But for now, the search for the great Latter-Day Saint musical continues.
The closest to ever be achieved was by Lex de Azevedo and Doug Stewart’s ‘Saturday’s Warrior,’ which bounces from the sublime to the sentimental to the painfully cheesy and back again. Despite containing nuggets of musical and thematic triumph, it makes for a lopsided package with a pointlessly tangled set of narrative threads. Azevedo’s other successful Latter-Day Saint musical, ‘My Turn on Earth,’ is cut from the same uneven cloth, juxtaposing lines like “the most precious gift we have been given next to life itself is the power to direct that life” with lines like “John, you’re not really Satan, we’re just pretending!”
BYU Professor of Theatre George D. Nelson’s new ‘1820: The Musical’ is more consistent and less likely to cause the audience to cringe, but like ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ and ‘My Turn on Earth,’ it’s a musical with great songs and moments and yet fails to be a great musical. The songs, written by a team including Kendra Lowe Holt, Kayliann Lowe Juarez, and Doug Lowe, depict various vignettes from the life of the prophet Joseph Smith and Emma Smith and often succeed in capturing the emotions of moments in the story. Nelson’s book, however, is unable to make a plot out of these moments (despite the book being written before the musical, according to Nelson).
In our Reactionary age, it seems that all criticism is interpreted as hate. ‘1820’ could be a great musical, but the problems that will hold the musical back from wider success are downstream from the key issue that it has no plot. To say that ‘1820’ has no plot is not necessarily synonymous with saying that I hate the musical. Lots of things happen in ‘1820,’ some of them in good scenes, but they aren’t connected by cause and effect. ‘1820’ is a series of scenes about the prophet’s life, ordered only by chronology with no sense of storytelling or thematic purpose.
This lack of purpose is what makes some choices in the production itself so baffling. For example, the choreography by BYU contemporary dance instructor Adam Dyer features elaborate group numbers on the “showstopper” songs, but for most of the production has the extras doing a lot of dopey crawling around on the floor and creeping around the set in faux slow motion before pushing and pulling the principals around for no discernible reason. Outside the carefully rehearsed big dance numbers, the dancing extras convey amateurishness in their very movements.
‘1820’ is compared to ‘Hamilton’ in its marketing materials, which explains the otherwise bizarre use of a minimalist set and effects alongside more elaborate lighting effects. ‘1820’ also imitates ‘Hamilton’ in its use of race-reversed casting, and Conlon Bonner delivers an emotionally compelling performance as Hyrum Smith. Musically, I won’t hold the comparison to ‘Hamilton’ against ‘1820,’ which fortunately includes only one big rap sequence, a vaguely 80s-style number that could be mistaken for the work of Will Smith, or maybe MC Skat Kat.
The highlight of the cast is Zach Wilson in the role of Joseph Smith, a triple threat who commands each scene dramatically, has the best male singing voice on that stage, and dances with rhythm and dexterity across multiple genres and styles. The songs are generally similar to those in ‘The Greatest Showman,’ catchy pop tunes with simple lyrics that summarize the basic emotional beats of their scene. Individually, many of them succeed quite well.
‘1820’ just completed a six-week opening engagement at the Covey Center in Provo, opening with a blitz of advertising and attempts to gain a following through Latter-Day Saint “influencers.” The producers say they have an eye on bringing the production all the way to Broadway, but in its current state, it’s not ready for New York. Catchy songs alone won’t make it anywhere without a really big name attached.
‘Hadestown,’ last year’s Tony winner, took a fifteen-year trip through workshops, previews, local productions, and even a concept album before becoming Broadway’s big hit of 2019. If ‘1820’ is to continue along a similar path, it needs serious improvements before we see a better version on a regional tour. Nelson has suggested that ‘1820’ was written in part as a response to ‘Book of Mormon.’ I would suggest then, that in future performances when the cast sings the closing number “I’m Still Here,” the cast holds up copies of the Book of Mormon to accompany their defiance of those who condemn and ridicule the prophet and the faith, both past and present.
The soundtrack recording, released in advance of the stage debut of the musical, stands on its own and could become a niche favorite independently of the stage production. It’s available on Spotify, YouTube, and other streaming services. Start with “Who is This Man?,” “Alive in Christ,” “All About Timing,” and “I’m Still Here.”
A Response to Helena Kleinlein’s Presentation “Feast or Famine? The Coming Food Shortages”
(Note: This post is responding to a presentation which is available at YouTube via the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu1uU5cL1D0&t=601s. I’ve included timestamps in brackets [ ] to indicate which area in the video my subsequent paragraphs are referring to. I’ve included sources as links in parenthesis at the end of paragraphs to make it simple for the reader to check the sources independently.)
I have to preface this article by saying that I am not arguing against preparedness, any more than someone arguing against the need for living in constant dread of being struck by lightning is therefore arguing against the need for health and life insurance. I believe that the modern and ancient revelations warn us to be prepared spiritually and temporally for a wide range of potential disasters and that most of us, including myself, could and should do better in that regard. But Helena Kleinlien’s presentation uses preparedness as a jumping-off point for spreading all kinds of falsehoods. It goes from beautiful scriptures like Isaiah 41:13 to malicious accusations and blatantly dishonest pseudoscience.
To be clear, I do not think Kleinlein is being deliberately dishonest, I think she is uncritically repeating any and every argument on the internet that she thinks supports her conclusion. Her conclusion that we should have food storage as part of our emergency preparedness measures is correct, but in in her zeal to demonstrate the need for preparedness she departs from the words of the prophets and turns to the words of internet hoaxers about ten minutes into the presentation. This is what I’ll be arguing against, and hopefully in doing so I can cut away all the nonsense and untrue conspiracy theories while leaving the core of truth intact.
[10:00] I hate having to start with climate because I feel like it’s a topic most of us, including myself, have gotten bored with. But it’s important to bear with me, because this is the point at which either Kleinlein or her source begins to get tricky. Based on what she says and on that citation at the bottom of those two slides, NASA appears to be saying that we are heading into a “grand solar minimum.” They actually say the exact opposite. Scientists, including those at NASA, were telling us we’re moving into another solar minimum, but not into another “grand solar minimum,” which are two different things. The solar minimum is the lowest point the sun’s 11-year cycle. The solar minimum they said was coming has now occurred, taking place in 2020 and into 2021, which may partially explain some of the unusually cold weather in certain areas last winter. (https://climate.nasa.gov/blog/2953/there-is-no-impending-mini-ice-age/)
The “grand solar minimum” is not as predictable as the typical solar minimum. This chart from NASA gives a good idea of what a grand solar minimum is vs. a regular solar minimum caused by the sun’s cycle. The low points that happened every 11 years are just solar minimums, while the minimum that remained low for about 50 years back in the 17th century is the grand solar minimum, or “Maunder Minimum.” It also helps to look at the scale: the low point of the grand solar minimum in the 17th century and the known highest maximum in the 1960s have only a 0.17% difference in total solar iridescence between the two. Looking at this data, there’s nothing to suggest we’re headed for something like the previous grand solar minimum. That small uptick at the end of one of the dips is where we’re currently at right now. (https://climate.nasa.gov/internal_resources/1994/)
The quote that the “grand solar minimum will have much more impact on the environment than anything we puny humans can do” is not from a scientist, it’s from a political opinion blog. This, of course, does not mean that it can’t be true, but it does mean we need some kind of data or model to back it up, something that American Thinker doesn’t provide. NASA’s GISS General Circulation Model predicts that if we enter a new grand solar minimum in this century it will decrease the Earth’s average surface temperature by about 0.3 degrees Celsius, not taking into account possible warming due to atmospheric effects. All else being equal, this would take global average temperature back to its 1990s level, not into a catastrophic freeze. (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20020049982/downloads/20020049982.pdf)
[12:15] We are in a drought in 2021, particularly in the southwest US, and some of that is probably attributable to the solar minimum (but not the grand solar minimum, which hasn’t happened yet and may not happen at all any time soon). But decreased solar iridescence can cause a decrease in condensation, which leads to a decrease in later precipitation. There are probably other causes as well, and as with most crises, government mismanagement is usually finding a way to make things worse. But if it is due to this current solar minimum, we can expect conditions to improve next year as solar activity increases, just as thousands of other severe droughts throughout history eventually came to an end.
