October 23, 2016

El Segundo Consolador

Existe ya una traducción al español de un libro que ha augurado uno de los movimientos más interesantes en el mormonismo contemporáneo. Una traducción del anuncio (que fue emitido en inglés) sigue:

Una traducción al español de The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil ya está disponible impresa y debe estar disponible en Kindle la semana venidera.

El título en español es El Segundo Consolador: Conversando con El Senor a traves del Velo

Este es el mismo libro deThe Second Comforter, traducido al español por un comité voluntario. La materia en este libro fue doctrina/enseñanza SUD aceptada cuando originalmente escrita. Desde aquel tiempo la enseñanza ha sido denunciada por la Iglesia SUD, y por tanto es importante como punto de contraste entre lo que fue enseñado durante más que un siglo y medio por la Iglesia SUD, y lo que han abandonado rápidamente apenas en la última década.

Si conoces algunos lectores de habla hispana a quienes les interesaría esta enseñanza importante, puede que querrán leer este volumen. Aunque la institución las ha quitado de su cuerpo de enseñanzas, este libro enseña verdades sobre el Evangelio de Cristo.

Si uno lee y cree las enseñanzas en el libro, puede tener consecuencias en cuanto a su membresía en la Iglesia SUD. Otro blog interesante describe una excomulgación resultando en parte por creencia en las enseñanzas que se encuentran en el libro.

A la hora de recibir la noticia de mi excomunion, despues de haber estado el consejo deliberando la decision, mi presidente me dijo lo siguiente (despues de haber dicho yo, que estaba dispuesto a reconsiderar cualquiera de mis ideas que pudieran ser rebatidas por medio de las escrituras, que si alguien me mostraba por medio de las escrituras que estaba en error, reconsideraria esa creencia):

“No queremos que te vayas hoy de aqui pensando que has ganado. Los argumentos que has presentado hoy son muy debiles y cualquiera de los miembros de este consejo podria haberlos rebatido facilmete por medio de las escrituras. Sin embargo, esa no es la cuestion. La cuestion es que que no sostienes a Thomas S. Monson como profeta, vidente, y revelador, y sigues las enseñanzas de Denver Snuffer”.

Cuando yo era joven, todavía se escuchaba en las reuniones de la Iglesia (por lo menos en el mundo de habla inglés) sobre el Segundo Consolador, el hacer firme nuestra vocación y elección, y principios similares que José Smith había enseñado. Hoy se escuchan mayormente fuera de la Iglesia, entre gente que todavía cree en la restauración, pero desea practicar el mormonismo fuera del contexto y control de la institución. Si quieres saber más sobre estas enseñanzas, el libro te puede ofrecer cosas maravillosas. Pero puede que el Señor exija el sacrificio de todas las cosas, incluyendo tu membresía en la Iglesia que amas, si quieres venir a él.

October 12, 2016

A conspiracy to suppress the Lectures on Faith?

Denver Snuffer published an interesting note on his website yesterday. (Those not familiar with Denver Snuffer should read on through the next paragraph before clicking on the link.) In his note, he suggests that the LDS Church Historian’s Office “hopes to undermine confidence in [the] Lectures on Faith and bolster the inappropriate administrative decision to delete them from LDS scripture. . . .” I would like to take a somewhat different perspective on the issue.

Some background information about the note’s author is appropriate here. From whatever perspective you take, Denver Snuffer is one of the most interesting figures in modern Mormonism. He is a former member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His testimony, speeches, and writings have been the impetus for a movement1 within Mormonism which carries the potential to upset the established understandings of roles of different groups — e.g., member vs. nonmember — within the Mormon community. In particular, Denver Snuffer and those who share his point of view are critical of the LDS Church’s2 narrative of its history, but, unlike the expected “apostate” or “anti-Mormon,” they believe in the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. A lot of Denver Snuffer’s writings and speeches are available on his website, along with links to purchase his books, but all of that is to be avoided if you are uncomfortable with materials that challenge the Church’s narrative about its history.

