After writing for nearly four years for
the Nauvoo Times, I am grateful for the many things I've learned
through this experience. It has involved the discipline of meeting
weekly deadlines, unlike the "write whenever you can"
approach I can take on my personal LDS blog, Mormanity. It has been
a challenge but also a rich learning experience that has motivated me
to dig a little deeper on a variety of topics so that I could have
original material to share here, in addition to some things also
shared at Mormanity or on my personal website at JeffLindsay.com. It
was a surprising and puzzling honor to be asked to be part of the
Nauvoo Times team. It's been a pleasure working with Kristine Card,
Orson Scott Card's wife, and the late Kathy Kidd, the marvelous
editor who will be sorely missed.
As the Nauvoo Times comes to a
close, I'm reflecting on the many changes we face in life. I write at
a time of dramatic change in China as economic unrest looms over the
nation that has driven much of the global economy. With the plunging
stock market here, many citizens have lost huge amounts of money.
More big losses are likely from those who followed the momentum of
big bubbles puffing up in artificially supported markets.
Manipulated markets and giant bubbles
are not unique to Asia. The insane experiment in the United States of
near zero interest rates and creation ex nihilo of vast
amounts of money over the past few years has resulted in a nation and
a populace more heavily in debt than ever, courtesy of artificially
low interest rates. The ability of big banks to borrow money at
essentially zero percent interest and buy treasuries with it yielding
higher interest has resulted in siphoning vast amounts of money from
the productive sectors into the hands of wealthy institutions. The
taxpayers have been robbed blind in this process and eventually will
face the inflationary impact of all the money that has been created.
Distortions in the market from
government intervention eventually face correction, often with great
pain. Pain is coming. When and in what form is not easy to guess, but
the distortions, the bubbles, and the misinformation about the
economy are huge.
This is a time for all of us to
consider our situation. Got food storage and basics for getting by?
It's a good time to gradually fortify your reserves. In debt? Strive
to get out and have cash on hand. Loaded with stocks? That might not
As an aside and perhaps a bonus tip for
your consideration, precious metals look remarkably cheap right now
(as I write, silver is $14 an ounce and gold is under $1100), in my
frequently-wrong opinion. You may wish to buy actual precious metal
and not just paper certificates that might not be connected to
anything real. I think having at least a small portion of your assets
in something tangible with long-term, widely recognized value is
smart. A bucket of silver coins, for example, stored in a secure
place, could be a smart investment. Of course, any investment comes
with risks that you need to consider. Chances are we will see
precious metals take another dip if markets panic and everything gets
sold, but long term, I think the prospects are excellent for precious
metals. The point, though, is to prepare for significant and troubling
economic changes, including the specter of rapid inflation and
Changes occur on many fronts. In
religion, we may find that loved ones who were faithful Latter-day
Saints give up their faith and move in a different direction that we
may not understand. There are many factors that can lead people or
drive people away from their faith--and that includes good people,
sincerely trying to do what's right.
Great caution is needed in how we
respond lest we damage the ties of love that connect us and impair
our ability to be a meaningful part of their lives. Seeking to
understand and love rather than judge is important. Beware of
unnecessary assumptions ("must be some kind of morality problem
You don't have to stop being who you
are in this process, but can inquire to find out what issues are
sensitive and shouldn't be brought up in gatherings to help them know
they are welcomed, loved, and respected, even when there may be a
huge gulf in faith and other matters. Maintaining loving ties with
tact and respect should be a priority in this process, and hopefully
the tact and respect will be reciprocated for you and your faith.
There have been some significant
changes many of us Latter-day Saints have faced due to the response
of the world to LDS policies on morality, marriage and the family.
Some, viewing these policies as unnecessary, unwise or unkind, have
chosen to take a stance that has distanced them from the Church,
sometimes to the point of becoming outspoken critics or opponents.
Some faithful Latter-day Saints have
struggled with LDS policies on same-sex marriage and particularly the
Church's new guidelines in the Handbook of Instructions on
dealing with same-sex relationships and children raised by same-sex
couples. It's a sensitive issue for many, especially those of us who
have close family members who are gay or who are otherwise strongly
affected by the issue of same-sex marriage.
For those who are confused and disappointed
by the policy guidelines regarding families same sex marriage, I'd
like to point to the example of one woman who has been an inspiration
to me and many others here in Asia and in other parts of the world.
She's given me permission to share a letter she wrote to a friend
about her personal struggle with the new guidelines.
I think the way this faithful woman
dealt with the issue is an excellent example for how to deal with
these kind of challenges intelligently, but also with patience and
faith. I don't know if the conclusions she draws about the need for
some kind of policy like this are correct, for that involves complex
legal matters. I need to explore that matter later, but for now, I
want to call attention to the approach she took.
