Invitation to Celebrate “A Century of Honor”–100 Years of Scouting in the LDS Church

The following event was announced over the pulpit in church on Sunday.  I invite all scouts–old and young, members of the LDS Church as well as friends of other faiths–to join with us in celebrating the “A Century of Honor,” with music, history, and inspirational words from scouting and LDS Church leaders.

Boy scouting made a tremendous, positive impact on my life, and I look forward to serving and paying it forward to other boys who will become men through the powerful programs of the Boy Scouts of America.

Event to Celebrate 100 Years of Scouting in the Church – Church News and Events

From the article:

All Scout troops in North America are invited to participate by viewing the broadcast live at a local LDS stake center or online during or after the broadcast at Continue reading


Alma Did Judge Righteous Judgments

Some notes from my personal scripture study this morning, following Lesson 21 in Book of Mormon Class Member Study Guide, (1999), 13–14

What had Nehor been teaching the people? (See Alma 1:3–4.)

3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down bagainst the church; declaring unto the people that

  • every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and
  • they ought not to labor with their hands, but
  • that they ought to be supported by the people.

4 And he also testified unto the people that

  • all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that
  • they need not fear nor tremble, but that
  • they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for
  • the Lord had
    • created all men, and had also
    • redeemed all men; and,
  • in the end, all men should have eternal life

“Testified,” above, is an interesting word; he feigned witness to a lie.

What was the effect of his teaching? (See Alma 1:5–6.)

5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that

  • many did believe on his words, even so many that
  • they began to
    • support him and
    • give him money.

6 And

  • he began
    • to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and
    • to wear very costly apparel,
  • yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.

In short, his teaching emboldened the apostasy and watered the roots of sin.

Why do you think Nehor’s teachings were appealing to so many people?  Which of these same teachings have you heard in our day?

His teaching appealed to the natural man; without a firm testimony of the nature of God and our relationship to Him, viz. we are His children with intrinsic worth and divine potential–without a firm testimony of these truths, one stands vulnerable to feelings of decreased self worth.  In the contemporary vernacular, “you don’t feel good about yourself.”  Then, along comes a man who says, “Don’t worry about it; everything will be fine.  You will be saved.  You may feel crumy now, but just wait; God will save you.  Repent?  Oh, no, you don’t need to *do* anything; God loves you so much, He will save you with your sins.  Don’t worry; God loves you.” Subtly, the truth is woven with lying threads.  Superficially, the argument appears rational, logical.  However, upon reflection, and with the essential perspective of gospel light, the deception is revealed, and the enemy in uncovered.  If God were to save all men with their sins, would He be a just God?  If Christ did save us from our sins, if He is the means of salvation, what then of His commandment to repent?  Not alone did the prophets teach repentance, but the Master himself: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17); and “… I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13; cf. Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32); also, “…the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  The Savior Himself preached repentance.  The teachings of Nehor reject this fundamental principle of the gospel, claiming repentance is not needed, that one need do nothing, and he will be saved, for “the Lord had redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4).

I know that if a man will “keep the commandments of God [he] shall be saved” (Mosiah 12:33).  This salvation comes in and through the Savior Jesus Christ, and in no other way.  I know this because I have tasted of the sweet fruit of His forgiveness, mercy, and love.  I have felt a remission of my sins, which came only after humble repentance.  I know the holy scriptures are true, they are the word of God.  And I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Kingdom here on earth, preparatory for His return.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Communicate, Coordinate, Collaborate

Yesterday I taught a class at the Naperville Family History Conference.  I was one of about a dozen presenters.  It was thrilling to talk with local genealogy experts.  The conference held four sessions of four simultaneous tracks, or sixteen (16) classes in total.  It was organized by the Naperville Illinois Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Christine Bell did a great job as principle coordinator.

The outline of my class is publicly available online:

The conference class materials and presenter biographies are also available:

Update notifications for New FamilySearch

This suggestion was also submitted through FamilySearch feedback.

FamilySearch development team:

New FamilySearch is a wonderful, collaborative system.  When I am doing research to extend a distant family line, I am working with literally dozens of other contributors, most of whom I have never contacted.  Due to the large number of contributors working on common lines, new information is frequently added to one of my ancestors.  Unfortunately, I must visit the record for each ancestor just to check if any information has been added.  It would be great if I were notified each time information is added to certain individuals.  I suggest FamilySearch add “update notifications” to facilitate this.  Updates can be sent via RSS, email, or web-based.

For RSS updates, various feeds could be created, including:
  • One feed per person identifier
  • A single feed for “all my ancestors”
  • A feed for “all ancestors of John Doe”
  • A feed for “all descendants of Jane Doe”

I imagine that the development team will select one or some, not all of these options, to avoid giving the user too many choices.

E-mail updates would be nice, and could be sent daily, weekly, or “as it happens.”  This is a great option for users who don’t use RSS; additionally, it aggregates multiple updates into a single notification.

Web-based update notifications would be managed and listed within the (New) FamilySearch website.  This would be similar to the “Watch List” on or  Each contributor would be able to “bookmark” or “watch” any number of individuals in FamilySearch.  I envision a simple star next to the name in the lower half of the “Family Pedigree with Details” view.  Clicking the star would add the individual to the watch list.  The watch list page (or layer) could be organized two different ways:

  1. List each person on the watch list, along with the date of the most recent modification and the name of the contributor.
  2. List updates chronologically (most recent first, of course)

In’s watch list, updates can be marked as “read,” which provides a quick and easy way for contributors to remember which updates they have seen.  (Wikipedia’s watch list lacks this feature).

On a related note, it would be great if there were a unified “last updated” or “last modified” field for each individual.  Currently, the website lists a “Changed by” date for fields in the Summary view.  However, additional sources or information in the “Details” view don’t seem to be included here.  Is there currently a way to see the modification date for any information associated with an individual?

Update notifications would significantly help me to collaborate more efficiently with others in family history work.  Thank you for your dedicated efforts to improve FamilySearch.  If you have any questions about the features I have proposed, feel free to contact me; I would be happy to discuss them with you.

James F. Carroll

Magnets for Ghana

Hello all,

There is a charitable organization (Empower Playgrounds) making merry-go-rounds that generate electricity for school children in Ghana.  My sister in law, Elizabeth, was in the group of BYU students that helped build the merry-go-rounds.  I watched a video about it on BYUTV a while ago.  I was touched when the builders wanted to teach the children how the merry-go-round generated electricity, and explained that there was a magnet inside it.  The children didn’t know what a magnet was!  I thought, I have a ton of refrigerator magnets I am not using, they can have those.  I made contact with the Executive Director of Empower Playgrounds and she said they could use all I could collect.  She said it doesn’t matter if they say, “Joe’s Pizza” on them or they are a teddy bear magnet.     She said they are putting together some science kits, and could use all kinds of things.   Any toy that has a magnet inside it to make it work would would be good too.   The flashlights that work by shaking them are a good example.  I am going to take all I have collected up to their Provo office in the middle of January.  They are taking another trip to Ghana around that time and can take the magnets to the children.    If you want to donate your magnets and other things please get them to me before I go.  Thanks!

Update (5 Dec 2009):

Oh, forgot another needed thing is iron things to stick the magnets to like cookie sheets, with iron in them of course.


Sarah M. Hall
Executive Director
Empower Playgrounds
3214 N. University Ave. #501
Provo, Utah, 84604

Mobile: 801-822-2973
Web Site:

Update (4 Jan 2010):

Hello all,

I am collecting magnets for school children in Ghana.  I have already collected several.  I am taking them to Provo on Jan. 28th, so please get me your unwanted magnets before I go, or get them to Provo by then.  Please don’t go buy magnets.  Please donate the money instead.  They want to make some standard science kits which they need money for, but they can use any magnets you already have.

Thanks for helping!


Into the Wilderness: Journey Lessons for Today

Drawing on scriptural accounts and experiences from her own life, Dr. Susan Rugh taught BYU students to rely on God-given guides through our journey through life.


Travel is defined as “moving through space, across time, in a departure from normal, daily activities.”  From the Book of Mormon, Lehi leaves his home and friends in Jerusalem, leaving “his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things” (1 Ne. 2:2-4).  Lehi was totally committed to his journey.  He prepared and took his family and necessary provisions into the wilderness.

For any journey, there are three stages:

  1. Prepare for the journey
  2. Travel through the wilderness
  3. Make meaning through reflection


First, Lehi’s preparations for his journey were quick, yet wise.  He took what he needed and left what he didn’t.  He prepared to live and travel alone, through unknown paths, without a guide.  Lehi trusted in the Lord and obeyed his word.

The Journey Itself

Second, Lehi embarked on the journey.  Shortly thereafter, God provided a tool to guide them through the wilderness.  A ball, or director, was given to Lehi to “pointed the way wither [they] should go” (1 Nephi 16:10).  This director acted as a compass; however, it only functioned according to the faith and diligence of Lehi’s party.  Sadly, “They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey” (Alma 37:41).

Lehi and his family traveled for many years until they reached their final destination.  Along the way, “things went wrong”: Nephi broke his bow, his brothers tried to kill him, their ship passed through a great storm, and they suffered “much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (1 Nephi 16).

Making Meaning

Third, we can apply lessons from the scriptures and from our own experiences with wilderness journeys to better navigate our current journey into the unknown future.  Dr. Rugh quoted Alma, a descendant of Lehi, who reflected on the journey of his ancestors.  Said Alma, “For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45).


Thank you, Dr. Rugh, for your uplifting address.  It gave me great comfort and strengthened my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Revealed Science

From the New York Times:

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the first analog computer, was recovered more than a century ago in the wreckage of a ship that sank off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete. Earlier research showed that the device was probably built between 140 and 100 B.C.

Only now, applying high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography, have experts been able to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct functions of the bronze gears on the mechanism. The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument’s back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar.

Source: Workings of Ancient ‘Computer’ Deciphered, from, 31 Jul 2008

This reminds me of Nephi, who built a ship “not after the manner of men,” (1 Nephi 18:1-3).  It also reminds me of the Liahona, a mechanical device “of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 16:10) provided by God for the benefit of man.

God revealed knowledge of the earth and other planets to Moses (Moses 1:3-5,8), Abraham (Abr 3:1-14), and the Nephites (Alma 30:44).  In our day, he has revealed the locomotive motor, television, the satellite, and the Internet.

Richard G. Scott, a professional nuclear scientist and leader of my church, recently gave a talk in which he compared the scientific method with personal revelation from God.  He said:

The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration. (See Jacob 4:8.)

Source: Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions, Elder Richard G. Scott, from