The following is a guest-post from J Washburn:
In December of 2012, I toured the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Washington D.C. (thanks to having recently read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol).
Our guide led us upward through that Masonic tower, telling us cool facts about each room—one of which was a replica of the Masonic hall Washington himself presided in. I tried to get our guide to tell us about the hidden parts, but she had a pretty good excuse not to: “I’m not a Mason, and couldn’t be if I wanted to—it’s for males only. So I’ll tell you as much as I know, but I’m an outsider just like all of you.” And then she’d try to answer my questions, but it was never enough.Read Full Post
I was listening to the This Week in Mormons Podcast when I heard this chapel mentioned. As I looked at the photos, some things stuck out to me.
I wish there were some better photos of this chapel. The only ones I could find were small and, unfortunately, dark and look like they were taken with a camera phone.
I’d like to see a better view of the front of this building, especially the very front were there are 3 areas with some kind of “cross” or “T-like” motifs towards the top. The number three is connected to the following doctrines or themes:
- Beginning, Middle, End
- Past, Present, Future
Symbolically speaking, the numbers 3, 4 and 8 are perhaps the most appropriate to be featured on a chapel considering the purposes of which it exists. 3 signifies divine unity while four expresses mortality and perhaps the Aaronic priesthood in that the square is a sign associate with this authority. Eight is a symbol connected with rebirth and especially Christ and we see a lot of the number eight in LDS chapel construction.
I love the fact that there are 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
For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.
In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:
Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:
“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)
It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?
Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, “Can you just tell me why I’m doing this?” while Mr. Han just keeps ordering him to continue through his routine.Read Full Post
There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.
- Used for sacrifices and offerings and for sacred ordinances of the gospel (LDS BD). A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
- Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
- The life of the animal is represented by its blood. (Leviticus 17:11)
- Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
- We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way.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
Originally posted at TempleStudy.com
What is mysticism? That is the million dollar question.
It is incredibly difficult to define. Wikipedia defines it as the “pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.” What? By combining all possible definitions into one, they have created an incomprehensible one.
Let’s turn to some closer associates. Hugh Nibley once defined it, quoting Eduard Lehmann, as “an intuitive and ecstatic union with the deity obtained by means of contemplation and other mental exercises.” Professor William Hamblin turns to oft-repeated definitions such as “a domain of religion that deals with the search for and the attainment of a profound experiential knowledge of God or of ultimate reality,” or, “mysticism is … a type of religious experience which involves a sense of union or merging with either God or an all-pervading spiritual force in the universe,” but finds even these lacking. In Kevin Christensen’s recent Interpreter review of Margarget Barker’s book Temple Mysticism: An Introduction he indicated that his “favorite LDS approach” to the topic has become Mark E. Koltko’s essay “Mysticism and Mormonism: An LDS Perspective on Transcendence and Higher Consciousness,” found in the April 1989 issue of Sunstone. We’ll come back to this shortly. Christensen notes that while Nibley’s view tends to be the more conventional definition, Margaret Barker’s own use of the term in her book is very different still, focusing on the experience of “seeing the Lord,” i.e. a temple theophany. While different, there is clearly overlap between the ideas of “a union with deity,” and “seeing God,” as Matthew Bowen also elucidates in his recent article in Interpreter. Koltko’s essay also perhaps helps bridge the gap.
But let me rewind for a moment. Why am I interested in mysticism? It sounds eerily like one of those occult things that Read Full Post
I’m excited to announce the official publication of a little temple-related project that I’ve been working on. It all began with this idea: “What would it look like if you reconstructed the temple experience purely from scripture alone?”
As I pondered this idea, I realized how valuable something like this could be for people preparing to receive their endowment the first time. It would essentially be a primer to study both before and after an individual’s temple experience. So much of the temple experience is right there in the scriptures anyway but many people don’t seem to realize it. For some, it takes years of study and searching to make certain connections that give context to the purpose of temple blessings.
The culmination of these thoughts has led to the production of a 14-page document that I have titled: “Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture.” I have done my best to preserve the sacredness of the temple while providing a study tool (with wide margins for making notes) that can serve as a fantastic temple prep resource.
This document, which has existed for a year as just a list of scriptures, has apparently been helpful enough to certain individuals that I think making it available here at oneClimbs could bless the lives of many more people, even those that have attended the temple for years.
I offer this document freely to anyone to use or share however they see fit (no permission necessary).
Deutsch (German) “Durch den Schleier” (Translation by Sebastian B.)
I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday and have been thinking about kids and the temple. According to Val Brinkerhoff in an interview with temple architect Keith Stepan, the Las Vegas and Portland Oregon temples were the first for over 100 years to restore the use of celestial symbolism on the outside of the buildings. Since then, the level of detail and design on the outside of temples has seemed to increase dramatically.
Today, I have noticed that the symbolism is everywhere, from the fence to the gardens and fountains and it is a joy to explore and discover.
I have 3 young daughters between the ages of 2 and 7 who I often take on “Daddy-daughter dates” to the temple. The grounds are peaceful and beautiful and as we walk around, we look at the symbols on the temple and the plants and patterns that are all around us. We talk about what things might mean and study different doctrines and principles according to the child’s understanding.
Kids get symbols. They can learn them just like any language and they are really good at it.
In the picture that was drawn by my 7 year old (without any help), she created a temple that had the celestial bodies in the correct order: the moon at the bottom, the sun and then the stars up top. She also drew a fence that features a squared circle motif and what is interesting is that this is different from the Las Vegas temple. She either observed it elsewhere or realized the importance of weaving symbols into the fence design.
I found the temple flanked by two trees interesting because of the consistent patterns of the number 2 associated with trees that is used on many temples (possibly in connection with the two trees in the garden of Eden, man and woman can be symbolized by two trees as well).
The only thing that’s really off is the Moroni statue; if the temple is facing east in this drawing, then Moroni is facing north. Moroni is usually facing east and sometimes south east like on the Las Vegas and a few other temples.
I wanted to share this to point out the value in bringing anyone to the temple, whether they are children, teens or even people not of our faith. The grounds and building itself are filled with teachings, doctrine and principles that all can benefit from. It is a wonderful place, even on the outside, to meditate and receive revelation.
I’m grateful that such a place exists.
I like to understand how things work. I do this by trying to see relationships and patterns between things to see if they make any sense. I’ve been pondering the subject of desire for quite a bit now and in doing so the subject of “will” has entered the scene over the past several weeks.
As I pondered these things and discovered a few interesting little nuggets of wisdom, I think I’ve been able to piece a few things together that have really helped me personally.
In my studies, I have come to some conclusions about the power of will. The first step came by understanding will in a way that was somewhat new to me. It is summed up in this simple definition of faith: “Faith is intelligence exercising will”. This thought took me along another line of thinking that suggested that “the faith of any intelligence is only as strong as its will”.
So how do this all fit together? I put together a simple graphic that illustrates where I’m going with all of this.
The function of will
In pondering will, I turned to the good old Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for enlightenment. Concerning will, Noah Webster wrote:Read Full Post
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
In the very quote that inspired the title of this blog, Rene Daumal penned a profound though: “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again.”
The purpose of the climb is to reach the summit and to see. Then one must climb again but downward to return and live according to what the climb revealed. The summit is not actually the end or the destination, but the halfway point. Life itself is a climb, but so are individual pursuits for truth.
You were never meant to stay there and you cannot survive there, even though it is beautiful and you can see much better than you can below.
Rene suggested that “There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.” and that “When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
You’ll notice that none of the ordinances of the gospel imply that you have permanently “arrived”. After baptism, you come up out of the water and back into life, after the sacrament you go home and start your labors again the next day, and after a temple session you leave the Celestial Room and return to the “Telestial” world.
What is the point of this?
My good friend and old Institute teacher had a saying that he picked up from his grandmother: “The temple is like a great mold; the more your pour yourself into it, the more you become like it.”
Each time we climb, we are supposed to see and take back with us a knowledge of higher things to put into practice down below. Are we are stuck at the top? How many tarried for a while and returned empty handed? The climb itself may not bring knowledge but it always generates strength. The purpose of the climb is to receive and not to demand, we must be content with what the master is willing to give us in his wisdom.
