Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (5)

Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (5)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 21, 2010

The source of these questions and answers can be found in the first installment of this series. It bears repeating for newcomers that the person(s) answering these questions is/are not identified, and that the answers given here are not necessarily current teaching. The chief value of these columns today is in seeing what issues were on the minds of ordinary Church members 60 years ago, and in noting what has changed since then, or what issues we consider modern concerns were being discussed that long ago.

Q. What does our Church teach regarding guardian angels? Does each person have one? – D.A.M., Provo.

A. Pres. Joseph F. Smith was speaking at one time regarding the visitation of angels to human beings on earth and among other things he said this, as may be found on page 436 of the book called “Gospel Doctrine”: “In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends who have passed away from earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given to them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth bringing from the divine presence messages of love, of warning or reproof, and instruction, to those whom they have learned to love in the flesh. And so it is with Mrs. Cannon. She can return and visit her friends provided it be in accordance with the wisdom of the Almighty. There are laws to which they who are in the paradise of God must be subject, as well as laws to which we are subject. it is our duty to make ourselves acquainted with those laws that we may know how to live in harmony with his will while we dwell in the flesh that we may be entitled to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection clothed with glory, immortality, and eternal lives.” President John Taylor is quoted on page 131 of the book entitled “Gospel Kingdom” as saying, “The angels are watchmen, for Satan said to Jesus: ‘He shall give his angels charge concerning thee and they shall bear thee up lest at any time thou shalt dash thy foot against a stone.’ It would seem from a careful perusal of the scriptures that the angels, while God has Saints upon the earth, stay in this lower world to ward off evil … The action of the angels or messengers of God upon our minds so that the heart can perceive things past, present, and to come, and revelations from the eternal world is among a majority of mankind a greater mystery than all the secrets of philosophy, literature, supervision, and bigotry put together. Although some men try to deny it and try to explain away the meaning, still there is so much testimony in the Bible and among a respectable portion of the world that one might as well undertake to throw the water out of this world to the moon with a teaspoon as to do away with the supervision of angels upon the human mind.” Brigham Young on page 41 on the last edition of “The Discourses of Brigham Young” says “The Lord is here with us not in person but His angels are around us and He takes cognizance of every act of the children of men as individuals and as nations. He is here ready by His agents, the angels, and the power of His holy spirit and priesthood, which He has restored in these last days to bring most perfect and absolute deliverance unto all who put their trust in Him, when they are ready to receive it.”

Q. How and when did the Prophet Joseph Smith obtain the small plates of Nephi from which he translated the 116 pages lost by Martin Harris? – G.W.E., Ogden, Utah.

A. Those plates were a part of the original volume of gold plates given to Joseph Smith. He was only given one set of plates. They included the writings of Nephi.

Q. If a man and woman are married under the civil law and not in the temple, and the husband dies, is it permissible for the wife to go to the temple and be sealed to the dead husband? – L.L., Gunnison, Utah.

A. Yes, providing she is worthy and providing the man has lived the kind of life that would not make him unfit to receive the ordinances vicariously.

Q. Will the City of New Jerusalem be built before or after the Second Coming of Christ?

A. The city will be built before the coming of the Lord. it will be built during a time of warfare and great wickedness which shall precede the coming of the Lord and the Millennium. it will be a place of refuge and the glory of the Lord as well as the house of the Lord will be there and all who will not take up a sword against his neighbour must flee to it for safety. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:54 to 75; 84:4 and 5.)

Q. What is the attitude of the Church regarding a member marrying a non-member? – A Serviceman, Los Angeles, California.

A. The Lord spoke to His people anciently on this subject, told them not to marry non-believers, and gave them His reason as follows: “Neither shalt thou make marriage with them, thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and destroy them suddenly.” (Deuteronomy 7:3.) The Church still teaches that we should marry after our own kind, and for the same reason outlined by the Lord in the above passage of scripture.

Q. What is the difference between excommunication and disfellowship? – M.C.L., Salt Lake City.

A. If a person is excommunicated, he loses his membership in the Church entirely. When disfellowshiped a person retains his membership but is not permitted to officiate in any of the ordinances of the Church.

Q. Does every person entering the Celestial glory have to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood? – J.C., Denver, Colorado.

A. No. Women of course hold no priesthood, and yet worthy women will enter that glory. Recall that there are three subdivisions within the celestial kingdom. We understand that a man who has been baptized and confirmed only, but is otherwise worthy, can enter the celestial kingdom, but he cannot advance to the point of exaltation within that kingdom without the Melchizedek priesthood. (See D. and C. 76:57.)

