My Story

I am deeply interested in religion, politics, current events, history, musical theater and books! I left the LDS church a couple years ago and have spent a lot of time since then thinking and considering various religious influences in my life and in the lives of those around me. For more information on why I left the LDS church, look here. I also love to sing, act, dance (tap preferably) and perform on stage whenever possible.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I have been part of The Sterling Singers (a local choir) for several years now and currently we are preparing for a concert that will feature many of the great classical composers. The songs are in various languages: English, Italian, German, Latin and French. We have spent many hours in rehearsal working on the French piece specifically. The piece is Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11. by Gabriel Faure. Our director has painstakingly made sure that we are getting the proper pouty lips to pronounce the phrases correctly (one of my favorites being, Répands sur nous le feu de which for me translates to ray paw suhr new luh fuh duh tuh). I have personally spent so much time worrying about the French pronunciation that I haven't even bothered to look up the English translations to know what, exactly, it was I was singing about.

Tonight, I attended rehearsal feeling a bit weighed down in thought and spirit. However, as we sang this song, I suddenly had an understanding of what it was I was singing about and deeply related to the message therein. I didn't have any real knowledge of what the translation was (I actually had to ask a neighbor to confirm my feelings) but I felt the meaning so keenly just through the music and the feelings it stirred inside of me.

Below is the French text of the song followed by the English translation. I am always amazed at the ability music has to teach and help us to understand even if we cannot possibly understand the exact meaning. Through this beautiful piece of music, my soul was comforted and some peace restored on this otherwise stormy evening. Thank you, Gabriel Faure.

Verbe,égal au Très-Haut, notre unique espèrance,
Jour éternel de la terre et des cieux;
De la paisible nuit nous rompons le silence,
Divin Sauveur, jette sur nous les yeux!

Répands sur nous le feu de ta grâce puissante,
Que tout l’enfer fuie au son de ta voix;
Dissipe le sommeil d’une âme languissante,
Qui la conduit à l’oubli de tes lois!

O Christ soit favorable à ce peuple fidèle
Pour te bénir maintenant rassemblé.
Reçois les chants qu’il offre à ta gloire immortelle,
Et de tes dons qu’il retourne comblé!

Word, equal to the Almighty, our only hope,
Eternal light of the earth and the Heavens;
We break the peaceful night’s silence,
Divine Saviour, cast your eyes upon us!
Spread the fire of your mighty grace upon us
May the entire hell flee at the sound of your voice;
Disperse from any slothful soul the drowsiness
Inducing it to forget your laws!
Oh Christ, look with favour upon this faithful people
Which has now gathered to bless you.
Receive its singing, offered to your immortal glory,
And may it leave with the gifts you have bestowed upon it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yes We Can!

So Barack Obama is seriously my new hero. His speech tonight was awesome. I loved that he really dug in and talked about the issues and specifically what his plans are for America. When he talked about going through the budget line by line to make sure he could fund the important programs that will help the American people, I kind of had that feeling that I get everytime I watch my favorite movie, "Dave". Here's a normal guy who understands what the American people want and he is willing to work hard at it to make American's dreams a reality. It is so nice to finally feel that there may be some hope for our country afterall. When he officially accepted the party nomination at the beginning of his speech I actually got a little teary eyed. It is so cool to be witnessing this historic occasion. Nominating Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate for 2008 shows that we, as a nation, have effectively stamped out many of the racial biases of the past. Obviously there are still steps to be taken to ensure equality for all Americans, but this is a huge step in the right direction. The historic nature of the occasion was underscored by today also being the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The "one day" that King talks of so passionately is now today. His dream is now a reality.

Another highlight of the week was the speech Bill Clinton gave last night. My favorite line was " People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

However, even though I am a huge Obama fan (can you tell?) I have committed to myself to also listen to McCain's speech next week. It may be painful but I think its important to listen to both sides. I'm afraid my review of that speech may not be so glowing, but we shall see, maybe he will surprise me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Little Advice

Don't lose your credit card! Seriously. Don't. Even if you are getting gas at midnight behind a scary old building with no one around and you're terrified of getting mugged or worse and its dark and cold outside, and did I mention, scary? Yes even then, put the safety of your credit card first!

