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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lindsey Stirling: Beautiful Mormon



The LDS Church doesn't churn out many great artists, but if it did, they would be the greatest artists in the world.

I argued in my last post that Mitt Romney represents the quintessential Mormon. No, it wasn't a compliment; it was an insult. What I meant is that Mitt Romney represents the end product of all the perversion and corruption that exists--or has ever existed--in the Church. I argued that the Church--the supposed bride of Christ--was engaged in an illicit love affair with Babylon. Mitt Romney is their love-child.

But I also wrote briefly about the ideal Mormonism. I didn't think I would be inspired to write another blog article so soon, but I feel compelled to write about what makes Mormonism beautiful--or what could be beautiful about it if we allowed it to grow in its own way, unabated.

Enter Lindsey Stirling. I don't know how popular she is (I guess I'm too old to know anything about that anymore), so I'll offer a brief introduction in case you haven't heard of her. Lindsey is a violinist and dancer. That is, she plays violin while she dances...to modern dance music. For reasons I will be wholly unable to explain, this woman inspires me...in a very mystical sense...in that God speaks to me through her. I'm worried that my wife will think I have a crush on her, but I don't have a crush on her. I'm merely in love with her beautiful Mormonism. She is truly--in a good way--the quintessential Mormon.

That's gonna take some 'splainin'.

I want us all to forget for a moment that Mormonism is a religion. First Vision...whatever. Golden Plates...doesn't matter. Lets strip that away and ask ourselves what Mormonism is really trying to tell us. Who was Joseph Smith? He was just a poor, uneducated farmboy. He was nobody. Who was Lehi? Just some merchant. Did anybody really notice when he left Jerusalem behind? Again...nobody. Yet God saw fit to communicate with these two men, to establish covenants with them. Mormonism teaches us that the worth of souls is great in the eyes of God. Joseph Smith was a modern-day Prometheus. He democratized religion. He said everyone was a Priest and prophet. God appeared to Joseph Smith, and if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody. Not only that, but we are all the literal sons an daughters of God. If we will but fulfil the measure of our creation, we can have all the light, glory, truth, and knowledge that God has. Mormonism teaches us that we are royalty, heirs to the Kingdom of God. Mormonism teaches us that we are special, unique, wonderful, and loved.

Mormonism, as a philosophy, teaches us that people matter. King Benjamin along with Moses remind us that we are really nothing, but even this sense of nothing inspires us. It only serves to remind us that the possibilities are endless, and Almighty God has only one object in mind--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of humankind. He did it for the City of Enoch, and he's gonna do it for us!

People are amazing. Their value is innate and their potential unlimited. Alone, they are nothing, but with God, they are everything. You are in God, and God is in you. That is the good news...the best news ever really.

Because the worth of souls is great and our potential limitless, the Church teaches us to be the best that we can be. To be the best we can be takes self-discipline. If we have self-discipline, we can make the most of our agency. The glory of God is intelligence. With our agency we can gain intelligence. There are many different kinds of intelligence. Lindsey Stirling is very intelligent, artistically speaking. She understands music, colors, movement--and that's just what I know from watching her Youtube videos. For some reason, I am convinced that Lindsey Stirling embodies everything that is good about Mormonism. And she does it with such grace. She is confident without being 'prideful'. She does what she loves, loves what she does, and she shares it with others...unabashedly, and without compromise. I really don't think she wants to be famous; I think she just wants to share. I think she wants to inspire and uplift and bring out the best in people. She is the purest expression of the gospel imaginable, and it transcends words.



Alas, Mormonism as we know it produces far too few Lindsey Stirlings. She may have all the zeal in the world for her religion, but I believe Lindsey is who she is despite her religion just as much as she is because of it.

In my last blog article I wrote, "My kind of Mormonism sets the perfect balance between individualism and collectivism. It's about helping every member of the community reach their full potential as individuals." I quoted a verse from the D&C. I didn't dwell much on it, but it is one of the most sublime verses in the Standard Works, so I'm going to quote it yet again:

"Behold, here is wisdom also in me for your good. And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God. This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you, and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not. And the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardeneth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption." -- D&C 82:16-21

Now, I suppose there is a right way and a wrong way to read this. The right way to read this, I suppose, is as God walking us through the mundane technical points of the now defunct United Order. But to me, it is everything...everything that Mormonism failed to be...and everything that God will accomplish in due time. First, we must be equal, because we must be equal if we are to be ONE. Second, we must be self-sufficient. To be self-sufficient we must be dynamic, multi-faceted. We must be put in charge of our own destinies. Third, we must not work so that we may eat, but eat so that we may work. And what kind of work? To do what you love, be the best that you can be, and share it with others. You see, Lindsey's got it right. Work in Zion is always for the improvement of the community AND the self. It is synonymous with serving God.

Unfortunately, Mormonism devolves into fascism when you don't share. Let us not forget--Mormons are just modern-day Nephites, and Nephites are highly vulnerable to "pride cycles". Mormons have a reputation for being rather insular, and given our extensive missionary program, I find that very curious. Nevertheless, we've earned the reputation. I've always been in awe of the Home Teaching program (everything has a "program" attached to it in Mormonism; its how corporations do religion). This isn't reverent, adoring awe...but an awe that borders on disgust. The program is a complete failure. I've never been in a ward where Home Teaching stats weren't in the toilet. People generally don't like to Home Teach, and families generally don't like to be Home Taught. I even heard of one Elders Quorum handing out chocolate bars to those who completed their Home Teaching. Well, even Christ used food as an incentive, but I still think that's missing the point. We waste time on our own--people who neither want nor need our help, but we ignore the larger community. We rarely get involved...unless it's to sell our religion or boost PR. We're an exclusive bunch, which is strange given that Christ epitomized inclusiveness.

I said at the beginning of this article that the Church doesn't churn out many great artists. What it does churn out is businessmen and lawyers. In fact, the Church is well-known, often praised, for producing great businessmen. You see, for all our focus on self-discipline, free agency, and the worth of souls, we make it all for naught with our our assembly-line approach to human excellence. You see, every Mormon has to look the same (especially the men), act the same, and think the same--with emphasis on the latter. I'm sorry, but I don't want to fit the mold. I want to grow into whatever my best self happens to be, fully and completely. I don't want to be some carbon-copy of Elder so-and-so. The Kingdom of God needs diversity. It needs Jews and gentiles, Nephites and Lamanites, Ephraimites and Manassites, and all manner of -ites. It needs a few non-white dress shirts in the congregation. Yet this goes against the Church's factory-style approach. Zion will be the most diverse nation that ever existed. Zion will house every religion, every lifestyle, and every -ism, and it will all be warmly embraced.

Conversely, Lindsey Stirling is the quintessential Mormon because she is different, innovative. "I want to prove that you don't have to conform to be accepted. The greatest Value comes from loving yourself for who you are." That sounds like as good a gospel as any. Hey, we believe in an open canon, right? Let's add it to the Standard Works. Some of you are scoffing, but she's right. Christ wants diversity. God has endowed us all with different gifts for a reason. In the Body of Christ we have the head, the arms, the hands, legs, feet. There are so many functions to perform...so many roles to fulfil...so many callings to magnify...that nobody gets left behind. Scoff all you want at her youthful naivete. She understands God's plan of salvation for us better than you do.

What's good about Mormonism (Lindsey Stirling) is better than what's bad (Mitt Romney). What saddens me about Mormonism is that it stopped being a movement and started being merely a rigid, self-congratulatory culture of spiritual mediocrity and stupidity. We resemble the Jews in Christ's day, not his faithful disciples. The Church has all but abandoned Zion, the Gathering, and reconciliation with the Native Americans--which it so desperately needs right now. It is my belief, and my hope, that as we remember not only the Restoration, but what the Restoration was for, that the spirit Ephraim will be awakened in us. Then, and only then, will we cease to be an organized religion, but rather people organized behind a common cause. Come to Zion. Come to Zion.

27 comments:

  1. Nice description of Lindsey Stirling and the opportunities of Mormonism, but what exactly the consequences if you don't share? ("Unfortunately, Mormonism devolves into fascism when you don't share.")
    How dangerous could they be?
    For example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=pLBplsNkr4k
    (5:44)
    Here she mentions to kill a child, if it doesn't share the silence... this makes mormonism seem wicked.

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    1. "Here she mentions to kill a child, if it doesn't share the silence... this makes mormonism seem wicked."

      I hope this comment encourages people to do their own research before forming an opinion. If you watch the clip, you will see this comment was made sarcastically. She was doing in interview in a parking garage and was interrupted by what sounded like a yelling child. She seemed slightly annoyed at being interrupted during the interview so said she would kill the next thing to make noise and interrupt her no matter if it was just a bug or a child. It was obviously light hearted and a joke (she chuckles before and after showing she in no way meant it as an actual threat.) She didn't plan on hunting down the child and killing it. She was not commenting on her desire to silence the sharing of anything. Furthermore, to take that comment so far out of context and try to use it to say that a whole belief system is wicked is not only irresponsible but seems quite mean spirited.

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  2. I didn't realize she was a Mormon. Of course, I only ever heard of her when you and Heidi started posting her videos on Facebook.

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  3. Supervoid, it's very complex and deserves its own blog post, and furthermore, sometimes I just say crap that I hope nobody will call me on.

    The Mormons think they are a chosen people. They think they're going to become Gods. They think they belong to the ONLY true Church. Many of them believe in salvation by works (careful, they don't really know what they believe in this regard). Many of them think they are the last remaining beacon of light in a world otherwise overcome with darkness.

    I don't begrudge Mormons their views (I still share many of them), but if they cease trying to improve the lives of others, if they cease sharing, if they turn their backs on the poor and the spiritual have-nots, then they are in grave danger of becoming fascists. They are in grave danger of becoming the Zoramites at Rameumptom, or the Amalekites who rejected Aaron.

    In short, if you're going to think you're better than everyone else, then you need to maintain an inclusive rather than exclusive attitude. You can't circle the wagons and watch the world burn (and praise God for it); you've got to have a mind to save it.

    Haha, I watched that entire video. Yes, at the VERY end she does threaten to kill that poor kid. Lol. I will confess that I don't know ANYTHING about her personally. My article was simply me trying to convey the rather bizarre emotional response that I had to her and a small handful of Mormons that I've met in life. I don't want to put her on a pedestal (who am I kidding--that's totally what I did), I just wanted to convey that she seems to hold crucial values--sharing and diversity--that Mormons need but tend to lack. God bestows us with gifts because he wants us to share them. Different people have different gifts. Yet, the Church tends not to promote diversity, and its members are often competitive and judgmental as opposed to generous with their gifts.

    I suppose it's possible that if I met Lindsey Stirling, I would think she was the worst kind of person. From a distance however, she simply seems like the right kind of Mormon. The goal of Mormonism should be to reach our full, god-given potential and to labor diligently to help others do the same. Lindsey Stirling is someone I believe does that and in a way that's often under-appreciated by the Church, i.e., by being different, creative, original, non-conforming, etc.

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    1. "Many of them believe in salvation by works (careful, they don't really know what they believe in this regard)"

      This is not and has never been the stance of the Mormon church. You obviously have had some previous fall out with the Mormons, I'd guess that at one point you were one. I do agree with you on most of the things you said, being from Vegas and recently moving to Utah its a different kind of Mormon community here, but your obvious beef with the church makes it hard to accept the article as is since you seem to be trying to convey you're 'open-mindedness' while being fairly close-minded and judgmental of the people you claim judge too often.

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    2. Chris, you are right about a number of things. I wouldn't call it a falling-out necessarily, but it's true that I no longer identify as a member of the Monson-headed, SLC-based Church. I'm still a Mormon, however, if that makes any sense.

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    3. Actually, that makes a lot of sense. I'm glad that you have the courage to "leave" the standard mormon mould if that is what brings you closer to Christ. That being said, I do believe that the SLC Church is run by divine authority, and a great help to many in their journey towards perfection.
      ---
      "Many of them believe in salvation by works (careful, they don't really know what they believe in this regard)"
      ---
      It's true! Many members of the LDS church are confused about the whole grace vs. works thing. I know that it is a line that I try to walk every day, to live between slacking off and taking pride in my "own" achievements. One of my favorite quotes from the prophets about this comes from Gordon B. Hinckley. It reads, "Get down on your knees and pray like it all depends on God, and than get up and work like it all depends on you." (The quote was not quite right, but it is pretty dang close.)
      Thank you for posting your (mostly) accurate opinions on mormonisim. The line between what is gospel truth and what is culture is sometimes maddening to watch.
      C. Harrison

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    4. I've been a Mormon all my life and I do not believe (and neither does the church teach) we are saved by works. Oh, I taught it on my mission because I was foolish and short-sighted like a lot of Mormons, but I have learned over the years- NOTHING I can do will get me to heaven, but plenty I can do may keep me out. Christ is the only way, it is by his "grace I am saved, (only) after all I can do". To me that says; even after all is said and done, after all I can do on my own, I am still saved by Christs grace. There are not enough home teaching visits, service projects or cupcakes I can bake for our ward party that will save me. Yes, I believe I should follow his example and do good works and provide service to my fellow man, but if someone thinks that alone will get them to the Celestial Kingdom, they do not understand church teachings. Christ is the one we MUST go through to get there.