She has given
me permission to use her name, but I'll just call her "Jeannie
G." Here's the letter:
Like you, I was upset by the new church policy on gay family
members when it was first announced. Many members who donít
personally know any gay people (or think they donít know any)
seem to be less troubled by the new policy. But for those of us who
have gay friends and family members, it was hard not to feel
I would like to share with you my experience in
dealing with this issue in hope that it might help you in your own
In recent years I have been heartened by the small
but significant steps taken by the Church to provide support to gay
members and their families.† These include: Acknowledging the
difference between feelings and behavior. Advising parents to support
their gay kids, and not to kick them out. Encouraging gay members to
stay with the church, because we need them, and creating the
website.† All showed much needed acceptance and respect for a
maligned group of members who didnít ask to be gay. As the
website states: ďWith love and understanding the Church reaches
out to all Godís children including our gay and lesbian
brothers and sisters.Ē
After these efforts, the new
policy seemed to take a step backwards. It first struck me as unkind
and unnecessarily painful. My heart goes out to gay members who still
have a testimony, or are trying to salvage their testimony, while
hoping to find a supportive environment in the Church that they love.
I was heartsick with the implied message of the new policy: ďYou
are not wanted here. The Church is no longer your home.Ē
am extremely grateful for the gospel. I grew up in a difficult family
situation. I could not have survived without the support and
direction of the Church. The gospel saved me. So it pained me to
think that the innocent children of gay members would be excluded
from the resources and strength of the Church community.
have found the gospel provides rich satisfying truths and a clear
logic. I was totally baffled by the new policy that seemed to have
none of those defining hallmarks.
After a three week struggle
with many heartfelt, tearful prayers, I got an answer. Most of my
inspiration comes in the night or early morning, as did this. I awoke
one morning to find this answer: The Church had to do it. With
legalized gay marriage, the Church is now vulnerable to being sued by
some LDS gay couple claiming a right to a temple sealing. Children of
gay couples could also sue, thus the need for them to formally
disavow the gay lifestyle should they join the Church at age 18. The
policy was not intended to divide family loyalties. It is to provide
legal protection to the Church. Understanding the legal reasoning,
despite my negative first impression, helped me see that the Church
is not trying to denigrate those with same sex attraction. Although
it creates a wrenching dilemma for gay members, I now see that the
general authorities clearly had to institute this new policy.†
Currently it would be difficult to sue with the religious guarantees
that presently stand.† I believe the church is putting the
policies in place now for the future safety and well being of the
Although it would have helped if the Church had
reiterated the positive message from the website while announcing the
new policy, I hope that gay members can still find solace from
website. Itís still up and running.
I worry that with
married gay members now facing a disciplinary council for apostasy,
some members might feel justified in condemning or mistreating all
gay people. We need to remember the policy was established not to
condemn gay members, but rather to protect the temple. As disciples
of Christ we are to give succor and support to all those who
struggle, whether gay or straight. That love and support is needed
now more than ever in these difficult times.
I hope this has
This woman is a powerhouse of
compassion and intelligence, and if you know her personally, I think
you would agree. I always learn something from her. I appreciate her
example of dealing with a challenging, difficult issue.
Whatever the reasons are behind the
policy, I think those who strongly disagree with it should realize
that people with different views on gay marriage are not necessarily
driven by hate or bigotry. Too many people are trained to think--a
word I use loosely--that those who disagree with them must be VEPs
(Very Evil People). There is a genuine debate here, as there is on
many social issues, and intelligent people can be on both sides, even
intelligent non-Nazis. To assume that the guidelines and policies
related to gay marriage are driven by bigotry and hate is neither
fair nor reasonable. See "The
Brethren are not Bigots" by Cassandra Hedelius, a thoughtful
and valuable post.
Since we don't have infallible leaders, it
is possible for mistakes to occur. Faithful Latter-day Saints who
disagree with a decision or policy can fairly wonder if it's a
mistake, and if so, hope that it will be swiftly corrected. On the
other hand, we should also be willing to ask if perhaps there is
something we personally don't yet understand or see properly. We
should have the courtesy and civility to recognize that leaders who
view something differently aren't necessarily bad people or failed
leaders, and may have legitimate reasons for their view that we don't
yet appreciate. That's a reasonably faithful approach to sustaining
our mortal leaders. Denouncing them is not.
interested in understanding this issue, an excellent discussion is
provided at FAIRMormon.org in "A
Look at the Churchís New Policy on Children of Gay Couples."
This touches briefly about some of the legal issues that could be
involved and may suggest that Jeannie G.'s conclusion has merit. It
also carefully explains what the policy does and what it doesn't do.
What you've heard about it may not be very accurate or fair.
In the midst of the firestorms of
protest against the Church's policy, often in the form of anger and
mocking from "great and spacious websites," I am reminded
that lessons, teachings, and spiritual experiences found through
studying the scriptures are more important and relevant than ever,
especially the Book of Mormon. This miraculous book was written for
our day. Those who are grounded in it and have a testimony of its
power and truthfulness are much better able to cope with media storms
and confounding issues of the day than are those for whom the Book of
Mormon is more of a cultural artifact than a precious treasure.
