The Scriptures

The first copy of the Book of Mormon I ever had was one of the bright blue paperback copies with the gold Moroni statue on the cover.  If you are too young to have ever seen one of those, you should Google it.  They were so cool.  I was sad when they didn’t have those any more.  I got it before I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was in 1973.

I loved that book.  I think after decades, and after its cover was gone, it finally ended up being thrown away, but I loved it.  It was greatly marked up.  I think it is the one I used to graph out chiasmi (had to look up the plural form of that word!) in college in different colored pencils.

Back in the days when I was baptized into the Church, we used any King James Version copy of the Bible that we wanted.  I had a different version of the Bible from my childhood as a Baptist, and I believe I used that for a bit, but at some point I got a KJV.

At some point I was taught that Joseph Smith worked on a “translation” or “inspired version” of the Bible.  This was marvelous to me!  Since we believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly, to have a more correct version would be such a blessing.

I had no access to the corrections Joseph had made, though, until 1979 when the LDS King James Version was printed.  I was a young married person at that time, and I remember Vaughn and I were so excited about this!  In this Bible, the verses that Joseph had changed, or added to in some way, were marked with a footnote, and if the change was short, you could find it at the bottom of that page in the notes.  Longer changes were in a separate section in the back.

In 1981 a new Triple Combination (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in one volume) was also published by the Church.  Around then I got a “Quad” which was all four books of scripture bound into one.  In that Quad, I went through and highlighted in red pencil the notes which were Joseph’s inspired changes of the Bible at the bottom of each page where they were found, so that I would not miss one while reading.  I loved the inspired version.  I did find that Joseph’s changes weren’t always used or referred to at Church, though, even in lessons, and that surprised me.

At some point I learned that not all of Joseph’s changes were in the new LDS KJV.  This really surprised me.  I did not understand why you would not want to have every single thing Joseph ever changed actually in the Bible.  I think I asked about why it wasn’t in there, and I do remember that from whatever I was told, my understanding at that point was that the RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ) had the rest of it, and so the Mormon Church did not have the rights to it all, and so couldn’t print it. Turns out that wasn’t quite true, and also that the RLDS version also had changes made to it after Joseph died and had other mistakes in it, as did all the scriptures at that time.

A few years ago I began to realize the problems with the Doctrine & Covenants.  Such things as changes being made to Joseph’s revelations by others after the fact, and other problems.  And I learned about the Book of Mormon problems with punctuation (there was none in the original manuscript – it was all added at first by the type setter), transcription and typesetting errors, etc.  I obtained a copy of Royal Skousen’s The Book of Mormon, The Earliest Text.  It was quite amazing to read, especially because it was more in the format it was before the division into chapters and verses.  The flow and understanding of it seemed so different.

After that I started to really wish I had the ability and know-how to research and figure out all the erroneous changes, and to get back to what Joseph Smith originally received as far as the Book of Mormon is concerned, and back to the original revelations he received without the changes others had made (which sometimes greatly changed, or even reversed the original meaning).  Shortly after wishing that, I heard a rumor that someone else was actually doing that, and I was very excited about it.

It turned out that there were actually two groups of people, who both felt that they needed to do that very thing – go through all the scriptures, and all the sources, and all the research, and put together something that was as correct and as close to what Joseph Smith had done as possible.  After both working on the project for quite a while, those two groups found out about each other, and they got together, and shared everything they had done so far, and began to work together on the project.

The whole project turned out to be more work, more amazing, and more important than anyone realized at the beginning.  I have some friends amongst the group, and I was talking with one of them a few days ago.  I asked him if he had any idea how much work, and how important a project this would be when he first began.  He said he had no idea.

The project has taken a few years and the efforts of many people.  As it went on, the participants, and those cheering them on from the sidelines, began to slowly realize how vital this work was to what the Lord is doing right now.

It is finally done, although there will always be new revelations to add.  The Lord loves everyone and he speaks today and to all nations.  So much more is also expected in the future.  But it was vital to recover and remember, as much as possible, what the Lord had already given during this restoration, which was not finished during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, but which now has a chance to be finished.  This was one of the absolutely vital elements, which I don’t think most of us realized at the start.

What has been done in this project is available to read for free at http://scriptures.info/.  There will be hard copies of the finished project available before too long.

I am so incredibly grateful to the people who have worked on this, and to the Lord for inspiring and guiding them throughout.

 

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Today is a Day

Today is a day I feel very sick.

I feel sick every single day. I have felt sick every single day for many years.

But some days, like today, I have moments when I feel like it might be the last day. Obviously whenever I have felt that it hasn’t been true, so far, but someday it will be.

Any of you who know me much at all know I have Lyme Disease. I had it for 6 years before anyone knew what was wrong, and so it got a hold in my brain and in at least some organs, and my general trend has been slowly downward, as far as health goes. It is likely Lyme is what will kill me.

It’s not that there’s no hope for remission. There is. I hope I get there. But I’m not really feeling it today.

But this post is not about Lyme.

This post is about death. But it is not meant to be sad, nor to make anyone sad.

There are moments when I want to die. When I am so sick that I know death would be a great relief. But I still have a strong underlying will to live. I’m not ready to leave you all yet!  But, I have also felt for years that if that will goes away, I will die. I know it is God keeping me alive. He has told me that many times. But I also think if that will inside me dies, that he will honor that. God never forces me, he only persuades me.

Every time I write a blog post, I think about what I want people I love to know now and when I am gone. But before I die, what do I want people to know the very most? I am going to try now to say some of those things. Both my practical wishes and more spiritual and emotional thoughts.

And a lot of it is stuff I want everyone who knows me to know, so I put it here on my blog instead of just telling a few family privately.

I am grateful. For everything. For every moment of my life, and for everything that I have experienced. I can say that in this moment. In the midst of my desperate moments, I can’t always say that. But in this calm moment, and looking back at every hard thing, I can say it and mean it with my whole soul.

In one of my very most desperate moments, when all I could do was try to keep breathing and pray without even words, the Lord took my mind to a place where I could see that everything was as it should be, and that we are all one in some profound way, and that Love has us in its arms.

I try to remember that. It’s not always easy.

I read this article, and I have some things to say pertaining to what it talks about.

I have watched my child die, and I have watched my Mother die. I tried to be there when my Father died, but I was too late. It was a privilege to be with my son and my Mom. I hope that it helped them to feel my great love for them as they moved on. I hope that someone who loves me dearly will be with me when I die. I believe someone will, even if there happens to not be someone mortal there at the time.

As for medical wishes, I know that advance directives might not do very well at actually describing what should be done in the end of life. My Mom’s was not written the way it needed to be to honor her wishes. Thankfully she was awake and lucid that last day and could tell them what not to do.

So, while I want to live now, there are some states I would not want to live in. I do not want to live in continuous terror. I do not want to live in continuous excruciating pain. I do not want to live if my mind is gone. If my mind is there, but everything else is gone, particularly the ability to communicate, let me go to sleep and move on.

If you happen to be with me when I am dying, talk to me. Even if you think I can’t hear you, talk to me. Tell me how you feel. Tell me about yourself. If you can’t think of anything to say, then read to me. Or play me talks you know I would like. Rub my back or my feet, if it seems to feel good to me, and if it doesn’t gross you out too much 🙂 . I want to die at home with my comfort managed, if at all possible.

When I die, donate my organs and tissues to those who study Lyme Disease, if possible. Don’t spend any more money than absolutely necessary on me after death! I am fine with being buried just in my flannel pajamas and no coffin or anything. Or cremate me and pour my ashes in some pretty place. I want my family to do whatever they want that is easiest for them. If there is a memorial service or something like that (only if you want to have one), then sing for me, if you feel like it, and I will be listening.

All I ask is that before you do any of those things, make sure I am really dead. I was too affected by reading Poe’s “Premature Burial” in my youth 🙂 .  (I also realize some of this stuff needs to go in a will.)

If you think you have ever hurt me, offended me, upset me, etc., Let It Go! I have prayed many nights that no one would ever be condemned for anything they have done to me, that they would be blessed with the greatest possible blessings, and with whatever was best for them. I have been abused, molested, raped, robbed, shunned, berated, humiliated, treated terribly, and horribly misunderstood. So have a lot of people. If you have done any of those things to me, you either actually haven’t, or I forgive you. I only think back about those things in terms of what I have learned, or can learn, if I think of them at all. I have learned a lot from it all. My hard times have been a blessing.

