What I Learned from Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith

A few months ago I was going through a faith crisis. It was a moment of doubt and unfortunately a moment of anger. Something that bothered me was the very human tendency of putting other humans in an almost superhuman pedestal, especially among Latter-day Saints with regard to General Authorities, specifically the Twelve Apostles and President of the Church. This led to cynicism and really, just an overall negative attitude about anything they had to say. I saw them, at the time, as old white businessmen.

But what changed that? Three General Authorities did that. One current apostle, one former apostle, and one former President of the Church. To be more specific: Boyd K. Packer, Bruce R. McConkie, and Joseph Fielding Smith. These three are generally seen as the three great conservative figures within the LDS Church. There is nothing wrong with that perspective, though it can be polarizing (and maybe flat out wrong for staunch Democrat McConkie) and lead to a very negative view of these men.

Let me explain…

Boyd K. Packer

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1e/To_young_men_only.jpgPart of my initial cynicism was when I found out about then-Elder Packer’s 1976 General Conference talk and eventual manual, “To Young Men Only”. The most difficult comment was when young missionary confessed to him that he hit his companion so hard that “I floored him.” Elder Packer’s response was: “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.” The implication, in context of the talk, was that the missionary’s companion was probably gay and had either told his companion or made a move on him. Now, my problem was (and is) with Elder Packer appearing to support violence against homosexuals. Even if the companion made a move on the missionary, I’m sure it could have been handled a better way than “flooring” him. Even if that was the case, should Elder Packer say, “It wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way”? Should an apostle advocate for violence against homosexuals, especially if it is excessive? What bothered me most was the audience reaction. They laughed as if violence against another human being was funny. Though to his defense, he did add, “I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.” If that protection is necessary, I am all for it, but if force could be avoided, it should be avoided (not every gay man hitting on you will be so aggressive that you need to hit and floor him).

There then came the famous quote from Elder Packer from a talk to the All-Church Coordinating Committee in 1993 where he elaborates on the three greatest dangers facing the Church: “The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.” As someone who likes to think of himself as somewhat of an intellectual and enjoys scholarship, and as an ally to both feminists and homosexuals, this bothered me. Especially when studying how this relates to the excommunications of the September Six (for accuracy, one of the September Six was disfellowshipped, and two of the excommunicated have returned to the Church).

It was with this almost “anti-Packer” bias that I came into the October 2014 General Conference. He was the first speaker of the Saturday Morning Session. As I sat down to watch the session on Saturday night, I wondered what he would have to say. I was surprised to find that he gave my favorite talk that conference. He bore an honest and sincere testimony of Jesus Christ. His was one of the most powerful testimonies of the Savior I have heard since joining this Church a year and a half ago. I realized that despite any disagreements I may have with President Packer, he is not some evil old man. He sincerely believes in Christ, worships Him, and does the best he can to live by his faith, even if we can disagree on a couple points. That’s the beauty of being a Latter-day Saint, we don’t always have to agree 100%, just help one another gain a testimony and closer relationship with the risen Christ.

Bruce R. McConkie

https://i2.wp.com/www.gapages.com/mcconbr1a.jpgThere is no stranger book, to my limited knowledge, in 20th century Mormonism than Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine. In the book, now out of print, Elder McConkie attempts to give explanations for why there was a priesthood and temple ban for those of African descent. Many of these explanations were given by faithful Latter-day Saints to possibly explain why blacks could not hold the priesthood or enter the temple. Since then, we now know and admit the practice started with Brigham Young and had no doctrinal basis. McConkie even backtracked and sustained the revelation to give blacks the full blessings offered in the Church. There were other problems with the book, of particular importance to me was its harsh views of Catholicism (a faith tradition I love and still have close ties to). It should be noted that the First Presidency was not happy with the book. President McKay asked Marion Romney to look at it and offer revisions. President McKay even went as far as offering a private rebuke and telling McConkie, in front of the rest of the Twelve, that the book cannot be republished. To that, McConkie humbly replied: “I am amenable to whatever you Brethren want. I will do exactly what you want. I will be as discreet and as wise as I can.”https://i1.wp.com/anancymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Mormon-bible.jpg

Since learning about Mormon Doctrine and Bruce R. McConkie’s very straightforward and sometimes harsh tone and language, I avoided anything by him that I could. If anything, for my own well being. I thought that by avoiding him I would avoid things I thought would hurt my testimony or didn’t like.

