Happy Pioneer Day

The following are excerpts from a lecture on “Mormonism and the American West” that I will be delivering at the Chautauqua Institution this Thursday, July 24, as part of their week-long series on “The American West:  Religious Evolution and Innovations.”Happy Pioneer Day!  Today [July 24] is the day we celebrate the Mormon pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  Pioneer Day is actually more of a cultural holiday than a religious one.  There are no special religious rites or rituals … [Read more...]

A few things you should read before you make up your mind about Hobby Lobby

I suppose this post is about a week and a half late, given the short attention span of online conversation. So if you find yourself wondering “Why on earth is this guy still talking about a Supreme Court decision from two whole weeks ago,” I totally understand—I, too, have trouble remembering anything that happened before Germany annihilated Brazil on Tuesday. That said, for the moment it's actually my full-time job to think about the Hobby Lobby decision, and if you’re still reading this post, … [Read more...]

The Problem with Automatically Changing Women’s Last Names and What to do if it Happens to You

When I got married in May, I had long since decided to keep the name I’ve had since birth. My name was already attached to higher degrees, as well as publications and teaching records. More importantly, my last name is an integral part of my identity that connects me to my family’s Quebecois roots.My husband supported my decision, but as many women have discovered before me, a number of family and friends objected. Some of my fellow Mormons objected to my decision on the grounds that the Chu … [Read more...]

A Safe Space to Turn for Peace

As a kid growing up in New York City, I was blessed to have safe spaces that offered me emotional and spiritual havens from the tumult of the city streets and my parents’ marriage. The church building, located just a few blocks from my apartment and now the Manhattan temple, was the most important of those spaces. Some of my earliest memories of church involve watching Homefront television spots in the Visitors’ Center (now clothing rental, I think?). In high school, I joined newspaper delivery m … [Read more...]

It’s Not About Questions—and it is

In piecing together the sobering events over the last week, one of the most common interpretations I’ve seen is one offered by Dehlin and Kelly themselves and echoed over much of social media: that these disciplinary actions are intended to repress or punish questions and conversations.In the recent Trib interview with John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, Dehlin argued that the situation signals the Church is “trying to stem the tide of Mormons asking hard questions and struggling”; in Kelly’s interpr … [Read more...]

On Church Discipline for Dissenting Groups

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Mormon community here. I am neither a Mormon Stories fan nor an advocate of ordaining women, so I write this column with some trepidation. No matter how hard I try to be sympathetic, some people will inevitably find me judgmental or condescending; try as I might to understand, some people will conclude that I have distorted their opinions to make mine l … [Read more...]

Who Calls Apostasy? Picking up the Pieces When Local Leaders Fail

Kate Kelly is not my favorite Mormon feminist, and Ordain Women is a movement I've never agreed with. In fact, I've gone out of my way to make it clear that I'm in a different feminist camp.But the news that the Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly would soon face a disciplinary council for apostasy and possibly be excommunicated - all in absentia since she moved across the country before receiving the news - struck a chord with me. It reawakened that bubble of fear that lives in a tiny, nearly … [Read more...]

Feed My Lambs

Primary kids from the Liahona Children's Foundation website

“The Church may or may not be true,” quipped my father-in-law, who was at the time serving as a stake president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “But it is organized.”Born of the theological basis of hierarchical priesthood authority and of the practical exigencies of running a worldwide church with mostly volunteer labor, Mormon organization is indeed a force to be reckoned with. When the Church organizational machinery rumbles into motion, it mobilizes labor and resourc … [Read more...]


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