As a returned missionary, I am well-versed in the true and everlasting religious salesmanship technique: the commitment pattern, which emphasizes the use of “will you” questions to encourage people to commit to religious challenges. Equal in Faith organizers have challenged us to fast for gender equity, including inclusion of women into the LDS and Catholic priesthoods and other interfaith religious opportunities that currently exclude women. In a recent post, I explained the Equal in Faith fast and listed five ways you could participate. (Please review the post here.) Now, it is time to commit.Read More
Esther found the courage to save her people. But first, she asked them to fast for her. (Esther 4:16)
The sons of Mosiah brought whole nations to the knowledge of truth. They taught with power and authority of God because of their prayer and fasting. (Alma 17:3-4)
When Christ’s disciples couldn’t perform a certain miracle, Jesus explained that this kind of miracle could not be brought about without prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21)
Those of us who support ordaining women to the priesthood need courage. We need power and authority to share our truth. We need miracles.
We need reinforcements.
That is why we are joining with our Roman Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Evangelical sisters (as well as empathetic brothers) in a day of fasting on Monday, August 26.Read More
Often in spring and summer I perform an early-morning ritual: shortly after awakening, I move from my ground-floor bedroom to the downstairs and open the family room door as wide as it will open. Then I walk back upstairs and do the same thing with the kitchen door. Both doors face west, so when I return through the downstairs hallway I make a U-turn as I step onto the landing and head back up the stairs.
When both doors are open the stairway becomes a wind tunnel. Cool air rushes upward, sucked from the refrigerated belowground basement by warmer upstairs air fleeing its confines to join the great ether beyond. (Who among us doesn’t love the laws of physics?) At these times a person could stand in the basement hallway or at the top of the stairs and feel a gentle breeze, if she so desired. Which I do. From time-to-time. I have a swamp cooler, which I adore during dry Utah summers, but my life-long love affair with nature moves me to allow fresh air to have its way with my home on cool, quiet mornings.
On this early Sabbath as I write, with birds chirping outside the living room window, I can’t help seeing a metaphor here. I see the Holy Spirit moving like that morning air through our hearts and minds – if we will just open the doors. I think of all the angst and sorrow and pain we suffer as human beings, as women and as Latter-day Saints. I think of all the truth available to us because we believe God actually converses with us through the spirit—God, not some abstract, mystical, incomprehensible eternal entity, but a loving parent—whispers truth, teaches us things our child-like minds struggle to comprehend, urges us to press forward with whatever good work our heart desires, and most importantly, offers comfort amidst our confusion and sorrow.
I don’t know why women aren’t currently ordained to the priesthood. I don’t know why there is a monument to “worldliness” in the heart of Salt Lake City, funded in part by the LDS church. I don’t know how God will resolve the questions of gender and identity and same-sex marriage within the context of church doctrine. I’m not always at peace about these or other concerns that plague me.
Yet, for me, the single most astounding piece of doctrine within the Mormon faith is this: that God speaks to us where we live. And that each person can find answers to her questions if she is willing to let go of whatever keeps her from the truth. Each of us can find solace and comfort through the spirit. For some, this may mean leaving the faith or stepping away for a time. For others it may mean weeping before, during or after every church meeting they attend.
For me, it mostly means to remain open and believing. All the time. As often as possible. Because at unexpected moments and in unexpected ways, the truth makes its way into my heart from around the proverbial corner, pushing out old beliefs and renewing my faith in the fresh air, the Good News that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. That’s how it is today anyway.
How is it for you these days?Read More
I have a complex family history question that I am hoping to find an expert to help me with. I am wondering if there are any family history gurus that might be able to help me.
I recently logged onto family search and discovered that my grandfather’s work – baptism, confirmation, and initiatory, has been done – generically by the temple system in Guatemala (where I have no family connections).
The real kicker is that in 2007 (pre-family search), I submitted his and other family names to temple ready. I had the names reserved to be done by myself or other family members. We did a lot of the work of other ancestors but have held off doing my grandfather’s – because when we asked my living grandmother, she was very much against doing his work. We want to respect her wishes as well as general church policy to have permission of living relatives.
The original reservation notation is noted on the endowment and sealing ordinances but for whatever reason the temple system was allowed to do the baptism, confirmation, and initiatory ordinances. I have emailed family search asking for ordinances to be removed to no avail. While I have been able to resolve some other technical concerns (including how to link my new account to my original submissions), after seven frustrating emails, I am at a loss of how to proceed.
I explained that I did not consider the work valid as it did not follow church protocol. I emphasized that discovery of the completed work would cause contention in my family. I don’t really know what else I can say.
Truthfully, it has surprised me how much I care. I haven’t done any temple work myself since 2008 (after my faith radically changed). I gave the printed cards to my sister, per her request in 2009, and she has slowly been finishing the other names. But I am exceptionally annoyed that my concerns are going unrecognized. It makes me think of controversies surrounding doing the temple work of Obama’s mother’s and Holocaust survivor’s (the latter of which Jewish organizations successfully petitioned to have removed).
I value genealogy. I logged in after hearing about “relative finder” to see if any of my relatives were related to famous people in church history. My interest has been renewed and I have been working on finding more ancestors and cleaning up records further back (merging them with others, as you can see the work has been done 20 times). But I really think the current system is too focused on having ordinances done and I want to find a way to find the ordinances removed from my grandfather’s record.
I look forward to hearing any insight anybody might have. Because apparently, I know only enough to get myself into trouble …Read More
At the April 2013 Midwest Pilgrims Retreat, Linda King Newell gave a presentation on her experiences co-authoring Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith. (Sadly, I wasn’t there, but a friend summarized it for me.) When I read that book 10+ years ago it was eye-opening. I knew polygamy existed, but didn’t know of the extent of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages, or the heartbreaking circumstances around them.
Around the time of Linda’s presentation I happened to see the film “Emma Smith: My Story.” While not produced by the Church, this film uses the same cast and crew as Church-produced films about Joseph Smith, and even a few cuts from a Church-produced film. And I saw it on a Church-run TV station in Utah. It covers Emma’s life from her marriage to her death, but (not surprisingly) ignores that polygamy was part of it. I know it’s drama, not history, but at some point leaving out such a huge part of someone’s biography becomes untruthful. And needless to say, Gospel Doctrine manuals on the Doctrine & Covenants don’t get into Joseph Smith’s polygamous life. You could argue those manuals are about teaching doctrine not history, but I think being really selective about which parts of history are included in those manuals (because they do have some history in them) can start to smell fishy when only the flattering stories are told.
But then, as Jana Reiss wrote in a recent blog post about Emma, toward the end of Emma’s life she pretended polygamy never existed, too.
All this has me thinking about the right approach to teaching Church history. One of the commenters on Jana’s post wrote, “I think I have some indebtedness to my slightly unorthodox seminary teacher who believed (as I do) that presenting the truth – even when somewhat unpleasant – is a greater protection against disbelief than a more palatable falsehood which, when discovered later in life can cause serious dissonance and perhaps apostasy.”
That’s what I think, too. Did I get that “protection against disbelief” as a young person in the Church? Sort of, but it could have been a lot better. Did you?
First, read this quote from James Talmage’s Jesus is the Christ, which is quoted (among other places) in the Doctrines of the Gospel manual (published in 2000):
“For over seventeen hundred years on the eastern hemisphere, and for more than fourteen centuries on the western, there appears to have been silence between the heavens and the earth. Of direct revelation from God to man during this long interval, we have no authentic record.”
Then, read this quote from Elder Ballard’s 1994 General Conference talk:Read More