Birth & Death: From Relief Society to Baptism (Doctrine & Covenants 125-128)

Monday, November 1, 2021


Full transcript from the wonderful Heather B!

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 sections 125 through 128 for the dates November 1st through the 7th. We’re so glad you're here.

Elise: [00:00:58] Yes. Welcome back everyone. I don't know about you all. Maybe if you've already read the sections or even if you haven't, but I really liked the sections this week. There were four of them and the last two of which are, epistles or letters from Joseph Smith to the saints at Nauvoo because due to the persecution that Joseph Smith was facing, he felt that it was best for him to separate himself and kind of leave the saints for a bit to try and keep himself and theirselves safe. And so the last two letters, we really hear a lot of, like, Joseph Smith's, voice and personality and kind of tenderness coming through. And in these final two letters, they contain directions on baptisms for the dead. And our conversation is going to focus on a couple of things today.

[00:01:41] First, we'll start by talking about the formation of the Relief Society, because it was included at the bottom of last week's manual, but there was almost no talk of it. And it wasn't even in the proper date range for last week; It happens in these sections or at least in the date range of these sections.

[00:01:59] So we're going to spend some time talking about the formation of the Relief Society. Then we'll talk about baptisms for the dead, because that's really where the emphasis of these sections are. And then lastly, we'll end talking about family history work and genealogy.

Channing: [00:02:14] So if the formation of the Relief Society is something that is really fascinating to you, and you want to study up a little bit more about it, some good resources to explore for this time- it happened around March 17th, 1842- The first is the first chapter in the “Daughters in my Kingdom” book that was published by the church and the second is an article that was written in response or review of this book by Rachel Hunt Steam-Blake on the Exponent II blog. And that is titled “Daughters in My Kingdom: “Something Better”: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.”

[00:02:49] So if you want to study up a little bit more on that, we recommend those with highest, highest praise. So if you'll remember from last week's episode, Sarah Kimball and Margaret Cook wanted to sew clothing, bedding, and general supplies for the workmen and their families who were working to build and construct the temple. Then, about a dozen of these neighboring sisters met at Sarah's home on the following Thursday. These women decided to establish a constitution and bylaws and Eliza R Snow accepted the responsibility to write them. After this was completed, they asked Joseph Smith to review them. Joseph Smith said that “they were the best he had ever seen.”

[00:03:35] He's quoted to say, “but this is not what you want. Tell the sisters they're offering is accepted of the Lord and he has something better for them than a written constitution. I invite them all to meet with me and a few of the brethren next Thursday afternoon and I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the Priesthood.”

[00:03:55] The following week, 20 women, Joseph Smith, and two members of the quorum of the 12 of apostles met together. Joseph Smith told the sisters that they were to “encourage the brethren to good works and to look to the wants of the poor, to search after objects of charity and in administering to their wants and to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community.”

Elise: [00:04:19] After Joseph Smith set the stage for this meeting, he then “proposed that the sisters elect a presiding officer to preside over them. And then let that presiding officer choose two counselors to assist in the duties of her office, that he would ordain them to preside over the society and let them preside just as the presidency presides over the church and if they need his instruction, ask him and he will give it from time to time.” That's a quote from the minute book that Eliza R Snow was keeping. And then directly following. Joseph Smith added, “let this presidency serve as a constitution. All their decisions be considered law and acted upon as such. As well as if any officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the institution, let them be appointed and set apart just as the deacons and teachers are among us.” Again, that's a nice passage from the minute book.

Channing: [00:05:11] To be clear, instead of acting on behalf of the women, Joseph Smith actually gave them their own keys of the priesthood to the Nauvoo Relief Society. Joseph Smith said, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God and the society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time. This is the beginning of better days to the society.”

