7/18/17

Trump and I Alike?

Naaahhhh... LOL!! ... the closest that we’ll ever get to agreeing on something.  Either those ties are really REALLY cheap, or very VERY expensive.  I think the former; they’re cheap, and fake, mostly his... Hahahaaa...

7/17/17

Comments on an Offensive Article

There’s this article in Samoa Planet about two incidents of rape committed by members of the LDS Church in Samoa.  The article is quite vivid and graphic in its detailed depiction of the events which would nauseate and repulse any reader, let alone violate certain journalism code of ethics and standards. And perhaps distasteful and injurious - to the LDS Church - is the blatant association of the perpetrators with the Church, and especially the implicit malicious suggestion of a correlation between the culprits’ criminal behavior and the fact that they are “temple members” of the Church.  Honestly, I am irked by the article for the above reasons; and so was another reader (Nadine) who expressed her frustration in her comments.  My comments are hereby reposted along with some responses by another like-minded reader (Aleni Fuatimau). 

I agree with the concerns raised by Nadine with regards to the graphic nature of the article in both diction and content. But I also have another objection.
As someone who has been a defender and apologist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) on this website and forum, I feel that I, along with other fellow Mormons, have been ensnared if not denigrated by the article – indirectly at least – especially by its seemingly libelous drift. The striking references to the LDS Church and its practices with regards to the temple, represent a masked, if not malicious, indictment of the Church. Writ large, moreover, the article has an anti-religion tone.
I understand the probability of a flipside intention of the writers in trying to send a subtle message about the incongruous behavior of the devout and the pious who should be exemplars, and yet continue to betray and violate intimate trust relationships. The not-so-subtle, glaring and damning message, however, is the particular religious affiliation (LDS) of the two perpetrators mentioned as their main attribute and peculiarity. The underlying and implied cause and effect nuance is discernible as well. This is evident in the title and the very first sentence of the article, establishing an effective and principal impression and identity of the first culprit, and then the second one, as members of the LDS Church. This information is not necessary and irrelevant unless it directly contributes to the crimes. Therefore the approach is biased at best and witless at worst.
Here’s why such an approach lacks judgment. Doctrinally speaking, mankind is in a fallen state of sin and immorality. Ideally, therefore, the role of religion is not as an accomplice/collaborator, but as a redeemer of man from such a state. Hence, insinuating the LDS Church – or any other church for that matter – as a facilitator for the sins of its adherents means that all other churches also are accountable and responsible for the crimes of their members who are rapists and sex offenders.
The way to avoid the above ambiguity is to omit any such references and/or include a disclaiming part with regards to religious affiliation of the culprits. For this reason and for the graphic depiction and description of the nature of the offenses, I’d definitely suggest a rewrite.
Respectfully,
LV Letalu

Aleni Fuatimau
Strongly agreed.

LV Letalu
Thanks Aleni!
It is actually sad and demoralizing to see this as a pattern (in the media and elsewhere) that when a church member (of any church) does something bad, there’s almost always an overemphasis placed on the church affiliation of that person, even to the point of alleging a correlation between his specific church and his criminality; if not for advancing an institutionalized campaign for maligning and disparaging that church as an organization.
Conversely, if a church member does something positive, noteworthy and uplifting, the church affiliation is rarely, if at all, mentioned or credited. For example, I have yet to find in the many articles (positive ones) on here about Egon Keil (and others) any statements mentioning that he is a member (let alone a “temple member” I’m sure) of the LDS Church. Truly a double standard to say the least.
Also, it seems that this impropriety is applied prejudicially and targeting certain churches only.
Manuia le aso.

Aleni Fuatimau
Thank you Letalu.
I am grateful to know that there are people like you who have the courage and skills to voice these concerns with a positive and professional tone. It’s good to see that you are not doing it just for the Church (LDS) but for other churches. I hope and pray that those reporters learn a lesson from what you and other people shared/suggested to help them become more effective reporters.

Keep up the awesome work you are doing.

