Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's official: I need a new title.

Several times over the last few weeks, I've had thoughts or experiences that I wanted to blog about, but then thought, But I don't want to blog about that on a blog called "whore." So, I am declaring myself as having officially outgrown whoredom. I thought about Ginx's comment on my last post, about the danger of losing all but your most loyal readers if you switch blog titles/urls, and you know what, I'm okay with that.

So, new blog, coming sometime soon. I'll try to give some thought about the title over the Christmas break. (The list of stuff I want to get done over the break keeps getting longer...)  In the meantime, I'm open to suggestions. It will still be me. I see it as being rather random and eclectic. I'll probably reserve any urges to blog about Mormon-y things for Main Street Plaza. I'm sure I'll still have thoughts on religion though. Also a lot of music, stuff about my kids, maybe politics here and there. It'll be fun! I'll let you all know when it's up and running.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Years

Hello, all. It's the two year anniversary of the day I launched my blog. I haven't posted in months, and it occurred to me that that's largely because things are going so well. I've used this blog often as a place to vent, work out difficulties, reach out for reassurance. All you wonderful readers have never let me down, and I'm very grateful.

I'm in a really good place in my life right now and largely don't feel the neediness that I often filled through this blog. Perhaps I should spew some of the positiveness, instead of waiting till things are tough to write something here. I'll consider it. I've been busy though. Graduate school and two kids take up a lot of time. I love it though.

Something else has been gnawing at me: the blog title. I've had mixed feelings about it lately. I like the sassiness and it was perfect for the vitriolic, anti-religious sentiments I felt when I started blogging, but I don't feel that way anymore. I'm not sure the title really reflects where I am these days. And, yes, you can change a blog title, but not the url. I find myself wanting to blog about "off topic" things too, from parenting to recipes to music history things I'm studying. I've considered starting a new blog, if I ever think of an appropriate title. I'll let you all know if I do.

Here's to two great years!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How universal is music?

I started work on my master's a few weeks ago (summer session moves at twice the pace of the regular semesters, hence the drought in blog postings). Right now I'm working on a paper on the influence of the Protestant Reformation on music, and vice versa.

One of the key reforms Luther made was to reintroduce congregational singing. He felt very strongly that musical participation should be a part of everyone's worship life and Christian education.

I think music and religion have gone together for as long as either has been a part of the human experience. Music was certainly a huge part of my Mormon upbringing and still plays a major role in my spirituality.

I've been singing and have had an ear for pitch as long as I can remember. Singing time is a part of Sunday School for Mormon kids every week. I remember even as a four or five-year-old hearing one of the teachers singing off key and wondering, Why is she doing that? Couldn't she hear the difference? Another time, we had a lesson about talents and we were supposed to list all of our talents. My teacher asked why I didn't list singing. I didn't list it because I didn't think it was a talent; it was so easy, I thought everyone could do it.

Musical inclination is something I was just born with. I've worked and practiced to develop it further, but it's also just an irremovable part of who I am. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I would have given up on religion and spirituality altogether years ago if it weren't for music.

But I wonder, how much would music matter to me if I weren't musically inclined myself? Would I still be as moved by it as I am? 

At church, everyone is supposed to sing, regardless of how "good" they are at it. How helpful or moving or powerful is singing for someone who may not necessarily like to sing?

This is a genuine question. I'll try to draw a comparison. I appreciate visual art, but I'm not very artistically inclined myself. I can certainly be emotionally and spiritually moved by other people's works of art, but if someone asked me to draw my own picture in praise of God or the sacred or whatever, first of all, you'd have a really ugly picture, and second, I really don't think I'd get much out of it.

So all of you who can't keep a beat or carry a tune, what does music mean to you, particularly in your spiritual life?


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Theology with Dad

One of my very earliest memories is playing in the ocean with my dad. I was probably four years old, must have been southern California. We were out in the water up to his waist. He was holding me under the shoulders, my feet dangling in the water, and as each wave approached, he'd ask, "Is this one too big?"

And I'd always insist, "No, Dad! It's not too big!" Then he'd hold me up so the wave would hit me at chest level and I'd shriek in delight. Again and again, "Is this one too big?" But nothing was too big as long as my dad was right there.

A few years later--I think I was eight or nine--we were hiking together. I don't know where we were. I remember a lot of trees and the visible rock was gray, not red, so it couldn't have been near where we lived on the Arizona Strip. My father is a fairly quiet man, doesn't typically talk unless he has something pretty important to say. So hikes with Dad were usually extended silences, punctuated with profundities.

On this particular hike, I remember him saying to me, "Right now is what's happening right now. It's not the future; it's not the past; it's now. And that's where we are."

That's present moment awareness, which Mormonism doesn't especially emphasize, but my dad was thinking about it, and talking to his eight-year-old daughter about it. Lots of good memories of hikes with Dad, especially the ones where good theological discussions developed.

Dad was more sympathetic and understanding than my mother about the depression I struggled with as a teenager, because he struggled with it too. I remember one day in particular during my junior year of high school, when the thought of going to school was just overwhelming. My mother wasn't home that morning. "Can I take a day off?" I asked Dad.

"You know better than I do whether you can or not. Do you have any tests or anything?"

I didn't, so I had permission to skip school that day. Dad invited me to come along with him on his route as a rural mail carrier. I did, packed up some homework to do along the way. "You still the smartest in your class?" he asked as I finished up a trigonometry assignment. Smart. Of all my insecurities, I never doubted that I was smart, because my dad had always said that I was, for as long as I could remember.

There were several times when I rode along with Dad while he delivered the mail, but this day stands out in particular for the discussion that developed. Ironically, I can't remember the specifics of what we talked about. I know the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac was in there, along with the Chronicles of Narnia. Mostly I remember the feeling, the connection with my dad that this was something important that we had in common.

My dad and I don't see eye to eye on much these days, religion and politics in particular. The theological discussions stopped long ago, but they are still some of my best memories. Hearing Dad speak at my grandmother's funeral last fall helped me realize--or perhaps just reminded me, actually--that my dad is a very spiritual person in his own way. It's drastically different from my way. I believe it's based on several inaccuracies. And yet it does still seem to work for many people as a means of evoking the sacred.

And I can respect that.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Evening Blog Post

It's time again for the Saturday Evening Blog Post at Elizabeth Esther's blog. The first Saturday of every month she invites bloggers to share their best post from the previous month. I decided to share my special Mother's Day post about Honoring the Great Mother and the sacred feminine. Hop on over to discover some new bloggers and maybe share a post of your own!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Comment Highlights 6/02/2011

 A couple of my favorite comments from the last few weeks.  

From Diana on Honoring the Great Mother
I venture, for myself, that the necessity for a female deity is rooted in the need to overturn our society's views and restrictions on women. The female body particularly has never been venerated in our lifetime; its functions, uses, needs, desires, and appearances have been controlled by men. Learnings about goddesses and coming to recognize the divine in ourselves is a significant part of many women's paths.

For me it has nothing to do with forcing a human gender identity on deity, since I am an atheist. It DOES have to do with the liberation of my sexuality, my physical appearance, my will, my voice, and my power. There is a reason that the modern goddess movement arose hand in hand with ecology and feminist movements.

My power (with all that entails), and that of many women throughout history and currently, has been squelched. Learning goddess lore and honoring these archetypes and legends is one way for me to get past that.
From Riparian Church on Why still use the word "God"?
I think that the statement that "God is love" is one that resonates with your post here.  The idea that this is flimsy-ish might not mesh with the striking hard-headedness of the statement.  If God is no more and no less than love, then this is simply a way of saying that of all the things / forces / powers in the universe, there is one and one only worthy of human worship: love.

And though it sounds sentimental, I'm not so sure.  Science is finding out things about the energies that hold things together that we might as well call "love" as anything else... what do you call it when the energies of the human race seem not only to be connected but to be effectual at accomplishing and causing and moving and even healing?

Love's as good a term as any, I guess.  

Call it Andrew if it pleases you.
If you haven't already, you can check out my most recent post at Main Street Plaza: "We do not need more members who question every detail." Thanks so much for reading!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My guest post at NPR: "Wishing for Less Time"

National Public Radio's program Being featured an essay I wrote as a guest contributor on their blog.
I never used to go anywhere without my cell phone. It was not only a means of communication, but my sole timepiece, and not knowing the time made me crazy.
You can read the rest here.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Come visit my blog for Five Tips For Spending Less Time on the Internet!

How's that title for irony?

A few of you responded to my post about scaling back my blogging ambitions for the sake of my emotional and mental health saying you have similar struggles with spending too much time on the internet. In the immortal words of Sideshow Mel, "Applause is an addiction, like heroin--or checking your email." So I know I'm not the only one.

In that spirit, I thought I'd share a list article I wrote a few years ago, but then was too lazy to find a market for. Just staying off the computer altogether isn't an option for most of us in our modern world, but here are five tips for not letting the internet take over your life:

1. Make a list.  We all know that if we go shopping without a list, we end up buying things we don’t need and spending too much money.  Instead of running to the computer every time you get the impulse to look for a recipe or a deal on eBay, try writing down the specific goals you want to accomplish on the internet and add to that list throughout the day.  Which brings me to...
2. Have designated e-mail and Internet time.   You know how much time you truly need to be on the Internet each day.  Give yourself a limit and stick with it.  Use that time to accomplish the specific goals that you’ve written down.  Set a timer if you need to and when time’s up, close the Internet and get back to your life.
3. Only open the Internet if you need to use it for something task-related.  Get in the habit of closing your Internet browser when you’re not using it, the same way you turn off a light when you leave a room.  That way when you get on the computer to enter receipts in Quicken, you won’t have tabs for e-mail and social networks open tempting you.
4. Set your homepage to something other than your e-mail.  How many times have you wanted to look up library hours or the address of the recycling center and then see that you have messages and before you know it, the library’s closed and you’re still on the internet?  Try setting your homepage to Google for easy information access.  If your e-mail doesn’t automatically open up every time you open the Internet, you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked.
5. Don’t forbid yourself from fun.  There’s nothing wrong with a quick chat with a friend or the occasional game of Text Twist.  These can be great little breaks in your day.  Just be sure you don’t get so caught up in the cyber world that you forget the real three dimensional world!  So call your friend and meet for coffee instead of writing on her wall.  After all, {{{HUGS}}} can never replace hugs.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Haven't written much lately," blah, blah, blah

I'm not going to promise to do "better" because I've been rethinking the way I approach blogging.

I do have long term serious writing goals, and having a blog is an expected part of making a name for yourself as a writer these days. So building a platform and a readership base are part of my goals here. I've read various articles on tips for building your blog, attracting and retaining readers, maintaining high traffic. Two of the points that always get repeated are to post regularly and to be faithful about replying to blog comments. So I have tried to do these things, with varying degrees of success.

But I've discovered something when I try to get really ambitious with the blog: It's psychologically not good for me. I get too attached to checking my stats, checking for new comments or new subscribers. I start feeling anxious if the numbers aren't where I want them. At the risk of sounding pathetic, I let my sense of self-worth get caught up in how well my blog is doing. I end up wasting large swaths of my life sitting in front of the computer hitting "refresh" and in between refreshing pages, mindless internet memes keep me occupied. At the end of such a day, I feel utterly unsatisfied and depleted. 

I was offline for several months immediately after I separated from my husband. It was good to go through an internet "detox." There were many reasons why I decided to get reconnected at home, but one was that, while one of the reasons I hadn't gotten internet was to try to save money, I was worried that it was actually costing me more not to have it, because when I'd go to Barnes & Noble to use the WiFi, nine times out of ten I'd walk out of the store with a book in my hand.

But when I didn't have internet at home, I actually read almost every book I bought. All the time hitting "refresh" lately, like a rat hitting a food bar hoping for a pellet, could be time spent reading, journaling, praying or meditating, exercising, giving fuller attention to my children, gearing up for graduate school, working on writing pieces to submit for publication in places other than my blog. I know I felt clearer in my head and lighter in my heart when I wasn't online so much.

It's hard to blog about a spiritual life when you don't feel like you're living much of one.

So I'm not going to promise to post more frequently, in fact probably less. I'm not going to publish minimal effort filler posts just to keep traffic up. This will probably be bad for my Alexa ranking, but good for me. The feedback I've gotten from several readers is that my writing is what keeps you coming back, not the videos or links that I post, and wow, thank you for that. Trusting solely in the strength of my writing runs contrary to all the advice I've heard about what it takes to get your blog noticed among all the millions of other blogs out there, but I'm gonna give it a shot. I want to keep posting comment highlights, because I feel like it's a way to show my appreciation for my readers. I may share some external links here and there, but that's not going to be my focus. As I've said in my newly posted Comment Policy, "I do my best to reply to all comments and am usually successful, although a reply may be delayed by several days. Your patience is appreciated."

