Prayer Candles & The Grand Buddha: How We Found God Here Too (2 Nephi 26-30)

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Isaiah chapters are over! Welcome, change, and meekness are just some of the topics we discuss in this episode. We talk about all the different ways we've found God in unexpected places. Take a listen to this beautiful episode and definitely check out the resources listed below!

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Scriptures mentioned in this episode:
  • 2 Nephi 26: 23-24
  • 2 Nephi 26: 33
  • 2 Nephi 26: 1
  • 2 Nephi 27: 23
  • 2 Nephi 29: 9
  • 2 Nephi 28:13
  • 2 Nephi 28: 24-25
  • Book of Amos

Transcribed by Maddie Daetwyler of @lightenprint

C: Hi, I'm Channing.

E: And I'm Elise. 

C: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast. We saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Second Nephi chapters 26 through 30, for the dates February 24th through March 1st, 2020. We're super, super so glad you're here today.

E: Welcome back. This is our fourth episode and we're so grateful that you've chosen to listen in each week with us today. We're going to talk about themes of welcome, and change, and meekness, which is well received after so much Isaiah from last week.

C: Yeah. Everyone can take a big breath of relief that Isaiah's pretty much over. You won't have to talk about it again until like, two years from now, when we go back into the Old Testament. So today we wanted to kind of just begin with talking about welcoming, and the phrase that kind of came to Elise and I when we thought about this while we were trying to pull themes from the text was the idea that God welcomes everyone. And this theme shows up really  frequently in chapter 26. There's quite a few verses that we really loved, and wanted to just share with you to demonstrate just this really beautiful idea of God welcoming everyone. And the first one that really stuck out to me personally was chapter 6, verses 23 and 24. And those say, “I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness, he doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world, for He loveth the world, even that He layeth down His own life, He may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, He commanded none that they shall not partake of His salvation.” And the second verse that really stood out to me was chapter 26, verse 33, and I'm not going to read the whole verse, but the portion that stuck out to me says, “And He invited them all to come unto Him, and partake of his goodness. And he denieth none that come unto Him, black and white, bond and free, male and female, and he remembereth the heathen, and all are like unto God.” So I just feel like those two verses in particular really highlight this welcoming and accepting, and just this really radical, loving God. 

E: Absolutely. It really is, it’s a radical openness. And so instead of a God that excludes, it's a God who is always looking to include, and to make space for, and to seek people out. And I think that's a pretty wildly awesome way to understand the nature of God, as God who welcomes and invites everyone, that there's always a seat at the table of God's love. 

C: So, as you're looking at these verses, one of the questions that came to us was, how do these verses apply to others? And so not even just others in our community or others, people who are not like ourselves, but maybe more like “the” other, maybe someone who we don't recognize, or isn't familiar to us, and Elise found this really beautiful article on the Mormon Women Project website. And in case you're not familiar with the Mormon Women Project, you can find them at And what it is, it’s actually a pretty huge digital library of interviews of millions of women that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And just to read from their About page, it “celebrates women who have made deliberate choices with the help of the spirit and personal revelation to overcome personal trials, magnify motherhood, contribute to communities outside their home, or be converted to the gospel.” I love this website. They have a ton of lesson helps. They have a ton of just interviews from women. And so if you haven't checked out their website or even their Instagram page, you definitely should because it's a great resource. So, Elise, do you want to just share about this beautiful article that you found?

E: Yeah, absolutely. This is actually from, I think that it's from four years ago, from the last time that the church was studying the Book of Mormon and it's kind of a reworking or retelling of verses, I think it's verses 26 through 28 in chapter 26 of Second Nephi. And what the author, Meredith Marshall Nelson, does is that she puts real people in place of just kind of the overarching general “other.” So when the author is writing, “Look, has God commanded that no one should take partake of God's salvation? Or has God said that no one should partake of God's goodness?” No, of course not. We just talked about God being the welcoming, open, inviting God. And so the author puts real women in place. And so what she does is she writes, “Hath He commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold, I say unto you nay, not the sisters or the wife who survived abuse, not the adopting mother or the relinquishing mother, not the Bishop's wife betrayed by her husband, not the survivor of genocide or the woman trapped in a conflict zone. Hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold, I say unto you nay, not the young widowed mother of five, not the opera singer or performer’s wife who balanced fame with family, not the podiatrist who put her career on hold to raise her children, not the grieving mother who broke down the racial barriers in her industry. Not the mother of four who took 20 years to finish her graduate degree in mathematics, not the woman with a physical disability or with special needs children.” And what I love about this entire article is that each of these women listed are actually, they're hyperlinked to real interviews that the Mormon Women Project has done with real women. So each of these are women that have their own stories. And I think it goes to show that all of these women, even though we've maybe never come in contact with them, or they might feel different or strange, or just “other” to us, God is no respecter of persons. Right? God says, “Come all, come have milk and honey, there's enough for everyone.”

C: I think that's really significant. And there are more examples of interviews, Elise just listed a few there, but there are some really impactful biographies there that I think if we just take the time to look at other people's stories and recognize that we're not all the same, and it doesn't matter because God loves us. And He loves our whole story, not just the parts that we personally, or even society, deem as acceptable. God wants all of our parts and all of us. 

E: To further demonstrate this idea of radical openness or radical welcoming is, I think, the concept of hospitality, and there's an author that I adore, his name is Richard Kearney. And he wrote a beautiful book called Anatheism, which I am totally obsessed with. And when we were doing this outline, I had gone back through the Anatheism book and I was like, “Oh, I'll just put a few bullet points of some passages that I like.” And I ended up just unloading 20 bullet points. And I just finally had to stop myself and say, “Okay, clearly I love everything this man has ever written. So I should just narrow it down.” But one of my favorite passages that I found this time around, he writes, “Jesus is both the one who gives hospitality to the thirsting stranger, and the one who calls us to host him in turn as our guest.” And so there's this duality that Jesus shows us. Jesus is both our host, right? The one who welcomes and invites all of us, but then Jesus’s invitation to us is for us to be the host of every guest. And to host other people or to welcome others is to welcome God and Jesus. And so it really is a radical hospitality because it says, how can we open the door to the stranger and welcome them instead of turning them away with hostility?

C: That's really significant. And it reminds me of kind of a trend that I've seen on Pinterest, actually, of all social media pages, it might just be the people that I follow, but a lot of the articles and things that are showing up in my Pinterest feed are about the godly act of not entertaining people, but hosting people, and welcoming them and welcoming them into our homes, welcoming them into our lives, and not making it like a big, huge deal. For me, I know when I host a party or something, I'm always like, “Oh, my house needs to be clean and I need to have the perfect spread of food and I need to do everything perfectly.” But when it's really not about that, it's about inviting people into our homes so that they can see us as we are. And we can welcome them in as they are. Because it's not like Jesus ever like threw big parties. His biggest party ever was on a mountain top with two fish and five loaves of bread. And so, Jesus is all about hospitality in the moment and welcoming people in as they are. And so I think a lot of times when we think about hospitality, we think of the whole, “Gotta be the perfect fifties housewife hostess,” when really it's that same radical acceptance, both of others welcoming them in, but also of ourselves. So when we open the door to people, we're not like, “Oh, sorry for my messy house.” It's like, ”Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Let's sit down. Let's talk.” And so, even just in thinking about, oh man, how can I apply this idea of hospitality to myself? Just even in my own home, not even to make broad claims about the church or whatever, but even in my own home, that can be my sphere of influence. I can be welcoming. I can allow people into my life and be vulnerable and share. We can share each other. Which that sounds, I don't know. Maybe that sounds weird, but kind of is what it is. 

E: No, that's such a good point because we have to allow both the host and the guests to remain their full selves, because there can't be any conditions on this radical hospitality, or at least with Jesus, there were no conditions, right? It's just kind of, everyone is welcome to come as they are. And so, yes, I understand that as humans we have limits, we can't just kind of welcome anyone that knocks at our door, right? That's an impossible task, but because it's an impossible task, it should call us to try to emulate Jesus. And Jesus is the one who welcomes everyone perfectly. And though we can't do that, we do have to remember that when we do welcome the stranger, that we let them in in all of their strangeness, because it's in that non-knowing that we might find ourselves surprised. Right? For example with Channing and I, we would have never known that we would have been able to become best friends had we said, “Hey, I'm only going to visit teach you or hang out with you if you look like me or if you make me feel comfortable. And so therefore you have to assimilate to be who I think you should be, instead of letting both of us just be in all of our weirdness and our quirkiness, and because it invites curiosity and it invites questioning and it invites further conversations and further opportunities to love the other person as they really are.

