Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock


artwork by J. Kirk Richards

As you can tell, this is one of my favorite all time religious paintings.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Excellent post on the Mormon Women Stand blog

Gearing up for LoveLoud: a review of "Believer" documentary

Recently, a new HBO documentary titled "Believer" was released which follows the making of the LoveLoud Festival, and sadly, points blame at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrine on marriage and chastity for the depression, anxiety and suicides of LGBT-identified people.

(follow the link for the entire post)

http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/gearing-up-for-loveloud-a-review-of-believer-documentary/#more-12211

Friday, July 27, 2018

Noravank Monastery - Armenia


(photo by Jacob Surland)

I was doing an image search for courtyards in Greece and Eastern Europe and this photo of an Armenian monastery came up and just jumped out at me. It looks so interesting, so small and square. I'm kind of fascinated with it.

If I knew someone from Armenia I would ask them to take me there someday.

From welcomearmenia.com

Noravank Monastery is one of the most spectacular tourist attractions in Armenia. The magic monastery is located in the south of Armenia - in Vayots Dzor province.  NORAVANK means NEW MONASTERY in Armenian.

Noravank is situated in a narrow gorge made by Amaghu River and is encircled by fantastic red rocks. The beauty of this monastery is appreciated by thousands of visitors not only because of it's architecture and history, but also for it's harmony with the surrounding fabulous nature.

Noravank Monastery is a masterpiece of the Armenian architecture. It was founded in the year 1205 by Bishop Hovhannes - the former abbot from Vahanavank Church.

(for more information follow the link)

http://www.welcomearmenia.com/armenia_tourist_attractions/noravank


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

“Do Latter-day Saints believe that men and women can become gods?”

(by Dan Peterson 7-21-18)

Here’s another little mini-essay that I wrote and published back in 2002:

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that human beings can grow and progress spiritually until, through the mercy and grace of Christ, they can inherit and possess all that the Father has—they can become gods. This is taught in revelations given to modern prophets (see D&C 76:58; 132:19—20), as well as in sermons delivered by Joseph Smith.9 A couplet written by Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the LDS Church, states:

As man is now, God once was; As God now is, man may be.

(for the rest of the essay follow the link)

 http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2018/07/do-latter-day-saints-believe-that-men-and-women-can-become-gods.html

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Our debt to the early pioneers is enormous

(by Kristine Frederickson deseretnews.com 7-22-18)

Some decisions have enormous consequences.

We see this in the remarkable life of Mary Fielding Smith, who, after the murder of her husband, Hyrum Smith, and his brother, the Prophet Joseph Smith, acted against the advice and bullying of relatives who wanted her to stay with her children in Illinois. Trusting in the priesthood authority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then led by Brigham Young, Mary committed to traverse 1,300 miles of wilderness, overseeing a ragtag band to gather with others of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Zion in the Salt Lake Valley.

Earlier, Mary had demonstrated her devotion to Jesus Christ. After emigrating from England in 1832 to Toronto, Canada, she heard the gospel preached by Parley P. Pratt and sought and received a testimony of its truthfulness. With sister Mercy, brother John and Leonora and John Taylor (later the third prophet of the church), she left her secure, comfortable life to join the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1837.

(more to come)

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900025538/our-debt-to-the-early-pioneers-is-enormous.html

Monday, July 23, 2018

Tidbits of pioneer history: A first impressions of Salt Lake, first wildlife encounter and others who lived there

(by Lynn Arave deseretnews.com 7-21-18)

Not every pioneer expressed excitement over their first view of the Great Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847.

For example, one pioneer, Mrs. Harriet Young, said, “Weak and weary as I am I would rather go a thousand miles farther than remain in such a forsaken place as this” (see "Utah in Her Western Setting," by Milton R. Hunter, 1956 edition).
Still, once LDS Church President Brigham Young said the Salt Lake Valley was the right place, all the pioneers accepted that and settled there.

(There were 147 members of the July 1847 vanguard pioneer group, including three women and two children. None of the first group died — all made it safely to the Salt Lake Valley, after traveling some 1,031 miles.)

One pioneer shared an excited response with his first view of the Great Salt Lake Valley. Also, he experienced one of the first confrontations with native wildlife by the pioneers, as he encountered a coiled rattlesnake while trying to get a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake.

(more to come)

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900025550/tidbits-of-pioneer-history-a-first-impressions-of-salt-lake-first-wildlife-encounter-and-others-who-lived-there.html

What happened during the first July in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847

(by Susan McCloud deseretnews.com 7-16-18)

July 1847 marked a historic time in the West.

Just three years after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith in June 1844, the first group of Mormon pioneers reached their desert haven — descending the last mountains into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
The month of July is rich in highlights. The initial pioneer company of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under Brigham Young’s leadership, pulled out of Winter Quarters on April 5. There were 143 men in the group, three women, and two children.

