Male Justice and Female Mercy

For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

I came across this scripture in Alma 42:24 today while searching for something else, and it caught my attention.

The scriptures often use a feminine singular possessive pronoun (her) when referring to cities, objects (such as boats and fig trees) and even abstract concepts (such as charity and wisdom). That is not so strange since I hear people implement that usage all the time (?¢‚Ǩ?ìWow. That is a fast boat. Look at her go.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù).

What did catch my attention, however, in this case was the usage of a masculine singular possessive pronoun. In particular, its usage alongside the female singular possessive pronoun made me very intrigued.

Why would Alma the Younger in speaking to Corianton assign a masculine gender to justice and a feminine gender to mercy? Is justice viewed as a masculine trait, while mercy is a female trait? What does this say about God whom is both just and merciful?

Public Showers

Men shower together in public

When I was in high school, our shower room was a three walled enclosure with two rows of showers along the opposite walls. I have no idea how the girls’ shower room was set up. Obviously, I had never been inside and I had never asked any of my female friends.

In the MTC, the showers for the elders consisted of a room with two poles running from the floor to the ceiling. At the top of each pole were six showerheads. The elders would choose one of the twelve showerheads to use. It is my understanding that the showers for the sisters consisted of individual stalls.

At the gym at the University of Lethbridge, the set up is similar to the MTC. Again, I haven’t asked any of the women I know at the U of L how it set up. At Mary’s gym, however, the showers for the women are separate stalls.

Why is this? Why are men’s showers communal while women’s showers are separate? I could understand why women’s showers would be separate if they were co-ed showers. Have women always demanded separate showers, or was this something that has always been?

Sure, it would be nice to have my own separate stall, but I have no qualms about sharing a communal shower either. I am comfortable sitting in the steam room or in the shower or even towelling off with other guys around. Mary tells me that women never talk to each other in the shower. I talk to guys all the time while showering, drying off or even getting dressed.

What is the difference?

Bad Educators, Evolution and God’s Hurricanes

We attended a branch today for the baby blessings of some of our friends. It was nice having a bit of a break from our ward and being somewhere new. Things are always different to some degree in a branch given the very fundamental differences between a branch and a ward.

Sacrament meeting was quite normal. It was a fast and testimony meeting, which can always be fodder for good blog material. Only one thing caught my attention though. In one person’s “testimony”, he made mention that God’s hand is evident in the recent barrage of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. He made particular reference to Hurricane Jeanne and God’s hand guiding it wherever it goes.

Naturally, I have a problem with this thought. I have a problem believing that God directed a hurricane to the poorest countries in the western hemisphere in order that one and a half thousand people would be killed. What horrendous sins could these 1,500 men, women and children committed that would warrant God sending a relentless hurricane to a country already reeling from thousands killed this spring in massive floods and February in civil war.

Sunday School was quite uneventful. Then along came priesthood.

It is a joint elders and high priests meeting. I am not sure what the lesson was about since it seemed a mishmash of this and that. Supposedly, it was loosely based on a Meridian Magazine article of which I did not catch the name. Two points came up with which I took issue.

The first issue started when the instructor started discussing the deplorable moral condition in the public school system. Naturally, many in the meeting agreed with him and were quick to offer their support in similar veins of detesting the poor jobs of today’s educators.

After about fifteen minutes, I grew tired of it and spoke up. I reminded everyone that it is not the responsibility of our educators to teach our children about morality. It is not the responsibility of our educators to teach our children right and wrong. Actually, when it comes down to it, that responsibility doesn’t even lie with Primary and Sunday School teachers. It lies with the parents. Parents have the God-given responsibility to teach children morality; to teach them what is right and wrong and why we need to “choose the right”. If today’s generation is derelict, delinquent and disregardful, we should not look to the teacher to lay blame. We should take ownership of our failure to fulfill the responsibility that is given to us.

The second issue started when the instructor showed that in 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organised and subsequently taught that six years later Charles Darwin introduced his theory of natural selection. The instructor then used this chronological comparison to point out that evolution is the work of Satan.

To be sure I understood the instructor’s message, I restated, “Are you saying that evolution is satanic”.

“Yes.”

“I completely disagree.”

That’ when the rest of the lesson was shot. From there, it didn’t take long for someone to say that evolution opposed Jesus Christ; that we didn’t come from apes; that evolution is a false doctrine; that the temple teaches that evolution was not how God created Adam.

Expectedly,  I addressed those issues. Actually, I didn’t address how evolution opposed the Saviour. Rather I asked how it opposed the Saviour. There was no answer given.

