Sunday, April 8, 2018

Female Seership


Source


In my earlier posts I asked and attempted to answer questions about the participatory roles of faithful women today. The duties and expectations for men are so clearly outlined within the priesthood offices; I think it would go a long way to have such expectations for women. After much praying, pondering, and reading the scriptures I have made two very startling (in a good way) discoveries, which I will further explore below: 1) The power of women is, among other things, divine seership. 2) Mother Earth assists in given mankind its sight to see.

Female Seership in the Scriptures

Examples of women who could see and interpret emblems:
  1. Eve could see the fruit was good
  2. Rebekah saw who should receive the father's blessing
  3. Mary saw that she would have a son of God, though the means she did not know
  4. Elizabeth saw his name was John (I'm convinced Zacharias was mute so that he could write out his son's name and make this a visual experience representing his wife's seeing powers)
The astounding thing for me was finding the pairings of insightful women with men who were literally blind, which underscores her distinct power:

  • Blind Isaac and Seeing Rebekah
  • Blind Simeon* and Seeing Ana

I don't have time for it right now, but I'd really like to dissect the differences (if any) between Simeon and Ana because this could represent the parallel work of men and women intended for the Church today. They were on the same side in their example of receiving the Christ and it could be telling to see where they echoed each other, and where they uniquely complimented each other.

*Not written in scripture, but traditionally known as blind

Mother Earth, a Divine Urim and Thummin

The Restoration story features the use of the Urim and Thummin and seer stones, which are naturally derived from the earth. Likewise the Book of Mormon describes how the brother of Jared produced stones to overcome the darkness (i.e. blindness) in the barges headed for the promised land. Throughout the scriptures clay is used to restore sight to the blind. In all of these examples, Mother Earth expands the vision of men who would otherwise be limited without her. Latter-day doctrine even informs us that, one day, the entire earth in "its celestial condition will be a Urim and Thummim."


Convergence is a Sign of Seership

A Society of Seers

I have been blessed in my life to have good, righteous women in it. In the past year I was able to gather my elect sisters into an experiment of sorts. We would pray and ponder various thoughts and concepts and convene together in person and (mostly) online to discuss our insights. What we've found over and over again is that even when we study things separately, we often arrive at very specific and even unconventional conclusions in common. These conclusions are so specific as to make coincidence unlikely. I take such convergence to be a sign of seership in action, a look through the divine lens, if you will.

This post will remain a work in progress. I will return to add insights as they come. I wish to repeat here that The President of The Church is THE prophet and seer for The Church; what women have is on an individual scale, with the potential to change homes, communities, and nations.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Human Body is Full of Symbolism

I like to sketch and paint the human portrait. I like the shapes found on the human body. This might be surprising to you because I typically like symmetric, geometric shapes in my interior and clothing designs.

Did you know we have perfect semi-/circles and semi-squares on our bodies? Do you know where?




Our knees and elbows can be brought up to perfect 90 degree angles, we see the latter position used frequently for swearing-in ceremonies, typically with one's other hand on a book of scripture, and the classic "scout's honor."




As for circles, our eyes are perfect examples of this at the iris and pupils. Also, our nipples and navel. Even the pincer grasp (shown above) is strikingly similar to a compass and, in a pinch*, can be used to draw semi-circles with the thumb in fixed position.

Our society tends to associate masculinity with the square and femininity with curves, though certainly there are aspects of each in both sexes. In fact, before Jesus did away with the old law (which tore through the temple veil), men were bound to take on the circle through circumcision to be closer to God, in whose image both male and female were created.

Isn't the body beautiful? It is another testament to the divinity of God.

*nyuk nyuk

Monday, January 22, 2018

LDS Women BINGO





You know that scene in Dave Chappelle's skit about Prince where he's lying there on the sofa in a ruffled purple suit, licking a lollipop, and finally proclaims, "This BORES me"? That's how I've been feeling at church events for women. I feel like we say the same things over and over and over again because we're hesitant to get into deep doctrine, we want to place band-aids on festering wounds, and we're interested in keeping the status quo.

I'm about to prove this with my handy-dandy LDS Women BINGO card above. I've got a couple of such activities coming up and if I can make it through without a victorious straight line I'll be seriously surprised. And glad.

High on the Pedestal


Source


A few weeks ago I was pounced on by feminist friends who didn't appreciate my observations about the temple. Specifically, I said the temple was based on the premise that women came to earth with "unique endowments that are not common to man." I was told that I was pedestalizing women, putting down men, and that God is not a jerk like that.

But, what if He is?

I mean, if your definition of a "jerk" is treating men and women differently, then I gotta say you're setting God up for a rough review. This is, after all, the eternal power who authored menstruation for women and wet-dreams for men, y'know?

His ways really aren't our ways. Always.

At this point in my ponderings, I think God endowed women with His greatest power, but we are in the chapter of The Plan where outward things are focused on the male-driven offices of the lesser Aaronic and Melchezidek priesthoods. I have hope that further light and knowledge will come so that the awesomeness of women can someday be realized and acted out in the open.


I realize that's terribly unsatisfying for the present time. This is why, when I share my insights, I typically get one or all of these reactions:
  1. "You're making stuff up."
  2. "I reject the temple as it is the product of sexist men."
  3. "If men don't acknowledge our power, what's the point?"

Regarding the first reaction, I can tell you I'm not lying. Go to the temple, hear that the temple endowment for women is our further endowment, and note how Eve is portrayed as a wise, mature, and upright woman alongside the newbie Adam. (If you try to Google this you won't find it.)

As for the second, I will say that a word change here and there would go a looooong way to improve woman's temple experience. Just as important, I think such changes could be in line with how God really sees us. That being said, I'd like to pose a question in response: Without the temple what do we have? The eggs of equality, if you will, would then rest in the singular basket of us being ordained to the Aaron and Melchizedek priesthoods and I can't help but feel that is beneath us. To me it would feel like we were selling ourselves early for a lower price than what we're worth, precluding the possibility that something much greater lies in store. Which leads me to the third item...

The final point is where we come together. I don't like the imbalance of power either! I really resent that we as women have so much to offer and it's constantly overlooked. I feel sick when men who note what I have observed use this insight to speak to women in a patronizing way. I.e. "Ladies, let us run the whole show, because otherwise you'd be too great a force to reckon with. *wink*"

From where I stand, I think there's only two ways out of this rut. We need to pray (literally pray) the president of our church seeks and receives the messages Father promised to send us, and in the meantime stop resting our worth on acknowledgement from men. I see this playing out as we attend church for the ordinances (not the people), call out sexism wherever we see it, and start discussing women in the scriptures and in the modern church. I noticed the Young Women's presidency is starting their research into this and that gives me a lot of hope. 

What I'm suggesting requires a ton of patience and long-suffering. The current Church setup is not just, nor is it merciful to women who find themselves out of place. When I die, and if I'm fortunate to meet God face to face, the second thing I will ask them about is why we had this power dichotomy. (The first question, of course, is going to be about menstruation. WHY?!) 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Priesthood and The Vaginas

I've been taking online courses to be able to code in a computer language called Python. Once a week I am graded on completing an assignment that requires me to write a program that works based on conditions and values that I get to set. It's pretty neat. Lately, I've been applying these concepts to real life situations. Like, IF laundry ignored x 1 week THEN output equals much sorrow in the home. --I can confirm to you that that is a true statement.

With regards to the Church, I've looked over our coded language and I think I've discovered a program that goes like this:

The Priesthood = Men/boys

The Vagina = Women/girls

WHERE Vagina = All sexual female organs (as lawmakers are want to define it)

IF The Priesthood = All that is good and most important
THEN All that is good and important = Men/boys

The Vagina = Makes Men/boys = Vital object 


When I started testing this out, I noticed several patterns. The most common was using Women/girls as object lessons as though they were, well, NOT equal to most important.

Take Elder Nelson's talk, A Plea to My Sisters. I recommend watching it on video. He describes the trial he faced when he was a less experienced surgeon. Two little girls died after he performed heart surgery on them and he was devastated by this. At this point in the story, I thought he would speak about forgiving himself for failing. I was hoping, honestly, that he would speak about those little girls a bit more and talk about the Atonement offering a hope of reunion between them and their grieving parents. Instead, he finishes on a climactic note explaining that with his first wife's urging and having learned from his poor outcomes he was able to operate successfully on President Kimball. And since Pres. Kimball = good and most important, this is supposed to sweep those little girls under the rug of our memory and convert this into a happy, uplifting story. (Listen for the audience gasp of relief.) Those girls, after all, were learning tools for The Priesthood.

The habit of using females as object lessons, once you recognize it, you'll begin to see it everywhere. Take this talk given by Sis. Cordon, Trust in the Lord and Lean Not. Normally we wouldn't think to make a negative example out of someone battling cancer, even lightly, even with their consent. But hey, an object is not a someone thus Sis. Cordon explains how this one poor lady had sunk so low as to feel sorry for herself while she was receiving chemotherapy (imagine that!), but The Priesthood (her husband) wisely put such negativity aside and made sure she could still find a way to be of service. There's even this one super uncomfortable moment in the video where the speaker is relaying the trials of chemo and the audience laughs (7:08). Laughs! To be clear, I'm not saying Sis. Cordon is purposefully trying to come down on this woman, but I am saying that we have a habit of using women to teach lessons through stories that are sad, but not too sad as they're buffered by equating women to something less important, even humorous. Silly vaginas who need The Priesthood to point out their silly ways. Conversely, if you really want to make 'em sweat, talk about The Priesthood nearly falling to its death, facing hypothermia, or anything like that.

We are so used to equating females with objects, as less than human, that we're okay talking about them dying, replacing them, and being upbeat about it. Elder Oaks has done this, and recently Elder Kevin R. Duncan thought that'd be a great Merry Christmas message for the masses.

To me, no better example of this setup exists than in a phenomenon occurring throughout the Church relating to woman's use of the church building. As a matter of policy, a woman should not to be left alone in the church. Many have taken this to mean that The Priesthood should be supervising women whenever they use the facility, even when there are many, many women on the premises (i.e. they're not alone). To try and argue this is to often meet a bishop who simply cannot compute: vagina does not equal person, after all.

Now we can laugh or cry about this all we want. The first step to fixing it is recognizing the pattern and calling it out. In doing so, I hope you won't end up as the object lesson in a cautionary tale of how vaginas women ought not behave.

Addendum:
I wish to point out that in the earlier referenced talk by Elder Nelson, he does go on to say that women are important and their strength is needed. But all of this has been framed by an object lesson that shows how feminine gifts are there to bless the lives of The Priesthood. Instead of being told how "vital" they are to the Church, to The Priesthood, I think an improved experience could be had if we taught women how to find strength within themselves for themselves, to be used as God sees fit. I realize that sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but it's like the difference between telling a woman she is complete and has a direct connection to God, versus saying she can access Him through her husband as a complimentary tool.

All I ask is that we stop using women as object lessons and see them as full persons. Consider that a belated Christmas gift wish. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Polygamy is NOT an Eternal Principle

A few months ago in Relief Society, a sister in my ward casually mentioned that polygamy is an eternal principle. There was no push-back on that, it was just accepted and people moved on.

Except me, of course. I let it simmer in my mind for much longer than I should have.

I eventually reached out to say that while I appreciate the perspective, this conclusion is not official doctrine* and I for one do not believe it, so please be mindful there are differing views in the room. We had a pleasant conversation from there, but the usual tropes came out...


  • I was encouraged to read the scriptures and pray on the eternal nature of polygamy.
  • I ought to think of the sister who never married. --I wouldn't want to let my jealousy stand in the way of her exaltation, right?


All of this assumes God didn't have the foresight or math skills to get the ratio of righteous men and women right in heaven. It also ignores the fact that many more male infants die in their angelic state than females.

So what do I say in response? First, my typical snarky comeback:

"Okay, well, if you're all cool with polygamy, I'll be sure to volunteer you to share your husband with the billions of women who need him to get into Heaven." Thanks for taking a hit for the team!

(I'm a jerk.)

But in all seriousness, my next favorite line to deliver in this case is:


"Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball!"



We should look forward to polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom as much as we would gleefully anticipate sacrificing our sons on altars there, too.


Which is not at all.

Indeed, when referencing polygamy in Doctrine and Covenants  132:50 we read:

Behold, I have seen your sacrifices and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac. (Emphasis added.)

Polygamy hardly seems like a celestial reward when it's likened onto a great trial. Note too that God intends to remove this hardship at some point, though the timing of that is unclear. Many even believe Joseph Smith was able to escape consummating polygamy because for as many wives as he had, we only know of children coming from Emma (modern DNA studies continue to support this).

How then can people say polygamy is eternal? I used to approach this topic from the point of defending my conclusion, but today I've had enough of that. Today I play the offense and ask others how they can still promote an ideology that is not only blatantly false, but just as important hurts so many women!

I could concede a fair counter-argument in favor of polygamy...

If The Creation story featured Adam and Eve and Janet and Cindy. That is to say, if the Male:Female union weren't the standard and ideal from the beginning.  
If LDS polygamy produced more children than would have otherwise been expected of traditional marriage (news flash: It didn't).  
If men routinely outlived women (the opposite is true), allowing them more opportunities to remarry.
And especially if The Book of Mormon didn't deliver a scathing condemnation of polygamy except to allow the case where God tries his people with it (see Jacob Chapter 2, also Genesis 38:9-10). 


Bonded, but not sealed by Krazy Glue


At this point, some might point out that sealings have been performed for multiple women to one man and that this practice still goes on today. That is true, that's not wrong, but it's not entirely correct to understand it that way. One must first realize that the word "sealing" as it is used to describe temple marriage is a misnomer. A "sealing" is not actually a sealing (i.e. enduring) until it is bound by the Holy Spirit of Promise, this is generally understood to take place with a Second Anointing ordinance that includes the Washing of the Feet. When the sealing power was restored to earth and in both Kirtland and Nauvoo, men were married and "sealed" to multiple spouses, but second anointings were reserved (in almost all cases) to the first wife only. This would support the 1:1 male-female union as eternal in nature and anything else as temporary.

Furthermore, Jesus our Exemplar repeatedly showed us that female singularity is key along the path to exaltation. Though obvious, Jesus was born of ONE woman, from a virginal womb. In death, he was laid to rest in a virginal tomb (never used before) and returned into the presence of ONE woman, Mary Magdalene. Similarly, though Abraham had other wives and far-outlived Sarah, when he died he was interred next to his first wife's grave and hers alone (Genesis 25:10). This pattern would be repeated with Emma Hale Smith laid next to Joseph Smith Jr.. These examples give a picture of what the morning of The First Resurrection will look like, and it's not a polygamous model.

Do I point these things out to dig at subsequent wives and single ladies? Do I not care about their eternal destiny? Am I motivated out of jealously to share this viewpoint?

I've taken away nothing. The concluding argument pro-polygamists have always given is not to worry, "everything will work out in the end." That last bit remains true. We both agree that God is love, He is merciful and will take care of everyone in His great plan. The fundamental point where we differ is, I have faith that His plan does not handle women as expendable, dime-a-dozen figures in a play centered on man. Rather, I propose this radical thought that we are of equal worth, and that the singular male-female union is celestial. Worlds without end.


Addendum: I was asked when, if ever, God gives the "green light" to the practice of polygamy. To that I say at most He will give a yellow light, which is to proceed with caution in the following circumstances based on scriptural references:

  1. The Law of Sarah is invoked in a permissible season. That is, when a woman requests that her husband take an additional wife and the Prophet approves it. 
  2. As in OT times, when a man dies and his brother is legally required to marry his widow for protection and provisions. Today there are men who feel prompted to marry a widow who had been sealed to her first husband in order to "raise up seed" to him.
  3. When God decides to try his people? Ugh. But even then I have faith He will provide an escape as mentioned earlier. 

In 2/3 cases, the focus appears to be doing what the woman wants, which I found to be fascinating. And note that the third item can be satisfied by the second scenario described, potentially making this 3/3 pro-woman. 

Also interesting, the Second Chapter of Jacob says polygamy is not to be practiced unless God commands it for "raising up seed." A search of the scriptures reveals that the phrase "raising up seed" by itself is typically used in only two ways: In the general (i.e. not related to polygamy) sense of righteous branches of The Tribes needing to keep their line going, and the more applicable Old Testament setup of brother-in-law duty to widows mentioned above. (We're thankfully past that now.)

As for the prophecy that one day 7 women will grab a hold of 1 man and ask to be called by his name (see Isaiah 4:1), I think it's possible that as the elders flake out on us there will be many righteous single women in the last days who will yearn to have their temple ordinances complete and request good men to stand as proxies for their would-be-husbands. I'm not fretting about this for two reasons: 1) Again, a sealing is not a sealing until it is bound (i.e. things will get sorted out later) and 2) I've already volunteered my RS sister's husband to take care of all that. :)


*Ironically, Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine (which is not actually Church sanctioned) says that polygamy is forever... But he also said blacks would never get the priesthood, so miss with me that

Monday, November 27, 2017

Visions & Emblems

I have had some profound insight into the relationship between man and woman as they work through this mortal condition. I see the cooperative model that is heaven-sent and ideal, but must acknowledge we're just not there yet. This model centers on emblems and seership.

(To dive into this more, where I use "Adam" and "Eve" please fee free to substitute man and woman respectively.)

Adam has forgotten everything, he is as a newborn adjusting his eyes to the world around him. Eve, on the other hand, walked into this world with a recollection of the pre-mortal condition and the callings received there. Her spiritual eyes have great acuity. She also has a former endowment from which to pull power (the temple ceremony is her further endowment), on the order of the Patriarchal Priesthood (if you ask me).


"'The tree was colorful,' hmmm."

In the fallen state, Adam can progress along the path towards God by two means:

  1. Trusting his sense of hearing and following the still small voice of the Spirit
  2. Seeking for and handling the emblems of His Son, as they are his "spiritual braille." Due to his limited vision, Adam is naturally attracted to emblems (and Satan seeks to exploit this).

For the second reason, Adam must be ordained to the Melchezidek & Aaronic Priesthood. Each week, ordained (young) men prepare and bless the sacrament in keeping with this standard. The more they physically hold and examine the sacred emblems, the less likely they are to be fooled by the counterfeit.



"The tree is full of color!"


In the fallen state, Eve can progress along the path towards God by a number of means, depending on the circumstance:


A) Looking at the whole picture, the map if you will, and choosing the correct path
B) Listening to the still small voice of the Spirit when a veil is pulled over her eyes
C) Closing her eyes and trusting Adam's sense of hearing when (and only when) he is hearing and following God



"How do you live like this, bro? Btw, you're going the wrong way."


With respect to B), why on earth (literally) would a veil be pulled over Eve's eyes? I suspect that when a blessing is meant for both Adam and Eve, a state of blindness is required to get them on equal footing as they aim to receive it. When I think about this, I envision a piƱata setup where the more mature, skillful players are blindfolded and the little child* is allowed to do their best without impediment. In the end, both share the candy reward because they've earned it.

As for C), this applies when Adam and Eve are working side-by-side as a team. Were Eve always to reveal answers to Adam, he would not become spiritually self-sufficient. In her wisdom, she chooses when to close her eyes and this is based on knowing when different paths eventually converge to the same endpoint, or terminate at different but equally good outcomes. Does this mean that Adam will sometimes select a path that is more difficult, and inefficient compared to other options? Yes. We experience this same phenomenon with the Spirit who, despite being our constant companion, allows us to make our own choices and does not spare us from all of life's troubles. The ensuing struggles test us and help us to grow.

Eve is, of course, human and therefore not perfect like God's Spirit. She may not always trust the map she's been given, or will prefer to take the desirable path rather than the one that will allow for personal growth. Likewise, Adam is imperfect and may question Eve's perspective, especially since he cannot see what she sees.

Nevertheless, the ideal I've envisioned has Adam purveying emblems of the Priesthood and Eve acting as a seer who explains and ratifies his handling of these sacred symbols. She also warns Adam when an emblem is not of God.

But it doesn't stop there.

The ultimate goal from the Adam-Emblems and Eve-Seership dynamic is for both powers to intersect and merge. In other words, Adam should gain the ability to finally see and Eve should hold sacred emblems herself.

How is that to be done? I believe that happens sequentially this way:

  1. Adam presents a pathway
  2. Eve sees that it is (at least ultimately) good
  3. Eve puts her visual guide aside, and relies on hearing**
  4. Adam focuses on listening
  5. Without a map, Adam must stop, open his mouth, and call out for direction repeatedly
  6. With each petition an emblem appears
  7. Eve (by virtue of her seership) interprets the emblems for Adam, or confirms when he is able to correctly understand the direction they provide
  8. Eve, on the errand of angels, administers the final emblem
  9. Adam can now see what Eve sees

Indeed, if you re-read Moses 5:10-12 paying attention to "see/eyes" and "hear" you will find the pattern described above. (Steps 6-8 are not described explicitly.)

This is a compelling model, but what happens when the process stops at #4? I suggest you have the Church as it is administered today, with women having relatively little power or input. --That is to say input taken to heart by men who hold priesthood keys. It comes down to acknowledgement. It seems many or most men are not even aware of the potential at their side or across the altar. When asked why they (not women) perform the outward ordinances and preside over meetings, the men can only say, "I know not, save the Lord commanded it." And unlike the story told in Moses 5, it stops there. There is no advancement when woman is not engaged

To compound the problem, the women who note their under-utilization are likely to open their eyes, see that what is in front of them doesn't match the ideal, and many of them will shut themselves off (or leave) with disenchantment. Others simply accept the current state of affairs and believe they must defer to men in all things, such is their lot. Either way, fewer emblems appear and those that do remain a mystery. When the men who "hold the priesthood" are perfectly content with this setup they do not call upon God to open their eyes as they are not even aware of their own blindness. So the cycle continues. 

How do we as a church get out of this conundrum? I keep waiting for an angel of the Lord, a woman, to appear with a "live coal" in her hand and start setting $#*+ straight.  Until that happens, my survival guide for women is to acknowledge the emblems and tokens before them and share related insights with other sisters and the men worthy enough to receive them. We must hone our powers in anticipation of the day when we are noticed kneeling across the altar, aflame with the powers of heaven and the greater priesthood. When that time comes, we'll be glad indeed.

*is that insulting to men? See what I have to say about that here
**sometimes referred to as hearkening