Thursday, April 16, 2015

Open Letter: Parents Need A Philosophy Of Reading


An Open Letter to My Children, Grandchildren, and Young Parents Worldwide© 

Reports of various studies regarding literacy and reading from many venues are not only dismal, they are alarming! Many people wiser than me tell us that the basis of civilization and society depends on an educated citizenry, and literacy is at the heart of that education. The ignorant are vulnerable to tyrants of all kinds, economic and other forms of abuse, loss of freedoms and perhaps even slavery, not to mention the degradation in the quality of life itself. Schools are only part of the answer.  

The real solution comes out of the home. We have many examples, both positive and negative, which illustrate the power of the home in developing or abandoning literacy, and it doesn’t necessarily depend on either economic or educational status–as potent as these factors are. Many reared by illiterate and poor parents, or even without parents, have been taught and encouraged to improve their condition by learning to read and gain an education. The lessons for young parents are obvious, but I want to stress one important point that I have come to believe is often overlooked even by those committed to the education of their children. It was in my life. I have come to the counsel I give below by hard experience, and an investment of much time, study, and thought. 

It seems to be the rare young couple who have a very comprehensive understanding of the importance of reading and education to the individual, community, nation, and world, beyond the vague notion that society depends upon it, or they are necessary to “get a good job.” This is due to the fact that one’s own parents did not possess such an understanding and therefore did not transfer it to their children. In addition, most teachers in our schools do not possess a well developed philosophy of education either–so how can a young parent be expected to have one?  

That is my point, you as young parents need to do some serious study, thinking, and discussing about these matters so you come to a deep understanding of the importance and value of reading and education, and so you can transmit to your offspring such a vision and such a set of values that it will motivate them to become life-long learners and to transmit that same set of values in a powerful way to their offspring and their generation. Here are a set of questions that can help you to evaluate the state of your present understanding and to help develop your philosophy.

