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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. Wikipedia
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- New Temple Site Locations Announced in Three Western US Statesby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 10, 2021 at 12:00 am
Salt Lake City | Thursday, 10 June 2021 | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released the locations of three temples announced in April 2021 by Church President Russell M. Nelson.
- The North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square Will Be Replaced With Gardens and Contemplative Spaceby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 10, 2021 at 12:00 am
Salt Lake City | Thursday, 10 June 2021 | The North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square will be demolished later this year as part of the ongoing Salt Lake Temple renovation project.
- Groundbreaking Date Announced for Helena Montana Templeby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 9, 2021 at 12:00 am
Salt Lake City | Wednesday, 09 June 2021 |
- Temple Square Is Reopening to the Public This Summerby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 8, 2021 at 12:00 am
Salt Lake City | Tuesday, 08 June 2021 | Temple Square, one of Utah’s top tourist attractions, will begin a phased reopening on June 14. The Conference Center will be the first to welcome guests, with additional facilities to follow in coming months.
- As COVID-19 Restrictions Ease, Here’s How the Church Is Reopeningby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 8, 2021 at 12:00 am
Salt Lake City | Tuesday, 08 June 2021 | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is following the lead of governments and healthcare professionals around the world as a it considers a measured return to normal operating procedures disrupted by COVID-19.
- 10 Things You Did Not Know About the Book of Mormon Witnessesby Neal Rappleye on June 11, 2021 at 6:00 am
Post contributed by Neal RappleyeJune 11, 2021Google Plus One Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook As Joseph Smith finished the translation of the Book of Mormon, three of his closest supporters—Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer—were chosen by revelation as special witnesses of the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants 17). An angel showed them the golden plates from which the book was translated (Testimony of Three Witnesses). In addition, eight others were permitted to see and handle the plates and testify of their reality (Testimony of Eight Witnesses). With the recently released Witnesses film now in theaters telling the story of the Three Witnesses on the big screen for the first time, many are interested in learning more about the lives and contributions of the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Here are 10 things you may not have heard before about the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. 1. Martin Harris Bore Testimony of the Plates in a Court of Law Martin Harris is often best remembered for losing 116 manuscript pages of the early translation of the Book of Mormon. Those pages were never retranslated, so their contents are absent from the Book of Mormon to this day. But Martin Harris did much more to contribute to bringing forth the Book of Mormon than many realize, and deserves to be remembered for more of his positive contributions. For example, Martin sold most of his farm in Palmyra (about 150 acres) to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon. One of the lesser known stories about Martin Harris is that before he even saw the plates he actually testified of them during a legal proceeding. In March 1829, Martin’s wife Lucy Harris organized the people of Palmyra in opposition to Joseph Smith, bringing a legal suit against him for defrauding the people. Martin knew he would be asked to testify during this trial, so went to Joseph seeking a witness of the plates. Martin did not get to see the plates at that time, but the Lord revealed for the first time that there would be three witnesses and promised Martin that he could be chosen as one of them if he humbled himself (D&C 5). This gave Martin the assurance he needed, and at the trial he testified “And as to the plates which [Joseph Smith] professes to have, gentlemen, if you do not believe it, but continue to resist the truth, it will one day be the means of damning your souls.” KnoWhy 504 What Can We All Learn about Repentance from the Tragic Loss of the 116 Book of Mormon Pages? KnoWhy 452 What Was on the Lost 116 Pages? KnoWhy 597 Why Was Martin Harris Needed to Pay for the Printing of the Book of Mormon? 2. David Whitmer’s Fields Were Miraculously Plowed As Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were translating the Book of Mormon in Harmony, Pennsylvania, they began to face stern opposition. Oliver Cowdery wrote to his friend David Whitmer asking if they could finish the translation at the Whitmer farm in Fayette, New York. David wanted to help but needed to stay and finish plowing the fields before he left. But, the next day, when David went out to begin his work he found that several acres of land had miraculously been plowed. No one in the Whitmer family knew who had done the labor, but they took it as a sign from God that they should assist Joseph Smith in his work. David immediately traveled the 100 miles from Fayette to Harmony to meet Joseph and bring him and Oliver back to the Whitmer farm. KnoWhy 488 The Simple Miracle That Helped the Whitmers Further the Book of Mormon KnoWhy 395 Why Is David Whitmer’s Witness of the Book of Mormon So Compelling? 3. The Three Witnesses Talked Back to the Lord During their vision of the angel and the plates, the Three Witnesses heard the voice of the Lord command them to “bear record” of their vision and of the truth of the translation as published in the Book of Mormon. According to David Whitmer, however, they were reluctant to do so, and even talked back to the Lord when he issued the command. Oliver reportedly “demurred and told the Lord the people would not believe” their testimony, due to a lack of evidence for “a people who were educated and refined, dwelling in large cities” as described in the Book of Mormon. The Lord promised them “that He would make it known to the people, and people should discover the ruins of the lost cities and abundant evidence of the truth of what is written in the Book.” In the ensuing years, ruins of large cities and civilizations were discovered in ancient Mesoamerica, and David Whitmer believed these fulfilled the Lord’s promise given to him and the other witnesses on that occasion. KnoWhy 596 Why Did the Lord Command the Three Witnesses to Rely upon His Word? 4. Oliver Cowdery was Briefly the Vice President of the Bank of Monroe (in Michigan) Many are aware that after leaving the Church, Oliver Cowdrey practiced law. Lesser known are the many roles and professions he took on in order to contribute to the Restoration. During his time in the Church Oliver was a scribe, newspaper printer, a writer, a justice of the peace, and more. An especially little-known fact is that he was briefly a banker in 1837. In 1836, an increasing number of converts were moving to Kirtland in need of land and work, and the Church had accrued significant debts building the Kirtland temple and managing business ventures. To alleviate these pressures, the Church launched a bank called the Kirtland Safety Society in early 1837. This banking endeavor faced several challenges and eventually was shut down later that year. One of the difficulties was getting a legal charter from the Ohio legislature to operate a bank. After their first attempt at getting a charter was rejected, Church leaders tried another strategy: they bought controlling interest in the Bank of Monroe in Michigan territory, with plans to operate the Kirtland Safety Society as a branch of that bank, because it had a legally recognized charter. As part of the merger, Oliver Cowdery was appointed as the vice president of the Bank of Monroe and briefly served in that capacity before the 1837 banking crisis forced most banks across the country, including the Bank of Monroe, to close. KnoWhy 270 How Important was Oliver Cowdery in Bringing Forth the Book of Mormon? KnoWhy 604 Why Did the Kirtland Safety Society Fail? 5. After Leaving the Church, Martin Harris Still Defended the Book of Mormon from Kirtland Dissenters Despite his early faith and important contributions, Martin Harris was “cut off” from the Church in 1837. As many know, he still did not deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, despite being “at variance with Joseph [Smith].” Few know, however, that he specifically defended the Book of Mormon in a meeting with fellow dissenters from the Church. Martin was not the only one cut off from the Church in late 1837. A whole group of dissenters led by Warren Parrish believed that Joseph Smith and