Stories of Atonement, Body vs Spirit Showdown, and Milk & Honey (2 Nephi 6-10)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Welcome back friends! Thanks for joining us for the second episode. We'll be discussing 2 Nephi 6-10 for the weeks February 10-16, 2020. This is a pretty doctrinally-heavy episode (thanks Isaiah) so we encourage listening with open minds and ears. We'll be discussing some ideas for handling harmful verses in the text, critical feminist theory about the Atonement, and sharing thoughts on body and spirit. Please check out the resources linked below for further study and reference!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation by Elizabeth Fiorenza. Read about it here.
  • Atonement Theology and the Feminist Critique by Katie M. Deaver. Read it here.
  • Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us. Read about it here.
  • She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth Johnson. Read about it here.
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Read about it here.
  • The Birth of Pleasure by Carol Gilligan. Read about it here.
  • The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. Read about it here.
  • The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Terryl and Fiona Givens. Read about it here.
  • Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother by Rachel Hunt-Steenblik and Ashley Mae Hoiland. Read about it here.

Verses mentioned in this episode:

  • 2 Nephi 10: 3&6 (Antisemitism)
  • 2 Nephi 6:8 (Eating flesh and drinking blood)
  • 2 Nephi 8: 17-25 (Israel personified as a woman)
  • 2 Nephi 9: 30-38 (Wo verses)
  • 2 Nephi 9: 13-14 (Resurrection)
  • 2 Nephi 9: 39, 10: 34 (Spirit vs flesh)
  • Luke 11:2 (Lord's Prayer)
  • 2 Nephi 7:1-2 (God seeks us even still)
  • 2 Nephi 8: 12 (God of Comfort)
  • 2 Nephi 9:50 (Milk without money)

Transcribed by Maddie Daetwyler of @lightenprint

C: Hi, I'm Channing.

E: And I'm Elise. 

C: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast. We saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Second Nephi chapter 6 through 10 for the dates February 10th through 16th, 2020. We're so glad you're here today.

E: So in today's chapters, we get to hear from both Jacob and Isaiah, which during the first read through can feel a bit overwhelming, but we found that by slowing down the chapters and offering a close reading, this has really helped us pull out three major themes that we want to talk about today.

E: The first is, what do we do with hurtful verses that have violent imagery? The second is, we're going to have a really beautiful discussion about the atonement and the resurrection. And then finally, how can we remember that God and Jesus are here to love, comfort, and protect us? 

C: Hmm, beautiful. These chapters are really fascinating. Just as kind of an overview, so we can orient ourselves in the text, chapter 6 through 10 are Jacob, Nephi’s younger brother, giving a discourse to the Nephites. And what he does is he quotes a lot of Isaiah. And then he makes his own interpretation of Isaiah, and then quotes Isaiah again. So mostly this is a huge… if we think about the Book of Mormon being a cornerstone or centerpiece of our religion, we can come to these chapters and they contain a lot of our very foundational and fundamental doctrines. These are really important chapters. 

E: And along with all of the really doctrinally sound and really great things we've hear in these chapters, we also are encountering some really hurtful verses that have a lot of dark language and violent imagery. And first and foremost, we see a lot of antisemitism, which is hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or a racial group.

C: Right. And I think looking through the chapter in chapter 10, two verses that stick out to us particularly that addresses this is verse 3, which talks about the crucifixion of Christ and it quotes, “For thus, there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” And then verse 6, Jacob goes on to say, “Wherefore, because of their iniquities (he's talking about the Jews) destructions famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them. And they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations.” And so I think it's important to note that in the traditional interpretation of this scripture that I've heard, I've sat in many classrooms over my short lifetime that have used these verses to justify antisemitism, and so we just want to bring awareness to that because it's 100% not okay. 

