Why do we reverence Emma?

No, really. Why do we reverence Emma? There are plenty of other women in the early church who are admirable, yet who didn’t fall away. Why does she get such special attention and devotion?

Is it because of her close relationship with Joseph? Oliver Cowdery had a close relationship with Joseph (admittedly not as close). He fell away over doubts regarding Joseph’s call (including issues with plural marriage). And HE CAME BACK. Yet, there is not 1/5 of the time spent in discussion of Oliver Cowdery as there is of Emma (statistics made up to emphasize my point).

Is it because she is a women? One with a section of the Doctrine & Covenants devoted to her (and a couple more chastising her)? Again, there are other early church women who didn’t fall away. Why isn’t Liz Lemon Swindle being paid money to paint their posthomous portrait?

What has Emma done to get all of this good press? Why does she continue to get it now?

(ps. I’m not actually an Emma hater and I do hope those two crazy, mixed-up kids work it all out. I just don’t understand all the praise heaped upon this woman whom we all admit didn’t make the right choice in the end (assuming that we aren’t RLDS)).

The necessity of the fall?

Christian, our intrepid Evangelical friend, is asking about salvation over at his site. One of the things he mentions there (as I mulled over my as-yet non-existent response) really struck me.

# So because of our sin (both Adam’s and of our own own) we deserve to die – after all, there is no forgiveness of sin w/out the shedding of blood (Heb 10:22), and in our sin we are already dead to God (Eph 2:1). We are incapable of turning to God on our own (Rom 5:12, John 6:44). We’re in deep do-do

We’ll call this Christian’s third rule of Evangelical salvation. Go to his post to see the others.

As luck would have it, I found President Benson expressing similar sentiments:

Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon. “(Ensign, Nov 1987, 83)

And because you know that I am all about the quotes, here is a third, from the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

Here is my question: Do we actually need to feel the effects of the Fall in our life to straighten up? Can we really change our life if we don’t feel like that spider facing an immediate fiery doom?

In my life, repenting seems to come in fits and starts related to personal catastrophes, so I apparently do think that imminent destruction is helpful for one’s relationship with God. Somehow, I don’t think (the Rev. Edwards aside) that this is how it is supposed to work.

Where is our sense of urgency?

Here is a quote from an Ezra Taft Benson talk I read this morning:

[The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants] are bound together as revelations from Israel’s God for the purpose of gathering and preparing His people for the second coming of the Lord.” (Ensign, November 1986, 78)

Do you ever get the feeling that we, as a people, are not millenarian enough?

Prophetic fallibility and faith

I ran across the following quote from President Ezra Taft Benson this morning:

It would be difficult to underestimate the impact the Bible has had on the history of the world.“(Ensign, Nov 1987, 78)

I am relatively certain that this is the exact opposite of what he meant to say. An Ensign editor failed to catch it and now this error is here for you to enjoy.

The story goes that Simonds Rider left the church because Joseph Smith misspelled his name. I believe that Pres. Benson’s above error is just as inconsequential (at least for me, as I have no desire to leave the church over it). But, to be frank, I revel in these sorts of errors anyway.

Moroni, in a fit of self-consciousness, wrote the following in Ether 12:23-25:

23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

I don’t believe that I really understand his distinction between the spoken word and print as I am equally awkward in both. However, print lasts longer than any individual speech, so people have much more time to pick nits regarding what you have written. If you screw up in print, your mistake is with you for a very long time.

I like that Moroni is worried about this sort of thing; it humanizes him for me. It helps me remember two fairly important things: Only God is perfect; and, for some reason, He has chosen to implement His perfect plan through imperfect people. The relationship we share with God is equally voluntary on both ends, He chooses us as much as we choose Him (if not more so). He probably could do whatever it is that He is doing much better without us, but He thinks it is important that we play a role in His plan. This makes me happy. Even if I can never get the 12-year-olds to shut up long enough to feel the Spirit, I know that God chose clumsy, accident-prone, absent-minded, little-ol’ me to play this part in the plan. I can live with that.

Attention English Majors

A quote from www.lds.org for all you literary theorists out there:

“Salvation is not in facilities or technology, but in the word. Only in the power of the word will it impact our lives and help us to live closer to our Father in Heaven.”
—Elder L. Tom Perry
Ensign, May 2000, 25

You don’t appear to be alone.

Seven Brides for Creepy Brothers

On the grand scale of musicals that are perpetually playing in Utah, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” probably ranks third (the first two being “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Forever Plaid”). I can’t speak for when it was originally produced, by the play strikes me as exceedingly perverse. Kidnapping your potential bride is not the sort of activity we would generally expect to find in plays that the Mormons laud (even if written by Sam Shepherd). So, what is the deal?

Do Mormons love it just because it is a musical set in the West that isn’t “Paint Your Wagon”? Are we waxing nostalgic for a period when kidnapping and forced marriage could be seen as innocent fun? Or it is something more sinister?