Throughout my many travels I'm frequently asked by persons who don't know much about Mormons, Are Mormons Christians? With a smile I always give the same answer, "Yes we are, very much so."

Mormons quite often are referred to as Latter-Day Saint Christians due to the official name of the church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But it's more than just a name, Latter-Day Saints strive daily to live the life of Christ and abide by his teachings and those of his apostles.

The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) The word Christian means “a follower of Christ" but the word disciple means “student” or “pupil.” Hence a true Christian is not someone who simply says they believe in Christ but rather someone who ardently follows and studies the Savior their entire lives. Mormons do exactly that, therefore we are very much Christian in the truest sense of the word.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Smart Mormons

I’m inspired by this Mormon theological idea: God intended for humans to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences of those choices.


(by Mike Jensen canadafreepress.com 1-23-13)

During the 2012 presidential campaign, that awesomely deep well of perpetual wisdom, Alec Baldwin, proclaimed that if Barack Obama were not black, his vote total would have been 20 percent higher.

People of real intelligence realize that the opposite was probably true: if he had been white, his vote total would have been 20 percent lower.  The African-American voting bloc combined with enough whites suffering from liberal guilt guaranteed a higher vote total for Obama.

The truth of the matter is, if Mitt Romney had not been a Mormon, his vote total might very well have been significantly higher.

In fact, according to a Galup poll released in June of last year, while 4 percent of people said they would not vote for a black president, a full 22 percent said they would not vote for a Mormon.  In fact, only atheists and gays ranked higher.

(You can see the full article here: )

So Baldwin probably had it backwards, which he usually does, so that comes as no surprise.

What did come as a surprise to me is why people would have such negative views of Mormons.  I have known lots of them in my life, and in most cases they have been hard-working, kind, generous, family-oriented people—just the kind of people this country used to value (and maybe that’s the problem right there.)

Mormons have intrigued me ever since Mike Huckabee back in 2007 claimed that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers.  With the recent election over, I decided to check out Mormons a bit more.
My hope in doing this was to explain to readers who Mormons are and whether or not 22 percent of the people were justified in opposing having a Mormon president.

But instead I’m going to share an intriguing bit of Mormon theology I learned that I think makes them perhaps the most politically wise human beings on the planet.  Ironically, this story stems from that Huckabee quote about the relationship between Jesus and the devil, but the lesson to be learned is one that, regardless of our political or religious views, we would all be wise to consider.

So here’s what I learned: Mormons, unlike most other Christian sects, believe that all humans lived a life before mortality.  They call this the pre-existence or pre-earth life.  At birth a veil is placed over our minds so that we don’t remember it (you’ll see why in a minute).

In this pre-earth life, we were all in the presence of God as His spirit children.  Jesus was there—the first-born of God’s spirit children, and a leader in the councils in Heaven.  Lucifer was also there, and was another leader among the children of God.  He was called a “son of the morning.”

At some point in this existence, the Father called all of His children together to explain how things worked.  All of His children would have to leave His presence and come to earth for a period of testing.  The goal was to see if we would live a righteous life even when we had to live by faith, as we would no longer be able to remember God or heaven (that’s the reason for the veil).

If we would live a righteous life, we would be given the opportunity to return and live with God forever. 

Otherwise we would forfeit that chance, because no unclean thing can live in God’s presence.  However, God knew that we would all make mistakes, so he would provide a Savior for the world.  This Savior would live a sinless life, and because of that, he would qualify to pay for the sins of the world through what would be called the “Atonement.”  If people would sincerely repent of their sins, then the Atonement would essentially erase their sins, and they could still return and live with God.  The Father called for volunteers to be this savior, and two stepped forward: Jesus and Lucifer.

Lucifer said that he would be the savior and he would force everybody to live righteously, thus guaranteeing that all of God’s spirit children would return to Him in heaven.  Jesus said that He would follow the Father’s plan and allow God’s children their free agency.  They could choose for themselves whether to live righteously and take advantage of the Atonement or whether to live in sin and forfeit the opportunity to return and live with God.

God rejected Lucifer’s plan, causing Lucifer to rebel and declare war on God.  One-third of God’s spirit children joined Lucifer in this rebellion.  In the end, the rebellion failed and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven.  They came to earth without bodies and now, continuing the war they started in heaven, they tempt men to do evil to one another and lose out on the chance to return to God.