So my new blogging philosophy is less is more, quality over quantity. I'm hoping to work my way into a regular posting schedule, probably once a week, but I'm not sure when or if regularity will happen. The easiest way to be sure you don't miss anything is to subscribe. There are links at the bottom of each post that will tell you how to do so. And you know what, if you do miss something, it will still be in the archives when you get around to it. I don't want to contribute to internet obsession and, besides, I trust that you all have the ability to lead full and meaningful lives without visiting my blog several times a week. If you really, really miss me that much, as of this writing, there are 265 posts in the archives for your perusal.

Ah, I feel better.

Related Post: 5 Tips For Spending Less Time on the Internet


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buddhism in the Psalms?

Sermon in church this morning was on Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." And into my head pops the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism, that the root of suffering is desire.

Related? Discuss.

Blogger was having issues Wednesday through Friday-ish this last week, so if you tried to leave me a comment then, it didn't go through, but you're welcome to repost. Also, I'm behind on replying to comments this last week, though it is on my radar as a "to do" item. I'm free this afternoon and could use this time to get to comments, but instead, I'm going to a coffee shop with all my issues of The Sun that have been piling up unread, because I really, really want to. I hope you'll forgive me, and I hope you'll do something lovely and rejuvenating for yourself today as well.

Edited to add: It occurred to me as I was heading out in my car the irony of writing about really, really wanting to do something and the pitfalls of desire in the same post...


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

This is possibly my favorite TED Talk of all time. Both funny and wise, Brene Brown tells of how she was a researcher whose motto was, "If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist." While the purpose of her research was "to predict and control," this created a problem when her research pointed toward the necessity of vulnerability--admitting a lack of control--for living a full life.

Vulnerability is an uncomfortable place, and she discusses the various ways we try to avoid it, at our own peril. One way is trying make what is uncertain certain. "Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty," she says.

The one thing that separates those who feel a strong sense of belonging and connection from those who don't is the ability to embrace vulnerability, to be authentic and risk rejection.

I'll just let you listen to her now, because she expresses these things better than I do. I hope you'll feel as inspired as I did.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honoring the Great Mother

In the summer of 2007, I read the book that has changed my worldview more than any other I've read before or since: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. You may be more familiar with her as the author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair.

I don't quite remember how I came across the book. I know the subtitle caught my eye: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine.  The Sacred Feminine? I thought. What's that?

Turned out, "that" was a huge part of what I'd been longing for and had been missing in all my previous religious experience. Kidd writes of being raised as a Baptist in the deep South, a heavily patriarchal culture and mindset to which I could certainly relate, having grown up Mormon in a rural and predominantly Mormon community.

Mormons actually have a doctrine about a Heavenly Mother, but I barely knew anything about her, except that we weren't supposed to talk about her, much less to her, because she was just too sacred. Even as a goddess, she apparently still needed the protection and authority of a man. My image of her was a downtrodden woman popping out trillions of spirit babies then not being allowed or able to have anything to do with them once their mortal lives began, just having to sit back, watch her children suffering, struggling, killing each other, but having to leave all the real parenting to Heavenly Father.

I became especially curious about Heavenly Mother after the I became a mother myself, right around the time I was re-baptized and trying my damnedest to regain a testimony in Mormonism and make it work. The gag order on Heavenly Mother discussions made me feel lonely. Motherhood was an important aspect of my life, for which I had no divine role models with whom I was allowed to communicate. I didn't know about sites like Feminist Mormon Housewives at the time. If I had, this story may have turned out differently, though I have no regrets about leaving the Church.

The debate rages about whether Mormons are "real" Christians, but the love of Christ was always part of my understanding and why I chose to stay within Christianity at the beginning of my post-Mormon seeking. I was attending a Presbyterian church here in Fargo pretty regularly. It was alright, though nothing that made me especially excited. That's when I found Kidd's book. I found the idea of a Goddess alluring, and I liked that one reviewer said it was firmly rooted in Christian tradition.

I couldn't put it down. She describes herself as a "conventionally religious, churchgoing woman, a traditional wife and mother," until one day in her late 30s she had a dream about giving birth to herself, and suddenly she "woke up." I related to the outrage, the pain, the longing of a soul yearning to burst forth and grow. Every page was a revelation: I am as much like the divine as a man. I cheered as she found the courage to speak and live by her truth, rather than a truth handed down from authority, a model I've tried to follow as I relearn how to trust myself.

After reading, I concluded, I will never find what I am looking for within Christianity. It marked the absolute end of my looking to any sort of established religion as holding any sort of divine authority. Now my feelings are closer to, I will never find all I am looking for within Christianity. I do find meaning in the eucharist and the stories, songs and traditions. I find Christianity to be a mostly "in my head" religion though. For more earthy, sensual, bodily sorts of spirituality, I turn to a Mother Goddess.

Diana at Picaresque wrote about the absence of Heavenly Mother for all practical purposes from Mormon practice and discussion, and writes, "I am not currently in need of a well-broken religious path to follow, but you may be assured that if that time comes, the path I choose will welcome and revere women and sing praises to a divine lady." Amen, sister!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Evening Blog Post

I discovered the Saturday Evening Blog Post last month through Young Mom at Permission to Live and am trying it out myself this month. It's a monthly blog carnival hosted by Elizabeth Esther inviting bloggers to share their best post from the previous month the first Saturday of the month. I decided to share my post Why still use the word "God"? on why I think God is still relevant even when not referring to an anthropomorphic being. Head on over to discover some new bloggers and share a post of your own!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Comment Highlights 5/06/2011

Another great week for thoughtful comments!

From Cognitive Dissenter on No, I’m not happy that bin Laden is dead:
It's analogous to the death penalty. There are people in this world who do horrific things.   But celebrating anyone's death is also horrific.
We all know what kind of man Osama bin Laden was and that he committed atrocities.  What disturbs me more than anything about the jubilant celebration of his death -- indeed the party atmosphere -- is what it says about us.

From FreeFox on the same post:
I think not only the celebrations but the killing itself is utterly appalling.
I do not really doubt that Osama bin Laden was a criminal. Especially sceptics make a big thing of the value of the objectivity achieved by the scientific method. I think that Due Process is a civilisatory achievement designed to remove bias and with it revenge from a system meant to deliver justice. Just like with the Guantanamo bay prison, or the treatment of Bradley Manning, I cannot see any special circumstance in this that even begins to counterweight the casting aside of such a basic and important tool.
It's not the gut feeling of revenge displayed by so many that frightens me - that I can understand - and I do not think that it is that in which we should differ from the unenlightened theoratic masses: Humans are human, and vengefulness is a common human trait. But the point of Enlightenment was that Government, to be of benefit to humanity, has to rise above this human irrationality. More important than the seperation of Church and State is the seperation of Gut and State. And in a Democracy we, the people, are the appointed guardians of that achievement. To give up due process is a HUGE step towards true barbarism, in fact, it embodies barbarisms true soul. Allowing this, celebrating this, demonstrates our failure in this appointment.
So in death Osama bin Laden is indeed victorious over the West. We HAVE become him.
From Tachyon Feathertail on “Why do you still like religion when you don’t believe in it?”
I'm definitely with you, in that I also became an atheist and then felt like something was missing. In my case, though, it wasn't attending religious services, it was having a personal spiritual connection with the divine.
I finally had to let go of trying to define my goddess and just let her be herself, and as soon as I did I had a profound spiritual experience that made a huge difference in my life. But I still face derision from fundamentalist atheists, because apparently I'm not allowed to have the kind of experience. (It's either that, or "Oh, I get the same feelings in nature / spending time with family." Good for you, now stop trying to tell me where I should be getting them from. Assuming we're even talking about the same feelings to begin with, which neither of us can prove.)
Feathertail also had a great blog post exploring the ideas in this comment in more detail.

And one more announcement, Tristan Vick, Bud Uzoras and Mike Doolittle have joined forces and are now writing a blog together called Three Skeptics. Check it out!

Happy weekend!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

A short talk this week on a positive note. I need it after yesterday.

Whether big or small, every act of kindness makes a difference, and it's never too early to start doing some good.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No, I'm not happy that bin Laden is dead.

I don't see death as a reason to be happy. I just don't.

And it remains to be seen whether his death will actually accomplish anything as far as reducing the threat of terrorism in the world. Movements are taken over by new leaders all the time. The death of Jesus didn't exactly wipe out Christianity. Same with Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Just sayin'.

This post on NPR's Being blog sums up my feelings pretty well, minus the religious specificity.

I saw a blog post titled "F*ck Respect" on Facebook this morning. A warning about language, not because I think the language the writer used is morally "wrong" any more than I think a product made from "cheez" is wrong; I just think it's cheap and gross. Basically, it's a rant saying, "Theists are stupid, so we don't have to respect them." For example:
Every so often some tree hugging l*beral stands on a soapbox and states how we should treat all people with respect; even those canine b*ll-licking theists... Pin headed pr*cks without one redeeming feature... What mind bending reason is there to not go to your local ch*rch on sunday and p*ss on its walls... Just because they haven't stoned anyone lately we should give the intellectually impaired a free ride? B*llshit, smack the b*tches whenever you get a chance, the only way to keep their smarmy *sses in line.
I commented, "I guess I'm a tree-hugging liberal." Responses: "Me too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let religion invade the government." "Stupid beliefs are still stupid, even if the people who hold them are nice, and I'm not going to stop speaking out against them."

I don't have any problem with either of those comments (except for not being fond of the word "stupid"), except that wasn't what this post that they liked so much was about at all. I rarely take part in Facebook debates and am a little embarrassed that I'm actually blogging about it too, but this really got under my skin. This is how I responded:
Speaking out against stupid beliefs is still different from attacking people who hold them. An actual issue or point of disagreement, you can talk about. You just want to turn people who believe differently from you into caricatures (like this post does), you're accomplishing nothing. Outright attacks on religion are counterproductive. It makes zealots feel justified and gives them a cause to rally around. This post says nothing about keeping religion out of government or any actual threat. It's nothing but vulgar dehumanization, painting with a very wide brush to turn ALL theists into Other. It's useless, despicable, and ethically WRONG and I don't mind saying so. But your free speech does protect your right to get your kicks that way should you so choose.
If Facebook let you edit comments, I would add that this sort of attack also alienates moderates who would be your allies on issues like funding Planned Parenthood and keeping creationists out of science classrooms.

I have several atheist friends on Facebook. Some are the combative type, so I see these sorts of rants all the time. I think the reason it bothered me more than usual today was because it seems to me that the same sort of stereotyping that causes us to see others as Others--less than, not like us, inferior, inhuman--is the same sort of mentality that can desensitize us to the point that a person's death is a reason for celebration.

But I had another Facebook friend who came through with this status:
I'm going to celebrate by spreading some love and doing something nice for someone who is different from me today. Bin Laden would have hated that.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Introduce yourself!

I did this last year and it was fun. This time I'd like to set it up as a perma-type link in the sidebar. If you introduced yourself last year, you're more than welcome to do so again here.

Share any or all of the following or anything else you'd like:

  • Name or pseudonym
  • Where you're from and what you do
  • How you found this blog
  • How long you've been reading, what you like, any suggestions
  • Your religious/spiritual history, or lack thereof
  • Links to your own blog or website
  • Favorite book(s)
  • Whatever else you can think of

Have fun! Can't wait to read your comments!


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mormons and Beauty Pageants

I've always loved this clip from the movie Miss Congeniality of adorable Miss Rhode Island when asked to describe her perfect date:

So I shared it on Facebook this morning, and received the unexpected comment, "She looks like a Mormon."

No, no, no. For one thing, she's showing way too much skin for a Mormon. A Mormon in a beauty pageant would look something more like this:
Yes, that's me on the right. Once upon a time, I was a small town beauty queen, something for which I feel a mixture of both pride and shame.

Here I am riding in the parade with my attendants, wearing the world's most unsexy dress.

Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist.

Yes, this is how I dressed as I presided over fair festivities. I think they came to regret crowning me.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Comment Highlights, 4/22/2011

From Secular Dentist on Good god, I was an arrogant little $#@!:
Very interesting Leah.  It shows how we, as children, (as you very well noted) are the product of our environment; but it also shows how we grow as humans and adapt our views when we have a more open mind towards the world we live in. 
This is something that lacks with many religions, they want to push their views, and convert and proselytize without realizing that the beauty of this world is that we all hold different beliefs and traditions.  It should be our sense of humanity what sustains us as a society, not religion.
From Catherine P. on Video of my SRLS Talk:
How ironic the gentleman at the end... he spoke exactly as I would expect a true bluer to speak. An apostle speaks for the Lord, EXCEPT when he says something wrong. Well duh! I'm glad he spoke up and his ignorant (and I meant that in the true definition of the word) remarks were a real live example of the member mindset. Rather a fitting way to show the contrast of how far you have come.

And I have to include my reply to Catherine:
Yeah, one of the death knells in my testimony was the whole claim about how priesthood leaders speak for the Lord, speak for the Lord, speak for the Lord UNTIL they make a mistake. And then we're supposed to forgive them because they're just human. How the hell are supposed to know the difference?! And they say pray about it and let the Spirit guide you, but then if the Spirit tells you something that conflicts with Church authorities, you've been deceived. AAAAUUUGGHHH!
And from Andrew on Why still use the word "God"?
I'm actually kind of glad the 'New Atheists' are (very slowly) getting away from their fixation on the 'god' word and instead starting to contribute something more meaningful... like actually trying to produce new information.
The real demon is the idea of authority -- ideas like inerrancy and unchanging, permanent truths.
The problem isn't having a god. The word isn't necessarily anthropomorphic and has lots of deep roots. Reality was very different in the ancient past. We've since changed how we see the world but we haven't necessarily updated all the old software, in a sense.
The real problem is thinking your god gives you the power of authority. 



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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly KtB: "Jesus in Space"

Killing the Buddha contributing editor Mary Valle tells the laugh-out-loud adventure of her quest to unravel the mystery: Why do the Mormons have Jesus in front of a space backdrop?

My favorite part: When Religion Dispatches correspondent Joanna Brooks divulges the clue: "Google Kolob." And don't miss the Osmonds making the Plan of Salvation rock!

I have one criticism though. Psst, Mary, the movie you're referring to is called Saturday's Warrior, not Saturday's Child.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: Kavita Ramdas: Radical women, embracing tradition

Especially timely, given recent discussion about Feminist Mormon Housewives. Can women work within oppressive cultures and actually use traditions to their advantage? Kavita Ramdas sees them doing it around the world. I appreciated her perspective that women don't have to be like Westerners to be feminists and this quote was insightful: "Feminism, unlike almost every other social movement, is not a struggle against a distinct oppressor... It's against a deeply held set of beliefs and assumptions that we women far too often hold ourselves."

Though I don't think it's our fault that we women tend to have these beliefs (culture and upbringing play a major role), I do think responsibility for changing these beliefs starts with us.


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Monday, April 18, 2011

Jane Goodall on The Daily Show

Since I mentioned her as planting one of my seeds of belief in a post yesterday, and since I also love Jon Stewart, I had to share this clip of Jane Goodall's appearance on The Daily Show.


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Seeds of Belief

Last week I shared a very brief overview of how I went from Mormonism to atheism. There was a period of seeking in between there, a period that has recommenced. Along the way, I've encountered sparks of recognition, moments that make me say, Yeah, that feels true.

For me, this kind of recognition feels more like being reminded of something I already knew, having that knowledge brought to the level of conscious thought. My most recent experience of this was while reading Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue. One reviewer dismisses it as "Vague New-Age Schlock." I tend to agree more with the reviewer who called it "like milk and honey for the soul." When I read it, something inside me said, "I've been parched, and this is what I wanted."

I value and respect what can be learned and proven in a lab, but I don't see any reason to set aside other ways of learning. There are people who have the opinion, "If you can't prove it in a lab, it isn't real/doesn't count." I'm more of the opinion, "If you can't prove it in a lab, you shouldn't presume it has implications for the world at large, and quite possibly not for anyone other than yourself."

So, after a time of honestly thinking that there really was not any god, I've reopened myself up to the possibility that there could be. Dismiss me as irrational if you wish. I'm fine with that. If you've met me or read much of my writing, you can deduce that I'm a fairly lucid person.  Here are a three sparks of recognition that are seeds that make me say, Yeah, maybe.

First seed, something Jennifer Fulwiler wrote. A friend posted a link to Fulwiler's blog on Facebook shortly after I had started this blog as a staunch, anti-religious atheist. She was raised as an atheist, and happily so, as she describes it, and ended up converting to Catholicism in her 20s. When I read that, I thought, What?! A lifelong atheist who became a Catholic? That's possible?! And I confess, I hated her blog when I first came across it. I glanced through her Most Popular sidebar, and my reaction at the time was, What's wrong with this woman?! And I'm not saying I agree with her on everything these days, but I've come to like a lot of her ideas, and especially to feel that spark of recognition in what she writes about God.

Her post "Suppressing the Soul" really resonated with me. She writes about visiting a cathedral in Mexico City while on vacation with her family as a teenager and being struck with awe at the place.
As with other times in my life I’d experienced great awe and wonder, something seemed horribly amiss. I had to consciously remind myself not to get too wrapped up in these feelings I was experiencing since, after all, they were nothing more than chemical reactions in my brain. I kept wanting to place more meaning on them than that, but would admonish myself not to be silly. Any sort of beauty or importance I ascribed to places like this were a product only of some neurons firing in my head, and nothing more.
My soul was crying out to be heard, but I suppressed it every time. “Where’s the proof?” I’d think. “Science has not shown that there is something mysterious about this cathedral or something other than evolved chemical reactions driving my feelings of love for my family,” I’d insist, blowing it all off as wishful superstitious thinking.
She writes that one of the things that kept her going when she wanted to give up on her spiritual journey was "the relief that hit me like a waterfall when I finally acknowledged my soul."

I can't say I believe in the soul in anything other than a metaphorical sense, and yet I recognize what she's saying. I've had those same awestruck moments, and I can believe that we evolved to feel those things (though I'm puzzled as to what the evolutionarily advantageous explanation would be) and that it's all neurons and chemicals, but I also think there's something more to it than that. I can't tell you why other than that it feels like that should be true.

Which brings me to the second seed. A poem by Mary Oliver entitled "Terns." Follow this link to read the full poem (it's also found in her New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2). My favorite lines are "Not through the weaponry of reason" and "What else could beauty be for?"

