LDS movement on Heavenly Mother

The LDS Church acknowledges that if there is a Father in Heaven, there must be a Mother too. Their official website says:

Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.” Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.” Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”

–Gospel Topics Essays: Mother in Heaven
The cover of a book by Caitlin Connolly.

A book receiving a lot of attention is called A Girl’s Guide to Heavenly Mother which affirms this view which has a lot of traction among younger Saints in particular.

Latter-Day Saint apologist Jaxon Washburn has taken things much further, openly equating Heavenly Mother with Asherah in the Old Testament:

We believe in God, the Eternal Mother, and in Her Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.In ancient Israel, Her name was Asherah, meaning “happiness,” “blessedness,” or “holy place”.The Queen of Heaven, She is the Mother of our spirits.She possesses a glorified, physical, and tangible body of flesh and bone. Exalted, divine, immortal, perfected, standing fully equal with Her Husband.She holds all power, glory, and intelligence in perfect unity with Him.We sat and listened, before this world was, as both She and the Father presented the Great Plan of Happiness.She was there as the foundations of the earth were laid, the clouds above established, and the seas divided.Every one of us is made in Her likeness and image.Her work and Her glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of humanity.She hears our prayers, She loves Her children, and She readily pours out bounteous blessings upon them that turn to Her.Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like Her and the Father.She can be found in the holy temple, in nature and the fullness of its creation, and near to our hearts whenever we need Her.The Son beckons to us all, “Behold thy Mother”. All things denote there is a Mother.#HappyMothersDayArtwork: J. Kirk Richards, “The Goddess Speaks” 2014

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While I expect the LDS Church to shrink in the USA, I think it will grow for some time in Africa. I wonder if this doctrine will help or hinder that growth?

Posted in LDS

A prayer in the time of plague

IT had been the best for us, O most righteous Judge, and our most merciful father, that in our wealth and quietness, and in the midst of thy manifold benefits continually bestowed upon us most unworthy sinners, we had of love hearkened to thy voice, and turned unto thee our most loving and gracious father: For in so doing, we had done the parts of good and obedient loving children, It had also been well, if at thy dreadful threats out of thy holy word continually pronounced unto us by thy servants our preachers, we had of fear, as corrigible servants, turned from our wickedness. But alas we have shewed hitherto our selves towards thee, neither as loving children (O most merciful father) neither as tolerable servants, O Lord most mighty.
Wherefore now we feel thy heavy wrath, O most righteous Judge, justly punishing us with grievous and deadly sickness and plagues; we do now confess and acknowledge, and to our most just punishment do find indeed, that to be most true, which we have so often hard threatened to us out of thy holy scriptures, the word of thy eternal verity: that thou art the same unchangeable God, of the same justice that thou wilt, and of the same power that thou canst punish the like wickedness and obstinacy of us impenitent sinners in these days, as thou hast done in all ages heretofore. But the same thy holy Scriptures, the word of thy truth, do also testify, that thy strength is not shortened but that thou canst: neither thy goodness abated but that thou wilt, help those that in their distress do flee unto thy mercies, and that thou art the same God of all, rich in mercy towards all that call upon thy name, and that thou dost not intend to destroy us utterly, but fatherly to correct us; who hast pity upon us, even when thou dost scourge us, as by thy said holy word thy gracious promises, and the examples of thy saints in thy holy Scriptures expressed for our comfort, thou hast assured us.
Grant us, O most merciful father, that we fall not into the uttermost of all mischiefs, to become worse under thy scourge, but that this thy rod may by thy heavenly grace speedily work in us the fruit and effect of true repentance, unfeigned turning and converting unto thee, and perfect amendment of our whole lives, that, as we through our impenitence do now most worthily feel thy justice punishing us, so by this thy correction we may also feel the sweet comfort of thy mercies, graciously pardoning our sins, and pitifully releasing these grievous punishments and dreadful plagues. This we crave at thy hand, O most merciful father, for thy dear son our Savior Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

The Predestination Controversy

Stavanger Lutheran Church in Ossian Iowa.

Norwegian Lutheran immigrants to the United States created several different denominations over the years, but the most prominent during the 19th century was the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church known as The Norwegian Synod. The Synod was organized in 1853. In later decades the Synod was rocked by several theological controversies, including fights over absolution, justification, and eventually election/predestination.

