Sunday, May 27, 2012

Endowment 2010

Today is Pentecost, the feast that commemorates the disciples being "endowed with power from on high" by the Spirit (Luke 24:49). Two Pentecosts ago, in 2010, I announced my intention to start work on a revision of the endowment along liberal theological lines. It's a quixotic project, since I'm creating it for a liberal Mormon worshiping community that doesn't actually exist--but it's a gesture of faith and hope that someday such a community might come into being.

I've been working on "Endowment 2010," as I've been calling it, little by little for the past couple of years. And now I'm ready to unveil it for anyone out there who might be interested in taking a look:

Be advised that the PDF download is over 100 pages long. That's because the revision is heavily annotated. In producing this document, I followed the same policy I did for I do not include descriptions of those portions of the ceremony that are specifically covered by covenants of non-disclosure, namely the signs, tokens, and keywords. I hold the view that those items of ritual information should be communicated only "live," in the context of performing the ceremony.

The document includes an intro that lays out the principles that guided this revision--or "re-visioning," as I prefer to call it. As a sample of what you'll find in the re-visioned ceremony, here are a couple snippets:


MOTHER: Children, look—go down to that unorganized matter.

FATHER: Organize it into a world like the worlds we have formed previously. Fill it with all kinds of plant and animal life.

MOTHER: Counsel together in each period of your labors, so that all things are done in wisdom and order.

FATHER: When your labors are complete, return and bring us word.

JEHOVAH: It will be done, Elohim. Come, my brothers and sisters, let us go down.

ADAM: We will go down, Jehovah.

EVE and the MESSENGERS: We will go down.


ADAM: We are looking for the further light and knowledge Mother and Father promised to send us.

LUCIFER: Oh, you want revelation. For that, you must have a prophet. I can provide you one.

(The PROPHET enters, wearing a business suit.)

LUCIFER: Good day! Are you by chance a prophet?

PROPHET: I have been ordained to that office.

LUCIFER: Then you receive revelations?

PROPHET: (Cautiously) I would say I am susceptible to the impressions of the Spirit of the Lord upon my mind, just as any other good church member might be. (Suddenly emphatic) But I am the Lord’s anointed and the mouthpiece of God, and when I speak, the debate is over.

LUCIFER: That last sounds very promising.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

First-Friday service

I just realized that last week was the first-Friday service of contemplative song and prayer, and I forgot to post the readings, as I like to do. Because we're in the season between Easter and Pentecost, the theme was "Risen Christ," and the readings focused on the meaning of the resurrection and Jesus' promise to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

By coincidence, the first Friday, May 4, was also the anniversary of the administration of the first Nauvoo endowments. So there was special meaning, for me, in Jesus' instruction to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until he had endowed them with power on high. He's referring, in context, to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the day of Pentecost. But for me, the words double as a reminder of the endowments of heavenly power that occurred at Kirtland and Nauvoo and, for me, in the Provo Temple some . . . well, let's not count how many years ago, shall we?


PSALM 30 (selection)

I will praise you, Mighty One,
for you have lifted me out of danger.
You rescued my soul from the grave.
The underworld opened to receive me,
but you restored me to life.

There was a time when I looked for you
but could not find you.
I was terrified.
I cried out to you—
I pleaded—
“What good am I to you in the grave?
How can I praise you or proclaim your faithfulness
if I am dust?
Hear me, Merciful One,
and help me!”

Then you turned my grief into dancing.
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
For this, I will praise you with my whole being!
I will shout my praises loudly!
I will never stop praising you!
I will give thanks to you, my God, forever!


EPHESIANS 2: 4-6, 14, 18

Once, through our sins,
we were dead.

 But God,
abounding in mercy
and impelled by a tremendous love for us,
has made us all alive in Christ.

 Because we are in Christ,
when he was raised from death
we were raised with him.

 By bringing us all into himself—
into his body—
Christ has made us into one.
Thus he has broken down the walls that divided us.

 Through Christ,
all of us have access to God,
because all of us have received the same Spirit.


LUKE 24: 36-51 (selections)

As Jesus’ followers were together, talking,
they were shocked to see Jesus standing among them.
They were terrified, because they thought it was a ghost.

Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid.
It is I, myself—not a ghost.
Touch me and see!”

Then he taught them how to interpret the scriptures.
He said: “It is written that the Messiah must suffer,
and rise from death on the third day.
It is also written that repentance and forgiveness of sins
will be proclaimed to all nations,
in the name of the Messiah,
beginning at Jerusalem.

“You are witnesses of the fulfillment of these prophecies—
you will proclaim these things to the nations.
But wait here, in Jerusalem,
until I have endowed you with heavenly power.”

Then he led them out of the city almost to the village of Bethany.
He lifted his hands and pronounced a blessing on them,
and as he did this, he was lifted away from them into the sky.



Risen Christ—
in you
all are made alive.
Lift up all who are in danger.
Bring healing and joy to all who grieve.

Risen Christ—
you descended into death
and rose from death.
Be with all who are sick
and all who are dying.

Risen Christ—
in a mysterious way,
you have united us in yourself.
Teach us how to overcome
the walls that divide us.

Risen Christ—
through the Holy Spirit,
you have endowed us with heavenly power.
Show us how to effectively proclaim your message.
Show us how to carry out your work.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

5/6/1992 - Guaricano

As I said I would do in last month's mission retrospective post, I'm posting this month some photos of what Guaricano looked like twenty years ago. Within five years of these photos being taken, this rural-looking barrio had become much more urban. The "multis"--apartments built by the government for public housing--had turned into a dark, scary-looking slum: I drove through on the bus during a return visit. That was my first sign that Guaricano was not going to be what I remembered.

This is what Guaricano used to look like as you approached it from the capital. You can see the multis, still under construction, off to the right.

This is a view from the opposite edge of town, where the cane fields began. The beanpole with the white shirt and the bad posture is me.

The house my companion and I lived in. Relatively nice lodgings as our options went. A fancier house would have been two stories--as this one had become when I returned five years later. The little boy off to the side, with the white plastic jug, is on his way to the house behind ours, where he can buy water from their cistern. During rainstorms, he and other neighbor kids would catch the run-off from our flat roof in jugs.

This is the view looking across the street from our house, during an aguacero (rainstorm). Five years, later, the street was paved (and elevated several feet), the wood houses had become block houses, and the vegetation was gone. The transformation was stunning.

Electrical power was pirated--and therefore even more sporadic than usual for Santo Domingo at that time. You can see how all the surrounding houses have plugged themselves into this dangerously leaning power pole. When we moved in, we paid a neighbor to shimmy up the pole nearest to us and plug us in.

I have to keep reminding myself not to romanticize the simple conditions at my comfortable remove in time and space.