A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Sunday, March 31, 2013

E is for Easter (and That's Good Enough for Me)

"We All Need Saving" - BYU Vocal Point

After a cross country move, I got to attend a church Girl's Camp in California when I was 11 (almost 12).  Camp Liahona was a wonderful experience, as it brought together girls from several congregations, ages 12-18, for outdoor activities, crafts, and hiking.  Each year, you would get to go on a progressively longer hike.

The fourth year hike, when I was 14 or 15, was a 17 mile hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Our plan was to hike up to the campsite and stay there for a few days and then hike back.  This meant that we had to carry everything with us - food, mess kits, sleeping bags, clothes, etc.  We had those big, official hiking backpacks filled with stuff to carry up - some of it our individual stuff, some of it for everyone.

If you knew me, you would know that I am not the best hiker - in other words, not in great physical shape.  But I knew this hike was coming, and I honestly did try to prepare.  I bought new hiking boots and broke them in taking walks around a loop through a nearby development that went up and down a mountainside.  I weighed in with my backpack to make sure it wasn't too heavy.

Feeling pretty good, I set off with the group on the morning of the hike.  Very quickly, it became apparent that I was the slowest hiker of the group.  I fell far behind, and when the group would stop for a rest, I would catch up just in time for them to be ready to go.  Kind leaders stayed behind to help me, sharing water when my canteen ran out and providing encouragement in difficult parts of the uphill climb.  The scenery was beautiful and provided a respite during the moments we stopped.

After what seemed like years (probably just a few hours), we were almost there.  All that remained was one last, steep hill.  As I recall, it was only about three-fourths of a mile.  However, I had reached the end of my rope, and simply didn't know if I could make it.  Blisters had formed, and I was very very tired.  Suddenly, a pig-tailed girl appeared, running down the hill.  It was my friend "Jane" - she had already finished the hike, but knew that I was still coming, and she had run down to take my backpack from me so that I could make it to the top.

This simple experience means a lot to me (I'm tearing up as I write this).  Jane had already reached the top.  She could have rested, or gone swimming, or had something to eat.  Instead, she turned around to save me in a moment of extreme need.  To me, this is the Atonement of Christ.  Jesus has gone on before, but turns back to help and save us in our moments of despair and desperation.  Easter is a beautiful time to remember his sacrifice of love for each of us.  Easter is not about bunnies, or chocolate, or Easter egg hunts.  It is about the promise of a new beginning - a rescue from our fever blistered journey along life's path that seems arduous.Easter is about triumph after tragedy, hope after helplessness, and victory after vanquishment.    I'm grateful to know that Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!  I hope we can find the beauty in the journey, be grateful for those who help us along the way, and Always remember Christ.

Okay, maybe Easter is a little bit about chocolate:
My Easter Cake (yes, sometimes I like to pretend like I am five years old)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Angst

This post will probably offend people on both sides of the gay marriage debate.  Ye have been warned, all ye who enter here.

Don't judge me, but I don't have a position on gay marriage.  I am torn by several factors, and also find myself lacking analogies to explain my thoughts - in short, I have angst on this subject.  Naturally I have no desire to think of myself as a bigot, but I find myself uncomfortable in the pro gay marriage camp.  In case you missed it, the word "bigot" got thrown around a lot on Facebook this week in this debate.  The whole issue has lead me to ask myself this question: "is it possible to be against gay marriage and not be a bigot?"  Some of the commentary implied that the only non-bigoted option was to support gay marriage.

I decided to look it up, and found that dictionary.com defines "bigot" as "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion."  Many of my friends don't support gay marriage, but I would not use these terms to describe them.  Yet it seems that, for many supporters of gay marriage, to be against gay marriage is to be an intolerant slimeball.

Many of the slogans or pictures implicitly or explicitly classed gay marriage opponents in the same category as those who opposed interracial marriage several decades ago.  Several openly mocked religious people who opposed gay marriage.  I found both of these types of comments offensive.*  To me, the two issues are qualitatively different.  Biracial marriage had existed at other times and in other cultures.  However, as far as I am aware, no culture in the past has recognized a relationship between two people of the same gender as a marriage.**  Gay marriage is a fundamental redefinition of "marriage" - it may be a redefinition that you agree with, but a marriage relationship has (for centuries and millennia) been only between people of opposite genders.  I realize that "it's always been this way" may not be sufficient justification to keep something intact, but...something holds me back from fulling endorsing gay marriage.  I don't know whether it's conscience or culture.