If you have ever loved or helped me in any way, I am so thankful to you! More than I can say! I have prayed many nights for you to have the greatest possible blessings, and whatever is best for you. I have been cherished, healed, gently cared for, blessed, befriended, helped in huge financial and so many other ways, and dearly loved. I wish those things for everyone. I have learned so much from everyone who has been so good to me. My good times have been a blessing.

If I have ever harmed you in any way, please forgive me. I am foolish and human. It would be too long a list if I wrote all my faults. If you know me, you know at least some of them. For your own peace, forgive me. And also know that my desire my whole life has been to never hurt anyone. I have, of course, failed miserably. But that has been my desire.

I remember that my Step-Father told my Mother that if they had an argument, and if he died before they could make up, to not feel badly or guilty about that. To me, that was beautiful. I say the same. Whatever our circumstances at the time I die, know that I have only love for any of you who know me, and anything less is not the truth, it is just a hindrance of mortality, and I don’t plan on taking anything but love for everyone with me. So have no regrets and no guilt because of me.

I have the best family and friends ever. Every one of you, living and dead. You are all the best. You are all perfect for me. I would not change any of you. I would wish for you all to be happier, and healthier, and more peaceful, and to know more truth to delight your souls, but I also know God has you. They have you.

The path of my life has been perfect for me, and I trust that it will continue to be. Even if I whine about it.

Whenever I die, I believe it will be the right time. I know some people will be very sad. That is okay. It is always worth the pain to love. I hope you will have comfort in knowing I loved you dearly and you made my life wonderful. But don’t get sad yet. I’m still here!

I do intend to live many more years. I am not that old (although it may seem I am to my younger family and friends 🙂 ), and the disease I have is sometimes possible to get under control. I am doing lots of things right now to get well, and some of that might actually be making me feel temporarily worse, which prompted this post. So have lots of hope for me. And I look forward to writing lots more on this blog!

It makes me glad to have written this.  Thank you for reading it.

And when we do die, we’ll just be coming home again to each other.

“But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for
And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!”

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Grateful Still

I am just sitting here thinking how grateful I am for the last few years and what the Lord has been doing with me to try to teach me.  And I am grateful God is patient and uses persuasion and not control or force.

The Lord is always gentle with me.

I have talked about this before, but I can look back over my life and see God leading me the whole time.  But He doesn’t push or force, and so I see that I have to show I really do want what I get, and I have to actually be willing to sacrifice what it takes to get it and what comes as a result.

I am thinking about the catalysts for what I have learned and experienced the past decade or so.  I think there are a few things that allowed the Lord to teach me so much more stuff, and to give me more experiences to learn from.

First, I had this love for Jesus and a desire to be like He was from a very early age, which I have talked about before on this blog.  I think that was a gift, and probably something brought with me from before this life.

Second, I studied certain things for decades.  And I was restless with the status quo.  Because of what I learned, I knew that experiencing the same things for decades, and really not learning all that much more, was not the way it was supposed to be.  Yes, I had great experiences with people and with God, but when I look back, I can see there was not a whole lot more insight or knowledge of the things of God that I gained, no matter how much I read or studied through those years.

Third, miraculously I was led to the further information I had been searching actively for, for all those decades.  I attribute that totally to God, but I also know that if I hadn’t been searching, He wouldn’t have forced the information on me.  And if at any point I had (or if I do now) rejected what I was being given, He would have stopped giving me what I didn’t want.

Fourth, I finally (after a long time of being foolish) took a step away from the control of men and followed what the spirit of the Lord was telling me, and then miracles happened that opened the way for me to learn so many things.

Fifth, that led to more stepping away than I ever imagined I might have to do.  I had to sacrifice what I had often before described as “my whole life.”  What I learned through doing that was that I had conflated an institution and the control of men with what was ACTUALLY my whole life.

Sixth, I learned that life could be even harder than I imagined, but that in the midst of that, I could still be thankful every minute for the greater knowledge and understanding I was given.  It is worth it.

I am thankful every day for this new path.  Many things are sad and hard.  Harder than I ever imagined things would be, as I said.  But never, not for a moment, have I felt it is not worth it.  Truth is delicious, as Joseph Smith said.  And the more I learn and understand, the more I realize I don’t know and don’t understand.  I have had to lay what I thought I knew, and what I thought I understood, on the altar, so the Lord could really teach me.  It is an incredible journey which both breaks you and heals you. And it doesn’t end, if you don’t want it to.

