Happiness in the Last Days

In the last days, perilous times shall come…

When I was a teenager, I believed the world was almost over. I gave it fifteen, maybe twenty years max. It was just so wicked. Surely it was “wicked enough” for the Lord to return.

But that’s not what the Lord’s waiting for, is it?

Tonight’s lunar cycle is a “Blood Moon,” according to John Hagee, who looks to be the one solely responsible for associating the biblical phrase “and the moon [shall be] turned to blood” with the lunar tetrad – four successive lunar eclipses with no partial eclipses in between, with each separated by the other by six full moons.

But could this moon be the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

Not if you’re LDS, it ain’t. Here’s what President Gordon B. Hinckley said in General Conference of October 2001:

The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” [emphasis added]

J’catch that? The moon-turned-to-blood prophecy was deemed fulfilled as far back as 2001, by a prophet of God, over the pulpit in General Conference, more than a decade before Hagee predicted the end times in his book.

But my original point of this post was not to talk about supermoons or lunar eclipses or “blood moons.” My point was to say that some things will get better during the last days.

We’re a bit of a doomsday cult sometimes, despite what the prophets tell us. Whereas in journalism the phrase is, “If it bleeds, it leads,” the prophets have been telling us things will get better for the saints for some time.

In President Boyd K. Packer’s October 2011 General Conference address, he told the youth:

Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right—getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.

So The End isn’t around the corner.

Now consider Christ’s parable of the wheat and tares. His enemy sows tares among his wheat, and his servants want to go destroy the tares. But, Christ says,

Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

The harvest has to come first. The wheat is what He’s waiting for, not the tares.

Put more simply, the Lord isn’t waiting for the world to be wicked enough before he returns. He’s waiting for the saints to be righteous enough.

More examples come from the D&C. “Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come.” The Church has to be established, Zion needs to be built, before Christ can return to Earth.

And Zion will be wonderful, remember. “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)

Oh, the world will continue to descend into evil. Greater and greater wickedness will exist. But the saints should be focused on becoming more spiritually prepared, more kind, more generous, more happy. Waiting for the world to grow “wicked enough” ain’t gonna bring about paradise. Building it is.

Shafts in the Whirlwind

…when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind
Helaman 5:12

Let me begin frankly: I think those who support Ordain Women are wrong.

I also think that many who oppose Ordain Women are wrong.

I don’t see how else to write this, so I’m dividing this into columns. On the left, my words to the members and supporters of Ordain Women. On the right, my words to those who oppose it so vehemently that they say things like “excommunication,” “apostasy,” and “form your own church.”

To the Supporters of Ordain Women

Can you believe I love you while I think that you’re wrong? I hope you can.

It’s not because of blind faith in our leaders. I can see approaching the Prophet in the spirit of Jethro, as Moses’ father-in-law came and corrected him when he was failing to delegate responsibility to others. I don’t think asking for admittance to the Priesthood Session of General Conference was how this could be accomplished, but my point is this: our leaders aren’t infallible, and they can at times merit information from man. That said, in this case, I believe the Prophet and other General Authorities to be correct, and Ordain Women to be wrong.

You’ve heard all the arguments by now. I believe that many of you have felt it in your hearts that what you’re doing is right. But there’s precedent here as well.

And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?

Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.

D&C 50:15-16

There are such things as false spirits. Establishing that one has been deceived is hard to determine. How can I know that the impression I felt to write this wasn’t a false one?

I guess, in the end, I don’t. Perhaps I’m being deceived. But I’m going to choose to err on the side of the Brethren.

Know that while I think you’ve been deceived, I still love you. I don’t know you, or your stories, but I want you as part of the Fold of God. Please accept my apology for ever allowing feelings of anger to taint my heart – see the column to the right – and forgive me if I’m offending you even now.

To the Opposers of Ordain Women

Here’s Helaman 5:12 in its entirety:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Note the word “whirlwind.”

Often, when we find ourselves in opposition to something, we imagine a tug-of-war with the devil on one end, and us on the other end. Pull! Heave! The truth is this way!

