Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Search for a Mother

I understand the desire to know a Heavenly Mother. When I was exploring religious options I became very close to the concepts in Wiccanism. There are many varieties of Wiccanism (including the gothic dancing in the park variety, though that wasn't the one that resonated with me.) All varieties, however, worship a Lady to some extent. As a self-hating girl, this was one of the things that appealed to me the most. Perhaps through the worship of the Lady, I could come to know, understand and love myself better. As time passed and I prayed to know the truth, I received confirmation that God led the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and not Wiccanism. This doesn't mean that I understand all things about the Church and its doctrines. I have seen many conversations in the Bloggernacle, especially on the more pro-feminist sites, that discuss the Church's doctrine of a Mother in Heaven. Most of the time, they express dissatisfaction in the Church's dealing with and practical acceptance of this doctrine. "Why can't we pray to Mother?" seems to be the greatest of these complaints. Most of those who address this have varying reasons for (or accusations against) this doctrine.

As we grow as children, we go through phases where we are closer to our mothers and phases where we are closer to our fathers as we learn who we are in this world. A theory that once occurred to me ("cute" though it may be) is that in the pre-existance, we had our Mother-time, and now we have our Father-time. Thus, we now pray to our Father where we once communed more with our Mother. As mortals, we only see the here and now and often forget that our existence stretches beyond our memories. We see this small moment in our beings as unfair because our Mother isn't here. With a truly eternal perspective, I suspect that we will understand the greater picture of our Heavenly Parents.

One of the more interesting arguments as to why the active worship of a Mother in Heaven is allowable under the true, original gospel is to put forth Asherah of Old Testament infamy as Heavenly Mother. If this is the case—not only that the worship Asherah was pagan, but that it originated in revelation from God—than it illustrates poignantly why that worship is not currently allowed. The worship of Asherah was shockingly lewd. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that it was a wild brand of fertility worship probably dating back to the worship of the Mother Goddess of prehistory. This sort of worship violently opposed chastity, modesty, family and propriety. It spawned (or was closely associated with) Molech sacrifice. It encouraged idolatry and dichotomized worship of the God of Abraham. Many of the more obscure tenets of Moses' law were framed to outlaw Israelite worship of the Mother goddess as inherited from their Egyptian masters.

Naturally, many who argue for the reinstitution of Mother worship also disregard the importance of chastity, modesty, family and propriety as outdated, patriarchial concepts. In this sense, as for me and my house, I prefer the Lord of Israel's way.

In addition, a greater Church encouragement of knowledge of and prayers to our Heavenly Mother would lead to a division of worship. Truthfully, Mother and Father in Heaven are inseparable. They are One, unified. As mortals, we find it nearly impossible to understand this concept, especially in this Age of Individuality. We worship the Self, we venerate independence. Obvious worship of a Mother in Heaven in our weak understanding would most likely lead to a division in the Church. Some would lean towards Mother, others towards Father. In our ignorance, we would create "sides" and then believe that there was something vital to be gained from one side or the other. It already happens, even without Church-sanctioned prayer to Heavenly Mother, as evidenced by the number of people who (mostly anonymously) admit to praying to their Mother. Most of them see themselves as more spiritually progressed than their siblings who do not pray to Her. The concept serves to divide, not unite. It does nothing to help us prove our obedience and dedication to the Lord. I suspect that any further knowledge of Mother is suspended until we are ready to worship both Her and Father properly.

Furthermore, we pray to the Father, not to Christ. I reiterate that we, as mortals, have almost no ability to truly understand equality. We continually conflate it with sameness or wander into superiority of one kind or another. (Use the feminist movement as an example. Very few, if any, feminists truly believe in equality. Most believe either in sameness—that there are no differences—or in swinging the pendulum to the side of female superiority. We seem unable to truly understand different-but-equal in any practical sense.) Therefore, in our mortal doctrine, Christ is spectacularly subservient to the Father. The hierarchy of Heaven is made obvious to us, so our mortal minds might understand what is necessary to return to God (namely, the sacrifice of His Son and all the doctrine associated with it.) If we included a more active role of Mother, how would the Church present this heirarchy? Either Mother would in some way seem subservient to the Father, or the Father would in some way seem subservient to Her. Neither eventuality contributes to the purpose of our mortal lives. At present, all we can do is speculate on how our Parents could be of one mind, and pray and wait patiently until we know the truth.

