Hidden Treasure in a Bookstore


Browsing in a bookstore, I happened across a book entitled The Feminine Face of God. I was drawn to it and opened it up. Inside, I found a treasure that I cannot keep to myself. A Jewish woman, Sherry Ruth Anderson, recounts a powerful dream she had. It’s a little long, the full version of the dream is here

In the dream, she describes entering a temple, where she meets Melchizedek. In the temple she finds a special Torah:

I am dumbfounded by what I see. Rolled onto finely carved wooden poles is the most sacred object in Judaism, the Torah. I have never actually seen a Torah close up or held one, since these privileges were permitted only to men when I was growing up. But now I lift this Torah carefully out of its cabinet and cradle it to me tenderly as if it were a baby.
Then I notice something unusual. Instead of a mantle of velvet covering the scrolls, or a simple ribbon holding them closed, the Torah has been sealed shut by a dark round blot of red wax. I look at Melchizedek. “This is a very special Torah,” he says. Pulling out his dagger, he breaks the seal and rolls open the scrolls. They are absolutely blank. “The Torah is empty,” he says, “because what you need to know now is not written in any book. You already contain that knowledge. It is to be unfolded from within you.”
“What is this Torah for?” I ask.
My question seems to set in motion the next sequence of events. Without speaking Melchizedek lifts the Torah and lightly places it inside my body, from my shoulders to my knees. I accept this gratefully, feeling my body as a sacred vessel.
At once, a great commotion breaks out behind us. Spinning around, I see that the room is now filled with long-bearded patriarchs wearing black coats and trousers. They’re holding hands, laughing, singing, and dancing jubilantly around the room. They pull me into their celebration. As I dance I seem to see Moses, Kind David and King Solomon, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They, too, are dressed in black coats and trousers, dancing with such heartfelt abandonment that I catch their joy and am filled with it. Ecstatically we whirl round and round the room, laughing.
Finally the dancing stops and I ask, “What is this all about?” Melchizedek answers, “We are celebrating because you, a woman, have consented to accept full spiritual responsibility in your life. This is your initiation as one who will serve the planet.”
As I wonder what this means, he continues, “And you are not the only one. Many, many women are coming forward now to lead the way.”
“But who will be our teachers?” I protest.
“You will be teachers for each other. You will come together in circles and speak your truth to each other. The time has come for women to accept their spiritual responsibility for our planet.”
“Will you help us?” I ask the assembled patriarchs.
“We are your brothers,” they answer, and with that the entire room is flooded with an energy of indescribable kindness. I am absolutely confident in this moment that they are our brothers. I feel their love
without any question. They say then, “We have initiated you and we give you our wholehearted blessings. But we no longer know the way. Our ways do not work anymore. You women must find a new way.”
I was moved to tears by this dream. Something in it pierced straight to my soul. I love the image of the old patriarchs dancing with joy that women are ready to join them. This dream contained potent images of how things could be.

What might it mean for us as women to accept full spiritual responsibility for our lives and our planet? How can we speak our truth and trust our own authority to know the way?

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  1. Caroline says:

    AmyB,
    I love that passage as well. I think my favorite part is when the patriarchs say “We are your brothers”, connoting equality and loving family kindness, rather than “We are your leaders” which would connote the kind of hierarchy that is so pervasive in our own faith tradition.

    I think there are some LDS women who would strongly feel that they have accepted full spiritual responsibility for their lives and their planet. (And I can’t discount the validity of that feeling for them.) Personally, I would love to feel like that, but for me, I think I would need to be fully incorporated into the priesthood ranks to fully feel that same empowerment and responsibility that the woman in the passage felt by the end.

    As for learning to speak my truth and trust in my own authority, it’s been a long road, and I certainly have not figured it all out yet. I think forums like this blog are one important way women can communicate and indeed minister to each other outside official church forums. And having that opportunity to express our own thoughts, concerns, and insights is invaluable.

    Learning to trust in my own authority? That’s also been difficult, since I was raised thinking that institutional leaders were always speaking for God. Now I think they are doing the best they can, but it’s my spiritual responsibility to think about it and come up with my own conclusions. Over the years, I’ve become more and more comfortable simply trusting in my own conscience and holding myself accountable to that (the vast majority of which is compatable with Christian principles). I think that if I can live my life in a Christian way, following my own conscience (authority) I’ll probably be ok in the end.

  2. Tracy M says:

    Personally, I would love to feel like that, but for me, I think I would need to be fully incorporated into the priesthood ranks to fully feel that same empowerment and responsibility that the woman in the passage felt by the end.

    But the preisthood the men hold has always been for men. It blesses us all, but only is held by men. In the dream, she is told to find her own way. The men are joyous because she is accepting her own responsibility- why would she yearn for what the men have? She is being told HER ways are just as valid, even thought they will surly be different.

  3. Caroline says:

    Tracy M,
    I read it differently. I considered it a “new” way since since she would be a woman joining their ranks as humans ready to take full responsibility for themselves and the world. I also read it as a woman being initiated into the ranks of the patriarchs.

    Though the fact that the Torah that is bestowed upon her is blank does make it seem like her woman-ness would make it a different experience for her and other women than it has been for the patriarchs of the past.

  4. Caroline says:

    “But the preisthood the men hold has always been for men.”

    Most LDS would certainly agree with you, but there is some debate about it. There is a fabulous book called “When Women Were Priests” that argues powerfully that women in the early Christian church (even during the time of Paul) were indeed priests. Greek words in the New Testament support this, as a woman is referred to as an “apostle” and another is referred to as a “priest.” (Though King James translators called the latter a “deaconess”). And there are several other arguments for it that I won’t get into here.

    As for women and priesthood in our own LDS tradition, there is some debate about that too. Famous Mormon historian Michael Quinn wrote an article called “Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843”. Apparently, many early LDS women considered the endowment ceremony as the moment at which they were endowed with the priesthood, and even into the 20th century, MOrmon women were quite comfortable saying that they held the priesthood (in conjunction with their husbands). Now the rhetoric has clearly shifted. The language now is that men hold the priesthood, but all get its blessings.

  5. AmyB says:

    The men are joyous because she is accepting her own responsibility- why would she yearn for what the men have? She is being told HER ways are just as valid, even thought they will surly be different

    I agree and disagree. There is something to the idea of a “new way” for me. Melchizedek does not pat her on the head and tell her to be content with the way things are. She enters the temple and goes where only men have gone before. In the part of the dream I left out, Melchizedek gives her a dagger that is just like his. To me that is symbolic that they have equal power.

    Like Caroline, I loved the equality implied when the men dance with joy and with love and kindness call themselves her brothers.

    The blank Torah says to me that woman must write and tell her own story, and that story is as sacred a text as the one written by men.

    I’m not sure what I think about women having the priesthood as it is presently constituted. I do think that women’s voices need to be equally heard, and their wisdom equally valued, and with the current institutional framework that is not the case.

    Another passage in the book said this: “We must listen to the deep source of wisdom within ourselves and tell the truth about our lives and what we are learning. This means questioning everything we have been taught or taken for granted that is not validated by our own experience. Simply by asking one key question, Is this true for me? about each “truth” we hear, we challenge ourselves to become what we truly are.” That’s a helpful concept for me on my spiritual journey and as I try to find my own authority and follow my own conscience.

  6. Tracy M says:

    Amy B
    I heartily agree with your entire comment. And that is exactly why I feel we (women) don’t need the preisthood. We can have equal standing with the Lord and with ourselves- the Torah is blank- pretty symbollic. The knife may very well be Equality, however, as far as I know, Equal does not have to be The Same.

  7. Tracy M says:

    And…
    The preisthood blesses us all- it isn’t a stretch that whatever the measure is for women will also equally bless up all. It almost seems like we might be missing out on what the Lord specifically has for us (the blank Torah) if we simply yearn for what the men have. That would indeed be a loss for us all.

  8. AmyB says:

    Tracy M, What do you envision for women’s equal participation? I agree that equal doesn’t mean the same. I think we as women need to find our own unique spiritual path.

    I’m not sure I agree that women don’t need the priesthood. I have mixed feelings, because the priesthood as organized in the church currently is still very heirarchical. I’m not convinced that it is the ideal system. So I personally don’t want to say that women should have the priesthood or should not have it.

    Caroline, I agree that forums like this blog are excellent places where we as women can communicate and minister to each other. This is a place where we can speak our truths and learn from each other. It’s a step in the search for a “new way.”

  9. Tracy M says:

    You know, I’m not convinced that what we have is the ideal either. I like the symbolism of the blank Torrah, meaning it’s up to each of us to fill it. I don’t know what that means for other women, as I’m not sure what it even means for myself yet. And of course we are speaking in theological metaphores, here.