You may have guessed that I am speaking from experience on this one. I was afraid I had lost my card and early this week my fears were confirmed. $150 in charges appeared on my credit card but that was only a small fraction of the damage that had been done. Whoever decided to go on a shopping spree with my credit card managed to rake up over $850 in charges in just three days! So now after several phone calls with my credit union, a couple to the local police department, dealing with a rather unhappy husband, a personal visit to the credit union and many, many signatures later, I am nearly done cleaning up the mess. And although everyone has been very helpful and assured me that we will not be responsible for the fraudulent charges, it's still a little scary to think someone went around posing as me for three days...forging my signature and pretty much wrecking havoc on my finances. Officer Friendly gave the impression they would actually try to track down the thieves but I know my little financial problem is probably not the highest priority on their "bad guys to track down" list. Oh well, I can still dream there might be a little justice in the end, right?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Trouble in River City

Since I don't have anytime at the moment to write anything meaningful, I pulled in a cool piece I read on a friends blog. This is a topic I have wanted to write about for some time, but honestly I'm not sure I could have said it any better than my friend does in his piece. Also, since I am a musical theater junkie, he won me over with his Music Man, so fitting...

I remember the first time I heard someone politically engage the issue of gay marriage from the pulpit in church. It caught my attention and woke me up because it wasn’t the typical grace vs. works, or love thy neighbor kind of rhetoric that I was used to napping through. I won’t name names (because I couldn’t if I wanted to), but he was sort of a high-up bigwig, a 70 if you know what I mean. The short-of-the-long was that he asked us to go home and write our senators and state representatives to support the Federal Marriage Amendment of 2006, which in a sweeping motion would forever etch the status of marriage in the law books as a [sacred] union between one man and one woman. He read an official letter that a lot of you probably heard as well, but this gentleman went off the cuff with a slippery-slope argument about how we don’t want America to become like Canada, where school children are required to learn about gay couples in Kindergarten using scandalous books such as One Dad Two Dads, Brown Dad Blue Dads (which is listed on Amazon, used, with a going price of $253.94 as a result of the ordeal in Canada surrounding it). He really stirred the congregation up; there was trouble in River City on that day. I could almost hear the mantra of “trouble… trouble… trouble…” as the postlude was played and the folks shuffled out the chapel doors.

I remember our apartment managers posted the address of our Senators on the cork-board by the elevator in our building as a friendly reminder for all of us to do our homework and put our letters in the mail. They really drew a line in the sand, one which I was compelled to cross and stand on the unpopular side. Honestly, I felt pretty bothered by the whole thing, partially because I had a lot of friends, family and coworkers who are… well… gay! I did write my senator (if only for my sake, because I’m sure it fell on deaf ears) and I argued that ratifying a lock-out amendment on marriage wouldn’t make gay people or gay couples disappear. You can’t wear blinders, stick your fingers in your ears and go “La la la!” forever to ignore them or pretend that they don’t exist- or worse- that they shouldn’t exist. I argued on empirical grounds that most of them are functional, contributing, and respectable members of society, and that I believe they are entitled to some or all of the civil benefits, protection and recognition that other marriages and families enjoy.

There are aspects of a civil partnership that don’t necessarily have anything to do with God, religion, right or wrong, or sex, but have everything to do with relationship and commitment as it is legally recognized by the government. Consider this: the Oregon Family Fairness Act accords civil partnerships the same status as marriage concerning their ability to file jointly on insurance forms, their hospital visitation rights, and their rights concerning a deceased partner, among other things. If two consenting adults have a serious close relationship of any sort, and wish to share their entire lives, I see granting them a legal status to honor that relationship as a pragmatic courtesy. One may argue that they merely attain a second-class status in a civil partnership, which is exactly why California decided to go all the way with gay marriage, but my point is that it is at least a progressive improvement from the past. It is like going from slavery to segregation in the eyes of some, not an ideal state, but a step up from the status quo nonetheless.