In his brief article, Denver Snuffer noted that the first lecture from the Lectures on Faith was placed in the appendix of The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4. (The Joseph Smith Papers is a series of publications by the LDS Church Historian’s Office with the goal of publishing complete transcripts of all documents related to Joseph Smith.) He cited the reasons given by the Historian’s Office, namely, that Joseph’s role in the production of the lectures is not certain. Brother Snuffer goes on to mention that this treatment is inconsistent with the treatment of various documents in The Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846. Specifically, the latter volume places minutes of meetings that took place after Joseph Smith’s death, and therefore are not directly related to Joseph Smith, in chronological order instead of relegating them to the appendix.

Brother Snuffer concludes:

“The disparate treatment forces the conclusion that by relegating Lecture First to an appendix and questioning the authorship, the Historian’s Office hopes to undermine confidence in Lectures on Faith and bolster the inappropriate administrative decision to delete them from LDS scripture in 1921 without approval by the body of the church. Likewise, by putting into the JS Papers project, meetings held after Joseph’s death which were presided over by Brigham Young, the Historian’s Office wishes to convey the impression of continuity and trustworthiness in the LDS institution following Joseph’s death. They want to convey the impression it was “business as usual” and nothing changed.

I don’t believe Denver Snuffer’s conclusion is necessary (that is, I disagree that the inconsistency “forces the conclusion” made by Brother Snuffer). I think that the Church Historian’s Office really suspects that the provenance of the Lectures on Faith is uncertain, and their treatment of it reflects, rather than promotes, their view. This distinction is admittedly subtle, but I consider it important because it avoids attributing a bad motive where such a motive may not exist. I don’t think the different treatment of the Council of Fifty minutes necessarily shows that bad motive; I doubt they were particularly concerned about a potential inconsistency between the two, and thought it more natural that the particular volume dealing with the minutes would go somewhat beyond the scope of the original Joseph Smith Papers project. It’s almost certain that the Church Historian’s Office subscribes to a belief in the “continuity and trustworthiness in the LDS institution following Joseph’s death.” The belief undoubtedly affected the presentation in the volume of Council of Fifty minutes. Nevertheless, to conclude that they “wished to convey the impression” goes a little too far for my comfort.

On the other hand, the Church Historian’s Office is part of the LDS Church, and no rational person would deny that the LDS Church has an agenda. It is, after all, a missionary church. I can see how Brother Snuffer or others could easily come to the conclusion that a motive to favor the Church’s narrative was behind the organization of the books’ presentation. Denver does have greater experience and insight into motives of LDS Church officials than I do, so the reader is welcome to count that against my credibility and in favor of his. On the other hand, the idea that the Church is consciously and purposely arranging the texts in order to convey a specific impression, without further supporting facts, is just too conspiratorial for me.3 If they wanted to preserve the traditional narrative intact and unsullied, it seems like not publishing the Joseph Smith Papers and continuing the branding of less-friendly historians as “anti-Mormon” would have been a more effective strategy.

This doesn’t leave out the possibility that in making the arrangements, the Church Historian’s Office was influenced by beings — false spirits are a thing in Mormon theology, after all — with the aforementioned motives. However, such things are far beyond my expertise to comment on, and I think to assume Brother Snuffer was suggesting such a thing in his comments would be to read more into what he has written than is there.

I appreciate Denver Snuffer’s insights, even when — as in this case — I’m not fully persuaded to adopt his viewpoints. I would encourage those who are comfortable doing so to review for themselves those things that he has written and determine whether or not they should be believed.


1. I use the word “movement” here deliberately. Others might say “schism,” but I see this as more analogous to a new activity springing out from an established religious tradition, which was referred to as a movement in the Book of Mormon in Alma 18:32. Unfortunately, the prevalence of far too delicate souls in the LDS community forces me to state what should be obvious: My use of the reference is not intended to extend the analogy beyond what I wrote. In particular, I’m not comparing the LDS Church to any particular aspect of King Noah beyond the fact that an established religious tradition existed in relation to him!

