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3 December 2012

Christmas Is Love
December 3, 2012


The true joy of Christmas comes when we focus on Jesus Christ, said Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spoke during the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 2 December 2012.

“It is easy,” said President Monson, “to get caught up in the pressure of the season and perhaps lose the very spirit in our lives that we’re trying to gain.

“The real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts,” explained President Monson. “We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.”


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First Presidency 2012 Christmas Message: Always Remember the Savior and His Gifts to Us
December 3, 2012


The spirit of Christmas creates in our hearts a desire to give joy to others and to serve them. At this time of year we feel a spirit of giving and of gratitude for what we have been given. The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember the Savior and His gifts to us and, in turn, to serve others.

Each act of kindness to anyone becomes a kindness to the Savior because He loves all of Heavenly Father’s children. And because that brings joy to Him, it also brings joy to His Father, to whom we owe thanks beyond measure.


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Mormon FAIR-Cast 119: Defending the King and His Kingdom
December 2, 2012


This is an audio recording of the article entitled “Defending the King and His Kingdom,” by Louis C. Midgley, published in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and posted here by permission.

Abstract: Some vocal cultural Mormons, busy asking themselves “why stay,” claim that it is not at all probable that there is a God, or that there even was a Jesus of Nazareth. They also ridicule the Atonement. In the language of our scriptures they are antichrists–that is, they deny that there was or is a Christ. Being thus against the King and His Kingdom, their trumpet does not give a clear sound; they are clearly against the one whom they made a solemn covenant to defend and sustain. Instead of seeking diligently to become genuine Holy Ones or Saints, they worship an idol–they have turned from the Way by fashioning an idol. They preach and practice a petty idolatry. Genuine Saints, including disciple-scholars, have a duty to defend the King and His Kingdom.


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Mormon Women Are ‘Admired’ But Still Not Equal to Men
December 3, 2012


Although the Mormon feminist movement is growing, 58% of American Mormons still think that the more “satisfying kind of marriage” is one in which the husband is the provider and the wife is the homemaker, according to the Pew Research Center. “The church is never going to [ascribe] to a particular vision of feminism that aspires to eradicate all differences between men and women,” said Terryl Givens, a Mormon professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Ooh, that “particular” form of feminism that purports that all people should be treated equally.


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Mormon Feminists Waiting for Equality ‘Miracle’
December 3, 2012

New York Magazine

Mormon feminists — not an oxymoron — are frustrated after the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints reaffirmed its stance that women serve a six-month shorter missionary than men, the Los Angeles Times reports (h/t Jezebel). Although Mormon women are active in the church, they say it’s a separate-but-(un)equal thing. Women cannot be ordained, for example, but are allowed to run its Relief Society. Mormon blogger Jana Riess called it “progress with an asterisk.” She wrote, “No man gets the right to reassure me that I’m his equal when every single outward sign of how the church is run tells a different story.”


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For Mormon feminists, progress ‘with an asterisk’
December 3, 2012

Los Angeles Times (California)

“I didn’t get it — why the difference in age and length of service?” said Eileen Mendez, a senior at the University of Utah majoring in Arabic. “Why couldn’t things be equal?”

For years, Mormon advocates for women’s rights have asked that same question about equality. Though the Mormon liturgy praises women as life-givers, men dominate the management of the church. Women cannot be ordained to a lay priesthood available to men and boys 12 or older. That gives men a spiritual and practical power that women do not share, critics say.

The church says that women’s roles aren’t lesser, just different. Church leaders point to the Relief Society as an example. It is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world, and it is entirely led and run by Mormon women.


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All Blacks great Jonah Lomu has become a Mormon and has spoken about what motivates him at church gatherings.
December 2, 2012

New Zealand City

Former All Black Jonah Lomu joined the Mormon church earlier this year.

Lomu, 37, was baptised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wellington, according to the church’s website.

He spoke to a gathering of church members and friends in Mangere in South Auckland in June about his life and beliefs.

Lomu said that despite some of the choices of his youth he always remembered that his mother had instilled in him the need to pray for guidance.

He said missionaries from the church helped answer questions he had been asking for many years and he and his wife felt that the gospel was right for them and their family.


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Mormons reach growth milestones in Africa, world
December 3, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

“In 2012, the Utah-based faith has made significant progress organizing new stakes in countries that previously had no stakes,” Martinich writes on his blog. “Earlier this year, the first stakes were organized in Botswana, Cape Verde, India and New Caledonia.”

For the past few decades, the LDS Church has focused missionary work and humanitarian aid on that region of the globe.

For instance, the Ouelessebougou Alliance, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization, announced Monday in a news release that it is working with Islamic Relief, LDS Humanitarian services and the LDS Provo Missionary Training Center on a project to send 4,200 education kits and 4,500 health kits to the West African nation of Mali to benefit villagers in one of the poorest areas of the world.
Oh, yes, and a Brigham Young University graduate and Mormon entrepreneur, Yeah Samake, is running for president of Mali.


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Mormon teacher jailed over abuse of girl
December 4, 2012

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

A devout Mormon Sunday school teacher who sexually abused a teenage girl in her care has today been jailed for a least a year.

County Court judge Meryl Sexton said the woman was aware the girl was extremely vulnerable but her actions were not predatory.

The judge said the woman began abusing the girl when she was not coping with all the difficulties in her own life.


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Article works to get rid of the Heavenly Mother myths
December 3, 2012

Standard Examiner (Utah)

Meridian Magazine, a Mormon magazine, (its website is http://ldsmag.com) has published an excellent article by Warren Aston, titled “The Other Half of Heaven: Debunking Myths About Heavenly Mother.” (Read) It’s refreshing to see this piece published in Meridian, which is often a vanilla-plain LDS-themed publication. (Hat tip for learning about the article goes to LDS writer Joanna Brooks, via her Facebook page).

For a divine individual who is presumably equal to her spouse, Heavenly Father, Mormons are hesitant to discuss Heavenly Mother. As Aston points out, the most condescending reason sometimes offered for the silence on Heavenly Mother is that to discuss someone so pure would leave her at the mercy of the verbal and published criticism that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ receive.


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Romney rejoins Marriott board of directors
December 3, 2012

Chicago Tribune (Illinois)

Former U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday joined the board of U.S. hotel company Marriott International Inc, in one of his first public moves since his unsuccessful bid to unseat
Democratic President Barack Obama.

The move marks a return to a post Romney held twice over the past two decades, when he worked closely with members of Marriott family, who share his Mormon faith and have longstanding family ties. Indeed, Willard Mitt Romney is named after J. Willard Marriott, founder of the hotel chain.


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Musicians join forces to celebrate season
December 3, 2012

Lakewood Sentinel (Colorado)

Three area musical organizations will triple the holiday happiness on Dec. 7 as they join together in a concert called “Joy to the World.”

The Lakewood Stake Choir, directed by Joel Hillan (about 100 singers from eight different Mormon wards in the Lakewood area), the Lakewood Symphony Orchestra, directed by Matthew Switzer, and the Rocky Mountain Ringers, directed by Jeffrey Harms, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7.

The concert will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6465 W. Jewell Ave., Lakewood. Admission is free, however the audience is invited to donate unwrapped gifts for children ages 1-12 to benefit the Action Center’s Santa Shop. The general public is invited to attend.


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December 3, 2012

SB Nation

The Welsh Protestant foremen and mine owners hated the fighting Irish whom they employed and hated the Fighting Irish again on Saturday afternoons. No branding genius in 1930s South Bend, let alone on 1960s Mad Men, could have envisioned Hawaiian Mormon Manti Te’o a few generations later explaining Notre Dame’s goal line stand against USC in the fourth quarter last Saturday with stunning transethnic simplicity: “We are the Fighting Irish.”

Anti-Irish Catholic bigotry no longer really exists, and, historically, Notre Dame football has something to do with its banishment. But the Irish gave as good as they got, and ND football also has something to do with the decline in Irish bigotry towards African- Americans. And, now, the longstanding skepticism among Catholics toward Mormons will no doubt undergo reassessment thanks to the young gentleman Te’o. All that alone justifies Notre Dame’s lucrative television contract for producing that American rarity – socially useful entertainment.


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World’s Best Winter Festivals
December 3, 2012

International Business Times

Utah has the strictest temperance laws in the United States and a strong Mormon influence over culture and daily life, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood royalty from flocking to the Beehive State each year for two weeks of film and fun. America’s preeminent independent film festival takes over the ski bum town of Park City on Jan. 17, flooding the quiet streets with nearly 50,000 attendees. It’s definitely a see-and-be-seen affair with parka-clad movie stars and wannabes shuttling between screenings, the bunny slope and the Sky Lodge, wondering all the while which indie gem will be this year’s “Little Miss Sunshine.”


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Common Grounds and Common Sense
December 3, 2012

Huffington Post

Jeffress was in the news a long while back as a result of his accusation that Mitt Romney, as a member of the Mormon cult, is not a Christian. More noteworthy but overlooked was Jeffress’s self-answered questions when he introduced Rick Perry at a Value Voter Summit, before the Perry campaign self-imploded:

“Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience or one who is a conservative out of deep conviction? Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person — or one who is a born-again follower of the lord Jesus Christ?”


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MARTYRS’ CROSSING: a provoking play
December 3, 2012

Utah Theater Bloggers

If you have ever had the good fortune to take a dramatic theory and criticism course, you’ll know that there are dozens of discourses throughout history on the function of theatre. While I certainly admit that I can heartily enjoy a good mindless comedy, I more fully appreciate a play that makes me think. Melissa Leilani Larson’s Martyrs’ Crossing does just that. I would even go so far as to say that it fulfills another function of theatre: it serves as a reminder of our potential as human beings to be something great: the very image of God that we were created in. I realize this is high praise for a piece of theatre, and I should note upfront that Martyrs’ Crossing, under the direction of Brighton Nicole Sloan, has some serious flaws. But it is in a category of religious drama, especially that found among Mormon playwrights and production companies in Utah, that is so sincere in its spirituality that it can’t help but have success in its purpose despite the obstacles. Assisting in this success is the dramatic and spiritual zeal of current and former BYU students that largely make up the cast and crew of this youthful production at the Echo Theatre.


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Dan Lawlor: Why Can’t Rhode Islanders Give a Little More?
December 3, 2012

Go Local Providence (Rhode Island)

Utah, due to the Mormon Church, tops the list of charitable donations. The Chronicle writes, “The Mormon tradition of tithing is a primary reason residents of this state well outpace those in every other place in America. The typical household claimed charitable contributions totaling 10.6 percent of discretionary income.” Faiths of all sorts can inspire giving.


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Manti Te’o: the linebacker, the narrative, and the Heisman Trophy
December 3, 2012

Land-Grant Holy Land (Ohio)

Manti Te’o committed to Notre Dame in 2009 amid much hoopla and hula. The Hawaiian linebacker, by many considered the best football player the state has ever produced, turned down UCLA and USC, long thought to be obvious choices for him, to attend Notre Dame. If you think religion had anything to do with, you would be wrong, as Te’o is a devout and practicing Mormon. But the marriage between ND and Te’o was made, and the linebacker grew in his first three years at Notre Dame. As a senior, he is now the leader of a defense that has been the best part of Notre Dame football since 1988.


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California loses nearly 300 years of Congressional seniority with retirements, defeats
December 3, 2012

Southern California Public Radio

California’s Republican delegation has gone from 19 to 15 members, thanks to redistricting and a shrinking California Republican Party. Even before the election, three Democrats and four longtime California Republicans in the House announced they were stepping down for reasons ranging from wanting to spend more time with grandchildren to a desire to go on a Mormon mission.


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Lack of leadership responsible for crisis in my country, says Yeah Samake, Mali’s Presidential candidate
December 3, 2012

Nigeria Daily Times

DT: Mr. Mayor, Mali is predominantly Islam and if you win the election, you will go down in history as the first Mormon to rule the country…

Samake: (cuts in) Truly, if I win the election, I will become the first non-Muslim president. But beyond that, I am not running for president as a Mormon or a religious person, I am running because I love my country and I know, more than anybody I know, that I can solve the problems of our country. The people of Mali have seen this: I have been elected Mayor of an area that is 95% Muslim.

I am not bringing any religion into the city life. Religion is out of governance; I will serve the people with moral integrity. The people of Mali want a strong leader that has high sense of service. So, I am not running as a religious leader, my intention is to serve my people and I believe that despite our religious and ethnic differences – we should not focus on the differences, we should focus on who can do what for the country. I am not running on the hope that I am going to be the first Mormon president of any country or that I will be the only Mormon running for president in Mali that is about 95% Muslim.


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Whistling in the dark about Islam and reform
December 3, 2012

Get Religion

The Archangel Gabriel, by contrast, dictated the Koran to Mohammed, according to Islamic doctrine. That sets a dauntingly high threshold for textual critics. How does one criticize the word of God without rejecting its divine character? In that respect the Koran resembles the “Golden Tablets” of the Angel Moroni purported found by the Mormon leader Joseph Smith more than it does the Jewish or Christian bibles.


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