Exaltation: It’s All About Who You Know… or… Puncture or Perish… or… Storm Chasers

December 2, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 5:05 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation

I have been meaning to use these pithy post titles for some time now but since the content I have in mind for them overlaps I decided to use them all for this single post. The overall subject is one of my favorites and one of the most important we could talk about – personal revelation.

Exaltation: It’s All about Who You Know

So why is exaltation about who you know? It is because exaltation means becoming one with God. The “person” we need to know in order to become exalted beings is God.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17: 3)

The whole notion that exaltation and spiritual progression are entirely matters of relationship is a useful one I think. It helps us focus on the most important things in life like our personal relationship with God. Too often we get hung up on the means (observance of commandments and cultural practices) and lose sight of the end (really knowing God). I often repeat the phrase: “Knowing God is a very different thing than knowing about God”. And knowing God requires personal revelation.

Lest you think I am not also an advocate of obedience to God let me say that personal revelation always leads to repentance and greater obedience to God. As we receive light and knowledge for God it becomes clear to us what we must do to be happier and that is always to change to become more like him – or in other words to repent and obey Him more fully.

Puncture or Perish

That leads to my second post title: Puncture or Perish. (This title is a play on the old saying in the Arts: Publish or Perish.) The idea is that if we, as members of the truest Church on the earth and as the only people on the earth who have the Gift of the Holy Ghost do not “puncture the veil” and receive real and identifiable personal revelation on a fairly regular basis we are in serious spiritual danger. When Peter testified that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord responded:

Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16: 17-18)

I firmly believe (along with many modern prophets and apostles) that an appropriate interpretation of verse 18 is that the rock Christ was referring to was the rock of revelation. Now lots of folks have interpreted this to mean that the overall church is founded on the rock of revelations to prophets like Joseph Smith. While I don’t disagree with that idea, I think it is only part of the story. The other crucial meaning is that each of us must be personally built on the rock of revelation as well. I have concluded that anything short of personal revelation from God is a dangerously sandy foundation for our own spiritual progress.

The Lord gives us instructions on increasing our relationship with and knowledge of him in the D&C:

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Among most church members worldwide I think the injunction to “seek learning, even by study” is most commonly neglected. I think Mormons don’t study the gospel enough. But among Mormon blog participants (bloggernaclites) I suspect we have an unusually high percentage of folks that are better at the study portion than at the “seek learning… by faith” (and personal revelation) portion.

Storm Chasers

In other words, I suspect that if our personal revelation does not keep up with our personal study of the deeper and stickier parts of Mormon doctrine and history we may be on a path leading to agnosticism or falling away. Our foundation on the rock of personal revelation must be strong enough to support our faith in the face of the winds and rains we will encounter in life – and perhaps more so for those of us who are “storm chasers” and actively seek to get to the bottom of those sticky doctrinal or historical questions. And by our very nature we Mormon bloggers are “storm chasers”. Many or most of us are drawn to the Bloggernacle because it allows us to study and seek the answers to those nagging questions about Mormon doctrine or practices that are not a good fit for the average Sunday school discussion. But in such digging we often must weather winds and rains of uncertainty as we are occasionally forced to adjust incorrect assumptions we previously held. It is the price to be paid for digging up truth I suppose.

So fellow storm chasers, when was the last time you clearly heard the voice of God in your mind and heart? If it has been too long let me recommend a foundation check before taking on that next level 4 or level 5 storm. (Hey, if it got Moses across the Red Sea it can get us past a few spiritual winds and rains, right?)

23 Comments »

  1. What are you trying to do Geoff, turn this into a testimony meeting?

    I really appreciate your post, and the balance you are trying to provide here. I am still quite new to this forum and I sometimes wonder if we are at times missing the real point. We must study these things out in our mind, and then we must get the revelation in order to know the truth.

    I had a couple of experiences lately I might share. I have been a home teacher for a family for about a decade now. When they had their first child there were complications, and some type of surgury regarding the ovaries of the mother. I don’t know the details but the doctors told her that her likelyhood of having more children were not very good, possible but low chance. Several years went by and the family had pursued adoption because they did not seem to be able to have children. They approached me to give them a blessing to be able to another child. As I prepared for this blessing I had the clear impression that I could bless them with whatever they wanted. So I did give them a positive blessing about having more children. It took a few years, but they now have two children and another on the way. This was a very good experience for me, and had nothing to do with study and everything to do with revelation.

    Unfortunately, I have not had dramatic revelation regarding doctrinal issues. My testimony of these things comes very slowly and gradually. Is doctrinal personal revelation more difficult to come by for others as well? I feel I have had prayers answered about the basics – Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith as a prophet, Book of Mormon is word of God, etc., but beyond the basics my feelings are vague and open.

    Comment by Eric — December 3, 2005 @ 7:08 am

  2. “Many or most of us are drawn to the Bloggernacle because it allows us to study and seek the answers to those nagging questions about Mormon doctrine or practices that are not a good fit for the average Sunday school discussion. But in such digging we often must weather winds and rains of uncertainty as we are occasionally forced to adjust incorrect assumptions we previously held. It is the price to be paid for digging up truth I suppose.”

    A big AMEN to that Geoff!

    And Eric, yes, I have the same problem. I do study a lot, especially if I’m going to teach a lesson. But “further light and knowledge” seems hard to come by…sometimes it comes, sometimes not.

    Comment by don — December 3, 2005 @ 6:08 pm

  3. Eric: Unfortunately, I have not had dramatic revelation regarding doctrinal issues.

    Don: I do study a lot, especially if I’m going to teach a lesson. But “further light and knowledge” seems hard to come by…sometimes it comes, sometimes not.

    Thanks Eric and Don. After giving it some thought, I don’t think that the rock of revelation needs to specificaly be doctrinal revelation in order to support us against the storms we sometimes encounter as we dig deeper than the average Mormon. I think we just need a real dialogue with God. That way when we learn something that is surprising or unsettling we can think to ourselves something like: “Yikes! That is shocking! But then again, I just had dialogue with God and felt the clear and undeniable assurance that God approved of… [insert foundational truth here -- veracity of Book of Mormon, prophetic role of Joseph Smith or his successors, restoration of priesthood, etc.]” Plus I think if our foundation is built on recent revelation – and whether that is confirmation of foundational truths or concerning personal matters of some kind probably doesn’t matter much – we will be able to weather most any spiritual storm. The primary key is that we can talk with God and we can hear what he has to say back any time (even if we mostly can hear “yes” or “no” answers from him at any given time… getting more detailed revelation is apparently very difficult). When we know how to talk to God and hear back we can turn to him for reassurance and comprehension if we dig up something that disorients us.

    I wonder if part of the reason some saints don’t dig into doctrine or history is because they fear that they won’t be able to handle what they discover. I think that part of my rather cavalier attitude about digging deeply into Mormon doctrine and history is that I have supreme confidence in the direct revelation I have already received about the foundational pieces of the restoration. Plus I have no doubt that I can turn to God in any time of need and at the very least receive a yes or no on my sincere question.

    I should add that I have found the temple to be one of the best places to hear God communicating back to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 5, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

  4. I was thinking about something I heard attributed to Joseph Smith (I think it was on one of the Truman Madsen tapes) that one of the reasons that we do not receive more personal revelation is that we would not keep it personal. Am I wrong in guessing that if some of us on the bloggernacle got personal doctrinal revelation that we would post it to the world instead of pondering it in our hearts and waiting for those in the proper channels to declare it to the world?

    Comment by Eric — December 6, 2005 @ 5:15 am

  5. “I suspect that if our personal revelation does not keep up with our personal study of the deeper and stickier parts of Mormon doctrine and history we may be on a path leading to agnosticism or falling away.”

    I don’t like this idea of personal revelation at all. You start off just right, I think, with talking about revelation as relationship (which is why the Book of Mormon doesn’t just talk about revelation ceasing but about miracles and spiritual gifts ceasing). But if you define revelation as ‘new doctrinal propositions’ then you end up where you are here, that if a person isn’t chasing after theological will-o-the-wisps then they are on the road to apostasy.

    But I think revelation–contact and experience with God–is often a question of experiencing love, guidance, his interest in your mundane affairs, spiritual gifts, finding out that general revelation applies to you specifically (e.g., God telling the church ‘Jesus saves’ vs. God telling you ‘Jesus saves you‘) or of God teaching you through the Spirit and your experience what the words he has revealed actually mean in flesh-and-blood or flesh-and-bone. Your mileage obviously varies, but for me speculative type stuff actually takes me away from revelation rather than towards it.

    So the most recent revelations I’ve had both arose from my daily experience and didn’t do much towards revealing a grand theological system. See here and here. And the one wasn’t even a revelation of truth, but of possibility. A third, which I’m not willing to discuss here or elsewhere, was a revelation (it wasn’t just a feeling of peace; it had specific visual, visionary form) but the visual content appeared to be highly symbolic, so, besides a confirmation of some basic points that nearly everyone believes, the only “new” truth I got out of it was ‘be comforted with respect to problem X.’

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — December 6, 2005 @ 10:22 am

  6. It’s probably true that some who like to chase storms can then build a cage for themselves by trying to force some doctrine or other to fit into their pet theory, or that those who are trying to build a testimony on a foundation of doubt may find that speculation leads them somewhere else.

    But I think that those who are trying to build on a foundation of faith rather than doubt, who already have “supreme confidence in the direct revelation (he or she) has already received about the foundational pieces of the restoration”, probably aren’t exactly looking for will-o-the-wisp doctrinal propositions. We can have the daily experience kind of revelation that comforts us and witnesses the basic truths of the gospel to us, while still seeking and having those doctrinal insights that sometimes come, often in the temple.
    So for me, at least, there was a time when I had less experience with personal revelation so that studying the stickier parts could have been dangerous to my testimony. The difference now is time and experience so that the foundation is safely there before I ever chase a storm.

    Comment by C Jones — December 6, 2005 @ 2:06 pm

  7. Adam: But if you define revelation as ‘new doctrinal propositions’ then you end up where you are here, that if a person isn’t chasing after theological will-o-the-wisps then they are on the road to apostasy.

    I agree. I tried to make some of the same points in my comment #3 when I realized my comments in the post could easily be read in just the way you mention. Let me make it clear that I don’t think one needs to be a doctrine or theology junkie to avoid apostasy. Rather, I was trying to point out that if one insists on “storm chasing” like I do, then one had better also keep the direct revelatory relationship with God open and flowing. If not, the storms one finds could indeed be spiritually detrimental.

    I appreciate the examples you gave as well. They seems to jibe well with my personal experiences with God in that the communication “is often a question of experiencing love, guidance, his interest in your mundane affairs, spiritual gifts, finding out that general revelation applies to you specifically.” I think that is the kind of sustaining revelation we need to “always” have with us if we are going to survive the spiritual storms of life unscathed. It seems that keeping that pipeline open is especially important to the “storm chaser” personalities that make up much up of the bloggernacle.

    Eric: one of the reasons that we do not receive more personal revelation is that we would not keep it personal.

    I have posted on this very subject before. The synopsis of that “Blabbemouth” post is that while I think there is merit to the idea I think it has often been severely overapplied in the last several decades. Let’s not forget that Joseph also said:

    … God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation. (Teachings, p. 149).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 6, 2005 @ 2:08 pm

  8. Thanks C Jones,

    As ever you seem to really comprehend what I am going for with this post.

    Let me add that while I call this searching and digging “storm chasing” in this post, I actually don’t think it is simply fruitless thrill seeking. Rather, I personally believe and hope that I can do real good in the world and real service to God by seeking these truths out and understanding them. If nothing else, I will understand reality and the universe better; but more likely I will be able to use my deepened understanding of reality and the universe to assist other struggling souls in the future. My deep hope is that by better understanding the “storms” I will be able to help others weather storms in the future. That by comprehending things that are obscured to those that do not seek as hard, I will be able “to clothe the (spiritually) naked, and to feed the (spiritually) hungry, and to liberate the (spiritually) captive, and administer relief to the (spiritually) sick and the afflicted.”

    Comment by Geoff J — December 6, 2005 @ 2:22 pm

  9. Geoff,

    Although I occasionally read your blog, this is my first entry. I probably will not be a regular contributor. You’ll know why at the end of this entry. As one who has done his fair share of religious study and have known something of the “cavalier attitude” which you allude to, I have found that knowing God may not be as complicated as you and the bloggernacle make it out to be and that study/knowledge/direct divine dialogue, may only play a very small part in it.

    In working with some very uneducated/poor Peruvians and Bolivians on the Altiplano, I learned that education and intelligence were not all that important in knowing God. In many ways, I felt they knew God better than I did. On the plane home, I thought of the words of St. Paul, when he warned the bloggernaclites of his time, that they were, “ever learning, but never able to come the the knowledge of the truth.” I wondered if all that education and studying was causing me to “see through the glass darkly.”

    So, how can one be illiterate and seem to know God, without the holy bloggernacle? Can one know God and not be able to read the holy scriptures? Can one know God without the constant digging? If the gospel (a way to know God) is for all man, shouldn’t all men/women/ children regardless of ethnicity, education or economic circumstances be able to comprehend it? Now, what about faith and personal revelation. You state that, “each of us must be personally built on the rock of revelation…that anything short of personal revelation from God is a dangerously sandy foundation for our own spiritual progress.” You then seem to indicate that, that personal revelation comes when “the Lord gives us instructions on increasing our relationship with and knowledge of him,” when we study the “best books.”.

    Must personal revelation be inextricably tied to knowledge/intelligence or even direct divine communication? Again, if this is the only way, my friend in Bolivia will never have the faith or personal revelation necessary to know Him and therefore stands “dangerously [on the] sandy foundation.” “Puncture[ing] the veil” may be much different than receiving “real and identifiable personal revelation on a fairly regular basis” through the knowledge contained in the “best books,” or even the direct/ “real dialogue with God.”

    We should note that the D&C scripture you quoted begins with the words, “As all have not faith.” A little teaching of the words of wisdom and a little study in the best books, will go a long way in developing faith in the faithless; a faith that Alma defines as simply a belief in things not seen. This ability to simply have faith and believe on the words of others is described in the D&C as one of the gifts of the Spirit. Recently, I heard President Hinckley speak at one of our tabernacles. He was speaking to Mormons, many of whom profess to “know.” He pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket and said his father gave it to him, just prior to leaving on his mission to England. The paper simply quoted the words of Jesus, as recorded by Mark, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Such is the faith of my friends in Peru/Bolivia and many others.

    So, how it is it that their belief seems to surpass our supposed abilities to know? I think it may be found in how we fill the void of our “unbelief,” as it was in the man who came to Jesus and said, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” If knowing must be understood by all, “the way, the truth and the light” must be more simple than we might think. A serious reading of Matthew 25 may yield a clue. The disciples of Jesus had been asking when He would come again (the second coming). He finally told them that there would be a great division. He compared this division to separating out the goats and the sheep, something that is very easy and simple to do. He then explains the simple criteria He will use to make the separation.

    35. “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    I have a friend who concluded after reading this that, “When you see Christ in others, he will have come.” Because they simply believe, my friends in Bolivia know/live this, thus filling that void of unbelief.

    Could it be that “puncturing the veil” may have more to do with how we treat each other and less to do with how much we “dig [into] sticky doctrinal or historical questions.” I do agree that “some saints don’t dig into doctrine or history…because they fear that they won’t be able to handle what they discover.” However, I know many other saints who seem to be plenty busy applying Matt. 25 (dealing with the joys and sorrows of parenting, really loving the people they serve in church callings and others that they help), that they have little time to be “storm chasers.” One LDS mother who has six children of all ages, who is very well respected and very busy, knows about your site. She commented that she wondered how someone would have enough time to blog. She probably understands “storm chasing” for what it is…entertainment and she has very little entertainment time at this stage in life.

    Now I hope there is nothing wrong with a little entertainment, especially good entertainment like digging into the doctrine, since I still do it once in awhile. But, let’s not confuse good wholesome entertainment with the real work of knowing Him. Saint John makes it clear that ” if any man will do His will, he shall know the doctrine.” It doesn’t work in the reverse. It is in “doing his will” that we come to know/become like Him and the doing does not mean being “hung up on the means (observance of commandments and cultural practices).” Somehow I just know Him much better, when my son and I return home from helping my young widowed neighbor with her lawn and sprinkler system, than I do hanging out in the bloggernacle “digging.” My friend in Peru understands this…

    Well my entertainment time is just about up and I must fight off the temptation of being “drawn to the bloggernacle” and filling my void of unbelief with it.

    So, I agree with you that “exaltation [is] about who you know” and “the person we need to know in order to become exalted beings is God.” However, in order to know God, we must know and love “each other,” even as He knows and loves us. That knowledge rarely comes from a book or some direct revelation (burning in the bosom, absolute assurance). More often than not, it comes in a more indirect way, as we serve and “have the same care, one for another.” These indirect divine communications are all many people have to hang on to and in the end, it’s all they probably really need. Maybe this is the “real dialogue with God,” that we should be digging deeper to find.

    Geoff, you and I and most of the bloggernaclites have studied more than enough to believe. However, I feel some of us still fail to see Him in others as we should, because our unbelief continues to fill the void which should be filled with the insights of Matt 25. This just may be the personal revelation (seeing and feeling Christ in others) we need, to stand on the rock when times get tough. In conclusion you ask, “when was the last time you clearly heard the voice of God?” I say yesterday, when I interrupted my walk trying to pass a painful kidney stone and simply listened to my neighbor talk about things important to them, as they asked for my help. Their’s was the voice of God, loud and clear.

    Comment by Dean — December 6, 2005 @ 2:27 pm

  10. Gotcha.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — December 6, 2005 @ 2:35 pm

  11. What Dean says it true and he makes an important point. But maybe we could try to see the whole elephant…

    Why does the choice have to be presented as blogging about doctrine vs. “dealing with the joys and sorrows of parenting, really loving the people they serve in church callings and others that they help”. Maybe it’s blogging PLUS dealing with the joys and sorrows, etc. vs. playing a round of golf (or whatever). I know plenty of LDS mothers who have six children of all ages, who are very well respected and very busy, but still have time to get their hair and nails done. It might be a little kinder to not judge how someone chooses to spend his or her free time.

    President Kimball (Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith) makes the point that the most important knowledge we can obtain in this life is the knowledge of God and his existence. (I think the original post agrees with that). President Kimball even mentions that the apostles Peter and John were termed ignorant, yet they knew the path to eternal life. I think of Joseph Smith who had very little schooling and only lived into his thirties. But the things he left us with will keep scholars busy for many years to come. Yet he always sought for more knowledge and started The School of the Prophets, a combination of conventional study and pure inspiration.

    Here’s what the Lord had to say about it:
    D & C 88.77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
    78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
    79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms-
    80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

    Nothing here conflicts with what is expressed in Matt. 25. I think we can have it all.

    Comment by C Jones — December 6, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

  12. Welcome to the Thang, Dean. I’m pretty sure you are the Dean that I know (let me know if that is incorrect). And based on your comments I can see why you would be somewhat precluded from commenting here much. Perhaps after you read what I have to say about it you’ll have reason to reconsider to value of what we are doing here at the Thang and in the Bloggernacle in general.

    First, let me thank you for the very thought-provoking comment. I agree with much of what you are saying. I suspect you were writing the comment while I was publishing my comments #7 and #8 because it seems that I preemptively addressed some of what you discussed in your comment there. But in this comment let me address a couple of things you said that I either didn’t understand or didn’t agree with.

    Regarding: “uneducated/poor Peruvians and Bolivians on the Altiplano, …I felt knew God better than I did.”

    I think the parable of the talents is the most applicable source to cite here. They could very well have been pleasing God better than you or I have been. However, that might have everything to do with what God granted them in this life and what they are doing with it. Perhaps, in terms of education capacity and opportunity, they were given the equivalent of one talent and they are doubling that through their faith and diligence. If so they will receive those welcome words from Christ in the last day “well done thou good and faithful servant(s)”. Does that mean you can live exactly like them and do just what they do and also receive that welcome from Christ. No. If you are the Dean I think you are then you are one of the five-talent people in this world and doing what it takes to double one talent is totally insufficient for you. You need to take your five talents and make ten out of them. “For of him unto whom much is given much is required.”

    I doubt you disagree with that point, but I bring it up to clarify that what is required of one person to completely please God is not what is required of all others. So then the question is what should we be doing/becoming to please God.

    Well, I think the answer is pretty simple and yet pretty difficult. We need to keep our covenants to please God. Simple. One of the covenants we have made is to consecrate everything we have and are to God and to assist him in his work. Difficult.

    That brings me to the Bloggernacle and my participation in it. You call it entertainment. I think you greatly underestimate what we are doing here if that is all you think this is. I see my blogging here as my current way of trying to keep my covenants with God.

    Let me explain: I think you are on to something with your notion that part of knowing God is to see God in his children. I have often speculated that charity might be accurately described as a variation on the gift of discernment; that when we have charity we see others through the eyes of Christ and know how he feels about the person or people we are seeing. So I like the example you gave of listening to your neighbor and trying to help them.

    But what do you think we are doing here if not listening to our neighbors and trying to help them? Does my neighbor not count as much if I have to write to him or her instead of chat face to face?

    And you are completely misunderstanding the power of this kind of conversation due to this Web/Blog medium as well. The inspired words or conversations you verbally have with your neighbor, while surely being uplifting, are also lost forever to others. The inspired words or conversations we have here are recorded for many others to read and perhaps even participate in — not only now but perhaps much later. For instance, it is entirely possible that someone will read this exchange you and I are having right now in 10, 20, or 40 years (BTW – Hello those of you reading in 2045. I hope all is well!) and still be uplifted by your thoughtful comment. I hope you can see the power in that.

    We are doing more than frivolously chasing doctrinal storms here. As I said in comment #8:

    My deep hope is that by better understanding the “storms” I will be able to help others weather storms in the future. That by comprehending things that are obscured to those that do not seek as hard, I will be able “to clothe the (spiritually) naked, and to feed the (spiritually) hungry, and to liberate the (spiritually) captive, and administer relief to the (spiritually) sick and the afflicted.”

    What I didn’t say there is that because we are recording the entire process and making it available to the public, I believe that the search itself serves to fulfill the goals I stated.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 6, 2005 @ 4:12 pm

  13. Geoff:

    I have read you blog for a while and comment to it occationaly, frankly, it’s not all that entertaining.

    Seriously though, I live in the ‘mission field’. I just do not have very many friends in the church nearby. Our ward is very small and very spread out. I have greatly benefitted from my participation here. It allows me to have gospel centered conversations that I would not otherwise have.

    Comment by Eric — December 7, 2005 @ 11:16 am

  14. frankly, it’s not all that entertaining.

    Lol. You must be reading my posts too much Eric. Try Kristen’s posts — they tend to be much more entertaining than mine.

    (BTW – I’m glad you have decided to hang around here a bit even so.)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 7, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

  15. Side Note 1. C. Jones-Although my intent (and the mothers intent) was not to judge how people spend their spare time, you’re right…I need to be a little kinder. Considering your entire post, I’m confident it wasn’t your intent to judge how a mother of six spends her free time either. Part of problem I have found with this form of communication is the difficulty in conveying feelings, the building block of meaningful relationships.

