Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Would I Follow the Prophet?

I was never really the type to pray for personal revelation.  I didn’t feel a need for guidance and approval about every little decision.  I just sort of did what felt authentic for me, figuring that Heavenly Father would expect that I would use my mind, free agency, conscience and nudgings of the Holy Ghost, to navigate my way through life.  Why would He have given those blessings to me if he didn’t expect me to use them? I expected that if Heavenly Father disapproved, He would let me know.  Sometimes what initially felt authentic, didn’t quite feel ‘right’ and then I would hit my knees and ask if I was wrong.  Maybe this was a flawed approach.  I’ll never know.   It seemed to work for me most of the time. But, I ultimately became disaffected with His Church and lost faith (or the desire to have faith) in His existence so maybe it wasn’t working for me at all.

My approach troubled me in one way though.  It was not uncommon that choices and decisions that felt authentic and right for me didn’t align with the words of the General Authorities.  In those instances, I wondered if I should have been asking permission to proceed at every little step.  I mean, if Heavenly Father didn’t expect us to conform, in all cases, to the guidance of the Prophet, why did the Prophet always speak in such absolute terms?  Why did the Prophet speak in ways that seemed so all-inclusive/exclusive?  Why was I hearing, “If you are a women, this is what is expected…and if you are a man, this is expected…?”  Was The Plan of Salvation individualized or prescribed in bulk by gender?  (And why was it always by gender?) If the Prophet’s words were to be headed, for he could not lead me astray, then what purpose did personal revelation serve?  And, should I be actively asking for personal revelation, bugging Heavenly Father with every nitpicky detail, before proceeding? You see this circling line of thought.  You probably recognize it personally.

Sometimes, I wonder if - in a parallel universe in which I didn’t leave the Church - I would ever have arrived at the correct conclusion.  I am not sure I know what conclusion others had arrived at, if they had arrived at all.  I suspect that the more legalistic, literalistic, and dogmatic types follow the Prophet above all.  Perhaps, they never get personal revelation that contradicts the Prophet.  Maybe when personal revelation contradicts the Prophet, you aren’t doing it right (FAIL).  

If I were forced, I would guess that I would have gone with my gut first, personal revelation second, and if I happened to align with the Prophet’s prescription here and there, that would be good.  But, in that case, I have to admit, I would really just have been doing what I ultimately wanted and needed all along. 

***le sigh***

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Not So) Breaking News – Or “Don’t You Dare Forget…

…that you are still the world’s worst* daughter-in-law.  And, although it's not possible, you are worse than worst* because now there is a new perfect* daughter-in-law to whom we can compare you.  SHE calls.  Just to chat."

*Post posting edit: This post (as with most others) is LITERALLY littered with hyperbole and sarcasm.  FYI.

Their son, my husband, did something unthinkable*.  He married a woman who is the exact* polar opposite* of his mother (and 3 of his sisters). She's Mormon. I'm anti-Mormonism.  She's conservative politically.  I'm liberal politically.  She's traditional.  I find most traditions to be antiquated, offensive, and stifling.  She had 7 kids and stayed (stays) home to take care of them.  I might have two kids. I will also have a career. She defers* to her husband/priesthood leader.  I'm a loud feminist.  She is obsessed* with having everything* appear perfect. I am obsessed* with being correctly understood and being authentic, true to myself.  I don't think people faking perfection are healthy and the over-emphasis on being/appearing perfect doesn't exactly promote honesty in others. In fact, it puts pressure on others to hide differences and also appear perfect.  (I don't believe that any* Mormon genuinely knows any* other Mormon. Do you?)

We're different, she and I.  And, you know* that she is doing it all* right because she is (at least on the surface) totally* in-line with the teachings of The One True Church, Inc.  I am in the wrong. Always*.  I would be thrilled* if I could just be different and have that be okay.  But, she has God on her side and so it will never* occur to her that different isn't necessarily bad and that what works for her might not be universally right.  Afterall, God has only one plan - conformity. 
What can I say? I am what I am. (Exodus 3:14) I like what I am. I am happy (or at least content) with my life. I'm not changing.  I'm stubborn like that.

*Phew. Did I miss any? I beg you to correct me in the comments if I did.  I take criticism really*, really* well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Worst Callings

I would love to see a bunch of you post about your worst calling experiences.  Mine came shortly after I became engaged.  I hear this calling is popular to give to newly-weds but there must not have been any in our ward at the time because I got it when I was engaged.  Would you like to guess?

Yep, I was called to the nursery.  I think that many a bishop thinks this calling will make young newly-married and about-to-be-married women want to have babies.  I also think most bishops have no idea what it is like to spend an hour trapped in a tiny room somewhere with 10+ toddlers.

I lasted two weeks.  That's it. The first week was pretty bad.  But the second week was just like a barn yard fiasco.  Literally.  The other couple who were also called to work in the nursery were much older.  They had several sons close to my age.  He was a former single adult ward bishop, and one of those loud-mouthed know-it-all's that make Sunday School nearly intolerable.  (She later left him.  I hear she found some hot younger man.  Good for her.)  By profession, he was a veterinarian. (My dog's vet, in fact). They lived out in the sticks on some property and they had a bunch of animals.  I will never understand what possessed them to bring all of those animals to nursery.  Shall I list them in food chain order? Well, okay, they don't all fall on one food chain.
  • Mouse 
  • Gerbil
  • 2 Parakeets 
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Fish in bowl
  • Rabbit
  • Cat
  • 2 Dogs
  • Turtle
  • Iguana
  • Tarantula
  • Frog
  • Sheep
  • Goat
Kinda like this:

 + a few reptiles and farm animals

     And about 10 of these.

    Fortunately, all of the animals and children got along peacefully.  It was just like the Garden of Eden. Except that it was nothing like the Garden of Eden. So, I spent the hour trying to keep toddlers from killing animals, animals from killing toddlers, animals from killing/eating animals and basically dealing with a bunch of different types of shit and mucus.  Then, I walked straight into the bishop's office and said there was no way I was ever going back.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Some Things Never Change

    "At BYU to be a smart a difficult thing because they don't encourage that, or at least they didn't back in the early 1970's." - Margaret Merrill Toscano from this podcast.

    That was certainly the same experience I had at BYU some 30 years later.  Only, I would go further and say that to be a smart girl was discouraged, which is pretty sad when I consider the average GPA of admitted Freshman the year I started.  ALL of the girls there were "smart girls".  Some were more ambitious about academics and careers than others.  But, all had significant intellectual capabilities and potential.  I have serious problems with a "university" that discourages or fails to encourage intellectual growth and achievement in fully half of the student body.  I also have doubts that one can get a true education* at a university so lacking in diversity of thought, where tenured faculty are regularly fired for expressing points of view (no matter how well-researched and considered) that differ from the official church party line.  I believe it is impossible to be a truly tenured professor at BYU under those circumstances.  BYU stifles growth and intellect in students and faculty alike.  I will be quite disheartened if "smart girls", the other half of the student body, and the faculty are having the same experiences in 2030. 

    *I consider a true education to be one in which all new ideas, points of view, and history are presented openly and discussed freely, without threat of discipline for students or professors.  I am not contending that one cannot obtain a valid degree in a particular field of study at BYU.  Rather, I contend that the real point of a college education is not to learn WHAT to think, but to learn HOW to think. If a BYU student manages to learn how to think critically at BYU, it is only through fault (damn intellectuals) of their own.