The blessings of the priesthood

On Sunday my younger son, age 14, was ordained a teacher in the Aaronic priesthood. His older brother, who has been a priest for about six months, performed the ordination. It was my husband’s idea; when he was a priest, he had ordained his younger brother as a teacher. It’s not uncommon for teenage priests to perform what ordinances they’re authorized to do—e.g. baptism—for their younger siblings, even when there’s a priesthood-holding father in the picture; I think most families want their boys to take advantage of such opportunities. In my husband’s case, there was no father in the home; his mother had been widowed more than a decade earlier. Ordaining his brother had been a memorable experience for him, and he wanted our son to have the same chance.

Our 16-year-old did very well. I could tell that he was a little nervous, but he gave his brother a very nice blessing. (More importantly, he didn’t screw anything up and have to repeat it, as so often happens with stuff like sacrament prayers. Not that my son has ever screwed up a sacrament prayer!) Afterward, as we walked out of the bishop’s office, my husband turned to our older son and said, “I can honestly say that that was better than doing it myself.” That was a thing I had wondered about. There will be plenty of opportunities for a young man to exercise his priesthood throughout his life; a father only has so many kids and so many such milestones. But there is a different kind of satisfaction in witnessing your child take on adult responsibilities. [Read more…]

March 2017 General Women’s Session: Charity Still Not Failing

How many of you attended the women’s session of General Conference on Saturday? There were not many bums in the pews at my stake center, and even fewer bums in the plastic chairs set up in the overflow. That may be par for the course in many areas, but women’s session in our stake tends to be pretty well attended, even though (like all the sessions) it’s available streaming live, online, in the comfort of one’s home. Most LDS women I know are more than happy to take advantage of an excuse to get out of the house, even if it is church (and even if they do feel morally obligated to drag along their 8-year-old girl children now).

I imagine the severely reduced attendance was due primarily to Spring Break starting Friday afternoon and people being out of town. But even the women who were in town seemed hardly aware of women’s session happening at all, much less interested in going. It probably means nothing, except that conference is kind of boring and now that the stake Relief Society no longer does a big shindig in connection with it (they used to do dinner/appetizers/dessert/ice cream sundae bars, plus an excruciatingly long “Laurel appreciation”), people are less inclined to bother putting on a skirt and trekking to the church building. [Read more…]

Book review(ish): Carol Lynn Pearson’s The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy

33bb98d31532c5a93920dabfe0ff91efThe Ghost of Eternal Polygamy by Carol Lynn Pearson was released earlier this year, but as I do not have a voracious appetite for all books Mormon, I did not get around to reading it until this month. I’d like to blame Christmas for me not posting about it until now, but the fact is that I love reading books and hate writing book reviews. I like reading and writing about stuff that interests me, and polygamy interests me. (Interest being the kindest verb I could use in this context.) So maybe this post will not be so great as book reviews go, but it is a post about a book about polygamy, and maybe that will suffice for enough of you.

What you must bear in mind if or when you read The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy is that Carol Lynn Pearson is a poet, not a scholar. This is not to say that Pearson doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that she hasn’t studied the relevant issues. Obviously, she has. But she approaches this project as part memoir, part meditation on what polygamy means to contemporary Mormons and what is required to build what she calls a “partnership Zion,” rather than a patriarchal one. [Read more…]

M is for the many things she gave me

Before we were married I told my husband that when we had children, I wanted to stay home with them. It never really occurred to me that I would do otherwise. I like to think that I was not particularly brainwashed into this decision by my Mormon upbringing. I don’t know. As a youth, I rebelled pretty strongly against the cultural, sometimes pseudo-doctrinal message that women belonged in the home. From a young age, I assumed that I would have a career. I didn’t want to have kids, probably because my mother had five children for whom she was the full-time caregiver, and I saw firsthand how difficult it was for her. I didn’t assume that I could do it better. I assumed it would probably kill me. [Read more…]

The ground game is in our hearts

I’ve tried to write a coherent post-election post, but nothing comes together. It’s probably because I still haven’t decided what to make of the result. I was as shocked as the next person (unless the next person was Bill Mitchell) that Trump won, and so decisively too. Like a lot of folks, I really underestimated the number of white voters. In my defense, I don’t do this for a living. But I feel more than a little silly for having overlooked the most relevant fact: both candidates were about equally disliked and distrusted, and the one who was currently in the spotlight always suffered for it. Apparently, Trump’s campaign managers managed in the last week to do what they’d failed to do for the previous 15 months—take his iPhone away so he couldn’t Tweet something stupid to distract people from whatever was happening with Hillary. I guess I didn’t notice because I gave up on this election in July. [Read more…]

How (not) to plan a missionary activity

I know that a lot of people have strong feelings about Trunk or Treat activities. (For those of you who don’t know what Trunk or Treat is, it’s when a bunch of adults park their cars in one place on Halloween and lure children to their trunks with candy. It’s actually pretty messed up, when you think about it.) I do not have strong feelings about Trunk or Treat, or rather, I don’t really understand my own feelings about Trunk or Treat because I can’t separate them from my feelings about Halloween in general. As a child, I loved Halloween, as all children do. As a teenager I completely lost interest in it, and as an adult I can hardly stand it. I recognize that this is a personal failing. I have never attempted to deprive my children of the joy that Halloween can bring, because I know how important Halloween is to kids. Just because I hate it and think it’s a pain in the neck doesn’t mean I want to spoil it for everyone else. But mention Trunk or Treat to me, and the only reaction I can dredge up is “gah, more Halloween.” So I don’t know if Trunk or Treats are inherently good or bad, or if they’re potentially good or bad depending on certain variables. I just know that they’re part of Halloween and so I don’t care.

I say all this by way of disclaimer because my post today is not about Trunk or Treat per se, but it involves Trunk or Treat, and I just don’t want people to lose focus. Put your feelings about Trunk or Treat on the back burner and listen to (read) my tale. [Read more…]

General Women’s Meeting: ‘Cause you gotta have faith (and also charity)

Beknownst to some, and unbeknownst to others, Saturday was the first session of General Conference, the semi-annual General Women’s Meeting. Did you go? I did. I wouldn’t have, but I knew that if I didn’t, no one else would recap the meeting for BCC and its gentle readers. Once again, I am working from notes, not transcripts, so please forgive any inaccuracies, unattributed quotes, etc., usw. I am just trying to give you a general feel of this General Meeting. Interestingly enough, there were no special video presentations breaking up the talks this time. I wonder if they’ve completely given up on making the meeting eight-year-old-friendly. Or maybe the General A/V Guy was sick. Your guess is as good as mine. On to the meeting!

For those of you not already in the know (or the beknownstment), Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President, was conducting. The First Presidency was in the house. (Like, the whole thing. All three guys.) A choir made up of women and teenage women (no “tween” women that I could see) dressed in various shades of pink that looked like a sea of Pepto Bismol from afar (but not in a bad way) graced us with a rousing rendition of “Arise, O Glorious Zion.” (Actually, I don’t recall if it was rousing or not, exactly. I just like to say “rousing rendition,” particularly for songs that begin with the word “Arise.” I am resisting the temptation to make further plays on words. You, of course, may do what you feel. It’s not like we’re in the chapel or anything.) Bonnie Goodliffe was at the organ. [1] [Read more…]

You’ve given this program a bad name

Brothers and sisters, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted at BCC, and I won’t lie to you: the neglect has been due to a lack of will and a lack of inspiration. But something’s been bothering me for a long time, and I’m finally going to write about it here because I’ve hit the breaking point. I can no longer pretend that I support the status quo. There’s something wrong in Mormondom, and it must change.

“Activity Days.”

I’m not talking about the Activity Days program itself, although goodness knows its shortcomings are legion. But baby steps, first things first: that name, “Activity Days,” is a horrible, stupid name for a program. Yes, the program itself desperately needs improvement. Activity Day leaders across the church do their best, working with miniscule budgets and almost zero guidance. But I think the name itself demonstrates why the program is so substandard. What a slapdash affair that planning meeting must have been. [1] [Read more…]

ICYMI: General Women’s Meeting, March 2016

refugee-choirYou may not have realized it, what with all the spring break and Easter and whatnot going on, but General Conference did begin on Saturday with the General Women’s Session. I came very close to not attending this session myself since a) it had been a long time since I’d actually enjoyed one, and b) I didn’t feel like getting dressed and going to church. (Yes, I know it’s on the interwebs now, but I don’t have the self-discipline to spend my Saturday night in front of a computer watching church, of all things. Watching cat videos, maybe. Maybe.)

But tradition is a hard thing to resist. [Read more…]

Does the thought make reason stare?

I am strictly a Star Trek dilettante, but one of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I’ve seen all the way through is one called “The Outcast,” in which Riker falls in love with a member of an androgynous humanoid society called the J’naii. It is forbidden love because the J’naii have evolved beyond gender and consider male-female sexual-relating as primitive and an abomination.

Riker thinks this particular J’naii, named Soren, is really a woman because she (um, they? Xe? I don’t recall the Enterprise addressing the pronoun issue) just seems like a woman–i.e. she has fine features and a high voice and also, she’s played by a female actor–that helps a lot–but Soren is all like, “That’s not how we J’naii roll,” and Riker’s like, “Oh no, baby, I think that is how you roll,” and she/xe’s all like, “Yeah, you’re right, that’s how I roll”–and so they fall in love and maybe get it on or at least kiss the way men and women sometimes do. (I don’t really remember. How it was on the show, I mean.) Anyway, the rest of the J’naii get wind of this disgusting display of heterosexuality and they are not cool with it because–I bet you can guess why, but I’ll tell you anyway–gender dichotomy will lead to the breakdown of their society. Every J’naii knows this. Only sicko pervs like Riker would dare question it. [Read more…]

Families are people, my friend

During October’s General Conference, I noticed a couple different speakers make reference to being part of multi-generational Mormon families. This hearkened back to a training video that the church released a few months ago, during which Elder Bednar talked about the importance of multi-generational families. “The basic purpose of all we teach and all that we do in the church,” said Elder Bednar, “is to make available the priesthood authority and gospel ordinances and covenants that enable a man and woman and their children to be sealed together and happy at home. Period. Exclamation point. End of sentence. That’s it.” He went on to say that “in the savior’s restored church on the earth today, multi-generational families are a primary source of spiritual strength and continuity.” He then compared the impact of multi-generational families to small seedlings in a large forest. “A young seedling develops into a mature tree and produces seeds that fall to forest floor. As conditions are right, the new seeds germinate, begin to grow and the cycle is renewed.” [Read more…]

Extreme make-over: sacrament meeting edition

EmJen’s post of yore about a suggested ban on electronic devices and food in sacrament meeting inspired a great many comments, most to the effect of “We’re only surfing our phones and eating crackers because church is so frigging boring!” Some commenters argued that if you find sacrament boring, you need an attitude adjustment because you get out what you put in, etc. It’s a common refrain in Mormonism: “If you have a problem, the problem is you.”

Well, sometimes the problem is you. Actually, I’m a big believer in first assuming that the problem is you. Whether this is healthy or not, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I’ll ask my psychiatrist next time I see her. At any rate, looking at yourself first is usually a good idea, given that the only behavior you can control is your own. Even when something isn’t your fault, what can you do about it? Yes, exactly the right question–what can you do about it? It all comes back to you, in the end. There’s not much getting around that. [Read more…]

My family: a proclamation to the world

My Facebook feed tells me it’s the 20-year anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, so I thought it would be appropriate to write something about the family. I’ve been thinking a lot about the family lately. My family, I mean. (What family were you thinking of?) It’s been eighteen years and four months since Brother J and I started the family, and I guess this is as good a time as any to let you all know how it’s going.

The good:

Everyone is finally toilet trained. Which is pretty impressive, considering our youngest is only nine. (She was actually the prodigy of the family, fully trained both day and night at four and a half. We thought of having her tested for giftedness, but we were too busy enjoying our diaper-free lifestyle to get around to it.)

