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Messages - Sarahgirl

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1
Latter-day Saint Life / Re: Past racism and eternal standards
« on: August 09, 2020, 10:54:51 am »
While I agree that a lot of racism is structural and I am certain there has been and still is structural racism in the church (though some of it may be just part of general US white cultere centeredness that has nothing to do with racisms as such because it affects many around the world) and I also think there has been and still is very racist individuals on the church, I don't think it's that black and white issue as presented - as in everything in the past was wrong for wrong reasons and now everything has to be set right.

While I agree that there will always be people who change their mind and conveniently forget they were of a different mind as a psychological defense, there are always also those who change their mind because they see the errorsof their ways.

But somehow this doesn't sit with me well:
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We saw this with the priesthood ban when many saints claimed that the day the ban was lifted, they “jumped” for joy. However, what were they doing the day before the announcement was made? Many were supporting the racist policy while others, like today, were condemning those who were brave enough to speak out against it. It was not until after the ban was lifted, that many members had the epiphany that the ban was, all of a sudden, wrong.

I don't think that someone supporting the racist policy -as in accepting it as it was presented a will of God - could not honestly and sincerely have jumped for joy when the ban was lifted. I think it's very possible. I think it was totally possible to rejoice and not think the ban had been wrong.

Peronally, I can see that the ban was a manmade structure and was created out of evil racism or well meant racism or just "typical for the times" racism. But I can also see that it was God originated for reasons we will not understand or know in this life.

I see the pain it has caused and still cause. I cannot see the blessings,but that doesn't mean there weren't those.

That's the thing with choices. We cannot know for sure what would have happened if the choice had been different. I can guess if I had married the gay guy what outcome might have been by what his life is like now. I can guess what the outcome would have been if I had married the guy who fights against the church. I can guess the outcome if I had married the guy who is now the only one still coming to church from his family. But I cannot know, what they outcome would have been. I cannot know what the outcome would have been without the ban. I cannot know for sure if God had a hand in it or not. I can pray and ask, but I can't really trust my feelings not to influence in such a matter. I can use logic, narratives and many resources to form an opinion.But in the end I cannot truly, really, honestly know.

So while I do get it is a big and bitter stubling block to many, I feel we should focus more on what happens today in our Wards. Yes, some may say those two cannot separated. I say they should be.
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2
Current Events & News / Re: Brigham Young statue Vandalized
« on: June 27, 2020, 12:12:09 am »
I have to say, and this might match some of the things that Taalcon was saying, but my brain has been mush all week since I'm detoxing from carbs, so I apologize if I'm just repeating stuff.

1. Racism is not all or nothing. It's a continuum, as many sins are. One can be racist with behaviors from simply holding your purse closer to you when you see a black man walk by, or reaching out without permission and touching a black person's hair, or denying that redlining should have an effect currently, all the way to burning crosses in people's yards and participating in lynching. All are racist acts, but are different degrees thereof. Like, a person might say"I follow the word of wisdom," and mean that they don't drink or smoke or do drugs or drink coffee or straight tea, but might not pay attention to tea products in other foods and pay zero attention whatsoever to the amount of meat they eat. But this earthly experience is about learning, and learning takes time and we understand more about things we have done all our lives if we keep our minds open and humble. So know better, do better. Keep trying. It's about the becoming, which is a process and a journey.
2. ALL our leaders have been flawed in one way or another. I think that's part of the purpose, honestly. Because God knows he has to work through flawed humans, but that's part of what makes faith necessary. It's part of the veil that makes the truth cloudy and is why we need the gift of the Holy Ghost (which we should always be learning to hear better) and rely on it heavily. And why we sustain. And why blind obedience needs to be rooted out of our culture. Not that regular rebellion should be a thing, but I believe there is this foggy area where the commands/way things are conveyed are not quite right, but close enough that God won't micromanage, and it will go for a while before we grow into making the necessary adjustments to be closer to Truth. Growing through learning and experience and making mistakes is more effective than just being told what to do. Which is the entire purpose of this life.
3. I do believe that Brigham Young was racist. I feel that someone of his beliefs wouldn't make it to a leadership position today, but it was less extreme in the culture of his day. Were his racist decisions and actions bad? Yes. But know better, do better. And he didn't have the same information back then that we have now. Israelites from Moses's day will not be held to the same standards from Christians in Peter's day will not be held to the same standards to the saints of Joseph Smith's day, etc. Line upon line. Where more is given, more is expected. So BY did the good he was supposed to do, and he was human, and a product of some strong cultural beliefs of his time. It's possible to do all of these. God will judge righteously based on what BY knew was right and what he knew was wrong. I'm glad I don't have to judge.
4. I don't agree with the vandalism. It's part of the modern trend I've seen building for years that if you feel something--an emotion, a reaction, an attraction, a desire--then you should follow it through. I've even seen arguments recently that "no one is allowed to judge or stop me for my reaction to something I've experienced, I feel it and you don't so that makes my behavior totally justified" which is just psychotic, but makes sense that people would start to feel this way after years of indoctrination. Our feelings are VALID, and it's important we try to understand them in ourselves and others--feelings, including sadness, anger, fear, etc., are NOT SINS. But our ACTIONS we can control more, and by our actions we feed or starve, encourage or discourage, those emotions and can become more who we are supposed to be--our best, eternal selves.  That being said, I am charged not to hate others for not knowing (and therefore doing) at the same level as me, or others who are even better.
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3
A lot of inspiration is permissive rather than directive. The Lord can just be signing off on it, not necessarily saying "Behold, verily, this is the bestest of ways!" That's probably one big reason why something can be inspired and not necessarily be the most effective method of doing something. What is problematic is when we get attached to something that the Lord signed off on, and a better way comes along and we resist it, or put too much attachment to the details of an imperfect implementation.