[13:35] The locusts in East Africa were a problem last year, and are continuing to be so into this year, but it’s a complete lie that they have destroyed “almost 100% of crops in East Africa.” Based on data from Ethiopia and Sudan, the two largest countries in East Africa, cereal production went down in Ethiopia just 4.6% from 2019 to 2020, while cereal production actually went up by 11.8% in Sudan from 2019 to 2020. But there is a reason we’re seeing these locust plagues in the least agriculturally advanced countries in the world: they have less access to pesticides. This has, undoubtedly, affected certain farmers far more than others, and those most affected should be in our prayers. (http://www.fao.org/giews/countrybrief/country.jsp?code=eth) (http://www.fao.org/giews/countrybrief/country.jsp?code=sdn)
Kleinlein says that “Experts believe bees are dying for two main reasons… Bee killing pesticides, neonics and The proliferation of GMO plants.” This is simply not true. The primary killer of bees is the invasive parasitic varroa mite. Bee nutrition is a problem as well, but not due to GMO plants, which provide the same, or in some cases more, nutrition than conventional plants. The primary reason for bee malnutrition is monoculture, which means a smaller variety of nearby crops for bees to harvest nutrition from. Pesticides only accounted for 6.1% of colony stressors in April-June 2020, the most recent quarter for which data is available, while pests and parasites accounted for 54.4%. (https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/rn301137d/nc5819380/t148g6070/hcny0820.pdf)
Of course, planting flowers or vegetables is good for honeybee nutrition, but there’s no reason they should be from heirloom seeds. If you’re interested in beekeeping as a hobby and/or to help the bee population, that’s great! It sounds both interesting and beneficial for your family and your community. But you should do the research and get the proper equipment, as just keeping a bee house is your yard is likely to attract wasps or hornets, which actually prey on honeybees.
[16:55] Kleinlein doesn’t provide a source for the claim about cocoa supplies, but all the sources I found say the opposite. The International Cocoa Organization “estimated the 2020/21 world cocoa surplus at 165 thousand tonnes, up from a previous forecast of 102 thousand tonnes.” This is corroborated by the predictions in the futures market, as a continuous contract is down 9.47% YTD (look up the symbol CC00 on any financial database for the most current price). (http://www.foresightcsi.com/files/Cocoa%20Monthly%20Report.pdf)
[17:25] On the “Global Food Supply” slide, Kleinlein’s source (the Reuters article) doesn’t remotely say what she claims. I even checked the Internet Archive to make sure that the page hasn’t somehow been changed and it hasn’t. Seriously, just look at her source on this one. I don’t think she did. It doesn’t actually mention Brazil or China, but it does say the opposite of what she claims regarding Ukrainian food exports. Only Russia, according to her source, was proposing limiting their grain exports, but they are not “refusing to allow the world market to draw their crops” as Kleinlein claims. (https://web.archive.org/web/20200329052817/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-trade-food-factbox-idUSKBN21D2TU)
As the largest country in the world with an economy that largely focuses on exports of manufactured goods, China is naturally a large food importer, the second largest in the world after the US. But they are also an exporter of foods, primarily of vegetables, and that has not changed as a result of the pandemic. Contrary to what Kleinlein says about China “not exporting food at all,” Chinese food exports actually increased in 2020 and are on track to increase again in 2021. (https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/agrifood-exports-of-china.html)
[18:40] It’s correct that there’s no nationalized food stockpile (though there are various food reserves held by FEMA, the DoD, and the National Guard), but the Church has never told us that we should expect the government to take care of our food in times of feast or famine. Food storage is a family responsibility, to be supplemented by the community via the Bishops as necessary. Even outside the Church, any free people should consider food to be the responsibility of each family, with neighbors and charitable organizations like the Red Cross there to help those in emergency need. But emergency preparedness was never the purpose of the Commodity Credit Corporation Inventory (the so-called “emergency food pantry”). The CCC was created by Roosevelt as part of the New Deal to buy and sell agricultural products to raise or lower prices. Like the Federal Reserve, it’s not an emergency reserve, it’s a tool for the Feds to fix prices based on their political concerns.
[18:55] It is a bad year for spring wheat and a lot of other crops because of the drought. But Kleinlein misreads this graph, as the purple line on the bottom is the 2017 spring wheat season. 2021 is just that blue dot on the left, because the 2021 spring wheat season just began. This chart measures growing conditions, not harvest yields, and the states where spring wheat is grown are all in Severe (D2) to Exceptional (D4) drought conditions this year. 2017 was also a drought year in the Northwest, which is why we see a low line that year, too. (https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/)
Even in a drought year, growing conditions vary by crop and region, as they do every year, which is why we prepare for droughts with crop insurance to mitigate financial risk among our farmers, a network of imports from other regions to keep food available, and personal food storage as a last resort or just to help insure against price increases and panic buying.
