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Bricolage and Eclecticism

There was a conference that went on recently that my brother-in-law brought back to my attention called New Perspectives on Joseph Smith and Translation (His in-law are co-founders of FaithMatters.org). I was interested to hear what this panel of speakers had to say and compare it with an enjoyable MormonMatters podcast I listened to a couple of years back. If you are interested in theories about the mechanics of Joseph Smith’s translation process, these are intriguing resources.

Terryl Givens was a featured speaker at the New Perspectives conference, and I found his association of bricolage with the translation process to be intriguing. Bricolage is a French term that describes the construction of ideas by using whatever is at hand. (Merriam-Webster) In the past, Givens has regarding Joseph Smith being an “inspired eclecticist” and a “sponge.” (An Approach to Thoughtful, Honest and Faithful Mormonism) An eclectic will select “what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles” or will compose from “elements drawn from various sources; (Merriam-Webster)

The Book of Mormon came down to us with a mix of voices. Most notably we seeRead Full Post

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God’s Justice as Taught by the Book of Mormon, Qur’an, and Joseph Smith

These quotes have been sitting in my notebook for a while and a recent conversation with a friend brought them back to my attention. What I find remarkable is how nicely they fit together and convey this idea that all people on earth have been given a portion of God’s light and truth. The Qur’an and Joseph quotes talk about a reconciliation in the afterlife when more will be revealed as to how this all works. Personally, I find these teachings bring great peace of mind and understanding when pondered. I have found tremendous insights from other faith traditions around the world that have brought me closer to God and my fellow man. Read Full Post

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The Symbiosis of Faith and Hope

In Neal A. Maxwell’s 1984 general conference talk Brightness of Hope he said the following:

“In the geometry of restored theology, hope has a greater circumference than faith. If faith increases, the perimeter of hope stretches correspondingly.”

Elder Maxwell points out that as faith increases, so also does hope. Hope is an interesting thing, I have come to define it as: “everything that dwells within the sphere of what you actually believe is possible.” Faith is your hand pushing a flashlight out into the darkness and everything within the beam of light represents hope. Faith fuels hope which in turn, leads faith.

If we point the flashlight down toward our feet, the circle of light shrinks and the darkness crowds us in. Faith and hope either grow together or they wither together. If you don’t believe that something is possible, then you will not hope for it and you will not move to attain it.

When the idea of something crosses our mind, we have the ability to desire it and begin to think about how we might achieve the object of our desires. We begin to Read Full Post

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I’ve Had a Change of Heart and I’m Stepping Away

By now, I’m sure most are familiar with the recent shooting in Las Vegas. This one hit close to home because I just moved back to Texas from Las Vegas after living there for 9 years. A friend of my sister-in-law was shot twice in at that concert yesterday.

What disturbed me more than this event was how I felt about it. I lacked a deep and profound horror at the senseless loss of life; I thought, “Here we go again with another shooting.” As I reflected on my feelings or lack thereof, I felt that I had become desensitized to these violent acts. Three things came to mind that solidified into a firm resolve, and I’d like to share my thoughts.Read Full Post

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The Three Duties of the Gentiles

At the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith offered a prayer he received by revelation, “Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” (D&C 109:60) The Latter-day Saints are identified with the Gentiles.

In order for the Gentiles to be saved the must do three things:

  1. Repent
  2. Fight not against Zion
  3. Do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church.

“…for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.” – 2 Nephi 6:12

Repent

“The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God…” LDS Bible Dictionary

Q: How do we as Latter-day Saints unintentionally miss out on true repentance?Read Full Post

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The Mother, the Dove, Mercy, and the Holy Spirit

For the past couple of years, I’ve been coming across fascinating tidbits of information that appear to show connections between the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Mother. During a recent morning family scripture study in 1 Nephi 11 I noticed a couple interesting things and I’ll share some of the details.

In verse 16, the angel asks Nephi “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” When Nephi appears to not know the answer, (vs.17) the angel shows him this beautiful, fair virgin again and reveals that she is “the mother of the Son of God” (vs.18) and she is shown with a child in her arms. (vs.20) The angel tells Nephi that this child is “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (vs.21)

The angel then asks Nephi another question: “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (vs.21) Nephi answers knowingly that the tree “is the love of God.” (vs.22) Nephi then sees many people worship Jesus and explains his understanding of the iron rod and the fountain of water. (vs.24-25)

Now that Nephi understands the meaning of the tree the angel says “Look and behold the condescension of God!” (vs.23) It is at this point that the angel shows Nephi key events in the life of Jesus from his baptism to his crucifixion. What I want to focus on what I believe are parallel elements that follow the two verses that mention the phrase “the condescension of God.”

There is a distinct mother and son presence in these verses and it isn’t quite obvious at first. We see the Spirit mentioned in direct conjunction with a birth and a rebirth account as well; these things are significant so take note!Read Full Post

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The Lost in Nephi’s Vision

“And I also beheld… a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree…” (1 Nephi 8:21)

It seems like this represents everyone in the world all searching for “the path” the truth and the meaning of life, a connection with the divine. Nobody begins on the path, they must search for it.

“And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree. And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” (vs.22-23)

One group of people that found that path went forward and followed it, but thenRead Full Post

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Why the Sons of Helaman Could Not Be Killed via IsaiahInstitute.com

The following is from the Isaiah Institute site and was written by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D. Here is a link to the original and I encourage oneClimbs readers to leave comments for Bro. Gileadi there as well if they feel so inclined.

Copyright Clark Kelly Price

What was it the Lamanite mothers “knew” that convinced them to entrust their young sons to Helaman to lead them in battle against a ferocious enemy that far outnumbered them? Helaman said of them, “They never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:47–48).

Some background to these youths’ firmness of mind may explain the fearlessness their mothers had instilled in their sons: Traditionally, the Lamanites followed the emperor–vassal system of government that had prevailed throughout the ancient Near East. In brief, an emperor such as King Laman or an heir of Laman, the eldest son, ruled over a number of vassal kings and their city-states in his empire. As in the Hittite, Israelite, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires, the emperor was called the “father” of his vassal kings, and they were called his “sons.”

We see an example of this in King Lamoni’s relationship to his “father,” the Lamanite emperor at that time, “who was king over all the land” (Alma 18:9). Although Lamoni was called his “son,” vassal kings were Read Full Post

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Behind the Beheading: A Case for Scriptural Knowledge

In 1 Nephi chapter 4 right at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we encounter a narrative where a young man is instructed by God to kill an unconscious individual.

I have to admit, on the surface, this is not a very appealing idea to entertain. I would like to share some insights to this account in hopes that it can offer some reasons as to why this happened the way that it did and what Nephi’s motivations may have been.Read Full Post

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Certainty and Actual Knowledge

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him. (Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You)

“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

“Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” (2 Nephi 28:29-30)

There is a school of thought out there that I have come across that frowns uponRead Full Post

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The Way is Prepared

“Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.” – Alma 41:8

Alma said these words to a struggling son named Corianton who had committed some serious sins. There are three important principles outlined in this sentence that go along with some other observations I have made in recent weeks.

  1. God’s decrees cannot be altered.
  2. The way is prepared.
  3. Whoever walks in the way will be saved.

To some, the idea of God being unchangeable may sound constricting and limiting. But imagine how frustrating it would be if you were trying to design an airplane and the laws of physics just kept changing on you continually. Imagine trying to bake a cake when all of a sudden it required cold to cook instead of heat. Imagine if electricity all of a sudden worked like water and water like electricity.Read Full Post

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Male and Female Make One

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, […] all things must needs be a compound in one…” (2 Nephi 2:11)

There is a binary aspect to everything in God’s work; light and darkness, good and evil, heaven and earth, male and female, etc. As I read the end of Genesis ch. 2 this morning, these things came to mind again.

The Hebrew word for covenant briyth (ber-eeth) means to cut, and then we have this word “cleave,” a single word that has two opposing meanings: “To part or divide by force” or “To unite or be united closely in interest or affection.” It is a bit paradoxical, but I think there is a pattern of interest concerning dividing and uniting things.Read Full Post

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7 Years and 455 posts!

I always forget that July 1st is the official year mark, but another year has gone by and the blog is up to 455 posts! When I think of everything I’ve studied and learned up to this point, I eagerly await what the future will unfold.

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Statements on Animal Life From LDS Leaders and Publications

The following is a master list of references that I have collected over the years that I will continue to expand to as necessary. Several years ago I wrote a blog post on the Word of Wisdom that was the result of several months of research and many of these quotes were discovered then. There was an event in my life, well, a series of events but one in particular that prompted me to seek a greater understanding of animal life as it pertains to the Word of Wisdom and in the context of the gospel.

I’m posting these references here with as much context that I feel is appropriate for my own personal use and if anyone else out there finds value in these teachings. If you find any additional quotes that you think might be worth adding to this list, post them in the comments section.Read Full Post

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Lehi Likes the Fruit, Nephi Likes the Tree

In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)

In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.

Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3

Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.

The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.

Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).

What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.

If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.

