Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Sunday, August 18, 2019

"Seeketh so to do"

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When there was a controversy in the early Church regarding who was entitled to heaven’s blessings and who wasn’t, the Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do.” Boy, aren’t we all thankful for that added provision “and … seeketh so to do”! That has been a lifesaver because sometimes that is all we can offer! We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list. 
Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.” He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek. ("Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You", Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr 2016)

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Founding Fathers Appear to Wilford Woodruff in the St George Temple

Matthias E. Cowley records the account of Wilford Woodruff and the appearance of the founding fathers of the USA in the St.George temple.
Two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God. Everyone of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others. When Brother McAllister had baptized me for the 100 names I baptized him for 21, including General Washington and his forefathers and all the Presidents of the United States–except three. Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was baptized for Martha Washington and her family and 70 of the ’eminent women’ of the world. 1 In the April 1898 General Conference, President Woodruff again recalled this sacred experience: ““I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it.  Everyone of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them.  Men are here, I believe, that know of this, Brother J. D. T. McAllister, David H. Cannon and James S. Bleak.  Brother McAllister baptized me for all those men, and then I told these brethren that it was their duty to go into the Temple and labor until they had got endowments for all of them.  They did it.  Would those spirits have called up on me, as an Elder in Israel to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God?  They would not.” 2 On the night of March 19th, 1894, he [Wilford Woodruff] had a dream which followed his meditations upon the future life and the work that he had done for the dead.  In his dream there appeared to him Benjamin Franklin for whom he had performed important ceremonies in the House of God.  This distinguished patriot, according to his dream, sought further blessings in the Temple of God at the hands of his benefactor.  President Woodruff wrote:  ‘I spent some time with him and we talked over our Temple ordinances which had been administered for Franklin and others.  He wanted more work done for him than had already been done.  I promised him it should be done.  I awoke and then made up my mind to receive further blessings for Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.’ The appearance, therefore, in his dream of Franklin was to him a satisfying conclusion that he had at least received joyfully the blessings that came to him from the ordinances of the Lord’s House.
(Matthias E. Cowley, Wilfrod Woodruff–His Life and Labors, p. 585-9, found at https://josephsmithfoundation.org/wiki/eminent-spirits-appear-to-wilford-woodruff/ )
You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God. (Wilford Woodruff, in a Conference Report, April 10, 1898; Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 160-61; Wilford Woodruff Journal, August 21, 1877. found at https://historyofmormonism.com/2015/05/25/wilford-woodruff-founding-fathers/)

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President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. (Ezra Taft Benson, Sandy, Utah, 30 December 1978; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 603, found at https://josephsmithfoundation.org/wiki/eminent-spirits-appear-to-wilford-woodruff/ )
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Why we need Law

James L. Ferrell explains why Law is necessary.
God, like my friend the judge, might wish that he could waive the law in the case of those whom he loves, but to do so would frustrate the whole plan of happiness. Why? Because to waive the consequences of law would be to render law meaningless. What’s wrong with that? one might respond, hopefully. If we got rid of law, wouldn’t we get rid of our problems? And wouldn’t that make life so much easier and more enjoyable? To which I would answer: “No, the law is a gift to us. Getting rid of it would mean that you and I would be doomed to an eternal hell.” 
Why is that? 
Think about it. Even if God could waive the law without frustrating the plan of happiness, that would solve only the first of our problems—the problem of needing to be justified or forgiven of our sins. Waiving the law would not sanctify our hearts, and we therefore would still be separated from God. It turns out that laws or commandments are necessary in order for us to become sanctified. Here’s why: We can overcome the desire for sinfulness only by being allowed to choose sinfulness. Where there is no choice to sin, there also can be no choice not to, and therefore no opportunity to overcome the desire for it. It was the establishment of the law that “created” the possibility of sin in the first place, for without the presence of the “right,” there would be nothing that could be considered “wrong.” “If . . . there is no law,” Lehi taught, “there is no sin. [And if] there is no sin, [then there can be] no righteousness.” (2 Nephi 2:13, See also Alma 42:13, 17–18)
("Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness", James L. Ferrell,  Chapter 8: The Big Picture, p. 52)
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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Love, Law and Illegal Immigration

The church I belong to  released this statement, 18 Jun 2018.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long expressed its position that immigration reform should strengthen families and keep them together. The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families. While we recognize the right of all nations to enforce their laws and secure their borders, we encourage our national leaders to take swift action to correct this situation and seek for rational, compassionate solutions.
President Dallin H. Oaks spoke on "The Paradox of Love and Law" (Official Transcript, Page to dowload MP3, MP3)

Friday, July 12, 2019

An Effectual Struggle

There are times in my life when I discover another layer of work to be done. I have been working on a certain aspect of my character. I get to the point where I feel like I am getting it mastered.