I reiterated the ignorant argument that we didn’t come from apes. I clarified to this brother unfamiliar with the theory of evolution that apes and humans shared a common ancestor, not that humans came from apes.

I asked the individual who stated evolution was a false doctrine why he thought that. He said “the prophet”  said it is. In all the years I have been studying statements of general authorities on evolution, I have yet to come across a single statement that said it was a false doctrine. The closest I have ever seen is when Joseph F. Smith claimed evolution was a theory of man. Of course, the theory of gravity, the theory of wave-particle duality of light and the theory of relativity are all theories of men. Being a theory of man does not make it false.

Finally, I corrected that the temple offers no clarification whatsoever regarding the process God used to create the earth and Adam.

I felt alone in that class. I felt alone among many brethren in the priesthood who hold fast to traditions because they do not want to take the time to research information for themselves. I felt alone since no one came up to me after and commented either way on my contribution to the discussion. I should point out that one other brother did mention that Brigham Young stated that we do not know what method God used in the creation.

You know, if the subject of evolution being taught in the schools had only been mentioned in brief passing, I likely would not have said anything. What made me respond was the statement based in ignorance and assumption that stated evolution was absolutely of Satan.

Maybe if the instructor had stuck to the lesson materials suggested by the correlation department, we wouldn’t have had this mess.

Globe and Mail and Racism

Jane Armstrong wrote an article for today?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s issue of The Globe and Mail reporting on Adrienne Clarkson?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s recent trip to Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, the most impoverished neighbourhood in all of Canada. It is an informative article for the most part, but one paragraph caught my attention.

Her foray into Vancouver’s skid row is not her first up-close brush with deeply entrenched social problems. In Toronto, she toured the downtown neighbourhood of Regent Park, and in Saskatoon, she visited an urban first nations reserve.

What I find interesting in this excerpt is the choice of words Ms. Armstrong uses to reference two apparently similar locations. On the one hand, she refers to a very specific neighbourhood in Toronto. On the other hand, she vaguely but generically makes reference to one of seven First Nations reserves in the Saskatoon area.

Why did this catch my attention?

Ms. Armstrong, in reference to Regent Park did not say, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìShe toured a neighbourhood in Toronto?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. Rather, she made reference to not only a specific area of the city (downtown) but a specific neighbourhood within that area (Regent Park).

When it comes to the First Nations reserve, Ms. Armstrong, for whatever reason, gives no similar treatment to the location. Rather she simply makes a passing reference that it was a First Nations reserve. This usage does two things.

First, it assumes the public perceives every First Nations reserve as being ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdeeply entrenched [with] social problems?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. At the very least, it assumes all seven of the Saskatoon reserves are ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdeeply entrenched [with] social problems?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

Second, it perpetuates the above stereotype by allowing the reader to continue in his/her assumption that all reserves are ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdeeply entrenched [with] social problems?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

I am not na?ɬØve enough to think that no reserve has social problems. However, until reserves are given better attention and treatment similar to that given to off-reserve areas (such as Downtown Eastside and Regent Park), the problems present there will continue.

Ms. Armstrong?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s biased and prejudiced treatment of the situation is deplorable and does nothing to bring due attention to the plight of First Nations people in Canada.

I suppose I should give her credit for specifying a Saskatoon urban first nations reserve and not saying, “an Indian reserve somewhere in Canada”.

Book of Mormon Not the Word of God

So many people think the Bible is the word of God. For that matter, many people consider the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price to be the word of God. Are they really?

First, we need to ask what the phrase ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù means. Does it mean that the book was written by God? Does it mean the things within are spoken by God? Does it mean the things within are statements by prophets saying what God would say if He were there? Is ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword?¢‚Ǩ¬ù more figurative, referring?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùas John did in the first chapter of his gospel?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùto Jesus?

Second, if we are to assume that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìword of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù refers to the words in the scriptures to be words spoken of God or His prophets, then I think a semantics problem arises.

Take for example, Nephi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s words in 1 Ne 2:15.

And my father dwelt in a tent.

If we were to take the common claim that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthe Book of Mormon is the word of God?¢‚Ǩ¬ù to be true, then how do we classify such a statement? Was it God saying Nephi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s father dwelt in a tent? Is it a prophetic statement spoken by Nephi?

Frankly, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures are filled with language that does nothing more than provide historical or situational information. Various passages contain no literal doctrinal exposition. Granted many passages taken as a whole?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùlike the last dozen chapters in Alma for example?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùcould be representative of spiritual advice. The point is though, that to say the Book of Mormon or any other scripture is the word of God is a literary fallacy.

Certainly, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures contain the word of God. I do not argue that point at all.