“The Integration of Temples and Families: A Latter-day Saint Structure for the Jacob Cycle” was published on Friday. This is my first peer-reviewed, academic article, so I’m pretty excited. Anyone with an interest in Biblical literature, or its temple and family themes, would likely enjoy it.
Finished the second volume in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series: Brigham Young.
Here are my favorite quotes from volume 1: Joseph Smith.
These are the passages I marked from Brigham Young:
“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods (DBY, 3).
Here’s everything significant I’ve ever written here about the Book of Mormon:
Apologetics / Evidence
Faith and Teachings
Alma 13:1-20 may be the most linguistically and theologically dense section of the entire Book of Mormon. The first half–about ordination to the high priesthood–has been considered in pieces such as this, and the second half–about Melchizedek–has been analyzed in works such as this.
I see these as part of a whole–a single sermon where Alma not only elucidates several tough ideas in a masterful lecture, but does so in a way that was appropriate for the context and powerfully motivates us to act on the implications of his teachings. This is actually part of a longer work I’m drafting about Alma’s standard teaching template, where his unique pedagogical paradigm in the Book of Mormon–establishing authority, delivering content, and inspiring with a challenge–is briefly repeated towards the end of each of his sermons.
The colors, italics, underlining, etc. in the chart given here are meant to connect the many words and phrases that are identical, or at least synonymous. Just glancing at this arrangement shows how dense the concepts are, especially in the first half of the pattern. We see priesthood, discipleship, and Atonement themes discussed here, and this colorful arrangement shows how they are entwined in Alma’s sermon.
As the punctuation was not part of the original translation, I’ve taken some liberties with it here, modifying it as needed to clarify the meaning of the passage.
I hope this helps demystify a difficult passage for Book of Mormon students.
I’m not a people person by nature. I can enjoy company, but I don’t often seek it out. Usually, I try to avoid it, though I’ve been working on this.
Yesterday I re-read something that had jumped out at me when I read it earlier this year. Actually, I’d read this many times before, but it was upon this reading that something new struck me. Such is the experience of those who study the Book of Mormon.
I’d often wondered how to increase my capacity for charity–the inherent desire to know people, to love them, to want to help them. I’ve prayed for growth in this capacity, but I still have a long way to go.
But then I read these verses:
On Thursday of this week, people in my stake read the Book of Mormon’s little Book of Enos. At the end of that short work, Enos says that as he approached the end of his life, “an hundred and seventy and nine years had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem.” (Enos 1:25)
That actually used to bug me–it seemed implausible that nearly 200 years could pass in the space of only three generations. Any time I tried to make the math work, it just didn’t seem realistic.
But upon reading it again this week, I remembered this story from a couple of years ago: John Tyler, 10th president of the United States, who was born in 1790, has grandsons who are still alive.
Not great-great-great-grandsons, mind you. Grandsons.
That’s well over 220 years covered by only three generations, more than 40 years longer than the time mentioned in the Book of Mormon. If you figure that Lehi might have been about 40 when he “left Jerusalem,” the chronologies aren’t far off at all. Indeed, the Book of Mormon says that Enos’s father Jacob was the next-to-youngest son of a large family (1 Nephi 18:7), and that his parents were quite old at the time (1 Nephi 18:17-18). Enos may well have also been a youngest son of old age.
179 years from 1 Nephi 2 until the end of Enos is perfectly plausible.
Please sign the petition and share!
Here’s the text:
Create an annual Book of Mormon Day | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government
Since being published in 1830, the Book of Mormon has had an enormous impact on American history and culture.
More than 150 million copies have been printed. It has appeared on multiple polls of the most influential books in people’s lives. It has appeared in both scholarly editions and a Penguin Classics version.
The Book of Mormon played a pivotal role in the settlement of the American West. More recently, it has even inspired an award-winning Broadway play of the same name.
It’s time to formally recognize the large contributions made to the United States, its history, and its people, by the Book of Mormon.
March 26–the day it was first published, in New York–should be declared a national Book of Mormon Day.
1. This post at Jr. Ganymede makes some excellent observations gleaned from the temple. I especially like how the author uses his thoughts to draw spiritual lessons for appreciating the wisdom of our Heavenly Father.
2. This video about symbology in LDS architecture, particularly in temples but also in regular meetinghouses, is fascinating. It made me look at my own Sunday church building differently, and more reverently.
Cross-posted from Millennial Star.
PART I: INTRODUCTION
Can you define the word “chair?” Seems simple—let’s say it’s a small, raised platform that’s supported by legs and which typically has a back against which your torso can rest. That definition brings to mind a single, simple, useful picture—in short, a conservative ideal of chairs.
