Tuesday, December 5

Getting Lost

Once many years ago I got lost. It was awful- let me tell you about it. It was during my fifth year of girls camp and I was a YCL (youth camp leader). For those of you out there unfamiliar with girl's camp all 16 and 17 year old girls are assigned to a different ward and act as assistant leaders for that ward, and for the whole stake. Part of my YCL duties included going on the second year hike with the 14 year old girls and a few leaders. This hike had to be 4 miles long and we had to cook a meal on the trail. We started out at 8AM and hiked for two miles, we stopped to cook breakfast then continued the hike. It was around the third mile that things started figuratively going downhill.

The person leading the hike was a very experienced woman who had spend decades hiking the trails in the region both by herself and with her husband. There was one problem though, she has really bad self esteem. So when the girls started feeling tired they started complaining, and the ill-advised cries of "we're lost!" came from one or two voiciferous girls who hoped that making such statements would get them back to camp faster. The other leaders, who were not familiar with the area (and oddly enough were all men), heard these cries and 'held a meeting' to determine the best course of action. The lady in charge insisted that the trail would get us back to camp, but was 'less sure' of how many more miles it was. Finally the woman caved and agreed that we should try to find a different route. This was the first of many such meetings.

Over the next several hours we broke every rule of hiking and getting lost that I have ever heard of. We did all of the following at least once:
Left the trail
Jumped a fence
Kept wandering even after we knew we were really lost
Split up (The female leader took off on her own at the behest of the other leaders)
Went in circles

Had I been older and more forthright I would have spoken up. As a youth leader I was given the task of keeping track of the younger girls while the real leaders had ther many meetings, no-one cared to hear my opinions. It was only when the diabetic girl in the group started to complain of feeling faint that the remaining leaders were finally persuaded to stay put and wait to be found. I gathered the rest of the girls and commenced building a fire, thinking that if we did end up having to stay the night we would need a fire, perhaps those looking for us would see the smoke and at the very least it kept us busy (and hey, who doesn't like building a fire?).

About a half hour after the fire got built we were found (40 yards or so from a road) and a truck was brought to drive us all back into camp. The other leader who had gone off by herself finally arrived at camp at about 8pm, very tired and moderately dehydrated.

I suppose there are a few morals to my story. The first is that they really mean it when they say what to do when lost- Stay Put, Don't leave the trail and Stay together. Had we done that from the get go we would have been found much much earlier. Then again, I wouldn't have this great story to tell. The second, even though you may not be a real leader, you should still speak up when the real leaders are violating common sense. Lastly, when you know you're not lost you know you're not lost, letting others believe you know less than you know isn't humility it is foolishness.

Friday, December 1


There was a news item that I found via Digg. The Reader's Digest Verision is this- A 200 lb 6th grader at a local middle school was tasered by a female school resource officer for attacking a female classmate. Many details about this are generally unknown (esp. to me), such as what level of force was attempted before bringing out the taser, the availability of other adults, the nature or severity of the fight between the students etc. One semi-important thing that is known, is that the boy was tasered twice, because after the first shock he attempted to continue the fight.

Whether or not the Taser was excessive force, or better or worse than a punch in the face was discussed at length in the comments on Digg, so I'm not too interested in discussing that. What I do want to take issue with is the number of comments to the effect of: "If this woman couldn't subdue the kid without resorting to a taser then she has no business being a cop." Comments such as these were frequently accompanied by assertions that the police force was so much more effective and less trigger-happy before women could become cops.

Part of the reason these comments bothered me is that my sister just recently graduated from the police academy and is now working as a baliff. Part of her training (and I am under the impression, all police training) included being tasered so that the police understand at least to some extent what it feels like, and to avoid potential tigger-happiness. Often they video tape each officer being tasered, and let them keep the video, a quick search on YouTube turns up a large number of videos like this. As a unrelated-yet-interesting aside, my sister showed us her video, and unlike all the videos I've seen of people being tasered she didn't make a sound. I'm not even sure that the small gasp I heard was in pain, or just a by-product of the involuntary muscle contractions. During the rest of the video all other other officers (mostly men) kept glancing at her sideways the newfound respect they had for her was obvious.

Back to the should women be cops issue: There is the obvious elephant in the room of statistical averages. While there are women like my sister who are bigger and tougher than the average man, women are more likely to be smaller, and physically weaker (at least in upper-body fighting strength) than men are. However, this does not mean that small women (and men) should not become cops just because they are likely to encounter someone bigger and stronger than they are. Just as there are statistical outliers among women, there are men who are bigger and tougher than not just the average man, but everybody. These large men are bigger than all cops, not just the female ones, and any cop would have to use a taser on these guys rather than attempt to subdue them with physical force.

Mostly I just wanted to get it off my chest that having a woman, even a small one as a resource officer in a middle school is not unreasonable. One would expect a trained adult woman to be larger and physically stronger than the vast majority of middle school students. That there are statistical outliers, like the 200 lb 11 year old involved in this incident, should not be used as an argument against employing women, or the small of stature in general, as police officers. Such an argument- taken all the way to its logical conclusion- would require hiring only giants as police. It would also negate the need for weapons because such large strong people would never need to use a taser instead of their own strength to gain control of a situation. And, oddly enough, I'm a big fan of a police force armed with tasers. Unlike a punch or whack with a nightstick the damage done by a taser does not vary with the cop using it, and can be more easily regulated than hand-to-hand physical altercations.

Monday, October 30


The primary program was yesterday morning, and was a rousing success in every way. The kids all said their parts, even though one kid was too scared to sit on the stand and had to be escorted to the microphone by his mother to tearily deliver his part. They sat quietly and avoided making faces at the congregation. Lastly (and most importantly to me) they sang all of the songs perfectly and loudly! Even more shocking was that they sang without visual aids except for 'Follow the Prophet' in which there is a tendency to sing the verse about Adam over and over again except changing the names for the other prophets (ie, Noah was a prophet, first one that we know. In place called Eden...). Also after we were done singing the last song I looked out at the congregation and saw more than a few people wiping their eyes. And the kids had pizza, and got candy so I'm pretty sure everyone came out of this thing feeling good about it.

Now with next program a comfortable year away I am setting out to expand the abysmally small repetoire of the primary. As a group they know very few songs - so I've made a list of songs(below) that I think they should know. I plan to go through the list and find out which ones they secretly know, and which ones I'll have to teach them. We're starting out next week Thanksgiving style with "Children all over the World."

Here's the bulk of my list:
-I'm trying to be like Jesus
-Love is Spoken Here
-When we're Helping (we're happy)
-When Joseph went to Bethlehem
-Army of Helaman
-Teach me to walk in the Light
-Tell me the Stories of Jesus
-The Chapel Doors
-The wise man & the foolish man
-Stand up
-Reverently, Quietly
-Reverence is Love
-Rain is falling all around
-Our Door is always open
-Nephi's courage
-I'll walk with you
-In the Leafy tree-tops
-Jesus once was a little child
-My hands
-I feel my Savior's love
-I pray in Faith
-Every star is different

Any suggestions for songs every primary kid should know? (Keep in mind that this list excludes the songs they already know, so don't bite my head off for 'I am a child of God' not being on the list.)

Monday, October 16


Alright, I've been tempted to submit "A day in the life of Starfoxy" post for FMH , but I keep thinking it's too boring for it to be worth reading (I get tired pretty easily lately so I spend lots of time laying around). So instead I thought I'd just write up a 'lifestyles' post and just explain some details of how I do a few things that work out really well, or alternately really badly for me. (I may polish this up a little bit and sumbit it anyways, but we'll see).

I'm a big fan of lists. When there are things I need to get done I always make a list. I've always thought it would be neat to have a special notepad, or computer program/widget that I consistently use to make my lists, but I normally end up just writing it on some piece of paper and sticking it my back pocket. When I try to use the notepad or widget, I forget about the list and things remain undone. I've come to accept that I am a 'scrap of paper in the back pocket' kind of list-maker, and have decided not to fight with what is effective for me.

In that same train of thought I make a menu every week. I write down what meals I'm going to make and on what days. This helps me plan to use food I already have, or other leftovers before they go bad. It helps me put together a strict grocery list that I try desperately not to deviate from while at the store, and it helps me not buy food that won't get eaten (I know some of us don't have that problem, my mother in law has a hard time keeping enough food in the house). The other thing this helps me do is avoid saying "Aw hang it all, I don't feel like making dinner tonight, let's go out." It is an excellent tool for tightening the budget on several fronts without feeling it too sharply. (In our college days, when we both were working and didn't have kids, I made my husband split the meal-making with me 50/50. He would cook three nights, I would cook three nights and we'd eat leftovers one night. It was easy to do because he picked the meals he would make when I made the menu and would pick in advance which nights he would cook. This way he was committed to it, and it allowed him to eat the things I wouldn't choose to make. This whole arrangement tickled his mom to no end when she saw the list on the fridge while visiting.)

We have a cat who is not allowed on the table or countertops. He is also not allowed in the dishwasher, the washing machine, the drier, and he's not allowed to attack the curtains. When he tries any of those things I hiss at him, and if he doesn't respond, I spray him with a waterbottle. I've found that the waterbottle also gets Nils' attention. I try not to spray Nils in the face, but a spray at the back of his head is normally punishment enough for pushing computer buttons or similar crimes.

My desk is an absolute horror. Anything I need to deal with, but don't want to deal with right then gets put on the desk. I often eat while reading or watching stuff on the computer, so there's empty cups and a half-eaten thing of oreos on the desk rather frequently. I try to get the dishes off of it every evening. They never stay for longer than two days. About once a month or so I clean the whole thing off thoroughly and feel good about myself for a few days. But 90% of the time it is a disaster. However, I can always find what I'm looking for.

I hate labels. We're not talking, Loner, Punk, Looser, type labels, though I do hate those too. I'm talking about "Softsoap" "Suave" "Dawn" "Crisco" "Kleenex" or in general the stickers on the front of just about everything you buy. Seriously, tomorrow morning in the shower look around you and notice how many brand names are etching themselves into your mind, building your brand loyalty. They're advertisements you pay to put in your home and I hate having them in mine. I remove labels from products frequently (I leave the back labels on for safety reasons), buy the store brand, or buy in bulk and remove the outer packaging. I hate the products that are actually really good, but come in packaging that you can't de-label. It's a quirk my husband didn't know about until we got married. He thought it was funny, but has never complained- as long as he knows which bottle the shampoo is in.

I almost always have three or more crafts or projects going at the same time. I hate that about me. I really wish I could just work on one until I finish it before starting a new one. Right now, I'm knitting a scarf, crocheting a hat, braiding a rope which will be woven into a door-mat (for my parents), and putting up and hemming curtains. I started the scarf a month ago, the hat last Christmas, and the rope sometime in June. I also have a needlepoint I've been working on since I was 17 which means it's been unfinished for at least 6 years. (I've finished several other needlepoints since I started this particular one). I try not to think about that one, it makes me feel ashamed. There was a quilt that took me about two years to do. They all become an albatross around my neck before I'm even halfway done.

Wednesday, August 30

Ant, Aunts and Uncles

I remember when my oldest niece was born. My brother held her up so she could see all of us in the room and said, "These are your uncles and aunts. Your uncles are my brothers. Ants are little bugs that crawl around on the ground." That little baby started first grade last week. She's got three younger sisters now, and many more cousins than she used to. The layout of her dad's (and my) family has changed quite a bit over the years too.

Last Saturday my sister, M, left her abusive husband, an event that all of us are glad for. She's staying with our parents, and has been trying to get legal advice. I spoke with her on the phone and she said that it feels weird to think that she will soon be divorced. She said, "There's just a stigma of being divorced, and I know that it was wrong of me, but I used to look down on people who had been divorced. Now I'll be one of them." By way of consolation I told her that she has, at least, successfully avoided being the 'Spinster Aunt.' That title has been given to our 31 year old unmarried sister T. We laughed and then went on, "yeah, and our brother T is the chubby funny uncle, and our sister J is the bitter childless carreerist..." At this point there was a slight pause and M said, "I guess that would make you the normal one." "Wohoo!" I cheered, "I win!"

There are still plenty of clichéd aunt roles that I can fill. The tragic widow, the holier-than-thou good sister, the bully with a henpecked husband, and the list goes on. There are so many ways our lives can go 'wrong.' All of us really will have something go 'wrong' with our lives. I avoided so many pitfalls by watching my siblings struggle, and by listening to their advice and accepting their assistance. Today I was blessed to see just how right my life is going. I worry that it won't last, but there's nothing to do except enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, August 24

Hired Help

In the wake of the Forbes debacle, I came across a comment that started with this:
remember- woman was created to be man's help meet, not the other way around.

Okay, there is, indeed, plenty of evidence for this assertion. Every scriptural account of the creation says that Eve was created after Adam. The story says that after Adam was created, God said, "Hey! He shouldn't be alone! Let's make a woman for him!" Now regardless of what you think about word 'helpmeet' you can't get around the fact that Adam was put here first, and all accounts indicate that he wasn't put here first to help prepare the place for Eve. Eve came after because Adam needed her.

Either way, we end up with an awful lot of people thinking that it is a woman's main job to help her husband. When we get to thinking about the help that men need, in a modern sense it often gets reduced to cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Some have asserted that there is a great deal of emotional work that women are predominantly held accountable for (ego stroking, remembering familial obligations, being pleasant company etc). My main question is, what is it that men do that is so important, and that they need so much help with.

According to the Moses 1:39, "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." The main part of that puzzle that we are currently responsible for is providing mortal bodies for God's spirit children to dwell in, and that was one of the earliest (debatably the first) commandments that God gave to Adam and Eve. This would seem to indicate that the all important task of mortality is the bearing and raising of children.

Hey wait a second. Women were put on earth to 'help' men bear and raise children? I wasn't aware that 'to help' means 'to do for or instead of.' Now unless you're willing to assert that the most important part of having a baby is making the sperm, then you will have to admit that physically, it's the men helping the women have children. Also, unless you're willing to assert that money or income is the most important part of raising a child, then you'll have to admit that the model family that the church promotes, again, puts men in a position of helping women.

So, how on earth did we ever get the idea that women are here to help men? And what on earth are we supposed to be helping them with?

Wednesday, August 9

The Princess

In dicussions of women's place within the Patriarchal order of the Church experiences where women have suffered abuse of some sort, or where men have exceeded their bounds are often offered as evidence that the organization of power as it stands is faulty. The most common response to such accounts is that such things are not intended. For example: "That is not what presiding really means," "If you think that having the Priesthood is about having power then you don't understand what it's really about." And, my personal favorite, "If he acted like that, then he didn't really have the Priesthood anyways."

I had these thoughts in the back of my mind as I came across this quote from Machiavelli's The Prince:
"Many men have imagined republics and principalities that never really extisted at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation."

Let us consider, for a moment, the raising of a child. My child, to be specific. Someday I would like for him to speak english, dress himself, use the bathroom by himself. It is widely accepted that the best way to teach my child to talk is to speak to him as though he already can. I should carry on conversations with him, and ask him questions as though I really expect a response. Granted, I should, perhaps, speak slowly and repeat myself often just so that meanings and pronunciations are more clear. However, it is obvious that I should not start him out with the "My name is..." and verb congugations that are used in language classes.
As for dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom, it is the height of folly to think that the best way to teach him to do these things could be to simply act as though he already can. Were I to treat my one year old child as though he could use the toilet by himself it would be most unpleasant for both of us.

I can imagine the Church power structure as it should be. It wouldn't matter that women wouldn't have official authority to change things because they wouldn't want anything changed, and even if they did they would only need to mention it to their husband, home teachers or bishop, and the problem would be understood, taken seriously, and addressed properly. I can see how this could be a very pleasant and clearly organized way of running things, and perhaps if God were to say so, the ideal way of running things. The problem I see with it is that people just aren't that good natured right now. As nice as it would be if things were like this, they aren't.

If you assume that bad behavior leads to unhappiness (wicked never was happiness), and also assume that the ultimate goal of existence is to be happy (men are that they might have joy) then the questions to consider are:
1. Is it more important to maximize people's happiness, or to most speedily make people good?
I suspect, given the conditions of mortality, that it is more important to make people good as quickly as possible.

2. Do people become good people faster when we act like they already are good people (and thereby allow them opportunities to be bad) or do they become good faster when we assume they will be bad and create safeguards preventing bad behavior?
I don't know the answer to this question, and I suspect that it varies widely between individuals and behaviors. All I know for certain is that creating safeguards to prevent bad behavior help to maximize the current happiness of individuals.

I personally feel that the best way to help us be good and treat each other better as men and women is to create safeguards that prevent bad behavior. I feel that an excellent safeguard would be to put women into positions of authority and status within the church. Because as it stands holding the priesthood is about having power, presiding is about 'being the boss' and men who don't really hold the Priesthood perform priesthood duties all the time. The Priesthood structure also gives a rather striking impression that men are more important, more worthwhile, and just plain better than women, even if it shouldn't.

The message we should be getting isn't the message we are getting. I'm sure it's because we aren't understanding it properly, but the fact of the matter is we aren't hearing what we're supposed to. I think the fastest way to fix this (and thereby increase happiness) is to alter how things are taught so that when we hear it, though we may be imperfect, we understand what we're supposed to.

Saturday, July 29


I almost never wear makeup. I think it is a waste of time. I looked fine without it when I was nine, and I look fine without it now. I stopped wearing it when I was 15 or so. After hearing one of my friends talking about her morning routine I decided that I didn't want to feel that I didn't look 'normal' without makeup. I never wanted to look at myself in the mirror and think that I was ugly *because* I was without makeup.

