Who is the "Bright and Morning Star"?

From Ensign articles to the Bible Dictionary, we are given to understand that Jesus refers to Himself as "the Bright and Morning Star." Running alongside this interpretation are the elaborate metaphors of how Christ is like the planet Venus (Venus is the most universal interpretation of the morning star in our collective consciousness), dipping below the horizon as a symbol of death and its rising again likened to resurrection. But what if these comparisons are uncalled for? What if Christ wasn't actually referring to Himself as the "bright and morning star" at all? I think, perhaps, Catholicism has something to share with us about this star. Let's listen to what Jesus actually said in the ONE reference that has got us all spinning perhaps in the wrong direction:

stella matutina.jpg
I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
— Revelations 22:16

It helps to keep in mind that neither the ancient Hebrew nor the Greek texts upon which the Bible are based had punctuation marks. Heck, ancient Hebrew didn't even have vowels, let alone commas. So, what if we take out the comma that was inserted as a best, educated guess in verse 16? It pretty much reads: "I am the root and offspring of David and the bright and morning star." This is His pedigree! This is His declaration of the coming to pass of something the nations had looked for since the dawning of time. The planet Venus had always played a role in the Christ story -- Venus, the Madonna star, held the "warrior son" star (Mars) in her womb. He was the "apple of the eye" figuratively but in a very literal sense, if you look at the visuals. Here's a glimpse of how our skies may have looked in the past - a planetary alignment along earth's polar axis called the "polar configuration." It's a "sign," or symbol, in the heavens meant to instruct about the nature of God and His Christ.

Visual credited to David Talbott and Symbols of an Alien Sky

Visual credited to David Talbott and Symbols of an Alien Sky

Our skies may look different today than they did in the past, but they are not without symbols of hope...one of which remains Venus, the brightest of the morning stars (planets) which either glimmers in the darkness just before dawn or prolongs the splendor of the evening after the sun has set. She is an interior planet - enjoying a greater closeness to the sun than we do, but is able to reflect it's light for our benefit.

The early writers of Catholicism refer to Mary as the "Stella Matutina" = the "morning star." She is the "morning star" spoken of in the Litany of Loreto and the Canticle of Canticles. In old cathedrals, the Lady Chapel was situated behind the choir and the high altar, to the extreme east, as the symbol of her as the Morning Star. A solemn mass was sung every day at early dawn in her honor, and the bell for rising was called "Saint Mary's bell." St. Bridget of Sweden called her "the star preceding the sun."

God asked Job "Where wast thou...when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" conjuring up a possible feminine application for his morning stars when coupled with the more masculine sons of God. (Job 38:4, 7)

Now...there is one more possibility to consider when pulling apart the statement of Jesus that He was the offspring of David and the bright and morning star. He could perhaps have been referencing both Mary AND His Heavenly Mother in one succinct phrase: offspring of the "bright star" and the "morning star." For those unfamiliar with the brightest star in our sky, it is Sirius the Dog Star, and has for millennia (especially in the ancient world) been a symbol for the Queen of Heaven, the Heavenly Mother. Christ, like us, does have 2 mothers: the mother of His spirit and that of His body. Was this a reference to them both? I can only WONDER. 

What say ye?


South Carolina, Once Again, Commences the Difficulties

I used to believe the Civil War was fought over slavery. That was before I knew about the Proposed 13th Amendment of 1861 put forth to prevent secession by assuring the South of their states' rights to allow slaveholders to retain their human property. That's before I knew a lot of things I don't ever recall being conveyed to me during my public education. 

I happened to be revisiting D&C 87 and 130 in light of this growing conviction of mine and, wouldn't you know it, I began to WONDER how Joseph Smith could have linked the then-imminent Civil War with "the slave question." I then looked closer and was excited to discover that it appears he doesn't - but instead, he shares with us a foreshadowing of 2 distinct times of trouble. In an Isaiah-like fashion, his words may contain both an immediate application and an ultimate application; both the here-and-now and the latter-days. Check this out:  

1st, Imminent Application:

Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
— D&C 87:1

Yes, this sounds like the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression (take your pick). 

2nd, Ultimate Application:

And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.
— D&C 87:1

This is the statement that, when we read it, we automatically lump it in with the Civil War - but I think it deserves a closer look and even a cross-reference with section 130. I, personally, don't think the time had come in the 19th Century. I think the time he's referring to was possibly 2015. Stay with me...

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.
It may probably arise through the slave question.
— D&C 130:12-13

As often as I've heard the explanations put forth up until this day that the Civil War marked the beginning of a long list of wars to play out across the globe, it just didn't work for me. I always longed for something a little more "al dente" - a little more firm and satisfying - than that. And, also in Isaiah-like fashion, as soon as the events were visible over the horizon, the prophecies started to make sense.  

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

South Carolina figures in as the birthplace of two rebellions. The first is, of course, the Civil War. The second is...I don't really know what to call it so let's just say: "the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man."

Before there was Charlottesville, Virginia, there was Charleston, South Carolina. The Washington Post connected the recent violence in Charlottesville with the June 2015 shooting in Charleston of nine members of a black congregation by proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof (who adopted the Confederate flag as one of his emblems). The Washington Post stated that after the shooting "officials throughout the South grappled with what to do with the controversial [Confederate] figures." The Guardian (13 August 2017) brought our attention to the February 2017 Charlottesville City Council decision to remove and sell the Robert E. Lee statue as "part of a wave of such removals of Confederate monuments across the south, which began after Dylann Roof massacred nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, SC."

