Did you know that you can “read” temples? What if all of the temples around the world today constituted a vast library of new scripture just waiting to be read if we had eyes to see? This presentation covers some basic concepts relating to LDS Symbology and a guide to approaching the subject of learning symbolism.
This video presentation incorporates my first attempt at presenting principles related to “reading” temples. The content of the video is suitable for all ages and anyone interested in learning how understanding symbols can play an incredible part of their spiritual lives.
Pictured above is my latest rendering of the Nephite Interpreters that were in the possession of Joseph Smith for a time. I have always wondered what these instruments must have looked like so I began by creating a few simple illustrations. Over time, the illustrations evolved into a more realistically rendered piece of art and this is the latest version. One day, I think it would be interesting to try to construct a physical model.
You can begin to get an idea of what these interpreters must have looked like by examining quotes from witnesses that actually saw them; from there you are left with gaps that can only be filled in with speculation. Here are the aspects of this version that I feel are pretty solid:
- Triangular shape of the “stones”
- Figure-8 design of the frame
- “Glass” setting for the interpreters
Here are the characteristics that are speculations and assumptionsRead Full Post
Well, I guess this is “brother-in-law” day today at oneClimbs! I owe this post to Brad who emailed this to me a few hours ago, and I also posted The Enchiridion by Epictetus from my other brother-in-law.
I’ve seen the older version of this “Scale of the Universe” presentation and the new one is even better. I think it is awesome because it illustrates just how large or small we are depending on what perspective you are coming from.Read Full Post
- The bread prepares us for the cup, signifying the way that the earthly prepares us for the heavenly. The resurrection fuses the two while grace purifies the whole.
- Revelation comes to us not only as fast as we are able to hear it, but as fast as we are able to bear it and hearken unto it.
- Revelation is not just the transmission of knowledge, but grace and glory as well. It is receiving and being transformed by what lies on the other side of the veil.
- Desire is the most important component of revelation; desire opens veils.
- Re – meaning “again” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion.
- Velare [latin] “to cover; a veil.
- Reveal – to make known something before unknown or concealed.
- The level at wich God communes with us personally parallels not only our worthiness but our desire.
- It is one thing to know and another to understand.
- Evil can speak through that which God has already made. When evil men use symbols, they must hijack them from the sphere in which they reside.
- Faith, worthiness, purpose and service create holy places; they may be permanent or temporary.
- If we are not changing, we are not repenting. There is a difference between sin abhorrence and sin avoidance. The greatest change comes through revealed knowledge and encountering and embracing the divine.
- Receiving the Holy Ghost is not a one-time event, it is a choice we make at every moment we live.
- The Church is built upon the rock of revelation, meaning that the ability to experience truth unveiled, to commune with the divine is essential or the existence for a church of God upon the earth.
- “[Christ] went about doing good and healing…” – Acts 10:38
- The priesthood holds the entire universe together from one moment to another. Seeking blessings by virtue of the priesthood doesn’t have to be a rare event, it should feel as appropriate as drawing a breath from the air around us.
Just for kicks, I thought I’d include this thoughtful journal entry from my 7 year old daughter. She’s picked up the journaling kick like a champ and started off with a small notebook where she would just write questions like “Why do you [God] love us so much?” it was really cute.
She recently asked for a new notebook since she filled the other up, now she seems to be trying to comprehend doctrines and develop frameworks for understanding Just goes to show you that it’s never too early to start and you can make it anything you want it to be. So below are some of the ideas she was working on during sacrament meeting today. My five year old daughter has started to follow the example as well and I’ll get her a nice notebook once her writing develops more. Right now she has a sketchbook and just works on visual concepts.
Maintaining a spiritual record is a powerful tool for meditation and an invitation to revelation; truly a lost practice in the modern age.
This Christmas I had some thoughts about the gifts that were given to the young Jesus by the wise men. I haven’t had time to really dig down deep and see what I can unearth concerning gold, frankincense and myrrh but I did have a few unique ideas that I don’t think I’ve ever read about anywhere else so I thought I’d take note of them here.
Gold can be primarily obtained by mining it from the earth or panning it out of rivers in tiny flakes. It is rare and must be sought for diligently and then purified by immense heat to flush the dross out. Gold does not rust under the same circumstances as other metals, it is extremely stable and attractive.
