Of Resolutions and Podcasts

In my life away from Exponent and Mormon Feminism, where I make the money to pay the bills, I am an organizer.  I organized largely for business professionals: their desks, their calendars, their files, and their kitchens, closets, and basements.  I love my work.

In my own life, I also organize.  My dresses are hung on matching hangers – in color order.  My socks are all folded the same way – in thickness order. My calendar is color coded with times and addresses listed – and agendas outlined in notes.

I had one goal on January 1, 2014: Never Be Behind – on Anything.  This means that inboxes are always clean in my 5 email accounts, my birthday cards are out the door on time, I send follow up notes immediately after the meeting, and I’m up on all blog readings and current events.  I chased this goal down all year and did a pretty good job …. but, of course, it eluded me.

For 2015, my friends tell me I should change my goal to: Be Realistic.  And I respond: Boring.

So, I will try again to “Never Be Behind”.  I know it’s out of reach, but I love the challenge.  One area that is hard for me: keeping up on news – Mormon and otherwise.  So, in 2015, I’m going to try more podcasts.  I’d like to listen rather than trying to read it all.

And here’s where I need your help, dear reader: choosing the best podcasts.

What are your favorite podcasts – in the Mormon World and in the World World?





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Power in the Name

IMG_9775By Jenny

One evening this month I sat down to read a Christmas picture book with two of my daughters.  “Way up North in the land of ice and snow stands a cozy little house. And beside the front door hangs a neat little sign. S. Claus, says the sign.  Because that is who lives there—Santa Claus.  Mrs. Santa Claus lives there, too, of course.  She keeps house for Santa Claus, and for all the elves who work in Santa’s toy shop.”

The cacophony of sexist words pounded against my head and my heart.  The image of a little old woman tending Santa’s house, cleaning up after his elves, endlessly, endlessly making cookies was enough to drain the energy from my body.    What did Mrs. Claus ever do to inherit an eternal identity as the nameless cleaner and baker for Santa’s busy household?  I say nameless, because that is what was on my mind that particular day.  Mrs. Santa Claus…it isn’t so much a name, as it is a title that causes this mythical female character to be subsumed by her husband’s identity.  We know her not by who she is, but by whom she is married to.  Mrs. Santa Clause.  Who is she?

The reason this was on my mind is because I had been reading earlier in the day from a book called “The Creation of Patriarchy” by Gerda Lerner.  Yes, my husband rolled his eyes when he heard me teaching my daughters about the creation of patriarchy in the middle of reading them a children’s picture book.  “…the divine breath creates, but human naming gives meaning and order….name-giving is a powerful activity, a symbol of sovereignty.  In Biblical times, in line with Oriental tradition, it also had a magical quality, giving meaning and predicting the future.” Pg. 181-182

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Guest Post — In Error Pining: Thoughts on Christmas

christmas star (2)by Ashley

Despite my love of Christmas, of lights and decorations and holiday traditions and carols, for many years I felt a deep sadness at Christmas.  Christmas often seemed to highlight what I didn’t have.  My family doesn’t always do well at the holidays and it was frequently a time of stress.  When my beloved grandparents died almost seven years ago, I wondered if I would ever be able to recapture my love of Christmas.  Six years ago I was mourning their loss, which had also triggered my fear that perhaps I would never marry.  I was in my late twenties and one of the things I was saddest about was that my grandparents would never meet my as yet unknown spouse or hold my hypothetical children.  I remember weeping in my Bishop’s office during tithing settlement when he asked me “How are you doing?”  I was surprised by my emotion and response, since I was usually fairly good at smiling and saying “Fine,”  no matter what was really going on.

But that year I began to acknowledge my loss and disappointment that things in my life felt perilous and tenuous.

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Christmas Series: an Exponent II Merry Christmas Playlist

by Aimee Evans Hickman

by Aimee Evans Hickman

Click on the picture to the left to go to hear a playlist of our permabloggers’ favorite Christmas carols. Merry Christmas!

In no particular order…
All the Emilys: “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree”

Two out of three Emilys say, “I like the verse, ‘This fruit doth make my soul to thrive it keeps my dying faith alive.’ Because Christ is the center of my reason for staying.

Melody: Patty Griffith’s “Mary”
Because Mary is the closest thing we have to divine feminine. And in my mind her humanity somehow provides a link between heaven and earth. She lived, she wept, she “stayed behind and started cleaning up the place” like so many of us do-out of love and reverence and necessity. And she knew God.

JessR: Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”
My favorite is Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song. It reminds me of my grandfather. It was his favorite. It also talks about all my favorite parts of Christmas: being home around family and the excitement of kids around this time of year.