(more to come)

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900024807/what-happened-during-the-first-july-in-the-salt-lake-valley-in-1847.html

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Of Mormonish and Saintspeak

(by Philip Barlow blog.oup.com 7-24-13)

In the beginning, Mormonism was a cult. Not in the vulgar sense often attributed to feared or misconstrued religious minorities, but in the way that earliest Christianity or nascent Islam was a cult: a group that forms around a charismatic figure coupled with radical new religious claims. Like these predecessors, Mormonism has long since grown from cult to culture. This is reflected in its fertile, distinctive parlance­­­–by turns revealing, quaint, ingenious, paradoxical, and humorous.

The term Mormon, referring to a church member, has an uneven acceptance among the faithful. It is a shortened form of Mormonite, an 1830s appellation assigned by critics to early believers in The Book of Mormon. Just as early converts to “the Society of Friends” were by outsiders labeled “Quakers” after their sometimes demonstrative practice of shaking with the spirit during worship, so adherents of the newly founded “Church of Christ” were called after Mormon, the purported ancient editor of their new scriptural book, which believers took to complement the Bible. Some Mormons prefer Saints, which is what first-century Christians called themselves, or Latter-day Saints (“LDS”), deriving from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the church’s cumbersome official title since 1838. But these days many believers happily accept the sobriquet “Mormon”; it remains in wide use and did not, after all, seem to offend founding prophet Joseph Smith during his lifetime.

What the tight-knit Mormons call themselves and others engenders jokes. One old joke is that whenever a Jew arrives in Utah he says: “This is the only place in the world where I am seen as a gentile.”­­­­ The humor turns on Mormon self-identity as heirs both of ancient Israel and of a restored original Christianity. Hence, traditionally, Mormons are Saints and outsiders are gentiles. The quip draws laughter among Mormons, Jews, and others, although in actuality Mormons have never thought of Jews as gentiles.

Moreover, Mormon nomenclature evolves. The prominent Methodist scholar, Jan Shipps, has made her career studying the Saints for more than a half-century. When she began in the 1960s, she became affectionately known among her subjects as the “gentile Mormon watcher.” As Mormonism grew and became less tribal, “gentile” faded from its vocabulary and Shipps became a non-Mormon.

Subsequently, she reports, she was referred to as a non-member, perhaps a bureaucratic inflection of the Correlation movement in a religion working to retain firm organizational control of its diverse programs, curriculum, finances, and liturgy amidst dramatic international growth in the second half of the 20th century. At last Dr. Shipps became simply a Methodist scholar of Mormonism­–all this change in labels without her altering her stance or private affiliation!

When humans name each other, or their institutions and possessions, they reveal something of their backgrounds, perspectives, whimsies, tastes, aspirations, fears, and beliefs. This is evident in the names of Mormon places, which harbor stories and thus are “place tales.” The Mormon toponymy may be traced from the movement’s antebellum origins in western New York through its sojourn in the Midwest and its forced exodus across the plains to the Rocky Mountains. The serene woods where Joseph Smith had his earliest vision in 1820 in present-day Palmyra, New York, is now, to Mormons, the Sacred Grove. A nearby hill in which Smith reported discovering the gold plates, whose translation became the Book of Mormon, is called after its Book of Mormon name, Cumorah.  Despite the violent Mormon exile from Nauvoo, Illinois, after 1846, the town retains the name bequeathed to it by Joseph Smith when his followers gathered there in 1839; Smith explained the name as Hebrew for a “beautiful place.” In Iowa, Lamoni (after a king) and Zarahemla (a figure, city, and land) derive from the Book of Mormon. Western states contiguous to Utah are dotted with Mormon placenames: Joseph City, Mormon Lake, and Mormon Mountain in Arizona, for example. In Utah proper the names are myriad: Orderville, after the United Order in which 19th-century disciples enacted a communal economic system urged by church leaders; Brigham City, after Mormonism’s great presiding colonizer, Brigham Young; tiny Veyo, from a Mormon acronym for Virtue, Enterprise, Youth, and Order; and the Jordan River, named when Mormon pioneers discovered that the climate and terrain of their new homeland in the western desert resembled “Palestine inverted,” complete with a large dead sea (the Great Salt Lake) that was connected by a narrow river to a smaller fresh Galilee (Utah Lake) to the south.

Perhaps the two most common Mormon placenames in the state are Zion and Deseret. Originally among the aspiring Mormons, Zion suggested the “New Israel” where service and cooperation, rather than profit, drove the economy and its society. There “the pure in heart” were to dwell with such harmony that there would be “no poor among them.” Today Zion ironically attaches as much to commercial as to religious affairs: banks, rare coin dealerships, energy companies, insurance agencies, real estate corporations, and numerous others are called after this name.

