His Gift To Us: Chiasmus in Russell M. Nelson’s “The Sabbath Is a Delight”

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Russell M. Nelson (lds.org)

In a previous article, we wrote about chiasmus in Russell M. Nelson’s “Becoming True Millennials,” a Worldwide Devotional address for young adults delivered in January 2016. In this article, we discuss chiasmus in “The Sabbath is a Delight,” his April 2015 General Conference address. This was his final General Conference address before becoming President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in July 2015. As such, throughout this article we refer to him as Elder Nelson.

In order to more fully appreciate chiasmus in this address, we need to introduce a new term: “spiral chiasmus.” In Chiasmus and Culture, a volume of scholarly essays published in 2014, Anthony Paul describes four types of chiasmus: cross-shaped, mirroring, circling, and spiral. A spiral chiasm occurs when “the formal symmetry sets up a more dynamic process of movement …, returning to the starting point, with the piquant difference that this starting point is no longer exactly what it was at the start — or where it was.” The value of this type of chiasm is its “capacity to open up thought” and generate “new possibilities” (p. 24, 36). In the same volume, Ivo Strecker describes the potential of spiral chiasmus to “shatter expectations and conventions (and establish new ones)” (p. 87).

In “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Elder Nelson makes use of two spiral chiasms, one from the New Testament teachings of Christ and one of his own creation to help us assess our individual Sabbath observance. This article presents a detailed treatment of each of these chiasms, followed by a less-detailed analysis of several additional chiasms and parallelisms from his address. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.


Diagram and Analysis:

#1: To shatter cultural conventions (and establish new ones) concerning Sabbath observance during his mortal ministry, the Lord declared a memorable spiral chiasm that is recorded in Mark 2:27

What did the Savior mean when He said that
A: “the sabbath was
B: made for man,
B: and not man
A: for the sabbath”?

A=A: “[S]abbath” contrasts with “sabbath.” The key to understanding this chiasm is recognizing that the two sabbaths mentioned are not the same sabbath. The first is made for man, the second is not made for man, but is used to control and limit his actions and to stifle his good works and communion with the Lord. In contrast, a sabbath made for man removes this burden and aides his spiritual and physical development.

B=B: “[M]an” equals “man.” Under the influence of either sabbath, the same man is observed. Under one he is liberated, under the other he is limited. This spiral chiasm invites us to ponder the differences between these two forms of sabbath observance and their effect on man and society. Which is preferred? Which should we work toward? Certainly, a sabbath where man selfishly focuses on himself is no more what the Lord had in mind than a sabbath where man is restricted and burdened. This spiral chiasm opens our minds to new possibilities concerning sabbath observance and encourages us to develop a sabbath observance that truly benefits man.

After referencing this declaration from the Lord, Elder Nelson (in the form of a parallelism) offers his authoritative commentary on the Lord’s meaning.

A: I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us,
B: granting real respite from the rigors of daily life
C: and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.
A: God gave us this special day,
B: not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty,
C: with physical and spiritual relief.

A=A: “Sabbath was His gift to us” equals “God gave us this special day.” Recognizing that the Sabbath is a gift from God helps us develop an appropriate Sabbath observance. Our priority should be to use it for His purposes and for the furthering of His “work and glory” (see Moses 1:39).

B=B: “[R]eal respite from the rigors of daily life” equals “rest from duty.” Elder Nelson clarifies that the Sabbath is not a day for amusement or labor, but is a day for setting aside our rigorous routines.

C=C: “[S]piritual and physical renewal” equals “physical and spiritual relief.” The rest invited by the Sabbath is intended for both physical and spiritual rejuvenation.


#2: In addition to providing insight into the Lord’s spiral chiasm, Elder Nelson introduces his own spiral chiasm to spur further thought and insight. What is the relationship between “faith” and “love”? How does the Sabbath help us develop “a love for God”? This spiral chiasm introduces a spiral pattern for application that increases our love for and faith in God and His Sabbath day.

A: Faith in God engenders
B: a love for the Sabbath;
B: faith in the Sabbath engenders
A: a love for God.

A=A: “Faith in God” complements “love for God.” Faith in God means we believe in His promised blessings and live accordingly. Love for God develops as we experience His blessings and understand His intentions toward us. Faith in and love for God help us endure His chastening hand, knowing that the challenges we endure are for our benefit; we look for ways to grow in the midst of our challenges. The Sabbath is intended for believers — those who already have a faith in God. It is not intended to govern those who do not have a faith in God. In other words, observing the Sabbath is voluntary rather than compulsory and is intended for a society that recognizes religious freedom. However, choosing to observe the Sabbath will help us develop faith in and love for God, so individuals who are curious about God are invited to observe the Sabbath as part of their effort to understand and come to know Him.

B=B: “[L]ove for the Sabbath” complements “faith in the Sabbath.” Faith in God helps us appreciate or love the day of rest He has provided for us. This appreciation leads us to exercise faith in the promises of the Sabbath. Receiving the blessings of Sabbath observance helps us develop a love for God. This, in turn, helps us develop greater faith in God, a greater love for the Sabbath, and greater faith in the promises of the Sabbath. Viewed this way, the Sabbath becomes a vehicle for developing greater faith in and love for God.


Additional Chiasms and Parallelisms:

#3: The word “prophet,” especially in the title of the hymn “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet,” usually refers to the president of the Church. However, in this context it refers collectively to all those who participated in General Conference — through music, prayer, and the spoken word.

A: Dear brothers and sisters, these two days of conference have been glorious.
B: We have been uplifted by inspiring music and eloquent prayers.
B: Our spirits have been edified by messages of light and truth.
A: On this Easter Sunday, we again unitedly and sincerely thank God for a prophet!


#4: Although Elder Nelson is the final speaker at this Conference, he invites the congregation to be open to the Spirit during his address in order to receive additional personal revelation.

A: The question for each of us is: because of what I have heard and felt during this conference,
B: how will I change?
B: Whatever your answer might be, may I invite you also to
A: examine your feelings about, and your behavior on, the Sabbath day.


#5: Elder Nelson uses a parallelism to invite the congregation to join him as he explores the meaning of “delight” as a description of the Sabbath (see Isaiah 58:13).

A: I am intrigued by the words of Isaiah,
B: who called the Sabbath “a delight.”
A: Yet I wonder,
B: is the Sabbath really a delight for you and for me?


#6: In this chiasm, Elder Nelson shares his own experience discovering the delights of the Sabbath day. As a medical doctor, it’s no surprise that this came about as a relief from his professional demands.

A: I first found delight in the Sabbath many years ago when, as a busy surgeon, I knew that the Sabbath became a day for personal healing.
B: By the end of each week, my hands were sore from repeatedly scrubbing them with soap, water, and a bristle brush.
B: I also needed a breather from the burden of a demanding profession.
A: Sunday provided much-needed relief.


#7: After detailing the origin and history of the Sabbath, Elder Nelson uses a chiasm to emphasize the modern-day covenant aspect of Sabbath observance.

In Hebrew, the word Sabbath means “rest.” The purpose of the Sabbath dates back to the Creation of the world, when after six days of labor the Lord rested from the work of creation. When He later revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, God commanded that we “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Later, the Sabbath was observed as a reminder of the deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. Perhaps most important, the Sabbath was given as a perpetual covenant, a constant reminder that the Lord may sanctify His people.
A: In addition, we now partake of the sacrament
B: on the Sabbath day
C: in remembrance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
D: Again, we covenant
D: that we are willing to take upon us His holy name.
C: The Savior identified Himself as
B: Lord of the Sabbath. It is His day! Repeatedly, He has asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day.
A: We are under covenant to do so.


#8: This chiasm details how Elder Nelson became self-reliant in his efforts to keep the Sabbath day holy. Initially, he followed the “lists of dos and don’ts” created by others, but then developed the ability to discern appropriate behaviors for himself.

A: How do we hallow the Sabbath day?
B: In my much younger years, I studied the work of others
C: who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath.
D: It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted
D: a sign between me and my Heavenly Father.
C: With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts.
B: When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself,
A: “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.


#9: This chiasm emphasizes that the Sabbath is not just an ancient tradition, but a practice that has been renewed in our day for our benefit. Following this chiasm, he details these modern-day benefits by quoting D&C 59:9–10, 13, 15–16, drawing special attention to the promise that the “fulness of the earth” is given “to those who keep the Sabbath day holy.”

A: Though the doctrine pertaining to the Sabbath day
B: is of ancient origin,
B: it has been renewed in these latter days
A: as part of a new covenant with a promise.


#10: After detailing his own experience of becoming self-reliant in keeping the Sabbath day holy, Elder Nelson invites members of the congregation to explore their own Sabbath observance.

A: How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing?
B: In addition to your going to church, partaking of the sacrament, and being diligent in your specific call to serve,
B: what other activities would help to make the Sabbath a delight for you?
A: What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?


Next, Elder Nelson provides a variety of ideas for members of the congregation to consider in their own efforts to keep the Sabbath day holy. These ideas are presented in a series of chiasms and parallelisms.

#11: Part of God’s intention in giving us the Sabbath is to strengthen eternal family ties.

A: The Sabbath provides a wonderful opportunity
B: to strengthen family ties.
A: After all, God wants
B: each of us, as His children, to return to Him as endowed Saints, sealed in the temple as families, to our ancestors, and to our posterity.


#12: To encourage parents to take advantage of Sabbath opportunities to teach the gospel to their children, Elder Nelson quotes a chiasm found in D&C 68:25 that emphasizes their responsibility to do so.

We make the Sabbath a delight when we teach the gospel to our children. Our responsibility as parents is abundantly clear. The Lord said,
A: “Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion …
B: that teach them not to understand
C: the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God,
C: and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old,
B: the sin be upon
A: the heads of the parents.”


#13: After quoting from a First Presidency letter from 11 February 1999, Elder Nelson uses a chiasm to rejoice in the availability of “wonderful resources” that aid “righteous, intentional parenting.”

Years ago the First Presidency stressed the importance of quality family time. They wrote:
“We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.
“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”
A: When I ponder this counsel, I almost wish I were a young father once again.
B: Now parents have such wonderful resources available to help them make family time more meaningful, on the Sabbath and other days as well.
C: They have LDS.org, Mormon.org, the Bible videos, the Mormon Channel, the Media Library, the Friend, the New Era, the Ensign, the Liahona, and more—much more.
B: These resources are so very helpful to parents in discharging their sacred duty to teach their children.
A: No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting!


#14: A Sabbath activity that can bring “immense joy” is family history work. The following two chiasms describe and illustrate this joy and invite us to experience it for ourselves.

A: In addition to time with family, you can experience true delight on the Sabbath from
B: family history work.
B: Searching for and finding family members who have preceded you on earth—those who did not have an opportunity to accept the gospel while here—
A: can bring immense joy.

A: I have seen this firsthand. Several years ago, my dear wife Wendy determined to learn how to do family history research.
B: Her progress at first was slow, but little by little she learned how easy it is to do this sacred work.
C: And I have never seen her happier.
B: You too need not travel to other countries or even to a family history center. At home, with the aid of a computer or mobile device, you can identify souls who are yearning for their ordinances.
A: Make the Sabbath a delight by finding your ancestors and liberating them from spirit prison!


#15: Our Sabbath observance can extend outside our family circles and include rendering service to others, especially the sick and lonely.

A: Make the Sabbath a delight
B: by rendering service to others,
C: especially those who are not feeling well
C: or those who are lonely or in need.
B: Lifting their spirits
A: will lift yours as well.


#16: Self-discipline is required in order for us to not slip into pursuing our “own pleasure” on the Sabbath day (see Isaiah 58:13–14).

A: Not pursuing your “own pleasure” on the Sabbath requires self-discipline.
B: You may have to deny yourself of something you might like.
C: If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord,
B: you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day.
A: Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time.


#17: Drawing a parallel between paying tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy, Elder Nelson uses a parallelism and a chiasm to help us see that both are ways of showing gratitude to the Lord.

Think of this:
A: In paying tithing,
B: we return one-tenth of our increase to the Lord.
A: In keeping the Sabbath holy,
B: we reserve one day in seven as His.

A: So it is our privilege to consecrate
B: both money
B: and time
A: to Him who lends us life each day.


#18: In concluding his address, Elder Nelson uses two chiasms to remind us that keeping the Sabbath day holy is part of being “an example of the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12) and part of the process of becoming “sanctified in Christ” (Moroni 10:32-33).

Now, as this conference comes to a close, we know that
A: wherever we live we are to be examples
B: of the believers
C: among our families, neighbors, and friends.
B: True believers
A: keep the Sabbath day holy.

I conclude with the farewell plea of Moroni, as he closed the Book of Mormon. He wrote,
A: “Come unto Christ,
B: and be perfected in him,
C: and deny yourselves of all ungodliness;
C: and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness,
B: and love God with all your might, mind and strength,
A: then … are ye sanctified in Christ.”


Conclusion:

In his two addresses that we have diagrammed, a distinct chiastic pattern is emerging. Russell M. Nelson speaks in a series of brief chiasms that mostly go unnoticed during an initial reading. However, each emphasizes a principle or practice of the Gospel that is worthy of study and that greatly enriches a study of his entire talk. The insights available through a chiastic study of this talk can help us to more deliberately keep the Sabbath day holy and realize its promised “delight.”

We Must Walk Where He Walked: Jeffrey R. Holland’s Facebook Chiasm

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Jeffrey R. Holland (facebook.com)

Jeffrey R. Holland has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since June 1994. Prior to this he served in the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in April 1989.

Professionally, Elder Holland was a religious educator in the Church Educational System. After serving as dean of the College of Religious Education at Brigham Young University and Church commissioner of education, he served as President of Brigham Young University from 1980-89.

Elder Holland is known for his engaging talks, skillful teaching, and tender heart.

Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Holland has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Holland occasionally posts experiences and photographs from his world-wide ministry, his thoughts on specific issues, and his witness of Jesus Christ.

On February 5, 2017, Elder Holland posted his concern for those “in the midst of a struggle.” Chiasmus in his post emphasizes how challenges are an inescapable part of mortality and that we need to remain strong as disciples of Christ, “come what may.”

holland_christandthenewcovenant_chiasm
Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, Illustrated hardbound edition [2006], 262.
Elder Holland is no stranger to chiasmus. In his classic book, Christ and the New Covenant [1997], he diagrams the first day of the Lord’s visit to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11-18) to show its chiastic pattern. Accompanying the diagram, Elder Holland writes: “In reviewing that day, it is impressive to note the cohesive, chiasmic nature of the messages that were delivered. Note the reinforcement and revealed unity of the manner in which this day’s experience began and the way it concluded” (Illustrated hardbound edition [2006], 261).

This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of Elder Holland’s Facebook chiasm, which features complementary and equivalent pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: I often think of those of you who are in the midst of a struggle. As much as we want life to be easy and comfortable, as much as I wish it could be that way for you, it simply cannot be.
B: We are all, in one way or another, at one point in our lives, going to deal with a moral conundrum or a difficult issue without an easy answer. At that point, we need to ask ourselves, “How much does the gospel of Jesus Christ really mean to me?” How will you act when that call comes? Will you defend Christ and His gospel, come what may?
C: John Taylor wrote that he once heard Joseph Smith say to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. … God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”
C: The life of Christ was like that. It is not coincidental that the word that is used for Christ’s experience in Gethsemane is that He was in “agony.” If we say we’re disciples of Christ, we will on occasion be in agony. We must walk where He walked.
B: When those moments come—contemporary issues, historical complexities, personal problems at home, challenges in a mission or a marriage, wherever it is—I pray and ask and bless you to the end that you will be strong.
A: May you follow Christ with every ounce of your being, in good times and in bad.

jeffrey-r-holland_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “As much as we want life to be easy and comfortable, as much as I wish it could be that way for you, it simply cannot be” equals “good times and in bad.” Life inescapably consists of both good and bad experiences. Knowing this helps us consistently “follow Christ with every ounce of our being,” whether we are “in the midst of struggle” or enjoying a period of ease and comfort.

B=B: “We are all, in one way or another, at one point in our lives, going to deal with a moral conundrum or a difficult issue without an easy answer” equals “When those moments come—contemporary issues, historical complexities, personal problems at home, challenges in a mission or a marriage” and “Will you defend Christ and His gospel, come what may?” equals “I pray and ask and bless you to the end that you will be strong.” The moral conundrums or difficult issues we encounter in life include (but are not limited to) “contemporary issues, historical complexities, personal problems at home, [and] challenges in a mission or a marriage.” In these moments we have the choice as to how we will respond. The “strong” response is to “defend Christ and His gospel, come what may.” The prayers and support of others help us to endure through and benefit from these challenges.

C=C: “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” equals “disciples of Christ” and “God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings” equals “we will on occasion be in agony” and “[I]f you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God” complements “We must walk where He walked.” While Joseph Smith’s counsel (recorded by John Taylor) was directed to the members of the “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” it applies to all “disciples of Christ.” The “agony” that we experience from “all kinds of trials” is by divine design. It is the process of God feeling after us, taking hold of us, and wrenching our “very heart strings.” It is the same process that Jesus Christ, our Great Exemplar, endured through His life. This process is required of us if we are to become “fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”


Conclusion:

Elder Holland’s Facebook post helps us understand the divine purpose to the challenges of our lives. With the understanding that trials refine and prepare us for life in the presence of God, we are motivated to stay true to the Gospel. Additionally, with the knowledge that we are walking where Jesus walked — that He experienced that same types of trials we experience — the scriptures take on new meaning and added value as guidebooks for enduring as Jesus endured. Chiasmus in this post defines terms and provides a means for better understanding and applying Elder Holland’s encouraging message.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Speaking at “Robert Louis Stevenson: New Perspectives” Conference (July 2017)

(Creative Commons)Robert Louis Stevenson portrait
Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson (1887) by John Singer Sargent, oil on canvas 

We are happy to announce that we have been invited to present a paper this summer at the “Robert Louis Stevenson: New Perspectives” conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. To get an idea of what we’ll be speaking about, here is a link to an article we posted in December: “To Be Honest, To Be Kind: Chiasmus in Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘A Christmas Sermon.'”

Stay tuned for more details.

New Beginnings: David A. Bednar’s Facebook Chiasm

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David A. Bednar (facebook.com)

David A. Bednar has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2004. Prior to this, he served as “an Area Seventy, Area Authority Seventy, regional representative, twice as a stake president, and as a bishop.”

Professionally, Elder Bednar worked in academia for two and a half decades. Following the completion of his PhD in 1980, he “joined the business faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.” From 1997-2004 he was president of BYU-Idaho, leading its transition from junior college (Ricks College) to four-year university.

Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Bednar has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Bednar regularly posts experiences and photographs from his world-wide ministry, doctrinal mini-sermons, and his testimony of Jesus Christ.

On January 11, 2017, Elder Bednar posted his thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and “the process of turning unto God.” Chiasmus in his post emphasizes the “reality” and “power” of the “Savior’s atoning sacrifice” in our imperfect efforts to “become better.”

This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of Elder Bednar’s Facebook chiasm, which features complementary and equivalent pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: While the Lord desires that we strive consistently to become better, He also knows we will make mistakes.
B: Thankfully, a loving Savior has provided a way for us to heal from spiritual wounds and illness by turning to and coming unto Him.
C: As we begin this new year, let us remember and focus our lives upon new beginnings, or as Elder Neal A. Maxwell described it, “turning away from evil and turning to God.”
C: I can think of few gospel principles that are as positive and encouraging as repentance and the process of turning unto God.
B: As we learn about and focus our faith in the Redeemer, then we naturally turn toward and come unto Him.
A: I testify of the reality and of the power of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and of the blessings of hope and peace for our souls made available to us because of His great offering.

davidabednar_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “He also knows we will make mistakes” complements “Savior’s atoning sacrifice.” Because the Lord knows we “will make mistakes” in our strivings to “become better,” the “Savior’s atoning sacrifice” brings “hope and peace for our souls.”

B=B: “Savior” equals “Redeemer” and “turning to and coming unto Him” complements “naturally turn toward and come unto Him.” It is the “Savior” and “Redeemer,” Jesus Christ, to whom we need to turn and approach in order to be healed from “spiritual wounds and illness” (see Acts 4:12). By learning about and focusing our faith in Christ, we will “naturally” turn and come unto Him.

C=C: “[T]urning away from evil and turning to God” equals “repentance and the process of turning unto God.” The central focus of this chiasm addresses the beginning of a new year and the appropriateness of focusing “our lives upon new beginnings.” At its very core, improving aspects of our lives is a form of “repentance” and part of the “positive and encouraging” process of “turning unto God.”


Conclusion:

Elder Bednar’s Facebook post invites us to include the atonement of Jesus Christ in our New Year’s resolution efforts and helps us focus on “turning away from evil” and “turning unto God.” Chiasmus in his post adds richness to his message by defining terms and providing further insight into how to make the atonement naturally operative in our lives. It also helps us understand that we need not be perfect to enjoy the “hope and peace” the Atonement brings.

Teach Us How To Pray: Chiasmus in Brigham Young’s 1867 Dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle

brigham-young_mormonnewsroom-dot-org
Brigham Young (mormonnewsroom.org)

Brigham Young served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from December 1847 until his death in August 1877. Prior to this, he served as an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beginning in February 1835 (and Quorum president beginning in 1838). He joined the LDS Church in April 1832 after studying the faith for two years.

Professionally, Brigham Young was a carpenter. Before joining the Church he operated his own woodworking shop on his father’s farm in Mendon, New York, where he “supported his family by making and repairing chairs, tables, and cupboards and installing windows, doors, stairways, and fireplace mantels.”

President Young is most well-known for his colonizing efforts in the American West. Under his direction as many as 70,000 Latter-day Saints gathered to the Intermountain West between the years 1847 and 1869, where they established approximately 400 settlements. In honor of his pioneering efforts and leadership, a statue of Brigham Young stands in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

In 1861, the Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City were in need of a new tabernacle, since they had outgrown the Old Tabernacle built in 1857. This New Tabernacle would feature “a curved ceiling and a seating capacity of more than 12,000.” Although the New Tabernacle would not be completed and dedicated until October 1875, General Conferences of the Church were held there beginning in October 1867.

tabernacle-under-construction
Salt Lake Tabernacle Exterior (history.lds.org)

As part of their Lost Sermons project, historians at the Church History Library have recently discovered that Brigham Young dedicated the New Tabernacle at the October 1867 General Conference. According to news reports at the time this was not considered a formal dedication, but merely the opening prayer of the first session of Conference:

“The Thirty-seventh Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, convened … on Sunday morning, Oct. 6th, at 10 o’clock, in the New Tabernacle, which was ready for Conference to be held in it, the great exertions made for some time past by those having charge of its erection, having been thus far successful…. [A] detailed description of it will be more appropriate when it is finished, and dedicated…. Conference was called to order, and [a] hymn, composed by E. R. Snow for the occasion, was then read by the clerk and sung by the Tabernacle choir…. Prayer was then offered by President B. Young” [emphasis added] (Deseret News, October 9, 1867, 1).

