Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Review: The Four Tendencies

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a quick look at how we set and accomplish goals and what motivates us to accomplish them.

The theory behind this book is that each of us falls into one of four tendencies. Upholders-motivated by internal and external expectations, Questioners- motivated internally, Obligers- motivated externally, and Rebels- Do what they want, not motivated by internal or external expectations.

Once you take the quiz at the beginning of the book, she breaks down each tendency into sections such as what motivates each tendency, strengths and weaknesses of each tendency, and how to deal with a spouse, coworker, medical patient, and child with each tendency.

There's also a section about different relationship pairings. I'm a questioner leaning toward rebel and my husband is an obliger leaning toward rebel. Which was really surprising! We are both quite stubborn but in different ways and for different reasons! When I rebel it's because I think that I know better than everyone else and my husband rebels because he doesn't want people to tell him what to do. So as you can guess that can be an interesting dynamic in a marriage! haha!

While it was an interesting premise I wasn't totally sold on each of us fitting into one box and staying there our entire life. I really felt like in certain situations I could be motivated in different ways. However, I did fall under questioner and leaned toward rebel so that could have something to do with me questioning the validity of the test. It was funny because as I was having these thoughts the book itself even validated that questioners would be the most skeptical about their results.

There were a lot of things that rung true for me as I read about my questioning tendency. I'm definitely "crackpot material" like she says and I definitely like to research things out before I leap. I sometimes get bogged down in analysis paralysis but I also get things done on time when I need to. I do find myself questioning authority quite a bit and I really hate arbitrary or inefficient rules or the answer of "that's the way we've always done it". I feel like it's super important to understand "why" you are doing something, especially when you are recommending others do it too. And I'm sure that I exhaust people (including myself at times) with my endless list of questions. I didn't really identify with the part where she said questioners don't like to be questioned. I enjoy debates a lot and love philosophy discussions, etc. I do feel frustrated when in a debate with someone who I don't feel has done enough research though so maybe that's what she means by not liking to be questioned.

I identified quite a bit with the rebel mentality also. Which I was surprised by since I live a pretty conservative life. However, I enjoy doing things differently than other people and surprising others by defying their expectations of what I might say or do next. I don't like being told I can't do something and motivate myself quite often by thinking of people who want me to fail. Like before I ran my half marathon I had someone tell me they didn't think I could do it because of my weight and my want to prove him wrong was more motivating than visualizing the finish line or anything like that! I have no problem breaking rules (especially arbitrary ones-see questioner).

I also change what I do for hobbies or jobs quite a bit. I do preschool, now I'm a runner, now I'm decorating cakes, I'm going to write a book, etc. When something becomes an expectation I find it a lot harder to do things. Like when I made cakes for fun and for free I never felt stressed and could do several a day. Once I started getting paid for cakes and was stuck to a baking schedule I suddenly felt a lot of anxiety about it! I also find it easier to help someone when I just think of doing it on my own as opposed to someone asking me. And on occasion I've not done something that were in my best interest just because someone else told me to do it. However, I think a lot of this still falls in the questioner category because a true rebel doesn't like anyone telling them what to do but I'm fine with some people telling me what to do if they have researched it out, explained why I should and I trust them as an authority.

Although I definitely saw myself within her framework I didn't feel like it was super spot on or revolutionary. I've definitely read other personality type books that seemed to peg me a little better. I also didn't feel like it necessarily gave much insight into how to use your strengths to make your life better or how to overcome weaknesses. And there were definitely some major biases on the part of the author. It was pretty easy to tell which of the tendencies she thought were good and which needed some work. She was an upholder and pretty much defended every choice ever made by an upholder and didn't really seem to do that for the others. But that's just my perception and as a questioner/rebel I'm probably biased against upholders a little bit. Sorry Ms. Rubin!

I am so excited to discuss this with my book group though. Excited to hear what others thought and what groups they are in. I think it will definitely have a great discussion!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. I really though I was going to. I'd read several good reviews and had a couple people recommend it.

The book is unique in that the main character and narrator, Christopher, is Autistic thus giving us a look at what it might be like to view the world through his eyes and mind. Christopher can't be touched, he loves animals but has trouble relating to people, and is gifted in memorization and mathematics. I enjoyed the main characters humor, his self awareness as he's writing the book (he often says things like my friend said not to put this in but I"m going to anyway), and the fact that each chapter is counted by only prime numbers.

However, even with the neat things this book has going for it, they weren't enough to redeem the fact that there isn't much of a plot happening. The book felt a lot longer than it was and ending is pretty anticlimactic. The only real peak in the story happens about half way through and then you're left with 80 more pages to describe one trip on a train.

It also felt like in a few places that this book was written with the sole purpose of trying to win awards...which it did. I also pretty much hated all the other characters other than Christopher and Siobhan. All the adults were angry and self absorbed. Every stranger he met says the f word every other word. Other than Christopher every other character was basically the same character, not fleshed out at all. Maybe that is supposed to be because Christopher has a hard time reading people or connecting emotionally? Or maybe it's just lazy writing on the part of the author.

I also think a lot of people read this book and felt like maybe they had learned more about autism when really this is a fiction book written by someone with very little interaction with or knowledge on the subject. The author in interviews and on his blog has even talked about the fact that he's been asked to speak about it several times and has to decline because he didn't really research it that much and isn't an expert. While this voice may ring true for some people with autism, it's important to remember that within the autistic population each person is unique (as are we all) and that this isn't representative of how they all see and interact with the world.

Save yourself some time and skip this one. There are better books out there!

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Book Review: Wintergirls

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is haunting. The writing is beautiful and bleak at the same time. The author delves deep into the world of eating disorders in a fictional narrative that explores the thoughts, feelings, history and compulsions behind addiction in many forms.

It is written from the viewpoint of a teenage young woman dealing with anorexia whose best (and also estranged) friend has just died. We are kind of dropped into the middle of the story at this point and must wait to find out how her friend died, why they are estranged, why the main character is anorexic, how that applies to the death of her friend, etc.

As I read the viewpoint of this teenage girl and the things she believes are truth and the way she views her parents and family I was really haunted by what things I might unintentionally be doing or not doing that could eventually lead my children to have some of the recurring negative thoughts this young woman has. As we get glimpses of what leads to her eating disorder, and friend choices, and decision to cut herself, we begin to see the entire tapestry of what leads people to make certain choices. It made me think about the things that have affected my own tapestry but also how I affect others.

