The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Monday, August 30, 2021

China wins the future

Twenty years from now, this will be the most important news from 2021. While American and European kids, including teenagers (and young adults), spend most of their time playing videogames, Chinese kids study, exercise, and maintain personal relationships.

China Limits Videogames to Three Hours a Week for Young People

New regulation will ban minors from playing videogames entirely between Monday and Thursday

SINGAPORE—China has a new rule for the country’s hundreds of millions of young gamers: No videogames during the school week, and one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.

China on Monday issued strict new measures aimed at curbing what authorities describe as youth videogame addiction, which they blame for a host of societal ills, including distracting young people from school and family responsibilities.

The new regulation, announced by the National Press and Publication Administration, will ban minors from playing videogames entirely between Monday and Thursday. On the other three days of the week, and on public holidays, they will be only permitted to play between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The announcement didn’t offer a specific age for minors, but previous regulations targeting younger videogamers have drawn the line at 18 years old.


The link on videogame addiction explains:

The state-owned Economic Information Daily published a feature on Tuesday, saying excessive gaming could have ill effects on children and highlighting experts’ calls for tighter regulation.

“Society has come to recognize the harm caused by online gaming and it is often referred to as ‘opium for the mind’ or ‘electronic drugs,’” the original article said. This line didn’t appear in the updated version. In both versions of the article, the newspaper said gaming addiction was on the rise, affecting children’s studies and causing alienation.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Outstanding talk about BYU by Elder Holland

Definitely a must-read if you missed it:


 imagine the pain that comes with a memo like this one I recently received. These are just a half-dozen lines from a two-page document:

“You should know,” the writer says, “that some people in the extended community are feeling abandoned and betrayed by BYU. It seems that some professors (at least the vocal ones in the media) are supporting ideas that many of us feel are contradictory to gospel principles, making it appear to be about like any other university our sons and daughters could have attended. Several parents have said they no longer want to send their children here or donate to the school.

“Please don’t think I’m opposed to people thinking differently about policies and ideas,” the writer continues. “I’m not. But I would hope that BYU professors would be bridging those gaps between faith and intellect and would be sending out students that are ready to do the same in loving, intelligent and articulate ways. Yet, I fear that some faculty are not supportive of the Church's doctrines and policies and choose to criticize them publicly. There are consequences to this. After having served a full-time mission and marrying her husband in the temple, a friend of mine recently left the church. In her graduation statement on a social media post, she credited [such and such a BYU program and its faculty] with the radicalizing of her attitudes and the destruction of her faith.”[6]

Fortunately, we don’t get many of those letters, but this one isn’t unique. Several of my colleagues get the same kind, with most of them ultimately being forwarded to poor President Worthen. Now, most of what happens on this campus is wonderful. That is why I began as I did, with my own undying love of this place. But every so often we need a reminder of the challenge we constantly face here.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Unity vs the narcissism of small differences

Last night I attended a wonderful fireside with outstanding music and talks. Here's the program.

Everything about the evening was enjoyable, uplifting and inspiring. It couldn't have been better. 

This type of event is the reason why I endorse 90% of what Book of Mormon Central (BOMC) does. I respect, admire, and personally like everyone involved with BOMC . 

I was happy to greet and see several of the participants and those who wore the BOMC name tags (that surprisingly looked quite a bit like my own missionary name tag,* except with the BOMC logo instead of the Church's logo).

As readers here know, I don't mind that BOMC teaches M2C and SITH. People can believe whatever they want.

My only problem with BOMC is their refusal to acknowledge, let alone accommodate, other faithful interpretations of the scriptures and Church history. BOMC is an intellectual dead end in these areas, as evidenced by its Mayan logo.

Worse, BOMC employees and supporters aggressively attack other faithful members of the Church who don't accept their interpretations. It's inexplicable to me, except for the narcissism of small differences.

Here's a common description:

The narcissism of small differences is the thesis that communities with adjoining territories and close relationships are especially likely to engage in feuds and mutual ridicule because of hypersensitivity to details of differentiation.

Unlike BOMC, those of us who still believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about setting, historicity and origins of the text continue to recognize and accommodate alternative faithful interpretations, because we're fine with people believing whatever they want. I regularly link to their material. I want people to know what they believe and teach. We adopt the practice of recognizing multiple working hypotheses because the healthiest approach is to have everyone agree on all the facts and then consider a variety of interpretations while we all await new information. 

