During the past week, the Bloggernacle (a loose term for the Mormon blogosphere, and by extension, the online Mormon community in general) has been all abuzz about several new articles on the Church’s official website dealing with the topic of polygamy. Most Mormons have had the unpleasant experience of hastily explaining to intrigued or confrontational outsiders that polygamy happened a long time ago, and we don’t do it anymore, possibly followed by the assurance that the purpose of polygamy back then was to care for destitute widows and orphans.
Barely a day goes by when I don’t consciously think about how glad I am that we don’t attend the Mormon church anymore. Still, there are some things I miss. You can’t grow up in a faith without absorbing parts of it into your soul, and certainly into your memories and routines. This is the first time in my life that I haven’t tuned in to General Conference, the twice-yearly weekend where Mormons get together all over the world to listen to the words of the leaders of the Church, as spoken from Salt Lake City.
I was invited to blog this week at The Exponent, a Mormon blog focused on women’s issues. They’re currently in the midst of a two-week focus on international voices. So if you’re interested in similarities and differences between Mormon congregations in various countries, you might want to pop in and have a read. My article is here.
What do you think about the new theme? Since my blog is my home on the web, I like to rearrange the furniture once in a while. I hope you enjoy the clearer text, cleaner layout, and larger header photos. I only have a few up so far, but I’ll be adding more headers into the rotation–at least one for every place we’ve ever lived, and maybe one for every place we’ve ever visited.
In other news, the weather is hot, the kids are enjoying going to the pool several times a week, and we’ve decided to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Mormon church. I won’t bore you with all the details, since the story would take at least a dozen blog posts, if not a book, to convey. Suffice it to say that despite the many years and many hours we’ve invested in the Church over the course of our lives, it currently doesn’t feel like a place where we want to raise our children. I do want to say that we love our ward and everyone in it, and our decision to leave has nothing to do with any type of personal conflict.
I have another poem up at Times and Seasons, this time about Eve and the Fall. Literary Worship: Eve.
Here’s a rare thing–a secret about myself that I have not yet disclosed on this blog. I am a poet.
I fell in love with poetry as a little girl. I loved the images it made in my head, and the startling flashes of insight it gave me. But most of all, I loved the sound of the words in my mouth. Memorizing poetry became a habit, and a weapon against my recurring insomnia. I don’t know that I ever made it to the end of Paul Revere’s Ride without falling asleep.
At a used book sale once, my resourceful homeschooling parents picked up a copy of Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense. It’s a high school textbook, full of the minutiae the boring English teacher tries to cram into his students at the beginning of the movie Dead Poets’ Society. You know, all the facts and terms and analysis that are supposed to kill people’s love of literature. Only they didn’t kill mine. They woke it up. I could not get enough of synecdoche, dactyls, and onomatopoeia. I read and loved the poetry section of that book to death. I was fascinated not only by the poetry itself, but by all the elements that made it up–the nuances of sound and image and meaning that turned common words into art.
Yes, more book reviews! Here are a few incisive feminist retellings from the Bible, Arthurian legend, and the Age of Chivalry. As well as a funny and heart-wrenching memoir about being single in the Mormon Church.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The core of this book is one of those disturbing and troublesome stories in the Bible that we don’t tend to talk about much–like the time Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law got pregnant and he wanted to burn her alive, but then it turned out that he was the one who had impregnated her. Or the time Lot hospitably offered to give his virgin daughters to the mob of rapists outside his door. Or the time the nameless female actually is shoved outside to appease the mob of rapists, and ends up being raped to death and then dismembered.
Heavenly Mother is, of course, near and dear to my heart, so I was excited to hear about a new art and poetry contest being held in Her honor. From the contest’s webpage:
This contest celebrates the wondrous doctrine of the Restoration that we have a Heavenly Mother that oversees our spiritual development, in addition to a Heavenly Father. The first Relief Society President, Eliza R. Snow, famously penned in the LDS Hymn “O, My Father” the truth that we have “a mother there.” But while in heaven, it is important to remember that our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are yet present to us now. They bestow upon us their love, gifts, inspiration, and grace, to help us along our earthly journey. As Sister Chieko Okazaki noted, our Father and Mother shower us with love and mercy. And as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted, our “heavenly parents are reaching across… streams and mountains and deserts, anxious to hold [us] close.”
You know your life is boring when every other blog post is a book review. Fortunately, my literary life is wildly interesting, and I’m happy to share it with you. I usually reserve five-star ratings for practically perfect books, but sometimes I give them out to books I love, in spite of their flaws. Your mileage may vary, but if you feel the same, we might be long-lost kindred spirits.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The God Who Weeps tops the list of my favorite books about my faith. I found this both a thought-provoking and a faith-provoking book. Terryl and Fiona Givens have distilled some of the most powerful core doctrines of the Mormon faith into a slim volume brimming with hope, philosophy, and divine compassion.
About a month ago, I wore pants to church for the first time (trousers, that is, for my readers who speak British-inspired forms of English). In case you didn’t know, there’s a soft norm in the Mormon church for women to wear skirts or dresses to Sunday meetings. And in case you haven’t heard, there’s been quite a social media tempest during the past couple of weeks after a group of Mormon feminists asked LDS women to wear pants to church on Sunday, December 16 as a show of solidarity.