Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hiding history

The media are reporting a celebration of a new era of LDS Church transparency with the release of The Joseph Smith Papers and, more recently, the printer's copy of The Book of Mormon. I can't disagree that the move to transparency is a good thing in that it's the most honest thing for the Church to do, but in the midst of all the celebrating I feel as though a lot of members are choosing to ignore what's to be celebrated. We're not celebrating new scripture, new revelations or even new propaganda for the missionaries to hand out. We're celebrating an end of the Church's suppression of information in one very specific area - it's early historical documents.

The two most infamous examples of previous attempts on behalf of the Church to keep historical information away from members include the Mark Hofmann forgeries and, earlier still, Joseph Fielding Smith's hiding of Joseph Smith’s 1832 version of the First Vision. Joseph Fielding had first discovered it in the First Presidency vault in Joseph Smith's personal letter book, freaked out about it enough to tear it out and hide the pages in his personal safe until he was pressured to release them in 1965. How messed up is that?

I'll admit I can't imagine what incentive he might have to share the first written version of the First Vision (it doesn't match well with the 1838 version), but his behavior is still alarming to me. Sure, it shows Joseph Fielding's lack of integrity, but it also shows just how fearful he was that the LDS house of cards would fall.

Now the Church is announcing via the Ensign and Liahona that Joseph Smith read magically appearing words on a stone in a hat and that that particular stone had nothing to do with an ancient Moroni, but that instead it has everything to do with a young Joseph Smith pretending he could see lost and buried objects (like gold). It's been 180 years and the general membership is only going to hear about it now (if they actually read the Liahona). Avoidance and denial add up to secrecy and deception in my brain.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Central to the Church

Members of the LDS Church feel a certain pride stating that the temple is central to their worship or that it's the focus of their worship. The idea is that the temple is without a doubt what Mormonism is all about. It's the cream of the crop. The delicious white fruit from Lehi's dream. It's our end goal as mortal beings. 

White, delightsome and ready for baptism or whatever.

The funny thing is that it's nowhere near as central as your meeting house. Have you ever considered how odd it is that you're supposed to go to church every Sunday without fail in order to partake of the sacrament, but how you only have to get to the temple to take out your endowment once? Doesn't that suggest that the baptismal covenants are more greatly emphasized in deed if not in word?

This happens in front of all your LDS neighbors. Who knows 
who you'll recognize in the temple.

Consider the fact that Sunday worship is not at all casual. You have a specific day of the week designated for you by the Lord Jehovah himself and a precise time you must come and worship. Your attendance is recorded. They're literally counting you in sacrament meeting and you sign rolls in your other Sunday meetings. Sunday is not to be taken lightly at all. Don't mow your lawn. Don't confess to watching professional sports. You have to keep Sunday "holy".

 Because 3 hrs of this in one day isn't enough.

Contrast Sunday worship to days of temple worship. You can go whenever it's convenient during the temple's hours of operation (just check the schedule if you want to do an endowment session). You can choose your activity: baptisms and confirmations, washings and anointings, an endowment or sealings. You can go right after work if that's convenient, you can play sports afterward, you can go to the movies or play your favorite violent video game. There are no restrictions on your day whatsoever. The impression I get is that the temple is very much extracurricular for members.

"We're going to the mall for burgers and ice cream after this! Yay!"

You can argue that going to the temple is essential for salvation. That's what the Church tells us, anyway. But if it is, you only have to go one for yourself. That will fill your quota. Not so with baptism. After you're baptized you have to take the sacrament every week and make the same covenant with God over and over.

What do you think? Both are said to be essential but which is more central, baptism and the sacrament or temple worship? Doubters like me can rarely tell.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LDS FAQ - "Masonry and the Temple"

I found a brief Church-sanctioned (I believe) explanation of the LDS temple's relationship to Freemasonry. I'm curious what it says. Text found here.

Students of both Mormonism and Freemasonry have pondered possible relationships between Masonic rites and the LDS temple ceremony. Although some argue that Joseph Smith borrowed elements of Freemasonry in developing the temple ceremony, the Endowment is more congruous with LDS scriptures (especially the book of Abraham and the Book of Moses) and ancient ritual than with Freemasonry. Both the book of Abraham and the Book of Moses are texts Joseph made up out of thin air, so I personally don't see why anyone would feel better knowing that they've influenced the creation of the LDS temple ceremonies. Pointing out that the temple has more more in common with those writings than with Freemasonry still doesn't justify the presence of Masonic oaths and handshakes in the temple. Latter-day Saints view the ordinances as a revealed restoration of ancient temple ceremony and only incidentally related to Freemasonry. There's no good reason to think the LDS temple ceremonies are ancient and I'm looking forward to seeing how you continue to downplay the influence of Freemasonry. The two are not antithetical, however, nor do they threaten each other, and neither institution discourages research regarding the ancient origins of their two ceremonies. The origins of Freemasonry are not ancient at all, they are medieval, late medieval. Many sacred ceremonies existed in the ancient world. Modified over centuries, these rituals existed in some form among ancient Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Israelites, and Masons, and in the Catholic and Protestant liturgies. Is this written for 6th graders? I can't believe you dared list the Masons in this group. And Egyptians? WTF? Which Egyptians are you talking about? Common elements include the wearing of special clothing, ritualistic speech, the dramatization of archetypal themes, instruction, and the use of symbolic gestures. Levi Strauss would be so proud to read this, but aren't these elements too broad to be taken seriously in this particular discussion of Freemasonry in the LDS temple? One theme common to many—found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Egyptian pyramid texts, and Coptic prayer circles, for example—is man's journey through life and his quest, following death, to successfully pass the sentinels guarding the entrance to eternal bliss with the gods. Right, Thor and all his buddies in Valhalla. Though these ceremonies vary greatly, significant common points raise the possibility of a common remote source. Human psychology most likely. Mormon wishful thinking knows no ends.

The Egyptian pyramid texts, for example, feature six main themes: (1) emphasis on a primordial written document behind the rites; (2) purification (including anointing, lustration, and clothing); (3) the Creation (resurrection and awakening texts); (4) the garden (including tree and ritual meal motifs); (5) travel (protection, a ferryman, and Osirian texts); and (6) ascension (including victory, coronation, admission to heavenly company, and Horus texts). Oh my god, that's so... DIFFERENT from the Mormon temple! Wow. Like such ancient ceremonies, the LDS temple Endowment presents aspects of these themes in figurative terms. Only if you're working in the most sympathetic of generalizations. It, too, presents, not a picture of immediate reality, but a model setting forth the pattern of human life on earth and the divine plan of which it is part. We're going to need some actual details here. It sounds like you're seeing what you want to see. It's called confirmation bias.

Masonic ceremonies are also allegorical, depicting life's states—youth, manhood, and old age—each with its associated burdens and challenges, followed by death and hoped-for immortality. The difference between your argument for the temple paralleling an Egyptian Book of Breathings and the Freemason ceremonies is that Joseph actually knew Masons and became one himself. On the other hand, he had no understanding of Egyptian despite having purchased a scroll containing a book of breathings. He feigned a translation that is laughable to today's Egyptologists. There is no universal agreement concerning when Freemasonry began. Maybe not, but no one can seriously claim it pre-dates the late Middle Ages. Some historians trace the order's origin to Solomon, Enoch, or even Adam. Only Mormon historians. Others argue that while some Masonic symbolism may be ancient, as an institution it began in the Middle Ages or later. Only everyone who isn't Mormon thinks this.