E: Right. And this should remind you of our conversation we had in last week's episode about responsible readership, and that we do as readers have a responsibility to care for not only the text, but to care for the people who are included in the text or referred to in the text. And this is a great example of one way that we might do so. Another verse that shows up with some dark and hurtful imagery is chapter 6, verse 18, where it talks about… so it does say that God will contend with those who contend with us, or contend with God's people. But then in verse 18, it talks about God feeding the flesh of the oppressor to the oppressor and having the oppressor drink their own blood as type of punishment. And so it is really dark imagery and it can be, especially on the first read through, it can feel really jarring. 

C: Oh, absolutely. Because when I first read that verse, I was like, that's disgusting. And then another, not to keep going and saying this chapter is full of a ton of really hurtful verses, but also if we move to chapter 8, verses 17 through 25 is quoting a lot of Isaiah. And these verses are specifically talking about Israel, and what God is doing to Israel because of their disobedience and unrighteousness. But what I find especially interesting about these verses is that Israel is personified as a woman. And this happens throughout scripture, like Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, everywhere. If we talk about the bridegroom and the bride, Christ is the bridegroom and Israel is the bride. So Israel is often personified as a woman, but what was especially alarming about these verses is the treatment of this personified woman. So if we look at these verses in chapter 8, verses 17 through 25, there's imagery that says Israel's called to awaken from her stupor after drinking from the cup of God's fury, her punishment was deserved because of her sins, no one stepped in to help her, and “Thou hast laid thy body as the ground and as a street to them that went over.” So essentially people are literally walking all over her. And so, because of the imagery as a woman, these are kind of disturbing because it does look a little bit like violence toward women. So now that we've observed and looked at some of the hurtful verses in this chapter, I think there are a couple of different ways that we can look at these verses or interpret these verses to kind of help it to assist, to kind of help us decide what do we want to do with these. 

E: Right. Just like Channing said, we're not really just rattling off a list of, “Watch out. These are all really hurtful.” We’re providing some type of caution to say, “Hey, be aware of these verses.” And when you come upon them, we have maybe three ideas of something that you could do with them. And these ideas come from Elizabeth. Schussler Fiorenza, she's a feminist theologian, and she wrote the book Wisdom Ways. So from her ideas, the first thing that you could do with scripture’s hurtful verses is that you could stay within the tradition or system and see how the interpretations or tellings of this scripture have been redirected or revised or updated. The second thing you could do is that you could read it in a historical fashion, and thereby making it a text of the past that really has no authority for today. Or the third thing that you could do is that you could confront it, and you could allow it to face your anger and all of our outrage and make it into an instrument for transformation. So taking it from something that is hurtful and using your anger to fuel it into a creative power to transform understandings of these verses. And one of the ways we wanted to kind of walk through that is by using those antisemitic verses that show up in chapter 10. If we run it through each of these three ways to look at it, number one, if we need to stay within the tradition and see what readings have been updated or revised, just like Channing said, she sat in numerous classes where the Jewish people on the Jewish religion has kind of been slandered. So I don't really know if it's safe to say that our tradition has updated or revised any of the readings of these verses. The second thing that we could do is that we could make it a text of the past that and say, “Look, this is just something that was happening when Jacob and his people were around. And so thereby it has no ground or authority over how we interact with understand or love Jewish people.” And I think that helps us for today, but what it doesn't do is it doesn't really liberate the people who are implicated in the texts, like Jacob and his people, because there's still antisemitic verses that Jacob is using. 

C: I was going to say going along with that, the issue with reading this particular text in a historical fashion is that this is coming from Isaiah, which is mostly a book of prophecy. And so it's difficult to make a book of prophecy stay in history because, especially in the LDS tradition, we believe that prophecy does apply to the future. And so who's to say when the prophecy ends? And so I think a lot of times time we look for evidence of the prophecy coming true. And I think in this particular case, we need to hold back and caution ourselves against doing that. And so I think 1) traditional interpretations and 2) reading it in historical fashion, in this particular case, or in cases of oppression, we need to examine them in a way where we can be fully accountable for the ways that our particular belief system contributes to hurtful readings of the text. 

E: Yes, I agree. And so I think that that leaves us with the third option, which is to confront it and allow it to face our anger and our outrage and allow us to say really openly and explicitly, “Hey, this is incredibly hurtful and absolutely wrong, and we're not going to abide by it.” And then use these verses to challenge traditions and systems of oppression, and rework them, or at least allow them to remind us that this is not the way that we want to move forward reading these verses.

C: I really like what you said, Elise, about that. And to rework these verses in a way that doesn't contribute to the pain of others. What I find interesting and fascinating about sacred texts is that in one block of scripture -- so in this one block of four chapters, you can get a wide variety of themes and ideas. And I think not everything in these chapters are hurtful or violent. And that kind of gives us the opportunity to look at the text and say, “Okay, here is all of the bad stuff. Is there anything in this set of scriptures that allows us a way forward? What is the next step after the violence?” One of the verses that really stuck out to me was in chapter 8, verse 7, and Jacob says something that tipped me off. He says, “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart I have written my law.” And that reminded me of another verse in Hebrews, it says, “I will put my laws into their mind and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they will be to me a people.” And the thing that tipped me off to this is that these verses occur both in Isaiah and in Hebrews. On a chronological timeline, these verses both appear after the resurrection of Christ. And so, I think we can say this verse and perhaps a lot of the themes in these chapters is speaking both to the genealogical and the adopted house of Israel. If that's true, then it opens up the availability of God's love to all who desire it instead of limiting to just the “covenant people.” And I think that that brings us into the infinite atonement. 

E: Yes. And chapter 9 is a giant chapter filled with a pretty in-depth discussion of about the atonement, which really builds up our theology about the Plan of Salvation. But what we wanted to talk about today were three different theories of the atonement, specifically from a critical feminist standpoint. And there's a really nice article that we'll be working from by Katie M. Dever, and we'll link it in the show notes, but she gives a great summary of each of these theories of atonement. And essentially what a theory of atonement is is just trying to make sense of, or tell a story about what happened, when Jesus died on the cross. What's going on in that event? And the first theory is called the Substitutionary or Satisfaction Theory. And this really says that Jesus takes on the guilt and punishment of humanity because we're so sinful, and because we're so sinful, Jesus steps in and takes the punishment that we “deserve,” and He becomes our substitute and He pays the debts that we owe for our sins, so said differently, instead of giving us what we deserve, God offers Jesus as a sacrifice to pay our debt. And save us from this eternal punishment of death. And one of the major feminist critiques here is that it's really individual focused and it doesn't often recognize larger systems of evil like sexism or racism or classism. And even more than that, it says that suffering and obedience are salvific events, right? Maybe you've heard people say, “Well, this is just my cross to bear.” This understanding of the atonement is difficult because it holds up Jesus's suffering as something that saves. And so if we are trying to become like Jesus, it's not a hard jump to make, to say, “Okay, well, if I want to be saved or redeemed, then my suffering is justified.” 

C: This reminds me of a book I was actually reading last night. It's called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. And it talks about exactly this, and it talks about exactly encouraging people to stay in their own suffering and participate in their own oppression in the name of becoming like Jesus, because their suffering purifies them or makes them more like Christ. And the premise of the book is that this approach to the atonement is unhelpful. And I think even in an LDS theology, we actually kind of believe that. If you think about the verse Adam fell, that men might be and men are that they might have joy, I don't really think that suffering equates to joy or at least continued and unliberated suffering, where it never stops. There's never an end. So yeah, I think this is fascinating and I think it's something worth exploring and thinking about. What in our culture, even still, today, even though we may or may not believe this, do we say, “Oh, all of these things work together for our good. Just be a righteous woman and everything's going to work out.”

E: Yeah. Or the “everything happens for a reason,” AKA, even your suffering. There's a reason for it. And even though we might learn things from suffering, this theory of the atonement says that because we suffer, that is the thing that allows us to be redeemed. We can only be redeemed or saved if we suffer. And that's a really violent way to approach the atonement. 

