Nearing Kolob


Mormon Women Stand Quietly Removes Part of Blogpost

Mormon Women Stand Quietly Removes Part of Blogpost

There has recently been a lot of buzz around Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy. It’s new to many members, but (supposedly) not new to others.

Mormon Women Stand (with its ironic name) recently weighed in with a blogpost titled “Joseph Smith: A Virtuous Man”. The post is really just a lazy rehash of common apologetics.  One interesting thing that happened with the essay, though, was that one sentence was quietly removed.

Near the beginning of the post the author originally wrote (emphasis mine):

Books have been written and papers published that have accused, inferred, or suggested that Joseph Smith committed adultery multiple times. He has been accused of having married women who were already married to living men as well as having had intimate relationships with young girls. Many people feel like this is “important history” that the church had kept quiet. I have heard many say that these things have been compiled and written by the top scholars and historians of the day, so they must be true. Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have tabled these claims, saying they will understand why at some future date, without even questioning their validity. Guess what? We can and we should question their validity.

The underlined/bolded sentence was challenged on their Facebook page and quietly removed. Why was it challenged? Because the LDS Church just recently published an article on Nauvoo polygamy saying the exact accusations in the sentence. If the author had left the line in she would have been lumping in the LDS Church with the “accusers”, the other “wicked men consistently called the character of Joseph Smith into question”, and others who have told “vast lies” about him. According to the author, “we can and we should question their validity.” If the sentence had remained then her use of “their” would have included the LDS Church.

So what did the new LDS Gospel Topics essay have to say about the two topics in the removed sentence?

  • “Following his marriage to Louisa Beaman and before he married other single women, Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married.” (the footnote says: “Estimates of the number of these sealings range from 12 to 14.”)
  • “The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.”

Clearly the author either wasn’t away of the new LDS Church essay, didn’t believe the new essay, or she was actively trying to suppress and hide the informationin the new essay that is brought more into the open.  Either way, I am glad the sentence was removed, but I wish the entire blogpost had been removed as well.



Original article (cached)

Mormon Women Stand Quietly Removes Part of Blogpost

Currently published article

Mormon Women Stand Quietly Removes Part of Blogpost

New Page: Resources on Mormon Polygamy

Resources on Mormon Polygamy

A new page was published on Nearing Kolob to collection and share resources on Mormon Polygamy (check out other pages HERE). The page is under construction and will contains links to:

  • Podcasts
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Websites
  • Blogposts


Again? Elder Clarke Continues to Motivate with Tales that You Can “Triple Your Income”

Again? Elder Clarke Continues to Motivate with Tales that You Can "Triple Your Income"

A couple months ago we reported on a missionary from the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission who recounted a story in which he was told, by Elder Don Clarke of the Seventy, that he could triple his lifetime income by “mastering” chapter 8 of the Preach My Gospel manual. Well, it’s happened again–three more times, in three different missions, to be specific. The principles in chapter 8 might be very good, but why does he have to motivate the missionaries with the carrot of increased wealth?


Triple Your Income in the Temple Square Mission

On October 22, 2014, Sister Macy Park, of the Temple Square Mission, reported the following (emphasis mine):

Elder Don Clarke of the Seventy came to our mission and told us he knows how to triple our income after our missions. Of course, we were all interested and he gave us the secret. He said to study chapter 8 from Preach My Gospel and apply it to our lives. If we do everything it says we can triple our income and reach our goals but most of all be happy. I invite everyone to study Preach My gospel chapter 8 and set goals for yourselves.

Triple Your Income in the Tampa, Florida Mission

Another missionary (Elder Austin Whaley of the Tampa, Florida mission) also reported another instance in which Elder Don Clarke taught that Preach My Gospel can triple your income. In blogpost titled “Triple your Income in Life”, he wrote (emphasis mine):

Pretty much everything I know how to do as a missionary comes from P.M.G.  I would definitely challenge you all to read a section or two every night and see how you can apply it because you all are suppose to be “missionaries” as well.  Elder Clarke told us that if we want to triple our income in life, we need to become converts to chapter 8 of P.M.G.

Triple Your Income in the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission

Sister Hughes, of the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission, reported on August 25, 2014 that Elder Clarke visited her mission. She wrote (emphasis mine):

So yesterday was Zone Conference which was super good… I left my notes at home….freak well that will have to wait. Elder Clarke came, he was super funny and cool. Basically we talked about the whole of Preach my Gospel. He was the one that made the mini version! Chapter 8 of PMG will triple your income FYI hahaha there was such a great spirit

New Rules for Missionaries

New Rules for Missionaries

Browsing the internet, I found a number of missionary blogs talking about “new rules” that have been implemented in their mission. This is not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, it is just a sampling of missionary posts that I’ve found in the last month or so. (Recall that we previously posted about a new rule regarding baptism here).

