I woke up a few days ago with these words across my mind:
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It seems a fact of existence that we are made such that what we learn the hard way and by our own efforts is the only thing that matters to us. They are the only things that are real and significant.
By contrast, what we get the easy way – handed to us on a plate – just is not transformative: it does not do the work that experience is meant to do.
In his creation, God had to work with this attribute of Man. Unless each of us experiences mortal life as difficult, and unless we take responsibility for tackling those difficulties, and muddle-through as best we can – then we will not learn, grow or make spiritual progress.
Furthermore, if we consider God’s creative purpose in providing for our spiritual progression to full divinity, to the point when we can fully-participate in His society, then we will recognize that He does not aim at an ultimate situation where He would be surrounded by multiple ‘carbon copies’ .
On the contrary, it is the uniqueness of each divine person which matters. Heaven is a society of individuals – not of ‘clones’.
So, there are times when you are in the process of making your own uniqueness when you will not get any help or guidance from God or His angels even when you ask for it.
We must sometimes, for reasons we do not appreciate, be made to muddle through.
But there are other times when you are not essentially making your uniqueness when, if you ask, you will get help.
So, there is not-help, and there is help. There is one sort of ‘help’ which destroys the person, and another sort of help which really helps them – and to know the difference between these requires a lot of wisdom.
God is with us and His angels are all around us, ready and willing to help whenever that is necessary and appropriate. They, but not we, have the wisdom to know when help is helpful and will be supplied; and alternatively when giving what we have asked for would destroy the main purpose of our lives.
I have paraphrased the above points from William Arkle. More is at:
Mormonism is almost indistinguishable from mainstream Christianity in terms of its surface and essence; but is significantly different in the underlying metaphysical explanations of key terms.
This comes across in many well known ways – but an aspect I hadn’t previously noticed is that Christian ‘Love’ (or ‘Charity’ in the Authorized/ King James Bible – which is a translation of Agape) is conceptualized very differently from those types of Christianity which have a Classical Theology based on Greek and Roman philosophy.
CS Lewis wrote a book called The Four Loves (1960) in which he distinguished Affection (Storge; pronounced stor-gu) = Familial love; Friendship (Philia); Eros (Erotic love) and Agape (Charity). Much of the book prepares the ground for demonstating that Agape is an utterly distinct form of love from – and not to be confused with – any of the other three ‘natural’ loves.
However, I suddenly realized that for Mormons, Agape is not a distinct form of love; but in fact a completed and divininized version of Storge, or Familial love.
Thus, the focus of Mormonism is on a Heavenly Father – who is a literal (not metaphorical or adoptive) Father, and a Mother in Heaven who is his celestial wife; Jesus Christ as their first born Son, now grown to equal divinity; and men and women as literal children of God, and literal (but only embryonically divine) brothers and sisters to Christ.
For Mormonism; men and women are divine – in part and weakly, but divine in origin and scope – and the difference in stature between men and women and God the Father and/ or Jesus Christ is ultimately not of kind or quality; but a matter of degree.
A truly vast difference of degree, for sure! But in the end a quantitative difference – because each Man’s destiny (or potential) is to (eventually, at some probably very, very distant time – and only if he chooses to, and chooses well) become of the same stature as God (although always under His authority, being intrinsically His child).
However for Lewis, as for most Mainstream Christians – the difference between God and Man is absolute and unbridgeable: the difference between The Creator (ex nihilo – creating everything from nothing) – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, un-embodied, living outside the universe and outside of Time… And A Creature, who is none of these, and never can be.
Agape – for Classical Theology – is thus an abstract Love, not of this world, a ‘divine energy’ as Lewis terms it; and Agape is a pure Gift, because God has no need for us, no need for our love or for anything else, no need for anybody or anything to love. God is seen as utterly self-sufficient, imperturbable. If we do not love God then he loses nothing by it.
Therefore Agape is, for mainstream Christian theologians, a purely disinterested (impartial) love.
But for Mormonism all this is a philosophical error illegitimately imposed upon revelation – which depicts God as a passionate being, a God with strong wishes and desires, and (in The Pearl of Great Price) a God who weeps with compassion and empathy.
The Mormon God does not ‘need’ Men for His own existence – but he does need Men in a creative sense: in order to grow, to expand the circle of loving relationships at the divine level.
Put it this way: God may not need Man but He deeply wants Man – and deeply yearns for men and women to progress spiritually to become of the same qualitative stature as Himself – on the same level (much as a grown-up mortal child may mature to be on the same level as his earthly Father). This is, indeed, God’s greatest wish; and the reason for creation.
The Mormon theologian thus sees Heavenly love (Agape) as the apotheosis, the ideal extremity and perfection, of Storge or Familial love. And the Mormon Heaven is a place of divine families, loving each other in the same way, but to a greater and more consistent degree and across a greater scope, than the best of earthly mortal families.
So, perhaps this is another of the ways in which Mormonism strikes mainstream Christians as seriously wrong – in terms of misinterpreting, misrepresenting and in general ‘selling-short’ (as they see it) Agape.
While in contrast, from the Mormon perspective; the classical philosophical concept of Agape is probably regarded as an unreal, artificial, essentially-incomprehensible abstraction; and therefore something which is in reality (as Familial love) much simpler, more concrete, comprehensible, and down to earth – and a matter of our personal experiences and innate yearnings.
The Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection has been, since its launch, very effectively used as a stick to beat – and indeed kill – Christianity, for many individuals and social groups.
This arises from the fact that the metaphysical assumptions of natural selection rely purely on mechanical causation and undirected variation; hence they exclude teleology (i.e. overall purpose and direction) hence are incompatible with the Christian understanding.
All of which would not much matter if natural selection was understood as merely an expedient ‘model’ to be deployed for certain specific biological purposes – however natural selection is instead regarded as a kind of ultimate truth, to which all other knowledge must conform.
More exactly, it is the story of the ‘origin of species’, the history of life on earth having arisen entirely by natural selection (plus other mechanical and undirected processes), which is regarded as the ultimate metaphysical reality by modern mainstream and official culture and public discourse. To deny this is to be regarded as ignorant, insane or evil. (more…)
The Roman satirist Juvenal quipped, “What’s infamy matter if you can keep your fortune?“.
Thus, we have a culture that thrives on outrage, drives away the good, and the Romans had this figured out two millenia before the internet.
Just a few choice quotes – read the article. It is short, focused and excellent.
“All of this dangles an almost irresistible proposition in front of ambitious people who have nothing to lose. People who need to be talked about, like attention-hungry reality stars, delusional demagogues or radical extremists. There is nothing that you could say that would hurt the cast of Vanderpump Rules or The Real Housewives, that doesn’t help increase the amount they can charge for club appearances. And now, there’s nothing you can say that would offend Martin Shkreli and Vladimir Putin that won’t also embolden them. There’s no truth that one can print that doesn’t help ISIS recruit or PETA raise money. They need you to talk about them and to insult them, to make fun of them is to do that. You are the oxygen to the fire of their fame. They have no reputation to ruin, only notoriety to gain. They don’t care what most people think, only what will traffic with their followers.
…Shamelessness. That’s the key.
Shamelessness is what our system is actively selecting for. You might even say we’re breeding for it. You have to breed for it, when you think about it. What normal, well-adjusted person would sell their soul, exaggerate their worst tendencies, suppress their self-awareness, just to get attention? What sane person would willingly subject themselves to a system that flays and mocks and criticize and screams? Who finds being yelled at or publicly derided simply a cost of doing business (poorly)?
A shocking amount of people, it turns out.”
I have posted this fantasy and fictional meditation on my personal blog, since (although intended to be wholly compatible with Mormon doctrine) it probably goes beyond the scope of revelation.
Some aspects may be of some interest to some readers, and perhaps of some value.
This could be teaching grandmother to suck eggs; but having watched it twice in the last fortnight (after watching it a few time over the past 40 years) – it strikes me that the 1953 Jacques Tati movie Mr Hulot’s Holiday (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot) is a perfect Mormon family movie.
It is an almost wordless film, although the marvellous sound effects are very much a part of it – so even if the English dubbed version is not available it makes little difference.
Some parts are very funny indeed, and in a slapstick fashion that makes even young children laugh – while the adults can also enjoy the marvellous cinematography and construction, the fascinating picture of a microcosm of French life, and the Chaucerian scope of human sympathy.
And Hulot is one of the greatest, most timeless of comic creations – innocent, well-meaning, clumsy, leaving chaos in his wake (often without realizing the fact) – and extremely kind and loveable.
I guarantee that the desire to do Hulot impressions will prove irresistable – That sloping forward walk on the toes, the hat with its back turned-up; and you will never again be able to make a tennis serve without thinking of him…
The doctrine of the reality of Mother in Heaven is canonical in the CJCLDS
But authoritative, revealed detail of the implications of Her reality is lacking.
Yet, such detail would be potentially of very great value? So why the delay?
Obviously I am speculating. It may simply be that Prophetic revelations of detail are currently lacking.
On the other hand, simple reason seems to imply several things about the nature of Mother in Heaven and her role – on the basis of the known complementarity of the sexes – yet I think even this is seldom discussed, and certainly not emphasized officially.
I wonder whether the General Authorities know somewhat more than has so far been made the subject of clear teaching and instruction; but they recognize that in our current socio-political climate of influential, aggressive and unscrupulous feminism; any significant expansion of the emphasis on Mother in Heaven surely would be misrepresented – and might well lead to more harm than good.
So, the timing and context for announcing any further revelations on this topic are critical.
(I am sure that this need for delay – if I am correct about it – is no accident; and indeed that this is one of the functions or features of feminism from the perspective of those who ‘designed’ it. Note: Something similar may well apply to the Roman Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary – more of which would seem to be ‘needed’, yet is apparently de-emphasized relative to history.)
Either way, patience is required (as so often). Yet there may in the meantime be an important role for Mother in Heaven in a private and personal context.
Not as the subject of prayer (this has explicitly been ruled-out by President Gordon B Hinckley) – but perhaps as a subject of meditation, and source of individual guidance.
We are in a very real sense called to support, sustain, teach, and preach the ideal, even when our lives don’t match it, because that ideal is a way God protects all of His children — especially those who would have no way to find it because their lives are so very not-ideal…sometimes for generations on end.
-thus the Mormon Woman.
That is an inspirational quote. It has a breadth of vision–the nameless virtue has a breadth of vision–that is truly divine. The soul that has the nameless virtue addresses itself to whole societies and ages.
Thus GK Chesterton,
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
Like the Christmas Star, a light hangs in the firmament unnoticed except by the Wise; the rest see darkness. But for them as can see it shines out. As Lewis put it: “be confident small immortals. You are not the only voice that all things utter, nor is there eternal silence in the places where you cannot come.
-thus Richard Fernandez