Friday, December 24, 2010

Gold, Francincense, and Myrrh

And when [the wise men] were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11
Just as the wise men gave gifts to the Christ child, we too should give our Savior gifts. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were all valuable treasures at the time, and what we give should equally be valuable.

Gold - Even today, gold is used as currency. We should give our wealth to God. One of my favorite scriptures is in Matthew 25 when Christ reminds us that when we feed and clothe the poor, we feed and clothe Him.

Frankincense - Frankincense is used as an incense. Incense represents our prayers. As we pray, we should remember that we can pour out our hearts to God.

Myrrh - Myrrh was used in Egyptian funeral practices. With death comes sadness. Christ invites us to drop our burdens at His feet so that He may bear our sorrows.

So, this Christmas, I'm going to give Christ my gold, my frankincense, and my myrrh. I will do this by helping the poor, pouring my heart out to Him, and dropping my burden at His feet.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What do you want to read?

From checking my stats, it appears that the posts I like the best and the posts that people are more interested in reading/commenting on are not the same.

When I started this blog, I had two purposes. The first was to add my voice to the Bloggernacle by blogging about my take on LDS issues, both doctrinal and cultural. The second was to have a place to work through all the law school drama I was having at the time. I'm still in law school, but the drama has passed.

So, what do you want to read about? I enjoy the doctrinal posts, though they're more work to produce than the cultural or law school posts. I don't think I'm going to eliminate any category, since they're all a part of my life, but I do want to produce content that people are interested in reading.

I have a few ideas for posts that I'm going to float around to see what kind of interest they generate:
  • I'm thinking of doing a series on the 10 commandments and how to apply them in modern life.
  • I'm also thinking of a series of posts on the articles of faith.
  • Next semester in school, I'm taking a class on Islamic Law. That might provide me with some bloggable material, though I won't know that for sure until a few weeks into the class.

Any thoughts? Are there topics you would like to hear my take on that I haven't mentioned?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Eternal Implications of the Male/Female Imbalance in the Church

I've been thinking about the male/female imbalance in the church and what that means for the hereafter. People have pointed to the fact that there are more active women in the church than active men, and they extrapolate that to the Celestial Kingdom, and then posit that there will be widespread polygyny as a result. There's a great post at BCC breaking down population statistics over time. The conclusion is that based on historical infant mortality rates, there will be considerably more men than women in the celestial kingdom.

Given those numbers, there are a few possibilities:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Comments, Spam and Otherwise

I love comments. They're validation that someone is reading what I write. Plus, they help spark discussion. I operate from a philosophy of free and open discussion. The only comments I'll delete are ones that are obviously spam or are egregiously uncivil. In the nearly four years I've had this blog, I've only deleted a handful of comments, all spam. I keep moderation on for older posts to avoid hit and run spam attacks, but sometimes they happen anyway.

Unfortunately, Blogger has just ramped up their spam filter, and some legitimate comments are getting caught. I've let them all out now. I'm telling you this because if your comment gets caught, it's not my intention to keep it from seeing the light of day.

I don't check my blog every day and I don't check the e-mail I use for this blog every day. There may be waits between when I can clear out my filter. Please bear with me while I work out the bugs.

While I'm on the subject of comments, I've decided that it's time for a comment policy. This is not a reaction to anything. My blog started out in an obscure little corner of the internet and has now been noticed by the Bloggernacle. I'm getting more traffic, and I would rather have my policy in place before I need it.

So, here's the comment policy:
1. Comments are welcome. In fact, I love them.
2. No profanity. I may excuse some coarse language in an otherwise insightful comment, but I have no tolerance for the f-word. Any comment containing that word will be deleted even if the rest of it is brilliant. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to edit comments, only delete them.
3. You are free to disagree with me or with other commenters, but no personal attacks. Saying "Poster X is wrong about issue Y because..." is fine. Saying "Poster X is stupid/apostate/going to hell/etc." is not fine.
4. I try to respond to commenters, but sometimes that's not possible due to whatever else is going on in life. Please don't take it personally; I'm not ignoring you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More on Dating/Marriage

SilverRain has an excellent post on her blog. It's entitled Singles of a Certain Age, or What I Wish Church Leadership Would Understand. She discusses the challenges that singles in the church face and the issues involved in singles' activities. She makes the excellent point that we want to be viewed as whole people and not as fundamentally broken due to our marital state. I want to give the whole post a hearty amen!

Other great singles-related blog posts:
I wrote a post about retention of YSAs in the church and a post on the ethics of dating.
Seraphine at Zelophehad's Daughters has a series of posts about being a 30-something single in the church.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Little Housekeeping - Updated

I've had this blog for nearly four years now, so it's time for me to do some housekeeping. I'm going to tag my posts to create categories. That way, if people want to read about a certain topic, it will be easier to find related posts. I'm also going to redesign my background.

The upshot is that when I go back to edit old posts to add tags, the blogging software sometimes thinks it's a new post. So, for those of you that subscribe by Google Reader or RSS, you may get a deluge of new old posts. Sorry about that!

Update: I'm finished with the tagging and re-design. Any feedback would be appreciated. Is the blog too wide? I have a widescreen monitor, so it looks great to me, but if it's too wide for people with normal monitors, I can narrow it.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

I've been thinking a lot about prophets lately. The belief that God continues to speak to humankind through prophets just as He did in old times is one of the beliefs that sets Latter-day Saints apart from the rest of Christianity.

When I was on my mission (in Charlotte, North Carolina), the first lesson we always taught was about how God has called prophets since the beginning of time to preach His word. We would explain that God would call a prophet to preach, the people would listen and repent, and after a while (sometimes a short time, sometimes several generations), the people would fall away. Time would pass and then God would call a new prophet. This cycle has repeated throughout human history.

Generally, this portion of the message was well-received as I went through a list of Old Testament prophets. Once I hit New Testament times, people were less convinced. By the time I explained that God still calls prophets today, few people believed what I was telling them. They said that after Jesus came, prophets were no longer necessary.

It always struck me as completely logical that since God spoke to His people in ancient times that He would speak to people today, too. That logic has led me down some interesting thought paths lately.

The church teaches of the great apostasy - the period of time from after the death of the apostles in approximately 100 AD until Joseph Smith was called as a prophet in 1820. (Technically, I think starting the apostasy at 400 AD is more accurate, since Moroni was still around until then.) With God's pattern of constantly calling prophets, why did He wait nearly 1400 years before calling another one?

Maybe He didn't. In that gap between Moroni and Joseph Smith, a lot of people lived. What if God called prophets in that time? There's precedent for people rejecting the messages of prophets, so maybe people just didn't accept what they were hearing. There's also precedent for people accepting the message but then the message getting corrupted in transmission. [1] When the whole course of human history is revealed, it would not surprise me in the slightest to find that there were failed attempts at restoring the gospel before 1820.

[1] Most of the New Testament is directed at this very problem. Paul wrote many letters trying to correct the errors that were creeping into the church.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ye Visited Me Not

The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.
Søren Kierkegaard

This quote has been on my mind a lot lately as I've come to understand that being a follower of Christ requires a lot. He gave His all for us, and we must give our all for Him. Turning the other cheek is hard. Loving those who harm people is a huge challenge.

Lately, I've been trying to focus on the knowledge that everyone I meet is created in the image of God. One scripture that I keep in the forefront of my mind is in the book of Matthew, chapter 25. I normally focus on verses 31-40. Christ is prophesying His second coming, and He starts out by saying that when He returns, He will divide his followers from those who do not follow Him. His followers are welcomed into His presence because when they cared for the sick and the poor, they were caring for Him. However, I was stung by the rebuke contained in the verses that followed.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . . . I was . . . in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee . . . in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Matthew 25:41-45 (emphasis added)

I've never had a problem with feeding and clothing the poor or visiting the sick and lonely. But I have been negligent in the command to visit those in prison. I always considered those in prison to be somebody else's problem. Out of sight, out of mind, plus, they deserve to be there - they're criminals.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Follow-up On My Most Recent Post

I wrote a post on LDS dating, and I received a comment from Kress that deserves its own post. He said
What was wrong with so-and-so that "nice" just wasn't enough to keep your interest? What would change your perspective from "oh gosh why would I ever spend more time with so-and-so" to "well, he's a nice chap; why don't we do something different next time and see if I find him more interesting in a different setting?"
First off, I left out several key details of why the particular men I was set up with were bad matches. I left out these details in the interest of protecting their privacy. I'm certainly not one to write somebody off just because there were no sparks flying with violins in the background on the first date. In fact, some of my most successful relationships have been with men who didn't sweep me off my feet instantly.

What makes the dates with these "nice" guys awkward is the expectation (culturally) that there's only one purpose to the encounter - a marriage interview, and that it has to happen on the accelerated LDS schedule. (You know, the stories about people meeting and then marrying within a few months.) When I express a sincere desire to be friends with these men, they assume that means that I never want to see them again. Really, what it means is that I want to be their friend. Maybe something more will happen, but maybe not. Either way, when I tell a man that I want to be friends, it's not a brush off. It means I really want to be friends.

Stephen M at Ethesis addresses much better what I was trying to get at with my fungibility comment in his post On Finding a Match.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ethics and Dating in the LDS Context

I minored in philosophy in college, and I was captivated by the study of ethics. Bioethics, legal ethics, business ethics, it didn't matter. I found it all fascinating. In fact, while I was on hiatus from law school, I almost decided to abandon a legal career altogether to become a bioethicist.

I recently read a blog post by Hugo Schwyzer discussing whether or not the "pick-up artist" phenomenon is compatible with feminism. This led me to thinking about dating ethics in general and within the LDS context specifically.

In the church, there are some specific issues surrounding dating that are different from the community as a whole. The biggest one is the doctrine of eternal marriage. The fact that we believe that families can be together forever isn't what sets us apart. The big difference is the belief that (heterosexual) marriage is necessary for exaltation.

This belief imbues relations between men and women with a certain degree of sexual tension. Instead of seeing members of the opposite sex as colleagues, friends, or acquaintances, there is a temptation only to see them as potential mates - potential tickets to the highest degree of Celestial glory.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No More Strangers

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
~Ephesians 2:19

Last week, I went to a J. Reuben Clark Society dinner. (I hate networking, but it's the only way to get a job, and since I'm the vice president of the student chapter, I kind of have to go to these sorts of things.) It was at the end of a really long day and I had a migraine, so I really really didn't want to be there. I'm so glad I went, though.

The guest of honor was Judge Thomas Griffith, a judge on the D.C. Circuit. After dinner, he gave a few remarks. I figured he would talk about what it's like to be a judge and give some friendly advice to the 50 or so law students present.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How I Receive Personal Revelation

An anonymous commenter on my post Stake Conference and Personal Revelation said:
I was struck by the clear and very specific nature of the personal revelation you received last september regarding marriage. If it is not too personal, or difficult to describe, could you please relate the process of this revelation? Was it a voice, a warm feeling after a specific question or just what? I would sincerely appreciate your input...I don't think I have ever been able to distinguish between emotions, hopes, fears and the spirit.
I promised a follow-up post to respond to this question, and I'm only just getting around to it. I'm so sorry it took me so long. I hope you see this, Anonymous.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Abraham, Isaac, and Me

It's often said in the church that we will all have to endure a test of our faith like Abraham's. I'm going to set aside for a moment the discussion on whether or not that is hyperbole. It got me thinking. I've always had concerns with the story of Abraham and Isaac. What kind of God would ask someone to sacrifice his child?

Then I realized that in a very real way, God has asked that of me as well. I'm unmarried and I have no children. This is not because I desire a single and childless life. It is because, despite my pleadings, God wants me to be single right now. He asked me to sacrifice family life when He called me on a mission. He asked me to postpone childbearing for a few more years when he called me into academia. I'm itinerant right now because of the nature of my vocation, and that rootlessness is not conducive to family life. There's a common saying among female professors that the time between tenure and menopause is the only time the system allows for pregnancy.

I've never desired to be a stay at home parent, but I do want to have children. God has promised me children, but He has guided my life in such a manner that children cannot be a part of the plan right now. With each passing year that that is the case, the number of children I can bear drops. I'm old enough now that absent medical intervention, I likely will not have as many kids as I want.

God stopped Abraham from completing the sacrifice. In the end, he did not have to give up his child. That made me realize that God will do the same for me. I don't know if that means I'll get tenure expeditiously, if I'll have a longer period of fertility, or if I'll have the opportunity to adopt. All I know is that if I stay faithful, God will allow me the academic career He has called me to, and that I won't have to give up my children.

Note: This post is not the place for the "mommy wars". Any comments vilifying stay at home parents, working parents, or non-parents for the paths God has called them to and the life choices those callings necessitate will be deleted. Keep it civil.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Paper or Plastic?