Then I see the layer underneath. I see more work to be done. At times, I have felt discouraged, thinking I have already done the hardest thing I felt like I could do.

I was reflecting on this today and the following passage came to my mind.
17 And now, it came to pass on the morrow that king Limhi sent a proclamation among all his people, that thereby they might gather themselves together to the temple, to hear the words which he should speak unto them. 
18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made
19 Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.
(Mosiah 7:17-19, emphasis added)
The phrase "I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made" had not stood out to me before. My friend Melanie Price Wellman, mentioned this in one of her podcasts. She said that, for her, it stood out in contrast to the previous struggles she had had. Struggles that had not been effective in getting her the results she wanted.

This phrase,"I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made" can mean that we can have hope in Jesus Christ. Hope that even though any previous struggles we may have had. Ones that did not get us out of the mud. We continue to hope for an effectual struggle. We will be victorious as we stay tethered to Jesus Christ. As we stay in relationship to him by the renewal of our covenants.


Sunday, July 07, 2019

Living in a Wheat and Tares Situation

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Church members will live in this wheat-and-tares situation until the Millennium. Some real tares even masquerade as wheat, including the few eager individuals who lecture the rest of us about Church doctrines in which they no longer believe. They criticize the use of Church resources to which they no longer contribute. They condescendingly seek to counsel the Brethren whom they no longer sustain. Confrontive, except of themselves, of course, they leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone (Ensign, Nov. 1980, 14). Like the throng on the ramparts of the “great and spacious building,” they are intensely and busily preoccupied, pointing fingers of scorn at the steadfast iron-rodders (1 Ne. 8:26–28, 33). Considering their ceaseless preoccupation, one wonders, Is there no diversionary activity available to them, especially in such a large building—like a bowling alley? Perhaps in their mockings and beneath the stir are repressed doubts of their doubts.
(“Becometh As a Child”, Neal A. Maxwell, General Conference,Apr 1996 )
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Wife Never Expected Her Husband To Do This When Their Marriage Was Coming To An End. This Is Gold.



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Monday, July 01, 2019

More than Meat Machines



"We are more than mere meat machines programmed by our genes, past or environment. We are moral agents, and our lives are full of possibility" (Post on FB group Latter-day Saint Philosopher Group, Jeffrey Thayne, 19 Jun 2019

Mortal embodiment and gender

From "Embodied cognition and the content of our minds" Latter-day Saint Philosopher, 30 Jun 2019
When the Proclamation on the Family states that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” most Latter-day Saints (rightly) take this to mean that gender is more than a social construct or personal preference — it reflects something essential about our natures as sons and daughters of God. Further, embodied cognition hints that the lived experiences of being male and female are rooted not merely in different social norms and constructs, but also in differences in embodied experience and what those entail in the social world. 
When we strip away historically situated social norms and conventions (many of which may be important), most of what we know and experience about gender is somehow related to our physiology. If we take embodied cognition seriously, it might be that mortality is an important step towards more fully realizing gender — as in, making real or bringing to fruition what was before more of an expectation, anticipation, or foreordination. It may be that physical embodiment is a way of becoming gendered. And as such, at birth, we are stepping into, realizing, or taking up our eternal identity as sons and daughters of God. 
Some Latter-day Saints have argued that gender dysphoria may be due to a mismatch of spirit and physical gender; it is possible (they argue) that a “female spirit” to be trapped in a “male body”, or vice versa. This legitimizes gender dysphoria by treating it as a signal that a person’s biological sex is a defect that does not match their eternal gender identity. We have observed this idea spread and take root among some corners of Latter-day Saint thought, as a way of legitimizing the idea of gender transition and transgender identity — it is seen as a way of changing one’s physical sex to match the gender of their spirit. 
Embodied cognition may bring some clarity on that issue. What does it mean, we might wonder, for a man to say he “feels like a woman”? Prior to alterations done to his body, does he have any idea what it feels like when his breasts began to firm up, what it was like to have that first period (especially when it came on unexpectedly in class one afternoon), what it felt like to worry about whether or not he was pregnant the morning after, what it means to feel vulnerable in the presence of sexually aggressive males? All of these are physiological experiences, or psychological / social experiences that have roots in physiological differences. What would a pre-embodied spirit know (or correctly anticipate) of physical embodiment, such that it can later conclude that its gendered experience is “wrong”? 
The primary takeaway — which is wholly uncontroversial from a doctrinal point of view — is that, as male and female, our world of experience is shaped in part by the physiological possibilities and constraints of our gendered bodies, and the social and societal norms which arise from those differences. Gender is an essential component of our eternal identity at least in part because it is intrinsic in the experience of mortal (and resurrected) embodiment. Our entrance into this world as male and female is full of divine purpose, and not mere happenstance. Furthermore, physiological embodiment gives vast new dimensions to gender that were certainly not available to premortal spirits (at least, not fully).