Monday, December 29, 2008

I have such doubts

Ever since I was a little kid, I was fascinated by the testimonies that would say "I know X, I know Y and I know Z." I wondered what it meant to KNOW that something was true. Was there some sort of empirical test for these supposed eternal truths? If there was, I wanted to know about it. They talked a lot about prayer, scripture reading, fasting, paying tithing, pondering on the deeper matters of the gospel. But how did people come to a knowledge rather than an understanding of the truth? I was puzzled. As a person who likes to see answers right in front of him, I doubted. I still do. But it is now just a matter of definition.

This week I saw the movie Doubt. I loved the play for its rich ambiguity. The movie was less ambiguous, but several quotes from it stuck with me.

"You have no proof Sister!" says Father Flynn "No but I have my certainty" replies Sister Aloysius. At another point, if I remember correctly, there is discussion of certainty being an emotion. I tend to agree with this definition.

Frankly, despite our best intentions, we cannot know much of anything for certain. Sure we can know that the first person present indicative of the verb hablar is hablo but in a religious context we cannot know much of anything. That's why I walk by faith with doubt alongside me. Doubt is not something negative, despite what people say. I tend to think that in the Church we fear doubt because we think it divides us. In reality, as Father Flynn attests, Doubt binds us in a way that faith cannot. We all have doubts. We have doubts that we will make it through the day, doubts about the future. But isn't this the greatest way for us to bond? Share our doubts and sorrow and rejoice together, remember the promises in which we walk.

So at this time, for those of you who call me a heretic for espousing doubt I leave you with this quote.

We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts- Hugh B. Brown

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


A short blog today.

Emma didn't give up despite what the Mormons say
Brigham damned her to hell in Brigham style
All while she took care of Lucy and tried to press forward
Let's let God judge
But as for me in my house, we revere and cherish Emma. Forever more.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Bible and the Most Random Post. Ever.

I am trying to read the Bible before the end of the year, so in order to finish that goal I better keep this post short. Let me discuss some of the things I need to get done here or what I have done or what I plan to do next year. In other words this is a random post... of 10 things.

1. Snickerdoodles at one in the morning- Abby, Andrew, Graham, Spencer, Emiline, SarahJane, Liz- it was glorious.
2. The Conversion of Jeff Williams for the third time- I love this book because it depicts Mormon boys the way they are, not the way they seem.
3. The Bible- Paul is talking about lots of good stuff. I have got to hurry.
4. D&C- I want to read this this year. I also want to read the Book of Mormon
5. I want to make a book-list to see if I can read it. I think Civ will require a lot of reading but I am hoping I can have recreational reading time, if I manage my time correctly.
6. I want peace on earth. I am a sucker like that.
7. Better friendships and more meaningful discussion
8. Controversy and Editorial Writing
9. Exercise to vent.
10 MORE piano practicing.

So that's that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Right Way to Eat a Rhesus

Let's just admit it here and right now. This summarizes my feelings about school and life in general right now. After all, there is no right way to eat a rhesus.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mormon Worship

So lately, I haven't been feeling the same old religious services. I want something new and interesting. Don't get me wrong, Mormon worship is fascinating and great, but I want some changes.

Here are 10 Things I would like to see as in changes in meetings:

1. Straight music meetings- no talks, only singing or piano. Even if it's only congregational singing, I would love that.
2. Less administrative business.
3. Expeditionary Preaching- Really delving into passages of scripture
4. Reading Psalms Together. Aloud.
5. Prayers Together.
6. Less focus on white shirts- My bishop here said they are important to pass the sacrament because everyone knows white shirts are crucial.
7. Testimony meetings with less drivel.
8. Did I already mention testimony meetings with less drivel?- And can someone please stop the monthly testifiers who take up time?
9. Christ Centered Meetings- More so than we have right now.
10. Service Oriented Meetings- Let's go live our religion!

What about you? Leave your comments!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Facebook Note- Controversy? Not yet.

