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.

Amber Dubois

The body of missing 14-year old Amber Dubois was found and positively identified Saturday.  Her body was placed in a shallow grave.  The morning she disappeared she went to school with a check to pay for a young lamb she intended to raise as part of her membership in the Future Farmer’s of America.  Her remains were identified using dental records.
 
During law school we studied sociopathic behavior as part of criminal law.  Sociopaths are incapable of empathizing with others and are not at all affected by the harm or pain they cause to others.  When you combine sociopathic personalities with sexual disorientation and violence, the lethal combination produced is simply beyond reformation.  I do not think it wise to ever release a violent sexual predator back into society.  It is still too soon to know, but it appears Amber was the victim of the same sexual offender who was charged with another young woman’s murder about a week ago.  Amber’s body was found by searching the same area as his last known victim.  He was out on parole from earlier violent sexual offenses.
 
I not only mourn Amber’s death, but also the incapacity of the criminal system to have protected her and perhaps many other unknown victims yet to be discovered.  Release of sociopathic sexual predators from prison should never occur.

With respect to the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I balance my deep respect for these men, and profound awareness that no-one is really equal to the burden which WE impose upon them, with the knowledge that I alone am responsible for confirming through revelation all truth.  Now, I say “the burden which WE impose upon them” to distinguish between what the Lord and scriptures says are their duties on the one hand, and the mythological duties which we have put upon them.  The scriptures and the Lord do NOT make them omniscient.  As a group the Saints do.  That is the first great error, and it is not the leader’s error but the saints’.

 
I’ve seen many, many mistakes made by the Brethren.  But I loved them and sustained them and have refrained from being overtly critical of them. 

It is not an institution which will be saved.  Indeed, the institution is doomed to be confined to this world, and not pass into the next.  But, it is the individual who will be saved.  Individuals, however, must receive what the institution offers to obtain salvation.  Therefore respect for the church is necessary.  It’s role is essential.  It’s authority from the Lord.

My Scriptures

I have several sets of scriptures.  The one I prize the most used to be my every-day set.  Into this copy I have added only additional cross-references and footnotes.  There are no other marks.  I suspect that I have added between 11,000 and 15,000 additional cross references and footnotes in red pencil to this set.  It has become so valuable a study set that I do not take it out of my home.

I have a “retired” set which is literally falling apart.  I used that set to teach from 1980 to 2000.  It is tattered, and has very little, if anything, marked or added to it.  I keep that set in my desk drawer at work.

Then I have a new set which has become my every-day set.  I take it to Church with me.

None of these sets have thumb-indexing on the pages.  I HATE that stuff.  It distracts me when I use the scriptures.  Both of the first two sets were “Type A” sets which Deseret Book used to publish without thumb-indexing.  You can’t get a “Type A” set like that anymore.  I tried.  Even talked with the management at Deseret Book.  Can’t be done.

So I bought a “Type B” set, which is the same paper as a “Type A” but just not genuine leather bound.  Much cheaper set.  Then I took that set to Schafer Bindery in Salt Lake and had them bind it with a real leather cover.  So I have a “Type A” set, without thumb indexing, and it only cost in total about $20 more than if Deseret Book made a proper set and sold them.

Alma 41:15

Alma 41: 15 includes this thought:  “For that which you do send out shall return unto you again.”  Profound thought.  I do not believe you have to await the afterlife or Judgment Day to realize the truth of this statement.
Therefore, I try to take care what I “send out” for fear of how it may return unto me again.

Wo, wo, wo

Enoch’s powerful testimony to his condemned contemporaries included this question:  “why counsel ye yourselves , and deny the God of heaven.”  (Moses 6: 43.)  Men in that day preferred to have the counsel of men instead of the word of God, from God.
 
Nephi spoke of the “Zion” of our time and said: “Wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  (2 Ne. 28: 26.)
 
Now having one “wo” pronounced upon a people is a warning of condemnation in this life.  Their ways do not prosper and they suffer setbacks because they listen to the precepts of men.  They fall back.  More concerning is when three “wo’s” are pronounced upon a people.  The connotation being a  condemnation which will last beyond this life and into eternity.  So I take the following statement with some considerable seriousness:
 
“[T]hey have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.  O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell.”  (2 Ne. 28: 14-15.)  Three “wo’s” pronounced and three names of God used to make that warning.  False doctrines and whoredoms are an equivalent in this passage.  That is, you are “whoring” after other false gods, and betraying the true Lord God Almighty, when you preach false doctrines which assure you, in your pride, that you are safe, elect, chosen and better than others.  Such teachers are condemned three-fold. 
 
What an interesting problem we have in front of us.  No-one can trust in any man or men.  All of us are required to hear God’s voice, and follow Him.