ATHENA: As General Conference weekend spins up, I find myself dreading the fallout even more than I usually do. This past year has been a rough one for people on the margins of Mormondom, and I am one of those people. I tried for a very long time to maintain a position in the center, to belong to the in-crowd, until I just couldn’t anymore. The LDS church was hurting me in very specific ways, and because of that, I grew to understand how much pain church membership was causing other people for whom I cared deeply. I guess you could say my empathy chip finally activated.Continue reading “Be Careful Who You Shun in the Name of the Lord”
My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS
TW: Policy exclusion of transgender individuals
BRANDY: Several weeks before Christmas, I stood in my kitchen wrapping pralines. It’s tedious, monotonous, work, and the worst part of making the damn things. My mind was racing, stressing, about all the things I still had to do before bed, before tomorrow, before I left town for a few days, before Christmas. My husband walked into the kitchen and something in his expression made me ask what was going on. He said, “You have four sons.” And I felt the floor fall out from under my feet. Continue reading “My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS”
LDS Policy and My Political Journey
TABITHA:“As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs.
We also urge you to spend the time needed to become informed about the issues and candidates you will be considering.” (First Presidency 2016 Letter)
In the United States, some version of this announcement is often read over the pulpit in LDS congregations shortly before Election Day. Since it’s election season (including the run up for presidential caucuses and primaries), I want to share a few of my experiences about how “becoming informed about issues and candidates” has lead me to positions that frequently put me in the minority of my family and church friends.
Immigration/Refugee Acceptance Continue reading “LDS Policy and My Political Journey”
My Parents were Closeted, Nuanced Mormons (and you can be one, too)
ATHENA: I recently realized that I never heard either of my parents utter that familiar testimony-bearing expression, “I know the Church is true.” They were both raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the children of Mormon pioneers. They raised me and my siblings in the Church. They never said they didn’t think the church was true, but they never said they did, either. Continue reading “My Parents were Closeted, Nuanced Mormons (and you can be one, too)”
Generations Bound by Love and Sugar
READER POST: Across the grassy park, I see a cousin I haven’t seen for six years. I shout her name and run toward her. She looks up, shakes off a child who’s clinging to her hand, and we meet in a fierce embrace, laughing and crying. I feel safe–here–in the middle of my chaotic family reunion, where I am linked to everyone, including those I barely remember or have never met, linked just as surely as I hold onto this beloved cousin I’ve known since birth. Continue reading “Generations Bound by Love and Sugar”
On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son
DEBORAH: A few years back, one of my adult children had had enough of Mormonism. He’d always participated at church, attending with us each Sunday, going to Mutual and stake dances, attaining his Eagle award, even choosing to attend a church university. He’d not given us much grief in terms of rebellion, but inside—and without me realizing it—he was struggling because, try as he might, he couldn’t receive the testimony I’d promised him would come. After a great deal of angst and a fall into depression, he finally told me he would leave the church. He asked me how to go about it. Explaining the process was probably the most difficult thing I’ve been asked to do by a child. But, because I love him and because I could see his mental health was dwindling, I did. Continue reading “On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son”
When Women Use the Temple as a Weapon
READER POST: Early in my marriage, I learned that my mother-in-law loves the temple. To her, it’s the pinnacle of family bonding time and the first thing she wants to do any time the family gets together. For instance, the evening before one family wedding, her sons had to explain why it would be insensitive for those of us with recommends to ditch the bride’s parents and the groom’s grandparents, who did not hold temple recommends, in order to attend a session together. On another occasion, my mother-in-law picked up family at the airport and informed her travel-weary relatives that they were heading straight to the temple for a 2-hour session. Yes, she loves the temple that much, and its a problem. Continue reading “When Women Use the Temple as a Weapon”
Lessons from Mother Winter
READER POST: I used to really hate winter.
A sharp, bone-slicing, we-do-not-negotiate-with-terrorists hatred.
I noticed that we always talk about the earth as a mother. Hey, I’m a mother! Maybe I could pick up a few lessons from The Master Mother? I was starved for some kind of pattern of a proper mother, since my own was too overwhelmed to really show up and I didn’t want to repeat that. Continue reading “Lessons from Mother Winter”
Discovering Sisterhood through Vulnerability: A Story of Gratitude
READER POST: The doorbell rang last night as I was folding laundry and my kids were absorbed in electronics. Because #singlemomlife.
It was the sister missionaries from my previous ward. They recently requested my Facebook friendship. I had accepted with a chuckle, expecting they would take one look at my feed and think me an apostate. I honestly thought to myself that I maybe I should brand myself with a scarlet letter “A” for “apostate” and that would simplify everything. Continue reading “Discovering Sisterhood through Vulnerability: A Story of Gratitude”
Fathers in Heaven, Absent on Earth
HILDEGARD: In a recent conference talk, Church President Russell M. Nelson spoke idyllically of motherhood—that he valued it so highly as to have chosen his surgical career because he couldn’t choose to be a mother.
Let’s put aside for a moment that not every woman can choose to be a mother, either; and Life doesn’t always honor our choices anyway.
Let’s also put aside for a moment that careers outside health care are honorable, too.
I’d like to talk about what was notably absent in his treatment of the topic—what he left unsaid, that speaks volumes more to me than what he did say.
He couldn’t choose to be a mother, so he chose a health-related career. What value does he assign to his own fatherhood? Why would mentioning his earthly career take precedence over mentioning his divine identity as a father?
Let’s start by looking at where fathers are most often seen in the Mormon world.