  • In the last quarter of the twentieth century, Sterling W. Sill said a “Gallup Poll indicated that 56 percent of all American adults never completely read a single book after their formal education has been completed.” [Sterling W. Sill, The Majesty of Books, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), p. 16.] How do you measure up to that question? Are you one who has not read a book or very few books following your formal education? If so, why? What does your answer to these questions say about your understanding about the value and importance of reading?
  • How much have you thought, discussed and read about your responsibility as a parent to teach your children the importance of reading and of education in general? Have you read a single article or book on the subject of reading, before this one? Can you make a detailed list of the skills which are necessary to be a good reader in today’s world? What attitudes and traits must successful readers have? Now would be a good time to start such a list.
  • Do you have an articulated philosophy of reading? Articulate it, by writing it down. After you have done so, what is your evaluation of your philosophy? Does it seem weak and thoughtless, or have you considered many things in relationship to the important activity of reading? Are there other areas you should think about in relationship to reading? List them and begin to make some notes about those subjects. Come back and think about it regularly and add new thoughts and ideas. 
  • Do you have some large gaps in your understanding of the importance of reading? Is yours only a vague notion of its value, or can you be specific with your reasons? Is your list comprehensive, or only in the embryonic stage? If the latter, all the more important to get started so your children will have the benefit of your effort as soon as possible.
  • Do you understand that all mortals are born into a state of total ignorance? Do you understand that this is important to know because some of mankind’s worst enemies–superstition, intolerance, prejudice, and fear as well as other things--are the ugly step-children of that ignorance?  Do you believe a few years of elementary and secondary education, plus life-experience, is a sufficient body of knowledge in the face of the infinite number of important things one could but does not know? Therefore, do you believe that one of the challenges of mortality is to labor throughout life to learn and to eradicate ignorance? Do you believe that for these very reasons reading is never done?
  • Why do you value or devalue reading? Elaborate on this subject. Spell out what you think in detail. What experiences have you had, what prejudices do you harbor that color your view of reading? Are they legitimate? As you answer these questions you will learn a lot about yourself, maybe even discover a few things you don’t like. If you don’t value reading what can you do to change that, besides rationalize that you have been successful without reading, or know many who are?
  • Can you meaningfully and convincingly teach a child the value of the hard work required to learn to read, to gain many skills of reading such as speed, comprehension, and evaluation, as opposed to the fun of playing video games or watching TV? If you don’t yet understand this yourself, perhaps your philosophy of reading and education needs some tuning up. Can you, like Jewish mothers, figuratively put honey on the cover of a book so children will grow up associating sweetness with reading?
  • What is your philosophy about the relative importance of experience compared to reading in terms of learning? Is one more valuable than another? If so, why? If not, why? How do they provide knowledge in different categories? In your view, is the choice between one or the other, or do you believe and can you articulate your belief, that  both are necessary?
  • List and elaborate on the many ways reading not only facilitates education, but is useful, nay, essential in modern life. Do you understand the various roles reading plays in developing the spiritual side of human beings? Could you write a meaningful brief essay on the role reading plays in creating and maintaining a civilized society? Or, how about an essay on how reading may contribute to and enhance creativity?  Could you do the same about the many ways reading enriches one’s personal life?
  • Among all that one can know, do you believe there are some priorities–some things that are more important to know than others? If you do have priorities, what are they, and why should they be priorities in learning? (Slow down a bit here. Is it possible that your list may be misdirected, that it is simply an unexamined list of your own personal likes or preferences? It is possible that you haven’t examined and weighed this matter as much as you should have.) How have you done with your list? Do you set a proper example in this regard for your children and others, or is it a mater of “do as I say, not as I do” for you? Or, are you easily distracted from your self-determined priorities by the exigencies of life, giving in to the desire for leisure and “fun,” or simply lack the self-discipline to follow through on what you really believe is important?
  • Project yourself 40 years into the future. Will you regret neglecting books in your youth and throughout your life? Please believe me, bitter experience will finally teach you of the foolishness of your ways. A mind is a terrible thing to waste; the consequences of doing so are heavy and long-lasting.
  • Do you know how to find the “good books”? Do you have a clear notion of what may constitute a good book? What criteria would you use to make that judgment? How are you personally doing in becoming acquainted with all good books? What do you need to change and to do in order to fulfill this important commandment?
  • Can you explain to a child, or anyone for that matter, the benefits of reading a book rather than simply seeing the movie version? Is it clear to you what beneficial things and activities get lost in watching a movie that are present while reading a book?
  • If your child challenged you about going to school or learning to read, can you give them a list of positive reasons for doing so? Can you really defend the activity of reading? In a powerful and convincing way, or are your thoughts about the subject confused, uncertain, amorphous? If your list isn’t well over twenty-five items long, I suggest you have more thinking to do about the subject.
  • Do you believe that there are more important reasons for being well educated  than simply getting a good job, being wealthy, or having a life-style that allows you to have all the material goods and leisure time you want? If so, list them. Do you believe that reading is one of the most important pleasures available to man, and can you convey to your child the joy of the life of the mind? If you don’t believe this, I suggest you do additional reading and thinking about it, because there is a huge and very important aspect of life that you have not yet experienced or discovered that will hinder you from convincing and motivating your children to read–and it may explain your own lack of motivation to be a life-long learner.
  • Do you have the philosophy that you are a “doer” and that you have neither the time nor the inclination for reading and learning? Are you transmitting that same philosophy to your children? Is it more important to you to take your family hunting, skiing, to sports arenas, or other forms of recreation than to hit the books? Does it have to be one or the other? What about balance in life? What about the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of very busy and very successful people who have learned that to keep abreast of their profession and to simply have a more enriched life they must devote some time daily to reading and self-improvement? Here, I suggest reading Edward Wagenknecht, Seven Worlds of Theodore Roosevelt, Lyons Press, 2010, because he was one of the great men of both action and thought.
  • Do you believe that being well informed is critical to success in almost any job today, even those considered “blue collar” jobs? Why?
  • Do you believe that a single book, has the power to change a person’s life? Is that true in your life, or the lives of anyone you know? Can you explain to your children why a book can change a life? Can you tell a child or anyone else, in an authoritative knowledgeable way more than one story of someone whose life was changed by a book?
  • Do you understand and believe that reading is important to:
  1. Simply gaining knowledge, understanding, and wisdom
  2. Foster thinking, pondering, meditation
  3. Generating questions of all kinds, some of which are catalysts for further study, many of which are important for the present, and some for the future
  4. Stimulating the imagination and facilitating creativity
  5. Redirecting a life; inspiring change
  6. Awakening a life-long interest in something
  7. The development and refinement of one’s character, values, and the principles by which one lives
  8. Developing other skills of communication, such as the expansion of vocabulary, or the strength, power, and/or beauty of expression, verbal and written; helping one become a better writer, speaker, and speller
  9. Stimulating your own original and unique thoughts; shaping thinking, teaching one how to think, analyze, assess, and evaluate
  10. Keeping a fresh outlook, expanding one’s perspective, and looking at life from many sides
  11. Understanding life; giving it deeper meaning and purpose
  12. Living a thousand different lives in one lifetime
  13. Traveling to inaccessible places all over the globe
  14. Enhancing personal achievement
  15. Charting and navigating through the dangerous seas of human life
  16. Learning new skills
  17. Challenging us, to be more, to do more
  18. Encouraging individuality and uniqueness
  19. Obtaining inspiration and motivation
  20. Shaping and/or changing our attitudes, beliefs and responses to situations
  21. Gaining the self-help one so often desires
  22. Learning about any conceivable subject
  23. Recreation and pleasure
  24. Success in one’s profession, avocation, hobbies and other interests; learning better ways to do your job
  25. Informing and altering opinions and beliefs
  26. Facilitating growing up rather than just growing old
  27. Improving our time (making effective use of time)
  28. Empowering individuals and societies
  29. Finding solutions to problems
  30. Associating with the greatest minds and hearts of the world in every endeavor and walk of life
  31. Finding understanding companions who can give us advice and encouragement for all the situations of life in which we find ourselves
  32. Break out of the prisons of our own parochialism
  33. Challenge and question our self-imposed limitations
  34. Gain knowledge and experience without wasting time by making all the mistakes ourselves
  35. Keeping a balance in life
  36. Having the necessary time to wrestle with and fully grasp difficult concepts and ideas
  37. Giving us a broader view of the human condition and human nature
  38. Piquing interest in new subjects and avenues of interest
  39. Life-long progression and growth
  40. Produce a “fire” inside for an infinite number of things or ideas
My fondest wish for my family and the families of America, indeed the world, would be that the wonderful art, pastime, skill, creativity enhancing, joy-giving, crucially essential activity we call reading will not become obsolete, lost, and forgotten in your life or in the society in which you live. Please think on these things and take this letter seriously. As you do, it will bless your life, the lives of your family and of your world.

