Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah’


Awakening from Our Cocoon – Part I

In my last post [Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry], I shared a scripture from Isaiah which I had never before read, but one which very much helped in my train of thought that day.  It is the purpose of this post to discuss this scripture and what it means to me.

In this particular chapter of the Book of Isaiah [Chapter 58] we read of an experience Isaiah had with the people to whom he ministered.  The opening verse lays out exactly the purpose for this chapter, as well as the purpose Isaiah is charged with – namely, to call the people to repentance.  All true prophets call those to whom they minister to repentance and point the way to Christ and no other.  This is exactly what Isaiah must do.

The first verse reads:

“Cry aloud, aspare not, lift up thy bvoice like a ctrumpet, and dshew my people their etransgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

This is the charge.  Show the people their transgressions, show them their sins.  Since God is a God of love, we must understand why we must be shown our transgressions.  They are not shown to us to instill fear, though oftentimes we interpret those calls to repentance as fear based, but rather they are shown to us out of love, a love that yearns for us to turn away from the falsities of life and return to Christ.  To repent means nothing more than to turn around and return to God.  To sin means little more than to “miss the mark,” to miss the purpose for which we’re here on the earth.  We sin when we miss that mark, when we miss orienting our lives towards Christ.

According to several sources (though not all), there is no word in Hebrew for “sin.”  Rather, the word used to describe “sin” is chet, which has reference “to an arrow which ‘missed the target.’  The archer is not ‘bad.’  Rather, he made a mistake – due to a lack of focus, concentration or skill.”

Returning to Isaiah 58, we find the opening verses (verse 3 through 5) decrying the worship of a shallow people.

3 aWherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and  thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your bfast ye find cpleasure, and dexact all your labours.

4 Behold, ye fast for astrife and bdebate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not cfast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?

The reality of the situation presented in these verses, and this chapter, is that the people weren’t fasting with the right heart.  They were doing it out of mere ritual (sounds an awful lot like our Fast & Testimony meetings…a ritual fast which occurs 1x per month), and did it as an empty ritual.  And yet, even when they went through with this ritual, even when they did fast, they continued with strife, debate, exploitation.  There was no sincerity involved.  No true devotion existed.  They fasted to win arguments (“for debate”), to overcome people and obstacles in their path (“for strife”).  They fasted to glorify themselves (“to make your voice to be heard on high”).  All the forms and none of the Spirit.  In reality…we’re all like that.  We all have “forms” we participate in, false traditions passed down from our father’s which we continue without really thinking about them.

Only when we join with the Savior in His work will the world soon find the beauty behind what Isaiah states later on in this chapter.  Here, though, the people were complaining of unanswered prayers (haven’t we all?), complaining of the lives they were leading disconnected from God.

False worship, of which I am most certainly guilty, is made up of (a) religion that is impersonal, formal and program centered; (2) comes by habit and tradition; (2) is self-serving; (3) elitist; (4) controlled, orchestrated, predictable; and, (5) includes mere passive involvement, ignoring the reality that God is a deeply personal Being.  In short, false worship is a “religion which assumes a relationship with God while discounting relationships with [everyday] people.”

In truth, their fast was not approved of God (“Is it such a fast that I have chosen?).   They hypocrisy of these fasts (and our monthly ritual fasting) is detestable.  It’s not the kind of fasting God chooses.  And, even though we go through all the motions – the “correct” motions (“bow down … as a bulrush, … spread sackcloth and ashes…”), it was an empty ritual.  We’re empty today.  We lack devotion, sincerity.  Our egos are so full of themselves that we have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, or the trees for the forest.  Both are applicable.  We’re blinded to our true condition because we believe – and are told – that we’re a “chosen” people (Anyone up for a Rameumptum party?).  This chapter is but a precursor for the Lord’s instructions to the Pharisee who reminded the Lord that “I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers … I fast twice a week.”  (See Luke 18:9-14.)

From this point on in the chapter, the message and tone both change.  Isaiah goes from telling the people how messed up their fasting is, to instructing them on what God really wants from them.  It’s not that fasting is bad, or to be discouraged, but rather that God loathes hypocrisy and the ease with which we go through the forms without the right spirit.

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the abands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go bfree, and that ye break every yoke?

7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the ahungry, and that thou bring the bpoor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from cthine own flesh?

In order to truly benefit from anything we do, we have to get right with our fellow men, we have to stop oppressing others, to reach out and help others.  We have to stop being so self-centered, self-congratulating, self-aggrandizing.  “To loose the bands of wickedness,” we have to stop acting wickedly towards others (“undo the heavy burdens,” “let the oppressed go free,” “break every yoke”).  The only way we can truly be right with God is to remove the beams from our own eyes.  Living a self-centered life will never, ever bring about Zion, bring about the Spirit, or bring about peace.  Ever.

In the New Testament, the 4th chapter of the Book of James describes the very fruits of a self-centered life.  Those fruits are wars, fightings and lustings.  Our self-centered lives are the very source of the madness that pervades or lives, homes and world.  False religion and false worship do not work because God simply cannot be present when we’re being false with ourselves, with others or with Him.

From this point, we start sharing our bread with the hungry, bringing in the poor into our houses, feeding them, relieving their burdens, covering the naked and, most poignantly, stop hiding ourselves from our brothers and sisters.  Instead of crossing the street to avoid the beggar, instead of turning our eyes away from those dressed poorly, instead of avoiding the dirty and downtrodden, God is telling us stop hiding ourselves.  We can’t really hide anyway.  It’s not like God can’t see our hearts and what we’re doing.  Take off those fig leaves (who gave them to us anyway?) and get right with God and start treating humanity with respect.

8 ¶ Then shall thy alight break forth as the morning, and thine bhealth shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy crereward.

9 Then shalt thou acall, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the bputting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Now, we turn to the blessings God promises those who throw away their hypocrisy and start acting like a “true” worshiper.  True worship results in “light break[ing] forth as the morning.”  True worship results in the “glory of the Lord [being our] rereward.”  True worship includes the promises of the Lord answering our calls.

Verse 9 includes four things which we must stop doing:  (1) treating others like animals worthy of our yokes, (2) oppressing others, (3) pointing the finger at others, and (4) boasting in our vanity.  This list is indicative of things we do.  We commit these things.  They are acts of commission.  This isn’t a list of things we overlook, things we just happen to do.  If we want to walk with God, as did Enoch and all his people, we have to stop feeding our egos and start feeding the hungry.

Verse 10 continues with another list.  This time, however, it’s a list of things God wants us to do.  (1) Minister more to the hungry and afflicted and (2) draw out our souls towards them.  Failing to do these things, in contrast to the list given in verse 9, are largely acts of omission.  We forget to satisfy and help the hungry and afflicted soul because we’re too caught up in ourselves, too caught up in the distractions of life.  The blessing that comes with doing this is that our light will rise in obscurity (again, not in vanity, but in obscurity) and our darkness and vanity will be as the noonday.  Instead of being darkness at noonday, we will be living in light at noonday.  Christ’s very presence will be with us, to light our minds, our hearts and our lives.

In a day where many of us yearn to be led more constantly by Christ, verse 11 states that we will be guided continually.  Our souls will be satisfied from their drought, our bones will become fat with life-giving marrow.  We will be like a flowering garden, like a spring of water, whose waters “fail not.”  Ascending beyond the rituals of life, ascending above the shallowness of our egos, we’re promised the Lord’s very presence.

Verse 12, then, is quite pertinent.  In a day of degeneracy and apostasy from Christ, a day when the foundations have become cracked because of the teaching of the commandments of men, we’re promised a couple of things:  (1) waste places will be rebuilt, (2) a new foundation will be built for “many generations,” (3) we’re repair the breaches and (4) restore the paths wherein we can safely dwell here in mortality and beyond.  This verse will become the prelude to my next post.  Imagine the beauty of these promises.  In a day where many decry the general apathy and apostasy existing among all religions, the Lord is promising us that the foundations will be rebuilt for “many generations.”  Sounds reminiscent of the beauty the Nephites experienced after Christ ministered to them.

“We live in a broken world. In every direction there are breaches which are wide and deep. There are broken hearts and broken homes, and that which once was sacred is but a waste place … The wall of protection is in ruins, and life has lost all its meaning.” (Redpath)

From the same source as the above quote, this passage of scripture provides us a glimpse of a life which is right in the sight of God:

It is an enlightened life: Your light shall shine in the darkness.

It is a guided life: The Lord will guide you continually.

It is a satisfied life: The Lord will satisfy your soul in drought.

It is a fragrant life: Your life will be like a watered garden.

It is a freshly sustained life: Your life will be like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

It is a productive, healing life: You shall build up the old waste places, [repair the breaches and rebuild the foundations which have been eroded over time].

This chapter continues on with two more verses about the Sabbath day, the blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy, which I have discussed elsewhere.  We, in our limited minds, tend to view the Sabbath as merely a day of the week.  In the closing verses of this chapter, it appears as though Isaiah is stating that the Sabbath is more an attitude of the heart reflecting true devotion.   Paul, in Hebrews 3 and 4, describes entering God’s rest:

“He who has entered God’s (sabbath) rest has ceased from his own efforts as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10, emphasis added.)

That is to say, all too often our focus on the Sabbath relates to resting from our day’s labors.  Kicking our feet up and laying around all day.  Another, deeper meaning of this is can be read this way:  “the Sabbath Day of the Old Testament points to an invisible reality – to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Our Lord calls His people to stop serving Him in the energy of the flesh and to allow Him to live His endless life through them (see Galatians 2:20-21).”

The focus of this post should be on true worship and living the spirit-filled life that Isaiah so eloquently described in the closing verses of Isaiah 58.  Worship that is lacking sincerity, honesty and truthfulness with God will never bring about Zion.  Only when we replace our forms with the Spirit, when we cease to participate in “vain oblations,” will Zion come about.  It is time to start worshipping the Savior in both mind and spirit and time to do away with our “multitude of sacrifices.”

10 ¶ Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of aSodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your asacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I bdelight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more avain boblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and csabbaths, the calling of dassemblies, I cannot eaway with; it is finiquity, even the gsolemn meeting.

14 Your new amoons and your appointed bfeasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am cweary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many aprayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of bblood.

Isaiah 58 is nothing more than a practical application of a life led in Christ.  It is nothing more, nothing less, than advice on how to escape the dead forms and practices of a church and born out of rituals, and how to get away from the ego.  Service to God is the only answer.  How you choose to serve God is up to you.  That is not the point of this post.  Service is individual.  Service for the public eye has its reward.  Service in private also has its reward.  I might even suggest service for service sakes.  Don’t do anything merely for a reward.  You choose how you want to serve God, if at all.  As always, the application is intensely individual.

***A special thanks goes out to the following websites for aiding me in understanding this chapter:  (1) http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2358.htm; and (2) http://ldolphin.org/isaiah58.html.***


Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry

The last couple of weeks have been an interesting roller coaster, though it could probably be said that each and every week is a roller coaster here on the mother ship that is our Earth.  I am knee deep in starting up a business – which I’ll briefly touch on at some point in the future as it relates to the times and seasons we’re now approaching – and have been spending a fair amount of time noodling different ideas, iterations and options.  Sometimes I get to the point where I don’t really know what to address here on this blog.

This [blog] truly has been something which was created and started as a way to journal my life and thoughts for this year 2010, not knowing if I would/will go on with it after that point.  I have come to appreciate many blogs out there on the ephemeral internet we so much rely on in today’s society but they all, in one way or another, leave a noticeable void.  It has taken me a while to understand why and, even though I do not fully understand this void and what it means to me personally, I hope that mine leaves a void in your life as well.  Why this is so will be explained later on, but suffice it to say that everything you encounter in life, everything you experience, everything you do, should be seen as a mere stop along the road of life.  Nothing short of Christ and Zion should ever be seen as a destination.  Though it is true that there are plateaus along the way, the rest stops we see on virtually every interstate highway should be just that in our life…mere resting stops.  We all need them.  But we must all leave them, too.  They are never meant to be our end all or anything more than a night’s stay in some hotel room in the middle of this journey.  Therefore, no matter what you find here, rest assured that it will never save.  It will never exalt.

