My response to the recent conference and darn near every conference.

I think it is only fair that I explain why I advise LGBTQ people who are unhappy with the Mormon church and the way it is treating them to leave. I am not saying it to demean the LDS church, or to be mean-spirited. I am saying it because there might be an alternative, which some might find attractive and doable. I have not spelled out this alternative in the past because I was hoping somebody would figure it out on their own, but so far no one has. This post is an attempt to spell it out in the hopes that somebody will take the suggestion. It’s a pretty outrageous suggestion, but I am asking you to at least consider it for a second.

If you would like be part of a group of true followers of Christ, who want to honor their covenants and serve God and form eternal family units, but are prevented from doing so by a church that considers you and your friends as outcasts and apostates, then read on.

If you are looking to remain in a church where the main purpose is not serving the Lord, not building Zion, not honoring and strengthening your relationships, or not helping one another, regardless of one’s identity, but instead supporting a corporate hierarchy, or putting forward some political agenda, then this post would be of no interest to you.

If you are looking to serve the Lord, exercise your Priesthood, serve others, build Zion, and fulfill your covenants, in the most effective way possible, may I suggest that you approach the Lord in prayer, state your plight, and ask for further light and knowledge as to how to proceed.

Many people say that they have received revelation from the Lord that it is OK to be LGBTQ. I can tell you that it is OK, provided you abide by all your other covenants, to the extent that your church permits you to do so. But, there is so much more available to you. If you are willing to pray and ask the Lord whether He is willing to invite you to do more.

This is exactly what a group of gay and Lesbian ex-Mormons did in 1985. Our prayers were answered. We wanted to serve the Lord. We wanted to meet and partake of the Sacrament and teach and bear testimony to one another, but the way was hedged up, and we were at an impasse. There was no human way out of our situation, so we turned to divine help.

We started receiving revelation — not just one person, but four or five different individuals. The revelations told us only to organize ourselves into Priesthood quorums and ad hoc family units, and join faithful, stable, and worthy couples in temple marriage.

Most of us were Priesthood holders who were formerly LDS, but we did not consider ourselves a “break-away” group. (1) We were driven out. and (2) We were given a completely new dispensation of keys and authority, by revelation, and in a manner described by Joseph Smith and revealed in the D&C.

In the early days of our organization, we received many revelations about how to proceed in our unique situation. We extended the blessings of the Priesthood and the Temple to our members. We build a small temple/tabernacle structure and dedicated it. Despite our poverty and the meager surroundings, the feeling inside the temple space was the same feeling you get in a regular LDS temple. During the dedicatory service, several members reporting seeing angels. Angels were also seen in some of our temple services and sacrament meetings.

As long as we were seeking direction from the Lord, things were going great. I want to caution and emphasize that as some of the leadership desired to seek positions of personal power, and return to the LDS corporate, hierarchical model, the Lord warned us that we were “following the arm of flesh”. We persisted anyway, and the heyday of the church lasted only about a year and a half. The church continued to dwindle and linger for another 25 years, sometimes having as few as 2 remaining members. Eventually, the president of the church died, and the remaining leadership scattered.

The organization failed because we collectively, and not individually, failed to listen to the Lord’s counsel. Every day I read stories about LGBTQ Mormons, DADT, DOMA, HIV/AIDS, suicides, same-sex marriage, and I regret not having made the difference we could have made in peoples’ lives, had we continued.

It may be that the Lord has given us our one and only chance. Or, it may be that He is willing to take another chance on us. But, whether He is willing to invest in another organization and suffering through their learning curve, is not for me to say. There are plenty of affirming churches out there, if you want to join Community of Christ, or Reform Mormons, or any number of organizations. The Lord may direct you to stay in the LDS church, or join any of these other groups, or remain on your own. Or, take a look at the possibility I am offering. The Lord has much more available for you, if you will take it. The choice is yours.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of ALL Latter-day Saints (aka Restoration Church of Jesus Christ), the Lord communicated his love for us over-abundantly, and in return, we sought occasion against one another, and thought it more important to be the greatest in the Kingdom instead of being humble servants.

I once prayed and asked the Lord for forgiveness, as we had allowed His name to be dragged through the mud. He asked me, “Did you learn anything?” I said, “I certainly did.” Then, He said, “Then, it was all worth it.”

