BYU

Thoughts On Daniel Peterson

Recently there has been a bit of a kerfuffle regarding the abrupt dismissal of Daniel Peterson as editor of the Mormon Studies Review (formerly FARMS Review).  This event, and some of the responses I’ve heard since, have gotten under my skin.  Its an itch I haven’t been able to scratch, so I decided to write this blog post.  Normally I keep my distance from apologetic discussion boards and the bloggernacle, preferring to do things to improve my life for real, rather than debate someone on the internet.  But like I said, the majority of the responses to Daniel Peterson’s dismissal have been unsatisfying to me.  

One of the responses I’ve heard can be summed up with this handy visual:  Image

Why The Church Hasn’t Condemned Its Racist Past

As a result of its interpretation of the Bible as forbidding interracial dating, Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina did not admit any black students prior to 1971.  Between 1971 and 1975 it admitted married, but not single, black students and in 1975 began to admit both married and single black students.  Nevertheless, it continued to forbid interracial dating, punishing (or in the first instance simply not admitting) those who engaged in it.  This was a very costly principle.  In 1982, after years of wrangling in court, it was finally determined that the IRS was within its rights to revoke BJU’s tax exempt status based on its racist policies retroactive to 1970, to collect over a million dollars in back taxes and to collect taxes going forward. More

What’s Wrong With The Mormon Church?

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Introduction:
Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”.  It was on this day 494 years ago that Martin Luther nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

And while readily acknowledging that I’m no Martin Luther, it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that I offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that, in my opinion (as well as in the opinion of many others) is badly in need of it. More

The Problem of The Mormon Tank (Revisited)

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog. I was actually planning to publish – and was working on – brand new, original material when several of the Mormon Expression Podcast and Blog discussion boards “lit up” with interesting dialog. I feel that that the content of this previously published article is relevant to several of them. So with no further adieu – and with a nod, a wink, and a grin to Eric’s last blog – I offer for your consideration, “The Problem of The Mormon Tank (Revisited)”.

Artist's depiction of the crew in a Sherman Tank.

Artist's depiction of the crew in a Sherman Tank.

Here’s the problem
If you’re in an Army Tank and pull out a compass the needle will point toward magnetic north. However, the compass is only validated if when you get outside that Tank and it’s still pointing in the exact same direction.Then, it’s only truly validated if it’s compared to yet another “known good” compass while outside the tank and they both point in the same direction. That is, the one point of internal reference and two points of external reference are all calibrated. The reason for this is simple: The magnetic field created by the iron armor of the Tank interferes with the compass’s operating integrity. You could consult a thousand compasses inside the Tank, and still get the same compromised and errant result every time. More

The journey out — A small bit about me, Tierza

Way back when I was a student at BYU, right before my mission in 1996, I came upon a quiz you could take to see if you were an interesting person.  Now, understand that I do not consider myself remarkable at all.  You wouldn’t notice me in a crowd.  I just don’t stand out. But when I took that quiz I aced it:  Ever been in a flood? Check!  Survived a volcanic eruption? Check!  Lived in Alaska?  Check!  Endured hurricanes? A tsunami? A hostage crisis?  Had bears try to get in your bedroom?  Had the passengers in the plane behind yours on the runway have to push your plane out of the mud?  Worked in a packing plant for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a day off, for over a month? Check, check, check, check and CHECK!  Of course those last few items weren’t in the quiz itself but once I got going I couldn’t stop.  Never mind that the tsunami was a terrifying 2 and a half inches, nor that the earthquakes happen every day in Alaska and weren’t much of a big deal, nor that the ‘hostage crisis’ was one I shared with almost the entire student body of BYU back in 1992.  I was, at least on paper, interesting after all.

It seems, according to this quiz, that the more dangerous and uncommon your life has been the more interesting you are.  The problem with a quiz like that is that what is uncommon about your life may not be anything you can control:  Most of my adventures took place in Alaska where I lived because my parents chose to live there.  It is also quite likely that what sounds good on paper just wasn’t that exciting in person:  All that dangerous stuff is only makes you interesting if you survive it.

Which is why, in my life, I have mostly avoided the dangerous stuff.  I don’t even like conflict.  I want things to be safe, simple and predictable.  As a teenager I was fond of declaring that I was glad I had been born in the church because I knew that I would never have been converted.  I could never have gone against the opinions of my family and friends to set out, on my own, to follow an uncharted path.  I couldn’t take the disapproval.  Ironically I knew this because I wasn’t really converted to the Church, and I knew I would never have the courage to leave the religion that had defined the lives of my ancestors for five and six generations.

I’m 37 now.  And this year I came out of the disbeliever’s closet.  I quit attending the LDS church.  I told my husband, my bishop and then my father and, eventually, my mother about my decision to stop attending.  It took more courage than I thought I had.  In fact, in the month it took the bishop to release me from my callings as ward chorister, music chairperson, young women’s personal progress leader, and Relief Society teacher, while I felt obliged to keep teaching and leading the music and, of course, attending church, I had a complete emotional breakdown that landed me in the hospital and intensive outpatient therapy.  To leave the church was to risk the emotional connections with every family member and friend that sustain me day to day.  It meant that my introverted and non-thrill-seeker soul would have to step out on the edge, look for connections and identity in places beyond my narrow, lifelong, Mormon identity.

Joyfully, most of my relationships remain intact.  My husband loves and supports me in my journey.  My father and mother are trying to understand and love me.  I still associate with friends from church and, as I try to be honest but kind with them, they are honest and kind to me.  I still fear.  I fear that their kindness is missionary work and not genuine.  I fear my husband with grow tired of me and my new visions of life.  I fear my mother will never be able to think about me without crying.