First of all, Happy New Year! I hope that your 2021 will be a wonderful year, vastly better than the previous one (which shall remain charitably unnamed). Live long and prosper!
I love new beginnings:
“More than resolutions: How religious holidays, traditions prompt remembering, reflection: Reflection, coupled with the notion of new beginnings, is at the very core of many religious beliefs and practices, including during Easter, Passover, Christmas, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and the sacrament.”
The quality of articles published in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship during this coming year can only go up from today’s wretched beginning:
Abstract: In a pair of recent books, Patrick Mason and Terryl and Fiona Givens seek to revitalize, reinvigorate, and deepen our understanding of basic terms and concepts of the Restoration. I welcome such efforts, convinced (even where I sometimes quibble) that the conversations they will engender among faithful and committed believers can be very healthy. Now that “the times of refreshing [have] come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:18), it is imperative, both for ourselves and for a world that needs to hear the news, that we not lose sight of the radical freshness of the divine gift and of its comprehensively transforming power. My hope for The Interpreter Foundation is that — while joyfully recognizing, indeed celebrating, the fact that prophets and apostles lead the Kingdom, not academics and intellectuals — it will contribute not only to the defense of the Restoration but to the explication of Restoration doctrines and enhanced understanding and appreciation of their riches.
The article above is largely a response to Fiona and Terryl Givens, All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between. But I also mention Patrick Mason’s Restoration: God’s Call to the 21st-Century World several times.
As it happens, I received two copies of Restoration (along with a copy of All Things New) in the mail yesterday. There are three endorsements on the rear jacket cover. One of them is from Neylan McBaine, another is from Richard Bushman, and the third is from somebody else:
This stirring, significant, spirited, and brightly written book summons Latter-day Saints to reenvision the Restoration as, indeed, every generation must do if it is to remain maximally relevant and appealing without surrendering its essential claims. Part of that reenvisioning, Patrick Mason argues, should be a commitment to the renovation of the world which powerfully reminds me of tikkun olam, the religious duty of repairing the world advocated by Jewish thinkers since antiquity. Restoration: God s Ongoing Love for the World should and surely will stimulate an important conversation. –Daniel C. Peterson President, The Interpreter Foundation
I draw here upon Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018), pages 502-503:
They tell of Ole A. Jensen, a neighbor who lived just three blocks from the place where Martin Harris was living in Smithfield, Utah. Early in July 1875, Martin was seriously — and, as it turned out, fatally — ill. (He would die on 10 July 1875, at the age of 92.) Ole Jensen decided to visit Martin in order to hear his dying testimony. He found Martin lying on his bed, leaning on his elbow. Two others, John Godfrey and James Keep, were already there. When Brother Jensen asked to hear his testimony, Martin sat up, saying, according to Jensen’s account
I whis [wish] that I could <speak> loud enough that the whole world could hear my Testimony. Brether stand over so I can see you.
Then he stretched out his hand, and remarked
Brother, I believe there is an angel hear [sic] to hear what I shall tell you, and you shall never forget what I shall say.
At this point, he told about the appearance of the angel near the Peter Whitmer farm in June of 1829:
The Prophet [Joseph Smith] and Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself went into a little grove to pray, to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our own eyes. That we could testify to the world[.] We prayed two or three times, and at length the Angel stood before Oliver and David, and showed them the plates. But, Behold I had gone myself to pray and in my desperation I asked the Prophet to kneel down with me, and pray for me, that I may see the plates. And we did so and immediately the Angel stood before me and said ‘look’ and when I glanced at him I fell. But I stood on my feet and saw the Angel turn the golden leaves over, and I said “it is enough, My Lord and My God! Then I heared the voice of God say the book is true, and translated correctly. (502)
At first, Martin appeared to have finished with his account. Then, again following Ole Jensen’s account, he suddenly resumed:
‘Again Brother as sure as you are standing hear and see me Just as sure did I see the Angel with the golden plates, in his hand: and he showed them to me I have promised that I will bear witness of this truth both hear and hearafter.’ His lips trembled and tears came into my eyes. . . . When I think of the day I stood befor Martin Harris and saw him stretch forth his hand and raise his voice and bear testimomy the feeling thrilled my whole being, I can never forget nor can I express the Joy that filled my soul. This is a true statement. Signed Ole A. Jensen.
Sigh. Here’s a new item from the sadly necessary Neville-Neville Land blog:
And, finally, we might as well begin the New Year of 2021 with a couple of items from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File:
Some of the materials in this article from the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the linked videos, are also appropriate to the Hitchens File: