Sunday, October 30, 2005 

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

The Mormon Church recognizes divorce.

“In the gospel view, all marriages should be eternal, and divorce should never enter the picture. But since all men—as a result of apostasy and iniquity—are not living (and in their present states cannot live) the full and perfect gospel law, the Lord permits divorce and allows the dissolution of the marriage union.” B.R. McConkie

I guess if we were all perfect, there would be no need for divorce. As long as we remain imperfect, we need divorce.

The divorce rate peaked in the late 70’s (according to a recent “Radio West” show on NPR…). The divorce rate has declined slowly since then, although it is still a prevalent and prominent family issue nationally. There is an erroneous statistic out there that half of all marriages end in divorce. (You can look that one up, because, again, I heard that myth busted on the Diane Rheim show.)

When I was really little, I didn’t know many people at church who got divorces. Little kids don’t often know what goes on in the adult world. Even when divorce was at its peak, there was still a stigma attached socially (not only in our Mormon culture). These days, while we still may hold certain prejudices against our least favorite member of the couple in question, there is less of a social stigma.

I don’t have much personal experience with divorce. My parents have been happily and successfully married for almost 35 years. I have been blessed with a marriage that is ridiculously easy and thoroughly enjoyable (almost to the point of guilt and sometimes embarrassment).

I think that divorce is sad, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Anyone who might have an experience being ostracized or excluded due to their own marital status or the status of their parents is a victim of personal prejudice and not official church policy, and that, too, is sad.

People change. Some people do complete 180’s. You never think it can happen to you, but it happens. You can never MAKE a person live the commandments or love you, but you can make sure that there are certain elements present in your marriage that would up your chances of staying together. If I weren’t so flu-ish I’d list them, but I’m no expert. I’m just lucky.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 

You could meet somebody who really loves you...

Despite being born and raised (mostly) in Utah, I have attended exactly one youth dance in my entire life. It was enough.

When I was fourteen years old, we lived across the street from the Stake Center. I was still pretty young, so I didn't really pay attention to youth dances even though my dad was involved in Young Men's and was often a chaperon. One night when he was across the street chaperoning a Stake dance, a couple of my friends from school rang my doorbell. Glenn and Ross (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) had been at the dance when my father noticed them and asked them to go get me. Humiliation #1. Thanks, Dad.

As we prepared to go over to the Stake Center, I discovered that I did not have the necessary two dollars to get in. My friends had already paid their admission and gotten their hands stamped. We went up to my room to rummage through my junk drawer, trying to scare up enough change, but to no avail. What I did have was a red Magic Marker, which Glenn expertly used to create a mark on my hand. It was flawless. Our three hand-stamps were indistinguishable. We crossed the street, proud in the knowledge that we had beaten the system. I confidently strode through the packed lobby up to the desk to show my stamp and gain admission, but who should be observing the whole scene but my father. He was talking to someone, far enough away that I couldn't talk to him but close enough to see the whole thing. I put my hand back in my pocket; I couldn't show my awesome forgery without him seeing it, so I panicked. Glenn and Ross were ahead of me and we all ignored the girl with the cash box and just pushed through to the dance. "Hello? It's two dollars!" she yelled after us, but we quickly disappeared in the crowd. Humiliation #2.

The cultural hall was darker than I had ever seen it and a disco ball was hanging from the rafters. I remember distinctly that Erasure was blasting through the speakers. There were a number of people convulsing grotesquely to the music (is there any other way to dance to "Oh, L'Amour"?) but the great majority were gathered into small groups of all boys or all girls. Glenn, Ross and I staked out some ground against a wall and watched the proceedings. This is what my dad wanted me to experience? I couldn't help thinking this was a total waste of time and energy.

It didn't seem unusual at the time, but most surprising to me in hindsight is that we were approached and asked to dance several times by girls. Insecure jerks that we were, we refused all comers. At one point I said to one intrepid girl, "I'm sorry, I don't dance." Which was true, but then why was I at a dance? Ask my father. Wherever you are, girl-who-asked-me-to-dance, I'm sorry. But really, you have no idea how narrowly you escaped the trauma of witnessing my dance moves. You're welcome.

As the dance was winding down, my dad found me. "I noticed that you just kind of pushed your way in tonight."
"Well, I didn't have any money."
"Here's two dollars; make sure you pay them on the way out." Humiliation #3.

Glenn and Ross had to stick around for Ross's mom to pick them up, but I was done. I headed for the door, dreading the humiliation of explaining to the cashier why I was paying her two dollars on the way OUT of the dance. I folded up the two bills, and as I passed the table, I tossed the two dollars near the cash box without turning or slowing down. I bolted for the door as the young woman shouted after me, "thanks for the donation!" My face had turned purple by the time I reached the blessed safety of the outside air. Humiliation #4.

Soon after this incident, my family moved far away from Utah and its awkward youth dances. I can't say I was too disappointed. I am proud to report that after a few mortifying high school dances, I have succeeded in never dancing again, not even at my wedding. You're welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2005 

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

In dancing, as in most things, I require a rigid set of parameters within which I can work. I need a topic to post regularly; I need a page number to write to. If I can figure out the limits in the system, I can use it pretty well. Which is why I am a pretty good "ballroom" dancer (ie. I can do "dances"), but is also why I cannot dance.

Having said that, I don't know why I preferred school dances to stake dances growing up, but I did. After all, what you could and couldn't do was much more strictly defined at stake dances. Some dances were entirely inappropriate. The maintenance of the standard "Book of Mormon width" distance between yourself and your partner was enforced. PDA was discouraged. Learning how to interact appropriately with the opposite sex must be accomplished.

School dances, on the other hand, weren't actually any fun either, but they were more relaxed. You hung out with the people there because you actually liked them (not because they happened to be the only people you knew or the only other members in the area). The teachers didn't ultimately care about the morals of their students and, as a result, we were generally moral. If you left early to go get something to eat, there was no sense of failing to do your part to develop the church and perfect the saints in your area.

Perhaps the pioneers danced because everything else about their lives was so horrible and chaotic that the order and design of those cottilions and Virginia rolls gave them a sort of peace and a sense of civilization that was otherwise utterly absent. The youth today dance because they are told that they need to be date hungry by 16 and this is to prep them for that big date. So, I don't know that the continued emphasis on group dancing is that good an idea (although, if we did it pioneer style, I could put those 8th grade square dance lessons to work).

