Monday, February 9, 2015

The Immediateness of Eternity

Photo by NASA
The Latter-day Saint community has begun to put to stage some of the most unique doctrines we have, adding to their possibilities by characterizing undefined moments within our eternal chronology. In Eric Samuelson's Gaia, we take a glimpse into the final moments before Adam and Eve are put on Earth. In a simple conversation between Gaia (eventually Eve) and Lucifer (eventually Satan), we are shown the LDS belief in the preexistence, divine parentage, divine potential, the fallen angel, agency, female role and influence, and the creation.

So how can so many theological concepts be placed within one conversation, in one play? Samuelson achieves it by having the conversation between Lucifer and Gaia. One of the first thing Gaia says is that she is the lead engineer of Earth. Wait . . . a woman helped with the creation? She wasn't ex-nihilo? A woman? Some might find even these implications shocking, but to an LDS audience, these concepts are familiar. But even so, Samuelson provides a reality and closeness to his characters that is very rarely felt, even among LDS communities.

Gaia and Lucifer talk like a brother and sister, appropriate since they are. But what is truly startling, is that Lucifer is frustrated, frightened, logical. He feels unjustly dealt with and while we expected all of those characteristics in Satan, he doesn't yet know he will be the devil. This puts him in an interesting position, especially in relation to our perspective on him since he is currently exercising his agency, not just trying to destroy us with ours.

At one point in the play, Lucifer references "Father's" mortal sojourn, alluding to one of the most unique and deep LDS doctrine's best summed up in Lorenzo Snow's couplet of our divine potential and eternal progression: "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be." The moment in which Samuelson projects the type of person God may have been, we feel an immediateness of eternity, a reality to our doctrines. Gaia is truly a fascinating experience, whether LDS or not, showcasing our beliefs in a very palpable way.


  1. It was interesting how the play contrasted Gaia's excitement with Lucifer's hesitation and cynicism. It definitely put a new perspective on the premortal life and Lucifer's identity in that realm.

  2. I like that you broadened the themes of the play to apply to all audiences, not just an LDS audience. I think that Mormon authors want to reach other audiences outside of the Church, but it often seems difficult to bridge that gap.