C: Absolutely. So one of the other questions that came to mind as we were reading these verses, too, is not only how can we apply this radical openness and welcoming of God to others, but how does it apply to ourselves? So for me, while I was reading these verses, I felt like there was kind of two different ideas that stood out to me. One was the question, what do I allow to separate me from God? And so I kept thinking, in my own life, what circumstances, or what instances have there been where I have felt like there has been some kind of purposeful separation? So for me, I really struggle with depression sometimes. And so I feel like for me, sometimes those states of just shame and feeling unworthy and feeling like I've been forgotten, sometimes I do just in those really dark places feel that separation from God. And so these verses are really comforting to me that remind me that no matter what state of mind I'm in, no matter what state of heart I'm in, no matter what the cruel and horrifying messaging is for my own thoughts, God is still welcoming me in with open arms and still wants me there. And so for me, that's always been a really hopeful thing. Elise, any ideas?

E:  I think if we think back to Nephi’s psalm, earlier in Second Nephi, this is where we saw Nephi struggling. “God, I feel separate from you because I feel unworthy or sinful, or I just feel so sad. And how can a God love me when I'm my full human self?” I think what we learned from the Nephi’s psalm that gets reiterated here is that God is always more than we expect God to be. There's always more love. There's always more invitation, more forgiveness. And so to place our own limits on God is to do God an injustice because God is always more, and people are always more, than we expect them to be.

C: That's a really hopeful way to look at it. I'm kind of in love with that. Something that really stood out to me, not just in this chapter, but in all of the chapters in this particular section was some of the language that Nephi uses to address his audience. And I think it brought up for me, just the idea of maybe practicing something new with this text. And so, for example, even in the first verse of chapter 26, Nephi refers to his audience as my children and my beloved brethren. And then that's it. And so I think the first time, I was like, “Oh yeah, my beloved brethren, that's me.” But then the more I thought about that, I was like, you know, what if we just stopped at my beloved? I love that reference, if we think of being beloved to God or that we are God's beloved. Not only is it pretty gender equal, but it's also just this very tender relationship with God. And this idea of the necessity of finding myself in the text when my womanhood is not explicitly mentioned, reminded me of a passage that I had read a while ago from a book that I've mentioned before, it's The Dance of the Dissonant Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. And I just wanted to share with you what she wrote, because I feel like it really powerfully demonstrates kind of what I'm talking about here. So she says, “I became acutely aware that every hymn and biblical passage used only masculine pronouns as if that was all there was. Until then I had accepted that when it said men and brotherhood, that somehow that meant me too. I realized that lacking the feminine, the language had communicated to me in subtle ways that women were non-entities, that women counted mostly as they related to men. Until that moment, I'd had no idea just how important language is in forming our lives. What happens to a female when all her life she hears sacred language indirectly filtered through male terms. What goes on deep inside her when decade after decade, she must translate for male experience into female experience, and then apply the message to herself? What does the experience imprint inside her?” So in light of that passage, I think a powerful practice that we can use with the scriptures is to purposefully interject feminine pronouns or to purposefully use feminine descriptors in our own reading of the text. And especially for women, I feel like this is a really powerful practice because it makes me more aware of the text. And also it allows me to relate to the text a lot more personally. And so when we talk about, you know, what do we let separate us from God? Sometimes separation is very intricately intertwined, even in our own sacred text, for women especially, that there's kind of a separateness that our mediator between us and our own spirituality can sometimes be male authority or priesthood or men in general, when really, God is right there for us right now, there need not be a separation. And so today, as Elise and I read some of these verses, but then also you, in your own study, I just would love to encourage you to practice some of, not even necessarily a substitution of feminine pronouns and feminine descriptors, but it's really more like putting in there what's already supposed to be in there anyway. So I just think that that's a really powerful practice that you can use in your study this week. 

E: And we're going to try to, when we read more passages from the scriptures in this episode, we're going to try and do the same practice, to either switch out men for women or say men and women, or say all, and see how that inclusive language invites everyone to participate in the text because one thing that I believe is that without language, language shapes our reality. And so if you don't have words or language for these ideas, then you don't know how to think about them. You don't know how to participate and you don't know how to be in the world without these words to support you and shape your understanding.

C: In these chapters, too, we also find a really interesting concept. And before we talk about what that concept is, I just want to read this verse. Before we even expose you to our own ideas, I want you to experience the verse first. So this verse is in chapter 27, verse 23. And so it says, “For behold, I am God, and I am a God of miracles. And I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today and forever.” Reading this verse in context of the chapter and in context of the other verses that surround it, the traditional reading of this is that this verse showcases the need for continuing revelation, which is really a unique theology for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I think too, a different reading that we can offer of this verse is that it's kind of a contradiction. God says in the same sentence that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but also God is a God of miracles. And like Elise was saying earlier in the podcast, that God is always so much bigger and greater than what we expect. And so maybe it's not necessarily that God is unchanging all of the time, but that maybe certain aspects or certain presentations of God are always changing. And so what I mean by that is not that there are some characteristics of God that never change. For me, I personally believe that God's love is always constant and God's love never changes. And I also personally believe that God will show up for us. And that God is a God of liberation. And so there are aspects of God that do not ever change. But when I talk about this idea, sometimes I talk about the face of God, and that sometimes the face of God can change. And so this isn't to say that, you know, God can't be who we need God to be at the time, but that God can change and show up for us in the ways that we need. And this really establishes the need, then, for continuing revelation. If God is changing to meet our own needs, then we need to be in constant communication with God, expressing our need, and then also being open to the way that God shows up for us, to be able to meet those needs of not only ourselves, but all of those around us.

E: For me, I, your explanation was I think just spot on and also thinking about the face of God. And so it's not that God always changes, like God loves us one day and then God doesn't love us the next day. I think the constant is that God always loves us, but the way that God shows up for us or shows or manifest that love for us changes, and it should change because I change, and because the world changes, and because my trials are different from day to day. And so to say, or to limit God, and say, “Look, God, I only want you to love me like this,” robs us of so many different types of experiences with God that are bigger and so much more unexpected than we could have ever imagined.

C: This also reminds me of a quote that I heard during my yoga teacher training, and it's from a guru, his name is Yogi Bhajan, and I just love this quote because it's so simple. He says, “If you cannot see God in all, you cannot see God at all.” And I think that really demonstrates God is everywhere. And God looks like everything, and God is in everything. And so if we can just be open to the majesty and the miracle of God's self, that really opens up so much opportunity for us to experience God's love.

E: This is a really great transition into chapter 29 of Second Nephi, because this is where the people are saying, you know what, thanks, but we already have the bible and we're already pretty comfortable with the God that we “know.” And so we don't need any more truth or understanding. We don't need any new versions of God to come surprise us. 

C: And in the Come Follow Me manual, they make the correlation that the book that they're explicitly referring to is the Book of Mormon. And like Elise said, addressing those concerns from the people who are like, yeah, we already have the bible, we don't need anything else, that kind of dispute the need for another testament of Christ. But I loved this verse in chapter 29, verse 9, it says, and this is God speaking, “And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today and forever. And that I speak forth my words, according to my own pleasure. And because I have spoken one word you need not suppose that I cannot speak another, for my work is not yet finished, neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time, henceforth and forever.” And I love this verse because I feel like God gets a little bit sassy. He's like, I speak to my own pleasure. I do what I want. It just really demonstrates that even though we think that we know God because we have the bible, because we have the Book of Mormon, because we have the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, God is still bigger than that, even though we have all the truths that are contained in this book, even in these books, God still says you don't know everything about me. And I think that that is one of the most hopeful and most promising gifts that we are given from the scriptures, is that God will always surprise us. And I just think that's so exciting. That's so cool.

E: It is so exciting. And one thing we need to be careful of, I think, is the ways that… I think that we can read the verse that you just read, or the entire chapter 29, saying like, “Oh, you know what, other people reject the Book of Mormon, so they don't want further light from about Jesus Christ or about God. But we also can do that in our own congregations, both inside the church and outside of the church. And so it happens to us two-fold. So we have to be extremely aware of the ways that we're rejecting further light and further truth about God. So for example, inside of the church, even though there are people who quote unquote “believe the same things that we do,” all of these people are different and they have different experiences. And so what is one way that we can practice welcoming other people, even in our own church congregations or our own neighborhoods, people that seem familiar to us, but can actually surprise us and teach us new things. And then we can also practice this outside of the church. Right? I think we're quick to say, “Oh, people are rejecting the Book of Mormon,” but how quick are we to reject other religions or other people's experiences of sacredness and of holiness and divinity. And one of the things Channing and I thought we would talk about is how we've felt that spiritual manifestation of the divinity or of truth outside of the church. And how are we able to say, “Oh my gosh, God, is that you? You're not even in my church building?” Just like you were saying, if we can't see God in all things, then we can't see God at all. I have experiences that I wanted to share where I felt, both inside and outside of the church, where I felt God manifesting God's self to me in different and unexpected ways. And the first is when I went to the temple once to do initiatories, and it was the first time I had done initiatories is since I had been sealed. And so I had zero recollection of what an initiatory even was. And I was so just stunned at this whole process and this whole kind of ritual that was going on, and I just loved it, and it was an unexpected way for God to show up for me. And so that's a really special moment that I cherish, but then outside of the church, a couple of years ago, my husband and my parents and I, we went to China. And it was like this, you know, see all these cities in just a few days type of thing, where you like take a bus and it was super fun, but it was a different type of trip than we had ever done before. And one of the stops on the itinerary was to go see this giant, giant statue of Buddha. It was a religious and sacred place for many of the people who lived in this part of China. And so we didn't know what to expect, really. I didn't know how big the statute was. And I think at first I was just anticipating the statute being kind of like the Christus that you see in the temple, but it was so much bigger. It was ginormous. It was bigger than, I don't… it was huge. It was bigger than the temple. I don't even know what to compare it to. It was absolutely giant. And so you pull up in the bus to this mountain, and on top of the mountain is this golden statue of the Buddha and it's inspiring. It is absolutely breathtaking. And there's stairs that you walk up to go see the Buddha. And I just remember walking up each stair in silence. Because I was so overcome with -- I just felt so small, in a good way, in a way that said, “Wow, there are things bigger than me at work here. And I think that this is God,” not that the statue of the Buddha is God, but the whole experience of being/feeling small, and feeling that awe, that was the way that God surprised me and allowed me to have a religious experience in this situation where I think from the outside looking in, you can say, “Oh, you silly LDS girl, how can you feel God at this giant icon of the Buddha,” but you weren't there, so you don't get to say because, sorry, that's my experience with my God. So thank you. 

