The 8 things I’d like to ask

I know…I have resigned my membership. So why do I care about the new Mormon church policy update that impacts LGBT Mormons? Why bother stressing about it if I don’t even belong or believe?

Because this was my faith community for 46 years. Because it was how I was raised. Because I have active believing children (and now grandchildren), parents, a sister, extended family and friends that do continue to believe and participate. Because the Mormon church continues to impact those relationships. I have a gay brother whose married to a wonderful man and they’ve been together for a lot of years. During my faith transition, I reached out and made many friends online and became aware of their struggles and pain. I’m a Mama Dragon, even if I don’t have any gay children myself, because LGBT issues have impacted my life. I’ve received private messages over the past couple of years about what it means to be gay in the Mormon church. I have listened to stories of unimaginable pain and anguish. And the most basic reason is because I’m human and I care about people.

So I’ve examined this policy, as currently written (with no clarification issued yet), and engaged in a lot of discussions. While doing this, I’ve compiled a list of questions – questions that the video the church released with Elder Christofferson left unanswered. Here they are:

#1 – Since the primary reason for the policy given by Elder Christofferson was to protect the children from mixed messages, how does this policy accomplish that when it only bans them from saving ordinances while allowing/encouraging them to attend church? If this is the primary concern, why not ban them from attending our church services all-together until they’re 18? How does the church reconcile the mixed messaging happening for children in other families that are living in situations where parents are living in ways that don’t align with church doctrines/policies? Like non-members, those engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage, those with addiction issues, those living with partners but unmarried, those that have left the church, apostates, etc. If the church is trying to prevent mixed messaging or family conflict, why aren’t these same rules applicable for all children under age 18? Are they still working on policy updates for those children/families as well? Because there are many children currently participating in the church the hear messages that conflict with what they hear and see at home.

# 2 – Does the church anticipate that the children of gay parents will still attend church with these new rules? Do they hope that grandparents, family members and friends will continue to bring these children to primary, church and youth activities? Will the church be encouraging that? If so, how does the church envision this experience working for both those children and the adults teaching primary/YM/YW? Because the messaging will be the same. And they won’t be able to fully participate in some things (baptism, blessing/passing the sacrament, temple trips, ordinations). Does the church plan on altering the manuals to help teachers and leaders prepare for these situations and how to make the children feel truly involved/included?

# 3 - Since baby blessings are not a saving ordinance, and viewed as a celebration of a child’s birth, and are done for children whose parents are inactive/non-members, why is this different for children with gay parents? The reason given, during the video, was it creates a membership record and starts ward responsibilities for that child. But that happens with other children, as well, whose parents may not even be attending or believe (and living in situations where mixed messaging will happen). Is the church concerned about having the gay couples names on the certificate of blessing? Or in the church system listed as a family unit?  If so, why? Wouldn’t the church want primary/ward leaders and members to reach out to these children, just like they do for inactive families?

# 4 - Why is the church just now enacting these changes when same-sex marriage has been legal in roughly 20 other countries for anywhere between 1 year and more than 10 years? The total church membership in those countries is about 2.5 million. The church has said this is to protect children and families. Was the church concerned about the children and families in these other countries as well? And, if so, why did they wait until marriage laws changed in the U.S. when this is a global church?

# 5 –  How does the church view support of same-sex marriage for members now? In this interview with Elder Christofferson in March 2015, he stated:

“Our approach in all of this, as (Mormon founder) Joseph Smith said, is persuasion. You can’t use the priesthood and the authority of the church to dictate. You can’t compel, you can’t coerce. It has to be persuasion, gentleness and love unfeigned, as the words in the scripture.”
There hasn’t been any litmus test or standard imposed that you couldn’t support that if you want to support it, if that’s your belief and you think it’s right,” Christofferson said after a Jan. 27 news conference.

We have individual members in the church with a variety of different opinions, beliefs and positions on these issues and other issues,” Christofferson said. ” … In our view, it doesn’t really become a problem unless someone is out attacking the church and its leaders — if that’s a deliberate and persistent effort and trying to get others to follow them, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from its teachings and doctrines.

The current policy update states that children with gay parents, in a same-sex marriage, will need to disavow this practice in order to be baptized or serve a mission. Does that mean regular members can support it, but children with gay parents can’t? What about after they are baptized and 18 years old? Or after they return home from their mission? At that point are they allowed to support it like the rest of the members?

# 6 – Now that the church has included same-sex married couples in the definition of apostasy/apostates, are the temple recommend questions going to be altered to reflect this? Especially the question that asks:

“Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” 

Does this mean belonging to a group like Mama Dragons is a violation of this? Since they support their children and others that live with their partners or get married? What about parents who support their gay children that are doing this? What about being a member of a LGBT support group that supports these as valid options like Affirmation?

# 7 – We’ve heard rumblings that there will be some clarification or additional training coming forth to help expand on this written policy. If this is the case, and the church was planning on doing this from the start, why didn’t Elder Christofferson mention this during the video? The video was released late the following evening and the media and online discussions had been happening for 24 hours. Many people were upset, confused, surprised and honestly shocked at this update and wording. The church would have been well aware of this by the time they began filming the video. Wouldn’t it have been good timing for the church to reassure the members that further clarifications would be forthcoming? And that the church recognized there were a myriad of individual circumstances that would need to be taken into account? That the church was aware of the pain and anguish this policy was resulting in, and that they would work hard to expand on the language to help local leadership understand how to implement this? The policy change became public on November 5, the video was released on Nov 6, and it is now November 12. There has been no clarification. If the church had these exceptions/clarifications prepared, why is it taking so long to release them? Or is this delay due to not anticipating the need for these?

# 8 – If the church provides additional clarification, and allows exceptions for children who have divorced parents (mixed-orientation marriage), how will these exceptions work? Will it be based on specific percentage requirements for the amount of time they can live in the home of the parent that is cohabiting or in a same-sex marriage? After they turn 18, does this requirement end (say, for instance, a student at BYU that lives with a gay parent during a term break)?

OK so perhaps it was more like 8 groups of questions I’d like to ask!

Letting go

A very significant relationship in my life has recently come to a close. This relationship has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It impacted every aspect of my upbringing and guided me in all the major decisions of my life up to this point. It was a relationship that has been both loving and hurtful at times. At times it made me feel special and valued, and it motivated me to try and improve myself.

As a child this relationship encompassed everything I knew. I was taught it would be critical to my happiness and that without it I would feel lost and alone. That it provided purpose and meaning for my existence and that I should stay close to it. My parents and extended family fully embraced this relationship and encouraged it. They were so happy that I valued it and wanted it. When I expressed how much I loved having this relationship I received lots of positive feedback, encouragement and support.

As I got a little bit older I found at times it became more difficult to maintain this relationship as it often asked for more than I felt I could give. Sometimes it seemed it would never be satisfied with my efforts. It could be quite demanding, and let me know that to feel its love I had to abide by strict rules or it would withdraw. I had been told my whole life that without this relationship I could not be truly happy so I felt guilty when I ignored or turned away from it. When I made choices that I knew it felt were wrong I felt shame. All of my decisions had been mapped out by this relationship and I hadn’t learned how to navigate some life choices without it. When I made mistakes and was unhappy I was told this was because I had pulled back. I felt confused, unprepared and alone without it since it was all I had ever known.  When I was 18 I made the decision to come back to it and commit myself to developing the relationship fully. With it I had a very structured road-map on how to make significant choices and what my life should look like. It felt easier and I received lots of positive feedback from family and community for this decision. I felt loved and accepted.

It supported and encouraged my decision to get married at age 19 and drop out of school so my husband could complete his education. It remained a significant part of my life as I struggled to understand my role as a woman. I turned to it to try and understand my role as a wife. It provided a community filled with people similar to me and a blueprint for how to raise my four children. I worked very hard to maintain this relationship and keep it healthy. I tried to listen to it when I felt overwhelmed, discouraged and struggled to find fulfillment as a full-time stay at home mom. I spent a significant amount of time involving it in my day-to-day life as well as encouraging and teaching my children how important it was for them to grow and maintain this relationship for themselves. As they got older and struggled to make their own decisions I tried to love and encourage them to stay close to it. Many of the things we did as a family involved this relationship and it impacted all aspects of our life. I taught my children all the things that I had been taught about how this relationship worked. I taught them why this relationship was important and special. I expressed my belief that this relationship would help them be happy. I taught them they could always trust it.

Years went by and periodically I would find aspects of the relationship that were puzzling to me or made me uncomfortable but I tried to focus on the positive things. I reasoned with myself that every relationship has positives and negatives and sometimes you had to just not worry too much about the areas that don’t feel good. Overall it continued to be a positive thing in my life but periodically the very black/white demands it made on me were hard. I tried not to question the explanations it gave me even though at times they didn’t make sense or feel right. I tried to let the hurtful things go because I remembered how wonderful it felt when we were close. Sometimes I noticed this relationship put a lot of pressure on my children and expected a lot from them. Sometimes I felt uncomfortable when I noticed they suffered from this relationship. I tried to trust and believe this was the most important relationship we would have and the way that we would all truly find happiness.

Years continued to pass and our relationship became more and more strained. I found it was not quite as loving and supportive as I thought when changes happened in my life that were different from the typical pattern it had said my life should take. I noticed how strongly it influenced people in their relationship, and when those relationships weren’t within the rules (it said they had to follow), it viewed them negatively. It even tried to influence laws to legislate some of its rules so that everyone would have to follow them. I watched people get hurt by this relationship. I continued each week to try and spend time on it hoping that I could find the love, acceptance, direction and support I had felt earlier in my life. At times I would feel the love and acceptance and it was wonderful but those times grew further and further apart. I found I spent a lot of time crying over this relationship and trying to figure out how I could still enjoy it.

I had spent years on this. There had to be a way to hold onto it despite my new perspectives. I lost the sense of community that it gave me and I became more and more isolated. When I tried to talk to others about the difficulty I was having in the relationship, I was told I had to just accept its definitions, rules and claims as truth. I had to accept that any loved ones who no longer wanted this relationship were wrong; they had been deceived and would not ultimately be happy. I tried to explain that if I took this view (that I was right and they were wrong) it would make it very difficult to have a healthy relationship with my loved ones; I was told that if I loved the relationship enough I would choose it over everything else. They said this relationship was the way to ultimate truth and had all the answers. I was told the reason I was struggling was that I was fighting against that truth and if I would just accepted and follow it I would be happy again.

Time continued to pass and the hurt increased. I struggled each week to try and manage the relationship and find fulfillment in it. I felt guilty as I realized pulling back was actually a relief. I gave myself permission to go back to the beginning and see if I still believed it had the truth. I wanted and needed to know if the relationship was worth it. Was it the only way to happiness as I had been taught? Would my decision to pull away from this relationship really impact my eternal existence? Would I be lost without it? I spent months studying it. It was a roller coaster of emotions. I discovered there were aspects about this relationship I had been completely unaware of. It was a lot more complicated than I had realized. There had been falsehoods and things hidden from me. Understanding and learning this new information allowed me to admit that I no longer believed the relationship was what it claimed to be. All of the unanswered questions and concerns that I had been trying to ignore could be looked at, analyzed and I could choose for myself. The reality was this relationship had become unhealthy and damaging for me. I knew pulling back would result in pain for some of my loved ones and would impact our interactions and yet I was ready to live authentically. There were too many aspects of it that just didn’t work for me anymore. I felt an enormous range of emotions recognizing and accepting this.

Fall 2013 : I open my mailbox and there is the envelope. I’m surprised at the multitude of emotions that sweep over me as I read the letter: sadness, disappointment, hurt, nostalgia, pain, relief and acceptance. Even though I knew the letter was coming because I had requested it I didn’t anticipate this reaction, but then again this has been a 46 year relationship, and one of the most significant in my life. I’m going to give myself time to feel the emotions and move through them. I’m stepping into the next part of my life and it’s OK. I’m ready to let go.

Two Short Reads That Are Packed With Information

Need a good summer read? I picked up a couple at the Sunstone Conference that are both timely and on topic for the broader LDS Community. Here’s what I wrote about them on Amazon:

Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?An Election-Year Guide to Mitt Romney’s Religion

Ryan T. Cragunand Rick Phillips

Wallace Stegner wrote, “It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reasons that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation”

As a writer and former member of the LDS Church, I understand Stegner’s dilemma. In spite of their existence for over 150 years, the Mormons remain a mystery to many. Nevertheless, America is poised to elect one as its president. That is why “Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?” by Ryan T. Cragun and Rick Phillips is such an invaluable work.

