A Tale of Two Statues

There are several statues that exist at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, but two stand out as the most well-known and prominent.  The first is the Angel Moroni, standing at the highest spire of the Salt Lake Temple.  Created by Cyrus E. Dallin, the statue of the angel represents the Book of Mormon prophet who finished the record and later delivered it to Joseph Smith.  Regarded as a fulfillment of the apocalyptic prophecy of an “angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth,”[1] replicas or variations of the statue have been placed on most Latter-day Saint temples as a symbol of the Restoration of the gospel.[2]  The second is the Christus statue held in the northwest visitor’s center, overlooking a green area and the historic Tabernacle.  A copy of the original sculpture held at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark, created by Danish sculpture Bertel Thorvaldsen, the Christus statue replica has been located at Temple Square since 1966.  Other replicas have since been used by the Church at the World’s Fair and at visitors’ centers near 16 temples as well as two other locations as a symbol of our commitment to Jesus Christ.  Together, these two powerful statues represent different aspects of our history and belief—the one focusing on the legacy of Joseph Smith, the second on the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.

While the two legacies are not necessarily at odds with each other, balancing these two parts of our narrative can be difficult to do.  In our efforts to stress differences with other Christian groups, it is easy to get caught up in discussing that which is unique about the Church—the Book of Mormon, a belief in a general apostasy, specific doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, living prophets who speak for God, etc.  We also have a wealth of records and interesting (albeit controversial) history to discuss that revolves around the narrative of the Restoration.  While we have generally attempted to avoid setting a symbol for the Church, the Angel Moroni has acted as our de facto symbol.  In addition to its use on temples, it has been used on seminary and institute graduation certificates, the cover image on copies of the Book of Mormon, Church pamphlets, the official emblem for Latter-day Saint veterans on gravestones,[3] and the symbol of the Gospel Library App (among other uses).  In many ways, the use of the Angel Moroni as our symbol represented our distinctive Mormon-ness.

Last week, however, President Russell M. Nelson revealed a new symbol to use in branding for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—one focused on the Christus statue, accompanied with the Church’s name and symbols of a corner stone and the empty tomb.  When used with media presentations, it seems to be accompanied with a brief motif from “Come, Come, Ye Saints” as an audible icon of the Church.  The change in symbol sparked a number of jokes about the Salt Lake City Temple’s statue of the Angel Moroni losing its job because it dropped its trumpet in a recent earthquake, but it represents an important shift in branding and iconography for the Church.  Following on the heels of a major push to call the Church as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by its proper name rather than using Mormon or LDS to signify the Church, the change in symbol represents an ongoing effort to put the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth front and center in our mentality as a culture and our image in the public square.

Regardless of the change, there is still a tightrope to be walked between the two legacies and narratives, which was reflected in the new bicentennial proclamation about the Restoration.  The document celebrated the legacy of Joseph Smith but did so in ways that place that legacy within the context of the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.  It begins by affirming God’s love, as demonstrated by the life and sacrifice of His son, Jesus the Christ.  It then shifts to describing the First Vision and other steps in the process of restoring the Church through the visitation of angels to Joseph Smith “under the direction of the Father and the Son.”  The Book of Mormon sits at the center of the proclamation, with the focus being on the “account of the personal ministry of Jesus Christ among people in the Western Hemisphere soon after His Resurrection,” and the doctrine of Christ.  The document then bridges the temporal gap between the two legacies of Joseph Smith and Jesus of Nazareth by proclaiming that the Church “is Christ’s New Testament Church restored” and that it is “anchored in the perfect life of its chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ.”  In reviewing two hundred years since the First Vision, the document emphasized that the Restoration “was initiated by God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ” and that the purpose of the Restoration is “to prepare the world for the promised Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”[4]  While not advancing anything new, the new proclamation is significant in its efforts to walks the tightrope of representing our unique history as a religious community while thoroughly rooting that history in the ministry of the Christ Jesus.

That same tightrope walk was shown by the focus of talks given at the bicentennial general conference.  Most talks focused on some aspect of Joseph Smith’s life and ministry—the First Vision, the translation of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of priesthood authority and keys, etc.  Amid the multitude of talks celebrating the legacy of Joseph Smith, however, there were also talks that focused on the doctrine of Christ or personal revelation to connect us to God, among other topics.  The hosanna shout was discussed both in terms of celebrating the Restoration and in terms of celebrating Palm Sunday.  While there were efforts to root the celebration of Joseph Smith’s legacy in the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ, the overall impression of the conference topics was (at least for me) more a celebration of Joseph Smith’s legacy in our Church.

I suspect that we will continue to struggle to find ways to adequately strike a good balance between the two legacies represented by the Angel Moroni statue and the Christus statue.  I appreciate the structure and focus of the new proclamation in its efforts to root the Restoration in Jesus’s legacy and the use of a symbol for the Church that is more Christ-centric than has generally been used in the past.  There is a part of me that still cherishes my Mormonism and the use of Angel Moroni as the symbolic herald of the Restoration, but as a Christian, I find the trajectory of focusing more fully on Jesus the Christ as the foundation and head of the Church to be satisfying.

 

Now that we’ve had a couple days to digest and ponder on General Conference, I am interested to hear what everyone thought about the event.  Some specific questions I have are:

  • What were your impressions about the general conference as a whole? What did you find to be particularly memorable?
  • What are your thoughts about the new proclamation? Do you think it will hold a similar status to The Family: A Proclamation to the World in the future?  Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about the new symbol for the Church?

 

Footnotes:

[1] Revelation 14:6, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

[2] The only exact replicas of the Dallin sculpture were created for use with the Washing D.C. Ward chapel (now held in the Church History Museum), the Atlanta, Georgia Temple, and the Idaho Falls, Idaho Temple.  Other temple statues were sculpted by Millard F. Malin, Avard Fairbanks, and (most frequently) by Karl A. Quilter.  There are some variations in physique (Roman vs. Mayan appearance, carrying a book or not, tightness of left hand, level of muscularity, etc.), but the symbolism remains the same.

[3]  Used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

[4] “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Bicentennial Proclamation to the World,” April 2020. https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/multimedia/file/restoration-proclamation-2020-april.pdf.

28 comments for “A Tale of Two Statues

  1. Wondering
    April 7, 2020 at 9:06 am

    As a whole — disappointing, but more because of the anticipation that had been encouraged than because of conference itself. It was not greatly unlike others in its variety of messages.

    Particularly memorable — the closing hymn Sunday afternoon with the inclusion of world wide choirs. But I found myself still wishing for a new setting of the Hosanna Anthem. The traditionally used one is among Evan Stephens’ less successful compositions and generally unsingable in an appropriate fashion by choirs at temple dedications around the world.

    New symbol — great! Would have loved to see it decades earlier. It has seemed to me that historically (at least through the early 60s and my mid-60s mission) the Church spent so much effort pointing to differences between it and other Christian churches that it not only gave the impression that we worshiped Joseph Smith but skewed its own doctrine too much in the direction of works as a contrast to faith rather than an outgrowth or result of faith in Christ. This new logo is part of an effort that has been going on for some decades to change that.

    What speaks to me — I will have to read the conference report to grasp some of the talks more fully, but I was moved by Elder Holland’s. Your question and the generally negative or unappreciative reactions I’ve seen in the bloggernacle and heard from friends remind me of Elder Holland’s April 2011 conference talk: “In the wide variety of sermons given is the assumption that there will be something for everyone. … If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.” I wonder what I will find when I study the talks more closely.

    Thanks for the structural analysis of the proclamation.

  2. Chad Nielsen
    April 7, 2020 at 9:31 am

    I would agree that it was a little over-hyped beforehand compared with what we got, Wondering, but I also do agree that there were will likely be a few talks that speak to each person. Elder Andersen’s hit home for me in a way I wasn’t expecting, and I really want to look through the talks by Elder Soares, Elder Gong, and Elder Rasband again, as they were ones I remember being particularly interested in.

    You, know, I’ve never thought about a new setting of the Hosanna Anthem, but that does make sense. I’m not a huge fan of Evan Steven’s music in general, to be honest, and found myself thinking how much it felt like something a bit derivative of Arthur Sullivan or other British theater music composers of that time while we were singing it. But there’s also a side of me that loves the tradition and connection to the Salt Lake City Temple dedication with the setting we have. As a side note, I’ve also always wanted to see Charles Parry’s “I Was Glad” be performed at a temple dedication, even though I know it’s unlikely for that to be performed in appropriate fashion by choirs at temple dedications around the world either.