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  4. Mike, I'm glad you like her. I like her too, and part of my secret agenda was spreading Lindsey Stirling awareness.

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  5. That's what would be interesting, even the dangers of Mormons.
    Well, I don't know much about this religion. I just was watching Lindsey's videos and discovered an comment which suspected her being Mormon. This urged me on typing the query in google which brought me here.
    What I understood yet is that Mormons are convinced that sharing is the key. To what extent is meant to share? Providing their skills and talents is ok, but I think they aren't going to share their wives with each other. And do they expect the others to make the same effort?
    Furthermore, they think they are the best and are going to be Gods? Well, that's maybe the motivation and makes sense, because who will try to help and share with other people while knowing that even these other people could have more success?
    Or am I getting something wrong? ... and in the beginning of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsanj3_BmdI&feature=related ; does Lindsey talk about Mormonism or what distinguishes her from the mundane Mormon?

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  6. Well, I'm glad Google is doing its job. Lol.

    I don't quite understand what you're saying about polygamy. I have a fairly good grasp on the culture of the Mormon Church. Polygamy is NEVER coming back. Even if it was legalized, the LDS Church would NOT re-introduce polygamy. It's a part of our past that we generally don't want to remember or think about. I'm sure some faithful Mormons would disagree with me, but that's a minority view. Most Mormons are glad it's gone and hope it never comes back. And really, it hasn't been practiced for over one hundred years. The "manifesto" to end it came out in 1890. Before the Internet (and Mitt Romney), some LDS were into their 20s and 30s before they learned that Mormons used to practice polygamy or that Joseph Smith was a polygamist.

    So when I say share, yes, I mean skills and talents. Mormons ought to share their skills and talents to enhance the lives of others. And in true Christlike fashion, they should encourage the recipients to in turn do the same. Too many Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, etc., have bought into the worldview of Social Darwinism...all the while they still profess to believe in and follow the teachings of Jesus. I believe in the Theory of Evolution, but I'm still staunchly opposed to Social Darwinism. It is as far from Christ's teachings as you can get.

    Yes, I think most Mormons still believe in apotheosis (becoming Gods), although I'll be surprised if the doctrine is still around in 50 years; it seems to be falling out of popularity because too many people find it controversial. I don't think Mormons withhold their skills and talents from others because they are fearful of their inevitable success. The most common excuse is that if you help others, they will become unable or unwilling to help themselves. This excuse is completely bogus, in my opinion, so I think the real reason is exactly what the Bible and Book of Mormon say: Greed, pride, a sense of entitlement, etc: "I deserve more because I'm stronger, smarter, more disciplined, ...more blessed."

    I watched that Youtube link, and I believe it confirms what I think I know about her, i.e., "By finding passion, by sharing with other people, we are able to work from the inside out, and that's how we find happiness." I agree with her. That SHOULD BE the essence of Mormonism.

    I'm not sure what the answer to your question is. However, I believe that's how she's internalized HER Mormonism. I believe that is her understanding of Mormonism, and thus, the reason it provides strength in her life. Other Mormons interpret Mormonism for themselves differently. Much of this blog is devoted to criticizing interpretations that Mormons have of Mormonism that I believe are harmful to themselves and others.

    I believe she could have prefaced ber statement with, "This is what Mormonism means to me..." whereas I'm saying, "This is what Mormonism SHOULD mean, but it isn't commonly understood or practiced that way...even though the foundational tenets lend themselves to that interpretation" In that sense, I believe she is the right kind of Mormon...even a savior of the religion, so to speak.

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    1. "Yes, I think most Mormons still believe in apotheosis (becoming Gods), although I'll be surprised if the doctrine is still around in 50 years; it seems to be falling out of popularity because too many people find it controversial."

      I hate to say it, but I don't think that the apotheosis doctrine is going to "fall out" ever. Unlike a cultural thing like polygamy, the mormon doctrine of apotheosis is a divine truth, and therefore unchangeable. People are not going to stop becoming like Jesus just because it is unpopular, and I think the prophet and the apostles are morally upright enough to not change a divine truth because they get flack about it. Cultural things like polygamy and blacks receiving the priesthood are one thing, but changing the very nature of their theology is quite another!

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  7. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article..

    busana muslim

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  8. So what EXACTLY is the difference between Christianity and Mormonism?

