Friday, October 9, 2009

Moving the blog

Okay, I'm kind of indecisive, but I've finally come to the conclusion (I think) that I like Wordpress better (will Blogger let me post that?).

So I've moved the whole thing, including previous comments, over to

Sorry for being confusing. :P I'll try not to do it again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Agnostic Morality?

by Philomytha

I had a lovely talk with Butterfly the other day. She's 11 and very scientific and serious-minded. It'd surprised me the week before that she commented with such astonishment on how they didn't tell her what to believe in her RE class. We talked about that some more. I told her that I don't have all the answers and I know what it's like to feel guilty about not being able to believe everything I was taught at church, and I want her to hear different points of view and be free to make up her own mind about what she believes.

She thanked me. Not with a casual "Oh, thanks, Mom," either, but enthusiastically, with sincere gratitude. Thank you for not telling me what to believe! It sounded like it was something she had already thought about. Something that was important to her.

Can that be? She's eleven.

Then on Sunday I heard some of General Conference, and this statement from Elder D. Todd Christofferson jumped out at me:

I've heard a few parents state they don't want to impose the gospel on their children. They want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow. They think that in this way they are allowing their children to exercise their agency. What they forget is that the intelligent use of agency requires knowledge of the truth, of things as they really are. Without that, young people can hardly be expected to understand and evaluate the alternatives that come before them. Parents should consider how the Adversary approaches their children. He and his followers are not promoting objectivity but are vigorous multimedia advocates of sin and selfishness. Seeking to be neutral about the gospel is in reality to reject the existence of God and his authority. We must rather acknowledge him and his omniscience if we want our children to see life's choices clearly and to be able to think for themselves. They should not have to learn by sad experience that wickedness never was happiness.

Hm. It was in the context of a talk about moral discipline. Basically, it seems to be saying that you can't have or teach morality without believing in God.

When mev met with the missionaries this was a topic of the discussion where I saw the mismatch in underlying assumptions. The missionaries said that in order to do what was right, you had to know why you were doing it, which was to follow God's plan. "Why?" asked mev. Why couldn't you do good for its own sake? Why couldn't you want to make the world a better place simply so that the world would be a better place?


Point for the atheist, I thought.

I agree with Elder Christofferson on some things. I think my kids do need to be prepared to evaluate the intelligence and rightness of their possible courses of action. I don't think they should be left to be influenced purely by the world at large, although I don't believe they're being targeted by Satan. I want to raise them to be responsible and compassionate. I would like them to know about their own religious heritage and other people's too. But I don't think pretending certainty about the unknowable would help me accomplish those things. And admitting what I don't know seems to have increased my daughter's trust in me. We can talk about what we think and believe and don't believe.

I told her that they said in General Conference that I shouldn't let her make up her own mind about what to believe. She laughed.

And she said that it didn't make sense to her for there to be one correct religion, because what you believe depends on where you were born. How could she assume the religion she happened to be born into is the right one when everybody else all over the world thinks the same thing? (This was not something she heard at church. It was because of something she read in a fiction book about how you wouldn't find Hindus in the Arctic (well, you know, unless they moved there) and she thought it through.)

If I were a Calvinist I would think she was predestined to be a Universalist...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

RE Week 3 - Ramadan and Peace

by Philomytha

Short on words today, but I do have to mention that a miracle occurred this morning.

My boy tasted a date.

This is big. Really big. He also tried pita bread, string cheese, and clementines. The only thing he wouldn't taste was the hummus.

Need I mention that the teacher bribed the kids with candy if they would taste everything? I don't think even that would work for me at home.

Today's holiday was Ramadan. They talked about how it was supposed to remind Muslims of the people in the world who never have enough to eat. And they wrote their names in Arabic.

My daughter's class lit many chalices instead of just one, turned off the lights, and looked at the flames. Then they were supposed to write about how it made them feel.

Butterfly said it made her feel calm.

She also drew a picture of one way in which she wanted to make the world a better place -- a water-powered car. Have I mentioned she's a little bit of an environmentalist?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Holidays, Holy Days, and General Conference

by Philomytha

I can't believe I'm going to church on a holiday weekend. Normally I look forward to this weekend for half the year because the first weekend of October is General Conference and there's no church.

This is the closest thing Mormons have to a religious holiday of their own. Except for Pioneer Day, which is July 24th (side note: my birthday is July 23rd and I have many resentful memories of spending my birthday at some gosh-awful ward Pioneer Day potluck. Okay, it probably happened once, but I really resented it!), and commemorates the day that the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. All other Mormon holidays are the standard Christian holidays, but with less pomp. We don't have Christmas Eve services, we don't go to church on Christmas (unless it's on a Sunday). On the closest Sunday to Christmas we have a Sacrament Meeting with a Christmas theme, but basically it's just regular church.

General Conference happens twice a year -- the other time is the first weekend of April -- and consists of 8 hours of sermons (10 for men) from the top church leadership, spread over two days. Members watch it on TV or over satellite broadcasts, and sometimes they get together with friends and eat food and visit in between the conference sessions.

Everyone looks forward to it. Some for the spiritual uplift from hearing the prophets of God speak, and others, like me, for a weekend without church meetings.

And yet here I am, planning to go to church (the UU church, I mean) tomorrow and looking forward to it. Imagine! I'm hoping my son will agree to go to his RE class without me and I'll be able to attend the worship service. I think I would enjoy a few more moments of quiet contemplation.

My son will not be learning about either General Conference or Pioneer Day in his "Holidays and Holy Days" class. I'll have to teach him about those myself. Maybe next summer I can find a potluck to take him to. He's such a picky eater he'll resent it as much as I did. Oh the joy of passing traditions down through the generations!