Monday, April 26, 2010

Embracing Truth Wherever It Can Be Found: Some Answered Questions about Baha'i

I've been continuing to read the book that my neighbor is letting me borrow called "Some Answered Questions" I'm in the thick of the section on Christian topics and will admit honestly that I'm struggling with it. I will not argue that the author is incorrect as he ascribes certain alternative meanings to Christian scripture. For example, Christ wasn't literally resurrection bodily, but his cause experienced a figurative resurrection when his followers moved past grieving his death and turned to spreading the Christian teachings throughout the world.

However, I find it very frustrating that he casts a broad stroke over Christianity with blanket statements teaching, specifically, that Christians (all) accept the idea of original sin and other Christian views. Over and over again, I find myself thinking that the author is missing understanding of LDS theology or, perhaps, worse is ignoring it by not addressing it. My guess is that LDS theology is grouped into Christianity without an understanding of its differences. At the time when "Some Answered Questions" was written, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not very well known and having many fewer than the membership of 14 million today.

Its not surprising that LDS doctrine is missing, though I feel its important for the book to be relevant to me and other Latter-day Saints, that the Baha'i need to address Mormonism separately when addressing Christian topics. I've done some searches for comparative analyses between Baha'i and LDS and I haven't found anything. For comparitive religion hounds, that would be a good topic to explore. I'd love to see some of the people from the Maxwell Institute write up this book in particular. It also comes to mind that I could write a scholarly review of it.

I have an idea of how much effort and time that would take and I'm not sure I'm up for the task. That's the nice thing about not having deadlines. I don't have to feel rushed to get it done and I can take the time to really research and refine it. An interesting thought...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Ponderings on Heavenly Mother

It is well known in Christianity that the dove is a symbol for the Holy Ghost, or so it is typically portrayed. Today, however; I came across a different explanation--one that fits in with my recent pondering regarding the Divine Feminine/Heavenly Mother.

I should probably, then state what I have recently speculated regarding Heavenly Mother. I recently remembered being taught that the name for God given in the Old Testament and Doctrine Covenant, when translated from Hewbrew, implies that God is not singular, but plural (Source: It became strikingly clear that the plural in Elohim might be referring to Heavenly Mother.

After listening to the Sunstone presentation summarized here, I couldn't help but begin to believe that when we are praying to Elohim, whom we are, though we may be using more culturally relevant terms, we may actually be praying to our Mother in Heaven. When President Hinckley was asked about LDS beliefs about Heavenly Mother, he was clear to stare that we do not and should not pray to her (to the exclusion of Father in Heaven). Perhaps, given the understanding of Gods as plural, we may be able to achieve what some feel is lost through the current teachings relating to Heavenly Mother.

With that in mind, then I was struck when I learned today that in Celtic symbolism, the dove is a strong symbol of motherhood. What then, if the allusion to the dove descending over Christ upon his baptism is not just "the Spirit like a dove" but also an indication of Heavenly Mother witnessing and approving of his holy act?

I believe I recall learning that some speculate that perhaps the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of our Heavenly Mother but that does not seem to be logical given the teachings that the Holy Spirit is not embodied, but to be the equal of God the Father, Mother in Heaven would have a resurrected body like the Father and Christ. I do not know if my thoughts are true doctrine or not, yet neither do I feel the Spirit discouraging me from seeking to understand. I feel as if now I am on a quest for the hidden knowledge and mysteries referred to in the gospel and that through my open-minded learning, I am gaining insight into what may someday be revealed more publicly. As for why revelations have not been forthcoming on the topic of Heavenly Mother and other aspects of doctrine, I have theories on that and will maybe soon get to a post about that.

Finding Parallels in Polythesism: The Legend of Ni'auepo'o

I have been exploring the world of polytheism lately. I'm testing a hypothesis that the various gods/goddesses of ancient cultures can give insight into certain aspects and characteristics of the God I recognize and worship. I'm just getting started on this and the first culture I turned to was from ancient Hawai'i.

In reading from the book "Folktales of Hawaii" by Mary Kawena Pukui, I last night read The Legend of Ni'auepo'o, a boy whose father moves away when he is very young. His father gives him some items to bring with him so the father will recognize his son when he goes to seek for his father. When the time comes for the boy to find his father, he chooses to not bring the items and gets there in another, magical way. His father does not recognize him, is angry and killed his son for being an impostor. When the son returns from the dead, the father is told by the prophets of his village that the man standing before him claiming to be his son is indeed his son. The father repents by preparing an offering for an ancestor-god and accepts his son.

Legends, stories and allegories are fascinating and as I ponder this legend more, the more I begin to learn from it. And that's just with my cultural background, and not being schooled in much Hawaiian culture.

I see a parallel between Ni'auepo'o and Christ being prophesied and expected by the Jewish people to come to them, but then he is not recognized when he does appear and they kill him. Just as Christ, Ni'auepo'o is resurrected and comes back to his people and no doubt, there was a period of where his people came to the realizsation that not only was it him that came, but that he returned after death; just like how over the centuries some Jews have come to the realization that the one early Jewish people killed is who he said he was. In that way, the Legend of Ni'auepo'o can be used as an allegory for the prophesies of Christ, his persecution when he declares himself, his death and resurrection.

What role does this particular legend play in convincing Hawaiians of Christ? It may actually dissuade more than convince if one views the story of Christ as a more modern substitute for an ancient legend. As Christianity is famous for superimposing Christian rites and beliefs over earlier cultural beliefs and practices, could this not be one more example?

If one were to consider the perspective here, this could be an example of how the gospel was known from the beginning and that ancient peoples the world over knew the stories and prophesies, and those stories became the legends of ancient cultures, with words and names in their own language and cultural practices that were familiar to their locale, climate and food system.

There are other concepts that can be learned from this legend, specifically Ni'auepo'o's mother as a strong female character who has a strong relationship with deity and power to invoke and enact magic/miracles. There are likely other concepts present in the legend as well and its a good example of how simple stories--this one is simple enough that my little boy would likely enjoy it--can veil powerful cultural and spiritual truths.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Embracing Truth Wherever It Can Be Found: In Baha'i "The Sun of Reality"

A neighbor is Baha'i and she is letting me borrow a book that is considered an introduction to the origins and beliefs of the Baha'i faith. Its titled "Some Answered Questions" written by 'Abdu'l-Baha and is actually the edited transcripts of a series of interviews.

In my reading I have learned that the Baha'i historically have taught that Christ was who he says he was and Muhammad is who he says he was. The Baha'i too subscribe, more so than Latter-day Saints that truth is truth wherever it can be found. They also seem to teach the concept of apostasy, though the word is not used as a label. The following passage, that I have found describes that truth , called the Sun of Reality.
The people of perception are the seekers of the truth, and not the places of its appearance, nor of its dawning points; therefore they will adore the Sun from whatever point in the zodiac it may appear, and they will seek the Reality of the Sanctified Soul Who manifests it. Such people always attain to the truth and are not veiled from the Sun of the Divine World.
It goes on to describe how many religions that exist in the world today get "stuck" on the teachings of certain people.
"For example, once the Sun of Reality poured forth its ray from the sign of Abraham, and then it dawned from the sign of Moses and illuminated the horizon. Afterward it rose with the greatest power and brilliancy from the sign of Christ. Those who were seekers of Reality worshipped that Reality wherever they saw it, but those who were attached to Abraham were deprived of its influences when it shone upon Sinai and illuminated the reality of Moses. Those who held fast to Modeses, when the Sun of Reality shone from Christ with the utmost radiance and lordly splendor were also veiled; and so forth."
In terminology reminiscent of the early LDS prohets:
"Therefore, man must be the seeker after the Reality and he will find that Reality in each of the Sanctified Souls. He must be fascinated and enraptured, and attracted to the divine bounty; he must be like the butterfly who is the lover of the light from whatever lamp it may shine, and like the nightingale who is the lover of the rose in whatever garden it may grow."
It was this sort of logic that led me to ever begin learning about the LDS Church. I found a completeness of doctrine and was taught that "the reality" of existence began with the creation of the universe, we lived premortally and that the plan of salvation is not just a story concocted by humans to explain away our presence on the earth, but the explanation from the beginning of all that we see and experience.

