Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Caught Up to Beatrice

We had an interesting discussion today in philosophy about Dante's Paradiso chapters 1-5. Dante exits purgatory, after having toured hell, and meets Beatrice on the moon's celestial surface. They chat for a little while about those who inherit that lesser 'sphere' and then Beatrice begins to talk about why people are in heaven and why others are in hell. Essentially, she says that those in heaven are there because they took delight is doing whatever was God's will. Those in Hell, as portrayed in the Inferno, are endlessly reviling God and cursing His will. Maybe there is no heaven after all! I can imagine an eternity where everyone is banished to a field forever and ever, and the only difference there would be the smiles on the faces of those who, in this imaginary existence as in past existences, loved God for whatever His will brought to them. And the rest of us would still be in our little hell of frowns and froward thoughts! Perhaps this makes heaven even less of a place than we imagined, turning it into a state of being.

"Be more grave, Christians, in your endeavors.
Do no resemble feathers in the wind, nor think
that any sort of water has the power to wash you clean.

"You have the Testaments, both New and Old,
and the shepherd of the Church to guide you.
Let these suffice for your salvation."

On the same vein, I was researching for a paper about philosophy and religion and was reminded of this quote from Brigham Young that I like, and I'm sure will delight my sister and you, too:

“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self- security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”

“God has placed within us a will, and we should be satisfied to have it controlled by the will of the Almighty. Let the human will be indomitable for right. It has been the custom of parents to break the will until it is weakened, and the noble, Godlike powers of the child are reduced to a comparative state of imbecility and cowardice. Let that heaven-born property of human agents be properly tempered and wisely directed, instead of pursuing the opposite course, and it will conquer in the cause of right. Break not the spirit of any person, but guide it to feel that it is its greatest delight and highest ambition to be controlled by the revelations of Jesus Christ; then the will of man becomes Godlike in overcoming the evil that is sown in the flesh, until God shall reign within us to will and do of His good pleasure.”

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:150

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