Posts Tagged Adam & Eve

Temple Casting part 2 – what I should not have missed

Today I went to the temple to do some of the work for my grandfather who passed away last year. And, during the presentation of the Endowment, it came to me that I missed some things I really should have put into that last post. So here they are, in no order of importance.

Lucifer: France.

It could be from my belief that he is completely unnecessary in the beginnings of a world, but I managed to all together forget this character existed in the presentation when I wrote the last post. We’ve had all kinds, from almost operatic to smarmy to truly icky. The method of acting doesn’t bother me too much (though the icky one just seems wrong), but this was a really difficult decision on how to cast from a nationality. How to you pick one without feeding into stereotypical views on how “evil” a particular nationality can be? This would matter less as more versions are made, but for the first, this is my choice.

Heavenly Mother: Ukraine

Yes, I know this is not a part in the current endowment presentation. The Church has recently affirmed Her as part of our doctrine, and in making use of the word Elohim (meaning Gods, not necessarily a single person) I think we should add this role, giving her half of the lines given for Heavenly Father. Which lines would not matter as they would all be coming from God. There could even be given different lines from presentation to presentation. It would be important in teaching that the Two are truly One, as we believe out Heavenly Parents to be.

Music: China, Kenya, and Ireland

People rarely think of the music used as background in these films. Part of it I think has to do with the rut we’ve gotten ourselves into with regards to music that conveys “spirituality”. It really hasn’t changed much since the media used in the 1980’s. A lot of chords in high strings with some keening solo by an oboe or french horn. A lot of suspensions resolving into major chords. It’s become practically Pavlovian, giving the signal that what is being shown is something spiritual. Surely we can add to the presentation without overwhelming it using music from other traditions.

The Temple is such an important part of our religion. We have heard many time about how we should learn something every time we go. I think one of the best ways to do this is to increase the diversity in the presentation made. Let’s wake up those who can go through it just marking time and give better opportunities for the Spirit to teach what they need to know.

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Casting my own version of the Temple Endowment

For those who do not know, “The Endowment” is one of the rituals LDS have in the Temple where we make covenants with God. It involves ritual clothing (which the Church has make a handy video about) and a depiction of the creation of the world (which I’ve written about before). In some Temples, this depiction is done by live performers who are rarely trained actors and not “cast” in their parts as actors would be. These are simply volunteer workers in the Temple who have been assigned to this particular task, with no regard to age or physical appearance.

In most temples a film is used. There have been five versions of this film made thus far, each using the actors and film technologies of their time, the creators of it bringing their best to the Temple. In every version, the actors (and single actress) have been Americans of distinctly Northern European descent. I think that we, being a worldwide Church, should have films distributed that show the wide variety of people in the world. This would help us imagine themselves in those positions (as we are instructed to), but would also help us to see that these varieties aren’t an aberration but part of the wondrous palette used by God in His creation.

We do not have a standard belief of how everyone will look in the afterlife. We do, however, have a lot of folk doctrine floating around that everyone will automatically be Anglo, insinuating that other forms are lesser or undesirable. This would be a way to help abolish that folk doctrine. There are, of course, many iterations that can be used, but this is one I’d like to see:

God, the Father: Mexico
Jesus, the Christ: India
Adam: Japan
Eve: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Peter: Peru
James: Samoa
John: United States

There is so much variety to choose from, and so few parts. Even in these particular Countries, there is so much variety. Why not take advantage of that variety and look beyond what we’ve limited ourselves to in the expediency of using films rather than live actors? Technologies and talents have come such a long way from the days of the first films, where talent and locations were limited to what was local to Salt Lake City.

Why not go even further than this and let some actors use their own language, which would have to be dubbed into English?

The possibilities are just amazing.

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You’re not a gatekeeper if you don’t hold the key

I’ve come across a few articles recently which have gone back over the idea that men have Priesthood and women have Motherhood. These are trying to make the case that each gender has it’s own sphere and should be content with that. The reasoning used for this comes mainly from Valerie Hudson Casslers’ speech The Two Trees. She brings in information from the Eden story to declare that men are “gatekeepers” of the ordinances required for salvation while women are “gatekeepers” of mortality. She equates this with the two trees mentioned in the Eden story, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve ate the fruit of the second tree and gave to Adam from it, so women are in charge of making mortality. (She also asserts a few things that LDS “believe”, but that’s another post.)

