Friday, October 24, 2008

Windows to the Soul

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I guess I shouldn't be put out that ARDIS TOTALLY STOLE MY IDEA. I've been planning to do a female edition of my guessing game, so here it is, and I hope my readers aren't too bored with it. Come on, everyone, see if you can guess who these famous female eyes belong to!

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Friday, October 17, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Guess Who?
Can you guess all 20 of these famous peepers? (Without cheating!) Put your answers in the comments, and remember, if you post under "anonymous," include your name or your pseudonym in the comment.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Walking to Missouri

Rare view of the original 63.27 acres of the Temple site in Independence, Jackson Co, Missouri.
Photo by George Edward Anderson, 1907

Elias S. Woodruff, in an October 1938 Conference address, stated:
I sometimes wish that every member of the Church could have the privilege of going to Liberty, and Richmond, Far West, Adam-ondi-Ahman, and Haun's Mill, on their way east or west, as they come through the Central States Mission, for the impression that it gives them, for the increase in their faith and their reverence for the work that has been performed in this Church by its founders and leaders. One cannot stand upon the hill overlooking the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman without being very deeply impressed with the sacredness of the place. (Conference Report, October 1938, p. 73.)

During the two years that my family lived in Missouri, we were able to visit many of the Church sites, and I, too, was deeply impressed. It has been interesting to hear in General Conference of the plans to build a temple in the "Greater Kansas City" area.

But will the members of the Church be asked to return to Zion in Jackson county? Is packing up your things and walking to Missouri something the future holds for you and your family? My guest post over at the Juvenile Instructor addresses these questions. Come and visit me there!

A Yellow Dog Wags His Tail in Jackson County

originally posted at Juvenile Instructor

Doctrine and Covenants 84:3-4 instructs the Latter-day Saints concerning the city of Zion, which was to be their "New Jerusalem:"

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

When the Mormons were expelled from Jackson County at the end of 1833, they were quite understandably worried about what to do with their property. As they relocated in what would become Nauvoo, Illinois, they were instructed to put their energy and resources into building this new home. In March 1839 Joseph Smith "counseled to sell all the land in Jackson county, and all other lands in the state whatsoever." [1] Within the next two years, a revelation was given absolving the Saints of their responsibilities by the word of the Lord: ". . . I have accepted the offering of those men who I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name in Jackson county, Missouri..." They were told that if enemies hindered them from their work, God would "require that work no more." [2]

It seems fascinating to me that in spite of the rescinding of the requirement to build Zion in Jackson County, leaders of the Church remained dedicated to the idea that the New Jerusalem would be raised in Missouri. Soon after the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, speaking as president of the council of Twelve Apostles, stated in a conference on April 6, 1845:
"And when we get into Jackson county to walk in the courts of that house, we can say we built this temple: for as the Lord lives we will build up Jackson county in this generation." [3]

This sentiment was perpetuated after the Mormons were established in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1871 Orson Pratt referred to D&C 84 and publicly insisted,
"Here then we see a prediction, and we believe it. Yes! The Latter-day Saints have as firm faith and rely upon this promise as much as they rely upon the promise of forgiveness of sins when they comply with the first principles of the Gospel. We just as much expect that a city will be built, called Zion, in the place and on the land which has been appointed by the Lord our God, and that a temple will be reared on the spot that has been selected, and the corner-stone of which has been laid, in the generation when this revelation was given; we just as much expect this as we expect the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening; or as much as we expect to see the fulfillment of any of the purposes of the Lord our God, pertaining to the works of his hands. But say the objector, 'thirty nine years have passed away.' What of that? The generation has not passed away; all the people that were living thirty-nine years ago have not passed away; but before they do pass away this will be fulfilled." [4]

Pratt exhibited full confidence that the D&C's prophecy concerning the Missouri temple being reared "in this generation" would come to pass. But even more, he considered the establishment of Zion in Jackson County as essential to the LDS faith as the forgiveness of sins!

Even after the generation who was alive at the time of Joseph's prophecy began to pass on, the hope was kept alive within the membership of the Church that one day a temple would be raised in Jackson County. Tidbits of information concerning the events of the last days often included references to Missouri. In October Conference of 1930, J. Golden Kimball remarked: "[t]he western boundaries of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that as President [Brigham] Young tells us, 'when we return to that place there will not be as much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.'" [5]

I find little evidence that any of the Mormons were willing to escape their responsibility to build up Zion in Jackson county by applying the revelation given in 1841 that the Lord no longer required it. Instead, in October 1967 we see an interesting occurrence. President David O. McKay announced plans to build a Visitors Center across the street from the Temple Lot in Independence, on part of the original parcel of ground set apart for this purpose. Alvin R. Dyer, though not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was made an Apostle on October 5, 1967, with the blessing pronounced on him that he was to be a watchman over the consecrated lands in Missouri. [6] While serving in this capacity, Dyer wrote a book about the destiny of the Church in Zion, which he titled The refiner's fire: The significance of events transpiring in Missouri. Dyer often spoke and wrote about his goal of reviving Independence and the general Jackson county area in the consciousness of the Church.

While still an Apostle, Spencer W. Kimball became interested in the gathering of American Indians ("Lamanites") into the Church. As his inspiration, he took D&C 52:2 where instructions are given to convene the next conference in Missouri where missionaries to the Indians had gone. In this verse, the Lord consecrates the land to his people, the "remnant of Jacob." Elder Kimball gave his opinion of why the temple in Independence had not been built in a timely manner:
I've known people who have been promised in their patriarchal blessings that they would live to see the temple built and some of them are dying and haven't seen the temple built. Do you know why? In my estimation, the Lord's time table is directed a good deal by us. We speed up the clock or we slow the hands down and we turn them back by our activities or our procrastinations. And do you know why I think people who are actually promised that they would live to see the temple built are dying before the completion of the temple? Because we haven't converted the Indians in large enough numbers; never shall we go to Jackson County until we have converted and brought into this church great numbers of Lamanites. Now you just as well set that down as a basic fact. [7]

After the Church began to acquire land in the vicinity of Jackson county and following the organization of multiple stakes in Missouri, additional folklore began to develop concerning the return to Zion. In the late 1970's the Church made an effort to counter the myths that were circulating. Graham W. Doxey, former president of the Missouri Independence Mission, warned Church members:
Myth #1: We’re going to walk to Missouri to prepare for the Second Coming. Scripture makes it clear that Missouri has a prophetic role to play in the Second Coming and it seems logical that some people will need to go there to assist in portions of that work. But the scriptures contain no references that spell out in detail how that assistance will be given.

One of the quotations I hear frequently repeated is part of a sermon by Joseph F. Smith in 1882: “When God leads the people back to Jackson County, how will he do it? Let me picture to you how some of us may be gathered and led to Jackson County. I think I see two or three hundred thousand people wending their way across the great plain enduring the nameless hardships of the journey, herding and guarding their cattle by day and by night. … This is one way to look at it. It is certainly a practical view. Some might ask, what will become of the railroads? I fear that the sifting process would be insufficient were we to travel by railroads.” (Journal of Discourses, 24:156–57.)

This is a vivid mental picture, but people frequently remember the picture and forget he said “some of us” and “may be gathered.” We should also keep in mind that he said this is “one way to look at it,” remembering also the perspective of 1882. From our perspective in 1979, it seems even less likely that we would sell our automobiles and herd cattle along our freeway systems. But we simply have no scriptural information about who—if any general Church members—will be called to go back and the means that they might use. The prophets of our day have not found it timely or necessary to speak on the matter. [8]

Despite these cautions, thousands of members of the Church still have in their minds the romantic picture of walking to Jackson County in the latter days. With the announcement in the October 2008 General Conference of a temple to be built in "the greater Kansas City area," imaginations have again been fired. Where will the Temple be located? Are the last days upon us? Is this the beginning of an effort to bolster the Church's presence in an area of religious significance for the Mormons?



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[1] History of the Church 3:274-75.
[2] H. Michael Marquardt, The Independence Temple of Zion. This revelation came from the manuscript volume "Book of the Law of the Lord, and was read by John C. Bennett at the April 1841 General Conference.
[3] Times and Seasons 6 (1 July 1845):956.
[4] Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 275.
[5] J. Golden Kimball, Conference Report, October 1930, p.59.
[6] H. Michael Marquardt, The Independence Temple of Zion. Dyer was later set apart as a third counselor in the First Presidency (1968). This was one of the very few times when a man who was not a member of the Council of the Twelve served as an Apostle.
[7] Ibid. From a copy of the December 1963 talk obtained from President Kimball's secretary as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed., 1981), 427-28. Kimball speaking to the Lamanites [Indians] said: "You must flourish, and you must become a great people so that you can go back to Jackson County with us and we with you, and we will build there the magnificent temple which Orson Pratt said will be the most beautiful building that ever was built or that ever will be built. . . . They must be leaders in their communities, because not too far away there is going to be a great migration to Jackson County, Missouri, and there we are going to build the great temple" (426-27).
[8] Graham W. Doxey, “Missouri Myths,” Ensign, Apr 1979, 64

