Parley P. Pratt
Parley P. Pratt Memorial, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Whenever you are having a conversation about the Church, you should try to make this a point; We follow Jesus Christ. We try to live as He taught us to do on the Sermon On The Mount. That is the rock-bottom basis of our faith, and the style of our lives. This is the strongest non-defensive position you can take. You don t have to defend or justify anything else when you are basing your position on the personal teachings of the Son of God, and the fact that you are doing your best to keep His commandments. So said Apostle Russell M. Ballard at BYU
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A Mormon apologetic was talking a few minutes ago. “If we want to be liked by the world then we must be more like them.”
He then mentioned a Muslim who was sweet and very sincere. He fully expected her to be far ahead of him on the road to heaven. Yes, it is true there are people in the world sweeter, kinder and nicer than a lot of our members are and I openly praise them for being so. But his conclusion that this fact should alter our purpose or change our destination? “We can't go on pretending we are better than everyone else or continue to wrap ourselves up in a holier than thou attitude.”
Oh My! What is he asking the saints to do? Slacken their pace? Bend their sacred vows just so the common man can call them jolly good tars and hoist a beer or two all across the stormy sea because we admit we are just like the rest of the world? How is it he hasn't strung a recent measuring tape across the dividing gulf, the widening gulf that separates the common man from them and we?
And this idea he picked up somewhere, that no truth is certain these days? It sounds to me like Korihor has been turned loose again. He has a right to express his personal opinion privately and publicly; I also have a right to express mine. Here is my personal opinion -- Look again, the Rock of Truth is still just the same.
1. God has a plan for our salvation,
2. Jesus is the Christ;
3. He bled and died on the cross to pay for the sins and pains of all of us;
4. His atonement can daily wash our troubled slates nice and clean. There is no one on earth that does not need to apply his atonement in their lives.
5. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ did visit Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove to usher in the Last Dispensation, the Fullness of Times.
5A They didn't visit him because he was a nice, sincere kid; they visited him because he was the prophet they had sent to earth to be the prophet called to open the Fullness of Times dispensation.
6. Thomas S. Monson is the only true, living prophet on earth today.
7. There is a shaking of the heavens coming, just before Jesus Christ returns to earth in His glory to rule and reign on earth as its official Lord and King.
8. The Holy Ghost can be our closest and most constant friend.
To me and for me these facts are certain and they are certainly true. Jesus is the Christ; He is real and He really is coming back. We don't know exactly how or when but we do know He has set up His Church and He has called us to labor in it. These are the most important facts in the world.
I claim membership in the same Church this apologetic Mormon does, but I have formed a totally different perception of the Church. I have found hypocrisy was totally absent in a very extensive majority of its members I have known, admired and worked with. Sincerity, dedication, and soft-spoken meekness are the traits held by 99% of all the brothers and sisters around me.
Perhaps the people our apologetic friend meets simply don't realize we are not just plain folks like the lay members in some other churches, but are willing workers, working in an official capacity in The Lord's Church. Perhaps the “common man” our apologetic mormon is worried about offending haven't yet learned that roughly 92% of the men in our Church bear one or another office in the priesthood. They have no frock and wear no cunning collar but their priesthood is quite real to them. Men, boys; girls and women all have work to do and carry no outward distinction the world can identify them by, except their purpose, and their zeal.
Ecclesiastical leaders around the world make themselves known and respected because they are seen to wear the collar or wear the outer garments of their office. Because of that distinguishing mark they ARE expected by the common people to be more devout and circumspect in their language and bearing than the average person. Mother Teresa, for example wore the habit of her office and the common people visiting her knew she was someone to be respected because she honored Her garments and humbly bowed her head to accept the privilege of performing that portion of the Lord's work allotted to her. It's true she labored among the poorest of the poor but she was not honored for picking up their habits and laying hers aside. Who could sit next to the Pope in his regalia without knowing he was DIFFERENT and distinctive in his desire to serve the Lord?
But if you notice a Regional Representative and a greeter at the door of a local chapel you probably won't know the difference. Just two weeks ago I didn't realize I was talking to the new stake president so their mistake is understandable, especially as most churches today are satisfied to call people lay members if they will just visit the chapel on the Sabbath for a single hour of passive listening occasionally.
Before people can become members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they have to promise they will work, WITHOUT PAY in the Church at callings extended to them. Anyone willing to work will soon find more of it thrust upon them. But you can't tell what office or what calling they hold just by looking. People could actually sit right next to the leader of our Church and if he were asleep or if there was no conversation spring up between them, not even perceive he was an extraordinary man.
Our members feel called to hasten the work of building up the kingdom of God. There is so much work available it should overwhelm them. The goal they accept is so high it should be impossible. The parts they are called to play are seldom starring roles; most posts aren't even visible to other members, much less to the world. Instead of a comfortable salary they are asked to donate more of what they earn so the work can proceed unimpeded. Yeas, we are different. We don't claim to be better than everybody and we especially don't claim to be better than anybody.
We come to the field as a group, trained to work as a group. Pick 100 of our members blindfold from a pool of 10,000 volunteers and they are still a group, trained to work for a common purpose as a group. Pick any 10 from that number and they will still be a group, trained to work together as a group where they are assigned a common cause.
We are delighted to recognize there are good people in every clime, race and creed of the world. We frequently salute their efforts to make the world a better place irregardless of their religious affiliations or spiritual nomenclature – or their lack thereof. When and where their goals are congruent with ours we are frequently delighted to combine our efforts with theirs for more impact. This is particularly true when the common goal of the moment is to render aid in times of disaster.
The ultimate goal for which most members of the human race labor is universal adulation and universal recognition while members of the Church are taught to reach out to embrace a selfless service they can perform to help make the world a better place for all of us to live in. Perhaps it is no longer fashionable to believe in Christ with the intensity we do but we claim the right to be different in that respect also and we are just as jealous of their right to be different as we are of ours.
The Saints are indeed a peculiar people; they live an entirely different life-style to most Americans -- and it isn't just the negatives either (no alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea, no games on Sunday, etc..)
Actually all of the negatives are positive anyway.
For example, when I quit smoking in 1967 cigarettes had just gone from 25 cents to 35 cents a package -- from a vending machine -- and I was smoking two packs a day. Therefore, today I would be spending $11 a day for smokes; That's $330.00 per month that I am saving every month, just because I joined the Church, and that's just the cigarettes. I was also drinking substantial amounts of high-octane rum when I decided to join the Church. I can't even remember the price now -- I was also drinking almost a gallon of tea per day in the summer time.
Consequently, when I joined the Church I was immediately happier, and soon to become healthier. Instead of dying before the century burned out, I'm actually in better health today than I was 50 years ago. By the sweat of my brow I raised 6 daughters to maturity on a ranch; only 1 of them and only 1 time, needed to be hospitalized for illness in all those years. There was also one time in the hospital that was caused by an older boy that couldn't win a race with her.
All of my children earned high marks in school, all of my grandchildren (so far) have earned full scholarships to college when their time came. Therefore I say that we are happier, healthier and at least an edge closer to wiser. That's what I mean by saying all of our negatives were positive.
If the prophets of the Old Testament had written their visions and revelations in the crude form we recognize as poetic today, where rhyming of words and cadence of reciting words that excites the sing-song silliness imposed upon a dead sawhorse for structure then every translator since would have marshaled a new monstrosity for their kin to marvel at. But their poetry was dressed on a higher strata of poetic strength. Their images were fleshed in parallelisms, sometimes inverted, often bilateral Doble ve entiende that captured images within images so neatly encapsulated they weren't even identified until several millennium had passed. Yet they had been passed through natural language drift, translations through translations. Still the sacred strain coursed with strength triumphant that lifted men's souls. The symbols hummed, the words vibrated, and the ancient meanings crackled with unmistakable power and glory. Voices untutored in histrionic syntax can bring to life the passages that have rang with crystal clarity down through the centuries before us, softly, reverently, humbly and gratefully as if the morning sun had barely left those ancient lips before it witnessed the same yearnings from lips of today."You can testify you have heard my voice."
Meet The Mormons
According to PEW
76% of the Mormon population living in the U.S. is heavily concentrated in the West. 35% live in Utah. 13% live in California and 7% reside in Idaho, 5% live in Nevada and 4% each in Oregon and Arizona. 12% live in the South (This includes 4% who reside in Texas), 7% live in the Midwest and 4% reside in the Northeast.According to data recently collected from Pew Research on Religion and Public Life, Mormons make up 1.7% of the American adult population. 96% of those who identify with the Mormon tradition say they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1% belong to the Community of Christ, and the remainder do not specify any particular Mormon group.
61% have at least some college education compared with 50% of the overall population. 38% of Mormons report earning between $50,000 and $100,000 annually.
The 26% of Mormons in the United States who are converts to the faith differ markedly from lifelong Mormons in several ways. 40% earn less than $30,000 a year, compared with 21% among those born in the faith. 48% of converts are over age 50, compared with 29%. 16% did not graduate from high school.
10% of the converts to Mormonism are black, and nearly all black Mormons in the United States are converts. 10% of Mormon converts are Hispanic, and just 72% are white; Converts are also more than three times as likely to be immigrants to the U.S. as lifelong members are.
The brother of Jared and those who went with him arrived at the shores of the sea, where they pitched their tents and lived with joy and abandon for the space of four years. Then Jesus Christ came and castigated the brother of Jared for three long hours.
Once upon a time I was castigated by the Lord God. Not longer than 30 seconds. Yet my pain was very close to unbearable and I felt it keenly for weeks afterwards and even today I shudder at the memory! So I can tell you from experience that the brother of Jared did not have fun during those three hours. But there was another lesson to be learned there on the seashore before they cast out to sea.
For when they had constructed the vessel in which they were to cross the great deep the brother of Jared was told that the waves of the sea and the winds that made the waves would be boisterous. Jesus told him how to get air into the vessels, but when the brother of Jared complained about the darkness inside them the Lord asked, "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.
And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?"
The winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come? Yes indeed. But think on this poor moment, the weather had been just fine for the past four years, hadn't it? The weather was so nice and warm that the brother of Jared and all his friends's worth tempted to dawdled in the sunlight and danced among the waves, yet yea, the friendly waves! But four years later the weather forecast had changed a bit and consequently they needed a different kind of barge to go across the great deep, perhaps one much more like the one that Nephi crossed the ocean on!
There is a moral to this story. "Listen closely when I speak!."
Enduring to the end is not another harsh burden cast upon us
Enduring to the end
is the one and only blueprint for success in living at any age of life.
There will NEVER BE a time in our lives
when ignoring the commandments will make us happy