Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Baptizing the Developmentally Disabled

1) If someone is aware enough to want to be baptized without any pressure or coaching from others, and if there are no "worthiness" issues that would prohibit it, I have no problem whatsoever with that person being baptized.

2) We teach that up until baptism at the age of eight, the kids who are baptized haven't been accountable up to that point - at least not in the same sense as converts who are baptized. Thus, really, what's the difference between the standard eight-year-old baptism and baptism for someone who isn't accountable after being baptized?

3) We teach of the need to avoid being baptized "unworthily" - and it's hard to say someone who is not accountable is "unworthy", in the classic, traditional sense of how that word is used.

4) Baptism, the Priesthood, temple attendance and marriage are very different things, and I don't want to deny one simply out of concern about the others.

5) I understand, however, the concern that baptizing those who are not considered to be accountable could perpetuate the idea that they need to be baptized and, eventually, that they (and, by extension) all people actually are accountable from birth, no matter their capability to understand. I also understand that if one such person is baptized, others who have loved ones in similar situations might feel like those loved ones also should be baptized. Therefore, I understand the desire to maintain a bright line with those who are believed not to be accountable. It can be a can of worms that isn't worth opening.


I would have no problem baptizing someone who wants to be baptized - and if someone understands enough to feel like he isn't a "real member", I think he understands enough to be baptized. However, I personally would do it as a clear exception to the general rule - and, if I were the Bishop, I probably would announce the baptism much like if it were a convert baptism and say something very direct, like:

Billy has come to me and asked to be baptized. After talking with and interviewing him, I believe he understands the purpose of baptism well enough and is fully worthy to be baptized. Therefore, his baptism will occur at such a time.

However, having said that, I would support a Bishop completely and without hesitation who felt like he couldn't make an exception - even though I believe exceptions often are what give real meaning to the rules. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

I Wish We Understood the Book of Mormon Better

A church member said the following a while ago, and my response is below what he said: 

The Book of Mormon claims to be the word of God - every sentence, every verse, every page.

No, it doesn't make that claim - and, in fact, it says exactly the opposite. 

It claims to be a tiny abridgment complied exclusively by four people (Ether, Nephi, Mormon and Moroni) from a massive collection of various records written by mortal, imperfect people - with mistakes and "deletions" admitted openly and directly throughout the text. ("What I've chosen to include is not even a hundredth of what I could have chosen," means lots of stuff was deleted from the other records, if you will, in the writing of the summary.) It's not the Mormon version of the inerrant Bible - even though that's how many members view it.

This is a great example of what I've said for many years - that the biggest problem in the LDS Church right now with regard to the Book of Mormon is that many members (including many leaders at all levels) don't understand what the Book of Mormon itself actually says in a lot of cases. (I'm not saying I do totally, but I've spent lots of time and effort trying to parse and understand it - and it simply doesn't say or teach LOTS of things many members think it does.)

So, at the most fundamental level, I'm much more concerned about the church membership understanding what the Book of Mormon actually says than about exactly how individual members view it.  I believe it is the word of God; I just don't believe that means it is the inerrant (mistake-free) word of God, straight from his mouth to prophets to the page.  That isn't what it claims within its pages. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Idealistic Realism / Realistic Idealism: Striving for a Healthy Balance

Today is my birthday, and, as I contemplated what I wanted to share, I decided to write very briefly about the perspective I try to cultivate to direct how I interact with other people.  

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and trust them until they show me they are not trustworthy – and I’m not sure whether that primarily is because of my religion or simply my personality, inherited particularly from my mother (who is schizophrenic and, along with medication, needs peace and a lack of stress in her life to function properly). She was trusting and non-judgmental out of physiological necessity, and that probably rubbed off on me to some degree.

I have come to believe that a generally trusting nature is more healthy than a suspicious, cynical nature – even with the dangers of being too trusting. It’s finding the proper balance of idealistic realism or realistic idealism that is my focus – and that is not an easy journey. It takes conscious effort to avoid being too much of many things, since it’s so easy to gravitate to an extreme.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Appreciating Differing Scriptural Interpretations: The Power of Likening

I've shared how I like to view various scriptural stories and texts a little differently than the traditional interpretations we hear regularly and had people complain that some of those views seem to be at odds with the intent of the original writers.  I simply respond that I have no problem with people seeing those stories and texts differently than I do, and I have no problem seeing them differently, perhaps, than the original authors did - since my views work for me and others' views work for them. 

