I spent many hours today listening to General Conference. As is usual for me, I was especially touched by President Uchtdorf’s talks. A couple of his comments, combined with events in Salt Lake City tonight, coalesced to form the thoughts in this post.
As anyone who reads Mormon blogs, or Mormon-related news of any sort, is no doubt aware, many women (and some men) came together in Salt Lake City tonight and asked to be admitted into the Priesthood session of General Conference. The group that organized the action is called Ordain Women, and their whole purpose is to call upon the leadership of the LDS Church to ordain women to the Priesthood alongside men. Many of these women have great faith that this is something that will happen, even though it hasn’t yet.
I once shared that faith. Read more…
Matthew 5:28-30 for our times:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if her right thigh offend thee, police her hemlines and cast her from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of your sisters should kneel down to check her skirt length before entering a stake dance, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if her right shoulder offend thee, teach her from age four to cover herself: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy sisters should spend her life uncomfortably conscious of her potential for becoming walking pornography, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
I support Ordain Women and the call for Church leaders to ask God for new revelation on women receiving the Priesthood. I am impressed by the many women and men who eloquently express their pain and their faith through blog posts and Facebook comments, hoping and praying for change in the Church they love. I admire their courage as they make themselves vulnerable by putting their bodies in line, and politely asking to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference. I am saddened that such direct actions seem to be the only way to enter meaningful dialogue with General Authorities. And frequently I am discouraged by the reactions to Ordain Women from some of my brothers and sisters, fellow members of the body of Christ, fellow Mormons.
“You are prideful. Why don’t you just follow the Prophet? Why don’t you use proper channels? If you don’t like the Church the way it is, why do you stay? You should just leave and find another church.”
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 commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40, KJV)
“Law” and “prophets” are specific references in this context: the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament is called the Tanakh in Jewish tradition, an acronym for Torah (roughly “teaching” or “law”), Nevi’im (“prophets”), and K’tuvim (“writings”). The Torah is the first five books of Moses or Pentateuch; the Nevi’im the books that were eventually named after the prophets who (according to tradition) wrote them (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Haggai); and the K’tuvim are the Chronicles and poetic works like the Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. Although the Old Testament as we know it today wasn’t compiled until after the time of Christ – many scholars date the redaction and final closure of the OT canon to the first or second century after Jesus – the Torah and the Nevi’im, the law and the prophets, were pretty well established by Jesus’ time. He was saying, then, that the entirety of the Old Testament as he knew it – the sum of religion – lies in these two simple dicta: love God, and love each other.
And he was citing scripture as he said it. The injunction to love God is in the text of the ten commandments, and the requirement to love each other is repeated in various iterations in Leviticus: Read more…
In a dramatic move viewed by many observers as a step towards hastening the Lord’s work in the last days, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called their first Facebook member. Area man Aaron Fizz, of the Provo 279th ward, was asked by his bishop to accept the calling of a Facebook member, and will commence his new duties as soon as he can be sustained in sacrament meeting and set apart by his local leaders.
In his bishop’s charge to him, Brother Fizz was exhorted to be willing to bear other members’ over-the-top political statements, to friend with those who friend, to like those who stand in need of liking, and to play Mafia Wars at all times and in all places that he may be in, even until death or his wife says it’s time to come to bed. Read more…
In May of 2010, I was standing alone in my new room after having just started a new job for the summer working the dorms at BYU. I had just finished completely unpacking, and everything was in place and orderly. And it was at that moment, when all seemed settled, that I decided I had to leave.
There I was, just done with my first year at BYU. The past year and a half of my life had been spent fighting against a thought that started as a small flicker but overtime became impossible to push back. That struggle had been spent with what seemed like virtually constant prayer, and I was feeling very close to God at that time in my life—closer than I had ever felt before.
And so, I sat down at the end of my bed and said a simple, to the point prayer. . It wasn’t a prayer of asking—I am much too decisive a person for that. I said something like “Hey. I know I just unpacked and everything. But I can take it no more, and I have decided to leave the church. No one understands my struggle better than you—you’ve been with me through it all. But I can’t do it anymore. I do not feel welcome, and I do not feel that this is my home. I’m starving slowly and I am finding no nourishment in this church. I am scared if I stay much longer, the damage will not be reversible and I’ll never recover. So, I have decided to leave. I’ll transfer to a new school. I’ll move on from this.” Read more…
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is built upon the idea that we can seek answers to fundamental questions about ourselves and our relationship with God. Many celebrate the peace they find in the church through having answers to life’s deepest questions. However, I would contend, that many of the essential doctrines of the church are much more clear when they are applied to men than when they are applied to women. Subsequently, among members of the church, there appears to be a wider variety of opinions about how these doctrines apply to women, while the application of these doctrines for men is much less contended. Below, I have listed three essential areas of doctrine in which I think this is the case. Read more…
If you haven’t heard around the ‘nacle– The fMh Tracy McKay Scholarship fund drive is in full force!
They will be having give-aways all week, so donate now and get your name in early! All people who donate have a chance to win cool stuff like feminist t-shirts, canned goods, subversive bonnets and the grand big awesome Goddess Quilt made out of PANTS!
Last year many around the bloggernacle rallied together to help the awesome Tracy McKay finish the last few months of her degree when her ward could no longer help her out.
fMh is keeping the tradition going by helping more single Mormon mothers go back to school.
You can donate through paypal at fMhscholarship at gmail dot com.
Legal disclosure: We are hoping these donations will be tax deductible, and they very probably most likely will be. But we are waiting on lawyers and paperwork and can NOT guarantee that they will be tax deductible as of today. We were hoping to know for sure before the fund drive, but life happened and school is about to start and we need to fund this thing. If our 501c3 status goes through before the end of the year (and we fully expect it to) you will be sent a tax-deductible receipt. But life happens sometimes too, so we can’t guarantee it.
(Previous posts about making space can be found here and here.)
I have performed stand-up comedy four times: three times for church talent shows and once at a work fundraiser. But, I have not yet mustered the courage to try stand-up at a comedy club open mic night, not yet taking that next comedic and soul-baring step, and I’ll tell you why. When I do comedy the nearly universal response I get, when friends approach me after my performance, is this: “That was really funny! I had no idea you do comedy. I never would have guessed.”
I know these people don’t mean it—it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction than a reasoned response—but what they’re telling me is that I’m just not that funny in real life. Read more…
This guest post is brought to us by my daughter, the crooked girl. Recently I wrote a post on my perspective of her depression, and I invited her to write her own experience. This is what she wrote:
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
I learned recently that a large number of deaths in the water take place within mere feet of the victims’ companions. Mario Vittone writes in a post on aquatic safety that “drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect…drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event.” Most people have not been trained to recognize the signs. This description struck a chord with me because, although I have never experienced such physical danger, my struggles with mental illness feel like a different sort of drowning.
From the organizers:
“There have been LDS art contests in the past, either sponsored by LDS church institutions or by private organizations, but none have yet focused on Heavenly Mother as their theme. That changed this month with the newly announced A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest. Aiming to stimulate the visual and poetic expression of Heavenly Mother, as well as highlight the nascent divinity lying in women as well as men, monetary prizes in excess of $2200 will be awarded to the best entries. Read more…
If I were playing the lottery, I know what numbers I would choose. They would have some variation of 0803 in them (but no, would-be scammers, that is not my debit card PIN number). If I were starting a land war in Asia, I would invade on August 3rd. If I were having elective surgery, I would do it on this day. Today is my lucky day.
You see, August 3rd is the day that my organizing, funny-story-telling, contagiously-laughing wife and my creative, ear-to-ear-grinning, anime-loving only daughter were born. What an awesome day!
Click here to take a fun survey of Mormons on the internet, dealing with both beliefs and participation in online communities.
If you’re going to Sunstone in Salt Lake next week, don’t miss the chance to eat lunch with a bunch of fun Mormon feminists from the Bloggernacle! Meet Saturday, August 3rd at 12:30, right after the 11:00 – 12:30 session ends. Just look for EmilyCC of the Exponent, who will be holding a larger version of this:
For more information, see Emily’s post at the Exponent, or Lisa’s post at fMh. To register for Sunstone, or to order a lunch for Saturday, visit the Sunstone website.
Ziff will definitely be attending, and perhaps other ZD bloggers as well. You can reach Ziff at ziff (at) zelophehadsdaughters.com.
(My introductory post on making space can be found here.)
In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon went to China, thereby reopening official diplomatic ties that had been ruptured by the Communist revolution of 1949. During the ensuing quarter century, the Cold War had created between the two countries a suspicious and unsurpassable barrier that American politicians would not approach. Doing so would paint them as pink, soft on Communism, too weak to protect American interests, and therefore vulnerable to domestic political attacks. Nixon’s rabid anti-Communist rhetoric, anti-Communist policies, and tacit approval of McCarthy’s communist witch hunts proved his bona fides. He was, in Mormon-speak, anti-Communist with every fiber of his being, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thus it was said that only Nixon could have gone to China–he had, according to Wikipedia, “an unassailable reputation among his supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials.” In other words, he was able to step outside the orthodoxy because everyone knew whose team he was on.
