A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gimme Some Darkness

One of the things I love about Mormonism is that it encompasses all truth.  I think there is much good and truth to be found all over the world.  I love it when I read something that expresses a truth in "non-Mormon" terminology - in other words, in a way I haven't thought of before.  I recently heard the following quote by John Taylor, the third President of the Mormon church, in speaking of medieval times:

"I have a great many misgivings about the intelligence that men boast so much of in this enlightened day. There were men in those dark ages who could commune with God, and who, by the power of faith, could draw aside the curtain of eternity and gaze upon the invisible world. There were men who could tell the destiny of the human family, and the events which would transpire throughout every subsequent period of time until the final winding-up scene. There were men who could gaze upon the face of God, have the ministering of angels, and unfold the future destinies of the world. If those were dark ages I pray God to give me a little darkness, and deliver me from the light and intelligence that prevail in our day; for as a rational, intelligent, immortal being who has to do with time and eternity, I consider it one of the greatest acquirements for men to become acquainted with their God and with their future destiny."  (The Knowledge of God and Mode of Worshiping Him, Discourse by Elder John Taylor, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Sept. 7, 1873.  Reported by David W. Evans.  Emphasis added)

I like the thought there was a lot of light in the "dark ages."  I was reminded of this when I read the following passage in "Dracula," by Bram Stoker.  It's spoken by Van Helsing, one of my favorite characters in the book.

"I heard once of an American who so defined faith: "that which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue."  For one, I follow that man.  He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck.  We get the small truth first.  Good!  We keep him, and we value him; but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe."

I thought this was an interesting way of thinking about truth - a way to let our minds be open to all truths, and not let what we know prevent us from accepting bigger and more important truths.  This is why I love books - its ability to create worlds that are real and speak truths in unique ways.

Music can also speak truths, and while the song below has really nothing to do with this post, I'm including it anyway.

"Gimme Some Lovin," Steve Winwood

Monday, October 21, 2013

Who Shall Ascend?

Lately there has been a lot of press about the Ordain Women movement, which is advocating for the extension of priesthood to women in the Mormon church.  I haven't added my thoughts to the debate, because others have written much more eloquently about it.  I think this post by biggins comes closest to capturing my thoughts.  However, this post isn't about the topic of women and the priesthood, instead it's about how we talk about things like this.

In my opinion, the most disturbing thing about the Ordain Women movement has been the reaction of those who disagree with them.  These women have been accused of being on the road to "apostasy."  Mormons generally view the world in pretty black and white terms - you're either with us or against us.  This view of the world lacks a lot of nuance.  Just because someone sees something differently than you doesn't mean they're wrong.

One of the metaphors Mormons use a lot is that of the "Iron Rod."  This is a story from the Book of Mormon which tells of a dream shared by the prophet Lehi (and then later seen by his son Nephi too).  The Iron Rod represents the road to salvation, and you have to cling to the rod and "press forward" to reach the Tree of Life to receive salvation.  Although this is a great story, and I don't mean to quibble with the prophets, the story also breeds a certain moral absolutism.  If you are not on the "straight and narrow path" that is next to the Iron Rod, then you have wandered from the one true way and are lost.  This kind of thinking can be very problematic in both a religious and political context.

What could be a better metaphor that would encompass different points of view?  I've been thinking that Psalms 24:3-4 might provide an answer.  That scripture reads:  "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."

Instead of thinking about the road to eternal life and salvation as an exclusionary path where it's "my way or the high way," allow yourself to think of the road to eternal life as a mountain or hill we all must climb.  Each of us sees different sides of the mountain, but we're all striving towards the same goal.  You may not have seen the boulder of biogtry in your path, but your sister on the other side of the mountain may feel her way is blocked by that insurmountable obstacle.  JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T SEE IT DOESN'T MEAN THE BOULDER ISN'T THERE FOR HER.  Each of us is trying to reach Zion, where dwell the pure in heart.  You can't assume that because someone sees sexism in the church culture or feels excluded from church riturals that she doesn't want the same things you want.  She is pure in heart, and you are too.  

As another post put it, the pain is real.  There are women I know who do feel that pain, who feel that there are insurmountable cliffs that form a barrier to their service and activity in the church.  Some of them have already left, and some of them feel their path is simply too hard to struggle up any more.  We can help the stranded hikers, or those about to give up - we can ascend to the hill of the Lord if we do it together, in unity, love, and understanding.  We can try to understand their pain, their obstacles, even if we don't have them in our own path.  We can do what we can to shoulder their burdens and understand, instead of blaming them for pointing out those things that are holding them back.  Let's not lift up our souls to vanity, but instead cleanse our hands (and hearts) of any malice towards those who struggle, who yearn for zion, but see it with different eyes than us.

In short, let's love one another.  And think about constructive ways to address the pain many women feel.  Here are some good thoughts.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Craftiness of Women: DC Edition

What, you may rightfully ask, has this Molly Mormon Democrat been doing with herself?  Tax accounting busy season was over September 16th, and we've only had one measly post since then!  Shocking and Shameful Shirking!  I know I have neglected this blog dreadfully over the past couple of weeks, but I have an excuse.  It's not even related to the government shutdown (speaking of which, aren't you tired of this ridiculousness?  and aren't you glad this blog post is NOT about that?).

For the past several weeks I have been busy getting my craft on.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Every once in a while, I dream up an overlarge vision of a craft that I need to make.  As we all know, I work best on a deadline (otherwise the craft project can drag on for years).  My friend is just about to have her baby, so I made it my goal to finish this project in time for his birth.  Although Baby Boy wouldn't be able to use his gift immediately, I need to have a set time frame to complete, otherwise I just procraftinate.

My friend was super excited that her baby would be born in D.C. because she is from the west, so I decided to make a D.C. themed Quiet Book.  If you don't know what a quiet book is, it's basically for a toddler to keep him/her quiet and teach motor skills and other educational concepts in a fun way.  So without further ado, here is evidence that I sometimes do things which don't involve a computer!

The Cover!
Page 1 - teaches how to tie your shoes - you can also move the flag up and down!

Washington Monument Page - teaches how to match shapes for the kites.

As a bonus, there's a little elevator inside the monument :)

The National Zoo - full of finger puppets

This is my favorite page - the Jefferson Memorial holds all the cherry blossoms to button on the trees.

See the fishies swimming in the Tidal Basin!

Union Station - basically just an excuse to make trains.

Choo Choo train, plus the DC metro, of course

Baseball at Nat's stadium (playing the Mariners, my friend's husband's team).  Teaches number matching for the number of innings.

This is just because I love food - you match the color scoop to the cone.

A lot of the Quiet Book examples I found online said one of the kid's favorite pages is a notepad one, so this page is to hold a notebook for drawing.

While it didn't turn out as neat or tidy as I planned, I'm still proud of it.  I promise to not neglect this blog so much - maybe I will actually get back to posting every Monday.