Dear Reader,

A Latter-day Saint who believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are authorized of God doesn’t necessarily accept whatever the church puts forth as “gospel.” On the contrary, anyone who wants a better church tomorrow really ought to speak up today. We aren’t potted plants. Let's face it: Theological malarkey will continue to thrive in the church if members say “amen” to it all.

That is the main reason this site exists.

It also exists because I want to encourage wavering Latter-day Saints not to leave the Lord's restored church merely because of its flaws and the errors of its leaders.

Each article is listed below with a title, short synopsis and a link. They were written by Steve Warren (bio below). Articles by others may be added.

Keep the faith.

Steve Warren
West Valley City, Utah

“God is actually trying to create a much more profound relationship with us. We can only do that if we are actually wrestling with issues at hand.”
--Fiona Givens

Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth.

Steve Warren was raised in Heppner, Oregon, and has lived in Utah for 44 years. He attended Ricks College for two years, served a mission to Colombia and Venezuela, and graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in communications. He and his wife, JaNiece, have two sons and a daughter. He wrote and published Drat! Mythed Again, Second Thoughts on Utah in 1986 and was a copy editor at the Deseret News from 1988-2008. He wrote and printed 100 copies of a novel, Beyond the Finish Line, but has yet to find a real publisher. (2018)
Knowing, believing, seeing Insights into our borderline dysfunctional LDS relationship with the word “know.”

Pathway to heaven The Scriptures show one sure way to return to God’s presence: possess a heart that pleases him.

Obedience gone awry Strictly following the prophet is an excellent idea—at least as long as he’s right.

Falling short, staying put Living prophets constantly err, but that’s not a good reason to leave the Lord’s church.

What in the world? Certain strange features of the Book of Mormon add to its credibility.

Some kind of miracle Fiction. An invitation to speak in sacrament meeting begins a Utah couple’s wild ride.

The cross = victory The cross is a worthy, positive symbol because it reminds us that it is the dying Christ who saves us.

Pilate tried Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus; Pontius Pilate sought to set him free, so let’s give the man a break.

Father, Father, Father Why do we repeat the name of Deity so often in prayers these days?

Witnesses Multiple witnesses provide a compelling reason for anyone to ponder the claims of Mormonism.

Who is God? The Book of Mormon and other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ is God and that Heavenly Father is God the Father.

In the beginning If we didn't allow speculation and guesswork in lessons on the Creation and Adam and Eve, classes would be really short.

Short takes Brief quotes, comments and reflections on a variety of gospel topics.
A few heresies... that would make for a more interesting sacrament meeting.
Oopsy-daisy 40 foul-ups by top LDS authorities.
Appreciating Christ

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Short takes

Never see R-rated movies? Just another myth

Question:  How many presidents of the church have said we should never view R-rated movies?

Answer: None

Yes, President Ezra Taft Benson counseled young men at a 1986 General Conference priesthood session not to view R-rated movies in order to keep their minds free of entertainment that is immoral, suggestive or pornographic. (He later offered similar counsel to young women of the church.) But the general membership of the church has never received counsel from a church president not to attend R-rated movies.

Indeed, President Benson's counsel to youths suggests that attending R-rated movies might be acceptable even for LDS young people if the movies contain no sexually explicit material.  In fact, I would not hesitate to recommend to my fellow Latter-day Saints age 16 and above that they view such R movies as The King's Speech, Gran Torino and Schindler's List.

Although no president of the church has said we should never see R-rated movies, Elder Robert L. Simpson stated in October 1972 general conference that members should not view R-rated movies.  Let's keep in mind that Elder Simpson was an assistant to the Twelve and was expressing his opinion, not the position of the prophet, the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve or of the church.  

Here's a couple of other problems with letting a rating given by the Motion Picture Association of America determine whether we see a movie. First, by relying solely on rating and ignoring movie content, we may miss a great movie containing one F-word while convincing ourselves it's OK to see a PG-13 movie that is mediocre and full of vulgarity, violence or idiotic content. Second, the MPAA rating ignores the fact that many members live in countries where movies receive no MPAA rating. Third, by automatically following someone's counsel never to see an R-rated movie, we trust in them and the MPAA to guide us rather than wisely exercising our agency.

Family exaltation?

President Russell M. Nelson has said Salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter.

I believe President Nelson is wrong on both counts.

We teach that salvation is Christ's victory over death and that everyone resurrects through his merits and generosity.  If so, salvation is a family matterthe entire human family lives again regardless of individual behavior.  Exaltation, on the other hand, is an individual matter.  If an individual's heart is sufficiently pleasing to the Lord, he will be eventually exalted even if everyone else in his family isn't.

