Sunday 16 November 2014

My Book of the Year - The Great Gift by William Arkle


Without any doubt, the most important book of the year for me has been William Arkle's The Great Gift - and also the other works by this theologian, philosopher and artist.

The Great Gift is available online

But I would recommend buying the book - which is a lovely volume (full of colour plates of his paintings), and still cheaply available.


What is it that I have got from Arkle's work, mostly from close study of the writings, backed up by meditation on the paintings?

Well, I could summarize by saying that his insights have amplified Mormon theology at a number of crucial points; points which I personally felt somewhat lacking.

The main aspect is in relation to The Plan of Salvation - which is the CJCLDS's basic narrative description of what life is about:

Fully accepting the validity of the Plan of Salvation (which I do), what Arkle answers, for me, is why God wanted to establish the Plan of Salvation - specifically, what was God's main motivation?

Arkle answers this by means of his inspired, intuitive, empathic ability to identify-with the mind of the Creator; which he seemed to attain partly by meditation and partly by his own artistic creation - especially painting.

Everything Arkle wrote is trying to explain his understanding of God's primary motivations over and over again - in different words, using different analogies, and via different media - and then 'unpacking' the implications of this understanding.  


Here is one attempt, from the essay Wisdom in The Great Gift:

My understanding of this absolute form of wisdom depends on an ability I believe we have to resonate with the deep heart of our being into the deep heart of the Creator's being and feel, with that very deep sense of in-feeling, how the Creator felt towards creation before it began.

In other words one can learn to feel what it was that the Creator was longing for, aspiring to, or simply desiring, from the great work and the great effort that he has engaged in in what is known to us as creation. Now, if we can feel with all our deepest understanding, our deepest intelligence and our deepest perception, what it was that the Creator looked for, above all else, in creation, then, and only then, shall we be close to the absolute point of wisdom which I believe is in the absolute point of deepest desire in the heart of the Creator's being.

As I myself attempt to do this, I come away with the understanding that the greatest longing that was in the Creator's heart before creation, and which brought about creation and brought into existence the individual beings, who each of us is in the Creator's eyes and to one another, was the desire to have real individual friends, in the deepest possible meaning of that word. Friends to share his understanding, his joy and his wisdom within the context of real friendship, which creates a vital relationship between each friend and the other friend, from which ever-renewing possibilities and responses can grow.

My feeling is that the Creator first of all wished to bring into existence real and individual children, whose nature was based on a part of his own divine nature, but the characteristics of which were to be developed by each of those individual children as they grew up in the universes, or the universities, of his creation. They would develop in the nature of their own individual spirits, so that each of those children would become a unique individual child and then, hopefully, would become more than a child - would wish to grow into a mature condition which was not as a child to the Creator, but was as an individual being to the Creator.

Thus all these beings could each have creative relationships of friendship and gladness with one another and with the Creator. Not with the Creator as a special 'God' individual, who was not approachable as other friends are approachable, but He himself wanted to be able to befriend us and have a creative friendship with us as we befriend one another and have a creative friendship with one another.


1 comment:

Leo said...

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 15:15