As I was reviewing the 1991 Ensign article "Daughters of God" by Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, I began to see a correlation between Hinckley's prohibition against praying to our Mother in Heaven and the later call to "faithful agitation." The question that came to mind is are both of these challenges instead of prohibitions? Let's examine his statement in context.
In this talk/article, Hinckley is addressing the concerns of a young girl, "Virginia" who has a testimony of the Restored Gospel, but is concerned she will not make it into the Celestial Kingdom simply because she is a female. Hinckley reassures her that she will enter the Celestial Kingdom if she remains faithful to her testimony of the Gospel.
However, once he finishes addressing her concern, he moves on to a more pressing matter; expressing concern that someone has "secured" a copy of his talk delivered earlier at a meeting with regional Church representatives. He reassures them that there is nothing "sinister" being hidden from the general populace, "as if it had been given in a secret and sinister manner" and then he goes on to read a portion of that same talk concerning prayer to our Mother in Heaven. In this talk, he regards it as "inappropriate" to pray to Heavenly Mother, using first the Lord's Prayer as an example, and then moving on to the Presidents of the Church- from Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Benson. He adds, "The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her"...."of whom we have no revealed knowledge."
Inappropriate, perhaps but not explicitly forbidden?
First the declarations made in this talk are in response to some concerns being addressed by local authorities, that some had begun praying to Heavenly Mother in private prayer, a practice which made inroads into Sunday worship. The fact that Hinckley would feel pressured to tack this issue on to another similar issue and speak with the authority of the First Presidency, strikes me as odd, considering it is in response to a concern that someone had confiscated his earlier talk! Even the transition utilized in this speech doesn't quite fit, "Always let your Father in Heaven be your friend, to whom you may go in prayer...And now speaking of prayer....", as if he was trying to force a transition from one talking point to another.
Then he goes on to say, "because of the activities of a few who are evidently seeking to lead others in the path they are following....I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven." Who, I might ask, are these "others"? (as in a small pocket of feminists in the Church?) And doesn't this statement seem more reactionary than revelatory? - an attempt to try to keep the power of a few in check? Do we not see these same reactions from our leaders today regarding the women's ordination movement, among other similarly related causes? It's almost as if Hinckley is forseeing the eventual escalation of these issues, as the feminist movement grows and expands across the global Church.
Notice here that Hinckley never denies the existence of Heavenly Mother. In fact, he goes on to affirm Her existence, quoting from the familiar hymn by Eliza R. Snow. However, he points out that She has not been revealed yet, thus leaving open the door for further revelation on down the road. In keeping with Hinckley's prophetic challenge for "faithful agitation," I would like to add the charge to keep "seeking and knocking" (Matthew 7:7) so that the door to further revelation will someday be open.
And who is to say Heavenly Mother hasn't revealed Herself? We just don't have "eyes to see and ears to hear."(see Mark 8:18).
Okay, I'll admit it....I am a huge fan of Ancient Aliens. I like to call it "brain candy," as in I am not sure how much good it does for my intellect, but I can sit there and watch episode after episode for hours at a time. I am completely mesmerized! I never get tired of hearing about "ley lines" and "Puma Punku," and odd alien encounters. I have decided I never, under any circumstances, want to come in contact with a "grey." I am convinced they are demonic! Oh, and I love the dude with the crazy hair and have always been a huge fan of Kathleen McGowan, author of The Magdalene Line trilogy and widow of Phil Coppens. I was so excited to see her on the show!
Recently, I was watching the History Channel Ancient Aliens marathon, and they were talking about the power behind the number three. There is something about this number that resonates with the human psyche, whether it's the Trinity in Christian theology, Hindu Trimurti, the Greek Fates, or our distinctions between past, present and future. As a student of world religions, I understand that there is incredible power behind this number. I can also see what they were saying regarding the "third eye," (the pineal gland) but I have never considered the possibility that this may a built-in portal to a new dimension. There may very well be some truth to this. I do not think it's coincidental that Joseph Smith has been mentioned more than a few times on Ancient Aliens! (just think; people are being introduced to the Restored Gospel without even realizing it!)
