Friday, September 25, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 137


My friend, Tracy Simmons, the editor and executive director of SpokaneFaVS, is the ONLY professional journalist from the Inland Northwest traveling to Philadelphia to cover Pope Francis's first visit to the United States.

Photo credit
As I wrote in this piece yesterday, I really admire the pontiff for his unwavering devotion to living the gospel of Christ and reaching out to those who may feel marginalized. I'll be hanging on Tracy's every post over the weekend, and you can too! Just check back in on this page at where we're collecting all of our Pope coverage.


And while I'm singing the praises of SpokaneFaVS, here's another thing:

SpokaneFaVS was recently awarded "Best Local Community Initiative" by the Local Media Association! This is the third national award in three years to recognize the amazing work SpokaneFaVS is doing. I'm so proud to be a part of this organization!


Common Core is a touchy subject for many, but it seems like there's as much - if not more - misinformation out there about Common Core as there is accurate information. And stuff like this annoys me. (I love the responses here and here.)

First of all, Common Core is a set of standards for each grade level meant to standardize the expectations of what students should learn by the end of a given year of schooling. Ideally, mastery of the Common Core concepts in one grade will help prepare students to naturally progress to the next. Now, not all educators agree that all of the standards are age-appropriate, especially in the youngest grades, so there's definitely room for disagreement here.

But, secondly, please note that Common Core is NOT a curriculum. Many private companies have published curriculums - some pretty good and some really not - based on the standards and are working hard to sell their curriculum to your school district. But a lousy curriculum based on the standards doesn't necessarily mean that the standards themselves are bad or wrong. By all means, go to your school district and complain about the curriculum if you don't like it, or write to your congressional representatives and complain about the standards if you disagree with them, but be clear on what you're complaining about and complain to the right person(s) about it.

Thirdly, yes, many subjects are now taught differently than they were when we were going through grade school. And yes, it's incredibly frustrating - and embarrassing - when your third grader wants help with her math homework and you're confronted with an unfamiliar methodology that you don't understand. So let go of how it used to be and how you think it should be, and spend a few minutes on google, contact your child's teacher, or ask your child to describe it the way the teacher taught it in school and I'm confident you and your child can figure it out.


Lisa Butterworth of Feminist Mormon Housewives published this beautifully humble and vulnerable piece about the relationship between faith and certainty:
...for me, certainty left no room for curiosity. My certainty was not humble, nor kind, nor was it terribly interested in truly understanding other points of view. Certainty did not allow me to hold space for the experiences of others if their beliefs did not fortify my own beliefs.
And ‘fortify’ is the exact right word come to think of it, because my belief had to live in a fortress. I had Truth, and yet Truth was so fragile that it felt like it was always under attack from anything and anyone who did not agree.
A faith that allows for uncertainty can be beautiful and empowering, even if the transition from a "certain" faith is scary at first:
This faith, this ambiguous choice to believe–fully knowing that I could be wrong– it encourages all the curiosity, all the kindness, I don’t have all the answers, I can’t possibly know the Truth, so I no longer have to defend it against anyone who disagrees or feel like it’s always under attack. This faith could not care less if you agree with my belief or not. It just is what it is. And it could look very different tomorrow because I will have new experiences and learn new things tomorrow.
And this about the paradoxes of Mormonism:
I love Mormonism because we are full of paradox up to our eyeballs. We are a peculiar people of plenteous paradox. (The paradoxes are not generally the favorite parts of the folks with certain-faith because paradox laughs in the face of certainty braw ha ha ha ha!) My favorite is obedience vs. personal revelation. The mind boggles as you try to be obedient while always trusting your own relationship with God. Eve herself had to choose between knowledge and disobedience. We celebrate her choice, we do, but . . . but . . . obedience!! The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Weakness is strength. Leaders are Servants. We must die in Christ to truly live. Finding our individual salvation only when we focus on our community. Faith vs. Works. Grace vs. Sin.
She concludes:
The point being, that we all can and do believe six impossible things before breakfast. And while there is a time and place for ruthless logic (the lab)(but even that is all about probabilities, never ever certainty). There is also time and place to take an uncomfortable leap into the unknown and to just revel in the endless curious joy to be found in the unknowable. Our brains are so tiny and limited, there are only so many things that we can know, and so vastly many more that will remain a deep mystery...I choose faith.
The whole thing is somewhat long, but worth the read.

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