“There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions…” we get to try what we learned, we get to make mistakes and keep practicing. Covered by grace, our mistakes are acceptable only as we repent, learn from them and are perpetually willing to allow ourselves to change.
A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe is probably one of my favorite books in the whole wide world. Is it the be-all, end-all, of all things ever? Nope. So what’s the big deal about it? It is a “switch-flipper” an “ah-HA!” generator and an incredibly fun read!
Latter-day Saints are a people that are swimming in a world of symbolic meaning, especially those that attend the temple, but how many really ‘get it’? The problem is with the way that we think and author Denver Snuffer hit it right on the head:
“Exposure to the culture of ceremony and symbols is a priceless advantage to anyone coming from a secularized and demythologized society. The power in the temple’s rites and symbols, lies in the reorientation of the individual and their minds from what is in society today to a different setting and different world-view…one in which you are prepared for companionship with those who, behind the veil, live in a culture of symbols and ceremony where deep meanings and eternal patterns are seen endlessly.” (Denver Snuffer, The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil, Millcreek Press, pps. 260-61; 374-75)
I love that quote. In our “secular and demythologized society” we are dense to anything beyond what we seeRead Full Post
by Truman G. Madsen
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Reprinted by permission from By Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 1:458–81.
Aristotle observed that “nothing is by nature a name or a noun.” That is, words or word-names have no inherent or necessary meaning. Instead they are arbitrarily assigned to objects or persons. For different reasons, it is a standard view today that names, as well as concrete or abstract terms, are no more than a flatus vocis, a mere sound.
This tendency to reduce language to whimsical convention without concern for more profound origins may be symptomatic of the secularization of men and even the trivialization of life itself. At any rate, it reflects a diminishing of the religious consciousnessRead Full Post
All of the notes below are taken directly from the Temple Institute which is an organization seeking to rebuild the third temple on Mount Moriah.
Moses was instructed by G-d that the garments of the priests were to be both dignified and beautiful; as precious as the garments of royalty. Indeed, the Talmud informs us that when the wicked Persian king Ahasuerus made a feast for his advisors and officers and sought to impress them with his greatness (as recorded in the scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim) he put off his own royal vestments and donned the uniform of the High Priest… which was more precious than his own. These priestly garments were in his possession since the First Temple had been destroyed byRead Full Post
Below is a transcript of a presentation by Don Bradley on some temple-related themes that may have been present in the lost 116 pages via fairlds.org. He makes some really interesting points and I was fascinated with the relationship between the items in the ark of the covenant and the Lehite relics (Brass plates, Liahona, Interpreters/Breastplate and Sword of Laban) that may have served a similar purpose in the New World temples.
I’d like to do a little more research and perhaps put together an article on those four relics and the parallels to the decalogue tablets, manna and rod of Arron in the ark. Anyway, on to Don Bradley’s presentation!
Since you’ve all read the title of my presentation today, “Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages,” I should begin by answering a few questions.
First, no, my research did not require any trips to the Point of the Mountain to visit Mark Hoffman. While he was also at one point working on a book related to the lost 116 pages, his book differed from mine in that it was supposed to actually be the lost 116 pages. I’m sure it’s a lot easier to sayRead Full Post
The following is taken straight from TempleStudy.com, thanks Bryce for putting these videos together in one place.
The conference “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition,” which took place on October 29, 2012 in Logan, Utah, was filmed, and some of the videos are now available for free in 1080p HD resolution on the Academy for Temple Studies YouTube channel, the Academy’s TempleStudies.org website, as well as embedded below here. The rest of the presenters’ videos are forthcoming.
***Four new videos added Jan 23, 2013:
- Laurence Hemming – “Chapel, Church, Temple, Cathedral: Lost Parallels”
- John Hall – “Ancient Mediterranean Temple Ceremonies”
- Le Grande Davies – “Temples—Bridges of Eternity”
- John L. Fowles – “The Temple, The Book of Revelation, and Joseph Smith”