the Church had lost their way, and these detractors sought to restore the “old standard” in the church. Martin was initially part of their group and given a leadership role within the new church they founded. But in a meeting held in March 1838, leading figures in this movement “renounced the Book of Mormon.” Despite the social pressures to go along with his new peers, “M[artin] Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true.” He parted ways with those dissenters and continued to affirm the truth of the Book of Mormon over the years. KnoWhy 606 Why Was Martin Harris Cut Off from the Church? Fireside on the Book of Mormon Witnesses Watch a free, virtual fireside on the Book of Mormon Witnesses by retired BYU Professor Susan Easton Black. Watch June 13, 2021, 6pm 6. David Whitmer Eventually Started his Own Church Among the reasons for David Whitmer’s excommunication was the fact that some believed he was the successor to Joseph Smith, and were pushing him to take over the Church in 1837–1838, because they alleged Joseph was a fallen prophet. Even after David Whitmer’s excommunication, some continued to believe he was the rightful successor to Joseph Smith. In 1847, after Joseph Smith’s death, former apostle William E. McLellin tried to get David Whitmer to lead a newly organized church, but David did not believe the time was right. It was not until the 1870s that David Whitmer took action to form his own “Whitmerite” church, which initially consisted of just his extended Whitmer family and close friends and neighbors. It eventually expanded to 750 members before slowly fading out in the 20th century. David’s church was small, but they believed in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and David never denied his testimony of the angel and the plates. KnoWhy 608 Why Was David Whitmer Excommunicated from the Church? KnoWhy 609 Why Did David Whitmer Never Return to the Church? 7. After Leaving the Church, Oliver Cowdery Regularly Corresponded with His Brother-in-Law, Apostle Phineas Young A few months after Martin Harris was cut off from the Church, a disciplinary hearing was held regarding Oliver Cowdery’s conduct and he was excommunicated. Initially after separating from the Church, Oliver Cowdery may have felt some resentment, but before long sources reported that he was “friendly” toward the Saints. In 1842, he was visited by Phineas Young, husband to Oliver’s half-sister Lucy. After several conversations with Oliver, Phineas reported to his brother Brigham Young that Oliver’s heart “is still with his old friends.” Over the next several years, Phineas and Oliver had regular correspondence wherein Oliver was candid and open about his concerns and frustrations, but also clearly expressed his yearning desire to return to full fellowship with the Saints. For example, in an 1846 letter he explained that he was frustrated by false charges leveled against him during his excommunication, because he wanted to ensure that “those who might believe in my testimony” of early Restoration events “might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony.” Throughout his correspondence with Phineas and members of the Twelve, Oliver was friendly and warm toward the Saints, and offered to assist them in legal and political matters. Relations with Oliver were friendly enough by 1843 that Joseph instructed the Twelve in to invite Oliver to rejoin the Church and go with Orson Hyde on his mission to Jerusalem. Although Oliver did not reunite with the Saints at that time, the friendly correspondence with Phineas Young over the years helped prepare the way for Oliver’s return in 1848. KnoWhy 603 Why Was Oliver Cowdery Excommunicated from the Church? KnoWhy 605 Why Did Oliver Cowdery Come Back to the Church? 8. Martin Harris Testified of the Book of Mormon in England Many people know that Martin Harris came out to Utah and rejoined the Church in 1870. Few people are aware of the events that transpired between the time Martin was “cut off” from the Church and his return. In fact, many do not know that Martin was initially rebaptized into the Church in 1842. After the death of Joseph Smith, however, Martin briefly accepted James Strang as the prophetic successor rather than Brigham Young and the Twelve. As a member of the Strangite Church, Martin went on a mission to England in 1846–1847. While there, he boldly testified of the Book of Mormon, and specifically of seeing the angel and the plates, but he would not support the specific claims of James Strang. Due to this, Strangite apostle Lester Brooks sent Martin home after just a few months. Thanks to this short mission trip, however, Martin became the only one of the Three Witnesses to testify outside of North America. KnoWhy 607 Why Did Martin Harris Come Back to the Church? 9. Mary Whitmer was Also Shown the Plates by a Divine Messenger In addition to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, David’s mother Mary Whitmer was also shown the plates by a divine messenger. In fact, she was the first person beside Joseph Smith to actually see the record. While Joseph and Oliver were living with the Whitmer’s and translating the Book of Mormon, their presence added an extra burden of labor onto the Whitmer matriarch. Sometimes she felt the young Prophet and scribe could do more to assist around the house and farm. One morning, as she was out in the barn doing her chores, thinking that Joseph and Oliver could pitch in a bit more, “carry her a bucket of water or chop a bit of wood” when they took breaks from translating, a stranger carrying a sort of knapsack approached. “[H]e spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone, and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, and she was filled with inexpressible joy and satisfaction.” He then opened the knapsack, revealing the golden plates, and “turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them.” He encouraged her “to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer” and promised her blessings in return. KnoWhy 455 What Does Mary Whitmer Teach Us About Enduring Trials? 10. Others Also Saw, Hefted, and Handled the Plates In addition to the Three Witnesses, there were others who saw the plates. Foremost among these are the Eight Witnesses, who saw and handled the plates uncovered and under perfectly ordinary, non-miraculous circumstances. Lesser known to many are the “unofficial” witnesses, who typically did not see the plates directly, but hefted and handled them while covered and could tell by their physical examination that the object Joseph Smith possessed was a set of metal plates. For example, Emma Smith helped Joseph Smith retrieve the plates and assisted Joseph as a scribe. During that time, she sometimes moved the covered plates around the house as she was cleaning. She once thumbed the edges, and felt that the individual plates were “pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound.” KnoWhy 54 Who Are the “Few” Who Were Permitted to See the Plates? KnoWhy 386 How Did Emma Smith Help Bring Forth the Book of Mormon? KnoWhy 521 Did the Book of Mormon Witnesses Really See What They Claimed? Learning More These 10 lesser-known facts about the Book of Mormon Witnesses are just the tip of the iceberg—historical research has revealed a wealth of information on the men and women who saw, handled, and hefted the Book of Mormon plates. Sunday, June 13, Susan Easton Black, retired Church History professor and co-author of the definitive biography on Martin Harris, is giving a free virtual fireside on the Three Witnesses. Join us that evening to learn many more enriching stories about their lives, sacrifices, and testimonies. Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries We respect your email privacy DONATE TagsBook of Mormon WitnessesWitnessesOliver CowderyMartin HarrisDavid WhitmerJoseph SmithBook of MormonChurch HistoryDoctrine and CovenantsCome Follow Me
- Free, Virtual Fireside: Susan Easton Black on the Book of Mormon Witnessesby BMC Team on June 9, 2021 at 6:00 am
Post contributed by BMC TeamJune 9, 2021Google Plus One Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook This Sunday, June 13, Retired BYU professor Susan Easton Black will present a free, virtual fireside on the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Details When: Sunday, June 13, 2021. 6:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time Where: Doctrine and Covenants Central YouTube Channel The Book of Mormon witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and others—are important figures in Church History and they corroborate irreplacable evidence for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. While many Latter-day Saints may be familiar with the origins of the Book of Mormon and the basic stories of the witnesses, their complex and under-represented lives have much to teach about faith and perserverence in the face of persecution and doubt. Susan Easton Black taught Church History and Doctrine at BYU for 32 years. She was the first woman hired as a full-time faculty member in the College of Religious Education. She received the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Award in 2000, the first woman at BYU to be so honored. A popular speaker and prolific writer, Susan Easton Black has authored or co-authored more than 2 dozen books including: Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants 4 titles in her Glorious Truths series 4 titles in her 400 Questions and Answers series The Other Martyr: Insights from the Life of Hyrum Smith Joseph: Exploring the Life and Ministry of the Prophet co-authored with Andrew Skinner, and Finding Christ Through the Book of Mormon Of particular interest to her fireside topic is the 2018 book she co-authored with Larry Porter: Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon. The mother of 3, Susan Easton Black is currently married to George Durrant. They have served several missions together including a season as writers for the Church Curriculum Department. This year Susan has been part of the Doctrine and Covenants Central team, authoring more than 130 concise biographies as well as a series of insights from each section in the text. To learn more about the various witnesses of the Book of Mormon, explore Book of Mormon Central’s collection of KnoWhy articles. KnoWhy 267 Why Were Three Key Witnesses Chosen to Testify of the Book of Mormon? KnoWhy 608 Why Was David Whitmer Excommunicated from the Church? KnoWhy 607 Why Did Martin Harris Come Back to the Church? KnoWhy 606 Why Was Martin Harris Cut Off from the Church? KnoWhy 605 Why Did Oliver Cowdery Come Back to the Church? KnoWhy 603 Why Was Oliver Cowdery Excommunicated from the Church? KnoWhy 604 Why Did the Kirtland Safety Society Fail? KnoWhy 602 Why Did John Whitmer Continue to Testify of the Book of Mormon? KnoWhy 600 Why Was Peter Whitmer Jr. Chosen to Witness the Gold Plates? KnoWhy 599 Why Did Hiram Page Remain Faithful to the Book of Mormon? KnoWhy 596 Why Did the Lord Command the Three Witnesses to Rely upon His Word? KnoWhy 521 Did the Book of Mormon Witnesses Really See What They Claimed? Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries We respect your email privacy DONATE TagsEventsFiresideWitnessesBook of Mormon WitnessesChurch History
- “Worlds Without Number”: Hugh Nibley on Science and Religionby Jeff Bradshaw on May 20, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Post contributed by Jeff BradshawMay 20, 2021Google Plus One Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook This is the eighth of nine weekly blog posts published in honor of the life and work of Hugh Nibley (1910–2005). The series is in honor of the new, landmark book, Hugh Nibley Observed, available in softcover, hardback, digital, and audio editions. Each week our post is accompanied by interviews and insights in pdf, audio, and video formats. (See the links at the end of this post.) Somehow, in addition to his continual immersion in ancient records and the pressing religious and social issues of the day, Hugh Nibley managed to keep up with important new developments in an impressive range of scientific subjects: cosmology, physics, and brain science — to name but a few of his chief interests. And one of his lesser-known gems is an essay entitled “Science Fiction and the Gospel.” The expansive framework of the Restored Gospel accommodated new findings in nearly all of these fields without a hitch. However, on the subjects of death before the Fall of Adam and Eve and the origins of humankind, faithful members sometimes disagreed.1 Leaders and members of the Church who made statements strongly expressing the view that no death existed on earth before the Fall generally were not intrinsically unsympathetic to science, but naturally resisted any views that might be seen as compromising authoritatively expressed doctrines relating to the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. Likewise, scientifically-trained leaders and members were not typically seeking to subordinate the claims of faith to the program of science, but understandably desired to circumscribe their understanding of truth into “one great whole.”2 In this regard, Elder Harold B. Lee, a staunch advocate of the idea that there was no death before the Fall, spoke approvingly of a story recounted by Latter-day Saint scientist Harvey Fletcher about President Joseph F. Smith’s reply to questions posed to him at BYU about the topic of evolution:3 After listening patiently, he replied: “Brethren, I don’t know very much about science. It has not been my privilege to study… deeply… any of the sciences, but this I do know, that God lives, and that His Son instituted this church here upon the earth for the salvation of men. Now brethren, you have that testimony, and I’ve heard you bear it. It’s your job to try and see how these seeming difficulties can be overcome.” Consistent with this charge by President Smith, Hugh Nibley, a very well-read amateur scientist, and a faithful disciple-scholar, occasionally stepped into the fray. A. Noël Pisano: Negative of Hand and Red Dots, Cavern of Pech-Merle. Cabarets, France, original made ca. 23,000 BC,; B. Seven Hands, Cavern of Pech-Merle, Cabarets, France. A well-honed technique allowed negativse of the hands, surrounded by symbols whose meaning is now is lost to us, to be preserved tens of thousands of years later as ancient snapshots, the sole remaining memories of the lives of these individuals. Hugh Nibley, with his deep love of God’s creatures,4 had great sympathy for the ancient individuals about whom so much evidence had been discovered and authoritatively dated to long periods that antedated Bible history. He pondered long and hard about how their stories might fit in with those of Adam and Eve. For a thoughtful perspective on this issue, we can do no better than to cite him directly:5 The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, in his Essay on the Christian System, said that the two fatal flaws of Christianity were (1) denying spirit and mind to any other creatures but ourselves and (2) allowing life on no other world but our own. … This … should be no concern [for us]. … It is Adam as my own parent who concerns me. When he walks onto the stage, then and only then the play begins. He opens a book and starts calling out names. They are the sons of Adam, who also qualify as the sons of God, Adam himself being a son of God. This is the book of remembrance from which many have been blotted out. Is the Bible a comprehensive history of every individual and creature that has ever lived on earth? By way of analogy, it should be remembered that the Book of Mormon, as a history of those who were Nephites by lineage or “adoption,” records only incidentally the story of the Lamanites and their associates.6 So also the Book of Moses tells us very little about the history of the Cainites or of the children of Adam that were born before Cain and Abel7 who “followed Satan by choice and were disqualified as sons of God.”8 The account instead focuses on the inauguration of temple ordinances among the righteous, which began, as Nibley indicates, “when God set them apart, gave them a blessing, gave them a new name, [and] registered them in the new Book of the Generations of Adam.”9 In light of what scripture tells us, how do we account for the results of genetic studies indicating that every person who has ever lived on earth is descended from a common population of, perhaps, 10,000 founders who lived 100,000 to 150,000 years ago — long before Adam and Eve entered mortality?10 Drawing on the richer sources of scripture produced through modern revelation, Nibley raised a series of questions with an eye to finding scriptural support for surviving non-Adamic and non-Noachian lineages that might help explain such findings: What about those people who lived before Cain and Abel?11 What about those who disappeared from sight?12 What about those who were not even warned of the Flood?13 … What about the comings and goings of Enoch’s day between the worlds?14 Who were his people … ?15 … What about the creatures we do not see around us?16 Speaking of Noah, … “the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come.”17 Methuselah boasted about his line as something special.18 Why special if it included the whole human race? These blessings have no meaning if all the people of the earth and all the nations are the seed of Noah and Enoch. What other line could the Messiah come through? Well, there were humans who were not invited by Enoch’s preaching.19 Nibley no doubt was wondering whether some of these shadowy peoples described in scripture might be neither descendants of Noah nor of Adam but rather distantly related contemporaries whose descendants may have mixed at various times with the Adamic lineage.20 Fortunately, as Ryan Parr reminds us, blessings promised through of descendance from patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are