Ponderize THIS!!!

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.  He said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13) What was the sin that the Gospel writer was pointing out through this act of Jesus? Some historical context will help: “According to Exodus 30:11-16, every adult male Israelite was to pay half a shekel annually to the sanctuary.  In the period of the Second Temple this tax was paid at Passover; to assist pilgrims to Jerusalem, money changers apparently functioned within the large open area known as the ‘Court of the Gentiles’ or in the porticoes that framed the Temple closure, converting to the proper payment different currencies or those that were religiously offensive because of portraits on coins…rabbinic sources provide some evidence for complaints about profiteering by money changers, who charged as much as eight percent for their service.”1 According to another source: “Money changers converted foreign currency into Tyrian shekels, high-quality silver coinage accepted by the temple.”2 The sin was that the money changers were profiting on people’s spiritual experiences.  Were the money changers fulfilling a needed and good role?  Yes.  Offering help to pilgrims and offering animal sacrifices to Yaweh were good things. MODERN MONEY CHANGERS Brother Devin G. Durrant of the Sunday School General Presidency, during the October 4, 2015 Sunday afternoon session of General Conference, introduced the world of Mormonism to a neologism: PONDERIZE Yep.  Ponderize. Brother Durrant said: “The word ‘ponderize’ is not found in the dictionary, but it has found a place in my heart…So what does it mean to ponderize? I like to say it’s a combination of 80 percent extended pondering and 20 percent memorization.” Mormon social media went completely nuts. And I thought George W. Bush was the only authorized American neologist....

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76: General Conference Compressed – Rational Faiths Reviews Fall 2015 Conference

http://media.blubrry.com/rationalfaiths/p/rationalfaiths.com/podcast/76GenConFall2015.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS You know what sounds like a great plan for a good time? Sitting in front of the TV/computer for nearly 12 hours watching men in suits and women in colorful dress talk about Mormon stuff.  Okay it doesn’t really sound exciting but it is a huge Mormon ritual we do every six months. For some conference is tedious, for others it is the cats meow, some might be triggered to anger, others handle it without being fired up either way. We found some fine folks who listened to or watched conference this time around and told us what they thought of each session. So listen in folks! Thanks to Leah Silverman, Brian Kissell, Jonathan Grimes, Jerilyn Pool,  Mark Crego, and Sister Dillman for offering your thoughts on each...

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The Untouchables

There was a message behind these healings, and it sounded throughout all of Galilee, Judea, and the known parts of the world: When God became human, when he wrapped himself in our blood and skin and bones, his first order of business was to touch the ones that we would not touch, to fellowship in our sufferings, and to declare once and for all that purity is found not in the body, but in the heart. – Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, p. 169 Lepers, menstruating women, foreigners, the dead. Within the context of the New Testament, these were the untouchables. They were unclean, and physical contact spread the uncleanliness. But Christ healed the lepers, the woman with the issue of blood, He communed with foreigners, and He raised the dead. When I was reading Evans’s book, these words jumped out to me: “His first order of business was to touch the ones that we would not touch.” We don’t alienate the untouchables of the New Testament now. However, we have created new ones. I think we need to start asking ourselves—no, not ourselves… We need to start asking the Lord, what would Jesus do if He were on the earth now. Whom would he embrace? You know what leapt out at me? It was the many LGBT members of the church that we have scared—some to the point of death—with our version of who is unclean. I’m not even sure the most pervasive problem is outright hatred and homophobia. I think maybe the more pervasive problem is the fallacy that we can love the sinner and hate the sin. I think maybe the problem is that we keep trying to convince ourselves and everyone else that it is just homosexual acts we disapprove of. I think maybe the real, pervasive problem is that, for some reason, any relationship that is not heteronormative makes us forget Who we follow. Remember that the untouchables of the New Testament were not sinners. These...

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An Open Letter to Conservative Mormons

Oct 01, 15 An Open Letter to Conservative Mormons

Posted by in Charity, Featured, Politics, unity

Let’s just get this out of the way first: I do not share your political views. This does not mean that I am not an “active,” “faithful,” committed Mormon. It does not mean that I have failed to sustain the prophet or that I no longer believe the Church is true. It simply means that, in applying what I have been taught in church my whole life – love one another, pray always, follow Christ, study the scriptures, choose the right, feed His sheep, hearken to the Spirit, etc. – I have come to a different set of political conclusions than you have. Since our separate politics are grounded in a shared faith, don’t be surprised that I sometimes interpret our faith differently than you do. It’s not because I am trying to bend Mormonism to fit liberalism any more than you are consciously bending Mormonism to fit your conservatism. Which is to say, we both probably do this from time to time because we are imperfect people striving for a clearer view. I’ll assume you’re doing your best in good faith; please learn to do the same for me. By now I’ve had a lifetime of practice dealing with Mormons who see politics differently than me. I’ve adjusted to being a political minority in a conservative faith and learned some things about communicating across partisan lines. Since the internet may be exposing you to liberal Mormon views for the first time or with much greater frequency, may I offer some practical tips for this cross-partisan communication?   1. Just because you disagree with something someone posted – or feel like you recognize yourself in their comments – understand that 99% of the time this is not meant as an attack on you. Just like all those messages you post “in defense of traditional families” that you claim aren’t meant as an attack on gay people or their political allies. Learn not to take liberal posts personally. 2. Learn to appreciate when people share things...

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L. Tom Perry and Family First Weddings

Sep 30, 15 L. Tom Perry and Family First Weddings

Posted by in Featured, Temple

Everyone seems to have their favorite apostle, some might even have a story of “the one time I met Elder so and so”.  I don’t know if I had a favorite at this particular time in my life, but I do have three moments I have shared with Elder L. Tom Perry. These are the stories.  I hope you enjoy them! The first has no real meaning. I was in at an art show on the top floor of Zions Bank in downtown Salt Lake. I was to meet a client there. While I was waiting and looking at the different art pieces I noticed a rather tall elderly man. I recognized him as soon as I saw his face, it was Elder Perry. Some people were stopping to say hi. I quickly thought to myself should I ask him a question? I decided it wasn’t the place to press him with any questions. So I decided just to say hi. He shook my hand and said “It is good to see you”. I said something stupid like, “it’s good to be seen”.  It was dumb, but I doubt he heard me. The second time I came across Elder L. Tom Perry I was flipping through the channels late one night and settled for Sixteen Candles while I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.  While brushing and I couldn’t believe my eyes! There he was in the movie! I never knew he was an actor. But alas when I told my friends about it, they quickly told me that it wasn’t him, but an actor named Max Showalter. The third time, had much more meaning. This story requires a little more background… Family First Weddings was started by my brother Mike and I about 2 years ago with a mission to separate the temple sealing ceremony from the civil wedding. The civil wedding and sealing are combined in only a few countries like the USA and Canada, but in the majority of the...

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Keep Calm and Don’t Be Gay

What follows is a retelling of this meridian magazine article. I’m pretty sure that everyone, from those who think homosexual relationships make God angry, to those who are happy to accept that they were born homosexual, can agree on one thing, which I know is a truth: It would be nice to have a choice. As much as we’ve gone out of our way as a society to accommodate gay people, from not beating them for being gay to finally granting them equal rights, they’ll still be denied some privileges of hetero couples. Hetero couples can have kids… except those who can’t. Homosexual couples could never mix their DNA in a test tube and implant the egg fertilized from their mutual DNA into one of them or into a surrogate. Also, they can’t have a relationship that lasts into the eternities, because our leaders said that they can’t. So sure, we can be kind to them, but we can’t enucleate eggs to then implant a different mix of DNA. It’s not like it’s being done in animals and could be less than a decade or so away for humans. Gays can’t even hope for having biological kids. And as a child of someone who was adopted, I can say that raising your own biological children is the greatest privilege possible in marriage and really the only reason we have marriage. When a young person understands (as well as is possible with their limited experience) the ramifications of this, they’ll never choose a barren partner, or a partner of the same sex, because science can’t fix that right this instant.   We’ve made things so easy for gay people, that now the ones being raised in a conservative religious home have some social pressure to not be the kind of person that all of their family and entire social group expect them to be. What I’m saying is that we should make it more attractive for gays to want to sleep with someone they’re not attracted to. Just because they are attracted to...

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Helping our Children be Themselves

Sep 29, 15 Helping our Children be Themselves

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality

This essay was originally published here. There’s a pretty toxic article floating around from Meridian that I hope, by the time I publish this, gets taken down by the magazine’s editors.  I’ve known them to be reasonable before, which is why I was particularly shocked to see an article by someone claiming to be a fellow therapist (I’m a psychologist) lamenting the disadvantages of being gay and explaining what she feels parents can do to encourage their kids to be heterosexual. As if that were even possible.   I remember that special day in my childhood I chose to be heterosexual…as one does.   Don’t you? The LDS church this magazine centers around has made it clear that being gay is not a choice, so why in God’s green earth would this person try to dispute that?  States are already beginning to make conversion therapy for gay kids illegal, so therapists claiming they can change sexual orientation do so at the risk of their own license.   Here’s another reason why this article is so harmful.  Utah (probably the largest clientele population for this magazine) ranks #1 in death by suicide rates.  I wrote my dissertation on Utah suicide prevention, and in my studies saw the impact these feelings had on at-risk youth and young adults: of feeling rejected, of not measuring up, that there was something fundamentally wrong with them.  This article will contribute to those feelings for gay youth and adults, who are made to feel yet again that they are inherently less than their heterosexual friends, whose futures will be more glorious because they can procreate with someone of the opposite gender, because that’s God’s will.  That they are a glitch in God’s plan is something no child should ever hear.   This is why I founded a portal for Happily Ever After Stories of Gay Mormons.  Smiling faces of couples in same-sex relationships/marriages beam back at you from the site along with their stories of how they met, how happy they are...

