Dec 07

To the Person Defending the New Policies

Hi. You don’t know me, but I got into an argument with you this morning on Facebook. I don’t usually do that—one of my resolutions is in fact not to argue with strangers on social media, because I think it’s easier to demonize and dismiss people when you don’t know them, when they’re only friends of friends (if even that). And Facebook arguments in general seem to just go back and forth and leave everyone even more deeply entrenched in their positions.

But I jumped in anyway, because I was so troubled by what you said. Troubled by the content of it, for sure, but also by the reality that your views are shared by many, many members of the church. Troubled enough that I wanted to respond. I left the Facebook argument because I quickly realized that nothing I said would make any difference. But I find myself still want to say something, to see how well I can do at explaining where I’m coming from. I don’t expect that I’m going to convince you to agree with me, but I’m wondering if we can do better than reciting talking points at each other. Continue reading

Dec 06

A Month Later

It’s been a month now, since the church’s November 5th policy changes. It’s been a pretty awful month—in the church and in the broader world. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so discouraged about my country, and its enthusiasm for guns and xenophobia. And I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so discouraged about my church. Continue reading

Dec 04

Types of Smoothies Quiz

 

Match each smoothie type with its definition.

Smoothie Type Definition
TK Smoothie What you call it when someone gives you a coupon for a free blended fruit drink, but the coupon has already expired
OK Smoothie A blended fruit drink given to attendees of a particular comedy show
JK Smoothie A blended fruit drink passed out by NRA lobbyists to the congresspeople they own rent lobby, both as a reminder of the usefulness of their products, and as a threat
JFK Smoothie The blended fruit drink Lehi might make using only the fruit of the tree of life, rejecting any nonwhite fruit
KKK Smoothie A blended fruit drink business that has ceased striving for excellence and has embraced its mediocrity
AK(-47) Smoothie A blended fruit drink business run by two families with long Mormon histories: the Tanners and the Kimballs
CK Smoothie What you get when you pay for your blended fruit drink with pounds rather than dollars,  euros, or yen
UK Smoothie A blended fruit drink you get at the airport in New York when your flight was diverted from LaGuardia
Dec 02

Stories of Divine Intervention

A painful church experience to which I think many people can relate is that of listening to people share stories of divine intervention that didn’t happen in your life. People might talk, for example, about God giving them healthy children. If you don’t have children, or if your children aren’t healthy, this can really sting. Or perhaps God is reported to have intervened to cure a disease—one from which you or someone you love still suffers. Maybe God spared people from accidents, or blessed them financially. Those who weren’t blessed in those ways are inevitably going to wonder why. As a single person,my favorites are the “how God led me to my spouse” stories. (You might think that this would be a different sort of concern for me, given that I’m gay, but actually there are plenty of gay people who will testify that God brought their partners into their lives.) And hardest of all, I suspect, are stories about God saving people’s lives, when he didn’t save the life of the person you loved. Continue reading

Dec 01

A Sustainable Life

It’s gray outside. That’s not unusual here; it’s been gray for days, and I know this is only the beginning of some long months. I remember that from living in the Midwest before, years ago. But twelve years of living in California got me used to seeing the sun on a regular basis. I knew this part of the move would be challenging.

This past summer I was starting to crash yet again. Life was increasingly appearing both bleak and terrifying, and I was barely treading water. I hadn’t been hospitalized for an entire year—an accomplishment, that—and I saw myself headed to the ER once again. Except that I wasn’t sure I could stand yet another trip to the regulation and boredom of a psych ward, and I wondered whether this time around I could keep myself safe.

Continue reading

Nov 24

Justice and Mercy

Alma is unarguably the figure in the Book of Mormon who exhibits the most concern for the concepts of justice and mercy—which he notably conceptualizes as different things, even things that are in competition. He thoroughly explicates this in Alma 42, as part of his sermon to his wayward son Corianton. I wish to go briefly over his argument, and then raise some questions about this conception.

Continue reading

Nov 22

Revelation that Calls for Others to Sacrifice

One of the many, many things I find troubling about D&C 132 is that it’s a revelation in which the recipient is put in a privileged position vis-à-vis significant others his life; in this case, his wife. In it, Joseph is promised all kinds of blessings. To be fair, Emma is as well—but only if she’ll swallow the bitter pill of Joseph taking other wives. Otherwise, she’s warned, she’ll be destroyed. Continue reading

Nov 19

Just for Fun, Some Questions

It’s been a difficult, heavy couple of weeks, both in the church and in the world. I think it’s important to be talking about the issues that are getting talked about. But just for a break, I’m posting a survey of completely random questions.

1) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

2) Do you use a mouse or touchpad?

3) What time do you think you should ideally go to bed? What time do you actually go to bed?

4) Are you on Facebook? How often do you post?

5) Which of the meetings of the three-hour block is generally the best one—sacrament meeting, Sunday School, or Relief Society/Priesthood?

6) What was the last TV show you watched?

7) What is your favorite month?

8) What blogs do you read the most?

9) If you have a pet, what is it, and what is it named? If you don’t have a pet, what kind of pet do you think you’d be most likely to get?

10) Would you rather travel by car, by train, by plane, by bus, by boat, or by something else?

11) What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

Nov 18

A Career of Pain

Adrienne Rich’s “Twenty-One Love Poems VIII” concludes with the lines:

Well, that’s finished. The woman who cherished
her suffering is dead. I am her descendant.
I love the scar-tissue she handed on to me,
but I want to go on from here with you
fighting the temptation to make a career of pain.1

I find that powerful. I’ve thought a lot about that temptation of cherishing your suffering, of making a career of pain. In my life, it’s been a seductive one—to define myself in terms of what I’ve suffered, to make that the center of my identity.

Continue reading

  1. Adrienne Rich, “Twenty-One Love Poems VIII,” The Dream of a Common Language (W.W. Norton 1978), 29. []
Nov 17

Church Leaders Can Choose Their Actions, Not the Consequences

The For the Strength of Youth booklet makes a good point about agency:

While you are free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences. Whether for good or bad, consequences follow as a natural result of the choices you make.

There have been a couple of notable instances recently of Church leaders appearing to not believe in this connection between their own choices and consequences of those choices.

Continue reading

Nov 13

Disappointment

I think I hadn’t realized how much hope I had that the rumored clarification/revision would substantially address the problems caused by recent policy changes until the clarification actually arrived. My heart sank when I read it. I will say that I’m happy to hear that many children who had temporarily fallen into a state of limbo will now be allowed to be baptized. I actually guessed that would happen; it seemed like denying baptism to children in joint custody situations was going to be a step too far for even conservative church leaders. But the fact that other children are still left out in the cold is deeply troubling. Even if the policy only applied to a single child, we’ve crossed a certain bridge now, in terms of what we’re willing to do in the name of rejection of gay marriage. It’s not pretty. And I worry that it will be very difficult to go back. Continue reading

Nov 13

Mercy

We’ve all known the feeling of living simultaneously through events of community and personal significance, times when the public and the private terribly converge. September 1993 was a time like that for me. Again in recent days I’ve reflected on what that time meant to me as a Mormon coming of age, and what it means to me now, more than twenty-two years later. Continue reading

Nov 12

Weathering the Storm

I would indeed be ungrateful today if I didn’t acknowledge the blessings in my life. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but it’s nonetheless true; I have been reminded again and again in this past, difficult week that I have a lot of good friends. People have reached out to me, checked up on me, reminded me that they loved me. I’ve been asked over and over, are you okay?

And the answer, somewhat surprisingly, is yes. I’m okay. I really am. Continue reading

Nov 12

From the Backlist: New Policies

Ever wondered what the ZD backlist is like? Wonder no longer! This is one of many, many discussion threads over the last couple of days.

Lynnette: Another person I know just sent in his resignation letter. I feel like I’m watching a disaster unfold in real-time.

I usually start out upset at things and then calm down some. But this is going in reverse. The more time goes by and I see the effects of this, the more awful stories I encounter, the more horrified I am.

Vada: I’m horrified, too. The posts Jerilyn has been sharing are just about killing me. Especially the ones of parents trying to explain this to their children. Or of parents knowing they’ll have to, but not knowing how. I can’t imagine having to explain to my 7yo that he can’t get baptized next year, even though his brothers did recently. Or explaining to my almost 11yo that he won’t be able to pass the sacrament next year like everyone in his age. It breaks my heart, and I don’t even have to do it.

Lynnette: I feel like there’s been a lot of discussion about hypothetical children who might have cognitive dissonance while real actual children are getting directly harmed.

Continue reading

Nov 11

3-Dimensional Moral Reasoning

What if we were to start from scratch? What if we were to examine right and wrong using our best moral intuitions, not privileging the traditions of our fathers? Would this be the sum of our moral arithmetic?

penis + vagina = good

penis + penis = bad

vagina + vagina = bad

penis + vagina + vagina + vagina + … = bad, except under certain circumstances when the prophet or temple say it is good

Is this the moral essence of who we are as Mormons? And if not, then why is so much rhetoric and policy fixated on defending the heterosexual, patriarchal family ideal? Continue reading

Nov 11

Top 12 Handbook Policies You Must Have a Testimony Of!

  1. Church members should not seek the autographs of General Authorities or Area Seventies, including signing in their scriptures, hymnals, or programs. (link)
  2. The Church’s official logotype . . . . may not be used as a decorative element or a computer screen saver. (link)
  3. Using the piano and organ at the same time is not standard for Church meetings. (link)
  4. Church parking lots should not be used for commuter parking without permission from the director for temporal affairs. (link)
  5. Members should not participate in hypnosis for purposes of demonstration or entertainment. (link)
  6. The priesthood music director recommends and conducts the hymns for the opening exercises of priesthood meetings. (link)
  7. Artwork in meetinghouses should be properly framed. (link)
  8. Members may not direct the antenna [of a church satellite dish] from one satellite or transponder to another without authorization from Church headquarters. (link)
  9. The Church strongly discourages the donation of sperm. (link)
  10. In the United States and some other countries, it is a violation of postal regulations to place any material without postage in or on mailboxes. This restriction applies to ward or stake newsletters, announcements, flyers, and other Church-related materials. Church leaders should instruct members and missionaries not to place such items in or on mailboxes. (link)
  11. If needed, the stake presidency may call a brother to serve as stake Sunday School secretary. (link)
  12. In extreme situations, local leaders may cancel Sunday meetings. (link)
Nov 10

How to Be an Ally to the LGBTQ+ Mormon Community

If you’re at all familiar with social justice work, or if you’ve been following progressive Mormon discussions on the recent policy changes in the church, you’ve likely heard the word “ally.” In social justice work, an ally is someone who works on eliminating sexism, racism, homophobia, etc., from a place of privilege. For example, a cisgender male working to eliminate sexism can be an ally to his transgender and female friends. A straight person working on eliminating heterosexism can be an ally to their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.

I’m full of gratitude for the multitude of ways that the Mormons in the communities I belong to have offered support and care for their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters this past week. And because I know people want to continue to work on being supportive to the best of their ability, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for being a good ally to the LGBTQ+ Mormon community, especially since things are pretty difficult for us right now. Continue reading