There is a reason why I lay this out.  That reason is a bit difficult to explain, but I will try.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve met some wonderful – new to me – people who are helping me along my journey to Christ.  They do not know that they are helping me, as I’ve never been one to express my gratitude in such evangelical terms.  I am the worse for it, but I do offer silent gratitude when in secret, which I hope eventually reaches that person, in some karmic way.

That being said, one of the greatest things I currently struggle with is the source of the truth I seek for.  As my blog states, and as some of you may have wondered, the “truthmarche” portion of this blog is so entitled as to call upon the French word for “marche” (I’m having a hard time with accents on this keyboard, so that should read “marsh-ay”).  A marche, for anyone familiar with other cultures, is a daily or weekly event much like a farmer’s market, though much larger and more popular.  Vendors come from all around, set up their booths, and customers come and pick through and over the things they want to find.  Truthmarch means, to me, a chance I have – personally – to come to the source of truth, find them, pick them up or out from the crap that surrounds it, and use it or apply it to my life.

This is a struggle at times because, as many of you may have noted, truth is all too often veiled in human understanding, relative meanings, or, worse, purposefully hidden from the world.  How this relates to some of those people I’ve recently met is that often, at this stage in life, how I find truth is predicated on a couple of things.  Most of the truth I find only comes after I ask for it…but rarely (not yet, at least) does it come in the form of direct content from Christ, the Father or any other divine being.  Usually, it’s through those that read this blog, friends I speak with, websites (blogs) I visit, books I read and so on.

I admittedly struggle with the reception of truth in this manner.  My struggle largely lies with trying to understand at what point am I relying on faith for the truth, and at what point am I relying on the books?  Is there a difference?  If I ask God for truth and God, in His ultimate wisdom, wants to give me the truth of such-and-such a thing, then how will He give it?  Will He give it to me in the form of revelation?  Will it happen in the form of something I stumble across – be it a book, website, blog, etc?  How do I differentiate between something that is from faith, and something that is from seek[ing] diligently?

The reason for these questions has only, once again, come to the forefront of my mind because of something one of these recent acquaintances stated.  Their statement was based on having God fill voids, fill our minds, fill our hearts, teach us, inspire us, etc., and refraining from seeking validation from others, other groups, other websites, other people.  So, in thinking on this person’s response, the questions I previously posed once again came to mind.

Where and how does God inspire and teach us?  This is no vain question…I really want to know.  I really want to know how to learn by faith.  What does it mean to learn by faith?  How does God fill my own voids as I seek to replace the cracked foundations of my childhood with stones hewn by Christ himself?

When I think of voids being filled, Nephi’s story is the one which typically comes to mind.  His father, in the opening chapters of 1 Nephi, relates a dream or vision he had on the subject of God’s love.  Nephi heard his father’s story, then turned to validation from God.  Laman and Lemuel heard the same story, but turned to Nephi for validation…and hardened their hearts.  This then leads to Nephi receiving instructions on how to build a ship…a boat built after the manner of the Lord (verse 8).

Though this is all well and good, what did Nephi do during the “many days” they were in the land of Bountiful?  Did those “many days” have anything to do with his ability to hear the voice of the Lord?  Even this line of thinking, in my view, is faulty.  These questions – and similar questions – are all built off the foundation of one person, one person acting for him or herself with disregard to others.  Is it fair to go down a route where we consider only what Nephi was doing for Nephi and in the best interests of Nephi?

I have a friend who was hit by a train.  Literally.  In the midst of that experience he passed away and died.  Some of the things he remembers from his visit to the other side was how he saw his young family – his wife and kids – and the suffering they would experience with him dying.  He remembers, then, being given the choice to remain there in the afterlife, where it was blissful behind compare, or coming back to earth.  He remembers seeing the agony – and feeling the agony – of his family at the almost-loss of their father and husband.  He chose to return to earth, knowing what he was giving up, because he couldn’t imagine putting his family through that, even though it would have been great for him to remain in the afterlife.  He chose to return to earth in order to help others…

How does this relate to this post?  My question is such that I often focus on what is best for me, making sure that I’m not trying to stoke my ego and do things for my own benefit, or, conversely, not do things because I perceive the doing of said things will stoke my ego.

