Posts Tagged ‘“Mormon Church”’

Last week I received an email from Pandora with a summary report of how many thumbs up I gave on a particular radio station. It made me think of men.


Yes, it made me think of men, who are more analytically on my mind because I’m reading the book Wife for Life. It’s written by a woman I knew as a teenager. She was a youth leader at the stake level, meaning she ministered to the young women in several wards (congregations). I only knew her from a distance, but I always admired her. Even at 14, I recognized that she was someone who expressed love easily and it made me want to be that way. My mission president’s wife also had that quality. Because of that influence, I started to try to be more expressive and open about sharing love. It prepared my heart to receive a greater portion of the Holy Ghost and to feel more of the love of God. In turn, I was better able to share God’s love with others because I felt it myself.

We often never know the impact we can have on others just by being the best versions of ourselves. God changes us into that best version when we turn our heart over to Him.

My brother encouraged me to read Wife for Life. He said Ramona captured what motivated men, which was really fascinating to me because I feel like I don’t get men. I feel like I get women. In the past eight years I’ve been in five Relief Society presidencies (two at BYU and three in DC), so I’ve been in a lot of circumstances counseling individually with women about their lives, seeking inspiration about lesson topics and supporting women as they make significant life choices. The last two years especially during my lunch hour, my commute or lying awake in bed I would ponder the lives of individual women in my circle. Connecting with women and understanding where they’re coming from feels so natural to me.

With men, I’m very often lost.  I feel like after much explaining I’ve come to understand a few individual men, but I’m very often confused about how some really good men I know can be so good at life and seem to be so bad at relationships. Now that I think of it, there have been two men, my brother being one of them, who I appreciate how they think/thought about relationships. Both of them have been married, so that came after experience with women. It’s frustrating. Though Ramona Zabriskie argues in her book the woman has the power to bring happiness in a marriage, in my view, the man holds the power to getting into a committed relationship.    I guess both men and women need each other.:)

My home teacher (man assigned to visit the women in my house once a month to be available to serve when needed) told me that men are like dogs. You have to reward them with validation for good behavior. I appreciated his effort to be helpful, but I didn’t care for the analogy. I don’t want a dog, I want a man. And I thought it was demeaning to think of men in terms of dogs, especially good men. I told him I was really good at giving validation. (It comes naturally for a nurturing personality and serving for so long in a Relief Society capacity, I am well practiced, not to mention experienced with my own personal relationships.)

That’s why when I received the Pandora email, I thought of men. The summary of how many thumbs up I gave suited the dating scenario better in my mind. With Pandora, I choose my own station. I like all the songs on the station. Some of them I like more than others. When I give a thumbs up, it plays more of the music I like. I hardly ever give a thumbs down because I usually like all the music on the station. Even if I’ve previously given a thumbs up for a song, I’ll do it again because I’m pretty consistent. I think working with people, especially men in a dating scenario, is very similar. If I’m dating him, I already like what’s playing on the station. Some things I like more than others. If you encourage what you like, you get more of it. :)

Crazy Ladies

Back to the book Wife for Life. I’ve enjoyed reading it, but felt like much of it was more of a reminder of things I already believed. I’ve long thought that a woman’s self esteem has a huge factor in her relationships. It’s difficult to give and receive love if a woman doesn’t feel worthy of it. I’ve also long believed that I’m responsible to regulate my own emotions and usually as the woman is happy and satisfied, the home is peaceful. It’s my responsibility to work to be content.

But then I came to the section on the Crazy Ladies, chapter 9. This section gave me a brand new idea to explore about my emotional literacy.

Before reading this section I would have said I was a pretty good potential partner. I’m rationally inclined. I listen to understand. I respect individuality. I’m quite resilient. I have a deep well of patience when working with people. I’m rarely critical and I often check my ego. I’m open, affectionate, nurturing and usually content.

But oh man, have I been a Crazy Lady.  That’s so humbling to realize.

After a chapter about what husbands fear, she writes about the Crazy Ladies who emerge when “it feels like we cannot give another ounce, trust another inch, or be brave another day, in other words depleted…overwhelmed…stressed.”  The list is written from the husband’s point of view. The Crazy Lady comes out when a woman feels she’s not receiving the validation she needs and acts on her fears. She lists several Crazy Ladies on pages 85-89.  I felt like only the last one applied to me.

Ashamalee- “Ashamalee sometimes acts on her fear of disappointment, which triggers her husband’s fear of not measuring up. What she ends up communicating is: You are disappointing. You are inadequate. You are ridiculous.”

Stupidia-”Stupidia sometimes acts on her fear of being exploited, which stirs up her husband’s fear of becoming subservient and losing his independence. What she ends up communicating is: You are inept. You are foolish. You are obtuse.”

Irreleva-”Irreleva sometimes acts on her fear of losing her identity or of exploitation, which ignites her husband’s fear of uselessness. What she ends up communicating is: You are boring. You are useless.”

Betraya-”Betraya sometimes acts on her fear of inadequacy, exposure, intimacy, or of getting hurt, which stirs up her husband’s fear of neglect or loneliness. What she ends up communicating is: You are not as good as…or as important as…or as fascinating as…” 

Depressa“Depressa sometimes acts on her fear of abandonment, loss, or disappointment, which fans her husband’s fear of being overwhelmed by emotional demands. What she ends up communicating is: You don’t meet my needs. You don’t care enough…”

For each one she lists possible behaviors. I saw I had done some of Depressa before, but it didn’t really hit me until her personal example for Depressa. She described how she accompanied her husband on a European business trip. In Munich, all of his appointments fell through and because hotel arrangements had already been made, they were in the city for 5 days before needing to go to Stockholm. She was so excited! Five whole romantic days with her husband! But he didn’t share her excitement, “He just sat there poking his fish with a fork. ‘I was looking forward to working this week,’ he said.”  She was upset, as I imagine I would be too. What? I’d be hurt he’d rather work when he had the opportunity of 5 whole free European days with just me.

Ramona writes:

 Now, if I’d been in better form that day, I would have gently sat back down and taken a minute to think about what he meant in the context of the male drive to achieve and the male fear of uselessness behind it. I would have reached for his hand and said something sympathetic. I would have given him an hour or two (or however long it took) to process his disappointment without forcing him to justify it to me, without trying to fix it for him, and without trying to jolly him out of his gloom with cheerfulness. I would have just let him be. I would have graciously let him retreat into his mental cave, knowing he would come out of it all the sooner, taut and strong and ready to spring into romance. (p. 90)

But she didn’t. She was upset and therefore they both became upset. It took a while to recover. Talk about wasted time on their newly obtained vacation.

She writes: “Thankfully, Depressa rarely makes an appearance these days, but I still have to stay on my toes to keep her at bay.”

This recalls a few instances in my own life that make me cringe. I remember telling a roommate in one particular case, “I’m mad if he talks to me and I’m mad if doesn’t talk to me. Either way, I’m mad.”  I knew at the time what I really wanted was his validation and I resented the situation that prevented it. Even knowing that, I didn’t behave at my best form. It looks like I’m really good at relationships with women and friends; good at life, but not always great at romantic relationships. I’m so glad that God helps us change. The Spirit has often corrected me on things I should change and He’s softened the hearts of others to whom I needed to apologize when I’ve asked Him to precede me. I’m glad Ramona has taught me here so I can work on changing.  With some practice, I can stay on my toes, too.

Hermoine’s Crazy Lady

This section of Wife for Life reminded me of a scene in Harry Potter.  Harry, Ron and Hermoine have left Hogwarts in search of horcruxes to destroy. They don’t know where the horcruxes are or what exactly to look for. A horcrux could be any discarded object. They’ve been camping in the woods avoiding snatchers, constantly stressed about the impossible task before them.  Ron and Harry get in a fight and Ron leaves. In Ron’s defense, the dark magic in the horcrux they switch off wearing around their necks affected him.

On his return, Hermoine’s Crazy Lady comes out.  I totally get Hermoine’s reaction here. Of course she’s glad he’s back, but she’s hurt and angry that he left, especially when she needed him so much. She needs him to validate her feelings, assure her he regrets leaving and it won’t happen again and give her time to get over it. I’ve never behaved like Hermoine in this scene, but I’ve also never been abandoned by a boyfriend while trying to defeat the most evil wizard the world has ever known.  Good thing Crazy Lady didn’t have her wand.

Watch Ron’s face. Poor guy. If only he knew why Crazy Lady was coming out, he wouldn’t be so blindsided.

For some reason, I can’t get it to embed, but here’s the link.

Maybe if both men and women know why the Crazy Lady comes out, they can both handle well putting her back in her cage. :)

One could hope.

I love how much of Ramona is in her book. I love learning from her, so I can change and hopefully one day have a marriage like hers.


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Hey there! I’m not really back to blogging, but the last month or so I’ve had two posts swimming in my head. I have almost a day on a plane and bus, so I have a little time. One post would include reflections of my most recent stint as Relief Society president in my singles ward. I was recently “released” from the position as we call it.  In this same post I want to write about an evening I attended addressing surveys of Church members experiencing faith crisis. The New York Times just published a piece on the man who prompted the survey and who I heard speak. See that article at “Some Members Search the Web and Find Doubt.” I appreciated journalist McKay Coppins’  response “Why the Internet Hasn’t Shattered My Mormon Faith.”  I’d like to write about my own sense of betrayal as I learned more about Church history and how I navigated through it. Make that how I’m navigating through it.

The other is this post about dating, prayer and choices. I’ve gone back and forth with myself about doing it. Then I re-read a few of my posts about dating, which made me smile because I forgot about them and realized this one fits right in. It makes for an interesting read and I hope that as I’m real, it can help others see how faith works in daily life—not just idealized in disconnected church sermons.

Here’s the point: Committed love is not inevitable. It comes by a series of choices to get there and then a series of choices to remain there. God helps us along the way if we ask. We have to ask because He works according to our faith and asking prepares us to receive what He will give.

(If this gets too long for you, just skip to the last section about prayer. That’s the best part of this post.)

“Web of Contingency”

It seems inevitable that my parents ended up together. I mean, I can’t imagine life without my family, or my mortal existence for that matter! Of course it was going to work out between them.  But that sense of inevitability only comes with hindsight. Of course Americans would win their independence. Of course American slavery would become illegal. Of course the Mormon pioneers would settle the Salt Lake valley.  Of course women would obtain the vote.  Of course the Nazis wouldn’t win the war. There’s a sense of inevitability that comes with looking backwards into the past. But these events brought with them great uncertainty and struggle.  So it is with marriage. Looking back on it for couples who are way passed the uncertainty and struggle of the decision process makes it all seem inevitable that they’d end up together.

But it wasn’t.

I like to think of achieving marriage in terms of how David Hackett Fischer describes the crossing of the Delaware River during the American War of Independence in his book Washington’s Crossing. When you read the words “this book,” think “marriage” and you’ll catch my drift.

We have seen how it happened: not in a single event, or even a chain of events, but in a great web of contingency. This book is mainly about contingency, in the sense of people making choices, and choices making a difference in the world. It is not primarily a story of accidents, though there were many along the way. It is not about what might have been, though that question is always in the background. This is a story of real choices that living people actually made. To study an event in these terms is to discover a dense web of contingency, in which many people made choices within a structure of relationships. (364)

Mormons heavily emphasize the concept of free will. God created us before we came to earth, the Mormon narrative begins, and we came into the world to choose God and gain experience. We grow into obtaining our eternal potential as we receive Christ’s Atonement and absorb His power to make us holy.

I once heard a bubbly Church speaker say that God has a path for each of us, we just have to discover it and follow it. I didn’t think that exactly aligned with how Mormons understand the purpose of life. It’s more like God has His gospel path for everyone and Christ is the gatekeeper. But, once on that path and received Christ, there are thousands upon millions of good paths we can choose while still on that gospel path.  What job you end up in, where you’ll live and even what partner you end up with isn’t predetermined. He can see some are better for us than others and will guide us toward those if we ask. He wants us to develop our ability to make good choices. We counsel with Him about possible paths on the gospel path while He gives us feedback from His omniscient perspective. “He approves more than He assigns” to quote a popular Mormon youth speaker.

Since we’re all making choices, it creates a “dense web of contingency” and it exists within a “structure of relationships.”

This means that Mormons don’t believe in predestined soul mates. But they do believe that once you choose a spouse, that person becomes your soul mate.

The Intersection of the Venn Diagram 

I think of potential partners in terms of a Venn diagram. One circle includes the men I could match up with. The other circle comprises those who could want to be with me. There have been men in my life with whom I wanted a deeper relationship, but they didn’t want it with me. Then there have been some men who were interested in a deeper relationship with me and I wasn’t interested. The great potential for a partnership lies in mutual interest—the intersection of the Venn diagram.

There’s not just one person in the intersection who is the destined one. Lots are possible, though the circle is not so big to include everyone who is single. Some people have large intersections and others small, but I believe there are sufficient amounts of possibilities for most everyone. Progressing to marriage happens through a series of choices within the intersection.

God works according to the faith we offer Him. If we ask Him for help in finding someone in the intersection, He will. Then once you’ve found someone in the intersection, He can advise you along the way if you ask. He cares about our lives and that includes our relationships.

God’s will, your will or both? Being willful? 

I think of God’s will in terms of my relationship with my Dad. It’s his will for me to be faithful to my knowledge of the gospel. He wants me to grow up and be a self sufficient adult who maintains a relationship with Him and still relies on Him for love and support. I think people often think of God’s will in very narrow terms, seeking to know the one thing they’re destined to be so they can be it.  My Dad wants me to be successful and there are lots of ways to be successful while still living according to my knowledge of the restored gospel. I believe God’s will is similar. The key is counseling with Him along the way so we can hear His feedback on our choices. God wants us to align our will with His. His will looks more like a good father than a dictator.

Then there’s being willful, meaning you make yourself unavailable to His Spirit and do whatever you want because it’s what you want.  Are you willful?

Women and Power in Dating

It’s hard to know who is actually in the intersection. That takes action and a willingness to be rejected. In other words, you gotta try.

I’m currently not sure how much true power Mormon women have in the dating process, beyond the power of prayer, which I’ll get to. I believe I have power over my own choices, but I’ve found relationships only progress if the man is actively moving it forward and I’m accepting or declining the forward movement.  What am I supposed to do then, just wait around for someone to pick me?  That seems so paternalistic. I do believe women  have power to encourage and create opportunities and show interest.

For example, there was one particular guy I thought was so amazing. He was deeply reflective and incredibly smart, polite, kind and opinionated . He was spiritual in a faithful, yet sometimes unconventional way (as I view myself to be).  But I didn’t know all those things at first. I just knew he was good looking. He started talking to me at our ward retreat. After a while they announced the last BYU/Utah football game was up. It was quite the feat to get the satellite signal to function while in the mountains near Camp David. To receive signal, it had to be set up on the lawn, so viewers grabbed chairs to relocate into the cold night air to see the large projector screen. I invited him to join me to watch, which he did. It was very cozy as we shared my blanket and continued talking while half watching the game. He had his arm around me. Or was that just his arm on my chair? I wasn’t sure. I think it was around me. We’d talk at subsequent Church activities and I invited him over a few times, but it never went much beyond that. Looks like he was in my circle, but I wasn’t in his. It’s too bad because he was so great, but at least I was trying—and doing what I could see was in my power.  You gotta try. Committed love isn’t inevitable. It comes about through the struggle of our choices.

Then there was another man. We were no longer dating because of his choice, but he’d left it open. And I didn’t want it closed. We ran into each other at a party and there was no way I was going to talk to him. I wasn’t over him, but that was deliberate. I could have gotten over it for good if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. I figured I would when I had to, if I had to. He came up to me, making it a point to touch me, bringing up things we had done together and updating me on his life.  He seemed different and I hoped that it could be different. At that point in my life I’d developed the belief that if a man likes you, he’ll do something about it and I’d already made enough of a fool of myself over this guy that if he did want to ask me out, he’d do something about it. I hoped he would for a while, but he never did and I tried to forget about it and sort of did. Then, months later I could bring a guest to an annual Christmas meeting for Temple workers in the upper room of the Washington, D.C. Temple. I’d attended this meeting before. It’s a moving experience. Everyone in attendance wears their Temple whites and the Spirit is very strong as faithful Temple workers sing gospel  hymns and listen to sermons on the role of the Savior. I thought through people I could invite and really wanted him to join me. I decided and then undecided to ask him for about a week and finally landed on the go for it side. I stared at my phone for about 15 minutes before actually doing it. My voice was a tinsy bit shaky as I asked. The answer was no  (well, it was “not now” which is neither here nor there at this point), but it was worth it to me to try. You gotta try.

