Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Mystery of Eden, A Benefit Auction

Meridian Magazine and I are auctioning 6 Paintings that celebrate the Temple and the Garden of God. 100% of the proceeds from the paintings will support the "Celebration of Marriage."

You can place a bid by emailing me ( your full name, contact info, name of the piece and the bid amount. Bid increments must increase at least $25. I’ll notify you by email each time you’re outbid. The auction will end at 9pm MST on Friday, April 18th.

Below the pictures you can read a description of the meaning behind the images.

#1 Apple Blossams, Original watercolor
 (5 x 10 inches) 16 x 20 inches framed
High bid: $500
High Bidder: LL

#2 Fox Gloves, Original watercolor
 ( 10 x 10 inches) 18 x18 inches framed

High bid: $100
High bidder: AC

#3 Circle and Square, Original watercolor
(9 x 6 inches) 18x22 inches framed

High bid: $275
High bidder: JS

#4 Sacred Memory, Giclee Print with deckled edge
 (14 x 14 inches) 20 x 22 inches framed

High bid: $200
High Bidder: VA

#5 As the Dews Descending, Geclee Print
 (15 x 15 inches) 26 x 26 inches framed

High bid: $100
High bidder: SB

#6 Almond Blossoms Limited Edition 187/500 Giclee Print,
 ( 5 x 16 inches) 14 x 26 inches framed

High bid: $100
Highest bidder: MS

The Mystery of Eden

From the Egyptian Isle of Embracing, to the Asian Kunlun Mountain, every culture in every age has told the story of the garden; the paradise where men and women unite to create life and love.  No matter what our origins, this foundational story, upon which cultures rise and fall, reminds each of us, of the interplay between life, and love, and the promise of Eternal Life in the “Garden of God.”

Each of these diverse garden stories have defining significance for the cultures that they inspire.  As Latter-day Saints we turn to the temple to see the Judeo Christian paradigm story in it’s purest clarity.  As one LDS temple sealer explained the Eden story, “That there might be no question as to its nature and purpose God himself performed earth’s first marriage uniting the man Adam and the woman Eve as ‘one flesh’  in a union that was to be as Eternal as God himself. It was in that sacred ceremony that the command was given that they multiply and replenish the earth.”

In attempting to understand that sacred ceremony, we can find no better setting than a garden, since God describes the glory of the New and Everlasting Covenant as “a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.” (D&C 132:19)  God had earlier described his intent and purpose in creating this first man and woman by saying, “We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply” (Abraham 4:28)  It was only woman that could give Adam that “fruit.”    Only that beguiling gift,  both fatal and fruitful, would fulfill the New and Everlasting Covenant, achieving the ideal that their seeds “continue.”

Because of Eve’s power to create life, Adam’s posterity would live on the earth long after his death, making Adam eternal.  Eve created a fruitful line of Fathers and Mothers that would literally “continue” throughout “all generations of time.”

Yet the covenantal promise was to achieve eternity in two different spheres: “both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars.”

Only Sealing power would give their children Eternal Life, or life after death.  Just as Eve gave Adam eternal life through childbearing,  Adam, using the priesthood, gave Eve and her children Eternal Life through the ordinances of the gospel.  Only together, acting as one flesh, could they achieve all that was intended by the Eternal Father.  

In uniting the “Father of Many,” and the “Mother of All Living,” God defined the need for relationships,  the sealing ordinances, the function of the priesthood, and our divine inheritance as sons and daughters of God.

Our temples recreate this divine setting where we may gather to Eden, following the pattern established by the Eternal Father; to be sealed in family units, every child tied to his mother and
father, preserving the garden of humanity, beneath the boughs of the Tree of Life.

Adam and Eve’s  lives were defined by their origin and gender in Eden and the promise to pass cherubim and a flaming sword in order to again commune with their Father. This setting illustrated the sealing power and it’s significance in the lives of the human family,  as  we “weld” families together, sealing each of us to a birthright that is both divine and biological-  A married mother and a father,  bound in a new and everlasting covenant.
Adam’s desire to return to the place where he walked and talked with God in the cool of the evening could not be restrained from his children—grandchildren of paradise.  The scriptures describe our first parents making “all things known unto their sons and their daughters” (Moses 5:12). Of course, the first high priest taught them to return to the temple to be sealed. Would Adam invent an alternative to the pattern God established in the garden?

This paradigm story reveals our divine relationships not only between man and wife, but also what it means to be parent and child.  It reveals what we inherit as children of God, and what part of that birthright that we pass on to our children. It is a powerful identity we can only discover in the garden of God—as we embrace those we love in the pattern that was established in Eden; A pattern that creates both Eternal life, and eternal lives, two different gifts that combine to create the fruitful continuance designed in Eden,  the garden of God.

Amelia wrote this fabulous piece for Chocolate on my Cranium:

Last spring I was invited to speak at the Utah State Capitol about a child’s perspective on marriage. The event was a concert hosted by Alan Osmond and I was to speak immediately after Governor Herbert. The rotunda quickly filled to standing room only-- almost a thousand people showed up. Surprisingly, half of them were protesters. They surrounded the gallery, many wearing costumes, body masks and face paint, blocking the entrances, and holding signs about bigotry and hatred-- sometimes even climbing on stage.

Since we often think of tolerance as a virtue, it was surprising to see signs that said “Close your bible and open your mind.” Several signs called religious people bigots, which didn’t bother me at all because I’m not a bigot. But there was one which said “Mr. Osmond, why are using the children against us.”  I was the “child” that they were talking about.  They were already watching me, and knew I would be speaking. They thought I was a tool and didn't think I could have an opinion of my own.

With the stage set I realized how crucial it was for a child’s perspective to be heard.  Obviously children are often heard complaining about their parents.  I'm no exception. My mom doesn't just burn dinner, she sets it on fire. Often. She's not perfect. No parent is.  But to every child mothers and fathers are irreplaceable.

When I was eight or nine, I had a close friend whose parents were getting divorced. She asked me, “If you had to give up one parent, which would you choose?” I could not decide. My mom and dad both have their strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes down to it, I need both parents.

It was painful for my friend to be told that she could only have one half of her family because of her parents’ decision. Parents who cannot resolve their differences often choose divorce as a solution, but for the child it is a calamity to lose half of their home.

In the years since, I have seen many of my friends wrestle with fractured homes and families. I have other friends who faced life without ever knowing their fathers, friends taken away from one or both of their parents, friends who had to choose one parent over the other. It was painful for each of my friends. Children are the people most affected by abandonment, adultery, divorce and other marriage or familial "re-definitions."

I sometimes want to ask, why are adult relationships so much more important than a child’s?
Consider looking at marriage from a child’s point of view.  Every child deserves a mother and a father.  No one can deny that God gave each child that gift. As children we have a legitimate interest in a stable home, protection from fathers and nurture from mothers. We deserve it.  And we need it.  Marriage is the way society meets those needs.  Marriage attaches mothers and fathers to the children they create.  
Because children cannot protect this birthright for themselves, government has always recognized and protected marriage. In fact, it is the primary reason that governments and religions recognize marriage at all.
People today claim that it is bigotry to limit the definition of marriage. Was it bigotry to stop marriage between relatives? Was it bigotry to forbid old men from marrying young girls? Was it hatred to forbid people from committing incest?  Does anyone have a civil right to eliminate a mother or father from a child’s life in order to meet their own romantic needs?

Marriage promises that children will have the most essential relationships in human experience. It is cruel to deprive children of those natural relationships without a very compelling reason.

While not every family achieves every aspect of the ideal, it is undeniably wrong to dismiss the needs of children.  Same sex marriage would change the legal ideal for all of us, not just the homosexuals.  It would create an ideal that says children do not need both a mother and a father, but instead declare that the main purpose of marriage is emotional adult satisfaction.

In such a world, government would be responsible to promote and enforce an ideal that separates rather than encourages a child’s relationships with his or her mother and father.  Not because it is necessary, as happens in adoption, but  just because some adults prefer it that way. From a child’s perspective, that is not “ideal.” It is cruel.

It was surprising to see how differently people responded to my opinion. Although it was fun to have Alex Boye make such a big deal out of my speech last June, many people called me names, sent hate mail, and other people dismissed my opinion, saying that my parents were teaching me to be a hater.

We may have returned to an age where children are meant to be seen and not heard, but I’d like to point out some scientific facts. Children do not need to be “taught” to need a mother and a father.  It is a biological instinct.  They have to be “taught” to live without a mother or a father because of the selfishness of adults.  

It turns out adults are the ones who need to be taught.