¡Bienvenido! (Welcome!)

As you have noticed, the Exponent has begun to have some of its lesson plans translated into español to share the hearts, minds and stories of women as far and wide as possible.* This post is to introduce one of the español translators who has blessed us with his bilingual talents. Please join us in a belated welcome to César! 

 
Traducción Inglés/Click for English Translation

 
Mi nombre es César Carreón Tapia y soy mexicano. Soy mormón desde hace ya 9 años y recientemente me reconocí como un ‘feminista mormón’. Todo comenzó cuando perdí a mi privilegio en la Iglesia por ser gay y asi fue cuando finalmente me di cuenta: Pude ver la desigualdad a la que nos enfrentamos como miembros de la Iglesia, yo creía que no podía hacer nada para ayudar a cambiar el status quo, pero encontré una gran cantidad de apoyo y comprensión de la comunidad de mormones liberales en internet  -el “bloggernacle” – y así fue como llegué a saber sobre The Exponent II. Leí la historia detrás del blog y pensé que podía darle a mis conocimientos de idiomas un buen uso y me ofrecí a traducir los mensajes regulares para las lecciones de la Sociedad de Socorro.

 

CesarYo había trabajado anteriormente en la traducción de la página web oficial de la Iglesia, The Vineyard, así que tenía un poco de experiencia con la jerga mormona. También participé en la traducción del sitio en español de “Afirmación: Mormones LGBT, Familia y Amigos” y en la traducción de algunas de las Conversaciones de Ordain Women. He encontrado mucho gozo al traducir todos estos materiales a mi lengua materna! Y no sólo por los efectos de la difusión, sino por todas las personas increíbles que he conocido a través de este asignaciones!

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August Young Women Lesson: How can I prepare now to become a righteous wife and mother?

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

This is a very tricky lesson to teach! Be sure to be mindful of those who do not fit the cookie-cutter mould in your branch, ward and/or stake so that the lesson does not border on the offensive or appear to be making judgement of others’ lives, circumstances and choices (to so do this would only undermine the concept of marriage, making the lesson an anti-marriage lesson).

 

To start, I went and reviewed both the lesson for Young Women (YW) and Young Men (YM)girls leadIt was surprising to me how vastly different the lesson materials were. The YW lessons were in a passive voice, and even included a subsection titled, “Share Experiences,” which heavily contrasts the YM’s “Let the Young Men Lead.” Now, I think sharing experiences is a good thing, but I also think that having the Young Women lead the lesson is also important. When I was a Young Woman, my Mia Maid (MM) teacher always had the MM President begin the meeting. She had the MM President assign someone to conduct, lead, and then turn the time over to her, as the teacher. Her example in this is still one of the most important in my life, because it taught me that I was allowed to be a leader (to peers, at home, etc.). I recommend you do the same in your classes so the YW gain confidence in how to manage people (a very important skill to learn in managing a family, roommates, etc!)

 

Teacher Preparation:

By this age, (at least for any of the youth classes I have taught in the church) the students already “know” the rote answers they are “supposed to know.” I am a huge fan of digging deeper after they give me the rote answer, by asking them if they agree or disagree with the rote answer that they have been taught and have them supplement their thoughts by asking them “why do you think this is the answer?” and “why might this not be the right answer”. I suggest doing this with the Young Women in your class, thereby encouraging them to think about the answer they are giving. Then ask them if they agree or disagree, and challenge them to develop a testimony of the answer they are giving.

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Where is the outrage?

Where is the outrage?

depression

Earlier this week, the Mormon Newsroom released a statement regarding the potential end to the long-standing Boy Scouts of America (BSA)-LDS Church partnership, citing the recent decision to allow openly gay men to serve in leadership positions. As discussions popped up across social media, individuals in favour of the split reasoned that those who are attracted to the sex of the minors should not be in isolated situations with them. Many assured me their concerns were not due to prejudice and bigotry. In fact, they would be the same if men were to oversee and be in isolated situations with young women.

The problem with this assertion is, of course, that LDS men are frequently in isolated situations with young women and hardly anyone bats an eye.

It has been a little over 11 years since, as a teenager, my single’s ward bishop asked to meet with me after church. I obliged. Once behind closed doors, he asked if he could give me a worthiness interview. Confused at the timing (I was not in need of a temple recommend renewal, nor was I to receive a new calling), I again obliged. As he went through the temple recommend questions, special emphasis was placed on the question regarding the Law of Chastity. I responded that I did, indeed, keep the law of chastity. As a never-been-kissed, always-careful-to-double-date young woman, there was little doubt in my mind that I was chaste and pure before God.

Unfortunately, my answer was not sufficient for my bishop, even after pointing out my very limited physical contact with the young men I had dated. He asked if he could clarify the question and then became more specific. “Had I touched anyone in their sacred or private parts?” “Had anyone else touched me in my sacred or private parts?” “Had I touched myself in my sacred or private parts?” To each, the response was “no” because I knew I had not broken any commandments regarding chastity, but behind every no was a heap of questions. Why was he asking me these questions? What did all of this even mean? Did he mean hygienic touching? Gynecological exams? Changing my baby brother’s diaper?

I know some readers may believe me to have been naive and they are right–as a young woman with very little sexual exposure and even less dialogue around sex, I was very naive. And innocent. And so very much like my other uber-concerned-about-being-righteous church mates. Unfortunately, I was also in the presence of a man and sexual talk with men was verboten. Unfortunately, he was also my priesthood leader so he was given official sanction to have this conversation. Unfortunately, I believed that since God had called him to this position, called him to conduct this interview and called him to go off-book, God and my bishop must know something that I don’t know about my sexual purity.

As I left church that day, I felt Dirty. Shameful. Unclean. Unchaste. Unworthy. But I didn’t know why.

In the days and weeks following that interview, symptoms of an anxiety disorder began to appear–unexplained stomach aches, night sweats, night terrors, loss of appetite and an overall fixation on ridding myself of this horrible, icky feeling inside of me. Week after week I would dread going to church, but would do so because I so desperately wanted to feel clean. Week after week I would head into my bishop’s office to try to find out what I had done wrong, confessing every inkling of an impure thought in hopes that it would make me feel better. Every week he turned me out of his office again, having heard my mildly lurid confession, just to see me again the next week. Every week I felt more and more trapped and more and more unworthy.

It wasn’t until a decade following this incident that I realized what happened and the guilt and shame finally subsided–that interview was inappropriate. Taking girls and women behind closed doors with middle-aged men, asking about sex and masturbation, is perverse. It’s abusive. And it’s upheld, even required, by the Church I trusted to keep me safe.

There is a big conversation to be had about keeping our young men safe and I can understand parents are concerned about the perceived threat to their sons. What I can’t understand is the lack of outrage about the threat of abuse right under our noses. As the Newsroom releases statements about our young men with the overtone that it is for their safety, I wonder, “where are the releases about protecting our girls?” “Where is the acknowledgement that this abuse happens every. single. week under the guise of righteousness?” “Why are the same people who are concerned about the possibility of the abuse of their sons so dismissive when I mention the very real abuse of their daughters?” “Why am I told that I should have known better and taken measures to protect my young, innocent self?” “Why does no one seem to notice or even care about our girls?”

I wish my answers didn’t always dead end with the fear that we don’t notice or care about our girls because we don’t actually notice or care about our girls.

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Relief Society Lesson 15: The Sacred Callings of Fathers and Mothers

Capítulo 15: Los llamamientos sagrados de los padres y las madres, Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

Some of the format on this page can hard to read. Please click on this link for a pdf of this lesson plan: Lesson 15 ETB.Exponent.

This is a LONG lesson (lds.org text is here). I do not think you will be able to cover all of the material in the lesson, or in this lesson plan. But because teaching typical/gendered model-based lessons is difficult, I tried to be inclusive of all women, including childless women, those who are in a mixed faith marriage or those who are single parents. So- let’s get into it:

Introduce the term, “Family.” I have written about the term previously here, and highlight this quote as a way to model inclusiveness:

 

Family is a rubbery term at best; even within the church, the black-and-white-paper-cutout-men-standing-holding-hands-together_9777700definition of family comes in varied terms of a mortal family, an eternal family, a heavenly family, a ward family (wherein the bishop is the father of a ward) and for those in University wards, you may get “assigned” membership in FHE family groups. Even at work or in sports, a branch or a team can be described as a family unit. In consideration of this, you can see why I prefer the mathematical definition of the term “family”: a group of curves whose equations differ from a given equation in the values assigned to constraints in each curve. In applying this concept to the more common definition of family, I am comfortable in defining family like this: A group of individuals who share values assigned to and within the constraints of a common group.

 

 

Print out some of these quotes as relate to the women in your class. ( I have added descriptors in italics at the front of each quote, you are not obligated to read or include these) . Have members of the class each read one. I would not encourage discussion at this stage (timing!), but rather, invite the women to adapt the idea of mothers and fathers to be inclusive of all church members in all walks of life:

 

(widows or divorcees) A woman in the role of single parent, whether widowed or divorced, has a very special calling, and she will be held accountable before the Lord for what she does with her stewardship. Although her spouse is absent, she stands nonetheless commissioned by the Lord to perform the charge he issued to all parents: “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” She may feel at times that she carries a disproportionate share of that responsibility, yet she has the Lord’s assurance that he will prepare a way for her to accomplish her task.  –  Maren Eccles Hardy, This You Can Count On, Ensign, September 1990.

 

 

(Mixed Faith Marriages): The fact is, many of us will never see our spouses join the Church. But we must continue to follow what we know to be true. We will not be held accountable for their salvation, but we will be held accountable for our own actions—how brightly we let our own light shine. Understanding this truth has relieved us of a great burden; in a very real way it has set us free to find contentment, joy, and growth in our part-member marriages. – Kristin Sandoval and Susan Heumphreus, When Your Spouse Isn’t a Member, Ensign, March 1990.

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“My entire belief system has shifted”

My name is Sherry. Forty-eight. Mom of three with four bonus children! Happy, fun with a liberal heart and mind. I live in Utah, with my husband, our two cats (Prince Jerry and Princess Madeline). I’m constantly creating, looking for inspiration, and always up for an adventure.

Andy Carter/flickr/Creative Commons

At the young age of 8 years old, I was baptized into the Mormon Church, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I didn’t really know much about the church or religion other than I knew it was expected of me to be baptized and my parents were members.

I think I realized around age 10 or 11 that my family was exclusively different from other families in the church. By this, I mean the way other families behaved versus the way my family (parents) behaved.

My friend’s parents would hold weekly Monday night family nights. My parents didn’t do that. My friend’s families would pray together, pray at meals and read scriptures. My parents didn’t do that either.

I learned the word hypocrite at a fairly young age. One morning after a Sunday school class I was called a hypocrite by another young girl. At that moment, I didn’t know what the word meant but I learned later on and it devastated me. I began to dread going to church because of the other children and I always felt like my family was different. I mean, my family had never even been to the temple, let alone, sealed for time and eternity. Nevertheless, I had to go to church every Sunday, Wednesday and any other afternoon or night that an activity took place. My childhood and preteen social life revolved around the Mormon Church, which at the time didn’t seem too awfully bad.

I didn’t learn about the church history or what Mormons truly believe until just a few years ago. Of course I had heard rumors about Joseph Smith and his mystical and enchanting behavior and obviously I knew about Brigham Young’s polygamy. At any rate, I didn’t give any of it much thought and continued on with my “beliefs” and developed a rather judgmental attitude towards anyone who didn’t believe the way that I did or practice Mormonism.

Here is an example: after my husband I were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 2006 our son (my stepson) had recently returned home from his mission. He met a girl who was not a member of the church and asked her to marry him. I was furious! I was mean to his fiancée and talked behind her back. It breaks my heart now just knowing how mean and closed minded I was. I have since, apologized for my behavior and we are close and I love her unconditionally.

A few years ago, I read a book by Rebecca Musser called The Witness Wore Red. It’s a story about the woman who brought Warren Jeffs, the “prophet” from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), to justice. While reading her book I noticed quite a few similarities between the FLDS and the LDS churches. In fact, almost everything was the same except for the polygamous relationships. It really bothered me. I couldn’t shake the feeling off and decided that I needed to do more research on the Mormon Church’s history.

With that said, after a full year of research, reading and studying I made the decision to be fully authentic with myself. What this meant was that I could no longer subscribe to an organization that had more flawed history than what I was willing to put my trust and faith into.

It has been a journey and a huge eye opener for me. I have some family who continue to accept me and some who do not. It’s taken a toll on my marriage and we have had some tough times. We are still together though. I have learned not to discuss or bring up religion with my husband. I accept him as a person and love him. His beliefs are not my beliefs. My thoughts are that we don’t have to share the same beliefs in order to be a couple. It’s still uncertain to me if he would agree with that statement. We just don’t “go there.”

I no longer believe in patriarchy or that men are the only ones worthy to hold higher positions than women. I no longer believe that “God” only wants straight people or members of the Mormon Church in heaven, or in Mormon terms, the “Celestial Kingdom.

My entire belief system has shifted. I went from certainty to uncertainty in a very short time. I believe I’m a good person and I don’t feel a need to belong to an organized religion to prove that to myself or anyone else and if there is a God, I don’t think he/she cares either.

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What I love about Mormonism

jello

Recently I had a friend ask me what my favorite thing is about Mormonism.  I was surprised by how touched I was by the question; frankly, I’m much more used to getting the question of, “Why don’t you just leave Mormonism?”, which always stings a little and puts me on the defensive.  However, being asked about my favorite parts of Mormonism gave me the opportunity to really think (and then be effusive) about what I really love about my faith and my community.  And since talking with her, I’ve been able to really ponder further and come up with even more things that I cherish.

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To Ordain or Not to Ordain

In my recent podcast with Bill Reel on Mormon Discussions, I state that I believe ordination is imperative for women.  Among others, my reasons are

  • Allows for a saving ordinance (ordination) to be given to women – for our salvation
  • Brings parity in church governance
  • Legitimizes the priesthood power women already possess and use
  • Gives greater opportunity for the use of spiritual gifts

The discussion goes on to discuss what priesthood for women might look like in the church.  An egalitarian priesthood where women are plugged in to the existing structure? Or a separate quorum brought directly to women from the feminine divine.

I’m wondering where you, dear readers, fall on this issue:

Ordination is necessary for women?
Yes?  No?

What type of ordination resinates most with you?
Egalitarian Priesthood
Separate Quorums?
Something Else?

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