Fortifying the Mountain of the Lord

Fortifying the Mountain of the Lord April 27, 2023


The great temple in Salt Lake City.
This is the Salt Lake Temple as it looked a few years ago and as it will look again in a few years.  Internal changes, however, will be profoundly significant.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Here are links to three items that have recently been posted on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:


Conference Talks:  “The Day of Atonement, the Mosaic Temple, and the Christian Sacrament of Communion: Links and Symbols”

This presentation was given by Shon D. Hopkin at the Interpreter Foundation’s 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference, on Saturday, 25 October 2014.


The New Testament in Context Lesson 19:  “Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost”: Luke 12–17 and John 11

In the 9 April 2023 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, Terry Hutchinson and John Gee and Kevin Christensen discussed New Testament lesson 19, “Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost,” covering Luke 12–17 and John 11.

The other segments of the 9 April 2023 radio show can be accessed at  You will be delighted to know that the Interpreter Radio Show can be heard live on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  You can also listen to it live on the Internet at


Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps:  Lesson 19, May 1 — 7:  Luke 12–17; John 11“Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost”

Once again, as he regularly does, Jonn Claybaugh provides a set of concise notes for Interpreter readers who are students and teachers of the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


From another front:  On Tuesday, my wife and I had our first script meeting with our core group of filmmakers for the Six Days in August project.  It’s exciting to see things beginning to get underway.  I still have a fairly steep fundraising hill to climb, though.  And I hate asking people for money.


Temple Square and Conference Center, Salt Lake City
An aerial view of Temple Square — including the Temple itself and the Tabernacle — and the Conference Center   (LDS Media Library)


I had the opportunity yesterday morning of joining with a group at the headquarters of the Temple Square renovation project in Salt Lake City.  We were given a presentation about the effort by one of its leaders and, afterwards, we walked over to the site itself.  It’s a huge, complex, and ambitious undertaking.  Very impressive.  In fact, I didn’t know how big it is; I don’t think I remembered that even the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is also wholly or partially shut down.  But I can’t wait until it’s finished.  We’ve been without the Salt Lake Temple for too long already.

This has special personal meaning for us.  We were married in the Salt Lake Temple.  Even back then, when there were far fewer temples than there are now, I had other favorites that I, at least, personally considered — Oakland and Manti and Cardston, for instance — but none of our families lived near them and, excepting Cardston, none of them had any particular connection to our families.  Los Angeles was a possibility, but, given that our families were centered in the Denver and Los Angeles and Salt Lake City areas, the Salt Lake Temple was centrally located.  And, given its history and its iconic importance, the decision turned out to be really easy for us.  My wife’s grandparents could be there, for one thing.  The drawback was that the Salt Lake Temple is a very busy wedding venue in the summer, and that we didn’t know the temple officiator who performed our sealing.  (I’ve sometimes envied people who had a father or uncle or grandfather or even a family-friend member of the Twelve officiate at their marriage.). But then, we didn’t have any such connections anywhere.

I’m impressed by President Russell M. Nelson’s willingness to launch this project, knowing, at his age — he is currently in his ninety-ninth year — that it’s very possible that he will never again in this life be able to enter a dedicated Salt Lake Temple for meetings of the Brethren or for his own personal temple service and temple worship.  I hope, though, that he will.  He’s in remarkably good health.  But the anticipated completion date for the Salt Lake Temple’s renovation is now 2026.  And, if you’re already ninety-eight years old, that’s a very long way off.


The former Hotel Utah
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, adjacent to Temple Square, was originally built as the Hotel Utah.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Today, as a theme for what I’m sharing from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™, I’ve chosen to focus on a trio of horrific ways in which following the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints blights human lives and damages society:

“Pornography use at any level harms romantic relationships, says new BYU study”

“Perspective: The surprising case for marrying young: For many, getting married as a 20-something is no obstacle to fun, professional success or a stable marriage”

“Too Risky to Wed in Your 20s? Not if You Avoid Cohabiting First: Research shows that marrying young without ever having lived together with a partner makes for some of the lowest divorce rates”

“Perspective: Cohabitation doesn’t help your odds of marital success: As Taylor Swift and ‘lover’ Joe Alwyn learned, in most cases, living together hurts your odds”

“Perspective: Is my faith ‘terrible for women’? Not if you believe the data: As a scholar and woman of faith, I know the good that religion offers”

But I don’t want to neglect these three atrocities, which were found in the vicinity of the Hitchens File.  They clearly illustrate the nature of the theocratic hellscape that is Utah — where (coincidence?) the Church has its headquarters:

“Opinion: For the 16th time, Utah’s economic outlook tops the nation: Why is Utah the best? It comes down to preparation”

“Opinion: Why Utah’s 16-year winning streak is no accident: Economic prosperity doesn’t come by accident. It requires sound public policies that go beyond merely being business-friendly”

“Here’s why a new study says Utah is ready to host another successful Olympics: Demographic, social, environmental factors favorably position the state, U. policy institute concludes”



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