The text of the prayer, recently brought to light and transcribed from Pitman shorthand, suggests that it was a preliminary dedication, or a prayer for divine help in completing the structure and dedicating their efforts toward this end. A similar pattern was followed in the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple, as portions of the building were dedicated and put to use as they were completed, followed by an official dedication. Additionally, the Conference Center was first used for General Conference in April 2000, but not dedicated until October 2000.

A careful study of Brigham Young’s 1867 dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle shows it to consist of a series of chiasms and ending with a parallelism. Dividing the text in this way invites us to ponder individual sections in context of his entire prayer. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of each of these sections in sequential order. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.

[Thanks to LaJean Carruth at the Church History Library for providing a more detailed understanding of the Lost Sermons project.]


Brigham Young’s Opening Remarks

#1: This chiasm, which consists of complementary and equivalent paired phrases, is structured around Brigham Young’s optimism that the organ would be completed in due time despite the audience’s apparent disappointment that it was not ready at the time of the dedication. He uses alternating optimistic and apologetic phrases.

A: It will be a [satisfying] reflection to myself if there is a spirit in the Latter-day Saints of Israel to forward the temple as we have this tabernacle. I wish to make a little apology to the people for the unfinished state of our organ.
B: We have commenced one that I think will do credit to the wilderness we inhabit when it is complete.
C: There is not over I suppose one third of the pipes now up in cases, and around it we have thrown … [a veil] to cover its nakedness, shall I say. …
D: When it is completed, the height of it will be more than once again than
E: the height of its present appearance.
E: It is now built about fifteen feet tall.
D: [It will] be, when completed, in the neighborhood of thirty-five feet in height.
C: We have done the best we could with it.
B: Brother Ridges has been faithful, and the hands [that have] been assisting him.
A: It is in the best order as could be under present circumstances.

A=A: “I wish to make a little apology to the people for the unfinished state of our organ” complements “the best order as could be under present circumstances.” Brigham Young opens with an apology for the “unfinished state of our organ,” but explains that “it is in the best order as could be under present circumstances.” Anyone who has visited the Salt Lake Tabernacle understands the visual prominence of the organ pipes within the hall. Since they are impossible to ignore, it is easy to understand why he would begin by addressing their unfinished state.

B=B: “We have commenced one that I think will do credit” complements “Brother Ridges has been faithful.” To comfort any doubters or those who may be disappointed, President Young mentions the faithfulness of Joseph H. Ridges, designer of the organ, and anticipates an organ that “will do credit” to their wilderness surroundings.” This is an understatement compared to the completed organ that has become world famous and draws tourists from around the world.

C=C: “[O]ne third of the pipes now up” complements “the best we could.” Although the organ pipes are only one-third of the way up, it is still “the best” their limited resources would permit. The Deseret News reported that the organ had “seven hundred mouths” at the time of this first General Conference, but would eventually contain “two thousand.” (Deseret News, October 9, 1867, 1)

D=D: “When it is completed, the height of it will be more than once again” equals “when completed, in the neighborhood of thirty-five feet in height.” To build anticipation and provide encouragement, President Young optimistically describes the eventual 35-foot height of the organ pipes.

E=E: “[P]resent appearance” equals “now built about fifteen feet tall.” The central element of this chiasm accentuates President Young’s apology by describing the “present appearance” of the organ pipes to be “about fifteen feet tall.”

Despite not being complete the organ was used to accompany the choirs which sang at the Conference and impressed those in attendance. The Deseret News, for example, provided this glowing review:

“The new Organ, which was played [by Joseph J. Daynes] with the singing of the Tabernacle choir, will be a magnificent and splendidly toned instrument when fully completed. Of its quality of tone and compass satisfactory evidence was obtained during Conference” (Deseret News, October 9, 1867, 1).


Brigham Young’s Dedicatory Prayer

#2: This chiasm uses both complementary and equivalent paired phrases to describe our relationship to each member of the Godhead. We worship Heavenly Father in the name of Christ and are directed to “all truth and holiness” through the influence of the Holy Ghost.

A: O God our Heavenly Father, who dwells in the heavens, in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ
B: we come before thee at this time to worship thee on this occasion.
C:We ask for the aid of thy holy spirit to teach us how to pray, what we should ask for, [and] how to ask that we may receive.
C: We pray that the Holy Ghost may be given unto us to bring us unto all truth and holiness, to [enlighten] our understanding, to enlarge our views pertaining to [the] heavens and to [the] earth, and all creations of God, to inspire us to faithfulness,
B: to [meld us] to a oneness
A: so that we may be the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A=A: “[I]n the name of thy Son Jesus Christ” complements “disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Disciples of Jesus Christ do all things in His name. Through Him they worship Heavenly Father. (see D&C 20:29)

B=B: “[W]orship thee” complements “oneness.” Coming together to worship God is a fundamental way disciples of Christ become united. (see 3 Nephi 27:1)

C=C: “[H]oly spirit … teach us how to pray, what we should ask for, [and] how to ask that we many receive” equals “Holy Ghost … bring us unto all truth and holiness, to [enlighten] our understanding, to enlarge our views pertaining to [the] heavens and to [the] earth, and all creations of God, to inspire us to faithfulness.” The central focus of this chiasm discusses the role of the Holy Ghost, who “teaches us how to pray,” including what to ask for and how to ask, “that we may receive.” Additionally, the Holy Ghost “brings us unto all truth and holiness” by enlightening “our understanding” and enlarging “our views pertaining to … all creations of God.” As a result of becoming familiar with “truth and holiness,” we are inspired “to faithfulness.”


#3: This chiasm uses complementary paired phrases to discuss the importance of dedicating ourselves to God.

A: We pray thee in the name of Jesus to bless this congregation who have assembled within the walls of this house for the first time to worship thee.
B: We dedicate ourselves unto thee, each and every one of us.
B: We dedicate unto thee this house and all that pertains there unto,
A: and pray thee in the name of Jesus Christ to give us the ability to complete the same. After we dedicate it unto the Lord of Hosts, it is then really thine.

A=A: “[P]ray thee in the name of Jesus … within the walls of this house” complements “pray thee in the name of Jesus Christ … ability to complete the same.” The congregation consists mainly of those participating in the construction of the Tabernacle. President Young prays that they may have the “ability to complete” the Tabernacle, a feat they would achieve eight years later in 1875.

B=B: “We dedicate ourselves unto thee” complements “[w]e dedicate unto thee this house.” The central focus of this chiasm is dedication to God — personal dedication as well as dedicating a house of worship. Through dedicated labor, the Latter-day Saints would be prepared to dedicate the completed Tabernacle to God, or to use it for His purposes. Joseph Fielding Smith taught this principle at the dedication of the Ogden Utah Temple in 1972: “May I remind you that when we dedicate a house to the Lord, what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way he intends that it shall be used.”


The next three chiasms focus on the necessity of leaders in the Church to exhibit wisdom.

#4: This chiasm uses complementary paired phrases to describe the equality that exists between priesthood leaders and priesthood laborers and of the importance of possessing wisdom when serving in leadership callings.

A: We ask thee our Father to bless thy priesthood,
B: [to] bless those that have authority in thy church and kingdom. Pour out of thy spirit upon them.
C: Give [us] wisdom to speak. Give [us] wisdom to pray.
C: Give us wisdom to pray and sing and to do all things that is necessary and becoming to thy saints.
B: Bless thy servants that have labored upon this house. We pray thee to inspire their hearts
A: give them that constitution and that faith and constant enjoyment in the love of Christ that will assist them [and pay them] for their diligence in their faithful labor.

A=A: “[B]less thy priesthood” complements “give them that constitution and that faith and constant enjoyment in the love of Christ.” Compensation for service in the kingdom of God is faith, joy, and charity.

B=B: “[B]less those that have authority in thy church… . Pour out of thy spirit upon them” complements “[b]less thy servants that have labored upon this house … inspire their hearts.” Any successful endeavor requires effective leadership and dedicated labor; it is a partnership requiring mutual trust and respect. In the case of a religious endeavor, inspiration from the Spirit is also required of both parties so that their endeavor can be pleasing to God. Although they play different roles, leaders and laborers are equal in the work of God.

C=C: “Give [us] wisdom to speak … [and] wisdom to pray” equals “Give us wisdom to pray and sing and to do.” The central focus of this chiasm is an acknowledgement that leaders in the church need the gift of divine wisdom in order to lead the Saints effectively.


#5: This chiasm uses equivalent and complementary paired phrases to emphasize the importance of apostles possessing the gift of wisdom.

A: We ask thee to bless the apostles.
B: Give unto them great wisdom
B: and understanding
A: that they may magnify their holy apostleship before thee.

A=A: “[A]postles” equals “holy apostleship.” Blessings from heaven are required in order to successfully magnify this holy calling. The same is true of any calling in the church.

B=B: “[G]reat wisdom” complements “understanding.” Similar to the previous chiasm, wisdom and understanding are essential to successfully lead in the church.


#6: This chiasm uses equivalent and complementary paired phrases to acknowledge the heavy burdens that bishops carry and of the need for them to possess great wisdom.

A: O Lord, bless all the quorums of thy church.
B: Especially bless the bishops.
C: We realize our Heavenly Father that their labors are great,
C: their tasks onerous.
B: They need great wisdom much patience, much forbearance, much wisdom from thee to magnify their high and holy calling in the midst of the people.
A: Bless the seventy and high priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons.

A=A: “[B]less all the quorums of thy church” equals “Bless the seventy and high priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons.” Listed here are the priesthood quorums that then functioned within each stake of the Church. The seventy now function as general or area authorities.

B=B: “[B]less the bishops” complements “They need great wisdom much patience, much forbearance, much wisdom from thee.” Bishops in the Church are blessed with the great spiritual gifts of “much patience, much forbearance, [and] much wisdom.”

C=C: “[T]heir labors are great” equals “their tasks onerous.” The central focus of this chiasm acknowledges the heavy burdens carried by priesthood holders, especially the bishops. Few understand the tremendous burdens bishops carry.


#7: This chiasm uses equivalent and complementary paired phrases to emphasize the importance of the family in the kingdom of God.

A: We pray thee in name of Jesus Christ to bless all the families of thy saints.
B: Inspire every heart that we may become one,
B: that our labors, our faith, our desires, our hopes, our pursuits in life may be concentrated
A: [to the] building up of thy kingdom and [the] establishment of peace and righteousness upon the earth.

A=A: “[A]ll the families of thy saints” complements “thy kingdom.” God’s kingdom consists of faithful families. Indeed, the family is the “fundamental unit of society,” both here and in the eternities.

B=B: “[O]ne” equals “concentrated.” As families are united in Christ, the kingdom will also be united.


#8: The chiasm uses complementary and equivalent paired phrases to show that a proactive attitude is needed to overcome challenges, since it preserves our agency and allows us to grow.