PAY ATTENTION HERE; THIS IS THE GOOD PART

Now, any traditional Christians reading this will see similarities to their own belief system.  Most traditional Christians believe that Lucifer lived in heaven as an angel, but then declared war on God and was cast out.  However, the causes for that war are not necessarily clear in traditional Christian theology.

That is where Mormon theology is so intriguing.  For Mormons, the greatest of all battles, the war in heaven, was fought over LIBERTY—or as they call it, “free agency.”  Lucifer wanted to take it away, while God demanded that humans have it.

Although a Mormon might balk at my making comparisons between their religious beliefs and modern politics (and as I said earlier, every Mormon I’ve ever known was a very good person, so I apologize to any I offend), I see a direct correlation here.  For a Mormon, the battle for liberty is not unique to this life; it is the core battle of the ages.  Lucifer lost the war in heaven (he really thought he could beat God?), but the war continues on earth.  So seeing the government become more and more tyrannical is not just a political concern; it’s a fundamental, eternal concern.

I’m inspired by this Mormon theological idea: God intended for humans to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences of those choices.  The Founding Fathers of this country said essentially the same thing in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
My study of Mormonism has not only given me newfound respect for this people and their religion; it has also made me evaluate my own attitude towards the liberty that seems to be slipping through all of our fingers.  Is this just something that is nice to have, and for which I thank the Founding Fathers?  Or is it really something that is endowed by God, and that He expects me to fight for.  According to Mormon theology, I already fought for this once.  The fact that I’m here says that I was on God’s side in the war in heaven, and fought for liberty.

A Mormon might ask, why should any of us be less willing to fight for it here than we were there?

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http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/52591

Friday, March 29, 2013

Artwork by J. Kirk Richards



Grey Day Golgotha - J Kirk Richards

Christ's resurrection was a witnessed fact, not a later fantasy


(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 3-28-13)
 
Modern people commonly assume that pre-modern people were stupid, inhabiting a primitive fantasy world detached from reality, unenlightened by science and awash in superstition. Such gullible minds, some modern “realists” claim, merely imagined the resurrection of Christ.

This is a largely baseless prejudice. Pre-modern people knew death intimately, in a way that most of us today don’t. For them, death occurred at home, in battle, through accidents or as a result of plague, not in a sterile hospital staffed by cool, efficient professionals. It was up close, personal and very visible. Family or friends typically disposed of the bodies of their dead. They couldn’t delegate that final service to others.

Thus, to suggest that the first Christians believed that Jesus rose from the tomb because they didn’t grasp the nature of death is to speak flat nonsense. Nobody knew better than they did that dead bodies don’t return to life.

When, on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other women reported their encounter with the angels at the empty tomb to the apostles, “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11). Even after Peter himself had gone to the sepulcher, seeing it vacant and Jesus’ burial shroud neatly folded within, he “departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:12; John 20:7). He didn’t naively rush to believe.

Jesus appeared to 10 of the remaining 11 apostles that evening, but Thomas wasn’t there with them. And then, despite their collective testimony that “We have seen the Lord,” he insisted, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hands into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

The New Testament accounts suggest not gullibility on the part of the first Christian disciples but skepticism — the skepticism that some imagine is reserved for enlightened moderns. In the ancient world, as in ours, the dead don’t commonly return.

But skepticism maintained too long is foolishness, and the disciples’ incredulity was shattered by their experience with the risen Lord. The seeming defeat of the cross was swallowed up in the fact of the resurrection. The disciples were transformed. On the Saturday of Passover weekend, while the Lord’s body lay in his tomb — though, unannounced to mortals, he was at work organizing the proclamation of the gospel among the spirits of the dead (1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6; Doctrine and Covenants 138) — the disciples, fearing further arrests and executions, literally discouraged at the apparent failure of their leader, were in hiding.

And yet, the four gospels testify that, with the exception of Thomas, they saw Jesus alive again the next day. “My Lord and my God,” said Thomas to Jesus when he too had actually seen the risen Savior (John 20:28).

Jesus trained them for 40 subsequent days and then commanded that they await the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them before acting further (Acts 1:3-4). That descent occurred at Pentecost, 50 days after the crucifixion. Instantly, the remaining apostles were out on the streets of Jerusalem, boldly testifying, at great personal risk, of Christ’s resurrection (see Acts 2-4).

Soon thereafter, this small band of Galilean peasants was carrying that revolutionary message across the Mediterranean, witnessing of “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). And this seemingly failed little Jewish messianic movement proceeded to change world history.

But what of those who haven’t directly met the resurrected Jesus? “Thomas,” said the Savior, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

“Did not our heart burn within us,” reflected Cleopas and his companion along the road to Emmaus after they realized the identity of the third man who had walked with them “while he talked with us by the way?” (Luke 24:32).

Even today, many can bear similar testimony. Someday I hope to demonstrate at book length that Christians have sound historical reason to do so. “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,” insisted Peter, “when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865576869/Christs-resurrection-was-a-witnessed-fact-not-a-later-fantasy.html?pg=1

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The blog list narrows

The work continues.

I've been leisurely going through the 45 blogs that I originally extracted from the list of over 300 LDS blogs in existence.

I'm happy to say I have cut those 45 blogs down to 26. Which blogs will make the cut?

Stay tuned, I hope to get these 26 down to a manageable 15 or so.

Mormon student at Florida Atlantic University punished for refusing to 'stomp on Jesus'



(by David Ward deseretnews.com 3-26-13)

Suppose you’re in college, attending a class called intercultural communications and your teacher asks you to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper in large capital letters. It seems benign enough — you have no problem doing so. Then he instructs you to put the paper on the floor with the name facing up. You comply.

He asks you to think about the paper for a moment and then tells you to stomp on it. What would you do?

That’s the situation Florida Atlantic University student Ryan Rotela found himself in nearly a month ago, according to news website Raw Story.

Rotela, a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refused to complete the exercise and was suspended by the university after reporting the incident to the instructor’s supervisor, CBS News reported on March 21.

“I picked up the paper from the floor and put it right back on the table. I’m not going to be sitting in a class having my religious rights desecrated.

“Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value."

Rotela said he expressed his feelings to instructor Dr. Deandre Poole who showed no remorse.
"I said to the professor, 'With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate. I believe it was unprofessional and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.'"

Rotela then reported the incident to the associate dean, who told him not to go back to class. “I’m being punished,” Rotela said. “And like I said, I’m still waiting for an apology from somebody.”
The university initially issued a statement saying:

"Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate."

One day after the CBS News report, however, the university reversed course, offering the following apology, as reported by FoxNews:

“This exercise will not be used again. The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865576783/Mormon-student-at-Florida-Atlantic-University-punished-for-refusing-to-stomp-on-Jesus.html

Monday, March 25, 2013

Confessions of a Mormon bishop

(by Russ Hill deseretnews.com 3-25-13)

I pulled into my driveway at 12:30 this morning.

I sat in the car in front of our dark house for a few minutes. Everyone inside was asleep. The whole neighborhood was still. And yet my mind was racing. So many questions. So many emotions. Sadness. Hope. Inadequacy.

Welcome to the life of a Mormon bishop.

Like pastors, priests, and clergy in other religions, those of us asked to serve as a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend hours behind closed doors meeting with people who allow us into the darkest corners of their lives.

They come to us for various reasons. Because of guilt. Because they have lost hope. Because they have been betrayed. Because they dont know where else to go. Because they feel worthless. Because the person they are isnt the person they want to be. Because they have questions. Because they have doubts. Because they believe in a forgiving God yet feel disconnected from him.

They come and sit in front of me. Some hesitate. Take a deep breath. And grasp for courage to say out loud what they have been hiding inside for days, weeks, or years.

Others almost run in. They spill before I sit. Theyre anxious to clear their conscience or announce their doubts.

Each one is different.   For hours every week I sit. And listen.

I did not ask for this opportunity. I never considered I might someday have an office in a church. I have no professional training for this position. I am not a scriptural scholar. I have not walked through vineyards with robe-wearing monks. And, if youre wondering about vows of celibacy let me introduce you to my four kids.
All I did was answer a phone call. Show up for a meeting. And nod when asked if I would serve.

I dont sometimes wonder why me. I always wonder why me.

And yet they come. Share their stories. And look to me for wisdom.

Im not sure any of them have learned from me. But, I have learned so much in the hours Ive sat in that office listening to them.

I have learned that we believe it is a strength to conceal weakness.

I have learned that it is easy to want others to overlook our flaws as we expect perfection in them.

I have learned that it is hardest to show compassion and grant forgiveness to those closest to us.

I have learned that while curiosity is a strength it can also be a curse.

I have learned that we are creatures of habit.

I have learned that faith is a muscle.

I have learned that it is far easier to deny deity than to deny desire.

I have learned the mystery surrounding death forces a consideration of spiritual matters.

I have learned that observance of the Sabbath recalibrates perspective and improves judgment.

I have learned that most of us bear scars from the failure, disappointment, and fear in our lives. And, we prefer to wear long sleeves.

I have learned that to deal with lifes pain most of us choose one of the following: alcohol, drugs, pornography, or spirituality.

I have learned alcohol and drugs are the easiest path. As long as youre willing to never stop drinking, smoking or swallowing.

I have learned pornography is highly addictive and has nothing to do with sexual appetites and everything to do with escape. And that the habit is never overcome in isolation.

I have learned that we feel like a failure when we make mistakes even when we profess a belief that the purpose of this existence is to make and learn from them.

I have learned that forgiveness is the greatest gift we can offer someone. And ourselves.

I have learned that many know about Jesus Christ but more of us could make an effort to know him.

I have learned that the strongest among us are those with the cleanest mirrors.

I have learned that the sins of parents profoundly affect children. And are often repeated by them.

I have learned that affection from parents profoundly affects children.

I have learned that most communication between parents and children is what psychologists call "superficial."

Strong relationships are built on the "validating" variety.

I have learned that children desperately desire parents who listen.

I have learned that churches are not museums or catwalks for perfected saints but rather labs for sinners.

I have learned that "tolerate" and "love" are two very different verbs despite what popular culture professes.

I have learned that there's more sadness in this world than I had realized.

I have learned there is more goodness in this world than I had realized.

I have learned that to be happy is a choice.

I have learned those preoccupied with serving others have less time to count their problems.

I have learned that a habit of one brief moment of spirituality a day can alter one's entire direction.

I have learned that we want God to grant us space to make decisions but step in to stop others, nature, mortality, or illness from hurting us or those we love.

I have learned those who have made more mistakes have a great gift. Empathy. Now to the matter of searching out someone who hungers for it.

Indeed, I have learned I have much to learn.

The names of those I meet with will never be known. Confidentiality demands I never disclose their stories.
But, late last night as I sat in my car on the driveway I decided I should compile a list of what the people I meet with are teaching me.

And, I wanted to share it.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765625385/Confessions-of-a-Mormon-bishop.html?pg=1

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is the Mormon Blog Party over?

A couple of years ago I remember hearing something about the explosion of Mormon Blogs however I was busy with other things and didn't take time to investigate the phenomenon. Also I had heard that it was mostly "Mormon Mommy" blogs and didn't feel like looking at pictures of other people's children which is what I had guessed would be the theme of most.

Not until a couple of weeks ago when I started getting interested in doing my own blog did I decide to check out all the others.

A couple of dizzying nights later I have a better understanding of the Bloggernacle. However it seems to me that the "Mormon Blog" craze might be coming to an end, or at least settling down quite a bit.

For the last two nights I've had a lot of fun going through the list of blogs on ldsblogs.org and mormonblogs.org. I also got quite the headache, mormonblogs.org has roughly 265 blogs linked and ldsblogs.org has roughly 80!

But I trudged through and made a few observations. About 25% of the blogs listed don't even exist any more meaning whomever is in charge of those two websites hasn't been keeping them current. Then probably about 50% still exist but haven't been updated for at least a year. (One blog hadn't been updated since 2004.)

So when all was said and done and once I had clicked on every link to every blog on those two websites I came up with 45 blogs that are current and up to date and not the "mommy" blog type. That boils down to 17%, which makes me wonder if the party is over. Actually, if you think about it, it might be a good thing that there aren't as many Mormon blogs out there. Some of them were questionable to say the least, and even a couple seemed actually anti-mormon. Maybe fewer is better, especially if the ones that are left are well done and relevant.

Which brings me to another point. Some of these "relevant" blogs seem somewhat confrontational with the Church. That was a little surprising to me, goes to show how much I know. And others seem like they are thesis papers for some college master's degree with post titles like "Cultivating Oppositional Critical Consciousness" and "Social Commentary on the Rise and Fall of Rational Theology".

Huh?

So I've got quite a job ahead of me. Finding some blogs that I enjoy following without feeling I am studying for a final exam in "Religious Theology and Critical Thinking", and also creating a blog that I think others would like to follow.

What have I gotten myself into?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Introduction, part 1

Hello, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Hopfully you will like what I have here as I am hoping to create an enjoyable and informative Mormon website.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

BYU professor Royal Skousen - Book of Mormon studies

BYU professor Royal Skousen concludes his discussion on changes to the Book of Mormon original text

(by  deseretnews.com 3-19-13)

The nature of the original text of the Book of Mormon was the focus of Royal Skousen, a professor of linguistics at BYU, during the conclusion of his lecture series on the original and printer's manuscripts of the Book of Mormon on March 12.

Daniel C. Peterson, a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, acknowledged the work Skousen has done with the critical text project. Peterson expressed the benefits he has seen because of Skousen's work.

"Without (the critical text project) we would still be at the mercy of critics shouting about the number of changes made to the Book of Mormon text after its first printing, claiming both that our failure to acknowledge those changes demonstrates a cover-up, and that the sheer fact of the changes proves Joseph Smith a false prophet," Peterson said during his introduction for Skousen. "We now know far more than they ever bothered to learn about the nature of those changes, and we know that the changes are anything but faith destroying."

Peterson also mentioned the strict and professional behavior that Skousen maintained throughout the project.

"Although he is a deeply believing Latter-day Saint, he has maintained — successfully from the very beginning — that the project must be run according to the most rigorous academic principles," Peterson said.

The Book of Mormon is considered another testament of Jesus Christ for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a companion the Bible. It was translated by Joseph Smith from gold plates with the help from several scribes.

Skousen discussed the original manuscript, conjectural emendations or changes that had been made to the text, and the nature of the original English language text. Skousen recounted that only 28 percent of the original text is available. Joseph Smith had placed the original manuscript in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House and, once it was recovered, mold and other natural causes had destroyed much of the copy.

But through the 28 percent of the original copy and by also using the printer's manuscript, Skousen has been able to identify where and why some changes took place.

Several specific examples were given, such as the text in 1 Nephi 12:18. In the original text the verse read, "And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God."
"The word is 'sword,' but (scribe) Oliver (Cowdery) misread it," Skousen said during the last lecture on March 19. "It was mis-copied by him as 'word.' "

Skousen explained how he was able to view the original copy of this section in order to determine the possible misreading.

"We had the original, and people had read it, and I misread it myself as 'word' because of the way it was written by the scribe," Skousen said. "But if we look at the whole text, we will find that there are only references to the 'sword of the justice of God'; there are no examples in the text of the 'word of the justice of God.' "

Skousen suggested that the correction had never been made because "the word of the justice of God" also could make sense. But Skousen pointed out that he has never come across a change that conflicts with doctrine.

"Some people ask me, 'Do we ever find ones that change the doctrine?' and the answer is no," Skousen said. "There have been none that have changed the doctrine, but there have been a few which restore the correct teachings and the doctrine."

An example of such corrections can be found in Alma 39:13. According to Skousen, the original text read, "... but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and repair that wrong which ye have done."

Skousen explained that in this verse, Alma is telling Corianton that he is supposed to go back to the Zoramites and acknowledge his faults and repair what he has done wrong.

"What happened on this particular page in the original manuscript is that when Oliver got done writing it, he dropped ink — little ink drops are all over this page," Skousen said.

It just so happened that some ink had dropped on the word "repair," causing the "p" to look like a "t." Skousen also explained that Cowdery often looped his "r's" down, causing it to look similar to the letter "n."
"Once the typesetter set Gadianton the robber as Gadianton the nobler," Skousen said. "It's one of the best readings in the 1830 because he misread Oliver's 'r' as an 'n.' "

But with the combination of the drops of ink and the letter "r," "repair" easily looked like "retain."
"Oliver himself misread this one once the big, heavy ink blob was there, and he read it as 'retain,' " Skousen said. "It sat there in the Book of Mormon until the 1920 edition."

It wasn't until Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve until his death in 1933, and the committee pondered the meaning of the word "retain" for the 1920 edition that it was ultimately removed from the text. Skousen expressed the benefits that just this one example can bring.

"'Restore" and 'repair' then means that the full notion of repentance appears in this statement, instead of just part of it," Skousen said. "So it doesn't change any doctrine, but it's reaffirming the true doctrine that we know."

A display of the critical text project is available to view at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections section at the Harold B. Lee library at BYU. Some early editions of the Book of Mormon, along with materials and artifacts of the critical text project, are included in the display.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865576118/BYU-professor-Royal-Skousen-concludes-his-discussion-on-changes-to-the-Book-of-Mormon-original-text.html?pg=1



BYU professor discusses Book of Mormon translation

(by Sarah Petersen deseretnews.com 3-7-13)

After 25 years of research, Royal Skousen, a professor of linguistics at Brigham Young University, has compiled in-depth information about the original and printer's manuscript text of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith restored the LDS Church in the early 1800s, and one of his endeavors was to translate the Book of Mormon from engraved metal plates. The Book of Mormon is considered companion scripture to the Bible.

Skousen pointed out the difficulties in the project because the original text can never be restored, having simply been the words spoken by Joseph himself. Skousen also believes the original text should be considered as English because that is what was given to the Prophet.

"It was a text, I believe, in English letters — English words — given to him through the instrument," Skousen said during the Feb. 26 lecture, which was the first of three in a series about the Book of Mormon at Brigham Young University.

The analysis of the text is "an evaluation on how (Joseph Smith) translated it and what kind of text was revealed to him," said Richard Turley, the assistant historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Through his evaluations, Skousen has pieced together the earliest and most accurate form of the text. According to Turley, Skousen's work is "the finest understanding that we have all had about the Book of Mormon."

Skousen explained the ways Joseph first viewed the original text, as there were two specific instruments used.

"One was originally called the interpreters or the Nephite interpreters, and later on Joseph Smith referred to these two clear stones — they were like glass lenses, I suppose — as the Urim and Thummim. This is the instrument that came with the plates," Skousen said.
Skousen described the other instrument used as the seer stone.

"In some way, he was able to view the text ... ," Skousen said. "It's my belief that this original English language text that we're trying to recover is what he saw. Now you can all see there's problems — he didn't videotape it."

Although the text Joseph saw cannot be restored, Skousen said people can still learn from the scribe's original manuscript and the printer's copy of the text.

According to Skousen, during the translation process Joseph was able to view about 20-30 words at a time. Such information was determined by errors the scribes made. Skousen also determined accidental errors and editorial changes by identifying specific marks on the text.

"At each of these stages, from Joseph Smith reading it off all the way, to setting the type, there is potential for error," Skousen said.

In Skousen's book, "How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Text," he addresses certain inconsistencies.

"In numerous cases we find that the original Book of Mormon text is consistent in its phraseology, but subsequent copying errors or changes due to editing have created exceptional phrases uncharacteristic of the text," he wrote.

Such examples include the spelling of Zenoch, the prophet of Israel.

"Frequently the first occurrence of a Book of Mormon name is first spelled phonetically, then that spelling is corrected; in some instances, the incorrect spelling is crossed out and followed on the same line by the correct spelling, thus indicating that the correction was an immediate one," Skousen wrote in his book.

Alma 33:15 is used as an example for this finding. According to Skousen, the original manuscript says "for it is not written that Zenos alone spake of these things but Zenoch also spake of these things."

"Oliver Cowdery first wrote Zenock using the expected ck English spelling for the k sound," Skousen wrote in his book. "But then Oliver crossed out the whole word and immediately afterwards, on the same line, wrote Zenoch."

Although the name was changed to the correct Jewish form of spelling on the original manuscript, it did not stay that way for long. According to Skousen, when the text was copied for the printer's edition, Oliver Cowdery went back to spelling Zenoch with a ck. This is why it is currently spelled with an English spelling.

In the second lecture on March 5, Skousen discussed specifically each printed edition of the Book of Mormon and the changes that were made to each copy. He pointed out that during the printing of the 1830 edition, the typesetter, John Gilbert, would correct errors as the printing was taking place. Thus, Skousen concluded that Gilbert truly was trying his best to produce a quality product, rather than sabotaging the edition as people have since accused him of.

"The point of this," Skousen said during the March 5 lecture, "is that these guys were accused in our church history because they had typos, that they were trying to cheat Joseph Smith. No, they were trying to do their best."

More information is available in Skousen's text online at maxwellinstitute.byu.edu or by attending the remaining lecture on the original and printer's manuscript. The final lecture in this series is 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, at the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center at Brigham Young University.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865575019/BYU-professor-discusses-Book-of-Mormon-translation.html?pg=1

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nauvoo House




(by Kenneth Mays deseretnews.com 3-13-13)

In a January 1841 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, there is a divine mandate to build a boarding house to be "a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveler" (See Doctrine and Covenants 124:60).

This facility was to be called "Nauvoo House," located on the south end of Main Street on the bank of the Mississippi River across the street from the Joseph Smith Homestead.

As a place of boarding, the Nauvoo House was never finished. The foundations were only up to about ground level when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed at Carthage. After Brigham Young began leading the church as President of the Twelve, the decision was made to focus on the completion of the Nauvoo Temple. As a result, work on the Nauvoo House was halted.

This structure, built by the Prophet's widow, Emma, and her second husband, Lewis Bidamon, was known as the Riverside Mansion but, today, many still refer to it as the Nauvoo House. The house is owned and maintained by the Community of Christ.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765624441/Picturing-history-Nauvoo-House.html