By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Atonement

How do we apply the atonement to our lives? How can we be forgiven? Can we really start over with a clean slate?

There is a lot to the subject of the atonement. However, one doesn't have to know all the deep doctrines surrounding this topic in order to begin applying the atonement to one's own life. One short, helpful article on Atonement is in the Bible Dictionary in the LDS 1979 edition of the scriptures. If you don't have those, you can go to the church's website here and click on The Scriptures. There, you have the standard works plus Guide to the Scriptures, Bible Dictionary, and Topical Guide. Back on the first screen of the church's website, you can click on Gospel Library and that will lead you to back issues of the Ensign and other church magazines, plus a host of church manuals. You can do searches, such as on Atonement, and find articles and lessons that will help increase your understanding. This is a very useful research tool for learning about any gospel topic.

Back to the atonement, the article in the Bible Dictionary is a brief and helpful description of the atonement and how it works. To apply it to your life, you must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and live the gospel fully. The latter includes the laws and ordinances of the gospel--the commandments in the scriptures. Part of this is to forgive others. When you recall the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, it is implied that you forgive yourself as well. This is often difficult to do--we can be awfully hard on ourselves. Prayer and scripture study can help you, as can attending your Sunday meetings where you can learn much about the gospel.

What I want to say, though, is that it is not necessary to understand all the finer doctrinal points of atonement, or any other gospel principle, before you begin applying it to your own life. We grow in the gospel step by step, line upon line, precept upon precept. Don't wait for the blessings that will come to you as you live the gospel as best you can with the knowledge you have--now, today.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Medieval Arts

There are a number of things done in medieval times that fascinate me. One is the kitchen and the food, which I discussed in an earlier post. Another is the needlework. Yet a third is the illuminated manuscript. I have found some sites which have extensive links and information on this topic, covering the history as well as the art of illuminated manuscripts. I am sorry to say that some have some dead links, but there are some real finds here, too, and so I share, thinking that if you are interested, you will find articles and techniques that will reward your time spent looking for them.

Calligraphy and Illumination Links

On Illuminated Manuscripts

Scribal Arts

Medieval Writing

The type of writing and illustration found in medieval manuscripts also lends itself well to embroidery designs, so if needlework is what you do, you still may enjoy looking for designs in the illustrations of the above pages.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Updated Blog

I've been tinkering with my blog and have added some color and some features in the sidebar. I've also got the links a bit more readable and also the comments. This is a big deal for someone who is technologically challenged, as I am!

I wish things weren't so far down on the sidebar, but that's the way it is. I've added Books I'm Reading and a Quote. In addition, I've added Other Links for several topics. I don't have very many up yet, but plan to add a few more to each topic. I want to add ones I think you'll enjoy. You may already be familiar with some, of course, but maybe occasionally you'll find something new to enjoy.

The colors are limited to titles and headings to make them stand out. I like black ink on parchment, but got to thinking a little color here and there would be nice. I hope it's easier to read, as well. I learned something interesting. Apparently, different browsers show my blog in different sizes. A friend told me that it was easier to read in Microsoft's Explorer and so I tried it at work and it does look noticeably larger and easier to read. I hope that the changes I've made will make it easier on the eyes no matter what browser you have.

I've got 39 posts up, dating back to October 2004, so have a look around. Maybe you'll see something of interest.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Flavius Josephus and His Works

When I bought my copy of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, I also found a sale copy of Josephus: The Complete Works translated by William Whiston, A.M. You can find Josephus' writings online here (scroll down) or here. But you know how I am about having a physical book in my hands!

Josephus writes the history of the Jewish people. It is a widely quoted document written by a man who lived in the first century A.D. As such, it is an important view of the Jewish people and of early Christianity. He draws on his own experiences as well as the work of other historians and provides some important background and also independent confirmation of some Biblical people and events.

Reading this book will, like the Eusebius book, be a long term project, during which time I will also do other reading and writing. What I wish to gain from reading these books is more understanding of the scriptures by learning some history and background information. I also want to gain insight into the people of those times. History always fascinates me and my opinion is that you can't read too much of it.

I would like to share bits and pieces of these readings in my blog, but will continue writing on a variety of topics as well.

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Eusebius of Caeserea Writes

I found, not too long ago, a sale copy of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History translated by C.F.Cruse. You can find this history online at New Advent, but there may be little bits missing there. I know that once I was trying to find all the comments Eusebius made about Papias, and there was one quote that wasn't in the online copy--that bit was gone or left off.

Be that as it may, I wanted my own copy. I still love to hold a book in my hands and turn the pages and write in the margins. I love to turn the crisp pages and smell that new book smell. And so, when I saw this book, especially on sale, I bought it.

Eusebius writes the story of early Christianity from the first century through the third. As the introduction of my book says, "This work...embraced the events of the first three centuries down to the time when Constantine became sole master of the Roman world." Because Eusebius was so much nearer to that time than we are, his work provides much information that we would not otherwise have. For example, as far as I know, he is the only source of any quotes from the writings of Papias, a man who wrote five books documenting the teachings of Christ and His apostles as accurately as he could. These five books are lost to us now. As an aside, the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent provides information about Papias and Eusebius, as well as many other figures in early Christian history. They have many writings of early Church Fathers, as well, providing one with a lot of good research material.