But really, there is also great value to firm commitment to testimonies of the Spirit. So how should we respond to such situations? What should be our approach to inspired direction (whether personal, it through a leader) when we aren't sure how effective it really is? (I don't know, but I felt I'd bring up the question.)
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4
General Conference / Re: 2020 April Saturday Sessions
« on: April 17, 2020, 10:57:21 am »
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that women should always have held the priesthood and officiated over (not in) certain ordinances

This is something that I find particularly interesting, because the way all Baptized men en masse have the opportunity to hold, participate, think about, and officiate in ordinances TODAY, or just in the past ~180 years is in itself unprecedented in the history of the world.

In the Saturday Evening Session, Sister Bingham did something very interesting with how she framed her telling of the Sacred Story, which to me shows a shifting view of how I've seen the Restoration being talked about and considered. She talked about the ideal of equality being modelled with Adam and Eve post-fall, and remarked how part of the Restoration was a process of returning to that ideal. It struck me, as it strongly suggested an acknowledgment that this WASN'T the norm throughout most of scriptural history.

Here's why this struck me --- Less and less, we're not talking about the Restoration as a Restoration To The New Testament Church. It's not "We want to return to what Jesus set up in the first Century." Yes, that was the focus in the 19th Century. It was actually a common idea among many religious seekers - but it's clear the NT Church is very different than the present Church. It's clear we have doctrinal understandings and perspectives that go very clearly beyond what is expressed (and in some cases, even anticipated) in the NT. As we have dug for scraps and references and prooftexts and a word here and a phrase here to prove to others that they believe the exact same things we do now, I think we miss the point. The NT is a starting point, perhaps, (and maybe we got pretty close there in Kirtland Era?) but the ultimate goal is to go further.

The Restoration is being more and more presented as not something that existed in perfection here on earth in a complete historical society. It is a Restoration to the Heavenly Ideal that we knew, left, and lost when we chose to live on earth. And it's about how we all regain it.

In the story, as it's now being told, after the fall, Adam and Eve had this ideal Restored to them. Then they put it in practice. They modeled it.

The way we tell the Adam and Eve story matters because this is the template being used to show us what we are seeking to be restored to. - What Adam and Eve knew, what they were asked to do, what their relationship looked like, etc, etc has continually changed throughout this history of the Restored Church. Their story, more so in the Presentation of the Endowment than anything, can be seen as a block of clay that revelation has been refining and clarifying over the years. The Restoration started out with the very rough story as told in Genesis.

Then the Book of Mormon made the first swift cut of the Restoration when it presented Lehi's take on the story. Joseph's inspired study of the Bible led to additional divinely led molding of the model. The development of the presentation of the Endowment over the years continued that process.

You know the famous saying of Michelangelo, "The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” ?

And remember that famous way Joseph referred to himself? "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priest-craft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."

