God the Mother in the Making: The Divine Poems of Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s “Mother’s Milk”

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Mother’s Milk: Poems in search of Heavenly Mother

by Rachel Hunt Steenblik, with illustrations by Ashley Mae Hoiland

190 pages

©BCC Press, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“At certain point in my life (after my mortal death), I was with him. I wasn’t with him for the first time—or even for the second or millionth time—it was more that I became aware that he had always been a presence within an absence—sometimes a little less absent, sometimes a little more present. I could make him out in vague outline, sometimes starkly explicit, sometimes blurry and inchoate. But what I could perceive I perceived with intimate familiarity, my perception precisely proportionate with the extent that I had come to know him and recognize him in life. (Mother was there, too, I felt certain. But I could not see her. Only later—much later—did I realize that this was because I did not know her.)”

Arrayed in Silence, I Gave Him Nothing: An Apologue of an Encounter with the Almighty God

Mormons often search for a female deity in much the same way that god-haunted, lapsed theists long for the once all-encompassing presence of the divine: the “evidence” for both appears slim to none when viewed through a certain lens, yet the longing is sure and wide.  Continue reading

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The Protocol of Suffering and the Grace of Love

Battlestar

There’s a scene near the end of (the most recent version of) Battlestar Galactica where one of the main characters (Caprica) has a miscarriage. Overcome with grief, the father of the unborn child (Saul) goes to his friend (Bill Adama) to seek solace and comfort. “I know it’s not the same as Zak,” Saul admits to Adama. Zak was Adama’s son, who had died before the events of the series began. Adama, however, doesn’t respond with words. He simply embraces Saul and they weep together.  Continue reading

Unmournable Bodies, Unstoried People: On Why We Have Never Been All Together

The following is an adaptation and expansion of a paper I delivered at the 2017 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium, originally titled, “Without Death We Cannot Mourn, Without Mourning We Cannot Be Saved: Mormonism’s Confrontation with It’s Haunted, Invisible Body.” As I adapted the paper for publication here it meandered off in a slightly different direction, so I’ve added a good deal more (the last section is largely new), removed some parts, and tightened the language overall. It also contains some sections that can be found in other essays throughout this blog, but most of the piece is new. 

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Jesus/Christ

Mainstream Mormonism (probably unbeknownst to most Mormons) has a rather complicated—to put it lightly—relationship with the New Testament, one that is perhaps similar in some ways to common Evangelical interpretations of scripture. There, Christ is God Supreme, a supernatural, foreknowing agent who condescended to come into the world in order to save us from ourselves. This is what Atonement is in modern Mormon theology, a mechanism as much as a divine gift, whereby each one of us becomes reconciled to themselves and to God through a third party—Christ—by obedience to practices centered in covenant promises that are assigned and ratified by authorized priests. We are split personalities, one personality being the sinful person we are, and the other the personality the one we see we must become but universally lack the will or the strength to do. Sin is the failed negotiation between these two personalities, the failed merging of reality with ideal, and atonement is the bridge, the “at-one-ment” between these, creating a whole, unitary individual with a single sinless identity in Christ.  Continue reading