Earlier this week, I found out about an exhibit in the HFAC about homosexuals. It depicts two men side by side. One of these men is a homosexual and the other is one who supports them or is an advocate for them in the sense of they love them, but don't necessarily encourage them to be practicing homosexuals. The photography is well done, it is not a violation of the Honor Code. The project was pulled earlier this month and then was hung again in a fairly recent move, rehung. The artist expressed gratitude for the University's decision to rehang the photos. The University claims that it was due to some "misunderstanding." Here's the link about it:,5143,705269360,00.html

So here follows an editorial that I would like to publish but probably won't.

When Jesus Christ began his ministry, He didn't exactly join the ranks of the socially prominent or the popular. He spent His time eating with publicans, the poor, the sick, and the needy. He spent his time with the people whom the Pharisees deemed "evil" or "unclean." Jesus came to minister to all men, but some were too blind to listen. Those who actually fully appreciated Christ's message the most were those who were perhaps in the worst circumstances. They took His message to heart and followed His commandments. The sinners forsook their sins and bore their crosses. Also those who experienced mental anguish or conditions that they could not change, loved Christ's message and followed him with all their hearts.

Recently, a series of photographs appeared in the HFAC at BYU, depicting BYU, active Mormons who are trying their hardest to live their faith and who happen to be gay. These are the kinds of people who pray and fast that they won't be gay anymore. They also pray that God will lift this burden from their backs, that someday they will marry and have a family, and that someday, they will feel loved by their fellow men. Many of them won't ever do anything to violate the Law of Chastity. They will have celibate lives, waiting for the day when they shall receive their eternal reward.

In these photos, it doesn't just shows a gay person. There is a person beside them, acting as their friend, their supporter in their quest. Neither one is identified as the one who is actually gay. In the end, they are both depicted as more than just people- they are children of God. They have a divine heritage and a divine destiny. They are trying to keep the commandments. And yet, as they face the world, they often feel criticized, abandoned, and cast off from God's love.

But here on the earth, they can't see that eternal reward coming soon enough. Many gays in the Church have committed suicide, in hopes that they will find peace in the afterlife. They feel immense pressure to become straight, to become the "perfect Mormon." They were told if only you had fasted a little more, if only you had been more faithful, then you could be straight. They weep. They mourn. And all they want is love.

With Proposition 8 and all the media surrounding it, the Church did not come off as friendly or particularly loving to gays inside the Church. This was an unfortunate PR move. I know the Church loves gay people, they really do, but they just don't express it very well. I was, however, saddened by the member's reaction to the whole situation. I came out of this, even as a straight, white, Mormon from Salt Lake, hurt and frankly very confused. I felt as if many attacks were aimed towards gay people themselves. And from what I have gathered from many gay members, who are trying to remain faithful, they came out of this situation, very hurt.

I am proposing we stop the hate speech this instant. I am proposing that the next time someone tells you they are gay, you don't immediately think of them as a sinner. I am proposing that we realize that in reality, Jesus Christ is their Lord and their God too. They have just as much as a divine past, present, and future as you do. Gays in the Church are trying very hard to live their lives. And all they need is a little love. Where can they turn for this love? Right now, they have very few places to turn. Mostly they turn to the liberal or "radical" members of the Church. I am asking, pleading, in fact, that we all become the source for love. Don't attach a stigma to them.

And for the last time. Please. Just love them. That's what they need right now more than anything.

As for the display- I am saddened that it was taken down. I am frankly quite angry that it was taken down. The photographer was encouraging BYU students to look at gays as people. He wasn't supporting homosexual behavior. But on the other hand, I am glad that it is back up now. Maybe now we can all come to love people more.

So, in conclusion. Love them. Love them. Love them. Love them. I don't care if you think people have problems who are gay, if you believe it is a mental condition, if you believe it is a test, or if you believe it is simply a matter of genes, here comes our test and our condemnation. I imagine when we reach the judgment seat of Christ one of the first questions He will ask is "Did you love your fellow man- including the gays?"

I hope and pray we can say yes.

I bear you my testimony that God loves all his children, not just the straight ones or the white ones or the perfect ones. I bear testimony that Jesus died for everyone.

May we remember these lessons, I pray.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homework, Scripture Reading Rather than Blog

Today was acceptable. No shower. Better nourishment, I hope, and an A on my Civ paper. Tomorrow I need to shower hardcore, do laundry, finish homework. Do all the good things. Eat well. Say prayers. Read scriptures. You know, everything I should do.

Tonight I need to finish some homework and read my scriptures. I feel a great need to do this for some reason. I don't have really much else to say about my day. I hope I can do all that which is right. I am praying for that.

Also pray for good grades and help with all I do. Please.

And a South American apostle, of course.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Facebook notes make me see people as they really are

So earlier this week, I read one of those editorials that really bugged me and got me thinking about everything.

Here's the editorial:

County logo is silly

It came to my attention recently that Salt Lake County has changed the official government logo to include the word "diversity" in large letters over the top of the present logo. Good grief. For those of you with a public school education over the last 30 years and parents who may not have taught you what America actually stands for, "diversity" is another code word for "liberal socialism," which should only be allowed to exist on the left coast and the Eastern seaboard where it belongs. Salt Lake County is what it is. Salt Lake County residents need no code word in the government logo to tell them who they are. The logo should be changed back to what it was, a nice-looking county logo. I'm grateful to be living in Tooele County, where the only diversity we have is what grows at the tops of mountains and down in the valleys. Other than that, we're just Americans out there.

Jeff Black


This makes me pause to wonder about several things. Is socialism or liberalism as purely evil as some people would like to claim? Clearly there are some aspects that seem morally questionable but then and again conservatism is the same way. I have elected to become a liberal Mormon, having become more liberal at BYU for several reasons.

I must give some background towards my shift. Recently someone quoted this to me, insinuating that I was a "Godless Liberal."

"This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened. In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values . . . . It is always such an easy step from dogmatism to unfair play—especially so when the dogmatists believe themselves to be dealing with primitive people who do not know what is best for them . . . . If we let come into being a secular church which is shorn of traditional and divine values, where shall we go for inspiration in the crises of tomorrow? Can we appeal to the rightness of a specific regulation to sustain us in our hour of need? Will we be able to seek shelter under a First Amendment which by then may have been twisted to favor irreligion? Will we be able to rely for counterforce on value education aided in school systems which are increasingly secularized? And if our governments and schools were to fail us, would we be able to fall back upon and rely upon the institution of the family, when so many secular movements seek to shred it?" (Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb 1979, 69–73)

Are all liberals evil? I think this quote is often taken into a context where it is inappropriate. I would like to explain some views and open a dialogue between conservatives and liberals. For one thing, I will have you all know I am not a Godless liberal. Just because I oppose outlawing abortion does not mean I do not support the Q12 or its teachings. I just think ultimately

For one thing, I am opposed to abortion in the sense that elective abortion for social convenience is morally reprehensible but I believe that the legalization of abortion is absolutely critical. I also support the choice of the women. Does that mean that I support her actual decision? No. I also support abortion in cases of rape, incest, or severe deformity (this one is a little trickier). When I came to BYU I had slightly more conservative views, seeing abortion as a "necessary" social evil. But when I came to BYU, I think I realized more and more how certain people that wants to reject abortion want to reject abortion entirely. I feel like this would lead to illicit abortions and actually more heartache for the nation.

I support social programs. But only to a certain extent. God asked us to help the poor and needy and government programs try to do that. They need reforming, yes, but they try to serve a good purpose. That's why I get bothered sometimes when people say Obama is a socialist. I mean, I don't support hardcore socialism, but I will have to see what Obama does to believe that it is socialism. I am not fully supportive of Obama yet, but I am going to give him a chance. My political views are undergoing a shift and so I will have to wait and see. I would self-identify as a democrat.

People should pay taxes. Period. End of story. That is the liberal way.

I believe that my liberal ideals more fully express my beliefs about what it means to be Mormon. In my mind, Mormonism accepts all people, not just the socially "accepted" people. I feel conservatism often excludes groups and closes the dialogue. That's kind of my theme of life- a dialogue. We all need to have a dialogue. I don't think God would have us think exactly the same. That's what scares me. Are we raising a generation blind to the will of heaven? Are we raising a generation that cannot think on its own? I fear that we may be doing that exact thing. We walk by faith yes, but do we walk with blindfolds over our eyes? Do we not ask God to give us true knowledge? Do we walk in a tradition long-established or do we ask questions and question answers?

We MUST come to question answers, anything else is foolishness.

So I guess what I am really praying for is people to THINK more. Be more open. I beg you, don't just accept everything as gospel truth. Study it in your mind. Ask God with an open heart. And he will manifest the truth unto you.

"I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please."- Joseph Smith.

Now go and do it. Don't follow blindly. Please. I beg you.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Frost upon the dew of grass tip toes towards winter
My faith, failing, faltering, growing, all at once, I see the hope of
A bright new day begins, the shadows fleeing
Abide in me

Kindness will succor me. Mercy my Lord, I beg thee
Stay with me a while. Sup with me.
And yet in the creased morning
I see the light

I didn't take the token of the flesh that day
My palms sweating, mother questioning
reflected upon the purity
And at the table, apple beside me
I write


Theological discussion. From Apples to Understanding. And Zebras too.

Enough said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

South America Obsession

Today let me post some of my favorite quotes from a note I published on Facebook. Then I will give a brief discussion of my day.

You really think they have freedom in choosing? Don't ya think its what God specifically wants for his church? I think gratitude is essential whether or not he is white brown or blue. Do you not think that God already knows who it will be? And don't ya think that whoever it is will specifically be the right person to fill that position at that time? No matter his race? If someone ethnic is needed, Monson will be directed to call them. Same with a caucasian.

I think one challenge the church faces in filling the Q12 (cool abbreviation, btw) is that with the church based in Utah, leaders tend to be selected from among those living in Utah--and on many levels this makes sense: these are the people that the brethren are familiar with and are also often the people that can most easily take on the responsibilities of apostleship; their service will not take them as far from their families and communities, and I do think that is significant because they are taking on a life-time calling.

As a woman (and one who doesn't understand why gender should make such a difference in the church), I often find myself having to trust that God knows what he is doing in making most top church leadership positions available only to men. Since I do not oppose such obvious gender inequality (I won't call it unfair because I trust God's judgment-but it is definitely unequal), I feel I also need to trust that God knows what he is doing if he chooses to fill most of the top church leadership positions with men from a certain race, state, or career path.

Having said all that: I would be thrilled to see more diversity as well. Perhaps they can find someone from South/Central America living in Utah and choose him. :-)

oh Jacob, you really believe they choose? I would lov to see the diversity too! but its the Lord who chooses. and whoever is picked will be the right choice my dear Jacob.

I agree with what others have said... President Monson doesn't choose, the Lord does. While it would be cool to have someone from South America, it shouldn't be about where the man is from, but the man that he is.

Yes but as we learn to think more like God we learn to make the same decisions He would make, especially in cases like this. Sure, President Monson has his agency but ultimately the best man for the calling will be the one that is chosen. President Monson will make the selection that God would have him make. This isn't a political matter, apostles are not chosen to make a party look good and more diverse--I honestly believe that where a man is from should have very little to do with whether or not he is called as an apostle. The next apostle will be a man of God, the one that He has prepared for the positon. Ultimately we're all from the same place--are we not all children of God?

People have free agency to choose and act as they please. Why should we argue over other people's choices and criticize them for doing what they feel for themselves correct and acceptable?

I personally dislike negative comments and I feel upset that so many on here are arguing this. It gets them nowhere, breeds more contention, and where contention is, God cannot be.

Just let Jacob choose and act as he pleases and leave it at that. His actions are not going to affect your Eternal Life, but yours might.

Jacob--I couldn't support your views more. I find it fascinating how strongly some people have objected to your prayers for a South American apostle.

Yes: God knows. God chooses. God commands. God will do right.

But isn't this true in every situation? And aren't we commanded to pray anyway? We are told in the scriptures that our Father knows what we have need of before we ask and that He has power to do His own work--and then we are told to pray always, for our needs and concerns and righteous desires.

And so we pray. And when our righteous desire is for over 4 million members to be represented by an apostle chosen from their culture, we pray for that.

One year and almost every summer of my life has been spent in this fantastic country, most of the summers in Utah. 5 years have been spent in South and Central America; 12 years have been spent in various countries in Europe. It's different over there; I've seen first-hand. The church is different and has different needs. The members are different; the investigators are different. We have a man in the First Presidency representing Europe now; he is well-loved there and can connect with many Europeans in ways no man raised in Utah can.

Why criticize the hope that the next apostle called might represent Latin Americans?

And the cream of the crop:

The prophet doesn't have agency in choosing I believe at all he is God's mouthpiece and God will not let him lead him lead the church astray the right person will be chosen or President Monson will cease to be president. And on the thought of issues based on locality, any man help the help of the Lord can receive all insight needed to solve problems that can be solved.

I don't get this. What is going on within our culture that there must be this must tension over an opinion? Gosh. Let's not let this happen. Okay? That's all I have to say about my day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anger and Sadness in a Vat of Prayer

So I got some feedback on my Book of Mormon paper today. I didn't really like what he had to say, despite the fact that it was true. My Book of Mormon teacher has set me off a little bit, he is too intense, not terribly personable, despite being a good teacher. So many of my friends are "ga-ga" whereas, I am not really happy with him always. I can't tell if he is too conservative in his views or if I am just being picky. I also can't get that "put your phone away" comment out of my mind. Which is vaguely related to this. I like BYU but ultimately, I think I have to learn to disengage from people who are going to cause me to become angry. That's the balance between anger and love. I have to do both. Somehow.

And today, Elder Wirthlin died. I was very, very sad. His talks on charity touched me deeply and always will be touching to me. His influence, for me, was possible the greatest of any General Authority for some reason. I didn't always like his talks, but there is something about some of his statements that really comfort me and offer me hope. I cherish his memory and hope that many will come unto Christ due to his writings and talks. I am also praying that President Monson chooses someone from South America or Mexico. That has been my prayers for months. Years. I am praying so hard for it. Maybe my prayers will be in vain. But please, please, please, let's hope they come true. I have faith that eventually we will have one, but I am praying extra hard this time- and I mean I am thinking about it always.

So, my sadness and anger are in a vat of prayer. I am going to be praying a lot these next few weeks.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So I fell a little behind

Tonight, I need to blog a bit about the weekend and use this tie to get back into the swing of the blog. I won't take long since I am busy, obviously, with finals coming up and other tests to deal with.

Sunday- hard time getting up, talk, priests quorum, dinner, SarahJane and Carson drove me home, tunnel singing, trying to offer comfort, etc.

Today- Got up, Honors 150, Missionary Prep, lunch at the Skyroom- amazing, studying and working on my composition in the library, SarahJane read scriptures, Spanish class, 87/100 on the test- good enough for me, verb quiz on saber- I think I got 100%. I really like Prof Fails! He makes Spanish fun and interesting. FHE at our place- Jason gave a lesson on scripture study and we all gave our favorite scripture, 12 days of Christmas for a certain group in our ward. Civ 4, homework, Facebook, blogging, and in the next few minutes reading and bread. To bread to bread I think.

Anyway, I am feeling good ish. I got called out at tunnel singing by this guy in my ward for having my phone out. Let me just vent now and say I was upset- I was texting someone who is having a terrible time- but I really don't care. I just need to learn to give up the pettiness. It will come.