I invite you to consider the possibility that Joseph Smith, in his revelation from the Lord, was referring to a second period of intense conflict beginning at the SAME PLACE as the one which precipitated the Civil War because if that is true, not only did he never name slavery as the reason for the war of his generation, but the verse following should interest us greatly:

And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.
— D&C 87:4

Just to be clear - I don't think the slaves are the ones marshaled and disciplined for war in this verse - I think it's the masters. This is a great place to mention the militarization of our police, I think, and so many other applications. This is something that all the well-meaning individuals attempting to interpret these passages for us could never have foreseen unless they had the same gift as the Prophet Joseph. We are entering into an era of slavery unprecedented in the history of this nation. How long will it last? I don't know, but the revelation contained in D&C 87 is both exciting and comforting because South Carolina could mark the beginning of an end. To a woman 9 1/2 months pregnant, the beginning of labor is a terrifying relief. 

What say ye?

Charlottesville and a resurrection of "the slave question" set in motion by events in Charleston, South Carolina

Charlottesville and a resurrection of "the slave question" set in motion by events in Charleston, South Carolina

The Day We Became More Good Than God

It has become obvious that the morally sensitive of our day cannot bear even the whiff of a mere memory of something as unkind as slavery. Never mind that we are fast becoming a nation of slaves, soon to lose sovereignty over things as fundamental as our own bodies or the bodies of our children (look up what happened to Charlie Guard or Parker Jensen). We are too good to countenance the very real, very necessary role that involuntary servitude has played throughout human existence. We are just too wise, too compassionate and too fair-minded for all of that. The problem is, there is something way more important than being good: it's being RIGHT. 

"Right" is the root of the word "righteous," and you'll notice that it is used in conjunction with the followers of God way more often than the word "good." We've all heard the phrase "good, better, best." I would argue that it's just another way of saying "good, better, right." Good is a great start but it's nowhere near a fullness. Right is a LOT HARDER both to understand and to do, without the help of God. And that is where we are at as a nation, I have observed. We are doing pretty much everything we do without the aid or blessing of God.  

Without God, we can't even clearly see the stuff that's right in front of us let alone what's hidden from the world - things like the truth of our pre-existent life, where we resided with and were known by God as well as the unique potential of each individual along with the path each is going to need to walk to get there.

I wasn't there in 18th century America, but I trust in the workings of the Spirit upon folks like George Washington, who had a growing desire to see slavery gradually become obsolete in this land. This also happened to be the desire of Joseph Smith -- an almost imperceptible phasing out of the practice with compensation of the slaveholders through the sale of public lands. This is a far cry from the "sin be upon thee!" attitude we think should be the case, today.

The fact is that even slavery can work toward someone's long-term good. To be a slave is not the worst thing that can happen to a person (in this life). Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul had good counsel for those in bondage. Anciently, the children of Israel took slaves (at the Lord's command!) and, in their turn were permitted to fall into bondage when they left their true Master. What else would persuade us to return to God, like the Prodigal Son, when we realize that even the servants in God's kingdom enjoy far better fare than the servants under His adversary's jurisdiction?

And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies...
— Ezekiel 39:23

The political correctness, even among LDS thought leaders (for lack of a better term), tends to blind us to eternal truths. One such truth that always gets left out of discussion is the fact that, ultimately, we are placed in lineage, location and nation at the invitation of God based on things like our covenant-keeping in the pre-earth life as well as our desires to serve. I don't believe people are so fragile that they cannot cope with those kinds of ideas. When a debt of bondage has been paid by a nation or lineage, the Lord always raises up a Moses (or a George Washington or a Martin Luther King, Jr.) and aids in their escape. 

Slavery is a condition divorced of good or bad except in its masters (ie. good masters or bad ones). It can't be good or bad, only right or wrong. We are exercising a judgement on those of the past who were involved in slavery (which we have a right to do), but is it a righteous judgement? Do the individuals spitting, kicking and giving the middle finger to innate objects such as the one in the image below appear to be acting righteously? 

What say ye?

The spitting on and kicking of the fallen Confederate statue by modern American slaves

The spitting on and kicking of the fallen Confederate statue by modern American slaves

Every Herb In the Season Thereof

In commemoration of one of the most lively Sunday School discussions our ward has had in a good,  long while (of which I was merely a spectator), I really felt drawn to address the topic of D&C 89's disclosure that "God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man...every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" (vs. 10-11)

It's pretty typical, in my experience, for this specific verse to generate discussions about things such as the fact that we have available to us all year long "fresh" fruits and vegetables from every season thanks to 1) current methods of shipping, and 2) "modern preservation techniques" (D&C Student Manual).


But what if we're missing the point entirely? If you think about it, the WoW was given at a time when fruits and vegetables were already grown either in the home garden or at least nearby, with few exceptions (oranges, lemons, and maybe ginger, etc), and so it would not have needed to emphasize to the people the wisdom of eating locally. The diet of the day was already in harmony with the seasons with very little processing except for age-old traditions such as raw fermentation, which tended to only increase food value (ie. sauerkraut and other pickles, chutneys and preserves).

