K.C. and Michelle Woolf

Family blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Integration at Church and the Priesthood Ban

Earlier this month we went to visit my in-laws in Georgia. As we drove to their ward Sunday morning, my father-in-law pointed out the several protestant churches we passed. "That’s the black Baptist church... That’s the white Baptist church.... That’s where the white Methodists worship.... That Pentecostal church is mostly African-American." When we got to their Mormon ward I noticed that about a quarter of the congregation was of African decent. My father-in-law was in the bishopric with an black man. We had a musical number sung by a black man and his white wife.

This made me recall visiting South Africa in the 1980s where my older brother was finishing his L.D.S. mission. This was during the dark days of apartheid. Beaches, bathrooms, buildings, schools, entire cities, and especially churches were strictly segregated. By contrast, the L.D.S wards and branches I attended were conspicuously integrated. (Although some were more white or black depending on their location.)

This got me wondering. What would the Mormon church look like today in areas like the American South or South Africa had there not been the unfortunate, century long denial of the priesthood to blacks? Perhaps we would have adopted the same practice as many traditional Christian churches of separate black and white congregations. Perhaps this type of unofficial segregation would have continued today, as it has in many sects. The fact that blacks were not fully accepted into the L.D.S. church until after the larger American culture had already integrated itself may have had the ironic result of more racially diverse Mormon congregations.

I’m not trying to downplay negative effects the priesthood ban. I know we still have much racist baggage to overcome. But as I sat in sacrament meeting in Georgia, and as I have attended church in places like Washington DC and London where a majority of the worshippers were of African decent, I could tell we were on the right path. Indeed, I feel optimistic that we are moving closer to the ideal taught by Nephi: "And he inviteth them all to come unto Him and partake of His Goodness; and He denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female.....and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." 2 Nephi 26:33.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Book of Mormon Lesson 8

Book of Mormon Lesson 8
O How Great the Goodness of Our God
2 Nephi 6-10
I. Introduction
A. Today we will be covering 2 Nephi 6-10. This is a 2 day discourse by Jacob the younger brother of Nephi. (If you think our 3 hour blocks are hard to sit through.). This is kind of like a Gospel Doctrine lesson where he reads a few chapters of the scriptures and then discusses and interprets them.
B. Chapter 6 is his introduction in which he outlines the key themes he will be talking about. Chapters 7 and 8 are just him quoting Isaiah 50-52 (which prophesy about the coming of Jesus Christ), and chapters 9 and 10 are where Jacob explains these chapters and give a long, detailed explanation on the plan of salvation and the atonement.
C. This last week we started to watch Fiddler on the Roof. That got me interested in the pogroms in Russia, which got me interested in Jewish history in general, so I was Googling Jewish history and I happened upon a website for a synagogue in Miami, Fl and I recognized the rabbi’s name, Micah Caplan, as possibly a guy I went to college with. I read his personal information and saw that he had gone to A.S.U., so I E-mailed him and asked if he was the Micah Caplan who was in my Hebrew 101 class, and that if he was he probably didn’t remember me, but I was the only Gentile in the class and had red hair and an ugly goatee in college, and that I was now teaching a religion class and that sometimes people had questions about Judaism that I couldn’t answer, and asked if these came up in the future could I e-mail him to ask him. He wrote back and said that he did remember me and that yes he would help me anyway he could. So now we have access to a bonafide, Conservative Jewish Rabbi. So, I was thinking about Judaism when I read these chapters and I will make some comments about how Jews might see some of Jacob’s statements here.
II. Chapter 6 - Jewish History
A. The first few verses we see that it is Jacob talking, that he was ordained and consecrated by his brother Nephi, and that he will be reading the words of Isaiah.
B. Read 2 Nephi 6:5-7.
1. Jacob is quoting from a few different chapters in Isaiah here. Vs 6 is a quote from Isa 49:22 and vs 7 is a paraphrasing of Isa 60:16.
2. Read Isa 60:14-16.
a. Vs 14-15 talk about how the world will come to honor the Jews. If you are interested in what we owe the Jews, a good book is The Gift of the Jews by Thomas Cahill. He talks about how Jews revolutionized the way we think.
b. What does it mean that they will "suck the milk of the Gentiles?"
C. Read 2 Nephi 6:8-11
1. Talks about Christ being crucified, the Jews being scattered, and then being gathered again.
2. We have to be careful to note that it was a very small number of the Jews that openly rejected Jesus. And that it was actually the Romans the crucified him.
3. It is absolutely true that Jews were, and still are, scattered throughout the world and that they are currently gathering in great numbers in Israel again for the first time in 2000 years.
D. We have to be very sensitive in reading these vs. and some of the verses in chapter 10 that says that Christ should, "come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him–for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God."
1. This sounds very anti-Semitic. I don’t believe there was anything inherently evil about the Jews at the time of Jesus. They were probably the most righteous people on the earth at the time, the only people with an inkling of the truth. It may have been the pride of a few of their leaders that caused Christ to be crucified.
2. Back in chapter 6 it indicates that the Gospel would be taught to the Jews by the Gentiles. The church has made unprecedented conciliations to Jews in agreeing not to proselyte in Israel or specifically to Jews and to not do baptisms for the dead for Jews or Holocaust survivors. Why have they done this.
a. If you look at the history of the Jews it is a miracle that they survive as a people at all with all the persecution they went through.
b. Through the years, part of this persecution has been strong armed proselyting to the Jews and more persecution if it was rejected.
c. The Merchant of Venice is a perfect example of the attitudes in Europe towards Jews.
d. We should be very sensitive to the Jewish people in this regard. Also, unlike "traditional Christianity," we do not believe that just because someone does not fully accept the gospel in this life that they will spend all eternity burning in Hell. One of the things I like most about being Mormon is that I have never had to say with a straight face, "He’s such a nice person, it’s too bad he is going to Hell." We have an urgency to spread the gospel, but not an unfair, irrational urgency.
III. 2 Nephi 7
A. Here Jacob quotes Isaiah 50 which talks about God not forgetting the covenants he has made with Israel.
B. Read 2 Nephi 7:1 - talks about God not abandoning Israel.
C. Read 2 Nephi 7:2 - talks about Christ’s first coming. Although he was rejected by Israel he has not forgotten them.
D. Isaiah speaks Messianicly in 2 Nephi 7:6
(I’m going to skip 2 Nephi 8 because of time. It quotes Isaiah 51.)
IV. 2 Nephi 9.
A. This is one of the best discourses on the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement ever recorded. (It is also one of the longest chapters in the BoM.)
B. Read 2 Nephi 9:5-6.
1. Last week we talked a little bit about the fall of man. Whether the fall was an actual event in time or if it was an explanation for the state in which men find themselves, I do not know. But regardless, we are clearly in a fallen state in that we all sin and fall short of our potential, and we are mortal, and none of us feel real good about that.
C. Read 2 Nephi 9:7-8
1. The phrase "infinite atonement" is not used anywhere in the Bible. This is a concept that is unique to the BoM, but I think if you used the term to traditional Christian they wouldn’t have a problem with it.
