Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mormon Historical Movie: The Heavens are Open

This is a Church produced movie in 1988.  It depicts the coming forth of the Doctrine and Covenants.  It explains where many of the revelations originate including:
The preface given by the Lord through revelation; the restoration of the Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery; many revelations given in Kirtland, the appearance of the Lord to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon; the vision in the Kirtland Temple given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery; revelation given to Joseph Smith at Liberty Jail; revelations given at Nauvoo; and finally the chapter written by John Taylor detailing the life and martrydom of Joseph Smith.  The Doctrine and Covenants is an important work for our day, containing revelations for our day.

Movie Review: ****^Legacy

This move tells the Mormon story.  It is based on historical happenings, but is told through the eyes of a fictional family, the Williams.  This is the story of Eliza Williams, who is presented as a contemporary of Joseph Smith.  She embraces the gospel as a young girl of 13.  Following her life and that of her family, it presents many church historical happenings.  It sets as its theme, finding Zion.  It shows the family leaving New York, to Kirtland and on to Missouri.   Eliza is present at the Missouri persecutions, Independence and Haun's Mill.  Her brother is killed at Haun's Mill.  She gets to Far West in time to see the militia arresting the church leaders, and the Mormons being expelled from Missouri.  The back track to Illinois, and many of the Mormons contract malaria from the swamps in the area.  She receives a blessing from Joseph Smith's hand in Commerce (later to become Nauvoo.)  She participates in the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.  Her boyfriend, husband is a stone cutter recently arrived from England.  He works on the temple.  They overcome the shock when Joseph Smith is murdered.  There family is part of the trek across Iowa to Winter Quarters.  This movie gets me every time when Eliza's father falls in the mud crossing Iowa.  The Tabernacle Choir is singing "Come Come Ye Saints" and that part makes me cry every time.  The muddy walk across Iowa was a trial for the Saints, followed by the miserable conditions at Winter's Quarters.  Her husband, David Walker, joins the Nauvoo Legion as part of the Mexican War.  Eliza is left to get the family across the plains.  She takes the part of Mary Fielding Smith in blessing her ox.  Her husband returns to her on the plains.
There is a rich historical heritage which is based on sacrifice and blessing.  This movie portrays this well.  I wish however they had used historical characters rather than fictional to tell the story.  This movie was first presented at the Joseph Smith Building in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Documentary Review: ***^The Flight that Fought Back: United Flight 93

This is a very good documentary which deals with flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania on 9/11.  This documentary was made for Discovery Channel and was narrated by Keifer Sutherland.  My only complaint, is being made for television, in sometimes repeated itself, like before commercial and after.  However other than that it was very good. 
It used interviews with surviving family members, and historical reenactment to tell its story.  They had also review airline tape, which is generally confidential.  Family members had been allowed to listen to some which was not accessible to the public.  They concluded that the passengers had breached the cockpit which resulted in the ship crashing into the field. The people on this flight, were in every sense of the world heroes.  They knew there was not much chance of survival, but even so the attacked their terrorist hijackers, and caused enough confusion that the terrorist were not able to achieve their objective. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Texas Western Miner Basketball Championship 1965-1966

In the season of 1965-1966, Texas Western won the NCAA championship.  Don Haskins was having difficulty recruiting talented players, so recruited seven African American players, and thus set himself up for a run at the national championship.  The were undefeated, except for the last game of the regular season.  At that time Texas Western was independent, and had to be invited to the NCAA.  They beat Kansas in the regional championship in double overtime.  Th overcame Utah in the semifinal, setting up the championship game against Kentucky, an all white team.  When Haskins started five black players in the championship game, it was the first time an all black starting line up played in a championship game.  In fact he played all black players in the final, and the proved victorious.  This story is about overcoming odds.  The odds against Texas Western included their lack of experience in pressure games, lack of experience in playing disciplined ball, but also overcoming race issues.  In the championship game they were the more disciplined and the more talented team.  I watched the movie Glory Road, but it is the after movie interviews which were significant.  There are shots of talking to Pat Riley (player for Kentucky), Don Haskins, and many of the players for Texas Western.  This is an important story in our history.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Death Valley's Scotty's Castle: The Story Behind the Scenery

This book is written by Stanley Paher.  It gives the historical story of Scotty's Castle, and pictures of the current decor, which is the same as it has been for many years. 
The castle is named for Walter E. Scott.  It was always rumored he had a rich gold mine, and paid for the castle with proceeds from the mine.  However the most startling thing about this book is that Scotty was a benefactor rather than financier of the castle.  The castle was actually owned and built by his friend, Albert Johnson.  Albert Johnson received a large inheritance from his father.  He also ran an insurance company.  He paid Scotty an allowance, and also visited the area frequently before the castle was built.  Death Valley proved good for his health. 
Construction began in 1927.  About 90 local Shoshone worked on the construction, and were the bulk of the crew.  They were paid $2.50 a day.  Skilled labor, usually white was paid $5 a day.  Skilled craftsmen were paid $11 a day.  Segregation was enforced after hours, with most of the crew living in tents. 
Another obstacle was getting materials to the site.  The train originally came close, but closed down during the project creating more difficulty. 
The project was never finished.  Depression era change in finances was the major reason.  The pool was never completed.  The chime tower was completed, but the chimes never installed.  The elaborate Welte-Mignon theater organ was completed at a cost of $50,000 for shipping and installation.  The 118 pipes are installed behind a wall. 
The properties were purchased by the National Park Service in 1970 for $850,000.

Mormon Historical Movie: The Three WItnesses

This movie appears to not have been produced by the Church, but is part of a Church History Series produced by the Church, so is obviously endorsed by the Church.  The screenplay is written by Carol Lynn Pearson.  This movie starts in 1881 in Richmond, Missouri.  David Whitmer, the last surviving of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon is confronted by his postman for refuting his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  David Whitmer gathers affidavit signatures of 22 men in the community, with which he publishes in the paper an article verifying himself as a witness to the gold plates, and that an angel showed him the plates.  He also recounts the histories of the other two witnesses.  All left the church for a season, but never denies their testimonies.  Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris rejoined the church.  All maintained themselves as witnesses to their dying breaths.
This is their testimony as published in the Book of Mormon.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris
Alexander Doniphan, a lawyer and affidavit signer, declared this case for the truth of the Book of Mormon was very sound. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What The Fremont Ate 1000 Years Ago

The Fremont people inhabited parts of Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada from about 400 AD to 1360 AD.  That someone could conduct studies now, and gain an idea of what they at so long ago is amazing.  Traveling some among the ancient ruins, you often see granaries where corn was stored.  However corn was not as prevalent as you might think, although it was a stable go to food when other resources were not available. 
Pinon nuts, venison, pumpkin seeds, cattail, grouse, juniper berries and onion among other items were part of the diet.  Timothy Riley, anthropologist at Utah State University, Price Campus determined this by studying fossilized human waste called coprolites.  Coprolites are relatively rare.  He said "Coprolites actually do give you direct evidence that people were not just gathering these plants (cattails etc.) and using them for baskets and tools, they were also eating them.
I find it amazaing that we can learn things about people who lived long ago.
I read about this in the Utah State University Magazine, an article written by John DeVilbiss.

Mormon Video: The Work and Designs of God

This movie starts in Smithfield, as a young man, and recent immigrant to Utah, is hired to help work on a farm.  His name is William Pilkington.  (I knew some Pilkingtons from Cache Valley.)  He finds more than he had expected at the home where he is to stay the summer.  It is the home of Martin Harris.  Martin Harris tells of his dealings with the Book of Mormon, as witness to the book,  The title of the movie refers to the revelation Joseph received.  D&C 3: 1 "The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught."  Joseph received revelation that the pages had been stolen, and then changed by evil men, so as to prove the work false.  To thwart this effort, instead of retranslating the same place, the Small Plates of Nephi were used to tell this part of the story.  Martin was not allowed to assist in the translating after this, but Oliver Cowdery served as scribe.
Martin Harris concludes his story with his testimony of the veracity of the Book of Mormon.  "As sure as the sun is shining, I know that the book of Mormon is true."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mormon Movie: The Restoration

This is another depiction of the first vision, however in this version, the build up to the vision takes a full year.  This movie does a good job of adding some depth to the experience.  It compares the restoration to a small seed, and then a seedling, and then grows into a large maple. 
This movie again depicts the conditions around Palmyra which lead up to the first vision.  It shows a young man, Joseph, who is concerned for his own spiritual welfare.  He ponders and asks questions and studies.  He goes to his father with questions, and to his mother.  They both advise him to seek and it shall be given him.  Then when he reads in James chapter 1, "if any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."  Because of his searching, and pondering, when he read this scripture, it entered Joseph's heart with great force, and he determined to put it into action. 
As in "The First Vision" it shows Joseph's walk to the grove, playing "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning." 
While "The First Vision" ended with the vision, this movie continues on to give some background to the restoration of the priesthood, and establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mormon Movie Review: *****A Search for Truth

This movie is very inspirational. It is the story of the conversion of Wilford Woodruff to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A family friend, Robert Mason, starts him on a search for the true church of God.  Mr Mason shared a vision he had had with Wilford.  The vision is very interesting.  He sees the restoration, but does not partake.
Wilford identified four things he should find in the true church, organization, correct doctrine, ordinances and authority.  He and his brother look for these things, and are close to giving up hope.  He finds these things.  He writes Father Mason to let him know.  However Father Mason passes away before the Elders each him.  The vicarious work was done for him.  I highly recommend this movie.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mormon Movie: Overview of Church History

If you can put up with the M.C., and attempts to be funny or entertaining, there is some good information here.  This documentary divides Church History in six periods: Beginnings, Two Church Centers, Nauvoo,The Church in the West, Expansion, and the Worldwide Church.

