Latest from Mormon Land: More fallout on seeking Heavenly Mother, and more on a Dickens-LDS connection

Also: The church seeks another LGBTQ-religious freedom compromise, this time in Georgia.

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

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The revelation gap

In his much-debated General Conference sermon warning members against speculation about Heavenly Mother, apostle Dale G. Renlund cautioned that “demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive.”

Wheat & Tares blogger Bishop Bill wonders, however, whether that counsel jibes with scripture and the church’s own history.

After all, James in the New Testament wrote that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” the very verse church founder Joseph Smith says ultimately led to Mormonism’s birth.

“Was Joseph Smith arrogant and unproductive [w]hen he asked God which church was right?” Bishop Bill asks. “Was [church President] Spencer Kimball arrogant when he asked God about giving Blacks the priesthood?”

The blogger points to other Latter-day Saint scriptures of ancient prophets crying out to the Almighty for answers.

“It seems Renlund is ‘upbraiding’ us,” he writes, “while God would never do that just for asking, as James 1:5 tells us.”

In a seeming counterargument, Times and Seasons blogger Stephen Cranney sees flawed thinking in members who “lobby for revelation,” suggesting they may be exerting “grassroots pressure” more than seeking “grassroots inquiry.”

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Dickens and Latter-day Saints — A tale of two accounts

(Public domain) Latter-day Saint apostle George Q. Cannon, left, and British novelist Charles Dickens.

We know English novelist Charles Dickens famously wrote in his “Uncommercial Traveler” sketches about his 1863 encounter in London with early church leader George Q. Cannon (a “handsome man in black …with a frank open manner”) aboard a ship carrying 800 “cheery” Latter-day Saint emigrants (full of “so much beauty and so much strength and capacity for work”).

But what did Cannon say of the meeting? Research historian Ardis E. Parshall tells us this week in her blog at keepapitchinin.org:

“Mr. Charles Dickens, the novelist, spent several hours on board on the day when the people passed the government inspectors,” Cannon stated. “He appeared to be very much pleased with the people and had a great many questions to ask of me, appearing to be much interested in us and free from prejudice.”

Georgia on church’s mind

As it did in Utah and Arizona, the church is pushing Georgia to enact legislation protecting LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations, while also safeguarding religious freedom.

“We are extremely concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse people of goodwill from living together in peace and mutual respect,” states an “open letter” to Georgians this week in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution signed by area Seventy M. Andrew Galt IV and dozens of faith and community leaders. “LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict.”

It concludes by urging residents to unite in backing public policy that “provides protections for LGBTQ persons as well as people and institutions of faith.”

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, advocated a similar path in a landmark speech last year at the University of Virginia.

From The Tribune

• Many churches, surviving on donations, struggle to stay afloat. It may be easy to see why they receive tax breaks. But what about when a church, like the Latter-day Saint faith, though paying taxes on its for-profit ventures, amasses vast riches? Should the rules change?

Read the story.

• Co-founders of the former MormonLeaks site discuss their four-year effort to expose the church’s inner workings on this week’s “Mormon Land.”

Listen to the podcast.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson smiles at his office in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on April 13, 2022.

• President Russell M. Nelson reached an important milestone last week, becoming the oldest church president in the faith’s history, surpassing the late Gordon B. Hinckley. At this writing, Nelson is 97 years, seven months and 13 days old. He turns 98 on Sept. 9.

Read the story.

• The Washington D.C. Temple — often called the Emerald City by passing motorists and one of the church’s most recognizable buildings — welcomed media tours this week for the first time in nearly half a century in advance of a public open house from April 28 through June 11 and an Aug. 14 rededication.

Read the story.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Celestial Room of the newly renovated Washington D.C. Temple.

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