No one is pregnant. Especially not me.

Everyone is capable of sitting quietly in sacrament meeting. They don’t even need snacks. (Unless Tic Tacs count as snacks, in which case, screw you, at least it’s not an iPad.) In the event that one of them is incapable of sitting quietly in sacrament meeting, she is capable of removing herself to the foyer. Okay, sometimes I have to give her a little nudge. Or shove, if you will. But I don’t have to pick her up and carry her out anymore, which is awesome because although she’s short for her 17 years, she’s still way too big for me to lift. [Read more…]

Improve the Sabbath moments

Do you like that title? It just came to me. (It’s a play on Hymn #226–GET IT?) I’ve been interested to see what comes of this new Keep the Sabbath Day (Better) campaign the church has started. The first thing I saw was this meme about how the Sabbath should look different, feel different, sound different. As much as I endorse the idea of the Sabbath being different, I’m kind of cutesy-Pinterest-memed out these days. I’m a terrible human being, but it makes me kind of nuts that all gospel teachings are instantly transformed into some attractive design you can tweet or post on Facebook. (Personally, I’d rather not read the words of God’s prophets out of context and randomly chopped into different fonts and sizes and pasted against the image of someone standing on a cliff, but different strokes, I guess.) Besides which– [Read more…]

A Primary lesson on the priesthood

I was asked to substitute teach my nine-year-old daughter’s Primary class last Sunday. Coincidentally, my 9-year-old was also supposed to give a talk in Primary that day. Saturday evening, I remembered that I had still not prepared my lesson, which was supposed to be “Jesus Christ Used His Priesthood Power to Bless Others.” I had been putting it off, mainly because I am lazy, but also because I don’t like giving lessons on the priesthood, as it is a topic fraught with…problems, I guess–for me, not necessarily for anyone else. And probably especially not for children. I never worry about how the children are going to react to a particular lesson, at least not since I realized they forget everything that happened in class as soon as they leave the room. I only worry about my ability to not be completely uncomfortable for 45 minutes while I attempt to teach things I don’t understand or believe. That sounds a bit dramatic. It’s probably less provocative to say that I have a great deal of ambivalence about the priesthood. Anyway, that’s what was on my brain while I was procrastinating. Also procrastinating was my daughter, who does not like giving talks or preparing them. I don’t like giving talks or preparing them either, but what I like even less is helping children prepare talks. [Read more…]

Even beauty queens are more than just their looks

Not Ms. Virginia–just a simple girl in a modest bathing suit.

Yesterday a friend drew my attention to this Deseret News article about Bekah Pence, the newly-crowned Ms. Virginia United States. A good portion of the article is devoted to Bekah’s efforts to remain modest while competing in the pageant. For example, she was the only contestant to wear a one-piece suit during the swimsuit competition. (And she still won! #GuardiansOfVirtue) She describes how important it was to her to stay true to the church’s standards of dress.

“I’m a firm believer in not just being modest, but you can also be absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, not just beautiful,” she said. “I feel like girls don’t feel that way. They think that it’s a step down if you’re modest. They don’t think you can be absolutely gorgeous, but I felt that way. I felt like, ‘You know what? This dress is amazing, and I feel gorgeous in it — and I’m modest.”

Pence not only learned this for herself, but she was also able to explain her choices to the other contestants.

“I was the only one with a one-piece,” she said about the swimming suit portion of the pageant. “They would make a comment like, ‘That’s cute,’ and I would just say simply, ‘Yeah, I really wanted to wear a one-piece. I like to be modest,’ and it was cool that they thought it was cool.”

