Open Letter to Members of the Heath Ward regarding the First Presidency Letter

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Painting Credit: Laurie Olsen

Painting Credit: Laurie Olsen

Dear Members of the Heath Ward, Heath, Texas Stake:

I’m sorry to miss the opportunity to participate in our ward’s slated discussion of the First Presidency letter regarding the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine on marriage, but I must be absent. Knowing the letter is intended to be used as part of a ward-level, but church-wide, discussion, I’ve been pondering its message and what I might say were I able to be with you. This letter represents a few of my thoughts. Continue reading

A Conservative Feminist on Being a Woman: matt walsh v. Caitlyn Jenner

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caitlyn Jenner

Photo by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

We’ve all seen the photos published in Vanity Fair. Bruce Jenner has transitioned from male to female and is now known as Caitlyn. And we know Matt Walsh considers himself the end-all/be-all of conservative truth-telling, a thing this conservative woman finds laughable. In his recent post about the Bruce-to-Caitlyn journey, he not only degrades Jenner by calling her “a monstrosity,” he diminishes conservatism in the process, a philosophy he purports to represent. Most won’t notice this over his harsh diatribe against Jenner, but I see it.  And I’m calling it out. I know many will stand up for Jenner, so I’ll leave that to them. But right now, right here, I’m standing up to the secondary bullying Walsh is inflicting on women and on conservatives. My voice represents a rising tide within conservatism, one that would like to give Matt Walsh a shove off his self-created pedestal.  Continue reading

Why Don’t They Just Say God Loves All His Children?

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general-conference-tvEarlier this week, I spoke to a mature, faithful, conservative LDS mother about her family’s experience with the April 2015 General Conference. She said, “Sunday’s talks filled me up. But Saturday’s hurt a little.” She then told me that, after Elder Packer’s talk Saturday morning, one of her teenage daughters turned to her and asked point blank, “Why don’t they ever say how much God loves his gay and lesbian children?” By the time Elder Perry finished his talk, her other teen daughter likewise pressed her mother to explain why apostles of the Lord didn’t speak with compassion and encouragement about a group of his followers who are often maligned. I wonder the same thing. Continue reading

Dear Bishop: With Love, Mormon Women

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Ward_Council_mtgRECENTLY A FRIEND, whose husband seems always to be in one or the other position of local leadership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed that she tries to help her husband understand how women in the church feel and, essentially, wondered what I would tell him, or other local leaders, if I could. Easiest writing challenge ever. So while I am just one woman and cannot be said to represent all LDS women–not even those of a more feministy persuasion–here’s my Top 10 list of things I’d like to say to bishops and stake presidents about how women in the church “feel.” The list is in no particular order. Continue reading

The Boys are Fine

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Sometimes I think we Mormons aren’t aware of how differently we think from other groups. This can lead to communication problems with “outsiders,” but it can also keep us talking only to ourselves and ingrain ideas in our collective mindset that go unchallenged. When ideas aren’t challenged, they can become distorted and wind up doing us harm. Take for instance, our mindset about boys and, in particular, the Boy Scouts, the sacred cow of Mormon youth programs. Continue reading

Mormon Woman, Artist, Filmmaker on Heart of Africa

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When considering people who have had an influence in Mormon literary art and film, Margaret Blair Young’s name surfaces among those of greatest influence. A creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University and a leading Mormon author in her own right, Young has, most recently, paired up with Darius Gray, founder of Genesis Group, and, together, determined to bring the stories of African American Mormons to the forefront of LDS cultural knowledge. The pair have given us the Standing on the Promises trilogy, a series of novels that fictionalize the real lives of Mormon African Americans, and the documentary film Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. Her current project, a feature film titled Heart of Africa, is based on the experiences of a real-life American missionary from Idaho and his Congolese missionary companion as they forge both a relationship that supersedes their cultural prejudices and spreads the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the African continent. Many consider it a rebuttal of sorts to the popular Book of Mormon Musical. While Young expects LDS audiences to gravitate to the film, her aspiration reaches far beyond the LDS world; Heart of Africa carries a universal message of hope and redemption. The players and the situation just happen to be Mormon. Continue reading

Mourn with Those Who Mourn: 1st Annual LDS LGBT Suicide and Homelessness Awareness Day is Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014

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rainbow ribbonIt doesn’t matter who we are or where we live; it doesn’t matter our political persuasion or the breadth of our testimony. Our income doesn’t matter, nor does our level of education. None of that matters when we face the startling reality that Mormons who are LGBT, particularly the young, often feel devalued and alienated from their faith community–rejected by us, their fellow Mormons, and the Church they were raised to love. A recent Salt Lake Tribune article suggests that the suicide rate, as well as the rates of attempted suicide and homelessness, are higher among young, gay Mormons than the national average, at least in the state of Utah. This means not only are we burying so many of our beloved family members, but we have in our midst an untold number of those who suffer the unquenchable thirst we call grief. In response, this Sunday, December 7, 2014, has been established as the first annual LDS LGBT Suicide and Homelessness Awareness Day. Members are asked to wear traditional (black) mourning attire to church, and, if willing, a rainbow ribbon as an outward, visual demonstration of their individual, inward commitment to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. It is a simple gesture of love for LGBT individuals and their families, a group of people who have, too often, felt alienated and excluded.

Continue reading

To the Fence Sitters Regarding the LDS Gender Issues Survey

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right and wrong checkbox on a blackboardThe fear of Mormon intellectuals has raised its ugly head again, which is ironic considering Mormonism lauds the pursuit of knowledge as a way to worship the Creator. This time, the kick back pertains to the Gender Issue Survey being widely circulated on social media. The Millennial Star argues forcefully that the survey is, in essence, little more than a conspiracy crafted by intellectuals to promote agitation for female ordination. Those behind the survey, however, state their goal is “to capture a more nuanced view of gender issues in the Mormon church than is captured by existing (and often-cited) surveys.”(They specifically link to the 2011 Pew Research Survey of faithful, practicing Latter-day Saints and their views on women in the priesthood.) The great irony is, of course, that agitation against this survey, if successful, will guarantee skewed data. To those who are on the fence about whether or not to participate in the survey, I offer a few things for your consideration. Continue reading

Women, Priesthood Authority, and the Holy Ghost

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stake-relief-society-training-480x270-AV100921cah0056In his April 2014 General Conference talk entitled “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks asked one question that has caused me many sleepless nights. He said, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?” He then answered himself, supposing LDS women must receive a portion of priesthood authority through the men presiding over them. Mormon feminists who hope for female ordination were pleased, if not appeased, by his words, while many traditional Mormons were appeased, if not pleased, by them. I, however, was deeply troubled by his idea and have spent months seeking peace through prayer and pondering. But I can’t find it. The truth is, the prompting I keep receiving is very different from his answer. As a committed, practicing Latter-day Saint, this is an uncomfortable position. Continue reading

If you can’t read it there, read it here.

So maybe this is a little weird, but I’m reposting verbatim the contents of “Mormon Temple Wedding Changes: Say Hello to the Rest of the World, America,” which originates at This Week in Mormons today.  I posted a link to this on my private FB page and people quickly told me the link has maxed out and they can’t read it. (They get a 508 Resource Limit is Reached message.) Since I had it opened from earlier in the day, I decided to put it up because I want others to be able to read their story. Forgive me for “stealing” hits, but I’m very excited about this. My entire family waited outside the temple the day I married. It was a heart-wrenching experience. Anyway, I’ll try to salvage a bit of my integrity by not advertising this post. If you read it here, pls later give them a hit. And lets hope this is accurate.

Here it is:

No more ring ceremony for you! Continue reading

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