The Church recently released an updated/clarified version of the temple recommend interview questions.
And for the first time that I can remember, the President of the Church read them out loud over the pulpit in General Conference.
It used to be that you didn’t really have access to these questions until you were sitting with a leader in a temple recommend interview. If it had been a while since hearing them, some things may have caught you off guard.
As they seem to be made more accessible to the members, I think it would be wise for us to ponder them regularly and certainly before an interview so that we have time to prepare in any way necessary to answer with confidence.Read Full Post
I rarely comment on current events or things like this on my blog but I’ve been waiting on this announcement for quite some time.
My family has a lot of members and a lot of converts as well. Being a Latter-day Saint already separates us from them in some significant ways and essentially banning all of them from participating in our weddings was a hard thing.Read Full Post
A recent reply I shared on an online forum:
Catholics are heavily immersed in ritual, so I think they “get” ritual more than most, or are at least more accustomed to it. Latter-day Saint Sabbath services and surroundings at church are nowhere near as elaborate as the richly meaningful proceedings conducted in ornate cathedrals.
Maybe we wish that church and the temple were equally as rich in symbolism and ritual, it’s a captivating thought, but I kind of like it the way it is. If we were around the temple all the time, would we appreciate the contrast? How wonderful it is to go to the temple and experience stepping out of one world and into another (which is intentional). Home after a long journey is never the same, but it hasn’t changed, you just see it with different eyes.
A temple is a model of the cosmos; the cosmos above which holds all of creation, and the cosmos below which is man. That which is common is profane, but contrast parts light from darkness, revealing everything in between. Worlds without end for us to explore, and we think this only refers to orbiting planets. The endowed are veiled with a garment, a reminder of where the true temple is. How many dwell perpetually in the outer courtyards of consciousness, never setting foot inside the Holy of Holies within.
I was looking at this picture of the Salt Lake Temple the other day and had a thought. Typically, the “all-seeing eye” of God is depicted within a triangle and not an oval. This version also has a veil-like curtain that looks like it is being removed from the eye.
That’s when I wondered if this is isn’t depicting God’s eye at all, but man’s. God would not need to have a veil removed from his eyes. Does he even perceive us through a veil or it is just that our vision is obscured by one? I think it’s the latter of the two.
I think this symbol is depicting an experience that the temple has been constructed to facilitate.
There’s the matter of these 28 sun-like rays emanating from the oval that I’d like to address next.
I saw two sets of a 28-pointed star in the celestial room of a particular temple one evening a few years ago. No joke, the very next morning I was reading A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael S. Schneider and saw this 28-pointed star made up of 4 overlapping 7-pointed stars that looked exactly like the one in the temple, minus the 12 circles:Read Full Post
I created LDS Symbol Cards but didn’t really do much in the way of providing instructions. I thought I’d put together a little video that explains their origins and how I use them personally. Even if you don’t have any cards, but still like symbolism, there are some cool little nuggets in there. If you have ordered some LDS Symbol Cards in the past, I’d love to hear any personal insights or ways that you use them in the comments below.
If you bought some cards, I’d really appreciate a review over here.
I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.
In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.
At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.
In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.
It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.
All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.
CLIMB, verb intransitive
1. To creep up by little and little, or step by step; to mount or ascend, by means of the hands and feet; to rise on any fixed object, by seizing it with the hands and lifting the body, and by thrusting with the feet; as, to climb a tree or a precipice.
2. To mount or ascend with labor and difficulty.
3. To rise or ascend with a slow motion.
CLIMB, verb transitive
1. To ascend by means of the hands and feet, implying labor, difficulty and slow progress; as, to climb a wall, or a steep mountain.
2. To mount or ascend, with labor or a slow motion; as, to climb the ascents of fame.
I’ve always loved dictionaries. I remember back in school when I used to finish my work, I loved to just read and explore the dictionary. Before the Internet, encyclopedias were my Google, I loved learning about every sing topic.
I still remember being a teenager and sitting down to read the entire Bible Dictionary front to back. In a matter of days, I felt like my knowledge concerning theology had doubled. I still love dictionaries and the powerful, sometimes transcendent ideas conveyed by simple words.
Consider the origins of the word “profane”:
Profane: late 14c., from L. profanare “to desecrate,” from profanus “unholy, not consecrated,” from pro fano “not admitted into the temple (with the initiates),” lit. “out in front of the temple,” from pro- “before” (see pro-) + fano, ablative of fanum “temple” (see feast). Related: Profaned; profaning. The adjective is attested from late 15c.; originally “un-ecclesiastical, secular;” sense of “unholy, polluted” is recorded from c.1500.
Temples are sacred spaces and there are prerequisites for entry; one must be “consecrated” but what does that mean? In Hebrew we have the word qadash which means:
For some other interesting insight on the word consecration, this article from TempleStudy.com is enlightening.
Qadash: a primitive root; to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally):–appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy(-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify(-ied one, self), X wholly.
I’m not aware of any other documents quite like this one. Here we have a general authority, David O. McKay, explaining temple ceremonies and covenants to a group of missionaries just before they receive them. I’ve had this in my personal collection for a few years now, I got it from a public pdf hosted on the BYU Idaho website. I think this would be a great thing to study for anyone preparing to enter the temple, and an insightful read for anyone who has already experienced temple worship.
An address on the Temple ceremony by President David O. McKay given Thursday, 25 September 1941, at 8:30am, Salt Lake Temple Annex (Manuscript in BYU Library Collections.)
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20.)
Such was the commission given by the Savior to His Apostles just prior to the Savior’s return to heaven, following His resurrection. Such is the admonition and authority He has given you, my fellow workers, and I congratulate you this morning upon this calling and upon your acceptance of the privilege to preach the Gospel. It is not only a privilege but a great responsibility to be commissioned as a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In that commission the word “teach” is used and repeated. You are teachers. Very young men and young women to go out and show the world the philosophy of life, to teach them the proper way of living, but that is your calling.
I congratulate you on being worthy to go through the House of the Lord. Your presence here indicates that you have lived a pure life, each of you, that you are worthy to go into the presence of the Father. Are you?
I have come over here this morning particularly because I have met so many young people who have been disappointed after they have gone through the House of the Lord. They have beenRead Full Post
“In God’s great wisdom he has deliberately made the symbols of the temple unique, because their very uniqueness demands the mind ask the questions: Why do we do that? What’s the meaning of that? What’s the significance of this? These are the very questions God wants us to answer, the danger is not that we will ask the questions, the danger is that we become so familiar we stop asking the questions.” – Michael S. Wilcox, Blessings of the House of the Lord, 1999
This quote goes great with this article – think about it.
I loved this quote from Jeffery Bradshaw’s talk at the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference. I’ve been trying to find a way of saying the same thing, but now I can just quote someone who hit the nail on the head.
“It is my personal witness that the LDS temple ordinances are, as Elder John A. Widstoe affirmed, “earthly symbols of realities that prevail throughout the universe” they point to heavenly meanings beyond themselves – meanings that can be revealed through our “minding true things by what their mock’ries be.” The ordinances perform an essential earthly function, helping make us ready someday to behold the face of God as did Moses. Indeed, those who participate in the ordinances of the temple are shown in ritual what Moses and others throughout ancient and modern history have experienced in reality.” (Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, ”What Did Joseph Smith Know about Temple Ordinances by 1836?”) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhQWrMXt2Mc#t=1856
The temple endowment, has become to appear more and more like a symbolic version of the great visions experienced by the ancients like Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Nephi, Mahonri (the brother of Jared), etc.
Some of the themes we see are the creation story, ritual cleansing and clothing, ascension and an invitation into the presence of God. The temple endowment appears to be, at least on one level, a gift from God to help us prepare to receive the same experiences.