    Side Note 2. Geoff-I have a point of clarification regarding your analogy of the “talent parable.” (wait a second, is that an analogy of an analogy?)-By uneducated, I meant a lack of formal education, not the Peruvians “educational capacity.” As the rest of my previous comment indicates, their educational capacity is far greater than mine, hence my feeling and high regard for their wisdom and knowledge of God. They simply see Christ in others better and more frequent than I do. They’ve tripled their 5 talents, while while I’m struggling somewhere in the 1 1/2 talent category.

    Personal Note to Geoff-yes, you do know me and hope all is well for you and your family in Arizona. Your daughters helped me during those nursery days. Hope their light is still shining bright.

    Comment by Dean — December 7, 2005 @ 4:06 pm

  16. Well I’m glad you came back Dean! And I’m glad you found the Thang.

    Regarding judging talents on the alternative scale you mention (ie by how well we can see God in our fellow persons), I think that has merit.

    So my question to you is: If these “uneducated/poor Peruvians and Bolivians on the Altiplano” indeed possessed levels of charity that were greater than yours do you think that is a result of them being poor Peruvians (ie their environment) or the result of some innate spiritual righteousness (ie God sends the most righteous spirits to poor Peruvian families so they just chose to be charitable and would have no matter where they were raised) or that they just happend to be more charitable than you see yourelf as being? Also, do you think all of them were more charitable than you or just some of them?

    PS — The young’n’s are doing wonderfully. I hope your family is propsering in your new state as well!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 7, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

  17. Dean, Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt, I think you’re doing very well at this form of communication!

    Here’s another quote from Pres. Kimball that came to mind when I read your comment:
    “The Savior could have taken highly trained minds from the temple porches for the builders of his kingdom. But he went to the seashore to get humble fishermen. He wanted followers who would not depend upon their own intellects alone to ferret out truths. He wanted unbiased followers who were trusting, sincere, and willing to serve. There were many trained and educated Jews in Jerusalem who rationalized themselves completely out of a testimony and a rich spiritual life. Though Jesus was among them and they could see his miracles and hear his words, those scribes and Pharisees failed to recognize him as the Redeemer because they relied only on their mental processes. ”
    My only intent was to say that what you are pointing out and what Geoff is saying are two aspects of the same gospel and not mutually exclusive. No offense meant to mothers of 6 (I stopped at 5!)

    Comment by C Jones — December 7, 2005 @ 4:50 pm

  18. C Jones, Thanks for the great quote.

    Geoff, I don’t know the answers to your questions, however I suspect it may have more to do with us and less to with the Peruvians. In many ways we’re messed up. The BofM speaks much about this. The people on Tequile Island in the middle of Lake Titicaca really needed and relied on each other. They had to in order to survive comfortably. I think all the Peruvians I associated saw life more simply and clearer than me. No doubt there are some Peruvians as messed up as me.

    Comment by Dean — December 8, 2005 @ 1:22 am

  19. This post has made me think about why I startes browsing these types of sites a few weeks ago. It certainly was not for the entertainment value. It was something that I felt that I ought to do. My membership in the church was becoming a little stale, and I needed a reminder of how meaningful our doctrines and beliefs are. Since doing these things I have been reading the scriptures more – and more purposfully. And also praying more. It has had its benefits.

    Comment by Eric — December 9, 2005 @ 5:23 am

  20. Geoff, I read most of the posting at this site and enjoy reading what everyone has to say (write) about a particular topic which leads me into my first comment. It has been my experience through life that when I am required to write something down a larger portion of my brain muscles are exercised than when I engage in a verbal discussion. More thought, more pondering are required from writing than conversation to insure the ‘correct’ message is conveyed. This brings me to my second comment, that President Hinckley stated we should be doing more pondering and meditating when we read the scriptures–>so one way to help increase our pondering about doctrinal understanding is to participate in communication through a media that requires participants to write.
    Enough of preamble tangential comments. To the heart of your posting. In my heart I have always felt that Matt. 25 will be one of the ‘eternal metrics’ of how much we know God and how much we have changed (our countance) to become like Him. The characteristic which transcends culture, race, background, situation, knowledge, worldly wealth, etc. is charity. When we ‘truely’ have charity, when we truely possess it, it will be well with us,(Moroni7) and we will have the ‘eyes’, the ‘ears’ and the ‘heart’ to see, to hear and to feel as Christ does all of us. It is all about ‘the who’ we know, it is all about ‘who we want to become one with’ and it is all about ‘the who’ we love more than life itself. What a wonderful time of the year it is to remind us how we should all year long from charity and service.