    But I do feel what understanding we have here, now, IS imperfect, like everything else of the world.

  10. mullingandmusing says:

    It almost seems like we might be missing out on what the Lord specifically has for us (the blank Torah) if we simply yearn for what the men have.

    I think this is absolutely true. I am saddened by things like this that indicate that women are missing what IS and what we have and are NOW.

    This is a place where we can speak our truths and learn from each other. It’s a step in the search for a “new way.”

    A new way? “Our” truths? What if they are not actually truths? What if the truth is all around you already, and you are missing it? (We all do this to some degree because we are mortal, so I’m not trying to be condescending — but there is LIGHT and TRUTH in what we have NOW!) Just because you don’t feel it at this point doesn’t mean its not there to feel. Why would only a fraction of women be dissatisfied if things were wrong? It makes no sense to me. This isn’t the way God works, sisters. He works through His order, so we can know the truth is indeed from Him!

    God is inviting us as women to be part of the work NOW. Women have been helping write the history of the world, and continue to do so. Women are contributing all over the world in the Church as well. The patriarchs of old and our leaders now ARE our brothers. But our own authority is only as valid as it is in alignment with God’s authority through His authorized servants, however. Our leaders and the priesthood will NEVER take a back seat to women. That is not the way God works. We will be partners in this work, partners in our home. (Not that we couldn’t “take over” — but that is precisely why I think men have the priesthood, so THEY can be parpticipants — no, so we can be participants TOGETHER!) Any other arrangement just takes us back to pre-Restoration days when people and churches were walking in their own paths…doing the best they could but without authorized doctrine, ordinances and teachings. This all makes me feel like you want to turn your back on all of that. Or am I missing something?

    (It all makes me want to weep, quite frankly.)

  11. AmyB says:

    Whew, mullingandmusing, that’s quite a visceral reaction you seem to be having. In a way I envy you that you can be content and happy with the way things are now. I respect that this is your path and that for you things are as they should be.

    I suspect there are a growing number of women who are dissatisfied. Our voices are silenced and many leave, so it is hard to have an accurate picture of the reality.

    And perhaps I am turning my back on those things you find so important. I am agnostic about the absolute need for “authorized doctrine, ordinances and teaching.” I am trying to work out my spirituality and my relationship to divinity with integrity, and that has led me down a much different path than I could have anticipated.

  12. Tam says:

    “…Our leaders and the priesthood will NEVER take a back seat to women.”

    Mullingsandmusings, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that men should take a back seat to women. Rather, I think some of us feel that women have been placed in the back seat (not by church leaders, but by centuries-old societal norms) and we would like to come up to the front seat and work as partners, as you suggest.

    I agree with you that there is light and truth here now – that’s why I am a member of the LDS church. To be a part of the restored gospel is exciting and invigorating. But I don’t see the restoration as complete. “The work” has many facets, and continuing the process of restoring lost knowledge and accepting new, never-before-revealed truth is a vital part of it. Truth and knowledge can only come as fast as the saints are ready to accept it.

    “…Why would only a fraction of women be dissatisfied if things were wrong? It makes no sense to me.”

    I think it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Truth rarely is suddenly given to large groups of people. It starts small, with a few voices, and the number of people who accept the truth gradually grows larger. That’s how the gospel has grown from the start. And like AmyB, I see the fraction of women (and men) growing who see the vision of greater potential and opportunity for women. I don’t see it as a bad or threatening thing – it’s a positive, good thing.

    I’m glad you are comfortable with the way things are and find joy in that. But I find joy in my course, too – I’m simply going where the Spirit leads me. I don’t feel that I’m turning my back on anything. It feels more like opening my arms wide to embrace whatever the Lord has in store for us.

    Please don’t weep. We’re all friends and sisters (and brothers) even with our divergent perspectives.

  13. mullingandmusing says:

    Truth and knowledge can only come as fast as the saints are ready to accept it.

    Of course, but truth and knowledge doesn’t necessarily conform to what we want. Truth and knowledge doesn’t necessarily correpond with social norms and mores, and I suspect there will be a continuing gap between God’s truth and culture’s “truth.”

    I think it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Truth rarely is suddenly given to large groups of people. It starts small, with a few voices, and the number of people who accept the truth gradually grows larger.

