Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Love of God

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a powerful talk on the love of God in the last General Conference. Two paragraphs seemed profoundly poetic to me, so I reformatted them to emphasize the parallelisms and visual themes I saw:

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunken Mayan City Found

After the death of Jesus Christ, great destruction occurred in the new world. Many people and cities were destroyed because of their wickedness. Many were buried under the earth. Others were burned. Some, "like the great city Moroni [were] caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea" (3 Nephi 9:4).

Later, the righteous who remained began to rebuild their cities. However, "there were many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed" (4 Nephi 1:9).

In the past year, archeologists started studying sunken Mayan ruins first found in 1996 at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. They have discovered ceremonial monuments and altars indicating it may have been of religious significance. Unfortunately for the original inhabitants, researchers believe the area, which now lies 50 feet underwater, suffered "a catastrophic event, like a volcanic eruption or landslide." Evidence indicates that residents had to leave in a hurry.

The researchers believe the ruins date to 250 A.D., so it is unlikely this area was one of those destroyed after the death of Jesus Christ. However, it shows that such cataclysmic events were possible and have occurred in the area and is interesting in the context of the destruction that occurred two centuries earlier.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Archaeology and Ether's Hiding Place

In Ether 13, we learn that Ether "hid himself in the cavity of a rock" while witnessing the destruction of the Jaredite people (verses 13, 14, 18, and 22). Interestingly, recent archaeological research has found evidence of this practice among ancient Indians.

"Excavations ... help prove that the natural rock overhangs that dot Ohio's landscape provided shelter for hunters dating back more than 12,000 years." Nigel Brush, a geology professor at Ashland University in Ohio, has lead excavations at 30 rock shelters over the past 27 years. During that time, he discovered that these shelters "were used over and over again the same way for thousands of years."

In fact, some were used as base camps, possibly for months at a time. This fits the experience of Ether who spent a year or more hiding from the people in "the cavity of a rock," perhaps a shelter like those studied by Brush (Ether 13:18).

While this offers no proof of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, it adds circumstantial evidence that the Book of Mormon history is consistent with archaeological findings.

For more info, see "Gimme shelter: Archaeological digs show ancient Indians took refuge beneath rock overhangs," THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, September 20, 2009.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marijuana and Alcohol: The Wrong Message

Two recent studies compared the effects of alcohol and marijuana on individuals and society and found marijuana was more dangerous. Sadly, rather than calling for greater restrictions on alcohol, some are using this as evidence for making marijuana more easily available.

One study published in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience Journal found that alcohol had a stronger effect on teen brain development than marijuana. Another study published in The Lancet showed the results of a poll of psychologists and scientifically or medically trained police who were asked to rank substances according to the level of harm they are believed to cause. Of twenty substances, they listed alcohol as the fifth most harmful and marijuana as the eleventh.

The article in reporting the results of these findings came to the conclusion that those who support "fewer restrictions on marijuana will undoubtedly point to scientific studies that show we already legalize less dangerous substances." I believe this is a sign of the last days fitting the prophecy in Isaiah 5:20 that reads, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness...." Marijuana ("darkness") should not be more acceptable ("light") because it is less harmful than alcohol. Rather, this should be a call for greater regulation of alcohol.

For more information on alcohol, see Alcohol, the National Hypocrisy.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Government Bailouts and Self-Reliance

In this period of economic uncertainty and job loss, the principle of self-reliance is more important than ever. Satan is working hard to bring people into bondage, and one way is through financial reliance on the government.

In a talk given in 1982 entitled "The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance," President Marion G. Romney counsels that "we should strive to become self-reliant and not depend on others for our existence." He explains that the Lord emphasizes this principle because "it is tied very closely to freedom itself." He further explains, "Man cannot be an agent unto himself if he is not self-reliant. Herein we see that independence and self-reliance are critical keys to our spiritual growth." Prophetically, this talk was reprinted in the March 2009 edition of the Ensign along with other articles that discuss this principle including "Becoming Self-Reliant Spiritually and Physically" and "Family Home Storage: A New Message."

President Romney warned of the risks that government dependence brings: "We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and political, temporal, and spiritual independence."

While speaking to the Saints in 1982, President Romney's counsel seems to have been given for the circumstances we find ourselves in today with government bailouts and promises of debt relief by politicians: "Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens."

Jesus Christ promises "liberty and eternal life" whereas Satan seeks "captivity and death ... that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27). One key way to avoid captivity in these trying times is to avoid reliance on the government, the Church, and others. President Romney said, "A dole is a dole whatever its source. All of our Church and family actions should be directed toward making our children and members self-reliant. We can’t always control government programs, but we can control our own homes and congregations. If we will teach these principles and live them, we can do much to counter the negative effects which may exist in government programs in any country."

Today in Stake Conference, our Area Seventy, Elder Gary Crittenden, spoke on this principle. He said that we should not look to government to solve our personal problems. "It's not reliance on this government" or the things of the world or what we accumulate that will bring eternal life. Rather, it's reliance on God, following the prophets, and keeping our covenants.

Be wary of government aid and easy fixes to the financial problems that we find ourselves in. They always carry hidden strings that run the risk of binding us.