Wednesday, December 31, 2014

15 New Year's Resolutions from the prophets for 2015

            As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around the world prepare for the new year, many are setting goals for their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development.
            While these goals may be inspired by any number of sources, prophets and other Church leaders mentioned during the October 2014 General Conference some specific changes people can make to improve their lives and their spirituality.
            In his address, Elder Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.”
            Here are 15 goals from the prophets to help you center your life on Christ during 2015.

1. Avoid contention

            Today’s world—especially the online social media world—is fraught with arguments and differing opinions. Church members can emulate Christ by being peacemakers even when they disagree with others.
            “On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught. “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. . . . We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence.”

2. Find more meaning in temple service

            With a new temple set for dedication in Utah County during 2015, now is a great time to recommit to meaningful temple worship. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there. While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there. Remember that many more blessings come from providing your own family names in the temple.”

3. Take care of your body
            Physical well-being is closely connected to mental, emotional and spiritual health.
            “Take responsibility for your own physical well-being,” Elder Jörg Klebingat taught. “Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! … [P]lease use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves.“

4. Learn more about the gospel
            Before Church members can fully live the gospel, they must understand it. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught this important truth:
            “In searching the scriptures and the words of past and current apostles and prophets, we should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ,” he taught. “In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves ‘to much prayer, and fasting.’ It seems that these things which are not easily measured are of great importance. Stay focused on these simple things, and avoid becoming distracted.”

5. Be a better parent
            Children are the future of our homes, the Church and the world. Therefore, the role of parents is of paramount importance.
            “It is my firm conviction that there has never been a period in my many years of life when our Father in Heaven’s children have needed the guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents more,” Elder L. Tom Perry taught. “… We must find within ourselves that same determined spirit and overcome the challenges we face with the same spirit of sacrifice. We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.”

6. Improve personal scripture study
            Prophets have repeatedly counseled that scripture study is essential to gaining a testimony and maintaining the companionship of the Spirit.
            “Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”

7. Serve someone every day
            The small acts of service we offer may seem insignificant, but Elder Jeffery R. Holland taught that when we do what we can, our offering will make a difference.
            “A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city,” Elder Holland said. “He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had.”

8. Have more meaningful prayer
            Improving prayer habits can improve every facet of life. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.”

9. Increase your fast offering
            When speaking about caring for the poor, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked Church members to be “as generous as circumstances permit” in their contributions.
            “Cherish that sacred privilege [to fast] at least monthly, and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions,” he said. “I promise that God will be generous to you, and those who find relief at your hand will call your name blessed forever.”

10. Repent daily

            Repentance has some negative connotations, but daily repentance helps disciples of Christ become closer to the Savior.
            “Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Embrace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance as things that are to be welcomed and applied daily according to the Great Physician’s orders. Establish an attitude of ongoing, happy, joyful repentance by making it your lifestyle of choice. … Keeping your eyes on the Savior, care more about what He thinks of you, and let the consequences follow.”

11. Have Family Home Evening
            As Church members strengthen their own testimonies, teaching family members gospel truths will increase their understanding and increase the influence of the Spirit in family members’ lives.
            “Be cautious not to make your family home evening just an afterthought of a busy day,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Decide that on Monday night your family will be together at home for the evening. Do not let employment demands, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family. The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested.”

12. Forgive quickly
            People who forgive others relieve themselves of heavy burdens that decrease happiness. Immediate forgiveness increases joy and strengthens relationships.
            “Forgive everyone, everything, all the time, or at least strive to do so, thus allowing forgiveness into your own life,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Don’t hold grudges, don’t be easily offended, forgive and forget quickly, and don’t ever think that you are exempt from this commandment. Spiritual confidence increases when you know that the Lord knows that you bear no ill feelings toward another soul.”

13. Maintain a clear vision
            As Church members set new goals and resolve to become better, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. Elder Carlos A. Godoy taught this important principle: “Making decisions that can impact our lives and those we love without having the broader vision of their consequences can bring some risks. However, if we project the possible consequences of these decisions into the future, we can see with greater clarity the best path to take in the present. Understanding who we are, why we are here, and what the Lord expects from us in this life will help give us the broader vision we need. … We have the scriptures, the temple, living prophets, our patriarchal blessings, inspired leaders, and, above all, the right to receive personal revelation to guide our decisions.”
14. Evaluate yourself honestly
            As people improve their lives and become more committed disciples, constant self-evaluation helps the process continue. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave this helpful formula for self-evaluation:
            “[H]ow can we shine the pure light of God’s truth into our souls and see ourselves as He sees us? May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination. As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: ‘Lord, is it I?'”

15. Emulate Jesus Christ
            The best goals and resolutions lead Church members toward Jesus Christ. President Thomas S. Monson taught, “As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain. There is no higher end than this, that we should choose to accept His discipline and become His disciples and do His work throughout our lives. Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

King Size Bed

Thank God for that bed and the Baby who slept there!
Merry Christmas!
-Lionel Benson
"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.

To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

--Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Prayer: Line Upon Line

Confessions of a Mormon Bishop
Tom Obenchain 16 Nov 2014

            I am a Mormon bishop and I have a confession to make. I think I may have only just learned to pray. I know, right? How is that possible? I’m a bishop for crying out loud. I have to know how to pray. And of course I do know how, but I’ve learned to deepen my prayers and make them more meaningful and powerful. I’ve practiced for years. But I just now think I am beginning to get it right.

Learning to Pray

            I learned my first lessons of prayer while gathered with my family around my parents’ bed each night. In between fidgeting and a bit of daydreaming, I managed to soak in the patterns of prayer and more importantly the heartfelt desires of my family. In turn I prayed, too, “Dear Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for this day and for my many blessings. Please help me have a good day and to have fun. . . .” As I grew, my prayers advanced to include statements like, “Help this food nourish and strengthen our bodies.” and “Help us get everything done that we need to.” Though I smile as I write this, I am not belittling these prayers.

            Prayer changed in a big way for me when I was eighteen. I needed to make a decision about going on a mission. I knew two things: first, that I wanted to serve, and second, that I needed help and I needed answers. When I knelt to pray I remember facing the question of whether God was really there. At that moment I needed to know, really know. I prayed with real intent for perhaps the first time in my life. When I left my room I had learned two things: first, that God did indeed exist for he had manifested Himself to me through the Holy Ghost, and second that He is merciful, so merciful that he cared deeply for a poorly prepared prospective missionary trying to do the right thing.

            As a missionary in West Germany, I began to hear more of the whisperings of the Spirit. We prayed a lot as missionaries. We woke up and prayed. We prayed before we studied, and before we left the apartment. We prayed with investigators. We prayed with members. We prayed over our meals and in the evening before bed. I drew much strength from prayer, but my prayers, I think, lacked power. Prayer had yet to lodge in my heart. But in mercy God blessed those we taught despite my lack of understanding.

            While in an apartment in Rexburg, Idaho, I fasted and prayed about a girl that I liked, a lot. When no clear answer came to the question of whether she was the one I should marry, I was sure I had messed the whole thing up. I feared that I didn’t really know how to pray and get answers. Later that same year in Logan, Utah, I was prompted to pray about another girl. The Spirit then taught me that my earlier frustrations with prayer and fasting had been to teach me what “no” felt like. When “yes” came, it was powerful and sure.

            After Julie and I were married, we prayed together about starting a family, about where to live and work. After I finished school, when we were desperate for a ‘real’ job, we prayed. God taught me that fear can get in the way of answers. It took desperate times for me to listen more carefully and to hear His encouraging voice. He taught me to trust Him in new ways.

            As my family and career progressed, I continued to pray, but somehow I managed to trip and fall. I remember being in a place where prayer had become a chore. I knew I needed to pray. I believed in prayer. I had experienced powerful prayer, but somehow I still found myself struggling. I was busy, stressed out, feeling like I could not live up to all of the expectations that I felt were pinned on me.

            Exhausted, I would fall asleep kneeling at the bed at night. I judged myself harshly. This in turn made it harder to pray the next time. I would go days, dare I say weeks without really praying. Guilt and the fear of losing my testimony would get me on my knees, but my prayers were not what they needed to be.

            I don’t remember a single solution to this crisis. I only know that I didn’t give up.

            Even after long stints of shallow, distracted prayer, I would desperately approach Heavenly Father for help. I remember being confused by His patience. I remember feeling loved and understood and couldn’t quite figure out why I could possibly receive such inspiration and mercy. Now when I am tempted to mourn my mistakes, I am reminded that my wrong turns have been compensated for with divine course corrections, every swamping of my boat has been met with stilled storms and unseen, bailing hands.

            Today, I am a bishop. I have prayed to know who to call as counselors. I have prayed about callings and ward members. I pray for my children and my wife and my friends. I pray for those struggling with addiction and those scared because of difficult family situations. I pray for people to come back to church and I pray for those people in such desperate need that they lack hope. On Sundays, I feel like a missionary again. I pray before I leave the house, I pray as we start bishopric meeting and then in other meetings and with each person who comes for an interview. I pray with my family. I pray with my wife and even when I catch myself falling asleep on my knees, I crawl into bed without a heavy heart, because I have finally learned God is patient and loves when his children pray, even very tired bishops.

Deepening Our Practice of Prayer

            I wish I had learned more about deepening my practice of prayer earlier in my life. It is never too early to build a more meaningful connection with Heavenly Father. I’d like to share ten things that have helped me deepen my practice of prayer. I hope they will help you connect or even reconnect with Father in Heaven in more powerful ways.

1. Make More Time for Prayer: Deep, powerful prayer takes time, lots of time—more time that we typically give ourselves. Today, I find more and more time for prayer. Ten minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes are usually not enough. I need to lots of time to dump everything at God’s feet and to feel His grace and love for me.

2. Learn to Focus: Voicing my prayers helps me focus. When I pray out loud others do not need to hear me. There is something powerful about the human voice. We don’t use it often enough in prayer. I write down the promptings that come so that I can go back and reread them to remember how I felt. As I focus better, I pray longer and my experiences with my Father in Heaven become more powerful. Powerful focused prayer makes me to want to pray more.

3. Get Rid of the Junk: Let go of fear, doubt, worry, and other anxious thoughts. Often, I need to write out what is bothering me and then ask Heavenly Father to help me know the truth about who I really am and how He sees me. When He answers through His Spirit, He does answer! I am able to arise renewed and strengthened, alive with a desire to serve and to act boldly. It is when I have given Him all of my junk and asked for an hundredth time if He is sure I can give Him even more that I begin to understand the never failing love of God.

4. Express Deep Gratitude: Remembering and expressing gratitude for my most cherished blessings always raises my sensitivity to the Spirit as I pray. Taking time to feel my gratitude instead of just thinking about what I’m thankful for changes the way I pray.

5. Beat the Early Bird: It is in the early morning hours that I have learned to be quiet and pour out my soul, day after day. The quiet, early hours (between four and six) allow me to focus without the pressures of pending responsibilities. If I get up and get ahead of my task list, I can have the time I need to pray while the pressures of life are still putting on their running shoes.

6. Pray Always: I pray in the car, as I walk the dog, in the elevator, at my desk at work or at church. Continual prayer feeds me and quiets my fears of inadequacy. I love conversing with my Father in Heaven. I honor Him by reverently approaching Him, but I am always relieved to feel His familiar love, again and again.

7. Get Back Up: When I fall down and my perceived failures mock my efforts with prayer, I ignore these tactics of my adversary, “. . . for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray1,” When I don’t feel like praying, especially because I have been lax in my habits of prayer, I muster the courage to approach God again, ready for chastisement only to find that my own chastisement has been quite enough. He is only too glad to hear from me again, his yet somewhat wayward son.

8. Don’t Avoid Emotions: I let myself cry regularly as I pray. As men we need to get over the whole crying thing. Emotions are a powerful part of who we are. The Savior wept. So can I. When I am alone with my Father in Heaven, I give myself permission to shed the tears that help speed the cleansing process. This advice in not only for men. Women, too, can hold in things and try to bear burdens alone. We all must learn to let our fears, our cries of shame, our lack of faith flow out through powerful emotion.

9. Ask Lots of Questions: The principles of the gospel open to me when I pray with questions, many questions. Again my journal becomes an indispensable tool for my question asking.

