A confession: before 2008, I didn’t care much about LDS fiction. To me, that genre meant overtly inspirational stories of mediocre literary quality that barely skim the surface of what it means to be Mormon, not to mention what it means to be human. Friends recommended a few better-than-average titles, but saying a book is “very good for Mormon lit” is a half-baked compliment at best (like the time someone told me I was “in great shape for someone with seven kids”). Angela Hallstrom’s novel-in-stories, Bound on Earth, was my first encounter with unconditionally excellent fiction written by and for Latter-day Saints. So when I picked up Dispensation, the short story anthology she edited for Zarahemla Books, my hopes were high. And I’m pleased to report that when I finished the volume, I was thoroughly satisfied. The quality of writing in this collection exceeded my already-high expectations. Its stories engaged me so completely that I felt fully gratified as a reader—even blessed. And taken as a whole, its artistic and spiritual potency leaves me deeply impressed by the talent of our very own fiction writers, not to mention excited for the future of this genre. Today, BCC welcomes Angela Hallstrom for a conversation about Dispensation and its significance in the realm of LDS fiction. (I was gonna post a photo of the cool book cover, but Steve already did. Besides, Angela is even better looking.)
As a tall woman whose garments fall about 4″ above the knee (regular, not petite size), am I obligated to wear skirts or shorts that cover the garment well, or that go all the way to the knee?
My thoughts: the church can’t be bothered to manufacture garments to fit too-tall freaks like me (update: see comments #36 and #38), I get that, totally. But, guess what, neither can any commercial clothing company. [Read more…]
Sunny Smart returns for a second guest post.
I grew up in the shadow of Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum. Phyllis was the founder of the STOP ERA movement of the ’70s and early ’80s and is largely credited for the ultimate failure of the ERA. Once the ERA had passed congress and had been sent to the states for ratification, Phyllis, the LDS church–and my mom–went into action. While we lived in California, my mom was heavily involved in STOP ERA efforts. Then, not long after moving to Utah, my mom became the Utah Director for STOP ERA. And how. [Read more…]
Part 2 of a conversation between Scott B. and MikeInWeHo. Part 1 is found here. In this episode, we discuss personal politics, the role of the Bloggernacle, MoDar, and the Gay and Mormon subcultures. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes.
This episode, as well as the first part posted earlier, addresses a broad range of topics related to the LDS Church, its policies regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, and politics. Please keep in mind that this podcast is not a position paper on the LDS Church or any of its teachings, doctrines, or public policy decisions. The commentary represents exactly what it sounds like: two guys shooting the from the hip about their personal experiences with the events of the past few years surrounding the LDS Church and political movements regarding homosexuality. [Read more…]
This is first of a two-part episode of the BCC Zeitcast. In this episode, long-time friend and guest of BCC, MikeInWeHo tells his story of how he found the Mormon Church, lost it, found it again, and has become one of the most recognized and beloved members of the Bloggernacle.
This episode, as well as the second part found here, addresses a broad range of topics related to the LDS Church, its policies regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, and politics. Please keep in mind that this podcast is not a position paper on the LDS Church or any of its teachings, doctrines, or public policy decisions. The commentary represents exactly what it sounds like: two guys shooting the from the hip about their personal experiences with the events of the past few years surrounding the LDS Church and political movements regarding homosexuality. [Read more…]
This week I’ve been in Independence, Missouri, observing the history-making 2010 World Conference of the Community of Christ. As I mentioned in a previous post, World Conference is made up of delegates elected to represent the church’s Mission Centers (roughly equivalent to LDS Stakes or Regions), meeting together to discuss and vote on the business of the church. This year, two topics have been in the forefront of the agenda: (1) the role of gay members within the church, and (2) conditions of baptism. [Read more…]
Or, putting some fun into our dysfunctional discourse on gender. If you haven’t already ready read Cynthia L.’s excellent post, please read it now before proceeding.
This post introduces a new feature called the BCC Puzzler. Consider the following situations and the questions which follow. If you think you know the answer to any of the questions, please write the answer on the back of a twenty dollar bill and send it in. And if you just paid your tithing yesterday and can’t find a twenty, please write your answer in the comments. [Read more…]
There is what looks to me like a terrific conference coming up at CGU April 23 and 24. Below I’ve attempted to paste in the information from the program. (One with eyes to see will note a lot of bloggers on this program!) Those of you able to should definitely check it out (notes will be appreciated). [Read more…]
Sex is complicated. Why we engage in it is a matter of emotion, psychology, hormones, genetics, pop culture, high culture, low culture, spirituality, love, lust, and destiny (or not). I tend to be skeptical that there is one true approach to it, but I can think of several unhealthy approaches (heck, I embody at least a couple). In our church, where belief in something like celestial sex is common (even though it is of murky doctrinal origin), I tend to think it is even more complicated. The traditional Christian approach of general disapproval of sex is more consistent, as is the modern amoral outlook. It’s appropriate (even necessary) for us to argue for and to seek a position between those two, but church members tend to adopt aspects of those approaches instead of figuring out our own path. Generally speaking, we tend to approach sexuality as if it is the most important thing on earth and, therefore, we should know as little about it as possible.
Over conference, there were two talks that focused on issues of sexual immorality in particular. Elder Holland’s Saturday afternoon address and President Monson’s Saturday evening address both referenced pornography and both offered advice regarding controlling lust (along with subsidiary issues). What I write today is going to draw on both talks, but my purpose is to get one point across that neither addressed directly. As I’ve said before, I think our discourse on sexuality is drowning in useless euphemism and misdirected effort. So, I’m going to be blunt and explain what neither of these great men were explicitly stated (although it is implied in both talks): Orgasm is not the end of your creation. [Read more…]
There I was, sitting in the Hauser Hall basement, typing a seminar paper, minding my own business, when “Josh” burst into the computer lab. Josh was a single, LDS 1st-year law student, and I was a married LDS third-year, so we didn’t really know each other that well. But we did have some friends in common, and would see each other periodically at LDSSA meetings, so he recognized me when he walked in the door. He seemed strangely agitated, like he was in possession of some juicy piece of gossip he needed to get off his chest. He saw me, and promptly approached my cubicle.
“Oh my gosh, something so funny just happened!” he exclaimed. “I have to share it with someone!”
“What?” I replied.
I first encountered Joanna Brooks during freshman orientation week at BYU in 1989–she was sitting on a table in the checkerboard quad recruiting for the Student Review, swinging her feet and looking like a pixie with her freckles and short, dark hair. She quickly gained a reputation on campus for being articulately outspoken on various social issues, and I admired her from afar. But I didn’t get to know her until my junior year, when both of us took a certain contemporary literary criticism course from a certain feminist professor. On the first day, I spotted her a few seats down (her hair was longer then–super thick and shiny), and knew this would be a class to remember. And I was right.
I’ll spare you the details of the wild, semester-long romp through Kristeva and Cixous and Jaggar (drop me an email if you want to hear about the bra burning). Instead, let me tell you about the groundbreaking multi-state event that Joanna is spearheading this month: Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour. Better yet, let Joanna tell you about it in this mini-interview we had recently: [Read more…]
Welcome to the fourth installment of our conversation about clinical depression amongst nine BCC permas. Parts I, II, and III can be found here, here and here. If you haven’t already read the series overview, please do so before proceeding. If you’re experiencing symptoms of clinical depression, contact a health care professional without delay.
So. Rather than spreading our remaining share-able dialogue across a few more posts, I’ve combined it into one. The conversation begins on the subtopic of treating depression, and segues into a discussion of gender issues relating to depression.
WARNING: This is a story that admits that some men, even Mormon men, are interested in having sex with women, and that some BYU students don’t keep the Honor Code. If these facts bother you, then don’t read this story; you will not enjoy it.
I wrote this for a writing class in 1995. At that time I was inactive but recognized that my Mormon background would be interesting to my classmates.
I saw Ellen at a party in November of 1991, and she glowed with a dark and dignified sexuality. Jameson , a former roommate of mine, was throwing a 1960s-themed costume party at his house. Most of the guests wore thrift-store Woodstock cliché to match the Grateful Dead oozing out of the speakers in another room. Ellen stood tall over the kafkans and macramé in an A-lined gogo-styled minidress with a geometric black and white pattern. A matching scarf neatly pulled her strait brown hair back, except her bangs, which hung low over dark, small eyes made darker with makeup. She wore the white knee-high boots like she had born in them. She looked, well, cool. In a room full of undergraduates hyper with the illusion of social release and the faint but palpable hope that the faded bell-bottoms and the pretense of being stoned might reveal something interesting in them that J. Crew and earnest discussions abut the Gulf War did not, Ellen radiated honesty. Her costume seemed to reveal something true about her rather than masking her identity. There was no trace of self-consciousness about her at all.
Of course, it is now impossible to look at that moment with real objectivity; the filter of the years between now and then and our common experience undoubtedly warp and color my memory. The truth is that I cannot remember Ellen ever being self-conscious about anything. We were once caught sunbathing nude by a National Park ranger, and she showed no sign of shame, defensiveness, indignation, or even titillation. The ranger’s over-polite request that we put clothes on seemed to strike her with the same moral force as a reminder to not feed the bears. Standing across the room at the party in her Nancy Sinatra boots, she may have exuded more complex and highly manipulated emotions, but if so, they are lost as I place that event in the context of our lives together. [Read more…]
Welcome to Part I of BCC’s mini-series about depression. If you haven’t already read the series overview, please do so before proceeding.
In this post, our group members introduce themselves by describing how they came to recognize depression as a problem in their life. Depression is an untidy concept, and our semantics reflect that. We use the term to describe a vast spectrum of emotional and mental states, from mild and temporary situational distress to severe and abiding pathology, and even with the help of diagnostic parameters it can be tricky to distinguish between the “normal” depression of human experience and the mood disorder called clinical depression.
[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]
Chastity and You
During World War II two soldiers, Tom and Vince, were off duty for six hours in a small French town. Both were in their early twenties and were morally clean. They sauntered about the streets in the dusk of the evening and then stopped for some food in a dimmed-out eating place. Two girls were seated at a table nearby and smiled at them in a friendly way. Before long, the girls came over to their table and started a simple conversation in broken English. Tom and Vince did not give them any encouragement and the girls finally left the eating place. However, as they arose to leave, one of the girls handed Tom a card with an address and telephone number on it. [Read more…]
Bloggernacle Classics, a Continuing Series
It is time once again for the young students of the Bloggernacle to open their notepads and prepare for study, as I present the second installment of my fledgling series, Bloggernacle Classics. You may recall the first entry revolved around the exploits of BCC’s own Aaron B., who has recently returned from the ranks of the Emeriti to grace BCC’s screen on a more regular basis. Today, my subject matter is the R-Rated Movie. However, the purpose here is history, not doctrine; therefore, the pros and cons, the virtues and evils, of R-rated movies will not be reviewed.
The XXieth installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, and here.
This week: GST, SB2, KJ, AG and SE duke it out.
On Saturday an unexpected skydiver landed in the north end zone bleachers during the Stadium of Fire and caused considerable damage to the metal bench. A 19-year old visitor sustained the brunt of the impact. The victim complained of sore arms and legs.
Adam: Told you you shouldn’t have ditched the MTC, Elder. [Read more…]
In the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave his hearers a higher law. In verses 22 and 23, we read (KJV):
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Then, a little later in verses 27 and 28, we read:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
MMiles is a long-time participant in the Bloggernacle and a participant at Segullah. We are honored to have her as our guest.
“Brandon says he’s learned the importance of serving others through his Church membership. He notes that giving meaningful service is one of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. ‘Scouting is the activity arm of the priesthood,’ he says.”
The February New Era arrived today sporting a pristine boy scout, backpack and all, prepared for a hike and perched on a large boulder. It’s the cover for the feature story, “Scouting: A Pillar Supporting the Priesthood.” At the heart of the article is the third page, a showcasing of scouts of varying ages, explaining how they find scouting and the priesthood work together. The opposite page briefly details the history of how the church chose BSA as its match.
1911 Church leaders decide that Scouting, with its spiritual background and cultural ideals, has great appeal.
And so, in 1913 the Church and BSA were married. It’s like a match made in heaven! The boys learn to serve, how to be a missionary. They gain knowledge, and build camaraderie. But, as we all know, scouting has its drawbacks: the lawsuits, extraordinary expense, extraordinary amounts of time, and its failure to adapt to modern needs, arguably unlike the Young Women’s program (unless you count video gaming).
