Thursday, August 30, 2012

“That, my dear, is the sound of a paradigm shifting without a clutch.”

title credit to Karen R. from here

I have a complicated history with this subject and I am still not sure how to describe where I am now... but that has never stopped me from trying, has it?

Marriage Equality.

I was on the wrong side of the issue in regards to Prop 8 in 2008, even though I was not in California, I still blogged my support of "traditional marriage" on this here blog.  And it was a slow process of compassion and stepping out of my paradigm in other areas that helped me realize how narrow minded I was back then.

When I read Health at Every Size (and it changed my entire outlook) I was bulldozed by the vast amount of research that had gone it to it. I was amazed that Linda Bacon had worked against the grain to reveal what the research was saying about "fat" even when it benefited no one's pockets.

I loved her story of confronting one professor when the government task force lowered the threshold for what was considered 'obesity'. She said they got it wrong. Her professor said do your research and see what you would come up with. She DID, and realized that if we are even going to use the flawed BMI that the definition of 'obesity' needs to be raised not lowered.  A small group of government officials all with some connection to the diet industry made millions of Americans 'obese' overnight.

Linda has gone on to show through thorough research (not backed by any diet company) that healthy behaviours NOT weight loss are what matter.  And you know what touched me the most as I have watched her work, seen her be absolutely harassed by peers, ignored by professional organizations, treated as Galileo did when he said the world was round, and lambasted in comments...

she is not fat.

She is not technically part of the group that she is doing so much to help. She admits to having 'thin privilege' and she recognizes that her message would be even tougher for opponents to swallow if she herself was fat.
She has still taken on this issue and is one of the most compassionate individuals to a demographic that she is not a part of.

Then I read her bio and learned she is gay and has a son with her partner.  How come she is so understanding of my life and I was against her lifestyle? It made me think.

How could marriage equality hurt me?

it can't.

Every argument that I have heard against it doesn't hold water:

Fighting gay marriage does not "protect the constitution"
Supporting gay marriage does not condone incest or pedophilia.
It does not threaten your religion or practice thereof.

I agree with Stossel on marriage:

"When did states setting the terms of exchange become an expression of right to contract? The only rights-based approach would be states to stop setting the rules of marriage at all. Sadly we just get a stronger but fairer state."
I wish the state would get out of the marriage business. Marriage should be a private contract. Legal issues that marriage raises --like inheritance, alimony, visitation rights in hospitals -- can be handled through voluntary contracts between consenting adults. from here

I think for those staunchly opposed a few thoughts come to my mind:

- Have you been close to someone in your life who is gay?  Do you realize the struggles they are up against?
-Do you realize that being gay is NOT a choice. BYU professor on Biological Origin of Homosexuality
- In Maslow's Hierarchy of needs Love is third on the list of essentials for life! Asking celibacy of those who are gay or that they have relationships with those they are not attracted to is very damaging to the human psyche.

And I became embarrassed how vehemently my church fights to deny marriage rights to others.

Interesting since we spent the early part of our church history trying to fight the government to practice marriage the way we thought was right.

I think our rhetoric is damaging and unnecessary. If our idea of the plan of salvation hinges on free agency then we need to stop fighting to take agency away from others. I am so saddened by the sheer volume of resources that went into Prop 8 by our church. Phone banks, money, time etc. I know some church members here in Texas donated LARGE sums of money.

And don't even get me started on Boy Scouts.  It is just wrong. If a willing man wants to teach my son valuable life skills I don't care one iota if he is gay.  And kicking out boys themselves from scouting because they identify as gay? so wrong. And sad.

I hope I live to see the hysteria subside. Marriage rights to become equal and hopefully even full open arms from the Church to gay individuals.

I am a trained Occupational Therapist, I was taught to expect a spectrum in ALL areas of human identity and behavior - from reading, walking, gross motor skills, etc. Why was I so judgemental for so long that sexual identity would be any different? I am fat and I'm not sure why. That is very hard for people to grasp - they want to blame my behaviors right off the bat. I don't know why some people are gay. But you know what - its ok. I am ok being fat - they are ok being gay.

