I hear this a lot from members of the Church. In fact just two days ago, I had someone ask me this very question after reading some of the quotes from Nibley in Approaching Zion:
“So then are we required to live the law of concecration now?“
To that question I would pose a counter question, that might help us arrive at an appropriate answer. When God reveals a law to man, is it required of man to live it if he wishes to return to live with God? When viewed from this perspective, I think the answer can be none other than an unequivocal “Yes!” [Read more…]
A couple months ago I received an email from someone who stumbled onto TempleStudy.com. It read in part,
[The Bible] is purely a creation of man to placate the ego’s fear of death and nothing more. All religion was invented to buffer the ego against the fear of death.
That’s certainly one way to think of death. Another way to think of it is that religion gives meaning to life and death. Hugh Nibley often quoted a poem by A.E. Housman about man’s preoccupation with death:
. . . men at whiles are sober
And think by fits and starts,
And if they think, they fasten
Their hands upon their hearts.1
The prominent literary scholar Harold Bloom once said,
What is the essence of religion? … Religion rises inevitably from our apprehension of our own death. To give meaning to meaninglessness is the endless quest of all religion.2
I recently came upon two vastly different modes of thinking about death. The juxtaposition of these two starkly different views is very interesting. [Read more…]
The use of those two words together, resurrection in mortality, appears to be perfectly incongruous at first glance. In our common parlance in the Church we understand resurrection to be something that can only happen after mortality. The resurrection “consists in the uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided”1. This is an event which happens only after there has been a separation of the spirit body from the mortal body through the process called death. In my reading over the weekend, however, I came across a fascinating perspective from Margaret Barker which gives added meaning to the word resurrection, and our understanding of it, a meaning which can apply to us while still in our mortal estate. [Read more…]
Most people in the Church by now are probably familiar with the hymn that Janice Kapp Perry wrote a couple of months ago to accompany a poem written by President Hinckley. President Hinckley published his poem in the May 1988 Ensign article entitled, “The Empty Tomb Bore Testimony,” but he notes that he penned the words many years previous to that at a friend’s funeral.
If you’ve received an email about the hymn you might already know the story behind it. If not, head over to Meridian Magazine which has an article posted detailing the creation of this hymn, including links to the sheet music. The circumstances surrounding the production of the hymn are certainly a “tender mercy” of the Lord, as Janice Kapp Perry describes it. She received official approval of the arranged hymn in the mail from President Hinckley the day after his death.
I think this hymn epitomizes the LDS belief and feelings surrounding mortal death. To members of the LDS Church death is nothing to fear, but a passing into and a beginning of a different stage of our existence. It is progression. Death is not the end, but a beginning of greater things! These doctrines and principles could not be taught more clearly and purely than in the Lord’s temples which dot the earth today. President Hinckley was pivotal in nearly tripling the number of these sacred edifices around the world.
This hymn was sung by the Tabernacle Choir at President Hinckley’s funeral (video link). Since then, Janice Kapp Perry has just recently produced vocal and instrumental recordings of the song with Prime Recordings, Inc. These recordings are very well done. She has made them freely available for all, so I have posted the vocal here for your listening:
What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?
Words by Gordon B. Hinckley, Music by Janice Kapp Perry
What is this thing that men call death,
This quiet passing in the night?
’Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.
O God, touch Thou my aching heart,
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
There is no death, but only change
With recompense for victory won;
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.