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Everything posted by Urloony

  1. You're more correct than you think. History is replete with "hijacked" symbolism, the swastika being a prime example. Now that Godwin's law is in full effect, my aim is to point to historic examples of symbolic interpretation, not necessarily those chosen on a whim. Absolutely, we do it all the time. No one is saying "you're wrong" for interpreting the cross or any symbol in a particular way. I'm simply suggesting that there are meanings for symbols that may not have been considered. In Reed's article that was linked earlier, he mentions a story of missionaries teaching a family that had a cross displayed in their home. The missionaries asked if they could have the cross and so the family gave it to them, thinking they would enjoy it. When it was given to them, the missionaries destroyed it. It never occurred to the missionaries to consider a different interpretation of the cross as a symbol from the one they were raised to believe, that of suffering or worse. The real test of bravery would have been to ask: "what does that symbol mean to you?"
  2. You're right about trying to avoid politics, and I will try to do the same. My analogy is attempting to point out that the current destruction of US monuments is based upon one perspective of what a particular statue or symbol represents (religious symbols are now also under attack). Opponents to the destruction of those monuments would disagree with the reasoning of the vandals and argue a different symbolic meaning for those statues and symbols. One symbol, two opposite interpretations, with the potential of both interpretations being correct.
  3. Many of our critics accuse of us of being unchristian because some of our buildings and temples have pentagrams. Are they right? After all, the pentagram is a symbol of Satanism.
  4. An important consideration for any symbol is its interpretation. There isn't going to be just one interpretation. My contention from the start of this thread, is that our cultural shunning of the cross as a symbol, and as outlined by Reed's article, is based upon only one accepted LDS interpretation of the cross, that of suffering. The cross as a symbol also represents the resurrection, eternal life, and the living Christ (the bare cross). As LDS people, we have a significant amount of symbolism in our temple worship. Society, as a whole, has lost site of the purpose of symbols and their meaning. Consider the destruction of monuments in the middle east a few years ago and the current assault on our monuments presently in the US. This loss of understanding of symbolism within our own American culture is, unfortunately, also present within the church. Many new members who enter the temple are "freaked out," because they are coming from a society and a church culture with no deep appreciation or understanding of symbolism, into a temple environment steeped in symbolism. One response is to change the temple to fit our ignorant culture, which has been the usual response. The other would be to open the minds of Latter-Day Saints to a broader understanding and appreciation of symbolism while they are outside the temple and throughout their church participation to better prepare them for the temple, as well as understand other religious traditions through their use of symbols.
  5. Wow, this is excellent. This article encapsulates exactly what I've been suspecting. I plan to pick up his book, as I'm curious to examine more of the historic details. It's not surprising to read of the actions of the missionaries or the attitudes of some LDS members toward those of other faiths who recognize the cross as a symbol to be worn. The many aspects of LDS "cultural theology" are not to be underestimated in their threat to our relationships with those of other faiths.
  6. I will grant any amount of significance to the symbolic presence of the cross within the temple. I concur completely as to its depth of meaning within the temple and the accompanying covenants. This is beside the point. Now we come to it. I think this is the sentiment of some members within the church, that I think points in part, to the cultural influence on our church's non-use of the symbol of the cross (I'm speaking to the physical manifestation of the emblem common in mainstream Christianity, not its symbolic use in the temple or sacrament hymns). The perceived hypocrisy of the wearer being of concern here. Again, this shows judgement, by attempting to deduce the purpose of one wearing a cross to perhaps gain attention for wearing something that is considered taboo. This is still skirting the issue as to why one might have these feelings toward another member. Is the reason it's not displayed because it's considered a sacred symbol? The commentary on why we don't display the cross has not suggested that it is because it is a sacred symbol. Rather, it has been suggested that because it represents Christ's suffering, which should not be the focus for Latter-Day Saints, as the reason it is not displayed.
  7. One of the most universal symbols of Christianity is the cross. I think that the cultural/doctrinal shift away from the cross as a symbol is based upon a limited interpretation of the symbol. I think that that interpretation has formed a bias within our membership that has lead to limited understanding of the symbol, its history, and its array of different meanings. I am not promoting the notion that the cross should be a symbol on display in our chapels, but rather discussing the reasons the shift away from the cross as a symbol occurred. We are witnessing a similar cultural shift currently, as we move away from the Angel Moroni as a symbol of the church to the Christus.
