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

Religion in . . . (not really) literature

Lately I’ve been reading romantic thrillers (yes, this is my guilty secret after 25 years of reading more redeeming books I started reading romance novels). I’ve found a few authors I like, but I’ve read most of their books, so I’ve been looking for new authors I might like. I looked at some of the Listmania lists on Amazon, and found some suggestions. One of the suggestions was for the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson. What I didn’t realize until I was five or six chapters into the first book is that these are not just romantic suspense novels. They’re Christian romantic suspense novels. And it bugs me. A lot. I really like the characters, and the plot is pretty good, but the discussion of faith and believing makes me want to throw the book across the room. Read More

Religious Differences

I have two friends in particular, one Catholic and one Protestant, with whom I find it remarkably easy to have religious conversations. In terms of explicit doctrinal teachings, we’re often coming from quite different places. Yet somehow we seem to be on the same wavelength religiously. I’ve also met numerous Mormons whom I don’t seem to connect with at all, and in talking to such people I’m not always sure what exactly it means that we’re in the same religion, because we seem to be worlds apart in our religious views. Read More

(The) Bishop

When I was a teenager, one of my good friends omitted the use of an article when talking about the bishop: for example, “I’m going to talk to bishop” as opposed to “I’m going to talk to the bishop.” I figured it was simply a language quirk of her family (and since I come from a family where people use “clo” for the singular of “clothes,” and have invented verbs like “loonify,” I’m hardly in a position to judge anyone else’s use of language as strange.) Read More

Self-Styled Saviors

More than a decade ago, I worked the summer between my graduation from college and my mission at an LDS girls’ camp. Every week we had a guest speaker or fireside, and I believe it was at one of them that the girls were invited to share something about their dreams/goals/life plans with the room at large. I still remember the twelve-year-old who announced with great assurance that when she grew up, she was going to “help abused children.” (This was at the fever pitch of abuse trendiness, which seems somewhat in decline these days, although sadly, abuse itself likely isn’t.) Years later, I thought about her again when my husband remarked to me, in exasperation at some of his female colleagues’ propensity for excessive entanglement with their clients, that there ought to be a diagnosis (Axis II?) for “desire to become a psychologist.”

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Praying in Public

I hate praying in public. I will avoid it at all costs. I’m too conflict avoidant to say “no” if I am directly asked by someone in a class or at the dinner table to pray, but I refuse to volunteer for prayers. When my significant other and I sit down to eat I usurp his right to preside (and ask him to pray) so that I won’t have to do it. Read More

Thinking About the End of the World

I have to confess that I’ve never been terribly interested in eschatology (the study of “last things.”) I remember being anxious about the Second Coming when I was younger, but by the time I was attending Seminary, I found the extended discussion of “signs of the times” and detailed speculations about events described in the book of Revelation to be, quite frankly, boring. The first time you hear that the world is about to end it’s a bit thrilling, but for me at least, it didn’t take much repetition for the excitement to wear off. (The “imminent end of the world” thing also loses a bit of its punch when you realize for just how many years people have been making that claim.) And I found many of the doctrines related to the Second Coming to be so bizarre-sounding that it was difficult to see them as having any significance for my actual life. Read More

Leading a Secondary Life

The discussion over at FMH on Ana’s excellent day-in-the-life-of-a-working-mom post got me thinking again about the complexities of leading a secondary life. For a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, it’s becoming more and more likely that my husband and I will never have children. (The complexities of infertility merit their own post, and perhaps someday I’ll post about them, but it remains a painful subject, and at the moment I manage the pain mostly by trying not to think about it.) Here, though, I want to consider the contradictions of what I will call, for lack of a better term, a secondary life.

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