Though in this dispensation the LDS Endowment dates from Kirtland and Nauvoo, Latter-day Saints believe that temple ordinances are as old as man and that the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including its necessary ritual and teachings, were first revealed to Adam. Mormons have no basis for believing this other than the fact that Joseph Smith, a notorious conman, taught it to his followers and it has been believed and repeated for generations. These saving principles and ordinances were subsequently revealed to Seth; Noah; Melchizedek; Abraham, and each prophet to whom the priesthood was given, including Peter. There is no historical evidence to convince us most of these men ever existed (Peter is the exception) and much less evidence that they ever practiced the ceremonies of the current LDS temples. Latter-day Saints believe that the ordinances performed in LDS temples today replicate rituals that were part of God's teachings from the beginning. But they have no reason to believe anything similar. Hopefully the author of this article will cite some convincing texts.

The Prophet Joseph Smith suggested that the Endowment and Freemasonry in part emanated from the same ancient spring. Joe Smith? He's not a very trustworthy source. Do you know he tried to trick investors into funding an illegal bank? The man was as phony as a $3 bill. Thus, some Nauvoo Masons thought of the Endowment as a restoration of a ritual only imperfectly preserved in Freemasonry and viewed Joseph Smith as a master of the underlying principles and allegorical symbolism (Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, June 17, 1842, Church Archives). I'm sure those few unnamed Freemasons were totally right... The philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology, and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. Obviously not, but that does not mean they derive from ancient biblical patriarchs or that one group did not co-opt them from the other. Both emphasize morality, sacrifice, consecration, and service, and both condemn selfishness, sin, and greed. So what? You're talking about two groups who's morality is founded in Christian European thought. You're also ignoring the fact that essentially every ethnography you'll read will describe cultures who's beliefs include similar concepts and virtues. That says more about human psychology than it does about the LDS temple being ancient. Furthermore, the aim of Masonic ritual is to instruct-to make truth available so that man can follow it.

Resemblances between the two rituals are limited to a small proportion of actions and words; indeed, some find that the LDS Endowment has more similarities with the Pyramid texts and the Coptic documents than with Freemasonry. At this point, dear reader you should compare and contrast the text shared between the temple endowment and the Mason ceremonies. They are in many cases identical! Even if we are to accept the author's claim that they only make up a "limited" portion of the temple, that DOES NOT justify their presence in temple liturgy. I would love to see where the endowment plagiarizes Coptic liturgy in the way. Even where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different. Because Joseph took the symbols and recast them for his own purposes. In addition to creation and life themes, one similarity is that both call for the participants to make covenants. You keep dancing around the details. I find this approach willfully dishonest. Yet, the Endowment alone ties covenants to eternal blessings and to Jesus Christ. How did you reach this conclusion? Your argument is "OK, we have similarities, but ours is legit, theirs isn't, trust me!"? I'm not impressed. The Masonic ceremony does not emphasize priesthood or the need to be commissioned by God to represent him. So whoever emphasizes that the most wins? What kind of moronic game are you playing? The active participation of God in the world and in men's lives is a distinctly LDS temple motif. As is God's active participation with women, but only through men. It's called divine sexism. While Masons believe in an undefined, impersonal God, everything in the LDS Endowment emanates from, or is directed to, God who is a personage and man's eternal Father. That doesn't mean Joseph Smith didn't steal the Masonic rituals and infuse them into his own thought. The Endowment looks to the eternities and to eternal lives, but Freemasonry is earthbound, pervaded by human legend and hope for something better. Because Joseph had to outdo everyone, including himself.

Freemasonry is a fraternal society, and in its ritual all promises, oaths, and agreements are made between members. In the temple Endowment all covenants are between the individual and God. You finally seem to be admitting they use the same oaths (which they do), even if directed to different entities. In Freemasonry, testing, grading, penalizing, or sentencing accords with the rules of the fraternity or membership votes. In the Endowment, God alone is the judge. You lost me. Do you mean that the Freemasons actually take quality control seriously while Mormons just let anything go in the temple? That's dishonest. In the Mormon temple you have someone checking on you every step of the way making sure you do everything just right. The difference being that Freemasons have to learn everything by heart and then get tested, whereas Mormons get to copy what's shown to them on the spot. Within Freemasonry, rank and promotions are of great importance, while in the LDS temple rites there are no distinctions: all participants stand equal before God. Not really. Men and women have separate seating and gendered clothing, including a veil to cover the faces of women. Husbands are placed over wives in the temple. Men get to become king and priests and women queens and priestesses. Historically kings ruled over their queens and we have no idea what a priestess even does according to Mormon doctrine. This is not equality. The clash between good and evil, including Satan's role, is essential to, and vividly depicted in, the Endowment, but is largely absent from Masonic rites. So Joseph added a maniacal Satan to the stage, so what? This is a red herring. You need to look at the details you so diligently avoid! That's where you'll find the real devil. Temple ceremonies emphasize salvation for the dead through vicarious ordinance work, such as baptism for the dead; nothing in Masonic ritual allows for proxies acting on behalf of the dead. Because it's a ridiculous notion. Why would a fraternity need to induct the deceased? Women participate in all aspects of LDS temple rites; though Freemasonry has women's auxiliaries, Masonic ritual excludes them. Freemasonry is a men's club, just like the LDS endowment was back when it was introduced. Both have changed (Mormonism first, thanks to polygamy) to be more inclusive of women. The Endowment's inclusion of females underscores perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two rites: LDS temple rites unite husbands and wives, and their children, in eternal families (see Eternal Lives; Marriage). Now you've moved away from the endowment, where the Masonic plagiarism is found, to the sealing room. You've just moved the goal posts, moron. Latter-day Saint sealings would be completely out of place in the context of Masonic ceremonies. Incredible. I almost want to give you points for trying, except I feel like you're purposefully being sloppy in your analysis of Freemasonry and the LDS temple. I don't know if you're being dishonest or if you simply don't know what you're doing.

Freemasonry's 5 points of contact as used in the LDS temple endowment until 1990.

Thus, Latter-day Saints see their temple ordinances as fundamentally different from Masonic and other rituals and think of similarities as remnants from an ancient original. This conclusion is only reached by ignoring the verbatim theft of oaths, the co-opting of symbols, the exact copying of handshakes, and many other elements, while simultaneously cherry picking cultures to compare your beliefs to and then staying back in the vaguest of generalities in order to avoid seeing your comparison implode.

KENNETH W. GODFREY should be ashamed of himself.

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 7"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.


“For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house” (D&C 110:7). When was the last time someone claimed to have seen Jesus in the temple? When was the last time a sane and honest person saw JC in the temple?
To follow up on the class members’ first visits to the temple and help them prepare to enjoy the temple throughout their lives. This should be the best lesson of the series. Finally the students have some actual experience to base their knowledge off of instead of the cryptic BS they've been pretending to understand. Now we can finally talk for real about the temple.


  1. Be prepared to make this lesson a time of sharing. Most class members will want to discuss their first visit to the temple. They'll also feel a fair amount of pressure to only say positive things and will likely be more than a little nervous to speak their minds freely.
  2. Assign a class member to be prepared to read Doctrine and Covenants 110:1–10 and share his or her feelings about it. I know theses thoughts are meant to be shared later, but I'll go ahead and write them here. First off, holy shit! Jesus sounds both very scary and also pretty fucking cool! Secondly, I'm kind of bummed I didn't see Jesus in the temple and more bummed I didn't see anyone who seemed to be seeing him or even conversing with angels. Thirdly, I have no idea where Jesus would even be hanging out in the temple for us to see. Maybe in the Celestial Room smoking a pipe by the fireplace. I don't know. Finally, I think temples totally have made Mormons famous all over the world, unfortunately it's also made them infamous thanks to LDS practices of baptizing people for the dead that the living don't want baptized.
  3. Assign a class member to summarize the information about Elijah presented in Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, pages 23–24. In a nutshell, Elijah the prophet keeps coming back from the dead to wave his priesthood fingers about and turn all of our hearts to our fathers. This usually happens in mid-June in the United States. Thanks, Elijah! See you next year!
  4. Prepare to answer questions that may have arisen during the first visit to the temple, but do not discuss questions or information that should be reserved for discussion in the temple itself. Can we talk about what the True Order of Prayer? That shit was WEIRD! But also, if that's the true order then why the hell are we taught to kneel on the ground, fold our arms, bow our heads and close our eyes? Should we be teaching little kids to raise their hands in the air and lower them saying "Oh God, here the words of my mouth!"? Where such questions exist, encourage individuals to plan additional visits to the temple. Where in the temple would students be expected to talk about the taboo subjects of temple worship? The temple president's office? I really don't know the answer.

Lesson Presentation

Ask class members if they have any questions. I have a question! When you went through the temple did they still have an evil Protestant minister helping Satan deceive the children of man? Is it not ironic in light of the fact that the LDS Church is very much a product of the Reformation? What? Those questions are no longer relevant because the Protestant minister has been edited out? OK, well can you explain why women are covenanting to their husbands rather than to the Lord like the men do? Can you explain why we need a new name to give at the veil? Where do these new names come from anyway? Take the time required to answer questions to the best of your ability and as guided by the Lord’s Spirit. The Lord's spirit will be the only guidance you can hope for because the Church isn't giving you anything to work from. Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. I think the only things we promised to never reveal are our new names and the bizarre succession of Masonic signs and tokens, right? Why can't we talk about them again? Don't say it's because they're sacred. We talk about lots of sacred things like baptism, testimony moments, motherhood, the Atonement, the Plan... Don't we think everything in Mormon doctrine is sacred?

Maintaining a Love for Temple Service

  • How did you feel when you were in the temple? Nervous. I knew less about what I was supposed to do than I anticipated. I felt like I was being cornered sometimes.
Explain that temple service will bring continuing blessings into the lives of those who go often to the temple. "Continued blessings"? What the hell are you talking about? Tell the class members that while their experience in the temple is still fresh in their minds, they may want to write their feelings about it in their journals. So they can laugh at their own ignorance later on in life. Remind them that although they may record their feelings, they should not write about some details of temple work, which are not to be discussed outside the temple. What are they not allowed to write exactly? Is it not strange that you're trying to censor their journals?
  • What can you do to maintain a love for temple service throughout your life? If you stay in the Church long enough you'll automatically become an obsessive old temple goer. Temple "work" is one of the only entertainment options for old Mormons. It's either the temple or the megaplex. Either way you're watching a movie. You might find yourself loving it earlier if you become a parent and you start convincing yourself that your child needs to have an "eternal marriage".
Write the class members’ ideas on the chalkboard. You may also want to present the following ideas:
1. Ponder the temple experience each day. And couple that pondering with some reading material.
Explain that some people have more opportunities to visit the temple than others. But once we have been to the temple and felt the Spirit there, we should take the opportunity each day to ponder the temple ceremonies and reflect upon the covenants we have made. If you rarely or barely feel the Spirit in the temple, you should also ponder that. You're probably just a sinner, but there's also a chance that the temple isn't what it claims to be. Doing this will encourage us each day to think and act in more righteous ways. But not more ethically.
We will not be able to remember everything about the temple, but we should try to remember as much as possible after each visit. Or you can just hop online and look up whatever it is you've forgotten. We should also study the scriptures and words of the prophets about the temple. They don't say much that's substantial. Some of these have been presented in this course. And you remember how hollow those words were, don't you?
You may want to have a class member summarize the following statement, found on page 10 in Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple:
“The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will be only partly understood. Largely because we will not teach you what you need to understand it, nor will we tell you who understands it fully, and don't even dream of finding someone to sit down with who will even try to explain it fully. Saying you understand the temple completely is a form of Mormon heresy. Return again and again and again. And keeping finding "symbols" for yourself so you feel smarter. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Are you admitting that the temple can trouble people? Can you give an example of something troubling? Why would the temple, a place where we are discouraged from talking and where there are no lectures or classes, be a better place to answer questions than say a Sunday School lesson, where we get to bounce ideas off each other with the supposed help of the Spirit?
“When you have the opportunity to attend an endowment session in the temple or to witness a sealing, ponder the deeper meaning of what you see demonstrated before you. What deeper meaning? There doesn't even have to be one, you just have to make us believe there is one? And in the days following your visit keep these things on your mind; quietly and prayerfully review them and you will find that your knowledge will increase. The best review involves gently touching your silky garment symbols over and over.
“One of the great values of the temple experience is that it presents the broad, sweeping panorama of God’s purposes relating to this earth. Once we have been through the temple (and we can return and refresh our memories) the events of life fit into the scheme of things. We can see in perspective where we are, and we can quickly see when we are off course.” You don't have to build multi-million dollar temples to see this. Just do a Google search for the "plan of salvation" and print of one of the images that pop up. It's very cheap and easy.
2. Remember that the center of all temple worship is the Savior, Jesus Christ. Is it? I always felt that it was our self-importance and impatience to become gods.
The scriptures teach that an important reason for building temples is so “that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people” (D&C 109:5). And yet he's just not popping in very often, is he? The symbols and rituals of the temple help to focus our attention on the Savior. To be completely honest, imagining Eve naked behind a bush distracted me a little...
Explain that the Savior did manifest Himself in the Kirtland Temple. That was the first and last time he did anyone that favor. He appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to accept the temple as His house. Uh, I have my doubts. This visit is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 110:1–10. Ask the assigned class member to read and comment on this passage. I put my comments on these verses at the beginning of the post.
  • What blessings did the Savior promise to those who build and attend temples? Health in the navel, marrow in the bones... no, wait! That's something else. OK, he said he show up in mercy (wouldn't it be weird for a guy who's already affectionately paid for your sins show up and punish you for being a sinner?), and that he'd pour out "blessings". Thanks for the "blessings", Lord!

In the Temple, Families Are Sealed Together for Eternity

Ask the class members to read Malachi 4:5–6.
Ask the assigned class member to summarize the information about Elijah found in Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, pages 23–24. I summarized this above.
Explain that Elijah has returned and restored the priesthood keys that allow families to be sealed together in temples for eternity. Don't ask me why Peter, the dude to whom Jesus supposedly gave the power to seal, did give Joseph those "keys" years earlier when he allegedly dropped out of heaven with his pals James and John and bestowed the Melchizedek priesthood upon him.
Have the class members review Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16. This is the scripture where Elias shows up with his Greek name tag and then shows up again with his Hebrew name tag and is mistaken for a different person. Great story. :S Then ask a class member to read the following statement, found on page 28 in Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple:
“From that very day, April 3, 1836, the hearts of the children began to turn to their fathers. Before that, all children hated their fathers and never thought of them, especially not to help them. Thereafter ordinances were not tentative, but permanent. Baptism was tentative before 1836? Ordination to the Priesthood was tentative!! Are you serious? The sealing power was with us. Rest easy, kids, this highly suspicious story Joseph Smith told means we've got the most powerful magic of any religion. You're in the right place! No authorization transcends it in value. So never ever under any circumstance take seriously what other religions say they have to offer. That power gives substance and eternal permanence to all ordinances performed with proper authority for both the living and the dead.” You'll feel it, brothers and sisters. It will feel low key. Almost anticlimactic. Kind of like the awesomeness of it all was in what was said, not so much in what was done and what happened afterward. What I'm saying is don't expect to see the Lord or anything amazing like that. Keep your expectations to a minimum.
The Savior described the sealing power when He spoke to His Apostle Peter, as recorded in Matthew 16:19. This verse is so strange. If Peter had pronounced chocolate ice cream to be eternally in all celestial freezers, would God have respected that? Does the New Testament give us any idea if Peter actually used this special power at all? Have the class members read this verse.
Explain that these same keys are held today by the prophet and President of the Church. You should see the incredible Lego sets that Tommy Monson has bound on earth and in heaven! “That sacred sealing power is with the Church now. How it works is if you're lucky enough to be a man, you can get sealed to numerous women, and if you're a woman who divorces or is widowed and want to get sealed to a new husband, you can't. Nothing is regarded with more sacred contemplation by those who know the significance of this authority. Which doesn't exactly explain why Heber Kimball said he took no more thought about taking another wife than he did about getting another cow. Nothing is more closely held. Well, except for penises. Those get held pretty darn tightly. There are relatively few men who hold this sealing power upon the earth at any given time—in each temple are brethren who have been given the sealing power. They are among our most special and unique sorcerers. No one can get it except from the prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or from those he has delegated to give it to others” Seriously, these sealing sorcerers are pretty close to the top of the pig pile. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 24, 26).
Explain that the sealing ordinances include the sealing of a husband and wife to each other and the sealing of parents to children. That's right, kids, sealings are no longer just about polygamy! When parents are sealed in the temple, the children born to them are born in the covenant of their parents’ sealing and do not need to be sealed to their parents. But the Lord does require paperwork from everyone else. Sorry.
  • How do you think being sealed together in the temple might affect the daily thoughts and actions of a family? It definitely gives a false sense of security and contributes to some pretty smug attitudes toward those families who haven't been sealed.
  • What blessings do you think would come to a family because of their temple sealing? Earthy blessings? None. I thought the deal was they'd get to be together after they die.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Yes. Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Unfortunately, yes. Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant his sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? Yes, easily. No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. You'll have to explain your reasoning I'm afraid. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. What if this is just an emotionally immature desire that only mere mortals suffer from? Why would a God who knows everything, can be everywhere and is the definition of love not be entirely satisfied with his relationship to his creation (children included) at all times regardless of where their physical presence my be? The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it” You're selling a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. (“Why These Temples?” Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [1988], 4).

Temples Give Us Opportunities to Serve Those Who Have Died

Have the class members read Obadiah 1:21. That's one trippy script, brother! I'm sure you'll make it mean whatever you want it to mean.
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained how members of the Church can become saviors on Mount Zion:
“But how are [the Saints] to become saviors on Mount Zion? By giving Joseph - ahem! the Church... a lot of money and fee labor? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah” (History of the Church, 6:184). Sounds like a lot of work for something that isn't even necessary.
“This vicarious work performed in our temples must be carried forth in the same spirit of selfless devotion and sacrifice that characterized the life of the Master” (President Thomas S. Monson). I'm 100% sure that Jesus never asked for this sort of "service" once in the Gospels. Jesus wanted our efforts directed 100% at worshiping the Father through service to the living. 
Explain that as part of His plan of salvation, our Heavenly Father has prepared a way for those who died without receiving the saving ordinances of the gospel to receive these ordinances. It's not a very effective way, so in the end you find yourself questioning God's judgement. The people in the spirit world have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I'm amazed they'd even have to wait for an opportunity to hear the gospel. It seems like once you pass through the veil your memory of the War in Heaven would return and you'd know exactly where you are and what went wrong. They can accept it there, but they cannot receive the ordinances of the gospel for themselves. Because why? The Lord has commanded us to perform these ordinances for them in holy temples. Kind of. Joseph got people going on vicarious baptisms way before baptismal fonts were part of temples. I guess that baptisms for the dead in rivers and lakes really pissed the Lord off. We should make special efforts to do family history work so we can receive ordinances in behalf of our own ancestors. Should we though? I think our energies could be directed toward the living. Imagine if instead of spending 2.5 hours in the temple, Mormons went out and helped in nursing homes or tutored in schools and libraries or cleaned up trash or helped in community vegetable gardens. 

Ordinances for the dead performed in temples include baptisms, confirmations, ordinations to the priesthood, endowments, and sealings of husband to wife and parents to children.
We should return to the temple as often as our circumstances permit so that we can serve those who have died by performing ordinances for them. The temples are recycling names these days because they have more people going through than they have new names of the dead. Many names are irretrievable. Let's focus instead on the real work that needs to be done and leave this "work" for the dead for the Millennium. We will bless the lives of those we serve and bless our own lives as well. You don't see the irony in what you said, do you? You're talking about "blessing the lives" of the dead... Information about how to do family history work and perform ordinances for our ancestors is provided in A Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work. Now get busy!
President Thomas S. Monson said:
“An appreciation for the temple endowment and the sealing ordinances will bring the members of our families closer together and there will be quickened within each family member a desire to make available these same blessings to our loved ones who have gone beyond. Most people my age can't be bothered. They've got way too much to do with work and children. I think this urgency is more likely to hit once you're old and retired.
“This vicarious work performed in our temples must be carried forth in the same spirit of selfless devotion and sacrifice that characterized the life of the Master. Just don't think too hard about how the Master focused on the living and never told people to save their dead ancestors by being baptized for them. When we remember him, it becomes easier for us to do our individual parts in this vital work. Only if you remember him in a certain way, a way that makes you believe vicarious ordinances for the dead were somehow his idea. Each time we gaze upon one of these holy houses, may we be reminded of the eternal opportunities which are found inside, not only for ourselves, but for our dead” (Pathways to Perfection [1973], 206–7). Every time you look at a temple you should be thinking about how one day you and all your family could live together in a cloudy community of Gods on a crystal planet. How's that for motivation?


Emphasize that temple attendance allows us to serve others and to continue to gain greater spiritual knowledge. Probably the greatest service you're doing in the temple is keeping elderly people company. The second greatest service is that you're providing jobs for temple cleaners, cafeteria workers and laundry cleaners. Share the following statement:
“No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. What? How does genealogical work protect the Church? By giving it a research organ that actually does credible work unlike the moronic apologists over at BYU and FAIR? No work we do gives us more power. Relax. Accept that you're a mortal like the rest of us. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. … Keep fanning our self-righteous ego! It feels so good!
“If we will accept the revelation concerning temple ordinance work, if we will enter into our covenants without reservation or apology, the Lord will protect us. Protect us from what? What the hell are you talking about? What are you so afraid of? We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life. That sounds like minimal inspiration, which is definitely what I got during my years of activity.
“So come to the temple—come and claim your blessings. They're the unspecific blessings we'll work the whole rest of our lives trying to identify. It is a sacred work” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 37). It is what you want it to be, I guess. I actually dared to want something otherworldly and beautiful. What I got was human and mundane. I doubted my doubts, but I could only delude myself for so long before letting it go.
End the lesson by sharing testimonies. I'd like to bear my testimony that the LDS temple is not a restoration of ancient ceremony ordain and demanded by Heavenly Father. From what I see, the temple is the product of Joseph Smith trying to impress his followers with something bigger and more complicated than he had previously shown them. It's the result of a religious hack trying to outdo himself. I say this in the name of honest contemplation and historical evidence. Amen. Encourage the class members to return often to the temple so that they can be taught by the Spirit of the Lord. Isn't this what's supposed to be happening in church on Sundays? Why would regular church services be unable to reach this goal of being taught be the Spirit?
You may want to mention that the class members may be able to obtain from Church distribution centers and view at home the video presentation Mountain of the Lord. This 73-minute presentation tells the story of the building of the Salt Lake Temple. It's just more propaganda. You can skip it, like this whole lesson.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 6"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.


“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it” (D&C 97:15). Does this mean that the glory of the Lord is not upon any temple that has unwittingly introduced an unrepentant sinner? If so, I'm willing to argue that there's not a single temple on the earth today with the glory of the Lord. Cheaters enter temples across the globe every single day. The Church cannot stop it from happening because no one in the Church has the "power of discernment".
To prepare the class members to worthily enter the temple. This looks a lot like the objective of Lesson 2. Let's move on. When are you going to have a lesson on Freemasonry's influence on Joseph Smith and the LDS temple?

Lesson Presentation

Ask class members if they have any questions. Are we hoping students will have done a little internet study before class? Perhaps you could address why we no longer make the Oath of Vengeance. Take the time required to answer questions to the best of your ability and as guided by the Lord’s Spirit. Good luck explaining why praying against the United States was God's way for nearly 90 years and why we haven't been doing it for the past 80 plus. Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. Is the Oath of Vengeance one of those things? What exactly is on the list of temple elements we cannot discuss?

Each Person Should Prepare for the Temple

Explain that each person is individually responsible for taking the steps that will lead to the full blessings of the temple. OK, what are those steps? I'm guessing most kids end up getting pushed through them whether they want to or not.
Briefly discuss the following five ideas. Are these just ideas or are they the steps? Each one presents a way in which we should be prepared to enter the temple. You may want to list each point on the chalkboard as you discuss it.
1. Each person should be worthy. Please note that a discussion of worthiness never comes up when considering how much a father should offer a son or daughter. No parent denies a child because that child was "unworthy" of the gift or knowledge or assistance. If God is in fact our father, then we are all already worthy of whatever he has to offer us.
Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–17.
  • What does this passage teach you about the importance of being worthy when you enter the temple? It teaches us that the Lord is very very sensitive despite his perfection and unforgiving despite having already paid for everyone's sins 2000 years ago.
President Howard W. Hunter asked us to consider the “attitudes and righteous behaviors that the Lord pointed us toward in the counsel He gave to the Kirtland Saints through the Prophet Joseph Smith as they were preparing to build a temple.”
This counsel is found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119. Ask the class members to read this passage.
Ask the class members also to consider the question posed by President Hunter: “Are these attitudes and behaviors indeed reflective of what each of us desires and seeks to be?” (“The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 2). It sounds a lot more like a regular church building to me than a temple. A house of prayer? Meetinghouses see all sorts of prayers all the time. A house of fasting? Meetinghouses hold fast and testimony meetings every month. A house of faith? Meetinghouses are often where faith begins. A house of learning? There are tons of classes in meetinghouses all organized carefully by age, sex, and priesthood authority held. A house of glory? Meetinghouses are dedicated and filled with the spirit. A house of God? All LDS churches have signs saying their the Church of Jesus Christ so if he wants them they're his.
2. Each person should be humble.
Each person should enter the temple in humility, with a desire to be taught from on high. I agree. Each person should also have the courage to admit when he or she's not seeing the emperor's new clothes.
  • Why is humility so important as we serve and learn in the temple? It's always a good idea when confronting something new to have an open mind and give it a chance to live up to the hype.
Have the class members read Doctrine and Covenants 136:32–33.
  • What does this passage teach about the importance of humility? Apparently God only works with the ignorant. How could you apply this counsel to attending the temple for the first time? If you think the temple sucks or feels like a cult your first time through, you're probably just being a prideful, unteachable prick and God knows it.
3. Each person should understand that receiving temple ordinances and covenants is essential to gaining eternal life. I don't think Jesus would agree. He liked baptism for some reason and definitely endorsed burning animal sacrifices (but strangely not the sale of animals in the outer temple court), but there was no possible way for him to endorse the LDS temple ceremonies that were invented in the mid-1800s.
“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119). We already read this. Why are we back here again?
President Harold B. Lee said: “The temple ceremonies are designed by a wise Heavenly Father who has revealed them to us in these last days as a guide and a protection throughout our lives, that you and I might not fail to merit exaltation in the celestial kingdom where God and Christ dwell” (“Enter a Holy Temple,” Improvement Era, June 1967, 144). The moral of the temple is to wait for God's word as it comes down the line and keep doing it until God gives you new instructions. Not a bad plan, right? Now we just have to figure out how to establish what God really said. By the time we hear the message it's passed through enough people the message is as warped as anything you'd hear at the end of the telephone game. By the way, I thought all we had to do to "merit exaltation" was believe in Christ, get baptized in his name and live our lives the way he led his.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “These blessings insure to us, through our faithfulness, the pearl of great price the Lord has offered us, for these are the greatest blessings we can receive in this life. I didn't get pearls, I got paper spitballs. Everyone, check the pearls you receive in the temple! It is a wonderful thing to come into the Church, but you cannot receive an exaltation until you have made covenants in the house of the Lord and received the keys and authorities that are there bestowed and which cannot be given in any other place on the earth today” That's right, the top Church leaders think they have the monopoly on exaltation tickets. You pay their price if you're too lazy to shop around. (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:253).
4. Each person should understand the importance of wearing the temple garment.
Explain that those who have participated in the temple ceremony are privileged to wear the garment of the holy priesthood. You can't buy the cheap uncomfortable ones unless you have a temple recommend or get lucky on ebay. Otherwise you're stuck buying the more comfy expensive ones. In a statement to the Church, the First Presidency said:
“Church members who have been clothed with the garment in the temple have made a covenant to wear it throughout their lives. Because God is extremely interested in your underwear. This has been interpreted to mean that it is worn as underclothing both day and night. No more sleeping naked, kids!
“The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Stop looking for opportunities to go to the pool or get a professional massage. Those days are over. … When the garment must be removed, … it should be restored as soon as possible. Right after you wash up after sex. No, this IS NOT WEIRD AND CONTROLLING! :S
“The principles of modesty and keeping the body appropriately covered are implicit in the covenant and should govern the nature of all clothing worn. God, your creator, doesn't want you guys seeing each other. It's... bad... because... ew! Right? Endowed members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the sacred covenants they have made with the Lord and also as a protection against temptation and evil. The rest of use have to be happy with CTR rings. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior” Yes, an outward expression worn inwardly so no one on the outside can see it. Don't let your Gs hang out, brothers and sisters. (First Presidency letter, 10 Oct. 1988).
5. Each person should be prepared for personal and sacred worship. Not public and profane worship.
In the temple, before, during, and after the ceremonies, there are opportunities for a person to meditate and to draw closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. But let's be honest, if it's private meditation you want you should probably stay home or go somewhere quiet where you don't have to spend two hours playing dress up and watching an annoying movie in snippets. Everyone is faced with questions that need answers, with burdens that need lightening, with problems that need to be solved. Many have appreciated the temple as a place to get away from the world and to communicate with Heavenly Father. Many have found answers, peace, and joy in the temple. I'm sure this is true for some, it's also true that many have not found answers, nor peace, nor joy in the temple.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Temples are places of personal revelation. I never received any and I always went to the temple with a specific question I needed answered. Maybe my questions were no good. When I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the House of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways” Lucky for you. (“What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 8).
Explain that in the temple, we can submit the names of those who have special needs so that those who attend the temple can unite their faith and prayers in behalf of these people. It's a lot like the Care Bear stare.