That’s not quite right. The truth is, the devil is on both ends.

The devil doesn’t send forth his mighty wind, his shaft in the wind — no, it’s winds and whirlwinds. That is, winds from all sides. He’ll pull on us from all directions, trying to drag us down.

There are reports of Priesthood holders shouting at participants of Ordain Women on April 5th. Regardless of whether Ordain Women is right or wrong, that behavior is certainly wrong. Not misguided, or mistaken, but deliberately and evilly wrong. The devil has pulled those opposers right over the edge – their foundation was not on Christ.

I’ve been one of them.

I never shouted at anybody, but I’ve had those feelings welling up inside me. I’ve thought to shout down at those who support Ordain Women, and found myself imagining their intentions as greedy or prideful – but I don’t know the intent of their hearts, do I? Am I truly a follower of Christ if I’m “angry because of my enemy?” (Although, if you read my column to the left, I hope you’ll see I don’t consider Ordain Women my “enemy”.) Nephi knew that wasn’t right, and chided himself for it.

In short, I had to repent. Though I don’t know these people personally, they are my brothers and sisters. I don’t want them to leave the Church. I want them to receive celestial glory, just as we desire all to receive it.

If you find yourself angry at the men and women of Ordain Women, or if you sullenly wish they would just go away, you are, I believe, guilty of the greater sin.

I don’t want to post this. I’m afraid. Afraid of making people angry at me – I hate confrontation of any kind. But I believe I’m supposed to write my feelings here.

I’ve had my testimony strengthened in recent months. I know God lives, that he loves us, and that we’re going to make the world a better place wherever we can.

Straw Men

Here’s a blog post that drove me nuts today. This is the text in its entirety, as of this writing:

Call to Action: Lose Your Temple Recommend For Feeding Baby?

By Megan Bishop

A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow for breastfeeding at church. Furthermore, she has been told that if anyone complains in any other meeting, be that sacrament, Sunday School, or Relief Society, she is to leave the room or cover to nurse from that point on. She was also told that if she does not comply, she is not sustaining her leaders and her recommend could be at risk.

We are collecting letters of support for breastfeeding in church to send to the First Presidency and Scott Trotter, LDS spokesperson. We will send all of the letters we have received on March 29th, 2013. Please email letters to [email protected]
Suggestions for letters include: personal experiences of breastfeeding in church (good or bad), requests for a statement that breastfeeding in church is acceptable in the Church Handbook of Instructions, and why you think it is important for breastfeeding to be accepted in church. Please pass this along to anyone you feel might be interested in writing a letter.

Let me go through the first paragraph to show why I think this is a completely invalid way to try to tackle a serious issue.

A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow for breastfeeding at church. Furthermore,

Wait, what? Furthermore? You can’t jump to “furthermore” yet! You just said the most outlandish, hard-to-believe thing, with no details whatsoever, and you’re jumping to “furthermore”??

All right, some of you are already saying it’s not hard to believe, that it’s totally like a flawed patriarchal organization to do something like that. Fine, okay, you believe it if you want. Maybe it’s even true! But the author will never get somebody on the fence to consider her side of the story by just throwing out blanket statements like that.

How about this: “A dear friend of mine is being released from her YW calling tomorrow. She believes it is for breastfeeding at church.” Or maybe “She was told by her bishop that it was for breastfeeding at church.

In any case, it contradicts the very next sentence, the one plagued by a premature “furthermore”.

Furthermore, she has been told that if anyone complains in any other meeting, be that sacrament, Sunday School, or Relief Society, she is to leave the room or cover to nurse from that point on.

Wait. So, she’s being released for breastfeeding, then being told if she breastfeeds again, and somebody complains, she needs to leave the room, or else cover herself to nurse– but that doesn’t make sense. If she’s being told to cover, she’s not being told to not breastfeed — she’s being told to cover her breast.

Ohhhhh, I get it. She wasn’t released for breastfeeding, was she? She was released, and doesn’t cover herself when she breastfeeds, and you were afraid to lose support for your argument by mentioning that. You wanted everybody to get up in arms, which is why you didn’t say “Lose Your Temple Recommend for Breastfeeding Your Baby Uncovered” in your title.