When we collectively "liken all things unto ourselves", we are bound to end up with differing individual likenings - since those doing the likening are different than each other.  We are not likening ourselves to a story or text; we are likening the story or text to ourselves. 

I appreciate that distinction and the breadth of possibility it provides for people to understand God and scriptures in ways that make sense to, resonate with and empower themselves.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being Farther Along than the Church - and the Nature of Proper Pruning

"Farther along than the church" - Steve Evans (By Common Consent)

 Normally, I would link to a past post from someone else on a Tuesday or Thursday, but I want to do so now in order to give the proper foundation to a couple of comments I made about the nature of pruning in an organizational setting.  This post is focused on those comments, but I wanted to provide a link to the post that prompted for my comments below.  I want, especially to highlight two things from those comments, so I will bold those things. 

I think of the allegory of the olive vineyard in Jacob 5 and the idea that there will be bitter fruit that will need to be pruned right up to the very end – and I see that bitter fruit as corruptions or lack of pure knowledge that causes beliefs in the Church that don’t match what God would grow if he micromanaged everything solely to preserve pure, eternal doctrine. In other words, I see corrupted understanding existing naturally as a result of the human nature of the membership (including myself) – and the need to prune imperfect understanding according to the strength of the root, even if that means experiencing long-suffering as a result of recognizing some bitter fruit and not being able to remove it completely through radical surgery.

The issue for me, personally, is trying to make sure I am attempting to prune along with the Master of the Vineyard as he works incrementally and cautiously – even if I personally think a more vigorous pruning wouldn’t kill the tree. If I’m going to make a mistake, I think it ought to be on the side of the type of patience Jacob 5 describes as being the Master’s focus.  

Btw, fwiw, Elder Oaks’ talk [April 2014 General Conference] is a major move forward – although it stops short of what many people would like. It took me four weeks in the youth Sunday School class I teach to go through it this month (since the topic this month is the Priesthood), averaging only six paragraphs per lesson. I am MUCH more concerned about so many members not understanding and accepting what is said in that talk than about any perceived lessening of fathers and husbands.
I also see intense irony in not accepting what Elder Oaks said in that talk (or what is said in the Proclamation) and clinging to former understanding and then criticizing someone else for wanting more than what Elder Oaks and/or the Proclamation was able to give. One wants less; one wants more. Both are natural and unavoidable for anyone who does not give up all agency and will and thoughtful consideration and personal accountability. When one side says, “You are rejecting the words of the prophets and apostles,” while simultaneously dismissing, diminishing or not accepting different words of those same prophets and apostles . . .

Perhaps, in some ways, relative to some issues, all of us are both behind and ahead of “the church”. Perhaps, part of the pruning is allowing ourselves to be pruned and not insisting on being only a pruner – and performing the pruning we feel we must do with the same approach we hope is used in pruning us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Would Rather Feed Nine People Who Need No Help than Make One Needy Person Go Hungry

But I say to you, deal justly, act mercifully and eschew evil. Do good to all men. We say sometimes, "I will not do any favor for that man, he is unworthy of assistance." I will give you a piece of counsel. Do good to all. It is better to feed nine unworthy persons than to let one worthy person—the tenth, go hungry. Follow this rule and you will be apt to be found on the right side of doing good.

Suppose we look around here. How many of you sisters have donated fifty cents to help gather the poor this season? Don't say you have no money. Have you not had fifty cents to buy a ribbon? How about that ten dollars to buy hair from somebody else's head when you have plenty on your own? Take the brethren, too, who wear needless clothing, smoke cigars, etc. Take all the money that is spent for tea and coffee and squandered in waste and how much could we get?

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 16:40

Monday, September 21, 2015

"True" Can Be Defined in Multiple Ways

"True" can be defined in lots of ways.


