This past weekend I attended the "Circling the Wagons" conference in Salt Lake, sponsored by Mormon Stories. It's gotten quite a bit of coverage in the local Utah media as well as some national media attention: Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Religion Dispatches, Towleroad, and Huffington Post. John Dehlin posted the talk given by Kevin Kloosterman, a current bishop who flew in from Illinois for the conference on his own dime, on the Mormon Stories site. There was some concern that his remarks were misrepresented in the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above. I wasn't there for those remarks, but I was present when he bore his testimony at the meeting on Saturday. I found him to be very sweet and engaging. He was incredibly brave to do what he did.
I really enjoyed Carol Lynn Pearson's talk. She does a terrific job of inspiring and also not being proscriptive about what is the correct path to follow. She talked about Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey and compared it to the journey of the gay Mormon. This youtube clip does a pretty good job of explaining the Hero's Journey. I thought it was incredibly wise of her to tap into a big metaphor that allows itself to be accessible to a broad audience.
One of the great things about conferences like these is seeing people you don't get to see often enough, meeting people you've been getting to know online and meeting new people altogether. I got to meet a long lost cousin this weekend. He contacted me after reading this post about my namesake. We both are descendents of my great great grandfather, who I am named after. We descend from different wives though. Anyway, it was a great surprise to meet him this weekend.
I also ate some great food while I was there. If you live in SLC and haven't eaten at Mazza, go there right now. I also ate at Aristo's for the first time for my friend Dan's birthday on Friday and it was also delicious.