    Keep up the good discussions, be not afraid, have faith.

    P.S. My wife is a mother of our 6 children, (5 are married), 13 grandchildren, plus 1 adopted son from Russia. She does not participate in these postings but we discuss these topics together and she is blessed with tremendous insights from the spirit. She claims to me that her dealings with the Spirit and her insights come to a large degree from her activities as a mother and grandmother and not from ‘book learning’.

    Comment by Mac McKeen — December 9, 2005 @ 10:53 am

  21. Thanks for the excellent insights, Mac. I have discovered the same thing about the extra thinking and pondering required when putting my thoughts in writing. It is sort of like recording the music I have played — when I know it is being recorded the standards automatically are raised. I have discovered that writing my thoughts down has gotten much easier now that the Thang has been live for a year though. I guess those particuler “brain muscles” are getting in better shape. I think that is a very good thing for me.

    Your other points are very well taken too. I think we agree that knowing God is the goal but also that there are various ways that each of us can work toward that goal. I feel like right now the discussions we have at this blog are helping me with my goal of serving and knowing God better so I’m keeping at it until that changes.

    I look forward to more of your insights in the future!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  22. I’m a first time visitor and have been reading for several hours. I’m really impressed with the amount of thought that posters are putting into their posts.

    I have a few thoughts about the subject of this thread. I believe that there are several reasons that people find it difficult to get answers from God. I know many of these are obvious but here they are:

    1. Self doubt. My brother in law is the most righteous person I know, yet he finds it difficult to get answers while he is praying. I am referring to yes/no answers, and thoughts that come from God answers. Yet when he is on his tractor he will get very specific “thoughts that come from God answers.” Accompanied by feelings of the Holy Ghost.

    2. Unwillingness to do whatever God wants. This one is pretty straight forward, I think we often block the answer that God wants to give us because we don’t want to hear it.

    3. Keeping a sin shelf. This is similar to number 2 we keep certain sins on the self and decide that we won’t try any more on those sins. It is my experience that as long as we are striving to keep all of Gods commandments even though we may be imperfect we are still worthy of spiritual gifts. It’s the person who has a sin shelf that is going to have a difficult time with the ongoing revelation that most members are looking for. “For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do…”. (D&C 46:9) I love the wording of this verse because it gives so much hope. My take on it is that spiritual gifts are not just for those who perfectly keep all of the commandments, but also for those who “seeketh so to do”.

    4. Misunderstanding D&C 9. Many members are looking only for a burning in the bosom and ignore the other ways that the spirit can cause us to feel like tingling, calm peaceful, floating etc. (1975 ensign on prayer) Figuring out the basics of the D&C 9 technique of getting yes/no answers is a great foundation for all of us.

    5. Limiting revelation to the Temple. If we expect to get revelation at the temple then we program ourselves to only expect to easily get it there. If we expect to get revelation at home then it can be just as easy for us to get it there.

    6. Being content with your current spiritual gifts and not being open to what else God has available.

    7. Discounting the possibility of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

    8. Plain old doubt. Successful revelation experiences create more confidence which makes it easier to get another revelation. It’s really kind of circular. It’s a classic kind of catch 22.

    Dean said:

    “These indirect divine communications are all many people have to hang on to and in the end, it’s all they probably really need. Maybe this is the “real dialogue with God,””

    This is the reality of most members. I just disagree with the idea that “it’s all they probably really need”.

    Comment by Matt C — February 27, 2006 @ 7:30 pm

  23. Matt C,

    Welcome to the Thang and thanks for your excellent addition to this thread. I agree with your sentiments.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 27, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.