Racial Division and Religion

I watched the news out of Baton Rouge with my 15-year-old son, who is considering a career in law enforcement. When the reporter upped the death toll from two police officers to three, I turned my eyes from the TV to my son. Nearly two years earlier, I had watched him just like this, watched him watch Ferguson burn.

Ten days ago, at a peaceable Black Lives Matter march, a gunman shot and killed five Dallas police officers, wounding several others. One of the murdered officers used to escort my daughter-in-law from the Dallas theater where she worked late shifts to her parked car; she loved his sense of humor. The young man who killed him grew up in the town in which my two oldest children spent their elementary school years. Had we not moved, they’d have gone to high school together, my oldest son a grade ahead of him, and my daughter, a grade behind. As is, we have friends who knew the killer.

When Ferguson burned, I begged my youngest son to reconsider his future career, saying the world is too dangerous and that I’m afraid for him. His response was, “Imagine how dangerous the world would be without police officers.” As Baton Rouge unfolded, he said nothing. He just stared. Continue reading “Racial Division and Religion”

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The Members are True; the Church is True.

Christ synagogueSeveral weeks ago, a Gospel Doctrine teacher stated that “The Church is true, but the members are not.” Judging by the nods of assent, I’d say those sitting with me agreed with her. My natural inclination, as a language person, is to pick apart the word “true” until there’s no meat left on its bone. But I’ll spare you that. I do, however, want to to focus on the underlying assumption of the statement, namely the inference that the Church, as an institution, is better than its people. I’m not sure we really mean that. Continue reading “The Members are True; the Church is True.”

A Response to “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church”

GentleDoveA blog post is circulating, written by Angela Fallentine over at Mormon Women Stand, titled, “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church.” She argues that, in order to be truly faithful, a Latter-day Saint must accept “fundamental, core doctrines of the gospel; namely that marriage is only between a man and a woman and the law of chastity.” She isolates these two doctrinal points, I would assume, because of the on-going controversy surrounding the recent policy change and subsequent policy clarification that specify formal church discipline must occur for those in same-gender marriages or committed relationships; such discipline manifests as “church courts” and will result in the excommunication of any same-gender committed couples. While the church membership generally understands the difference between policy and doctrine–a lesson learned with the lifting of the priesthood ban–Fallentine seems to be swinging a few decades behind the curve ball. Continue reading “A Response to “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church””

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

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

To the Fence Sitters Regarding the LDS Gender Issues Survey

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 “To the Fence Sitters Regarding the LDS Gender Issues Survey”

A Conversation about a Discussion…?

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.

Continue reading “A Conversation about a Discussion…?”

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

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