These are some of my notes and reflections on Fr. Rohr's opening address at the conference a couple weeks ago.
I suggest that Joseph Smith's earliest direct encounters with God happened in mystical experience, or what is also known as altered states of consciousness.
What is qualia? What is the source of individual instances of subjective conscious experience, like seeing the redness of an apple? Where does the redness come from? I don't know, but here are some ideas. Energy in our environment impinges upon our sense organs causing a cascade of electrochemical reactions and nerve impulses that are [...]
Thinking of God as a male human(s) out in the universe somewhere seems to be a primitive, magical, supernatural, and archaic conception of the Divine, literalizing the pronouns of "He" and "Him," and in the Christian tradition of "Father" and "Son." I've written about this specifically at least once before, but it's worth discussing more.
An addition to the BHT, containing the earliest account of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ in the New Testament, where Paul describes his witness of the resurrection and what it means to be resurrected into Christ consciousness. This seems to be an excellent summary of the Christian Gospel, or "good news," but it is something which I think we've generally misunderstood in Christianity for centuries. I feel that this is one of the most important translations of the BHT that I have been given the Grace to work out yet—yet not I. I was in tears by the end.
We often think of ourselves as one being, one human, a single individual that was born, who lives their life, and dies. But is that the case? Or is there more to it?
Mormonism traces back its history in modern times to its founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., and his "First Vision." Joseph was a young farmer boy who lived in western New York, born in the early nineteenth century. This was the time of what's known as the Second Great Awakening, and where Joseph lived is known as the "burned-over district." It was a time of much Protestant religious excitement, revivals, reforms, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations (which eventually included Mormonism). A Restoration Movement grew in popularity in the area, which involved ideas of "restoring" a pure, primitive, uncorrupted, and original form of Christian faith.
The "Holy Ghost" is perhaps one of the most mysterious figures in Mormon theology (and perhaps more generally in Christianity). Many Mormons likely know this being of the Godhead as a "personage of spirit," which "has not a body of flesh and bones," "were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell within us" (D&C 130:22). This already begins to sound quite supernatural, a ghostly person that may come and dwell within me? How are we to make sense of this?
I am not fond of much of the New Age movement. Sometimes my thoughts about mysticism may seem like the New Age, but I think that is because the New Age has adopted a lot of mystical language and concepts, not that classical mysticism inherently belongs to the New Age. They are two different fields, which have some overlap. The New Age developed just in the 1970s. Mysticism has been around for millennia, indeed, for all of human history, in every part of the world.
I listened to a conversation between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris in Vancouver on June 23, 2018, where Harris asked this seemingly simple question (which had been previously asked of Peterson): "Was Jesus literally resurrected?" Peterson said it would take him 40 hours to answer that question. Harris offered his own succinct answer: "Almost certainly not."