Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nephi and the Kabbalistic “Four Worlds” of Human Consciousness

In the opening verses of the Book of Mormon, Nephi gives an intriguing four-fold reference:

1. I make a record of my proceedings in my days
2. I make a record in the language of my father
3. I make it with mine own hand
4. I make it according to my knowledge

These descriptions of Nephi’s record are reminiscent of the Kabbalistic “Four Worlds,” exhibited in Isaiah 43:7, "Every one that is called by My name and for My glory (atziluth "emanation/nearness"), I have created (beriah "creation"), I have formed (yetzirah "formation"), even I have made (asiyah "action"). This describes the creative power of God, which descends through the four Kabbalistic worlds. As well as the functional role each World has in the process of Creation, they also embody dimensions of consciousness within human experience.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Sacred Embrace as Five Points of Fellowship

I often lament that modern Mormonism has lost portions of its early history. While some of these forms and concepts are best consigned to the trash-bin, others are sorely missed. I believe that there are traditions from our nineteenth-century past which have lost their significance because there has been a lack of understanding about their religious symbolism.

Many older members of the Church and students of LDS history will recall the "Five Points of Fellowship," which was a part of Mormon liturgy up until the last two decades. This was an important emblematic ritual -- a sacred embrace which preceded entering into the presence of the Lord through the veil. Because this symbolic rite had its origins in Nauvoo-era Freemasonry, there is much we can learn about the meaning behind the symbol from Masonic writings. But I don't believe these understandings were ever carried over into LDS discourse.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

4-Month Bell's Palsy Update

It's been about 4 months of Bell's Palsy and I want to put another update up here. The biggest thing I notice about my face that still hasn't cleared up is that I can't squeeze my right eye shut tight like I can my left. This bothers me a little bit, mostly when swimming without goggles on. When I laugh, I can't feel it, but the left side is a bit more squinty than the right. You can see it in this picture:


The past few weeks I have been feeling some twitchiness in the BP side, and a little tightness in the muscles. I am hoping this means more healing is taking place... I noticed when I close my mouth tight there is a lumpiness in my chin, I'm using muscles there that I never used before. I'm trying to remember to relax my chin when I close my mouth. My mouth is sometimes symmetrical and sometimes crooked. Both corners of the mouth work, but not always in unison. I think when I'm tired, the BP side doesn't cooperate as well. Here's what it looks like when crooked. (The BP side of the mouth is actually bigger here.)If I look in the mirror or concentrate on it, I have no problem making both sides look the same.


I haven't been doing facial exercises, and I think I should do them again for a few weeks and see if I can get to 100% recovery. All in all I am very happy with how things are going!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Easter Ode

If you've read this blog for many years you know that I love to attend Easter services. Today I went to the Old Fort Baptist Church nearby for their morning service. I enjoyed watching their reenactment of Christ's resurrection (a short clip of the passion play they've been presenting this week), singing their modern worship songs, and listening to their fiery pastor. During the sermon, he said that there is a time and a place for reverence, but that this day is not one of them. I can't imagine a Mormon ever saying that about Easter Sunday. In fact, it inspired me to write a poem, which I titled: To the Virgins and High Priests of the Second Ward: An Easter Message.


I am pleased to note that Church with the Mormons this afternoon did not suck. There was some nice music by the choir, a Primary class did bells to "He Died that we might Live Again," (yeah, that was my class), and the closing talk on Resurrection was wonderful. The first talk was on the Atonement, and I'm glad we didn't spend the whole time on that subject. Though I think it's necessary to talk about the death of Christ at Easter, I like the emphasis to be on the risen Christ and the joy in such an event! (and, come on, we have all heard the story of the boy who took the whipping for the kid who stole his lunch...)

I can never get enough of the music, the pageantry, and the poetry that is Easter. Kristine has given some wonderful musical links for the day, Lynette compiled some Easter theology, and I will leave you with one more poem before you end your Resurrection Day. 

Drawing: "Violets" by Veronica Lawlor
An Easter Ode
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

To the cold, dark grave they go
Silently and sad and slow,
From the light of happy skies
And the glance of mortal eyes.
In their beds the violets spring,
And the brook flows murmuring;
But at eve the violets die,
And the brook in the sand runs dry.