I feel like I lack a good comparison for explaining gay marriage.***  Here's the closest I came up with, and I realize it has many limitations and imperfections.  Mormons believe that God cares about who we have sex with.  To the modern world, that seems crazy - why would God care if we have sex?  I believe it's because he loves us, and chastity is an eternal principle.  The sacred powers of procreation are to be used only in a marriage relationship.  In other words, Mormons don't believe in premarital sex.  The sexual revolution, birth control, and other modern conventions have so permeated our society that premarital sex is pretty much a given for most people, but for me, it is not something I choose to do.  Now, that DOES NOT mean that I shun people who live with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or that I get to force other people to live my beliefs - we live in a pluralistic society and everyone should be able to do what they want.  But what if there was some sort of government endorsement for premarital sex?  Would I want to allow that?  No, because I believe it is a sin.  I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what I believe.  Again, that doesn't mean I can pass laws endorsing my view of sin, but neither does it mean that you get to pass a law that would force me to accept premarital sex as okay.  Gay marriage strikes me as somewhat analogous to this situation.  I believe gay people should be free to have gay relationships, but I don't know if I can sign on to the idea that the government (of which I am a part) should endorse their union as a "marriage."  I've read several posts by other Mormon liberals who feel that eventually the church will accept gay marriage.  Why do they think this? It's not like the sexual revolution happened and then Mormons said: "oh yeah, premarital sex?  Totally okay."  I don't think the standards of God change based on our cultural norms.

Now, I have to say that when this issue came up in my home state several years ago, I voted against the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment because I felt it was overly broad and harsh.  I can understand gay people wanting the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital or commit to a relationship.  I can only imagine how hard it is to be gay and Mormon, and my heart hurts for those who feel they have to choose between their religion and their sexuality.  I just don't know if I support gay marriage.  I don't know what I believe and I am admitting that.

Here's what I do believe, in no particular order:
- "Gay" should never be used as a derogatory term or insult.  When used this way in high school it always made me cringe.
- Being gay is not a choice.  Same-sex attraction is not something an individual can choose.
- Employers shouldn't be able to fire you because you are gay, or harass people because of their sexual orientation.
- Gay marriage will not affect my future heterosexual marriage - that will be between me and my husband in our eternal covenant relationship with God.  Gay marriage is not going to destroy marriage.
- Eventually I think gay marriage will happen - the social change has already happened to a large degree.

The thing is, a bigot never realizes they're a bigot.  I could be a bigot, and I could be wrong about any or all of this.  If so, I apologize in advance.

* Note: there are plenty of offensive things said by the anti-gay marriage camp.  I am in no way equating my pain to the pain of discrimination and offensiveness that gay people have faced and continue to face in many cases.
** This is not to suggest that there have not been gay people throughout history - there certainly have been.
*** Another analogy would be polygamy - but the irony of a Mormon relying on cultural definitions of marriage as between two people is self-evident.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Half Birthday, Frodo!

Frodo Baggins and my brother Biggins have something in common (besides their love of adventure).  They share a birthday, which is September 22.  So today is their half birthday.  As a very special birthday present to them (half a year early, I might add), Molly Mormon Democrat has become a Twit.  Well, okay, I was always a twit, but now I have a twitter account to prove it.

You can tweet me at @MollyMormonDem, or whatever it is people do with Twitter nowadays.  I may even follow you back if I can figure out this new medium.  I decided that the only reason I wasn't on Twitter was that it made me feel morally superior to those whose thoughts could be expressed in 140 characters or less.  I realized that feeling morally superior is a really judgmental and terrible rut to be in, and I should at least try Twitter before I dismiss it as a medium.  Eventually, I may create a personal account that I have my real name on and share with my friends, but I like the anonymity of my blog name for now.

Happy 27 1/2 years, Biggins!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Recommended Reading

You know, because I am too lazy for an actual post - here are some things I found interesting over the past couple days:

Steven Pearlstein of The Washington Post asks: Is Capitalism Moral?  (Reminds me of this blog post of the good old days)

The Good Folks at the Tax Policy Center talk about Corporate Welfare.

An awesome Mormon blog tackles faith and not having all the answers.

And, I'mma let you finish, but Google Reader was the best of all time, and this was a great tribute piece.  I shall miss Google Reader!

Finally, this is why I like Pinterest:
Funny Courtesy Hello Ecard: 'It's called Pinterest. It's like Facebook, but you don't have to talk to anyone.'

I realize it makes me a terrible person, but I don't like talking to people.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy 170th!

Today is the 170th birthday of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I love this organization, and I am glad for the great influence it has been in my life, and the many wonderful women it has brought into my life.  I sometimes can be cynical about humans and human nature, but the Relief Society has shown me women who believe and live its motto, "Charity Never Faileth."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


It probably wasn't deliberate, but this recent Mormon Message is really all about Women's History Month.