Written with wit and clarity, this short and timely book covers all of the basics. The authors who are both professors of sociology and former Mormons tackle topics such as polygamy, the Mormon temple ceremony, whether or not the Mormons are Christians, the Mormon view of the afterlife, and the church’s stand on feminism, homosexuality, and race relations.

Cragun and Phillips’ observations are direct, at times humorous, and fair to both Mormons and their critics.

For example, on the topic of polygamy: “There’s really no other way to say it: Joseph Smith was a horny guy.”

On whether or not the Mormon underwear is weird: “We don’t think so. From an anthropological perspective, many religions prescribe ritual or symbolic clothing for their members.”

On the church’s view of women: “…men are the ultimate authority in Mormon families, and that’s the way God wants it. Men might be enjoined to be benevolent rulers of the household, but they rule nonetheless.”

On LDS approved sexuality: “No premarital hanky-panky and no masturbation of any kind is ever allowed. The church does not recognize the validity of gay marriage…hence gay people cannot have orgasms…(unless a sham-marriage spouse somehow manages to get them off).”

In the end, the authors portray the Mormon Church as an unusual, authoritarian, and staunchly conservative institution that is ideologically aligned with the right wing of the Republican Party. Could you vote for a Mormon for president? Read this book and draw your own conclusion.

The Collapse of Belief:What To Do When Your World Comes Crashing Down

Kurt Hanks and Barbara Hanks

This slim and efficient volume is a must read for anybody who has let go of a cherished relationship. Using interesting analogies and clever illustrations, the authors effectively explain the thought processes involved in going from believer to non-believer. With a slight emphasis on the loss of religious belief, the book also addresses other types of loss, such as death and divorce, as well as the trauma that comes from giving up unhealthy work environments, toxic relationships, and faulty assumptions or “world views.” It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who would not benefit from this readable and engaging work. It is especially relevant today in our polarized, religiously-infused political climate. I highly recommend this book.

–Don’t let the brevity of my review ofThe Collapse of Beliefdissuade you. It’s a great read, and the illustrations alone are worth the cover price.

They’re both great reads. Enjoy!

Do you believe in Priesthood Blessings?

In the July 2012 edition of the Ensign, there is an article by Elder Dallen H Oaks. http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/07/the-importance-of-priesthood-blessings?lang=eng&query=blessings+comfort
In the article, he talks about the different kinds of priesthood blessings. For this post, I would like to focus on Blessings of Comfort or Counsel. The article describes them this way:

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for various purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip.

Blessings given in circumstances such as I have just described are sometimes called blessings of comfort or counsel. They are usually given by fathers or husbands or other elders in the family. They can be recorded and kept in family records for the personal spiritual guidance of the persons blessed.”

Part of the article is also very specific that blessings of comfort or counsel, should be requested by the individual receiving the blessing. So, I am curious about your experiences with blessings of this type. Since many people who were raised in the church are likely to have had a number of these blessings, I am curious which of these statements fit your experience:

I have never had a blessing of the kind described above.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it helpful in making a decision.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me peace and acceptance of a situation.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me strength during a difficult trial.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised me that happened.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific but still helpful with a coming school year, decision, or endeavor in my life.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised to me that did not happen.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that the contents of the blessing brought guilt or feelings of discomfort.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific and unhelpful with whatever I was struggling with.

Every (or almost every) blessing I received was at my request.

Some of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were inspired, and I felt increased influence of the Lord as a result.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, and most of them brought an increase in faith.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, but most of them did not bring an increase in faith.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and did not have much impact on my testimony.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and negatively impacted my testimony.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and decreased my faith.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and led to me completely losing my faith.

I tried to include the variety of experiences I or friends have had, but I am sure I missed some questions. What would you have added to the list?

I realize that many people will have had a variety of experiences that fall into several categories, so I doubt that many people will have only one answer. I can say that I have both had blessings that brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and impacted my testimony in a negative way. I have also had profoundly strengthening blessings, that gave me hope in the middle of difficult trials, and the specific promises of the blessings which happened afterwards, to be an important part of my testimony as an adult.

