Every religion has those little things that “we’d rather not think about,” linking present-day back to the Good Ol’ Days that conservatives are always stretching to get back to.
Of course the most obvious is in Western Christian religion which points out that marital divorce between a (married) man and woman (with subsequent remarriage) is an abomination punishable by death. Forgetting this small Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) factoid then gives rise to a group with a 50% Abomination Rate (aka: Divorce Rate) to speak out loudly about “defending” the Religious definitions of marriage. They get so wound up as to create laws protecting their Traditional Marriage while somehow skipping over any necessary laws to deal with their own like, nearly half of whom are in the Sin Soup because they have divorced and re-married.
Western Christians are also lousy at basic math, like: How is it that Jesus could have died on (Good) Friday, was in the tomb three days, and then appeared in the garden to the Marys on Sunday, 1.5 days later.
There is one of those slips from memory that I like only because a really cool song came out of it. The “we don’t talk about that” in this case comes from the LDS Church (The Mormons) and the concept of the planet Kolob.
Before you leave this page and look it up, Kolob, in the early LDS teachings is the heavenly body nearest to the throne of God, as cited in the Book of Abraham (in the Book of Mormon) as follows:
And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
The concept doesn’t match with any astrological bodies, and doesn’t come up much in current-day Mormon religious teachings, so it has sort of slipped out of general sight. However it still exists in one of the most fascinating hymns in the American songbook today: “If You Could Hie to Kolob.”
The tune is very recognizable and if you’re the church going type you’ve likely heard it many times, it is the hymn tune Kingsfold, an old English folk tune. In some churches the song is “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.“
I am neither a fan of nor an expert in Mormon theology. All I know is that 1/2 of my father’s family are LDS from a familial split in the early 19th Century. Half of the folk stayed in North Carolina to scratch out whatever they could while the other half hitched their wagons to the star of the Angel Moroni and landed in Texas, converted to Mormonism, and were there when many of those in the Mormon faith were massacred in attacks that we would today call genocide.
The survivors split, with a few staying in Texas, and the rest moving along to Utah, the epicenter of the Mormon faith. And there my knowledge ends because my part of the family, the outsider part, isn’t spoken of by them, and we don’t know enough on this end to say anything more than…. “they left us.”
I’m not sure how much of the Mormon faith lies in the concept of Gnosticism (the theology of “knowledge“) but the lyrics of this hymn put me of a mind of some of the ancient Gnostic writings, particularly a quote attributed to Jesus (in the Gospel of Thomas-Judas, the Twin) that said (in paraphrase)
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
The gnostic belief was one of self-knowledge and the idea that by knowing that which is within ourselves, we come to know and understand that which is God. Quite literally – God is within us.
This is an easier to understand concept than thinking of God as some old guy with a long white beard sitting on a big throne in the sky, very distant from us. It seems very Eastern in thought and nearly Buddhist. And it was also considered, by the second century Christian church to be blasphemous heresy.
(We can add a bunch of church history and organizational politics on why that happened, but it’s moot to our point. The bureaucratic church decided that the intense personalization of one’s experience with the Divine ran counter to the universal 3 tier arrangement (bishops, priests and deacons) that was becoming the norm.)
Looking at the Kolob song, the gentle meandering tune allows the singer to mentally pause among the words, and (hopefully) drink in the concept the song puts forth of the singular connection between the singer and the Universe/God. If we see Kolob as a metaphor for the spiritual experience, you could mess up the poetry and be saying, “If you could for one instant be standing just to the right side of your Creator, and stand in that presence, would you be able to see deep into the beginnings, way back beyond where we came from, and realize the beginning of the one who created all?
“Would you be standing so close to the Infinite Is-ness … the very being of your God – that you would see (understand) beyond the here-and-now, beyond simple worrying and sadness. Would your understanding of God reach even beyond the stars and planets to that place where there is no place?”
Eastern religions would refer to this as becoming the Enlightened Master.
I have no idea what LDS folk think of when they sing this song, if that universal vision beyond the pale is in their mind, or if it’s just a quaint old tune with a title that sounds vaguely Scottish, and is something-or-other about Heaven.
Listen in your meditations and ask yourself the question that the first verse requires of the singer. Wonder what it would be like to stand so close to that which you believe is that creative being. Would your vision (by faith) extend even beyond that?
Consider what it would be to understand God as that idea exists in the here-and-now. To be closest to God within our own understanding, as the idea of God lives within us, and emanates from us to those around us.
I have no doubt that the early church would have considered this beautiful and imaginative hymn a complete blasphemy, too. And so much the less for them, in their narrowed experience of the concept of the ever-changing, always-creating God.
Keep the Faith!
If You Could Hie to Kolob lyrics
hymn tune: Kingsfold
If you could hie to Kolob
In the twinkling an eye
And then continue onward
With that same speed to fly
Do you think that you could ever?
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where God began to be
Or see the grand being
Where space did not extend
Or view that last creation
Where gods and matter end
Methinks the spirits whispers,
“No man has found your space’
Nor seen the outside curtains
Where nothing has a place
The works of god continue
And worlds and live about
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round
There is no end to worry
There is no end to love
There is no end to being
There is no death above