I think this is one of the best Book of Mormon videos on YouTube–certainly, it gives the most information in the shortest time, and with great visual aids. Yes, this is a greatly improved version of a video I did in June. Please enjoy and share!
Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
Three things I’ve recently come across that are worthwhile in expanding our understanding of the gospel:
1. Nathan Richardson’s “structured editions” of the scriptures. The Book of Mormon draft needs work, but it’s a great start. The Pearl of Great Price format is excellent. The other resources on his site are worth checking out, too.
2. Steven Reed’s “Through the Veil,” a list of scripture quotes designed to illuminate the temple experience. Very thoughtfully done, but plenty more citations could be added (where’s Deuteronomy 22:12?) Like Richardson’s, his site has tons of useful goodies on it, including my 15-verse summary of the Book of Mormon.
3. Interpreter’s “Temple On Mount Zion Conference.” I can’t believe this is a year old and I’m only now watching these talks. They’re amazing. The ones on Job, the ark, and Latter-day houses of the Lord are especially recommended.
There’s a joke that Mormons are the only people in the world who can communicate a profound spiritual sermon by drawing three circles in a row. This traditional paradigm for teaching the gospel—with its circles for the premortal world, Earth life, the spirit world, and the three degrees of glory—has served very well as a visual aid of the plan of salvation.
Here, I propose a new way of visualizing these things. Instead of the narrative flowchart model, I’m going to describe a great, eternal chiasm. Yes, chiasmus as in the ancient Book of Mormon writing style where a series of ideas or phrases are given and then repeated in reverse order, to contrast parallel variations in the elements of the story and to highlight the central turning point.
Chiasms are typically shown as the left side of a letter X, looking like an arrow pointing to East on a map. This one will be depicted as a letter V, because I want us to see the turning point as the end of a long descent and the beginning of an ascent. You’ll see why shortly.
This new paradigm was inspired by the temple. I won’t make any overt references to the basic floor plan of the average temple or to the content of the endowment, but the reader who is familiar with those things is encouraged to consider how they suggested the ideas presented below.
The elements of this story can be understood as following the ideal progress of each individual person or of “the whole human family of Adam” (Mormon 3:20).
A and A’: The Celestial Kingdom
Our journey, as far as we understand it, both begins and ends in the Celestial Kingdom. This is where, from our point of view, our “descent” begins and our “ascent” ends.
My new video: an introduction to and performance of one of my favorite poems.
Something that often helps keep me on the right track is reminding myself that I’m living on borrowed time, that for all I know, I could have died any number of times and that I owe my ongoing existence to God. This keeps me from being too lazy or too selfish, and I think helps me stay pretty grateful for life.
For example, two summers ago I was at Lake Powell in Utah. I thought it might be fun to swim across the channel where our boat was docked. For some reason, I didn’t tell anyone I was going out, and I didn’t put on a life vest.
About ten minutes into the swim, I realized I might get a cramp or kick some debris in the water or otherwise lose the ability to swim. It was a pretty tense twenty more minutes until I made it to the other side. (I’m not a strong swimmer, and apparently I’m not very bright.)
I guess something could have happened and I could have died, but that’s just one instance I know about. Who knows how many times we’ve escaped a doom we’re not even aware of?
So any more time we get after those things–any time we have at all, really–can’t be squandered. It’s precious, and we owe it to ourselves and to God to make something of it.
But this view also takes away fear. If we’re living on borrowed time, then we have nothing to lose: every minute is just an extra bonus minute we’ve been gifted with. So there’s no reason to hold back in service or sacrifice or any worthy goal, because our days are gloriously extended by a loving Father who lets us exercise our will to make the most of them:
I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
It’s been about a year since the ancien régime of BYU’s Maxwell Institute (née FARMS) was unceremoniously given the boot, as the program looked to move from apologetics more towards promoting cultural and historical studies. There was much of Sturm und Drang about the shakeup and the outcasts’ subsequent reformation as the Mormon Interpreter, but now that the dust has settled, we can look back at the last year of each organization’s work and assess which has made a greater contribution to LDS scholarship.
Let’s see how they each stack up.
Interpreter: 45 Maxwell Institute: 11
I got 45 for Interpreter by counting the articles here (and not counting Peterson’s editorial introductions, excellent as they always are).
The total for MI was harder. They just don’t publish much, so I had to hunt around to find these eleven. They include the five articles in the second of two Journal volumes published last year (the only volume published since The Great Unpleasantness), the four articles in last year’s lone volume of Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, and the one sourced article with an author named in each of the two issues of Insights, the Institute’s newsletter, published in the latter half of last year (here and here).