Here's the thing that gets me. I still feel ugly, plain, and self-conscious when I'm around women wearing makeup (which is all the time).

I have stretch marks from being pregnant. They are scars that remind me that I am a mother. They remind me of the miraculous things my body did, of the pain and sacrifice I made. Sometimes I feel like they are sacred scars, of the same type (though nowhere near the same magnitude) as Christ's scars. I never want them to go away even when I'm resurrected. They mean too much to me. But I still frown whenever I look at my tummy because I feel it's ugly.

Do those feelings ever go away?

Saturday, July 22

The 'Hood

So, with the many discussions of Priesthood and women, I've been thinking about the motherhood=priesthood idea. I find one major problem with it. LDS 'motherhood' isn't restrictive enough to afford it the same prestige that LDS priesthood enjoys. Let me explain:

There are countless men in the world who call themselves priests and claim to have the priesthood. We have no trouble dismissing them and their authority as false. They don't have the *real* priesthood like we do. Though their authority may be false, they are still responsible for large amounts of good. They still bring many people closer to Christ than they might otherwise have been. They still do great deeds of charity. There are some who abuse their power, but most are basically good people doing good work. However, despite the goodness of the work they do, it's still not done with proper authority, and many of their ordinances (baptism, sacrament/eucharist) will be ineffective.

Say we create a title for women, let's say "Priestess" for the sake of arguement. A woman becomes a priestess when she gets sealed in the Temple, and only when she is sealed in the Temple, because only then does she have the authority to enter into the 'true order of motherhood.'

Let's say that, as with the Priesthood, there are countless numbers of women out there who are mothers. They do great amounts of good, and bring many people into the world. They work hard, but since they are not sealed to their spouse and children their motherhood is ulitmately ineffective and will end at death. Only when one is sealed are they able to be true mothers in the way God intended. We have been using the term that describes the physical act of a woman spawning a child to describe a woman's God given spiritual duty to her children. By not recognizing the extra efforts LDS women go through to raise their children in a family and in the church we are effectively making the motherhood we seek to revere no more important than the motherhood of any woman in the world. So, since true motherhood is so important to our church why should they not recieve special recognition for their struggle to achieve and maintain Temple worthiness, and their efforts as *ordained and set apart* custodians of God's children.

A few points about how this relates to the motherhood=priesthood idea:
-It solves the common problem that a bad mother is still technically a mother. The irresponsible woman who gets pregnant and neglects her child is not a "Priestess" because she has not been sealed, and therefore has not been given authority to 'exercise' her motherhood. She is no different than a man claiming to have the priesthood who is not properly ordained.

-Since the title is given at the sealing it would (theoretically) prevent the ostracizing of non-fertile couples. A sealed woman without children is authorised to exercise her motherhood, but has not been given an opportunity to do so. She is still a Priestess.

-It does not help with the ostracizing of single women.

-It would further ostracize women married to non-member men. It could also potentially alter the way we view the Law of Chastity in regards to legal marriages. (If we start teaching that it is improper to have children outside of a temple marriage then it would follow that marital relations would have to be limited to a temple marriage too, which is perhaps why we don't have rhetoric like this.)

-It helps set the LDS definition of 'motherhood' above its purely physical roots. Being a Priestess is something one gains through worthiness, being a mother is a physical act. This way we don't have to twist ourselves into knots trying to make 'motherhood' mean something that the dictionary never will say it means. We can come right out and say, "We don't value motherhood, we value Priestesshood. We want you to be worthy righteous women who have become mothers in the proper way."

-It could either help, or exacerbate the mommy wars. It could help by taking the focus away from making dinner, sewing clothes, staying at home, etc, and moving the focus to the mother's spiritual worthiness and her efforts to instill testimonies in her children. It could hurt it by putting extra emphasis on making dinner etc and staying at home by viewing those things themselves as spiritual actions. Things associated with traditional motherhood become a Priestess' ordinances. For example 'Dinner on the table at 6' becomes a sacrament which will be asked about in worthiness interviews.

Making 'mother' a church office (like Elder) would do much to bolster the idea that motherhood=priesthood. It could have many positive consequences, and many negetive ones. Either way, as things stand, our current rhetoric about motherhood does little to convince me that it is the woman's equivalent of the priesthood.

Wednesday, June 21

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always shape me.

"It's only talk," and "It's just a joke," are, I believe, some of the cleverest lies out there. Perhaps it's my love of words, reading, and hearing my own voice, that lead me to it, but I believe that words are powerful tools and dangerous weapons.

It's a little known, and for some reason suprising (is it my spelling?) fact that I left high school with my eye fixated on an English degree. I arrived at college and had the understanding that I was likely to switch my major. This is where things get fuzzy; I'm not sure if my "I'll do this English thing until I decide what I *really* want" mentality came from a lack of committment to English, or from an over-committment to my belief in switching majors. The point being, I'm not sure that I didn't want to be an English major.

Anyhow, on to my more general point. I firmly believe that the words we choose to use continuously shape our understanding. Positive and negetive connotations travel with every word wherever it goes. The tone of voice used can often convey far more meaning than the word alone. For instance I knew a guy who said "fat" with such derision that I could feel his contempt for anyone to whom that term may apply, even if he was only talking about fat bike tires.

I'm inclined to see it as the common LDS thought that you can gain a testimony by bearing it. Normally the thought process says that as you speak the Holy Ghost will bear witness to you of the truth of what you are saying. In this way bearing testimony can be a leap of faith, a desire to believe, that is rewarded by increased confirmation. Whenever we speak we are, in a sense bearing testimony. Though the Holy Ghost may or may not be involved in our daily speech we are certainly outlining, and reinforcing patterns. Patterns of thought, tone, and action. I'm sure my friend didn't start out saying the word 'Fat' like he was spitting it out, but he certainly said it the same way every time he said it. By using it with contempt a few times, it became a contempt filled word. By making excuses for being a stay at home mom, I come to believe that I need excuses. By stating my beliefs in an apologetic way, I come to believe that they need to be aplogized for.

I remember a line from Gattaca where Antone is trying to convince Vincent that he doesn't belong at Gattaca, and can't succeed. Vincent's pithy response is "who are you trying to convince?"

I'm fond of an idea from CS Lewis, where he says that (paraphrasing) "it is useless to sit around trying to manufacture feelings. The best way to create a feeling of love for someone else is to act as if you already do love them." Part of that action, I believe, are the words we say.

Tuesday, June 20

The other side

I was raised in a very conservative household. My parents would disown me if they knew that I called myself a feminist. To them feminists are every bad stereotype you can imagine. Man-hating, bra-averse, unwashed, baby-killers, who would like nothing more than to see every man in the world castrated. However, Janna's question at Exponent II got me thinking. She said
I'm curious about the feelings and thoughts of women who *are* completely comfortable with the traditional approach to [the Male-only Priesthood]. Why do they feel comfortable with and celebrate what Caroline describes as the God-Man-Woman hierarchy?

I'm not quite sure I know the answer, but given my background I think I can make a pretty good guess.

I think most of these women very much buy into the "women are more spiritual so they just don't need it." I think many LDS feminists really discount how attractive that idea is to non-feminist LDS women. I recall hearing that, and similar statements as a youth and feeling not just special, but down right countercultural. There was a "in-the-know" feeling about hearing things like that. You could look at the sister sitting next to you and have a little wink-wink nod-nod affirming that both of you knew who was *really* running the show. 'These poor hopeless lunks think they're running the church. We'll let you think you're in charge while we do all the important stuff behind your back.' While we congratulated ourselves on being so spiritual we didn't notice our Hopeless lunks run off to meetings that we would be forbidden to attend. Just like that classic line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any direction she wants." One forgets that the neck has no brain of it's own, and only does what the head tells it to, so oddly enough, she always wants to turn the head to the direction the head wants to go. (BTW I had a man I considered marrying tell me that line to make me feel better about him presiding over me. It didn't work.)

Part of what makes this approach so popular is really that it is so easy. First, it removes from women the commonly felt pressure to civilize men, and places it on the priesthood, or more accurately changes it into "supporting his priesthood duties." Women who felt that pressure from their mothers and peers are now free to say to themselves, "serving a mission will help him mature," or "he learns how to be a good man at church." In other words, "you other ladies can't blame me for my husband's slovenly ways because I support his priesthood."

It also allows women to glorify in everything that is feminine, even if they maybe shouldn't. Immodest dresses are readily overlooked if they're adequetely feminine. Spending too much on makeup and clothes is alright because woman is God's greatest, and most beautiful, creation. We gloss over most female failings, because women are more spiritual than men, they have no failings. (As a side tangent, I think it is very important to be aware of, and roust out feminine failings. If I can be a daughter of perdition, it means that I can have the knowledge and agency required to become one. One thing that many leaders are so quick to decry is that all these "sweet angels have corrupted themselve with masculine habits." That track is best counteracted by showing that the "sweet angels" never really existed.)