  8. Yes, it's connection to the temple has been discussed. I'm not sure what you're referencing with regard to the sacrament hymns. Surely the cross is part of our theology, that's not the discussion. If a member were to start wearing a cross to church regularly, it would not go unnoticed. To be honest, I think it's even possible it might lead to eventual discussion with a church leader or the Bishop. If my hypothetical situation is correct, what is it that prompts the questions about whether wearing a cross to church or even displaying one in your home is appropriate? My contention is that it is primarily cultural bias beginning in the 50's with Pres. McKay and continuing into the 1970's with Pres. Hinkcley. Some interpret their position of the cross as a doctrinal position. Perhaps that is the case. What do you think?
  9. I saw it. 😃 The prayer is not part of Blue Lodge Freemasonry rites, it’s a funeral prayer. Also, I’m not sure how one extrapolates that the Celestial Lodge above is reserved for those who don’t accept Christ from the reading of that prayer. In Freemasonry, the Celestial Lodge above is a symbol of heaven for all Freemasons regardless of their faith. The book of scripture found on the altar of a lodge is dependent upon the faith of the members who attend. In the West, typically it’s the Bible. If a lodge’s membership is Buddhist, Muslim, or Jewish the scripture would be different. Additionally, if a candidate is completing degree work, an Entered Apprentice for example, they can choose whatever book of their faith they want. If you’re LDS you could choose the Book of Mormon or the D&C to take your obligations upon. The purpose is to make the obligations binding to the candidate according to their faith. Religion in general is not discussed nor is one’s personal religious views imposed directly or indirectly on other Freemasons.
  10. I completely agree that the square and compass are ancient symbols. Some Freemasons contend that the craft is as old as time, dating back at least to Noah and perhaps even earlier. Some might argue as far back as Adam. This is not necessarily so, but speaks to your point of their antiquity. The square and compass also appear in Facsimile No. 2, figure 7, "...revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood." What's even more interesting is that this portion of the hypocephalus was not restored by Joseph Smith, but appears as he found it and date to at least 500 BC. The commonality of ancient symbols such as the all seeing eye, star constellations, the cardinal direction of Masonic lodges and church temples, the use of the pentagram (although technically not part of Freemason rites), all point to possible connections between Freemasonry and the temple endowment. If that were the only similarities, I would grant them as coincidence. Those symbols are the tip of the iceberg. There are things I've learned about Freemasonry I would only understand because of my temple experience and vice versa. One of the reasons I became a Freemason was to experience what the early saints and Joseph Smith and so many early church leaders experienced and see for myself what the similarities and differences may be and understand their intertwined relationship, which has proven to be significant.
  11. This is fascinating, I was unaware of this. I'll check out Bradley's book. Freemasonry, like the temple uses symbolism to teach principles. The similarities between the two go far beyond the square and compass, and it is clear Joseph Smith deliberately and irrefutably chose to incorporate parts of Freemasonry into the temple endowment. The bigger question is why are there so many specific similarities? It's possible that this was part of a restoration of something much older than either the modern temple or Freemasonry and has been brought forth in its fullness as the temple endowment. This is a common assumption by some LDS folks, and one that I used to espouse. I think the answer is really much simpler. Freemasonry's use of symbolism is very deep and presses upon the candidate and officers involved in degree work, important truths bound by obligations and penalties that help shape the betterment of oneself and mankind. Joseph Smith chose to use much of that same deep symbolism to impress upon church members the importance of sacred covenants that are made within the temple. Because the temple endowment is a teaching tool, it often changes. Unlike Freemasonry, if part of the temple rite loses meaning or becomes irrelevant it is changed to meet the learning needs of the students. Much like any good learning environment, the teaching must be adapted to the student. The temple is not an immovable "tradition" like Freemasonry, rather it is a place of spiritual learning that is adaptable based upon modern revelation.
  12. This is a nice sentiment, but there is nothing in Blue Lodge Freemasonry that teaches this. As a Freemasons, Joseph Smith and several other church leaders formed the Nauvoo lodge in 1842. Shortly thereafter the temple endowment (as we know it) was introduced. There were earlier endowments in the 1830's in Kirtland, but these were not the fully realized forms of the endowment that were brought to Salt Lake.
  13. This is a very interesting discovery and one that clearly connects to the temple. The clothing worn by the candidate during a masonic degree does bear a resemblance to temple garments however, there is no stitching in masonic clothing. This Egyptian find resembles temple garments far more than the clothing in a masonic degree. A good friend of mine and I are both Past Masters of our lodge and endowed members of the church. We often discuss the similarities and deeper meanings of both the endowment and masonic degrees. Having experienced both degree work and the endowment on a regular basis the similarities are obvious. Joseph Smith was clearly inspired by Freemasonry to restore the temple endowment. The fascinating part of both experiences for me however is not the obvious similarities in tokens, obligations, and penalties, but rather the deeper meanings behind them and other elements of the endowment and lodge degree experiences.
