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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

21: MODIFYING OR DELETING PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL

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Do we have the right to modify, change, tamper and/or delete parts of a master’s original work?

Most Mormons appreciate the work of the master artist, Carl Bloch. The Museum at Brigham Young University recently showcased many of his paintings in an exclusive exhibit held earlier this year. The Church often uses his paintings in their publications, manuals and as recently as this month’s Ensign (December 2011).

However, there are elements in some of the paintings that we don’t like. Now that this master artist is dead, we have removed those things we are uncomfortable with to fit our taste, preference and doctrines. We can justify the changes since the opinions of the majority prefer the new look.  We tend to pick and choose from what was created before and take out what we might consider in an error to begin with, since we have more truth today. We don’t like wings on our angels.. so we have “professionals” alter the original work of art.

Below left is Carl Bloch’s original painting entitled, The Resurrection. There is beauty in the composition, the symbols used, and the colors. … but we don’t like the two winged angels that are kneeling. So in this month’s Ensign the new version of the painting has the “new and approved” version of the painting with wingless angels.  

I wonder how the creator of this masterpiece would feel now after a hundred years later since he finished this painting, that we feel we have the right to change and delete from his original painting.  
Obviously, the church felt they had good reason to remove the wings. But I wonder, where does the modifying/changing stop?  If we were in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, would we also remove the wings of the two cherubim? Should we also change the text in scripture, especially in Ezekiel,  when this prophet not only describes personages with two wings but with six?  Wings symbolize “movement forward”, and power. They represent something celestial/heavenly and not earthly. Yet, we feel we need to change things to fit into our present day paradigm of what we think things should look like, even though that was not what the original master and creator intended.  Is this the only example of deletions, changes, altering, or modifying from an original? Have we ever been warned not to change, modify, remove or alter things?  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'… But that is an entirely different post.

Friday, December 9, 2011

20: ETHEREAL SUBSTANCE OF A TRUE PROPHET


My last post was about AWAKING AND ARISING.  Here is some more thoughts on the subject that I just read today that I thought I should share. Quotes are taken from a lecture entitled, “The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered”.

“Repentance is a critical thing. It is the message of the Book of Mormon. It is the greatest message contained in the book of Isaiah and it is the message of all true prophets. There are two things that generally stir you up to repentance. The first thing is to awaken to your awful situation. The second is to arise, and connect with the source that will cure what is wrong with you. We are not self-curing. We are filled with that same shame that came in the beginning as a consequence of doing what we were not suppose to be doing. The greatest way the adversary keeps us in a state of slumber is to prevent us from looking about and awakening to the awful situation we find ourselves. Hugh Nibley commented on more than one occasion that there is nothing quite as annoying as being awakened out of a deep sleep. No one really likes that. When it comes right down to it, unconsciousness is a very pleasurable thing; particularly when what you awaken to what we face here.”

Repentance means change. Repentance actually means you turn from the direction you are facing. Whatever direction you are facing, turn from that direction, and face God. When you turn to God and face Him and let Him be the object of your focus and your attention, then you have repented. ―Facing‖ your job, or your favorite sports team, or your religious hobby, or even your church leaders is not the same thing as facing God.

God imparts intelligence, light and truth face Him. You cannot learn what He imparts if you refuse to  face Him. When you strain His light through another man, even a very good man, you lose a vital connection we are all intended to possess.”


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Sidenote:

I taught gospel doctrine last week on first chapters in the Book of Revelations which contain John’s  seven letters to the seven churches. It was interesting to study the historical and geographical information about each of the churches. I saw the pattern of the rapid decline into apostasy from the true gospel of  Jesus Christ.  With the exception of the few humble followers of Christ, most residents of these seven locations where successful , wealthy, and self sufficient. They enjoyed the honors of men as the continued to compromise with the world. Along with the Roman influence of building temples to Deity, they also built buildings that in essence worshipped “men” including their living human leaders which they considered divine.

What I found to be very interesting, is that the final letter to the seventh church did not contain any commendation/praise from the Lord. The church had became lukewarm, seeking unity with everyone, showing tolerance for any doctrinal aberration and interpreting it as love. It is reflective of a Church that at end of the age has come under the influence of the world instead of being an influence in the world. The Laodicean church thought they were doing well and were spiritual. After all they were rich, so of course God must be blessing them. The wealthy mostly dress well and talk about their possessions to impress people. They focus on outward appearances and worldliness. But these people did not know their inward condition; they were blind and could not see.

But, today we have a living prophets to teach us. I just read an article in the Church News that announced the completion of  President Monson’s life-size sculpture which is now on display. The article interviewed the artist and here was just a few lines that I found interesting.

“Studying the life of his subject helped me learn more about President Monson – his fishing stories, his travels,  his many experiences. The artist knew that tens of thousands of people would eventually view the bust during visits to the Conference Center. He hoped the finished product would speak to each viewer. He understood that his artistic charge was to capture more than President Monson’s physical likeness – he had to capture the ethereal substance of a living prophet.”

I had to look up the word, ethereal. I found that the phase, “ethereal substance” was an oxymoron. Ethereal:  lacking material substance, immaterial, intangible. Substance: having physical matter or material, tangible.  I am not sure what ethereal substance is.. but I do know that when reading the scriptures, the only necessary “substance” for a true prophet is to know Christ  and  to preach repentance.