“Deseret” is the Book of Mormon name for “honeybee”­–denoting industry and connoting organization, prized Mormon virtues. Mormon leaders in the 19th century repeatedly proposed that the vast territory they called Deseret be granted statehood, though the federal Congress, wishing to limit Mormon power, spurned the name, instead designating the territory and later the state after a native tribe, the Utes. But the symbol and concept of Deseret infuse Mormon culture. A beehive beneath the word “Industry” comprises the center of the Utah state flag. The dominant religious bookstore chain in the state is the church-owned Deseret Book Co.; Deseret First Credit Union is a prominent financial institution; one of Salt Lake City’s two major newspapers is the church’s Deseret News; Deseret Industries thrift stores is a division of Mormonism’s vast and impressive Welfare Services enterprise which displaces nationally-known Good Will Industries in places where Mormons are numerous.

In Mormon popular culture, anywhere outside of Utah and vicinity is the missionfield. Elders are commonly 18-year-old men. And virtually all members of a ward (congregation) have a calling or responsibility. This arguably produces more presidents per square mile than any other organization in existence, for a half-dozen Saints preside over various aspects of their respective wards.
All this grants us the briefest glimpse at Mormonism’s rich and colorful culture. Doubtless a substantive book could be written on Mormon vernacular.
Philip L. Barlow is Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University. His books include the updated edition of Mormons and the Bible (2013), The Oxford Handbook to Mormonism (co-edited with Terryl Givens, forthcoming, 2013), The New Historical Atlas of Religion in America (2000, co-authored with Edwin Scott Gaustad) and, as co-editor with Mark Silk, Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America’s Common Denominator? (2004). He is past president of the Mormon History Association.

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 https://blog.oup.com/2013/07/mormon-lingo-lds-words/

Friday, July 20, 2018

Are Latter-day Saints Christians?

(by Dan Peterson, sic et non blog, 7-20-18)

Something that I wrote and published back in 1998:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always accepted Jesus of Nazareth as testified of in the Bible: the devince Redeemer and Son of God who atoned for the sins of all mankind and ensured our universal resurrection. The church has never ceased to affirm that there is no other name given whereby man can be saved (see Acts 4:12). Another book that the church reveres as scripture, the Book of Mormon, declares on its title page that it was written "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."

(for the rest of the essay follow the link)

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2018/07/are-latter-day-saints-christians.html#disqus_thread

Monday, July 16, 2018

Conversion story (thanks Millennial Star Facebook page for bringing it to my attention)


(from the Ensign Magazine Facebook page, 7-11-18)

I grew up in China and considered myself a Christian, despite the fact that I never actually went to church. I was interested in God and Jesus Christ, and I thought Christian doctrine was very comforting.

When I moved to the United States for college, I started attending a nondenominational Christian church. After a few months, I heard about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from some friends who were considering attending Brigham Young University. I asked a few... students at the Christian church about the Latter-day Saints and was surprised when they fervently warned me to stay away from the “Mormons.” I listened to their advice at first, but as I was scrolling through social media about a week later, I came across an address by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the talk, he mentioned that members of the Church should be respectful to other religions (see “Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom,” http://bit.ly/2u2T9eb). As I listened to Elder Holland, I felt what I now know as the Spirit and decided that I needed to learn more about the Church.

I ended up going to church and later met with missionaries. I was touched by their teachings, particularly the plan of salvation. My parents weren’t too happy when I decided to be baptized, but they accepted that I was old enough to make my own decisions. When my grandparents visited me in America a few months later, I was able to teach them about the gospel. They both decided to be baptized.

The gospel has brought me so much joy and it has led me to my soon-to-be wife. It is worth every sacrifice I have had to make or will make. —Harry Guan

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Blog name change

Mormon Village is now Latter-Day Templar!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. I have had this blog for 5 years now!

So much has happened in 5 years. I remember starting this blog as a way of providing a balance to what I saw as some pretty poor quality "Mormon blogs" that were out there. (That hasn't changed, there are still some real bad blogs out there.)

But plenty of other things have changed over these past few years, so much so I think the word "insane" is apropos. Things don't even appear the way they were when I started this blog. The explosion of the social justice warrior, pronouns, same-sex marriage, legal marijuana, it goes on and on.

Which is what has led me to the change in name, and also change in purpose, of this blog.

The predictions of years past that a day would come when members of the church were going to need to stand tall is here. The overwhelming feeling I get from our society is one of coming doom. People in general not only don't seem to care about religion anymore, but they have no clue what it means to read the Bible and live a Christian life.

Hence the change in name of this blog. Latter-Day Templar reminds me more and more that we need to stand tall and defend the Church and what it means to be a follower of Christ. To be Templars you could say.

No one can do it better than us, we've proven that.