What if those verses of the Word of Wisdom are highlighting, for our benefit, that the Lord has deliberately provided the vegetables and fruits specific to our corresponding needs for each season and locality of the earth? What if the food, both indigenous and grow-able, in the area that you live is inherently suited to your requirements for health in that climate and season? 


If so...talk of shipping freighters carrying New Zealand peaches to folks deep in a Minnesota winter would kind of negate the blessings we're after and, to be honest, so would most bottled fruit and veg. The exception to bottled fruits might include tomatoes. Italians have a long history of bottling tomatoes and it was recently suggested that this might actually increase the nutrition, compared to the severely devalued nutrition of other bottled goods. Instead of sterile canning, preservation by raw fermentation is making a big comeback, the likes of which our forebears would be proud.  


I have a feeling that even with all our strides in the area of nutrition since the WoW was received, we haven't really begun to understand what the Lord understands about the food and the bodies He provided for us. Even just the idea that our microbiome - the world of intestinal organisms that lives within us and works for or against us and that makes up 90% of our cells - the idea that it changes from season to season and might influence the appropriateness of certain foods at certain times, is cutting edge science to us, yet our institutions aren't incentivized to do much research into it because of the lack of potential for profit. Those who work with wildlife know that the same bark a mule deer needs for survival in winter would likely kill it in summer. They know from past supplemental feeding programs not to give alfalfa hay to deer in winter because they'll find them dead with full stomachs, not having the right bacteria in their rumen at that time of the year to aid in digestion of what is an out-of-season food for them.


Maybe it's really simple: the things that are ripe at this time where you live are what your body needs right now. If you're reading this in June and you live in places like Utah, go out and pick some sugar snap peas and finish off that cleansing lettuce before it goes to seed. Let all the greens of the season cleanse your body of the heavier fare you relied on in late winter and early spring. And look forward to the days soon to come filled with pre-Vitamin A tomatoes and the peppers and eggplants (members of the solanine family) which will help defend you against the effects of the harsh, hot sun. And don't worry... the cabbage, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and the likes that are growing steadily right now will warm you in the crisp fall and on into the winter.

What say ye? 

fall veggies.jpg

Sacrifice and Eternal Parenthood


When we Latter-day Saints talk about the pain and inconvenience of sacrifice, we are often consoled by the idea that it will be for a "brief moment" (to borrow a phrase), that it is perhaps part of a test or a preparation, and that there will come a time when all sacrifice will be behind us and all that will be left would be to enjoy the bliss we have earned because of it. It sure sounds nice, but how can it be true? 

We know that our education comes "line upon line" (2 Nephi 28:30) and that this earth life is equipping us for something more. What could possibly be built on top of the necessity to learn how to sacrifice? Perhaps sacrifice is a way of life in the hereafter for those who learn their lessons well. Perhaps those who cannot abide that law are not suited to a life like the Father's. Brigham Young has something to teach us about that. In fact, he's the only one I know of who articulated the reason. And there are several indications he learned it from Joseph Smith.

One day Joseph was cutting wood when some of the brethren came by and said "Brother Joseph we have some questions to ask, and we will cut your wood while you answer them!" The Prophet said, "All right." So they asked him, "What about the creation of the world - How was it inhabited?" To which he replied, "Now regarding Adam: He came here from another planet [as] an immortalized being and brought his wife, Eve, with him, and by eating of the fruits of this earth became subject to death and decay and he became of the earth, earthy, was made mortal and subject to death." (An 1877 statement of Ansel Call, preserved by John M. Whitaker; John M. Whitaker Papers, Special Collection, Univ. Of Utah)

Now notice what Brigham Young taught in probably his most notable sermons on the topic:

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden he came into it with a celestial body and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the archangel, the ‘Ancient of Days’ . . . . He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. . . . When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten Him in His own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle it was begotten by his Father in heaven . . . from the fruits of the earth the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father . . . .

Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character [who] was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines pause before they make light of them or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation.
— Sermon given in the Tabernacle, 9 April 1852

It is clear from a multitude of his statements that President Young's understanding of the nature of "eternal lives" was that those who qualified to receive a fullness of the Father would not only devote their effort to creating spirit bodies for their own posterity but also would literally condescend again to mortal conditions in order to be the first parents of those spirits on an earth. 

Funny enough, we can find ample support for Brigham Young's teaching on Adam-God in ancient Egyptian artwork and writings. Below are depictions of the god Osiris, father of Horus (his posthumously begotten son - interesting, right?) with wheat growing from his dead body.


These images of Osiris bring to mind this saying of Jesus: 

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12)

It appears that Adam, the father of our spirits and first father of the human race, had power to lay down his life. How's that for omnipotence? I know, I know... we will hear folks say that resurrected beings can't die, and for the most part they're right. The tricky bit comes when we're talking about EXALTED resurrected beings, the ones who have put all enemies under their feet, including death. Of them it is written: "...they are gods, even the sons of God-- Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s" (D&C 76:58-59). Sure sounds to me like gods aren't confined by an inability to lay down their lives and take them up again if they choose. Why else would Joseph Smith have made this statement about Jesus following the example of His father?

 "The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again." (King Follett Sermon)

The idea of our anticipated heavenly zen being routinely punctuated by periods of sacrifice apparently doesn't appeal to everyone, including one of Adam-God's most vocal opponents, Orson Pratt, who had this to say:

I have heard brother Brigham say that Adam is the Father of our spirits, and he came here with his resurrected body, to fall for his own children; and I said to him, it leads to an endless number of falls, which leads to sorrow and death: that is revolting to my feelings, even if it were not sustained by revelation.
— Orson Pratt, "Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of the Twelve in Historian's Upper Room, 5 April, 1860

 So, running with the premise that Brigham Young is correct (of which I am confident), I guess this is the place where we ask ourselves...Do we have the stuff? Do we have what it takes to, time and again, establish our posterity on the frontiers of creation through real sweat and toil, sorrow and pain, as did Adam and Eve? And what will it take to demonstrate that we have "the stuff," while in this probation? 

What say ye? 


We Wouldn't Know the Almighty From Adam

There doesn't come along a subject more fit to WONDER about than the person and character of God. In His intercessory prayer, didn't Jesus say "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"? I believe we're at a hard place right now in our understanding of who He is, as a church, because of a lot of reasons.

I used to think that once Joseph Smith got the ball rolling with the Restoration, knowledge of sacred things would continue to increase steadily until everything there was to know would be known - which would mean we should be pretty advanced at this point in time. I no longer think so. I think the foundation was laid broadest and deepest by the Seer of seers, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that Brigham Young finished laying that foundation. Those were the days when sore trials and hard doctrines had left only the most spiritually substantial members on the threshing-room floor. These were more able to bear the meat of the Gospel. 

Fast-forward to the 20th century and our sore trials as a Church had passed, and so did the hard doctrines. The gospel sent forth was sweet milk for hungry masses, simply served and easily tolerated. I don't blame leaders and authorities for their having to set aside the meat - even renouncing it for the sake of the babes. They did what they had to do to fulfill the mission of the Church, which was their mandate. The meat was still there, after all, for any who hungered after it enough to dish it up on their own. I don't doubt there will come again the sore trials and the hard doctrines. But until then...I'm in favor of keeping the buffet open to the meat-eaters, hence this post about Adam-God.

A very brief Wikipedia-like summary of what we understand Brigham Young to have taught about Adam is that he was once a mortal man who was resurrected and exalted and had numerous spirit children. He then came as Michael to form the Earth and brought Eve (one of his wives) with him to Earth, where they became mortal by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden so that they might provide fleshy tabernacles for their spirit children (hence Adam calling Eve "the mother of all living" even before she had given birth to any children on earth - all the spirits waiting to be born WERE her children. Excuse me if I roll my eyes every time I hear someone try to explain this one during Mothers' Day talks, inaccurately). 

Adam laid down his life much as Christ would (he, also, had power over death), then he and Eve returned to their heavenly thrones where Adam serves as our God. Later, Adam returned to the Earth to the ancient prophets, and to become the literal father of Jesus. During the 19th century and very beginning of the 20th century, the Adam–God doctrine was taught in LDS Church meetings, sung in church hymns, and featured as part of the church's endowment ceremony. Now it is practically heresy to even speak of these things in church because it is not (lower-case "d") doctrine - meaning that it simply isn't taught through official channels (which this blog is not, in case you were wondering).

The folks I've come across point out certain aspects of what Brigham Young taught regarding Adam-God that they find "problematic." None of them amounts to much, I find. In fact, after all is said and done, the only one in the room making any sense at all is good ole' BY, who it is rumored to have been spoken of by Hugh Nibley as a far better theologian than he is given credit for (still looking for the original source for that, if anyone knows where I can find it).  

- Resurrected beings cannot die, you say? We'll address that.

- We are taught that Jesus Christ is Adam's superior, you say? There's an answer for that, too... and to many of the other things that appear to be difficulties at first, and even second, glance. 

This is just the springboard. Stay tuned.

In the meantime...what say ye?

Return of the Twin Relics

Slavery and polygamy, if you didn't know...they were the "twin relics of barbarism" denounced from the Republican platform in 1856. Most of us know the story of how slavery and polygamy were subsequently stamped out in the United States, but are we equally aware that Isaiah prophesied that both are slated to be practiced yet again in the Millennial day?

        Maarten van Heemskerck's “The Prophet Isaiah Predicts the Return of Jews After Exile”

        Maarten van Heemskerck's “The Prophet Isaiah Predicts the Return of Jews After Exile”

Probably every woman has her radar tuned in to Isaiah 4:

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
— Isaiah 4:1-2

It's pretty self-explanatory except to those who don't want to see it, right? The way Isaiah paints it, polygamy, done well, sounds almost delightful. But what about that other relic? What about slavery? Of course, in scripture, we don't usually see the word "slave" but we do see a lot of "captives."  Have you, like me, read through Isaiah plenty of times without grasping the concept clearly laid out in chapter 14?

For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
— Isaiah 14:1-2

Who are these servants and handmaids that will be employed by the children of Israel? The prophet Amos 9:12 calls them "the remnant of Edom" which he says Israel will "possess" in the last days (Amos 9:12). Edom, like Idumea, is a term used to designate "the world." These remnants of "the world," righteous enough to be spared from destruction, are still strangers to the covenant - folks who are "honorable, clean living men, but they have not embraced the Gospel (Gospel Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, pg. 149). 