    This is only partly true. The church has grown from a few to many, but not based on grassroots ideals. It was based on revelation from God, to prophets, taught to others who accept it as the Spirit confirms the truth. Truth comes to a now-large group of people through the prophet. Truth doesn’t come to a prophet from a small group of people.

    And like AmyB, I see the fraction of women (and men) growing who see the vision of greater potential and opportunity for women.

    In a sense, though, I don’t really see how much that “vision” matters. Ultimately, it’s not the lay members’ job to have a vision. That’s the prophets’ job. Not that they don’t listen or care, but there are certain things that are just not gonna change. Besides, if change comes, again, there is an order for that. It’s always been that way…revelations, vision, etc. come ultimately through prophets, not pockets of people being unhappy waiting for prophets to die off so a “new generation” can change things. (This may not be your feeling, but some of what I’m responding to is that attitude I hear often in the ‘nacle.)

    It feels more like opening my arms wide to embrace whatever the Lord has in store for us.

    That’s great — but remember, “what He has in store for us” will come through His mouthpieces. And it may not be what you want. Will you embrace it anyway? That’s my question…is if people are waiting for things to change in the way the small pockets of people want them to, and they don’t, what then? That’s why I talk about being happy now. Because waiting for something that may never happen is really not a very healthy way to live. At least not a very happy one.

    And a couple of people mention “finding joy in their own path.” I guess my confusion with that is that on many blogs these days, I don’t hear joy, but instead disgruntled, “I need to find others who aren’t happy with the way things are too so we can commisurate” kinds of attitudes. That doesn’t sound joyful to me. That’s some of where my desire to weep comes. Most of the time, in these kinds of conversations, I hear more angst and anger than joy. But maybe you are different, and, if that’s the case, I am grateful. Does that make sense?

    Please don’t weep. We’re all friends and sisters (and brothers) even with our divergent perspectives.

    Yes, so true. But when my sisters (esp. my sisters) are unhappy, then I am sad as well.

  14. mullingandmusing says:

    And perhaps I am turning my back on those things you find so important. I am agnostic about the absolute need for “authorized doctrine, ordinances and teaching.”

    AmyB, this helps me understand you better, so thanks for clarifying. For me, the Church and the Restoration are inextricably tied to prophetic guidance, consistent doctrine and priesthood ordinances. So, yes, that is probably one place where our “paths” diverge. And as happy I am that you still want to be LDS (? I’m assuming), I have a hard time understanding what there really is left to call LDS when those things are stripped. Maybe you can help me there…?

  15. Caroline says:

    Tam said:
    “I see the fraction of women (and men) growing who see the vision of greater potential and opportunity for women.”

    Tam, I love your use of the word ‘vision.’ It reminds me that prophecy is a gift of the spirit available to any human.

    Tam said:
    “But I find joy in my course, too – I’m simply going where the Spirit leads me. I don’t feel that I’m turning my back on anything. It feels more like opening my arms wide to embrace whatever the Lord has in store for us.”

    I think this is beautifully stated. We’re all doing our best and following where we think God wants us to go. Those paths may look different for different people, and I think that kind of diversity is fantastic.

    And incidentally, I also feel like I’m on this journey where I’m opening myself up to finding God in all sorts of different people and places. It feels really neat to begin to understand that God is so much bigger than I thought he was.

  16. EmilyCC says:

    Mullingandmusing, I do think members have a responsibility to have a vision of what we want the Church to be. How else do we know what we’re working towards? I agree that it’s not my job to implement my vision of having chocolate instead of bread during the sacrament and getting myself the priesthood. My vision isn’t perfect, but it also contains “bigger” things I want to see happen, e.g. loving each other on a ward & world-Church level). If I didn’t have a vision about the Church, imperfect as it is, I guess I’d have a hard time finding a context for my vision of myself as a better person.

    On a personal note, my answer to prayer about women having the priesthood was to learn to be at peace with not having it and to “find a new way” to serve. Finding that new way and getting that answer was not joyful or easy, but those experiences helped me to grow and ultimately, find joy.

    I know others who have asked that same question and gotten very different answers from mine. Some don’t get answers for a long time and have to keep working, some answers lead to more questions about the Church, some have been told to leave the Church. I can’t judge or think their answers are any less valid than mine. Since we all lead such different lives, it only makes sense to me that we have different spiritual responsibilities.

    I appreciate these comments. They’ve forced me to think a lot tonight!

  17. Bored in Vernal says:

    M&M–I have read enough of your posts to see where you are coming from, and I am glad that you are finding joy in your path. I just wonder if you have seen any instances of injustice in the way women are treated in the name of the priesthood. It’s hard not to want to work hard for change when you’ve experienced some real problems. And I’m feeling that your trust in the sanctity of priesthood leadership is closing your eyes to what possibilities might be open to empowered women within the bounds of orthodox LDS belief.

    I’m wondering: What do you do with the scripture in Joel 2:28 if you believe that all revelation in the church in the Latter days will come through prophets or authorized leaders?

    And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions

    PS I know the difference between personal revelation and revelation for the Church. What I want to point out is that women are receiving revelations for themselves and being overrided by church authority. To me, this negates their spiritual power and the above verse.

    I would be interested in knowing some ways that you would respond to spiritual abuse by a priesthood leader. (Would you just take it, feeling that his authority comes from God? Would you try to go up the line to a higher authority? Would you be able to express dissent in any way, and in what ways would that be?)

    I love this post and agree that women must find their own way to spiritual empowerment and responsibility, which will be different than the way men have done it through the priesthood. I feel the need for other women’s ideas and insights although I have a testimony of a living prophet.

  18. Deborah says:

    First, welcome to the world of posting, AmyB! We are so glad you’ve consented to join us in this crazy endeavor — in some ways, writing for this blog has helped me write on my Torah scroll, if by that we mean our own sacred life path. Like Tracy, I think it’s a beautiful image with many possibilities.

    I am intrigued by dreams and the messages, archetypes, undiscovered emotions that can crop up in them. Susan Monk Kidd (author of “The Secret Life of Bees” and wife of a minister) wrote a book called “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” where she chronicles her path toward a feminine divine. Much of her personal journey is marked by fascinating dreams. The dream you mention feels a bit like the “call” of the hero’s journey. I’m increasingly inclined to try to view this life as such a journey, behooving us to listen for calls, welcome unexpected mentors, and develop the courage necessary for whatever our path may be. What I like about Sherry Ruth Anderson’s dream is the deep spiritual heritage which “visits” her almost in celebration of who she can become.

  19. Tam says:

    Wow, so many interesting ideas.

    Mullingsandmusings – so much of what I might have said in response to you has already been said by those who didn’t go to bed early like I did 🙂

    But there is one thing I want to make clear to you. Although I see inconsistencies and contradictions in the way the gospel is currently presented and taught, I see more positives in the church than negatives. I am very happy NOW in my life and with my membership in the church. I may feel disgruntled at times, but that is not my overriding emotion.

    And although I can be happy at this moment, that doesn’t mean I can’t look ahead, and it doesn’t mean I can’t do the work to help things move ahead. I do not believe it is the role of the general church membership to sit and wait for the prophet to speak. What a horrible burden that would place on the man! It is through our personal prayers, reaching, and searching that we become ready for what the prophet will say. In fact, it is only when we are ready to accept a truth that God will reveal a truth through His servants.

    It’s interesting to look at the beginnings of the church. Joseph Smith didn’t just have the idea that there had to be a “true church” revealed to him out of the blue. He was taught this idea by his family members from previous generations. The reason his father wasn’t baptized into any religion is because he recognized that none of them were God’s church. Joseph Smith Sr. already new – and there was no prophet around to tell him. As Joseph began the work of the restoration, time and time again he encountered people (men and women) would had had experiences (dreams, visions, chance encounters, etc.) that had prepared them to accept Joseph’s words. They also knew that God had more in store for them and the world, without a prophet to tell them. In a sense, it was based on grassroots ideals. Knowledge came first to a group of people before it came through a prophet. It is often the way it works. I think that was the case when priesthood ordination was opened to black men – much unrest within the church membership with the racist teachings of the church. It was an inconsistency that has now been righted.

    Finding truth is not a passive process. It takes work, work that is often uncomfortable as we encounter unfamiliar ideas. I agree with you completely that truth will not conform to what we want. Can you understand that many women would love it if they could feel the contentment you do? But there is a voice inside of us that tells us not to be content – and we have been taught how to recognize the source of that voice. It is the voice of God – how can we turn our backs on that?

