Monday, October 27, 2014

Miracle of the Washington, D.C. Temple Guard Dog

              The original sketch concept of the Washington, D.C. Temple, by Keith W. Wilcox.

By Lynn Arave

SOMETIMES it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.
I'd heard the tale of the miraculous Washington, D.C. LDS Temple "guard dog," but wondered if it was really true, or was it one of those "faith-promoting rumors" -- an urban legend of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
-Finally, on Oct. 27, 2014, I got a chance to visit with and interview Sister Viva May Wilcox, widow of one of the D.C. Temple's four architects, the late Keith W. Wilcox of Ogden, Utah. (Wilcox's sketch was used for the Temple's outside design.)
She said the story was true. She didn't recall what the dog was called, though.
She said a large dog did indeed strangely show up at the temple grounds right when it was needed, to help curb the theft of construction materials at the temple site overnight.
However, unlike the story version I had heard, when the temple was finished, the canine simply disappeared and was never seen again. Sister Wilcox said no one knows where it came from, or what happened to it. The animal simply acted like it was supposed to guard the grounds after the workers left for the night.
(In the story version I heard, the dog died when the temple was finished and was buried at the temple site. That is probably just an embellishment of the original story.)
So, there's the dog miracle of the LDS Church.
And, ALL dogs do go to heaven ...


  A stained glass-like rendition of the Washington, D.C. LDS Temple, that the Wilcox home has hanging in the front window.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Oldies" Temple Endowment Night?

ONE of my former missionary companions came up with an intriguing idea the other day ... Why not have an "oldies" or a "throw back in time" night at some LDS Temples once in a while?

These nights could feature endowment films from earlier decades.
There are three new LDS Temple endowment films in use right now, but there are other versions from the '90s and before.

Of course, since there have been some endowment wording changes made over the decades, perhaps some of the older movies would not be appropriate for today's use (without some voice over work anyway).
Some of the acting in the old movies was excellent, though.

I think I saw the LDS Church's first-ever endowment film at the London Temple in 1975. (London and Switzerland had the first-ever endowment movies in use, even before any in the U.S.)

Previously, in 1972, I had watched the first-ever U.S. endowment film in the Ogden Temple. The Ogden Temple was the first in the U.S. to have a temple endowment film in use.

(The Salt Lake and Manti temples remain the only 2 temples that still feature "live" acting for the endowment.)

I think there were at least a couple of endowment films that came out in the 1990s, if not some other ones too.

-Of course, the temple is NOT a place for entertainment, it is for the serious nature of temple work for the dead and living. 
-I'm just talking having a little nostalgia thrown in the mix once in a while, perhaps a few days of the year when temple work has statistically been shown to be slow ... Such a feature could increase attendance then.

-And, seeing some old endowment movies could teach a little about history and change.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back when you could 'Review' LDS Sacrament Meetings ...

I found this intriguing "Sacrament meeting checklist" (copied below) in the September 1961 Improvement Era magazine, page 679 (forerunner to today's Ensign Magazine).
The list wanted members to rate their Sacrament meeting quality, with 340 total points possible. I especially liked question No.15: "Did the speaker(s) ramble?" (worth 0-10 points). 
Nothing like that would fly 53 years later .....
Of course, that was back in the pre-three-hour block time era when Sacrament meetings were 1 1/2 hours or more too.

-What is bothersome about some talks in sacrament meetings?
Speakers who clearly have not timed their talks and have no idea how long it is and/or who can't end on time.


-Another change is that in recent years: most Sacrament meeting talks are plain routine. The LDS Church went from letting speakers talk about pretty much what they wanted to in most of the 20th Century to giving rigid, assigned subjects -- even to returned missionaries -- today.
Many talks today are just recapping what was said at the last General Conference.
Also, "guest" speakers -- those from outside your ward or stake -- pretty much vanished in the 21st Century.
It is somewhat of a balancing act -- teaching basic and correct doctrine while keeping the audience listening. If no one is really listening to a speaker, why are they speaking?
Yes, the LDS Church is a lay Church, without professionals, but having more interesting subjects and speakers would always be a plus.
Hopefully a change in 2015 to have Ward Councils also have input on Sacrament meeting speakers/topics -- with bishopbrics -- could be another future positive.





Monday, October 13, 2014

Is hunting animals OK in a Gospel Sense?

                    Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park, where hunting is outlawed.

Is hunting animals in the modern age OK?

You can decide for yourself after reading material from LDS Church leaders below:

Is it a sin to kill animals wantonly?
That was a question President Joseph Fielding Smith answered in the August 1961 Improvement Era Magazine (forerunner to today's Ensign Magazine).

This was advice on hunting or killing animals 17 years before President Spencer W. Kimball did so in October 1978 General Conference.

President Smith told the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith advocating the brethren on a trip with him not to kill some rattlesnakes.

"I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during my journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger," Joseph Smith said.

On another occasion the Prophet shot a squirrel some of the brethren were watching in a tree and then walked way, leaving the dead animal on the ground.

Brother Orson Hyde picked up the dead animal and said, 'We will cook it that nothing may be lost.'

"I perceived that the brethren understood what I did it for, and in their practice gave more heed to be precept than to my example which was right," the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said there are times when killing animals is necessary when it is the survival of the fittest, or when animals may become a plague to mankind.


                  A water snake on a rock by the South Fork of the Ogden River.

(For example, during the construction of the Manti Temple, some 300 rattlesnakes had to be killed, since they infested the ground underneath the temple building site.)

President Joseph F. Smith stated: "I never could see why a man should be imbued with a blood-thirsty desire to kill and destroy animal life ... I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food."

President Joseph F. Smith then said it is wrong to hunt deer, antelope, elk, just for the fun of it, or just because a person likes to shoot and destroy life.

President Spencer W. Kimball's 1978 sermon was:
"Our Father in Heaven was gracious enough to give to us for our pleasure and convenience all life on earth. Let me read to you from his personal statement:
'And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
'And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
'And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
'And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.' (Gen. 1:20, 29–31.)
"I read at the priesthood meeting at the last conference the words to the verse of the song years ago, “Don’t Kill the Little Birds,” with which I was familiar when I was a child growing up in Arizona. I found many young boys around my age who, with their flippers and their slings, destroyed many birds.
"In Primary and Sunday School we sang the song:
Don’t kill the little birds
That sing on bush and tree,
All thro’ the summer days,
Their sweetest melody.
"As I was talking to the young men at that time all over the world, I felt that I should say something more along this line.
"I suppose in every country in the world there are beautiful little birds with their beautiful plumage and their attractive songs.
"I remember that my predecessor, President Joseph Fielding Smith, was a protector of these feathered and other wild life creatures.
"While President Smith at one time was in the Wasatch Mountain Area, he befriended the creatures from the hill and forest. He composed four little verses as follows, and opposite each he drew a little picture. Of the mountain squirrel first, he wrote:
This is little Chopper Squirrel
Up in the mountains high.
He begs us for some grains of corn,
With thanks he says goodbye.
And then the bat was next:
This is little Tommy Bat
Who flies around at night.
He eats the bugs and ‘skeeters’ too,
Which is a thing quite right.
Then he came to the deer:
This is little Bambi Deer
Who comes to the cabin homes.
She licks the salt we feed to her,
And on the mountain roams.
And then the birds:
This, our little feathered friend
Who sings for us all day.
When comes the winter and the cold,
He wisely flies away.
"Now, I also would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life. I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been expressed here by the prophets.
"And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals. For that purpose I read the scripture where the Lord gave us all the animals. Seemingly, he thought it was important that all these animals be on the earth for our use and encouragement."
"President Joseph F. Smith said, 'When I visited, a few years ago, the Yellowstone National Park, and saw in the streams and the beautiful lakes, birds swimming quite fearless of man, allowing passers-by to approach them as closely almost as tame birds, and apprehending no fear of them, and when I saw droves of beautiful deer [feeding] along the side of the road, as fearless of the presence of men as any domestic animal, it filled my heart with a degree of peace and joy that seemed to be almost a foretaste of that period hoped for when there shall be none to hurt and none to molest in all the land, especially among all the inhabitants of Zion. These same birds, if they were to visit other regions, inhabited by man, would, on account of their tameness, doubtless become more easily a prey to the gunner. The same may be said of those beautiful creatures—the deer and the antelope. If they should wander out of the park, beyond the protection that is established there for these animals, they would become, of course, an easy prey to those who were seeking their lives. I never could see why a man should be imbued with a blood-thirsty desire to kill and destroy animal life. I have known men—and they still exist among us—who enjoy what is, to them, the ‘sport’ of hunting birds and slaying them by the hundreds, and who will come in after a day’s sport, boasting of how many harmless birds they have had the skill to slaughter, and day after day, during the season when it is lawful for men to hunt and kill (the birds having had a season of protection and not apprehending danger) go out by scores or hundreds, and you may hear their guns early in the morning on the day of the opening, as if great armies had met in battle; and the terrible work of slaughtering the innocent birds goes on.
'I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong, and I have been surprised at prominent men whom I have seen whose very souls seemed to be athirst for the shedding of animal blood.'" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939, pp. 265–66.)
-"Is it not an excellent time for man to set the example as the Prophet has said?" President Joseph Fielding Smith asked in 1961.
-Every Fall I watch as thousands of men and women along the Wasatch Front of Northern Utah -- including many active church members -- go to the hills to hunt deer; or pheasants.
I'd say the "why" they do it is the key question.
"And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands," Genesis 9:11, in the Joseph Smith Biblical translation states.

-First and foremost, the meat hunters secure must be 
used.
Secondly, I'd advise hunters to examine their hearts for 
their true motivations. 
Personally I regret killing a few birds and a rockchuck 
as a teenager -- and if I had to kill for my own meat, I 
likely couldn't even bring myself to kill cattle -- unless 

I was starving and so I might be a vegetarian under 

ideal circumstances.

My father used to love pheasant hunting and many of 

my uncles were avid deer hunters, but none of that 

ever appealed to me  ...

-There' s no evidence that meat was eaten before Noah's time -- that is after the Great Flood, so I'm certain there will be no meat eating in the Millennium, when the world returns to Garden of Eden conditions.

Only the Lord will judge us in this regard -- and that's wise as only he knows the intent of a hunter's heart -- and that seems to be the key factor here.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sometimes Temple Work can be simply miraculous, when you least expect it ....

    My wife and son walking to the Rexburg Temple before experiencing a simple "miracle."

IT is October 8, 2014.
I'm heading back from Yellowstone National Park with two family members and we have a plan and the time to visit two temples on the way home for some temple work.
My original plan is to go to the Idaho Falls Temple and then Logan, Utah Temple.
However, as I approach Rexburg, I feel prompted to go there first.
"Why?" I thought. The other two temples are historic.
A strong feeling to go to the Rexburg Temple persists and I finally ask my wife about it. She and then my son agree to do just that.
We enter the temple and inquire if any sealing work is needed. Go upstairs and ask was the reply.
We dress and go upstairs.
A sealing session is in progress. An older woman, who can't hear well, has a list of family names being done. We are quickly invited in -- not a second of waiting here!
We go in and the temple sealer not only pronounces our last name correctly (very rare), but takes particular interest in my son, who leaves on a mission to Hawaii in 5 weeks.
(Also, talking is done very loud for the elderly woman's benefit, another rarity inside any temple.) 
We do some sealing work, marriage and family sealings.
The spiritual feeling was so strong and uplifting that this family wanted ALL their work done as quickly as possible.
Some of the temple patrons in the room had to leave for other commitments. The work only proceeds because we are there.



We were there for a reason, I felt we were called off the freeway to go there and help finish that family's work.
I felt if I would have had the gift of the spirit that involves seeing through the earthly veil that day, that I would have seen happy people around. (Two of my family members not present that day do have that spiritual gift.)
I left the sealing and temple so uplifted and joyous for having done simple work that these deceased people could not do for themselves. Less than an hour commitment in time was all this took.
Yes, visiting Yellowstone on that trip was a treasure, but only of the eye candy variety -- something you could see and appreciate.
At the Rexburg Temple that day, it was what I could NOT see that was so monumental and everlasting though.
Yes, this was a very simply kind of miracle. Nothing earth-shattering, but makes you wonder what other promptings can and should be heard that you don't pick up on because of worldly conflicts and interference?
I should work hard to include temple visits in future vacations and trips.