Heavenly Mother (2 Nephi 31-33)

Monday, March 2, 2020

Friends, we are so excited to share this episode with you. This is a super close reading of the text, using only two verses to spark a really vibrant discussion about Heavenly Mother. We hope as you listen you are able to discover new insight and understanding about Heavenly Mother and all the beautiful ways She shows up for you. Accompanying this episode will be a follow up blog post with some of the other verses that we felt were meaningful for this week's readings. That will be posted later this week, and we hope the additional readings will allow for a rich and filling conversation around the chapters for Come Follow Me. Thanks for joining us today!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

A Thoughtful Faith Podcast: Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother with Rachel Hunt Steenblik
In Their Image by Caitlin Connolly
"A Mother There": A Survey of Historical Teachings About Mother in Heaven
Gospel Topic Essay: Mother In Heaven
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Read more about it here.
God Is Love LDS Hymn
What Disney's "Coco" Taught Me About Heavenly Mother
Heavenly Mother Resource Guide

Scriptures mentioned in this episode:

2 Nephi 31: 7
2 Nephi 31: 8

Music in this episode:

Poddington Bear "Sunset Stroll Into The Wood"
Chris Zabriskie "Everybody's Got Problems That Aren't Mine"

Transcribed by Maddie Daetwyler of @lightenprint

C: Hi, I’m Channing.

E: And I’m Elise.

C: And this, is the Faithful Feminist podcast. We saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Second Nephi chapters 31 through 33 for March 2nd through March 9th. We're so glad you're here with us today.

E: Welcome back. This is our fifth episode, and we're so grateful to have you here with us because today we're going to have a pretty robust discussion, but it only covers one chapter. It only covers chapter 31. So we're going to start by talking about the importance of Jesus taking on the baptismal covenant, and then we'll spend the rest of the episode talking about Heavenly Mother, and sharing examples and stories and awesome information about Heavenly Mother. So in order to discuss chapters 32 and 33, Channing has an awesome idea, and we're going to turn those chapters and all of our notes and discussion comments into a blog post. And once we publish that blog post we'll go ahead and share it to our Instagram and we invite you to participate in the conversation that way. 

C: We're really excited to share this episode today and pretty bummed that, I mean, Elise and I could talk for hours about the scriptures, but for the sake of time today, like she said, we'll just be focusing really on only two verses. That's all we're talking about here in the podcast today, but there's so much, and I think this is just a really good example of doing a close reading of the scriptures and finding so much richness and so much goodness just in a small portion. As we get a little further into chapter 31, we get a lot of really beautiful imagery about Christ and His earthly ministry. One of the verses that I'd like to focus on is the verse 7. This is talking about Christ's baptism by John the Baptist. The verse reads, “Know ye not that [Christ] was Holy? But… he showeth that according to the flesh, He humbled himself before the Father and witnesseth unto the Father, that He would be obedient in keeping His commandments.” The traditional reading of this verse is that Christ chose to be baptized to show an example, both for people who are present at the time of His ministry and for people who would later on read His account. But I kind of feel like when I read this verse, I understood it a little differently than I had before. And sure, Jesus got baptized to be an example, but I also think Christ was really smart and pretty well versed in the scriptures and also literally the son of God. And so I think it's pretty safe to assume that He had a full, whole understanding of what the covenant of baptism really meant and really looked like. And so part of me feels like maybe He didn't do this just to be a good example, but maybe this was Him saying, “No, I am going to take this covenant upon me.” And, I just think there's something really beautiful about the idea that the Lord is going to fulfill His own covenant. And I also think, could it be any other way? Could God or Christ ask us to do something that they weren't first willing to do themselves? Christ also took upon Himself that covenant, and He lived it the rest of His days on earth. And He fulfilled that covenant to the very end, not just of His mortal life, but will fulfill that covenant to the very end of eternity. I think it's just a really hopeful and maybe a deeper understanding of Christ's choice to be baptized, that even He is not above making a covenant. 

E: And I think it helps to get us away from just the role model example. Jesus Christ, instead of just saying, “Okay, follow my example, copy what I'm doing,” it shows that Jesus is actually choosing to, like you said, take the covenant on for Himself. And it's a pretty big covenant. It requires empathy and emotional intelligence and an openness to other people. And Jesus was able to enact that throughout His whole life and continuing on. And I think that the covenant plays a pretty important role in His becoming.

C: In the same account of Christ's baptism, we also get a verse that Elise and I personally feel involves Heavenly Mother. So that verse is found in chapter 31, verse 8, and it reads “Wherefore after [Christ] was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove.” And what kind of tipped us off to this understanding is a podcast that Elise and I both had listened to. It's called A Thoughtful Faith podcast and Rachel Hunt-Steenblik, who's the author of Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother, was a guest on that podcast episode. And in the episode, she talked about all of the different symbolism that's contained in the scriptures and other holy texts that specifically refers to Heavenly Mother. Included in those symbols and the imagery are mountains, trees, oil, the tree of life, wind and spirit, and birds -- specifically doves. And so, whenever I see a dove appear in scripture, I always kind of feel like, “Oh, there is Heavenly Mother.” And so, we just wanted to spend some time since we're a couple of episodes in talking about Heavenly Mother, because I think she's right there in the text. 

E: We had a conversation about this when we were prepping for the episode because we were thinking that we think a lot of our listeners are passionate about building a relationship with Heavenly Mother, and trying to learn more about Her and just know who She is. And so we thought, okay, this is really exciting stuff, because it can be scary to talk about Heavenly Mother openly in church sometimes because of different authority and patriarchal pressure, but it shows up right here in the scriptures. And so this is a great way to start having these conversations in church by saying, “Look, I'm not just pulling something out of thin air. Here She is. Here's a symbol of Heavenly Mother and let's talk about it. What can we learn from Her?” One of the questions we thought of asking each other and asking the listeners and then perhaps you could ask it to your audience as you're teaching a lesson is, how does Heavenly Mother appear to you?

C: So for me, I feel like Heavenly Mother… it took me a little while to give myself permission to recognize Her. Honestly, that was a huge roadblock for me. Part of me was like, Oh my gosh, is Heavenly Mother allowed to talk to me? I don't know. Am I allowed to talk back to Her? I don't know. And so it took me a long time to become comfortable with the idea of recognizing and knowing and becoming familiar with the ways that Heavenly Mother speaks to me. But one of the ways that She really strongly appears through me is in nature. And I mean, I can think of a thousand ways that she has shown up for me in that way. I used to live in Arizona, and one of the things that really just reminded me of Heavenly Mother was the saguaro cactus. And I can't tell you why. I can't give you a rhyme or reason why I felt like that was a symbol of Her, why I felt such a strong connection to Her whenever I thought about or talked about or wrote about the cactus, but I just felt there was such a strong spirit about it and I really felt like She was present and I just feel like She's everywhere in nature. And then also, She talks to me in my head. I know this sounds freaky, but I can hear Her when She talks to me, and a lot of times She shows up for me when I'm writing. There was a poem that I wrote when I first moved to Utah, I had been here for a couple of months when I wrote it. When I wrote this, I just --I really needed Her help with helping me figure out how to be happy in Utah, because I had moved away from the cactus and I felt like I had moved away from Her. So I was kind of searching the landscape of Utah to find Heavenly Mother. And so I wrote this poem and I felt like in the writing, She responded to me. 

