beautiful thing though; Heavenly Father is merciful. Our time on earth is a test, but we aren't graded until the final judgement. There is a time between earth life and judgement in which spirits continue to learn. After we die our spirits reside in the spirit world until Christ returns to the earth again. As we await the second coming, we are constantly learning and growing. If we never accepted Christ while alive, we have the opportunity accept him again. That is why Mormons believe in baptism for the dead. Miraculously enough, baptism for the dead is actually mentioned multiple times in the Bible and isn't that outlandish of an idea. We believe that individuals can perform proxy ordinances for individuals who are dead. By no means are alive individuals coercing spirits into baptism; if an individual doesn't want to be baptized, they can deny the work that has been done for them.  

6) I lied. I'm only answering five questions of the soul. But how can you learn more?

This post was a very watered down and brief explanation of basic doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not new to this rodeo; I know that people will either read this post and agree or they will hate it and use GPS triangulation and coordinates and other fancy FBI spy things to find me and hunt me down and beat me up for sharing such preposterous and blasphemous ideas about salvation. If anything in this post rang true to you, then you should seek out a member of the church or a local missionary who can expound upon these ideas. Check out to learn more or to find missionaries near you. I know that the things I have shared are divine and true, but I also know that force feeding doctrine to individuals doesn't do anyone any good. If you have questions, take them to our Heavenly Father in sincere, heartfelt prayer. He will always answer. So, do as President Uchtdorf says and rise up and become the person you were meant to be. Learn of your divine heritage and royal future. You are a child of God. There is a plan. You can be happier than you already are.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#ldsconf and Werewolves

In Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, one of the vampires, Alice, can see the future.  Her abilities are contingent upon the decisions of others though.  If someone changes their mind about a pivotal event, the future changes.  Another quirk in relation to her power is her inability to see the future if a werewolf is involved in a decision.  Unfortunately, there always seems to be werewolves popping up in the lives of Alice's loved ones. When people ask me what I am going to do after my mission I just make things up because I have no clue where my life is headed in 16 months.  Clearly I am going to do something with my life, but the more I try to figure it out the more stumped I become.  I finally realized a few weeks ago that there must be a werewolf of sorts in my future and that mangy beast is making it impossible for me to pin down anything beyond the horizon of my mission.  Though everyone's situations are different, people from all walks of life are always battling werewolves in their lives.  There are multiple ways that we can deal with the future when werewolves are involved.  One of which is watching General Conference.

What is General Conference?  General Conference is a semi-annual broadcast that occurs every year in April and October.  Priesthood leaders and female representatives in the LDS church speak on inspired topics to a global audience over 5 sessions (with an additional session for women the weekend before the official conference).  This past weekend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held their 184th Semi-Annual General Conference.

But how will hours of stuffy Mormon talks help me fight werewolves?  For starters, the talks actually aren't that stuffy.  Many have analogies, stories, and examples to liven up the party a bit.  Every one can learn from the general principles discussed in the various talks that are presented.  Everything from Christ's earthly ministry to family relations to being a good neighbor is discussed.  I promise that on the surface level there are lessons to be learned, but the real lessons are learned between the lines of oration.  Let's say you enter conference with a ferocious werewolf; a doubt of whether God is real or not.  Without a doubt someone will discuss our divine creator, but what is his or her word to you?  Though outwardly your question has been answered, there is a God, your soul isn't yet convinced.  Your soul will be convinced as you ponder the words that are shared and are open to personal revelation from the Holy Ghost (aliases: Holy Spirit, The Spirit, The Spirit of God).

General Conference is a spiritual and revelatory experience for those that enter with the faith that their questions will be answered.  I viewed General Conference with seven questions I wanted answered.  The first session of conference provided the answers to all of my questions.  The most powerful experience was unexpected; I felt comforted about my future and have a better idea of what to expect down the road.  There are still werewolves dancing in the periphery and gaping holes in my future plan, but I have goals for the first time in a long while to work toward.  One werewolf down, many to go.  But please, no one ask me where I'm going to live after my mission.  That werewolf is the most elusive of all.  

**If you want to read the talks presented or view General Conference in its entirety, you can do so here.

A quote from a previous General Conference.  This stuff is gold!