The complexity with which the story is told leads the reader to realize there is no easy or quick fix to these problems. It also shows us the inseparable connection between our mental health and our physical health. It challenges our perceptions of the world and helps us, for a few hundred pages, to perceive the world from the viewpoint of someone who is in a very dark place. It is hard to convince someone that they are not seeing truth. It's hard to convince someone who is stuck in darkness to believe there is light out there. Or someone who is stuck in winter that Spring will come.

Beyond the plot of this book I also really enjoyed the actual writing style. The main character becomes so alive for the reader as we get to hear her every thought. And why she thinks that. And the story behind why she thinks that. The author manages to do this without being boring or bogging us down with lengthy descriptions of past events. There were many parts where I could feel exactly what the main character was feeling or see the world the way she wanted us to.

The writing is also very poetic. While she does use a basic narrative style for some of the story, it is interspersed between sections of beautiful poetry. There were many paragraphs that could stand alone and be discussed at length without the surrounding book text. I think that is the mark of a gifted author.

Can't wait to discuss it at book group!

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Book Review: Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother

Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly MotherMother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother by Rachel Hunt Steenblik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful book of poetry! I echo so many of the thoughts she shares in this book but still had my ideas pushed and gained a lot of new things to ponder as I read her words.

It's a very quick read but I found it more enjoyable to break it up throughout the week so that I could take time to think about what I was reading.

There are so many things I could talk about but I'll limit it to my two favorite take away insights. First, One of her poems relates our spiritual desire to find our Heavenly Mother to a baby who fell asleep by their mother and wakes up to her absence and is scared and cries. This was a beautiful description of the way I have been feeling in regard to my Heavenly Mother. While an absence of information didn't bother me through much of my youth as a grown woman it was like I suddenly realized I didn't know where she was and how much I needed to know where she was. That absence made me scared and for a long time I cried and was angry about it but have now been soothed and know that this process was important for my growth.

Many of her poems are inspired by quotes and insights from others that she acknowledges in her titles and her notes. My other favorite insight was from Chieko Okasaki and makes an appearance in a couple of the author's poems. It is that when we hug someone tightly we can't see their face. Could it be that our ignorance about our Heavenly Mother isn't because she is so far away but because she is so close that we have been looking past her. As I've started to look for Her more closely I've found in her presence in so many places. Nature, child birth, womankind, temple worship, the words of my spiritual foremothers, etc.

This book was inspiring on many levels for me. 1) It reminded me that I have a Heavenly Mother who loves me 2) This knowledge empowers me as I am a mother (not only to my children but to all that I help nurture through kindness and service) 3)It helped me know that I'm not alone in this journey, or in having these questions, or in my thirst for more knowledge about my Mother. 4) It made me want to start back up writing poetry...a talent that I've neglected for too many years.

Definitely give this one a read!

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Book Review: Eve and the Choice Made in Eden

Eve and the Choice Made in EdenEve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book and it gave me a lot to think about in regards to Mother Eve's story and how it relates to a woman's journey today.

I most appreciated the discussion about Eve and Adam's story and how little we really know about so much of what happened. Timeline, creation processes, etc. are all kind of loosely outlined but not really discussed in full. Because not all the details are there we tend to fill in those blanks using our own personal and cultural biases. The author gives some really good and thoughtful insights into the gaps of the story. She also fills in some of those gaps by talking with experts on biblical history, translation processes (and pitfalls), and the Hebrew language.

As I've been trying to more closely study the old testament I've really been impressed with the fact that tracing it back to the Hebrew is so important. When there are two words meaning similar but different things and the wrong one is picked it can make a huge difference in the way we view the scriptures. For instance...the hebrew word found in the creation story for God- Elohim-is a plural word and is always followed by plural verbs. Reading the creation story with the word Gods instead of God opens up the possibility for a Heavenly Mother and adds so much depth to the interactions between Eve and her creators.

Making sure to know the correct translations can also help with other aspects of the story too...what does help meet mean? What does it mean when it says that the man will rule the woman? Is it only Adam that is given dominion over all the earth? Understanding who is being spoken to in the story can be confusing in English because sometimes man means literally just the male gender but man can also mean mankind which includes all genders. Same with the word Adam in this story. Tracing things back to the original words can sometimes help to clear this up.

This book also does a nice job of discussing the obvious sticking point for many people in this story...what was Eve's intention and understanding when she partook of the fruit? And on a deeper level how does the answer to that question affect our view and treatment of women even today. This book echoes my own feelings in that Eve was fully aware of what she was doing and understood that only through sacrifice could the plan move forward. She chooses to partake of the fruit to become like her Heavenly Parents- gaining knowledge and with it the understanding of how to multiply seed and move mankind into a fully mortal sphere. In genesis Adam calls Eve the mother of all living after they partake of the fruit. Since eating the fruit has lead Adam and Eve into a state where they will die (mortality) Adam acknowledges that Eve's sacrifice makes her the mother of all living including himself.

In the second half of the book she addresses what this story means for men and women today and how we can relate what we learn from this story to our own lives. And while I do agree that the scriptures are meant to be living and applied to our lives I don't necessarily agree with all of the conclusions she draws. This book was written in the 1990's and I found some of the ideas about gender roles to be slightly dated. Not overly so but enough that they deviated from my own opinions. Like I mentioned above our interpretation of scripture is always effected by our own cultural biases (myself included). It was interesting to read about her opinions nevertheless. And I appreciated the quotes she used from scholars and religious authorities alike.

Over all I would definitely recommend this as a great jumping off point for learning more about Eve. It helped me appreciate her and my own womanness so much. In genesis we read that God will multiply woman's sorrow but in Moses 5 we get Eve's insight that the increase in sorrow is what eventually leads to the greatest increase of joy. I have gratitude for her quest for knowledge and for her sacrifice on my behalf and I'm grateful that I get to continue the work of Eve in my family and religious settings.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830-1853

Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830–1853Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830–1853 by Merina Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great look at Mormon Polygamy. While the information overlaps with many of the other books I've read on the subject it also gives a lot of new insights and stories. It uses Rough Stone Rolling and In Sacred loneliness as a source and since I've already written detailed reviews of those books I won't go into too much detail about this book.

However, this book discusses the entirety of polygamy from beginning with secret polygamy in Nauvoo, through the martyrdom, across the plains, and living open polygamy in Utah.

The books I had previously read on the subject dealt mainly with the Nauvoo years or focused more on the people involved with polygamy only being a part of the story. This book faces Polygamy head on as a doctrine. The title tells you pretty much what you are going to get in terms of narrative through the book. The author discusses it from the believers point of view (revelation) and the non-believers point of view (resistance). We get to learn a little about the cultural influences leading up to the start of polygamy as well as the end of polygamy.

I enjoyed the stories of many different people living polygamy in different situations. I feel like the author does a good job of trying to share positive stories in between some of the harder stories. She is also good about looking in depth at quotes and accounts and pointing out cultural bias and the tendency we all have to remember history through rose colored glasses. We get to see the differences in what some people said publicly in speeches and accounts verses what the say in their private journals. It shows the complexity of the subject and the wrestle that many people underwent to live it.

It's also interesting to come at polygamy from the man's point of view, the woman's point of view, and the child's point of view. This book does a good job of showing that even people in the same family disagree about polygamy and each viewed their situation uniquely.

A few new areas this book covered were the relief society/Emma Smith's interactions with polygamy, and the stories of those inside and outside the faith that opposed polygamy and how this affected the transition after the martyrdom.

The author does a good job about seperating secret Nauvoo (polygamy) from public Nauvoo (professing to be anti-polygamy). While Emma Smith is the president of Relief Society she begins to hear rumors about secret Nauvoo. She then begins to send her councilors and friends out to try and stop the rumors about her husband and polygamy. The only problem was that the people she sent out to squelch the rumors were already secret polygamous wives of her husband and the rumors they were trying to stop were actually true. The author does a good job of explaining the time line and how things played out for those who were in the know about polygamy and those who were not. It also talks about Emma's ordeal with knowing about it but not knowing all about it. Trying to accept it but ultimately rejecting it. Loving her husband but wanting to leave. And also her decision to not go west with the saints. It also mentions that we don't have a journal for Emma, which would be very uncommon for a woman of her time not to have kept one. My secret wish is that it's in existance somewhere and that we get to see it someday!

Along with Emma there were also many high ranking authorities within the church who opposed polygamy. After Joseph and Hyrum are martyred, these opinions for and against polygamy are a key component in the debates over who should be the next prophet and what the organization of the church will look like. Emma Smith had believed that polygamy would die with her husband and when she learns that it wont and that it is far more widespread than she had known she aligns herself with the leadership of the high council who oppose polygamy and that is ultimately why she chooses to stay behind. Also her and Brigham really don't get along for a variety of reasons. But that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, if you enjoy church history I would definitely recommend this book. I think cultural context is always important for understanding difficult topics like polygamy and this book gives a lot of context. I also enjoyed getting to read the journal entries and letters written by real people living through this period of church history.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Some Thoughts on How to Discuss Questions About Mormon History and Theology and Resources for Aiding That Discussion

As some may have noticed, I've been studying a lot about LDS history and theology lately.  I've had the chance to have a lot of great conversations about this with people and have had several people ask how to go about finding good books to read on the topic.  I've also had a few people, not understanding where I'm coming from, who are worried that I'm lost in dark paths because I've been researching these things.  Which was sad and confusing since I primarily rely on LDS sources for all my information. So, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about some good (church approved) resources for finding out about church history.  Hopefully it can help others who are interested in the topic find what they're looking for and it can assure others that I'm not dipping my toes in a fiery lake of doubt and misery.

First things first, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I have a testimony that we have loving Heavenly Parents who love us and want us to return to them. I have a testimony that by having charity (which is loving Christ by loving others the way he would) we can do extraordinary things. While there are many beautiful and amazing teaching provided by the LDS church, I fear that sometimes those basic tenets of Christ's Atonement, Charity, Hope, and Faith get overshadowed by the controversial topics of our history.  Many of my friends outside of the church know little of what our actual gospel message is and more about church history, controversial topics like polygamy, and comments made by church leaders regarding minority groups. Because these are the things people are going to ask us about I think it's important for us to study them out so that we can have answers.  Having been on the side of questioner and answer-er I thought I'd share some thoughts I had on how we can be more loving and welcoming to those who think differently than we do. I don't think it's enough to just tell people to ignore all the hard stuff and just focus on the good.  Sometimes it's by addressing the "hard" questions that we are prepared to receive the good.  I think that's true for people in and outside of the church

I know that not everyone feels like they need or want to know about early church history, or the origins of priesthood, or women and divinity and that's fine.  Our faith is individual and we come at it from many ways.  Many people learn about church history during their youth and get refresher courses every four years at church and that is enough to build their faith.  Which is great and honestly, I think that is a spiritual gift. I also know that there are a lot of people, like me, who approach things in a more questioning format and want to learn more. For a long time, I considered my questioning nature to be an indication that I didn't have enough faith but I now know that God gave me my questions to lead me toward answers and that he loves me even if I take a little longer than most to understand church doctrines (and maybe even if I have a few on my shelf that I'm still not quite ready to deal with yet.) President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said "Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn't feel that way. Asking questions isn't a sign of weakness; it's a precursor of growth."

Sometimes in an effort to be faith promoting I think we as a church membership focus on only the good that happened and start to think of the pioneers of our faith as beyond human.  We've all probably heard people say things like "the pioneers never complained" or they "never doubted".  While that black and white way of thinking can be motivating for some it can also be demotivating for many others who think they will never stack up.  As I've learned about the good and the bad and read journals where pioneers doubt one day and bear testimony the next I'm more able to see that these were real people living real lives! The point of the gospel is not that you have to be perfect in order to participate. The point is that through Christ we can all be made perfect. When we realize that the pioneers were ordinary people doing extraordinary things it becomes much more relevant and motivating than hero-worship.  As I learn more about the mistakes that were made and how they were overcome I learn that God uses imperfect people to run his church. And if they, imperfect as they were, could be of use, then maybe there is hope for me as well. As I've jumped into family history more I've been very impressed that it's time for me to really study out church history and doctrines as well and face some of the troubling things head on. I've found that in addition to stretching and strengthening me personally, it has increased my love for those who have gone before me.

I've been excited to share what I'm learning with others who have questions or who struggle with the history. I know that when I've had doubts or worries, having other to talk to has been crucial in my church activity. We know from the scriptures that we should seek things out in faith but also through gaining knowledge and discussing that knowledge with others. Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 says "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith”. I'm so appreciative of those who have already travailed this path and the insights they can give me and the encouragement to keep studying and moving forward.

I'm also excited that my kids will have the opportunity to be taught these things in their youth instead of finding out at BYU (like I did) or even later in life that seminary and Sunday school didn't quite show the complete picture.  Some might think that church history detracts from learning about the basic tenets and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, the truth remains that learning about our church history and previous revelations can help us understand the doctrines we are presented with today.  Some want to leave the past in the past but the fact is that temple practices, priesthood ordination practices, attitudes toward women, our view of the afterlife etc. are heavily impacted by the practices of our ancestors in the early church and turning our head away from these facts can only cause heartache down the road. When we don't understand the real history and doctrines of the church we start to fill in the gaps with our own ideas and that is when we get lost in church culture and vain traditions.

When the church announced the gospel topics essays Elder J. Devn Cornish (of the Seventy and also the executive director of the Church History Department at the time) said: “Gone are the days when the history of the Church is just interesting. Gone are the days when it is only important. In our day, the history of the Church is urgent...Our history can either be used as a weapon against the faith of our members or as a bulwark to build and protect their faith". I hope that by helping my kids know about this history early on it will lessen their chance of having it used as a weapon against them later.

So even if your testimony is rock solid about church history, I encourage you to learn more so that you can be of help to those around you who do have questions (including our children). And also, certainly, because over the next several years this history is going to be incorporated more and more into the curriculum for youth and adults and it's always better to learn it on your own time table than to be blindsided by it in the middle of gospel doctrine class.

While it is a great blessing to have family, friends and associates to discuss things with and while I've been blessed with many who have happily pointed me to good sources, studied things out with me, discussed troublesome topics (sometimes multiple times), and genuinely loved me even when I was at my most "faith crisis" moments, I want to caution others to choose wisely who you choose to open up to about your questions. Sometimes, unfortunately, our questions can be met by others with anger or even condemnation.  Some might feel betrayed that we aren't as "steadfast" as they thought we were, some people regard even the act of having questions as sinful, some don't understand why we don't just rely on faith only, some are immature or unsure in their own testimonies or understanding of church history or doctrines, and others hear our questions only in terms of how it will affect them (what does this mean for our friendship? What will others think of me if I associate with this person who is questioning?", etc.).

As a listener, it's important to listen carefully to what is being said so that we don't misjudge or jump to incorrect conclusions. In the LDS gospel topics essay about answering gospel questions it says that we should 1) Show Compassion for the person asking questions 2) Listen Carefully and 3) Fortify Faith.  Don't assume that because someone is questioning that they are doing it justify or cover up their sins, or that they are trying to lead a rebellion away from the church. Sure, those things could happen, but just because someone is asking questions doesn't mean that they are doing those things. Also, as the person asking the questions we need to make sure we can remain calm, not be too aggressive and that we bring them up when we have time to explain where our thoughts are coming from.

Sometimes the context for your questions can help others better know what they can do to help. So before I give my list of resources I used to help with my questions, I'd like to give some context for my questions. For me, things came to a head after the birth of my fifth child.  I began to wonder what it means to be a woman, what was God's plan for me as such, and how the gospel could help me navigate the many changes and trials that occur in the life of women. I decided to really find out what Heavenly Father thought of me as a daughter through prayer and meditation.  After praying about it for several weeks I decided to also dedicate my scripture study time to see how other women had navigated the many changes and demands that are required of women on their mortal journey. As I studied, I became increasingly frustrated that there really aren't many depictions of women outside of who they married or who they begat.  I went to the temple and although I feel uplifted there I also felt frustrated that I still wasn't seeing my Heavenly Mother's hand in this or understanding Eve's entire story. I won't go into my specific concerns or questions about that here but click over to my book review of Women in Eternity, Women of Zion if you'd like to know more about them.

From there I decided to start seeking out books about women in the scriptures and particularly women in the early LDS church.  However, as I began to dive in to their stories, I realized that while I did have some things in common with them, our lives really looked so different!  Many of these women practiced polygamy, actively talked about Heavenly Mother, gave each other healing blessings for the first 80+ years of the church, and received and spake revelations for one another through the gift of tongues.  Having studied many of these things before (I always took more than a full load of classes at BYU so that I could take extra religion classes each semester) I didn't think I would be that shocked by what I found. It also became apparent that as the Sunday curriculum has shied away at times from addressing polygamy (even changing some of the quotes in the Brigham Young manual from "wives" to "wife") that some of these women's lives have been unintentionally overlooked for many years.  While I understand that changing quotes to sound more monogamous helps us to better relate to the lessons on marriage, it sometimes also accidentally distances us from these amazing women.

So, with all that in mind let me get into where we can turn to learn more about church history, women of the church, and more! The Church History department has collaborated with so many different researchers to make sure that we can now have access to records, journals, pictures and stories that most church members have never had access to before (either because they were part of private collections, authenticity or context were still under debate, or because previous generations have worried that some of the "harder" parts of church history were not faith promoting). The cool thing about a lot of the historical papers and books that are being put out today is that they are written for people in and outside of the faith and give a more accurate and complete version of our history.  While much of this information has been available for awhile- timeline corrections, what was said, who said it, and so many things that previously were glossed over, are now being presented to the membership in detail and in easier to find places.

The gospel topics essays are a great place to start.  While they are still not perfect (and will continue to change as new research comes to light) they give a very good overview of some of the more sensitive topics in our history and doctrines.  They've been put together by the church history department and are supported by numerous books and resources that are provided by the top historians and researchers of LDS history.  They are also approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.  You can read more about the essay topics, their approval process and their uses by visiting the essay overview page.

Right now these essays include a range of topics such as are Mormon's Christian, Heavenly Mother, the Book of Mormon and DNA, Polygamy in Nauvoo, Polygamy in Utah, priesthood restrictions, Joseph Smith's teachings about women, becoming like God, and more.  You can access the complete list here:

Not only do these essays give a good overview they also provide an amazing list of references that can also guide your study.  When you click on a topic you will often see the first paragraph of text, related church resources and scriptures, and then other suggested topics.  Click on the show more link to be able to access the whole text of the essay but also to access the full list of resources used.  There are dozens of books listed on most essays.  I've really had to increase my book budget as of late :) For recommendations of books that I've personally read from these lists you can visit my book review page.

In addition to book references, there are also other websites, scriptures, BYU Studies article links, and more.

Below is a list of some of the online resources that are used in the essays and some sites that I have found helpful in choosing which books to read. A lot of these cross paths frequently or link to one another but I'm going to list them out separately. -access to the full text of relief society minutes and other documents, also provides information about current books being published and news in the world of LDS church history.  -full text of revelations, meetings, journals, and more from the early church. -I've found some awesome articles here about all kinds of topics.  Biblical evidences, Mother in Heaven, Book of Mormon historical context, Hebrew translation, etc. A really cool feature is under study resources- For each Sunday School lesson they have linked all their past articles that pertain to that particular topic.

The Neal A Maxwell Institute -for religious scholarship at BYU. (Particularly the Mormon Studies review which can be found under their publications tab.  I recently watched a really interesting podcast about the combining of FARMS into the Neal A. Maxwell Institute and the shift of scholarship being written for a wider audience.  The Mormon Studies Review, rather than publishing new material, is a review of new articles, journals and books being put on a variety of topics within Mormonism.  This one does cost $10 for a yearlong digital pass, but it's really cool!) -From here you can access several of the other resources I've listed here.  It also has publications and another whole list of online resources that you can check out there.

Revelations in Context  -This is found on and you've probably seen links to it in your sunday school manuals for Doctrine and Covenants.  It's a great resource to get some understanding for what was happening during times of revelation.  It also tells us the story from other people's points of view that lived during that time. You'll also find links to other research sources such as the Joseph Smith Papers and church historians press listed above.

Women in the Scriptures Blog -While this blog isn't just about church history it is fascinating! She also has some really good book reviews and recommendations that have really helped me understand more about women in all of the scriptures, Eve's story, Emma Smith and more.

Amazon  and Goodreads book reviews- When deciding which books I want to read I often turn to the book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads to see what others have to say about it and how it helped them in their life.  I also research who the authors are and what other books they may have written. I usually look at what seems to be the overall tone of the reviews.  Is it people who are genuinely searching for answers to their questions or is it people who are looking for new ammunition to shoot back at the church. They can be so helpful in deciding if a book will be a good fit for you.

Well, I know this has been a long blog post but I hope it might be of some help to others.  For those who have questions I hope it lets you know that you're not alone, there are places you can go to find answers and that our Heavenly parents love you!

For those who don't have questions I hope that it might give you some good ideas of where you can turn to learn more, that you can have more empathy for those who do have questions and that maybe it will help you to feel less awkward in having conversations with your brothers and sisters who approach the gospel differently than you.

And for those who aren't LDS I hope that it can give you some resources to learn more about this religion or at the very least help you understand why my Goodreads list has been so boring sounding lately :)

My main hope always, whether you agree with my positions or not, is that my post can at least promote charity and understanding between all people inside and outside of the LDS church. So, please let me know if you have any questions I can help with or leave a comment with your favorite resources to use in your religious study! I love hearing from you all!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships by Julie de Azevedo Hanks

The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your RelationshipsThe Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships by Julie de Azevedo Hanks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots of really good insights and ideas in this book. It's specifically for women but I felt like there was a lot of great information for all genders. It paired really well with so many of the things my therapist is having me work on too and really made me look at myself and others in new ways.

Being assertive in our communication means being able to take care of ourselves and others in our problem solving. Other ways of communicating are aggressive, passive aggressive and just passive. When we deviate from assertive and become aggressive we might get what we want temporarily but we don't foster good relationships or end up getting we need long term. When we communicate passively we might temporarily keep the peace but we don't get we want and we might end up with a lot of resentment or a blow up later.

To discover what type of communicator we are Julie Hanks also has look at what kind of attachment we are most comfortable with. She starts by taking you back to your family or origin and discussing the attachment styles we pick up very early on in life and how those styles can effect our communication as adults. The three attachment styles she discusses are secure, anxious and avoidant.

An anxious style can lead us to be overly connected or clingy, distraught about separation, dependant on others for validation, and give us an unhealthy view of where we end and another person begins. It can also lead to depression or anxiety when we don't live up to expectations of those we are close to. This obviously can be a barrier to healthy assertive communication.

An avoidant style can hinder our ability to have close relationships, cause us to feel unattached, makes us unaware of our own emotions, or cause us to cover things up or not confront problems. This can make for bigger problems later on by leading to depression or the realization that we haven't really "let things go" and is a barrier to assertive communication also.

It was interesting to discuss this with my husband and see that we are in fact totally opposite in our attachment styles and communication. I have a very anxious attachment style while his was avoidant. Maybe that means our kids will be secure? :)

The author says that chances are we won't be able to totally change our attachment style but knowing what we do and why we do it helps us to work within our attachment style to find a place of assertiveness. If we know what our negative tendencies are (not to speak up, lashing out, etc.) we can replace them with positive actions. The way she sets out for us to do this is by learning about our emotions.

As we begin to identify our emotions we can seperate our thoughts and feelings. The way she has us do this is by using this sentence: I feel _______ when________ because I thought ___________. Example would be I felt mad when you didn't take out the trash because I thought you were ignoring me and didn't love me.

I've been working with my therapist about this and she has the same sentence seperated out into I felt _____ when ____ because I have a need for ______. And the author of this book discusses seperating our needs and wants from our thoughts and feelings also. It's hard for others to give you what you want or need if you don't even know what you want or need. That is why it's so important to figure it out.

She also discusses what barriers we set up for ourselves in the way of assertive communication. Some of these might be not wanting to make things worse, not wanting to make anyone mad, feeling guilty about putting our needs at the forefront, not wanting to be misunderstood, etc. One that I keep coming back to in my own life is that I feel like it's selfish to have wants or needs. Like I can't be a good enough mom, wife, pto member, etc. if I have needs that also have to be met. I also have a fear of being a burden or dissapointment to others. If I could just have no opinions or desires it would be totally perfect for everyone I'm sure ;)

Since the author is writing this specifically for women she also talks about the cultural and societal factors that impact our gender. In our society there is a huge emphasis put on women's ability to care for others and sometimes we take that to the next step of not caring for ourselves at all. Being assertive helps us take care of others and ourselves. Part of this is the art of saying no! She gives a lot of good advice on finding balance in our lives and being able to say no to things we cannot do. She talks about being able to know when we are feeling resentful, or overly burdened, or when we are stretching ourself too thin. Being in touch with our emotions helps us take better care of ourselves. And when we take better care of ourselves we have more and better things to give to others.

She then takes us through the practices of self relection, self awareness, self soothing, self expression and self expansion. One of my favorite parts was the act of self soothing. She sets out an exercise for us to do. When we feel upset about something she suggests doing for ourselves what we might do for someone else. Rubbing our arm or giving ourself a hug and saying things like "of course your upset. This and this and this happened. You've been working so hard. That must be so dissapointing". By soothing ourself before we confront someone else we can get to the root of our problems and address those with others instead of just reacting out of anger. When we can stay in control of our emotions then we have a better chance of communicating them to others.

She also goes through some really amazing steps that we need to take before we communicate. Great ideas about starting conversations softly and paying attention to body language before we jump into hard topics. She also has some good advice on setting up boundaries and dealing with toxic personalities who aren't receptive even to the most assertive communications.

I felt really empowered by this book and have also been able to use it and see it's benefits in my life already. I've been able to more effectively apologize when I'm wrong, and I've stopped myself from apologizing for things I don't really need too. I'm been able to smooth out a hard situation and been able to set up boundaries for myself. Reading this in partnership with some of Brene Brown's work has helped me to let go of some of that gender shame I pull around with me. Internal dialogues like I'm not good enough, I'm being selfish, etc. And it's really helped me to better see people and respond to them in appropriate ways. As I gain confidence in speaking up for myself in assertive ways I don't have to worry or feel guilty for how they choose to treat me because I know that I've tried to do my best. It's helped me realize that sometimes others are just unreasonable and that it's okay if I can't please everyone. I still fail at all these things A LOT but I'm at least more concious of my pitfalls and how to avoid them. I highly recommend this book!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Genesis- Poem

Genesis (Julia Layman 2000)

Dark washes the house,
turns the brown paint dark auburn
wrapped in the moonlight.
Naked feet bathed in grass blades.
I hear as the door closes,
as the slightly rusted knob is turned
and the hose begins to water the grass.
I quietly watch through the window.
My parents stand quietly together
looking over the yard.
Making sure each blade of grass gets watered.
Making sure each plant is trimmed and cared for.
I watch them
standing there bare foot,
under one small street lamp,
next to their favorite part of the yard.
Silhouettes, barely seen.
Their presence is known more in the loveliness of the ground
then by their actual movements.
They say they like the feeling of night on grass.
In Genesis God walked through the cool of the garden.

Beauty- Poem

Beauty Extends (Poem by Julia Layman circa 2002)

Beauty extends
but there is nothing within.
We see nothing beyond our faces.
We've become hollow cups,
decorated in jewels and painted like fine china.
So we place ourselves on high ornate shelves.
Where we cannot be hurt,
nor can we serve.
For we are too easily chipped and too easily offended.

An empty crystal glass is beautiful
but will not save from thirst.
When we find ourselves in the desert,
we will long for the steady wooden saucers
filled to the brim with water.
What will we do when those saucers are gone?
When we've all hardened our hearts into crystal?

Beauty extends-
Swallows us up.We wrap it around us so tight we practically disappear.
we cover our chips, and cracks, and wrinkles.
And we think beauty is only in the fixed. 
That beauty can only be found in the new.
Never realizing the value of the chips.
Never seeing the beauty in the cracks.
Like super-glueing arms on the Venus de Milo.

Beauty extends.
It takes over our lives.
We've forgotten what our lives are for.
We've forgotten who gave them to us.
We recreate ourselves in our own image.
Working from the outside in.
Rushed sense of perfection.
Our world crumbles in the tests of the desert.
Beauty extends.
It extends too quickly
and is broken off.
Happiness is just a shelf up.
We stretch to reach.
Happiness is just a size down.
We pour ourselves out trying to fit among the
crystal we see on the post-cards, on the billboards, in our mind.
We've forgotten the value of water,
of inner beauty, of self.

A false sense of beauty,
a rising thirst.
Where the shallow drink last
and the steady drink first.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We Are Not Innocent Bystanders...and We Haven't Been for a Long Time

It's easy in today's world to feel helpless and small.  It's easy to read articles and see injustices and think that the world's problems are too big to deal with or too big for us to fix.  We might feel far away from the problem.  We might feel like we have enough problems of our own.  We might feel frightened to get involved, worried what others might think, or that we might say the wrong thing. In general we become overwhelmed and we often detached.  Maybe we stop even watching or reading the news.  Maybe we stop talking about it with other people.  Maybe we try to forget or maybe we even start to convince ourselves that things aren't really that bad after all.

I go through this pattern myself at times.  And I have to admit that I started down this same path after I read about Charlottesville.  My heart hurt and my head hurt and I honestly just wanted to turn the other way and pretend I hadn't read anything about it.  I felt sad, and angry, and honestly horrified.

I've seen a lot of articles talking about the terrorists and  bullies in this situation. And I've seen a lot of articles talking about the victims. But what I'd like to talk about another key player in our world situation and that is the bystander.  We've often heard bystanders referred to as innocent bystanders.  The reason we use the word "innocent" is because up until whatever event they are about to witness they are innocent.  They aren't planning to hurt anyone or be hurt by anyone.  They are simply there when the event happens. HOWEVER, and this is important, once the innocent bystander has witnessed something, like Charlottesville, they are no longer innocent.  They've now been enlightened.  They've seen something happen and they must make decisions. What they say or do from that point on is now conditioned on what they saw, or heard, or read.  And because they are no longer innocent or ignorant they can no longer remain in innocent silence.  Silence says something.  Silence sends messages. Silence condones.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  If you didn't know the alt-right existed until last week, fine, but now you know.  And if you didn't know that there were people out there so filled with hate that they could plow over a crowd of people with their car and then reverse, fine, but now you know.  Or you didn't think you'd ever see the day where a group of people walked down the street holding Nazi signs and lanterns and the President won't even call them out for what they are, now you have seen it, now you know. So now that you know, what will you do??

