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    Boundaries & Becoming

    Boundaries define everything that exists. Boundaries are where chaos ends and existence begins. Boundaries tell us what something is and what it isn’t.

    “[Christ’s] salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else;”  Lecture 7:9

    If we read the various creation accounts in Genesis, Moses and Abraham we see God dividing things. By dividing light from darkness he created a boundary, whereas before there would have been nothing. He divided the waters of the firmament, the seas from the land, animal life from the seas and land, man from the earth, and the woman from the man. Finally, mankind was divided from God during the fall.

    Each of these steps was an act of division. Division is creation because dividing creates boundaries, and in the process something new is defined. Living organisms all start with a single cell that divides billions of times to form what could be any variety of complex life.

    Computers work on a binary system that begins with a 1 and a 0, electricity and no electricity, something and nothing. From that 1 and 0, you can create infinite strings of digits that can be crafted to produce entire worlds Read Full Post

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    Audio: Stages of Faith With Jon Paulien

    If you aren’t familiar with James W. Fowler’s research on what he calls the “stages of faith” then you might be missing out on some good stuff.

    There has been a lot written about Fowler’s research and I think it provides a helpful framework for understanding the dynamics of various individuals in a faith community. I think it is safe to say that most understand that different people are on different levels of spirituality and understanding, but I’m not sure we understand what the implications of being at those levels are.

    Here is the full audio of a Seventh Day Adventist speaker named Jon Paulien talking about the stages of faith in great detail. I particularly enjoyed the last third of this recording and it got better and better until the end. I invite you to listen to the whole thing as it contains some truly inspired words and counsel. I originally came across this resource at Bill Reel’s Mormon Discussion Podcast.

    Stages of Faith Audio

    Have you ever observed someone that you thought was very spiritual but they often seem to be borderline “apostate” in some ways? Do you consider yourself knowledgeable in spiritual things and often feel like everyone else at church just Read Full Post

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    Truths that Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone Continues to Reveal

    When I first saw the pictures of Joseph Smith’s primary seer stone my first thought was, “Oh, cool, I’m glad they released some pictures. I knew it was a small, chocolate-colored stone but I didn’t realize it had stripes.” and that was that.

    I see conversations around the web indicating that some members of the Church are upset about the seer stone and the part it played in our history. Some were unaware of its existence, but I remember learning about it as a teenager. I didn’t know that much about the process of the translation and how the seer stone and Interpreters fit into the picture, but I did when I cared enough to research it on my own.

    Skeptics find humor in the seer stone looking like just a plain old rock and are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to further paint Joseph Smith as an occultic scheister.

    Instead of trying to address all of the legitimate concerns and questions, I want to write about my own perspective and the much larger themes at play.
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    Why Immerse in the Mikveh?

    Immersion in the mikveh (sometimes pronounced mikvah) actualizes the transition between the convert’s old identity and his or her new one as a Jew.

    By Rabbi Maurice Lamm

    Excerpted with permission from Becoming a Jew (Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.).

    What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all-encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism?

    Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. This leaves the person floating–momentarily suspended without breathing–substituting the usual forward moving nature and purposeful stride that characterize his or her waking movements with an aimlessness, a weightlessness, a detachment from Read Full Post

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    Mikveh: Jewish ritual immersion in water

    A recent post on Junior Ganymede mentions the ritual bath called a mikveh where Jews practiced ritual immersions in pools of water. The parallels to Christian baptism (which means to dip or immerse) are many. In both rituals the purpose of the immersion is a symbolic cleansing or refreshing. Anciently, immersion in a mikveh was required for those converting to Judaism.

    Today, these are the modern cases in which a mikveh is used:

    • by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth;
    • by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity (see details below);
    • as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism;
    • to immerse newly acquired utensils used in serving and eating food.

    The Wikipedia article I’ve been referencing here cites a source that says “The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.” (Berlin, Meshib Dabar, 2:45)

    These ritual immersions can happen many times throughout the year for many reasons. It was a powerful physical reminder of Read Full Post

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    “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.”

    Listen-to-everyone-and-learn-from-everyone-because-nobody-knows-everything-but-everyone-knows-something

    Many are concerned with truth and how to obtain it. There are many ideas about what truth is, where it can be found, and how it can be discerned. There are deep concerns about being misled by false ideas and false prophets.

    Just the other day I had a conversation with a member about gathering truth in from other religions and cultures in the spirit of what Joseph Smith and others have taught. I was looked at a little skeptically and asked, “Are we… supposed to be doing that?” More and more I find such as perspective to be out of sync with Latter-day Saint theology, though it seems par for the course with Latter-day Saint culture insofar as I have experienced it. I mean, don’t we heard non-LDS individuals quoted in General Conference quite often? (Yes, I’m talking about you C.S. Lewis)

    Tribal pride caution

    Like many other groups, we are proud of our own and we expect great things to come from among us because Read Full Post

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    The Eye of God or Man?

    I was looking at this picture of the Salt Lake Temple the other day and had a thought. Typically, the “all-seeing eye” of God is depicted within a triangle and not an oval. This version also has a veil-like curtain that looks like it is being removed from the eye.

    That’s when I wondered if this is isn’t depicting God’s eye at all, but man’s. God would not need to have a veil removed from his eyes. Does he even perceive us through a veil or it is just that our vision is obscured by one? I think it’s the latter of the two.

    I think this symbol is depicting an experience that the temple has been constructed to facilitate.

    eye

     

    There’s the matter of these 28 sun-like rays emanating from the oval that I’d like to address next.

    I saw two sets of a 28-pointed star in the celestial room of a particular temple one evening a few years ago. No joke, the very next morning I was Read Full Post

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    Tutorial on How to Use LDS Symbol Cards

    I created LDS Symbol Cards but didn’t really do much in the way of providing instructions. I thought I’d put together a little video that explains their origins and how I use them personally. Even if you don’t have any cards, but still like symbolism, there are some cool little nuggets in there. If you have ordered some LDS Symbol Cards in the past, I’d love to hear any personal insights or ways that you use them in the comments below.

    If you bought some cards, I’d really appreciate a review over here.

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    Personalizing the Sacrament Prayers

    O God, my Eternal Father, I ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to my soul as I partake of it; for I eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that I am willing to take upon myself the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given me, that I may always have his Spirit to be with me. Amen.

    O God, my Eternal Father, I ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water to my soul as I drink of it, for I do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for me; that I may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that I do always remember him, that I may have his Spirit to be with me. Amen.

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    An Amazing Creation Sequence With a Surprising Twist

    I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.

    In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.

    At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.

    In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.

    It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.

    All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.

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