2. In order to preempt complaints, I note that I freely reject here and elsewhere the guidelines in the LDS Church’s style guide that I think sacrifice correctness or clarity in order to push a certain image onto the public.

3. Creepy actions like the Elder Poelman talk revisions and the formation of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee notwithstanding.

October 3, 2016

Paz y justicia

Al rechazar el acuerdo de paz entre FARC y el gobierno, Colombia tiene algo que enseñarnos. No puedo decir que los que han perdido familiares y han vivido en terror no tienen derecho de exigir una justicia que también puede llamarse “venganza”, pero puede que tal justicia viene a costo de la paz. De lo lejos es fácil ver el asunto en tales terminos; posiblemente si yo estuviera viviendo lo que están viviendo los colombianos, sería más difícil perdonar. Espero que lo podría hacer, pero decir es una cosa y hacer es otra.

Podemos enfrentar situaciones grandes y pequeñas en cuales tenemos la opción entre la paz y la venganza. Espero tener la fuerza para perdonar y así poder proclamar la paz. No quiero exigir la justicia si eso resultará en derramar sangre para pagar sangre derramada. Así se asegura que no habrá fin a la violencia.

¡Qué hermosos son, sobre los montes,
   los pies del que trae buenas nuevas;
del que proclama la paz,
   del que anuncia buenas noticias,
del que proclama la salvación,
   del que dice a Sión: «Tu Dios reina»!

– Isaías 5:27 (NVI)

September 29, 2016

Taking the nation seriously

A few people with whom I’ve spoken have expressed disappointment that, in the recent presidential debate, the candidates spent too much time hurling accusations at each other and too little time expressing substantive positions on the important issues our society faces. (At least one friend, however, expressed disappointment that the candidates didn’t get into an outright brawl; I suppose he was seeking entertainment rather than information.) We may not be able to convince Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump to cease the verbal attacks on each other, but we don’t need to follow in their footsteps.

The United States presently faces significant challenges both at home and abroad. Our foreign policy is openly challenged by Russia on many fronts, and particularly in Syria the opposition to Assad is left wondering if their interests wouldn’t be better served by seeking alliances with the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front and others instead of the United States. Even smaller countries more dependent on alliances with the United States, such as the Philippines, are becoming openly antagonistic toward their relationship with the superpower, as well as toward U.S. interests in their region. Credibility abroad is also undermined by domestic unrest at home, most clearly seen in the tense relationship between police officers and their communities as highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, but also in (perhaps less worthy) far-right movements as demonstrated by the standoffs of members and supporters of the Bundy family with the federal government. The protest against the closure of sensitive federal lands to motor vehicles led by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, which involved defiance of the federal government by riding ATVs through Recapture Canyon, provides another example, albeit a lesser-known and less noteworthy one, of problems at home.

A United States with weakened credibility abroad will be less effective in preventing terrorism or negotiating agreements to improve security or the economy. Domestic disturbance directly impacts security at home and diminishes our freedom to live out our daily lives without fear of harm from either the government or each other.

Our next president, and his or her administration, will be charged with resolving many of the issues that we face as a society. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are capable of substantial success in doing so. At the same time, we can’t expect either to do so when we ourselves don’t demand the professionalism that we ought to be able to expect from them. If we prefer to see verbal attacks of the schoolyard variety, that appears to be what we’ll get. We show that preference by engaging in the same sort of behavior on social media and elsewhere. But we can change. If we start discussing substance rather than hurling insults and accusations, we will demand, through our actions, that our candidates do the same. By taking the issues seriously, we can force the candidates to act seriously.

It’s easier to share a meme suggesting that Hillary supporters are idiots or that Trump supporters are insane racists than it is to take the time to research and think seriously about the issues at stake in the current election. By doing so, we’ve put ourselves in a situation in which we are not only ignorant of the issues our country faces, but also of the candidates’ stances on those issues, if they have any. It’s simple to post a meme suggesting that Trump is insane or that Clinton is corrupt rather than to discuss seriously — without simply dismissing one group’s concerns as irrelevant — how to heal the divide between law enforcement and certain parts of our communities, or whether the United States can and should do something about human rights violations and the continual postponing of elections in Congo. Easy answers haven’t solved the problem so far. Forcing Colin Kaepernick to stand for the national anthem won’t magically create a satisfactory relationship between people and their government. Telling protesters that their grievances are fake won’t make those grievances go away. Pretending that what happens in the Philippines is irrelevant to us will diminish our security in the long run if ISIS really is taking a serious interest in expansion in the region.