“One and two are considered the parents of numbers, not really numbers themselves. And they give birth to the digits three through nine, in other words, trinity to the trinity of trinities. And with that and zero you can create – everything. You know 3 and 4 and 6 and 8 and 12 are considered structural numbers, the numbers nature builds with. 5 and 10 are considered numbers of life…and then 7, 9 and 11 are considered numbers of mystery. They cannot be constructed…with a compass and straight edge. They’re mysteries, they’re here but they’re not here. Like 7, the rainbow, it’s here, the seven colors of the rainbow are there, but nobody can grab it. Seven is always about things you can’t grab, can’t hold on to, the seven notes of the musical scale…same with 9 and 11.”
(Michael Schneider, Oral Interview, YouTube)
Parental: 1, 2
Structural: 3, 4, 6, 8, 12
Life: 5, 10
Mystery: 7, 9, 11
Just thought I’d share an old quote I came across again from “Thomas” who was a commenter on a post at TempleStudy.com. I don’t know who this guy is but I like the way he thinks. He shared some very profound truths and here they are for you to enjoy as well.
“Mysticism is the study or practice of “mysteries”. Therefore mysticism can be defined by the means and methods and not by the resultant experience.
First, the experience isn’t mystical, it’s metaphysical. Second, mysticism derives from the same Greek root as mystery, and derives much of its meaning from that root. Mystic (of or pertaining to mysteries known by the initiated) with the suffix -ism (denoting action or practice). Experiences vary dramatically, anyway; what doesn’t vary nearly as much, however, is the means and methods.
Thus, you may be a mystic – not because you seek a transcendental experience, but because you practice mystical rites and ordinances: namely study, meditation, and prayer (among others). By this definition, all mystics practice more or less similar methods, though they may do so for very different reasons.”
For some additional pondering, I’ll throw in this quote from Joseph Smith:
“A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” (Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137)
The Interpreter Foundation has announced the availability of the videos of the presentations given at the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference which took place on 25 October 2014 in Provo, Utah. Videos of each of the presentations are now available for free viewing on The Interpreter Foundation’s YouTube channel, or on MormonInterpreter.com. They are also embedded below for your convenience. There is also a YouTube playlist available of the conference presentations. The conference proceedings will also be published in book form in the future.
Donald W. Parry’s Introduction to the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference
You can now purchase LDS Symbol Cards at the following URL: http://symbolcards.com
In the book The Name of God: From Sinai to the American Southwest, James R. Harris asks the question:
“Was the Shepherd of Israel, known as Jehovah, also known as Quetzalcoatl (The Feathered Serpent), as Pahana, as The Great Mystery, as Gucumatz, or as Kumastramho, by our Lord’s other sheep who left their witness on the rocks of the Negev in Israel, Jordan, the East Desert of Egypt and on the rocks of the American Southwest?” (p.1)
Living in the Las Vegas area of Nevada, I have hiked out to see many of the petroglyphs in New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah so this book by Harris really interests me.
Harris’ research examines a script called “Old Negev” (a Canaanite script derived from Proto-Sinaitic) which appears on petroglyphs in the Middle East. He shows how these petroglyphs may be translated and understood. This script was used in the Negev from 1200BC to the 6th century BC.
Where it gets really mind-boggling is his hypothesis that a very similar script also shows up in the Southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico. He provides photos and sketches of these petroglyphs along with his translations. Here is a comparison of Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite, Old Negev and some of the signs we find in the American Southwest.Read Full Post
“According to Keith Stepan (former Managing Director of Temple Construction), many LDS temples are thematic, making use of a single visual motif to unify the exterior architecture and interior design and furnishings. These unifying motifs potentially point to a particular doctrine or concept. At the Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple, for example, we see an arching motif in the main east and west windows pointing to the theme of Jacob’s Ladder. At the San Diego Temple, 2 interlocking squares are used over 10,000 times throughout the structure, potentially symbolizing the Melchizedek Priesthood. In these and other LDS temples it is the fence design that first reveals their general visual theme.” – Val Brinkerhoff, The Day Star – Reading Sacred Architecture (Book 2), 131
In a recently published book “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” by Gerald E. Hansen and Val Brinkerhoff (photographer), readers are presented with a series of doctrinal themes that are explained using the particular architectural symbolism of various temples.
