Filed under: Joseph Smith, Mormon Church, Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon Videos
I am really excited to see the new version of the movie about Joseph Smith.
When I first arrived to the US (in 2001) I went several times to watch the movie The Testaments, one of my favorite movies ever. When they finally released the Joseph Smith movie I thought that it could not be better than The Testaments, but I was actually impressed by the new movie. I have not decided yet which one is better, but the few things I have heard about the new version make me feel that I will probably like it even more now.
According to LdsMediaTalk,
This is the first full-length motion picture the Church has released on the Internet. It is a revised version of the film that has been shown since 2005 in the Joseph Smith Building in Salt Lake City and in 19 visitors' centers around the world. The revisions are to make it more easily understood by a wider audience, now that it is available to everyone online.
Ron Munns, who produced the original film, said, "The first Joseph Smith film was excellent and was well received by many. However, some parts were not easily understood if you did not already know the story. Everyone comes to the film with different backgrounds and knowledge and we wanted to make sure that every person who sees the film walks away with a better understanding of the Prophet Joseph and what he did."
In the new version, "there is less focus on Joseph the man and more focus on Joseph the prophet. It's the same story, just with a different emphasis," said John Garbett, who produced the new movie. For example, a scene showing a leg operation Joseph had as a young boy was removed because it was less essential to the purpose of the film. Those who have seen the film before will notice that the revised version has a new narrator: an actress representing Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph's mother.
"We chose this device to tell the story because Lucy Mack Smith was an eyewitness to everything that happened," Garbett said. "This is a mother talking about her son in her own words."
Now, I need to leave and go take a look at the movie!
Filed under: Book of Mormon, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
When I first started investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) with the Mormon missionaries, I had to accept many things by faith. My investigation was actually a relatively short process, shortened by faith, because in spite of being attracted by the general vision and basic principles of the Church, and by the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, there were so many things that were so new and strange, especially in the Book of Mormon that could only be accepted by faith. There was no time to investigate all of them. The Jaredites story was definitively one of them. But there was one verse in the Book of Ether, that became my favorite and a key to my conversion, Ether 12:27.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about how lack of faith is so tragically linked to bad choices, for young and older people.
Hugh Nibley in his writing about the World of the Jaredites gives a great context to the my favorite scripture
Those without faith live in a world of their own which to them seems logical and final; they take the very unscientific stand that beyond the realm of their own very limited experience nothing whatever exists! God’s works to them look small, and they will never be cured of their myopia until they are willing to face facts and pass a test that only the honest in heart can consider without a chill of aversion. The test is this: “… if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; … then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
Faith is a gift of God, and I am thankful for it. Life can really be miserable without it, and consequences for individuals and people may be terrible.
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Families, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
In one of the last Mormon General Conferences Elder Ballard during the priesthood session talked about the relationship that should exist between fathers and sons.
Tonight I want to talk to you fathers and sons about how you talk to each other. There is no other relationship quite like that which can and should exist between a boy and his dad. It can be one of the most nurturing, joyful relationships in life, one that can have a profound impact on who boys become and also on who dads become. Now, I understand that some of you young men do not have fathers with whom you can have these kinds of conversations. And some of you men do not have sons or have lost your sons to accident or illness. But much of what I say tonight will apply to uncles and grandfathers and priesthood leaders and other mentors who sometimes fill the gaps for these significant father-son relationships. You see, we're all on a journey. Dads are a little further down the road, but none of us has yet arrived at our final destination. We are all in the process of becoming who we will one day be. Fathers and sons can play a critical role in helping each other become the best that they can be. (Fathers and Sons: A Remarkable Relationship)
More recently Mormon Messages launched this video about how a father and a son were able to improve their relationship. In this case the story is about a step son and a step father, and those relationships are usually fraught with more challenges, but the principles taught by Elder Ballard apply to every father and son relationship.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
I have noticed that there are some people who think that prophets are a thing of the past, and that after Jesus came on earth, we do not really need them anymore.
Usually, people who think this, also think that a modern prophet must be a false prophet by default, and they even use the scriptures to show passages about false prophets.
What many of these people seem to miss, is that the scriptures talk about false prophets to distinguish them from the true prophets. Therefore, there must also be true prophets. And even more important, people may be acting and teaching as a prophet even if they call themselves with other names. Political leaders in many cases act as prophets, even rock bands spread their “gospel” through their music.
I think that the following discussion from Bruce McConkie is very useful to help us understand the purpose of prophets and the real difference between true and false prophets.
True Prophets Reveal True Doctrines (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p.68)
Our attention now turns to what the inspired word has to say about the false teachers, false ministers, and false prophets who shall spew forth their damning doctrines in the days of desolation and sorrow that precede the Second Coming of the true Teacher, the chief Minister, and the presiding Prophet. Their presence is one of the signs of the times, and they shall prophesy and teach so near the truth “that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (JS-M 1:22.)
Lest we be deceived, we must know the differences between true and false prophets. “Beware of false prophets,” Jesus said (Matt. 7:15), and we cannot recognize a false prophet unless we know what a true one is.
