I know of a lot of people who think Mormons aren’t “real” Christians. I always thought that was an interesting and hypocritical view because so many of the Christian denominations spun off because of a similar view of another denomination. To my knowledge, Mormonism is the only one that stood away on its own because of an additional revelation and not just a new understanding of the same scriptures used by everyone else. (Although, to a smaller degree this did happen when Protestantism became a thing and so there’s a difference between the Catholic and Non-Catholic bibles.)
I recall one gal I am fond of, and who is a very devout young lady, telling me that Mormonism is a cult. To that I simply reminded her that in its own formative years, original Christianity (which of course wasn’t called that then) was THE picture definition of a cult: Smallish group of people who saw a human as a man-god and made a new religion from it. (AND a Middle Eastern cult, no less, which really made her cringe)
For a lot of reasons I won’t go into here, I explore Mormonism when I have the time. It’s low on my priority list because I’m not at all looking to change paths, but I do like to understand the world as much as possible and I’m somewhat curious by nature. I’ll tell you now that I’m usually more intrigued by what I read than I am put off. If you remove Mormonism from arenas like politics where it’s too easy to force views onto other people, and just start digging to see how deep you can go just to see the religion as religion, then you may be surprised. As a gay person, I can say that there is certainly a hard line that prevents Mormonism from ever being anything I could seriously consider – too much on their various sites confirms a general consensus that I am, at best, second class and in need of fixing. Been there, done that (with the Baptists) and I have no interest in a repeat. But all that aside, which is really putting aside A LOT, there are many things about the Mormon path that I find to be encouraging and helpful.
In some of my studies, I sometimes find things that most who are simply curious would maybe not come across. I’m usually looking for things that set it apart from being just one more bland denomination of Christianity. One of those is “Kolob” and I wanted to write just a little about it because the hymn has very much impressed me.
Below you’ll see a short, modern music video of a hymn that is uniquely Mormon and to say I love it would be a great understatement. It’s called “If You Could Hie to Kolob” and I love it because it seems to parallel some deep teachings of Hinduism in some unexpected ways… At least, that’s the case from where I sit, and I love seeing where religions overlap. Before you read more and start to feel the need to correct me on anything let me be clear about something: I’m viewing this through Hindu lenses. My understanding or interpretation may or may not fall in line with what Mormonism teaches, but that’s not at all my concern. Anyway, there are a number of YouTube videos showing different renditions of this hymn and I encourage you to search them. You can click here for a display of the lyrics offered by the Latter Day Saints, although below I’ll share more about the lyrics.
From various LDS sources (misc. websites and blogs, etc…which I’m not going to cite here) I’ve learned much. I’ve learned that Kolob is a planet-star that is physically the nearest to the actual physical location of Heaven or God. My understanding of the Mormon layout of the universe has Kolob as among the very first of all creations in the physical universe, thus the physical proximity to God, Itself. Creation expanded out from God which is the Source and Center of all and everything and there also seems to be a natural hierarchy and status of everything which correlates directly to a thing’s proximity to God in the physical universe. So the farther you are from God the “lower” you are… kinda. Get the idea?
With that understanding, Kolob is extra special, extra exalted, and extra symbolic. From a physical standpoint, Kolob is the nearest to God and so presides over what is less near. Additionally, Kolob symbolically represents Jesus who is the Christ of the Christians. Jesus is the first “creation” and sits nearest the Father and has dominion over that life which is less near to the Father. And this extra layer of meaning, regardless of the mistakes I might have just made in explanation, is one way the hymn really impresses me.
The first verse of the hymn (284) goes like this…
“If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, And then continue onward with that same speed to fly, Do you think that you could ever through all eternity, Find out the generation where gods began to be?”
Speakers of modern English don’t know the word “hie.” It’s basically synonymous with the verb to hasten. “If you could hie to Kolob” is kind of explained by the second line which uses “twinkling of an eye”… AKA If you could get to Kolob REAL fast. But stopping at the closest place to our Source isn’t enough – we need to actually get there if we can (“… and then continue onward…”). The end of this first verse ties it directly into the second one.
If you could speed your way toward God, toward the Source, then you could pass the generation in which the first gods arose, the grand beginning where space came to be, and (in my interpretation, at least) into even the last cycle of the universe when gods and matter ceased. The last three lines of the second verse really speak to something Heartfulness and Sahaj Marg and Hinduism consider among the most supreme ideas: The idea of pure space where nothing has a place is the Zero, the Central Region. Most religious people, regardless of how they define words like “God” or “Gods,” won’t entertain idea of what might have been “before,” but here it seems to be a direct consideration.
Moving on to verse two….
“Or see the grand beginning where space did not extend? Or view the last creation where gods and matter end? Methinks the Spirit whispers, ‘No man has found pure space, nor seen the outside curtain where nothing has a place.'”
The rest of the hymn is descriptive and continues to add to the layers of meaning and insight – a very Hindu trait.
“The works of God continue and worlds and lives abound. Improvement and progression have one eternal round. There is no end to matter; there is no end to space. There is no end to spirit; there is no end to race. There is no end to virtue; there is no end to might. There is no end to wisdom; there is no end to light. There is no end to union; there is no end to youth. There is no end to priesthood; there is no end to truth.”
That’s most of the rest of the hymn and chunks stand out like shining stars to me…. Worlds and lives abounding, improvement and progression having an eternal round, no end to matter or space, no end to wisdom, no end to light, no end to truth. I’m sure I’m seeing these is some ways very different than the meaning meant in the Mormon context, but I don’t think that matters. I’m sure my view and theirs are more alike than not and even if that’s not the case I’m still very much enjoying to find such possible depth in a place so surprising to me.
I’ll close by spelling out a last verse of the song, which shares two very significant lines from the hymn – there is no end to love and there is no end to being.
“There is no end to glory; there is no end to love. There is no end to being; there is no death above.”
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti