Archive for November, 2011

Cranberry sauce from a can

Mom’s cranberry sauce was a thing of beauty, concocted of fresh berries, sugar, spices and orange zest; slow-simmered on a back burner while she attended to the rest of the feast, and brought to the table in a pressed-glass bowl handed down from her x-great-grandmother. Made with love and pride, it was to me emblematic of her skill as a cook and, writ larger, of a kind of happiness and warmth which, in youthful innocence, I thought unique to my family’s holiday celebrations. Cranberry sauce from a can was for people who just didn’t care enough.



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While mining 19th-century journals and memoirs in pursuit of family history I dug up the following nugget; it has no direct* connection to my ancestors, but I found it entertaining enough to share.

The writer (other portions of whose diary mention various members of my family tree) was at the time employed in the building of the Lion House, one of Brigham Young’s homes in Salt Lake City.

I commenced the work with two men to help me I went into the carpenters shop according to directions from Brigham I soon found that thare was a feeling of jealousy creeping in for Miles Romney the foreman of the shop came in. He had been having some whiskey and he came up to me and said who sent you here to be a boss I told him I was not his boss nor it was not my duty to interfere with his business, he said you need not say that for it was a plan laid to work him out of the shop. I assured him it was not the case but he did not seem inclined to believe it. He said if I would bring on the liquor and treat he then might think I was telling the truth this was not the first time I had felt his spirit.

~ Phineas W. Cook’s diary, 1854


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Circling the Wagons

Last weekend in Salt Lake City there occurred a three-day event: Circling the Wagons – a conference for LGBTQ Mormons and their friends, families and allies. The title, “Circling the Wagons,” comes from my friend Carol Lynn Pearson’s book No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones.

Written from Mormon territory to a general audience, No More Goodbyes is a call to lovingly include in our families and our congregations our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It dramatically shows the unfortunate goodbyes we continue to say because of homosexuality: to suicide, to ill-fated marriages and to family alienation. It also tells numerous inspiring stories of families and friends refusing to let anything come between them and their gay loved ones.

Carol Lynn (whom I’ve written about before) was the conference’s keynote speaker, but my purpose here is to share another address: that of Kevin Kloosterman, a Mormon bishop from Illinois who felt impelled to participate in the conference and traveled to Salt Lake at his own expense to do so. In an interview he gave to Joanna Brooks at Religion Dispatches, Bishop Kloosterman had this to say:

Trying to convey the pain I’ve felt realizing what gay and lesbian people have gone through, I quoted a scripture in Zechariah [Zechariah 13:6] where someone—who Mormons interpret as Christ—comes and shows wounds, and he says, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” I used that imagery to characterize the scars of gay and lesbian people. I know it’s strong imagery. I just feel really mournful about what they have been through. All of these realizations are very new to me, and it’s still quite raw. I was trying to convey that I’ve felt a small sliver of what gay and lesbian people have gone through, and I’ve found strength and peace in the Savior.

A transcript of Bishop Kloosterman’s remarks can be found here, but I recommend watching the video (below) if possible.


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