to be ultimately confirmed through the keeping of covenants associated with the sealing ordinances, not by genetics, since specific “nuclear DNA finding its way from any one of these progenitors to any descendant of today is extremely unlikely from a biological perspective.”21 In other words, the promises made to the faithful posterity of the patriarchs are not about inheriting fragments of Abrahamic DNA but rather about receiving a fulness of Abrahamic blessings, ultimate assured through one’s faithfulness.22 Otherwise, the doctrines that describe the possibility of adoption into the Abrahamic lineage would be meaningless.23 For all these reasons, Nibley encouraged us to keep an open mind. He knew firsthand that God’s heart and mind are “wide as eternity”24 and that His work to infuse the universe with lasting happiness extends to every one of His creatures:25 Do not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God’s affection or even a right to exaltation — for our scriptures allow them such. Nor am I overly concerned as to just when they might have lived, for their world is not our world. They have all gone away long before our people ever appeared. God assigned them their proper times and functions, as He has given me mine — a full-time job that admonishes me to remember His words to the overly eager Moses: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.”26 *** This week, we are pleased to include two short video remembrances about Hugh Nibley, newly recounted by Rebecca Nibley, his daughter. The first video, “Reading with My Dad,” recounts touching scenes of an affectionate father who loved to bond with his young children through unusual reading traditions. The second video, “Movie Night with Dad,” shares a poignant father-daughter conversation after a local viewing of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” The film raised concerns for Rebecca about the former restrictions that prevented men of African descent from being ordained to the priesthood. His full answer to these concerns was not given till one year later. In addition, an Insight entitled “Hugh Nibley’s Love For God’s Creation” is embedded in video form below, along with a more complete podcast and pdf transcript that are available for listening or download. The video examines the roots of that love in childhood memories and experiences as a father, and his later efforts to define and model what it means to be a steward over God’s earth and His creatures. References 500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Viruses Found in Modern Human DNA — (Did We Interbreed?) (November 19, 2013). In The Daily Galaxy. http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/11/-500000-year-old-neanderthal-viruses-found-in-modern-human-dna-did-we-interbreed-share-a-language-ge.html. (accessed November 20, 2013). Bailey, David H., Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John H. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith, and Michael L. Stark, eds. Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man. Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposia 1. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016. https://archive.org/details/CosmosEarthAndManscienceAndMormonism1/160111-scienceAndMormonism1-s. (accessed May 17, 2021). Callaway, Ewen. 2013. Ancient Humans had sex with mystery species, new DNA study shows (November 19, 2013). In Huffington Post (Science). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/ancient-humans-sex-mystery-species-dna_n_4302031.html. (accessed November 20, 2013). Collins, Francis S. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. New York City, NY: Free Press, 2006. Funderburg, Lise. “The changing face of America.” National Geographic, October 2013, 80-91. Hunter, Howard W. The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1997. Interbreeding?: The relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals. In Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics/ancient-dna-and-neanderthals/interbreeding. (accessed November 20, 2013). Lee, Harold B. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1996. Nibley, Hugh W. 1972. “Man’s dominion or subduing the earth.” In Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 13, 3-22. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994. ———. 1980. “Before Adam.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 49-85. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986. ———. 1986. “Return to the temple.” In Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, 42-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1992. https://mi.byu.edu/book/temple-and-cosmos/. (accessed August 21, 2020). Parr, Ryan. “Missing the boat to ancient America… just plain missing the boat.” The FARMS Review 17, no. 1 (2005): 83-106. Sorenson, John L. An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1985. Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015. 1. See D. H. Bailey et al., Science and Mormonism for a well-rounded and extensive survey by faithful Latter-day Saint scientists and scholars on relevant subjects, including an extensive collection of statements by Church leaders. 2. H. W. Hunter, Teachings 1997, 30 August 1984, p. 182. 3. H. B. Lee, Teachings 1996, 6 June 1953, p. 340. See also ibid.. 4. See, e.g., H. W. Nibley, Dominion. 5. H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, pp. 50, 51, 83. 6. J. L. Sorenson, Ancient, pp. 50-56. 7. Moses 5:12, 16. 8. H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, p. 78 and Moses 7:33, 37. 9. H. W. Nibley, Return, pp. 62-63 and Moses 5:5-9. Cf. Revelation 20:12. 10. For example, F. S. Collins, Language, p. 126 writes: “Population geneticists, whose discipline involves the use of mathematical tools to reconstruct the history of populations for animals, plants, or bacteria, look at … facts about the human genome and conclude that they point to all members of our species having descended from a common set of founders, approximately 10,000 in number, who lived about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago. This information fits well with the fossil record, which in turn places the location of those founding ancestors most likely in East Africa.” Collins (ibid., pp. 125-126) draws out an implication of this finding: “At the DNA level, we are all 99.9 percent identical. That similarity applies regardless of which two individuals from around the world you choose to compare. Thus, by DNA analysis, we humans are truly part of one family. This remarkably low genetic diversity distinguishes us from most other species on the planet, where the DNA diversity is ten or sometimes even fifty times greater than our own. An alien visitor sent here to examine life forms on earth might have many interesting things to say about humankind, but most certainly he would comment on the suprisingly low level of genetic diversity within our species. Collins is noted for his leadership of the Human Genome Project. Currently, he is director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A critic of both Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design, he is a proponent of theistic evolution or evolutionary creation, and describes himself as a “serious Christian.” The well-known atheist “Christopher Hitchens referred to Francis Collins as a ‘Great American’ and stated that Collins was one of the most devout believers he had ever met … [Hitchens said] that their friendship despite their differing opinion on religion was an example of the greatest armed truce in modern times” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Collins#Christianity [accessed January 18, 2016]) 11. Moses 5:12. 12. Moses 7:21. 13. Moses 7:12, 22. 14. Moses 7:27. 15. Moses 6:41. 16. It is unclear who Nibley is referring to, unless he is talking about lines of hominids who have become extinct. 17. Moses 7:51-53. 18. Moses 8:2-3. 19. Moses 7:22. 20. J. H. Walton, Lost World of Adam and Eve, p. 185 describes such a scenario: In some models Adam and Eve are thought of as two of the members of a small population of humans and that through the course of time as generation followed generation, their descendants spread through the population and other lines died out such that today everyone has genetic material from these two. This view attempts to place Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 among an en masse creation of humans and still retain the idea that Adam and Eve are the parents of us all. It affirms that Adam and Eve were (among) the first humans and that (through a complex process) we are all descended from Adam and Eve. Though it looks nothing like the traditional biblical interpretation, it makes similar affirmations while at the same time accommodating common descent and affirming that the history evident in the genome actually took place. With reference to a much earlier time than the era of Adam and Eve (no later than approximately 30,000 BCE), there is a growing consensus among researchers that there was a limited amount of interbreeding between the ancestors of today’s humans and Neanderthals that led to modern humans carrying 1-4% of Neanderthal genes (Interbreeding?, Interbreeding?). The authors of one study believe they have “pinpointed the skeletal remains of the first known human- Neanderthal hybrid. … The finding came from northern Italy, where some 40,000 years ago scientists believe Neanderthals and humans lived near each other, but developed separate and distinctly different cultures” (500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal, 500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal). Other researchers “suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia” (E. Callaway, Ancient Humans). 