Some wards I've been in use paper cups for the sacrament, but most wards I've seen use plastic ones. I prefer the plastic ones because the paper ones taste weird to me. I started thinking one day about which one was better for the environment. That got me wondering about the possibility of reusable sacrament cups. My first thought was glass, but I also saw olive wood and stainless steel.

Caring for the environment is great, but I've often found that appealing to people's pocketbooks is the most effective way of getting people to go greener. So, I did a little bit of math.

On, paper sacrament cups can be purchased for $82.75 for a box of 6,500. Plastic sacrament cups are $60.00 for a box of 8,000.

I did some searching, and I found stainless steel cups for $52.82 for a pack of 40. Glass ones are $0.99 each.

I'm going to guess that in a typical ward, in a given week, 200 people take the Sacrament. 48 weeks per year (since there's no sacrament for stake or general conference) means that a ward would go through 9,600 disposable cups in a year.

Cost of 200 stainless steel cups: $264.10
Cost of 200 glass cups: $198.00
Cost of one year paper disposable cups: $122.22
Cost of one year plastic disposable cups: $72

So, if a ward that uses plastic cups replaces them with stainless steel, the reusable cups would pay for themselves in 3 1/2 years. If a ward that uses paper cups switches, the steel cups would pay for themselves in just over two years.

If a ward that uses plastic replaces them with glass, the cups would pay for themselves in 2 3/4 years, and a paper-using ward would break even in 1 1/2 years.

The only challenge I can see from this is how to ensure that the cups are properly sanitized between uses. It would take a bit of work to wash 200 little cups every week. (I suspect that boiling them and then letting them dry could work, since they just had water in them.) However, I can see that being a great service opportunity and spiritual experience for the young men.

Do you know of any wards that reuse? Has anyone proposed this idea to their bishop? How was it received?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Workplace Question

I've been insanely busy these past few weeks at work. I work for a small company (about 150 employees, but only about 50 in my office) that just got acquired by a really big company. I work in human resources, so I've had a lot to do in order to make things transition smoothly.

Anyway, completely unrelated to the acquisition, I'm not quite sure what to make of what happened at work this morning. Small company dynamics are such that everybody is rather friendly with one another. We're a casual Silicon Valley software startup. The CEO greets everyone by name when he runs into them in the hallway. Everyone is on a first-name basis with everyone. There's joking and banter in the lunchroom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Learning to Say No

In the church, we're taught to say yes to callings, to service opportunities, to meetings, etc. Women especially are socialized to be people-pleasers. We're expected to be "nice" and self-effacing. There's nothing wrong with serving, there's nothing wrong with callings, and there's nothing wrong with caring for those around us. However, yes is cheapened when there isn't a viable opportunity to say no.

I've spent the last several years of my life overextending myself. There are the things I have to do (like work, household tasks, etc.), the things I want to do (social life, school, church), and the things I'm expected to do. I've done the things I have to do because they need to get done, the things I want to do because I want to do them, and the things I'm expected to do out of a sense of responsibility or guilt.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thoughts on the Bloggersnacker

I went to the bloggersnacker in Walnut Creek yesterday, hosted by Carol Lynn Pearson. I had a really good time and I'm glad I went. It was good to get out and socialize. I've been pretty sick lately, but I was having a good day yesterday. (The test results should be back next week, and I'll get to find out if it's my thyroid or if I have to go back to square one in getting to the bottom of the mystery of what's wrong with me.)

I got to meet several bloggers (and I apologize if I inadvertently leave anyone out), such as Reese Dixon, Valorie, Kelly Ann, Lynette, Seraphine, Top Hat, and Mike H. I still owe Mike H. a response to his recent comment on my last post, and once I can get my thoughts together and find the energy to write, I'll write another post about it.

We chatted for a bit, and then we had a more organized discussion of feminism in the church. It was an enlightening experience for me. I wasn't raised in the church. I was baptized just before turning 13, and I went to church alone throughout my teenage years. As a result, I never had family home evening or gospel discussions around the dinner table.