I find it FASCINATING in this context that the polishing came by direct opposition to evil and that which was incorrect. Most of it was blatant and came for him. But there's an interesting suggestion with this imagery that if there's a time he was unwittingly running in tandem with a force that was incorrect, it wouldn't have chipped off what needed to be chipped off. There wouldn't have been opposition.  But when he DID ask new questions, and DID receive new light and knowledge, and DID recognize a force as being oppositional, and then began to act on it, BOOM, CRACK, REFINEMENT. And even greater light and knowledge.

The Adam and Eve story is the Marble Block God has been using to teach us the ideal of what he is working to Restore us to.

Consider it, too, as a Rough Stone rolling with us as a Church. And throughout time, as we have shown ourselves willing and prepared to work with God, He has helped us refine that statue. As we as a people are willing to ask if some of the forces we are running with should be cast away, and begin to act in opposition to those forces, they will absolutely refine our image of who we should be. As the statue becomes more clear, as well as the scenery surrounding it, we understand a bit more of how humanity should be choosingto live God's Life.

I think we're still learning what we're seeking to fully be restored to.  I think it's part of why Joseph Smith was so opposed to Creeds - creeds declared that the Block of Stone couldn't change. That recitation of how things are understood now must be always, as it were, set in stone.

He got that everything was seen and understood 'through a glass darkly', including his revelatory experiences. He so often went back and reviewed his past revelatory experiences with new eyes, and was willing to correct the messages he had recorded from them. The Revelation text manuscripts is one of the most powerful expressions of this. We see the carving and sculpting process happening in there in real time.

A lot of this is to say, the Temple provides the model of what the present revealed ideal looks like, and we interpret everything (and adjust our practices) in light of it.

Adjustments to the Temple that have interpretive significance should be likely seen as further refinement of the Model Ideal of what God is working to Restore us to.

As a Church, we work to conform ourselves to THAT MODEL, with the humility and recognition that this model may be adjusted.And when it does, I think the intent is that we rejoice at having a clearer picture of what the Restoration means, what we're restoring to.

I think zeal and devotion and working to place oneself at the very least inline to what is presented as the current ideal is right and good, and what we should all strive to do. As long as we are willing to rejoice and continue our work when there is further refinement of the ideal.

A acknowledge that the first priority for all of us should be strive to build up and achieve the ideal as it is presently understood and interpreted. And I believe attempts to defend it are absolutely solid, and right, and good, and necessary.

However, at the same time, we should be open to the possibility of recognizing that the Lord might be pouring out light and knowledge on all humankind to recognize places where humanity (including the Church) has been running in tandem with (rather than in opposition to) something that is incorrect.

We must be open to exploring the possibility that we have been participating unknowingly in the "Blood and Sins of this Generation", and be willing to look inward.

The Key Holder for the Church is the one responsible for pondering these things in relation to the direction of the Church, and if given the confirmation by God, to be willing to move out of tandem with what is incorrect. That very shifting out of alignment (by new actions) would actively cause collisions that would cause that "statue" to be refined, sometimes in ways not anticipated, but in line with God's will.

* We shouldn't assume as an a priori that the Church is out of alignment on any given thing. But recognizing that it has been, and that it may yet be in certain aspects, and that this is part of the process of refinement in revelation can contribute to humility, and can lead one to potentially being open TO change.

As President Uchtdorf taught, and this had a HUGE impact on me, "We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?

One thing I make sure is constantly on my mind in connection to that is that part of that humility HAS TO BE an openess at some point to hearkening to spiritual confirmation that I've gone down the wrong path. That something I saw as being out of allignment was not so. That I was the one out of alignment. That's something I try to always keep in mind.

There are absolutely times where I firmly believed that something about the Church was something that needed to be refined, but I later came to the understanding that it was me who needed to be refined.

In other cases, my feelings that something was off in the Church were later justified by adjustments made within the Church!  I'm grateful for both! It keeps me on my toes!

There's not a period where I feel I was always right, or a period where I felt the Church was the one that was always completely right. They happen concurrently, and at the same time.

It's why I strongly believe that humility to accept that I'm wrong is such an important part of the revelatory process. If one feels they are always right, never concede, never apologize, are never adjusting, and are only insisting others conform to them? That's a BIG warning sign.

The fact that the Church adjusts and is being refined shows me that I need to keep adjusting and refining too.

I don't always talk here about the ways I have allowed myself to be corrected. I realize the nature of the forums and discussion tend to create an image that doesn't exactly present the reality of the ratio as to where my questioning is directed.

There are many times I've grumped about something here, or at home to my wife, or to a friend, and then had them (that included posters here!) say something clear and direct that IMMEDIATELY made me rethink my perspective, and changed me, and humbled me.

This happens often. The subjects I return to here are ones I am still working through, and when I ask questions to clarify an objection, I'm not doing so for ammunition to "destroy" the argument. I'm looking to see if my perspective and experience holds up..

I generally assume those participating here are doing the same. When they challenge an idea, it's not because they want "to win", it because they believe they have an answer that fits the question.

And just as many of you have had your challenges met with objections you didn't anticipate, I fully acknowledge I've found myself in the same boat. Sometimes these challenges make me question the fundamental issue at play. And while disorienting, I am grateful for that.

We've had people here who come and "debate" not to learn, but to WIN. I don't have patience for that. It's frankly why this is the only place I ever share my questions, perspectives, and engage in refining discussion.

Because I trust so strongly that the regulars here are kind, light-seeking, charitable, wise, spirit-filled people.

I probably engage more on a sheer volume level with Andrew than anyone else on here. I continue to, because of how much I respect him, and take his positions, perspectives, and beliefs seriously, and absolutely worth considering and engaging with. It's why I ask so many questions of him to clarify and refine his positions. I  assume they've been well thought out, and often come from places and perspectives I have not considered or experienced.

As much as we come to different conclusions on very sensitive topics, Andrew remains probably my biggest defender on here personally when such a thing seems required. I am so very grateful for that.

It's one thing to have people who regularly agree with you defending you. That feels good, too. But It's another league when someone who regularly thinks you're wrong also so regularly does so ;)

Anyway, this is on topic, because the response DID come from my reaction to Sister Bingham's VERY interesting Saturday Evening talk ;)
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5
Crafts / Re: Knitting/Crochet
« on: March 30, 2020, 07:12:29 pm »
I’m trying to stay productive.

I just finished knitting this, for CrowBaby’s school auction that isn’t happening.  (Maybe they can raffle it off at the beginning of next.). Weaving in ends is next, but I need a day of rest from it.  Not sure why it’s sideways; I took the picture vertically.
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6
In my job working with those struggling with mental illness with other disabilities (as Medicaid is the only insurer in Idaho that covers my service, so everyone I work with has to be on disability), one of the biggest tools I have is helping them see alternative solutions that they didn't see anymore.
For instance: if someone is going blind, they see 2 options: go blind and be miserable (which is therefore unacceptable), or have their vision "healed" (through medical or divine intervention).

The thing is, there are a lot more variations in the first option. Learn braille, assistive devices, audio options, etc. They can have a very full life and be happy if they let go of the idea that sight is required to be happy.

The arguments I'm seeing here are:
1. God miraculously prevent or heal the Covid-19 and clear the path for the meetings, or
2. The meetings aren't really that necessary anyway.

When really, there are a TON of variations and options for this that God knows and we don't, especially if we are narrowly trying to insist that we know the answer. Here are a few things I know:
1. Christ didn't heal every leper or blind person in Israel when he was on the earth. He could have, but he chose not to. The miracles he performed were personal and specific for his own reasons, which I frankly don't need to know. I know enough for the scriptures to know that faith is generally involved, so there are things I can learn, but a VERY important lesson here is that sometimes healing is the right path, and sometimes it isn't.
2. God works through natural means and people when at all possible. While there have been a few divine spectacles in the history of mankind, most miracles are more quiet, and I am pretty sure that's on purpose. In this case, the Church's recent policy in light of Covid-19 is most likely the path that God is using to protect his people and do his work.
3. There are a lot of things that can be learned from this. We are supposed to gather information from our life experiences that can help us grow closer to Christ and become more like him. Sometimes in our attempts to build the kingdom of God, our best efforts are tainted by the fact that we don't know what we don't know, leading our efforts to be less effective than they might otherwise be. In such cases, if needed, God will sometimes allow a 'hiccup' or wrench in the works to occur, to force us out of our well-intentioned but off-course habits. This may be one of those times, though I don't know (and frankly, I don't need to).
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7
Are any of y'all familiar with syncretism?

It's most commonly applied to East Asian cultures, but it's basically a melding of cultures, religions, or ideas.  And it's exactly what all this is talking about.

For instance, we know that much of the Old and New Testaments, the parables and allegories and details thereof, were greatly influenced by the cultural traditions and beliefs of the regions, lifestyles, etc. The Book of Mormon is ROOTED in the same culture, but centuries of separation and an entirely different climate and lifestyle would alter some things.

