The God Who Weeps, River of Stars, Mirrors of the Unseen, and Project Conversion

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.

The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Terryl L. Givens

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.

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Wearing Pants

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.

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Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Guns, Germs & Steel, and Book of Mormon Girl

I have some absolutely wonderful books to review for you today.

The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith by Joanna Brooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and I love Joanna Brooks. I related to so much of what she said, from the evident nostalgia with which she recounted her childhood experience of growing up in the warm, safe certainty of the Mormon faith to the anguish of finding a “knot of contradictions” at the heart of her faith.

My struggles and doubts and questions about my faith have been somewhat different from hers, but my feelings are very similar, as is my tightrope walk to find a way to belong to the faith I love while dealing honestly with its sometimes troubling past (and present).

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A Mother There: Finding the Divine Feminine, Part 5

In a 1945 essay (“Is Theology Poetry?”), C.S. Lewis remarked, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” As one who embraced Christianity later in life, Lewis had a keen appreciation of how a new discovery of belief can throw a bright reflected glory on the world and everything in it.

The mind, which craves new connections of any kind, takes a special delight in those intellectual connections that carry an associated weight of affection. Who has not noted with pleasure the increased sweetness imparted to a beautiful place by the remembrance of a few precious moments shared there with one’s beloved? How much more, then, might we linger over a place, a picture, a happy turn of phrase that brought to mind some past or promised communion with the divine, assaulting our senses with a sudden tingle of the holy.

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Globetrotting, Mormon-style

One of the things almost sure to be heard in a Mormon testimony meeting after someone has traveled (whether it’s across the ocean or just to the next town over) is an expression of gratitude that “the Church is the same no matter where you go.” To a certain extent, it’s true. We all sing the same hymns, although every ward congregation seems to have its particular favorites. We all read the same scriptures. Sunday meetings follow the same general format, even if the meetings are in a different order.  Sunday School and other lesson manuals are standardized and translated into over a hundred languages, and on any given Sunday the whole worldwide Church is studying the same lesson (give or take a week or two depending on how organized the local Sunday School teacher happens to be).

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A Mother There: Finding the Divine Feminine, Part 4

– Note to subscribers: I accidentally published this when I was only halfway done (yes, my worst blogging nightmare). Please ignore the first post and read this one  –

Up till now, these posts have mostly concerned my own personal journey toward understanding and appreciating the female side of God (for background, see posts 12 and 3). I wanted to start out that way because many of my ideas and beliefs about Heavenly Mother have come through thinking about Her and seeking personal heavenly guidance. Much of this guidance has come through prayer and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Some of the most beautiful insights came  from my Patriarchal Blessing.

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A Mother There: Finding the Divine Feminine, Part 3

If you’re new to the conversation, you might want to read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

My next thoughts about Heavenly Mother have a lot to do with our conception of the afterlife, and how we will live there. Mormons have been described as having “the biggest heaven and the littlest hell.” One of the things I love about my faith is that it describes a God whose boundless mercy includes many people denied salvation by the tenets of some other faiths.

The Mormon idea of heaven is expansive, nuanced, and mind-bogglingly beautiful (in my opinion. Anyway, it tops my list of ideal future destinations). Among other things, it makes provision for groups sometimes relegated to heavenly disenfranchisement, such as people who have lived and died never even having heard of the Gospel, those of other faiths (non-Christians/non-Jehovah’s Witnesses/non-Muslims/etc.),  and unbaptized babies.

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A Mother There: Finding the Divine Feminine, Part 2

I hope all of you mothers had a lovely mother’s day. Before Church, my husband made me breakfast, and my kids gave me cute cards. At Church, I substitute-taught a class of a dozen rambunctious eleven-year-olds, and reflected that mothering my own two children is actually pretty easy by comparison. After Church, I had a nice videochat with my mom, and then Tony took the children to visit a lonely lady in the ward, and I laid out my blanket on the lawn and read The Secret Life of Bees. Lovely.

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A Mother There: Finding the Divine Feminine, Part 1

This is a post that has been germinating inside of me for a long, long time, and the week of Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect moment to let it flower.

As you may or may not know, the Mormon conception of God encompasses both a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. However, for whatever reason, we almost never talk about our Heavenly Mother.

The relative absence of my Heavenly Mother didn’t really bother me much growing up. In fact, when I thought of Her at all, I thought about Her as a sort of special, beautiful secret, and something I found aesthetically pleasing about my religion. To me, She was more of an idea than a real person; certainly She didn’t seem as “real” as God the Father or Jesus Christ, whom I heard about every week at church, and with whom I was encouraged to develop a personal relationship.

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When I Have Grown a Foot or Two

When I was ten years old, I became the second mommy to the cutest little baby in the world.

During the next several years, I mentored him through all sorts of worthwhile activities. For example, here I’ve dressed him up as a mad scientist for the homeschool science fair.

Despite the influence of his older sister, Jesse turned out pretty awesome. Part of me still thinks of him as the curly haired seven-year-old I kissed goodbye when I went to college. In the meantime, he’s grown up to be a handsome, witty, articulate college student who plays the guitar and leaves the ladies swooning on all sides.

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