Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunstone 2016

Note: I am backdating this post to yesterday, because I had written most of it by then and just never got around to publishing it. Until now. So there.

This weekend at the University of Utah was the Sunstone Symposium, an annual multi-day conference geared toward Mormon and Mormon-related intellectualism. The bulk of the crowd consists of liberal and/or “fringe” Mormons. There are also many ex-Mormons who retain an interest in Mormonism, and then there are those who belong to groups (or have come out of groups) that also trace their lineage, in some way or another, to Joseph Smith. (Many of these people call themselves “Mormon” but are not members of the mainstream LDS Church headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT. While I believe they have every right to use the term “Mormon,” I make a distinction here purely for convenience’s sake—because nothing says convenience quite like a lengthy parenthetical aside.)

My first time attending Sunstone was two years ago. I couldn’t go last year because I was in Nauvoo, but this year afforded me another opportunity to be a part of the Sunstone extravaganza. Of course, I’ve gone through some big changes since I last attended. This year, I went as an ex-Mormon. As such, I was interested in far fewer sessions. I don’t really need to attend a session on how doubt can be a healthy thing and has its place within the LDS Church when I myself am no longer a part of the LDS Church and no longer feel a need to come to terms with how much (or how little) I doubt. But the theme of this year’s symposium was “Many Mormonisms and the Mormon Movement.” There was a conscious effort to bring a wider range of “Mormon” voices to the conference, and that resulted in many polygamous sects being represented (sometimes for good and sometimes for ill). My interest in polygamy has increased much over the last while (though I have no interest in practicing polygamy myself, I assure you), so I ended up attending only one Sunstone session that was not polygamy-based. The very first session I attended this year featured a panel of women who currently live in polygamist families. Edith Barlow and Elsie Blackmore are the 13th and 25th wife, respectively, of Winston Blackmore. Also on the panel were Elise Barlow, Hanna Blackmore, and Dollie Blackmore, three of Winston’s 145 biological children. (That’s not a typo. He has 145 biological children.) They spoke highly of their experiences within a polygamous family and culture and of the joy that it brings them. They were articulate and funny. I very much appreciated and enjoyed hearing from them, and I felt nothing but good will toward them. Then, as a kind of afterthought, I remembered some of the ideas that weren’t being expressed but are pretty much guaranteed to be a part of their polygamous culture—unhealthy ideas and attitudes about different races, for example. That made me sad.

Brady Williams, of TLC’s My Five Wives, was also at Sunstone. (So were his wives, but they didn’t want to be on the stage, having “had enough of the spotlight,” according to Brady.) He argued in defense of “progressive polygamy,” which he deemed “feminism’s strangest bedfellow.” His family left the Apostolic United Brethren years ago and now practices polygamy for reasons that have nothing to do with religious beliefs. It is simply the structure of the family they have created together, that they love, and that they want to keep intact (as they should). Brady defends a view that is very forward-thinking, wherein a marriage system can remain closed but accommodate any variety and number of parties to that marriage: a man and five women, two men and a woman, five women and two men, three women without a man at all, etc. The key is that each party to the marriage has an equal say as to whom the marriage will include, and each party’s voice must be heard. That’s an oversimplified retelling of his view, but it was certainly interesting. I see no blatant logical or ethical flaws in his position, though I question how emotionally healthy it would be for at least most people to have more than one (concurrent) spouse.

Most of the sessions I attended were not friendly toward polygamy. Most presenters spoke of it as inherently damaging and problematic, with several of them being former members of polygamist groups. What fascinated me above all else was hearing these former members of fundamentalist Mormon sects describe mentalities that are oh-so-familiar to me because of my LDS background and upbringing. These are mentalities that I have long abandoned, and yet examining them within the framework of systems that I believe are clearly morally corrupt and/or psychologically unhealthy made it all the more obvious to me that these ways of thinking—no matter who adopts them—are just plain batshit crazy (to use the phrase I most want to use, if I may be so frank). Here is just a sample of the kinds of thinking I heard: Persecution is “proof” that you belong to the one true church, because that’s who Satan would want to target and hinder the progression of. If you find yourself seriously doubting or questioning what a church leader has taught or something that you read in the scriptures, Satan is putting those thoughts into your head. Because of his grasp on the world at large, Satan is also the author and perpetrator of laws that go against God’s will, prevent the building up of God’s kingdom on the earth, and otherwise corrupt society—which, in this case, includes anti-polygamy laws and child labor laws. Stories that reflect poorly on church leadership (past or present) are lies made up by those outside of the church who are intent on destroying it and thwarting God’s work. These are shaming, paranoia-inducing, critical-thinking-discouraging, coercive, manipulative, and otherwise controlling mentalities—and every single one of them is very familiar to me as someone who was born and raised in the LDS Church.