Overall, I think it’s a good speech with some good ideas and thoughts, and while I’m glad for those who have found some measure of peace and understanding through it. However, I find the conclusion of it, the very premise that men are gatekeepers of salvation while women are gatekeepers of mortality, to be overly simplistic and potentially damaging. I know I’ve written on it before, but it needs to be said more often, so people will start to get it.

Making babies is not analogous to Priesthood.

To the point of rebutting Casslers’ analogy, the saving ordinances performed by men with the Priesthood can be done with no input whatsoever by a woman. As far as being a “gatekeeper” for them, the analogy works. Creating mortal bodies, however, cannot be done by a woman alone. Women may stand at the gate, doing the work of guarding and the very nearly all of the work of opening the gate,, but only men have the key. It takes both to open this gate. You can’t call women “gatekeepers” of a gate they have no power to open on their own.

There are also the standard arguments against equating Motherhood and Priesthood, like Motherhood being available to nearly all women while Priesthood is available to fairly few men, and that neither can be the ultimate meaning of a persons’ life, but I’m glad to leave those for other times.

I do think there are many, many wonderful things waiting for us in the future. I may be completely wrong on what they are, but I do know that whatever there is, it will be wondrous for all of us, men and women. I believe we will have the balance that we know exists in our Heavenly Parent’s love for us, but I despair at some of the rationales we develop to try and convince ourselves that we have that balance now.

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The choices of Adam and Eve

I’ve been thinking about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, and wondering what the world would be like if things had happened differently. I start with the simple premise –

No decision made by Adam or Eve in eating the forbidden fruit could have frustrated Gods plan.

So, here are the options:

1. Eve eats the fruit, then convinces Adam to eat it also.

2. Adam eats the fruit, then convinces Eve to eat it also.

3. Neither Adam or Eve eat the fruit.

4. Adam eats the fruit, Eve does not.

5. Eve eats the fruit, Adam does not.

Here are my thoughts:
1. We get the current world, where both Adam & Eve were punished by being cast out into the world, with the world being cursed to be more difficult for all. Eve can only come to God through Adam, who has the Priesthood.

2. Same, but Adam can only come to God through Eve, even if Adam has the Priesthood. The Priesthood cannot be used except in conjunction with women.

3. The ideal. Both Even and Adam are taught by God everything they need to learn about how to live, grow, and raise children in the world, then are given the Forbidden Fruit to start them on their mortal journey, where they are further taught as they have and raise children. Women and men in the world are completely together in all aspects of life, following God hand in hand.

4. Adam is taught in the garden, while Eve is taught and suffers in the world, until Adam is given the fruit and joins her. You end up with more spiritual men and a less oppresively Patriarichal relationship between men and women than in #1.

5. Eve is taught in the garden, while Adam is taught and suffers in the world, until Eve is given the fruit and joins him. I think we end up with a similarly unbalanced world as #4, though with a slightly oppresive Matriarichal relationship.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. We live in a world that is out of balance between men and women, but still very workable in that all may eventually return to God, if they so choose. With numberless worlds out there, there is a good chance that any of these other options have happened at their beginning, most of the time getting #3.

What are your thoughts? How would life be different today if something else had happened in the Garden of Eden? What will it be like to go to these other worlds and be the odd one out?

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Helpmeet vs Help Meet

One of the Biblical teachings that always gets to me is the misquoting of a verse in Genesis, where God creates Eve.

Genesis 2:18
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Often, when I hear this quoted, its put as a single word – helpmeet. The definition taken from this is something like a maidservant. This is used to show that God made women as subservient to men. Unfortunately, this is not the meaning of the pairing of words.

Meet, on its own, means equal. In this, God is saying that He will make Adam someone equal to him, that can be a help to him. This does not place one above the other any more than my helping you do something makes me your servant.

As with Adam and Eve, marriage between a man and a woman is a companionate relationship. They must work together to get the greatest accomplished. The later comparison of marriage to being “equally yoked” is very apt, as one is not pushing or pulling the other and neither is leading, but both are working together to go where the master (God) desires them to go.

And, if you are looking for someone to share your life with, just remember you are looking for an help – meet for you, not an helpmeet to be owned by you.

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