  3. April 7, 2020 at 9:59 am

    I’m glad that General Conference was still held. I found the visual of the speakers sitting 6 feet apart to be striking.
    What I found memorable was the world wide choir (even if previously recorded) and Elder Christofferson’s talk.
    What I’m likely to find memorable is what happened on the other side of the screen. For the first time in nine years my wife watched more than one session, live. She usually sleeps through all of them. This year she watched all sessions with me.
    I’m feeling underwhelmed by the new proclamation. I guess I feel that proclamations should be used to announce something new or clarifying. I don’t think that this proclamation does that. It’s a nice document, and might end up as a spiritual successor to the Articles of Faith. When Pres. Nelson said that the proclamation on the family was the fifth proclamation, it made me wonder what the other four are.
    I think that the new symbol is a miss. While it is beautiful, it’s too complicated. I was expecting to see in addition to the complicated version, a flat 2D version as well. A symbol should be something that can be used in a Coexist-esque bumper sticker. I think Angel Moroni symbols does that. People associate that with our church, and the most striking part of the visual isn’t uniquely LDS, it’s a book of Revelations reference! It’s the perfect balance between what people recognize about us, Christianity, and something that’s distinct to the church. Doubling down on a statue that belongs to a different church is not the best idea.
    I do not like the idea of having youth speakers. Not that the talks were bad (they were fine), but because of the status that then grants those youth. Does it give them hero status, which then goes to their heads? Does it generate jealousy amongst their peers? Are there now swaths of LDS youth who feel that since they weren’t chosen to speak they are unworthy? I’d rather have a non-member with an expertise in a subject we’d like to hear about speak; like Bart D. Ehrman.
    The Hosanna shout didn’t feel special either. Although my dad did point out to me that given the unique circumstances, it will be unique in that it was happening in everyone’s home, and this is likely the only time that’s going to happen. So maybe it will have some affect that I’m not foreseeing. I hope so.
    I was kind of hoping that Christ would come back during this General Conference. That would have made the Hosanna should memorable. O’well.

  4. Wondering
    April 7, 2020 at 10:23 am

    jader3rd, I think it remains to be seen to what extent Moroni and trumpet disappear as a symbol. BTW, I found it interesting, it was not originally a symbol initiated by Church leaders and while the trumpet came from Revelation, the idea was a non-Mormon’s concept of a symbol of the restoration:

    “Non-LDS sculptor Cyrus Dallin was asked to create an ornament for the central spire of the Salt Lake Temple. While he was searching LDS scriptures for inspiration, the concept of the figure of the angel Moroni was born. To Dallin, Moroni symbolized the restoration of the gospel, and since his placement atop the Salt Lake Temple, the golden figure of an angel in flowing robes with a long horn pressed to his lips has become one of the Church’s most recognized symbols.”

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2009/11/looking-up-to-moroni?lang=eng

    Maybe it’s time to emphasize what the restoration was about. I hope we continue to see both symbols.

    The history of the Church’s adoption of Thorvaldsen’s Christus as a symbol is interesting — started with plans in the 50s, showed up at the 1964 NY World’s Fair and placed in the new Temple Square visitors’ center in 1966..

    President Spencer W. Kimball, after viewing the Christus and Thorvaldsen’s Twelve Apostles in the Church of Our Lady, stated that “the man who created these statues was surely inspired of the Lord.”

  5. April 7, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Chad, another thing I thought the conference did well was to strike a balance between continuity and particularity for the occasion. I’d guess that a lot of planning was tossed out the window a month ago. With a global pandemic in progress that’s requiring its own particular treatment and more people needing the reassurance of continuity, there’s not as much room for changes or big announcements. There’s no easy way to implement any major restructuring at the moment in any case.

    That’s a nice analysis of the proclamation. Without having reviewed the text, two things stuck out to me. It uses the language of “we affirm” that has appeared in other faiths’ religious statements, but without any corresponding “we deny” sections; that doesn’t seem to be our style. And the confident tone and specific mention of the literal resurrection and western hemisphere suggest that church leaders are not interested in heading in the direction of muted truth claims, lowered aspirations, or inspired fiction.

  6. Wilfried
    April 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for the post, Chad. I’ll limit my comment to one thing that struck me in the new proclamation, an item that is in line with your observations about the two symbols: the name of Moroni is not in the Proclamation. John the Baptist, Peter, James and John are mentioned, and “others came as well, including Elijah”. But not a hint at Moroni, while he takes such a prominent place in Joseph Smith’s own history and in the Restoration as such.

