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    Making Other Religions Part of Your Faith

    The best, most memorable sermon I ever heard in a church was at a Baptist church in Provo, Utah. The pastor said he’d been praying about what to teach his congregation that Sunday, and he kept coming back to the Book of Judges. He half-yelled, “Lord, why would I teach my congregation about all these fallen men?” And then it hit him. The Book of Judges talks about these great men who fall from glory so we can learn that grace is not in leader worship but in worshipping God. And that was my first experience with making another religion’s teaching part of my faith.     Adopting Other Religious…

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    Mormon Culture: Activist and Mormon. Is it possible?

    Just so you know, I’m a feminist, and I believe our society needs to do more to treat others equal, including ethnic minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Do you think there’s tension between fighting for the rights of certain groups and being a Mormon at the same time? I’ve always felt like members of the church get a little uncomfortable when I talk about being a feminist. Being a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men; I just think women and men deserve to be treated equally. Is that so far-fetched? And I’ve never understood why I’ve felt a level of discomfort from others when I get to talking…

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    Mormon Culture: Mission Presidents, Room for Interpretation?

    Sometimes people got along with their mission president and sometimes people didn’t. But a mission president still makes an impact on the missionaries he presides over. Wendy Ulrich, a psychologist who advises the missionary mental health committee, said sometimes clashes between missionaries and mission presidents come about because of personalities. She said that when her husband was mission president, she even made mistakes sometimes. “People are people,” Ulrich said. Currently, there are no resources provided to missionaries on how to talk with their mission presidents. However, the “Adjusting to Missionary Life” booklet includes general information on communication. “I think the church is reluctant to imply to a missionary, you know, ‘Well maybe…

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    Mormon Culture: Unwritten Rules

    Every culture has some unwritten rules. Often, these are called norms, of which there are two types: folkways and mores (pronunciation). A folkway is “a custom or belief common to members of a society or culture.” And a more is “A set of moral norms or customs derived from generally accepted practices. Mores derive from the established practices of a society rather than its written laws.” The unwritten rules are the mores. What are some of the ones that exist in the Mormon church? Must women wear skirts at church? Do deacons have to wear white shirts to serve the sacrament? If you don’t live mission rules for the rest of…

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    Mormon Culture: A Polarized Group?

    Nowadays, we constantly hear about how polarized politics are. The Republicans will agree with Republicans, even if they don’t agree — for the sake of the party. And Democrats will agree with Democrats, even if they don’t agree — for the sake of the party. And then there are those moderate ideas that everyone likes, but then when we get a moderate candidate, no one votes for him or her. So what are we to do? In Mormon culture we might be able to see a little bit of this polarization within the culture. One extreme leads to self-deprecation and the other leads to arrogance. If you don’t know what…

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    Mormon Culture: Ministering

    What does it mean to minister? The dictionary definition is “to give aid or service.” What’s interesting to me is that the LDS Church has a whole section of their Provident Living website devoted to “ministering” — which includes topics on abuse help, addiction, caregivers, early-return missionaries, employment, family finances, marital conflict, overcoming pornography, same-sex attraction, single expectant parents, and spouses of pornography users. On the homepage of the ministering resources page, there’s a letter from the First Presidency  to bishops. It says, “The ministering resources listed below have been created to assist you as you respond to the specific challenges members often face.” Imagine you are called as a…

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    Mormon Culture: #MormonCulture on Twitter

    Is “Mormon culture” a bad thing? Before looking into this subject as something to write on, I pretty much only heard the term “Mormon culture” with a negative connotation. Just ask someone how they feel about Mormon culture, and they’ll probably have some pent up angst about the topic. (I’ve been telling people about this blog, and I get exasperated responses every time). I think it’s important to realize though that there are some positive things about Mormon culture. I was once talking to a friend who had met with the missionaries a couple times while at BYU. She said she liked learning about the church and interacting with the kind people.…

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    Mormon Culture: Missionary Mental Health Resources

    If you’re the parent of a son or daughter going on a mission, you probably worry about their health when they write home saying something is amiss. And if it’s related to mental health, you might not know what resources are available to them. According to psychologist Wendy Ulrich, who provides council for the missionary mental health committee, in general, we can expect one in five people at any time to struggle with depression. And missions connect to depression through stress. “Stress isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when we get overstressed, we start dealing with depression and anxiety,” Ulrich said. Not all mission presidents will be very…

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    Mormon Culture: “Mormons and Gays” to “Mormon and Gay”

    What’s the difference between saying “Mormons and Gays” and “Mormon and Gay”? Actually, quite a lot. It’s a shift from “us” and “them” language to “us” language. In 2012, the LDS church launched a website called Mormons and Gays (this link will take you to the old website). In October 2016, the LDS Church changed their site to Mormon and Gay. An article from the Mormon Newsroom says, “The new appellation, ‘Mormon and Gay,’ reflects the reality that a person doesn’t need to choose between these two identities — one can, in fact, be gay and live faithful to the teachings of Christ.” This is a mentality that has changed over time.…

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    Mormon Culture: “Us” and “Them” Mentality

    Sometimes you’ll hear an “us” and “them” mentality in religious rhetoric; the same is true for Mormon rhetoric. In sociology, there’s a concept of the in-group and the out-group. If you feel you’re part of a group, you are the in-group. Whoever the in-group is “competing” with is the out-group. In the April 2017 General Conference, Neil L. Anderson said, “Those of the world have difficulty with accountability to God — like a child who parties in his parents’ home while they are out of town, enjoying the ruckus, refusing to think about the consequences when the parents return 24 hours later.” This phraseology “those of the world” puts members of the church…

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