Sep 13

The Pitfalls of Pluralism

When it comes to religion, I have strong pluralist sympathies; one of the aspects of the LDS church I personally find the most challenging is the “only true church” claim. I’ve blogged before about why I think it’s a mistake for Mormons to assume that we have nothing to learn from other traditions, or to conceptualize them as–at best–less developed versions of ourselves. In my own life, I have found that serious engagement with the teachings and ideas of other traditions has tremendously enriched my faith.

Nonetheless, there are ways of talking about pluralism that I find problematic. Continue reading

Sep 10

My Brief, Hideous Encounter with Mormon Single Life

A couple of months ago I was in the throes of a personal bread-making craze which has since spent itself, partly because the bread I made wasn’t very good. (I really need to get some pointers from those domestic goddesses over at FMH.) One bread-baking afternoon I took my wedding ring off to knead the dough, and I neglected to put it on again before attending a church meeting that evening. Continue reading

Sep 09

My Realization from Sunstone (or How Sunstone Strengthened My Testimony)

While I have recently found a renewed appreciation for the Mormon community, my worries about God were rolling around in the back of my mind as I went off to Sunstone this year. So, perhaps it was inevitable that the theme that jumped out at me while I attended multiple sessions was a teaching unique to Mormonism: our embodied God. Different speakers explored what this meant for gendered experience, for how God understands and interacts with us, etc.

While I found all the philosophical discussions on an embodied God fascinating, the discussions kept reminding me of my recent desires to remake God into a figure that was easier to deal with; Continue reading

Sep 05

Proselytizing and Liberal Contempt

For me political choice is generally negative; prolonged exposure to the proponents of one set of dogmas tends to drive me into the arms of that dogma’s opponents. By the logic of this unpleasant via negativa, my upbringing in Utah County made me liberal; recent years in the ivory tower, on the other hand, have driven me right, although I’d continue to describe myself as a liberal-leaning moderate of the most unfashionable possible variety. Just a couple of my quarrels with the left: I think much of the sexual revolution was a misstep that has resulted in the widespread masculinization of sexuality–not a liberatory move for women, nor even for men–and I find our culture’s adolescent, pornographic view of sex both boring and exhausting. I also have reservations about a certain wholesale uncritical veneration of nature, ongoing now at least since that old wide-eyed hippie rake Rousseau. Sad though some of its consequences have certainly been, we as a species left nature behind about 10,000 years ago with the neolithic revolution, and I for one have no desire to go back. When well-meaning people earnestly inform me  of the virtues of natural foods, natural fibers, and natural sources of energy, all I can think is that there’s nothing more natural than losing all of one’s teeth to chronic malnutrition, dying in agonizing childbirth approximately nine months after achieving puberty, or losing multiple family members to epidemics of cholera or the plague. Hooray for the thoroughly artificial health technologies of our culture. Not so interested in subsisting for long periods of time on berries and bark scrapings, myself. Continue reading

Sep 04

You’re like a mother to me

When my wife was young and she was first learning to talk, she called two other women “mom” in addition to her mother. Polygamous family? No. The other women were her then-teenage sisters. Given the often large families that Mormons have, I suspect her experience of being well over a decade younger than some of her siblings is not uncommon. I’m interested in how these large age differences affect sibling relationships when everyone is grown.

Continue reading