One of the beauties of the "first principles and ordinances of the gospel" is that they are so simple, so universal and so accessible to all--if not in this life, in the next and time is given to extend those ordinances to each person who ever lives. But as I'm continuing on my individual "search for truth and meaning" I am feeling that as I have secured those blessings for myself, and strive to teach my children, friends and family to secure those blessings for themselves, that I must continue onward seeking truth wherever it can be found. I love the doctrines of the gospel, and yearn for the hidden treasures and mysteries, spoken of in the Word of Wisdom and the Book of Mormon. I'm finding that as I explore and seek out the doctrines of the gospel of Christ, I am finding portions that testify of the divine reality in many places, across religions.

I find this requires an open and inquisitive mind that when I find something where I instinctively recoil, I can objectively study it out to learn more. For example, I feel that my next steps are to learn about the prophet Mohammad and other spiritual leaders of other religions to decide for myself if they are, like the framers of the Protestant Reformers, inspired men and women who speak truth to a certain time, culture and people that can give them a foundation for seeking further truth and knowledge. I feel that the Unitarian Universalists did that for me and by being accepting enough to seek additional truth, I did find and now I can continue seeking and find more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday: Notes and Promptings from General Conference

Yesterday I posted my notes and reflections from the Saturday sessions of General Conference and now I'm going to try to follow-through (something I often fail to do) and finish the rest of the conference with the Sunday talks.

It seemed harder to pay attention today, mainly because Willem was pretty active and hyper throughout and it can be mentally taxing to pay attention to hours of speaking. Happens to be at academic and professionals conferences too.

Reflecting back on the whole of the two days of conference, it seems obvious that there were two themes: the central importance of parents and family teaching children and the mission and work of Jesus Christ (not surprising since it is Easter today).

Sunday Morning:
Uchtdorf:welcoming those who are different, addressing the needs of those who do not fit in, disappointed that he did not reach out to those who have been offended
I was very excited by this talk because given the homogeneity of the LDS Church, members are prone to exclude others (within and without the church) based on appearance and perceived differences. Its unfortunate and sad that it even needs to be said, but Pres. Uchtdorf said it well. As seen in my notes, I was disappointed that he did not reach out directly and speak to those who have been offended as I feel that is an important message to portray. Not that I would know what to say, but I'm not a prophet!

My husband and I have at times felt like outsiders and that we don't fit in with our current ward. The differences are so small and inconsequential but we have had conversations about how it hurts, how we don't feel at home and how we don't feel it is ideal. We are not very different at all from our other ward members so its sad for me to imagine if what it might have been like for my 14 year old self to walk into my ward building...