Special Preparations for the First Temple Visit

The following information will help each person make all necessary preparations for the first temple visit and ensure that this visit is uplifting. Discuss with class members the information that applies to their circumstances. Alright! Some practical information!
  1. Temple Recommend. Obtain a temple recommend. Be sure to carry your recommend with you to the temple, since only those with valid recommends may enter. Unfortunately, the Church doesn't trust you to diagnose yourself as worthy or not, so they make you confess your faith to the bishop and stake president. As you live worthily, the recommend will allow you to enter any temple of the Church as often as you wish during the next two years. To renew your temple recommend, you must be interviewed by a member of your bishopric or your branch president and a member of your stake presidency or the mission president.
  2. Planning and Scheduling the Visit. Before you go to the temple to receive the endowment or the sealing ordinance, call the temple to make an appointment. It's a bit like the doctor's office in a way. Find out when you need to arrive at the temple, how long you should plan to stay, and what you should take with you. OK, maybe it's more like going off to spend a day with your aunt. Ask for translation assistance if necessary. Your aunt who maybe speaks another language.
  3.   Travel Plans. If you live a long distance from the temple, you should consider the following:
    • Make transportation, lodging, and eating arrangements in advance. It may be to your advantage to travel with a group if possible. Group tours tend to be cheaper.
    • If necessary, make arrangements to exchange your money into the currency of the country where the temple is located. If you need to be told this, you're definitely at a good intellectual level to feel like you've learned something at the temple.
    • Take sufficient funds to cover all expenses. You may need to purchase additional garments, rent temple clothing, and pay for lodging and travel. (Note that rental clothing is not available in many temples. The First Presidency encourages all members to purchase their own temple clothing.) Apart from the bit about temple clothing rental, you shouldn't have to be told any of this.
  4. Dress. Plan to dress as you would when attending Sunday meetings. Women should not wear pants to the temple. The Lord has a no pant's policy for women. He HATES pants on women. So gross!
  5. Escorts. All who are going to the temple for the first time may have an escort to accompany them. No, not THAT kind of escort!! This can be a relative or friend of the same gender who has previously been to the temple, or one of the temple workers may assist. Workers in the temple will offer friendly guidance at all times. Your temple escort is the one who makes sure you don't fuck up too badly your first time through. Of course fuck ups could be avoided if the Church let new initiates practice the temple stuff a bit before they go, but that's just not the way God wants it.
  6. Sealing Work. If you plan to do sealing work for your deceased ancestors, you should take completed family group records with you to the temple. Good to know. If you and your spouse are to be sealed or if you are going to have children sealed to you, you must have your own family group record. OK. If you are going to be married, you will need to comply with all local civil laws and bring a valid marriage license with you. Ah. Read carefully the Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work for more detailed information about how to provide temple ordinances for both the living and the dead. You may also contact the temple recorder at the temple you are planning to visit. OK then.
  7. Care of Children. If children are coming to the temple to participate in a sealing ceremony, they will be cared for in the temple youth center until it is time for them to join you in the sealing room. What and who is in that room with my children? White clothing for the ceremony will be provided for the children. Who dresses them? After the sealing ceremony is completed, they will return to the center to wait for you. What do they do there while they're waiting? No care is provided at the temple for children not involved in a sealing. The temple's not a daycare, people!
  8. Temple Garments. You will need to buy one or two pairs of temple garments before you enter the temple. Do not put them on before you go to the temple. Or they'll turn black and Satan will hide in your genitals for a few months. After receiving your endowment and when you are satisfied that you have identified the desirable size and fabric, you can purchase additional pairs of garments. So if your first pairs don't fit, too bad for you! Some people like to wash their initial pair of garments to make sure they fit comfortably before purchasing others. Good idea. And good luck finding comfortable ones. Temple garments are manufactured by the Church and may be purchased through Church Distribution Services. Or over at Mormon Secret.
    “The temple ceremonies are designed by a wise Heavenly Father … that you and I might not fail to merit exaltation in the celestial kingdom” That design has changed a lot over the years by wiser human beings, though. Believe me, if you had to do the shit they did a hundred years ago you would not be well pleased. (President Harold B. Lee).
  9. Temple Clothing. The First Presidency has encouraged members to purchase and use their own temple clothing. In some temples it is possible to rent temple clothing for a small fee, but it is preferable for members to own and maintain their own temple clothing. It's less hassle for the Church that way. The bishop or branch president can provide information about where this clothing may be purchased. Good to know.
    Sisters may wear their wedding dresses for their temple wedding, but the dress must be white, have long sleeves, be modest in design and fabric, have no train, and be free from elaborate ornamentation. The Lord hates all the worldly fashiony bullshit in his house. It deeply offends him. We don't know why he's so sensitive. Sorry. 

Heavenly Father's going to be so mad when he sees you in here dressed like a slut!


Share your testimony of the sacredness of temple work. Say whatever comes to mind. Nothing comes to mind? Fine, just say "I want to share my testimony with each and everyone of you that the "work" we do in the temple is extremely sacred. There's nothing more sacred on earth. Nothing. Not clean air and water. Not the pure love of a child. Nothing. Wearing funny clothes, learning handshakes, and repeating bizarre passwords is as good as we get in this life. It's true, I promise. In the name of Joshua the Oiled One, amen! Express your happiness in seeing the class members prepare to enter the temple. Just say "I'm so happy and excited for you! This is so great! I'm so happy! This is really wonderful!"

Following this lesson, class participants and instructors should attend the temple together where possible. Oh boy! I just wish we would have covered more...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 5"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.


“I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts” (2 Nephi 28:30). Heavenly Father is the king of mystery. He's a bit like Moriarty in Sherlock only letting us know enough to keep himself entertained.
To help class members understand and appreciate the use of symbols in the temple. Symbols like the majestically phallic spire, upon which Moroni wraps his lips around God's trumpet. Absolutely beautiful.


  1. Bring a flag of your country or a picture of your country’s flag.
  2. Ask a class member to summarize the story of how one of the Brethren answered a question about temple garments. The story is found on pages 20–21 and 23 of Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. This is the story of some dumbfuck hypocrite Protestant chaplin assface who thought garments were "strange" even though he himself was wearing some weirdass clerical getup. It's symbolic, shithead! Duh! I can't stand people prying into my underwear drawer.
Note to teacher: Temple ordinances and covenants are sacred, and discussion about them is primarily limited to within the temple. Therefore, class discussion should be limited to the explanations given in this manual. In other words, your temple experience and insight isn't needed for this lesson. You're here just to make sure these kids hear these non-explanatory explanations because we sure as hell can't trust them to read this material on their own.

Lesson Presentation

Ask class members if they have any questions. I have one! Um, why are we taking this class on temple symbolism when the instructions say we can't really discuss the symbolism of the temple? At what point do we actually talk about all the symbols in the temple? I've been through many times and can tell you that the symbols covered in the endowment are pretty unimpressive. The green apron with fig leaf designs that you wear represents the fig leaves Adam and Eve used to cover their uglies. The white clothing represents purity (dark = dirty and yucky). The handshake where you place the tip of your index on the other person's wrist represents the nails put in Jesus' wrists. Is that supposed to be deep? And what about all the symbols that aren't discussed here or in the endowment or any other ceremony? Does anyone ever check with us to see if we noticed them and interpreted them correctly? No, because they don't matter. All that matters is that you convince yourself that you're learning and growing closer to God. Take the time required to answer questions to the best of your ability and as guided by the Lord’s Spirit. On second thought, just act sweet and stick to the script below. Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. If you, dear teacher, tell them something secret, we will stick you in nursery for at least a decade. Keep your lips sealed.

Symbols Are Important in Our Daily Lives

Explain that symbols are used constantly in our everyday lives. Draw the following or other appropriate symbols on the chalkboard. Ask the class members to describe what each symbol means.
Jew. Medical help. Something is not allowed.
Show the class your country’s flag or a picture of the flag and ask them to describe what the flag means to them. Rebellion, war, nationalism, imperialism, oppression and optimism.
  • What are some other objects or some actions that show patriotism? (A song, a uniform, a piece of clothing, a holiday, or a celebration.) This is the kind of exercise that breeds "artists" like Jon McNaughton.
Point out that these are symbols that stand for or represent patriotism. Of course they are, that's exactly what you asked the students to list. They came up with whatever symbols they came up with precisely because they thought they were patriotic.
  • What are some symbols for love and respect? (A gift or a ring, a kiss or an embrace, a heart shape.) A dick in a box?
  • Do symbols convey the same message to all people? No. Why or why not? 'Cause we're all different and understand things differently, if at all.
  • Why do we use symbols? They're wonderfully brief and often quite memorable.

