Making Space for Myself as an Uncorrelated Mormon–Part 4: Learning to Say No

I’m going to share with you something important I’ve learned in therapy (said the blogger, both of his remaining readers scrambling for the exits). In order to have healthy relationships, we need to have healthy boundaries. And when constructing boundaries, we must be aware that they can be either too porous or too rigid.

First, the problem with too porous: Read More

Making Space for Myself as an Uncorrelated Mormon–Part 3: Try This One Weird Trick

(Previous posts about making space can be found here, here, and here.)

A while back I listened to a podcast where Fiona Givens discussed the lovely book she and her husband co-wrote called “The God Who Weeps”. I highly recommend it–the God they describe is compelling, one worth seeking after, connecting with, and emulating. Anyway, I was struck by her confidence in her Mormon-ness, her self-assurance that her way of being Mormon was completely valid, even though it sounded quite different from much of the Mormonism that I experience in my ward and during General Conference.

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Area Mormon Called to Serve as a Facebook Member

In a dramatic move viewed by many observers as a step towards hastening the Lord’s work in the last days, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called their first Facebook member. Area man Aaron Fizz, of the Provo 279th ward, was asked by his bishop to accept the calling of a Facebook member, and will commence his new duties as soon as he can be sustained in sacrament meeting and set apart by his local leaders.

In his bishop’s charge to him, Brother Fizz was exhorted to be willing to bear other members’ over-the-top political statements, to friend with those who friend, to like those who stand in need of liking, and to play Mafia Wars at all times and in all places that he may be in, even until death or his wife says it’s time to come to bed. Read More

Dona Nobis Aequalitatem

In May of 2010, I was standing alone in my new room after having just started a new job for the summer working the dorms at BYU. I had just finished completely unpacking, and everything was in place and orderly. And it was at that moment, when all seemed settled, that I decided I had to leave.

There I was, just done with my first year at BYU. The past year and a half of my life had been spent fighting against a thought that started as a small flicker but overtime became impossible to push back. That struggle had been spent with what seemed like virtually constant prayer, and I was feeling very close to God at that time in my life—closer than I had ever felt before.

And so, I sat down at the end of my bed and said a simple, to the point prayer. . It wasn’t a prayer of asking—I am much too decisive a person for that. I said something like “Hey. I know I just unpacked and everything. But I can take it no more, and I have decided to leave the church. No one understands my struggle better than you—you’ve been with me through it all. But I can’t do it anymore. I do not feel welcome, and I do not feel that this is my home. I’m starving slowly and I am finding no nourishment in this church. I am scared if I stay much longer, the damage will not be reversible and I’ll never recover. So, I have decided to leave. I’ll transfer to a new school. I’ll move on from this.” Read More

Making Space for Myself as an Uncorrelated Mormon–Part 2: Mormon Open Mic

  (Previous posts about making space can be found here and here.)       microphone

I have performed stand-up comedy four times: three times for church talent shows and once at a work fundraiser. But, I have not yet mustered the courage to try stand-up at a comedy club open mic night, not yet taking that next comedic and soul-baring step, and I’ll tell you why. When I do comedy the nearly universal response I get, when friends approach me after my performance, is this: “That was really funny! I had no idea you do comedy. I never would have guessed.”

I know these people don’t mean it—it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction than a reasoned response—but what they’re telling me is that I’m just not that funny in real life. Read More

Making Space for Myself as an Uncorrelated Mormon–Part 1: Going with Nixon to China

(My introductory post on making space can be found here.)

In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon went to China, thereby reopening official diplomatic ties that had been ruptured by the Communist revolution of 1949. During the ensuing quarter century, the Cold War had created between the two countries a suspicious and unsurpassable barrier that American politicians would not approach. Doing so would paint them as pink, soft on Communism, too weak to protect American interests, and therefore vulnerable to domestic political attacks. Nixon’s rabid anti-Communist rhetoric, anti-Communist policies, and tacit approval of McCarthy’s communist witch hunts proved his bona fides. He was, in Mormon-speak, anti-Communist with every fiber of his being, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thus it was said that only Nixon could have gone to China–he had, according to Wikipedia, “an unassailable reputation among his supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials.” In other words, he was able to step outside the orthodoxy because everyone knew whose team he was on.

Nixon’s bare-knuckled domestic politics were, in many instances, despicable, as Watergate subsequently highlighted. But the important lesson to be learned from his China diplomacy is that, to depart from a team’s orthodoxy in some areas, requires that we demonstrate our commitment to the team in other areas.

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In defense of boring meetings

Today’s guest post comes to us from Mike C. In case you haven’t already seen it, don’t miss his recent guest post at fMh.

Main entry: bored for the Lord

Definition: the practice of sitting through LDS Sunday meetings in a dull stupor as a demonstration of true devotion and faith

Etymology: variant of lying for the Lord, early Mormonism (ca. 1848)

Synonyms: PEC attendance, reading handbook #2, sitting still during hometeaching visits if you are younger than 18

Antonyms: teaching Sunbeams (see also, frazzled for the Father)

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Quietism

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. –Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28

Last March, on the Sunday morning Daylight Saving Time began, I went to church as usual, took my son to nursery, and immediately noticed that the clock in the room was still on Standard Time. I found that my first, entirely natural impulse–to change the clock to the correct time–was so swiftly and automatically stifled that I almost didn’t notice I’d had it. I’ve learned very well to do little at church on my own initiative, lest my actions inadvertently violate an unknown directive or intrude on someone else’s stewardship. Read More

Reason and Emotion

When the BBC’s modern version of Sherlock aired in 2010, it appealed to my deep seated love of problem solving, mysteries and attention to detail. I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles and one or two of the short stories in the past, but decided to read the entire Sherlock canon, which is comprised of four novels and 56 short stories. Overall, they were a very enjoyable read. However, given that the stories were written between 1887 and 1921 it is not surprising that Sherlock holds some extremely sexist attitudes.   Read More

Times, They Are A Changin’

A couple months ago, I wrote a quick post about Visiting Teaching and my relationship to it.  In it, I emphasized that I didn’t feel like a forced, monthly visit was spiritually or socially useful to me, though it might be for other people.  I also mentioned how my favorite VTs in the past didn’t visit me monthly, but would formally drop by every 3-6 months and otherwise just treat me as a friend around town.

I lamented how the VT/HT program, can get too caught up in stats and “just getting it in each month” rather than really thinking about what people individually need, want, or can adequately do.

The response I got was good–some people liked the idea of making VT/HT more flexible and some people thought that the monthly meeting, though it may not be the most casual, was its own form of showing love through showing consistency. Thanks for all your comments.

I bring it all up again because I wanted to share something interesting with anyone who was intrigued by that post a while back: Read More

Quantity vs. Quality: If you could only have one on a spiritual desert island…

I have this weird relationship with visiting teaching.

I really like it, actually.  I like it for its ultimate point: to make sure everyone has, if not a couple of friends in the community, at least someone who is making sure you’re okay.  I’m all about making dinners, babysitting kids for bedridden sisters, or sending off a “how ya doin'” kind of card if I notice someone seems down.  I really like getting visited and getting to know people I’m generally too shy to get to know on my own. Read More

“Gotcha” questions for GAs

A recent guest poster at fMh asked for suggestions about what question she might pose to a visiting Seventy who had agreed to a Q&A session with members as part of stake conference. In a post at Nine Moons, Rusty pointed out that many of the questions seemed to be “gotcha questions,” intended to make a point rather than to genuinely seek information. (Several commenters on the fMh thread made a similar point.) I agree with Rusty. Many of the questions did appear not to be serious attempts to get information, but more attempts to show the Seventy up. That being said, I really liked a lot of the “gotcha questions.” I began to wonder why so many people thought of asking them.

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How Do You Teach Lessons When You Don’t Agree With Them?

I currently teach Relief Society in my ward. It’s possibly the best calling in the church. It’s teaching, which is usually fun. It involves nothing administrative and no meetings. You don’t have to call people on the phone (a dreaded task which I will go to great lengths to avoid). And it’s only once a month. Really, I have it pretty good. Read More

Feminism is Not a Trial

Like every other human being on the planet, there are things in my life that I would consider trials. Mental health wackiness. Being single in a married church. Financial insecurity, and wondering whether I’ll ever get a job.

However, the fact that my perspective on the church is informed by feminism is not one of them. And I find myself bristling when concern with feminist issues is placed in that category, as if it were an affliction to be borne. As if some people have to struggle with illness or unemployment, and others come down with a bad case of feminism.

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Nursery Etiquette, or, What I Wish Others Knew About My Calling

As Mormons we are theologically committed to experiential, bodily knowledge. And we all know there are some things you never really understand until you’re actually in the trenches, dealing with a situation as it unfolds on the ground. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the several times I’ve served as a nursery worker. Read More

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. Read More

The Grace of Community and Friendship

Last week I began to ponder how the Atonement might apply currently to the struggles I’m facing. We’re taught that the Atonement is not only there for sinners, but for everyone who needs healing and reconciliation. I began to wonder how it might be possible to use the Atonement to reconcile myself to a God from whom I am distant and with whom I am very upset.

This was in the back of my mind as I went to church on Sunday.  Read More