There is no doubt I keep learning things. I mean I had no idea that until the late 1970's Mormons had laws against Africans - or negroes - becoming members of the church, let alone leaders.
I am sure it was easier to re-interpret, re-write and re-work to allow non-white males to enter the church leadership than it was to do so in regard to discrimination against women. Racism is I am sure, harder to defend within the strictures of Christianity than is sexism. Women have, it seems, raised this discrimination in law and the courts have always ruled in favour of the religion - hardly surprising in the United States given how pervasive fundamental Christianity is, although hardly just or right.
The more exchanges there are, the more I can see commonalities of belief in Mormonism - it is after all sourced in Christianity and all religions are sourced in a common spirituality, albeit one heavily disguised with dogma. But Mormonism is, at the end of the day for me, just another religion with all of the faults, flaws and bigotry that the others display. But, as long as we communicate there is connection which offers insight, if nothing else.
You said: We are taught that before the world was created there was a grand council in heaven in which our Heavenly Parents and all of us, their spirit children participated
This fits with much esoteric belief although different terminology might be used. I don't relate to grand councils etc., but I could be wrong - however I do believe that this world was created consciously.
You said:. The plan proposed that we come to this earth to obtain physical bodies,
Yes, ancient spiritual teachings of many kinds hold this sort of view and I believe we are spiritual beings having a material experience.
You said: forget almost all of our premortal experiences,
This is a theme found in many myths and legends and of course makes sense. If you remembered then it would be confusing and would limit the materiality of the experience. The River of Forgetting in myth and legend is the River Lethe, named after a Goddess.
LETHE, the stream of oblivion, was one of the rivers of the underworld and its goddess. The others were the Styx, Akheron, Pyriphlegethon and Kokytos. She was sometimes identified with the Daimon Lethe, the personification of forgetfulness.
'Past life research' is a new field of study in psychology and offers further insight into why forgetting what has been can have positive and negative effects. One wonders if cases of multi-personality are sourced in 'rememberings' of other lives. Such cases are particularly interesting given that there are clear physiological changes - eczema or allergy disappearing for instance - when the 'new' personality takes over the body.
Forgetting before we enter this world seems very sensible.
You said: and learn by our own experience here the difference between good and evil - by making choices and implementing them
This is also a common theme, particularly from the patriarchal age but it is not the only theme. Much spiritual teaching would have that because we live in a world of matter we live in a world of opposites and that we are here to learn to live in this world of matter and of opposites (not good and evil specifically) in order to make the spiritual manifest in this material world.
You said: We were told that because we would make mistakes it was necessary that a means for justly dealing with those errors and their consequences would be provided i.e. the 'Lamb slain before the foundation of the world' , what we now know as the Atonement of Christ.
Other teachings would have 'errors' judged solely by the individual - the Christ factor would be that the Higher Self, Soul, or Christ Consciousness of the individual would work with our 'ego' to help us learn both in this world and the next.
You said: Lucifer argued against this plan claiming that he could save all of us presumably by programming us or our circumstances so that we would all choose correctly. Lucifer's ideas caused a war in heaven and he was cast out (along with those whom he deceived) and will not obtain a body as we all have nor be able to be resurrected as we all will be.
This only makes sense to me read metaphorically or symbolically. Again, it is a common theme in many religious and spiritual beliefs but not necessarily one taken literally. Lucifer means 'light-bringer' and the name is associated with the ancient Goddess religion - it is one of the Latin names for the morning star, Venus. Given how hard the Christian church worked (actually all religions have in the patriarchal age) to demonise the religion it supplanted, that of the ancient Goddess, there is a good argument that the demonisation of Lucifer is merely misogynistic re-writing of ancient spiritual belief. Lucifer may well have symbolised the Double Goddess and as such could have no part in religion once God became a Man!
You said: Michael, a leader in the war in heaven, was chosen to become Adam, the father of us all; I suspect that another great and noble leader was chosen to become Eve and yet another to much later become Mary, the mother of Him on whom our redemption largely depends. Gabriel when he visited her said 'Hail thou that are highly favoured among women'.
Again, I could make sense of this reading it metaphorically not literally and in symbolic terms, yes, you can find similar teachings in many spiritual sources. Just as an example - Mary represents the feminine which is the source of our spiritual nature and Adam represents the masculine, the spirit sent forth from the source, focussed consciousness arising out of diffuse awareness but the truth of who we are (what saves us) is sourced in that which we define as feminine. The terms masculine and feminine have been so literalised their meaning is often confused - but the qualities they represent are in each and every one of us.
You said: I'm sure our Heavenly Parents discriminated very carefully in choosing her as her son's mission had to be accomplished perfectly in order for their promise of redemption for us to be kept.
It is all a bit too organised for me. More fable, parable, metaphor than possible reality. Our 'heavenly parents' - equals God, sends from the source, that which we call feminine, the son, spirit, out into the world of matter in order to make soul manifest in a world of matter; redemption being the creative expression of the spiritual as material.
You said: Jesus was born, lived a perfect life and paid the maximum possible penalty by his sufferings in Gethsemane and Golgotha. This created an Infinite Atonement giving us all an equal chance to repent and have our mistakes washed away in the blood of the Lamb. Prophets have testified of this plan of redemption from the beginning and have more often than not been rejected because repentance goes against the grain of human nature.
Yes, this never made sense to me in any literal way. Symbolically full of meaning - literally, non-sense. The literal reading is just too small, narrow, petty and unlikely. These literal and patriarchal interpretations of the bible run counter to common sense and our spiritual realities as expressed throughout history.
You said: Jesus taught ' Blessed are ye when men shall revile against you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake - for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.'
It is metaphor. What this means is that when we deny our Christ nature - our spiritual nature then we deny the truth of who and what we are and that it is not easy to either remember one's spiritual nature, nor if one does, to expect others to believe it.
You said: The repentant (not the perfect - only Jesus was or could be perfect) -
Why? If Jesus was a mortal man then he clearly was not perfect. If he was not a mortal man then there was no literal Jesus. Nothing is 'perfect' in this material world - that is the nature of it - opposites or as you would say, good and evil.
You said: are those called to 'spread the word' and the measure of our repentance is usually closely related to our effectiveness as servants to our fellow beings.
I simply do not see a need for repentance. I believe we are all utterly perfect, because we are God in essence, and we should never be judged anyway by our actions, which can be constructive or destructive - but then that is also subjective often. I believe one may condemn the act but not the individual.
You said: We don't need to worry about the justice or mercy of God - that has been demonstrated.
I don't worry. Not in the least. I don't believe any God which could exist would have a need to judge or be merciful - God is Love and Love is unconditional. To my mind it is very simple - if I am wrong then it is oblivion and I won't know about it anyway and if I am right then we all end up in the next world, not so dissimilar to what we are in this world, just without our material body - continuing on our path of becoming.
You said: We do need to consider our own ways. How just are we? How merciful?
Of course we do, within the limitations of our natures and within the woundedness that we all possess. If I learned anything growing up with a mentally ill mother (and I had a mentally ill mother-in-law) and a damaged father, it was this and I hold it as an absolute truth:
'People are more damaged than evil and more frightened than cruel.' Neither my mother or my father were capable of being more than what they were - they did their best from their place of woundedness, as did my mother-in-law and as does everyone.
You said: We are promised that as we judge others so shall we be judged (which I believe confirms what you have said about NDE experiences).
Yes, except that we are not so much judged as we re-experience our life completely including the effect we have on others - we live or re-live all that we are and all that we have been to others. But the other thing which comes out of NDE's is that there is absolutely no judgement - we just get to understand who we have been and what we have been to all those with whom we came in contact.
You said: It will be interesting to see how it all works out in the resurrection but I am sure we will all come to know that we have been fairly and mercifully dealt with and that our Heavenly Parents do in fact love us all equally.
I don't believe in a resurrection. It doesn't make sense. It is Christian dogma and not something found in most spiritual teachings throughout history.
I believe that if there is a next world it is a spiritual one as opposed to material but a better version of this - As Above;So Below. I have also read one theory, in varying forms, which does make sense to me and that is we get the heaven we expect - in other words, consciousness creates reality and if you are a Hindu you find what you expect to find, etc., and, over time, as you re-member who and what you are, there are Higher Souls, angels, pick a word, who guide and help you to move on - to other worlds perhaps or to another re-incarnation.
You said: I would refer to you Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants in which Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw a vision of the degrees of glory in the resurrection - also Section 138 in which Joseph F. Smith in 1918 reported a vision of the redemption of the dead.
Visions are tricky. Many religious and spiritual leaders had visions - there are common themes but I also feel that visions more than anything else, like dreams are meant to be interpreted metaphorically. There is very interesting material in books on Shamanism and psychology/psychiatry, showing the common archetypal themes to which we all have access through the collective unconscious as Carl Jung called it.
We 'know' subconsciously more than we know we know - as Donald Rumsfeld so famously was perhaps trying to say! One very interesting case documented by Jung, who studied astrology, mythology, I Ching and various esoteric writings was of a patient in the mental hospital who saw the sun with a phallus - a common mythic image which Jung later could recognise, but of which the man, completely illiterate, had no knowledge. And, at the time of the man's vision, Jung had no knowledge either and it was meaningless to him. Later he found instances of such 'visions' in various spiritual teachings.
Needless to say, as with all things, there are countering arguments as to the veracity of this 'story' but there is no doubt that broad and extensive reading of shamanism and mythology provide enough connections to make the original story believable. In essence, as with all things, based on our knowledge and perspective, we make up our minds what we choose to believe.I find the links between physics/science/mythology/nature/spirituality/art/religion .... well all of life actually, fascinating.