The bloggersnacker is what I imagine a family home evening to be like. We all sat around and talked about gospel subjects and what was important to us. I like that. I think I finally figured out the need that the 'nacle fills for me. For some people, the 'nacle fills the need to know that other people feel the way they do. For other people, who can't make it to church, the 'nacle gives them the spiritual boost similar to a church meeting. For me, it gives me a place to have gospel discussions that I didn't get growing up with inactive parents and that I don't get now that I live alone. So, thanks, everyone, for the virtual FHE!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stake Conference and Personal Revelation

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I made it through finals, more or less. (I’m still waiting for several grades. I’ll never figure out why it takes the professors so long to grade exams. It’s been over a month.) I had a week off from classes, and for the past two weeks I’ve been juggling work with an internship for credit. However, that’s not the topic of this post. (That’s the topic of tomorrow’s post.)

The topic of this post is stake conference, personal revelation, and how it’s my lot in life to be misunderstood. Today was stake conference. Elder Trythall of the Seventy was the presiding authority. This morning, before the general session, he held a meeting for all the YSAs. The meeting was a question and answer session. Nobody seemed interested in asking a question, so I opened up a can of worms by asking a question that seems to crop up frequently in the Bloggernacle, most recently at Zelophehad's Daughters in Seraphine’s excellent series about being a 30-something single in the church.

For background, I’m 28, so while I’m technically still a YSA, I’m on the way older end. As regular readers of the blog know, I’m in law school and feel strongly called to use my God-given talents in the legal profession, most likely in legal academia. This tends to make me unattractive to the typical LDS man who wants someone who is 19, blonde, and with little ambition. (I've been told that the reason I'm single is that I'm too ambitious and too smart. Don't even get me started there.) Anyway, here’s the question I asked:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Final Exams

I'm in the middle of finals right now, but I'm checking in to let everyone know I haven't abandoned my blog. More to come when I'm not swamped!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keep Your Politics out of My Religious Organization

People who take their religion seriously often find that their political views are informed by their religious convictions. I get that. I respect that. I have no problem with that. My politics are informed by my religious views. However, it annoys me when people try to bring their politics into church settings. Church is about worshiping God. It should be a vacation from politics. Good people can differ about the wisest political course to take, and politics can serve to divide instead of unite.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Food Storage Public Service Announcement

A few years ago, when my first attempt at law school blew up in my face, I found myself broke, unemployed (since I had previously been a university employee whose employment was contingent on continued enrollment), and facing large student loan payments. All of my money went to my rent and my student loan payments, leaving me with nothing else. Fortunately, I had heeded a prompting to get started on my food storage before all of this happened.

I opened my sealed #10 cans, and I had my own personal loaves and fishes miracle. My food storage sustained me abundantly for two years. Since I was on a budget, all I could afford to store the food in once I had opened the cans was dollar store plastic containers. My most recent move has made money a little tight again, so I decided to get back into my food storage to free up some other dollars until my bonus at work comes through next month. (I've been rotating it anyway, but some of the stuff like dried fruit only gets used in times of need. I like fresh fruit so much better.) Yesterday, I opened my container of raspberries to make muffins. I was greeted with a foul stench that can only be created by fermented fruit.

Apparently, the storage containers weren't as airtight as I had thought, and moisture had gotten in, causing my food to spoil. I checked the rest of my stuff, and I also lost apples, strawberries, bell peppers, powdered eggs, powdered milk, and freeze dried cheese to spoilage. The stuff I stored in good containers borrowed from my mom is in good condition, and I'm assuming the stuff that's still in sealed #10 cans is fine, but I'm not going to open it to check. (That sort of defeats the purpose.)

I guess the moral of the story is when you buy dollar store cheap Tupperware knock-offs, you get what you pay for.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thoughts on the Word of Wisdom

Over at The Narrow Gate, C.J. has an interesting post about the Word of Wisdom. She asks, among other things, what people think of cooking with alcohol or serving alcohol to guests. I started to leave a comment, but my comment was longer than the original post, so I decided to bring it over here instead.

I don't cook with alcohol. My aunt is an alcoholic, and I saw the devastation it brought on her life and the lives of those around her. I decided when I was 5 years old, before I ever heard of the Word of Wisdom, that I would never touch the stuff. (There's enough evidence that there's some genetic component to alcoholism that I don't want to even chance it with cooking. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't all cook out.) That said, I don't have an opinion on whether it would be a violation of the word of wisdom to cook with it. (I know members who do, and members who don't.) I can see good arguments either way. On the one hand, D&C 89:7 says "strong drinks are not for the belly," with the exception of homemade wine for use in the Sacrament. On the other hand, strong drink isn't defined. Does it refer to all alcohol, or only a specific type? I'm not sure; I've never needed to find out.

