Wednesday, January 07, 2009

harvard student speaks about her mormon faith

Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose - 3. Rachel Esplin from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.

I found this on Athena's blog. Athena has been helping her daughter research colleges and came across this video of a Latter-day Saint Harvard student talking about her faith. I'm not sure how long it runs [Edit: I see now that it's about 20 minutes], but it is well worth the time if you have a few minutes. This is one bright, articulate, open-minded young lady who answers the interviewer's probing questions (a few made me cringe) with considerable grace and aplomb. She does not shrink from these questions, but welcomes and even embraces them! I especially like how she answers the question about what she doesn't believe is true in her faith. Very well done.

While watching this, it occurred to me that early morning seminary is well-worth the sacrifice. Thousands of high school students of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints get up at dawn (or two hours before sunrise here in the north!) for a before-school seminary class every day of the school year. For four years. I've heard it said that this is how we "brainwash" our children. If this young lady could be called the result of brainwashing, then yes, that is exactly what we do. [Edit: This Harvard student is obviously someone who has given much examination to her beliefs. This is what all members of our church are called to do--to develop our OWN testimonies through study, meditation, and prayer. I meant to say that the accusation of "brainwashing" is without merit.]

Though the girl in this video could be called exceptional, I wouldn't say she is especially so among the youth of our church. I've known many who are, if not yet quite this thoughtful and well-spoken about their faith, well on the way there.


Anonymous said...

That is so funny. I posted on this today too!

Meg said...

I guess seminary does pay. ;)

To me, the interviewer's body language was disinterested and her tone was patronizing.

(And what is the fascination with garments? Those aren't unique to Mormons. I wondered about this when they asked Mitt Romney about his - I mean, how many other candidates were asked, "Hanes or Fruit of the Loom? Do you wear an undershirt as well?")

As to the young woman, she did a great job. Articulate and graceful-especially for 20!

As a side note, what does one do with advanced degrees in religion? I'm not being sarcastic...I'm truly wondering.

Calandria said...

I had to laugh when the interviewer asked the girl if she was "practicing," as if that would be the exception rather than the rule! As the interviewer says she has read books (plural!) by ex-Mormons and seemingly none by faithful members, I suppose it might seem strange to her that some of us actually still believe in our faith given her limited knowlege and narrow view.

I would love to get an advanced degree in religion. With that degree I would research, write, and teach.

Anonymous said...

Go for it!

Dina said...

That was a great interview--I passed it on to my friends and family. (In case you start getting lots of new hits on your blog!)

ML said...

Okay--I too am sending a link to this interview to all 22 of my current Seminary students, some of my former students, and various friends, so brace yourself!

ML said...

I meant I am sending a link to this post because you added some valuable comments.

Anonymous said...

So many religions have dress norms and codes, I don't get the garment thing either. What's the big deal?
Actually, what's the big deal about any of it. In a democracy your suppose to be able to choose?!? The whole discussion perplexes me.

Mama Ava said...

Brainwashing? That's a strong it mandatory to be a good upstanding member?

There's a lot I don't agree about with LDS theology...but there's no doubt that the approaches the church takes with helping its members live and practice their faith is effective. Wouldn't we all be better off if we could understand our faith and articulate in a such a quietly confident way?

Meg, people with advanced degrees in religion often do it for personal fulfillment. Often they end up teaching and writing. The people I know who have those degrees haven't pursued it as much from a faith perspective as from an intellectual pursuit.

Calandria said...

Mama Ava, I meant that some people accuse us (as well as other Christians) of "brainwashing" our children. This Harvard student is obviously such an independent thinker, it makes the accusation laughable.

Maybe I should delete those sentences from my post if it is unclear.

Mama Ava said...

No, I was echoing the ridiculous-ness of the term "brainwashing."

What I meant was that I didn't know if it (seminary) is mandatory, but wouldn't we all be better off if we had that kind of training in our faith--the historical and spiritual components? As a Lutheran, we do 2 years of confirmatin in our Lutheran faith and beliefs--1 time a week for a couple hours. I will admit to knowing very little about a lot of aspects of my faith.

Calandria said...

Oh, I get it. Sorry--I seem to be so good at misunderstanding other people's words as well as bungling my own.

It's not mandatory, but most active LDS kids choose to do it. Georgie is really looking forward to starting next year.

Calandria said...

One additional clarification about seminary: Many high school students in areas of high Mormon population have the opportunity to do "release-time" seminary. They don't have to go before school, but have seminary class built into their high school schedule. The students go to a seminary building near their school for class. Also, (correct me if I'm wrong here, western Mormons) the teachers for release-time seminary are hired as full-time teachers, while here, for example, someone is called/assigned to teach. ML is a seminary teacher and has been for years. My mom taught seminary for many years--wasn't it 10 years, Mom? J has taught seminary. It's a lot of work.

Anonymous said...

About the garments: people are curious about things they don't understand. We all are for the most part. People know that Mormons do not view garments the same as regular underwear, but they can't understand why and they are curious about that. It's easy to understand how they feel. Why do muslim women dress the way they do? Why do Jewish men wear the hats? People don't understand it and they want to.

I LOVED seminary and I'm really glad I attended all four years. It taught me so much about what the doctrine of the Church entails and to question what I personally believed. It was great!

Anonymous said...

Actually, it was 12 years and I wish that every commited member had the opportunity to teach a 4 year cycle.

taylor said...

I loved this clip. It was inspirational. My favorite part of it though, was in those last 2 seconds when the camera pans out and the guy in the hat sitting on the other side of the interviewer pumps his arm in a "job well done!" I think it is important those of different faiths are respectful and open to the believes of those around him. That quick moment illustrated that to me. I hope to be that supportive as well.