Sunday, April 29, 2018

Baptism for the Dead: Getting to Know You

Volume 7 of Documents in the Joseph Smith Papers is out. (I seem to have skipped a few so my collection is not yet complete.) My purpose is acquiring this volume was to learn as much as I could about Joseph Smith's first teachings on Baptism for the Dead. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128 for a fuller, scriptural background.)

Joseph first mentioned baptism for the dead at a funeral for Seymour Brunson on August 15, 1840, but there is not much recorded from that discourse. He then addressed it at the General Church Conference in Nauvoo in early October 1840 when hearers were so motivated they immediately left for the Mississippi to perform baptisms for their dearly departed. And, once again, some of his teachings were not fully recorded. Still, there are footnotes to contemporaneous reports such as a letter from Vilate Kimball to Heber C. who was on a mission in England. This would be how the British Saints and missionaries such as Richard Steele would have heard about the new doctrine so early.

And there is a very important aspect of what Vilate tells Heber. Here is the section of her October 11, 1840 letter from online, digital sources at the LDS Church History Library:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Another Reason for Conservatives to . . .

I'm not saying you should necessarily do anything. But if you anti-environmentalist, pro-development, pro-fossil-fuel people need a reason, try on some of these:
all are stewards—not owners—over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations (see D&C 104:13–15). All humankind should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources, and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy (see D&C 49:19–21).
To be complacent with His creations offends Him (see D&C 59:18–21). . . .

The earth is endowed with an array of natural resources that will provide for the human family if they are used as the Lord instructed—to care for the poor and the needy and not use more than is needed (see D&C 104:14–18); to avoid waste (see D&C 49:19–21); and not to forcibly take resources from another (see D&C 59:20). . . .
Check with your local utility company, local community groups, or on the internet to find suggestions to conserve energy and to recycle. Support community recycling programs. Consider starting a community garden. Support local civic groups that promote stewardship and conservation. Be an involved citizen in government. Be informed, respect the views of others, and treat everyone with civility. . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVII, The Final Adventure

This is the last post on my recent trip. I returned with a few good books for me to continue the intellectual adventures. One was a great survey of politics, social life, religion, and war (of course) in Medieval Wales:

A good read!
Reading along, I came across a person named Rhys Gryg. I said to myself, "I know that guy!" Well, at least I discovered his castle. And I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.

My old college professor and again my mentor for new adventures in historical travel sent me an email while I was still in Wales. He wanted help in finding a location of an ancestral farm of one of the individuals signed up for our Wales/Scotland tour coming up in August. It was in Carmarthenshire.

Great! I hadn't yet been to Carmarthen, the city of Merlin ("Caer Merddyn" in Welsh meaning "Merlin's Fort or Castle") It would be easy to swing by the town after I found the farm.

And I did find it way up on the highlands above Carmarthen. 

My question is: How did Mormon Missionaries ever find this place in the 1840s?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Guest Post: Parkland

This is from my youngest son, now a student at Brigham Young University:

88 Every Day
On February 14, 2018, a live shooter entered into Stoneman Douglas High School and proceeded to kill 17 of his former classmates along with injuring 17 others. Since the hours of this tragedy, proponents and opponents of guns and gun control have entered the media in an attempt to prevent future tragedies such as this from occurring. The culture of the debate results in extremism on both sides that leads to no progress. Gun control opponents don’t want to see more school shootings. Gun control proponents don’t want to take away every gun from every citizen. To make progress, we need to analyze effects of guns on our communities and families and break away from our gun culture to allow for more gun control laws that promote safety for everybody.
The debate on gun control is an increasingly sensitive topic that dates clear back to December 15, 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified. Within the Bill of Rights was amendment 2 “The right to Bear Arms.” This constitutional amendment is often a foundation of the debate. Within the amendment, it is stated that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVI, We're Still Here!

It rained and I didn't care. There was more to see and do, especially the Good Friday "fireside" at the Merthyr Stake Center. Until that evening, I was off schedule with much to do.

Starting at the Valley of the Rhiangoll, or Cwmdu, just above Tretower, I needed to stop and photograph the standing stone. There is one in the middle of that valley that I could never see because it forms part of a hedgerow and is covered in greenery during the summer. I thought I had seen it as I drove by on the narrow highway up that valley. At Tretower they told me I should just stop at a farm gate and walk along the highway to take photos.

It actually worked. Even on that narrow highway, the fast drivers slow down for pedestrians. There isn't much shoulder to walk on, less to park on, but I did find a farm gate and parked only halfway in a ditch. And I got it!

Well over two meters, it is higher and produces that bump in the hedgerow to look for.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XV, Hereford Weeps

Even if I was in Herefordshire for the day, I was still staying in Wales so it counts. And I found wonderful things in Hereford Archives and Records Centre (HARC)!

