The following is a photo of a linen and wool screen curtain (velum) that comes from a monastery at Antinoë (Antinopolis), Egypt, and dates from the 5th-6th century. It is likely an artifact of the early Coptic Christians. It depicts a praying couple beneath an apse in a church or temple, with a Coptic inscription written in Greek script underneath. The apse of a church building is near the east end, where the altar is located. There are columns on the left and right, perhaps symbolizing Boaz and Jachin, pillars that flanked the entrance in the porch of Solomon’s Temple, and have come to symbolize the temple ever since. The figures are dressed in liturgical clothing, including what appears to be a mitre, a veil, and robes, and in the traditional early Christian attitude of prayer with uplifted hands. Size: 1.05 x 0.86 m. It is located at the Benaki Museum, Athens. (Thanks Chad!)
William Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson have a regular religion column in the Deseret News. Their latest article is entitled “Pilgrimage: A sacred journey in search of God.” They point out that many religions have their own types of pilgrimages towards a holy place, shrine, or temple, where the pilgrim seeks to connect with God. Truly, the Temple Mount, or current location of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is such a location for several major religions.
Latter-day Saints also have pilgrimages to temples. Many members of the Church throughout the world still have to travel great distances, over a number of days, at the cost of lifetime savings, to reach the closest temple to their home. In recent years, this has improved as temples have been built in more locations, closer to more members.
The temple itself can also be considered a pilgrimage within itself, a journey from a lower sphere to a higher one, even heaven, where one comes to God.
The article notes the ritual aspect of many religions’ pilgrimages:
Most pilgrimage is associated with special rituals and ceremonies. Pilgrims are often required to don sacred robes and undergo spiritual exercises such as prayer, reading scriptures or meditation. Many pilgrims abstain from ordinary activities of life by fasting, sleepless vigils or sexual abstinence. Sacrifice or offerings are often required of the pilgrim, even if it is only placing of a flower or rock in a special place. In return many pilgrims obtain tokens of their pilgrimages — special clothing, jewelry, books, medallions or relics — which they proudly wear or display as symbolic of their spiritual status as pilgrims.
Read the full article at the Deseret News:
I again return to a former post I wrote in 2008 about an obscure book I stumbled across entitled The Light of Truth as Revealed in the Holy Scriptures, published in 1916 by one Levi Rightmyer, a hefty book at 967 pages, and freely downloadable from Google. I have still been unable to find any more information more about this author Levi Rightmyer, unfortunately, and would be interested to know more about his background if anyone is aware. Although not LDS (although he does mention the Mormons once in the book), he came very close to approximating many of the more esoteric LDS beliefs regarding Melchizedek, the priesthood, the temple, the judgement, theosis or deification, and the afterlife. It seems that Levi had an experience similar to Joseph Smith, which caused him to turn to the scriptures to find the truth, this from the preface:
Familiar with many of the conflicting religious beliefs of these and former days, Mr. Rightmyer was early filled with an earnest determination to search the Scriptures for himself, and if possible to find out the truth contained therein. (Preface)
A little background. I’m a runner. I started running back in June of 2009, and have only stopped occasionally for sickness or injury (got the flu once, probably H1N1, and Achilles tendinitis). Since that time I’ve logged 723 miles in 193 runs, and just recently surpassed 100,000 calories burned. Last year I ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon in 2:06, and am planning on the Shamrock Half Marathon next month, and hopefully the Utah Valley Marathon in June.
(This is a continuation of my thoughts about The Lost Symbol from my previous post.)
One of the themes taken up again and again in Dan Brown’s latest novel The Lost Symbol is the idea of power in group thinking and concentration. Katherine’s character in particular is engaged in the scientific study of producing physical changes through the power of group thought and concentrated collective intention. In connection with this, the practice of prayer circles is brought up:
The shocking discovery, it seemed, paralleled the ancient spiritual belief in a “cosmic consciousness”—a vast coalescing of human intention that was actually capable of interacting with physical matter. Recently, studies in mass meditation and prayer had produced similar results in Random Event Generators, fueling the claim that human consciousness, as Noetic author Lynne McTaggart described it, was a substance outside the confines of the body . . . a highly ordered energy capable of changing the physical world. ((Page 56))
In another place, Brown continues:
Galloway knew, of course, that one needn’t go to a lab to witness proof of this bold new idea, this proposal of man’s untapped potential. This very cathedral held healing prayer circles for the sick, and repeatedly had witnessed truly miraculous results, medically documented physical transformations. The question was not whether God had imbued man with great powers . . . but rather how we liberate those powers. ((Page 313-314))
Katherine smiled down at him. “We have scientifically proven that the power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.”
Langdon remained silent, wondering where she was going with this idea.
“What I’m saying is this . . . two heads are better than one . . . and yet two heads are not twice better, they are many, many times better. Multiple minds working in unison magnify a thought’s effect . . . exponentially. This is the inherent power of prayer groups, healing circles, singing in unison, and worshipping en masse.” ((Page 504))
Prayer circles have been defined as where participants join hands in a circle of prayer, often as part of a vigil ((Wikipedia – Prayer Circle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_circle)). Such circles have existed for a very long time (see my paper “The Genesis of the Round Dance“). They are witnessed today in even the simplest act of joining hands around the dinner table while saying grace. Hugh Nibley wrote extensively about their use in early Christianity in his paper “The Early Christian Prayer Circle.” In that paper he said: [Read more…]