Imagine the jolly fit of amusement that overtook me when I realized for the first time that it looks like these two practices, hated by Christianity (for some obvious reasons) will be in full force during the reign of Christ upon the earth for a thousand years. Will they look the same as they have in the past? I highly doubt it, and for the simple reason that they will be practiced by people of higher quality. Perhaps the institutions themselves are not evil - after all, not only did the Lord command the Israelites to take certain captives of their enemies, but there is even servitude in heaven. We are told that those who "did not abide [God's] law" are "appointed...ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory (D&C 132:16-17) 

Are you equally amused? What say ye?


You Could Use More Dead People In Your Life

There are folks out there who are wiser than you, more cultured, experienced, endowed with greater perspective and, believe it or not, have a vested interest in the success of your life. The only problem is...they're dead. That shouldn't make a difference, though, should it? Aren't sisters of the Relief Society promised by the dispensation head, himself, that "if you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates"? (That's Joseph Smith, by the way).

I can't help taking the parable of the mustard seed shared by Jesus, pertaining to the kingdom of heaven, and applying it to us mortals. I picture each one of us like that tiny seed that gets planted and grows so big and tall that birds of the air come and lodge in the branches to enjoy some pleasant shade (Matt. 13:31-32). Joseph Smith explained that the "birds of the air" refer to angels. Do the angels (which include the goodly spirits who have passed from mortality) find you a refreshing person to be near?

What would the righteous spirits of centuries past think of your life: how you spend your time, what you work for, and whether or not you understand the things that you do? What do you think they could teach you?  

Those who give themselves with all their might and mind to this work receive help from the other side. Whoever seeks to help those on the other side receive help in return in all the affairs of life.
— Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple (he is quoting Elder Widtsoe)

This, I think, is my favorite teaching regarding family history and temple work and I WONDER why we don't talk about it more! Allow me to share some of the incredible things that I have experienced because of diving into the work for my ancestors: Several years ago, as a young mom, I was busily engaged simultaneously in both family history and getting up a garden for the first time. I was thick into my Swiss people and spent many hours getting as acquainted with them as I could through the records available. In the relative quiet of my garden, that spring, I felt I was being given some really good gardening advice, unmistakably from an unseen source. I created the layout and structure (that exists to this day) of a vegetable garden that I could be satisfied with aesthetically and practically. One day out of curiosity, I went online to look up images of Swiss vegetable gardens and found some that eerily resembled the one I had just created. Was I surprised? Not really. It was a reinforcement of something I'd already recognized as regular companionship with my kin beyond the veil.

A couple of years later I was immersed in some work for my French people that translated (pun intended) into other areas of my life, but especially the culinary area. Suddenly, French ideas and French cuisine interested me and, occasionally, I would find myself whistling little French tunes. By that time, I knew exactly what was up -- it was the influence of my new, unseen, French companions.

I honestly believe that dead people have taught me to garden, have improved my cooking, helped me rethink my ideas about medicine, helped me to find answers to questions, have aided in the smoother flow of my life and have been some of the best, dearest companions. What I have observed is that those kinds of experiences are amplified intensely when I am active in family history and temple work on their behalf. Think of all the "forgotten skills" they could help us to master. Another point to ponder is how our ancestors, themselves, knew how to do certain things without the aid of laboratory research, like use willow bark for pain relief - don't you think they had their own wise whispering companions?

Perhaps there is more meaning to the words "we without our dead cannot be made perfect" (D&C 128:15) than simply to imply that the human family must be made into a linked-up chain in order to be accepted. Maybe we need our dead long before the final end-of-Millennium-deadline. Maybe we need them right now. 

What say ye?

Our Little Subservience Problem

Sometimes I can't help thinking, "Congratulations, womanity, you've been successfully and woefully distracted by one of the biggest non-issues ever" when I happen upon the griping that exists surrounding the obvious teaching in the gospel of Jesus Christ that the order of heaven consists of woman being subject to her husband. The apostle Paul makes it clear and so does the temple experience. 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
— Ephesians 5:21-24

To be organized in such a way that woman serves and works under a righteous husband is equated with subservience. EVERYONE subserves for, as Joseph Smith said, "Where was there ever a father without first being a son?" Even the Almighty God is subservient to His God and Progenitor. Why has subservience come to have such an unappealing connotation? After all, subserve quite literall means "to serve under." A lengthier definition is "to promote the welfare or purposes of; to serve as an instrument or means in carrying out" (Merriam-Webster). Then why, just a hop-skip away from that definition of "subserve" is the definition for "subservient" equated with "less important" and "downtrodden?" (also Merriam-Webster)


This image is brilliant because any one of those little circles could be you. You'll have to imagine that even the front-center circle has an infinite mass of circles in front of it as well as behind as if to say that no matter who you are in the universe, you have both beings you are accountable to and accountable for; links in front and in back; you take orders and you give orders. The key word is order. There must be a system of organization for harmony to exist, for work to get done, and for growth to be made possible for the whole "organism."

