Friday, December 16, 2011

You're Killin' Me, Maxwell.

I just want to know if this really did happen. Was this actually said?
Finally, remember: When we return to our real home, it will be with the “mutual approbation” of those who reign in the “royal courts on high." ... Could such a regal homecoming be possible without the anticipatory arrangements of a Heavenly Mother?—Neal A. Maxwell, April 1978
 ...Anticipatory arrangements. 

Anticipatory. Arrangements.

So let me get this straight. Are you really telling me, Neal Maxwell (yeah that's right, I took out that A), are you saying that we know we have a Heavenly Mother because the scriptures tell us there's going to be a party in heaven when we get back--and everyone knows you can't have a party without a woman to make all the plans?

I'm feeling like yes, that IS what you're saying, given the unbelievably condescending nature of the entire talk that is the source of this quote, and especially since these are the lines that were taken out by that little ellipsis up there:

"There we will find beauty such as mortal 'eye hath not seen'; we will hear sounds of surpassing music which mortal 'ear hath not heard.'"

Ah, yes. Naturally, Heavenly Mother would have been the one to hire the band.

Maybe I'm overreacting here. I don't know. But I find this so, so demeaning and incredibly offensive. How could he honestly have just insinuated that when we return to heaven we are going to find our Heavenly Mother heading up the Party-Planning Committee?


  1. Wow, that is not how I took that comment at all. I never once read that statement and thought, "Neal A. wants all the women to be party planning up in heaven because that's what women do".

    Nope, I think his intent was that how could you find yourself in such a sweet homecoming to find a Heavenly Father who loves and adores and misses you so much without the accompaniment of a Heavenly Mother.

    We've been taught well here on earth, we know the laws the Lord has established for a family is a father AND a mother. Why would he have us do that without he himself following that law. Some of the greatest joy we can have comes from being married.

    That's my take on it.

  2. Hi Kristen, thanks for commenting! Your interpretation is probably exactly how Maxwell meant his statement, I won't dispute that. I'm in a slightly cynical place right now and am obviously not trying to interpret this in the nicest way possible, as I would have at one time. :)

    This text, from this wonderful article at By Common Consent, sums up pretty well why I feel the way I do about it:

    "Like it or not, women in the Church exist primarily for the benefit of men. They birth, nurture and care for, provide companionship for, and ultimately exalt men. For men exaltation consists in doing and having all that the Father does and has (including an eternal companion). For women exaltation consists in hearkening to, being sealed with, a helpmeet to, and presided over by an exalted husband.

    Is it possible that She remains inscrutable and invisible to us because we’re only capable, in our present state, of conceiving of Her as a Heavenly Wife to our Heavenly Father? That we aren’t given knowledge of Her because the moment we learned definitively of her existence we would immediately see Her as primarily an incubator and nurturer of God’s children, as a helpmeet to and presided over by Heavenly Father? Suddenly what always seemed like such an outlandish rationalization—that we don’t talk about Her out of respect—acquires an ironic and deeply disturbing logic. Is it possible that Heavenly Father, assuming that He fully and completely loves and respects our Heavenly Mother, simply will not grant us speculative access to Her? Or, better yet, is it even more likely that She refuses to reveal Herself, Her true identity, to a people who are likely to imagine Her as speaking nothing but deference and submission to male leaders in the dulcet tones of Primary Voice? Given how we infantilize and subordinate women, their roles, their duties, their nature, and their potential, perhaps even thinking about a Mother in Heaven, much less talking about Her in such subservient terms, is a kind of blasphemy, a consummate act of disrespect toward One who deserves much, much better."

  3. The quote bothers me too. In Mormon doctrine, LDS gender roles are emphasized: women are nurturers, preferably as mothers; fathers are leaders in the home and the church. That is already problematic, but here's where it gets even more tricky/painful. If mothers' primary responsibility is the nurture of their children, why do we - as children of both HF and HM - not have access to our mother figure. I know some argue that we do, but there is little to no doctrinal support for that perspective. In fact, some have been excommunicated for suggesting She is accessible through prayer and advocating such communication.
    The quote you relate is an extension of the idea that the divine mother figure is passively involved, if at all. The father is bringing the children home and working out their salvation, the mother is getting the home ready. Men doing, women helping.

  4. That's exactly it, Linds. In a vacuum, totally by itself, this comment wouldn't mean anything. In a culture that teaches that men lead and women follow, this comment makes a pretty devastating implication about feminine deity.

  5. Neal Maxwell's comments (I, too, left out the "A.") are disrespectful of women. Period. On top of this condescending attitude I shudder at a tendency to describe "heaven" as something quite similar to this physical planet we call Earth.