Patterns of Apocalypse (Doctrine & Covenants 29)

Monday, March 22, 2021


Biggest gratitude to Heather for completing this transcript!

TFF 2021 D&C Episode 12 D&C 29

Channing: Hi! I’m Channing.

Elise: And I’m Elise.

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast.

Elise: [00:00:12] 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 in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood.  We are here to show you all the really good ways faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. 

Channing: We saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Doctrine and Covenants section 29 for the dates March 22nd through the 28th. We're so glad you're here today.

Elise: [00:00:58] Welcome back! In this week's episode, we were only given one section of the Doctrine and Covenants to focus on for the week and that's section 29. And this was a revelation given through Joseph Smith and the presence of six of the elders in New York in September of 1830. I know because it's only one chapter, we tried our best to pull as much as we could while still remaining true to the section. And so for this week, we're going to try and talk about how we can find God's tender love in the midst of an apocalypse, how we can focus on bringing together wholeness between things that are temporal and spiritual, and then finally, we'll talk about the erasure of Eve in the story of The Fall. If you've already read this section, you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, what is happening? People’s eyes are falling out of their eye sockets. There seems to be a lot of, like, end of days, talk that seems violent and really threatening.”

[00:01:55] But what Channing and I found interesting was that at the start of the section and also small bits woven-in throughout the section we can still hear and feel kind of the tender love of Jesus Christ and God, even in the middle of an apocalypse. Right. And it seems like to start out this section Jesus steps in and says, “Hang on, before we get into all of this gloom and doom, let me remind you who I am before we get started.”

[00:02:23] And so in verse one, we read, “That we should listen to the voice of Jesus, Jesus is our Redeemer. The Great I am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for all of our sins,” right? So there's Redeemer, a merciful God, one that cares about forgiveness and grace. Then in verse five, we read, “I am in your midst. I am your advocate and it is God's goodwill to give you the kingdom.”

[00:02:47] And I think what we're hearing is, or at least what I'm hearing is, I'm going to be with you through all of this, whatever comes in these next 40 or 50 verses, don't forget that I'm here with you and I'm also your advocate. I'm working on your behalf. I'm standing up with, and for you. I want to protect you and keep you safe and do everything that I can to give you the life that you want.

[00:03:12] And if we look at verse two, even, this is the really beautiful imagery of God gathering their people as a hen gathers her chicks. Right. And I think with this, there's only so much that she can do when the chicks don't stay by her side and under her wings. Right? It doesn't mean that she loves them any less, but it does mean that they have their own agency. And I think that will be an important piece to remember as we go throughout the rest of the section: that God is a God of gathering, a God that advocates, a God that is merciful and loving and tender, a God that wants to keep us under their wings. But I don't know, I don't, I don't necessarily want to say that their wings only stretch so far, but I do want to recognize that we have our agency, and God is always there to gather in and love and protect us but sometimes we make choices that might take us out from under the wing. What do you think?

Channing: [00:04:10] I've been thinking about this chapter a lot this week, just because it was so striking to me to see these really tender and loving verses paired with, like you said, these really violent and horrifying verses.

[00:04:25] And I was, like, “what, what is the deal here? What is going on?” And as I've been sitting with that and kind of just holding this understanding, it occurred to me that in my own self and my own personal experience, there is a side of me that will spare no expense for the people that I love. And what I mean is, like, if I see someone, like, taking advantage of someone that I care about, if I see someone being mean to someone that I care about, I am, like, arms up, swords out. Like, I will go to bat for them because I just can't stand by while people are hurting people that I love. And the other thing that I noticed as I was thinking about that is that I don't even care, like, at the end of it, I have a hard time feeling bad about standing up for people that I care about, even if it means that the other person, like, might've been hurt by my words, or might, like, have felt like I was being mean. Like, I really do have a hard time feeling bad about it because I can't stand to watch people hurt something that I care about. And so sometimes I wonder, especially in this section, if God sometimes feels the same way: that it's painful to watch someone that you love so much suffer at the hands of choices of another person. And I wonder if at some point God has to do something because she can't watch it happen any longer.

[00:06:05] She can't watch it happen again and again and again. And so even though I arrived to this chapter feeling, like, “oh God, that wasn't very nice to, like, make people's eyes fall out of their eye sockets and send the flies and the skin fall off their bones.” Like, “Jeez, chill out a little bit.” I think also with that kind of reading, I've been noticing that it might be privileged with me to expect that God is constantly nice.

[00:06:34] That's what I want God to be to me. I want God to be nice to me, but I don't want God to be nice to the people who hurt me or to the people who hurt people that I love. And even then, I don't necessarily want God to be mean to those people, but I do want God to be fair. I want God to be just. And we've talked about this idea before of, like, judgment and punishment and like, going to hell and apocalyptic in plenty of episodes before this. And even one that we recorded earlier this year, where we talked about the concept of hell maybe being an impermanent thing, a place for learning and growth and progression, not something that we’re like, eternally damned to, to be there forever.

[00:07:21] And I like that reading because what it does is it balances that mercy and that justice. It's mercy for those who have wronged, because it's not, like, a permanent place for them, but it's also justice for those who have been wronged. Because I truly believe that mercy for the privileged should not have to come out of the pockets of the oppressed.

[00:07:46] All of us have been promised mediation. We have been promised a fair exchange and perhaps this section is what that might look like for those who are truly unrepentant and caused so much harm and suffering in their wake. And one of the analogies that I thought about when I was thinking about this chapter, is kind of silly, but it actually, it worked for me. So have you ever been boating, Elise? Like, gone out on the lake? In a boat?

Elise: [00:08:13] Oh yeah. Yeah.

Channing: [00:08:14] So when you do that, if you ever go to a marina, which is, like, where you dock all the boats, when you enter the boundaries of the marina, they often have it, like, sectioned off with, like, buoys and a sign that says “no wake zone” and the no wake zone means that every boat that enters has to slow down enough that their engines don't cause big waves.

[00:08:37] And the reason for this is that it keeps the marina safe for people and for the other boats. And there was one time where my husband and I were out paddleboarding at a lake and the whole entire lake was a no wake zone. So boats were allowed there, but they had to go super, super slow because it's mostly a recreational lake for, like, personal watercraft.

[00:08:59] So once we were out in the lake and we've got our board and our paddle board, and we're in the middle of the water, huge, huge lake. And there's a big boat that is kind of following the no wake zone and then once it gets out into the open water, it just, like, pedal to the metal gas and just is, like, making waves everywhere for the whole entire lake. And for the boat, like, that's not a big deal, right? Like, these waves that it makes are pretty small, they're manageable. But for us on the paddle board, the waves were much bigger and so much stronger and they were pushing our boards and making it really difficult to do anything except ride the wave out. And when you're in the water, it's not like waves just disappear after a while. They just move everything. They carry everything closer to the shore. And so what ended up happening is that it took double our time and double our effort to get us back to our starting point because one person or one group of people decided that they were going to ignore the rules. 

[00:10:07] And I like this analogy because I think it's an easy way to understand that the effects of our actions are not isolated only to us. They make waves. Whether we like it or not, we are intricately connected to one another. When one person or group of people makes choices that harm their neighbor, we all experience a ripple effect. And so one way that I am understanding this chapter this week is that maybe this is God here saying, “Hey, I posted a “no wake zone” sign. I posted a commandment. I gave you rules. I asked you to follow your neighbor. This is what it means to be here on the lake safely. I made these rules to keep people safe.” And now, I imagine them talking to this boat. “Now that you can't follow the rules, you have to leave. You're welcome to come back when you decide you can follow the rules, but until then, the safety of everyone matters more than your joy ride.”

[00:11:06] And so I'm thinking about holding this section in that context, like, perhaps God has just reached the end of their rope and said, “okay, you've had chance after chance after chance after chance and everyone here deserves, like, joy and peace and happiness, and they can't find it because you're making big waves and their paddle boards can't make it back to shore. So there are multiple ways to understand the chapter. And this is just one, but it's working for me today.

Elise: [00:11:37] Yeah. I really appreciate that. And I think that's right. It's a good reminder that because the, I don't know, I think the body of this section kind of charts out the Plan of Salvation. And if we really think that this is a Plan of Salvation, that also means that there are multiple second and third and fourth and fifth and gazillion amount of chances for people to repent, reconcile, return to God and return to the stranger and their neighbor.