Q. To what extent has the Gospel been taught to the Jews? – H.G.P., Murray, Utah.

A. Only in a small apart. Prior to the war the Palestine-Syrian Mission did some work among the citizens of that area. Jews have been taught the gospel in New York, especially was this done in the days of B.H. Roberts’ presidency of the Eastern States Mission. President Roberts preached to then, and published articles, by invitation, in Jewish publications, giving L.D.S. evidence of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. These articles were later put in book form and published under the name of Rasha the Jew. Jewish people in many parts of the world have been attracted by the work of our missionaries and some have joined the Church, both in this country and abroad. however, the time when the Gospel is to be taken from the Gentiles and given to the Jews in fulfillment of prophecy, has not yet come. When it does come the Lord will make it known through the President of the Church.

Q. One of my friends in the service told me there are three subdivisions within the Celestial Kingdom. Is that right? I understood there were three degrees of glory, and that the Celestial was one of them. – J.M., Salt Lake City.

A. There are three degrees of glory, known as the celestial (highest degree), the terrestrial (middle degree) and the telestial, or lower degree. However, the celestial kingdom is subdivided. Those who are to be exalted must qualify to enter the highest division of the celestial kingdom, which requires complete compliance with all of the principles of the Gospel. (See Doctrine and Covenants 131.) If you will read Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, you will see some interesting scripture on the subject of the relationship of the resurrection to these degrees of glory.

Q. Are there people on other planets besides the earth and the people who have gone to paradise? – H.L.C., Salt Lake City.

A. We do believe that other world are inhabited by the children of god. Scriptural proof of this may be found in the Doctrine and covenants, 76th section, 24th verse, which reads as follows:

“That by Him and through Him, and of Him the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

Q. Has there been a literal descendant of Aaron in the Church since its organization? – N.C.T., New Mexico.

A. None who have claimed and been given the bishopric without counselors, as mentioned in Doc. & Cov. 107:76, to which you seem to refer.



  1. Interesting answer about the sealing to the deceased husband:

    “providing the man has lived the kind of life that would not make him unfit to receive the ordinances vicariously.”

    That’s a new one. Imagine how busy bishops would be if they had to issue temple recommends to the dead!

    And, what’s happened to our speech? I think general conference would be a lot more interesting if the talks were sprinkled with statements like this:

    one might as well undertake to throw the water out of this world to the moon with a teaspoon

    Comment by Mark B. — September 21, 2010 @ 7:32 am

  2. Does the statement, “These articles were later put in book form and published under the name of Rasha the Jew,” mean the publisher claimed the articles were written by “Rasha the Jew” or that the collection was titled “Rasha the Jew”? If the former, that seems rather duplicitous.

    Comment by Dane — September 21, 2010 @ 8:59 am

  3. I think a few seconds search with your friend Google would have put your mind at ease, Dane, and you wouldn’t have had to raise the bloody shirt of duplicitousness.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 21, 2010 @ 9:17 am

  4. I had hoped to find “Rasha–the Jew” on GoogleBooks, but it doesn’t seem to be there, although, as Mark says, there are references to the pamphlet under that title.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 21, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  5. Interesting to me is the answer about the building of the New Jerusalem, where the writer says:

    It will be built during a time of warfare and great wickedness which shall precede the coming of the Lord and the Millennium

    I’ve just started reading Thomas Alexander’s biography of Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff was a confirmed believer in an imminent time of turmoil and that the saints had to gather for protection, and it was a major part of his missionary efforts in Maine in 1837, and in his subsequent mission with the Twelve to England. Woodruff grieved in particular for the Saints in Maine who did not heed the call to move West to Missouri. Coincidentally, because of delays in departure and winter weather, those who did follow, including Woodruff himself, missed the whole expulsion from Missouri.

    We don’t hear much about it now, but the pre-millennial tribulation was still very much a topic in the 1950s, as shown here, and also taught to me in the early 1960s. It just seems to keep receding further into the future as time goes on.

    Comment by kevinf — September 21, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  6. The answer about the Jews makes me think it is not Joseph Fielding Smith writing, as it deviates somewhat from his Signs of the Times.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 21, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  7. I think it might be Mark E. Petersen, but that’s based on his position with the Church News rather than on internal evidence, like yours re JFSjr.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 21, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  8. Okay, I challenge the keepa-ninnies to find a copy, scan it and OCR it. And if the copyright is expired, post it online, and then let’s get it submitted to both Google books, and Project Gutenberg.

    And even if the copyright is not expired, Des News Press might still give clearance to release the image and the text for non-commercial use.

