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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Went to baseball practice this morning. My youngest daughter plays on a boy’s team (she’s the only girl). Today in a scrimmage she was the only one to hit a double.
There was an article in the Church News about a symposium at BYU dealing with the “Organization and Administration of the LDS Church.” The article can be found here: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58903/Symposium-deals-with-the-institution-of-the-Church.html. The article mentions a paper delivered by Professor Bushman titled “Joseph Smith and the Routinization of Charisma.” Among other things, Professor Bushman asserts the church’s “genius can be largely explained in the fact that the expectation of divine revelation has been built into the very administrative structure and offices of the Church, an expectation attributable to the Prophet himself.” This is what he asserted also in Rough Stone Rolling.
From the two thousand year example of the Roman Catholic Church, I fear presumptions like these. There is a profound difference between actual revelation and an “expectation of divine revelation … built into the very administrative structure and offices of the Church.” He uses comments from Joseph Smith to support the assertion, while ignoring the revelation in Section 121 cautioning that while many may be called, few are chosen. He ignores the revelation that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose they begin to immediately exercise unrighteous dominion. Without confirming revelation given to every member of the Church, as a constant check on abuse, the destiny of Mormonism will be a repeat of the history of Catholicism. A Holy American Empire will replace the Holy Roman Empire, both of which have or will resort to blood and horror as the means to reign over mankind. The bedrock of the Gospel is the testimony of Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19:10.) That is the charisma the scriptures tell us to trust.
There is absolutely no historical precedent we can point to which confirms that charisma can be safely institutionalized. There are an abundance of examples, however, of men abusing religion to gain control over others to satisfy their pride, to exercise control and dominion over others, and to gratify their vain ambition. The only check against this are the individual testimonies of the few, humble followers of Christ. Nevertheless, we are told that in our day even they are going to be led into error oftentimes by those who teach them the precepts of men. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)
I do not know President Monson personally. But his history is well known to all of us. He was a Bishop while in his 20’s, a Stake President shortly thereafter, and then called in his late 30’s to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He worked for Deseret News before becoming a full time General Authority. Essentially his entire life has been church service, both in his profession and in his calling.
If you want to see what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would produce if a life were entirely the product of the institution and experiences derived from serving in and under that institution, you have that in President Monson.
It is clear to me that he absolutely trusts the system which produced all his significant life experiences. The last two vacancies in the Twelve were filled by the senior president of the Seventy. This would make Elder Ron Rasband the next one in line to fill a vacancy in the Twelve. He (Elder Rasband) is a member of my stake.