In the rosy, blushing morn,
See, the smiling babe is born;
For a day it lives, and then
Breathes its short life out again.
And anon gaunt-visaged Death,
With his keen and icy breath,
Bloweth out the vital fire
In the hoary-headed sire.

Heeding not the children's wail,
Fathers droop and mothers fail;
Sinking sadly from each other,
Sister parts from loving brother.
All the land is filled with wailing,
Sounds of mourning garments trailing,
With their sad portent imbued,
Making melody subdued.

But in all this depth of woe
This consoling truth we know:
There will come a time of rain,
And the brook will flow again;
Where the violet fell, 'twill grow,
When the sun has chased the snow.
See in this the lesson plain,
Mortal man shall rise again.

Well the prophecy was kept;
Christ "first fruit of them that slept"
Rose with vic'try-circled brow;
So, believing one, shalt thou.
Ah! but there shall come a day
When, unhampered by this clay,
Souls shall rise to life newborn
On that resurrection morn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eye Roll

This is going to be TMI for some of you...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Progress Report and Introspection

This is my one-month report. I am amazed at how well my recovery from Bell's palsy has gone. My right eyebrow and forehead work almost the same as they always have. (Downside is, I've lost the Botox effect, and my forehead wrinkles are back.) My eye closes and doesn't dry out at night. The blink reflex is back, but I can't squeeze my eye shut tightly, and the undereye muscles are still weak. My smile looks

Monday, March 7, 2011

Busted!

I'm well enough that I can "fake" normalcy when I go out in public for short periods. So I thought I was going to get away without telling the whole ward that I was incapacitated. I did tell my Primary class, because it was very obvious the Sunday after I got Bell's Palsy. But then we had Stake Conference and I didn't go, and after that my face was beginning to look better. Friday my daughter and I went to visit a lady in our neighborhood who just had a baby and we dropped off a fruit basket. We were just about to leave, and DD made an ill-considered remark about me having Bell's Palsy. I was rather annoyed. Just after we visited, the compassionate service leader came by, to bring dinner in to the family with the new baby. That's when the Mormon grapevine went to work. So, today at Church I had to discuss my affliction with sundry people and put on a cheery attitude. GRRRRR. Also, the Bishop sent me a little message on my Facebook expressing condolences and asking if he could do anything to help. I know everyone means well. And they are very kind. There just isn't anything they can really do to "serve" me at this time. I'm probably being overly sensitive. But if they don't want anything to do with me on a regular basis, I don't really want them coming around me when I'm at my worst. Does that make any sense at all?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Do Mormons Need a "Nostra Aetate" of Their Own?

In 1965 the Second Vatican Council produced a declaration on the relation of the Catholic church with non-Christian religions. In this document, "Nostra Aetate" (In Our Age), the Catholic Church revolutionized its relations with Jews by saying Christ's death could not be attributed to Jews as a whole at the time or today.

A forthcoming book by Pope Benedict XVI supports and furthers this doctrine. In the second volume of “Jesus of Nazareth”, which will be released by Ignatius Press on March 10, the Pope explains that although scripture has the Jewish crowd shouting, “Let his blood be on us and on our children,” as they demand that Pilate execute Jesus, the crowd should be read to represent all humanity. News sources are hailing this excitedly with headlines like: "Pope Exonerates Jews..." and "Pope Absolves Jews..." For the interest of FPR readers, I am going to include a lengthy excerpt from the book, which has been released as a "trailer" from the publishers. Pertinent information to this post is italicized.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Advantages of Bell's Palsy?

Day 16. I'm feeling much better about my face today. Now that there is a little more tone on the right side, it doesn't droop so much. Even though everything is still crooked, I can live with it. The only think I really, really need to improve is the muscles surrounding my eye. It is inconvenient and painful that I can't shut my eye tightly. On Tuesday I went to the beach for a couple of hours, just to walk up and down in the sand. It was very windy, and even though I had sunglasses on it was uncomfortable to have it blowing in my eye.

