Week 4 of #BikeToChurch Month

Jason and Hannah

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We’re celebrating the 4th Sunday of Bike to Church Month at ByCommoConsent. Today we have Hannah and her dad Jason of Eugene, Oregon. They ride a Co-Motion tandem bike to church. Thanks for checking in, Hannah and Jason!

There’s just one more Sunday in our month-long celebration, so hop on your bikes and send us pics! Share with us by commenting, emailing sisterblah2@gmail.com, or tweeting @bycommonconsent #biketochurch.  [Read more…]

#BikeToChurch Week 3: PeterLLC in Vienna, Austria!

DSC_3166

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Bike to Church Month continues at ByCommonConsent. Join the invigorating, meditative practice of biking to church, doing yourself and the environment a favor! Send us your pics at sisterblah2@gmail.com, or tweet @bycommonconsent #biketochurch. This week we visit BCC’s own Peter LLC in Vienna, Austria. Looking great after a 7km ride with daughter aboard. Bonus points awarded for getting the church’s standard welcome sign in the shot. Thanks, Peter!  [Read more…]

Mother’s Day #biketochurch

imageMay is Bike to Church Month at By Common Consent, and Mother’s Day is no exception. Ride your bike to church this month and share your pics with us! Today we feature Kari Waters from Syracuse, NY, very on point for Mother’s Day rocking the toddler in rear seat! [Read more…]

May is BCC Bike to Church Month: share your pics! #biketochurch

IMG_2386 I’m declaring May “Bike to Church” month at ByCommonConsent. May has good weather for biking to church in both the northern and southern hemispheres. I’d love to see photos of BCC readers biking to church. Email sisterblah2@gmail.com, or tweet them @bycommonconsent with hastag #biketochurch.
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The talk so many have been waiting for: thank you President Wixom! #ldsconf

It has been a difficult few years for me, trying to sit and listen and just be with several friends in my ward and larger circles going through acute crises of faith. The causes are varied: feelings of having been hurt by the church’s policies or actions, social alienation for having the wrong kind of family, troubling historical facts, or just feeling like they needed a break from church activity. At times I felt overwhelmed by selfish personal sense of loss of not having these friends with me at church, overwhelmed by the emotional exertion they sometimes called on me to help them bear for a time, overwhelmed by my own complex feelings and faith in a time of tension between different parts of the flock. So often talks from our leaders seemed to ignore or belittle these struggles I saw all around me and within me. Even when it was addressed in conference, it often felt oblique or keeping the doubts (and by extension the doubters) at a safe arm’s length. Speakers usually seemed to misunderstand or mischaracterize the concerns, and there was a lack of feeling like voices of this struggle were even heard, much less having an impact. Then came today’s talk by President Wixom. Wixom, tenderly quoting a woman in her ward who faced doubts and left activity for a time:

“I did not separate myself from the Church because of bad behavior, spiritual apathy, looking for an excuse not to live the commandments, or searching for an easy out. I felt I needed the answer to the question ‘What do I really believe?’”

“My testimony had become like a pile of ashes. It had all burned down. All that remained was Jesus Christ.”

[Read more…]

Thoughts on the Resurrection

Hand-444159_640I was asked to give the concluding remarks in our ward’s Easter program, held today in advance of conference next week.

In 3 Nephi, it reads:

5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

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How to teach girls in your stake computer programming

crowd

Photo by Queen Scarlett http://www.queenscarlett.com/ [2]

This is a report back on a successful Saturday activity I ran in our stake this year (what is a stake? see note at the bottom of the article). I hope to convey enough detail that others can replicate this activity in their stakes, spreading the joy and usefulness of coding far and wide! The purpose of the activity was to teach all the girls in the stake, ages 8-18, how to write computer programs, and contextualize the importance of developing divine skills (such as coding) within the gospel. In my day job, I teach computer programming to undergraduate and graduate students, and I’m passionate about broadening participation in our field to include more women and people of color. This activity was, for me, a unique opportunity to bring my professional and gospel lives together. I had a blast, and so did the girls!

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Boggs-Doniphan Non-Mormon of the Year 2014: Pope Francis

Pope Francis greets President Eyring at the Vatican.

Pope Francis greets President Eyring at the Vatican in November of 2014.

Since his ascendance as Pope, Francis has provided a bold new vision of engaged, bridge-building religious leadership in the 21st century. From brokering a detente between the United States and Cuba, to perhaps suggesting animals can also attain heaven, to taking a strong religious stance on preserving creation by stemming global warming, Pope Francis has successfully caught and held the attention of a world that had seemed to be slipping inexorably to secularism.

This has even left some Mormons, especially more liberal-minded Mormons, thinking aloud about a growing Holy Envy (or maybe just envy) of the Holy See. What could LDS leadership or LDS people learn from the Pope?  [Read more…]

Activity Day Girls Craft Idea: Binary Code Necklace

1966212_10153976095495274_3982796096946077944_oHere’s a computer science lesson and craft activity that speaks to my geeky heart.  I do it with groups of all ages, and it would be perfect for Activity Day girls. It could also work for Cub Scouts, perhaps with a hemp cord for a masculine look. It was inspired by the Code.org-sponsored “Hour of Code” event last year. The lesson plan by Thinkersmith is excellent,  and covers everything you need to know. It is comprehensive enough for someone without any computer science background to run the activity successfully. I’ll summarize a few points here, but you should go read it. The necklace craft was my own addition. My daughter is modeling her necklace in the photo at left.

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“Such a Time as This,” Remarks at Stanford Convocation

I was asked to give the faculty address at Stanford’s annual LDS Convocation, held in Stanford Memorial Church. This is the text of my remarks. Video production is by Ken Allen, posted with permission.

In Computer Science, our traditional greeting is, “Hello, world” So, “Hello, world!”

My task this evening is to join our identities as scholars and saints, and so I want to explain what I think is a particularly Mormon moral obligation we assume as members of the Stanford community. [Read more…]

Sunday PM Extra Innings Thread

I understand some of you spent last night watching some game where guys run around carrying a ball that isn’t even spherical, when you could have been watching an epic Giants-Nationals game that ran the longest in MLB post-season history: 18 innings for the Giants win. The game clocked in at 6 hours 23 minutes, shattering the previous playoffs record by over half an hour. And here we gather for hours 7 and 8 of the general sessions of General Conference weekend….

As a reminder, all comments on this thread will be moderated by me. Giants fans only, please.

Play ball!

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Shazam for Hymns, and other LDS app brainstorm ideas

Shazam-Auto_webIs it just me, or has the LDS library app become a bit cumbersome to navigate? If I preload the Screens with one screen each of Hymns, Old Testament (or current Sunday School scripture book), Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith (or current RS/PH manual), and Children’s Songbook, then it’s more manageable. But if I ever stray away from that structure within a screen, heaven help me try to go through layers and layers of library menus to get to the hymn we’re singing sooner than about verse 3 (yes, our ward enjoys wonderfully at tempo Sacrament meeting chorister and organist!).

As I was sitting at the back of the overflow in Stake Conference last Sunday, without a program, struggling to identify and then pull up the hymn we were singing, I had the Eureka! moment: my phone should just be able to hear the organ’s opening notes or measures, and pull up the corresponding page of lyrics. Shazam for Hymns, if you will.

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How much is “too much”?

Julie M. Smith has a thoughtful and measured look at some comments by Elder Ballard (clip or full) that have been garnering some attention. I’m inclined to be forgiving of a man who has consistently spoken out in favor of council-based decision-making that includes women, and I agree with Julie that several interpretations are possible and it is unclear if he was attempting a joke. However, whether a joke or serious, clearly there is some feeling that “too much” is a threshold that could be crossed, or he wouldn’t have said it. So, either way, the interesting question is, how much is too much?

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Embracing and magnifying our MBA culture!

Sisters' Meeting Broadcast Flyer A common complaint of recent decades, from both within and without the church, is that the church leadership culture is too corporate. Complainants say there is too much of an MBA aesthetic, as opposed to, say, some ideal of religious leadership that exudes a more Zen, ascetic, or monastic sensibility. Not me! I wish we took the MBA theme just a little bit further! Case study: a flyer for a Europe area “Sisters’ Meeting” featuring photos of three headline speakers, all of them male.[1]

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This will have no effect on Internet Mormonism. It’s much worse than that.

I dearly hope we can yet step back from the brink, but assuming Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are excommunicated, I predict it will have no effect on Internet Mormonism. There will be anguish, bickering, and loads of clicks, but the world of Internet Mormonism will go on unchanged. The Bloggernacle vs “Nothing Wavering” vs anti-Mormon lines were etched in stone long ago; we’ve long since self-sorted into a stable system, and that system isn’t going anywhere. Neither will there be much of a chilling effect, because there is simply no way the church can discipline every blogger, and it’s not going to happen. But don’t call me a Pollyanna. My prediction is that the outcome will be much, much worse than the loss we would suffer if Internet Mormonism were damaged in some way.

Instead, the outcome will be great damage to bricks-and-mortar Mormonism.  [Read more…]

Why I speak up: our responsibilities as farm hands for the Shepherd

Last week, Karen wrote a wrenching and important post about her observation that many women she has always known as faithful, devoted Latter-day Saints seem to be throwing in the towel on formal activity. It wasn’t a post about rumored statistics or surveys. It was a personal post about her friends, about women she loves.

[Read more…]

Your Late Night Firestorm: While the men were inside Priesthood Session…

From the comments section at KSL:

“I went to Tai Pan Trading for the bi-annual Ladies Night they have every conference weekend. The store was full to the rafters with women acting like…well acting like women who rapsodized over plates, wreaths, vases and easter decorations. Many were with at least 3 if not 4 generations of women. Grandmas, Mothers, daughters and granddaughters. They laughed together, asked each other for opinions on home decor ideas, and had a great time. It was a sisterhood of women shoppers, doing only what other women can understand. Any man would have felt like a total fish out of water at Ladies Night, just as I would feel at Priesthood Meeting.

