Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seeking Means of a More Full Persuasion (Svithe)

Notes 1.18-1.24

1 Nephi 19
Loving kindness and long-suffering: ironic (though mostly for those who reject him based on these things) that the attributes he's mocked and ultimately crucified for possessing here are the very things the redeemed will mention about him/praise him for in the end. The consistency of his character wins people over or pisses them off, though eventually every knee will bow and every tongue will confess his Messiahship.

Why the combination of "loving" and "kindness"? What might the opposite be? False kindness? Manipulation? Feigned love? Loving kindness, to me, suggests that the kindness has no pretense. That he extends his love without expecting anything in return, though he hopes we'll offer our souls in return. Also that the love isn't simply an abstract emotion, but that it's manifest in (small) acts of kindness. I wonder if God has been extending such small and simple things to me lately and I haven't noticed them? Perhaps I should ponder on that, should be more aware of God's little mercies, his acts of loving kindness towards me.

"Workings in the spirit, which doth weary me": mental exertion, the work of faith, is wearying. For though the spirit has infinite stores of energy and strength, the body has only so much and must be replenished. It must have rest lest it breakdown from being overextended.

"That I might MORE FULLY persuade them": a more full persuasion--not simply centered in the use of rhetoric as a means of persuasion, in language; but in an effective use of rhetoric combined with the backing of the spirit, which can make up for the gaps and failures in language use and convey meaning to the hearts of those who have tuned themselves in to the interaction. But just because the spirit can make up for our rhetorical failings/weaknesses, doesn't mean we shouldn't seek to improve/to be responsible with our rhetoric. Should do our best to perfect both factors on our side of this rhetorical situation: 1) our connection/communion with the spirit, who can, through grace and as we yield ourselves to God, perfect our natures and purify our intentions; and 2) our language, being responsible with the way we present ourselves rhetorically to the world. Both of these combine to give us power and authority as speakers/leaders/teachers such that we can more fully persuade our audience to believe in the cause we espouse.

1 Nephi 20
They swear not in truth or in righteousness: have perhaps neglected the making and keeping of sacred covenants, oaths made in both truth and righteousness.

1 Nephi 21
"It is a light thing": the things of God are light, they originate in places of light, emanate from a Being of light (one who has purged himself of darkness by continually confronting and overcoming that darkness), shed light on his children as they honor the light of Christ, the spirit of light and truth within them. Our spirits, I'm convinced, are constructed of light matter; our eternal intelligence, I believe, is in part refined light; we are beings of light and can illuminate dark places as we honor that light heritage by honoring God.

"The Lord that is faithful": God is loyal to his own. He is a being of faith and can be trusted perfectly.

"Palms of my hands": hands symbolic of power. If we have been engraved into the palms of his hands them, he has yielded some of that power to us through his sacrifice

Kings nursing fathers: one of my favorite scriptural images. Evokes a powerful man willing to nurture others into greater awareness and existence.

1 Nephi 22
Temporal AND spiritual: can't have one without the other. All things have both components. Wasn't it God who said, "All things are spiritual"?

Already lost, scattered to and fro, hated: why hated? Because the people of God are different, peculiar. Because they move against the currents of the world.

"All the kindreds": plural stands out here: God is mindful of groups as well as individuals. He understands the group dynamics and can work to offer the groups as well as the individuals salvation through means/experiences tailored to that group's needs and the needs of all the individuals therein.

Blood, fire, vapor of smoke MUST come: why must? And why these things? Symbols of the utter destruction of the wicked, a state they will bring upon themselves because of their failure/refusal to repent, to follow God. And this MUST come not only because of this continued refusal, but because God is a just God. He must allow justice to run its course, undeterred by mercy--unless the offending party seeks that mercy through repentance

Churches built up to get gain, power over the flesh, to become popular: religion a popularity game, a means to riches, power?

"Led up as calves of the stall"; IN him they shall find pasture. He is the pasture, the field of glory.

2 Nephi 1
The promised land a place of refuge set apart "above all other lands" for those people whom God shall send.

As Lehi talks with his sons, he ratifies Nephi's position as prophet, bearing witness that Nephi has been and will continue to be sustained by "the power of God." So obey him, and you'll be blessed. How might that have felt for Laman and Lemuel, to have it come straight from Dad's mouth that when he was gone, Nephi would really be taking his father's place as prophet?

May not his daughters also have been present during this family meeting? If so, why are they not mentioned? And if not, why? Were they not allowed to hear, to be taught by their father? Why is Sariah the only woman named from Lehi's family? Why do we only know of his daughters from some passing reference made by Nephi about his sisters? Why must the scriptures be so patriarchal, so reflective of/centered on the male experience? Up to this point, the only times the women are mentioned is when Sariah comes up; in reference to childbirth and nursing (they gave plenty of suck even though they had to eat raw meat), their women having been made strong, like unto the men, enough so that they stopped complaining about the journey through the wilderness and just endured it--like the men; or on the ship when Nephi's wife is begging for L and L to untie him. Not really the most flattering references, including Sariah's grand appearance when Nephi writes how she complained about Lehi being "a visionary man" and that her sons were surely lost in the wilderness. Sure, she ends up doing a 180 and stops complaining, only to testify of HER HUSBAND'S faith.

Could some of this be due to Nephi's lack of concern for the affairs/experience of the women? To a cultural favoring of the male experience? To the notion that God works through his priesthood and the assumption that that's where we should keep our focus? Because it reflects the phallocentrism of all ancient scripture. Perhaps a combination of these factors.