Friday, December 25, 2009

Eliza R. Snow Believed in Santa Claus

Remember your time-honor'd laws,
Kind master of the merry glee:
Prepare your gifts, good Santa Claus,
And hang them on the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Poetry While Waiting in the Car

poetry while waiting in the car

and drumming your fingers on the steering wheel
because you are waiting for your son
or daughter
or you are afraid to go in to the hospital
or you are dropping off a friend

Like a Virgin

Originally posted at Mormon Matters, this post is a response to Aaron Shafovaloff over at Mormon Coffee. If you go to enjoy the lights on Temple Square, you are likely to see him striking up gospel conversations.
From viewing Aaron’s video of himself witnessing at Temple Square I’m getting the feeling that he wants us to believe that if something is miraculous, it has to be completely incomprehensible. But he doesn’t realize that concept doesn’t appeal to us. Mormons are likely to say that God does not defy law, but he works through physical laws, a fundamental principle of the universe. This in no way impedes our awe or sense of the wonder of Christmastime or the birth of the Savior.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Implants and the SunMaid Raisin Girl

You all know I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person, so I surprise myself sometimes with my visceral reaction against breast implants, liposuction, facelifts, and other types of elective surgery. It's not only that I don't think they're safe, or that their cost could feed a small village for a year, or even the standard feminist argument against them. There might be a teeny bit of "you-didn't-earn-that-body-by-slaving-away-in-a-hot-gym" to it all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making A Little Scripture

I read this quote today, and it made me laugh, it was so Brigham Young-ish. But it also brought up some questions, as reading the words of early prophets tends to do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evening Speculations

Tonight I read Ty Mansfield's post at North Star about his hopes for more dialogue between Mormon leadership and the GLBT community. Although I agree with him that rhetoric has softened, I must say that I don't see much of a change at all in terms of doctrine. Some say that the Church has shifted from implying that homosexuality is a sin to saying that acting on same-sex attraction is the problem. I don't know that that is the case.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Where The Wild Mormons Are

This was cross-posted over at Mormon Matters.

I took my 10-year-old and 2 friends to see the movie "Where the Wild Things Are," and I watched enthralled as they yawned, ate candy, threw popcorn, and cheered when it was finally over. Apparently the film didn't contain the action required to capture their attention. But I found much to ponder and enjoy.

"I have only one subject. The question I am obsessed with is: How do children survive?" --Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The prisoners shall go free--
I take their names
And pin them to my wrist.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shlomo: A Key to Peace

This post was cross-posted at Mormon Matters.

In today's economy, you have to be really sharp to stand out over all those other applicants competing for the job you want. For example, I've heard that the following was a question used as part of a job application, designed to test good judgment:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ardi and the Rise of Mormon Symbology

This post was cross-posted at Mormon Matters.

With the advance of science and the study of more and more artifacts such as Ardipithecus ramidus, believing Mormons are faced with a challenge which becomes stronger with each discovery.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nuclear Disarmament Meets Mormon Patriotism

This was cross-posted on Mormon Matters.
Lately more and more Church members have begun to wonder why the Church is so supportive of the United States military. We've experienced a long tradition of this, beginning with the Mormon Battalion in 1846. When the U.S. Army requested 500 men to join the service in the conflict with Mexico, Brigham Young responded positively despite the fact that our people were in the middle of a forced exodus from the country. This story is proudly retold in our Church lessons and manuals, making it a seminal moment in the formation of our military philosophy. Isolation in the West kept members physically separated from the conflict of the Civil War. But by the time of World War I, Mormons had become involved in the military machine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LDS Grass-Roots Interpretations of the Eve Archetype

This was cross-posted at Mormon Matters.

Since Eve is one of the most powerful archetypes for women, it's not surprising that this story is at the root of many discussions of womanhood. Feminists have generally been dissatisfied with how the biblical Eve story has affected values and attitudes toward women over the centuries. Early exegesis of the creation story became the rationale for rules and regulations guiding women's behavior.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Sesame Street Approach to Primary

originally posted at Mormon Matters

The children's television series Sesame Street premiered November 10, 1969. I was just turning 10 years old, so I didn't watch it very much as a child. But in the mid-1980's, with several preschoolers, the show became a staple in our home. Wikipedia describes the program as follows:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mormon Mysticism and the Tarot

Andrew’s previous post on the Book of Abraham got me thinking about Mormon mysticism and how it has been de-emphasized in the modern Church. In a way I hate to see the status of the Book of Abraham lowered among mainstream Church members because it is the last bastion of Joseph Smith’s mystical bent. Mysticism as it exists in the Church today is interesting. There is still a place where the Three Nephites, the planet Kolob, temple ties to Masonry, numerology and such are discussed, but these things are treated more as folklore and legend than essential components of our faith.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Isle of Misfit Toys

Every year when I go to the Sunstone Symposium, I feel like I am going to the Isle of Misfit Toys.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Why I Took the Facebook "What Kind of Boobs Do You Have?" Quiz

Originally posted at Feminist Mormon Housewives.

On Sunday I was checking my facebook and noticed that a friend had taken the "What Kind of Boobs Do You Have?" quiz. Her result was: "your boobs are juicylicious, any guy would love to burst open your Hawian punch." Now you may wonder why, self-proclaimed feminist that I am, I didn't immediately dismiss such immature and patently mysogynist (not to mention misspelled) drivel and turn my attention to the health care crisis, or even read an article an article in Newsweek or a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Oh no! Instead, I started to wonder what kind of boobs I had.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

FLDS Leader Explains UEP Trust Issues

Please, please listen to this link. KRCL Radio allows Willie Jessop and attorney Rod Parker to tell their side of the story of the FLDS UEP Trust. Learn how the Trust was started, who has contributed, the FLDS position on the Lost Boys.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Outsider's Look at the United Effort Plan

This was originally posted at Mormon Matters.

What is happening to the financial affairs of the FLDS right now seems completely inexplicable, but I need to try to understand what is going on. And it seems to me to behoove every citizen of the United States to do the same.

This is going to be a vastly simplified version of events, as I understand them:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Must Push, and Some Must Pull

Since I didn't get my Pioneer Day fix in Sacrament Meeting this year, you'll have to indulge me as I commemorate the violently beautiful journey taken by a misunderstood and tragic people in 1847 through the 1870's. I tend to internalize the lessons that Pioneer Day teaches in a way that is truly amazing. The Mormon Pioneers are deeply symbolic to me and their stories resonate with some longing deep inside my soul. Here's a new one for me, told by Lydia Ann Lake Nelson. She crossed the plains with her family in 1850, when she was 18 years old:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter, The Supernatural, and Modern Mormonism

I've got a bunch of excited kids around tonight, wearing their homemade stenciled "HP" shirts and getting ready to go to the midnight showing of Harry Potter. And it's got me thinking about the role of fantasy and the magic world view in the lives of Mormons.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Church Doctrine is Like the Bloggernacle

Bloggernacle aficionados have been trying to define our little corner of the internet for years now. Everyone has a vague idea of what the term encompasses, and some stand ready to provide a concise definition, but it somehow resists pinning down. In this way, the bloggernacle is quite like Mormon doctrine* itself.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Symonds Rider and a Crisis of Faith

On Wednesday, John Hamer at BCC put up a post about the Thomas B. Marsh strippings of milk story. This is one with which most members of the Church are familiar, as it is often used to illustrate the folly of apostatizing from the Church over a trifle. John cautions:

"Thus, while the moral the Thomas B. Marsh fable, i.e., that faith can be shattered over something inconsequential, is true enough, it would probably make sense to tell a different, more appropriate fable to illustrate that moral."

There is a different fable oft told in the Church to illustrate that moral--but I would like to show that its use is just as inappropriate, and perhaps the moral itself should be reexamined.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ and Intimations of Mortality

I heard the news of Michael Jackson's death amid the screaming of fans -- but not the type to which he was accustomed. I was one of a group of parents, all about MJ's age, cheering for our teens and tweenies at a swim meet. Michael's death took the breath out of us, reminding us of our own mortality as well as the angst of growing older.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dear John

The table where I grew up
eating breakfast and lunch and Thanksgiving dinner
was always large enough
for one more.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Black, White, and Gray; and D&C 76

This week I had an interesting conversation with my RS President on Black and White and shades of Grayness in Mormonism. She describes herself as a person who sees the world in terms of Black and White, Right and Wrong; with very few gray areas to navigate. I, with my blessing and cursing to see every paradigm, encounter gray just about everywhere I look.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why We Need a Sotomayor in the General Relief Society Presidency

United States citizens have lately been regaled with the tale of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina from the South Bronx who got diabetes at age 8, lost her father at 9, and fought her way to Princeton with the encouragement of her strong-willed mother. Her future influence on the Supreme Court remains to be seen. But President Obama believes that Sotomayor's qualities and qualifications will add empathy to the judicial philosophy of the nation's highest court. She has "a common touch and a sense of compassion, an understanding of how the world works and how ordinary people live," he said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Welcome to the Controversy

Today I planned to introduce a new endeavor. But DH has already written about it, and so I'm taking the lazy way out, and just quoting him:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Why I would like to have lunch with Amy Brown Lyman

Amy Brown Lyman has intrigued me for many years, and I would love to be able to talk to her over lunch and discover more about her mysterious and tragic life. She died less than a month after I was born, and it seems that many of her secrets died with her.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taking "Crazy Ned Tullidge" Seriously

In a Winter 2000 Dialogue article, Claudia Bushman sings the praises of Mormon historian and writer Edward W. Tullidge, calling him mercurial, quixotic, self-destructive, emotionally and mentally unstable; but noting his writing accomplishments despite his difficulties. Such a description could be calculated to capture my attention! "I want to take him seriously," Claudia avers, explaining:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Apostolic Authority of the Nineteenth Century Mormon Woman

This was originally posted at the Juvenile Instructor.

I've been enthralled by the portrait of Mormon women painted by Edward W. Tullidge in his 1877 book The Women of Mormondom. He called them women of a new age, of new types of character, religious empire-founders, and even bestowed upon Mormon women the title "apostles." Of course, the term "apostle" when associated with the female sex was not, in the late 1800's, fraught with as much tension as it is today. Yet I was still interested to investigate the impulse which led Tullidge to employ this word when speaking of our nineteenth-century sisters.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emma Smith's Blessing to Herself

You may have heard the story of Emma Smith desiring a blessing from the hands of her husband Joseph shortly before he was taken to jail at Carthage. Because time and opportunity did not permit, Joseph suggested that Emma write the best blessing that she could, and that he would sign it on his return. Joseph was killed on June 27, 1844, and never signed Emma's blessing. But still extant are the words of the blessing Emma wrote.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Sonnets

On April 20, 1609, a publisher called Thomas Thorpe entered in the Stationers' Register his right to publish “a booke called Shakespeares sonnettes”. The Shakespearean sonnet is one of my favorite forms of poetry with its rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. In honor of the day I am sharing one of my original sonnets with you. It's inspired by my sojourn in Saudi Arabia and my impending 50th birthday! I invite you to write a sonnet of your own or share one of your favorites below in the comments!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Like Wheat Arising Green

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus is our Temple Recommend

In my opinion, the best pithy quotation from Conference weekend came from Aaron Shafovaloff over at Mormon Coffee on his Liveblogging General Conference. In a conversation during Elder Eyring's talk, Aaron pointed out that introducing prerequisite merit and worthiness into the question of how to receive eternal life and forgiveness and sanctifying help removes a vital layer of grace. He then declared,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New and Everlasting Covenant: Elder Christofferson

General Conference, Saturday morning. In a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson the everlasting covenant was mentioned, and I wondered what you all thought about this topic.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Effect of Love

Why? "Because with all of the s*** in the world today we are curious to see whether Love can still conquer all."

Friday, April 3, 2009

FLDS Keeping Sweet a Year Later

In commemoration of the first anniversary of the raid on the YFZ Ranch, FLDS members invited friends and supporters to attend a gathering at Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas earlier today. They rented the fort for the afternoon as a remembrance of the difficulties they experienced last year when the children were forcibly removed. One of the first places the mothers and children were taken was Fort Concho, a National Historic Landmark and museum, spreading over about forty acres and including seventeen restored buildings. FLDS members described the buildings as "stables," and said they felt like they were in a concentration camp setting there.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mormonism and Personal Construct Theory

German philosopher Hans Vaihinger developed a system of thought which has had a profound effect upon me lately. He explained that our thoughts and constructions about God and the universe are best viewed as useful hypotheses rather than representations of objective reality.

Friday, March 20, 2009


While the romantic in me longs to be loved unconditionally by those in my life, both family and friends, I realize that it is almost impossible for humans to reach this ideal. They may aspire to love this way, but when their loved one lies to them, or hurts them, or when there are physical changes, or any one of a myriad of other circumstances occurs, love can weaken or vanish.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blogging and The Transformative Power of the Written Word

An article in the Biblical Archaeology Review recently touted the power of the written word in ancient times, citing blessing and cursing inscriptions which became infused with divine energy, giving "material reality to one’s innermost thoughts and even the soul itself."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Human Love and Sexuality in Stephenie Meyer's "The Host"

My regular readers will certainly not be surprised that the theme that most interested me in Stephenie Meyer's novel "The Host" was its treatment of human love.

The story begins when the alien life form "Wanderer" is placed into the body of human female Melanie Stryder. Melanie continues to maintain her human awareness while Wanderer controls the body (and narrates the tale). Wanderer can feel the physical attraction that Melanie's body maintains for Jared, Mel's partner. At the same time, another human male, Ian, falls in love with Wanderer, the alien being inside Melanie's body.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turning 50 with Barbie

(BiV's contribution to International Women's Day)

Today I realized for the first time that I would be turning 50 this year with Mattel's Barbie, who was launched March 9th at the 1959 New York Toy Fair. I haven't yet embraced this milestone (I have until November to come to terms with it), but then, neither has she.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Imaginary Friends

I'm always wondering--are online friends real or imaginary?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bounding out of the Wilderness

My mind has been captured by a phrase attributed to Joseph Smith in at least two of his sermons--that of John the Baptist "bounding out of the wilderness" to preach the gospel of repentance.

On the 23rd of July 1843, in Nauvoo, a sermon was delivered by Joseph Smith to the assembled Saints. At least 5 different men mentioned or took notes on this talk. In the James Burgess Notebook we have this description of John the Baptist:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Walking Forward in that Light

When I am depressed I tend to invest every little thing that I encounter with an exaggerated, symbolic meaning relating to myself. You know how this works, any of you? Trees, with their scant winter limbs reaching out to the sky represent your bare naked soul thrust up to the iron-gray heaven of an unresponsive God. Or you will be eating almonds and, holding one in your salty fingers, you contemplate the hardness and brittleness you have been manifesting to your children.