Would I personally try and start another group today? No. That experience still has me gun-shy, and, most importantly, I have received no confirmation from the Lord to do so. In fact, quite the contrary.

Instead, I am offering you a chance to go to the Lord and inquire about small, intimate fellowships, while adamantly warning you of the dangers of forming a church. But, if the Lord does direct you to do something, I would strongly advice you to humbly seek revelation and direction every step of the way, even if people criticize you for doing so.

I would also advise you to learn the Gospel and teach it. Learn the Doctrine of Christ, as taught in the Book of Mormon, and teach that. Teach people to make and keep covenants with God and with each other.

There are now other people out here “in the wild” seeking to live the Doctrine of Christ, and forming small intimate fellowships, which act as ad hoc families, the same as we started out doing in the Restoration Church. But, these people are focused on coming to know and become like Christ, following the teachings of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, the Bible, and the Lectures on Faith. They are preparing themselves as a covenant people, looking forward to the day when the Lord will bring again Zion, preparatory to the Second Coming of Christ.

The Gospel isn’t complex at all. It’s deceptively simple. But, it is strict and exacting. It isn’t to make you comfortable or affirm you, though these might be by-products. Focus on the Goal. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will be added to you. It’s a matter of where your focus lies.

The purpose of the Gospel is to change you and make you more Christ-like, and to build up His kingdom on earth in preparation for Zion and His Second Coming. You have a chance to engage in a work where your gender or sexuality is simply not an issue. You should expect to be neither shunned nor fawned over. It is simply not an issue. Of course, we comfort one another and bear one anothers’ burdens. But, we should support others’ burdens, not create them.

Treating Lightly the Things which We have Received

The Lord gives a warning in the Doctrine & Covenants

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received–

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written–

That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. D&C 84:54:58

This warning applies specifically to the Book of Mormon and the covenants contained therein.

Though, I am a big advocate of the Book of Mormon, and read it every year, I confess that I have been as guilty of taking the Book of Mormon lightly. There are so many passages that I just gloss over, and never fully read, assuming that I already know what is being said, or that a passage that is hard to understand is just something quirky and can be safely ignored.

The Book of Mormon claims to restore the “plain and precious truths” that have been removed from the Bible. D&C 20:9 claims that the Book of Mormon contains “the fullness of the Gospel”. But, at the same time, the Book of Mormon has come under criticism for adding nothing new to the Bible.

Lets take these points in reverse order.

I wrote a paper a couple of years ago pointing about 10 items that the Book of Mormon taught which were not found in the Bible, and if the doctrine was found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon shed additional light on it. I have come to realize that my treatise was quite shallow, and had missed the most important truths that were hidden in the Book of Mormon right in plain sight.

The biggest point that I missed were all the ascension experiences in the Book of Mormon. I have constantly pointed out to Sunday School classes and online discussion groups that the Book of Mormon encourages us all to seek and obtain such experiences for ourselves, but I failed to realize is that the Book of Mormon is a how-to guide for us. First Nephi and the visit of Christ in Third Nephi show what we must do in order to have our own personal visit with Christ.

Shocked? Does that sound new and radical to you? The Book of Mormon shows us how. It’s a “here’s who by who’s who”.

Christ promised all his disciples, that he would send another Comforter. We haven’t experienced the fulness of all that the Gospel has for us until we obtain this Second Comforter. The Book of Mormon explains how each person may obtain this for themselves, so the Book of Mormon really does contain the fulness of the Gospel, something only hinted at in the New Testament. These are the plainest and most precious truths that have been taken away.

The principles of the Second Comforter and the Holy Spirit of Promise are something we take lightly in the church. We tend to think the Second Comforter is only for “special people” like apostles, and we read about the Holy Spirit of Promise in Section 132, in connection with temple marriage, and when people ask about it, they get some vague or incorrect definition.

From: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/holy-spirit-of-promise?lang=eng

The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit of Promise. He confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of men. The Holy Spirit of Promise witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept.

From: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/1978/06/q-and-a-questions-and-answers/what-is-the-holy-spirit-of-promise?lang=eng

Elder Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine clarifies this further. He states, “The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Spirit promised the saints, or in other words the Holy Ghost. This name-title is used in connection with the sealing and ratifying power of the Holy Ghost,

NO. The Holy Spirit of Promise is Christ’s witness to you.

Lets get the true definition from Joseph Smith:

After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted, etc. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.

Now, what is this other Comforter? It is no more or less than the LORD JESUS CHRIST himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even he will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.150-1)

It’s promised to everyone in D&C 93:1 :

Verily, thus saith the Lord:
It shall come to pass that every soul
who forsaketh his sins
and cometh unto me,
and calleth on my name,
and obeyeth my voice,
and keepeth my commandments,
shall see my face and know that I am;

Back this up with some scripture:

88:3. Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.

88:4. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;

The Holy Spirit of Promise IS the Second Comforter.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 14:10 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

These are not just idle words or figurative language.

Eph. 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance …

When you put in an offer to buy a house, you present the seller with an offer together with a nominal amount of money. The money is called “earnest money”. It tells the seller you are earnest about buying the house.

Both Peter and John taught the early-day saints about this principle:

2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:9 (JST) Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him; and he cannot continue in sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise.

There is an office that used to be in the LDS church, called “Patriarch to the Church” or “Presiding Patriarch”. It entails far more than just giving Patriarchal Blessings, and far more than simply described here. Why this calling was eliminated is also beyond the scope of this article.

124:124. First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you.

Man can perform the ordinance, which is an invitation to prepare for the coming of Christ to you, personally, to give you the promise of eternal life. Many church members in high leadership positions, who have received the Second Anointing, have supposed that this automatically qualifies them to have a personal interview with the Savior, perhaps even in the temple and in conjunction with receiving this outward ordinance, but when they failed to receive this visitation, they conclude that the church is false and has misled them.

What they don’t understand is that while the Second Anointing is secretly given out to select church leaders and their wives in consequence of their service and devotion to the church. The Lord comes to you in consequence of your service and devotion to HIM.

Here is an apt description of those who have been disappointed and disillusioned.

58:29. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

58:30. Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?

58:31. Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

58:32. I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

58:33. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

They fail to understand the principles upon which this blessing is predicated, which are given in the Book of Mormon. They also fail to understand this admonition:

“Brethren and Sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when you will be chosen, called-up and anointed Kings and Queens Priests and Priestesses, whereas you are now anointed to become such. The realization of these blessings depends upon your faithfulness.”

This admonition is given early on in the temple Endowment ceremony and could well refer to the actual visitation of the Lord, rather than the Second Anointing ceremony.

Is this visitation just a nice reward for service and sacrifice for those lucky enough to receive it, or is it a requirement for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom:

D&C 73: 76:53. And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

D&C 76 also refers to those who “receive the testimony of Jesus in the flesh”. This is more than just listening to the missionaries bear testimony of Christ. It is the testimony of Jesus to you that you are an inheritor of eternal life.

Is it enough just to marry somebody in the temple, and your exaltation is assured? Better read the conditions upon which this blessing is predicated. This is one time when it really pays to read the fine print. This is the New and Everlasting Covenent, and It includes more than just marriage, but lets just confine it to marriage for purposes of this discussion.

D&C 132:7. And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these:
All:
covenants,
contracts,
bonds,
obligations,
oaths,
vows,
performances,
connections,
associations,
or expectations,

that are not:
made and entered into
and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise,
of him who is anointed,
both as well for time and for all eternity,
and that too most holy,
by revelation and commandment
through the medium of mine anointed,
whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power … ,
are of no
efficacy,
virtue,
or force
in and after the resurrection from the dead;
for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he wants to be more than a silent partner in your life. I hope these scriptures show you that He must be an active participant in your life and salvation, and everything that pertains thereto.

Two more passages are applicable:

“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” Alma 32:32

“O be wise; what can I say more?” Jacob 6:12

Here is a further discussion:

The sealing word of God; it must confirm or ratify a sealing for it to become eternal.