I really do hope and pray that what is aparently a weakness within the Church can become a strength, that we might be able to borrow a page from the Unitarian Universalists and the Methodists who proclaim "welcoming congregations."(Though I have had a couple of experiences where I was not made to feel welcome in a UU congregation. Ironic).
Scott: testifiying of Christ, what role Christ plays in our lives, expressed a lack of understanding of the atonement, teaches to those who do not believe in Christ and the value to bless, save, and reunite, repentance
Nice, strong talk about Christ, his resurrection and his essential nature in relation to our eternal lives. I was awed to hear an apostle of Christ say that he lacks understanding of the atonement, though I do know that it is beyond human comprehension to fully get the depth and breadth of suffering Christ experienced. One would have to have suffered all the hurt, pain, sorrow and sins of all the people who ever have and will live on the earth, and since we only have need on one Savior, it is not necessary for any to know that pain.
Seventy (Hallstrom): birth called a monumental event, talking about a difficult birth and fetal death, decrying blaming the doctor, God. another story of death in childbirth (that's encouraging for young women and young mothers!) and another! turn to the Lord for Solace in loss related to childbirth Peter--something sort of genetic thing in his family. adversity-comfort in Christ, lists adversity of many kinds I'd add trauma, unexpected scary events
I struggle with this talk because, though he was speaking from sad personal and family experience, I am sorely disappointed that often the only references to the act of childbirth in Conference are stories of complications, death and needed medical assistance. What does that say to the young women of the church who do not have much experience or knowledge of the process of childbirth, who see it removed to a hospital with all its connotations of illness, danger and potential death? I long to hear a talk in Conference that urges and inspires women to value and trust in the process of childbirth, that was divinely appointed and created. Though we live in a world subject to disease, the female body does not malfunction as often as we have been led to believe.

I also think that the mention of the counsel to not blame the doctors will lead members of the church to continue not questioning their doctors actions even when questioning is very much warranted. While I recognize it is sometimes true (and it might be in this family's case given Peter's speculation about genetics), it is often enough in our current medical system not true. Iatrogenic harm runs rampant and unchecked and families are losing mothers and babies because of the unethical practices of doctors and hospital systems. Just a simple statement such a telling people to not blame doctors can be taken seriously enough to let the harms continue unchecked. The brethren are likely unaware of it and I find it sad.

At the end of Elder Scott's talk, he lists a number of adversities faced by humans and though he did not include trauma on the list, it certainly

Lant: teaching young children the gospel Christ told parents two things: 1) bring children to me for blessing 2) teach children the gospel Christ has prayed for each of us. Ballard quote: it is our obligation as parents to enfold our children in our arms like the love of Savior.
As a parent of young children, this talk gives me some guidance for where to look and what to think about when teaching my children about the Savior. It also brings to mind some experiences I've had regarding the phrase "encircled by the arms of his love."
As a new convert to the church, I taught the four years olds in primary. In one lesson the phrase came up and in trying to teach the children what "enfolded by the arms" I told them that it meant being given a hug. I suggested that they all come to me and I would give them a hug. I would enfold them in my arms and as they did so, I testified that Jesus would someday literally hold and hug them too and that he loves them. I think the Spirit spoke strongly of that to the children, but if it did not, it spoke strongly to me.

The other experience was from a time when I was struggling with feeling the Spirit. I found in mental illness, in my case depression, that it can be very difficult to feel the Spirit through the mental anguish and numbness. I received a blessing that promised me that I would someday soon feel "encircled by the the arms of his love." Given how I had been feeling that was hard to believe. As time went on, I sought it out, I tried to capture that feeling by listening to the Spirit as I prayed and pondered. It was a while before I felt it and even when I did I was disappointed at how resentful I felt that it took so long. Given that experience, its no wonder that I could feel a little ambivalence towards the phrase.

Cook: following the Savior, distinction in the Atonement, Satan's counterfeit suffering for Christ in the abuses he endured as he went to the cross. civil in discourse, respectful in disagreeing with others. refer to this talk later, very good information, though little new. uplifting
This is one that I know I want to refer to again and gain a better understanding of what Elder Cook meant regarding Satan's counterfeit for the suffering of Christ. The reminder for civility in discourse, as well as the implication that Latter-day Saints ought to be involved in discourse was a welcome message for me to hear, specifically as it relates to one the question I was specifically pondering for the conference (refer to my notes from the Saturday session).

Monson: the inevitability of death "if a man die, shall he live again?" On Easter morning, we know the answer. If there is a design in this world, there must be a designer. expounds on the entire plan of salvation- premortal to exaltation
President Monson delivered a strong lesson on the plan of salvation as well as a prophetic testimony of the Resurrection of Christ. Its one of my favorite aspect of the gospel because that it is in the resurrection of all man-kind that I put my hope and trust in the gospel.

Sunday afternoon:
Nelson: family exalted together, sealing of families, discussing duplication of names in temple work: New Family Search "complex computer technology" simplified procedures for everyone to participate "wherever the internet is available" partaking of the blessings of the gospel

Hales: media and technology can interfere with spiritual development, impossible to overestimate the influence of parents, research shows that parents assist children through difficult transitions and challenges. family meals: everyone sit down together. counsel to achieve eternal families

Seventy (Foster) single parenthood. this seventy was raised by a single mom. influence of mothers: "because mother told me" "just follow your mothers." How many times have I asked Willem to just please trust me!

Seventy Martino: do not complain or murmur in trials. ways to act during trials: help others is one, love others (missed the rest because of boisterious 3 yr old who then was sent outside to play)

Seventy Schwitzer: judge well when making decisions, avoid quick judgements on people, story of Martha and Mary, people can be quick to judge Martha but then refer to Martha at Lazarus's tomb showing exemplary faith. Listening to the Spirit is vital in developing good judgement, finding a peaceful environment and finding peace internally in our souls.

Seventy Vinias: teaching gospel (specifies aspects of the gospel) to children and to nonmembers

Anderson: no assigned topics, no collaboration of themes in conference talks: if you sense a theme, its the mind and will of the Lord. have our children been taught the gospel by us? have they internalized the scriptures, rely on prayer, gotten to know the Savior? speak more frequently about Jesus Christ. quote for Jennifer from Elder Oakes's mother. my husband called my attention to: fathers talk to your children,it will remain in his or hers souls--not just fathers to sons. story about car accident with parallels to my dad's death-seriously?

Monson: serious and concerning problems/ills in the world. add lack of ethics, greed (thinking of maternity services) to list off ills he names- lost opportunities, forfeited blessings (describes my feeling about effects of maternity services) look to the Lord. does not advocate civic involvement to thwart these problems, but to live personally- shun from our own lives. "I love you" to listeners of conference

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Promptings from General Conference

I've included my notes that I took from conference. With two little ones, they are very brief but I tried to get the basic gist of each talk, as well as record when I heard something that applied to recent ponderings or prompted me in some way. My thoughts after the fact with be block-quoted.

My ponderings have been on topics that relate to different aspects of my life: my role as a mother/parent, wife, citizen of the world. In preparation for Conference, I had thought of number of things I was going to listen for related to these areas of my life in an effort to obtain guidance in them. This is what I've been listening for:
  • References to social justice efforts, mainly examples of community involvement addressing social ills through organized efforts.
  • Ideas relating to gender roles, with a focus on listening for examples of where inappropriate gender stereotypes are avoided.
  • Ways to strengthen my marriage
  • Lessons on how to raise a daughter
  • Ideas for improving my teaching as a parent to my children
  • Answers to gospel questions (in my study and seeking to understand the "meat" of the gospel, I often come across these and sometimes Conference is where I find them).
Saturday morning General Conference:
Monson: temple dedications, excellent example of love for a wife
Definitely very cute. When I joined the church there were 114 temples and now there are 130 in operation. Later this month, we'll be going to Vancouver British Columbia for the open house of the temple there, which maybe I just missed it, but I didn't hear President Monson mention the Vancouver temple?
Packer: men are a special population, correlation emphasizes priesthood to help men be involved in their families. The church aims always, in everything, to support and help the home. As families are the way that HF brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. So shall it be. evidence for social justice efforts--especially family policy.
I've recently learned that the correllation efforts of the church came about in the early 1900's when it became evident that although women were being joining the church and remaining faithful that very few men were and those in the church often did not remain very active, hence the effort to call men to "their duties" as priesthood holders. I've learned that some people believe the entire correlation effort is to encourage and given men a more concrete reason to remain active in the church.

Elder Packer also strongly emphasized the church's efforts to support and aid the family, and its commitment to not get in the way or usurp families influence on their children. This led me to 1) want to pull the quote directly out of his talk and 2) use that quote as an example of what I believe the role of government is regarding families.

I have been involved for years now in community building/family strengthening efforts, and I feel Elder Packer's talk is giving some excellent evidence and ideas for how those efforts can be successful, and some of the ways in which those efforts can be framed. I'm looking forward to reading this talk again and further pondering it.

Beck: Eliza Snow: women fit companions of Gods, women as nurturers, can secure blessings and exercises duties in Preach my Gospel. seems to finally be treating women as people first, women second. strong evidence for women involved in social justice efforts.
The quote from Eliza R. Snow got me very excited. A friend found it in its entirety and it states: "We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the gods and holy ones. In an organized capacity we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves. And whether few or many come forward and help prosecute this great work they will be those that will fill honorable positions in the kingdom of God.
Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due What matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility on us and there is not a wish or desire that the lord hasn’t planted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized. And the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling and qualify for those responsibilities."

The remainder of the talk I felt was better than previous talks I've heard Sister Beck give (I've previously felt that she has talked down to women, and treated them as less than people). This talk by using the counsel from Preach My Gospel applied gospel teachings for all regardless of gender specifically to women and I felt that she was using more gender inclusive, neutral language that helped me feel like she recognizes that the women of the church are not just female but they are also people too.

As I've been recently involved in many social justice type efforts, I've been listening closely to quotes that would either support or disuade me from focusing my time and energy on them. I felt as I listened to this talk that there were ideas in there that support my efforts. Obviously, I find that comforting and encouraging. All along I've been using the scripture "anxiously engaged in a good cause" as my motto.
Seventy: insight into why Jesus is appointed to be prayed "in the name of Jesus Christ." we go through him as the Father has commanded. All things through Jesus. also illustrated in the temple.
One of the questions on my gospel questions list is why the LDS use the phrase "in the name of Jesus Christ" at the end of prayers. The member of the Quorum of the Seventy who spoke at this point in the session (I know I can look up his name later--hey I'm realistic in balancing my desire to take notes, listen and mother my children!) gave me an insight into why this is done. I'll have to refer back to this talk later to more fully understand, but its something along the lines that Jesus is the God the Father's spokesman when communicating to people. It was the case in the Old Testament, as well as in the Doctrine and Covenants and that pattern is demonstrated in the temple as well. This is helping me understand another question I've had which is how can I have a personal relationship to Jesus that equals the intense loving relationship I have with Father in Heaven? Because Jesus hears each prayer, and is the means for communicating through the Spirit to me.
Seventy: recognized the struggles of depression. Does anyone have a problem with the plan of salvation? Me, yes, its is a long time until we see those that we love. prompt: write about mental illness in Dialouge?
He spoke on everyday discouragement and the need to turn to the Spirit for comfort and guidance. He was sensitive to those who have experienced depression and mental illness hinting that those struggles are something else entirely when it comes to finding peace and comfort. This I greatly appreciated having the experience I've had with mental illness, for myself, for those whom I love and for others that I know.