Another word about truth.  It may not always feel good to hear it in the first moment.  It may sometimes be VERY uncomfortable to hear the truth.  We may think truth is false at first when it goes against something we believe, when it makes us feel uncomfortable and bumps up against our cognitive dissonance.

Truth, or things God asks of us, do NOT always “feel” good or give us “warm fuzzies.”  There are examples of that over and over in the scriptures.  I used the example of Samuel the Lamanite in another post.  The people shooting arrows at him certainly took the truth to be hard because what he was saying went against what they believed.

But truth is worth whatever we have to sacrifice.  We may have to join Samuel on the wall and have arrows shot at us also.  In the 6th Lecture on Faith, paragraph 9, it says “the knowledge that men have that they are accepted in the sight of God is obtained by offering sacrifice. And in the last days before the Lord comes, he is to gather together his saints who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Psalms 50:3 – 5 [Ps. 50:1]: Our God shall come and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant unto me by sacrifice.” (reference here)  The words I put in bold in that quote show that we can’t just make a covenant “to” sacrifice, we make a covenant “by” sacrifice.

There is always sacrifice.  In the next paragraph from Lectures on Faith: “Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on Eternal life and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith, therefore they cannot lay hold upon Eternal life because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do, and without this guarantee faith could not exist.” (reference here)

I thought I was sacrificing before.  There was sacrifice for me before, but it was not the same.  It is clear there are levels upon levels of sacrifice.  We have only to look at the atonement to know that.

Anyway, it has been beautiful to me, this last decade especially, no matter the sacrifice.  And I am forever grateful.  I hope I can learn everything it is possible for me to in this life, and that I can do whatever the Lord wants me to do.  I only can with the Lord’s help.  That I do know.

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Beautiful Symbolism

Some of the most beautiful and misunderstood symbolism illuminated:

“this” and “that” Part 3

In a temple ceremony, a veil is used as a symbol to separate the initiate from the Lord. This is a symbol of the division between heaven and earth, between time and eternity, or between the sacred and the commonplace. Beyond the veil are the angels, gods and spirits (that). Here there are mortals.

Passing through that veil (that) happens in one of two ways. One way is to gain knowledge of God’s mysteries and living true and faithful to them. This is symbolized in the temple ceremony, but that actually happened in the case of the brother of Jared. “And because of the knowledge of this man, he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. And he saw the finger of Jesus, which when he saw, he fell with fear, for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord. And he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil. Therefore, he saw Jesus, and he did minister unto him.” (NC Ether 1:14) Temple rites explain that anyone who arrives at the veil boundary who has been true and faithful in all things is entitled to converse with the Lord through the veil. Once the Lord is satisfied they possess the required attributes, then they can enter into His presence.

The second way of passing through that veil is explained by Alma, “[B]ehold, it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (NC Alma 19:6)

The ceremony employs two veils to symbolize the separation between mortality and eternity, the sacred and the profane. The boundary veil is used during the ceremony to test the initiate before permitting the individual to enter into the presence of the Lord. The second veil is used to symbolize the role of the woman.

Except for what happens in the womb of the woman, everything in mortality is subject to entropy. Women have the ordained power to produce new life. Everything else decays and dies. Her power defies the universal effects of entropy.

The ceremonial boundary veil that acts as the divider between worlds represents when the initiate is tested by heaven. This takes place before they are permitted to pass from earth to heaven, from time to eternity and from the commonplace to the sacred. In direct contrast, the veil of the woman represents the transition of pre-earth eternal spirits into mortality, when the sacred becomes embodied. She, along with God, veils in flesh the spirits from beyond the veil. “You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and have framed me with bones and sinews.” (OC Job 4:10) Therefore, the woman’s veil represents the inverse of the other veil. The boundary veil symbolizes losing the flesh to leave mortality, and her veil endows the immortal spirit with mortal flesh.

Like her heavenly counterpart, the woman represents creation. This process, like that which is beyond the boundary veil, is sacred. Both veils symbolize the sacred.

Woman is veiled to show that in a fallen world, trapped by decay and death, creation continues through her. Life springs anew and what is sacred and pure is born into mortal life. It would not be proper to remove the ceremonial veiling from the woman unless the intention was to abort the symbol of new life and creation. It destroys the symbol of the sacred power given to woman. The destroyer, of course, seeks to end life and impose misrule and death.