Nixon’s bare-knuckled domestic politics were, in many instances, despicable, as Watergate subsequently highlighted. But the important lesson to be learned from his China diplomacy is that, to depart from a team’s orthodoxy in some areas, requires that we demonstrate our commitment to the team in other areas.
Geoff Nelson at Rational Faiths wrote an interesting post a few weeks ago where he looked at how often General Conference speakers say “I know” versus “I believe.” Hooray for more data analysis in the Bloggernacle! Anyway, he found that usage of “I know” has been increasing relative to “I believe” since the early 20th century. I found this kind of surprising, because I would have guessed that the rise of Correlation would be associated with any change over time, but the pattern he found is different than what you would expect to see if that were the case. So I thought I’d look at the data a little bit myself.
A moral survey of today’s journalism looks like a doomsday scenario. Content-free screeds, partisan punditry, and dubious but shrill alarmism are at an all-time high. Informed and fact-based reporting is at an all time low and groundless moral outrage is booming.
Yeah, except just kidding, I made that all up. Read more…
First of all: that it’s fine to have them, that they don’t just have to be a backup plan, that work and motherhood can be compatible, and that there’s nothing wrong for a teenager to dream of having it all.
(That’s a lot of things for a “first of all,” I know, but those have all been covered a million times in a million other places. Bear with me.)
Second of all: you don’t have to become a teacher or nurse just to get flexibility. My YW program growing up did an excellent job telling me I could work outside the home, which I appreciate–and which I know is unusual for a YW program–but the examples they always showed me, whether through their own jobs or career nights, were teaching, nursing, and other traditionally female jobs. Recently, wondering if that was unique to my YW program, I read through the old manuals looking for specific examples of women with jobs. The results? Teacher, nurse, babysitter, and seamstress. (I haven’t read all of the new manuals yet, but from what I’ve seen I doubt they repeat this trend, if only because they’re so much less specific.)
Let me be very clear: there is nothing wrong with those jobs. Read more…
The big toe on my left foot is purple and the nail, like the hair on my head, is starting to fall out. I wish I could say this was an unusual state of affairs, but ever since I took up soccer again, I find my body perpetually suffering from minor traumas.
While limping around the house last week I thought about why I do this to myself. It seemed easier years ago. As Paul Simon sheepishly laments, “And all my friends stand up and cheer and say, ‘Man, you’re old.’ Getting old.” But stubbornly in my middle age (can 42 really be middle age?!), I still do it to myself, cursing as I play, that the 22 year-old I know I am inside has mistakenly woken up, through a tragic, Freaky Fridayesque accident, in an over-the-hill body. Now, the easy solution to this discouraging reality would be to stop playing. A less drastic measure might be to not play so hard—less recklessness, lower risk of injury. More brain, less pain.
This is an ever-so-slightly revised and edited version of a church talk I gave in 2009; I recently stumbled across it in my cluttered email inbox and felt the urge to share. Hat tip to a post at BCC (I think by Kevin Barney) that started me on this train of thought.
Let’s start with something about me: I have been a church-attending Mormon all my life. let’s calculate, for a minute, what that means, besides a closet full of skirts and a knowledge of all the verses to “I Believe in Christ”: I have taken the sacrament to renew my baptismal covenants approximately 782 times–17 years since my baptism, at 46 Sundays a year. (52, minus two Sundays for General Conference and two for stake conferences and two more for vacation Sundays or simply arriving at church late. I didn’t say I’ve been a perfectly church-attending Mormon all my life!) That, my friends, is a lot of times to do something and still not quite understand or enjoy it.
I mean, I know all the Sunday School answers about the sacrament–I have, after all, attended Primary, seminary, and Sunday School far more than just 782 times–and I’m sure I don’t have to rehearse them for you all here: the sacrament is about remembering Jesus, taking His name, and renewing our baptismal covenants. I know the symbolism of the bread, the symbolism of the water, the symbolism of the white cloth; I know the prayers–heck, I know them in several languages–and most of all, I know what I’m supposed to do: sit quietly and think of Christ. Yet this whole experience, more often than not, is a mystery for me, as great as the mystery of the Atonement itself. Read more…