Jun 3, 2011
0 min read
 

Inserts: Fighting Temptation

Favorite Quotes on Fighting Temptation

“The adversary will have very little power to tempt you with things you’ve never touched.” – John B. Dickson

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.  –  John Robert Wooden (Basketball Hall of Fame)

“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader.” – Joseph Smith

“Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence;” Alma 13:12

“He was what he was wherever he was.” (Henry B. Eyring speaking about his Father)

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Jun 1, 2011
3 min read
 

Do Latter-day Saints Need a Symbol?

Typical LDS faith claims, presented as statements, raise the question of truth: statements can be true or false. Symbols can’t really be true or false in the same way that statements can. Instead, they take on meaning, and there’s nothing to stop different people or different groups of people from ascribing different, even radically different, meanings to a given symbol. A particularly stark example is the cross, which for Romans symbolized execution and the power of the state, but for Christians came to symbolize Christ’s death and, by extension, the atonement and even the resurrection. But Mormons have not adopted the cross as a preferred symbol. It’s not clear what fills the gap left by the absence of the cross in the set of Mormon symbols: Gethsemane? The Christus statue in the Temple Square Visitors’ Center? The First Vision as a revelation of God and His Son? LINK

I couldn’t agree more with the first three sentences. I don’t think a lot of people really understand this principle; symbols are not inherently good or bad or true or false. There has to be some understanding and context that come into play when interpreting them in their usage.

As for the rest of the paragraph concerning a ‘preferred symbol’ for the Mormons, I don’t see why the church needs a particular ‘symbol’ per se. Christ himself is the greatest symbol of our faith since he epitomizes what we believe and what we are seeking to become like. Some may find it uncomfortable that we do not have a symbol and would prefer that we choose one like all the other faiths.

In the Old Testament, the vast majority of other religions had idols that represented their respective Gods while Israel had none at all; they didn’t need a symbol to represent their religion. I’m not equating religious symbols to idolatry here but I see a similarity in the attitudes of the people involved.

In the Hebrew temple there were images of Cherubim on the veil of the temple and on the Ark of the Covenant and brazen oxen under the laver but these were not representations of the faith. In like manner we incorporate an angel on the tops of our modern temples along with various celestial symbols, but these are not meant to be representations of the faith.

For whatever reason, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just not adopted a particular iconic symbol to represent itself. People will sometimes use the figure of Moroni to represent the faith and I don’t really see a problem with it but in the end, I don’t believe that it really matters whether we have a symbol or not.

If we did choose a symbol, what should it be?

If we HAD to choose a symbol that would represent the faith, I’m not quite sure what I would choose, personally. Perhaps a viable candidate would be the symbol that we see most associated with the temples which is a circle within a square. This icon seems synonymous with modern LDS temples as it is used regularly in the architecture of most modern temples.

Temple work is one of the key components of the restoration and is really the defining work of this dispensation. Temple work provides the vehicle for the fulfilling of the covenant that God has made with man through Christ. The square within the circle, as I understand it symbolically, represents the eternal (circle) comprehended within the bounds of the temporal (square); or in other words, a temple is a physical place where we go to learn eternal truths.

The meaning of the symbol is a little more obscured, like that of the star of David and not plainly obvious like the cross, but it is distinct and memorable and maybe that is all that is important.

Conclusion

I don’t think Latter-day Saints require a symbol to be an icon representative of the faith. I still love the answer that Gordon B. Hinckley gave to a Protestant minister when he asked “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?” to which Hinckley replied “the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.” (LINK) It reminds me of something that Jesus once said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).

Personally I think it is more important to be recognized as a follower of Christ because of his image in my countenance instead of the symbol hanging around my neck.

——-

Updated: June 1, 2011

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May 31, 2011
3 min read
 

WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk

I’ve always kept my mobile phone at a distance because of things that I have read about their potential harmful effects. It’s one of the reasons I carry a backpack around wherever I go so that I can stow the thing away from my body. It’s interesting to how the have classified it as a ‘carcinogenic hazard’! Wow.

CNN — Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

What that means is that right now there haven’t been enough long-term studies conducted to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones are safe, but there is enough data showing a possible connection that consumers should be alerted.

“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.

“What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.”

The voices urging caution to consumers have gotten louder in recent years.

The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.

When you look at cancer development — particularly brain cancer — it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer,” said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.

Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell phones for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor. To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children.

“Childrens’ skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger.” said Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their device away from their body.

The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says for users’ radiation exposure to not exceed FCC guidelines, “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body.”

Blackberry Bold advises users to, “keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting.”

DOWNLOAD PDF report from WHO

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May 30, 2011
1 min read
 

Constructing Nephi’s Ship

nephis-ship

I don’t know what Nephi originally constructed his ship with, but today we’re going to build his ship with an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. I actually have a ton of stuff like this that I’ve used for lessons in the past so I’ll probably be posting some of these things every now and then.

So channeling Sugardoodle.net that my wife frequents, I’m going to provide a simple papercraft project for teaching about Nephi’s ship and obedience.

My current calling is teaching the CTR 7 kids in primary. It’s a calling that I find very interesting and rewarding as I get to discuss the gospel with these very young minds. Well, today’s lesson was on how God helps us to be obedient to his commandments which is an interesting topic in its own right. We talked about how difficult and even impossible it must have seemed for Nephi to do such a task.Read Full Post

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May 27, 2011
0 min read
 

Video: God’s Cricket Choir

This is a pretty amazing video. If you listen carefully you can almost hear “How Great Thou Art” being sung. There are normal cricket noises being played along with the slowed down track but it’s the latter that is the most awe-inspiring. If wonder if you did the same thing to the so-called “Mormon crickets” but heard “Come, Come Ye Saints” instead ;)

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May 23, 2011
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Sugar, Sugar, Sugar!

These videos do a great job illustrating the vast amounts of sugar that are in the sodas that most people drink. If this comes as a shocker to you, I’d do a little more research and you will be amazed at how much sugar is in the modern American diet. If you found this interesting, check this vid out too.

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May 20, 2011
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Video: My Heavenly Father Loves Me

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Words and Music by Clara W. McMaster, b. 1904

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by a lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

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May 16, 2011
6 min read
 

White Cloth, Fire and the Glory of God

I sat pondering in a sacrament meeting one day looking at the table (or altar) on which the emblems of the sacrament, the bread and water, were placed.

Both above and below the emblems are a pair of white sheets. I have often heard it said that the white sheets covering the sacramental emblems was to give the impression of the body of Christ on an altar. This always made sense to me because there are numerous references to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who gave his own life as an offering for our sins.

However on this day my thoughts went down another road.

The modern ordinance that we call the ‘sacrament’ used to be something else before the atonement. Since Adam and throughout the era where the Law of Moses was in effect, that table or altar used to be an edifice where animals were slain and consumed by fire. We have in our modern ordinances emblems that represent the flesh and blood of a sacrificial victim, and an altar on which they are placed, but what are these white linens covering the emblems? What do they represent? I began to wonder if it was possible that the white cloth could be a representation of the fire that enveloped the sacrificial emblems.

Fire and the Presence of God

All these thoughts reminded me of how the presence of God is often related to fire; here are a few significant verses:Read Full Post

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May 13, 2011
0 min read
 

AWESOME: Take a stroll around the galaxy!

LINK TO SKYSURVEY.ORG

LINK TO 360 VERSION (Very Cool)

From the Website:

The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures. Large in size and scope, it portrays a world far beyond the one beneath our feet and reveals our familiar Milky Way with unfamiliar clarity. When we look upon this image, we are in fact peering back in time, as much of the light—having traveled such vast distances—predates civilization itself.

Seen at a depth thousands of times more faint than the dimmest visible star, tens of millions of other suns appear, still perhaps only a hundredth of one percent thought to exist in our galaxy alone. Our Milky Way galaxy is the dominant feature, its dusty arms sweeping through the frame, punctuated by red clouds of glowing hydrogen. To the lower right are our nearest neighbors, each small galaxies themselves with their own hundreds of millions of stars.

