Hello, My Name Matters

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 10.26.19 AMWhat’s in a name? If you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that names are important. Aside from the current focus on jettisoning Mormon (so long, two years of my life spent working for the Church on the “I’m a Mormon” campaign!) in favor of the more ponderous official name of the church, we have a pretty mixed bag of focus and dismissal of names, and the preferences around those names. Take a look with me… [Read more…]

Review: Believer Documentary & LoveLoud

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 12.19.37 PMAfter spending a fair amount of time pondering the sense of unease I felt after watching the HBO documentary “Believer,” I keep circling around to something Imagine Dragons front-man and newly-minted activist Dan Reynolds said in the film, “I don’t know much, but I’m all heart.”

Reynolds grew up in a devoutly Mormon family, the seventh of nine kids. He served his mission in Nebraska, where he talks of his willingness to knock on hundreds of doors to reach one person. Tireless knocking will resonate not only as a gospel principle, and with any Mormon who served a proselyting mission, but also will resurface thematically in the film. [Read more…]

A Short Thought on a Dream: Or, Women and the Priesthood

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 6.55.58 AMIf gender is eternal—and we are told by our prophets and revelators in no uncertain terms that it is—if women are to preside at the side of our brothers in the eternal act of creation, and if neither can be exalted or progress without the other, then it stands to reason that there must be an equally powerful mechanism through which women will exercise that promised and divine power.

As a people, we are told we cannot live on borrowed light, and our current narrative and doctrine has women doing exactly that for eternity—living on the borrowed light of the priesthood of men. As a means of apologetics for this discrepancy we intuitively see but do not quite understand, women are told we “have access” to the priesthood of Aaron and Melchizedek, but it’s not ours. [Read more…]

Material Culture & Daughters


You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose… That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?
—Ursula K. LeGuin

Disheveled and disgruntled as only an 11 year-old after a tedious school day can be, Abigail flopped into the raveling thrift-store chair opposite my desk. It’s everyone’s favorite chair; threadbare on the arms, an earthy green brocade with sea-blue weft threads, thick and heavy cushions worn to the shape of humanity with time. She stared over my shoulder out the window, opened to the unseasonably warm January afternoon. [Read more…]

The Burning Point Playlist


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading a thorough critique of my memoir, The Burning Point, published in 2017 by By Common Consent Press, in Issue 50:4 of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Reviewer Mel Henderson had a great idea: [Read more…]

Sealing Primer


Recently, I was talking with a young friend about her upcoming temple sealing. She is planning her own wedding next year, and found herself with questions. Her own Endowment left her feeling unprepared and nervous, which I suspect is more common than we generally admit. Sometimes we imagine comfort in saying “It’s so wonderful!” or “It will be the most beautiful day of your life.” Maybe this is reassuring for some people, but for me, when undertaking something as serious as promises with God, I need to know more.

[Read more…]

Talking with Teens about Sex & P*rn

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.28.58 AMRecently some friends and I were discussing finding ways to talk with our teens about the ubiquity of pornography, and the basic reality that they would, at some point, come across it. In my own family (and probably in yours too) we have tackled this question. One of our children Googled a harmless Pokemon thing, and accidentally found a porn site. (NB: beware, there is a whole anime/Pokemon porn sub cult—I literally had no idea. You’ve been warned.)

Our teen told us what happened with the Google search, and we verified this by looking at the browser history. They were already feeling terrible, and we didn’t have any desire to add additional shame on an already sensitive situation, but we also knew we had to have (another) frank talk.

[Read more…]

Not An Obedient Heart


For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.  ~Doctrine & Covenants 46: 11-12

I’m pretty sure we forget that not everyone receives all the same gifts from God. And even more importantly, I’m pretty sure we tend to forget that they are GIFTS and that we don’t actually do anything to earn many of blessings we enjoy. At least, I am pretty sure of this each Sunday after church. [Read more…]

Wednesday Night: BCC Press Book Event

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Hey folks! Happy 4th! If you’re looking for something fun to do tomorrow night, July 5th, join us at Writ & Vision in beautiful downtown Provo for a release party for the new BCC Press memoir, The Burning Point. We’d love to see you, and we’ll have cookies!

Sunday Sermon: The Spirit Abides

d5651f961e6f3c93b4292c0cf150e715I gave this talk today in my ward in the D.C. Metro area.

When I joined the church in 2002, I came into this faith backwards. I was raised in a gently agnostic home by good parents in a melting pot of the west—San Francisco. Yes, you can be agnostic and value home life, children, your community, and country. My parents did a fine job raising conscientious, moral children—while they may not have believed, they tried to allow room in the margins of our lives for their children to discover their own beliefs.

When I approached the missionaries I was already a wife and mother, and had been church shopping for quite some time. I had visited dozens of churches of different denominations, some Christian, others not. When I found the missionaries and asked to be baptized (yes, I am that person) as a Mormon, I wasn’t even sure I believed in Jesus, but I had received a searingly powerful witness that God was real—that was it. That was all I had. That witness was my mustard seed, holding the tiny bits of faith I had collected over my lifetime. [Read more…]

Daughters of God


Photograph by D’Arcy Benincosa, Washington D.C

Just so we’re clear: Marching is not a sin. Protesting is not a sin.

If you didn’t feel compelled to march in any of the more than 600 peaceful Women’s Marches around the world, that’s great for you. My conscience dictated that I do otherwise, and I don’t need anyone else to quote The Family: A Proclamation to the World in some misguided attempt to correct me.

Women asking to be heard and considered as fully people by their government is not against the family. Women asking for health care and for the education of their children to be protected is not against God. Women asking to have their elected representatives hear them is not against the Gospel of Jesus Christ- not in word nor in action. [Read more…]

…and also with You.


There is a small subway stop near the southern tip of Manhattan. The cast iron stairs were cold and slick as we made our way upwards, into the grey winter light. It wasn’t raining so much as the air was heavy with mist, just barely above freezing. It’s a bit surprising to find oneself rising from the subway tunnels into a church yard. If you jaunt half a block to the left, you are on Wall Street, the hustling, busy financial capital of the West, and if you reach your hand out to the right, you can touch a 300 year-old tombstone in a very old American graveyard. The dissonance of place and time is startling. [Read more…]

A Delicate Feminine Flower

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-4-09-22-pmI did a bad thing.

I yelled. On Sunday, I yelled in Relief Society. I was so upset by a quote and the direction of the discussion that I forgot to politely raise my hand, and I stood up, shaking with anger, and raised my voice. In my defense, my anger was at the topic and context, and not at the teacher or at my fellow sisters, but in the heat of the moment, I acknowledge it’s often very hard for both the affronted and the recipients to finesse that out. It takes work.

I left Relief Society and sat in the foyer until I stopped shaking. I am fine now, and care has been extended to me by both RS leadership and members of my bishopric. Those details are not actually relevant to what’s on my mind now…

I want to talk about anger. Specifically, I want to talk about women’s anger. How do we talk about women’s anger? We don’t.* [Read more…]


2016ak11_221Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the new National Museum of African American Arts and Culture, the latest and long-anticipated Smithsonian museum on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Like all the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, entrance is free. However, due to demand and crowds, and the design of the museum, you do need to request a timed and dated pass for entry to the NMAAHC. Currently, they anticipate this to be the case through spring 2017. If you’re going to be in DC, request your pass here. They’re still free, and there is a standby line, if you don’t have a pass and want to try your luck. [Read more…]

Around Our Kitchen Table: A Conversation About Roles


Recently, BCC received an impassioned response from a frequent reader on the feelings and topics arising from Mike Austin’s post on the gender imbalance at BYU’s Universities. The following is part of a dialogue between some of the women of BCC about how we handle and respond to the rhetoric and pressure of being a Mormon woman

Ms. Blue: The comments on Mike’s post about faculty gender balance at the BYUs have me overall feeling sort of crummy about myself. I was wondering how other women like yourselves are handling the comments, regardless of whether you work, stay at home, are married, are single, etc. [Read more…]

But Where Am I?

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Recently, my ward decided to perform reenactments of the Restoration in Primary. It’s a sweet idea—certainly well intentioned—when you don’t think about it for long: Joseph as a boy praying in the Sacred Grove, the angel Moroni appearing to the boy Joseph, the translation of the Book of Mormon with Joseph and his scribe, the baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost by the Susquehana River.

My first reaction, however, was not sweet. I was piercingly sad. All I could picture were the faces of the little girls in Primary. Not a single active role in the reenactments could be given to a girl child. I understand the complexities here- what can the Primary President do? Things happened as they happened, and imposing 21st century parity on historical religiosity shouldn’t be done. Right? [Read more…]

Review: We Brave Women


My ten year-old daughter is lying on the floor of my office, colorful cards stacked in neat piles- sorted into categories she finds interesting and wants to learn more about, and a stack to the side which she says “these women did good things, but their work doesn’t fit with my personality.” This is in sharp contrast to the scattered mess of colorful cards on the floor earlier, when my 12 year-old son was perusing them. He’s not a big reader, and the fact he sat and pored over the stories is a testament to the compelling nature of the work. (He’s currently quite upset that Indira Gandhi’s bodyguards plotted in her assassination.) [Read more…]

I’d Like to Bear My Testimony…

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.37.15 AMI don’t enjoy bearing my testimony. Well, I don’t enjoy bearing my testimony in front of a congregation. I can write bout my feelings until the proverbial cows come home, but standing up and proclaiming what I believe in front of 200 people I only marginally know? Thanks, I’ll keep my seat.

Based on what I’ve heard over the years, many (a lot? most?) Mormons aren’t super-fans of Fast & Testimony meeting. In my head, I think of it as Open Mic Day, and my son with autism asks me every Sunday “Is this THAT Sunday??” hoping against hope it’s not. Sometimes we just stay home. I mean, I get it- I know why we do it, and I think the nexus of the idea is probably a good one- we need to clarify what we believe, and standing before your community and speaking up is a good exercise in personal faith and in finding- or at least asking for- that clarity. It’s hard to stand up and say what you believe- or rather, it is if you are actually speaking from your heart. [Read more…]

President Uchtdorf and Why I Stay #ldsconf


Dresden Frauenkirche

Recently, a friend contacted me with some questions about the church. She is married, has a son, and is thinking of becoming Mormon. She had some questions she didn’t feel the missionaries could understand, and she turned to me. I hope I was helpful, and I answered her questions— both logistical and spiritual— as honestly as possible. As often happens when we think we are helping someone else, something important distilled and formed that was meant for me. She asked me if I had any regrets… [Read more…]

A Sanctified No

saying-no-peopletoolsRecently, I was asked how I would feel about serving in Primary in my ward. I paused a moment, considering the painful stone still firmly lodged over my heart, and responded simply “No.” There are multitudes of layers as to why I feel that way, and to the hours of sleep I have lost with the struggle bringing me to that solid answer, but none of that was required in the question. It was simply a time for me to respect a boundary over which I had privately and personally labored and prayed. “No.”

I have no problem saying no. That wasn’t always the case. [Read more…]

Smaller on the Inside

boulder2There is a stone sitting on my heart. I want to disgorge it, to reject it in a peptic tide of embodied catharsis, but it stays, stuck, somewhere under my breastbone, and each time I shift, in vain attempts to find a more comfortable position, it only hurts more.

I am an adult convert to the Mormon church. My conversion was baffling and truly painful to my family, and I understand why— but I believed in the expansive vision I had when I was looking for a home for my soul. The ideas that compelled me step into the warm waters of the baptismal font were expansive; an open canon, personal revelation, a new vision of Eve, recognition of the divine feminine, prophetic guidance, eternal progression, absence of hell, everlasting hope and the reality of continued individual worth beyond death. I fell in love with that expansive cosmology and theology. I still love that part. [Read more…]

Tend to the Child

In 1973 Ursula K. Le Guin penned one of the most thought-provoking science fiction stories I’ve read. I’ve come back to it again and again when trying to wrestle with deep ethical decisions. It’s called “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. [Read more…]

The Sealing

brigham-city-dipper-temple-la-rae-robertsThe thick, creamy envelope lay heavy in the open mouth of the mailbox. “Office of the First Presidency” was etched in the upper left corner. My heart raced and my hand shook as I handed it to my husband Jon, still standing in the driveway, his coat and satchel dropped on his shoes, not all the way home from work. We had been waiting for weeks—months, years, eons, eternity—for this letter to arrive. Our entire hopeful future rested on what was in that envelope.

I had not been sealed to my first husband. My children were not born in the covenant, nor were they sealed at any time after. There is no easy way to convey the magnitude of this to someone not of our faith; one’s eternal relationship with family and with God can feel like they are on the line. When I got divorced, I assumed this was a door that had been closed to us, and I tucked those hopes away, pretty sure God would love us anyway. I never expected to be holding one of those thick, creamy envelopes with my future in it. [Read more…]

Grace and Being Seen (Pres. Uchtdorf) #ldsconf

dieter-f-uchtdorf-largePresident Uchtdorf is always a rock star- this is really no secret among Mormons. He’s where I turn when I feel brushed aside or when I feel my church experience is really not working for me- and he addressed me—and the many like me—in this morning’s Saturday session of General Conference.

I have come to rely on him for seeing me when I frequently feel some of my church leaders see *through* me. I know I am not alone.

While extolling the beauty and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is his apostolic calling, and he acknowledges how well it works for him, he states:

“I recognize that there are some who have a less-than fulfilling experience—who feel their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for.” [Read more…]



The call came in the dim, grey light before dawn. She fumbled for her phone in the dark, and saw the number; her stomach dropped and adrenaline and dread flooded her body, suddenly both wide awake and numb. The aging voice was fragile over the line, as she tried to make sense of the confusing jumble of words. Hospital. Collapse. David. Ambulance. Intubated. Heart failure. Non-responsive. Half-formed questions bubbled to her lips, interrupted by shock-formed half-answers from the other end. “Wait…? what…? how…? is there a nurse…someone I can talk to…?” she pleaded into the phone. [Read more…]

Sunday Sermon: Imperfect Knowledge

5104d43a0b5cf.preview-620The following is an excerpt from a talk I gave today in my DC Metro area ward.

We are very fond of using the language of certainty when we speak of the gospel, when we give our testimonies, and when we share our faith with our friends and family. We love to say “I know…” and we do so with such confidence that it becomes a linguistic tic of Mormonism. “I know the church is true…” What does that even mean? And what message does the language of unwavering certainty send to people whose faith is formed from different mettle? We sometimes imagine proclaiming knowledge is solid and comforting, and perhaps to some— or even to many— it is, but as an adult convert, I believe the framing of certainty, of “knowing” as the only expression of testimony can actually create an unintended gulf between members of the body of Christ’s church. [Read more…]

Emerald Grass and May Skies

JFP-MDO-141For the dozen odd years since I joined the church, I’ve been sort of an outlier. All of my experiences with the organized church and with my church community have been through the lens of being an adult convert. Nothing about that is unique, of course— there are adult converts everywhere, and in probably every faith— but joining a church that revolves in a potent way around an idealized family makes those coming in poignantly aware of our shortcomings. (Yes yes yes, I know there is no such thing as a perfect Mormon family, and I know everyone wears their best faces on Sunday, and every family has problems and struggles and challenges. I get all that. But bear with me.) [Read more…]

General Conference All-Session Recap #LDSconf

23A lot went down this weekend at the semi-annual LDS General Conference. In our decision to not live-blog conference (this time, still experimenting, subject to change) the BCC bloggers were able to listen in ways not possible when typing and tweeting furiously. It’s seriously a marathon, folks- no time to even breathe. Guest blogger Kacy Faulconer beautifully encapsulated what contributed to our decision to try something different. Now, after the dust has settled, we’ve got some interesting and thoughtful post-analysis to go along with some of the stellar talks given in the 185th General Conference. [Read more…]

Waiting for the Prodigal: Nielson #LDSconf


We heard two talks on Sunday morning that spoke in beneficial and direct ways about issues confronting many church members: faith and doubt. As I’ve pondered both talks, by Sister Wixom and by Elder Nielson, I keep circling back around to the tender place where my love for my brothers and sisters lives, and where my own journey has taken me, repeatedly…

Faith and doubt are not a binary system. [Read more…]

Shiny Happy No Thanks


There’s this weird phenomenon I’ve observed. It’s unclear where it’s nexus lies— It may be influenced by the rise of the Pinterest quote culture, or the focus on and elevation of lifestyle blogs. Are wall-quotes in living-areas a symptom or a cause? I’m not sure. What I see in my own community, on social media, and online in general, is an elevation of happiness being considered a virtue, a morally superior position. Being happy is great, of course, but the converse side of expecting happiness (or cheerfulness) as a marker of faith is that those who are somehow not “happy” or who struggle in any way, are somehow perilously close to morally failing. [Read more…]