A Conversation about a Discussion…?

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nametag_questionmarkOrdain Women is changing the name of their teaching platform from “Six Discussions” to “Conversations” in reaction to criticism that the name of the original program demonstrates their desire to evangelize LDS toward female ordination. The term “six discussions” is, after all, reminiscent of the former missionary program used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This title change is bringing the expected banter—claims that the name switch is as silly as the women behind it and other similarly dismissive things. As a non-member of OW (but then, OW doesn’t have a formal membership) who has participated in an online “conversation” group regarding these “discussions” (I’m confused), I recognize some validity in the charge that the Six Discussions are evangelical-ish in their appeal, but only insofar as any argument attempts to make its case convincing. It seems to me the silliness resides in the initial accusation that the Six Discussions were designed to convince others. Not because the accusation is wrong, but because making the accusation is, in itself, an act of silliness. Its a “duh” and a “so what?” Nearly every human conversation is designed to convince, to open or alter minds, to change ideas and, sometimes, hearts.  In some ways, argument can be considered the engine of free agency. It is essential.

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An Affirmation Book of Mormon Challenge

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book of mormonToday I accepted what many will consider an unconventional Book of Mormon Challenge. The challenge directs participants to read a chapter a day (which means finish the Book of Mormon in 239 days) “and then apply your mind to consider the implications, search for and refine meaning, and PONDER the significance of the chapters you’ve covered. ” Hardly radical. The only unconventional aspect of this challenge is that isn’t coming from some bishop or other church leader, not from a seminary teacher or family member, but from Affirmation, a support group for LGBTQ Mormons, their families, and friends. Continue reading

A Primer on the Divers Kinds of Mormons (that may not be all that kind)

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iron rod (2)I’m having an identity crisis. I used to call myself a Mormon. Then the Brethren deemed that a religiously incorrect term, so I switched to Latter-day Saint even though its a mouthful. If I had my druthers, I’d call myself a Saint, just to make life simpler, but there’d be too much laughter, so I don’t. Continue reading

Fatherhood as an Appendage to Motherhood: A New Mormon Distortion

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Divorce-Parenthood-child--006A sentiment is gaining traction among traditional Mormons that goes something like this: “Women enjoy the blessings and authority of the priesthood through men in the way men enjoy parenthood through women.” Most recently, I read it in this form: “Someone once told me that my husband gets to experience parenthood through me, even though I take the head role in parenting and all the revelations and blessing that come with it. And when I married him in the temple I access the priesthood through him.” This  new framing of the old idea, foundational in Mormon culture, that men and women have different divinely ordained roles is new to me so I tried to locate some kind of official originating source, but had no success. Because of the rate at which I’m seeing it on social media, it strikes me there must be some recent catalyst for its popularity. Where this idea comes from matters less to me than that it goes away.   Continue reading

The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us

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Church-with-sunflowers I’ve never understood the concept of the Angry God. I suppose that’s been a function of my religious privilege. Normally, I dislike the word “privilege” because it strikes me as a term progressives wield like a Bowie knife in a bear fight they bring on for the fur alone. But I’ll borrow it here because the term has successfully taken on a meaning that combines arrogance with naiveté. The term suits me because I have been both arrogant and naive in the practice of my faith. After all, my God has loved me: I found Him; I’ve obeyed Him, honored Him, and served Him. [Arrogance.] And I see His love in the blessings He gives me: I have an amazing family, a beautiful home, vehicles to drive, and friends galore. [Naiveté.] Continue reading

The Enigma of the Mormon School Shooter

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Emilio Hoffman

Emilio Hoffman, 14

I am uncomfortable broaching the topic of the LDS youth who entered a Portland area high school a little more than a week ago, killing Emilio Hoffman (14), a classmate who, it appears, was  in the wrong place at the wrong time. The topic is sensitive, particularly for Emilio’s family. The gunman, Jared Michael Padgett, committed suicide after killing Hoffman, wounding a PE teacher, and exchanging gunfire with area police. What I know of the incident I’ve culled from online news stories, but one aspect of the story that is making headlines is Padgett’s active participation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is what brings me to the story. Continue reading

On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints

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butterflyThis morning, I awoke in our cabin, nestled in the piney woods of east Texas, and found, on the floor, the same beautiful black and blue butterfly that had, only yesterday, fluttered by me each time I stepped outside to enjoy the natural world. Somehow, she is trapped inside this morning, motionless, with her wings outspread in the attempt to camouflage against a maple-colored plank floor that will have none of it. I know from the experience of capturing butterflies in my childhood that if I touch her wings, I condemn her. Instead, I find a piece of paper and lay it before her. Although it doesn’t seem natural to her, the butterfly steps onto the paper and  I carry her outside, where she flutters back into the trees.

I love symbols. I look for them all the time. As I have struggled to come to terms with the pending disciplinary action against leading LDS feminist Kate Kelly, I couldn’t help but find an imperfect symbol of her predicament in this butterfly. Continue reading

Love is a Behavior: A Conservative Mormon Reminder to Love our LGBT Community

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convention-2I am a Texan, a conservative, a practicing Mormon, and an ally of the LGBT community. Two recent events have unfolded in my peripheral vision that have struck an emotional, intellectual and spiritual chord in me, leaving me both disheartened and heartened.

First, Texas Republicans held their 2014 state convention in Fort Worth, a process that establishes the party’s platform plank by plank. One of those planks will include language that rejects homosexual relationships as legitimate or valuable to society. The plank will also specifically support reparative therapy, an odd inclusion but for California and New Jersey’s recent outlawing of such therapy for minors. The fiscally conservative group, Log Cabin Republicans of Texas (who were denied booth space at the convention), optimistically finds progress in the party’s compromise to drop from the platform the words “homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.” I appreciate their optimism and patience, but feel sorrow over the party’s rejection of the skills, talent, and voting power that could potentially follow once Republicans open their arms to conservative-minded members of the LGBT community. Although supporters of the anti-gay, supposedly “pro-family” plank of the Texas Republican party will argue their stance is a godly one, I find it not only uninspired but judgmental, self-righteous, and crippling to the foundational fiscal messages of conservatism.

The second event that has moved me (this time, positively) was seeing the 400-450 strong delegation of Mormons Building Bridges marching in the Salt Lake City Pride Parade. Families came with their small 10468125_10154172548700234_2745884498499884104_ochildren. Faithful members who have served at all local levels of leadership put their best foot forward in support of love and inclusion. Continue reading

To the Girls of Wasatch County ISD

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yearbookphoto4logoYou are beautiful. You are beautiful in your original school photos, and you are beautiful in the doctored yearbook photos that appeared in the 2013/2014 Wasatch High School yearbook, which isn’t to say I think the “editing,”  or photoshopping, the school did in order to cover more of your bodies than your tops and tanks did was appropriate. It shouldn’t have happened. You should’ve been given full opportunity to represent your personality through your attire. Some may say you forfeited that right by not adhering to the dress code. But a dress code that is not enforced on a daily basis hasn’t the respect of the people who created it and who are charged with enforcing it. By default then, it isn’t reasonable to expect those over whom it alleges power to take it seriously. Each original photo I saw of you depicted a young woman who was dressed modestly and appropriately for school. Your parents should be very proud of you for the brave way you are standing up for yourselves by addressing this in front of Fox 13 News cameras. Continue reading

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