August 2009 Archives

A few months ago, in the midst of a rant from me about how VILE Twilight is, a friend suggested that I read Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin--he was pretty sure it would help to explain Twilight. He'd never read either, but he had Mormon daughters and a Mormon ex-wife, and he knew plenty of women who had read both.

In case you didn't know, Fascinating Womanhood is, like Twilight, a thoroughly Mormon book that never mentions Mormonism. Andelin, who taught marriage enrichment courses to Mormon Women in California during the 1950s while her husband was busy being a dentist, fasted and prayed about how Mormon women might achieve an ideal marriage--and the answer is contained in Fascinating Womanhood.

What the hell, I thought, when my friend suggested I read this. I'd read The Rules years ago. I'd grown up Mormon and been to plenty of Standards Nights. How much worse could this particular exploration and defense of caricaturized femininity really be?


Part of the difficulty in battling sexism and gender assumptions is that they are sometimes subtle, sometimes difficult to tease out. What makes FW so shocking is how blatant it all. Seriously: if I hadn't known, in all certainty, that it wasn't a joke, I would have thought it was satire. It was difficult to believe that anyone could take this crap seriously. But it is deadly in its seriousness--which is a tad ironic, since the overall thrust of the book is to teach women how to be frivolous.

That's right, ladies: being frivolous is serious business. Because the crux of gender differences and relationships between men and women boil down to one fact, repeated over and over throughout the book and presented in all caps, so you'll feel its pithy truth all more forcefully:

Mormon Alumni Association


There's a conversation (begun by Andrew S) about Mormon identity going on over at Main Street Plaza that interested me enough that I already left two substantial comments. I was about to leave another when I decided that I should invest in my own blog too, that my thoughts on the topic can provide material for both MSP and SPA.

Here's the thing. I think of myself just as Mormon, not ex-Mormon or jack-Mormon or post-Mormon or New Order Mormon or Sunstone Mormon, just Mormon, for good or ill. But if someone wants me to narrow my religious self-definition, I go with post-Mormon.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is that "Post" is a surname in my genealogy--and a very cool surname, if you ask me. I like that it's a versatile noun, verb and prefix. I like that it means mail, one of my favorite things in the world.

Another is that I like the abbreviation pomo. I like how it sounds, I like that it's also an abbreviation for post-modernism.

I also like the post- construction, as in post-impressionism, post-modernism, or post-apocalyptic.

This is the grounds on which I defend it against Andrew's misinterpretation (as I see it) of the term. He writes,

A couple of months ago, in an edition of outer blogness, I discovered a couple of guys (Gunner and Jonathan) who posted their answers to the temple recommend interview.

In case you didn't know, not just ANYBODY can go to the temple and make the vows of secrecy required of participants--you have to pass a little quiz first, administered orally and in person. It's been a LONG time since I've had one of these interviews--well over 20 years--but it seemed like an interesting exercise G & J had come up with, so I went ahead and answered the questions. Then I forgot to post the resulting entry.

This afternoon I discovered it, languishing as a draft after all these weeks. So I figure I might as well share the answers with the world, especially since the whole endeavor is in keeping with the "rewriting the articles of faith" thing I did not too long ago.

1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?

One of the papers I delivered at Sunstone was on Johnny LIngo, a 24-minute film made by BYU and presented "The Deseret Sunday School Union of the COJCOLDS" in 1969. If you're Mormon, you probably know all about it; if you're not, you can watch it all on Youtube: part 1, part2, and part 3.

If you don't want to subject yourself to the crappy, grainy videos, I'll summarize the movie: on some unnamed Pacific island, this hot dude named Johnny Lingo buys a really ugly wife (she's so ugly that her name, "Mahana," is a bit of Mormon slang for a really ugly woman) for the exorbitant sum of eight cows, which confounds everyone, since a totally hot chick sells for four or five cows. But when JL and Mahana return from their extended honeymoon, lo and behold, she's HOT! Totally worth eight cows! Being purchased for eight cows has turned Mahana into an eight-cow woman!