However its biggest failure is stated plainly in the article itself, ironically one of the very reasons for which it was chosen to be the lifelong partner with the church—cultural ideals. [Read more…]
If you came to this post because the title led you to think this would be something cool about science by Steve P., you are out of luck. Instead, it is a riff on John Crawford’s post from last week entitled The Black Hole. Crawford explains convincingly how our tendency to just throw up our hands when it comes to understanding male sexuality is unproductive. We apparently are content to stumble along thinking that every single man on earth is just a hunka hunka burnin’ lust, so what are ya gonna do about it? It’s really no mystery why we continue to struggle with the same problems over and over, with no measurable progress.
Many readers will remember my Back Row series on the Doctrine and Covenants. I wanted to continue writing about the scriptures connected with Sunday School, but the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is far more complex than the Doctrine and Covenants, and I’m just an interested amateur. So I’m calling in reinforcements. This week, I’m joined by Kiskilili from Zelophehad’s Daughters, as well as Ronan, John C., and Kristine all from BCC. (Because the documents are all complicated and in some ways different, this series will focus on Hebrew Bible texts discussed in Sunday School, with Pearl of Great Price and JST texts referred to when they are of interest for the Hebrew Bible but not placed at the center of attention.)
JNS: This week’s Back Row discussion focuses on Genesis 2-3, the Hebrew Bible reading for the fourth Sunday School lesson this year. Here, we’re asked to talk about one of the most-interpreted narratives in human history, the Adam and Eve narrative. To get things started on the right note, I’d like to make the popular point that the narrative is about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. [Read more…]
This post will likely make you uncomfortable. I know that I am going to be uncomfortable writing it. [Read more…]
Suppose that you are faithful Latter-day Saint who lives in a part of the world where there are few members of the Church, and everyone knows each other–or knows someone who knows those you don’t. A small, close-knit network of several 3rd and 4th generation families and their children, minimally impacted by converts and migration.
Suppose further that your spouse is a very well-respected member of the Church–generally regarded as a highly spiritual person, faithful to temple covenants, magnifies callings, has friends in lofty local leadership positions, and serves in the ward otherwise in ways that demonstrate to all observers that he is an honest, loving, faithful Latter-day Saint, husband, and father. Suppose, however, that the truth is, your spouse is a monster who uses the gospel as a weapon to demean you, to malign you, and to compel you into submission in all areas of life. [Read more…]
The Old Testament is a fairly intimidating source of scripture as it was produced thousands of years ago by a culture that is greatly foreign to our own. The strangeness of the Old Testament text and cultural milieu is likely particularly potent for women who approach the text. Among the few things that we can say with confidence regarding the culture of Ancient Israel is that it was misogynistic. Therefore, Camille Fronk Olsen’s recent book Women of the Old Testament is best considered as a good introductory text to help teachers, particularly those interested in applying scripture to women’s lives, tackle this very difficult work.
The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.
Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning: [Read more…]
At the beginning of 2009 I published my most inflammatory post ever–the one about the church announcing the addition of an eighth value to the Young Women Personal Progress program, Virtue. I took the press release, which invited parents and leaders “to teach the doctrine of chastity and moral purity to help each young woman to be virtuous,” as an indication that the church and the Young Women program particularly were aiming to put a special emphasis on chastity. [Read more…]
The nineteenth installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
This week: an Advent treasure for you all, as we are joined (at various moments) by GST, Matt Page, “Brunhilde”, Ken Jennings, and Aaron Brown. Ronan also joined us, but his profane comments were all left on the cutting room floor (foreshadowing, perhaps, the fate of England in Group C).
From a window in Chipman Hall, a male student exposed his buttock to two University police officers who were in the area on foot patrol Nov. 30 at 11:22 p.m. A female student who witnessed the incident identified the suspect and a $300 citation was given.
Brunhilde: Which buttock? [Read more…]
Nothing like an all-destructive act of divine carpet bombing to kindle the holiday spirit. I actually debated putting off the conversation to a less celebratory time, but time, it seems, is the one luxury which we currently lack. You see, it turns out (so I’m told, by people who really seem to know what they’re talking about) that God destroys societies that embrace and normalize homosexual relationships. Since we appear to be on the brink, as a civilization, of making precisely that mistake, I figured better safe than Sodom. So, let’s get to brass tacks: why did God destroy the cities on the plains, and what might it all portend for a society (ours) where the gay agenda is spreading and taking root like a crop of rainbow dandelions? [Read more…]