Stefan Molyneux is someone that I enjoy listening to for his perspectives on various topics. This was an interesting conversation between Stefan and Dr. Duke Pesta where they are discussing the 10 Commandments and I thought that there were some really interesting points made that Latter-day Saints might find useful.
One of my favorite lines from the video: “When you get rid of the big rules we end up with the tyranny of little rules.”
One of the most annoying phrases I hear from my kids is “but I thought…” I don’t know where they get these crazy assumptions from like “but I thought we were going to stay up late and eat ice cream,” or “but I thought we were going to have pizza for dinner.” My wife and I usually respond with something like, “Well, why on earth would you think that?”
The sad reality is that I often think it’s like that with us and God. Here’s my favorite example of this “but I thought” mentality from the scriptures:
“Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:10-13)
Naaman had preconceived ideas that clouded his vision, so much so that he became angry and “went away in a rage.” Do we do the same kind of thing? How about when we pray, what do we expect? Or how about when receiving a blessing, or talking with the Bishop? What about when listening to General Conference talks or studying things past leaders have done/taught/said?
What do we expect? Where did that expectation come from? Is it legitimate or is there another way to see things? I think much of life’s purpose is wrestling with these ideas and finding that sweet spot where light and truth materialize in the most unlikely of places and in the most unlikely of ways; that’s where God seems to like to do his work.
Namaan’s attitude was way off base, but he did the right thing in the end by putting his own ideas aside and trusting God; we can do the same.
Credit to JR Ganymede for bringing this to my attention (love that blog) and credit to Albert Jay Nock who wrote this essay in The Atlantic Monthly in 1936 (full essay). While the context of the original essay was political, I want to use Nock’s interesting summation of Isaiah’s situation to point out something related to the Book of Mormon. Here’s the excerpt that I’m drawn to:
In the year of Uzziah’s death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”
Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it?
“Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”
So, I like this quite a bit and while you might find some inspiration to get you through today’s politically heated climate, turn your thoughts to the Book of Mormon. I would say that Isaiah’s mission mirrors several others in the Book of Mormon and five-six in particular come to mind: Lehi, Abinadi, Samuel, Nephi (the disciple), and Mormon/Moroni.
In each of these cases, they spoke to civilizations that each ended in destruction – they were the final warning. Their primary audience in large part, or in some cases, entirely, rejected their words but those words were carried to a remnant. Isaiah the prophet influenced each of these key players in Book of Mormon history, including Samuel. They were all involved in going forth to proclaim an unpopular message to a people that would turn their backs, but they were obedient nonetheless.
How much did reading and understanding Isaiah’s words give them the confidence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions? Did focusing on “the Remnant” help them to stand strong and even suffer death by fire to maintain their convictions? If so, think of what that can mean for us today when we find ourselves before a troubled world. Isaiah saw our day and so did the people of the Book of Mormon, perhaps that is a reason why their words are interwoven in the record we have before us today.
True are the words from Steven Kapp Perry’s song, “From Cumorah’s hill there comes a witness and a warning…”
To understand Isaiah better, I personally recommend brother Avraham Gileadi’s excellent translation and commentary of Isaiah that can be found free of charge at IsaiahExplained.com. Reading a modern translation straight from the Hebrew without the framework of “King James English” is phenomenal. Isaiah comes through clear as a bell and you’ll better understand why the Book of Mormon prophets and Jesus himself valued his words so much.
This is a cool video from the Messages of Christ YouTube channel where the garments of the high priest are explored in their connection to Jesus Christ. This guy made this whole thing from scratch which is pretty cool.
“Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord God,
When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.
People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,
But they will not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12 NASB)
Perhaps the restoration marks the beginning of the end of that spiritual famine. Nephi wrote that we should “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:20). Habukkuk prophesied that, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14 NASB)
Those of us living today have no excuse for going about spiritually hungry or thirsty.
Yet even in our days of plenty, where you can obtain virtually any kind of nourishing food you could ever want, so many are malnourished because they subsist on junk food. We eat all this processed “stuff” and consume massive amounts of sugar, leaving many overweight, sick, and lethargic.
I think there is a spiritual parallel that follows as well. Instead of feasting on the word, we take our inspiration from trite quotes and memes and consume massive amounts of worthless entertainment that is at best sugar and at worst poison for the mind.
When our salvation depends on obtaining the Mind of God, what do we invest time feeding ours?
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Cor. 15:22,45,47)
If Jesus can be considered a “second Adam,” then would there also be a “second Eve?” I propose that Jesus’ mother Mary might be the best candidate and I’ll explain why.
Valarie Hudson Cassler proposes that the two trees in the garden of Eden could respectively represent Adam and Eve, and I think that’s a legitimate interpretation to draw from the symbolism. I’d like to present another scenario where there two trees are actually representing four people instead of just two. This can be done by considering Read Full Post
I love reading anything by Margaret Barker, if you don’t know who she is then you need to look her up and buy some of her books or read some of her articles online. She’s a Methodist scholar and has brought some amazing insights into Judeo-Christian studies that have piqued the interest of LDS scholars. Over the years, she has made many wonderful contributions to LDS research and I am grateful for the interest and respect she has for LDS theology.