C: One of the experiences that I thought about when I was thinking about, you know, my experiences with God is when I actually gave birth to my son. So when my son was born, I had a natural birth and I felt like, you know, after you give birth you have all these hormones and all of these endorphins and it makes you feel like you're literally high, is actually what it kind of feels like. And after he was born, I just remember, you know, holding him in my arms. My husband was asleep on the couch on the other side of the room and my midwife had just stitched me up in places that definitely you'd never want to get stitches in. And I just remember sitting there bleeding, covered in sweat, and just being so perfectly happy holding this newborn baby in my arms. And I just remember feeling like, “Wow, this is the greatest pain and the greatest peace that I've ever experienced in my whole life.” Just sitting there holding my son, just for, you know, a perfect two hours of my life. I could hear the birds singing outside in the trees. The sun was coming in through the window. It was like 6:30 in the morning. The world was just starting to wake up and it was just this beautiful moment of just perfect peace. And, when I think about it, some of my most tender moments and experiences with God, that was definitely one. And then I also, outside of the church too, I visited New York city with my aunt when I was 19. And we went to see a ton of Broadway shows and did a lot of shopping and all of the cool, fun stuff that you would always hope to do when you went to New York. And we happened to stop by a giant cathedral. And I wish that I remembered the name of it, but I don't, I know that there's a couple. And my aunt is not LDS and she's not even really religious. So I was a little bit hesitant to say I want to go in, but I think she could kind of tell. So she's like, why don't we go in? And we walked into this Catholic cathedral and there was a wedding going on. But then also around this giant cathedral, there was just a punch of people walking in and out of this church and lining the main…. I'm going to sound so culturally ignorant, I'm sorry if we have any Catholic listeners, if we do, please tell me what the architectural format is of Catholic churches, but in a Catholic cathedral, what we would think of as the chapel is actually just all one big, giant building. So around the sides of the pews were just these little altars, each an individual altar set up to different saints or even different, I think they were different saints, and they all had candles lit on these different altars and you could light a candle as a kind of a prayer to different saints. And so there was a saint of love and there was a saint of charity, and service, and anyway, I just kind of walked around, looked at all of the art, and just felt like I really wanted to light a candle. So I felt for a minute like, “Oh my gosh, am I allowed to do this? I’m a Mormon, I don't know if I'm even allowed.” And then I just kind of like got this feeling of, you know, what if I want to engage with God in this way, if lighting a candle is going to be meaningful and significant to me, why the heck not? And so I did, and I just remember after we lit the candle we ended up just walking out of the chapel, but even just the imagery, the openness of the chapel, that I could just walk into whenever I wanted, it wasn't locked, I didn't have to get keys from my local priesthood leader to walk into this chapel and worship., I could probably walk in there whenever I wanted and just have this experience with God.

E: I love all of the experiences that we've shared, because it reminds me that in order for us to allow God to surprise us, we have to be open. We have to be willing to try new things, to put ourselves at risk sometimes, because the only way you are able to feel God in that chapel or that cathedral, and the only way I was able to feel God at the feet of the giant Buddha statue is for us to say, “Wait, I know that this might not be where I expect God to be, but let me see what happens if I remain open. I wonder how God can show up for me here.” And there's a passage that we wanted to read from a book that just came out. It's called The Book of Mormon for the Least of These by Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming. And it is so good. If you don't have it, you should buy it. But there's some commentary here that I'd like to read. It says, “Eventually everyone will have all of the holy words. It's thrilling to think of the day when all of God's children will sit down together and say, tell me about how God has been moving among you. Tell me your sacred stories. What has God been doing with your people? What miracles have you seen?” And I think this is the question that we want to pose to our listeners. We would love to hear the ways that God has been working in your own lives, unexpectedly, surprisingly, what are your sacred stories? And we'd love for you to send them to us or share them with us, however you feel comfortable.

C: And finally, this brings us to the final theme that we wanted to discuss with you today, which comes from chapter 28. And a lot of this kind of motif that we see in the scriptures, and especially in this chapter, is one of pride and its opposite, which is meekness. And so we just wanted to explore that a little bit more. 

E: On the, I don't know, at the basic level or a pretty generic reading of this chapter is like, “Oh yeah, of course, it's about false churches with prideful people. And that certainly can't be the LDS church,” but that's not true because we are also at fault here. This chapter talks a lot about churches that build themselves up and puff themselves up and have stiff necks and say like, you know what? We know all the truth and we're just going to proclaim the things that we know to be true. And we're going to be more exclusive than we are inclusive. 