I think dances are intended to be about building a community. Shared movement is a ritual that brings people closer together. Rock, Rap, Funk, and other modern musical forms simply aren't conducive to such community building (setting the Electric Slide aside, of course). The forms and the dances that accompany them are grounded in the individual experience. They simply don't accomplish the sorts of things that the pioneer dances did for the church community. As a result, we have lost some of our ability to be around each other, which is sad.

At school, society was already splintered. You danced to the songs you liked. You sat for the songs you didn't. You didn't have to be friends with everyone else. The school dance dynamic is much more suited to the musical forms of the era. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone had to dance with everyone? Where would all the cliques go? ;>

In any case, I am much better at the dancing of the pioneers and much more amenable to the setting of the school dance. Is this a case of being in the world, but not of the world? I dunno. All I can tell you is that it's electric.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 

I Could Have Danced All Night

From the very SECOND I turned 14 I LOVED youth dances. I remember with painful clarity how much time I took getting ready for my first dance. I was ready SO EARLY for the dance, that I made my mother take me along shopping with her before she dropped me off at the dance I was so nervous. Being the last one in my group of friend to turn 14, I was thrilled to know that they would all be there and able to fill me in on what was cool and not so cool at the youth dances.

The following is some of my favorite dance memories. These are meaningless little tidbits, but to me, they were the greatest events of my adolecence.

* The first "dance" I truly attended was a ward "manners night" where we learned all things that were appropriate for us to do. We were dressed to impress, so at 13, you KNOW I was looking good. The thing I remember most was THE dorkiest boy in our ward asking me to dance on a fast song (WHAT? A FAST SONG? I KNOW!)and I said, "One second." Went over to JP and said, "WHAT DO I DO? I don't WANT to dance with him!" JP reminded me that you should say yes, even if you don't WANT to dance with them. So, I went back, with pain in my voice agreed to dance with him and really just ended up standing there staring at him as he gyrated. It was frightening.

* My first "offical" dance was marked with sadness that 1) no one asked me to dance (tear) and 2) I thought the way the kids DID dance was utterly RETARDED. I KNEW what real dancing looked like at that was NOT it. I think it was the first time I thought, "Stupid Mormons!" in my head. I've been saying it in my head ever since. You will know I've gone over the edge when I start saying it out loud.

* When I was 15 I became fast friends with the CUTEST BOY I HAD EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE whose name was Aaron. We only saw each other at dances, and he ALWAYS asked me to dance and told me how wonderful I was. Did I mention he was DROP DEAD GORGEOUS? I seriously thought he was put up to it by his freinds, some cruel joke or dare. But, no! That was not the case! He thought I was funny and charming, and danced with me at every single dance for years. To this day I hold a soft spot in my heart for that boy. (sigh)

* Sometime in my seventeenth year, we had a rash of Theme dances. My favorite of these was the "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up" Dance. Essentially, you were supposed to dress in style of what profession you wanted to be someday. So, I went in my pajama's and slippers that looked like gorillia faces (foot inserted into mouth) with a handmade sign on my back that said, "Pulitzer Prize Winner." I can't tell you how many DOZENS of stupid Mormon's came up to me and asked, "Um... what's the Puliter Prize?" Seriously... IDIOTS! But really, it was just an excuse to wear my pajama's... I'll do anything for comfort.

* The weekend afer Kurt Cobain died, there was a casual youth dance. There was a FLOOD of Nirvana t-shirts and people requesting their rather undanceable (and mildly church house inappropriate) tunes. Once again, the thoughts of, "WHATEVER YOU POSERS!" Screamed through my head. I mean, how grunge can a 15 year old Mormon kid actually be?

* To this day, whenever I hear ANY song by Erasure or Ace of Base, the song "Somebody" by Depech Mode, "Love Shack" by The B-52's and the LONG version of Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" I am transported back to the Saturday night dances of my youth. Those moments of wondering if someone, ANYONE, was going to ask me to dance, of laughing at my friends, at the way we felt in that moment, and feeling like maybe this WAS fun after all.

There was something kind of magical about youth dances for me. The magic, sadly, did not continue onto Young Single Adult dances, but I think A LOT of that had to do with the fact that toward the end of my singleness, I was getting baby announcements from people I had babysat and really, there is SUCH a level of desperation at YSA dances that it taints the whole evening. There wasn't any of that at a youth dance because you weren't (or really SHOULDN'T have been) worrying about getting married, and ticking biological clocks. It was a time of innocence, of bad hair, too much make up and learning how to be YOU. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Monday, October 24, 2005 

Ritualistic Torture

We dance. Mormons dance. The pioneers danced across the plains. Our grandparents and great-grandparents dressed to the nines for the annual Gold and Green Ball, our parents boogied to great bands even at BYU (like the Fifth Dimension…can you imagine a 20 jam session on “Age of Aquarius”?...my parents were there, man!), and all my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins attended local stake dances across the country. Like I said, we Mormons…dance.

Then there is me. I AM a dancer. Ballet, tap, jazz, modern, ballroom: you name it. But I HATED stake dances. HATED.

When you turn 14, you are allowed to attend the regional dances sponsored and held at local Mormon churches. In Utah, your region, or stake, may include 4 or five blocks in your neighborhood. Where I grew up, it covered half the state, literally.

I remember being 14 and driving to the monthly dance in New Jersey with my older sister and brother. We would have to drive about an hour to get to any other church besides our own chapel, and I loved the anticipation of something fun that was just around the corner.

But when we got to the dance, the older brother and sister would promptly disappear into the crowd in search of their various friends, and I would be stranded in the dark looking for a familiar and/or friendly face.

Then there was the dancing. I HATE THAT KIND OF DANCING. I can’t do it. I still can’t get over myself. I can’t shut out the feeling that I’m being watched while I dance. I feel silly shaking and side-stepping and pumping my fists. What are you supposed to do with your hands while you dance? I wished I could have worn mittens.

What happened to the good-old-days where the dances were named: “oh, that’s the mashed potato….now, she’s doing the twist…” In my day, the named dances were a joke: the running man, the Roger Rabbit… We did those for about 5 seconds at a time to be silly. What was supposed to fill all that time out there?! And what about dancing with a partner? Rocking in a circle with a boy with sweaty hands while feverishly trying to think of something to say or ask while trying not to breathe on him or be breathed upon!!!

Bleckhhh!


I used to bring a book with me to stake dances as a back-up. For a couple of years there in Massachusetts I was on a stake youth committee; they had the youth in the stake plan ALL the activities: dances, youth conference, mini-missions, temple trips… When no one was looking, when I wasn’t MC-ing, I would sneak out to the mother’s lounge and read for as long as my conscious would allow me before guilt would drive me back in to check on things and make sure every one was having a good time and dancing. I felt compelled to peel the wall-flowers from the perimeter and help them have a good time when I myself wanted nothing more than to leave tire tracks in the parking lot.

I’m not trying to be some kind of martyr…dances just make me feel uncomfortable. Don’t even get me started on Homecomings and Proms…

But the BEST part of the dances was coming home. Sitting in the dark in the back seat of the gray Volvo, mix tape in the deck, brother and sister silent, musing, rolling New England countryside sliding past…that felt like Heaven.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 

Unpleasant dinner conversation

The saying goes that we shouldn't discuss religion or politics over dinner. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that when we go on the internet, we love to talk about these subjects at great length.

What bothers me is when people insist on mixing the two. I submit that there is no good social policy that cannot be better supported by secular arguments than religious. Our country, whether we want to admit it or not, is essentially a secular institution. I have no problem with being conservative, or being religious, but please don't tell me to be conservative because I'm religious.

Do I think Jesus has political opinions? Maybe, but I'll bet they would surprise us. I think we'd be better off if we left him out of this.

Friday, October 21, 2005 

Can't we all just get along?

I suppose that it is one of the ironies of the current religious atmosphere in America that the modern Christian fundamentalist movement began to exert an influence at roughly the same time that Joseph Smith was looking to find the true church. This movement, sometimes called Evangelism out of a desire to get to the real meaning behind the Gospels, in America is a form of Arminianism. It grew up in concert with Darwinism, its other chief rival. All three movements, Restorationism, Evangelism, and Naturalism operate on the same basic principle: I'm right and you are wrong.

I don't know if there is anyway around this. If the Evangelists belief that all other people who do not enter into communion with them regarding proper knowledge of God and proper ordinance are going to hell, how do you not call that exclusive? If the Mormons believe that you have to enter into communion with them regarding proper knowledge of God and proper ordinances in order to get into heaven, it certainly appears that they think their church has greater access to the divine than others. If Naturalists agree that both Evangelists and Restorationists are insane for believing in a higher power, there doesn't seem to be much room for dialogue (after all, we do not converse with crazy people, we tolerate them until they become dangerous).

Perhaps this communicative impasse is particularly frustrating when we seek to combine the political and the spiritual aspects of our life. In all of the above cases, it seems natural to turn to the opinions and documents that give our lives meaning. Although sometimes the above groups may find themselves in agreement, it is understood that such alliances are temporary; they are not really of our kind.

Now, in making this statement, I am distorting the truth. Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, and Mitt Romney aside, I am grossly overestimating the influence of the Restorationists in current political life. We are, after all, curiousities above all else. Additionally, By grouping the traditional Christian denominations as Evangelists, I am doing all concerned a great disservice (after all, modern Evangelism grew out of the same frustrations with the traditional denominations that inspired Joseph Smith to head for the woods). Certainly, one can be a christian without being an evangelist or a restorationist. Nonetheless, it does seem that the single most politically powerful religious movement of the day is that of Christian Conservatives, the so-called religious right.

I have always viewed the goals, explicit or otherwise, of the Christian conservative with suspicion. I have earned, through personal experience, an understanding of how Christian conservatives view me which leads me to question why I should entrust my political future to them. Nonetheless, it does appear that in many ways I am supposed to agree with them on issues of social justice. They and I both view abortion as terribly troubling. They and I both agree that the coarsening of culture over time is something that, while possibly inevitable, should be battled. That said, I don’t know why I should vote like they do.

Let me be more specific. If we allow politicians to put us into these groups (Evangelists, Restorationists, Liberals, Conservatives, etc.), we are effectively allow other people to dictate our position for us. I don’t see anything useful in that. While I may be more sympathetically to the Democratic platform generally, I am far from being a Democrat. I don’t like it when people tell me how I believe in God and I don’t like it when people tell me how God thinks I should vote. I am perfectly capable of working that out without outside interference.

The polarization of religious debate in America, like all other polarizing debates, too quickly creates categories into which most people simply do not fall. If I don’t take Pat Robertson as representative of all the Evangelical Christians out there, please do me a favor and don’t take Warren Jeffs or John D. Lee as representative of mine. We all come out looking good if we take the worst examples of our rivals’ factions and compare them to the best examples of our faction, but I don’t think we get any closer to the truth. What we need to discuss is what we have in common first, and then we can discuss what we don’t. If we focus on the differences, we are likely to find ourselves in endless monologues, pointing out how spiritually insightful we happen to be. There is no truth there, only pride.

Ultimately, I don’t believe that what the right or the left has to say is particularly important. However, what the religious say is important, supremely so. If there is a way we can get those people together and talking, I think we may be able to get some progress.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 

Am I Right, Or Am I Right??!

It bugs me when people think that their way is THE ONLY WAY. It drives me up a tree to talk to anyone who cannot, for one second, fathom another way of doing things or that someone else just might have a good point. So it boggles the mind that I, JP, married into SUCH a family. If you have even taken a gander at my site, you will quickly realize that my mother in-law is the type of person that will eat you alive if you disagree with her. All 4’11” of her. You’d think with her being such a tiny person, you would have no trouble having your own opinion. But then you would be WRONG. Again.

A few years ago, at a family dinner for my husband’s side of the family, a few of us talked quite a bit about religion. We discussed several religions and different aspects of each, but our discussions were very general and very light. My mother in-law sat there listening through our lengthy conversation and then abruptly left the table. We continued our conversation, which happened to have landed on tithing and/or offerings and a few minutes later, my mother in-law returned to the table with a program from the last Sunday’s Mass. Being a devout Catholic, she saw the need to fill us in on all our wrong ideas and opinions. When we told her that we were just discussing general religious topics and that we weren’t really looking to verify any doctrine. She disagreed (somehow) with our way of thinking and felt it appropriate to tell us exactly how we should believe.

Insert much eyebrow raising here.

While I’m very happy that she has a firm belief in what she knows to be true, I don’t feel that anyone should ever make someone else, who may have a difference in opinion, feel inferior in any way. Sitting around the table with these family members who do not practice any religion and who are having a general religious discussion, it is a bit much to take for them when someone is shoving it down their throat. And who is telling them HOW they should think and believe.

I just don’t think that’s okay.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 

My Religion Can Beat Up Your Religion

About two years ago I was at the dog park with my two puppies. I was socializing with the other dog owners, which was always one of my favorite aspects of spending time at the dog park.

There was a couple there who were talking about how much they were going to miss the dog park when they moved to Utah and how they were a little worried about moving to Utah because of all of the Mormons.

They spouted off a few false "facts" about Mormons, like how they still had multiple wives (since there weren't moving to southern Utah, I considered this false) and how they depend on thier kids to get them to heaven, which is why they have so many.

I spoke up in defense of accuracy and attempted to tell them that what they had heard wasn't correct. I told them I used to be Mormon, so that's how I know.

All of the sudden, I was under attack. "Why did you leave? Is it because you didn't want to have 10 kids?" Ummm... my reasons for leaving aren't relevant. I just wanted you to know what they actually believe. "Is it because you know that Joseph Smith was a fraud?" No. My reasons for leaving had nothing to do with that. They are personal. "Well, what are they? Why did you leave?" THEY ARE PERSONAL.

I had to leave immediately. I wasn't ready to talk about it at that point in my life. But what struck me is that this attitude of incessant questioning so that you can prove your point is something that I'd seen before. Perhaps it's something I'd done before.

When you get into a religious discussion with someone and the veracity of a religious belief becomes a point of argument, people don't just give in. They argue and question and probe until you become raw and distrustful and angry.

When I've had conversations with people who are deeply committed to their religion, but who don't seem to live the principals it teaches (like patience, kindness, tolerance) I get terribly frustrated. Don't they know that having such a discussion with someone who believes differently will not result in a conversion, but an avoidance and a abhorance of the religion they are trying to promote?

Have you been party to one of these discussions arguments or whose religion (or lack thereof) is better? Does it ever serve the purpose you hope it will?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 

Please Forgive Me

One of the most interesting experiences of my life was sitting down with a bishop I had while in a BYU ward and basically telling him the sad story of my life. I talked about things that had happened to me, and how painful they continued to be, but how I felt it was my responsibility to forgive those who had trespassed against me. My bishop scrunched up his face a little and said, "Sarah, you don't have to forgive them in situations such as this." I thought for a moment. A long, long moment. And then I looked my bishop in the eye and said, "I may not HAVE to, but I know that if I don't, it will eat me alive." I was 19 years old, confused about my life and where I belonged in the world, but that one thing was perfectly clear. Forgiving for the things that happened to me had almost nothing to do with the persons who had transgressed against me, but it had everything to do with me letting go of that pain.

I won't say that the process was easy, it was surely not. Even now, almost a decade later, I have moments where the pain flares and the anger returns because of things that happened ages ago. But, for the most part, I feel I have forgiven - not only those who trespassed, but I have forgiven myself and that is something that is often much harder than forgiving others. There have been countless times that I have freely forgiven someone else but harbored the most hateful feelings toward myself for something so completely minor I hardly merits being thought about, let alone feeling as terrible as I've been known to make myself feel about things. Over the years I have learned this is not Heavenly Fathers way, but very much a tool of the Satan.

Do I believe anyone is beyond forgiveness? No, not really. I have seen forgiveness work miracles in people. I have seen the letting go of a grudge lighten someone's life exponentially. There is no use in carrying that hurt around. In the words of every recovering addict I've ever met, it is just better to Let Go and Let God. It is better to forgive. If you don't, the pain and hurt will do nothing less than eat you alive.

Monday, October 17, 2005 

What About the Religious Left?

What about us? I mean, I’m always right anyway whether we’re talking religion or directions or fashion, right? But what if my leanings are left? Am I still right?

I wish I weren’t the first writer this week, not only do I have a house full of unexpected guests (I have two rooms that are SO dirty it looks like I have a couple of squatters…), I am rather looking forward to the comments of our readers. Should I start off with something controversial, just to get the ball rolling?

How about…hmmm…of course, the religious right are right because they are religious and religious people are always right…

…or…just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in you…

hmmm… what are some of my other favorite right wing zingers?…

Well, all you have to do look up “religious right bumper stickers” on Google to get a good smattering of drivel.

I know that non-religious people sometimes get up tight about someone, anyone, who says they have the answer when it comes to religion. It annoys them because it must seem terribly self-righteous. I just like to keep in mind that while I love and enjoy my religion, I am considered DEAD WRONG by pretty much any other religious person NOT of my same religion. It’s not only non-religious people who think the religious right are self righteous…it pretty much works for everyone with opposing views.

But don’t forget…I’m right, or rather left but right.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 

I'm not the man you think I am...

We live in a decidedly unheroic age. We know too much. Our political leaders lead uninspiring lives; our sports stars abuse drugs and women nonchalantly. Not only are no new heroes emerging, all our old heroes are quickly falling to Earth. Your personal hero may have been a racist or a womanizer. We have more information than ever, and can share it with the click of a mouse. Gone are the days when we could live in comfortable ignorance about the personal life of, say, Thomas Jefferson.

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it's more healthy to have a realistic view of other human beings and their short-comings. Some people may be inspiring, but if we idolize them too much, they become unreal and remote. This is why I think we need to have a more balanced view of our church leaders, both past and present.

I'm encouraged by the reports I've read of the recent books which have come out on the lives of Joseph Smith, David O. McKay, and Spencer W. Kimball. We need to learn about all aspects of the prophets' lives, and not just the faith-promoting stories. I don't think it's healthy for us or the Church to try to elide the parts of our history that make us uncomfortable. Getting this stuff out in the open is enormously helpful in both understanding the past and identifying with the prophets as real people.

Contrast this with the man who I consider to be the least interesting prophet of all time, Nephi. Nephi is boring, two-dimensional, and unreal. He never doubts, never wavers, and never makes a mistake except breaking his bow. I'm sure he had a lot of personal problems that Laman and Lemuel could tell us about, but they didn't get to add a "Republican Response" to the end of 2nd Nephi. Nephi can't be my hero; I can't identify with him. He is a victim of his own propaganda.

I guess I'd rather read about a rough stone rolling than the unremittingly righteous.

Friday, October 14, 2005 

The Screw

Jason Hancock was my trainer on my mission. When I arrived in Moscow, I was overwhelmed. The airport was dusty, load, old, and it spoke a foreign tongue that seemed wholly unlike the one I had learned in the MTC. The AP's had hired a city bus to bring us into town. The buildings were crowded together; the innumerable host of people appeared as windswept as the perpetually flying plastic bags. One by one, the people whom I had come to Moscow with were picked up by bright-eyed young men in crisp white shirts and dark ties. I was the last to leave the office. All the elders there assured me that Elder Hancock would come, that he was just screwing around with me.

Jason Hancock had a wide smile, dark hair (parted down the middle), slightly dorky glasses, and ring around the collar. Although he isn't ugly, the person he reminds me of most is the smaller, rounder kid of the trick-or-treaters in The Nightmare before Christmas. The personality kind of fits, too.

Elder Hancock finally came, took me out to the street to get a taxi, chatted the driver up all the way to our apartment, and then helped me carry my things up. Some of Hancock's missionary buddies were there, having spent the night because they had come in from Nizhny Novgorod. They joked and laughed with each other, cracking jokes in Russian about my inability to understand them. I asked Elder Hancock what we were going to do and he said that he had nothing planned, because I would need to sleep. He was right. Some of the best advice he ever gave me was, "Don't wake up until morning, no matter what."

Live with Hancock was interesting. We tracted some and street contacted some. We also listened to an awful lot of Broadway Musicals. Any respect that I have for Andrew Lloyd Webber comes from this period (tempered by an abiding hate for The Phantom of the Opera). Of course, we didn't necessarily limit ourselves to musicals. Hancock had become enamored of Sarah Brightman (see above Webber comment) and had purchased her latest CD. Occasional other rock or classical motifs appeared. Hancock had plenty of music to choose from because he had convinced his trainer to bring Hancock's entire CD collection with them from Utah when they came to pick up their son.

I can't remember the name of Hancock's trainer at the moment, but he was famous for having a glass eye. When kids got unruly during discussions, he would pop it out and turn it to watch them. Apparently, they quieted up under the gaze of the all-seeing eye. He had been shot in the eye with an arrow by his kid brother. His family owned the "kiss-a-pig" petting zoo in Vernal, UT (with a pig on the sign). Of course, I got all of this information from Hancock.

Hancock wasn't the most notorious liar in the mission. Another elder, who made AP, apparently managed to convince one of his companions that the Three Nephites had dropped by for a visit while the companion was in the shower. Yet another attempted to convince a greenie that the Church had okayed vodka use for missionary purposes in the Russian field (and was shocked when the greenie went along). However, Hancock was probably the most charismatic.

Hancock loved shopki, the stereotypical, boxy Russian hats. He took me to a vast open-air market on my second day in country so that I could buy one. He told me story after story to demonstrate what a shrewd bargainer he was. He had bought several of the hats already. He got himself an impressive wolf one, which gave him a bearing somewhat like a cross between Christopher Lloyd and Yahoo Serious. He also helped me buy a "black mink" one for something like $100. When, months later, I discovered that black mink meant "dyed rabbit", I could have killed him. But he had already left.

I was his next to last companion. He had four months left when he got me and he loved to discuss what he would do when he got home. In particular, he imagined himself naked...in a pool...with girls (I wonder how many searchers that sentence will pull in).

In our second month together, Hancock got appendictus. They took him to a Russian hospital where, he later told, all the nurses came in while he was being prepped for surgery because they had never seen a circumcised man before. During the surgery, the entirety of The Phantom of the Opera played out in his head. He was shaken awake by a nurse briefly, who asked him if he wanted what looked like a pickle in a jar. He only later realized what he had turned down. He was terribly disappointed in his judgment.

I have many heroes. My wife, my parents, my siblings, my kids, church figures, and others. I don't know why I feel like discussing Hancock. He was an unrepentent screw. He didn't much care about mission rules if they interfered with his idea of a good time or idea. During his convalescense, when all I could do was sit around the apartment, he encouraged me to read Tom Clancy books. He was convinced that our landlord was sneaking in to our apartment when we were out and using our soap. He was hedonistic, trunky, abrasive, irreverent and goofy. I love him to this day.

One day, we were out working. We actually did a fair amount of it, though not as much as our overzealous DL thought was necessary. In any case, we spent a full day getting nothing accomplished. So, Hancock decided we would go home. We still had plenty of evening left. Work could have been done. But Hancock had the wisdom to see that we weren't going to be able to do it. When we got home, he got out brooms and we cleaned the apartment. I am not sure why, but cleaning that apartment that night brought me closer to the Lord than all the frustrating work that we had done during the day had. Afterward, Hancock encouraged me to sit out on the balcony and watch the sunlight fade away.

Hancock understood that we are, after all, just folk, in a way that I didn't then and sometimes still don't. God doesn't expect us to be perfect; he expects us to be us, and he seems happy to work with that. God doesn't expect heroics from us all the time, he realizes that we have to sleep. Hancock did whatever he did sincerely, with a good heart and an understanding of the fragile humanity that binds us together. In his own wierd way, he was a hero.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 

Calling Out for a Hero

I feel like I’ll just be restating everything that Kaycee said in her post because that really is how I feel. I don’t look to any one person or group and identify them as a specific HERO of mine. My parents, my family, my friends…there are many people who do heroic things every day…even if it’s not saving the world dressed in spandex and a cape. I think it’s important to remember that each of us have the potential to be a hero for someone else even if we don't even realize it.

Remember,

“It’s not the big things you say, it’s the little things you do.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 

The Little Things Count

Although I'm completely enamored with the idea of having super powers, of doing good and righting wrongs, and of wearing spandex making this world better--by saving it on a regular basis--I can't say that I know any super heroes. It's not that I'm not trying to find them... the people who never give in and never give up and use their X-Ray vision to help people... it's just that they aren't there.

In comic books and cartoons, super heroes face challenges and always overcome. They might look trapped and the world might appear to be "doomed," but the super heroes come out ahead (otherwise the author would be out of a job). Real life doesn't work like that.

Sometimes, even the people who are the strongest, who refuse to accept failure or defeat, who look excellent in spandex carry the burdens of others... saving their worlds... sometimes they give up. They give up, even if it's only on the inside, even if it's only for a minute, they are defeated.

