Friday, January 8, 2016

Small Offering

Let us Liken: 

 "... seek learning even by study and also by faith." (D&C 109:7)

I do not believe we learn some things by study and other things by faith. I believe true learning--the kind that changes us and is part of our becoming--is both. The connecting word in the scripture is "also" not "or."

When we say we have faith, we are really speaking of faith in Christ. It helps me, therefore, to think of learning by faith as learning by Christ. It is centering the compass of our mind in him. It is qualifying and inviting Him to become our mentor (through the Holy Ghost) in a personal, individualized, intimate way.

When I feel moments of curiosity it is like I'm feeling a question being asked of me by the Spirit. Just as any good teacher might ask leading questions, all these little curiosities are not separate subjects, but are often linked to deeper questions that come ever closer to the "point" the Spirit of Christ eventually teaches me.

I take those curiosities, like puzzle pieces, and save and gather them. Then, by study, I analyze, weigh, and consider how such pieces of revelation fit together to make a complete and whole understanding. Each puzzle that is completed changes me. By faith I gather, by study I connect. But it is all made possible because of Christ. 

And beyond all our discoveries in his words and being, there lie depths within depths of truth that we cannot understand, and yet shall be ever going on to understand. Yea, even now sometimes we seem to have dim glimpses into regions from which we receive no word to bring away... Our advance from our former ignorance can measure but a small portion of the distance that lies, and must ever lie, between our childishness and his manhood, between our love and his love, between our dimness and his mighty vision. 
~ George MacDonald, "It Shall Not Be Forgiven," Unspoken Sermons, p.36

Beyond this small thought, two offerings--treasures I've discovered this week. "Liken" them if you like.


Socrates: ... Consider, then, what being released from their bonds and cured of their ignorance would naturally be like... When one of them was freed and suddenly compelled to stand up, turn his head, walk, and look up toward the light, he'd be pained and dazzled and unable to see the things whose shadows he'd seen before. 
... anyone with any understanding would remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely, when they've come from the light into the darkness and when they've come from the darkness into light. Realizing that the same applies to the soul, when someone sees a soul disturbed and unable to see something, he won't laugh mindlessly, but he'll take into consideration whether it has come from a brighter life and is dimmed through not having yet become accustomed to the dark or whether it has come from greater ignorance into greater light and is dazzled by the increased brilliance... If that's true, then here's what we must think about these matters:
Education isn't what some people declare it to be, namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes... But our present discussion, on the other hand, shows that the power to learn is present in everyone's soul and that the instrument with which each learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body... 
Then education is the craft concerned with doing this very thing, this turning around, and with how the soul can most easily and effectively be made to do it. It isn't the craft of putting sight into the soul. Education takes for granted that sight is there but that it isn't turned the right way or looking where it ought to look, and it tries to redirect it appropriately.  
~ from Plato, Allegory of the Cave


God is forgiving us every day—sending from between him and us our sins and their fogs and darkness. Witness the shining of his sun and the falling of his rain, the filling of their hearts with food and gladness, that he loves them that love him not.  
When some sin that we have committed has clouded all our horizon, and hidden him from our eyes, he, forgiving us, ere we are, and that we may be, forgiven, sweeps away a path for this his forgiveness to reach our hearts, that it may by causing our repentance destroy the wrong, and make us able even to forgive ourselves. For some are too proud to forgive themselves, till the forgiveness of God has had its way with them, has drowned their pride in the tears of repentance, and made their heart come again like the heart of a little child.  
But, looking upon forgiveness, then, as the perfecting of a work ever going on, as the contact of God’s heart and ours, in spite and in destruction of the intervening wrong, we may say that God’s love is ever in front of his forgiveness. God’s love is the prime mover, ever seeking to perfect his forgiveness, which latter needs the human condition for its consummation. The love is perfect, working out the forgiveness. 
God loves where he cannot yet forgive—where forgiveness in the full sense is as yet simply impossible, because no contact of hearts is possible, because that which lies between has not even begun to yield to the besom of his holy destruction.  
... When a man’s evil is thus fading out of him, and he is growing better and better, that is the forgiveness coming into him more and more. Perfect in God’s will, it is having its perfect work in the mind of the man. When the man hath, with his whole nature, cast away his sin, there is no room for forgiveness any more, for God dwells in him, and he in God.

... It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated.  
... as far as we can, we quench the relations of life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in all? 
~ George MacDonald,“It Shall Not Be Forgiven,” Unspoken Sermons p.30-32