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Renovating My Faith

house renovations

My husband’s cousin lives in a gorgeous, old house – it was built around 1885, and was one of the first homes built in that area. Their family bought the home over twenty years ago as young parents and have lived there ever since. Sure, there have been some quirks – some major, some minor – but that’s inevitable when your house is over a century old. For example, the foundation was comprised of large, stacked stones and rough-cut timbers dug only two feet into the ground, and the walls were a mixture of dried adobe mud bricks, fired clay bricks, and plaster. The pipes were cast iron and rusting out, and the sewer line kept breaking. There were some aesthetic annoyances as well: having been “updated” in the 60′s and 70′s, the walls had green avocado paneling, with matching avocado-stained cabinets, and an olive green stove. There was an abundance of outdated wallpaper throughout the house. But there were also some really lovely things about the old pioneer home: 11-foot ceilings in most rooms, intricately-detailed woodwork and trim around the doors and windows, and turn-of-the-century light fixtures that were installed in the house around 1905 (when electricity was first made available in the area). And after 23 years in this house, it had become their family home – they could point out where their kids had learned to read, where they gathered for family activities, and where their child fell and ended up needing stitches.  However, in the last couple of years, they found themselves at a crossroads.  Some of the structural issues in the home were so major that they needed to make a big decision.

Do they renovate their home? Buy a new (to them) home? Or build a new home?

They’ve decided to renovate, and the word “renovate” is actually a complete understatement. They’ve had to rip their house down to the studs, remove most of the walls, and completely replace the foundation. Hoping to have more room, they dug out a basement underneath the still-standing house. All of the plumbing, duct work, sewer lines, and electrical work had to be dug out and replaced. They basically had to break everything down to the bare minimum, decide what was worth keeping and what needed to be replaced (or removed), and then build the entire thing back up again. They added things along the way, and changed a couple of things, but ultimately fought really hard to maintain the original character and shape of the house.

Watching this year-long project unfold (via Facebook updates) has been alternately baffling and awe-inspiring. Why on earth would you take on such a big project?? Is it really worth the time, energy, and resources that you put into it? Was the old house that bad? Would a new house have been that bad? Yet I found myself inspired by how well they were getting to know their house – they know every nook and cranny, every pipe, every wall. They know which walls are still original and which had to be replaced. I admit turning green with envy when they found a copy of the Saturday Evening Post from 1920 (in great condition) under one of their floors. And the balance has shifted from me being less baffled to more awestruck as they’ve come closer and closer to completing their project. It’s turning out to be a gorgeous house, with all of the beauty and history of the original 1885 house, but with the structural integrity and functionality of a 2014 house.

I can’t help but see similarities between this home renovation and the continual “faith renovation” I’ve been doing over the past several years. I feel like “faith renovation” or “faith reconstruction” is more apt for me than “faith crisis” or “faith transition” – I don’t feel like I’m in crisis, and I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere. I was born and raised in the Mormon church. I have been active my entire life. There is so much that I love about my faith – I love the rich theology, the pioneer stories, the hymns, the concept of a Mother in Heaven, and the idea that we are Gods and Goddesses in embryo. But there have been things that I’ve discovered throughout the years that are huge problems for my Mormonism, and they have threatened to collapse my entire faith. So over the last 5+ years, I’ve been gradually stripping my Mormonism down, deciding what is worth keeping, what needs to be replaced (or removed), and then building the entire thing back up again.

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“The Crucible of Doubt”: A Review


I found “The Crucible of Doubt” to be rich with insight into age-old religious questions.  Many of the chapters gave voice (and deeper meaning) to ideas I was already forming – regarding church, religion, and faith.  I was also inspired with new ideas and found myself reframing worship and God in new, positive ways.  I would recommend this book to any person of faith.

My two favorite chapters are Chapter 3, The Role and Function of the Church and Chapter 8, Find Your Watering Place.

In Chapter 3 (The Role and Function of the Church) brought to life many discussion I’ve had with others:  “Faith is a way of life; a church is an institution designed to strengthen people in the expression of that life.” The Givens’ seem to say that true religion is a part of a person and an individual journey; the church is an aid to the human spirit and to this journey.

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Have you seen any LDS Christmas movies?

LDS Christmas DVD CollectionA couple Christmases ago, I polled Exponent readers about their favorite Mormon Christmas movies and got a lot of blank stares. Apparently, most families don’t watch Christmas movies as voraciously as mine does. So this time, instead of asking about favorites, I’ll just ask if you’ve seen any of these at all. Check all that apply.

Poll: (If you are reading from a feed reader, you will need to click through to the original post to view and participate in the poll.)

And here is one, so that if you haven’t seen it you can remedy that now.
A Gift to the World

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