A Movie Review and Some Thoughts on Communities

About a week ago I went to see the recently released documentary on The Dixie Chicks, Shut up and Sing! The movie was quite enjoyable, and much of the reason I enjoyed it was because it had a lot of good music. However, I think what I appreciated about the movie the most was that its messages emotionally resonated with me on a number of levels. Read More

The Cranky Confessions of an Orthodox Mormon

It is high time I came clean. I am the wolf in sheep’s clothing among all you liberals (insert maniacal laughter). I just took a couple of orthodoxy tests on the Believe It or Not thread over at the friendly neighborhood Cultural Hall. As I’ve been every other time I took the test, I am 100% Mormon (and 98% Mainline to Liberal Protestant, if you really want to know). Read More

Authenticity in Relief Society

Sally raised this great question on Eve’s “Relief Society Goes Berserk” thread:

I am teaching RS tomorrow on unity and have been thinking alot about what creates unity. One post mentioned that we don’t have “authentic voices” in RS, we don’t share our struggles because we need to put on our happy faces at church to fit in with the rest of the happy faces.
How can we mourn with those that mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort if those needs are carefully kept hidden? I love the “good new minutes” in RS because I feel like I get to know the sisters better, hearning of their joys. But how can we share bad news? I wouldn’t want RS to turn into a session for complaining, especially about others in our lives. So how can we open up to each other so we can better see in each other’s hearts?

Solving the Mormon Man Shortage

There has been an interesting discussion at Feminist Mormon Housewives in response to a guest poster’s request for advice on how she, as a single Mormon woman, should deal with her strong sex drive. Tangentially, I was interested by a comment made by David on that thread:

Let me just state the obvious that no one seems to want to say:

There are more decent, inteligent, active, spiritual single women in the church than there are men.

I dont know how it all balances out in the end, but right now, thats just the way it is

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Finding Middle Ground

Jessawhy recently posed this excellent question:

I’m wondering if there is any middle ground between being 100% behind anything that any living prophet has ever spoken, and rationalizing myself out of the church.

How do you find the middle ground? How do you stay active without feeling like you’ve given your brain up to the Borg? Is there a middle ground? (In the scriptures it really seems black and white, maybe Satan tricks us into thinking there are shades of grey).

Relief Society Goes Berserk

OK, I lied. It is not December 14th, and my papers have not been written. But I am nearing the end of what I have to admit is a fairly short tether with my stake Relief Society calling. In the midst of writing final papers and translations, I’ve found myself in a losing battle to scale down the mammoth stake Relief Society enrichment day planned for next spring. In the past it’s been an all-day extravaganza, two meals, workshop after workshop, crafts and motivational speakers jumping out of cakes (well, I may be exaggerating a wee bit about the cakes 😉 ).

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“You must do what you feel is right, of course.”

The Gospel of Star Wars tells us repeatedly of the importance of trusting your feelings. (If you don’t recognize my title quote, it’s what Obi-Wan says to Luke in A New Hope, when Luke is deciding whether to come to Alderaan). Qui-Gon instructs Anakin at one point, “Feel. Don’t think.” Even those on the Dark Side of the Force recognize feelings as a way of discerning truth; Vader tells Luke that if he will “search his feelings,” he will recognize the truth of what Vader is telling him about his parentage. Read More

Mark IV’s Next Two Questions: Diversity within Feminism

In case people aren’t completely burned out on the topic of feminism, I thought we’d continue with Mark IV’s questions. Here are the next two.

4. It is assumed that feminists value diversity. Why, then, is feminism in America almost exclusively espoused by well educated white women? Is this a coincidence, or is that fact trying to tell us something important? Is our assumption false from the start?

5. Mormons in Utah vote in a pattern that is about 80% predictable. This fact is often viewed as evidence of a sort of narrow dogmatism and intolerance of diversity. Feminists vote in a pattern that is about 90% predictable. Do the same assumptions apply? Why or why not?

the thing I lose the most

I’ve been enjoying all the great, deep discussion that has been going on around here lately. Unfortunately, my brain has not been up to deep discussion much recently. So I decided I needed to add a nice, fluffy post for myself, and for others whose brain power might be a little lacking at the moment.

