The moon was rising in the east as I parked my car on the side of the road in one of the remaining rural neighborhoods that pocket the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. The pastures, horse properties, and acre homesteads showcase old money and legacy Mormon families. This island is the seedbed of all four of my stake presidents since my move to Arizona in 1998, who from this seat presided over the new growth suburbs that surrounded them. For twenty-two years, I was a witness to the administration of Church government from this ultra-conservative pocket in the suburbs, where the echoes of the 1850s Mormon Reformation and the Ezra Taft Benson era still inform power today.
I stepped out of my vehicle and noted my direction. With no streetlights, the moonlight guided me as I made my way along the dusty shoulders of the road towards the home of my stake president. Before he moved here, he was my neighbor in the outlying suburbs of the masses. Ten years ago, I met with him in his home and spent a Sunday afternoon training him in his duties as a newly called second counselor in the bishopric in our ward. But tonight I was called to his new home here for another reason.
Large old growth trees surround his property. It is a walled fortress, with a keypad for entry through an iron gate. As I stood under a tree there on the side of the road, I squarely faced his house and reflected on all the events that brought me to that moment in time.
I felt the Spirit wash over me, telling me it was time.
I bent down and cast off the dust from my feet, brushing my shoes with my hands and wiping the soles of my feet as I spoke the words of an ancient Mormon rite, almost as old as the restoration itself, passed down to me while a missionary in Alabama.
But I was not finished, I still had one more place to go.
Today I am posting the remarks I gave at the 6th annual ALL Arizona conference on April 28th, 2018. The conference had some remarkable speakers, singers, and presenters who together wove a picture of love and community.
With much sadness Out of Obscurity mourns the passing of one of our bloggers, Megan Howarth. Megan lived a purpose driven life, touching those she came in contact with in profound ways. Megan never turned down an opportunity to advocate for the many causes important to her.
One of her friends writes, “The only thing we can do now with our broken hearts is to help support the family and continue on with the causes most important to us.”
May we all work to leave this world a better place than we found it.
Please click here to learn more about Megan and how you may support her family in this difficult time.
To honor our fellow LGBTQIA+ and commemorate her life, we leave you with her Out of Obscurity bio, which she wrote to introduce us all to her life.
‘Til we meet again Megan ❤️
Megan H (she/her/hers) is a quiet, introverted Hufflepuff who nevertheless has gotten involved in feminist, LGBTQ+ and other types of activism, showing that you don’t need to be loud and flashy to work for social justice. She writes for the blog with an A (asexual and aromantic) perspective. She has also lived with multiple autoimmune diseases for close to a decade, giving her a unique perspective on invisible illness and ableism. Megan is a lifelong Mormon with pioneer heritage and served a service mission in Family History as a less-physically-taxing alternative to a proselyting mission; while she is now investigating Community of Christ (formerly known as RLDS), a part of her will always be Mormon. Megan recently bought a little house in Logan, where she lives with her cat Noel, is learning how to be a homeowner through trial and error, and works in tech support.
On August the third, 1908, the brothers Jean and Amédée Bouyssonie entered a lonely cave in the Sourdoire Valley of France. For three years they had carefully excavated over 1000 Neanderthal artifacts, however on this day the brothers uncovered a nearly complete 50,000 year old Neanderthal skeleton which they described as being carefully buried in a sleeping position, legs bent with head tilted over the chest and surrounded by flint tools and animal bones.
It was shocking at the time to think that a species other than our own would have the capacity to ritualize death through intentional burial. Continue reading →
When we summarize the story of Alma at the Waters of Mormon we think of the community of Saints who were desirous to bear one another’s burdens, willing to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. They desired to be called the people of God.
This was a radically supportive community considering the political atmosphere that surrounded them during the time of Alma.
This band of souls who gathered at the Waters of Mormon lived in an enclave nation surrounded by a people who desired to harm and enslave them. They lived in continual tension with their neighbors. Their King, King Noah, had pillaged the poor to fund the government’s laziness, idolatry, and whoredoms. Additionally, King Noah’s example “did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord.” Mosiah 11:2
These were refugees, and considering the tensions and fears of their homeland, it is no wonder that they “clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts” upon being invited to join this new supportive community at the Waters of Mormon.
Last week I was out on my back patio enjoying some sunshine in our 70 degree weather, because that is what you do in Phoenix in December. I felt it time to listen to John Dehlin’s Mormons Stories Podcast where he interviewed Tom Christofferson about his book “That We May Be One.”
The interview was typical Mormon Stories Podcast format: Tell your story and then answer contemporary and relevant questions drawn from wisdom gained from your story. For me, I enjoyed his story and it was a disarming and refreshing experience listening to his conclusions and insights on such things as the Proclamation on the Family, the effects of the exclusion policy on the church, did he think same sex relationships and marriage were equal to opposite sex relationships and marriage, and his theology on LGBTQ in the plan of salvation. There really were no softball questions and John discussed subjects with Tom that have been wounding the LDS LGBTQ community for a long time. Continue reading →
Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks at the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tonight an era has ended.
The President of the Church who presided over Prop 8 and then gave us the exclusion policy has died. These are some pretty hefty bookends holding together his 10 year ministry. As an LDS LGBTQ, I acknowledge the good President Monson did as president while grappling with the personal pain he caused me, my family, and so many of my fellow LDS LGBTQ. If anything, he brought the LDS LGBTQ issue front and center for the church to see in full daylight. Continue reading →