I have had the privilege of reading in manuscript a collection from letters from William Arkle to a young friend and spiritual-disciple/ -colleague; spanning from the middle 1980s to near the end of Arkle's life (in 2000).
These have provoked all kinds of thoughts on that vital matter which Arkle 'made his own': questions on the nature of God, and God's hopes and aims in creation.
For all Christians; God is (or should be) a person, not an abstraction.
We are God's children (that is related-to, descended-from God); and God loves us.
Beyond this, there are differences of understanding; and there is indeed a difference in my understanding and that of Arkle. More precisely, in his early work, Arkle described what I believe is true: God is a dyad, Father and Mother in Heaven: God is our Heavenly Parents.
This is also the understanding of Mormon thelogy; and it natually goes-with an understanding of each Human Being as - in his or her eternal primordial essence, and eternally in future - either a man, or a woman (never neither, nor both).
This metaphysical reality does not necessarily map-onto what may happen to an individual man or woman in terms of biological sex and/or sexuality during this mortal, earthly incarnation - which has the nature of a temporary experience for us to learn-from. My understanding is that - whatever happens 'superficially' in mortal life - each of us eternally has been, and eternally will be, essentially (by the nature of our true and divine self) a man or a woman eternally.
But by the 1980s, Arkle had apparently moved to a view of God as primarily both man and woman simultaneously (a He/ She); and this goes-with an idea of sex as relatively superficial to the essence of Human Being - and with reincarnation as potentially alternating (as 'required') between the sexes; neither being the essence of a Human Being. Or with sex (and marriage, and procreation) being 'discarded' when a Human Being has reached Heaven
(Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield also share this understanding of sex. And it also goes-with an understanding of spirit-form as both the past and future of Man: Man was a spirit, will become a spirit; and physical incarnation is an intermediate stage, for experience and learning only.)
Whereas by contrast; my view (and the Mormon view) is that physical incarnation is higher than spirit life: bodies are better. Including that God is embodied - i.e. God is physically-bounded and in the same as human form (or rather, causally vice versa); God is not an omnipresent spirit.
So, for me, God is embodied, and indeed two bodies: God is a dyad: Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.
This matter of "what God is like", whether God is One or Two, is a vital to our metaphysics; because it decides our understanding of why God embarked on creation. Our inferred motivation of a unitary, solo God is very different from that of two Heavenly Parents, distinct but united by their mutual love.
(Traditional Christian theology has it that God was utterly self-sufficient, and without needs (or desires). Trinitarian theology makes the love of this unitary God also be (somehow) sub-divided into the mutual love of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But either way, the creation of Men and everything-else by God is an ultimately gratuitous act - and Not a matter of God seeking greater satisfaction, Not a matter of God needing, wanting, desiring or yearning. I personally reject this line of reasoning on the basis that God is a person, like our-selves in an ultimate sense; and that God does have passions, wishes. In particular I regard Love as the primary passion of God, and I regard Love as having in its nature many aspects such as needing, wanting, desiring and yearning.)
Arkle's inference, based on his understanding of God as unity and a real person - is that God before creation must have been lonely and bored. God's greatest need was for things to do, and people to do-things-with.
From this, Arkle derives an understanding that creation is essentially a matter of overcoming loneliness and boredom; of creating Beings who can develop to become like himself, and of creating many other things 'for fun'.
Arkle encapsulates this in the ideas that in making Men who can evolve towards full-deity God is literally Making Friends; creating Beings who - it is hoped - will become 'friends' at the same divine level as God. And secondly that all the other Beings of Creation are made as a kind of ultimate 'play'. So that for Arkle life is - at its highest, most divine - created life is about play with and among friends.
It should be noted - and this comes through repeatedly in these late Arkle letters, that loneliness and boredom are negative motivations - therefore creation is a kind of cosmic therapy for the unitary God.
My own view, based on God as the loving-dyad of celestial husband and wife, of Heavenly Parents; is that creation is a natural consequence of the existential nature of Love. Creation is the positively-motivated overflow and expansion of spousal love.