It occured to me today that the thing I lose the most is not your typical keys, wallet, phone, etc. No, the thing I lose the most is … Read More

An Experiential Testimony

I’ve never had the standard testimony experience. You know, the one that the missionaries promise investigators: if you pray about the Book of Mormon (or the church or Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling), the spirit will witness its truth to you. That isn’t to say that I haven’t prayed about all of these things. I’ve prayed about the Book of Mormon, the church, and Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling, but the spirit has never “manifested the truth” of it through a burning of the bosom, or a feeling of peace, or a still small voice, or any of the usual standards. Read More

Using Happiness to Evaluate Belief

A question which came up in Kiskilili’s latest thread on feminism (and has also arisen in a number of other conversations) is that of the relationship between happiness and belief. Should we believe the things which make us the happiest? Does it make any sense for a person to believe something which leaves her feeling unhappy and frustrated? I think these are interesting questions, and I’d like explore them a little more. Read More

Mark IV’s Next Two Questions: The Contradictions and Costs of Feminism

OK, let’s try a couple more. (Sorry, Mark, in looking over these again, I realize I probaby should have paired your second question with your first.)

2. Does feminism have any built-in limitations or internal contradictions? If so, what are they?

3. We often (rightly) enumerate the ways in which women’s lives have improved as a result of feminism. Has there also been an offsetting downside? Have the gains been made entirely without cost?

Gratitude

What I remember about Thanksgiving from when I was growing up is the annual argument I (and several sisters) had with my brother Ziff about whether we should watch the annual TV showing of Charlotte’s Web or a football game on Thanksgiving afternoon. Charlotte’s Web is the same every time, he said, and every football game is different. Not so, I said–every football game is basically the same, so we should go for the option that’s actually entertaining. (I still think I’m right in my assessment of football games, but I’m sure Ziff would point out that I just haven’t learned to appreciate them.) Read More

Mark IV’s First Question: The Limitations of Feminism

Near the end of Kiskilili’s recent post “Where Do Mormon Feminists Come From?” our frequent commentator and good friend Mark IV proposed a short list of questions he’d like to see feminists discuss. Here follows the first of those questions. I’m looking forward to reading what people have to say about the issues he raises.

1. Given that the feminist critique of our culture is so often valid and accurate, how can we know when it is not? A woman who is dismissed from her job might attibute her dismissal to sexism, but maybe she is just incompetent. Feminism is a useful tool, but are there tasks to which it is not suited?

Differences

I certainly hope that what M&M recently called “civil, honest sharing” is the ideal we strive for around here. And I wholeheartedly agree with her that we need to break down us-them dichotomies and strenuously avoid casting anyone as an enemy. But, in my view anyway, avoiding differences by removing uncomfortable labels actually grants them more, not less, power. If I’m attempting dialogue with a Jew, a Muslim, and a Catholic, we can’t indefinitely suspend our religious identities and subsume ourselves under some more general label of “religious persons.” At some point we have to confront what divides us as well as what unites us. If we avoid confronting differences of opinion and experience, whether in religion, politics, intellectual discussion, marriage, family life, or friendship, we fail each other; we stunt intimacy and understanding and fearfully concede that differences are so threatening they can’t even be spoken. This pattern of denial and insincere “niceness” too often characterizes church culture, and I suspect it contributes to Bloggernacle eruptions of nastiness because genuine difference has too long been suffocated and festered unspoken in people’s lives.

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Coffee and Doubt

I enjoy the smell of coffee. When I’m studying or hanging out with friends at coffee shops, I sometimes look with curiosity at all the varieties you can order. Though my friends have patiently attempted to explain, I have to confess that I still don’t understand what all the different words mean (espresso, cappuccino, etc.) But some of the flavors and combinations sound rather enticing.

However, not only have I never so much as sampled the stuff, I’ve never really been all that tempted to do so. It’s one of the ways in which my behavior is surprisingly orthopractic. (Surprising to me, I mean, when I think much about it. And sometimes surprising to others as well.) Read More

Welcome, Vada

We’re quite happy to announce that we’ve added Vada to our list of ZD bloggers as an occasional contributor (presumably when she has any energy left from keeping up with her two young sons!) Vada is a SAHM and an aspiring writer, and is also the sister of our very own Seraphine. Welcome aboard; it’s great to have you here.

Personal Revelation

When it comes to personal revelation, I’m a believer; I really do think that there have been moments in my life when I’ve been on the receiving end of divine communication. I like that the doctrine plays such a central role in LDS thought; I love the idea that you can go directly to God for answers and help, that we believe in a God who is interested in us as individuals and who will interact with us personally.

Yet at the same time, I have to admit to a certain degree of skepticism when it comes to the use of revelation as a means of discerning truth. Read More

Depression and Dualism

Lately I’ve been thinking (yet again) about depression, and particularly about the ways in which it gets discussed. I periodically run into disputes between those who are convinced that depression is at its core a biological illness, and those who are convinced that it’s a spiritual one. I find myself uncomfortable with both positions, because they both arise from a dualist understanding of the human, one in which spirit and body are qualitatively different things and not really connected to each other. If you take this perspective, you’re likely to conceptualize depression as either a spiritual problem or a physical one–and I’m not crazy about either version. Read More