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.
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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.
“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
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
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
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
“Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” (1 Nephi 1:2)
At the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he is writing his history in the language of the Egyptians. When we are reading First Nephi, we reading something that was written in retrospect, after Lehi’s party arrived in the promised land. This is where Nephi made his first set of plates (1 Nephi 19:1). It is at this point that he chooses to write in Egyptian for some reason instead of Hebrew and we don’t have any explanation as to why.
It is centuries later that Moroni explains that they wrote the record in a reformed version of Egyptian instead of Hebrew because of a space issue on the plates:
“And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.” (Mormon 9:32-33)
Mormon and Moroni’s reasons for using their reformed Egyptian could have been very different from Nephi’s reasons. Nephi was writing things that he considered sacred at a time of great conflict between his people and his brethren. He might have wanted to protect the information by writing it in a language other than Hebrew so that the information would be hidden from others in case his records fell into enemy’s hands. His intentions might have been to conceal the content of the records rather than save space.
Nephi starts writing his records almost immediately upon arrival in the promised land while Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael are still part of the camp. What if only Nephi knew how to write in Egyptian? Perhaps Nephi didn’t think it was wise to write his record (that included the murmuring and disobedience of his older brothers and step brothers) in a language that they could read. Think of what might have happened if Nephi was out hunting and Laman snuck into his tent to read his “journal”. Nephi’s brothers and step brothers already hated him and reading his depiction of them could have thrown them into a rage and put his family in danger.
Mormon, on the other hand, notes that they had altered the Hebrew and the Egyptian among them to the degree that the reformed Egyptian characters may have been more compact than what their altered Hebrew was like. These theories are only speculation on my part, but I think they illustrate that there are many possibilities to consider.
In 600BC, there were at least three Egyptian candidates for what Nephi could have used on his plates: Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, and Demotic. The only one that doesn’t seem to be available in Nephi’s time is Hieratic, but I have a theory that doesn’t dismiss it as a candidate so let’s see which one works best.
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 scriptures often talk about having a broken heart, but what does that mean? Does God want us to be sad? I believe that many of the problems we experience in understanding the ancient concepts contained in the scriptures is because we understand things in a modern way.
Words and their meanings change over time. Today, having a broken heart might mean something like the following:
A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, whether through death, divorce, breakup, physical separation, betrayal, or romantic rejection. (via Wikipedia, emphasis added)
In the profane world, a broken heart is an emotional response to unpleasant events surrounding other people. In the sacred world, a broken heart is a catalyst to wonderful things. Read Full Post
Today was the day, 186 years ago that the Nephite record known as The Book of Mormon passed from immortal to mortal hands. Interestingly enough, that night as these events unfolded to the knowledge of a few, the Jews blew their shofar trumpets celebrating Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of the Trumpets) on the other side of the world.
What significance did this high holy day have to coming forth of the Book of Mormon? Read, Joseph Smith’s Receipt of the Plates and the Israelite Feast of Trumpets, and you’ll never see this event the same way again.
In 34 A.D. Jesus Christ taught a remnant of Jacob living upon the American continent “Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses” (3 Ne. 15:4) but adds that 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
Perhaps most of us throw around the word “symbolism” without understanding the various nuances of the subject.
I created ldsSymbols.com with reference to the word “symbols’ because that is what most people understand. Alonzo Gaskill’s book “The Lost Language of Symbolism” defines symbols, images, types, metaphors, similes, parables, motifs and archetypes. He also mentions other categories such as analogies, comparisons, emblems, figures, hallmarks, insignias, models, seals, signs and tokens.
Here is a list of definitions from the book along with the page number for reference:
- Symbol: Something that represents another thing (p. 11).
- Image: A word or action that names a concrete thing (p. 11).
- Type: A symbol that looks forward to an antitype for future fulfillment (p. 11).
- Metaphor: An implied comparison (p. 13).
- Similes: Compare one thing to another by using the formula like or as (p. 13).
- Parable: Brief stories that employ familiar situations, events, characteristics, or elements in order to teach important spiritual truths (p. 14).
- Motif: A recurring theme or a “structurally unified verbal whole” (p. 14).
- Archetype: An image or pattern that recurs…the universal elements of human experience (p. 15).
The next set of definitions are from various sources online:
- Analogy: A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Google Definition
- Comparison: an examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities. Merriam Webster
- Emblem: A heraldic device or symbolic object as a distinctive badge of a nation, organization, or family. Google Definition
- Figure: A person, animal, or object that symbolizes something. A pictorial or sculptural representation, especially of the human body. The Free Dictionary
- Hallmark: Any mark or symbol of genuineness or high quality. Your Dictionary
- Insignia: A symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction. Wikipedia
- Model: A three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original. Google Definition
- Seal: An embossed emblem, figure, symbol, word, letter, etc., used as attestation or evidence of authenticity. Dictionary.com
- Sign: A token; something by which another thing is shown or represented; any visible thing, any motion, appearance or event which indicates the existence or approach of something else. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
- Token: A sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
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.
Awesome Mormon Messages video. I’m constantly impressed with the fantastic media put out by the church nowadays. I really enjoy these short videos with really powerful and touching messages and how they touch on very rich subjects in such abstract ways.
This one comparing earthly fathers to Heavenly Father does a great job at bringing perspective to our relationship with God.
The following article is from TempleStudy.com
Professor William J. Hamblin has offered some good starting points in considering the relationship between the ancient Israelite temple ritual and the modern day LDS temple endowment. It is from this vantage point that we should approach trying to understand these ancient ritual systems and the connections they might have with the Latter-day Saints temple ritual.
“When considering the possible relationship between ancient Israelite temple system and the LDS Endowment, the first thing to note is the basic purpose of the ancient temple was to reconcile Israel with God and bring all Israel (represented by the twelve stones inscribed with the tribal names) back into the presence of God (that is recapitulating the Sinai theophany), symbolically represented by the Holy Place and Holy of Holies within the veil.
“The second thing to note is that Israel had exoteric rituals in the outer courtyard of the temple which could be witnessed by all (though only priests officiated). Esoteric rituals performed inside the temple itself could only be performed and witnessed by priests. LDS Endowment broadly corresponds to the esoteric rituals performed inside the temple, not the exoteric rituals performed outside. The ancient exoteric Israelite temple rituals correspond with the LDS weekly sacrament (the bread/wine offering of the Israelite temple).” (William Hamblin, Mormon Scripture Explorations)
Another important point to realize is that Christ was the last great blood sacrifice when He came in the meridian of time and offered the Atonement, which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood (3 Ne. 9:19; cf.Mosiah 13:27; Alma 34:13; 3 Ne. 15:2–10). Since Christ was the last blood sacrifice (all precursors pointing to Him), from that point onward the outward nature of sacrificial ritual changed, but still pointing towards Christ, and still a sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:20–22; Psalms 51:16–17;Psalms 34:18).
See the gallery below for various artists’ depictions of the rituals inside the ancient Israelite temple. Click each image to enlarge.
In response to an email question about the meaning of beehives sent in by Cameron to ldsSymbols.com, I dug up some information that I had read several years ago. I located the article I was looking for here, which contains a really great history of what the beehive meant to the Egyptians. This is pretty significant to Latter-day Saints who also use the beehive as a primary symbol of the faith as well as the culture and people of Utah.
Why should what the Egyptians believed be of any significance to Latter-day Saints today? Perhaps it is because the Egyptians, while practicing beliefs that on the surface seem foreign to modern people, had many core principles tied into truth obtained from an earlier time. Abraham 1:26 states:
Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
I find it interesting that some people conclude that that Latter-day Saints hijacked temple ceremonies from the Masons and that Christianity hijacked teachings from the Jews who hijacked their temple rights and beliefs from the Egyptians who hijacked them from…well, maybe the guys who had it right in the first place. I believe that everything goes back to the beginning anyway, and that the “doctrinal debris” left behind can be “restored” or “reconstituted” into a form where truth and light can come to us from it.Read Full Post
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