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    1. Mormons identify themselves as Christians. The official name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes I make the distinction between Christians and Mormons, but all I mean by it is Mormons as a subset of Christianity. I have an inclusive attitude regarding Christianity. If an individual identifies as a Christian, who am I to dispute that. I may harbor personal opinions regarding whether or not an individual or group follows the teachings of Christ, but I keep it to myself.

      The relationship between Mormons and Christians is complex and controversial, and a lot of people disagree that Mormons are Christians. If you want to read up on the differences, there's a Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity . You will have to decide for yourself.

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  9. I am absolutely in love with her. I found her music online. I had no idea she was LDS. That only makes me like her more.

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    1. I think she represents the religion well. On the other hand, the fact that people think Mitt Romney is the quintessential Mormon is a total betrayal, in my opinion, of core Mormon values, which--if you read the Book of Mormon--are very egalitarian.

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  10. I am what would be called inactive in the Mormon church. I agree with your description of the "worst kind of mormon". Conformity itself seems to be one of the greatest principles in the church. And "we" have lost the sense of sharing, of responsiblity (in the sense of love, kindness and effort) for all of Gods children and not just members of the church. It is why I am inactive, but maybe I need to stop being that, and go back and have the courage to be myself, within the church. As for Lindsey's comment on the child, good heavens that was clearly jest.

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    1. LostSoul, I am very much in the same boat as you. I am a Mormon without a Church, and that is hard spiritually. Please consider joining a Facebook Group that I set up with some friends. http://www.facebook.com/groups/mormonreconciliation/

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  11. Gosh Arkwelder. I'm sad that you've never been to a ward with good home teaching. One of my most favorite things to do is to crack a family that does not want and or does not think they need to be visited. I find that if you consistently visit for a few months, share a positive message, offer specific assistance and then get out in less than 40 minutes, you can become the kind of person they know they can count on. They start looking forward to your visits, and you are the one they call when the chips are down. It gives my life meaning.

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  12. Just saw one of her Christmas videos and saw a temple behind her. That's when I googled if she was Mormon. And found this blog.

    I think you've got the right idea here. I wish I had met more Lindsey's when I was active instead of just being considered 'a convert.'

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  13. Well, I'm Catholic, but I will agree that God speaks to me through her. I will always be Catholic. One thing you should know about me, my life is based on logic. For reasons I will not say the past 6 years I felt a strong hatred towards God, removing absolutely any positive emotion towards Catholicism in my search for truth. However, my logic brought me right back to the Catholic Church. I just felt it matched perfectly with my logical nature. What's more, the past three months since I've discovered Lindsey have erased completely my hatred towards God. I do not think the Church of LDS is the true faith, however, As a Catholic I believe God is everywhere. You will find him in places you would not expect. Lindsey Stirling strengthened my belief in the Catholic Church, and for that I am grateful and I now pray for her every day. I know you guys will not be pleased by my mindset, but I pray that people will search for the truth through reason, not emotion. God bless you all, and I hope everyone finds true happiness.

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    1. This is a complete convolution of logic to say the least. Logic in no way dictates religion or a higher good. Within logic there is no "assumption" of anything. Either it is true or not. I do applaud your for you understanding those that think different than you. But please, do not for a second equate religion to logic. It is not possible.

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  14. Jesus is the only way. No one owns Him. No church/demonination can save you period, only Him. We are not Children of God when we are born, we become His child when we receive Him. Read John 1:12-13. Jesus not only fulfilled the law, but became the law. Jesus restored the temple through Himself. Through our belief in Jesus we become annointed as Kings and Queens, priests and priestesses, in His Temple. The temple is Jesus and we the believers are in the House of God as the Holy Temple. Praise Him. Once we are covered with His blood we are saved in His Kingdom. I love her diversity and authenticity which I agree many Mormons are under the "bite" method of mind control given by the church. Good job, hope for her success.

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  15. I have just one question. How did you find out that she is Mormon. I haven't found anything that says that she is in other documents.

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  16. She said it herself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jOhOB8MD7g

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  17. Thank you for this post. As a convert, and one who missed out on growing up in the Church, I struggle mightily to find my talents and to use them in a way that won't ruffle too many feathers. A trained collaratura soprano, I try not to sing too loud in the congregation! I hit a high G once, and a sister in front of me turned around and said "Oh, hell no she didn't!" Yes. Yes I did. And I'm thinking it's time to embrace my voice, embrace my faith, and sing out! Thank you for helping me to realize I don't have to be a cookie cutter Molly Mormon. :)

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