As for me, I am just starting to read Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. I expect to be reading in it for a long time, reading other books at the same time. I think I will find it to be an interesting read. Eusebius, as other historians do, had his viewpoint and his opinions and those will color his account, but still, it promises to be a highly informative project.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Medieval Kitchen

As I read medieval history and visit websites about medieval life, one thing that fascinates me greatly is the daily life of people. Learning how people spent their time in the various periods of history makes them come alive for me. It is also interesting that many of their pursuits are the same as ours in a general sense.

In the medieval era, much time was spent in providing food. Grain had to be sown, raised, and harvested. Animals had to be acquired and cared for. They, too, had to be fed. The kitchen was a center of activity as everything had to be prepared from scratch and cooked over the fireplace. A castle kitchen would have a huge fireplace--large enough to roast whole animals on spits, turned by hand to provide thorough and even cooking. Grain had to be ground before bread could be made. Fruit and vegetables were raised in gardens or gathered from the forest or the meadow. Herbs were used for flavoring and also for medicinal purposes.

Cooking was not as primitive as we might think. I have discovered a delightful website, A Boke of Gode Cookery, that is full of articles and recipes from Medieval and Renaissance times. There are some modern adaptations of these recipes and there are menus. The Society for Creative Anachronism recreates these types of feasts and you can, too! With information from this site, you could have a medieval-themed party or dinner and enjoy the flavor of that time. The site has all kinds of links as well--I feel sure you will enjoy it.

Back to kitchens and food, the poorer people did their own cooking, of course, and often had a hearth in the middle of the room. The smoke rose to the roof and went out through a hole, or there were high open windows opposite each other that blew out the smoke. They usually lived in one room. As they prospered and had larger homes, they might have separate bedrooms, but the kitchen was still the center of the home.

The wealthier people had kitchens separate from other rooms and sometimes even in a separate building. They had servants who did all the food preparation and cooking. Even then, though, the evening meal in particular often took a long time and was a time of gathering for the household plus any guests they might have. The most wealthy had elaborate feasts on special occasions, complete with entertainment between courses. Some of the food was quite decorative and was presented with great fanfare before being served. There were subtleties, which were elaborate sculptures out of a sugar concoction. There were roasted peacocks with their feathers put back on for the presentation.

There was more variety in the food than we might think. There were pies full of meats and spices and raisins and other fruit. There were vegetable dishes and egg dishes with sauces and seasonings. The food was actually quite flavorful and nutritious. It was fresh. Breads were various and sometimes decorative.

I would dearly love to visit the British Isles and visit a preserved castle just to see the kitchens, although the whole place would be fascinating to me.

Other pursuits were sewing and needlework, reading and writing (at least among the more privileged classes), and conversation. There were dances and festivals and plays. The church was a center for much activity also and there were various celebrations for Saints' days. In the villages, there were courts held to settle various problems that had arisen. Larger towns and cities had markets that gathered the people in to buy and sell and socialize.

I still have a lot to learn about Medieval history, but it is a pleasurable pursuit.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005


A few minutes ago, NBC Nightly News showed the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, near the tidal pool (or basin). The blossoms were beautiful. A few weeks ago, I got to work (our new office is surrounded by trees) and all the Bradford pear trees were in full bloom. Beautiful! Even after the blossoms began to blow off the trees in our Oklahoma wind, the parking lot was awash with white petals and that was a pleasant experience, too.

Just this morning, after sunrise, but still early, I was out and about and the most beautiful cloud formations were gathered in the eastern sky with sunbeams shining through here and there. And I have seen countless sunrises and sunsets which are breathtaking in their beauty--the formations of clouds, the colors varying from deep purple through peach and apricot and pink to bright orange. I have watched the sky, when there were no clouds, changing from black to green to blue as the sun neared its rising.

All these things make me think of our Heavenly Father. I greatly appreciate the blessing He gave us of a beautiful world to live in. It lifts the spirit and enlivens the mind. It brings a smile, and sometimes joyful laughter. Other times, it brings a quiet peaceful feeling.

There are so many things to enjoy. Even in photographs and paintings, one sees the beauty in nature. Seeing the beauty in person, however, seems to go deeper into one's soul.

I grew up in the country. We saw deer in the yard, cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits, ducks, geese, bluebirds, bluejays, and cardinals. There were wild turkeys and quail. Fish in ponds and streams and lakes. Grass and flowers and trees add beauty, too. Then there are rock formations and patches of sand blown into lovely designs by the wind. At night, there was a sky full of stars and planets and the moon. There were thunderstorms putting on a light show. There were mornings of waking to frost or even ice covering everything and sparkling like diamonds when the sun rose. In summers bees and butterflies and dragonflies and lightning bugs added their touches of color and light to the scenery.