A: We ask thee our Heavenly Father to preserve thy people in these mountains.
B: Give us power to multiply and increase, and wilt thou multiply every blessing upon us.
C: Wilt thou give wisdom to thy people to know how to sustain and preserve themselves, that they may understand the elements,
C: that they may understand and have wisdom and power and disposition to accumulate and gather around us from the elements the necessaries for our consumption.
B: Bless the children of the saints that they may live to grow up in righteousness before thee;
A: and heal up the sick.

A=A: “[P]reserve thy people” complements “heal up the sick.” In order for the Latter-day Saints to be preserved and flourish in the Intermountain West, sickness would need to be tempered.

B=B: “[M]ultiply and increase” complements “children of the saints.” Sickness was of particular concern regarding children, who represented the future of Latter-day Saint growth and strength.

C=C: “[W]isdom … understand the elements” equals “wisdom … gather around us from the elements.” The central focus of this chiasm expresses a desire to proactively survive as a people, rather than passively seek divine deliverance from the effects of their harsh surroundings. President Young prays for wisdom and an understanding of the elements around them, so they can “sustain and preserve themselves.”


#9: This chiasm uses complementary and equivalent paired phrases to discuss missionary work and the gathering of the Latter-day Saints to Utah.

A: Remember all the subjects of our prayers and bless thy saints in various lands
B: and regard in great [mercy] thy servants that are travelling and preaching and laboring
C: to do good to bring souls to the knowledge of [the] truth.
C: Give them solace … and every blessing they need to perform their duty freely bestow upon them.
B: Preserve them and bring them safely to us again.
A: Open up the way for the gathering of thy poor saints from distant lands [that they] may [fill] up this land full of faith. Bless those [who have] arrived here. Inspire them to do right, …  [to] magnify their calling [and] live their religion, that they may be examples to others.

A=A: “[T]hy saints in various lands” complements “thy poor saints from distant lands.” During this period in Church history, new converts were encouraged to physically gather to the Intermountain West and help build a powerful nucleus that could later sustain a worldwide faith. The invitation to gather was a difficult burden, especially for “thy poor saints from distant lands.” This concern for the difficult realities of gathering led Church leaders to establish the Perpetual Emigrating Funding in 1849, which continued until 1887 and helped “more than 30,000 individuals to travel to Utah.”

B=B: “[T]hy servants that are travelling” complements “bring them safely to us again.” At an early date in Church history, missionaries began traveling internationally to share the message of the Restored Gospel. They would also assist new converts in gathering to the Intermountain West, often serving as leaders of emigrating groups on their journeys home. Then, as now, there was a constant concern and prayer for their safety.

C=C: “”[T]o bring souls to the knowledge of the truth” equals “their duty.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes the duties of missionaries and prays for the spiritual gifts that would enable success.


#10: This chiasm uses complementary and equivalent paired phrases to emphasize the unique role the Salt Lake Tabernacle would play in inviting the Spirit into people’s lives through music. Significantly, this chiasm foreshadows the international ministry of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which provides spiritual uplift through music to the nations of the earth.

A: We ask thee to bless our families, our wives and children, our houses and barns and flocks and herds.
B: Bless and pour out of thy spirit upon the good, honest, upright [and] faithful [among] all nations of the earth.
C: Bless them, and forgive us for our sins for Jesus’ sake.
D: Wilt thou inspire us.
E: Bless those that sing.
E: Bless him that plays the organ and all that assist in singing,
D: our brethren [and sisters who] come from distant [lands]. Inspire them to seek [the] power of thy holy spirit
C: and help each one of us so to conduct ourselves
B: so that we may be inspired from on high and have the gift of revelation,
A: that we may speak thereby, pray thereby, sing thereby, [and] hear thereby, that we may be perfected.

A=A: “[B]less our families” complements “that we may be perfected.” The ultimate aim of God’s blessings upon us is our eventual perfection as families. Music is a powerful tool for strengthening families in righteousness. As the First Presidency advised in their Preface to the 1985 edition of the LDS Hymn Book, “Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music.”

B=B: “[P]our out of thy spirit” equals “inspired from on high.” Both the honest in heart among “all nations” and the Latter-day Saints need revelation from heaven. Sacred music originating in the Salt Lake Tabernacle would play a distinctive role in God pouring out His spirit upon all nations. This is particularly manifested by the Church’s semi-annual General Conferences (which were broadcast from the Tabernacle until 2000) and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s weekly broadcast, Music & the Spoken Word. Additionally, an imprint of the Tabernacle organ pipes and casing is featured on the cover of the LDS Hymn Book, which is the basic standard for music in the Church.

C=C: “[F]orgive us of our sins” complements “help each one of us to so conduct ourselves.” Forgiveness is only forthcoming when we put forth the effort to overcome sin. We need divine help to “conduct ourselves” faithfully. Sacred music can help us overcome temptation and develop the desire to repent of sin.

D=D: “[I]nspire us” complements “Inspire them.” Both the Latter-day Saints who had already gathered and the Latter-day Saints in “distant lands” needed divine inspiration and the “power of the Holy spirit.” Throughout the gathering period, music played an important role in lifting the spirits of the Saints and unifying their efforts. As the Lord revealed to Brigham Young twenty years earlier when organizing the Saints for their westward journey, “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” (D&C 136:28)

E=E: “[T]hose that sing” complements “all that assist in singing.” The central focus of this chiasm is the powerful influence of music in promoting righteousness and spirituality. The ability to compose and perform such uplifting music is a gift of the Spirit. As evidenced by the organ pipes then under construction, music would be a distinctive feature of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

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Salt Lake Tabernacle Interior (mormonnewsroom.org)

#11: This parallelism uses complementary and comparative paired phrases to show that completing the Salt Lake Temple was never very far from their minds.

A: We ask thee to bless us with all these blessings,
B: for we feel to dedicate [unto] thee this building
C: and pray thee to preserve us to finish the same,
D: that we may dedicate it and thy people to thee.
A: Bless our labors
B: [in] building [the] temple,
C: that we may have power to accomplish further work,
D: that we may receive our further blessings in the holy priesthood. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, … amen.

A=A: “[B]less us” complements “[b]less our labors.” In concluding his prayer, President Young again seeks the blessings of the Lord, both to complete the Tabernacle and to receive the blessings that will enable them to use the building according to His purposes.

B=B: “[D]edicate [unto] thee this building” compares with “building [the] temple.” In addition to completing the Tabernacle, President Young also sought for power to complete the construction of the neighboring Salt Lake Temple. The Latter-day Saints love both the Tabernacle and the Temple and dedicate both to God’s purposes.

C=C: “[P]reserve us to finish the same” complements “power to accomplish further work.” While completing the Tabernacle is the immediate focus of this prayer, the desire to finish the neighboring temple is never far from his mind. Receiving the blessings of the temple would endow them with “power to accomplish further work.”

D=D: “[D]edicate it and thy people to thee” complements “that we may receive our further blessings.” Both the Tabernacle and the Temple would be buildings dedicated to God, but the Temple would enable them to “receive our further blessings in the holy priesthood.”


Conclusion:

The existence of chiasmus in Brigham Young’s 1867 dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle suggests that the original Pitman shorthand record of the prayer and subsequent transcription is accurate to President Young’s original words, since imposing a chiastic structure while recording his words in real-time is highly unlikely and practically impossible.

Brigham Young’s use of chiasmus divides his prayer into mini-sermons, with each focusing on a different aspect of the Tabernacle and the needs of the Church at that time. A major theme is the need for wisdom throughout the membership of the Church, so they can be united and successful in their efforts. Additional themes are the international gathering of the Saints to the Intermountain West and their prosperity in a new and challenging land, their desires to complete the Tabernacle and the Temple, and the eventually international ministry of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Brigham Young’s dedicatory prayer demonstrates that chiasmus is an effective literary device for discussing multiple topics in an organized way in one text.

The Faith Necessary To Persevere: D. Todd Christofferson’s Three Facebook Chiasms

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D. Todd Christofferson (facebook.com)

D. Todd Christofferson has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since April 2008. Prior to this, he served in the Presidency of the Seventy beginning in August 1998 and as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in 1993. He has also served as a regional representative, stake president, and bishop.

Professionally, Elder Christofferson worked as an attorney on the East Coast of the United States, including working as a law clerk for Judge John J. Sirica during the Watergate trials. He also served in the United States Army.

Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Christofferson has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Christofferson regularly posts his testimony of various Gospel principles and inspirational experiences from his life and ministry.

Elder Christofferson’s Facebook posts are frequently written using a chiastic structure, as evidenced by his posts on 20 September, 29 November, and 8 December 2016. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of each of these chiasms.

[Note: For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.]


8 December 2016

A: Yesterday I was blessed to speak about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress and to offer a prayer at the United States Senate.
B: I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share my faith in Jesus Christ and testimony of the eternal truths contained in the Book of Mormon.
C: Since its publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon has garnered much attention. Most recently the Book of Mormon has been added to the list of “Books That Shaped America” and listed fourth on the Library of Congress’s “America Reads” list of most influential books in American history. The Book of Mormon stresses the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives.
D: I testified to those in attendance at the Library of Congress that the Book of Mormon was literally translated by Joseph Smith from ancient golden plates through the gift and power of God.
D: For Latter-day Saints, the translation of the Book of Mormon was a miracle.
C: What began with 5,000 copies in a small print shop in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 has resulted in millions of copies available in multiple languages around the globe. Beyond its impact on American literature and culture, for Latter-day Saints the Book of Mormon remains “the keystone of our religion.” It brings peace and comfort, counsel and guidance, inspiration and encouragement to over 15 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.
B: My own witness of Jesus Christ is rooted in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. It is in an ongoing study of the Book of Mormon that my knowledge and understanding of the Savior continues to expand and deepen.
A: I invite all of us to ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon and discover or rediscover its teachings.

dtoddchristofferson_bom_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “I was blessed to speak about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress” equals “I invite all of us to ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon and discover or rediscover its teachings.” Elder Christofferson’s visit to Washington D.C. included both his speech about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress and his prayer at the United States Senate. This chiasm, however, focuses on his speech at the Library of Congress. Elder Christofferson’s message was not limited to those in attendance at the Library of Congress. Rather his invitation to “ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon” was addressed to “all.”

B=B: “[M]y faith in Jesus Christ and testimony of the eternal truths contained in the Book of Mormon” complements “My own witness of Jesus Christ is rooted in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible.” Elder Christofferson’s speech at the Library of Congress gave him the opportunity to share his “witness of Jesus Christ” and testimony of the Book of Mormon. These two are related, since it is from the Book of Mormon (and Bible) that his witness of Jesus Christ has grown.

C=C: “Since its publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon has garnered much attention” complements “What began with 5,000 copies in a small print shop in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 has resulted in millions of copies available in multiple languages around the globe” and “The Book of Mormon stresses the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives” complements “It brings peace and comfort, counsel and guidance, inspiration and encouragement to over 15 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.” Accentuating the positive, Elder Christofferson focuses on the growing acceptance of the Book of Mormon in American society and of its “keystone” role in the LDS Church. In addition to its literary and cultural influence, the Book of Mormon provides an active, spiritual influence in the lives of Latter-day Saints around the world.

D=D: “[T]he Book of Mormon was literally translated by Joseph Smith from ancient golden plates through the gift and power of God” complements “the translation of the Book of Mormon was a miracle.” The central focus of this chiasm, and indeed a major theme of his full speech, is that the translation of the Book of Mormon is a modern-day “miracle,” evidence that the “power of God” is active in the world today.

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Elder Christofferson speaking at the Library of Congress (facebook.com)

29 November 2016

A: For years, those in the Africa Southeast Area have had only one operating temple that they could visit to participate in saving ordinances for themselves and on behalf of their deceased ancestors—the Johannesburg South Africa Temple.
B: During my recent visit to Africa, I was able to witness the anticipatory joy many in the area are feeling for the three additional temples in the area that are either under construction or have been announced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Durban, South Africa.
C: Members in this area have always faced many challenges to get to the temple. Travel is expensive—so are passports and visas.
C: Many members of the Church have been blessed by donations to the temple patron fund to help them get to the temple for the first time, but regular attendance has been extremely difficult.
B: With the expansion of announced temples in the area, the increased desire among members to enter into sacred covenants is palpable. Likewise, the number of those who are doing family history work so they can extend temple blessings to their ancestors is also ramping up. It is very clear to me that the people of Africa are spiritually inclined. They believe in God, and they naturally look to Him for help. Their desire to attend and serve in the temple is an inspiration to me.
A: I pray that we all will make it a goal to attend the temple as regularly as our circumstances allow. It is thanks to the covenants that we make in the temple that we are able to have the faith necessary to persevere and to do all things that are expedient in the Lord.

dtoddchristofferson_africatemple_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “For years, those in the Africa Southeast Area have had only one operating temple that they could visit to participate in saving ordinances” complements “make it a goal to attend the temple as regularly as our circumstances allow.” The limited availability of the temple in the Africa Southeast Area is a reminder for “all” Church members to place a high priority on attending the temple “as regularly as our circumstances allow.”

B=B: “During my recent visit to Africa, I was able to witness the anticipatory joy many in the area are feeling for the three additional temples in the area that are either under construction or have been announced” equals “With the expansion of announced temples in the area, the increased desire among members to enter into sacred covenants is palpable.” The announcement and construction of a new temple is always exciting for faithful Latter-day Saints, but especially so in areas where accessibility to a temple is limited.

C=C: “[M]any challenges to get to the temple” equals “regular attendance has been extremely difficult.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes the real challenges that Church members in Southeast Africa face in their efforts to attend the temple. Travel expenses are such that many members must rely on “donations to the temple patron fund to help them get to the temple for the first time.” This emphasis on the challenges they face in their efforts to attend the temple helps those of us who live closer to a temple understand the excitement the African Saints feel at the construction of three temples closer and more accessible to their homes.

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Elder Christofferson visiting the Saints in Southeast Africa (facebook.com)

20 September 2016

A: It was a great blessing to be able to participate in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple dedication with President Henry B Eyring last weekend.  
B: It is significant to have this temple located in the city so central to the birth of the United States of America.
C: Here the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted and has inspired the hearts of mankind ever since with “self-evident” truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation—“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
C: Here the Constitution of the United States was drafted. Of that great document the Lord declared, “I have suffered [it] to be established, and [it] should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles. … And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.”
B: What happened in the United States from 1776 forward was vital to the opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. The nation that began here has been the host of the kingdom of God on the earth, and as the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed, so we pray, “May the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come.”
A: Now, in a sense, the circle is complete as a crowning element of the latter-day work, a holy temple, is dedicated in the birth city of the United States, the city named for brotherly love.

d_todd_christofferson_facebook
(facebook.com)

A=A: “Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple dedication” equals “a holy temple, is dedicated in the birth city of the United States, the city named for brotherly love.” Each temple dedication is a special and momentous occasion, but the construction of a temple in the “birth city of the United States” is especially significant.

B=B: “[C]entral to the birth of the United States of America” complements “vital to the opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth.” The construction of a temple in Philadelphia is significant because the “birth of the United States of America” that happened here enabled the “opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth.”

C=C: “Here the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted” complements “Here the Constitution of the United States was drafted” and “‘self-evident’ truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation” complements “maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles.” Specifically, our founding documents — the Declaration of Independence and Constitution — proclaim “‘self-evident’ truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation” and protect our “unalienable Rights” according to “just and holy principles.” Freedom of religion, guaranteed in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, provided an environment where the restored church could be organized, despite persecution from individuals and groups.

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President Eyring and Elder Christofferson at the Philadephia Temple dedication (facebook.com)

Conclusion:

Elder Christofferson’s use of chiasmus in these three examples from his Facebook page transform his social media posts into mini-sermons that invite introspection and application. His first chiasm invites us to read the Book of Mormon. His second chiasm invites us to prioritize temple attendance. His third chiasm invites us to recognize the significance of a Latter-day Saint temple in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As with our other articles on chiasmus in the social media posts of the apostles, Elder Christofferson’s Facebook posts are a reminder for us to ponder the words of the prophets even though they may appear in ordinary places.

To Be Honest, To Be Kind: Chiasmus in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Christmas Sermon”

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Robert Louis Stevenson

Like chiasmus in the ancient world, chiasmus in the modern world is not limited to the sacred writings of prophets. Just as chiasmus was used by Greek and Roman writers, it appears in the writings of Shakespeare, Milton, Hemingway, and others. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Christmas Sermon” features several chiasms.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish poet, novelist, essayist, and travel writer. His enduring fame is due primarily to his books Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the winter of 1887 he wrote “A Christmas Sermon” at Lake Sarnac, New York “while he convalesced from a lung ailment.” The essay was published in the December 1888 issue of Scribner’s Magazine, an American literary journal.

“A Christmas Sermon” is as much a funeral sermon (end of life) as it is a Christmas sermon (end of year). It reflects on man’s misdirected ambition, self-criticism, and judgement of others. In an effort to redirect man’s ambition, it encourages a focus on life’s true endeavor—that of being honest, kind, and patient—and of adopting a modest and reasonable view of one’s self.

As a point of interest, Robert Louis Stevenson has been quoted many times in LDS General Conference talks, especially in recent years (see LDS Scripture Citation Index). In particular, a passage from “A Christmas Sermon” was referenced by Marion D. Hanks in October 1973.

This article presents diagrams and detailed analyses of four chiasms from “A Christmas Sermon,” which feature equivalent, contrasting, and complementary pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.

[Note: Thanks to Professor Richard Dury at RLS Website for his assistance in locating “A Christmas Sermon” in Scribner’s Magazine.]


Diagram and Analysis:

#1: This chiasm encourages us to develop a modest and reasonable attitude about our moral progress.

A: The idealism of serious people in this age of ours is of a noble character. It never seems to them that they have served enough; they have a fine impatience of their virtues.
B: It were perhaps more modest to be singly thankful that we are no worse.
C: It is not only our enemies, those desperate characters
C: —it is we ourselves who know not what we do;—
B: thence springs the glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think: that to scramble through this random business with hands reasonably clean, to have played the part of a man or woman with some reasonable fulness, to have often resisted the diabolic, and at the end to be still resisting it, is for the poor human soldier to have done right well.
A: To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a transcendental way of serving for reward; and what we take to be contempt of self is only greed of hire.

A=A: “It never seems to them that they have served enough” complements “To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a transcendental way of serving for reward.” A result of the “idealism of serious people in this age of ours” is too much focus on the “fruit of our endeavor” and a “contempt of self” from not having “served enough.” Stevenson equates these with “serving for reward” and the “greed of hire.”

B=B: “It were perhaps more modest to be singly thankful that we are no worse” complements “thence springs the glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think.” Stevenson suggests a “more modest” or “reasonable” approach, wherein if we are “thankful that we are no worse” we will develop the “glimmering hope that perhaps we do better than we think.”

C=C: “It is not only our enemies” equals “it is we ourselves.” The central focus of this chiasm suggests that we are oftentimes our own worst enemies. Recognizing this can lead us to the “glimmering hope” described above..


#2: This chiasm invites us to redirect our ambition away from the grand and toward life’s true endeavor, that of being kind, honest, and patient.

A: It may be argued again that dissatisfaction with our life’s endeavour springs in some degree from dulness.
B: We require higher tasks, because we do not recognise the height of those we have.
C: Trying to be kind and honest
D: seems an affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of our heroic mould;
E: we had rather set ourselves to something bold, arduous, and conclusive;
E: we had rather found a schism or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an appetite.
D: But the task before us, which is to co–endure with our existence, is rather one of microscopic fineness, and the heroism required is that of patience. There is no cutting of the Gordian knots of life; each must be smilingly unravelled.
C: To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself—
B: here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.
A: He has an ambitious soul who would ask more;

achristmassermon_scribnersmagazine_dec1888_764
Scribner’s Magazine (December 1888), 764 (archive.org)

A=A: “[D]issatisfaction with our life’s endeavour springs in some degree from dulness” contrasts with “He has an ambitious soul who would ask more.” Man’s “dissatisfaction with our life’s endeavor” is the result of misdirected ambition.

B=B: “We require higher tasks, because we do not recognise the height of those we have” complements “here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.” Repeating the same idea as in A=A, man’s requirement for “higher tasks” is the result of misdirected ambition, of not recognizing “the height of those we have.”

C=C: “Trying to be kind and honest” equals “To be honest, to be kind.” Here Stevenson reveals life’s true endeavor, that of being “kind and honest.” In the second half, he defines this term: “to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself.”

D=D: “[S]eems an affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of our heroic mould” contrasts with “But the task before us … is rather one of microscopic fineness, and the heroism required is that of patience.” Stevenson provides the necessary redirection to help us understand that, although seemingly “too simple and too inconsequential,” the heroic “task before us” is micro, not macro. “Patience” and self-control are the required attributes that must be developed.

E=E: “[W]e had rather set ourselves to something bold, arduous, and conclusive” equals “we had rather found a schism or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an appetite.” The central focus of this chiasm is man’s ambitious vanity that overlooks the true heroic quest in life, that of being “kind and honest.” However, as suggested above, man’s ambition can and must be redirected and turned into a positive force.


#3: This chiasm acknowledges that we will never fully succeed at being kind, honest, and patient.

A: he has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful.
B: There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert:
C: whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed;
C: failure is the fate allotted. It is so in every art and study; it is so above all in the continent art of living well.
B: Here is a pleasant thought for the year’s end or for the end of life: Only self–deception will be satisfied,
A: and there need be no despair for the despairer.

A=A: “[H]e has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful” contrasts with “there need be no despair for the despairer.” Paradoxically, life’s endeavor requires neither a hopeful nor a despairing spirit.

B=B: “There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert” complements “Only self–deception will be satisfied.” Despite “blindness” and “self-deception,” there is no way around this “one element in human destiny,” the need to become kind and honest.

C=C: “[W]e are not intended to succeed” equals “failure is the fate allotted.” The central focus of this chiasm reveals that we are “not intended to succeed” in being kind and honest. Recognizing and accepting this will help us avoid the disappointments of having a hopeful spirit and the limitations of a becoming a despairer. Only a reasonable approach will do.


#4: This chiasm celebrates the joyous effect of Christmas and discusses the eternal importance of developing a childlike character of gentleness and cheerfulness.

A: But Christmas is not only the mile–mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self–examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy.
B: A man dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face.
C: Noble disappointment, noble self–denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness.
D: It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without.
D: And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.
C: Mighty men of their hands, the smiters and the builders and the judges, have lived long and done sternly and yet preserved this lovely character; and among our carpet interests and twopenny concerns, the shame were indelible if we should lose it.
B: Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality; they are the perfect duties. And it is the trouble with moral men that they have neither one nor other.
A: It was the moral man, the Pharisee, whom Christ could not away with. If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not say “give them up,” for they may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.

A=A: “Christmas … is a season … suggesting thoughts of joy” complements “If your morals make you dreary … conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.” Christmas is a season of “self-examination” and “joy,” not of “dreary” judgemental attitudes and behavior. To avoid spoiling the lives and holidays of “better and simpler people,” we should “conceal” our downer mindsets “like a vice.”

B=B: “[I]t is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face” equates “Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality; they are the perfect duties.” If the dreariness of winter tempts us “to sadness,” Christmas helps us to put on a “smiling face.” The “gentleness and cheerfulness” that Christmas invites are the “perfect duties” and supercedes the gloom of criticism.

C=C: “Noble disappointment, noble self–denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness” contrasts with “Mighty men of their hands, the smiters and the builders and the judges, have lived long and done sternly and yet preserved this lovely character.” It is possible to be “mighty” and accomplished and yet preserve “this lovely character” of gentleness and cheerfulness. A moral philosophy that brings “bitterness” should not be “admired” nor “pardoned.”

D=D: “It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without” contrasts “the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.” The central focus of this chiasm is the childlike attributes that are necessary for us to develop in order to “enter the kingdom of heaven.” These include being “easy to please” and loving to “give pleasure.” In contrast, if we adopt dreary and critical attitudes we will “maim” ourselves and prevent our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.


Conclusion:

Robert Louis Stevenson uses chiasmus in “A Christmas Sermon” to divide his text into mini-sermons, drawing our attention to specific passages and inviting us to ponder his words. As we do so, we will more likely reflect upon our own lives and apply his message to a greater or lesser extent. Perhaps we will begin to see ourselves in a more modest light. Perhaps we will begin to redirect our ambitions to being more kind, honest, and patient. Perhaps we will learn to be less discouraged at our apparent lack of progress in life’s true endeavor. Perhaps we will begin developing greater gentleness and cheerfulness, especially at Christmas time. “A Christmas Sermon” serves as a case study in the function of chiasmus to guide a reader’s attention and thoughts.

The Happiest People You Will Find Anywhere: Quentin L. Cook’s Facebook Chiasm

quentinlcook_fbprofilepic
Quentin L. Cook (facebook.com)

Quentin L. Cook has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2007. Prior to this, he served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in 1998. He has also served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, Area Authority, and member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. For his professional career, he worked as an attorney and healthcare executive in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Cook has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Cook regularly posts inspirational thoughts and snapshots from his world-wide ministry.

On December 1, 2016, Elder Cook posted a brief report about a recent visit to the Philippines. Chiasmus in his post emphasizes that the Saints’ love for and commitment to the Savior is the secret to their happiness and the cause of the Church’s impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years.

This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of this chiasm, which features equivalent and complementary pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: As a newly called General Authority of the Church in 1996, my first assignment was with members in the Philippines. I have returned several times since, but this recent visit to the country marks 20 years since my first assignment. I was pleased to see how the Church has grown there and witness how the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives.
B: In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled. We are certainly pleased with the growth—but not surprised. I have always been impressed by the positive attitudes of those in the Philippines. It is a land of beautiful smiles, and the people there are some of the happiest people you will find anywhere.
C: I believe they are so happy because they have a sincere love of the Savior.
C: You can really feel a warmth from the people. Their commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent.
B: Because of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes. The Primary children from 20 years ago are now returned missionaries, and the returned missionaries are now Church leaders. Their lives serve as a testament to me that the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us out of life’s challenges. It empowers us to have joy in spite of difficult circumstances.
A: I pray we will all follow the examples I saw from the members of the Church in the Philippines to make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of our lives. When we do so, He will help and heal us.

quentinlcook_fbchiasm1
(facebook.com)

A=A: “[M]embers in the Philippines” equals “members of the Church in the Philippines” and “the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives” equals “He will help and heal us.” This chiasm describes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, and serves as an example of how the “gospel of Jesus Christ [changes] lives.” This change comes about as Church members “make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of their lives.” As they do so, Christ “help[s] and heal[s]” them.

B=B: “In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled” equals “where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes” and “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere” complements “joy in spite of difficult circumstances.” The LDS Church has seen impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years “[b]ecause of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Although they experience “life’s challenges,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ has lifted and empowered them to “have joy in spite of [their] difficult circumstances.” As a result, they are “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere.”

C=C: “[T]hey have a sincere love of the Savior” complements “[t]heir commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes their “sincere love of the Savior” that is manifested through their “commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues.” This commitment enables their happiness and is the root cause of the impressive growth of the Church in the Philippines.

quentinlcook_fbchiasm3
Filipino Saints (facebook.com)

Conclusion:

As with our previous articles on chiasmus in the Facebook posts of the Apostles, this post by Elder Cook reminds us to slow down and ponder the words of the prophets even though they may appear in ordinary places. By following the example of the Saints in the Philippines, we can find happiness and strengthen our wards and stakes by centering our lives on “the Savior and His Atonement.”

I Am One Of His Witnesses: Chiasmus in Bruce R. McConkie’s “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane”

bruce-r-mcconkie_april1985_lds-dot-org
Bruce R. McConkie (lds.org)

Bruce R. McConkie served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from October 1972 until his death in April 1985. Prior to this, he served in the First Council of the Seventy beginning in October 1946. Professionally, Elder McConkie practiced law and worked on a newspaper editorial staff. During World War II, he served as an army intelligence officer.

Elder McConkie is remembered for his prolific writing and extensive doctrinal knowledge. His books, Mormon Doctrine, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (3 volumes), The Messiah Series (6 volumes), and A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, are classics in Mormon theology.

Elder McConkie is also remembered for his final public testimony of Jesus Christ given in General Conference on April 6, 1985, thirteen days before his death. He explained how he gained his own witness of Christ, described the events of the Lord’s atonement in vivid detail, invited church members to put forth the effort to gain their own witness, and closed with a powerful testimony. This final address, titled “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” is chiastic, featuring both chiasms and parallelisms throughout. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of his concluding testimony (the best-remembered portion of his final address), followed by a less-detailed treatment of eight additional chiasms and parallelisms.

[Note: For an in-depth explanation of our methodology, see our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.]


Diagram and Analysis:

A: And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God
B: I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha,
C: and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King.
D: This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses,
E: and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet
E: and shall wet his feet with my tears.
D: But I shall not know any better then than I know now
C: that he is God’s Almighty Son,
B: that he is our Savior and Redeemer,
A: and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

conferencereport_april1985_9_mcconkie
Conference Report, April 1985 (archive.org)

A=A: “[P]erfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God” equals “his atoning blood.” The shedding of Christ’s blood was an essential component of his “perfect atonement,” by which salvation is made possible for all mankind.

B=B: “Gethsemane and at Golgotha” complements “Savior and Redeemer.” Christ shed his blood at both Gethsemane and Golgotha in order to become our Savior and Redeemer. By overcoming spiritual and physical death he made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins, be resurrected, and become like our Heavenly Parents and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

C=C: “Son of the Living God” equals “God’s Almighty Son.” Christ is the Son of God.

D=D: “I know of myself independent of any other person” complements “I shall not know any better then than I know now.” Through personal revelation, Elder McConkie is a primary source for the events of the atonement. This sure knowledge would not increase “in a coming day” when he would personally meet Christ in the spirit world and “feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” and “wet his feet with [his] tears.” As mentioned in the introduction, Elder McConkie’s death occurred thirteen days after giving this talk, on April 19, 1985.

E=E: “I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” complements “shall wet his feet with my tears.” Although this personal meeting with Christ would not increase his witness of Christ and the events of the atonement, the emotions of the moment would cause him to weep with gratitude for the blessings of the atonement extended on his behalf. (For similar events in the scriptures, see Luke 7:37-38 and 3 Nephi 17:10.)


Additional Chiasms and Parallelisms:

#1: This chiasm describes the process whereby Elder McConkie developed his own witness of the atonement of Christ. As he studied the words of the prophets, “the Holy Spirit of God” testified to him “that they are true.” As a result of this divine witness, whereby he “heard his voice and know[s] his word,” Elder McConkie possessed his own independent knowledge of the atonement of Christ. As a witness of Christ, his teachings about the atonement become the voice of the Lord to us in our efforts to qualify for our own witness.

A: In speaking of these wondrous things
B: I shall use my own words,
C: though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets.
C: True it is they were first proclaimed by others,
B: but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance.
A: I have thereby heard his voice and know his word.


#2: This parallelism details six key aspects of the atonement. The first two proclaim it to be the pinnacle event or act in all of eternity. The final four describe the glorious blessings that have come as a result of the atonement.

A: His atonement
B: is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.
A: It
B: is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform.
A: Through it,
B: all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative.
A: Through it
B: are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
A: Through it,
B: all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment.
A: And through it,
B: all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory.


#3 This parallelism details what we know and what we don’t know about Christ’s sufferings while he was accomplishing the atonement.

A: We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive
B: the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.
A: We know
B: he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him.
A: We know
B: he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.
A: We know
B: that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.
A: We know
B: that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.
A: We know
B: that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.
A: As near as we can judge,
B: these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.


#4: This chiasm describes the mockery inflicted upon Christ by the leaders of the Jews and Romans following his arrest. With their worldly authority Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod mocked Christ’s divine and rightful authority by placing a “crown of thorns” upon “his trembling brow.” With their saliva they mocked his holy face, which is only revealed to his special witnesses in our day. With “vicious blows” they mocked his sacred body that was part mortal and part immortal, and which was his vehicle for overcoming spiritual and physical death on our behalf.

A: They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten.
B: Their foul saliva ran down his face
C: as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body.
C: With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back.
B: Blood ran down his face
A: as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow.


#5: This chiasm describes the agony Christ experienced as he “carried his own cross” toward the “hill called Calvary.” As a result of the physical and spiritual torture he had experienced over the previous twelve hours, Christ “collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all.” Insightfully, Elder McConkie describes how the “helpless disciples” of Christ “looked on” as he was nailed to the cross and experienced a similar agony “in their own bodies.” Perhaps this experience prepared them to carry their own crosses as they worked to spread the Gospel throughout the ancient world.

A: Then he carried his own cross
B: until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all.
C: Finally, on a hill called Calvary
C: again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls
B: while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies,
A: the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross.


#6: These two parallelisms describe the essential roles of Adam and Christ in our eternal development. By bringing death into the world, Adam is the “father of mortality.” By bringing life into the world, Christ is the “father of immortality.” Without the Fall, mankind could not experience “mortality and death.” Without the Atonement, mankind could not experience “immortality and eternal life.”

A: As Adam brought death,
B: so Christ brought life;
A: as Adam is the father of mortality,
B: so Christ is the father of immortality.

A: Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death;
B: and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.
A: If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death,
B:there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.


#7: This parallelism describes the process of moving from having “a superficial knowledge” to possessing “a sound and sure knowledge” of the Atonement. We must “cast aside the philosophies of men” that encourage us to have only a passive reliance upon the Lord. We must cast aside “the wisdom of the wise” who only believe what they can see. Instead, we must seek to have “faith like Enoch and Elijah.” In order to “believe what [Enoch and Elijah] believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived,” we must “hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.” In other words, we need to develop our spiritual capacities and sensitivities, so that we can confidently act on revelation and see the hand of God in our lives.