More recently I was hanging out with a particular man, but I would have rather been on a date with him (see the difference between dating and hanging out at “Stop Hanging Out with Women and Start Dating Them” on the Art of Manliness and “Dating Versus Hanging Out” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks). We’d been on a date before. He’s really smart with lots of initiative and passion and he likes to hear my perspective on ideas he’s exploring. Our bishop had recently done the lesson on dating/marriage, which happens about twice a year or so in singles wards and we were talking about it. (That lesson happens apart from the weekly Relationships Sunday School class. Yeah that’s a thing.)  I told him if I were a (Mormon) man, I’d be very active at dating. I’d ask women out until I found someone I liked and then pursue a relationship with her. If it didn’t work out, I’d move on and keep moving until it works out. I told him I envied the Mormon man’s prerogative in the dating scenario. It’s true that other cultures have different norms, so our model doesn’t have to be this way. However, I believe that culture influences emotions and to be countercultural in this instance doesn’t seem to work out for too many women. Too bad our dating norms are strongly in the favor of the man. He said that we probably had different perspectives on how to be active about it and continued with saying, “But, there’s no better way to get Mormon women to respect you, than to ask women on dates.”  That made me laugh and I smiled in agreement. There are as many perspectives on dating as there are people who want to date. You gotta keep trying until it works. There are enough people, I believe, in each person’s intersection that it can eventually work out, but you gotta try. Committed love isn’t inevitable. It comes about through the struggle of our choices.

Someone’s Choice Does Not Change Your Worth

When I read again my post “God Knows That Dating is Tough,”  I remembered this important point. The way others treat us often has a direct influence over our self esteem. It’s hard to still feel good about yourself when you’ve decided to let someone in and they decide they don’t want to be there. Self-esteem is how we view ourselves, but our worth is eternally constant. No matter what others choose, how God feels about us never changes. Each of Heavenly Father’s children was worth the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. That’s priceless.

The Lord said it this way in a modern revelation:

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” Doctrine & Covenants 18:10 

Just because someone isn’t in your intersection or is in your intersection and chooses someone else, it doesn’t mean you don’t have tremendous worth.

Asking God to Help with Dating

Now to what inspired this post in the first place. A few years ago, the Prophet spoke on marriage  in the priesthood session of general conference and this talk became a recurring theme in my singles ward. In the talk, he expressed concern about single Latter-day Saints hanging out in large groups and not going about purposefully searching for a spouse. I got sick of hearing about it because I didn’t think this applied to me, but I didn’t want to feel like the Prophet’s counsel didn’t apply to me. I prayed sincerely to know what I should do about dating. I really wanted to know if I would never get married so I could grieve the loss of the dream and quit waiting around for something to happen that wouldn’t and move on with my life. After lots of work in the form of prayer and humbling myself, I got an answer to “be patient and trust me.” I was happy to receive a clear answer, but also felt like He wasn’t answering me as I asked. Hello?! Does being patient and trusting mean I should give up on this marriage hope or not? But pursuing that felt bratty. I decided to let that go and just pray for help to be patient and trust. I’ve been consistent with that since, though many mornings and nights it was more to just check the box (hey, praying for the same thing for years can lead to your fervency to wane). God did bless me with the patience and trust for which I asked. Gratefully, after a while I lost my angst about dating.

But, a few months ago things happened that motivated me to revisit the “What should I do about dating?” question.

I couldn’t sleep because I was replaying old tapes in my mind and it was seriously upsetting me. After earnestly praying what I should do about the dating thing, I felt better and went to sleep. The next day during my scripture study on the Metro a very clear answer came into my mind to “pray he’ll have the courage to pursue me.” This made sense to me and I started meaningfully including it in my prayers with faith. The next day someone I had previously dated emailed me and wanted to talk. I didn’t think much of it. Essentially the last time we talked apart from in-the-hall-at-Church-chit-chat was a train wreck. I felt like he was making choices based on assumptions about me without just asking me in the first place. When I said I just wanted someone who wanted to be with me and then you decide the life details after that, I didn’t take well to his response.  Now he was looking for some feedback. Over the years at various times, I’ve sought feedback from men I’d dated after time passed and we were on friendly terms. I was looking for info to help me change for the better. It was never a bad experience. He appeared to be doing the same. Because he wasn’t asking me out, I didn’t feel the need to make it a priority. About a month passed before we ended up chatting and then only briefly.  At the close, I wished him luck.

A few weeks later he asked to meet again. This time it was different. He said essentially since we had that terrible ending (my words), which was about six months previous, he’s been thinking of me and more generally of what he should do about dating. He’d received some impressions from the Spirit and subsequently had a “paradigm shift.”

Then he went on.

Then I responded.

Who knows what will happen with this. Committed love isn’t inevitable, it comes about through the struggle of choices. But here’s some thoughts that come to me about it from the benefit of hindsight:

His humility was absolutely disarming to me.

I had nothing but respect for him for the tremendous courage it required to tell me what he did.

Because of the humble confidence he carried by acting on what the Spirit inspired him to do, I changed from hardly caring to see him to finding him very attractive. Worth noting, right?  :)

I’m also humbled about the timing. He’d been thinking about it for months and right after I prayed with faith and the Spirit gave me to “pray that he would have the courage to pursue me” he contacted me.  1. Cool he’s so responsive to the Spirit and 2. Cool the Lord gave me specifically what to exercise faith about.

I believe others would have similar experiences through acting on answers to prayer and trusting God.

You’re almost to the end of this mega-long post!

I learned many, many things this round as a Relief Society president. The most valued thing I learned was a re-learning. It is how to exercise faith in prayer, receive an answer, recognize the answer and to act upon it.

Most everyone dreams of committed love.  If you involve God in the process, I believe He can help guide you to someone in your intersection. Then you have to continue to make choices. Ask Him for help in those moments too.

God cares, even about dating which can seem silly, but actually has consequences that reach into forever.

May you reach out to Him as He reaches for you, so your forever can be eternally learning the true meaning of the commitment of love.

Related posts:

Can’t you see the I’M the answer to your prayers? 

Mormon Apostle: Question Your Guts Out 

God Knows Dating is Tough 



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Thanks so much for reading this blog.

I appreciate that someone actually reads it! I started this venture a few years ago. For a while there it was a billboard in the desert. Then BAM! The Mormon Moment happened and there was much more to say. Er, write. And lots more interested people. I’ve been trying to get it to be a billboard in the city. Right now it’s hanging out somewhere in the suburbs.

But, I’m about to stall its momentum.

You see, blogging is a lot of work. You have to think up stuff and then compose that stuff into some readable form. Some people can crank out substantial content like it’s no big deal. Good for them. It takes me a bit.

When I started this project I was working full time and doing my Mormon thing. Since then, I added evening grad school to my full time job and was called as one of the lay ministers for the women in my congregation (ward), the Relief Society president. Depending on the week, I spend about 10-15 hrs fulfilling this responsibility.   Full time work plus grad school was demanding, but doable. Adding in being RS pres makes it very difficult. As I rely on the Lord, I feel Him enabling me to do what I need to do. That’s His grace for you.

This talk by a modern Apostle has helped me tremendously:  “Real-Life Education.”  Here Elder Eyring describes his experience in his demanding grad program. It was Harvard, but he doesn’t name it. At this stretching time, he was called as a branch president, which is an even more time intensive calling than I have. He felt disadvantaged because his classmates were studying while he was serving people in the Church. As he put the Lord first, he was able to both serve Him and be successful in his program.

As I’ve done my best to set my heart first on serving the Lord, I have felt similarly blessed.

Need help being successful? Try it. What He’s done for Elder Eyring and for me, He’ll do for you. He’s no respecter of persons. He works according to your faith. If you offer it, He’ll work a miracle with it.

So why a blogging break?

I need the brain space. I’m starting the thesis phase of my master’s, which is very demanding. When I’m blogging, I usually think about various ideas for a while and then finally carve out time to compose one of them. I need to sweep out my brain to make space for thoughts about religious liberty in Early America, not about how to communicate a modern Mormon worldview online. Plus, for revelation to happen, I have to give it brain space. Revelation is when God speaks to my mind and my heart by the Holy Ghost (Doc & Cov 8:2-3). It’s a process and God requires that I offer faith by thinking and praying about what I want help with before I receive His communication (Doc & Cov 9:7-8).

It was this week that I realized I needed to take a break. One of my counselors in my Relief Society presidency is moving to Manhattan for a job, so I need to pursue inspiration on who should take on her role when she leaves. This last week, I’ve been thinking about how to write about Mormon views on sexuality.  I haven’t given the new counselor question the thought that would prompt revelation.  I’ve also spent some more time than usual this week doing Relief Society work and I didn’t get to work on my thesis at all. It was then I decided I wanted to table this for a while. I’m just clearing out some brain space.

I have two semesters to finish my thesis. Don’t worry, it will go by so quickly, you will hardly miss me.

Please don’t cry. That could be bad for your computer. Oh come on, dry those tears. There, there. It will be okay.

I was percolating several ideas for posts that I never wrote.

  • I never composed a post about Mormon views on sexuality. I was especially considering this the last two weeks. It was entitled “Sex, Pork, and Porn.” It was going to be a good one, but time consuming to do. I was going to do it this last weekend, but didn’t get to it.
  • I also never wrote about how and why Mormons abstain from alcohol and how I navigate that as a professional in Washington when it’s generally part of building rapport.
  • I never wrote about American Exceptionalism in Mormon thought in the early Church and the form it has taken in the present.  I believe this to be different from the American Exceptionalism of the Republican party.
  • I never wrote part 2 of this post about Black Mormons. A post related to this, but not necessarily a part 2 can be found here. It discusses the  New York Times op ed by John Turner. Also, this related HuffPo article on the topic is very good.
  • Lastly, I wanted to write about  the contraception requirement in the HHS mandate as an affront to religious liberty. Many in the media represent opposition to this requirement as men making decisions about women’s bodies or a fear  of an increase in female promiscuity. Stephen Colbert represents this view here. The beef is not that contraception, including abortion, is already readily available to women, but that it’s a violation of conscience to require Catholic employers to provide contraception, abortion and sterilization benefits to employees when it has long been in their faith tradition to reject it.  It’s also an affront to require tax payers to fund these procedures when it violates their conscience. I share the Becket Fund’s view on this.

I wish I could have cranked those out. Maybe I’ll hit those first when I return.  Also, when I return, I’ll have a lot to say about religious liberty since I’ll be thinking, researching and writing about it for the next six months.  I’m considering doing some vlogs where I give brief talks on religious liberty. I’ll revisit that idea later.

I’ll still be reading my daily Google news alert for “Mormon” and tweeting articles worth reading. You can check that out at my Twitter account.  Hopefully things will die down after this election. *fingers crossed*

This really isn’t goodbye. It’s until next time. So, until next time be good. Stay out of trouble. God is a reality. Learning  through the Holy Spirit the reality of God’s nature is the greatest adventure of mortality. It’s worth the pursuit.

Try it.

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The Salt Lake Tribune published an article Friday with bullet point suggestions to involve women more fully in the operations of the Church. Currently, only men hold the priesthood. Some women, such as many of the authors of the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives,  insist that women should be ordained to the priesthood just as men. They cite a great deal of historical evidence where women early in the Church administered ordinances and operated the Relief Society women’s organization as a completely independent entity. It was only in the 1950s  with the implementation of “correlation” that the Relief Society was moved as a subordinate to the First Presidency of the Church. Before correlation, the general Relief Society presidency made final decisions for leading the women of the Church. Now, they need approval from the First Presidency. Many Mormon feminists mourn this day.

I shared the article because I think it addresses some cultural changes that can happen in the Church right now without addressing the controversial demands to ordain women to the priesthood.

Mormons believe in modern revelation to living prophets. For a large portion of the Church population, this means they wait until they get direction from the top and then they “follow the prophet.” Mormons believe in receiving a prophet’s message and then seeking personal confirmation for themselves about the message by the Holy Ghost. However, many in the Church don’t seek this individual inspiration. That takes work and thought. Emeritus general authority Clayton Christensen changed my spiritual life in a 2009 conference I attended in Boston where he taught that we need to take more responsibility. Joseph Smith didn’t teach that top-down-obey model, he said. Joseph taught we should question and prepare ourselves to receive revelation and then be “anxiously engaged” and “do many good things of our own free will and choice and bring to pass much righteousness” (Doc & Cov 58:27).

Elder Christensen then cited examples where members did this and it led to Church programs that many today assume came by top-down revelation: singles wards, primary, and Sunday School.

My point is that as Church members, we should be looking around at ways to improve the Church rather than waiting for top-down directives before we use our agency to bring about good. I believe the kinds  of suggestions in the article can change Church culture in a way that ought to be changed. Many members chafe at any kind of criticism of the Church and believe the structure to be perfect. I believe we have many practices that we assume are affiliated with priesthood administration, but are really cultural norms that ought to change.

Many of the annoying attitudes in the Church about men and women grow out of generational assumptions of the 1950s about gender. I serve in a singles ward in a city with amazing women ages 18-31. I date men who don’t think twice about having a woman as a boss.  I don’t see the gender divide the article tries to correct  as much in my current ward as I’ve felt in others.  Many of those leading the Church lived in the world when women were either absent or their subordinate outside the home. Sometimes I feel patronized by current Church leadership for the well-meaning way they talk about tenderly treating women. This leadership training is an example.  I understand they want to involve women more fully and some women are hesitant to speak up.  I appreciate their effort to help women feel appreciated.  I view Prophets and Apostles as bringing their own experience to their teaching and God uses them as an instrument to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But, when we emphasize the differences between men and women, they need to be eternally true and not culturally formed. The opposite of motherhood is fatherhood, not the priesthood. Both motherhood and fatherhood are nurturing roles.

Lastly, many hankering for supposed women’s rights in the LDS Church emphasize the Bishop as a power position. Really, a ward is a cooperative community where we’re trying to help each other out. Bishops’ personalities and leadership styles vary, but my Bishop relies heavily on his Relief Society presidents (we have 3 of which I am one) and Elders Quorum presidents (leaders for the men and there are 2) to administer the ward. It’s a lot of work, but the kind of work that emphasizes others rather than exalting self. If people want a power trip, they should run for Congress. I lead the  administration and ministration of my Relief Society. This means I conduct Sunday meetings and pray about who should staff particular positions. I make visits to individual sisters and try to invite them to deepen their trust in God. It’s a nurturing calling. Callings rotate every so often. We switch roles. I won’t always be this sort of leader, but every disciple of Jesus Christ leads. That is constant. The Bishop’s responsibilities parallel my responsibility as a Relief Society president in many ways. The emphasis on power misses the whole point of the ward to help others to come unto Christ and receive the restored gospel.  The Mormon emphasis on free will and personal revelation doesn’t jive with power grabs by leaders. HOWEVER, leaders do and will COUNSEL with someone when they are not living commandments and invite them to change. If they don’t change and it’s serious, they lose blessings such as full participation in the Sacrament (Lord’s supper ) and other sacred experiences. The intention is always to help someone realign themselves with God and His commandments.

With that, your eyes are probably blurring from all this text, but you’re only half way!

Here’s the discussion of the article.

Eric: ! Good share, [Rayleen]

Yesterday at 10:00am · Like

Forrest: some are inappropriate, such as the first one.

also…i never got a blessing from my bishop when advancing in the priesthood, is this some Utah thing?

23 hours ago · Like

Spencer: And what are women lacking that the Lord’s kingdom and structure are missing? It looks like a watered down church version of ERA from the 80′s.I’ve noticed the more people (women in this case) understand who and whose they truly are, the less they need a worldly profile and praise. They have plenty of god-esteeme they don’t need what the world offers, they already know their work is eternal and invaluable. There is a reason we don’t know more about heavenly mother…

23 hours ago · Like · 1

[Rayleen] I have several thoughts on this and will share them when I can.

22 hours ago · Like

Adam: disagree on a doctrinal level with most of these suggestions. Spencer, you are spot on.

22 hours ago via mobile · Like

Forrest: I still feel cheated on the whole blessing thing, i want my fair share dangit!

22 hours ago · Like

Adam: Once I get internet I can address these point by point. Difficult to do on a phone though.

22 hours ago via mobile · Like

[Rayleen] I look forward to it, Adam. Then I’ll respond to your points by point ;)

22 hours ago · Like

Matt: Forrest – it’s talking about ordinations.

22 hours ago · Like

Forrest: really? mine weren’t from the bishop…how odd

22 hours ago · Like

Forrest: Call women as Sunday School presidents, ward mission leaders and ward and stake clerks.”

the latter portion of this section indicates a lack of understanding as to the duties of ward and stake clerks. Much as the first suggestion is inappropriate (having a non-ecclesiastic leader in any kind of bishop’s interview) the duties of stake and ward level clerks, especially in regards to church discipline and related proceedings, are inappropriate for those without the authority to take part. That said I have known women to be called to positions of responsibility as far as ward clerical duties are concerned. I don’t know if that’s what they were getting at

22 hours ago · Like

Matt: I don’t think it’s suggesting that ordinations are from the bishops, indeed, it says that they mostly come from fathers. It’s just saying that the bishop would be a candidate to give such blessings to young women:
“Have bishops give girls a special blessing when they turn 12, 14 and 16. Their brothers get these from priesthood leaders, often their fathers, when they advance in the priesthood.”

22 hours ago · Like

Forrest: Ah I misread. Still an odd request since anyone can request a blessing from their Bishop at any time…I’m not sure I understand the need to codify or officially support (or mandate) such a thing for the sake of appearances

22 hours ago · Like · 2

Forrest: also “Lower the age for female missionaries to 19, same as young Mormon men, while letting them serve two years and as zone and district leaders.”

I’m not sure what the benefit of lowering women’s age would be. I always figured it was more of a protective measure of sorts. Women do serve as zone and district leaders in the absence of priesthood authority to do the same, though admittedly those situations in the mission field are rare exceptions

22 hours ago · Like · 1

Adam: Matt, aren’t fathers able to give blessings anytime? If the father isn’t available, aren’t there other priesthood leaders available? Why does it need to be a “special blessing” based on age?

Just a quick note on my first impressions of the article. Yes, some of the suggestions sound nice and fair, but its a distraction and a trap. It pulls our focus on the eternities into the here and now. From my experiences, this is a tool of the adversary to pull is off the path we should be on. (Big red flag!!) Those who understand the doctrines of the gospel know that our focus/goal is not the now, but the eternity. Those who understand the part women play in God’s plan (there is so much more to it than have babies) do not need the earthly spotlight.

It also creates an assumption that men aspire to these duties/opportunities/positions because of the prestige/power. That should not be the case and those doing so WILL be held accountable. So to say it unfair that women don’t share equal opportunity is to presume that there are women who would like to aspire to such things.

Additionally it assumes that every boy/man gets these opportunities women don’t. There’s no discussion of the necessity for the man to be worthy for such positions.

From a literary standpoint the article is biased. It doesn’t mention areas where women are evidenced to be equal or even superior, but only focuses on parts that, given a myopic perspective, display women as lesser.

Just a few quick thoughts. They are rough and unpolished, but its what I can give right now whilst waiting for my apartment move out inspection.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

Stephen: If the here and now doesn’t matter but eternity is whats important, then why would it matter if a woman were involved in anything mentioned in the article? If its not big deal that they’re not, it should be no big deal if they were, right?

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Emma: I think these are good ideas. And Adam, I have always aspired to be a ward clerk, so I guess the presumption is not too far off :)

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Adam: Except the doctrines behind them…. no.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Paul: Women already perform priesthood ordinances in the temple, and everyone who has been to the temple wear the garments of the holy priesthood, in exactly those words. “Priest” and “priestess” are obviously priesthood titles, as is evident by the words themselves, and those titles are one of the end states to which Mormons aspire. The Bible references priestesses (though their exact role is not entirely known).

In other words, I’m in the camp that believes that women have already had the priesthood in the LDS church for a long time, and have been given certain priesthood keys (e.g. in temple ceremonies) despite not being allowed to hold offices yet. I have no idea if the male church leaders are ever going to build upon the priesthood that women already have by allowing them to hold offices, but if they ever do make that transition, it will be somewhat of a formality, and not particularly revolutionary.

If you take a step back and detach the word “priesthood” from the social construct of male roles, you end up with the idea that a priest (or priestess) is someone who ministers in matters of faith and church procedures. The fact that no one in the top leadership of the church’s hierarchy has yet seen fit to formalize priesthood offices for women is on some levels irrelevant, because women already minister in many matters of faith and local day-to-day church procedures, but women are, for all intents and purposes, needlessly shut out from important matters that they really should be involved in, such as disciplinary councils, worthiness interviews, regional decision-making, and the declaration of doctrine. There is absolutely no reason for women to be excluded from any of these roles, other than existing conventions and traditions, and there are many, many reasons why including women at these levels can be good for everyone. Is it absolutely necessary for women to be given priesthood offices for this to happen? Although I’m tempted to say no, it’s not absolutely necessary, the truth is that I believe it is. Until women are able to hold priesthood offices, there will always be an inherent imbalance, and that imbalance is completely unnecessary. It could be undone quickly and easily, without changing any doctrine, and people will always wonder afterwards why it took so long to make such an easy change.

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Matt: Adam – of course they are. The point is to make a young women’s transition into adulthood as meaningful as priesthood ordinations make a young man’s.

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Adam: Matt, I’m just saying a fathers blessing would carry much more meaning than a hey, you just turned 14… time for a blessing.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Matt: Heh. As opposed to, hey you just turned 14, time to become a teacher? Fathers, of course, ordain young men, so perhaps we can agree that it should be church policy that young women be given special blessings by their fathers in the bishop’s office soon after their 12th, 14th, and 16th birthdays?

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Adam:  not supposed to be that way for young men either. The birthday means you are eligible for the office, not that you automatically get it. You must still be worthy, you must still be interviewed. Its also up to the bishops discretion if the young man is ready for such an office. Admittedly, that’s not always the way its run, but it should be.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Paul: I also believe that every “calling” at every level of the church is a priesthood calling, and not just in the sense that it was issued by a man with a priesthood title. I mean it in the sense that these are people who are ministering within the church, with authority to do so. Ministering with authority is the essence of what it means to be a priest/priestess, and every calling is exactly that.

21 hours ago · Like

Adam: Paul, I’ll agree with you to the point that women already hold the priesthood (in a different way than men). But how they operate in that is very different. As to the rest of it, we differ.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Matt: Indeed, Adam. And I think all of that would be usefully applied to young women as well: such a moment would be a valuable rite of passage and a renewed signal that the church takes the growth of young women as seriously as it does of young men.

21 hours ago · Like

Adam: They do though. They progress through the young women’s program. Keep in mind too that an ordination to an office isn’t a “blessing,” its an ordination. Typically a blessing will follow, but not always.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Paul: Ijust really think we need to dislodge the word “priesthood” from the calcified assumptions within the church that only men minister with authority. Women have already been ministering with authority pretty much since the beginning of the church, even though the men in charge haven’t seen fit to give them offices yet.

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Forrest: so why second guess current doctrine with what the Church should do? If your thoughts were true it would be what the Church *is* doing. Assuming of course that revelation is actually a thing. Don’t mix temporal social politics with divine revelation. The time when it is appropriate for such changes to occur will be the time it occurs. You need only look at the formal extension of Priesthood office to all worthy men as an example of that.

Obviously at the moment, for whatever reason, things are as they are for a purpose. And it is entirely inappropriate for anyone other than a bishop to be present in an interview except in very rare circumstances.

Now I would suggest we take a long look at what things might be doctrine and others might merely be custom, as I feel custom is sometimes (often) damaging to our interpretation of true doctrine.

21 hours ago · Like

Adam: I will have to return to the discussion later… my apartment management finally showed up.

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Matt: Believe me, I know what an ‘ordination’ is, and I think it’s notable that the writers of the Trib piece are specifically not calling for that sort of thing. Currently in every ward budget the Young Men’s program has several times the amount of cash as the Young Women’s program; though the two things exist, the point is that there’s a lot of signals in the church today that YM are what’s really important.

Forrest - I think you’re the one confusing present social politics and procedural custom with doctrine. Can you point me, say, to any canonical statement which indicates that women can’t be a Sunday school president, for instance?

21 hours ago · Like

Adam: Matt- 1) have you seen “every ward budget” as proof of your statement? 2) can you find any canonical statement referring to a Sunday school president (excluding possibly Doctrine and Covenants)?

21 hours ago via mobile · Like

Paul: If your thoughts were true it would be what the Church *is* doing. ”

While this statement is admirable in its expression of faith in the leaders of the church, the idea behind it has never been true. All meaningful changes in all eras of the church came only after the leaders were ready as human beings to make the changes. Extending priesthood authority to all races is a case in point, really. There never was a revelation barring blacks from the priesthood. The practice grew out of the prejudices of the time, mixed with scriptural interpretations that are today outdated, not because doctrines changed, but because the original interpretations were flat out wrong, and extremely harmful. No one is immune from misinterpretation. Not me, not you, and not the leaders at the top. Changes at the top can only occur when the leaders, as fallible human beings, are ready to make the changes, and that often takes a lot of time and re-learning, when it comes to undoing long-held assumptions.

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Matt: ‎2) Nope; and the Sunday school’s not in the D&C; it was founded in 1849. Which is why it doesn’t seem like it would be much of a big deal to set apart a woman as president, no? 1) Nope, but I don’t need to. Check the GHI. Most of the money comes as a result of the YM”s association with Scouting: fundraisers, the specific financial requirements that Scouting places on organizations that sponsor troops, and the like. The GHI specifically forbids YW from hosting similar fundraisers.

21 hours ago · Like

Matt: And I’m out myself. Been fun, all.

21 hours ago · Like

Forrest: Paul that is conjecture and personal opinion, not hard fact. The reality is we have no idea where the practice came from, stop trying to just lay it on racism.

you still support my point that when membership as a whole and the leadership are ready for such a change, if it be the will of the Lord, then that change will occur. Not before. The change in practice still came about as revelation even if the practice didn’t. With current social trends it could potentially become legal for people to marry more than one person of various sexual inclinations in the coming decades, do you think that will mean a return to plural marriage? I doubt it. Social progress is not, necessarily, the mode of the Lords operation, even if it might coincide as such.

My point is why should it matter whether they can or can’t be? Honestly I’d never even noticed until the article pointed it out. I would wager that it lies within the desire or need to have priesthood authority at the head of the educational portion of the local ward, much like a Bishop is the priesthood authority of the ward itself, a Stake president of the Stake and so on. Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary are notable exceptions to the common doctrine of priesthood authority guiding the church, and even those organizations still operate under priesthood guidance rather than independently.

In regards to your ward budget, how would you know? That’s wild conjecture and the reality is that depending on the needs of wards, the sizes of their programs, and ancillary programs such as BSA the clerk and bishop together will draft and approve a fair and reasonable ward budget covering the needs of all programs. Fair != Equal.

to further expound upon the doctrine behind worthiness interviews and disciplinary councils. It is the purview and authority of the priesthood (yet again) and one set apart as a Common Judge in Israel to not only deal with sin and transgression but to accurately and with inspiration guide the member back to living their covenants and full-faith and fellowship within the church. A young women’s president, though certainly concerned for the care and well being of her girls, has no place in those proceedings except, potentially, as a witness in some situations.

21 hours ago · Like

Spencer: The only imbalance is people not understanding and accepting the perfect structure of the church (people of course not perfect). Anyone attempting to frame the church’s structure and division of duties between male and female from the worlds irrelevant and irreverent perspective will always be off base and in danger of much worse. it’s much like a church trying to claim authority from Peter or governments trying to force equal outcome instead of equal opportunity. Women do not hold the priesthood. It is not the structure of the Kingdom or order of God. They were not ordained on top of other key characteristics required for “office.” so don’t be confused by titles – this in no way diminishes the gender, purpose or power to perform miracles and such through faith. May I recommend drinking from the source instead of going downstream and the often quoted line from GA’s “behind every good man is an even better woman.”

21 hours ago · Like · 1

Forrest: thank you Spencer, well put. I too often get mired in administrative minutiae.

Also i mistakenly mixed certain things said by paul and matt in my last response, i apologize for the mistake, but my comments still stand as they are

21 hours ago · Like

Paul: The church’s structure has always been fluid. There has never been one perfect structure. The church in Joseph’s day started with the offices of first and second Elder. Those offices no longer exist. Later, apostles were added. There was a somewhat secretive Council of 50, which no longer exists. The office of seventy was a local office in every ward until it changed to a regional office and granted more of a General Authority status. My dad is a seventy, but was never a general authority. Stake missionaries no longer exist, and we have ward missionaries.

And that’s just in the latter-day church. The organization during the life of Christ was not as alike to our church as many like to think. And what about the organization during Moses’s life? Not really the same at all. So which of these organizational structures is the perfect or true structure? If you’re a believing Mormon, you have to say: all of them. And yet, they have at least as many dissimilarities as similarities.

21 hours ago · Like

Forrest: You would look beyond the mark and lobby for change though, whereas change must come from the top down at the appropriate time. The children of Israel did not tell Moses to go back up the hill and get a ‘better law’ they had less issue with, the Lord sent them the law they had to deal with.

Shifts in Church policy and structure occur as the Lord decrees, not as the people demand. You can be happy for eventual change, should it come. My testimony would not be shaken in the least if any of these things came to pass and were declared by a Prophet of the Lord. But until that day I will oppose this as what it is, a distraction from what is important: the salvation and spiritual nurturing of God’s children. Which none of this seems to really help.

20 hours ago · Like · 1

Paul: I’ll forever be grateful to Lester Bush for his groundbreaking research on the non-doctrinal history of the racial priesthood ban. President Kimball read and re-read it, highlighting key passages. Would the ban reversal have occurred without Lester Bush’s work? Impossible to say. But Lester Bush did the right thing, and so did President Kimball, eventually, after he was ready to accept the change himself.

20 hours ago via mobile · Like

Forrest: you’re oversimplifying the entire situation surrounding President Kimball’s revelation and would do well to investigate the situation further.

Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood – FAIRMormon

Sometimes God withholds certain blessings from certain people without explaining…See More

20 hours ago · Like ·

Paul: I’m very familiar with the writings about the circumstances, actually. Yes, of course I simplified things for the sake of a Facebook comment.

20 hours ago via mobile · Like

Forrest: Then you should realize that it almost didn’t matter the origin of the ban, the people required commandment, and the Lord supplied on the Lords time. Unless it was all the work of men which would invalidate the revelatory process.

This is the same, if the people require commandment to change then it will occur, if the change is of the Lord. Books written by men will not sway divine will, nor would they be required as proof as He knows the hearts of men. We as a people would do better to worry more for our own spiritual well being than every detail of church practice and doctrine that we can reasonably, in our own minds, rationalize away as “not really how it should be done”

20 hours ago · Like

Elena: Wow, look at how easily we have become distracted and divisive. I know how Heavenly Father feels about women and I know in turn how He has taught me to feel about myself and that is all that matters to me. Women, there are so many ways you can find to make your life fulfilling, special and impactive. We don’t need to get hung up on things like this.

19 hours ago · Like · 2

Matt: Forrest: this:

Shifts in Church policy and structure occur as the Lord decrees, not as the people demand.

Is not actually true. Primary, Sunday School, and the Relief Society, off the top of my head, began at the local level and were eventually adopted by the leadership of the church. Change happens both top down and bottom up.

15 hours ago · Like

Paul:  Greg Prince also has described the way the leaders in Salt Lake co-opted the youth program from his stake (in California I think?) many years ago and implemented it church-wide. Greg Prince has given whole presentations on this phenomenon in the church, which he has labeled “trickle-up revelation.”

14 hours ago via mobile · Like

Paul:  From Greg Prince:
“Trickle-up revelation is arguably the most important force of revelation shaping the day-to-day church in which we live. If you doubt that statement, consider the Relief Society, Mutual Improvement, Sunday School, Primary, Welfare, Genealogy (Family History), and Young Adult programs all began as grass-roots initiatives on the part of Church members, and were then embraced by the central Church. This means that phrases such as “magnifying one’s calling”, “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness”, and “be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a good work. And out of small things proceedeth forth that which is great”, are not platitudes, but a real call to action. I have been a first-hand witness and participant in the birth of the Young Adult program in Southern California in the mid-1970’s and a first-hand witness of Lester Bush’s landmark on blacks and the priesthood in the mid-1970s. A Church that not only allows, but expects its members to assist in continual transformation by placing their unique gifts at the altar has my vote.”


