The Grove

The Grove


32 thoughts on “The Grove

  1. As “A discussion of differences and similarities between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity,” this doesn’t go far. Only Mormons and post-Mormons will possibility get it. Even so, I wonder what the point is. In one pix someone is seemingly placing a miniature cross in a hole (where the gold plates were reported to be, I presume). Someone help, I don’t get it.

  2. Okay, I’ll try to explain it a little bit more (which totally bums me out).

    The cross is a symbol of traditional Christianity. It is distinctly non-Mormon. The hole and the grove represent where Joseph Smith found the golden plates, obviously a Mormon symbol. They are both central representations of our respective faiths.

    I’m trying to create a dilemma for the viewer. Which is the right response in relation to these symbols. Should the cross be thrown aside? Should it be placed into the hole? Does the cross block access to the hole? Can the two be incorporated somehow?

    This is the story of this blog.

  3. I sort of guessed that was the point when I saw the picture on the banner, but it didn’t create a dilemma for me. I think the problem is that you chose two symbols with which I am comfortable: both represent something I believe to be real (and important).

    In other words, it’s not the same as having a picture of a cross, a menorah, and a crescent on a site dedicated to dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims, respectively. But I’m not sure what symbol you could use in place of the cross; i.e. a symbol that is truly Evangelical-and-not-Mormon.

    For someone who is not LDS, however, I can see how the picture would create a dilemma (assuming they understood the “hole” imagery). Except, of course, that the man in the picture is LDS. Did you mean to create a dilemma only for LDS viewers? How would you change the picture to create an “Evangelicals-only” dilemma? It might be interesting to do a study (in the artistic sense) on this….

  4. I’d say most of the Mormon BLOGGERS I know are more or less OK with the cross.

    But I would not say the same of most of the other Mormons I’ve known growing up.

  5. oh great. Now I have to start distinquishing between blogging and non-blogging Mormons to figure out what people believe?


  6. A few clarifications. The area called the sacred grove, and the hill where the plates were deposited are not the same areas (roughly over 3 miles apart), although both are located in Palmyra, NY. The sacred grove is the area of the First Vision, not the place where the plates were deposited.

    The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies about the cross and Crucifixion of Christ. While the Book of Mormon often speaks of the atonement, Nephi, Jacob, and King Benjamin specifically use the language of the cross, and specifically prophecy about the cross in their sermons on the Savior.

    (Nephi’s prophecies)

    1 Nephi 11: 33 And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world

    1 Ne. 19:10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.

    1 Ne. 19:13 And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel.

    2 Ne. 25: 13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.

    (Jacob’s prophecies)

    2 Ne. 6: 9 …And he also has shown unto me that the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after he should manifest himself they should scourge him and crucify him, according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.

    2 Ne. 10:3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.

    2 Ne. 10:5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.

    Jacob 1:8 Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world…

    (King Benjamin’s prophecies)

    Mosiah 3: 9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

    Mosiah 15: 7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

    (Christ speaking in the Book of Mormon)

    3 Nephi 27:14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

    Thus, Nephite prophets frequently and specifically speak of the cross in their prophecies of Christ. In addition, the cross has a direct connection with the atonement as shown in Nephi’s first prophecy “And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.”

  7. Tim,

    Like most evangelicals, most Mormons don’t really “get out much.” Meaning that they don’t really have much interaction with other religious folk and honestly, don’t see much pressing need to.

    Blogging puts you in a position where, if you’re talking nonsense, people are going to tell you so. The last three years I’ve been on the Mormon blogging community have been extremely enlightening for me. Lots of things I didn’t know, and didn’t even know I didn’t know… you know?

  8. Crosses are not offensive to Mormons. We use the spire on our churches because it represents Christ’s victory over death and his resurrection while the cross represents His need to die for us. But when someone uses the cross as a symbolic weapon against someone else then I suppose the victim of such an offense would find it objectionable. Just ask black people when they find one burning on thier front lawn. It seems to me Tim, you are using the cross as a weapon. Are you sure you want to do that?

  9. I don’t think he’s using it as a weapon at all. He’s trying to use it to say something in a symbolic fashion, which he kind of already explained. If you don’t like his choice of symbols, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Tough luck for you. You probably weren’t the target audience anyway.

  10. Under the premise that this blog is intended as a conversation between Evangelicals and Mormons, it is not unreasonable to think that the target audience would naturally be Mormons and Evangelicals. In advancing that conversation it is worth mentioning that it might be an overstatement to say that the symbol of the cross is “distinctively non-Mormon.” The Book of Mormon is replete with references to the cross and the crucifixion, and the fact that LDS chapels do not employ the cross as an architectural feature is not to say that Mormons dislike, or are uncomfortable, or are offended by the cross, or that members of the LDS Church are required to take such an attitude.

    In addition, while the cross might be considered a symbol of traditional Christianity, here too, we must not overlook the fact that the Roman Catholic Church makes use of the crucifix rather then the cross, for theological reasons, and that the empty cross is primarily a symbol used by Protestant Christianity. Eastern Orthodox churches apparently use a variation of the crucifix. Now, in terms of Mormon “symbols,” some that come to mind are the Deseret or Beehive, a symbol of LDS industry, drawn from the Jaradite word for ‘honeybee’, or the Angel Moroni, the symbol of the Restoration, drawn from Rev. 14:6. While the gold plates and the sacred grove have meaning in LDS discourse, the symbol being chosen by the author was neither a grove nor the gold plates, but a hole in the ground, which is clearly not “a central representation” of the Mormon faith. I have never seen or read or heard of a hole in the ground being used as a symbol for Mormonism. It is perfectly fine if an artist chooses a hole in the ground to depict his view of Mormonism. However, it should be noted that a hole in the ground is not regarded by LDS as a “Mormon symbol.” It is confusing as the title of the post is “the Grove,” with no mention of the First Vision and yet the symbol being chosen is not the Grove, but a hole in the ground, where the plates were, which was not the in the sacred grove.

    Lastly, in regards to the overall intent or message of this image. Tim says “I’m trying to create a dilemma for the viewer. Which is the right response in relation to these symbols? Should the cross be thrown aside? Should it be placed into the hole? Does the cross block access to the hole? Can the two be incorporated somehow?” So, if we replace cross with Christianity and hole with Mormonism, as seems apparently clear we are supposed to do, we get these questions: “Should Christianity be thrown aside? Should it be placed into Mormonism? Does Christianity block access to Mormonism? Can the two be incorporated somehow?” Are these the questions we should be discussing? If so, what is the dilemma here? It seems highly predictable how Evangelicals and Mormons would answer these questions. It harps back to the question, is Mormonism Christian?, in which case someone might say no, you can’t fit Christianity into Mormonism or Mormonism into Christianity. Can Mormonism and Christianity be incorporated? Again, we can predict a critic of the LDS church would say, “No, you can’t unless you reject your uniquely Mormon beliefs and become saved.” It is unclear why such questions would create a dilemma, and how this is supposed to assist LDS and Evangelicals to “find common ground.”

  11. Perhaps I’m a bit daft, but I didn’t get the picture at all either. I was really wondering who the dude was dressed up like Mormon missionary. Thanks for the explanation.

  12. Tim, actually, as for the picture itself, I think it is well done. The lighting is great, and the shadows of overhead foliage add a lot to the scene. The wood is nicely textured and someone put in a lot of time and effort into constructing the cross, digging the hole and fitting the appropriately shaped stones around, not to mention dressing up like an LDS missionary. The merging of the close-up shot is seamless. Plus, I really like the three sepia-like colored frames underneath and also the overall frame style.

  13. Kullervo, 6: I wasn’t suggesting that “Mormons are comfortable with the cross as a symbol of their faith.” Rather, that Mormons are comfortable with the cross as a symbol—of something real, something important, something sacred, etc.

    As Tim described (#3), the image was meant to present a dilemma to Mormons: Do I accept the grove or the cross? Mormons accept both.

    Seth, 7: I’m not sure what you mean about most Mormons not being okay with the cross. Not okay in what way? Certainly most are okay with paintings of it (though not displaying such at home), talking about it, seeing it in movies.

    Perhaps a better way to present the dilemma would be to show a series of necklaces with a) an angel Moroni, b) a cross, or c) both. A woman (or man, I suppose) is selecting which to wear. Not as stimulating artistically, I admit.

  14. Ugggh! I stink at being clear!

    When I wrote,”Certainly most are okay with paintings of it (though not displaying such at home)…” I did not mean to suggest that most Mormons are somehow against displaying a painting of the crucifixion at home, as though that were somehow wrong. I simply meant that most would not select that as the painting of Christ that they would display.

  15. Ask your average Mormon why we don’t display the cross. Take a poll at an average ward about who would be OK with their son or daughter wearing a cross openly.

    You’ll get a different picture than the one you seem to be painting.

  16. Tim
    As I re-read the above posts I wondered why it was important to you to try to create a dilema. With art in general, the dilema is supposed to make us question a presumption or even search for another conclusion or even look for something else in the image that is not readily identifiable or clear. You said that you wanted to use the cross as a metaphor of the debate between LDS and traditional Christians. To me there is no debate as to whether LDS are Chrisitans and I beleive that extends to all LDS. Either what we claim is correct or it is a lie of monumental proportions. We have no middle ground. But, with traditional Christians, I think a middle ground must exist as evidenced by all their various denominations. So if there is a dilema to be explored it must be by traditional Christians.I don’t think we have a dog in this fight.

