Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Forgotten Promise

We may have overlooked a significant promise given us by a prophet of God.
Moroni, writing his own observations in the Book of Ether, had this to say to us, the members of the modern church:

Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up  from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

 And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed. (Ether 4:14–16, italics added for emphasis.)

In these verses, Moroni seems to be saying that the day will come when John’s enigmatic Revelation in the New Testament, also known as the Apocalypse of John, will be fully understood.

Is that possible? Well, if Moroni is to be believed, it must be.

That begs the question, is it understood now? Some Mormons might be tempted to say yes, that Christian ministers and teachers, including some LDS scholars who say essentially the same things, have managed to wrest the intended meaning from John’s peculiar imagery.

Certainly, numerous efforts have been made down through the years to decipher the message John penned two millenia ago. And despite the seeming unanimity Christian scholars appear to have developed regarding its interpretation—including concepts such as the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon and the Antichrist—the fact remains that the Savior told Joseph Smith in his First Vision that none of their teachings were correct. If that was so then, it is equally true now. Furthermore, consensus should never be mistaken for correctness.

Still, far too many church members have failed to perceive that the Lord’s condemnation of Christian doctrine in that First Vision also includes their popular interpretation of John’s prophecy. Again, if they were wrong about prophecy in Joseph Smith’s day, they must still be wrong today because their interpretations of it have changed little. In this author’s opinion, most of them have been misguided.

I have elsewhere noted that many church members and scholars have imprudently adopted the mainstream Christian or Millennialist view of Revelation. This has taken LDS thinking on the subject down a dead end path. Revelation is therefore as much a “sealed book” for us as it is for any Christian scholar.

That leaves thoughtful Latter-day Saints to wonder when and how Moroni’s prophecy will be fulfilled. Will the time come when we can read and fully understand the meaning behind John’s curious and seemingly unfathomable imagery?

Until recently, no methodology has been proposed that would allow anyone to truly “unfold” John’s enigmatic writings. But a way to do so may now be at hand. Clearly, Joseph Smith understood the book. He called it “the plainest book.”

Let me make this bold assertion: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets—both ancient and modern, John’s included—with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read those revelations as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, given the proper training.

How is that possible, you say? Let’s look at this together.

Curiously, the only way to properly and understandingly read John’s writing is, in this author’s opinion, with a thoroughgoing comprehension of the cosmological metaphors he employs. The very element we see as a stumbling block is the key to deciphering the text. This is my assertion: All the enigmatic imagery John used in his great Apocalypse (Revelation) in the New Testament is based in cosmic imagery, the common denominator in all ancient cultures and religions.

We see this cosmic symbolism everywhere in ancient cultures, from their myths and legends to their sacred traditions and religious iconography. Certainly, it is on display for all to see in their monuments, temples and texts. To our eyes, it looks like paganism, the worship of cosmic gods and goddesses, chaos monsters and world threatening dragons. But a careful parsing of those riotous images and conflicting imagery, looking back into the past at the original archetypes and motifs instead of the later variations and elaborations, we discover a commonality that is otherwise hidden. That commonality became the common denominator for prophetic imagery.

As it turns out, John’s seemingly indecipherable book is a missionary tract, intended for investigators and new converts. John rehearsed all the primary themes of ancient religious lore from his day to illustrate how it fit into the new religion of Christ and to lay claim to ancient roots for the new Christian religion. It was a conversion tool, used to persuade pagans who held these cosmic traditions as sacred that Christianity honored, respected and incorporated their former beliefs and traditions, that they were all intended to point to and culminate in Christ.

Revelation, then, is more of a rehearsal of past catastrophic events and the cosmic images that went with them than it is a prediction of the future. There’s where mainstream Christianity went wrong. We believe John was looking primarily to the future in his tome, when he was, instead, looking to the sacred, cosmic traditions of the past.

