Here are two stories that I thought were interesting discussion topics.

MacNeil Murder UpdateBREAKING NEWS: MacNeil found guilty early Saturday morning on all counts first degree murder and obstruction of Justice. Pretty much guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Yesterday (Nov 7), the prosecution and defense rested their case. The last witnesses called by the prosecution were 4 prisoners testifying about things Martin MacNeil told them about killing his wife while he was in prison. Of course, the focus was on the fact they are convicted or accused criminals and so, who can really believe them. But the same can be said for MacNeil, a proven liar and convicted criminal himself.  In one case, he told the prisoner exactly how he did it, which lines up with the evidence and chain of events. The main problem with the case is the bulk of the evidence is circumstantial, not direct and the medical examiners have not ruled the case a homicide, but suspicious.  Any lawyer will tell you that circumstantial evidence is the same as direct evidence in consideration of the charges and guilt, but it is a bit different in the minds of the jury, who have to put the puzzles pieces together in the end.

The very last witness for the state was the return of the mistress, Gypsy Willis.  Her claim has been that she and MacNeil actually broke up after a couple of years (while both were in prison), but the prosecutor showed her letters from each one that proved otherwise.  She has since moved on from MacNeil and is in another relationship.

However, the real kicker for me was that HLN reported that Gypsy wrote a request for sealing cancellation (I guess that means she is LDS and previously married in the Temple) so that she could marry Martin MacNeil in the Temple.  In the brief excerpt, they read she stated that Martin was the eternal companion she has been waiting for…. But, I guess, a Temple marriage might not be possible as he is an adulterer, convicted felon and possible murderer and may no longer be a member of the Church.

The defense put on a brief case calling four witnesses. Two were co-workers that testified on his whereabouts and alibi, and one was a probation officer of one of the prisoners who testified. Her testimony actually was stopped because she had limited contact with the prisoner she was testifying about.  The final witness was an ergonomics expert called to testify why MacNeil might not have been able to get his wife out of the bathtub.

Closing arguments begin today. (Nov 8)

 

Pope Francis calls for mercy, not rules –  The world is enthralled with the new Pope, Francis and he continues to make headlines almost each day with his seemingly new approach to his Church.  One thing that really caught my attention was this quote:

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” he lamented. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

Now, I do not think the Catholic Church is likely to change it position on key issues like abortion, contraception, gay marriage in the near future but he is speaking to the focus on those issues and not on the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I think this can apply to the LDS Church as well.  My own impression is that General Leaders focus less on rules and more on our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  However, the rules, which are enforced at the local level, are emphasized more at this level.  I suspect this is either an attempt by local leaders to conform to Church policies or because, in private meetings with General and Area Leadership (which happens quite often), they are instructed to do so. Or, they think they are instructed that way.

On the other hand, with as much as two thirds of the Church not active, there is no organized effort to seek out those who are “not following the rules” and take any ecclesiastical action against them.  We focus on those that are active and, hopefully lovingly minister to those who may wish to come back.

It is always my hope, along with the message of the Pope, that “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ….” (2 Nephi25:26) in hopes of becoming a more loving people, more charitable and merciful toward others.

What do you think?