Is There a Way to Find Common Ground?

Last year I was on a long car ride with my parents, who were visiting from out of state. My mom and I ended up having a discussion about gay marriage, and it was then that I started thinking about this problem of finding common ground–that is, the problem of Mormons like me and Mormons like my mom being able to rejoice and be edified together as we discuss difficult gospel topics–rather than starting a cage match that ends in tears (probably mine, since my mom is a tough cookie), recrimination, the silent treatment, and (God forbid!) unfriending on Facebook. (I’m happy to say that so far none of these things have happened, at least as far as I know.)

I realize that saying that my mom and I represent two types of Mormons is a vast oversimplification, one that does not fully capture our similarities, and one that does not fully acknowledge that there are lots of types of Mormons–probably as many types as there are Mormons. Even so, I think it is useful to place us in two broad categories that are familiar to Mormons who frequent the Bloggernacle. Read More

To the Rescue

I support Ordain Women and the call for Church leaders to ask God for new revelation on women receiving the Priesthood. I am impressed by the many women and men who eloquently express their pain and their faith through blog posts and Facebook comments, hoping and praying for change in the Church they love. I admire their courage as they make themselves vulnerable by putting their bodies in line, and politely asking to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference. I am saddened that such direct actions seem to be the only way to enter meaningful dialogue with General Authorities. And frequently I am discouraged by the reactions to Ordain Women from some of my brothers and sisters, fellow members of the body of Christ, fellow Mormons.

“You are prideful. Why don’t you just follow the Prophet? Why don’t you use proper channels? If you don’t like the Church the way it is, why do you stay? You should just leave and find another church.”
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Mormon Masculinity and Theological Blood Sport (Or, What We Mormon Girls Look For In the Boys We Date)

At this point in my life I happen to be pretty thoroughly acquainted with, and very fond of, two unrelated men able to recite myriads of scriptures and general-authority citations at the drop of a hat. Both are the uncontested theological authorities of their marriages; their wives might timidly pose questions or even more timidly offer their own ideas, often only to be ignored or shot down. When such men encounter one another, ritualized combat or mutual exhortation often ensue; either the combatants joust over some theological point or they join in denouncing the evangelicals, the secular world, or other unenlightened Mormons or Christians (to mention a few of the more popular targets). And as is so often the case in ritualized intellectual combat, the combatants often provoke one another into taking harder and harder stances, shoving softer, more moderate, and more considered, nuanced voices aside. We’ve all sat through a Sunday-school lesson or two that has followed this general outline. Read More

Turning the Other Cheek

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. –Matthew 5:39

A recent post reminded me of an experience I had my first couple years in graduate school. It was a difficult, painful experience that taught me a lot about anger, forgiveness, and what it means to be Christlike when another person is trying to manipulate you. Read More