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.
I have some absolutely wonderful books to review for you today.
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).
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.
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).
– 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 1, 2 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today I have only awesome books to review for you.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a treasure of a book! This made it to our house because it is on the Ambleside Online Year 2 free reading list. I can’t think of a better way to introduce my seven-year-old to a bit of Chaucer. Maybe it’s just that I remember my own foray into chicken-keeping so fondly, but I was enchanted by this story of a proud, beautiful rooster who learns a lesson about trusting to flattery. The lovely illustrations really make the book. They are charming, evocative, and reminiscent of the art of the time period. I hope my children like it as much as I did.