My heart won’t stop hurting. I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin have been summoned to church court for their activities related to the Ordain Women movement and the Mormon LGBT movement. I’m not upset because I’m an ardent supporter of either movement. I’m upset because I firmly believe that every Saint deserves to have a voice in our community. I’m upset because I am so grateful to people like Kate and John who are willing to say “dangerous” things out loud, when so many of us want to, but are too afraid to. I’m upset because of the atmosphere of fear that enters into our faith community when this sort of thing happens. What can I safely say? What causes dear to my heart will be “approved” by my respected church leaders? Do I trust my own spirit to hear and interpret the voice of the Holy Spirit, or do I leave that solely to my leaders, who I am sure listen to the same Spirit? What do I do when those spiritual interpretations collide? This sort of conundrum causes all sorts of self doubt. Some walk. Sometimes I wonder if the best of us walk, and if my choice to stay is foolish or faithful. I’ll say it right here at the start, though: despite all its man-made quirks and flaws, I love the Church and am convinced it holds the power of full salvation. So I stay. But right now, it just hurts. Continue reading
My sister and I have ongoing conversations about big ward/little ward, in-Utah/outside-of-Utah church experiences. You’ve probably held similar conversations with friends and family.
Our conclusion? There are pluses and minuses everywhere.
My sister lives in San Diego in what they think is a large ward, but it’s small enough that all the Young Women meet in one class and everyone takes turns serving in time-consuming callings. Ward members treat each other like family and gather for every holiday and birthday.
Sitting in the middle of the church gym, my heart swelled with emotion and tears wet my cheeks. It had been too, too long, but the effect was the same. Listening to one of Morten Lauridsen’s compositions does something to me. John Rutter, Leonard Bernstein, likewise. I want to soak those sounds into my soul. In high school, as I prepared for auditions for state choirs I never made, I fell hard for the music selections. Those weaving, itching chords, make me bask in their intensity, then sigh in jubilation and wonder as they resolve. Classical music, and particularly choral music, reaches me. Those transcendent sound waves ripple my listening ears, evoking layers of listening pleasure that other music just doesn’t touch for me. It’s a spiritual experience, both listening and singing.
It wasn’t always so pleasurable. When I started a new high school, my love-love relationship with music, became more dynamic. My new choir director rubbed me the wrong way. She lead grueling, seemingly endless practices- standing until my legs hurt, and holding phrases until my lungs cried uncle. That director was gifted, but brutal. She threw music stands, insulted students, yelled in our faces, and threatened us that the authorities would find her in a closet dead-drunk from Drano martinis from the depression we were sending her into, by failing to meet the expectations she had for us. Those moments made be question why I was there. But when the music came together, I knew I could put up with it a little longer–just to be one of the voices making that glorious sound. Despite her histrionics, I learned to sing well, and listen for good music. She worked and worked our choir until we produced sounds we didn’t know ourselves capable of. Though sometimes she was mean, terrible, terrifying and diabolical, but when she heard good music, we knew it- it transformed her. Continue reading
Right now I am waist deep in literary theory. I am at the end of my first semester of an English grad program and assembling a term paper. I’m interested in food studies, anticipate spending a lot of long nights cozying up to Claude Levi-Strauss’ The Raw and the Cooked. So, indulge my geek-out for a minute here, but I talk about binaries, as used by Levi-Strauss, the theorist, not the maker of fine denim apparel.
Binaries have fans all across the academic spectrum. There are binary numbers, binary code, binary stars and binary relationships in theory. What makes the term so popular is its articulation the relationship of two alternatives existing in opposition to one another. Levi-Strauss pointed out man:woman, raw:cooked, and young:old. The list can go on and on. As Book of Mormon scriptorians, we are all familiar with the discussion of opposition in 2 Nephi 2. Yes, there is opposition, in just about everything.
With the political high season winding down, we are all quite familiar with the binaries that separated and divided so much of the country. Many of us are downright exhausted by it, myself included. I stress and agonize over the structural lines, fissures that edge us apart and divide us into binaries. While I realize that opposition is natural, normal and sometimes useful, its not something I find productive. As I am writing and considering binary theory with my semester research, I have to ask the question, so what? It is not enough that matter and issues exist in a divided state. For me, the interest comes in the second half of binary structure, not the opposition, but the relationship between the two, or, how they then come together. Continue reading
In a couple of weeks my youngest daughter will receive her patriarchal blessing. She’s only thirteen, but for six months now she has been pestering me and my husband about getting her blessing. At first I brushed her off, thinking she wouldn’t be able to understand the blessing’s significance at such a young age, and told her it would be best if she waited until she was a little older. But she persisted. To her credit, for the past several months she has researched patriarchal blessings on her own, read talks and articles, asked me and my husband questions, fasted, pondered, and prayed. Her desire for her blessing has never waned, nor has her insistence that she is ready. Continue reading