Thursday, March 29, 2012

Episode 34: "Connected to this Life" — Jenne's Story Part I

Right click here to download the mp3.

Jenne will be watching the comments to respond to the ideas brought up in her interview.

Resources and References
Special thanks to Carolyn Erigero for taking care of "cute but determined" during the recording of this interview.


  1. Jenne, how often do you attend UU or Center for Spiritual Living (or other) church services? I've thought several times that if sometimes I went to other places, then the monotony of correlation might be more bearable.

    I LOVED how you described the UU services of your childhood. I loved the affirmation, I think I want to post that somewhere in my home. "Love is the doctrine of this family..." :)

    I have had some significant ups and downs with my relationship with the church lately (which I recognize as being heavily influenced by my husband's disaffiliation), but I'm troubled by a lot of the same things as Jenne is. It was very uplifting for me to hear you say some of the things that I've felt in the past but maybe have forgotten lately: That the doctrine is beautiful, it's inclusive, it's egalitarian, it's's just the policies (and some of the people) who are not. But that this has got more than anyone else has to offer, and that I will continue to practice it in my way. If they decide to boot me out, so be it. But I'm not walking away. Thank you for that.

  2. Jenni, I made it a goal to attend another congregation once a month and as needed. In my pregnancy, I got out of the habit because I didn't have the energy. Church also changed time so we haven't yet coordinated other churches into the new schedule. Now that I get to sleep in, its so nice to take advantage of it as much as I can!

    When it comes to how church culture misses the parts of the gospel that I value most deeply, I think it comes down to interpretation and priorities. There are some interesting theories out there for why church leaders and many members prioritize certain values over others and many of them seem rooted in church history and the development of Mormon identity. As the church becomes more global, that identity is coming to make less and less sense to those being welcomed into the culture.

  3. Jenne,

    I loved listening to your story. So much that I could relate to, being an MFHD major because I was interested in the science, trying to balance motherhood and being involved intellectually, etc. I also really appreciate your comments about getting bored with correlated material. I was very diligent about reading my scriptures etc while growing up, but reached a point when I just could not cover the same material over and over. I think about how fun church would be if we really jumped into hard topics instead of reiterating the same things every week. I would love to sit through 3 hours of church a week that involved asking hard questions and hearing differences of opinion.

  4. Jenne, thank you for this interview! I felt like I was listening to myself! I resonated with everything you said about needing H Mother to identifying as Mormon and other things to loving the core doctrines but not the culture to.feeling called to be here and no one's kicking me out to wanting to become a midwife. Perhaps one day we will meet! :)

    Here's a question, I feel like my funny mixed up way of identifying myself religiously is great for me as an individual but wonder how good it will be for my kids and how to teach my unique brand of Mormonism. Any thoughts?

  5. Wonderful interview! I loved hearing you sing the UU song.

  6. Becky, I'm honestly figuring it out as a I go along. You can consider me in the fact finding period. Across the bloggernacle, that has been a popular topic lately. Mormon Matters just completed an episode on Finding a Middle Way in Mormonism and there have been some conversations over at Mormon Stories too. For me, I know it means that I will emphasize Heavenly Mother at every opportunity so that she is not absent from their theological understanding. I have heard some of the struggles of Mormons who were raised by uncorrelated parents and it seems like its a rock and a hard place. Since my oldest is only 5, I haven't yet encountered him "blaspheming" in church by talking about Heavenly Mother but I figure the day will come. It seems to trite to say but this is an area where I will through a little caution to the wind and "do what it right, let the consequence follow."

    Beatrice, I certainly share that sentiment! I've spent the last 2 years finding sources and materials that can provide that outlet for me and I've enjoyed what I've found. It is sad that its not present at church, in part because its at least another 3 hours a week! At least, I figure I've got my gospel study covered. Just recently, I was watching a video on scriptural symbolism that I wished could be the topic of lessons at church. If we could be talking about stuff like that, church would be so much more interesting and inspiring!

    P.S. Becky, I would love to meet you someday. Do you know about Birthing in Zion ( Feel free to friend me on facebook and we can chat!

  7. I finally gave up on the idea of raising my son uncorrelated and started attending UU services exclusively. For now, that's my reality. I haven't written off the possibility of going back to church when I'm ready to be okay with the things that bother me and only take in the beautiful things.

    Love the podcast Jenne. It's so good to know your whole back story in one fell swoop instead of in bits in pieces.

  8. so, i'm just wondering ... with your particular take on everything, did you listen to conference this past weekend? is that something that has a place in your beliefs, or is just watered-milk? i ask because i've found that conference is increasingly tedious for me. it doesn't offer me anything i can really sink myself into. it's all just mush to me. where's the pay off for all that listening? are there other things you do to fill this spot in yourself? i know you mentioned how good it was to find the mormon underground ... i don't know if i'm making any sense.

    1. Anonymous, I definitely understand where you are coming from with feeling like Conference is frustratingly tedious, repetitive and focused on very basic aspects of the gospel. I have shared that view in years past. his year I came to a new sort of awareness about conference that helped me accept it and kind of enjoy it. I realized that church leaders are focused on very practical aspects of living the gospel. In many ways, that's very appreciated and needed in the world. For a number of years, I found it very helpful since I was a new member of the church. It was after I had heard the messages for a few years straight that I got frustrated. Since finding the mormon underground, conference has become much more fun. If you have never participated in living blogging with FMH or By Common Consent you are missing out. The facebook groups also have fun discussion threads where groups of people are pulling out the messages that are more universalist in nature or are good religious messages, while at the same time calling out and lambasting what is not. There's a great deal of humor and side chatter that makes the experience thoroughly enjoyable. Next conference, I highly recommend it for you.

      I've also taken to listening to conference with an ear open to changes in rhetoric. This last conference was really interesting in light of issues currently facing the church. Others, including myself, began to wonder if the church is trying to prepare the members for a shocking change in policy. By reviewing how revelation is received and emphasizing the infallibility of leaders, it seems like the church is poised to make a reversal on previous policies. If you want my prediction, something is coming in the next 3-4 conferences. (And I know what I'm hoping it is!)

      I think the reason why conference is the way it is, is that leaders are focused on the education of new members and reaching out to non-members through conference. Their retention, activation and proselyting efforts are a greater priority that keeping long time members spiritually fed. When begin to fall into the long time member category, we're on our own for spiritual nourishment. I've come to accept that (regardless of what church leaders say) its okay for many of us to transition from the correlated material and seek out truth in wide and diverse places to bolster our understanding of gospel principles. We aren't infants and toddlers in the gospel anymore so breastmilk just isn't going to satisfy our hunger for truth. Jesus said blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness so I figure I can be counted among those who cannot accept inadequate nourishment and continue seeking for more. I do also think that Jesus set us that example since I've heard two apocryphal stories of Christ going on pilgrimages before his ministry- one to Ireland and one to Tibet where he learned distinctly non-Jewish ways of relating to others and then incorporated them into his theology of universal love and forgiveness. I don't know if those stories are true but I love the example and find inspiration in studying various religions to find the core truths of the gospel that exist independent of time and culture.

    2. thank you for such a complete response. you addressed thoughts i didn't even know to express. i have definitely hungered and thirsted ... and conference always leaves me feeling bored and starved at the same time. i feel like you gave me permission to go find myself some hearty food. thanks.


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