Does that take away their super-hero-ness? I think it does. The good news is that it makes us all the same. We all can be like those strong, inspirational people, too. We just have to not "give up" permanently.

That's why I find the salvations offered up daily to be the real acts of a hero.

For example, yesterday while I was driving I was unable to change lanes due to traffic and was at a stoplight about to go straight when I needed to go right. A nice man saw my plight, steered his own vehicle out of the way so that I could move by and I got to my destination on time and in safety. He couldn't hear it, but I told him he was my hero.

People who remember to give their secret pals gifts are heroes. So are people who keep coming up with creative ways to donate money to breast cancer research. And the people who stick to a healthy lifestyle even when they don't like it.

Basically, I consider anyone who does something I find difficult but valuable, a hero. That's what the superheroes do... difficult, but valuable work. I see heroes in the small, every day acts people perform.

I've always felt this way, but for a time, I used the amalgam of personal traits and character strengths of others as an impossible standard which I emotionally held myself to. Now I realize that I can just appreciate what Superman or Wonder Woman's got going on and that I don't necessarily need to go all Supergirl on the world.

Monday, October 10, 2005 

My Personal Heroes and Heroines

I had several heroes growing up: Maria Tallchief (the first Native American principle dancer for a major ballet company), Lena Horn (a beautiful and talented singer who tried to break the racial barriers of early Hollywood), and Condorman played by future phantom Michael Crawford (seriously, I thought “Condorman” was the coolest movie going…for a while there…).

But as I’ve grown older and wiser, as my priorities have shifted, two people have played prominent roles in becoming my “guiding stars” to steer my developing character and important decisions: my mom and dad (this is where you’re supposed to go “aaaaaw” with a happy little frown…).

My mom and dad come from good, “normal” families. But what sticks out to me is the decisions my parents have made throughout their family…um, career.

Here is a good example: They have both been committed to the Gospel and to the church all my life. At the age of 29, my dad accepted a call to be a mission president in the country in which he served as a missionary: Sweden. He gave up a secure job (in which he had recently been promoted), a new home (after years in an apartment), and a new car.

My mom, never having had the advantage of going on a mission to Sweden and learning the language, agreed to go and support her husband in this calling. By the time they packed up and left, they had 4 children, the youngest being 2 weeks old.

My dad had missionaries who were older than he was. My mom was a hot PYT (pretty young thing) and had to be a “mission mom” and a source of counsel and inspiration to a group of missionaries, basically her peers. She also had to learn Swedish from scratch. My dad dealt with teaching, training, speaking, and leading. My mom had to deal with children (number 5 was born in Sweden), a foreign language, foreign currency, schools, speaking assignments, and hosting a constant stream of family visitors and church leaders. To her credit, she only cried two times: in a testimony meeting early on when she realized she couldn’t understand a single word of what was going on and once in the produce section of the grocery store (foreign currency and the metric system had taken its toll…). I don’t know if my dad cried out of frustration, but knowing him, he probably cried along with some of his missionaries.

It took a lot of faith for my parents to do what they did. They literally left everything to go serve the Lord for three years. I’ve made a covenant to do that, too, but I have never been asked, and if I were, could I go so willingly? But that singular experience, I believe, has had more impact on our family character and identity than any other decision they have ever made. It really set a precedence that would carry on for the rest of out family life: constant moving, church callings, and a willingness to stand up and serve anywhere, anytime.

When I think about what my parents were doing at my age (by my current age, my mom was pregnant with the last…number 7, and my dad had been promoted um-teen times within the company he still works for…) I am overwhelmed. I’m such an underachiever! Not like it’s a contest, but I have a lot to live up to; a lot to strive for. That is what a hero is to me; someone to aspire to…something to strive (not stroll) towards. I don’t want 7 kids, and I don’t want to be a retail executive (OK, maybe a lower level executive…), but I want to be as committed as they are. I want to be as smart as they are. And I want to have a close and loving family like they created for us.

Saturday, October 08, 2005 

Trudging slowly over wet sand...

After reading my cohorts' posts on the subject and all the comments, I think it's safe to say that everyone hates Mormon Sundays.

Sundays from my childhood were invariably headache days. The combination of getting up early, having only one big meal, and being cooped up in the house always gave me a headache. My parents never let us play outside on Sundays (with all of the other Mormon kids), so my siblings and I always associated Sunday with being miserable and stuck in a stuffy house playing game after game of Mastermind.

Like Kaycee, when I went inactive, I was amazed by this entirely new day that lay before me, ripe with possibilities: Saturday II. Instantaneously, my weekend doubled. That's tough to compete with. It'll be years before we're able to squeeze another day off into the week.

When trying to decide what feels right to do on Sundays, I think it's important to look back on the origin of Sabbath observance. The Sabbath was instituted after the Israelites were freed from bondage in Egypt. They went from having to work seven days a week (being slaves and all) to having a rest day. In fact, not only did they not have to work, they were prohibited from working on pain of death. As we can see, it was a pretty sweet deal for them. All they had to do on their day off was to remember who freed them from the Egyptians.

Think of how great those first Sabbaths must have been for the Israelites; the only time that came close for me was those first couple of Sundays with limitless possibilities. I think every Sunday should be more like that: a day of joy, feeling happy to be alive. I don't think we're doing the Lord any favors by dedicating a miserable day to him. I know this point often gets obscured in church, but God actually wants us to be happy. It's silly and counter-productive in my opinion to wear our suffering like a badge to prove how dedicated we are. Go out, have fun. Drive around. See a movie. (Trust me, no matter how many Mormons there are, the movies will always be open on Sunday. You're not making the projectionist work any more than s/he'd already have to.) Enjoy your free time, and thank God you're not making bricks for some guy in a silly headdress. That's what the Sabbath was originally about.

Whatever you do, don't force your kids to stay inside and play board games in their Sunday clothes. LET MY PEOPLE GO!

Friday, October 07, 2005 

It's all fun and games until...

My favorite Sabbath memories growing up are of going golfing with my father. Occasionally, if one of us was a little sick or just in need of Dad time, we would be allowed to go with him over to the Cecil Field Naval Air Base golf course. He played there every Sunday morning with his brother (Uncle Bill), an optician friend (Shorty), and some other guy I can't remember.

Playing golf with Dad never meant actually playing golf. It meant driving the golf cart, holding the flag, figuring out what the five-iron was, and getting a large styrofoam cup of hot chocolate and a bacon and egg sandwich, which you would pull apart so you could dip the toast into the chocolate. It meant a lot of time on the practice putting green while Dad and his buddies settled the debts made by the various bets made on the course. It meant listening to my Father curse and his friends tell slightly off-color jokes. It appears to me now as an ex-military late-50's Eden, where the lawn was always green, the mist clung to the ground in the cool mornings, deer would occasionally wander across the fairways, and squirrels would hang around for left over bits of breakfast. I miss sitting there, wrapped in my father's coat, as he zoomed along the little asphalt paths, up and down little man-made hills like it was a roller coaster.

Of course, this all happened before I knew I wasn't supposed to be enjoying this. This sort of activity isn't appropriate for the Sabbath, I have been assured. I never know how to believe that.

My father worked a lot and went to bed early. If we wanted to see him before school, we had to be up before 6 to catch a glimpse. During the week, we had homework (and TV) to keep us occupied, along the the various church functions. Saturday was usually busy with friends, school projects, the garden, chores, and the various things you do to get ready for Sunday. Sunday was for family. Family, in my family, has always meant games.

My wife marvels at this. My family cannot get together and talk without a deck of cards. Not all of our favorite family stories revolve around games of Oh Heck, Balderdash, or Tripoley, but quite a few do. When my brother and I talk, it is, more often than not, to discuss the fate of our fantasy football teams. The bulk of my relationship with a favorite aunt was developed over games of penny-ante poker. That I am close with my cousins at all is entirely due to the existence of face cards. We all play games together and while we play, we talk, joke, tease, murmur, mumble, and shout. I won't pretend that the more profound conversations I have had in life have occurred over a card table, but most of the ones I remember have.

I hated church growing up or, rather, I hated Sacrament Meeting. Long boring talks, slow minor-key hymns, and long uncomfortable seats do not make for happy Sunday memories. But I loved the Sabbath. It was the day my family played together. It was the day when we felt most like a family.

If the Sabbath is the day that we give back to the Lord, I don't know how it could be better spent.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 

What Constitutes Holy?

I feel like a hypocrite when I say that I see that there is a benefit (to those who chose to do it) to keeping the Sabbath Day holy when it is not something I practice. I’m not against it, it’s just not something that I chose. Having said that, there is a lot of “busyness” on Sundays for church members who have “busy”callings, have teenagers with firesides, choir practice, stake meeting and other various church meetings that adds on a bunch to just a regular church schedule. I think that keeping the Sabbath Day holy takes on an entirely new meaning this day and age.

Sure, not everyone has a calling that demands so much of their time or has choir practice, firesides, etc. But we sure did growing up (and my parents and siblings still do.) With all the church meetings and activities, do you really have time for much holiness in the “keeping the Sabbath Day holy” equation?

I’m just throwing those out there for argument sake. Like Carrie Anne touched upon, the church is fairly vague about what keeping the Sabbath Day holy should mean to each member, besides the obvious. It’s up to each person of family to figure out what it means for them.

Personally, my only goal for Sundays is to be with my family. Spend as much time together as possible and get ready for another whirl-wind of a week. If we happen to need to go to the store, go to lunch with friends…so be it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

Holy Sabbath, Postman!

So maybe I should've written about this last week, but the idea that keeping the Sabbath holy is some sort of fantastic life choice that makes life so much better is just a myth.

One of my favorite things about not being Mormon anymore is all of the free time! I love that I don't have to get up for church and I don't have to perform the duties of a calling (that I don't even like anyways). I like that I can split my shopping and relaxing time into two days.

That being said, I think a lot of people are keeping the idea of a holy Sabbath alive and well.

For instance, my husband's family gets together for breakfast or lunch every Sunday. My own family has monthly gatherings on Sunday. I work at a school and events are never planned for Sundays, even though there is "Saturday School" and occaisional service projects or field trips on Saturday.

Many employers still pay an increased wage on Sundays. Stores and shopping malls close early on Sundays. Nobody has a Sunday as their trash day (as in waste collection management). Banks are never, ever, ever open on a Sunday. Even the DMV and US Post Office take the day off.

Despite our modern way of treating Sunday as a second Saturday, there is a residual respect for it built into our way of doing business. This might not mean good things for me and my need to get things done, but I think it should still mean something to the rest of the God-fearing world.

 

Sundays With Sarah

7:30 am - Wake Up, wake husband up.

7:40 am - "Quality Time" with husband.

8:10 am - Shower, primp, etc.

8:30 am - Breakfast (or if it's fast Sunday, smell things in the fridge.

8:50 am - Leave for church; argue about who gets to drive; ultimently win arguement again.

8:55 am - Arrive at church, sit in the same pew we've sat in since the first day in the ward.

9:00 am - Sacrament meeting - usually involves some eye rolling on my part and writing notes to my husband that read things like, "Is this guy SERIOUS????"; think about how hot Hell will be as I burn there.

10:10 am - Sunday School - usually, husband and I are so bored with the dry and Spiritless lesson that we write notes, name our hypothetical children or talk about what we're going to eat when we get home bringing us one step closer to Hell.

11:10 am - Relief Society - eye rolling and deep sighing continue as woman make me feel like there is no doubt I will be going to Hell; try to think that I'm almost there, and soon I will be home and able to eat.

12:02 pm - RUN into my husbands arms and RACE for the exit before anyone tries to talk to us.

12:07 pm - Get home, get out of church clothes, EAT!!!!!

12:30 pm - "Quality Time" with husband

1:30 pm - Nap

3:00 pm - Wake up, read book of choice, nibble on whatever looks good.

5:00 pm - begin making dinner (although, usually it's a crock pot dinner so I don't have to interupt my reading time)

7:00 pm - Dinner, discuss with husband the weird people at church, laugh heartily, think more about eternal damnation that is eminent

7:30 pm - husband plays video game, I watch TV or DVD

8:30 pm - husband joins me in living room, watch TV or DVD, make out like teenagers

10:00 pm - Go to bed.

11:04 pm - Sneak out of bed for something sweet.

11:15 pm - Return to bed, fall asleep and try not to dream about weird church people.