E: The second theory that comes up is the moral influence theory. And this theory focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus instead of on the suffering and death. This really says that because God loves the world and God loves us so much, God wouldn't hold anything back from us. And so God even sends God's Son in order to, not just to save us, but to be like us and be in a relationship with us and to experience this mortal life. You'll often hear it called, and I think Jacob calls it in these verses, the condescension of God, where God is lowering or emptying God's self into Jesus Christ. And so this theory encourages us to live like Jesus and it focuses on imitating His life and His ministry in order to bring justice in our own world. And many feminist theologians really align with this theory of the atonement because it focuses on life and becoming and flourishing instead of suffering and death.

E: The third theory that comes up is the Christus Victor Theory. And this is really rooted in the triumph of good over evil. And so resurrection is the promise that evil does not have the last word. So for all of us Jesus's suffering and death, the atonement is God's great triumph over sin, death, and the devil. Some praise for this theory is that it considers all aspects of Jesus's life, His ministry, and His death, and the resurrection. And it still does address the realities of evil and oppression within our world. But the critique that comes from this theory is that it still places a large emphasis on individual sinfulness and the necessity of suffering as a people of faith.

E: Another interpretation of Jesus on the cross comes from a woman, she's a Roman Catholic feminist theologian named Elizabeth Johnson. In her book She Who Is, she talks about the atonement as this emptying of God's self, because God loves us, because God favors humanity, and God has compassion and service and wants to empower humanity through Jesus Christ. And I just wanted to read a passage from the text. It says, “In a way different from the techniques of dominating violence, the victory is won, not by the sword of the warrior, God, but by the awesome power of compassionate love in and through solidarity with those who suffer.” And so she's kind of reappropriating or retelling what's happening with Jesus on the cross. And she sees it as empowering and compassionate, and a way that we can understand God's love for us. We thought it would be important and also an interesting exercise to explore these different theories or stories of the atonement, because all throughout the scriptures, and even within LDS theology, we see moments or reflections or pieces of each of these theories. And so by being exposed to the different theories, we might have a better opportunity to choose or read more about which ones we find liberating, or we find are really productive to our wellbeing. 

C: This chapter is so beautiful. I love chapter 9 for the way that it talks about the atonement, and it really spends a lot of time on it. But the last half of the chapter, well, we got to talk about it. There is a huge list, it's about 7 verses, and I think a lot of us will be familiar with it, but just as a refresher, it's a lot of Wo unto the deaf that will not hear for, they shall perish, wo unto the murderer for he shall die, wo unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell. And I think as I'm reading these verses in partnership with the atonement, it's kind of a little bit of a whiplash. Whoa, we were just talking about all the beautiful things that happened because of the atonement. But then Jacob goes right into, “Beware, wo unto him that has the law given,” because if you don't follow it, all of these bad things are going to happen. And for me personally, that makes me quite afraid because I'm like, “Well, Jacob just said, Jesus loves us and Jesus saves all. But if I step out of line, all of these bad things are gonna happen to me.” But as I kind of went through and re-read these verses, I started wondering if maybe they didn't apply to some future date. If I told a lie yesterday, does it mean that someday I'm going to go to hell, or does it mean, maybe these verses aren’t outlining a future consequence. Maybe they're outlining a consequence that applies to us right in the moment. So to kind of demonstrate what I'm talking about, I really like verse 31 in this context. It says, “Wo unto the deaf that will not here for, they shall perish.” And if we think about present, right now, present moment consequences, if we don't listen to the spirit, if we don't listen to that inner guide, we will perish. Because that inner voice provides us with the wisdom that we need to make choices that are the best for us, make choices that are compassionate, and loving toward others. And so, yeah, this is even based in psychological research and study. There’s a woman named Clarissa Pinkola Estes who is a big advocate for women listening to their inner voice, their inner wisdom. And she makes a point that says, “The longer that you continue to ignore that inner voice, the less it's going to talk to you.” And this inner voice is the wellspring of creativity, of passion, of joy and connection. And the less we pay attention to it, the more depression we’ll see, the more anxiety we'll have, and then the less connection that we’ll feel with others. And that certainly sounds like perishing to me. And then I think also, if we think about Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell… I have told lies in my life that I felt like I've had to follow through right to the very end. And I just always have to remember in the back of my mind, okay, I told that lie, so I have to make up another lie to back up the lie that I told before. And, eventually, it is a little bit hellish trying to keep up with all of the lies that I ended up telling. And so, I think applying these verses to right now, instead of a future doom and gloom punishment, can 1) help us liken the scriptures to us, and 2) offer a more helpful reading of something that would traditionally be as really scary. 