On Sunday, Community of Christ held “Sunstone Sunday” to finish off the Sunstone weekend. Community of Christ is one of the sponsors of the Sunstone Symposium, so a special announcement is made inviting people to attend our church services the day after the official symposium concludes. We had a ton of visitors, which was cool. I met some new people, and they all seemed great. Community of Christ seems to attract the cream of the crop, I have to admit. But not all of the guests were new to Community of Christ. Lachlan Mackay, my boss during my time in Nauvoo, came out for Sunstone and taught our Sunday School class. He explored the question of how it is that, given Mormonism’s militant beginnings, the RLDS Church / Community of Christ could nevertheless develop into a “peace church.” Then, during the worship service, Toronto-based John Hamer delivered the sermon. Hamer’s theme, taken from Luke 12:13–21, was “Be Rich Toward God.” It was an awesome service all around.

And now for some photos from my Sunstone adventures:

This is probably my very favorite souvenir of Sunstone 2016, the work of a gentleman by the name of Matt Page.  (He also dressed as Brigham Young and was a popular photo-op among Sunstone guests.)

Many people aren't aware that Brigham Young's son regularly performed in drag. This is a cardboard cutout of a photo of him in character. And no, this isn't a joke.

Lately, I've been thinking of taking up that quaint old habit of reading books again.  I got this from the discount / clearance / bargain bin table at Sunstone and feel eager to read it.

Brady Williams and his wives are bookended by Mica McGriggs (moderator) and Lindsay Hansen Park (one of the top people at Sunstone but also famous for her Year of Polygamy podcast series, which is well worth listening to ... though it might make you both sick and sad).

A could-be-better photo of D. Michael Quinn and John Nielsen, who presented at a session entitled "Who Holds the Keys?: FLDS Perspectives on Authority." Did you know that, in the FLDS community, the Celestial Kingdom is divided into three levels reserved for those whose marriages consist of 3 wives, 5 wives, and 7+ wives, respectively? That was new to me!  Apparently, it all ties back to Freemasonry and Brigham Young, like so much of polygamist culture and belief does (though not the actual polygamy part, funny enough).

Being goofy in my souvenir Infants on Thrones t-shirt.  Now that I've left the LDS Church behind, Infants on Thrones is the only podcast I listen to with great regularity.  It's irreverent, often hilarious, and features among its pantheon of hosts none other than the aforementioned John Hamer.

Lach Mackay and I pose with Emma Smith and Joseph Smith III at the Salt Lake City Community of Christ on Sunday, July 31st.  I got somewhere between zero and two photos with Lach while working in Nauvoo, but I'm not sure any of them were just the two of us.  This was as close as I could get.  For whatever reason, cardboard cut-outs are all the rage lately.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Potpourri No. 42

I’m alive. Here’s an update.

Work Life
My job continues to go really well. They seem really pleased with me. I receive frequent praise. My supervisor called me into a meeting room today and told me she’s already trying to get me to be a salaried employee, complete with a pay raise. They don’t normally do this so quickly, but she thinks I’ve been doing an amazing job and, according to her, they don’t ever want to lose me. I like the job very much because I work largely independently and get to spend a good chunk of my day listening to music. Most of the time, it’s a somewhat busy but not-too-stressful job. A nice combo. I often think about how happy I am with it, and I don’t think you could ask for much more than that.

Personal Life
One of the best things to happen in the last month is that I’ve started taking guitar lessons again. As I’m sure I’ve said on this very blog, probably numerous times, one of my biggest fears is that I will look back on my life and curse myself for not doing a whole lot more with music. I’ve taken guitar lessons, in spurts, a few times in my life, but I’m a much more disciplined guy nowadays. I think this time around, it really has a chance to pay off. And so far, it is. I’m playing a lot more music, and in turn, I’m writing more music. I think having a job where I’ve been able to listen to so much music has helped inspire me. When I’m listening to really good music, I find myself thinking I want to spend as much of my free time as possible writing and playing.

Home Life
I guess this is a subset of personal life, but whatever. Melanie and I continue to love our home, but the first big problems have already appeared. When it rains, we have issues with flooding. One of our downstairs bedrooms gets water soaking up into the carpet. Apparently, there’s a crack in the foundation and the water in the ground seeps in. It’s not coming in so fast that it’s hugely problematic, but it’s certainly a big nuisance. And it stinks up the carpet, and it makes a good chunk of that room unusable because you don’t know what will get ruined. And then we have to run a high-powered fan for days at a time to dry things out, which is noisy and likely racks up the electric bill. Our garage is also quite bad if it rains a lot. It turns into a lake inside. Many books have already fallen victim to it. We can’t reliably store anything in the garage, apparently, because water will get to it eventually. My books were in boxes, but the bottom of the box gets all soggy and then the water starts to soak up into the book. There was only one book that was in such terrible condition, I threw it away. But several have become warped. And that depresses me. Books are one of my treasured possessions.

Family Life
Family life is going really, really well lately. We went through a very rough phase with Peter, where he was pretty much abusive to us, no matter what was going on. It didn’t matter how you treated him, he would treat you like garbage. It was extremely depressing, and I’m not using that term lightly. But that situation has improved dramatically over the last two or three months, and it’s wonderful. I also love that Melanie and I are in a situation where we can date once in a while. Just last Saturday, we went out to lunch and two movies at Broadway, a theater that specializes in independent film. It was a splurge, but it was great. I continue to be crazy about that girl, and I don’t get sick of spending time with her. In fact, it’s much harder for me to enjoy work now that Melanie and the boys are on summer vacation. I feel like I’m missing out, and that’s really sad. But I think they’re enjoying the summer thus far. They’ve kept busy playing around. As they should. Melanie, unfortunately, has to have surgery in a couple of weeks. If everything goes well, it will be an outpatient surgery and shouldn’t be too debilitating. But that doesn’t mean it will be fun or that she’ll be wanting to (or allowed to) go out and play the next day. I just hope she recuperates quickly enough to enjoy the latter half of her summer break.

In sum, life continues to get more and more wonderful. And that’s pretty damn cool.  I guess that’s all I’ll say for now.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

2015 in Review: Music

This is the fifth in a series looking back on 2015. Other entries will include booksmovies, food, television, and more.

The last time I posted an entry from my 2015 year-in-review series, it was January 30th. At the time, I felt sheepish about the fact that January was coming to an end and I was still recapping the previous year. Then I practically stopped writing blog entries at all. Here it is, touching on mid-April, and I still haven’t completed my year-in-review of 2015. It seems completely absurd to start it up again at this point, I’m sure, and yet I’m going to do so. I had stuff I wanted to say about my musical year of 2015, and I’m going to embrace the whole “better late than never” philosophy when it comes to this. So here we go…

For me, the first standout album in 2015, although an album much older than that, is Men Without Hats’ 1987 release, Pop Goes the World. I got this album from the library in early February and listened to it almost non-stop for weeks. I found it unbelievably catchy, and it coincided with my coming to a point of clarity in my spiritual journey that also left me feeling giddy. The album served as a perfectly upbeat companion to a time in my life when things were changing, when anything seemed possible, and when I was deliriously happy—which is the precise term I used in a blog entry I wrote at that time, wherein I give credit to both Pop Goes the World and my religious revolution. I now think of Pop Goes the World as my conversion album. Many of you will be familiar with the title track “Pop Goes the World,” a decent hit for Men Without Hats back when it came out. If you’re like I was just 14 months ago, you’ve never heard the rest of the album. But, man, it’s fun. Although there are several songs that are certifiable earworms, I’ve chosen to share “Moonbeam” below. Apparently, it was also released as a single in ‘87, but I have no recollection of it. Does it ring a bell with any of my readers? I apologize that the video is of such terrible quality, both visually and creatively speaking. But the audio isn’t bad, and that’s what we’re going for here.

I discovered The John Butler Trio in 2015 thanks to a YouTube video shared on Facebook. I admit, I haven’t listened much to this band since, but I was blown away by the solo acoustic performance of “Ocean,” which I will post below. It’s impressive enough to be worth sharing, no matter how much (or how little) the band has otherwise taken root in my mind. The guitar-playing is mind-blowing.

One of my favorite folksy artists is Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden. Hayden released Hey Love in late March 2015, and while it may be one of the least memorable of his albums, it’s still good. Here’s the video for “Troubled Times”:

One of my favorite punk bands, Stiff Little Fingers, released a new album in 2015 titled No Going Back. Their first three albums, released between 1979 and 1981, will forever remain their best, but they’re in pretty good form considering. I need to spend more time with No Going Back, but here’s a sample for you: “Throwing It All Away,” a rather radio-friendly none-too-raucous ditty if I do say so myself.

Barenaked Ladies also reappeared on the scene in 2015 with the release of Silverball, just in time to spend some time on our car CD player as we drove to Illinois to spend seven weeks living in Nauvoo. Silverball is a marked improvement over 2013’s Grinning Streak, but still near the bottom of the band’s extensive catalog. Multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn continues to be one of the group’s greatest assets, if not an under-utilized songwriter. “Tired of Fighting with You” features Hearn’s classic surreal lullaby sound and quirkily poetic lyrics. This track doesn’t showcase the more energetic pop-rock tone that dominates the rest of the album, but it’s a good song.

1980s New Wave superstars Duran Duran are still going strong, having released Paper Gods in September. Perhaps only one album will eclipse Paper Gods as the album that featured more heavily into my life during 2015—and no, I’m not referring to Pop Goes the World. (Oh, the suspense!) Creegan has been an incredibly fun part of my music listening over the last year. He is an avid music listener, and he picks out his favorites from every CD he hears and demands that they be replayed over and over again. The first three tracks of Paper Gods—titled “Paper Gods,” “Last Night in the City” and “You Kill Me With Silence,” respectively—were all exceptionally big hits with Creegan, who loved the album in its entirety. But I’m actually going to share the fourth track from the album, “Pressure Off.” Why? Because it’s catchy as hell. What other reason do you need?

One of the best releases in 2015, in my opinion, was Ben Folds’ So There. The album concludes with over 20 minutes of concerto music, spanning three tracks. Preceding that are eight piano-heavy pop tunes, in classic Ben Folds form but with more orchestration than he’s ever done before. My favorite is the opening track, “Capable of Anything,” which I’ll share here:

One musician I continually find myself surprised to enjoy as much as I do is Joe Satriani, guitarist extraordinaire who specializes in instrumental rock. I found his 2015 release, Shockwave Supernova, thoroughly enjoyable. The final track is one of my favorites on the album, the slower, aptly-named “Goodbye Supernova.” I really like the bass in this song. Not that it’s impressive, it just sounds really good to me. I think it reminds me of something else, which might not be what Satriani wants to hear, but regardless, there is a nostalgic quality to this tune that pulls me in and makes me feel like closing my eyes and reflecting. Here it is:

I bought Shockwave Supernova as a birthday present to myself along with a few other albums. I rounded out my Collective Soul collection by nabbing both 2008’s Afterwords, which I had previously neglected, and their new 2015 release, See What You Started by Continuing. Collective Soul is one of those bands that I really enjoyed in the 1990s and then stopped paying much attention to after a couple of their albums were merely so-so. After nearly a decade-and-a-half of pretty much ignoring them, I came by a really cheap copy of their 2009 self-titled album and gave it a listen. I quite liked it. I can understand someone arguing that many of their songs sound quite a bit alike, but such a complaint can be lobbied against many a good band. All I know is, the last few Collective Soul albums have been very enjoyable, and I’m glad to have them back in rotation. Below are the videos for “Hollywood” from Afterwords and “AYTA” from See What You Started by Continuing.

One of my absolute favorite album discoveries of 2015 was one of my birthday CDs, White Hot Peach by Primitive Radio Gods. Choosing one song to showcase from this album is incredibly hard. It’s so damn good. I’m not sure the audio quality is as good in the following video as I wish it were, but the song is awesome. Please enjoy “Fading Out.” After you listen to this, can you honestly say you don’t want to listen to it about 100 more times before doing anything else?

It was late October, or maybe November, when a friend of mine called me up and invited me to go with him to see Shakey Graves in concert. I’d never heard of Shakey Graves, but I went for it and had a very good time. I was amused that, of all the concerts I’ve ever been to, this country-tinged, electrified, singer-songwriter type gave the most rock star performance of any artist I’ve ever seen live. Brassieres thrown onstage? I’d never seen it before, but it happened for Shakey Graves. He had a certain boyish charm and energy about him that kept the crowd enthralled, myself included. He wasn’t shredding up the guitar like you might expect of a heavy metal musician, but man, could he fingerpick the hell out of it. I’ve decided that a video of a live performance is more fitting, since that’s how I experienced Shakey Graves. In this video, he looks very much like he did when I saw him at The Depot in downtown Salt Lake City: black baseball cap, plain white t-shirt, and a thick but short beard. Enjoy this dual performance of “If Not For You” and “The Perfect Parts,” both from the 2014 album And the War Came.

And now for the absolute biggest album of 2015, as far as my family is concerned: Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots. We got this album from the library, and even more so than with Duran Duran’s Paper Gods, my kids could not get enough of it. They knew a couple of songs from the radio—“Tear in My Heart” and “Stressed Out”—but they quickly fell in love with pretty much every track on the CD. I tell you, watching Creegan cock an attitude and sing along with “Stressed Out” is pretty darn entertaining, but even I found myself enjoying the crap out of this album from a purely musical standpoint. For all the many hours of continuous airplay that it received in our car, I never got sick of it. I still don’t feel sick of it, even though it still gets regular airplay. (Santa was wise enough to give us our own official copy for Christmas.) Twenty One Pilots are sometimes classified as an “alternative hip hop” duo. If you know me, you know hip hop is pretty far from my style, but I guess the “alternative” part is doing enough work to keep my ears perked up and happy. Yes, there’s a fair amount of rapping, but there is also plenty of melodic singing and even some edgy screaming now and again. Musically and lyrically, these guys are hella talented. Spoiler alert for when I review 2016, but I’ve since listened to another couple of albums by Twenty One Pilots and they are relentlessly amazing. Each of the three albums I’ve listened to had me instantaneously hooked. Twenty One Pilots are one of the best discoveries I’ve made in the last few years, without question.

I’ll be sharing a few videos to orient you to Twenty One Pilots. The first video is the official video for “Stressed Out,” which is on the radio almost constantly, it seems. On the off chance you haven’t heard it, now you can. The next video is one of Creegan listening to “Stressed Out” while in the car. I discreetly filmed him with my cell phone so he wouldn’t know what I was doing and stop behaving however he was. Sadly, despite seriously belting his heart out numerous times up to this point, it seems my filming had the cosmic effect of cramping his style. In the video, he starts off singing in a silly, non-serious way (not as he had been up to that point), makes an observation about the lyrics, mimics a drumbeat, and eventually just lip-syncs and dances a bit. It’s still cute, and you still get a feel for how he sometimes acts when he’s singing along, but it’s not what I hoped it would be. To make matters worse, the picture goes blurry for most of the video. But it’s the best I can offer. The third and final video below is merely the audio track of my favorite song on the album, “Hometown.” It’s amazing.

The end!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Everything Has Changed … A Little Bit More

Last time, I wrote about moving into a new place, starting a new job, and being ordained (along with Melanie) to the priesthood in Community of Christ. I shared some photos of all but the new job. Almost three weeks have passed since then, and now I have some new photos that show how things have progressed in respect both to our home and to our new church responsibilities. If you haven’t seen my previous post, you won’t get the full effect … and the effect will BLOW YOUR MIND! Well, not really. But it adds a little bit to the experience.

Let’s begin with the new home. About a month into living here, Melanie and I love it. I really love it. I don’t know what to say about it that I haven’t said before, but I’m incredibly happy here. It feels good. In my previous post, I shared a photo of Melanie sitting in a sparsely filled living room. But then we got our federal tax return—an incredibly nice one—and went on a shopping spree, which included a new couch, a rug, a new TV, and a TV stand. Yes, we’re playing grown up, and it’s mighty fun. Here’s how our living room looks now (which still isn’t finished, for the record):