Monday, October 03, 2005 

The Forgotten Commandment

Lots of people who are not religious would say they follow the basic Christian-Judeo notion of the 10 commandments. I’m sure they are thinking of “Thou shalt not kill” or steal, or commit adultery…or at least they would generally frown upon such things, but “Keep the Sabbath day holy”? Maybe there should only be 9 basic commandments…

Mormons (and pretty much every other Christian denomination) regard Sunday as the “Sabbath”, meaning that they regard it as a holy day. On Sunday, we commemorate the 7th “day” of creation, or the “break” God took after he created the world. It is a day to be set aside to rest from our labors and worship God.

Mormons are a little different in how we treat Sundays. On the Sabbath, we generally refrain from such activities that involve work, or activities that would cause someone else to work on our behalf: shopping, attending movies or other performances or sporting events, participating in organized sports, etc. But it’s not only about “refraining” from work, it is about setting aside time to be still, to direct our thoughts to God and his plan and purposes, and a time to be reverent.

This does not mean we are encouraged to lie around all day (although it happens more often than not in my house). We are encouraged to plan constructive activities that would support the “no work/think about God” agenda while allowing us to spend time with family: attend church services, fulfill church callings and duties, spend quality time with the family, read scriptures, pray, take a walk and enjoy God’s creations, blog (that is my suggestion), write letters to loved ones and friends (catch up on email), take a nap, enjoy a hobby (arts and crafts, writing, anything calm I suppose), etc.

The church is officially pretty vague about what constitutes keeping the Sabbath day holy. This is intentional because it is a commandment that can get out of control. Think about those poor Hasidic Jewish women of Williamsburg, Brooklyn who have to contrive elaborate schemes of string and rope to be able to push a stroller to synagogue! I respect their determination to obey this commandment, but I think this is one thing that God let’s us figure out according to the dictates of our own conscience. I have noticed, however, that this topic comes up frequently in General Conference, but never with an absolute list of do’s and don’t’s (although shopping is often mentioned specifically).

Personally, I am grateful for the Sabbath. Growing up, it was the only day I was guaranteed to see my day for at least part of the day. And we often went to my grandparent’s house where we would all hang out and talk and play and eat my grandma’s weird marshmallow frosted cakes. It’s not that hard for us to plan ahead so that we don’t have to shop or do much on Sunday. I see the rest of the week as being for me and my needs, and I try to give the Lord one day in return (hey, like tithing!).

My one BIG issue with Sundays is that because I am “mentally confined” to the house, it is my best cleaning day! When we have 1pm church, I can get most of the house clean in that short amount of time. It’s magic! But I am trying to plan better so that Sunday doesn’t become my cleaning day, I want it to be my “rest from my labors” day, but it’s hard to rest when your house is a mess. I’m working on it…

Sunday, October 02, 2005 

Who's Got the Look?

We have a new look here at VSoM and I hope you like it. I think the butterfly (a "Mormon Butterfly" if you can believe there are such creatures) is a universal icon of change and has very definative stages in its life.

If you do like the new look (showing appreciation for the creative venture and symbolism), or if you don't (because that bug never goes away--no matter how far down you scroll), you can comment here (as opposed to commenting on Carrie Ann's excellent Monday post).

And, although he introduced himself, we want to welcome Ned Flanders to the posting schedule and as well as wish JLS a fond farewell.

Saturday, October 01, 2005 

Paint a vulgar picture

First of all, I want to thank everyone here at VSoM for having me. No one can replace JLS, but perhaps when you're reading my first post, my voice will be transformed into his, and you'll know that I am his true and destined successor, not JLS the third or Sidney Rigdon.

My favorite Mormon myth has already been mentioned in passing in the comments on John's post. Yes, I'll admit it: I believed the Del Parson's Jesus myth. Fortunately, no one knows my real name, so the teasing will sting much less.

Imagine for a moment being in the ninth grade in Utah, walking ten feet off school property to attend seminary between algebra and earth science class. Our overly-enthusiastic, fresh-off-the-mission seminary teacher is filling our heads with the gospel. Or at least what he believes is the gospel. His stories include such classics as Elders being killed at the beach on their P-day (divine retribution for breaking the rules or Satan controlling the water? You decide!), angels with flaming swords protecting the Sister missionaries from would-be rapists, and of course, missionaries in Harlem miraculously starting their car without a battery to escape muggers. Most kids at that age already have a built-in b.s. detector, but not me. I am soaking it all up uncritically as my seminary teacher tells us how the artist commissioned by the Church to paint a portrait of Jesus keeps getting his painting rejected by the Brethren. They say that it's not quite right, and tell him how to change it. Finally, he prays for inspiration and presents them with his final draft. The prophet says that it is the closest resemblance to the Savior that he has ever seen. And that picture is (drum-roll please)... the red-robed Jesus that we all know and love!

Pretty ridiculous, I know, but somehow it got swept up with everything else I was learning about the church and I never realized that it was a Mormon myth. When I was at the MTC, I was certain only to buy the picture of the red-robed Jesus for the cover of my discussions, because it was the only one that looked just like him! Very embarrassing.

The thing I love about this myth is the sheer presumptuousness of it. It's not enough to be the only church guided by Jesus, we also have to be the only church that knows exactly what he looks like. I think it also reveals a little bit of our inferiority complex. Mormonism has always had the rhetoric of a world religion but been stuck with the membership of a regional religion. We are always looking to grab on to something to ease the tension between our self-image (God's One and Only True Church) and the image others have of us (weird, small, Utah religion).

We must be in the right church. Our apostles can pick Jesus out of a line-up, like they were on Law & Order. "Number 4, please step forward." This myth also reveals our collective fantasy about the prophet and apostles: we desperately want to believe that they are having face-to-face time with the Savior. They never say anything about it (at least not for the last eighty years), so we cling to the belief that they just aren't telling us.

Sadly, nothing in life will ever be as simple as these myths, or more accurately, Mormon fantasies. Gordon B. Hinckley goes on Larry King and 60 Minutes and gives vague, wishy-washy, and maddeningly unsatisfying answers. We want him to be Moses, we want him to speak to God face to face. We don't want to hear about feelings and impressions; we want to hear how God warned him about 9/11 and the tsunami. So when we hear a story from the Sunday School President whose brother-in-law works at the Church Office Building and swears he was there when it happened, we feel our faith has been vindicated.

That's okay, we won't have to worry about these things for too much longer. I heard they aren't calling any more missionaries because the second coming will happen before they come back. Good thing Brigham Young constructed the foundation of the Salt Lake temple so that it can be lifted from above.

This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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