For my part, I’m not going to share messages or memes that are based around accusations or even those that rely on the worst possible interpretation of something someone said. I won’t take you seriously as long as you do so, either. I hope you’ll join me and avoid sharing the unproductive rhetoric on social media. Instead, let’s learn about what’s going on in our communities and the world at large, and let’s talk about it like adults. Let’s think seriously about why communities with which we don’t identify are unhappy and what sort of creative solutions we can come up with in hopes of satisfying as many of us as are willing to be satisfied. Let’s show our candidates that we as a nation are united in our desires for real solutions, and that we expect a degree of maturity and seriousness out of them. By not hurling insults and burning bridges, we can retain a chance of influencing whoever wins for the better. Even if we can’t change the candidates in the short term, our informed involvement in civic life can make a good president out of a bad candidate.

July 26, 2016

Ad Babyloniæ fluvios

Hodie carmen legi a Palæstino quodam nomine Abu Salma scriptum quod fecit recordarer Psalmam CXXXVII. Carminis pars in Latinam linguam versa infra invenitur:

Palestina cara, quomodo vivam procul ab planitiebus collibusque tuis?… Usque adhuc sonat ululatus…. Amici rogant: Denuo conveniemus? Redibimus post absentiam? Etiam! Pulverem osculabimur rore gemmantem. Desideriaque rubra in ore nostro. Cras redibimus dum omnem auscultat genus passum. Redibimus… cum tonitrus strepitu… cum vexillis sanguineis et gladiis hastisque micantibus.

Et hic est psalma ex interpretatione Sebastiani Castellionis:

Ad Babyloniæ fluvios sedebamus, idque plorantes, quum recordaremur Sionem, suspensis in ea regione citharis nostris ad salices. Illic enim nostræ captivitatis et ejulationis autores carmina nos lætitiamque poscebant: Canite nobis carmen aliquod Sionium. Quo pacto canamus Jovanum carmen in aliena terra? Quando te sumus obliti Hierosolyma, oblita est nostra dextra. Adhæret lingua nostra palato, nisi tui simus compotes, nisi Hierosolymam ad nostræ lætitiæ caput adhibeamus. Reminiscere Jova Idumæorum, qui die Hierosolymæ dicebant, Evertite, evertite funditus eam. O puella Babylon devastanda, felix qui tibi tua in nos merita rependet, felix qui correptos tuos infantes saxis allidet.

Carmina ambo incipiunt patriæ desiderium verbis pulcherrimis depingentes et sanguinantem finem violentumque faciunt. Unum locum, duarum gentium patria; quando pacem noveris?

July 24, 2016

De homine dubitatione carente

Mormonismus tribulationes novas patitur nam multi sunt homines qui doctrinam sequuntur sed ecclesiæ haud confidunt. Ecclesiæ Mormonæ pontifex maximus duos consultores habens est qui “vates” vel “propheta” appellatur et duodecim pontifices minores qui “apostoli” vocantur. Qui aperte dubitant veritatem eorum verborum id periculi sui faciunt nam solent excommunicari. Nuper homines multi, ut supra scripsi, doctrinam mormonam sequentes sed ecclesiæ non confidentes aut excommunicati sunt aut ecclesiam renuntiati, et videtur cotidie plures se cum eis jungunt vel saltem consentiunt.

