28 December 2015

Will Be Back Soon

Hey guys! Just a quick update... my computer mysteriously died last week, so I'm waiting for a replacement! Check back soon. Merry  Christmas!

18 December 2015

Festive Brisbane

This week has been a pretty crappy week... but let's start with the good stuff.



First of all, check out this amazing cronut truck! I still don't know how I feel about cronuts. Every experience I have seems like a bit of a let down... I keep trying though (I WANT to love them!).



We did a little Christmas shopping downtown. There were decorations everywhere, and festive music, and fun window displays.... Still trying to get in the seasonal mood, so far I'm largely failing. But the clash of summer and Christmas is starting to feel really fun, festive, and tropical. 






Now on to the sad... After a couple of weeks of nausea and dizziness, I was sure I was *finally* pregnant. Unfortunately, I'm not... even though it hit me a little harder than usual, I just picked myself back up and we started looking seriously at adoption. 

We've always wanted to adopt, we just figured it would happen after we had a few biological children. Unfortunately, the more we started looking into it, the farther away it started to feel. Being in the UK means a lot of extra issues-- both financial and legal. It is so frustrating because having a baby feels so impossible right now.

So, I inhaled like nine Ferro-Rocher bon bons (in one sitting), had myself a good ugly-cry to Adele, and have just decided to let what happens happen. We found out this week that we'll be coming back to Australia from February-May, neither fertility treatments nor adoption can happen til we get home. So we'll have to see...

In other news, we had a great company Christmas party with Jon's colleagues. It was full of food, poppers, paper crowns and wonderful Aussies. I do think food makes everything feel better. :)

10 December 2015

When Does the Soul Enter the Body?

A couple of years ago, when we lived in New York, I had to fill in for the 8-year-old's primary class at the last minute. We played the usual scripture hangman for about 15 minutes, until we'd hit that proverbial wall of boredom. Sensing the need for movement, I took the kids to the gymnasium for a game of follow-the-leader. Every time we switched leaders, the new "it" person got to ask me any (church related) question they wanted.

The kids were pumped (and so was I), they were only eight after all... how intense could the questions be?

Answer: VERY.

Among questions about whether God had a wife, what happens after we die, and why we do we have to get baptised anyway, there was one question that really caught me off guard. She asked, "So, when does a baby's spirit go into the mommy's tummy?"

I was pretty shocked. Particularly because I realised that, although I THOUGHT I had an answer, I had no way of backing it up.

This question has stuck with me for several years now and has become especially poignant in light of our struggle with fertility.



MORMON THEOLOGY

My perspective on this comes from a predominantly Mormon theology, and really rests upon the idea that before we were born, we still existed as intelligences, or spirits [1]. Although mainstream Christianity rejects the idea of a pre-mortal existence (mostly because in the very early Christian church, the concept was thought to be both too pagan and too Jewish [2]), the Bible is plump with references to our antemortal life. [3]

Still, even with the knowledge that our spirits existed BEFORE we came to earth. When exactly that happened is a highly debated issue. There are mainly three schools of thought on this issue:

1) The spirit enters the body at conception.

2) The spirit enters the body at birth.

3) The womb is a transitional space where the spiritual presence is known as "a quickening."

I've done a lot of pondering and praying and I actually think it may be a combination of #2 and #3.



WHAT THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS HAVE TO SAY

The apostles and prophets do not necessarily all agree on this. Some are for option #1, some for #2 and some for #3. However, the majority seem to support the following:

- President Brigham Young said he believed that “when the mother feels life come to her infant it is the spirit entering the body.” [4]

- From “The Origin of Man” message issued by the First Presidency in 1909: “The body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man.” [5]

- In 1975 James E. Faust stated, “Some say, as did the Supreme Court of the United States, that it is only theory that human life begins at conception. This is contrary to insurmountable medical evidence…Because she feels it, every mother knows there is sacred life in the body of her unborn babe. There is also life in the spirit, and some time before birth the body and spirit are united. When they do come together, we have a human soul.” [6]

Now, as I mentioned, not all prophets and apostles agree on this.



BUT WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY?

The most well known example of a fetus discussed in the scriptures is when the virgin Mary meets her kinswoman Elisabeth. When they meet, Elisabeth exclaims that she feels John leap for joy and is filled with the Holy Ghost, a testament of Jesus. [7]

This would seem to support #1 and #3. Both John and Jesus are present and somewhat conscious in their mother's wombs BEFORE they are born.

Interestingly though, if we look to the Book of Mormon, Jesus (whose spirit was definitely present inside Mary early-ish in her pregnancy), suddenly appears to Nephi the day before He is born. If His spirit was locked into His body from conception, that would not be possible. Therefore, it seems more likely that womb is a transitional space, where the spirit is not necessarily permanent until birth. Perhaps it takes nine months for the spirit to get used to existence within a body. [8]



SYMBOLICALLY THIS MAKES SENSE

It helps us understand the sacred nature of the calling of motherhood and the significance of the female body, as it is one of the only places that the veil is most thin on the earth.

Also, if we look at the way Christ describes baptism as being "born again" [9] we learn that our first birth, should in someway, be in similitude of that ordinance. In utero, a baby is held in ambiotic fluid. This water is the transitional space from one world to the next. In baptism it is the same-- as we are fully submersed in the water we are in a transitional space from our early life to our new life, in God.



MISCARRIAGES AND STILLBORN BABIES

With all this said, I believe that miscarried babies will get another chance-- their soul will have the opportunity to try again and be born in a new body. This is supported by the Church's stance to NOT seal miscarried or stillborn babies to their parents. [10] If the child is born alive, these ordinances can be performed.



ABORTION

I think the next natural place to carry this is to abortion. If a baby is going to have the opportunity to be born in a different body anyway, why is abortion bad? Isn't it actually more merciful to have that baby born into a family that can take care of it?

My simplest answer is an emphatic NO. Abortion may not technically be murder, but it is the next closest thing. [11] You are ripping the opportunity of a body away from a spirit (which is needed for it's eternal progression). In a more trivialized way, it would be like getting a full-ride tuition scholarship, having it in your bank account, and then you parents removing it and spending it simply because you going to school would be an inconvenience. It is not ok. 

Spencer Kimball taught: “Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day…” [12]

Still, this perspective is the only way I can account for the churches position that abortion is acceptable in the case of rape, incest or where the mother's life is put in danger. Still, the church asks for prayerful consideration before any abortions are performed.



CONCLUSION

This is a subject I am still developing my understanding on and would love to hear your thoughts. When do you think spiritual life begins?



NOTES:

[1] A great article on the topic from the New Era.

[2] The decision was made in 553 AD at the Second Council of Constantinople that the doctrine pre-existence was heretical. This was mainly due to writings by several early church fathers (notably Origen) that believed classic Greek philosophy of Plato and Euclid were not inconsistent with Christianity. For those in charge, Greek philosophy = paganism, regardless of the doctrine's merit or scriptural validity.

[3] There are many scriptures within the Mormon canon that describe the pre-existence. However, my favourites from the Old and New Testament are:

[4] (Journal of Discourses,17:143.)

[5] (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970, 4:205.)

[6]  (Ensign 5:27-29, May 1975)



[10] Quoting from "I Have a Question" September 1987:

"Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, quoting President Brigham Young, wrote that “‘[Stillborn children] are all right,’ … and nothing in the way of sealings or ordinances need be done for them.” (Bruce R. McConkie, comp., Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955, 2:281.)

The question of whether stillborn children will be resurrected and belong to their parents in the hereafter is really the crux of the matter. This question is, as yet, impossible to answer with certainty. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that “there is no information given by revelation in regard to the status of stillborn children. However, I will express my personal opinion that we should have hope that these little ones will receive a resurrection and then belong to us.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:280.) He said nothing about miscarried children."

[11] In the Stake Presidents and Bishops Handbook 1 (2010), it says on page 57 that “abortion is not defined as murder.”

[12] (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.189)

Special thanks to the Herveys, Palmers, Scotts, Youngs, and Zimmermans for allowing me to be apart of archiving your beautiful families.

07 December 2015

Mount Coot-tha Botanical Garden

The other day, we drove up to Mount Coot-tha to see the botanical garden there. It was gorgeous! There were a million species of plants I'd never seen before and the whole place was lush and tropical.


Afterwards, we drove up to a look out point to see the skyline. My, my Brisbane you are lovely!

04 December 2015

And We're Back



A couple of weeks ago, Jon and woke up with plans to go to Charlie's for more smoothies (because it is seriously an addiction at this point). I flipped on the tv while Jon was in the shower and turned to the news. Because of the time difference, I was watching the attack in Paris unfold in real time. The news anchors were scrabbling around trying to find information... then Obama spoke... then President Hollande announced a national state of emergency.

As the death toll ticked up higher and higher through the day my heart hurt so badly-- not just for the people of Paris, but those in Kenya and Beirut and elsewhere that were attacked.

Still, if I'm being honest, ISIS feels like a scary fairy tale. I know I am not fully conceptualizing what's going on or that there are people just like me being raped and tortured and killed daily. I suspect most Westerners-- especially Americans feel the same.

It is the only reason I can understand the fear and vitriol that was spewed across Facebook in those days after the attacks. It was enough to make a girl go, "I'm outta here!" and take a break from blogging for a little bit. There was too much negativity and straight up stupidity, and I just could deal with adding to the noise.

But, now I'm back!

So, Australia.... things here for the past two weeks have been good, although pretty uneventful. We've had a few adventures, though Jon has been working crazy hard and pulling several all-nighters to try to get things done. Good news is, he LOVES his job. Bad news is, I've sort of been on my own, which makes adventuring a less exciting.

Still, there is too much to share! Let's take a look at the hood...

 This is out side our back porch (above)... and this is what it looks like outside the front (below)










Here are a few shots from around the neighborhood:


Like London, most of the museums are free here, which is awesome. I hoped off the bus the other day to go to the art contemporary art museum, and I turned down a path to find these guys hanging from the ceiling! The best part is that there were whale noises coming from a speaker overhead. 


I LOVE aboriginal art. So. Much. When I was in high school, I had some of my own work at an charity auction and there were some massive aboriginal paintings went up for bid. I think they only went for $150-- and I still regret not being able to buy them. 

Its not just the aesthetic, which is gorgeous all on its own, but the sacred nature of the art. Traditionally, sacred stories and dreams would be drawn in the dirt  and then covered up. In the 70s, a man named Geoffrey Bardon went to a rural aboriginal village in Papunya and encouraged the people to put the stories down with paint. Because those stories revealed so much of their sacred heritage, the people used a system of dots to obscure the under painting. 

Below you can see paintings hanging on the wall in the background at the Brisbane Contemporary Art Museum, but in the foreground you can see funeral poles. These poles are hallow and painted with the same design that is put on the deceased body during the burial rite.  The painting pattern is meant to give a "singing quality" to it, to evoke ancestral power. I can't even express how completely quieting and reverent this art feels. 


We also had Thanksgiving! It was a little sad... our Tahitian friends had to cancel last minute, so we had a massive turkey to eat all by ourselves. But thanks to our appetites and the 'You've Got Mail' special on TV, we had a pretty festive evening anyway.


Jon surprised me by taking me to the Mocking Jay part 2 the other night as well. We rarely go to the movies (because in London it practically costs your first born child just to get in the door), so it was really fun. The best part was walking down to the pier for Cali-Mex food and stroll with this view...


Otherwise, I've mostly been working on (yet again) my grad school applications. I am so determined to FINALLY go this year, nothing short of a nuclear bomb is going to stop me. I've gotten my head back into the scholarship game and have amassed a list of £34,000 worth of scholarship money that I can apply to. I've realised/remembered a lot of really helpful information regarding getting money for school and will probably write a series of posts on that if there is interest (let me know!).

Anyway, lots more to share in the next couple of days. I promise I'll be better about posting more regularly!