21. R. Parr, Missing, pp. 94-97. 22. See, e.g., 4 Nephi 1:35–38. 23. Of course, the chances that someone on earth today is not already a descendant of Abraham are vanishingly slim. See L. Funderburg, Changing Face for a vivid photo essay illustrating the rapid growth of multiracial self-identification in America since it was first included in the US Census in 2000. 24. Moses 7:41. 25. H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, pp. 82–83. 26. Moses 1:31. PDFhttps://bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/documents/Blog%20entry/2021/210520-God%27s%20Creation-Insight-1511%20words2.pdf Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries We respect your email privacy DONATE TagsHugh NibleyScienceBooks
- “We Will Still Weep for Zion”: Hugh Nibley on War and Wealthby Jeff Bradshaw on May 13, 2021 at 6:00 am
Post contributed by Jeff BradshawMay 13, 2021Google Plus One Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook This is the seventh of eight weekly blog posts published in honor of the life and work of Hugh Nibley (1910–2005). The series is in honor of the new, landmark book, Hugh Nibley Observed, available in softcover, hardback, digital, and audio editions. Each week our post is accompanied by interviews and insights in pdf, audio, and video formats. (See the links at the end of this post.) The German class at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. Hugh Nibley is the second person on the left in the last row.1 War In Alex Nibley’s superb documentary history of his father’s wartime years, he shares Hugh’s account of his departure from Claremont Colleges. Having enjoyed a good relationship as a professor with the university president, Hugh rued the arrival of the new pharaoh2 after the president died: “He didn’t like Mormons. He said, ‘You know, you are not one of us.’ I could feel the tension growing, so I left. I said, well this certainly justifies me in pursuing a patriotic duty.”3 Elsewhere Alex continues the story:4 He was thirty-two years old, a PhD, a classics scholar who had read most of the books in the Berkeley library, and who had also been through several years of ROTC in high school. And so he did the obvious thing and went out and enlisted as a buck private in the army. Hugh related:5 My first assignment [after basic training6—it was so typically Army you must hear about it: It was the eve of Thanksgiving, and I was scrubbing toilets out with a big brush, with a big scrubbing brush. I was busy scrubbing these latrines out and so forth, and an officer came to me and said, “Come with me and bring the brush.” It was a huge pile of celery; they were preparing it for the officers’ mess the next day. He said, “Clean this celery off.” I said, “But this brush …I just used it for cleaning toilets!” “That doesn’t make any difference, if it looks shiny and clean, that’s the Army; that’s all we want to know.: So there I was cleaning that celery for the officers the next day for their Thanksgiving dinner with a toilet brush. That’s so typically army. I mean it’s marvelous, you know, and it just goes on. Though Hugh approached his first encounter with army culture in a light-hearted way, most of his recollections stress the waste, the futility, the pain, and, above all, the evils of war. He said:7 [I remember General Bradley said, “War is waste!” And that’s what it is, you see. The utter wastefulness of the thing.] But the wrongness of what we were doing was so strong that everybody would cry. People would cry; they would weep. They would … tears would stream down … the wrongness. It was so utterly unspeakably sad! [It was so sad you could hardly stand it.] That people would do such things to each other. Characteristically, Hugh, though loyal to his duty as a soldier, withdrew emotionally from the frenzy of selfish zeal and ambition that sometimes seemed to surround him on all sides:8 Men who had been waiting for twenty and thirty years for a war to get into were just itching for it. That was the happy war. It was the chance to get fast promotions. It was the big time; it was the chance for heroics. … There were men, officers, who just reveled in it because it was their life’s career. I’ll tell you if there was anything that puzzled me all the time I was there—I would say, “What on earth am I doing here? Why was I ever put in this situation?” I felt I was just an observer. “Why am I being shown this awful stuff? I don’t want to see it!” Harold Denison, 1870–1943: The Devil Approaches Jabez Stone, 1937.9 That Nibley refused to get emotionally caught up in the fray did not mean that he doubted for a moment that the battle he was involved in was real and infinitely consequential. But the battle he was watching was not the same battle that preoccupied most of his fellow soldiers:10 As I listen to our Elders quorums [ringing] out [with] militant hymns every Sunday morning, slashing their swords above the foe, conquering at every step, scattering the hosts of darkness, reveling in the victory of the right — one question keeps recurring to my mind, “Where is the battle?” … The devil is using diversionary tactics to get us on the wrong battlefield. … Satan’s masterpiece of counterfeiting is the doctrine that there are only two choices, and he will show us what they are. It is true that there are only two ways, but by pointing us the way he wants us to take and then showing us a fork in that road, he convinces us that we are making the vital choice, when actually we are choosing between branches in his road. Which one we take makes little difference to him, for both lead to destruction. This is the polarization we find in our world today. Thus we have the choice between Shiz and Coriantumr — which all Jaredites were obliged to make. We have the choice between the wicked Lamanites (and they were that) and the equally wicked (Mormon says “more wicked”) Nephites. Or between the fleshpots of Egypt and the stews of Babylon, or between the land pirates and the sea pirates of World War I, or between white supremacy and black supremacy, or between Vietnam and Cambodia, or between Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers, or between China and Russia, or between Catholic and Protestant, or between fundamentalist and atheist, or between right and left — all of which are true rivals, who hate each other. A very clever move of Satan! … It should be apparent that you take no sides [when you are presented with the devil’s dilemma]. Brent D. Burch: Illustration for an abridged version of Nibley’s controversial talk to the Cannon-Hinckley Club on May 19, 1987.11 Wealth Nibley recognized that the very same kind of battle is being waged in every sphere of action. In his well-known talk on “Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift,” he chronicled not only the sad leveling of leadership to the low bar of management,12 but also, more broadly, the reduction of everything of priceless worth to the least common denominator—namely, the clink of cold cash:13 What are the things of the world? An easy and infallible test has been given us in the well-known maxim, “You can have anything in this world for money.”14 If a thing is of this world you can have it for money; if you cannot have it for money, it does not belong to this world. That is what makes the whole thing manageable — money is pure number. By converting all values to numbers, everything can be fed into the computer and handled with ease and efficiency. “How much?” becomes the only question we need to ask. The manager “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” because for him the value is the price. Look around you here [at the BYU graduation ceremony]. Do you see anything that cannot be had for money? Is there anything here you couldn’t have if you were rich enough? Well, for one thing you may think you detect intelligence, integrity, sobriety, zeal, character, and other such noble qualities. Don’t the caps and gowns prove that? But hold on! I have always been taught that those are the very things that managers are looking for—they bring top prices in the marketplace. Does their value in this world mean, then, that they have no value in the other world? It means exactly that. Such things have no