One Hundred Hours of Solitude

Two weeks ago today my world changed. After a relatively quick and easy delivery, we welcomed our first child into our family. I was surprised by the experience of labor and delivery, having expected the worst agony and trauma of my life and instead having only a few hours of pain followed by excited nervousness and a few quick pushes. (yes, I realize how lucky I am, don’t hate me). Even the afterpains were overshadowed by the joy of staring at my little guy and calling him by his name for the first time, or seeing him quiet in Patrick’s arms, searching his face like a long-lost friend. [Read more...]

Ana mish ‘ayza my MTV

Over the weekend, Viacom launched the new MTV Arabia with much excitement and a publicity blitz in the Middle East that left one’s head reeling. While music videos are nothing new to the Arab market (and quite a few of them more risqué than one would think), it will be interesting to see what kind of impact MTV has on this region. When I think about the effects that it might bring though, I have to admit I am being selfish and thinking more of how it will affect me than the Egyptian society I am living in.

When I get together with other women in Cairo, the topic of conversation almost always turns to the sexual harassment that is a part of everyday life here. No woman is immune, from graying grandmothers to pregnant twentysomethings. Arab women complain of getting harassed to a point as well, but it’s mainly limited to catcalls. That’s what I was prepared for when I arrived here. Catcalls I can deal with, leering I can learn to ignore. But there’s a vibe that’s very difficult to explain but that is felt by many Western women when they are harassed here. The best way I can think of to describe it is instead of getting the usual sense of disrespect and chauvinism, there is rather a clear feeling of proposition and expectation. To try and illustrate this, it’s one thing to be walking down the street with men whistling as you pass. That can be explained away by machismo and bad form. But when a man chases a woman all the way down the street and into her apartment building, then is truly and honestly shocked when she is terrified and angry, there’s clearly a miscommunication going on. [Read more...]

Baptism by the Red Sea

October_2007_img_0581_2A few weeks after we arrived in Cairo, we were invited to a baptism. A boy in the branch had turned eight and wanted to be baptized…in the Red Sea. (Take that, tepid baptism font by the Relief Society room!) My mind was blown by this, the Red Sea! Wow! I’ve heard of people getting baptized in Lake Michigan or the Mississippi River, but—no disrespect intended—that ain’t no Red Sea. [Read more...]

Make Haste Towards Prayer

September_2007_minaretsSeveral times a day, I open our windows and listen as voices begin floating over the city. I look over the tops of apartment blocks and dusty buildings, over the many minarets and palm trees, and I visualize the calls to prayer. I imagine the voices as drops of water sprinkling over the city, spreading in little circles until they meet each other with soft bumps and then continue on, blending and flowing. The song sounds mystical to me, all words I don’t understand sung in dozens of different voices, different tones, different distances from me. Each of them from a single man in one of the graceful spires that shoot up across the skyline, claiming that part of the city for its own. [Read more...]

Chapter Three

Last week we left South Bend. We packed up the car and drove away in the early morning, familiar sights getting smaller in the rearview. We had each come to this place years ago separately and for our own reasons but last week we left together. We drove home to Texas to spend time with loved ones and relax a little, our own brief island of calm between packing up the house and unpacking it again an ocean away.

Today we fly out of the country to embark on our new adventure. Moving to Egypt. I hear it’s hot. [Read more...]

“He Has Heard Our Prayers”

June 8, 1978

To all general and local priesthood officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world:

Dear Brethren:

As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.

Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.

We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.

Sincerely yours,

SPENCER W. KIMBALL
N. ELDON TANNER
MARION G. ROMNEY

[Read more...]

Further Light & Knowledge

This week at BCC, we are pleased to commemorate the 1978 revelation on the priesthood which extended the priesthood offices to all worthy males, regardless of race. Through a joint effort with Dialogue, we will be looking back at the ban on black church members holding the priesthood through a series of posts that use the lenses of history, culture and memory to help us understand this part of our church history. [Read more...]

The Culture of Poverty and Retention

Anecdotally, it seems to be the case in this country that missionaries have greater success among the poor. In our ward, all the adult baptisms that I can recall in recent years have involved people living in or near poverty. The charitable would say that this is because the poor are more humble and receptive to the gospel while the cynical would say the poor are more needy and receptive to the promise of welfare. The motivations the poor have for joining the church are not what I’m seeking to explore. What I want to know is why, in South Bend and in wards across the country, can we not seem to retain our poorer brothers and sisters? [Read more...]

The Culture of Poverty

Last week, my book group met to discuss our latest pick. The memoir we had just read dealt with poverty, specifically, children growing up in poverty. In our discussion, we found that we were all frustrated with the decisions made by the parents in the book, decisions that any one of us (middle-class, college-educated women) would immediately classify as irrational.

One of the first questions–spoken or unspoken–that people ask when they see poverty is, “Why don’t you just get a job?” [Read more...]