All mankind’s ordinances contemplate a further ratification from heaven. If one does not obtain this promise sealed by God, through His word — sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise — then there is no promise as pertaining to the ordinance. The only thing that will endure is that which is established by God or, more completely, through His word, which is then sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

The sealing of things through the Holy Spirit of Promise must come in mortality. This hope is to be gained in mortality as a gift of faith to empower the recipient to be able to claim it in the next life. Mortality is the time and place for obtaining faith and hope. When out of this life, the season for faith has passed, and the opportunity for hope has ended. It cannot be developed there.

http://scriptures.info/scriptures/tc/glossary/holy-spirit-of-promise

“Old Sectarian Notions”

There are a lot of “old sectarian notions” that Mormons accept without questioning or examining. The idea that we think we know it all, and therefore, there is no need to think more deeply about it, or query the mind and will of the Lord on the matter, it itself an “old sectarian notion”.

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a sect is that they have notions substituting for true factual and revelatory insights.

The Kingdom of God

This volume Revelations given to John Taylor and WIlford Woodruff contains seven revelations given to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff over the period from 1880 through 1889. These revelations were given to the presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but were never presented to that body for a sustaining vote, and in fact, the successors to these men in the presidency denied that these revelations were ever received. This is the reason why these revelations are called The “Hidden” Revelations.

Interpreted within the context of the times in which they were given, these revelations appear to some as speaking only of that single portion of the New and Everlasting Covenant known as plural marriage. However, the words “plural”, and “polygamy” do not appear in any of these seven revelations.

The Lord had a much broader subject in mind and simply used the questions and problems posed by the problems of that day to teach much more far-reaching principles: namely, the eternal nature of The New and Everlasting Covenant and the necessity to live the laws of God:

“My Son John: You asked me concerning the New and Everlasting covenant and how far it is binding upon my people; thus saith the Lord: All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by My Name, unless they are revoked by me or by My authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant; for I, the Lord, am everlasting. (1886 Revelation to John Taylor.)

For if My Priesthood, whom I have called, and endowed with the spirit and gifts of their several callings, and with the powers thereof, do not acknowledge Me, I will not acknowledge them, saith the Lord; for I will be honored and obeyed by My Priesthood. (1882 Revelation to John Taylor.)

Section 132 of the D & C makes it clear that Celestial Marriage is a new and everlasting covenant, but it is only part of THE New and Everlasting Covenant, which covers “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, [and] expectations” which should be “made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise”, and which endure in and after the resurrection. (verse 7)

What is a society if not those beings which compose it and those things which enable them to relate one to another. Section 132:7 lists just about everything that could be considered a relationship between two people, including but not limited to marriage. The Kingdom of God on earth, then, is nothing more than a group of people who are bound together in all their relationships by the ordinances of The New and Everlasting Covenant. Or, in other words, they understand and live according to The Gospel of The Kingdom.

Where does the church fit into all this? A church, as a body of believers, bound together by common goals and ideas, may choose whether or not to take upon itself the Name of Christ as a body.

A church may also choose whether or not to become subject to the laws of God as contained in the New and Everlasting Covenant. No church is the same as the Kingdom of God, but any church may choose to be subject to the Kingdom of God. In this light, it seems ridiculous for any church to proclaim itself as a true church any more than a club can proclaim itself a true club—let alone, the ONLY true club!

The only statement a church can or should make is that it, as a body, sustains the Kingdom of God and is willing to function within The New and Everlasting Covenant. Or, at the very least, supports its political rule for the sake of world peace. All this, as the D & C tells us, will be voluntary; it will not be the kind of forced rule we are so accustomed to in our present world. (See D & C 97:19, 105:32, 45:68-69.)

Beyond this, it matters little what additional customs or traditions a church believes in. A person could be a good Catholic, a good Jew, a good Muslim, as well as a good Mormon and live as he has been taught, provided that he or she obtains the Holy Priesthood, receives the ordinances of the House of the Lord, and lives by the covenants entered into therein.

This may seem a rather bold statement, but The New and Everlasting Covenant is not tied to any particular mode of worship, including and especially Mormonism. It will be that universal thread that finally ties the entire human race, with all its variegated cultures and traditions, together into one body.

What applies to a church applies to any other society, business, nation, or human organization whatsoever. In fact, this is how ZION will brought about – not by one self-proclaimed telestial organization conquering the globe with its truth, but when person after person, church after church, and nation after nation each realizes that man alone does not have the answers, and that only by aligning oneself with the laws of God will we ever establish the era of peace, righteousness, and prosperity that the ancients dreamed and sang about – the ZION of our God!