The first thing we must do is start acknowledging others' pain, even pain that isn't ours, even pain that we don't understand.  And that means we might also have to acknowledge that sometimes we have contributed to that pain just by ignoring the fact that it exists.  I've thought a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement. I've heard the argument against them saying "all lives matter".  But saying black lives matter doesn't mean that all lives don't matter. It is saying we know all lives matter but some have not felt part of that "all".  They are saying, "Hey remember us, we are part of the all, we matter".

Sometimes in an effort to help, we respond "of course you're part of the all, everyone knows that" or "of course you matter, you don't have to tell me" and while on the surface that seems like a good thing to say it doesn't acknowledge the hurt and therefore it doesn't move past it.  When someone tells us they feel hurt we have to stop and ask them about it and let them talk about it.  How have they been hurt? What can we do to help the healing process? Sometimes just the acknowledging of hurt helps to heal it just a little.

We can try and have empathy by thinking about times that we haven't felt part of the "all" and think how we feel when our worries are dismissed as non-existent by others who have never had to deal with our same worry.  As a woman I know sexism exists and it's frustrating when people don't acknowledge it.  As an overweight person I know prejudice exists and it's frustrating when people think it's okay to make "fat jokes".  As the mother of a special needs child I know that ignorance exists and it's painful when people I love still vote for presidential candidates that make fun of cerebral palsy.

And I know that most men in my life don't mean to be sexist but sometimes they make mistakes because they just don't know what it's like to be a woman.  And I know my thin friends just want to help me when they give me weight loss advice but they just don't know what it's like to be so overweight you feel embarrassed to even head back to the gym. And I know my friends who voted for Trump didn't think his impression of the reporter was "that bad" because cerebral palsy just isn't something that is in their daily lives.

Once I come from this place of empathy I can then turn the situation around and acknowledge that in many cases I'm the friend who doesn't know better, or doesn't think about what I'm saying, or just doesn't understand.  And race issues, for me, is one of these areas. I don't know what it's like to be hated for the color of my skin.  I've never been afraid to walk down the street because of the color of my skin.  I've never walked in a room where I was in a racial minority.  I don't know what that feels like. And even though I've always tried to not be racist I'm sure there are tons of times that I've been insensitive, made mistakes, and caused extra pain that I didn't even realize. So no, I will never experience racism first hand,  but when I have friends, loved ones and others telling me that they have experienced it I have a responsibility to listen.  To acknowledge their pain.  To acknowledge that racism exists.  If we didn't believe racism still exists a week ago, we certainly have to now! And once we know better, we have to do better!

The second thing we can all do is to stop being silent.  Whether you've been silent out of fear, or ignorance, or feeling like it didn't pertain to you, or just not knowing what to stay.  Step up and say "This is not okay!".

The third thing we need to do is to define what "this" is in very clear terms. So first let start with the things most of us can agree on that aren't okay.  It's not okay to murder people.  It's not okay to run people over with your car.  It's not okay to hold up flags and symbols that were used by a group of people who slaughtered Jews, minorities, and their supporters. It's not okay to hate other people simply because they are a different- race, gender, economic bracket or religion from you.  It's not okay to think yourself superior just because of your membership in a particular race, gender, economic bracket or religion.  It's not okay to be the leader of the United States and not call the Neo-Nazis out by name just because you don't want to lose their political support. Especially when you seem fine calling out just about anyone else who doesn't tweet nice things about you or sell your daughter's clothes.

From there we have to start talking about some of the "this" that we don't all agree on.  When I say "This is not okay" I mean hatred and anger in all it's form.  I know many people reserve the right to have a righteous anger.  But the fact is that what is and isn't righteous is subjective. The alt-right think they are righteous in their anger. They think their lives have been harder because people are different than them. They see no value in the lives of those that are different than them. We hear that and we say, that's not true, every life has value.  But then we turn around and call them "human garbage" or we say things like "I wish they were all dead". And when we say those things, even about people who make terrible choices, aren't we really just perpetuating the idea that some people don't have value?  That it's okay to think of some people as "garbage"?

I'm not saying that we need to try and see things from their side.  Their side is completely misinformed and wrong.  In fact what they are saying is a load of garbage. I'm not trying to defend them in any way. I'm just saying that I don't believe in human garbage.  I believe humans believe garbage. They sometimes say garbage and treat others like garbage. But I'm not willing to say someone is just plain garbage. Yesterday I read a comment where someone said "They're Nazis, I think we're allowed to hate them". And it's true, you are allowed to hate Nazis.  I'm just saying I don't think your hatred is going to change anything.  We can't tell Nazis to stop living their life in anger and hate and then invite them over to our side of the fence when we're also living our life in anger and hate. I hate what Nazis believe.  I hate what they do. But more than that want racism to stop because I love people.  I love my friends and family no matter their gender, race, age or religion and I want them to be happy and safe. And not be hated or live their lives hating others.  The love I have for people making good choices is greater than the hate I have for people making bad choices.

Sometimes when we are hurt or kicked or scorned we think we are now justified to hurt, kick or scorn.  But that action leads to someone else feeling justified to do that. And the next person. And the next generation. And there is no end.  Not to mention us getting angry and fighting and acting out is exactly what they want us to do because it justifies their anger and hate.

The only way to end hatred, the only way to end violence, is love.  That doesn't mean we don't tell them their actions are wrong.  That doesn't mean we don't stop them from hurting others.  That doesn't mean we don't stand up for ourselves and for those around us.  That doesn't mean we don't put them in jail when they run over people with their cars. But that means that our motivation in doing so is out of love for all our brothers and sisters, not hate. Martin Luther King said, "darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive hate, only love can do that".