Next, there is a common (to me) joke about making money (it relates I swear). It goes like this:
Step one: [outlandish silly sounding thing here, like "patent prosthetic foreheads"]
Step two: ???????
Step three: Profit!
All we need to do is figure out what step two is.

As it relates to the topic at hand, the steps are as follows:
Step one: Allow only men to hold the priesthood.
Step two: ?????
Step three: Presto! Men and Women are completely equal before the Lord!

Many of these women are taking on faith that there is, indeed, a step two. They are also taking on faith that step two is probably beyond mortal understanding, so it's futile to try and figure it out. But what they aren't taking on faith is that our leaders, who we trust to advise us constantly assure us of steps one and three. We almost hear them saying, "It doesn't look like it makes sense, but just trust me, it does." The same way we might hear a doctor saying "It doesn't look like taking calcium supplements will cure your menstrual cramps, but just trust me, it does."

So there's my take on that. It may be disjointed, but that's how it goes.

Friday, June 16

Does the fact that you're going to Hell concern you?

So I followed a link yesterday, that took me to an evangelical Christian site. The title of this post is taken from that site. Sometimes I enjoy reading things like that, it gives me stuff to think about, and this website delivered. There was a page about witnessing to Mormons which encouraged missionaries to learn the Mormon vernacular. at one point the author suggested telling Mormons that they are going to "outer darkness" because that is the closest approximation to Hell that we have. It went on to say that most Mormons will find that idea disconcerting because they believe that nearly everyone will live in one of Heaven's three kingdoms. More specifically, we believe that the only people in Outer Darkness will be people that have knowingly chosen it, and that what makes it miserable is the misery the people there make for themselves.

The author was right, I did find the idea of me going to Hell disconcerting, but for reasons they probably didn't expect. Consider this: Hell is a place where people who have committed even the smallest of sins are sent, by God, even if they didn't know that what they were doing is a sin. Furthermore God, the being responsible for bringing these people into existence, created the world and mankind so that by our very natures every single one of us cannot help but sin and will be sent to Hell unless we have the rare benefit of learning about Christ during our mortal lives. The earthly practice that most closely approximates willfully creating beings that are doomed to suffer? Having babies just to torture them to death.

My worldview allows for a God that is just, and will not tolerate sin, but one that is also merciful and isn't bound to send more than half of His children to eternal suffering.

Let's consider eternal suffering for a moment. Try this, draw a line on a piece of paper. Now, I hate to break it to you, but the line you drew isn't a real line. It's a limited approximation of a line, or a "line segment." A real line goes on for forever. Think about that for a moment. Not just to the edge of the paper, not just beyond the desk. A real line goes on beyond your house, your backyard, city, state, country planet, solar system and beyond. It goes on for forever. Now draw another pathetic attempt at representing a line parallel to the first one. Now I ask, how much area is between your two pathetic lines? A few square centimeters, right? Imagine, if you will, the two real lines, the ones that go on for forever, and ask how much area is between those two lines? The amount of area between those to lines is infinite. What if the lines started on left, but still went on forever to the right? The area between them is still infinite.

Alright, Lets say that the distance between the two lines is the limited, finite you. The left end points are the moment you came into existence. Let's now say that the area between the lines are representative of your suffering were you to be sent to Hell for eternity. "Wait a minute!" you say, "doesn't that means that my suffering would be infinite?" Let's say then that the sin you committed that got you sent to Hell was that you were born and your parents failed to baptise you before you died shortly after birth. Or even that your sin was stealing money from orphans.

"But," you say (and I do wish you would stop interrupting) "God *is* merciful. Christ suffered for our sins, and all we have to do is claim Him as our Savior, and we'll be saved." What of the millions of people who lived without ever hearing of Christ? They did not willfully reject Him. They had no chance to save themselves. Did God keep that chance from them on purpose?

Do these finite temporal sins and failings *really* require eternal, infinite suffering to satisfy justice? Does the fact that you believe in a God who is cruel and heartless concern you? It should.

Tuesday, May 30

Honest Voices

[Wedding, group blogs, and family function have kept me from posting for awhile. Here's to getting back into a routine!]

I'm a Harry Potter Fan, (not a rabid HP Fan, but a fan nonetheless). There is a part in book five where Harry was passed over for a position of some merit, and after some embarrassing moments he has a second to himself to take it in. He asks himself what he was really expecting, and 'an honest voice said "not this".' I've been searching for that honest voice in my own mind, and have had some trouble finding it.

The honest voice was squashed out of me at a very young age, and I have severe trouble trusting my own opinions thoughts and impressions. For example, when I was 9 or so I was riding in the car with my family. The discussion turned to colors, and I proudly proclaimed that green was my favorite color. My sister quite seriously said "No it isn't." Instead of insisting that green was my favorite color I immediately wondered what was my favorite color, since it couldn't be green.

This lack of honest-voice has made itself known in many ways. For one, I'm often absolutely enthralled by the idea that Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself. Though this belief is quite accurate, I take it to extremes, for instance hoping that Heavenly Father will let me know what my real opinions are, and maybe show me what it is I like to do.

Another way my missing honest-voice is evident is through the nearly constant stream of chatter in my head. I'm always re-convincing myself of my stance on issues, my beliefs, my likes, and my feelings. It drives my husband nuts because I will repeatedly tell myself and him the myriad reasons why the conclusion we came to was correct. "Another reason why it's a good idea to get a house is because blah blah blah..."

I'm not sure if the honest-voice is self-esteem or not. I know I'm a talented important person who is loved, but do I know that because my honest-voice tells me so, or do I know it because someone else told me what my opinion about myself is.

I think, in this world of advertising, opinion editorials, and bossy older sisters an inner honest-voice is a vital thing to have. We should all be able to ask ourselves "do I really need a hamburger to feel manly?" and honestly answer "no." To ask "what is important to me about toxic issue X?" and answer "the children!" To ask "What is my favorite color?" and answer, without second-guessing "Green!"

Saturday, May 6


During the summer of 2001 my family took a trip to Sweden. We stayed for two weeks, and saw all sorts of great things. We saw the Alfred Nobel mueseum, we saw the largest lake in Europe, and we saw the docks of Göteburg. We bought wooden clogs, and saw professional glass blowers. The parts I remember best, though, were the days we spent with my mom's cousins scattered across a few smaller cities centered around Karlskoga.
When we arrived my mom's 'Spinster Aunt' cousin, named Ulla, picked us up from the Airport. She drove us around to see all of the relatives that we were to visit. Our relatives fed us, fed us, and fed us again. At every meal we were implored to 'take a second tour.' We were stuffed. The older people, who were obviously very excited to see and meet the children of their cousin who left so long ago, could barely speak to us. They didn't know English, and we didn't know Swedish. They pressed presents into our hands and muttered mysterious explanations.
There was one man, who looked exactly like my mom's brother. He talked to us the whole time, and we didn't understand a word he said. Ulla told him that we didn't speak, or understand Swedish, but he never gave up. The funny thing is that is exactly what my mom's brother is like. He doesn't care much if you understand what he's saying, he'll keep talking to you anyways.
My mom, with Ulla's help gathered names, birthdates, and cities, and parishes. Upon learning that we wanted to learn about our ancestors they took us to graveyards. In fact that is what we spent most of our time doing, eating and going to graveyards.
The graveyards were different there. In a graveyard in the US there are fancy headstones, and faded plastic flowers. In Sweden most of the headstones had a small flowerbed in front of the headstone, that families were responsible for maintaining. Our hosts told us that you could tell when a person's child had gone to the US because there were no flowers planted at their headstone. They all seemed to feel a deep loss because of those who had left. By leaving the emmigrants broke the family apart and the family the emmigrants left behind remembered those who left for generations.
I came to understand the desire to be sealed to a family. I had always thought, "if we're there together what does it matter if we're sealed or not?" These people, though I had never met them, were my family. I may never see those people again during this life, but I love them dearly. I know them. And my concern for their welfare goes beyond their mortal comforts. I need them, and know that they need me. We are not complete without eachother. They knew that they missed me and my siblings, but we had never known that we missed them.
One of the last houses we stayed at we sang a hymn, "How Great Thou Art," with the family. They sang in Swedish, and we sang in English. As we sang I looked around and my whole family was crying. After the hymn we laughed at our tears, and Ulla translated for our hosts: "They understand why you are crying, they feel it too." I still cry every time we sing that hymn. I think I always will.

Thursday, May 4

The uses of outrage

While I was in college I had the experience of dating a few guys who could best be described as, well, jerks. They had this amazing ability to say the worst things possible, and infuriate me in the process. It wasn't spite, it was mostly thoughtlessness, but the results were the same. I only confided in a few people, my best friend, and one of my four roommates. Somehow, though, all of my roommates seemed to know when I was angry. I think it was because they'd come home from class and find me scrubbing the floor like my life depended on it.

Yes, I'm an anger cleaner. I don't shout at people, I do the dishes. I don't slam doors or give cold glares, I clean the oven. In fact, the summer before I broke up with my boyfriend was the cleanest three months that apartment had ever seen. My poor roommates would tiptoe around the kitchen while I scrubbed the oven muttering under my breath. In retrospect they were probably afraid that if they made a mess I would snap at them. I sort of feel bad for the stress I put them through, but at the same time, there was that much less cleaning for them to do. I think it was a fair trade. :)

The weird thing is, it's not just regular anger that makes me clean. When I'd do bad on a test, or be frustated at work I'd go running. It was specifically relationship anger that would drive me into a cleaning frenzy. I'm sort of curious if there is anything subconciously symbollic about cleaning because I was mad at my boyfriend.

Luckily for me I married a wonderful man, who has yet to make me angry. The downside is, my kitchen spends a lot of time being very dirty.

Tuesday, April 25


My parents have lived in their house for nearly 40 years. While many important things have happened in that house, the fact remains that it is old. It was considered old even when they bought it. As an old house in a rural area it is especially suceptible to penetration by bugs. Ants, spiders, mosquitos, may flies, june bugs and many others frequented our floors and walls. One morning my sister found that she was showering with a tarantula. Once my brother found, and caught a black widow spider that had a thorax with a diameter the size of a nickle That spider lived in a jar forgotten in his room while he was on his mission, and was still alive when he came back. Bugs don't bother me. I'll pick up a daddy long leg with my bare hands. I'll stomp on crunchy bugs, and kill scary poisonous spiders without trepidation. This non-fear of bugs proved useful many times. In junior high when boys would try to scare me with insects, in college when my roommate would come unglued at even the tiniest spider, in showing my husband that I'm a reasonable cool headed person worth marrying. My achilles heel, however, is cockroaches.
The climate that I grew up in just wasn't condusive for roaches. I was 22 before I'd seen a real roach without plexiglass between us. My fear of roaches borders on paranoia, which completely bewilders my husband. He grew up in a city where roaches just were. It wasn't unusual to leave a bag of trash on the ground outside overnight and have it be covered with roaches in the morning. To him, they are just another pest, like ants. To me they are a symbol of all that is unwholesome in this world.
I think I trace my paranoia back to my sister. She served part of her mission in Yuma AZ. Between the heat, the farms, and her crappy apartment there were a lot of roaches in her life. This particular sister is the sort that does freak out about bugs. So the roaches, like most any bug, were horrific to her. Combine that with the fact that there was a lot of them, and she came unglued. She has some great stories about talking to the Elders on the phone, seeing a roach, screaming bloody murder and hanging up midconversation, which was unsettling to the Elders.
I heard these stories at a young, impressionable age. And so roaches became the uber-pest. The undefeatable foe of cleanliness. Roaches were indicitive of filth, disease, and rot. So one can imagine my horror at seeing a roach in my kitchen. I'm convinced that if I opened the walls there would be piles and piles of them, spilling out onto the floor. A tidal wave of roachy filth. When I shower or wash my hands I glance furtively at the drain pipes, certain that the second I turn the water off the invasion will begin and roaches will come streaming up from the plumbing. My first thought when I saw a roach in my kitchen was that we needed to move. The apartment was lost to the roaches and could never be reclaimed.
So, consider this; If a teacher were to say that some sin to was like a roach infestation of the soul, it would mean something drastically different to me than it would to my husband. To me, it would nearly mean that the person's soul is lost forever, and would mean that Christ's atonement is a true miracle to get rid of such a pervasive and horrible menace. To my husband, it would make the repentance process a simple, but ongoing process, requiring constance vigilance. I wonder how aware we are of the many ways that analogies can be recieved, and how those meanings can change. Also, can we, in our modern world, really understand what it means to leave 99 sheep to look for one? Does burying treasure in a field still mean what it once did? Was the change in understanding somewhat planned? In other words, was Christ aware of how people in our time would percieve those analogies, and is our percieved meaning more correct for us?

Friday, April 21

V for Vendetta, and C for Charlotte

Long before the popular film V for Vendetta came out, there was another Vendetta, from Making Fiends by Amy Winfrey. But I don't want to talk about her. I want to talk about Charlotte, the smiley girl in the picture. Some dialogue from the episode in question:
Charlotte: And I also have this. It's a rock. But it's no ordinary rock. It's a pretty rock with pretty speckles. Vendetta gave it to me!
Vendetta: I threw it at you!
Charlotte: Vendetta is sooo nice!
The cartoon series is rather funny, (and may be on Nickelodeon soon) and has the constant theme of Vendetta's endless mean-ness and Charlottes endless optimism. It's more than a little sad that endless optimism seems tied to childish naivite and stupidness.
The other day I was reading through my Patriarchal Blessing. I was a little suprised when I came across a section where I was described as "uplifting, out-going and cheerful." I gave a little laugh and thought, "pfsh, that doesn't describe me anymore." I had no problem admitting that I once was cheerful, but I believed that bad experiences with friends and boyfriends who took advantage of my trusting nature had beaten it out of me. That same section of my blessing goes on to say that I will be a great influence on those that are around me, and those that I will have the opportunity to teach, because of my cheerful nature, to the point where people will seek me out later in life to thank me for my influence. In thinking about this, I let go of my cheerfulness, it wasn't taken from me. If I choose not to be cheerful again I may be missing out on great blessings.
There is a woman who I'll just call Sister Leavitt. In her younger years she travelled around the state and gave firesides and seminars on happiness, and cheerfulness. My parents attended her firesides everytime she gave one, and it had a great influence on them. In speaking of her my dad gets teary eyed. When my family came to my ward for Nils' blessing, my parents were shocked and thrilled to see that Sister Leavitt was a member of my ward. (I hadn't known that she was the Sister Leavitt, or I would have said something.) My parents tearily went up to her and thanked her profusely for her influence on them. She didn't know who they were, and merely said "Oh thank you! I didn't think anyone remembered!"
This woman, now in her 90's, has lived out something that I have the potential to do. She claimed, by virtue of her cheerful disposition, the right to have a great influence on many many people. Her attitude was more powerful than any office she may have held. Now she is, by far, the kindest, happiest, most beautiful old woman I've met. And I want to be just like her.

Tuesday, April 18

Being a question

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, erm, I mean Wikipedia has this to say about answers:
According to the Hitchhiker's Guide, researchers from a pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent race of beings, construct Deep Thought, the second greatest computer of all time and space, to calculate the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. After seven and a half million years of pondering the question, Deep Thought provides the answer: "forty-two."
Some dialogue from the book will clarify a bit more:
"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"
"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."
I have this to say about questions:
Questions are a highly valuable part of human discourse. The strict definition of a question is this: "A sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information." In our society, however, a question indicates a lack of information. One only asks a question when they don't understand, or don't have an answer. To us, however, being the one with all the answers is a mark of prestige. Being the one with all the questions makes one needy, unwise, foolish, or most often a suck up.

I would like to propose that a question need not indicate a lack of knowledge, and, in fact, those that do not lack knowledge are the ones who ask the best questions. An example to illustrate my point. In many classes the teacher will often ask the class "Any questions?" At a certain point I came to understand that if the call for questions remains unanswered that it is a very bad sign. The lack of questions didn't indicate that all the students understood the material. Instead, it indicated that the students didn't understand enough to know what they didn't understand. Often the smartest student in the class, (the one who reads the chapters, and starts the homework ahead of time) would ask a question none of the rest of us realized could be asked. This question would lead the teacher to explain something more in-depth, and the whole class would learn.

I eventually came to the conclusion, that the most efficient way to teach a class is to have two experts, one who poses a question and the other to answer it. This call-and-response style would utilize the full intelligence of both professors, and bring their experience into the questions that are asked. As a person who has deep experience with the subject at hand they would know to ask questions that have useful and practical applications, especially if the person asking the question already knows the answer.

Take, for example, a forum that is often strictly Q&A a witness being examined in court(these might be leading questions, I don't know, I'm not a lawyer). The lawyer can control the information by asking specific questions, questions worded just so that the mitigating explanations don't fit in the answer. "Did you remove a cookie from this jar?" "Yes" "Did your Dad say you could eat that cookie?" "No." If the lawyer doesn't ask "Did your Mom say you could eat that cookie?" (to which the answer is yes) then one may come away with the impression that the kid is a cookie thief. A questioner can have great levels of control over the information revealed, and this control is hightened when the questioner knows what the response will be.

Feminists critique the common habit of girls and women phrasing information that they already know in the form of a question (I'll take "Nature of God" for 100 Alec). This critique takes the assumption that being the questioner indicates a lack, and is therefore a subordinate or weak position. If however, one believes that to be a good questioner one must have just as thorough knowledge of the subject as the answerer then being a questioner has no negative connotations. In this way being a questioner can be feminine, and being an answerer can be masculine, and men and women can fill fully complimentary roles that are equally valuable. While I do not doubt that many women do speak in questions to appear less threatening, I maintain that the question format is not to blame. No one doubts an attorney's power as they cross examine a witness, and I can believe that women can ask questions that would unnerve even the stalwart.
A question is a powerful tool, one that may clarify why the answer to life the universe and everything is 42. If only we knew what it was.

Friday, April 14


I have a confession. I never prayed about my choice to be a stay at home mom. It is what the prophets say to do, so since I didn't have a problem with it I didn't see a reason to pray to about it. I suppose if someone had suggested pray about it specifically, I would have done so, but the thought never occurred to me that it might not be what the Lord wanted me to do. I feel now, that my struggles with being at home may have been made much easier if I already had a testimony, as opposed to intellectual understanding, that it was what the Lord wanted me to do.

This brings up the question of how much do we need to pray about things that we are commanded to do? Everyone knows that we should pray if we feel we are an exception to the rule (ie, if I wanted to work instead of stay home then I should pray to be sure it's right). But what about things that we already understand and have a basic testimony of? In my case, I have a testimony that the men who counselled women to be SAHMs were prophets of God. I have a testimony that mothering is important work that has been entrusted to women. What I didn't have was a testimony that the Lord wanted me to be a mother who didn't work outside the home, and that what I would be doing is greatly important. I had a testimony of the principle, but not of it's specific application to my situation.

I wonder then, how many other things we should be praying about, perhaps not only to confirm that we are an exception to the rule, but also to confirm that we aren't an exception to the rule. Sure we'll pray about them when it gets tough, but might we be able to avoid some of the tough times be gaining a pre-emptive testimony?

I know that we are commanded to pray about everything. But does that mean that I should pray about which pen to use on my to do list? There are times when such a thing might concievably change my day and alter the course of my life. But 99% of the time stuff like that won't matter. Where does the line get drawn? Are there any guidelines. All that I could find is this:

30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you.

But how can one apply that in their day to day life?

Tuesday, April 11


Three years ago I got an email from my sister. My siblings and I rarely communicate so I knew that the email contained something big, and I was right. My sister was pregnant. She wasn't married, and had been sort of engaged to the father for a few years. I'm glad she emailed me, because my very first thought was, "Oh no! What will she do now?" It was no secret that most of my siblings didn't like her fiancé, and had been trying to talk my sister out of marrying him since they started dating. I didn't really like him either, but had been trying desperately to be nice to him and to convince the rest of my family to be nice to him too. I knew that if we were mean and gossip-y it would create an "us v. them" mentality in my sister's mind and she would be more inclined to marry him just to spite us than for any other good reason. I don't remember exactly what I said to her in my response, but it expressed positive excitement for the baby and questions about her plans for it. Her response nearly made me cry. She said that I was the first person she told, and she chose me because she knew I wouldn't judge her, and would be happy for the baby. She was afraid to tell my parents and siblings.

In her situation I and most of my family knew exactly what was going on. There are only a few reasons why engagements last for years in the LDS church, and normally it's because they want to go to the temple but can't stay worthy long enough. However the fact that she was pregnant offered proof of our suspicions and provided a chance to condemn her behavior. I think that if we were going to condemn her it shouldn't be when she got pregnant. There is no difference between what a woman does at conception and what she's been doing (if she's sexually active). Condemning illegtitimate sex only at pregnancy doesn't sufficiently condemn the sex, but instead condemns being pregnant.

When I was pregnant and preparing to graduate I had a nearly pathological fear that my classmates would think that my baby was an accident. At every chance I got I made it clear that I was married, the baby was planned, and I wasn't a skank. I'm not completely sure if my fear of judgement by my classmates was something specific to me, or if it's an LDS thing, or if it is just part of our culture.

I recently read this article (registration requred) about illegal abortions in El Salvador and the women who have them. In El Salvador *all* abortions are illegal and punished by jailtime. Even cases of ectopic pregnancy doctors must wait until the uterus perforates and the baby is already dead putting the mother at great risk and nearly sterilizing her.

A major pro-life (anti-abortion whatever you want to call it) arguement is that 'Indiscriminate sex is wrong. When you don't do it, you won't get pregnant and it won't be an issue. If you don't want a baby don't have sex.' A major pro-choice (pro-abortion) arguement basically says that 'Sometimes a pregnancy literally ruins a womans life, health, sanity etc. and she shouldn't be forced to have a baby that will kill or ruin her regardless of what she has done before.' I don't like the idea of anyone having an abortion. I fully recognize that there are times when abortions are necessary, and believe that women should be able to have the proceedure done in a clean safe environment. I don't want to argue about abortion legislation.

Instead I want to discuss the idea of becoming pro-pregnancy. In the anti-abortion camp pregnancy is arhetorical punishment for bad behavior, and abortion is an attempt to escape the consequences of your actions. The major problem I have with this is that the consequences fall disproportionately on the women who get pregnant. Their partners aren't condemned, and their non-pregnant counterparts aren't condemned either though they are all doing the exact same thing.

We know that it is largely futile to believe that we could police indiscriminate sex. What we can do is make it so that a pregnancy, though proof of sex, is not something that ruins a woman's life. We are so convinced that bad actions always bear bad fruit, that we feel that finding joy in an illegitimate pregnancy is condoning the illegitimate sex that lead to it. Pregnant teens are kicked out of their parent's houses. Pregnant women risk losing their jobs during maternity leave. Having a baby is nearly impossible to afford, even if the baby is given up for adoption. And there are countless intangible punishments for getting pregnant; the judgement from friends and coworkers, the stigma of being a single mom, and the culture-wide paranoia of the pain of labor.

I would hope that having a baby would never be viewed as punishment. If it isn't punishment then the average person wouldn't want to escape it. I would hope that pregnancy can always be met with joy and rejoicing regardless of how the child was concieved.

Monday, April 10


Nils has started being much more mobile and coordinated. He can pull himself up and stand at the couch, and cruise a little bit too. With this increased coordination comes an increased incidence of pain. He falls over, and pinches his fingers, bonks his head and all sorts of other things. I recognize his "I'm hurt!" cry and go to comfort him. I really like being able to comfort him.

Last night something really startled him (I think he had some static electricity and shocked himself). He cried longer than normal, and was content to let me hold him on my lap and rock him. While I was holding him I was thinking to myself how nice it felt. When I hold him while he's happy he sqirms, grabs at my hair and glasses, arches his back, whacks at my face, and wants down. He just isn't content to sit with me. When he's scared or hurt and wants comfort he'll just 'melt' into my arms and stay as long as I'll keep holding him.

It is an immensely gratifying feeling. It makes me feel loved and needed, important and special to my son. I don't like that he is in pain, but I love that he seeks me out when he is. I love to comfort him, and enjoy sitting with him in my arms.

I wondered if we aren't like that in God's eyes. When we're happy we're difficult to deal with. We want our way, and think we can do everything on our own. We don't want to be 'held.' When we need comfort from him we're much more 'still' we seek him out and listen carefully. I wondered if Heavenly Father doesn't get similar feelings of gratification when we seek out his help and comfort. Obviously God doesn't need me to make him feel important or loved, but at the same time I wonder if he doesn't feel it a little more strongly when I admit that I need him.

Tuesday, April 4


(This is also posted at PoF)
In every class I’ve had where the teacher covers ‘The Big Bang’ theory one student inevitably raises their hand and asks the followup question, “But what happened before the Big Bang?” or some variation thereof. Every teacher has their own way of handling it, some answering, “I don’t know,” some venturing into theology and others saying “there was simply nothing.” With the student’s minds sufficiently blown the teacher then moves on to other topics.

The classic human question is “Why are we here?” Our church has a pretty good answer to that; to gain a body and to “prove [our]selves herewith…”(exactly what that means may be up for debate). Some people ask the followup question, “Where were we before?” Very few, however ask this question, “Why did God do it at all?” I’ve found an answer to that question, “A continuing association in this life, as well as in the next, with those we love, should be the great desire of every person. It is the ulitmate. It is the great purpose of mortality. (Elder Elray L. Christiansen, Three Important Questions, Ensign, May 1974, 25)” We exist to build relationships, to learn to love people, and live so we can be with the ones we love.

The reason why we are here is to love people, and the reason why we need to love people is so we can enjoy their company in the eternities. Just to further solidify the point I’ll quote some scriptures. Among the very first things God said about the condition of man is that “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Ecclesiates tells us that the strength of two together is better than one. In Matthew 18 Jesus states that “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Showing that having a friend or two with you gives more benefits than pleasant company. Now lets address the other questions of, who, what, when and how?

Who? Everyone knows that we are supposed to have love in our hearts for all mankind. In the condensed version of the commandments we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, and are further instructed that our ‘neighbor’ is just about anyone we see. However considering the plight of Job, his friends were often not a comfort to him. Proverbs counsels that we “make no friendship with an angry man.” And gives as a warning “Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Which gives the idea that we will pick up the habits of our friends, and should choose as friends those that will lift us up.

