Zelophehad’s Daughters

Comparative Polygamy

Posted by Galdralag

I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Cairo when a man came up to me. He commented on what I was wearing, suggesting that I wear red more often. I was used to this. Egyptian culture, unlike the culture that I grew up in, encourages men to have opinions about things like […]

On Faith Transitions and Rejecting the Binary

Posted by Galdralag

Ever since the new essays dealing with more complex bits of Mormon history appeared on lds.org, almost daily I encounter facebook statuses and posts in private groups of people reeling, overwhelmed and disoriented, unsure of what to do. These are good people, people who have devoted their lives and their talents and their faith to […]

For Kate

Posted by Galdralag

“Excommunication in our church is akin to spiritual death. The life-saving ordinances you have participated in like baptism, confirmation, and temple sealing are moot.  In effect, you are being forcibly evicted from your forever family. Given the gravity of the situation, I feel like being invited to a council of this sort is akin to […]

Where is the Female Sacred Space?

Posted by Galdralag

Two months ago I had a once in a lifetime experience: I was invited to an Emirati wedding. In a vast, glittering ballroom, chandeliers festooned and arches bedecked with streaming garlands of real flowers, I sat with nearly six hundred Emirati women eating an eight-course gourmet meal, waited on by servants robed in white with […]

The Problem of Women and Church Courts

Posted by Galdralag

CW: discussion of violence and sexual assault Midway through my mission, I was transferred into an area and took over teaching the new member discussions to a recent convert, a young single mother with one child. The father of her baby was an immigrant who had married a local in order to get citizenship; he […]

Five Percenters and Mormons? Dissonance, Embodiment, and Faith

Posted by Galdralag

Towards the end of my mission, I was assigned a companion who was of mixed-race heritage (her father was African American, her mother white). (I am of stereotypical Mormon pioneer stock, a mix of the UK, Scandinavia, and a couple of Cherokees from over a century back. I looked remarkably white, and remarkably American, in […]

On Love

Posted by Galdralag

When asked which was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded: … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two […]

The Word of Wisdom as a Cultural Marker

Posted by Galdralag

Anthropologists have long scratched their heads at the organizational logic underpinning kashrut, the rules and regulations surrounding the proscription, prescription, and preparation of foods in Judaism, also called “kosher laws.” Why are only animals that both chew cud and have cloven hooves permissible? Why only fish that have both scales and fins, thereby eliminating species […]

On Judging

Posted by Galdralag

I first heard this story during my Jewish Studies coursework. I keep poking around trying to find the original since more than ten years have passed since that first hearing, but I have been unsuccessful. So here is the story, reconstructed from class notes and filtered through a decade of forgetfulness: Once, shortly after the […]

On Questioning

Posted by Galdralag

In Rabbinic tradition, Noah is considered the lesser – if not the least – of the Patriarchs. Unlike fathers Abraham and Jacob, Noah did not argue with God. When faced with God’s declaration of the impending destruction of all life through the Flood, Noah was obedient and preached to the people, warning them of the […]

Top Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for My Mission: 5

Posted by Galdralag

You can find the earlier posts in this series here, here, here, and here. 5) The Elders I have no younger brothers. On my mission I came to feel a sense of siblingdom with a lot of the Elders in my different zones and districts – a feeling of occasional exasperation mixed with tenderness and […]

Top Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for My Mission: 4

Posted by Galdralag

You can find the earlier posts in this series here, here, and here. 4) Class Awareness I served with one native-speaking companion, a fiery, fascinating woman from Nicaragua. Not only was she a native speaker, but she was also an exceptionally educated person. Often when we were out talking with people in the streets they […]

Top Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for My Mission: 3

Posted by Galdralag

You can find the earlier posts in this series here and here. 3) The Interviews Every six weeks on my mission, the missionaries would have a one-on-one interview with the Mission President. Interviews were one of the only times that companionships were separated. These interviews were not particularly long – they would typically last anywhere […]

Top Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for My Mission: 2

Posted by Galdralag

You can find the earlier post in this series here. 2) The Mother’s Day Lesson My last companion was relatively new to her mission. The child of a recently widowed mother with several teenagers at home, one of her biggest worries as a missionary was that her mom would need her back home and she […]

Top Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for my Mission: 1

Posted by Galdralag

 This is the first post in a series on reasons I’m grateful for my mission. 1) The Stories As a missionary, I often felt like I was playing the part of an extra in the movies of other people’s lives. I felt I was mostly there to watch and listen; to hear their stories. Yet, […]

And the Evening and the Morning

Posted by Galdralag

I was in an anthropology class, studying Jewish ritual observances of the Sabbath, when the instructor asked a simple question: Why does the Jewish Sabbath begin at sunset instead of sunrise? It caught me up short. I had no idea. It’s from Genesis, he explained, from the creation narrative. Look at the wording of the […]

If You Only Understood!

Posted by Galdralag

A few years ago, a friend of mine from Israel came to church with me. He was curious about Mormonism, and he happened to come on – you guessed it – a Fast Sunday. I prepared him ahead of time for the likelihood of congregants offering unusual personal stories from the pulpit, thinking that by […]

Questions From and For Our Readers: Feminism and Serving a Mission

Posted by Galdralag

A few days ago one of our readers, a 20-year-old college student and feminist who is considering serving a mission, sent in some questions about feminism and missionary service. With her permission I’m posting them here for you, our excellent readers, to weigh in on: Did you know you were feminist/ have feminist beliefs before […]

Wait … What Does that Mean?

Posted by Galdralag

The recent upset over YW General President Elaine Dalton’s BYU devotional address on January 15 (see Lynnette’s piece here, fMh here and here, and an interesting letter at Young Mormon Feminists here) centers upon a specific comment directed to LDS young women: “You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life […]

“What is God really like?”

Posted by Galdralag

When Beatrice and I were serving together as missionaries, we were lucky enough to be in a district that included the mission offices.  The APs and office Elders were in our district, so more often than not we held district meetings in a cozy conference room in the main mission office building, giving us frequent […]