So, Nibley was right. “Cosmisim,” as he dubbed it, is a key component of the Restored Gospel, just as it is in John’s Revelation. Upon serious consideration, how could it be anything less? We encounter cosmic imagery at every turn in Mormonism: in Doctrine and Covenants, in The Pearl of Great Price (especially there), in the Book of Mormon, in the teaching of Joseph Smith and on the exterior walls of our modern temples and in our sacred endowment. It is the cosmological side of the Restored Gospel.

Yet today’s Mormons eye the concept of sacred symbolism with suspicion and misgivings. Like their Christian cousins, today’s church members, for the most part, see sacred, cosmological symbolism as either inconsequential, having no real merit, or a satanic effort to distract us from the teachings of Christ, a perversion of truth, foreign to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the antithesis of Christianity.

So in that context, would it be heretical to suggest that the revised view of prophetic pronouncements espoused by this author, using cosmological imagery from hoary antiquity, is the very mechanism by which, as Moroni declared, John’s Revelation will be “unfolded in the eyes of all the people”? There is only one way to know for sure: Put it to the test. Study these concepts and then apply them.

 “And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people.”

Isn’t it a bit curious, in light of Moroni’s words, that most Mormons still do not understand John’s Revelation? Yet, with the cosmological key, the book becomes “the plainest book,” as Joseph Smith declared it to be. It can then be read like any other document, word by word, verse by verse, with nearly complete comprehension.

I know this much: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets, with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read Revelation as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, as long as they employ a knowledge of the archetypes and motifs of ancient cosmological imagery.

There are hundreds of Latter-day Saints who can now do so because they have taken the time and made the effort to master the imagery and symbolism of the ancients and the prophets.

Would you care to be one of them?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Prophecy Enigma Solved

Decoding the Prophets’ Symbolism

You may have heard of the Bible Code. This is not about that. In fact, the Bible Code, as portrayed in Christian and pop literature, is a fallacy.

This essay is about a very real code, though it was never meant to be such. It happened quite by accident. You are probably very aware of it, though you’ve probably never thought of it as a code.

This is about the Prophets’ Code: the vocabulary or lexicon used by the prophets that I call the “language of the prophets.” It is characterized by the odd and often bizarre imagery found everywhere in scripture, including latter-day revelation. Examples of this imagery are such things as wheels, candlesticks, monsters or beasts, stars, trumpets and references to arcane ideas such as fire from heaven, the heavens reeling to and fro, the moon turning to blood, Alpha and Omega, the Son of Man and so forth.

So we must ask: Why the use of such symbolic or coded language? Why a Prophets’ Code? Why mystify any of the gospel? Why not simply speak plainly so all can understand?

I maintain that the prophets’ imagery was “plain language” as it was first used and understood. From the days of Adam until the demise of the Savior and his Apostles, it was a common denominator in all ancient cultures, easily comprehended by people who could neither read nor write. But because the means to understand that language has since been systematically erased or expunged from our culture over time, it has become an enigma rather than a teaching tool.

Therein lies a remarkable story.

Codes and keys: deciphering a lost language

A code can be simple or complex. A game of language called “Pig Latin” is an example of a simple code. To use it or understand it, you must have this key: Move the first letter or consonant of each word to the end of that word, and then add an “a” (pronounced “ay”). Thus, the word “store” becomes “orestay,” or the word “happy” becomes “appyhay.” And unless bystanders can figure out the key—that is, decipher the code—they will not understand what is said by those who do have the key.

So the code’s key becomes the solution to the puzzle.

For the sake of clarity, here’s a simple encoded or encrypted text that is sometimes used to baffle the uninitiated.

“How are you? Everything here is fine. Let everyone know that I am well. Please ease their concerns.”

On the face of it, this message seems to indicate that the writer is in no danger and there is no cause for alarm. But once you decipher the code, using the key, it conveys an entirely different message.

Have you detected the key? Can you decipher the message? If so, you know the message is actually a cry for help—literally! By taking only the first letter of each sentence and putting it in the same order it appeared in the original note, we get the word HELP.

Of course, coded messages are typically more complex than that. Some messages are obviously a code because the symbols used are unfamiliar and cryptic, or the text appears scrambled. Others appear to be legitimate texts, like our little example, because they can be read quite easily. In that case, it isn’t even obvious that it is an encoded message at all, as is the case with the Prophets’ Code.

In every case, one must have the key—sometimes a combination of keys—to decipher a code. Thus, it’s safe to say that where codes are concerned, the “key” unlocks the message.

Coded language

Deciphering an unknown language, such as the Prophets’ Code, is much like decoding an encrypted message.

A good example of this is the Mayan codices. The anthropologists and linguists who are working to decipher the Mayan hieroglyphs have literally been deciphering a code, plain and simple. The very word for their writing indicates that: codices.

The Mayans didn’t intend their writing system to be a code. In fact, for them it was just the opposite. It was their way of recording and presenting their cultural, traditional and religious beliefs. All Mayans could easily “read” it.

It is the passage of time and the inevitable forgetting that comes with it that makes a once-familiar writing or teaching system into a mystery, a code. For them, it was commonplace; for us, it’s an enigma.

The prophets, the apostles and the Savior didn’t invent the Prophets’ Code. They weren’t trying to hide anything. Instead, they were using a well-established, time-honored system of sacred metaphors and symbols from their contemporary cultures to teach the gospel.

Confirmation of the key

Once the proper key is applied to its code, the message it translates becomes clear. The moment that happens, it’s obvious to all concerned that the applied key is the correct one. Thus, the key’s ability to fully interpret or translate a message confirms its validity. Put plainly, it is its own proof.

Nowhere is all this truer than in our attempt to decode the prophets’ message. And it also serves to point out the shortcomings in flawed interpretations so prevalent in Christianity today. When the key is applied—or keys in this case—the message can be read in its entirety, word for word. There are no garbled or incomprehensible segments and there is no need to take bits and pieces out of context to build an interpretation, as do all our Christian cousins.

The long-lost key

So, what is the key to the Prophet’s Code? Cosmology--the events and images projected on Earth’s ancient heavens by electrified plasmas and nearby planetary orbs generating effects and phenomena seen and experienced by all mankind. These were recorded in stone, art, ritual and tradition by the ancients, which then gave rise to the major themes or motifs of all cultures.

Those themes, called metaphors or motifs and their graphic counterparts, the icons or images, became the archetypes for all sacred expression in cultures worldwide. These were handed down from generation to generation, carefully and faithfully preserved as their sacred history.

How history became a code

An explanation of how plain language became a code can be found, of all places, in the vision of Nephi, the one I call “The History Lesson.” (1 Nephi 13.)

He is shown by an angel that the Gospel—“the words of a book”-- would first be corrupted by the Gentiles and then further defiled by “that great and abominable church.”

When we look at secular or profane history, we see just what Nephi described. First the Catholic Church rejected many texts that may have contained authentic teachings of the Savior and the apostles. It’s also apparent from textual comparison that there were many alterations and changes made by these “Gentiles.”

Hence, modern Christianity is based almost entirely on doctrine from only a few texts the Catholic fathers preferred. Actually, it’s quite likely that they chose poorly in some cases because they were not guided by revelation, as were the Apostles. These few canonical texts are thought to contain all that’s needed to be a true disciple.

Later, in the Reformation, many splinter groups broke off from the Catholic. This was the Protestant movement that saw the advent of Lutherans, Calvinists and the Church of England, among others. Like their Catholic predecessors, none of the Protestant churches claimed revelation. Hence, they embraced the same canon that the Catholics had settled upon centuries earlier, though they interpreted it somewhat differently.

At about the same time, one group denounced formal religion altogether. They embraced the doctrines of skepticism, rationalism and empiricism. They rejected both the sacred canon and the teachings of Christianity as “myths,” the product of irrational, foolish minds.

But they embraced the Catholic educational system, the “university” with all its liturgical trappings and degrees of indoctrination—once called “priesthood.” These accouterments include the robes once worn in sacred settings, the cap and gown used in commencement exercises—what Nibley famously called “the robes of false priesthood.”