I would be lying if I said that I haven't ever felt anger or hatred.  I have. But I can acknowledge that nothing good grew from either of those feelings.  Anger might prick at our heart to let us know something is wrong.  But it can't be the seed from which we act.  When it comes to actions, if we want to be effective, we have to move beyond that initial anger or wound.  It's easy to look at the college-aged alt-right marchers and just want to scream in their face about how privileged and spoiled and wrong they are.  And that might make us feel better temporarily but it won't solve a problem.  It's reacting to the symptoms, it's not actually treating the cause. It's a little harder to step  back and ask- how can people so young be so filled with hate? What happened to this person that made their world view so distorted? What a terrible way to have to live...fueled always by hate. And then the hardest question of all-What have I done to contribute to this problem? How have I been blind to this? How has my silence on these issues allowed this person who is in the same race as me, or political party as me, or religion as me- to see the world in such a terrible and bleak way. Which leads me to the third thing we have to do.

The final thing we have to do is start educating those around us.  We have to start assertively acting out in positive ways.  We can't just assume that since we know it's wrong to be racist that our children will just understand by osmosis that being racist is wrong.  We have to start conversations with our children now. We have to explain what is happening in the world and why it's wrong.  And what we can do to help. And what they can do to help.  When they see something on t.v. or in a movie or in real life we need to pause and take time right then to talk about it with them. 

When we hear prejudiced comments or racist jokes we can stop the conversation. We can respectively tell people that we don't agree or we don't approve. Or ask them why they felt that joke was funny or why they felt the comment was prejudiced.  I recently read a quote in an article about Charlottesville that said there is a big difference between those who laugh at racist jokes and those who run over people with their cars.  And while there is a difference, we should at least acknowledge that they are rooted in the same incorrect and hate-filled thinking, and that the distance between the two actions are not as far as we might think.

The members in the alt-right movement were not born hating others.  They learned it bit by bit. The man who ran over people with his car didn't start out on the alt-right path with that in mind.  First he felt pain. Then he decided to blame others for that pain. Then he felt anger and then he decided to run people over with his car. Some of it was probably learned from people explicitly telling him that the hate was good but some of it was also learned each time he told a joke or made a racist comment and no one listening told him it was wrong.  We might not all be able to march in peace protests or create national movements to oppose white supremacy, but we can all speak up within our own circles of influence and call people out when they say something that is racist.

The members of the alt-right don't live in a bubble.  Sure some might live in the mountains on compounds but a lot of those marchers live among us. They are college students, one was even the president of his college's republican group,  they are someone's kids or siblings or parents. And now they will go home to their families, schools, their communities, their church groups, etc. And that is where we must stand up.  We have to tell them- that thinking doesn't have a place today.  And when we see new people starting down that path we need to stop them in their tracks before they get to this place where the are marching around with nazi flags. 

Our influence starts with our family. If we're teachers our influence extends to our classroom. If we are church leaders it extends to our membership. We can use our influence to write blog posts, letters to the editor, emails to our government officials. We can invite our neighbors over more. We can join community groups. We can make an effort to break out of the thought bubbles that Facebook and our favorite news channel creates for us and start trying to see things from another perspective. We can take a look at the groups we associate with and see if what they are doing is helpful or hurtful.  It's easy to correct someone in a different religion or political party when you disagree with them.  It's a little harder when it's someone standing next to you in your own group.  Do we have the courage to lovingly correct our political contemporaries when they've gone off track? Do we have the courage to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters at church when they've forgotten to have charity?

And when we, ourselves, do something wrong or misspeak or have turned a blind eye and someone who loves us calls us on it, do we have the courage to apologize.  We don't need to get defensive or push back or say things like "all lives matter".  We can simply apologize.  We can simply try better the next time.  I do things wrong all the time.  I say things wrong all the time. And people who love me correct me all the time.  When I'm confident in that love and they are confident in my love then we can together work through differences and problems.  That's why, in the listening and correcting of others, we can't be fueled by hate.  It has to be love.

We know that shaming others rarely leads to lasting change.  Shaming people leads to a shallow temporary change of behavior at best and a hate filled, self-righteous rebellion at worst. Shame feeds the other's sense of rightness.  Rationalizing their thoughts like "they shamed me because they do hate me, so I was right to hate them in the first place!" When we correct someone by trying to shame them it's usually out of us wanting them to know that they were wrong, wrong, WRONG! And while white supremacists are absolutely wrong, just telling them they are wrong doesn't give them any tools for changing their wrongness.  When we correct someone out of love by trying to teach them we do more than just tell them what is wrong, we tell them what is right! We teach them what is right through our words and our actions. So after we have unequivocally told them this cannot continue and their thinking is completely wrong we have to then be an example of what is right by loving those around us and refusing to let their wrongness change how we are acting toward others.

Now obviously once someone is bulldozing people down with their car the time for talk is past.  When someone is burning down others property and holding up Nazi signs the time for sitting down and talking is past.  That's why it's even more important that we are talking and helping long before we get to these points of crisis.

And even when people are so far gone that they are willing to embrace hatred and white supremacy and all that it entails we don't give up on correcting them.  We don't cry that these problems are too big or we aren't up to the challenge of fixing it.  We just each keep doing our parts (big or small) to teach others what is right.  To tell racists everywhere they've made a misjudgement.  They've gone down a wrong road.  We ask them to stop living their lives full of hatred and to join us in love. And the only way to show them they are on the wrong road is to show them where the right road is.  We must over and over again declare racism and supremacy are wrong in all their forms! We must be vigilant in making sure there is not a place for racism in our families, in our communities, in our political parties, or in our religions.  And the way we make sure there is no room is by filling each of those communities with love.  

All people everywhere have the responsibility to stop ignoring hate, speak out against hate, and then educate others about what is right.  We can only do all of these through the path of love. Sometimes love means forgiving when we can, sometimes love means learning more about another person, sometimes love means admitting we have been wrong, sometimes love is listening to others, sometimes love is correcting someone who is wrong, sometimes love means sending people to jail when they've hurt others, sometimes love is using whatever influence you've been given to promote that love, sometimes love is meeting a new person, sometimes love is approaching a situation in a different way, and sometimes love means helping others find their voice too.

It's easy to love those who love us.  It's easy to hate those that hate us.  Can we love those who hate us? Can we speak up and tell them they are not right? Can we help to show them what is right? That's the power of the bystander.  Innocent no more, we realize it's time for us to choose. It's time for us to love. It's time for us to act!

Book Review: Saints Volume 1

Saints: The Standard of Truth by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints My rating: 4 of 5 stars I enjoyed volume one of the church&#...