Brigham, Adam/God and me

My wife, Lietta Ruger, had this to say on her FB page regarding Brigham Young’s Adam-God theological “theory.”

Talking with my husband this afternoon as we are reading the Daymon Smith interview with Brad (9 installments at blog Common Consent).  

Got to a part about Adam/God. I would hardly have given this a second thought a year ago beyond it being a peculiar belief of the LDS/Mormon church.

Today though, it struck me that given the speculative nature of 19th century exploration, within this context, I give myself the opportunity to me speculate a bit. If I understand it correctly, God manifested as Adam in human form (the extension of that would be that Mother God manifested as Eve in human form). The human species, then would be direct descendants of God and Mother God, therefore like unto children of God. While in childlike state, would have a dependency on God/Mother God and as we grew into maturity would grow into our own autonomy, loving the God family, yet less in a state of dependency (as like a child) and more in imitation based on the role modeling provided by the God parents over the growing years.

The relationship to God/Mother God/Jesus would shift along the years of our human lives in the typical developing life stages of the human progression.

On reading the teachings, the theology and the speculations with my Church-cultivated literal-mindedness:

It seems to be that literal-mindedness can distract or limit us.

Many are tempted to remain in the relative safety of the shallow end of the pool where commonality of language and thought can be controlled. That’s the end of the pool where formal LDS theology and coorelation tend to dominate even the Liahona willingness to think outside the box.

In fact, if I could take that swimming pool analogy further, I would say that the beating heart of Church coorelation and the mindless follow-the-brethren insistence acts very much like an open-ended wading pool where there’s a possibility that coorelated water wings are permanently installed by nothing other than emotional gullibility.

I have come to see leadership speculation initiated by Joseph and mimicked by his contemoraries and later authorities as the real formative for that theology that seems uniquely Mormon.

Joseph offered much speculation as revelation over the course of his adult life but particularly during his Nauvoo years. He unleashed his creative thinking with vigor and joyful elan. In so doing Joseph gave to his people an impressive array of his own speculations including and beyond King Follet. This tradition of speculation passed on to his successors.

Heber C. Kimball was more the prophesier, speaking principally without hesitation when prompted and trusting those promptings to be provoked by the Spirit.

Orson Pratt was the scholarly intellectual who conceptualized the speculations of Joseph around his own knowledge of scripture and his own ability to speculate.

Brigham appears to have attempted the same thing … but he was Brigham with Brigham’s style minus the smiling shock and awe of Joseph’s revelatory surprises.

For most of my adult life I backed off Young’s Adam-God “theory” with as much disdain as that by which I rejected Blood Atonement. This because the contemporary Church academic and intellectual Liahonas whom I most trusted did the same.

Historically, Orson Pratt has always been more my intellectual hero than any other historical figure including the more recent varieties of Talmages, Widstoes and Roberts.

Pratt’s “The Seer”  is marvelous and it was the aggressive and courageous speculative preaching of Pratt and the equally aggressive and prompted preaching of Kimball that served as the  model for the  fire and authoritative manner of many early Church missionaries.

In fact it is my understanding that Mark Twain was more interested in hearing Kimball preach than listening to Brigham young when he was in Salt Lake.

But Brigham was also willing to speculate.

A case could be made then that it is primarily the post-Brigham Church academics and intellectuals who have made the most of the perceivable “theological flaws” in the utterances of Brigham Young while at the same time holding Smith’s own speculations up as some sort of glorified holy inspiration.

I am not trying to equate the thought and creativity of both men as equal, but also declare that no one mortal has a monopoly on creative thinking.

Can we not be honest and divorce ourselves – or at least “unmarry” ourselves – from any notion of literal absoluteness to what was always speculative?

Unless we do that, the sort of soaring spiritual awareness expressed by Lietta as she herself speculates about Brigham’s speculation remains something not easily accomplished by those of us who were raised inside the tent and who are in many ways possessed by layer after layer of literal-mindedness that we have to strive constantly to tear away.

Since ALL theology is nothing more than mere speculation, we act as intellectual hypocrites if we attempt to parse the theology with which we disagree while looking the other way regarding the stuff to which we are attracted.

Speculation, on the other hand, lets the mind think and create as it will … which is in my opinion precisely what God desires of us.

Creativity is spiritual power. Blind obedience and adherence to theological tradtion may anchor us but may also force us to be unwillingly kept on short leashes of approved thinking.

Those who have chosen or gravitated toward some specific theology then uneasily live their lives around their assumption “as if it were true.”

They make their decisions based on “as if it were true.”

They judge others based on “as if it were true.”

They then are obligated to admit that their opinions are based on “as if it were true.”

In some ways, marriage to a specific theology may require that one give up speculation as a personal habit.

In that regard, married to the literal either/or thinking way of reading and understanding things such as Young’s Adam-God speculation and Smith’s God-in-Yonder-Heaven speculation, even Liahonas suffer  from blinders of belief. These are blinders that somehow seem to rigidly limit motivation, willingness and ability to creatively expand for themselves the speculations of other more prominent historical and current mortals who have had a more public venue in which to speculate.

That’s why I truly appreciate where Lietta’s non-lifetime-indoctrinated mind pointed.

She let her own literal-mindedness interpret for herself the implication of Brigham’s Adam-God talk and began staring not at the finger, but at the moon itself.

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