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Hi I'm Sarah

I grew up in California and live in Ohio. I work as an analyst, decorate cakes badly, and love science fiction. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

Lately I've been spending a lot of time studying math and science to strengthen my brain in preparation for the GMAT and grad school! I also have been working my way (slowly) through watching all the many, many episodes of Star Trek that have been made over the last six decades. And I love answering questions on MetaFilter and updating my Tumblr blog. Now that the weather is cooling down, I look forward to renaissance festivals, pumpkin shows, and taking long hikes in the state parks near where I live.

Why I am a Mormon

I was born in a very different religious tradition - really more of a secular humanist environment than anything else. We went to church, but more for the companionship and sharing time with like-minded people than for worship. My mom converted to the church when I was young, but my parents were divorced, and my dad wasn't very happy about me becoming a Mormon. I wrestled with this a lot as a teenager - what do I believe is true? Is anyone actually listening to me? Is there a point to all of this? Are the people I love, who are no longer alive, still around, somehow? Does it really matter? Why should I work so hard if it just annoys my family? The turning point for me was, I think, the day I was baptized for my grandmother in the Los Angeles temple. I had to take a bus to get to the temple, by myself, because no one would drive me. I realized on that trip that it really matters - that it's not just about what makes me feel good or bad, but that my actions, my faith, has a real impact on other people. Being a Unitarian versus a Mormon wasn't about comfort, about making my parents happy, or anything else - it was about truth. And I knew that Heavenly Father cared for me and wanted me to keep working at being a Mormon, even if it was painful or difficult or made my dad upset. I've had a lot of ups and downs over the years - inactivity, struggling to get myself to church when I have to go by myself, etc. - but that knowledge, that this stuff matters and that I know the truth, is why I'm still a Mormon, even in the low times.

How I live my faith

My favorite job in the church is being a teacher. I've mostly taught children, ages six to nine. Every year we learn about a different book of scripture; my favorite is teaching the Old Testament, because we can see the blessings and challenges presented to so many different people, in so many different circumstances. My absolute favorite is teaching the kids about how Heavenly Father told His people that Christ was coming, again and again - that He loves and takes care of all of His children, and doesn't ignore someone just because they were born too soon or had the wrong color skin or any other useless differences that we like to think are so important. I also love our community service projects - every time we have a young single adult conference we clean up a park or repair a homeless shelter or something. I especially like that we do this locally, that it's based on what people in the community actually need. We're not always well-liked out here in the Midwest, but we focus on being helpful, and I think that's really wonderful.

What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

Mormon women are a lot like women everywhere! I'm a young, single Mormon woman, who pays her rent and works at a job and wears pants and basically acts like all the other women she knows. If you asked around at my job, probably the biggest thing people would say is that I never swear. When Mormon women are married, they have to work with their husbands to sort out who's in charge of what, what their expectations are of each other, etc., just like anyone else. A lot of Mormon women with kids, especially young kids, don't work full-time outside of the home - but a lot do. Most Mormon men that I know do a lot of the work at home, though the vast majority do hold outside jobs. It's a lot more important that a husband and wife get along and respect each other than that they conform to some specific social construction. There are lots of Mormon single parents, too. The community tries to help them, but in the end, they're obviously responsible for their entire household, whether they're male or female. As far as equality is concerned - that word is often misused. We're all children of our Heavenly Father, with tremendous opportunities and responsibilities. That we're all loved equally well doesn't mean that we're all the same. Husbands don't get to tell their wives what to do or vice-versa, but in the great scheme of things, they are held responsible for different things. Show more Show less

Why is self-reliance important to Mormons? Why do Mormons talk about emergency preparedness?

Heavenly Father wants us all to help each other - and ourselves - as much as we can. Both because it makes a lot of sense (relying on other people to swoop in and save us is a risky idea!) and because it helps us become more capable, resourceful, wise, and realistic. We're on this earth to learn a lot of things, including how to take responsibility for temporal (real-life, material) needs. Choosing helplessness is not healthy spiritually or physically. Emergencies are just the most extreme example of this, though - the Church emphasizes all kinds of provident living. Whether that means storing food in case of a crisis (and my family only kept our house, when my stepdad got laid off, because we didn't have to spend much money on food for a few months) or making sure your children know how to keep a house clean and how to make food for themselves. It's all one big whole. And by the way - Heavenly Father really does want us to take care of other people around us. We can't do that if we ourselves need help just to survive. In an emergency, I will have food and water to help my neighbors if they need it, as much as to help me. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

I think a lot of people pick a word like "cult" because it's really intense. It's a strong word with a lot of emotional content - like the words "evil" or "stupid." People use this word a lot when they really mean to say "a religion I do not like," but want you to know they REALLY mean it and REALLY want you to agree with them. In some ways it's a really important signal. We do NOT agree with many mainline Christian groups on many issues. It's good to know that. We believe that those differences are crucial - they're the reason we're members of this Church! In other ways, though, it's kind of silly. The people who call us a "cult" are also prone to calling Catholicism a "cult," for instance. I'm not sure the things that we have in common with Catholicism, but do NOT have in common with the people calling both Mormons and Catholics members of "cults," are meaningful or useful. We believe in Christ, we teach of Christ, we testify of Christ. I believe that God, our Heavenly Father, created all mankind. I believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of all of humanity. I believe that the love of God extends to everyone - yes, even the people who choose to spend their time calling us names. None of my friends - of any faith - think that I'm a member of a "cult." I think that says a lot more than the namecalling from people who often refuse to listen to any Mormons, or to pay attention to what members of this Church actually do. Show more Show less