Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Mormon Feminist Conference

I went to an interesting conference this past weekend. It wasn't actually called the "Mormon Feminist Conference," (although that probably was a working title at some point), but had the much more respectable name of, "Women and the LDS Church: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives Conference." I don't even know where to start with telling you about this fun, thoughtful, controversial conference. You name a hot topic within the sphere of women and the LDS church and it was covered, often to the boos and cheers of an enthusiastic crowd.

Here's a list of suggestions that were made in connection to the conference:

Note: I don't think this list mentions disciplinary councils, but I think it would be a great idea to have old Stake Relief Society Presidents or whomever would be the high council equivalent be part of those.

I didn't agree with some of the suggestions made on the list and at the conference, mostly because I felt some practical issues with some of them were being overlooked. But I did agree with a lot of them. If the number one reason women leave the church is because they feel marginalized, why not change some outdated policies to give them a more visible face and active role in the church? 

The popular saying in the church that "men have the priesthood and women have motherhood" (ergo, women do not need to be involved in traditional visible "priesthood" roles) really irks me, because first, it ignores the all-important father aspect of men and second, it ignores the great sisterhood of women, Relief Society. Yes, mothering is the most important work women can do on this earth. Likewise, fathering is the most important work men can do on this earth. "Father" is God's preferred title, his most honored role. The false dichotomy of motherhood versus priesthood can much more thoughtfully be replaced “with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood" -Spencer W. Kimball.

In the great new book, (that hopefully will soon be studied by men and women throughout the church), Daughters in My Kingdom, we read: "In harmony with timeless principles about the sacred nature of home and family, Melchizedek Priesthood quorums help men fulfill their responsibilities as sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. The Relief Society helps women fulfill their responsibilities as daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers." Somewhere between the awe-inspiring vision of Joseph Smith for the Relief Society and the current organization we have today, I feel like the parallel of this sisterhood to the priesthood has been lost. In our idolization of mothers we have overlooked the very institution God gave women to become the best mothers they can be.

In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," we read that "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." And again from Daughters in My Kingdom: "The word motherhood defines women’s eternal roles; it describes their nature as nurturers. Nurture is a rich word. It means to train, to teach, to educate, to foster development, to promote growth, and to nourish or feed. Women have been given the great privilege and responsibility to nurture in all these senses of the word, and the Relief Society has the responsibility to teach and support women in their divinely ordained, indispensable roles as mothers and nurturers.28 

I feel like women could use their responsibility (and for many women their gift) to nurture by playing a greater role in nurturing the church. Sisters should be joining the brothers as "equal partners" in training, teaching, educating, taking care of physical needs, etc., starting in our homes but not staying in our homes.
This whole thing sounds a little dangerous, especially that blasphemous list at the beginning. Are you tired of quotes yet?

Joseph Smith: "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them — even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise this idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves." — Joseph Smith, Jr. Millenial Star, Archive Volume 14, Number 38, Pages 593-595

From a 1945 ward teacher's message: "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan–it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy." President George Albert Smith responded to this statement with the following words: "Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church."

Time to think about our practices and traditions! The thing I liked most about the conference was that it got me thinking. It left me with the question, "What is my identity as a Mormon woman?" I went to church the next day pondering this and proceeded to watch our bishop call up on the stand a young woman and her leader who had just completed the Young Womenhood Recognition. (Lame name, I know.) He talked at length about what they had done to recieve it and invited them to speak to us about it. I thought it was an awesome example of not only talking about how we love and honor women just as much as the men in our church, but showing it by how he behaved towards them and made them public examples of good. Let's look around now at changes we like and build on those.
Feminists, unite!

Because I dislike scammers so much.

Yesterday I posted my sister-in-law's wedding dress online for sale, and today I had this interesting exchange:

Mystery Texter: still for saleWhite Wedding Dress with Sleeves

Me: Yes it is ( space, no question mark.)

Mystery Texter: Okay good but before i do I will like to know the present condition of the item because i live in 1350 S.E. 29th Street, MY and i want to get it for my friend who live in Downtown but recently move to west Africa about mid week of last week, i will like u to find out the shipping cost to him and let me know the total cost of everything, i will b paying u through My paypal, do u have an acct with

Me: Please don't text me again.

(MY is not a state abbreviation, you mentioned Africa and PayPal in the same sentence, why would a guy need a wedding dress, and I really need my nap.)

Mystery Texter: OMG! HOH....I understand how you feel and what do you think I can promise you that if I help pay for the item including shipping costs and any costs order which is why I said that we should use PayPal to the PayPal payment is so safe and secure for both buyers and sellers on-line fastest way to pay and 100% free of fraud are really interested in this article, I will not afford to lose,

(Is there anything worse than ending a sentence with a comma? And HOH? Don't you mean LOL? Seriously, I need my nap.)

Me: If you text me again I will have my husband track down your real address, find out who else you have defrauded or tried to defraud, then I personally will prosecute you in my free time. In fact I am considering doing this even if you don't text me again because I dislike scammers so much.

And that was the end of that. Maybe if I wasn't so tired I would have had a little more fun with this person before I tried to scare them. On the bright side, it was yet another reminder of the practicality of majoring in English--the detection of bad grammar is a sure-fire way to protect yourself from a malicious scammer.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Summer of Life

I feel like we're in a nice spot with life right now. There are ups and downs of course, but mostly deep days that manage to be full of nothing at the same time. It feels like summer.

Our annual camping trip.
(New favorite spot to camp: our backyard.)
Though we still didn't get much sleep.
Sammy heads back to school.
On our way to becoming self-sufficient: picking our home-grown crab apples!
Family reunion, friends, and food...
And the ping-pong match!
Dad almost managed to convince Aunt Terri that the top bunk was made out of oak and the bottom one was made out of pine, so the bottom one was softer.
Sand and dirt and rocks and cousins kept us entertained for a week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There and Back Again

We started out our summer peacefully, pulling weeds in the fresh mornings, taking luxurious naps in the lazy afternoons, and playing board games long into the quiet gloaming. Well, I got to take naps, anyway. Our relaxing/boring summers seem to rapidly morph into these massive journeys, and this year was no different. We left our mountain home in July and travelled to Nebraska, Paris, Venice, and Chicago before finally returning about a month later. I think we can all agree that the main point of going on vacations is so that you can bore people with your stories and pictures when you get back, and since that's the way its been for hundreds of years, I see no reason to break with tradition now.


We loved hanging out with Nana and Poppy in Omaha, and our favorite thing to do there was playing by the lake. We almost always ended up being mermaids--Sammy gave Cici the mermaid name of Kayak, and her name was San Diego. She must have ran out of good names by the time she got to me, because I ended up with the name Trampoline. Austin turned 29!


Paris didn't start off on a great foot. Our airport bus dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe, and after we checked it out Austin thought it would be a good idea to give me the map and have me tell him what street we were supposed to walk down to get to our hotel.

That's the Arc in the middle

With my famed navigating skills, I managed to take us all the way around the massive traffic circle (under the scorching Paris sun) until we ended up one street away from where we had started. Oh man.

Look, we're really in Paris! Right after we took this picture, (probably as revenge for earlier annoyances,) Austin told me to look down at the river, where I was greeted by the sight of a hairy, Speedo-clad Parisian man soaking up the sun. Thanks, Austin. Now one of my lasting memories of Paris.

As part of our romantic vacation to Paris, Austin took us to the Sewer Museum. This is a picture of him standing by a display of stuffed rats. Basically, you pay money to walk around the sewers of Paris and like all museums, end up in a gift shop at the end. (With toy rats though.) I was very disappointed with their bathrooms. You would think the bathrooms in a sewer museum would be pretty incredible, but instead they were pretty gross. I came across an incredible variety of bathrooms during our travels. Someday I will write the coffee-table book, "Bathrooms of the World," and offer advance copies to any readers of this blog. !!!


Ahhh, Venice! We got upgraded to a tower room...I never wanted to leave. I've always wanted to live in a tower.

Getting lost was actually kind of enjoyable in Venice. You can't go too far wrong on an island.

Goodbye, Venice! Back to the good ol' U.S.

On the way back, I discovered the real reason people like airport lounges: it's not the drinks, it's the airplane-shaped gummies.

I also discovered the real reason we went to Europe: so Austin could experience the new 747-8I business class on the way back. 


Hello Chicago!

Hello San Diego!

Thanks to Nana for staying with us in Chicago and for taking us fun places like the Children's Museum.

They expect a lot from the kids there.

Good thing I know a lot about sewers now.

And now back to our humdrum real life: