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    Freedom of the Mind

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    “One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we call upon you students to exercise your God-given right to think through every proposition that is submitted to you and to be unafraid to express your opinions, with proper respect for those to whom you talk and proper acknowledgment of your own shortcomings.

    We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom in the Church and in America and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.

    Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed, there seems to be little time for meditation.

    Dissatisfaction with what is around us is not a bad thing if it prompts us to seek betterment, but the best sort of dissatisfaction in the long run is self-dissatisfaction, which leads us to improve ourselves. Maturity implies the ability to walk alone and not be ashamed within ourselves of the things we do and say.”

    – Hugh B. Brown (First Counselor to Church President David O. McKay), An Eternal Quest – Freedom of the Mind, May 13, 1969

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    A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience

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    Here are a few excerpts from a document titled A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience by Kevin Christensen. It’s pretty fantastic and has some wonderful things to ponder and many interesting observations. I highly recommend a reading of the entire thing because it’s all really great stuff, these are just a few of my favorite parts. I’m definitely interested in reading more Kevin Christensen!


    Numinous Experience p. 3-4
    In a classic study, The Idea of the Holy, Rudolf Otto studied the characteristics of a type of religious encounter that he named the numinous. Ninian Smart sums up numinous experience as “a mystery which is fearful, awe-inspiring, . . . and fascinating.”

    “But above all, the sense of presence which confronts a person in the numinous experience is majestic: marvelous power and glory; in their rather different ways, the experiences of Arjuna, Isaiah, Job, Paul, and Mohammed are all numinous in character.” (The Idea of Holy, Rudolf Otto)


    Combining Numinous and Mystic Experience p.6
    Here, I believe, is an essential distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism—the blend of the numinous and the mystic. This explains the Orthodox discomfort with the Mormon idea of Keep Reading

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    Constructing the Universe With Four Categories of Number

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    “One and two are considered the parents of numbers, not really numbers themselves. And they give birth to the digits three through nine, in other words, trinity to the trinity of trinities. And with that and zero you can create – everything. You know 3 and 4 and 6 and 8 and 12 are considered structural numbers, the numbers nature builds with. 5 and 10 are considered numbers of life…and then 7, 9 and 11 are considered numbers of mystery. They cannot be constructed…with a compass and straight edge. They’re mysteries, they’re here but they’re not here. Like 7, the rainbow, it’s here, the seven colors of the rainbow are there, but nobody can grab it. Seven is always about things you can’t grab, can’t hold on to, the seven notes of the musical scale…same with 9 and 11.”

    (Michael Schneider, Oral Interview, YouTube)

    Parental: 1, 2

    Structural: 3, 4, 6, 8, 12

    Life: 5, 10

    Mystery: 7, 9, 11

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    Terryl Givens – An Approach to Thoughtful, Honest and Faithful Mormonism

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    I transcribed the following from the third part of an interview with Terryl Givens on the Mormon Stories podcast. I can’t remember how I came across this interview, but I remember seeing Terryl Givens’ name which immediately drew my interest. I’m a big fan of Terryl and his wife Fiona, they are delightful people.

    Based on my own research, I am inclined to agree with Terryl’s perspective on many (but not all) things. Here are a few highlights concerning Joseph Smith and the restoration that I find extremely insightful and consistent with my own beliefs. Keep Reading

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    You Might be a Mystic if…

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    Just thought I’d share an old quote I came across again from “Thomas” who was a commenter on a post at TempleStudy.com. I don’t know who this guy is but I like the way he thinks. He shared some very profound truths and here they are for you to enjoy as well.

    “Mysticism is the study or practice of “mysteries”. Therefore mysticism can be defined by the means and methods and not by the resultant experience.

    First, the experience isn’t mystical, it’s metaphysical. Second, mysticism derives from the same Greek root as mystery, and derives much of its meaning from that root. Mystic (of or pertaining to mysteries known by the initiated) with the suffix -ism (denoting action or practice). Experiences vary dramatically, anyway; what doesn’t vary nearly as much, however, is the means and methods.

    Thus, you may be a mystic – not because you seek a transcendental experience, but because you practice mystical rites and ordinances: namely study, meditation, and prayer (among others). By this definition, all mystics practice more or less similar methods, though they may do so for very different reasons.”

    For some additional pondering, I’ll throw in this quote from Joseph Smith:

    “A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” (Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137)

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    Joseph Smith on Truth

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    © Kim Marshall

    © Kim Marshall

    Receiving truth
    “One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 199)

    The best way to obtain truth and wisdom
    “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.” (History of the Church, 4:425)

    Gather all the good and true principles
    “We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”
    (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316)

    We have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth without limitation
    “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft… Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, pp. 53–54; spelling and grammar modernized.)

    Ready to believe all true principles that exist
    “I stated that the most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints … are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.” (History of the Church, 5:215; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book D-1, p. 1433, Church Archives.)

    Limitations on knowledge
    “I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes [limits], and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further’ [Job 38:11]; which I cannot subscribe to.” (History of the Church, 6:57; punctuation modernized; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Oct. 15, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.)

    Pure intelligence
    “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; [that is,] those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (B.H. Roberts, History of the Church 3:381)

    Revealed in the abstract
    “All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” (Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 355)

    The oldest book
    “I thank God that I have got this old book [the Bible]; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments.” (Alma P. Burton, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 343-344)

    Related: Brigham Young on Truth

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    Prayer, our Enemies, and the Poor

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    Some verses in Alma have been on my mind a lot lately. The general flow and message is inspiring and challenging and there are many other little nuggets throughout. I was thinking about how flocks are mentioned here and how important those must have been to people living the law of Moses and their repentance process.

    I indented a few of the verses where I saw a kind of chiastic pattern. It seems to emphasize crying unto God against your enemies and even the ultimate enemy, the devil. It’s difficult for me to think of who my enemies might be, because I can’t think of any. Maybe the principle of praying for enemies allows you to have compassion on them.

    Perhaps I can find some politicians to pray for ;-) We talk of the sustaining support that church leaders need, but do we offer that same, desperately needed, sustaining support to public servants? (even though they may be doing evil things) I think of Ammon who came to serve King Lamoni who would kill his own servants on a regular basis. A tyrant became a humble and good man because a true follower of God expressed real charity instead of the rest of the people who Keep Reading

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    The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

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    I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

    Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

    It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

    I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

    I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intention Keep Reading

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    The Third Member of the Godhead as Described in the Book of Mormon

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    In the King James Version of the Bible, we find the terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit,” while in modern translations we typically see only “Holy Spirit” used. Technically, the modern translations are more correct since the Greek words behind Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are actually the same. So let me repeat this important fact: in the New Testament, there is no distinction between the words (pneuma= ghost, spirit; hagion = holy) that are translated as Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.

    In LDS theology, having these two terms is helpful because we actually do make a distinction between the personage in the Godhead and his influence. Though this distinction exists, the terms do not seem to be Keep Reading

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    Lies and Testimony

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    Every fast and testimony meeting I can’t help but ponder what people mean by what they say. I suppose that only the person themselves really understands what they are trying to do by going up to the stand and speaking. One person might be speaking of real experiences and using better words to express themselves, while another person might be trying to express real yearning and feelings but using the wrong words.

    It’s easy to judge the latter person and dismiss their attempts to express themselves. While one could easily point out the errors in their expressions, even to the point of calling them lies, maybe the judgers should take a deep breath and relax a little. I don’t think those people are necessarily lying or deceiving, let’s take a look at what a lie is: Keep Reading

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