It’s been nearly a decade since my husband and I left Utah. We visit regularly, since our families are both still centered there. I’ve made the drive across the plains of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming in both the dead of winter and the scorching heat of summer. And I’ve flown into Utah many, many times now, staring out the plane window, circling over the bare or snowy mountains–or the city lights at night–before touching down at the Salt Lake International Airport. Of all the landscapes I’ve loved, it is the landscape of the desert and the mountainous West that lives most deeply in me. Read More

Hymns by Request in Sacrament Meeting

Three times since I’ve lived in my current ward, we’ve had a sacrament meeting that might be called “hymns by request.” Like a testimony meeting, there are no scheduled speakers; people get up as moved by the Spirit or by boredom. But unlike testimony meeting, what they’re asked to do is to name a hymn they particularly like and say something about why. Then the congregation sings a verse of the hymn that the person designates. Read More

The Passions of Other Minds

We love the things we love for what they are. —Robert Frost, “Hyla Brook”

A couple of weeks ago I started a summer directed reading in the English Romantic poets with a somewhat shy but extraordinarily intelligent and kind professor. I’ve never done a directed reading by myself before–last semester plodding through Ovid in my slow and inexpert Latin I had a friend at my side to share translating, commentary, conversational duties–and being more than somewhat shy myself, I found our first meeting awkward. We both fumbled around trying to figure out how to talk about the Ancient Mariner and Tintern Abbey and the Lyrical Ballads. Partly because I came armed with a list of questions about the readings, our second meeting was smoother. At one point in our conversation, my professor started comparing Wordsworth and Blake, and I found myself suddenly bursting out with the question I always want to ask everyone, all the time: Why did you choose to study Blake? What is it about Blake that drew you on so irresistibly? Why do you love the things you love? Read More

Sleeping with the Shrink

–inspired by Maria of Ex II.

When my husband was a couple of years into his grad program in clinical psychology, a friend confessed to me that she had been horribly intimidated by him when she’d first met him. The reasons she gave: he sported a beard (post-BYU affectation; he started growing it precisely the instant he graduated) which he liked to stroke thoughtfully, and he often wore cardigan sweaters. This friend and her husband would occasionally come over for dinner or dessert and games, or we would go to their apartment for the same, and she described herself as having spent several uneasy evenings with us, sure that every word she spoke, every gesture she made betrayed her deepest secrets, that my husband’s characteristic calm, thoughtful demeanor meant he could see straight into her soul. Read More

A Utah Mormon Manifesto

Hello! My name is Eve. I am a Utah Mormon.

I am part of a group that is increasingly, and rightly, overshadowed in the Church at large. I’m a seventh-generation descendant of pioneers and polygamists (through Benjamin Franklin Johnson alone I’m probably cousin to every fourth person reading this post), and I was raised in the heart of Utah County and the backyard of BYU. I sincerely hope that the minority of which I am a part continues to shrink. I absolutely want to see the Church become more and more linguistically and culturally diverse.

That said, let’s get a few stereotypes out of the way and review some basic good manners. Read More

After Gonzales v. Carhart

This guest post comes to us from frequent ZD commenter and blogging veteran ECS.

Much of the publicity surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent abortion decision has died down. The Court’s reasoning in Gonzales v. Carhart, however, deserves a closer look. Whether you believe a woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy is not the focus of this post. This post’s focus is on the problematic reasoning in the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales, that, among other things, questions the capacity of a woman to give informed consent to undergo a horrifying, yet perhaps necessary, abortion procedure. Read More