Why They Stay

Sunstone has had a recurring theme over the past 25 years or so titled Why I Sta…See More

13 hours ago via mobile · Like ·

Matthew: Wow, more comments here than on the original SLT post! I’ll throw in my two cents, something I rarely do on facebook–but don’t worry, I wont be back to debate or respond. My thoughts generally on the article are that the author(s) are trying to address what they consider tradition and practice, and not doctrine, and so can with greater ease be changed by the church. And I love the suggestions–I think that each of them are fair, don’t diminish the role of the priesthood or the church while recognizing the contribution and status of our women in the church. I would love to see any of these enacted, and actually might go suggest to my bishop in bishopric meeting (I am the ward clerk, although my wife wishes she was!) on Sunday number 4, blessing the young women as they progress. In our ward, we have a surplus of young women without fathers or fathers in the church, and wanting for support and encouragement. What would be wrong with, when they change from beehive to mia maid, for example, the bishop recognizing this achievement of activity and giving them a blessing of support and encouragement?

And I both support and sustain the prophet as the vehicle for the revelation for almost all of these points and recognize that people can suggest and point out the benefits of such things to him and his counselors. Why shouldn’t the brethren investigate avenues of equality that are not inconsistent with church doctrine?

8 hours ago · Like

Michelle: To add to my husband’s thoughts (which I agree with): I think one of the nice things about the first suggestion is that it will avoid a potentially awkward situation, namely, a young teenage girl alone in a room with an older man asking her questions about the law of chastity. I think that the bishop, as a judge in Israel, would be able to invite a young women’s leader, relief society leader, or a parent to be present during the interview (if the girl is okay with it). Then if counsel is needed on issues sensitive in nature, the girl can work with someone her own gender, not just an older guy.

Also, my understanding is that revelation comes from a combination of two factors: asking and listening. I’m sure that if there is a sizable group in the church interested in such changes to policy (not doctrine), then the brethren would be more likely to even be aware enough to ask about it and receive the revelations of policy changes.


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Last post of pics from Florence.

What are the odds? My roommate told me that her bud Alex and I would be in Italy at the same time. I’m friends with Alex too. We’ve known each other for over 3 years and up until a few months ago, he was roommates with one of my close childhood friends.

A client with his architecture firm would be bringing him and his colleagues to Italy to evaluate materials for a building project.

This client was also courting his firm in hopes to secure future projects. This means there were lots of fancy meals and posh accommodations awaiting him in Italy.

Sometimes life is tough.

Once we both arrived, over email we realized we wouldn’t be able to meet up as we thought. My free days were the last two days of my two week study, Sunday and Monday. He was only staying in Florence through Saturday night. It would have been fun to get together, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

On Saturday my class toured the Pitti Palace. While hanging in the gift shop with my classmates, Alex walked by and stopped because he recognized my voice.:) It was phenomenal. In all of Florence, we would cross paths by accident!

He joined us on a tour of the Boboli Gardens. It was really entertaining that many of my classmates thought I just met him there for the first time.

He joined us for our night out celebrating my classmate’s birthday. It was really enjoyable to have Alex there, especially as the night progressed and we were the only sober ones.:)

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The singer Cher stirred controversy for her anti-Romney tweet.  The Supreme Court’s healthcare decision mobilized a large number of voters to rally around the not-Obama candidate, Mitt Romney, for his promise to lead the repeal of nationalized healthcare if elected. In just the four hour period following the Supreme Court’s announcement, Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $1 million.  

Cher’s concern led her to Twitter to warn her fans.

About Obama she wrote: “I Feel if he doesn’t get all his DUCKS IN A ROW we’ll b forced 2 listen 2Uncaring Richy Rich! The whitest man in MAGIC UNDERWEAR in the WH.” 

I’m glad to see that Cher is a concerned citizen. My first reactions:

  1. Is anyone forced to listen to the US president?
  2. Isn’t Cher white? Is a white man in the White House a problem?
  3. Isn’t Cher rich? Isn’t the American dream defined as the opportunity to rise from modest means to wealth as Mitt and Ann Romney have done?
  4. “Magic underwear” got all caps? Wow, she must be really worried about this possibility.

Two points

The first is related to Romney’s wealth and his Mormonism. Latter-day Saint (Mormon) congregations are determined by geographical boundaries called wards. Wards usually cover a large enough area that congregants span the economic spectrum. These wards have a strong sense of community since the Mormon baptismal covenant includes a promise to like Christ “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort”  (Mosiah 18:8-9).  This means that by virtue of their Church involvement wealthy Mormons become personally involved with the lives of the economically poor members of their faith community. Further, the LDS Church has a lay ministry. I’m currently one of the lay ministers for my congregation. In addition to my full time job and my evening grad school, I serve in the Church about 15 hrs a week. This responsibility leads me to be intimately involved in counseling with members of the congregation who need help. Challenges span from economic challenges, spiritual discouragement, past abuse, depression and much more. Mitt Romney has had similar experiences through his Church service. His responsibilities as a stake president (a leader for several wards) led him to be even more involved in these kinds of issues than I am currently. Unlike typical wealthy Americans from which many politicians spring, Mitt Romney has been personally involved with and cared for people outside of his economic bracket. It’s unfortunate that he can’t talk about his faith publicly because this aspect of his faith community provides him with experience that others vying for public office never live.

I don’t know much about Cher. But, I doubt she spends much time with others who cannot enjoy her same lifestyle.

Next, “magic underwear” is a mocking term generated by the atheist community. Or was it the secular humanists? Or the nontheists? I’m not sure. It’s one of those. I was familiar with the phrase years ago by word of mouth. Then the night I wrote about wearing “the garment” when Michael Shermer and I had an exchange about it at Sixth and I, I found a Youtube video with the “magic underwear” term. You can see it in the comments on that post.

I’ve written about wearing the garment on this blog.

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

Magic Mormon Underwear Gets a Mention at the Believing Brain Discussion

MacGyver Groupie and Lengthy Leggings

My Easter Dress, “Mormon underwear” mentioned…again and Mormon Defense

Sleeves on the Midnight Blue Dress? Sold

I write about it so much because Cher joins a large group of people who disparage this practice.

You can go to these posts linked above to find out about the doctrine of why Mormons wear an underclothing as a reminder of their covenants to “always remember Jesus Christ and keep His commandments.”

To what I’ve written before, I’ll add this.

This last week I accompanied a friend in my ward to receive her endowment in the Temple. This means that she promised to wear the garment as a reminder of the promises she was making with God. As I sat next to her in a beautiful room with mirrors and chandeliers in the Washington, DC Temple, the assistant to the Temple matron (kind of like the first lady of the Temple) told her that in addition to other purposes the garment  symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ.  Like the garment covers the body, Christ’s Atonement covers our sins, she told my friend. It added another layer to why I appreciate this reminder God has provided for me. With the many demands on my time, it’s sometimes easy to forget God. The garment keeps the reminder close. Wearing it requires some creativity in my wardrobe, but I don’t mind.

For example:

This week when Derechosaurus Wrecks  knocked out my power in 100 degree heat, I went to Marshalls  to cool off. I didn’t intend to buy anything, but I found this dress for $20 on clearance.

It was a little wrinkled on the hanger and I didn’t have electricity to iron it, but I wore it to Church the next day just the same because I liked it so much.

I rarely wear the Downeast Basics undershirt I paired with it to cover my garment because the neckline is so high, but it was meant to be with this dress. I’m glad I could help them find each other.:)

Wearing the garment has deep spiritual meaning. If someone understands it carries this depth and then mocks it, I accept that. My issue comes when people don’t know anything about the meaning of the practice and the only thing they know about it is Cher’s label.

It’s extra annoying because Cher doesn’t really get the over all underwear concept anyway, but whatev.

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Friday Chief Justice Roberts upset the weather gods with his healthcare decision surprise. Kidding, kidding.  The timing and wrath of Zeus of the severe storm that pelted the DC Metro area at least makes me smirk about it.  Check out the Capital Weather Gang’s pic of the action.

As I was coming home for the evening on Friday, my date had to swerve to miss fallen limbs in the road. I might have screamed a little. I lost electricity just for one day, but others are still without it.

The Washington Post is currently hosting a contest to name the derecho storm that pounced so quickly.

It seems we’re setting a tradition for naming storms as we did in 2010 with Snowmaggeddon and Snowpacalypse 

My fav is in the lead:

Derechosaurus Wrecks

My friend, @kgaglione,  prefers Derecho Malfoy.

Severe weather like this can be almost fun, if no one gets hurt of course. I get to bust out my emergency preparedness paraphernalia!

Mormons are big into “being prepared in all things.” This includes emergency preparedness. We are counseled to have a 72 hr kit and at least one year of food storage.

Here’s my stake’s website to help be prepared. (Stake is a regional unit made up of several wards or congregations.)

The idea is to store up during times of plenty, like Joseph of Egypt, to be ready when the skinny cows show up. Never mind.

Food storage helped my family when I was mid elementary school age. After several years of too much rain in Florida, my farming family was unable to repay their loans. Then, the subsequent year, our  broker stole the crop he was supposed to sell on the market. It was devastating for us. Years later, I remember my parents talking about how they didn’t know how they would buy milk. We ate from our year supply of canned tomatoes, pasta and peaches. I don’t remember it much. I just remember being a happy kid and swimming in our cousins’ pool when my Dad came home from the fields. But, we consider the ability to retain our house and not go hungry at the same as a blessing of obedience to a prophet’s counsel to store up food.

I have probably about 2 months of food storage currently in my garage, including lots of water. But I have yet to bring myself up to speed on how to actually cook with this food. I don’t really know what to actually do with all that wheat, but hey I’m a work in progress.:)

My roommate’s friend Anna, well she’s my friend too, jokes that her food storage plan is to buy cigarettes and alcohol and she’ll just barter when the time comes. (We crack up at this because Mormons don’t smoke or drink.)

I have an emergency kit in my office (the backpack below). Now I’m near Dupont Circle, but I used to be at Farragut park closer to the White House, an easy target of attacks. I figured if Jack Bauer was ever scaling my the outside of the law firm’s building, I’d should be ready to throw him a line…or maybe a bit of beef jerky. Plus, I have sporty shoes in the bag. There’s no way I’m hiking home to in heels in the event of an emergency.

Then I have a 72 hour kit in my car. It’s in bucket form because you’re supposed to haul your waste to a safe spot in the bucket when sewage lines are trashed. Yuck. I just cringed a little.

Amazon has a list of bare essentials for an impending Zombie Apocalypse.  You could purchase the lot and just befriend a Mormon for your food preparation. You’ll probably have to listen to their gospel message at some point if this is your plan, just sayin’. Or, store up food and then barter with Anna for your addictive substances.  I hear her price is going to be pretty steep, though.

Doesn’t all this sound fun?



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Sleeves on the Midnight Blue Dress? Sold

Posted by: benjamin    in Mormon underwear

During my recent visit with my sis in South Carolina, we went shopping.  (She’s holding true to our southern roots, while my current location brings my loyalty into question. However, I do technically live south of Robert E. Lee’s homestead so I’m in the clear.)

My role was to entertain the little munchkin while my sister shopped. We make a good team. I like it that way. I enjoy the liberty of shopping whenever I feel like it, so I’m happy to provide my sister the same freedom when I can. I like that we’re close. I’ve almost forgotten her betrayal in the form of getting married when I was a missionary and replacing me behind my back, but that’s a story for another time.

Having a little one makes it difficult to shop with a purpose as we typically do. You see, bargain shopping is like a treasure hunt that requires stamina and patience.

Most of my attention on this shopping excursion was for the little girl with the quirky walk. Last I saw her, she was just barely walking. She skipped crawling. She didn’t like being on her stomach. She pushed a detergent bottle around the house for balance as she was teaching herself mobility. I was impressed with her ingenuity, but it doesn’t take much for her to impress me. Now that she darts around, she tucks one arm in while the other pumps for her little power walk. It’s incredibly funny;  she makes us laugh constantly.

Anyway, let’s get to that dress. So, I was mostly watching the little lady while my sister hunted and I came across this dress.

I love the midnight blue color and it has sleeves! It’s refreshing to find a dress that I don’t have to exercise a great deal of creativity to make suitable. It’s fun being creative, but it’s nice to dodge all the extra work once in a while, too.

Why do I care about sleeves? Remember how I wear a reminder of my covenant with God to always remember Jesus Christ and keep His commandments? Mormons call it the Garment, but public sources have nicknamed it Mormon underwear. I chafe at the term, but then roll with it. It’s way better than what it could be. You can read about the practice on this blog in the following posts:

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

Magic Mormon Underwear Gets a Mention at the Believing Brain Discussion

MacGyver Groupie and Lengthy Leggings

My Easter Dress, “Mormon underwear” mentioned…again and Mormon Defense

The midnight blue dress with sleeves was $15.00 at Ross.


I already had the belt, which I got second hand.

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I’m not above exploiting the labor of my 18 month old niece. As part of the family, she needs to learn to pull her own weight once in a while.

A friend of mine is on a spiritual retreat in India. His birthday arrived while he’s been away on this temporary trek. I thought we would bake him a cake, take pictures of it and send the pics to him. Then I remembered my pencil skirts are still too snug thanks to all that pasta and gelato I ate in Italy. I knew I’d eat more than my own share of that cake we would photograph. Instead, I went for plan b and employed the services of my adorable niece to create a cake to celebrate.

(As a general rule, I don’t share photos of my nieces and nephews, not even generally on my Facebook profile. But, I do have pics of this little one up as a baby. I guess I feel like they’re less snatch-able when they’re not that mobile. This will probably be the last time you see this little lady.)

This birthday is a big deal because Seun is in remission from two lethal forms of cancer. The New York Times recently covered his effort to recruit more African Americans to the national bone marrow registry and more importantly, the article includes his work in creating the first ever bone marrow registry in Nigeria. You can find the article, “Finding a Match, and a Mission: Helping Blacks Survive Cancer,” here.

Seun and I were friends long before his diagnosis. He was a tremendous person before cancer changed him, but now I’m even more proud of who he has become. As he has faced the uncertainty of his future, he sees the beauty in every day things that others miss. He has a courage about him that I’ve seen in no other person I’ve known. He wants first to make the world a better place for others. He has a reverence for life happenings that others take for granted. He wasn’t able to find a bone marrow match, but did receive a cord blood transplant and is now in full remission. Check out the article. It’s definitely worth your time.

Recently I asked him about  how he was feeling and he said his immune system was only two years old, so he’s still adjusting. This caused me pause. I didn’t realize that receiving the cord blood from a newly born baby meant that he received the age of its immunity, but that is how it works.

His mention of this is what led me to think that at this point celebrating his birthday is fun, but we really should be celebrating his second chance at life.

His rebirth.

It’s a wonderful cause for celebration.

People often say “everything happens for a reason.” I think they mean to imply that everything happens for a purpose and not just because there was a preceding catalyst. I think they mean that God is causing things like this to happen for our own good. My personal general view is that God created a world where people have free will and where the laws of nature unfold in their course. People commit injustices and disease happens, not necessarily because God singled them out for the “trial,” but because it is part of the human experience. We can come to know Him through mortality’s adversity by seeking the comfort Jesus Christ‘s Atonement provides, if we are willing to receive it. That’s how God makes tragedy fair in the present and in the end. He provides comfort along the way and provides for a triumphal victory when all is said and done. BUT, I can’t help but think that there is a great purpose in Seun’s redirection in life because he’s tremendously talented and capable, having the ability to bring about a bone marrow registry that would benefit not just Africans, but all the world (check out the video with the article where he explains how the diversity in Nigeria could benefit all the gene pool).   He’s already accomplished a great work and he has so much more to do in his life.

I appreciate people in my life who by their friendship, teach me about God.   That’s Seun for me.

Anyway, back to that child exploitation.

I set up an assembly line to put her to work.

She did it all by herself.

That isn’t true.

Viola! Finished.

Don’t worry, she got a nice long break after she submitted her work product.

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While in the Convent of San Marco in Florence and the Church of San Damiano in Assisi, I learned about cloisters.

Cloisters are a central architectural feature of the living space for those who have committed themselves to religious life. It represents the shared space of the community of Christ and is meant to be a sanctuary for reflection and communion with God. They usually are cultivated with beautiful flowers to represent the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence.

They usually have wells in the center as a symbol to Christ as the Living Water. The Church of San Damiano has this design.

They can also have a tree at the center as a symbol of the Tree of Life, like at the Convento de San Marco.

The cloister is the predecessor to the modern courtyard. It’s a shame it has lost so much of its depth.

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