C: I think the verse that demonstrates this idea really well is chapter 28, verse 13. That one reads, “They robbed the poor because of their fine sanctuaries. They robbed the poor because of their fine clothing. They persecute the meek and the poor in heart because in their pride they're puffed up.” And so what we're kind of saying, and what we're kind of talking about, is not necessarily that the LDS church, or even any church, is a hundred percent fully guilty of doing this all of the time. But I think as a people in general, as a community in general, this quote maybe can be used as a caution to look at the ways that we're using our privilege or our status or our money or gifts or abundance, like we've talked about in previous episodes -- are we using those in a way that is self-serving? Are we using those in a way that is not charitable? And not saying that everyone's guilty of that all of the time, but I think, you know, kind of like that quote from Spider-Man that always gets quoted all the time, “With great power comes great responsibility,” it applies to churches in general. We have to be so careful with our language, with our resources, when we're talking about others, and when we're talking about helping the poor, and so one of the verses that immediately follows this verse about pride and being puffed up is verses 24 and 25. Those say, “Wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion, wo be unto him that crieth all is well.” If you look at these scriptures, they actually both have a reference to the book of Amos in the bible. And for me personally, the book of Amos is one of my favorites, because it's all about social justice. Amos is a prophet that essentially rails against the Jewish church, a little bit, for their misuse of abundance and the way that they treat people who are quote unquote “other.” And so I think this leads really well into the idea of meekness, and to the quality of meekness. So we kind of wanted to explore, what does meekness actually mean? But I think before we break that down, I think it's important to talk about, what have we thought meekness has meant in the past?

E: Yeah. Yeah. I think meekness often gets misunderstood as weakness or as this kind of like passive self-sacrificing lying down in oneself so that you don't make any waves. You let other people go before you, you keep quiet. Almost like a mousiness, I think. And that is a super, it's a pretty rude way to understand meekness because meekness is also one of -- I think a better way to understand it is it's a spiritual gift given from God. But what about you? What are some of the misunderstandings that you've heard or that you've had in the past about meekness? 

C: For me, meekness has always meant silence, that it's always meant complete submission, and not even necessarily submission to God, which is really the only person that we're supposed to submit to anyway, but just this general acceptance, it just reminds me of a doormat, you know, that whole idea of you're going to let people walk all over you, they can say whatever they want and you're just going to sit there and nod your head, and just be like, “Okay, God's going to take care of all of it.” And so I've always been like, um, yeah, meekness… That's not really something that really jives with me. But that's not really what meekness is. But I had an experience in Relief Society one time a couple of years ago in my old ward, where we talked about David a Bednar’s General Conference address about meekness. And I remember just sitting there in the classroom listening to all of these women talk about what meekness actually means. And it was some of these same ideas. So when we read a quote from the talk, I was stunned, I was like, “Oh, there is the definition of meekness that I've always been looking for.” So to quote elder Bednar, he says, “Meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost, and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute. Meekness is the principled protection from prideful blindness.” So for me, when I first heard this call, I was like, “Oh, actually, what it really means is to be open.” Maybe I am a meek person because this is what I do. I don't look for people’s degree to back up what they’re saying. It's not necessary for me. And a good example of this is fast and testimony meeting. And I know there are people out there who think fast and testimony meeting is seriously the bane of the church existence, but it is my favorite Sunday of the entire month, because it gives everyone an opportunity to speak. That is some crazy equity right there. Not a lot of places do you get the opportunity where they're just like, “Hey, if you got something to say, here's a microphone and a group of people right in front of you.” And, I just love it. In my own ward right now we have a man who has Downs Syndrome, and he is a full participating member of our ward. And one of the things that I love the most is that occasionally he gets up and bears his testimony and it's really difficult to understand him. Sometimes he doesn't always speak really clearly or pronunciate very well, but one thing that is so tender to me is that our ward is so incredibly patient and listens. And even though honest truly to goodness, I don't understand anything he's saying, I can’t say that I'm listening with my spiritual heart and that it's magically translated for me and I can understand, I really don't, but I think that for me, it is still a testament that the power of God in the spirit is working in the lives of everyone, everybody. And whether we understand it or not really truly means nothing, because it's important most for the person who's experiencing it. And that we all deserve an opportunity to share what's on our hearts, whether or not people understand or accept. And so being open to those experiences, and being open to those people, and 1) allowing them space and opportunity to speak, but 2) recognizing that it was powerful and significant for them, I think is a quality of meekness.