Third seed. A quote from Jane Goodall. Love this woman. In the introduction to her memoir Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey she writes about visiting the cathedral of Notre Dame, shortly after she lost her husband to cancer and was going through a crisis of faith herself. The sound of an organ playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor filled the space:
That moment, a suddenly captured moment of eternity, was perhaps the closest I have ever come to experiencing ecstasy, the ecstasy of the mystic. How could I believe it was the chance gyrations of bits of primeval dust that had led up to that moment in time--the cathedral soaring to the sky; the collective inspiration and faith of those who caused it to be built; the advent of Bach himself; the brain, his brain, that translated truth into music; and the mind that could as mine did then, comprehend the whole inexorable progress of evolution? Since I cannot believe that this was the result of chance, I had to admit anti-chance. And so I must believe in a guiding power in the universe--in other words, I must believe in God. 


Related Post: Jane Goodall on the Daily Show


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Revelation from R.E.M.

In early 2005, about eight months after I was re-baptized (see timeline), I began to seriously question the veracity of the Church for the first time. Excommunication hurt like hell, but that wasn't what destroyed my testimony. Many times during the two and a half years between excommunication and re-baptism, I had tried to bury my testimony, and convince myself that it wasn't true after all, so I could be at peace about turning my back and walking away. But I had "felt the Spirit," which I believed was confirmation from God about the truth of the Church.

Going back after being gone for a while was my first chance to look at my religion from an objective standpoint. I'd always had certain unanswered questions, but I'd always swept these under the "feeling the Spirit" rug. And when there are only a few discrepancies, you can do that, but it was getting to be an avalanche and I couldn't ignore it anymore. I tried writing as a way to reason it all out and make it make sense, but it just wasn't adding up. I remember the mixture of relief and horror as I began to consider that the worldview that I'd based my life on up to that point was an invention. But there's a whole society built around this, complex social structures. Volumes written about the theology and doctrine. How can it all just be made up?

I remember driving around Mesa, Arizona, where we lived at the time, playing the tape (yes, I own it on tape, which tells you a little about how long I've had it) of R.E.M.'s album "Fables of the Reconstruction." The world as I knew it was crashing down around me. This album was the soundtrack for my de-conversion, played it over and over whenever I was out driving. The song "Maps and Legends" stands out. The verses are mumbly and unintelligible, as is Michael Stipe's way, but the chorus: "Maybe these maps and legends have been misunderstood." An affirmation that it was okay to let these things go.

Still gets me.

Related post: The Rise and Fall of a Testimony


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Good god, I was an arrogant little $#@!

Going through a box of old stuff, I found a talk I gave in Primary when I was 10 years old on "The Artichles of Faith":

It is so disturbing how certain and smug I was about my church's superiority and how focused I was on converting anyone who would listen. At that age, I can only say I was a product of my environment.

Related Post: I hope you Have ben teeching the trooth.


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Comment of the Week, 4/15/2011

My favorite comment this week was from Cognitive Dissenter on Sunday's post An Accidental Atheist. She said:
Growing up I was taught that "atheist" was a dirty word used to describe really evil people. My, how things have changed. Although I often take issue with the use of labels, technically I suppose I am a "soft atheist." As a practical matter I believe the only honest answer is "I don't know." What a burden was lifted from my shoulders when I reached that level of self-honestly. If that makes me an atheist, whatever. I guess that's why it now seems a tad offensive when those guys wearing the white shirts and ties show up on the front porch. They don't know either ... but they have convinced themselves otherwise.


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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why still use the word "God"?

I love blog comments, and I love it even more when I get a comment that warrants more than just a quick reply. I got such a comment yesterday from Bret "Ginx" Alan. He wrote:
I advise against flimsy definitions of gods. I've heard arguments made by very intelligent people who want to redefine what gods are for one reason or another (Einstein comes to mind). The problem is... the universe isn't a god, nor are the basic underlying princples which govern the universe gods. The only thing which are gods are gods, and gods have a pretty clear definition in every religion (usually human-like, sometimes living in the sky or underground... that sort of thing). For all that you're changing the definition of gods, you might as well worship faeries and say "Well, they aren't those fairy tale faeries that flutter around gardens with wands."

I sometimes joke that my god is Truth and my religion is Justice, but I don't really see it as this. I merely use this as a metaphor to explain my philosophy. Maybe it's the English tutor in me, but I really can't stand it when people conflate words to be things they aren't. I know language is a living and changing construct, but are there no other words besides "god" for ideals or principles?

God just screams anthropomorphic being, and not only in Western culture. I assume you don't believe in such a thing. You believe in a more abstract view of what "gods" are. Except... as long as the word "god" is used, there will always be some kind of connection to the old. If I formed a new club, I wouldn't call it "The Nazis" and use the swastika as my symbol, then spend most of my time defending my use of it, claiming I'm going to redefine it.

I guess my actual question is... why is there such a lack of creativity among the spiritually non-religious who actually want religion, but lack one which represents them? By now, there has got to be enough people and the means (via the internet) to organize such a thing. I say this not because I want in or that I'm annoyed by what you're doing (I'm not, not that it should matter to you what I think), but because I think the religious landscape has become too homogenous for it's own good. Diversity is an important hallmark of a healthy society.
Great questions! A few thoughts.

I can't speak for all non-religious/semi-religious/non-literal theistic types. I have a couple of my own reasons for continuing to use the word "God."

First, I think it's too powerful of a word to let fundamentalists have a monopoly on it. There are many fundamentalists who can tell that something's foul in their religion but don't want to leave God behind. I think it's important for there to be a viable middle way between completely non-religious atheism and religious fundamentalism. Given the choice between the two, I'd unquestionably choose atheism, but I am among those for whom that just doesn't feel like a whole way to live.

Second, I'm not entirely sure I'm actually redefining anything as much as I'm coming to a fuller and more accurate understanding of something I've believed in all along. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, but most Hindus understand their various gods as representations of an Ultimate Reality, a Reality we have to attach faces and images to in order to try to understand it. When trying to explain or understand something complex, you start with something concrete and simple. Think of the drawings of atoms or cells in fourth grade science textbooks versus college textbooks.

The God I'm exploring is not an ideal or a principle. I honestly think there is Something and that the mythologies and rituals that have evolved in the world's religions are gateways to understanding that Something. A friend of mine put this beautifully recently: Religion is a bridge, not a destination. People get caught up in the bridge and think that's It; they stay on the bridge instead of crossing it to where it's intended to get you. I think the anthropomorphic images are something we've attached to something much bigger and more complex, something we can't yet fully define.