    You said in that post that this dilema is the foundation of this blog. I guess I don’t see it. The dilema is not on our side. We only seek an opportunity to declare our message not to kick down the metaphorical door to traditional Christianity. The issue is based on giving people the opportunity to hear the message and make up thier own mind based on facts not the fiction that all too many traditional Christians have painted of us. All we want is the opportunity to define ourselves and our message and not have someone else do it for us. Does that make sense?

  17. The dilemma is between the doctrines of Classical Christianity and Mormonism. The picture has nothing to do with the debate about whether of not LDS are Christians.

  18. Tim
    There is no dilema. We beleive we are right and you have some ways to go. The dilema is not on our side.

  19. Um, JLFuller, you are having adventures in missing the point. The dilemma is a wider social phenomenon. It has nothing to do with “sides.” The point you are making is an intellectual bull in a china shop, blundering around in an unw

    For me it is particularly relevant, since my initial reasons for questioning Mormonism (beginning on my mission and continuing down to when I ultimately decided to leave the Church) had to do with what I felt were inconsistencies between Mormon doctrine and New Testament Christianity as I understood it. I was trying to insist that the cross in Tim’s picture fit into the hole, or that it indeed was the hole, metaphorically speaking. Often this led me into disagreements in places like Elders’ Quorum. When I started to think about and look at Christianity outside the Mormon box, Mormonism looked increasingly problematic, until I finally had to conclude that in order to more fully follow Jesus Christ, it was time for me to leave Mormonism behind.

  20. There is no dilemma. We believe we are right and you have some ways to go. The dilemma is not on our side.

    Likewise. Evangelicals believe the same thing about Mormons. Our doctrines are in conflict. Conflict = Dilemma.

  21. Seth. #21: Maybe your comment wasn’t directed to me; if it wasn’t, then please excuse the following comment, which expresses my exasperation at how you misread me.

    “Ask your average Mormon why we don’t display the cross.”

    I’m not making a point about our display of it, and I think that’s one place I’ve been pretty clear. I don’t look at Tim’s image and think, “Oh, that guy has to choose between carrying that cross around or carrying that hole around.” That would make no sense—carrying a hole around. So I see the image as symbolic—“That guy has to choose between what the cross entails and what the hole entails.” My point is that Mormons don’t see a conflict between the two—we accept what the cross and the hole stand for.

    Read my #19—I clearly state:

    “paintings of it”—such as are found in the standard collection of images I bought from the distribution center, and in my illustrated BofM for my kids, and in every LDS chapel’s library

    “talking about it”—such as in LDS manuals, conference talks, with too many references to count

    “seeing it in movies”—such as “The Lamb of God”

    and I could add, “singing about it”—as in every Sunday.

    “Take a poll at an average ward about who would be OK with their son or daughter wearing a cross openly.” This is exactly the point I made in #19, so I really don’t get where you and I disagree.

    “You’ll get a different picture than the one you seem to be painting.” Your proposed poll and my “picture” are unrelated.

  22. Ok…. I get it, and it’s what I thought it was, and I really like it! I totally understand where you are coming from with this! I think people have over analyzed it a bit, I see it as being quite simple. Good job!

    Also I have been away for awhile, and i don’t know if you remember me but I commented a few times before. Anyhow, I was trying some other blogs out, ya know the ones that call mormons names and cast them to hell, well those weren”t working for me (it was very disfunctional!) So I popped in on your blog last night, and I was so pleased to see that you were still here.

    I respect so much what this blog is about!!!!!!!!

  23. I agree with Seth R’s comments that LDS bloggers (certainly those here) may be more comfortable with the cross as a symbol than are LDS in general, who may see the cross as a symbol of non-LDS Christianity. It’s a cultural thing rather than theological.

    I see the cross as a symbol of the Atonement, the central doctrine of the Church. I personally find the symbol too sacred to cacually wear as jewelry, but that’s just I.

    For what it’s worth, “Upon the Cross of Calvary” and “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” are among the songs in the LDS hymnal, and images of the crucifixion are abundant in film and other art produced by the Church. Also, LDS military chaplains wear crosses to identify themselves as Christians.

    All that said, I like the picture.

  24. I like the picture. As a Mormon, I got it. I didn’t see throwing the cross in the hole though. That would be sacrilegious and offensive.

  25. So as a Mormon Most of my life I wasn’t quite sure what the hole was. At first thought you were preparing to bury a small pet or something. I am very familiar with Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates narrative, but never really considered the hole a symbol of the Religion. But the more I think about it the more sense it makes. Mormonism is so young that it many ways lacks solid culturally identifiable symbols. There are angel Moronis, Temples and CTR rings, but as to any thing simple and universally recognizable, like the cross, mormons are still peering through the hole in the doughnut.

  26. I think the picture looks too much like something being dumped in a grave. Rather then the additional hope and understanding that came out of the earth.

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