Friday, February 27, 2015

Visiting Seattle: Adam S. Miller




Adam Miller has been described as one of the most interesting and important writers in Mormonism today. Richard Bushman has said "Adam Miller is the most original and provocative Latter-day Saint theologian practicing today." Adam is a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney Texas. Adam is the director of the Mormon Theology Seminar, and is the author of five books including Letters to a Young Mormon and Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology.

Adam is also visiting Seattle in March. He will speak at the Seattle North Stake Center on March 8th at 7 p.m. on "Boredom as a Fruit of the Spirit." Hope to see you Seattle readers there.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kvetch or Kvell



by Reid:


kvetch – /k(ə)veCH/
(from Yiddish)
Noun
A person who complains a great deal

Verb
Complain

Oy vey! My last post has me on an extended tangent thinking about the persona and stereotypical portrayal of the chronic kvetch. Kvetch is a pretty cool word given that it's both a verb and a noun. Some have argued that it is also an art form. At the very least, it is learned behavior. The determinants that create a kvetch are complex and include societal, cultural and family dynamics.

From the biblical perspective, chronic complaining may be likened to murmuring. Both Hebrew and words translated as murmur in the Bible describe the kvetch. Though there are probably many examples of the kvetch in scripture, we really don't need to look further than the second chapter of The Book of Mormon for a great case study.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How a Temple Visit Changed My Life, Just Not Like You Expect



by Eliana:


I'm not a big temple goer but I recently was an escort for a young friend getting married whose family couldn't participate. We were at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple in Lehi, Utah (or thereabouts—all those towns slide together to me). Being there just for someone else, not thinking about myself, was a really good experience for me.

During some of the waiting around in the sealing room, I thought of the last and only time I'd been to this temple in particular. I will take you back in time now to 1996 when Mt. Timpanogos Temple was first opening …

I was an 18 year old sophomore at BYU-Provo, just known as BYU back in the day. I was engaged (it is so hard to keep typing this without throwing up) to the former roommate of my former boyfriend. I KNOW! He'd gotten baptized at the University of Utah over the summer and we decided to go to the temple open house with his mother in town visiting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Linger Longer 38




Linger Longer is a series where we highlight religious and non-religious articles, as well as mormon-related podcasts. Click here for previous lists.

Bloggernacle (religious sites)
The Girls Are Fine (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Living Theology: Lowell L. Bennion (By Common Consent)
Young Women Values: Not Princesses & Not For the Faint of Heart Personal Progress Cards (BCC)
Why The Church Should Practise Financial Transparency (By Common Consent)
On Not Giving a Fig For Historicity Debates (Times and Seasons)
Church Discourse on Homosexuality (Zelophehad's Daughters)
2015 Church Leader Valentines (Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer)
Tenth Ward Band, 1864 (Keepapitchinin)
The Queer Mormon Women Series (The Exponent)
Contented Unhappiness (Young Mormon Feminists)
Understanding RLDS History: A Resource List (Juvenile Instructor)
On Pseudonyms and Insults (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Possible Public Misperception (No More Strangers)
The Inquisition of John Dehlin (Rational Faiths)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episode 129: Developing "Selfhood" with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife (FMH Podcast)
Episode 523: Interview with Doug Fabrizio About My Excommunication (Mormon Stories)
Episode 262: Gospel Burn-Out (Mormon Matters)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
One-Second Day, Windshield Raindrops, Billion-Story Building and Pyramid Energy (What If?)
What Happens to Our Brains When We Exercise and How It Makes Us Happier (Fast Company)
Car Dealers Are Awful. It's Time to Kill the Dumb Laws That Keep Them in Business (Vox)
The Red Cross' Secret Disaster (Pro Publica)
Giving Money Away Makes Us Happy. Then Why Do So Few of Us Do It? (Vox)
The 10 Greatest Changes of the Past 1,000 Years (The Guardian)
Cartography's Favourite Map Monster: The Land Octopus (Big Think)
The Real Roots of Mid-Life Crisis (The Atlantic)
The Disease of Being Busy (On Being)
Surprisingly Simple Tips from 20 Experts on How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off (Vox)
The Secret Life of Passwords (The New York Times)
How to Feel Old (Thought Catalog)
Why Your Family Drives You Crazy (Vox)
The 85 Most Disruptive Ideas In Our History (Newsweek)
How Do You Sell God in the 21st Century? More Heaven, Less Hell (The Guardian)
Inside Monopoly's Secret War Against the Third Reich (EuroGamer.net)
License to Spy (Medium)
The 25 Best Podcast Episodes Ever (Slate)
Admire Someone? Write Them an Email, You Might Be Surprised (Signal v Noise)
The World's Most Intense Fitness Program (Outside)
'Asteroids' and the Dawn of the Gamer Age (The Daily Beast)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thoughts on Lent



by Rob T:

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

I heard those words many times growing up as a Catholic, uttered by a priest as he applied ashes to my forehead on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent leading up to Easter.

They are words whose truth still resonates with me as a Latter-day Saint.

About the only thing I questioned about the season — due to the prohibition of eating meat on Fridays — was why chicken was considered "poultry" except for Fridays during Lent, when it became "meat" and I could not eat it, because I preferred the taste of it to that of fish — which was okay to eat on Fridays.

But that is obviously trivial. Lent is a beautiful season. Much like Advent leading up to Christmas, Lent, to me, always felt like a season of anticipation. Something is about to happen, God is going to do something incredible, and you need to be prepared.

I believe that anticipatory sense is what drove Christ into the wilderness for forty days before his entry into Jerusalem, and subsequent atonement, crucifixion and resurrection. He knew what He was about to undergo, so the fully human Jesus took time to withdraw and contemplate the gravity of what would be accomplished by God through the fully divine Christ.

During a tweet-flurry on Wednesday in response to Jana Riess' excellent piece on a Mormon perspective of Ash Wednesday (also enjoyed this post by LDS Living that is linked to from Jana's blog), the ever-thoughtful Kristine A expressed this lament:


As can be seen above, I agreed with Kristine A and regretfully admitted that I had cracked those jokes myself in my early years after converting to the LDS Church.

That the ideas of Lent should be in year-round practice is not an incorrect notion. The problem is that this is rarely uttered in the right spirit — it's usually meant a jab at a religious tenet that we as Mormons do not formally share (look at the comments on Riess' post, there's one that's blatantly disrespectful, though there's another that I think captures a good balance). It also violates the principle of being open to and seeking truth wherever it is found and applying it to our lives.

And I don't think any Christian who celebrates Lent would disagree that the season's principles should be a constant effort.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meekness and Vulnerability



by Shawn Tucker:


I have often heard that meekness is not weakness, but I have to say that it is easy to see how the two go together. In the scriptures, for example, we often see the meek connected with the poor. When Jesus lists the Beatitudes He connects the poor in spirit, those that mourn, and the meek. Even in Elder Ulisses Soares' 2013 LDS General Conference talk Be Meek and Lowly of Heart, a talk where he says that meekness is not weakness, he also says that the meek have a "docile, tolerant, and submissive" temperament. I have to admit that those just sound like three positive terms for weak. To be meek is also to be teachable, and while that is not necessarily weak, those who are teachable must acknowledge a sense of their own ignorance, need, and neediness.

Needy, ignorant, and docile are not usually seen as attractive qualities. But in my opinion, to really get at the nature of meekness, we need to make things worse. To make things worse, or in other words to make meekness seem even less attractive, let's think about poverty. What I have in mind about poverty is actually something that C.S. Lewis says about charity and security. Lewis puts forward that "For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity." (C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity 86) What really seems frightening about poverty is the lack of control, the lack of power in our lives to predict and to bring about the outcomes that we want. Perhaps this is just me, but I think that what I find really frightening about the poor is to see how vulnerable they are. And I would add one additional frightening thing about the poor: their plight seems shameful. In the capitalistic, individualistic, hard-work-always-guarantees-success world that I live in, to be poor is to be a failure. To look into the face of poverty is to see shame and need and vulnerability. And I think that all three of those things are connected with meekness.

So to get to meekness, let me start with shame. My point-of-departure for this post is a fabulous TED talk by Brené Brown called The Power of Vulnerability. In this talk Brown discusses her findings as a social work researcher. From that work Brown concludes that shame unravels human connection. Brown defines shame as "the fear of disconnection" or the fear of being unworthy of being connected with others. She elaborates that a sense of shame is universal, and that while no one wants to talk about it everyone has it and in fact "the less you talk about it the more you have it." Brown says that a phrase that expresses shame so well is "I am not good enough." This idea of not being enough can be expressed as "I am not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough." At this point, my reader, you might want to note where you feel that you are "not enough." Of myself I would say that "I'm not quite smart enough, kind enough, obedient enough, and just not quite lovable." I would add that I am afraid of how people around me would respond if they "really knew me."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fathering Sam



by MAB:


"Why do you want me to bleed daddy?"

This is what my then 5-year-old son said to me late one afternoon. For the third time I had told him to come inside to get ready for bed. When he didn't respond I grabbed the rusty old watering can he was playing with and headed inside, fuming about my paternal incompetency. Pausing at the back door, I realized that I didn't want to take the rusty old watering can in the house so without thinking I tossed it back toward the play area. As I did so, the handle broke and the can flew in a different direction striking my son's forehead. He started bleeding immediately and we were both shocked. When he noticed he was bleeding he asked me why I threw the can at his head and why I wanted him to bleed. I explained it was an accident but he was still very confused and in pain. I was crushed by his words and my actions. I couldn't get in touch with my wife, so I found a baby sitter for the other two kids and took him to the emergency room to get stitches, and to endure the questioning stares when he told the nurses and doctor that I threw a watering can at his head.

Almost a year later we were at a parade when a pirate ship came though firing off an extremely loud cannon. This scared my son so badly that he jumped in my lap and hugged me very tight for about five minutes as the spectacle inched past and out of range. I hug my children every day if I'm not away on a business trip but there was something different this time. I felt forgiven and I felt like he trusted me to protect him. I felt his trust in a way that I'd never felt before.

About two years later we are hosting my brother-in-law and his family as they visited our new home city of Amsterdam. It was the week before Christmas and we decided to visit the festive city center. There were hordes of people doing last minute shopping and enjoying the sights. About an hour into our adventure my sister-in-law noticed that our child count had dropped from 7 to 6 and we discovered my boy was missing. We quickly retraced our route but after 10 very long minutes of searching he was nowhere to be found. Fears entered my mind as we fanned out down crowded sides streets and alleys. At one point I imagined him alone sitting in some dark alcove crying for his family. As I passed each building my worries grew as various scenarios – none of them good – played out in my head. Then, in the crowd I saw two officers coming my direction and they had my son between them. I ran to him and picked him up without saying anything to the officers. I took him in my arms so I could make sure he was all right. I tried to ask him how he was doing but I was so emotional all I could muster was an inexplicable donkey bray that embarrassed my son.

What do these stories have in common other than my middle child? It's hard to describe but I think it has something to do with depth of emotion or perhaps emotional peaks and valleys you experience as a parent. You hear that parents love their children the same but I'm not sure that's true. I love them all tremendously and maybe the quantity is the same but the quality is different. And when I say quality I don't mean good vs. bad quality I mean the nature of the love seems different. With my middle child, at least for now there are lower lows and higher highs and although things have plateaued as of late I get the feeling that events are being foreshadowed and that fathering him will always be a roller coaster.

Please share similar stories or share your thoughts on mine.

 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gif
MAB has fond and therefore suspect memories of living his pre-teen years in rural Central Utah with his five brothers and one sister. As a teenager he moved with part of his family to the suburbs of Salt Lake City then left for a mission to Honduras. After barely surviving that he went to college in Rapid City, SD then married an open minded Californian who helped put him through graduate school in Seattle. He currently resides in Amsterdam with his wife and three children and has a hard time figuring out if he'll ever leave the land of bikes, canals, tulips and clogs.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Pierre Lognoul (used with permission).

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