Do you ever read the bits of scripture that are excluded from our Sunday School lesson manuals? If you are only looking up certain passages, it is as though the rest of the text doesn’t exist.
Author: Rachel Whipple
The Ninety and Nine
Christ can only go out after the lone lamb if he has some confidence that the other ninety-nine are in safe pastures, a protected flock.
Success in Life
My daughter just turned 12, and her new Young Women’s advisor and the one other Beehive in the ward came over to introduce her to the program, give her a slew of pamphlets, and welcome her to Young Women. After they left, I read through the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth that they had left for me. It is a nice little booklet. In the section “Role of Parents” it states: “Your sons and daughters are children of God who have great potential. Although the Church has many leaders and resources to help them, you as their parents have the primary responsibility to help them succeed. the Church’s programs and materials for youth, described in this guidebook, are designed to assist you as you help your children develop the skills and attributes needed for success in life.” And that sounds good. But remembering Craig’s piece Bo Knows Heaven, I have to admit that I don’t know what success in life looks like, or if success if life is what God wants most for us. For the Young Men, there is the Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God Program. “The Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God program helps young men accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. It helps them develop skills and attributes that are needed to succeed in life.” This sounds good, but it is vague in that it relies on the unstated purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and…
The Bad Side of Jesus
Last week, as we were walking to school, my 6 year old spontaneously started telling me about his latest Primary lesson. He does this often, and usually reports the talking points accurately. “I learned about the bad side of Jesus,” he said. “Really? Jesus has a bad side?” I responded, wandering if they had talked about casting moneychangers out of the temple. “Yes. A very bad side. You know, when we were all in heaven, and he decided that one third of the spirits shouldn’t be allowed to have bodies, and that made them really sad, and Jesus did that, so that was the bad side of Jesus. Can you believe Jesus did that?” So that particular lesson about the plan of salvation and the pre-existence didn’t get through as clearly as his teachers must have hoped. But I do like the way that slightly distorted view casts a different light on those experiences we lost when we passed through the veil of forgetfulness. Imagine, for a moment, that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers, close brothers who look alike, maybe even share the same mannerisms and charisma. Imagine them as twins even. Somehow, through chance or fate or choice, Lucifer got the role of the evil twin, the bad side of Jesus. After all, it’s not hard to imagine them as equal in potential to do good or evil, equal in potential for glory and honor. But our story has…
The Wrongness of Being Right
It seems to me that any time you turn something into a point of conflict, you risk being in the wrong. It becomes more important to be right than it is to understand your fellow brother, to exercise compassion, to be humble and teachable.
The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Volume 2
On Monday I attended a launch event at the Church History Library for the second Documents volume of the Joseph Smith Papers. We were given a brief introductory presentation from historians and production editors who worked on the project. Documents Volume 2 covers the time period from July 1831 to January 1833. Three themes emerge through the documents covering this period of time. The first document is a revelation from July 20, 1831, which later became canonized as Doctrine and Covenants Section 57. It identified the land of Missouri as the land of Zion. This set the stage for the first theme of tension between the leadership in Missouri and Ohio, as well as the pedestrian difficulty of dealing with logistical issues of land acquisition and settlement. A second theme is that of Joseph Smith as a husband and father. The volume includes two letters to Emma, written in Joseph’s own hand. As with many of the documents, a facsimile of the original letter is included, along with a source note on the document and a historical introduction. And there are footnotes for everything. [fn1] The last natural theme that emerges from the documents covered by this time period is the development of our church’s theology and the clarification of the orders of the priesthood. We have the revelations that became Sections 76, 84 and 88. I love that this volume gives context for the these revelations. This immersion into…
We grew up. All of those kids I went to high school with. Not just high school; my family never moved, so I started in with them in kindergarten and went through to graduation. Part of me never felt like I fit in. Being the only Mormon in my class may have had something to do with that. Not that many new people moved into our little town, although many of us have since moved away. How many, I’m not sure, as I’m one of the ones who left. But every once in awhile, I get a glimpse into the lives of those people who were once children that I knew as a child. They’ve all grown up. They have kids of their own who they haul around to ball games and dance recitals and piano practice, just like we went to when we knew each other, just like I do with my kids now. They have jobs. Several of my friends became teachers. Some are pastors. Some are coaches or directors. They have houses and cars and pets. When did we all get so old? The best part is seeing how much faith they have, how these irreverent high school kids grew into people of devotion. The girls married the guys who got them pregnant in high school? Still married and raising their kids right. If they went to church then, they go to church now. I remember being…
Earth Stewardship: Doctrine, Principle, or Heritage?
I was recently told that earth stewardship is not a doctrine nor a principle of the gospel; rather, it is a heritage.
