Guest Post: Letting the Mystery Be

We’re happy to have Morgan Davis as a guest author once again. Morgan will be posting approximately once a month on several of the themes in the new youth manual, Come Follow Me. The second in his series is below. The introduction to the series is here. 

This is the second of a series of posts on the themes presented in “Come, Follow Me,” the new youth curriculum for Sunday instruction. I hope it will be clear that my thoughts are not intended to become material for class discussions; rather I am just interested in exploring some ideas that might be in the background of such discussions.

The general topic for February is “The Plan of Salvation,” a term by which we typically mean the narrative that offers Mormonism’s unique and capacious perspectives on the great existential questions—Who am I? How did I come to exist? Does life have a purpose? Is death the end? Etc.

Joseph Smith took the typical theological canvas—a diptych in which the setting for the story of salvation is this world and the world to come—and radically reshaped it into a triptych. He restored a panel that had gone missing (as Terryl Givens has documented) depicting an eon prior to creation in which all of us existed in some way that was eternal a parte ante. And then he painted over the third panel entirely, transforming it from a picture of a simple heaven-hell dichotomy into one where multiple degrees of salvation were ready to receive all but but the most utterly recalcitrant souls.

Joseph characterized pre- and post-mortality in terms of familial relationships that anticipate and propagate earthly (middle panel) ones, but not with such specificity as to answer many of the questions that naturally follow. He created broad new spaces in which to scribe what Richard Bushman has called the stories of eternity, but he did not fill in all of the details. He gave us the broad outlines—patterns that recur in all three panels—but left much more untold. Into those voids the Mormon theological and existential imagination has rushed ever since, seeking to flesh out the patterns, extend the curves, and solve second-panel riddles so as to make something coherent and beautiful of the whole.

We Mormons are continually telling stories of eternity—personal stories that locate us and our loved ones in relation to realms of existence prior and post. We seek out the names and histories of our dead because we believe they are not really dead and that we are very likely to meet them again; we see future children in dreams; and we seem to be constitutionally disposed to make sense of present circumstances in terms of choices made and events transpired prior to our advent on earth. Because the canvas is free of authoritative detail, the possibilities for doing this are vast indeed. Added Upon, “I’ll Find You, My Friend,” and Saturday’s Warrior are just three examples of this from Mormon literature, song, and stage. Many, many more such stories are deployed every day as we move about and make our choices and process our experiences. Most of these stories never achieve copyright status, but they speak to us powerfully nevertheless. All possibilities and all stories are not of equal value, however, and lately we have witnessed a growing discomfort with some of the uses to which the pre-existence, in particular, has been put in our tradition. Blair Hodges has done a beautiful job of surveying some of these here.

I confess my own discomfort with even some of the more mundane notions that arise about our pre-earth life. In part, this might stem from how I was raised. My mother told me more than once, “Morgan, you’re special. But you’re not Special” (the capital letter suggests the inflection I heard in her voice). In other words, she loved me and thought the world of me, but wanted me to know that I was no exception to the commandments, the laws of physics, or the pluses and minuses of the human condition generally. Given this background, I confess that I have always felt a little uncomfortable when told that I am among the most valiant of the hosts of heaven who was reserved to come at this time in the winding up scenes of the earth, etc. Maybe that is true. But I don’t know that it is true, and, frankly, there is some part of me that doesn’t want it to be true. Sometimes I think we have a tendency to over-specify the goings on in the realms before and aft, and too many of our stories seem to hinge on who was more or less valiant there. Can we really imagine a conversation like this taking place in the hereafter?

Hilbard of the Pit, genuflecting: “So, you were on earth trying to live the Gospel amidst socialism, the Internet, and gay marriage? My halo is off to you, brother. All I suffered was the Plague and the sacking of Constantinople. I suppose we had adultery and buggery, too, but we didn’t have the Fullness, you know, and weren’t even literate—so, it all seemed unremarkable at the time. We were really too benighted to know what was happening to us. Given our lack of valiancy during the GPM [Great Primordial Controversy], it’s a mercy that we got in and out as efficiently as we did: I myself was dead by 27 or 8 (I never knew my birthday). But enough about me. O noble and great one, what was it like to be in the RSF [Reserved Special Forces]? Because, you know, Correlation just fast-tracked us through mortality without much ceremony.