Am I right?

I’m not going to get into the argument about nursing uncovered versus nursing with a blanket over wiggly little baby’s hot head. That’s not the topic of discussion here. Here, I’m just saying, if you’re trying to get people to light torches and march on the castle, make sure you explain exactly what the monster is you plan to destroy.




A Look at Gun Control

In the wake of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado a few days ago, the topic of gun control has come back into the limelight, with impassioned arguments on both sides. I’ve kept an open mind, and have been weighing the issue from what I consider to be a pretty objective standpoint.

I’m not a hunter. I don’t own any guns. Frankly, they scare me. As someone with bipolar disorder, I don’t want to be able to take my life as easily as reaching into a gun safe if my depression ever gets that bad. I also know that I would never forgive myself if my young daughters somehow got past the protection of a gun safe and managed to kill themselves or someone else. And the odds of ever needing to protect my family from intruders here in Orem, Utah, are slim to none.

The question this week is, How could we have prevented the killings in Colorado? I’m about 90% settled that more stringent gun control is not the answer.

There are oversimplified arguments coming from both sides. I’ll alternate between left-sided and right-sided statements as I dissect these.

From the right:

Bearing arms is my Second Amendment right. That includes what you’re calling “assault rifles”.

Well, okay then, what about deadlier weapons? Do you have a right, if it were possible, to build your own nuclear bomb? Only the truly nutty would say yes.

It’s not a straw man argument. It’s a legitimate question. Where is the line drawn as to how much power to kill a citizen is allowed to have?

When the folks on the left suggest legislation that will restrict what you deem your right, they’re totally within the bounds of the Constitution. The exact wording says your right to “keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” So, yeah, you have the right to bear arms, but you’ll never convince anybody that new laws cannot determine which arms (without infringement of your rights). The law has to determine that, because otherwise you’re interpreting the Constitution as allowing every American their own stash of WMD.

(Which is incorrect.)

From the left:

If the shooter hadn’t had access to a gun capable of firing so many shots, there would have been far fewer deaths.

If James Holmes’ goal was to kill a lot of people, there are plenty of other ways to do it. About six months ago, a suicide bomber in Syria killed 26 people and injured 63 others. If you don’t have access to guns, bombs are the obvious choice, and it’s what they use in other countries. Here’s a lovely list of terrorist attacks so far in 2012.; just looking at the bombs, suicide-style or otherwise, I count 88 attacks in the first six months of 2012, with a total of more than 1600 deaths.

[Side note: this is a creepy thing to be writing about when there are really loud fireworks going on right now. (Today is Pioneer Day in Utah, celebrating the arrival of the pioneers to Salt Lake Valley.) (Celebrating with explosives, naturally.)]

I wish we could stop mass murder by simply banning certain types of guns. But the deranged, the psychotic, whoever, will always be capable of killing in large numbers if they want.

From the right:

If somebody in that theater had been armed, the shooter might have killed far fewer people.

I highly doubt it. In a darkened theater, full of tear gas (where did he get tear gas, by the way? Do we know yet?), the most prepared gun-nut is going to have a hard time “taking down” a heavily-armed man wearing friggin’ body armor. Seems much more likely is that someone else will get in the defender’s path and get shot by friendly fire.

The theater where James Holmes opened fire is a gun-free zone. No guns allowed. If it hadn’t been, we can presume that maybe some law-abiding citizen would have been packing heat of their own. But I think it would only have made things worse in the case of Aurora.

From the left:

We don’t want to ban all guns. Just certain types of guns.

Let’s take them at their word for a moment. How do you propose to do this? We can ban further sales of guns that match certain criteria, but how do they expect to get existing guns away from their owners? Especially when the gun-owners consider it a constitutional right?

Making certain guns illegal will, in my opinion, create an underground market. Prices will go up. There will be more money to be made, just like in the drug trade, and crime and violence will ensue.

And that’s the deciding factor, to me. Even if gun control would save lives, I just don’t see how it’s feasible in a country that already has a buttzillion firearms in the hands of its citizens.

Some statistics estimate there are 1.5 million assault rifles in the U.S. (but beware — the term “assault rifle” is a vague word with shifting definitions). That’s an awful lot of guns to try to control. It’s also an awful lot of guns that aren’t killing anyone.

We want to believe that something as simple as a law could prevent evil acts from happening. I truly, truly wish there was a way to reduce gun-related crime with legislation, but I don’t believe there is. The answer is in changing the hearts of the people inclined towards violence. Education. Religion.

The Gospel.

If you had taken away James Holmes’ access to guns, he could still have created bombs. But if you could have changed his heart, he wouldn’t have committed such an atrocity.

(This is not to diminish the role of medication. Surely James Holmes is messed up in the head, and would probably have been helped by some psychiatry, if he were willing or compelled.)

So that’s where I stand today. Like I said, I’m only about 90% convinced this is the right answer to the initial question. Sound off below if you can see where I’m wrong.

Medicine is Good

And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate–
Alma 46:40

I used to believe that there was no such thing as depression, and by that I mean clinical depression. How could there be a malady that affected your emotional state outside of your own control? It seemed contrary to the doctrine of agency, of free choice.

I wish I hadn’t contributed to the stigma that still surrounds these psychiatric disorders. I wish I hadn’t thought, and even said, that all depression is the product of sin. I was using Moroni 10:22 as my ammunition:

And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.

See what I did there? I equated depression with despair, of the feeling of hopelessness with having no hope. From there, it’s easy to say, Oh, I’m depressed because I’m sinful.

And that would make sense — depression as a result of sin makes more sense than depression as a result of seratonin levels in your brain chemistry. But the hope Moroni was speaking of is different than the hope we seem to lack when we’re depressed.

The hope Moroni is referring to is specifically hope “to be raised unto life eternal” (Moroni 7:41). The hope we who have felt depression may or may not be related to that at all. In a search for a legitimate reason for our depression, our minds may cling to feelings of unworthiness, of being damned and there being no hope for us, but really any reason will do. We can lose hope of ever having an enjoyable career, a family, a healthy body, or maybe wealth, status, or pride.

I speak from experience. My depression has never been so constricted that it could only be attached to one reason — it was really just random. Whatever concern I had at the time became an insurmountable giant, a dismal failure I could never hope to overcome.

You don’t need to examine the logic of a depressed person’s hopelessness for long before you can see there is no logic. That’s partially why the stigma exists, I think: depressed people are annoyingly illogical! (And most psychiatric disorders impede their victims’ abilities to be logical, it seems.) It takes wisdom and experience to recognize that the feelings one has are not based in reality, and that this is likely another storm of depression that needs to be weathered.

But God has blessed us in these days with a help for depression in the form of modern medicine. Many, many people are still afraid to try it, or maybe they’re like I was: adamant that the solution is in being more righteous.

My darkest time in my life, the time when I was closest to sticking my head in a gas oven and giving up on living, was also when I was at my most measurably righteous. I was a missionary in Argentina, working my hardest at bringing happiness to strangers for twelve hours a day, as well as studying scriptures for hours in the morning.  (And, for the record, I was getting more exercise and sunlight than I’d seen in my youth in Florida. My depression was not the product of ‘not getting out’ or ‘not getting enough exercise’. While sunlight and exercise have certainly shown to reduce depression, I’m not at all convinced they work for all cases.)

My point is this: I thought I would never be happy. I was doing the very most a person can do in living the Gospel, and I was beginning to believe that I was simply doomed to feeling miserable the rest of my life. That kind of emotional pain was so great, I began plotting how I could take my life and end the pain.

Instead, I waded through misery as it occurred on and off for several years, until I finally conceded to the wishes of my family and got on anti-depressants. I’m one of the lucky ones for whom these medications have worked very well. And in the process I’ve become much more attuned to when my feelings are the product of external issues versus internal ones. When my meds fail me, as SSRIs are prone to do on occasion, I’m better at recognizing it.

To diagnose another’s depression as the product of sin is a massive mistake. It smacks of Mosiah 4:17, where the unrighteous person judges that “the man has brought upon himself his misery.” To diagnose your own depression that way is to believe God is punishing you for your sins, and to lack faith that he truly loves you, and wants you to be happy.

A loving God has provided medicine in our day through the inspired minds of doctors and scientists working for our benefit. Note the scripture at the beginning of this post, especially the part about God preparing remedies to remove the cause of diseases. Doesn’t that sound more like the God you know loves you?

An Email to State Senator Margaret Dayton about HB 70

I’m exhausted, but I figured I had to do my civic duty before I go to sleep, and let my elected official know my feelings on their immigration bill — even though Senator Dayton is one of the bill’s sponsors. So this could have more coherence to it, but here ya go.

Mrs. Dayton,

I suppose it’s too late for you to rescind your sponsorship of HB 70, so I’m reluctant to even bother emailing you, but I’m going to anyway.

When Arizona passed their controversial immigration law last year, I was actually all for it. I couldn’t see the problem – people were here illegally, and the law enabled officers to confirm citizenship status (or legal residency). It sounded great. In retrospect, however, I think I was justifying my own prejudices.

The problem with people being here illegally can’t be solved by hunting them down, asking to “let me see your papers.” It might reduce the number of ethical, upright people whose only offense is coming here illegally, but the ones that are determined to break our laws will just go farther underground.

The bill even predicts the crimes it will create. From http://le.utah.gov/~2011/bills/hbillint/hb0070.htm:

86 (4) In conjunction with the strike force and subject to available funding, the Office of
87 the Attorney General shall establish a Fraudulent Documents Identification Unit:
88 (a) for the primary purpose of investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting individuals
89 or entities that participate in the sale or distribution of fraudulent documents used for
90 identification purposes; and
91 (b) to specialize in fraudulent identification documents created and prepared for
92 individuals who are unlawfully residing within the state.

So its authors acknowledge that fraudulent documents will become a bigger problem, and that we’ll need a task force to handle enforcement there, too – spending more funding that could have gone to other programs.

The real solution is to grant the immigrants citizenship. The federal government needs to lift immigration caps, and return to the days of Ellis Island. How have we strayed so far from these amazing words?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
– from “The New Colossus”, engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty

Obviously, no state government can grant U.S. citizenship. But we can certainly avoid exacerbating the problem.

Randy Tayler
Orem, UT

The Most Beautiful Phrase in the English Language

What is it? What do you think is the most beautiful phrase in English? For me, it is this one:

There but for the grace of God, go I.

Nobody’s sure who said it, but it’s most often attributed to evangelical preacher John Bradford (who was burned at the stake in 1555.)

What about you? What’s your favorite quote or idiom? You can include translations of phrases from other languages, if you like. There’s no prize here.

The Long, Long Arm of the Law

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6

Last month, Colorado resident Phillip Greaves published a book through Amazon.com titled, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct. Threats to boycott Amazon eventually led to them yanking the book, though they initially cited the First Amendment as their defense for publishing it in the first place.

This last week, he was arrested for violating Florida’s obscenity laws. He sold the book to some detectives in Polk County, Florida through the mail.

You catch that? Police in a different state, across the country, took it upon themselves to catch this guy. Perhaps he hasn’t been arrested on the heaviest of counts, but it was something. And it may not stick – who knows. I was just glad law enforcement somewhere was taking a visible stand.

Now, perhaps Greaves’ own local authorities are watching him very carefully for any other crimes he may commit, because he’s clearly a pedophile, but the book is a crime in and of itself.

I spent a while googling until I found a contact address for the Polk County Sheriff’s office, and sent this email, with the subject line “Thanks Sheriff Judd!”:

I’m so grateful you and your team have arrested the pedophilia author. Thank you for reaching out across state borders to do what his home state should’ve done.

