Tag: Social and Personal

Home

Any minute now, it will begin: first one car, then another, then another will drive into our cul-de-sac and park in front of the house across the street. As they do on every holiday, the Bishop’s children are coming home.

The Gospel and Immigration

A High Priest I know is in crisis. He is an immigrant who, like many other Church members, came to the US without a visa, according to what I understand of the situation. After arriving here he joined the Church, and eventually fell in love and married a U.S. Citizen, a wonderful, faithful Church member. This situation would normally put him on track for a green card and U.S. citizenship. But this brother is facing deportation, and his ward and stake are praying for a miracle that will keep him here in the United States.

What Should Mormons Do?

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Mormon employees at the University of Phoenix benefited from discrimination based on religion, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The University settled the suit, paying $1.9 million to 52 employees (an average of more than $36,000 each!) and agreeing to a “zero-tolerance” policy to religious discrimination, but did not admit wrongdoing. What’s up with that?

Just Say No (to members)

A few months ago, a sister in our ward asked my daughter to babysit. On a Monday evening. That’s right. Monday Evening. We try to be diligent with family home evening on Monday night, so the answer needed to be “no,” but I was a bit confused about how to convey that message.

Mormon Halloween: Its Origin and Destiny

I’m not sure whether or not Halloween is actually “Mormon” to any significant degree. Mormons generally participate in the holiday here in the U.S., of course. And we even have a few requirements of the holiday in a Church setting — for example, we don’t allow masks at Church-sponsored Halloween events. But I don’t think that these facts quite give us a Mormon Halloween. Perhaps what we need is a good, Mormon-specific monster!

The Great Unity

Last weekend I went to the penultimate game in Yankee Stadium, and the next night watched the last game on television, complete with its post-game wake. Over nearly 20 years I’ve attended meetings there, letting a place and a culture become an almost religious part of my life. Its a Temple of baseball.

Moderation in all Salt

Like in many Mormon families, my siblings and I helped fix dinner. On Sunday’s I loved to fix the mashed potatoes. It was in making mashed potatoes that I learned early that though a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. Early on, I served a large bowl (there were 8 of us) of mashed potatoes after thinking that if a little salt was good, . . .

What is an Association Worth?

This past week I received a card in the mail from the BYU Alumni Association, asking for my help in “editing” my biographical information in an “Alumni Directory” in preparation. While I’ve certainly given the Alumni Association biographical information in the past, for some reason this time I started asking myself “is this worth my time?” and, in the Mormon context, “is this worth anyone’s time?”

Called to leave

My grandmother, mother, and I all served missions, so I was delighted when my firstborn announced her intention to serve, submitted her papers, received her call. Little did I know.

“We lived after the manner of happiness”

The other day somebody sent me a YouTube link for a comedian I’ll call Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones was a chubby gramdma with hot flashes – not the kind of person you usually see doing stand-up. Most of the “funny” email forwarded to me makes me sigh and hit the delete button. Mrs. Jones made me laugh out loud. It felt sort of weird. Which made me realize that I don’t laugh nearly enough

How Much Should We Advantage Our Kids Over Others?

When asked why they aren’t more generous with their time or money, many people answer that if they gave more, it would be at the expense of their own children. Sure, the argument goes, it would be great if I could pay an extra $100 to provide immunizations for kids in Africa, but my first duty is to my family, and giving that $100 for immunizations would prevent me from taking my kids to the water park.

Quality

Warning: To write this post, I’ve had to get personal. I apologize in advance for that, but some points I make require grounding in my observations about personal experiences, many of which are highly charged. The stories and observations I report here in no way represent everything I think about these matters. More importantly, they don’t represent everything I will think; I’m not through turning over these events and ideas to see what else is there. If you’ve come to this post already feeling overwhelmed or bothered about something, you might want to skip reading this, because it might make matters worse for you. After you read this post, it will self-destruct in sixty seconds. (I wish, but then again, some records must stand.) Did I mention this post runs long? Okay then, here we go. In 1992 I gave birth to a daughter, Mattea. An in utero infection of a predatory organism called cytomegalovirus (CMV) destroyed nearly half her…

Appropriate Requests

Yesterday we met our new home teachers. After they shared their message, and before they asked to leave us with a prayer, they asked the common question, “Is there anything you need that we can help you with?” We answered “No.” We then said a prayer together and they left. When they asked that question my mind began to list all the things that we need or want- a grown up bed for our kid, someone to watch our kid this Thursday while I’m at the dentist, to figure out what is going on with my husband’s ear, help figuring out just exactly what sorts of things I should buy for food storage, advice on hiring a landscaper or doing the backyard ourselves, advice on refinancing our home, etc. I wonder what would have transpired if I had shared any of those things with our home teachers. Obviously it would have been a bit overwhelming for a first visit, but…

I am now officially not young

It happened not long ago. I started getting emails from something called the Cambridge Stake MSA. As is my habit with all mass mailings, I deleted the first few without reading them, but after a while I noticed them and realized that I didn’t know what MSA stood for. Turns out MSA is the “Middle Singles,” which is everyone 30-50 years old who isn’t married. In the eyes of the church, I am no longer a “Young Single Adult.” I’m just a “Single Adult.” I am now officially old.