Then one day when talking about Elder McConkie with someone from my Elder’s Quorum on the ride home from the temple, he said, “Yeah, there are things McConkie said that were wrong or extreme, but when called out for being wrong he had no problem changing course. And I admire the way he spoke. He didn’t care what people thought but instead taught what he saw as God’s will boldly. That’s what a prophet needs to do.” I couldn’t disagree with that. Especially that last sentence. We need more of that in the Church today.

Last week I decided to start the Book of Mormon again and concentrate on Christ’s passion and death. I felt this prompting to look up Elder McConkie’s final General Conference talk. From hearing about it earlier, it was my understanding that it was a beautiful and simple testimony of Christ. I looked it up and it was a talk on the power of Christ’s sacrifice entitled “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane.” Elder McConkie starts:

“I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It was a beautiful talk that helped me understand Christ’s death much better. In fact, I have re-listened to the talk a few times over the last week.

What struck me most was the talk’s conclusion. For context, McConkie died 13 days after this talk.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

That was probably one of the most beautiful and most powerful testimonies of Jesus Christ I have ever heard. No matter what Elder McConkie may have said in the past, this was his final takeaway. In the end, Elder McConkie testified of Christ as a special witness. I see this as probably the ultimate fulfillment of his calling as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He was a man doing what he thought was best out of his sincere love for Christ. Seeing this love made me realize that. He was simply trying to show his love for the Savior.

Joseph Fielding Smith

https://ldsseminary.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/535-joseph-fielding-smith.jpg?w=221&h=287If you know me, you know I love the history of the Church. I find it fascinating as someone interested in religion to be able to go back and see documents from the founder himself. If you want to study religion and the making of religion, Mormonism is the religion to do it in. Years before taking missionary lessons, I began listening to podcasts about Mormon doctrine and Mormon history. Unfortunately, history in the Church has been somewhat white-washed and glossed over. I found out that some of this had to do with Joseph Fielding Smith being Church historian for about 50 years. At first I blamed him and thought he was a terrible person for hiding and misleading people about the history of the Church. For example, the Church acknowledging in 2014 that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and had about 40 wives should not make the New York Times. This should be common knowledge and accepted widely accepted. It should have been known and accepted a lot longer than before.


A young Joseph Fielding Smith with his father, Joseph F. Smith


Listening to a Mormon Stories episode with Terryl and Fiona Givens discussing their newest book, Crucible of Doubt, I heard Fiona mention this about Joseph Fielding. Joseph Fielding’s grandfather was Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph. His father was Joseph F. Smith, the last nephew of Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph F was in Nauvoo when his father, Hyrum, and uncle, Joseph, were killed. He saw their bodies and the aftermath of the Prophet and Patriarch’s death. Not only did Joseph Fielding grow up hearing about this and what his father saw, this was his family. The Prophet was a close relative. Hyrum was his grandfather. Is it out of line to think that Joseph Fielding did what anyone else would do in that position? He saw part of his job as protecting his family. Now, that doesn’t make what he did right, but it takes away from my anger and moves to understanding and compassion towards him.

Then there was his anti-evolution stance. He, along with Elder McConkie, were strong advocated against evolution. He spoke out widely against it. Though as I started doing more reading, I discovered that Henry Eyring, father of President Henry B. Eyring, was a renown chemist who would debate President Smith on evolution and the sciences in private. The two men would disagree and discuss their disagreements but come out of them acknowledging the other as a faithful Latter-day Saint. If Henry Eyring could do that, why can’t I?

https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/gospel-library/manual/36907/joseph-fielding-smith-great-granddaughter-shauna_1026341_inl.jpgIn this discussion it’s also important to note the First Presidency statement written after hearing from both Smith and B.H. Robers (who was in favor of evolution):

Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of the world. Leave Geology, Biology, Archaeology, and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research …. We can see no advantage to be gained by a continuation of the discussion … but on the contrary are certain it would lead to confusion, division and misunderstanding if carried further. [emphasis mine]

But what really did it was when I found out that he was in my line of authority (turns out it was his father, not him, but that’s besides the point). I didn’t want to have ill will towards someone in my line, so I went on ebay and bought the first volume of his Doctrines of Salvation (edited by none other than Bruce R. McConkie). When I started reading it there were things I loved about his theological thoughts and somethings that I disagreed with. But the beautiful thing was that while I disagreed I understood where he was coming from and it wasn’t a disagreement for disagreement’s sake. When I disagreed it was because I used logic, scripture, theology, to come to a different conclusion, not out of spite. It was a wonderful thing to dialogue with Joseph Fielding Smith through his text. And I will say, we agree more than we disagree.

Why mention any of this?

So you may be asking why say any of this? Why air my grievances and dirty laundry? Why come out against the prophets?

Well, I don’t see myself as doing anything of the sort. There were times when I went through my angry phase and doubt. There were some names of General Authorities I couldn’t stand and discredited anything they said. I was cynical. But I got beyond that. I had to realize that I could disagree with them but still find some truth to what they said and believed. They are not the sum totality of everything they say I don’t like.

I write this because I know there are many people who are going through faith transitions and may be going through their angry phase or have ill will towards some of our leaders. I’m writing this because I went through that and what helped was not avoiding those I disagreed with, it wasn’t because I kept silent and did nothing. What helped was a willingness to learn, to read, to hear, and to embrace these people as humans and as Mormons.

We are all Latter-day Saints so there has to be something in common binding us. Find that thing and embrace it.

Prayers for Rock

Rock Waterman, the creator and writer of the blog Pure Mormonism, was admitted to the hospital last week after a bout of pneumonia. Rock’s daughter, Amy, posted this on the comments section of his latest post:

“This is Rock’s Daughter. My dad was worried that you guys would think he was being rude because he has not been back here on his blog to read the comments. So he asked me to leave this note.  He is going back into the hospital over pneumonia. It is very serious He was in the hospital last week then he came home and could not sleep so he stayed up all night and wrote this blog but has not improved there seems to be some kind of blockage in his lungs because he is not improving. so they told him to go back to the hospital and will have to monitor him and give him continuous treatments because the mist from his nebulizer machine is not penetrating his bronchial tubes the way it should have helped. It is just not getting through and he can’t hardly breathe at all.

This looks bad. Please pray for my daddy and ask your friends on facebook to pray for him too because he already has bad weak lungs and CPOD but it never got this bad before. I’m looking after my mom here at their apartment so she will be okay but Dad needs your prayers. Thank you It’s bad this time. I never have seen him this sick.  That is all I know for now. Sorry. But please pray hard for my Daddy thank you.”

Yesterday, February 3, 2015, Amy posted an update on the same comments section. She says Rock is home but really struggling and not feeling any better.

“This is Rock’s Daughter. My dad was worried that you guys would think he was being rude because he has not been back here on his blog to read the comments. So he asked me to leave this note.  He is going back into the hospital over pneumonia. It is very serious He was in the hospital last week then he came home and could not sleep so he stayed up all night and wrote this blog but has not improved there seems to be some kind of blockage in his lungs because he is not improving. so they told him to go back to the hospital and will have to monitor him and give him continuous treatments because the mist from his nebulizer machine is not penetrating his bronchial tubes the way it should have helped. It is just not getting through and he can’t hardly breathe at all.

This looks bad. Please pray for my daddy and ask your friends on facebook to pray for him too because he already has bad weak lungs and CPOD but it never got this bad before. I’m looking after my mom here at their apartment so she will be okay but Dad needs your prayers. Thank you It’s bad this time. I never have seen him this sick.  That is all I know for now. Sorry. But please pray hard for my Daddy thank you.”

Rock Waterman can seem like a controversial figure. In June his bishop gave him a warning about a possible disciplinary council right before Kate Kelly and John Dehlin got their letters. That caused people to start calling them the June Three.

So he is seen as a controversial member of the bloggernacle. The thing is, though, he is an important member of the bloggernacle. Rock has a very unique perspective and outlook. Unlike a lot of the so called “unorthodox Mormons”, Rock truly believes Joseph Smith was a prophet and called of God. He believes in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and believes it is central to our faith. He believes in Doctrine and Covenants. He believes in the Restoration. He believes all that. It is because Rock believes all this that he writes. His blog is all about getting to the heart of Mormonism. That is found in the Scriptures and in the teachings of the Prophet Joseph.

You don’t have to agree with Rock on everything to appreciate what he has to say and I’m sure he’d gladly welcome discussion. The comments sections in Pure Mormonism are usually very active and thought provoking whether you agree with the original post or not.

Above all, Rock is a child of our Heavenly Parents, a member of the mystical Body of Christ, and he needs our help. He needs our prayers. Love him, can’t stand him, indifferent to him, pray for him.

A Home Testimony Meeting

Yesterday the city of Chicago saw the fifth largest snow storm in its history. Due to the “Super Bowl Blizzard” my bishop sent out an email saying that if we couldn’t make it to church on Sunday for Fast and Testimony Meeting (he canceled all other meetings), we could meet in each other’s homes or privately. Where priesthood was available, we had his permission to bless the Sacrament.

I stayed home and held my own little sacrament meeting and it was one of the most sacred experiences I have had in a while.

I started off with an opening hymn. Since on of the things I miss about Catholicism are the different songs played at Mass, I went with a favorite processional hymn (Catholic version of the opening hymn, the celebrant literally processes from the back of the church to the altar).

Gather Us In:

It sounds a lot like “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald

Following the opening hymn I said a short opening prayer followed by the communion hymn (again, a Catholic term). This time I went with my favorite communion song as a Catholic, “We are One Body.” The song beautifully describes how through the sacrament we become “One Body” in the Body of Christ.

When the song ended I prayed the Sacrament prayers over bread and water and took the sacrament. Taking the Sacrament was a very personal and sacred experience for me this time. I am not sure why, but I could tell what I was doing was holy and set apart and meant to not only sanctify me but to draw me closer to the Saints and to Jesus Christ who gave His body and blood for my own sake. The Sacrifice at Calvary and the Last Supper became very real in that moment. For that instant, no intellectual explanation of the Sacrament, no words spoken over General Conference (and there were multiple at the Oct 2015 conference about the Sacrament) could make the Eucharist, communion, the Sacrament as real, as meaningful, or as down to Earth as that moment on my knees in my living room.

I played one song after the Sacrament to meditate and pray with.

With every Testimony Meeting, I opened up to the Spirit so that I could bare my testimony. There was no one there to hear it, but I recorded it on my phone so that I can have the audio of it. I am not going to write down everything I said (I am planning a post on what I said shortly), but I mentioned the difference between “to know” and “to believe.” One is not greater than the other, but there are things I know for sure and things that I believe and hope for. Does it make me less of a faithful Latter-day Saint for not knowing some thing? I do not believe so. My beliefs, my hopes, things I am not sure about but still hold out for and believe as true all come from my Heavenly Parents as a gift. I live with my knowledge and with my beliefs (as well as unbelief).

Before closing with a prayer I sang two more songs. The fist is my favorite Latter-day Saint hymn, “O My Father.”

This is the original tune the song was sung to.

After that song I sung my favorite Spanish hymn, “Pescador de Hombres” (translated “Fisher of Men”).

You can listen to Saint Pope John Paul the Great sing the song here (Personally, this is my favorite version of the song). The English version of the song, “Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore”, can be found here.

After this, I gave a short closing prayer and then sang a Closing Hymn.

One final thought, I thought it was interesting that all these hymns I played (with the exception of “O My Father”) were about serving God and each other. The songs were about building up the holy and sacred Body of Christ, the invisible Church, or as I like to call it the True Church.

The Mormon Stained Glass Masquerade

Growing up if you wanted to go to church all you had to do was put on a polo shirt and a pair of nice jeans. In the parish I went to while in high school shorts and a t-shirt were acceptable. Sure, it wasn’t always that way. If you look at pictures from the pre-Vatican II Church, the faithful were always dressed up. Even the priest dressed up nicer back then!

But I’m digressing….

The point I was trying to make was that up until a year ago, I never had to worry about what I’d wear when I go to church. Now, as a Latter-day Saint, I spend the week trying to decide on a tie to wear next Sunday (I’m thinking pink).

There are some benefits to this: I’m finally learning how to tie a tie, I am getting used to having to dress professionally for once I graduate.

But there are some downsides, like if I forget to do laundry and I’m out of clean shirts, I rather not go at all than go dressed in jeans and a nice yet not professional shirt.

Can anyone see the problem with this?

