Every Knee Shall Bow, And Tongue Confess: Foreshadowing The Resurrection Ordinance

This is a guest post by Nick Galieti, a podcaster for LDS Perspectives and Book of Mormon Central. Nick Galieti was recipient of the 2015 John Taylor: Defender of the Faith Award by FairMormon, is author of the books Tree of Sacrament, and The Exaltation Equation, and has directed and produced the documentaries Picturing Joseph, and Murder of the Mormon Prophet.

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The Old Testament, New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants record some derivative of the phrase, “every knee shall bow, and tongue confess” with respect to the divinity of Jesus Christ and his Atonement. In Isaiah 45:21-25 it is written (italics added):

21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

 24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.

25 In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

In context, this passage is an assertion not only of the divinity of the Savior and the singular path that leads to the justification of humankind to the father, but implies a sense of allegiance to Him. Continue reading

Death of a Giant – Farewell Eni Hunkin Faleamavaega

Eni Hunkin Faleomavaega, being sworn in for the 2011-2012 term of Congress. Detail from an AP file photo.My seminary teacher died Wednesday. I knew him as Eni Hunkin, But Congress knew him as Eni H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa, 1989-2014). Eni Faleomavaega was American Samoa’s longest-serving non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving 13 consecutive terms.

Eni Hunkin was always a jolly presence, in his lavalava and bolo. During the decades he lived in our congregation, Eni and his wife, Hina, were part of what made Annandale a wonderful place to be a Mormon.

I remember the fabulous luau we held one year, with a large pig roasted in a pit in the woods behind the Church. While Eni and Hina seemed to stay eternally young, their children grew from small tikes into tall and gorgeous adults.

A number of years ago we were saddened to learn that Eni and Hina would be moving from their townhome off of Backlick Road in Annandale to Provo, where they could be nearer to their children.

One of the things I think Eni brought to Annandale was an appreciation that not every Mormon is a Republican. It would be impossible to get too stridently “the right is right” with Eni’s twinkling Democratic smile looking at you from the back pew.

Eni was my seminary teacher during the year when we studied the Book of Mormon. I recall his telling us that the founding story of the polynesian people correlates with the story of Hagoth, “an exceedingly curious man” who built a large ship “and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.” 1. The Book of Mormon speaks of the other ships that followed, and “they were never heard of more.” I treasured Eni’s youthful certainty that his people were descendants of Hagoth’s sea-faring adventurers.

Farewell, Brother Hunkin. May we meet again in the land beyond, where we are no more strangers and foreigners but brothers and sisters with an eternity to spend together.

Notes:

  1. Alma 63:5

Resisting Satan’s Deception: Finding a Balance Between Indifference and Over-zealousness

Two weeks ago Elder Quentin L. Cook delivered a devotional address at BYU entitled “A Banquet of Consequences—The Cumulative Result of All Choices.”The text is unfortunately not yet available, but Elder Cook posted a summary on his Facebook page. He looked at three examples of how Satan attempts to persuade us that good is evil and evil is good.  He spoke of the word of wisdom, the family and parenthood, and of financial matters. He recently shared on Facebook what is in my mind the most memorable portion of the talk. Elder Cook spoke of an experience he had at the Holocaust Museum (in Jerusalem) with Elder Holland:

“I had a sobering experience in Jerusalem last October. We visited the Children’s Memorial Museum, which is part of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Elder Holland and I, together with two American Jewish leaders, laid a remembrance wreath. As you move through the Children’s Memorial, the first names of the children and their age at death are announced one after another with a background of music that portrays this terrible atrocity. It is believed that over one million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust.

As I experienced the museum, I was overcome with emotion and completely devastated. Standing outside to regain my composure, I reflected on the horror of the experience and suddenly realized that in the United States alone there are as many abortions every two years as the number of Jewish children killed in the Holocaust during the Second World War.

Now, as a lawyer, I am cognizant that the motives and intent are entirely different. Further, this is a problem that will probably not be solved by personal condemnation or judgmental accusations. With respect to the number and spacing of children, the health of the mother must be considered, and the decision should be made prayerfully by husbands and wives. Such decisions should never be judged by outsiders. Some faithful individuals are not able to have children or have the opportunity to marry. They will receive every blessing in heaven.

Nevertheless, Lucifer has supported abortion and convinced many people in a horrific paradigm shift that children represent lost opportunity and misery, instead of joy and happiness. Bringing children into the world is a sacred part of our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness.

We are so numbed and intimidated by the immensity of the practice of abortion that many of us have pushed it to the back of our minds and try to keep it out of our consciousness. Clearly the adversary is attacking the value of children on many levels. We must be at the forefront of changing hearts and minds on the importance of children.”

Elder Cook’s remarks on abortion are pointed and sobering. I am not going to add much to his remarks on the substance of the abortion debate. I want to take a step back and talk about what we can learn about Satan’s tactics from this example and I hope that this discussion will be thought provoking regardless of your feelings about Elder Cook’s particular example.

Satan triumphs when good is called evil and evil good. He loves to redefine eternal truth.  And he tricks many into believing that doing evil is justified in furtherance of some other social good. However, even those who are not persuaded to redefine morality may still fall under Satan’s sway in a more subtle and pernicious fashion.