-Randy Tayler

Today I got the following from Sheriff Judd:


My communications staff forwarded me your email. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to forward me your thoughts. I appreciate your support more than you know. Nothing is more precious than our children – keeping them safe is my top priority.

Grady Judd

The man’s a class act. Thanks, Sheriff.

A Christmas Question

How do you handle it when you can’t get your child what they really want for Christmas? Do you prep them beforehand? Hope that they’re grateful for what they do get? Blame Santa? Throw finances to the wind and make sure they DO get what they want?

I’d love to hear your answers.

God Isn’t Registered to Any Party

A lady asks a gentleman what party he belongs to. He replies “My grandfather was a Republican, my father was a Republican, and I’m a Republican.” The lady is appalled. “What if your grandfather had been a horse-thief?”

The gentleman replies, “Well, then, I suppose I’d be a Democrat.”

-Told to me by my father when I was a kid. To date, it’s my favorite joke about Democrats… or perhaps it’s about Republicans.

It’s taken me a long time to realize this. I’m pretty embarrassed.

Latter-day Saint Democrats aren’t evil.

No, wait! Hear me out, LDS Republicans! Don’t go!

We’ve been told that you can be a righteous, worthy member of the Church and be a Democrat. Elder Marlin K. Jensen was sent by the First Presidency to address the issue in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune all the way back in 1998. (See http://bit.ly/ldsdemocrat – if you want to read the article in the Tribune archives, you’ll need to pay and subscribe, but you can find it at http://bit.ly/cdGlwc.) Among other shockers, we get the following:

“One of the things that prompted this discussion in the first place was the regret that’s felt about the decline of the Democratic Party [in Utah] and the notion that may prevail in some areas that you can’t be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time,” Jensen said.

“There have been some awfully good men and women who have been both and are both today. So I think it would be a very healthy thing for the church — particularly the Utah church — if that notion could be obliterated.”

Any time I heard the First Presidency say something like “We don’t endorse any political party or candidate,” I kind of assumed they were winking. My thoughts were something like, “Sure, they have to say that – otherwise the Church would lose its tax-exempt status. But we all know what they really mean.”

I’m pretty sure what they really meant was what they actually said. I was reading between the lines because I didn’t like what the lines were saying. My imagined interpretation was far more palatable.

Back in 1998, they also made it clear that what matters is the candidate. They didn’t exactly say “party, schmarty,” but they emphasized the person, not their party:

…members are counseled to study the candidates carefully and vote for those individuals they believe will act with integrity and in ways conducive to good communities and good government.
“News of the Church,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, p.77

But somehow that just never stuck. All I could think was, “Sure, Latter-day Saints can be Democrats. We’re not all on the same spiritual level; they’ll come around as they mature.”

Yeah. Really. I thought that.

Well, I’ve matured a bit. I’m not a registered anything anymore, but I can at least imagine registering for a different party now. In Jensen’s interview, he also said,

“Everyone who is a good Latter-day Saint is going to have to pick and choose a little bit regardless of the party that they’re in and that may be required a lot more in the future than it has been in the past. But I think there’s room for that and the gospel leaves us lots of latitude.”

I’m glad to have finally learned this lesson, albeit a dozen years after it was taught.

P.S. Can I add something about Elder Marlin K. Jensen? I was roommates with his son Ryan back in 1998, and was invited to Ryan’s reception when he got married. Elder Jensen spoke at the dinner. It was like no other wedding reception I’d ever attended — or have attended since. I felt the Spirit when Elder Jensen spoke. I remember thinking, “I want my wedding to be like this. This has been holy.”

As we left the building (the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, if I recall correctly), we passed another reception in progress. There was music, and dancing, and a typical wedding celebration. People inside were happy. But it paled in comparison to what I felt. I’d felt a peaceful happiness that ran much deeper than I was accustomed to.

I have zero recollection of what Elder Jensen said as he presided over his son’s reception, but I remember what I saw. He was incredibly humble and happy. He exemplified the kind of man I wanted to be. I’m grateful I had the chance to see an example like him away from the pulpit.

He’s a Democrat. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time. I might’ve missed the whole thing.