Moroni All-in-One (Moroni 1-10)

Monday, November 30, 2020


TFF 2020 BoM Episode 41 Hi! I’m Elise. And although I'm usually joined by my best friend and cohost Channing, this is going to be a solo episode of The Faithful Feminists podcast.

But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the come follow me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures and a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood. We're here to show you all the really good ways that faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. We've saved you a seat on the soft chairs, so join us today for a conversation about the entire book of Moroni for the rest of December, 2020. We're so glad you're here today.

Welcome back. Because we are combining the book of Moroni into one mega episode. This means that this is the very last episode of 2020. We have finished the Book of Mormon! When Channing and I first started The Faithful Feminists at the beginning of 2020, we knew that we were stepping into uncharted territory…women? Like interpreting the scriptures? What are their qualifications? How dare they use that? F-word…um, feminism! But we felt called to this work because we believe that women's voices, experiences and ideas not only matter to God, but also matter to building a better, more equitable, more just gospel in the LDS tradition.

We know what it's like to go through a faith, transition, to feel isolated and rejected by the church community. To pray each day for change only to have it comes so, so slowly. And so we wanted to create a space and create content for all of you out there who may have felt the same. We wanted to save you a seat on the soft chairs. So we set out to take the scriptures to task and push the boundaries of traditional interpretation by bringing with us our love for feminism, social justice, sisterhood, and the gospel.

Now we're 11 months in, with 44,000 episode downloads and about 6,000 followers on Instagram. The Faithful Feminists has only made it this far because of you. You all have been such active participants in this project. You listen, you share, you comment, you email, you message us, and you engage in your own feminist interpretations. We think that this means not only do you love the podcast and think that the work we do matters, but it also means that we're doing the work together, you and me and Channing and the thousands of others out there who follow along each week. This work is taking flight because of you.

So now we'd like to ask that if you have learned something from the podcast, if you have paused and replayed it, if you've taken notes and use this content in your lessons and your conversations with your friends and your family, if this has brought you a new perspective, changed your mind or changed your heart, if you were here with us for our feminist celebration of Easter, or here with us for our conference care kit. If you're a new follower or a long-time listener, we would really, really appreciate it if you could make a one-time donation to the project, by following the link in our bio or by visiting our website, your donation means that we can continue the podcast in sustainable ways, collaborate with new guests and make plans for the future.

The Faithful Feminists mean the world to us because you mean the world to us. We are humbled by and so grateful for your unwavering support. We never could have imagined that when we said we were saving you a seat on the soft chairs, that it would be you, that we got to share a row with. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for such a beautiful year together. We love you.

Now in today's episode, we've got the entire book of Moroni to work through. It's 10 chapters and the first like six or seven chapters are super short and we're not going to spend much time there. The main topics for this episode are going to be entering into God's rest, violence against women, and gifts of the spirit. This episode will then end with short testimonies from both Channing and me. I'm also going to put a trigger warning on this episode. The second point that we will discuss comes from Moroni chapter nine, which discusses rape, murder, and cannibalism. I'll be sure to give you a heads up when we get to that point so that you can choose how you would or would not like to engage with this content.

So a quick rundown of chapters one through six. Here we learn about the Holy ghost, ordaining priests and teachers sacrament, how meetings are conducted, and forgiveness. They're powerful short chapters, and I hope that you can pull bits of goodness from them. But our first point about entering into God's rest comes from chapter seven, verse three. The verse says, “Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which she can enter into the rest of the Lord from this time henceforth until you shall rest with him in heaven.” I've always been struck by the idea of God's rest.

And I think at first, when I think about entering into God's rest, I think of a good long nap, like an absolute break, a pause from life and work and driving and emails and zoom and pandemic and, and just a break from exhaustion. A time where God pauses things for me. And I can just focus all of my time on resting or sleeping or just lying still. And while right now this is the type of rest I feel like I need the most, I think there's also so much more that we can pull from this idea of rest.

