There is a phrase I hear repeated every now and then among members of the church. Typically when there is an issue they come across that challenges their faith, they are able to either reconcile that issue one way or another or remain undecided.
Without the necessary information to arrive at a satisfactory understanding, the person says that, for now, they will put the issue “on the shelf”.
“The shelf” is the proverbial repository for issues that you no longer want to deal with at the moment for whatever reason. You don’t have the time, resources, information or desire to pursue an answer to the question so you “shelf” it.
Here’s why I really dislike this metaphor.
When you put things on shelves all they do is
In an article called A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience by Kevin Christensen, he mentions this paradigm where “…you begin interpret external events as God speaking to you, and you answer through your own actions.” (p.11)
This added a bit of enlightenment to the same way that I currently have come to view my daily relationship with God. A few pages later Kevin mentions this quote which gives a little bit better understanding of what he’s getting at.
“One understands oneself to be addressed [by God] through events … A person replies through the speech of his life; he answers with his actions. Events in daily life can be interpreted as a dialogue with God.” – Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms, 55. (p.18)
In the newer Karate Kid movie, Jackie Chan dramatically states to his young student, “Kung Fu lives in everything we do, … It lives in how we put on the jacket, how we take off the jacket. It lives in how we treat people! Everything… is Kung Fu.”
In the same manner, the process of being born again and fully converted to God causes us to see and respond to things differently. It is the difference between trying really hard to force yourself to act a certain way and the grace of enabling and understanding brought about by a true relationship with God that allows you to see clearly and empowers you to act in faith.
The rest of the article is absolutely worth the read, it has some amazing thoughts that I’ll probably comment about on another post:
“If any are in error, try to reclaim them by kindness; if they have a bad spirit, show them a better one; if any do not do right, do right yourselves and say, ‘Come follow me, as I follow Christ.’ Would not that be the right course to pursue? I think it would; that is the way I understand the Gospel. We do not, any of us, have the priesthood for self aggrandizement, or to be used to oppress, or take advantage of anybody, or to use improper language; but with all kindness and long-suffering and forbearance and with love unfeigned.” – John Taylor, JD 20:261
These principles are also found in D&C 121.
“I dunno why you always have to be judging me because I only believe in science.” – Esqueleto, Nacho Libre
I love this video, I came across it the other day and it is awesome on so many levels. It was put up on YouTube by Interpreter and if you give it a chance, you’ll hear some really great perspective from some prominent LDS scientists of the day offering some counsel that just as fresh today as it was then.
Accompanying the serious dialogue are a few dramatizations that look like they were right out of an episode of “Leave it to Beaver” which makes the whole thing that much better. I appreciate the fact that this film from around 60 years ago makes more sense than most of what I hear out there today.
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)