Personally, sexual orientation has always been a non-issue for me, at least since I have actually talked with friends who are gay about how they feel about it and observed their relationships. I’m ok, and they’re ok. Their liberty and future is at stake in this matter, not mine. As long as the State where I reside is willing to recognize my marriage as legitimate, I don’t really have a problem with same gender marriage. I don’t want my marriage to be gay, so I support “the family” in that aspect, and I’m 99.9% positive that issue is settled since I feel that way and I made that choice to begin with, but I wouldn’t infringe my personal choice or preference on anyone else who isn't infringing on another's liberty. I can’t vouch for the future or sanctity of the nuclear family (which is relatively new), but I hope that people will continue to form familial bonds and children will be reared with loving care however we choose to form our family groups. I have faith that heterosexuals would continue to marry, thrive, and- god willing- coexist in a future world where same-sex couples are free to do the same. We should all hope so, because it is the only hope for those who would seek to quash the prospective rights and liberties of the gay community. Turnabout is fair play; if the majority were to vote my rights out of circulation, I could only pray that their vote would be overturned on constitutional grounds by conscientious judges committed to upholding liberty by not discriminating by gender, sexual orientation, religion, or any other currently protected status.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Under the Banner of Heaven

I just completed reading this book by Jon Krakauer. After hearing about all the controversy it stirred up, I expected it to be a really interesting read. However, it was kind of just, blah. It didn't really shed any new information for me on Polygamy (other than that there are many different groups of people out there living some sort of Mormon based polygamy) or on the history of the Mormons. The brief chapter on the Mountain Meadows Massacre definately made me want to read more on that so I just got the new book "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" (I will post a review when I finish it). Also, the book opened my eyes a bit to what an extreme leader Brigham Young was, really to the point of fanaticism, IMO. But other than that, nothing really new to me.

It did make me think about one thing, though. It was eye opening to read about how many people in history have claimed to have seen or talked with God and how they all claim He told them to do something or be something different from all the others. Growing up in the LDS church, I kind of thought, well Joseph Smith's vision and revelations must be true because I couldn't believe that such a fantastic story could be made up. However, in Under the Banner of Heaven, Krakauer shows just how many people in history have claimed similar occurrances and to be seers/revelators/prophets of some kind. They cannot all be correct because they have claimed/preached vastly different things. Why would they all be wrong but Joseph Smith is right? It just doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps all these people truely believed that they had seen a vision and/or talked with God but how can you possibly sort out if any of them really did?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Peace, Love & Understanding

So as promised, here is my update on my experience at the Unitarian Universalist church that I attended yesterday.

From what I could gather from the songs, ceremonies, etc. it seems that this church really is all about peace, love and understanding. You can believe in nothing or in everything. Everyone is welcome and loved and it seems the church really just provides a gathering place for like minded individuals. A place where everyone is accepted. It was nice. I think this church may be about as close as I am ready to get to religion right now. They had a "Religous Transition" group that sounded interesting and meets after the services on Sunday. I may check that out on another day.

From what I could gather, the church service is a little different in the summer months since the pastor takes a sabbatical of sorts during this time. Instead of a message by the pastor the church invites guest speakers to come in and give the sermons/message.

Sunday, the guest speaker was Takashi Hiraoka who had been a mayor of Hiroshima, Japan after the United States dropped the nuclear bomb on the city on August 6th, 1995. On that day everything within a 4-5 mile radius was quite literally disintegrated. The article from the link says that "official Japanese figures at the time put the death toll at 118,661 civilians. But later estimates suggest the final toll was about 140,000, of Hiroshima's 350,000 population, including military personnel and those who died later from radiation."

Here is a small section from the Mayor's message:
A reflection on world peace poses the following question: Is world security derived from nuclear weapons or from the abolition of nuclear weapons? Many world leaders hold that the existence of nuclear weapons deters their use and therefore justifies the possession of such weapons. This nuclear deterrence policy, however, fuels nuclear proliferation and, I believe, makes the world less secure. The elimination of nuclear weapons is the only measure that will absolutely prevent their use.
Following the presentation we were able to look at many posters that gave more information and showed pictures of the total devastation of the city after the bomb was dropped. As I contemplated the horror that these people experienced on that dark day in history I couldn't help but get teary eyed. Hopefully the remembering will help us to make sure this never happens again. Mr. Hiraoka encouraged us and all nations to put humanity above money, politics and personal gain as we strive for a more peaceful, more loving and more understanding world.

Note: If you would like to participate in a commemoration of this event, a formal program followed by a candlelight vigil will be held at the Salt Lake City library in the Main Auditorium on Wednesday, August 6th, from 7:30 - 9:00 pm.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Don't Know

My 8 year old nephew chose to get baptized this weekend and become an official member of the LDS church. As a gift, my family put together a book of remembrance of sorts in which everyone wrote a short message bearing their testimony about the church and congratulating him on making this choice.

The book sat for day or so on my kitchen counter, while I considered what I could possibly write to him. I thought that something to the effect of "Always follow your heart. Love, Me" might be appropriate...but I wasn't sure what kind of reception that would get. Anyway, as I thought about what I might say, I flipped through the book which had already been filled out by those in my family. The interesting thing to me was that nearly all the adults said "I know this church is true" or "I know you are joining the true church". All this "knowing" left me wondering how everyone around me could "know" one thing and I could feel something exactly opposite.

The LDS church teaches that there is one true church and that everyone should be a member. You are supposed to get this knowledge through the Holy Ghost which is usually a feeling or "burning in the bosom" as it is often referred to. Apparently everyone in my entire family has had this experience. However, I have never had any kinds of strong feelings in regards to the truthfulness of the LDS church specifically. When I "dug right down to the bottom of my soul" (sorry, musical theater lyrics, I can't help it!) I found the exact opposite. My soul, my spirit and all the feelings that go along with that, told me that the church is not the place for me. And if it isn't right for me, how can it be the one true church for everyone?

It's a tricky thing to sort out...especially when your family firmly believes the LDS curch is the one and only "true church" on the earth today. By them saying saying "I know the church is true" they are also saying that they know I am wrong for choosing to not be a part of it.

Growing up in the LDS church, once I was old enough to understand what it meant to bear my testimony in church, I pretty much stopped doing it. Once I realized that I couldn't say "I know this church is true" and be honest about it, there was no point. Sometimes I would get up the courage to simply say, "I believe it is true", because for most of my life, I did believe it. I believed it was true and that someday, if I just kept doing everything right, I would gain that knowledge that everyone else seemed to already have. For years, I never allowed the thought to cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't true. Or even that it wasn't true for me. When things didn't make sense I put them on that back shelf of my mind with the firm belief that some day I would understand them. Eventually that shelf became crowded and the other shelf, the "I know" shelf, stood barren and empty. The square teachings of the LDS church just never could fit into the rounded view I have of the world and of what is good and right. So, at this point I had to ask myself, "Do I keep pretending to be part of something when so much of what I am learning at church seems wrong to me, or, do I leave the LDS church and experience life on my own terms?"

Obviously, you know what my final choice was. I don't know what is true. I'm not sure anyone can really know what is true when it comes to spiritual things. All we can do in life is follow our own hearts/spirits/souls and, using those feelings as a guide, choose the path that feels right and good to us. If it's true that God gave me my life, my mind and my soul, then how could he possibly fault me for using those gifts to seek what is right for me?

So, today, I am standing to say that I don't know. I don't know and that is okay. But I will use what God has given me to try and make the world a better place and to live the best life I can while still being true to myself. I will continue to seek truth everywhere and to love everyone in the best way I know how. Hopefully, by doing this, I can still be a positive example to my cute 8 year old nephew (and all my nieces and nephews) as he grows up and continues to make his own choices.