The most common flimsy-ish definition of God that I've heard is that God is Love. It seems to me that in many ways, love in its myriad manifestations (self-love, romantic love, parent-child love, friendship) is as complicated and mysterious as, say, string theory. Science has yet to unlock certain other mysteries, such as how exactly life began, and what is the nature of consciousness. I'm certainly not in favor of a "GodDidIt, case closed" approach to these questions, but in the end, I won't be surprised if science reveals answers about our day-to-day living that are similar to what our religions have told us.

Religions are as imperfect as anything else that is evolved. I had experiences of holiness and sacredness within the context of a religion as flawed as Mormonism. I think I was mistaken about the images and meanings to which I attributed these experiences, but I don't think I was mistaken about the holiness. I'm aware that those experiences probably have a lot to do with some sort of chemical reaction in my brain and body, but then I want to know, Why did we evolve to have and crave those experiences? Religious practice for me was a way to cultivate and harness those experiences as a means to more effective living and loving. That's what I'm seeking to regain.

As to why we non-literal types don't make our own religion, to some extent, that's what the Unitarian Universalists are doing. For me, they're not quite what I'm looking for because I prefer something not quite so generic. One time when I visited them, they sang the familiar Christian hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth," except the word "Lord" in the chorus had been changed to "Source of all, to thee we raise/ this our hymn of grateful praise." And then everyone is free to insert whatever they want in place of Source, whether it's an anthropomorphic god, or a higher self, or a mother goddess, or the universe. I love that kind of open-mindedness, but for me, something more specific feels more potent. I also think this Something that I'm seeking to engage with and understand has too many facets for any one god(dess) to be an adequate representation. One day I might want Jesus. Another day Artemis will be closer to what I'm looking for. Other times, I need look no further than the spark of the God that is within me, as Emerson describes it. I like to think of the religions of the world as a grand buffet with all sorts of choices available, but no obligation to take everything.

Starting my own religion is actually something that has crossed my mind. I don't know if I ever will, but I like to think that in some small way, my blog is a part of gathering like-minded people who want a middle way. Andrew at God Will Be God writes a lot in the same vein as I do. I'm grateful for him and others like him that I've met since I started blogging.

So I guess to sum up, I don't throw out the word "God" despite its anthropomorphic connotations because I think anthropomorphic gods are effective though imperfect bridges to something bigger.

Related Posts: Defining Spirituality
                       "Why do you still like religion when you don't believe in it?"


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I missed church because I got caught up in Killing the Buddha

I freaking love this website! This last Sunday morning, my boys were with their dad. I had a quiet morning to myself, having a little coffee, eating my steel cut oats and writing up a quick blog post, catching up on other people's blogs. Hopped over to Killing the Buddha, and the rest of the day was history.

They describe themselves in their Manifesto as "God for the godless," a place "for people who somehow want to be religious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good reasons are not and do not." Hallelujah!

Anyway, I love them so much, I think I'm gonna share an article every week (or try to anyway).

"Faithful Apostasy" by Daniel Silliman hit the nail on so many things that have been in my head recently. It's a criticism of a study done by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola of "Preachers Who Are Not Believers." I'm tempted to just copy and paste the whole article because I think it's so great, but I don't think that would be very Golden Rule-ish of me, so please head on over to KtB for the full article. It's worth your time.

In a nutshell, Silliman chastises Dennett and LaScola for dismissing the nuance in the way the participants in their study believe, and instead, just claiming that they just don't actually believe at all. He calls out the narrowness of the study's spectrum of what it's possible to believe about God and the arrogance of claiming to know what another person believes better than the person him/herself. A few excerpts:
[They] quote Karen Armstrong’s statement that, “God is not a being at all.” But instead of understanding that to mean God is more than a being among beings, or that God is Being itself, they take it as a veiled declaration of atheism. They react as if Armstrong is trying to disguise her true unbelief behind tricky language.
Dennett and LaScola are mono(a)theists: they claim to know exactly what God is and they call it hooey. For them God is ridiculous, and they insist on their simple definitions even if that means dismissing the accounts of more reasonable beliefs offered by those who hold them.
Even if all the theists are really mugs playing a mad game of absurdism and obscurantism, rationally engaging with them requires responding to the most sophisticated among them. Rejecting a mischaracterized God that isn’t worth taking seriously isn’t much of a feat.

I grew up with a very narrow, and frankly absurd, definition of what God was. I've rejected that definition, but I've come across many more ideas of what God could be, and I'm not done exploring that.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TED Talk Tuesday: John Lloyd inventories the invisible

I've actually featured this video before, but felt it was relevant to what's been on my mind lately. My favorite line: "I refuse to be drawn on the question of whether God exists until someone properly defines the terms."

"TED Talk Tuesday" is back by semi-popular demand!  ;-)  Enjoy!


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Accidental Atheist

The first time I said I was an atheist, it was an accident, really.

In August of 2009, my then-husband and I drove out to Washington state with our two little boys. To pass the time, my husband had bought an audiobook, The God Delusion. To provide a bit of context, here's a brief outline of my religious life up to that point:

Birth -- 2002:  Faithful Mormon

2002: Excommunicated for fornication (married the man I fornicated with)

2003: First attempt at returning to the Church
Lasted a few months, but in the end just didn't feel right
Tried a few unimpressive Protestant churches
Pregnancy with first child makes questions about God feel more urgent

2004:  Complications at birth and scary-as-hell emergency c-section that I take as a sign from God that he wants me to return to the One True Church. So I do with new determination to be humble and make it work, for the sake of my child. Cognitive dissonance increases to intolerable levels.

2005:  I leave the LDS Church for good, more or less set all religion aside for a while. 

2006 -- 2009:  Still have nagging feelings that there's gotta be something more to life than just what meets the eye. Dabble in a few more Protestant churches, discover ideas about the sacred feminine and feminist spirituality, really get into yoga and meditation during second pregnancy (2007-2008), become disenchanted with organized religion, determined to forge my own path, a lot of dabbling, no real consistency, nothing fully satisfying, a persistent unease and yearning for an unnameable Something.

"I've heard about this book, been wanting to read it for a while," my husband said. All my spiritual exploring and dabbling over the previous few years had been done solo. My husband completely lost all interest in any religion or spirituality when we left the Church. He started listening on headphones before I did and was enthusiastic. "I think you'd actually really like this," he said. 

I listened to bits and pieces of it throughout the trip and found I liked and agreed with most of what Dawkins had to say. When he described pantheism as a reverence for nature, the belief that God is all of nature and the universe, I thought, Yeah, that's exactly what I believe. (Not sure where I'd say my beliefs are these days, but that was a good description of where I was at the time.) Then he said that pantheism was merely sexed up atheism. So I figured I was at least leaning more toward the atheist side of things. (Though I now have a problem with lumping pantheists in with atheists. As a friend pointed out, "No one made Dawkins the Grand Pope of pantheism. Let the pantheists speak for themselves.")