E: Meekness is also about suspending certainty and remaining open to the awesomeness of the changing God, because meekness is about not being content. It's about not being at ease. It's about being at risk, or just on the precipice of adventure. And so if it's not about being content, perhaps instead it's about being discontent. Michelle Craig gave a really beautiful conference address in October 2018 titled Divine Discontent. And I remember listening to her talk and just feeling like, “Oh my gosh, I bet this lady a feminist.” I can't say that for certain she is, but for me, as a feminist, listening to her talk, I was like, divine discontent -- this is the language that I've been looking for. This is the language that really beautifully describes my experience. And I feel like it also relates wonderfully to what we're talking about in meekness. So a quote from her talk, she says, “Divine discontent comes when we compare what we are to what we have the power to become. We should welcome feelings of divine discontent that call us to a higher way. These feelings are God-given and create an urgency to act.” So for me, divine discontent means looking at the circumstances around me, looking at the circumstances in my church, in my community, in my own self, and realizing perhaps how I could welcome more meekness, how I could invite more understanding, more inclusion, more opportunity, and make it a more welcome and inviting place. Sometimes I look around my church community, and my secular community as well, and I am discontent with the way things are. There are a lot of things in the world today that make me feel angry and afraid, like politics and things that are going on with the with the earth and ecological stuff. There are a lot of things that I'm discontent with outside of the church but also inside of the church, kind of like what we talked about last week with apocalyptic, that's always something that really brings up those feelings of discontent. And, a lot of the ways that we “other” people, we “other” others with our language and ideas, there I notice divine discontent, not in a judgmental way of saying, “Oh, you guys shouldn't be doing this. We all shouldn't be doing this. We have to be better.” It's more of a, “Okay, how can I do better? How can I change my language to be more inclusive? How can I invite meekness into my own life?” 

For me, I can think of divine discontent -- I think for a short second we had considered this being the name of the podcast.

C: Oh, we did.

E: Is that right? Okay. Yes, actually, I think because we were both in love with the idea that to be discontent or uneasy or unsatisfied with people, the church, the processes, all of those things, that is God-given as well. And so it pushes back on the idea of meekness as just being submission, just saying, “Oh, well I guess this is the way it's supposed to be.” And it says, “No, you know what, to feel discontent about something, that comes from God, because God aligns God's self with our desires for righteous change, whether that's righteous change in the church or outside of the church.

C: So as you go about your study this week, and as you're considering this idea of divine discontent, it might be a good practice again to just ask yourself, you know, what does this idea of divine discontent mean to you? How has it influenced your understanding of your experiences in church? How has it helped you make sense of your experiences in church?

Maybe you're right in the middle of a faith transition. Maybe you're just experiencing your own feminist awakening. Wherever you're at, this idea of divine discontent can be a really radical and loving way to look at an experience that maybe feels unusual or painful and recognize that your desire for righteous change and your experience in wanting something that is healing and good for you, it's still coming from God. So yeah, just some things to consider this week.

E: So thanks for joining us today. We hope that you were able to feel loved and inspired by these chapters. Really, about the nature of God. And I think these were refreshing chapters for us to come to because I feel so loved, I feel so seen and I feel so invited as myself when I read these chapters. We talked about welcome, and we talked about change, and we finished off our conversation by talking about meekness.

C: Yeah, and we really appreciate you listening in and joining this conversation. And as always, we want to hear from you. We never want this to be a one-sided conversation where you just tune in every week and hear what Elise and I have to say, so we invite you over to our Instagram page. You can find us @thefaithfulfeminists and let's have a conversation. Comment in one of our posts, and every Sunday we do something that I personally am in love with, it's called succor and support. And really what it is is we just check in with you every Sunday. And we want to hear how your Sundays are going, and we want to be there to support you. And as a community of women, we want to support each other. And so definitely check us out on Sunday, and let's just have a conversation whenever you're ready. Whenever you have questions or comment, we definitely want to hear from you. So if this is the first time that you're listening, great, we're so glad that you're here. You can find this episode and all of our past episodes on Spotify and on iTunes. Since we're an iTunes, yay, finally, it only took a little while longer than we thought, you can leave us a review, that really helps us gain status in their rankings and also helps us know if there's anything that we can improve, or if there's something that you want to see or hear from the podcast. So with all that being said, we wish you best of luck in studying Come Follow Me this week, and we'll see you next time.

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