“Any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential”

“It’s not about opposing manual knowledge, the knowledge of the people, the intelligence of the tool and of the worker, to the science of schools or the rhetoric of the elite. It is not about asking who built seven-gated Thebes as a way to vindicate the place of constructors and makers in the social order. On the contrary, it is about recognizing that there are not two levels of intelligence, that any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential. In all cases, it is a question of observing, comparing, and combining, of making and noticing how one has done it. What is possible is reflection: that return to oneself that is not pure contemplation but rather an unconditional attention to one’s intellectual acts, to the route they follow and to the possibility of always moving forward by bringing to bear the same intelligence on the conquest of new territories. He who makes a distinction between the manual work of the worker or the common man and the clouds of rhetoric remains stultified. The fabrication of clouds is a human work of art that demands as much — neither more nor less — labor and intellectual attention as the fabrication of shoes or locks.”

Ranciere, in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pages 36-37.

Quick quotation from Joseph Smith on the equal enjoyment of all when we work with the Spirit

From this: http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/discourse-6-april-1837

“From a view of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the gospel, he  remarked that few were qualified even to be priests, and if a priest understood  his duty, his calling and ministry and  preached by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the presidency”

Study of the Family Proclamation

Something sparked my interest, and I’ve decided to work through the Family Proclamation over and over again and see what I can learn. I want to be as familiar with it as I am with some of my favorite scriptural passages. I think that it’s too easily read over on just a surface level. It is meant for the “world” to be able to read it and access its ideas, so I understand why it’s surface appearance is the most likely one to be seen, read, and used. I want, however, to look past that surface level. What are the scriptures behind these ideas? How are they being summarized here? What is being implied but not stated outright? What information here is based on doctrine taught by Joseph Smith? What here would seem radical to someone outside of the Church? What information here would sound surprising to a feminist who is used to the doctrines of the Catholic Church or various protestant religions being the only Christian options? All of these questions have already helped me see the Proclamation in a new way, and I’m hoping to learn a great deal still.

The Ignorant Steward: Five Lessons in Spiritual Emancipation

I think that would be a great title for a book someday! :) I’m still quite convinced that Ranciere’s model for teaching is exactly how we ought to think about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are equal with each other — we’re even co-eternal with God! And we have stewardships based not on merit, but based on our willingness to yield to the Spirit. The Spirit is that which gets us working. It pushes us forward. It enlightens our minds. It is one of those great things in common that points us to so many other things in common upon which our minds and hearts can ponder and get to work! As teachers or leaders or parents in Zion, our job is not to lead based on our superior intelligence, but to lead in such a way that they come to lean on the greatest Intelligence of all! Any time we get in between God and a child of God, we are guilty of priestcraft; any time a teacher comes in between the “thing in common” and the student, she/he is guilty of stultification. The ignorant one will do more and less at the same time, says Ranciere. He will do less, because he cannot verify if the student’s answer is right. But he can do more, because he can verify if the student has paid attention. Paying attention is all that is needed — and how much that applies to our work in the Church! Pay attention to the Spirit! Pay attention to the scriptures! (all of them!) Pay attention to the ordinances and think about them! Go to the temple and pay attention! Pay attention to the needs of those you visit teach! Pay attention to sacrament talks and see what the Spirit teaches you about doctrine, how to teach or not to teach, what this person needs, what those around you need, and so forth. There is so much to learn if one only pays attention, and then the work that follows is a joint quest for truth and love. We are all of equal intelligence, says Ranciere — we are all equal in that we can all pay attention and think. We are all of equal spiritual nature, I think — we are all equal in that we can repent, receive ordinances, and commune with the Spirit!

Fascinating D&C 84…

And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;

Are they sons according to, or because of, the Holy Priesthood? Being his heir to the priesthood makes you a type of son? Or will the “sons of Moses” do something according to the Holy Priesthood?

Why why why why is there a separate chain of priesthood authority that runs from Abraham’s time to Jethro? That is so fascinating to me! I read the Bible and I assume that all of God’s work was going on through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s line. The whole Book of Mormon project is to unite Gentile and Israel – those seem to be the only two groups in the world. But here we have a covenant, non-Israelite group with the priesthood. And not only that, that group has the very Melchizedek priesthood that is passed on to Moses and so forth. Crazy! :) The Bible really is the story of one covenant people!

And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb; And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu; And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy; And Jeremy under the hand of Gad; And Gad under the hand of Esaias; And Esaias received it under the hand of God.

Here too, we find that God started a chain of priesthood authority. Esaias was blessed by Abraham (next verse) but he didn’t receive the priesthood from Abraham. Amazing!

Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—

What kind of blessing are we talking about, I wonder?

Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—

And this is a detail we don’t get from Genesis or even the Book of Abraham. Abraham was not only blessed by Melchizedek, he received the priesthood from him. And the Bible sees Melchizedek as without father or mother, which, while I assume doesn’t mean literally, I had sometimes taken that to mean that he received the priesthood straight from God and not because of his lineage. But, here it says he did receive it through the lineage of his fathers! Yikes! :) Abraham does say he held the right belonging to the fathers, which came down from the fathers, though his immediate fathers didn’t believe. Maybe he was related to Melchizedek? Or, he wasn’t, but he knew Melchizedek was related to this line of fathers?