On this same verse, Joseph F. Smith said, “What does it mean to enter into the rest of the Lord? Speaking for myself, it means that through the love of God, I have been won over to him so that I can feel at rest in Christ that I may no more be disturbed by every wind of doctrine by the cunning and craftiness of men whereby they lie in wait to deceive. And that I am established in the knowledge of the testimony of Jesus Christ so that no power can turn me aside from the straight and narrow path that leads back into the presence of God to enjoy exaltation in his glorious kingdom. That from this time hence forth, I shall enjoy that rest until I shall rest with him in the heavens.”

I really appreciate this depth of feeling at rest in Christ. Feeling like Joseph F. Smith says like I'm not tossed about, with every bit of doctrine by the cunningness and craftiness of men, I'm not tossed about with every comment or general conference talk or missed opportunity by the church.

We follow the Nap ministry on Instagram and they write, “Oh, how powerful it is to make space for rest. You must be subversive, flexible, and inventive. It is your divine right to rest. We will rest.” Elsewhere they write, “Rest helps you enjoy silence. Silence and rest removes the veils from our faces so we can truly see what is happening. May deep sight surround us. May rest cover us.”

Speaking with one of my mentors on this topic she said that the beauty of entering into God's rest is that it is inherently generative. Creation depends on divine rest. And that makes me think that perhaps God's rest, isn't really a pause or like a break away from life or work, but it's a rest that is rejuvenating. Perhaps we enter into God's rest not because we are depleted, but because we want to experience overflowing abundance. Where the everyday-ness of the world leaves us feeling exhausted and bored and moving through a monotony, God's rest and love fills us with creativity. It gives us purpose and vibrance to our everyday-ness in this way.

God's rest is not a separate place from our world. It is what makes our everyday world worth living. Going back to that passage from Joseph Smith, he talks about God's rest as if it is something that we will eventually end up in. And I think that that's also the way it's written about in the scriptures. But I like imagining God's rest as being tangible here and now that I can enter into God's rest before I die. And like before I'm in heaven that I have access to that love, that rest, that peacefulness that meaningful creative power of God today.

Thinking of rest also makes me think of unrest, a state of dissatisfaction disturbance or agitation in a group of people that typically leads to action. It may be easy at first to think that the world gives us unrest, whereas God gives us rest. And I don't necessarily think that that's wrong, but maybe unrest is one of the things that brings us into God's rest. When we notice injustice and brutality, when we are dissatisfied or disturbed by the treatment of LGBT folks, Black folks, women, maybe this is one of the igniters that reminds us that in unrest, there is the possibility of rest in the injustice of the world.

There is always already the possibility of God or, or maybe thinking about the Nap ministry, God's rest is what removes the veil from our eyes so that we can truly see the unrest that is happening. God's rest allows us to engage in the unrest in a way that brings everyone into rest. God's rest, God's love, God's abundance, and God's rejuvenating creativity helps us see the unrest for what it is and show up with our full hearts. Our full active minds actively engaged in ways to invite and bring everyone into the goodness of God's rest to work through that unrest. And maybe going one step further God's rest is what allows us to wrest, w-r-e-s-t, free from like forcibly pull away from the unrest of injustice.

I have all of these words, rest unrest and rest with a w all floating through my mind. And I just have a few questions I'd like us to think about. In what way does God's love or God's rest, wrest us free from unrest? How does God's rest twist us free or west us from the clamoring work of the world? Although I don't have it all worked out just yet, I really think that there's something here about God's rest unrest and wrest with a w that I'm going to continue to work through. Thanks for letting me work it on out with you over the podcast and look forward to my forthcoming paper on the topic one day. Just kidding. I haven't actually written anything, but I'm feeling quite inspired by this idea.

In the rest of chapter seven there are a few powerful verses that stand out to me. In verse 13, it talks about everything that is good or enticeth us to do good comes from God. And for me, this means that every time we learn from listen to serve and love our neighbors and the stranger that is from God, every time we engage in the work of peace, building of social justice, of reparation that comes from God. This also pushes back against like a brash individualism and this bootstrap ness, like pick yourself up from your bootstraps and everything you got, you did on your own. No one helped you. Well, someone loved you enough to get you here and that God did every good thing in our lives or everything that even entices us to do good, that all comes from God.

In chapter seven, verse 18, this verse talks about judging righteously. This verse says “For, with that same judgment, which he judge, he shall also be judged.” And there's a line by, I think he's a psychoanalyst and philosopher, his name is Adam Phillips and he wrote, “We create the taste by which we are judged.” And that line always rattles around in my mind. And when I, and so when I read this verse in chapter seven, this Phillips line came to me. We create the taste by which we are judged. The way I move throughout the world, the way I interact with others, the way I share my gifts, share my kindness, create hospitality and welcoming or not that same taste is the one by which I will be judged.

Now we're going to move to chapter nine. And this is a place where I am inserting the trigger warning. Again, in this chapter, we're going to talk about rape sexual violence, sexual assault murder in cannibalism. So, if you need to check out no worries. You can jump back in for our third and final point in chapter 10.

In chapter nine, this is a letter or an epistle that Mormon is writing to his son Moroni. So chronologically it seems like we're doing a little flashback to the, this battle that happened between the Nephites and the Lamanites, where the Nephites were totally destroyed. This is one of the letters that comes from that time from Mormon to his son. And Mormon gives us a little bit of context for why the people are absolutely horrendously wicked during this time. And chapter nine, verse five, he writes that the people have lost their love one towards another, and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.

This is so striking. They have lost their love for one another. There is no love that dwells here. And if we think of God as love, that also means that God is not dwelling with the people. These people thirst after blood seek revenge continually. And are constantly engaged in wars and violence, bloodier than everything before them. And the next few verses Mormon tells us that the Lamanites have taken the Nephites prisoners. They've taken men, women, and children, but then they kill the men and they feed their flesh to the women and children. They feed the flesh of their husbands and their fathers to the women and children. They don't give the women and children any water, and many of the widows aren't even given any food at all. And they're left to just wander the land to try and find food, but many of them faint and die.

But even though this is a great abomination of the Lamanites, like, there is no good, pure, righteous thing that they're doing there, this still isn't as bad as Moroni and Mormon’s people, the Nephites in Moriantum. In verse nine, Mormon writes, “They, the Nephites took the daughters of the Lamanites prisoners deprived them of that which was most dear and precious above all things which is chastity and virtue. And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in the most cruel manner, torturing their bodies, even unto death. And after they had done this, they did devour their flesh, like unto wild beasts because of the hardness of their hearts. And they do it for a token of bravery.”

Whew. That is a lot. We need to split this verse up into kind of two pieces because there's so much evil going on here that we need to take it in waves. So the first part of the verse gives us this really problematic pairing of rape or sexual assault and the loss of chastity and virtue. As it stands, the text says that chastity and virtue, right, the things that make women valuable in patriarchal settings and in traditional Christianity were stolen from these women when they were raped. Or using a euphemism like Mormon uses or Joseph Smith uses the Nephites “deprived them of that, which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue.” Here the phrase deprived them of what was most dear and precious chastity and virtue here, that phrase stands in for rape. The Nephites rape the Lamanite women.

So why does this matter? Why does it matter that there's this perceived loss of chastity and virtue? Well, for those who have been raped, sexually assaulted or abused, this verse basically says that the abusers have defiled them in such a way that it steals their innocence, makes them dirty, ashamed, guilty, unworthy, and unlovable. It reinforces the chewed gum mentality. I'm thinking of Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped, raped and abused. And for those victims and survivors reading the scripture is incredibly triggering, upsetting and painful because it makes them imagine themselves in place of those Lamanite women. It makes them remember the way that men enacted violence against them, violated them, stole their agency, voice, freedom and now in this verse seem to steal their chastity and their virtue too.

These verses seem to suggest that these women are now devoid of a part of themselves, that they will always be incomplete, that there is no healing, love, or comfort available to them. And that idea that rape or sexual assault steals from us, our virtue, our divinity, our chastity, that is an incredibly harmful rape culture inducing line of thinking. The Feminist Mormon Housewives write, “Unfortunately, I agree that virtue and chastity are dear and precious but this scripture is not about virtue or chastity at all. It is clear that what is happening in this verse is rape torture and murder. Those Lamanite women were deprived of something, something dear and precious they were deprived of their, in a sense, their safety and their human dignity. They were deprived of their lives. They were not however deprived of their virtue or chastity.”

I'm so glad that the Feminist Mormon Housewives are making this so explicit. And despite some problematic statements from church leaders in the past, I'm thankful that the church's official position in the handbook and on the website is that rape is never the fault of the victim in the handbook. It says, “Be assured that you are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. You do not need to feel guilt. If you have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether you have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, you are not guilty of sexual sin. Know that you are innocent and that your heavenly parents love you.” But even with that said, even with the official kind of position of the church, this verse still clearly states that the rapists deprived these women of their virtue and chastity.

The Feminist Mormon Housewives write, “So if rape is entirely the fault of the perpetrator, if these Lamanite women were not one tiny, little bit responsible for the crimes committed against them, what are we to make of this scripture? What does it mean? And why does it say Lamanite women were deprived of their chastity? When everything we believe as Mormons says that they were not.” Well from here, they try and put some things into context: “Mormon is the one that's writing this letter to his son, Moroni, and Mormon is definitely shocked and heartbroken, but these tragedies do happen. They've happened all throughout the book of Mormon. They happen in the Bible and they happen throughout history. Throughout much of history. A woman's value has been placed heavily on her virginity.”

And I would argue that this is still true for the LDS culture today. But this purity culture doesn't recognize at all the ways that our choices, our morals, our inherent worth, and dignity, our value in being child, a child of heavenly parents, all of those things seem to not matter at all in this scenario, it seems like when a woman loses her virginity, The scripture seems to say that her value as a human being is also gone. The Feminist Mormon Housewives continue, “So when we look to Mormon the author and Joseph Smith, the translator, they know exactly what it meant for a woman to be raped within the culture that they lived. And it meant the end of her dignity. No hope for a decent marriage and no possibility of a good respectable life.

This is not to say that they approved of a woman being thought of or treated this way. And when Joseph Smith translated those words, his culture informed him to 19th century men didn't use words like rape. They used euphemisms like “deprived of their virtue and chastity.” And as Mormon lamented that they were deprived of what was most precious to them, he meant their virginity and their chance at a good life, not their moral center, not their values, not those things we would call virtue and chastity. A 19th century euphemism for rape in a verse that laments the fact that these women's lives were ruined by that rape, that, which was most precious, is not meant to be used to praise what we, 21st century speakers would call virtue and chastity. It's a terrible misuse of scripture and it sends a deeply damaging message and we need to stop it.”

So in that argument, the Feminist Mormon Housewives are really using like a cultural contextual argument to say, look somewhere along the way things have got a little twisted. What we would call virtue and chastity have been plugged into a verse that actually mourns and critiques the fact that these women were raped. And alongside the Feminist Mormon Housewives, I would also like to add that rape has little to do with sex. Instead, rape is a violent act that is used to dominate control and humiliate. When a man rapes a woman, the woman often experiences shame, and ultimately feels rejected by her community as a result of the rape culture. And I think Mormon here is not only saddened by this awful scene of terror and violence, but he also seems to condemn it. Perhaps like us he sees rape as an act of torture, a brutal attack on the dignity and self of a person.

In verses 13 and 14 Mormon writes, “But, O my son, how can people like this whose delight is in so much abomination, how can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?” Later in verse 21, “Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God, less he should smite me.” And the truth is God, won't stay their hand of judgment, the sort of punishment and justice hangs over their heads without hesitation. The truth is God would smite you Mormon if you recommended the Nephites to go into heaven after this. And that just, I mean, that makes me think, like when I first read this story, I thought, where the heck is God in all of this, where is God?

And I think that's what makes the story of imprisonment rape sexual violence, abuse, murder in cannibalism absolutely heart-wrenching. That men use their agency to take away the agency of the women in this story. You want to talk about our corruption of God's name and God's plan? Well here it is. And no God is not here with the rapists and the abusers. God is not here with the murderers and the butchers. No, God is here with the abused. God is with the victims. God is mourning and crying and cursing at such a vial, atrocious act of violence against their daughters.

I'm also reminded here of Jacob's words to the men who were abusing the women earlier in the book of Mormon and Jacob chapter two verses 31 through 33. The Lord speaks “For behold I, the Lord have seen the sorrow and heard the morning of the daughters of my people because of the wickedness and abominations of their [rapists abusers, murderers. Those are my words.] And I will not suffer, say the Lord of hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people shall come up onto me against the men. For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people save, I shall visit them with a sore curse, even on to destruction.”

I think that this verse from Jacob is a really comforting, justice-filled voice of God that echoes the sad sorrowful voice of Mormon. Because in this chapter, too Mormon says I can't do anything to stop them. I talk, I try and talk to them and they won't listen. I don't talk to them and they do whatever they want. Like I am out of options here, but hearing the voice of the Lord in Jacob now kind of flashed before our eyes in Moroni chapter nine, I think it's a clear feminist stance from God. I think it's a clear voice from the Lord that says I see the suffering of my women. I'm with them. And you better watch out because their cries are coming right up to me. And I'm going to visit you with a sore curse and you will be destroyed. I'm also appreciative of that voice of the Lord too, because while I do appreciate the Feminist Mormon Housewives run-through of this verse, I think they help us understand a bit about the context, but for me, I'm almost less concerned with the context and more concerned with the impact.

And the impact is that women were raped, abused, and murdered, and that it's been connected to their chastity and their virtue as if being a victim or survivor of rape or sexual assault, deprives us of our worthiness deprives us of our goodness and our virtue. And it doesn't, and God shows up and says that to us as we pair it with God's words from Jacob chapter two. With all of this said this isn't even all of the terror that happens in this text. After the kidnapping, the imprisonment and the rape, the women are then murdered and eaten.

I’ve been reading a book titled the “Sexual Politics of Meat” which is a book about feminism and vegetarianism written by Carol J. Adams. In this book, she works through the common oppressions of women and animals, linking butchering and sexual violence in our culture. In one of the chapters, she links the oppression and exploitation of women and animals through the cycles that she outlines as objectification, fragmentation, and consumption. In it, objectification allows the oppressor to view another being as an object. With this, the oppressor then violates this being by treating them like an object. For example, the rape of women that denies women freedom to say no, or the butchering of animals that converts animals from living, breathing beings into dead objects. From this objectification, this leads to fragmentation or brutal murder and dismemberment, and then finally consumption--the eating of the object.

Of this final stage Adams writes, “Consumption is the fulfillment of oppression. The annihilation of will of separate identity.” Because they have been treated as nothing. They are seen as nothing. They are on the same level as the animals. They're not women with full, vibrant lives. They have been reduced down to nothing and then consumed in one final fulfillment of oppression. Oh, this is so hard to talk about because murder cannibalism are already horrendous, but then to have it preceded by kidnapping and imprisonment and rape makes it almost unspeakable. Almost.