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Time Machine to the Past

Sep 29, 15 Time Machine to the Past

Posted by in Featured, Feminism, Mental Health, Temple

I’ve at times posited to myself what I’d do if I had one moment to go back in time. Most times the overwhelming answer has been one that I’m not necessarily proud of. If I could turn back the clock, or visit myself as a 20-year-old bride to be… what are the words of wisdom that I’d speak? I can tell you that I would unequivocally tell myself to stop. I would plead and advocate for and hope that the younger, more naïve, more faithful and “innocent” version of me would open my eyes. I would hope that I could persuade myself not to be married in the temple, and not to be married to “the man of my dreams.” I met my husband 14 years ago in the usual way, through a good friend of mine. We in no way “hit it off” but in the two weeks that we dated we both had unusual experiences that led us to believe we should be married. So many moments come flooding into my mind as I look back on my rash decision to marry this man I’d known barely 3 months. Somehow I felt Heavenly Father had made it clear to me that this was the man for me, so I moved forward with preparations boldly. I imagine kneeling across the altar I remember that my fiancé couldn’t even look me in the eyes. Something kept him from seeing me, and to this day he doesn’t look me in the eyes with love and devotion. Love, interest, care, curiosity, desire…these were all looks I’d seen in the men that I had dated previously so I waited in earnest for them to show up on the face of my betrothed. He held my hand and I remember hearing the words “unto your husband” and being cut to the core. In that moment, my inequality was cemented physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mine was to be a fate of blind devotion to a man that neither heard...

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Top Post-Conference Newspaper Headlines

General Conference is the Super Bowl of Mormonism. It’s news making and newsworthy for the entire Mormon world. Here are my best guesses for next Monday morning’s headlines: “Family,” “Sabbath,” “marriage” key squares in area boy’s Bingo victory. After April 2015 debacle, area servers prepared for deluge of customers 15 minutes before end of priesthood session. Local High Priest’s excuses for leaving conference during all four talks by women improved this year, rebellious granddaughter reports. In Our Opinion: Diversity well highlighted by camera operator panning across choir members during closing song. Our top ten favorite Emergency Essentials General Conference commercials. Mormon liberal giddy at conference mention of global warming. Church PR department says Area Authority Seventy global warming mention was metaphor meant to illustrate demise of natural family. Investigation confirms Elders Quorum President’s conference notepad not actually full of spiritual insights. Husband watched Priesthood Session online this year, “kindly urged me to leave the room” wife reports. Local family rushes back from child’s soccer game for President Uchtdorf’s foreign name pronunciation. Three new Apostles welcomed in LDS General Conference, recount stories about shared southern Idaho hometown. Dozens of photogenic children sit on grass, benches last weekend in hopes of appearing in stock conference Ensign photos. New poll shows Ordain Women demonstration entirely changed all members’ opinions on women, priesthood. Local Laurel questioned over use of cell phone during Saturday Afternoon session, claims only opened Scripture App. Executive Secretary nervous, unsure if ward obtained written consent before redistributing conference broadcast. Local Priest’s Quorum president can’t stop talking about between-session documentary playing in background during Sunday lunch. Report suggests healthy treats left over, bowls of candy corn completely empty after Sunday Afternoon session. Area Mia Maid stayed awake for three talks in a row, proud of new conference PR. Local man relies on friend’s “strong meme game” to catch up on missed talks. Area family still reeling, shocked at conference talk on protecting the family: “I had no idea it was that important” mother...

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75: Anger

http://media.blubrry.com/rationalfaiths/p/rationalfaiths.com/podcast/75Catharsis.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS We all get angry from time to time, whether resulting from a minor disagreement or from a more traumatic life event we cannot escape feelings of frustration and anger when the world doe not comport itself in accordance with our views. We also tend to think that we have anger figured out. We have been told by a wise relative or an article on the internet that we need to cathart, that is we need to blow off steam to keep from blowing up. This idea of catharsis is not new. It comes to us from the ancient Greeks who thought that purging the body of unbalanced humors was the solution to curing illness as well as undesired feelings of anger. Go yell at God or punch the heavy bag and you’ll feel better is often advice we see thrown around. The problem is the advice is unfounded. It does in fact feel good to “get it out of your system” but in the long game that expulsion of anger through all means serves to increase your overall aggressive behavior rather than dissipate it. In addition to the stellar panel of Mica McGriggs, Jeremy Timothy, and LaShawn Williams-Shulz I have a short interview with catharsis expert Brad Bushman. Take a look at his webpage to see more articles on the subject and his other research (especially his Psychology Today articles that are very accessible, like this one on anger management) and checkout his TEDxTalk...

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