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Heed Them Not

I can’t think of a more spot-on description of the virtual, media-fueled cloud of blabbering that surrounds us than the great and spacious building mentioned first in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon.

The building had the characteristics of being large, spacious, and stood in the air, high above the earth. (1 Nephi 8:26) One implication is that this building had no foundation. It was filled will all kinds of people of every age and sex, and they all wore very fine clothes.

It seems that the principal activity of these people was to mock, scoff, and point their fingers at the people who were partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. (vs.27) Their mocking caused some people to feel ashamed and fall “away into forbidden paths” (vs.28) and become lost.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to put the blameRead Full Post

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We Witness His Resurrection Every Seventh Day

Every Sabbath day, we witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Symbols of his body and blood rest on trays between white linens in a manner that resembles an actual body. When the ordinance begins, the white linens are drawn back and his body rises from the altar (table). The tokens of his body and blood travel out into the congregation and are placed before every individual member.

With our hand, we reach, grasp, lift and partake. We witness that we are willing to take the name of Christ upon us, to keep his commandments and always remember him. We take all this into our inner-most places, our minds, our hearts, and even our bowels (the seat of compassion).

The bread and wine (water) first enter our mouth on their journey and pass by our mind, then down our throat passing our heart, and then reach the bowels where they are absorbed into our entire bodies as nourishment. These tokens literally become part of us, transforming us; implying something much more profound.

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Notes From the Climb: May 2017

Men are that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25)

The word “joy” as found in the following standard works:

  • D&C: 42 times
  • New Testament: 72 times
  • Old Testament: 137 times
  • Book of Mormon: 145 times

“…my soul was filled with joy…” (Alma 36:20 )

“…there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (vs.21)

“…that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (vs.24)

“…the fruit […] was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted.” (1 Nephi 8:11)

“…And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy…” (vs.12)

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul. (1 Nephi 11:21-23)

“…they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.” (Helaman 5:44)

“…the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire…” (vs.45)

Taste: to try the relish of by the perception of the organs of taste; to distinguish intellectually; the sense by which we perceive the relish of a thing; judgment; discernment. (Websters 1828 Dictionary)

“I leave something on that tray when I take that bread.” (Bro. Brown, gospel doctrine teacher, TX)

The Sabbath becomes holy when we have separated it from the days of labor, when we have created something new, when it becomes a sign between us and God of a living relationship and a covenant.

God is not intimidated by others ascending, in fact, he desires it above all other things.

Those that truly follow God will inevitably become a paradox to others. This will challenge the follower’s faith as well as that of those around them.

Bread and wine are not naturally occurring, they are the result of man’s intervention. Jesus chose two food sources that took planning and effort to produce. One is a solid, and one is a liquid. One comes from grass, the other from a vine. Both require a crushing process to create. One is chewed the other is not. Both can be prepared and served with or without a fermentation process. Fermentation causes the bread to spoil quicker, while it makes the wine last longer.

We worry too much about “what’s next” instead of “what’s now.”

Words are not truth, they only describe truth. They are like metaphors or symbols, they are not really the things they describe. Herein lies their weakness, but also their power. Weakness because they can never truly capture reality, and power because of their potential to lead one to it.

“Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips—For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority. Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off. Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit;…” (D&C 60-62,64)

Forgiveness is a recognition of a higher justice, an acknowledgement that injustice will not ultimately prevail. There is no forgiveness without love. God does not seek to merely satisfy justice, he desires oneness.

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Super Amazing Dinosaur Fossil Discovery!

I’m a big fan of dinosaurs, I mean, who isn’t? I saw this article a few days ago and it blew my mind. They found these fossilized remains of a nodosaur and they are so well preserved that it almost looks like it is sleeping. I don’t have any gospel-related angles on this, it’s just really rad and an amazing discovery. Here’s a link to the full article and more photos.Read Full Post

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C.S. Lewis on Symbolism

“Symbolism exists precisely for the purpose of conveying to the imagination what the intellect is not ready for.”

– Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, Vol. II (San Francisco, 2004), 565

My good friend Rick N. sent this quote my way via the @CSLewisDaily twitter feed. This quote is new to me and I think it is wonderful for how well it captures the essence of what symbolism can do. It reminds me a lot of this post where I shared a story about how I answered my 4-year old’s question with a sign instead of the literal answer which unfortunately would have been incomprehensible to her.

I also love how this quote includes imagination in the equation. Sometimes we may only consider symbolism and the potential meanings while forgetting the role imagination plays in helping us explore the possibilities. I feel as if I have discovered a hidden door in a familiar room and I am thrilled to see what awaits on the other side.

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