[Read more…]

What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap about the Family?

keep-calm-and-defend-the-familyI am a middle-class white lady who’s been married to the same man for eighteen years, and all four of my children were fathered by this same guy, after we got married, and I have no intention of leaving him in the near future or otherwise. I don’t have any gay friends or family members, even though I’ve been told that’s impossible in this day and age. I do have gay acquaintances, but no one I hang out with or am forced to interact with at holidays. I don’t even have gay co-workers because I haven’t worked outside the home since I had my first baby. I think I should be an ideal candidate to do as I was counseled in Saturday night’s General Women’s Broadcast and “stand with the Brethren” and “defend the Family,” which I understand is under attack. I mean, I live in a freaking bubble. I not only don’t have gay friends; I don’t really have any friends, so I couldn’t possibly suffer any social consequences if I were to become an ardent and outspoken Defender of Family. On the other hand, that also means no one would listen to me, because if a tree falls in the forest blah blah, but that’s not the point. If I’m not currently standing up for the Family, it’s definitely not because I lack moral courage, because doing so wouldn’t take any, in my particular case. It’s really just that I don’t care enough about the Family. I don’t think I care at all. [Read more…]

Ministering to the un-ministerable

My oldest child is almost 17 and has hated church at least since she was a toddler. Possibly she hated it before then but lacked the verbal skills to express herself clearly. At any rate, for the last fifteen years she has expressed her hostility this way: yelling, screaming, blurting out insults and provocative comments, disrupting lessons (and singing), and generally making everyone else’s worship time miserable. This is not typical behavior, even for a teenager, so I should probably explain that in addition to having Asperger’s Syndrome and a mood disorder, she is kind of a brat. I think I can say that with love, since I’m her mom and she probably got it from me in the first place. [Read more…]

You never know

Here is a Mormon Channel video that is making the rounds on the Facebook. I don’t usually watch Mormon Channel videos because I don’t usually watch any video unless I think it’s going to be funny, and Mormon Channel videos are not usually supposed to be funny. (This is not to say that they’re never funny, intentionally or otherwise. I just haven’t ever heard of a funny one. No, I do not need links to funny Mormon Channel videos. Try to focus, people!) My life is too short to watch every video that gets shared on Facebook, no matter how inspiring. (I never watch anything on Upworthy. NEVER.) But my husband went to the trouble of sharing this one with me and asked me what I thought, so I decided to watch it (even though I knew it would probably not be funny).

[Read more…]

Religious freedom under attack!

swedish chefTell me the truth. Was the exclamation point too much? Or just enough?

A while back–weeks or months ago, or maybe a year, who knows–I read an article about a dispute between a lesbian and a Muslim barber. This is not a joke. This was in Toronto. (Also not a joke.) The lesbian wanted a “businessman’s haircut” (not sure what that is, not being a businessperson, but I assume it’s a thing businesspersons and their barbers know about). The Muslim refused because his religion forbids him from touching a woman who isn’t his relative. I don’t know what the relevance of her being a lesbian was, but it was part of the story, which is why I include that tidbit here. I guess her being a lesbian somehow explained why she would be visiting a barbershop that catered exclusively to men, although I should think that would be offensive on some level, I don’t know. Who am I to judge? It still doesn’t explain why she’d want especially to visit a Muslim barbershop. But I digress. The woman was offended by the Muslim’s refusal and filed a complaint with the human rights commission. The case went to moderation. [Read more…]

There is a time to dance, and other lessons from the scriptures

The other day my thirteen-year-old son was demonstrating some of the sweet moves he learned in his P.E. class, which ended the school year with a unit on dancing. (I was fortunate enough to serve as his partner, and I have to say that while he may not be the most graceful dancer, he is pretty good at leading.) Once he had demonstrated his proficiency in swing, the bossa nova, and, I dunno, maybe the foxtrot, he and his older sister reminisced about the folk dance they each had to learn in the sixth grade, which I said looked suspiciously like the chicken dance. [Read more…]

Noah–The man, the myth, the movie

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Darren Aronofsky’s movie Noah. If you don’t want any major plot points revealed before you see it, don’t continue reading. If spoilers don’t bother you, go ahead. If you don’t intend to see the movie and nothing anyone says could possibly persuade you otherwise, you’re probably safe too, but whether or not you’re interested is another story. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet read the Bible story; nothing could possibly spoil that.

noah true storyLast Thursday Brother J and I went to see Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. My husband and I both very much enjoyed The Fountain, so we were eager to see what Aronofsky would do with a big Hollywood budget. I didn’t realize there was any controversy over the movie until right around opening weekend, when I started seeing indignant posts on Facebook about how much the movie gets “wrong,” i.e. deviates from the Biblical account. [Read more…]

The First Semi-annual Ladycast

I knew it had been a long time since I’d written anything for BCC. Turns out, it’s been five months since my last post. Hard to believe, since it used to be that I couldn’t slack off for five weeks without Steve Evans threatening to fire me. The aforementioned post was a response to the announcement that the church was doing away with the annual General Young Women and Relief Society broadcasts and replacing them with a semi-annual General Women’s Broadcast for females eight years and older. Not coincidentally, the topic that has prompted me to write this thing I’m writing right now is the maiden voyage of that very broadcast, which occurred just a few short hours ago. (Or maybe several regular-length hours ago, depending on what time you read this.)

Historically, our stake has not shown the YW and RS broadcasts live. They would show them when they had finished preparing all the food that would be served afterward. I guess. At their leisure, anyway. Since this was a historic broadcast, though—first of its kind and all—they decided to break with history and show it live. And then serve dessert afterward, like usual. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend our stake’s ceremonial celebration of the historic live broadcast and traditional dessert serving. I’ve come down with a terrible head cold, and at 6:00 p.m. MST, I was in no shape to stand shoulder to shoulder (or hip-to-shoulder) with my sister church members in the stake center. Instead I sat on our benighted family room sofa, folding laundry in front of the TV, which had been hooked up to the internet, which was also showing the broadcast live. (But not providing dessert afterward. Come to think of it, I still haven’t had dessert. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) [Read more…]

More meetings = more equal (and more freshly-minted women)

Earlier this week the church announced that instead of holding separate Young Women and Relief Society conferences (in the spring and fall, respectively), they will now hold a combined “General Women’s Meeting” twice a year. This complements the twice-a-year Priesthood Session of General Conference and therefore is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction as far as women’s status in the church is concerned. A baby step, to be sure. I mean, on the one hand, we’ve been invited to attend another meeting. Yee-freaking-haw. On the other hand, some official people are officially saying that it’s just as important for womenfolk to meet twice a year as it is for menfolk to meet twice a year. It supports the idea that women and men have equal, complementary roles in the church–in the sense that this itty-bitty change is consistent with a viewpoint that might argue such a thing. Okay, when I actually spell out why it’s a good thing, it sounds pretty lame. But that doesn’t take away from my (sincere) conviction that this is an overall-positive lame baby-step for the church and for Mormon women. It may not be big, but it’s significant. Not pulling-over-to-the-side-of-the-road-so-you-can-weep significant, but it is a likely prelude to designating the female meeting an official part of General Conference. And that’s a thing, right? At least a prelude to a thing. That’s my optimistic take on it (and I don’t often have optimistic takes).

Stay tuned for the next exciting change in Mormondom: coming in just 30-80 years! [Read more…]

Dr. Strangeglove: Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the devil music

Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity. [For the Strength of Youth]

[Read more…]

The chick report

So the General Conference priesthood session is going to be broadcast live and in real time over the internet for the first time. My husband took the news hard. For Brother J, being forced to put on a suit and tie and drive out to the church to watch priesthood session is a sacred tradition. It’s his favorite excuse to hang out with a bunch of other dudes, in a world where there apparently aren’t that many legitimate excuses for dudes to hang out with each other. I think when he was a young man, the menfolk in his stake would have ice cream sundaes afterward or something, and so it was awesome. For the last several years he has organized a priesthood session after-party that involves going out and eating manly food (e.g. ridiculously-hot hot wings or ridiculously-hot something-else that you can make fun of somebody for not being able to eat, oyster shooters, deep-fried Oreos—that sort of thing) and playing video games at the nickel arcade. It’s harder than you might think to coax adult Mormon men into attending a guys’ night out; many of them feel obligated to go straight home and “spend time with their families” or whatever. I think the first time it was just him and one other guy, but it has since grown into a group of maybe six other guys, and now that our son is ordained, he and his Aaronic priesthood-holding pals get to come along and be full-fledged members of the man tribe. How are they going to get dudes to go out and eat hot wings and play arcade games after priesthood session now that dudes can sit around the house and watch priesthood sessions in their pajamas? [Read more…]

My Primary story

They released me from Primary, and people keep congratulating me on “graduating” and “coming back to adult church.” I don’t feel like being congratulated. I’m sad.

