“I just don’t want anyone else to tell me what to believe,” my friend said with firmness. We were discussing religion. She knows I identify as Mormon, and she has some faraway Mormon relatives. She knew them when she and they were teens, a good twenty years ago. Religion, time and physical distance added them …
“What I’ve taken away: if anyone asks you to spring down a gravel road in your bare feet? Kindly decline. If someone asks you to slowly walk into a lake fully clothed at sunrise? Absolutely do it.” – Annie Murphy In this, the year of Covid, an anonymous poster once said, “Beware the Ides of …
Happy birthday, Nelson. You turned one this week, you adorable person. May your hair always flame out like a halo. May your smile be broad and welcoming – even when you have a few more teeth. May you still make your cousins laugh even when you’re all in your 80s.
It’s not an easy road, being a boy. At least the kind of boy that I’m pretty sure God, your parents and Grandpa and I hope you will be. No pressure, though.
Political rants and toxic cyber sludge filled my feed as I looked along. I willed my finger to stop, and halted mid scroll smiling in delight at the refreshing picture in front of my eyes. The woman on the screen was dressed up as a ham. Yep, you read that right, a ham. A brown …
“So, you know how we’re part Irish? So because Jesus married one of his disciples and escaped to Ireland and had a secret family there, we are probably related to Jesus!”
The two 14-year-old boys blinked hard, processing what their 8-year-old cousin just said, then burst out laughing.
“Uh, no, Abby,” I started, only to be interrupted by the two loons interrupting each other with “The secret life of Jesus – revealed!” “Wait, which disciple did Jesus marry?”
Abby was yelling back “THE GIRL DISCIPLE!… he did SO go to Ireland!” as my Mum shooed the teens away and curled my now pouting and offended niece in for a cuddle.
“But I learned it at church,” she said, confused and cranky, “and we are from Ireland in our family tree…”
Sometimes working out what to say is like trying to grab bouncing Skittles – there’s too many options and something’s going to get missed. Then when faith and the religious teachings and beliefs of others come into it? Carnage like playing Marco Polo in a minefield is one potential outcome, with “Married Irish Jesus” thankfully at the less lethal end of the scale.
“I envy my dad and his faith. I envy all people who have someone to beseech, who know where they’re going, who sleep under the fluffy white comforter of belief.”
— KellyCorrigan (The Middle Place)
The first time I read this quote I was a little bit bothered. The idea that faith was akin to crawling under my covers, into my bed, moments before my head hit the pillow and my eyes closed tightly set for a slumbering destination was too simplistic for me. The notion of believing seemed dumbed down… easing into bed as means to a testimony? Ha! Finding my faith was a difficult road because I was a difficult girl. I wondered too much and questioned even more: am I feeling the Spirit? Or is it fear or nostalgia? Am I telling myself a too-good-to-be-true fairy tale, a fantasy to ease my troubled soul and remind me of my childhood bathed in Mormon affirmation?
As a graduate student, I spent some time pouring over old microfiche records of The Woman’s Exponent (incidentally one of the first lasting magazines published by women for women in the American West) and other works by and about early Mormon women. Repeatedly, I was struck by these women’s firm insistence in their own dignity, …
In my old filing cabinet next to the piano, there is a folder marked “spiritual insights” with articles and quotes that, at some point in my life, sparked something within me. Lately I’ve needed some spiritual sparks—the shape of my testimony worn down by mundane daily-ness and taken for granted for too long—so I’ve turned to this folder to see if anything still hits a chord or can provide some New Year’s motivation.
Halfway through there is a paper (handwritten!) that I wrote as a 17-year-old college freshman for an honors religion class. We were asked to write weekly thought papers responding to the scriptural reading assignments. Mine tended toward the confessional, ardently admitting my failings and doubts on a variety of subjects. I enjoyed taking my testimony out and poking and prodding it like a specimen on a table in front of me. Keep in mind that every weekly paper included some variation on this theme: