Temples

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Jellyfish and Temple Teachings

My father has worked for most of his life in residential marine construction and I used to spend a lot of time on job sites throughout my childhood. We worked down by the Gulf of Mexico and were well-acquainted with the sea life there.

There were a variety of jellyfish species that lived in the water and while I didn’t know all of their names, I knew which ones to stay away from! There was a small kind of jellyfish that would be plentiful in the waters from time to time. Whether they were babies or full-grown, I don’t know, but there was something fascinating about them that I’ll never forget.

In the water the jellyfish looked almost identical to this Ctenophora “Comb Jellyfish” pictured below:

These creatures were covered in flashing lights and in the water they were beautiful, they had form and structure and were like nothing else that you would see outside of the water. I would want a closer look so I would cup my hands and capture one; but this is what a jellyfish looks like when you remove it from the water:

It looks like a dull, amorphous blob. Interesting how something so beautiful can look so plain, unattractive and meaningless just by removing it from its element.

To see their beauty, temple teachings must remain immersed in a temple context.

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The Mountain and the Climb

The symbol of a mountain is a common archetype in religious traditions and is it any wonder? Their everlasting stability, their untouchable heights and the way the light paints them in quiet mornings and sets them afire in evenings have always inspired man.

Within the LDS faith, the mountain has a special meaning. I suppose that one of the most immediate correlations would probably be to the temples.

The same way that the Lord’s voice can be heard through scripture, he speaks to us through number, shape, color, light and movement in nature, in temples, in our dreams and visions and in many other circumstances. Everything in our perception can teach us if we have ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to touch and a heart that yearns for virtue.

The mountain; it is a striking visual symbol encompassing many ideas, sermons and truths. Perhaps the mountain peak represents the final destination of man or the ultimate height one can achieve with only God as a way to ascend higher. What I find especially fascinating isn’t the mountain itself, but the climb.

The climb teaches us, it requires strength and in turn makes us strong, it is brutal, unforgiving and perilous.

It seems safer to stay at the bottom, but is it? What if the point of life isn’t to make it safely to death? What if we spend our lives dragging our way to the top but never make it? What is at the top? Is reaching the top of the mountain really even necessary if the point is the climb?

Perhaps the climb begins with covenants. Under covenant, life and every experience of every moment are another rock, another precipice, another dreadful cliff, treacherous winds and a host of spectacular terrain.

Everything becomes the climb; what you do right after you wake up, how you treat your family, friends and enemies, what you do and think when you are alone, how you apply your talents, how you deal with fear, how you handle knowledge and what your attitude is concerning the things you encounter.

The climb; you will either discover what awaits you or you will spend eternity contemplating two words, “what if”.

Will you climb the rock
Or wait at the bottom for a free ride up
Will you look to the top
And wonder what it would be like
Or will you stand up and climb?
– (Lyrics from the song “Lemonade” by U-turn)

Related posts:

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TempleStudy.com Fireside Discussion on Andrew Skinner’s book “Temple Worship”

My good friend Bryce Haymond of TempleStudy.com hosted a Google Hangout discussion on Andrew Skinner’s book “Temple Worship”. It was fantastic to participate in this event and enjoy the fascinating information that was shared. I think we’re going to do this on a regular basis on Sabbath evenings so feel free to join in if you can and if not, you can catch the discussion on Youtube!

Panelists in this discussion were:

  • Bryce Haymond
  • Frederick M. Huchel
  • Gary N. Anderson
  • Steven Reed
  • Tevya Washburn

I wish I could spend every afternoon talking with these gentlemen.

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LDSSymbols.com is now live!

 

LDSSymbols.com is a new site that I just launched today to help anyone become more literate in the alphabet of LDS symbology. While not exhaustive, it provides a starting place to begin to identify potential meanings in some of the symbols we encounter throughout LDS architecture, scripture and in nature and throughout the universe.

Everything is connected; and when you begin to understand some basic archetypal meanings behind some of the shapes and numbers God uses in His works, you’ll find hidden treasures that have been right in front of your nose your entire life.

LDSSymbols is a work in progress, so further meanings, photos and quotes will be added as time goes on. If you feel that you have anything to contribute to the project, feel free to contact me via the contact page on this site.

Enjoy!

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Sikhism’s “Five Ks” and Other Sacred Clothing and Artifacts

I was driving down my street the other day and noticed that there was a family gathering going on at one of the homes. Seeing the turbans I figured that they must be of the Sikh faith. I realized how little I knew about their beliefs and thought I’d do a little research since I like to study other religions.

It is a very simple faith with some unique aspects that I found fascinating.

The Sikh (pronounced ‘seek’) religion that originated in southern Asia around the 15th Century. The word Sikh means ‘disciple’ or ‘student’ and the core purpose of the faith is to seek oneness with God. In order to escape the cycle of reincarnation, and become one with God, one must overcome the five obstacles which are: lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.

Seemingly corresponding with the five obstacles are symbolic emblems that are continually worn called the “Five Ks”

  1. Kesh (uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban, Dastar.)
  2. Kanga (wooden comb, usually worn under the Dastar.)
  3. Katchera (specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity.)
  4. Kara (iron bracelet, which is a symbol of eternity.)
  5. Kirpan (curved sword, comes in different sizes.)

Each of these symbols are a “representation of the ideals of Sikhism, such as honesty, equality, fidelity, militarism, meditating on God, and never Read Full Post

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The Meaning of the LDS Temple and its Ordinances

In Denver Snuffer’s book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, he provides a great summary on the meaning of the temple and its ordinances.

The temple ordinances portray a walk back to God’s presence. Although the ceremonies are presented in symbols, they testify of, and invite the actual return to Him. The washings, intended to cleans us, are more than a physical ordinance. They testify to us about necessary individual purity and spiritual cleanliness. Anointing with olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Thorough the Holy Spirit we are sanctified. It is holy, and when we receive it we become holy through our association with it.

When we are clothed with a garment, it symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ, laying down His body to cover our sins with His atonement. These are powerful symbols of how intimately our individual redemption is connected to Him.

The endowment instructs us about creation, and our own journey through mortal life. We must consider ourselves as if we are respectively, Adam and Eve. When we do, we find an explanation of our mortal condition. It tells us we came from God’s presence, and now live in a fallen world. To regain God’s presence we need to obey, make sacrifices, follow Christ’s Gospel, observe the law of chastity and consecrate our lives to Him. As we do, we will receive sacred knowledge from His messengers. Such messengers are sent by Him.

Men will try and mislead us with false teachings that mingle the philosophies of men with scripture. But if we remain true and faithful to whatever light we receive from Him, He will always send more. Messengers will come from the presence of God, bringing His message. They will not offer themselves for worship, adoration or respect…

True messengers labor to have you come to know Christ. They want all to be redeemed from the fall.

The purpose of the temple is to guide you back to Him. It is not the real thing, but only a symbol pointing to the real thing. It is not enough to read what has been written in scripture or taught by true messengers. You must get an experience for yourself so you also know God.

The real thing is found when the veil parts and you gaze into heaven. (p. 466-467)

The idea that the temple “…is not the real thing, but only a symbol Read Full Post

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Parting the Veil

The veil was one of the core elements of the Hebrew temple. It was the dividing line between this world and the symbolic, or from time to time, literal presence of God. There are many meanings, doctrines, principles, types and shadows associated with the temple and what the veil may symbolize. For the purposes of this article, I will only be covering a few facets of this topic from a Latter-day Saint theological viewpoint.

Internalizing the Veil

The ancient temple and the modern temples alike share the common characteristic of being a model of both the macrocosmos and the microcosmos. The macrocosmos deals with heavenly bodies, systems and galaxies while the microcosmos deals with earthly bodies such as our own. Just as the heavenly bodies all orient themselves according to law, we as beings endowed with free will may orient Read Full Post

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Restoring the pentagram to its proper place

The pentagram. At the sound of its name the average person might think of “Satanism”, you may walk down the aisle of a video rental store and see it on the covers of horror movies, but has it always been this way? Has the pentagram always been associated with evil? How did it come to mean this?

