May 17

The Pope Gives Ordain Women a Shot in the Arm

Pope Francis said a few days ago that he will organize a commission to look into having women serve as deacons in the Catholic Church. Now of course he wasn’t guaranteeing that he would end up taking any action, and deacons aren’t priests, and Catholics aren’t Mormons. But I still wonder if even this signal of people considering a possible change in another church might not bode well for the cause of Ordain Women.

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Oct 09

The Correlated Story of Zelophehad’s Daughters

It has come to the attention of the Church Correlation Department that many of the stories told in the Bible have not passed Correlation review prior to being included in the scriptural canon. Rather than go through a lengthy and complex process of decanonization, the Correlation Department has undertaken to simply rewrite the unreviewed stories to smooth off the rough edges. The resulting stories will preserve the gospel truths present in the original, but will remove the false philosophies of men that have been inserted by evil and conspiring scribes.

Our first rewritten scripture story comes from Numbers 27.

Then came the daughters of Zelophehad to petition Moses. For their father died in the wilderness, and had no sons. They desired that Moses bring their cause before the Lord, that perhaps the inheritance of their father might pass unto them. And these are the names of the daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

But Nadab spake unto them, saying, Surely Moses shall not consider such a small matter. And he turned them away.

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Sep 01

We don’t need no stinkin’ dictionary!

This is an exchange between Jane Little and Michael Otterson in Little’s BBC piece “Sister Saints – Women and the Mormons” (starting at about 11:20; also see the accompanying article here):

JL: Just to deal with Kate Kelly, just to clarify, was she excommunicated for apostasy?

MO: The letter that went out, that they actually published on their website, briefly, at least they released it to the media, indicated that the reason why that disciplinary action was taken was for apostasy. I’m not sure it actually used the word, but apostasy is seen as repeated and deliberate advocating to doctrines contrary to the Church, especially encouraging other people to take the same position.

JL: So you would say she is an apostate, under that definition?

MO: Yeah.

JL: The dictionary definition says it’s renouncing your faith, which is somewhat different.

MO: Well, I don’t think I[‘m] particularly obligated to worry about what it says in Oxford or Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Our definition of apostasy is repeated open advocacy of doctrines contrary to the Church.

It’s not surprising that Otterson would want to use an unconventional definition of apostasy. It allows him to use a more serious-sounding word than “insufficient submissiveness in the face of leaders’ demands” in explaining why Kate Kelly had to be kicked out. I realize, of course, that he was taking his definition from the Handbook, but that just means it’s the Church leaders who wrote or commissioned the Handbook who are making up a new definition to allow them to borrow strength from an existing weighty word.

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Aug 20

Insider/outsider language in President Hinckley’s "there’s no agitation" statement

In a 1997 interview with Australian reporter David Ransom, President Hinckley said that there was “no agitation” for women to receive the priesthood. Ordain Women cites this comment in their FAQ as a motivation for agitating for ordination. (Dane Laverty also earlier cited this comment as his rationale for his similar project, Agitating Faithfully.)

I’ve seen some argument in the Bloggernacle about what President Hinckley meant when he said this. OW’s FAQ calls it a “challenge” to agitate. Opponents of OW have responded that of course he didn’t mean that he wanted people to agitate for ending the female priesthood ban. He was just pointing out a simple fact: nobody was agitating.

I think a useful way to think about this argument is to consider President Hinckley’s comment in the framework of insider language versus outsider language. Continue reading

Jul 14

Approaching Zion

In my latest post I shared my words from my ward’s latest fast and testimony meeting. It was intensely personal to me; I sniffled through some of it, something I almost never do despite my good Mormon upbringing. Even so, I posted my testimony because I wanted to give encouragement to those members who, for various reasons, love the Church in spite of the sometimes painfully large, angry-red, pus-filled warts that they see. I wanted to provide support to Mormons who desire to be themselves at church, in a church where being yourself can make you undesirable if your beliefs are not mainstream.

In the past I have avoided sharing some of my concerns about the Church with my TBM friends. If the Church is working well for them I do not want to give them difficulty. If they are deriving strength and hope from our community and its teachings, if they are comforted by the certainty of belonging to the One True Church and are learning to know God and love their neighbors by participating in it, I do not want to rain on their parade. Continue reading

Jul 10

Taking Ally Isom at Her Word

On Sunday I decided to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting and talk about my involvement with Ordain Women. I’ve transcribed below approximately what I said. In case you were wondering, in my opinion it was only the third strangest testimony of the meeting. Yay for Mormon weirdness!

Next post I’ll share the response so far from my local leaders and fellow ward members. I think you’ll find it to be generally good news.

This past year I taught Book of Mormon in seminary and I absolutely loved it. I loved the kids, even when they were half-asleep or all-the-way asleep, or even when my son was making smart remarks. What I especially loved, though, was the opportunity to help the kids develop a personal relationship with God.

I love the Book of Mormon and am deeply moved by many of its teachings. One of my favorites is when Nephi teaches us that all are alike unto God. Over the years this scripture and other Church teachings have led me along a path of life that may be different from yours, and that is what I’d like to talk about even though it is hard for me. I feel very vulnerable baring my soul like this so I hope you’ll bear with me. Continue reading

Jun 25

When will the female priesthood ban end?

Monday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I was actually surprised at how badly I took the news of Kate Kelly’s excommunication. When I heard about it, I just felt sick, and even my usual coping strategy of information-seeking didn’t work very well. Every Facebook post and news story I read just made me feel sicker and want to cry more. I had expected beforehand that excommunication would be the outcome. Or at least I told myself that I was expecting it. Given how difficult hearing the actual news was for me, though, I guess I had been holding out more hope than I realized that the outcome would be something else–anything else.

But that was Monday. Today, I’m trying to think about the future, specifically, the future of the LDS female priesthood ban. I really believe that it will one day be lifted. I just have no idea when. But because I find it soothing to crunch numbers and speculate, I’ve gone ahead and done that in this post. I realize, though, that this is little more than guessing.

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Jun 23

For Kate

“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 being invited to my own funeral.  Reading stories like this one in the New York Times are like reading my own obituary.” – Kate Kelly

 

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise women at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. Continue reading

Jun 21

The More Things Change…

Discovered recently in the sealed portion of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Members: We have found an apostate! Excommunicate her!
Member 1: We have found an apostate, may we excommunicate her?
(cheers)
PA Department: How do you know she is an apostate?
Member 2: She looks like one!
PA Department: Bring her forward
Kate Kelly: I’m not an apostate!
PA Department: ehh… but you are dressed like one.
Kate Kelly: They dressed me up like this!
All: naah no we didn’t… no.
Kate Kelly: And this isn’t my nose, it’s a false one.
(PA Department lifts up carrot)
PA Department: Well?
Member 1: Well, we did do the nose
PA Department: The nose?
Member 1: …And the glasses, but she is an apostate!
(all: yeah, excommunicate her!)
PA Department: Did you dress her up like this?
Member 1: No! Yes. Yes, yeah, a bit. But she has got an Ordain Women necklace!
(Member 3 points at necklace)
PA Department: What makes you think she is an apostate?
Member 2: Well, she turned me into a feminist!
PA Department: A feminist?!
(Member 2 pauses and looks around)
Member 2: I got better.
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Jun 20

Nine Ways OW Could Have Actually Protested at Conference

Since the news broke that Kate Kelly is facing Church discipline, I’ve seen a number of people argue that she must have known she had it coming after she organized those public protests at Conference. I know this has been argued before, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the Ordain Women actions at the last two Conferences don’t qualify as protests by any reasonable stretch of the term. A protest is about opposing something. The OW actions were about asking for inclusion in something. They’re actually complete opposites to protests in terms of their starting assumptions: you protest things you think are bad; you ask to be included in things you think are good. OW was affirming the goodness of priesthood session, just like they’ve affirming the authority of the Quorum of 15 by asking them to ask God about ending the female priesthood ban.

I can see how people decide that the OW actions were protests, though. The problem, I think, is that we belong to a church that emphasizes obedience, conformity, and deference to authority so much. I mean, you can get people to look at you like you’re an alien by simply voting “opposed” on someone’s calling in sacrament meeting. You can get people to gasp in Sunday School (or elders quorum, or, I’m guessing, in Relief Society) by merely starting a comment with “I disagree.” It’s understandable, in a culture such as this, for an action even as mild and respectful as OW’s to make people deeply uncomfortable. I’m not surprised, then, that they reach for an inappropriately harsh word to try to describe it.

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