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Time to Pencil "White Sugar" into the Margin of Section 89

Latter-day Saints are exceptionally good at following our health code which we call "the Word of Wisdom." Hundreds of thousands of members have found a way to live without tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and coffee and tea. But does our adherance to this code make us less vigilant in identifying other substances which are also unhealthy and should be eliminated from our diet? Besides the avoidance of the above-mentioned substances, American Mormons follow a diet which is quite similar to that of the rest of the country. It is high in unhealthy fat and refined sugars and flours. The world is beginning to realize that this diet is slowly poisoning us.

by permission of www.NaturalNews.com


I have recently discovered some additional information that has made me seriously consider adding white sugar, and products which contain sugar and corn syrup to the list of substances of which I never partake. Mike Adams at Natural News reports:
Farmers across the country will soon be planting Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR®) sugar beet, genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto's herbicide glyphosate (marketed as Roundup). John Schorr, agriculture manager for Amalgamated Sugar, estimates that 95 percent of the sugar beet crop in Idaho will be of the new GM variety in 2008, or a total of 150,000 out of 167,000 acres.

The RR® sugar beets are designed to be the only living plants (if that’s life) that survive spraying of Roundup. Genetically modified (GM) sugar beets will have a significant effect upon human health, agriculture and the environment. These crops encourage increased chemical use, with glyphosate, which is a toxic poison, leaving dangerous residue on the plants. Since sugar is extracted from the beet's root, it poses a great health risk to consumers. Additionally, the GM sugar beets allow for application of strong doses of Monsanto's Roundup up to five times a year, contaminating soil and water, and killing earthworms and microorganisms. Overuse of the product Roundup has encouraged the development of resistant "superweeds." In the corn belt, farmers have already been forced to rely on even more toxic herbicides to control those weeds. Finally, pollen from genetically modified crops is almost sure to contaminate similar species. Agriculturalists consider this contamination a major risk to organic crops grown in the United States.


GM sugar beets will save farmers a whopping $80 per acre, and the hassles of hiring questionable laborers to hand weed their fields. But unfortunately they do not realize that initial increases in production will inevitably begin to shift as the soil is depleted. Farmers will find themselves paying more and more to try to offset the hidden costs of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides rather than composts and other traditional ecological farming practices.

What can we do about this situation? Nothing. Consumer groups have been unsuccessful in regulating this crop. A few companies which had agreed to boycott the use of GM sugar have now quietly withdrawn their opposition. In the United States, food containing this sugar will not be labeled as a genetically modified product. The biotechnology-enhanced sugarbeet has also been approved for human and animal consumption in the European Union, allowing unrestricted imports.

Genetically modified sugar will enter the food supply in early 2009. By then, I hope to have successfully added this substance to the list of Word-of-Wisdom-banned foods that my family no longer consumes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

White Shirts: The Best Look in the World

Jamie Lee Curtis has said that there is nothing sexier than a man in a white shirt, and I am going to have to agree with her statement. MoJo says it's one of the top ten fashion essentials for men (make sure it's crisp, white cotton). A fitted, white shirt was the look of the month on the men's fashion blog iluwfashion in May (check the link to read about the holy aura it has, and for tips to keep your shirt whiter than cocaine). Yes, there's a reason James Bond wears a white shirt.



On a spiritual note, my mission president in the MTC said that seeing all the missionaries dressed in white shirts reminded him symbolically of the white stones the Jaredites kept in their barges, giving light to steer by. In 1996 Elder Holland called the white shirt worn while passing the sacrament "ceremonial clothing." And in our recent General Conference Elder Oaks used white shirts to connect the ordinances of baptism, the sacrament, and temple covenants. So really, what man wouldn't want to avail himself of the privilege of wearing a white shirt on Sundays?

Who wouldn't want to arrive at Church looking like Orlando Bloom at Loews Lincoln Square NYC?



And you can always ditch the tie after passing the sacrament for the Johnny Depp look:



But if the above tips aren't individual enough for you, take some hints from SNL on making the white shirt the "best look in the world!"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blog of the Month





Some of my readers might be surprised at the blog I am showcasing as the Blog of the Month for September. It certainly comes from a much more conservative viewpoint than what I am likely to espouse. But I have been fascinated by this blog and I think you will be, too. It's called:





LDS Women of God




The LDS Women of God blog is written by Jan Tolman out of Utah. She has felt a calling to bind the Relief Society sisters together through blogging. "I have decided to see what I can do to unite our sisterhood. It may work, it may not," she declares. And there are places where this blog works. One of Jan's posts asks the question, Is Your Relief Society A Safe Place? It's just a short, simple exhortation to strengthen the sisters in their weakness, with a couple of touching illustrations of women modeling this behavior.

A great strength in this blog is Jan's use of historical vignettes to unite her readers with the LDS women in our faith tradition. A biographical sketch of Sarah Granger Kimball speaks of her testimony and service. We are given a glimpse of home industry in Utah in the article Mormon Handicraft, and the Exponent magazine is quoted regarding modesty in 1873. Jan has a knack for relating these historical moments with our challenges today.

I appreciated the mini-Hebrew lessons, of which there were three during the month of September (1, 2, 3), giving insights on male and female forms of the number one, and Adam and Eve. (Peek back to August for a look at the destiny of man and women as symbolically depicted in Hebrew!)

I encourage my readers to visit LDS Women of God to read more about Enrichment ideas, family history, journaling, organization, missionary work, food storage, finances, and sisterhood, all from a woman's perspective. My one caution is that Jan's political views might not fit with her desire to unite women, but surely they reflect the mainstream position much better than I do here on Hieing to Kolob.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fearlessly Facing the Latter Days

One of my favorite topics at the Exponent II feminist retreat was introduced by Victoria Grover of Maine. Victoria's workshop was intended to provide "the keys to surviving and thriving in the unknowable future." In this session, fifty women were entranced by Victoria's portrayal of the economic realities of the day. She explained pointedly the conditions of the U.S. economy since World War II and the exponential growth of debt.

The Bretton Woods agreement of was an attempt to stabilize money. After the Great Depression, developed countries met together to plan a post-war economic order. The United States wanted to make the dollar the standard in a world economy. In exchange for this, we agreed that foreign countries could exchange their dollars at a fixed rate for gold. This worked for a number of years. In 1971 in response to the Vietnam War and accelerated inflation, Nixon abolished the gold standard. Thus the dollar became unrestricted. U.S. debt has gone up dramatically since then, until we now have a deficit of over 9 trillion dollars. (Please follow this link to better understand just how much a trillion dollars is!) Victoria convinced us all that every civilization that has faced this type of situation has responded by inflating currency (devaluing the dollar). Societies can go through depression, she warned, but do not survive hyperinflation.

In addition to these problems, Victoria addressed the issue of finite resources. Peak oil is the rate at which oil producers can extract oil at the maximum level possible. U.S. oil production reached a peak in 1970. Some people believe that world oil production peaked in 2005. From now on, there will be less oil available for an increasing population. Victoria briefly covered each of the remaining options (Ethanol, Coal, Hydrogen, Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Animal energy, Firewood, and others) and why each of these will soon be exhausted or are not feasible at the present time.

This may all seem like doom and gloom to you. But Victoria actually presented this very matter-of-factly and with the idea that the decline of the U.S. was a foregone conclusion. After all, from 1900 to 1970, we had all the oil, and that was why we had all the power. Now our position is not so secure. It actually made me feel better to just accept that we are in for a depression. Now we can decide how to handle things spiritually and physically.

Victoria's conclusion is that the seeds of our present decline began in the early 1800's. This is when population began to grow exponentially, when we began to rely on industrialization, and when humans began to be the only species on earth who are a detriment to the planet. She sees the Restoration as the Lord's answer to how to navigate the problems that await us. The disasters will come slowly, a bit at a time, and we have time to learn how to conserve, to grow things, to form networks, to learn how to produce commodities.

As an illustration of her suggestions for us, she told of her family and a group of her neighbors who got together to buy an oil press from Europe. It fits in someone's barn, and the group plans to grow canola and rapeseed and make oils out of the plants. Right now these oils are mostly imported. By starting this business they will have a commodity to trade when the economy fails and a necessary food product made locally.

I appreciate Victoria's concise and valuable history lesson and her leadership in showing us how to be wise stewards and to navigate the Anthropocene epoch.