Voices from the Exponent Backlist: Planning a Child’s Baptism

pinterest baptism programLast year about this time, I began planning my almost-eight-year-old’s baptism. I’m a huge fan of religious rituals that welcome children into the community–I love a Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, a Roman Catholic infant baptism, a Mormon baby blessing, etc. I think these rituals build our children and build our communities.

But, I didn’t want my son to feel like his choice to be baptized made him better than anyone else. We have family and friends who have chosen to not be affiliated with the Church, and he had questions about that. Why was his choice to be baptized a good one? Why were other peoples’ choices not to be Mormon just as valid? Difficult conversations, those were (and will continue to be). However, they helped me frame how I wanted his baptism…as a gift from his community to show their love and the love of our Heavenly Parents’ love. After all, the covenants we make at baptism are simple and beautiful: we become members of our community, we take on the name of Christ, and we promise to keep the commandments, including helping each other and serving God.

On our backlist, one of our permabloggers has a friend whose child is getting baptized. She asked for help finding a reading that would be meaningful to her, as someone with beliefs that differ from her mainstream Mormon family, that would also be comfortable for those in attendance. Here are some suggestions from our backlist:

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We Can Do Both

I was walking down the South Hill of BYU’s campus discussing a lecture I had recently attended with one of my only openly feminist friends. The lecturer had argued that women’s abilities were best spent at home raising children (read sons) that could then go out and change the world. For two young, idealistic feminists still trying to find their place in the world and in the church this talk was devastating. We were smart, capable, ambitious women with the potential to be a force for good in the world. I remember my friend saying, “I can do both! I should do both! Anything other than that is a cop-out. It’s me not being brave. It’s me wasting the talents God has given me.”

It was an important moment in my life, one that has stayed with me as I went on to motherhood, graduate school, and career. But that lecture was certainly not the last time somebody has declared that I am better suited at home, that any contribution I make to the world pales in comparison to what I can do for my children. Indeed, just this weekend I had a conversation with a very genuine woman who has raised and home-schooled an impressive number of children. All of those children went on to get degrees, sometimes multiple degrees, from ivy-league universities and are now making an important contribution to our society. When she heard, however, that I have four children and am trying to complete my Master’s thesis she urged me not to finish it but to pull my children out of public school and home school them instead. She sweetly argued that whatever honor I would get from finishing my degree would be nothing compared to the reward I would receive from making my children successful. Considering her record, I admit that her argument was both persuasive and guilt-inducing. I love my children, I want more than anything for them to be successful and I fear that my choices have negatively impacted them at times. 

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Ah! Turn Me Not Away

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Stephanie Lauritzen, an OW action participant, being turned away from Priesthood Session. Photo taken by Josh Johnsen.

On Sunday morning I flipped through picture after picture of women being turned away from the doors of our worship places. The Mormon Tabernacle choir sung in the background. Tears streamed down my face; many of those women are my friends. All are my sisters.

Ah! Turn me not away, Receive me tho unworthy. Hear Thou my cry, Behold, Lord, my distress.

I have performed this song countless times but the cry remains with me always. Hear Thou my cry.

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Relief Society General Broadcast: President Linda K. Burton

imageOne thing I really like about this Relief Society General Presidency is that they pick themes each year for the sisters of the church to focus on. Last year was furthering our knowledge and understanding of the atonement, this year’s theme is becoming better covenant keepers. President Linda K. Burton conducted the meeting and gave the first address.

There seems to be a divide in our rhetoric surrounding covenant keeping. We focus on what it means to make and keep sacred covenants for ourselves but also what it means to be a covenant keeper in a community of saints. This divide was apparent in President Burton’s talk as she tried to address both topics to show how keeping both personal and community covenants proves us as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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Seeing Through The Veil

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  I Corinthians 13:12

You know how strings of musical instruments that share harmonic likeness, sometimes when struck or plucked, respond to each other with sympathetic vibration? Well, sometimes when I’m sitting in fast and testimony meeting I begin to feel something like that. Only, it’s inside me. Maybe you’ve felt it too. Maybe it’s the spirit whispering, or our own spirit recognizing the truth in someone else’s words. Sometimes it’s not in a church setting when it happens. But whatever it is, or whenever it happens, I’ve learned to pay attention. I try to listen to my heart and to the words being spoken. Most importantly, I seek to understand why I am responding to those particular words or ideas. I allow myself to wonder: Why does this resonate with me? What am I really hearing? Then I wait for answers.

Earlier this month, as the men and women in my ward began bearing their testimonies, I felt that familiar vibration.  My emotions began to soften, and somewhere in my adrenal glands preparation for fight or flight had begun.

As I listened to one of the local full time missionaries share his thoughts about how God looks upon the heart, I noticed my inner truth harp vibrating wildly. I began to see or feel an image of what we typically term the “veil of mortality.” I’ve always imagined the veil as a sort of curtain, behind which the world of spirit and our memories of heaven are concealed.

But on this particular day I saw or felt awareness of another kind of veil. I saw each human being veiled by the effects of the fall, each soul walking the earth, clothed not only in mortal flesh, but also in accoutrements of hardship, disability, and various distortions of truth inherent in earth life. When viewed this way, mortality separates us not only from the presence of God, but the veil also separates us from each other.

For some this veil takes the form of homelessness or addiction. For others it looks like crippling shyness, boisterousness or mental illness. Maybe rigid religiosity or inactivity in the church–or being a person of a different religion, race or sexual orientation is how the veil appears to us. Whatever keeps us (personally or individually) from connecting freely and lovingly with each other may be part of the veil. I have come to believe that heaven is not just a place we “go” when we are done with mortality. It is something we work to create as we live our lives. We are helping God prepare our eternal mansions with our every thought, word and action. Likewise, the veil isn’t just a curtain; it’s also a state of being.

In my understanding of celestial glory, we will return to that place we left by learning to shed our own personal veils; learning to live our truest lives and to love one another the way our Savior loves us. We must do this in order to be comfortable in His presence. We attempt this monumental task in what are perhaps the most challenging circumstances of our eternal existence–in mortality–where each of us is veiled in so many ways. Indeed, we see through a glass darkly.

Burning man 2013.rick egan

Yet, on occasion we are rewarded for our efforts. The scales fall from our eyes, the beam is cast out and whatever normally keeps us separate or at a safe distance from one another seems to disappear. In these rare and wonderful moments the veil is rent and we see each other as God sees us, clothed in light and love. We feel profound humility and respect as we experience communion and reunion with our eternal sisters or brothers; God is in our midst and, for a moment, we are home.

 

Have you shared a moment of loving clarity with a friend or stranger?

Have you had such a homecoming?

.                                                            .                                                      .                                                        Photo by Rick Egan, Burning Man 2013
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