Posts Tagged ‘mormon cult’

Hi!

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.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood

Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood – FAIRMormon

en.fairmormon.org

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.”

Source: http://www.wheatandtares.org/2011/10/17/why-they-stay/

Why They Stay

www.wheatandtares.org

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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I got this dress for $20 at TJ Maxx when I returned from Florence. I planned to buy a dress in Italy, but couldn’t find anything I wanted to bring home with me that wasn’t 1,000 euros or more.

When my roommate saw me wearing it, she said I was “channeling the Duchess of Cambridge.”

I was terribly flattered.:)

 

Kate Middleton is the epitome of a woman with class. I’m in an intense lace phase as evidenced by one of my Pinterest boards  and she stars in it quite a bit.

There’s her creme lace dress, along with her blue lace dress. 

It isn’t just in lace where she looks fabulous. There’s this lovely golden dress as an evening gown and this springy yellow dress during the day. And I absolutely want to wear this military style outfit to work.

It wasn’t until I came across this article that I realized in addition to Kate’s overall class, I’m a pinaholic for her style because it’s modest.

(Yeah, I know, slow on the uptake with this one. But, gratefully, not THAT slow.)

I mean, she added sleeves to her Jubilee dress. A woman after my own heart!

I don’t know if there’s a sleeve standard for British royals or not, but all of her choices so far that I’ve seen (and anytime she steps out her image quickly spreads all over the Internet) have been what a Mormon would consider “modest.” This means, keeping the cleavage covered and for those who have received their endowment in the Temple, wearing sleeves. For more on how Mormons wear underclothing as a reminder of their promises they make to God in the Temple see:

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

Cher Doesn’t Get the Underwear Concept Anyway

Sleeves on the Midnight Blue Dress? Sold

The best part is that modesty is trending with more than the Duchess. This article reports that Victoria Beckham’s modest fashion sensibilities  have inspired other leading designers to make it fashionable to cover up.

I might be tearing up a little. That’s so beautiful—on multiple levels.

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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We went to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi to see the place where St. Francis died. Midway through our visit, I was in great need to use the ladies’ room. I left the group and started following the signs, which seemed to never end; each sign led me to another sign with the promise of relief.

It guided me outside at which point urgency escalated as I navigated the crowd newly exiting mass.

I found it…finally.

It looked like this:

Huh?

What’s the deal?

I stalled for a few seconds unsure of what to do. I looked at the woman overseeing the gates. With my hands turned upwards, I shrugged and said, “I don’t have any change and I really need to go to the bathroom.”

She responded in Italian, which of course I didn’t understand (I’m a typical American whose second language is of no use in Italy). As she spoke, she made similar gestures as mine. Then she picked up a coin and put it in the slot and turned the entrance bar.

Relieved (but not yet fully) I walked forward to the bar, but it caught and wouldn’t allow me entrance.

“Fifty cents,” she then said. I was confused.  I thought she was letting me in. Clearly not.

My issue the whole time was that I had a bill of 50 euro, but not half of one euro in coins.

Come on, I just want to use the bathroom.

I made my way back to find my class group who had concluded their study and were ready to leave at my arrival. I announced my dilemma and asked for mercy.

My professor gave me a coin, which was one euro.

When I returned to the lady, I said in English, “I have one euro, how do I do this if I don’t have exact change?” She switched out my coins and fed the hungry slot with a piece from her collection to let me in.

Ah, now I see. When I thought she was giving me a free pass, she was putting in the proper amount and turning the gate to keep her numbers exact. Silly me. I thought she was helping a girl out.

Note to self: bring change while in Europe for emergencies. Some friends have told me this wasn’t unique to just this church. Come to think of it, this could benefit restroom quality and cleanliness at especially gas stations in the States. If they charged some change before they gave you a key, it’d prevent a lot of dreadful experiences.

 

 

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20
May

The David

Posted by: benjamin    in American in Florence

Today the David affronted my tender sensibilities, but for some reason, I didn’t want to protest.:)

All joking aside, it was absolutely captivating.

You might be wondering why it looks like I kept my camera in my bag and at will snapped a picture. Well, that’s what I did. You see, you’re not supposed to take pictures in museums or churches in Florence. After my first infraction, I was sure not to take any pictures in churches out of respect for it as a sacred space. (At first it threw me off when they were charging admission to see their sacred space, but then I straightened out.) Even when there was no one policing in churches, I used my own self restraint.

Museums on the other hand, I view the ban as an easy way to prevent people from using flash photography. That, and they want you to buy pics in the gift shop.

This one wasn’t from my purse, but from behind a pillar.

And while I’m being serious, this Andy Warhol style David affronted my sensibilities, but for different reasons. I protest its existence.

Just look at my protest.

 

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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.

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I’m using this puppy for the first time this week.

This week I’m going to Italy for a two week study abroad to learn about the changes between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

When I started my now job, I felt like a shrewd negotiator when I secured these two weeks to finish the final course of my Masters program without consuming any vacation time. Now that I know my boss better, I’m not so surprised he granted it to me. He’s a former professor and still a scholar and he told me “there will be a quiz” when I return. He wasn’t kidding. It won’t be with pen and paper, but he’s going to want me to share what I learned and it better demonstrate I spent my time well.

I should be finished reading several books at this point, but of course I’m not.

I’ve spent the last week reading these:

The Renaissance: A Short History by Paul Johnson

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert

I’ve especially enjoyed reading Johnson. His text flows smoothly and he provides personal descriptions of each leading historical figure like a talented novelist. I now want to have dinner with almost every person I’ve met through his pages, including Machiavelli (wouldn’t want to be friends, but dinner would be interesting).

It’s worth reading for more than his description of people. The passage of most interest to me so far has been the following:

One feature of the English scholarship, at both Oxford and Cambridge, was its spirit of criticism. This is an immensely important point, and is worth dwelling on a little. Of course the critical spirit–that is, the tendency not simply to accept texts at their face value but to examine their provenance, credentials, authenticity and contents with a wary eye–was not invented in Oxford. It was a Renaissance characteristic, and one that was to prove fatal to the unity of the church, once it was applied to sacred texts and ecclesiastical credentials. It long antedated the Renaissance, needless to say. Indeed it went back to Marcion in the second century A.D., who first subjected the canonical texts of the New Testament to careful exegesis, accepting some and rejecting others. But this kind of approach was rare in the Dark and even in the Middle Ages; it is odd that churchmen-scholars of the caliber of St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas paid so little attention to the integrity and background of the texts that came down to them, and on which they commented so copiously. But so it was. Thus the revival of the skeptical approach of Marcion was one of the most striking aspects of the recovery of antiquity and the most explosive. (p. 53)

I want to study more about how the further development  of critical thinking tactics later influenced how people during the Renaissance period thought about religion and how it affected the power of the Church. Fascinating.

I still have to read these:

Since I still need to pack and tomorrow night, I just can’t help but watch the season finale of Once Upon a Time, I’m thinking I’ll read summaries online of King Lear and Dante’s Inferno and read Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King in full. My boss specifically told me we would discuss this book because he used to assign it to his grad students as an example of engaging narrative on a topic that could potentially be dry and tedious.

If I finish a sufficient amount of reading before boarding the plane, I’m going to read the next of the Hunger Games book in the series, Catching Fire while en route. It will help me manage jet lag because I’ll have to keep reading. For the first one, I stayed up until 3:00am.:)

I’m anxious and excited all wrapped up into one. The David‘s going to be so happy to see me, finally.

 

 

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