November 18, 2008

Kevin Barney's article on Heavenly Mother

Recommended Reading

Dialogue's most recent issue offers a free sample article by Kevin Barney called "How To Worship Heavenly Mother (and Not Get Excommunicated)."

A .pdf is available here.

Barney has a unique way of speaking ecumenically to Latter-day Saints of many views, so while it may be easy for some to disagree with him, it seems nigh unto impossible to be disagreeable in the process. Barney is an example of charitable, scholarly, and engaging research and writing.


Jared said...

In these latter days the Lord has given His restored church much knowledge:

As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
D&C 121:33

However, not all knowledge is of equal value. Some knowledge is more valuable because it is knowledge that "saves". The Book of Mormon contains knowledge that when properly applied opens up the heavens and allows us to be recipients of the things of the Spirit.

For example, Nephi teaches the essentials of the Doctrine of Christ in just nine verses (2 Nephi 31:13-21).

If we're interested in being true followers of Christ these nine verses have the potential to open the path to our exaltation if we focus our attention and faith thereon.

One of the great surprises of my life, as I've mingled with the saints for the last forty years, is when I early on discovered that many of the most capable thinkers I encountered were focused on knowledge that doesn't save.

As I got better acquainted with these wonderful saints, by their own admission, the Holy Ghost is scarcely evident. They live good lives, know a lot about the Master, but don't know Him because He if far from the thoughts and intents of their hearts.

Each of us need to be wary of feasting on intellectual mammon vs. the words of Christ.

Kevin Barney said...

Thanks for posting this notice of my article; I appreciate it.

BHodges said...

Np, Kevin. Thanks for writing it.

Jared: I think you miss the point of Kevin's article. I actually get the feeling you haven't read it, and perhaps don't plan on doing so. Correct me if I am wrong.

I suggest reading it before chalking it up to "intellectual mammon."

Jon W. said...

I think Kevin has focused in on an interesting point. Jared, I think you made a good point but many of us would say that part of understanding the Gospel comes from ever increasing knowledge.

Ben Pratt said...

I read the article, and I made some notes in the margins of my scriptures.

I view Kevin's insights therein as (potentially) part of the process of all truth being circumscribed into one great whole. The whole reformers-obscuring-mentions-of-Asherah framework provides delightful help on some tricky passages, not only in the OT, but in the Book of Mormon!

Very well done, Kevin.

Johnna said...

I love how Kevin Barney says, right at the start of the article, that we are free to disavow a belief in Heavenly Mother. Because, that's where I'm at.

Though I'm in the minority, I still belong at church.

now I'll go read the rest of it.

BHodges said...

One thing I liked most was the ecumenical tone.

Clinton said...

I found Barney's article to be well written, understandable, and good introduction to the subject. I have often heard Mormons comment that we know nothing about Heavenly Mother. I usually break out in voracious laughter or subtle chortle depending on the situation. Barney only scratches the surface of what is known. I would suggest Raphael Patai's book "The Hebrew Goddess" for a good jumping off point on the subject. While not mentioned in the article the Kabbalistic teachings on the subject are particularly germane and fascinating.

BHodges said...


Jared said...

? I guess this is my invitation to reply to your 11-18 comment.

I just finished reading Kevin's excellent article on Heavenly Mother. When I wrote my original comment I'd kicked the tires but hadn't test driven. Now that I've test driven it I'm impressed.

Kevin, in my estimation, consistently makes thoughtful and scholarly contributions to LDS literature and the Bloggernacle. He is a defender of the faith via F.A.I.R.--on top of that.

From what I read in the 'nacle I would imagine if a popularity contest were held Kevin would emerge on top.

Does this mean I am mitigating or withdrawing my original thought? No, if anything I feel more motivated to write on the subject. My plan is to write something for my blog this weekend.

Lastly, my comment was not directly pointed at Kevin, it is intended for all, including myself.

I feel it is important that we don't confuse or substitute things of secondary importance with things of primary importance. Knowledge about Heavenly Mother is interesting and informative, but knowledge that leads us to Christ and fulfilling are covenants such that we qualify ourselves for the companionship of the Holy Ghost is vital.

Thanks again, for hosting your awesome blog.

BHodges said...

Knowledge about Heavenly Mother is interesting and informative, but knowledge that leads us to Christ and fulfilling are covenants such that we qualify ourselves for the companionship of the Holy Ghost is vital.

I think part of what we can take from KB's paper is an acknowledgment that how we approach the gospel today (as you aptly note, being led to Christ, fulfilling covenants) wasn't necessarily always so. This is a given when we think of various dispensations, and etc. Still, there are (and have been) some members of the Church who pine for a more "equal" (to use a controversial word) role for Heavenly Mother in the Church. I agree that some people can allow this to be a stumbling block, something past the mark upon which to gaze, but at the same time we can appreciate their longing for further light and knowledge. I hope Kevin's article stimulates options but not overlooking. (But even that overlooking is something someone somewhere will argue.)

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, Jared.

Bored in Vernal said...

I had a few quibbles with Kevin's article, too. See my comments here.

BHodges said...

Thanks for the link, BiV.

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