Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yom Kippur and the Symbolism of Jonah's Spiritual Journey

OT SS Lesson #33 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
If your ward happens to be just a little bit behind on the Sunday School lessons, you might experience the synchronicity of having the Book of Jonah read on Yom Kippur.  This year, the Jewish holiday falls on September 18 (close enough to Sunday the 19th!) and Jonah is traditionally read as part of the celebration.
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the holiest and most widely observed day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a day of fasting, lengthy confession of sins, prayer, and repentance.  Jonah’s prophecy is included in the liturgy for that day as a symbolic spiritual journey that each person undertakes.  I think the symbolism in Jonah’s story is very meaningful and I’d like to explore it in depth here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adversity and Job

OT SS Lesson #32 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
After the Satan figure is given permission to afflict Job as a test of his faithfulness, three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him, sitting with him in silence for seven days. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares thoughts on Job’s afflictions and adversity in general in profound poetic statements.  This is a lengthy dialogue between characters who alter their moods, question their motives, change their minds, and undercut each other with sarcasm and innuendo. Although Job comes closest to doing so, no single character articulates one true or authoritative opinion. Each speaker has his own flaws as well as his own lofty moments of observation or astute theological insight.  I believe the Book of Job is a jumping-off point for the reader to deeply explore questions of theodicy and the difficulty of understanding why an all-powerful God allows good people to suffer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sophia of the Proverbs and the Feminine Divine

OT SS Lesson #31 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Feminist readers of the scriptures are well aware of the passages in Proverbs 8 which personify Wisdom (GK Sophia, HEB Hokhmah).
These passages affirm that Sophia was there when God made the earth and acted as a partner with God in the creation. This idea fits in well with my conceptualization of the male/female duality of the Divine. The passages can be interpreted as instructions to the earnest seeker to discover and follow the promptings of a Heavenly Mother:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Discussing the Temple Initiatory from a Faithful Female Perspective (#2)

Posted on Mormon Matters 5 Aug 2010
I recently had my temple recommend renewed and I’ve been thinking about the temple initiatory for women and wishing I could discuss it from a faithful, feminist perspective. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles which stand in my way of doing this. Number one, of course, is the proscription from discussing certain sacred aspects of the temple. I’m a bit more liberal than many in talking of my temple experiences. I think there are certain parts in the temple which we are clearly told not to discuss, and I’m willing to draw the line there. But can we talk about the initiatory?