Tracing My Roots And Finding My Heavenly Father

Tracing My Roots And Finding My Heavenly Father

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

I have ADHD, so my passions swing wildly. I may be enthusiastic about something until I am not. But I’ll return to this topic when something piques my interest. It has been this way with genealogy. I did a lot of genealogy research until I ended up in the hospital for nearly four months in 2021. When I returned to my hometown in the autumn of 2021, I had other things on my mind. During the months I was incapacitated, I had been paying for expensive services such as It costs more than several streaming services combined. So I canceled that subscription and haven’t looked back since. I reminded myself that there was always the Mormons’ free genealogical site if the genealogy bug bit me again.

Today, I returned to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website. I didn’t expect them to add a feature that lets people find connections between themselves and famous people. Through a long line of ancestors, I may call Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Truman O. Angell, the architect of the Salt Lake Temple, distant cousins. I am related to 24 presidents of the United States, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and Winston Churchill. I am also the ninth cousin of Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll.

Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, T.S. Eliot, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry David Thoreau, and other entertainers and artists are also distantly related to me. To my surprise, I was Rosa Parks’ thirteenth cousin once removed and Muhammad Ali’s ninth cousin three times removed. To avoid giving the impression that I am proud of everyone, I was disappointed to discover a distant kinship with Charles Darwin. There were more, such as an eleventh great-grandfather who arrived in America on the Mayflower. Still, I’ll stop here because my main point was that this discovery rekindled my interest in genealogy.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that some of you may need clarification about whether or not the data I’ve presented is accurate. Trust me; their research blew my mind as well. Yet because they believe in proxy baptism, Mormons keep detailed family trees. Mormons believe that baptism is important for salvation and that people who don’t get baptized during their own lives can still benefit from it through the actions of their children and grandchildren. Proxy baptism allows members of the Mormon Church who are still alive to be baptized on behalf of the deceased, understanding that the departed person can accept or reject that baptism in the next life.

But as attractive as it may be to find out you are a distant cousin to Bing Crosby or Robert Peary, it is a much more incredible feeling to know that you are the adopted child of God. Consider Romans 8.14-16.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (NASB).

God has adopted those who have obeyed the gospel. We contrast the spirit of slavery and fear felt by nonbelievers with the spirit of love and intimacy one can experience with God. Following our adoption, our spirit bears witness with the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children. Through obedience, we draw closer to God to the point where we can address Him with a term of endearment. 

Genealogy can be a fun hobby that teaches us about our family histories and connects us to famous people. But, as fascinating as it is to learn about our long-lost relatives, it is even more important to know that we are God’s adopted children. Obedience to the gospel opens the door to a closer relationship with God, where we can know Him as “Abba.” This relationship is far greater than any family connection discovered through genealogy, and it is a blessing that we can all share as Christians.

Brent Pollard
How Did We Get Here?

How Did We Get Here?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Correlation does not imply causation. I know this. Yet, I still cannot help noticing a concurrent rise of similar outcomes stemming from a conscious or subconscious choice: the decision to ignore God. And I am not the first to see this. One inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote about this phenomenon in the first century AD. Indeed, Paul informed the brethren at Rome that choosing to worship the creature rather than the Creator led to a laundry list of sins (Romans 1.18ff). 

Paul described this descent of man as follows. 

  1. There is a failure to acknowledge and thank God, despite the evidence for God (1.21).  
  2. One turns inward to his thoughts to rationalize his existence (1.21).  
  3. One believes his reasoning is superior to revelation (1.22).  
  4. Man’s folly becomes complete; he worships the creature rather than Creator (1.23). 
  5. Man exchanges the natural for unnatural (1.26-27). 
  6. Unrestrained men plunge deep into their sins while aiding and abetting others in their corruption (1.28-32). 

Current events prompt my reasons for contemplating this progression into darkness. Ours has become a culture of perversion and death. Perhaps, I am as guilty as those who have brought us here by insisting that we can understand the machinations of the fallen man; that there is a basis of rationale. Yet, I feel there is a rough outline paralleling the process described by Paul within the last three hundred years. Paul looked back into the centuries creating the world in which he found himself preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, that world Paul witnessed had not quickly come into being either but had slowly descended into idolatry and sin. Humanity had begun as monotheistic and plunged into polytheism.  

We likely need to go back to the Age of Enlightenment to explain our current situation. First, men began to become less likely to thank and acknowledge God. There was a Creator, but He had only wound up the clock of our universe and walked away. Some refer to this idea as deism. Thus, men like Thomas Paine said one needed to guide himself with a rational mind. Therefore, humanity began looking for alternative explanations for what he previously attributed to the purview of God. Though true that such pursuits brought helpful things like the scientific method, otherwise intelligent men like Thomas Jefferson concluded that the miracles of the Bible were not true and removed them from his Bible.  

Of these new “enlightened” men, one suggested a revolutionary thought that humanity had arisen from natural rather than supernatural processes. Charles Darwin wrote his findings in The Origin of the Species. Darwin was not an atheist, per se. On the contrary, his pedigree included a belief in God. Moreover, Darwin’s grandfather had written poetry mocking the atheist. Yet, somehow Darwin thought God could coincide with the concept of humanity climbing out of the primordial ooze to become the ultimate primate, rather than being fashioned in God’s image (Genesis 1.26-27). And by 1871, in The Descent of Man, even Darwin began wondering aloud that since nature disposed of the unfit, was humanity harming itself by failing to do the same?  

Those moved with interest by Darwin’s novel thoughts took his concept of “the survival of the fittest” and applied it to human reproduction. Whether it was Friedrich Nietzsche’s ubermensch (i.e., superman) or Margaret Sanger’s population control, it was a field of thought known first as Social Darwinism and later eugenics. We bristle at the latter as we think of Adolph Hitler and the murder of six million Jews during World War II. Yet, while we rightfully decry the ideology of the Third Reich, it’s an ugly truth that when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, 30 U.S. states allowed forced sterilization of those deemed unfit to breed.   

The consequences of the Second World War made eugenics less palatable to the American diet. But it did nothing to remove the ideology. Instead of going away, unpopular ideas like eugenics merely went underground into the ivy-covered walls of “higher learning” to find a simpatico relationship with other equally undesirable ideologies like communism. Here in the bosom of secular scholasticism, agents of societal change grasped the Confucian maxim that planning for a hundred years entails children’s education. And the one idea that provides the semblance of unity to these disparate ideologies is the need to remove the restraints of morality and religion. Nietzsche said God kept man from becoming the ubermensch, and Karl Marx declared faith as the opium of the masses.  

Within the last fifty years, secular academia has taught youth that they are nothing but animals constrained by old standards. They have told young people to question the meaning of the written word and allow for its private interpretation. And if students can deconstruct poems to declare a preferred message, why not other documents like the Bible or U.S. Constitution? A watered-down Gospel allows for the practice of sinful behavior. Repetition normalizes it. Professors and teachers tell young people that the only thing preventing utopia are institutions like the home. Government can be the mother and father. These instructors have even told today’s youth they can deny their biology and create for themselves an identity forged by the fires of faddism.  

I doubt anything I’ve written will convince those not already singing in the choir. As I stated at the outset, correlation does not imply causation. But, in truth, I never thought one article could be sufficient to discuss the ramifications of this observation regarding man’s precipitous fall within the last few centuries according to the paradigm Paul introduces in Romans one. And though we know Solomon stated long ago that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9-10), we acknowledge that periodic times of awakening and revival have buoyed humanity and temporarily halted his self-destruction.  

Suppose you realize that you are not alone in your conviction that God intended man to be something more significant. In that case, you can merge with that greater community of like-minded believers (cf. Ecclesiastes 4.9-12). God has given us the armor we need for this fight (Ephesians 6.10-17), but we still need our “Band of Brothers” to watch our backs in this war against sin (Galatians 6.1-2,6, 9-10). In the interim, we magnify the God Who grants us victory over this world through faith (1 John 5.4). And we await our Lord’s glorious return (Acts 1.11).     



Neal Pollard
At the corner of Oak and Griffey
Lived an old man, Cyrus Diffy. (*)
A lifelong skeptic, centered on self
With Dawkins and Darwin on his shelf
He scoffed at those he thought “too much,”
Who leaned on religion as their crutch.
Whose faith was rested on their Bible
Were subject to his scorn and libel.
His own morality and ethics were iffy
He was his own rule, Cyrus Diffy
No one could tell him how to live
For others he had nothing to give
Scorn metastasized, and he grew bitter
Spewed his venom on Facebook, on Twitter
With chip on shoulder, he sought debate
Relished each moment “the faith” to hate
One morning in his chair in one quick jiffy
The last breath was breathed by Cyrus Diffy
He lifted up his eyes in a place most unpleasant
With him each skeptic and agnostic were present
Yet like him they no longer could fuel their doubt
Now in this painful place with no door to get out.
He’d tied his whole life to his naturalistic bent
But rejected the Savior the Father had sent.
Let’s sum up concisely, I’ll try to be pithy
Here’s what we can learn from old Cyrus Diffy
We all hitch our wagons to some conviction
Determine what’s truth and what is fiction
Design exists, it points to a designer.
We feel moral ought, know what’s coarse, what’s finer
We’re built to worship, we possess intellect.
When charting life’s course, every angle inspect.
View your worldview, consider its implications
Choose based on logic not potential complications
Christian, you might pass by a place like Oak and Griffey
Live Christ well before all folks like the late Cyrus Diffy.

(*) “Cyrus Diffy” is a random name I made up and is
not meant to refer to anyone real having that name.