A: Many of us have a superficial knowledge
B: and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life.
C: But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah
D: we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.
A: May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.
B: We must cast aside the philosophies of men
C: and the wisdom of the wise
D: and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.


#8: Continuing in this process of “gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement,” this parallelism focuses on the role of scripture study. Elder McConkie invites us to “search the scriptures,” which means we must “read” them, “ponder” their contents, and “pray” for spiritual insight and confirmation. By accepting the scriptures as “the mind and will and voice of the Lord,” “our minds” will be open to divine instruction and testimony about what happened in the “three gardens of God” — the Garden of Eden, where spiritual and physical death were introduced into the world; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ overcame spiritual death; and the Garden of the Empty Tomb, where Christ overcame physical death. These events are “the very power of God unto salvation.” Hence, the scriptures that teach and testify of these events are also the power of God unto salvation, since they help us develop faith in Christ.

A: We must search the scriptures,
B: accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord
C: and the very power of God unto salvation.
A: As we read, ponder, and pray,
B: there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—
C: the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.


Conclusion:

Chiasmus in Bruce R. McConkie’s final public testimony, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” emphasizes and clarifies different aspects of his message. First, it details the process of how he gained his own witness of the atonement of Jesus Christ and how we can gain our own. Second, it brings to light unique aspects of his witness, suggesting that each person’s witness may be unique in certain details while agreeing in essentials (for an example of this in the scriptures, see 1 Nephi 15:27). Lastly, it demonstrates the strong witness of Christ that we can each possess if we put forth the required effort, as did Elder McConkie.

The Mountain of the Lord’s House: Chiasmus in the Salt Lake Temple Dedicatory Prayer

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People lined up outside the Salt Lake Temple to attend its dedicatory services, April 6, 1893 (archive.org)

The Salt Lake Temple, built of gray granite and featuring six spires, is an internationally recognized symbol of the Mormon faith. Brigham Young announced plans to construct the temple on July 28, 1847, shortly after the first Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Construction began in 1853, with a groundbreaking ceremony on February 14th and a cornerstone laying ceremony on April 6th. Forty years later, after much toil, sacrifice and opposition, the temple was complete. On April 6, 1893 the temple was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff at the conclusion of the Church’s multi-day General Conference.

A description of that morning’s weather offers insight into the great spiritual significance with which the Latter-day Saints viewed the dedicatory services:

“When the sixth of April, 1893, was ushered in, the sky was overcast with lowering clouds, through which there were occasional glimpses of sunshine. A strong breeze from the northwest gradually increased in violence until by ten o’clock the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane. From that hour until noon it seemed as if the ‘prince of the power of the air’ was giving vent to his fiercest wrath. Then there was a slight fall of rain and snow, and the wind softened to a gentle breeze. But the atmospheric disturbance did not deter any who were privileged to attend the opening dedication service” (The Contributor, 292).

President Woodruff, in his journal entry for the day, documented the joy and spiritual outpouring that accompanied the dedication of the temple:

“The dedication of the Temple Commenced at 10 oclock [sic]. Near 3,000 Assembled at the upper room. I attended the Dedication of the Temple. The spirit & Power of God rested upon us. The spirit of Prophesy [sic] & Revelation was upon us & the Hearts of the People were Melted and many thing wer [sic] unfolded to us. We Met in the Afternoon at 2 oclk [sic] & we had a glorious time. W Woodruff & G Q Cannon & J F Smith occupied most of the time. W Woodruff offered up the prayer in the forenoon & G Q Cannon in the Afternoon” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:246).

The joy the Latter-day Saints felt at the completion and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple is due, in part, to their conviction that they were fulfilling prophecy:

“Ages agone, in far-off Judea, the Prophet Micah predicted that ‘in the last days’ the mountain of the house of the Lord should be ‘established in the top of the mountains,’ and be ‘exalted above the hills.” Forty-four years ago, the Prophet Brigham, standing on a desert spot in a mountain valley, where all around seemed hopeless desolation, declared, ‘Here will be the Temple of our God!’ Today, the thousands of dwellers in these mountain vales are witnesses to the fulfillment of the ancient and modern prophecy” (The Contributor, 243).

wilford-woodruff-lds_dot_org_edit
Wilford Woodruff, ca. 1898 (lds.org)

The Salt Lake Temple dedicatory prayer was written by Wilford Woodruff with some input from George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, his counsellors in the First Presidency. In his journal entry for March 17, 1893, President Woodruff wrote, “We read over the Dedicatory Prayer and made some Aditions [sic] to it.” On the following day President Woodruff “wrote some addition to the Prayer” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:244). The dedicatory prayer is chiastic, featuring chiasms and parallelisms throughout that shed light on different aspects and purposes of the temple. Chiasms in the dedicatory prayer are predominantly complementary, with the full meaning obtained by integrating the meanings of comparable statements. Complementary chiastic comparisons may be less apparent than equivalent or contrasting comparisons. (For further information on types of chiasms see our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.)

This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of one particular chiasm that focuses on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Afterward, diagrams of several additional chiasms and parallelisms are presented, but are given a less-detailed treatment.

[Note: For an excellent history of the construction and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, read the April 1893 issue of The Contributor (a Church magazine from that time) that has been referenced in this introduction.]


Diagram and Analysis:

A: O Lord, we regard with intense and indescribable feelings the completion of this sacred house.
B: Deign to accept this the fourth temple which Thy covenant children have been assisted by Thee in erecting in these mountains.
C: In past ages Thou didst inspire with Thy Holy Spirit Thy servants, the prophets, to speak of the time in the latter days when
D: the mountain of the Lord’s house should be established in the tops of the mountains,
D: and should be exalted above the hills.
C: We thank Thee that we have had the glorious opportunity of contributing to the fulfillment of these visions of Thine ancient seers,
B: and that Thou hast condescended to permit us to take part in the great work.
A: And as this portion of Thy servants’ words has thus so marvelously been brought to pass, we pray Thee, with increased faith and renewed hope, that all their words with regard to Thy great work in gathering Thine Israel and building up Thy kingdom on earth in the last days may be as amply fulfilled, and that, O Lord, speedily.

A=A: “[T]he completion of this sacred house” complements “this portion of Thy servants’ words has thus so marvelously been brought to pass.” The completion of the Salt Lake Temple is the fulfillment of prophecy. Recognizing this increased their faith and renewed their hope that all prophecies — specifically, the gathering of Israel and the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth — would also be fulfilled. Each fulfillment of prophecy, if recognized, should have this same effect.

B=B: “Thy covenant children have been assisted by Thee” is complemented by “Thou hast condescended to permit us to take part.” In their forty years of laboring to construct the Salt Lake Temple, they were “assisted by Thee” who “condescended to permit us to take part.” The Latter-day Saints viewed their sacrifice in time, talent, and means as a privilege rather than a burden.

C=C: “In past ages Thou didst inspire with Thy Holy Spirit Thy servants, thy prophets, to speak of the time in the latter days” is complemented by “fulfillment of these visions of Thine ancient seers.” Multiple ancient prophets had foreseen and foretold the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.

D=D: “[S]hould be established in the tops of the mountains” is equivalent to “should be exalted above the hills.” These are the words of the prophets Micah and Isaiah in the Old Testament. Nephi also quotes these words in the Book of Mormon. (For further discussion of this prophecy, refer to Chapter 2 of Isaiah: The Times of Fulfillment, a Verse-By-Verse Commentary by Ivan D. Sanderson)


Additional Chiasms:

#1: Chiasmus in the opening and closing paragraphs of the dedicatory prayer show these paragraphs to be nearly identical in substance. Both declare the glory of God and humbly seek for Him to “hear these our humble petitions” and to “grant that the blessings which we seek may be bestowed upon us.”

A: Our Father in heaven, Thou has created the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein; Thou most glorious One, perfect in mercy, love, and truth,
B: we, Thy children, come this day before Thee, and in this house which we have built to Thy most holy name, humbly plead the atoning blood of Thine Only Begotten Son, that our sins may be remembered no more against us forever,
C: but that our prayers may ascend unto Thee and have free access to Thy throne, that we may be heard in Thy holy habitation.
C: And may it graciously please Thee to hearken unto our petitions, answer them according to Thine infinite wisdom and love,
B: and grant that the blessings which we seek may be bestowed upon us, even a hundred fold, inasmuch as we seek with purity of heart and fullness of purpose to do Thy will
A: and glorify Thy name.

A: And now, our Father, we bless Thee, we praise Thee, we glorify Thee, we worship Thee, day by day we magnify Thee, and give Thee thanks for Thy great goodness towards us, Thy children,
B: and we pray Thee, in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, to hear these our humble petitions,
B: and answer us from heaven, Thy holy dwelling place,
A: where Thou sittest enthroned in glory, might, majesty, and dominion, and with an infinitude of power which we, Thy mortal creatures, cannot imagine, much less comprehend. Amen and Amen.


#2: This chiasm describes the purpose for dedicating the temple — “that Thy glory may rest upon it: that Thy holy presence may be continually in it.” Three categories of visitors to the temple are then listed: First, “Thy Well-Beloved Son, our Savior,” who would make his “abode” in the temple; second, “the angels who stand before Thy face,” who would act as “hallowed messengers … bearing to us Thy wishes and Thy will;” and third, “all people who may enter upon the threshold of this, Thine house.” As a “sanctified and consecrated” building, the power of God would be felt here.

A: that Thy glory may rest upon it; that Thy holy presence may be continually in it;
B: that it may be the abode of Thy Well-Beloved Son, our Savior; that the angels who stand before Thy face may be the hallowed messengers who shall visit it, bearing to us Thy wishes and Thy will,
C: that it may be sanctified and consecrated in all its parts holy unto Thee, the God of Israel,
C: the Almighty Ruler of Mankind.
B: And we pray Thee that all people who may enter upon the threshold of this, Thine house,
A: may feel Thy power and be constrained to acknowledge that Thou hast sanctified it, that it is Thy house, a place of Thy holiness.


#3: The following two chiasms emphasize the primary importance of preserving the records of temple ordinances. Hence, only “perfect” accuracy in performing and recording the ordinances is “acceptable unto Thee.”

A: We pray Thee, Heavenly Father, to accept this building in all its parts from foundation to capstone, with the statue that is on the latter placed, and all the finals and other ornaments that adorn its exterior.
B: We pray Thee to bless, that they decay not, all the walls, partitions, floors, ceilings, roofs and bridging, the elevators, stairways, railings and steps, the frames, doors, windows, and other openings, all things connected with the lighting, heating, and sanitary apparatus, the boilers, engines, and dynamos, the connecting pipes and wires, the lamps and burners,
C: and all utensils, furniture and articles used in or connected with the holy ordinances administered in this house, the veils and the altars, the baptismal font and the oxen on which it rests, and all that pertains thereto, the baths, washstands and basins.
D: Also the safes and vaults in which the records are preserved, with the records themselves, and all books, documents, and papers appertaining to the office of the recorder,
D: likewise the library with all the books, maps, instruments, etc., that may belong thereto.
C: We also present before Thee, for Thine acceptance, all the additions and buildings not forming a part of the main edifice, but being appendages thereto; and we pray Thee to bless all the furniture, seats, cushions, curtains, hangings, locks, and fastenings, and multitudinous other appliances and appurtenances found in and belonging to this Temple and its annexes with all the work or ornamentation thereon, the painting and plastering, the gilding and bronzing, the fine work in wood and metal of every kind, the embroidery and needlework, the pictures and statuary, the carved work and canopies.
B: Also the materials of which the buildings and their contents are made or composed—the rock, lime, mortar and plaster, the timbers and lath, the wood of various trees, the gold and silver, the brass and iron, and all other metals, the silk, wool, and cotton, the skins and furs, the glass, china, and precious stones,
A: all these and all else herein we humbly present for Thine acceptance and sanctifying blessing.

