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President Monson

Why I admire President Monson.

Christ’s denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees included the caution that the outward observances of the law were less important than the “weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”  (Matt. 23: 23.)
 
James, the brother of Jesus and Presiding Bishop of the New Testament Church, whom I regard as the unidentified “Teacher of Righteousness” taught that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1: 27.)
 
Thomas Monson’s lifelong ministry to the widows, elderly and fatherless is sincere, real and lasting.  One of the widows to whom he paid a visit a few short months ago was my wife’s grandmother, the great-grandmother to my children. At the time, she was confined to an assisted-living home.  Without any advance notice President Monson showed up on a stormy Sunday afternoon.  Due to the weather conditions, the care center had decided to cancel their Sacrament Meeting.  He came through the storm, put the meeting back into place, and conducted this Sabbath celebration for the confined, elderly widows and widowers.
 
He lives that “pure religion” which includes the “weighter matters” that, above all else, we ought not leave undone.
 
Virtues are worthy of recognition. I like to take a lead from the Egyptian judgment scale and to weigh a man’s heart against a feather to decide another man’s worthiness before God.  For with what judgment we judge we shall be judged.  (Matt. 7: 2.)

April 6

It is April 6th.  This is the day Latter-day Saints regard as the birth date of the Lord.  His coming into the world in the springtime symbolized the new hope found in Him.  Creation begins anew with the return of light, warming of the earth, flowering of trees and plant life.  Springtime is when the sheep, cattle and other animals bring their young into the world.  It is a time of hope in the cycles of nature.  His coming at this time confirms His role as the Bringer of Hope.

 
He came to redeem the world that all may be saved by Him.

David Christensen YouTube

My friend David Christensen has done yet another video on YouTube.  He asked that I put it up on the blog.  Below is a link to it.
This is how David works to present a message he believes in to the world.  His talent and passion for this is undeniable.

The time is indeed far spent.

Unique and individual experiences

Every life is a miracle.  Every lifetime unique. How amazing is life and the wondrous experiences we are privileged to receive while here. We cannot really see what is inside another person because their experiences have been unique to them and cannot be shared.
 
We should resolve all doubts about someone’s motivation or heart in favor of them.  It is always best to be slow to judge and quick to forgive.

My father would say: “I never spoke a word in anger that I didn’t later regret.”  He was a wise man.  I think that is good advice for all of us.

Encouragement and example

All the prophets can do is offer encouragement to others.  They can affirm that the path back to God exists and can be walked even in a day of sin like today.  They cannot do the walking for anyone other than themselves.  Each person is obligated to walk on the path for him or herself.
 
Examples of others offer encouragement, but can never replace the obligation devolving upon each individual.
 
It would be easier for a person to live in harmony with God in obscurity than with public notice.  Sometimes, however, the Lord requires a person to take a public stand as part of the trial or obligation imposed upon the them.  Whether the person complies with that duty is a measure of the person’s sincerity.

“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.