Librum qui de Josepho Smitho Mormonismi conditore agit nuper scripsit homo quidam nomine Denverius Snuffer. Libri titulus est “Homo dubitatione carens,” et Josephum Smithum præbet ut hominem non modo ad Mormonismum verum cunctum etiam ad Christianismum pertinentem velut Sanctum Franciscum Assisiensem, Martinum Lutherum, Gulielmum Tindalum, Johannem Wesley, Johannem Knox, et Johannem Calvinum. Excommunicatus ab Ecclesia Mormona, non vult lectores ad ecclesiam trahere vel convertere; argentariam vero societatem magis quam ecclesiam appellat Ecclesiam Mormonam. Liber infeliciter nondum Latinam in linguam conversus est, nec utrum umquam convertatur scio.

July 16, 2016

Nicææ incursus et ictus in Turciam ominantur dies difficiles

Nicææ Jovis die XIV mensis Julii (vel pridie Idus Julias) tromocrates autocineto onerario in hominum multitudinem incursavit saltem LXXXIV occidens, secundum periodicum Latinum Ephemeridem. Scholæ jurisperitorum condiscipulis multis Nicææ æstate studentibus, nuntium accipere gavisus sum me certiorem facentem neque mortuum neque læsum condiscipulum ullum. Magnopere autem doleo Francogallorum aliorumque mortem.

Tromocratia diebus hodiernis periculo magno est societatibus occidentalibus, et magni momenti est auxilium Turciæ contra fœdum tromocraticum nomine ISIS. Sed heri pars Turcici exercitus conatus est depellere Turciæ præsidem et rem publicam rapere. Turciæ præses vir haud honestus est; ictus vero in civitatem melioris nationis spem haud fert.

Spero dies meliores venturos esse, sed timeo ne dies prius malos patiamur.

May 28, 2016

When the law obstructs free software

I’m interested in playing around with mesh networking a bit over the summer. I had intended to purchase one of the FSF-certified routers available from ThinkPenguin and start learning about how to modify the software that controls it. However, as of this morning they don’t appear to be available, apparently due to a change in FCC rules that is causing the few wifi router manufacturers who didn’t previously lock down their products to do so now. We are supposed to be  mindless consumers, I suppose, and not start experimenting with doing our own things. So I wrote the following to my congressman to lament the current state of affairs:

Jeremiah Stoddard
1452 Transite Avenue
San Diego, CA 92154

May 28, 2016

Rep. Juan Vargas
1605 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Vargas:

I am a long-time San Diego resident, programmer, free/libre and open source software enthusiast, and amateur radio operator. I am extremely concerned about the FCC’s new rules on the evaluation and approval of RF devices, an issue that probably flies under the radar of most.

One effect of the FCC’s rule update is that the few manufacturers of wifi routers that allowed end-users to replace the firmware are now locking down their products so that the users no longer have this freedom. Many individuals and businesses liked to replace their routers’ firmware with software such as dd-wrt, openwrt, or libreCMC in order to improve functionality and security on their networks. Additionally, amateur radio licensees have experimented with modified routers to run mesh networks in order to provide communications for government and civilian rescue workers in the event of major natural disasters or other catastrophes. Community groups such as freifunk have also used mesh networking as a way to connect local communities in a less commercialized environment than the Internet. All of these activities either are already being harmed, or will be harmed as a result of the FCC’s rule changes.

There is also the potential problem that future computers with built-in wifi adapters may now have to be manufactured in such a way as to prevent the installation and use of fully free GNU/Linux distributions.

The previous rules were quite old, but to my knowledge there hasn’t been a serious outbreak of individuals modifying their wireless devices in order to illegally hijack the airwaves. Such instances, since they are rare, would be best dealt with on an individual basis. There’s an old engineering adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” The FCC should have followed this in their rulemaking.

I hope Congress will consider stepping in and placing limits on the authority of executive agencies to create strict regulations that interfere with the lives and freedom of ordinary citizens.


Jeremiah Stoddard

(619) 757-3652


Things like freifunk (check it out, seriously!) just got a lot harder to implement; the new FCC rules are anti-consumer in that they tie us down to dependency on commercial network providers. This should greatly disturb anyone who is concerned about government-imposed corporatism, from leftists to those among the libertarian right. Please consider also making your voice heard, both on social networks and in writing to your government representatives.