I also don't serve alcohol, for the same reasons that I don't cook with it. I don't think LDS hosts should feel expected to serve alcohol to guests. After all, if I go to the home of a Jewish friend, I don't expect to be served pork. I don't think it would be wrong to serve alcohol to non-LDS guests, however. I don't see the Word of Wisdom as a universal commandment (after all, Jesus drank wine). I see it, rather, as a community marker that God has commanded for His people in this dispensation. People who have not made those covenants aren't bound by the Word of Wisdom.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Personal Revelation and the "Ideal"

I've been mulling this one over for a while, and now that I have a few moments, I decided to sit down and write it. Since most of my writing these days has consisted of law review articles, you're going to end up with footnotes. It's an occupational hazard. [1]

I find the rhetoric used in the church to describe the "ideal" to be off-putting. It's usually trotted out in the context of family relations, but it can apply in other situations as well. It goes something like this: The "ideal" is a man and a woman who married in the temple in their early 20's (after the man served an honorable full-time mission), upon which the woman got pregnant within a year or two, quit her job, and became a full-time homemaker. [2] Any other situation is "less-than-ideal" and is something that the parties to the situation should feel at least slightly bad about. We can't acknowledge these situations with more than a few off-hand comments in talks because if we focus too much on them, then the "ideal" will be compromised.

In addition to causing heartache and pain to members whose lives have, for whatever reason, taken a different path, this notion of the "ideal" is in direct contradiction to our belief in personal revelation. Personal revelation comes through the Holy Spirit, a member of the Godhead. How could following instruction from God be less than ideal?

If someone receives personal revelation on a subject that differs from the "ideal", that doesn't make acting on that revelation not ideal. That revelation creates, for that person, a different ideal. For example, I have a good friend who became very close friends with a man not of our faith. As they got closer, she prayed about it and received a prompting to marry him. She was quite surprised by this, and she asked again to make sure she had understood correctly. She had. They've been married for 10 years, and they have a wonderful marriage and family. Marrying him became her ideal.

Personal revelation can serve to liberalize, as in the above instance of marrying a nonmember, but it can also serve to make things stricter for a given individual. For example, men are expected to serve a mission, and women are not. [3] When I reached the age where I was making the decision of whether or not to serve a mission, I received a witness that I should go. This revelation, which came from God, made my personal obligation to serve equal to the obligation of any man. Serving a mission became my ideal, and I would have been disobedient to God if I had chosen not to serve.

Instead of using the term "ideal" to describe the default position, I propose we use a different term which can avoid the baggage of value judgments. Perhaps something like "general rule", "default", or another suitable synonym. Basically, the idea is "do this unless you have revelation to do it differently". This phrasing is consistent with how Elder Oaks frames the issue. He has said:
As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. . . . But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this same thing in another way. When he was asked how he governed such a diverse group of Saints, he said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” In what I have just said, I am simply teaching correct principles and inviting each one of you to act upon these principles by governing yourself. [4]

As a people who believe in personal revelation, we need to make our speech consistent with our doctrine.

[1] I once wrote a 7 word sentence that was followed by an 87 word footnote.
[2] In talking about the rhetoric of the "ideal", I don't mean to imply that there's anything wrong with marrying young or being a full-time homemaker.
[3] See e.g. Gordon B. Hinckley, "Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service", October 1997 General Conference, reprinted in November 1997 Ensign p. 49. Available here. (Accessed April 7, 2010). ("I say what has been said before, that missionary work is essentially a priesthood responsibility. ... We do not ask the young women to consider a mission as an essential part of their life’s program. ... Again to the sisters I say that you will be as highly respected, you will be considered as being as much in the line of duty, your efforts will be as acceptable to the Lord and to the Church whether you go on a mission or do not go on a mission.)
[4] Dallin H. Oaks, "Dating versus Hanging Out", CES Fireside May 1, 2005. Available here. (Accessed April 7, 2010).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some Administrative Business

I've been absent from my blog for a few weeks because of the move and because of school. I have comment moderation turned on for posts older than two weeks in order to cut down on comment spam. Unfortunately, for some reason, Blogger neglected to e-mail me to let me know I had comments awaiting moderation, and I didn't discover them until today. I've now cleared the moderation backlog, and I apologize for the delay. All comments were legitimate, and they have now been posted.