When we see widespread acceptance of an immoral belief or practice, we can become “numbed and intimidated” so that we push[] it to the back of our minds and try to keep it out of our consciousness.” Satan wins when people who understand eternal moral truths are silent or become indifferent. When we begin to assume that evil is inevitable and not worth combating, Satan triumphs. Silence in the face of wickedness is not a virtue. Complacency in the face of vice is deeply tragic. We must valiantly fight against evil and never become complacent.

Yet I was also grateful that Elder Cook spent a considerable amount of time emphasizing that the solution to the problem of abortion is  NOT “personal condemnation or judgmental accusations” – a theme elaborated upon in the full talk. Such methods are deeply counter-productive.  I believe that Satan is as pleased with vitriolic overreaction as he is with indifference. It seems to me that people of deep faith and moral convictions are most susceptible to these overreactions because of how passionately we can feel about certain moral topics. We must never forget that our goal is “changing hearts and minds.” Anything that undercuts that purpose furthers Satan’s plan.

Another takeaway for me is that methods matter. Satan proposed a plan in the divine council to solve the problem of sin and human frailty. But because his plan was based on coercion and compulsion it was rightfully rejected. Method matters just as much as the substantive outcome.  Speaking with friends of my generation, I am deeply concerned that many do not stop to think about method before proposing solutions to problems. Often, but not always, this means support for the biggest and most coercive government solution. Our zeal for change must be tempered with a realistic assessment of human nature, divine law, and the consideration of other virtues such as liberty and freedom.

Satan is a master manipulator. He is behind the current state of affairs where vast numbers of people in the great and spacious building call evil good and good evil and mock those who seek the tree of life.  But he is also pleased with those who are indifferent towards the pursuit of the tree. And, although this is not depicted in Lehi’s dream, he would also be satisfied with someone who has reached the tree but spends all his time railing against the wickedness of the building rather than partaking of the fruit. We must seek the proper balance between being zealous for righteous causes and tempering our approach with charity, the divine love of Christ.

Mental Health Myths

Religious LDS culture has historically struggled to find a place for matters of mental health and depression as it dovetails with our mortal experience and our theology.

As a result, many members may be unsure of how we as a people stand with respect to issues of depression, anxiety, and other common mental health issues.

Elder Alexander B. Morrison writes: “I assure you that Latter-day Saints are in no way exempt from the burden of mental illness, either as victim, caregiver, family member, or friend. In every ward and stake, there are severely depressed men and women; elderly people with failing memories and reduced intellectual capacities; youth or adults struggling to escape the dark specter of suicide; persons of all ages, both sexes, and every walk of life, who exhibit aberrant, even bizarre behavior.”

Using Elder Morrison’s book “Valley of Sorrows” as a backdrop resource, Brian Murdock, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and LDS Perspectives host Nick Galieti begin their discussion by debunking common myths about mental health issues.

Murdock then addresses the topic of clinical depression: what depression is, and what it isn’t. He offers some insights to consider for people who are currently suffering from depression, as well as to those who are interacting with those experiencing clinical depression. This episode also offers some practical advice for bishops, or other members of the church who want to help those with depression.

This episode is a great introduction and survey of the subject of one of the most common mental health issues we find in our society.

Access mental health resources mentioned in this episode at LDS Perspectives Podcast.

Revisiting the Journal of Discourses

In LDS Perspectives Podcast’s first doubleheader, they present an episode covering the discrepancies between the shorthand versions of speeches of early LDS Church leaders in Utah and their published versions. First, Russell Stevenson interviews Gerrit Dirkmaat about the research he and LaJean Carruth did comparing the shorthand notes of George Watt to some of the speeches in the Journal of Discourses.

Dirkmaat-Gerrit-1

The authors examined hundreds of sermons and sometimes they varied by hundreds of words. Dirkmaat points out that when one is talking about doctrine, words matter. While the essence of these speeches are similar in the shorthand and published versions, the words used vary greatly.

The Journal of Discourses have historical and religious value, but Dirkmaat urges members to be careful quoting specific passages and to realize that in most cases, there is know way to know the specific words used.

LaJean Purcell Carruth has an unusual skill: she can read the shorthand of George Watt, the transcriber of the speeches contained in the Journal of Discourses, his private printing venture. Over the past thirty years, she has learned his distinctive style — the unique upturns and curves he made in his notations. As she transcribed his notes, she noticed that they varied — sometimes greatly — from the printed versions of the same speeches. She wrote a poem about what she noticed:

There was a man named George Watt,

Who could improve Brigham Young, so he thought.

So he took out words here,

And he added words there,

And his accuracy was not what it ought.

LaJean Purcell Carruth©

LaJean expounds on what she has learned about the speaking styles of early religious leaders. They spoke extemporaneously and without notes and were more prone to engage in speculative theology than current leaders.

She emphasizes that Brigham Young was a powerful speaker. He cared about the people, and they knew that he cared about them. When George Watt changed Brigham Young’s words, he changed what Brigham Young said about himself. She feels the real Brigham Young has been lost to us as we view him through his discourses printed in the Journal of Discourses.

In her research, she discovered that the “one drop” phrase attributed to Brigham Young by Wilford Woodruff did not exist in the original shorthand transcription of George Watt and other statements relating to the priesthood and temple ban varied as well.

LaJean shares with Laura Harris Hales what she has learned about Brigham Young from the words left out of the Journal of Discourses and other important speeches.

Be sure and check out the resources mentioned in this podcast at LDS Perspectives Podcast.