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6/27/11

An example of the believers...

It should come as no surprise to long-term readers or friends that I struggle with my identity as a Mormon. I've written about things I no longer believe, things that frustrate me,  as well as the things that I love about Mormonism, despite how those things occasionally conflict (but sometimes interact quite beautifully,) with the things I love about other things: feminism, equality, how good a sincerely spoken "damn" feels in moments of annoyance...

I've shared these frustrations in a very public place, and since the very beginning, mixed in with praise and support, the same comment reappears: spoken by different people, but using almost the exact same words. Statements along the lines of " you are giving the Church a bad name," "what if a non-member wants to join the church, and on the day of her baptism, finds your blog and decides not to! Her salvation will be on your head!*" My favorite comment, from a person known only as "Julie"** came in response to my post on Mormon Douchebags-

"Not to be rude but I think that this was very unnecessary and uncalled for. Yes Bentley is an idiot, as are a lot of people out there. But you gave the LDS Church as bad of a name as he did."

I need to write this down so I stop forgetting it: if one starts out a mean comment by saying "Not to be rude," or "No offense," it is guaranteed to be rude. However, it is apparently seen as a socially acceptable way to be rude. Excellent resource for when I'm feeling nasty, but don't want to get kicked out of the Celestial Kingdom.

Either way, to many people, expressing questions, criticisms, or doubts about Mormonism,or a Mormon, means that  I am not acting as "An example of the believers." (Timothy 4:12.)

According to some, a true believer is someone who does not question, speak, or wonder out loud about things that do not seem right to them. Even if something seems wrong, a true believer does not do or say anything about it. A true believer pretends that all is right in the church "world," so that other people will believe the same thing they do. A Mormon can go on national television and treat others unkindly, but if another Mormon comments on it, her words, not his actions are what gives the church "a bad name."

But if we return to Timothy, the scriptures tell us something different: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

I've wondered often about the phrase "Let no man despise thy youth." Especially since it is separated by a semi-colon to the phrase "Be thou an example of the believers." The semi-colon suggests that the ideas are related, but can also stand as independent ideas. What does it mean to despise thy youth?

Looking back at my yearbooks, photos, and even some old journal entries, I can honestly say that moments exist where I "despise" my youth. Truthfully, there are moments from last month in which I despise my youth. I see the mistakes, the lapses in judgement, the stubborn devotion to ideals that no longer ring true.

But in my youth, and hopefully still, I yearned for something better. I believed in an innate potential inside me. Despite all my questions about the LDS church, I still very much believe that someday I can "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father  (and Mother,) which is in heaven is perfect."*** (Matthew 5:48)



The LDS church is also, a "young" church. Consisting of, and led by people still in the "youth" of our full potential. I hope that someday our church can perfectly mirror the gospel of Christ, but I do not think we are there yet. I am not there yet.

Thus Paul, speaking to Timothy, tells us we should not despise our youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

For me, being an example of the believers stems from being honest: in word and conversation, about the things we may "despise" about of youthful indiscretions as a church and a people. Not to despise ourselves, but our errors.

A true believer has charity, the ability to love those who disagree with us, or whose journey through the gospel differs from ours.

A true believer maintains the spirit and faith required to say the things which are difficult, in hopes to make us more pure.

It is true that I am sometimes not the most perfect example of the Believers. Sometimes I am too angry, hurt, or cynical to act in a manner of faith.

However, I am not always an example of the believers because I question, but because I fear the answers with the potential to change how I think.  Patricia T. Holland states "We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection." (“One Thing Needful: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ.” Ensign, October 1987)

 Sometimes I fear the imperfect: in myself, in my church, in the culture I find myself immersed in. It takes courage to be imperfect, but I do not believe the way to alleviate imperfection is to pretend it doesn't exist. The Emperor has no clothes, and pretending otherwise doesn't change it. It does, however, provide a very good recipe for Kool-Aid and Nike shoes.

So let no man despise thy youth, or my youth. After all, "It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are." (e.e. cummings.)






*Slight exaggeration.
** Truly anonymous Julie, not one of my many friends by the same name.
***Feminist addition mine, not King James'.

6/25/11

SLC Art Festival

Pros: Art

Cons: Humanity

Conclusion: Such a shame one cannot exist without the other.

6/24/11

assistance?

If anyone knows how to get the timestamp thing to show up on my blog, you should email me: mormonchildbride(at) gmail (dot) com.

Note: I already tried the basic edit settings stuff, but it still won't show up....

OR If you just hate my blog layout (I do!) and want to tinker with it to improve the general suckiness of it, that would be awesome too.

Otherwise, we are all doomed to mediocrity due to my laziness. Which is fine.

Update: fixed! Thanks, Annike


woot.

6/21/11

"this is the music I will die to"

Greetings, e-travelers.

Here is a list of things I have been thinking about as I am enjoying my summer of fununemployment.


1. Can we all agree to take a break from instagram? I'm starting to forget what the real world looks like. It doesn't look vintage? The sky doesn't look nuclear fallouty in real life? What do regular people look like? Just a break. We can resume normal activities after I remember what reality looks like.


2. My sister and I frequently buy candy together, since she shares my affinity for candy combinations that make normal people sick. Her combination of dark chocolate and knock-off sour patch kids from the dollar bin, and my black licorice coupled with Airheads caused our cashier  much concern. He told us to remember to brush our teeth, and that he no longer had an appetite. He wanted to know if we really eat it all simultaneously. We do.


3. My title today is from the out-takes of tonight's Bachelorette episode. After we are done taking breaks from instagram, can we all acknowledge that the out-takes are always much better than the actual show? Let us cut all the fake drama and strange dates and just watch a bunch of fame whores muck around the house of 6 weeks.  Or lock Bentley and Michelle M. in a porta potty together. You are welcome for the idea, Chris Harrison.

4. I think this is the first post I have ever written where I have said nothing offensive or remotely controversial. It feels boring. I'd feel bad about this, but it must mean I am enjoying my summer.

Fear not, pilgrims, I'm sure something will enrage me shortly.

6/10/11

in the family of things

Wow. Lots of people have thoughts on Bentley, Mormon Douches, and the women who love them.

While it is sort of exciting to get lots of comments, it is also sort of intimidating. What do I say now? I feel like the wedding guest who chimed her glass at the reception, ready to give a speech, only to discover she has nothing more to say.

Or, as wife-beater-wearing commenter raysugarray so aptly stated: "I can't wait for all of this Bentley hype to dissipate so that this pathetic blog will go back to the depths of anonymity where it belongs."

Me too, ray, me too.

Then I realized that my career has already prepared me for this moment. Whenever I want to ensure that 90% of my students will stop listening to me, I bust out the poetry. And not the fun, rhyming, full of blood and guts and bleeding roses and angst poetry. (Teens love them some angst and bleeding roses.) Instead, I bring out the Creative-Writing major, hippie, in tune with your inner tree-hugger, poetry. Even better if said poem has no concrete point. I'm hoping that if I do the same thing on my blog as I occasionally do in my classroom, 90% of you (especially the trolls,) will stop listening. After all, to quote an oft used Bachelorette line, some of you (again, trolls) aren't here "for the right reasons."

I've been thinking about this poem  a lot this past year, and especially towards the end of the school year, what with all the Graduation speech tryouts, and the school board telling students to PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE and FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS. I think it especially applies to my honors students, who have been overachieving for so long that the world must seem like one big AP Calculus exam. Plus, I just really like Mary Oliver.

So, without further ado:

Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Even if you aren't a hippie English teacher, don't you find the idea fascinating?

You do not have to be good.

I keep reminding myself of this every time a lesson plan flops, every time someone logs on to tell me about what a bad Mormon/person/feminist/woman I am, every time I find myself tempted to walk on my knees, repenting for having an opinion that someone else doesn't like. I do not have to be good. My body loves what it loves, and I have a place in the family of things.





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