Monday, December 19, 2011

The Stake YSA New Years Eve Dance

Brothers and Sisters I had a completely new Church administration experience recently that I thought we could discuss.  My 1st counselor who is assigned to young single adult matters was ill last month so I stepped in and met with the committee in charge of planning the year end dance.  I had never done this before so I brought along my manual of instructions to ensure that everything would be planned in accordance with inspired Church procedure and policy.  Feel free to follow along in the handbook at as you read my post today:

We first discussed section 13.6.2 of the manual which states that “supervision by an adequate number of responsible adults should be provided for activities for young single adults. Parents should be encouraged to help.” 
I made sure that the committee would assign two parents to carefully monitor each of the classrooms and three to check the parked cars.  Others would be strategically placed throughout the building and grounds.  I imagine our young people will be delighted to have many of their parents present for this special occasion and would be willing to bet (if betting was permitted) that the hip new 'Evolution' night club in town that has lured in quite a few YSA’s since it’s opening a couple of years back doesn’t offer an equivalent service. 

In terms of refreshments we decided to include crisps, chocolate biscuits, popcorn, cake and sprite.  An opening prayer and blessing that the food would nourish and strengthen all present would take place before the dance began.

We went on to discuss each point in section 13.6.6 of the manual which states “In all dances, the dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord can be present.”

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having the spirit of the Lord present at dances especially at the New Years Eve dance where there are so many other places the young people could be.  I received a report from a member of the ‘Strengthening the Stake Committee’ last year that a small group of YSA sisters two of whom had served full time missions, left our dance early and were later seen at one of the more unholy establishments in town dancing upon chairs and tables.  Sources confirmed that they did not have their temple garments on nor had they replaced them with other clothing.  This sort of behaviour cannot be tolerated.  When I brought them into my office the next day they seemed to have only a vague recollection of the event which goes to show that the psychologists are correct when they say that the mind often blocks out our most horrifying memories. 

I confirmed that the dress and grooming standards would be properly communicated to all attendees in advance with a note that in addition to our usual standards those wearing skinny jeans would also be sent home to change into something more appropriate.  In addition we made an important note to ensure that all nose and eye brow rings would need to be removed before entering the dance (just in case the Donegal sisters unexpectedly show up again).

In terms of lighting I had to disappoint the DJ by explaining that as per section 13.6.6 “Strobe lighting and psychedelic lighting that pulsate with the beat are not acceptable.” I shudder to think what might happen if such lighting were used on an occasion such as this.  I reminded them that this is a chapel, not a den of iniquity.

I confessed to the group that as a Stake President I often lay awake at night wondering what the Lord had in mind when he asked in the manual that “dancing styles should contribute to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord can be present.” 

Perhaps blog readers can help me with this.  Does disco dancing contribute to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord can be present, and if so, how?  How about Hip Hop dancing?  Would the spirit of the Lord be present at a dance where there is Swing dancing, or does the name itself invoke the very appearance of evil?  Should those aged 18-30 be allowed to just create their own dance styles (as was the recommendation of the other committee members) or in so doing would we run the risk of some styles not contributing to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord could be present?  Does jumping around and waving your arms in the air (as I recently saw young priesthood holder Moriancumer O'Brien do at a stake youth dance in an apparent attempt to win the attention of the sister of Jared, who seemed totally unimpressed), contribute to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord can be present?  If yes then please explain how this is so.

The other issue of course is music.  Is there such a thing as non Church/non classical music that can achieve the goal of contributing to an atmosphere where the spirit of the Lord can be present?  In years past I would tell my daughter to turn down or change the music she had blasting in her room only to hear the exact same song at a Church dance.  Surely the spirit of the Lord is offended at such things.  Now that I am finally the presiding authority and father of the stake I cannot idly stand by as we follow the ways and standards of the world all the while blatantly ignoring the counsel given by prophets in the manual.  At all costs we must ensure as per the manual that “The beat of the music does not overshadow the melody”.  To allow such songs would be to allow our young people to fall into temptations from which they may never return.

One song we discussed was called “Two Is Better than One” by a band called “Boys like Girls” and I wondered if some of the brethren might get the false impression that we were advocating a polygamous lifestyle. 

Obviously we cannot tolerate any more Rihanna songs after she *defiled the fields of the promised land whilst making her latest video in September.

Bon Jovi’s song “Bed of Roses” was discussed but the words “I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is” caused me to reflect on my own personal close and very intimate relationship with the Holy Ghost and I wasn't sure that we should be encouraging that level of intimacy amongst single people of the opposite gender.

One great thing that we ensure that will certainly not be offered at the night clubs and other parties in town is that “The volume should be low enough to allow two people…to have a conversation.”  This is important because if two people can’t even hear each other speak how on earth can they be expected to discern the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost throughout the duration of the dance?

Another good thing that will definitely help convince the young people to come to this dance rather than go elsewhere is that the manual requires the following (see section 13.6.11) “When New Years Eve falls on a Saturday (as is the case this year) dancing is discontinued at midnight.” I asked the DJ to time it such that the last dance ends precisely at midnight so as to not profane the Sabbath, and counseled that it be immediately followed by a closing prayer.

Personally I can think of no better commencement to the year 2012 for our young people.  I anticipate they will be delighted with this approach as it will enable them to get to bed as soon as possible after midnight so they can be alert and attentive for their Church meetings the next day. 

