They told me that it was a gosh darn shame that Prop 8 and the policy make gay people feel sad, which certainly was the furthest thing from their intention! You see it’s not that they hate gays, they just love family values so much, and the Divine Institution Of Marriage is so crucial that other things must be sacrificed, even when those sacrifices are painful and unfortunate. That’s what they told me. They told me during Prop 8 that they knew that California law already granted all rights and privileges to domestic partnerships that were granted to marriage, so they were really just fighting over a word, a symbol–the word marriage. But they told me that symbols are important, that what symbols the government symbolically holds up matter so much that we need to prioritize that even over the lives of our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters. Because should even the tiniest tarnish come to the image of the sanctity of the institution of marriage, all of society would collapse. So you know it’s just awful what the gays are experiencing but you see their hands were tied. That’s what they told me. [Read more…]
Yesterday the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve released a statement congratulating president-elect Trump on his victory and praising Secretary Clinton on her campaign. The letter, something of a post-U.S.-presidential-election tradition, is, I think, laudable, and functions as a valuable reminder that we need to both pray and work for the success of the country we live in.
And it makes me think of another letter that I’d like to see. It would go something along these lines: [Read more…]
We’ve all heard the saying. We’ve all used it. Recently, we’ve been rightfully castigated for using it… it’s a fraught calculus, to hate the sin but not the sinner. But this morning, those six words found fresh purchase in my mind… as I laid in bed reviewing the events of the last several hours.
And while I hold out a sliver of hope that the Electoral College—our weapon of last resort—will be put to good use, denying the presidency to a creature so un-prepared for and ill-disposed to that high office… I can’t really wait around for that bit of intrigue to play out.
I have bridges to mend.
Like approximately half of the people in the United States, I woke up today bitter and disappointed that last night’s election, which I had every reason to believe was going to turn out the way I wanted it to, turned out the other way instead. I knew that approximately half of the country was going to feel exactly this way this morning, but I sincerely hoped and believed that it would be the other half. [Read more…]
This morning my daughter wanted me to make her an owl. I cut out the body and two wings, setting them on the paper tucked up against the paper body. Immediately she took them and set them outwards and said, “No, she is flying mom.”
I fell asleep late last night and like so many of us woke in the early hours of the morning to the shock of a reality I did not believe would or could happen. I rose with a pit in my stomach. I woke with deep disappointment in the state I grew up in, the Mormon state, the one who could have proved to me that they value my body, my voice, my daughter, over possible economic advantage, but they did not.
I also woke to something I did not entirely expect, as I read through my emails, texts and social media, I found words that did not spell defeat. I saw words about love over hate, about bravery and action. I read the words of friends who, although heartbroken, did not miss a beat in going to one another to ask, what now? What do we do? We will do it. If no one else will usher in our voices, we will do it ourselves. [Read more…]
The Book of Mormon warns us of what happens when more people choose evil over good: the judgment of God is upon them. Helaman 5:1-
For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.
I’ve never been much of a believer in the end times. But I’m starting to believe. We (white Americans) have sent a strong message to minorities, to LGBTQ people, to women, to Muslims. I’m sorry that all this privileged liberal talk did absolutely nothing to make your lives better. I’m sorry for the arrogant belief that of course a man like that could never be president. But now those rights and freedoms you had are at risk. The economy, that arm of flesh, is at risk. Climate change is a foregone conclusion. And now white nationalism reigns.
If we are getting closer to the end of things, followers of Christ need to stand together now more tightly than ever. We need to reassure and help and reach out more than ever. As the mountains tremble, our institutions tumble and the rocks melt with fervent heat, I want you to know that I love you and I won’t abandon you. God help us.