"Courage" - Mormon Message featuring Esther and latter day Mormon women 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wisdom From 1950

One of my political heroines is a Republican (well, several are Republicans, but I'm talking about one of them today).  You may never have heard of her.  It's Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

She represented the state of Maine in Congress for over 30 years.  For her many "firsts," she is, of course, a heroine.  One of her best remembered speeches (which is in a book I own called "In Our Own Words" - an interesting collection of speeches by Americans) was given in 1950, just as Joseph McCarthy was beginning his reign of fear and intimidation.  It's become known as the "Declaration of Conscience," and you can read the whole speech online here.  I think it's very relevant in today's political world where it seems that politicians of both sides resort to smear tactics and innuendo to vilify their opponents.  Some of my favorite excerpts are below:

I speak as a Republican, I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.

The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity.
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism --

The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know some one who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn't? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared as "Communists" or "Fascists" by their opponents. Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others. The American people are sick and tired of seeing innocent people smeared and guilty people whitewashed. But there have been enough proved cases to cause nationwide distrust and strong suspicion that there may be something to the unproved, sensational accusations.

As a United States Senator, I am not proud of the way in which the Senate has been made a publicity platform for irresponsible sensationalism. I am not proud of the reckless abandon in which unproved charges have been hurled from this side of the aisle. I am not proud of the obviously staged, undignified countercharges that have been attempted in retaliation from the other side of the aisle.

I don't like the way the Senate has been made a rendezvous for vilification, for selfish political gain at the sacrifice of individual reputations and national unity. I am not proud of the way we smear outsiders from the Floor of the Senate and hide behind the cloak of congressional immunity and still place ourselves beyond criticism on the Floor of the Senate.

As an American, I am shocked at the way Republicans and Democrats alike are playing directly into the Communist design of "confuse, divide and conquer." As an American, I don't want a Democratic Administration "white wash" or "cover up" any more than I want a Republican smear or witch hunt.

As an American, I condemn a Republican "Fascist" just as much as I condemn a Democrat "Communist." I condemn a Democrat "fascist" just as much as I condemn a Republican "Communist." They are equally dangerous to you and me and to our country. As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.

Unfortunately it would take another three years for McCarthy to be brought low.  He was excoriated by Joseph Welch in 1953 for his lack of decency, and he was censured by the Senate in 1954.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Our Brokenness

On each Sabbath day (Sunday for me), Mormons partake of broken bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ. Psalms 51:17 states: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." I don't really know what a "broken heart" is (I don't think it's talking about the broken hearts we have after a romantic relationship goes bust). But I know that God loves us when we feel broken or downhearted, and comforts us in those awful moments. Today's awesome womanly quote is from Chieko Okazaki and one of my favorite gospel books: "Lighten Up!"

"Perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief."
- Chieko N. Okazaki, Relief Society Presidency, "Lighten Up." 1993, p. 174

Be imperfect today, and realize that God is there for you, even when you are imperfect and broken.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


One of my favorite quotes ever, that I re-read again this week:

"Ideals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat ourselves with."
    - Barbara B. Smith

I feel like I often use my goals to beat up on myself instead of using them as inspiration to reach higher.  Just today, I realized that one of my happiness goals for the year is to learn to bake different kinds of bread, and I haven't even started on that.  Yeah, and 1/6 of the year has already passed!  Ok, time to re-calibrate and realize that I still have plenty of time in 2013 for figuring out what makes me happy and how to find time to do it!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Women's History Month Begins

In a parallel universe, I majored in history/education and became a high school history teacher.  So, for the month of March, I'm going to feature some awesome quotes from women.  Some will be Mormon, some will not.  Some will be politicians and some will not.  This might not be an everyday thing, but an occasional women's history post series during Women's History Month.  If you have any favorite women quotes, send them along!
Today's quotes are from Carrie Chapman Catt, a leader of the suffrage movement who lived to see the 19th amendment pass.  She urges us:

"To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves."

In a speech to Congress, she declared:

"Behold [Uncle Sam] again, welcoming the boys of twenty-one and the newly made immigrant citizen to "a voice in their own government" while he denies that fundamental right of democracy to thousands of women public school teachers from whom many of these men learn all they know of citizenship and patriotism, to women college presidents, to women who preach in our pulpits, interpret law in our courts, preside over our hospitals, write books and magazines, and serve in every uplifting moral and social enterprise. Is there a single man who can justify such inequality of treatment, such outrageous discrimination? Not one ...."

So grateful for all the suffragists who gave me the right to vote!