"In the latter half of the 20th century these frames were challenged by gay rights and fat rights advocates. Within these movements, the words “gay” and “fat” had similar purposes. They were intended to depathologize what medicine called “homosexuality” and “obesity,” by asserting that different sexual orientations and body sizes were both inevitable and largely unalterable, and that being gay or fat was not a disease.

Over the past few decades, gay rights activists have had great success challenging what 50 years ago was the standard medical view that “homosexuality” constituted a disease. By contrast, fat rights activists still deal with a public health establishment that continues to reflect and replicate profound cultural prejudices when it advocates ineffective cures for an imaginary illness....
The extent to which either one’s sexual orientation or one’s weight are chosen states is minimal. With rare exceptions, people cannot intentionally alter either their sexual orientation or their weight in a long-term way. Given all this, to label same-sex orientation or higher than average body weight as diseases stigmatizes those who are so labeled to no purpose, other than to express disapproval of deviance from social norms to which the stigmatized cannot adhere." -Paul Campos
From a great article here: Anti-obesity the new homophobia

I don't know what this means for eternity. I have stopped being so sure of knowing any of that. But I know two men or two women being happy together doesn't bother me one bit.

Now one man with his 55 wives? that... yeah that kind of stings.

If you are still with me and will go a little further, this blog says it all much better than I could here

How to be a sort of traditional Mormon defending non-traditional marriage


 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1John 4:7

** This blog post makes mention of my health at every size aka HAES journey ... that started here and I can't very well leave this without once again recommending the book - everyone should read it but especially if you identify with ever having "struggled with your weight" Its on amazon here!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cookie time

Everyone is home. Everyone had a good day! (Such a relief for mom) Buses to and from school went off without a hitch - so much better than back car line. (Such a relief for mom)
And now as Cora says: 
'All we have to do is wait for Daddy'
For Maiya, Double Vanilla Rainbow Cookies - Recipe here
For Ella, Teal Sugar Cookies - Recipe here
For Benjamin, Whoopie Pies - Recipe here

More Great Back to School Cookie ideas here

And they're off

First day of school 2012/2013
Benjamin 7th grade
Ella 5th grade
Maiya 1st grade
Three kids at three different schools - whoa

Teal sugar cookies, whoopie pies, and rainbow sandwich cookies to be made

Friday, August 24, 2012

Janie as a ghost... a very angry ghost.

This one I've always, always, always struggled with and only got past it by thinking "well, maybe it will never happen to me."  And I guess I've reached a different level of maturity or frustration because that line of thought doesn't work for me anymore.


Not early Polygamy of the Restored Church or Polygamy of the Old Testament. (Not that those don't sting mighty bad)  But our current practice of polygamy.  Yes it exists.

A living woman may be sealed to only one husband.

But a living man may be sealed to another if his wife dies.

And both of his marriages are considered eternal.

That is polygamy. It is not earthly polygamy but eternal or as I've seen it coined "celestial" polygamy - but therein lies the rub to me. At least with polygamy practiced here a wife may have her say in the matter - but after her death she can't.  I'm not sure how many late night discussions this has led to - I'm sure Kyle would say in the thousands. Always ending with him agreeing never to be sealed to anyone else if I die...

Because I will come back and haunt him and his new wife the likes of which no Paranormal Activity movie could dream up.

So when this is such a tender subject its hard to swallow Apostles of the Church doing this exact thing:
Like these two:

Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president of the church, also remarried after his wife 's death and was sealed to another woman and was looking forward to a polygamous relationship in heaven. He, in fact, wrote a poem in which he reflected that his second wife, Joan, would join his first wife, Fern, as his eternal wives: 

My lovely Joan was sent to me: So Joan joins Fern
That three might be, more fitted for eternity.
"O Heavenly Father, my thanks to thee"
(Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac, p. 17)

Then the flip side - what if a new bride loses her husband in some tragic way? She can not be sealed again.
What if she goes on to have another marriage and children. She will not be sealed to those children in this life.

So maybe none of this will go down without all parties involved being A-OK with it.
Maybe we will all be without any guile, jealously, or emotion in heaven and be A-OK with it.
I don't know...

but for now - I don't like it.

not. one. bit.

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.
And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed... Doctrine and Covenants 132
Interested read here: 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Girls in the Faith.