So it says, “I said, this place is a worst, even if it has mountains and trees. So what, there is no magic here. She said, “Look deeper.” I said, “I can't see past the people, all the rules and judgey eyes. Their wasteful lawns and spacious buildings. And their terrible libraries to boot.” She said, “I know, but try. Look deeper.” I said, “Fine. There's some green plants, leaves that turn colors, and water falls from the sky in flakes.” “That's a good start,” She said, “What else?” “Well, some girls in my ward want to be my friend, and my Bishop is kind, and my family is here,” I said. I shrugged my shoulders. She said, “Give it all you've got, girl.” And so I said, “Okay. The rain smells like seawater. I live not too far from the Lake. The clouds come and go as they please. Not all or nothing like in Arizona. Some here, some there, some snow or rain or not. It always keeps me guessing.” I said to her, “You know, for a state that prayed for rain for years there sure is a lot of complaining over the wet weather we've been having lately.” She said, “Don't I know it.” And we laughed. And then I cried. I said, “I miss Arizona.” And she said, “It's okay. That desert is one of my favorites too, but I love this place also. Look deeper.” I said nothing. And felt beneath the soil with bare hands. Worms wriggled across my skin. Spiders scurried away from my intrusion. I breathed in the salt air wafting on the wind and with it felt the pulsing message carried on the beat of a seagull wing. She said, “I am all around you.”

C: So I just, I feel like she's there. She talks to me, she's all around me. I just have to open my eyes and know what to look for. 

E: I'm so glad that you've read this poem because everyone needs to know not only how amazing Channing is, but what a stunning, phenomenal poet she is. So you should read more of her stuff and maybe we'll include more of her stuff on here because it's just so good. I just wanted to snap after the end of that poem, like a high praise for you friend. I also wanted to share a personal experience, actually Channing and I had this experience together, but it still is uniquely mine, this experience with Heavenly Mother. And it was when I had went and visited Channing up in Utah. And my only request for the weekend was, can we please go see some art? And we went to the Utah Museum of Fine Art or something, but the painting I wanted to see the most, it was just a necessity on our itinerary, was Caitlin Connolly's In Their Image.

C: So the church has an art museum, a small collection of art, and then they also have artifacts. So I think it's currently called the Church History Museum. I'm not totally sure, but it's literally across the street from temple square and you can find it pretty easily. 

E: So, we were super pumped to go see it. We go to the front desk and say we're looking for this Caitlin Connolly painting, where is it? We have to see it. And the people at the front desk just kind of looked at us and they were kind of unsure what we were talking about and why we were so hyped about it. And they said, um, if it's really big, we think it's upstairs around the corner. So we take the stairs, we turn the corner and this painting is giant. It takes up the entire wall and just towers over you, not in a scary way, but in a really inviting way. And across from the painting, there's a bench. And so Channing and I, I think we just stopped right in front of the painting at first and just stood there quietly without saying anything. And then eventually we took a few steps back and ended up sitting on this bench and I was just soaking in, in awe of seeing a painting of my Heavenly Parents in one type of representation, because it helped me feel like my full self. It helped me identify more of who I was because I was able to see Heavenly Mother and see all of Their children painted beneath them in a really loving and inclusive way. And so as we were sitting there, we were watching other people come by. And this little, little girl, she was maybe five or something, she walks by the painting really quickly and then stops and turns back around. And she's like, “Oh, that's cute.” And then keeps walking and chatting. And Channing and I just looked at each other like, how are you not having this same experience right now? You are in the presence of holiness and Channing and I are tearing up, we’re trying to take pictures in front of this so that we can remember this experience in the future. And we were just stunned that other people weren't having such a visceral response, but it goes back to representations of God or manifestations of God, the Father and God, the Mother showing up and speaking differently to different people. And so that was one of the ways that I had an experience with Heavenly Mother in front of this phenomenal painting.

C: So we know that in the pas,t and probably still in the present, there are quite a few people who might be a little uncomfortable with this conversation that we're having -- talking so explicitly about Heavenly Mother. And so we want to unpack that a little bit. Earlier I posted Instagram terms and definitions about benevolent patriarchy. And I think we just want to explore that a little bit more in the context of Heavenly Mother and how benevolent patriarchy kind of plays a role in the way that we think about and frame our conversations about Heavenly Mother. So the definition of benevolent patriarchy that we gave is that benevolent, patriarchy is a subtype or patriarchy disguised as well-meaning, but ineffective gender equality. So what this means is that the patriarchy, which we've said before is a system of society that values men over women, but in an attempt to show that, “Oh, no, that's not like really what we mean,” or “We want women to be equal,” or for example, the best example I can think of is from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who says that phrases like, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck,” or “The man is in the driver's seat, but the woman's up there, too. So it's fine.” And in an LDS context, I think a word that really demonstrates this idea really well is the word preside. And a lot of times it's using the context of husbands preside over their families and it's like, “Oh yeah, the husband is the president, but the woman's there, too. And so. I think this is all fine.” So benevolent, patriarchy attempts to give women power, but in the end kind of subverts this in kind of a show, like it's kind of a facade of, “Oh yeah, we respect women,” without actually giving women any real power or position of influence.

E: One way we see this show up with Heavenly Mother is the traditional understanding or justification around not talking about Heavenly Mother is because She's so Holy and She's so good. And She's so just lovely that to talk about Her openly would be to degrade Her or to disrespect Her or to soil Her good image. And so on the outside it seems well-meaning, right? What can be bad about saying that Heavenly Mother is Holy? But what it actually does, and this is where benevolent patriarchy comes in because it's a disguise, what's actually happening in this scenario is that She's being silenced all the same. And so we have no lines of communication with Heavenly Mother if we’re not supposed to talk about Her, which means that the power of communication still rests in male control and keeps the power in the male sphere.

C: Right, and this shows up two-fold, one that for a long time for me personally I waited for prophetic revelation to come down the line saying, “Oh yes, we can talk to Heavenly Mother, or for more information about Heavenly Mother. That's never really come. And so we get our permission/information about Heavenly Mothers through a patriarchal or male line of authority. And secondly, if that permission/information doesn't come, then all of our communication still has to go through Heavenly Father. And so in the end, we're still talking to a male figure. And there's no woman, there's no feminine connection there. 

E:Another way you could think about this too, it's often talked about putting women up on a pedestal. And so we can think about, it seemingly looks like we're upholding Heavenly Mother and we're exalting her. But if you step back a little bit more, you actually find that this pedestal is in the bottom of a pit. And so, She's actually not exalted. Power still rests in the male dominion and it robs Her of agency, of activity, of complexity, of voice. And again, it goes back to silencing Her. And where does the power lie and who has the lines of communication?

C: And along with that complexity, something else that we wanted to talk about that follows along with really well with benevolent patriarchy is that benevolent patriarchy, along with not allowing women the full scope of power, is that it also relegates them to specific spheres of power influence. Two of those spheres that show up for Heavenly Mother, specifically is that Her presence and divinity or claim to godliness is in Her relationship with God, the Father. And so, for the most part, we usually only hear Heavenly Mother talked about in the context of motherhood or wifehood, and a quote that I feel like demonstrates this really well, Heavenly Mother's role as mother, Elder James E Talmage says “we are literally the sons and daughters of divine parents, the spiritual progeny of God, our eternal father and of our godmother.” And these quotes were originally published in a journal publication from BYU. The article is titled A Mother There. This article is actually one that really strongly influenced the gospel topic essays that are available on churchofJesusChrist.org. So you can find those there, but this is where these quotes are coming from. And so, talking about Heavenly Mother in Her role of wife, a quote from 1938 from the church’s published short history of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught  “The theological conception of a mother in heaven, as well as a father lends dignity to motherhood and wifehood.” And also, Elder B. H. Roberts offers that “The conception of the nobility of women and motherhood and of wifehood, placing Her side-by-side with the divine Father.” We included these quotes because we feel like they demonstrate really well that Her primary roles that we think of for Heavenly Mother are that of wife and mother. And those two roles are really only defined by Her relationship with God, the Father. But something that kind of shifted my understanding of Heavenly Mother and kind of allowed me to have a more personal relationship with Her was starting to imagine what She was like all on Her own, all by Herself.