After I learned about it (listen to a Great Course about Great Mythologies of the World), I realized how much LDS culture and beliefs are syncretic, and how much trouble that causes. The first few decades, as Joseph was receiving revelations, they were all in the context of things like a new country fueled by Manifest Destiny, early Victorianism, the jingoism inherent with a fairly new and hard-won nation-state, the Great Awakening (powerful religious revival that created the hubbub that prompted Joseph to start asking questions), etc.  As God's revelations were not micro-managing, this new religion picked up bits and pieces of the surrounding environment, like a snowball made in shallow snow.  The earliest decades saw some changes as we tried to clarify, discern the bits from the snow and pick them out, etc., but eventually, much of our idea of what constitutes "the church" solidified, freezing some of those traditions in with the actual doctrine. In fact, some near worship of pioneers and such actually strongly discourages any questioning of traditions at all, and many souls were lost when the cherry-picked details of our early members turned out to be not quite accurate.
There are deeper, more subtle bits of flotsam slowly being carefully removed over the years, though. Like separating tares from wheat, or that big stick in the middle of your snowball, it has to be done VERY carefully (which usually means slowly), lest you lose too much of what is good and right. The priesthood ban.  Much of the unrighteous dominion towards women. The unassailable and unquestionable authority of leaders, especially in light of abuse claims. They are not nor ever were doctrine, but became part of the syncretism that was and to a point is what we consider "the Church." 
As the culture around us changes--for instance, race relations or our culture's 180 towards LGBTQ+--we've had to examine ourselves and our policies, to determine what is debris/tare, and what is snow/wheat.  Remove the bad, like racism. Maintain and strengthen the good, like the doctrine that eternal marriage is between a man and a woman.

We don't understand everything. We CAN'T. But I think we get closer as we continue to rely upon God and seek revelation from Him.
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8
Latter-day Saint Life / Re: The Miracle That Did Not Happen
« on: August 26, 2019, 09:47:49 am »
We discussed this in Priesthood yesterday. The consensus view is that Hollywood-style miracles are rare, because Heavenly Father works through a range of tools to reduce the impact on agency of helping us. We talked it through and came to the conclusion that modern medicine is an example of Heavenly Father helping us through the actions of others who have chosen to go into a caring profession and through revelation to the doctors. It is the Hand of God, and we should be aware of it. I watched the video that accompanied the apostate 'Letter to the CES', and the gentleman there was saying that one of the key things in his loss of faith was the promise of an unnamed General Authority that his ears would be unstopped and he would hear again. He complained that it had never come to pass and instead he had to rely on cochlea implants that allowed him to hear. That is an example of someone not being able to see the Hand of God because he has turned away from God.

The other thing that emerged from the discussion was the importance of stepping up and responding to promptings, revelations, and instruction: choosing to do right and choosing to help others. When we do, we can be the conduit for the miracle for another person. We talked about the fact that sometimes prayers are not answered because people in the chain of events that would have sorted out the situation chose not to do the right thing, chose to stay in bed, or go in another direction. Agency is the whole reason we are here, so sometimes good people suffer because other people choose to do the wrong thing or fail to do the right thing. If we live up to our covenants and do what we can to help others, then we are part of the everyday miracles that answer the prayers of the faithful. We concluded by agreeing how important it is for us to begin to recognise these miracles, and to understand the scripture that by small and simple things are great things achieved.

I like Priesthood
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9
Latter-day Saint Life / Re: Giving wrong examples?
« on: July 11, 2019, 03:05:39 am »
I think my point was more general, but I'l comment on a few things first.

but perhaps that is about my point too, the assumption that it works the same way everywhere... It seems it really is a different culture over there. Yes, I've heard expressions such as "I felt oh no, when brother XX approached me and asked me to give a talk", "I was hoping he would pass me and go to ask someone else", but that is the about it. And that is not that many, certainly not any kind of norm. The only kind of "norm" about talks that have been seen at times is "today I will talk about subject X". Which you rarely hear anymore, because in every Ward I've been in, there has been lessons about giving talks, for youth and adults. Of course there are people who don't give that good talks, but that's another matter. For my son I also know there reasons behind his fears and they are not about this.

But at the same time, there is no stigma here about being good in school or liking mathematics. (my kids like it, two out of four love it!) I know this, because I am a teacher. The only similar thing that does exists is the thought parents pass on to their children about not being good at maths or languages, because they struggled with them at school. But even that is quite rare.