But might that seem too restrictive? So let’s say a chair can have variations. Chairs with wheels are chairs, too, and shouldn’t be judged for being different! Those tacky old chairs that are shaped like a giant hand? Those are chairs that demand to exist as they are—a chair that lives on the fringes of society and is getting tired of being mistreated.
Maybe accepting some natural variations is morally decent, though, right? But now we’re on a slippery slope. There are some people who claim to be more high-minded than the rest, who embrace diversity and tolerance as the greatest values, and who therefore feel driven to constantly expand our understanding of chairs for us, for the good of those would-be chairs which have been marginalized and for those of us who are too culturally dull to know that we had many more chairs among us in the first place.
Is not, they indignantly say, a chair anything on which one might reasonably sit? Is not a bean bag a valid chair? A couch? The ground itself? Well, perhaps, we’re inclined to say, for we see many of our peers nodding at the wisdom of this, and feeling good about ourselves for being such pioneers of inclusion.
And now we’re solidly in liberal territory (liberal, after all, connotes expansiveness above all—the eternal obsession with widening existing things). Once we’ve established that the very surface of the world could be called a chair, for it can kind of serve a similar function if forced to, we have given a green light to the radicals who insist that it’s a moral imperative to recognize as a legitimate chair anything and everything that could ever conceivably be used for sitting. The hood of a car, a rock, a stack of books: all chairs.
By this point, much of society has decided that—in line with the warped thinking that has gotten us this far—virtue lies in defending the most extreme minorities possible. Life becomes a contest to advertise our righteousness by campaigning for the most imaginative visions of chairs. The tops of skyscrapers, piles of razor blades, the backs of sleeping grizzly bears: all are supposedly just as valid as any other kind of chair.
Probably the single coolest phrase in all of scripture, right there. In Doctrine and Covenants 123, Joseph Smith encouraged the Latter-day Saints to keep track of all the “libelous publications,” as well as property damage and physical abuse, they had suffered.
Verse 5 uses this unique and memorable phrase to summarize that record: “the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality.” Isn’t it wonderful?
First of all, it’s funny in the way that wordy phrases are, using multiple long, obscure words right next to each other. Also, it’s a perfect example of that 19th century style of excruciatingly exact wording. The individual words themselves are quite funny, too. “Concatenation.” Just say that one aloud.
Everybody should definitely highlight this phrase in their own copies right away.
And if you haven’t read the Doctrine and Covenants, you really should. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that has gems like this in it?
Every July for 40 years, the North Las Vegas Stake of the LDS Church has put on a Pioneer Day celebration that has become legendary. Here are the fireworks from the end of last night’s festivities. Yes, they are close to the crowd, and yes, this is done with the permission and supervision of the fire department! Sorry for cutting off the first bit of the first song.
- List of technology-enhanced activities for secondary English classes.
- Examples of worthwhile technology-enhanced lesson plans.
- Quick thoughts from the Hardings, homeschooling parents of ten who have sent seven kids to college by age 12.
- Recently found this silly video I made for a class I was taking two years ago. Amusing.
- Instapundit nails it: the humanities lost relevance when they decided to preach that nothing has intrinsic value. It’s been my experience that students (yes, even at-risk, underprivileged minorities!) appreciate the classics. Everybody likes the egalitarian ideal of participation in the uniting, universal canon, rather than manufactured niche curricula that only panders to trends.
Language & Literature
- Great WSJ essay on one of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces.
- Cute chart collects insults from famous authors who hated each other’s work.
- Fascinating memoir of writing the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Included here because it shares so much about that specific writing craft. Also, Insurrection is often over-maligned—it is not great, but not nearly as bad as many say. This long essay shows how it could have been great.
- Long lost introduction by Anthony Burgess to Dubliners.
- Interesting city photos from around the world.
- Beautiful music and images celebrate the wonder of God’s creations.
- Basic training ideas for half marathons, with more resources.
- 101 running tips from Men’s Health
I’ve been wanting to write a Pilgrim’s Progress-style allegory for young children. Here it is. Happy Easter, everybody.
Once upon a time there was a wonderful king. He had very many children and they all lived in a beautiful castle high on a mountain.
One day the king told his children that he was sending them on an important journey. They had to go on a long walk through the whole world. The king said that they had to do this in order to grow up.
“Will it be hard?” the princes and princesses asked.
“Yes,” said the king. “But it will also be an exciting adventure. And it will help you become ready to be kings and queens yourselves someday.”