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May 9, 2011
0 min read
 

Joseph Smith on Three Truths

“We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true.” (TPJS 147-48)

I love the simplicity in that statement. Joseph Smith it seems was trying to make a powerful statement about the importance and divine origins for the Constitution of the United States by placing it between God and the Bible and thereby elevating it to the level of scripture.

The Constitution of the United States has brought more than just liberty and good government to the world, the results of liberty have spawned technological revolutions that have launched mankind by leaps and bounds into prosperity and knowledge.

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Apr 26, 2011
9 min read
 

Can you get hooked on diet soda? via CNN.com

Link to original article

I personally steer clear from anything with the label “diet” on it. It’s kind of like saying, “Hey this is still not good for you, but it’s not as bad as the main product it is based on.” Fantastic.

First thing every morning, Ellen Talles starts her day by draining a supersize Styrofoam cup filled with Diet Coke and crushed ice. The 61-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., drinks another Diet Coke in the car on the way to work and keeps a glass nearby “at all times” at her job as a salesclerk. By the end of the day she has put away about 2 liters.

“I just love it,” she says. “I crave it, need it. My food tastes better with it.”

Talles sounds a lot like an addict. Replace her ever-present glass of Diet Coke with a cigarette, and she’d make a convincing two-pack-a-day smoker. In fact, she says, she buys her 2-liter bottles 10 at a time — more if a hurricane is in the offing — because if she notices she’s down to her last one, she panics “like somebody who doesn’t have their pack of cigarettes.”Read Full Post

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Apr 24, 2011
21 min read
 

When Did Jesus Visit the Americas? by S. Kent Brown

A long time ago when I was reading 3 Nephi it occurred to me that Christ didn’t actually appear to the Nephites until almost a year after his resurrection. I guess that from all the LDS art, especially Arnold Frieberg’s (who I’m a huge fan of) famous painting that seems to indicate the Savior coming to the Nephites right after the destruction. Well, this article does a great job at exploring some of these ideas, so here it is for your enlightenment.

S. Kent Brown, “When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?” in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 146–156.

When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?

Conflicting views exist about when Jesus appeared to his New World disciples. Did he appear directly after his ascension to the Father? Some believe that his appearance followed the forty days with his disciples in Palestine, while others believe that an entire year had passed after the resurrection when he appeared in the Americas. Observations from the text suggest that he mercifully waited for the people to recover from the destruction that attended his crucifixion. Compelling details help us approach an answer to this puzzling question.

Even in the bright light of written commentary and artistic depiction, a question persists about the datingRead Full Post

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Apr 18, 2011
1 min read
 

Servants of God…or “time”

I read this off of a post at BenCrowder.net. He’s quoting Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, who is quoting Lewis Mumford (*whew):

“The clock,” Mumford has concluded, “is a piece of power machinery whose ‘product’ is seconds and minutes.”

In manufacturing such a product, the clock has the effect of disassociating time from human events and thus nourishes the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences. Moment to moment, it turns out, is not God’s conception, or nature’s. It is man conversing with himself about and through a piece of machinery he created.

In Mumford’s great book Technics and Civilization, he shows how, beginning in the fourteenth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, and then time-savers, and now time-servers. In the process, we have learned irreverence toward the sun and the seasons, for in a world made up of seconds and minutes, the authority of nature is superseded. Indeed, as Mumford points out, with the invention of the clock, Eternity ceased to serve as the measure and focus of human events.

And thus, though few would have imagined the connection, the inexorable ticking of the clock may have had more to do with the weakening of God’s supremacy than all the treatises produced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment; that is to say, the clock introduced a new form of conversation between man and God, in which God appears to have been the loser.

Perhaps Moses should have included another Commandment: Thou shalt not make mechanical representations of time.

Just one more excuse for me to ditch this watch of mine…

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Apr 6, 2011
13 min read
 

The Book of Mormon Condemns the New World Order

One of the past great leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a man named Ezra Taft Benson. He had this to say about the Book of Mormon:

The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. (The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God, President Ezra Taft Benson, Jan 1988.)

The purpose of this article is to show how the Book of Mormon calls out and condemns the biggest threat to liberty that mankind has ever faced – a threat that already encompasses us.

The Setting

It is somewhere around A.D. 29-30 on the American continent. A group of elites, rich, powerful and connected, seek for more powerRead Full Post

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Apr 4, 2011
2 min read
 

*UPDATE: More Evidence That the “Lead Plates” Are Probably Fakes

Jim Davila posts some information from a man named Peter Thonemann who was in contact with a Mr. David Elkington who is allegedly in possession of the main cache of ‘plates’. The more I read about this David Elkington character the more I become suspicious of his motives and the validity of these so-called ‘plates’.

Here is part of Mr. Thonemann’s reply to Mr. Elkington:

The text on your bronze tablet, therefore, makes no sense in its own right, but has been extracted unintelligently from another longer text (as if it were inscribed with the words: ‘t to be that is the question wheth’).  The longer text from which it derives is a perfectly ordinary tombstone from Madaba in Jordan which happens to have been on display in the Amman museum for the past fifty years or so.  The text on your bronze tablet is repeated, in part, in three different places, meaningless in each case.

The only possible explanation is that the text on the bronze tablet was copied directly from the inscription in the museum at Amman by someone who did not understand the meaning of the text of the inscription, but was simply looking for a plausible-looking sequence of Greek letters to copy.  He copied that sequence three times, in each case mixing up the letters alpha and lambda.

This particular bronze tablet is, therefore, a modern forgery, produced in Jordan within the last fifty years.  I would stake my career on it.

Ok, so click here and then read down to the post titled: “HEBREW-INSCRIBED-METAL-CODICES WATCH: A FAKE”. I tend to agree with some of the commentary that I have been reading that is critical of these plates. I’m probably about 95% convinced that they are indeed very well-crafted fakes. Well, physically crafted at least; the forgers apparently went through all this trouble and didn’t even read what it was that they were writing.

Too bad though. I believe there are so many more amazing and astounding things left to be discovered, but it’s too bad that there are people out there that are dishonest and do so much harm to the acceptance of truly genuine artifacts out there that may prove to be just as controversial.

As for now, I’m probably not going to post any more news about these ‘plates’ until we can ascertain 100% one way or the other just what these things really are. It’s made for a fun few days though ;)

——-

Updated: April 4, 2011

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Apr 4, 2011
10 min read
 

What is the “eye of faith”?

There is a three word phrase that is found only in the Book of Mormon and it has always intrigued me. We read of looking forward or beholding with an ‘eye of faith’ things that are either to come or things that currently exist but are invisible to temporal vision.

The three verses

We find the phrase “eye of faith” in the following scriptures listed below.

Alma 5:15
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

Alma 32:40
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

Ether 12:19
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

In both of the verses in Alma, we are admonished to ‘look forward’ with this eyeRead Full Post

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Apr 3, 2011
2 min read
 

The “Face of Jesus” on the Lead Plates and more…

I came across this new story on the plates today and there are some interesting new factors that I’ll sum up for you below:

  1. One of the booklets appears to bear the words ‘Saviour of Israel’ – one of the few phrases so far translated as well as a face that some think might be that of Jesus.
  2. According to sources in Saham, they were discovered five years ago after a flash flood scoured away the dusty mountain soil to reveal what looked like a large capstone. When this was levered aside, a cave was discovered with a large number of small niches set into the walls. Each of these niches contained a booklet. There were also other objects, including some metal plates and rolled lead scrolls.
  3. The cave is less than 100 miles from Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
  4. The codices seen by The Mail on Sunday range in size from smaller than 3in x 2in to around 10in x 8in. They each contain an average of eight or nine pages and appear to be cast, rather than inscribed, with images on both sides and bound with lead-ring bindings. Many of them were severely corroded when they were first discovered, although it has been possible to open them with care.
  5. Many of the books are sealed on all sides with metal rings, suggesting they were not intended to be opened.
  6. The books are currently in the possession of Hassan Saida, Saida, who is in his mid-30s and married with five or six children and claims he inherited the booklets from his grandfather.
  7. Saida’s motives are complex. He constantly studies the booklets, but does not  take particularly good care of them, opening some and coating them in  olive oil in order to ‘preserve’ them.
  8. In contrast to Saida’s story, there are claims that they first came to light five years ago when his Bedouin business partner met a villager in Jordan who said he had some ancient artifacts to sell. Saida was said to have purchased the books because he thought they contained magical powers and then smuggled many of them into Israel.
  9. The Israeli Antiquities Authority believed the booklets were forgeries on the basis that nothing like them had been discovered before.
  10. Samples were sent to the Swiss National Materials Laboratory at Dubendorf, Switzerland. The results show they were consistent with ancient (Roman) period lead production and that the metal was smelted from ore that originated in the Mediterranean. Dr Northover also said that corrosion on the books was unlikely to be modern.
  11. Jordan is trying to do everything is can to get the records returned to them.
  12. The director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, has few doubts. He believes they may indeed have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

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Mar 30, 2011
1 min read
 

*UPDATED: Possible First Century Christian Lead Plates Discovered in Jordan

I actually came across this today at TempleStudy.com and thought it was absolutely fascinating! I love ancient artifacts especially when those artifacts give us new light into the past. If these lead plates are found to be authentic, there are some major implications in so many areas that I haven’t even had time to collect my thoughts on the subject!

One of the most significant features of the plates are their ties to ancient Christianity. It would make these documents the oldest Christian documents ever discovered in this region and can shed some new light into what some of these early believers taught and understood about the Gospel.

Then there are the obvious similarities of these records to the Book of Mormon, the original version written of plates of Gold and bound together with three rings. Here are the lead plates:

***UPDATE (Sat, April 2, 2011):

It appears that more and more there is evidence that these are indeed incredible forgeries. TempleStudy.com has a great write up on the current state of these ‘plates’. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what the investigations reveal about their origins; very interesting…

http://www.templestudy.com/2011/03/31/jordanian-lead-plates-authentic-forgery/#more-2396
http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/on-the-lead-vs-bronze-codices/

These aren’t the only examples of ancient people writing on metal plates, here are some photos of several other authentic records that have been discovered:

Links

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Mar 28, 2011
5 min read
 

The Meaning of Meekness

“Cool” was once used to describe temperature instead of something “neat-0, awesome, or swell”.

“Sick” was once used to describe illness rather than something “crazy, cool or insane”.

“Fast” used to mean firm and solid instead of “quick”.

Another old phrase”…’by and by,’ which first meant ‘immediately,’ has now come to mean ‘after an interval.'” (William Shakespeare, William George Clark, William Aldis Wright – 1873, 81)

From The New York Times we read:

Here’s a thought that might help: A word that means the opposite of another is an antonym; a word that looks as if it means one thing but means quite another could be called a phantonym, and warrants wariness.

I love that. We have synonyms that are words that mean the same thing, then we have antonyms which are words that mean the opposite of each other and last of all, “phantonyms” which are words that mean the opposite of what we think they mean! Casual observation leads me to believe that the number of phantonyms in our current vocabulary is staggering.Read Full Post

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Mar 21, 2011
6 min read
 

Video: The Fluoride Deception

The element Fluorine exists in the form of a toxic gas, however, we interact with it mostly through compounds. The naturally occurring compound that is found in many of our water supplies is called calcium fluoride. All other compounds are man-made and do not occur anywhere in nature. So here are a few of the facts that I have discovered about this issue thus far and the video is below all the content.

The main reason fluoride compounds are put into the water supply are for both topical and systemicRead Full Post

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