Blog Archives

Performative Religion

October 26, 2012 | 15 comments

To throw another idea in the faith vs. works debate: “Faith is not equivalent to belief or certainty. Faith has more to do with commitment. Faith is fidelity.” Times and Seasons is a place that respects the faith of Latter-day Saints. As someone who often struggles with the faith of belief, I cling to the faith of fidelity. I want to keep the faith in this church that I love. Some things I don’t know, and some I only hope to believe, but I am committed by covenant and the strength of my faith to act as though the... Read more »

Book of Mormon Comics

October 24, 2012 | 12 comments

I love stories. A narrative strikes me as the most fundamental way of ideas with other people. And by ideas, I mean not only the bare events of the narrative, but also abstract concepts, morals, and emotional truths. It makes sense to me that our basic scriptural texts have strong narratives. The Old Testament is a collection of stories, with the consequences of one generation’s choices setting the stage for the actions of the next. The Book of Mormon also has very strong narratives. Other classic stories that we are familiar with, we feel free to reimagine. We update... Read more »

If she wants to…

October 17, 2012 | 38 comments

Women can go on missions, if they want to.  Now that they can go at 19, some will go who may not have wanted it quite enough to wait until they turned 21. But it is still not the same as for men, who have a clear expectation and strong social pressure to serve missions sometime after they turn 18. Girls in the church hit this idea, “they can do it if they want to” quite often. Starting at age 8, when American boys enter the officially sanctioned Church version of Cub Scouts, the segregation begins. The boys meet... Read more »

Forget Caffeine: Where’s the Ironport?

October 3, 2012 | 16 comments

The recent hubbub on BYU’s campus about the selling of caffeinated drinks misses the mark. Sure, there is some demand for caffeine; this is a college campus. It’s not about the flavor. It’s about sleeping too little and needing a boost to remain conscious through early morning or afternoon classes. (Is there any class harder to stay awake through than the one after lunch when they turn down the lights and start showing slides?) Or it’s about living up to your personal standards, which may or may not align with those of other Honor Code compliant students, faculty, and... Read more »


September 26, 2012 | 30 comments

I’ve been reading news stories about people dealing with addiction and depression, people who have committed secret transgressions that finally broke out of their control and caused public ruin and shame for the sufferers and their families. There is so much pain and heartbreak, both for those innocents who must bear the consequences and for the troubled secret-keeper. Which is worse? To learn that the one you love has kept their struggle and pain secret from you, or to be the one striving, but failing, to make it right so you don’t hurt those you love? One of the... Read more »

Prudence, Altruism, and Curses

September 12, 2012 | 11 comments

Prudence requires that we recognize the reality of times other than the present, specifically, future times. Altruism requires that we recognize the reality of people other than ourselves. Prudence allows us to delay gratification for our own future benefit. We budget, we plan ahead, we save for a rainy day. Altruism allows us to do things unselfishly, for the good of others. If you accept Thomas Nagel’s structuralist case for altruism, you recognize that there is rational justification for doing good for others that is not dependent on ulterior motives. We are able to help others, even if it doesn’t... Read more »

How do we say goodbye?

September 5, 2012 | 47 comments

How do we say goodbye to those who choose to leave the Church? We who stay are torn, pulled on the one hand by our faith and hope for salvation, ours and theirs, and on the other hand by respect for their agency and personal revelation. Do we feel better about people who make a clean break and have their names removed from the rolls of the Church or do we worry that they have renounced saving ordinances? Do we compare them favorably or unfavorably to those who take a more passive aggressive approach, the ones who drop out... Read more »

Object Lessons!

August 29, 2012 | 30 comments

I am pretty much exhausted by the discussion of modesty and chastity in both LDS and feminist circles. This is unfortunate timing because my daughter has not yet started in Young Women’s, so I know we’ll be subjected to several more years of these lessons in the near future. Instead of dreading these earnest discussions with their carefully planned object lessons, I’ve decided to prepare for them. I don’t want my daughter to be discouraged and shamed because as normal teenager she feels she is not as perfect as a fresh rosebud or as chocolately as a warm brownie... Read more »

Not a Legitimate Rape

August 23, 2012 | 59 comments

I’ve been listening to the radio this morning about the Republican Party platform and abortion and rape. I’ve never had an abortion; thankfully I’ve never been in a situation where that seemed like a viable option. I am thankful that the Church handbook allows for abortion, but even there the wording is “forcible rape or incest” . And apparently Representative and would-be Senator Akin meant to say “forcible rape” rather than the terribly unfortunate “legitimate rape.” But what does “forcible” mean in terms of rape? That a woman or girl is held down and raped against her vain... Read more »

The Rifts of Rime

August 15, 2012 | 3 comments

Finally, a book by Steve Peck that I can read with my children! At first my husband thought that would be A Short Stay in Hell; it is only 70 pages, but I had to disabuse him of that notion. As much as children enjoy thinking about infinity (How can anything go on forever? But if there is a limit, what is on the other side?), I thought the main character was brutally murdered far too many times to be appropriate bedtime reading material for small children. And I would like to save that little volume for them to... Read more »


August 8, 2012 | 53 comments

We talk about our Heavenly Father loving us, and our leaders say they love us, but sometimes it feels like they mean “us” in general, and not “me” in particular. We are told that almost any righteous man and woman can have a successful marriage if they are both committed, if both of them have enough faith to do everything right. The particulars of the individuals, the quirks and preferences that make up our personalities, don’t much matter. And many couples in contented arranged marriages can testify to the viability of this idea. In the same way, any... Read more »

Dam Comments

August 1, 2012 | 34 comments
Dam Comments

Too much attention to those awkward stones just adds to them and makes a dam, and I seriously don’t want to have to bring out the dynamite and blow it away. Read more »

A Song of Embodiment

July 25, 2012 | 30 comments

Anything I’m able to think is because of everything I feel. And everything I feel is this wonderful embodiment, this solid physicality. Everything begins as physical sensations that are then co-opted, abstracted, and re-appropriated by the mind. Love in the abstract began as a warm feeling of security and comfort and a belly full of milk. It grows into trust and affection. From our instinctive feelings of approval and disapprobation we develop judgment, ethics, and morality. Everything we call virtuous began with some action that met our approval, that felt good, was beautiful or useful to ourselves or others... Read more »

A Finite Population?

July 18, 2012 | 22 comments

So how many people do we think will exist in the whole of humanity throughout our history? Read more »

O Pioneer! Book Review of Villages on Wheels

July 11, 2012 | 4 comments

The 4th of July is a week of intense patriotic celebration in Provo.  Freedom Festival is the biggest party of the year here. People go all out with block parties, fireworks, parades, races, and art contests. We end the week exhausted. As a relative newcomer to Utah Valley, I’ve wondered why is Independence Day is such a big deal here. It turns out that Provo is simply upholding pioneer tradition: “Both Mormons and American travelers commemorated July 4th with elaborate patriotic observances. They generally stated at daybreak with gun and cannon salutes, and continued with cheers, speeches, toasts, feasts,... Read more »

The Threat of New Order Mormons

July 4, 2012 | 165 comments

I’ve been struggling to articulate to myself the difficulties that true blue Mormons have with new order Mormons. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve been able to come up with, and I hope you will be able to help me work through this. The struggles of Mormons going through a faith transition to become new order Mormons or ex-Mormons is well documented within the bloggernacle. Through online communities they are able to find support and understanding that they may even be afraid to ask for in their families and congregations. My concern in this post is the true blue... Read more »

Gendered Unity

June 27, 2012 | 27 comments

Every ward or branch I’ve lived as an adult has struggled with the dilemma of how to increase a sense of unity among the Relief Society sisters. In some places, demographics have dictated a natural split between the transient (a few months to a few years) young college and graduate age students, wives, and mothers and those who live in the ward on a more permanent basis: more established families, families with grown children, and retirees. We’ve also lived in a branch split by language differences in which about half of the members spoke English as a native language,... Read more »

Church Centers: Multi-use Buildings?

