Tuesday, July 22, 2014





The Simpsons turns 25 this year which means that it has been 25 years since I graduated from high school, 25 years since I started BYU and 25 years since I sat in the common room of my Provo dorm anxiously awaiting the show's premiere. Just me and my poor, unsuspecting boyfriend at the time.

A fan of The Tracey Ullmann Show and owner of Matt Groening's Love is Hell, Life is Hell and School is Hell, I had no doubt that I would love The Simpsons. And I did.

From Life is Hell

The Simpsons was a hit from the start but it generated its share of controversy, particularly over its "bad role models" in the characters of Bart and Homer.

In 1989 Provo it, yet again, set me apart as a cultural misfit. Finding all the wrong things funny. Melissa, why?! Sigh.

Soon you'll be able to access every single episode or watch the longest television show marathon ever when all are aired on FXX starting August 21st.

I don't watch the Sunday night airing of The Simpsons anymore, but when I do manage to catch one it invariably makes me laugh. I'm probably still always finding the wrong things funny. 

The Simpsons isn't just D'oh and donuts though. It requires its viewers to know their stuff to truly appreciate the wit and writing. Unafraid, to skewer music, film, history, marriage, parenthood, politics and religion alike, you needed to know what was hot at the time as well as what was hot 20 years prior. One episode guest starred Elizabeth Taylor and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the same time. Everyone seemed to be game: from Isabella Rossellini to Jack LaLanne. Of course there were tons of appearances by 1980s SNL alum including Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks. Another episode featured both Sonic Youth and Peter Frampton. My 15-year-old recently got into some old episodes. I relish explaining all the cultural references that are otherwise going over his head and he returns the favor by listening to the first sentence or two before tuning me out in favor of the television. It's still a good time.

So here's my humble ode to 25 years of irreverence, epic pop cultural references, donuts, D'oh! and possibly the best bad role models ever.



Monday, July 14, 2014

I've been blocked on how to wrap up this small series of posts about faith so that I can move ever so respectfully on to other pressing topics, for example the fall television lineup.

I have six drafts so far.

In an effort to push past that block I thought I'd revisit why I started this all in the first place.

Not very many months ago Garett and I had the missionaries over for dinner. The missionaries had their iPads out and we started talking about how technology and the internet have affected the work. We asked if there was much of a "Google effect" on their efforts, meaning are there many negative repercussions to investigators being able to type "Joseph Smith polygamy" into a search engine, and if so, how did the missionaries address this?

Well, faster than I could say "I heart Happy Valley" the poor missionaries' faces paled and one of them said, shakily, "We try not to over-intellectualize the gospel."

Whaaaa?

I have three issues with this:

First, Google is not solely the gateway for intellectuals.

Investigators are going to Google. Members are going to Google. Fear of the internet will not help us combat what can be found on it. The Church itself does not fear the internet. In fact, they've done a great job utilizing its power in many ways. Why this response from the front lines?

Second, jumping to "you shouldn't be over-intellectualizing such-and-such" puts an unfair halt to legitimate questions and conversations. This response is rooted in fear. And fear, being the opposite of faith, halts progression as well as conversations.

Needless to say, we dropped the line of questioning. We didn't invite the missionaries over to torture or scare them. We have our children for that.

Third, are we to infer from this that WE, in asking, are to be considered INTELLECTUALS? Because I'd like to cite the following in my defense:

THIS ENTIRE BLOG

So, long story way-too-long, here's what I was trying to accomplish with my posts:

1. To show that everyday, run-of-the-mill members with average to below-average intellects (like myself) can struggle with our history while still remaining firm in our love for the church and in our devotion to God.
2. To help members who have not yet encountered this kind of experience replace fear with empathy for their fellow saints. I am familiar with many aspects of our history, yet I hope I am trusted. I do not want to drag you down any rabbit holes out of spite. Or out of anything, for that matter. When I sub for gospel doctrine I teach out of the manual (even as I sidestep all mentions of milk strippings out of respect for the unfairly maligned Brother Marsh). And when I teach CTR 6, I trust what has been prepared for me to teach. For example, this week I taught a lesson on loving animals and it was FREAKING AWESOME. It doesn't matter that this very blog has an entire label's worth of posts that may lead you to believe I have a history of not loving animals so much. I can be trusted, friends! Nevertheless, these examples aside, the struggle to square all that I have more recently learned against what I have always been taught is painful and even scary at times. It will be a happy day when those who are struggling can come out into the open for support from their ward families.
3. To hopefully show that Christ is the answer. Every time.

And now, this whole journey is such a part of me that I'm not sure I really can wrap it up. Maybe that's why I'm blocked.

But I might try to intersperse all of this spiritual angst with some pop culture musings.

Because the second most important thing I can do with this stupid blog is make sure that you're caught up on the first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine before fall. (Priorities.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Self-awareness doesn't always come easily and I'm no exception to that human inclination. But just for good measure I want to state, if it's not coming across already, that I understand that the time I devote to mentally working through my faith, and the kinds of questions I ask of it, are generally reserved for people with way the heck too much time on their hands.