At one point he asked the question, in telling a story about a family saying goodbye to a loved one who was about to die, "Does anyone have a problem with the plan of salvation?" In his story, all the members of the family were comforted and felt blessed by their knowledge of the plan of salvation, knowing they would see their loved one again. I do find a great deal of comfort in that, but given all of my experiences losing loved ones (brother, father, grandfather, great-grandmother, two grandmothers, aunt), my problem with the plan of salvation is; even though a span of years is the blink of an eye for God; I have to wait for the rest of my life to see them again. I have missed them so keenly and felt a desire to join them that 60-70 years seems a very long time indeed to me. My children give me much joy and our my consolation for having to wait that long.
Ballard: speaking to women request "for equal time" mothers love more than anyone else in the world daughters: be kind, patient to mothers imperfections, respect and love her "mothers are first line of defense" When are mothers going to be counseled to teach boys to be nurturers? refer to last April's Priesthood session talk from Ballard to fathers and sons-how similar is the message?
Elder Ballard prefaced his talk by stating that his granddaughters request that he speak to the women of the church calling it "equal time." This appears to be in response to a talk that he gave either last Conference (Oct 09) or last April's conference. Since he referenced it, I will go back and look at it. By the end of his talk, I was asking myself how similar was the council given to women/daughters as he gave to sons and fathers. My recent learning about feminism and those who care deeply about gender roles in the church have got me asking these questions. I'm trying to figure out for myself where the balance is between gospel principles that apply universally to whatever you may be, and principles that are gender specific.

I also found his council to daughters to be helpful, as one of my gospel questions continues to be what is my role as daughter to my mother who is not a member of the church and with whom I would like to share the gospel?

In my own role as mother of a son, I often emphasize in my teachings his role as a nurturer, and I do not recall an instance in General Conference where mothers are counseled to teach their sons to nurture, care for, be kind and loving (D&C 121:41)

Eyering: speaking to youth and children
I basically spent this whole talk trying to get Willem to listen since Pres. Eyering said he was speaking directly to the youth and children. It didn't work so well, he was getting ready for the session to be over since he'd been so reverent through the previous talks.
Sat afternoon session:
L Tom Perry: parents teach children at home, supplement school education, teach gospel, prayer, scripture study, family meals, family home evening, sing
This talk most definitely covered one of my areas that I was listening carefully for. The counsel was pretty standard: family prayer, scripture study, family home evenings. But he also mentioned family meals, which is one positive family process that had made media attention in recent years. Eating together as a family as tremendous effects on child's behavior, family cohesiveness, etc. So it was nice to hear it mentioned.

The highlight of the talk for me was hearing Elder Perry describe how his mother supplemented his education growing up through teaching her children outside of school, and expanding on the school work he was doing. This is something that my husband and I have discussed because we recognize some of the weaknesses of public education. Because we also hold strongly to some of the advantages of public education (as I attended a small private school, I know what its like to not have access to extracurricular activities, science labs, athletics, music programs, etc.) In trying to anticipate a balance between homeschooling activities and our children attending public schools. One of the things we have discussed previously and we brought up today was wanting to pull our children out of school during certain units to travel to the places that they are learning about and not really caring that they are missing school because we would know that we were supplementing their educations with more experiential, rich learning opportunities.
Tyndale translation of Bible in English, in his day people were ignorant of the scriptures because of lack of access now they are ignorant because of lack of effort. social justice efforts need to maintain connection to keeping commandments, cannot disregard moral actions. morality is needed to sustain institutions and in consequence society
This is certainly a talk I'll want to go back to again and possibly again, mainly because he specifically said the phrase "social justice." I haven't accessed the whole quote yet, but I tried to get the gist of it in my notes. I'm sure that quote will be one that I refer to over and over again as I continue with my social justice-esque efforts.

I also very much enjoyed the Reformation history and origins of the English language Bible. As a descendant of a Calvinist follower (when Calvin was alive) I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for the brave and faithful people who worked at risk to themselves during the Apostasy. Christofferson's epithet to those who neglect the scriptures is up there on the list of cleverly-worded veiled insulted.
Seventy: strengthen and assist members of the church in being faithful, help others
This is one aspect of life as a member of the LDS Church that I try to be sensitive to and I'm grateful to those who have assisted me in my life's struggles. I try to remember the need for me to provide service to those in my ward because even though we may be tremendously blessed, we also are frequently in need of help. Life is hard for all of us, to varying degrees based on our different needs and strengths.

