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Two: The Exploration of Archetypal Symbols Series

Just like the number one was not considered a number by the ancients, two was also in the same boat.

When you start with one point and then add a second point, you have just created distance which can be represented by connecting the two points into a single line but a “line” doesn’t exist in nature just like a single point doesn’t exist in nature.

Thus, two was not considered a ‘number’ but, like one, an originator of numbers.

“In the Dyad we see the Monad refract as Two. The Dyad emphasized difference. It foreshadows the world’s apparent boundaries, conflict and echoes our own sense of separation. Opposites appear when separateness begins. (A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, by Michael Schneider – 1st ed., 36)

This is where things get interesting. Ponder the prior quote when reading Lehi’s words in 2 Nephi 2:11-13:Read Full Post

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One: The Exploration of Archetypal Symbols Series

Interestingly enough, the number “one” wasn’t considered a “number” according to many groups like the Pythagoreans (around 500 B.C). One was the progenitor of all numbers, it was the source by which all numbers came into being. It represented unity, but not any kind of unity that was conceivable in this world.

Confused? Think about it, a single point does not exist anywhere in nature. Even a dot on a sheet of paper is not a point, because upon magnification, we find a circle that has a radius and circumference so therefore it doesn’t constitute an actual point without sides, length, height and depth. Because of this otherworldly connotation of one, it had divine qualities attached to it. “Just as unity is in every number / thus God the one is everwhere in everything” – Angelus Silesius (The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, by Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism and ARAS, 710)

The shape that is best suited to represent the number one is a circle. A shape without sides or other dimensions, the center of the circle becomes emblematic of the invisible point that we know as “one”. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the single point radiates outward into endless circles. The circle can represent:

  • God
  • Unity
  • Heaven
  • Eternity (eternal time)
  • Covenants (circumcision, arrangement of people or objects in a circle)
  • Blood (the sacrament cup, properties of liquid)
  • The Spirit (via the symbolism of the Liahona)
  • A complete cycle (orbit, seasons, return, etc)
  • Water (water pulls itself into a spherical shape, ie: drops)
  • Bounds or Perimeter (Proverbs 8:27  When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:)
  • Space
  • The Sun
  • The Moon

Since a compass is the tool used to create circles, the compass may also beRead Full Post

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Natural Rights and Civil Rights as Taught by Thomas Paine

“Natural rights are those which always appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the rights of others.”

“Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.”

And there you have it, two points beautifully illustrated by the incomparable Thomas Paine.

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The “All-Seeing-Eye” Symbol and the Urim and Thummim Connection


Chances are that you are familiar with the “All-seeing-eye” symbol, but your feelings toward it vary on the context that is it presented in. There are connections to this symbol ranging from the Masons, to the so-called New World Order, the occult and, yes, Christianity.

Probably one of the most common usages of it is on the back of our one dollar bill. The eye is topped with the words “Annuit Coeptis,” which means “He approves (or has approved) [our] undertakings” the ‘He’ being God indicating his approval of our actions during the Revolutionary War.

The eye within a triangle shows up anciently in Egyptian mythology, Buddism andRead Full Post

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Documentary: That Promised Day

This is an amazing documentary and I’m so glad that the story is finally able to be told for all of us to enjoy!

Link to BYU TV

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Has the final thread snapped?

The now famous or infamous “White Horse” prophecy is something that has made the rounds over the years. It is an alleged record of a prophecy recorded by Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley who claim that they heard Joseph Smith make some predictions in their own home around May 6, 1843.

It may very well be all true and recorded accurately, partially true at least, but some of the details of the statement are in doubt since we don’t have record of Joseph stating many of the details elsewhere. The main oft-repeated idea from the ‘prophecy’ is the concept that the Constitution of the United States would “hang by a thread” and that the “Elders of Israel” or “The Church” would be the means somehow “preserve” it or “bear it away” from total destruction.

President Joseph F. Smith said in the October 1918 General Conference  said that the prophecy “…was never spoken by the prophet in the manner in which they [Rushton and Turley] have put it forth.” What Joseph Smith actually said, that we have record of was:

“Even this nation will be on the verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is on the brink of ruin this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” – President Joseph Smith, Jr (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City)

Eliza R. Snow recollected Joseph Smith saying:Read Full Post

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The Gospel Vision of the Arts by Spencer W. Kimball

Spencer W. Kimball, “The Gospel Vision of the Arts,” Tambuli, Feb. 1978, 1

In our world, there have risen brilliant stars in drama, music, literature, sculpture, painting, science, and all the fields of excellence. For long years I have had a vision of members of the Church greatly increasing their already strong positions of excellence till the eyes of all the world will be upon us.

