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Saturday, April 22, 2006

On the Eternal Mother 


Reading too much about DaVinci and all that, you begin to wonder if there are parallels between the female non-Hebrew pantheon (Ishtar, Aphrodite, etc.) and the Mormon concept of an Eternal Mother.

First, it's important to note that Mormon interpretation is based upon the current head of the church, and teachings go in and out:


The Mormon concept of a "heavenly mother" is refereed to in a hymn by church leader Eliza R. Snow, and remains an officially approved doctrine. One verse of the hymn entitled "Oh, My Father!" reads as follows:

"In the heavens are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason: truth eternal
tells me I've a mother there."...

The Mormon church...has taught the existence of an "eternal mother" from the earliest days. This doctrine is tied in with their beliefs that we all existed as "spirit children" in the spirit world with a heavenly "father" and "mother" before being sent to earth to take on a body. Apparently the "eternal mother" is not to be "worshipped"....The "eternal mother" is not talked much about in the Mormon church these days. In fact, recently there was a scandal at Brigham Young University, when the governing body fired English Professor Gail Houston, for reportedly encouraging praying to the Mother in Heaven.



Later the essay notes (emphasis from the original essay):


So, is there actually any evidence whatsoever that there is a 'mother goddess' or even a 'heavenly mother' who bears spirit children?

Of course there isn't. Not in the Bible, not even in the Mormons' own Book of Mormon. And there are many Biblical references to prove there is only one God.

What does Barry Bickmore, the author of 'Restoring the Ancient Church' (FAIR, Inc, Ben Lomond, CA, 1999) say? Not very much, actually. He tries to build a case for ancient goddess worship by the Hebrews on page 339 of his book, by referring to Jeremiah 44, a passage which is actually about the TRUE God condemning the worship of the pagan goddess Ishtar!



Well, let's look at Jeremiah 44, starting here:


Jeremiah 44:15-18 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

15 Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, [a] said to Jeremiah, 16 "We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine."

Footnotes:

Jeremiah 44:15 Hebrew in Egypt and Pathros



Jeremiah is not enthused about the practice:


Jeremiah 44:24-28 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

24 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, "Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah in Egypt. 25 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have shown by your actions what you promised when you said, 'We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.'

"Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! 26 But hear the word of the LORD, all Jews living in Egypt: 'I swear by my great name,' says the LORD, 'that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, "As surely as the Sovereign LORD lives." 27 For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. 28 Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Comments:
I just read an article recently that said the Presbyterian Church is rewording their beliefs in the Trinity to include the feminine identity of God. Can't remember the specifics, or where I read it.

Re: the Jeremiah passage - the ancient Babylonians/Sumerians worshipped the constellation Virgo as the Queen of Heaven. She appears in the spring, and on the vernal equinox the moon appears to be in her womb.
 
I've heard of denominations who have attempted to place gender-neutral language in their creeds, using the argument that the original languages did not intend for the wording to be restricted to the male sex.

Virgo as the springtime Queen of Heaven? Now I'm wondering how Viagra got its name.
 
Aaaaaah. Good point about Viagra!

I just remembered - I visited a reformed Jewish service with a friend years ago, and when they read aloud from the Torah, some people were saying "she" and "her" etc. in place of "he" and "his". My friend told me that they don't believe God can be both male and female.
 
I mean, they DO believe God can be both male and female.
 
From a linguistic perspective, it makes you wonder why there isn't really a third person singular pronoun that is universally acknowledged to be gender-neutral. Perhaps there is in some language; what do they use in Esperanto?

In college, I knew people who would write "womyn" because "woMEN" was sexist.
 
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