Friday, February 25, 2011
My purpose in writing Ten Parables was to take an ancient literary form and use it to illustrate the path back to God. It was intended to replicate the underlying meaning of the temple endowment, but without employing theatrical presentations, signs, tokens or key words. Instead the process is portrayed through parables involving characters in the stories moving from a state of disassociation with God, through understanding His attributes and manner, adopting His virtues and conduct, then back to a reconciliation with Him, at last reaching His presence by satisfying angelic sentinals and obtaining His tutelage.
The book is actually only one story: the process of redemption. It was written to be readable in the same time as it would take to attend a temple endowment session. However, its meaning can take many days of reflection to fully unlock. It is intended to provoke action or changes within the reader who sees the messages.
Some people have seen the value of that little book and, as a consequence, have gained some considerable benefits in their own search into the mysteries of godliness. Others have regarded it as nothing more than a little story book, and I suppose gained varying degrees of entertainment from it.
We are all entitled to see as much or as little as we choose to see. That is the beauty of communications that employ symbols. It does not force the listener to understand a thing. It only invites.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The last lesson I taught the Priests in my ward I went over the history of the Book of Abraham. There are a host of arguments made against Joseph Smith, his translation and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham which rely upon ignorance to persuade.
The Book of Abraham is one of the strongest proofs of Joseph Smith's credibility as a prophet who restored ancient knowledge and did so using the power of God. But only if you have read enough to know the lay of the terrain.
I brought the following books with me to the class:
Abraham in Egypt (Nibley)
The Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Nibley)
Astronomy, Papyrus and Covenant (Hauglid)
An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Nibley)
One Eternal Round (Nibley)
The Blessings of Abraham (Clark)
Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham (Tvedtnes, Gee)
The Hor Book of Breathings (Rhodes)
A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Gee)
Vol. 2 of The History of the Church (Joseph Smith)
Critics of Joseph have provoked a tremendous effort to account for the Book of Abraham. If you are interested in the topic, the results of that effort are worth reading. I find that all topics related to the restoration are interesting to me.
I've spent a few days with scholars with backgrounds in Egyptology. There is a great deal to learn about the earliest days of Egypt and the Egyptian influence on ancient Israel. Many of our Psalms are taken directly from Egypt. Abraham sojourned there, Joseph served there, the twelve tribes resided there, Moses was raised there in the royal courts, Jeremiah fled there, and Christ lived several years there. Egypt was a repository of arcane knowledge which remains interesting to Latter-day Saints.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
In response to a question I received earlier today about whether Zion presently exists in some form I responded:
"Zion has not begun in an organized city-form and could not do so at the moment. Some of what would be required to establish Zion may have been returned, but only in the most incipient form at present, and not such that it can stand on its own. If the hounds of hell have been released to balance things because of Zion's "appearance" then it is wholly disproportionate at present. The evil is far more numerous, far more widely planted, far stronger, and securely fastened here than the tiniest shoots of a diminutive Zion. Even the idea of starting a small gathering is not possible at present."
It was an interesting enough question I thought the answer worth posting.
I've been learning more over the last months about many things of interest to me. It is wonderful to have more time to study and meditate. The Gospel as restored through Joseph Smith contains a great deal more than we've chosen to respect and explore. This is a mixed blessing, of course. We neglect it at our peril. But we are still in recent enough time to the events that the record is with us. Wars, unrest, upheavals and destructions have not eliminated the libraries of material still available for our study. So, if we are interested, we can learn a great deal in our day.
It is foolish to trust your salvation to another. It is more foolish to trust anything to a committee or organization where compromises and agendas conflict with truth almost at every turn. History has no ego, but the purveyors of legacies who hope to mold history to support their agendas are always driven by ambition to trim, add, censor, reinterpret, and contradict. If religion matters, and if Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, then we ought to try and get as unfiltered an account as possible. Then, with what account you settle as true, you ought then to inquire of the Lord to see if He by revelation has something further to open to your view.
I'm amazed at how much the Lord would want us to know, if we only showed interest enough to make an inquiry, with real intent, having faith in Him.
If the mammalian prophet from Puxatony (or Al Gore for that matter) can be trusted, things are going to be warmer soon. I'd like that. Trading light and warmth for dark and cold is an annual pilgrimage nature takes us through to remind us of eternal things.