— n
1. the quality of being true, genuine, actual, or factual: the truth of his statement was attested
2. something that is true as opposed to false: you did not tell me the truth
3. a proven or verified principle or statement; fact: the truths of astronomy
4. ( usually plural ) a system of concepts purporting to represent some aspect of the world: the truths of ancient religions
5. fidelity to a required standard or law
6. faithful reproduction or portrayal: the truth of a portrait
7. an obvious fact; truism; platitude
8. honesty, reliability, or veracity: the truth of her nature
9. accuracy, as in the setting, adjustment, or position of something, such as a mechanical instrument
10. the state or quality of being faithful; allegiance


fact, veracity, sincerity, candor, frankness, precision, exactness.

In the first chapter of the Book of Mormon, Nephi defined true as being consistent with personal experience. 

I like the definition that means "pointed in the right direction" - as with "true north". 

In a fireside at BYU in November 2009, President Uchtdorf said:

Because we see imperfectly in mortality, not everything is going to make sense right now. … It’s true that ‘faith is not … a perfect knowledge’ (Alma 32:21), but as you exercise your faith, applying gospel principles every day under any circumstances, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel, and by this fruit you will know of its truth.  (“The Reflection in the Water”)

 In this quote, he used "truth" in reference to "the gospel" - so he wasn't even talking about "the Church" in that passage. That is a critical distinction to make when evaluating his talk and asking what he meant. "The Gospel" is defined properly, in my opinion, quite narrowly as one of two things:

1) the principles and/or commandments that Jesus taught;

2) faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

About the only way that "truth" can apply within that context is if it is focused on the eventual outcomes being what are claimed. There is no way to try to define it as anything related to "accurate in a quantifiable way" with that usage - and faith is all we have in that regard, since even Jesus promised trial and pain to those who followed him most closely. Thus, Elder Uchtdorf was 100% correct. The only way to "know" is through faith (and it requires faith to even believe that knowledge might be possible eventually).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Extremism Is Not Modesty - and Extremism Hinders Perfection

A friend once asked me why women's clothes are more revealing than men's - in the context of a conversation about modesty and how it is taught in the LDS Church.

It's an interesting question, and I think it's an important one to ask as a launching pad for any discussion about dress standards and why they tend to fall more heavily on women than on men.  The following response is nowhere close to exhaustive, and it is a bit generalized, but I want to include it in this post to make a broader, more important point about modesty and how we talk about it - and ought to talk about it differently - in the Church:

It's evolutionary (a survival of the fittest instinct to attract men and ensure protection), cultural (look at the fashion and celebrity industries, where "innovation" and "attention" are paramount), biological (there is a physiological difference between women's breasts and men's chests), power-political (most communal leaders throughout history have been men, and they think more about women's bodies than about men's bodies), etc.  It's a complex, fully human issue, and it is influenced by just about every aspect of communal life. 

It's not a simple issue that can be fixed easily, but I like the concept of leadership teaching the correct principle, without specifics (modesty meaning moderation in all things, not just those related to sex and how we clothe our bodies), and governing ourselves. In that way, this topic is no different than tithing (individuals determine how to pay, based on a general principle), Word of Wisdom (individuals determine how to be spiritually and physically healthy without unnecessary addiction), church attendance (individuals determine how much time they can spend in church-related meetings while maintaining a proper balance with family, job, community, personal health, etc.), and on and on.

True modesty allows us to do and be more than we can at any extreme - and that's interesting to consider when our ultimate goal is to be "perfect" - meaning "complete, whole, fully developed". Extremism inhibits that type of perfection, while modesty allows it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

If We Could Look into Each Other's Hearts

If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.  

Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. Be fair with your competitors, whether in business, athletics, or elsewhere. Don’t get drawn into some of the parlance of our day and try to “win” by intimidation or by undermining someone’s character. Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened. 

It seems interesting that the first principles the Lord Jesus Christ chose to teach His newly called Apostles were those that center around the way we treat each other. And then, what did He emphasize during the brief period He spent with the Nephites on this continent? Basically the same message. Could this be because the way we treat each other is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

During an informal fireside address held with a group of adult Latter-day Saints, the leader directing the discussion invited participation by asking the question: “How can you tell if someone is converted to Jesus Christ?” For forty-five minutes those in attendance made numerous suggestions in response to this question, and the leader carefully wrote down each answer on a large blackboard. All of the comments were thoughtful and appropriate. But after a time, this great teacher erased everything he had written. Then, acknowledging that all of the comments had been worthwhile and appreciated, he taught a vital principle: “The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing spiritually and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.”

Would you consider this idea for a moment—that the way we treat the members of our families, our friends, those with whom we work each day is as important as are some of the more noticeable gospel principles we sometimes emphasize. 

Marvin J. Ashton, "The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword" (April 1992 General Conference)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

There is Much Truth Outside of Mormonism, and We Can and Should Learn from It

We have multiple statements from prophets, from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley, that say explicitly and implicitly that Mormonism embraces truth no matter its source - and that God can and does communicate with all of his children who will listen, in their own language and according to their understanding.

Collectively, we don't live up to that in the LDS Church, but it's there in our theology in spades.  We can and should "seek after these things" - and we should be open to finding it in and adopting it from other religious and faith traditions. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Honoring the Faith(s) of Our Non-Mormon Ancestors

Pres. Uchtdorf gave a talk in the April 2008 General Conference called "Faith of Our Father". In it he said:

When my own family contemplates the phrase “faith of our fathers,” often it is the Lutheran faith that comes to mind. For generations our ancestors belonged to that denomination. In fact, my son recently discovered that one of our family lines connects back to Martin Luther himself.

We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fulness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.

We believe that it is a fundamental human right to worship “Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”


As the restored Church of Jesus Christ blossoms throughout the globe—now with more than 13 million members—“the faith of our fathers” has an expanded meaning. For some, it could refer to their family’s heritage in one of the hundreds of Christian faiths; for others, it could refer to Middle-Eastern, Asian, or African faiths and traditions.

I know the rest of that talk was a pretty standard interpretation of the Restored Gospel, but I really love the quotes above. Notice how Pres. Uchtdorf said "faiths and traditions" - not just "religions". We really should honor "sincere souls from all religions" - and I would add, "sincere souls who profess no religion".

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book of Mormon Criticism: Anachronisms Aren't an Issue for Me

As a former history teacher, and out of personal curiosity, I've read a lot criticisms of written claims that have been dismissed by later discoveries. The criticisms made sense in their time, but they faded into irrelevance in the light of future knowledge.  It really is incredible how common such misguided criticisms have been and still are.

That doesn't prove anything one way or another with regard to the Book of Mormon and people's criticisms of it over time, but it is fascinating how many claims of anachronisms in that book have dropped away in light of later discoveries. The best example probably is the elephant reference, since it occurs only in the Book of Ether, the most ancient record in the book (and we have no clue what time period that covers, really) - and since there are American Indian references to elephant-like creatures that would fit the general time frame.

Language (specific vocabulary words) is another non-starter for me, since "translations" always depend on the vocabulary of the translator and, almost always, include approximations for words that don't translate perfectly. (The existence of non-English, non-translated words in the Book of Mormon actually is a good argument for a "translation process" of some kind.) Although it often is a criticism, the use of "adieu" is a perfect example of vocabulary precision in the Book of Mormon, since the root meaning of that word fits perfectly (and I mean perfectly) the context of the passage - far better than any single English word would. I came to that conclusion on my own, because I wanted to see why in the world Joseph would have used that word - or, from a traditional perspective, why that word would have appeared to him. I looked it up in a dictionary, saw the original, complex meaning, saw where it was used and, just as importantly, where it was not used, and realized it was the perfect choice for the context.

There are legitimate concerns about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, including the way that King James Bible passages and phrases occur in it, but I've yet to see a historical anachronism that I believe is a serious threat.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Zion, in a Nutshell

Zion is its own reward - one we give ourselves, collectively, if we are willing to build it.

The core principles of the Gospel (love, faith, repentance) are the building instructions.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Analyzing Scriptures: Genesis 3:12 - Adam Did Not Blame Eve

There is frequent debate and disagreement about exactly what transpired in the Garden of Eden relative to the partaking of the forbidden fruit.  There are those who interpret the entire account allegorically – who come up with widely varying ways to liken it unto themselves.  However, even among those who read it literally, there are widely differing ways that the actions and statements are perceived.

One of the most often discussed verses, with the most wildly divergent perspectives, is Genesis 3:12, where Adam is quoted as saying:
The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
One common interpretation of this verse it to criticize Adam for passing the buck – for blaming the woman (and, by some interpretations, even God) for his actions.  However, when the words themselves are parsed strictly for what they actually say (especially when the PofGP version is considered), I believe a very different message and statement appears.

“The woman whom thou gavest [me]”

It is apparent in this phrase that Adam was referencing how he came to be with Eve – that they were together because God made it happen.

“to be with me [and commanded that she should remain with me]”

It is apparent in this phrase that Adam was referencing what God had told him about Eve – that they were commanded to stay together.  It also is worth noting that this commandment was given before the commandment to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – meaning that the command to remain together appears to have been viewed by Adam as the “first and great commandment” he had been given by the Lord.

"she gave me of the tree"

In this phrase, Adam simply explains very succinctly and accurately what had happened, and it is important to point out that there are no disclaimers that would add any blame or recrimination or anger or any other emotion.  As actually worded, this phrase is as dispassionate as it is possible to be.

"and I did eat."

This phrase, like the previous one, is a dispassionate statement of what happened, and it also can be viewed as a summation.  It is the conclusion of a simple and straightforward “this, therefore” juxtaposition.  The only question is if there is some contextual meaning hidden within the words – and I find no reason to believe there is such hidden meaning.

Therefore, I believe the straightforward meaning of this verse, strictly parsed into modern terms, would be something like:
“You made this woman and commanded that she should remain with me.  Therefore, when she gave me the fruit to eat, and I realized we would be separated as a result, I ate it also in order to remain with her.”
Personally, to add a bit of the background story, I would fill it out thus – knowing that it is going beyond simple parsing, but confident that it is not wildly speculative or off-the-wall:

“You made this woman and commanded that she should remain with me.  That was the first and greatest commandment you gave me.  Therefore, when she gave me the fruit to eat, and I realized we would be separated as a result, I ate it also in order to remain with her – and fulfill the first and highest law you gave me.  I had a choice to stay with you alone or be with her outside your presence, and I chose to remain with her rather than to remain alone with you.

I have read quite a few varying interpretations of this verse, but each of them requires that the interpreter make some core assumptions about the relationship between Adam and Eve – and, in almost all cases, those assumptions are a direct reflection of either our modern conception of relationships, an obvious argument for a particular politics- or gender-specific issue or a view that simply is not supported by the text itself.  As someone who sees the story figuratively rather than literally, I understand differing interpretations, but the one I have outlined is the only one that makes sense to me – given the totality of the account and the initial command to “cleave unto her and none else”.

Consider carefully the following point: “None else” includes the Lord, Himself – so, in a very real way, Adam was making the choice we teach that all will have to make in the eternities (to “leave home” and the presence of the Father and Son and embark on our own eternal journey as a united couple – “God” to our own spirit children).  Thus, I see figurative meaning in the Garden for both our mortal and immortal existences – and I see Adam’s statement in Genesis 3:12 as his straightforward explanation of his choice to accept the Father’s plan.  (I also see Eve’s partaking as a similar manifestation of her acceptance, but the difference between the two is a topic for another post.) 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Prospering in the Land: Communal vs. Individual

The Book of Mormon mentions repeatedly that we will "prosper in the land" if we are obedient to the commandments of God.  Many members interpret that to mean that each person who keeps the commandments diligently will be blessed with material prosperity - or, at the very least, that such a person will not suffer financially and will always be able to provide adequately for him/herself and family.  

I don't see the promise that way.  

Crap happens in a world directed by human agency, and many things are outside individual control.  Also, as it says in the Gospels, the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust.

I believe in the principle of prospering in the land by keeping the commandments - at the communal level; I do not believe in it at the individual level.

Life has taught me that - clearly and undeniably.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Helping Mend Holes in Our Church Fence

Why I speak up: our responsibilities as farm hands for the Shepherd - Cynthia L (By Common Consent)

The analogy in this post might or might not resonate with everyone, but I think the general idea is important to discuss. 

I also want to add that it is important to help keep the gates open as widely as possible for those who want to enter. Obviously, there must be some restrictions, but I am convinced we tend to create restrictions that need not be. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Reverence vs. Silence

Reverence in Sacrament Meeting is a hot topic among lots of people.  Of special concern for some is the fact that children are allowed to attend in the LDS church, and that means there are times when the noise level in Sacrament Meeting is obvious and, sometimes, distracting.  Some people argue that every child who makes any noise should be removed from the meeting, while others allow their children to play and be noisy to an extreme degree.