E: Along those same lines, it's important to also remember that maybe the best reading or a different reading that we could do of these verses is to apply them first to ourselves, instead of applying them to someone else. So instead of using these verses as a checklist to condemn others, we can use these as a reminder, just like Channing was saying, to look inward and say, “Where can I be more aligned with God? How can I turn myself more towards God's love and will for me instead of turning towards others in a really judgmental and shameful approach towards them?”

C: Absolutely. And I think going along with that, I really liked what you said, returning to God. That really is what atonement is all about, is reorienting ourselves with the will and love of God. And so ultimately because of the atonement, we can let go of a lot of these consequences and they're not going to stay with us forever because of God's love. Because of the atonement. 

E: The word “returning” is so striking to me because of the prefix re, which means again and again and again, and always new. And so this is an image that I just adore about the atonement is that if we think of the atonement as a returning to God, not only is it a return or a coming home, but it's a turning toward God again and again. And knowing or finding comfort in the fact that God's arm is always extended to us, God is always willing to welcome us in God's arms. In last week's episode, we talked about God encircling us in the arms of God's love, and to me that is a striking and powerful image of the atonement, that it's always offered to us again and again.

C: I love that, like full stop, and you know what else it reminds me of? It totally reminds me of the birth of pleasure and psyche because – okay, so what we're talking about, there is a book titled The Birth of Pleasure, written by a woman named Carol Gilligan. And I have to tell you guys, Elise gave me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago, and it changed my life, and it talks about relationship being a process of coming together or falling in love and then breaking apart. And then coming back together again. And I think if we can apply this understanding of relationship being a continual process of together, apart, together again, then I think it only adds to the awe and the power of God's love, that God can continue to be present and wait for us to come back. God expects us to fall apart. God expects us to break relationship, but God is loving, and God is patient. And so, God also waits for us to make the choice, and use our agency, to come back together. And so, this imagery of returning is just so powerful and so loving. I can't get over it. So good. And then also going along with that, the idea of coming together, falling apart, and coming back together again, I think really ties well into resurrection. And resurrection is a theme that comes up a lot in this chapter, especially in chapter 9. If we look at verses 12 and 13, for example, some of the imagery that comes up is, “Paradise and hell must deliver up their dead, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to another. The spirit and the body is restored to itself again.” And so this covers resurrection, but something that I'm noticing is kind of a recurring theme that ties into a little bit of what we talked about last week. These verses talk about the necessity of spirits and bodies, that were once together on earth, falling apart during death, and then coming back together again for resurrection, but later on in both chapter 9 and chapter 10 there verses that seem to be at odds with the necessity of spirit and body being one. I'm specifically referring to chapter 9 verse 39, “And remember to be carnally minded is death. And to be spiritually minded is life eternal.” And then again, in chapter 10, verse 24, it says, “Reconcile yourselves to the will of God and not to the will of the devil and the flesh.” And so one of the questions that I had reading these chapters is, why is there much a passionate passage about the necessity of body and spirit being one that is almost later completely deconstructed in these verses. So why the separation? Why does this keep happening? And this reminded me of a quote from a book called The dance of the Dissident Daughter, written by Sue Monk Kidd, and I just want to go ahead and read that for you. She says, “For thousands of years, the feminine has been associated with the body. Flesh, sensuality, earth, and nature. While the masculine has been associated with spirit, heaven, and transcendence over nature. In Christianity, there is a deeply embedded separation between spirit and nature. This includes centuries of denial and hatred for the body, with its cravings, instincts, and sexuality. In my early twenties, I went to church one Sunday and sat in the back row with a woman who was holding a newborn baby. Halfway through the sermon, the baby got hungry. So the woman discreetly unbuttoned her dress and nursed the child. An usher noticed, this came over, and asked the woman to leave. He was the picture of quiet indignance. He told her she could find a restroom down the hall. Women, with their incessant menstruation, conception, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation have been too visceral for patriarchal religion. In biblical times, women involved in these womanly conditions were considered unclean, and were separated from men. They had to go through purifications before being allowed near men, or things religious. Since birth and mensies were considered dirty, women were in constant need of being spiritualized and sanitized. The attitude that sprang up was that women could not be both holy and sexual. Theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether sums it up when she says that Christianity became ‘a body fleeing, world-negating spirituality, that projects upon the female all of its abhorrence, hostility, and fear of the bodily powers from which it has arisen and from which it wishes to be independent.’” So with this information, how do we make sense of this admonition for separation of the body and of the spirit? This has been something that, for me personally, I've really struggled with. I have always felt at odds with my body. As a young woman, I was told to repress my sexual desires and urges that started to come up when I hit puberty. I've always been told, I'm 28, I am still always told that I need to dress modestly, that my body is tempting or seductive to men so I need to make sure to cover it. And another really hurtful message that I've received, particularly because of my upbringing in the church, is that my body is not my own, that my body is a gift from God and I better take care of it. I better follow the word of wisdom. I better not get a second piercing. I better not get a tattoo, because this body isn't really mine. It's a gift on loan and that makes it really difficult to feel like my experience here on earth is not my own, and that my agency, sure, it was given to me, but I better use it right. And all in all, my body doesn't belong to me. It's a tool. It's a thing that men have used in my life for their own pleasure, for their own objectification. And that I've been taught is a vessel for bearing children. And overall, the rhetoric that I've experienced is that my body is not my own. And there is a set list of rules that I have to follow as a woman to be considered even acceptable in my inequal place in society. And so this concept has been so hurtful for me, and has landed me in many a therapist's office to try and work this through. But I came across this quote from a book called The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens. And I fell in love with it because of the way that they approach this idea of separation of the body and spirit. They say, “We therefore should not see the body and spirit in opposition. The fact that Christ chose children as a model for moral goodness means socialization, not incarnation, is the source of our ills. When Paul condemned the natural man, he specifically associated with acquired, not innate, worldliness. Human wisdom, and the spirit of the world, are its hallmarks, he said, not the census and passions. Our task is to school our appetites, not suppress them. To make them work in concert with a will that disciplines the spirit, as much as the flesh. Along the way, we discipline and honor the body, even as we aspire to perfect the soul, finding in the end that the body and spirit, fitly framed together, do provide the deepest joy.”

E: That is such a stunning passage. And what I love about it is that it pushes back on all of that shameful rhetoric, all of the shameful stories that you were just sharing with us about the body versus the spirit as if it's an ultimate showdown, body versus spirit, who's going to conquer and win. This passage says that they're actually not in opposition. They're not fighting against one another. They actually work together, and they fit together, and they belong together, because the body and the spirit are what allows us to step into our full, authentic selves and flourish and move toward well-being. 

C: I agree. And going along with that in verse 13, Jacob says, “Oh, how great the plan of our God, the spirit and the body is restored to itself again.” And I think this verse in particular demonstrates that the plan all along is for the spirit and the body to live in harmony with one another, to be one, to be unified, and that is resurrection. I think resurrection can be viewed twofold. One, the liberation and the beauty and the mercy of God to take our mortal bodies, with all of their sickness, with their illness, their deformities, their pain, their everything that can be wrapped up into mortality, and make it new again and make it whole, and I think also this first demonstrates that, in a way, maybe we don't have to wait for the resurrection to feel whole. Maybe we don't have to wait for the resurrection at some future date to have permission to finally be present in the body, to finally have the pleasure of being present in the body, that can maybe happen right now. And that's a really radical way of looking at the resurrection, but I also think not, because in both ways, waiting for the future, literal resurrection and also applying the principle of resurrection to our lives right now still relies on the mercy and the goodness of God. In this way, God does make all things work together for good. And God loves us so much that these gifts are given to us, and we don't have to wait for the future to have them right now.

