|The Prophet Joseph Smith|
Monday, April 9, 2018
- From the History of the Life of Oliver B. Huntington
Friday, April 6, 2018
|Parley P. Pratt|
(from An Appeal to the Inhabitants of the State of New York, Letter to Queen Victoria, (Reprinted from the Tenth European Edition,) The Fountain of Knowledge; Immortality of the Body, and Intelligence and Affection [Nauvoo: John Taylor, Printer, 1840])
"[p.121]These, like material things, have their origin in eternal, uncreated elements; and like them, must endure forever. They are the foundations of enjoyment, the main-springs of glory and exaltation, and the fountains from which emanate a thousand streams of life, and joy, and gladness; diffused through all worlds, and extending to all extent.
They are the principle roots from which shoot forth innumerable branches, which bud in time, and blossom and ripen in eternity; producing a perfume more delicious than the balmy sweets of Arabia, and fruits more precious than the apples of Eden.
The human mind in infancy, like the body, is small and weak indeed. It neither possesses intelligence nor affection to any great degree; for the latter is the production of the former;—grows with its growth, and strengthens with its strength; and cannot exist independent and separate therefrom.
This infant mind commences to expand, and continues to enlarge itself just in proportion to the truths that are presented for its food, and the time and opportunity it has to digest and comprehend them. If unassociated with other intelligences, it expands but very little,–all its powers remain in a great measure inactive and dormant.
For instance, let an infant be cut off from all communication with other intelligences, let it grow to manhood entirely alone, and it still knows little more than in infancy.
One child may be raised to manhood possessing only the limited knowledge of a Hotentot, while another is made to comprehend the sublime truths of a Newton.
The human mind then, is capable of a constant and gradual expansion to an unlimited extent. In fact, its receptive powers are infinite.
Once set free from the chains of incorrect tradition; and unfettered from the limited creeds and superstition of men, and associated with beings of unlimited intelligence, it may go freely on from truth to truth; enlarge itself like the rays of the morning; circumscribe the earth, and [p.122]soar to the heavens; comprehend the mysteries of the past, and remove the veil from the future; till the wide expanse of eternity, with all its treasures of wisdom, is brought within the range of its com
It is true, that, in this life the progress of the mind in intelligence, is not only gradual, but obstructed in various ways. It has to contend, not only with its own prejudices and the errors of an opposing world, but with innumerable weaknesses, temptations, cares, and troubles, with which it is continually beset.
And finally, its organs are weakened by disease, or worn with age, till it sinks into a backward tendency–loses a portion of that which it has been able to comprehend, and partakes of a kind of secondary childhood.
From this fact, some are ready to conclude, that the mind, like the body, has its limits; its point of maturity, beyond which it can never expand; and that arriving at this climax of maturity, like a full grown plant, it is incapable of a further advance. But this is a mistake. It is not the mind itself that is thus limited and confined within a circle so narrow, but it is the circumstances in which it is placed. That is its bodily organs, once strong and vigorous, are now weakened by disease, or worn with age. Hence, the mind, while connected with them, and dependent on them, is compelled to partake of their weaknesses. And like a strong travellor with a weak companion, or a strong workman with a slender tool, it can only operate as they are able to bear.
What then is the means by which this formidable obstacle can be overcome, and the mind be enabled with renewed vigor, to continue its onward progress in the reception of intelligence?
We will best answer this question by a parable.
A certain child had continued the use of food until its teeth were worn, loosened, and decayed to that degree that they were no longer able to perform their accustomed office. On this account, its food was swallowed in such a manner as not to digest properly.
This soon caused a general weakness and disorder of the system. Some unthinking persons seeing this, came to the conclusion that the child had come to maturity—that it no longer needed its accustomed nourishment, but must gradually sink and die. But in process of time; nature provided its own remedy. The old teeth were shed, and a new set more strong and durable took their place. The system being thus restored in every part to a full, vigorous and healthy action, was enabled to make rapid progress towards perfection, and to receive and digest food far more strong and hard of digestion than before.
So with the organs of the mind. This temporary body, frail and mortal, is to the mind what the children’s teeth are to the system. Like them it answers a momentary purpose, and like them its organs become [p.123]decayed and weakened by age and use; so that many truths which present themselves to the mind, cannot be properly digested while dependent on such weak organs.
But let this feeble and decayed body share the fate of the child’s first set of teeth—let it be plucked by death, and the mind set free. Nay, rather let it be renewed in all the freshness and vigor of eternal life; with organs fresh and strong and durable as the powers of eternal intellect.
And the mind, thus provided with organs, fully adapted to its most ardent powers of action, will find itself no longer constrained to linger on the confines of its former limits, where impatient of restraint, it had struggled in vain for freedom. But like a prisoner, suddenly freed from the iron shackles and gloomy dungeons of a terrible tyrant, it will move nimbly onward with a joyous consciousness of its own liberty. It will renew with redoubled vigor its intellectual feast, and enlarge its field of operations amid the boundless sources of intelligence, till earth, with all its treasures of wisdom and knowledge, becomes too small, and the neighboring worlds too narrow to satisfy a capacity so enlarged. It will then, on wings of faith, and by the power of the spirit waft itself far beyond our visible heavens, and “far above earth’s span of sky” and explore other suns, and other systems; and hold communion with other intelligences more remote than our weak minds can possibly conceive.
In these researches and discoveries, the mind will be able by degrees to circumscribe the heavens, and to comprehend the heights and depths, and lengths and breadths of the mysteries of eternal truth, and like its maker, comprehend all things; even the deep things of God.
While the mind is thus expanding and increasing in intelligence, the affections will expand and increase in proportion, both in this life and in the life to come.
God is light, God is truth, God is love.
The reason why he loves, is because he is light and truth. Or in other words, he loves because he knows; and in proportion to the extent of his knowledge, or intelligence, so is the extent of his love; and so it is with the human mind.
In infancy, our love is as narrow as our intellectual capacity. But as our intelligence increases, so our affection grows, till from knowing and loving our mother, we begin to know and love the circle of our immediate kindred and family. We soon begin to know and love our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, and finally our uncles, aunts and cousins, and our neighbors; and so on, continuing to enlarge our knowledge and consequently our love, till it circumscribes our nation, and finally all mankind. But still, it is far from being perfect. As we advance in the knowledge of all our social connections, duties, dependences, relation-[p.124]ships, and obligations, our affections still increase; and as we raise our thoughts to worlds on high, and begin to know something of our Heavenly Father, of our Redeemer, and of angels and spirits who inhabit other and better worlds, and of our relationships to them, we begin to love them. And the more we know of them the more we love them. Thus, love or affection is dependent on knowledge, or intelligence, and can only be increased by an increase of knowledge.
These two principles are the foundations, the fountains of all real happiness.
Some persons have supposed that our natural affections were the results of a fallen and corrupt nature, and that they are “carnal, sensual, and devilish,” and therefore ought to be resisted, subdued, or overcome as so many evils which prevent our perfection, or progress in the spiritual life. In short, that they should be greatly subdued in this world, and in the world to come entirely done away. And even our intelligence also.
Such persons frequently inquire whither they shall recognise their kindred or friends in the life to come? They also caution themselves and others, lest they should love their child, their companion, their brother, sister, or mother too well; for, say they, if you love them too well, it will offend your God and he will take them from you.
Such persons have mistaken the source and fountain of happiness altogether. They have not one correct idea of the nature of the enjoyments, or happiness of heaven, or earth; of this life or any other. If intelligence and affection are to decrease to such a low ebb that we shall neither recognise or love our kindred and friends, then a stone, a block of wood, or a picture on the wall is as capable of the enjoyments of heaven as we are.
So far from this being the case, our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very main-springs of life and happiness—they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society—they are the essence of charity, or love; and therefore never fail, but endure forever.
There is not a more pure and holy principle in existence than the affection which glows in the bosom of a virtuous man for his companion; for his parents, brothers, sisters, and children.
If there be one scene in heaven or on earth, capable of calling forth the most refined sensibilities of our nature, it is the expressions of love which kindle into rapture, and which flow out in the soul of a woman towards her infant.
So pure, so chaste, so tender and benevolent, so simple, so ardent and sincere, and so disinterested is this principle, that it could only have been kindled by the inspiration of a spirit direct from the fountain of eternal, everlasting love.
[p.125]These pure affections are inspired in our bosoms, and interwoven with our nature by an all wise and benevolent being, who rejoices in the happiness and welfare of his creatures. All his revelations to man, touching this subject, are calculated to approve, encourage, and strengthen these emotions, and to increase and perfect them; that man, enlightened and taught of God, may be more free, more social, cheerful, happy, kind, familiar, and lovely than he was before; that he may fill all the relationships of life, and act in every sphere of usefulness with a greater energy, and with a readier mind, and a more willing heart.
All the monkish austerity, all the sadness and reserve, all the unsocial feelings and doings of priests, and monks, and nuns; all the long-facedness, unsocial sadness, groanings, sighs, and mortifications of sectaries, whether of ancient convents, where men and women retire from all the busy scenes and pleasures of life, to live a life of celibacy, self-denial and devotion; or whether in the more modern and fashionable circles of the camp meetings, or the “mourners bench.”
All these, I say, are expressly and entirely opposed to the spirit, and objects of true religion; they are so many relics of superstition, ignorance, and hypocrisy, and are expressly forbidden, and condemned by our Lord and Saviour.
In all these things, man has mistaken the source of happiness; has been dissatisfied with the elements and attributes of his nature, and has tried, and sought, and prayed, in vain to make himself into a different being from what the Lord has wisely designed he should be.
The fact is, God made man, male and female; he planted in their bosoms those affections which are calculated to promote their happiness and union.
That by that union they might fulfil the first and great commandment; viz: “To multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”
From this union of affection, springs all the other relationships, social joys and affections, diffused through every branch of human existence.
And were it not for this, earth would be a desert wild, an uncultivated wilderness.
Man was designed for a social being; he was made to cultivate, beautify, possess, enjoy and govern the earth; and to fill it with myriads of happy, free and social intelligences.
Woman was made for him as a help and a comfort. All the faculties of his nature, are precisely adapted to his several duties and enjoyments. He owes a duty to his wife, to his parents, to his children, to his brothers and sisters, and kindred, and finally to his neighbors, his nation, and to all mankind. He also owes a duty to the earth, and to his God. These several spheres of action are termed in modern times; political, civil, [p.126]moral, social, domestic, foreign, religious, etc., etc. But they may all be summed up in one term, viz: religious.
Pure religion, includes all these duties, they are all religious duties; and the man who fulfils his religious duties and obligation; acts well his part in every department of life; he is a good citizen, a good ruler, a good general, a good neighbor, a good father, a good husband, a good child, and a good member of society; according as his lot may be cast, or according to the trust committed to him. And he receives and imparts a portion of happiness on every sphere in which he moves.
The man who, through a mistaken zeal, or through the influence of ignorant teachings or incorrect traditions, so far mistakes the object and purpose of his being, as to withdraw from all these; to shut himself from the world, and to seek to overcome and subdue the natural affections with which God has endowed him, is not a religious man at all. On the contrary, he is opposing the will and commandments of God, and neglecting the duties of religion.
How often do we hear of persons, and even whole societies who hold that a religious man or community should have nothing to do with politics, government, and office. Such persons judge of the depth of a man’s religion by his indifference to, or retirement from the arduous duties of family, church, or state.
How different is this notion from the facts of the case, if we may judge either from common sense, or from precepts and examples set before us by God’s people.
Witness, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Daniel, Mordica, Esther, and thousands of others of God’s prophets and wise men, all medling with civil religious, and political government, and with temporal duties, and financial interests! and who so well qualified as they for to forecast devices, and manage affairs for the good and salvation of man? Think of Jesus himself who came into the world for the very purpose of being a king, and who is yet waiting for the glorious time when he will descend to earth again, and reign over all the kingdoms of the world. Think of Paul, who declares that the saints shall judge the world, and judge angels, how much more than the smaller matters?
Man, know thy self,—study thine own nature,—learn thy powers of body,–thy capacity of mind. Learn thine origin, thy purpose and thy destiny. Study the true source of thine own mind. Learn thine origin, thy purpose and thy destiny. Study the true source of thine own happiness, and the happiness of all beings with which thou art associated. Learn to act in unison with thy true character, nature and attributes; and thus improve and cultivate the resources within and around thee. This will render you truly happy, and be an acceptable service to your God. And being [p.127]faithful over a few things, you may hope to be made ruler over many things
What then is sinful? I answer, our unnatural passions and affections, or in other words the abuse, the perversion, the unlawful indulgence of that which is otherwise good. Sodom was not destroyed for their natural affection; but for the want of it. They had perverted all their affections, and had given place to that which was unnatural, and contrary to nature. Thus they had lost those holy and pure principles of virtue and love which were calculated to preserve and exalt mankind; and were overwhelmed in all manner of corruption; and also hatred towards those who were good.
So it was with the nations of Canaan who were doomed to destruction by the Israelites. And so it was with the Greeks, Romans, and other Gentiles in the days of Paul. Hence his testimony against their wicked works, and his warnings to the churches to beware of these carnal sinful, corrupt and impure works of the flesh; all of which were more or less interwoven with their natures by reason of long and frequent indulgences therein. Now it was not because men’s natural affections were sinful that all these sins existed; but it was because, wicked customs, contrary to nature, had become so prevalent as to become a kind of second nature.
So it is in the present age; men who do not govern their affections so as to keep them within their proper and lawful channel; but who indulge in every vice, and in unlawful use of that which was originally good, so far pervert it that it becomes to them a minister of evil; and therefore they are led into the other extreme; and begin to accuse their nature, or him that formed them, of evil; and they seek to change their nature; and call upon God to make them into a different being from what he made them at first. In short they seek to divest themselves of a portion of the very attributes of their nature instead of seeking to govern, to improve, and to cultivate and direct their powers of mind and their affections, so as to cause them to contribute to their happiness. All these are the results of incorrect traditions, teachings and practices.
Know then Oh man, that aided and directed by the light of heaven the sources of thy happiness are within and around thee. Instead of seeking unto God for a mysterious change to be wrought, or for your affections and attributes to be taken away and subdued, seek unto him for aid, and wisdom to govern, direct and cultivate them in a manner which will tend to your happiness and exaltation, both in this world and in that which is to come. Yea, pray to him that every affection, attribute, power and energy of your body and mind may be cultivated, increased, enlarged, perfected and exercised for his glory and for the glory and happiness of yourself, and of all those whose good fortune it may be to be associated with you.
[p.128]As we said in the beginning of this subject, we say again; that our intellect and our affection, only buds in time, and ripens in eternity.
There we shall know and love our kindred and our friends: and there we shall be capable of exercising all those pure emotions of friendship and love, which fill our hearts with such inexpressible delight in this world. And not only so, but our love will be far more strong and perfect in many respects. First, because we shall know and realize more. Secondly, because our organs of thought will be more strong and durable. Thirdly, because we shall be free from those mean, selfish, groveling, envious and disagreeable influences which disturb, and hinder the free exercise of our affections in this world. And lastly, because we shall be associated with a more extensive and numerous society, of those who are filled with the same freedom of spirit and affection that we are; and therefore are objects truly worthy of our love. While those of a contrary nature will be banished to their own place, and not suffered to mingle in the society, or mar the peace of those who have gotten the victory.
Having discovered and set forth in plainness the origin, purpose, and destiny of man’s physical organization and the powers, attributes, energies, affections and capabilities of his intellect, till we find him standing erect in God-like majesty, with organs of strength beyond the reach of death: and powers of thought, capable of spaning the heavens, and comprehending all things: We must now inquire into the nature of his employment in that eternal world of joy and bliss.
On this subject as on most others, where investigation has been considered a sin, men have greatly erred.
They have supposed that this short life was the only active one; and that the world to come was a life of repose, or of inactive and eternal rest; where all our powers of body and mind would remain dormant, or only be engaged in shouts, songs and acclamations. To prove this we offer here quotations like the following:
“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave whither thou goest.” “As the tree falleth so it lieth.” “As death leaves us, so judgment will find us.”
To the first of these we would reply that the spirit never goes to the grave; and the body does not stay in it long. And beyond it, in the regions of eternal life there is abundance of work, knowledge and device. To the second, we would say, that the tree lieth as it falleth until it is removed, and used for some other purpose. And to the third, we reply, that it is a sectarian proverb, instead of a scripture; and by the by a false one too. For death leaves us in the grave, with body and spirit separated; and judgment finds us risen from the grave, and spirit and body united.
Thus organized a new, we are prepared to enter upon a life of business and usefulness, in a sphere vastly enlarged and extended. [p.129]Possessing a priesthood after the order of Melchesideck; or, after the order of the son of God; which is after the power of an endless life, without beginning of days or ending of years, a priesthood which includes a scepter and kingly office; we are more fully than ever qualified to teach, to judge, to rule and govern; and to go and come on foreign missions. The field of our labors may then extend for aught we know to the most distant worlds–to climes where mortal eye never penetrated. Or we may visit the dark and gloomy regions of the spirits in prison, and there, like a risen Jesus, preach the gospel to those who are dead; “that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
Or we may be called upon, with the other sons of God to shout for joy, at the organization of new systems of worlds, and new orders of being; over which we may reign as kings, or to whom we may minister as priests.
These ideas may be considered by some as mere flights of fancy no where supported by positive evidence. But we contend that the very nature of our existence and of our priesthood is such as to warrant the conclusion to which we have arrived. But if proof were wanting, we have only to refer, as a precedent, to the active life and ministry of a risen Jesus; and to his administration as king of kings and lord of lords: as well as to the promises made by him to those whom he had sent. It appears that Jesus Christ after rising from the dead, immediately entered upon a most active ministry; in which he taught, expounded, opened the scriptures, commanded, commissioned, prophesied and blessed. By this means he laid the foundation for his kingdom to be established not only among the Jews and Gentiles; but also among the Nephites and the lost tribes of Israel. He also visited the spirits of the dead and preached the gospel unto them, as is recorded in one of the Epistles of Peter. Not only so, but he assended to realms of exalted glory, where seated on a throne, he still is active both as a king and priest. And, if we look into the future, we shall find that he has yet a great work to do upon the earth, not only as a judge, king and priest; but as an executor, warrior, and a military commander. For he will tread them in his anger and trample them in his fury, and stain his raiment with their blood; while all the armies in heaven follow him in martial splendor, mounted on white horses, and all arrayed in a uniform of spotless white. This same Jesus confered on his apostles an everlasting priesthood, after his own order: as it is written: “As the father hath sent me, even so I send you.” “And the works that I do shall you do also.”
He also promised to be with them always even unto the end of the world; and therefore is yet with them in their labors and ministry, whether as men or angels. Those who suppose a man’s office or priest-[p.130]hood to end with this life have been in the habit of applying that promise, as if it only ment them and their successors; but he said no such thing. But rather that he would be with them always unto the end of the world. If they had successors, it was then time enough for similar promises to be made to them, when they in turn should enter upon their holy and sacred office of the apostleship and priesthood.
These apostles not only hold the perpetual office of the apostleship and priesthood: but also partake of kingly power. Hence it is written “they shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” And this too, when the son of man shall come in his glory. Then will be fulfilled that which was recorded by John, saying: “thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.” In view of an eternal kingdom, and of an immortal reign and ministry, they might well rejoice when arraigned before the dreadful tribunals of earthly tyrants, knowing as they did that they should reign in turn, and that their persecutors would be in turn arraigned before a judgment bar.
From all these and a thousand other promises made to prophets and apostles, we feel safe in the conclusion, that a field wide as eternity and boundless as the ocean of God’s benevolence, extends before the servants of God. A field where, ambition knows no check, and zeal no limits; and where the most ardent aspirations may be more than realized. A field where crowns of glory, thrones of power and dominions of immortality are the rewards of dilligence. And where man—once a weak and helpless worm of dust may sit enthroned in majesty on high, and occupy an exalted station among the councils of the sons of God."
Saturday, March 31, 2018
- The Prophet Joseph Smith
|Howard W. Hunter|
- C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Monday, March 12, 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018
"In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together; each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walk have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out toward the blaze and our drinks are at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life — natural life — has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?"
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Sunday, February 18, 2018
On February 23, 184, Brigham Young wrote about a dream in which the Prophet Joseph appeared to him and shared a message for the saints:
"Tell the people to be humble and faithful and sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right."
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
|Elder LeGrand Curtis, Jr.|
Saturday, January 20, 2018
This afternoon a friend and I had the opportunity to watch a performance by The Peking Acrobats at Brigham Young University. It was spectacular. There was a lot of variety in the acts. The acrobats showcased their amazing talents, flexibility, strength, balance, and team work. The music was also beautiful, and some of the performers played traditional Chinese instruments. Here is a short video of The Peking Acrobats. (And here is another, and another).
Friday, December 15, 2017
How does the Book of Mormon itself suggest that it should be read? According to Joseph Spencer, it may not be the way that most of us have been reading the Book of Mormon. In his book An Other Testament: On Typology, Joseph Spencer argues that the Book of Mormon is meant to be read typologically as typology is understood through the eyes of a converted soul, such as that of Lehi's son Nephi. Spencer's argument, like the Book of Mormon itself, is much more complex than that, but the simple thread that ties his argument together pertains to a particular understanding regarding the nature of grace, the law, and the prophets.
Like Grant Hardy (see also here), Spencer has read the Book of Mormon more closely and more carefully than most people. One of the benefits of reading Hardy's book Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide and Spencer's book An Other Testament: On Typology together is that their books reveal how much more there is to discover in the book that Joseph Smith called "the most correct of any book on earth." Moreover, those who suppose that Joseph Smith could have somehow written the Book of Mormon face not only the daunting obstacle of explaining the complexity of the Book of Mormon itself, but now they also face the obstacle of explaining the intricacies outlined by Hardy and Spencer that may have escaped the notice of more casual readers. Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon? First read the Book of Mormon. Then read Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide and Spencer's An Other Testament: On typology. Try if you will to come up with an argument to support the conclusion that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. All I can say to you then is... good luck.
While I don't agree with every detail of Spencer's or Hardy's readings of the Book of Mormon, their books open up new vistas for those who seek a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the Book of Mormon. You may not be persuaded by Spencer's thesis, but if you read An Other Testament: On Typology, you may never read the Book of Mormon in the same way again.
Friday, December 8, 2017
|Understanding the Book of Mormon, by Grant Hardy|
In his article "The Book of Mormon: A Great Answer to 'The Great Question'", Elder Neal A. Maxwell expressed his eagerness to broaden and deepen his understanding of the Book of Mormon:
In a similar vein, Hardy has explored many of the towers, courtyards, and wings of the Book of Mormon. He has entered rooms and found fireplaces, furnishings, panels, decor, and banquet tables that may have escaped the notice of rushed readers. Hardy ventures beyond the entry hall, into the mansion, and his exploration invites us to do the same. Whether we have been hurried tourists or skeptics in the past, Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide invites us to enter the Book of Mormon mansion with a fresh perspective.
In some instances, Hardy stretches his interpretations beyond credible speculation. Nevertheless, for the most part, his study of the Book of Mormon is enhanced by his capacious knowledge of world religions and his keen literary interests. Throughout his book, Hardy highlights the editorial efforts of the three major prophet-historians of the Book of Mormon, namely Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. The result is a panoply of penetrating insights into a book that for good reason members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard as a "marvelous work and a wonder."
There is simply too much in Hardy's book, and even more in the Book of Mormon itself, to appreciate in one short blog post. But it is a such pleasure to read Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide in part because it allows the reader to enter into a conversation with someone who treasures the book enough to read it carefully. The Book of Mormon is anything but "chloroform in print." Critics have wrongly supposed that the Book of Mormon is not "one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion of it." The Book of Mormon does not easily reward the casual or cavalier reader. Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide demonstrates that the Book of Mormon brims with meaning for those who are willing to pay the price of careful study. But you don't have take my word for it.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
What is Galilee Grill and Bakery?
"I opened Galilee Grill and Bakery to share with our community the wonderful flavors that I grow up with in Nazareth. My family was in the Pita bread business, both in making bakery machines and in running bakeries in Nazareth. I even built some of the machines that we use to make our pita bread in Lehi, from family designs. The pita bread you find at our bakery is almost identical to a pita bread you would buy on the streets of Nazareth. Keeping our food authentic and true to the traditional recipes of the Holy Land has been an important part of our menu choices. Where possible we have expanded to offer as a wider variety as possible from other countries in the Middle East. We even use a more expensive imported brand of Tahini because to keep our flavors as authentic as possible.
I am committed to our guests' satisfaction, we are humans and make mistakes. So if you are not satisfied with your food for any reason, please talk to a manager and they will be happy to do what is necessary to resolve the situation to your satisfaction. If you are still not satisfied, then I am not satisfied. Please send me an email at email@example.com. We do appreciate your business."
I am committed to our guests' satisfaction, we are humans and make mistakes. So if you are not satisfied with your food for any reason, please talk to a manager and they will be happy to do what is necessary to resolve the situation to your satisfaction. If you are still not satisfied, then I am not satisfied. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do appreciate your business."
"[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you."
Friday, December 1, 2017
What is Sehnsucht?
- "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- "In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
- "It appeared to me therefore that if a man diligently followed this desire, pursuing the false objects until their falsity appeared and then resolutely abandoning them, he must come out at last into the clear knowledge that the human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given--nay, cannot even be imagined as given--in our present mode of subjective and spatio-temporal experience. This Desire was, in the soul, as the Siege Perilous in Arthur's castle--the chair in which only one could sit. And if nature makes nothing in vain, the One who can sit in this chair must exist. I knew only too well how easily the longing accepts false objects and through what dark ways the pursuit of them leads us: but I also saw that the Desire itself contains the corrective of all these errors. The only fatal error was to pretend that you had passed from desire to fruition, when, in reality, you had found either nothing, or desire itself, or the satisfaction of some different desire. The dialectic of Desire, faithfully followed, would retrieve all mistakes, head you off from all false paths, and . . . to propound, but to live through, a sort of ontological proof. This lived dialectic, and the merely argued dialectic of my philosophical progress, seemed to have converged on one goal; accordingly I tried to put them both into my allegory which thus became a defence of Romanticism (in my peculiar sense) as well as of Reason and Christianity." - C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress
- "That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves." - C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress
- "It still seemed to be early and the morning freshness was in the air. They kept on stopping to look round and to look behind them, partly because it was so beautiful but partly also because there was something about it which they could not understand.
- “Peter,” said Lucy, “where is this, do you suppose?”
- “I don’t know,” said the High King. “It reminds me of somewhere but I can’t give it a name. Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?”
- “It would have to have been a jolly good holiday,” said Eustace. “I bet there isn’t a country like this anywhere in our world. Look at the colors. You couldn’t get a blue like the blue on those mountains in our world. . . .”
- Lucy said, “They’re different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more … more … oh, I don’t know.…”
- “More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly. - C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle
- “It is indeed, an absurd exaggeration to say that we are all mad, just as it is true that we are none of us perfectly healthy. If there were to appear in the world a perfectly sane man, he would certainly be locked up. The terrible simplicity with which he would walk over our minor morbidities, or sulky vanities and malicious self-righteousness; the elephantine innocence with which he would ignore our fictions or civilization—these would make him a thing more desolating and inscrutable than a thunderbolt or a beast of prey. It may be that the great prophets who appeared to mankind as mad were in reality raving with an impotent sanity."
- "Genius ought to be centric. It ought to be the core of the cosmos, not on the revolving edges. People seem to think it a compliment to accuse one of being an outsider, and to talk about the eccentricities of genius. What would they think, if I said I only wish to God I had the centricities of genius."
Saturday, November 18, 2017
|M.C. Escher, Drawing Hands|
The Brigham Young University Museum of Art has hosted spectacular exhibitions in the past, including the works of Carl Bloch. Yesterday a new exhibition opened featuring the works of M.C. Escher. The new exhibition, M.C. Escher: Other Worlds, is every bit as amazing as it sounds. Escher's drawings, etchings, paintings, wood engravings, woodcuts, linoleum cuts, and lithographs are accessible online, but it is worth the visit to view the original artwork.
Maurits Cornelis Escher was an interesting character. Like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Dürer before him, Escher was left-handed. He lived in Italy for thirteen years, where he met and married Jetta Umiker. He developed a fascination with the Regular Division of the Plane after visiting the Alhambra in Spain. Even though he never claimed an expertise in mathematics, many of his works combine mathematical precision with creativity. If you have the opportunity, come explore the other worlds of M.C. Escher at the BYU Museum of Art.
|M.C. Escher, Hand with Reflecting Sphere|
Friday, November 17, 2017
|The King's Singers|
Last night I had the opportunity to attend The King's Singers concert at BYU. It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of The King's Singers, featuring a wide variety of songs, all of which were superb.
The first song, A Prayer of King Henry VI, was hauntingly beautiful and it set the tone for the rest of the concert. They sang Claude Jeune's Revecy venir du Printans, Les Marins de Kermor, a beautiful song about French mariners, and even a few songs by The Beatles (I'll Follow the Sun, And I Love Her, Honey Pie). After standing ovations, The King's Singers treated their Mormon audience with a medley of primary songs. It was simply stupendous. (Thanks to my parents for the tickets. For more songs by the King's Singers, click here, and for a bonus song, click here).
Thursday, November 9, 2017
|John W. Welch|
Last night I had the opportunity to attend the biennial Laura F. Wilkes Book of Mormon Lecture. Professor John W. Welch delivered a fine lecture about the timing of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Welch explained many meticulous details about the translation process, including estimates of the time that was spent to complete the work of translation. According to Welch, the maximum number of possible days available for the translation of the Book of Mormon from April 7 to June 30, 1829 is 74 days, but it is possible that Joseph Smith and his scribes accomplished the work of translation (269,510 words) in as few as 58 days. (see also here) Welch's research on the Book of Mormon translation timeline is also available in the second edition of his edited volume Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820-1844.
Welch's lecture was insightful and faith promoting, but I was particularly impressed by the events that inspired his meticulous research. In 1985, Elder Neal A. Maxwell posed a simple question to him: "How long did it take Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon?" Welch interspersed a few other noteworthy statements by Elder Maxwell throughout his presentation:
- "Without divine guidance, our cerebral calisthenics, though often fascinating to engage in, can be empty exercise.
- "Faith is not devoid of intellectual content, nor is it antireason. Spiritual things belong to an encircling and larger realm. This realm has its own culture, its own evidence, its own interior consistency, and, indeed, its own language."
- "The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a marvelous episode not only in Church history but also in human history. You and I owe many people for their roles in bringing us the Book of Mormon, a book filled with plain and precious salvational truths which came forth by 'the gift and power of God' (Book of Mormon title page). Through the labors and sacrifices of many, the 'marvellous work and a wonder' foreseen by Isaiah (Isa. 29:14) restored vital truths which had been lost to mankind for centuries! We can best express our gratitude by reading and applying the teachings of the Book of Mormon."
The title of Welch's lecture is derived from Oliver Cowdery's memorable description of the experience of translation:
"These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’
To notice, in even few words, the interesting account given by Mormon and his faithful son, Moroni, of a people once beloved and favored of heaven, would supersede my present design; I shall therefore defer this to a future period, and, as I said in the introduction, pass more directly to some few incidents immediately connected with the rise of this Church, which may be entertaining to some thousands who have stepped forward, amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites, and embraced the Gospel of Christ.
No men, in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites from the mouth of the Savior, of the precise manner in which men should build up His Church, and especially when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men, without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being buried in the liquid grave, to answer a ‘good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’
After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easy to be seen, as the prophet said it would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further it was as easy to be seen that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. For the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations, when His testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, in all ages of the world when He has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given ‘Arise and be baptized.’
This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon Him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the ‘blaze of day’; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ’Twas the voice of an angel from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’
I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry; and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease."—Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), pp. 14–16.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
"It ain't about how hard you hit: It's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. It's how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done." - Rocky Balboa
When I was very young my mother told me the story of Abebe Bikila. The only thing that remained in my memory was his name, and the way that my mom would repeat the name. Abebe Bikila! Who was Abebe Bikila? During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila won the marathon and set a world record. What is even more remarkable, however, is that he won the marathon and set a world record while running barefoot. (It sounds better in Italian though.) Bikila went on to beat his own world record in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, this time with shoes on his feet. He was the first man to win the Olympic marathon twice. He ran 16 marathons and won twelve of them. The rest of his life story is remarkable as well. Abebe Bikila!
(Thanks to my brother Nathaniel for reminding me of this story, and for sharing the link in Italian)
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Suor Angelica had a tough life. She had a child out of wedlock, and as a punishment she was sent to a convent where she was forced to sign away her inheritance. The other nuns in the convent didn't always treat her well. After many years in the convent, she discovered that her young son had died. Her tender heart was rent with anguish, whereupon she concocted and drank a poisonous potion in order to join her son. She realized too late that it was also mortal sin to take her own life. There are many beautiful songs in the opera Suor Angelica, but in the final scene the music and the drama reach a poignant climax as she pleads for forgiveness and then expires.
The BYU School of music's production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi had the entire audience in stitches. (See here for a plot summary) It was as funny as Suor Angelica was sad. Puccini is better known for his operas Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La Bohème, and Turandot, but his trittico, or his three one act operas, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi (the last of which features the famous aria "O Mio Babbino Caro"), are not to be missed.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Check out Edison's laboratory...
He had a jar for every element...
Check out these machines...
Robert Frost's home was cozy...
Webster's library had some fascinating artifacts...
He had a jar for every element...
Check out these machines...
Robert Frost's home was cozy...
... and many other delights.
Like the Louvre and other museums, there was too much to see in just one day.