    Reading literature from that time you quickly realize that the Predestination Controversy (naadevalgsstriden) was not confined to seminaries but divided entire Norwegian communities in the Midwest. Jon Gjerde puts it this way:

The controversy began among the clergy but quickly spread to the laity. Church members passionately discussed the theological questions, according to one participant, “on the streets and in the alleys, in stores and in saloons, and through a continuous flow of agitating articles [in newspapers and periodicals].” words occasionally led to fights. “They argued predestination in the saloons, with their tongues,” said one, “and settled it in the alley with their fists.” Although fisticuffs were rare, certain Norwegian congregations suffered wrenching internal strife. “The ties of old friendship broke,” remembered one man. “Neighbor did not speak to neighbor. The daughter who was married to a member of the other party became a stranger in her father’s house. Man and wife turned into dog and cat. Brothers and sisters were sundered from one  another.” (Gjerde 1997 page 118)

Bibliography

Gjerde, Jon. 1997. The Minds of the West Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

I found this in an old issue of Notes and Queries and thought I would pass it along:

There is a curious tradition existing in Mansfield, Woodhouse, Bulwell, and several other villages near Sherwood Forest, as to the origin of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. The inhabitants of any of these villages will inform the questioner that when the Danes got to Linby all the Saxon men of the neighboring villages ran off into the Forest, and the Danes took the Saxon women to keep house for them. This happened just before Lent, and the Saxon women, encouraged by their fugitive lords, resolved to massacre their Danish masters on Ash Wednesday. Every woman who agreed to do this was to bake pancakes for their meal on Shrove Tuesday as a kind of pledge to fulfill her vow. This was done, and that the massacre of the Danes did take place on Ash Wednesday is a well-known historical fact.

Notes and Queries, June 4, 1859

Jeremy Taylor on Shrove Tuesday Repentance

In The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, he writes:

Every true penitential sorrow is rather natural than solemn; that is, it is the product of our internal apprehensions, rather than outward order and command. He that repents only by solemnity, at a certain period, by the expectation of tomorrow’s sun, may indeed act a sorrow, but cannot be sure that he shall then be sorrowful. Other acts of repentance may be done in their proper period, by order and command, upon set days, and indicted solemnities; such as is, fasting and prayer, and alms, and confession, and disciplines, and all the instances of humiliation: but sorrow is not to be reckoned in this account, unless it dwells there before. When there is a natural abiding sorrow for our sins, any public day of humiliation can bring it forth, and put it into activity; but when a sinner is gay and intemperately merry upon Shrove-tuesday, and resolves to mourn upon Ash-wednesday; his sorrow hath in it more of the theatre than the temple, and is not at all to be relied upon by him that resolves to take severe accounts of himself.

Section VI.X.89

Statist presumption

The common man is typically unnoticed in history, literature, and art. Reviewing James C. Scott’s book Against the Grain for the TLS, Crispin Sartwell writes:

If this picture is even roughly or partly true, mainline anthropology has been profoundly distorted by what we might call a statist presumption, by the equation, for example, of civilization with large-scale political authority. It lays open the question of who did the research, and for whom. The historical narrative, for many reasons, has been dominated by large states and empires that engaged, for example, in elaborate record-keeping and monumental architecture; what persists in time is inordinately the self-interpretation and self-presentation of political power.

TLS July 19 2019

Khomeini on Imperialism

In light of our current situation with Iran I decided to break out a book I have but have not read called Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini. In the initial chapter—“Islamic Government”—Khomeini says that imperialists are not truly Christians, “…for the imperialists really have no religious belief, Christian or Islamic.” I can agree with him there. He then goes on to make an assertion that I think is highly suspect, and for which I doubt there is much evidence:

…throughout this long historical period, and going back to the Crusades, they [the imperialists] felt that the major obstacle in the path of their materialistic ambitions and the chief threat to their political power was nothing but Islam. They therefore plotted and campaigned against Islam by various means.

I don’t know who “they” are but this is a paranoid view on the face of it.

Reading

2019 was a good year for reading for me. I was able to dig in to Hemingway and read his major works on the back end of the year. Earlier I read almost all six volumes of Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle, most of which I enjoyed immensely. Reading both of these talented writers illustrated clearly what different times we live in, how much has changed in the eighty or so years between them. Outwardly the forms of how we live has not changed that much: we drive cars, eat meals, wash, and shave in the same way. The thought-world that we occupy has been turned upside down however, and that is easy to see reading their books.

I have lots of directions I want to to head in for 2020, and I’m sure some new paths will emerge as well. Right now I’m hoping to get to Kant, Hegel, and Dante among others. Most of my life is spent catching up to the education I wish I had rather than the one I actually had.

Rev. Blake Johnson on Holy Orders

Blake Johnson contributed to the discussion of women’s ordination over on the Theopolis blog. One point he makes that readers of James Jordan will find familiar is:

The typological representation in marriage is gendered. And so it is in a liturgical context. Genesis doesn’t give us a biological description of male and female, but it does give us a liturgical one. Like marriage, liturgy does not assume androgynous categories of the body, but invests male and female categories with typological significance, rooted in creation and pointing to redemption.