We are pleased to announce that the Mormon Women Project guest edited issue of Exponent II is now available online and hard copies will be mailed this weekend for current subscribers and next weekend for people finishing up their Christmas shopping.
This issue had beautiful artwork and essays that speak to the mission that MWP and EXII share–the importance of Mormon women sharing their stories.
See founder and Editor-in-Chief, Neylan McBaine’s Letter from the Editor below and take a moment to listen to her interview on the podcast series, A Thoughtful Faith, to hear more about her work with MWP.
Why is it important to tell Mormon women’s stoires? This is the question that reverberates in my mind every time I hit “Publish” to share another awe-inspiring woman’s story on the Mormon Woman Project. After publishing over 150 interviews at www.mormonwomen.com since January 2010 with LDS women from around the world, I feel like I am still just starting to catch a glimpse of why it is foundatioal to our identities as Mromon women to read other’s stories and share our own.
My own desire to share my story blossomed in 2006 when I was home with small children for the first time after leaving a career in Silicon Valley, supporting my husband in a graduate program and finally having the cognitive space to explore who I wanted to be as an adult. As the only child of an opera singer, growing up Mormon in New York City and then attending Yale, my experiences were often intriguing to others ad I began to write them down. But it seems to me that any memoirist must grow tired of reliving her own life at some point, and when I reached that point myself, I turned to the lives of others.
The bedrock of my identity as a Mormon woman was formed from the examples of my mother and other women of my youth, and in searching for my own adult identity, I turned to them. The Mormon Women Project launched with 18 interviews, most of which were cultivated from women I had known and admired for years. In the process of interviewing them and asking soul-searching questions about their motivations, their choices, their relationships with Heavenly Father, I found in their stories, a spiritual creation for what I myself wanted to be.
In the account of the Creation in Moses 3, we read about how, i the process of forming every living thing, the Lord God created all things “spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” In fact, this predicating spiritual creation happened “according to my word,” meaning the Lord conceived of the creation and spoke of its existence before the physical creation occurred. There was enough power in the Lord’s words to bring matter into existence.
Stories are the way we as Mormon women spiritually create our identities before we go off to live them in time and space. They are the cognitive tools we use to construct visions in our minds of what we want our futures to hold, who we want to be, before making those visions part of our external realities. What woman hasn’t had the experience of hearing about another’s journey to a far off land or family tradition, and not noted the spiritual pull to make that same journey or tradition part of her own actuality? Or, if we reject the experiences of others as things we don’t want for ourselves, that too is part of chiseling away at a cognitive model of what we want our spiritual identities to be. The clearer that image, the more effectively we will mold it into reality.
But mine is, of course, only one answer to why it is important to tell Mormon women’s stories. Each contribution to this issue answers the question in its own unique way. And the answers are as varied as the contributors themselves. For some women, the stories of their ancestors have very literally molded their identities through names or genetic composition. For others, the stories help them gain empathy for others or overcome social fears. For still others, stories are a way to process the pains and joys of our own experiences, giving us the cognitive distance we often need to maintain emotional and spiritual health.
Why is telling Mormon women’s stories important to you, our readers? Email us your answers at mwpeditorATgmailDOTcom and we will post your answers on the Mormon Women Project. We’ll look forward to hearing from you!
The value of storytelling is limitless.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
The Mormon Women Project