Reasonable Faith

By April 13, 2010

My grandmother is on my mind. Friday she had surgery to remove a tumor on her colon. It turns out that the growth was close to a large vein. Because the tumor blocked the flow of blood through the vein, a network of little veins bloomed around it to compensate, making the tumor inoperable.

My grandmother loves Sir Francis Bacon–?Some of his philosophies . . . rang such a bell.? My mother tells this fact about her mother with pride and reverence, and this bit of information has shaped how I view my grandmother and myself as her granddaughter.

Long before she joined the church, my grandmother swore to herself that she would never smoke. She went to college when she was just sixteen and became a teacher. When she was a young mother living in Midland, Texas, during the fifties, her neighbors warned her not to let the Mormon missionaries in her house. Two young men came by on a hot summer day, and she invited them inside.

My grandmother took the discussions and believed. But she did not feel she could be baptized. She learned that not all men could hold the priesthood, and she found that unconscionable. One night while she was praying she had an experience that has become part of my family?s sacred history. She believed and was baptized.

My grandmother, who reads the words of the father of empiricism, has faith that has sustained generations. For her, faith and reason coexist. And now she pushes me to the boundaries of reason into faithful territory, a place where God beckons beyond death.

Article filed under Intellectual History Methodology, Academic Issues Reflective Posts


  1. Thank you for sharing this and making my day better. May peace be with your grandmother, you, and your family at this time.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — April 13, 2010 @ 6:37 am

  2. Beautiful, Liz.

    Comment by Ben — April 13, 2010 @ 7:15 am

  3. Bless your heart.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 13, 2010 @ 8:00 am

  4. Thanks, Liz; to me these are moving reflections.

    Comment by Ryan T. — April 13, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

    Comment by Aaron R. — April 13, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  6. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — April 13, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  7. Our grandparents are treasures. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by kevinf — April 13, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  8. Thank you.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 13, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  9. Thank you, Liz. You have more reason than ever before to watch your grandmother and learn from her. Best wishes.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 13, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  10. Thank you all for your kind words. I appreciate them very much.

    Comment by Elizabeth — April 13, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  11. Thank you, Liz. God bless.

    Comment by Jared T. — April 14, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  12. A beautiful tribute to your grandmother. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by David Howlett — April 14, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

  13. Thanks for this, Liz.

    Comment by Christopher — April 14, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

  14. Beautiful. Bless you during this difficult and poignant time.

    Comment by m&m — April 16, 2010 @ 4:49 am

  15. A beautiful post, Elizabeth, and beautifully expressed. You are obviously a worthy heritor of your grandmother’s gift for clear and rigorous thinking.

    Blessings to you both, and to your entire family. And thanks for enriching me.

    Comment by SLK in SF — April 18, 2010 @ 10:04 am


Recent Comments

Jason K. on Review: Bergera, ed., CONFESSIONS: “Thanks for this great review. Three cheers for Mormon liberal Protestants!”

Kevin Barney on Review: Bergera, ed., CONFESSIONS: “Thanks for this excellent review, Matt.”

Wally on Review: Bergera, ed., CONFESSIONS: “Thanks, Matt. Interesting view into the life and diaries of a fascinating man who was probably thirty years before his time.”

J Stuart on Review: Bergera, ed., CONFESSIONS: “Thanks for this, Matt. From the first time I've read *Adventures of a Church Historian* I've wondered how Arrington could be so oblivious to church…”

Jeff T on Review: Bergera, ed., CONFESSIONS: “I love the nuance of Arrington, here, and the diaries seem like a great way to understand Mormonism forty years ago. Thanks, Matt!”

Ben S on Food Solves Everything (Or: “As a n00b attending his first MHA, the OP and comments are appreciated!”