Category Archives: social connectedness

Your guide to the Ask Mormon Girl archive

Howdy, beloved friends and visitors!

Welcome to the world of Ask Mormon Girl, a four-year archive of columns on the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs of living the “it’s complicated” version of faith. Since January 2010, perfect strangers sent queries to askmormongirl@gmail.com. And I did my best to answer, before turning it over to the AMG community of readers, who always brought wisdom, love, humor, and exceptional insight. Thank you all so much.

For the time being, I’m not taking new queries. But I do encourage you to peruse the vast Ask Mormon Girl archives. You can use the site’s search function in the right column toolbar, click on relevant categories in the wordcloud also at right, or (if you’re really determined!) read the entire archive month by month. There is much here to keep you company whether you’re in faith transition, or you wonder about sticky spots in Mormon history and doctrine, or are a feminist, or a budding LGBT ally, or are one of the many, many Mormons (or Catholics, or Jews) who always feel like the odd duck at the potluck.

I hope you’ll find something in the archives to soothe you. You’ll find me popping in from time to time over at the legendary Feminist Mormon Housewives blog, where I love to cook up trouble–like scholarships and feminist summer camps–with my rowdy Mo fem friends.

As my childhood heroes Donny & Marie Osmond used to sing, “May tomorrow be a perfect day / May you find love and laughter along the way / May God keep you in His tender care / Til He brings us together again. Goodnight, everybody!

Or as my yoga teacher Dave says, namaste.

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Is Mormon Faith Crisis for Men Only? Or did the NY Times Miss Half the Story?

Beloved readers and visitors:  Since concluding my series on the theology of LDS gender and priesthood, I’ve taken a summer breather.  But this week, I’m back with something to say about Sunday’s front-page New York Times article on disaffection, historical controversy, and faith crisis among contemporary Mormons.

Please check it out by visiting Feminist Mormon Housewives.  Click here.

 

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Ask Mormon Girl: How do I live my faith and my conscience? A Passover / Easter week special.

Forgive me if I step away this week from our regularly scheduled format.

Today—just today–I spoke with three young Mormons facing the exceptional challenge of living their faith and by the leadings of their conscience:

–A young woman who feels led to speak out on the issue of women’s ordination, but who worries that if she does she will get kicked out of BYU and lose her job.

–A young mother in a conservative Utah town whose neighbors are boycotting her home-based business because she is open about her Mormon feminism.

–And a worthy, believing young man (who I will soon profile at my other gig at ReligionDispatches.org) who has been told he cannot serve a mission because he believes his gay brother is equal in the sight of God and deserves all the same blessings and opportunities he enjoys.

We talked for an hour tonight, this young man and me, and he asked me, finally, “Look, I read your bio—and it left me wondering.  Why do you stay?”

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Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a high school senior. Should I go to BYU?

[This post has been updated.]

I am a high school senior seriously stressed out about college. I have serious issues with conformity and the lack of diversity at BYU, but I secretly feel like I wont be happy unless I go there, even if that means possibly turning down Harvard, Columbia, and full scholarships to USC and UVa. Can you tell me about your experience at BYU?

JL in Arkansas

My experience at BYU?

Just this week, JL, I was digging through an archive bin in my garage when I laid my hands on a prized letter from Rex Lee, who was the president of Brigham Young University during my years as a Cougar.  It was a letter I received after sending my diploma back after graduation.

That’s right.  I sent back my diploma.  Had to do with the firing of one of my favorite professors, Cecilia Konchar Farr, on some pretty shady grounds:  BYU said it was her scholarship, but we all knew it was her feminism that got Ceil in hot water.  And Ceil wasn’t the only BYU faculty member or student feeling the heat of retrenchment during the 1990s.

Those were some times. 

Here’s President Lee’s letter:

redact rex lee

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Mormon Girl Asks: Post-election, how are we doing?

Dear readers:

There’s an image that keeps coming to mind–like a memory from the playground–of a kid running hard, then tripping and hitting the dirt, then picking themselves up and dusting off and checking for broken bones.

Now that the election is all over, is everyone doing okay out there?

Because that was a lot of stress on the world of Mormonism.  As much as we’d like to think we’re public people totally comfortable being in public about our faith, truth is, I think we prefer a bit of privacy:  lots of us prefer hanging out with other Mormons, people to whom we don’t have to explain all the tender and complicated bits.  And for the last 18 months, there has been a good deal of searching attention directed our way from the friendly and curious to hard-hitting and even some downright mean.

And then there are the stresses a campaign can unleash inside a community–win or lose–people are people, and people take sides, sides they often feel very strongly about.  Many Mormons invested a lot of heart and soul (not to mention time and cash) in one or the other side.  And while some of us are pleased with the outcomes–it’s no secret I am an Obama supporter–others are quite disappointed.  Including people I care about very much.