[00:12:04] And so I don't think that this... Even though the language in the body of section 29 is, like, end of days time, especially because a lot of the footnotes are pulling from more biblical references about the end of times, or, like, signs of the times… I think the loving part comes in the framing of this section saying, “Remember, I'm always with you. Remember I'm the one that is merciful and loving and forgiving. And knowing that there will be consequences, right? Like you have chance after chance after chance and an infinite amount of grace and forgiveness and mercy. And yet you don't get to just go on your joy ride at the cost or sacrifice of other people's well-being or safety or, like, attention.”

[00:12:53] As we move into that body of section 29, starting around verse 14 is where some of the more apocalyptic language comes in or, like, the end of the world language and imagery comes in. For example, in section 29 verse 17, it says, “God will take vengeance upon the wicked only if they don't repent, for the cup of their indignation is full and the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse them if they don't hear him.” So again, I think we see agency coming to play. Right? We have to, I don't know. I don't know how I feel about, “we have to accept Jesus’s atonement,” because I think grace is always already at play in our lives. So this verse is a little bit tricky to me, but I think it does echo some of the end of the times language, right?

[00:13:43] Vengeance coming upon the wicked we see in verse 21, this, the abominable church will be cast down by devouring fire. There's a hailstorm that sent forth to destroy all of the crops. There's weeping and wailing among everyone. And, I think I just want to spend a little bit of time talking about the apocalypse or the end of the world.

[00:14:07] And there's a really great feminist Christian theologian. Her name is Catherine Keller. And one thing that she writes that I think is really helpful and applicable when we come to end of days language, especially in section 29, is that she tries to teach us to understand the apocalypse as both an external set of circumstances, but also as an internal interpretation, pattern, or habit that we often find ourselves in as if we do the apocalypse. And she calls this “the apocalypse pattern.”

[00:14:45] And in her book “Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World” she writes that this habit can be seen as either/or mentality and morality; that things are on two totally separate poles. Like, everything is either all good or it's all evil. And it's this really stark dualistic thinking with the stubborn thought that goodness will triumph at the end and that we're always on the side that will be saved. Right? And so there's a bit of privilege that comes out here thinking that we are always going to be on the safe side. She continues to talk about: how can we stay awake to all of the elements of danger that we're experiencing and violence that we're experiencing in our lived world? And how can we continue to push back against this destruction without always expecting God or Jesus to come in and triumph over everything? She writes, “that is, how can we acknowledge the apocalyptic dimensions of the situation in which we find ourselves entrenched without either clinging to some millennial hope of steady progress, or then flipping disappointed back to pessimism. For within the U S context, there is a traditional tendency to get active, to get enraged, and then to give up, surrendering to the lull of the comforts and conveniences extracted from the tribulations of the rest of the planet. I do this too,” She writes. “We see ourselves or perhaps others as innocent victims and hope for ultimate vindication and are soon disillusioned with the prospects. We think that we must save the earth.

[00:16:22] Who can carry this? In other words, to the extent that we get uncritically hooked on apocalypse, not merely the situation, but the habit we contribute to it. We wish for messianic solutions and end up doing nothing, for we get locked into particularly apocalyptic either/or logic. If we can't save the world then to hell with it, either salvation or damnation.”

[00:16:48] And I know this is a a big passage to take in. So let me try and break down some of the things that I found the most striking. I think what Keller is talking about here is the apocalyptic pattern or habit that we find ourselves in, where we get enraged, or we get activated and try and step into a bit of activism because we recognize all of the dangers and the materialistic horrors and downfalls of this world.

[00:17:16] But then- this is my commentary- I think when things get too tough, when we take an actual look around us and we say, “there's no way I can change this. Right? The world is already going to the pooper.” We so quickly flop into the complete other opposite side, where before we were active and engaged, now we are apathetic.

[00:17:40] Now we are, “well, I don't know. There's nothing I can do. Only God can save us now.” I really love her line at the end: “If we can't save the world then to hell with it, either salvation or damnation.” And my question to this type of apocalyptic pattern is how do we show up in the in-between areas of good and evil or activism and stagnancy?

[00:18:05] How does the apocalypse pattern show up in our own efforts toward allyship or co-conspirator work and liberation, and then how does all of this connect to privilege?

Channing: [00:18:15] Something that I was thinking about while I was listening to you is a couple of years ago, when I first was exposed to ecofeminism and conservation and falling in love with the earth all over again, I went through this phase of feeling a tremendous personal responsibility to caretake the earth and I obviously still feel this way, but, looking back on those years I noticed how heavy that burden was for me personally, because I felt like it was all up to me. I felt like I was the only one recycling in my community. I felt like I was the only one who wasn't using plastic straws. I felt like I was the only one not eating meat or not eating dairy. I felt like the whole responsibility of saving the world fell on me personally. And when you're spending hours and hours a day sewing cloth bags to take to the bulk bins at Sprouts so that you don't have to use the plastic ones to contribute to the plastic problem and going above and beyond and trying to do everything- not that those efforts were wasted- but that to me after a couple of months and feeling like I was the only one in my community that was doing this, I felt so burnt out because that was unsustainable. That amount of effort by one person is unsustainable.

[00:19:55] And I totally can see this pattern and how it's played out in my life in specifically this area over the last couple of years where I will just go through this phase of, like, “I'm going to compost and create a backyard farm.” But that's really a lot of work. And I feel super overwhelmed by all the other things that I should be focusing on too.

[00:20:16] So I'm going to let that one go. And I do even notice too, in myself, this feeling of, like, “well, it's really not a personal problem. It's a systemic problem. And I am just one person. So what am I going to do to fix it?” Right? And, like, “I guess I'll just not care. It's way easier to not care. And, as disheartening and saddening as that is, I also think that it's incredibly human, so I can't feel too much shame about that, but I also am remembering too the allegory of the vineyard, the Lord in the vineyard. And that's one of my favorite episodes that we've recorded because I think it addresses specifically this. It talks about all of the different solutions that we can take and the partnerships that we can have when we're talking about saving the earth or social justice or advocacy or co-conspirator work, all of these things, I think fall under the umbrella of the allegory of the Lord in the vineyard. And if you don't remember the story, the Lord tries everything, everything to save the tree.

[00:21:30] And sometimes the Lord does get discouraged, but instead of just, like, throwing his hands up in the air… well, he does! In the story, the Lord, like, throws his hands up into the air and he's, like, “I've done everything I can do. This sucks. It didn't work. So we're just going to burn it all down and try again.”

[00:21:46] And it's actually the servant in that story who has partnered with the Lord over and over and over again that says, “Wait just a little longer, let's try one more thing. Give it just a little more time.” And the Lord's, like, “Okay.” And then it ends up working. And so I do think that we can pull from that story here, especially when we're looking at this section on apocalyptic, to remember that it's patience, determination, and a return to the thing that we love that ultimately preserves it. So that's some of the thoughts that I'm having as I'm listening to you. 

Elise: [00:22:22] Thank you for sharing that. I also think that… I appreciate Keller's thoughts here because it takes what seems to be an external problem, right? “Oh, this is not part of my time. This is only before the Second Coming that I need to be afraid.” And it turns it into a personal responsibility of recognizing how this apocalypse pattern shows up in ourselves. And I think the example you shared is spot-on exactly what she is talking about. And thinking about: how does this pattern show up in myself and also how does it connect to my privilege?

[00:22:59] I really do think it's a privilege for me as a cisgender heterosexual woman to feel like I can both, one, show up to the fight whenever I want. Right? Therefore being, basically. able to be willfully ignorant of the apocalypse that was happening during and before I showed up to the fight. And secondly, it's a privilege for me to be able to withdraw from the fight when it becomes too much.

[00:23:27] It's also a privilege and a damaging one at that, to be able to say, “nah, I can't do this anymore, so I'm not going to do anything until God comes.” And then just sit back in the comforts of our own home. And then finally, I also recognize it's a privilege for me to think that I am always on the side that will be saved and never on the side that will be burned to stubble and have our flesh fall off our bones and my eyes fall out of my socket. When I read these, I am never on that side in my own interpretation, but more realistically, I probably am on that side. And to be clear, where before I think I was advocating for a type of temperance or moderation to push back and to heal this all or nothing either/or dichotomy, I don't think that that's what we should be working toward with our social justice work as white women. I don't think we should be committed to moderation. But I do think that we can work together to heal the harmful privilege patterns of apocalyptic thinking by asking ourselves to show up consistently and sustainably so that we don't inevitably burn out and throw up our hands.