  14. That's interesting. Even as a convert, I never wore the cross on my person. We would make crosses out of palm branches at Easter which is a typical tradition among many Protestant churches. From a historical LDS standpoint the cross was prominently worn by many 19th century saints. The cross as a symbol of Christianity existed prior to the 4th century and is present as early as the 2nd century AD.
  15. The "doctrine of the veneration of the cross" is still Catholic doctrine regardless of whether its practice is required by the church or not. Doctrine is not limited to just saving ordinances. My doctrinal definition seems to be broader than yours, which may be the cause of our difference in perspective here. I adopt Bruce Rs simple definition that doctrines are teachings which are either true or false. The sacrament for example is a rite, but could also be described as a doctrinal rite.
  16. Your observation makes my point. However, Moroni was note exchanged for the symbol of the Christus. The Christus was added as a symbol.
  17. Historically, most converts from other Christian faiths would have had a tradition of wearing the cross or seeing it regularly in their churches, on their Bibles, and in their artwork. Are you suggesting that our choice to wear or not wear a cross is cultural, because Latter-Day Saints don't have a good reason to wear a cross? If it is cultural, should we be suggesting to converts that they not wear a cross simply to fit "Mormon culture"?
  18. I would suggest that "established requirement of devotional rites" would be classified as doctrine. In Catholicism, the Veneration of the Cross is a key doctrine in their worship of Christ through the vehicle of the cross. Protestant doctrine is harder to establish due to the variety of doctrinal beliefs. I will concede that as a result, there may be a variety of inconsistent doctrinal positions with regard to the presence of the cross in their worship service.
  19. Its non-use in the Church to me seems to be both cultural and doctrinal I think you have the correct answer. I have to wonder though if its non-use is primarily due to a narrow interpretation of its meaning, ie. only Catholics wear crosses, or it's a symbol of Christ's death.
  20. I agree with the majority of your post, however I don't think this part is accurate. I think the symbol of the cross is very much a doctrinal point in mainstream Christianity. So much so, that it is used as ammunition against us as Latter-Day Saints that we are not Christian. This argument doesn't carry much weight, because after all the cross wasn't an overt symbol of Christianity until the 4th century AD. As Latter-Day saints, we have embraced many more ancient symbols of Christianity such as the pentagram. In fact, I would argue that we as Latter-Day saints embrace symbolism on a far larger scale than most of mainstream Christianity (Catholicism being an exception). Most of ancient Christian symbolism has been lost on the majority of the world, and unfortunately on good portion of Latter-Day Saints as well.
  21. Yes, you're right, it's not just Pres. Hinckley. I've read Pres. McKay's response before as well. There is a Deseret news story that mentions their positions the topic. The article points out that the church's position on the cross is a 20th century development, as it was in use by many members of the previous century. In both instances, it appears the presidents are responding to questions about the cross, rather than preemptively establishing a doctrinal church position. Caffeinated beverages are a prime example of the cultural influence on church doctrine. The Ensign, in the past, has published articles discouraging the use of caffeinated beverages and condemned them as being against the spirit of the word of wisdom. BYU, the Provo MTC and other church owned locations banned the sale of caffeinated beverages. President Hinckley affirmed that caffeinated beverages are opposed by the wow. Today of course, that has changed and the 2010 handbook of instruction offers no position on the consumption of caffeinated beverages.
  22. I don't think we're getting the full story. I don't think Pres. Hinckley's response was an off the cuff remark to a pastor of another faith. I think it was a response given after a long period of prior contemplation. I fully understand the statement and it is certainly valid, but I think there may be deeper reasoning beyond this statement. I think you're right that the church never official used the cross, although it does appear in the aforementioned Hawaii and Cardston temple designs and was in regular use by early saints. So if the cross was never officially used, can if officially not be used? I would say officially we don't use the cross. But it still doesn't answer the question as to whether its official non-use is cultural or doctrinal.
  23. teddyaware used the temple to make the point of our use of the cross.
  24. Aren't chaplains required to wear an insignia of their faith per military regulation? I don't think his statement establishes doctrine as much as it establishes opinion. I don't want to derail into the territory of what qualifies as doctrine and what is opinion, but from what I'm seeing, the basis of our none use of the cross stems solely from Pres. Hinckley's statement from 1975. There are no physical inanimate crosses in the temple like you find in your church. Yes, absolutely. How we interpret pentagrams on the Nauvoo temple for example, is completely different from the way modern mainstream Christians would interpret them. In fact, many of our critics would condemn our use of it due to it's modern, 19th century association with satanism. One has to examine the historic symbology of that symbol in order to understand it's relationship with the Savior and his crucifixion. Are we guilty of only providing one interpretation of the cross, the same way that our mainstream Christian brethren interpret the pentagram?
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