Brothers and Sisters I hope this blog post helps you to appreciate some of the important issues and dilemmas those of us in high positions of leadership and authority have to deal with.  I am deeply grateful for the Church policies and guidelines that provide inspired direction to ensure that our young single adults can attend dances where the spirit of the Lord can be felt.  This is in deep contrast to the worldly events that Satan would have them attend.  I am confident that under my direction this will be the best YSA New Years Eve dance our stake has ever seen and that it will be talked about for many generations to come. 

God bless you all, I will do another post in the new year after the holidays,

Your loving servant, 

President William Lilburn Godfrey Paternoster

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping Christmas day Holy

Dear readers I must apologize as I didn’t have time to write a blog post this week.  This probably won't be of any interest to you but for those with a few minutes to spare I will share the email I sent on Friday December 2nd to all unit leaders in my stake:

Dear Bishops/Branch Presidents,

Please read the following announcement in your respective units during sacrament meeting over the next two Sundays: 

“During this season of joy and peace the Stake Presidency would ask that we keep in mind the real purpose of Christmas which is to spend as much time as possible thinking about, worshipping and following the example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  With this in mind we are delighted to announce that unlike some stakes of Zion we will be offering the full three hour block on the Sunday of December 25th.

Local leaders are working with the stake to prepare a very special Sabbath day of worship that will include the following: 

·     Sacrament meeting talks on the topic of peace taken from the Christmas edition of the Ensign.  For this we will concentrate on the article highlighted on the Ensign’s cover page entitled *"Tithing: A Key to Peace in a Troubled World".  From this inspiring article we will learn from one faithful family how “At times it was tempting to use our tithing for bills or groceries, but we trusted in the Lord and submitted the tithing to our bishop instead" and from another family who speaking of their tithing dollars declared "That money could have gone toward medications, but we knew we would be blessed for paying our tithing."

·     Following Sacrament Meeting you will not want to miss Sunday School lesson **number 45 which will involve an important discussion on the frightening events of the latter days as foretold by John in the book of Revelation.  (Members will recall that we already had a lesson on the birth of Christ on the ***3rd Sunday of January this year).

·     With it being the fourth Sunday of the month the Priesthood and Relief Society meetings will involve a discussion on a talk given at the October General Conference.  We are pleased to announce that we have picked the ****address from our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson entitled ’Dare to Stand Alone’ for this special occasion.   

We would ask all present to please keep in mind that there are many who will not be thinking of Christ this Christmas; they will likely be at home opening gifts, cooking large meals on the Sabbath, partaking of wine and strong drink and doing all manner of things of which the Lord would not approve.  Please take the opportunity to invite these friends, neighbours and any non member family members visiting with you over the holidays to attend our three hour block of worship that they too may enjoy the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.  


The Stake Presidency”


Monday, December 5, 2011

Did the Freemasons Steal our Endowment Ceremony?

Brothers and Sisters I recently received the following letter from a man who lives in Las Vegas, which is in America:

President Paternoster,
May I first express my deepest appreciation for your blog.  The way you and the commenter's defend the Church is second to none and I want you to know that as a High Priest Group Leader I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. 
I must admit however that I have recently been struggling with my testimony due to some things I have researched about Freemasonry.  If I understand correctly soon after joining the Freemasons the prophet Joseph introduced the temple ‘endowment’ ceremony which included many symbolic elements that were, for all intents and purposes, identical to those found within Freemasonry. 

The evidence seems to indicate that Joseph took the symbols, signs, words, clothing, handshakes etc and used them in the temple endowment.  I would not be exaggerating if I were to state that I have learned more about the temple endowment and its meaning in the last two weeks of studying Freemasonry than I have in the last 46 years of attending the temple twice a week.  I had always thought of the endowment as being revealed to the prophet from the Lord rather than simply borrowed from another group of people and then partially altered.  Could you please clarify this for me?
Kenneth Dalgleish
p.s. You are welcome to post this letter on your blog, but I have noticed that those with doubts are often looked down on by the loving members of my ward and stake so would request that if you respond you please change my name to Brother Jones. 

Below is my response:
Dear Brother Jones,
Thank you for your letter and words of encouragement.  Your question is a valid one that comes up quite often.  It is important to understand that if Joseph simply took the things he had learned from Freemasonry and used them to create the endowment ceremony, then all of the endowment work that has been done for both the living and dead since the beginning of the Church would be based on plagiarism; and if that were so then all of those countless hours you have spent in the temple would have been for naught and you would have been better off spending the time with your family.  Plagiarism is a form of theft and the scriptures strongly oppose theft in any form.  Since Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God we can safely conclude that this is not how the endowment ceremony came to be.     
One must understand Brother Jones that the fullness of the gospel was originally given to Adam.  This included the temple ordinances, signs, words, clothing etc to which you referred in your letter.  As Adam passed this knowledge down through the generations it gradually became corrupted.  Nowadays we see  fragments of our temple worship in all parts of the world including within Freemasonry.  If anyone is guilty of plagiarism it is those whose ceremonies resemble ours and not the other way around. 
This is all perfectly explained in the ensign article entitled *“Why Symbols?” where it asks “Did Joseph Smith reinvent the temple by putting all the fragments—Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth—together again? No, that is not how it is done. Very few of the fragments were available in his day…..The temple is not to be derived from them, but the other way around.…That anything of such fullness, consistency, ingenuity, and perfection could have been brought forth at a single time and place—overnight, as it were—is quite adequate proof of a special dispensation." 
With this adequate proof Brother Jones you can rest assured that it is quite simply a coincidence that the coming forth of the temple ceremony occurred right after Joseph Smith became a Freemason.
May the Lord bless you and your posterity with a greater devotion to temple service,  
Your fellow servant in the Lord,
President Paternoster