10 December 2008

So THERE you are Paradox!

So I had this really nice post planned in which I would implore any and all who have not done so to watch I Am Legend. Besides inspiring my lovely and newest obsession with Bob Marley, the religious context is right on! I love a good dystopia any day, and the fact that it weaves religious elements into the mix has always been appealing to me. The vampire/zombies also prove to be highly appropriate because it's finals and/or flu season here at the Y, so naturally we all feel like we're sick and/or dying.

However, it was impossible for me to discuss the religious elements of the movie without giving away the whole plot. Seeing as I'm not willing to do that (which should be a REAL indication to you of my profound respect for this movie), I will simply demand that you watch it, and that's all you get. (And should you leave the experience thinking, as one seminary teacher does, that the movie is "nothing special," I suggest you brush up on your ability to recognize a Christ figure, realize that I AM Legend is a significant title, and watch it again.)

Not that we give much heed to the opinion of seminary teachers around here anyway. (Try not to take offense just yet. I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.)

One of my favorite elements about I Am Legend, however, was the intertextuality of Bob Marley's music. The only songs that come up in relation to the movie are Redemption Song and Three Little Birds, but I've since explored many others, and was surprised at what I found.

Bob Marley uses a lot of Biblical allusions in his music. He even manages a direct connection to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nago in Survival. For some reason, every time I tell someone about that around here, the first thing he or she says is "I don't even think there's a Primary Song about that." I kid you not, this was not only one of my initial reactions, it has been the statement of at least 3 or 4 people at this point. I'm not sure why.

One of the RAs I was eating dinner with last night asked, "Didn't he worship weed?"

I didn't know. I told him that I knew he was a Rastafarian, but that I wasn't sure what that means.

One of my friends made a pointed comment about Bob Marley's hygiene, and whether or not the presence of the "37 different kinds of critters living in his hair" outweighed his message; a comment I promptly ignored.

When I came back to my room, I decided to explore both Bob Marley's life and the Rastafarian movement while I was studying my Book of Mormon quotes via electronic flashcards, and listening to "Jamming." Apparently, it's a Rastafarian tradition to use "herb" as a spiritual conduit to a higher state of thinking and spirituality. It appears to have been an optional practice.

What appears to have not been so optional was the Rastafarian's belief in the Bible. According to Haile Selassie, the king of Ethiopia and leader of the Rastafarian movement, "unless [man] accepts with clear conscience the Bible and its great Message, he cannot hope for salvation." Having listened to much of Bob Marley's music, that belief is the bulk of his message; as is his faith in Jah, the Rastafarian's name for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in the trinitarian sense.

While Rastafari concepts expand into beliefs that deviate from my own (belief that Haile Selassie is an incarnation of God, that Jesus was a black man, among others) I see no reason to focus on those differences, especially when they relate to something as inconsequential as Bob Marley's dreadlocks. And I'm sure that when I put something like this into words, it looks really stupid when you read it. But I really have to wonder how often I am guilty of the same thing? Passing a completely irrational judgment of something I don't understand, thereby interfering with my ability to take away a really valuable message. I detest when people do this, and yet I know I'm just as guilty of doing it as anyone else.

Which is why I'm not surprised that for several weeks now, I've been reconciling with one of my worst prejudices--the one I have against seminary teachers.

I was watching one of the devotionals a couple of weeks ago that we have every Tuesday, and it was on the subject of spiritual education in the Church. It was so impressive to hear about the sacrifices that men and women have made throughout the Church's history to provide for the spiritual knowledge of its members--especially its youth. Hearing about Brigham Young Academy (the precursor of Brigham Young University) and its rich history alone was such an eye-opening experience. The devotional then mentioned an exhibit on campus that I visited soon afterwards.

As I meandered my way among the tales of sacrifice that have gone into educating the saints, I came to a very personal realization--one that felt as if all of the disconnected pieces of my life were suddenly falling into place.  My talents, my interests, my patriarchal blessing, my place in my life right now--all of it suddenly aligned in to reveal an image of something both remarkable and unexpected.

I want to be a religion teacher. I want to be able to do what my Book of Mormon professor has done for me by challenging me to become acquainted with the scriptures on a very personal level. I would love to one day be qualified to teach at BYU, preserving the sacred history of ancient scriptures to the rising generations. Learning from the scriptures has brought me such joy, and I've missed teaching so much. The idea of combining those two loves into the mission of my future has already buried itself deep into my heart as a dream I can't wait to start pursuing.

Imagine my apprehension when I went to my Book of Mormon professor's office to speak to his TA's about my options from this point--and they told me that I should go and look into the seminary teaching program across the hall.

Seminary teaching? You mean those pompous old men that manage to be condescending while at the same time assuming you've heard everything they're saying since the womb? What a way to find oneself in the belly of the beast.

And yet, it's an appealing option. I would be teaching in a classroom setting by my sophomore and junior years. I could finish my degree and actually have some prospects. It would be a lot like a mission, since there are so few positions I would go wherever I'm sent. Still, I was rather tentative to accept it as an option, and sure enough a hindrance presented itself before very long.

Should I ever have children, I would be expected to resign from my position and stay in the home with them. Every fiber of my east coast being instantly resisted this idea, and yet I knew I had to control my thinking. I have no concept of what it will be like to be a mother. If the Lord would challenge me to sacrifice my own professional interests for the sake of my family, it truly must be THAT important.

But I should not assume that I'll even be presented with the opportunity to marry in this life. Sometimes it just doesn't work out, and I will need to provide for myself should that occur--especially in a career where I would be satisfied with my work.

I see no reason not to proceed, and I do so with a destination in mind. It will require a lot of preparation; I have thousands of pages of scripture to become acquainted with in a VERY short period of time. I have personal biases and an overabundance of my own ignorance to transform into something usable... and a strong desire to meet the challenge that has been set before me:

"Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand."
Doctrine and Covenants 88: 78

4 comments:

  1. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4

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  2. You'll be wonderful, and goodness know the church needs seminary teachers like you, and fewer... of that other kind.

    I love to see the doors in your life opening! As my gramma would say, "it's fun to be you!"

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  3. I taught early morning seminary twice and loved it. I think you would be an awesome teacher.

    Ultimately, I echo sojourner.

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  4. Found your post. Good thoughts. Good goals.
    I left the workforce (my choice) when I started raising children. The Lord has put my religious teaching skills to good use many, many times in the ensuing decades, including five marvelous and sleep deprived years of early morning east coast seminary.
    You develop the skills and knowledge and for sure He'll put you to work in sweet ways in places and times you may not now anticipate. Remain open to not only your outlined path, but all the ones He sees as possible too. The course may change as life does, but the journey is good the whole way through.

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