  7. Chad Nielsen
    April 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    jader3rd, if you’re interested in the previous proclamations, the Church newsroom release has links to the texts of them at the bottom of the article about the new one (https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/restoration-proclamation), and there is a BYU article on the subject that has the ones prior to the 1995 one at https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Proclamations_of_the_First_Presidency_and_the_Quorum_of_the_Twelve_Apostles.

    I suspect that both symbols will be used by members for the time being, though the Church itself will focus on the Christus symbol for now. I doubt that they will change the statues on the temple spires, though, so Moroni will still be around in that form for the foreseeable future.

    I liked that they did do something different with having the youth speakers, though I agree that I would love to hear experts speak on specific topics at general conference in addition to Church leaders. I don’t know that Bart Ehrman would be a great fit for general conference, given that he is agnostic in his beliefs (even if he’s a really interesting author and speaker), but certainly someone like N.T. Wright would be great to hear from. Latter-day Saint experts on various religious studies topics like Thomas Wayment, Terryl Givens, or Richard Bushman would also be interesting to hear from at general conference.

    Having Christ come would have made the hosanna shout very memorable, but I could only imagine the immediate accusations of faking the appearance if it was only on screen with a few witnesses in the actual room.

  8. Chad Nielsen
    April 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    That’s an interesting point that I didn’t even notice, Wilfried. The translation of the Book of Mormon is focused on being through “the gift and power of God” rather than the appearance of the angel. Thank you for pointing that out.

  9. Chad Nielsen
    April 7, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Jonathan, I would have been very interested to see how conference would have been different without the virus shutting down so many things. I know, for one thing, that they had planned to have a multi-cultural choir perform at the Saturday evening session and I had wondered if they were planning for that session to be more like the “Be One” celebration they put on in 2018 to celebrate 40 years since Official Declaration 2 was released. Who knows, though, what might have been instead of what was. It was still a good conference with some special and memorable moments in any case, even if it wasn’t quite as spectacular or special as I felt they were making it sound like it would be.

    Thanks for pointing out the lack of “we deny” in the proclamation. I hadn’t thought about it, but I appreciate that aspect of it now that you have mentioned it.

  10. Mortimer
    April 7, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    The new symbol-
    Theological arguments aside this is a swing and a miss. I don’t mean to criticize this graphic artists work, but it breaks several accepted rules for designing symbols. Any graphic artists out there who can weigh in?

    1) It’s far too busy! The eye has to sort through all the detail in the figure, the arch, the box and the lettering.

    2) Our name is long enough as it is- did it really and truly need to be put in the symbol or (strange idea here- bear with me) could we have created a (gasp!) “symbol”?

    3) Something is off about the composition. The leading lines abruptly end and don’t re-direct the eye to a focal point.

    4) It can’t be used on military gravestones (too detailed- they use a simple cross, Star of David, crescent moon, Moroni silhouette etc.) this isn’t going to fly.

    4) The arch and cornerstone are meaningful, but I’m scratching my head to see how Christ can be the cornerstone, then stand on himself. It feels like we went overboard with cliches, and ended up with a muddled analogy.

    5) Something is off on the balance of the lines. The arch, cornerstone and font aren’t in proportion to the smaller weight of the fine lines in the figure. IMHO the whole thing should be more delicate (thinner lines) and either consistently light or intentionally complimentary- heavy and light. Right now it looks sloppy- as though the line thickness was not carefully considered and it’s uncomfortably “off” in various places.

    6) It reminds me a lot of the old RLDS symbol of the line drawing of the child, a lamb and a lion. Same style. (A two-toned heavily detailed line drawing). Intentional? I doubt it. Subconscious? Maybe?

    7) So, do we no longer spell “Latter-day” with a lower-case “d” or did they just go with ALL CAPS because they were yelling?

    Possible Solutions:

    1) The simple outline or silhouette of the Christus statue would have worked- just like the simple silhouette of Moroni works. Nothing else. His outline with outstretched hands. I suspect it couldn’t be used- it had probably already been trademarked by someone selling something. (We have a couple billion dollars lying around- buying a trademark shouldn’t have been hard).

    2) A clever, simple, and bold black/white depiction of the first vision was created by Daniel LeFevre called “pillar of light”. This would be an amazing symbol. Google it!!!!

  11. Wondering
    April 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Mortimer, Some of your your criticisms of the execution of the idea seem correct to me, though I doubt it was one graphic artist’s work. It looks more like a committee effort with someone or more not graphic artists imposing their taste and requirements. I’ve seen committee led disasters in Church remodeling/redecorating efforts. At least some of them get corrected a decade or so later. It wouldn’t surprise me to see varied simplifications of the new logo much sooner.

  12. Mortimer
    April 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Wondering,
    I bet you are right- this symbol has all the indications of committee compromise.

  13. ReTx
    April 7, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    As a whole: It felt disconnected from what most of us on the planet are dealing with at this moment. It was also a disappointment in terms of being something extraordinary (from all the hype) but with covid going on this is understandable to me. Which is a weird dichotomy.

    Since the new proclamation doesn’t contain new doctrine or anything that can’t be found other places (or anything controversial for members to use as cannon fodder against each other), I imagine it will fade to the background similar to the proclamation about Christ.

    The new symbol is pretty but the colors and style make me think of the white house symbol hanging in the press room. I understand that POC would have preferred a symbol less Eurocentric, and I get that.

  14. Qdes
    April 7, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Logo thoughts as they came to me:

    Looks beautiful. My kids also like it. Wonder if it will be on pendants and such? Missionary nametags? Statue sales will certainly go up.

    Would be cool to have this on a name plate outside every church building I think.

    Huh… there goes the not worship any graven images on heaven or earth I guess? — retort to self, well it’s not as if people actually bow down and pray to this statue. retort to retort – oh ya, whenever I’m at a visitors center there’s almost always someone with their head down and praying at the statue. Conclusion on that point, we don’t really practice that commandment anyway, and haven’t for a long time but apply it symbolically as needed. No worries, but maybe some prophet in the future will call it a “great victory for satan”.

    Return to logo thoughts…those half tone effects in the statue are for detail, but I’d usually stay away from those in any kind of logo. They are noisy.

    Looking at the symbol some more. The lines behind the Christus look nice for a poster or something, but as a logo/symbol it’s again a little noisy. It’s either like rays of light shining in different directions (somewhat confusing even though it looks nice) or reminds me of a stain glass cathedral. Kind of odd to see us reposition our faith as being similar not to biblical Christianity (show me the ornate logos, statues, stain glass and and symbols they had) but rather closer to artistic Catholicism.

    It’s also interesting how we deemphasize Latter-day Saints in terms of relative font size over “THE CHURCH OF”. Jesus Christ being the largest element I understand. I think the visual idea here is to convey that this is Christ’s church, and the latter-day saints is just minimized as much as you can get away with. Could it be said that changing font sizes to add and remove emphasis also is a victory for satan in altering the underlying meaning of Christ? Was Christ giving his name to he church to boast of it, or t demonstrate he is well pleased with his Saints in the latter-days? Maybe he wants our name to be bigger. Or maybe all the same size. Now I’m just being rhetorically petty.

    So my thoughts are all over the place, but I agree with the idea above that a symbol logo should be something you can carve in a stone, slap on a bumper and see from a mile away. If you look up symbols on your computer, you won’t find detailed art like this. That’s closer to wingdings, than an actual symbol — and even then wingdings are far more simplified.

    So it’s a nice graphic. I have no real bad thoughts about it. Graphic design ways are not the Lord’s ways. But surely it has nothing to do with biblical Christianity.

    The symbol of a fish was used fairly anciently, and close to the biblical Christian church. They didn’t have a carving or drawing of a man, crucified or resurrected to my knowledge. Probably because they had a lot more emotional and cultural connection to the idea of no graven images and the fish was really a true symbol that meant something. Christ with arms outstretched is about as unsymbolic as you can get (lovely visual though).

    Maybe eventually, the fish symbol was dropped for the cross, to draw connection more to the man who wanted us to be fishers of other men, rather than to the fish he wanted us to gather into his nets.

    But even the cross was an actual symbol representing the man.

    So if we want a resurrected Christ symbol, what do you use? Computer generated graphic that likely was made based on a photograph of a sculpture. Again, that’s not symbolic.

    What’s an actual symbol for resurrection? Seedling sprouting, sun rising. Symbol for Jesus? I can’t think of a better symbol (again, a symbol is a symbol, not drawing of the actual thing itself) than the cross.

    I know all the baggage against the cross, but it’s still the best symbol for Christ that’s well known. Other possible symbols would perhaps be an olive branch symbol, white dove, fish…

    Anyway despite all that, it still looks nice.

