Book of Mormon

Mar 10, 2016
2 min read

Pointing Fingers and Blame-shifting

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Junior Ganymede had a great post about Lehi’s Vision and the people pointing the fingers. The post author had been out with the missionaries and the woman they were teaching had some insights that were expounded upon, here’s a small snippet:

The fingers are being pointed to single out people for mockery. But she also saw it as a way of shifting responsibility. I think she is right.

The pointing finger is the finger that assigns responsibility. When it points to mock, it is designating the scapegoat. If the scapegoat is not explicitly given the blame, then the role of the scapegoat is to validate the existence of the inner circle by creating someone who is not part of the inner circle. And in an inner circle, by nature, questions of responsibility do not arise. One is not judged on merit but on membership.

The great and spacious building is key to understanding the modern structure (the Cathedral, That Hideous Strength, the Clerisy, the New Class, the Polygon, etc.). It explains its relationship to status. It highlights its divorce from reality, its existence in a purely social and symbolic world.

Understanding that the modern structure is a way of shifting blame and avoiding responsibility is also a valuable insight. It explains the victim sweepstakes and the grievance mongering. (A spiritually degenerative pursuit, obviously).

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Feb 22, 2016
6 min read

Mercy and the Mother

 
I have put the words that I believe are related directly to the divine Mother motif in ALL CAPS AND BOLD. The following verses in this article area all connected to each other and certain key points have been emphasized.

I encourage you to open your scriptures and take the time to ponder them in context and look for other connections because they are everywhere.

The Tree and the Virgin

1 Nephi 11:7
the TREE
which bore the fruit
which thy father tasted

1 Nephi 11:8
I looked and beheld a TREE
the beauty was far beyond
yea, exceeding of all beauty
and the whiteness thereof
did exceed the whiteness
of the driven snow

1 Nephi 11:13
I beheld a VIRGIN and she was
exceedingly fair & white

1 Nephi 11:15
A VIRGIN most beautiful and fair
above all other VIRGINS

1 Nephi 11:18
the VIRGIN which thou seest is the
MOTHER of god after the manner of the flesh [original manuscript & 1830 edition]

1 Nephi 11:20
I beheld the VIRGIN again
bearing a child in her arms (vs.7 – tree which bore the fruit)

1 Nephi 11:21
knowest thous the meaning of the TREE?

Note that the tree itself (not the fruit) and the virgin are both ‘exceedingly’ beautiful/fair and white (another word for pure). The virgin and the tree are synonymous but that isRead Full Post

11 Comments
Jan 31, 2016
8 min read

Columbus?

Statue of Christopher Columbus, at the corner of Elmwood Ave and Reservoir Ave, Providence, RI. This statue is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today at the beginning of Sunday School I was handed a little white slip of paper with some scripture verses to read. Here’s what I read in class:

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. (1 Nephi 13:12-13)

It was reinforced in the class that the “man among the Gentiles” is Christopher Columbus. I suppose that in reading verse 12 you would think that the Spirit coming down and working upon someone would mean that they were righteous and sent by God to do good. In this country we celebrate Columbus Day and it seems as though many Latter-day Saints hold him with a kind of reverence, see him as a visionary, and perhaps even a prophet of sorts.

A Scourge

God does not always work upon people to bring blessings and happiness, sometimes he sends them as a scourge:

And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation… (2 Nephi 5:25)

Lehi prophesied about it:

“Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.” (1 Nephi 1:11)

Wait a minute, am I suggesting that Columbus was sent as a scourge, how is that possible? Well I started outRead Full Post

5 Comments
Jan 28, 2016
8 min read

Surviving the Void

It’s happened to me several times, in fact, the first 17 years of my life were lived without any real sense of the presence of God; at least that was my perception at the time.

Time went on, and God did manifest himself to me many times and in many ways. Some of these experiences were subtle and sublime, while others sound like something you’d read about in the scriptures. But then something unexpected happens…

void

Life was at times like a sailboat on a vast ocean, the wind filled my sails and pushed me forward with purpose and vision. Then, for no apparent reason, the wind ceases and there is a perfect calm. Often it isn’t this sudden, the winds fade slowly, almost imperceptibly, until the profound stillness dominates the scene.

I’ve noticed that God appears to leave me alone at certain points in my life. Alone to the degree that there seems to be nothing I can do to bridge the gap and I find myself in a void. Prayers feel unheard and questions begin to enter the mind. What happened, where did he go? Did I offend him in some way, is there something I’m doing wrong? I tend to look inward during these times and take an inventory of my life.

While such a practice can be healthy, it can also turn to doubt, fear, confusion, disaffection, anger, and apostasy. I think that it is common for many to reach this state of windless waters and abandon ship thinking all is lost.

Like I said, I didn’t always know there was a God, but I do now. Yet I’ve felt a little hurt at times where I’ve been in these situations where I’ve felt like I needed answers and the heavens were quiet. I know that the heavens must hear me, but I don’t know why there is no perceptible reply.

The Why

What I’ve wanted to know is “why,” why this abandonment? I’ve been in this most recent void for a while now, surviving on rations of remembrance and continuing my pursuit of faith through exploration and just living life.

It is through that continued exploration that I think I found my answer. A thought hit me while ponderingRead Full Post

4 Comments
Jan 14, 2016
4 min read

Mosiah 1:4 – Teaching our posterity the language of scripture

For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time. (Mosiah 1:4)

I was listening to this chapter yesterday and then read it again today. I don’t know that I have anything profound to say about it but I wanted to point a few things out that I think are of interest.

The plates and the information they contained was critically important in perpetuating the covenants between the people and God. Lehi was taught in the language of the Egyptians, it never says how but that information might have been in the book of Lehi that was unfortunately lost.

This verse says that the engravings on the brass plates were in the Egyptian language, but I guess that somehow I missed that detail. I had speculated that perhaps Lehi knew Demotic and that was the language they wrote their plates in.

literary-demotic

Demotic characters

The brass plates might have been an unprecedented artifact, something akin to the Antikythera mechanism or the Codex Gigas, crafted by some passionate visionary and retained in a private treasury. Read Full Post

2 Comments
Nov 16, 2015
1 min read

Fluidity of Scripture

There’s something interesting in 3 Nephi where Jesus starts quoting Isaiah (for three verses) and then stops because the people aren’t getting it. He then heals them, institutes the sacrament, calls apostles and then says that he’s returning to Isaiah but quotes several verses from Micah first. After all of this he picks up again where he left off on those three verses but he quotes them differently.

I’ll break this down, let’s start in chapter 16 of 3 Nephi.Read Full Post

2 Comments
Oct 25, 2015
1 min read

A Hypothetical Look at Life Through the Lens of Jacob 5

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Why does my life feel like there is nothing but crap get dumped on me?

“I have digged about it,… and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long…” Jacob 5:47

My best friend moved away and I lost a good week’s worth of work from the flu; why must there be so much loss in life?

“I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.” Jacob 5:4

Life was simple but now I have all these new situations to deal with. I’ve got these annoying new neighbors who just moved in and I just got this new calling that I reluctantly accepted. Why does all of this have to happen now?

“Now, if we had not grafted in these branches, the tree thereof would have perished.” Jacob 5:18

My life just feels like chaos and I don’t even know if God is aware of my circumstances.

“…it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.” Jacob 5:51

***Phone rings***Read Full Post

2 Comments
Sep 15, 2015
3 min read

“Who has known the Mind of the Lord?”

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1 Corinthians 2:9-16

But as it is written:

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”

this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.

Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

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Sep 13, 2015
3 min read

Beautiful Literary Patterns in Alma 19:6

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I was doing a search today in the Gospel Library app for the word “mind” because I was looking for particular themes related to the mind in the Book of Mormon. As I looked at Alma 19:6, the repetition of the word “light” was clued me in that there must be some literary structure at work.

In ancient Eastern languages without punctuation, you painted pictures through repetition, emphasis, contrast, and many other techniques. I have broken down Alma 19:6 based on various patterns, the most obvious being an overarching chiasm and various sets of parallelisms. There are a couple of different ways you can read this depending on the theme being emphasized.

  • A1 – he knew that king Lamoni was under the
  • A2 – power of God; he knew that the
    • B1 – dark veil of unbelief was being
    • B2 – cast away from
    • B3 – his mind, and the
      • C1 – light which did
      • C2 – light up his
      • C3 – mind, which was the
        • D1 – light of the glory of
          • E – God, which was a marvelous
        • D1 – light of his goodness–yea, this
      • C1 – light had
      • C2 – infused such joy into his
      • C3 – soul, the
    • B1 – cloud of darkness having been
    • B2 – dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in
    • B3 – his soul, yea,
  • A1 – he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was
  • A2 – carried away in God–

The entire thought presented here is surrounded by the name of God, who appears at the beginning and the end (how appropriate). Next is this Read Full Post

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Apr 8, 2015
6 min read

We’re Here to Develop Patience

Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, an such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man’s believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (Lecture 3, Question 18)

One of the six characteristics of God mentioned in Lecture 3 of Lectures on Faith is mercy. In describing mercy, we see terms like long suffering, compassion, graciousness, forgiving and slow to anger. I think much of mercy can be expressed in the word patience. Noah Webster defined patience as:

PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]
1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.
2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.

As a disposition of God, it is clear that this is something that we must develop on our own. It seems that patience is impossible to develop without situations that require it. Patience is, in fact, a response to afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or evil. Patience must be developed, and it seems that it cannot exist without there being situations that require it.

In other words, you are not going to sit and tolerate something difficult unless Read Full Post

4 Comments
Mar 29, 2015
13 min read

Faith, Fiction and Going Beyond First Impressions

“I had the same good feeling while reading scriptures and while watching a fictional movie, how is that possible?”

I have heard this question or something like it asked time and time again. I’ve heard this example used to illustrate how ’emotions should not be trusted,’ which, I actually agree with. This question makes a valid observation if you are working under some kind of assumption that the Holy Spirit only confirms specific spiritual things as ‘true’ and shouldn’t ever be showing up during something like a movie (only if it’s a church movie though, right?)

Without proper context, people can be led to conclusions that are incorrect because the foundational assumptions are problematic to begin with. I’m not blaming the person who has the question, I’m not sure we do a very good job at really teaching how the Spirit works and what the relationship is between the truth we have and the truth possessed by everyone else.

Emotions themselves are a tricky because they are simply reactions to things we are exposed to. If someone punches you, it hurts and you feel mad, if someone scares you, you feel terror for something that isn’t really terrifying once you realize it. If someone says sweet things to you, you feel good, even though they may really want to take advantage of you. Reading something inspiring, it can also make you feel good.

There’s nothing wrong with all that, but where we do go wrong is in makRead Full Post

7 Comments
Mar 27, 2015
10 min read

O That I Could Just Fix Everything in the Whole World

I was reading Alma chapter 29 recently and I thought I’d share some observations that I think are particularly relevant to today’s world.

I love how you can keep coming back to scripture to find new things. As we age, mirrors reveal changes, but the mirror does not change, we do.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that one cannot step twice into the same river [1], so perhaps one cannot read the same scripture twice. Additional knowledge, insights and understanding gained through time and experience cause previously bland verses to come to life in new and exciting ways.

Alma 29 begins with a ponderous Alma wishing that he could change the world in a dramatic way.

1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

Remember that this is the Alma who was called to repentance by an angel who spoke with a voice that shook the earth [2]. Alma had this incredible experience and feels that perhaps others would respond in the same way if they experienced the same thing. In a way, we do the same thing when we Read Full Post

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Feb 22, 2015
17 min read

Korihor, Elsa, Cain, and Karl

What if we modernized Korihor’s philosophies and compared them to the kinds of things we hear people saying today?

For morning study a couple days ago, I started off reading about the sons of Mosiah but then felt like reading about Korihor. As I read, I had my trusty 1828 Dictionary app out to further analyze the words Joseph Smith used to translate Korihor’s ideas. Then, I looked in a modern dictionary to discern how his theories might be composed by someone presenting the same arguments today.

This exercise revealed a very familiar-sounding rhetoric. I also began to think about song lyrics from the movie Frozen (because I have 3 daughters) that reminded me of some words Cain spoke, and then all of it together reminded me of something Karl Marx wrote; all from pondering Korihor’s doctrines.

As for my modernized version of Korihor’s ideas, I claim ownership of my interpretations and any errors that I might have made. This is merely a personal exercise, so feel free to go back to the original text in Alma 30 and try this out yourself.

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10 Comments
Jan 30, 2015
2 min read

A Collector of Truth

“…lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not…” – Moroni 7:19

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The scriptures encourage us to seek after that which is good and there are ways explained that illustrate how we can do that.

Like many kids, I enjoyed collecting things such as baseball cards, coins, rocks, fossils, etc. Over the years my interests changed; I no longer collect any of the things that I valued so highly as a child.

What I have enjoyed collecting over the course of my adult life is truth.

The scriptural admonitions that encourage me to lay “hold” on good things drive me to dig and discover the good in everything I explore. If you think about it, truth and good are not hard to find, but they can be difficult toRead Full Post

12 Comments
Jan 9, 2015
20 min read

The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

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

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

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

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

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

4 Comments
Dec 31, 2014
8 min read

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

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

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

3 Comments
Dec 10, 2014
12 min read

Building Upon the Rock of Christ in a Whirlwind

“And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance,which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:11-12, emphasis added)

I’ve heard this scripture about a billion times and I’m not complaining, it’s a great one, but sometimes we can tend to overlook the value of things that we are too familiar with.

The phrase “shafts in the whirlwind” always made me think of tornadoes, but having a shaft inside of a whirlwind didn’t Read Full Post

3 Comments
Nov 9, 2014
8 min read

Cry unto the Lord

The inspiration for this article came from an observation I made today during an Elders quorum lesson on prayer.

We read the following portion of the sermon from Amulek in Alma 34:

17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.

20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.

22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.

23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.

25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.

The word “cry” is mentioned seven times but what does it mean? The first definition for cry Read Full Post

4 Comments
Sep 15, 2014
3 min read

Room For Doubt Respects Agency

I recently started the Book of Mormon over again in audio form while I’m at work. Chapter 6 of 1 Nephi caught my attention and led to some significant thoughts about agency.

And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.

For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:3-6)

The limited resources Nephi had forced him to focus on what was most important. He desired to record “the things of God” over things that were pleasing unto the world; think about that. What types of things wouldRead Full Post

6 Comments
Sep 8, 2014
1 min read

“All that he seeth fit that they should have”

After crying out “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” Alma 29:1

The well-intentioned Alma the younger wanted a sorrow-free world and thinksRead Full Post

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