Thursday, February 12, 2015

They did it

John Dehlin is a psychology student at Utah State University in Logan. He is just finishing up his doctorate by doing an internship in counseling. John was a successful programmer, faithful LDS member who as called to teach teenagers in an early morning class when he was living in Seattle and working for Microsoft. In order to be a better teacher, he began reading about church history. The discrepancies he found between what he had been taught and the reality that was were so far apart, he decided to do more reading. From this came a "faith crisis" for John.  He wanted to talk to people who knew more than he did in order to resolve his dilemma and could not find anyone. If other people thought the same way, they certainly were not talking about it.
In order to find answers to his questions, he began a podcast called Morrmon Stories about 10 years ago.
In this series, John went to all the people he could think of who had studied Mormonism, believers and non-believers, life long members, converts and non-Mormons. He asked questions and listened to their answers. John made these podcasts available to anyone who wanted to listen. People told their stories. What is it like to be a Mormon today? What obstacles do we face trying to live in the 21st century?
His local leaders talked to him on a regular basis, everything was fine, until last summer. Suddenly he and another questioner were publicly threatened with ex-communication. Kate Kelly was excommunicated in July. John was on Sunday. My heart is full. It's very sad that asking questions carries such dire consequences.
John and his wife Margi, at his trial.

If you are gay and want to remain a member of the Church, you must not have any serious relationship with another person of the same sex. Speaking as someone who has been alone for almost 20 years, that's a very lonely way to live. If you want to have a relationship, then you are out. Again, I believe we are all made in God's image, are his children, and he loves us all. We should do the same. I keep wondering, is there a place for ME in the church feeling the way I do about this issue? I am still trying to find out.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Heart is Breaking

I feel fortunate that I have shepherded my four children to adulthood. There were times, (but that is another story) when I wasn't sure either they or I would make it. Not all parents are so fortunate. And there is nothing more tragic than the news that a young person has given up and taken their own life.

It is a fact that there are some estimated 5,000 homeless young people in Salt Lake City. There are many more boys than girls. The majority of the young men have been disowned by their parents, due to the fact they are gay. Where do we have the right to be so judgmental of our children and think we are doing the "right " thing by shutting them out of our lives.

Some typical young men who have the world ahead of them to conquer.

I belong to an online group that provides support and resources for young Mormons who have come out to the world. Many of them report such stories of hatred and violence towards them by such self-righteous bigots, who happen to be related to them. In this group, we often get calls for help from a young person who is in this kind of trouble. Since there are members from all over the US and even in some foreign countries, there are times when we can direct them to help. In doing this, we are able to save some lives, I hope.
But the word has just come down the way, that a young man wasn't able to work through his demons and he committed suicide. His family was OK with him, and helped him get into and through rehab, since he was dealing with his issues in an unhealthy way. But the small town (in the Jello belt) he lived in was not as kind to him. And he finally just could not handle things any more.
If this was a one-time occurrence, while tragic, it would be soon forgotten. But this is happening in our world, at least once a week. It seems that is how often this seems to be happening.
My mother was not raised as a Mormon, having converted after she married my father. One of the basic lessons she drilled into my head was that we are all children of our Heavenly Parents. We do not have the right to hurt or do things that would destroy them. If we are truly followers of God. It's so basic, I would think, but I guess others don't feel that way.
This is the main reason I feel so upset when I hear Church leaders condemn young people. You do not have the right to do that to any human being, based on sexual identity or any other factors.
Boy, do I sound like a liberal. But I am and my definition of God includes love for all of his children.

Excuse me, while I go to my room and cry.

Meeting old friends

I hate it when I close the cover on a book and sigh. There goes my friends, off into the world of fiction, and I am left with the eternal question, What happens next? Whether it be Mr, Darcy, Lord Peter, Inspector Gamache, I always have the letdown.
So, it was with much pleasure that I was able to reconnect with Joshua Martin, of Gabriel's Landing, and continue with the story of his remarkable family. Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, the initial novel in the series introduced us to Joshua, his wives, Sarah and Rachel, and daughter Louisa. We shared both the laughter and tears as a family that was so isolated from the rest of the world, comes to deal with life in the 21st century. Who can forget the hilarious scene where the kidnappers of the twins try to connect with the family to connect the ransom, not knowing that every block in Salt Lake City has its chapel and there is more than one bishop in the Mormon Church.
Our heroine is Zina, a younger child, who leaves the desert town and all of its prohibitions and rules, and finds herself learning about the kindness of strangers and the meanness of others. It takes us to Chicago, Minneapolis, Hawthorne Valley, Salt Lake City, and finally returns to Gabriel's Landing.

Zina learns so much about life, but most important, she learns about love and reconciliation and forgiveness. We find that she turns into a loving and wise woman as she discovers her strengths and talents, While cooking at home was a time to feed all her father's children, it leads her into a way to survive and share her life with others. 
I am not going to say much more about her journey, but I am so glad to meet another endearing character who is a part of Joshua's family. It is well worth the read. This is a kind of book you read late into the night because you have to know what happens next to these endearing characters. This is what makes or breaks a book for me: Do I like these people? What makes them so interesting? and, of course, What happens next? 
I am left with only one question, as I put down the book, "What happens to Amy?" With polygamy, there is always another child, another story.
Are we due for another sequel, Ms Jensen?