Patriarch

When I first joined the church we sustained the Patriarch of the Church, along with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve as a “Prophet, Seer and Revelator.”  I would expect that at some point Patriarch Smith will be succeeded by his oldest, direct, descendant, unless there is still a living sibling of his upon whom the office would devolve (which I doubt).
 
When the office was established, it formed an independent line of priesthood authority. This line was not be dependent upon selection by temporary office holders drawn from many family lines.  Instead the Smith family, through whom the church was restored, would hold this hereditary office forever.  It will be interesting to see how this office is handled in the future.

Seriously

There’s an article which estimates that 16% of the population (teens to 49 yrs.) of the United States has genital herpes.  You can read it here:http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0923528620100309

 
Now there’s an advertisement for the law of chastity….
or anti-itch Gold Bond…
or a wire hair brush to scratch with….
 
The woman/man has not been born who is worth forfeiting what is lost by breaking covenants with the Lord.

Powerful doctrines

I’ve been reading Alma’s teachings on priesthood in Alma 13.  There are some startling things in there.  We underestimate the depth of doctrine preserved in the Book of Mormon.  Pre-earth life is unmistakably taught there. 
 
Ordination to the high priesthood reckons from before the foundation of the earth.  Power in that priesthood is derived from heaven (as D&C 121 teaches). 

These powerful doctrines are not even imagined by other faiths or traditions.  Among us it is hardly understood, and we possess the scriptures that teach it.

Patriarch Smith

The Patriarch of the Church is Eldred G. Smith, now aged 103 years.  His office used to ordain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints using the hereditary priesthood line running back to Father Smith, Joseph and Hyrum.  
Eldred G. Smith was made Emeritus in 1979, but continues to have an office in the Church Office Building.

a little leaven

Sometimes it is the thinnest of threads which keeps a people from judgment.  A “little leaven” or a “little salt” can save a whole lump.  The want of “five righteous” has and can destroy a whole city.  When you consider so thin a thread as that, you must surely realize there are no private sins.  Each life has cosmic meaning.

Ordinances

Oddly, ordinances were intended to communicate an inner message of redemption and holiness.  Instead, they get looked upon as credentials.  They aren’t.  Possession of ordinances without inner holiness is meaningless.  On the other hand, D&C 137 shows that possession of inner holiness, while lacking the ordinances, will not be an impediment.  (We can send anyone with a card to the temple to take care of the ordinances.  But how infrequent it is that we produce a redeemed and acceptable soul to our God and Father.)

All things bear tesimony

In reflecting back on John Pratt’s recent article on Venus and its tie to the Lord’s life, I have concluded that the phrase “under the earth” as used in Moses 6: 63 is referring to the cycles of the “wandering stars” or planets.  It does not refer to the subterranean composition of the earth’s mantle.
 
Venus disappears on the horizon, taking it “under the earth.”  Then it reappears again, symbolizing the resurrection of the Lord.  Venus being the great symbol of Christ, as John Pratt has shown.
 
As Val Brinkerhoff has also shown in his The Day Star – Reading Sacred Architecture volumes, the orbit of Venus tracks a pentagram in the sky over it’s eight year cycle. 
 
Toyotas and light beer are of more interest to us than the procession of the equinoxes through the zodiac.  All things do bear testimony of God.  But we prefer the billboards on the side of the highway. 

Reincarnation

Yesterday at lunch I heard a great line from the Maharaja:  “Reincarnation is only for the ignorant.”  Made me laugh.

Equinox

The Vernal Equinox is Saturday, March 20th.  It is that moment that arrives every year where everything is in balance, light and dark are balanced and nature everywhere from pole to pole is showered equally with the light and life of heaven.  It occurs twice a year, and not again until the Autumnal Equinox in the Fall.
 
The First Vision aligned with the Spring, the date of which is not recorded.  However, as Michael Quinn noted in his work (using borrowed research), the Smith family in general and Joseph in particular, would have associated power with the event.  It is not unlikely that the First Vision occurred on the Vernal Equinox, just as Moroni’s visits always coincided with the Autumnal Equinox.
 
For our day, the Autumnal Equinox is the more significant.  The Vernal is associated with life, birth, beginnings, restoration and newness.  The Autumnal is associated with death, closing, judgment and endings.  We live on the cusp of the end times.  Though there remain a great many things to be done, our era is the time when history is about to close out.

Observing the Vernal, Autumnal and Solstices was something done from ancient times, in ceremony and in ritual.  Whole cities were built aligned to the cardinal directions of the compass and the lights of heaven.  The lights of heaven were given to us first as “signs” and secondly as “seasons.” 


Don’t let them pass by unnoticed.  Otherwise you note less than even the plants and the animals whose life cycles and behavior acknowledge the passing of such events.

Raising the Bar

The name of the policy which eliminates a large population of desirous young men from serving a mission was really unfortunate.  “Raising The Bar” implies that these young men do not measure up.
Repentant young men who have been involved with serious sexual transgressions during their teens are by and large denied the opportunity to serve.  So, also, are young men with medical conditions which require significant treatment or medications. 
As a result of this program, there have been tens of thousands of young men who have not served.  The missionary force dropped from the high 60,000’s to the low 50,000’s and has remained there.  Those who have been excluded who wanted to serve have quite often felt judged and alienated as a result.  Many have either left activity or left the church altogether.  They form a body numbering now in excess of 100,000, and as they marry, have children, and raise their posterity outside the church they will eventually number in the millions.

Calling this  program “Raising The Bar” has essentially precluded a change.  You can’t “Lower The Bar” without seeming foolish, or to invite ‘ner do well’s. 

I’ve seen what this program has done to young men who wanted to serve, and who would have been allowed to serve before the program was announced.  I’ve tried to overcome their sense of rejection by the church, and have succeeded in only one case.  The others have essentially all told me that the church had rejected them and therefore they intended to stay away.

Nadab and Abihu

I was asked about the relationship between Nadab and Abihu’s death and the Day of Atonement ceremony.  I responded as follows:

Remember that these two saw the Lord in sacred space (on top of Sinai with Moses) earlier in their lives. (Exo. 24: 9-11)
 
Despite their earlier audience with the Lord, they were not authorized to enter the Holy of Holies.  Only the chosen High Priest, and then once an year, only on the Day of Atonement.  (Lev. Chapter 16; 23: 26-32.)
 
They entered into the Holy of Holies when they were not authorized, and burned incense contrary to the Day of Atonement ceremony.  They were not authorized to be there nor to do what they did.  Therefore they were struck down.  (Lev. 10: 1-3.)  The Lord reminded Moses after their death that those who are going to enter into that place must be “sanctified” before entering, hence the Day of Atonement ceremony being a prerequisite for entry.
 
Later Jewish tradition required the High Priest to have a rope tied to his ankle when he entered the Holy of Holies, so that his body could be recovered if he were struck down without the necessity of others entering the room.

Genius

Joseph Smith was the first, great restorer of lost light in this Dispensation.  He restored doctrine, authority, ordinances, scriptures and the organization for the Church.  His ministry was one of the greatest among men in any age.
 
The second great restorer was, in my view, Hugh Nibley.  He shed light on antiquity using the scholar’s tools while calibrating the recovery of ancient truth using the restored doctrine, authority, ordinances and scriptures which Joseph had bequeathed him.  Hugh Nibley’s legacy as a restorer of lost truth from the past is second only to Joseph Smith’s.
 
Joseph’s genius was unique and inspired.  So was Hugh Nibley’s.  In the case of Hugh Nibley, he inspired a whole generation of students and produced a small army of those who intended to follow his example.  It is not as easy as it seems, however.  From scholarly disciples, to FARMS to now the Maxwell Institute, the effort has produced some good fruit. but you cannot institutionalize genius.  The great contribution of Brother Nibley is simply something that cannot be replicated or continued.
 
Genius will always be (as Will Durrant put it while intending to be derisive): “isolated and unruly.”  It could not be tamed in the schools of Greece, nor can it be captured in the halls of BYU.  Credentials will never become a substitute for inspiration.