Of Eggs and Witch Doctors

Several months ago I was sitting in a San Antonio airport, waiting to board a flight back home after an enjoyable week with my family in South Texas. I looked up at a girl walking past the gate and started laughing. She was wearing a black t-shirt that said “I’m okay, my grandma rubbed an egg on me.”

When I was around six years old, my grandma rubbed an egg on me too. [Read more...]

Did You Watch a Man Die?

If I ruled the world, I would get rid of chain e-mails altogether and devise a special form of torture for those who send them. The e-mails are rarely funny, usually vaguely sexist or racist, and insulting to one’s intelligence. Last week at work I received one that was especially tasteless. It contained a gif titled Saddam’s Cat which shows a cat batting at dangling legs. I was in a coworker’s office with several other people when she opened the e-mail. Laughs all around. A few hours later, someone sent around an e-mail with the video of Saddam’s hanging attached. A quick search showed that millions of people have logged into YouTube or Google and watched Saddam Hussein die. Have you? [Read more...]

Though this dwelling is poor…

Growing up in South Texas, my childhood was peppered with the colorful traditions of my Mexican heritage. Listening to mariachis at every restaurant, funeral, and midnight mass, learning folklorico dancing in my Catholic elementary, being constantly patted by old women to ward off el ojo, the evil eye. The vibrant mixture of religion and Mexican folk culture is something I’ve missed since leaving the Rio Grande Valley six years ago.

There have been quite a few discussions on the Bloggernacle lately about holiday traditions. Reading about your traditions inspired me to look up my own personal favorite and see if it existed anywhere nearby. So I googled “candlelight posada” and the entire first page of entries that popped up referred me to McAllen, my hometown. Years ago, as a sullen high school student waiting to leave my podunk town, I would have never dreamed that McAllen had the corner on the market of such a beautiful Christmas experience. [Read more...]

Steady as she goes…

Last night I realized Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Immediately after this realization, I started googling turkey like a crazy person. I explored all things turkey, from turkey recipes (my original intent) to voting on the name for the turkey being pardoned at the White House (despite the absurdity of the ritual). I even clicked on the Visit Turkey websites just out of curiosity and went to bed determined to make Turkey our summer destination.

This year, I have decided to make Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. That’s right, despite the multitudes of people telling me I am crazy, in over my head, and have no idea what I’m doing, I’m going for it anyway. I envision a colorful Thanksgiving feast, bright cranberry sauce, steaming golden turkey, all laid out on an immaculately decorated table. My guests will ooh and ahh as I stand back like a proud mama and watch Patrick carve the turkey. I might even be wearing an apron, a floral one. [Read more...]

“Definitions will greet us as liberators”

Wikiality. A few months ago Stephen Colbert invented this word while praising Wikipedia for having a longer listing for “truthiness“ than it did for Lutherans. I have to echo his enthusiasm. Wikipedia serves a wonderful purpose in that it spares me the embarrassment of admitting when I don’t know something. Rather than having to ask someone and get a raised eyebrow in response, I just type in a few words and the wonderful world of Wiki enlightens me.

What was up with that huge red moon that appeared for a night last month? It’s called a hunter’s moon! In the event of nuclear war, will cockroaches really inherit the earth? Thankfully, no. They’re no more resistant to radiation than a fruit fly. There’s even an entry for “why.” Next time your 3-year-old asks that question, just refer them to Wikipedia. [Read more...]

Is adoption more ethical?

Patrick and I have been married almost two years now, which means we’ve started getting the inevitable question “when are you going to have a baby?” As annoying as this is, we don’t mind so much. This ward knew Patrick when he first started his graduate work, while he was single and dating women not as cool as me, and then they watched as I starting investigating, then joined the church, as Patrick and I became friends, started dating, and finally got married. They’ve been with us the whole way, so it’s only natural that they’re waiting for the next step.

So a few weeks ago, we were talking about the next step and Patrick mentioned that he wondered if adoption would be more ethical than having a child. I was floored. Initially, I think I was insulted. I mean, come on. I am woman, I have the potential to create and bring forth life. Bow down to me! [Read more...]

They got one thing right…

Melissa is a self proclaimed loud and proud Texan who left that great state to attend Notre Dame, where she studied Political Science & European Studies and also where she joined the Church and married the illustrious Patrick Mason. After graduation, she worked with the local homeless population and became interested in issues of poverty. Melissa has taken the last few months to “find herself” and pursue art, selling her first painting earlier this month. She also looks forward to an Irish national championship. She will be joining us for the next few weeks. Welcome!

I’ve been called a bad Catholic before. Quite a few times actually. I’ve also been called a bad Mexican, but I’ll save that for another post.

Having grown up in an almost entirely Hispanic (read: almost entirely Catholic) town on the border, my childhood memories are filled with incense, candlelight posadas, and gory stories of saints burning at the stake. My entire education from day care through college save my years in high school was spent in Catholic schools. Because of this, I’m usually the one people turn to and ask “what do the Catholics think about that?” My usual answer: “Heck if I know.” [Read more...]

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