(Plus, I was happy to see President Nelson advise us that we need to use the term Latter-Day Saint now. That the term "Mormon" should be a thing of the past. I agree with that, and I'm happy to say I actually came to that decision a couple of months before the announcement.)

I hope you enjoy the blog, I think over the past 5 years I have posted quite of bit of helpful information, and please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

An exceptionally interesting ancient Egyptian papyrus


(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 6-28-18)

During the fifth century before Christ, Jewish military colonies served at various locations in Persian-occupied Egypt as mercenary garrisons. The most famous of them was located on Elephantine Island, directly opposite the ancient city of Syene (modern Aswan), where it guarded Egypt’s southern border. (The name “Elephantine” reflects the importance of Egypt’s ancient ivory trade with inner Africa.)

Most scholars believe that the colony at Elephantine was originally founded around 600 B.C. by Jews fleeing the military expansion of the Babylonian Empire — just as their contemporary, the Book of Mormon’s Lehi, did.
Surprisingly, the Aramaic-speaking Jews of Elephantine eventually built their own temple outside of Jerusalem, just as the Nephites had. It was dedicated to “Yahu” or “Yaho,” a variant form of the name “Yahweh” (“Jehovah”). (See “The Lady Sariah of Elephantine” published Oct. 26, 2017, on deseretnews.com.) But two other Aramaic-speaking communities also lived in the area, religiously foreign but fairly close culturally: A group from Syria had a temple for Bethel and the “Queen of Heaven” in Syene and, nearby, a group of Babylonians had built temples for Nabu and Banit.
 
Papyrus Amherst 63 was discovered along the Egyptian Nile at Luxor (ancient Thebes) in the late 19th century, roughly 500 miles south of the Mediterranean. For multiple reasons, although its title isn’t particularly gripping, Papyrus Amherst 63 is one of the most interesting documentary finds from the ancient Middle East.

The papyrus is made up of about 35 literary texts in the Aramaic language (a near-cousin of Hebrew). They appear in four sections, followed by an appendix in the form of a “court novella” about the Assyrian king Assurbanipal and his brother. The first three sections contain ritual texts from the Babylonians, the Syrians and the Jews, in that order.

The fourth section is surprisingly ecumenical, often equating one god with another (e.g., Yahweh with Bethel), as if the three communities were trying to create common religious ground. (Compare the apostle Paul’s use of a pagan poem about Zeus in Acts 17, as if that poem referred to the biblical God; see “God's sheep recognize his voice,” published Jan. 27, 2011, on deseretnews.com.))

All five of the gods who had temples at Elephantine and Syene appear in Papyrus Amherst 63; it was almost certainly compiled in that region, by people belonging to those communities.

It contains three Israelite psalms, only one of which — a variant form of the biblical Psalm 20:2-6 — corresponds to anything in the Bible. (A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will think immediately of the teaching of the Book of Mormon that elements of the biblical text would be lost in transmission.)

“The three psalms clearly belong together,” says the Dutch scholar Karel van der Toorn in the Biblical Archaeology Review's "Egyptian Papyrus Sheds New Light on Jewish History" in the July/August 2018 edition. Among other things, they seem to have been originally composed in Hebrew and they all celebrate “Yaho” as the king of the gods. They “go back,” says van der Toorn, “to Hebrew hymns that must have been written in the eighth century at the latest.”

Curiously, though, the scribes who recorded them in Papyrus Amherst 63, most likely (according to handwriting experts) in the fourth century B.C., did so in Demotic — a cursive and relatively late Egyptian script — rather than in the customary Aramaic or Hebrew script. This delayed their decipherment for more than 120 years; although the script was clear enough, it seemed to be meaningless gibberish to the Egyptologists who studied it until they realized that the language of the underlying text wasn’t Egyptian at all.

Many Latter-day Saint scholars believe the Book of Mormon to have been written in Hebrew or something very like it, but in an Egyptian script, and they have long pointed to Papyrus Amherst 63 as evidence of an ancient biblical text recorded in precisely that way. (See, for example, William J. Hamblin, “Reformed Egyptian” published at publications.mi.byu.edu).)

Professor van der Toorn says in the article of the three Amherst psalms that “These were songs the Israelites chanted before their religion turned monotheistic.” Thus, rather like biblical Psalm 82:1, Yaho is described not as a solitary figure but as the highest of the Gods, the head of a “council of heaven.”

Note: Toorn's “Egyptian Papyrus Sheds New Light on Jewish History” in the Biblical Archaeology Review (July/August 2018, pages 32-39, 66-68), prompted this column, which draws substantially from it. On Yahweh as the head of a “heavenly council” rather than as the isolated deity of later monotheism, see Daniel C. Peterson, “Ye Are Gods: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witnesses to the Divine Nature of Humankind” published online at publications.mi.byu.edu.

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https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900023095/an-exceptionally-interesting-ancient-egyptian-papyrus.html