Worthless dating advice

The October 2004 New Era was a special issue dedicated to marriage and dating. As a member of a singles ward, I was encouraged to read the issue, so I did. Frankly, it was to me more a source of hilarity than inspiration– probably at least in part because I was almost twice the age of their target audience. One of my roommates and I amused ourselves for a couple of hours reading our favorite passages aloud and laughing our heads off.

What If President Hinckley Says This Next Month…

“…brothers and sisters, there is another matter of which I’d like to mention before we close this glorious conference. We live in a new age. A time where information surrounds us. The internet has grown to be a regular part of many people’s lives. Email makes it easier to communicate… but I’m not going to give you my email address (crowd erupts with laughter).

The Mormon Bankrupt

Utah has a very high rate of bankruptcy. In 2000 it hovered at around 7 filings per thousand people– twice the national average. This lonely fact has launched a thousand explanations for why Mormons have such a problem with defaulting on their creditors. Clearly, the thinking seems to be, this shows some of the rot in the Kingdom. Just as clearly, this view has very little support in the data.

The End-Stopped Line

Sixteen years ago today, May 2, 1989, was a Tuesday. I got up and went to school that morning, along with my three other school-age siblings; I was fourteen, in ninth grade, an everting adolescent just starting to worry about my weight, thinking about my first AP exam in a few weeks. My mother probably stayed in most of that day, occupied with our new two-month-old, Abraham, and the three other home-age children. My dad went to work, and then to a school board meeting that evening. My grandma was in town, too, visiting for a few weeks.

Eccentrics

There is a student on the Georgetown campus that makes me uneasy. He has glasses, a bushy beard, heavy features, long brown hair knotted in dreadlocks. I see him often, and he always seems to be wearing the same thing: a camouflage jacket, brown trousers, and a heavy backpack full, I’m convinced, of books on anarchy.

Am I a Productive Adult?

Actually, I know I’m not. I eat too much sugar, I don’t rise at the crack of dawn, I own no Tupperware, I take three hours to leave the house in the mornings, I’ve never bought a car, I earn about $12,000 a year, I have a library book overdue, I had zero taxable income in FY 2003, I don’t have dental insurance, I’m several thousand dollars in debt to whomever Sallie Mae sold my student loan, I’ve never had a full-time job longer than nine months, and my father pays my cell phone bill

For JV on January 17

JV is the kind of person one notices right away in an LDS chapel, the kind of person one remembers. I’d seen her at various stake activities after I moved with my new husband into our micro-studio apartment in a transient-urban ward; when we moved into student housing in the neighboring transient-student ward the next year, hers was one of the few familiar faces that greeted us that first Sunday. It was impossible not to like her instantly: JV is outgoing, exuberant, affectionate, interested, and an intent listener. She also happens to be African-American.

Can a Good Mormon be a Meritocrat?

I’m not a big fan of much of David Brooks’s writings, as he is often too Manichean to be useful (here’s a good parody). But in the opening pages of Bobos in Paradise, Brooks does a nice job of describing the shift in American culture from a class structure based on lineage or money to one based on education and achievement.

Racist by Association

More than once in my career, I have been told by colleagues that they had me wrong. They had assumed, because of my religion, that I had unkind feelings toward racial minorities. After observing me in various settings, however, they had concluded that their initial assumption was unfair. These moments are always bittersweet. On the one hand, I am pleased to have gained some measure of approval, even if I have not consciously sought it. On the other hand, I wonder how many other people never get past the initial assumption. When I was an undergraduate, a marketing professor told me that Proctor & Gamble assumed that every customer complaint was representative of six (or was it eight?) other unhappy customers. Similarly, I assume that for every person who admits to having this initial negative opinion of me based my religion, many more people simply harbor the opinion without ever giving it expression. Moreover, I fear that some people will…

Modesty and Shame

We’ve had a few teasingly warm days in the last few weeks, and so my children are starting to want to be as scantily clad as possible. I’ve been horrified as I’ve shopped for summer clothes for my 5-year-old daughter–everything is spandex and mini and halter-topped and sex-kitten sandals *in size 5!* It’s awful. On the other hand, I scandalized my visiting teacher last year, when she was kind enough to visit teach me at the beach (because it’s the only place my children can play by themselves for 15 or 20 minutes and not end up bleeding), by letting the above-mentioned daughter change her clothes on the beach without any elaborate towel-draping subterfuge. So I’ve been thinking about the relationship between modesty and shame, and how to teach one with as little of the other as appropriate.