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H. Dennis Tolley|May 13, 2003 Several years ago I visited an isolated oasis deep in the Gobi Desert in China. Some 80 miles from the nearest town, the oasis was in a small canyon that had been occupied by a handful of Buddhist monks for hundreds of years. In this incredibly isolated spot, the monks could avoid the temptations of the world and focus only on Buddhist teachings. In Latter-day Saint terms, these monks were trying to flee Babylon. Most of us have elected not to dwell in total isolation but to live in the civilized world. This decision requires us to interact daily with the world and to face the challenge of doing business in Babylon even as we attempt to follow the Lord’s command to “go . . . out . . . from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness” (D&C 133:14). Babylon the Great In the scriptures the Lord uses the words Babylon and Zion to refer to two archetypes of our temporal existence.1 Babylon represents the world, and Zion represents the pure in heart. But how did Babylon become the name for the archetypal rival to Zion? The city of Babylon predates Abraham. Located in modern-day southern Iraq, it was a thriving commercial center for more than 17 centuries. At its height it was the capital of a vast empire covering much of the Middle East. In about the fourth century B.C., the splendor and wealth of the city began to fade until, in about the second century A.D., Babylon ceased to exist. By ceased to exist, I mean it disappeared. Only piles of rubble and ruin remained. Until the last century, knowledge of the actual city was preserved only in the Bible and in a few references made by ancient historians. In its prime, Babylon had two features that were, at different times, counted among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—the Hanging Gardens and the city’s great exterior walls.2 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were described as a series of arches arranged in a theater-like manner and ascending to the height of a seven-story building. This construction included 16-foot-long stone beams to bear the weight of the different tiers and a hydraulic system to pump water to the top of the structure, from whence it coursed through the gardens. The stone beams and parts of what scholars believe to be the hydraulic pump system were discovered about 100 years ago.3 The ancient historian Herodotus noted that the walls of Babylon were 335 feet high and 85 feet wide. The walls surrounded an approximately square city with a circumference of about 56 miles, according to Herodotus.4 One could fit BYU, Mapleton, Benjamin, Pleasant Grove, Geneva Steel, and everything in between within the walls described by Herodotus. One could drive two full-sized Hummers side-by-side atop the wall. Scholars today believe that the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar was a walled city the size of New York5 with a population of 250,000 or more.6 S
Hartman Rector Jr.|May 31, 1977 Good morning, my brothers and sisters; it is a great honor and privilege to greet you here this morning in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are met in his name, it is because of him that we are here, and I presume that everything in this life that is really worthwhile comes through the Lord. He has a special program for you and me. It is vitally important that we understand the Lord’s program, for it is calculated to make us happy, which is, of course, the object and design of our existence. “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). That is a collective term—it means woman, too. We are here upon the earth, you and I, to be happy; but if we are not careful we look for happiness in the wrong places. There are those who think that it has to do with accumulation of material wealth, power, or position—and yet these do not make people happy. Happiness has to do with living in obedience to the Lord’s commandments and being thankful for what one has. It does not make any difference how much one has, for he will not be happy unless he is thankful for it. It is, like wealth, very relative. One man who has hardly anything considers himself wealthy, while another man with many material possessions is not happy because he does not think he has anything. It is all in the mind The Lord Jesus Christ has taken upon himself the responsibility to save everyone who will ever be born on this earth. That is a great task, and he has done everything godly possible to bring that to pass, even to taking upon himself the sins of everyone who has ever been born or will be born. And he has broken the bands of death, which means that everyone is going to be resurrected. It will not make any difference whether they want to be or not; they are going to be resurrected anyway. There are going to be a lot of these people resurrected that will not want to be but they are going to get it. So you are going to get it whether you want it or not. You do not have to be good; it is a free gift from the Lord Jesus Christ. In this particular day and time he has given us a program by which we can prepare ourselves for that which is to come, and there are great and momentous occasions ahead of us. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord outlined, “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (D&C 1:17)—because of the calamities that were coming. Prophets in all ages have known that there were going to be calamities coming in this particular day and time. We need to be aware of the fact that we are living in a time of calamity, and we have to be ready for it. There is a great and dreadful day of the Lord ahead. It always seemed to be a little incongruous to call it “great” and “dreadful” at the same time, but as we think about it, it is very simple: It wi