"Acknowledging the confusion and oft-resulting pain of being a woman in the Church is not something that is relegated to the extremist academics or feisty feminist bloggers. In 2011, a comprehensive survey of over 3000 people who had lost their belief in the gospel revealed that 47% of those respondents cited women’s issues as a “significant” reason for their loss of faith."

This has been a tough post to think about how to get into words. It is too easy to look whiny or ungrateful for all of those who labor for the sake of my children.  And this post is about that, my children, specifically: my daughters. But it is not a commentary on their wonderful leaders. I appreciate everything that has and will be done for them.

My situation is that my two oldest (a boy and a girl) are very close in age (18 months). Ella is always coming around the bend for every important milestone that Benjamin goes through. Going to school, No training wheels, being able to walk to friends, etc. 

Then we arrived at baptism age at church: The beauty of their baptisms were comparable and fantastic. Both had beautiful spiritual days. Then "activities" started.

Benjamin had cub scouts:
-Blue and Gold banquet - with numerous rounds of applause just for him.
-A uniform and a new book
-weekly meetings
-Regular courts of honor with all the pomp and circumstance and "Kiss the Mom" moments - with more and more rounds of applause.
-Twilight camp - hours spent making swap em's, days at camp filled with activities and crafts and eventually a sleepover with dad.
-11 yo. scouts - bigger better activities and four campouts in one year!
-12 years old - Aaronic Priesthood Ordination, Passing the sacrament
-Officially in Boy Scouts:
-Weekly activities
-Amazing week of camping and classes and swimming
-Big service projects
-And bigger Court of Honor celebrations with accolades galore.


Activity Day Girls for Ella:
-Twice a month activity nights - No activities in the Summer
-Once a Year Daddy Daughter Dance
-12 years old: Young Women

I have tried to spin this every way I can... but she notices and she asks. And she gets sad that "we go to Ben's things" but parents have never come to one of my AD girl nights'.

And then I wonder about the financial discrepancy between what we spend on our boys vs. our girls. One Scout store trip alone in preparation for a Court of Honor was approximately $700 for supplies.  

Again, lest there is confusion, this is not about women getting the Priesthood. At least not for me at this point. But there are some glaringly obvious examples of inequality in how we treat women in the church - especially our youth.

These issues and others will keep me wondering what my role is as a mother in building up my children whether in or out of the Church.

Why don't the Young Women do the ushering on Sundays - the Boys do the Sacrament.
Why can't a mother hold her baby during the Blessing ceremony?
Why did we abandon the more active roles sisters had in early church history? 
How about more female speakers at GC?
How about female auxiliary leaders having more of a presence on the stand at GC?
Do Relief Society Stake meetings really need to be presided over by a Priesthood holder?
Can we start spending the same amount of money and time on our young women as our young men?

I must not be the only one noticing this because here is a poll on babycenter about this issue:

How do you feel about Scouts vs. YW/AD
I think it is totally unfair and I have let my leaders know
I think it is totally unfair, but I keep my opinions to myself
It doesn't bother me
Total Votes:59

Here are two links that are good reads along this same vein:

To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure - From the creator of the Mormon Women Project which you can find here

-Navel Gazing on Modesty

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Will a man rob God?

Yet ye have robbed me. Malachi 3:8

If I walked confidently through one issue of my religion, tithing was one. You could even say I had a strut about me:

Full confidence in a lay clergy.
Full confidence in our humanitarian efforts.
Full confidence in meetinghouses and Temples built with no debt.

Then some information came to light that tripped me on the curb and I ate the sidewalk. Face first into a pain of consciousness.

Our church built a mall. ....blink, blink..... Our church built a mall?!?

In the heart of Salt Lake City, City Creek Center is the retail centerpiece of one of the nation's largest mixed-use downtown redevelopment projects. This unique shopping environment features a retractable glass roof, a creek that runs through the property, a pedestrian skybridge and more. This world-class fashion and dining destination offers over 90 stores and restaurants including Nordstrom, Macy's, Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, Coach, and Texas de Brazil Churrascaria, in a casual, pedestrian-friendly environment. From here

Yes you read that right; a mall. A "megamall" actually.

People are dying from lack of food, but we built a shopping mall.

