Many LDS members who have received their Endowment and have been sealed to their spouse in the temple may think that they’ve received the summum bonum of LDS ritual. Not so.
I just stumbled across an account of receiving the ordinance of the Second Anointing (or Second Endowment) in 2002. It is apparently still practiced quite regularly despite being discontinued in the middle of the last century.
A compilation of my mother’s family history casually mentions that one of my ancestors received this ordinance. I thought it odd at the time to see the casual reference because it is not talked about much in the church now. I imagine most members have only heard whispered rumors about this ritual if they’ve heard about it at all.
Reading this account and the comments that followed reminded me of The Inner Ring by C.S. Lewis. The recipients of this LDS ritual are charged to tell no one that they’ve received it lest others in the church envy the privilege. They are promised exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom on only one condition: that they never deny the Holy Ghost. The officiator in the ritual grants them the “[power] to be a member of a Godhead”. In other words, unless they blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, they’ve made it. They have endured to the end and made their calling and election sure.
It must feel pretty spiffy to be a member of such a special club, the inner cabal of an already exclusive church. It must feel even better to believe that you have the power to decide who makes it into heaven. This is yet another way LDS ritual separates “us” from “them”.