After exhausting my known sources, I sat on the banks of the Wye and had a late picnic lunch. This was the view:

Then I walked past and back over the old bridge

I wanted to see the Mappa Mundi and chained library. But they were closed as there was to be a funeral service.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XIV, Brecon Midst the Beacons

It rained hard that morning. As I still had a spot reserved at Powys Archives. After taking some pictures of where I thought my ancestor's flax fields might have been, I went back to check the indices and browse through the books on the shelves. Not having had enough time to digest what I had already found, I headed off to Brecon.

Pen y Fan, I believe, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons.
Brecon is the old county town and I hadn't yet been and I needed to go. Unfortunately, the Brecon Museum is undergoing extensive renovations and is not open at present. I was still able to get a feel for the medieval city.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XIII, Powys Records Office and Our Last Prince

The early walk around Talgarth gave me a morning rainbow which is always a good sign.

Then it was off to Llandrindod Wells, Wales (they really need to work on some of these names) for Powys Records Office!

A new facility since my last visit.
 They were waiting for me and were so very kind and helpful. And as I blogged here and here, I found what I came for. There's more to do now, of course, which will necessitate a return. Such is the nature of research.

Cymru, March 2018 XII, Aberystwyth and Men of Harlech

"Aberystwyth" rolls off the tongue with just a bit of Cymraeg training. And it has been a running gag like "Basingstoke" since Shakespeare, but with fewer roundabouts.

And no joke, it is one of the most gorgeous settings for a national library!

Yeah, Aberystwyth! Who's laughing now?
There was a great tour of the facility. Cymraeg was on every tongue. And they helped me find the one document my Mentor had tasked me with. So, it was a great success and done by lunchtime. This August I'll be back for more time in the town, the sea, and hopefully, the library.

Now to Harlech.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XI, Merthyr's Satanic Mills and Talgarth's Witch's Pool

It really was a blessed day. Imagine what at week of Spring does to the Merthyr Tydfil Stake Center.

Merthyr's Daffodils were just a little beaten down by the blizzard.
Church was great. They were on a theme of Palm Sunday. The Bishop announced the annual sing-fest with the Dowlais Men's Choir on Good Friday. Whoa! My plans changed so I could be there.

After church, I had a sandwich and some snacks with me. I wanted to find the remnants of the old iron forges that were supposed to be just below the chapel. I found them right behind the chapel!

The evil Cafarthfa Ironworks remain a black slash across the landscape.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Vaughans likely lived at Bryn Cottage, Pipton, Glasbury Parish

Using a different mapping system for the same area of the lands likely leased by Roger Vaughan (1734-1797) to grow flax, I found a cottage name: Bryn.

It is a simple name meaning "hill." The hill would be Pipton Hill with its wood on top where the Wye River comes close right in the area of Bryn Cottage and the field that was occupied by a John Jones on the 1840s tithe maps of Wales.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Cymru 2018, April 2, Bank Holiday

Yes, the day after Easter is a bank holiday making this a big weekend in the UK. Many of the Sacsens were like, "Oh, la-dee-dah, let's go to Wales, Dear! I hear it's so quaint. They even have books now!" So they all pile into their Rolls or Auston Martins or whatever and drive on over to Hay-on-Wye, the Town of Books.

Ha! They don't even know where to park for free.

I apologize profusely to my many English friends and ancestors. But I do know where to park in Hay. I also know where to use the loo without paying 20p. And if you have to pay, put your 20p in the handicapped or gender-free loos because they are much cleaner and actually function.

Cymru, March 2018 X, the Long and Golden Valleys

Up early in the bright day before the time changed to daylight savings or whatever they call it here, I took a walk out from my new digs in the attic of the Castle Hotel, Talgarth, to visit neighboring Bronllys Castle. Held briefly by the Vaughans in the 15th Century, it is one of the classic, round keeps of the Southern Welsh borders (think Tretower). It was locked when I arrived but soon the keeper of the keys came. I told her that I would report her favorably to the Lord. I meant the Lord of the castle. She said she wouldn't presume to take St. Peter's job. Oops. Wrong Lord.

Bronllys (Hill Court) still to be revealed beyond a field of daffodils.
The gates are open! Castle exploring requires good stair exercise.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Cymru 2018, April 1 EASTER Edition

We're skipping a bit and I'll catch up. It's just that Easter is worth something on its own and out of sequence.

The sky was blue and bright this morning. Then the sun came over the Black Mountains (Y Mynyddeodd Duon). It was time to get up there. Originally, I had planned to go up on the Equinox and mark the shadow of our little standing stone. I was wise about the weather that day and stayed on lower ground. This bright morning, the shadow is still pretty close to due West, but then every shadow is, of course, with the sunrise. The question is, did our Neolithic ancestors know and mark that? You will see there is a rock on which the shadow falls. It is likely the standing stone was set straighter a few thousand years ago and most of the stones of the circle are missing, so who knows?

Still, the mountains were glorious!

Penybegwm (Pen-y-Beacon or Hay Bluff) on the left, Twmpa (Lord Hereford's Knob) on the right.