Baptism for the dead

Over the last week or so I’ve noticed that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-Day Saints (Mormons or LDS for short) have been taking a lot more heat than usual. This has been due in large part to their practice of doing baptisms for the dead.  Particularly for baptising individuals of Jewish descent.

Because I was raised in the LDS faith this practice is not foreign to me and I even accept it.  However, I can also understand why this practice would be disconcerting to many individuals.  If I had not been raised in this faith I would probably think it was strange (and invasive) as well.  But because of my upbringing I feel the need to shed a little light on the practice and the belief system that LDS individuals take part in.

It is the belief of LDS individuals (as well as many other Christians) that baptism is necessary to achieve exaltation.  Within LDS doctrine it is believed that baptism by the proper authority will allow you to go to the Celestial Kingdom.  The belief is that there are three levels of “heaven” (and in fact, hell isn’t even part of the equation) and the Celestial is the highest of the three.  However, the other two levels are also pretty excellent. I believe at one point Joseph Smith had a vision of the Telestial Kingdom (the lowest of the three) and reported that it was so amazing that you would kill yourself to get there.

It is also the belief that baptism can only be performed on Earth and that after you have died another person has to participate in a very special and sacred ceremony for you to be baptised.  It is due to the sacred nature of this ceremony that I will not be talking about it.  I hope you understand.  Of course, if you are the person being baptised for this person you may not have any idea as to whether or not they want to be baptised.  This is where my third point comes into play.

You have the option, even after death, to accept the baptism.  In the media the spin has been that the LDS church is “forcing” dead people to be Mormons.  That is not the case.  All this ceremony does is allow the desceased individual the option of accepting this baptism.  They still have the ability to choose and nobody is forcing anything on anyone.

Again, I can totally understand why this practice may seem to be invasive (and even a little creepy.)  I hope my short entry here has helped  you to make sense of this media blowout and to be more educated about what individuals in the media are talking about.

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Can your cells actually smile?

Miriam’s post about women and smiling has been on my mind recently and I was hoping to be able to add something to the conversation.

I recently realized that I really need to start exercising.  Unfortunately, my choices are limited.  Because I walked on the balls of my feet exclusively for nearly 12 years (from the time I learned to walk at 9 months until I was about 13) I have insanely weak ankles.  My knees are also messed up pretty badly.  That means that most things that my peers do (like jogging, for example) are totally out of the picture for me.  In fact, most high impact things are totally out of the question.  I used to swim, but there isn’t really a free pool available to me.  And a gym membership to anywhere with a pool is definitely not in the budget.

With all of this in mind, I thought that I should try dancing.  I started out with a “Dancing With the Start: Latin Cardio Dance” DVD ($10 was in the budget.)  It’s a good DVD, but it is slightly boring.  Luckily, we have a Hulu Plus subscription and I started to take advantage of some aerobic exercise shows available there.  I am happy to report that this has been fairly successful.

What exactly does this have to do with smiling, you ask?  Well, one dance workout that I do is a Bollywood dance thing.  It’s super fun, I really like it a lot.  However, the person in the show is constantly encouraging me to smile.  It makes a big difference, don’t you know?  When you smile all the cells in your body smile.

To be honest, I find it to be a bit presumptuous.  How exactly does she know that smiling while dancing is going to make a big difference for me?  Yes, I have fun with the Bollywood moves.  But when it comes right down to it, I’m doing this for exercise and smiling during exercise is not in my programming.  I am focusing on the moves and how my body is feeling.  If I’m smiling I’m focusing on that and telling myself “You feel awesome.”  To my mind, this could actually lead to some real harm.  If I’m busy thinking about how great I feel (you know, because I’m smiling) I may not notice that my body is trying to tell me that something is wrong.

So, Hemalayya, I will not be smiling when I do your Bollywood Boogie.  And I would appreciate it if you would stop telling me what to do with my face.

Busy days to be had

In the last few weeks I haven’t been all that faithful in blogging. Part of the reason is that I’ve had so much to say that I’ve had almost nothing to say.

The other part is due to the fact that I’ve recently started a new job with a local school district and I’m trying to get into a schedule. Being with middle and high school students all day is exhausting!

I’ve also picked up some kind of virus from said students so I haven’t been doing much of anything, haha.

Finally, with the help if a new editor I am overhauling “The Life and Times of Rebecca Walker.” That means Six Sentence Sunday will be on hold for a while.

But finally something pulled my out of my slump. The virus is almost totally gone (just a little coughing at this point) and some circumstances with my family (on my sweet husbands’ side) gave me needing to write more.

Over the past few months my mother-in-law has had a lot of surgery on her back. It’s been tough for all of us, but especially for her. She kicked off this week with more surgery to remove some kidney stones. In Wednesday my 8-year-old brother-in-law was admitted to the hospital for an abscessed tooth. His surgery was scheduled for Thursday morning (he’s fine now). That night mom was admitted to the E.R. Lets just say that this week has been a busy one for the Hanson family.

Which finally brings me to my point. If you are able, let the people close to you know how much you love them. Not just in Valentines Day, but every day. There is to much love to isolate it to only one day every year.

Colonization in 21st Century America

This article has been on my mind for a few days now.  I know that I need to say something about this, but how do I approach the subject of colonization as a white middle-class woman?

I’ll start with a little background (just in case you don’t have time to read the article.) A 7th grader (Miranda) was suspended from her Catholic school for speaking her native language, Menominee.  Apparently a classmate asked Miranda how to say “hello” and “I love you” in Menominee and Miranda told her.  One of her teachers declared that because she didn’t know what Miranda was saying, it must be bad and she deserved suspension.

Several days prior to seeing this article we were talking about the effects of European colonization of America in one of my classes.  In particular, one of our readings discussed Two Spirit individuals that have roles in multiple Native American cultures.  Prior to European colonization Two Spirit people were respected within the community, preforming special roles, etc.  However, following the European brutalization of the native people of this continent these roles were lost.  As we forced them into our idea of a civilized society their culture was lost.  As native peoples have tried to rebuild, Two Spirit people have had serious trouble integrating back into the community.  Part of this is due to a language barrier.  Prior to colonization, there was more than a gender binary.  The Navajo nation had as many as five (5) gender identities within their communities.  Limiting  these individuals to a binary is a gross misrepresentation of the role they actually played prior to our brutal removal of their culture.

What does Miranda have to do with this? As we try to evolve to a better place, a place where everyone is accepted for who they are, we need to be more accepting.  We need to work to show that we respect the cultures of many.  It is critical that we show we are not our ancestors in this aspect; That we will not take children away from their parents and destroy their language.

And if you say, “If you live in this country you have to speak our language,” remember that English did not originate here.  Maybe the battle cry should be “If you want to live here you have to speak Menominee.”

Six Sentence Sunday – The Shoot

If you want to catch up from last week, check out Six Sentence Sunday from last week. I’ve been wanting to introduce Aiden to you for a while now, and now I get my chance!

 

“The next morning I went to my friend Aiden. He’s a “real” photographer and sometimes he lets me use his models. He knows what it’s like to be a struggling artiste. I tell him my legs idea and he got even more excited about it than Stephen did! He was so excited that he told me to come to his photo shoot the next day to share his models.

“Ya know, this is way better than your kitten idea Becca,” Aiden said knowingly.”

Stay tuned for next week to see how the shoot goes, and more!

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Motherhood in a larger context

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