This is an expanded version of the talk Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon gave at the Houston Region Mormon Stories Support Community conference held 20-21 January 2012. Using the biblical accounts of Jacob and the angel, and Jacob and Esau, as key texts, and organized around the central image of a “wrestling match” being simultaneously a fight but also an embrace, along with the idea of the close ties between making love and making war, the talk is geared toward providing ways of thinking about faith crises in positive ways–as integral parts of the larger human developmental journey–and then allowing those kinds of encouragements to work on our hearts and minds in a manner that will allow us to make peace with God (even if we totally end up thinking about or experiencing God or Truth and/or the spiritual path in new ways), church, friends and family who may be struggling with our pulling away from them in terms of having a shared worldview, as well as, even most importantly, ourselves. From this place of greater centeredness, achieved only as we go through the life and death match and agonizing processes of coming to fully center authority in ourselves and our own deep and genuine experiences rather than by giving that authority over to others–persons, institutions, and texts–we will be able to joyfully interact once more with loved ones. They may still not “understand” what we have (and are still) going through, but most of them will not be able to resist us in our greater, more peaceful and happier incarnation forever. And even if they continue to do so, we will be fed by a deep sense of peace and connection and groundedness in spirit that we will be able to be patient and still lovingly interact with them.
We are called to the arena. God/Spirit/Our highest self is ready and encouraging us to fight–and through that fight to love more deeply. Will we answer the bugle’s call?
Note from Dan Wotherspoon: This was produced as a narrated slide show, and the end result is far too long! I get this! I totally didn’t expect it to take this long to say all that I wanted to say. It is not a comfortable thing for me to play the role of “sage on the stage” and be in front speaking. I’m far more interested in serving as a vehicle for others to step into the forefront to share their insights; I far prefer the kinds of conversations I host in a typical Mormon Matters episode. But when all was said and done with this crazy process of recording the things I would have liked to say if I’d had the time to do it at the Houston conference, I have to admit that it did feel good to “put out there” in sort of a big chunk many of the things that animate my life and journey within Mormonism and in my own personal wrestles. I hope it doesn’t come across as too self-indulgent to present these ideas at such great length. I promise this will not become a habit! Back to panel discussions next week!
Link to Rick Jepson article, “Godwrestling: Physicality, Conflict, and Redemption in Mormon Doctrine” (Sunstone, November 2005)