In listening to a book recommended to me by one of these recent acquaintances, I learned something new.  In the closing chapters of A New Earth, he discusses enthusiasm and how it relates to our work and what we do.  He stated how we are not to go to work to seek to be rich, to seek to be popular, to be a famous actor or actress, to be a famous writer or other aspirations.  Rather, we set out to do work that inspires others.  Be it a waitress, garbage man, executive or whatever your passion in life, we do it to inspire others.  To bring them into a state of mindfulness where the present has real meaning.

That, to me, applies to this situation.  Regardless of everything I’ve touched on and written above, do we do things for selfish reasons – because it will or will not stoke my ego – or do we do things to inspire others?

Tolle states it as follows:

Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm. Even though you have a goal, what you are doing in the present moment needs to remain the focal point of your attention; otherwise, you fall out of alignment with universal purpose.

Make sure your vision or goal is not an inflated image of yourself and therefore a concealed form of ego, such as wanting to become a movie star, a famous writer, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don’t empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole.

Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor or writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.

In closing, I think there are a couple of scriptures which, paired together, get to the point I’ve struggled to arrive at.  Wherever we’re at, whatever we’re doing, there are people who need inspiration, who need the light of Christ in their lives.  If we are to establish Zion, seeking after Zion in our solitary manner, then we’ll never get there.  Zion will only come as we create a unity of faith, as we uplift others and touch their hearts.

Philippians 1:27:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye astand fast in one spirit, with bone cmind dstriving together for the faith of the gospel;

D&C 108:7

…  astrengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.

And, lastly Isaiah 58:10-11:

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

I think this last one is especially beautiful.  It will play an integral role in my next post as well.  How often have I approached situations wondering only what I can get out of them, how the conversations effect me personally (both from how it will stoke my ego or give me some knowledge I needed), how often have I failed “draw out [my] soul” to the spiritually hungry because I was afraid to say something, because I didn’t want to join the conversation, because I was shy or too proud. How often have I been a coward, afraid of teaching by the Spirit and thereby chasing the Spirit away, drawing in my soul from those that were hungry or afflicted?

Returning to the picture I used with this post.  I took this picture in the middle of Death Valley just last weekend, a couple of miles west of Stovepipe Wells.  Several things about Death Valley impressed me.  The landscape was phenomenal.  From towering mountains, to a small oasis (Scotty’s Castle), to sand dunes, dry lake beds, canyons and such.  Amazing diversity.  What also was impressed upon my mind was the dryness of the area.  Water, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.  The recommendations to travel with plenty of water is very apropos.  But, in relation to this post, this flower stuck out to me.  Here is a small, seemingly insignificant flower flourishing in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.  Is it, too, like many of us, in need of someone to draw out their soul to it, to feed and water it with the Living Bread and Living Water, or at the very least point out where those living essentials can be found?  Only you know the answer to that question, as it’s intensely individual in it’s application.

May God grant us all the ability and Spirit to seek and establish Zion by drawing out our soul for those hungry and afflicted souls where we can, of whom I am one.


Blinded by the Light – the Parable of the Moth

This article and write-up had its naissance thanks to an article which was linked to the Huffington Post.  That article, entitled, Anything Beyond the Universe?  New Theory Changes Our Destiny[1], was a thought provoking article on what we view as reality – constructs of time and space – and how that may be changing.  I would encourage all to read it before continuing on here.

There are numerous aspects from that article from which I could create and write an article, though it may not do justice to the true parable of the Moth as it plays itself out in our individual lives.  The paragraph and statement, however, which jumped out on me was a statement on moths.  Moths, as those who have seen them in action can attest, love light.  Turn on a light in the dark of night and a moth will flock to it for reasons I do not understand.  Turn on another light, and the moth will likely float along to that light, trying to penetrate the glass that houses the light.  The moth will likely, then, fly around between the available lights for hours on end.  This will continue until either the person watching the moth will try to free the moth from the madness of the scene, until the moth dies, or until some other unfortunate incident occurs.

