Thursday, February 07, 2013

More Thoughts on Revelation

As I re-read the article I mentioned in my last post, about Joseph Smith's first vision, a couple of paragraphs stuck with me.  These were where he talked about how communication works with humans.  

"In any communication there is an encoder that sends the signal and a decoder that receives it. Always there is noise between the sender and the receiver of the signal and it limits and hinders perfect transmission and reception. In terms of communication, noise is not only audible. Sound or physical noise can interrupt a signal, but other kinds of noise hinder communication too. Semantic noise happens when the encoder sends signals that the receiver lacks the power to decipher. Psychological noise happens when a receiver’s assumptions or prejudices or preconceived notions or emotions prevent an accurate interpretation of the signal.

"God may reveal flawless signals, but no mortal, including the youthful Joseph Smith, receives communication flawlessly. There is always noise. And in this case the process of communication will be doubly difficult since Joseph’s best efforts to re-communicate his experience to us are also compromised by communication noise.So rather than assume that I could know all about the vision by reading Joseph’s accounts, I expected only to understand some of what Joseph experienced and only as it came through his memory and the limits of communication.

These thoughts reminded of a blog post I did here in Mo'Boy a while back.  Something sparked my mind and I got to thinking and writing about how revelation works with us.  I think that all too often we take the simplest possible explanations, and realize that more often than not, the simplest is not the right one, nor even the most "realistic".  Revelation and scripture is a good example of this.  

Too often we just assume that our scriptures were handed to us, complete, and uneditable, like a great holy pdf attachment.  I think even some of us believe that the priniting layout was divinely mandated.  We forget that our scriptures are collections of human writings, documenting thousands and thousands of years of communication from God to humans.

When trying to understand the scriptures, it's valuable to consider them on all of these levels.  First, of course, is what it means to me, the reader, at face value.  What is it saying to me?  Second, it's good to try and figure out who wrote it and when, and what they were going through and who they were writing it to.  Finally, it's good to try and figure out what we think is the message God is trying to send to all of us.

This is true of ancient scripture, like the five books of Moses, or modern scripture, like the Joseph Smith story.

First, I try and get into my own mind and heart, then the mind and heart of the writer/revelator, and finally, to try and figure out the mind and heart of God.  Then, I'm finally in a position to really understand a scripture.




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Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his Dutch Oven blog.

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