In the Brazil Fortaleza Mission they implemented the following rules:

  • “no soccer” (no soccer in Brazil?!?!)
  • “[no] movies of any kind”
  • “[no] meeting with more than 4 other missionaries”
  • “[no] playing any sports with members”
  • “[no] card games of any kind”
  • “[no] all types of martial arts”
  • “[no] basically everything else that is fun to do on p-day”

In the Peru Huancayo Mission:

  • “No more eating with members!!! We cant accept any prepared food from members except from our pension, ( I dont like any of the food, but the food from my pension doesnt make me sick!!)”

Another account (with more information) about the members no longer feeding missionaries in Peru (and reportedly “in South America”):

  • “I met my Pensionista who is also he Bishops wife.  We as missionaries pay (out of our fund) these pensionistas to take care of our food for us.  It is a new rule in South America for Missionaries that they are required to cook for us and that missionaries are not allowed to eat at members homes unless it was prepackaged.  Apparently way to many illnesses.  They are also now required to cook with clean, filtered, contained, water… Relief!  Hahaha…”

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo Brazzaville Mission a similar rule was implemented:

  • “We don’t eat in members home at all because of the new rules from Salt Lake, so we as an apartment have to cook 3 times a day so we get pretty creative with what we have! We have had pancakes and pizza, and tacos so far, so I guess we can make anything! “

In the Philippines Manila Mission (and reportedly the entire Philippines Area) there are new rules on who can be baptized:

  • “Can I make mention of the other two people that didn’t get baptized? I am happy to say that they have also come unto Christ through faith and repentance. Baptism has to wait, though,  due to very new rules by the area presidency: they’re too young, and their parents aren’t members.”

“Many new rules” have been implemented in the Mexico Tijuana Mission due to “problems”:

  • “Right now in the mission there have been some….problems. So they are adding many many new rules and ways to do things. So they are upping the work and rules to keep us safe physically and spiritually.  This training is going to be pretty rough as i have heard but i am very excited, after all this, i will be one who gets trained too.  I know i am going to learn so much during this time!”

Some new rules were implemented in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission due to the ebola virus:

  • “They are bringing some new rules for Elders in Kenema for example, no taking bike, and no teaching inside peoples houses. Kind of a bummer.”

The Philippines Angelos Mission has a new rule regarding emailing and online chatting:

  • “The bad news as you probably have noticed that I didn’t send an email telling you I am online. It is because my mission President made a new rule that we can’t chat. This rule is SO HARD!!! And I don’t understand why. BUT- I have decided to be exactly obedient. I am going to obey this rule even though I don’t want to. I prayed so hard that I would have the desire to be obedient to this rule and that I would be obedient with a willing heart. I also prayed that I would trust President’s decision and inspiration for our mission.  I asked Heavenly Father to give me the strength to do this hard thing, because sometimes talking to you is how I get through the week. I know I will be blessed as I obey. At least I get to send you a email every week right? So the rule is I cannot respond to anyone until the next week. “

In the Washington Spokane Mission, the mission president made a new rule regarding contacting converts in previous areas:

  • “Our president made a new rule that we can call and email our recent converts and keep in touch with them once a week!:)”

In the Brazil Santa Maria Mission you can’t email other missionaries:

  • “I have felt so blessed to have served with Elder Gois for these past 3 months and it’ll be a bit sad to see him go (especially now that we have a new rule in the mission that we can’t email any other missionary in our mission… no personal comment)”

In the California Sacramento Mission missionaries can accompany converts to the temple to do baptisms for the dead:

  • “WE WENT TO DO BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD WITH ANGELES! There’s a new rule in the mission that we’re allowed to go with our recent converts to do their first baptisms for the dead as one of our visits to the temple. it was so special.”

The Indiana Indianapolis Mission got a “new rule from salt lake” that missionaries can no longer go to the gym due to some missionaries “going at like 6:00pm-9:00pm”:

  • “I love biking areas. Its a good workout. We got a new rule from salt lake this transfer that we cant go to the gym anymore… some missionaries just have to go and ruin it for everyone! There were some going at like 6:00pm-9:00pm (prime proselyting hours)… stupid idiots. So unless president makes some acceptations to rules or something I am stuck just biking and doing 1000 push ups. I still wake up at 5:00 or 5:15 to work out… they think they can stop me..”

“I know what I am talking about”

I know what I am talking about

I ran across this missionary account and had to share.

Elder Oaks and Elder Bowen recently visited the Philippines. Here are a few things we learn from their visit:

  • “Elder Oaks does not approve of that practice” (referring to being “photographed after the meeting” with the entire mission)
  • Elder Bowen “told it like it is.” (original quotes)
  • Elder Bowen also said “I know what I am talking about” (original quotes, recall that Elder Bowen did a Mormon Channel interview where he said “I like my ego and I like my pride.  Those aren’t things that are easy to give….”)
  • Elder Bowen also gave the three things a missionary needs to do to “change their mission and themselves. 1: Get up at 6:30 every morning. (Be 100% obedient.) 2. Talk to at least 20 people every day – really talk. OYM (0pen your mouth) and ITL (Invite to learn). 3. Improve planning. (Work with the Spirit before you go to work.)”

One interesting thing is that Elder Bowen said that OYMs are one of the three things a missionary needs to do to change their mission and themselves, while Elder Evans, also of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Head of the Missionary Department, said “no more OYM’s [sic]” to the California Riverside mission just one or two weeks before.

What’s a Harvesting Blessing?

Harvesting Blessing

In the Church there many different kinds of blessings. Common ones include:

  • Patriarchal blessing
  • Baby blessing
  • Blessing on those who are sick or afflicted
  • Father’s blessing

Well, it seems over the past few years there is a new “blessing” that missionaries have been using to aid their work: the “Harvesting Blessing”. Never heard of it? Me neither.

One missionary explains it this way:

It is common for them to ask if they can leave a blessing with those they teach or come in contact with. They call it a “harvesting blessing”. They pray specifically for these people and Amanda said this can be very powerful

Another missionary explains it this way:

Out tracting or Harvesting Blessing as we call it… we offer to say prayers with people basically and then ask if we can come back and share a message about Jesus Christ.

Okay. So you just pray for the family? What makes it special? Below I include various accounts of missionaries leaving Harvesting Blessings. Their accounts should explain why they think it special.

  • ” To make it an even better week we found 12 new investigators this week. This Harvesting Blessing is the GREATEST. It straight up brings the Spirit like a brick wall. We found one family of five this week. La Familia Hinojosa. They are soo solid.” Elder Dial
  • “I met this guy on the street named JR. We made him cry just standing on the sidewalk, so that was cool. We harvesting blessing-ed him and he felt the spirit really strong.” Elder Wood
  • “For August, we want to get more people on date for baptism. So they have asked us to first, do a harvesting blessing referral everyday. Which just means to leave a harvesting blessing with a member then ask them for a referral.” Sister Nelson
  • “Anyways, since he is new to the “job” we decided it would be good to leave a harvesting blessing with him and his wife so they have a better understanding of what we do. I left the blessing and before I did that I told them that they will have names come to their minds of people who are ready for the gospel, so they need to pay close attention to that. I guess the blessing was pretty good (I rarely remember what I say) because they were both crying and Brother McKee said that he was impressed.” Sister Nelson
  • “One day while visiting with Julie and Kent their youngest daughter called from Nevada and we were able to give a harvesting blessing over the phone. It was such a touching moment. I never would have thought that on my mission I would help unite families through the gospel by praying long-distance over speakerphone.” Sister Miller


Notably, there was a Sister Schillemat serving in the California Riverside mission (Sept. 2011-March 2013) who apparently loved Harvesting Blessings. She posted about the many times:

  • “The other was a Harvesting Blessing that we had on Saturday night. That was really a miracle. We were tracting just a few houses and we had no success, again until the last house. The Lord often works that way. :) Then we knocked on the door of this house and they let us in. They told us that we had already talked to them at a gas station a couple of weeks ago, so they knew who we are. We offered to give a Harvesting Blessing and they gladly accepted. After we offered the blessing, one of the two daughters was crying.” Sister Schillemat
  • “We also continued to teach a family of four this week. We gave them a harvesting blessing a little over a week ago and we had a really good lesson with them. They all could feel the Spirit and were grateful for our visit. We are excited for what is to come.” Sister Schillemat
  • “The Spirit was so strong and we can see how our Heavenly Father has prepared this man for baptism. The Spirit of the Harvesting Blessing and Priesthood Blessing softened his heart.
    That was absolutely a miracle!” Sister Schillemat
  • “We offered to leave a Harvesting Blessing with them and they accepted. We left a blessing with them and I knew that it was for Brandon, just as much for his parents. We invited Brandon to be baptized and he declined, but it was a good visit nonetheless. It was a miracle that we were there.” Sister Schillemat
  • “So we went over last night and gave a Harvesting Blessing. The Spirit was wonderful and we invited him to be baptized on January 12th. He accepted!” Sister Schillemat