The Beginnings Period includes the first vision, restoration of the priesthood, publication of the book of Mormon and organization of the church. (270 members)
Two Church Centers includes the first construction of a temple in Kirtland, persecution in Missouri, Zions Camp, call of apostles and restoration of keys. (18,000 members)
Nauvoo period includes organization of the relief society, martrydom of Joseph Smith in Carthage, revelations with regards to baptism for the dead and temple marriage.  This period included completion of the Nauvoo Temple. (34,000 members)
In the West the church found refuge.  They colonized much of the Rocky Mountain area from Canada to Mexico.  Revelation on the work for the dead was received, as well as proclamation ending polygamy. Four temples completed.  (270,000 members)
Expansion period includes the building or more temples.  Welfare program was organized.  Two World Wars occurred in this period.  Revelation on redemption of the dead.  Apostles traveled around the globe.  (1.1 million members)
The Worldwide Church includes our day.  When made, church membership had passed 10 million.  Today it is 14.7 million.  This period includes taking the gospel to all the world.   There are now 75,000 missionaries.  There are 141 operating temples.  It is an exciting time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The First Vision: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Video Presentations
movie on You Tube
I am going through a VCR published by the church to be used with the Doctrine and Covenants course for gospel doctrine in Sunday school.  It is dated It was produced in 1996.  The first is entitled the First Vision.  In includes excerpts from the movie by the same title, and then has President Hinckley's testimony of the truthfulness of the Joseph Smith story. 
The first vision is an historical reenactment.  It shows the conditions around Palmyra in 1820.  There was a great agitation about religion.  Joseph Smith, a boy of 14, was confused about what to do--which of the churches should he join.  In this confusion he was reading the Bible, and read in James chapter 1 verse 5: If any of ye lack wisdom let him ask of God which giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  In Joseph Smith's words no scripture had ever entered the heart of a man with such force.  He pondered on this question, and then determined that he must but this test to the test, he must ask God what he should do.
As he had determined he went to a grove close to his home in the morning of a clear Spring day. As he prayed, Joseph said, in his own words, I saw a pillar of light above me in the air, which descended out of heaven until it rested just above me.  There were two personages in the light.  One of them pointed to the other and said, this is my beloved son, hear him.  When Joseph recovered himself, he asked which church should he join.  He was told to join none of them.  Joseph ends with the statement from his history.  I had seen a light.  I knew and God knew it and I could not deny it.  I believe this is a true history of events.  Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Biography of Glen Cunningham

Glen Cunningham was a runner.  However at one part in his life, it was doubtful he would walk:
"Cunningham's legs were very badly burned in an explosion caused when someone put gasoline instead of kerosene in the can at his schoolhouse by accident when he was eight and his brother Floyd was thirteen. Floyd died in the fire. When the doctors recommended amputating Glenn's legs, he was so distressed his parents would not allow it. The doctors predicted he might never walk normally again. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins and all the toes on his left foot. Also, his transverse arch was practically destroyed. However, his great determination, coupled with hours upon hours of a new type of therapy, enabled him to gradually regain the ability to walk and to proceed to run. It was in the early summer of 1919 when he first tried to walk again, roughly two years after the accident" (Wikipedia)
However Cunningham was not content with just being able to walk.  He continued to develop the strength in his legs by running.  He had a favorite scripture: Isaiah 40:31: "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Cunningham became so good at running, he was able to attend college as a runner, University of Kansas. 
He participated in the Olympics of 1932 and 1936 taking fourth and '32 and silver in '36.  His specialty was the mile, and he held the world record at one time.  "Cunningham's goal-unachieved was a four-minute mile. Many people tried that before and failed. Several theorists proclaimed it was impossible physiologically for humans. Runners tried running steady and fast-paced the whole time. Others tried to go steady for the first half then give it all they had. Cunningham tried many different ways. His greatest success was a strategy, developed from childhood, of running his fastest right from the beginning and then throughout every race."
He retired from running in 1940.