Unity results from mutual respect, not from enforcing only one of multiple working hypotheses.

I continue to hope that BOMC, its employees and supporters, will someday recognize that what unites us--our shared love for the Book of Mormon and our desire to share it with the world--is far more important than our differences of opinion about the setting, historicity, and origins. 

We'll know if and when that happens because BOMC will change its logo to replace the Mayan glyph with the actual language of the Book of Mormon--English. And BOMC will recognize and accommodate alternative faithful interpretations.

Will that ever happen?

Probably not.

But meanwhile, we continue to love and appreciate our M2C friends and colleagues and hope we can encourage them to do likewise.


*For those who don't know, my wife and I are currently serving a service mission.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Face masks and vaccinations

Because I get asked often, here's what I think about face masks and vaccinations.

I've lived in China and the Philippines. I've worked in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Thailand, and I've visited those countries plus Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In all these places, it has long been standard practice to wear a face mask if you have a respiratory illness. It's common sense.

We were living in China when COVID broke out. 

It seems to be a cultural and political issue in the U.S., not because of science, but because of economics. Corporate media profits by controversy. In my view, Church leaders have given common sense advice ever since the COVID outbreak started, regarding both the face masks and the vaccinations.

People can do whatever they want, but I want to be clear that I support Church leaders, including the recent advice. I got vaccinated early on and I have no problem wearing a face mask when it makes sense.

I hope everyone can make good decisions for themselves without being angry or oppositional about others' choices.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Five signs of intelligence

This is a good checklist for self-evaluation.

Five great signs of intelligence: • You're not afraid or ashamed to find errors in your understanding of things. • You take mistakes as lessons. • You don't get offended with accepting the facts. • You are highly adaptable and very curious. • You know what you don't know.


Video on 5 Psychological Tricks To Win Any Argument


01:01 - Tip #1: Lay Out The Points of Agreement 02:58 - Tip #2: Clarify The Other Person’s Perspective 04:02 - Tip #3: Establish Your Good Intentions 05:01 - Tip #4: Separate Your Views From Your Ego 07:26 - Tip #5: Not Identifying With Your Perspective & Winning Mindset

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Unity in the Church

Long ago, Jonathan Edwards proposed that Christians should unite. Such unity even more important today than it was then.

As 'tis the glory of the church of Christ, that she, in all her members, however dispersed, is thus one, one holy society, one city, one family, one body; so it is very desirable, that this union should be manifested, and become visible; and so, that her distant members should act as one, in those things that concern the common interest of the whole body, and in those duties and exercises wherein they have to do with their common Lord and Head, as seeking of him the common prosperity. 

It becomes all the members of a particular family, who are so strictly united, and have in so many respects one common interest, to unite in prayer to God for the things they need: it becomes a nation, in days of prayer, appointed by national authority, at certain seasons, visibly to unite in Prayer for those public mercies that concern the interest of the whole nation: so it becomes the church of Christ, which is one holy nation, a Peculiar people, one heavenly family, more strictly united, in many respects, and having infinitely greater interests that are common to the whole, than any other society; I say, it especially becomes this society, visibly to unite, and expressly to agree together in prayer to God for the common prosperity; and above all, that common prosperity and advancement that is so unspeakably great and glorious, which God hath so abundantly promised to fulfill in the latter days.

It is becoming of Christians, with whose character a narrow selfish spirit, above all others, disagrees, to be much in prayer for that public mercy, wherein consists the welfare and happiness of the whole body of Christ, of which they are members, and the greatest good of mankind. And union or agreement in prayer is especially becoming, when Christians pray for that mercy, which above all other things concerns them unitedly, and tends to the relief, prosperity and glory of the whole body, as well as of each individual member.

Such an union in prayer for the general outpouring of the Spirit of God, would not only be beautiful, but profitable too. It would tend very much to promote union and charity between distant members of the church of Christ, and a public spirit, and love to the church of God, and concern for the interest of Zion; as well as be an amiable exercise and manifestation of such a spirit. Union in religious duties, especially in the duty of prayer, in praying one with and for another, and jointly for their common welfare, above almost all other things, tends to promote mutual affection and endearment.