They created an alternate creation story, their own version of Genesis, which they later called “the Big Bang.” They fashioned their own apostles: Lyell, Hutton, Darwin, Newton and later, Einstein.

This was the Science Church, though it refused to be equated with normative religion, casting itself as the antithesis of religion. And that is the key: It is a religion, complete with its own dogma and hierarchy. Nephi saw it for what it was and correctly referred to it as a “church.” He called it “the great and abominable church”—“great” because it infiltrated all cultures the world over, “abominable” because its doctrine denied Christ and his Gospel.

The result

As a consequence of these two major influences on Christianity, as predicted by Nephi, we can come to only one conclusion: The most common cultural and religious motifs of antiquity are unknown and unrecognized in our day and age for what they truly represent. We either misinterpret them, or we are blind to them, though they surround us. If we recognize them at all, we label them “mysteries” and then dismiss them as inexplicable. They exist in our cultural traditions and customs—even our language—and they are especially prevalent in our religions.

The result: What was once a clear and unmistakable system of related ideas is now a mystery, a conundrum, a secret and impenetrable code. According to secular and sectarian authorities, they are nothing more than “myth,” “legend,” “fairy tales” or “paganism,” having virtually nothing to do with the real world or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So too the icons that were meant to recall and explain the imagery of all ancient culture and tradition.

Deciphering the Prophets’ Code

The good news is this: You can learn the Prophets’ Code. You can read the scriptural imagery that has heretofore completely baffled you. One need not be a prophet or even a scriptorian to read the prophets’ messages and completely understand them, without the confusion and frustration you’ve encountered in the past.

A whole new world of knowledge and understanding will open to you. You’ll see the scriptures afresh, with a entirely new perspective on the past and the future. The most enigmatic passages and visions in biblical texts—from Genesis, to Ezekiel, to Isaiah, to Revelation—and modern revelation—from Doctrine and Covenants to the Pearl of Great Price—will become as child’s play to read.

Without sounding self-serving or self-important, I suggest that you avail yourself of the information provided by this author to further your understanding of the prophets’ messages. You will benefit from my many years of study and research that now offer a unique and comprehensive understanding of the Prophets’ Code.

Read the scriptures as easily as you would read a newspaper or magazine.

Your best resource and guide is this website: I hope you will make a point of visiting. It will be my privilege to be your guide.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Author's Note:
This article was published on in June, 2012. I thought readers of this blog would be interested in the relevance to pop culture and its influence on the motion picture industry.

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s official, apparently. The movie “The Avengers” has broken all box office records, making it the all-time, most popular movie. Audiences are blown away by the action-packed battles between good and evil, and between the egomaniacal characters themselves.

So, why all this escalating interest in comic book heroes and primeval gods? How did fantastic tales of superheroes battling aliens and mythic gods warring with one another as well as chaos monsters grow in popularity to eclipse all other movie genera?

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The Avengers

In the waning decades of the last century, comic book superheroes had nearly disappeared from the cultural milieu, and reading of the Greek classics such as Homer’s "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" had long since vanished from education’s curricula. So why all the renewed interest in a species of entertainment that had all but disappeared in the latter part of the last century?

Looking back, perhaps we can see why and what it says about our day and time.

Ancient Superheroes

It’s obvious to all who have dabbled in mythology that these crusaders are modern, technological reincarnations of the cosmic gods and monsters of antiquity. Their quarrelsome, contentious natures — "Transformers" being the best modern example — are obviously derived from their counterparts in ancient mythology. Consider Zeus and his band of misfit Titans, incessantly plotting and scheming against one another when they aren’t actually in open, armed conflict.

While such tales of cosmic chaos, where gods and monsters do battle in the heavens, are universal in ancient lore and cultures worldwide, we get our best glimpse of these interplanetary loners, persecutors and tyrants from the Greek tradition.