God bless,

Danel W. Bachman

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Thirty-eight: The “Pure Logic And Downright Beauty” Of The Plan Of Salvation

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Is A Prophet

Evidence Thirty-eight:

I have written previously that one of Joseph Smith’s strengths as a prophet is his remarkable consistency in answering important, difficult and substantive religious questions. I am not the first to notice this, but I believe it is an element of his ministry that is not adequately explored and highlighted. Howard Coray served as a clerk to the Prophet during the Nauvoo period. He spoke of the “many valuable opportunities” this afforded him to learn from the Prophet as he entertained “a great many callers and visitors, ... doctors, lawyers, priests, and people.”  He continued,
“Not only were they anxious to see, but also to ask hard questions in order to ascertain his depth. Well, what did I discover? This, verily, that he was always equal to the occasion and perfectly master of the situation and possessed the power to make everybody realize his superiority.... I could clearly see that Joseph was the captain, no matter whose company he was in. Knowing the meagerness of his education, I was truly gratified at seeing how much at ease he always was, even in the company of the most scientific, and the ready, off-handed manner in which he would answer their questions.(1)
Wandle Mace, another acquaintance of the Prophet in Nauvoo, also spoke of this characteristic in Joseph.  He told of the “rare treat” it was when he and others could talk with the Prophet. When the opportunity came, someone would invite him to talk with them. When he asked them what they wanted to discuss this 
“would bring out some question for Joseph to answer, and then I could lean back and listen.  Ah what pleasure this gave me; he would unravel the scriptures and explain doctrine as no other man could. What had been mystery he made so plain it was no longer mystery.(2) 
In light of these statements I was extremely interested in a report of the assessment of the Finnish theologian Heikki Raisanen in a 1984 article about the Joseph Smith and the Bible. His article was translated into English by professor Douglas F. Tobler of the Department of History at BYU for Edwin Haroldsen, author of the article cited here. Raisanen pointed out that Joseph’s teachings “provide solutions for most, if not all, of the genuine problems and contradictions of the Bible with which scholars have wrestled for generations.”  Edwin Haroldsen continues that Raisanen said Joseph put
“his finger on a real, theological problem,” namely, the “delicate point” of the unity and consistency of God’s plan of salvation throughout the whole Bible.  Brother Tobler explains that without knowledge restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, theologians relying solely on their own interpretations of the Bible face difficult questions of faith like the following, raised by Raisanen: How can we say that God has an eternal plan of salvation when, according to traditional Christian theology, Jesus Christ brought a new way of salvation which the ancients did not know?  Did earlier generations actually know the divine plan of salvation, or did God mislead them by giving them a law that was both preparatory and transitory?  If, however, the ancients could, in fact, be saved by the law they knew, what was the need for Jesus Christ? Did God think of a better plan after his first one failed? 
Mr. Raisanen wrote that the Prophet Joseph Smith’s answer to these questions–that Jesus Christ carried out a single divine plan of salvation, a plan known by the ancient prophets–was to him a thing of  “pure logic and downright beauty.” In addition, he noted that these views of Joseph Smith are remarkably similar to those expressed in First Clemens’s letter, as well as in the writings of the Pseudepigrapha.(3)
Amazing!  Raisanen’s questions about the traditional evolutionary view of  Judaism and Christianity which sees the plan of salvation as changing from the Old Testament to the New Testament and the implications which that gives rise to, is one of the most honest assessments of traditional Christian theology of which I am aware. More importantly, his recognition that the answers to those questions which come through the Prophet Joseph Smith were “pure logic and downright beauty” resonates with the testimony of the Spirit in this man’s heart and constitutes an important evidence of the inspiration which permeated the life and thought of the Prophet.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Lets think together again, soon.