This is also one aspect of the LDS Church that I like to criticize too. There is a tendency in the church to be so insulated from the community outside the church that members do not have friends who are not LDS, or are so busy living their faithful lives as good latter-day saints that they do not get involved in the issues facing their community and think that their token fast offerings that go to Humanitarian work is enough to be "caring for the poor and needy" outside the church. To me it is so very important to always remember that "helping others" needs to be outside the Church as often as in.
Seventy: keep commandments with exactness, do not add heathen/Satan practices into worship
In this talk the Seventy references Jeroboam in the Old Testament, a prophet who upon becoming leader in a city aided the people in turning away from the commandments and turning to what the Seventy called "Satanic" and "heathen" practices. I'm pondering on what that can mean, especially as in my "quest for truth and meaning" I am again learning about and studying pagan ideas of nature appreciation. As I continue to develop my spirituality and add traditions where I honor and recognize the earth and its cycles, I am careful to know where keeping the commandments that I've covenanted to keep and where heathen practices begins. Its another post to describe how pagan does not equal heathen or Satanic and one that is probably necessary for many people.

I also ask myself "Am I keeping the commandments with exactness?" I think so. And thus I commence on the hated "going down the Mormon checklist." My first thought was do I keep the law of chastity with exactness? Yes. What would constitute a Satanic religious practice in relation to this commandment? I'll say ritual sex. I definitely am not doing any of that! That is obviously an exaggeration of what I'm thinking, but more realistically: Do I pray only to my Father in Heaven? See my recent posts regarding Heavenly Mother. President Hinckley specifically said that it is not appropriate to pray to Mother in Heaven. I have not done that, but I do feel its appropriate to talk to loved ones (talk, not pray) who have passed away and in that sense, I have pondered the appropriateness of talking to Mother in Heaven. I have not yet made that decision, and really, so awkward to try to start a conversation with someone who knows you intimately but you are not familiar with... I did it with a member of my ward who I have admired for a while. However, when it comes to Mother in Heaven, I want to study it out some more before I decide to do that.
Bednar: heed warnings, when warning are given, watch carefully. Word of Wisdom warning of exploitative practices in the last days, infants respond to the spirit of the book of Mormon, make gospel discussions normal in everyday conversation
This talk as full of instruction regarding my role as mother and parent and in my experience, by following the counsel to make gospel discussion part of everyday conversation, my marriage is strengthened as well as I discuss and testify with my husband.

I was especially impressed by Elder Bednar saying that even infants can respond to the spirit of the Book of Mormon. I saw Willem as an infant respond to hymns in a spiritual way, but I would really like to see and know that an infant of mine has responded to the Book of Mormon in the way that it is described in the book "as if by a familiar spirit."

Elder Bednar also mentioned the phrase "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" from the Word of Wisdom and as I learn more about the food industry and agribusiness and their unethical, unsustainable and unhealthful business practices the more I wish that the Church would decry it from the pulpits of General Conference. Its unlikely that will ever be done, but it was hinted at today by Elder Bednar and that was exciting enough to be noteworthy for me.
Holland: lusts pervasiveness--the root of the tree of baseness in media, personal actions to solve the problem. mentions concerted organized effort to address the problem
I always love a little righteous indignation over the General Conference pulpit and Elder Holland is becoming known for it over the last few conferences. I loved the analogy he drew for the filth of the media and how we can, in our personal lives can attack the root of the tree by not letting it into our homes, paying for it, etc. His comments minimized the effects that an organized effort would have on changing the media and instead focused on what we can do as individuals and families, but he did not condemn any organized efforts to stop it. In recent conversations with other church members about issues that we could tackle as a group and organization, we have tried to find issues that have been discussed in church meetings that we could try to take on and would be obviously in line with current teachings of the church. This talk suggested to me that this might be one activism activity that we could develop.
Tomorrow I'll try to do the same thing I have done for today. I've enjoyed it. I also always enjoy when I can prevent any more paper from laying around my house. Electronic writing is my friend. :-)