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Kate’s Story

Kate lived through what must be some people’s worst nightmare. She was diagnosed as suffering from persistent vegetative state but retained enough awareness to understand the people around her and to feel pain and distress because of how they were treating her. Neuroscientists scanned her brain activity and found normal activity levels, something they had not imagined they would find. She has since returned to a communicative state and says her story is about never giving up hope.

(via Mind Hacks)

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Regarding the new Joseph Smith manual

[The following is an email message to the Curriculum Development department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in response to their request for comments and suggestions on the new Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual.]


I am grateful for this opportunity to offer my feedback on the
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. I hope that
what I say will be helpful to you.

It seems, from what I’ve read, that this manual follows a pattern
established in the other lesson manuals. The manual portrays Joseph
Smith as monogamous, mentioning only his marriage to Emma Hale. This
one example represents in my mind a general pattern in materials
published by the church: presenting only a selection of the available
historical facts. I imagine that this is to avoid presenting
information that will damage the fragile faith of new members and
those who waver, those who “cannot bear meat now, but milk they must
receive” (D&C 19:22). I had once accepted this rationale with the
expectation that the meat of LDS history was available in official
church materials to those who sought it.

Having graduated from the church’s seminary and institute programs, I
believed that I knew the important facts of LDS history because I had
exhausted official church materials. All the same, I felt that I
should be more familiar with the details of church history, so I set
out to study church history with greater focus. Little by little, I
began to realize that certain materials from the church’s history that
could be seen as unflattering or doctrinally unorthodox were missing
from all official publications. I felt disappointed and a little
ashamed to learn that I was unaware of these facts because I needed to
trust that the church was providing me with all important information.
I also wanted to believe that my faith was founded on good
information. This feeling of disillusionment led ultimately to my
choice to renounce my faith.

I wonder if the leading councils of the church have hoped that the
general membership could avoid coming across bits of troublesome
history. I believe that the increased worldwide attention on the
church and wider availability of information on the internet makes any
such hope unfounded.

I have always valued the pursuit of and loyalty to the truth. I
treasure this as a legacy of my Mormon pioneer forebears. I want my
family who choose to actively participate in the church to have all
the truth. I worry that if I try to present the historical truth to
them that they will either perceive it as an attack or believe that I
am lying because their church tells a different story. I hope instead
that they can come to rely on their church to provide that history
openly and honestly, even when it isn’t flattering to the church’s
public image or doesn’t support its current doctrinal stance. I hope
the church can find a way to openly address the uncomfortable parts of
its past.

I ask that you consider making more of the troublesome historical
facts available through official church publications. Perhaps you feel
that the Melchizedek Priesthood/Relief Society manuals are not the
appropriate place to present troublesome history, but please find a
place somewhere in your curriculum. If you are already considering or
implementing this, please consider this message a voice of

Thank you for asking for comments and for taking the time to read my

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Cosmic Bully

I walked down the street with my nephew. I was maybe fourteen. The complexities of large Mormon families meant that my nephew was only five years younger than I. When we got to the end of the street, two guys about my age rode up on their bikes and blocked our path.

“Where do you think you’re going?” demanded the one directly in my path.

The unexpectedness of this ambush caused me to do something that would shock anyone who knew me then. I was what you might call a nice, meek guy apparently destined to inherit the Earth.

I looked him dead in the eyes. “Kiss my ass.”

The effect of my verbal sucker punch surprised me. The would-be bullies stumbled over themselves to get out of our way. My nephew and I walked on without giving them another glance.

My nephew looked at me with what I imagined was a mixture of shock and admiration. Frankly, I didn’t know that I could do that. My unaccustomed power impressed me.

Flashforward to today. Here I am, the brunt of a cosmic joke. I will live a short life and die. Everything I care about will suffer a similar fate. The absurdity of human life threatens to overwhelm me. What is the point? Why do I even try? Where do I think I’m going? The only rational response to the absurdity of my own meaningless life is to give up and die.

I stare nihilism down. “Fuck off.”

My life is ultimately absurd. But I don’t care. I’m the brunt of a cosmic joke, I refuse to be backed down from continuing on. I will live and love. I will revel in the fragile vulnerability of human life. I will be irrationally optimistic. I will embrace the absurdity.

Maybe fate will have its ultimate punchline and mock my hopes, but I’ll laugh along too, as long as the day lasts.

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The Kingdom of God is Within You

A prescient Charlie Chaplin on the hope for a better world. (via Truthdig)

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Lifelong Friends

We could use a few more people like Fred Rogers:

Maybe it sounds hokey, but Mr. Rogers really did make me feel like I was his friend.

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