On the one hand, this seems to be an example of sister missionaries attempting to use priesthood authority (which some people believe they have), but it’s hard to see how this is more than just a prayer (versus a blessing) and something that is more than just a gimmick to get converts.

Finally, it seems these blessings are on their way out as leaders from Salt Lake are shutting down the idea of Harvesting Blessings. Elder Wood, of the same California Riverside mission as Sister Schillemat above and the same missionary who made a man cry on the street with a Harvesting Blessing in March 2013, reported on October 20, 2014 the following:

Wednesday Elder Evans from the 70 came to do a Mission Conference. He is Mr. Missionary ha. He is the executive director of the Missionary Department. I think he is my favorite 70 I have met on my mission. I think I have met like 5. He was super real, very personable, and got stuff done! He changed quite a bit in the mission too. No more OYM’s. That is where we are accountable to talking to at least 10 people per day per person in a companionship beside lessons, tracting, ect. No we just say whether we talked to everyone we passed by in the week. Also he got rid of the harvest blessing which I think was good.

One final question: What has been going on in the California Riverside mission to necessitate that the head of the Missionary Department visit the mission up to possibly five times in less than two years? Especially with the head of the Missionary Department making “quite a bit” of change soon after a change in mission presidents.

The Irony of “Mormon Women Stand”

The Irony of "Mormon Women Stand"v

Yesterday I read a post published by the website Mormon Women Stand. The post was titled “Review of Women at Church by Neylan McBaine”. It was hard to get through–as are most blog posts on the website. But then it hit me–their organization’s name is so ironic.

In a Church with prophets and apostles, with continuing revelation, with an Article of Faith saying that we believe God “will yet reveal many great and important things”, and with the principle of eternal progression, here is a group talking about Mormon Women STANDING.

One definition of stand is “to stop or remain motionless or steady on the feet” (certainly there are other definitions). Why would any member of the LDS Church join a group whose name and mission connotes an image of motionlessness while the fundamental principles of the Church and gospel are the exact opposite: progress.

This all reminds me of the moving sidewalks at the airport. Humanity (and the Church) is on a moving sidewalk. Some will stand and be dragged as we advance and progress. Others will walk in the direction the sidewalk is taking us. And some will obstruct the walkers as they “stand” on the walking side.  Take a guess what this group is doing.

We all have to walk down the escalator. All together, now.

The article “Please, Walk Down the Escalator” from about people standing on escalators seems particularly relevant. Here is an excerpt:

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you enter a New York City subway station and step onto an escalator that’s headed down towards the train tracks. At that moment, you must choose one of two clear courses of action: walk down the escalator, or stand still. Put more precisely, you can either walk down the escalator, or you deserve to be pushed down the escalator.

We live in a society here. We don’t live in an imaginary Candyland which revolves solely around your personal needs, where the needs of every other human are completely irrelevant unless they coincide with your own. In this world, we all have to pitch in for the good of the whole. We all have to do our part to help ensure the smooth functioning of society. We all have to consider the needs of others when making our daily decisions.

We all have to walk down the escalator. All together, now. There you are.

You don’t want to walk down the escalator? Counterpoint: The dozens and dozens of people behind you do not want to miss their train. That train— do you hear it?— yes, that train that you can hear, approaching the station, right this moment. The train that will be pulling in and opening its doors in just seconds. What makes this train so tantalizing is that we can all hear it approaching; we’re all so close to the train that we’re aware of its impending arrival; we all wantto get on the train, in order to reach our destinations; and yet we can’t get to the train. Why can’t we get there? It’s so close. Why not just make our way to the platform in a hasty but orderly fashion and get on the train?

Because this motherfucker up here wants to stand still on the escalator.

Utah and Gay Math

Utah and Gay Math

Jesus Witnesses Project Shut Down Because They Ask For Money Before Tithes

Witness of Jesus

I recently ran across this strange little website that had some interesting content. The website is called “Witnesses of Jesus Christ Project: Communicating the reality of Jesus’ divinity to Islam”. The homepage has two messages: one “to Islam” and another “to the radical Islamists”. The page is described as “a response to radical Islam’s call for the Christian world to convert to Islam.” Notably the project description declares it is a “private project”, “shall never be considered a Church, nor shall it offer any ordinances of salvation or accept tithes.”