Manuia foi lenei aso.
LV Letalu
Thank you Fuatimau for the support and the compliments. O le tatou veloga ‘aso ma togiga ma’a faatasi lava lea; faafetai atu fo’i mo ou sao i le mata’upu.
Manuia fo’i le alo faiva i lenei aso ma le faai’uga o le vaiaso.

7/14/17

Home from His Mission

Our eldest grandson/child has returned home from his mission two weeks ago, while his brother (second eldest grandson/child) left on his a few weeks before that.  Welcome home Elder.  Congratulations!

... with some of his cousins at his arrival (airport)

... with his mom and dad

... with his mama

...with mama and papa





... with a mission companion


... with his mom
...with his mom, mama, aunts and cousins ... multi-generational (lol)

..."homecoming" Sunday

... with a few of his cousins, brothers and uncles

...with his parents and younger brothers


7/2/17

More Conversations with Anti-Mormons

An op-ed titled “The Moana Movie - and the Mormons” in the Samoa Planet website  discusses how the Mormons turned an offensive Broadway musical, which parodies The Book of Mormon, into an opportunity to spread their more positive and inspiring gospel message.  The op-ed then draws a parallel suggesting Polynesians to do the same thing with the movie Moana, namely to use the opportunity to inform and educate the critics and naysayers of the movie and Polynesia in general.  Several comments and responses by readers, including myself, are posted.  A few anti-Mormon comments, as usual, also popped up.  One of them (below) triggered the ensuing exchanges below.


Chris Peteru:
Learn from the Mormons. What a [sic] underwhelming op-ed.

LV Letalu:
Chris, unless you’re bent on being a “hater” of the Mormons, an attitude with predilections for closed-mindedness, there’s a lot you can, and should, learn from them/us. To name a few:

1. Healthy Lifestyle – cited and lauded by many doctors and health professionals.

2. Humanitarian Program – no church, if any, can match the humanitarian efforts of the Mormons who spend an average of $40 million a year to help others regardless of race color or religion.

3. Welfare Program – Unmatched. And one that has been praised by world leaders as a model program for any church, government or organization.

4. Genealogical Program/Research – Mormons are leaders in what has become a new trend for the world over. Chris, if you want to know about your genealogy information, chances are that the Mormon Church will be your main resource.

5. Community Involvement – Mormons everywhere are active and involved members of their communities in promoting goodwill and social and political responsibilities. Volunteerism is highest among Mormons wherever the Church is established.

The amazing fact, however, is that though the above are mostly temporal things, they actually are extensions of their/our doctrine.

So the phrase “learn from the Mormons” is not underwhelming but compelling!

Faafetai.


LV Letalu:
Chris:
Re: #4 Here’s an interesting article (link below) in The Atlantic about the benefits of genealogies and family trees in the medical field/profession (tracing colon cancer). And especially interesting is how the Mormons are helping in this regard with their emphasis on genealogy.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/mormon-genetic-testing/530781/?utm_source=fbb

And then this user/poster T.42 joined in with this:

T.42:
S.d.a do the same thing as Mormon church do. The difference is the theology, the Mormon church base their beliefs not on the Holy Bible but the book of Mormon which was written by a Shady character named Joseph Smith. They do not pray to the same Jesus and god of the Holy Bible that most other Christians do.
God bless.

LV Letalu:
T.42, I almost wasn’t going to dignify your remarks with a response because of the apparent lack of learning, intelligence, understanding and scholarship you have demonstrated. But then I thought that this would be a good opportunity to hopefully enlighten your mind on your fatuous comments. In other words, a learning opportunity for you. (lol)

T.42:
“S.d.a do the same thing as Mormon church do.”
LV:
I think you meant to say that S.d.a [sic] does similar – not the same – things as the LDS Church. For example, while the LDS Church does genealogy and family trees for saving ordinances (temple) for those who have died without the gospel, your church (assuming you’re SDA) does it just for record keeping and historical records.

