Category Archives: Life

TBM Guide: Definitions and concepts

Groups/types of Mormons:

Belief classifications:

  • Traditionally Believing
    • The TBM.  Generally believes this group to be the only real Mormons, with other groups not really being Mormon.
  • Literally believing
    • Refers to literally accepting every spiritual claim of the Church and any of its leaders, and of scriptures.  This means a very literal six day creation, a young (6,000 year old Earth), literal global flood, etc.  Generally describes the TBM.  “The scriptures say it.  I believe it.  That settles it.”
  • Nuanced Believing
    • Believes in God, Restoration, Priesthood, etc., but with understandings that are less than literal.  Generally make literalistic TBMs uncomfortable
    • less literally believing
      • Looks at the same events that a literal believer takes at face value for their symbolic meaning.  Not usually associated with the TBM,  but some TBMs are open to less literal readings.  Sometimes “Mystical believers.”
    • Non Believing
      • Cultural (only) Mormons
        • Raised in a Mormon setting.  Generally model themselves around Cultural Jews — identifying themselves with the people and identity, but not necessarily as devout or believing the tenets of the religion.
    • not literally believing
    • Agnostic
      • Literally means “I don’t know.”
    • Atheist
      • Don’t believe in God.
      • Believe there is no God.
  • Some categories of less/not literally believing Mormons:

    • Sunstone Mormons
      • People involved in the Sunstone Foundation, whether through subscribing to Sunstone Magazine, or attending any of the Sunstone Symposia.
    • Dialogue Mormons
    • Bloggernacle Mormons
    • Prefix-Mos
      • A term I use to describe a number of categories of Mormons that are outside the box.  Such as:
      • Ex-Mormons
        • People no longer affiliated with the Church.  Stereotyped as “angry,” and more likely to attack the Church and become anti-Mormon from the perspective of the TBM
      • Post-Mormons
        • People no longer affiliated with the Church, who accept that their time with the Church is over, but without the assumption that they are angry about it.
    • NOMs
      • New Order Mormons, who are trying to make a space for themselves, and a less-literal understanding of Church matters.  May or may not have retained a belief in Church truth claims, but what belief and testimony they have will be much more nuanced than what it was at an earlier date.

The TBM’s guide to the wide world of Mormonism

I think I’m going to start some writing under this title and might turn it into a podcast, because I see lots of TBM oriented podcasts and lots of nontraditional Mormon podcasts, but never do the twain seem to meet.  My friend and very TBM blogger Kathryn Skaggs, who blogs as a Well-behaved Mormon Woman, tried addressing this gap a few years ago, and got jumped by her readers for labeling them.  I think staying with some explicitly non judgmental defintion of terms  might help avoid this outcome.  but, then, that’s my standard approach, which tends to produce no response, rather than outraged responses.

Thoughts on this plan are, as ever, requested.

The joys of learning languages

Somewhere I recently saw a shared post on FB talking about moments of understanding what others are saying in other languages when they clearly think you don’t understand them — I even saw something talking about how it is rude to be that person without letting people know.

For those who don’t know, I’ve some background in Spanish, French, Greek, and Latin.  I’m not actually fluent in any of them, although I can keep up best in Spanish.  My first Greek class was taught at Whatcom Community College to help students and the faculty member who were going to be going on a trip to Greece (I wasn’t going to go on the trip, but couldn’t turn away a chance to learn Greek).  The dialect of Greek being taught was demotic, meaning the kind of Greek spoken in Greece by native speakers today, as opposed to older dialects like Koine (virtually identical to New Testament Greek), Attic or Homeric.  Or the phony constructed Erasmian, put together by a German theologian who never ever heard Greek spoken by someone fluent.  There are major wars fought among Helenophiles as to which dialect Greek should be taught in, particularly which pronunciation should be used for the letters in the alphabet.  Just so you know.

During the class, I memorized a handful of phrases that I thought could be useful going forward.  A major one transliterates to “Den katalabayno,” which means “I don’t underestand.”  The utility of that should be obvious.  Some years later, while I was still cashiering at Target, the customer I was ringing up was a mother, who was chewing out her son in Greek.   I couldn’t begin to follow what she was saying, but her last sentence ended with “Katalabayne?”  Which I repeated, because I recognized it.  And then I remembered and said “Den katalabayno,” as I tried to figure out what it meant.  It took me about two more sentences to get to the point where I understood that she had finished her scolding of her son with “Do you understand?!”  At which point she realized I knew what she had said and stopped talking to him in Greek, and I talked about how I understood that which got us to the end of the transaction, and she left.

Lately, my Greek exposure is pretty much limited to postings from my FB friend Konstantia Makre.  She posts pretty pictures most days with a caption of “????????”  which transcribes to something similar to “Kally-merra” if you don’t try to roll the “r,” and which means “Good day,” or “Good Morning.”  She’ll post other things in Greek, and I feel pretty good if I can sound it out and recognize a word or two, which I often can’t.

If you chance to meet a frown, respect it.

If you chance to meet a frown,
Do not let it stay.
Quickly turn it upside down
And smile that frown away.
No one likes a frowning face.
Change it for a smile.
Make the world a better place
By smiling all the while.
I probably learned this song when I was three-years old.  I disagree with it.  Negative feelings are legitimate and valuable and doctrinally solid.  They aren’t necessarily a sign that anything is wrong.  They are a sign that life isn’t always fun and games.  As mentioned in a podcast episode I was listening to earlier today, Jesus in the Garden wasn’t (probably) smiling while begging God to release him from what he was there to do, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t okay for him to do it.

Continue reading If you chance to meet a frown, respect it.

Feelings, wo wo wo….

Feelings are tricky things.  It’s not that they’re bad, or weird, or unusual.  We all have feelings all the time.  And that’s a good thing — it has to do with why we exist, I think.  Everybody has a right to all of their feelings, and those feelings are valid.

But having strong feelings about something doesn’t make you right or wrong about it.  It’s just another thing — perhaps relevant to mention, but more likely something good to think about when it comes to the issue to see where the feeling might come from and if it’s worth reconsidering.  Dialectic Behavioral Therapy teaches the idea of Emotional Mind and Rational Mind (derived from Eastern Philosophies, iirc), and of balancing those together to form what is called Wise Mind.  Jonathan Haidt talks of these as Emotional Mind being an elephant, and Rational Mind being the driver of that elephant — Rational mind may be able to direct the elephantine Emotional Mind in most given moments, but Emotional Mind is big and strong and can go where it wants to go, whether the driver likes it or not.  Anybody who has made a really stupid decision because it felt good or right will understand why Emotional Mind is the elephant.

I tend to discount the value of what Emotional Mind wants when talking to others, in favor of pushing them toward Rational Mind, trying to find a Wise Mind balance when it comes to whatever ideas are being discussed, especially when it comes to making choices.  I’ve just seen too many really bad results from Emotional Mind-based decisions to be really comfortable letting that be the guide.

Mom’s Pancake Recipe

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup water

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Mix flour and 1 cup buttermilk. Add and mix oil, then eggs. In separate container, mix baking powder, baking soda, salt, and water. Add to batter mixture and add remaining buttermilk as needed for desired consistency.

Why this sustainer isn’t opposed to “any opposed.”

I sustain the leaders of the Church as prophets, seers and revelators.  Recently, a group of people who do not openly voted against them at General Conference, setting off a small firestorm of angry and uncharitable comments about them throughout the TBM community.  Although I disagree with their opinion on this matter, I don’t see what they’ve done as terrible or wrong.  I see it as a desperate act of those who are trying to have their concerns heard, if not addressed, and I see it as a failed effort, as the leaders of the Church, in the voice of Pres. Uchtdorf, once again refused to listen to them, and referred them to local leaders who will not pass the details of those concerns along, and will likely threaten their membership.   Continue reading Why this sustainer isn’t opposed to “any opposed.”

I’m not in love.

As much as I love the song of that title by 10cc, I mean it in a very different way than the ironic sense of the song. I am enjoying meeting women and dating, but I’m not deeply infatuated with anybody, or pushing in a “let’s get married” direction. I really want to be clear with everyone about this, so nobody gets the impression that a date means exclusive dating, and a path to engagement and marriage. Dating is, for me, about getting to know people better, including myself. And I’m doing some writing around here as a way of exploring some of the questions that are arising from those conversations. There’s something else I particularly wanted to talk about here, and I’m forgetting what it is about every half-sentence. Think, think, think.

Romantic Things.

Oh, yeah. I love doing romantic things. A lot. The problem with doing romantic things while dating around in a non-serious non-exclusive fashion is that it can tend to make things look more serious and exclusive than I am. So, if I show up for a date with a (pink, yellow or white) rose, that’s not a sign that I’m going to propose. I just wanted to bring a flower. I would use a red rose if I was going to bring a rose to a proposal, FWIW.

Physical Affection / Physicality.

I like hugging.  I don’t have to be in love to hug someone.  I have learned that just hugging people isn’t always well received.  But I’m generally open to hugs from pretty much anybody, so, if you’re reading this, you can feel free to request a hug anytime I’m around.  Or just hug me.  Probably.

Another kind of physicality I can offer is rubbing/massaging necks, backs, shoulders and feet.  I’ve been doing those things since I was quite young, and am reasonably good at them.  Feel free to request one if you have the need.

My Separation Part 2– What I learned (and how).

 

For those who have read the stories of how my separation started, you will know that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was key in getting me on a more productive path of healing and growing. Some time later, her show was picked up by the radio station I listened to the most, and they carried it for many years. I love Dr. Laura deeply in my heart, for the help she was to me both in my call to her, and over the years on her show and in her books. I learned from her the importance of prioritizing my children’s needs over my own, and the importance of respecting marriage, and preparing to be in a marriage before trying to be in one again. Her butt-kicking style was very comforting to me (after the call). Sometimes people in a bad space need to be reminded of their own power and their own contribution in getting into that bad space, so they can get themselves out permanently. It’s surprising how often the commonality between all of our lives problems is that we are right there making the choices that create those problems.

ACT:

Abuse Control Training was the place where I was taught new approaches to relationships based on equality and respect, rather than power and control. I learned about how gender-role expectations that I had never thought about had guided my belief system, and, subsequently, my thoughts and actions in ways that had been unfair and hurtful to Faith, and to me. I took responsibility for my belief system and made some adjustments to it that made it more comfortable for me. And I learned how to let go of my marriage and Faith, because nothing I could do or say at that point would undo what I’d already done. I created my abuse website around this time as a way of sharing links to useful resources I’d found online in those early days of the WWW. I also generated some questions people could use to assess if they were involved in abusive relationships, and some resources that could be useful to them if they saw that they were. And I spent time online in spaces frequented by survivors of all kinds of abuse, including Child Sexual Assault. After completing the year-long ACT program, I was asked to come back to the program to help co-facilitate the groups, which I did for several years. This continued my learning quite a lot. I found I had useful things to say to men and women who had been abusive in their relationships. And I got involved with the local DV community, making friends and sharing my perspective with leaders in it and with the community.

Early in my time at ACT, I noticed that I was getting lots of information about how to work better with my wife, who I rarely even spoke with, but I needed to learn more about how to deal better with my children. So I looked around and found Parents Anonymous, through which I was able to learn the 1-2-3 Magic program developed by Dr. Thomas Phelan, which was very helpful to me with them, and has proven quite applicable to my work with children since.

Kids:

And then I took my perspective and experience to the Human Services field, through employment in the Child Welfare System, where I’ve been working now for 13 years. I was working with children from homes like the guys from group – in one case, I worked with the child of someone I knew from group. There were new things to learn, but this kept my head in the realities of family dysfunctions, their causes and consequences.

Divorce lists:

A year or two into this, I discovered some mail-lists for LDS people experiencing divorce. I subscribed to one, and found the interactions there quite useful. A while later, I was contacted by some of the list members who decided to leave that list because they didn’t care for the style of the list-owner so they could form a new one that they wanted me to participate in. I was invited in as a co-owner of the list, and that grew to a group of four lists, three that I co-own, and one that I took over after a list-member was encouraging others to treat their ex-wives abusively and potentially murderously. I did my best to report his information to law enforcement, as it sounded like he was planning to kill his ex-wife, quite confident that he could get away with it. I did a lot of listening to the mostly women on these groups, and added their input to my healing/growing process. I developed a much richer and more realistic model for understanding the world and relationships and marriage due to them. And made some life-long friends in the process.