Channing: [00:24:38] Can I ask a question?

Elise: [00:24:39]  Sure. 

Channing: Because I, at least for me, this is something that I've been thinking about. Because, you know, as we talk about intersectionality and we all have different intersections of oppression and privilege, especially as white women, like for me personally, I am white. I am cis, I am heterosexual, I am able-bodied. I do not fall beneath the poverty line. And so I have many areas of privilege, but I also have mental illness and I also am a woman. And so I do have other identities that are also oppressed. And so how do I balance this commitment to sustainability and consistency while also recognizing that there are identities that I have that make it difficult for me to show up all of the time.

[00:25:37] Can we talk about that? Cause I think that that might be something that our listeners might also be struggling to find where they fit in that.

Elise: [00:25:48] Right? Yeah. That's a great question. I don't know. I don't for me because we're situated in the intersection doesn't mean that I can only focus on the parts of myself that I find that are oppressed and not the aspects of myself that are oppressive.

[00:26:04] And so, how do we do both? How do we… and I don't think that a push towards consistency and sustainability and showing up for other people should come at a sacrifice to or come as a detriment to ourselves. I don't know. And maybe this is where the vineyard story comes back into play, where we need other people around us to say, “Hey, I recognize that this situation is not safe or welcoming or sustainable for you right now. So let me go ahead and kind of, like, tap in for you while you retreat, care for yourself, get the help and care and consideration that you need while I continue to fight in your stead.” But perhaps it's a reciprocal relationship that then when our other sisters are suffering, can they trust and call on us to show up in the same ways that they have always showed up for us for us to show up for them?

Channing: [00:27:04] Right. And I think too, another element might be that we can't expect the more oppressed to support the more privileged. So then maybe my responsibility in that is to de-center myself and put my own experience, what I think that experience was like for my perspective, put that aside and step into- even if it's five minutes of stepping into it- and saying, I'm going to step into this space with them, look around from their eyes, listen to their voices and do what I can to help for as long as I can and not make an excuse.

[00:27:52] I am feeling like this is a question that I've been thinking about a lot, and there's no way I could be the only one. Because you're right. This is the thing: you're not wrong. And I do think that based on everything that you and I talk about, the privileged have the responsibility, the burden of responsibility for this stuff.

[00:28:18] And we definitely fall into almost all of the categories of privilege. But there are those sticky few that make it harder. And so where's the balance? I think that that's an inappropriate question, and it's not coming from a place of defensiveness of, like, “Oh, Elise, you're wrong. I can't do everything. So what about me?” It's: I really am feeling, like, what happens on the days where I really can't? And yet I still have all of these privileged identities that ask me to do it anyway. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Elise: [00:29:01] Yeah. I don't think there's a clear answer.

Channing: [00:29:08] That sucks.

Elise: [00:29:08] Yes, it sucks. But also that would be too easy if there was a clear answer that says, “okay, well, in these situations, you can take a step back and only focus on yourself because it's too sensitive to try and engage and support other people.”

[00:29:28] I think that's just not reflective of how any of these situations are. And so, because they're situated at the intersection, that also means that we are situated at the intersection and that means that we have to make choices around: How can I best show up? How can I best take care of myself? How can I de-center myself without causing further harm to others or me?

Channing: [00:29:50] Right. Well, and one thought, too, that I had was: if a white man said, “Sorry, I can't show up to the situation because I have mental illness.” I'd be, like, “What? That doesn't have anything to do with it. Why are you saying that?” And so I think in some way what you said about identifying too often with our oppressed identities might hinder how effective we could be if we were to just step out of those for a moment and try something and do something else.

[00:30:31] I think that there's value to that too, because you're absolutely right.

Elise: [00:30:35] Yeah. And I would also say. I recognize that part of you is triggered by it. So, like, can you show up? Part of you understands why I'm suffering right now, right? Can you- and I'm not asking you to put that part of yourself or put that part of your identity on hold- I'm saying, “oh, maybe can you take your experience with you and try and show up for me in a way that is informed by your past experience?” As opposed to thinking that I'm asking you to leave it behind. Because I'm not… If you are also triggered by this- Cool. Can you show up and support me because you kind of understand? Even though we will never fully understand, I'm not sure.