When we got home, I listened to the rest of the book. So much of what he said resonated with conclusions I had already drawn myself: the danger of taking things too literally, basing policy and science on religious beliefs; denying evolution; the abusive nature of teaching kids to be afraid of God; the intrusiveness of imposing religious beliefs into other people's lives; the way atheists and non-religious people have been looked down upon, feared and marginalized. I could see clearly that not believing in God was a perfectly legitimate conclusion to come to and did not make one a demon.

I was listening to the book while washing dishes a few days after returning from our trip. The doorbell rang. I opened the door to a smiling man in a white shirt and tie. I would have thought he was a Mormon missionary except he was alone. "Good morning, ma'am! We're out in the neighborhood sharing a verse from the Bible with folks today."

"Oh, no thank you," I said.

"Oh, okay. Can I ask why?"

"We're atheists." He literally jumped off my front step. I couldn't help chuckling as I shut the door.

But I was troubled. The words out of my mouth were a surprise. I had not planned to say them.

And I winced a little to hear it.


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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Did you guys like "TED Talk Tuesday"?

Successful blogging is a lot of trial and error. A lot of this blog is solely for my personal benefit, but I do try to offer something valuable for readers as well, and balance between doin' what I want and considering what my readers want. I'm still working on getting back into a blogging rhythm after being offline for several months.

I'm considering bringing back TED Talk Tuesday. For newer readers, every Tuesday, I'd feature a video from TED that I found interesting along with a little commentary about it. Sometimes they were really popular and generated some good discussion, sometimes not.

You want 'em back? Would you rather just go over to TED and pick out your own videos to watch? Yea? Nay? Don't care?


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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feminists or not? Who has the right to take a label?

This post was inspired by Amy's post on whether the Feminist Mormon Housewives are really feminists, and then Cognitive Dissenter's post asserting that they most certainly are not.

I haven't stopped over there much recently, but I do find the blog interesting, even though sometimes reading can be like watching a train about the bear down on the car, and you're hoping the car is going to move out of the way before the train hits, but then it doesn't. They seem to be women who recognize the value of feminism and then try so hard to make it fit into an organization that doesn't even pretend to be anything but patriarchal. I feel like they're fighting a losing a battle, but part of me is still rooting for them. Because the LDS Church is not going to go away and I think it will be because of women like them that it will eventually (like in a century or two) evolve into something more equitable. I'm not going to be a part of it anymore, thank goodness, but other girls are still going to be born into that organization and I can only hope that they'll grow up with a little more mental breathing room than I had.

So many of the posts over there delineate everything that's harmful toward women and girls (and humans in general) about the Church, but then still conclude that, "Well, but since the Church is after all true, what can we do about it?" I can sympathize. The stronghold the Church can have over a person's psyche really is like an abusive relationship. Intellectual dissent can be grounds for excommunication, which is essentially being cut off from the presence of God in this life and eternal salvation in the next, being denied the privilege of being with your family in the eternities. For a woman who believes in those doctrines and who loves her husband and children, that's a completely understandable motivation to toe the line, in my view. 

Amy asks very legitimately, why spend so much energy countering the messages your daughters hear at church? Why not just not expose them to those messages anyway? I feel the same way. So many of the complain-y articles over there make me ask, "Well, why don't you leave? You can clearly see flaws in church culture and how the doctrine supports these flaws. How can you retain a testimony?" It truly baffles me, but for whatever reason, most of them are staying, and I really wish them luck for the sake of upcoming generations of girls born into the Church. The Church has changed a lot since its founding. It's always behind the curve when it comes to positive change (Blacks didn't get the priesthood till 1978? Hello?!), but it does change and will continue to do so. 

But are they "real" feminists? Amy says not, on the grounds that they're not "doing" feminism, but merely "bitching" feminism. The other commenters on her post definitely had interesting things to say. Cognitive Dissenter says definitely not. You must go over and check out her post because the accompanying comic was perfect. I'm torn. I feel like they're doing as much as they can in their circumstance, which is being under emotional blackmail if they step too far out of line. Bitching on a blog is about as far as they can go if they want to retain their membership, and therefore salvation.

Let's appeal to the entry on feminism:
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rightsof women equal to those of men.
sometimes initial capital letter an organized movementfor the attainment of such rights for women.
So belief in equality for women and/or an organized movement to attain that equality. How are we defining "equality"? I think all of the FMHers would say that they believe in equality for women, and indeed, the party line among even the highest ranking male priesthood authorities is that men and women are equal. But the equality they offer looks a hell of a lot like the "separate but equal" bullshit of the pre-Civil Rights American South. The women are designated their domain from which they are not to stray. Noticing this when I came back to the Church after being away for two years was one of the factors that led me to question:
I realized that the bishop or one of his councilors would often sit in on the women's Relief Society meeting, checking in and presiding, but knew that it would be unheard of for the Relief Society president to visit the men's Elder's Quorum meeting. Women were only allowed to preside over other women or children.
The priesthood always has the final say on interpreting doctrine or issuing judgments. So you can't preside or make any decisions of consequence unless you have a penis. And when only the people with penises have a say in whether something is equal, that doesn't strike me as equal.

I think the FMHers have flawed ideas about what constitutes equality, which I think are founded on flawed premises, but I don't presume to know better than they do what their path to happiness in this life should be. 

CD points out that taking a Women's Studies course at BYU doesn't make you a feminists. Incidentally, taking a women's studies course was one of the lynchpins in sealing the fate of my "testimony." It was six months after being re-baptized and trying desperately to fit myself back into this mold that I hadn't even realized was confining me. All my life, I'd been taught that feminists were evil, bitter, spiteful, men-hating women who spit on stay-at-home moms and have abortions for fun. Taking that class was like coming up for oxygen after having my head held under the ocean by some very heavy hands. Everything I learned in that class seemed so much more compassionate and sensible than anything I heard at church, not just about women, but about homosexuals and other marginalized groups as well. This was all stuff I had wanted to think and believe all along but was continually told I shouldn't. Ever since learning what feminism was about from feminists themselves, I've been proud to call myself a feminist.

And Mormonism in its current state, completely incompatible with feminism.


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