Lonely Discipleship

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A progressive Mormon sometimes has to suffer sitting through a Church meeting where they don’t feel like they belong. These members are the ones who reluctantly stand out because they ask uncomfortable questions about Church teachings. Some of them are more brazen activists who have felt a personal calling to defend an important cause. These members love their wards but their choices can put them at odds with the traditional Church orthodoxy. This creates a natural tension, where it feels wrong to abandon their controversial ideas and also wrong to challenge the beliefs of the general body of the Church. Members who struggle to be true to both start to feel the anxiety of living under the weight of a contradiction. The story of their Church membership becomes colored by feelings of estrangement. Continue reading

The Knowledge of God Is Expanding

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In 1969, the First Presidency released a statement on “the position of the Church with regard to the Negro”:

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, “The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God.”

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the Church was hurtling toward a sea change. After a few years, the Church would give the priesthood to blacks and then would disavow its racist doctrines. Knowing that, what would you do if you were transported back in time to 1969? Would you sustain the First Presidency? Imagine the dilemma for an activist at the time who couldn’t know the future, but could feel the surety of personal inspiration that racism was wrong. Was this First Presidency statement a revelation from God or a mistake from men? Continue reading

Pressure on Women

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This is the Mother’s Day talk that I delivered in sacrament meeting.

Elder Christofferson said (in General Conference, 2013), “Sisters, I don’t want to overpraise you as we sometimes do in Mother’s Day talks that make you cringe. You don’t have to be perfect; I don’t claim that you are (with one possible exception who is sitting nearby at the moment).”

(I think it’s true that the talks and lessons we give are more for the speakers and teachers than for the people listening. That’s true for my talk. I’m not a mother. As I prepared for this talk, the most I dared pray for was that I would be able to feel the Spirit to give this talk. That means that it falls on each of you to pray that you will be able to feel the Spirit too.)

Sometimes we talk about Sisterhood and Motherhood at the expense of the actual, living sisters and mothers in the congregation. I will try not to create unattainable ideals in this talk. First I want to share my thoughts on one of the ways that women put pressure on themselves. Then I want to share some thoughts about the pressure that society places on women. Finally I’ll talk about the pressure that the church puts on women. Continue reading