price and command no salary in Zion; you cannot bargain with them because they are as common as the once-pure air around us; they are not negotiable in the kingdom because there everybody possesses all of them in full measure, and it would make as much sense to demand pay for having bones or skin as it would to collect a bonus for honesty or sobriety. It is only in our world that they are valued for their scarcity. “Thy money perish with thee,” said Peter to a gowned quack [Simon Magus], who sought to include “the gift of God” in a business transaction.15 Nibley saw Moroni’s closing warning in the Book of Mormon as especially applicable in our day: “Deny not the gifts of God.”16 To Nibley: “Everything you have is a gift— everything. You have earned nothing.”17 But, whether one is speaking temporally or spiritually, people don’t seem to want gifts. We deny the gifts because we don’t want them— at least not as gifts:18 [We] want to say, “This is mine because I earned it.” … “But surely God expects us to work!” Of course he does, but we keep thinking of one kind of work, and he wants us to think of another. “Work we must,” explained Nibley, “but the lunch is free”:19 We have been permitted to come here [to earth] to go to school, to acquire certain knowledge and take a number of tests to prepare us for greater things hereafter. This whole life, in fact, is “a state of probation” (2 Nephi 2:21). While we are at school our generous patron has provided us with all the necessities of living that we will need to carry us through. Imagine, then, that at the end of the first school year your kind benefactor pays the school a visit. He meets you and asks how you are doing. “Oh,” you say, “I am doing very well, thanks to your bounty.” Are you studying a lot?” “Yes, I am making good progress.” “What subjects are you studying?” “Oh, I am studying courses in how to get more lunch.” “You study that? All the time?” “Yes. I thought of studying some other subjects. Indeed I would love to study them — some of them are so fascinating! — but after all it’s the bread-and-butter courses that count. This is the real world, you know. There is no free lunch.” But, my dear boy, I’m providing you with that right now.” Yes, for the time being, and I am grateful — but my purpose in life is to get more and better lunches; I want to go right to the top — the executive suite, the Marriott lunch.” “But that is not the work I wanted you to do here,” says the patron. But if we leave off our constant preoccupation with acquiring and enjoying more and better lunches, what should we do instead? The basic answer should be obvious, but Nibley’s full response to this question is enlightening. This is something that readers would do well to explore on their own.20 “On the last night of a play the whole cast and stage crew stay in theater until the small or not-so-small hours of the morning striking the old set.”21 “O Babylon, O Babylon, We Bid Thee Farewell”22 In Hugh Nibley Observed, Don Norton related that when he finished editing the foreword to Nibley’s volume, Approaching Zion, “one of his most popular, albeit controversial, volumes” — and, it should be added, one that almost didn’t see the light of day — he phoned Hugh to ask him about the title for the volume:23 He muttered a few possibilities, then concluded., “Well, it ought to be titled Zion, but we’re not there as Saints yet. So let’s title it Approaching Zion.” Here was a battle where Nibley was willing to take sides. Because he recognized that nothing in this life really belonged to him, the law of consecration became an easy yoke. He was all in for Zion. And there was no question in his mind about where on the playing field his efforts — and our own — would bear the best fruit:24 On the last night of a play the whole cast and stage crew stay in theater until the small or not-so-small hours of the morning striking the old set. If there is to be a new opening soon, as the economy of the theater requires, it is important that the new set should be in place and ready for the opening night; all the while the old set was finishing its usefulness and then being taken down, the new set was rising in splendor to be ready for the drama that would immediately follow. So it is with this world. It is not our business to tear down the old set — the agencies that do that are already hard at work and very efficient — the set is coming down all around us with spectacular effect. Our business is to see to it that the new set is well on the way for what is to come —and that means a different kind of politics, beyond the scope of the tragedy that is now playing its closing night. We are preparing for the establishment of Zion. *** We hope you will enjoy the video interview of Jeff Bradshaw embedded here, which you can view in either long or short form. Jeff, one of the editors of Hugh Nibley Observed recounts how the idea for the book germinated, and discusses why Hugh Nibley’s example as a scholar and a disciple is more relevant than ever before. In addition, a short video entitled ““What Five Things Did Hugh Nibley Teach Us About the Temple?” is embedded below, along with a more complete podcast and pdf transcript that are available for listening or download. The video introduces his lifelong scholarship on the temple — both as a house of learning and an example of selfless service. The law of consecration taught in the temple represented the pinnacle of Nibley’s personal strivings to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. References Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Shirley S. Ricks, and Stephen T. Whitlock, eds. Hugh Nibley Observed. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2021. Campora, Olga Kovárová. Saint Behind Enemy Lines. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1997. Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985. Nibley, Hugh. 1985. “The faith of an observer: Conversations with Hugh Nibley.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 148–76. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008. http://www.bhporter.com/Hugh%20Nibley/The%20Faith%20of%20an%20Observer%20Conversations%20with%20hugh%20Nibley.pdf. Nibley, Hugh W. “But what kind of work?” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 252-89. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989. Nibley, Hugh W., and Alex Nibley. Sergeant Nibley PhD: Memories of an Unlikely Screaming Eagle. Salt Lake City, UT: Shadow Mountain, 2006. Nibley, Hugh W. “Beyond politics.” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon/Mormon Studies Review 23, no. 1 (2011): 133-51. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1841&context=msr. (accessed September 20, 2020). ———. “Where is the battle? (from unpublished notes by Michael B. James).” n.d. ———. 1979. “Gifts.” In Approaching Zion, edited by D.E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 85-117. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989. ———. 1982. “Work we must, but the lunch is free.” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 202-51. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989. ———. 1983. “Leaders to managers: The fatal shift.” In Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 13, 491-508. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jxjZXAd300. (accessed January 16, 2020). ———. 1984. “We will still weep for Zion.” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 341-77. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989. Petersen, Boyd Jay. Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2002. Listen to Audio 1. Courtesy of Marguerite Goldschmidt. Published in H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 164. 2. Exodus 1:8. 3. H. W. Nibley et al., Sergeant Nibley, p. 39. 4. J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, p. 39. 5. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 163. Some small edits were made for consistency with the original film transcript. 6. H. W. Nibley et al., Sergeant Nibley, p. 47. 7. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 165. Bracketed material is from B. J. Petersen, Nibley, p. 213. 8. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 165. 9. Published in Hymns (1985), Hymns (1985). 10. H. W. Nibley, Where is the battle? (from unpublished notes by Michael B. James); H. W. Nibley, Gifts, pp. 113–114. In her narrative describing her struggle in overcoming previous attitudes as she became a member of the Church in Communist Czechoslovakia, Olga Kovárová Campora wrote (O. K. Campora, Saint, p. 56): I found that I was against anything that smelled of Communist ideology, but I also suddenly saw that my own life was focused only on fighting against the wall of the current ideology I lived in, and I had not found my own proactive direction. I realized I had forgotten about my private, personal well-being while fighting. I hadn’t made any time and effort except to fight against the dragon. Later I realized that one of Satan’s powerful tools is to surround a person with something so obviously negative that the person spends all of his or her energy only on nonsensical fighting, instead of turning their backs to it and trying find their own pace and direction. How much time did I waste only on pointing to the wrong side of the world, instead. of hiking towards a better future? Somehow this big beast of Communism had become the focus of my personal life, as it had for many of my fellowmen, and meanwhile I experienced a complete emptiness as I considered my human soul and its place in the world and in the universe. I didn’t know who I was, where I came from, or what the purpose of my life was. 11. Published in BYU Today, November 1987, p. 8. Republished in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed , p. 754. The article was published in full in H. W. Nibley, Work. 12. H. W. Nibley, Leaders, pp. 495–498. 13. Ibid., pp. 503–504. 14. The Testament of Job affirms the antiquity of the use of variations of this proverb by Satan and his allies: “Pay the price and take what you like” (R. P. Spittler, Testament of Job, 23:3, p. 848). 15. See Acts 8:9-24. 16. Moroni 10:8. 17. H. W. Nibley, Gifts, p. 91. 18. Ibid., pp. 90, 91, 101–102. 19. H. W. Nibley, Work, p. 211. 20. See, e.g., H. W. Nibley, But What Kind. 21. https://dramaquarterly.com/tell-me-more/. 22. Hymns (1985), Hymns (1985) , “Ye Elders of Israel,” no. 319. 23. J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, p. 706. 24. H. W. Nibley, Beyond Politics (2011), p. 151. PDFhttps://bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/documents/Blog%20entry/2021/210513-Temple-Insight-1758%20words2.pdf Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries We respect your email privacy DONATE TagsHugh NibleyBooksWar
- What Did Hugh Nibley’s Near-Death Experience Teach Him about the Purpose of Life?by Jeff Bradshaw on May 6, 2021 at 6:00 am
Post contributed by Jeff BradshawMay 6, 2021Google Plus One Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Buy Hugh Nibley Observed Amazon The FAIR Bookstore Eborn Books This is the sixth of eight weekly blog posts published in honor of the life and work of Hugh Nibley (1910–2005). The series is in honor of the new, landmark book, Hugh Nibley Observed, available in softcover, hardback, digital, and audio editions. Each week our post is accompanied by interviews and insights in pdf, audio, and video formats. (See the links at the end of this post.) Besides those who actively oppose the idea that that a loving, personal God exists in heaven, there have also always been others to whom questions of this sort never even occur. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, quoting Walter Bagehot, described such “disbelievers[, who] do not necessarily deny the great truths but are simply too preoccupied with other concerns”:1 They do not deny them, but they live apart from them; they do not disbelieve them, but they are silent when they are stated. They do not question the existence of Kamchatka,2 but they have no call to busy themselves with Kamchatka; they abstain from peculiar tenets. … [Such] persons … do not, as it would seem cannot, feel all that others feel; [they] have, so to say, no ear for much of religion, [and] are [thus] in some sort out of its reach.3 Is there a remedy? If you could extend before men the awful vision of everlasting perdition; if they could see it as they see the things of earth, — as they see Fleet Street and St. Paul’s; if you could show men likewise the inciting vision of an everlasting heaven … with undeniable certainty and invincible distinctness, — who could say that they would have a thought for any other motive?4 In a letter to his friend Paul Springer, quoted in Boyd Petersen’s marvelous biography, Hugh Nibley said the same thing more succinctly:5 One peep at the other side and this [earthly] show looks too cheap for anything. Hugh in 1933. “I was terribly bothered by about this afterlife business.” Nibley could speak on this subject with the kind of authority that comes from firsthand experience:6 [I always had a testimony of the gospel] except for one short period — when the bottom of the world fell out. That was desperate. … I was terribly bothered about this afterlife business and that sort of thing. I had no evidence for that whatever. And I remember I went up to Mt. Wilson7 at that time. I walked around in the snow and brooded about it and I came back. We had a meeting at the old Hollywood Ward. Matthew Cowley’s father[, Matthias F. Cowley,] was the speaker that night. So, I went up to meet Brother Cowley, and as soon as he took my hand, he says, “Come with me, I want to give you a blessing.” The blessing was that the Lord would give me an answer immediately to the thing that had been puzzling my mind. Within the week I had an appendicitis attack and so we went to the old Seventh Day Adventist Hospital out in Loma Linda and had the appendix taken out. According to Phyllis, Hugh swallowed his tongue during the operation and actually was at one time technically dead” until they brought him back with a resuscitator. “But during that period, he had one of these ‘life after death’ experiences very much like the ones that Dr. Moody describes.”8 Hugh related the experience as follows:9 Then all of a sudden down this thing like a tube, you know, you get sucked down this thing and you come out. [I thought,] Oh, boy, I know everything, and everything is there, and this is what I wanted to know! Three cheers, and all this sort of thing. … All I wanted was to know whether there was anything on the other side, and when I came out there, I didn’t meet anything or anybody else, but I looked around. and not only was in all possession of my faculties, but they were tremendous. I was light as a feather and ready to go, you see. Above all I was interested in problems. I’d missed out a lot of math and stuff like that. Now in five minutes I would be able make up for that. Remember, as Joseph Smith said, “If you could look for five minutes into yonder heavens,” you see, you can forget about all the rest you ever bothered about.10 A successful businessman learns he has about three weeks to live.11 Trying to help those who have little ear for spiritual things relate to the profound impact of such an experience on his own life, Nibley provided the following parable:12 Imagine… a successful businessman who, responding to some slight but persistent physical discomfort… pays a visit to [the] doctor. Since the man has always considered himself a fairly healthy specimen, it is with an unquiet mind that he descends the steps of the clinic … [knowing] that he has about three weeks to live. In the days that follow, this man’s thinking undergoes a … quick and brutal reorientation. … Things that once filled him with awe seem strangely trivial, and things which a few days before did not even exist for him now fill his consciousness. For the first time he discovers the … beauty of the world of nature. … The perfection of children comes to him like a sudden revelation, and he is appalled by the monstrous perversion that would … destroy their sensibilities. … Everywhere he looks he gets the feeling that all is passing away — … he sees all life and stuff about him involved in a huge ceaseless combustion, a literal and apparent process of oxidation which is turning some things slowly, some rapidly, but all things surely to ashes …. ‘What has happened to our solid citizen?’ his friends ask perplexed. He has chosen to keep his disease a secret, … [but] he cannot conceal his change of heart. As far as his old associates can see, the poor man has left the world of reality. … Now the question arises, has this man been jerked out of reality or into it? Has he cut himself off from the real world or has cruel necessity forced him to look in the face what he was running away from before? Is he in a dream now or has he just awakened from one? Has he become an irresponsible child, or has he suddenly grown up? … Some will answer one way, some another. But if you want to arouse him to wrathful sermons, just try telling the man that it makes no difference which of these worlds one lives in. Ann M. Madsen describes another important result of Nibley’s near-death experience, namely his preoccupation with “progressive repentance, forevermore, and a progressive revelation of our own ignorance.”13 Said Nibley: 14 [Absolute knowledge of the afterlife] gives me a great relief, so that’s why I don’t take this very seriously down here. We’re just sort of dabbling around, playing around, being tested for our moral qualities, and above all the two things we can be good at, and no two other things can we do: We can forgive, and we can repent. It’s the gospel of repentance. We’re told that the angels envy men their ability both to forgive and to repent because they can’t do either, you see. But nobody’s very clever, nobody’s very brave, nobody’s very strong, nobody’s very wise. We’re all pretty stupid, you