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My parents are worried about me being in another country. Washington, DC is far enough for them. I’m posting some pics for them to get a sense of where I’m staying. It’s a gated community kind of place.

Margaret Rockefeller Strong Larrain donated the Villa Le Balze to Georgetown University in 1986. When she inherited it, she wanted to donate it for an educational purpose. She invited universities to submit proposals and Georgetown beat out the likes of Harvard, Yale and Stanford for the chance to educate their students here. It could have been because her lawyer was a Georgetown alum.:)

The garden courtyard.

The view, part of it. My camera’s zoom is really good.

The greenhouse

The dining hall where we eat almost all of our meals prepared by Italian cooks. Lunch has two courses, starting with pasta and dinner has three courses, starting with pasta. Seriously, my jeans are already a bit snug by this point.

One of the two libraries. This is the room where I’m currently sitting.

Upstairs hallway to some of the bedrooms, including mine.

The bathroom

Our room, there’s just two of us, so it’s not as cramped as it looks.

The view from the bathroom.

There’s also a classroom space for our evening lectures and we’re locked up inside gated walls. Not too shabby.

I’m really grateful to be here and I appreciate fellowshipping with Georgetown students. They’re very bright and many of them are faithful Catholics, which I appreciate. There’s not much of a religious presence on Georgetown campus apart from their values banners and usually empty chapel. Since I go to school at night after work, I don’t get to interact as much with my peers as I would have in a daytime program. However, it still draws people of faith. This weekend we went to Assisi where St. Francis lived, served and died and now holds a huge basilica in his honor. Our conversations the whole weekend were full of theology and open, authentic respectful discussion. When everyone else was drinking wine and I consistently declined, it came out that I was LDS (Mormon) which only adds to the the discussion.

Learning for me is a spiritual experience. Hearing others’ views  expands that process. That’s beautiful to me.

From this MormonNewsroom post:

 

Awesome

From BuzzFeed

When my sister and I were little, our Mom made us dresses for Easter every year.We loved them. It was an exciting part of Easter. As we got older, when she was able to provide it, we’d go shopping for them.

Those are fun memories.

This week, I was at Ross to get a few things now necessary because of  my new move.

Of course, I had to browse the dresses.

I’ve written before about a more mindful approach to my purchasing behavior. When I saw this dress, I just had to have it. I paused wondering if all the lace dresses I’ve pinned on Pinterest  influenced my want or if I couldn’t have lived without it regardless of my virtual pinboard. Still working on that one.

As I went back and forth with how I really  shouldn’t buy more clothes because I have plenty, I justified it to maintain tradition.

It’s now my Easter dress.

I really like the waistband and the length.

And the pockets.

And I love love love the lace!

I also like how I didn’t have to do that much with it to “make it modest” as a Mormon  girl would say. I wear an underclothing as a reminder of my covenant with God. I promised Him to always remember His Son and keep His commandments.  It makes clothing shopping a treasure hunt and a venture in creativity.

Since this underclothing, called  “the garment,” has short sleeves and covers cleavage, if I were to have it, I added a brown undershirt to the crème dress. I liked the length because the garment falls a few inches above the knee.

Just a day in the life of the average Mormon woman.

I’ve written several times about wearing the garment. The post Mormon Underwear: A Constant Personal Reminder to Always Remember Jesus Christ and Keep His Commandments explains the doctrinal background and belief behind the practice. The post MacGyver Groupie and Lengthy Leggings shows some of the attempts to make clothes modest. And the best one was the time when I asked Michael Shermer  a question at Sixth and I about his new book and once he found out I was Mormon, he asked if I “wore the underwear.” It’s worth checking out: Magic Mormon Underwear Gets a Mention at the Believing Brain Discussion.

This week BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins tweeted a conversation between Time magazine columnist Joe Klein and Buzzfeed head honcho Ben Smith.

 

Speaking of Mitt Romney, Klein said:

 “I don’t know what the extent of this is, but I think the fact that he’s a Mormon, leads him to be mistrustful about the outside world and what it can handle about him…I think there’s something very close to the core of his being on a very personal level, and this is just speculation on my part, to mistrust the rest of the world.”

Joe Klein’s analysis of Mitt Romney speaks more to his own mistrustful mindset than it does of Mitt Romney’s.  A Pew study recently found that Mormons are among the most happy and settled of Americans.  They are characteristically optimistic about the world and its possibilities. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s inspiration for their Broadway hit came from their personal acquaintance with Mormons who seemed to them ready to burst into song at any moment. The theme of Mormon cheerful naivete runs throughout their production. And being a member of the Mormon community myself, I can vouch that we have an optimistic worldview. Because of our view of God as our Father, the possibility of repentance made possible by His Son and how we view the purpose of life and its difficulties, it makes for a doable go at life. Oh, and I almost forgot the strong community support. Friendship expanded with the Holy Ghost makes life very beautiful.

Mormons are, however, on the defense.

It’s not that Romney’s Mormonism, if he’s not a complete outlier from these common trends, makes him mistrustful. It’s that Mormons feel misunderstood by the world around them, which was another finding  from  the Pew study. Here we are enjoying a rich spiritual life and then Robert Jeffress calls us a cult. What?  You can sense my defensiveness in the response to it: Jeffress: Cults–any religious group not Evangelical Christian (Catholics get a backhanded pass).  Klein here represents many in the media who just don’t get religious people, let alone the religious group of the Mormons who are new to the public consciousness. He knows of the cult name calling, he’s heard of the posthumous baptisms and he doesn’t understand it, therefore, he doesn’t trust it.

My take is that Romney carries the optimism characteristic of Mormons. It’s clear in how he talks about America, which he likely uses as a surrogate to talking about his faith. He’s not mistrustful of the world. But because many of the gate keepers to his nomination in the Republican party consider Mormonism a cult and because many in the media that report on him come from secular backgrounds and lack understanding of religious motivation, it’s just a much better strategy not to talk about his faith.

As a Mormon myself, I wouldn’t want Mitt Romney to be elected president just because he is a Mormon. However, I definitely wouldn’t want him to be denied the presidency only because he is Mormon. The same policy goes for candidates’ race and/or gender. Yes, their experiences inform their worldview and it’s important to understand who they are because of it, but let’s be sure we’re not projecting our own mistrust on others instead of accurately understanding what motivates them.

Further, Klein shows more of his mistrust after Ben Smith responds very well to his suspicions. (I wonder if Smith is Jewish, he seems to get the religious approach to life and respect it. If he’s not Jewish, maybe he’s just done his due diligence as a journalist to understand people in his American community. Good for him.)

Well, there’s the underwear…,‘ Klein says.

Smith draws the very similar comparison to making fun a yamaka. This is something that is deeply meaningful to someone else. It should be respected, whether you value it personally or not.

Wearing the garment for me is similar to taking Communion with me everyday. When I have to go about the demands of daily life where it’s easy to forget God, I have a constant very personal reminder  of my promise to remember Jesus Christ. It’s a tall order to “always” remember Him. (Mosiah 18:9-10) God has provided me tools to be better at my effort. I appreciate it.

In short, I have a rich spiritual life because of the framework the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides me. It includes practices, such as wearing the garment, that I’m happy to talk to about when people are respectful about it. Mormons are optimistic about the world and their place in it, but get on the defense when they’re misunderstood. I don’t expect others to suddenly want to adopt the practice themselves, but as citizens of a shared American community, the First Amendment especially requires we respect others’ pursuits of conscience. When members of the media, such as Joe Klein, misunderstand religious communities and their motivations, it creates a glaring blindspot in their competency as journalists.  May he bring himself up to speed  if a Mormon is in the next general presidential election.

 

From this blog about Mormon Temples 

Mormon Temple Wedding: A Ceremony Centered in Christ

“What’s in a Name?” A Whole-lotta Faith in Jesus Christ

These posts are among the most shared from this blog so far.  It’s a good thing I reviewed which ones were the most shared before I updated the sharing tools this week because it then wiped out the history of the displayed numbers. bummer.

Living the Faith Life 

I’m Mormon. Why I Believe: Enlightened or Brainwashed? 

My Current Explanation of Life’s Purpose

Great Expectations 

 

Elder Bednar’s address to Washington, D.C. YSA

Modern Apostle’s Message: Question Your Guts Out 

 

Temple and Wearing the Garment

Mormon Temple Wedding: A Ceremony Centered in Christ

“What’s in a Name?” A Whole-lotta Faith in Jesus Christ

Mormon Underwear: A Constant Personal Reminder to Always Remember Jesus Christ and Keep His Commandments

MacGyver Groupie and Lengthy Leggings

Magic Mormon Underwear Gets a Mention at the Believing Brain Discussion 

 

God’s Law of Chastity

Mormons and Sex: Living the Law of Chastity

 

Work

Can’t You See That I’m the Answer to Your Prayers? 

Resume Envy 

The Mormon Social Network

 

Doubting and Wrestling

Doubt: Religion’s 4 Letter Word

Why I’m Not Disillusioned by Sketchy Scriptures

My Current Explanation of Life’s Purpose

 

Social Life in Washington, DC

How Do You Know When Something is Funny? The Book of Mormon the Musical

Duck Beach Is 

Mormon Parties: Halloween on Celebrity Island

 

Mission

I Volunteered for This???? Mormon Missions

My Shabby Apple Dress From Steve Isn’t Too Shabby, Mission Stuff Too 

 Sometimes a Swedish Girl Visits and We Laugh a Lot

 

Religion in Society, Religious Pluralism, Jeffress and Atheists–God bless

I’ve been corresponding with a man who came across this blog and found it beneficial, especially the posts about doubting.  I just emailed him a talk I gave in my singles’ ward about six months ago. Now I’m thinking, I’ll just share it more broadly. It’s mega long as far as posts go, but you can take a bathroom break midway.

It’s extremely personal, but faith is personal and I prefer to provide an example of someone working through the development of faith.

Welcome into my head and examples of my dating life.:) (As if you weren’t already there.)

Here are links to previous posts about doubting

Doubting and Wrestling

Doubt: Religion’s 4 Letter Word

Why I’m Not Disillusioned by Sketchy Scriptures

My Current Explanation of Life’s Purpose

I’m just copying and pasting what I wrote for myself to deliver it. I’ll go back and edit it soon. Well, maybe not soon. Maybe sometime.

Talk starts here:

My topic is “A Nation Where the Gospel Can Flourish”

The fullest blessings of the Atonement are only possible through priesthood power. The greatest potential God has in store for us lies in a covenant relationship with Him, which comes through priesthood.   I could speak about how the creation of the US Constitution fostered an environment that made possible the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and priesthood. If this was my direction, I’d be sure to note that America was only the cradle for this work. God’s purpose was to bring all the world access to the full blessings of the Atonement of His Son.

However, I’m going a different direction.  I wanted to share some ideas that you could put into practice when you leave Church today. We’re in this nation where the gospel is flourishing, now what? Mormons are starring in politics and on Broadway these days, so people want to know what they believe.

How do you talk about your faith with others who do not share your conviction in the Restoration?

You have GOT to figure out what you will say and how you’ll say it. How do you explain why some Christians don’t accept Latter-day Saints as Christians? How do you explain the garment? These are recurring questions and there are many more. You need to prepare and prepare well. I’m not going to talk about this either, but I invite you to take the approach of simply educating others about what Latter-day Saints actually believe. For ideas, you can go to my blog about LDS beliefs, mormoninsider.com. As you take this educating approach, you’ll help others overcome stereotypes and misconceptions and you’ll have more opportunity to share with those who are sincerely searching to know God.

So what AM I going to talk about? I’m going to talk about how I personally cultivate my faith, including how I respond to doubt. I believe as you think more deeply about why it is you believe, you will be better equipped to talk about it with others. I’ll also talk about how I seek to recognize the Spirit.  Because I think it may be a topic of interest to some of you, I’ve chosen dating examples to illustrate what I mean by these two topics.

When I saw the Tony performance of “Just Believe” from the Book of Mormon the Musical I was conflicted. It made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

In a June 27 CNN interview, Richard Bushman who is a Mormon Studies scholar at Claremont and the media’s go-to faithful Latter-day Saint spokesman said the musical is like “looking in a fun house mirror; the reflection is hilarious, but not really you.” I agree with him. What I found most disconcerting was how Elder Price resolves his crisis of faith. He rejects his concerns by repeatedly telling himself to “just believe.” From the song:

I allowed my faith to be shaken. What’s the matter with me? …I must be completely devout, I can’t have even one shred of doubt…I am a Mormon! And a Mormon just believes.

From the Bushman interview:

Specific doctrines aside, the lines that will most distress Mormons in the Price lyrics are the repeated phrase “just believe.”

Poor Elder Price has had his confidence shaken and doesn’t know how to react to his dawning disbelief.  All he can do is repeat over and over “just believe.”  To prove himself valiant, he must turn off the lights and shut the door on his doubts.

For me “just believing” meant turning the light on, not turning it off. (end of quote)

This was Elder Price’s style of responding to doubts. How do you? Do you have doubts? I do. When I hear people say they don’t have any doubts, I wonder if they’re thinking deeply about their faith.  I suspect they’re either not digging deeply enough or they’re at a Brother of Jared level of faith. Maybe there are other options.

Yet, God commanded us not to doubt, “Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not” (Doc & Cov 6:36), so what’s a girl to do?

Doubt and questioning are different.

Doubt means distrust. Questioning with faith means you trust God or have confidence in Him.

In doubting you reject God until He gives you an answer. By questioning with faith, you trust He will provide , according to His perfect judgment.

Moroni 9:21 “…whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him, and this promise is unto all…”

The most oft repeated invitation in the scriptures is “ask” and is almost always coupled with the promise “and ye shall receive.”

A faithful Latter-day Saint believes in personal revelation. Instead of not thinking of concerns by putting them out of your mind, I invite you to ask God about them, expecting He will help you understand.

One of the leading purposes of the Restoration was to restore an accurate knowledge of the nature of God, namely He is not an essence everywhere and nowhere without parts or passions, but He is a well involved Father who grieves over His children, as Moses chapter 7 shows us. When we better understand who God is, we can begin to trust Him or have faith in Him.

From the third Lecture on Faith speaking of God’s character:

“…unless [we understand the goodness of His character] the faith    necessary for salvation could not exist; for doubt would take the place of faith.”

So here’s the first dating example.

After conference, with its emphasis on marriage, I was frustrated.  I think this is part of Church culture and not necessarily how Heavenly Father wants us approach it, but there’s this sense that if you’re not married in the Church, it’s because you’re doing something wrong.  Once you fix it, then you’ll be able to fulfill the commandment of marriage. There’s another sense that if you’re not married it’s because you don’t value it or you are playing around or too focused on your career or whatever. (As if a promotion at work could kiss you goodnight.)

It turns out, in order for a marriage to happen there has to be two people where both are willing to develop a relationship and make this sacred commitment together. It’s a matter of agency.

After conference, I was reviewing my past dating experiences and wondering if I should have done something differently at one time or another. Because I had this agency focus and because I believe God wants us to gain experience, which often comes through struggles, I felt alone in the process. I began to be resentful toward the Lord that He left me alone when I’ve always done my best to stay close to Him.

During this time, I was praying to know what I should do with this message of marriage from conference.

Then my brother visited with his 3 yr old daughter.  As we were hanging out on the Mall after the Natural History museum, she was all over the place spinning around in circles and pulling up grass, hiding behind trees and my brother was letting her play.  When she went too far, he’d chase after her and bring her back close to him. She was then free to choose which activity she wanted to do.