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The Hydra

In fact, the name for the very place where we go today to witness these horrific spectacles derives from the Greek word for goddess, “thea.” The Greeks called the battles of their sky gods “theomachy,” and government by the gods “theocracy.” Thus, “theater” meant a place for witnessing the exploits of the ancient gods. Their adventures were also rehearsed up close and personal in the rites and rituals enacted in sacred precincts such as temples, henges, kivas and pyramids. Each initiate actually participated ritually in the daring acts or missteps of the gods, goddesses and monsters — some few involuntarily, as in the Aztec ritual of human sacrifice.In Greek custom, the traditional clashes of the gods were rehearsed by actors on a stage using the best special effects they could muster. Gods, beasts and monsters entered the stage in elaborate, sometimes grotesque costume. Their special effects included the roaring sound of battle, theomachy, which could be heard as crude mechanical monstrosities such as Hydra, the serpent like monster with multiple heads, appeared as if from out of nowhere to engage the god and demigod actors on stage.

In fact, the very basis for most of our fiction centers on the confrontation of the villain and the hero, a universal theme in ancient lore.

Modern theater employs an upgraded version of Greek theater, with eye-popping special effects, emotive sound effects and dynamic musical orchestrations — all produced at ear-splitting, mind-boggling levels for added psychological effect. The surreal theomachy of these bullies is spectacularly recreated and take theater to a whole new emotional level.

But make no mistake: Though the Greeks’ efforts were crude by our standards, they had no less an effect on ancient audiences than modern technology allows movie creators to inflict on us. The ancients reacted the same way we do: We enjoy it!

While it takes us on an emotional roller coaster and fills us with dread and astonishment, it also fills deep-seated emotional and psychological needs. Any psychologist worth his salt will tell you that they’re a reflection of the uncertain world we see around us and the anxiety we feel as a result.


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Modern Heroes

The comic book versions of these gods, goddesses and monsters, those we called “action heroes,” and the crude science fiction movie genre that exploded onto the big screen in the aftermath of the Second World War alleviated the doomsday anxiety of a generation of Americans that had seen genocide in that conflict and lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation. Their common storyline involved an effort to set right a world threatened by everything from petty criminals to maniacal tyrants to malevolent aliens from other worlds and dimensions.When the heroes in comic books or the silver screen defeated the villains, it was reassuring. The world seemed less menacing, less overwhelming. It was escapism, a subconscious effort to assure ourselves that all could be made right in an otherwise uncertain, chaotic and threatening world.

Perhaps looking at it from the perspective of another culture will help clarify.

In the wake of nuclear events that leveled most of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese culture invented Godzilla, a fire-breathing dragon stirred from its tomb by the belligerent behavior of the human race and its abuse of technology. He is the incarnation of the mythic dragons of yesteryear. His more recent silver screen counterparts include the monsters from "Alien," "Predator" and even Hollywood's latest take on the monster from the epic poem "Beowulf."

Future Heroes

By extrapolation then, we conclude that the resurgence of this motion picture category in recent years resides in our collective experience, just as it was with the Japanese. So, too, with the ancients, experiencing the problematic nature of the human condition, sought emotional and psychological refuge in ritual sublimation and escapism.

The trigger that spurred the resurgence of heroic and deific cinemas in recent years was the horrific collapse of the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and the struggle to defeat terrorism. Now, our superheroes, gods, monsters, dragons and demigods have emerged once again on the movie screen with a vengeance. And with the impact imparted by computer-enhanced special effects, these hero- based epics are spectacular and action-packed.

This being the case, one may be forgiven for making a couple of predictions.

If world tensions ease, the popularity of this variety of motion pictures will diminish to the same degree. But if world tensions continue or escalate, it will become even more prevalent, popular and graphic. But more than that, the time may come when the pacifying effects of such movies will not be enough. Like our ancestors, if the provocation to re-enact becomes great enough, the urge will be seen in the streets. Modern society will seek ways to inflict this chaos. We will become suffering actors in our own caustic drama.