If I rack my brain, I can even think of some of the advantages of having Bell's Palsy! (Pictures after the jump...)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Showing My Face

It's true that when I first came down with Bell's Palsy (14 days ago!), I felt like crawling in a hole. I wanted to climb into bed and not get up until I was back to normal, if, indeed, I ever DID recover fully. I did have that option, and I seriously considered it. Dr. B. told me I didn't have to work any more. My job has always been a little extra something on the side, not really necessary to the maintenance of our family. I could have gotten someone else to teach my Primary class, and I didn't even have to let my online friends know about it. There were several reasons I decided to "show my face."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bell's Palsy Photo Shoot

The other night my friend saw my Bell's Palsy photos here; and she said, "Honey, you could have at LEAST combed your hair!" So I pulled myself together, and had my daughter do a photo shoot in the back yard. I'm glad I had these done. Hopefully  it will soon all be a distant memory, and I'll only have these to remind me that I really couldn't move one whole side of my face.

I have to say that these are the best online photos I've seen of a Bell's palsy patient -- including the ones of George Clooney!








Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sweet Painfulness

I'm starting to feel more pain in my face and especially right around my ear. It hasn't been too bad, because it feels sort of like when you work out a lot and the next day your muscles are sore. It feels like a good pain to have. But right at night when I'm trying to go to sleep it gets a little too intense, so it bothers me. I'm hoping that it means the nerve is trying to heal. I also had some more little tremors.

I read somewhere

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Priesthood Blessing and Rationalism

I think my face looks a little bit better today, but maybe it's just because I've stopped wailing and crying over it so much. Amazing how the puffiness tends to go down when that happens! I can't notice any movement or improvement, though.

I found that it is WAY easier to torture myself and punish my body than it is to merely rest. Today I spent quite a while in the pool perfecting my flip turn. I swam a nice slow mile yesterday and today, and figured out how to flip with a mouth full of water. Since my mouth won't form a seal,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Progression and Treatment of Bell's Palsy

I want to document how I am treating this condition and how it progresses, so I'm just going to throw it up in this post. I will add to it periodically.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiding Behind the Hymn Book

You really are invisible when you teach Primary. I was never so glad of the fact as I was this week. We got to Church just as the opening song was being sung, and sat in the overflow. No one noticed me, and I went right to my Primary class after Sacrament Meeting. I took the first few minutes to explain to the kids (11-year-olds) why my face might look a little strange, and told them that hopefully it was temporary and they could pray for me if they wanted. Then we launched right in to the lesson. Near the end of class we had brownies to celebrate the 12-year-old birthday of a boy who is THRILLED to be getting the priesthood. Then I went home a little early, leaving my class to their own devices in Sharing Time. I don't think I permanently scarred any of them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fight or Float?

My supervisor has persuaded me to teach Saturday swim lessons, since there is no one else available to do the parent/infant classes. I'm going to take a 2 week break on the weekday classes. The session started today, though; so I found myself having to explain to a whole new crop of parents why I look so strange and my speech is a bit blurred. They take it well, I seem upbeat and in control, but it kills me inside.

After the lessons, I taught myself to swim with a paralyzed face. It is not so easy.

Just Another Wal-Mart Lovely

Friday: My first grocery shopping expedition since BP. I put on my big, big sunglasses and my game face. I drove my son to school. Then, since I was out, and we had no food in the fridge, and we had a paycheck in the bank, I stopped by WalMart. No shopping list, but I'd just pick up a few things.

First I got the essentials: toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap. I looked for some sheer white curtain panels, but no luck. I smelled all the candles. I tried on 5 tops, sizes small, medium, large, x-large and xx large. I ended up being the same size I always am. I started in on the food. We needed staples, school lunches, a week's worth of dinners. I did fine on staples. I got through eggs, milk, bread, cereal. When it came to school lunches I started buying things I usually don't allow my kids to eat. Pudding cups, oatmeal pies, nutty bars, all prepackaged and junky and easy-looking. Then I randomly selected things to go into the cart. Feta cheese (with no idea what I was going to do with it). Blueberries. Chocolate frosting. Five loaves of day-old sliced Italian bread for 96c each. I was exhausted, I had to leave, NOW, and I still didn't have anything for dinners. I threw 5 packages of frozen burritos in the cart and checked out. The bill was $375.