1.  Howard Coray, “Autobiography,” original in LDS Church Archives.  Typescript available online at:

2.  Autobiography of Wandel Mace, original in LDS Church Archives.  Typescript available online at: 

3.  Edwin O. Haroldsen, “Good and Evil Spoken Of,” Ensign (August 1995) p. 10, citing Douglas Tobler trans., Heikki Raisanen, "Joseph Smith und die Bibel: Die Leistung des mormonischen Propheten in neuer Belechtung," Theologische Literaturzeitung, Feb. 1984, pp. 83-92, emphasis added.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Thirty-seven: Joseph Smith’s Confidence In The Revelations He Received

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Is A Prophet

Evidence Thirty-seven:
Joseph Smith’s Confidence in the Revelations He Received© 

A hallmark of Mormonism is its belief in direct revelation from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This, of course, is prerequisite to the idea of an open canon of Scripture which is another hallmark of the faith. These companion principles are also perhaps the largest bone of contention between Mormonism and other Christian denominations. Joseph’s revelations and his work as a divinely appointed translator of ancient scriptural writings along with his inspired corrections to the Bible have resulted in the impressive production of approximately nine hundred pages of scripture. This alone is a great evidence of his prophetic calling. However, there is another aspect of this work that must itself not be overlooked as evidence that it came from God.  What is it?  Joseph's great confidence in the revelations he received.

That confidence may be seen in a statement he made in an important sermon delivered on 11 June 1843. He was discussing the gathering of Israel which led him into other subjects, in this case baptism for the dead and the spirit world where the dead await resurrection and judgment. To make a point he was discussing about the origin of the word “hell,” he said, “I will now turn linguist. There are many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelations of the Holy Ghost to me.”(1) The reader must admit it is pretty bold to criticize(2) the Bible and say many parts of it do not accord with the revelations he was receiving. Two months before his death, a time when some were considering him a “fallen” prophet, he declared “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.”(3)