Hortense H. Child|July 29, 1975 It’s a great privilege for me to be here this morning. I am always more thrilled when I am in the presence of the young people of the Church because there is such promise among them, and I am very blessed and feel honored to be on this campus. Summer students, it seems to me, must be rather special. Although tradition is changing, it is rather usual to go to school during fall, winter, and spring. So those who go in hot June, July, and August indicate to me that they are really anxious about an education and are making a serious endeavor. I’m also aware that the great genealogy seminary is being held, and those of you engaged in this betterment of self are among choice people. So I have a great respect for you this morning because I look upon you to be among those who are truly the leaders and anxious to make a contribution to life. What an exciting, wondrous time to live and to learn and to love. Such a day! There is such an outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord, and it is such a wonderful time to be worthy to enjoy and receive the blessings from him. When I mentioned to some of the young people of my family (former BYU students) that I was to have this opportunity, they counseled: “Talk about courtship and marriage—that always turns them on.” I suppose that’s a true statement. It seems to me that courtship and marriage turn on the whole world. I’m not going to talk about courtship and marriage, but what I say could have an effect on your courtship and marriage. And I pray the Lord will help me influence your thoughts and feelings in the way he would have it. A Spirit of Remembrance There is a special spirit of reminiscence in this land today. Call it the bicentennial commemoration of the birth of the nation or whatever. But people young and old are concerning themselves with the past and the heritage and the foundation of this nation. History is being reviewed and dramatized and relearned. The arts of the past are being revived. Lately, old things have become priceless: ten-gallon milk cans, old butter churns, quilts, blacksmith forges. The founding fathers—Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams—are enjoying a popularity. Take for example some of Franklin’s sayings that I’ve heard recently: He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas. God heals and the doctor takes the fee. An empty bag cannot stand upright! We are being brought to a new appreciation of the Lord’s purposes for this nation in that the Constitution of this land was established by wise men raised up for this purpose and this land was redeemed by the shedding of blood. The Challenge of Establishing Zion This movement of relating the past to the present and learning again the reasons for the founding of this nation is timely and has purpose. There is more to it than a commemoration. For in this day a living proph
L. Tom Perry|July 10, 1973 I’m delighted to have this opportunity. Every time I come on this great campus a thrill runs through my soul as I mingle with you great young people. Seems like it’s always a homecoming too. I see so many of you out there—good Bostonians, good New Yorkers. Isn’t it great to have that representation here. I’m sure it influences and sweetens the campus here to have some of that good Eastern blood. As I approach this subject today, you may find it to be a mixture of a businessman’s approach and a churchman’s musings. I think that wherever we find truth it’s our responsibility to uphold it and defend it. I’d like to start by just reading a scripture to you that’s found in the book of Matthew: There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? [Matthew 26:7–8] Now I know in our lives there are times it’s difficult to determine whether it’s a benefit or a waste, but most times the distinction is clearly evident between the two. In the scripture just quoted, the Savior approved of that which was done and blessed the woman who anointed him. However, to his disciples, seeing that costly anointment, it appeared to be a waste. Today I’d like to talk to you about waste. With our ever increasing population and the depletion of our natural resources, our great hope is to become more efficient in utilizing that which the Lord has given to us and in eliminating the waste so prevalent in our society. You see, I’m not very proud of my generation and some of the things that they have done. During the time that our nation has been under the leadership of this generation, I would guess that it’s become the most wasteful in all of the world. I just can’t believe my eyes sometimes as I read the paper and try to understand our approach to solving the problems that beset our nation today. I was very proud of the generation that I belong to until recent years. They appeared to have made some great contributions to mankind. Then, all of a sudden, they seemed to fall apart. After reaching a peak and becoming the richest and most powerful nation on earth, we appear, as they say in business, to have “topped off.” We now find ourselves turning over to your leadership a nation a few ways better but for the most part in a poorer condition than the one which was given to us. I’d like to reminisce for just a few minutes, to see if we can determine what has caused our failures. The Depression and the War My generation had its beginnings during the great depression. We witnessed the concern of our parents as they worried about supplying us with the basic needs of life. We witnessed the waste of inactive people standing in bread lines or leaning on shovels in WPA projects. I remember marveling, as a young m
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