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Operations of the Spirit: Part 5 of 12, Light and a Burning in the Bosom

This is the fifth of twelve parts to an essay entitled
"Operations of the Spirit." The entire essay is 
just over one hundred pages if printed out, so it is 
presented serially in this blog. These parts should 
be read sequentially, because each builds on the previous 
parts. Hopefully, readers will have comments, suggestions 
and criticisms. The twelve parts are as follows: 
I. Introduction, Part I 
II. Confusing Terms, Part II 
III. Metaphors and Meaning, Parts III through VI 
     A. The still small voice, Part III 
     B. The heart and reins, Part IV 
     C. Light and burning, as in a burning in the bosom, Part V 
     D. Extracting meaning from metaphors,, Part VI 
IV. The Scriptures and the Spirit, Parts VII through X 
     A. The Oliver Cowdery revelations: D&C 6, 8 and 9, Part VII 
     B. Other modern-day scriptures, Part VIII 
     C. Ancient scriptures about the Spirit, Part IX 
     D. Extraordinary events, Part X 
V. The Spirit and Individual Affectations, Part XI 
VI. Conclusion, Part XII 

There are footnotes in this work. You can read the footnotes 
by hovering your cursor over the note, or you can click 
on the note to read it as text. There is a symbol at the end 
of each footnote that allows you to return to the text 
by clicking on it.


B. Light and Burning

Thomas A. Edison’s electric light bulb was not invented until 1879 and not perfected with the right type of filament until the early 1880s. The invention of this filament was, putting it in religious terms, inspired.

Although the patent [for the light bulb] described several ways of creating the carbon filament including “cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways”,[footnote omitted] it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered a carbonized bamboo filament that could last over 1,200 hours. The idea of using this particular raw material originated from Edison’s recalling his examination of a few threads from a bamboo fishing pole while relaxing on the shore of Battle Lake in the present-day state of Wyoming, where he and other members of a scientific team had traveled so that they could clearly observe a total eclipse of the sun on July 29, 1878, from the Continental Divide.1

The invention of the light bulb transformed the world from on that was lit only by fire to one where light because available with the flick of a switch. Until Edison, fire was the only way to have light in darkness, so burning something was necessary. Fire was a metaphor for light, and light is a metaphor for knowledge.

Another important metaphor before the invention of the light bulb was a burning in the bosom; in other words, an enlightened mind. (Part IV of this essay addresses the heart as a metaphor for the mind.) Thus, a burning-in-the-bosom is a vehicle for an enlightened mind and should not be interpreted as some sort of emotional or passionate response. It is not a frisson; however, a frisson may attend a particularly enlightening epiphany as a result of an individual putting something together in his or her mind.

This paragraph is repetitious, but this point is worthy of repetition. Giving light to something in darkness necessarily involved a burning in a world lit only by fire, a thought that does not occur to the modern-day reader of this now esotericism, so the vehicle is usually given a literal meaning. The tenor of the bosom metaphor is, as a result, missed: enlightenment of the mind, not an emotional feeling or a passion. The modern reader who does not view this metaphor from the perspective of the torch or flame illuminating what is already in the mind (or the illumination that comes from hearing a new thought that puts things together in the mind) is left to search for the meaning of a vehicle lost in today’s experience; as a result, the intended tenor is detached and lost, and a meaning is incorrectly assumed.

Once more to drive this point home. The modern reader misunderstanding this metaphor will say that this burning in the bosom is a feeling that one will know when he or she feels it. And readers will argue that a frisson they have had is this burning, because they so want to have this feeling. Perhaps, wanting this feeling can even  induce their bodies to release adrenalin to produce this frisson, which confirms to them what they want: a feeling. After all, it is likely that most hear how wonderful the Spirit was at a meeting each Sunday when the one conducting the meeting concludes with, “We have really felt the Spirit here today.” Unfortunately, those who have never had this feeling of a burning in their bosom are left to feel like they do not belong or are less attuned or, sometimes, they just leave the Church because they think this is a requirement for membership.

People may, indeed, have a good feeling about or an emotional response because of what has been said from the pulpit, but that is not necessarily the result of any sort of enlightenment of their minds, and it may not, therefore, be a manifestation of the Spirit. Parts VII through X of this essay will parse what the scriptures say about the manifestation of the Spirit.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison#Electric_power_distribution (accessed November 18, 2013).

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