Mustard Seeds

Giving us a moment to rest in the shade on an oppressively hot August afternoon, our Cambodian tour guide began to recount one of his favorite childhood stories. A practicing Buddhist, he was raised on a body of scripture and myth I had never heard. His religious beliefs are different from mine, with ideas about afterlife(s), ritual, and ethics that strike me as foreign. He is one of the kindest, most genuine people I have known, and I think his character has a lot to do with his foundational stories, like the following one he shared with four exhausted white Americans in the middle of an ancient Buddhist temple complex: Continue reading

A Little Girl, Love, and the Butterfly Effect

After the mob of school children passed my house on their way home I saw a little girl walking in the opposite direction, crying. I went out, as a mother would, and asked if she was okay. She had lost her little brother, who she usually helps get home from school. I asked if she wanted to call her mother and she said, “No, she’s working, she won’t know where he is.”

She was beyond distressed, and began to run down the sidewalk calling out his name. I was a stranger, and she wasn’t going to engage me. When I returned home I gathered my little children around and told them her story, and we said a prayer for her and her little brother.

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Loving, Even Amongst Differences

After Church leaders formalized their stance on same-sex marriage by officially labeling them as apostate in its Church handbook, the Church went through a lot of pain and confusion, both for those who were LGBTQ+ and those who were not. Many of us noticed the bitter feelings by both those who respected or even agreed with the decision and those who felt the Church was moving in the wrong direction. Facebook fights, antagonistic blogging contests, and more.

This was then amplified after it was leaked that the policy had been influential in a number of suicides around the nation, especially by non-heterosexual youth. As I attempted to bring light to the fact that, regardless of one’s position on the policy, even one suicide was one too many and that it was time for a discussion on how to make the Church culture more inclusive. (This, I believe, can be done even before-or without-a change in the policy. It may be harder, but I think it is time for members to take a stand on changing church culture, regardless of how progressive or conservative you feel towards the religion as a spiritual institution.)

One of my dear friends sent me this Facebook message: “I was thinking about what you wrote about the suicides, which is definitely a tragedy. While I personally don’t disagree with the policy, I can understand the hurt that is very real for others. So since you have worked with many LGBT Mormons, I have a question. How exactly do you reach out to those that are gay and are hurting. You are correct, the “hate the sin…” rhetoric is not working, but I think there are many members who want to know what they can do to support and love those that are gay and are not sure how to help.” Well, here are some answers. To all of you wondering out there, here are a collection of what some LGBTQ+ members are searching for in your ward families. Continue reading

Substance vs. Signal

When I was in Primary, I often heard stories about the warm feelings from the Holy Ghost that teach true principles and indicate right behavior. Such stories appear frequently in the Friend, an official Mormon magazine for young children. I found a couple of examples to provide as a sample:

These stories are heartwarming and adorable. They teach a powerful concept–that there is something inside each of us that testifies of goodness and truth. That small children are able to experience and recognize this is remarkable. Continue reading

Cheers

I collect collapsed churches to honor my god
So he knows, I can see what he's done
And sometimes I paint in the blood of the faint
When it seems I should honor his son

Demons can't give Satan nightmares
She dreams of darker stars
Prisons can't be threatening if
Your heart loves iron bars

There's a whisper in the wind tonight
That chants of silver trees
And Mars will glow blood red tonight
With missing priesthood keys
 Continue reading