Category Archives: LDS Doctrine

Deacons and the sacrament

Not having a teaching assignment myself during Sunday School, I tend to bounce between Gospel Essentials and Gospel Doctrine, while occasionally going to neither and instead hanging out in the chapel with my iPad. A few weeks back, I happened to attend Gospel Essentials, where Phil[*], a lifelong (and still staunch) Catholic who has been attending our ward since early this year with an LDS friend, asked a very good question. He noted that in the Catholic Mass, it is the priest, the father, a man dedicated to full-time church service and who has been through extensive training (his words, not mine), who prepares and administers the Blessed Host. He questioned, then, why it is that we let kids prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament in our own church.

I am (rightly or not) considered the “go-to” person for tough or obscure questions in that class, so the instructor turned and looked at me. I started to give a fairly standard answer about the Aaronic Priesthood being a preparatory priesthood, but stopped before I got very far into that, because something entirely different came to me, something I’m not sure I had ever considered before. What I ended up saying was something like this:

The Savior, through His ministry, emphasized time and again themes such as “except ye be as a little child”, “the last shall be first”, and “the least of these my brethren”. It is perhaps in that spirit that He selects the youngest and least “qualified” of His priesthood bearers to perform one of the most sacred duties, to carry and give His body and blood to the congregation.

I can’t remember if I said much more beyond that, but I have looked at the sacrament with fresh eyes since then. I know that having deacons pass the sacrament is a relatively recent innovation (end of 19th century/early 20th century); nevertheless, it can serve as a powerful reminder that the Lord calls upon “the weak and simple” (always a favorite missionary scripture) to do most of the work of proclaiming His gospel. It is also a reminder that, from where the Lord sits, there isn’t that much difference between the “highest” and “lowest” of us. As I said in the post I just linked to, “[God’s] grace is not only greater than we imagine, it is greater than we can imagine.” The Savior on the last night of His life stooped to wash the dirty and calloused feet of his disciples; we should not scorn to take His body and blood from a 12-year-old boy.  ..bruce..

[*] Name changed to protect privacy.

Rethinking the Flood (part IV)

I’ve previously expressed my opinion (here and here, plus here) that the classic (conservative Christian) view of the Noachian flood — a worldwide immersion of liquid water, likely between 3000 and 2000 AD — is implausible due to a complete lack of geological, archeological, and ecological evidence for such an event (cf. this Dialogue article by Clayton White and Mark Thomas). On the other hand, as I explain in my posts, I do believe a major climatic shift happened that gave rise to the Flood narrative in the Old Testament as well as in many other cultures and traditions. However, I believe it had to do with event surround the end of the last ice age, in which a very sharp warming period was followed by a brief ice age resurgence (the Younger Dryas period), which in turn was followed by another sharp warming period. This climactic whipsaw appears to correlate with some significant human and fauna declines, especially in North America (where LDS doctrine places the pre-flood patriarchs).

I bring all this up because I ran across a diagram today, based on the Greenland GISP2 ice core data, that shows just how dramatic that climactic whipsaw was compared to climate changes since then (the temperature scale to the left represents a reconstruction of the temperature on the Greenland icefield based on oxygen isotope ratios; click on the image to read the original paper explaining the use of this ratio as a ‘global’ proxy):

Greenland GISP2 ice core reconstructions

Many debates are still going as to what triggered the sudden up-down-up shifts, each of which occurred very quickly. But I suspect the antediluvian and Noachian events occurred in this time period.  ..bruce..

Interesting commentary on the US District Court ruling on DOMA

The Defense of Marriage Act, passed by the US Congress in 1996, defines marriage as being solely between “a man and a woman”. Judge Joseph Tauro of the US District Court of Massachusetts just issued a ruling striking down the DOMA as unconstitutional. In so doing, he apparently stated that

DOMA marks the first time that the federal government has ever attempted to legislatively mandate a uniform federal definition of marriage – or any other core concept of domestic relations, for that matter.

Charles Lane, over at the Post Partisan blog of the Washington Post, responds by saying, in effect, “Uh, no.”

During the 1856 presidential campaign, the Republican Party platform had accused the Democrats of countenancing “those twin relics of barbarism–polygamy and slavery” and declared it the “duty of Congress to prohibit” both evils in the territories. Buchanan’s expedition was intended to prove the Republicans wrong. It succeeded only in provoking a few inconsequential clashes between armed Mormons and U.S. soldiers.

Congress subsequently adopted three increasingly harsh criminal bans on bigamy and polygamy in the territories: in 1862, 1882 and 1887. The Supreme Court upheld these laws repeatedly against Mormon challenges alleging, among other things, that they violated religious liberty. The 1887 law, the Edmunds-Tucker Act, abrogated the Mormon Church’s corporate charter and confiscated its property, on the grounds that its leaders encouraged polygamy.

The Supreme Court said that was okay, too. Echoing the majority opinion of the day, the court recoiled in frank horror at a practice the Mormons believed was ordained by God — but which the justices considered a “crime against the laws and abhorrent to the sentiments and feelings of the civilized world.” They compared it to human sacrifice. . . .

So it is a bit misleading to say, as Tauro does, “every [historical] effort to establish a national definition of marriage met failure.” Washington’s triumph over Mormon polygamy, made permanent in a national statute, would seem to qualify as a federal definition of marriage, at least in the sense of what marriage is not.

To be sure, Tauro emphasizes that the states have always had exclusive authority over marriage. Utah was a territory at the time of Washington’s effort to stamp out polygamy, and the constitution gave the federal government paramount authority over territories, including their domestic legislation. (That is why, technically, the anti-polygamy laws aimed at Utah also applied to Arizona, Oklahoma, Alaska and the District of Columbia.) Congress functioned, in effect, as the super-legislature for each territory.

Yet what is noteworthy about the Utah case is that Congress leveraged its power over Utah the territory into power over Utah the state. As a condition of admission to the Union, Utah’s people gave Congress a permanent veto over their marriage laws – a veto that remains on the books to this day. The fact that today’s Mormons are proponents of heterosexual monogamy and opponents of same-sex monogamy, is deeply ironic, but legally irrelevant.

What’s more, Utah is not the only state in which this situation obtains. The language of the Utah Enabling Act was repeated, word-for-word, in the laws that admitted New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma as states in the early 20th Century. In short, the federal government has shared authority over the marriage laws of four U.S. states.

Now, I have long been amused by those who state that efforts to allow gay marriage would have no impact on efforts to allow plural marriage. It has always struck me that any successful legal argument allowing gay marriage would have to, of necessity, allow plural marriage — I have yet to see a convincing argument to the contrary, particularly since plural marriage has a much deeper and broader history worldwide (including current active practice, particularly in Islamic and African cultures) than gay marriage does.

If Judge Tauro’s ruling is upheld, it would be interesting to see whether legal challenges to the Federally-mandated Arizona laws might arise from one of the polygamous religious groups therein (Arizona being, in my opinion, the most likely candidate for such an effort). Since Judge Tauro’s ruling does indicate that states can define marriage on their own, such an effort could be quickly ended by a de novo state law banning plural marriage (and for all I know, such a law already exists). But we continue to live in interesting times.  ..bruce..

Think twice, speak once (if at all)

Our youngest daughter, Salem (almost 24), moved back in with us a few months ago, due to problems with her roommates in the house she shared with others. She’s a delight — low maintenance and fun to have around — so we’ve been happy to have her back. She’s the manager of a nearby Hot Topic store, has a boyfriend and an active social life, so it’s not like we even see her all that often.

Something over a week ago, however, a box of peach-flavored green tea showed up in our pantry. Some of our kids (including Salem) are inactive, and we’ve made it clear that while their choices are their choices, we’d appreciate it if they didn’t bring some of those choices into our home. They’ve been very good about that, so I was surprised to see the box of tea appear.

A few days passed as I debated whether to bring the issue up and, if so, how. I left on a short business trip to New York without having made a decision. I got back very late Friday night and crashed when I got home, dealing with a worsening cough that I picked up on the trip.

Saturday, there were a few critical things I need to pick up at the store, so my wife Sandra and I ran out together. As we were driving along, Sandra was filling me in on the past few days, then said, “You know, I bought what I thought was a box peach tea for myself several days ago, but when I went to make some on Friday, I realized that I had bought peach-flavored green tea. D’oh! So I threw it out.” I chuckled and told her about having spotted it and trying to figure out how to bring it up with Salem.

Then I realized: the tea sat in our pantry for a week. Salem, if she saw it, knows she didn’t buy it and therefore is likely wondering if Sandra and I are drifting a bit ourselves. Great.

So a day or two later, I did talk with Salem — to tell her the funny story of what Mom did. A nicer talk, all the way around.  ..bruce..

The first sin: hiding from God?

The Anchoress is one of my favorite bloggers, because she manages to mix pointed political commentary with pointed spiritual commentary.  She takes her religion (Catholicism) very personally and very seriously, and I gain insights every time I read her thoughts.

Today, she talks a bit about Adam, Eve, and the Fall and puts forth the following observation (emphasis mine):

Their awareness of their vulnerability might have led to their excuse-making, too. Until that point they had enjoyed a blissful relationship with the Creator – there would have been no reason to fear and yet, suddenly attuned to their vulnerability, they feared enough to hem and haw and blame anyone else around, and aside from the serpent there was only each other.

Was the first sin, then, simple disobedience? That doesn’t really seem likely. Obedience, like anything else, must be learned.

Rather, I think the first sin was humanity not trusting in God but trying to guard themselves by hiding from him; humans covering themselves up both physically and metaphorically – with fig leaves and with the sloughing off of blame onto others – rather than revealing themselves and taking responsibility for their actions.

The taint of Original Sin: God has been trying to get us to trust Him, to reveal ourselves to Him and to be vulnerable (open) to Him ever since.

For those who have been through the temple, this observation carries even more weight in light of who makes the suggestion.  Food for thought; read the whole thing.  ..bruce..

The Second Quorum of the Twelve

The Nephite Apostles

[Note: this is a follow-up to the discussion in the comments to this post some months back (from the date of the original post in 2009). Also, I’ve made minor edits over time as I have re-read this post.]

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church . . . .
— 6th Article of Faith

Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem. And I write also unto the remnant of this people, who shall also be judged by the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land; and they shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem.
— Mormon 3:18-19

“[The Book of Mormon] tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists, the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent . . . ”
— Joseph Smith (from the Wentworth Letter, 1842; cf. History of the Church 4:538).

Back during the ‘Primitive Church’ era, it appears that there were 24 apostles on the earth, organized into two separate quorums: the Twelve in the Old World (led by Peter) and the Twelve in the New World (led by Nephi3). While it is true that the New World Twelve were never specifically called apostles within the Book of Mormon (though see Mormon 9:19 and Ether 12:41, either or both of which could be referring to the New World Twelve as ‘apostles’) , Joseph Smith referred to them as such (as noted above), and Joseph Fielding Smith cautiously agreed.

Mormon’s comments, cited above, indicate that the New World Twelve were subordinate to the Old World Twelve. In modern-day LDS parlance, we could refer to the Old World Apostles as the First Quorum of the Twelve, and to the New World Apostles as the Second Quorum of the Twelve.

Nowadays, however, we only have the (one) Quorum of the Twelve. Given the 6th Article of Faith, the question comes up: what are the chances of the Church setting up a Second Quorum of the Twelve, as existed in the Primitive Church? And if the Church did so, how would it work, particularly given the tradition of succession in the modern Church?

First, let’s see why the Church might organize the Second Quorum of the Twelve.

When I joined the Church in 1967, Church membership was around 2.6 million, with about 450 stakes and 4,200 wards and branches. The large majority of that membership was in the Western United States, Western Canada, and northeastern Mexico. Apostles and even First Presidency members would visit stake conferences on a regular basis; I got to shake hands with Pres. Hugh B. Brown and Elder LeGrand Richards as a teenager that way. Back then, each bishop was set apart by an Apostle.

Today, Church membership is approaching 14 million, with 2,800 stakes and nearly 25,000 wards and branches (roughly a 5x growth in all three categories). Over half of the Church membership lives outside of the United States. And we still have just twelve Apostles.

The gap has been filled by the Presidents and Quorums of the Seventy (not to mention stake presidents). They really are the eyes and ears and legs and hands of the Apostles throughout the world. But the collective Seventy still have to feed into just twelve Apostles. I suspect that the members of the Quorum of the Twelve carry tremendous administrative, spiritual, and ministering burdens — and yet in all that, it is the core of their calling to be special witnesses of Christ.

Imagine, then, how that burden would be lifted if there were a Second Quorum of the Twelve, another set of 12 Apostles among whom to share the load at that level of Church administration.

How might this work?

Let’s follow the model in the meridian of time and assume that the Second Quorum of the Twelve is subordinate to the First Quorum of the Twelve. Seniority in the Second Quorum would work just like, but be independent of, the seniority in the First Quorum. There would be no automatic succession from the Second Quorum to the First; instead Apostles in the Second Quorum would be put on emeritus status when they reached 70 years of age. However, the Second Quorum would provide a fertile ground for candidates to fill vacancies in the First Quorum upon the death of an Apostle.

In other words, it would work pretty much just like the Presidency of the Seventy works right now. In fact, I could argue that the Presidency of the Seventy fills the function of the Second Quorum of the Twelve, except that there’s only seven of them and they don’t have Apostolic authority (i.e., being sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators).

Now, what if that were to change? What if the Church dissolved the Presidency of the Seventy, organized the Second Quorum of the Twelve, and then organized the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Quorums of the Seventy, with an Apostle over each Quorum? Church government and organization is flexible as the times require; I was once a Seventy myself, and was even a President of Seventy (it was a stake position some 25 years ago — there were seven Presidents of Seventy in each stake). So it wouldn’t bother me in the least if the Church were to do this kind of reorganization. (I will admit being startled for a second when the Church organized the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy, though I believe a careful reading of D&C 107:95-96 allows that interpretation.)

As an alternative approach, what if the Church left the Presidency and Quorums of the Seventy just as they are now, but called an entirely new Second Quorum of the Twelve? This second Quorum could truly act as a “traveling presiding high council” throughout the Church, going as a quorum, in pairs or individually, to various parts of the world to help strengthen the church. In fact much as Elders Oaks and Holland did for a year in the Philippines and South America, respectively, members of the Second Quorum could live outside of the United States on a permanent or near-permanent basis, providing resident Apostolic authority throughout the world, while traveling back to Salt Lake on a regular basis to meet with the First Presidency and the First Quorum of the Twelve (though I suspect the Church would use two-way, satellite-based videoconferencing to reduce actual travel).

Given this second approach, I suspect that the Second Quorum would largely comprise Apostles whose native language is something other than English and/or whose native country is outside of the United States and Canada.

This approach would allow Church members throughout the world to hear in person from Apostles speaking their native tongues on a regular basis. At the same time, these worldwide Apostles could work more actively and directly with the governments of the countries over which they preside to help see to the Church’s interests in those countries.

This approach would, I believe, tremendously strengthen the Church worldwide, especially in those areas (Latin America, Africa, the Philippines) where Church growth frequently outstrips the leadership pool. And for those keeping an eye on the Last Days, it would also ensure Apostolic authority distributed throughout the world in the event of major war and/or natural catastrophes.

Any thoughts?  ..bruce..

Early thoughts on “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text”

FedEx showed up about a few hours ago with my pre-ordered copy of Royal Skousen’s magnum opus, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Yale University Press, 2009, 848 pages). This volume represents over 20 years of work on Skousen’s part to produce a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon.  I’ve been buried in the volume — starting at the front and working my way through — since it appeared. Having made it as far as 1 Nephi 10 (First Book of Nephi, chapter III, in the 1830 edition), I thought I’d come up for air long enough to log a few comments.

First, the physical production of the volume is outstanding (as one would expect from Yale University Press). High quality paper and binding, outstanding layout and typography. The book is large and heavy (as per Amazon, 9.3 x 7.6 x 2.3 inches and 3.6 lbs) but manages to stay open even near the front and back. The heft of the book makes it a bit hard (though not impossible) to read while stretched out on the couch.

Grant Hardy’s introduction lays out the case for accepting the Book of Mormon as a serious work worthy of study in the context of world religions — all the more so because we have so much definite historical and even forensic information regarding its creation and transmission (cf. Terryl Givens’ By the Hand of Mormon).

Skousen’s editorial preface in turn provides a brief overview of his methodology in producing the critical text, laying out his overall approach as well as some of his criteria in making critical text decisions. However, he rightly points readers to his multi-volume series on the Book of Mormon Critical Text project for detailed explanations as to item-by-item decisions regarding recovery or conjecture of the critical text.

Skousen also explains his presentation of the critical text: sense lines, (mostly) modern spelling, de novo punctuation, blank lines to indicate paragraph breaks, and a typographic insertion to mark Joseph Smith’s original chapter indications. Modern (LDS 1981 edition) chapter and verse indications are given in the left margin.

Note that the punctuation, sense line breaks, and paragraph breaks are Skousen’s; the original manuscript had none, and the printer’s manuscript didn’t have much more. Skousen describes his process thus:

As I prepared each section of The Earliest Text, I started with one long string of unpunctuated words. I first broke the text into sense-lines (described below); I then added the accidentals (punctuation and capitalization) as needed in order to make the syntax clear. (p. xlii)

Skousen then spends several paragraphs outlining his approach to sense-lines and paragraphs. While most paragraphs comprise some number of modern verses, Skousen is willing to break across modern verse or even chapter divisions, though he only does so occasionally. I suspect that what criticism Skousen receives on this volume will come here, since he is in effect inserting himself to the text. On the other hand, I frankly think he’s done a better job than Orson Pratt did back in 1879, and as I got into the text itself, I found myself wishing for an edition that left out the modern chapter and verse numbers (though I could simply use a bookmark to cover up the left margin). And since even the printer’s manuscript was (in the words of the 1830 typesetter, John Gilbert) “one solid paragraph, without a punctuation mark, from beginning to end” (cited on p. xlii), I much prefer Skousen’s approach to wading through a single mass of undifferentiated and unpunctuated text.

And the text is wonderful. Layout and typography make it very easy to read, and the presentation brings a fresh look to a very familiar text. I’ve worked my way through most of the five “Textual Variants” volumes published by Skousen to date, so I’m not reading this to pick up on those modifications per se (though Skousen lists in an appendix what he considers to be significant textual changes). Instead, I am imagining myself in a small room as Joseph dictates and someone transcribes. It is a powerful experience, one which I’m about to go back to.

Highly recommended.  ..bruce..

Another reason I’m glad we’re not “Christian”

Of course, by “Christian” I mean “Traditional Christianity”, which is the phrase often used by Evangelical and Catholic churches to define Christianity in such as was as to exclude the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And as far as I can tell, “Traditional Christianty” tends to start with the first Council of Nicea, so as to avoid all those pesky beliefs and practices of early Christians which suspiciously resemble LDS beliefs and practices.

But I ramble. Here’s my latest reason why I’m glad we’re not “Traditional” Christians:

Let’s look at all the ways that this cartoon does not apply to LDS doctrine and beliefs:

First, we don’t believe that Earth is the only planet on which God has placed His children. Instead, we believe that He has created “worlds without number” and that “the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” So God didn’t wait “14 billion years” for anything, but started populating planets long ago.

Second, we were all around back then, when this universe was being created. We knew why is was being created and what our role in it would be.

Third, even on our specific planet, Earth, God didn’t wait until Abraham or Moses and then “tell some desert people how to behave.”  He started with Adam and continued with Enoch. Furthermore, we believe that God has spoken to various groups at various times throughout human history, not just those recorded within the Bible.

And, of course, fourth, God is not a glowing ball of lightHe is our Father and we are His children.  ..bruce..

“Could Pat Robertson Be Mormon?”

Paul Abrams over at the Huffingon Post has a snarky and somewhat ill-informed article in response to comments that Pat Robertston apparently made about heaven. To give you an idea of the silliness of Abrams’ piece, here’s an excerpt (the bracketed, italized section is in the original and seems to suggest that Abrams didn’t exactly quote Robertson accurately in the preceding sentence):

Without hesitating a nanosecond, Robertson half-chuckled his answer, telling the viewer in no uncertain terms that if he thinks he is just going to spend eternity lying in a lounge-chair on a cloud, well, he’s got another thing coming. The Lord has a lot of work for him to do, he might give him (the viewer) a planet to manage, there are 200-300 million of them. [Btw, this is not an exaggeration, Robertson actually talked about lounging on a cloud and millions of planets to manage, and lots of work the Lord has for him].

Robertson knows this (and all else) because, as you all know, once a year Robertson spends a day with the Lord. Now, I must admit that I have always found it curious that the Lord, who is the Lord of the entire universe, measures time-cycles by how long it takes for one of his stars, the sun, to orbit the Earth, oh, I mean the Earth to orbit the sun–sorry, I forgot that we have revised that certitude–but I am not surprised that the Lord created exactly one planet for every US citizen, so each of us knows that there is an eternity of work in Heaven (and, let’s face it, not all of you are going to get there, and some of you are illegal immigrants, and the Lord will be damned if those people are going to get a planet to manage!–although, Lord knows, they do work cheaply.). . . .

Come to think of it, God himself (or herself, or itself?) is not exactly doing a hot job of managing this planet, so how could lowly me, or even Heavenly me, be expected to do any better? We’ve got wars, piracy, diabetes, cancer, poverty, drug-resistant superbugs, John Boehner handing out tobacco-lobbying checks on the House floor, socialism and the prospect of Arnold Schwarzeneggar making another film when his time as Governor expires (can’t you get him a third term, or a US birth certificate—anything?).

Illegal immigration? US citizens only? I’m not sure how Abrams made that leap, particularly given the fact that — whatever criticisms I have of Evangelical Christianity — they are most definitely a world faith and do vastly more humanitarian work in developing nations than Abrams and his ilk ever dreamed of attempting. Abrams then goes on to point out that “I always thought that it was the Mormons who received planets to manage in Heaven”, making Robertson a “closet Mormon.” Abrams then decides that this means that Robertson must be planning to support Romney in 2012, after having supported Giuliani in 2008.

I think that Abrams was trying to write a witty, satirical piece, but mostly he comes across as someone who is mostly interested in scoring cheap laughs by mocking others without learning enough to say anything really clever or actually applying any semblance of logic to his leaps.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll note that I actually appeared once on “The 700 Club” and was interviewed by Robertson. It had to do with Year 2000 issues (I had testified three times before Congress on the matter and was working with Fannie Mae on its corporate-wide Y2K remediation efforts). That, of course, is not to be construed as an endorsement of or agreement with Robertson or “The 700 Club”, either their collective theology or their approach and operations, and I’m sure Robertson would feel the same about me. But at least in my experience he took the time to learn what he was talking about.  ..bruce..

The nine billion blessings on the food

A common discussion among Latter-day Saints (and among many other Christians as well as believers in other faiths) is the all-too-easy tendency for prayer to devolve into mechanical recitation as opposed to, well, talking with God. That’s why this website (hat tip to Futurismic) caught my attention:

Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.

We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.

The website is well done, if a bit home-grown looking, and fairly complete. It let me go through the entire process of buying a one-time prayer and paying via Paypal (and, yes, I got the payment confirmation e-mail from Paypal), so it’s not (entirely) a joke. And for all I know, they may well have one or more computers set up with voice synthesizers.

Many of you will of course be reminded of Arthur C. Clarke’s famous short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God”, though the stated intent here is merely petitionary prayers, not bringing about the end of creation. They have sections for specific religions: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Unaffiliated, with corresponding prayers and “special package deals” (no, really).

They don’t have “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saints” on the list of religions, and when I clicked on the “Other Religions” button, a page came up with this wonderful headline: “We apologize but other religions are not yet supported.” What is both funny and a bit sad is that I suspect most of us could come up with a standard template for LDS morning and evening prayers, as well as blessings on the food.

So here’s the questions/challenge for all of us: what distinguishes our prayers (personal and family) from those that could be set up and recited by a computer?  ..bruce..