[00:31:21] Right.

Channing: [00:31:21] But we need you, like, you understand, I'm going to pull on whatever I can to get your support, because I need you more than you need to not know that this is happening. Like, I need you. And so, like, as I was listening, that's exactly what Jesus is asking us to do. And so I think you're right.

[00:31:43] It's privileged and maybe potentially unrepentant and unrighteous of us to say, “Oh, I'm just going to close that part off a little bit because it hurts.” And that's not what Jesus asks us to do. He says, “Open your heart wide open and move from that. Instead of closing it off and saying, “Oh, it's not my problem.”

[00:32:05] I think you're right. You're right.

Elise: [00:32:07] How can we show up at the intersection tapping into our oppression that helps us better understand, better care for, better identify or stand in solidarity with, and also use our privilege at the same time? Like, can these things work simultaneously with one another, as opposed to showing up at the intersection and saying, “Woah. I'm only going to focus on my oppression here, but I'm going to turn away from all the privilege that I might be able to use to help other people that are suffering because that's what I would want people to do for me.”

[00:32:39] Channing: Right. Yeah, exactly. I think you're spot on with that. Thanks for, like, entertaining- not entertaining- Thanks for helping me work through that question. Cause it's been on my mind a lot. 

Elise: [00:32:49] Yes. Well ,you're welcome. And in no way, do I think that we've even found the right answer? And I also know that this also speaks to some of our differences, like, you cherishing individual experience first.

[00:33:04] And, I think, me cherishing group experience first and so I think that sometimes those things can come into conflict and I also don't think that you're wrong. Like, there is a part of both of our arguments that are right and wrong.

[00:33:21] There's probably a part of my argument that is pretty dismissive and violent and saying, “Sorry this is upsetting to you. Still show up.” Right? That can be dismissive. That can be harmful. And I think what you're trying to say is: recognize how we are all tethered to one another and that someone's pain can trigger or tap into my pain and now everyone's in pain.

Channing: [00:33:50] Right. And so who's going to fix this if we're all in pain? Right. But yeah, that comes back to apocalyptic. Like, if we're all hurting together, then, can I bandage someone's foot while someone bandages my leg or something. I don't know. And so is there a point where we can all work together as a team using our skillset while also care-taking and caring for each other?

[00:34:19] And so, yeah, I think you're right, because an individual's part of a community, but a community is made up of individuals and so it all interplays together. And so again, I think just like you said, it comes down to a balance. I think it could be argued that there is no point that an individual turns into a community and a community turns into an individual. It's kind of a blurry line and we just have to use our discernment that is informed by a gospel of love and care for other, use our discernment that is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be able to figure out where that line is for us. And it will probably change tomorrow, and again the day after that.

Elise: [00:35:09] Yeah, and thinking and thinking that Jesus says, “Don't run faster than you are able to.”

[00:35:15] Again, back to the apocalyptic thinking. “Don't dive head-first into the most upsetting and most triggering parts of this experience only to come out more wounded and therefore completely unable to help.” Because I also don't think that that's what's being asked of us as well- to sacrifice all of ourself and then what? Then we have to have a four month long hermit retreat where we can't engage at all. And all of these questions that we're trying to grapple with. I think this is part of healing the apocalyptic pattern that we can often find ourselves in. Trying to think about: how can I show up for people that are similarly oppressed as I am, but also how can I use my privilege to show up for other differently marginalized groups?

[00:36:11] I think that gray area, that intersection, pushes back and tries to heal the all-or-nothing, either/or apocalypse pattern. Another section that we wanted to focus on comes in section 29, verses 31 through 35. The verses say, “For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal— First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work.” Then in verse 34, “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.”

Channing: [00:37:12] So again, we see in these verses the split between the temporal and the spiritual, and this is something that we have talked about and will continue to talk about on the podcast: this separation between body and spirit, and sometimes even body, mind, and spirit. And we can link to a couple of episodes in our show notes, where we've gone into some of the more explicit and detailed reasons why this often shows up in the text, but as a summary, the reason why the split happens comes down to three big topics, Greek philosophy, theology that's rooted in Greek philosophy, and patriarchy. So, we have a couple of questions that we just want to explore and discuss these verses about. So, my first question is: why the need for separation? If God created our bodies in God's image and then called them good- why the hierarchy? Why the rankings between spirit and body. If the body of Christ, the figurative and the literal body of Christ does not have better or worst parts, then why would ours?

