Lessons from the Margins: More Thoughts on “The Policy”

MarginWith the rest of Mormonism, I’ve been thinking a lot about “The Policy”. This has led me to think more deeply about the Plan of Salvation – and where we all fit.

As a single woman in the church, it is moments like these that lead me to reassert (again) that I do fit in and that I am essential – just as all Saints are essential: queer saints, childless saints, single parent saints, etc.

In recent years there has been more and more talk from church leaders of “the family”; talk that leaves little doubt as to what sort of family our church leaders see as “ideal”. I love families and the idea of families, but I see the Mormon ideal of families as too tidy to be useful. (I’m quoting Kristine Haglund here.)

The reality is that we live in a world and in a church where we have a range of families. Families that cannot be changed into the ideal simply for the wishing or the wanting: single families, single parent families, queer families, childless families. These are the people and the families in the margins.

So, I propose to my reader four lessons that we can learn from those who live in these margins – and why, in fact, we are essential to the Mormon Body of Christ.

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Book Review Series: Count It All Joy

Guest post by Quimby. You can read some of Quimby’s previous posts here, and here

Count It All Joy: Finding Peace in a Troubled World

I live in the Australian bush, in a log cabin surrounded by trees.  I love where I live.  I love the gentle contours of the land.  I love the trill call of the cockatoos as they fly overhead in deafening flocks.  I love the laughter of the kookaburra as it wakes me at sunrise.  I love the lizards, which flit in and out of the cracks in the mortar.  Most of all I love the trees – the towering sycamores, the hardy blackwoods, and the spindly gum trees.  I especially love the bark of the ghost gum, its blue-pink-brown-grey trunk like a haphazard paint by number.  In the summer, the sun heats the oil in its leaves, and when it rains, the scent is released, diffused in the air like some sort of heaven.  When there is a summer rainstorm I open all the windows and breathe deeply.

Summer also means bushfire season.  We are poised, always ready to run at a moment’s notice, to flee the smoke and heat and fire and find refuge elsewhere.  A few years ago, the fire came to within half a kilometre of our house.  Several dozen homes and outbuildings were destroyed.  Ours was spared.  When we returned days later, we saw the blackened earth, the charcoaled trees, and marvelled at the destruction.

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Wherein we see proof that Mormons aren’t Christian

Frances_Hook_Jesus_with_Little_ChildrenApparently the Church has recently issued an update to the leadership handbook that equates same-sex marriage with apostasy and bars children from same-sex households from receiving baby blessings, baptism, and priesthood ordination until they are 18 and no longer living with their parents. Want more details? See the Salt Lake Tribune article.

(I’m going to spare you the several chapters I could write about how I believe that the Church’s doctrines and policies on homosexuality are harmful, divisive, misguided, uninspired, and actually at odds with Christ’s teachings. We’re just not having that debate today, all right?)

Because this is the least Christian thing I’ve ever seen come from the LDS Church. Did Jesus not say, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven“?

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The Lock







The Lock

Every evening I brush one damp curl from my baby’s forehead
And in its place leave a long, mama kiss

My sweet strawberry of a boy is heavy now–
All cheeks, tummy, and leg rolls
To me, though, he is still tiny

A little lump laying under white sheets and grey cotton blanket


His fingers rise up to his displaced curl
Thumb and forefinger searching for that precious peach lock

And then they twirl
Root to end…
Root to end…

A ritual performed since babehood, sucking at my breast


I watch, waiting for the next step in our little dance

Then it’s his turn to wait
For me to shake my head and whisper
‘Daddy is at church.’

He knows the routine by heart


My strawberry boy is still small enough that our family nights
Spent reciting our theme–

         Do all the Good you can
         In all the Ways you can
         To all the People you can

–Words meant to soothe the hearts of our children in the absence of their father–
Are a jumble of nonsense to him
Who needs a theme when you can have a daddy?

He sighs, debating whether to go on


The choreography is rote and he dutifully moves forward

The next step is mine
I’m supposed to say something about Jesus
But I stumble

I am tired–and hurt


Jesus listened and wept with the woman
Jesus comforted and healed the outcast

Telling my boy that his daddy has gone to church to help Jesus feels like a half truth
When the church his daddy serves builds idols on top of the pain
Of the lost sheep Jesus sought

‘I don’t know.’


It is all I have to give
A worthless, heartbroken utterance

But my strawberry boy nods
Perhaps grateful for an honest change in our routine
And turns to lay on his side, finger still twirling his favorite lock

Root to end…


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Teaching No Greater Call: Writing a Spirit-Filled Sermon

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” 

I go to church hungry every week. No, I’m not talking about fasting, but spirit and soul hungry with longing to “feast upon the words of Christ” and desires to be “nourished by the good word of God.”

Some weeks I leave with my cup running over, others drained out lower than when I came. We need powerful, spirit-filled speakers with Christ-centered sermons to feed the souls of everyone in our worship service. Be that person! Accept the invitation to speak and then deliver a message that will invigorate hearts and minds…..to those who have ears to hear, let them hear!

What’s in a talk?

A message that is Christ-centered, scripturally based, doctrinally sound, with words from modern-day prophets and leaders, and including personal experience and testimony is sure to have something that can appeal to everyone and bring the spirit of God into the hearts of those listening.

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November Young Women Lesson: Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills?

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From Tracy M.’s remarkable BCC post, “Young Women Values: Not Princesses & Not for the Faint of Heart Personal Progress Cards”

The manual may be found here.

When I was a junior in high school, I sat in a cozy room with a few of my friends, and listened as Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged us to “get A grades in [our] various courses,” and then told us that he would give us the B’s. The second of those B’s was to “be smart.”

Among other things, President Hinckley said,

You need all the education you can get…You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78–80).

…These are the words of the Lord who loves you. He wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.


Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training. (“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for the Youth,” Ensign, January 2001.)

It meant so much to me then to have a President of the Church encourage me as a young woman to be smart, and to seek the best education possible. I knew he wasn’t just talking to the young men, because he said if I followed his counsel, I would “be regarded as a man or woman of integrity.” He further suggested that while seeking a strong education would be good for the church, it would also be good for mewould “be generously blessed, because of that training.” There was crucially no mention of my future children or husband. Just the church and me, and the Lord’s mandate to seek knowledge.

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