I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I really liked this line from this article at lds.org:
“Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. “Continue reading
I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I really liked this line from this article at lds.org:
“Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. “Continue reading
There is so much in the Joseph Smith manual — it’s amazing. So, when I’ve only got a short time to study, I’m going to try to remember to just pick a chapter and read read read.
Today I was looking at the chapter on the mission of John the Baptist. Here are a few random things that stood out to me:
The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in sign of the dove.
Could the same maybe be the case with Satan in the garden? Was it not that he was somehow in the serpent, or that the serpent talked, but that there was a sign of a serpent along with Satan that Adam and Eve didn’t know about, or some such thing? Who knows. Anyway…
“Our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer,” Oliver Cowdery recalled, “to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit, according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer in the same.”3
Whoa, whoa. This sounds so much like the book of Abraham! “Power to administer the same” and “right of the fathers”?? I don’t remember noticing that language except really in Abraham or Moses. Certainly, I didn’t expect to see it here, in such an early time in the church. I know this is written somewhat later. I wonder what words they would have used to describe what they were praying for then, at the time. Probably, there are sources I could be using to find out! Oh, if I had the time and patience to do historical research!
Ah, just looked more closely at things. The source on the above quotation is from 1835, the same year that the book of Abraham was translated. Fascinating though. Even if they are retroactively rethinking what it was that they were asking for, that’s still cool.
Okay, well, baby’s waking up and such things, on to the rest of the day! Glad for that manual, though. I didn’t bring out super productive parts of it in this post, but I really think the whole manual is fantastic.
Why am I living here, where I am? In America? In a well-heated, carpeted apartment? Why do I have enough food to eat? Why do I live where I can teach my own kids, and use the internet and books we’ve purchased or libraries provided for free? Why can I walk safely to stores, the mall, or use the bus without worry? I didn’t make any of this happen, I just took advantage of what others had created or set up. Why do I get to be married and have five kids? Why are we all healthy? Why do I get to have access to doctors, immunizations? Why did I get to have a college education? Why do I get to have such good relationships with my parents and siblings? Why do I get to sit here and type on a computer?
Sometimes I (/people generally) spend a lot of time asking why I don’t get certain privileges that others do get. But over the last few days, I almost feel a weight on me as I think of all I do get, but without deserving any of it. Sure, I maneuvered what was before me in a good way; I got good grades and went to college, for example. I was smart about dating and knew not to settle for an unhealthy relationship. Stuff like that. But all of that is predicated on so many blessings to start with. Some of those are spiritual blessings (good family, the gospel, the gift of the Holy Ghost), but some of them are just part of being born where I was born (school/college system, standard of living, grocery stores prices, etc.). Why do I get to live in the circumstances I do?
I don’t know — what I do know is that I can’t say it was because of something I did, here or before I was here. I just can’t. I completely believe that there are thousands or millions of righteous people who are living in conditions (housing, work, relationship, etc.) that are not very ideal at all. Their righteousness does not guarantee the sort of blessings I have received. So I can’t connect my blessings with my righteousness — or more accurately, I can’t connect my blessings with righteousness in a sort of one-to-one, automatic system. God very well may be giving me blessings because of faithfulness, but, I can’t reverse that and say that I have these because of my faithfulness. It’s still a complete gift. He could give me other gifts, but for some reason he chose to give me these.
In addition, as I ponder the blessings that come simply from where I was born — and so are available to everyone around me too, regardless of their relationship with God — I am coming to wonder if I shouldn’t, you know, feel guilty (or proud) about living in these circumstances while others don’t, but perhaps instead think that maybe God places people in all degrees of economic classes and in all countries who will (He hopes) be faithful and can influence those around them. If everyone who was faithful were rich, then they wouldn’t naturally interact with those who were middle class or poor, and they wouldn’t understand their perspectives well enough to teach them. If everyone who was faithful were poor, then the same would happen the other direction. If everyone who was faithful lived in one place, how could they teach or bless those in faraway places? By “faithful” I mean something like a good person who is blessing those around them, whether or not they are yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are spread throughout the globe, throughout different economic levels, throughout different races, throughout political parties, throughout warring countries, throughout educational levels, throughout family situations, and so on, because God needs good people in all of those places. He needs those who can “salt” people everywhere. And so, rather than constantly asking why I am where I am, and either feeling guilty that I have what others don’t, or proud that I earned this, or afraid that God will take it away if I don’t use it perfectly, and so on, I should probably rather just get to work where I am, and assume God cares more about getting His work done than about who has which house or which amount of money!
A helpful insight for me, anyway.
I don’t have any particular aim or question I want to answer this morning, but I just feel drawn to the stories of Adam and Eve for some reason. So, here are some thoughts as they occur to me this morning.
From Genesis 1:24-26:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
“Let the earth bring forth” — what an interesting thing to say! Why is the earth doing the action here? And why is God “letting” it do this? Is the earth naturally want to do this? Some have said evolution is obviously true, some say it’s impossible to be true with there being a God. I don’t come down on one side or the other right now — I haven’t done the reading on it, on the one hand, in order to have much to say about it, but on the other hand, as a Mormon I come from a tradition that sees God using laws of science to perform miracles, etc., so there isn’t any immediate, automatic reaction against evolution, either. I suppose the part that I find interesting is whether or not we can go from one species to the next — I think that is the part that worries people, and the part that I wonder if we can line up with the text of Genesis. Granted, each time scripture is given it is given to a particular people with a particular way of thinking, so, it might not much matter if we can or can not line up evolution with the scriptures. But, what I am noticing here is that the earth is the acting figure, and the idea that all life came from the earth is an idea evolution matches up with. Second, there is still a “kind” after which these animals need to be created. And then third, it also says that “God made” these animals. It sounds like the earth, and God, made these animals. Is it possible that evolution is the “natural” way of things (“let the earth do its thing”), but then God steps in and intervenes at certain points to stop evolution of a particular animal, so then from that point the animal will reproduce after its own kind? Does God stabilize what the earth does naturally? I like the idea, though I know there’s one concern of those against evolution that I still wonder about (but can’t know about): how do spirits fit into this? If animals are developing and changing, of what nature are their spirits? The main concern will be at what point do we have people spirits instead of monkey spirits, if indeed our bodies are evolved from them??
All questions I of course can’t answer. But aside from that last (huge and crucial) question, I think I like the rest of it. The earth has a work it does of producing life out of the ground, and God watches over that and intervenes so that we have the right animals he wants to have in the earth. It’s almost like there are “kinds” of animals like there are “forms” for Plato, and God is watching over the work the earth is doing until it matches up with the “kinds” he wants to have on earth and then stabilizes that species. Who knows of course, but I can see that making sense (besides the question of spirits, which I don’t see any way of working on unfortunately). So if I knew more about that, I could get rid of some ideas or theories, but since I don’t, I both can’t throw them out and can’t settle on anything. So I remain wondering and waiting for more knowledge.
I like though the last verse’s way of pointing out that while the earth brought forth animals after their own kinds, humans are made after God’s “kind.” God made us in his own image and likeness. However that happened scientifically, I think poetically it’s important to notice the difference between the earth bringing forth animals after their own, predetermined “kind,” and God creating man and woman not after their own predetermined kind, but after God’s kind.
(Quick note on “dominion” — Joe was explaining to someone recently that the Hebrew behind this word relates to the idea of “lord,” which comes from the old English “loaf warden” or person who is in charge of distributing food so everyone has enough to eat. It is an idea of being a steward over something and making sure it is taken care of appropriately.)
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
I have learned along the way that Chapter 1 of Genesis and Chapters 2-3 may have been two different versions of the story originally and whoever is editing is trying to find a way to include both versions of the story. But all the same, I’m going to ask a few questions about these verses in relation to Genesis 1.
Why is Adam made from the dust of the ground? In Genesis 1, God let the earth bring forth animals, and then God made them. But here this isn’t the earth bringing something forth, it sounds like God is using the dust that’s sitting on top to make Adam. Is it just that I think of dust as loose soil, but in Hebrew dust can mean earth generally, so there’s actually not much difference?
Also, it’s hard for me to think of something being created and manipulated and changed and prepared without life in it. How does a body grow without a spirit in it? We see the moment of death as when a spirit leaves. Is that always the case though? Obviously God’s not revealing His science here, just a story to help us sense His purposes and work.
So back to the poetic side of things. Why are some things created from the earth, or letting the earth bring them forth, while here Adam is made from dust?
Also, in the Genesis 2 version, God creates Adam and then God makes trees come out of the ground and grow there. Or, at least, the trees in the garden are created after Adam, but that doesn’t mean that the whole of creation or even of plants was done after Adam was created. Perhaps God wanted Adam to see a little bit of the work he had done before Adam was around.
A few thoughts for this morning — kids are waking up. I’ll just add a thought I had a while ago. Every thing in this story, it seems, is created from the ground except one: Eve. Eve is created from bone, but Adam and everything else is created from ground. Why? What does that signify poetically? Is it that bone is harder than dirt? And what does that say about Eve verses Adam? Was it harder to form Eve? Is Eve harder to manipulate? Do the differences in color mean anything? Dirt is varying shades of browns and reds, but bone is white? Is the location important – dirt is on the ground, and a rib bone is several feet off of the ground? Is it that Adam comes from dirt and returns to dirt, but Eve comes from life and gives herself to life? Adam tills the ground, Eve bears children? Adam gives his body to Eve and Eve gives her body to children? Is there an idea of passing on of life?
Questions, questions, questions!
There are three things in the book of Moses that are said to be at the beginning of the world and at the end of the world; three things that will remain for the entire human race’s existence. These three things come from Enoch’s preaching: he is explaining how God set things up for Adam and how that affects the rest of us. (Kind of cool that he knew Adam personally, too.) Here are the three things:
1) THE GOSPEL (Moses 5:58-59; 5:14-15):
14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;
15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.
58 And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
59 And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.
2) THE PRIESTHOOD (Moses 6:7):
7 Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.
3) A CHOSEN SEED (Moses 6:2, but more clear in D&C 107:42):
2 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare a son, and he called his name Seth. And Adam glorified the name of God; for he said: God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
D&C 107:42 From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth;
And I think the idea is that these three things go together: There is a chosen seed, a lineage that God will preserve, which is entrusted with the priesthood and the preaching of the gospel. When Adam makes his declaration that the priesthood will remain in Moses 6:7, it is right after he has both a son and a grandson who believe, and it says that “And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them” (v.4). After Moses 6 lists Adam’s righteous sons down to Enoch, it says, “And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed. And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men” (v.22-23).
I think this promise of a chosen seed, which is entrusted with the priesthood and the preaching of the gospel, is the precursor to the Abrahamic Covenant. It is given to Adam and then renewed with Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah (see D&C 107:40-57).
Then after Noah, I have a hard time tracing the chosen seed until we get to Abraham. Perhaps that’s one reason we associate it with Abraham: it was dormant and he is the one through whom it was revived?
Abraham’s fathers rejected their role as a chosen seed which had the priesthood and preached the gospel. Ironically, they were won over by the idea that the Egyptians had the right priesthood and started worshiping their idols! Abraham has the book that explains Adam’s promises and how the genealogy of the priesthood as worked (Abraham 1:31). He knows about the promises given to Adam, and he decided he wants to be the next step in the chain: he wants to be a father through whom the chosen seed, and the promise of priesthood and preaching, can keep going.
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
3 It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
4 I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
I think though that Abraham got more than he asked for: he also gets a promise that has his literal seed preaches the gospel, anyone who believes will be counted as Abraham’s adopted seed. Why this promise? I don’t know of course, but I think the reason stems from the fact that only the chosen seed has been called on to preach the gospel and hold the priesthood. By including all believers in his family — as members of the chosen seed, as it were — then eventually hundreds and thousands of people can be preaching the gospel with the priesthood ordinances and thereby “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” As I understand D&C 107, the right to the priesthood continues only through the faithful members of the literal chosen seed, but as others are adopted in, those may also be asked to help in the work of preaching the gospel and preparing people to see God again. With Abraham, what changes is that many many others are asked to assist in the same work that Adam, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, etc. were called to do.
In addition, the chosen seed has the promise that it won’t die out. Even when the chosen seed is unrighteous (like Abraham’s fathers), they aren’t destroyed so that one of their descendants can pick back up and keep preaching. This promise becomes more interesting when now there is a whole group of people considered Abraham’s chosen seed. This promise goes to Isaac and Jacob, and with Jacob’s 12 sons we have a whole tribe who is blessed as a chosen people. Isaiah is very clear that God will always remember Israel and that they will never be destroyed; Lehi’s people are a testament to this. Even when everyone’s wicked and the Lamanites wipe out the Nephites, there is still the remnant of the Lamanites that still remains and will remain. Nephi knows this, which is why he writes his book and teaches others to write, why it is buried in the ground, and why it comes in the latter-days to be given back to that remnant of Israel: they don’t know it, but they are the chosen seed, charged with holding the priesthood and preaching the gospel. Since they don’t know it, it is up to Gentiles to teach them until they do know it. It’s God’s “tender mercy” to the Gentiles to let them become involved.
And so that’s where the Abrahamic Covenant is today. The Church is filled with those born “as if” part of the chosen seed of Abraham, and thereby also charged with preaching the gospel and allowing the priesthood ordinances to prepare them to see God again. A big part of this is the temple, both in how we become sealed up into Abraham’s family “as if” we had been born his literal chosen seed, and how we prepare ourselves and others to be ready to literally see the face of God.
Wow! Another brilliant reading along the way of studying sexual difference (that is, the fundamental irreconcilability of the genders, the idea that each gender is unique, and in Badiou, it’s the event of actually, fully experiencing the difference between the genders that opens up the possibility of love). The other day, we made this analysis and posted it on facebook:
Freud is to Irigaray as Newton is to Leibniz. Brilliant!
That is: Joe was explaining to me that Newton and Leibniz came up with Calculus at the same time, but each founded it in a completely different way. Newton argued that we needed one thing that was self-identical, where a=a, and then everything else derives from that. Leibniz said that we could have a system beginning from differences, a fundamental difference rather than a fundamental sameness. We are reading a book by Irigaray, who is responding to and criticizing Freud. She is pointing out that Freud wants things to start from a fundamental sameness of gender, rather than a fundamental difference in the genders. Hence Joe’s wonderful comparison, which I summarized as: Freud is to Irigaray as Newton is to Leibniz. I hope I was pretty close on that explanation.
This morning Joe was looking at Genesis 1 and 2, and made this observation:
In Genesis 1, there is a fundamental, original difference between the sexes: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
In Genesis 2, there is a fundamental, original sameness of genders: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
And in addition, now we’ve seen that in chapter 2 of Genesis, Adam names his wife “woman.” In Hebrew, his name is ISH and her name is now ISHAH. He sees her as the feminine version of himself and gives her a name accordingly. It’s as if she is his mirror, just an opposite version of himself.
But in chapter 3, after the “fall,” and the laying out of their roles (he works to get food, she bears children), he now renames her as “Eve” the mother of all living. And his name still remains “Adam” (or “dirt.”)