When I got to the car, I put my seatbelt on. I drove home with my hand over that eye, under the sunglasses.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Solemn Vow in Jeopardy

When I finished having my 8 children, I had gained a bit of weight! One summer day I had a difficult time when getting ready to take the kiddos to the pool. I love water sports more than anything. I adore swimming, sailing, water skiing, kayaking, sailing, whitewater canoeing, anything in and around the water. But that day I didn't want to appear in public in a bathing suit. It took some courage to put it on, and I made a promise to myself at that moment. I made a solemn vow that I would never let my appearance stop me from doing something I loved.

A Lovely Sight

I'm still deep in the throes of self-absorption. There's a lot that I want to thrash out, but I'll have to do it a little at a time.

By the time I got my CT scan results and blood work and the doctor had given me the OK to go back to work, I had only missed one day (Tuesday). I was so emotionally exhausted I wasn't sure I was ready to go back, but I felt guilty because no one was really available to teach my swim lessons. Wednesday I was scheduled for lifeguarding from 12 to 3 at the therapy pool and then lessons from 3 to 6:30. My daughter said that you couldn't really tell by looking at me that anything was wrong. So I tried it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Will Rage

The phrase on the site on Bell's Palsy that grabbed me the most was this:

Friends, family and doctors often have no true concept of how deeply the patient's sense of self and self-esteem is affected. 
I know there are a lot of people who are suffering worse than I am. I'm not in pain, my life isn't threatened, I have every hope for recovery. But yes, my sense of self has been affected. And this is the place I'm going to say all those things I shouldn't be thinking, shouldn't be saying. I'm going to cry and rage and get it all out.

You can read it and say something, if you want -- or not.
I don't really care.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thorn in the Flesh

Bell's Palsy.

There, it's out. You might have an inkling of how difficult this is for me. I've had a phobia about aging that's grown steadily the past few years. I rage against it, I ignore it, I try to put it off. Fortuitously, my medical history has been sound. If I ever do get a cold, I treat it with Vitamin C and a brisk jog. I don't admit to backaches. I've only been to the hospital for wisdom teeth and childbirth -- and several of my children were born at home.

So on Monday when I suddenly noticed that half my face was paralyzed, I freaked out. I didn't want to entertain the word "stroke." That was something that happened to old people, and I wouldn't let it happen to me. "Maybe I'm just tired," I thought, "and if I go to sleep, in the morning it will be better."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

John the Baptist: Typology and Fulfillment

originally posted at FPR

I  recently read an essay by James M. Hamilton which has refined my perception of typology in the Old Testament and which I would like to discuss in regards to John the Baptist and the gospel of Matthew. As we know, Matthew presents a series of at least 16 Old Testament prophecies which he declares are fulfilled in the events surrounding the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus of Nazareth. A representative few of these prophecies are as follows:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whale Sounds are so Sad

This isn't reflective of me, really; except I'm a little blue, I have a lot of friends who are breaking up, and I heard a whale song today. It's the most mournful sound I can imagine. It really pricked my heart, so I wrote this:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snopes, Saints, and Santa

Recently I received a phone call from Sam's Club in which I was informed that through a store promotional I had won six months worth of free gas for my car.  I was thrilled at the news and listened eagerly as the representative explained the details of my winnings.  Ten minutes into the call, as part of the information needed to complete the transaction, I was asked for my credit card number. "Dang!" I exclaimed.  "And I TOTALLY thought you were for real! How disappointing."  Laughing, the man hung up.

A skeptical generation, we have been taught to disbelieve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scylla and Charybdis, Mingled with Scripture

According to ancient Greek myth, Scylla was a creature who was rooted to one spot in the ocean, and regularly ate sailors who passed by too closely. Her appearance has varied in classical literature; she was described by Homer in The Odyssey as having six heads perched on long necks along with twelve feet, while in Ovid's Metamorphoses, she was depicted as having the upper body of a nymph, with her mid section composed of dog's heads. Across a narrow strait from this fearsome nymph dwelt Charybdis, the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. She was depicted with a single gaping mouth that sucked in huge quantities of water, and belched them out three times a day, creating whirlpools.