This I Believe

April 19, 2009 | 9 comments
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Sunstone West included a panel titled This I Believe, where panelists presented short pieces (3-5 minutes) about their beliefs. My talk is here.

Notes:

1. Yes, the This I Believe panel concept deliberately emulates the idea behind the classic radio program of the same name.

2. A bunch of other very interesting people presented on this particular panel at Sunstone West, including Margaret Young, Lorie Winder Stromberg, and Tom Kimball. You should listen to their talks, too.

3. You should also definitely check out Kristine’s presentation from last summer, which for my money is the gold standard for these.

4. In case anyone is wondering, this presentation happened before a certain recent tempest-in-a-teapot; however, it’s taken a few weeks for the slackers nice people at Sunstone to post the videos.

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UPDATE: Commenters have requested that I post the text of the talk. The text is as follows:

What do I believe in? That’s easy – I believe in myself.

I don’t mean that in a new age, self-esteem kind of way. I mean it in a much more literal way. My mother is part Hawaiian, though she doesn’t speak the language fluently. So when I was born, she called two family friends in Hawaii, four thousand miles away, and asked for suggestions for a Hawaiian name for her son. And they both gave essentially the same name. This is why I was named Kaimipono: Hawaiian for “seeking for righteousness.” I believe in omens, and I believe in seeking for righteousness.

Now, some might say, Kaimi, you’re at a Sunstone conference. If you’re seeking for righteousness, you came to the wrong place.

But I would disagree with that. This looks like a great place to seek for righteousness. (And not in the Abraham and the angels sense of finding ten righteous people in the city!) I’ve learned many things at conferences, on topics ranging from church history to women’s spirituality. There is righteousness here.
It’s not just Sunstone. Every experience I’ve had in life tells me that there is righteousness everywhere, if we seek it.

I am inspired by the example of Joseph Smith. He had a deliciously omnivorous spirituality. He drew on sources ranging from New England folk magic to Egyptian funerary texts (liberally translated). He said, “one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” I can only hope to emulate his example.

Like Joseph Smith, I seek for righteousness in the world around me. And I find it. In the LDS tradition, there are the wonderful norms of service and community; the idea of family history, journal writing, connecting the past and present; the tradition of beginning adulthood with a lengthy act of self-sacrifice; the importance given to family relationships; the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother; the persistent emphasis on seeking individual connection with God. These are righteousness. I have some quibbles with LDS theology and culture, but there is undoubtedly much righteousness there.

I learn from other religious traditions, from the majestic music of the Protestant hymnody; to the intense respect for nature of neopagans. I draw Terry Tempest Williams stories of finding refuge in the lakeshore birds, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beautiful feminist retelling of Arthurian legend. I even draw from the blogs. There is righteousness all around us, like the tiny hummingbird nest in the backyard oak.

I seek for righteousness. I go to the wonderful cafeteria, and feast. I take the good, and let the bad fall away. I share with my friends and family, and we commune together. Seeking righteousness is, like President Monson said about life itself, a journey. I can’t think of a better way to live.

So, there you have it. It may be just a bit self-centered, but I believe in seeking for righteousness. And after all, somebody once said, Seek, and ye shall find.

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9 Responses to This I Believe

  1. Matt W. on April 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing Kaimi. It was nice to get to know Tom Kimball a little better.

  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Any sub-titles or a written copy? The sound quality didn’t come through too well for me other than the one joke at the expense of Joseph Smith, which I’m certain is not the focus of the presentation.

  3. Margaret Young on April 19, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I love your name, Kaimi. And now I know how to pronounce it. I love names which have particular meaning. I think African names tend to do that, don’t they? (Obviously, Hawaiian names sometimes do.) I think you live up to your name beautifully, and I loved your presentation.

  4. Aaron Brown on April 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I presented at This I Believe at Sunstone Northwest last year. Does Sunstone post the audio for everyone’s presentations now (he asks, being too lazy to visit the website and find out)?

    Also, does anyone really stay under 5 minutes?

    AB

  5. Macy on April 19, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Ka’imipono, then, is the actually spelling of your name on your birth record?

  6. Margaret Young on April 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Aaron–the time of each presentation is posted with the youtube. I was very strict in my 500-word limit. My presentation was three minutes and eighteen seconds. The longest one was just over seven minutes. So yeah, we were pretty good about keeping the rules. Even at Sunstone.

  7. LRC on April 19, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Audio MP3′s of all of Sunstone’s symposium sessions will be available via the Sunstone website (sunstonemagazine.com). Several folks made formal comments at the Northern California version of This I Believe, and those comments will be available on the audio-only recordings yet to be released.

    A rash of break-ins, some scrambling to get bills paid and a bunch of regional symposiums all in a row have the Sunstone staff and equipment stretched thin, but they are trying to process the files as they can (they’re always looking for volunteers to donate time, equipment or money, so if you’ve got anything to share, drop them a line).

    The most recent recordings cost a couple of bucks and the older ones are free (but, as with all things non-profit, if you like them, support them).

  8. Dave on April 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for the links, Kaimi. You sounded pretty good … until I followed the link to Kristine’s talk.

  9. Kaimi Wenger on April 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Stephen,

    I’ve updated the post with the written text I used for my talk.