[00:38:29] So. Maybe we could talk about that. What do you think of Elise?

Elise: [00:38:32] My own thoughts? I think that there is a longstanding tradition of spiritual things being more valued and often more masculine than what are seen as temporal things, which are less-than, more feminine, right? Temporal is often seen as fallen or less-than, and spiritual things make it seem like things about religion and angels and forgiveness and expansion and eternity. Whereas temporal things are about earth life, which is lesser and physical resources and carnality and blood and sweat and grime. And I think if we think about the story of Eve and Adam in the garden, I think the larger Christian tradition understands that story to be, like, “Wow, what a shame, what a shame that Eve partook of the fruit and had to get us all kicked out of the garden to suffer here on earth.”

[00:39:32] Right? Like, that's in a lot of other Christian traditions, that's the first sin is having partaken of the fruit and then having to suffer on earth. And I think for the LDS tradition, our understanding of us partaking of the fruit is a bit different, but not totally separated from the larger tradition that says sensuality, fleshiness, especially women's physical bodies are a threat to spirituality. There's that verse: “the natural man is an enemy to God.” As if our carnality, as if our lived, everyday, earthly experience is a threat to our higher beings are spiritual beings.

Channing: [00:40:19] Yeah. And I mean, if you do any light studying, which is all I have done of Greek philosophy, philosophers believed that women were not actually humans, that they were poor substitutes for men. And some schools of thought believed that until you reincarnate into a man, you have not reached your fullest expression of self. And so in that way, women are a threat to men because they ask men to step out of their head and into their body and experience life here on earth. And I also think too, as I was listening to you talk about the very well-known attitude toward Eve and getting us all kicked out of the garden of Eden- I don't understand it! Because if we celebrate the creation of the earth in all of its grandeur and glory and beauty, and then all of a sudden we're mad that we got kicked out of the heavenly garden of Eden? What? Either this earth is great or it's not! And we all live here and we all find things that are great about this world. And so I guess that is a personal sticking point for me. Come on everybody, stop doing this to yourself. It just hurts you in the end.

Elise: [00:41:44] Right. And I think maybe we can combine one of our other thoughts we were going to talk about: The erasure of Eve in this entire section. Like when we get to the part of the plan of salvation that talks about the fall Eve is not mentioned. She's not mentioned at all in these scriptures. It says the Adam partook of the fruit and Adam was the one that fell.

[00:42:07] And even in the verses that I just read it talks about “our father Adam” and all of Adam's children. And so I don't know if there's a connection that we can make between femininity, carnality, temporality and Eve not being here. Because I think what these verses are actually trying to say is, at least a loving, generous interpretation would say that the temporal and the spiritual are both… that's what makes us whole. I don't think we can have any type of spiritual experience without our bodies. And so instead of the split between spiritual and temporal, I wonder if these verses are trying to bring them together into a whole that looks like holy or divinity. And if that's the case, and even if it's not the case, Eve should definitely be included here because she is at the center of this story.

[00:43:04] And we wouldn't even have the chance to write scriptures, to interpret scriptures, to think about religion or spirituality, if it were not for Eve's choice to bring us to this beautiful earth and to place us in bodies to experience what is called spirituality. There are no spiritual experience, at least from my understanding without the temporal. I think it's through and because of the temporal, the carnal, the physical body, and touch that we are able to experience divinity.

Channing: [00:43:34] Right. And going hand in hand with that the other thing that I also think is important to think about is that, you know, one of the things that we love about Jesus Christ is that Jesus didn't come in like the highest interpretation of what we understand humans to be.

[00:43:54] We always say he is the king of Kings, but he was not born a prince. He wasn't born into royalty. He was not privileged in most of the ways that we understand privilege to operate now and back in those times. He was born in a stable, surrounded by a bunch of farm animals, to a poor woman and her husband who was a carpenter and they were refugees and he was a martyr and he hung out with lepers and prostitutes.

