Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Site Banner

Yes, friends, it's once again time for a revision to the Study and Faith site banner. Where once we had this:

Now we have this:

A brief explanation, in the style of the previous update: To the far left along the top, we have an illustration of Joseph Smith retrieving the golden plates from the Hill Cumorah under the watchful eyes of the Angel Moroni; the illustration comes from Pomeroy Tucker's 1867 The Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism. Next to that is a Renaissance-period painting of the Trinity - with Father and Son seated on the clouds, using the earth as a footstool, and the Holy Spirit as a dove between them - flanked by a multitude of angels. This particular work is "The Holy Trinity" (1620), by the Flemish Baroque artist Hendrick van Balen. Third in sequence is a section of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino's famed fresco "The School of Athens" (c. 1510), featuring a wide array of ancient philosophers. Fourth in sequence is an illustration, taken from George Reynolds' 1888 The Story of the Book of Mormon, of Moroni raising the 'Title of Liberty' (Alma 46:36).

At the center of the upper row of images, the background is a scene from a famed LDS painting of Jesus preaching to the Nephites, portrayed in a Mesoamerican setting. The foreground, like in the previous banner, is the manuscript of what is now D&C 88:118-120, from which this blog derives its name. Immediately to the right of this is an illustration of the old Nauvoo Temple, taken from Thomas Gregg's 1890 The Prophet of Palmyra. Next in sequence is, of course, a picture of the Jesus statue from the visitors' center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT. To the right of that yet is an icon featuring the participants at the First Council of Nicaea (325), holding up the first half of the text of the Nicene Creed, written in Greek. Finally, at the far right of the top row is situated an image of the Angel Moroni blowing his trumpet - a familiar LDS iconic scene - and standing atop a globe; this illustration is taken from the title page of Brigham Henry Roberts' 1903 Mormonism: Its Origins and History. Beneath this top row is, as with the old banner, a galactic scene intended to cohere well with the background of the blog. In front of it, in vivid lettering, is the blog title; beneath that are a series of gold 'reformed Egyptian' characters as found on a very early LDS broadside, The Stick of Joseph, Taken from the Hand of Ephraim: A Correct Copy of the Characters Taken from the Plates the Book of Mormon!! Was Translated From.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Orson Spencer on God and Mary

I found the following summary account in Orson Spencer's Patriarchal Order, or Plurality of Wives! (Liverpool, UK: W. Richards, 1853), 15:
Had the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ a wife? - Yes.

Who was she? - Mary; and blessed above all women, and highly favoured of the Lord.

Had he any children by her in the flesh? - One Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Had the Father of Jesus Christ any other children? - Yes; an innumerable multitude.

Who are they? - We, the whole human family, and also the fallen angels, are his offspring. He is the Father of our spirits, and Jesus is our oldest Brother among the Spirits.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Father in the Heavens

The following is a poem/hymn by William W. Phelps, titled "Our Father in the Heavens". So far as I can tell, this is a little-known piece, but it makes for an interesting comparison with his considerably more famous LDS hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob". I've italicized the chorus and fleshed it out in each instance:

When eternities began,
There were precepts made for man,
Knowing Lucifer deceives, -
For each Adam had his Eves, -
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

Then our Father in his youth,
Came from Teman full of truth,
Cloth'd in flesh like you and I,
Sav'd his world, and went on high,
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

Morning Stars together sang,
Sweet the song on Kolob rang;
"There's another Kingdom Come;
There's another God come home:" -
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

O! what glory fills each realm!
And what wisdom guides the helm! -
As a resurrected soul,
Every God controls a whole: -
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

What a mighty scope for thought, -
Where the spirits are begot?
Born for Kingdoms yet to be,
In a new eternity?
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

There's the mansions; there's the means;
There's the Kings, and there's the Queens;
There's the children; there's the plan;
There's the glory yet for man -
Like millions of millions his Father once had blest; -
Or millions of millions in everlasting rest.

This hymn, written by Phelps on 30 September 1851, was published in William W. Phelps, Deseret Almanac, for the Year of Our Lord, 1852: Being Leap Year, and After the 6th of April, the 23rd Year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and the Second of the Last Half Century of This Dispensation (Great Salt Lake City, UT: Willard Richards), 6, 8.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

William Phelps on Bible Astronomy

The following mini-article, "Bible Astronomy" (all bracketed references original), appears in William W. Phelps, Deseret Almanac, for the Year of Our Lord, 1852: Being Leap Year, and After the 6th of April, the 23rd Year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and the Second of the Last Half Century of This Dispensation (Great Salt Lake City, UT: Willard Richards), 5:
The nearest "fixed star" must be Mount Paran, mentioned by Habakkuk, the fruitful world of glory where the "Holy One" came from; or rather Kolob, where our Father in the Heavens resides in the midst of his glory and kingdoms.

The next nearest "fixed star," also mentioned by Habakkuk, must be Tamen, the world of perfection where God came from to do the works of his Father, spoken of by John the Revelator, [Rev. 1.6,] which Father of God, and grand father of Jesus Christ, must now be living in one of the eternity of eternities - which closes the Lord's prayer in the Greek version, and is mentioned by John, [Rev. 19-3&c.]

If, as Paul says, there are "Lords many, and Gods many," and each has the control of a renewed or resurrected world, which continually shines as a "fixed star;" Heaven must be a large blessed universe of intelligent worlds. What say the learned D.D's on this head? Paul ascended to the third Heaven, and heard things unlawful to utter then, - but all things are to be revealed in the last days. - Open the window of Heaven.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Mormon Creed

For no apparent reason, I was leafing through the first LDS almanac, Orson Pratt's Prophetic Almanac for 1845, Being the First After Bissextile or Leap Year (New York: Prophet Office). I noticed some interesting things that Pratt put at the bottom, and one item spread out over several pages caught my eye. The title was "The Mormon Creed", set out in a Q&A arrangement like a catechism.

[EDIT: After a bit more research, I find that I seem to have made a slight error. The title "The Mormon Creed" in fact likely is only applied to the immediately subsequent line, namely, "Let every body mind their own business." It was not uncommon for this sentiment to be dubbed a 'Mormon creed' back during this period. Hence, what follows is actually an untitled LDS catechism of sorts. It was difficult to tell that this was a new item, given the rather cramped and jumbled format of the almanac.]

I reprint the main of it here (the "Q" and "A" are my additions for ease of reading):

Q: What is man?

A: The offspring of God.

Q: What is God?

A: The father of man.

Q: Who is Jesus Christ?

A: He is our brother.

Q: What is man in Embrio [embryo]?

A: He is a helpless babe.

Q: What is man in progress?

A: He is a man.

Q: What is man perfected?

A: He is as Christ; and Christ is as the Father; and they all are one.

Q: How many states of existence has man?

A: He has three.

Q: What is the first?

A: It is spiritual.

Q: What is the second?

A: It is temporal.

Q: What is the third?

A: It is immortal and eternal.

Q: How did he begin to exist in the first?

A: He was begotten and born of God.

Q: How did he begin to exist in the second?

A: He was begotten and born of the flesh.

Q: How did he begin to exist in the third?

A: By the Resurrection of the dead.

Q: What is his final destiny?

A: To be like God.

Q: What has God been?

A: Like man.

Q: What is man without revelation?

A: A vessel in a fog without a compass.

Q: What will man be with the aid of revelation?

A: He will be filled with light; and know and comprehend all things.

Q: What is man's spirit?

A: The candle of the Lord.

Q: How shall it be lighted?

A: By the Spirit of God.

Q: How many Gods are there?

A: "There are lords many, and gods many: but to us there is but one God" [1 Corinthians 8:5-6]

Q: How many heavens are there?

A: They are innumerable.

Q: Where will heaven be?

A: On the earth; and on all other glorified worlds.

Q: What is Mormonism?

A: It is all truth.

Q: How old is it?

A: Without beginning of days or end of years.

Q: What is its destiny?

A: To fill earth and the heavens with light and love.

Q: Who is Joseph Smith?

A: He is Jesus Christ's brother.

Q: From whence is his authority?

A: From Heaven.

Q: What is he sent to do?

A: To let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke.

Q: What kind of success will he meet with?

A: Universal; over the whole world.

Q: Suppose the people try to hinder him?

A: They cannot do it; but will perish.

Q: Why?

A: Because God has sent him.

Q: What are the present forms of political governments?

A: They are the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar.

Q: What are the present forms of Church Government?

A: Spiritual Babylon, or the image of mystery and names of blasphemy seen by John on the Isles of Patmos.

Q: When will the present forms of political and religious government come to an end?

A: In the present age.

Q: By what means?

A: By the kingdom of God, and by the appearance of the Son of God; and a great destruction.

Q: What is the kingdom of God?

A: A theocracy; or, in other words, a kingdom governed by direct revelation from God.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Parley Pratt on Plural Marriage

As with other nineteenth-century book-length presentations of LDS thought, Parley Pratt's Key to the Science of Theology (1855) ends with a chapter on marriage, in which - among other things - Pratt discusses plural marriage. Although Pratt discussed this issue at great length elsewhere also, I'd like to present a few choice quotes from this work here (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology [Liverpool, UK: F. D. Richards, 1855], 163, 165, 167, 171-172):

Again, it was a law of the ancient Priesthood, and is again restored, that a man who is faithful in all things, may, by the word of the Lord, through the administration of one holding the keys to bind on earth and heaven, receive and secure to himself, for time and all eternity, MORE THAN ONE WIFE. Thus did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Patriarchs and Prophets of old. The principal object contemplated by this law, is the multiplication of the children of good and worthy fathers, who will teach them the truth, and train them in the holy principles of salvation. This is far preferable to sending them into the world in the lineage of an unworthy or ignorant parentage, to be educated in error, folly, ignorance, and crime....

Marriage, and its duties, are therefore, not a mere matter of choice, or of convenience, or of pleasure to the parties; but to marry and multiply is a positive command of Almighty God, binding on all persons of both sexes, who are circumstanced and conditioned to fulfil the same. To marry, propagate our species, do our duty to them, and to educate them in the light of truth, are among the chief objects of our existence on the earth. To neglect these duties, is to fail to answer the end of our creation, and is a very great sin....

Indeed, it should be the privilege of every virtuous female, who has the requisite capacity and qualifications for matrimony, to demand either of individuals or government, the privilege of becoming an honoured and legal wife and mother; even if it were necessary for her to be married to a man who has several wives; or, as Jesus said in the parable, to take the one talent from the place where it remains neglected or unimproved, and give it to him who has ten talents....

The eternal union of the sexes, in and after the resurrection, is mainly for the purpose of renewing and continuing the work of procreation. In our present or rudimental state, our offspring are in our own image, and partake of our natures, in which are the seeds of death. In like manner, will the offspring of immortal and celestial beings, be in the likeness and partake of the nature of their divine parentage. Hence, such offspring will be pure, holy, incorruptible and eternal. They will in no wise be subject unto death, except by descending to partake of the grosser elements, in which are the inherent properties of dissolution or death. To descend thus, and to be made subject to sorrow, pain and death, is the only road to the resurrection, and to the higher degrees of immortality and eternal life. [...] Hence, the highest degrees of eternal felicity are approached by the straight gate, and the narrow path which leads through the dark valley of death, to eternal mansions in the realms of endless life. This path has been trodden by the eternal Father, by His son Jesus Christ, - and by all the sons and daughters of God, who are exalted to a fulness of joys celestial.

How does Parley Pratt's picture of marriage and exaltation here relate to that of Charles Penrose, or that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blessing for the Dead: Another Early LDS Poem

The following poem, titled "Blessing for the Dead", is taken from John Lyon, The Harp of Zion: A Collection of Poems, &c. (Liverpool, UK: S. W. Richards, 1853), 101:
How happy the Saints who are faithful and true,
Who have kept their first love, and on earth do renew
The cov'nants they've made in the regions above,
And still prove their faith by their labours of love.
They'll rejoice evermore in the Kingdom of God,
And have for reward, an eternal abode!

Rejoice all ye dead who the Truth have not heard;
In the spirit you'll learn all the power of His word,
And the vast prison-house shall be opened for you,
When you've paid the last mite for your sins justly due.
In the mansions of peace, for the righteous prepared,
You'll live in the joys of eternal reward!

Be vigilant then, all ye faithful, to earn
What the dead are so anxiously waiting to learn,
Your trials, and patience, and sufferings, and loss,
Shall be gain in the end, if you bear off the cross,
And those who are saved, shall extol God, the giver,
And shine like the stars, in His kingdom for ever.
What do you think?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's Quote for Thought

Today's quote comes from Brigham Young, at the conclusion of one of his talks on 18 May 1873:

I say to the whole world, receive the truth, no matter who presents it to you. Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test. (Journal of Discourses 16:46)


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

LDS Temple Documentary History Books

I wanted to take a moment to remark on some things I've been reading. I've recently completed the first and second books in a three-volume set edited by Devery S. Anderson (the first two co-edited with Gary James Bergera) on the history of LDS temple worship. The first of those volumes, Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History, naturally covers the period from the organization of the Quorum of the Anointed (also known as the Holy Order) up through the point in late 1845 when the Nauvoo temple was sufficiently prepared to begin doing the ordinances there. The second volume, The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846: A Documentary History, covers just a few months but with such rich documentation that it requires about 621 pages to do so. Thanks in large part to William Clayton and also to the Seventies Record (Book B), we have an immense wealth of detail, including various names and statistics pertaining to virtually every performance of every ordinance that happened there. And all of it is included in this book, along with all sorts of associated records. These two books so far have been a great help in learning about the development of temple ordinances and related subjects from LDS sources, largely diaries and record-books. I stress again, these were extremely informative, and I'm quite eager to read the third volume, The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History. (Alas, it will most likely be quite some time before I get my hands on it.)