    Because this is a living church (D&C 1:30), change is inevitable. I can’t say which course the changes will take as God reveals the promised “many great and important things” (AofF #9). But in answer to your question, yes, I will accept what comes – that’s why my arms are open wide. For me, the bigger question is, will you? 🙂

    Yikes – my response is too long. Thanks AmyB for the original post. It was a beautiful experience had by Ms. Anderson and the comments it has prompted have been very insightful.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Knowledge came first to a group of people before it came through a prophet. It is often the way it works. I think that was the case when priesthood ordination was opened to black men – much unrest within the church membership with the racist teachings of the church. It was an inconsistency that has now been righted.

    What is your source or sources for this, please? Thank you.

  21. Heather P. says:

    This dream is the prologue to Women & Authority.

    I’m still thinking about this concept of full spiritual responsibility.

  22. AmyB says:

    Tam,

    Thank you for your comments. I like your image of arms wide open ready to embrace further light and truth. I can’t help but think there is so much more out there for us, and we won’t be ready if we are not open.

    Deborah,

    Thanks for your perspective on the hero’s journey. I believe that dream was what ended up prompting Ms. Anderson to do the research she did and write the book, so it certainly was some sort of call. I’ve put Dance of the Dissident Daughter on my list to read. Oh, and thank you for the welcome. I’m looking forward to this experience as part of my spiritual journey.

    Heather,

    Thanks for that link. It makes me want to read Women and Authority. It appears I wasn’t the only one moved by that narrative, if they felt fit to reprint it there. So many books to add to my list!

  23. mullingandmusing says:

    (This will be long…respnding to various comments/questions)…. 🙂

    Mullingandmusing, I do think members have a responsibility to have a vision of what we want the Church to be. How else do we know what we’re working towards?

    Of course, but I think we may have different definitions of what that vision should entail. The vision I have has nothing to do with roles of men and women changing, nor of the order of things changing. There is plenty to look toward and pray for independent of these issues. That is what I was addressing…I was not downplaying the importance of vision, but I believe that vision should be consistent with prophetic and scriptural guidance.

    And I’m feeling that your trust in the sanctity of priesthood leadership is closing your eyes to what possibilities might be open to empowered women within the bounds of orthodox LDS belief.

    Thanks for the concern, but I a firm believer in the women of the Church as well. I also believe in the order of the Church. Empowered women can do much, and I believe that. I just don’t think things need to change for that to happen. Individual priesthood holders may not have that understanding yet, but that doesn’t discount the structure and order. I believe there is a reason for the order the way it is, and I see women doing marvelous things within that order. I rejoice in that. Sheri Dew gave a great talk on this once. You can find it here.

    M&M–I have read enough of your posts to see where you are coming from, and I am glad that you are finding joy in your path. I just wonder if you have seen any instances of injustice in the way women are treated in the name of the priesthood.

    Yes, I have. This is a completely valid concern, but not one that should be addressed by wanting the whole structure to change. You also ask later what I would do if I saw that kind of injustice. I would talk to the priesthood leader directly or, if necessary, a presiding leader. I have talked to a priesthood leader when I was uncomfortable with something that happened. I have also tried to help a friend with a situation that was appearing problematic with a leader of hers. I have encouraged her to use the appropriate channels, but would not hesistate to escalate as far up as necessary if that need arose. That said, I think sometimes there is the perception of an offense where none is intended. Sometimes women are the ones who need to change their attitudes and behavior to help the priesthood work as it should.

    I’m wondering: What do you do with the scripture in Joel 2:28 if you believe that all revelation in the church in the Latter days will come through prophets or authorized leaders?

    Revelation FOR the church comes through its leaders. I never meant to imply that all revelation always comes through our leaders. Each member can receive revelation for his or her stewardship(s).

    Consider this from Elder Perry:
    Sometimes we define the communication of God’s will as revelation. Sometimes we refer to such communication as inspiration. Revelation, however, is a much broader term. While inspiration can properly be considered as revelation, revelation can also include visions, dreams, the spoken word, or other spiritual manifestations. Elder Talmage explained:

    “Revelation signifies the making known of divine truth by communication from the heavens….”…

    There is order in the way the Lord reveals His will to mankind. We all have the right to petition the Lord and receive inspiration through His Spirit within the realm of our own stewardship. Parents can receive revelation for their own family, a bishop for his assigned congregation, and on up to the First Presidency for the entire Church. However, we cannot receive revelation for someone else’s stewardship. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

    “It is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves.” 3

    “Revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the [First] Presidency. This is the order of heaven…. It is also the privilege of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates to his particular calling and duty in the Church.”

    I have never read that scripture you mentioned to mean that individuals can go their own way away from what the prophets teach, nor is it their place to try to change the way things are done. It IS possible to receive “false” revelation as well. I cannot judge others’ choices, and I believe in God’s mercy as we struggle to exercise our agency, but if someone says they receive revelation that is blatantly against the prophets’ teachings, and on something significant, I would have a hard time not wondering if that person was listening to the right voices. But I cannot judge. All I can do is say that my personal approach is to follow the prophets. Period. (That isn’t done blindly or without study and pondering and prayer. The Spirit simply continues to confirm and reconfirm to me that they are leading us in the right way.)

    That approach does not in any way prevent spiritual gifts as listed in that scripture in Joel. They can abound while still maintaining the order of the Church. Prophecy, dreams, etc. aren’t just about leading the Church. They can be received for personal, family and other stewardships.

    But in answer to your question, yes, I will accept what comes – that’s why my arms are open wide. For me, the bigger question is, will you? 🙂

    If what is to come comes through authorized channels, then I will accept it. However, I personally do not see the bloggernacle as the finger on the pulse of what is to come. 🙂 In fact, I think sometimes things in the ‘nacle are missing the boat. I am left not knowing quite what to say when someone says s/he feels God is guiding her/him to be discontented. As a general comment, I also don’t put a lot of trust in such discontent if it’s associated with criticism of or discontent with our leaders. Such discontent doesn’t gel with me, doesn’t “feel right”…but that’s also a reflection of what I’m feeling. I tend to believe that women can find contentment with things as they are now (not saying that will always be easy). That can’t come by wishing things to be different, though — it comes by accepting things as they are in faith. At least that has been my experience, and the experience of many, many women. In short, I’m still a little confused by this “discontent” thing, to be frank. So, I suppose that’s probably a point where we have to let things go and realize our experiences differ. And wait and see how things unfold. 🙂

  24. Dora says:

    “that’s probably a point where we have to let things go and realize our experiences differ. And wait and see how things unfold.”

    I think this is a wise idea. I believe that most of the commenters here are speaking from intensely personal experiences, and are not likely to be swayed by arguments that attack (intended or not) or dismiss their point of view or past spiritual experience.

  25. mullingandmusing says:

    I am sorry if my comments felt like an attack, Dora.

  26. Dora says:

    M&M, I don’t feel attacked by you. However, sometimes I feel that taking the offensive on issues like these can be incredibly counterproductive. I understand that you are passionate about spiritual matters, but sometimes I fear that the expression of that passion may have the opposite effect from what is desired. When it comes to spiritual matters, I think that gentle persuasion works best.

  27. Kiskilili says:

    I really love the idea that the Torah scroll is blank, or that past precedent need not play a role in the way future policies are crafted.

    M&M, for some of us it’s just impossible to find contentment with the way things currently are. Sorry. 😉 There are times in the Church when I feel obligated to choose between accepting what the Church teaches and my own self-respect. I choose my self-respect.

  28. mullingandmusing says:

    Kiskilili,
    I’m sorry, too. 🙂 I found myself at the temple roll on Saturday wishing I could put everyone’s name on who is struggling with this. I hope someday you will find peace with it all.
    With love,
    Michelle

  29. mullingandmusing says:

    Dora,
    I read through my posts again and I am sorry for coming across so strong. This is clearly a hot-button topic for me. I can’t apologize for my feelings, but I think I see how I might tone things down a little. Or maybe just not say anything. 🙂

  30. Lucy says:

    I love this passage and the feeling of equality. The blank Torah also reminds me that the history of woman has been left blank. When I read scripture, I am reminded that the stories told are those of men and I am often left wondering about the women and their personal experiences with God.

  31. AmyB says:

    Lucy,

    I wish we had more stories of women too. I’ve recently become intrigued with Theresa of Avila. I think there are some women’s stories out there in other traditions. The Catholics seem to have plenty of female saints.

    I also like this forum where we can come together and share our own stories. There is something compelling and powerful for me in finding circles of women where we share our stories and ourselves.

  32. Kiskilili says:

    Thanks, Michelle (M&M). I genuinely appreciate your concern and your thoughtfulness.

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