And I've served for several years in Primary in different Wards and I have only heard three children give talks that were written by their parents (they're from Philippines), unless the parents have used very childish language and grammar.

My point was more of a why would one focus on thinking something as a bad example instead of a good one. Why would not one think that the nephew with red hair is a good example of a person keeping the commandments even though he has some funny things going on or insecurities or what ever. Or a good example of a bishopric who see the person not the outward appearance. Why would not one think that the Stake President is a good example of parent letting the child use agency and coming to church as she is, instead of perhaps pushing her totally away from church with his demands? (Dress wise I'm usually on the side of thinking parents could do more, maybe should have done more earlier on, but still I would not think of their choices as an example either way).

I can see the point in thinking someone is a good example to others. But I can't really see a point in thinking someone sets a bad example. I think anyone coming to any church function in any way is giving a good example. Anyone doing the right thing, however imperfectly, is setting a good example.

The dressing issue is dear to me. And I know it is hard for some kids to follow the assumed standards because of how adults dress and don't follow those standards. Is it still about setting a bad example or just irritating because you have to have the discussions about how everyone makes their own choices etc.
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10
For being such a huge focus of our theology and practice, we don't know much about Sealings at all, if we're honest.

By the way, my take on Nehor (and the thrust of the versions of Universalism fronted by the antaonists of the Book of Mormon) was HIS idea (the one refuted) was that those who are "wicked still" would eventually get a ticket that would essentially work as a 'get out of jail free' ticket. That they might get "beat with a few stripes" (see! here's the punishment you deserved!) and then, having experienced "justice", could walk into heaven and start a kegger.

Joseph Smith's Vision (D&C 76) offended SO many people because it appeared TOO universalistic that, after a VERY BAD first response to it, he basically put it in his back pocket, and didn't talk about it a lot until the end of his life, and others tended to follow that lead. And then in Nauvoo, universalism exanded even wider with Proxy Ordinances, and Temple developments that expanded on, clarified, and adjusted the original understanding of the Vision from the 1830s.

We (and I) believe that God will not (and cannot) suddenly MAKE someone  into someone fit for an Eternal Zion with the snap of a finger (Thanos-like!) But I do believe he believes all of us have the potential to get there. A belief that all will be saved in their sins, and that all will get in after being beat with a few stripes is absolutely not the same as a hope that all will eventually take advantage of and recognize God's love and experience the Great Change.

There's false doctrines of Universalism (it doesn't matter who you've become, you'll be let in as-as; those who deserved punishment will get beaten to serve justice, and then that punishment will cleanse you, and you'll be let in) that go with a lack of understanding about the nature of the Heavenly Community, that assume Heaven is a Far Away Country Club you get a ticket to get into, rather than a community you will be(come) a natural PART of.

I view Sealings as complimentary to that. They are promises to God of your goal to be Part of the Celestial Community, and these are the People you desire to be united with in that community. God's promise is essentially, if you stay on this path, you will be united with those you desire to be united with.

Perhaps if we use the word "united" rather than "together" it makes more sense? It might not have the same flow, but "Families can be united together with heavenly Father's plan" seems more accurate to the endgoal, and can offer hope. I know people who the idea of "families can be together" seems more like a threat than anything. "United" suggests being one in purpose and vision, rather than physically together. Which, as has been pointed out, theologically doesn't make any sense if you think about it for more than 10 seconds.

"Marriage Sealings" seem to be a long the lines of "this is who I want my eternal covenant partner to be" in continuing God's work. Something else we know SO little about. Maybe family life here is the visual symbol we take from that (it's by far the most popular). Maybe it's more like a Mission (seeking out, identifying, and finding Eternal Beings to love and to guide to their potential like Our Parents did). Maybe it's seeking after others lost that we don't even consider. Maybe it's all of those things, maybe it's neither.

My hope is that I will be a covenant partner with my spouse doing good, and that I will be able to continue to rejoice in my children's joy as part of the Eternal Family. I don't really go far beyond that, personally.

There's a lot we don't know. But what we consistently DO know is that nothing in this plan has to do with compulsively making someone something (or taking someone somewhere) they are not, or do not desire to BE (or be WITH).
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11
Latter-day Saint Life / INSIGHTS: From the Weekly Reading Assignments
« on: January 10, 2019, 10:27:59 am »
Thought it might be cool to have a place here where we can share insights for the readings we're all assigned throughout the year. They can be of any variety. Personal application, thematic, historical, etc.