I am curious about specific experiences that were definitive in your life. For me, during a particularly difficult period with a husband (who I am no longer married to), I requested a blessing from my step-father. The specific information about the needs of my children, and the supports that I should look for as I moved forward to protect myself, were extremely helpful. The fact that my mother took notes while the blessing was being given, and I had those notes to go back to, helped me to keep the promises of the blessing in the forefront of my mind. I have never had an actual recording of a blessing, but until I read this article, I hadn’t realized it was considered appropriate to do so. It is something that I will think about, and consider in the future when I am requesting a blessing.

So, what is your experience(s) with receiving blessings of comfort or counsel? Have they ever helped you, or did they feel like words that were just being said?

Have you ever recorded a blessing either with a recorder of with someone taking notes? If you did, were recorded blessings more helpful than blessings which you did not have recordings for?

Do you find blessings that are specific or more generalized more helpful?

If you have had a blessing that felt like it was simply a priesthood member exercising unrighteous dominion, did you request that/those blessing(s)?

While the main thrust of this post is to talk about experiences receiving blessings, but for those who have given them, at some point,is there anything that you do to prepare for giving this type of blessing, and if you have done specific preparation, do you find it makes a difference in the kind of blessings you give? Were there blessings you gave that you did not feel came from God?

Repentence – An Apology to My Home

Looking at the pile,
As it mocks me from across the room.
Tempting me to remove it –
Begging me to find the washing machine.

Ignoring the piled up dishes –
I avert my eyes, on my way to the bathroom.
I won’t let myself hear them
Crying out for mercy,
As they try to tempt me
To create a sink of soapy hot water.

A few more weeks (or months)my loves!
Then I *might* be able to serve you,
In the ways that you deserve,
Without crashing to the ground –
Potentially hurting me, and you, in the process.

You are wonderful “things;”
Surrounding my life with beauty and function.
But, you take time and energy,
And I just don’t have enough, for you, today!

 

The LDS church tells us that we can’t repent without apologizing. We must think about what we have done, admit that it was/is wrong, apologize and make amends for the sin we have committed, and never commit the sin again.

Since “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” and myhome (and sometimes hair)is only partially clean, some (or most)of the time. I have obviously moved away from God during the last few months, and I must repent!

We all have things we need to apologize for, and peopleor things that weneed to make amends to as part of our repentance process.We will never complete the process of repentance, unless we first beg forgiveness for those we have sinned against.

In my case, after months of being on bed rest with an injury, and expecting another month or so of bed rest after my surgery, this is my sincere apology to my home. I am not sure I am truly repenting at this time, since for at least a few more weeks, and maybe longer, I will keep committing this particular sin.

Hopefully both my home, and God, will allow me a lengthy process of repentance, parallelling my recovery from surgery!

Please forgive me, for I know what I do, and I can’t change it (this week)! (I truly am a sinner of the worst kind!)

Julia – http://poetrysansonions.blogspot.com/

“We do not need more members who question every detail.”

Spending too much time on Facebook, as usual, and a friend shared this link from the page LDS General Conference, a quote from M. Russell Ballard from October 1995 General Conference:

We do not need more members who question every detail; we need members who have felt with their hearts, who live close to the Spirit, and who follow its promptings joyfully. We need seeking hearts and minds that welcome gospel truths without argument or complaint and without requiring miraculous manifestation. Oh, how we are blessed when members respond joyfully to counsel from their bishops, stake presidents, quorum or auxiliary leaders, some of whom might be younger than they and less experienced. What great blessings we receive when we follow “that which is right” joyfully and not grudgingly.

The quote alone was enough to get my dander up. I had to quit reading the comments after three or four because it wasn’t good for my blood pressure. Fortunately there are some commenters on the thread saying, “Hey, wait a minute, let’s not throw our minds out the window,” and this post yesterday from Mike S. at Wheat and Tares about wanting to make “I believe” as valid a statement of faith as “I know” was encouraging.

Sometimes it gets hard to keep a tally on all the ways my experience with the Church was harmful, but this attitude that, “If what you think is different from what we think, we are right and you are wrong,” is definitely near the top of the list. As I’ve written on my own blog:

I think we all have an instinctive inner voice that can guide us toward a fulfilling life. The religion I grew up in taught me to override this voice if it conflicted with external authority….The underlying message: God (as represented by his appointed mouthpieces on earth) knows what’s best for you; you don’t. So just bequiet nice anddo what you’re told follow our loving counsel.

If something doesn’t feel right, you’re the problem. You need to pray harder and be more humble, and keep praying until the answer you get matches up with doctrine/your bishop/etc. My post goes through examples of questions I had about racism in the Book of Mormon, gender roles and gay marriage, and how I suppressed all these concerns to protect my testimony. The most vivid instance when I recall coming up against this “don’t question” attitude was when when I was 19 or 20 and told my bishop I wasn’t really sure godhood was for me. I couldn’t see the appeal in exaltation, didn’t understand why I was supposed to want that. His response: If I were more righteous, my desires would fall into line with what my Heavenly Father had planned for me.

I go through rather large stretches where I don’t feel any sort of hostility toward the Church, and feel I can just live and let live, sometimes even feel a bit of affection for the quirkiness of Mormonism. Then something like this crosses my radar. Yes, this talk is from 16 years ago, but it’s from an apostle during Conference, which I believe qualifies it as scripture, and it’s being shared and revered by many of the faithful today. Part of me wants to get in there and point out the fallacies, but the larger part of me knows it will be useless. So I just thank whatever deity may be out there for the fact that I’m not part of it anymore, and for the peace passing all understanding that I’ve found since relearning to trust myself.

 

Leah blogs at The Whore of All the Earth.

Sabbath Police!! Apparently, Mormons crack themselves up making videos like these.

While the rest of us watch in horror.

Or am I the only one frightened to discover that Mormons find this kind of thing amusing?

As far as I can tell, this is another example of the Mormon surveillance culture that empowers anonymous snitches, got Brandon Davies kicked off a BYU team, and Brian Devine fired. But Mormons apparently want the rest of the world to see how much fun their surveillance culture can be, so here it is in all its rib-ticklin’, knee-slappin’, report-your-neighbor glory:

Tip o’ the hat to Brother Shafovaloff (and a wag o’ the finger: reading comments over at Aaron’s place reminds me why I didn’t bother checking out the Christianist clubhouse after quitting Mormonia).

General Conference predictions

Back in the days when I paid attention to General Conference, I always attended the priesthood session with my wife’s father and brother. I enjoyed the tradition of returning to report some fantastic fictional revelation to my wife and her mother. I call this a tradition because I did it every time, but I was the only one who ever did.

When I returned from the priesthood session in October 2000, shortly after I was baptized, I reported that President Hinckley had a revelation that all worthy women should be allowed to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, beginning on the next Sunday. They were flabbergasted and asked if that was really true. “No,” I said. “But he did say you’re supposed to wear only one pair of earrings.”
Continue reading “General Conference predictions”

Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident

A while back another blogger asked me to submit an essay about my Mormon experience. Probably, for good reasons he changed his mind and never published it. Since it is already written and might shed some light on my argument at Times and Seasons, I might as well publish it myself. It might help some people to understand where I am coming from.

Testimony of a Dissident
When I grew up in the seventies and eighties, Church was a liberating experience. My mother converted when I was six. My father never joined the LDS Church and refused permission for me to get baptized until I was fourteen. Since the prohibition was never sufficiently justified, it only stimulated my aspirations.

I was an enthusiastic Mormon, walking five miles to get to Church when I couldnt afford public transportation. Except for my younger brother, I was the only Mormon in my school. Everyone knew about me because I was a Mormon for a reason. Probably the best indicator of my commitment to the Mormon cause was my role as a joint teacher in the conversion of over thirty Germans, which contributed to the creation of another ward. Continue reading “Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident”

The Boiled Seed and Honesty

Get your green thumbs ready!
Get your green thumbs ready!

A while back, I heard a rather innocuous story about honesty at stake conference (ok, so it’s not as prestigious as general conference…). I didn’t care much about the choice of story he used, since it seemed trite (it was some Chinese feel-good fable), but as I read a passage in the scriptures today (and realized I had been misinterpreting it for a while now), I realized a whole new realm of meaning. One that may interest you.

The story, to summarize (the story I heard is slightly different than the one I linked, so go with my summary) is that a Chinese emperor, lacking any male heirs (I suppose you could anachronistically substitute for a Empress Dowager if you like gender equality), is trying to choose a successor. He gives a challenge to the most talented young men of the nation: to raise a single seed which he will give them. After all, if you can’t raise a plant, you can’t raise a nation, can you? Chinese wisdom.

Continue reading “The Boiled Seed and Honesty”