  15. Wondering
    April 7, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    If there’s a stained glass look, one need not see it as “closer to artistic Catholicism.” Early Utah Mormon chapels and some of our temples use(d) stained glass. Many years ago a Mormon apostle proposed erecting a large cross in Ensign Peak. The proposal offended then popular anti-Catholic sentiment and so went nowhere. I some 19th century circles the cross was seen as Catholic and not used by Protestants. That has changed. In fact the our Church also uses it — just not visually. Think “Onward, Christian Soldiers” though we adopted it from Anglicans (who think of themselves as Catholic — just not Roman Catholic).

    The fish symbol seems to have been derived from the Greek word for fish, taking it as an acrostic for the first letters (in Greek) of the phrase “Jesus Christ God’s Son is Savior.” If so, then connection to “fisher’s of men” is accidental and not the origin or meaning.

    Despite my distaste for mini-Thorvaldsen Christi in LDS homes, it seems in our Church culture a more satisfactory symbol of our brand of Christianity than other proposals I’ve seen, the cross having been denigrated among us by the presumption that it was a symbol of Christ’s death rather than a symbol of Him and the atonement. I expect most of us don’t even know that Thorvaldsen’s Christus was created by a womanizing non-Catholic who worked primarily in Rome or that we adopted it from a protestant church in Copenhagen. Do they think instead that it was adopted from Temple Square or Deseret Book?

  16. Mortimer
    April 7, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Qdes,
    The other prominent symbol for Christ is the lamb- used by the evangelists as well as Old Testament prophets.

  17. April 7, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks for the link to the proclamations. 1, is about what I expected for the first proclamation and is interesting. 2 is all about Joseph Smith’s death. 3 is very interesting and now I want to know more. 4 is basically the precursor to the one we just got.

  18. Qdes
    April 8, 2020 at 8:25 am

    “If so, then connection to “fisher’s of men” is accidental and not the origin or meaning”

    Don’t need to argue here, but it’s a little backwards to see the connection with Jesus’ first words to his apostles calling them to his ministry as a fisher of men is accidental (along with all the other fish stories).

    The reason why the fish has meaning is because of that. You could find all combinations of things that various collections of words could make.

    The fact that the phrase you identified points to a fish is what’s accidental. The meaning of the symbolism of entirely from various connections with fishes in the new treatment.

    Lamb is another good one. Book of Revelation has the Lion of Judah phrase, so a dual symbol with a lamb and lion is pretty cool too.

    Everything else at conference was really excellent except the over use of the word “historic”.

    I did notice, perhaps, a small wink at President Oaks latest hobby horse regarding his view of misuse in referring to individuals who hold “the priesthood” from Elder Rasband:

    “To a small gathering of priesthood holders in a schoolhouse in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1834, the Prophet Joseph prophesied, “It is only a little handfull of Priesthood you see here tonight”.

    Other JS quotes/revelation:
    “Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood…”

    Seems this quote is comfortable referring to the holders of the priesthood as “the priesthood”.

    “Emmett is out of our control— he has flung himself out of the Priesthood.”

    Again, rather literally, you can see the body of the membership of the priesthood being referred to here as the priesthood.

    Some if not all instances can be read both ways, referring to the metaphysical power and authority itself off “the priesthood” and simultaneously the holders themselves. Indeed, it’s that righteous embodiment that gives priesthood it’s power. It’s not as if priesthood is an additional trinitarian holy ghost like substance that exists in the either.

    “Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion, For the building of mine ahouse, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood…”

    This one could be read both ways as well. But I think the meaning becomes more personal and practical to think of tithing as helping support priesthood holders (who turn supported their families) rather than the tithing literally supporting the metaphysical substance/power to bless, administrator etc.

  19. Wondering
    April 8, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Qdes, re fish — Could be. Depends upon the motivation, understanding of whoever originated the symbol. That’s the function of the word “if.” Then the meaning of the symbol to subsequent viewer’s depends upon their understanding and not on the motivation or understanding of whoever originated it. Thanks for pointing that out.

  20. Travis
    April 8, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    The introduction of a new church-brand logo felt inappropriate to me (for a conference setting). An Ensign article or press-release would suffice.

    The proclamation on the First Vision is premature; there is so much more to be learned and revealed about Joseph Smith’s first vision(s); dogmatization will be a stumbling block where flexibility and interpretation might otherwise open understanding.

  21. Rememberer
    April 8, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Mortimer, what I found interesting is that years ago the Church used a silhouette of the Christus statue as you describe prominently on the lds.org webpage.

  22. sjames
    April 12, 2020 at 12:32 am

    Quick observations:

    Logo shows remarkable resemblance to a Catholic grotto or shrine – admittedly the tomb might be rendered as such – but not sure why the arch and boxing is required; and wondering if it will now become a feature in (some) LDS homes as the Christus statue has.

    Years ago the argument about ‘priesthood’ was not that one be referred to as ‘holding’ the priesthood (reserved for wives, etc :), but one should refer to it as ‘bearing’ the priesthood, which I think is what Elder Oaks is getting at.

  23. Murray
    April 18, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Does anyone else here feel uncomfortable with the use of the term Sabbath, instead of The Lord’s Day? Sabbath is so Old Testament and does not point to the Savior. If the new symbol and the re-emphasis on the correct name of the Church is so important, why don’t we start using The Lord’s Day as the correct name for our day of worship?

  24. Chad Nielsen
    April 19, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I can’t say that I’ve thought about that, Murray, but it’s a good idea to consider. Sabbath just denotes it as the day of rest, so I don’t think that there’s anything particularly wrong with using the term, but it is reasonable to put greater emphasis on using the term “The Lord’s Day” more often.

  25. Jeanette Rodgers
    April 22, 2020 at 11:15 am

    This is an attempt to be “Christian.” The Jesus Christ of the Bible is not the Christus of LDS belief.

    http://www.letusreason.org/LDS33.htm President Hinkley commented, of those who question whether the Mormons worship the same Jesus “No I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ whom I speak has been revealed in this dispensation of the fullness of Times” (Deseret News, June 20 1998)
    If one worships this exalted man from Adam, (his father) it is creature worship not creator worship. They are worshipping an offspring of another creature. No matter how far one goes back, there is always another man.
    Stephen E. Robinson, a Brigham Young University professor tries to convince us in his book How Wide the Divide that the differences are sleight. “Evangelicals often accuse Latter-day Saints of worshiping a ‘different Jesus’ because we believe some things about Jesus that cannot be proven from the Bible…. This charge that people worship ‘a different Jesus’ if they disagree over any detail of his character or history, is simply a rhetorical device, a trick of language” (Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? pp. 136–37).
    As we have just seen in their own quotes, they acknowledge that they have a different Jesus. And it is not just some things that are different because of semantics but the very nature of man and God are completely different. None of these are insignificant to be over looked because its challenges history and the very words recorded in the Bible.

  26. 0t
    April 27, 2020 at 2:12 am

    I found the most profound aspect of the proclamation to be that this church “is Christ’s New Testament Church restored”. It’s a logical assertion, one that appeals to me as a member, but it’s also a real shot across the bow, IMO. It’s an assertion that all the other churches are not Christ’s NT church. To me that’s not so much an expression of “we are Christians, too” as much as it is is “the other sects are counterfeits”. It’s a very bold taking back of Christ and His doctrine from everyone else, and one that we’ve been very coy about publicly for much of our history. Do I think it’s the right decision? Yes. But I think in time it could either intensify the anti-Mormon (anti-“Church of Jesus Christ”) rhetoric, or show that the hand of many other religions in claiming they represent Christ is weakening. When I was in the MTC 30+ years ago, I remember a discussion at a large group meeting regarding the statement, “Is God a Mormon?” With the answer “yes, He is”. Pres Nelson has flipped that. God is not a Mormon, and neither are we.

  27. Steve
    May 3, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    Has anyone else noticed that the artist’s rendering of new temples that have been announced by President Nelson do not include an Angel Moroni? Specifically, I’m talking about the following temples: Praia Cabo Verde, San Juan Puerto Rico, Bangkok Thailand, Lima Peru Los Olivos, Alabang Philippines, Auckland New Zealand, Tooele Valley Utah, Moses Lake Washington, Phnom Penh Cambodia, Orem Utah, Taylorsville Utah, Bengaluru India, and Brasília Brazil.

    Many of these temples are the style of temple that previously would have had an angel Moroni.

  28. ji
    May 4, 2020 at 10:27 am

    I had not noticed it, but I looked at two and you might be right. When the Atlanta Georgia Temple drawings were released, there was no Moroni statute — but the building has one.

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