With these stories of violence, commonly referred to as texts of terror because they terrorize the women characters and the reader, I think that we want to look away because we don't want to see the brutality. We don't want to be there with them. We don't want to have to look. We don't want to have to think about what this meant for them and what it means for us. We don't want to carry the pain, but carrying this pain is part of our covenant to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, carrying the pain and witnessing the stories of women. That's part of sisterhood. It's part of fighting for justice.

In her article, “I want a 24-hour Truce During which There is No Rape” Andrea Dworkin writes, “As a feminist, I carry the rape of all the women I've talked with over the past 10 years, personally with me. As a woman, I carry my own rape with me. Do you remember the pictures that you've seen of European cities during the plague? When there were wheelbarrows that would go along and people would just pick up corpses and throw them in? Well, that is what it's like knowing about rape. Piles and piles and piles of bodies that have whole lives and human names and human faces.”

We have to carry these stories. We must see these women and stay with them. We must witness their suffering and not look away. We must think of them as full women with vibrant lives. We can't just think of them and remember them only with the sketch that we get in chapter nine: raped, fragmented, and consumed. This is part of their story, which means that it's part of our story and we can't erase it. We can't look away, but we can witness and honor them by seeing their pain, but also remembering that this pain and violence was not their full story. We must take this story to heart because it's also our present reality. Violence against women, rape, rape, culture, abuse, and consumption. Um, maybe like more metaphorically, maybe through pornography, all of those things, infect our community today, too. So I don't think that we can skip over this chapter.

And I also don't think that we can try and do some fancy footwork to make it sound not as bad as it is. The only way out is through. The only way to think of, to remember, to honor, to witness, to mourn with, to love these women is through their story. Do not forget them, do not look away.

In the closing verses of such a terror filled chapter Mormon reminds us that Christ can lift us up so we should let his mercy, his suffering and his atonement rest in our minds forever. Let it give us hope of healing and hope of rest. But I don't think it's only Christ that lifts us up. We're called to be like Christ. We're called to lift others up too. And sometimes that lifting up means not skipping the chapter. Sometimes that lifting up, it means lighting a few candles and shedding some tears.
Sometimes that lifting up means walking someone to their car or making sure they get home safely. Sometimes that lifting up is saying, hell no. Never again.

When we finally make it to chapter 10, this chapter feels like a bit of balm for the chapter that came before. This chapter focuses on the many gifts of God that work in various different ways, but all of them come from God. Some examples include the gift of teaching the gift of great faith, healing, the power to work mighty miracles, prophesy the holding angels, speaking in tongues and interpreting languages. When thinking of gifts, I think of recognizing and valuing our own gifts, as we share, recognize and value the gifts of others. Because in this way, if all of the gifts are from God, then all of our gifts collectively make up the body of Christ. Each is a necessary part of God's love and work.

I think one small example is in this podcast. Channing absolutely has the gift of storytelling, authenticity, and creativity. And there are times when I can become quite jealous of her, mostly because I love her and I want to be just like her, but our gifts are different. I have the gift of researching and gathering ideas, the gift of private moments, as opposed to large public sharings. But this podcast needs both of us. For the last like three or four weeks I'm sure like me, you're all missing Channing too, because it's both of our gifts together that make this podcast what it can be. And even more than that, this podcast doesn't just need Channing and I, it needs you too.

This is the lovely thing about feminism or any type of activism work. We absolutely need people organizing movements, protesting, lobbying, phone banking, et cetera, but we also need people making podcasts. We need people bearing testimonies of women and Heavenly Mother. We need people making art and sharing their stories. We need people writing blogs and books and making feminist cookbooks. All of this work is important and it's necessary. So lean into your gifts. What are you called to do? And if your gifts don't look as, I don't know, star-studded as the ones that are listed in chapter 10, right, if you don't see angels and you can't interpret language, and maybe you can't do any miracles, like causing the blind to see that doesn't mean you don't have gifts.

In fact, one of the questions I wanted to ask is how have you come to recognize those spiritual gifts in yourself and how do you recognize them in others? I think it can be really hard to recognize our own gifts because we take them for granted or we want to trade them for something else, but it might be a good practice to ask those that you love, that you trust those that are around you, ask them what they think some of your spiritual gifts are, maybe that can help unveil your eyes to see what's the right in front of you. Or maybe ask God, or maybe slow down and think about the things that feel simple and easy, or the things that fill you with passion and creativity. What are your gifts and how do you recognize them?

Now, I wanted to take some time to outline some of the spiritual gifts of the women in the scriptures. What about the gift of knowing Jesus Christ? I think of the woman at the well who ran to proclaim the love of Christ or Mary Magdalene who saw the risen Lord. Another spiritual gift might be the gift of mourning with those that mourn. Women shed tears at the cross, tears at the tomb, tears shared with those who had lost their love, their faith, their hope, their direction. Being able to mourn with those that mourn that is absolutely a spiritual gift. There's the gift of asking for what we need and demanding blessings from God. Here I think of the woman with an issue of blood who did everything that she could to grasp onto the hem of Jesus's robe, knowing that she would be healed. I also think of the Syrophoenician woman. Both of these women said, “Nope, this gospel is for us too. So you better make room and give me what I deserve.” And finally, I think of the gift of building community. I think of Luke chapter eight, where certain women gathered together to minister to care for, to work together and get things done in the name of Jesus, Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others built a community rooted in the love of God, rooted in the love of Christ. And in that they worked together, they were a sisterhood.

After the discussion of spiritual gifts, we move into the final verses of chapter 10, the final verses of the book of Mormon. And I used to think it was impossible to remember how merciful God had been when a good portion of the book of Mormon is filled with war, death, treachery, betrayal, violence, and brutality. But now that we're at the end, that merciful God is exactly the God I want to hold onto. In the Come Follow Me manual it says, “You might ponder the merciful way God led Lehi's family through the wilderness and across the great waters or the tender mercies. God showed to Enos when his soul hungered for forgiveness. Or your thoughts might turn to the mercy the resurrected Savior showed to the people when he healed their sick and bless their little children. Perhaps most important, all of this can remind you of how merciful the Lord has been to you.”

I'm grateful for a God who is merciful to me a God who leads me through this wilderness of life. That God who gives me manna and living water. A God who invites me to wrestle with questions. A God who weeps with me. A God who wants justice first, and then peace. I'm grateful for a God who inspired me all year long to dig through the scriptures who invited me to critique and to celebrate, to hold accountable and push back. The God who said read it--it's a painful mirror of humanity and patriarchy, but it's also a testament that God shows up for us in history. Sometimes it's as a prophet, sometimes it's a burning bush or a cloud or glowing rocks. But mostly God shows up as the constant, ever-present even if unnamed, everyday work of everyday people who love one another, the way God would. That's my testimony of the book of Mormon that throughout all of humanity throughout all of the messiness, the injustice, the betrayal, the violence, somehow God is here to. And I'm so grateful that the book of Mormon has reminded me of a merciful loving God.

Now we'll go ahead and play Channing's testimony and closing words, before we finished the episode.

Hi friends. It's Channing. I've missed you so much. And I've missed being on the podcast so much too, to be able to share my heart and my soul with you. It's truly been the highlight of every single week to be able to hop on and share some time with you. So I'm excited to be able to do that today, especially because it's our last episode of 2020. When we started this podcast back in February, there was no way we could have known what was in store for us this year. It's been a wild ride, but also in hindsight, I think this was the best time to start the podcast too.

