Where does meaning come from? How do we make sense of our lives?
There is so much randomness in the world; so many things are left to chance. Misfortune abounds. Are we just evolved amoebas drifting towards nihilism?
I think it is easy for us to become discouraged when we witness the disorder and disharmony of our lives here on earth. Sickness, mental health struggles, loss of employment, death, and a million other tragedies plague our steps, chipping away at our peace-of-mind.
During such times, I try to remember to look up, because there is no disorder among the stars. I take comfort in their serenity; in the fact they follow preordained courses, faithfully moving along their appointed paths.
See: spirits unorganized
gods who cannot die even if they wanted See: bound to exist inexorably
―forecasting tides to schedules preordained
charting migratory paths
predictably across millennia as whales journeying thru firmament's fire
In this Series we're trying to lay a foundation upon which we may appreciate the Lord's handiwork displayed prominently throughout the heavens, testifying of His faithfulness and loving-kindness.
I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea; but if you'll bear with me, I believe there is something important the scriptures are trying to tell us by pointing to the stars:
Thou hast had signs enough . . . all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
But the stars do far more than just reassure us that there is a God out there, that we're not just cosmic dust; they also testify of His nature.
"Eat Your Vitamins"
I've spent a lot of time in previous posts explaining why this subject is not superfluous to our faith, but is actually central to our receiving a correct understanding of the character of God (see, Third Lectures on Faith).
You see, the challenge is finding someone who can explain these things to us truthfully ― someone with the key of knowledge who can shepherd our understandings through the heavens. We won't find lesson materials in our Sunday School Manual for Cassiopeia and Sagittarius. Where can we learn the truth?
Of course the Lord is capable of teaching us about these things directly (as we see in Abraham 3:11-12). I am a firm believer that if any of us lack wisdom, then let him or her ask of God, who giveth liberally. So keep knocking!
But me, really? Heaven help us, I am the worst possible candidate to be doing this. After all, I am acutely aware of my limitations and weakness; someone should probably take away my crayons because I have trouble coloring inside the lines.
I am not a student or scholar of astronomy. As proof, I've gone to John Pratt's celestial calendar website and I confess I can't make heads-or-tails of it. I've tried but failed to untangle his calculations and dates and whatnot.
So if you feel I am out of my league . . . you're right!
I am desperately hoping someone else will step up to the plate, but until then, if I swing and miss, be patient with me and please don't kick me off the team.
Certainly I am not the only one who feels like we're standing around a gaping black hole in our collective understanding of the celestial signs-of-the-times. Will we pretend the hole isn't there? Should we continue to ignore it? I find this all deliciously ironic since the Restoration promised nearly 200 years ago that:
God shall give unto you 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 . . . .
A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars―
All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and 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.
Well, the sad thing is we have seen scientists putting our seers to shame; we know more about the universe because of Albert Einstein than we do because of George Albert Smith.
A seer is greater than a prophet . . . [for] a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them.
(Mosiah 8:15, 17)
Where can we find someone like this?!
Where are the seers?
This week saw a rare blue super moon (the last one for 14 years). I was in my study around 9:00 p.m. the other night praying and pondering, when my 9-year-old burst in: "Daddy, do you want to see the moon?"
We went outside and all the wildfire smoke and clouds had cleared, giving us a clear view of the moon. It was stunning.
My son pointed to a bright star, presiding above the moon's shoulder to the left: "What's that?" he asked.
"Saturn," I said.
You may not be aware that Saturn represents time (the god Chronos). According to Cicero, "By Saturn [the ancients] seek to represent that power which maintains the cyclic course of times and seasons." (De Natura Deorum, 45 B.C.).
How fitting, then, that Saturn wears a figurative as well as literal crown (its rings), typifying its sovereignty over the course of celestial bodies traveling in this system (or as they call it the Book of Abraham, in this "same order" (Abr. 3:3)).
What is fascinating about the ancient temple worship of Saturn is that the ritus graecus was performed while the head was uncovered; this was unusual because the other gods were always worshipped with the supplicant's head covered (and we are all familiar with the covering of the head in the temple).
But curiously, in the temple of Saturn it was the opposite: it was Saturn Himself who was veiled, not the officiants.
The idea of the veil is important to both Judaism and Christianity. The Lord promised the early Church that "the veil shall be rent and you shall see me" (D&C 67:10). We saw this occur with the likes of the Brother of Jared, of whom it was written, he "could not be kept from beholding within the veil" (Ether 3:19).
What is the veil? Well, it depends on which one you mean. The scriptures describe numerous veils, but if we're talking about the veil of forgetfulness, it is the womb of all creation from which we are reborn.
One of the roles of the Spirit is to bring all things back to our remembrance, including the Record of Heaven; the returning of our spiritual memory is characterized in scripture as the "comprehension" of "light":
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
(D&C 88:49) The Spirit of God, you see, is steadily inundating us with light ― it is all around us, continually ― we are surrounded by and bathed in this light that is gently beckoning us to arise and emerge from that "veil of unbelief" which presently darkens our minds.
The Spirit entices our spiritual minds to be renewed, which is to say, calibrated to resonate with the Mind of God (see Ephesians 4:23).
[Photo of Saturn taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft]
The Sign of Saturn
While the myth of Cronus (Saturn) devouring his own children seems bizarre and cruel to our modern sensibilities, we shouldn't be too hasty to judge ― for don't we also believe in a God who sacrificed His own Son?
Saturn was the father of Jupiter in mythology. The Romans told a story about Saturn, how he was an outcast and sent to a foreign land, where he found favor among the people and became their king.
Virgil recorded the way Saturn gathered the unruly and wild creatures "and gave them laws," ushering in an era of "perfect peace [as] he ruled the nations." (Virgil's Aeneid.) Saturn thus became a symbol of sovereignty, order and peace.
Interestingly, we see these same types and shadows reflected in the figure-type we've assigned the title of Melchizedek. Is it possible the sign of Saturn has some correlation to Melchizedek and his priesthood authority?
And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people.
(JST Genesis 14:33, 36)
Should we wish to locate the place his people obtained in the heaven when his city was separated from the earth (see JST Gen. 14:34), perhaps we should keep an eye on Saturn.
It takes Saturn roughly 30 years to travel one round, passing through all the constellations of the Zodiac. Therefore, Saturn spends 2.5 to 3 years in each constellation's star field. Just so you know, there are only two planets mentioned in the scriptures: Venus (the Queen of Heaven) in Jeremiah 7:18 (and isn't it interesting that Venus is the "bright and morning star" that Christ compares himself to?); and Saturn, the King of Heaven, in Amos 5:26. In both places, the prophets rebuke the people for their pagan idol worship.
But I digress. My purpose is not to draw correlations between Christianity and its pagan predecessors, or to opine on the whereabouts of translated beings; I share these snippets to simply suggest we keep an open mind, and that there is a reason the angels are compared to stars.