Since being ordained, Melanie and I have had the opportunity to administer communion to our congregation. This is something I’ve looked forward to since we received our calls to the priesthood. We got to the church early on March 7th, prepared the bread and grape juice, and during the worship service, blessed them and served them to those in attendance. Melanie went first, blessing the water. I got teary-eyed during her prayer. After we had served the congregation bread, I blessed the grape juice. I tell you, as a former Mormon, it’s a lot more stressful to serve communion at Community of Christ. For one thing, you don’t just hand the tray to the person sitting on the edge of the pew and let everybody pass it down the row. In Community of Christ, the priesthood serves communion to each and every member of the congregation who partakes of it. That means that, this most recent Sunday, I was holding the tray the entire time I served. That makes it more stressful in and of itself, but add to that the fact that you’ve got a tray full of little cups of grape juice—dark purple grape juice that could stain anything it touches—and the stress of working up and down the rows escalates. It was a neat experience, but a much weightier one, no doubt. I wish I had been able to pay more attention to what Melanie was doing, because that would’ve been neat. I didn’t really see her serve anyone because I was too busy tending to my own serving. I especially wish I could’ve seen her serve it to our kids, which she said was a really neat experience for her. Shucks. Anyway, a good friend snapped a photo with her cell phone while Melanie and I were serving grape juice to each other. It’s from a distance, but I appreciate that we have a photo of our first time serving communion together, and the first time in Community of Christ. Here it is:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Everything Has Changed

I’m not the same man I was the last time I posted on my blog. Or, at least, there are many things about me that have changed. I’ve started a job, I’ve moved, and I’ve been ordained to the priesthood at church. It’s a busy and exciting time, with an emphasis on “busy.” It’s so busy, in fact, that I’m hardly going to say anything about all of these wonderful and exciting developments. But I’ll say a little bit about each. That’ll have to do.

When I received and accepted a job offer, Melanie and I made finding a new home a priority. Living with Melanie’s parents for a year and a half was a necessity, and it had a lot of perks. But nothing compares to having your own space. And so, we began some serious house hunting. We had kept our eyes peeled for rental homes before I received the job offer, but once we knew I had a guaranteed income, we were empowered to act on any promising homes we found. When it came down to it, we were strongly considering two different rental properties: a townhome and a duplex. Originally, we had avoided looking into townhomes and duplexes because we didn’t want to have neighbors that were technically living in the same physical building. But there are some significant perks to these types of rental properties that weren’t typically available when renting a house, such as having your landlord take care of landscaping responsibilities and certain utilities, or having a much smaller security deposit. The townhome we fancied was in a pretty good location, not too far from where we had been living. The townhome community itself was built in 2007 and so was quite new, meaning it looked and felt rather fancy inside. It had some nice amenities, such as a clubhouse and swimming pool, and the guy who showed us the property seemed ready and willing to rent it to us. It was very tempting. But we were also considering a very large duplex, a duplex so large that the term “duplex” seems misleading. The duplex seems like a townhome of its own, with three levels, four bedrooms, an attached two-car garage, and approximately 2,000 square feet of living space. It’s an older property—built in 1970—but it’s been updated inside. And did I mention the space? The rooms are huge. It was also about $200 less per month than the townhome and even closer to Melanie’s and my works. And so, after giving it much thought, we decided to apply for the duplex. And we got it. And we’re living here now. And it’s absolutely wonderful. I love the location, I love the space. I’m ecstatic about these things. Here’s the first photo taken in our new home, with things still looking rather sparse:

When it comes to my new job, I started on Tuesday. The first day was new hire orientation, which included being taken out to a very nice lunch. That was cool. I then spent the next two days getting the impression they weren’t 100% sure what to do with me just yet. I think there weren’t any new projects for them to start me on, so they were kind of killing time. I was told to do things like investigate the company website and learn more about it, to set up a LinkedIn account, and other activities that probably aren’t the most pressing things one could do when on the clock. But by late Thursday afternoon, I was actually doing some real work, and I’m feeling incredibly optimistic. I already was optimistic, but I just think I’ve fallen into something really great here. The team is terrific, the scheduling and dress code are both very relaxed, the pay is good—I don’t know that I could realistically be happier working a “real” job.

And then there was today. Melanie and I have been preparing for ordination into the priesthood of Community of Christ for months now. Today, we were both officially ordained. It was a beautiful service with lots of love and support from friends and family. Melanie’s brother Brent even came down from Seattle to share the moment with us, which was pretty awesome. I was the first to be ordained during the worship service, being ordained to the office of elder. It was cool because the second I was done being ordained, I was able to hop up and assist in Melanie’s ordination to the office of priest. Serendipitously—or perhaps it was divine intervention—Melanie and I were extremely color-coordinated not only with each other, but with Jenn, one of the people ordaining us. None of this was planned or known about ahead of time. Melanie and I were both dressed before we saw that we matched. Here are some photos a friend of ours took of the ordinations. You’ll see what I mean.