Illustrated Second Edition of The Consolation
5 October 2022 (updated 7 August 2023)
Today, I’ve lived as many days as my father had lived when he died from cancer. And I’m celebrating by publishing an illustrated second edition of The Consolation.
On 7 April 1844, less than three months before his assassination, Joseph Smith spoke to thousands of fellow Mormons gathered in Nauvoo, Illinois, for a general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Responding to the accidental death of city constable King Follett, Joseph addressed the subjects of resurrection and deification, in what many Mormons esteem as his culminating theological statement and literary critic Harold Bloom has assessed as “one of the truly remarkable sermons ever preached in America.”
In 2011, as a tribute to and in reverence of Joseph’s words, I composed an interpretive variation on his sermon. And I dedicated its delivery, at the 2012 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, to the memory of my father and other deceased friends. The initial composition, a recording of the conference delivery, and the published first edition are all available online.
The second edition of The Consolation has three types of changes. First, there are adjustments to the flow of some sentences and paragraphs. Second, there are some words exchanged for what I now consider to be improvements, such as “superhuman” instead of “posthuman.” And most notably, third, there are now illustrations, which I created with assistance from artificial intelligence.
As a preview, I shared the illustrations and some related thoughts on social media. The response was enthusiastic. So I decided to gather them together into one place here, to share again with you.
On 5 October, I’ll be as old as my father when he died from cancer. And I’m celebrating by publishing an illustrated edition of The Consolation, a sermon about creation and resurrection that I originally dedicated to him. This is an illustration from the book — “After Nauvoo.”
Wind of Science
“For many years, the howling wind of science has been blowing superstition and brutality from humanity.” “Wind of Science” will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation, which I’m publishing soon in memory of my father.
One theme that I explore in The Consolation is the evolution of religion. My father’s death and memory played pivotal roles in my own religious life, into atheism and back to faith. This is “Dogmatic Pews” from the soon-to-be-released illustrated edition.
My father taught me, as a child, the idea that God can speak through all of us – the idea that the prophetic calling is universal. This is “All Prophets,” which will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation.
How God Began
“God was once like us.” A major theme of The Consolation is humanity’s relationship with God, projected into our common origins and shared potentials. “How God Began” will appear in the illustrated edition, soon to be published in memory of my father.
My father often told me that he hoped I would do greater things than he had done. And he taught me that God hoped the same for all, grace by grace from a small capacity to a great one. This is “Eternal Progression” from the illustrated edition of The Consolation, coming soon.
Prototype of Christ
When you think of Jesus, do you think of someone different, like whom we can’t really be? Or do you think of someone like whom we can and should be? The Consolation explores the difference, and includes this illustration, “Prototype of Christ.”
Creation beyond ourselves, creation of new creators: in Mormonism, this is the highest aspiration, exemplified by God’s work to empower humanity. We share in that work by empowering our children. This is “Spirit Children,” from the upcoming illustrated edition of The Consolation.
My father was a computer scientist long before it was popular. So I learned to program young. That, combined with eventual interest in philosophy, set me up to be persuaded that we live in a computed world. This is “Computed Thinker” from The Consolation, soon to be published.
Amidst our hope, we should keep in mind the risk and its ramifications. We have work to do. And if we succeed, we almost certainly won’t be the first or only to succeed. This is “Great Filter” from the illustrated edition of The Consolation, to be published on 5 October.
Tree of Knowledge
Life can be beautiful. But the experience has risk. Knowledge always comes with a price. And, as was ultimately the case with my father’s cancer, some experience becomes worse than death. This is “Tree of Knowledge,” which will be published in The Consolation on 5 October.
A feature of Mormon theology that ties together God and humanity is the rejection of creation ex nihilo. In other words, God created the world from something rather than nothing. “Without Beginning” will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation on 5 October.
Creation of a mind, whether natural or artificial, always entails the reorganization of pre-existing matter and information. It has something in common with transfiguration and resurrection. This is “Conception,” from the soon-to-release illustrated edition of The Consolation.
My father died of cancer 24 years ago on 1 October. On 5 October, I’ll be as old as he was. Joseph Smith said that leadership requires minds to stretch to both the “utmost heavens” and the “darkest abyss.” This is “Thy Mind,” which will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation.
Joseph Smith compared the human mind to a ring, without beginning or end. God can organize a body for a mind, he claimed, but cannot create a mind from nothing. Neither can a mind be annihilated. This is “Eternal Round,” which will appear in The Consolation on 5 October.
Worlds Without End
Without beginning, Gods found themselves making worlds without end. This is the expansive vision of creative potential that my father and his ancestors handed down to me. “Worlds Without End” will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation on 5 October.
A major theme of The Consolation is the possibility of human transformation, beyond present notions of poverty, enmity, and death. “Transfiguration” appears in the illustrated edition, to be published on 5 October.
Their Name Adam
Adam is many, male and female, all of humanity. This is an interpretive key that unlocks a new paradigm of scriptural understanding, with much deeper practical application. “Their Name Adam” appears in the illustrated edition of The Consolation, coming on 5 October!
This is “Resurrection” from the illustrated edition of The Consolation, which will be published in memory of my father on 5 October. To some, it sounds crazy. But there can be a bold practicality to faith in resurrection, to actual work toward Jesus’ command to raise the dead.
What if we could reach through time and space to remember – to reconstruct in detail – the history of cosmos, our world, and even the brains and bodies of our ancestors? This is “Quantum Archeology,” which appears in the illustrated edition of The Consolation. Coming soon!
Mother of Gods
Imagine a superhuman mother, a creator of creators. One of the most sublime ideas that I inherited from my parents and ancestors is that of heavenly mother – the divine potential of women. This is “Mother of Gods,” which will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation.
What if the star nearest the abode of God is actually inside the abode of God? Such would be the case if the abode of God is a Dyson sphere. This is “Engineering Kolob,” which will appear in the illustrated edition of The Consolation on 5 October!
Tree of Life
In Mormon theology, the tree of life is not so much a final destination. It’s more of a way of life, at-one-ment, eternal life, the kind of life that God lives – still eternal progression. This is “Tree of Life,” which will appear in The Consolation on 5 October!
Share the Inspiration
I hope you’re inspired by these ideas, both conceptual and visual. They’ve been nothing short of transformative in my life. And I’ve observed them function similarly in the lives of many friends and family members.
The illustrated second edition of The Consolation: An Interpretive Variation on the Last General Conference Sermon of Joseph Smith is now available for purchase online at this link. It’s a hardcover book with approximately 80 pages. The text is printed in a large 16-point font. And there are full-color full-page illustrations on every third page.
If you were already familiar with the sermon, you’ll know that it’s devotional in style. The illustrations add to that feeling. I’ve already read through the illustrated edition multiple times, including out loud in a room by myself. It’s an emotional experience.
Please buy a copy for yourself. And please buy copies to share as gifts to your friends and family. If your budget doesn’t permit, let me know. Thank you so much for supporting my work!