Category Archives: Life

Letting Go Some More

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

We all need all of those things every day, even on good days. When the days aren’t so good, we need them more. Letting go of our desires and wishes and wants and needs and letting God drive the bus is hard. I remember days when it felt like the sun would not rise if I forgot to get out there and push to make it happen. Realizing that making my knuckles white was accomplishing little to nothing, and might actually be working against what was best was very hard. The best thing about hitting yourself in the face with a hammer over and over is that it feels so good when you stop.

My contribution to the world is small — a very small drop in a very large ocean. It will not accomplish what I want it to accomplish. It will not earn the gratitude and attention I would like to receive from it in my neediness. But it is mine to contribute, and enough drops in the ocean can make things different. If I do what God wants with it, then it will be made best use of. If I can let go of those wants, desires, expectations and even needs (hardest to justify, but not the hardest to let go of), and allow God to direct me, my needs are taken care of, and things work out for the best.

I just wish it wasn’t so hard.

Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

This is a response to some questions from a friend who has been in a number of abusive relationships and marriages, and is a devout mainstream Christian. Her questions sprang from a vow she made as a small child to marry once and forever. Looking at that in the light of some of the statements found in the Bible regarding, divorce, women and remarriage, she wondered if she was now destined to be single forever because she had broken this vow and the rules shown in these statements. My response is closely tied to the questions you’re not seeing, but I tried to put enough context in that you could see basically what I was responding to.

Yeah. Many have made such vows to marry once and forever, and lots of clean and pretty young Mormons with a couple or three small children and a few years into the process look down their noses at those who were not able to make it work. Life has a way of teaching us that there is more to it than we understand. I can’t speak too much to the Catholic perspective. I respect it, but I don’t understand or share all of it that I do understand.

Yeah, I know some folks get hung up on that notion of “wife forever” in a coercive way. I am not a biblical inerrantist, so hanging on a few proof-texts really isn’t my style. My personal theology includes the notion that God is not a jerk. He’s not going to force someone to be miserable through eternity for things not their fault or for bad choices they have repented of. There is a Mormon notion that God doesn’t function through compulsory means, and that individual choice is eternally protected. By “notion” I mean “core doctrine,” in this case. So, there isn’t really much doctrinal support for the notion of wives-as-chattel, and strong (IMO) doctrinal opposition to it. Continue reading Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

s/(Priesthood Ban)/Temple and $1/gi

A podcast I was listening to yesterday pointed out that what I’ve been calling the Priesthood Ban was also a ban on black women entering the Temple.  This was not a product of them not having the priesthood, since non-black women don’t hold the priesthood either, but were not barred from the Temple.  So I think the proper label for that is the Temple and Priesthood Ban, and I wish every place you’ve ever seen me use the former term to be considered to be the latter.  Thus, the title of this post (which will probably make no sense to people not familiar with regular expressions — sorry).


Report on Batch 3 of Crockpot Applesauce

The parameters

This batch was different from previous batches in that I did no coring of the apples of any kind — just cut them into quarters and dropped them in the crock.  I used a cheap, small Walmart bag of Granny Smiths and Golden Deliciouses, along with a small paper bag of whatever was closest to the door in Haggen.  I added no water, but did add seasoning and lumps of cane sugar for the cooking phase.  And, then, I used a screen colander to squeeze the stuff through.

The Results

The screen colander did a much better job of getting stuff through than my plastic colander that only has holes on the bottom of it (nothing up the sides),  However, I have a bunch more stuff left in the colander, and I think I’m going to move it to the plastic colander so it can let through more of the pulp without letting through the seeds, skins, and the like. I’ve had two bowls of the stuff that got through the screen, and it was very liquidy, but very tasty.  And there was no problem from not adding water — it cooked down to a pulpy paste with a little stirring after just a couple of hours in the crock pot.

For Next Time

I’m considering not doing all the seasoning in the cooking phase.  I’m not sure.  I’m also thinking about taking some of the pulpy stuff I get out, after I’ve done the liquidy stuff out, for apple butter.  And I’m told we have the Foley food mill around here someplace, and that would make this a lot easier.  If I can find it.

Ether 12:27

I wrote this as a contribution to the Mormon Stories Sunday School blog, so it could be included in the Mormon Stories Sunday School podcast. 

During a difficult part of my life, while dealing with addictive and compulsive behaviors, I discovered Ether 12:27, and found it a great help in changing my life.  I had read it many times, quoted it not a few, and liked it prior to that point, but I didn’t discover its meaning until I was in that place.

Before, it was a nice, kinda gauzey scripture about how God will make weak things strong, with the emphasis on the strength.  But, when I looked at it more closely, I noticed there was much more to it than that.

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.”

This seems counterintuitive.  If we come to God, we won’t get a pat on the back, we will be shown our weakness.  That doesn’t sound very pleasant.

“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;”

This does not say that God gives us specific weaknesses — it says he gives us the state of being weak.  I think this is the most misread part of the verse — I know I read it the other way for a long time.

He gives us this state of being weak to give us the opportunity to be humble.  This implies that, without being inherently weak, we would not be able to be humble — very compatible with King Benjamin’s formulation that “the natural man is an enemy to God.”  Out of the box, left to ourselves, we aren’t friends to God, but, because of this gift of weakness, we have a chance to be humble and rebuild our relationship with God.

“and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me;”

And if we humble ourselves before God, then, and only then, is his grace sufficient for us.  God’s grace truly is amazing, but we have to prepare ourselves to receive it through this process of humbling ourselves before him if we are to receive it.

“for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”

If we add faith in God (the first principle of the Gospel) to this humbleness before God, then he will make “weak things” become strong unto us.  That’s the first time in the verse we have plural weak things, rather than the state of being weak.  Might this mean that our individual weaknesses (in the sense of Dorcas Lane’s “one weakness”)?  Or are other people in our lives “weak things?”  I don’t know, but I think this part, for all that it’s the part people seem to notice in the verse, is the least important part of the formulation.  We don’t need to understand in detail exactly what will be made strong, because the payload is more to be found in the previous clause.

If we humble ourselves before God, his grace is sufficient for us, and we also need to have faith in him.  Humility is understanding our own lowness, and his greatness.  Faith in him is trusting that he is there, that he loves us, that he wishes to help us and heal us, and that he will do so if we will allow him to.  This became my plan for recovery, and, over a period of years, it helped me through quite a bit of healing and growth.

Having Faith in Christ

This is a talk I gave four years ago that I found while looking for something else on my hard-drive. This is possibly the hardest Sacrament Meeting talk to write that I’ve ever written.

Having Faith in Christ

24 August 2008

I’d like to start my remarks today with an annoying nit-pick. While preparing them, I considered calling this challenging a false doctrine, which would likely have grabbed your attention, but, on reflection, I decided to call it an annoying nit-pick. I have heard a number of times that the first principle of the gospel is faith – truth to tell, I have said this before. However, this is not completely true, and I’m certain that most of the children in the Primary know what’s wrong with saying that. The first principle of the gospel is not just faith – it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For the next several minutes, I’m going to discuss the difference between faith and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, why they are absolutely necessary, and how we can develop the faith we most need.
Continue reading Having Faith in Christ

From “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt

Morality binds and blinds. This is not just something that happens to people on the other side. We all get sucked into tribal moral communities. We circle around sacred values and then share post hoc arguments about why we are so right and they are so wrong. We think the other side is blind to truth, reason, science and common sense, but in fact everyone goes blind when talking about their sacred objects.

If you want to understand another group, follow the sacredness. As a first step, think about the moral foundations, and try to figure out which one or two are carrying the most weight in a particular controversy. And if you really want to open your mind, open your heart first. If you can have at least one friendly interaction with a member of the “other” group, you’ll find it far easier to listen to what they’re saying, and maybe even see a controversial issue in a new light. You may not agree, but you’ll probably shift from Manichaean disagreement to a more respectful and constructive yin-yang disagreement.

These are the final two paragraphs of the non-summary part of the book, and they capture quite well the reasons why this book and author have really resonated with me.  I really recommend this book to everyone, because it gives an excellent explanation of why it is that we see moral issues the way we do, and why we see those who don’t share our personal morality as harshly as we do.

I particularly endorse the process laid out in the second paragraph.  The recently-deceased Stephen Covey referred to this as Habit Five: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  A little intellectual humility can really go a long way in the transition from being somebody who is always right, to somebody who is learning and right more frequently.

Religion and Science

Richard Dawkins, who nominally started this whole conversation, and whose picture is here to allow me to post this to Pinterest.

This is a collection of excerpts from a conversation I took part in with some other uncorrelated Mormons on Facebook  (some with 5+ scores on the Dawkins Scale), in response to an article pointing out how Richard Dawkins had “admitted” that he wasn’t totally certain of the nonexistence of God (which was determined by several in the thread to be neither news nor as significant as the person posting the link seemed to think).

My part began quite innocently, in response to the person who originated the thread saying “I think it is foolish to believe that we can see, or have access, to everything that is.”  I said:

It’s also unscientific. Science is limited to things we can see or have access to. It has nothing of value to say about anything beyond that, [n]or can it predict how long or far we will be able to mine the pile of things we can see or have access to to bring us further understanding or technical progress.
Continue reading Religion and Science

Adventures in Food

I’ve been experimenting with food lately, and learning as I go.  It all started when I joined Pinterest, and saw tons of food links posted, especially for preparing freezer/crock-pot meals.  I looked them over, and found some ideas I thought I could use.  Due to odd food aversions (tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers) intolerances (lactose, eggs) and diabetes (carbohydrates other than fiber), food has been problematic for me for a long time.  I spent some time years back and developed a cooking repertoire that was fun and useful when the kids were around — pretty good at cooking up beef, chicken and pork roasts and making gravy from the drippings, for instance — but those tend to be a bit overkill when cooking for one or two, so I’ve steered away from food that I need to prepare much, as it tends to become something I throw away because I never quite got the oomph to get started on it.
Continue reading Adventures in Food

Some truth about depression.

It’s not wrong to feel bad. The pain will fade in time, and there will be good and bad both. This pain tells you that there is more to know than what you already knew. In time, more will be revealed. Now is not forever. It only feels like it.

You will live. And the day will come that you will be glad that you did. And that will be good.