Did Mormons invent Wing Dings?

Wing Dings font...

Wing Dings font...

 

A little while ago, I was talking to a non-Mormon coworker.  He, of course, knew I was Mormon, and as we were talking, he said (in all seriousness): “I heard that Mormons are the ones that invented the Wing Dings font as a secret language”.

In case you’re not familiar, Wing Dings are a font available in Microsoft Word (since version 3.1) that renders letters as symbols.

I thought it was amazing that somehow, somewhere, somebody started this rumor.  I couldn’t help but laugh, as I took the opportunity to explain the inaccuracy of his understanding.

First, to set the record straight, for everyone out there wondering if Mormons invented Wing Dings… no, we didn’t.  In fact, Microsoft created Wing Dings by combining characters licensed from Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes (both Type designers).

But while this particular misconception was harmless (cute, even), many are not.  Many are created as propaganda and are proliferated around the internet (and conversations), and can become a great stumbling block to genuine people seeking the truth.

And so I renew my invitation… to all those who have questions about Mormonism, who have heard things that sound suspicious, ask (here).  We’ll answer you together. 

As Joseph Smith said “The standard of truth has been erected.  No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.  Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and columny may defame.  But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent.  Till it has penetrated every continent, swept every country, visited every clime, and sounded in every ear.  Till the work of the Lord shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say ‘the work is done’”.

Rusty

Are Mormons Christian? What truly defines a Christian?

This post is a continuation of the series “Are Mormons Christian“.

In the comments on the post “Are Mormons Christian? Do doctrinal difference define us“, the Pondering Pastor and I began a most crucial discussion that strikes at the very heart of this matter.

The post was about the importance of having a commonality of definitions of terms for accurate communication.  How differences in belief do not disqualify someone from the definition of Christianity, since in truth, we all differ to some varying degree. 

If our doctrine differs by degrees, is it therefore possible to be 50% Christian, or 80%, depending on how greatly your doctrine departs from what is orthodox?  And is orthodoxy truly the best measure?  Wasn’t Christ himself unorthodox in his day?  How about Luther?

So to say to one “you’re not a Christian”, simply because their beliefs diverge from your own, is a definition that does us no good.

But then what is a good definition?  If the exact alignment of the details of our doctrine cannot qualify us as Christian, what can?  What is fair?  What is the righteous way to judge?

Fortunately, that answer has already been given.  Surely the Lord knew that so many varying beliefs would sprout up, and as such, gave us the mechanism with which we may judge.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

That is how you know a Christian.  Not by what they say they believe, but by what they demonstrate of their beliefs through their actions.

For as Matthew continues “…not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21)

In that chapter the Lord clearly teaches that men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.  If you’re finding grapes, you’re not in a thorn bush, but a vineyard.   “…neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”, but a “good tree bringeth forth good fruit”.  Hence, by their fruits ye shall know them.

Much can be discussed about doctrine.  What you believe, how you interpret scripture, what manner of baptism you subscribe to, etc.  But those don’t define a Christian.  Being Christ-like is what makes a Christian. 

For actions are the evidence of faith.   Remember, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)

And as we read in John “though ye believe not me, believe the works:  that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:38)”

That is the one true, fair, and righteous way to define a Christian.  By their works, not their talk.  “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).

Rusty

Sacramental cleansing

At my nephew’s baptism this last weekend, my brother in law spoke and used a wonderfully vivid analogy I’d like to expound upon.

He lives in Hawaii, and as you might expect, regularly visits the beach with his family.  He explained that each day, hundreds of people would come to the beach.  They’d spend hours playing on the sand, building castles and sculptures, and digging holes.  At the end of the day, the beach would be left scarred, nearly completely covered with signs of such daily use.

But no matter how scarred the beach became, early the next day, there it was, clear and clean, as though no one had ever stepped foot on it before.

He explained that late at night, high tide would come in, and the waves from the ocean would crash against the sand, washing away the marks of the past, and leaving in its wake a clear and pristine surface, ready again for another day.

He observed how much this is like baptism, and after baptism, the sacrament.  During the week, our lives naturally begin to show signs of wear, the signs of life, proof of our imperfections… the scars of mortality. 

Still, each week, we have the opportunity to present ourselves at the feet of our Savior, to cast our burdens upon him, to take His name upon us, and to wash away the marks of the past.