President John Taylor so prophesied, as he emphasized his words with this directive:

“You mark my words, and write them down and see if they do not come to pass.

“You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.

“God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings hearing of her fame will come and gaze upon her glory. …” (September 20, 1857; see The Messenger, July 1953.)Read Full Post

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A Visit to the Decalogue Stone at Hidden Mountain

A week ago, I had the opportunity to visit the famous decalogue or “ten commandments” stone outside of Los Lunas, New Mexico. I didn’t have much time to spend with it, but I was able to snap some up-close photos which can be hard to find. I’ll have to admit, I love stuff like this. I felt a little bit like Indiana Jones tracking down some kind of ancient artifact.

Here are the coordinates if you’d like to find the stone yourself (Easy as hunting a geocache): 34.785217°N 106.996512°W

Finding the entrance to the mountain is a little tricky. I wasn’t sure where to find the way over to the mountain because there was fencing all along the way with no roads in. I followed the road along the fence up to this small, white checkpoint and found that it was the entrance to a dump. I told the guy that I was looking for the stone and he knew exactly what I was talking about; it was apparent that I wasn’t the first to have asked him about this. He instructed me park about 50 yards away and go through this gap in the gate.

Follow the directions!

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Parley P. Pratt’s call to the Apostleship

In accordance with one of the early revelations to the Church concerning the calling and ordination of Twelve Apostles, this quorum was now being filled. Among those chosen for this high and holy calling was my brother Orson and myself. He being still absent, and the other members having been already ordained, a meeting was convened at Kirtland, and very numerously attended, in which, on the 21st day of February, 1835, I took the oath and covenant of apostleship, and was solemnly set apart and ordained to that office; and as a member of that quorum under the hands of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer; the minutes of which in the Church History are as follows:

“Kirtland, February 21st, 1835. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting of the Church was held, and, after prayer by President David Whitmer, and a short address by President Oliver Cowdery to the congregation, Elder Parley P. Pratt was called to the stand, and ordained one of the Twelve by President Joseph Smith, Jr., David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. ‘O, Lord, smile from heaven upon this thy servant; forgive his sins, sanctify his heart, and prepare him to receive the blessing. Increase his love for thee and for thy cause; increase his intelligence, communicate to him all that wisdom, that prudence and that understanding which he needs as a minister of righteousness, and to magnify the apostleship whereunto he is called.

“May a double portion of that Spirit which was communicated to the disciples of our Lord and Saviour, to lead them to all truth, rest down upon him, and go with him where he goes, that nothing shall prevail against him; that he may be delivered from prisons, from the power of his enemies, and from the adversary of all righteousness.Read Full Post

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The Constitution—A Glorious Standard by Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Glorious Standard”, Ensign, Sept. 1987, 6

From an address delivered at a BYU devotional held Tuesday, 16 September 1986, in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Constitution of the United States.

On the 17th day of September, 1987, we commemorate the two-hundredth birthday of the Constitutional Convention, which gave birth to the document that Gladstone said is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”1

I heartily endorse this assessment, and I would like to pay honor—honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth.

To understand the significance of the Constitution, we must first understand some basic, eternal principles. These principles have their beginning in the premortal councils of heaven.

Some Basic Principles

The first basic principle is agency. The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force.Read Full Post

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The Sower, the Tree of Life and the Degrees of Glory

We have a parable and two visions to look at here. The parable of the sower is a familiar New Testament parable related by Jesus Christ to a multitude from a ship on the sea shore about the various types of ground certain seeds were cast on to. The first vision is an account in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named Lehi who sees a vision revolving around a tree of life and a description of the various types of people he observes. The second vision is an account from Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the degrees of glory that exist in the hereafter and a description of the characteristics of those inhabitants.

The Sower

In the parable of the sower, we are taught by the Master about seeds cast into various situations and what the consequences were. The parable is found in Matthew 13 in the New Testament.