Also, I can’t understand why this chain goes back to Abel, when the Book of Moses suggests that Seth became the new priesthood line. But I don’t think there are enough details to riddle that out, so I’ll let that one go.

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

Two thoughts here. One, the description of the priesthood being without beginning of days or end of years is similar to Kim’s discussion of priesthood in the Alma 13 posts. Two, what do we make of the priesthood that continues in the church of God in all generations? Is the emphasis on “in the church” or “in all generations”? Whenever there is a church, then there is priesthood? and this is true in every generation in which there is a church established? Or, somewhere on the earth there is always a church established in which the priesthood can be preserved? Jethro is an interesting example of that, perhaps. As well as the Nephities having the priesthood at times when those in the Old World did not (it seems). Other thoughts on this?

And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

The impression I’ve gotten in the past is that the Lord came up with the idea to invent a “lesser” priesthood when the Israelites rejected the higher priesthood. I think before that it was all just “priesthood” in a full, sealing-power-and-all sense. Israel rejects this, but at the same time is a covenant people with the possibility of working on the Abrahamic Covenant again, and God finds a way to keep them a covenant people even in their weakness. I don’t know if that’s at all right, but it’s the sense I’ve had in the past.

Verse 18 here may or may not challenge that reading. We have “confirmed a priesthood” on Aaron, but there’s nothing that gives me a sense whether this is a new idea or a priesthood order that has always existed. That’s a good way to put it — the priesthood power had always been there, and the ordinances, but the sense I’ve had in the past was that a new order was created with certain responsibilities.

This verse does point out the existence of this order going forward: “continueth and abideth forever.” Whether it’s absorbed into the higher priesthood at some point is just pure speculation, as far as I have come across.

If I’m correct (that’s a big “if”), then we have a  “new” but “forever” scenario, which is similar to the phrase the “new and everlasting covenant.” I’m not suggesting that they are the same thing at all, but I’m curious about a similar construction. I’ve wondered about those words “new” but “everlasting.” I suppose I should have thought about this as I do the Aaronic priesthood: created at a certain point but going on forever. But as I’ve studied the new and everlasting covenant it seems to me that it is a restoration of the covenants given to Abraham. So it’s not a new thing, is it? Maybe it’s a new embodiment of those covenants? Later in D&C 84 we’ll get a phrase I really like — “covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you.” It isn’t a covenant that has been newly created, but newly made again. It’s like renewing the loan of a library book — things are back as if you had just checked it out for the first time. That’s the way I personally like to think of the phrase “new and everlasting covenant.”

But coming back to Aaron and his sons: from what you’ve read in scripture and elsewhere, do you think that the Aaronic priesthood order was created new at that time, or that it was already in existence?


(Similar post & thoughts on these same verses here: http://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/initial-reactions-to-dc-84-6-18/#comments)

Working & motherhood

A friend linked to this post, and I think it is right-on in so many ways (though the tone will alienate some, as always):


I’ve recently found it so odd that the very thing that Adam was cursed with, that is, needing to work, is what we now use to determine who’s more valued in a society! It isn’t that women are less valued and so have to be home, it’s that our society has decided that work is more valuable, because it equals money, which equals things of this world. Since men get that, we came to respect men. I don’t think it started as a gender issue, but as a coveting issue. Staying home with children doesn’t result in greater material goods or status, so we devalue that. Since women do that, women get devalued. So backwards!

Summary of Ranciere

The whole idea behind being an “ignorant schoolmaster” is that you are a master not by virtue of having more intelligence, but simply by a structured situation. The structure almost has to be artificial, or arbitrary, to really work. The master has to see her or himself as equal to the student. When both the student and master see themselves as equal, then the call of the master to “pay attention” to the assignment or whatever is their “thing in common” has more effect. If the student constantly assumes they are inferior to the master, then there is the temptation to just wait until the master explains it to them. (Emancipation is when the student comes to realize they don’t have to wait to be explained to, and that there is always something they can think or say about the thing in common. Of course, that requires that the master actually gives them a thing in common, and asks questions that don’t have a specific, definite answer that only the master can validate.)

Anyway, the point is, when both individuals recognize the equality of intelligence, then they both see the hierarchical structure for what it is. It allows a master to impose their will on the will of another, rather than their intelligence on the intelligence of another.

Ranciere points out that when a hierarchy of intelligence is created (rather than an artificial hierarchy) it has to be based on a justification of superiority and inferiority — I am the master because I know more or have greater intelligence and you are the student because you know less or have inferior intelligence. Power must be justified to keep the hierarchy in place. But, if a student realizes that the master does not in fact have greater knowledge or greater intelligence, then hierarchical structure begins to crumble and the master loses his or her power. The student no longer has someone imposing intelligence or will upon him or her, and learning ceases.

This can get us into trouble in the Church, if we think that so-in-so has a particular calling because that person is inherentlymore spiritual than me. If that person makes what appears to us to be a mistake or something immoral, then we can began to question their spiritual superiority. Then we begin to question that person’s position within the hierarchy, and we no longer accept the imposition of will or decisions that come from that calling.

Of course, to really work appropriately, the person in the callingalso needs to recognize the spiritual equality (or intellectual equality, I don’t know that those are so separate in the end) of those serving “under” her or him within the hierarchy. I think when this is done right then spiritual growth occurs, in parallel to the learning that occurs within Ranciere’s model.

Hope that’s a helpful start. :)


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