This is nothing esoteric, but a motivation that has been experienced (albeit perhaps partially and temporarily, as is the nature of mortal life) by countless husbands and wives through Man's history. Parental love seeks its own increase through children; and through a creative attitude to life and living.
In different words, the spontaneous expression (consequence) of parental love; is to co-create (in harmony with God's already in-progress creating) an open-ended, expanding-and-harmonious world; in which the family lives creatively.
In a nutshell, God is like the perfection of married love, and what God wants from creation is analogous to what a loving husband and wife want, given a husband and wife who are themselves members of loving families.
Thus (in an eternal persepctive) God wants children, and loving-developing family relations; wants new family and friends (i.e. permanent friends, maintained in harmony by analogously-familial love); wants a whole created-world of other (increasingly creative) Beings of many kinds, natures, motivations - but (ideally, and in actuality in Heaven) all maintained in Harmony by their mutual love.
God Wants to Play
Another person who sees the ludic as central in God's creation - interesting, and far from the fearsome tyrant that so many Christians believe is the reality.
@Barry - Something of the sort seems to flow from regarding God as one person - any motivation must be essentially un-motivated: 'gratuitous'.
To me, given that 'play' is not actually central to the lives of anybody - except maybe some extreme atheist sexual-hedonists - this seriously under-sells God's motivation!
People have been trying to argue some version of play as primary to life for a good while: Homo Ludens by Huizinga was 80 years ago; post-modern theorists from the 80s were also pushing this (Don Cupitt, Richard Rorty, James P Carse).
But in 2020 to propose God as primarily about play is hopeless, given that both the elites and the masses around the world have given-up almost all forms of real-world play, with hardly a murmer of dissent - from high arts, to sports, to... everything social - it's all-but gone.
Clearly if play really is proposed The most important thing in life, then we should acknowledge that play not important enough to motivate the difficult virtues: courage, love, self-sacrifice.
But anyway, Christians already know that Love is the primary motivation. It's just that the monotheism which philosphers inserted-into Christianity makes it impossible coherently to explain *how* their version of an omni-spirit-mono-God could actually Be motivated by Love.
I believe I state what is accurate when I say that:
1) even in the least of heavens, sexuality (& marriage) plays no role in the birth of a heavenly child.
2) the heavenly child does indeed have mother-father.
3) there is still gender in heaven.
A question for you. If sexuality has no role in the creation of a new being (of that kind), would you still endorse it for beings of that kind?
@BSRK - I don't accept any of your premises; and as far as I recall from your comments on William W's blog you aren't a Christian (Hindu?) and don't believe God is a person, a parent, that loves us. So, there isn't any point in debating specifics - is there?
Thought-provking post. A few questions:
"[...] physical incarnation is higher than spirit life: bodies are better. Including that God is embodied - i.e. God is physically-bounded and in the same as human form (or rather, causally vice versa); God is not an omnipresent spirit."
Is it not impossible that both be the case simultaneously? How could God enter into our hearts and minds, indeed, have a Holy Spirit if He were only physically bounded? How would that work? I think that Spirit is superior to Body, but (Omnipresent) Spirit+Body is superior to just (Omnipresent) Spirit.
"So, for me, God is embodied, and indeed two bodies: God is a dyad: Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother."
Does this mean that the God we pray to is a Dyad, or one part of the Dyad? If the former, then wouldn´t in a way we be praying to both a Fully Divine Man and Woman simultaneously? If the latter, wouldn´t we be leaving out a incredibly important aspect of divinity? Given that there is nothing (or almost?) about a Heavenly Mother in Holy Scripture, why would God The Father have left this knowledge out (at least for now)?
I personally think when we pray to God, we are praying to God the Eternal Father. It makes sense that there be a Heavenly Mother, but I can´t claim to know anything about Her at this point in time (which is not to say nothing can be known about Her in mortal life).
"This matter of "what God is like", whether God is One or Two, is a vital to our metaphysics; because it decides our understanding of why God embarked on creation."
Yes. It is also vital because this would means there is a "realm" of divinity (knowledge, power, attributes, goals, etc.) which we are not currently aware of (That presided over by Heavenly Mother). This means there is a Dimension (for lack of a better word) which we are not seeing or comprehending (or thus truly addressing), but which is powerfully operative at all levels of reality.