The best focus

The paragraph below is from reflections by Linda and Richard Eyre about their friend Stephen Covey.  It ran in the July 20, 2012, Deseret News.

“One evening he told us that there were many large, extended families who summered at a different lake, the one where he and Sandra always took their kids for the Covey family reunion. He said that after watching all those families for several years, he realized that they fell into three categories: families that were church-centered, families that were family-centered and families that were Christ-centered. It was only the third category, he said, that lasted, stayed strong and stood the tests and challenges of life without becoming divided.

Proof that there is a God

I offer the following experience as proof that there is a God.

Around midnight in the late 1990s, I waited in my car for a left-turn signal on northbound State Street and North Temple in Salt Lake City.  I had just finished a Saturday afternoon/evening shift at the Deseret News, but for the occupants of many of the other 10 or so cars it perhaps was late-night party time.

At the front of the left-turn line was a car with several rowdy young men, windows open and loud music rolling forth.  Behind them was a car with two more males.  I was third in line, and other cars to the right occupied the northbound lane. As the rest of us dutifully waited for the lights to change, the first car peeled out and accelerated through the red light onto westbound North Temple.  In effect, the message the young men sent to the rest of us was: “Hey, losers. You can obey the law if you want, but we sure as hell don’t have to.”

A few seconds later, as I muttered to myself, it got worse.  The men in the second car also peeled out!  Apparently, the fellows in both vehicles were part of the same night-on-the-town group. My muttering grew more intense. I'm ashamed to admit that I might have thought, or spoken, the word “bastards.” My main thought was: Why is there never a cop around when you need one?

Finally, the light changed and the rest of us proceeded.  About two blocks later, to my surprise I saw the two peel-out cars parked on the side of the road.  As I passed, I saw flashing lights on the dashboard of the second car—it was an unmarked police car!

In that moment I went from being a muttering loser to a man with one joyful thought:  “Yes, there is a God.”

The Spirit made me do it

Many active, mainstream members take a dim view of those who don’t always follow the Brethren and who appear to pick and choose when to obey. That's especially true if the picker and chooser is an Obama-lovin' bleeding heart liberal. Yet mainstream, more traditional members also pick and choose—but with a major difference.  When one of them chooses to disobey, he may feel he is doing so because the Spirit has directed him. (Which is, by the way, a good excuse for disobeying.)

Following are five common ways that active members disobey the Brethren. 

First, testimony bearers, perhaps the majority, tend to disregard specific counsel from the church about testimonies not being, in effect, mini-speeches or verbal newsletters. Yes, some may be unaware of the counsel, but unawareness represents a failure to pay close heed to leaders—also a form of disobedience.

Second, speakers routinely disregard the time limit assigned for their talk.

Third, the leaders of some organizations, perhaps caught up in a presumably spiritual lesson, allow their meetings to run several minutes over the time specified for the meeting block. Often, when a meeting has already gone over, leaders compound the disobedience by allowing the closing song to be sung, followed by a prayer.

Fourth, LDS young people appear to feel it's OK with the Spirit for them to attend, view or participate in football games, despite specific counsel from church leaders not to attend, view or participate in anything that is violent in any way.”  (See For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet, p. 11.) They also routinely attend or view such movies as Star Wars that contain violence. (Give BYU credit for cutting back on football violence in 2017 thanks to many missed tackles and a 4-9 record.)

Fifth, leaders have repeatedly counseled against repeating the name of Deity in prayers, but we constantly hear Father this and Father that.  (See “Father, Father, Father” on this site.)

A rather dramatic example of “Spirit-driven” disobedience happened a number of years ago in a previous ward that I attended.  During two sacrament meetings a couple of weeks apart, the first speakers went well over their allotted time, leaving no time for the final, main speakers.  In order to right this wrong, the bishopric invited the two speakers who had been jilted to speak in a sacrament meeting the following month.  This would have been a wonderful solution to the unfair treatment of these two brethren except for one thing—the first man proceeded to hog nearly all the time!

An approach to the Word of Wisdom

For years, a man named Cory entered the same bar every Tuesday night, sat at the end of the counter by himself, and ordered three small beers. On his latest visit, however, he ordered two large beers.

As he arose to leave, the bartender said, “Hold on just a second. I've gotta ask you something. You've been coming in here for years and drinking three small beers, but tonight you had two large ones. What's going on?”