In the end, the only real answer is one most people will hate: we don't pray to Her because we have been commanded not to. We don't know the reason, but we will, given time. Patience is a virtue that is becoming rarer as this world winds into the final Act, but it is vital in the search for humility and exaltation.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Amish Conversion

I've decided that I am going to be Amish. True, you may have to live without plumbing, but I find that a fair trade for Corporate America. There are many positives to being Amish. My top ten reasons:
10) No Insurance. I feel that Insurance Is Of The Devil. But that is a topic for another post.

9) No Telephones. I hate. Hate. HATE telephones. Convenient though they may be, I already try to use them for business only. I have too much trouble understanding voices without people behind them. I feel like I'm trying to talk to someone through a cotton gag.

8) Defined Gender Roles. No more guessing what my place and duty are. I'd know what I am, I'd know what I am to do, and I'd have the freedom to focus on doing it.

7) Community & Family. I would be a contributing part of a community. No longer a floating number on a list, I'd be a real person with real strengths and weaknesses. I'd have a reason to be alive, and be supported in that reason. It might have its downsides, but I'd be able to fulfil one of my dreams: to go to a barn raising.

6) Farming. I'm a born farm girl who has been largely corralled into cities most of her life. No more suffocating in nasty city air. I much prefer nasty farm air.

5) Clothes. No more shopping. No more horridly bright "spring" colors. No more nasty "Zero to . . . " shirts. No more waiting in lines. No more shopping carts engineered to go six different directions between four wheels.

4) Communal Governance. No taxes. No presidents. No politicians.

3) Germanity. I pine after Germany. The Amish are about as close as it gets on the western continent.

2) No Corporate America. I've already mentioned this, but it bears its own place in the list. This is probably the number one good reason. Well, maybe after horses.

1) Horses. I love horses and have been going through withdrawals for years. I tear up with I pass a field dotted with beautiful equines. Ah, the inhumanity!

Forget all of this "in the world" blather. Now I just have to figure out how to get in without changing my faith. Do you think they accept Mormons?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Separation and Self

I have a concept that's been nagging me for awhile. It dates back to a past thread and a post by another blogger that used my comments as an example of exclusion. To put a bit of background to it, someone was expressing a feeling of being left out by the Church policy of temple marriage, with a caveat that those policies should be changed somehow to include those not worthy to enter the temple. The corollary was that family (especially at weddings) was more important than the sacredness of the temple ceremony, and that by excluding people from the temple, the Church was belying its own family-oriented tenets. My comments essentially were meant to say that the Church excluded no one from the temple ceremony, but an individual's own choices excluded them. Though I see this point of view of one barred from a temple ceremony, I don't agree with it.

If I had friends or family who believed in a religion and had a very sacred ceremony that I could not attend, I'm not saying I'd skip with joy, but I'd respect their faith and not expect them to change it to suit me. I would probably not convert (since my beliefs are elsewhere,) but I would accept that it was my choice of faith that excluded me, not the faith itself. I really don't understand why blame must be fixed to the institution.

In addition, I feel that it is not of God to include everyone in everything, no matter their personal choices. In order for the orders of glory to be valuable, there must be rules set to govern those orders. Those rules must be met in order to receive the glory. It makes no more sense to admit everyone to the temple than it would to award everyone an "A" no matter the effort or answers given. If everything is rewarded equally, than there can be no measure of progression - or indeed, no progression at all. There would be no goal to reach, no standard to attain, and no real choices to make. All would be saved, yes, but that salvation would be without meaning. All would pursue their own right and wrong with no substance or direction.

In essence, all would be as Satan would have it. I wish someone who feels otherwise could explain to me why it would not be that way, rather than just rejoicing in their believed superiority of inclusion.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Just Another Mother's Day?

This is my very first Mother's Day as a mother. It feels odd to me. It seems to me that Mother's Day has at least as much angst associated with it as Valentine's Day. Much like Valentine's Day, however, my only beef with Mother's Day is the profuse amount of pink.

I don't like pink.

But otherwise, I've never had the relationship/status-envy that these holidays seem to generate. I never stood up for a gift before I was a mother (I didn't this year, either, but they found me anyways.) I never felt all of this social guilt or disappointment.

My question is why-oh-why do people use holidays as guiltfests, rather than just relaxing and honoring whatever the holiday is there to honor? Does it always have to be personal? What is wrong with focusing on honoring your mother, rather than focusing on yourself? Even if your mother was a venomous harridan, you should be able to at least honor the idea of motherhood.