I want to start with something that has really stood out to me - the personal and distinct nature of the point of view and audiences of the writers of the Gospels, and their approach to Jesus.

Mark, the oldest version (and used as a source by Matthew and Luke) begins his gospel with a matter of fact declaration of Jesus' sonship, and explained it only in terms of "God Declared It." I've found it cool the parallel between that declaration and the Psalm, "You are my son, today I have begotten thee", which is understood to be part of the ceremony where Kings of Israel had their coronation and were anointed. For Mark, the explanation is good enough. "He's God's Son, because God said so." Whether that sonship first began there at the waters of baptism or not isn't important to him. For him, at that moment, he was God's Son, and that's all that mattered going forward.

Matthew, speaking to a clearly Jewish audience added his prologue explaining Jesus' origin. Matthew very clearly starts out with damage control.

Of course there were rumors about Mary. Divine Parentage was not part of the general Jewish story and tradition, at least not in the way the Mary story would require. (There was a popular expanded myth of that time about rebel angels having had children with women, but that was a Bad Thing, and was the explanation for evils and demons in the world). Matthew begins his gospel essentially saying, "No matter what you believe about Mary's claim, it doesn't ultimately matter."

First, he emphasizes that Jesus is a Son of David, and then he includes the genealogy of Jesus' known legal adoptive father, descended through David, including key women who had a hard life, accomplished important things and were seen as righteous heroes, even though they were not the typical ideal in terms of the role of sex in their stories.

Rahab was the prostitute who assisted the Israelite spies in taking Jericho.
Tamar uses guile to sleep with Judah, who was not doing his levirite duty and to give her an heir.
Ruth, a Moabite, knew she needed Boaz, and forthrightly took her opportunity.
Bathsheba was raped by King David

Matthew concludes that Jesus is the rightful son of David by Adoption (Joseph), and the Dream Vision declared to Joseph that Mary is righteous and should be honored along with heroines of scriptural history, and that it is all compatible with scripture, that the child that has been conceived will be holy and is of God / the Holy Spirit.

And the Isaiah scripture he specifically uses he uses in a way that is clever. While the quoted greek uses parthenos (virgin), the underlying hebrew was 'alma', 'young women', and the verse was generally understood contemporarily as referring to the (non miraculous) birth of King Hezekiah. Matthew knew both of these things. He was being clever, for a wide audience. They could accept either understanding, and it didn't matter. Either way, Mary gave birth to someone who could be understood as the True Heir of David, and she was to be seen with honor. Matthew does not specifically go out of his way to advocate for the Virgin Birth narrative. Which leads us to understand he was aware of it, and either was not sure of its accuracy himself, or simply understood that many in his audience would not be sure. He does not reject it, but leaves room for both. This is fascinating, and makes Matthew, the author, much more of a real person in my mind.

Luke, a Gentile convert speaking to gentiles, on the other hand, didn't have any qualms. He and his audience would have been VERY familiar with stories of demigods, of Gods giving birth to children through human mothers. Many of the greek heroes had this Claim to Fame. This part of the story, difficult for a Jewish audience, would have been just a footnote, generally met with an, "Of course, that makes sense." - it's not couched in double meanings or plausible deniability. He has a named angel Gabriel make a direct unequivocal statement, and even has Mary herself making the claim that she has not had prior sexual contact. Luke reaffirms his Davidic ancestry through his legal adoptive father, but also suggest that, biologically, he, through Mary, was descended from the Aaronic Priestly line (Mary was said to be a relative to Elizabeth, explicitly said to be of a Priestly line). From his Legal Father, Jesus would have had a right to Kingship. Through his mother, he has a Priestly Lineage, and through God, he was Divine and could speak for God. Each parent, according to Luke, would justify his roles. Prophet. Priest. King.

John bypasses ALL of that. He doesn't affirm him becoming the Son of God at his Baptism. He doesn't affirm him becoming the Son of God at his Conception. For John, he's the Son of God, because at his core he's the co-eternal Light who's been there from the beginning of Time!

I love all of this! I love seeing the early Church trying to grasp and struggle to understand who Jesus was, what He meant to them, and also finding out the best (and most important) ways to share this identity to the world. Jesus certainly didn't make his Origin Story part of his preaching ministry. He was always pointing to His Father, and making the point that he represented Him, and was there to reflect the Father back to them. He was there because God Sent Him. And he was sent to share the Gospel of God's Deliverance. And in the scheme of things, the circumstances of his birth were irrelevant to the acceptance of that message.

Whatever we may have learned more about Jesus through modern revelation, this insight into the earliest of Jesus' followers, and how they approached telling his story, resonates with me, and humbles me.

So I thought I'd share it. :)

What insights have you had?
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12
News of the Church / Re: Temple
« on: January 08, 2019, 09:29:01 pm »
I received my endowments at age 23, in late 1993, with no marriage or mission in sight, either.  I know that this was a RECENT CHANGE in policy at the time, both because I had looked into it before (and been told NO because I was not going on a mission nor engaged), AND because the bishop who suggested this told me the policy had RECENTLY CHANGED.  There was some dithering over the next few years, with women being allowed to get them for a time and then not (w/o mission/marriage prep), then allowed to again.  Whether or not you were allowed to do so depended on what window of time you tried to do it as well as how strictly your priesthood leader adhered to the policy.

We know from Christ's own words in Matthew 19 that there are aspects of the law (small L) through Moses that were not completely doctrinal, but were allowed to be adjusted because of the hardness of people's hearts.  Yet throughout the scriptures, the Lord repeatedly says listen to Moses, do what he told you, follow the law he gave you.  I feel there are a lot of reasons for this, none of which violate what I know about the Lord. 
1. If our hearts are hard, the Lord won't give us as much.  Not just because we are not worthy of it, but also (possibly more) because it would hold us accountable for things we don't have the capability of properly keeping.
2. The Lord speaks to man in his own language.  This doesn't just mean the words used, but the understanding that comes from culture and society as well.  There are things we are not currently capable of understanding because it is so vastly different from how we see the world on a very basic level.  The Lord doesn't fault us for that, he works with us where we are and helps us move forward as we are ready.
3. Sometimes, extra rules are there not because of the core rule, but because of our unwillingness to understand or work with a rule to meet the end goal.  For a real-world example, while working with an intellectually disabled client today, she asked me why they didn't allow food in the library, and said she thought it was a stupid rule.  I explained that the reason for the rule wasn't as much that food in the library was inherently bad, but that the library's primary role was to provide books and resources for the public, and food, when misused, could both cause problems with the primary role (by damaging books or equipment), and distract/take resources from the primary role (by requiring extra work to clean up after sloppy patrons and possibly pest control for food waste). 

Did I think that the endowments as they stood were wrong and evil?  No, even though they made me sad in my situation.  Can I understand and sympathize with those who never saw a problem with them?  Yes, especially because I saw them that way myself for a number of years.  Do I feel that the endowment ceremony as it stands now is 100% without error?  I can't answer that yes or no, because I feel it's far less concrete of a thing than many of us believe.  I do know that I am more comfortable with the changes.  But there may be others who still struggle with other aspects...and that may be indicative of a need for them to align a little better, or the ceremony details to align a little better; I don't know.  I am not in a position to judge that at all, either way.

All I know is that I believe that the church, because it is living, grows line upon line and precept upon precept and more perfect with effort, just like we do.  Because, while it's led by the Lord, it is made up of people.  And we are neither perfect nor ready for complete perfection, and that's why the Lord has the long, complicated process of life set up, rather than a 90 minute oral exam.  If there's stuff I don't understand now, I work on understanding.  Lots of understanding comes from obeying until you understand (it is through the doing that we learn most). Sometimes what we come to understand is that certain procedures may not be perfect, but we work to obey as our conscience allows and learn anyway.  I have found that if I am patient, diligent, careful, and as obedient as I can be, that one of 2 things usually happens: either I come to understand the reason behind the uncomfortable rule, or the uncomfortable rule is changed.  In this case, it was the latter.
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13
Current Events & News / Re: The Feel-Good Thread
« on: October 24, 2018, 06:05:00 pm »
Sarah, thank you for sharing this. It is a sweet reminder to let people know how their actions better our lives or those we know.
It was about 7 years ago, maybe a few more that you helped me out by taking a birthday cake to a son I was very concerned about. You have such a good heart - thank you.
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14
Film, Theater, and TV / Re: What are you watching?
« on: March 08, 2016, 11:31:29 pm »
We started watching "Fuller House" with the kids.  We wanted to show our kids all of the actors from the old show.  After the first few episodes, there started to be a lot of innuendo, which our sixth grader was picking up.  So we don't watch it anymore.
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