I don't know how I lucked out on this one but . . . we were able to have Terryl Givens in our Green Room on Saturday night.
Terryl Givens is a Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond and is widely published in Mormon Studies. He is a dear friend of my neighbor's Vicki Jennings and because he was coming to give the keynote address at the Mormon Media Studies Symposium at BYU, we asked him to come give us a small, private fireside. He is a passionate speaker and fierce intellectual and had the whole room completely enraptured by his presented thought process.
As my brother Jesse said, "I understood about every third word."
But it was exhilarating in trying.
Recently I have felt part of myself dying, the part that loves to seek for knowledge, participate in debate and hunger for more. Being in the presence of a man who has dedicated his life to religious luminosity inspired me to resurrect my lifeless learning patterns. Sitting in that room on Saturday reminded me that nothing makes me feel more alive, full of blood and spirit, than intelligence.
I've listen to too many critics of mine for too long. I've let their blatant pronouncement of my stupidity become my reality. I've misjudged my own thoughts on being a Mormon because I was too scared to misrepresent. But the truth settled into my spirit on Saturday night: I am on a journey for truth and it's as relevant as the next person's journey and I desperately need to stop being embarrassed of mine. "Is it possible to write objectively about your own religion?" someone asked Terryl that night, "No," he replied, "but it is possible to write with honesty."
Then Page whispered to me, "Honesty is the best gift we can give."
And I have been so afraid to give it. It's the best gift we can give but it's the one that makes us most vulnerable, susceptible to interior interrogation and emotionally naked. It's terrifying to be honest sometimes. Terrifying. Because my honesty is not always streamlined--it isn't complacent. It's always changing and evolving and making me look flaky. My honesty doesn't stay still.
But, the less forthright I am the less light I've got in my brain. I become dim and dumb. And along with that loss of light comes with a baptism of reject. I reject my intuition, my ability to write, feel attractive and be compassionate. And (oh golly) the less honest I am the more bitter I've become. Sour to the touch.
So here's to a good start: my views of being a disciple of Christ sometimes radically differ from others even in my own church, but they came to me from a source of peace. And deep down I am proud of them. And it's time to pull them out and let them shine.
Thanks Terryl for coming. It was a remarkable evening.
Read Terryl's essays here.
Can you Bijou?
I am Courtney Kendrick and I am trying to own what I own.
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