Why are all those disclaimers there?

First, let me describe its founding.


Project’s Founding

The project seems to be started by an LDS man who received a revelation. On this page, there is an excerpt of the minutes from its first Board meeting. The project was said to have begun by a vision:

“Throughout the experience I was not my normal judgmental self and I was excited about the prospects of this vision. I could see the global potential of this project as a Christian grass roots movement that could unit Christianity in a way that the various denominations could not. I envisioned the officers and witnesses having opportunity to speak before numerous gatherings of Christians throughout the world, and uniting them through these special experiences with the Savior, Jesus Christ. I saw the church growing and becoming stronger and that the Christian unity that could come from this would speed the Lord’s coming. I saw the published witnesses of Jesus Christ providing a vehicle to invite others to come unto Christ.

“ ‘I cannot deny this experience and the requirements of it. I know that I must move this project forward one step at a time.’

“A dedicatory prayer was … read by the Administrator…”


Opposition and Timeline of Events

However, two years later a “regional authority” opposed it.  In 2010 the opposition was removed “by a higher authority in the church”. This was described in a letter from the founder to his wife. An outline of events is quoted below:

“1. The revelation is received (in 2007 recounted above)
2. (My congregational pastor) supports
3. (My local authority) supports
4. (In 2009 the regional authority) accuses me of various forms of apostasy and demands that I “cease and desist.” The Spirit informs me that “You cannot proceed without the support of your … brethren.” Not proceeding is not the same as cease and desist – it is a delay rather than an end. This was the only time I received the Spirit’s communication in this contentious meeting.
5. I cease and desist and write a defense to the (the church world leadership) which I share with (the regional authority), but hold pending his final report.
6. (The regional authority is changed) and I receive no final report.
7. (The high church authority), the source of the cease and desist order according to (the regional authority), is sent to (Anchorage, Alaska).
8. (church business item unrelated to the Project).
9. (church business item unrelated to the Project).
10. In a private interview about the (Project), and with the constant presence of the Spirit, (the high church authority) discloses:
a. (church business item unrelated to the Project).
b. He did not issue an order to “cease and desist” (the Project).
c. He did not accuse me of any apostasy – he “did not know me, to be able to make any such accusations.”
d. He read all the (Project) web content and had only one issue with it: While I was serving as … an official of the church, and as such I could not be advocating the payment of tithes to any other entity such as the (Project).
e. He stated that I could pursue the (Project) if I chose to (and that the church had no objection to it).”


Resolution and the Project’s Continuation

Further down the letter to his wife it becomes clear that the church leadership’s main issue with the website/project was that it was possibly diverting tithing monies away from the church to this project.  The founder says:

“You can see, as I have seen, that if (the regional authority) had expressed (the high church authority’s) concern accurately, I would have removed the tithing option (as it was not part of the original revelation) and the (Project) would have continued forward with no interruption.

“Another way to state this is that the Lord’s call to do the (Project) is still in place.

“At this point I am comforted by the Spirit that we are to continue the (Project) ….

“I have reviewed all of the (Project) content and intend to do the following:
“1. Remove the tithing option on the donation page while also encouraging donations only after tithing to a church.
“2. Remove the requirement for a notarized witness statement. Two or three personal witnesses will suffice.
“3. Add guidelines for personal testimonies that include faith promoting experiences.”


So the lesson is: don’t try to interrupt the stream of tithing dollars going to the Church.


So, what does this website do? What is a Witness of Jesus?

The primary goal of the project seems to be to collect witnessed testimonies of Jesus Christ. In fact, before continuing the project after it’s hiatus, the witnessed testimonies specifically needed to be notarized.

At this link, you can see the founder’s testimony was witnessed by “Garth”, “Fred”, and “Gregory Lee Coy” on 4 February 2007 and notarized by Arthur L. Flynn in the state of Alaska.

This whole idea of starting a project to collect witnessed, notarized testimonies of Jesus Christ seems a little weird to me. Read the other witnessed below and let me know what you think:

Wealth and Poverty

I read this article a long time ago and only rediscovered it again a week ago. Please.  Everyone read it!

“Wealth and Poverty”
Richard E. Johnson
Sociology Department
Brigham Young University
June 1994