Reconstructing Joseph Smith’s “First Vision”

(This continues a series of posts about reconstructing the Mormon/Christian narrative. Please read this introductory post first, if you haven’t already, before continuing.)

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.

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Reconstructing Mormonism’s “God the Father”

(This continues a series of posts about reconstructing the Mormon/Christian narrative. Please read this introductory post first, if you haven’t already, before continuing.)

The God we are referring to is often known in Mormonism (and more generally in Christianity) as “God the Father,” “Heavenly Father,” or just “the Father.” He is the highest God, and this God is referred to predominantly as a “he” or male figure, although it is also taught occasionally that he is married to a wife (“Heavenly Mother”) and they jointly occupy that highest position of God. As a man or couple, God is portrayed literally as a human being, with a human body of flesh and bones, albeit resurrected (immortal), glorified, and exalted. God is said to be the governor of the universe, and the father of humanity. Humans are made in the image of God, are God’s literal offspring, which is why we too have a human body of flesh and bones. God is a personal being, who hears and answers prayers. It is taught that our goal in life is to become like God the Father, to be a God and live in heaven for eternity. We do this by following God’s commandments, his laws.

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What does it mean to be “a god”?

There are stories, legends, mythologies, folklore, traditions, histories, scriptures, and texts from all around the world which tell us of humans who have reached the stature of the gods. They have, in essence, become “a god.” Some recognizable examples are people such as Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), and Muhammad. The process that these went through has been called theosis, deification, divinization, realization, awakening, and enlightenment. What does it mean to become or be “a god”? Continue reading “What does it mean to be “a god”?”