How sad is it that I had to pump up their total by including items from a newsletter?
PUBLISHED ISSUES OF PERIODICALS
Interpreter: 5 Maxwell Institute: 2
The five Interpreter issues are listed here.
The two MI issues are both mentioned above: last year’s only Studies issue and the second of two Journal issues. I don’t count their newsletter as a serious periodical.
The periodical at the center of the brouhaha last year was the FARMS Review / Mormon Studies Review. Though an announcement last July explained the change to the public, a new volume has yet to be published. A newer announcement now says that the first issue from the new management will be out “next winter.”
None of the MI periodicals have published any volumes yet in 2013. Not even the newsletter.
I put this video on YouTube this morning. I don’t think there were already any there that summarized a lot of Book of Mormon evidence quickly and with visual aids. I hope this gets circulated widely, because I think it will help a lot of people understand the Book of Mormon better. Enjoy!
Does the Book of Mormon make sense as a hoax? Compare it to the 1969 moon landing.
I just saw about the billionth joke on TV about the moon landing being a hoax. This old conspiracy theory is usually referenced as a crackpot belief these days, and rightfully so.
Consider all the logical problems with the moon landing being a hoax:
- Motive. Beating the Soviets in the space race? Couldn’t it have been achieved with far less effort and risk in many other ways?
- Benefits. What did we really get out of this? A brief bump in pride and some cool photos? Again, these could have been achieved in far easier ways.
- Costs. Absolutely staggering amounts of money were sunk into building and executing this project over many years. Not sensible if it was fake.
- Means. Did we really have the ability to pull off this scam? It would have required tons of complicit agents, sets and props, bribes, image effects, and a host of lying witnesses, to say the least. The whole scheme seems very implausible.
- Secrecy. With all that would have been involved, nobody blew the lid on this hoax, ever? Even when there would have been huge financial rewards for doing so?
- Odds. What are the chances that all this worked out, if wasn’t real? History shows that such attempts fall apart. The singular legacy of this project attests to its reality.
- Repetition. Where else has our government pulled off a hoax on this scale? If they were able to do it once, they would have done so again.
Of course, each of these seven things also testifies of the reality of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document, divinely delivered to and translated for the modern world, and not as a 19th century hoax by Joseph Smith: (more…)
This week I finally saw Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light. What a beautiful film, in many ways. I absolutely loved it.
The most striking part, though, was a scene near the end where a supporting character gets his screen time to talk to our protagonist, a pastor plagued by doubt and melancholy. The church sexton confesses to the pastor that our apparent understanding of Christ’s suffering is superficial, limited to the cross.
He wonders if the emotional suffering of Gethsemane, and the spiritual elements of the crucifixion might not have been worse. He describes these scriptural details in a way that deeply intensifies the Lord’s suffering.
I sat up pretty straight during this scene. His confused reaching for truth brings him so close to a Latter-day Saint knowledge of the Atonement. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and talk about the Book of Mormon. I wanted to show him Jeffrey R. Holland’s Easter talk below.
Sadly, YouTube doesn’t have a clip of just this scene. It starts around 7:00 in the 7th video in the linked playlist, and runs about 40 seconds into the 8th.
Imagine a general conference that hypothetically includes a discussion between the general authorities delivering the addresses, and “the bloggernacle” as an entity hearing them.
GA: Church members should be loyal to the church.
B: Absolutely. Church members should definitely focus on minor doubts that are only tangential to the major tenets of faith and discipleship, and use them to publicly undermine the church.
GA: What? No, that’s not at all what we said. Church members should be visibly loyal to the church, striving to be part of the mainstream body of belief and service.
B: Yes! Finally, someone came out and said it. Church members need to be encouraged in striking out on their own and forging their own path to salvation, whatever that means for them.
The book of Mosiah starts with a testimony of three important things, and a wonderful observation about the nature of faith.
In Mosiah 1:3-5, King Benjamin refers to his family’s copy of the Hebrew scriptures, and he teaches his children about how crucial the scriptures are in preserving spiritual culture. In the next verse, he says:
O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true,
and also that these records are true.
And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true;
and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes. (Mosiah 1:6)
Here, Benjamin testifies of the truth of three things: his own teachings to his children, the ancient scriptures, and the collected teachings of recent prophets.
There’s a little girl in my ward who gets up almost every fast Sunday to speak, and this is what she starts with. Most small children say something like this, but it’s almost always, “I like to bear my testimony,” where the dropped “would” after the “I” also makes it cute, but this one is special: I wish I loved saying my testimony more!
“And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6