Authority and Wisdom

People who have to assert their authority don’t have any. As apostle is supposed to act in the name of Christ and be a special witness of Name of Christ, not in the name of the apostleship, which has no inherent authority in and or itself, only to act in the name of Christ.

I’m seriously wondering about the arrogance and sense of entitlement among the church leaders. The Spirit seems to be missing.

It used to be that when the First Presidency spoke out on a political issue, they didn’t take sides, but came up with a third-way solution that the average person would never think of. And the members were amazed at the wisdom they showed. Now, the church is in lock-step with the arch-conservatives and the Catholic Church when it comes to gay rights.

Surely, men of inspiration could come up with something more humane and still follow the Gospel. Jesus often came up with surprising answers that often irritated the authorities, but were completely in line with the Gospel. But, the time is long past to extrapolate and wrest from the scriptures,or put something in the mouth of Christ that he never said, or follow the views of some medieval Catholic theologian. They seriously need to get in touch with the living Christ.

Either that, or stand aside and make room for people who are willing to humble themselves and ask for wisdom.

The November 15th Policy

I see it as a unintended test (but a test nonetheless) to see how long people will tolerate being governed and judged by a book of rules they cannot read (unless it is leaked), and by “revelations” they cannot read and have no voice in sustaining.

The Law of Moses was intended to be a “schoolmaster” to lead us to Christ. Its purpose was to impose such heavy burdens on the people that they would be led to see the futility of the law as a means to achieve perfection and would be brought to that point of tension in their lives where they are forced to seek “a more excellent way”.

The situation is similar today. The Letter of the law or the Spirit of the law. Obedience by micromanagement, or obedience by following the Two Great Commandments.

There are many people, especially LGBT people, who are at this point of decision in their lives and are faced with choices they refuse to make. Gay, Happy, Mormon. They can’t have all three with making some complicated rationalizations which force them to “navigate” their way through life.

The purpose of this policy is to force a decision: either stay in the church, fall in line, support the leaders with all your heart, live celibate,and cease whining about about the policy, or leave the church, live your own life, make your own peace with God, and create your own relationship and your own family with somebody you truly love.

If this policy doesn’t force people to face reality and the decision they must make, the Lord will surely up the ante, and another, even more stringent rule, regulation, or policy will leak out and bring them even closer to decision.

What Attracted Me to the Church — Making Sense through Music

I was attracted to the singing and the music of the church. People in our branch used to sing the hymns with enthusiasm. I learned most of the words by heart, and they took on a special meaning for me.

We thank thee O God for a prophet, to guide us in these latter-days

My grandparents sang this song on a record. They walked into a dime store, once, and wanted to record their voices. It was the only song they knew. This hymn always reminds me of them.

There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home.

Again, this reminds my of my grandparents. They were really in love.

Trials make our faith grow stronger. Truth is nobler than a crown.
We will brave the tempest longer, thought the world upon us frown.

We used to sing this song in Sunday School. I didn’t know why the world would frown upon us, but it made me proud and it made me think that we must be doing something right. The time to be worried is when you as a church try so hard to fit into the world, that you forget what you really stand for.

Today while the sun shines, live to be true
Constant and faithful all the way through.

I wanted more than anything to live the Gospel and to be constant and faithful to it. It wasn’t until I later attended religions classes at BYU that I learned that the Church and the Gospel were not one in the same. The Gospel is everlasting, but the Church is only temporary. It was about that time, at college, when I saw many Mormons (in name only) lying and cheating the students, that my loyalties became divided.

When I saw how the students were treated, I wrote a little song about it. The melody should be familiar:

We thank thee O God for the profit, we made off the students this year.
It’s keeping two cars in the driveway. It’s keeping the fridge full of beer.
No, things aren’t so good here in Utah. We’re poor with a capital “P”.
So, thanks, Lord, for sending the money, so bail out the economy.

I decided at that point to embrace and remain true to the Gospel, and tolerate the church merely as a social institution, and also as a gathering place for some of the most wonderful people I ever met. I was in love with the members. I revered some of the General Authorities, like LeGrand Richards and Harold B. Lee, but didn’t think much of the church as a whole.

