Forms of Grace

scan00291.

And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Poor Joseph. Birth order and his father’s feelings were not his fault. He was only 17. But still, you’d think common sense or modesty would have warned him off of telling his brothers about his dreams. They weren’t terribly nice guys, for instance Simeon and Levi had murdered all the men in Shechem’s household as they lay recovering from circumcisions. Clearly Joseph underestimated his brothers’ hatred for him, and would have been murdered himself if Reuben hadn’t stepped in and gotten him sold into slavery instead. (Reuben, who may have felt he owed their father some form of apology after he’d slept with Mama Bilhah). Joseph was apparently still peeved at his brothers many years later, because when they showed up in Egypt he “spake roughly unto them” and put the fear of God into them by framing Benjamin for theft before revealing his identity and insisting that they all move to Egypt, reuniting the happy family. All this is of course a prelude to the enslavement of the Israelites and their dramatic exodus back to Caanan (a land flowing with milk and honey–no going back to Egypt to buy corn [1]).

This story is about forging a covenant people. It’s such good drama that Hollywood, Broadway, and Disney have all had turns at telling it, and like all good drama, the story involves flawed characters whose motives aren’t always admirable. Here we have a cast of sinners motivated by jealousy, retribution, and the will to survive, whose lives turn out to form an enduring story of faith. God works in mysterious ways.

Read More

Should Women’s Meeting be part of General Conference?

womens meetingThere was quite the kerfuffle over Women’s Meeting a couple weeks ago. Prior to the meeting, Ordain Women supporters pointed out that “the General Women’s Meetings are not considered part of general conference. They are auxiliary meetings and, as such, represent women’s secondary status in the LDS Church.”

But during General Women’s Meeting, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said that “we open another general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and referred to the five sessions of General Conference to follow as the “remaining sessions of our worldwide general conference” as  if Women’s Meeting were the first.  The Salt Lake Tribune reported that “for the first time, the charismatic German leader described the meeting as the opening session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 184th Semiannual General Conference. Until now, General Conference has referred only to the two-day gatherings held during the first weekends of April and October, with the women’s meeting seen as a separate event.” Some feminists rejoiced because women’s status was improving in the Church and some anti-feminists gloated that General Women’s Meeting had always been a session of General Conference and Ordain Women simply didn’t have their facts straight.

However, the following Saturday morning,

Read More

Young Women Lesson: Why is work an important gospel principle?

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français
For the lds.org lesson plan, see HERE.

Lao woman working in the wet-rice fields

I think that, generally, the word “work” has a negative connotation associated with it – why? What about “work” makes us hesitant, or loathe to embrace it? Is there a way to view work where we view it as a privilege, or a joy, or an act of love? How can we re-frame work as a positive aspect of our life, and something we look forward to or enjoy, rather than drudgery or something painful?

Ask the YW to think of ways that they work in their lives – both things they enjoy and things they don’t. What goals have they set, and how have they *worked* to achieve those goals? Do they have any talents that they have *worked* to develop? What kind of *work* do they do to contribute to their household, both in the home and out of the home? Do they have any hobbies that they *work* on in their spare time?

Read More

But what if everybody has sex?

You might think that Mormons should be able to avoid having sex when we work with colleagues of the opposite sex, since many of us manage to abstain from sex with our own fiancés. However, Mormons aren’t too sure about that, judging from how often the objection, “But what if everybody has sex?” is raised when we talk about women’s ordination to the priesthood and how that could lead to the possibility of having mixed gender branch presidencies, bishoprics, high councils and stake presidencies. Many Mormons claim that women and men could never work in church presidencies together because committing adultery is a practically inevitable outcome of working several hours per week with members of the opposite sex.

I have not served in a mixed gender presidency since the powers that be wised up and outlawed female Sunday School secretaries—a necessary move to safeguard male Sunday School presidents and their male counselors from the lurid influence of a sex object/notetaker. However, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the topic of not having sex with colleagues of the opposite sex because I have been employed throughout my whole marriage, working in mixed gender offices, and yet I have never committed adultery once! Really! I should get some sort of award.