Now is when you say, “But, Andy, you can come in jeans and whatever you like as long as you come!” Can I? Maybe if I come a couple times like that because of oversleeping, but if I show up in a casual button down shirt and jeans every week, there will be problems. Maybe it won’t be confrontational, but there is this understanding in LDS culture that if you’re part of the Church long enough that is how it is done.

“But, Andy, we’re supposed to come in our best possible. After all, if we go dressed up nicely for work or a date night downtown, why dress-down for Jesus?” Look, I get that. I really do. I’m a Catholic (and possibly Eastern Orthodox) at heart so I get it. And gathering together for worship before God in liturgy deserves to go nicely dressed. That’s why I think the garments and clothing for the temple ceremonies are so important. That is our high liturgy. Sacrament meeting doesn’t serve that purpose.

Icon of the pharisee and the tax collector

I have no problem with being well dressed for church, but the problem comes when the culture makes it so that it is semi-required and makes it seem as if you are somehow less faithful or less of a good Mormon if you don’t go dressed up. The Book of Mormon gives a harsh warning about this in 1 Nephi (my reading of the text suggests the great and abominable church is not the Catholic Church, but materialism).

This leads me to the video below (and the title of this post). Do we put on our own stained glass masquerade?

Every Sunday we come in our Sunday best and well groomed (well, that part may not apply to me), we try to put up this appearance as if we’re good perfect Mormons. But inside, we know we aren’t perfect. We fail. We have our struggles. But in our classes, in our sacrament meetings, do we reveal that side of us or do we put up a front? Can we, individually, one by one, start removing our own masks as a way to tell others, it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to not be perfect, it’s OK to just try?

How often do we realize that when we pass each other the sacrament in our pews that we are assisting our neighbor, our family member (isn’t that what a ward is?), be healed and work towards our goal of communion (personally, I prefer the Latin, communio) with the One who gave us life? When we pass the sacrament to each other (one of my favorite things about Mormonism), what we are really saying is, “Let me help you, let me walk with you on this journey.”

So in our classes, in our ward families, let’s remember that we are there to strengthen and walk with one another as we make our way to building Zion. It’s only by being our authentic selves and accepting others in our family that we can become that body of Christ we see in the Book of Mormon and Acts. It is only when we put aside our stained glass masquerade that we can be the body Christ wants needs us to be.

What I Learned from Fiona Givens’s AMA

Fiona with her husband, Terryl Givens (Left), and historian Richard L. Bushman (Right)

For the uninitiated, Reddit’s AMA is when a person, usually someone well known or someone very accomplished, starts a post on Reddit where anyone can ask that person anything and they will respond.

For the uninitiated, Fiona Givens is the co-author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (along with her husband, Terryl). She and Terryl have written another book, The Crucible of Doubt, which has just been released by Deseret Book and is sitting in my checkout cart on Deseret Book’s website (Amazon is sold out!). She has probably the most beautiful way of looking at issues of faith and Mormonism. Her style and approach to Mormonism constantly inspires me and wants me to seek out more. Honestly, I’ve yet to find anyone who approaches Mormonism like her and her husband. It also helps that she has the most wonderful British accent I have ever heard.

So, after keeping updated on her AMA on the r/latterdaysaints subreddit, I thought I would share a little of what I learned from one of Modern Mormonism’s greatest spiritual minds.

Love Doesn’t Make One Finite

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.20.15 PM

So, let’s start with my own question (yep, I’m apg92). Mormonism, unlike orthodox Christianity, believes in a very physical God, a God of “body, passion, and parts.” Not only that, as we read in Moses 7 and in The God Who Weeps, we have a God who weeps for His children when they fall. The God of Mormonism is a God of emotion. The problem is, if we can make God weep, can’t we control Him and hold him “hostage”? So I asked her, doesn’t this “limit God and make Him less powerful or supreme? Doesn’t he become a finite being and why should we as Latter-day Saints worship a finite being?”

She gave, what I consider, one of the best responses to this. “Love does not make one finite.” God weeps for His children because He loves them, because He cares. If He is finite because He weeps for us, then He is finite because of love. She is right, love does not make one finite. Instead, it lifts one up. Through His love, both He and the human family are lifted up. If we are exalted, it will only be because of His love.

