A Letter for My Someday-Teenage Children

* This is a letter examining faith, written for my children--though they currently lack the attention span and the adolescent angst to get through such a long discussion. I hope someday they will find it useful. In the meantime, perhaps others will find it useful now. I’ve changed the personal names of people who aren’t already public figures speaking about Mormonism, or Chinese revolutionaries.2 July 2017, Auckland, New ZealandDear buddies,Since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve … [Read more...]

O Say What is Truth

 "The Church is true"  has got to be the most uttered phrase on the first Sunday of the month in LDS churches worldwide. But alas, it’s a phrase that has tripped me up since childhood. Not because I don’t believe it, but because those words, in that precise order, have never made sense to me.What does it mean to say the Church is “true?” Are we saying the Church is “honest?” Maybe that the Church is the “genuine article?” Or that it “conforms to the actual state and conditions of rea … [Read more...]

Finding Hope From The Westboro Baptist Church

For years, the Westboro Baptist Church have been synonymous with bigotry. I learned this when they protested at my high school in 2004 over a production of The Laramie Project (documented by my embarrassing teenager blog). A large counter protest was organized, and an event originally sparked with hate turned into a largely positive, jovial affair. The Phelps clan were woefully outnumbered, and they left rather quickly, while the crowd left behind cheered and laughed and prayed together. As an … [Read more...]

These Arguments are Weak.

That “Insight into new LDS Church policies on same-sex couples and their children” post, written by a Michael Worley on Kathryn Skaggs’s blog, is making the rounds. Others like him have been circulating. People seem to think they offer compelling arguments. But beyond its presumption (the author has no special insight into God’s and Church leaders’ minds, but claims he does) and its condescension (“Bill Nye voice”) lie false analogies and rickety rationalizations.Before I analyze Worley’s arg … [Read more...]

How I choose to see the revisions

I write this as a heterosexual person, one who is not directly affected by the new strictures in the Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI). For that reason, this is all very easy for me to say. I do not blame those who are 'closer to' this situation if their reaction is different from mine. I do not blame those who will leave. However, let's get one thing straight from the beginning: those who made this decision did not relish it. The Brethren do not look for ways to kick people out of the … [Read more...]

Doubting at Zion’s Gate

Through happenstance, two of my recent reads synergistically centered on doubt and the thresholds of religion.In the first, Elmer Miller’s Nurturing Doubt, the author reflects on his time as a Mennonite missionary in the Argentine Chaco (exactly where I served my LDS mission) and his later return as a professional anthropologist. He relates how his experience in ministering to the Toba, an ethnic group native to the Chaco, caused him to question the utility of the Christian message and A … [Read more...]

The Faith of Our Fathers

While chatting with a new LDS convert recently, he asked how long I had been a member of the Church. I told him that I’d actually been one from the very beginning—that my parents had been practicing members of the faith when I was born, and that I had been raised in a more or less orthodox household. In fact, I mentioned, much my family’s participation in the Church ran back some five or six generations, when early forbears made the choice to embrace the faith and let it completely transform them … [Read more...]

Expanding Our Languages of Religious Experience

“I can imagine Jesus befriending my grandfather, too, frying up some breakfast for him, talking things over with him, and in fact the old man did report several experiences of just that kind. I can’t say the same for myself. I doubt I’d ever have had the strength for it. This is something that has come to my mind from time to time over the years, and I don’t really know what to make of it.”    - John Ames, Gilead During a visit from a couple women in my ward last week, we were chatting over New … [Read more...]