I love the quote: There are billions of planets orbiting around billions of suns in billions of solar systems orbiting in billions of galaxies, all orbiting around the center of the universe.

That center . . . is not you.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pain of Progression

In a fairly recent thread at FMH, a long discussion ensued about the temple ordinances separating family members from each other. I'm not really sure why I feel as hurt as I do over the issue. I guess I still cling to a romantic idea that somehow hard choices will be honored. Let me try to clarify what I mean (though it is far from clear in my mind.)

I think that society is leaning towards an attitude that acceptance is virtue. I disagree with this in a sense. Although it is important to love and accept people, the same is not true of ideas. You have a choice. Either you accept all ideas, and end up as a relativist (all things are true, depending on who you are,) or you draw a line somewhere, saying this is true and that is not. I hurt when I think of relativistic philosophies, because I feel that it is an adversarial plan to mask sin with intelligence. Intelligence is good, so if the adversary can draw a veil of sophistry over error, it can appear good to the casual glance. Society has become such that if you do not agree with everyone's opinion, you are close-minded. Therefore, those who call themselves open-minded can be automatically superior. They build walls around their sanctuary of "everyone is right," and anyone who disagrees is ignorant. Thus, they can feel safe in their self-defined superior opinions, and ignore anyone they choose to ignore without feeling the need for further self-examination. The irony is that they are not truly open-minded, they are only open-minded to predefined ideas. They are indulging in a subtle form of pride that allows them to mistake self-satisfaction and comfort for happiness.

Unfortunately, this is a plan of the adversary, and lulls people into accepting themselves for who they are, rather than for who they can become. They no longer feel any need to improve or change, and they are caught in the great and spacious building, pointing fingers at the unfortunates still clinging to the rod of iron below them.

There is a delicate balance for the faithful to walk. Those who have worked and prayed, and painfully changed see things differently than they did. They understand that questions are okay, that people are not evil for questioning authority. They can also testify to the efficacy of searching. Because I have prayed, pondered and studied, I can vouch that those things have changed me. I can testify that God has guided me to peace. Unfortunately, that is all I can do. In this sense, I find myself with hard-earned oil that I cannot share. The oil only works for me. The five wise virgins were not selfish with their oil, they simply had no way to share it. All they could tell the foolish is that if they went to the market themselves, they would find those who sell, and they could buy for themselves. This brings me to my second heartache.

No matter what the wise say, they foolish will see them as hard-hearted, selfish and prideful. "How could they not share?" they ask, "They have plenty." It is easy to see how the five foolish must have felt, alone and cold outside of the bridegroom's door. How their hearts must have ached! How they must have wept bitter tears of regret. What is often overlooked are the feelings the wise must have felt. They were wise and kind, they must have longed to share their oil with the foolish. After entering the chamber, they must have missed their friends, and wondered if they were alright, outside the door. It could not have been any easier for them than it was for the foolish. It could not have been easy for the bridegroom - he who had invited ten, to have only half show up to the feast. How it must have felt to him, to know that his feast wasn't important enough to the five for them to have properly prepared.

Unlike this parable, however, it is not possible for the bridegroom to simply open the door. Certain requirements were set to attend the feast. Those who did not meet the requirements cannot have the same reward as those who did, can they?

It is hard for me to see people ask for the blessings of the Lord when they do not do the laws that are set forth to earn those blessings. It is especially hard, because I have made the heart-wrenching, uncomfortable, painful choice to risk everything of value to me for this one thing. Do they think it is easy for me to contemplate losing my marriage or my child for discipleship? Do they think I thoughtlessly dedicated every day of my life to nothing more than a promise of something better? Why do they think I would do such a thing?

Apparently, to some, it is so I can hurt people. That is the perceived motivation for my actions, and that breaks my heart. It would seem that the foolish who ask for oil are the same who mocked the wise for buying the oil early.

Of course, this doesn't account for those who have truly searched and not yet found.

So of the three states: foolish, wise, and searching but not yet wise, I feel that I am all three. There are some things I have procrastinated. There are some answers I have not yet received. But the things which the Lord has shown me, the feelings that I have had in the past, I have used as oil to see me through the dark times of searching. Even when it feels my oil has run out, and I cannot see, I know that the Lord once provided oil, and that He won't let me fail.

Faith is not to step into a darkened room with a single burning lamp. Faith is to keep walking when you have nothing but the memory of light. Faith is trusting the Savior to catch you when you fall.

Faith is knowing that the opinions of others in no way diminish what I have felt and what I know.

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