Category Archives: Preparedness

Another perspective on the continuing crisis

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

— Sara Teasdale

[cross posted from And Still I Persist]

[full size (3008×2000) original photograph]

An discomforting coincidence (if it is one) [corrected]

[UPDATE AND CORRECTION] djared1 (see comments) points out that Pres. Hinckley’s first references to Pharoah’s dream in General Conference occurred all the way back in 1998; what I’m trying to figure out is how I missed this talk when doing my searches through the Ensign at  He also points out that the housing bubble began to burst about 7 years after this original talk.

Here’s the relevant passage (after Pres. Hinckley quotes most of the dream itself from Genesis):

Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.

So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.

We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.

I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent.

My father was then president of the largest stake in the Church in this valley. It was before our present welfare program was established. He walked the floor worrying about his people. He and his associates established a great wood-chopping project designed to keep the home furnaces and stoves going and the people warm in the winter. They had no money with which to buy coal. Men who had been affluent were among those who chopped wood.

I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people. In March 1997 that debt totaled $1.2 trillion, which represented a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

In December of 1997, 55 to 60 million households in the United States carried credit card balances. These balances averaged more than $7,000 and cost $1,000 per year in interest and fees. Consumer debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 16.3 percent in 1993 to 19.3 percent in 1996.

Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows. There were 1,350,118 bankruptcies in the United States last year. This represented a 50 percent increase from 1992. In the second quarter of this year, nearly 362,000 persons filed for bankruptcy, a record number for a three-month period.

We are beguiled by seductive advertising. Television carries the enticing invitation to borrow up to 125 percent of the value of one’s home. But no mention is made of interest.

President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in the priesthood meeting of the conference in 1938, said from this pulpit: “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103).

I recognize that it may be necessary to borrow to get a home, of course. But let us buy a home that we can afford and thus ease the payments which will constantly hang over our heads without mercy or respite for as long as 30 years.

No one knows when emergencies will strike. I am somewhat familiar with the case of a man who was highly successful in his profession. He lived in comfort. He built a large home. Then one day he was suddenly involved in a serious accident. Instantly, without warning, he almost lost his life. He was left a cripple. Destroyed was his earning power. He faced huge medical bills. He had other payments to make. He was helpless before his creditors. One moment he was rich, the next he was broke.

Since the beginnings of the Church, the Lord has spoken on this matter of debt. To Martin Harris through revelation, He said: “Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage” (D&C 19:35).

President Heber J. Grant spoke repeatedly on this matter from this pulpit. He said: “If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1941], 111).

We are carrying a message of self-reliance throughout the Church. Self-reliance cannot obtain when there is serious debt hanging over a household. One has neither independence nor freedom from bondage when he is obligated to others.

In managing the affairs of the Church, we have tried to set an example. We have, as a matter of policy, stringently followed the practice of setting aside each year a percentage of the income of the Church against a possible day of need.

I am grateful to be able to say that the Church in all its operations, in all its undertakings, in all of its departments, is able to function without borrowed money. If we cannot get along, we will curtail our programs. We will shrink expenditures to fit the income. We will not borrow.

One of the happiest days in the life of President Joseph F. Smith was the day the Church paid off its long-standing indebtedness.

What a wonderful feeling it is to be free of debt, to have a little money against a day of emergency put away where it can be retrieved when necessary.

President Faust would not tell you this himself. Perhaps I can tell it, and he can take it out on me afterward. He had a mortgage on his home drawing 4 percent interest. Many people would have told him he was foolish to pay off that mortgage when it carried so low a rate of interest. But the first opportunity he had to acquire some means, he and his wife determined they would pay off their mortgage. He has been free of debt since that day. That’s why he wears a smile on his face, and that’s why he whistles while he works.

I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.


It was almost exactly seven years ago [but see above] — October 2001 — that Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley stood in General Conference and gave the talk, “The Times in Which We Live“. Among other things, he said:

I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us.

I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn.

I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew.

I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).

Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it.

Joseph, of course, interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream as being seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. Pres. Kimball repeated the citation to the Pharaoh’s dream three years ago:

Our people for three-quarters of a century have been counseled and encouraged to make such preparation as will assure survival should a calamity come.

We can set aside some water, basic food, medicine, and clothing to keep us warm. We ought to have a little money laid aside in case of a rainy day.

Now what I have said should not occasion a run on the grocery store or anything of that kind. I am saying nothing that has not been said for a very long time.

Let us never lose sight of the dream of Pharaoh concerning the fat cattle and the lean, the full ears of corn, and the blasted ears; the meaning of which was interpreted by Joseph to indicate years of plenty and years of scarcity (see Genesis 41:1–36).

I’m old enough to have been through some uncomfortable financial times (think of double-digit inflation and double-digit interest rates at the same time), but the current mess has been brewing for about a decade, starting with the dot-com craziness of the late 1990s and followed by the subprime mortgage craziness of the past several years. It’s not going to be solved either quickly or without economic pain.  ..bruce..

Post-Rapture “friends and family” notification service

No, really.

Courtesy of Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) comes this link to a website that promises — for a fee — to send e-mails and do electronic delivery of documents to a list of people once the Rapture occurs:

You’ve Been Left Behind gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends For Christ. Imagine being in the presence of the Lord and hearing all of heaven rejoice over the salvation of your loved ones. It is our prayer that this site makes it happen.

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

We give you 150mb of encrypted storage that can be sent to 12 possible email addresses, in Box #1. You up load any documents and choose which documents go to who. You can edit these documents at any time and change the addresses they will be sent to as needed. Box #1 is for personal private information such as “passwords” and letters to be sent to your closest lost relatives and friends.

We give you another 100mb. of unencrypted storage that can be sent to up to 50 email addresses, in Box #2. You can edit the documents and the addresses any time. Box #2 is for more generic documents to lost family & friends.

The cost is $40 for the first year. Re-subscription will be reduced as the number of subscribers increases. Tell your friends about You’ve Been left behind.

First off, let me be clear: I’m not mocking this site. In fact, it strikes me as a logical step given a firm belief in a pre-tribulation Rapture — at least as long as you believe that those ‘left behind’ still have a shot at repentance. And if you do, it seems to me that the fact of the Rapture itself — not to mention the tribulation that would follow it — would probably do a whole lot more to cause folks to repent than getting a post-Rapture e-mail from someone who was taken. But if I earnestly believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture and post-Rapture repentance, I might well look into this. (Besides, the site itself seems to indicate that this can also be used to give key information to those left behind, e.g., accounts, passwords, and so on.)

I have no proof one way or the other whether this site is serious or a joke; a ‘whois’ investigation turned up little information other than that the domain was registered via Only time will tell.

Of course, the LDS view is different. We believe in an post-tribulation Rapture (though we seldom call it by that name) that will occur at Christ’s coming. We also believe that those caught up to meet Christ at his coming will then come back down to earth — still mortal — and start the long task of cleaning up the mess we’ve made of things down here.

faith-promoting story — Any story that makes you feel glad you’re a Mormon, even if you can’t bring yourself to believe it.

— Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary (Orion Books, 1981)

Of course, the question is — is there some equivalent notification system for Latter-day Saints? A “don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got to attend a meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman” system? The problem with that is that not only do Mormons have a hard time keeping secrets in the first place, we tend to make up more than actually exist (“faith promoting rumors”).

Beyond that, the Church itself is so well wired and organized that it already has the infrastructure to get out any notification worldwide in a matter of hours. Besides, the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman will probably be broadcast via satellite.

Other suggestions or comments? ..bruce..

Current votes for the Anti-Christ

OK, so I’m finishing my preparations this morning for teaching my Sunday School lesson (on the book of Revelation), and the thought strikes me: how many folks out there (and by “folks”, I mean evangelical Christians) believe, fear, or suspect that Mitt Romney may be the ‘Anti-Christ’ alluded to in Revelation by John?

Well, a very simple Google search (Mitt Romney AntiChrist) turns up about 26,000 hits. But, as it turns out, Romney is dead last on the list of major presidential contenders. Here are some searches for the other candidates as well as the current and immediate past Presidents and Vice-Presidents:

  • Mike Huckabee: 156,000 hits
  • Fred Thompson: 108,000 hits
  • Bill Clinton: 84,900 hits
  • Rudi Giuliani: 84,800 hits
  • Ron Paul: 82,700 hits
  • George W. Bush: 64,800 hits
  • Hillary Clinton: 63,500 hits
  • Al Gore: 62,500 hits
  • John Edwards: 61,200 hits
  • Dick Cheney: 40,800
  • Barack Obama: 31,700 hits
  • John McCain: 28,500 hits
  • Mitt Romney: 26,000 hits

Admittedly, this is a crude and inaccurate measure — all I’m checking for is the presence of the word ‘AntiChrist’ along with the candidate’s first and last name. But the results certainly are counter-intuitive: not only is Mitt Romney the lowest on the list, but almost all the other major Republican candidates are ahead of all the major Democratic candidates, John McCain being the exception — but he’s still ahead of Romney.

I may do more refined searches later. ..bruce..

LDS welfare system

Today’s Denver Post has a well-written article on the Church’s welfare system, including a focus on the cannery/bishop’s storehouse here in Denver. Excerpt:

The Mormon Church’s bounty and efficiency regularly spill over into global disaster relief.

Within two days of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Peru on Aug. 15, the church had dispatched a 747 cargo plane with emergency supplies from its headquarters in Salt Lake City.

When the 2004 tsunami hit Indonesia and surrounding areas, church leaders asked relief agencies what they needed most but couldn’t get.

The church then found a Chinese supplier that could deliver 50,000 body bags to the region within two days.

Between 1985 and 2006, the church donated cash of more than $201 million and goods of more than $705 million in disaster relief to 163 countries.

“The church doesn’t try to make a big splash,” said Lynn Southam, a member of the church’s lay clergy in Aurora and a stake president. “It just quietly gets things done.”

While a lot of people are aware that the Church uses its welfare system to care for its own, few people know of the Church’s extensive humanitarian services worldwide, almost all of which go to people who are not Mormons. ..bruce..