What? What does a friend do? Some of Job’s good friends came to mourn with him. And Proverbs (again) says that “A friend loveth at all times.” A good friend will be honest with you, and will treat you with respect.

When? As an aspiring scientist I really like the idea of having something named after me. Like Fermat’s Theorem, Snell’s Law etc etc. For now I have what I call Starfoxy’s Paradox(TM). The paradox is that God will sometimes give commandments to us that we are not able to keep. (No matter what Nephi says!) Therefore there are many people saying something like this: “I want a friend. I’ve been commanded to have a friend. I’m trying to have friends. Through circumstances beyond my control, I am not able to have friends at this time.” The circumstances could be language barriers, lack of suitible canidates, or situations that require large amounts of time alone. (Starfoxy’s Paradox(TM) also applies to marriage: I want to be married, I’ve been commanded to get married, I’m trying, but I’m not able to be married right now.)
Which leads us to the really big questions, how? How on earth does one go about finding, and being the high quality friend and companion that we want and need? I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t feel qualified to tell anyone how to make or be a friend. I’ve had many bad experiences with friends, and the people that I get along with best are often not my peers. (I get along well with people who are on average 10-15 years older than me.) I’ve noticed recently that I rely too heavily on the social structure provided by the church to make my friends. I’ve also noticed that I am inept at interacting with people when I am not forced to by an external force (a job, a class, etc). So now I’m pushing this question on to you, how do you make friends?

Friday, March 31


My mom hates milk. She always has. When she was a baby she never had to be weaned. My grandma says that she tried to get her to drink milk, but after she was 8 months old she wouldn't do it at all anymore. She says it gives her phlegm. She didn't really care what kind of milk we had at home, and used to buy whole milk because it tasted better when she cooked with it. Eventually she decided that it was too fattening, and switched to 2%. It was only the loud griping of her children that kept her from buying skim or non-fat milk. We all loved whole milk, and would speak of it in glowing terms whenever the conversation came up.

About 4 months after moving from home I had an epiphany. I was at the grocery store buying milk. I remember looking at the dairy case thinking, "I could buy whole milk instead of 2%." I bought the milk, and left the store feeling like a rebel. Later that day I was talking to my roomate about my epiphany and she shared a similar story. We both realized how silly it was that we were buying things we didn't like just because it was what our parents had bought.

Looking back at it now it seems rather silly. My mom doesn't really care what kind of milk I drink. Her interest in my health indicates that she would have at least a vague interest in my eating habits. However, she's not going to beat me when she sees (gasp!) whole milk in my fridge. Many kids, when they leave home, are all too aware of their parent's control over their habits. Moving out is the time when all bets are off, and "I'm an adult now! You can't tell me what to do!"

However, I wonder if those same kids, who are all too eager to drink themselves daffy, are still buying the same brand of laundry detergent that their parents bought?

That moment when I was in front of the dairy case really was a watershed moment in my life. Yeah, the feeling like a rebel was silly, but the realization wasn't. At that moment I became aware of my ability to recreate myself. Until that point I was what my parents and family had shaped me into. After that point I became a work in progress, my own work in progress. I was still wearing the clothes, walking the walk, talking the talk, and buying the milk that my parents did.

My parents had told me what was right, what was wrong, what was important, and what didn't matter. They had done their job, because I could function as a member of society on my own. Now I had the opportunity and responsibility to make each of those value judgements again, but this time by myself. I was able to set my own priorities in a way I never could before. It was the first time when my own opinion was really all I needed to decide.

I'm still in the process of becoming my own person. I may always be in that process. I'm lucky though, that I can remember exactly when it started, and I can look back at that moment for inspiritation when I need it.

Tuesday, March 28

Belay on!

My husband's yougest sister went to a birthday party recently. The party was held at an indoor climbing wall, and she apparently had a great time. Since then she has wanted to go back so she convinced her mom and other siblings and us to go to the climbing wall again with her. (We had a great time too.) Climibing in a place like this happens in pairs. Both people wear a harness, and both are attached to one end of the same rope. The rope loops over a pulley at the top of the wall. Depending on which end of the rope you are attached to you are either the climber or the belayer. The belayer stays on the ground, keeps the rope taut as their partner climbs, and by use of a braking device ensures that the climber will not plummet to their demise. While I liked climbing well enough, I found that I rather enjoyed belaying. Maybe it has to do with my love of knots, and simple mechanical systems (pulleys, brakes, levers etc.). Maybe it was because I'm out of shape and didn't feel like scaling the wall more than a few times. I wondered, though, if it might have been because of the similarities with mothering.

The belayer is able to do rather a lot to help the climber. Using my weight I could apply the brake and pull down on the rope to give my partner a boost. This comes in handy for a climber who is only able to get a tenuous grasp on a tiny handhold. Another way a belayer can help is by pointing hand or foot-holds that the climber may not be able to see. Often their own body gets in the way of their view, or the curvature of the rock face prevents them from seeing a good hold that they could easily reach. From the ground at a distance away from the wall, a belayer can the whole face of the wall, and is able to move around a bit to change their vantage point. In this way I could counsel the climber to 'head more to the left' because I could see a 'pathway' that they could not. Keep in mind that the belayer is most important in emergencies. By being attentive they can be aware of when the climber begins to slip. They can brake the rope and prevent their fall. And should they get hurt the belayer can ease them down and is able to get help quickly.

I've heard it said before that I am "not staying home to have an immaculate house." I'm staying home to be the belayer for my family. To meet their needs for emotional security. To give them boosts of love (and loving discipline) and to aide them in selecting paths to pursue. I'm here to be aware of their needs, and to be ready to prevent their falls.

Yeah belaying gets boring sometimes, there is no way around it. Also every time I belayed for someone was a time that I didn't get to climb. I'll be able to climb every here and there, when someone else (read: my husband) belays for me.

Saturday, March 25

Be men!

Both Hugo and John have recently mentioned the need for a men's movement. Not the Roe v. Wade for men, but a movement of a different sort. A movement that is based on the idea that men are hurt by the 'patriarchy' (or, as I like to call it, the system) if not as deeply, then at least as often as women are. Read the posts by John and Hugo for a more thorough explanation.
In thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that the Priesthood could be this men's movement inasmuch as it has outlined a pattern of behavior for those who would hold it. The trick is that it is only efficient as the men who are a part of it make it. Let's compare and contrast, (I'm looking at this strictly with men in mind, much of what I say is equally applicable to women but we're not talking about them now.):
The first thing that the system tells men is that you are the center of the universe. *Everyone* exists in terms of you, how they can serve or be of use to you. Women look nice to attract you. Other men are around to give praise or punishment to you. The first thing the priesthood requires is service. Service given often, freely, and with no expectation of compensation or reward. In fact, any service you do is best done anonymously whenever possible. Not just lawn mowing and house moving, emotional service too. Commiserating, listening and comforting. Which brings us to the next point.
The second thing the system tells men is that weakness is bad, and therefore anything that hints at weakness is bad too. Crying in public, bad. Admitting you love someone, bad. Admitting to being wrong, bad. Accepting critisism, bad. And by extention, strength is good and anything that shows strength is good too. Being heartless, good. Taking control, good. Shows of physical strength (esp hitting) good. Laughing at other people, good. Being unapologetic, good. The next the priesthood requires is love, kindness, tenderness, and longsuffering. It requires men to bear their testimony, which often will move the bearer to tears. It requires men to respect authority and be obedient and meek and humble. And everyone's favorite, no unrighteous dominion. At the very hint of abusing another person in any way you are out of the club immediately.
The system says that men should meet together only to talk about beer, sex, and football. The priesthood requires men to meet together to talk about Christ, plan service projects, and share their feelings.
The system tells men that women are there to serve them, to make them dinner and clean their houses. The priesthood tells men that they have to serve, love and care for women especially. As much as it pains me to say this, perhaps priesthood ordinances are performed only by men to make it necessary for men to serve women. When I ask my husband for a blessing there is a strange power dynamic there, where my request is binding upon him and he is unfaithful if he refuses me (assuming my request is made in righteousness).
I suspect that the system has even redefined the way we view the priesthood to make it all about power, strength, dominion, and control. Reading all the things that are required *behaviorally* of priesthood holders it is exactly what a men's movement would need, if only we can get people to subscribe to the notion.

Friday, March 24


This is a really neat story told by Scott Adams, the best part is at the very end. Way cool.

Tuesday, March 21

Why the Sky is Blue

It's time for some serious public service. I know why the sky is blue, and I (hopefully) can explain so that nearly anyone could understand. The short answer is, "The sky is blue because scattering goes as function of 1/(lambda^4) and the sun is green." The long answer can be found below.

First, A little info on the nature of light and waves. Visible light is part of the "Electromagnetic(EM) Spectrum (which includes radiowaves, microwaves, infrared, light, UV, X-ray, and gamma radiation) . An electromagnetic wave is tricky to visualize, so I'm not even going to have you try. The important thing to remember is that the size (wavelength) of the EM wave determine how it interacts with matter.

To explain this a little bit, imagine you're on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. There are waves hitting the ship all the time, but they don't effect the ship at all because they are too small. If there was a wave that was as big as the ship, then the ship would be in trouble, and everyone would notice. Now, conversely, if you're a fish a cruiseship-sized wave doesn't phase you a bit, your whole little world just rides along with it. A smaller wave, however, that is about as big as you will jostle you around and be very disorienting.

The same is largely true of EM waves, they interact the most with electrical components that are of a similar size to themselves. Radio waves (AM and FM) are huge, and they interact best with big antennae giving you good reception. Gamma rays are tiny and interact best with little components of DNA, giving you three legged frogs. The size of EM wave that gives us, say, green light, interacts well with specific cells inside our eyes. Red light interacts with different cells in our eyes, and blue light interacts with other different cells. This allows us to see in color. Bees, and some other insects, have cells in their eyes that interact with Ultraviolet waves allowing them to see 'colors' that just don't exist for us. This part is very important, the size of the light wave determines it color. Violet light has the smallest wavelength, and red light has the largest. The colors go in this order Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, largest to smallest.

Now lets discuss scattering. Imagine you have a gun that shoots ping-pong balls in a rapid fire fashion. Now imagine you shoot this gun at the same point on a wall. All of the balls are going to bounce off in the same direction. That is called reflection. Now imagine you shoot the ping pong balls into a big bowl of frosting. They're all going to stick to the frosting. That is called absorption. Now imagine you fire the ping pong balls into a crowd of running people. The balls aren't going to be absorbed (like they did with the frosting), but they don't bounce off of the people uniformly(like they did with the wall) They're going to hit the people and bounce all over the place. This is called scattering.

When light passes through the dusty atmosphere it is like shooting the pingpong balls into a crowd of people. One ray of light will hit one particle of dust and bounce off in one direction while a second ray will hit another particle and go off in another direction. As the amount of dust increases the amount of scattering increases too. This part is really important, the smaller the light wave the greater the magnitude of the scattering. Firing ping pong balls into a crowd makes the ping pong balls go everywhere. Firing bowling balls into a crowd... well you get the idea.

The last important puzzle piece is the idea of white light. Doing the classic experiment with a prism one can see that white light is composed of all the colors traveling together, but it is just a little bit more subtle than that. Imagine you have a harp. You can pluck all of the strings together and make one loud and pretty sound. If you pluck all the strings, but pluck the ones in the middle the hardest you still end up with a similar sound, but as the sound fades you will hear the ones you plucked the hardest longer than then rest. White light is all of the colors together, and it still looks white even if there is more of one particular color.

Okay, now lets combine the pieces. White light comes towards earth from our sun. In the atmosphere there are bits of dust. The dust in our atmosphere is tiny, and scatters the smaller wavelenths (blue, indigo, violet) around. The larger wavelengths(red, orange, and yellow) pass straight through. The scattered light works it's way down to earth slowly from all directions, while the unscattered light seems to come straight at us from the sun. So when we look at the sky, we are seeing light from the sun that has been scattered by the atmosphere(the smaller wavelengths). When we look at the sun we see the light that came straight through(the larger wavelengths).

If this was all there is to it, then the sun would look red, and sky would be purple. The tricky thing is that the sun emits more green light than anything else. This means that there is more blue light, and yellow light coming towards us than red or purple light (red orange yellow green blue indigo violet). In the evenings when the sun is low on the horizon its light is travelling through more dust, so it looks more red, and the light coming at us from the sky looks more purple.

So, there you have it. That is why the sky is blue. I hope it makes sense. If it doesn't you are more than welcome to ask questions, and I will be happy to explain. You are more than welcome to use the short answer on your kids when they ask you this question. :)

Monday, March 20

Les Miserables

I have a sister whose main goal in life is to get me to read as many books as possible. I think she does this because she wants to talk with someone who has similar morals about the subjects covered in the books she reads. As it stands she has gotten me to read some very interesting books. One book that she convinced me to read was Les Miserables the unabridged version. While I found it tough to slog through the 40ish pages that describe the field where the battle of Waterloo was fought (in painstaking detail), I really enjoyed the in-depth character descriptions that never seem to make it into the movie adaptations. In fact, many of the books major characters are never even mentioned in movies, cliff-notes, and musicals.

The thing that disturbs me the most about the condensed version of the story is that the underlying truth that Mr. Hugo is trying to convey is lost. Every last person in the story is miserable, hence the title. Every character is a victim, and is a tragic figure. Valjean, Cosette, and Fantine are obviously tragic. They suffered at the hands of a corrupt system of government, and at the hands of others. The Thénardiers are often reduced to comic relief and cheap villainry. Javert is dehumanized and seen as only a mechanical monster. Marius and the other students are seen as noble martyrs, lofty and high-minded, using their tragic fate for a noble end.

Reading the book, undoes much of that. Valjean is a villian to Fantine by his ignorance of his factory's practices. The Thénardiers are undone by government and their own greed, and reduced to poverty that eats at the morals they once had. Eponine, their daughter, is a victim of Cosette's good fortune. Eponine's love for Marius, and the chance that he had to rescue her from her circumstances is lost or ignored because of his blind love for Cosette. Javert was raised in a prison by a cruel father, and was never able to see a good person. His belief that criminals are absolute, and can never be changed was such a part of him that he saw no choice but death when he learned of Valjean's goodness.

The only person who escaped his own misery, did so by taking the sufferings of others on himself. The Bishop Myriel chose when and by whom he would be made a victim. In so doing he shaped his own world, in a way that the others could not. He learned that one cannot escape misery, they can only chose it. By trying to escape it, you surrender your choice of misery to chance. I believe this is what Christ meant when he said to turn the other cheek. Don't escape your demons, choose them, and by choosing, control them.

I think Les Miserables was really the story of the plan of salvation. Eve ate the fruit knowing that life would happen like this. That every person to walk the face of the earth would be a tragic figure. That no person would escape sorrow and suffering. (Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.) But, by enduring the suffering, we will all move on and we will all find rest, comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s'en va.

Friday, March 17


FMH is having a discussion about Pedestals & Podiums. I haven't read it, but from what I understand it dicusses at great length the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment. The thing that has always cracked me up is the bathroom argument. Among the top reasons to oppose this constitutional amendment are, forcing the church to give women the priesthood, women being subject to the draft, and.... unisex bathrooms. The bathroom angle seems so mundane, and anticlimactic compared to the other two. Either way, I thought I'd share a experience I had last year for your reading enjoyment.

The university I went to had an area in the music building called the 'practice rooms.' This was a large section of the building filled with small sound insulated rooms where students could practice their instruments whenever they wanted and as loudly as they wanted. The area was often full of litter, and in poor repair. I would often go the practice rooms with my husband so that I could play one of the pianos without getting in anyone's way.

One evening, I had to use the bathroom. I wandered through the halls, but couldn't find them. I asked my husband if there were bathrooms nearby or if I'd have to use the ones downstairs. He said that the bathroom was to my right and around the corner. "They're the blue doors," he said. So I went down the hall, and found a blue door. That's right, just one. I couldn't see a second one, "Must be unisex" I thought. There wasn't a sign on the door, so I poked my head in to make sure it was empty. There were two stalls and a urinal. "That's weird that they'd put a urinal in a unisex bathroom," I thought to myself. The main door didn't lock like most unisex bathrooms. I didn't think too much of it, and went about my business.

A few weeks later we were in the practice rooms again, and this time I knew exactly where the bathroom was. I strode confidently into the bathroom only to find a young man at the urinal. "Oh!" I said, "excuse me." I walked quickly into the stall, thinking again how silly and stupid it is to have a urinal in a unisex bathroom without a lock on the main door. The young man, obviously flustered, left quickly. Afterwards I asked my husband what he thought about the urinal in the unisex bathroom.

"What unisex bathroom?" He asked.
"The one down the hall with the blue door." I answered.
"There isn't a unisex bathroom." He said, starting to look concerned.
"Yes there is," I insisted, "I just used it."
"Show me."

So we marched down the hall to the bathroom door. He then pointed out what the poor lighting had hidden from me. In black permanent marker, on the dark blue door was written "MEN." I could barely make it out, even when I knew it was there. Did they really expect people to be able to see that?

I gasped. "Where's the women's bathroom?" I demanded. He took a few steps to the right, past a decrepit sofa and behind some lockers where a second blue door was adorned with the word "WOMEN."

"No wonder that guy looked so suprised!" I said.
"What guy?" he asked.
"The one using the urinal when I went in here a few minutes ago."
"What did you do?" he asked, looking even more concerned.
"I said 'excuse me' and went to the bathroom." I told my husband matter of factly, starting to giggle a little bit.
He just shook his head.

So, anyways, I don't see all the fuss is over unisex bathrooms, but then again that might be just me. Maybe we ask that guy at the urinal what he thought about it.