I had the thought, which I believe was from the Spirit, that this how God cares for us.  He’s not far removed, leaving us alone in our struggles. He lets us choose what we want to do. We can play with the grass or spin around in circles. There are lots of options. But He’s always close by, watching attentively, as any good father would. When He sees we are heading in a direction that could be harmful for us, He comes after us.

It is part of the Restoration that God is our Father and is deeply involved in the lives of His children.  When Heavenly Father revealed Himself with Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, He in part was opening the dispensation to restore the knowledge about Him.

As this thought came to me and I made this connection, I realized my worry and frustration came from doubting God’s character. I did not trust that He was involved in my life and that He would have stopped me from making a poor choice, even though I have always sought the Spirit.

So I changed my mind to align with what the Spirit brought to my attention.  He’s well involved and watches attentively over me.

So how I deal with doubt, when I have them?

  1. I remember past witnesses of the Spirit. Such as the times I have felt and understood by the Spirit that my sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ’s Atonement. And the times I’ve felt that same Spirit through the pages of the Book of Mormon. I remember that Joseph Smith translated that Book of Mormon, which is evidence he was a prophet. And I remember times when the Spirit has witness to me the reality of God as my Father.
  2. I take this knowledge and put it into practice with faith. In other words I make the decision to trust God.
  3.  I ask for more knowledge by the Spirit with faith.

I invite you to address your doubts with this process.

I must add that after I had this change of mind, which is also known as repentance, I remembered an LDS friend of mine who I greatly admire once told me about a revelation she received. This was when she was single, she’s eternally married now. It was after she diligently questioned with faith to receive a time frame of when she would marry. Would it be sooner or more like when she was 40 or 50 or even in the next life? She’s fantastic, and I’d say, a hard woman to match. I think she intimidated a lot of men. As she told me about it, I recognized that this personal revelation was how she could have such peace and confidence about marriage and dating, even in a culture that seems hyper occupied with it.  She could even have this peace when she didn’t have any prospects.

I believed that God would do for me what He had done for her. He’s no respecter of persons. I started questioning with faith for myself on the same topic.

My question was different than hers and I received my own answer.

I testify, as I changed my mind from doubting the Lord, to trusting Him asking Him with faith, I received my own revelation on the topic, personalized for me. Responding to doubt with this approach will give you confidence to move forward with faith. God wants to provide this kind of communication to you, so your faith could increase. And this way, you can break up without going to pieces.  In addition to being our well involved Heavenly Father, He is able to arrange introductions between people who will use their agency to choose each other.

I invite you to respond to doubt by directing your mind to the true nature of God and asking Him in faith what you should do to receive the desires of your heart.

Further, you have to be willing to act. You can’t expect this kind of revelation and help if you want God to do your work for you. As Elder Bednar said in his morningside to us:

Do not pray as objects,

I’m still primed up from the Mormons-aren’t-Christians claims coming from Pastor Robert Jeffress’ and those who share his views of Christianity. My post Jeffress: Cult—any religious group not Evangelical Christian (Catholics get a backhanded pass) directly responds to his “cult” and “non-Christian” label for people in the Latter-day Saint faith community.

Hence my creation of the page “I Believe in Christ“ found at the top right of this website. There, I set out to generate a summary of my reliance on the merits of Jesus Christ, but it ran way too long. Instead, I’m going to make that page a list of summaries with links to posts I write directly about who I believe Jesus Christ is and what I believe He has done for me and for mankind. These will provide snapshots into my Christianity. I won’t be able to communicate it in full and it will take some time to develop out, but I invite you to follow the process.

This is the first post for the “I Believe in Christ” summary page.

Christ Lived the Holocaust, Literally

I believe that during His Atonement for mankind, Christ lived the experiences of those who both inflicted and endured the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Let me explain.

Unique to Latter-day Saint belief is that Christ not only suffered for the sins of the world, but during His Atonement He experienced everything that came into the world as a result of the Fall of Adam. It is this way He overcomes the fallen world.

Somehow, in some way, in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, He experienced the tragedies of every person who has lived and will ever live. This includes pains, sicknesses, fears, anxieties, desperation, despondency, bereavement, loneliness—everything—that happens, even most often by no fault of the griever.

It is no wonder that He bled at every pore.  Luke described Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Why? He lived it so He can comfort people who seek His comfort and meet the demands of justice while extending mercy.  This way He is empathetic, not just sympathetic.

An ancient American prophet, Alma, expanded the Latter-day Saint understanding of the Atonement beyond suffering for sin only with these words:

And [Jesus] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people…and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).

To my mind, this personalizes the Atonement for me beyond just knowing Christ died for my sins. He knows my heartaches because He lived them that He may know first hand how to comfort me if I seek it.  (Then I feel it in my heart when I am comforted by His power.)

Humans are capable of tremendous kindness, but also capable of inexcusable horror.

People of the earth throughout its history have experienced soul wrenching pain. Humans are capable of tremendous kindness, but are also capable of inexcusable horror.

I was in high school when I began to understand, even to a limited degree, the degree and amount of terror throughout the earth’s history. Christ lived each individual person’s pains and sorrows during His Atonement. The Holocaust is especially instructive for me. There are no words to explain what the Nazi Party under Hitler’s lead committed. Terrible events pepper the earth’s timeline, but the Holocaust is what fuels my imagination of the Savior’s suffering for mankind.

This scene from the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List depicts the Cracow Ghetto Massacre. The Nazis take a small portion of the ghetto’s population for internment in a labor camp and murder the rest. (Warning: this is really graphic, though I did choose a milder scene from the movie that would still show the travesties of the genocide.)

I believe that during the Atonement, Christ experienced the atrocity each person lived that day and night. During the offering of Himself as a sacrifice, He lived the fear and horror that every individual on the earth has ever felt. The Holocaust, namely the events at Cracow in this instance, was only a small portion of His suffering.

I imagine the victims’ fear, anxiety, uncertainty and helplessness by the hands of the Nazis who dehumanized the Jews to vermin. But it’s not just in my imagination. It was real. Christ living it for each individual person was also real. By suffering these pains and horrors He offers comfort and also is able to overcome the fallen world.

I believe that Christ both lived victims’ atrocities that night and also bore the sins of the inflictors.

Christ, the Son of God, was sinless and guiltless. His whole mortal life, He never took a wrong step, not even a minor one. I cringe at thinking He bore the guilt of what the Nazi soldiers did that night.

This scene from the film (Warning: graphic language and behavior ensues) continues the ghetto’s liquidation. The soldiers hunt hiding people and murder them without conscience.

It shows how bad the Nazis were. It seems like fiction, only it was real.

It grieves me to think that Christ was stained with the sins of these murderers. But He also was stained with my own missteps. Learning of Him changes my heart.  Learning of Him diminishes my desire to sin. Learning of Him increases my willingness to receive a greater part of His Atonement.

He has done for me and for mankind more than I can understand. From what I do understand, (by the Holy Ghost through scripture study and prayer) it leads me to faithfulness to Him.

 

(Latter-day Saint media standards can be found here. I watch fewer and fewer movies and TV shows these days because they often promote a standard of morality that grinds against how I choose to live my life in light of my knowledge of God. However, I do watch movies and read books that portray actual historical events, even if they are graphic and disturbing.)

This week, I saw the recently created Mormon.org video of my friend, Sheryl. She’s a BYU alum and a Teach for America rock star working to save students’ futures in the otherwise abysmal  D.C. public school system.  You can read her Mormon.org profile here.

Sheryl is so great. I almost always feel like a million bucks when I’m in her presence. Some people just carry a contagious radiance and optimism. She’s one of them.

The opening part of the video caused me to pause.

Sheryl speaking:

“When people find out that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they say, “What’s that?”

“I say, I’m a Mormon.”

“They’re like, no, no way, I’ve never met a black Mormon.”

“Then I’m like, yeah, we exist.”

At first it made me laugh. I relish in the moment when stereotypes of any kind shift, especially about people of my faith.

But then it caused me reflection.

In American history public high school classes, we learn about the Civil Rights movement. We learn of Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience method and his mobilization of thousands of Americans to fight for the security of their inherent rights.

It’s an amazing and moving story, but for my generation and younger, it’s history. At least for me as a white kid, it was only a history lesson; a thing of the past.

Apart from being a religious minority growing up in Florida, I don’t know what it feels like to be a minority.

This reminds me of my middle and high school friend, Tiffany ,whose sister used to tease her by calling her “Dot.” Why?  Because she chose extracurricular activities that only white kids chose.  I mean, you couldn’t really get whiter than FFA.  (I come from a  line of Florida landholders, farmers and ranchers.)  She and I both competed in the organizations’ parliamentary procedure forums. I didn’t think of her as my “black friend.” I just thought of her as my friend.

I remember when I was a volleyball player at Florida State College of Jacksonville our setter, an extremely talented Brazilian named Lucy, was being recruited by leading Mississippi Division I schools.  Our African American teammate told her that she personally wouldn’t go to Mississippi because of its racism. When Lucy told me this, I told her I wouldn’t worry about that.  I’ll never forget her response, “That’s easy for you to say, you’re white!

(I use the term African American to denote a relationship to a community.  My friends who I call “black” at different times have explained to me that they are separate from this subculture.)

I also remember being surprised more recently when my dear Nigerian friend talked about his cognizance of the lack of color among his colleagues at his prominent investment banking company.  He said the only other black person he’s seen with the company is the janitor.

That’s not something I would have noticed, but then again, I’m white.

I’m not color blind as Justice John Marshall Harlan in his famous Plessy v. Ferguson dissent argued the Constitution to be. It’s not like I can’t tell that my Nigerian friend is black. Claiming I’m blind to this would be like me saying I’m blind to the fact he’s attractive. I’m definitely not blind.

Believe me with this one.

 

I think for many white people of my generation, awareness of race is more equivalent to hair color or identification with a certain cultural heritage and less similar to the views of the racially segregated generations preceding us who ranked people’s worth according to the color of their skin.

This is success!  It’s a step in a direction that pleases God.  However, though we’ve moved in this good direction, it doesn’t mean we should dismiss matters of race as inconsequential.

It still matters, but now it matters for different reasons.

In my mind, matters of race now have more to do with access to educational opportunities that enable upward movement in society than it does with people ranking others into social classes by color.  My Nigerian friend is brilliant and has a brilliant mother who brought him to the States when he was 6 to create a better life for him. She pushed him in his school accomplishments .  Well educated herself, she was able to help him with his homework. Because of this, he went  to a good college and then to a prestigious law school, which opened the door to his now company.  The janitor at his work likely didn’t have such educational support. Sheryl mentioned in her video that it matters her students are minorities because the statistics show they are more likely to drop out of school than to go to college. Let’s not pretend like the racial segregation of preceding generations and with it the economic suppression and sub par education doesn’t now affect minorities.

Though educational inequalities definitely concern me, my previously provided examples show me that even if social mobility isn’t a barrier,  it’s not easy being a minority in social settings when you’re the only member of the minority group present.

I shouldn’t be blind to this challenge, especially when I care about about my friends.

Blacks Exist in the Church

All this was lead up to describe a bit of the historical landscape of race in the Church and its current state, but I have got to go to sleep.  I will continue this soon.

 

Are you into:

books?

textbooks?

nookbooks?

newsstands?

toys & games?

DVDs?

Music?

Then you would benefit from a Barnes and Noble giftcard.

From now to the end of March, three different people who are willing to 1) share at least 5 different Mormon Inisder posts and who 2) provide insightful comments that generate engaging discussion on one or more of the posts on the Mormon Inside will receive one of three $10 gift cards to Barnes and Noble.

I’m the judge and jury with this one.

You are welcome to remain anonymous in your posts, but you will need to provide an email address when you comment so I can contact you and inform you of your victory.

I’ll email you the giftcard code for your online use.