  1. Good ground: (Brought forth fruit; some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.)
    Interpretation: To those that hear the word and understand it, they will all bear fruit but at varying degrees.
  2. The way side: (Fowls came and devoured them up)
    Interpretation: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, but doesn’t understand it the adversary can come and steal away whatever was sown in his heart.
  3. Thorns: (The thorns sprung up, and choked them.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
  4. Stony places: (There was not much earth so when they sprung up they were scorched by the sun because they had no root and they withered away.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word and receives it gladly but because ‘he hath not root in himself’, he endures for a while but is immediately offended when tribulation and persecution arise.

Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

In Lehi’s vision there are multitudes of people pressing towardRead Full Post

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The Inner Life of a Cell – Amazing!

I’ve always wondered how deep this complexity goes; we’re not even looking at things at the sub-atomic level! I think we all can agree that life is amazing and precious. Even the smallest creature is a world within itself.

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Receive the Holy Ghost by David A. Bednar

I absolutely loved this talk by Elder Bednar. Some of the things he said confirmed some impressions that I had and shed some new light on a very interesting topic.

Talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

October 2010 General Conference

My message focuses on the importance of striving in our daily lives to actually receive the Holy Ghost. I pray for and invite the Spirit of the Lord to instruct and edify each of us.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

In December of 1839, while in Washington, D.C., to seek redress for the wrongs done to the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee wrote to Hyrum Smith: “In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 97).Read Full Post

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But If Not

The following is an excerpt from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. Whatever you may think of the man, when a person speaks something truthful, it deserves to be heard by all who love and cherish the truth (if you disagree, you might want to read what old Brother Brigham said about the subject.)

But let me move now to the basic point of the message. Know this morning, if we forget everything I’ve said, I hope you won’t forget this. It came to the point after saying “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but! if he doesn’t deliver us, we still are not gonna bow.” “But if not” — do you get that? That these men were saying that “Our faith is so deep and that we’ve found something so dear and so precious that nothing can turn us away from it. Our God is able to deliver us, but if not…” This simply means, my friends, that the ultimate test of one’s faith is his ability to say “But if not.” You see there is what you may call an ‘if’ faith, and there is a ‘though’ faith. And the permanent faith, the lasting, the powerful faith is the ‘though’ faith. Now the ‘if’ faith says, “If all goes well; if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy; if I don’t have to go to jail; if I don’t have to face the agonies and burdens of life; if I’m not ever called bad names because of taking a stand that I feel that I must take; if none of these things happen, then I’ll have faith in God, then I’ll be alright.” That’s the ‘if’ faith. You know, a lot of people have the ‘if’ faith. Jacob found himself in that dilemma once, and his faith was contingent on an if. And he said “Now if God will be with me and if he will keep me in this way that I go; and if God will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God.” That’s the ‘if’ faith; Jacob hadn’t quite gotten to the essence of religion.

There is a ‘though’ faith, though. And the ‘though’ faith says “Though things go wrong; though evil is temporarily triumphant; though sickness comes and the cross looms, neverthless! I’m gonna believe anyway and I’m gonna have faith anyway; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” And old Job got to that point, he had a ‘though’ faith. He looked out and everything that he had had been taken away from him, and even his wife said to him “Now, what you ought to do, Brother Job, is to curse God and die. God has been unkind to you, and you should have let God know a long time ago that you would only follow him if he allowed you to stay rich, if he allowed your cattle to stay in place. You ought to curse him and die, Job, because he hasn’t treated you right.” But Job said “Honey, I’m sorry but my faith is deeper than that. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. My faith is a ‘though’ faith.” And this is the essence of life and religion. The question is whether you have an ‘if’ faith, or whether you have a ‘though’ faith.

You know what this says in substance, that ultimately religion is not a bargaining matter. A lot of people bargain with God. “If you just let me avoid pain, God; if you allow me to be happy in all of its dimensions; if you don’t allow any suffering any suffering to come; if you don’t allow frustrating moments to come, then I’ll be alright, I’ll give you a tenth of my income, and I’ll go to church and I’ll have faith in you.” But religion is not a bargaining experience, it’s not a commercial relationship. And you know, no great experience in the bargaining atmosphere. Think of friendship, think of love, and think of marriage. These things are not based on ‘if,’ they’re based on ‘though.’ These great experiences are not based on a bargaining relationship, not an ‘if’ faith, but a ‘though’ faith.