And that may kind of seem a little bit radical because maybe if you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about Heavenly Mother before, or if you've never had the opportunity or permission to do this, it can kind of seem like, “Wait, what? She's something else besides those things?” But I think if we think about it in the reverse, we have no issue imagining God, the Father as an independent being. He shows up so conveniently in all of our sacred texts just by Himself, seemingly just by Himself. And so I think it's okay for us to do the reverse for Heavenly Mother also, to just imagine Her being Her own woman or being Her own Goddess. And so one of the questions that, um, we wanted to ask each other and ask you is what do different and independent imaginings of the feminine divine have to offer us?

E: Just like Channing said, engaging in this type of practice of re-imagining different ways that Heavenly Mother might show up for us helps us think of Her as multifaceted and not just one single identity in the same way that we're not just one single identity. Just because I teach doesn't mean I'm only ever a teacher or just because I go to church doesn't only ever mean I'm a church-goer. And I think that can be a helpful framework for us when we turn to Heavenly Mother, too. Yes, She is Holy and She is reverent and She is the Mother of all living and She is a side-by-side of God, the Father, but She's not only those things because we don't want to be only those things either. And if we're created in God's image and we have a yearning to be more complex and more deeply understood, then so does Heavenly Mother. So some other parts of Her identity might be Creator or Queen or Gardner or Liberator or Scientist.

C: I also think of her as a sensuous lover, kind of sexy. What’s that book in the Bible that we technically don't really canonize?

E: The songs of Solomon. 

C: Yes. That one. It's one of my favorites and I love to read those passages as the relationship with Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. And they're just so sensual and passionate and I want my Heavenly Parents to be in love with each other. So I just love this imagery of Heavenly Mother as a sensuous lover. Also another image that I like to think of Her as or a role that I like to think of Her playing is one of a midwife. This kind of occurred to me in reading a book called The Red Tent where the main character is a midwife. And throughout the story, it's very highlighted, her midwifery skills in helping women birth their babies. Which I think is kind of a beautiful way to think about Heavenly Mother, not as only the person giving birth, but also the assistant or the helper or the guide through some of our life experiences where we are required, not just to birth others, not just to birth bodies, but also to birth ourselves. And so to think of Her as a helper, through that process of coming into our own, can be really beautiful. And also in that same book, at the very end of the book, the main character, the midwife, is the person that's with her father as he passes away. And I just think the imagery, the mirror image of a midwife that guides through the process of birth, but then a midwife who also guides to the process of death, they're one and the same, you cannot have one without the other, they go hand in hand. And so that role or the symbolic meaning of Heavenly Mother as a Goddess who is there to guide us through what it means to die, what it means to let parts of ourselves die, what it means to let things go, what it means to come into rest and maybe even the final rest, these are really powerful ways to look at Heavenly Mother and look at the feminine divine in roles outside of just what we've traditionally understood Her as. And also here, too, I wanted to share an experience and I was telling Elise that I don't know if I should share this just because it seemed like it was so it's so like personal and so touching, but I feel like, for me, it's so touching but I feel like it really demonstrates well what we're talking about and was such a transformative experience. So I share it here with you with all of my tenderness and hope that it's received in this spirit that I am trying to give it in. I had a dream not too long ago where I met Heavenly Mother. And in this dream, I went to an office building. And when I got to Her office, I got to the secretary's desk and there was Heavenly Father and Heavenly Father was the secretary. And I asked Him, “Can I see Heavenly Mother?” and He just kind of looked at me like, “Of course, why are you asking me? You can go in there anytime, you know that.” And so He took me to Her office and I walked in and inside Her office it didn't look like an office. It looked like a bedroom. It looked like one of those like fancy vintage rooms that you just walk into where the windows are covered in velvet drapes, and there's beautiful floral paper, and paintings, and it's covered in a red and gold wallpaper. This dream was pretty intense, pretty detailed. But then when I walked in, I saw Heavenly Mother just laying on one of those vintage chaise lounges. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I-I'm going to get to see Her.” And up until this point all of the images that I had seen of Heavenly Mother were very reverent, very Holy and poised and, you know, like She's in prayer or She's mothering other children. I just had come to expect that when I saw this woman, when I saw Heavenly Mother turn around, that I would see kind of a Grandmother figure, you know, dressed in temple robes and that's honestly what I expected. So you can imagine my surprise when Heavenly Mother turned around and I was looking into the face of Rizzo from the movie Grease. And I was like, wait, what? This is SO not what I was expecting. And the conversation that I had with her was just, you know, very characteristic of what I would think Rizzo would say. You know, she's very sassy, very blunt, kind of radical and right there in your face, but at the same time, so loving, so encouraging, so welcoming and, the dream ended and I don't want to share everything, but just this idea that Heavenly Mother showed up to me as Rizzo from Grease is so wild, but also so cool. I think that experience for me really liberated my understanding of Heavenly Mother as only this divine nurturing and  motherly figure and really opened my eyes and understanding to this idea that She is real and She encompasses the whole experience of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a person and not just the parts that we deem are appropriate for women to have.

E: I love thinking of Heavenly Mother as Rizzo. It’s just phenomenal. And it does also go to show, there was something important about Her showing Herself to you in that way, something that you needed, some way that you needed to be loved by this version or this type of Heavenly Mother. And I think in this way too, it goes back to the last episode where we talked about allowing ourselves to remain open and adventurous so that we allow God to continually surprise us. And so we wanted to ask our listeners in what ways, or how has Heavenly Mother surprised and perhaps liberated you? We often use Jesus Christ as a way for us to understand the nature of God, the Father, but we should also look to Jesus Christ as some type of archetype or a way to understand the nature of Heavenly Mother, because both of these divine parents play a role in the characteristics and the nature of Jesus Christ.

C: And going along with that, I also think if Christ and His divine parents, both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are united in purpose, then we can kind of free ourselves from this idea of gender roles that some attributes of God are purely female and some attributes of God are purely male because Christ embodied both of Them. A quote that we wanted to share from that same essay, A Mother There, is something that Brigham Young said. He taught that “We were created in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God, which indicates that calling Heavenly Mother God is consistent with the biblical account of the creation of both male and female being in the image of God.”

E: One way to think of it is that these two divine beings are equal in power. But they're also independent, though They're united in purpose. They can share traits, qualities and roles outside of what our current mortal understanding of what “gender appropriate” can look like. In this way, too, just like Channing was saying before, using the kind of overarching or all encompassing or all inclusive word, God. God can be both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, but also God can be God, AKA, Heavenly Mother or God, AKA Heavenly Father. But we know that this idea doesn't always sit well with people because we've been conditioned and trained to think that when we hear the term “God” it automatically always means God the Father. And so there can be a little bit of discomfort or disruption that happens if we suggest God as God, woman or God, mother. 

