Jul 30

The LDS View of Original Sin

Mormons, I frequently hear, reject the doctrine of original sin. Yet I am not convinced that the concept has no place whatsoever in LDS theology. I suspect that the Mormon claim that we don’t believe in original sin is frequently no more than an assertion that 1) individuals are not held personally accountable for the choices of Adam and Eve, and 2) unbaptized infants should not be seen as guilty of sin, and will not be eternally doomed should they die in their unbaptized state. If original sin is understood not in terms of personal guilt, but as some kind of negative effect on human nature resulting from the fall, I think it might actually be compatible with LDS teachings. Continue reading

Jul 24

Resolving Concerns

A couple of years ago, I asked a question in Sunday School about why we need the priesthood to do things like healings if such miracles can also be performed by faith. I brought it up because I think it’s an interesting issue, and I wanted to hear how other people thought about it. A few people shared their take on the subject, and then the discussion moved on. Nothing out of the ordinary. But the reason I remember this incident is because after class, the bishop came over to me and expressed his hope that my concern had been successfully resolved. I was a bit taken aback, as I hadn’t really expected to hear a definitive answer in the course of a five or ten minute discussion in Gospel Doctrine; I’d simply been curious about how other people saw the issue.

I’m not sure that “resolving concerns” is always the most helpful approach to take when people have questions and difficulties. Continue reading

Jul 19

Mormon Women and Self-Deprecation

A few years ago, I found myself–against my better judgment–sitting in Enrichment Night being enriched on the subject of gardening. At the activity’s conclusion we all gathered around a long cultural-hall table covered with newspaper and began to sponge-paint terra cotta pots two shades of blue. This is the sort of activity at which I do not excel, and–not coincidentally–do not enjoy. However, I was then in the throes of one of my periodic give-church-programs-a-chance spasms. (“If just pray hard enough, God will transform me from a clutzy smart-mouth into a lilting sylph who enjoys HFPE! OK, so it wasn’t very realistic. Show me the human being who hasn’t had similar delusions.) Continue reading

Jul 17

Why Words Matter

One of the things that we sometimes discuss in my Women’s Studies classes is the issue of language. Many feminists critique the use of “man” or “mankind” to refer to men and women, the use of “he” as a generic pronoun, etc. Feminists argue that inequality in language occurs on a spectrum of related discriminations, and you can’t eliminate all discrimination if you don’t address all the contributing practices (including things that may seem inconsequential, such as using the term “mankind”). I see a lot of resistance in my classes to this argument. The students recognize that there’s an inequality in language use, but they just don’t see why it matters. According to them, this language doesn’t hurt anyone. Many of the female students in my classes admit that it’s not something that offends them, and so they don’t see why we need to change our language use. Continue reading

Jul 14

Scripture Marking

The set of scriptures which I regularly take to church and read out of is one of those little quads, the kind that are convenient to carry around but which my mother complains have such small text as to be unreadable. I’ve had it for over a decade, but there isn’t a single mark in it–no highlighting, no underlining, no comments in the margins. People sometimes look at it and question whether I ever read my scriptures.

I’ve always been uneasy with writing in books; I find it both distracting and aesthetically unappealing. I remember cringing in Seminary when we were told to write things in our scriptures. I dutifully went along with the writing and underlining and even gluing in of little quotes, but I’ve never since used those scriptures. Continue reading

Jul 12

The “Master Plan”

My next youngest sister and I weren’t the best of friends growing up. In some ways, we were a lot alike, and I think the hostility that emerged between us was there, in part, because of the ways we were always being compared to one another.

Once I left home for college, the tension in our relationship decreased, and by the time she decided to attend the same university, I was excited for her to come. While we didn’t spend a lot of time together the two years our stays there overlapped, it was the beginning of a change in our relationship. Continue reading