I've seen estimates of 1.5 billion to 5 billion.

ba,ba,ba BILLION.  A billion is a thousand million (lots of zeros)

Why oh why is the Lord's kingdom financing high end shopping malls?

ain't it pretty?

To protect our real estate interests in the Downtown Salt Lake area.

We feel terrific. We've accomplished, we think, what we set out to accomplish.
–H. David Burton, LDS Church presiding bishop


1.3 billion spent on International Humanitarian Fund since it began in 1985.
1.5 billion on ONE MALL.
does anyone else see a problem here?

I worked very hard on this one for a long time. It rolled around in my brain like a violent pinball machine.
I tried to make allowances like:

Its not technically from 'tithes' - its from investments.
It will protect the area around the Temple and other historical structures of the Church.
Maybe the church is a partial silent investor.
Maybe we will re-coup this money.

maybe, maybe, maybe...

A couple of heated discussion with Kyle over this one.

Then the ribbon cutting:

And that was it - frustration that I could not get past anymore.  This is not acceptable to me. In that picture there on the right is the First Presidency at the ribbon cutting - chanting 123 "let's go shopping"

President Eyring spoke on behalf of the Church at Thursday's ceremony, saying City Creek Center is now open to invite the world to come to downtown Salt Lake City & headquarters of the Church. "Everything that we see around us is evidence of the long-standing commitment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City,"  from Church News

wait? That is what we are committed to? Because I thought it was to the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow that they may eat within thy gates and be filled.

As Jana Reiss put it:
Given those facts, spending a billion and a half dollars on a den of luxury consumption is a moral failure. It just is. A more modest, scaled-down plan to revitalize Salt Lake’s once-thriving downtown would have been enough. The rest is vanity, calculated to impress. It is palpably ironic that the mall contains a luxury store called True Religion jeans (opening Summer 2012). Whatever else it may be, this mall is not true religion.
From here

The mall will be closed on Sundays - but alcohol will be served at some restaurants. So that would mean our church is now invested in alcohol sales. Very, very interesting.

I am sure this is not even remotely on many LDS member's radars, and honestly I'd like to return to clueless land most days - but now that I know, I can't get past it.  When you read through all of Malachi and not just that exact verse, you can see that the scripture "Will a man rob God" is not directed at the tithe-payers, but the Priests who were mis-using the tithes given.

Add the mall to my concerns over many other fiancial ventures of the church, Prop 8, our controlling nature over the Boy Scouts of America, banks, insurance companies, ranches, hotels, hunting preserves, sending senior missionaries to "work/serve" on their dime at for-profit businesses, etc.

I am lost as to how to reconcile this.

What saddens me most is that I can't properly defend my Church to myself or to others, because they won't tell me what is going on. Since the 1960's they don't tell us anymore what happens to our tithing.

For the first 128 years of this Church's formal existence, it was an essential part of April conference for the leaders of the Church to report it's financial dealings in full to the general membership. This was usually among the first matters of business during the Saturday morning session. From the time of Joseph Smith on, it was understood that the members who provided the tithes were to be shown how their sacred tithing dollars had been disbursed so they could voice their consent. The leaders understood they had a sacred fiduciary trust and a responsibility to inform the members of a) how much money was collected in tithing, and b) how that money was being spent from one year to the next.
from Here

I think if I just knew - then I could maybe work through this. But what I feel now is that I should no longer just "trust" that the Church as a corporation is doing right by tithing.

There is an online petition right now in regards to this issue that I would urge members to ponder on and consider signing. I think it is of utmost importance:, and it says:

“And all things shall be done by common consent in the church”
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it is our desire to faithfully fulfill our obligation to our church by at least annually giving our “voice and Common Consent” as to the allocation of the funds that have been and are currently being donated by us to our Church.
We believe as President Hinckley stated that the financial information of our church “belongs to those that made the contribution”.
For most of our history our church provided full disclosure of its funds. Even in times of financial difficulties members could share in the joy of knowing that good works were being accomplished with their collective donations. We have confidence that a full annual financial disclosure will vindicate the virtue and integrity of our church’s financial affairs that are consistent with the principles taught by our Lord. Such open transparency will also dispel all mystery that often leads to unverifiable speculation both without and within our church:  “And He doeth nothing, save it be plain.” (2 Ne. 26:33). We seek complete transparency in all our financial affairs by following the Lord’s counsel that monies placed into His treasury shall “not be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by voice and common consent” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:71).
Therefore, we the undersigned members formally request that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once again publish a full annual financial report that provides sufficient details so that we as members can once again give our “voice and Common Consent” as to the allocation of monies expended by our Church.

Friday, August 17, 2012

If you can't trust me - the feeling is mutual.

Things were spinnin' 'round me
And all my thoughts were cloudy
And I had begun to doubt all the things that were me
Been in so many places, you know I've run so many races
Looked into the empty faces of the people of the night
Somethin' is just not right

'Cause I know that I've gotta get outta here
I'm so alone
-Jim Croce

by Terryl Givens Professor of literature, author, and faithful member:

We have been set up.
The manuals distributed throughout the CES (Church Education System) and the sunday school program are deplorable... they are full of errors and misinformation. I don't think there is a deliberate campaign of disinformation going on...
The best scholarship taking place in the church history department hasn't filtered down to the level of the curriculum. And everyday that it doesn't the church is going to lose more mormons.
The problem is not information, the problem is betrayal. Nobody really leaves the church because there isn't enough information available to answer a question - and that's one thing that I don't think the church has gotten yet.
People leave the church because by the time the question arises it is too late.
If you are 45 and you learn for the very first time that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using a peep stone you have every right in the world to feel betrayed. Why wasn't I taught the truth in seminary or in sunday school?
I haven't heard a good answer for that, there isn't really an excuse for the church not to be moving faster to revise and update more truthful manuals.

from episode three here

I heard once that faith crises tend to happen in those who "care too much" - That might be a stretch, but I would say that I have gone through intense periods of re-dedication, wanting to read everything I could get my hands on: my scriptures, all CES manuals, books about the scriptures (old and new) and on and on. Many Sunday afternoons with my scriptures on one thigh and another book on the other thigh saying something that always started with "hey Kyle, did you know...."

I also thought of myself as a pretty good missionary - I like to meet folks and talk to folks and share what I feel is awesome about my religion.  Growing up in the south meant defending my religion almost all. the. time.

I have defended my faith, my religion, its history since I was a very little girl.  The time my Aunt refused to offer me anything but iced tea with my lunch while my mom was out shopping. Because "its what everyone else is having and you just need to get over it." 

I defended it again when I went to vacation bible school with my cousins since we'd have 'so much fun' and the ladies in charge caught wind that I was LDS and hammered me with doctrinal questions. 

I defended it ALL through high school especially every time the local baptist church distributed anti-cult materials labeling us as enemy numero uno.

I reached for my scriptures and read straight from them in college whilst defending. I remember one conversation of the pre-existence my roommate sticking fingers in her ears like a kid because just the thought sounded "evil" to her. (still don't get that one)

I defended, I defended, I defended.

Recently, when I found Joni's blog here I was fascinated reading about her journey through other faiths and even daydreamed about doing it myself.  When she got to Mormonism, I went to church with her. We met on her side of town and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see a much more diverse ward than what I had become accustomed to in Texas.

When she finished her time and wrote a synopsis of our faith - I was a little shattered. It by far was not all "glowy".  I became ready to really investigate all the things I had spent my life defending.  And I got the courage to go to sources other than only LDS printed publications and Deseret approved sources.

Which is where two roads diverge in a wood I guess you would say. Some faithful adherents will not be able to understand this, because if you stray from the Church you stray from righteous influences. But I'm not buying that anymore. I'm not an Amway salesman only reading material from Amway.

What I found was hard to swallow.

A lot of what I was defending I didn't have all the information available.

  • How did I get to my mid-thirties not knowing Joseph Smith had 30 wives, some that were married to other men, several that were teenagers
  • The story of Helen Mar Kimball alone sat like a rock in my stomach (from her journal):
Helen was now fourteen when her father approached her. She wrote: “My father was the first to introduce [plural marriage] to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake…… Without any preliminaries [my Father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives…The first impulse was anger…my sensibilities were painfully touched....

