The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.
Galadriel, “The Lord of the Rings”
I still remember my very first pep rally as a freshman at Orem High in 1982.
In the middle of the day the entire school emptied into the gym where we assembled together in the bleachers by graduating class. Suddenly at the cue of the cheerleaders the senior class started chanting to the drums, “Eighty three! Eighty three! Eighty, eighty, eighty, eighty, eighty three!” Then they pointed to the next class who followed even louder, “Eighty four! Eighty four! Eighty, eighty, eighty, eighty, eighty four!”
The excitement was contagious and we realized as freshman we would soon get a chance to show our class pride. As we yelled our ‘86 chant as loud as we could the gym erupted into laughter. We were freshmen and our voices were still high and almost childlike compared to the others. But we didn’t care!
The classes continued round and around each chanting their graduating class year. Each time we shouted even louder until at last the Orem High tiger mascot finally pointed to the winning class who showed the most spirit. It was here I learned to be proud to be Class of ’86!
Someone somewhere decided spirit could be trusted but body could not. I don’t know who decided it. I suspect it had to do with St. Augustine and something about the Greeks (that is to say I’ve heard things but not remembered them).
For me, body is surely at least as divine as spirit. Neither is perfect, but in Mormon thought they will both eventually be. If God can speak to my spirit, God can also speak to my body. I was built to resonate with good things, in body and in spirit. I trust them both. When I cry and when I laugh it is a meeting of both in celebration or mourning. Continue reading
As I was going to sleep, I started thinking what tomorrow’s church would be like as I often do. This will be the “post-conference” week, so I imagine EQ/RS lessons will largely be discussions of which talks were are favorite, what impressions we had, and the importance of following the prophet.
I dread tomorrow.
This is the Sunday of the worst platitudes Mormonism has to offer. People will say they were so glad that Elder Holland talked about how all voices in God’s kingdom matter. Someone might say they liked Elder Renlund’s talk on sin because they felt he was talking to them and they needed to know that Christ felt past their sin. The class will probably make a joke about whether or not Elder Uchtdorf used a flying metaphor.
I started reflecting on why I dread tomorrow–four years ago, I’d be the one exclaiming how much I loved conference as well. And tonight as I thought about it, I realized it’s partly because it’s hard to talk about how ‘applicable’ conference is or how ‘it was as if the leaders knew me’ when that’s exactly the opposite of how I feel. At least in this moment, it’s hard to imagine that any of the Apostles or other leaders of the Church–maybe even my family and friends–understand how I feel. Continue reading
I am a gay member of the church and have been disfellowshipped from the church for eight years. Through all these years I have remained active in the church. Even though I have thoroughly repented and been in full compliance with the hyper-religiosity and everything my bishops and stake presidents have asked me to do, and was living my life fully in alignment with church standards, my multiple attempts to be reinstated have been denied over and and over. It has always been very puzzling to me, since my whole experience as a member my whole life, and serving as a bishop for four years, taught me that church discipline is not intended to be like this. Church discipline should always be done in love, maintain the dignity of the individual, and for the repentant it should be brief. Even if someone has been excommunicated, after a year they can be re-baptized if they have been repentant.
There are several reasons why I think my case has gone on for years and years. First, I should clarify that my disfellowshipment was not due to any illegal or heinous behavior. However, I have been told that while the sin was relatively minor, because I was a bishop, the penalties are much higher. Though I was only disfellowshipped instead of excommunicated, the Office of the First Presidency intervened with my stake president’s decision and mandated that my discipline last a minimum of five years. Normally, disfellowshipment lasts no longer than a year, and it is almost unheard of for the church employees of the Office of the First Presidency (who hold no priesthood keys) to interfere with the decisions of stake presidents who hold the priesthood keys for church discipline within their stakes. The fear of having First Presidency scrutiny of my case has deterred my three stake presidents over the years from reinstating me, even after the five-year minimum was met. Combined with some other factors, it has been a continuously unsuccessful effort to try to be reinstated.
When news broke in January that Daniel Ruettiger, the Notre Dame footballer who inspired the movie Rudy, had joined the Mormon Church, few could have predicted it would start a fad. Some religious scholars are beginning to believe that might be the case. Since “Rudy’s” baptism, in the first quarter of 2017, at least 56 nationally recognized athletes, actors, and other performers have taken the Mormon baptismal plunge, reports Dr. Mitch Edmonds of the Organization for Religious Statistics. According to Edmonds, that represents a 341% increase over the previous peak in 1912, when the entire cast and crew of the film Tell Me, Truly joined the Church during its promotional tour.
Among the A-listers joining Mormonism already in 2017 are Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, actor, producer, and CEO of her namesake network, OWN, and Ellen DeGeneres, actor, talk show host, and voice actor who provided the voice for Dory in Disney’s animated films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. Continue reading