E: I agree with you. And I think what we're seeing is a recurring theme of not waiting for some future time, but doing everything that we can to be at one in our spirits and our bodies, turn to God, be at one with others and with God, here and now. And it reminds me of the verse that talks about Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And one way to read this first is to think about the kingdom not only as something in the future to come, but how can we live or build or be in the kingdom here and now, with God, with our neighbors, with our bodies, all of these things. 

C: Hmm. That's good. We know that this has kind of been a doctrinally heavy episode. So we'd like to go ahead and end on an uplifting and joyful question from the Come Follow Me manual. They ask, what comfort does the Savior offer those who seek Him? 

E: I wanted to start in chapter 7, verses 1 and 2. And this is where Isaiah is speaking pretty sarcastically. But Isaiah, taking on the voice of the Lord is saying basically, what are you talking about? I've been here the whole time. In verse 2 it says, “When I came, there was no man. When I called, yea, there was none to answer.” And so even though the Come Follow Me question says, what comfort does the Savior offer those who seek him, even though in these verses, we're actually seeing people who are not seeking out God, it's really reassuring and comforting to me to know that God has been there the whole time. And actually, that God is taking active moves to seek for us, and to look for us, and to find us, and to try and be in relationship with us again and again. And then if we go to chapter 8, the first few times I read these chapters, particularly chapter 8, I wasn't struck by it. I didn't find anything that was really meaningful on the first read, but after reading it by the third or fourth time, I was so overwhelmed with love for chapter 8. Because again, it says that God is always here for us. God is here to comfort, sustain, protect us, and to fight for us. In chapter 8, verse 12, it reads, “I am the one that comforts you.” In verse 16, “Behold thou art, my people.” And what a loving image that God offers us here, that God chooses to take us as God's people, that God chooses to love us and to protect us, and will always be at one with us. And finally, in verses 24 and 25, we see the encouraging God, the God that says, “Awake, you are so good. You have so much potential. I want to see you rise up from the shameful dust and take your place on the throne of glory because you are that good.” And I think this is a place that God praises us, and God is really adamant about God's love for us.

C: When you were reading those verses, I started get a little teary-eyed. They're just so powerful and good.

E: I agree. 

C: One of the verses that really stuck out to me was in chapter 9, verse 50, and Jacob is saying, “Come, my brethren, and everyone that thirsted come ye to the waters. And he that hath no money, come buy and eat. Yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” And I just love the imagery that God's love is available to all. And this verse also reminded me of one of my favorite books of poetry. It's titled Mother's Milk, and it's written by Rachel Hunt Steenblick, and it's poems in search of Heavenly Mother. And this verse reminded me of a poem that I have bookmarked, it's titled Earth Mother.

“Her breath is earthy, soft and sweet.
Her body warm and nourishing.
She offers fruit and herbs in their season,
milk and honey without money, and without price.”

E: I get the goosebumps when you read that poem, and thinking about that poem paired with verse 50 in chapter 9, we see an active God calling to us, beckoning to us. And wanting to share God's plenty with us, wanting to share milk and honey and glory and plenty with us. God seeks us out, invites us in, and welcomes us.

E: So thanks for listening to our conversation about how to work through hurtful verses. We had a beautiful discussion about the atonement and the resurrection. And then we ended off by trying to remember all of the ways that God and Jesus love us, comfort us, and seek us out. 

C: Those are some of our ideas. But we want to know, what are yours? Find us on Instagram @TheFaithfulFeminists and leave us a comment or send us an email or DM. We'd love to hear what approaches you had while reading these chapters of the Come Follow Me manual. So on that note, have a great week, and we’ll see you soon.

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