What does it matter (in the eternal scheme, at least) if woman is accountable to her husband instead of the Father, if they are both righteous? That kind of thing starts to take shape here in this life, in proportion to heed that the husband gives to the commandments of God. It's going to be an imperfect process here for the obvious reason that men are not always as they should be. But then, neither are women. 

Are we more concerned about where we're serving - it's visibility or seeming pre-eminence - rather than how we're serving? Most women I know do a fantastic job of gaining a proper perspective of this. But there are enough of the unnecessarily irritated to make one lament.   

There is the interesting discussion about women covering their heads and veiling their faces (1 Corinthians 11, for instance) as part of religious ritual that we tend to create fantastical explanations for in an effort to dodge the mark. I always love the one about how it's because men are not prepared for the glory that is woman -- and so it is necessary to shield him in the same manner that God drew the veil between us and His presence for our protection. I am totally calling "shenanigans." We've got to face up to the plain truths recognizable even to a child before the subtleness of the world's vain imaginations has had a chance to distort. We don't seem to realize that we cannot elevate ourselves by denigrating men. The surest way to increase the happiness and improve the status of women is by encouraging the goodness of husbands and those whose potential it is to be husbands. 

What say ye?


Without Blemish, Neither From a Stranger's Hand

"One of the ways we elevate the sacrifice of a being...to a place of sacredness...is by respecting and honoring the life that was lived." ~ Joel Salatin

"One of the ways we elevate the sacrifice of a being...to a place of sacredness...is by respecting and honoring the life that was lived." ~ Joel Salatin

...All things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal...
Behold, I gave unto him [Adam] that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual...
— D&C 29:34-35 (selections)

I'm pretty sure my jaw would drop to the floor if I ever heard anything mentioned in General Conference about why it's a good idea to eat only the flesh of animals that were healthy and happy in life. I'm pretty sure that's never occurred because I've searched and, to be honest, I am thankful our general authorities are not busy creating a list of carnal commandments for us to follow. At the same time, I have to say that, when I survey the animal-consumerism of my fellow Latter-day Saints, I'm pretty bewildered. *Everything* has a spiritual impact, including the life we allow to be taken on our behalf. 

Doesn't it seem logical that any life we accept as nourishment is a typification of the One Life who said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you?" The Law of Moses instructed the children of Israel on what condition an animal must be in to be considered an acceptable offering. The Lord even uses phrases such as "it shall not be acceptable for you" and "they shall not be accepted for you" when talking about animals that were not "without blemish" - denoting that the disqualified animals would not have provided the benefit they were seeking for themselves. But what's interesting is that, far from what we think of as a blemish today, the word simply means "complete" and "sound" - in other words...HEALTHY. 

I tended to think that the Israelites had to seek out only the most magnificent specimens of their flocks for sacrifice, clearly forgetting this was, ultimately, to represent a Man Isaiah described as having "no form nor comeliness." The true qualifications were not perfection of physical beauty but simply that the animal could not: be blind, maimed; have a tumor, scurvy or scabs or any extra or missing parts (Leviticus 22:22-24). Interestingly enough, these disqualifications can all be attributed to care given the animal, either through malnutrition (of it or its parents), unkind handling, or disease. The beast could neither be "bruised, crushed, broken or cut." The animal had to be healthy and in good condition in order to benefit them, personally, as a sacrifice. 

Cows, chickens and pigs should not live their lives on cement. They should be on pasture.

Cows, chickens and pigs should not live their lives on cement. They should be on pasture.

It is easy for me to see how the same rules, based in spiritual law, could be the same ones that govern whether an animal - who is quite literally sacrificed to give us life - is "acceptable for you" to eat and be fed (Lev. 22:20). Is the chicken in your salad or the beef in your casserole derived from an animal that was healthy in life? Was it free of malnourishment (Quite literally "bad nourishment" - GMO corn, soy and alfalfa...I'm looking at you! )? Was it treated unworthy of its being a creation of God? Or was it like the majority of the animals used for meat that's made available so cheaply - chronically sick and not allowed to live out its appointed days in the fresh air and sunlight? Additionally...was it raised by a stranger?

Neither from a stranger’s hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.
— Leviticus 22:25

An associate of mine was talking with a farmer in Africa about the food system in the United States and she said the man looked shocked and said, "You let strangers grow your food?" What could possibly happen when you have absolutely no idea where your food comes from, right? Good, local farmers are, thankfully, getting easier to find. We have a family of farmers we've been patronizing for a few years. They've let us bottle-feed calves, allowed us to feed the pigs our wormy apples and answered every single one of our questions.

If I'm honest, the leap to buying locally, humanely raised meat was the hardest in our family's journey away from the Standard American Diet (SAD), and we still aren't perfect. It's a big jump. I was trained to think that a good housewife found the best deals on food to save her family money, and good quality meat (and eggs and milk) is expensive! But I have gradually been convinced, through experience, that cheap meat is worthless to my family. It doesn't look as good, taste as good, or leave us feeling as good as the stuff we tend to spring for now. Research substantiates the claim that grass-fed meat is superior (here's one study from Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education). It's higher in things like iron, zinc and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), as well as having a better fatty acid profile overall (Weston A. Price Foundation report) while being lower in things like glyphosate (which survives the intestinal tract of the animal and gets passed on to you).

In a theology that emphasizes the intertwining of the spiritual with the physical, it should be hard to dissociate the idea that healthy food comes from healthy life forms. Yet, how prone are we to turn a blind eye to the life form when we reach for that package of meat that reassures us it is "all-natural" (as if that meant anything)? Free agents can choose whatever meat they want to pay for, but they aren't free to determine the consequences attendant on their choices. You get what you pay for - and life treated cheaply will reward you as cheaply, I am convinced.

Oh, gosh...shopping day is tomorrow. I hope my morals hold up in the bacon aisle.

What say ye?   

Evil Does Not Create, Only Corrupt

I think the Lord must be about the best farmer there is. He knows that if you want a good crop for the next growing season, it is wise to save only the very finest seed from what you grew in the current growing season. That's the way to get the healthiest, strongest, most prolific and disease-resistant specimens possible. We can assume that He knows this because He has clearly outlined this practice as something that we can fully expect to be put into effect with us, His children. Of the three degrees of glory, only those who obtain the highest degree within the celestial glory are given the ability to exercise "the continuation of the seeds" (ie the ability to have children; D&C 131:1-4). The cream of the crop rises to the top, and those are the only ones creating lives in the hereafter. It is righteous eugenics. 

If only the best of mankind is allowed to perpetuate the species in the eternal realm, how is there still so much evil in the universe? Maybe it's because what God creates Satan may corrupt. Satan, himself, is a corrupted, twisted creation of God's very own. Yet he has no power given him to multiply by having children. He is the seducer of other people's children, who then have to be altered from their former potential as life-givers to a new status associated with death. "Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths" (D&C 132:25). "The deaths" referred to here are juxtaposed against what is called in this same section the "exaltation and continuation of the lives" (vs. 22).

Does this pattern have the potential to instruct us beyond its being a warning to keep God's commandments if we wish to be like Him one day? I WONDER. 

 "And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived..." D&C 52:14

When we apply the pattern above, of God as Creator and Satan as Corrupter, to some highly practical modern issues, we can easily draw a distinction between that which is inspired of God and will lead to life and health vs. inspired of His adversary and leading to death and disease. We have, here on earth, a vast bounty of herbs, fruits, vegetables, fishes, fowls and beasts that we "might have in abundance" (D&C 89, 49:19). They were placed here by God, as being able to meet every single one of our physiological needs, with "enough and to spare," to be used with wisdom and skill.

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things.
— D&C 104:17

 There is, rampant today, an incautious, irreverent preoccupation with genetically altering what has already been pronounced "good" in the natural world by its rightful Maker. We have, apparently, outgrown the time-proven system of plant breeding through selective parentage and have ventured into the more seductive art of corrupting things we did not create. Genetically modified "food" (soy, canola, corn, tomatoes, yeast, apples, etc) and "medicine" (vaccine ingredients, cancer therapies, diabetic medication, etc)...Can they truly nourish and heal? Where do they fit into the pattern? 

We are told that "all things which come of the earth..are made for the benefit and the use of man" (D&C 59:18) jointly with the reminder that "in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things (D&C 59:21)." The tinkering with genetic structure and recombination of DNA with foreign (or native) genes seems to denote a disregard for the workmanship of God and ingratitude for His providence. I've wondered if our new technological ability to adulterate His creations isn't foretold by Isaiah: 

Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:

     In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
— Isaiah 17:10-11

These inferences put me of a mind to think that maybe food and medicine that is genetically altered/modified/engineered/recombinant (whichever of these names biotechnicians choose for referring to their perversions) may not be the path to health and healing. And what's more, our ignorance of their pervasive presence in our food supply will not shield us from their influence on ours and our family's physiology. What affects us physically, will also affect us mentally and spiritually. I would be very interested to know just exactly what percentage of the spiritual sickness we are experiencing in epidemic proportions today, in the Church alone, has its roots in the physical adulteration of our food and medicine. 

What say ye?





"By Their Sorceries Were All Nations Deceived"

If you hadn't fully appreciated the prophesies of Isaiah before, let me share with you one that will send chills down your spine, and it's only terrifying because it's what's happening now.  

Hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they come upon thee in their perfection [or in full measure] for the multitude of thy sorcercies, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments...
...Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
— Isaiah 47:8-12

I might have given away from the opening image the fact that the Greek word from which "sorceries" is translated, throughout the Bible, is "pharmakeia." I hate to be redundant, but here is caption from Strong's Bible resource:

Through the use of parallelism, Isaiah happens to be addressing both the people of his day and ours. Specifically, he speaks to the daughters of Babylon and Chaldea, which are both physical nations and spiritual ones. Isaiah, repeated by Nephi, says, "Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans." (Isaiah 48:20, 1 Nephi 20:14). Every corner of today's world has become Babylon and is filled with Chaldeans. Abraham was literally living in the land of the Chaldeans, the residence of his fathers (Abraham 1:1). Do we recall what his experience was there? "The priests laid violence upon me" he said, describing how his own father was complicit in placing him upon the altar of idolatry and allowed priests of false gods to attempt to sacrifice him, as they had done to three innocent girls, as related in the same account. Abraham speaks of the altar of sacrifice that was "in the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans."