Elise: [00:05:36] And so it's really clear here that there's this effort to establish and organize the Relief Society in this very, very similar manner to the priesthood. But, I don't know, when I was reading through the “Daughters in our Kingdom” chapter, I kept going back and forth, like, being pulled to feeling like, “oh my gosh, Joseph Smith and the 12 apostles are kind of overstepping the Relief Society and trying to make them into something that they might not want.”

[00:06:02] But then on the other hand, I was also feeling like, “okay, wait, is there something kind of revolutionary happening here? If Joseph Smith is passing on the priesthood, or passing on priesthood power and letting the Relief Society use it and make their own laws and preside over one another?” So that was just a little bit of tension that came up.

Channing: [00:06:22] I do think it's interesting too though, to that point that yes, that language of like, “oh, well, the only framework that we have to understand leadership in this community is through deacons and teachers, which are offices of the priesthood.” And so in my mind, I'm like, “oh, he's trying, like, Joseph Smith might be trying to illuminate or equate power in the only language that he has available at the time.” But I do agree with you that there might be something revolutionary, especially where he's like, he basically says, like, “This society functions on its own, like, you've got your own leadership, your own counselors. And if you need advice, I'm happy to give it to you occasionally. But you, like, you're not under me.” I didn't get the sense, at least from those minute quotes, that he, like, really was like, saying, “okay, now you're going to come to the school of the prophets. And I'm going to write letters to the Relief Society in the Doctrine and Covenants,” like everything else we've seen in the Doctrine and Covenants so far.

[00:07:26] So at least for me, like, I really do get the sense that perhaps something revolutionary is happening here or at least was intended to happen here.

Elise: [00:07:37] Yeah, I mean, that's a really generous and hopeful reading and I think we'll read a passage soon, but Emma talks about how this work feels “extraordinary.” And so I think we're using words like revolutionary, but I do think that there's a sense of something extraordinary happening in the organization of the Relief Society at this time.

[00:07:54] And so Emma Smith was actually elected and chosen to be the president of the Relief Society. And she chose Sarah M. Cleveland, and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as her counsellors. And then the sisters decided to call themselves The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo and Emma declared, “We are going to do something extraordinary. We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.” Then as they met together for their very first Relief Society meeting, this is when Eliza R Snow was called as the secretary. And she kept really diligent, detailed notes in her own meeting book that we have access to.

Channing: [00:08:29] Daughters in My Kingdom gives a really great background and a really good insight into what the Female Relief Society did during their time.

[00:08:39] This is a quote from there. It says, “from the heart of these sisters flowed a great desire to engage in good works. They did so with wool and wagons, soap and sewing, food and finery, time and talents. Through their new society, the women of the church acted according to their natural sympathies to build up the Lord's church.

[00:08:59] Daughters in my Kingdom continues on to say, “Relief Society sisters embraced charitable service as a foundational principle of their organization. Each week as the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo met, individual sisters reported on people in need. A treasurer accepted donations, and the donations were dispersed to relieve the needy. Donations including money, supplies, talents, and time. Women gave articles of clothing and bedding. They offered flax wool and yarn that could be made into clothing. They also donated food, like apples, onions, flowers, sugar, bread, and butter.

Elise: [00:09:38] I would also really encourage people to read through this first chapter of Daughters in our Kingdom, because there's a really lovely section where Eliza R Snow had kept such good minutes during the meetings that she basically writes out, Miss so-and-so can offer this, or Miss so-and-so saw this person in need, and you really get a sense of the kind of communal unified nature of the Relief Society, where everyone's talents and time is recognized and valued, and everyone's voice has a space at the table. And I think this is really encouraging. And for me, I don't know, growing up in the church, Relief Society mostly just looked and felt like fancy doilies and, like, people who got together, did lots of sewing projects, at least that's, you know, when I was younger, that's kind of all that I knew about it. And they did, like, Christmas activities and things like that. And so I really appreciated the amount of time that I was able to spend researching the formation of the early Relief Society for the Saints.

[00:10:40] And I hope that as I continue to study that I will remember the origins of the Relief Society. And then I'll try and embrace some of their values and embrace some of the good charitable work that these women were doing. And one of the questions that I was just thinking about is what's one way that we might be able to celebrate the creation or the formation of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo? Some of the things I was thinking of, I know that, I think in many wards they have a yearly party that probably happens on March 17th, but it's not March 17th and so you can just celebrate now while you're doing your Come Follow Me study if you want to. But some of the things I was thinking about is that you could grab some yarn and kind of string up pictures of the ancient Relief Society women and presidency.

[00:11:23] You could learn and study more about them and kind of what they brought to the table and to the presidency. You could go through and read the actual Relief Society minute notes from Eliza R Snow to again hear their voices in their own words. I think you could even call some of the women in your ward or in your neighborhood or in your community and tell them that they're extraordinary. I really want to use that word this week.

Channing: [00:11:46] Honestly, in my ward there was this beautiful woman. I won't name her but every time I taught a lesson she would send me a hand painted handwritten card that was like, “thanks so much for your lesson. I learned so much. I really appreciate you. I think you're amazing.” And I'm like, “oh my gosh. No one does that anymore.”

[00:12:10] And it honestly made me feel really, really special. And I had another woman call me when I got released from my Gospel Doctrine calling. And she was like, “oh, I was so bummed to hear that you got released because I really enjoyed all of your lessons. Thank you for all of the time and talent that you put into it.”

[00:12:27] And so I think that even though this might feel, maybe, uncomfortable, especially for women in our generation and maybe people who feel, like, less inclined to social activities. It is still a very powerful and meaningful thing. So I really love that idea, but I know I'm, like, looking at this list and I'm like, “you have to read the whole thing because it's amazing.”

Elise: [00:12:53] I think other things that we both had brainstormed about is inviting women over and eating together! Like eating apples and, not apples and onions like they say in this written little passage, but just being able to share food with people that you love, or being able to share food and nourish one another, both emotionally and physically, and maybe even spiritually, I think could be a really lovely way to honor the formation of the Relief Society.

[00:13:16] And then finally, you might try and journal about what you wish your Relief Society looked like today. And then after you journal about everything you wish for it, how can you participate in it to make it so.

Channing: [00:13:27] I really love all of those ideas for the celebration of the formation of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, because I think it brings it, not only, like, an honor of the people who came before and instituted this organization, but also a recognition that because of their actions, we have an opportunity to do some of the same extraordinary service and acts in our own community today. And I feel like that leads us really nicely into the really big focus of these sections, which is honestly about ancestors and baptisms for the dead. The Come Follow Me manual starts this entire section for these chapters with a really beautiful story about a woman that we've talked about, episodes before.

[00:14:16] If you remember the episode that we did about Vienna Jaques you'll remember that Jane Neyman was also a big character in the first baptism for the dead, but unfortunately, which kind of rubs me a little bit wrong, the Come Follow Me manual doesn't share her whole story. What it does share, it says, “In August 1840, a grieving Jane Neyman listened to the prophet Joseph speak at the funeral of his friend, Seymour Brunson. Jane's own teenage son, Cyrus, had also recently passed away.

[00:14:51] Adding to her grief was the fact that Cyrus had never been baptized and Jane worried what this would mean for his eternal soul. Joseph knew how she felt as he had wondered the same thing about his beloved brother, Alvin, who also died before being baptized. So the prophet decided to share with Jane and everyone else present at the funeral, what the Lord had revealed to him about those who had died without receiving the ordinances of the gospel and what we can do to help them.”

[00:15:22] But what the story leaves out is that Jane, the very Jane mentioned in this story, was the first person to participate in a recorded baptism for the dead, with another woman, Vienna Jaques, as the first person to witness. And this feels really significant because part of me, I honestly feel really frustrated with this because I'm like, the reason why I'm so frustrated about it is not necessarily, like, I can't even offer the grace that they probably didn't know because even in this Come Follow Me manual, if you go scroll all the way to the bottom or look through the entire manual, they have Voices of the Restoration, which we really usually love and these ones are great too, but it's obvious that the creators of the manual have done their homework. And so it would be surprising to me if they didn't know this story about Jane and Vienna being the first people to participate in the baptism. And so part of me has this conflict of, like, why aren't their stories included? We have these beautifully intricate and detailed letters from other women in the voices of the restoration, but we don't have the details of Jane and Vienna’s story. And so I'm like, “Why? Why is that?” I have my own feelings on that. Like why do we honor women who are more passive and are willing… ugh. I can't even say that because it's… I just feel really frustrated that in the same timeframe when the Relief Society was being formed, not only do we not get a whole lot about the Relief Society being formed in the manual or in the Doctrine and Covenants itself, but we also don't get a big, we also don't get any details in the church published materials about women acting of their own accord.

[00:17:21] About women who are intentional and acting and making changes and moving things within their own power and their own autonomy and their own authority. That's never mentioned in the church published materials. We only get that in supplemental materials that you would have to dig for. And I'm very frustrated about that.

Elise: [00:17:42] Yeah, no, I think that that's really... Yeah, I think that that's spot on. And I feel like there's the sense that the church is kind of, like, trying to tidy up and kind of brush some stray pieces under the rug to make it seem like, “yes, baptisms for the dead is so important and sure, Jane Neyman was a part of it, and sure all of these other women were a part of it, but we only want to showcase their story that looks like they are a part of it in the direct and exact way that Joseph Smith had outlined and in the direct and exact way that we currently, or in the past, have practiced baptisms for the dead.”

[00:18:15] And so there's not any space for the kind of natural and organic unfolding of how the practice of baptisms for the dead came to be, which also means that these women's stories get pushed aside and they get almost rewritten because things are left out.

Channing: [00:18:30] Well, and they don't fit the narrative, like, and the thing is, like, it wasn't Joseph Smith that was like, “only men can do this.” Like, that... Vienna Jaques and Jean Neyman's baptism was recorded. It was accepted.

Elise: [00:18:44] Yeah. And I don't understand why it's not even, yeah, it was recorded. There was a man there witnessing and recording it. So I don't...

Channing: and baptizing.

Elise: [00:18:54] yeah, probably baptizing. So I don't really understand why it wasn’t counted. I don't know.

Channing: [00:19:00] Um, probably because only until recently women weren’t allowed, we weren't allowed to act as witnesses for baptisms, and now they are only allowed to act for witnesses to baptisms. It is very frustrating to me. Yeah. Just like you said, to have these women's stories kind of erased, pushed aside, or rewritten so that they fit or do not fit into the current narrative that we tell about how these ordinances came into being.

[00:19:28] And especially, I do take issue with the Voices of the Restoration that were included because most of them are passive. Most of them say, like, “Isn't this an amazing restoration?” And indeed it is. But why are those voices prioritized over the women who actually acted upon it? I just feel really saddened and angry about that, but it's fine. I can be angry feminist.

Elise: [00:19:57] That's fine. We also have space for that. The Faithful Angry Feminist Podcast.

[00:20:04] And so I think that like Channing had said we did another episode, It was episode 31 titled “Words of Women and Wisdom” about Vienna Jaques and Jane Neyman. But I think we just want to, because the Come Follow Me manual only gives a portion of their story. We would, like, to share the rest of their story, or at least the rest of their story as we know it.

[00:20:25] So we already know that Vienna Jaques served as the first official witness for the first baptism for the dead. And the two passages that I want to share come from an article titled “When a Woman Served as an Official Witness for Mormonism’s First Baptism for the Dead” by Benjamin Park. The author writes, “It was due to another woman, however, that the baptism took place at all. In many ways, Jane Neyman had a lot in common with Jaques. She was a woman of faith who persevered through immense suffering. Her husband, William, died within months of their arrival to Nauvoo in 1840, following their son Cyrus who had died several years previous.

[00:21:01] Death seemed ubiquitous in the Mormon city that summer. What the saints called swamp fever took the lives of many new settlers. Funerals, and burials were nearly a weekly occurrence.” At one of these funerals, Jane heard Joseph Smith introduced this vicarious baptism for the dead and she wanted to make it happen.

[00:21:20] So, “several weeks later on September 12th, she requested that a family friend, Harvey Olmsted, baptize her on behalf of her deceased son and that another fellow saint, her friend Vienna Jaques, act as a witness to this baptism. So they marched down to the Mississippi river to perform the ritual. In order to properly observe the baptism and hear what the ceremony would be, Jaques rode her horse into the water. Olmsted was tasked to come up with proper wording and he merely appropriated the words used for the faith’s traditional baptism. Thus the first recorded baptism was a ground up affair.” And so we see here, well, now as I'm reading it, I'm like, “oh, I wonder if it also isn't shared in the come follow me manual or doesn't count because it wasn't in the baptismal font that they were building in the temple...

Channing: [00:22:09] Nu-uh. That excuse doesn't even work because the Doctrine and Covenants from last week explicitly says that you have X amount of time to build this baptismal font and in the meantime, all of the baptisms that you perform during this time are acceptable unto me. And then once the font is finished, then all baptisms need to be performed in the font to be acceptable. So that one doesn't even work.

Elise: [00:22:37] So, honestly, who knows, but anytime I think about this story, I'm just so impressed and, like, inspired by both of these women. I'm inspired by Jane who says, “great. You know what? I'm going to make this ritual happen. And I don't really need any one’s permission or anyone's, like, formulated step-by-step plan. I'm going to call in my two friends. And this work is so important to me to do this ancestral work for my dead son that I'm going to do it on my own.” And I don't think that she was doing it as kind of, like, a rogue mom or something, like, she was doing it as a mother who cared for her to care deeply for her son. And so I think when she heard Joseph Smith's words, she was elated. I mean, like, she must have just been so full of hope in a way that maybe she hadn't been full of hope in the past. And then to see her I'm calling her her best friend, which those are my words, not hers, but, and then to call on your friend, Vienna, Jaques who shows up on her horse and who is so dedicated to witnessing this experience with you, that she rides her horse into the river to watch and to witness. I mean, this story will always just remind me of friendship and of the power of women coming together and making things happen.

Channing: [00:23:49] Amen. And so on the cusp or on the coattails of this discussion about the first recorded baptisms for the dead, the Come Follow Me manual outlines “The salvation of my ancestors is essential to my salvation.” And this is, like, a section heading in the outline. In section 128 verses 15 through 18, it says, “These are principles in relation to the dead. And the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers- that they without us cannot be made perfect- neither can we, without our dead be made perfect... It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse, unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children... for we, without them, cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.”

Oh, that's such a good verse.

Elise: [00:24:52] Yeah. I really appreciate, honestly, this really bold and declarative reminder that the living and the dead, the here and the hereafter, truly do need each other. Like, we need each other. And I think that sometimes I can get really caught up in the presentness of my experience and thinking that, and, like, really having a passion for understanding that we need each other, like, the living need the living for our earthly life right now.

[00:25:19] But I think one of the things that I've often looked over, or maybe not placed as much emphasis on because of my privilege is to think that those who came before us and those who are going to come after us… there's just been a kind of a break in my ancestral link. And this section really reminded me that we hang on, we need each other.

[00:25:38] And honestly, needing each other almost feels, like, too weak of a word because we don't just, like, need each other because we love each other. And because we're, like, blood family, but we need each other for things like unity, like, a welded union, like, Joseph Smith says here, we need each other for the possibility of perfection and the necessity of salvation.

[00:25:59] So we, and our ancestors save one another. We perfect each other. We bind each other through time and all eternity. And I was really appreciative of that wonderful reminder this week.

Channing: [00:26:12] That's really powerful. And I think too, some things that have been coming up for me, at least about baptisms for the dead.

[00:26:22] Is this idea or this concept of ancestral veneration, and I'm, like, super into ancient, like, spirituality, like, prehistoric religions. And what I found in my research, especially in my own heritage in Northern European ancestry is that ancestral veneration was a huge, like absolutely essential part, of their spiritual worship.

[00:26:50] And so I've found that to be fascinating and also, like, what an incredible link to know that my own ancestors, like, my own people who were indigenous to Sweden and Germany and Ireland and Scotland and Switzerland. They too had this really deep practice of maintaining that welded link, of recognizing that our relationship to our ancestors deeply affects us in the here and the now.

[00:27:29] And, like, those two things are so very intimately tied together. And so I am personally very excited about this ancestral veneration within the LDS tradition, because I think it carries on. You know, it's not perfect. I definitely could offer some critiques on it, but in a large way, I do see a really beautiful attempt here to create or continue that link or that reciprocal relationship between the- yeah,I love what you said- the here and the hereafter. So I love that. And I also know those ancestral veneratative practices are not unique only to LDS tradition or only to Northern European ancestry. That ancestral veneration aspect exists in so many indigenous cultures around the world that the pattern of similarity is almost unignorable.

Elise: [00:28:29] And these are just, like, a small portion of our experiences with family history work, but there are really so many fantastic family historians and educators who are paving the way in this work. And two of the people that come to mind for Channing and I, are Michelle Franzoni Thorley, @FloraFamiliar on Instagram, and Mia Jensen on Instagram as @ThePolynesianGenealogist.

[00:28:51] We wanted to just spend some time sharing some of their content because they are fantastic educators. And I feel like it's such a blessing to be able to learn from them on social media, in these both small and incredibly powerful and impactful ways. So these are two posts that I pulled from Michelle pretty recently that I kind of combined together to showcase two of the relevant aspects for this episode.

[00:29:16] But on Instagram, she has a post where she writes, “Our ancestors truly live in us. We are a combination of all the people who have come before. This year for Dia de Los Muertos, I invite you to connect to your family, living and dead. Know your story, understand the traumas and illnesses. Find the joy. Use this time for reflection and healing.

[00:29:39] Death does not have to stop our relationships with our beloved family. If we don't want it to. October is family history month and is the perfect time to prepare for DIA de Los Muertos on November 1st and 2nd.” which is going to be Sunday and Monday, when the podcast comes out. And another one of her posts she writes, quote, family history is about turning your heart to the people you love. It's about the love and connection to the people who came before us. Family history is about hashtag genealogical consciousness, where we get to decide what is passed on to the next generation. We are the living connection to the past and the future. This is family history.”

[00:30:20] Yeah. I love that last line about, we are the living connection to the past and the future. Again, just kind of bringing up again, just bringing to mind this image of links, like, linking our ancestors together. And we have an important role to play in that just as our ancestors after and before us do too.

[00:30:39] I also really appreciated this post because it reminds us of Dia de Los Muertos, which originates from ancient pre-Hispanic civilizations, like, 3000 years ago. And it's a holiday meant to remember and commemorate the lives of the deceased. And actually yesterday after work, I was able to attend this art installation experience that celebrated Dia de Los Muertos in Scottsdale.

[00:31:02] And it featured all of these different artists from Phoenix and LA and Mexico City and Oaxaca and the installation showcase these Ofrendas, or these altars, these really big, like, handpainted skulls and different handmade panels, tributing musical icons. And so it was a really lovely way to learn more about the holiday in a way that appreciates and celebrates without appropriating. And then to be able to go to that experience and then pair it up with the chapters we were reading for this week, felt, like, a really lovely underline to the importance of genealogical work.

[00:31:35] Channing: Mia, @ThePolynesianGenealogist on Instagram, also has some really beautiful posts that celebrates the connection between us and our ancestors and the land.

[00:31:47] And one of her posts near writes, “Did you know that one of the first records I ever found as a family history student at BYU was this land record. It is a record of my ancestor, Makahaoahano who bought land in Laie. It is the same piece of land that I grew up on. When I finally got to pay a visit to this sacred place I felt a jolt of lightning when my toes touched the ground generations of my family lived upon. I know that land is sacred to my people. The land gave my ancestors a place to tend and cultivate life, from the animals they raised to the plants they grew, to the children they bore. As much as the land gave life to my family it also gave death a space to lay the bones of my ancestors. Land is our connection to the past.” And this is such a beautiful post for Mia. And I especially. I'm, like, totally jiving with it because this connection between our ancestors and the land both give us so much bounty, so much wisdom, so much experience and joy.

[00:32:53] That connection really is very tangible, especially in her posts. And I celebrate that she had this experience to connect both with the land and with her ancestry. That is so powerful. And what a potent experience to be able to embody in this life. That's so cool.

And so when we understand baptisms for the dead as maybe this practice of ancestral veneration within an LDS context, I think it doesn't surprise me that collectively we are pulled toward thinking about those who came before us, even though our focus on ancestors largely relies on baptism for the dead and restoring these covenants that are seen as essential to salvation. I also think that within that, there's this really, kind of, golden thread of respect for these people who came before us and a kind of level of reverence and reliance on them for wisdom and guidance and approval.

[00:33:57] And I mean, I have lots of anecdotal experiences and there are also lots of other, like, anecdotal stories of really grand and beautiful visitations from ancestors within an LDS context on dreams, blessings, all of these incredible experiences that people have had with their forebearers. And I do think that that reverence and wisdom aspect is really strong within our tradition.

[00:34:27] I also think that an ancestral focus within an LDS context informs our recognition that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that the things that have happened before us are things and people that mattered. That their stories and experiences are important and shape our present. Again, baptism for the dead is an investment in our ancestors. It's that classic turning of the heart to those who came before. And whatever language it's wrapped in for us, the acknowledgement that those who came before are important and belong and have a place and relevance in our everyday lives is such a beautiful and wonderful part that I feel, and this is, like, gospel of Channing, like, my own personal opinion that I feel links us to a tradition of ancestral veneration that happened long before, you know, the modern or latter day restoration of the gospel.

Elise: [00:35:25] Yeah, thank you for sharing all of that. And I think there's this excitement in this kind of pleasure and celebration that I can hear in your voice. And I think it's echoed really nicely towards the end of section 128. If we look to verses 19 through 25, Joseph Smith is talking about the practice for baptism for the dead.

[00:35:44] And he's basically saying, like, “Now, what do we hear? What do we hear?” And verse 19 says, “We hear voices of gladness and mercy and truth.” And then in verse 22, “We hear the voices of the dead.” As they quote, “speak forth, anthems of eternal praise to the king Emmanuel who hath ordained before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison, for the prisoners shall go free.”

[00:36:08] And in verse 23, “And again, I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality and eternal life.” And also in these verses Joseph Smith names, like, lots of angels or prophets or people from the scriptures as if people that have passed on that's their voices that we're hearing calling out to us. And so I think maybe just to end the episode, may we learn to hear and listen better to the voices of our ancestors, the voices who call to us, the voices that sing us to sleep and encourage us. May we hear the voices of our ancestors who are unwell and in pain, maybe hear their cries and sit with them. But also may they hear ours and sit with us too.

Channing: [00:36:57] Friends, thanks so much for joining us for this episode, talking about the formation of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. And the first recorded baptism for the dead with Jane Neyman and Vienna Jaques. And finally talking about the importance and beauty of ancestral veneration, and our hearts turning toward all of those who came before us. We love you so, so much, and we hope that you get a chance to explore these chapters and see what they inspire in you this week. We'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Powered by Blogger.