And I’m coming to my conclusion now. And I want to say to you this morning, my friends, that somewhere along the way you should discover something that’s so dear, so precious to you, that is so eternally worthful, that you will never give it up. You ought to discover some principle, you ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up. Somehow you go on and say “I know that the God that I worship is able to deliver me, but if not, I’m going on anyhow, I’m going to stand up for it anyway. What does this mean? It means, in the final analysis, you do right not to avoid hell. If you’re doing right merely to keep from going to something that traditional theology has called hell then you aren’t* doing right. If you do right merely to go to a condition that theologians have called heaven, you aren’t doing right. If you are doing right to avoid pain and to achieve happiness and pleasure then you aren’t doing right. Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say “But if not.” You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love. You must be just because it’s right to be just. You must be honest because it’s right to be honest. This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary.

This is my favorite part:

And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something. The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.


Pretty awesome stuff. The whole speech is great, I get pumped up whenever I read it. Like I said, I love truth, wherever it may be found.


Updated: November 14, 2010

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Flash Mob Signs Hallelujah Chorus in Mall

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Defining and understanding “Charity”

They don’t write definitions the way they used to anymore. This is just one more great reason why I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. The standard definition for ‘selfish’ is pretty straightforward, but then you come to ‘selfishly’ and then POW, you’ve got some brilliantly delivered doctrine!

SELF’ISHLY, adv. The exclusive of a person to his own interest or happiness; or that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.

So if we want to dig a little deeper here, we will find a profound truth. We are used to two ends of a spectrum in our faith, we usually speak of pride and humility. But, in my opinion there is something more specifically worse than pride and infinitely greater than humility; it is selfishness on one end and at the other end, charity, which is the benevolence of Christ.

So what isRead Full Post

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Atonement and the sacred thou at the center of Joseph Smith’s Revelations by Blake T. Ostler

Visit for more books, articles and information about Blake T. Ostler

by Blake T. Ostler

Blake T. Ostler

It is significant, for reasons that I will explain shortly, that Joseph Smith did not arrive at his understanding based on a theological analysis. Given his penchant for the prophetic, it is understandable that his views are not expressed as a systematic logic of carefully crafted axioms and assumptions. His ideas are not the result of logical calculation but of sacred revelation, not of evidential proof but of intimate experience. His views are expressed as rhetorical exhortations and devotional observations rather than analysis and argument. His religious vision was more like sparks flying from a flint wheel than a seamless fabric of postulates and premises. However, these sparks did not careen off the wheel at random; rather, they flashed in a common direction and in interesting patterns. His insights are like embers of thought deep in the heart seeking to catch fire; like fuel for creative contemplation.Read Full Post

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What does “holocaust” mean? Most people might instantly without thinking throw out a reference to the mass slaughter of humans (esp. Jews) by the Nazis during World War 2.

To illustrate, a person on Yahoo Answers asked the question: “Why is the holocaust called the ‘holocaust?” To which the ‘best answer chosen’ was:

“Because the word “holocaust” means “an act of mass destruction,” in the case of “The” Holocaust it was the mass destruction of 11 million lives.”

Technically the word “holocaust” doesn’t mean “an act of mass destruction.” That may be what the general understanding of the word today is, but words are complex things and most often have intriguing histories behind them.

Let’s turn to a modern dictionary to find out. defines “holocaust” as:

  1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
  2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) the systematic massslaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration campsduring World War II (usually prec. by the ).
  4. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

Sounds pretty much like what we would have expected to find inRead Full Post

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Sacrament: The Witness of the Willing

The idea of ‘renewing’ a covenant seems initially kind of strange when I think about it. A covenant is a contract so if you break the terms of the contract isn’t the contract null and void? Why do we have to keep renewing a promise that we have already made? Or how about this: Why would God make a covenant with man, if he knows that every single one of us will break it?

I was thinking back to the era of the Law of Moses. God made covenants with Israel, yet they still had these sin and peace offerings that they could make from time to time as needed. So what exactly is going on here with the covenants we make today? When doctrinal issues seem a bit muddled, it’s always best to go to back to the source and break everything down into digestible parts.

Let’s examine the sacrament prayers themselves for more insight on the covenants we make.

The blessing on the bread:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

First, we learn that we are eating the bread in remembranceRead Full Post

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Understanding the atonement by understanding the body

Many of the following quotes were obtained by a presentation given at BYU by Philip A. Allred called “Made Holy in the Body“.

The body is a recording device.

Our body is literally a recording device, it is equipped with at least five known senses with which we take in the world around us. With our brain, we process the information and with our will we determine what to do with it. Here are some quotes from Presidents of the Church on this topic.

From President John Taylor:

“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)

From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)

Again from Pres. Taylor:

God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).

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