WARNING: YOU ARE ENTERING A SPECULATION ZONE
The following post is not doctrinal. Nor has it been approved by anyone of any standing in the LDS faith. It is merely some ramblings from me, and some of you, regarding a question that is not very important.
How do I know that it is not important? If it were, it would have been discussed by someone with some authority, and delivered somewhere else.
One good thing is that it got me to spend some time thinking about things other than the NFL and food.
Yesterday's post "On Hallowed Ground: A Question" I asked for information, quotes, and experiences - rather than opinions - regarding this question:
When we are on hallowed ground, do we feel the Holy Ghost more strongly because the Spirit dwells in that specific place, or because our hearts are more prepared to feel him because we know we are on hallowed ground?
The result was mostly opinions, and we did poorly with the facts. There were a few scriptures, and some very interesting experiences. It seems that if there is a definitive answer to this question, none of us know where to find it.
It would seem that many believe that the answer to the question is "Both." That the spiritual experiences that we feel at those sacred places are a combination of our preparedness, and something to do with the place itself. However, there seems to be many that feel that the location has little or nothing to do with it, and that it is purely a matter of personal spiritual communion that can happen anywhere.
Matthew Schuda gets a nod for a fascinating cellphone analogy. He said "I believe that the Spirit dwells everywhere and like cell reception it depends sometimes on the network (the place), it sometimes depends on the phone (the person and their ability or willingness to receive the connection) and occasionally there are dead zones where reception can not be made no matter what due to the lack of coverage (where evil resides)."
My favorite experiences shared yesterday were the ones where someone felt the stirrings that they were standing on "holy ground' and didn't expect it, or understand why. I think that's fascinating - Whether it be a cathedral in St. Petersburg, on the bank of the Savannah River, or on Ellis Island. The reason was that I had been asking my EC and some of you, "If you were blindfolded and didn't know where you were going, and I took you to a sacred site, do you think you would feel the Spirit without actually knowing where you were."
I am also intrigued by the idea of "spiritual matter" that Bonnie brought up, because it makes so much sense, and can be supported by scripture. (D&C 131:7-8) Can a location be "transfigured" and maintain a spiritual presence?
My EC and I had some interesting conversations as comments came in, and I had some thoughts that are purely speculation that have been bouncing around my head. So, today feel free to toss your opinions into the ring - with the proper disclaimer - and I will too.
When my wife and I went to Boston a couple of years back, we went to all the key historical sites. We love that kind of stuff. Then we drove out to Lexington-Concord and went out to the Concord Bridge where the "Shot heard 'round the world" was fired. We walked out across the bridge to the Minuteman monument and my wife turned to me and said, "I feel like we are on sacred ground." I felt it too. We were surprised, because it wasn't a religious site per se, and we hadn't felt those stirrings at other historical attractions. But we both felt it.
When we were talking about this yesterday, my wife was showing her wisdom as she explained that she feels a different feeling when standing on holy ground, than she does when experiencing the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I agree. There is a difference to me, as well. Sometimes, I have even felt both at the same time. The best example I can recall is when I went to the Sacred Grove. I immediately felt the sacredness of the site as I entered. It was powerful. But I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost later, as I sought a confirmation. I have felt the Holy Ghost many times, without feeling like I am on a scared site. I have also felt the sacredness of a site without a familiar feeling of the Holy Ghost.
When I sleep, sometimes my mind continues chewing on things like this. This morning, I woke up thinking about St. George, UT. Seriously. St. George? What does St. George have to do with this? Be patient, and it might make sense.
I found my copy of the book "Temples of the Most High." It has lots of discussion from early Church theologians about spirits, and the Spirit World. In multiple passages, the prophet Brigham Young talks about how the disembodied spirits of the Gadianton Robbers (evil) live in and around the mountains of St. George. (I imagine during the winter they hang out in Colin's backyard.)
President Young also commented that the Spirit World is here among us, but we can't see it. The evil spirits are all around us, trying to tempt us. The good spirits are hard at work trying to continue administering the Lord's plan. They communicate, they associate in clans and societies, and they even have meetings. Meetings?
So...here is my leap in the form of three "maybes."
Maybe when we enter a place that is "hallowed," what we are sensing is not necessarily the Holy Ghost, but the presence of other spirits that are there with us. (Yes? No? Maybe?)
If I were a spirit, I would want to hang around with other good spirits in sacred places. If I were a soldier who died at Gettysburg, I might very well keep an eye on the place. If the Gadianton Robbers get to hang around St. George, maybe my clan will hang around temples where my ancestor's work is being done.
Maybe, one reason consecrated places feel so good is that the evil spirits do not want - or can't - reside there. Perhaps what we are feeling is the absence of the evil which normally surrounds us - making spiritual communion much easier. I figure that would apply to temples as well. If a priesthood blessing proclaims a building or sight consecrated, or holy, it seems like the Adversary would not be inclined make that their hangout.
Maybe the sense of the sacred we feel is a function of the ministration of angels, which is made available to us through the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood - through worthiness brought about through repentance, the sacrament, and the power of the Atonement.
There are my thoughts for today. I hadn't thought of any of these things before this discussion, and for that, I thank you all. I enjoy digging in and learning. If you have a chance, get a copy of "Temples of the Most High." It is a fascinating book.
Feel free to opine today!