[00:44:33] Like, if there was anyone who embodied embodiment, it was Jesus Christ. Because he showed up in the dirtiest, poorest, hardest ways to be a human that we understand that he could. Right. And he held the two together, right? A highly spiritual person who also did all of these things. And so the split between spiritual and temporal will never make sense to me because in our most foundational, influential and radical examples of what it means to live the gospel- Mother Eve, Jesus Christ, Abish from the Book of Mormon, she was a slave, all of the Marys- we see the connection, the wholeness between these two parts so much that they are not two parts. They are just one whole. And so, yeah, obviously this is something that Elise and I feel super strongly about and we're glad that we are able to talk about it here and now. 

Elise:[00:45:53] There was a podcast that I think, Channing, you had shown me. It was a long time ago, but it's the “Show Up” podcast with Natalie Norton. And Natalie did an interview with Ashmae Hoiland who is an author and we really enjoy following her and reading her work on Instagram. Her handle is @BirdsOfAshmae, and the episode title is “Body as Friend.” They have this really fantastic conversation Treating and understanding our body as our friend. What would that look like? And at the very end of the episode, Ashmae Hoiland reads a poem that's titled “Thank You Letter”. And I just wanted to read the last few lines of this poem because it talks about just the love and importance of our temporal carnal body.

[00:46:40] “ is it that I believed my spirit would easily leave at death? Convinced to betray such loyalty without first kissing the soft skin on the inside of my arm. Without running fingers along the skin of my thigh. Without pressing my palms to the ocean of my stomach. Without thanking my round hips profusely, one last hand cupped full of my own breast. Who’s to say that when I die my spirit won’t fight like mad, coil like an angry snake, puff out big like a puffer fish, stick out quills, arch the back, insist that my body come with. My spirit reaching down, clawing the air, grasping all the way to heaven.”

And I love this. I love the whole poem and the podcast, but especially these last few lines, because this is an important part for how I understand my relationship with my body.

[00:47:35] And I recognize that this is both a blessing and a privilege to feel this way about my body. But I would be nothing without her. And so thinking about what happens after my earth life, I can't imagine it because it will come at a huge cost to me if I have to leave my body behind.

[00:47:54] And I appreciate this imagery from Ashmae Hoiland saying that my spirit wants to be with my body. And in that way, I feel like these scriptures talk about how everything is spiritual or perhaps everything that is whole is divine and holy. I think that's what this poem gets at: that there is an intimate, important connection between what we consider to be spirit and body and in fact, they're not separate, but they are one.

Channing:  I'm just, like, kind of tearing up at that. Cause that's so beautiful. And I think I'm feeling sad too, because some of the rhetoric that we have around the resurrection, which should be like the capstone of this integration, this wholeness, right? Is that somehow our bodies are going to be perfected and essentially cleansed of all of its “body-ness”, cleansed of all of its carnality and sanitized and, you know, I was taught our scars will be taken away and we won't have disease anymore. And you know, we definitely could have a conversation here about ableism for sure but I also think, you know, for this love for our body- one of the things that I love about my body is a scar on my arm that I got once at church. And one of the things that I love about my body is the way that my right eye kind of crinkles a little bit smaller than my left when I smile. And there are things that I love, love, love about this physical being that I get to move and experience this life with always; my constant friend. To lose her, I think, would hurt in ways that our theology doesn't really ever allow conversation for. And so I'm really so grateful that we got to talk about this today because I think her hidden underneath these verses hidden underneath this split between the temporal and spiritual we can actually find a really deep reverence and love for our bodies. So thank you for sharing that.

Elise: [00:50:24] Friends. Thank you so much for joining us on another episode of The Faithful Feminist podcast, where we got to spend the entire episode in one section, section 29, trying to think about finding God's tender love and apocalypse, recognizing apocalyptic patterns in our own selves and in our own activism.

[00:50:42] And then talking about the importance of a theology that encapsulates wholeness, a connection and an intimate closeness between spirit and body or temporal things and spiritual things. And also asking some questions about where is Eve in this whole story?

Channing: [00:51:00] We've really enjoyed walking through this journey of a section and going through the highs and the lows and sharing those all with you. We're grateful that you've walked alongside us and listened with us as we've explored all that section 29 has to offer. We love you so much and we can't wait to talk to you soon. We'll see you later. Bye!

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