The following transcript is her analysis of how Joseph Smith’s contributions to an understanding of the ancient world match up with some of the things we have discovered in modern scholarship. Enjoy!
A Transcript of Her Response
The Worlds of Joseph Smith
An International Academic Conference at the Library of Congress
May 6, 2005
– – –
It isn’t easy to respond in twenty minutes to such a rich and interesting paper. Professor Givens has set Joseph Smith in the religious and cultural context of his time and has raised many important issues. I should like to take a few of these issues and set them in another context—Jerusalem, in about 600 BCE.
Do the revelations to Joseph Smith fit in that context—the reign of King Zedikiah, who is mentioned at the beginning of the First Book of Nephi? (King Zedikiah was installed in Jerusalem in 597 BCE.)
I am not a scholar of Mormon texts and traditions, and I must emphasize that. I’m a biblical scholar specializing in the Old Testament. Until some Mormon scholars made contact with me a few years ago I would never have considered using Mormon texts and traditions as part of my own work.
“Are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem about 600 B.C.E?”
Since that initial contact I have had many good and fruitful exchanges and have begun to look at these texts very closely. I’m still, however, very much an amateur in this area. What I offer can only be the reactions of an Old Testament scholar—“Are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem about 600 B.C.E?”
First, Professor Givens raised the question of ongoing revelation and an open canon. As far as we know there was no question of a canon in 600 BCE and ongoing revelation from the prophets was accepted, even if what the prophets said was uncomfortable.
One generation earlier there had been the great upheaval inRead Full Post
When I first saw the pictures of Joseph Smith’s primary seer stone my first thought was, “Oh, cool, I’m glad they released some pictures. I knew it was a small, chocolate-colored stone but I didn’t realize it had stripes.” and that was that.
I see conversations around the web indicating that some members of the Church are upset about the seer stone and the part it played in our history. Some were unaware of its existence, but I remember learning about it as a teenager. I didn’t know that much about the process of the translation and how the seer stone and Interpreters fit into the picture, but I did when I cared enough to research it on my own.
Skeptics find humor in the seer stone looking like just a plain old rock and are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to further paint Joseph Smith as an occultic scheister.
Instead of trying to address all of the legitimate concerns and questions, I want to write about my own perspective and the much larger themes at play.
Read Full Post
A recent post on Junior Ganymede mentions the ritual bath called a mikveh where Jews practiced ritual immersions in pools of water. The parallels to Christian baptism (which means to dip or immerse) are many. In both rituals the purpose of the immersion is a symbolic cleansing or refreshing. Anciently, immersion in a mikveh was required for those converting to Judaism.
Today, these are the modern cases in which a mikveh is used:
- by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth;
- by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity (see details below);
- as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism;
- to immerse newly acquired utensils used in serving and eating food.
The Wikipedia article I’ve been referencing here cites a source that says “The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.” (Berlin, Meshib Dabar, 2:45)
These ritual immersions can happen many times throughout the year for many reasons. It was a powerful physical reminder of keeping oneself clean. Early Latter-day Saints practiced baptism in a similar manner by getting rebaptized prior to new covenants and ordinances and even for health reasons. Rebaptisms were done away with shortly before the 20th century.Read Full Post
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.
“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11- 14, emphasis added)
What I find interesting are the following words:
- the word
- thy mouth
- thy heart
- do it
This calls to mind a portion of Lecture 7 verse 3:
“…We understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force: it is by words instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith…”
The exercise of faith is a creative act, it is something we do. It is by words, not words of hypocrisy or self-aggrandizement, but words fueled by real intent that bring the powers of heaven into our lives.
B’nai Shalom Presentation by Avraham Gileadi, 3rd April 2014
As some of you may know, this year’s Feast of Passover, which occurs on April 15th through 22nd, coincides with the first of four consecutive blood moons or total lunar eclipses on the main Jewish feastdays of Passover and Tabernacles of this year, Passover and Tabernacles of next year, with a total solar eclipse occurring at the Jewish New Year, also next year. We may thus expect to see important developments for the Jewish people this year and the next. Back-to-back blood moons on Jewish feastdays occurred in 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain; in 1948, when the State of Israel was founded; and in the 1967 Six-day War, when Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
We might have guessed that God commanded the feast of Passover to be observed “throughout your generations” as “an ordinance forever” (Exodus 12:14) not just to commemorate Israel’s release from bondage in Egypt but also as a type or foreshadowing of an end-time deliverance from bondage and from the taskmasters who would enforce it. Even as we speak, therefore, an end-time Pharaohand his taskmasters in this land are implementing the very enslavement the prophet Isaiah predicted when he quotes the Lord as saying, “My people are taken over without price; those who govern them act presumptuously, and my name is constantly abused all the day long” (Isaiah 52:5).
Still, the Lord promises to reverse his people’s circumstances when they repent of their transgression, as it further says, Read Full Post
OneClimbs reader, Richard N., posted a portion of this quote in a comment a few days ago. He was kind enough to transcribe the full quote from an audio CD by S. Michael Wilcox.
“Part of our problem is that we are not particularly a symbol-oriented people.
We like prose; well-written sentences laid out so carefully that you can’t misunderstand them. We are not big on poetry; we don’t read very much of it, particularly any serious kinds of poetry.
We like the Doctrine and Covenants. It lays out ideas line upon line, precept upon precept, building upon each previous idea. We’re not big on the Old Testament. It is so large, and it is full of strange things that are going on there that we’re not always familiar with.
We like Nephi. He says, ‘My soul delights in plainness.’ We’re not wild about Isaiah. Isaiah uses all kinds of word-pictures. And he loves pronouns and doesn’t particularly feel it necessary to give you an antecedent to the pronoun.
Now the temple is more poetry than prose. It is more Old Testament than Doctrine and Covenants. It is more Isaiah than Nephi. So our challenge as members of the Church is to learn how to learn through the use of symbols.” (S. Michael Wilcox – House of Glory)
The good news is that you can learn this stuff, and it is very rewarding. I grew up completely oblivious to most of what I know now, and I acknowledge that I am still only at the very beginning of a long journey.
I drive back and forth from Nevada to Texas a few times a year so I’m not a big fan of long journeys. Perhaps thinking about it as a journey is part of our problem. We mark out a “point A”, a “point B” and sigh as we consider the distance.
Why do we do that when we do not even comprehend what lies at “point B”? I’ve found greater peace in just appreciating what I am becoming day by day; is there even a “point B” in eternity?
“…the words of Isaiah are “not plain” to men, but they become plain when understood through the spirit of prophecy – the Holy Spirit”
Avraham Gileadi, The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interprative Keys from the Book of Mormon, p.12
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
The following article was originally published on Bryce Haymond’s TempleStudy.com
The conference “Enoch and the Temple,” which took place on February 19 and 22, 2013, in Logan, Utah, and Provo, Utah, respectively, was filmed. The videos are now available for free viewing in 1080p HD resolution, on the Academy for Temple Studies YouTube channel, the Academy’s website TempleStudies.org, as well as embedded below.Read Full Post
Sometimes some of the greatest mysteries are right in front of our eyes every day. This morning I came across this YouTube Video called “The Mystery of Magenta” and was really interested in how this guy approached the subject of how the brain perceives color.
You’ll have to check it out and ponder the implications. I was blown away at how the color magenta is different from all the other colors and how it might be the answer to some things I have experienced. All I can say about it is that I think there is something to the color magenta and the veil; perhaps someone out there will know what I am talking about.
Freshly led out of Egypt, the children of Israel were delivered by a series of miracles that seem like they must have been incredible to witness. Camped at the base of mount Sinai, they were left alone without their leader, Moses. During this time they could have lived by the memory of what they had seen, they could have remembered and been true to what was shown to them. Instead, in a matter of days they were building new gods to worship. How quickly they had forgotten, how unable they were to walk when left alone.
Walking alone is part of the process
The following is a few excerpts from a paper written by Terryl L. Givens called “Letter to a Doubter” which I read recently on Mormon Interpreter. He illustrates this principle of patience when walking alone and the importance of remembering.
I have experienced this phenomenon often in my life where I have these incredible revelatory and enlightening experiences followed by silence and a sense of spiritual isolation. I’ve often wondered if I was being rejected by God or if I had done something to offend him by my actions or not being true enough to his commandments. I’ve talked to others that Read Full Post
I have been having a great time digging through Avraham Gileadi’s book “The End From the Beginning” which analyzes Isaiah’s apocalyptic vision of the last days. My favorite kind of books are the ones that help me connect the dots, personally. Now, in order to connect dots you have to have them first, so here’s dot one: the Heber C. Kimball prophecy concerning a great latter-day test.
I realize that I refer to this prophecy quite frequently on this blog, but I just keep finding so many various connections to it that I just have to put some thoughts down. Here is just a small excerpt:
…the Saints will be put to a test that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes.
Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills, where we can close the doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, that the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God.
Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great shifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming. (Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency, May 1868, in Deseret News, 23 May 1931; see also Conference Report, Oct. 1930, p. 58-59)
The last part where he says “…a test, a test, a test…” is the first dot. Late President Gordon B. Hinckley referenced these very words in a talk first given in 1974 (which was then repeated again in 1990) where he concluded: “…I do not know precisely the nature of that test. But I am inclined to think the time is here…” He suggested “that the test lies in our capacity to live the gospel rather than adopt the ways of the world” (Gordon B. Hinckley, A City Set Upon a Hill, October 1974 General Conference).Read Full Post
It always amazes me how we acknowledge the historical certainty of the rise and fall of nations in the past, but we don’t seem to think that the same fate is an eventuality today.
Sure, men wanted to take over the world back then, but not today.
Sure, there were men trying to take over the world in the last century, but not today.
Sure, the newly appointed (unelected) “President” of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, recently stated: “2009 is also the first year of global governance, with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step towards the global management of our planet.”
To think that we will ever be at the mercy of power hungry men bent on world domination and global plunder is surely just some kind of crazy conspiracy theory isn’t it?
I could not more highly recommendRead Full Post