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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Culture and Doctrine

Commenting on a recent FMH thread (see #85), Sonnet raises some good questions:

When we call something “cultural,” then we allow ourselves to think of that thing as peripheral, perhaps silly, and certainly not required for salvation. But who gets to decide what is doctrine and what is culture? . . . I would be willing to bet that everyone’s configurations of doctrine and culture are different: How do you decide what is doctrine and what is not? Do you believe that someone else can tell you? Why is this distinction a useful one to make?

I’ve been wondering the same thing. This separation is frequently proposed as a way to deal with aspects of the Church that a person finds difficult. Once something gets labeled “culture,” as Sonnet observes, it’s easy to dismiss it; in fact, “culture” at times seems to simply be shorthand for “something I don’t like/believe.” However, I’m finding myself more and more skeptical about any clear-cut distinction between the two. Read More

On-the-Spot Mental Meltdowns

One of my less pleasant memories is that of the oral exam I had to take at the end of my master’s program in theology. Mostly what I remember is sitting in a room and staring blankly at three professors who were valiantly attempting to coax me into saying something coherent. At one point I recall one of them saying, “I know you know this–you gave a class presentation on it just a few weeks ago.” Unfortunately, my brain seemed to have temporarily shut down, and I had difficulty coming up with even basic theological terms. Read More

Doctrinal Development and Continuing Revelation

One of my Catholic professors once wryly observed that ten seemed to be the magic number for official Catholic pronouncements: after a new teaching had been repeated ten times, documents would begin with the phrase, “as the Church has always taught . . .” The comment made me laugh, because it reminded me of the LDS tendency to assert that every current notion in the Church must have existed in antiquity. Like other religious traditions, we are confronted with the challenge of theologically accounting for change while maintaining continuity with the past. Read More

Beauty and Power

(I originally posted this on my individual blog, from which I am currently taking a hiatus. I’ve revised it slightly and am reposting it here because I wanted a wider audience for my thoughts. Enjoy!)

There was a post on Feminist Mormon Housewives earlier this year (in response to a post on a conversation in other feminist blogs about women, beauty, compliments, derogatory comments, feminism, and other related matters) that got me thinking about the issues of beauty and power and how they play out in women’s lives, both inside and outside of the church. Read More

New Look

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Where Is the Meaning? (Interpreting Spiritual Texts, part I)

Bloggernacle conversations over the past few months (especially those on women and temple covenants) have got me thinking about issues of textual interpretation. So, I decided to do a series of posts thinking about how we interpret spiritual/religious texts and whether or not there’s anything we can learn from people in the academy whose job it is to interpret texts (i.e. literary theorists). Here’s attempt #1. Read More

Please Welcome: The Bouncer

We at ZDs are happy to welcome our newest member, the Bouncer. The Bouncer is pursuing a Ph.D. in Auto Body and Creative Negotiations. As a child he received an Iron Sewer Rat for being the first Boy Scout ever to swim a mile through industrial sludge. He applied to law school hoping to become intimately acquainted with torts, but when he discovered no cake was involved, he instead graduated at the top of his class from the renowned perjury program at the University of Cosa Nostra (or so he says). Read More

Sunstone Feminist Blogging Session

I’ve been in Utah for the last several weeks, and yesterday I was able to attend a couple of Sunstone sessions, including the panel on Mormon Feminist Bloggers. It was really fun to put faces with some familiar names. I’m a little behind on sleep–it’s been a bit of a crazy week, and I’m about to leave to drive back to California. But here are some of my hopefully not too incoherent notes on what was said. Read More