see. Nobody’s very anything. We’re not tested on those things, but in the things the angels envy us for — we can forgive, and we can repent. So, three cheers, let’s start repenting as of now. Son Alex and granddaughter Isabella with Hugh, 2003. Hugh Nibley’s preoccupation with continual repentance stayed with him to the end of his life. Particularly difficult for him, because of his strict Victorian upbringing, was his difficulty in freely expressing his love to family and friends. In Hugh Nibley Observed, Louis Midgley relates the following experience:15 Phyllis called me and urged me to visit her husband. I did. And we talked. Hugh was in a hospital bed. He could hardly speak. … Soon, two Relief Society sisters knocked on the door. They had brought him dinner. They rushed over and hugged him and kissed him. And he just wept. When they left, Phyllis asked me, “Did you notice that?” I said, “Yes, I did.” “Have you ever seen my husband show emotion?” I answered, “No, never.” Phyllis said that “he couldn’t” show emotion. But when he was reduced to lying there, hardly able to talk, he would say to her, “Phyllis, I have been kept after school by the Lord so I could learn a lesson that I needed to learn before I pass away.” Hugh’s daughter Christina relates how he increasingly resembled the repentant businessman who learned he only had a short time to live:16 In the final two years of his life, as he became physically incapacitated and forced to remain in bed, my dad became the very definition of sweetness. He never voiced a complaint about his pain and confinement. And during his most lucid moments, he seemed in constant awe of the sheer wonderfulness of all the people around him. He’d always been amazed at the beauty of nature and the fascination of learning. But now for two years, he couldn’t go outside, and he couldn’t accumulate footnotes. His compulsively active attention was forced to refocus, and it did so. His awe was greater than I’d ever seen it. Particularly toward Mom, his caretaker and wife, whom he told countless times during those months, “You are just so beautiful.” Son Alex said the following at Nibley’s funeral service especially to those who knew his father only as a great intellectual:17 His ego — that vanity he fought so long — finally died when frailty left him completely dependent on others for every function of life. And what was left? Pure love. I saw him on my birthday in January. Again, there was a struggle for words, and finally he said, “To lack affection is to lack everything.” How’s that for a quote from your great intellectual? Dad resented sentimentality not because it contained too much emotion, but because it fell short of the depth of passion that he felt. So today I celebrate the life of the most passionate man I’ve ever known. Hugh’s passion and his faith were grounded in his absolute knowledge of the reality of the life to come. Throughout his life, he continued to have “a private arrangement with the other side which he thoroughly enjoyed.”18 At the funeral service of his young grandson-in-law Joel Erik Myres, he asked:19 Is this all there is? Here I am free to speak. … My reasoning is not perfect, but I can support it with a number of personal experiences that leave me in absolutely no doubt at all that Joel is engaged in a higher work. I expect to have this assertion confirmed in my own case before very long. And, just as Nibley anticipated, his assertion about the continuing and increased productivity of his own afterlife has now been wholly confirmed. *** We hope you will enjoy the video interview of Kirk Magleby embedded here, which you can view in either long or short form. Kirk, involved for many years with FARMS and a principal actor in Book of Mormon Central since its inception recounts how Hugh Nibley was a model to him and his friends from his formative years to the present day. In addition, a short video entitled ““How Did Hugh Nibley Become a Spiritual Mentor to an Atheist Basketball Star from Croatia?” is embedded below, along with a more complete podcast and pdf transcript that are available for listening or download. The video tells the inspiring and entertaining story of how a famous basketball player, diplomat, and national hero from the former Yugoslavia became a Latter-day Saint, with the help of Hugh Nibley and his daughter Christina. References Bagehot, Walter. The Works of Walter Bagehot (with Memoirs by R. H. Hutton). 5 vols, ed. Forrest Morgan. Hartford, CT: The Travelers Insurance Company, 1889. Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Shirley S. Ricks, and Stephen T. Whitlock, eds. Hugh Nibley Observed. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2021. Maxwell, Neal A. We Will Prove Them Herewith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1982. Moody, Raymond A. Life After Life. Covington, GA: Mockingbird Books, 1975. Nibley, Hugh. 1985. “The faith of an observer: Conversations with Hugh Nibley.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 148–76. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008. http://www.bhporter.com/Hugh%20Nibley/The%20Faith%20of%20an%20Observer%20Conversations%20with%20hugh%20Nibley.pdf. ———. 2001. “Graveside service address for Joel Erik Myres.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 263–68. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008. Nibley, Hugh W. 1955. “The way of the Church.” In Mormonism and Early Christianity, edited by Todd M. Compton and Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 4, 209-322. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1987. Petersen, Boyd Jay. Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2002. Smith, Joseph, Jr., Andrew F. Ehat, and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 1980. https://rsc.byu.edu/book/words-joseph-smith. (accessed August 21, 2020). Smith, Joseph, Jr., Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, and Brent M. Rogers. Journals: May 1843-June 1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals 3, ed. Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2015. Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969. Listen to Audio 1. N. A. Maxwell, Prove, pp. 88–89. 2. A remote peninsula in the far east of Russia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamchatka_Peninsula (accessed May 3, 2021). 3. W. Bagehot, Bagehot, 1:42, https://archive.org/details/cu31924024730941/ (accessed May 3, 2021). 4. Ibid., 2:302, https://archive.org/details/worksofwalterbag02bageiala/ (accessed May 3, 2021). 5. Letter to Paul Springer, 2 February 1964, quoted in B. J. Petersen, Nibley, p. 131. 6. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 161. See Dan Peterson’s account of this event in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, pp. 164–166. 7. Mount Wilson is above Pasadena, California. Hugh was living in Glendale, California at the time. 8. Phyllis Nibley in H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 161. According to son Tom, Phyllis “had a similar experience during a difficult pregnancy” (J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, p. 563). On “Life after Life” experiences generally, see R. A. Moody, Life After Life. Tom recalls that “examining and explaining what this sort of thing was about and telling us about his own experience” became the subject of two family home evenings (J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, p. 564). 9. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, pp. 161–162. 10. Cf. Joseph Smith: “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 9 October 1843, p. 324. Cf. J. Smith, Jr. et al., Journals, 1843-1844, p. 109; J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, p. 254). In the report in the Times and Seasons (4, 15 September 1843, pp. 331–332) the Prophet also writes: “Knowledge of [our condition and true relation to God] can only be obtained by experience in these things, through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose … and in answer to prayer” (ibid., p. 253. Regarding the requisite ordinances, see ibid., pp. 53–54 n. 19). 11. https://www.rd.com/list/medical-cartoons/ (accessed May 3, 2021). 12. H. W. Nibley, Way, pp. 302–305. 13. Ann M. Madsen, in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, p. 201. 14. H. Nibley, Faith of an Observer, p. 162. 15. Louis Midgley in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Hugh Nibley Observed, pp. 625–626. 16. Christina Nibley Mincek in ibid., p. 573. 17. Alex Nibley in ibid., p. 559. 18. Recollection of Tom Nibley of a statement of his father made on multiple occasions, ibid., p. 568. 19. H. Nibley, Graveside Service, p. 268. PDFhttps://bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/documents/Blog%20entry/2021/210506-Hugh%20Nibley%20and%20the%20Basketball%20Player%20Insight2.pdf Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries We respect your email privacy DONATE TagsBooksHugh Nibley
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