Today’s the (last) day–time to make your choice if you want to secure complaining rights for the next four years! But easier said than done, right? Never before–if my carefully calibrated social media feeds are any indication–has the presidential election posed such a dilemma to women and men of faith. It seems that both candidates from the major parties are morally flawed–some claim in distressingly equal measure–but we also know that single-member district plurality voting systems raise nearly insurmountable barriers to third-party candidates–a vote for them may appease your conscience but it won’t elect a president. [Read more…]
I and many others have talked in other OPs this election season about reasons Mormons disagree about this election and how we can see such strong differences of opinion among people who seem to share common values. With election day looming large, I wanted to finish off with one last look at the psychology of voting in 2016 to try to understand what I’m seeing when beloved ward members, friends and colleagues make political statements on their Facebook status that leave me baffled or worse, losing respect for them. Rather than criticizing one another, perhaps it’s better to take a minute to understand what’s behind our differences. [Read more…]
The Fourth Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology
“God Himself Shall Come Down: Reading Mosiah 15”
College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
June 5–June 17, 2017
Sponsored by the Mormon Theology Seminar
in partnership with
The Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies and
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
In the summer of 2017, the Mormon Theology Seminar, in partnership with the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University, will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and faculty devoted to reading Mosiah 15.
The seminar will be hosted by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, from June 5 through June 17, 2016. Travel arrangements, housing, and a $1000 stipend will be provided for admitted participants. The seminar will be led by Adam Miller and Joseph Spencer, directors of the Mormon Theology Seminar, with assistance from Brian Hauglid, director of the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies. [Read more…]
I woke up this morning, after a night of coughing and fever dreams. It’s time for my annual autumnal bout of the blech (that’s the technical term)—flu-like symptoms folded into coughing spells so violent, they’ve literally brought me to my knees. I grew up in a house of smokers, with a fireplace roaring each winter. Now I live in Salt Lake City—where altitude, desert air, and smog thick enough to choke out my view of the stunning Wasatch Mountains, conspiring to rob me of the natural and felicitous joy I find living in Zion.
I love this city… but it’s literally killing me.
Lynnette has a PhD. in theology and pretty much runs the show at Zelophehad’s Daughters. She’s a longtime friend of BCC and one of the best people we know.
Last fall, I happened to be visiting Utah, and I made a last-minute decision to attend the annual Affirmation conference being held in Provo. It was my first time attending, and I was really struck by the optimism I encountered there, by the hope that it was possible to be both Mormon and LGBTQ. When the policy came to light just a few months later, I kept thinking about that. I saw way too many defenses of the policy that claimed that no one was getting hurt because gay people wouldn’t want anything to do with the church anyway. I found myself wishing that the people confidently making that assertion could have seen what I’d seen at that conference. [Read more…]
Randall Thacker serves on the Board of Directors of Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends and previously served as its international President, focused on growing the organization to meet the needs of tens of thousands of LGBT Mormons internationally. He is a Strategy Consultant and Leadership Coach.
November 5, 2016 was a turning point for many LGBT Mormons, as it was for me. After responding to numerous media inquiries and working with the Board of Directors of Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends to respond to the policy and the pain in the LGBT Mormon community, I decided to take a break from the dialogue, in particular, from social media news feeds. I needed to remove myself from the endless discussions about the new policy and its impact on LGBT Mormons. I decided to enter what I called a “Period of Discernment” for a few months.
What did I learn from this period of discernment? [Read more…]
“It all begins with make believe
A sudden spark of inspiration
And every note of everything
Started with a dream in some imagination”
In nature, the same gene that is linked to homosexuality in male fruit flies, is also linked to an increased number of offspring when the gene is carried by females of the same species. Observation of same sex pair bonds of male penguins has also found instances of such couples rearing otherwise orphaned members of the group. In these examples, Mother Nature’s integration of homosexuality and same sex pair bonds appears seamless, ongoing and useful; a persistent variation within species that both maintains and strengthens successive generations. [Read more…]
Kendall Wilcox is a documentary filmmaker and Mormon LGBT community organizer. He’s working on a project called Far Between – which explores what it means to be gay and Mormon – and he’s a contributor to the podcast Out in Zion, which attempts to deepen the conversation intersecting membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Wilcox is gay and an active member of the LDS Church.
The story of “The Policy” and the Mormon community’s diverse responses to it is best framed in terms of moral authority; who possesses it and how it is exercised. In this specific case, the story is about how the policy impacted that authority in the hearts of the members. It highlights a debate over categorical versus consequential morality, a debate that is alive and kicking within the Mormon faith community. The policy change seems to have been an attempt on the part of the Brethren of the church to exert both their moral authority and ecclesiastical authority to define and defend the doctrines of chastity and marriage. But just because they have the ecclesiastical authority to institute the policy does not mean it is a moral thing to do and for many, this act eroded what moral authority they had given to their church leaders on these issues.
But of course this elicited diverse reactions from the membership. [Read more…]
Erika Munson is the co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges. She teaches at The Waterford School in Sandy Utah, and serves in the Pinehurst Ward.
November 5, 2015 was a dark mirror of June 8, 1978. The dates, (oddly, both of them were Thursdays), are touchstones for me: I remember where I was each time I heard the news: the disbelief, the need to check in with loved ones, the media coverage. But the similarities end there. To an idealistic teenager, that morning in ‘78 brought joy: the long-promised day had arrived! It was announced with the dignity and solemnity that believers in continuing revelation would expect. The tent was enlarged, the cords lengthened.
But one year ago, this middle-aged, battle-hardened progressive Mormon who thought she’d seen it all, was blindsided by the discovery of an internal plan – all the more chilling in its bureaucratic character — to shut the door. It felt like someone had died. [Read more…]
Aaron Brown is an early founder of BCC.
One year later, I have a story to tell: [Read more…]
This November 5th marks the anniversary of the Church policy regarding LGBT members. We’ll be posting some thoughts and experiences from guests. Thanks, and we hope you have a good weekend.
I’ve always felt like the only thing we lack as a church is a really great acronym that would immediately communicate to everyone inside and outside the church how cool we are and how great it is to be a part of us. “Your abbreviations are so hip and efficient! Do you have a pamphlet I can read?” This is an area where I feel like evangelical Christians have clearly outdone us. It’s not too late, though!
As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]
I gave a version of these remarks last night as part of the panel discussion at Writ & Vision in Provo.
In her foreword to Ashley Mae Hoiland’s new book, One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly, Kristin Matthews aptly identifies its participation in “a markedly female tradition of Christian writing,” noting its affinities with the work of writers like Mary Oliver, Louise Glück, and Annie Dillard, as well as medieval mystics like Hildegard von Bingen and Julian of Norwich (xviii-xx). That’s esteemed company! Add to which that this is the first monograph published by a woman in the history of the Maxwell Institute or FARMS, and it becomes clear that One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly is opening up new avenues for Mormon women’s writing. I’d like to talk for a few minutes tonight about what those avenues might be, exactly, by way of arguing that this book is as important for Mormon men to read as it is for Mormon women. [Read more…]
There is a kind of prejudice against the ordinary—and myself and the present—that colors my judgments about life and religion. This prejudice tempts me to outsource responsibility for life and religion to something extraordinary that happened to someone else a long time ago.
But when I do, I end up buying into a dubious “great man theory” of religion that hinges religion itself on a handful of great men (and, here, the theory really does – in an obvious and sexist and indefensible way – mean only men) and the extraordinary things they claim.
Surely there are great men and surely there are extraordinary things that happen. And surely some of these men and events are religious.
But I don’t believe in great men and extraordinary things as a theory of religion—not anymore. I don’t believe that they are what religion is about. Though I trust emphatically that my religion stands rather than falls, I don’t believe that my religion stands or falls simply with them.
I believe in something much, much quieter. Much, much humbler. Much more ordinary and plain. [Read more…]
An article in Vox showed the statistical correlation between Trump supporters and hostile sexism. One interesting aspect of this analysis was that this is not an issue of Republicans in general being hostile to women, just a correlation between those who are and those who support Trump. The trend was not the same when Romney ran in 2012. Romney appealed to benevolent sexists rather than hostile sexists. The difference, as they say, is yuge. [Read more…]
Yesterday on Twitter there was a pretty interesting conversation about the Relief Society. We put together a consolidated story so that you could read these in one place (for the most part – there were numerous side conversations).
You should check it out here – I would embed but I don’t think our site allows it.
