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...

read more

On Yom Kippur

With today being Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Hebrew calendar, I would like to reflect on a very sacred experience that I had, and one that is very unique within Mormonism, although I was actually not yet a member of the Church when I had this experience. That said, this experience restored my faith in Christ and led to my belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet. My Jewish husband and I shared this sacred experience a year before we were married and a couple years prior to me joining the LDS church in 2010. Please forgive me if the details are sketchy, as it is never easy- and deeply personal- to recount spiritual experiences. This sacred experience would mark the beginning of my journey into the Sacred Feminine and my love for Heavenly Mother. I share these stories as I experienced them. I believe they happened because of my need at that particular time in my life – and God’s love.  Whether you believe me or not, please respect them as my sacred stories. Nevertheless, I do testify these sacred experiences are true. On this particular day in 2007, my husband and I were in the mountains of North Carolina. We were not yet married, and my husband later admitted he was about to break off the relationship since we have a significant age difference and there were just too many complications. That same day, he made it clear he had no intentions of getting married. Frustrated, I went off by myself and “yelled” at God – “You have GOT to fix this!” We drove on, and came to this beautiful waterfall called Hooker Falls in Pisgah National Forest. Shortly after we arrived, three mysterious women appeared. One was middle aged, one was a younger mother and the other a child. They all looked Hispanic. As the child splashed around in the water, middle-aged woman spoke with my husband at length, while the young mother kept me occupied....

read more

What Does My Mormonism Demand of Me?

Sep 17, 15 What Does My Mormonism Demand of Me?

Posted by in Featured, Feminism, Homosexuality, Racism

I am writing from a place of privilege.  I am straight.  I am male. I am happily married. I have a good job. I have healthy children. For all intents and purposes, I am white. I am not writing this so as to say, “It’s so hard as a white, straight male. Woe is me.” No one wants to read that. I am not writing this so as to receive accolades from my friends who are LGBTQ, or people of color, or female.  That is exhausting work for an oppressed person to do. I am writing this to my white, male, straight, married, privileged friends. I was home sick from church a few weeks ago. I had a computer in front of me and was examining some of my privileges. I have many friends and some family members that have left the Church for various and very valid reasons. Sometimes the reasons have to do with the treatment of gays, the institutional racism, the institutional gender inequality. I think all those observations are true. I live in a conservative part of Oregon. Most people that live outside of Oregon view the North West as a liberal haven. This is not true. Most of the population of Oregon lives within what is called the Willamette Valley. It is a narrow strip that runs from Portland down to Eugene. This part of Oregon is liberal and controls most of the politics of Oregon. Outside of that, the state politics are different. Specifically here in Southern Oregon, where I live, the politics are conservative, with the exception of Ashland, which is a wonderfully odd liberal haven. I also work in a surgical speciality that is male dominant. It’s work that is physically demanding and intellectually demanding. Because of the culture of orthopedic surgery, there just aren’t many women. Because of that, things can be a bit sexist. I have sat with non-LDS surgeons that are quick to point out the patriarchy of my LDS tradition, but lack the ability to see their...

read more

You may be irreverent, but you’re no thug

You may be irreverent, but you are no thug. … and you already know this, but it hasn’t stopped ignorant behavior in the last two weeks on social media. It hasn’t stopped lots of Mormons who should know better but act like they don’t and instead want myself, and other MOCs (Mormons of Color) to “just lighten up!” Since there is no lightening up – neither here nor in the afterlife nor on the way to glory (and I don’t care what your parents told you about brown people turning white based on righteousness) – let me stand straight in this crooked room for a bit and take a break from my normal writing focus. Here’s my open letter (of sorts) full of random commentary to all of the LDS folks flashing #thugmormon on social media in these last 2 weeks, You’re. Not. Thugs. Y’all. For real. How did this happen? I have so many questions! Fill me in, is this another Restoration thing? Did I miss the memo? You know we Mormons love to restore stuff and tell people the real meaning of a regularly (or not) recurring phenomena… like baptism, the Trinity, the Godhead, masonry, temples, who can give blessings, how to translate ancient writings, etc. And now, you want to redefine thug for the rest of us? You realize that we’re the folks whose lives are marginalized  by the word “thug” in mainstream and conservative Republican media, and you want to own it as if it’s a cute accessory to wear? For how long, just until you get bored of the attention and need something else to stay on the radar? Are you trying to be funny? Is my favorite Mormon funny man calling himself a thug? Who’s responsible for this mess? Who thought this was a good idea? Virtuous? Lovely? Good report? Praiseworthy? This is what we’re seeking after? Thug Mormons? Is this a thing? Or is it a joke, you know, like what we Mormons usually are to the...

read more

If garments don’t feel oppressive, are they?

I recently read the fantastic opinion piece by Mette Harrison via The Huffington Post entitled “If We Don’t Feel Oppressed, Are We?” and it really hit home with me. When discussing matters that bothered me in the church, in particular the inequality of women and men in leadership, the argument I received (and echoed in Mette’s article) was: “Well, I don’t feel that way.” In fact, a PR representative from the church in response to women asking for church leaders to pray about the role of women in the order of the priesthood said, “Women in the church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme.” To pass it all off as kosher we tell women how wonderful they are. And somehow by saying this the masses are placated. Women, when told how innately motherly they are, suddenly forget how much they rocked their business law class because they now feel like becoming a working professional is a role that is less important. We tell women how righteous and spiritual they are and how special it is that they have all these special divine roles that men don’t. Because women have a uterus. Because babies. I’m not arguing that women don’t or shouldn’t posses these qualities. Many women do. BUT, so do many men. And many women posses strong leadership and spiritual qualities often attributed to men. It’s frustrating to me as a woman in the church to see women reduced to their body and what it produces. That because they can give birth they are somehow equal to men and God. Because they’re so special they don’t need anything other than motherhood. Children are enough. Being a mother is enough. I’ve written a few times about modesty in the church and the problem I feel it holds when we focus on lines. I have talked about how it teaches members to focus on the body of the person and...

read more

A Modest Clarification

It has come to my attention that some Mormons have had “questions” regarding prophetic priorities. I’ll break it down so that even a child can understand: if the Prophets and Apostles are talking about something, it matters. If they aren’t talking about it, it doesn’t matter. Let me give you some examples. Find me evidence of any focus by the Prophets and Apostles about what color your living room carpet should be. Can’t? Then it must not matter. Find me evidence of any discussions, announcements, speeches, or press conferences by the Prophets and Apostles about which breakfast cereal is the best. Can’t? Then it must not really matter in the eternal scheme of things. Find me proof of any sort of focus in Church teachings/manuals on the dangers of sexism or misogyny. Can’t? Apparently that isn’t an issue that we should be worried about these days. Find me a conference talk about so-called “climate change.” You can’t? Doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Now some might be able to pull up a quote here or there, or a talk from 35 years ago, or a paragraph from some apostle’s biography that seems to indicate that a particular issue is salient. Talk about ignoring the forest for the trees! If there’s not a current focus on it by the LIVING prophets and apostles, then it. doesn’t. matter. Find me a mention of factory farms, food monopolies, or manipulative food advertising. Can’t? Must not matter. Point out where the Prophets and Apostles have spoken out about deforestation, strip mining, resource depletion, pollution, or waste. Can’t? Hmm. What can we surmise? How about wasteful consumerism? Slave labor? Sex slavery? Domestic abuse, gender discrimination, or LGBTQ hate crimes? See a pattern here? We can care about them on our own time if we must, but just pick a carpet color and get on with your life already. They just don’t matter that much. The Gospel is simple and the purpose of life is clear: find the...

read more

How Shall We Continue in The Silencing?

Imagine how Mary Magdalene must have felt on the morning of the Resurrection, being the first person to see the risen Christ. Imagine too how she must have felt later on when she would be forever silenced for her testimony: “I have seen the Lord: such is the story of the Resurrection as told in the Gospel of John. With it begins the history of Christianity, and with it ends the New Testament history of Mary Magdalene.”(1)  And still the Church rests on a special commission given to her by Christ himself, “but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20: 17). Tradition says Mary Magdalene did continue her earthly mission, but so much of that has been the stuff of legend. According to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary Magdalene finished out her years in Ephesus, a city devoted to the goddess Artemis, while the Western medieval tradition maintains that she died in France and is laid to rest at Sainte Baume. (2)  In both traditions, she remained celibate and chaste following the Resurrection. The Gnostic Gospels, more specifically the Gospel of Philip, paint Mary Magdalene in a very different light, as Jesus’ chosen successor and most intimate companion, or perhaps even his wife. Still the question remains, “If Mary were so important to Jesus, why is there no mention of her in Acts, or in the Epistles?” (3) And with that, the Mormon belief in Heavenly Mother faces the same set of challenges, except this time on a much grander scale; for in this case we are dealing with Deity. The problem here is not so much that She exists – as Latter-Day Saints we historically acknowledge as such – the problem is we operate on a stifled belief in Her that is used to perpetuate the status quo, when a doctrine of Her really should be used to promote an elevated view of women reflecting...

read more

Going to See Mad Max is Like Going to the Temple

And I don’t really mean that in a good way. It’s not that the movie was bad.  It was a bit absurd for me, but still a great action flick. I’ve decided they just had an excellent PR team.  Because they knew that if you say something enough times, and give it enough buzz, people will believe it.  Like telling a child that a red drink is yummier than an orange drink, and so it never matters what flavor the drinks actually are the child always wants the red one more. So before Mad Max hit theaters there was all this buzz about how it was a feminist action movie unlike any other feminist action movie.  And the Feminists were excited and Men’s Rights Activists were calling for boycotts and before anyone actually saw the movie we’d all decided it was a feminist movie. But it’s not. And after seeing it I can’t figure out why everyone thinks it is. I mean, maybe because it has a female lead? It kind of does, although the story is much more Max’s than it is Furiosa’s.  But either way, it is so far from being the first action movie with a female lead.  Maybe it was because the storyline is about women escaping a cartoonishly misogynistic overlord?  Perhaps, but since they are saved by the men in the movie, it isn’t exactly an empowering storyline.  This movie didn’t actually portray women in a much different light than most action movies do. But none-the-less, my Facebook feed is all full of people seeing the movie and coming away about how awesomely feminist it is.  And each time I see it I feel confused.  And disappointed, because movies that pretend to be feminist but actually aren’t are going to hurt the cause of equality more than help it. Somewhere along the way I realized how familiar the confusion and disappointment felt.  And then a friend posted on Facebook about her recent temple trip and how happy it made...

read more

There is a Crack in Everything

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. [Leonard Cohen, Anthem] Although the stories of women in scripture are relatively few, they are “rays of light, hints, promises, glimpses of a greater reality.” [Julie Smith] Often I think of words as solid, the same way I think of mountains as solid, forgetting that their solidity is an illusion, forgetting they only exist because of the sometimes-violent shifts in the ever-moving plates of meaning beneath. Now I find myself in the midst of one of those rare moments where the old stories are shifting beneath me, lifting and cracking to reveal hundreds of examples of religious women through time in radically direct relationship with God. In reading about women’s spiritual and ecclesiastical authority in early Christianity, early Quakerism, and early Mormonism, I see a repeating pattern in which moments of profound prophetic disruptioni fissure the socio-religious bedrock, allowing the light of women’s spiritual and ecclesiastical authority to stream through, only to see the light dim or the fissure ignored and/or forced closed within a relatively short time. In the early Christian gospels a woman, who immediately recognizes the divinity of the eight-day-old Jesus, wastes no time in prophesying his saving power to her people. She is called Anna and “prophet.”ii A woman with an issue of blood breaks with every social and religious restriction of her time when she reaches for and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and is healed through her faith.iii The Samaritan woman stands at the well, a person who, by custom, Jesus shouldn’t have even acknowledged. Another woman, this time in direct conversation with God, and the first person to whom Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah. She promptly proclaims her witness of possibility to her people: “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”iv And, of course, Mary Magdalene, who was the first witness of the resurrection and proclaimed that witness to the unbelieving...

read more

Religious Freedom (The Remix)

May 11, 15 Religious Freedom (The Remix)

Posted by in Featured, Feminism, harmony, Racism, Theology, unity

The church is currently taking a cue from One Direction by touring the world and sending two of its fifteen most popular band members priesthood holders to visit various countries for their 2015 world tour “Religious Freedom: We Still Hate LGBT Folks”. This fan (Team Uchtdorf!) wondered- what are other ways we can champion religious freedom that might actually improve religious freedom? In an act of true fandom, here are 5 suggestions that might take freedom of religion from the narrow, lets-hate-other-grown-ups-who-decide-differently and more towards making sure other people are free to worship as they see fit. Suggestion #1: Protect Muslims. And Sikhs. And Hindus. If we could build solidarity with any religious group in history, it could very easily be Muslims. You know that Missouri episode that hurt us Mormons so bad? They are experiencing that today! Crimes against Muslims have increased dramatically in the years following 9/11 thanks to Fox News and Republicans who can’t differentiate between brown folks. Sikh’s and Hindus have been at the receiving end of this violence as well, because some people only allow for religious cloth that looks like theirs (i.e. not a turban). Remember how we didn’t like it when people vandalized the temples after that really horrible and embarrassing Prop 8 episode? Muslims (and Sihks) get their places of worship vandalized all the time! They also get beat, and shoved onto the subway rails, shot over parking spaces, and well, you get the picture. They are arrested and put in high security jails to be tortured with protocols devised by other Mormons. They are degraded, and they are forbidden from praying as their level of belief dictatess, or to speak of their religion openly for fear of violence. Unlike Christians, they don’t get federal holidays that give them time off from their duties (business or scholastic) to focus on personal and communal worship with their religious groups. The multiple murders in the last few years with extreme Islamophobic undertones point towards increased violence, and we could make a...

read more