So let’s take a moment, beloved ones, and catch some breath and take stock.

How are we doing, in the post-Romney moment?

How did we come through as Mormons?

And how are we handling the aftermath?

I’m not looking for gnashing of teeth–though I know plenty of it is happening out there.  Or judginess.  Or meanness.  Or mean victory dances.  I’m looking for smart and compassionate descriptions and assessments of this moment in Mormon history.

What’s the good that has come of it?  And where (and why) are we hurting?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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Do Mormons view Catholics and people of other faiths as “abominable?”

I have done a fair amount of research on your faith and have found it to have many merits. My question has to do with Joseph Smith’s revelation that all denominations were “abominations” in the eyes of God. From further readings it appears that Joseph Smith singled out the Roman Catholic Church as the “worst” of the denominations.  Yet I came across an article in a Catholic magazine that had an interview with the Catholic bishop of SLC and the President of LDS, who described their denomination’s relationship with each other as good, and noted that the LDS church assisted Catholic Charities in aid projects.  Does the LDS Church still teach that other churches are an abomination?  Is this still a key tenet of the faith?  

Sincerely,

K

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Book of Mormon Girl: childhood comfort food recipe contest winner!

Greetings, all, and congratulations to the winner of The Book of Mormon Girl childhood comfort food recipe contest:  Ellen C., of Portland, and author of the blog Flushed Face.

Ellen shared her mom’s recipe for burger bean cups, which has all the key components of an affordable Mormon family dinner–cream of mushroom soup? check. Canned green beans? check. Ground beef? check.  Dinnertime started at our house every night with the block of ground beef leaving the freezer and going into the microwave.  Good times!

Here’s the recipe:

One of my Mom’s classic dinners as we were growing up was “Burger Bean Cups”.  I have no idea where she got this recipe, or if it was something that other families ate, but I always loved them.  In fact, I still do.  They are little cups of comfort to me, and oh so retro.  There is nothing fancy about these, except maybe the fact that you use “french cut” green beans (ooh la la).  In fact, they’re kind of ugly. But the creamy filling paired with the hearty hamburger is straight out of my childhood.  After a freezing afternoon of snow sledding at “the dirt hills”, these were just the thing to warm us up.  Mom always served them right out of a muffin tin, the perfect serving size for a kid.  
 
I hadn’t had these in for-eh-vah… but I convinced Paul to let me make them one night last month.  They turned out perfect… just like Mom used to make.

Burger Bean Cups
1 lb ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 can french cut green beans

Mix 1/4 cup of the cream of mushroom soup together with the ground beef, bread crumbs, chopped onions, egg, salt, and pepper.  Drop mounds of the beef mixture into a muffin tin, hollowing out the middle to form little nests.  Combine the rest of the soup and the green beans.  Spoon the bean mixture into the middle of each nest. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins.

Please check out her sweet blog here, including recent pictures of a family trip to the coast–with crabbing–which left me plain jealous.

Ellen and other contest runners-up will received signed copies of The Book of Mormon Girl.

Thanks, Ellen!

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Minivan love.

And then this arrived from a Utah reader of The Book of Mormon Girl:

“I just have to tell you a sweet experience I had while reading your book. I was sitting in my minivan in the parking lot of my girls tumbling studio, reading. I was all emotional and leaned down to get a tissue. I looked over and another mom in a minivan was looking at me. She then held up her copy of your book that she was reading right then too. I rolled my window down as I was using my tissue. We then sort of commiserated about the tears we had shed over the book. I don’t know her story, but I know we both found part of our story in yours.

“Thanks for being so brave. I feel like I am having more courage to be open about my ‘issues’ with my faith. It is so helpful to have you and others be open about your ‘issues’ too. Like my mom always said, ‘There is strength in numbers.’”

Thank you for reading.  And thanks for letting me into your minivan.

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Good things happen when you tell your story.

There were tears.
Of course.
Big hugs to everyone who filled the chairs (and the stairs and the balcony) at wonderful Sam Weller’s Books in Salt Lake City.  Thanks to Meg who drove from *POCATELLO, IDAHO* just to be there.  Thanks for lining up to share your thoughts and stories with me, and letting me give knuckles to your kids.  Young Mormon kids sitting through an hour-long book reading?  Amazing. That reverence training sure pays off!
I wanted to share two letters from readers of The Book of Mormon Girl.  This one is from Anna, a non-Mormon reader: “I picked up a copy of your book in Barnes in Noble the other day and started to read it on a whim. I was so captivated by it that I came back the next day to read more of it.
 Before I read your book, I knew a fair amount about the LDS church but after reading your story and watching a few of your videos, I have found myself far more accepting to the nuances of the Mormon faith. Although I’m not Mormon, I could relate to your longing to discover more about oneself and one’s faith. Your book and your story have provided both inspiration and encouragement to me in the midst of my own faith journey.”
Thank you, Anna.  I am glad this book helped you see Mormonism with more warmth and understanding.  And I hope it provides you strength and courage as you walk your own path in this life.
And this, from a fellow BYU alum, living in Utah:
“I was walking through Costco when I stumbled upon your book.  I worried that it was going to be one of those books where the author thinks she is smarter than you because she got out of the church. I picked it up and bought it. [Reading it,] I felt proud of the way you represented strong women, the way you were true to the conflicting feelings being a member of the church presents. It is a great book – I went back to Costco and bought 5 more copies to give to friends and family.

Just wanted to let you know you have a sister in the gospel rooting for you – you represented us well. Keep fighting the good fight.”
Thank you.  I am rooting for you too.  I am rooting for all of us–Mormons in this moment when our beloved faith is under scrutiny, and we are putting ourselves and our fellow Church members under scrutiny too–may we all have courage and full hearts and tell our stories with hope, confidence, and loyalty.
And I am rooting for anyone who is on a spiritual journey.  Strength for your travels.

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Bravery and tears. P.S. See you soon at Wellers SLC.

I’m packing my bags.  I’m boarding a plane tomorrow for Salt Lake City, and I’m hoping to see you Thursday night, 8/23, at 7 p.m. at Weller’s Books.  I’m bringing a copy of The Marie Osmond Guide to Beauty Health and Style to give to whoever has the most outstanding object lesson story to share.
And I’m really looking forward to meeting a bunch of you all and crying a few tender Mormon tears.  It always happens. We are a crying people.  I know it’s a good day when someone (men, usually!) tweets at me with mock outrage that they had tears dripping down their face on public transport because of the book.  Tears often mean good things in Mormonism.  They can mean softened hearts.
I want to share with you a letter I got today from a reader who read the whole BOMG camped out in the BYU Bookstore at my alma mater.  (I hope he got some cinnamon bears from the candy counter to strengthen and nourish him!)  Please read.  Is there someone in your life you need to have a tough and tender conversation with?  Is there someone you want to share your story with?  I hope my book gives you the courage to do so.
This letter is from a young man; we’ll call him “F.”
“When I asked the BYU bookstore clerk this morning if they had a copy of The Book of Mormon Girl; I was honestly expecting them to say no. The clerk, however, grabbed one of the two of the copies on the shelf, handed to me, and I began reading.

“I was excited to read it after hearing the recommendations from some close friends. 

“I laughed out loud at your descriptions of growing up in an LDS home. I too have felt the anxiety of finding my root-beer among the cokes. My heart ached as you described the crises that came later in life. I loved the book, in fact, I read the entire thing there in the bookstore today (with a brief break for a foot-long black-forest ham on wheat).

“While reading, many people walked past me… possibly judging a 25 year old guy for reading a book with three little bonnetted girls on the cover. Two individuals stopped to talk: my best friend and the mom of a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen in years. I talked to both of them about your story and how it relates to mine–the conversations that resulted had a powerful impact on me.

“My best friend has been along side of me for 7 years… we met my first day at helaman halls. Through my mission, through the rest of my under-grad years, and through my faith crisis this past year, he’s been there praying for me. He understood, as I recounted some of your stories, how relevant this book is to my own life and experience. We then talked for over an hour about issues of faith, doubt, leaders, and the future of the church–I felt more honest, more connected and more hopeful as a result. I knew that, if for no other reason, your book mattered because it led to that conversation with my friend.

“Then (after the sandwich break) I saw the woman whom I hadn’t seen in years. We talked about our families, her feelings about becoming an empty-nester for the first time… and then what I was reading. I told her about how it with interesting to me to read about people’s experiences navigating the difficult aspects of Mormonism and how these aspects have lead me down a painful (but important) path this past year. She then opened up about her experiences with faith and doubt, as well as the experiences of her two sons who have left Mormonism. She talked about her current experience serving as the Relief Society president and the trials and blessings involved. Once again, your book inspired a much needed and affirming conversation for me today.

“Your honesty and bravery has inspired me to be more honest and brave.

“I have recently rediscovered the testimony that I was mourning losing. Nothing has been more painful for me than questioning the very thing that has given so much meaning to my life. Through this agonizing process, however, I have felt myself grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.”

Thank you, F, for being brave. Thank you for sharing.  See you all Thursday night in Zion.

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