June 20, 2012 | 95 comments
Church Centers: Multi-use Buildings?

When we lived in La Jolla, the kids and I were members of the La Jolla YMCA. There was a child care center that would watch my little preschoolers for a couple of hours while I exercised and showered. I worked with a trainer and learned to use machines and free weights. I took aerobics, tai chi, yoga and pilates classes. My kids took swim, dance and gymnastics lessons. They went to preschool. I volunteered at the preschool, got trained and taught kids and adult yoga classes, and helped in the annual fundraising efforts that provided reduced membership and... Read more »

O My Father

June 17, 2012 | 3 comments

“My father, thou art the guide of my youth” (Jeremiah 3:4). We turn to him for guidance, for help and counsel as we age and learn our own fallibilities. It is Father’s Day. Today, we recognize the important role that men play in loving and caring for children. Too often, I get caught up on a few words in the Proclamation on the Family and the idea that “fathers are to preside over their families.” It sounds distancing to me; that the father is somehow uninvolved in the day to day work of family and home life; he is,... Read more »

In Memoriam

May 28, 2012 | 8 comments

I spend the morning with my children at the cemetery. The high school band played, the mayor placed a wreath at the war memorial, and servicemen, including a veteran of Pearl Harbor, spoke to us. We bought red paper poppies to pin to our shirts. We didn’t talk about Memorial Day in sacrament meeting yesterday. The only mention was that the scouts would be placing flags on lawns. It seems that we should want to remember and honor those who have fought and fallen in our worship services. How many times in the Book of Mormon are the people... Read more »

Post-structuralist Mormon?

May 22, 2012 | 12 comments

I played with deconstruction a little bit this semester. It probably wasn’t a good idea; I didn’t feel I had a firm grasp on Derrida; his ideas squirmed away from me like slippery little fish. But it seemed like so much fun, like such a powerful tool; how could I resist? It was like fire beckoning, or the primitive call to throw rocks off a cliff, or the closed box full of some unknown something. It was seductive to be sure; that didn’t stop it from being a bad idea. One paper I wrote shortly after attempting to read... Read more »

The Same 10 Families

May 4, 2012 | 90 comments

With the exception of student wards, every ward or branch I’ve attended seems to rely on a few families to fill all of the major callings. We’ll call them “the same ten families.” In our Long Island branch, there were about six families that carried the load. The branch president was married to the young women’s president. The young men’s president was married to the Relief Society president. The Elder’s quorum president was married to the primary president. We weren’t president level material there: my husband was a counselor in the young men’s presidency and the gospel doctrine teacher... Read more »


April 3, 2012 | 14 comments
Rock Canyon

We are now in Holy Week, and Lent is ending. I’ve been fasting. It’s nothing onerous; just giving up sweets and meats. I’m not a huge fan of penance and self-flagellation, but to be honest, I probably eat too much of both categories for both my conscience and my health. But even if a little guilt is in order, I don’t see any profit in wallowing or groveling. Lent is the perfect time to reset my habits. It is a well-defined period of fasting that, if not observed, is at least recognized throughout Christendom. And it is that very... Read more »

Snow, Citizens, and Stewards

January 26, 2012 | 8 comments

It has recently been announced that Steven E. Snow will replace Marlin K. Jensen as the new Church historian. Elder Jensen has been a wonderful historian for our church, bringing both compassion and honesty to the work.I expect this good work will continue under Elder Snow’s direction. I am curious to see what his areas of emphasis will be. I wonder if one of those areas might deal with the pioneers’ settling of West and environmental issues because in the past, Elder Snow has written on this particular stewardship topic.Elder Snow wrote an essay published in New Genesis entitled “Skipping... Read more »