"In particular I regard Love as the primary passion of God, and I regard Love as having in its nature many aspects such as needing, wanting, desiring and yearning."
Yes. Not sure about the second part though - it seems to imply that God is incomplete or lacking in some way, which I don´t think is the case. I think it might be more accurate to say that He creates out of love, but this love doesn´t imply lack (if His creation doesn´t requite Him, as seems to be abundantly the case among His most important creation, I don´t think that His creation is therefore permanently "substandard" compared to what it could´ve been if there had been greater reciprocity). In this sense, I think His love has a "playful" element to it ("playful" because the consequences of what happens with his Children do not permanentely bind God to a "lesser reality" than what could´ve been). This does not mean that Play lies at the heart of Creation (which I agree with you is clearly not borne out by the facts, both of man in history and of man to-day)
"From this, Arkle derives an understanding that creation is essentially a matter of overcoming loneliness and boredom; of creating Beings who can develop to become like himself, and of creating many other things 'for fun'."
I can´t agree with this, the notion of a bored and lonely God strikes me as impossible. Unless by "boredom" and "loneliness" something other than their usual, common-sense meaning is meant.
"My own view, based on God as the loving-dyad of celestial husband and wife, of Heavenly Parents; is that creation is a natural consequence of the existential nature of Love. Creation is the positively-motivated overflow and expansion of spousal love."
Yes. This "Creation out of abundance" may have an (important) element of playfulness to it, as I mentioned above, but it not ultimately about games.
"Thus (in an eternal persepctive) God wants children, and loving-developing family relations; wants new family and friends (i.e. permanent friends, maintained in harmony by analogously-familial love); wants a whole created-world of other (increasingly creative) Beings of many kinds, natures, motivations - but (ideally, and in actuality in Heaven) all maintained in Harmony by their mutual love."
The fact that this is something we can all relate to very clearly (as opposed to Theology which tries to fit Christianity into (neo)Platonic categories), makes it MOTIVATING (how we be motivated by what we can´t really comprehend?), ENCOURAGING and CLARIFYING (makes sense of a lot of the Word of God and Personal lived experience, in a way which is coherent).
And therefore, facilitates a truly Christian life, which is a tough life in many respects, focussed around the positive traits of love, harmonization and creation, as opposed to the negative traits fear, guilt and torment, which tend to make people fall away from the path.
@GB - "How could God enter into our hearts and minds, indeed, have a Holy Spirit if He were only physically bounded? How would that work?"
I think it is an illusion of materialism to assumed that a bounded body means an inability to connect spiritually. It seems that people lived an almost communial spiritual life, while being incarnated. As young children, we may be able to recall believing that other Beings knew what was in our minds, or that if we thought a thing, this made it happen.
(Steiner and Barfield have described that our bodies are something like 'condensations', or concentrations of spirit; to me this suggests that we gain by incarnation.)
If you word search incarnation on this blog I have discussed this. I think incarnation is to do with increased agency, but does not at all limit are ability to participate in the spiritual - to be aware of, potentially to influence, creation.
"Does this mean that the God we pray to is a Dyad, or one part of the Dyad? If the former, then wouldn´t in a way we be praying to both a Fully Divine Man and Woman simultaneously? If the latter, wouldn´t we be leaving out a incredibly important aspect of divinity? Given that there is nothing (or almost?) about a Heavenly Mother in Holy Scripture, why would God The Father have left this knowledge out (at least for now)?"
I can't answer all this - but would point out that I believe that the Mormon church (CJCLDS) from 1830 did bring a new set of revelations, which do contain this information. I think this happened because, for contingent historical reasons, either aspects of revelation were not thought to be appropriate for earlier times, or the revelation was lost.
Whatever the reason, the revelations have been there for more than 150 years for those prepared to look; and they can be 'tested' by personal revelation (intuition) in the way we ought to test any purported revelations.
As for praying, I suppose people should pray to whoever they find effective in a Christian context (the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, Blessed Virgin Mary or the Saints, for example) - but if I was pushed, it seems to me that we probably ought to be praying to/ communing with mainly/ primarily Jesus Christ (who is the Holy Ghost, by my understanding) rather than the creator/s. This makes the most sense to me; given that it is by following Jesus that we attain salvation; and the Holy Ghost is our comforter and teacher. But, I don't see why this has to be exclusive.
Also, I bear in mind, that as of now - almost all prayer is personal (or family) prayer - since the churches are shut, and online prayer isn't really A Thing.
Given the above, it may be that prayers to Mary and some female Saints are actually also prayers to Heavenly Mother; and perhaps also prayers in the right spirit directed to some goddesses, in history and in other religions.
As 'always' motivation is primary.
" it seems to imply that God is incomplete or lacking in some way, which I don´t think is the case."
I don't know where the assumption comes from tha God is 'perfect', undivided, without emotions etc, unless of classical Greek and Roman philosophy; but it has become pretty universal among mainstream Christians. Yet all through the Bible God is described as having the same emotions as Man, and creation as a work in progress.
I found The God That Weeps, by Terryl Givens to be very clarifying on this matter, and to express my own intuitions. (He is a Mormon.)
Do you think that William Arkle's metaphysics would have changed if he'd have lived long enough to see the world become as it is now?
When I first read Arkle, I was charmed by his 'concepts' - I love the idea that as spiritual beings, we are 'here' in order to "play"(create, experience, etc) with this 'material realm' God gave us...
...but the world is just too vicious now, there's so much sadism - one simply has to develop a metaphysical reason for our being here which is compatible with God as Love, because to "play" does not make sense.
@cae - An interesting question. What has become clear to me only recently, is that Arkle was still pushing for better understanding, right up to his death. This was, as for all of us, a trial and error, hit and miss, kind of thing - as for all of us.
For example he tried abstract painting for the first time, seriously; and played around with computer paiting too. I don't think either of these lines worked all that well, especially Not the computer painting and manipulation - but my point is that he was still striving.
However, you ask about 'the world', and its effect on Arkle's ideas. What I see is that the world only got through to Arkle in an extremely filtered way - he took what he wanted or needed, and the rest seemed to have little or no impact.
For example, he would read or recommend to people an anonymous channeled book from the early 20th century called El-Daoud: the Father King. I can't make any sense out of this, and apparently neither could anyone else that Arkle tried to press it to - but he found all kinds of affirmations and encouragements there.
There was an inner toughness about Arkle which underlies the superficial 'sweetness and light'. He followed his own line, and found his own unqiue niche. A lot of this was his wife Elizabeth, who seems to have been a practical women, and who worked to create the kind of situation Bill needed for his work.
You can see this inner toughness at work in the recorded lecture which has survived online: https://www.wessexresearchgroup.org/lectures4.html / https://www.wessexresearchgroup.org/audio/wrg_william_arkle_discovering_your_souls_purpose.mp3
It is particularly interesting to see how Arkle deals with the questions, in the Q&A session following the talk proper. He is pretty tough and unyielding. I think it is characteristic of genius that it needs to be both sensitive and open; and at the same time stubborn in defence of its needs.
In this Q&A you can see a man operating from the 'endogenous' basis characteristic of genius - prepared to cause offence and annoy people if necessary, rather than being conciliatory and sociable, or muddying the issue.
My point is that I think Arkle would have 'found a way', trusting in God, even in today's world - but it would not have been the same way as he found those decades ago.
Thank you so much for this great response, Bruce!!
The lecture you linked is amazing - so much wisdom in there - I hope your other readers see it and take the time to listen to it all!!
And he actually outlines (at least within this lecture) a metaphysics very similar to yours - with the concept of our purpose 'in life' being to learn from our experiences in order, in Arkle's view, "to grow-up" so that we can become "eternal divine friends" to God as well as to each other.
Having listened to Arkle describe his metaphysics here, I think the only 'difficulty' is that he doesn't seem to include demonic beings in his 'cosmogony' - likely due to having been somewhat sheltered (by his times as well as his wife) from awareness of the extremes of Evil active in the world currently.
Thank you again and best wishes,
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