Feb 22

Un-Freezing

When it comes to navigating the gay Mormon thing, I’ve been in many ways incredibly fortunate. When I first came out to my siblings and a couple of close friends several years ago, the response I got was largely a matter-of-fact acceptance, one that left me plenty of breathing room and no pressure—and I got similar reactions as I told more people over the years. When I publicly came out last November, the experience was mostly positive: people responded with kindness and love and support. After years of involvement in the world of Mormon blogging, I am fortunate to have a network of LDS friends who aren’t freaked out by this. And I live in what I imagine is one of the most gay-friendly stakes in the church. As Effie might say, the odds truly have been in my favor. Continue reading

Feb 18

An Ethnographic Examination of the Representation of Women’s Bodies in a Religious Publication (Running Title: Boobs in the Ensign)

In a conversation among some of the permabloggers, we started talking about modesty within LDS culture. Although I felt that everything that could be said about modesty has been said already, Ziff raised an interesting question of whether women with certain body types were more likely to be shown in the Ensign than women with other body types. Specifically, he posed the question of whether women with smaller breasts were more likely to be shown than women with larger breasts. Given that I like to code and analyze data almost as much as Ziff does (I mean, really, I doubt that anyone in the universe could love this as much as Ziff does), I decided to conduct an assessment of this very question.  Continue reading

Feb 16

Answering the Temple Recommend Interview Questions, Part 2

This the second part of a series in which my friend ajbc gives her personal, long-winded, and rambling answers to each LDS temple question, since the actual interviews do not allow for elaborate discussion. The first post is here.

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It’s taken me a while to get to this second post, in part because I didn’t like part of my answer to the last one.  I wrote that I was most comfortable praying to a male or joint-gender god due to my upbringing, and I’m happy to report that I am now equally comfortable praying to Heavenly Mother as I am to Heavenly Father.  I’ve even had one of my Teyve-style (out loud, casual) prayers to/with her in the celestial room, which, by the way, is my all-time favorite part of serving in the temple–getting the room completely to yourself.

The other reason I’ve been putting this off is because I wrote an answer to the second question a while ago, and was thoroughly unsatisfied with it.  It wasn’t that I was inarticulate (nothing can help me there, save an editor), but that I didn’t like what I had to say.  I’ve been so focused on God in general and also with particular issues with the LDS Church that I had neglected the more middle-ground of Christianity.  Thus, I did some soul-searching, found some peace, and am now ready to answer #2.

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Feb 14

The Value of the Creation Stories

One of my friends has been asking me questions about the Creation stories lately. What’s the value, she wants to know, in reading them? In their neat, tidy rendering of the world, what connection do they have to actual life here, in its complications and messiness? They don’t give us a scientific rendering of the origin of the world, obviously. But what do they give us? So I’ve been mulling over this question for a while, and this is what I’ve come up with. Continue reading

Feb 13

Let’s Make the Hymnbook More of a His and Hers Book

This Sunday in sacrament meeting we sang the hymn O God, the Eternal Father. I noticed this time, more than previous times, the gender-exclusive language:

That sacred, holy off’ring,
By man least understood…

With no apparent beauty,
That man should him desire…

To walk upon his footstool
And be like man, almost…

I understand that when W.W. Phelps wrote these lyrics back in the 1830’s, gender-exclusive language was the norm, it was the way people talked, wrote, and thought. I also understand that in many instances such gender-exclusive language was typically understood to mean both men and women. I suspect that Brother Phelps had no overt desire to leave anyone out; by using “man” he may have been simply using the default term for the word “humans”. Continue reading

Feb 11

The Confessions of Saint Andrew

This guest post is brought to us by my brother, Andrew C.

I tell a story about my grandparents that may be completely made up.

They were looking forward to a fireside about marriage, and the morning before the presentation, their bishop told everyone in the congregation that, if they didn’t have a perfect marriage, he wanted them to attend.

Grandma and Grandpa looked at each other, and they didn’t go.

I saw Grandma after Grandpa died. “Getting old is not for wimps,” she said, and she looked very sad, gray hair, gray skin, a droop to her like she couldn’t think of a reason to sit up straight. Half of her was missing, and because I saw my grandma in that state, I think the story I just told you might actually be true. It is possible that it could be.

I desperately want it to be. Continue reading

Feb 08

The Problem of Gays in LDS Theology, Part II

Following up to my first post on why homosexuality is a theological problem for Mormons—and the stark question of whether gays can be seen as fully human in LDS teachings—I would like suggest a few avenues for theological thought which may yield more encouraging results.

1. One possibility is to conceptualize the image of God in a different way. In my first post, I noted that the standard LDS read is to see it as a statement that humans are literally the children of God and have the potential to become like him—an assertion which is generally tied to gender, as God is understood as literally (and not only metaphorically) male. This is also linked to the scriptural context in which this notion appears in the first place: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Continue reading

Feb 07

The Problem of Gays in LDS Theology, Part I

Note: Just in case my title isn’t clear, I would like to state at the outset that I am not asking the question  of whether I personally think that gays are fully human; rather, I am looking at elements of LDS teachings which I find particularly disturbing. Please read the post before getting out your pitchfork.

The issue of same-sex marriage currently dominates much of the discussion of homosexuality, both inside and outside the Church. This makes sense, of course, given that right now, the question of SSM has become the center of gravity of the political battles over gay rights. But despite the significance of the marriage question, I think that Latter-day Saints are still struggling with a much more basic issue: are gays even people to begin with? Continue reading

Feb 05

On Being Needed vs. Being Necessary: Some Thoughts on Women, Priesthood, and Responsibility

[This post, from Jacob Baker, originally appeared at his blog All Eternity Shakes: Letters From the Vineyard. It has been slightly revised from the original. Jacob describes himself as “a student of religion and a stalwart fanboy of Zelophehad’s female offspring. Ok, and the guys too.” We’re excited to have him guest-posting for us.]

Women cannot be regarded as fully human until the full measure of responsibility and accountability is theirs. This is where the charged rhetorics of modesty, pedestalization, and singularity and specialness of gender are all mutually embedded–in the wonderful-terrible blessing and burden of cultural, institutional, and religious responsibility and accountability. This is also why the rhetoric of “equality” should be replaced with one of responsibility and accountability. Responsibility is what is really at stake with this kind of empowerment, and it is really what we mean by “equality.” Responsibility is the decisive and irrevocable difference between becoming angels or becoming gods. Continue reading

Feb 04

Tuesday’s Twice-Baked ZD: The Grace of This Darkness

In this week’s edition of Tuesday’s Twice-Baked ZD, we revisit Eve’s 2006 post where she confronts despair.

The first and most severe episode of depression began the winter I turned thirteen and lasted eighteen months, at the end of which I was numb, seared, barely alive. During the summer that followed, as I began the slow process of putting my life back together–a process which would take many years, and continues still–every weekday morning I would get up, put on my old jeans or shorts and a T-shirt, go out into the desert heat, and cross the street and the blazing, empty parking lot where the seagulls congregated on the dumpsters to the junior high, where I had to attend summer school. This winter I will turn thirty-five. During most months of most of the intervening years, despair has been my quiet, constant companion, in Lauren Slater’s words, my country. After more than two decades of struggling against the illusion that comes with every intermission, the illusion I have conquered, and the fatal false hopes that it will not return, I struggle to face the prospect that despair may be the condition of the rest of my life. Continue reading

Feb 01

Characteristics of a Mormon Feminism, Take Two

Follow-up to this.

1) Theological anthropology

Essential to this feminism is the belief that we are all the literal children of God, women and men alike, with infinite divine potential. This means that anything which gets in the way of the development of that potential, or undercuts the full humanity of any of God’s children, is something to be resisted.

We are also eternal intelligences in our own right, and agency is an eternal principle. It pre-existed the war in heaven, which was fought to preserve it. This gives agency a particular importance, even sacredness.

Additionally, because of our eternal nature, one could make the case that we have an inherent access to moral law (a knowledge of right and wrong); in any case, we clearly have this in mortality, as the light of Christ is given to everyone (see Moroni 7). This means that we can take our own moral judgments seriously.

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