I've loved being able to come to the text as a feminist and share my heart and soul with everyone. And it's definitely different this year than it would have been had I been attending church every week. It's also been incredible to watch a community grow around this podcast and we are so, so grateful that you're here. We're grateful to hear from you in our inbox. We're grateful to hear from you in our DMS and on Instagram. We love you. And without this community, this podcast would just be me and at talking to each other all the time, which is actually still the highlight of my week. But to be able to share all of this with you has probably been the greatest gift of this entire year for me. So thank you. Thank you for showing up with your vulnerability, with your authenticity, and especially with your words of love and support for us, we've needed it. And we wouldn't be able to do this without you. So thank you.

You make this community worth being a part of, but this being the last episode of 2020, and the last episode of our year of reading the book of Mormon, these chapters include Moroni’s promise where we're encouraged to pray and ponder about what we've read in the text. And so I just wanted to hop on and share a few of my thoughts. I've been thinking about this episode for a while and thinking about what I want to share and, you know, at the end of a book of Mormon reading, there's often a challenge of like, okay, bear your testimony and tell us what you think is the book of Mormon true. And for me, I want to say yes, but with the disclaimer as usual.

I don't know if we've talked about it on the podcast, but between Elise and I, we have a term that we'd like to use when we're talking about whether or not something is true and it's capital T true or lowercase T true. So for example, if something's capital T True, it would be something like gravity. It's just a proven fact. And even if you don't believe in it, it's still True. Even if you don't believe in gravity, if you drop a pen on the floor, it's going to fall to the floor. So it's True. For something that's lowercase T true I like to think of a book called it's a children's book. It's called Duck Rabbit. And in this book, there's a picture that is painted in a way that it could either be a duck or a rabbit. And depending on who's looking at it, and from what angle, it really does look like a duck or a rabbit and neither person would be wrong. And so lowercase t true means that something is valuable, but it's not capital T True.

For me, it doesn't really matter to me if the book of Mormon actually happened, if it's factually historically true. I don't really care. Like if evidence came out tomorrow, that was undeniable that said the book of Mormon was actually happened and was totally true. I don't think it would change my opinion on anything. And the opposite is true too. If evidence were to come out tomorrow that the book of Mormon was factually historically inaccurate and incorrect, I still don't think it would change my opinion. And this is why I think the book of Mormon is incredibly valuable and what it teaches about the relationship between self others and God.

Kind of in the same way that fairytales do. Did Cinderella actually exist? We don't know it's debatable, but the moral of the story is still incredibly valuable because it teaches us about ourselves and others, and depending on what lends you read it through, the divine. And so for me, that is the most valuable and authentic and nuanced reading that I can have of the book of Mormon. I love what it teaches about humility, about soft hearts, about caring and being in community with one another. That's incredibly valuable and it's a message that's desperately needed today. However, there are things in there that I don't necessarily agree with.

Like, we covered this in the Ammonihah episode, but it's really stuck with me ever since. I don't actually think that that story is something that God wanted to happen. I think it functions better as a commentary on what the relationship was between self, others and God at the time. And so does it provide value? Absolutely. Does it have the stamp of Divinity on it? I'm less sure about that, but it doesn't mean that we need to toss the whole thing out. And that's kind of what we've tried to show through this entire year is that sacred texts, just because it's sacred text and it's printed on a blue binding with iconic gold lettering on it doesn't mean that it's like the end all, be all, authority of God. Because we've talked about this in other episodes, too. God is in us. God is with us. That's literally what Jesus is named means. Emmanuel God with us, you can crack open the book of Mormon and find a lot of human commentary in there about what their relationship was with God.

But your relationship with God is all your own. So my encouragement for you, and also what I am doing for myself is taking what I find here in the book of Mormon, moving out into the world with it and trying to see how else God can surprise me in my real actual capital T true life.

Friends. I love you so much, so much. I am just like brimming over with it right now. I can't wait to share another year with you, even though it is going to be Doctrine and Covenants. And we are a little nervous about that, but with this community that we have, I'm counting on it being another fabulous year. So with all that said, I wish you the merriest Christmas possible, the happiest new year of your life. And we'll see you next year.
Powered by Blogger.