T.42:
“…Mormon church base their beliefs not on the Holy Bible but the book of Mormon….”
LV:
Again, you shouldn’t make such a careless and ill-informed claim; it just goes to show how little you know about the LDS Church. Contrary to your inane opinion, most if not all of the LDS Church’s basic beliefs are based on Biblical references. Here are a few examples: the necessity for prophets (Amos 3:7); baptism for the dead (1 Cor 15:29); temple work/ordinances (Malachi 4:5-6); three degrees of glory (1 Cor. 15:39–41; 2 Cor. 12:2; John 14:2); baptism and conferring the holy ghost by the laying on of hands (Matt 3:16; Acts 19:2-6); the offices in the Church: prophets, apostles, teachers, patriarchs, deacons, priests, pastors, etc. (Eph 2:20; 4:11) It’s obvious that you don’t know that Jesus Christ DID organize and establish a Church when He was here in mortality. And the only church that has all the offices (blueprint) as organized by Jesus Christ in his Church, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Befittingly since it (latter) is the Restored Church of Jesus Christ.

T.42:
“… the book of Mormon which was written by a Shady character named Joseph Smith.”
LV:
Another shallow claim. Recently, the Book of Mormon was voted as the fourth most influential work in American literature (didn’t see anything by Ellen White though). Members of Congress celebrated the event, and since you’re SDA (again I assume based on your post) here’s something you might find interesting from the commemoration:

“Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black, a Seventh-day Adventist, opened Wednesday’s event about the Book of Mormon with a prayer offering thanks that the LDS Church’s most precious tome was part of the exhibit.
“We praise you that this influential book has made a transformational impact on the lives of millions,” Black said, “providing them with doctrines and instructions that have enabled them to glorify your name.”

Some have tried to duplicate or attempted to write something like the Book of Mormon, but have failed miserably and I bet you that Ellen White, if she were to try, can’t either. Amazing considering that “shady” Joseph Smith only had a very limited formal education – not even a college level one. Here are some samples of what Joseph Smith “wrote” (Book of Mormon) if you don’t believe that he translated an ancient record:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

T.42:
“[Mormons] do not pray to the same Jesus and god of the Holy Bible that most other Christians do.”
LV:
You may be right, in a sense, since we do not pray to Jesus. We pray to God the Father, in Jesus’ name. That is if you know and understand the Bible!

Cheers.

6/22/17

A few pics from family picnic ...

and bbq at the lake during Memorial Day weekend. For the last two years (in a row), we have been out of town during this weekend in May for Dearie's Purcell family reunion in St. George.  This year our lake picnic has been a nice break for us ...

snow on the mountains and still a perfect day at the beach ...only in utah



...waiting for the bbq

...yay, it's here :)




... se'i skipper kasi fo,i  lol!!

"Baywatch Utahhahahaaaaa!"






6/19/17

Samoa’s Christian State Law: The Unchristian Thing

The new amendment to Samoa’s Constitution making Christianity the national religion reeks of a double-edged sapelu (machete).  It reminds me of a Shakespearean aphorism in Macbeth about an “innocent flower but ... a serpent under it,” (puns intended) which basically means something that’s seemingly innocuous and innocent on the outside and yet has something else that is gruesome and hideously repulsive underneath.

The words “state religion” “state church” “national religion” “Christian state”, etc., today, should send shivers up the spine of any average educated and spiritually-informed person.  At the very least, the idea of a state religion flies in the face of the separation of church and state, a key tenet and fundamental of Democracy. The amendment is one of exclusivity which is hostile to every mission, goal or proper role of a modern democratic government.  It can also be a hindrance to any programs and reforms.  Though the change is religious-based, its tentacles will inevitably slither and intrude into the social, political and economic fabrics of Samoan society.

Time will reveal the possible and real fallouts of the amendment. Because of the present homogeneous composition of the country, the typical ramifications of such a daring and ostensibly discriminatory move may not be immediate.  In the long run, however, the effects and consequences will surely come, especially when the country becomes more pluralistic. The government should not be in the business of passing or enacting laws that encourage division and segregation among its citizens, at the very least on the basis of religion. While unity in/of faith has its place, diversity, in the context of today’s sectarian world, engenders tolerance, love, charity, patience, understanding, etc.

Samoa also needs to learn from history - past and contemporary.  Governments that promote and establish a national religion tend to become more authoritarian, autocratic and absolutist. They are direct results of centralized power. In turn, their citizens are more likely to become insular, intolerant and territorial and will tend to treat and consider other non-conforming members of society as infidels and/or second-class citizens.

The Samoa Christian churches, understandably, welcome and embrace the dictum, but again there’s hidden venom underneath it.  The government can actually become the proverbial camel that will slowly but surely encroach and eventually take control of the tent (or Church).  If the government can pass a law to nationalize a particular religion, what stops it from regulating that religion? The demarcation between church and state has become more indistinct and obscure as a result. The irony is that churches now think that they are rightfully and deservedly sanctioned and are given a mandate by the government and yet, at the same time, they are unknowingly ceding to the government some of their autonomy and supposed authority and independence. Therefore, churches/denominations better be ready and not be surprised when - not if - their ecclesiastical appointments, policies and practices will be infringed upon, if not dictated, by the government down the road.  The government now has a vested interest in its religion nemesis. The camel is in.

Moreover, this would likely mean that the government for its employment opportunities, as one example, can now legally state: “Must be Christian to apply”.  Though the claim is made that the amendment does not affect or compromise individual freedom of religion, it does however beg the obvious question of which one has priority. The latter seems more feigned and nominal now and therefore trivial and inconsequential.  The law presently, in essence, says, in jest at least: “You have the freedom/right to your own religion as long as you don’t impose it on us, Christians. But we, Christians, can impose ours on you.”  This notion is now more real and authoritative than before. The most alarming thing however is that the amendment now gives the government, and others, the license and legal right to discriminate based on religion. And all of that has the makings of  “Un-Christianity”.
 
And while some may argue prejudicially that Christianity, hence the country, benefit greatly from the government’s patronage and support, there will certainly be times in which rifts will occur in this arranged marriage. A perfect example of late is the issue with the government planning to get the  ministers to pay taxes, much to the indignation and displeasure of the churches and ministers/pastors.  And when push comes to shove, the ultimate arbiter will have to be the courts which will hopefully invoke the biblical separation of God’s and Caesar’s domains, or church and state respectively. But more consequential rifts are possible within and among the member churches of the Christian clique. A recent example happened in the stigmata issue where tensions arose between some churches.  And this can also give rise to the premonition involving a legal and unambiguous definition of Christianity - and/or who is Christian and who is not - considering its riotous and boisterous history.  Also, in any or all of these rifts between church and government where they may resort to arbitration, legal or otherwise, we now know who prevails - the government.

Contextually speaking, being a true Christian is shown more by deed than creed.  This is clearly the notion in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Ten Lepers where Christ extols the second-class/no-class Samaritans for being truer disciples in action over their elitist and seemingly more pious yet hypocritical counterparts. So as Samoans, let’s not keep busy professing and lauding our Christian commonality via a contrived statute, and risk compromising our entrenched values and noble deeds through alienation and marginalization of our other brothers and sisters.  In fact, aren’t we all - Christian and non-Christian alike - children of God?

The advancement and promotion of Christianity to a de jure status and acceptance, on the surface, seems innocuous, good and virtuous, supported obviously by majority will/rule.  But a fair caution is that the amendment can also, in and of itself, sow seeds of extremism, zealotry and fanaticism. In other words, even virtue, when taken to extreme, can sometimes become a vice.  Consider the roots of the so-called seven deadly sins (vices).  They all begin with simple virtues.  For example, enjoyment of a nice meal ( a virtue), when done in excess/extremity, leads to gluttony (vice).  Likewise, Christianity - or any other religion for that matter - taken to the extreme as being the only government-sanctioned religion, can promote villainous attitudes like arrogance, intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, dogmatism, sexism, racism, etc.  Simply stated, in a continuum of extremities, Christian begets Un-Christian.


And, yes, the prototypical flower of Christianity can be angelic and innocent, but still beware of that serpent hiding under it.  This should be an important and indubitable caveat.