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“What it Means and What it does not Mean”

I was asked about the meaning of receiving the Second Comforter.  There is a chapter in the book (The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil) titled “What it Means and What it Does Not Mean” that summarizes the matter.
 
Life here is complex and sometimes difficult.  You have both moral and legal obligations which every one of us owe to society, to employment, to friends and neighbors, the Church, the government, the civil and criminal law and taxing authorities.  Some obligations are not “moral,” but nevertheless binding and controlling.  Being taxed, for example, is not a moral matter, but it is a legal matter.  Governments obligate their citizens to pay them and all citizens are required to do so.  No matter what your standing before God may be, you are going to have to pay taxes.  Christ made that clear when He paid taxes and responded to the question about taxes by confirming the obligation.  (See Matt. 22: 15-22.)
 
The promises of God are helpful in enduring to the end.  But they have no value here apart from peace of mind.  They are not “property” which this world will value highly.  They are for the coming life.

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Section 132

I have written that it is my view that Section 132 is not a single revelation, but as many as five.  I was asked about how I divide Section 132.  Before I respond a few words of explanation:
First, the version we have was written in 1843 at the request of Hyrum.  He (Hyrum) intended to take it to Emma and persuade her it was from God.  Hyrum knew this revelation had been a continuing source of friction between Joseph and Emma and he offered to try and get Emma to accept its truthfulness.  So Joseph agreed to dictate it.  The scribe was summoned, and Hyrum asked if he should retrieve the Urum and Thummim.  Joseph responded that he could recite it from memory, and then dictated it as it now appears in Section 132.

There were two copies made.  The one Hyrum took to Emma was burned by Emma.  The second came west and was ultimately made public in the 1850’s and added to the scriptures.

The dating of the revelation is uncertain, but the headnote to Section 132 notes that “the principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.”  (Section 132, headnote.)  Given the uncertainty of dating, the typical approach by scholars has been to date it from when the first practice began.  I think that is wrong.  I would date it from the time Joseph translated Jacob, Chapter 2, in 1829.  Joseph prayed during the translation of the Book of Mormon to receive the visitation of John the Baptist and the ordinance of baptism.  I see no reason why the translation of Jacob ‘s comments on plural wives would not have provoked a similar inquiry and revelation.

We know the information was suppressed from at least 1831 to 1843.  What we do not have is an earlier version from which to reconstruct the entire process; we only have the finished product in 1843.  With that, I think the revelation divides into sections as follows:

First, the original revelation begins in the first verse and continues until verse 40.  This is concerned with one subject and provides the doctrinal and historical basis for the practice of plural wives.  However, the subject changes in verse 41 and comes in response to another inquiry regarding the subject of adultery.
The answer to the question on adultery is a separate revelation beginning in response to Joseph’s inquiry in verse 41 and continuing through verse 50.  That revelation confirms upon Joseph the sealing authority by the voice of God (a separate issue altogether) and pronounces Joseph’s calling and election sure.  This is the voice of the Lord to Joseph confirming his exaltation and it is unlikely to have happened at the same time as the original revelation in 1829 or 1831.  [It is important that this conferral of authority to seal, and his calling and election are contemporaneous events.  This is not well understood by the church today, but nevertheless true.]
Verses 51 through 56 are a revelation to Emma which appears to be separate as well.  It makes no sense to have this revelation given to instruct, warn and counsel Emma until after she learns of the first revelation and has reacted to it.  Once that has happened, a separate revelation to her about her reaction makes sense.
Because of Emma’s refusal after her warning, the final section from verses 61 through the end is a new explanation of the law.  It talks about how to proceed in light of her (or any woman’s) rejection of the principle.
These are four of the potential five sections which appear to me.  It is possible that verses 64-66 are also separate from verses 61-63, which would then make five total revelations which are grouped into this single section of the D&C.
Now, what is important about this revelation being in separate parts (to me at least) is that first, the subject was not fully understood by Joseph when first received.  He encountered practical and doctrinal questions even after the first revelation came on the subject.  That is commonly experienced by all who receive revelation from God.  Additionally, it is important that the sealing authority was given to Joseph by the word of the Lord, in revelation to him, apart from the events in the Kirtland Temple.  This is consistent with how that authority came to Helaman in chapter 10 of Helaman, as well.  The voice of the Lord speaking about exaltation and conferring authority at the same moment is the Lord’s way of doing things.  It was no different for Joseph.
Now, least anyone be confused or begin asking questions about plural wives, I do not believe in the practice.  It was discontinued and we do not practice it.  I have addressed the polygamists’ claims to the right to continue the practice in Beloved Enos and my position is as I stated there. 

Creation Ceremonies

I was asked about the creation account being tied to ritual initiation ceremonies.  All the ancient accounts of creation were given in connection with initiations or ceremonial rites.  That is true of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Israelites, Babylonians, Hopis, etc.  The ritualized explanation of the origin of human life is tied together with the meaning of life, and obligations about how life was to be lived, and what the afterlife will hold.  The restored Temple rights are consistent with the most ancient of traditions.

Interestingly, the rites of the Masons do not have this basic orientation, and are therefore not part of the tradition from which the endowment ceremony springs.

