Primary Sources

The question that kept me awake one night last week was this: what are the primary sources for my personal LDS faith practice?Recently, I read a terrific BYU Women’s Conference talk that Francine Bennion gave in 1987[1]. Bennion argued that theology matters, that it informs the way we act and the decisions we make. Therefore, we have to be careful and intentional about crafting our own theologies. She gave examples of scriptural figures who behaved in ways that baffle us today (Jephthah, f … [Read more...]

Scrap It: An Historian Contemplates Her Imaginary Photo Albums

People approach personal recording keeping in different ways. Historian Rachel Cope, who clearly chose the right profession, kept her dolls as a child so future scholars could see how children’s toys changed over time. I approach record keeping by feeling bad about doing it too little.A year and a half ago, when I learned I had cancer but did not yet know the prognosis would be positive, the weight of two unfinished projects immediately settled in to haunt me. The first was my dissertation. M … [Read more...]

A Song for the Body Electric

A Song for the Body ElectricWhen we moved from Boston to Salt Lake City, my husband had been working as an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed both medical school and his residency through Harvard, and we all thought of him as a highly competent doctor. But early in his subspecialty training at the University of Utah Hospital, his colleagues stumped him. They asked him to interpret a chest x-ray that presented a condition he had never yet come across — strange … [Read more...]

On Housework

Martha Hughes Cannon (1857–1932) wrote to her friend Barbara Replogle in 1884, “’Tis not the bringing of noble spirits into the world . . . That dwarfs talent, and retards her intellectual advancement but it is the multiplicity of household drudgery… and the conformity to the vile customs of modern society. Barbara even if we have to be poor let us not waste our talents in the cauldron of modern nothingness—but strive to become women of intellect, and endeavor to do some little good while we live … [Read more...]

Be a Man

Every summer, our family spends some time at a cabin in rural Utah and attend church nearby. Many of the men in the local ward earn a living through physical labor. They are strong; they are big; they have masculine presence. And then they speak, and they cry, and every member of the congregation sees that manly men, even those who won a medal in last night’s rodeo, cry and love.One of their talks in particular has stayed with me. The speaker was a construction worker and a High Councilman - … [Read more...]

It’s That Time of Year

The mulberry tree in my backyard has just blown seedpods all over the grass, but it’s a male, thank goodness, so we deal with neither the fruit nor the birds who would flock to eat that fruit. An arborist told me the tree is as old as the house (1928). Our church building, a block away, is on land that used to be a mulberry orchard, created to sustain the silkworms that LDS women so painstakingly cared for and harvested in the 19th century. I like to think our mulberry tree is older than the h … [Read more...]

Weight Weight, Don’t Tell Me

A friend of mine had to renew her driver’s license on her birthday this year, and the new photo made her look overweight. The photo devastated her for days beyond her birthday. While making regular Sunday announcements, a former councilor in my Relief Society presidency often alluded to the constant struggle she waged with sweets. I often hear women, regardless of their faith tradition, say “I was bad,” referring to the fact that they bought themselves a doughnut or a cupcake. In fact, I hear wom … [Read more...]

Why I Pray

Last August I discovered a little cancer in my eye, ocular melanoma. For a week or so I was scanned and tested and faced the possibility of my imminent demise. Dramatic. Then I had my left eye removed, which rid me of the cancer but the wound did not heal. Months and followup surgeries later, my eye looks to be healing properly and I am cancer free.Lucky as I am, these months have given me plenty of time to ponder, to experience the shocking goodness and generosity of friends and strangers, … [Read more...]


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