This upcoming Thursday and Friday (April 2-3, 2009) there is a going to be an annual event — the Mormon Studies Conference at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. I just became aware of this a few days ago, and it looks like it’s going to be very good. The theme of the conference is “Mormonism in the Public Mind: Perceptions of an Emerging World Faith.” The keynote address will be given by Michael Paulson, Pulitzer Prize winning religion reporter for the Boston Globe, on the topic “Far From Zion: Meeting Mormonism on the Religion Beat.” Other participants will include [Read more…]
The late Krister Stendahl (1921-2008), who was a Swedish theologian, New Testament scholar, and a Professor and Dean of Divinity at Harvard University, once addressed the press about one of the Mormon temples that was being built nearby, and spoke about three important rules for religious understanding. These rules have since been recognized for their tremendous insight and application in interfaith dialogue and learning. They are:
- When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
- Don’t compare your “best” to their “worst.”
- Leave room for “holy envy.” In other words, recognize those aspects of other religious traditions that you admire and wish could be reflected in your own.
I think there is great truth embedded in these principles, and we have the opportunity to exercise them every day. In fact, we use them often here on TempleStudy.com to compare the similarities and differences of Mormon temples with other religious traditions and sacred worship practices.
Below is a short new video which succinctly explains what Mormon temples mean to the Latter-day Saints, from the Latter-day Saint perspective. Hopefully those that are inquisitive about the Church will be able to learn, from us, what the temple means when investigating and evaluating LDS temple worship.
A more comprehensive video of 44 minutes, of which this is only a snippet, is also available to watch, entitled “Between Heaven and Earth,” which includes commentary and interviews from a number of scholars and theologians, both LDS and from other faiths.
Many of you are no doubt aware of the infamous and libelous Big Love TV episode that is supposed to air on HBO this March 15th. But for those who aren’t, the producers and writers of the show have reached a new level of disrespect in attempting to profane the LDS temple ordinances on public television, and to make a mockery of the Church. According to executive producer Mark Olsen, “We researched it out the wazoo . . . We go into the endowment room and the celestial room . . . and we present what happens in those ceremonies. That’s never been shown on television before.” Then Olsen has the audacity to add, “But it’s not for shock value. It’s really a very important part of the story.”
Of course, those that read these statements will easily find Olsen’s words more than contradictory—it’s never been shown on television before, but it’s not for shock value. Anyone that is excited about showing something on television that’s “never been shown before,” particularly when that thing is held exceptionally sacred by a large group of people, is doing it for shock value. It’s the very same reason that the media continues to push the envelope in how explicit sex, violence, and horror is portrayed. They have to show something new to keep the audience hooked, something that pushes beyond the limits of what has been shown before, regardless of the impact it may have on those whose values and morals are higher than theirs. [Read more…]
Orson Scott Card wrote a great article today on Mormon Times, highlighting the tremendous influence that Hugh Nibley and C.S. Lewis have had on his “Christian education” over the years, but particularly when he was younger.
I couldn’t agree more with his feelings about the impact that these two scholars have had. I’ve particularly been influenced, even fundamentally changed, by the writings of Hugh Nibley, and I’m just beginning to get into Lewis. Like I’ve said in the past, in a way I’ve felt personally mentored by Nibley through reading his work, a sentiment shared by Orson Scott Card: [Read more…]
Round dances, through all ages of time and all locations of the world, display striking similarities in structure and theme. This is strong evidence that they share a common origin. These dances are usually quite religious in nature and I propose that round dances, like other widespread yet similar ritual motifs found scattered across the world, had their beginnings in one of the first sacred rites of this world given to and practiced by our first parents, namely the ancient prayer circle.
The paper on this subject has been split up into the following parts:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Round dances from the Neolithic time period, Native American, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian cultures.
Part 3 – Round dances from the Greek, Hebrew, and Christian cultures.
Part 4 – Round dances from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and present-day traditions. Common pattern throughout all practices.
Part 5 – Round dances show connections with religions, and with ritual creation dramas throughout history, including the early Christian prayer circle.
Part 6 – Round dances show connections with worship since the beginning of time, indicating a common source. These practices are familiar to the Latter-day Saints. Conclusion.