10. Relax: I am no longer surprised when I feel the Spirit as I pray day after day. What used to be an occasional occurrence has become a regular one. All I needed to do years ago, when I was so desperate to feel like my prayers were making it past the ceiling, was to relax and trust the words of scripture that tell us that He is kind, so kind and patient that he will not upbraid2 or scold us for asking.

            Tomorrow morning, I will arise earlier than seems normal. I will express whatever is on my mind and listen for the Spirit to remind me of blessings already granted. I will ask questions and I will beg Him for help for members of my family and my ward. I will thank him for being patient while I continue to learn to pray. I confess that I think there is even more to learn about prayer. For now, however, I am content. Today, I am sure of prayer’s power. I am sure God listens and answers and counsels with His children. I look forward to my time with my Heavenly Father. I am so grateful that I have learned to call His name and listen as He, in turn, calls mine.

12 Nephi 32:8
2James 1:5

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

7 Things All Mormons Should Know about the King James Bible

by Kelsey Berteaux for LDSLiving Magazine

            Latter-day Saints use the King James Bible along with other scripture to learn the will and word of God. But while you may know your Bible verses, you probably didn’t know these things about the King James Version of the Bible.

            In 1979, the LDS Church published its first edition of the Bible in English, and in 1992, it was officially adopted by the Church as the Bible of preference.
            But if you’ve ever looked at the title page of your LDS quad and wondered about King James and his Bible, you’re not alone.
            Here are seven things all Latter-day Saints should know about the King James Bible (KJB). 
1. The 1611 King James Version of the Bible is actually a composite of several earlier translations, not a new translation of older Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
            While the 47 translators who created the KJB were instructed by King James to consult the older (and closer to the original) Greek and Hebrew texts, they mostly referred to existing versions of the Bible.
            This, as modern-day Church leaders note, is problematic because it obscures the original text: “When a sacred text is translated into another language or rewritten into more familiar language, there are substantial risks that this process may introduce doctrinal errors or obscure evidence of its ancient origin.” However, they also affirm, “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations.”
            Fun fact: The Tyndale New Testament translation, which makes up an estimate 90% of the KJB New Testament, actually coined news words in English, including “Passover,” “peacemaker,” “scapegoat,” and even the adjective “beautiful.”

2. Politics in the 17th century affected how some words in the King James Version were translated.
            The KJB purposefully reinforces the structure of the Church of England and the ordained clergy. For example, the word "church" was never to be translated as “congregation.” And the influence of period politics didn’t stop there.
            One important reason the project was commissioned in the first place was because King James I of England didn’t like some of the footnotes in the then-current official version of the text, the Geneva Bible. A specific example he cited was a footnote justifying the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed the king’s order to kill all male Hebrew children. These notes and other aspects King James disagreed with were also censored.
            Certainly, as the First Presidency has said, “The Bible, as it has been transmitted over the centuries, has suffered the loss of many plain and precious parts.”

3. Many common English idioms are rooted in the King James Bible.
            The language we use today reflects teachings and stories from the King James Version of the Bible. An estimated 250 English idioms are said to have originated in the KJB. Here are just a few examples of how the "stick of Judah" has grown together with our modern-day culture:
“a drop in the bucket” (Isaiah 40:15)
“fall flat on your face” (Numbers 22:31)
“escape by the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20)
“a sign of the times” (Matthew 16:3)
“sour grapes” (Ezekiel 18:2)
“at wit’s end” (Psalms 107:27)
“go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41)

4. The King James Version of the Bible was written to be read aloud.
            In the 1600s, most church-goers couldn’t read. And even if they could, the expense of owning a copy of the Bible was a luxury most couldn’t afford. Taking this into consideration, the creators of the KJB made sure that their work would flow well not only for reading, but also for speaking. It’s considered to be one of the most beautifully written Bibles in cadence and imagery for this reason. And its beautifully crafted phrases are designed to linger in thought.
            However, this extra consideration for the cadence and elegance of the words often came at a sacrifice of faithfulness to the original Greek and Hebrew.
            Still, given this background, reading the KJB aloud is a practice worth trying during regular scripture study.