The Book of Mormon, like so much in
life, is also subject to change. There have, in fact, been many
changes in the text, as we can most fully appreciate by looking
at the rich body of work coming from Royal Skousen's scholarship with
the earliest texts of the Book of Mormon. Understanding those changes
can do much to strengthen one's testimony of the Book of Mormon.
For example, as we read about the Title
of Liberty in Alma 46:19, you might be surprised that the Book of
Mormon originally said that Moroni waved the "rent of his
garment." This was later corrected to read "rent part
of his garment," which makes much more sense. Some people have
objected that this change was an attempt to hide an obvious blunder
in the original text. After all, how can one wave a rip or a rent or
a tear? That's bad English, but it's actually good Hebrew.
The way the Book of Mormon originally
expressed it reflects a valid Hebraic expression. The Hebraism that
appeared to survive the translation process was understandable but
not good English, so it was corrected. Other expressions were edited
out that reflect Hebraic origins but are awkward English. In these
cases, the changes might be good, but understanding the changes is
Changes in the Book of Mormon also
include our appreciation of its reality. While it is tempting for
some to treat it as a book composed by Joseph Smith that may
express some "truthy" concepts devoid of real history,
there have been dramatic changes in Book of Mormon studies as we have
encountered solid archaeological and other tangible finds supportive
of the plausibility and historicity of at least some parts of the
Book of Mormon.
The recent finds in the Arabian
Peninsula with rich evidence relative to the plausibility of Lehi's
Trail demands careful reflection.
The uncovering of altars from Lehi's
era in Yemen bearing the tribal name Nihm, whose Arabic pronunciation
is quite close to Nahom and comes from the particular region that
conforms with the requirements for the place Nahom in the Book of
Mormon, is exciting stuff indeed.
These breakthroughs represent dramatic
changes in our knowledge of the Book of Mormon. I am disappointed at
how few Latter-day Saints understand what treasures have been
uncovered in the Arabian Peninsula.
There have been many other changes in
Book of Mormon studies that have helped us to refine our
understanding of geography, DNA issues, the translation process of
the Book of Mormon, and the richness of the text. I have found that
digging into Book of Mormon issues has greatly expanded my respect
for this book, a book that continues to speak to us from the dust, a
book that withstands the many challenges raised against it and which
will continue to surprise and astonish those who give it a chance.
In pursuing these issues, though, we
may find some things in our own understanding that need to change. We
may have assumed or been taught that the Book of Mormon explains the
origins of all Native Americans and has stories spanning the entire
Western Hemisphere, when it does not.
We may imagine Joseph translating the
plates the way a modern scholar would, and find ourselves surprised
and embarrassed to learn that he was looking at a seerstone in a hat
instead of examining the gold plates character by character. However,
that initial embarrassment needs to be replaced with awe when we
realize that the evidence from multiple witnesses (and supported by
the original manuscript itself) points to a steady verbally dictated
translation process done without the aid of a pre-written manuscript
and even without the aid of a Bible for the many Bible passages
quoted. The text itself is a witness of miraculous origins.
If there had been a carefully composed
fraudulent manuscript that Joseph was working from, why waste so many
weeks dictating it to form what we call the Original Manuscript,
which then had to be copied to create the Printer's Manuscript? Why
not just take the manuscript to the printer?
Some speculate that the dictation
process was meant to impress his scribes, but if this were a
fraudulent project, the scribes as witnesses of the gold plates were
already in on the con. Seems like they would object to the tedium of
dictating the whole text out for week after week when the manuscript
was ready to go. The incident of the lost 116 pages also
makes no sense if manuscript was being used by Joseph for dictation.
The evidence from the manuscripts, the
witnesses of the translation process, and the witnesses of the plates
all consistently point to a book that is the result of steady
dictation during a miraculous translation from real plates in a way
that just could not be faked as Joseph looked into his hat and spoke.
And the richness of the text, with its complex language, its
Hebraisms, its deep connections to the ancient Near East, and now
connections to specific locations and finds unknowable in Joseph's
day, represent major changes in the Book of Mormon that almost seem
timed to support us through the trials caused by other major changes
we face, as the Church is no longer a Church becoming accepted and
respected by the world, but one that will increasingly feel it's
Like those who faced the jeers of the
thought leaders and social media influencers in the great and
spacious building in Lehi's dream, we face serious challenges today
that require us, more than ever, to be anchored with a firm grasp of
the Book of Mormon. That's vital for enduring the changes ahead, in
Many changes are coming in our lives.
Are you prepared? Take wise steps now to be ready temporally and
The change at the Nauvoo Times is one
of those many changes. I'll miss this task, but will continue writing
at Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com) and JeffLindsay.com, and hope
you'll join me there.
Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his
LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on
the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton,
Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra.
He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.
He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent
Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.
Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering
Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US
patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications.
Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.