2. What does an "infinite atonement" mean?
3. Breck England said: "when Jacob speaks of an infinite atonement, he probably means that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has limitless, immeasurable scope. The Atonement is absolutely unlimited in its effectiveness for those who are righteous."
4. Elder Spencer J. Condie says: "The Book of Mormon teaches us of an infinite atonement, an atoning sacrifice by Christ that is unbounded by time, ethnicity, geography or even kinds of sins, save for the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost. The Resurrection includes all people ‘from the days of Adam down’ to the end of time, those ‘both old and young, both bond and free, boh male and female’"
D. Read 2 Nephi 9:10-12.
1. What are the 2 deaths spoken of here? Physical and spiritual. We will all die and we all sin. The Atonement compensates for the 2 imperfections of mankind.
E. Read 2 Nephi 9:13-17
1. How will you feel when you have a perfect knowledge of all of your guilt? I would not look forward to this. Breck England said: "Obviously, to have a perfect recollection of every sin, every thoughtless remark, every hurtful action we have ever done would be excruciating. The problem with sin is its infinite effects. Some scientists theorize that the flapping of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas: the call this phenomenon ‘sensitivity to initial conditions.’ Our sins have the same effect. A harsh word to a child can echo in the child’s heart for a lifetime. A home-teaching visit omitted can lead a lonely sone to believe no one cares. A simple lie can lead to unending deception and pain.
2. When I was a kid I was bad in primary. I probably have a mild case of ADHD. But I had some very good Sunday School and Primary teachers who were patient with me and didn’t treat me harshly. My little brother was like me, but he had a primary president who hated him. When he misbehaved she would come behind him and pinch his neck. My mother remembers being upset that he would come home from church with his skin broken from her nails. While I had a great church experience as a kid, as soon as my brother got old enough to have some independence he stopped going to church. He didn’t go to seminary, didn’t go on a mission, doesn’t date Mormon girls (thank goodness), has been arrested a few times. I don’t put all the blame for this on this Primary President and ultimately it is my brother’s responsibility, but without the atonement, this woman would have to find out about the consequences of her actions.
3. In 17 we see what the consequences of knowingly committing sin are. Without the Atonement there needs to be justice.
F. Read 2 Nephi 9:20-23.
1. Here Jacob contrasts the pains of Hell with the mercies of God for those who repent and take advantage of the atonement.
G. Read 2 Nephi 9:25-27.
1. Here is another example of something that is not in the Bible that is clarified in the BoM. That the atonement applies to those who have not received the law. That only those who have received the law are responsible for following it.
2. In traditional Christianity, only a small percentage of people who have ever inhabited the earth will be saved because they had the opportunity to learn about and accept Jesus Christ. The rest will suffer and burn for all eternity.
3. We don’t believe that people will be eternally punished because they didn’t "hit the religious jackpot."
4. Some of my missionary companions believed that after we had knocked on someone’s door and invited them to hear the discussions and they didn’t let us in that they had had their chance to accept the gospel and now they would be relegated to a lower kingdom. I didn’t and don’t believe that. I believe that everyone will get an equal chance to accept the gospel. Michelle’s grandmother is a sweat little English lady who goes to the Anglican church every week wearing a big church hat. She has 2 children that have joined the church and she is familiar with the church. She helped support Michelle when she was on her mission and she has come to all of her grandchildren’s baptisms and most of the blessings. She’s never going to join the church because she doesn’t think it matters and she is very comfortable going to the Anglican church. But Michelle has told her that as soon as she dies we are going to baptize her, and I’m sure she will accept it and go to the Celestial Kingdom.
H. Finally, Jacob invites us to take advantage of the Infinite Atonement.
1. Read 2 Nephi 9:41-42.
2. Read 2 Nephi 10:23-24
3. Joseph Smith describes the infinite Atonement this way: "Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all the fruition of joy when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here....I am glad I have the privilege of communicating to you some things which, if grasped closely, will be a help to you when earthquakes bellow, the clouds gather, the lightenings flash, and the storms are ready to burst upon you like peals of thunder. Lay hold of these things and let not your knees or joints tremble, nor your hearts faint; and then what can earthquakes, wars and tornadoes do? Nothing. All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.
a. What does it mean that "all your losses will be mad up to you."?
b. Breck England said: "all your disappointments, your sorrows, your discouragements, your pains will be made up to you. If you’ve lost a child, watched a loved one suffer from cancer, been crushed by debt, been abandoned or abused—no matter what you have suffered, it will all be made up to you. Although your suffering may appear infinite to you , the Atonement reaches beyond it. And even more, the infinite consequences of all your mistakes, the wrongs you have done, the good things you neglected to do, the guilt you bear, the shame of a hurting conscience—no matter what you suffer, it has been paid. The debt has been canceled. The infinite Atonement has answered the demands of justice."

Books I can remember I've read

Books I Can Remember that I’ve Read (In no particular order)
I'm only counting text books if I read the entire thing.
I'm counting books that I read more than half of but stopped because I couldn't stomach it (Lolita) or hated (Moby Dick). I'm not counting books that are mostly pictures (The Cat in the Hat) although they are still some of my favorite books.

***** - I really liked
**** - I liked
*** - OK
** - I didn’t like
* - It sucked.

1. The Great Gatspy - F. Scott Fitzgerald****
2. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce**
3. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen****
4. Walden - Henry David Thoreau**
5. Claudius the God - Robert Graves*****
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez***
7. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess****
8. As I Lay Dying -William Faulkner***
9. Animal Farm - George Orwell****
10. The Book of Mormon - Written by the Hand of Mormon. Translated by Joseph Smith Jr.*****
11. The Holy Bible - King James Version*****
12. The Doctrine and Covenants - Joseph Smith, others****
13. The Pearl of Great Price - Moses, Abraham, Joseph Smith****
14. Travels with Charley (In Search of America) - John Steinbeck****
15. A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket***
16. A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket***
17. A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Wide Window - Lemony Snicket***
18. Les Liaisons Dagereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos****
19. Tom Sawyer Abroad - Samuel Clemens***
20. The Monkey Wrench Gang - Edward Abbey****
21. The Hero With a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell***
22. The Faith of a Scientist - Henry Eyring****
23. The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell****
24. What are People For - Wendell Berry***
25. The Miracle of Forgiveness - Spencer W. Kimball****
26. The Greatest Salesman in the World - Og Mandino***
27. 1984 - George Orwell****
28. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Samuel Clemens*****
29. On the Road - Jack Keroac****
30. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens****
31. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller****
32. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra****
33. Uncle Tom’s Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe***
34. Deliverance - James Dickey****
35. The Best of Edward Abbey***
36. Rosaura a las Diez - Marco Denevi****
37. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow****
38. Tom Sawyer Detective - Samuel Clemens***
39. The Iliad -Homer****
40. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein*****
41. Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky***
42. The Double - Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky***
43. The Trial -Franz Kafka***
44. Moby Dick - Herman Melville**
45. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison***
46. Principles of Surgery Companion Handbook - Schartz, Shires, Spencer*
47. Standing for Something - Gordon B. Hinckley***
48. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis*****
49. The Sound and the Fury -William Faulkner**
50. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck****
51. Slaughter House-Five - Kurt Vonnegut****
52. Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald****
53. Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry**
54. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer -Samuel Clemens*****
55. Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler*****
56. The Call of the Wild - Jack London****
57. Kim - Rudyard Kipling***
58. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens****
59. Howards End - E.M. Forster****
60. Sons and Lovers - D.H. Lawrence***
61. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad***
62. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -Robert M. Pirsig****
63. The Stranger - Albus Camus****
64. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf***
65. The Lonely Men - Louis L’Amour***
66. Sacred Clowns - Tony Hillerman***
67. The Covenant - James A. Michener****
68. Prentice Alvin - Orson Scott Card****
69. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy -Douglas Adams****
70. The Quick and the Dead - Louis L’Amour***
71. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee*****
72. The Gift of the Jews - Thomas Cahill****
73. The Last Battle - C.S. Lewis****
74. Iberia - James A Michener**
75. Ender’s Game -Orson Scott Card*****
76. People of Darkness - Tony Hillerman****
77. The Horse and His Boy - C.S. Lewis****
78. The Silver Chair - C.S. Lewis****
79. Memory of Earth - Orson Scott Card***
80. The Odyssey - Homer****
81. The Source - James A. Michener*****
82. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger****
83. The Story of England - Christopher Hibbert****
84. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway****
85. The Changed Man - Orson Scott Card****
86. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl****
87. El Milagro del Perdon -Spencer W. Kimball****
88. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley****
89. A Marvelous Work and a Wonder - LeGrand Richards****
90. A Treasury of Classical Mythology - A.R. Hope Moncrieff****
91. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - J.R.R. Tolkien****
92. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales****
93. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens****
94. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens****
95. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone - J.K. Rowling*****
96. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling*****
97. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -J.K. Rowling*****
98. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -J.K. Rowling*****
99. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling*****
100. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling*****
101. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling*****
102. The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis*****
103. The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis*****
104. Out of the Silent Planet - C.S. Lewis****
105. Prince Caspian - C.S. Lewis*****
106. The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis*****
107. Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis****
108. That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis****
109. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway***
110. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov**
111. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley****
112. I Claudius - Robert Graves*****
113. Anthem - Ann Rand***
114. Lord of the Flies - William Golding****
115. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner***
116. The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad***
117. Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein****
118. A Room With a View - E.M. Forster****
119. Lord Jim - Joseph Conrad***
120. Citizen of the Galaxy - Robert Heinlein****
121. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesley****
122. Tunnel in the Sky - Robert Heinlein****
123. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum****
124. Speaker for the Dead - Orson Scott Card****
125. Xenocide - Orson Scott Card****
126. Songmaster - Orson Scott Card**
127. Saints - Orson Scott Card****
128. Red Prophet - Orson Scott Card****
129. Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren**
130. The Great Brain - John Dennis Fitzgerald****
131. Me and My Little Brain - John Dennis Fitzgerald****
132. Jesus the Christ - James Talmage*****
133. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas****
134. Dracula - Bram Stoker****
135. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown***
136. Angels & Demons - Dan Brown****
137. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - Gregory Maguire****
138. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator - Roald Dahl**
139. How the Irish Saved Civilization - Thomas Cahill***
140. Fundamentals of Family Medicine - Robert B. Taylor***
141. Medical Physiology - Rodney A Rhoades and George A Tanner**
142. D'aulaires Book of Greek Myths - Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aurlaire****
143. El Libro De Mormon - Un Relato Escrito por la Mano de Mormon. Traducido de las Planchas por Jose Smith, Hijo*****
144. Generation X - Douglas Coupland***
145. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe****
146. Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice****
147. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde****
148. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen****
149. History of the English-Speaking Peoples - Winston Churchhill****
150. A Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking - Barbara Bates**
151. Complete History of the World - Richard Overy****
152. The American Religion - Harold Bloom***
153. The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck****
154. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote****
155. A Rumor of War - Philip Caputo****
156. Religion in the New World - Richard E. Wentz***
157. The Moon Is Down - John Steinbeck****
158. The Pearl - John Steinbeck****
159. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck****
160. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - John le Carré****
161. The Education of Little Tree - Forrest Carter*****
162. The Chosen - Chaim Potok****
163. The Work and the Glory, Pilar of Fire - Gerald N. Lund*****
164. The Work and the Glory, Like a Fire if Burning - Gerald N. Lund*****
165. The Work and the Glory, Truth will Prevail - Gerald N. Lund*****
166. The Work and the Glory, Thy Gold Refine - Gerald N. Lund*****
167. The Work and the Glory, A Season of Joy - Gerald N. Lund*****
168. Stepen King On Writing, A memoir of the Craft - Stephen King***
169. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris****
170. Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, The Evidence for Ancient Origins - Edited by Noel B. Reynolds. ****
171. The Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko****
172. Naked Ape : A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal - Desmond Morris****
173. Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes****
174. Mormons and Masons, Setting the Record Straight - Gilbert W. Scharffs*
175. San Manuel Bueno, mártir - Miguel de Unamuno****
176. Critiquing the Critics of Joseph Smith - Hartt Wixom****
177. Mormon Country - Wallace Stegner****
178. The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler****(March '08)
179. The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel**** (April '08)