Below are two stars that appear several times on the outside of the LDS Nauvoo temple. These two inverted stars are actually tied deeply to Jesus Christ and have been for a very long time; I’ll explain.

The pentagram, or day star/morning star is an ancient representation of the planet Venus. Jesus Christ, in the New Testament is referred to as both the “Day Star” and the “Morning Star” in connection to the planet Venus.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

In eight earth years, venus will have orbited the sun 13 times Read Full Post

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Sanctuary Vesture: A Brief Overview and Comparison via Temple Study

Link to the article on TempleStudy

The link to the article is above, but I would like to interject a little commentary on the topic as well.

It is common knowledge that Latter-day Saints wear white clothing in the temple as a symbol of purity and many other things in relation to their relationship with God.

Matthew Brown begins his article by stating:

“It is publicly acknowledged that Latter-day Saints who participate in the central temple rites of their faith dress in several layers of ceremonial clothing, consisting of a “white undergarment” (which is worn as part of everyday life) and “other priestly robes” (which are only worn during times of temple service).” Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:534

Many people are familiar with the “white undergarment” that LDS members who have gone through the Endowment ordinance wear on a daily basis under their normal clothes. Others might not be as aware of the other ceremonial clothing mentioned in the above quote.

That ceremonial clothing has similarities to the priestly robes worn during ancient temple service. You can read about that particular clothing in the Old Testament in Exodus 28 among other places: Read Full Post

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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 and Read Full Post

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

Visit http://blakeostler.com/ 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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Holocaust

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. Dictionary.com 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 in Read Full Post

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The Wise Man on the Mountain

After an Institute of Religion class, my teacher and I were having a discussion in his office. He asked if he could show me something; he grabbed a book and took his seat across the table from me. He asked me to close my eyes and focus on envisioning what he was going to be reading to me. What he read was a very descriptive narrative of a climb to the top of a mountain that was meant to be imagined from the perspective of the reader.

This simple narrative was amazingly effective at teaching a few important principles that I will cover later. With a few words, my paradigm had been shifted concerning how I approach my Father in Heaven in prayer.

Below is the text that was read to me and since you can’t read this with your eyes closed, I suggest possibly having someone read this to you or for the time being, read it slow and try and project what you are reading into your mind’s eye. Do your best to clear your mind, find a quiet place and simply focus; if you simply skim it, you will get Read Full Post

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The Two Trees

by Valerie Hudson Cassler

[Author’s Note: This presentation was given with an accompanying PowerPoint that utilized visuals to illustrate the points being made…Also, as a transcript of an oral address, the speech is more colloquial than an academic would normally use; my apologies.]

I’m delighted to be here today with you at FAIR. I think I came last year with Ralph Hancock and Richard Sherlock and we talked a little bit about SquareTwo. [Slide Two, on SquareTwo, is shown.] So to repeat the refrain may I simply remind you that SquareTwo is aiming to be the best online journal of LDS thought concerning the important issues of the world today. Our articles and comments are always reviewed. When we’ve had extremely controversial issues discussed, we’ve had up to 50,000 viewers of our various articles. In fact, just in our last spring issue, the very last issue, we had one of the only articles written about polygamy by a faithful Mormon woman. So there is a female perspective on polygamy, perspective such as D&C 132 makes it absolutely plain that polygamy is an Abrahamic sacrifice. And from what we know of Abrahamic sacrifices, they are always temporally bounded and there is always a ram in the thicket, whether that be in this life or the next life. And that is why we do not baptize those who are living polygamously even in countries where that practice is legal, because outside of a commandment to perform an Abrahamic sacrifice, an Abrahamic sacrifice is always an abomination. However, monogamy is never an abomination; it is rather one of the chief blessings of God. So that’s one of the things you can lay on some of those 16 year old girls who ask you.1

All right, let’s get to the real talk here. I didn’t join the Church because I was a feminist, but Read Full Post

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The Marvelous Work of Fulfilling the Covenant: Part 4 of 4

The New and Old Jerusalem and their inhabitants

Ether 13 teaches us that in the future there will be a new heaven and a new earth and that many miraculous things will occur with these events:

9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.

10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.

11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.

There will be a new heaven and a new earth in the millennium, the New Jerusalem will come as well as the old Jerusalem AND the inhabitants, or those who have previously died. They will have been ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’, the Lamb is Jesus Christ which means they are part of the covenant through baptism in the name of Christ. Now how can people who have passed away before Jesus Christ was on the earth be washed in his blood through baptism? Read Full Post

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The Marvelous Work of Fulfilling the Covenant: Part 3 of 4

Isaiah’s words are key

In 3 Nephi 16 Jesus Christ teaches about the other sheep and who they are and then begins to teach about the Gentiles and then in verse 17 he says:

17 And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:

Christ begins to quote the prophecies of Isaiah, but then, in the next chapter, looks out among the people and says:

2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.

3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.

The people cannot understand the words of Isaiah that he is quoting, they have been through a lot of trauma and Jesus perceives that they are not spiritually prepare for what he has to say. So he gives an important clue that revelation is needed to understand the things that is was about to teach them.

Then for the next four chapters he performs a series of acts to lift the people to a level to where they CAN understand his words, he heals them, introduces the sacrament, gives his disciples the power to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the twelve disciples are chosen by Christ, and then administers the sacrament a second time.

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The Marvelous Work of Fulfilling the Covenant: Part 2 of 4

The Title Page

Title page of the Book of Mormon was said by Joseph Smith to be taken from the last leaf of the plates of Mormon, and was written by Moroni himself. A portion of this section states that the Book of Mormon is:

…to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever

The first purpose of the Book of Mormon that is mentioned is to show the remnant of Israel great things God did for their fathers so they may KNOW the covenants of the Lord and that they are still in effect. In other words, here is a message from God saying that he is still there for us and that his covenants are still extended toward us.

In 1 Nephi 13 we learn about the significance of the Bible and that it contains the covenants of the Lord. Read Full Post

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The Marvelous Work of Fulfilling the Covenant: Part 1 of 4

I owe a great deal to my good friend, Bro. King, for the initial core pieces of the puzzle that got my mind going on the ideas presented.

The Abrahamic Covenant

First we need to identify just what this covenant is and why it is so important. The Abrahamic covenant is outlined in Genesis 12:1-3:

1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Throughout the Bible this covenant is maintained and reaffirmed and looked to as a beacon of hope to the Israelites. The different promises associated with this covenant are outlined as followed:

  • His posterity would be numerous (see Genesis 17:5–6; Abraham 2:9; 3:14).
  • His seed, or descendants, would receive the gospel and bear the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9).
  • Through the ministry of his seed, “all the families of the earth [would] be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).

LDS.org notes that, “A person can receive all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham—by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel (see Galatians 3:26–29; 4:1–7; D&C 84:33–40).”

These great blessings to Abraham are unconditional, they were promises made by Read Full Post

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Temple Worship by Elder John A. Widtsoe

My brethren and sisters, when those in charge of this work were planning the program, I urged upon them that they do not call this meeting for the Assembly Hall. I felt sure the congregation would be so small that we would all be unhappy. I am happily disappointed; and I am quite sure that neither the drawing power of Joseph Fielding Smith nor myself is the cause of this large attendance, but that the conviction in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints that all that pertains to temples and to temple work, to the salvation for the dead, is of tremendous worth.

I regret, of course, that Elder Joseph Fielding Smith is not here tonight. I am sorry for those of you who came to hear him speak, for you will have to come again, because he speaks tomorrow. He is filling an important engagement, and we simply exchanged evenings. I regret, however, for my own sake, that he is not here, because what I have to say needs as a background the splendid talk that he has for us. He will deal with the spirit and the mission of Elijah. I was asked to speak about temple worship. He was to take up the great generalization, the great body of principles upon which this work rests; and I was to take one small part of the application of the work, for my theme.

I feel just a little embarrassed to speak on temple worship without the background of Elder Smith’s discourse. I am embarrassed also because I realize how utterly impossible it is to deal with so vast and comprehensive a subject in the Read Full Post

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