Sahar: The Church in Turkey
Sahar's final post is about her life in Turkey (where she is studying for a PhD). One hopes that Turkey--if it really wants EU membership--will improve its religious freedom laws. The Church in Turkey
The church in Turkey consists of 3 branches. The first and main branch is in Istanbul. The membership records of that branch show 30 members, but about 15-20 attend church every Sunday. There is another branch in Adona which has about 30 members. The third branch is in Ankara and this is the branch I have been attending for about a year now.
Our branch in Ankara consists of 15 members. Regular attendance in the branch each Sunday is about 8-10. We have an American family in the branch with two cute girls. We have another American who is here also for a short time. The only family we have who is here on a long time basis is the Kilickaya family who are Turkish. Mehmet Kilickaya was the first Turkish member of the church. He was baptized in Denmark. His wife later joined the church and became the first Turkish person to be baptized by the hands of a Turkish priesthood holder (her husband Mehmet) in Turkey. They are an amazing couple with remarkable conversion stories.
We have had our share of trouble in the Ankara branch. We had a hard time finding a meeting place since it is not legal to meet as a church group in houses. We used to meet in our branch president’s house, but after receiving threats we were forced to find a different meeting place. For now, we meet at the American army base in Ankara, which is not really a perfect place because to enter the base a person needs to obtain permission. So, when a friend of mine says, “I want to come with you to church,” I have to apologize and say: “Sorry I have to get you a permit first.”
On BYU, Guy Fawkes, and Bloggersnacking
|I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Utah. I was there to give a faculty lecture at the BYU religion department (speaking about my FARMS-funded ancient beekeeping project). For this mission-field blogger, it was also fun to schmooze with some of the bloggernacle elite.|
First up, FPR's John C., an old mate from Johns Hopkins. John C. is a wonderful human being and funny to boot. I stayed with John and his wife in Orem. Much to my delight they had planned a Guy Fawkes bonfire in their yard, complete with an effigy of old Guy, that dastardly continental Catholic who tried to blow up Parliament 400 years ago today.
At BYU, I ran into Frank McIntyre in his nasty, pre-fab office. During the lulls in our conversation about socialized medicine, Frank told me of the joys of tracing IP's.
The Great and Spacious SLC Bloggersnacker was at the Fowles' home. Alli is the best and most patient host ever: she supplied the cheese and the pumpkin soup and raised nary an eyebrow over our bannergate gossipping. Bob Caswell (who designs his anti-BYU posts around his wife's experiences there, it seems) told us that he wasn't that liberal. The Fowles brothers, J-Max and the ever cheerful John Dehlin debated (nay, argued) over the virtue of ad-hominem attacks and whether Sunstone was evil. It was decided in the end that Steve Evans was indeed evil, and that he should stop paying all these people to comment on how much they love him. Ryan Bell, on the other hand, is not evil, even though he admitted that he hates law and only practices it because he wants to get rich.
The other consensus: bloggernacle denizens are not normal Mormons.
Oh, and John F. claims he was taught about Joseph's peepstone in CTR class.
Latter-day Saint Liberation Front
|Latter-day Saint Liberation Front has joined the "Founding Islands" of the Mormon Archipelago. We have it on good authority that Roasted Tomatoes and Serenity Valley are real people. We think their names may be fake, though.|
Get yer Mormon Archipelago T-shirts
|Everyone needs a Mormon T-shirt, but Moroni-Nike swooshes are so lame, don't ya think? Enter the Mormon Archipelago into this gaping breach. We are now selling T-shirts via Zazzle. Thanks to Rusty for the graphics and Mark for two of the slogans. The $3.57 that we make will go into the Great Mormon Archipelago Webspace Fund (aka J.'s wallet) and for buying stamps so we can send out junk-mail advertising for the Archipelago journal.|
And in case you were wondering: Mormon Archipelago equals the entire www.ldsblogs.org community. Wear your Bloggernacle T-shirt with pride (or loathing, if you're the Snarker).
Hurry: Zazzle is offering free shipping through October 30 (ZAZZLEFS1005 at checkout).