Everybody Ought to Have a Body
A distinctive Mormon doctrine related to creation and stewardship is the idea that embodiment is a necessary prerequisite for god-like exaltation. This doctrine includes within it the ideas we can be exalted to become like God, and that God himself has a physical body. The soul of man is the spirit and the body. Although we believe we had a premortal existence as spirit children of God, we were not completely created until we were born into our physical bodies. Our mortal parents acted as co-creators with God in having us. Our bodies are the temples in which our spirits dwell, and which the Holy Ghost may visit. So in a Mormon view, having a body is necessary for the development of our spirits. The traditional Christian view that holds that God embodied himself as Christ in order to make himself approachable to us. While we believe in the condescension of God, we believe our embodiment has the potential to bring us closer to God, to make us more like Him. There are great pleasures to be experienced through our bodies. The body is our vehicle for experiencing the whole of creation, our means of developing an aesthetic sense which God already has. He wants us to find that things please our eyes and gladden our hearts. We are meant to experience the pleasures of the flesh, within the bounds that the Lord has set. Those lines of moderation and…
Just because you heard it at church, doesn’t make it true.
Or mean that you must repeat it. Because sometimes people say things in church are are just plain not true.
It’s one thing to know that what you are witnessing is wrong; it’s another thing altogether to know what to do about it. I do know that inaction is often taken as tacit approval, and I do not want to be guilty of the sin of complicity
Bloggernacle PSA: fMh Tracy McKay Scholarship
“If you haven’t heard around the ‘nacle– The fMh Tracy McKay Scholarship fund drive is in full force! Last year many around the bloggernacle rallied together to help the awesome Tracy McKay finish the last few months of her degree when her ward could no longer help her out. fMh is keeping the tradition going by helping more single Mormon mothers go back to school.
Guest Post: The Parable of the Two Sons
My friend and neighbor has written a beautiful parable that I am pleased to share with you today. David Harding works actively in his ward and neighborhood. His daughter is my daughter’s best friend. As those of you with children know, it is a great blessing to have your offspring fall in with good people who help support them as they grow into themselves. Periodically, maybe once or twice a year, David writes something that he thinks could be shared beyond his close circle. The topics range, but as often as not they are gospel related. And so I’m introducing David, and one of his writings, to you. The Parable of the Two Sons by David Harding The master of the vineyard was setting out to travel foreign lands for a number of years. He had two sons whom he loved more than anything else. They had recently come-of-age and now had their own budding households. The first son was nervous about the impending absence of his father, and approached his father asking for some extra money in case things went poorly while he was gone. The father had compassion on his son and gave him ten talents to ensure he would have sufficient funds to cover any unforeseen difficulty. During the first year of the master’s travels there was a bountiful harvest at home. The second son worked hard and made a fair profit. The first son, on the…
Not quite “Faith in Every Footstep”
It’s no surprise that my favorite book about the pioneers was not written by a Mormon.
I’m not sorry
The problem with repenting is that it is not just an intellectual exercise. It’s emotional. To repent, one must feel penitent. But how can you repent when you don’t feel like repenting?
We’re not equal
God may be no respecter of persons, but everyone else is. We’re not equal, and the roles we fulfill in the church are not equal, so stop saying they are.
No. Not maybe. Not “We’ll see. I think I can do that.” Just no.
No. Thank you, I will not commit to doing that. No. That makes me uncomfortable. No. I wouldn’t have time to do that well and still meet my other obligations in a satisfactory manner. No. I don’t have the skills necessary to do that job. No. I’m pretty sure I’m just not going to do that, so you’d be better off asking someone else. We, sweet, eager to please, eager to accept authority people that we are, we need to learn to say “no.” If it helps, we can explain why we are saying no, so long as we are clear that it is not an invitation for the other person to attempt to persuade us. I was talking with a lovely relief society president last week who said that one of the things she has learned is to say is “No. I cannot do what you are asking. But this is what I can do.” And then she gives options to the supplicant, things that she can do that would be helpful. It may be “No, I cannot go buy groceries for you, but I can help you with a food order form.” Or it may be “No, I cannot give you a ride right now, but I could help you after my husband gets home from work with the car.” (Once I did say this to a woman who called asking for a ride home from…
Get with the program
For members and visitors alike, that little sheet of cheap white copy paper is invaluable when they need it. But usually, they don’t.
Why I’m glad Heavenly Mother is as yet uncorrelated
There is something creative about getting to know God: to recognize the infinite attributes of God and to express that ineffability in testimony and story, art and song. Sometimes, one person’s vision of God becomes codified, set in stone as the truth for all people. It may be a beautiful, profound view of God, one that answers the yearning of the time. But God is greater than even the most perceptive one’s capacity to behold, much less fully communicate. Man’s best description of God is still a description of man, not of God. And so I am glad that we haven’t been told as much about our Heavenly Mother as our Heavenly Father. (Honestly, I expect we know much less about Him than we assume we know, and that assumption, sadly, may hinder some from deeper seeking.) We are not limited in seeking Her, the feminine divine, by constraints set out by the visions of men. She is the dark side of the moon, the substantial half of God as yet hidden from the searchlight of institutional revelation and the strictures of correlated curriculum. Don’t tell me who my Mother in Heaven is. Let me seek Her for myself. And one day, I’ll tell you what I have discovered about Her, and you will share with me what has been revealed to you, and neither of us will know Her completely, but we will both know ourselves better for the…
Stewards of Prudence and Altruism
Prudence and altruism combined allow us to delay personal gratification or even make sacrifices for the benefit of future people who have not yet been born. The hearts of the fathers must turn to their children