Me: [Awkward silence.]

I don’t intend to minimize the challenges we face in our times, only to cast them into a little perspective. President Hinckley made the same point a few years ago, noting that there have been heady troubles in every age. So, personally, I have no point of reference from which to confirm or deny whether I am, in fact, in spite of my mother’s caveats, Special.

I would like to suggest that, as a people, a higher tolerance for mystery, for leaving some things unfigured might not be a bad thing. Can we find beauty in what we don’t know? Can we choose to leave some things hidden, enfolded? Given recent embarrassments wherein some of our old speculations keep coming around to haunt us (see the links to Blair’s work, above), I am more partial by the day to this report of a recent talk given by Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of Church Education, to teachers of Seminary and Institute:

“Another challenge we face, especially if we have taught for some time, is a tendency to hold on to old files and old explanations,” he said. “We would be much better off keeping up with the current stance of the Church.”

One of the best ways to do this is to be familiar with material in the newsroom at lds.org, Elder Johnson said. “Let’s keep up to date with the light we have been given.”

“Many of us have a difficult time dealing with ambiguity, especially in issues concerning the Church,” he said. “In fact, we may be drawn to use quotes in our teaching that are definitive because they seem to dispel the ambiguity. But some quotes are definitive on issues where there is no official answer. People who are more tentative on a subject that hasn’t been revealed or resolved don’t get quoted as much, but may be more in line with where our current knowledge is. We plan to add helps to the curriculum for certain questions that are commonly raised.”

The Plan of Salvation is the largest story ever told. For Latter-day Saints, its cosmic scope and infinite timeline are seemingly broad and deep enough to contain many other stories, eventualities, and speculations. But as into the Plan’s broad compass we have poured our hopes and fears for so many years now, there is gradually dawning a recognition that some of what we have stashed there isn’t really helpful or edifying. A trend towards better stewardship and preservation of one of Mormonism’s most precious resources, the Plan of Salvation, is a welcome development.

Coda.

Comments

  1. Coda II: Iris DeMent sings her own song in her inimitable way. It has stayed with me since I first heard it years ago watching “Little Buddha.”

  2. Coda II: Iris DeMent sings her own song in her inimitable way. It has stayed with me since I first heard it years ago watching “Little Buddha.”

  3. “There ain’t no mysteries – just stuff I ain’t figured out yet.”

  4. “I would like to suggest that, as a people, a higher tolerance for mystery, for leaving some things unfigured might not be a bad thing.”

    Amen.

    Thanks for this post, Morgan. There’s a lot to consider carefully in it.

  5. Important ideas, beautifully written. Thanks, Morgan.

  6. I suppose I have to say that I strongly, strongly, strongly disagree with at least one current that runs through this post, and seems to be increasingly typical. Namely, this: “I would like to suggest that, as a people, a higher tolerance for mystery”

    It is true enough that there are many things not collectively known. In fact, knowledge is de facto not held collectively. Perhaps “as a people” we ought to be less concerned that every answer is not publicly pronounced, or every question even publicly speculated upon. These are even fitting, seeing that the acquisition of knowledge is ultimately an individual project – you are not dependent on my making the effort, and I am not dependent on you. We are even told that those is possession of knowledge are forbidden from revealing it generally. (Alma)

    Before 1990 or so, there was a strong check in the endowment precisely against finding beauty in mystery. That is now gone, along with a check against the kinds of beliefs about God that such an infatuation inevitably produces – and which are multiplying among Mormons.

    I think what we fear to lose when we spin our tires in mystery as beauty is a sense of numinosity. But numinosity runs with beauty, and is not dispelled by knowledge. In fact, mystery is, finally, simply ignorance, ad there isn’t much virtue in being ignorant for its own sake.

    Joseph says that we are saved only as fact as we acquire knowledge. There is no such thing as forbidden knowledge in Mormonism. Mystery is not a virtue but something to be penetrated “as soon as we are able.”

