Jun 30

The Possibility of Integration

Growing up, I somehow picked up the idea that I wasn’t really supposed to feel certain things: anger, jealousy, fear, resentment, despair. Of course, I felt them anyway, but I interpreted that as evidence of some horrible character flaw. This was reinforced by the Gospel of Positive Thinking so often preached at church, as well as the cultural expectation that women in particular ought to be “nice.” I was so convinced that such feelings were unacceptable that I remember being too scared to confide even in close friends when I felt intense jealousy over a particular situation. I was sure people would think less of me for having such a reaction, that I’d be judged as selfish and not sufficiently loving. Often my response to a problematic emotion was to try to banish it as quickly as possible, sometimes to not admit even to myself that it was ever there. Continue reading

Jun 27

Measuring Spirituality: Some Thoughts on Emotionality and Gender

I was an emotionally sensitive child, and I’m an emotionally sensitive adult. Despite the many years I spent trying to shut down my emotions, and despite my proclivities for philosophy and rational argument, I am easily upset by the daily events in my life. When I am extremely tired, I cry at the drop of a hat. When I am extremely stressed, I cry at the drop of a hat. I am also very easily affected by the emotional states of others.

I have a tense relationship with this aspect of myself. While I have grown to value the gifts I seem to possess of sensing and empathizing with the pain of others, I was raised to believe that having strong emotional reactions is a sign of weakness (I have been told too often throughout my life in a variety of ways to “buck up” and “get over my problems” because “crying doesn’t accomplish anything”). Growing up, I wanted to be more like my dad, who was strongly opinionated, mellow, and certainly not emotionally sensitive. In other words, I didn’t want to be one of those crazy “emotional women.” Continue reading

Jun 23

Hoping for Change

A couple of recent threads have gotten me thinking about the merits of staying in the church and hoping for change (as opposed to staying in the church and trying to accept the way things are, or simply leaving the church). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that the church will change; our ever evolving history provides an obvious basis for such an outlook. It’s because of things like blacks finally getting the priesthood and the temple ceremony getting toned down over the years that I’m able to cling to the hope that the aspects of the church which most bother me aren’t necessarily eternal. Yet I can also see potential problems with this way of thinking. Continue reading

Jun 20

God’s Ways Are Not Man’s Ways

This is funny.

My fiance shared his favorite response with me (he got it from a friend) to being told that favorite of all favorite patronizing statements: “God’s ways are not man’s ways.”

The Response: “Man’s ways are not God’s ways.”

Brilliant, isn’t it?

Jun 19

Questioning the Spirituality of Others

It’s telling how often we Mormons respond to religious questions by impugning the questioner’s spiritual commitment, testimony, or faith instead of, or in addition to, addressing the question itself. Unfortunately, we tend to assume that people who don’t have questions, issues, or doubts are somehow more spiritually committed than those who do. There are at least two reasons I think this assumption is problematic. Continue reading

Jun 16

The Church and Pedagogical Uniquities

I’ve had quite a few lessons at church lately that have made me frustrated. Not because I didn’t like the topics or because the class got out of hand, but because I was frustrated with the pedagogical choices made by the instructor. While I am aware that I need to engage in a process of repentance and growth, so that I can learn how to listen and participate in lessons without getting frustrated, I wanted to talk about some thoughts I’ve had about church pedagogy that have emerged based on pondering my frustrations in church classes. Continue reading

Jun 16

Being Single and Adult

I’ve been a legal adult for more than a decade now. However, as a single woman without children, in a church context I often feel relegated to a kind of pre-adult status. Don’t get me wrong: I’m perfectly willing to concede that there are quite likely unique life lessons and experiences involved in marriage and parenting that can’t be gained elsewhere, and I’m not out to downplay the value of those things. Nonetheless, I’d like to find a way to talk about adulthood which didn’t assume that it necessarily included those elements. Continue reading

Jun 11

A Physics Parable

In physics, one speaks of two kinds of balance, or equilibrium. Unstable equilibrium describes a system that is in balance, but that will become unbalanced at the slightest outside influence. Think of trying to balance a pencil on its point: it’s possible to do in theory, but in practice it will fall over every time you try. Stable equilibrium describes a system that is in balance and that will seek the same equilibrium, even if outside influences temporarily unbalance it. Think of a marble resting in the bottom of a bowl: you can nudge it, flick it or bump it to make it leave that position, but it will eventually roll back to the bottom of the bowl. Continue reading

Jun 06

The Universal Salvific Will of God

In 1 Timothy 2:4, God is described as one “who will have men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The assertion that God has a universal salvific will, that he desires the salvation of every person, poses problems for any theological claim that only a certain group of people (e.g. Christians) are eligible for salvation. Augustine, who saw the majority of humanity as a “lump of sin” headed for perdition, resolved the dilemma by re-interpreting the scripture to mean that God wants salvation not for all people, but for all whom he has predestined. In the 20th century, by contrast, many have taken this verse quite seriously and re-thought the exclusive claims of Christianity in its light. Continue reading

Jun 02

Dona Nobis Pacem (some late Memorial Day thoughts)

Beat! beat! drums! — blow! bugles! blow! / Through the windows — through doors — burst like a ruthless force… (Walt Whitman, “Beat! Beat! Drums!”; Dona Nobis Pacem, second movement)

In 1937, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote Dona Nobis Pacem. The piece emerged from his feelings on the rising tide of Fascism and Naziism in Europe in the late 1930’s as well as his experiences as an ambulance driver and artillery officer in the First World War. The title of the piece means “grant us peace,” and it is a compelling musical journey that borrows texts from the Bible, Walt Whitman (“Beat! Beat! Drums!”, “Reconciliation,” and “A Dirge for Two Veterans”) and John Bright’s famous “Angel of Death” speech, and which runs the gamut of musical colors and emotions–from the frenetic representation of war in the second movement to the weary calm of the third movement to the somber death march of the fourth movement to the despair and emptiness of the fifth movement and to the eventual joy and hope of the final, sixth movement. Continue reading

Jun 02

New ZD Member

We’re thrilled to announce that Katya is joining us as a blogger at Zelophehad’s Daughters. She has this to say about herself:

“I’m working on a Master’s degree in Library Science, my alias comes from taking Russian classes as an undergrad, a Midwestern winter has convinced me to take up knitting, and Melyngoch and I have been friends since about halfway through her first semester at BYU, when she figured out that I was more than “nice” and I figured out that she was more than an angry little freshman.”