Apr 26

Ten Thousand Comments

In our recent discussion of theory and practice, ZD hit 10,000 comments.  (The 10,000th comment, by the way, was Geoff J’s #6 on that thread.  Congratulations, Geoff; your prize, a T-shirt that says “This is What a Feminist Looks Like,” and a subscription to BUST magazine, will be in the mail.)  I have to say that it’s a bit strange to think that our relatively small blog has this many comments.  (Just think of the number of dissertations that could have been produced by all that writing.  Of course, they might not have been coherent dissertations.)

Comments, I think most bloggers would agree, are both one of the most fun and one of the most challenging aspects of running a blog. Continue reading

Apr 21

Worrying About Salvation

The possibility of universalism comes up every so often in the bloggernacle (see for example, these discussions at M*, BCC, and NCT.)  In reading these conversations, I’ve realized that my own universalist leanings are not particularly unusual, at least in the context of the Bloggernacle.  (Further evidence of its apostate nature, some might say.)  I think the theological debate is an interesting one.  But in this post I want to bracket the question of whether universal salvation is possible in the context of LDS doctrine, and look at some of the more practical issues involved.  The concern most often raised about the idea is that it  leads to complacency.  In a nutshell, if everyone is eventually going to be saved, what incentive do I have to be good?  Why not eat, drink, and be merry?  Is anxiety about salvation something positive, even necessary—something that will motivate me to live better in the here-and-now? Continue reading

Apr 11

Implied Statistical Report Graphs

Over at T&S, Kent Larsen wrote an interesting post based on the Church’s statistical report from Conference. He compared this year’s data with statistical reports from 5, 10, and 25 years ago. Since I find this kind of speculation so entertaining, I searched lds.org and found statistical reports all the way back to 1973 to fill out the data set a little. To make the resulting data easier to look at, I’ve put some of the numbers Kent and the commenters discussed into graphs.

Continue reading

Apr 08

In Defense of Negative Feminism

One of the things that most struck me at the recent Claremont conference was the extent to which I was doing what I might call “negative feminism.”  I’m using “negative” both in a kind of netural, descriptive sense (in academic theology, there’s a tradition of “negative theology” which emphasizes what we don’t know about God), as opposed to more constructive work which puts forth new ideas–and “negative” in the more usual sense of the term, in that I was in fact  painting a rather negative picture of LDS teachings regarding the eternal status of women.  The reactions I got were varied; some liked it, but others found it excessively gloomy.  This has gotten me thinking about possible dangers with this approach, but also why I think it’s important. Continue reading

Apr 05

General Conference and the Sensus Fidelium

A fun concept in Catholic teachings is the notion of the sensus fidelium, the “sense of the faithful.”  The idea is that the work of the Spirit guiding the church can be found not only in the teachings of ecclesiastical leaders, but also in the beliefs  and experiences of the members of the church, the community of faith.  Theologian Roger Haight explains that it includes “an active charism of discernment, a power of practical and possessive knowledge belonging to the body of the faithful by virtue of their concrete living of the faith.”  He clarifies, “This does not mean that in every matter of detail a majority of even a consensus of opinion in the Church at any given time is theologically sound.  But it does mean that the experience of the faithful is a source for theology.”1 Continue reading

  1. Roger Haight, “Sensus Fidelium,” The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, ed. Richard McBrien (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), 1182-3. []
Apr 02

Blessings of Understanding and Love

I’ve been wanting to put this post up for a while. The second annual World Autism Day gave me the impetus I needed to actually finish and publish it.

A while ago I was in the waiting room of a local children’s clinic, waiting for my son’s doctor’s appointment. There was another boy there with his parents and his grandmother. He was probably about 12, and while I’m not sure what exactly was wrong with him, he had some obvious developmental delays. I watched as his grandmother took him outside in the small garden adjoining the waiting room, and the boy expressed obvious delight in nature and the outdoors. When he came back inside he came up behind me and gave me a hug. It surprised me at first (I didn’t realize he’d come up behind me), but then I turned around, gave him a big smile, and said, “Hello.” He smiled back. His grandmother immediately rushed into a defensive explanation of him and his behavior. I just smiled and said, “I know.” Continue reading

Apr 02

Thoughts from the Claremont Conference

I spent last Friday at the Claremont conference, “Mormonism through the Eyes of Women.”  It was an amazing experience.  I’ve been to a lot of different Mormon conferences in the last couple of years, and presented at more than one of them, but none of them felt quite as intense to me as this one did.  Perhaps because Mormon feminist theology is a topic which matters so much to me; perhaps because I hadn’t really presented publicly on the subject before (and I have to admit that I had some anxiety about doing it).  But also, I think, because it was so exciting to be in a room full of people interested in talking about these ideas.  I know that Mormon feminism is thriving; I see it on the blogs every day.  But seeing it online isn’t quite the same as interacting live with a group of people who really care about the subject. Continue reading