Our whole system of revealed religion calls for us to believe in true prophets, to cleave unto their counsels, and to conform to the word of the Lord that falls from their lips. Prophets and seers, how great they are! They stand in the place and stead of the Lord Jesus in administering salvation to fallen man. Their vision is endless and their understanding reaches to heaven. What, then, is the nature and mission of a true prophet?
A prophet is a living witness of the divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is one who knows by personal revelation that Jesus is the Lord who worked out the infinite and eternal atonement by which salvation comes. This “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10), and one so gifted and so endowed has power, if need be, to “prophesy of all things” (Mosiah 5:3).
A prophet is a legal administrator who has been called of God to represent him in teaching the doctrines of salvation to men on earth. He is one who is empowered to perform the ordinances of salvation so they will be binding on earth and sealed everlastingly in the heavens. He is a teacher of eternal truth; he expounds the plan of salvation. He is a witness of the Lord; he testifies of Christ. He is a minister; he does everything for mortal men that is needed to save and exalt them in the highest heaven. When called to the ministry, he holds the priesthood and is endowed with power from on high. It is his privilege to receive revelation, to see visions, to entertain angels, and to see the face of God.
True prophets are always found in the true Church, and false prophets, as we shall see, are always found in false churches. In setting forth the chief identifying characteristics of the Lord’s Church, Paul said: “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Cor. 12:28.) Indeed, the saints and the Church “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph. 2:19-20.)
Where there are apostles and prophets, there is the Church and kingdom of God on earth; and where these are not, the true Church and the divine kingdom are not present. How can a church be the Lord’s Church unless it receives revelation from him? Who can head up the Lord’s work on earth if there are no prophets? Who can preach and teach true doctrines without prophetic insight? Who can perform the ordinances of salvation with binding certainty and sealing surety unless they are legal administrators endowed with power from on high?
And so it is written that Christ “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”-all given as “gifts unto men.” For what purpose? They are given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
How long are they to remain in the Church? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith”; until that millennial day when every living soul is converted to the truth; until righteous men are prepared to receive their own instructions direct from the Lord.
What blessings come to men because there are apostles and prophets? These are many. The chief are that obedient persons have power to press forward in righteousness, to gain “the knowledge of the Son of God,” to perfect their souls, and to become joint-heirs with Christ, than which there are no greater blessings. Further, those who give heed to true prophets and who take apostolic counsel are not “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” They know the truth and are not deceived by false prophets and teachers. Those who “lie in wait to deceive” to have no power over them. They are not moved “by the sleight of men, and [the] cunning craftiness” of evil and designing persons. (Eph. 4:11-14.)
In this probationary estate we must choose between good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness. We must pursue an upward or a downward course; we must get nearer to the Lord or nearer to the devil. God’s voice and his counsel come from the light of Christ and by way of his prophets; the devil’s enticements are whispered into the minds of men from an evil source and are taught by false prophets who represent him whose word they teach. All men follow either true or false prophets. Those who do not give heed to the divinely sent representatives of the Lord, by virtue of that fact alone, follow those who are not of God.
(more later about false prophets)
Filed under: Mormon Prophets and Apostles, News & Politics
According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, colleges and universities have largely abandoned teaching religion and are actively pushing religious belief to the margins of society.
During his speech at Harvard Law School Elder Oaks remembered that most colleges’ and universities’ founding purpose was that of producing clergymen and to educate in the truths taught in their chapels. However, currently
“With but few exceptions, colleges and universities have become value-free places where attitudes toward religion are neutral at best. Some faculty and administrators are powerful contributors to the forces that are driving religion to the margins of American society. Students and other religious people who believe in the living reality of God and moral absolutes are being marginalized.”
See the full article at Deseret News.
Filed under: Internet & Media, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
Slate magazine's annual list of the nation's most powerful people over 80 years old ranked the Mormon Prophet Thomas S. Monson as number 1.
"The top spot this year goes to 82-year-old Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only person on the list to rule over millions of people as a prophet of God." (See 80 Over 80)
The placement of Thomas S. Monson at the top of the list is definitively a recognition of the importance and influence for good of a prophet of God. However, the article uses words that may mislead people into thinking that a true prophet of God “rules” over people or that he seeks for “power”.
This could not be farther from the truth. Thomas S. Monson served for many years in the Church before becoming its president, and differently from many politicians who get elected to public offices, he was not elected on the basis of a “new platform” or after a campaign in which he violently criticized is predecessor. On the contrary, he was chosen by God to continue what his predecessors did, in harmony with the will of God.
His power come from righteous influence and he does not “rule” over millions as a king or president, but he serves millions of people. He is not even the real head of the Church, because in spite of millions reverencing him as a prophet of God, he is the first to remember that the real head of the Church, and the real King, is the Saviour.
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon Videos, Videos
There are many reasons why people leave the Mormon Church. Fortunatelly most people do not, but still we need to be willing to help those who are struggling. The video below is a presentation by John P. Dehlin about reasons because people leave the Mormon Church and how we can help. I found an interesting comment to the video:
Most people are under the false impression that you have to be perfect to be called of God. People accuse Brigham Young of being racist and conclude that? he could not have been a prophet of God because of his weakness. You shall know them by their fruits, not their weaknesses.
This is an interesting and true concept. At the end of our lives we will be judged by what we did and even desired to do, all the good and the evil we did or thought. So, Brigham Young did a lot of sacrifices and good for the Kingdom of God but he was still a son of his time, and he had some wrong ideas about black people. However, it should be important to remember that most Americans were racists to at least some degree at that time. But obviously, there are different degrees of racism. There is a big difference, especially in the 18th century, between someone who would treat black people like animals and someone like Brigham Young who said inappropriate things about them, because of his limited knowledge or bias.
But some may say, ” Was he not a prophet? How could he make such a mistake?” Remember what Joseph Smith said, a prophet is a prophet only when he act as such, not at all times. Moreover, the Mormon Church was against slavery when many other Christian Churches were strongly segregated. Yes, the Mormons did not give the priesthood to the blacks, but other christians Churches for a long time segregated completely blacks from white members. Is not that racism?
As I wrote previously, some people have a wrong idea of what a prophet is (see http://giuseppemartinengo.com/864/was-joseph-smith-a-true-prophet).
This is the video with more interesting ideas about why do people leave the Mormon Church
Filed under: Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
I have read an interesting book by Michael R. Ash, titled The Shaken Faith Syndrome. I really recommend reading this book entirely, but I particularly like the part where he discusses the unrealistic expectations of Prophets that many people have. These unrealistic expectations come from members and non-members of the Mormon Church.
Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have heard the phrase “The President of the Church will never lead the people of the Church astray”. This seems to have caused some members to believe that prophets are infallible in their teachings at all times, since they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night. However, Joseph Smith and other leaders clearly taught differently.
Having being raised as a Catholic, I can’t avoid laughing at this comment comparing Mormons and Catholics.
The official position of Catholicism is that of an infallible pope, yet few lay Catholics really seem to believe it, while conversely, the official position of Mormonism is that of a fallible prophet, yet few lay Mormons really seems to believe it.
However, there are specific and sad consequences when people insist to act as if they believed that a prophet can’t make mistakes, or that all he does and say must be inspired at all times. For example, many ex-Mormons insist that they left the Church because of some idea expressed by some of the prophets in the past, even if that was never the official doctrine of the Church. They do not seem to understand that prophets are not born as prophets, and that when they are called as prophets they do not become immediately “divine”. They can make mistakes. They do not live in a cultural vacuum and therefore they may have bias.
Joseph Smith made mistakes, and he knew it and never tried to conceil it. In fact, modern scriptures have several examples when the Lord reprehended Joseph for his sins and mistakes. The same prophet Joseph Smith said that a prophet is a prophet only when he acts as such.
Same people would prefer differently, perhaps because they do not want to accept their personal responsibility of praying and asking God in order to receive a confirmation of what a prophet or any other leader of the Church is teaching.
Personally, I have no problems to believe that Joseph Smith and other leaders of the past made mistakes, because I have my own personal testimony of the true of the restored gospel and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I make mistakes and I can live knowing that prophets make mistakes.
Filed under: Jesus Christ, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
Prophets of God have many gifts and skills. One of these is to be able to explain or reveal simple truths that when understood can make a great difference in our personal lives and in the lives of our families and our society.
I have taken several sociology and psychology classes during my life and I have read thousand of pages from different authors. But many more have been written by scholars in those disciplines, who tried to find solutions for the problems affecting humanity, at the individual or societal level. Many experiments have been done following those theories and ideas, and some of them were catastrophes (see for example the application of Marx’s theories to build a better society). Others, at best, are limited, too limited to really make a permanent difference in the life of people (for example, the behaviorist ideas in psychology).
My purpose is not to trash all the efforts that have been done by human beings who tried to figure out how to improve our lives. In some ideas and theories there is a lot of good. However, this is the key point: human beings are not able with their limited knowledge and understanding to solve these existential problems in a satisfactory way. They are at best limited and imperfect solutions, when they are not clearly going in the wrong direction and make things even worse.
On the other hand, listen to what an inspired prophet of God said, with simple and clear words, without doing any statistical analysis …
The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature (Ezra Taft Benson, "Born of God," Ensign, Nov 1985, 5).
It is true that by changing the environment we can affect change in individuals, at least to some degree, but the real change, the change that will last and will produce the desired results of happy individuals and healthy societies can only be reached through Christ and His Gospel.
Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world (Ezra Taft Benson, "Born of God," Ensign, Nov 1985, 5).
Filed under: Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon Videos, Videos
It is sad to hear this comment from some very uninformed people and from others who spread this notions on purpose and not for a good one. The true name of the church is the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints). But the name may not be enough by itself to convince someone that the so-called “Mormon” are Christians.
If you have any doubt, but you sincerely want to know if “Mormons” are Christians, just take a look at this video, the testimony of a modern Apostle about the last moments of the savior on this earth. After watching this video, if you still think that Mormons are not Christians, then your definition of Christians must be very strange.