Las Vegas

We returned from Las Vegas.  I have an assortment of observations:
They didn’t have a law school there just a few years ago, and lawyers were scarce.  They’ve been able to make up for the shortage I can tell from the billboards.  Lawyers do traffic tickets for $50 and DUI’s for $700.  They get catchy phone numbers like 444-4444; and if you want a “half-priced” one he’s 400-4000.  Not sure what a half-priced lawyer amounts to.
 Sex still sells, apparently.  At least the advertisers think so.  I wonder if Lot would live in Las Vegas were he alive today.

I walked through the casino to the hotel elevator carrying my scriptures, baggage and in company with my wife and four daughters.  I assume we were as much a spectacle to the patrons as the patrons were to us.

While there must be a few folks for whom gambling offers some sort of glamor, I did not detect much of that.  Mostly you could see boredom or desperation on the faces of the typical patron.

They don’t pay the girls who deal on the blackjack tables enough to dress properly.  Poor things only have a tiny remnant of a pair of levis on, not enough to cover their underwear.  Their exposed garters and fishnet stockings betray a style dating back to the 1960’s.  They were practically unclad on top, as well.  I assume these hallmarks of poverty betray an employer who is exploiting their labor without appropriate remuneration.  

The baseball was fun, but Alta went 2-2.  Still searching for the right combination in the batting lineup and trying to fill a gap at 3rd base still, too.  They’ll get there.  Now we’re back in Salt Lake for some more ‘snowball.

General Conference was broadcast live on the TV, but I couldn’t find either an AM or FM station carrying it on the radio.  I wondered why that was.

The LDS Temple is pointed out on the top of the Stratosphere Hotel as a point of interest.  I thought that was interesting.


I noticed an older couple wearing newly-wed attire.  They both had enough miles on them to make them either eternal optimists about the state of matrimony or habitual about their marital affairs.  I like to think them optimists.

Ideas and thoughts

Ideas are things. Real things. They come into existence as we create them. They will become subject to the judgment of God, because our thoughts are perhaps the most real part of us. (See Alma 12: 14.)



We should guard our thoughts as we guard the lives of our children. Our thoughts hold the key to everything else.

This is so important a matter that the Lord tied knowledge of priesthood itself to the thoughts we entertain in the privacy of our minds. Only when our thoughts are worthy are we able to bear the presence of God. (D&C 121: 45.)


If you study the scriptures and then meditate upon them also. You will only develop power within as you do so.

Where do your fast offerings go?

The ward I live in has been an exporter of fast offering donations for decades. I don’t think there has been a time since it’s beginning when we haven’t exported fast offering donations. Two weeks ago in a meeting with the Priest’s Quorum, our bishop remarked that we are using nearly all the fast offering contributions inside our own ward to meet family needs of our own neighbors.

This economy has affected the church’s “breadbasket” along the Wasatch Front. The church is able to project international efforts because of the tithing of the saints in Utah. When Utah’s economy falters, the church is affected.

The last report the US Government released (that I saw) announced that tax collections were down 40%. If tax revenues are down by this much, tithing contributions must bear some proportion near to that.

The US has been blessed for the sake of the church. When we do not merit blessings, judgments follow. The economic prosperity of the US has not been because we are better than other people, but because it furthers the Lord’s purposes. When you view our current circumstances in moral terms, then we should ask what we need to do to merit further blessings from the Lord.

There are no private sins. We have only the illusion of privacy. All eternity looks on at us, at times in complete wonder at our astonishing pride and vanity.

Various Creation Accounts

There are different versions of the creation.  The Moses, Abraham and Genesis accouts are similar in putting Adam alone at the point when the commandment was given to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The Temple account does not preserve this.

All the accounts are intended as initiation ceremonies.  In the Abraham account, for example, there are directions given to the players who perform the ceremony.  They are all “endowment” documents.

Each ceremony can be viewed as a separate revelation.  The fact that there are differences means nothing.  All of them are intended to highlight or emphasize different teachings.  It is foolish to ask “which one is right” because they are all right.

The creation (or transplant of man onto this world) is not really the reason for the various ceremonial accounts of the event.  They are intended to orient us to how we got here (by a deliberate, planned act of God), why were are here (to find our way back to God) and why conditions here are difficult (to gain knowledge of good and evil).  The accounts are really about us.  Each of us was born innocent in the beginning, gradually become accountable, feel ourselves outside the presence of God, and must work to return.

Repent and be humble

As the Apostle John closes his Gospel, he adds this comment: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written ever one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21: 25.)

In D&C 7’s headnote we read that Section 7 is a “translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up.”

In D&C 93 we read, “John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed. And he bore record, saying: …” (D&C 93: 6-7.) From verses 7 through 18 it is an excerpt from John’s more complete, and as yet unrevealed account.

[Bruce R. McConkie concluded that this was the testimony of John the Baptist, and not John the Beloved. I have accepted Elder McConkie’s position in books I have written, however, I believe the account in Section 93 is more likely John the Beloved’s record. Since the issue is only a 3 to me on the earlier scale I proposed, I have simply accepted Elder McConkie’s view in what I have written.]

John likely had a good deal more to add concerning the Savior, but deliberately withheld it. Similarly, we have the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon as a reminder that not everything has been revealed to us which prior generations had given to them.

We ought to have a bit more humility about our “Restoration” than we have. The fact is, we have never been given what the ancients were trusted to possess. We have never been equal to them. We certainly aren’t now. Until we take seriously the Book of Mormon (which will require us to both repent and become more humble than we’ve ever been), we aren’t qualified to receive more. (See, e.g., 3 Ne. 26: 7-12; D&C 84: 54-58.)

Of what then do we have to boast?