Spiritual entropy is unavoidable, but in His divine mercy and love, He has provided a mechanism whereby we might regularly cleanse ourselves, and become pure again.

Our gratitude to Him for such a reachable and attainable instrument should cause our hearts to swell and our minds to expand, but all too often the commonness of the sacrament causes it to lose value in our eyes. 

It’s the law of scarcity.  Those things that we perceive of being most scarce, we place the highest value upon.  Yet here is something directly within our grasp that is powerful beyond comprehension, and available to us on a weekly basis.

How grateful I am for the magnificence of the sacrament, for the love it symbolizes.  May I try harder each week, to present myself in the environment of the sacrament with a bit more humility, a bit more gratitude, a bit more self reflection, and a bit more reverence, that each week my life might be freed of the scars of the past.

Rusty

 

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Holiness to the Lord, the story of John Rowe Moyle

Last night in the General Priesthood session of the October 2008 General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was discussing the need for Latter-day Saints to “Stand close together, and lift where you stand” (here), encouraging us not to aspire to callings, nor to shun them.

He recounted the story of John Rowe Moyle, a master of stonework who came west with the earliest handcart companies in 1846.  He settled in Alpine Utah, which was nearly 22 miles away from downtown Salt Lake City.  He was called to be a stone mason on the Salt Lake Temple.  In order to fulfill his calling, and to be to work by 8:00 in the morning, every Monday Brother Moyle would wake up at 2:00 a.m., and begin his long walk over the hill, and through the valley to the temple of the Lord.

He would spend the week in Salt Lake, working on the temple, and then on Friday, at 5:00 p.m., he would start the long walk home, where he would tend to the duties of his farm over the weekend.

One weekend, while tending to his farm, he was kicked as one of his cows bolted while milking, resulting in a compound fracture to his leg.  In the lack of any sophisticated medical help at the time, the only available solution for his injury was amputation.  His family and friends removed a door from its hinges, and strapped him onto it, and then removed his leg with a hacksaw.

As soon as he was able, once he could sit up in bed, he took a piece of wood, and using his carving skills, carved an artificial limb for himself so that such a little thing like the loss of a leg would not prevent him from walking each week to work on the temple.

As soon as he was able to stand the pain from walking on his stub leg, he again journeyed to the temple, and resumed his work, which he did for many years to come.

Amongst other stone work, Brother Moyle was responsible for carving the “Holiness to the Lord” stone upon the east side of the temple (images below).

Here is a map of how far he walked.  According to Google Maps, it says that drive (in a car, with a freeway) would take 55 minutes (click the map to view in Google Maps, with the ability to zoom, for better appreciation of scale).

(click image above for a larger view)

(Click image above for a larger view)

On Temple Square, there’s a sculptor of John Rowe Hoyle pushing a handcart with his wife (click for a larger view).

(Click image above for larger view)

Conference Countdown – Ways to participate

As I mentioned here, General Conference is fast approaching, and we’ll yet again have the incredible opportunity to listen to a living prophet and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, along with many other general authorities of the church, and hear what specific instructions they have for us, knowing the unique trials facing us today.

To ensure that the maximum numbers of people are able to participate, the Church has gone to great lengths to make conference available in almost every conceivable format and in almost 100 different languages.

First and foremost, you can watch the live worldwide broadcast (click here for a broadcast schedule – pdf), but it will also be available on the radio, as video streams, audio streams, and even an all new media player option.

 

NEW MEDIA PLAYER!

Their new media player constantly monitors your network and optimizes the stream quality accordingly so you get continuous play (no pauses).  And in addition to live video, it also gives you a number of great new features, including…

 

  • Instant access to completed talks
  • Instant access to completed conference sessions
  • Access to other video archives (so many good videos)
  • Let’s you pause and restart whenever you want

Click here to get the new media player (also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and American Sign Language).

Click here to see all your viewing links and options, including a list of all languages covered.

The 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), will follow the following schedule (all times MST, click here for more time zone information).

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

10:00 a.m. – General Session
2:00 p.m. – General Session
6:00 p.m.  – Priesthood Session (not publicly broadcast, but viewable at most Stake Centers)

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

9:30 a.m. – Music and the Spoken Word (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
10:00 a.m. – General Session
2:00 p.m. – General Session

Don’t miss it.
Rusty

 

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I can finally breathe

As I mentioned when I posted those pictures of me in the hospital (here), last Friday I went in for septoplasty.  I’d broken my nose when I was about 10 years old, and now, 25 years later, I finally went in to get my deviated septum fixed.

In spite of my smiling pictures, the experience was less than enjoyable.  It’s funny how much we take breathing for granted.  Then, to keep your septum straight (after they re-break it), they shove these over-large, two-inch-long plastic doohickeys up your nose and then send you home to “rest”.

At long last, almost 6 days later, I went in yesterday to have these doohickeys removed (doohickey is the medical term for these nasal devices).

Like a good boy, I sat in the chair while the doctor plunged forward with his little doctor-tweezers, suggesting that I “hold still”.  I cannot describe what came next, and I was confused for a fraction of a second that a human could be so cruel, and then I took a breath.

My brain was flooded with more oxygen than I ever remember acquiring.  It was miraculous.  The doctor (having fun now, of course) began laughing at my stunned silence and shocked expression.  I let him laugh, I was too busy breathing.  After 25 years of obstructed airflow, I suddenly felt what it was like to take a full breath of air.  It was almost intoxicating.  It’s something you cannot describe.

After leaving the office, I went to the parking lot and sat in my car.  For 30 minutes.  Just breathing.

And then I was angry at myself for having not done it earlier, realizing I had deprived myself for so many long years of this amount of oxygen.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I suddenly realized how much this is like the restored gospel of Christ.  Without the fullness of the restored gospel, we’re receiving only partial access to truth, eternal principles, divine guidance, and the blessings associated with each of these.  We go on, assuming this is simply what it’s like, this is all there is, and doing our best to manage with what we’ve got.

But then, when we experience the fullness of the restored gospel, embracing the truths that lie within it, those obstructions are removed, and we witness the full force of the beautiful, rich, and empowering gospel of Christ.  It hits you hard, wakes you up, and suddenly, having the fullness about you, you realize the limitations of what you had before, and perhaps even regret that it took so long.

Those who grow up in the gospel, often take for granted the amount of life-giving “oxygen” they’ve been blessed with.

But whether you come to embrace the fully restored gospel sooner, or later, it only matters that you do it sometime.  It’s just that the sooner you do, the longer you’ll have to enjoy such unobstructed spiritual “breathing”.

How grateful I am for Joseph Smith, who restored the Church of Jesus Christ, and that while I went 25 years with only partial access to oxygen, I was able to experience the fullness of the gospel all the while.

I so strongly hope, that all may “breathe” as I do.

Rusty

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Writing on an open canon, line upon line

One of the foundational principles taught in scripture is that we are given “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”, but many overlook the magnificent implications of this profound principle.

The unstated, but astoundingly clear premise of this principle is simply “what I have given you, is not all I have to give” and “what I have taught you, is not all I have to teach”, followed with a resounding and exhilarating “…there’s more”.

What beautiful and compelling doctrine, for at its heart is the promise of continued revelation, and the assurance that what he has already taught us, will be added upon. 

That refreshing realization revitalizes our search for truth and renews our need for a religion whose philosophy embraces the ideals of ongoing communication from God.

For God has always communicated with Man, through prophets, an ancient and historically proven  pattern.  And as he does so, they record his words, as they did in Ancient Isreal which brought us the Bible.

And within the Bible Christ himself declared that he had other sheep that should hear his voice, other people to visit and teach.   Those too heard his voice, and recorded his words, bringing us the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, and another witness that God gives man line upon line, precept upon precept.

And finally, the Lord restored his pattern of prophets to the earth, through Joseph Smith, thus renewing the ongoing availability of prophetic guidance and instruction to the true followers of Christ, that our divinely outlined “line upon line” instruction may be endlessly fed by inspired leaders of God.

That’s the miracle of Mormonism, wholeheartedly embracing the principle of progression, line upon line, precept upon precept, ever looking for that next line, that next precept, rather than the devestatign proclamation that “we’ve had enough”.

Rusty

P.S.  Click here “Discussing an open canon” for further reflection and discussion on the subject.  See also a video of Jeffrey R. Holland discussing an open cannon on “Gods words never cease

 

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