I know a night of shopping for home decor seems trivial, and it is, but what lies behind it has a greater meaning. For most of us, home is where the heart is. We receive our greatest rewards and power within our homes and families.

I’m all for women who want to go for the board room. Do it, if that is what you want, but don’t drag me into by assuming that is surely what I want. It isn’t. I was proud to be a part of the sisterhood at Tai Pan tonight. After getting through the long checkout line, I had to hurry home so I could hang my new spring wreath on the front door. It looks beautiful.”

Discuss.

What’s wrong with this picture? More men in women’s meeting than women in general sessions of conference

I was talking to a friend about these images of gender imbalance in the speaking parts in General Conference. In trying to convey how alienating such an overwhelmingly male meeting can be for women in the audience, I posed this hypothetical: if there were a meeting as female as general conference is male, would men in the audience perceive it as a meeting for them, that related to them, where they felt comfortable and welcome? Or would they perceive it to be a women’s meeting? [1]

It occurred to me that this isn’t merely a hypothetical. We do have a meeting that is mostly female, the annual Relief Society meeting. Although we understand it to be a women’s meeting, there is actually more male participation in this “women’s” meeting than there is female participation in the meetings that are supposed to be for women as much as they are for men, the general sessions of conference. This is illustrated in a newly updated infographic (click to enlarge):

GeneralConferenceInfographic.RS
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Judge Robert Shelby: 2013 Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year

The Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year award honors the non-Mormon who had the greatest impact on Mormonism, for good or ill, during the year. (See that other blog for Mormon of the Year.) The previous winners are John Turner, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, Judge Vaughn Walker, Stephen Colbert, and Mike Huckabee. There’s no need for nominations and voting this year. This happened:

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“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: about 20 kilograms of honey!

Marco Petrollini believes in God, family, and country–Italy. He’s an architect and project manager and father of four young children. He keeps bees in his backyard vegetable garden, and finds much to admire in their selfless work ethic. So often in the church we think of the God-family-country trifecta in narrow terms of American exceptionalism, so I loved seeing how Marco proudly and naturally owned those themes as a Mormon and an Italian man. Meet Marco:


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“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Rock climbing and the gospel

We return from summer vacation with a pair of videos about my favorite summertime activity: rock climbing. Meet Matthieu Bennasar, who heads up an IT security consultancy and escapes the pressure of his job by climbing up sheer, vertical rock faces (it really is very stress-relieving, trust me).

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“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Lindsey Stirling overcomes anorexia to be music phenom

You’ve probably heard about dancing, cosplaying, YouTube sensation violinist Lindsey Stirling. Her fanciful creations include enchanting ice caves, Lord of the Rings medley in New Zealand, and Zelda medley in quite convincing Zelda costume. Her live tour recently brought her here to San Diego, to the ecstatic delight of my coworkers, self-described biggest fans of Lindsey. Lindsey’s Mormon.org video reveals how she has battled eating disorders and other challenges in her career. Meet Lindsey:

[Read more…]

“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Rural artist and world traveler

I’ve always fantasized about living on a farm, going out daily to check on my henhouse with a trusty dog ever at my heels. The lifestyle enables eating homegrown food, and embracing the raw physicality, smells, and textures of the natural world. When Kathy Peterson says, “I’m in heaven,” I believe it. The icing on the cake: to keep her children open to the world, she takes them traveling. Meet Kathy:

[Read more…]

“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Football-loving barrister

Lola is a barrister in training, working in the prosecutor’s office in London. She’s a huge football fan (check out the victory dance at 3:24) whose own career in the game was cut short by a major surgery to treat severe scoliosis just as she was set to accept a soccer scholarship at an American university. Meet Lola:

[Read more…]

Updated! General Conference Infographic (now with women praying)

GeneralConferenceInfographicApril6

(Hey, it’s better than the original.)

Ask and it shall be given

Ask and it shall be given;

Seek and ye shall find;

Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

[Read more…]

“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Violin maker in Vienna

This month we feature a violin maker who lives in Vienna. She’s passionate about her craft. She is a loving aunt to her nieces and nephews. Meet Henriette:

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“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: A physicist and a biologist

This month we feature a pair of videos: Physicist Dr. Ngo, and Geneticist Dr. Livingstone.


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TAREFIC SCANDAL ROCKS BLOGGERNACLE

(h/t Ziff of ZDs)

(h/t Ziff of ZDs)

By changing the name to Tarefic/Wheaties awards, W&T might have thought they could leave the long history of scandal that plagued the Niblets awards behind, but. they. were. WRONG. Ladies and gentlemen, a scandal of the likes not seen since Banner of Heaven has rocked the Bloggernacle to its very foundation. [Read more…]

From the archives: General Conference Infographic in Pink and Blue

This post from 2012 has become topical again due to All Enlisted’s new campaign on the issue. The original comments thread may be viewed here. This is the second in a series of archive posts on the topic [#1].

I really enjoyed working on various reinterpretations the Newsroom’s “Lay Leadership in the LDS Church” infographic. So I decided to try my hand at reinterpreting lds.org’s infographic about General Conference. Here is what I came up with:

Click to view full size.


[Read more…]

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