I woke up with terrible sinus pressure this morning, and I’m functioning in a bit of a fog. I had a post planned for today, but can’t think straight enough to finish it. But then I ran across Mindful Digressions’ post. This one is good. One day (hopefully soon) I’ll add my own thoughts on the subject.
This is for you, brother Gallagher
A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with an LDS friend about this blog. I told him I wanted to publish a blog about my political point of view and how it affects me as a member in the church. He thought it was a great idea, and totally encouraged me to blog away. I was surprised, because so many of the responses I have gotten about my political affiliation have been negative–especially from members of the church in Utah. When I told him I was afraid to make it public, he wanted to know why. I explained “I was afraid I might be excommunicated.”
Brother Gallagher was surprised. He said, as condescendingly as a good friend can, “Oh, you wouldn’t be excommunicated!” I had to agree, I never felt I could be excommunicated for being liberal, I just felt that the attempt, could and even might be made. I still do. But I pointed out to Brother Gallagher that the feelings were VERY real, and that I honestly felt that my faithfulness could be called into question.
I wasn’t wrong. One week ago, Mark Paredes, a Mormon Bishop, blogged “Good riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate Leader” in Jewish Journal, an online forum for Jewish news, and related articles. The first few lines are VERY Clear. Paredes says that as a Democrat, Harry Reid supports, affiliates with, and agrees with a group “whose teachings or practices are contrary to, or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” In short, according to Paredes, Harry Reid is not worthy of his temple recommend. What?
As both a Jew (my Jewish grandmother converted while my mom was still in her teens), and a Mormon, I am extremely offended. In fact, I am speechless to explain the depth of betrayal I feel from those of my own kind. But maybe Brother Gallagher was right. Maybe I wouldn’t be excommunicated, but could I be disfellowshipped? Could I have my temple recommend revoked? Depending on the bishop, it’s a possibility. This is a problem.
With God as my guide, how can I be wrong?
My conversation with Brother Gallagher came just a couple of weeks after I summoned up the courage to revive this blog and actively recruit followers. I had finally decided I’d had enough of pretending that I am something I am not. I have come to the complete and honest understanding, that to be true to myself, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to be a liberal, and I must be honest, and upfront about it. We claim to be an evangelical church, one who shares our love of the Gospel with others, part of my love of the Gospel is understanding that Jesus asks us to go and do as he did. And what He did, was feed the poor, serve the needy, and love others unconditionally. I don’t see much of that in the Republican rhetoric, and I consider it my responsibility to share my love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the Gospel of Mitt Romney.
As a single mother of four children, my choices were judged by my Mormon neighbors, and a well-meaning bishop. It hurt. I saw my children hurt by members of the church who prefered to sit in judgment instead of pitching in to help when I needed it so desperately. I had been so hurt, that I avoided making contact with those people at all costs–and trust me, those costs were dear. Three of my children left the church over it. After we moved out of the area, two came back. The problem was that I had both a solid testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a solid testimony of the hypocrisy of members of my church. At a time when my only consolation was temple attendance, I could not afford to quit going to church and lose my temple recommend. I would not have dared to make my thoughts public. The difference between then and now, is that I put my trust in God, and not in the arm of flesh. The difference between now and then, is self-confidence. I know that God loves me. He is proud of my accomplishments, and He wants me reach out and help others who are navigating the paths where I once crawled. How can I do that, if I am afraid to share my testimony openly, or I am pushed out ?
And this is for you, Bishop Paredes
Like our living prophets and apostles, bishops are people too. They can have strong opinions and be narrow-minded. They can be open and loving too. Sometimes, they are both. Like me, apostles, prophets and bishops are fallible human beings. We can, and do, make mistakes. Please, Bishop Paredes, don’t push those liberal members of your ward out of the church. Talk to them. LISTEN to them. LEARN from them. I think you will find that they share many of the same feelings about the Gospel as you do. I think you will find that their differences in understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be pivotal in your spiritual growth. To put a twist on President Uchtdorf, don’t judge them because they understand Jesus differently than you.
In fact, If I may, let me share the words of Richard Davis, another church leader who sees things differently:
Church meetings should not be occasions for political exclusiveness, and activity of the Church (including temple recommend status) should not be connected to party affiliation. Unfortunately, Bishop Paredes’ blog post has reminded us that this is not so. Democrats still face prejudice and attempted disenfranchisement. There are members who look with suspicion upon other members who are Democrats or more liberal in their political views. I don’t view this group as in any way a majority, but it does exist and, as indicated by the incident with Bishop Paredes, members of that minority can become leaders with the ability to attempt to exclude if they wished to do so. From The Problem and Opportunity with Bishop Paredes’ Blog Post.
As Davis points out, this is an opportunity to openly discuss the elephant in the room. Sometimes that elephant is invisible, we really can’t believe that our way of seeing the Gospel might be different from the church member sitting in the pew next to us. For me, it is an opportunity to stand up and be counted. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I love being open-minded and charitable (In my mind, that translates to liberal). Let’s start by being open to differences.
I have suffered from depression for more than 30 years. Suicidal thoughts are a very real part of it, and when winter comes on, it gets worse for me. In fact, it is the anxiety that does it for me. I have often said that I would rather die than go through another anxiety attack. At the time, all I can think of is “how can I stop this?” I am managing pretty well now, in fact, I am out of work and feeling better than I have in quite a while. We need to get this message out.
A few months ago, my brother and I were asked to take part in a Mormon Message about suicide prevention. I hope that it is helpful to you. If someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please continue to place your arm of love around them. Believe me, a seemingly small and simple act of love can change someone’s entire life.
From the video description: There is no easy solution for helping someone who has thoughts about ending their life. But there are some things we can do to reach out to them.
The most common sources of pain for someone having suicidal thoughts are feeling disconnected from other people, feeling like they’re a burden to others or that people would be better off without them. Coupled with the hopeless thoughts that things aren’t going to change, suicidal thoughts become risky.
For some, like Seth Adam Smith, the right words spoken…
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The day is nearly over, and I am just now realizing tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. My dad was a Marine. My brother was a Marine. My sister and another brother were in the Air Force. I thank them all for their service.
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.
The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.
I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I…
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November is a beautiful time of year! Being thankful is better than all of the Christmas gifts put together because you are reminded of all of the gifts you already have. I have decided that just as we devote a whole month to Christmas, we really need to devote a whole month to Thanksgiving. So this month’s blog posts are devoted to an attitude of gratitude.
While I truly believe that there are good and bad things that happen in life, things that are the results of good and bad choices, and things that are completely out of our control, I also truly believe that there is a God that answers our prayers and is watching over us.
Until August 1999, I had a vague concept of God and if anyone had asked, would have told them I was agnostic, leaning toward atheist. I was very far away from God in those days–embroiled in a deteriorating marriage to a narcissistic psychopath, drinking and smoking pot in an attempt to “put up” with him, all while I was raising two young children. I also was an unfaithful wife (as was my husband) and handily made excuses about my infidelity based on his abusive treatment of me and the fact he was unfaithful too. I never darkened any church’s doorway, and thought prayer was useless and silly. God was an abstract and mostly irrelevant concept to me–of no further consequence to my personal life than an Ebola case in Africa. My theory back then was that if there was a God, then maybe he created the universe, but then he…
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