    Comment by Bookslinger — September 21, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  9. I second the challenge of Bookslinger. :-)

    Comment by Tod Robbins — September 22, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  10. All in favor of assigning Bookslinger and Tod Robbins to this project?

    Looks like the voting is unanimous. : )

    From a glance at WorldCat, it looks like the book exists in two forms. The first might be a brochure and is only available in the BYU library. It was published in New York in 1926 by The Redeemed Hebrew Mission.

    The second was published by Deseret News Press in Salt Lake City in 1932, is 156 pages, and seems to be available at about 20 university libraries in the United States.

    Comment by Researcher — September 22, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  11. Are there people on other planets besides the earth?

    Q. Are there people that write fictional accounts about them?

    A. Yes.

    Comment by Eliezer — September 22, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

  12. Researcher, I checked WorldCat. There’s no copy in Indianapolis. Nearest is Cleveland Public Library. And it’s copyrighted 1932.

    Others are at:

    Community of Christ library in Independence, MO.
    Lib of Congress, Wash, DC.
    Univ of Pennsylvania lib, Phila, PA.
    Princeton Univ lib, Princeton, NJ.
    New York Public Lib, NYC, NY.
    Harold B. Lee Lib, Provo, UT.
    Yale Univ, Sterling Mem Lib, New Haven CT.
    BYU-I, David O McKay Lib, Rexburg, ID.
    SLC Pub lib, SLC, UT.
    U of Utah, J Willard Marriot Lib, SLC, UT.

    Tod, are you Provo?

    And, what’s the current status of something copyrighted in 1932? When does it go into public domain if the copyright wasn’t renewed?

    Comment by Bookslinger — September 22, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  13. According to this:

    and this:

    something published in 1932 is now in public domain unless the copyright was renewed.

    IRI is meticulous, but I doubt DesNews would have renewed the copyright. Let’s go for it.

    Comment by Bookslinger — September 22, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  14. Looks as if I have one more reason to take the subway into 42nd Street to spend some time at the library. Anyone care to join me? We could meet at the south lion.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 23, 2010 @ 5:35 am

  15. Mark B:

    Hold off. It’s already in electronic form at Gospel Link. Deseret Book has it’s own electronic edition copyrighted.

    Maybe one of you lawyers can clear up something for me.

    If the original was published in 1932, that means it would have passed into the public domain 28 years later, in 1960, unless Deseret News renewed the copyright in calendar year 1960: not before 1960, and not after 1960, but during calendar year 1960.

    And, once something passes into the public domain, it generally can not be reclaimed into copyrighted status.

    If I understand correctly, Deseret _Book_ may rightfully claim a “compilation copyright” on it’s unique electronic edition that it constructed out of the original. But as I understand it, that only prevents others from making duplicates of that particular electronic edition.

    Therefore, if i understand correctly, a new scan and a new OCR-ing (or a textual transcription) of an original hard-copy edition would not violate the copyright of Deseret Book’s electronic edition (as long as the original hard-copy edition did not have it’s copyright renewed in 1960.)

    Is my analysis and summary correct?

    Comment by Bookslinger — September 23, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  16. In case it matters, B.H. Roberts was the copyright holder according to the verso of the title page; Deseret News Press was merely the hired press.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 23, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  17. Ardis: that’s interesting. On Gospel Link, Des Book currently says the 1932 copyright belongs to Des Book. Now I wonder if B.H. Roberts transferred ownership of the copyright to Deseret News(/Book) and if Deseret News(/Book) (or Roberts’ heirs, if he didn’t transfer ownership) renewed the copyright in 1960 (the 28th year).

    Renewing the copyright _precisely_ in 1960 would have been essential for it to _not_ have passed into public domain.

    Now, if Rasha the Jew did pass into public domain in 1960, it would be legal to photocopy/scan a hard-copy of it, but it would still be illegal to make a copy of it from Gospel Link.

    It would “be nice” if the public domain items in Gospel Link could be made available free online without having to pay Deseret Book their ongoing fees.

    However, I do acknowledge Deseret Book’s copyright of their particular electronic Gospel Link edition of those works, which I think is called a “derivative”. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) Therefore, if the original is now in the public domain, a new scan/OCR/transcribe would have to be done to stay legal, and NOT merely copying/pasting the electronic text from Gospel Link.

    The same holds true of e-texts of other public domain works, such as the Project Gutenberg library. If you make a copy of PG’s e-text, you are legally obligated to include PG’s notices that they include with each work. But if you start with a public domain source of the work, and make your own electronic copy, you’re safe.

    Eh, I should have gone to law school.

    Comment by Bookslinger — September 23, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

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