A: Bless, we pray Thee, Heavenly Father, all who may be workers in this house. Remember continually Thy servant who shall be appointed to preside within its walls; endow him richly with wisdom of the Holy Ones, with the spirit of his calling, with the power of his Priesthood, and with the gift of discernment.
B: Bless, according to their calling, his assistants and all who are associated with him in the performance of the ordinances—baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, sealings, endowments, and ordinations which are performed herein, that all that is done may be holy and acceptable unto Thee, Thou God of our salvation.
B: Bless the recorders and copyists, that the records of the Temple may be kept perfect, and without omission and errors, and that they may also be accepted of Thee.
A: Bless, in their several positions, the engineers, watchmen, guards, and all others who have duties to perform in connection with the house, that they may perform them unto Thee with an eye single to Thy glory.


#4: This chiasm addresses the altars where the sealing ordinances are performed and the sealing blessings pronounced. In doing so, it emphasizes the dynamics of the covenant relationship between God and his “servants and handmaidens.” As we treat the altars with reverence, the Lord will “sanctify” them, and as we “realize the sacredness of the covenants,” the Lord will “accept” our efforts and grant “all the blessings pronounced.” The Holy Ghost plays a major role in helping us develop this reverential attitude and in helping us sacredly keep our covenants.

A: Our Father in heaven, we present before Thee the altars
B: which we have prepared for Thy servants and handmaidens
C: to receive their sealing blessings.
D: We dedicate them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, unto Thy most holy name, and we ask Thee to sanctify these altars,
E: that those who come unto them may feel the power of the Holy Ghost resting upon them,
F: and realize the sacredness of the covenants they enter into.
F: And we pray that our covenants and contracts which we make with Thee and with each other
E: may be directed by Thy holy Spirit,
D: be sacredly kept by us, and accepted by Thee,
C: and that all the blessings pronounced
B: may be realized by all Thy Saints
A: who come to these altars, in the morning of the resurrection of the just.


#5: In addition to dedicating the temple building, the dedicatory prayer also applies to Temple Square, or “the whole of this block or piece of ground.” This chiasm shows that the “surrounding walls and fences, the walks, paths and ornamental beds” along with the “trees, plants, flowers and shrubbery” contribute greatly to making Temple Square “a place of rest and peace, for holy meditation and inspired thought.”

A: O Lord, we pray Thee to bless and sanctify the whole of this block or piece of ground on which these buildings stand,
B: with the surrounding walls and fences, the walks, paths and ornamental beds,
B: also the trees, plants, flowers and shrubbery that grow in its soil; may they bloom and blossom and become exceedingly beautiful and fragrant;
A: and may Thy Spirit dwell in the midst thereof, that this plot of ground may be a place of rest and peace, for holy meditation and inspired thought.


#6: Extending beyond Temple Square, this parallelism describes how the dedicatory prayer applies to anyone within eyesight of the temple and those who turn their heart toward their temple covenants. Such would find a listening ear and “mercy and tender compassion” from Heavenly Father in all their difficulties.

A: Heavenly Father, when Thy people shall not have the opportunity of entering this holy house to offer their supplications unto Thee, and they are oppressed and in trouble, surrounded by difficulties or assailed by temptation
B: and shall turn their faces towards this Thy holy house and ask Thee for deliverance, for help, for Thy power to be extended in their behalf,
C: we beseech Thee, to look down from Thy holy habitation in mercy and tender compassion upon them, and listen to their cries.
A: Or when the children of Thy people, in years to come, shall be separated, through any cause, from this place,
B: and their hearts shall turn in remembrance of Thy promises to this holy Temple, and they shall cry unto Thee from the depths of their affliction and sorrow to extend relief and deliverance to them,
C: we humbly entreat Thee to Turn Thine ear in mercy to them; hearken to their cries, and grant unto them the blessings for which they ask.


#7: The “perfect hurricane” raging around the temple at the moment the dedicatory prayer was given provides a vivid demonstration of the preserving power of God described in this chiasm.

A: Preserve these buildings, we beseech Thee,
B: from injury or destruction by flood or fire; from the rage of the elements,
C: the shafts of the vivid lightning,
C: the overwhelming blasts of the hurricane,
B: the flames of consuming fire, and the upheavals of the earth-quake,
A: O Lord, protect them.

sltemple_dedication_ticket_familysearch-dot-org
(familysearch.org)

#8: The sealing power by which the ordinances of the temple are made valid was restored to the earth by Elijah the prophet on April 3, 1836 in the Kirtland Ohio Temple (see D&C 110:13-15). This chiasm explains the function and ultimate purpose of the sealing power.

A: O Thou God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose God Thou delightest to be called, we thank Thee with all the fervor of overflowing gratitude that Thou hast revealed the powers by which the hearts of the children are being turned to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children, that the sons of men, in all their generations can be made partakers of the glories and joys of the kingdom of heaven.
B: Confirm upon us the spirit of Elijah, we pray Thee, that we may thus redeem our dead and also connect ourselves with our fathers who have passed behind the veil, and furthermore seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection, that we who dwell on the earth may be bound to those who dwell in heaven.
B: We thank Thee for their sake who have finished their work in mortality, as well as for our own, that the prison doors have been opened, that deliverance has been proclaimed to the captive, and the bonds have been loosened from those who were bound.
A: We praise Thee that our fathers, from last to first, from now, back to the beginning, can be united with us in indissoluble links, welded by the Holy Priesthood, and that as one great family united in Thee and cemented by Thy power we shall together stand before Thee, and by the power of the atoning blood of Thy Son be delivered from all evil, be saved and sanctified, exalted and glorified.


#9: This chiasm addresses the massive work of searching out the records of the dead, much of which is accomplished by those “who have not yet entered into covenant with Thee.” These would be blessed with an increased “desire in their bosoms” to “search out their progenitors” and would have opened before them “new avenues of information.” In this way, they would “aid in the accomplishment of Thy work.” Endowed with greater power, the Latter-day Saints would be permitted to receive visits from “holy messengers” who would “make known unto us with regard to the work we should perform on behalf of our dead.”

A: Wilt Thou also permit holy messengers to visit us within these sacred walls and make known unto us with regard to the work we should perform in behalf of our dead.
B: And, as Thou has inclined the hearts of many who have not yet entered into covenant with Thee to search out their progenitors, and in so doing they have traced the ancestry of many of Thy Saints,
B: we pray Thee that Thou wilt increase this desire in their bosoms, that they may in this way aid in the accomplishment of Thy work.
A: Bless them, we pray Thee, in their labors, that they may not fall into errors in preparing their genealogies; and furthermore, we ask Thee to open before them new avenues of information, and place in their hands the records of the past, that their work may not only be correct but complete also.


#10: This chiasm describes the Constitution’s role in protecting religious freedom and celebrates the “softening [of] hearts” that allowed the Latter-day Saints to be treated “as fellow citizens, and not as enemies.” Additionally, it describes the responsibility the Latter-day Saints have to “do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.”

A: We thank Thee, O God of Israel, that Thou didst raise up patriotic men to lay the foundation of this great American government.
B: Thou didst inspire them to frame a good constitution and laws which guarantee to all of the inhabitants of the land equal rights and privileges to worship Thee according to the dictates of their own consciences.
C: Bless the officers, both judicial and executive. Confer abundant favors upon the President, his Cabinet, and Congress. Enlightened and guided by Thy Spirit may they maintain and uphold the glorious principles of human liberty.
D: Our hearts are filled with gratitude to Thee, our Father in heaven, for Thy kindness unto us in softening the hearts of our fellow citizens, the people of this nation, toward us.
E: That which Thou hast done has been marvelous in our eyes.
E: We thank Thee that Thou didst move upon the heart of the President of our nation to issue a general amnesty.
D: Thou hast removed prejudice and misunderstanding from the minds of many of the people concerning us and our purposes, and they are disposed to treat us as fellow citizens, and not as enemies.
C: In this holy house we feel to give Thee glory therefore, and we humbly ask Thee to increase this feeling in their hearts. Enable them to see us in our true light. Show unto them that we are their friends, that we love liberty,
B: that we will join with them in upholding the rights of the people, the Constitution and laws of our country;
A: and give unto us and our children an increased disposition to always be loyal, and to do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.


#11: In this chiasm, the softening of hearts toward the Latter-day Saints that occurred in the United States is expanded worldwide. As the nations of the earth come to accept the testimony of the apostles, “oppression [will] cease, the yoke of the tyrant broken, and every despotic form of government overthrown.” This spread of liberty will help usher in the “reign of righteousness and truth.”

A: Remember in mercy, O Lord, the kings, the princes, the nobles the rulers, and governors and the great ones of the earth, and likewise all the poor, the afflicted and the oppressed, and indeed, all people,
B: that their hearts may be softened when Thy servants go forth to bear testimony of Thy name, that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and Thy people find favor in their eyes.
C: So control the affairs of the nations of the earth, that the way be prepared for the ushering in of a reign of righteousness and truth.
C: We desire to see liberty spread throughout the earth,
B: to see oppression cease, the yoke of the tyrant broken, and every despotic form of government overthrown
A: by which Thy children are degraded and crushed, and prevented from enjoying their share of the blessings of the earth, which Thou hast created for their habitation.


#12: As citizens of the United States the Latter-day Saints had “joined the two great national parties” and participated in the election process. In the fulfillment of their public duties the Latter-day Saints are to “avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.” They are to “cultivate that spirit of affection and love which Thou art desirous that all the children of men should entertain one for another, and which Thy Saints, above all others, should cherish.”

A: O God, the Eternal Father, Thou knowest all things. Thou seest the course Thy people have been led to take in political matters. They have, in many instances, joined the two great national parties. Campaigns have been entered upon, elections have been held, and much party feeling has been engendered.
B: Many things have been said and done which have wounded the feelings of the humble and the meek, and which have been a cause of offense.
C: We beseech Thee, in Thine infinite mercy and goodness, to forgive Thy people wherein they have sinned in this direction.
C: Show them, O Father, their faults and their errors, that they may see the same in the light of Thy Holy Spirit, and repent truly and sincerely,
B: and cultivate that spirit of affection and love which Thou art desirous that all the children of men should entertain one for another, and which Thy Saints, above all others, should cherish.
A: Enable Thy people hereafter to avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.


Conclusion:

A study of chiasmus in the Salt Lake Temple dedicatory prayer draws our attention to different aspects and purposes of the temple. For example, temples are houses of God and places of revelation, where the glory of God can be felt and visitations from the Savior and the angels of God can occur; temples are sanctified by God in response to the reverence shown to them by Church members; accuracy in performing and recording sacred ordinance work is of primary importance; God blesses the efforts of non-Mormons who conduct family history research, since their findings support ordinance work for the dead that occurs inside temples; and the protecting power of God extended in the dedicatory prayer not only applies to the temple and its grounds, but to those who keep their temple covenants, wherever they may be. This fuller understanding of temples will strengthen our faith and deepen our worship.