Friday, June 07, 2013

Book Review: "Women in Eternity, Women of Zion"

I have been slowly reading Alma Don Sorensen and Valerie Hudson Cassler's book "Women in Eternity, Women of Zion" with my friend, Fara, this past year.  Slowly because it is dense and because with this book I am reading every scripture reference cited and every endnote and making notes in margins and crossing out and rewriting as I go.  Which means that it has taken me over a year so far.

I have one last chapter to go.  It is a well written and thoughtful book.  Some things I found enlightening and helpful. Other things seemed simply a good attempt at understanding that I felt fell short or missed the mark.  So if you decide to read this book, which I  recommend, I'd suggest that you read it not expecting it to be a be-all and end-all source of answers, but rather as a vehicle for carefully sorting through the authors' take on the subjects they tackle and adding to your understanding the ones that you find enlightening and helpful.  That gleaning process has been well worth the time for me.  Though I certainly have not agreed with every idea the authors put forward,  every chapter has left me with at least a few valuable gems of insight and most have left me with many.

In particular I would say that chapter 2 on gender equality in eternal life offers a compelling analysis of Doctrine and Covenants descriptions of celestial glory that I found well worth researching and mulling and that chapter 7 on monogamy and polygamy contains the most articulate analysis of Doctrine and Covenants section 132 that I have read to date.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

On the below-mentioned comment thread Melodynew added her thoughts on teaching about priesthood as part of the youth Sunday school lessons this month.  I thought they were worth saving for future reference.  Here's my slightly enhanced version of what she wrote.

I taught these lessons last year to my 14 & 15 year-old Sunday school class consisting of both YM and YW. (Our stake was among those that piloted the program.) These are some of the points I brought into the discussion throughout the month.
1. The power of the priesthood is the power of God. The power of God is Love. The priesthood is God’s Love made manifest through human beings.
2. God and God's celestial glory can only exist as a man and woman righteously joined for eternity. So the power of God or priesthood power is by definition intrinsically connected to the celestial union of a man and woman. It comes from both, not just from men. It wouldn’t exist without God the Mother. (Jesus got his power from his parents in this model.)  Section 76:94-96 talks about that equality of power among celestial beings
3. Section 121 of D&C clearly articulates qualities that define appropriate use of priesthood or God’s power. All these qualities can easily be identified as “feminine” based on our current cultural/social model of what is masculine or feminine. (the YW loved this)
4. Men in this world are told that what it means to be a “man” is to be tough, strong, dominating, competitive. Priesthood power is none of these things. Jesus, the originator of our earthly version of priesthood power, showed us that in his life.
5. Many women possess qualities that help men learn what priesthood power should look like. (my feminist sisters might hate me for that, but this is when the girls started saying things like, “Yeah. Seriously.”)
6. We believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. We should all live worthy of bearing the priesthood of God and be prepared to do so.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

A Couple of Quotes

It is not uncommon these days to run into discussions, in my small minority religion, about inequality of responsibility and callings for women.  And a very pertinent subset of that discussion revolves around the question of whether or not that perceived inequality, or "lower in the hierarchy" status is an eternal expectation.  Is the inequality that is part of the order now one that is an eternal principle or one that is temporary?

I have commented earlier about the past inequalities in priesthood responsibility among God's children and how God has inspired his leaders to change that at various times over the centuries, and so I have long held that the current allocation of callings and responsibilities is not an indication of eternal status.  And there are certainly parts of temple ordinances that also indicate that we should be prepared for change in that regard.

Steve, over at CommonConsent, shared a couple of quotes that were new to me on the subject that, if you are aware of the above mentioned discussions and, particularly  if you are a temple attending member of the church, shed further light on the discussion.  So I'm saving them here.  At least until my house is back together and my boxes of notebooks unpacked.

1.  Joseph F. Smith - "Some of you will understand when I tell you that some of these good women who have passed beyond have actually been anointed queens and priestesses unto God and unto their husbands, to continue their work and to be the mothers of spirits in the world to come. The world does not understand this--they cannot receive it--they do not know what it means, and it is sometimes hard for those who ought to be thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the gospel--even for some of us, to comprehend, but it is true."  (Gospel Doctrine, p. 461)

I should remind the reader to never assume that the earthly hierarchy that our telestial world ascribes to the relationship between kings and queens or priests and priestesses is the same as that in the celestial world where all are "joint-heirs with Christ".  It is almost always wrong to assume that earthly manifestations of an institution or organization or life are clear reproductions of the way heavenly ones are.

2. Melvin J. Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve) - "Whatever disappointments may come, still be true to Him and I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that if not in time, in eternity, you shall have like honors and glory and privilege.  If you are faithful over a few things here, you shall be ruler over many things there, and become kings and priests unto God.  And you sisters who have dwelt in reflected glory will shine in your own light, queens and priestesses unto the Lord forever and ever."  (Conference Report, October, 1934, p. 121)

These two quotes are certainly not the be all and end all of the discussion.  But I think they are good additions to the position that what is now is not what will be.

Later...Brady added this comment and quote:  Hugh W. Nibley, "The purpose of such ordinances is to bridge the space between the world in which we now live, the telestial world, and that to which we aspire, the celestial world.  Therefore, the events of the temple were thought to take place in the terrestrial sphere."    You are saying, what has this got to do with priesthood?  In the temple women participate and even officiate in sacred priesthood ordinances IE Name issue and initiatory.  One of the, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful and sacred blessings in this world.  Then maybe in spheres above this one...