Someone close to me asked me to read the letters from Doctor Lowry Nelson from 1947 to a mission president and he copied the LDS Prophets. He was being asked for his opinion on whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should send missionaries into Cuba. The subject of race came up and letters were exchanged. Doctor Lowry was not only educated but he had world experience with many cultures, he loved many different people and races.
This individual may feel that God should reveal more to the prophets and apostles or that they should have more knowledge and truth than normal men and I can´t say that I disagree with that person and I do believe that the Apostles are very special men being called as special witnesses of Christ in these latter days. I read the conflicts of the apostles in the Bible and hear of conflicts even now and it does not make me feel like they don´t merit being apostles, on the contrary it makes me feel like there is hope for me to attain the celestial kingdom.
My mother worked with President Monson when he was in his twenties and she has stories of working with him. A few years ago my brother Dave was waiting for a haircut in a small Bountiful shop and President Thomas Monson walked in and they were able to spend over thirty minutes talking. My brother told president Monson, over fifty years ago you worked with my Mother Marilyn Love in the old Deseret Book Bindery and President Monson without even any hesitation said, before she married your Dad her name was Marilyn Gordon. He is truly an incredible man.
I have had the chance to shake some of the Apostles hands and on one occasion I got to play at a concert in the old Hotel Utah where the Joseph Smith building now stands. My close friend has shared several personal experiences with the prophets when he worked in Church security and it only confirms that they are special witnesses of Christ in these latter days.
I won´t try to justify the attitude of the church leaders at that time in 1947 and even quite a few years later although I will try to look at the situation from all sides. I respect the offices of the priesthood and marvel at how the Lord does his work through imperfect men here on earth. The Prophets are men, they are wonderful, service oriented men that dedicate their entire lives in the service of the Lord. The Lord does not make us change, it is a process.
The pervasive attitudes were just beginning to change and as I grew up in the 60s I still remember the derogatory things my father said about African American people. Interestingly enough we had some wonderful neighbors that helped me understand that race did not matter but feelings and people matter. You will find good people in any culture group in the world and you will also find people that are not so good in any group of people in the world.
In about 1969 Connie Kelly and I were in a small wading pool with our legs up on the side and I said ¨mom, why does Connie have a better tan than I do. When I was five years old I had not learned what race was yet although as I grew I learned more about life and people´s attitudes.
At a recent Bishop´s training last week an African American Bishop, well, actually a Black Bishop from the Caribbean gave the training and I have admired this man for quite some time. To hear his advice and testimony is an amazing thing compared to how things were just a few years ago. This wonderful man is now a Priesthood leader to many white people in this area and he loves everyone in his ward and serves with pleasure and diligence.
I was in the Canyon with my mother, sister and Jana Triniman in 1978 when the announcement came over the radio conference address letting us know that every worthy male member of the church would now be able to hold the priesthood. We were all so happy and excited. I remember that day very well. When we got home my Dad said he heard about the Church announcement and he said the only thing he liked about the Church was that it did not give the Priesthood to the blacks. My Dad was a good man although he still held on to old ideas and old ways of thinking. Many men and women actually believed that black people were inferior and this way of thought was throughout the US. It was not just Mormons that had these thoughts and beliefs although Mormons did try to find doctrinal reasons as to why they believed this was the case.
It is true the Joseph Smith ordained the first black Elder in the LDS Church. His name was Elijah Able. After Brigham Young took over the practice of ordaining Black men was stopped. Many reasons were given although none of them were recognized as actual doctrine. If you have not seen ¨No one knows my story¨ which includes stories of several black members of the Church I would recommend that you look it up and watch it.
I imagine how it must have been years ago being a leader in the Church, I try to understand how giving a black man the authority back then must have been frustrating for them to magnify their callings when peoples attitudes were what they were. Recently a man in my Stake said, my wife and I want to move out of the area because the Mexicans are ruining it here. After he said that I thought to myself, I hope you do move because the area might become a bit better when people like you are gone. This man is basically a good man with ingrained attitudes that have stayed with him throughout the years.
I am not saying that some of these types of attitudes don´t have some valid points behind them when it comes to crime statistics and such but the majority of Mexican families that I interact with are wonderful people, hardworking people and loving people. This month I will marry couple number 14 and my heart is becoming hispanic and the old saying that says you are what you eat means I am becoming Hispanic from the inside out.
I have read though so much anti Mormon doctrine and I used to write about it and I ceased doing so because I felt that I needed to channel my energy into uplifting things that would make me better and help others. Very few people want to actually read the 40 page essays that BYU professors have written on Polygamy or Blacks in the Priesthood much less my personal blogs about doctrine. For years I attended the FAIR conferences and paid for two day training sessions that went over many anti mormon questions and answers including things like DNA and the Book of Mormon people etc…
Doctor Lowry seemed to be a very loving and understanding man and when you read the letters the perception of the Church leaders being very closed is what people see. The Church leaders have grown and changed over the years and adapted to many changes including interracial marriage. When I was in high school I read a book that really helped open my eyes ¨Five Smooth Stones¨ by Anne Fairbairn. I may have spelled her name wrong but the book was a love story between a black man and a white girl. Many times we live our lives in what seems like a bubble. When we reach outside of the bubble and we begin to learn more about the world we grow and open our world view.
In 1979 I had the opportunity to go to Europe for a month in a Band and I was able to meet many new people and visit 8 countries and even Chicago and New York which were like new countries to me. When I went though basic training 2 years later in Alabama I was exposed to many more people with good and bad influences and I was able to open my mind even more.
I used to feel like I needed to defend the LDS Church, on my mission I learned how to look up scriptures and I was quite good at debating although I quickly learned that arguing did not help matters and most of the time the spirit would depart and I would be left alone so I stopped arguing and spent time explaining to people that really wanted to listen. Some Elders would used the canned response that all they needed to do was to pray about the Book of Mormon and if it was true then everything else was true. I look at that answer as a cop out so I did encourage them to pray although I would also spend time researching answers for people.
You see when someone reads something against the Church and they want to believe it, you are not going to convince them with facts and scripture quotes. Logic is not always the best tool. Many times we need to rely on the spirit. I have had so many profound spiritual experiences I could never deny the hand the Lord in this gospel. I have two family members that are ordained ministers of other faiths.
One spends much of his time and energy preaching against the Mormon Church while the other spend most of his time preaching about Jesus. The difference in their lives is very distinct. The one that spends his time on the negative is always complaining and has had a very difficult time in his family while the other is much more happy and teaches of Christ and gives testimony of Jesus at all times.
More than half of my family is Catholic and I have attended many meetings in many different Churches and I appreciate all of them and respect them.
I look at the doctrines of the Church, the experiences I have had with leadership and the leaders of the church, the spiritual experiences I have had in my life, the changes that have been happening and the issues of Gay Marriage, Blacks in the Priesthood, Science and the gospel and I still have a strong testimony. I still wish to remain a member, I still have a desire to continue paying tithing and supporting the work of the Lord. I currently serve as a Branch President and I love the people and I see the positive changes that can come to individuals and families when they join the Church for the right reasons.
Someone recently said to me….. how can you have read so much and learned so much about the church, be such an intelligent individual and still believe that the Church is true.
This individual believes that Mormons have all been fooled into thinking that the church is true and they are ignoring many blatant problems in the Church. He feels that people are wasting their lives with false doctrines.
It is very difficult to argue with faith since faith is such a personal thing. It would simplify my life if I were to quit the church, my old boss said I would get Sundays off and receive a ten percent raise. We laughed about this although when I analyze what the Church and what the gospel has done in my life I see the very positive power it has had in my life.
So I will be doing a few blogs about the Church which I will call One Question At A Time. With our youth, we need to keep it short and simple when we want them to spend time learning something or we loose them. Most people won´t take the time to read a blog this long so is it wasted time writing is the question. I love to write, I love to think thing through so for me it is not a waste.
I believe God does live, I can tell you that he loves each one of us. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he did live on earth over 2000 years ago but he was killed and came back to life. He suffered for our sins that we might be forgiven when we accept him and strive to do what he has taught us. Jesus actually visited people in the americans after his resurrection and this is recorded in the Book of Mormon. When I regularly read the Book of Mormon my life seems to work out better, I gain answers, I am more patient and loving and it really has had a positive influence on my life.
I have friends that have left the Church because they no longer believe, they have left a life where service was paramount and now they do a have void. I suppose some people leave the church and do very positive things in their lives although I have seen many people that leave and turn bitter spending endless hours trying to convince others of the errors of the Church which ends up bringing much negativity into their lives.
I don´t believe the Catholic Church is the only true church although I don´t waste my time trying to convince my catholic family members and friends that they are wrong. I knew the Catholic Bishop of Utah before they transferred Bishop Wester and I admired him. I have 15 journals that are a mixture of doctrine, notes, spanish notes, goals and ramblings that I really should put on these blogs because I fear they will eventually get thrown into the trash. Things are becoming less and less important to me in my life now. I suppose it may have something to do with my age and experience.
I love my family and I hope and wish the very best for them and i love my fellowmen and also wish the best for them as well. I have been so very lucky to be involved in wonderful organizations and currently I serve as the Deputy Director of Utah LULAC and appreciate the opportunities that has bought into my life.
One question at a time.
Larry G. Love