Tracting: Is It Worth Doing?

We tracted a lot in my mission. It was the activity we defaulted to if we had nothing else to do, and we frequently had nothing else to do. But nobody I ever met through tracting was ever baptized. I’m sure this is at least partly a reflection on my (lack of) skill as a missionary. But I’ve also wondered if tracting is worth doing at all, even if it’s highly skilled missionaries doing it. Read More

The Joy of Being “Not Pregnant”*

Last August I started a post entitled “Enjoyment and Productivity, or, The Adventures of Supermom.” I was celebrating the fact that I was writing quite a bit, and loving it. But not only was a writing a lot, I was doing better about keeping up with all of the other things I was supposed to be doing as well. My house was cleaner than ever, I cooked more dinners, I was more pleasant with my kids and I played with them more. Life was great. I posited that perhaps I was so productive overall because I was doing something I loved and was enjoying myself, and that made me happier and better able to deal with all of the other things as well.

The reason I never finished that post is that a few days after I started it I found out I was pregnant. Read More

My Trouble with Spectator Sports

On April 29th, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns and dismissed them from the NBA playoffs. I’ve been a passionate fan of the Suns for several years, and I was hugely disappointed that they hardly put up a fight, losing this first round series, 4-1. I watched parts of the series, but not all of it. It wasn’t for lack of interest that I didn’t watch it all, though. It was that I couldn’t bear to watch my team play badly or see the Spurs or their fans rejoicing. In the deciding game of the series, for example, I turned the TV off when, with under a minute to play and the Suns down one point, Boris Diaw got the ball in the low post and then turned and threw a cross-court pass to . . . nobody, and the ball went out of bounds. The fans in San Antonio went crazy and I felt sick. So I turned the game off. I was happy to miss the agonizing final seconds.

But what if the Suns had won? Would I have kicked myself for giving up too early? Read More

Unfulfilled Priesthood Blessings, and the Power of Religious Ritual

A recurrent problem in Mormonism is that of how to make sense of patriarchal blessings which make promises that don’t come to pass, or are even just plain wacky. (For some recent bloggernacle discussion of the issue, see here and here.) One common explanation when this happens is to interpret it as a communications breakdown, so to speak; perhaps the patriarch has simply misinterpreted the will of God, and pronounced blessings which reflect more of his own biases and expectations than genuine inspiration. Given that these blessings are mediated through fallible human beings, it’s inevitable that they’re going to have flaws at times. Read More