On the inside cover flap of the book, “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” it states:
Both books and buildings have voices. But rather than the letters of an alphabet, buildings use towers and spires, columns and buttresses, mosaics and paintings, glass and geometric figures, and statues and friezes to speak volumes. However, even though architectural symbolism existed before the written word, the message of a building is often difficult for most of us to recognize.
For Latter-day Saints, temples are the most important and symbolic buildings in existence. Through temples the unique doctrines of the restored gospel are communicated. Although the bulk of this instruction occurs inside the temples, temple exteriors also tell of these profound doctrines — when you understand how to read them.
President David O. McKay once said that he was “disappointed” when he first went through the Temple and he explains why. I think this could be helpful to any who are preparing for the temple, or who are still trying to understand what it is all about.
Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience. I have now found out why. There are two things in every Temple: mechanics, to set forth certain ideals, and symbolism, what those mechanics symbolize. I saw only the mechanics when I first went through the Temple. I did not see the spiritual. I did not see the symbolism of spirituality… I was blind to the great lesson of purity behind the mechanics. I did not hear the message of the of the Lord… How many of us young men saw that? We thought we were big enough and with intelligence sufficient to criticize the mechanics of it and we were blind to the symbolism, the message of the spirit. And then that great ordinance, the endowment. The whole thing is simple in the mechanical part of it, but sublime and eternal in its significance. (From Gregory Prince and Wm. Robert Wright. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005): 277)
I appreciated these words from President McKay. I think we all spend most of our first trips to the temple focusing on the mechanics if we were not adequately instructed on learning through symbolic teaching. While the initiatory has many parallels to baptism and confirmation, there’s nothing comparable to the endowment anywhere else in Latter-day Saint worship.
I think the closest you can get are the accounts recorded in scripture where a prophet is taken up into the presence of the Lord, guided by angels and shown the creation of the world and given sacred knowledge. At one level, I believe the endowment is a symbolic “ascension vision”, similar to the experiences of Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Nephi, and the Brother of Jared to name a few.
Here’s another great quote from President McKay:
“Brothers and sisters, I was disappointed in the temple. And so were you. […] There are few, even temple workers, who comprehend the full meaning and power of the temple endowment. Seen for what it is, it is the step-by-step ascent into the Eternal Presence. […] If our young people could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation of their lives!” (Andrew Ehat, ” ‘Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?’ Sesquicentennial Reflections of a Sacred Day: 4 May 1842,” Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1994), 58-59.)
President Spencer W. Kimball had this to say about the ordinances of the Temple:
“If you understood the ordinances of the House of the Lord, you would crawl on your hands and feet for thousands of miles in order to receive them!” (Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism, p. 58-59)
First off, let me just say that I was really blown away by this conference; the insights presented were so rich, edifying and paradigm-shifting. Posting this today is a bit symbolic to me personally because today I celebrate two birthdays; the day I was born of my mother in the flesh and the day I was baptized by water and the Spirit by ordinances administer by my father.
As important as fathers and priesthood authority are, it is equally important to understand mothers and motherhood and how each plays an essential role in our salvation.
Just so you know, I don’t post anything on oneClimbs.com unless I feel that it is of particular value. I recommend viewing all of these videos and not skipping a single one because they build upon each other.
If you are a woman, then stop what you are doing and watch this conference!
I was the only boy in my family and was blessed with three little sisters, and as a father, I have been blessed with three little daughters, so the role and divine purpose of women is something close to my heart. I think that the information presented in this conference will be part of a greater understanding of women in the plan of salvation.
The beauty and inspired nature of LDS doctrine concerning men and women in God’s plan is seen afresh and in a new light, or perhaps, a more correct light. The truth is right there in front of us, we just don’t really understand what it is we are seeing, or worse, Read Full Post
We do a great job of teaching “that the teaching in the temples is done in symbolic fashion” (Boyd K. Packer), but I think we do a sub-par job of teaching how to learn from teaching that is done in a symbolic fashion.
Consider President David O. McKay’s words about his first temple experience:
“Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience. I have now found out why. Read Full Post