And that's held up in Mormonism as a way to foster female self-worth: buy and sell them for A LOT.

Shoes I Wore to Sunstone


As I've mentioned, I own lots of shoes. Unfortunately, I don't always wear many of them--I tend to wear the same four or five pair, all of them practical and unremarkable, almost every day.

So I decided that during Sunstone, I'd wear some shoes that hadn't been out of my closet in a while. The first such pair was this one.

Check Out the Facelift


I have so much to report--I spent most of last week at Sunstone, and it was FABULOUS! I will write more about it, when I've had a chance to recover.... In the meantime, please take a moment to appreciate the splendor that is my new blog design, courtesy, as always, of my friend Jim.

This update was long overdue. One reason I had gotten fairly lax about posting is that I had grown to HATE the old design--the color scheme, the artwork, EVERYTHING. Also there were weird problems with comment submission, and my category archives had somehow disappeared when we updated the software. This new and improved design takes care of some of those nasty problems, though I still don't have a blog roll.... I am going to work on that.

The photo in the banner is of my beloved Mount Graham, taken by me on Reay Lane just south of the Gila River in November 2007. It's not quite to scale--it had to be stretched a little to fit the space. But you get the idea of what it really looks like: this big cool lumpy mountain rising off the floor of the desert, overlooking cotton fields and a few small towns. it makes me happy to look at the photo--I hope you like it too.

My Own 13 Articles of Faith


About ten days ago, I was trying to come up with something interesting to write as my Facebook status. "What do I believe?" I asked myself. "What do I want people to know about what's going on with me?" And what came to mind was this:

Holly believes in being honest, true, courageous, benevolent, and in doing good to lots of human beings. She believes some things, hopes for a lot of things, has endured many things, and hope she doesn't have to endure too many more. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, she seeks after these things.

In case you don't know, this is a personalization of the 13th Article of Faith, which I and all other Mormon kids were expected to memorize in Primary when we were in fifth grade. I still remember it, 35 years later. It was always my favorite, for so many reasons: first, it has a nice cadence--even as a fifth grader I cared about that. Also I could actually get behinds its sentiments. I wasn't so big, at age 10, in proclaiming my certainty about the spiritual necessity of the atonement, but I was interested in seeking after things virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy.

Not only did I and other fifth graders have to memorize all 13 Articles of Faith, we had to learn the story of why they were written: someone asked Joseph Smith what Mormons actually believe, so he wrote up a list of 13 basic tenets and belief.

Although I remember the 13th AoF pretty clear, I had gotten fuzzy on some of the other 12. I looked them up, and realized I was seriously not on board with most of them. So I decided to personalize every last one of them, and create my own 13 Articles of Faith. It was both challenging and rewarding to try to codify my beliefs and opinions. I tried not to be flip. I tried to phrase things so that they would wear well, so that I wouldn't have to clarify them right away. They may or may not be a perfect and accurate summation of my opinions and beliefs 40 years from now, but they'll do for today.

A Facebook Quiz Worth Taking

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So many quizzes on Facebook are just plain DUMB. I'll answer two or three questions, then get to one like "What is your favorite outfit?" with one of the answer choices being "I never where a shirt," and that's it, I'm done.

This quiz, I actually found interesting. I had to think before answering and the results make sense, which is to say, no one who really knows me will be surprised that I am a far left social libertarian.

My Political Views
I am a far-left social libertarian
Left: 8.27, Libertarian: 4.2

Political Spectrum Quiz

Telling Senators All About God's Will


If there's anything I enjoy, it's coopting Mormon discourse and using it for my own ends. Especially rewarding is turning heated rhetoric on old white guys who have deployed it as a weapon against any who defy them. Which is why I so enjoyed sending the letter below to Senator Orrin Hatch:

Dear Senator Hatch:


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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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