RECENTLY 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
S ometimes 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
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
It 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.
The 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
In 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
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
Many faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been deeply invested in “the defense of traditional marriage” and find themselves mourning the recent Supreme Court refusal to hear same-sex marriage cases in five states. These Mormons had hoped the church’s campaign against gay marriage would cause the walls of Jericho to crumble; instead, the Court’s decision has likely opened the gate for nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Although I’m a practicing, politically conservative Latter-day Saint, I have disagreed that a church should be waging such a political battle. Furthermore, unlike many mainstream Mormons, I don’t see this ruling as evidence of increased evil in the world. In my view, the SCOTUS decision should free traditional Mormons from the battlefield and enable them to return to the field that is ready to harvest. It is time to transition from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion; it is time we pour our energy into making the Mormon world safe for all. Continue reading
Last Saturday, my husband, our 13 year old son, and I enjoyed a thirty minute drive through rural east Texas to the Morris County Twin Cinema in a tiny town called Daingerfield. As we drove, I opted to discuss a miscommunication I’d had earlier in the week with my older brother, something that had already been resolved. But before I got to that point in my monologue, my husband made a classic man-mistake by offering me what he perceived to be the solution to my difficulty with my brother. Please understand that, over the course of our twenty-eight year marriage, I’ve told my husband a billion times that I’m a big girl and can solve my own problems, that when I speak to him of the issues in my life, I don’t need him to fix anything: I want empathy. But when I opened my mouth for the billion and first time to repeat his training, the shadow of words I’d read just hours before left me speechless. Continue reading
In Mormondom, fitting in is often confused with living rightly. By living rightly, I mean living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned, however, that many Latter-day Saints see the relationship between fitting in and living rightly as a tit for tat. In other words, they suggest that dressing according to the Mormon modesty canon proves our willingness to obey all God’s commandments. I don’t see it that way.
You may be expecting this post to veer into a diatribe against modesty standards, but it will not. Organized groups of people may establish any model for appearance that they desire, and individuals may choose to follow those standards or not. The problem I wish to address isn’t the LDS dress code, but the predictable waste product that occurs when it is exalted as a measure of individual worthiness. Continue reading