Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish’d thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom’d us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They’are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may’st know mee, and I’ll turne my face.

John Donne

In defense of boring meetings

Today’s guest post comes to us from Mike C. In case you haven’t already seen it, don’t miss his recent guest post at fMh.

Main entry: bored for the Lord

Definition: the practice of sitting through LDS Sunday meetings in a dull stupor as a demonstration of true devotion and faith

Etymology: variant of lying for the Lord, early Mormonism (ca. 1848)

Synonyms: PEC attendance, reading handbook #2, sitting still during hometeaching visits if you are younger than 18

Antonyms: teaching Sunbeams (see also, frazzled for the Father)

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Women Who Have Inspired Me

Thanks to my fabulous RS president, my ward had an RS-centric sacrament meeting last Sunday, to observe the Relief Society birthday. I gave one of the talks, and several people requested that I blog it–so here it is. (This is a longer version of the talk I actually gave, since I was trying not to go over on time.)

I had a lot of fun thinking about this talk, because once I started making a list, I realized just how many women have inspired me and influenced both my faith and the way I see the world. To name just a few: Eliza R. Snow, arguably the first female theologian in the church, whose poem that became our hymn “O My Father” presented the doctrine of Heavenly Mother. As a theologian, I find that an encouraging precedent.1 Or Pulitzer Prize-winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who gives me hope that I can integrate various aspects of who I am when she writes “I am a Mormon. And a feminist. As a daughter of God, I claim the right to all my gifts.”2 Or Catholic theologian Elizabeth Johnson, whose book She Who Is has made me seriously think about the importance of the divine feminine.3. Or Deborah of the Old Testament, who served as both a prophetess and a judge. Or poet and essayist Kathleen Norris, whose thoughtful writings about faith have left me with much to ponder.4 But for this talk, since you probably would prefer I didn’t go on for hours, I will limit myself to a few particular women.

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  1. I am grateful to Deidre Green for this observation. []
  2. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Border Crossings,” All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich & Emma Lou Thayne (Salt Lake: Aspen Books, 1995), 198. []
  3. Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York: Crossroad, 1992 []
  4. Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998). []

And it came to pass that women were asked to pray in General Conference . . .

Just in case you haven’t seen it yet:

For Mormons yearning to see women take on more visible roles in their religion, their prayers have been answered:

The Salt Lake Tribune has learned that LDS women are scheduled, as of now, to offer invocations or benedictions at next month’s General Conference — an apparent first in the faith’s 183-year history.

Read more here.

Quench Not the Spirit

One of the warnings I heard frequently as a teenager was not to be in an environment which would drive away the Spirit. Inappropriate movies, inappropriate music, friends behaving badly—hang around with any of them, and the Holy Ghost would take off in the other direction. (Also, rumor had it that the Holy Ghost went to bed at midnight, which was why we should be home by then, too.) But when I think about this idea now, I’m a bit confused by it. If the Holy Ghost can’t be in the presence of anything impure or remotely tainted by sin, it’s not going to be much help to us bumbling, imperfect mortals. And if it’s true that it’s most prone to leave in spiritually toxic situations, it seems that it disappears exactly at the time we need it the most. Read More

Gender-neutral Language in Conference

In a recent discussion in a Facebook group, I guessed that one way the Church might have improved recently in its treatment of women is in GAs using more gender-neutral language in talks. My memory is that President Hinckley, for example, when he quoted scriptures talking about men, would sometimes explicitly point out that it included women as well. But I’ve never actually studied the question systematically. Until now.

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A Mormon Story

Once upon a time there was an elderly woman who continually checked her mailbox. Every day, she was disappointed that she failed to get any mail (despite the fact that her mailbox was three times as big as the one next to it.) Finally, one day, she got a letter. But alas, the shock of it killed her. Read More

The Virtues of Vagueness

After President Dalton’s much-discussed “you . . . will see no need to lobby for rights” talk, Galdralag wrote a post in which she asked, “Why don’t our leaders clarify their remarks more often?”

I think this is a great question. Church leaders frequently say things that sound vague to me, often intentionally vague. This puzzles me. I would think if they have messages from God to share, they would want to come right out and share them, and not beat around the bush so often. Certainly they’re not always unclear–I think I can venture to conclude, for example, that they don’t like porn–but a lot of the time they are.

In this post, I’ve come up with a list of possible reasons for their sometime vagueness. (Some of the better ones I’ve borrowed from Andrew S’s post on the Church’s statements on caffeine last year at W&T.) In the comments, please let me know which of these you find more or less plausible, and also other causes you think might be important. This is kind of a laundry list of seat-of-the-pants thinking, so I won’t be surprised if you disagree with some (or all) of my ideas.

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