Last year a professor friend of mine let me know that Rod Dreher was looking for some Mormon sources for his Benedict Option book and would I mind talking to him. I said sure, he passed on my info and told me Dreher was going to be out in my neck of the woods soon and would meet me there. I begged leaved to doubt it–no one is ever in my neck of the woods, I live in the back of beyond–but just in case I scribbled some notes. In the event, we never met.
“I fear America has attained critical mass: an unstoppable process of reciprocally escalating outrage & disgust, justified via social media”
Thus Jonathan Haidt via twitter
And is what job of the Saints and the Righteous of every denomination? It is to oppose contention and the spirit of the devil. Or in other words, to act as the control rods of society, keeping things as sub-critical as possible, which is the function of silver, indium, cadmium and boron in a nuclear reactor.
If the time comes that the Saints must leave the rest of society, or if they are driven out, then critical mass has most certainly been attained.
Saturday you drive a van of youth, ages 12 – 17, 3 hours to the temple. They talk happily the whole time. Riddles, books, rubik’s cubes, music. You are amazed at the health of it.
Sunday one of them slowly, gropingly, fervently bears his testimony about the temple. It was his first time.
Your Elder Quorums’ President is in a kilt. His daughter saved her money to buy it for him for Christmas, he says. So he is wearing it.
You meet a man who is there for the first time. His family will be joining him in June. You invite him over to dinner along with your home-teaching family. It turns out he had been fasting because he was sad from loneliness.
Finwe and Miriel as depicted by ‘steamey’
I was reading in JRR Tolkien’s posthumous History of Middle Earth about how unrequited love and the grief of the bereaved were regarded as a serious flaw in the elven paradise of the undying lands; and it struck me that much the same might be supposed about the Mormon understanding of Heaven.
Even on earth, the primacy (rightly) accorded to Marriage and Family does necessarily challenge those Mormons who (for many possible reasons) lack one or both. And since Celestial Marriage is an essential pre-requisite of the highest exaltation, and current revelation seems to be is that this marriage is monogamous, there appears to be a problem…
At a ‘numerical’ level, there is the matter that there seems to be a requirement for an exact matching of the numbers of men and women, and that each individual will have find one beloved spouse among this number – with none left over.
But of course, all depends on agency, and some will almost-certainly choose not to marry (indeed, some may choose not to be incarnated). And then there is this problem of unrequited love…
I mean when one truly loves the other and nobody else, but that love is not reciprocated. Or that more than one woman a particular man or vice versa – perhaps many-fold?
It seems that the numbers do not add-up and cannot necessarily be made to do so?… This is surely a flaw in the ‘perfection’ of Heaven.
But the problem is illusory – or, at least, not necessary nor permanent – in the context of an open-ended, evolving universe such as Mormons envisage.
In the first place Heaven is not a state of perfection. That is to say: for Mormons perfection is not a state but a process. Heaven changes and the loving creative-process of exaltation is the perfection of Life. The population is being added to (presumably without ultimate limit, assuming the number of ‘intelligences’ is not fixed; and especially once Men become fully divine and can beget spiritual children), and the individual people themselves are each becoming more exalted – they continue to change, experience and grow.
Therefore, over time, there is no reason why everyone should not find a truly-loved spouse; and having found such a person, celestial marriage will of its very nature make an unbreakable creative dyad of husband and wife; such that there is no ‘comparison’ of the kind we experience between potential-spouse A and potential-spouse B.
The perfection of love is both permanent and also a dynamic state ; and will overcome all such temporary problems in the course of eternal time.
The phrase Opposition in all Things from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 2:11) is generally taken to apply to moral development – and the necessity for opposition from Life if people are to experience, learn and progress spiritually.
But I think it is linked also with the underlying metaphysical basis of Mormonism, which is ‘evolutionary’ in contrast with the world view of Classical Theology; and in particular with the unique doctrine that the highest form of spiritual progression – full deity – is only possible for the ‘dyad’ of a man and a woman joined (complementary but not fused – united but separate selves) in celestial marriage. (more…)
“Is there any particular scripture story you want to read tonight, bud?”
“How about the one where King David’s son gets his hair caught on a tree and is killed?” You rack your brain. King David’s son? Absalom? Is that how Absalom dies? Yeah, that sounds familiar. But we only read that story one time, and it was at least six months ago. How does he remember it? At first you feel pride at having such a bright little boy, but then it hits you: If he can remember that, what else does he remember? You resolve to start behaving yourself better, lest your misdeeds be recorded on your Permanent Record. (more…)
These are mere symptoms of a much deeper but poorly understood problem. It can be stated directly in one sentence: Elections no longer change the character of our government.
But along with the increasing concentration of power in the hands of unaccountable experts is the equal concentration of authoritative public opinion in the hands of the experts and their media-academic allies. . . “Public opinion is in the hands of a national elite. That public opinion, the whole of the public discourse about what is political in America, is in the hands of very few.”
-thus Stephen Hayward
In a country like ours, where politics is organized by party, parties are organized by ideological principles, but those ideological principles tend to align with demographic categories, we see three types of political strategies. (more…)
Hoping to trap Jesus in his utterances, some of the shrewdest of his adversaries posed double-edged questions on political and rabbinic law. One group of Pharisees and Herodians asked him a most diabolic question:
“… Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth. …
“Tell us therefore, … Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:16–17.) If he were to answer yes, he would easily be accused of betraying his heritage among Abraham’s seed, the very group staggering under the oppression of Roman law. If he were to answer no, he would immediately be apprehended as a political agitator. He answered neither, but rather asked to be shown a coin by which such tribute money commonly was paid.
Holding the piece of money up to his accusers, he asked: “Whose is this image and superscription?” Of course, they answered as any child in the street could have: “It is Caesar’s.” With that single question he had taken command of the confrontation. He returned the coin saying: “… Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:20–21), as if to say: “The man’s name and picture are on the coin. Surely it belongs to him. Please be kind enough to return it to its rightful owner.”
Brilliantly he had destroyed the ploy of his oppressors, but that was never his true mission or desire. These, too, were sons of God. These, too, were among those he came to save. He feared for them and loved them even in their malice. As they turned away he added a plea: “… and [render] unto God the things that are God’s.” As the coin bore the image of Caesar, so these and all men bore the image of God, their Heavenly Father. They had been created by him in the likeness of his image, and Jesus was to provide a way for them to return to him. Yet, “When they heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” (Matt. 22:21–22.)
The story of Adam and Eve, Mormonly understood, makes a mockery of the idea of salvation under the Law.
The standard Christian view is that Adam and Eve were given a strict commandment not to eat the fruit, the Serpent tricked them into eating it, so God in his anger cast them out of Eden. The Mormon view is that Adam and Eve were given two commandments which could not both be fulfilled, so one (don’t eat the fruit), had to give way to the higher one (multiply and replenish the Earth). Adam fell that men might be.
Elder Oaks explained, more clearly than I can ever hope to, the Mormon belief that what Adam and Eve did was a “transgression,” not a “sin”:
For reasons that have not been revealed, this transition, or “fall,” could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a law (see Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose.
The obvious theological objection to our doctrine would be: “God is perfect and perfectly just, so why would he give a commandment knowing that it could not be fulfilled? How is that fair?” As Elder Oaks says, the need for such a transgression has never been fully explained, and I admit that this one used to bug me a little when I was younger. Eventually I shrugged it off; it was a one-off deal, so why think too hard about it?
Then I served a mission, got married, had kids, and realized that God gives impossible commandments all the time. (more…)
Glory is merited praise. Glory is the love we offer God, that He deserves. Glory is also the love God offers us because of what we have done. “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Glory is conditional love, as opposed to unconditional love. God offers both.
Glory is righteous pride. (more…)
Elder Tuttle’s talk at the October 1973 General Conference makes good reading. The Role of Fathers, it is called.
It is wonderful to read unvarnished truths from a time when the enemy camp we live in wasn’t quite so hostile to their free expression.
Properly organized in the Church, the father is the patriarch of an eternal family unit. Heaven, to us, will be simply an extension of an ideal home.