Happy (belated) Easter!

I was going to write up an Easter post yesterday, but my grandparents surprised me with a visit. (Well, technically, they visited my parents, but I took the opportunity to drive the 45 minutes to my parents' place to spend the weekend with them.) So, Happy Easter, a day late.

Easter was great! General Conference was mostly good, too. I especially liked President Uchtdorf's talk on Sunday morning. I also liked Elder Andersen's talk on Sunday afternoon, reminding us that we should focus more on Christ. I appreciate that the audio from the priesthood session is available for download so that I don't have to wait for the transcripts to find out what the men were told in my absence. I loaded the talks onto my iPod to listen to them while I commute.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Update on My Living Situation

As I blogged here, I've been having roommate trouble. Well, it all blew up in my face on Tuesday. I tried to have a rational conversation with my roommate on the subject, and she flew off the handle, making insults which I will not reprint on this blog. I offered to move out and find her a new roommate, but she started making excuses why that wouldn't work. Then she said that she would move out, and she laid some guilt trip about how she had hoped she would be able to stay until her daughter graduates from 8th grade in June. I told her I wasn't kicking her out, and when she insisted on leaving I offered to help. She stormed off and has been avoiding me ever since.

I've been having problems with the landlord, too. (The complex is a dump, and the landlord doesn't seem to feel the need to comply with notice requirements before demanding entry to the apartment.) After talking to a lawyer, I've decided to just move. Since the lease is so close to being up, it's cheaper for me to keep paying for the place even while not living there than it is to break the lease or make the legal argument that the landlord has broken the lease.

I can see the Lord's hand in all of this. I was able to secure a beautiful apartment in the complex a block away from where I'm living now. There was a special running, so I can afford it. The apartment is just the right size for me, and when I walked inside, it felt like home. (There's no good way to describe it. I just knew it was the right place.) My sister is moving back in with our parents, which is good for her, too. I am officially done with roommates! The next time I live with anyone will be if I get married or adopt children.

Now my crazy roommate can have her shiftless husband around as often as she wants and I don't have to deal with it. I'm moving next Saturday. Hallelujah!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Think I've Run Out of Other Cheeks to Turn

I know we're supposed to be forgiving, and we're supposed to turn the other cheek, but I think I've run out of other cheeks in regards to my roommate situation.

Don't get me wrong; I like my roommates. It's just the garbage that comes along with them that's the problem. I live in a 3 bedroom apartment. I have one room, my sister has another room, and the third room is shared by my 45 year old roommate and her 14 year old daughter. My roommate is separated from her husband, and they're sort of going through a divorce, but not really. (Meaning they don't live together, and when she moved in with me, she told me they were going through a divorce. That was two years ago and nothing has changed.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why I Admire Vashti

The book of Esther doesn't quite sit right with me. A few years ago, I was re-reading the book of Esther, and I found a new hero from that story - Vashti. Vashti was the queen at the beginning of the story. She was throwing a party for the women of the court, and her husband, King Ahasuerus, was throwing a party for the men. There isn't much in the text about the women's party, but the men's party involved a lot of alcohol. Ahasuerus sent some servants to fetch Vashti to have her come to the men's party "to show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on." Vashti declined, and as a result, she was no longer the queen. (The text doesn't state whether she was executed, or whether the king merely divorced her and kicked her out of the palace.)

In various church lessons growing up, I had always heard Vashti used as an example of what happens to people who are disobedient. However, upon thinking it over, I've decided that Vashti is an admirable character. She is strong, and she shows self-respect.

Friday, February 12, 2010

28 Years

I'm a blog slacker. (Not to be confused with a Bloggersnacker, which, by the way, is happening in Berkeley tomorrow at 2:00 pm.) I've been so busy with real life that I haven't had much energy to write blog posts lately, though I've been commenting throughout the 'Nacle a bit.

mfranti put up a beautiful poem on Feminist Mormon Housewives about the last 35 years of her life, and she invited the rest of us to post our lists. So, here's the last 28 years of my life, in brief. (My poor writing professor would probably cringe if he read this; he already thinks I'm too concise.)

I am...

a dreamer
::not alone::
still believing