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
Monthly Archives: February 2016
The latter part of this month I have been greatly affected by the continual data coming to light concerning Mormon youth and young adult LGBT suicide.
I felt extreme pressure and discomfort as a gay teen in the 80s. But I cannot begin to imagine the added pressures to the LGBTQIA+ youth of today in our church in a post policy world. Continue reading
Of Hearts and Boxes
I saw you and my soul lit up
God said, “No”
The Church said, “No”
But my heart said, “Yes”
Hearts are notorious liars
Weaving dangerous fantasies that
Burn too hot and fierce in the
Dim light of the lone and dreary world 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.
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:
- A New Feeling, by Francislaine Urquidi Farfan Vasser (Friend Magazine, September 2015)
- I Felt the Holy Ghost, by Yichen, age 6, Taiwan (Friend Magazine, June 2014)
- Question Corner (Friend Magazine, October 2012)
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
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
A More Excellent Way
A few years ago, when I was preparing remarks to share during an upcoming religious service, it occurred to me that I had nothing to say. The religious views I had contemplated my entire life were no longer of interest to me. The intricacies of doctrine held no appeal. Truth claims were naive, futile and tiresome.
In a moment of determination, I sat down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper and resolved to work out my true convictions. I dug deep and searched for faith inside myself, unsure of what I would find. Withholding self-judgment as much as I could, I asked myself, “What do I really believe?” Continue reading
YM, focusing on his mission, was tensely perched in the crow’s nest looking out for others who needed help in the open, turbulent sea. He knew his ship was taking on water but was distractedly unaware as to the severity of the leak: he was going down. A strong blast of wind caught the sails just right, and the mast buckled, throwing YM down to the deck and destroying the helm. Having noted the mobility of others’ ships, YM recognized that his situation wasn’t like theirs; they were progressing on their voyages while he had no mast, no sails, no helm, and was sinking; he was going nowhere fast. The storm tossed his ship back and forth, side to side, each wave bringing on more water and each gust of wind driving him in a different direction. YM decided to stop comparing his progress to theirs; he needed to act to save himself. Continue reading
The Room With the Universe
When I was a child you spoke of a room Where the universe sat on a throne And the stars and the planets and asteroid bands Were etched into windows and stone And the floor was composed of the gods we had known In eons that long since had passed Where you wrapped me in starstuff adorned with a cloud And said love would be there if I asked Continue reading