on attending baptisms

Our little family (husband, son, and I) have not been to church in quite some time now.  We’ll, I take that back, son and I have been attending the local Friends meeting off and now for almost a year, but we have not been to an LDS church in a good while.

This past month one of my friends contacted me to let me know that they had recently re-activated in the church and were going to be baptizing their children. This, perhaps, was a difficult thing for her to approach me about; we had both transitioned out of activity together with some mutual issues with the church.  But things had changed and they decided that re-activating was the best thing for them.

This is something that happens:  little glitches in relationships regarding participation in a religion.  (This particular friend had difficulties with one side of the family when they went inactive and again with the other side of the family when they re-activated.)

What remains, what should be constant, is friendship.  And support.

And so that is what we did.  On Saturday we got dressed in our Sunday best (disclaimer: I dressed in nice business slacks and blouse) and went to join them for the baptism.  Yes, I was nervous, our son is approaching baptismal age himself.  I worried about peer pressure, I worried about awkward questions.  I worried about being targeted for re-activation. Etc.

The baptisms were lovely.  My son, unaccustomed to LDS-style reverence applauded and cheered for his friends as they went under the water.  I had a few good catch-up conversations with some people I had not seen in a while.  And later we went to our friend’s home for some BBQ.

Just friends.  Being together.  Doing what we can to supporting each other.  In whatever paths happen to work best for us.

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The Crutch and the Confidence

(this was written several years ago. I thought I’d share it here, as it was during a pivotal part of my ‘transitional’ phase)

Something that happened when I moved out of participation in the church. I lost my confidence. Of course, I was no longer getting the validation and sense of responsibility that comes from callings/teaching/etc… and for a introvert like myself who does not naturally seek out service/leadership/human contact opportunities that has noticeably reduced my sphere of influence in the world. But I noticed something else as well. I had thought I was just going explore and expand my belief system, but instead I found my belief system merely disintegrating and when that happened, I lost grace. 

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belief and dissonance

(I wrote this post several years ago so the links are a bit dated, but I thought it would be good for discussion anyways.)

…I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck…
American Gods pg 394 (Here’s her full monologue, because it’s brilliant. )

Yes, I’m thinking about belief and dissonance again. It really hasn’t been on my mind a whole lot lately (I don’t believe, haven’t been attending, therefore no dissonance. I like it simple that way.) But questioning type stuff is so hardwired into my DNA that I read a few blog posts and it’s all back to the front of my mind again.

That, plus a conversation with a dear friend, in which she admitted she believes, as much as she wishes she didn’t.

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up the hill (god, belief, sweat, etc)

The other morning I ran up Tumamoc hill. First time I’ve ever been able to run up the whole thing: It’s short, 1.5 miles to the top for a quick 3 mile round trip; but brutal steep: you climb up 730 ft in that 1.5 miles. I’ve jogged parts of it before but always had to stop and walk those last few switchbacks. This was an invigorating first for me and Tumamoc.

I like my hills all in one gulp, straight up, the condensed version. There are plenty of trails and roads where I can get nice rolling, gentle-up-gentle-down routes depending on my hiking, running and biking needs. But I really find myself attracted to the intense all or nothing versions: Tumamoc, Blacketts Ridge, Saguaro National Monument, Mt Lemmon highway, Josephine Saddle (or, when I have the whole day, continuing on from Josephine Saddle up to the peak of Mt Wrightson). Etc.

I love hills and mountains. I broke my belief system wide open on these hills and mountains. It’s no wonder to me that many religions hold journeys up mountains for spiritual enlightenment as part of their mythos. I’ve queried and cursed and argued with God on these hills and mountains. Halfway up Mt Wrightson, muscles shaking and drenched in sweat, I broke with God and offered some of my first prayers to the Goddess (a terrifying step for one raised on stories of women excommunicated for such blasphemy). Eventually, I broke with divinities all together and these hills and mountains became the place for just processing whatever needs processing in my life.

It is amazing the ideas and possibilities that open up to a heart pumping faster and a mind flooded with endorphins. (I have to be careful, I have shot off dangerous emails while still high on a good hill.)

It is something I believe in: blood and body fluids. In heart and mind. In always looking for new ideas, new paths, new heights to reach.

And hills and mountains,
I believe in hills and mountains.


Now, In a similar vein, you must go and read xJane’s exquisite posts Worship and Creation, and ALSO Sandra Wickham’s Functional Nerds post Brains need Brawn, and ALSO mfranti’s post Paradox.
Not a Tucson mountain, but still love to climb it: Mt Timpanogos in Ut.
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created to please

I read two fascinating novels this past month, both of them very different (The Fox Woman set in an ancient magical Japan and The Windup Girl set in a future dystopian Thailand) but they had a similar refrain in one aspect: they both contained female characters that had been constructed to please men.

In “The Fox Woman” Kitsune is a young fox who falls in love with a man, so she creates magic that will turn her into the woman she thinks he wants. (Which, apparently, is a girl barely into puberty.) In “The Windup girl” Emiko is a manufactured new person, created by geneticists to be a pleasing companion to men. (Later in the book, a scientist muses if Labrador genes were spliced into her DNA, imbuing her with an extraordinary urge to obey.)

It has me mining my own map of social gender relations. For a long time, I wasn’t sure who I was, because all my effort went into being what others wanted me to be. And by “others” I mean mostly men. A long string of male authority figures, church leaders, bosses, family members, and peers who I was desperately trying to please. (I find myself wondering about how few female role models I had.)

It’s embarrassing to write this. But admitting it is the first step, right?

I understood Kitsune’s need for love, the hope that the illusion of beauty would win that love.

I understood Emiko’s internal schisms when her training and genetic engineering cause her to be ‘pleasing’ in the face of insult, to accept humiliation and abuse.

It got me thinking.
And remembering creation stories that have woman being created out of a piece of man’s bone so that he’d have a nice pleasing companion.

BTW, both Kitsune and Emiko had to go through excruciating, brutal (and bloody) transitions as part of their journey from ‘created object’ to self-hood. (Why must these things hurt so much?)


[An interesting aside; a friend of mine read this and made the observation that both of these books are examples of Westerners portraying Asian women as subservient. Different topic, but something to think about.]

On the flip side, I just started My Horizontal Life; a collection of one-night stands (a birthday gift from my sister). And wow: Author Chelsea Handler is a woman who knows what she wants, how to get it, and has no qualms about immediately jettisoning the offending party if it becomes apparent that he is NOT what she wants. (I am enjoying this book with a mix of admiration and horror.)

Furthermore; I may pull out my old copies of Chicks in Chainmail, Parable of the Sower, Dealing with Dragons, etc, for more stories of women who know what they want, how to get it, with no striving to please or pining for approval.

But meanwhile,

~any thoughts on the problems/solutions/complications of seeking for approval?
~read any good books lately?

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