5. The translators who worked on the King James Bible admitted that there were human errors in the work, even though the message was the word of God.
            Echoing the words in Mormon 8:17, that “if there be faults [in the Book of Mormon] they be the faults of a man,” the translators of the KJB wrote in a foreward to their work, stating that “perfection is never attainable by man, but the word of God may be recognized in the very meanest translation of the Bible.”
            They also explain that their numerous changes do not imply previous faults in the book, but that “the whole history of Bible translation in any language [. . .] is a history of repeated revision and correction.”
            Unfortunately, this foreward was later dropped from most print versions of the book, and without it, some groups have developed the perception that the “authorized” Kings James Version is somehow perfect and the only inspired Bible. Still, for LDS readers, it is the preferred Bible.
            Fun fact: New versions of the KJB were often named after printers' errors. The first authorized edition is known as the "Basketball Bible" because it uses "hoopes" instead of "hookes" when referring to the construction of the Tabernacle. A 1631 edition was called the "Wicked Bible" because it wrote the seventh commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery" (leaving out the "not")!

6. When it was first printed, the Kings James Version was criticized for being too easy to understand.
            Though modern readers sometimes have a hard time understanding the antiquated language of the KJB, at the time of its first printing, the initial criticism for the new Bible was that it was too simple. Because other versions had been difficult and needed interpretation and great thought to understand, the idea of a Bible that was “easy” concerned some groups who were “looking beyond the mark.”
            The original preface anticipated this concern and observed how the language of other Bibles kept them from being understood. The translators also explained their purpose in this shift: “we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself . . . that it may be understood even of the [common people].”

7. Nearly 100,000 changes have been made to the 1611 King James Bible.  
            Up through about 1769, an estimated 100,000 textual changes have been made to the first edition of the KJB. Most of these are minor, and the vast majority were made to standardize spelling with the rise of the dictionary and add or slightly alter punctuation. Without these, a modern reader would struggle even more with the text when running across spellings like “sonne” for “son,” “yron” for “iron,” “citie” for “city,” and hundreds of others.
            Over time, some other small changes were made, but whether or not these changes alter meaning significantly is up for debate. Notably, these alterations are not listed in italics like other textual additions the original translators added for clarity in English. Some examples include:
Acts 16:1 — “which was a Jew” changed to “which was a Jewess”
1 Peter 2:5 — “sacrifice” changed to “sacrifices”
Isaiah 47:6 — “the” changed to “thy”
Isaiah 49:13 — “God” changed to “Lord”
Ezekiel 3:11 — “the people” changed to “the children of thy people”

What this means for Latter-day Saints

            Joseph Smith said, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” For Latter-day Saints, knowing the history behind the KJB can contextualize the teachings of the gospel found in the Bible.
            How? The 1992 First Presidency statement on the King James Version of the Bible explains: “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.
            “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations. All of the Presidents of the Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, have supported the King James Version by encouraging its continued use in the Church.”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Agency

Know This, That Every Soul is Free
Hymn 240
Music: Roger L Miller, born 1937
Text: Anon, ca. 1805, Boston

Know this that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to heaven.

He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

May we no more our powers abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

Friday, November 21, 2014

9 Things People Get Wrong about Mormons

by Kelsey Berteaux 18 Nov 2014

            “What are you doing? You can’t use a calculator!”
            My hands froze on the keypad, and I looked to my fellow seventh-grader who had made the statement. We were in math class working on a homework assignment, and I hadn’t realized calculators were prohibited. It looked like all my classmates were tapping away on their electronic math aids. So I asked back, “Why?”
            “Aren't you Mormon? You can’t use calculators.”
            And that’s when I realized: my classmate thought being Mormon was the same as being Amish.
            After assuring him that I had arrived at school that morning in a car and that I had plans to use a computer later, I got back to my assignment, calculator in hand.
            But that wasn’t the last time I’d hear something strange one of my classmates, coworkers, or even close friends who had an odd idea about what it meant to be Mormon. Here are eight more times I or one of my LDS friends have heard something about our beliefs from others who clearly didn’t quite get what it means to be a Latter-day Saint:
     2. But you don’t celebrate Christmas.”
            The birthday of Christ is definitely something Latter-day Saints do celebrate (since we are Christians). We also observe Thanksgiving. And New Year’s. And other state and national holidays. In a recent survey, we even found that 95% of us celebrate Halloween.
            When someone first accused me of this in junior high, it took me a few days to realize where he probably got that idea from: in addition to being not Amish, Mormons are also not Jehovah’s Witnesses. And we do celebrate holidays, with cake, decorations, presents, and everything. 
      3. “So, you dig up dead people and baptize them?”
            No. I corrected the high school senior who asked me this and explained that “baptisms for the dead” aren’t a literal baptism of a deceased person’s body. This ordinance is done in name and by proxy in LDS temples. And we’re not forcing the deceased person to be baptized—it’s up to that person’s spirit whether or not they accept the baptism on the other side of the veil. But the moral of the story? Mormons aren’t grave robbers, either.  
      4. “Are you going to marry your cousin?”
            Also no. I think the person who asked me this question thought intra-family marriage was a Mormon practice from a mixed-up misunderstanding of a few things: the Church’s history with polygamy, our tendency to have large families, and a dash of how members are counseled to date other members.
            Today, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t have multiple wives, and unless there’s a situation a la Star Wars going down, Latter-day Saints don’t date members of their own families, either. (Just like everybody else.)
      5. “That must mean you like Jell-O and casseroles.”
            Actually, I can assure everyone, including the sweet girl who said this to me my sophomore year in college, that my culinary inclinations (like most peoples’) are not based on where I go to Church on Sundays.
            What I can say is that Mormons do tend to have large families, and large families tend to have inexpensive food like casseroles more frequently. But even though I was one of five kids in my home growing up, we almost never ate Jell-O or casseroles. Or Jell-O casseroles. None of that. In fact, based on LDS Living Facebook comments, I’d say that a fair portion of my fellow Latter-day Saints both in and out of Utah would agree with me that the Mormons and Jell-O connection is rather tenuous.
      6. “How’s Donny Osmond doing?”
            If someone asked me this, I'd have no idea how to answer this question. I get that Donny Osmond is a famous LDS singer, but any random Latter-day Saint probably isn’t a close enough friend of a celebrity to know how they’re doing, whether that celebrity is Mormon or not. We might have seen his latest show, or recently downloaded his app, but the highest hope most of us can aspire to is finding our three degrees of Donny Osmond.
      7. “Mormons don’t dance.”
            This funny clip from Cheers has probably planted this question in a few people’s minds: 
            But as Norm notes, Mormons are (still) not Amish. And we can dance (and send flowers, too!). We even organize large dances for youth and young single adults that are often held inside our church buildings.
            Now, I’m not saying we all dance well, and we are given the guideline to avoid “positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual or violent behavior,” but there’s certainly no rule entirely prohibiting us from busting a move on the dance floor.
      8. “All Mormons are Republican.”
            While the LDS Church will occasionally make official statements about politics based on moral issues, it does not endorse one political party over another. Rather, it encourages members to be informed and politically active, and notes that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties and candidates.”
            Yes, there may be more of us Mormons on one side of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean we’re all Republicans.
      9. “How does it feel to be an oppressed Mormon woman?”
            Let me just hand the mic to renowned LDS author and CEO of Deseret Book, Sheri Dew, on this one:     
            If you're not inclined to watch, here's a quick summary:
            Dew says that it seems easy to draw the conclusion that because women are not ordained to the priesthood that somehow we've been given less. But here are just a few things women in the Church get:
            We pray in public meetings. We speak. We expound scripture. We teach the doctrine. We lead organizations for all the women and young women and children of the Church. We teach the gospel on missions. In the temple, women participate in ordinances of a priesthood character. 
            Women receive revelation, gain testimonies, and stand in equality with men before the Lord in matters pertaining to godliness and holiness. We have the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. We receive an endowment of knowledge and power. We have spiritual gifts, including charity, spiritual intuition, and moral courage. We receive all the blessings of the atonement. 
            Women are at the very center of the plan of salvation; every person comes to earth through the courage and strength of a woman. 
            We get everything. 
            She concludes, "Does it sound like the Church is holding me back?"
            And that’s just scratching the surface. Check out more about LDS women and the priesthood
            There are lots of rumors about "the Mormons" floating around on the internet and in peoples' heads.        When in doubt, ask a Mormon--or ask the missionaries. They can help you!