“Though its foundations may now be low in earth”

“Though its foundations may now be low in earth” February 24, 2023

 

Iron County's first temple
The Cedar City Utah Temple by night
(LDS Media Library)

 

“Elias: Prophet of the Restoration,” written by Jan Francisco

Abstract: The Prophet Elias is a puzzle, with a handful of pieces scattered through the standard works and the teachings of Joseph Smith. Rather than proving a point conclusively, this paper will put the pieces together to show a new picture of this important figure. The interpretation in this article weaves together the scriptures regarding Elias into a cohesive narrative, with the prophet Noah at the center. The pieces of the puzzle investigated here are Elias’s role as the angel Gabriel in the New Testament, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Kirtland Temple, in the Book of Revelation, and in D&C 27. These few visitations occur during significant transfers of priesthood power. Elias — the keyholder — is identified as holding “the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days” (D&C 27:6). This vast calling of restoring all things in the last days requires the original Elias (Noah) at the heavenly helm and various agents of Elias (John the Baptist and John the Beloved, among others) working on the earth during different phases of the restoration.

 

“Interpreting Interpreter: A Puzzling Elias,” written by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article “Elias: Prophet of the Restoration” by Jan Francisco in Volume 55 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreting-interpreter-on-abstracting-thought/.

The Takeaway: Francisco associates the figure of Elias with the prophet Noah, who held keys related to gathering, restoration, and covenantal renewal, bestowing those keys on others with a similar calling, including John the Baptist, John the Beloved, and ultimately the prophet Joseph Smith.

 

The young Orson F. Whitney
Orson F. Whitney, somewhere between 1870 and 1875

(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

There was a heady time, in the 1970s and perhaps a little bit beyond, where I thought that the promised dawn was about to break.  At BYU alone, there were such things as the “Mormon Arts Ball” and the “Mormon Festival of the Arts.”  Artists like Trevor Southey and Wulf Barsch and Franz Johansen were producing Restoration-themed works that I loved.  Leroy Robertson had just died, but composers like Crawford Gates and Merrill Bradshaw were doing very good things.

I realize now that we have a long road to travel before we arrive.  But I still believe that the day will come

Here’s a passage from a famous essay on “Home Literature” that was first delivered as a speech by Bishop Orson F. Whitney as a speech at the Y.M.M.I.A. Conference of 3 June 1888 and that was subsequently published in The Contributor for July 1888.  Bishop Whitney was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1906, and served in that capacity until his death in 1931.  His 1888 words still resonate with me and, I know from conversations, with others.  They serve as a continual call to action:

Above all things, we must be original. The Holy Ghost is the genius of “Mormon” literature. Not Jupiter, nor Mars, Minerva, nor Mercury. No fabled gods and goddesses; no Mount Olympus; no “sisters nine,” no “blue-eyed maid of heaven”; no invoking of mythical muses that “did never yet one mortal song inspire.” No pouring of new wine into old bottles. No patterning after the dead forms of antiquity. Our literature must live and breathe for itself. Our mission is diverse from all others; our literature must also be. The odes of Anacreon, the satires of Horace and Juvenal, the epics of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton; the sublime tragedies of Shakspeare [sic]; these are all excellent, all well enough in their way; but we must not attempt to copy them. They cannot be reproduced. We may read, we may gather sweets from all these flowers, but we must build our own hive and honeycomb after God’s supreme design.

We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God’s ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God’s name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth. Let the smile of derision wreathe the face of scorn; let the frown of hatred darken the brow of bigotry. Small things are the seeds of great things, and, like the acorn that brings forth the oak, or the snowflake that forms the avalanche, God’s kingdom will grow, and on wings of light and power soar to the summit of its destiny.

 

The legendary but real candy store of which I heard all my young life.
(From the Judd General Store Facebook page, which, I hope, will approve my use of this photograph to promote Judd’s)

 

Before heading back up to Utah Valley today, we paid our mandatory visit — albeit only one this time around, and that a very brief one — to Snow Canyon State Park.  The colors always change, from morning till evening, but this time, with the highlights provided by the recent snow storm, seemed especially nice.  And, oh yes — remember that the two principal themes of this blog, according to some of its critics, are, first, dishonest personal smears of people who don’t share my religious views and, second, food — we stopped by Thomas Judd’s general store again and also dropped by a patisserie called Farmstead, of which I had never previously heard.  We only tried Farmstead’s quiche Lorraine this morning; we brought the rest of our purchases home with us.  But the quiche was excellent and the other things we bought look really good, as well.  At Judd’s, I bought some Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda for one of my sons.  (I’m not making this up.  The more disgusting it sounds, the more he’ll like it.  “Breakfast in a Bottle!” says the label.)  Unfortunately, they were out of Cheerwine, which is what I wanted.  I mean, I like chocolate.  I like maple syrup and maple cookies.  And I really, really like bacon.  But Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda?  I think not.

Stopping for a while in Cedar City, we met a long-time friend of ours for lunch.  I first met him at Brigham Young University before our missions; he was at our wedding in the Salt Lake Temple.  After many years in New York City and Chicago, he now lives in Cedar City.  It’s always great to catch up.

We really wanted to see Kolob Canyons under heavy snow but, unsurprisingly, the road back into the canyons from I-15 was impenetrable and completely closed.

 

 


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