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Host of Angels by Mike Moyers

The Nativity — the story of God’s arrival in the world, clothed in mortal flesh — is a narrative of hidden glory, accomplished and recognized by those on the margins of Israel. An older barren couple miraculously sired and bore a prophet whose calling led to the wilderness, imprisonment, and martyrdom. A holy family under an unjustly presumed cloud of illegitimacy — the Lord himself, laid in a manger among the animals by peasant parents for whom there was no room in the inn — was subsequently a refugee family as well, fleeing a murderous slaughter of innocents. Shepherds unexpectedly beheld the heavenly hosts, not in the temple where the divine presence was expected, but in the fields. Divine manifestations were vouchsafed in the temple as well, to an unheralded few who stood in holy places: an ordinary priest going about his duties, and an elderly widow and aged man with Messianic expectations but without worldly titles or influence. …


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Sola scriptura will not get the job done. In fact, it can do more harm than good when fundamentalist idolatry of the written word hinders true worship of the Living Word.

Yes, the written word can be invaluably powerful in its reverberations across time and space, connecting us to those whose immediate presence we do not presently enjoy. But notice how the very description of its capacities simultaneously underscores its limitations: implicit in the potential of the written word to reach across time and space is the fact of that word’s generation in a particular time and place. …


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A carving depicting the baptism of Jesus, located in the Indianapolis Indiana Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The other night on Facebook I made a brief expression of gratitude for ties that bind. Allow me to elaborate.

The ties that bind keep us safe and secure. They hold us in place when fleeting (or even not-so-fleeting) feelings would lead us to wander or flee into circumstances that would end in regret. And they give us a laboratory in which we can learn by doing, growing through trial and error, without fear of being tossed out on our ear when we get it wrong. …


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Károly Ferenczy: The Sermon on the Mount

I recently heard a thought expressed by Bishop Robert Barron that resonated with me: noting our tendency to slide into either indifferent tolerance or coercive domination, he lamented that we seem to have lost the ability to have genuine arguments — not in the colloquial contentious sense, but in the classic sense of making a strong case to one another. (I was pointed to Bishop Barron by a friend in response to questions about a faith tradition other than my own.)

Therefore I #GiveThanks for those willing to engage in serious discussion about things that matter. By this I mean bubble-piercing, echo-chamber-transcending, two-way exchanges with ambitions that range from mutual understanding, to gentle persuasion to new perspectives, to loving invitations to change. Thus, depending on context and the nature of the relationship, the mode of discourse can range from exploration to explanation to exhortation. …


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I am grateful for a physical body. In all their variety, each is a precious gift from God, for which I #GiveThanks. Generated by a long line of mortal ancestors in a fallen world, some of these variations are conventionally regarded as imperfections, limitations, and even disabilities, and in fact each body will eventually cease to function altogether and return to the dust. Yet in due time we will be clothed upon once again, not on loan, but in permanent legacy; not by way of temporary probation, but in the power of an endless life, according to our preparation.

I care probably too much about my body, and always have, from my earliest memories. I rejoice in its capacities, and fret over what I perceive to be its infelicities and imperfections. Hoping to make the most of what my momma gave me, I spend a lot of time at the gym! (Not as much as I used to, but still… I know exercise can be an unpleasant chore for many, but it is better with friends. Many thanks to fellow participants and fellow instructors who make group fitness such an enjoyable and renewing element of my daily…


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[Unabridged version of a sacrament meeting talk delivered 11 October 2020 in the Melton Lake Ward of the Knoxville Cumberland Stake.]

And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another. (Mosiah 4:21)

So spoke king Benjamin, as his people were filled with joy and peace of conscience upon receiving a remission of their sins. This great blessing came to them “because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them” (Mosiah 4:3). In this moment of their own personal joy of reconciliation with God, Benjamin was quick to point out the natural sequel: their own hearts being filled to overflowing with the love of God, it could not help but overflow to those around them. From those closest to them — their own families — to those most estranged from their society — the beggar — the desire of their hearts would be, ought to be, to “administer to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants” — that is, according to that which they lack, which is worthy, and which they justly desire to receive (Mosiah 4:13–26). …


Aaron Thoma, a good man and member of our local congregation, passed away this past week. He was not an old man, but he lived with serious health challenges, which it seems caught up with him too soon. I marvel at the faithfulness and good cheer with which he endured these difficulties. Some years back he visited our home regularly as what we now call a “ministering brother.” I am grateful for his willingness to share fellowship and faith with our family at a time when I was not particularly receptive to spiritual things. …


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Photograph of the Rome Italy Temple; Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus; Rendering of the Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple

If recently-released renderings of soon-to-be constructed temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are any indication, it seems possible that use of the iconic angel Moroni might be drawing to a close. If so, perhaps it is an architectural counterpart of other signals of the Church’s increasingly global outlook and greater focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.

For Latter-day Saints, the angel Moroni gracing the spires of most of the Church’s 168 dedicated temples is traditionally identified with an angelic figure in the New Testament, described in Revelation 14:6 as “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” heralding the preparation of the world for the return of Jesus Christ to reign upon the earth. …


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With all the reserve of a seasoned and genteel scholar, and all the reticence of a sympathetic and gentle soul, Richard Bushman delicately and obliquely addressed the spiritual elephant in the room in a recent interview:

“Why some recover their faith and others do not is a perplexing question. People with the same information take divergent paths. … Those who leave the Church often present their decision as a logical choice based on new facts they have learned. I am not entirely persuaded of that. I think there must be something deeper.”

What is that “something deeper” to which Brother Bushman refers? Perhaps too often, reluctant to touch it with even a ten-foot pole, we exhibit an irrational fear of the rationalist maxim against the ad hominem fallacy. I would not say that questions of belief and behavior should be injected routinely into the handling of conventional subjects with conventional evidence, using reason and logic (though Brigham Young advised even this to Karl G. Maeser). But spiritual knowledge, and matters that bear more directly on the larger meaning, values, and direction of our lives, depend on more than conventional intellectual tools. As President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us, when it comes to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the command is to say nothing but repentance unto this generation. …


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“Every Knee Shall Bow” by J. Kirk Richards

The past months of our civic life have brought divisive and depressing cycles of abuse and rebellion. We grieve at racism and the exercise of unrighteousness dominion. We recoil from self-defeating disorder and destruction. While we mourn this tailspin of mutual hatred, the devil laughs as he joins these complementary partners — equal in distance from and from opposite sides of the strait and narrow way — in unholy and deadly embrace.

Jesus showed that fruitful versions of leading and following merge in meekness on that strait and narrow way. He taught and disciplined with gentleness and love unfeigned. …

Christian Cardall

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