Is this one of the altars of sacrifice of used by modern Babylon and Chaldea?

Is this one of the altars of sacrifice of used by modern Babylon and Chaldea?

Are we complicit in priests of false gods "[laying] violence upon" our own children?

Are we complicit in priests of false gods "[laying] violence upon" our own children?

The above questions are honest ones that we should be able to examine individually and collectively. If our response to these suggestions is highly emotional, maybe we should ask ourselves, "why?"

Let's go back to Isaiah 47's description of "the multitude of...sorceries and great abundance of...enchantments" being the cause of the loss of children and older people (implied by widowhood - not sure that there was such a distinction made as "widowerhood"). We're always going to get a clearer picture when we cross-reference:

The Saints are called out of Babylon lest they partake of her sins —
‘...For thy merchants [corporations] were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries [translated from the Greek “pharmakeia”] were all nations deceived.’
— Revelations 18:23 (including a line from the chapter heading)

If this is a legitimate line of thought, and pharmaceutical/chemical companies are the merchants in question, and any non-scientific (i.e. perpetuated by fraud and deceit) pharmaceutical drugs, interventions and other toxic environmental chemicals are the sorceries we are warned of...where is all this loss of children and older people? Are these the children never born because of increasing rates of infertility and sterility? Are these the children and adults dying of cancer and chronic disease? Are these the children susceptible to the growing epidemic rates of autism and the adult versions of autism, which include dementia and Alzheimer's

I wholeheartedly agree with Elder Dallin H. Oaks that Latter-day Saints "believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques." Medical science should not be at odds with our faith, it is true. And in Elder Holland's epic "Like a Broken Vessel" talk, he outlined some sage advice about health, such as: safeguarding ourselves against depletion and if ill health continues despite our best efforts, to "seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values" and to "prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe." This is a far cry from an abdication of personal responsibility for our health, even into the hands of someone with a degree or a name like the CDC.     

Those of my generation might have noticed that this peculiar state of physical degeneration we are in has come about quickly. Things that were almost unheard of thirty or forty years ago are commonplace now: children with ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis, food allergies, seasonal allergies, skyrocketing rates of neurological conditions and auto-immune diseases in young and old. This is the new normal. And it has come about, in part, due to a form of idolatry. We have assigned the power to save us to those whose chain of authority goes all the way to entities who are not godlike, who are actually enemies to the true and living God. We have put our trust in the arm of flesh. 

Consider the ingredients used in withcraft of folklore:

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravined salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digged i’ th’ dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
— Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1

Now, consider some of the ingredients in vaccines: monkey kidney cells, aborted fetal tissue, caterpillar larvae, dog kidney, mouse brain and chicken embryos. Does man, today, not only make for himself idols of gold and silver but of aluminum and mercury?

Whay say ye?

Awakening the Remnant

Isn't there a literal awesomeness in watching prophecy come to pass?...How, sometimes, you can't imagine what a certain passage of scripture could portend until suddenly it becomes all too clear and happens all too fast. That's how I've felt about multiple references to "a remnant of the house of Jacob" who is foreseen to "go forth among [the Gentiles]" in the last days; and would "be in the midst of them who shall be many; and...shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces."

Seas of Glass

I have often WONDERED...if our universe is filled with earths that have undergone their probations and been sanctified and immortalized, becoming seas of glass, wouldn't there be some sort of indication that they're out there? I mean, we're not talking about elusive spirit matter - matter so fine it goes undetected by science even though it is in us and all around us. We are talking about solid, corporeal (howbeit pure and perfect) matter. Where are all these seas of glass hiding, where past, present and future meet? 

Kinderhook Revisited

The story of the Kinderhook Plates among Mormon apologetic literature is a sad reminder of the frequency and extent to which the Prophet Joseph Smith is simply not believed by LDS academics and apologists to be exactly who he claimed to be. There is ample evidence to support the fact that the Kinderhook Plates (KPs from here on out) are as genuine as the Prophet said they were.

Slandering the Staff of Life

When it comes to wheat, I am ashamed to admit that we are a generation of Indians blaming the arrow. And for a while I, too, bought into the idea that modern wheat is poison. We blame wheat for everything from brain fog to celiac disease and decry that man, through his tinkering, has ruined one of God's best gifts. And while I admit it certainly appears there is continual warfare against the grain by all that is unholy, overwhelmingly I am convinced that wheat is still the best gig in town. Tell me honestly, who except the self-deluded can get excited about a cauliflower pizza crust?

The Healthcare System Laid For Us in Nauvoo

The last years of Joseph Smith's life saw an attempt to prepare the Saints for Zion across all aspects of life. Examples would include: in family life with the power to make relationships last beyond the grave; in political life with formation of the Council of Fifty as the first buddings of theocratic government, and economic life with the attempt to live the law of consecration. But did you know that there was also a substantial foundation laid for us relative to healthcare that extends far beyond the Word of Wisdom? And what's more, this healthcare system will most likely become increasingly important the closer we get to the coming of Christ. 

Here a Jubilee, There a Jubilee

What if I were to tell you that this "promised land" of North America appears to have its very own modern Jubilee cycle? What if I were to tell you that it began the year spanning 1782-1783 - the year the United States was granted its independence? What exactly would that mean for us?