I believe neither extreme (forced, complete silence, through the removal of children, if necessary and bedlam) is charitable, desirable, uplifting, enlightening, etc.

I also believe that we do a grave disservice to the principle of reverence when we tie it strictly to and define it simply as silence. Reverence is an attitude of respect and awe, and it can be present amid noise and activity just as much as total silence.  It’s just like the simplification of modesty (moderation) to only a dress code. Neither aspect is the entire principle – and our over-simplification of them is more of a problem than anything else, in practical terms.

It’s not that we fail to enforce silence; it’s that we fail to teach and value reverence fully. That failure is just as much in the laps of the silence Nazis as it is in the laps of parents who struggle with non-silent children. In fact, I would argue that many of those parents are struggling explicitly because they understand the fuller meaning of reverence better than many of the silence Nazis – and that they are trying to teach their children reverence, not just silence.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Are Coffee and Tea Really That Bad?

Yes, coffee is bad in multiple ways - and for some people it is more addicting than tobacco and alcohol. I know quite a few people who drink coffee regularly who literally can't quit without getting terrible headaches - nearly migraines. I don't think there's a single benefit from coffee that can't be obtained from something else.

Tea? Some is bad for us; some isn't - and there are plenty of teas that are allowed by the Church in various places in the world. Wheat tea in Japan, where I served my mission, is an example. 

Ultimately, my main concern with using the things that are prohibited in the current Word of Wisdom policy is what I already said about coffee - that I don't know of a single benefit that can't be gained from something else, and there are definite risks for many people. That rarely gets mentioned and discussed, but it's important to me. (Wine is the best example, in my opinion. Who cares if a glass a night is fine for some people and provides some benefits? Those same benefits can be obtained from other things - that generally are cheaper, so why insist on drinking wine?)

My biggest concern about many of those who follow the current restrictions is that they often do so to the exclusion of the other counsel that is not part of the prohibitions. I've struggled with weight issues for the past 20 years, but I've lost about 50 pounds in the last nine months largely by paying attention to the non-prohibition parts of the Word of Wisdom and simply eating less. We should be much, much healthier as a people - and I believe a major part of that is our refusal to take the overall Word of Wisdom seriously enough.

I'm not saying the Word of Wisdom is an eternal law or that people who don't follow it religiously are sinning when they don't believe in it - but I think the underlying principles stated in it actually are eternal in nature: taking care of ourselves to the best of our understanding and avoiding addiction peddlers who care nothing about us but just want our money.

I believe those are really important things.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heavenly Kingdoms As Figurative Descriptions of Eternal Progression

I take the kingdom construct (Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial) figuratively as descriptions of the process of growth, so I absolutely believe in progression from "kingdom" to "kingdom" until each person reaches his or her own limit. I believe the final judgment happens only when that point is reached - and I think it happens long, long after we tend to believe. I take the classic breakdowns within the kingdoms to describe people in this life - and I think the general outlines in the D&C fit that time frame very well.

I believe God is WAY more charitable and powerful than we often envision - and I think he has eternity ("all eternity") to do what he wants to do. After all, "time is measured only unto man" (or however that quote is worded). Thus, I think we talk in terms that will motivate us here and now, but I think we see through a glass, darkly, when it comes to there and then.

Our theology is universalist in nature; our doctrine can't be as universalist if it is to motivate many people to act now. (opposition in all things means ALL things, even our theology and our doctrine) I get that tension, and I'm OK with it - even as I wish we could strike a balance that would work better for me and lots of others I know.

As to life without my loved ones, one of my favorite scenes from any movie is near the end of "What Dreams May Come" - where the husband thanks his wife for being the person he would rather be with forever in Hell than without in Heaven. It's a powerful message, and it's how I feel about my own wife - and children.

I can't imagine God feels differently, and I can't imagine he lacks the ability to make it all work out in the end. After all, charity is defined as the pure love of God - and it includes "long-suffering". I think we simply can't fathom what that term really means.