He really did give those revelations more credence than the biblical scriptures, because he knew of their origin and he knew the Bible was deficient in many ways–but that is another story.  This confidence existed in the Prophet from his earliest days.  Here is what George Q. Cannon, who knew Joseph Smith personally, said on this subject. Here the issue is not differences but simlarities.  He tells of Parley P. Pratt’s discovery within five months of the organization of the Church of the many correlations between Joseph’s revelations and what was in the Bible which surprised Joseph Smith. 
It made no difference to Joseph Smith whether he read and was familiar with every doctrine taught by the Apostles; he was under no necessity of framing his teachings therewith that there should be no difference between that which he taught, and that which had been taught, because the same spirit that revealed to the ancient Apostles and Prophets, and inspired them to teach the people, and leave on record their predictions and doctrines, taught him also and enabled him to teach exactly the same truths.
I remember hearing related brother Parley P. Pratt's first interview with the Saints in Fayette, Seneca County, where the Church was organized. Those of you who remember brother Parley  know his familiarity with the Scriptures, especially with the prophecies. On that occasion he was called upon to speak; the Prophet Joseph was not present at the time. He brought forth from the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other prophets, abundant proofs concerning the work which the Lord had established through his servant Joseph, a great many of the Latter-day Saints were surprised that there were so many evidences existing in the Bible concerning this work. The Church had then been organized some five months, but the members had never heard from any of the elders these proofs and evidences which existed in the Bible. And, if I remember correctly, he told me that Oliver Cowdery and the Prophet Joseph himself were surprised at the great amount of evidence there was in the Bible concerning these things. The Prophet Joseph was inspired of God to teach the doctrines of life and salvation, and he did so without reference to what the ancient prophets had said. (4)
So, from the very beginning Joseph Smith trusted in the revelations he was receiving and did not attempt to harmonize them with the Bible, but was evidently pleased when such harmony was found. Indeed, he was at some point in this process assigned by the Lord to work on the Bible to bring it into better harmony with the truths which were being revealed through him.

Confidence in what he produced, however, did not leave him content to just lay out three new books of scripture for the world to judge–which they mightily would do. What is one to think when we know that twice he challenged the world to test for themselves the truthfulness of what he brought forth. The first is not really his, but it came through him as a translator. It is the most famous and well known. It comes from inside the Book of Mormon itself. No other book that I know of contains such a challenge and promise:
4) And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.(5)
Missionaries from the day the Book of Mormon came off the press have urged investigators not to accept their word that the book is true, but to apply the test for themselves. For this reason the Book of Mormon is one of, if not the greatest missionary of the Restoration.

What is lesser known, but equally important in my mind, is that the Prophet made a similar statement which covers the scriptural waterfront more broadly. About two and a half years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, the young prophet wrote the following in an article originally published in the August 1832 issue of the church newspaper, Evening and Morning Star.
Search the scriptures–search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with and eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.(6)
In an age which seems to consider religious doctrine “relative truth” determined by majority opinion, or at the other end of the spectrum, by the authority of ancient but murky tradition, it is remarkable that Joseph Smith had such confidence in what he was producing that he would leave it in the hands of the Lord to convince readers of its truth. This is another evidence that he had no desire to manipulate or coerce others to his point of view. Would a nave or fraud, names which his enemies often label him with, trust that God would confirm the truth of his writings? Apparently many would answer this question in the affirmative, but I am not among them. To me the promises found in these positive affirmations were beyond his ability to fulfill and he knew it. Yet he trusted that the foundation he was laying was on the firm rock of revelation and not on the sand of the theories and philosophies and theologies of men–which he also knew God would not sustain, support, or confirm. He knew that the church he built on such a foundation would weather the storms that may rage against it and when their energy was expended it would stand. That is confidence indeed, and in it he has not been disappointed.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Lets think together again, soon.


1.  Joseph Smith, HC 5:425, or TPJS, 310, emphasis added.

2.  In the next paragraph of this same sermon the Prophet remarked, “I will criticise (sic) a little further.”  Emphasis added.

3.  Joseph Smith, HC 6:366; TPJS, 368, emphasis added.

4.  George Q. Cannon, JD 19:105, emphasis added.  He went on to say something similar about Brigham Young: “I have heard President Young make the same remarks.  He said that he never consulted the Book of Covenants, he never consulted the Bible or Book of Mormon to see whether the doctrines and counsels which he was inspired to give, corresponded with these books or not.  It was a matter that gave him no particular concern, from the fact that he endeavored always to be led by the Spirt of the Lord, to speak in accordance therewith; hence these men have had very little care resting upon their minds as to whether their doctrines and counsels were in harmony with the doctrines and counsels of those who preceded them.  It was for them to seek to know the mind and will of the Lord and comprehend his Spirit as it rested upon them, to speak in accordance therewith; and the doctrine that has been taught will be found to be in perfect harmony with the doctrines which have been taught by men inspired of God in ancient days.”

5.  Moroni 10:4

6.  Joseph Smith, “To the Honorable Men of the World,” Evening and Morning Star, (August 1832); see also HC 1:282; TPJS, 11-12.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Thirty-six: The Universal Benefit of Joseph Smith’s Suffering in Liberty Jail

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Is A Prophet

Evidence Thirty-six:
The Universal Benefit of Joseph Smith’s Suffering in Liberty Jail© 

I am reading a new book by Elder M. Russell Ballard.(1) I have had the privilege of being with him once when we presided over the California Roseville Mission, but reading this book has given me an even greater appreciation for his life and ministry as an Apostle of the Lord than even our experience with him in California gave us. The book shows him to be deeply devoted to his ministry as a special witness, as a Church leader, and as a teacher of the Gospel. I find him to be real, personal, and open. His wisdom, judgment, and doctrinal insights make reading his book an enjoyable experience. 

One of his insights concerns the background of Doctrine and Covenants 121 and 122. For me personally, these revelations contain some of the most inspirational ideas expressed in the most lofty and inspiring language.  Let me give you some examples that I love.

Section 121: Most people I would guess, if asked to cite their favorite portions of Section 121 would include the teachings in verses 1-11 about Joseph’s adversity and afflictions being “but a small moment;” and the “rights of the priesthood” being “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” in verses 34-46.  I agree whole heartedly; there is nothing like them in all the world so far as I know. First, consider the popular verses 7-8:
7) My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; 8)And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
These follow a plea from Joseph, amidst the difficulties and hardships of the Liberty Jail experience which led the him to cry out: “O God, where art thou? ... How long shall thy hand be stayed...?” (Vss. 1-2) In the midst of his extremity, like Job, he received great spiritual insight and the greatest promise he could receive, that of exaltation.

But there is also a sleeper in Section 121, rarely cited or discussed, which I wish to call attention to here. The negative of the first few verses has quickly turned not only positive, but positively exhilarating. It is a statement about the things which will come about in this dispensation which Joseph Smith inaugurated and presides over. The entire statement is in verses 26-33. I reproduce two brief excerpts which are profound, challenging, and beautiful.
26) God shall give unto you [Joseph Smith] knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; 27) Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; 28) A time to come in which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.  29) All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  30) And if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars– 31) All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times. (Emphasis added.)
What a prophetic view of the times in which we live. An analysis of all the various things found in this statement could go on for pages. On one matter only, I think of the amazing things we have seen and learned from the Hubble Telescope in the quarter century of its service. And, we are on the threshold of sending up a bigger, better one even farther out in space to reveal yet more of the glories and mysteries of the universe. Did not Joseph Smith predict such a thing?  

The second excerpt is the oft cited verse 33:
33) How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it upstream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
Indeed Joseph’s trials are “but a small moment” when compared to what is to come, much due in fact, to his enduring them well and becoming a more worthy and receptive vessel. Now lets consider something in Section 122.

Section 122: This section returns again to the matter of Joseph’s trials. Who cannot find inspiration and encouragement in these words of the Lord which offer something of a brief biographical sketch of Joseph’s life up to this point?
7) And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. 8)The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?  9)Therefore, hold on thy way....
Well, here is the point of this recital.  Here is Elder Ballard’s insight:
I don’t know that the 121st section or the 122nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants could have come to the Prophet in any other way than his preparation through suffering. ... When we are pressed up against the most difficult moments in our lives, that is when we have a spiritual insight, when we see things in the big picture, the eternal scheme of things, that we have never before been able to see.(2)
I thank God for Joseph Smith, for his willingness and dedication to his Father’s will, even if it meant languishing in a forsaken jail on the frontier’s edge among a semi-civilized people for five months. I am thankful for that, because of the breakthrough it brought him to, and the phenomenal insight, comfort, and hope it not only brought to him, but which it has brought to countless members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world, me included! We have a clearer view of the purpose of life because Joseph lived ... and suffered ... and endured ... and recorded.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Lets think together again, soon.


1.  The book is Today, Yesterday, and Forever: Timeless Gospel Messages with Insights from His Grandfathers Melvin J. Ballard and Hyrum Mack Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2015.

2.  Ibid., p. 153, emphasis added.