Of all the symbols in the temple rites, some of the most important and least understood involve the woman. The role of man is knowledge and the role of woman is wisdom. In the paper Our Divine Parents, pages 35 through 38, there is a discussion about Moses’ parable of the creation of man and woman. The woman had a direct relation to the Heavenly Mother, from whom she obtained the power to produce new life. That power resides with the Eternal Mother, and had to be endowed by Her for the mortal woman to inherit that eternal power. The creation of woman was designed to preserve, despite the fall of man, the Divine Mother’s power allowing life to continue despite the relentless pull of entropy toward dissolution, decay and the grave. This originally elevated the woman.

The original of the portion of this post in blue print can be found here.

“Our Divine Parents” is a wonderful paper to read for much more amazing information on this subject.

You can also listen to the audio of the “Our Divine Parents” talk here.

Here is the YouTube video of the talk.

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More Symbolism

Beautiful and extremely important symbolism discussed:

“this” and “that” Part 2

Like the parables Christ taught, temple rites have always used symbols to use “this” act or performance in order to reveal truths about “that” which is eternal. Temples are a great storehouse of symbolism, or one great parable used to teach truths about God. For example, under the Law of Moses, the rites of animal sacrifice required for various sins and cleansings were used to teach about the future sacrifice of a Redeemer.

The Scribes and Pharisees did not understand Christ’s parables. Those stories meant nothing to them. If it had been left to the Scribes and Pharisees, Christ’s parables would have been discarded. Imagine what Christianity would lack if we did not have the parable of the Good Samaritan, or the mustard seed, or the lost coin, or the Prodigal Son because the Scribes and Pharisees saw no reason to retain them.

When it comes to symbols (this) representing something else (that), the temple clothing given in the initiation is filled with symbolism. Depicted in the beginning of temple ceremony are six days of creation. They include six organizing labors divided into increments called “days.” Day 1: organizing together disorganized material to form a world. Day 2: dividing the water from the land. Day 3: establishing the lights in the firmament as signs. Day 4: placing plant life. Day 5: placing animal life. Day 6: putting man on earth. Despite the interruption, the seventh day was ordained to be a time of rest from labor.

There are also six articles of clothing. Article 1: robe. Article 2: slippers, Article 3: cap. Article 4: apron. Article 5: girdle. Article 6: undergarment. Each of these articles of clothing is worn by the initiate to symbolize, among other things, the creation labors, or one of the six days of creation. The slippers represent to the initiate the second day of creation. Until the dry land appeared, there was no place for man to walk.

The temple clothing symbolizes other things as well. The slippers in particular have an important second meaning; one that is more intimate than the appearance of dry land on the second day of creation. Slippers are removed and then put on again as part of the temple clothing so as to draw attention to them. Unlike the robes, which are changed from one shoulder to another to symbolize progression, nothing is done with the slippers when the robes change shoulders. Once they are donned as part of the temple regalia, they are to remain on the initiate even while other articles are moved. This is because once a soul begins to walk in the path of righteousness they are never to depart from that path.

The journey of the saved soul remains ongoing until we are in the presence of God. The slippers represent staying on the path; having remained true and faithful in all things. This in turn qualifies the individual to converse with the Lord through the veil and receive further light and knowledge. A house of God must symbolize this, as explained by Micah: “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” (OC Micah 1:9; see also Isa. 1:6) The symbol of staying on that path is critical because that is the only way to obtain salvation: “none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.” (NC 2 Ne. 15:1) Following this path has been the message delivered by true prophets among the Jews and Nephites. “Cry unto this people, saying, Repent ye, repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight[.]” (NC Alma 5:3; see also NC Matt. 2:1)

The slippers and other articles of ceremonial clothing represent one of the days of creation, or symbolize part of the creation itself. Wearing these six symbols means the initiate represents the creation. When the initiate enters through the veil into God’s presence, that entry represents redemption of the initiate, and also symbolizes the redemption of all creation. This means that the creating process continues even if only one couple is redeemed. Through the redemption of the man and woman as one, they will continue to create worlds without end. (See NC Eph. 1:11; T&C 69:28) Christ testified, “Moreover, those who are here on this journey with me will be added upon for evermore if they have faith in me. They will rise up to likewise generate endless lives, worlds without end.” (T&C 171: Chapter 5:16)

The symbolic journey of the initiate is also the symbolic continuation of all creation. There will be other souls created, and other worlds established like the world in which we presently live. Thus the journey on that path continues worlds without end. Taking off the slippers and putting them on again as part of the temple clothing is a profound symbol of eternal truth.

The original of the portion of this post in blue print can be found here.

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Symbolism

Symbolism and symbols are vital to humans, I believe.  I have realized more and more that it is the way to learn many profound truths, even from just one symbol.  Jesus used symbols to teach profound truths.

Some important points about some important symbols:

“this” and “that”

Symbolism substitutes one thing to represent another. There is always “this” that stands in the place of “that.” The value of the symbol is in teaching about “that” by employing “this” as a teaching tool.

In temple symbolism, the “this” used has no real value, but “that” holds eternal value. If an unbelieving person obtains access to “this” temple symbol, but fails to understand its relationship to “that” which is eternal, they have nothing of value. Likewise, when the symbol this has no meaning for those who believe in the temple, then it fails to have any value for the believer as well.

God’s highest truths frequently use symbols. Christ used parables to teach about that by using the familiar to substitute as a representation. He explained that this was to prevent those who were unworthy of the symbol from comprehending the truths. Seeing, they “see not” and hearing they “hear not.” (See, NC Matt. 7:2; Mark 2:13.) So we understand that merely getting this without understanding that is worthless.

Temple rites are a gift from God that is filled with this for that. Ignorance leads to apostasy because the ignorant cannot see that this holds powerful value to teach about that. Even the greatest symbols can become nothing when they are not understood and are discarded by the ignorant. Then “they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what does it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (T&C 86:4)

Before the temple endowment was given, God explained what He intended to accomplish through the future rites: “I say unto you that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places, wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory and honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.” (T&C 141:12) God intended the symbols to convey glory, honor and a gift or endowment upon the people who received them. The symbols are not the real thing, but they teach and point to the real thing that is required for salvation.

In the temple ceremony there are symbols for certain virtues that are called “keys.” These keys use hand contact and words as the symbol (this) to substitute for the actual virtues of obedience, sacrifice, chastity, gospel and consecration (that).

In the Egyptian ceremonial there was a symbolic weighing of the heart against the Ma’at feather, along with the 42 negative confessions that a person had not sinned, had not robbed with violence, had not stolen, had not uttered lies, had not committed adultery, and so on. These rites were intended to teach the person to avoid bad behaviors and acquire the seven virtues of truth, justice, balance, order, compassion, harmony, and reciprocity.

Like the ceremonies of Egypt, the restored temple rites were also intended to symbolize the acquisition of the virtues of obedience, sacrifice, chastity, gospel and consecration. The ceremony also put the initiate through a symbolic judgment in the presence of a judge who conversed with the initiate through the veil, asking for them to present the symbols (this) to demonstrate they had acquired and were in possession of the required virtues (that).

Anyone can learn of the ceremonial symbols without possessing the required virtues. But to satisfy the God-judge who meets mankind as they pass through the veil at death, the initiate must possess the actual virtues these key words and hand contacts represent. They must have the real thing.

Throughout the restored temple ceremonies the symbols are introduced sequentially, first on the right side. Therefore, interpreting the symbols focuses on understanding the significance of the right side.

To teach Christ’s gospel using symbol, part of the temple ceremony included putting a robe on the left shoulder and tying a girdle around the waist on the right hip. By putting the robe on the left shoulder, the right shoulder was left uncovered. Anciently, clothing was valuable, and most labor was manual. A bare shoulder could become calloused through work, and if scratched or cut, could heal. But a torn robe took effort and time to repair, and any injury to the garment would shorten its life. Therefore, clothing was protected from this daily labor when possible by leaving the weight-bearing shoulder uncovered. Leaving the right shoulder bare in the temple ceremony symbolized that at that stage of the initiation there was still the need to carry a burden on the right side. The work was not done.

The belly is the symbolic center of our appetites and passions. Tying the bow of the girdle on the right side symbolized the need to bind the belly, or control the appetites and passions that so often lead to sin and conflict. The bow symbolized the effort required to conquer the unruly body.

There was also a bow over the right ear for the man, the bow having three loops. Placing these over the right ear symbolized the need to hear, or hearken. The three loops above the ear symbolize first the Godhead who are above. These loops secondly also symbolize the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose names are often used to identify the true God. By obeying the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the person can accomplish the labor symbolized by the bare shoulder and bind the inappropriate appetites and unruly passions portrayed in the knotted girdle on the right hip.

When the individual achieves these required developmental improvements symbolized in this robing, then they remove all these accouterments and put them on again. Removing them was the symbol that all progress made will not be enough if you are unwilling to lay them aside, sacrifice what you have obtained from God, in order to receive more. Nothing can be gained if you are unwilling to change as often as God may require of you. Even if you mourn the loss of what you must lay aside, when God asks it of you it must be done to progress further.

As the symbolic journey continued, the robe and girdle were again donned and changed. This time the robe moved to the right shoulder and the bow is tied on the left hip. Because the symbols are interpreted from the right side, this movement shows that the hard work has been accomplished, and the robe can be safely worn upon the shoulder. The physical battle is over and the body has been controlled. They have won honor through their progression in light and truth. There is no longer a knot or tie on the right hip, but only the smooth girdle surrounding the belly because desires, appetites and passions have been defeated. Progress has been made. This is why they were part of temple worship.

The previous part of this post in blue lettering was reprinted here with permission from the author.  That original post can be found here.

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A Quote

The quote:

“Although the Lord invites all to come to Him, only a few will accept the invitation
to come. You may wonder why; but it is because men are unwilling to accept
what is offered. They want authority in this world. They want praise and honor
from men. They cannot accept His invitation until they lay all such things aside
and realize that any honor, any authority, any power comes only from heaven.
Without a connection to heaven there is no power, no authority and no honor.
Heavenly power or authority can only be exercised by fully mirroring the will of
heaven, and never by acting independent of that will. Man’s own will cannot,
does not, and never will be allowed to govern. Even though someone may be
ordained to hold priesthood, called to an office, or given the right to decide
matters in the Church, that does not empower them to contradict the will of
heaven. Men cannot substitute their desire for heaven’s; because whenever
they do that, the acts they perform while only pretending to follow heaven will
condemn them. They use the name of God in vain anytime they follow their own
desire, while falsely claiming they are doing heaven’s will. Men who try to
conceal their sins, who in their pride claim authority over others, who claim the
right to control or manipulate others, whose ambitions set their agenda, cannot
and do not conform to heaven’s will. Heaven itself withdraws from such men,
and when it does they have absolutely no priesthood authority or power. Such
men are left to themselves, and oftentimes they seek to exercise yet more
control, more authority, and more feigned priesthood rights over the humble
who suffer under their claimed presiding authority. When such ambitious men
subjugate these humble Saints, they are fighting against God. They will come
to learn too late for their own salvation that they have been on their own errand
all along, and not the Lord’s. Unfortunately almost all men fall victim to this false
illusion of control over others. As soon as someone believes they have been
given the authority of heaven, they almost immediately begin to abuse their
fellow man with claims about the right to control, manipulate or coerce them.
This is why so very few have ever really accepted His invitation to come unto
Him. There really is no authority in the priesthood He gives to men. The
priesthood is an invitation to come and learn to persuade others by the power
of example, to convince others by the things which you will endure for their
sake, to show love without pretense and without calling attention to yourself. It
is an invitation to service. It is an invitation to seek after heaven itself. When
someone accepts that invitation, and meekly submits to the gentle influence of
the Holy Spirit, they will learn more by showing kindness to their fellow man
than they can ever learn through any other means. Such men will rebuke
others only on those occasions when heaven would rebuke; but even then they
will immediately show increased love. They will not fail to show unceasing love,
even to those who required a sharp word. Such men always show love to
others as the most important part of their example. Such men will convince
those to whom they minister that they would give their lives to save them
because their love is so strong. Anyone who is in contact with heaven will love
all their fellow men. They will meditate night and day upon the things of heaven.
They will be able to enter into God’s own presence because their lives are so
lived that heaven willingly accompanies them. They will deserve residence in
heaven, and therefore heaven will take up residence with them. God will be
their companion. Love will be theirs because they will never try to control,
dominate or subdue others. Because of their love, the power of heaven (which
is love) will be with them forever and ever.” 

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