By this I mean that people with problems bigger than hating the color of their kitchen cabinets may not worry so much about the impact of correlated materials on an internet generation or the rhetoric of modesty in the church. How are we going to pay the electric bill this month? tends to put other concerns in perspective. I swear I get this.

I have lived a life thus far full of good luck and unearned advantages.
_________________

My patriarchal blessing repeats the word privileged five times. I counted today for the first time.
_________________

My grandmother passed away last week. Her family gathered from all directions. We all used the same words to describe her. Funny, feisty, dedicated, devoted.

One description stuck in my head. In her life she was known among her siblings as "the religious one." This isn't exactly a shocking reveal. My grandparents served five missions together. Not to mention all the time working in the temple and in family history centers. Callings. Service. She was pretty darn religious, but so was her extended family, so calling her "the religious one" is meaningful (and kind of funny to me).

Later I couldn't get it out of my head. What has it meant to be born to the "religious one"?

It meant countless prayers for intercession, I'm sure. Powerful ones. She was persistent and persuasive.

It meant that when I finished a book and declared I was going on a mission, I had parents that made that happen for me.

It meant hearing bible stories and testimonies, not only from her but from my parents of course. It meant the perpetuation of talking, rejoicing and preaching of Christ, one generation to the next, so that I knew where to look for the remission of my sins.

It has meant, most importantly, that I can ask lots and lots of questions of my religion in pursuit of truth because the most important truth has always been absolute and absolutely spoken: Christ is our Savior.

Thanks for that, Grandma. It has truly been a privilege.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014



I got together with my sisters a couple of weeks ago for a weekend away. In the course of conversation I recalled the summer before my mission.

I was at BYU, living in a house with some friends. Everyone was busy with jobs and classes, always on the go. Our schedules were often different and I frequently found myself at home alone.

I picked up the Book of Mormon.

I had never before read the Book of Mormon with such intent.

I was engrossed.
I was moved.
I was inspired.

I came to the end and declared, "THE WORLD MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK!"

Which is hilarious because I hardly knew a thing about it myself.

But it wound me up and sent me spinning back to my parents' house and off on a wonderful mission. It changed my life.
________________________________

My questions about the Book of Mormon have changed since then, but in the re-telling of that moment I realized that doesn't matter too much.

I love it. It moves me. It inspires me.

Whatever else it might be, it is one very important thing that it claims to be: Another witness of Jesus Christ.

Having those feelings flood back to me as I recalled that "THE WORLD MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK!" moment was a sweet gift and reminder.

It was my conversion to Christ and it was real.

The quote on my missionary plaque reads:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (Nephi 25:26)

It was and is the whole point.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Because it's what the people* want.

*me

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Today I watched an uncomfortable exchange on Facebook between a friend and someone he knows (whom I don't). This person's friend has obviously moved on from the church, physically if not mentally quite yet.

Some people wonder why it's so hard to "leave the church alone" once a person has decided it no longer works for him or her.

I don't think there's an easy answer for that. And I don't know this person at all so I'm not going to say I know for sure what's going through her head when she tries to convince friends (and strangers, even) that they've all been duped and why can't you all see it??

Dr. Phil said (and I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ABOUT TO QUOTE DR. PHIL BUT IF YOU EXPECTED ANY BETTER FROM THIS STUPID BLOG THEN I AM SORRY, YE HARDLY KNEW ME) that when it comes to divorce it's only truly right when both parties can walk away without feelings either way for the other person, whether they be positive or negative.

The pain a person feels breaking away from the church is so real. And to feel like you have to walk away because the church betrayed you and you no longer know what to make of that betrayal is totally legit. And until that pain subsides it's hard to truly put the church aside.

I went offline for a couple a couple of days because I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing on this stupid blog. (1)

One of the posts that made its way back onto the blog after a little more thought was the one where I admit that I felt impressed to forgive the church.

I'm sure there are some that would feel that's a terrible or presumptuous thing to say or feel.

But it felt so good to do it. To forgive.

Because, gosh darn it, I want this relationship to work. I still feel something for it and I'm not willing to walk away.

Indeed, my biggest fear right now is that the church will walk away from me. That my new approach to it will seem so unorthodox that other members (or even leadership) will eventually make me feel like I truly don't belong.

I hope that doesn't happen.

I am going to keep writing on this stupid, stupid blog because I want to legitimize the pain a person feels when learning that correlated materials are at best misleading and at worst a lie. THIS FEELS BAD.

I am going to keep writing on this stupid, stupid blog because I hope to show that I think (slow, oh so slow) change is afoot (like, eventually) and that I love the church.

And because I have recently asked God if I, myself, should stay or go. And the fact that I asked this question (and am admitting it) scares the holy heck out of me.

But that is how real it feels. Scary. And painful. But I do not want to go. I just don't.

So I'm here to say, work through it with me, will you?

And if you won't stay for that, I will occasionally still talk about Andy Gibb. (2)


(1) I actually have a folder on my computer named "stupid blog" where I file things related to this stupid blog. I'm ok with the fact that it's stupid; it's a term of endearment.

(2) So handsome.