What would you have added to that conversation?
Short version: Buy this book.
Long version: You know how some movies aren’t just made up but are based on real events? And, then, when you watch these movies, you know how right at the beginning you get a little tagline, a little disclaimer, and this disclaimer reminds you that while some of the things in this movie really did happen—more or less as they’re depicted on the screen—you’re really probably better off just thinking of the movie as “inspired” by these real life events because, clearly, some artistic liberty had to be taken in order to fashion that raw material into something shaped like a movie that you would want to pay $15 to watch?
This response to Joe’s book is kind of like that. [Read more…]
I 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…]
Call for Papers
Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology
Annual Meeting March 2-4, 2017
Claremont Graduate University Claremont, CA
Theme: “Poured Out Upon Us: The Holy Spirit”
The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology invites paper proposals on any aspect of Mormon belief, including its philosophical ramifications. We particularly encourage submissions on this year’s theme.
When Joseph Smith was asked by the President of the United States about the differences between Mormonism and “the other religions of the day,” he responded that “all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Mormons look to the Holy Spirit for both prophetic authority and individual faith, as a source of daily guidance and transformative power. Descriptions of the Holy Spirit in personal terms of speaking, feeling emotion, or acting are sparse in the scriptures, compared with other members of the Godhead. Yet reliance on the functions of this “personage of spirit” (D&C 130:22) is pervasive in Mormon practice. [Read more…]
Today we celebrate the heavenly rest of the saints—all of the saints. We celebrate rest because we all pass through life pursued by beasts, although they’re usually more like Sara Teasdale’s ordinary “wolves along the road” than Daniel’s apocalyptic allegories. Rest here comes only in fleeting moments, the occasional “evening of content” that opens our eyes as it were to the innumerable company in the world to come, leading us to sing God’s praise in the congregation of the faithful.  But most of life does not give us that rest, and we must accept such moments as down-payments for our future rest. [Read more…]
Books like 4th Nephi remind us that the Book of Mormon does not really present itself as a continuous thousand-year history. It is more like three snapshots of periods within a thousand year history: one from the beginning, one from the middle, and one from the end. And we should always keep in mind that cultures and languages change a lot in a thousand years. There is as much cultural and historical distance between Mormon and Nephi as there is between 21st Century Americans and William the Conqueror.
For me, this makes the very brief transitions between snapshots the most fascinating parts of the entire Book of Mormon. Fourth Nephi, for example, gives us 400 years of history in about four pages. Imagine trying to write a four-page history of the United States from Plymouth Rock to Donald Trump. What would you include? What would you exclude? How would you frame the entire American narrative in 49 verses? That is roughly the task that Mormon had when putting together 4th Nephi. [Read more…]
Attorneys from time to time are supposed to do pro bono work (short for pro bono publico, “for the public good,” meaning (legal) work for the disadvantaged without compensation). I just now returned from such a pro bono effort, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it.
Among the recommendations in the recent BYU Title IX Advisory Council Report appears the following:
Share with officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the findings of the advisory council regarding ecclesiastical leaders’ varied responses to sexual-assault reports.
Mormon lay clergy, in other words, come to their pastoral obligations with wildly varying preparation to give the kinds of care that members of the Church might seek from them. Cases of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence can prove especially difficult to handle well, and the Advisory Council has documented some of the resulting “varied responses.” The pastoral care that survivors receive from their ecclesiastical leaders thus appears to be a noted area of needed improvement.
My research has recently led me to a book that I believe might be a helpful resource for people in caregiving relationships with survivors of sexual assault. I recognize that recommending this book (or indeed any book on the subject) might run into concerns about professionalizing our clergy too much in ways that decrease reliance on the Spirit. In my view this dichotomy is false: professionalization can provide a toolkit, and the Spirit can provide guidance about which tools to use and when (and when not to use any of them). We should approach this subject, like any other, with a combination of study and faith. [Read more…]
Way back in February, a piece by David Brooks referenced the work of Matthew MacWilliams, who[se editor] claimed that he had discovered “The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter”:
If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?
You’d be wrong.
In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.