C: I actually had an experience with this. It is really a cultural belief because literally our doctrine backs this up. But the cultural belief that when I say God, that I'm purely meaning God the father. I was actually in Elise’s ward at this time. So she can probably add some additional insight for what it was like being in the audience. I have no idea. All I know is that it was a wild ride. So. I'm in this ward that already probably doesn't like me very much. And I really just had this strong feeling that I really just wanted to share my testimony about Heavenly Mother. And, maybe this will give you a peek into what the nature of Channing is -- like, why did I do this anyway? I just really wanted to. And I felt like Fast & Testimony meeting is for everybody. Then I get to go up there and say what is really on my heart. So I went up and I shared a poem that I had written that talked about the love of God. It was really beautiful. It talks about how God's love is kind of like coming home to a warm plate of cookies after school, and it's always available for you. And it's always wanting you to come back and at the very end of the poem, all I did was say. God loves us. Oh, how She loves us. And then I went down, sat back in my seat, there was nothing in the remainder of the testimony meeting. But then later it was also fifth Sunday. So we had this combined Relief Society and Elders Quorum lesson afterwards. And the Bishop of my ward at the time got up in that meeting and, I don't even remember what he said specifically, but he just kind of was like, “Just to make it super clear, we only talk about God, the Father here, and any other references are just simply not appropriate.” Obviously very specifically talking about me and what I had shared over the pulpit, and it turned into this whole -- I had to talk to the relief society president and have a whole conversation about what language was appropriate to be using in our church buildings, because who knows who's walking through the door and this whole time I was sitting there so confused because I'm like, “Wait, so do we believe in Heavenly Mother or do we not?” I think we do. And there is so much cultural stigma around permission or the language that we use to talk about Heavenly Mother that, you know, maybe isn't necessarily doctrinally sound. But if we really spend some time looking into the theology of Heavenly Mother looking into what past things have been said by prophets or church leaders and even our literal own experiences with Heavenly Mother, we'll find that actually there is quite a bit of freedom and it's okay to talk about God, whether we're talking about God, the Father or God, the Mother. 

E: Yeah, it was such a wild sacrament meeting, sitting there. Cause I caught it, but I'm just hyper aware of those things. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, go Channing. This is amazing. But also knowing the culture of our ward, I was also scared because there was just other stuff that had gone on that made it not super…

C: This was the witch ward. We've talked about it before.

E: Yeah. So there was that, but then Channing and I were talking later and we're both just kind of astounded because she did nothing wrong. So why was she being punished and pulled aside and shamed? And, it was just so outrageous the way that she was treated for talking about something that our theology already includes. People just lost it and it was pretty upsetting. It was upsetting to see their reactions to this public display of love for Heavenly Mother. It was pretty sad, too. 

C: Yeah. It was wild. So I think I, and you know, but I have since moved to Salt Lake and I've moved into a ward that actually has been really surprisingly so open to this. I got up a couple of weeks ago. Our ward did a song Fast & Testimony where people got up to share their favorite song and what it means to them. And then the congregation all sang one verse from their song. And I got up and shared the hymn God is Love and talked about how specifically this song reminds me of Heavenly Mother. There's a lot of imagery in this hymn that is specific to Heavenly Mother. And guess what? We sang my song and I sat down and everyone turned back and smiled at me and I saw the Bishop in the hallway afterwards and he was like, “That was so perfect. Thank you so much,” And so yes, there's a long way to go as far as cultural acceptance, but it also really depends on where you are, what leadership in your ward looks like. Not everywhere is the same and I am continually surprised at both how unaccepted it is, but also how accepted it is. 

E: This is a good reminder to keep talking about Her, keep talking about Her in public, openly asking questions about Her, openly looking for ways She shows up in your life and in the scriptures, because the more we talk about Her and share about Her, the more familiar She'll be to all of us. 

C: So even though we have this radical theology, even though we've been told, and we know that Heavenly Mother is important, sometimes we don't always really sit to think about why. Why is she important? And I think there are two reasons. One, I think women need a Goddess. So we kind of wanted to unpack that a little bit. Why do women need a Goddess? 

E: For me, it goes back to representation, because if we can't see, then we can't be. And if we don't have language about, or if we're not able to talk and listen to stories about Heavenly Mother, then we have no idea what shape or form She takes, and then what that means to us. Then not only are we trying to figure out more about Heavenly Mother, but in turn, we're figuring out more about ourselves and what it means to be a mortal woman and what it means to have unique womanly experiences. And it's just like Caitlin Connelly's painting is titled, we are created In Their Image. So what can we learn about our Heavenly Parents, specifically about our Heavenly Mother, and how does that translate into what it means for me to be uniquely me?

