Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"We" Don't Know Anything: or, Thank You, Thomas, for Saying It So Beautifully

Last Thursday, I linked to a stunning post about Heavenly Mother.  In re-reading the comments, I realized that I want to highlight one specific comment, from one of my favorite commenters in the entire Bloggernacle - Thomas Parkin.  I love a lot of his insights, but this one struck me as particularly appropriate to lots of things about which I write here.  I want to share it here, therefore, with no other personal commentary (but with my old bolding):
(quoting from someone else's comment) “we don’t know everything.”

“We” don’t know anything. There is no such thing as what “we” know, since “we” is not at agent that can possess knowledge. I have brought this up several times, and mean to do it every chance I get, however quixotic it might begin to seem. I think it is important because the idea that this is something _we_ should or even can come to know collectively steers us badly. It may cause us to hesitate where we need not, or become overly sure of ourselves where we ought not.

Knowledge, of Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father, or any other matter in the cosmos, is an individual project. In fact, while we may speculate together, and frame the discussion in beneficial ways, knowledge comes to us personally, individually, through direct experience, as we individually apply our selves to the end of gaining it. The “church” provides some context, importantly provides and protects the ordinances through which mysteries can be revealed, provides scriptures that can be both touchstones and portals, and, at least in theory, a body of believers engaged in the same project. But each person stands individually, not along a linear path that ends in knowledge but at a point in a three dimensional space where the center point towards which all seekers move represents all knowledge. There is no such thing as forbidden knowledge, and we are more than invited to seek.

The key scripture, to my mind, is Alma 12:

“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him … ” 

It seems to me the thing learned here I highly recommend finding such people.is that it is possible for any person to come to know the mysteries, but that those who know them will not generally be found speaking about them. (In this, may I say how important for me it has been to have deeply trusted friends, especially my own dad, with whom I do feel I can openly speak. I highly recommend finding such people.)

I’d really like to say that I believe that I have received revelation concerning Heavenly Mother, and that I believe this is not an uncommon thing. I find all the information that I’ve come to know about God through the Spirit deeply comforting, including information about Heavenly Mother. None of this has ever happened because I’m a very good person, because I am not a very good person. When I look back at my life I see that I produce pain and discomfort everywhere I go. Also, no one is ever going to mistake me for a typical orthodox Mormon. But these revelations have almost invariably come to me at times in my life when I have been taking my covenants very seriously, when I have been actively trying to do what we promise in the Sacrament: to remember Christ and keep His commandments in order to obtain the Holy Spirit, which is the only way these revelations can come to us. For me, “commandments” primarily means having Faith in Jesus as best as I understand Him, repenting or trying to actively improve myself in any number of ways, including improving in knowledge, and trying to conform myself to the kind of person that is presented in the Sermon on the Mount and in the parables and elsewhere in His teachings. In addition, the commandments of God to me are those personal directives that come to me through the Spirit. This in place, they have come at times when I have actively gone and sought.

Also, they have not always come; we are only ready for those things that lie just over whatever our personal horizon is. This wisdom in what we don’t receive sometimes doesn’t become obvious for a long time. In such cases, I try to recall the comfort of what I have received. Nor is any revelation the final word on any subject. While each is comforting, more is always needed, and new light always casts a different aspect on old information. I think the directive is to hunger and thirst for it.

Nor are my personal experiences a measuring stick for any other person. Every person is in their own place, with their individual histories and horizons.

I understand that there is a desire for some kind of official statement or pronouncement of doctrine – but may I suggest that this would not quench the desire, since the desire lies in the soul and is not an academic matter and can’t be satisfied by hearing people’s opinions on the matter. In any case, waiting may mean waiting till doomsday, when there is no need to wait.

Do girls yearn for the comfort of their mothers more than boys? I doubt that very much. To girls delight less in the approval of their fathers than boys? Maybe not important questions. I feel quite sure the comfort will come when we are ready for it.

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