To a moth, this scene tells a vastly different story and, although this article will discuss how we humans can learn something from this evolutionary dance, I feel obliged to share some of the studies done on the moths and their attraction to light.  There are, according to the brief research I did on this topic, at least two schools of thought on why moths are attracted to light sources.  One such school of thought is represented by Dr. Henry Hsaio, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina, while the other, for the purposes of this article, will be represented by Dr. May Berenbaum, Head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois.

Henry Hsaio has stated in some moth studies that moths exhibit two kinds of behavior:  (1) when they’re distant from a light source they are drawn to the light source and make a beeline straight to it; and, (2) once the moths are in close proximity to the light source, the moth actually tries to avoid the light.[2] In trying to avoid the light, these same moths are seeing in vision the “Mach band.”  The Mach band, which can be seen by all sighted creatures, is the “region surrounding a bright light that seems darker than any other part of the sky.”[3] Hsaio, in his studies, postulated that the moth, in trying to fly within the Mach band, is actually seeking out the darkest part of the sky, which, according to Hsaio, is the safest area for the moths.  This theory also suggests that moths, who try and hide themselves in the daytime from predators, view the light source as a signal of morning light and are trying to seek that light and find a hiding place.

Dr. Berenbaum, in an interview with NPR discussed a slightly different view.[4] The “standard line of explanation,” according to Berenbaum, suggests that moths and other nocturnal insects use “celestial navigation” as a way of orienting themselves in the dark, much the same way man has done for centuries.  The reason moths, supposedly, are attracted to porch lights and the like is because these lights take on a “terrestrial” point source in their minds, much the same way sea turtles can be distracted by porch lights on the beach while they look for the moon to signal when they should head back to sea.[5]

When you step back to consider these schools of thought, they really aren’t that much different.  In essence, the moths are (a) disoriented by the false light, (b) distracted by the false light and (c) nevertheless seeking refuge in the light.  Obviously, taking these results and applying them to ourselves individually, there are potentially many lessons we can learn.  While I do not intend to expound each of these ideas, there is yet a further idea I would like to discuss – namely what we see when we witness this “light dance.”

It could be said, and indeed it has been said, that these moths are completely oblivious to their surroundings when a false light (by false light, I mean any source that isn’t natural – like celestial objects) comes into their view.  They, as mentioned in both of the articles on the two different schools of thought, make a “beeline” for the source of light and use that light to either seek refuge from the predators of the night, or to orient themselves on their travels.  Neither goal is achieved, unfortunately, in this “light dance.”  What is achieved, however, is a complete and total distraction to what is happening all around them.

Robert Lanza, in the original article from the Huffington Post, shared something that Loren Eiseley once wrote on this very subject:

“While I was sitting one night with a poet friend watching a great opera performed in a tent under arc lights, the poet took my arm and pointed silently. Far up, blundering out of the night, a huge Cecropia moth swept past from light to light over the posturings of the actors. ‘He doesn’t know,’ my friend whispered excitedly. ‘He’s passing through an alien universe brightly lit but invisible to him. He’s in another play; he doesn’t see us. He doesn’t know. Maybe it’s happening right now to us.”

This statement should, hopefully, elicit some internal yearnings to better understand the universe in which we individually live.  Are we, like the huge Cecropia moth, blundering on in the darkness, oblivious to the universe which is all around us?  Are we ignorant to the realities that present themselves in our everyday lives, simply because we aren’t really paying attention to what is going on around us?  Maybe, just maybe, it is happening right now to us.

This thought, so eloquently set forth by Eiseley, isn’t without scriptural support.  The Doctrine & Covenants discuss, in a veiled way, what it means to walk in darkness – a metaphor which has direct application to this discussion:

For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to aprune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my bstrange act, that I may cpour out my Spirit upon all flesh—But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are achosen.  They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are awalking in bdarkness at noon-day. … If you akeep not my commandments, the blove of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall cwalk in darkness.[6]

The meaning of this scripture may get lost in the cracks of our everyday lives, but it is directly applicable to us, today.  We are those who are walking at “noon-day” in that we fail to see the light shining all around us.  Whereas the moth is distracted from the universe which surrounds it because of false light sources, we are distracted from the universe which surrounds us because we glory in the darkness.  To be fair, we may not “glory” in the darkness, but all too frequently we reject the light because we “per-ceive” it not.  The light, much like the example of the moths, is not hidden from us mortals, but all too often we choose not to “see” that light.  The light which I am referring to, I hope, would be obvious to the reader.  That light is none other than Christ.

For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the alight which shineth in darkness, and by my bpower I give these words unto thee.  … Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the aSon of God. I am the life and the blight of the world.[7]

I am the alight which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not[8].

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the aSon of God. I am the same that came unto mine bown, and mine own received me not. I am the clight which shineth in ddarkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.[9]

Similarly, Christ reiterates this same idea throughout the New Testament.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the alight of the world: he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life[10].

Whereas the moth is attracted to a false light source, mistaking it for a celestial body which it uses to guide itself on its journeys, we tend to mistake darkness for light.  We view our surroundings, the false paradigms of our worlds, the chasing after money, goods, possessions, “that … which doth corrupt the soul,”[11] as the purpose of our existence.  And, if not the purpose, certainly something worth spending the majority of our life chasing after.  If that is not the purpose of our existence, then why do we spend the vast majority of our time laboring after those things which, according to Isaiah, “satisfieth not?”  (see Isaiah 55:2).  It seems nonsensical, when you think about it.  Looking at the things on which we spend our energy and resources, it’s no wonder Christ states that we are “walking in darkness at noon-day.”  We’re so distracted and overwhelmed with “life” that we forget the reasons why we are here on earth.

Christ himself describes this darkness in a separate section of the Doctrine & Covenants, where he says, “…that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.”[12] Centuries earlier, a prophet who had seen and communed with Christ, echoes these words in the concluding chapters of the Book of Mormon where he writes, “…all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil … that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”[13]

While we may conjecture and postulate what it is about the false light sources which distracts and leads astray the moths in their nocturnal flight patterns, the scriptures have laid out a formula and method whereby we can avoid similar distractions.  According to the scriptures discussed previously, what we must do is find those things which “enticeth to do good” and to serve God.  In so doing, we will find the “light which shineth in the darkness” (which shineth in [us], though we comprehend it not).

A friend of mine, in an email, stated the following in discussing the opening verses of Alma chapter 41 (his words are in the brackets):

3 And it is requisite with the ajustice of God that men should be bjudged according to their cworks; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be drestored unto that which is good. [good = happiness]

4 And if their works are evil they shall be arestored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be brestored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—cmortality raised to dimmortality, ecorruption to incorruption—raised to fendless happiness to ginherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

5 The one raised to ahappiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; [good = happiness] and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

aThese are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, [of Hell – or our current state of mind] that are delivered from that endless night of darkness [which is in our own minds]; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.

As verse seven describes, those who are redeemed of the Lord, are taken out [of hell – or our current blinded state of mind; our current false paradigms; our current skewed individual universes] and are delivered from that “endless night” of darkness [again, in our own minds].  As we seek the true source of light, discussed in the above scriptures, we will lay hold of every good thing and be led to the:

“…light which shineth, which giveth [us] light, is through Him who enlightened [our] eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth [our] understandings; … which is in all things, which given life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed…for intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light…”[14]

Let us shun the darkness and cleave unto the Light.  It is the only way.  He is the only way.


[1] Robert Lanza, M.D.  Anything Beyond the Universe?  New Theory Changes Our Destinyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-lanza/anything-beyond-the-unive_b_455260.html.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[2] Cecil Adams.  Why are moths attracted to bright lights? http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1071/why-are-moths-attracted-to-bright-lights.  01/27/1989.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Why are Moths Attracted to Flame? http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12903572.  08/18/2007.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[5] Ibid.

[6] See Doctrine & Covenants 95:4-6, 12.

[7] See Doctrine & Covenants 11:11, 28.

[8] See Doctrine & Covenants 10:58.

[9] See Doctrine & Covenants 6:21.

[10] See John 8:12.

[11] See Mosiah 29:40.

[12] See Doctrine & Covenants 50:23.

[13] See Moroni 7:12-13.

[14] See Doctrine & Covenants 88:11-13, 40.