People say I was in there a long time, and I say, “Not so long. Only three years.” And they’re like, “Only three years?” Well, considering I was content to stay there the rest of my life, yes, three years doesn’t seem like a very long time at all. [Read more…]

When I think about pioneers: July 21, 2013

On Sunday the opening hymn for sacrament meeting in our ward was “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” which made sense because it was the Sunday before Pioneer Day. I like Pioneer Day much more in theory than I do in practice. Most Pioneer Day festivities don’t do it for me, but that’s due mainly to me being a stick-in-the-mud who eschews festivities in general. But just because I don’t like fun doesn’t mean that I lack holiday spirit entirely. I like the idea of celebrating Pioneer Day very much. I know some people who don’t even like the idea of Pioneer Day because they feel it reinforces some Utah-centric bias in the church and/or makes church members who don’t come from pioneer stock seem like second-class Mormons or something. I don’t know. I guess I understand where they’re coming from, but I just can’t really relate. Aside from the two years or so I spent as a baby in Dugway, Utah, when my father was in the army, I have very little first-hand experience with Utah. And seeing how I don’t remember any of the aforementioned first-hand experience, I reckon none of it counts. I really don’t know what it’s like there. But then, I did grow up in the West (and you know, America), and perhaps there isn’t that much difference between Oregon Mormonism and Utah Mormonism. Maybe my father being from Idaho makes me half-almost-Utah-Mormon. How would I know? My point being that I don’t have strong feelings about Utah, aside from knowing that I wouldn’t want to live there. (Mostly for weather reasons–no need to get offended!) Therefore, I can’t get exercised about things that are Utah-centric unless they are stupid for other reasons. [Read more…]

Teaching lessons on the priesthood to young feminists

priesthood1Oh, no. This isn’t a how-to post. This is a how-in-the-world-to? post.

So last night my fifteen-year-old daughter had a very inconveniently timed existential crisis, prompted by the fact that in June the Sunday School and Young Women lessons are all going to be about the priesthood. That’s two hours straight of priesthood priesthood priesthood for four Sundays in a row. My daughter is a rather volatile young lady who is fixated on gender issues in the church. As she said to me last night, “I don’t necessarily want the priesthood, but I just want to understand why [it’s only given to men].” I don’t think it’s an unreasonable question, why. I just don’t expect her to get any satisfaction on that count. At least not any more than I’ve gotten in my forty-two years of being Mormon.

It is one thing to be 42 and decide that you can live without knowing why (not only when it comes to the priesthood, but when it comes to anything). But that sort of reconciliation comes only after years of disappointment. To get to this point, I had to endure many years of confusion and frustration. At some point I decided, “Well, I’m a Mormon, for better or worse, so [shrug].” It worked for me. In case you were wondering, this strategy has not translated well to explaining things to my fifteen-year-old, who is still in the process of figuring out what she believes. She expects some answers, dammit! (Only she doesn’t say “dammit,” because that would be rude.) [Read more…]

Teaching the Doctrine and Covenants to eight-year-olds

Valiant 8 child: Can I have my shoe back?

Sister J: That depends. What are you going to do with your shoe?

Valiant 8: …

Sister J: What would Jesus want you to do with your shoe?

Valiant 8: … Wear it?

Sister J: Go and do thou likewise.


The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone and she mentioned something about teaching Relief Society. “How is that going?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s going all right,” she said. “I guess. I enjoy it, but I don’t think I’m very good at it. Does it make sense that you can enjoy something you’re not any good at?”

I said it made perfect sense to me because I love being a Primary teacher, and I’m terrible at it. [Read more…]