Reason for Our Hope

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.38.01 PM

Fiona with her husband and co-author, Terryl Givens

This question, or at least part of the wording, made me think. The questioner mentioned Fiona as an “unorthodox Mormon”. That’s news to me. It could be that I am new and all, but I have learned so much from Fiona and Terryl. They have actually helped me embrace the “weirdness” and uniqueness of Mormonism. But the questioner is right. Fiona and Terryl aren’t your typical “orthodox Mormons” (a term I don’t thin should exist, but that’s for another day). Yes, they believe, but the way they articulate Mormonism isn’t the way the Sunday School manuals explain it. So I guess it applies.

Given that, how does she view missionary work? Well, she says her mission creed goes right along with Peter who said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man/woman that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” If you have ever listened to Fiona, you’ll realize that she loves Christ and recognizes that the Church is a way to get closer to Him. So for her, that reason is Christ and she finds Him in the Church. I think that is something we need to realize, the purpose of missionary work isn’t to bring people to the Church, but to bring them to Christ.

The Meat of the Gospel

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.48.14 PM

This is one of my favorite questions. We always hear the phrase “Milk before meat” but sometimes it feels like we never get to the meat. So, what does Fiona think the meat of the Gospel is? That is, “What parts really feed your soul and leave you desiring to be more?”

She gives a really short answer: “Those things we articulated in The God who Weeps.

Before you think you have to go out and buy the book to find out what she considers the meat of the Gospel, here are her five points as articulated in the book:

  1. God is a personal entity, having a heart that beats in sympathy with human hearts, feeling our joy and sorrowing over our pain.
  2. Men and women existed as spiritual beings in the presence of God before progressing to this mortal life.
  3. Adam and Eve were noble progenitors of the human family, and their fall made possible human life in this realm. Men and women are born pure and innocent, with no taint of original sin. (We find plenty on our own).
  4. God has the desire and the power to save, through his son Jesus Christ, the entire human family in a kingdom of heaven, and except for the most perversely unwilling, that will be our destiny.
  5. Heaven will principally consist in the eternal duration of those relationships that matter most to us now: spouses, children, and friends.

On Certainty and Hero Worship

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.55.53 PM

So this poster posed a great question: “What are the things you find in contemporary church culture and practice that make it hardest for people to stay in the church, apart from historical issues?”

Her response? “How do I count the ways?” Though she only addresses two, which I think are great.

The first is that there has been a “rhetoric of certainty that has come to dominate testimony meetings”. She has mentioned in earlier interviews of friends who have stood up in testimony meeting and said, “I don’t know.” She says that the scriptures state “to some it is given to know and to some it is given to believe as gifts of equal value.” Even more beautifully, she has said on previous occasions, “the only thing I am certain about is Christ.”

Her second point that she would like to do away with is hero worship. This goes with her first point and points I have already discussed. The center of the Church, and of our lives, is Christ. He should be our focal point. Therefore, our eyes and attention should be on Him and not spent giving too much praise to men. She mentioned the story of Gideon. God made sure that Gideon’s army was outnumbered so that when Gideon won the battle, the glory would be given to God, not Gideon. However, that’s not how human nature works. When Gideon’s small army defeated their enemies, the people began to praise Gideon. It’s natural to do that, though we would do well to remember the One behind the scenes.

No One (Institution) is Perfect

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.07.04 AM

One of my favorite questions, and one I was anxiously waiting a reply for when I first read it, “Is there any evidence that could come to light about LDS history or actions of the LDS Church or its leadership that would ever make you decide to leave it?”

While some may think she evaded the question, I think she did a spot on job. She mentioned how much she admires Winston Churchill and all the good he did, however, he wasn’t perfect. He authorized the firebombing of Dresdon, he wasn’t easy to get along with. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good leader. “Every person, nation, church is mired in the clay of this earth,” she said.

And probably the best line from this entire AMA, Fiona said, “My testimony is of Christ. My allegiance is to Him. He has cautioned me not to rely on the arm of flesh, so I do not.”

Honorable Mention: The fruit of the gospel of Christ is good. It’s fighting through the brambles to get to it that is the problem:)

For more of the wonderful Fiona Givens, may I recommend a Mormon Stories podcast interview she did with her husband Terryl. Part One is her life story and Part Two is a discussion on The God Who Weeps. Mormon Stories: Fiona and Terryl Givens and “The God Who Weeps”

For the complete AMA, I am Fiona Givens AMA