Why I Am a Mormon

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LDS temple


LDS temple

LDS temple

LDS temple

Why did I choose, twenty years ago, to become a Mormon?

That would have been an odd choice in the best of circumstances for a Presbyterian divinity student studying for the ministry, but September 1993 was not the best of circumstances: it was a time when prominent Mormon scholars and feminists were being excommunicated from the LDS Church. I was baptized even while reading in the New York Times about the disciplinary actions the Church was taking against people like me.

Why did I become a Mormon then? And why, twenty years later, do I continue to choose, every day, to remain a Latter-day Saint?

Earlier this month I gave a talk on that very topic in Salt Lake City. That “Why We Stay” session from Sunstone is now available for free online here. Panelists include Parker Blount, Michael Vinson, and my friends Curt Bench and Kristine Haglund as well as myself. If memory serves I was the first speaker; I don’t think the accompanying PowerPoint presentation is here though.

P.S. Just as a follow-up to Monday’s post: Thank you all so much for the remarkable design feedback on the Twible logo. I haven’t made a decision yet because I have an appointment with the designers early next week — but I will announce a contest winner soon!

  • Marion Fust Sæternes

    Thank you so much for linking this podcast! I was touched and very inspired by it today and aim to listen to it again to note quotes; so many gems in every perspective. (The second talk was a bit difficult to hear clearly, sound quality-wise unfortunately.) Listening to the hymn in Kristine Haglunds talk added to my sabbathday-feeling.
    Imagine that; there is a “J” in your Myers-Briggs type. I think I can relate.
    Im am very grateful for your desicion in ’93.
    Suddenly humming the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim in Somewhere (There’s A Place For Us) – this post, podcast and a lifetime of various experiences show me that there is a room for me in this “big-tent-mormonism”. A space I’d love to share with many. Mormonism can be a generous “place” to be, if we keep and/or make it so. Thank YOU for your many contributions to that end!

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  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Speaking for myself, I am glad you are part of my Mormon community.

  • A fellow Sondheim fan! Wonderful. And thanks for listening to the panel.

  • Thank you so much. And thanks for the helpful and constructive comments you regularly make on my blog. I hope we get to meet in person sometime.

  • Noel

    I enjoyed your Twible. I am curious how you deal with Joseph Smith’s polygamy, especially polyandry. Michael Quinn has made a detailed response to Hales arguments regarding polyandry. Most historians argue that Smith had sex with the polyandrous wives. Bushman and others say maybe. I understand one of the purposes of polygamy was to have more children. They seem to have difficulties finding any children Smith might have fathered. Was he just not timing his encounters right (ovulation time) or might he have been after a while shooting blanks?

  • My understanding is that there has not yet been any definitive evidence that Smith fathered children by any of his polyandrous wives, but there’s certainly evidence that he married women who were already married to other men. I blogged about it today at http://janariess.religionnews.com/2013/09/09/mormons-who-doubt/ because your question reminded me of an old conversation on this topic.