There truly are some gems in here, even if much of the material leans towards the mundane. Here are a few bits and pieces that I found interesting. The first comes from Heber Chase Kimball on 27 June 1845, the first anniversary of the death of Joseph Smith (1:121):

One year ago Joseph and Hirum [Smith] was killed in Carthage Jail [Illinois]. So we met in cou[n]cil to pray that God would curs[e] those that had spilt there [the martyrs'] B[l]ood and all those ^that^ percicute the Saints. O Lord I [Heber C. Kimball] thank Thy holy name that Thou dost hear Thy servents and bring trouble on them [who do us harm]. Even now they are dum, and cannot do business and are all thrown in to confusion, in answer to the prayers of Thy servents, as we have felt to pleede with The[e] with uplifted hands in token of our regard to The[e].

As an example from the second volume, one might choose the diary entry made by Thomas Bullock pertaining to 23 January 1846, where he says (2:468, 471):

At dusk I [Thomas Bullock], Henrietta [Bullock] and Lucy [Clayton] went to the Temple, dressed, sat in the Cel[estial]. Room, and shook hands with B[righam]. Young, H[eber]. C. Kimball, O[rson]. Hyde, P[arley]. P. Pratt, [and] A[masa]. Lyman. Went into the President's room when I and [the] two others were sealed up to eternal life, thro[ugh]' time to come forth in the morn of the resurrection, and thro' all eternity. Were sealed up against all sin except the sin against the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood by A[masa]. Lyman. I praise the Lord for this great manifestation of his love and mercy towards me and grant that the happiness which I now enjoy may last for all eternity. And may my whole soul continually praise his holy name. Amen. Afterwards we staid till midnight rejoicing to the sound of music with songs of praise. Pres[ident]. Young addressed the assembly and H[eber]. C. Kimball offered up prayer to our Heavenly Father - especially for those who had made covenants that night.

The editing done on these volumes is, in my mind, top-notch. And the sources they present are truly invaluable and give a great deal of insight. (And, for those with concerns, the editors do edge around presenting the few aspects of the temple ceremonies that members are genuinely forbidden to divulge.) I've learned plenty from these books, and I recommend them highly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bill Hickman's Meeting with a Mob Leader

Early on in his 1872 autobiographical work Brigham's Destroying Angel, William Adams "Wild Bill" Hickman (who had converted to the LDS faith in 1839 but was excommunicated from the Church in 1868) tells the story of Joseph Smith's demise and the aftermath. And part of that story is especially interesting, because Hickman tells of having paid a visit to one of the leaders of the mob that stormed Carthage Jail and killed Joseph and Hyrum. The following account is taken from Bill Hickman, Brigham's Destroying Angel: Being the Life, Confession, and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, the Danite Chief of Utah (New York: George A. Crofutt, 1872), 39-40:
Late in 1844 I went to what was called Green Plains, some twenty miles below Nauvoo, to Col. Williams', who, I was told, commanded the blacked mob who killed the Smiths, partly by request of Brigham Young, and partly to satisfy myself as to the cause of their death. I stayed with him one night. He was very jealous of me when I first went to his house, supposing me to be a Mormon; but I soon satisfied him I was from Missouri. I knew several of his relatives and friends who lived in the neighborhood I had just left, which soon dispersed all his suspicion, and a free conversation took place between us. He told me all about the Smiths being killed. I asked him what were the charges against them? He said they ruled the county, elected whom they pleased, and the old settlers had no chance; that it was the only way they could get rid of them. After getting through he said: "Now, Mr. Hickman, we don't pretend to justify ourselves in what we have done; we frequently talk about it, but what else could we have done? There are some bad men amongst them who do some stealing, and it is almost impossible to catch them; but many of them are good men. I have them for neighbors, and have had them hired to work for me, and they were good neighbors and industrious." I also learned from him that they had no intention of mob-raising again, which was what Brigham Young wanted to find out. I went to Warsaw and all around the county generally, and got the general say-so of all that class of men; returned to Nauvoo and gave general satisfaction to Brigham Young, this being my first business with him and my first acquaintance personally.
Does this cohere with the impressions you may have had about the mob and its rationale?