Then father “asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph…[and] left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours…I was sceptical-one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions….. Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter.”
The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. “[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage…After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.  
  • How did I get this far without any knowledge whatsoever of the very serious problems with the accuracy of the Book of Abraham?
  • How had I ever, ever, ever in a million years made allowances for the blatant racism regarding the the Priesthood ban against black men?
  • There was more than one accounting of the first vision by Joseph... wha... what??? And they were drastically different? what????
  • Joseph was not necessarily wrongfully imprisoned at the time of his death - he was  there for very real charges of destroying a printing press... owned by a man about to go forward with his story of Joseph Smith trying to marry his wife?
  • Problems with the BOM witnesses...
But you want to know the really crazy thing? I think I could have worked through each and every single issue if the faith I was defending cared as much about me as I did about it.  I don't think anything I've written about is proof that the church is false. There is no organization, religious or not, immune to falsehoods and historical tough spots. But the covering up/whitewashing of our history is incredibly unsettling to me. It feels like betrayal.  
Agency depends on knowledge and accurate information. Instead, the information we have has been sent through the polishing rock tumbler so many times its hard to even know what is truth.  How much is correlation damaging us: read here

When the church does employ the expertise of top-notch historians they end up at odds with those historians. See Daymon Smith, D. Micheal Quinn, The September Six.

I guess the upper leadership leans more with Boyd K. Packer when he says 

"There is a temptation for the writer or teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."

I'm sorry but I need to be trusted more than that.

This blogger put it perfectly: 

Polygamy wasn’t central in my leaving of the church, but the pattern of lying, avoiding, and covering unattractive doctrine and history was.  I heard the apostles speak and say things I knew were wrong but sounded good and bold.  Things I wanted to be true.  Things I had heard as a 14-year old in the Priesthood session of general conference.  Things I knew many others were accepting as true and factual.  I knew the Apostles weren’t ignorant and lost trust for the church authorities.  What I wanted in a church was honestbold truth.  I didn’t care if the truth was difficult, I only cared that it was right.  The leaders are accountable for this, but my next words go to everyone: By attempting to fit in with the rest of the world, soften your edges, and make your message more palatable, you have lost any claim you had of being the unique and restored church of God.  Rather than teaching the world you are being taught by it, changing to conform to it, and trying to please it with flowery and well-designed statements aimed at obscuring your connection with unpopular things like polygamy.  In this you appear as a business with a good PR department, not a divine source of untarnished truth. -Jefferson Cloward
found here

This is a fantastic talk about having compassion for those who leave:

Many faithful, devoted, and dedicated members are leaving the church they once loved due to “unintentional consequences of their search for truth”. These were people who were fully committed temple going, tithe-paying members. In 2009 it is estimated that over 83,000 members left the church. Many members, including leaders, are resigning their membership, NOT DUE TO SIN OR WEAKNESS, but due to reading or listening to something which changes their PERCEPTION OF TRUTH.
Can our relationship with those who leave the church withstand these changes in THEIR BELIEF?
Imagine that “Everything that you had thought about yourself, others, and the world was built on a lie! All the time you were growing up you felt different and did not know why. The way you looked at life was based on who you thought you were and on what you believed to be true.” Your world would just crumble around you! You would not know what to trust, let alone who to trust! You would have to re-learn almost everything; the way you interacted with others, your values and more.
What if every major decision you made was based on what you thought was truth? There would be so much fallout your head would be spinning! You would most likely experience ‘rage’, ‘despair’, ‘grief’, ‘sorrow’, ‘anguish’, ‘more anger, mistrust, confusion’, and run through a ‘whole gamut of emotions’. The longer you were members of the Church and the more you genuinely believed it to be true, the more severe the trauma coming out. ...
If you look around this room and see who’s here, then imagine some of us may not be here in a week, or a month, a year or two. I want you to know that whatever happens I will love you. I will have compassion for you. - Steve Bloor
And later this Bishop shared his own resignation letter: here.

this video also summarizes the situation really well - why people leave and how you can help them: screencast below, podcast here

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? Luke 15:4

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Called to Serve? maybe.

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.” ― Mineko Iwasaki

In 2003 my sister had a final interview for submitting her papers for a mission. The air was filled with excitement and joy. It had been a rough few years for us, our mother included - we were still reeling from our father's abandonment and this mission of Meg's was a testament to our survival. It was a bright hope for the future.

She had put away money, swallowed her pride and had family and friends ready to contribute monthly to her mission as well.  She was working on her feet all day at a day care center and riding her bike back and forth to save money. She spent A LOT of money on dental work and doctor's visits in preparation - all without health insurance.

She was ready.

We were excited.

Understatement of the year.

Meg Spring of 2003

Then a phone call came.

Meg was called at work and told she was too overweight to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She would have to lose a significant amount of weight and re-submit her papers.

She left work early in tears and said she would never go.
Her heart was too hurt. It would take too much time. She had already postponed school and life long enough. She was devastated.

I was so angry. So angry I couldn't see straight.

The words to Army of Helaman played over and over in my head:

"Let each who's worthy go forth and share"

Meg, me, my mom, Kyle each tackled the issue in our own ways.

My testimony of the Priesthood was shattered. Men who were vessels of the Lord would not treat people this way under that mantle.  When the Lord was on the Earth - there were no stipulations of who could and couldn't be disciples for him.

What was this "church" I was so loyal to?  What is the purpose of teaching the merits and blessings of serving a full time mission to children from such a young age if we would turn them down for such absurd reasons?

I was a part of a sizeist organization.  What was the real concern? She wouldn't be able to physically handle the demands? That is a valid concern - but she was very physically active, the doctors said she was in great health.. BUT even if she wasn't - we have people serve with physical disabilities all the time!

Would it be extra healthcare costs? Then make that a plan - She would cover her own healthcare costs.

Or was it the most obvious - we don't want fat people representing our church?

Why was this issue never raised in the YEAR she prepared for this mission? Before she told everyone of her plans and asked for financial assistance.

I wrote letters to her Bishop and Stake President and later a friend in the relief society presidency.  This is part of what I had to say:

"Was this a very good 'missionary moment' when she got the phone call at work and all her co-workers watched her sob? Meg's situation has been handled so poorly - it has insulted Meg, crushed her sweet spirit, disappointed her family, and embarrassed her in front of all those who ask about her mission call. So people that get a mission call get a wonderful letter from the Prophet but fat people get a 'no thank you' phone call at work?... My respect for the Priesthood has been bruised and my non-member family and friends have been dumb-founded by this whole mess. Please use my letter as a catalyst for change. Hopefully this heartache will be avoided by others willing to serve."

I only got one phone call from Meg's Bishop with little more to say than a whispered "I'm sorry". No one else to this day has had any answer of value for me. Everyone else I wrote ignored me.

This was Meg's story to tell, not mine. She worked past it much more valiantly than I have. Call it my weakness but I can't let it go. I have tried.

Oh boy have I tried. I have firmly re-dedicated myself to the Gospel over and over again thinking I could combat the hurt with personal righteousness.  Its more than obvious now that this plan isn't working for me.
I need the right to cling to all the spirituality that I can summon while wholeheartedly rejecting the organization  that has totally lost the way.

I hear time to time of this happening to other young men and women and I can't always stop the tears from coming. This is a real possibility for my own children. We are not small people as you can see. If this is done to one of my children I don't think there is enough room in the world for my rage.

I have no tidy ending to this one. It is a heavy hitter. Its been almost ten years. And I am still just as angry if not angrier than the day it happened.

I am broken. I am sad. And it has made, over time, many, many instances, phrases, songs, talks at church unbearable for me.  I don't forsee there being any words to soothe this.

Time heals all wounds? Is that what they say? I'll just have to see about that.

(Sincerest gratitude to my sister for allowing me to be open about this.)

"Come, follow me," a simple phrase,
Yet truth's sublime, efullgent rays
Are in these simple words combined
To urge, inspire the human mind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

no one perspective

"An impassioned, compelling, dare I say poetic, argument on behalf of those who 'labor in the fields of sadness'...A call to live hard and full, to participate in the great rondure of life and to be aware of the fact that no one perspective on the world is ever finally true." - Ethan Rutherford

I have debated heavily with myself about what order there is to this "story" and does it really have one? Do I proceed by topic? chronologically? by what most bothers me?  And I still don't know which order will be most conducive to others' understanding so I'll just dive in...

Line upon line.

I'll head to a heavy hitter later.

I have always found beauty on the other side of the fence. Both in a negative way and a positive way - I can easily pine after what I don't have - but I am also adept at appreciating culture and the perspective of others. I looove me some documentaries on others' cultures, traditions, indigenous peoples, etc. I wonder at length as to what we actually 'know' and what we are culturally conditioned to 'know'.

Take dress for example. We have very clear ideas about modesty as a religion and a culture. But are those boundaries - just that - cultural?. Obviously, above waist nudity in indigenous cultures is completely acceptable. It is us who view it as barbaric and lacking restraint. But where those norms don't exist there is no moral degradation in that dress.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for traditional dress of cultures that our missionaries go to and when hearts are converted to the gospel - then things must change. Now I am all for abandoning harmful traditions (ummm like circumcision) - but I like the clothes of the Samoans, the Maori, Kenyans, etc. Including tattoos, hairstyles and whatnot.  And, I think, our Mormonism and Christian faiths ask for drastic changes. Changes that I don't think really serve any purpose for faith.


Where did we get all these downright ridiculous rules?

Only white shirts for men (especially if passing the Sacrament)
No facial hair at BYU or serving in Bishopric
One set of earrings?
Why don't women wear pants to church if they want- especially if you are serving in Nursery - what is more fun than crawling around with little kids with a skirt on.
No skinny jeans - wait, that may not be too bad LOL

And then don't even get me started on this one: Curvy Girl not admitted to BYU testing center because her jeans were too tight.

There are no words for how much this creeped me out.

Are there more rules to learn and follow than actual worship to do?
Just thinking about all of this opened my mind to the thoughts that maybe there is no monopoly on truth.  Would God have it here in one faith and only make it available to less than 1% of the world's population -and then within that small percentage quibble over such silliness?

I for so long felt that I "had" something... something so great in my faith that others surely wanted or needed it as badly as me.

But I'm not that conceited anymore.  I can see around me that there are many people as happy or much happier than me without a prescribed doctrine.

We don't corner the market on spiritual peace, happy families, etc.  In fact when I think of my 'mormon' identity as a whole - happiness does not register very high on the list of descriptives.

In fact as rude as it may sound - I don't really find church meetings all that joyful. Our songs are slllloooooowwww. Our interactions sometimes shallow, our comparisons far and wide.  Even general conferences have made me think - we have more power than this - we can do better!

We should be a place where the tattooed fellow who still smokes a pack a day feels just as comfortable with the white shirted CEO.  The single mom struggling is happy to be next to the stay at home mom.  Where I don't have to hear political messages masked as messages from scripture and feel like the person speaking just assumes everyone in the room agrees with that political persusasion in the first place.

I can't believe anymore that we have the "only" way. I can't believe in a God who would only have one path back to him. My traditions, my faith's ordinances are no better or worse than another's.  We are different. We were made that way. There are different ways to truth, love and happiness.

I am ready to be a little more "do" and a little less "know the rules".

And my journey has just begun.

We human beings have a strange tendency to complicate simple things. We set up rules, laws, bylaws, processes, and subprocesses. Eventually, we pile up load after load until we end up under a huge weight of expectations that are so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them, let alone meet them.
This is one of the reasons Paul said, “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” 

If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?

If you knew that love can't break your heart
When you're down so low you cannot fall
Would you change would you change?

How bad how good does it need to get?
How many losses how much regret?
What chain reaction
What cause and effect
Makes you turn around
Makes you try to explain
Makes you forgive and forget
Makes you change
Makes you change

If you knew that you could be alone
Knowing right being wrong
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings a pain that can't be soothed
Would you change would you change?

How bad how good does it need to get?
How many losses how much regret?
What chain reaction

What cause and effect
Makes you turn around
Makes you try to explain
Makes you forgive and forget
Makes you change
Makes you change

Are you so upright you can't be bent
if it comes to blows
Are you so sure you won't be crawling
If not for the good why risk falling
Why risk falling

If everything you think you know
Makes your life unbearable
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you'd broken every rule and vow
And hard times come to bring you down
Would you change?
Would you change?

If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?

If you saw the face of God and love
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?

-Tracy Chapman