Frankincense and Myrrh
These two I am going to mention together because there are a host of dynamics that they seem to share. Both frankincense and myrrh are tree sap that is obtained by cutting into the trunk and allowing the sap to bleed out; ponder that for a bit.Read Full Post
Did you know that Moses had to veil his face around the Israelites? Read the account is taken from Exodus 34:29-35 CEV:
Moses came down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments. His face was shining brightly because the Lord had been speaking to him. But Moses did not know at first that his face was shining. When Aaron and the others looked at Moses, they saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him. Moses called out for Aaron and the leaders to come to him, and he spoke with them. Then the rest of the people of Israel gathered around Moses, and he gave them the laws that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
The face of Moses kept shining, and after he had spoken with the people, he covered his face with a veil. Moses would always remove the veil when he went into the sacred tent to speak with the Lord. And when he came out, he would tell the people everything the Lord had told him to say. They could see that his face was still shining. So after he had spoken with them, he would put the veil back on and leave it on until the next time he went to speak with the Lord.
The apostle Paul referenced this account in a letter to the Corinthians:
The Law of Moses brought only the promise of death, even though it was carved on stones and given in a wonderful way. Still the Law made Moses’ face shine so brightly that the people of Israel could not look at it, even though it was a fading glory. So won’t the agreement that the Spirit brings to us be even more wonderful? If something that brings the death sentence is glorious, won’t something that makes us acceptable to God be even more glorious? In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away.
This wonderful hope makes us feel like speaking freely. We are not like Moses. His face was shining, but he covered it to keep the people of Israel from seeing the brightness fade away. The people were stubborn, and something still keeps them from seeing the truth when the Law is read. Only Christ can take away the covering that keeps them from seeing.
When the Law of Moses is read, they have their minds covered over with a covering that is removed only for those who turn to the Lord. The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord’s Spirit sets us free. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. (2 Cor. 3:7-18 CEV)
Most people are familiar with a bride wearing a veil as part of the wedding ceremony. There are some deep roots to this tradition that traces back to Rebekah and Jacob in the book of Genesis. The Jewish tradition incorporates a veiling ceremony known as “Bedeken”. An article over at Chabad.org features some intriguing points behind this tradition:
There are a number of interpretations of the veil’s symbolism, all of which reflect truths that are worthy of being dramatically enacted before the wedding service.
The veil is a symbol of the married woman. It expresses a dignity, which Isaiah (3:18) calls tiferet, and which was reserved for women of station. Ezekiel (16:20) speaks of “covering with silk” the woman he loves. Interestingly, Rebecca does not wear a veil while on the journey in the company of the servant, Eliezer, but instinctively dons it when sighting Isaac. This may account for the insistence of major authorities that the groom himself veil the bride, and that it should never be done without him—it is only his presence that makes her veil significant.
The veil is symbolic of her new unapproachability to others, not only sexually, but as hekdesh, a sanctified object in the temple. The sacred objects of the tabernacle were “veiled” before being taken up to be carried by the Levites. The betrothal ceremony is likened, in a legal sense, to those sanctified objects of the temple. This is the significance of the term kiddushin: the groom, in marriage, sets the bride aside as hekdesh. The analogy strikes deeper if we compare it to the face of Moses, which radiated light after he received the commandments. Moses placed masveh (a veil) over his face as though to imply separateness, withdrawal, almost an other-worldliness. [source]
See also: White Cloth, Fire and the Glory of God
Some are so sure that God exists while others are so sure that he doesn’t and then there is a vast spectrum of those in-between. Over thousands of years, where has all of the debating got us?
If God does not exist is there a purpose to the existence of the universe? Does purpose necessitate a God? Is purpose necessary? The elements we observe in the universe behave with predictable results along discernable laws and mathematics. Do these laws constitute order? Can order come from chaos? Is the universe really chaotic? Can the universe be “chaotic” when order is observed almost all throughout it?
If God exists, then he is hidden from us. If God desires to be hidden, can man reveal him? If God desires to be foundRead Full Post
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)
Meet “Peter” the Lego Friends character who also happens to be the object of the latest source of contention in the Reed household.
I’m going to try my best to accurately capture a discussion that just transpired minutes before writing this article involving myself, my seven year old and five year old. For the sake of privacy, I will refer to the 7 year old as “Mary” and the 5 year old as “Tina” (I let them pick the names).
There was a conflict over a toy that belonged to Mary, the toy was “Peter” as pictured above. Tina had come along and picked up the toy while Mary had momentarily been distracted and small riot ensued as Mary realized that her toy had been seized without her permission. It just so happens that I had spent the afternoon pondering the principles of justice and mercy, so I declined my initial instinct to barge into the room and fulfill Bill Cosby’s uncomfortably familiar observation that “Parents are not interested in justice — they want QUIET!”
I decided to be interested in justice…and mercy and take this unique time on a Sabbath-day afternoon to try and teach about both.
I gathered them both together and told them thatRead Full Post
I have felt lost at various points in my life; for different reasons and in different ways. I would like to focus specifically on the question of “Where does one begin?” in the context of finding the point in which one begins to return to God and in what manner it is done.
When I began, my path was full of detours, looking beyond the mark and simply being confused in mists of darkness. If I had understood the scriptures properly I might have found what I was looking for earlier on, but fortunately, we have a very patient and intensely wise Father in Heaven who never gives up on us.
So here we go then; I hope the information provided here can be of help to others that are searching as I was.Read Full Post
In Ether 12:27 the Lord tells the prophet Moroni:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Many articles could be written on this one verse alone, but for the purpose of this article I will be providing some thoughts on at least two types of strength God gives to us. I was reading this verse today in church and felt like exploring more about what God means by “strong”.Read Full Post
Here is an excerpt from a chapter written by LDS apostle James E. Talmage in October of 1914. Writing to a female audience, he focuses on the dynamics of gender and the relationships between men and women in this world and the next. There are many wonderful doctrinal tidbits in the following words. Enjoy!
The status of woman in the world is a subject of present-day discussion and an element of current social unrest; it is, however, by no means a new topic. The female sex is not infrequently referred to as the weaker of the two. As gauged by physical standards this classification may be essentially correct. And be it said to the discredit and shame of the stronger sex, man through the centuries gone has been prone to use his superior strength to the oppression of woman. She has suffered the greatest humiliation during periods of spiritual darkness, when the Gospel of Christ was forgotten.
Woman occupies a position all her own in the eternal economy of the Creator; and in that position she is as truly superior to man as is he to her in his appointed place. Woman shall yet come to her own, exercising her rights and her privileges as a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane.
It is part of woman’s mission in this life to occupy a secondary position of authority in the activities of the world, both in the home and in the affairs of public concern. Of this condition, explanation and justification may be found in the fact that in every organization, however simple or complex, there must needs be a centralization of authority, in short, a head. The secular law recognizes the husband as the head of the household, and theoretically at least holds hi[m] accountable for his administration. That many men fail in their station, that some are weak and unfit, that in particular instances the wife may be the more capable and in divers ways the better of the pair, should not be considered as evidencing impropriety or unrighteousness in the established order as a general condition.
Woman should be regarded, not in the sense of privilege but of right, as the associate of man in the community of the home, and they two should form the governing head of the family institution, while to each separately pertain duties and functions which the other is less qualified to discharge. Weakness or inefficiency on the part of either in specified instances must not be taken to impugn the wisdom by which the organization of the home and of society has been planned.
In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with Divine requirement. It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the House of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood.
When the frailities [sic] and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom.
Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God.
Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God. (from the Young Woman’s Journal 25 [October 1914]: 600-604, link)
I do realize what a touchy topic this is. Each gender has unique and sacred characteristics and when combined you get a marriage of those characteristics which form the foundation of an Eternal unit.
We speak so much of ‘equality’ which is defined as “uniformity” and while man and woman do govern equally in the family unit, I feel that ‘unity’ is a much better word because it is defined as “the state of being one”. I think it is important that each gender (particularly the men) in their respective stations remember the counsel of D&C 121 concerning unrighteous dominion. Either side through selfishness can throw out of balance the divine harmony that should exist between man and woman.
There is no compulsion in the economy of God, only persuasion, love and self-sacrifice. Think of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles; a perfect image of how a husband should preside in a family. Think of the dedication of the apostles to Jesus Christ and the love that was shared between them. The model of the church itself has much to teach us on how we should structure out own families.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
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 symbolRead Full Post
We do a lot of sustaining in the church and by sustaining I am speaking in terms of raising our arms to the square to indicate our willingness to support those called by the Lord via priesthood authority to positions in the church. There is much more to sustaining than meets the eye and when we understand more about this principle it can help us truly fulfill what we are actually promising by lifting an arm.
Sustaining in church
“All of those in favor, please indicate by the uplifted hand.” says a member of the priesthood leadership on some Sabbath day morning, to which a congregation will usually raise their arms to the square indicating their approval.
This same ritual is repeated time and time again, usually each Sabbath day as new callings are announced and presented before the congregation out of respect for the doctrine of common consent. Joseph Smith once said: “No man can presideRead Full Post
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 timesRead Full Post
These are a few quotes on war that I feel express great wisdom that we would do well to understand and practice. Pay attention to #42 and #43.Read Full Post
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
For the sake of convenience, I’m going to break each part of this verse down into digestible elements. This will not be exhaustive by any means and I might use this as a starting point for later study.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.
As a letter in the alphabet of symbolism, “seed” has been used to convey the idea of posterity or faith, but in this case “the word” is being compared to a seed. What is “the word” then? Well, technically, the word can be anything, it’s whatever you want to know. The word comes to us in many ways. It is preached to us, we read it in the scriptures or we just simply come across it or it reveals itself to us in diverse ways.Read Full Post
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
“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.