Sep 22

Spiritual Authority Figures and Spiritual Role Models

I am going to start out with a couple of thought questions.

First of all, in general do Mormon women see Mormon men as spiritual authority figures and spiritual role models? I would say, yes.  Many Mormon women look up to their Bishops and Stake Presidents and listen carefully to the insights that they share over the pulpit.  Many Mormon women listen carefully during General Conference and later study and highlight the words of the male General Authorities.  When they attend council meetings, most Mormon women will agree that the Bishop or Stake President gets final say and will do everything they can to support the leader’s decisions. Continue reading

Sep 13

Doctrinal Density of the Scriptures

We just finished talking about the war chapters at the end of Alma a couple of weeks ago, in my ward’s Sunday School anyway. Discussion of these chapters sometimes brings up an argument about whether all scriptures are equally valuable, since of course if you don’t believe they are, these chapters are perfect examples to cite.

I got to thinking that it might be fun to try to answer this question  empirically. To do so, I looked at how much time the Sunday School manuals spend on each chapter of the scriptures. This can tell us how doctrinally important each chapter is. Of course it’s a pretty crude measure and it’s just one class in church, but at least it’s a starting point.

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Sep 09

‘Tis a Far, Far Better Thing

I have a job where I occasionally have to work on Sundays. When I do, I can work from anywhere, because all I need is my laptop and an internet connection. My weekend work is rote work that doesn’t take much thought; generally, I listen to books on tape or watch TV, and the work I’m doing is only a minimal distraction from those things. Nowadays my weekend work hours are flexible, but for the first year I was on a strict schedule of 8am-4pm, which, of course, included the hours I would normally be at church.

All of this is background to my discussion question: in this situation, do you think I should go to church? I can take my laptop and work there; my work is quiet (no typing) and I can sit in the back so my computer isn’t a major distraction to others. This wouldn’t be a weekly thing (more like once every 3-4 months). This way, I’d get to take the sacrament and listen to the talks and lessons, since my work isn’t much distraction, and I would fulfill my Sunday habit of going to church. (Whatever private heterodoxies I might entertain, I am committed to attending church regularly.)

On the minus side, it’s incredibly rude to the speakers to be seen with a laptop during the meeting, as it appears that I’m not listening (though appearances may be deceiving, since my work takes so little of my attention). It also makes a bad impression or example for the other ward members, who may not get the benefit of a full explanation from me. It also means that my attention isn’t fully focused on the talks and lessons, and it means I’m less available for fellowship with other ward members, since I’m busy working (and have to head home afterwards).

I’m not going to say yet what I’ve chosen to do, but I’m curious: which do you think is choosing the better part? If you were in this situation, would you go to church?

Sep 05

Missionaries and Mental Health

In the middle of my mission, I had two very sick companions one after the other.  With both companions, their health was so bad that we slowly spent more and more time in the apartment until they were eventually sent home.  It was a challenging experience for me in both cases as I focused my energies entirely on supporting them in this frustrating circumstance.  After the second one went home, I was assigned an extremely energetic and capable companion.  I missed my previous companions, but was relieved to have the pressure taken off so I could focus on missionary work again.  However, soon after I got this new companion, I spiraled into depression. Continue reading