Let the class members discuss. They may suggest ideas such as the following:
  1. Symbols can help us remember important things. Like how the cross helps some people remember that Jesus supposedly died for each of them personally.
  2. Symbols can teach us abstract truths that might be hard to learn in other ways. Like how the Taoist yin and yang teach the cyclic nature of all things.
  3. Symbols can represent feelings. Like emoticons!
  4. Symbols can teach different principles according to our personal readiness to learn. What student would ever say this? Symbols don't teach on their own, instead we are taught to understand symbols. No one will understand the symbols already discussed in the lesson (Star of David, medical cross, prohibited circle, national flag) without first having had them explained to them. When teaching someone to read do we just give them a dictionary and tell them they'll sort it out with time? No. They will not learn understand the letters, words and function of the dictionary without an appropriate amount of training. SYMBOLS DON'T TEACH PEOPLE, PEOPLE TEACH SYMBOLS.
Explain that when the symbols are repeated, we learn to understand them better. Not necessarily. The more the symbols are analyzed and discussed the more we're likely to understand them. Mere repetition is nothing more than busywork.

Jesus Christ and His Prophets Used Symbols

Explain that the Savior repeatedly used symbols when He taught.
  • What are some instances in which the Lord taught by using symbols? Let's just look at your examples...
The class members may mention such things as lost sheep (see Matthew 18:12–14); a mustard seed (see Matthew 13:31–32); or a pearl of great price (see Matthew 13:45–46). Christopher Hitchens shared the opinion of my grandmother that no one should be flattered by being compared to a sheep. I think the mustard seed lesson is inaccurate at best. I also think it's a little demeaning of people to refer to them as swine who can't appreciate the importance of something.
  • Why do you think the Savior used symbols when He taught? His hyperbolic teachings make an impression on us and are easy to remember.
Let the class members discuss. Then review the following statement:
“The Lord Himself, the Master Teacher, in His own teaching to His disciples taught constantly in parables, a verbal way to represent symbolically things that might otherwise be difficult to understand. Sure, little stories can be easy to remember, but the message is often lost. As I recall he sometimes taught in parables to keep people in ignorance. He talked of the common experiences drawn from the lives of His disciples, and He told of hens and chickens, birds, flowers, foxes, trees, burglars, highwaymen, sunsets, the rich and the poor. … He talked of the mustard seed, of the pearl. But he never once threw in Masonic symbols for the simple fact that Freemasonry wouldn't exist for anther millennium and a half. He wanted to teach His hearers, so He talked of simple things in a symbolic sense. But he never used Masonic symbols. None of these things is mysterious or obscure, and all of them are symbolic” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 8). So how is it that everyone understands Jesus' parables differently? If they were so clear and straight forward all of Christianity would interpret them the same way. Are you absolutely sure Jesus avoided being obscure?
Explain that the prophets and apostles often used symbols to teach of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Many of these "symbolic" teachings can be quite offensive (like telling a girl she's a licked cupcake, ABC chewing gum, or a wilted rose if she ever let's someone touch her) or fail to bear the weight of careful analysis (Alma's seed of faith experiment, for example, proves that faith in the Church is as much a bad seed as a good seed). The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the basis of the gospel and of all the blessings we receive. It makes salvation possible. Therefore, most of the symbols in the scriptures teach us about the Savior and His sacrifice. I'm not sold on the atonement, but stories about forgiveness are probably a good thing.
Ask the class members to read Moses 6:63. This is why we're blessed to see Jesus in toast.

  • What things in the earth bear record of the Savior? Footprints? Does he have a footprint or two out there somewhere?
Ask the class members to read Alma 13:16.
  • In what ways do priesthood ordinances bear record of the Savior? I think after reading the preceding verses that something about paying tithing to high priests supposedly resembles Jesus. You might want to pick a clearer scripture.
Point out that before the Savior carried out the Atonement, His covenant people sacrificed animals as a symbol of His atoning sacrifice (see Moses 5:4–8). Totally! All that animal slaughter was insane! That practice ended with the Savior’s death and Resurrection. That's right. You're not going to top killing a the son of God! But why did God create a system that requires corporal and capitol punishment? I suppose he, like the rest of us, has his preferences. Now the Lord commands us to “offer for a sacrifice unto [Him] a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20). The blood lust days are over. And priesthood ordinances continue to help us remember the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Only if we teach explicitly why those ordinances are designed to help us remember. The sacrament prayers spell it out very nicely, but I'm not so sure about other ordinances. Elder Russell M. Nelson taught:
“Essential ordinances of the gospel symbolize the Atonement. Baptism by immersion is symbolic of the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Redeemer. Partaking of the sacrament renews baptismal covenants and also renews our memory of the Savior’s broken flesh and of the blood He shed for us. Ordinances of the temple symbolize our reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 47; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35). Please explain what that symbolic reconciliation looks like and please stop misinterpreting Jesus' stance on marriage.

Symbols Teach Us Truth If We Are Spiritually Sensitive

Explain that when the Savior lived on earth, His disciples asked Him why He taught with parables. Parables are stories that teach important truths, often using symbolic language. Let's just say they're very short morally didactic stories. The "important truths" bit isn't really part of the definition and "symbolic language" is meaninglessly redundant. Have the class members read Matthew 13:10–12 to learn what the Savior said.
  • What do you think the Savior meant when He said this? I think he was saying "suck my dick!" to everyone who didn't understand the morals of his stories.
Explain that the Lord reveals truth to those who are spiritually ready to understand it. So if you find that you're not learning anything in the temple, remember it's your fault. Those who receive truth with faith and obedience continue to receive more truth. But no one ever talks about their new found understanding of deep truths. Members who try are typically viewed as fringy and weird. Top Church leaders avoid addressing such half-cocked temple revelations among the general membership and they never share their own amazing insights. In the end we simply assume that everyone who attends the temple regularly is learning amazing stuff through the spirit even though we ourselves are not. Those who are not spiritually prepared and who fail to receive truth or receive it with a doubtful heart will gradually lose the truth they have. Put in other words, those who see through the bullshit end up distancing themselves from the charade and sticking with reality.
Stories with symbols present truth in such a way that those who are spiritually prepared understand the meaning of the symbols. Once again, symbols do not teach, they are taught. Those who are not prepared do not understand the meaning. Preparation for the use of symbols takes the form of education on what the symbol is and how it should be used. We don't see symbols and accurately interpret them without some background training in what to look for.

Either no one should be dressed like this or everyone should be tied up. I'm not sure.
Some people in the Savior’s time understood the messages of His parables, but many did not. Because they were at times intentionally unclear. The same is true today. Very true. People today still don't understand Jesus' parables. Take Mormons for example. They think the parable of the talents has to do with playing a musical instrument or playing a sport exceptionally well. Those are the wrong talents, brothers and sisters. There are many levels of spiritual understanding among righteous members of the Church. I'd go so far as to say that no two members believe the same things. Everyone has their own church and their own gospel and there's nothing correlation can do about it.
Have the class members read 2 Nephi 28:30 and Doctrine and Covenants 42:49–50.
  • What do these scriptures teach about how we learn truth from God? The first one teaches us that God's a stingy bastard when it comes to giving us knowledge leaking it only a tiny trickle at a time to his star students, and the second reminds us that a sucker is born every day and that we shouldn't be too gullible. It reminds me of how Joseph was given revelations about Kolob and how way too many people believed him and continue to believe in that bogus astronomy.
Explain that it is possible for all of us to develop spiritually to a level where we can understand the meaning of symbols used in the gospel, in the scriptures, and especially in the temple. This feels like you're just trying to bait your students into going to the temple. You sell the idea that there's a lot of learning to be done in the temple and imply that that learning cannot happen elsewhere. I don't think that's true, but more importantly I think you need to clarify what you mean when you talk of knowledge. How are you distinguishing "spiritual" knowledge from just plain old knowledge? What makes them different and is one better than the other somehow? Can you explain your take on epistemology for us?

The Most Sacred Symbolic Teachings Are Received in the Temple

Explain that the most sacred symbolic teachings on earth are received in the temple. Wow, that's quite a high standard your setting! In a symbolic way, the teachings and rituals of the temple take us on an upward journey toward eternal life, ending with a symbolic entrance into the presence of God. Yes, kids, you start out in the Creation Room and then, if you're in a live session (which you most likely won't be) you'll move to other rooms, eventually ending up walking through a white curtain into the Celestial Room. It's very symbolic in an over the top sort of way. The characters depicted, the physical setting, the clothing worn, the signs given, and all the events covered in the temple are symbolic. You'll be quasi-participants in a religious play. There's a lot of make believing. When they are understood, they will help each person recognize truth and grow spiritually. The "physical setting" are rooms with murals of planets and oceans and animals and stuff, the clothing is goofy as shit (God has horrible taste), the signs are pulled from Freemasonry, and the events are banal. Unless you're slow, you'll figure everything out almost instantly, then you'll get bored out of your brain in all future sessions. But, who knows why, you'll always say that you had an amazing trip to the temple.
“All things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual” (Moses 6:63). Like electric eels? How about silicon computer chips?
Some of the symbols are straightforward, and the meaning is readily apparent. Like what? The temple itself is a symbol:
“If you have seen one of the temples at night, fully lighted, you know what an impressive sight that can be. It is very clearly a phallic symbol showing wealth and power. The house of the Lord, bathed in light, standing out in the darkness, becomes symbolic of the power and the inspiration of the gospel of Jesus Christ standing as a beacon in a world that sinks ever further into spiritual darkness” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 10). The world is sinking "ever further into spiritual darkness"? REALLY? We have more people than ever fighting against slavery, against racism, sexism, and various other forms of inequality. We have developed the science to save countless lives thanks to surgeries and effective medications. We have very large nations working to protect their citizens and working together to keep war at bay. The scriptures and our modern prophets offer none of these improvements. Please take your fear mongering and shove it up your ass.
The temple clothing is also symbolic. It's symbolic of human idiocy, a lot like the emperor's new clothes. When we enter the temple, we change from street clothes into white temple clothing, which is a symbol of purity. White = good, dark = bad. Yes, we do like to think in black and white terms. President James E. Faust said:
“Fundamental to temple worship is the principle that ‘God is no respecter of persons.’ [Acts 10:34.] But we still thought it was a good idea to ban blacks from the priesthood and the temple anyway. We also think it's a good idea to keep women in the home. And let's be honest, we're pretty sure God want's us to make life difficult for homosexuals. Within the hallowed walls of the temples, there is no preference of position, wealth, status, race, or education. Correct. Race has been on that list since 1978 and maybe someday the Church will at sex, gender and sexuality to the list as well. All dress in white. Men get powerful baker's hats and women get TO VEIL THEIR FACES! All receive the same instruction. Mostly. Women get some modified instruction that subjects them to their husbands. All make the same covenants and promises. All men make the same covenants and all women make the same covenants, but men and women do not make the exact same covenants. All receive the same transcendent, eternal blessings if they live worthy to claim them. Kind of. Men get to become kings and priests and women queens and priestesses. Historically kings ruled over their queens and we have no idea what a priestess even does according to Mormon doctrine. All are equal before their Creator” But not so equal in the temple. (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 23; or Ensign, May 1997, 20).
Explain that members who receive temple ordinances and make covenants with God wear special garments (underclothing) throughout the rest of their lives. They look like t-shirts and long boxer briefs. Now. A hundred years ago they were more like white long johns. You'll be asked to put them on underneath a white poncho thing called a "shield" and then you'll sit in a chair while someone you've probably never met will recite some secret prayers and pretend to touch various parts of your body. Read this. Read the following statement:
“The garment represents sacred covenants. They're supposed to be like the lamb skins God made for Adam and Eve after finding them wearing fig leaves. I bet those were some pretty sweet threads! It fosters modesty and becomes a shield and protection to the wearer. It also fosters the kind of sexual repression that gets you excited about bare shoulders. The "protection" mentioned here is not guaranteed. You'll still want to have dirty sex. You'll still want to punch your sister-in-law's face in. You'll still be vulnerable to gunshots and knife wounds. Basically garments just keep you a little warmer and make shopping a little more difficult. … The garment, covering the body, is a visual and tactile reminder of [covenants made in the temple]. They're also a great reminder that God, who made you in his image, doesn't like you to be naked almost ever. For many Church members the garment has formed a barrier of protection when the wearer has been faced with temptation. Some members have reported seeing devils and even the Great Satan himself shrivel and turn to smoke after trying to touch the sacred garment. Among other things it symbolizes our deep respect for the laws of God—among them the moral standard” When you see yourself in your garments you'll understand why no one wants to have sex with you. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 20, 23).
Ask the assigned class member to summarize how one of the Brethren described the purpose of the temple garment (see Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 20–21, 23). I gave my summary above.
Explain that almost every aspect of the temple ceremony is symbolic. Didn't we already say that? Whatever. I'd like to know what in human society is not symbolic. This means that each person should prepare to be as spiritually sensitive as possible to the symbolic nature of the temple endowment. Why? "Spiritual sensitivity" doesn't help you interpret signs and symbols. Before giving our kids keys to the car we send them to driving classes so they can learn how to read and follow traffic, but when it comes to the temple we just say "pay attention to 'signs'" and essentially never engage with them again on the topic.
  • What could keep a person from being spiritually sensitive in the temple? A disbelief in spirits. Rock and roll music about fast cars. Sleeping through the session. Reading shit blogs about doubting doubts.
Class members might mention such things as the following:
  1. A person may not be worthy. The girl who listens to her little brother masturbating on the other side of the wall will bring that one up. A person who has failed to sincerely repent and has not prepared humbly and prayerfully for the temple will find that the symbols will be lifeless and their meanings will be hidden. This is an amazingly effective distraction commonly known as blaming the victim. You weren't impressed with the temple? That's because you're a dirty sinner!
  2. A person may lack faith. The temple lacks a clean fit in Christian theology and doesn't feel like the Mormonism you've practiced your whole life, so it will take A LOT OF FAITH to accept it as legitimate worship. A person who does not have faith in Jesus Christ and the temple ceremony may not receive the inspiration from the Holy Ghost necessary for understanding the temple endowment. And having lots of faith is no guarantee you'll be inspired either. The temple's a bit of a crap shoot.
  3. A person may focus so much on the outward motions of the ceremonies that he or she may miss the powerful teachings represented by the symbols. The only way to avoid this is to go through the motions frequently. The only way to do that is to attend the temple regularly. You can only attend the temple if you truly believe everything and give the Church your money. They never said it would be cheap they only said it would be worth it a some point after you're dead.
  • How can we prepare to be spiritually sensitive in the temple? Repent and exercise non-stop faith! Oh, and watch the endowment on YouTube.


Point out that those going to the temple for the first time can expect to learn many new things and feel the power of the Lord’s Spirit. At least half the people I talk to (family and friends) say their first time made them wonder if they'd just joined a cult. Encourage class members to prepare themselves spiritually for their temple experience. Remind them that all of what is presented cannot be understood in a single visit. Keep coming back to repeat this thing you don't understand! One day you'll feel like you basically get it, but you won't be too bothered either way because you will have done it so much it feels almost second nature. They should return to the temple as often as possible so they can continue to learn and to renew their spiritual feelings. Come! Do! Like it! You're incomplete if you don't. Your spirit will starve. You won't get blessings. Your family will pay the price. Come! Do! Testify!