Saints Alive! Store

Saints Alive! Store
Saints Alive! Store. Click on the Starlight Doorway. Summer is coming, and whether you need a complete set of patio furniture, or just string for your weed cutter, we have it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Across the Pacific in a Year--Without Oars, Sails, or Motor!

A Japanese fishing craft, lost during the tsunami of March 2011, turned up off the coast of North America  in March 2012. No one was on board.

This should quell some of the hysterical glee outsiders indulge in when they read (or, more likely, just hear about) the Book of  Mormon.

 The last section of the Book of Mormon, entitled Ether, is the account of a group of travelers who left from the Tower of Babel and came to the New World. According to Ether 6:11-12, it took 344 days to travel across the waters from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western, nearly the same time it took the Japanese craft to cross.

The possibilities for humor in the name Ether prompted Mark Twain to quip that it is "chloroform in print."

The Japanese boat suggests clues to the answers to two important questions: 1) Can the Book of Mormon be substantiated? and 2) How did the first Americans actually get here?

Now no one is saying that the Jaredites were the first people on the American continents. We don't know when they lived, nor when the earliest inhabitants arrived. Ether claims that these people left the Tower of Babel, whenever that was, and eventually arrived in the New World.

Josephus (Antiquities Chapter 5) tells us that:

1. AFTER this they were dispersed abroad, on account of their languages, and went out by colonies every where; and each colony took possession of that land which they light[ed] upon, and unto which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled with them, both the inland and the maritime countries. There were some also who passed over the sea in ships, and inhabited the islands:
This by no means "proves" the Book of Mormon to be correct; it does, however, show that it could be correct.

Next: How did those intrepid earliest Americans get here? It was long thought that they walked across a land bridge, Beringia, from Asia. It still seems likely that many of them did, though there are now competing theories. I personally have no credentials to permit me to argue the subject. But common sense tells me that in the time before the enormous diesel engines crossing the great waters, either the Atlantic or Pacific, must have been possible. Why? Because in our day people do it all the time. Sometimes solo.

This is too big a subject to tackle here, so I will defer expressing my personal suppositions to a later time. But I will point out that in 1916, after the breakup in the ice of their ship Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton and five men of his crew rowed 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi), from Elephant Island to South Georgia, in a 22.5' open boat  across the South Atlantic. This is no doubt the most horrifically dangerous ocean on earth, with hard winds and 8-meter (or more) waves. This feat makes crossing either the Pacific or the Atlantic in warm subtropical areas look like a walk in the park.

So stop giggling and actually read the Book of Mormon. Ether won't put you to sleep.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Posthumous Baptism, Infant Baptism, Circumcision

Are we depriving persons of their right to choose their own religion?

There's been so much chatter, and not only among the chattering classes, lately about baptism for the dead, I began to wonder about some of the practices of other religions. The main objection seems to be that the dead have no opportunity to decide for themselves. Of course we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints see that differently. We believe the dead do have the opportunity to accept or reject the rite of baptism. And BTW, posthumous baptism, even if accepted by the deceased person, does NOT make anyone a Mormon!

Infant Baptism. Mormons don't do this, but many denominations do, because they read in John 3:5:
 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 Mormons baptize at the "age of accountability", which is generally set at eight years. Converts to the Church are baptized at that time, no matter how old they may be. Now whether an eight-year-old really has the ability to knowingly choose to enter into baptismal covenants is debatable, and parents may decide to wait a little while if they think it best.

The rationale for infant baptism, as I understand it, is that unbaptized persons, though they have committed no sins, will automatically burn in hell.

So what is hell? Actually, it's the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, or the Hinnom Valley, which runs along the side of Jerusalem, opposite the Chidron Valley, which in turn runs between the city and the Mount of Olives.
 "Hinnom" became "Gehenna" in Greek, and "hell" in King James English. So if you tell someone to "go to hell," you're sending him on a trip to the Holy Land.

The burnings came about because pagans, and sadly, some early Jews, burned their children alive there as offerings to their gods. Imagine the screams and sufferings of the sacrificed infants, not to mention their mothers. Later on, the Hinnom Valley became the trash dump for the city, and emitted its malodorous smoke as the offal smouldered.

This, in the eyes of many Christians, is the never-ending fate of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Scientologists and Mormons, along with anyone else outside the charmed circle.

The Fires of Hell. Eternal torment. And these same people purport to find posthumous baptism shocking!

Now ask yourself: would you do this to your child, no matter what he had done? Of course not. So give God credit for being at least as good a parent as you are.

Circumcision. This is a ritual not practiced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so not being a Jew, I cannot comment on it, beyond acknowledging its relevance to the Abrahamic Covenant.

Baptism for the Dead. Now we come to what seems to be the sticking-point for all this: choice. Do we deprive people of their free agency in performing this sacrament for them?

How many squawling infants have ASKED to be baptized? How many are saying, "May I have a bris please? Please Mama PLease! I want to be like my friend....puh-lease!"

So who makes these decisions? Not the person being baptized or circumcised, obviously. No; it's the FAMILY who decides.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptize their own relatives. In the absence of informed consent, the FAMILY members decide this matter.

Now infants grow up; some will remain Christians after their infant baptism. Some will grow up to be practicing Jews. Some will choose another path entirely. But it's their choice. Just as in the hereafter, persons will accept or reject the teachings preferred by their relatives. Mormons simply want to give them that opportunity.