“A Deeper Understanding of the Temple in 175 Entries”

“A Deeper Understanding of the Temple in 175 Entries” February 4, 2022


The Kona Hawaii Temple
On the grounds of Hawaii’s second temple, which overlooks the town of Kona on the western side of the Big Island of Hawaii  (LDS Media Library)




A new review article appeared earlier today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


“A Deeper Understanding of the Temple in 175 Entries,” by David M. Calabro

Review of Donald W. Parry, 175 Temple Symbols and Their Meanings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2020). 310 pages. $26.99 (hardcover).

Abstract: In a must-have book written for a Latter-day Saint audience, Donald Parry offers profound insights into 175 features of ancient and modern temples, including architectural features, aspects of ritual, and temple-related doctrine.




Here are a couple of passages from the late Hugh Nibley that I love:


We are pushed onto this earthly stage in the middle of the play that has been going on for thousands of years; we want to play an intelligent part and, in whispers, ask some of the older actors what this is all about—what are we supposed to be doing? And we soon learn that they know as little about it as we do.

Who can tell us the plot of the play? The sophic mind assures us that the play is simply a product of lighting, rocks, and wind and has no plot aside from the plots we invent for it. In that book things just happen—and there is no way of proving that that is not so. The mystic makes a virtue of the incomprehensibility of the whole thing; he submerges himself in the darkness of unknowing and wallows in his self-induced and self-dramatizing mood of contradictions: he is strictly a sophic, not a mantic, product.

The mantic admits that the play is incomprehensible to people of as little knowledge and experience as ours and insists for that reason that if we are to know anything at all about it, our knowledge must come from a higher source, by revelation. According to the mantic way of thinking, things do not just happen—and there is absolutely no way of proving that that is not so. The same starry heavens that have supplied the mantic with irrefutable proof since time immemorial that things do not just happen have always been the most self-evident proof in the world to the sophic that things do just happen. 

“Sophic and Mantic,” CWHN 10:370-71


Literature and art can help us enjoy or endure the play (of life), but cannot, by their own confession, tell us what it is about. Science as such confines itself rigorously to examining the props on the stage—measuring and describing tangible objects. It renounces the goal of comprehending the play as a whole. Philosophy would like to tell us what the play is about, but will not allow itself to run out of scientific bounds; it remains a scavenger in the camp of science. Religion alone can, if anything can, tell us the plot of the play from beginning to end—the eschatology without which it has no meaning. Even the layman cannot be indifferent (because):

a) We were made that way; we cannot rest until we know what it is all about (Aristotle, Augustine).

b) Indifference to eschatology is the mark of sterile societies, and can even be dangerous (Avicenna).

c) It is the unknown that appeals most: science and art can only promise more of the same; religion alone has the excitement of infinite possibilities (Whitehead).

Eschatology is not philosophy, ethics, or aesthetics. It deals exclusively with things that really happen. 

“Eschatology,” 1-2




I did some rummaging for you the other day in the infinitely capacious Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File© but then, unfortunately, allowed myself to become a bit sidetracked and failed to share my discoveries.  So, remembering that, for some of my readers at least, the outrages and depravities committed by theism have no time stamp or sell-by date — e.g., modern Quakers are very nearly as responsible for the Inquisition and the Crusades as the actual perpetrators were — I’m going to share them here despite the delay:


“Food Donations for Local Charities Received by Missouri Governor: More than 100,000 pounds of food donated through Latter-day Saint Charities”

“How Properly Fitted Wheelchairs Are Blessing Lives in South Africa”

“Elder Nattress Shares How Individuals Can Assist the People of Tonga Following Natural Disaster”

“Tongan Emergency Updates: 26 January Update: Communication opens up, humanitarian aid delivery and local clean-up continues”


On a different but still Hitchens-appropriate note, I found this of interest:


“The Believer’s Brain: The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life, by Lisa Miller (Random House, 288 pp., $28)”

A quotation from the review:  “[R]ates of psycho­pathology in adolescents are tremendously diminished through religious attachment. It turns out that teens actively involved in a church, temple, or mosque are less likely to drop out of school, self-harm, or suffer from despair. And if the goal is to prevent out-of-wedlock childbirth, it seems that religion is a powerful prophylactic. . . .  [F]aith can alleviate despair.”


And, by the way, it appears that I’m sometimes not alone there in the Hitchens File.  I’ve occasionally run into Dr. Lynn Johnson, who often comments here.  He has kindly shared the following two items with me, which I now pass on to you:


Religious Coping as Moderator of Psychological Responses to Stressful Events: A Longitudinal Study”

Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of positive and negative religious coping with posttraumatic symptoms (PTS) and growth (PTG). Their moderating role was also examined among predictors such as social support and the subjective severity of event with PTS and PTG. Two hundred and eleven Chilean adults (58.3% women) of 18 years and older who had been exposed to highly stressful were surveyed. The Brief-RCOPE, the Brief-COPE subscale of social support, the Subjective Severity of Event Scale, and a socio-demographic questionnaire were used as measurements at time one. The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory-short form (PTGI-SF) and Short Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Rating Interview (SPRINT-E) was used to collect baseline scores and six months after. The results show that negative religious coping predicts the increase in PTS, positive religious coping predicts the increase in PTG and plays a moderation role: at low levels of positive religious coping it was found a strong association between coping by seeking social support and PTG, while at high level the association is weak. These results are discussed in the framework of the functionality of positive and negative religious coping and its role in adjusting to potentially traumatic events. . . .
This article examines the role of religiosity and religious coping (RC) when adjusting to traumatic events, both in attenuation of symptoms and favouring positive effects of growth. . . .  Reviewed studies suggest the potential role of RC as a moderator between adjustment and others forms of coping like social support and also suggest that RC is different from other forms of coping—like coping by seeking social support.
There is evidence indicating that religiosity helps to cope with highly stressful or potentially traumatic events. 


“Blessed assurance: Religion, anxiety, and tranquility among US adults”

A growing body of research investigates the possible relationships between religion and mental health. After developing a series of arguments linking various aspects of religion with anxiety and tranquility, we test relevant hypotheses using data from the 1996 General Social Survey. Results show that frequency of religious attendance and the belief in an afterlife are inversely associated with feelings of anxiety and positively associated with feelings of tranquility. However, frequency of prayer has no direct association with either outcome. Strong beliefs in the pervasiveness of sin are positively linked with anxiety but unrelated to tranquility. Finally, belief in an afterlife and frequency of prayer buffer the adverse effects of poor health and financial decline on anxiety. Implications of these findings are discussed along with study limitations and promising directions for future research.


Posted from Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii



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