Feb. 21st, 2012

thetatiana: (Default)
I wrote this up this morning and just wanted to share it with people, so I sent it as a guest post to fMh. I don't know if they'll be interested in posting it or not, as it's nothing particularly earth-shattering or new. So I'll post it here just in case it never sees the light of day over there. I made a little autobiographical blurb for the beginning and everything.

Tatiana Boshenka converted to the church in 2001 and is a frequent commenter around the bloggernacle. Her interests range from astronomy, evolutionary biology, and quantum physics to public health and epidemiology, poverty elimination, and averting human extinction. She adopted a teenage son several years ago, and resides with him and their nine cats in Birmingham, Alabama. She's been accused of being a starry-eyed optimist, and since retiring from her career in engineering design and project management for the nuclear, water and waste-water, steel, and paper industries, she has way too much time on her hands to read and think.

I was working this morning around the house, and thinking about the issues we discuss on the bloggernacle all the time, as I often do. Suddenly, I recalled and felt overwhelmed with how much I simply love my church, and love the Restored Gospel! Sometimes I think I focus so much on what needs to change that I forget how great it all is to begin with, why I joined a decade ago, and how much my life has changed since then for the better. So the idea came to me of writing up an overall report card for the church from time to time, to keep my perspective balanced. I took this morning and came up with my evaluation of the church right now in first quarter 2012. Please tell me in the comments what ways you agree or disagree with my assessment, which things I've forgotten to include, and what grade you yourself would give right now to the church overall.

The Restored Gospel: A++

o Eternal Progression and eventual Godhood: A++

o Teaching us Service to each other (perfection of the Saints): A++

o Intelligence being the Glory of God: A++

o Spirit being Refined Matter (philosophical materialism, and how much sense that makes): A++

o The Word of Wisdom (says this Irish girl whose family is littered with dead alcoholics, and a few living ones): A++

o The Goodness and Wholesomeness of Embodiment and Bodies: A (They lose a few points for excessive modesty rhetoric to girls and for teaching sexuality and masturbation to kids as being toxic, causing difficulties once people are married from suddenly changing ideas to married sex being all exalted and stuff.

o Teaching us Honesty, Industry, Thrift, Self-Reliance, Educational Achievement, Responsibility, Love, Kindness, Generosity, Empathy, Tenderness, Innocence, Strong Loving Families, Courage, Convictions, Standing for Something, Working to Build the Kingdom of God, Zion, Good-heartedness, Peacefulness, lack of Contention, Letting Go of Negative Influences, etc.: A++

o Providing a community of people who are struggling to learn all these good things and manifest them in their treatment of each other. B+ (Our communities are far from perfect but wow have you seen the rest of world lately? We’re doing our best at this and continuing to improve as we go. We’re certainly not perfect but we do try to keep our ideals in mind and continually aim for them. The extent to which many, many Latter-day Saints are manifestly wonderfully good people is the number one reason I began investigating the church years ago. I’ve long since quit being surprised when I see new evidence that LDS people are very good, so good, heartbreakingly good. (Thank you for that, brothers and sisters. When I think about this I get tears in my eyes.))

Provident Living: A++ (I've totally changed from a 'grasshopper' to an 'ant'. Well, not totally as in absolutely completely, but I definitely have changed a whole lot.)

Disaster Preparedness: A++ (Love this!)

Disaster Relief, Mormon Helping Hands, LDS Humanitarian Foundation: A++ (So dear to my heart!)

Lay Clergy: A++

Education, Intellectualism (and combating anti-intellectualism). A- (A few points off for Joseph F. Smith's denial of evolution.)

Independent thinking: B (On the one hand we have the school of teaching correct principles and letting us govern ourselves, but on the other hand there's that whole idea that when the prophet has spoken, the thinking is done. Average those two competing paradigms for my grade on this.)

Pinching tithing Pennies: A (they lose the ++ for the mall development in downtown SLC, though that will probably end up being a good investment anyway, so what the heck: A++). Oh but they’re not open with how tithing is spent so on second thought, make that a B).

Church welfare including farms, canneries, cheap staples, and encouraging self-sufficiency: A++, though it must be noted that I’ve so far not yet had the personal experience of using those things. What I do know tells me it’s awesome.

Missionary Outreach, proclaiming the gospel: A++ (I think we do an excellent job of this, and of updating our methods as technology changes and we learn what's effective.)

Callings and the development of speaking skills, management competency, fostering service to our fellow humans, and learning by teaching each other. A (this could be improved if we did more teaching of how to teach, speak, manage, and especially if opportunities now available only to men were extended to women as well).

Which brings us to, Patriarchy, Gender Roles, and Structural Violence Against Women. Oooo, I have a feeling our church GPA is about to drop.

o Mother in Heaven: B (It’s fantastic that we learn of her, but sad that we learn so little.)

o Eve’s Decision on the Garden as a positive thing: B (Again, way better than most Christian churches, but does she have to sit so silently and meekly in our version of the story?)

o Developing Talents in YW and RS: C- (There’s some good things happening, of course, but nothing like it should be, and nothing near as much as for the YM and EQ.) (By the way, this is not an evaluation of the teachers in YW and RS who are mostly doing a splendid job, but of the program itself, manuals, top leadership, etc. Also the lack of self-determination, and the neglect of the whole world including developing countries, which desperately needs women to help with education, infrastructure, microfinance, health care, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the naked, and all the stuff our charter says we're supposed to be doing. We have serious, important work we need to focus on much more than having ward princess pageants or whatever.)

o Modesty Rhetoric: D (The Taliban get an F, Saudi Arabia a D-, so I’m afraid it’s almost as bad as it could be.)

o Civil Rights for LGBT individuals, acceptance and love of LGBT family members and community members: D (Again, almost as bad as it could be.)

I don't know how to weigh everything and come up with an overall GPA. But you know what? I feel like the LDS Church is doing a pretty good job, is really wonderful, overall. Yes there are some grievous flaws but there are also many reasons I absolutely have to keep working with it, putting my faith in it, and giving it my full support. Sometimes I focus too much on what we need to improve, but I think sometimes I need to stop and remember how much we get right, and how very much I love my church community. Big hugs for all my Mormon Peeps! Thanks and grateful tears for all you do! Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished. Now there’s a whole big world out there that needs us. So I hope I'll always be able to step back, renew my enthusiasm, put my heart into it, and keep working my tail off!

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