Spouse of the Year: Didn't even commit adultery

Today, I am sharing how I successfully abstain from extramarital sex in hopes of preparing our community for a future in which men and women can serve together in church presidencies without having orgies.

Strategy 1: Keep your clothes on.
I never get naked during business meetings, even if the room is hot. Or even if the coworker is hot! I also stay dressed when working alone in my own cubicle—a simple precaution in case someone walks by seeking sex.

Strategy 2: Just say no.

Read More

Stages of Grief

Andrassy_Kurta_Janos-GriefElisabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist whose work focused on terminally ill and elderly patients. In her landmark book, On Death and Dying, she lays the 5 stages of grief. These stages have become part of the general consciousness and Dr. Kubler-Ross’ ideas have been applied to all kinds of human loss. The stages are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

These can happen in any order, and not every one experiences them all. One can also jump from stage to stage. The goal, however, is to process each one and eventually end up at acceptance.

Read More

A Book Review (Of Sorts): Way Below the Angels

Craig Harline

Not very long ago, I read this post, that made me want to read this book, Way Below the Angels: the pretty clearly troubled but not even close to tragic confessions of a real live Mormon missionary. Even shorter ago, I did.

While it isn’t a woman’s story, I still feel that it is worth reviewing here, in this women’s story space for two reasons. 1) The author, Craig Harline, does a fairly good job pointing out when women’s stories, voices, and presence are forgotten.

One example of this is when his Salt Lake Mission Home President tells a mixed group of Elders and Sisters that they are to dress like “local businessmen.” Another is when his going-Belgium group was moved to the Rexburg, Idaho LTM, and they held a nightly devotional with the older going-Belgium missionaries, that fully excluded the Sisters because it was in an Elder’s dorm room. The saddest examples took place in Belgium. The first question they asked women who answered the door was if they could speak to their husband. Not because they weren’t allowed to speak to women, but because they were taught that they should focus on the man. A woman named Lieve demanded focus, because she had a dream and a wish to be baptized. She also had a husband who did not share that dream or wish. He was required to sign a permission slip, which he did. But then he took it back. Lieve learned that if her husband had the dream and wish, her signature would not be needed.*

2) Harline’s ofttimes funny/ofttimes insightful words created a space for me to remember my own mission story.

Read More

Sisters Speak: Reflections on Exponent II

Since the upcoming issue of Exponent II is commemorating Exponent II’s fortieth anniversary, the Sisters Speak column will center on women’s experiences with the organization. What has Exponent II meant to you? How has it impacted your life? What articles have meant the most to you and why? What do you hope Exponent II will address or accomplish in the next forty years?” 

To give you a little of my own story, Exponent II has enriched my life in many ways. Ten years ago, I found Exponent II through my visiting teachee Jana, who handed me a stack of her mom’s Exponent II magazines. I was entranced, and with Jana’s help, I threw myself into the organization, offering to edit with Jana a Southern California issue of the paper and then offering to start, again with Jana, a blog for Exponent II.

I can’t even begin to describe how much I have loved my association with this organization. Through it — the magazines, the blog, the retreats —  I’ve found women who ask hard questions and live wholeheartedly and generously as they work to find answers. I’ve found companions in my faith journey who fully understand the tension I feel as a Mormon feminist. I’ve found a support network that has strengthened me when I have felt beaten down and hopeless. Every time the magazine comes in the mail, I feel a renewed sense of hope about my Mormon faith tradition, inspired by women’s wise insights and complicated experiences that are articulated in the articles.

Please share your reflections about Exponent II. You can reply on the blog (I will email you and ask permission to quote you), or email me at carolinekline1 at gmail dot com to submit a response to this Sisters Speak question. The deadline is October 15.

 

Read More