Sunday, January 31, 2010

Virgins and White Raisins

Those of us who have studied ancient Middle Eastern languages know how difficult it is to arrive at an exact translation of ancient texts.  There are several words in the Hebrew Bible which are used only once and which have no modern counterpart.  Even after making such efforts as comparing them to Akkadian, or examining numerical clues, they remain a puzzle.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Short Stay in Hell

Can you imagine a worse hell for a Mormon than to wake up on the Other Side and to realize we were wrong about EVERYTHING? No three degrees of glory, no families are forever, no anthropomorphic God--not even an outer darkness as we picture it. That's what happens in Steven L. Peck's provocative, self-published novella, A Short Stay in Hell.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why I Want to Live the United Order

OT SS Lesson #5 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
I have often thought that had I not joined the Church at age 19 I would have liked to have joined a kibbutz in Israel, or to have lived on “the Farm” in Tennessee (back when it was more hippie-like), or at least to have been a part of an intentional community. As I began investigating the LDS Church, and in particular reading the passages in Moses under consideration in our Sunday School Lesson #5, I was drawn to the strong emphasis on cooperative community which began under the direction of Joseph Smith and continued in Utah under Brigham Young and survived even to the present day.  I expected to be instructed in the principles of consecration and called upon to live them more and more as the “latter day” rolled on.
Thirty years later, I’ve been disappointed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If I Weren't Being Sabotaged Daily

There are days (like today) when the burning question on my mind is what I would do if I didn't have children and a husband who bring home donuts and garlic bread slathered with butter or have birthdays and beg for Oreo-cookie-ice-cream-cakes from Dairy Queen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adam and Eve in Modern Art

While looking for a piece of art to illustrate my post on Mormon Matters about the figurative nature of Adam and Eve, I discovered several modern paintings which impressed me, and I thought I'd share.

The first piece is the one I included on my post. I chose this because it went along so well with my emphasis on symbolism and my postulation that the allegorical elements of the Adam and Eve story are veiled in Mormonism, perhaps because of our emphasis on a literal, physical Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve as UFOs (Unidentified Figurative Objects)

OT SS Lesson #4 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Although our SS lesson for this week presents Adam and Eve as two literal, physical characters, the temple ceremony hints that we can benefit by viewing their story as figurative. I am often dismayed that symbolism, while given lip service, is so little understood in LDS circles. Since the majority of Mormons believe in a literal Adam who will return to the earth in his physical resurrected body and fulfill a major role at Adam-ondi-ahman, there is little reason to investigate the allegorical aspects of the Adam and Eve story. Thus, they have become “unidentified figurative objects” whose symbolic impact is veiled.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday from your Biggest Fan!!

The Creation Accounts -- Unharmonized

OT SS Lesson #3 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters

Several years ago I did a study of Joseph Smith’s different accounts of the First Vision. It was fascinating to see how the accounts changed over time and according to his audience. I reflected that I had told my own conversion story many different ways and with different emphases over the years. It was reasonable to me that Joseph would make different points when he recounted his vision to a Jew than to a Christian minister. And it seemed natural that his story would change over time, as he gained life experience and greater depth of knowledge on the nature of God and man. I thus determined that the best use I could make of the accounts was to take each on its own merits and embrace the idiosyncrasies, rather than to try to harmonize them.
I think the same is true of the many scriptural accounts we have of the Creation. It is not always evident from our lesson materials that we have so many scriptural and authorized accounts, because the goal seems to be to present one harmonized depiction. But what can we learn by looking at all of them separately?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everything You Need is in the Manual

A Church News article published this weekend instructs Church teachers to stick to official sources in preparing their lessons. "Everything you need — and more — is in your manual," it proclaims. This type of emphasis concerns me greatly.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chosen or Posin' ? Abraham, Buffy, and Other Choice Spirits

OT SS Lesson #2 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters

This was an interesting lesson to read after last year's brou-ha-ha over an alleged "generals in the war in heaven" quote. On the 25th of February 2008, the Church issued an official statement from the Office of the First Presidency to all General Authorities, Area Seventies, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, District Presidents, Temple Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents which read:

A statement has been circulated that asserts in part that the youth of the Church today “were generals in the war in heaven . . . and someone will ask you, ‘Which of the prophet’s time did you live in?’ and when you say ‘Gordon B. Hinckley’ a hush will fall, . . . and all in attendance will bow at your presence. [You were held back six thousand years because you were the most talented, most obedient, most courageous, and most righteous.]”*

This is a false statement. It is not Church doctrine. At various times, this statement has been attributed erroneously to President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring, President Boyd K. Packer, and others. None of these Brethren made this statement. Stake presidents and bishops should see that it is not used in Church talks, classes, bulletins, or newsletters. Priesthood leaders should correct anyone who attempts to perpetuate its use by any means, in accordance with “Statements Attributed to Church Leaders,” Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1 (2006), 173.

Although this is not Church doctrine, I don't see much which distinguishes it from the following quotation in our approved Sunday School Lesson #2: