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Thursday, July 31, 2014

271: COMING BACK FROM A SABBATICAL

The word Sabbatical comes from the Hebrew word ‘shabbat’ (the Anglicized term "Sabbath" which means “day of rest). The root word literally means a "ceasing". It is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting a long duration. (sometimes from two months to a year.) The concept of sabbatical is described a few places in the Bible (Leviticus 25) where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year.  

One gains a better perspective on life after taking a sabbatical… but not just from work…. But from anything that depletes our energy.. including social media, blogs, forums, online discussions, chatting, texting, and google groups. If we spent more time talking to our families, our children, our spouses instead of texting, tweeting, posting, blogging, emailing to others in cyperspace.. we might have stronger families ties and better real-life relationships.

 Driving home from our ‘sabbatical’ on the West Coast, we saw this semi-truck.



The Church’s Public Relations/ Marketing/Advertising once again have magnified their callings/jobs by beginning to promote one of the LDS church’s websites on large moving vehicles. Some of the biggest issues that the Church deals with is Race, Priesthood and Plural Marriage. What better way to show that we have “changed” then to show an African American male with a link to our website that highlights traditional families.

Polygamy has always been something I have never really understood. Personally, it is something I have put on the shelf. To better come to grips with the doctrine that was preached especially from Brigham Young.. this might help some as an explanation.  After Joseph Smith died, many of the leaders of the church were practicing polygamy. In my opinion, it very likely that Brigham Young made a mistake by teaching polygamy as a doctrine.. when Joseph never did. In order for a large number of the leaders who had plural wives, Brigham Young needed to find a way to make polygamy legal. For the practice to be legal and protected under the first amendment, the Church and it's leaders need to advocate that it is a fundamental part of the religion. If you can establish that it is essential to your religion, then it doesn’t matter if the laws of the land prohibit it. It would be unconstitutional to prohibit it, because the first amendment protects religion and the freedom to practice it.

 Brigham Young’s teaching of plural marriage were couched in terms that were designed to win a law suit. Brigham Young is quoted by saying that plural marriage (ie “celestial marriage’) is a fundamental part of our religion, it is essential if you are going to get into heaven, it must be done… or you can’t get there. 

So for forty years, 30 years under Brigham Young, and for another 10 years under John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff… it was a fundamental part of our religion and it was taught that we couldn’t get into heaven if you didn’t have plural wives.

Then came the last law suit, and the Church lost it. It is now over with. It is now illegal to practice polygamy.

 So Wilford Woodruff, the President of the Church (what we call today as the current Living Prophet) has the dilemma of how do we take with what we have been saying for 40 years that this is a fundamental part of our religion and say.. you know what.. not only is it NOT a fundamental part of our religion , it never was, and it would be best to discontinue it.

 Instead they go to all the trouble and say, the Lord has given us a “revelation” to take it away.

 So the question is… if it was a revelation to take it away, why did many of the leaders continue to practice it?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

270: SUMMER SOLSTICES


photo taken on the Summer Solstice in 2013 on Mt. Timpanogos after sunrise 
Last year on the Summer Solstice I climbed to the top of  Mt. Timpanogos to see the sunrise. It required that I hike during the darkness of the night in order to reach the summit before sunrise. To my surprise, much of the trail was still covered in snow. I had to be extremely careful since I was not equipped with the right gear. However, the whiteness of the snow was helpful in finding my way in the dark.   It was ironic that on the longest day of the year with the most sunlight, that most of my hike was done in darkness. Also ironic was that at one of the hottest times of the year, I was hiking in snow.  Oh the irony. It reminded me of the scripture in section 95 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  "..they are walking in darkness at noon-day." I have always wondered how that is possible.. to walk in darkness at noon-day... but recently learned that it is a great metaphor for being spiritually blind.

A few days before this year's Summer Solstice in 2014, a big cold front came through Salt Lake and dumped a lot of snow in the higher elevations. The below photo is taken from my home. The next day, I left for Nauvoo and flew over the Rocky Mountains. Here is was the beginning of summer and yet it looked like it was still winter.
 
photo of Mt. Olympus a few days before the 2014 Summer Solstice

flying over the Rocky Mountains on June 19, 2014



  ...

I mention all of that this as a precursor to entering into the Nauvoo Temple on the Summer Solstice on 2014.

Historical accounts of the original Nauvoo Illinois Temple mention a skylight in the attic area where the endowment and sealings were performed. The temple was not complete however.  In the rebuilt Nauvoo temple, a similar skylight has been added. This skylight allows light from above into the Celestial Room instead of the grand man made chandeliers that we use in our modern temples.

This skylight has a large sun surrounded by 24 moons in various phases (forming an eternal ring of the moon going through its phases). These are then surrounded by eight six-pointed stars. The rugs in the room have a similar pattern on them but with some added symbols such as five pointed stars. I prefer a skylight with natural light from the sun than a chandelier that needs electricity.

The skylight on the east end of the Celestial Room in the Nauvoo Temple.

Friday, July 4, 2014

269: CELEBRATING FREEDOM ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

Today is the Fourth of July. My wife mentioned to me this morning that she prefers to say Happy Independence Day instead of Happy Fourth of July. She said, "why do we emphasis the date instead of saying what we are celebrating." I couldn’t help think that she was right, we don’t say Merry 25th of December or Happy 4th Thursday in November.

This morning I went for a hike up in the mountains to see the sunrise. My daughter wanted to come with me even though  I was going at 4:00 AM in the morning. There is important symbolism with numbers, dates and time.  We had a great time together.We made it to the top of the mountain just in time to see the sunrise. It was beautiful. Here are a few photos:
 



The next several posts will highlight a couple of things that I learned in Nauvoo. I found it interesting that 170 years ago today on July 4, 1844, there was no Fourth-of-July celebration in Nauvoo. The Saints were still mourning the death of Joseph and Hyrum. William Clayton wrote, "Instead of celebrating with splendor with joy we celebrate her [the nation's] down-fall with grief and mourn for the loss of our prophet & Patriarch & pray to God to avenge their blood speedily." through the "true order of prayer" during the regular Thursday meeting of the Anointed Quorum.

In our early church history, due to events of how the early Saints were treated and even killed, some members had some difficulty in forgiving the wrongdoings of others. They were not necessarily the ideal patriotic citizens. However, today, the Church is uber-American. We are one of the truest of true American institutions. In fact, we almost elected a Mormon President in 2012.

Some insights on how we have progressed as a Church. The establishment of an institution, any institution, requires that the institution's needs  usually take some priority sometimes at the expense of the individual. With tax laws, corporate laws, charitable institutional requirements, zoning laws, property laws, city planning, building inspection, utility costs, maintenance, contract, employment and endless other requirements imposed by modern Babylon, the institution becomes necessarily an extension of the greater world. Whether or not the institution likes it, once it is launched, the world disciplines it, grooms it, influences it and changes it.

With each of these events the greater historical pressures on the institution have affected how we have developed. And we continue to develop. Carefully, mind you, but we develop nonetheless.

Gradualism is the way in which even glaciers move. Eventually, however, even glaciers reach warmer climates and begin to dissolve.

It is important for us to study, learn and remember what caused the Restoration to take place. To understand what caused Christ to come down from heaven to speak with a young man and call him as a prophet.  The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not dependent upon the greater success of an institution or the country, but is instead dependent upon the efforts of each individual.