C: For me, I think the significance of having a Heavenly Mother or Divine Feminine is that I personally think that there's something really unique and special about being a woman, just like there's something really unique and special about being a man. But for me, it kind of goes along with the idea of sisterhood. There's something really sacred about being in communion with people where  you don't have to tell your background story. You don't have to talk about how hard postpartum depression was for you. You don't have to talk about, you know, menstruation or breastfeeding, or all of these things that are unique to women's experiences. There's something really sacred about being in a community and being in a communion with people who truly have been through those same experiences, who know exactly what you're talking about and you don't have to filter, you don't have to downplay. You don't have to translate or try and find language that other people will understand. There's just the unspoken understanding. And so to be able to have that kind of relationship with a divine presence who can understand those really specific feminine experiences, I think that there's just something so sacred about that for women that you don't have to censor yourself. You're just radically loved and accepted for who you are in all that you are and all your experience, and you don't have to be anything less. You can just be your full self with God. And I think that that's really important and so beautiful. 

E: So those are some of our ideas for why we think people who identify as a woman need Heavenly Mother and need a Goddess. But, what if we asked a different question, what about, can people who identify as a man benefit from a Goddess, too? Can they benefit from Heavenly Mother, and can people who identify as neither man nor woman benefit from Heavenly Mother and a Goddess as well? And just as a side note, we know that one of the limits of this discussion is that it reinforces the gender binary of only men and women. However, for those of you or for your loved ones and neighbors and friends who identify otherwise along the gender spectrum, we see you, and we see you even if this conversation is limited. 

E: Thank you for that, Elise, that's really important. And I think the answer to your question is yes. They do benefit. Everyone benefits from Heavenly Mother, everyone benefits from the Goddess. And I think what makes this really apparent is if we ask the question in reverse. So if we say, do women need a Heavenly Father? Um, I think the resounding answer would be yes. And so both are true. Women need a Heavenly Father, men need a Goddess. And so, Yes, we need everyone. And this kind of reminded me of a movie, a Disney movie that I actually watched a long time ago. If you're familiar with the movie Coco, for some reason, it was kind of a key piece to my understanding of how I need both of my Heavenly Parents. And so I wrote a little piece about it. And I just wanted to share just this tiny little bit with you. So the setting of the movie is in Mexico, where they celebrate the day of the dead, where they believe that the spirits of, or the souls of the dead can crossover to the world of the living. But in the movie they make the case that the souls can't crossover if their family doesn't remember them and they remember them by having a photo of them on their ofrenda, or kind of a sacred altar. So in the movie, it turns out that this family has purposefully forgotten someone in their family because of that happened in the past. And so they couldn't cross over. So the whole premise of this movie is finding your family, forgiving, and the importance of knowing your legacy. And so just an excerpt from the piece that I wrote about, I say, “I humbly submit that if someone is missing from the picture of our divine heritage, we can't have a full understanding of our belonging, our purpose, and our legacy. I guess a good question that we could ask ourselves both personally, and as an LDS community, is this: is anyone missing from my divine heritage? Is my divine family tree complete? Do I have a personal and visceral experience with each of my divine Parents? Wholeness heals and balance heals. We cannot claim to be children of a singular God. Eliza R snow says that the thought makes reasons stare.” So I just think that that really drives home the point that wholeness includes everyone, wholeness includes the whole picture and the whole picture includes Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father together united in purpose.

E: Thank you so much for joining us today for an awesome conversation. Not just about Jesus taking on the baptism covenant, but for the stunning, well thought out beautiful discussion that happened about Heavenly Mother. We appreciate you listening and participating that way. 

C: Absolutely. And look forward to that blog post. It should be posted sometime this week. And we also look forward to having a conversation with you about personal revelation and all the other richness that's covered here in chapters 32 and 33, especially talking about saying goodbye to Nephi because this is all we'll hear from him. So we love you. We're so glad you're here, and we can't wait to talk to you next week. Toodles!

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