Cory smiled, leaned against the bar, and said, “Here's the story. In Vietnam in 1968 I had two good buddies, Mike and Matt. We promised each other that if one of us didn't make it out of there alive, the other two would drink a beer every week in his memory. Well, we had a terrible firefight a month later, and Mike and Matt were killed. Since that time I've had one beer a week in memory of Mike, one in memory of Matt and the third one for myself. Tonight I drank one for Mike and one for Matt but none for me because last Saturday I joined the Mormon Church, and I'm not allowed to drink.”

Two glasses half full

My wife and I attended a regional conference at the Conference Center in 2014 at which Elder Dallin H. Oaks was the final speaker.  The first several speakers addressed the importance of family.  When Elder Oaks arose, he noted that no topics had been assigned.  However, because the speakers all independently chose to speak on the same topic, family, he observed that they had selected the message that the Lord wished to emphasize.

Elder Oaks comment brought to mind words that President Gordon B. Hinckley had spoken as the final speaker in the April 1995 general conference:

“My brethren and sisters, just a few words in conclusion.  First, I’d like to say that we have participated in a miracle.  As I have listened to all who have spoken, I have noted that there has been no duplication of treatment.  Every man and woman who has spoken has chosen his or her own theme to treat. There are no assignments made to any of the speakers concerning what they should say.”

We're not that rude

For decades, letters to the editor have popped up in Utah newspapers insisting that our state's drivers are the rudest in the country.  I never thought that was true.  Having driven in all of the Western states except New Mexico, my view is that, yes, our Utah drivers may be among the rudest, but saying we're No. 1 is a total guess.  In 2014, I was pleased to get support from an outfit called  They conducted surveys of 2,000 drivers nationwide, asking which state has the rudest drivers. I'm happy to say we Utahns got good news—we're only the ninth rudest! 
Neither the Church News nor the Ensign bothered to inform their readers about this wonderful survey and its positive implications for Latter-day Saints.  After recently studying the numbers more closely, maybe it's best that they let that sleeping dog lie.  That's because the four states with the highest proportion of LDS residents—Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada—all finished in the top 10.  Idaho was No. 1; Wyoming was 3; Nevada was 8 and Utah was 9.

Post script, Dec. 10, 2016: A study recently released by QuoteWizard reports that Utah's drivers are “the worst in the nation.”  (To be fair, worst doesn't necessarily mean rudest.)

Who was that man?

An Idaho-raised, LDS college student related the following experience at a U.S. university.

“When [the speaker] strode onto the stage, I recall him first greeting invited guests, university leaders and dignitaries.  Then he turned, smiled and waved, and a powerful feeling washed over me.  I can only describe it as a presence of great virtue.  It was as though I felt a wave of goodness rush past me.  I recall being shocked by the experience. . . . his soul touched mine—no doubt through the virtue of a life of choosing good over evil.  I left inspired to be better.”

Perhaps most Latter-day Saints in reading this account by Matt Sanders would surmise the speaker was the president of the church or an apostle.  However, it actually tells of Nelson Mandela’s 1998 appearance at Harvard University.  (Deseret News, Dec. 13, 2013)

Kernels of truth

“The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”  --Thomas Paine

“If you, who are organized by Divine Providence for Spiritual communion, Refuse, & bury your Talent in the Earth, even tho’ you should want Natural Bread, Sorrow and Desperation pursues you thro’ life, & after death shame & confusion of face to eternity.”  --William Blake

“Here in America, we are descended in blood and spirit from revisionists and rebels—men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine.”  --Dwight Eisenhower

“It is better not to have so much faith, than to have so much as to believe all the lies.” --Hyrum Smith

“It is when the hour of conflict is over that history comes to a right understanding of the strife and is ready to exclaim, ‘Lo, God is here, and we knew it not.’ ”  --George Bancroft

“I believe that with God it is such that all who loved each other on earth—genuinely loved each other—will remain together with God, for to love is part of God.”  --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.”  --Isaiah 32:17

“God is . . . a very present help in times of trouble.”  --Psalm 46:1

“The life of discipleship can only be maintained so long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves . . . The disciple always looks only to his master, never to Christ and the law, Christ and religion, Christ and the world. He avoids all such notions like the plague.  Only by following Christ alone can he preserve a single eye. His eye rests wholly on the light that comes from Christ . . .”
  --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice”  --Rudyard Kipling

The Bible is trueexcept for the false parts

On occasion I have said that I think it would be just fine if about 40 percent of the Bible and Doctrine and Covenants went missing.  In the Bible, I wouldn’t mind if most of the God’s anger parts along with the tedious details on observing rituals and the law of Moses were deleted.  Also, I wouldn’t miss about half of the psalms and proverbs along with nearly all of the genealogies.

Of course, the best parts to delete would be those that are simply false.  For example, I don’t believe:  “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation  . . . ” (Exodus 20:5)  I suspect this passage was inserted by a crotchety old loser who was mad at someone.  Some people just need to lighten up.

Another reason I don’t believe the Exodus 20 passage is because it contradicts numerous other scriptures.  I’ll offer a few examples.  Speaking to Cain, the Lord said, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?”  (Gen. 4:7)  The Lord most assuredly did not say “if your parents mess up, I’ll punish you for their iniquity.”  Also: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers” (Deut. 24:16) and “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20). And there's something in the Articles of Faith about people being punished for their own sins.

One of the best ways to evaluate whether a scriptural passage is true is to ask whether it is in harmony with the attributes of God and whether it comports with the preponderance of scripture passages on the subject in question.  (Speaking of the “attributes” of God, I believe God loves and desires joy for us all while encouraging—not compelling—the behaviors that lead to joy.)


We often hear these days that the Lord is hastening his work.  Let us not assume, however, that in the past the Lord was dilly-dallying.

Didn’t President Kimball exhort us to lengthen our stride?  And when President McKay said “every member a missionary,” he did not add “unless your day planner is already full.”

On the other hand, Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that . . . say, Let him make speed and hasten his work, that we may see it.” (Isaiah 5:18, 19) 

More revisions

One of the remarkable things about reading the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon and comparing it to the current English edition and to an 1830 replica edition is how insignificant have been the changes in the text.  The “thousands upon thousands” of changes noted by the book’s critics almost entirely consist of adding punctuation (the printer’s manuscript had none), correcting spelling, changing terms such as “because that” to “because” and “which” to “who,” where appropriate, and adding verses and chapters.

Still, a few trivial errors remain.

Some were errors in the original (see “What in the World?”).  But the examples listed below are likely modern glitches.

“Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous . . . ”

(Rejected probably should be separated.  1 Nephi 15: 36)

“Nephite coinage set forth—”  (This is in the chapter heading for Alma 11, which makes no mention of coins.)

“And when she had said this, she clasped her hands, being filled with joy” (Clasped should probably be clapped.  Alma 19:30)

“and he plead with them that they would not slay him”  (Should be pleaded or pled.  Oliver Cowdery appears to have written pled correctly in the printer’s manuscript. Ether 8:6)

In the introduction, which isn’t part of the original book, the description of Lamanites as “the principal ancestors of the American Indians” was changed in 2007 to “are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”  In the Doctrine and Covenants, Lamanites remains as a synonym for Indians.

Why bother with Isaiah?

Although I far prefer the Book of Mormon and the New Testament to the Old Testament, I agree with those who say that Isaiah deserves our attention.

Here are seven reasons to give heed to Isaiah:

1. He is the Old Testament prophet most often cited in the New Testament.
2. Christ commenced his ministry by quoting Isaiah (Luke 4:17-19)
3. Isaiah saw Christ. (Isaiah 6:1; 2 Nephi 11:2)
4. Nephi twice tells us “my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah.” (2 Nephi 25:5; 2 Nephi 11:2)
5. Moroni advises us to “search the prophecies of Isaiah.” (Mormon 8:23)
6. Christ twice instructs the Nephites to search the words of Isaiah. “Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”  (3 Nephi 23:1; 20:11)
7. The Book of Mormon, “the keystone of our religion,” includes many chapters of Isaiah’s writingsin fact, far more from Isaiah than from any other biblical prophet.

Emerson needed an editor

A number of times I have heard the following words of Ralph Waldo Emerson quoted in conference and other meetings:

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier—not that the nature of the task has changed but our ability to do has increased.”

OK, he was a great writer.  But in this instance, maybe he was being paid by the word.

Here’s what he could have said:  Practice makes perfect.

What I believe

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ who believes in the fundamentals of the restored church including the Book of Mormon and the divine mission of Joseph Smith. 

I believe that the LDS faith, having authority from God, offers the best prospects for mortals to draw close to Christ.  But I also believe that certain doctrines, teachings, policies and practices in the church are questionable and, in some cases, incorrect. 

I believe Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth and that he is merciful, patient and understanding, and is especially pleased with those who strive to live a good life, to put “love one another” into practice and to become better people.  His love extends fully to those who do not actively participate in organized religion.

Steve Warren

Sept. 22, 2014
(minor revision, June 2016)

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