Since I accepted the Restored Gospel three years ago, the truth of the Spirit world has opened up to me in ways I never even expected. I am convinced at times that there is indeed a fine line between the spirit world and the day-to-day reality in which we live, and I do not believe the two dimensions have to be mutually exclusive. Although I am not comfortable talking about specific spiritual experiences here, I now understand the reason I was so frustrated with the Baptist version of "the Gospel" for so long; it was a limited gospel that did not contain "the fulness thereof." (D&C 118:4) However, for me this "fulness" of the Gospel is not complete without Heavenly Mother. I firmly believe She alone holds this key to further revelation in this particular dispensation of time. It is in and through Her, the cycle will be complete, as women are confirmed equal partners with men as we navigate through these difficult times together. As women, we need the Gospel and the Gospel needs us. It's only biblical.
As of lately, it has astounded me how much I have been accused of being the "biblical literalist" of the Mormon feminist community, yet I openly support women's ordination, marriage equality, and yes, I worship the Goddess! Somehow I doubt the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of the world would agree with this "biblical literalist" assessment. I suppose my evangelical background will always follow me wherever I go, but is that in itself a negative thing? For the first time in my life, I am solid in my love of my Heavenly Father, and my testimony of the Savior. (see 2 Nephi 25:26). However, I also need my Mother in Heaven in order for my testimony to be made complete. (there's those mysterious "threes" again!- Heavenly Father, the Savior and Heavenly Mother!)
Oh, and I am still convinced "the greys" on Ancient Aliens are demonic!...I guess that's the evangelical in me. I hope I never see one this side of the Rapture. (joking... I don't believe in that either!)
What does it mean to “agitate faithfully”? Or perhaps a better question would be, what does it mean to be a “faithful agitator”? Is it possible to remain a faithful Mormon; yet challenge tradition at the same time, especially when it comes to the issue of women and gender equality? I would tend to think so. — Welcome to the Old Testament prophetic tradition!
Before we go any further, let me take a moment to introduce myself. I am Michelle Mormon, (not Molly!), and I am a recent convert to the Church of two years… More on that later. I am the new face behind Agitating Faithfully. I would like to take a moment to thank Dane Laverty for all he has done in setting up this website and getting it going on the right track. Dane, I hope I can live up to the faithful, prophetic legacy you have left behind! I would also like to thank you, our loyal readers, for believing in our cause and being ever-so-patient as we continue to work through this transition.
Now, let’s get back to our thoughts for the day…
What are the biblical qualifications for a prophet, or in many of our cases, a prophetess? – and within this context, we are not talking about the Prophet of the Church. A prophet(ess) must first, hear from God. Consider Isaiah and his powerful vision in chapter six (cp. II Nephi 16 -Note: his wife also prophesied alongside him!). Or consider the prophet Samuel when he heard the voice of God in the Temple after being groomed for that role from the time his mother Hannah dedicated him into the care of Eli, the High Priest — ironically this was just as the power of the Levitical Priesthood was diminishing in the land of Israel following the glory days of the Judges. Although many of us may not necessarily hear from God audibly, we know in our hearts that God has so much more in store for women than is currently realized in the Church today.
Second, a prophet(ess) must have a vision for the future and a reason for agitating, all the while remaining faithful to the Gospel. Proverbs 29: 18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but (s)he that keepeth the law; happy is (s)he.” Next, a prophet(ess) has a divine mission to challenge all that is not right, or all that does not represent justice within the current power-structures that be, and this includes religious. I could cite tons of examples from the Old Testament prophetic tradition, but perhaps the best example of this is found right in the New Testament; our Elder Brother himself, Jesus Christ (alongside Mary Magdalene, I believe), who took the teachings of the Torah (Law) and Prophets to a whole new level, and we all know his message did not set right with the Pharisees, the religious leaders at that time.
Finally, prophets are not exactly the most popular people in town, because quite simply, they tell it like it is. (Joseph Smith is the prime example! - and later Emma, if you check the history!) They are, in essence, “faithful agitators,” and they never back down; always standing firm in what they believe— using peaceful means, of course. And there is incredible strength in numbers. So, when it comes to the issue of women and the Priesthood, just think how much of an impact we – our voices, together can make! Let’s renew our commitment today to be “faithful agitators” when it comes to the issues that matter most!
Michelle Mormon (not Molly!) – with a reserved seat in the Bishop’s office!
Let me leave you with this final thought spoken by the Savior himself: “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 42