Do what is right, let the consequence follow. Battle for freedom in spirit and might.
And with stout hearts, look ye forth to tomorrow. God will protect you, then do what is right.

In Aaronic priesthood, we used to have monthly lessons with a theme. One of the themes was “Be honest with yourself.” Another one was: “This above all, to thine own self be true. Thou canst not them be false to any man.” In Primary, in the Co-Pilots, Pilots, and the Guide Patrol, we learned the importance of following the compass. In Scouting, my dad taught me how to steer a boat in a straight course by fixing on the goal on the distant shore and constantly making the necessary adjustments. The D&C advises us to be wise and take the Holy Spirit for our guide. To be valiant is to follow your testimony of Christ, despite all indications to do otherwise.

Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along.

My aunt says this was my favorite song in church, growing up. She says I used to sit on the front row and sing it at the top of my lungs. I have always had a penchant for putting action into words. Talk is cheap.

Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing, ’twas the boy’s first uttered prayer.

Every young Mormon child is familiar with this story, and with the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. These were always great examples to me of being valiant, as I mentioned above, and sticking up for the truth. The lesson I took away from the life and story of Joseph Smith was not that he was some kind of special demi-god, evolved far beyond us ordinary humans, but that if it could happen to him, it could happen to us, provided we follow the same principles he followed. The D&C promises as much.

O that we in the day of his coming may say, I have fought my way through,
I have finished the work, thou hast sent me to do.

I have always felt that my life had a mission, much as I feel that everybody’s life has a mission. We all have work, and rather than wait for somebody to tell us what to do, let’s be about our father’s business.

Growing up, I had all kinds of relatives in all different kinds of churches. My dad’s stepmother was a Baptist. I attended Baptist, Nazarene, and Presbyterian Bible school. Our cub scout pack met in a Congregational church, and I attended some youth programs at the local Methodist church. So I wasn’t a stranger to Protestantism. Oh yes, our neighbors were Lutherans from Wisconsin and we went to church with them a couple of times. Their pastor had all gold teeth, and I wanted to have all gold teeth so I would be a good looking angel, once I got to heaven. My step-grandmother gave us a book of ABC Children’s Bible Stories. For every letter of the alphabet, there was a story about a Biblical character or event that began with that letter of the alphabet. I was particularly taken by the phrase used to describe Abraham. He was “a friend of God”. I was amazed that a man could not only be a servant of God, but a friend of God. I wanted to become of friend of God. I later discovered that God wants us all to become his friends.

As Branch President, my uncle always went to Salt Lake City to attend conference. Back in those days, there was room in the Tabernacle for all the ward and branch leadership. I knew a little about Salt Lake City because I had aunts and uncles and cousins there and because we listened to Richard L. Evans and the Tabernacle Choir. That was part of what got me first interested in music.

My dad’s grandmother was still alive and she was a Pentecostal. My Pentecostal great-grandmother married her second husband, a really funny Italian guy, early in life, but Grandpa Galanetti did not convert. He used to say the Mormons on Sunday morning made more sense talking for 1/2 hour than the Holy Rollers did talking for 2 hours.

One year, my uncle returned with a picture of the church’s General Authorities. I looked at the First Presidency, recognized David O. McKay, then down at the Presiding Patriarch, which the church no longer has, the Presiding Bishopric, the Assistants to the Twelve. But what really caught my eye were the Twelve Apostles, for some reason. I was very interested and very curious about them. I used to love reading about the Apostles in the New Testament, and about the apostles in the church today. I added a new line to my little set prayer that I said every night: “… please bless the Twelve Apostles …”.

My mother was a member of the church. My father had not joined at the time, but he did attend church from time to time, and even stood up and bore his testimony in our little branch in Beaverton, OR. After my dad came home from WW II and the Korean War, we moved to a little one bedroom house in Beaverton. We had a large service porch in the back, and my dad hung up three Navy cots on the wall for us three boys. We had our own bunk beds. When we moved in, the house was unfinished. There were only studs separating the bedroom, living room, and kitchen. When several family members got the measles, my parents hung up blankets to the walls to keep out the sunlight, and everybody who had the measles slept in the one and only bedroom. My parents were concerned about my eyes. They didn’t want me to get measles, because of my eyes, so I slept in the living room and was not allowed in the bedroom. I never got the measles.