I live in the city now. I still find nature around, though not as fully. The redbuds bloom in the spring as well as the Bradford pear trees. There are flowers of all kinds and birds, too. Until recently, we had geese in the field just north of our office. It's not uncommon to see ducks and geese walking along the streets as I pass near a small lake on the way to church. Redbreasted robins have been flying about, gathering nesting material. The year-round pigeons are often of lovely colors, some with irridesent greens and purples to complement their delicate gray and white feathers.

We can see nature in our pets--our cats and dogs and guinea pigs and hamsters. Beautiful fish glowing in aquariums. We can go to the zoo and enjoy more exotic animals. One of my favorite memories is petting a giraffe. The baby animals are so cute and lively.

I find that even the memories of natural things I have seen can lift my spirits. I remember the snowcapped mountains in Arizona and the rock formations in New Mexico. I think of a boat ride on Lake Michigan. I remember family fishing trips to rivers and lakes and the enjoyment of those times.

I am so grateful to a Heavenly Father who cared to give us beauty and joy and fun in this world.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

After Sunday's Conference Sessions

Well, conference is over for another 6 months. No big changes announced. Maybe what President Hinckley was referring to when he was joking with the reporter about a secret was that his son would be called as a Seventy.

Lots of good talks today and, once again, my mind can't retain them all. I liked Elder Bednar's talk on the tender mercies of the Lord. And they sang my favorite hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." I say my favorite--I have a number of favorite hymns, just as I have a number of favorite scriptures!

I thought President Hinckley's talk about what the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith was good. It was a useful way to talk about the Prophet and about what is different in the LDS church. I would think nonmembers and new members would gain understanding from hearing that.

I guess I will just have to listen again when they put the sessions up on the internet. It helps me most when I get my hands on the conference issue of the Ensign.


Death and Sorrow

I was sorry for the illness and death of Pope John Paul II. He was a good man who spoke for solid values and served the people. He and Mother Teresa exemplify service and goodness. I am sure Heavenly Father has been pleased with their efforts. I am glad that President Hinckley made a statement of sympathy to the Catholic people and praise of the Pope in Saturday's conference sessions.

Because of my interest in medieval history, I have learned some about the Catholic faith and its history. There have been many ups and downs through the ages for the church and the papacy. At times, the Pope had a great deal of influence on political and social events and at other times, almost none. I saw a television special on NBC about Pope John Paul II last night. It was only an hour so it just touched on a variety of things. I did not, for example, realize how much his influence aided the rise of Solidarity in Poland which contributed to the fall of communism. He often met with world leaders, too, and spoke his mind to them in behalf of human rights, religious rights, and so forth. He loved the people and cared about them. He was a good, kind man and will be missed.

I did not post on Terri Shiavo because many others did and I had nothing to add. It grieved my heart that the situation arose in the first place and my prayers were for Terri as much as anyone or anything else. She is now in the spirit world and is herself again and will find the peace and love she so deserves. It was a sorrowful situation.

Losing someone is always a sorrow, even though we know where they are going and that they are now safe. I have lost many close to me--my parents, my children, and many other relatives and friends. It is hard going, but our Heavenly Father will sustain us. It hurts, too, to lose those that we may not know personally, but who have been a wonderful influence on the world scene, such as Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. Whether it is someone close to us or someone we knew only from news reports, we can remember them and we can try to live better and serve more because of their example.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

After Saturday's Conference Sessions

I enjoyed today's two conference sessions very much. Wish I could retain more, but I excuse myself by saying it is a lot of information to process!

I enjoyed Elder Packer's and Elder Uchtdorf's talks dealing with testimony. Elder Wirthlin's talk on kindness was a good reminder. I enjoyed all the talks and found them uplifting. Elder Uchtdorf is a powerful speaker, is he not? In both what he says and how he says it, he is inspiring to listen to.

I love to hear the choirs sing, too, and I am glad they sing favorite hymns. I can then sing along as I listen over the internet.

I thought it was nice that President Hinckley spoke of the Pope and offered sympathy to the Catholic people. I think Pope John Paul II was a good man and that our Heavenly Father appreciates his efforts to serve. Mother Teresa is another who exemplified service to me.

Conference time usually brings up questions of various kinds by those who would like to see one change or another in the way things are done. There was a statement made on a forum that I really appreciated. One person had stated that he was praying for a certain change and another said (I'm paraphrasing here) that that was fine as long as he was praying an equal amount to understand and accept the way things are now. I know that thinking people are going to see things that they feel should be changed in the church, and they are going to talk about them and pray for the change. But I think it is important that we remember we are led by our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through our prophet. So along with pondering changes, I would hope that we also pray to understand and accept what is. We don't always understand easily or quickly, and so we could benefit by effort in that direction. I know that I could.

One of the things I love about the gospel is that there is so much to it. It has depth and breadth and height. There is always more to learn and more to understand. Also, I find that my understanding grows deeper as I experience life. Elder Packer touched on this this morning, mentioning how verses about concern for teaching one's children the gospel really didn't mean much to him until he became a father and then a grandfather. Different things reach us at different times in our life.

Much to ponder. And I look forward to being able to study the talks in the Ensign or relisten to them when they are up on the church's website.