Ward boundaries: thinking beyond geography and singles wards

Recently the Manhattan stake where I live has undergone a surge of growth.  In response to the influx of new members, new wards have been created, buildings have been erected, and there is every appearance that the stake will soon divide. 

The surge of members in New York City is undoubtedly exciting.  But these members are also shaping a Mormon community that looks scarcely like the one I grew up in.  The majority of these members are, like me, young singles, newly weds, or parents of young children who come to the city to pursue school or professional goals.  They are also unlikely to settle in NYC permanently.  Even those who do stay in the city for several years often switch apartments frequently and thus migrate from one ward to another.  If NYC wards are anything, they are resoundingly transitory phenomenons, with congregations whose faces change almost monthly as huge intern populations come and go. [Read more…]

Harry Potter, fragmentary reading, and church history

Over the past few days my husband and I substituted Harry Potter for our nightly scripture reading. [Read more…]

Speaking from experience: a technique that often limits me

For a long time I have struggled to figure out how to frame the comments I make within and about the church so that they seem supportive but might also lead to what I would deem as positive changes in our church culture. For a while now, I have operated on the model that couching my comments in terms of personal experience works best using the logic that while it is easy to argue with a person’s philosophical stance, it is hard to argue with how they feel about an issue or perceive an event they experience. For example, when I wished to explain to someone why I felt that the church could use more revelation on gender, I would explain to him/her how I felt great pain when I realized that I would not receive the priesthood, when I watched the young men receive much more attention than the young women, or when I could not learn about what the General Authorities told my Stake President about the state of the stake, since only the priesthood was invited to hear the news. [Read more…]

If I can only take my knowledge with me, then can I take Google?

Normally, I’m not one for speculating about the afterlife. Clearly, how we think about it informs the decisions we make here – in fact, what we think about the afterlife most likely reflects what principles we most value – but I often find discussions about it a little futile. However, I find one phrase frequently repeated and agreed upon: “You can’t take your property with you, only your knowledge and talents.” [Read more…]

Animals among us

Although Sam already beat me to a post on animals in the gospel, I’m adding the one I prepared to the conversation surrounding his post . . .

Last month my dog, Blitzen, passed away. To lose a beloved pet – and to recognize in its absence how deeply its life was intertwined with one’s daily routine – is to realize that it is possible to have a more intimate relationship with an animal than I will ever have with the majority of people I meet. [Read more…]

Modern scripture: exploring our relationships to holy works

Although I believe that the single most powerful concept in the LDS faith is the principle of continuing revelation, I have lately begun to wonder why we have ceased to be a scripture creating people. Certainly, I have heard the argument that we should treat the apostles’ words as scripture, but these words do not appear to me to be granted the same weight within our church as our canonical texts – The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. [Read more…]

Fashion statements: dress as communication

Quite recently, Levi Peterson wrote a post entitled “Don’t Come to my House in a Shirt and Tie.” This provocative post and the fascinating comments about it clearly signaled how standards for dress remain one of the most contested spaces as we attempt to negotiate our identities as church members. Struggles over what constitutes respectful and modest clothing, and the related struggles over whether the paradigm of “modesty” dis-empowers more than empowers women and is culturally relative or not, continually surface as sites for everything from adolescent rebelliousness, to deep explorations of our spirituality, to humanitarian causes. [Read more…]

Beyond peace and calm: daring to experience the spirit in novel ways

A remarkable thing occurred in my Sunday school class this week: we reached consensus. While we all acknowledge that there is no right way to feel the spirit, we all concurred that the spirit was accompanied by peace, calmness, and quiet. [Read more…]