[20:45] There are a lot of potentially disastrous government schemes to combat climate change, though the adoption of alternative meat/protein sources is not a threat to our food supply. If “lab grown meat” becomes the norm it will mean an additional potential food source that isn’t reliant on large amounts of land or at risk to diseases and pests. It’s unlikely these will be adopted anytime soon as the developing world is still reliant on meat. But if the political left attempts to ban or impose a sin tax against meat, which they might try in five to fifteen years, anyone with an inclination toward liberty should fight against it.
[26:00] Yes, you should grow what your family likes to eat. But the only way to control the nutrients in the soil is chemistry. And modern farmers use chemistry to measure the levels of nutrients in their soil and use fertilizers to supplement nutrient levels when needed.
[27:30] The most serious threats to human life and prosperity come from the government. The most serious famines of the 20th century were not caused by natural factors, but by the Stalinist and Maoist regimes. Even in the US, the Supreme Court has ruled in Wickard v Filburn (1941) that Congress can ban or limit certain farmers from growing their own crops to feed their own animals.
The Holodomor was a government-imposed famine created by the Stalinist Soviet regime against the citizens of Ukraine. Food was seized as a part of the communist collectivization efforts, leading to the deaths of around four million Ukrainians and five million others under the Soviet thumb in 1932 and 1933. The Ukrainians who had stored food were called “Kulaks,” and often deported or killed by the Stalinist enforcers. That’s why I advocate including a few rifles as part of any preparedness plan. The mindset of collectivization and the tearing-down of those perceived as “hoarders” is an inherent part of socialist thinking, which is why we should always be on guard against this mindset. These are the stakes in the war of ideas against Marxism. But this is not what the “30 by 30” scheme is all about, and when we cry wolf in cases like this, we undermine the position of freedom and reason.
Increasing protected lands as part of this scheme could be very economically detrimental, but not a significant threat to cropland, which constitutes about 17% of land use in the US. Most of that would come out of Forest-use land, 28% of US land use, and rangeland, 29% of US land use. That’s what makes this plan especially ridiculous, it will replace actively managed forest with wild forest and call that conservation. It’s true that Nebraska is over 97 percent privately owned. But it happens to be the state with the 6th smallest amount of Federal land in the country. While in Nebraska and Maine Federal land is only 1.1% of total area, in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho it’s 84.9%, 64.9%, and 61.6%, respectively. In total, Federal lands already constitute about 28% of total area of the US, though some of that area is used as rangeland and forest. (https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/52096/Summary_Table_1_major_uses_of_land_by_region_and_state_2012.xls?v=8340) (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf)
[29:00] None of Kleinlein’s gross errors should discount the need to be prepared for disaster, even if it’s not an “end of the world” type disaster. Food storage, water filtration systems, power self-sufficiency, and evacuation preparedness measures could make all the difference in an event like the recent Texas blackouts, a natural disaster, a particularly bad series of droughts, or a pandemic so severe it requires a total lockdown and cuts off the food supply. Preparedness is a matter of insurance, of hoping for the best but readying for the worst, and it’s also a matter of following revelation from and trusting in the Lord.
[30:10] Kissinger is a really bad guy, but there’s no evidence he actually said this. Kissinger is a Machiavellian, he sees everything in terms of power and manipulation, but this picture/quote is from a conspiracy theory blog. Various versions of this same quote have circulated among conspiracy theorists for years and has been attributed to people and groups ranging from the Freemasons to secret Nazis to the Jewish banking conspiracy.
[31:22] The World Economic Forum advocates some terrible policies, but that doesn’t mean they’re part of a secret combination. It’s also important to understand what they actually are: they’re not a World Government or a secret super-bank or anything like that. They’re an advocacy group/think tank that has a meeting of academics and activists in Switzerland every year and then publishes a bunch of articles that range from interesting to stupid to borderline dystopian. And like any center-left group, they see every crisis and world event as an opportunity to “reimagine” the global economy along more “socially democratic” lines.
[32:18] I agree that we don’t need to “transform” our food system, but if our food system is in as much danger and decline as Kleinlein claimed it was in the first half of the video, why does she ask why we need to transform it? Shouldn’t we want to transform it if it isreally in decline?
[33:06] The phrase “dominant global entity” appears nowhere in the “Reset the Table” plan as she alleges in her list of points, which have been deceptively modified from the Rockefeller Foundation’s plan by Keinlein or her source. Part 1 of the plan is actually to “Create an integrated nutrition security system” (page 9). They break that down into three specifics: “1. Strengthen nutrition benefit programs to ensure children and families are fed. 2. Invest public and private funding in school food programs as anchors of community feeding. 3. Expand Food is Medicine.” Once again, we have some proposals that are practically and economically dubious but are clearly not advocating collectivizing the food supply under a global secret combination. You can look at the other two parts of the Rockefeller Foundation’s plan (Pages 12 and 14) to see more examples of how Kleinlein or her source is grossly misrepresenting the admittedly lousy plan. But like the WEF, the Rockefeller Foundation is a think tank, which means that, like most think tanks, they regularly issue extreme recommendations that are mostly ignored by political bodies. (https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/RF-Reset-the-Table-FULL-PAPER_July-28_FINAL.pdf)
[33:15] This slide even says the date of the tweet at the bottom of the image. It’s in 2016, 4 years before the WEF’s “Great Reset” plan or the pandemic that prompted it. It’s another one of the 8 predictions they made back in 2016, saying that “all products will have become services” by 2030. This is prediction of a future where, for example, people will no longer own cars, they’ll rent self-driving cars for short trips. This kind of prediction is extrapolating on the trend of things we used to purchase becoming subscriptions. For example, we used to buy movies, now we subscribe to Netflix or Disney+. Even now, weird subscription schemes are popping up for everything from clothes to meals. They’re predicting that trend will expand to almost everything by 2030. While it doesn’t seem like a very likely prediction, it’s probably more likely than the WEF announcing their evil plan to take over the government and ban all property in 2030.
[34:00] The Federal Reserve has been the most destructive force in our economic life for the last hundred years, but a “Federal Reserve Funded Financial Institution” is not a special thing, all banks in the US can be funded by the Federal Reserve. When the Federal Reserve issues money, they do it by purchasing Corporate Bond ETFs, meaning essentially that a corporation is getting a loan from the Federal Reserve Bank. BlackRock has been selling those bonds to the Federal Reserve using the money from those bond purchases to purchase land and homes, which they have an advantage in doing because of the low interest rates at which the Fed purchases their bonds.
It’s important to note that BlackRock is an asset manager. This means that the $9 Trillion dollars they manage is not their money, it’s money they manage for their clients, often in the forms of ordinary people’s IRA and 401k accounts. They also process transactions when the Fed buys other ETFs, like those of Vanguard or Fidelity. It doesn’t require any corruption on BlackRock or Vanguard’s part to hurt the economy, it’s the naturally destructive result of the Federal Reserve holding interest rates artificially low during economic expansion.
[35:40] What is a bigger threat to our liberty? Is it Bill Gates buying farmland, or is the atrocious ideas that are overtaking our culture? Did Moroni see Ted Turner owning ranches in Montana, or did he see the new system of thinking, the “critical theory” of anti-rationality, racicalized thinking, and rejection of facts that is indoctrinated in the schools, enforced in intellectual circles, and shouted from the mountaintops of social media?
[36:35] As I demonstrated earlier, food production is not being reduced, it is growing (Note that the “Armstrong Economics” she quotes is not an economics journal, but a conspiracy theory blog). This means the time to stockpile is now. But there’s no “we” about it. It’s not the “global decision makers” job to stockpile for you. As long as there is any semblance of freedom in this world, it’s up to individuals and families to stockpile for themselves and for churches and charities to stockpile for expected shortfalls. “Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.” But not if she expects the federal government and “global leaders” to do it for her.
After all this, Kleinlein gets into the section about food and water preparedness, which I’m certainly not going to argue with. She leaves out fuel and power, which the recent Texas blackouts showed might be the thing we need most, but that’s fair enough as power preparedness requires a large initial investment and involves a lot of technical details. Personal water filtration should be a part of every preparedness kit and kept in every car as well, but I’ll defer to her expertise on food supplies.
Faith has no room for fear. The faith of a Saint is not in how bleak the future is and how terrible and ignorant the rest of the world is compared to us. We should not take comfort in self-satisfied claims to secret knowledge, but in the comforter, the Holy Ghost. Our faith is not in our ability to “crack the code,” “see the signs,” or “connect the dots,” our faith is in Jesus Christ.
I welcome any corrections or clarifications on any of these points, and given the amount of sources I’ve looked through and back-of-the-envelope calculations I’ve had to do in writing this response, I am open to the possibility of my own errors. I’m less open to accusations that I am in cahoots with BlackRock, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, the World Economic Forum, the Israelis, the Gates Foundation, or the Brady Bunch. I received an important insight from my sister while writing this article, which I thank her for and use with her permission, though I cannot confirm or deny her affiliation with the Illuminati. You can email me at email@example.com
Top image: The collectivization of food by Soviet forces as part of the Holodomor, 1933.