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was a youth leader we took our young charges on a temple trip. A counselor in the temple presidency spoke to the assembled youth and solemnly explained to them that they had been generals in the war in heaven, and when they return to the realms above and the deceased spirits there learn that they lived during the time of President [insert name of current prophet here], they would all slowly kneel down and before them in awe and reverence. That was the first time I had ever heard such a thing, and immediately thought it was a crock. And so it is:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormon_urban_legends_or_folklore/Boyd_K._Packer:_youth_generals_in_war_in_heaven

  8. Thomas, I agree with you while agreeing with Morgan. I don’t tihnk there is any disagreement in what the two of you wrote.

  9. Ray,

    I think Morgan has set out the question instructively, and I disagree at the point specified and not necessarily elsewhere.

    “We don’t know” is a tautology that is killing inspiration and even curiosity among us. Seeking is increasingly self-satisfied, holding up wherever someone “feels good”, and / or is replaced by anger. “Hey we should be ok with we don’t know” seems to me to answer the instructively constructed question badly, rounding off at exactly the point at which curiosity and courage to push ahead are needed.

  10. In short, never never never let the mystery be.

  11. I appreciate this post. It reminds of some great advice I once received from a church leader. “You can’t rush the veil. We are invited to walk up to speak with the Lord and pass sentinels and angels who guard. Ask of the Lord, but don’t rush up and expect to pull back the veil and reveal all mystery yourself. That’s not what He trains us to do.”

    On a separate note, I love the country video link. I’ve always wondered at why the music consumption survey I read several years ago found 7% of every demographic surveyed (general education, geographic location, income level, music eduction) reported enjoying… country music! None of the other music genres surveyed in this extensive report had such consistent support across all people. The survey authors didn’t know why this was so and planned to study it further. I guessed it was country music’s accessible narrative style and deep roots in white American privilege (AKA dominant cultural force). But maybe people love country because country has such a long tradition of simple people singing about what little they know in the face of a confusing world. But then again… what do I know. I’m just a simple musician.

  12. Thomas, I appreciate your thoughtful and vigorous comments. I wonder if perhaps the difference we’re seeing here is a difference in emphasis. I am emphasizing patience with certain gaps in our knowledge, while you are emphasizing the virtue of exploring, asking, seeking, and knocking—which we are indeed enjoined to do in very specific and sacred ways.

    Seen this way, both of our emphases are valid and have their place. Yin and Yang. The trick is mustering the wisdom to discern when one is warranted, and when the other. I love the quest for knowledge. I love the idea that Joseph did give us a good start on some important ideas that we can work with and push further. But history has also shown us instances where we rushed to conclusions and behaved as though were certain of something when in fact more tentativeness and circumspection in the face of still unresolved correlates would have served us better. I’m thinking specifically here of explanations offered for why men of African descent were denied the priesthood, but there are others examples, too.

    It is often just a matter of timing. We can throw ourselves untimely against a wall of solid ice and all we will get is a broken shoulder and battered fists. But when the time is right and the light of heaven does its work, barriers to understanding flow down before us. I have lots of experience with this—questions I have carried around and chewed on for years with little progress, only to find them answered in the most unexpected and moving ways on what started out as an ordinary afternoon. I hope to share one of those experiences in a future post.

  13. I agree with that, Thomas – but I like being patient and even accepting sometimes when the mystery isn’t revealed as quickly as one would like.

    I find the beauty often is in the searching as much as the finding – so if “letting the mystery be” means ceasing to search, I don’t like it at all. If, rather, it means “accepting that faith can be enough in the moment”, I like it.

    My second daughter wrote a poem last year (“The Map”) as a high school junior. I think it captures both sentiments above well – and she wrote it without talking we me about it. She’s an amazing kid:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2012/03/imagine-if-what-if-point-is-asking-not.html

  14. Meldrum the Less says:

    Reply to # 9

    “I don’t know” never killed any of my inspiration. Quite the opposite.

    Seriously, when you don’t know, what options do you have? Try to figure it out. Observe, imagine, experiment, pray, etc. If that sort of thing doesn’t work then your response to remaining in the dark is a variation of tolerance of what is a mystery to you.

    For example, I don’t know what a tautology is. I could look it up. Might even be a wiki article on it. But if I am unable/unwilling then I am forced to be tolerant of the mystery of the meaning of this word. Oh, well.

  15. so if ‘letting the mystery be’ means ceasing to search, I don’t like it at all. If, rather, it means ‘accepting that faith can be enough in the moment’, I like it.” Yes. It also means accepting that my learning or inspiration is for me, not for use as a club on my neighbor. Each person learns truth line by line, here a little and there a little — anyone errs who takes his or her partial knowledge as the absolute truth and uses that as a club to bludgeon his neighbor.

    For example, our God might reveal to me some level of truth regarding some matter — let’s call it Level B truth. When I accept this new inspiration, this new truth, I have to give up my former Level A understanding. It would be very unkind and uncharitable of me to point the finger at someone else who is still on Level A truth, and say that he or she is wrong. And maybe, depending on the matter and on my circumstances, maybe our God through the Holy Spirit will take me to Level C truth.

    Yes, in many matters, let’s let the mystery be. Let’s be united in testifying the Jesus is the Christ and that he has stretched forth his hand in these latter days to restore his Church and priesthood, and maybe a few other matters. But it isn’t necessary for us all to agree on all the small details of what some people call doctrine. What are important for us as a people are faith, hope, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many other things will be important for me individually, and my learning (and inspiration) on these other things will change over time.

  16. J. Stapley says:

    I was unaware of those statements Morgan. Many thanks for the pointer, and the associated thoughts.

  17. Perhaps we should think too many of the Latter-day Saints regard the promises of God regarding revealing of mysteries:

    And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

    Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

    And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

    For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

  18. “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer, as long as it is provisional and leads to further honest inquiry.

  19. Some things have been pressed into service in places that have proved ill-advised. The point is well-taken. I wonder though, in our pull-back from the depths, will it be the case that something deep is then lost to us?

  20. I didn’t say “I don’t know”, Meldrum. I said “we don’t know.” We don’t know is a tautology because it is impossible to be otherwise. “We don’t know” is always true because “we” cannot know. “We” is not an entity that can possess knowledge. Two people may know the same thing, and therefore potentially come to be unified on that thing – but the knowledge will not form the substance of the unity.

    Morgan – I agree with with your response in a general way – although I think there is still a little bit of tension. Clearly there are times when an individual, for whatever reason(s), is unable to receive an answer to inquiries on a given topic. I don’t know if I would characterize the period until an answer comes as waiting patiently. For me, it is a time in which I am doing lots and lots of thinking, and rather chipping away at it, trying to make sure I’m seeing things from as many angles as possible, applying ideas where I think have already received some light, etc. Indeed, I think one of the biggest reasons revelations aren’t received is that we ‘do no more than inquire.’ It seems to me that revelation is a part of, is contained in to the point that it is almost defined by, a more or less constant effort to engage reality: intellectually, emotionally, experientially, todo.

    In general, since we are speaking of how things are generally, I would ask: is there too much seeking in the church? Or, how about look at a particular example. Say a woman (or man) wants to know something about Mother in Heaven. She(he) has prayed about it, with sincerity and tears, but has received no answer. Well, there are any number of reasons, including the reality that for the most part we are always seeking to gratify our pride or our vain ambition, we are overly mindful of things like our social situation and perceived social needs, and therefore are seeking to exercise control over people in the situation in which the issue has become painful. (Which is not the exception but the default for every single one of us.) Would the better advice (generally speaking) be to say, ‘well, be patient, the answer may (or may not) come later, and in the meantime find the beauty in the not knowing.’ Or, would it be to say, ‘Keep trying! Think about what might be keeping you from getting an answer. Address your experience with as much personal reflection as possible. That answer will come, sooner or later – and in the meantime you have set yourself on an adventure in which you’ll get answers about many other things.’

    It seems to me there are a couple ways in which we are collectively discouraged from seeking revelation. The first is close to what you’re talking about. We say we know. Well, even if we do have some little bit of knowledge on some subject, we shouldn’t think that is such a big deal. We are always in some middle point, needing to know more than what we already know. On this end, what we need more is the ability to say, well I’ve been thinking about this and I think this idea might contain some truth. But we are still so wrapped up in this old I know this and I know that mode that everything is taken to be some definitive statement.

    The other way we are discouraged, and I think this is newer, is to be told that ‘you already know enough.’

  21. This is excellent. Thanks, Morgan.

  22. Love this, Morgan, thank you.

    I think mystery is something built into an unfolding universe, and that there is a certain element of mystery even for God. There used to be a tradition in Mormonism (championed by BH Roberts and John Widtsoe in particular though they also had predecessors here) where the universe–existence in general–is an adventure even for God. Roberts said that God is omniscient because he knows all that is known, not because he exhaustively knows every detail of the future. Because we are like God in certain fundamental ways and able to have genuine relationships with God, there is an element of relationship (just to illustrate one example) that escapes perfect knowledge. When God responds to us he genuinely responds as a being who didn’t know with certainty what he would be responding to and therefore his own response is as creative and unique as ours in that way. In any case, because the universe is allowed to unfold in particular ways, there is a component of mystery even for God. This is a tradition, though, that was essentially stamped out by about 1930 for several historical reasons. But it’s one I prefer regarding my own understanding of God.

  23. Some find exploration compelling and eventually rewarding like the simplicity, clarity and power that comes from knowing E=MC2. The glory of God is intelligence and we are promised knowledge by seeking it. Others find art in the vagueness like the Monet I love on my living room wall. There is a place for both, one should not restrict the other.

    But carried too far the art of not knowing can easily become the art of denial, the ostrich with it’s head in the sand or worse, eyes closed, hands over our ears humming. The earth is only 6,000 years old! Fossil record? What fossil record? In the absence of denial contradictions like this beg exploration.

  24. Thank you, Morgan. So much of the cultural frustrations I encounter in the Church stem from a facile and perfunctory assumption that we’ve got it all, aint nothing left to learn. It causes us, exactly as you point out, to privilege bold and assertive statements about unknown things–to privilege, really, a certain kind of rhetoric. This then allows what we collectively believe and say to be influenced unduly by those willing to use that rhetoric. It’s a thing we do in Mormonism: we try to convey our conviction by presenting our assertions of faith as high-stakes ontological wagers. When we do so, we hear ourselves saying “I KNOW that X is true.” But I fear that others hear it and say “Oh, so THAT’S what Mormons mean when they say ‘know.’”

    Also, I second what Jacob said. If we believe in an infinite God, we have to believe in infinite mystery; a full appreciation of that mystery is not just a means to an end (i.e., a desire to learn more), but an end unto itself. That seems, to me, utterly foundational to what is distinctive about Mormonism.

  25. I wholeheartedly agree with Thomas’ first comment, and add to it by quoting another, which I just fell upon today while reading: “After chosen people lose their connection with God, they no longer receive regular or consistent revelation to increase their knowledge and add to their sacred records. The body of scripture first becomes static. Then, because of wickedness, men deliberately suppress, alter and discard past revelations which they are no longer willing to accept. Their canon of scriptures actually diminishes with time.” (from Come, Let Us Adore Him, by D. Snuffer, Ch. 3) This quote was referring to the “chosen” people of the Jews, and what happened with them. It’s actually unnerving to see this post publicly written, as it seems to reflect the group thought of the past few decades. But maybe I’m misunderstanding the point? Or am I right on, and just disagree? As a whole, there seems to be a common movement of not even caring to seek further understanding of the mysteries contained in scripture and revelation. Is this not what happened from Adam to Noah’s day? General apathy? A lack of caring about details, mysteries, and communion with God for answers to the un-understood?

    I understand that speculation and hypothesis turning to myth, lore, and unrighteous tradition and haughtiness is not wise.

    That said, even in the Primary lesson I was called to teach today, the last line of the lesson is this: “The children should not expect Heavenly Father and Jesus to appear to them to answer their prayers.” (Primary 3, CTR B, Lesson 5, p.23) I would ask, why not???

  26. Yo Mama: “I understand that speculation and hypothesis turning to myth, lore, and unrighteous tradition and haughtiness is not wise.” In this we seem to agree. I also agree that if the gifts of the Spirit (visions, revelations, visitations, etc.) are ever done away among us it will be because of unbelief, and wo unto us if that day ever comes. But wo unto us also if we fail to receive such gifts but claim that we have had them. Then our peril is the greater because it is masked from us by our own rhetorical devices (in agreement with Jeremy here); we become blind to our own blindness. Let us not claim what we do not have, but let us earnestly seek for what we have been promised and wait actively on the Lord (in faith, still desiring, still knocking) if it is not forthcoming in the manner or time-frame that we expect. After all, when the Lord stands at the door and knocks for us, he is patient when we do not answer in his time and way. Our delay is folly. His delay is mystery.

    Your concluding question is an important one. To ask it is not necessarily to answer it, though.

  27. Love Iris DeMent. Love that song.

  28. Thanks, Morgan. If it weren’t for learning to value mystery and appreciate paradox in the Gospel, I never would have been able to stay in the Church. Definitive answers-cute platitudes-simply don’t have the spiritual power of living faith.

    In response to Thomas, I wonder how we understand the term “Mystery.” I think we have to acknowledge that there are truths and principles that we simply cannot understand from mortality. I don’t know where to draw that line. I do know that much of my personal revelation and insight into the mysteries of God come only after I have decided that God is not going to answer the question. That doesn’t mean I stop thinking about the issue. But giving up the insistence on finding the answer, allows me to think about things in ways that I never would have.

  29. Kevin L,

    Maybe. Maybe my “vigor”ourness gave a wrong impression. Is it really that you’ve given up “insistence” on finding the answer, or only some kind of personal anguish, or a too-single mindedness? What you are calling insistence maybe I would just call confidence. Although it sure is true that the confidence can’t be based on simplistic input/output models that we’ve usually absorbed. I’ve got no problem with coming at it patiently, tentatively, etc. My only problem, as I said earlier, is with valorization of mystery for its own sake. I think most of our questions have answers, even in mortality. I think that the questions for which we cannot at least get some meaningful light are probably questions that we cannot conceive in mortality. If we have the brain power to conceive it, I think we have the brain power to process answers around it. Not that we come to final knowledge – we most certainly never do – and hence the need for some measure of dissatisfaction.

    I’m not trying to win the argument by appealing to authority, really, really. But I wonder what participants make of this:

    9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

    10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

    11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

    It seems to me, if nothing else, that an unfolding of mysteries is indicative of something, as is not. I think that at least these verses bear consideration in the context of the discussion.

    In my 47 years I’ve had about four really “spiritual” years: two in my early twenties, and a couple, few more more going back several years already. I’m not in that kind of condition right now. Though I sometimes have spiritual experiences, they are not of the kind, intensity, clarity, comprehensiveness or frequency as I had then. During these times mysteries were unfolding left and right, knowledge was pouring down and I had spiritual experiences that were, at least for me, quite extraordinary on a …regular basis. (Naturally, these are not binding on you, or anyone else, and the vast majority of the time I keep them to myself. Also, I don’t take this as a pattern for how it should be all the days of one’s life. I fully expect dark nights of the soul (or even simply long fallow periods) – and in fact I’m kinda in that place right now.)

  30. I’d also like to bring in the Grand Inquisitor chapter of the Brothers Karamazov, and what the GI says about mystery – but I’m already out of my allotted BCC time. (Remains far and away the best ‘big blog” in the bloggernalce, btw)

  31. One more thing … you know that life doesn’t always require the same answer for everyone at the same time. Maybe someone reads what Morgan wrote and it is just the thing they need to hear. It’s ok not to know. It’s ok to not be seeking the answer to every question at every moment. It’s alright to rest. And its true that this impulse to always have the right answer has often left the church with its foot in it. (Though he’s still wrong about mystery.) And maybe someone else reads what I have to say, and says to themselves, this is just the thing I need right now. I need to start seeking in earnest again. Or maybe my heart has gone hard, and I need to find a way to be open again.

    It’s all good.

  32. Thomas,

    Totally agree. Thank you! I think what you said about not seeking to answer every question at every moment and not all people receiving the same answer at the same time helped me better understand your position against valuing mystery in and of itself. In that light, I actually agree very much.

    It isn’t so much that I want something to stay a mystery or that it being a mystery is wonderful, it’s an attitude where a present lack of a satisfying answer doesn’t cripple my faith. The value isn’t the mystery, but the ability to accept my limitations, exercise faith, and love God. It’s an appreciation that He knows what He’s doing even when I don’t.

    Does that fit closer to your perspective? I know I don’t want my current mysteries to stay mysteries forever. In fact, I think life would be a lot easier if I could see just a bit more of the plan. But right now, I’m content with what the Lord has allotted me. I just don’t want to stay here for very long.

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