(Next: MA bling.)
Grandpa Smith and the Witches (Archive)
|It's always been a slight puzzlement that a religion that has an aversion to playing with face cards (occultic?) celebrates Halloween (also occultic?) with abandon. I'm glad, though, because I get to dress my son as Yoda today without guilt.|
Anyway, here's my Halloween post.
In the famous Salem witch trials of 1692, Joseph Smith's great-great-grandfather Samuel Smith and Samuel's father-in-law John Gould testified against Mary Easty and Sarah Wilds. Both women were executed. Here are the court records:
The deposistion of Samuell Smith of Boxford about 25 yers who testifieth and saith that about five years sence I was one night att the house of Isaac Estick sen'r. of Topsfeild...and as I was agoeing whom that night about a quarter of a mille from the said Esticks house by a stone wall I Received a little blow on my shoulder with I know not what and the stone wall rattleed very much which affrighted me my horse also was affrighted very much but I cannot give the reson of it.Rather flimsy testimony I would say, at least for "witchcraft".
The Depotion of John Gould aged about 56 yeares or theire about Testifeth and saith that some time sence...sister Mary Redington tould mee as she was Coming from Salam With her Brother Redington that GoodWife Wilds did strive two or three times to pul her doune of her horse one time she did strive to pul her doune in a brooke but she did set her selfe with all her strenke she Could and did git out of the brook and soone after she was got out of the brooke she said that GoodWife Wilds did pul her doune bakwords of her horse and held her doune so as she Could not helpe her selfe tell her Brother Redington and Sarg't Edmon Townes did Come and helper...
Anyway, it's ironic that Joseph's detractors often accuse him of dabbling in the occult. Whilst stories of seer stones and "peeping" are accepted by informed Mormons today (for example, Rough Stone Rolling pp. 48-52), rebuttals of some of the more lurid claims can be found at www.fair-lds.org. Search under "magic". But folk religion seems to have existed alongside Christianity among the poor of the American frontier, and I think some of this rather benign superstition still lingers in modern Mormonism. Urban legends about protective garments would be one example.
Anyway, further reading on Mormon "magic" this Halloween would include:
- Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series (based loosely on the Joseph Smith story) celebrates the magic "knacks" of Alvin's family.
- John L. Brooke, Refiner's Fire - the making of Mormon cosmology (read FARMS review for LDS apologetic response).
- D. Michael Quinn - Early Mormonism and the magic world view (also read FARMS review)
Sahar: My life as a Palestinian Mormon
When I joined the Church and returned back home to Palestine I was scared of how I would be welcomed. My family, although not religious, were totally against me joining the Church. In my town those who leave the faith (or the family church) and join another “unknown” church are cast out. For example, no-one in my town even speaks to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, no one in my town knew a thing about the Mormon faith, but to them it was still wrong.
My family tried their best to convince me to leave the Church. My mother would say bad things about the Church and tell me how “stupid” I was to believe in something so wrong and so unreal. When she saw me read my scriptures every day she said she would burn them so I couldn't read them anymore. When I would go to church on Saturday (our branch in Jerusalem met on Saturday) my parents would not speak to me the whole day. Going to church was not easy because Palestinians are hardly ever allowed into Jerusalem. It always involved danger of some sort because sneaking in could have gotten me either shot or arrested. But, I always came out OK. Nothing ever happened to me although I have had some really close calls of being shot at or chased. Sometimes I made it to Jerusalem when all the rest of the Palestinians were not able to. I felt the Lord's hands carry me most of the times.
Gradually, everyone adjusted to me being Mormon. (I can’t say everyone because my mother still has problems with it.) Tea and coffee are offered almost at any house you visit. I had to decline many time and received strange looks, but my friends soon came to understand and started making herbal tea just for me. I can’t say being a Palestinian Mormon is hard: being a Palestinian is hard! But being a Palestinian Mormon is great, I think. I see things so clearly and I am able to find happiness no matter what my situation may be. The only disadvantage is that you see the path to happiness so clearly yet you have to stand and watch the people of your country stumble in a path that is going the opposite direction.