Announcement: Exponent II 2015 Retreat to Feature Fiona Givens

We are excited to announce that our keynote speaker for the Exponent II 2015 retreat in September is going to be Fiona Givens. Please take a look at her bio below. We plan to open registration for this year’s retreat in early June. We’ll be posting more specific dates on the website, blog and Facebook group soon.

fiona givens

Fiona Givens was born in Nairobi, educated in British convent schools, and converted to the LDS church in Frankfurt. She graduated from the University of Richmond with degrees in French and German, and received an M.A. in European History while co-raising the last of her six children.  Fiona directed the French Language programme at Patrick Henry High School, in Ashland, Virginia. Besides education, she has worked in translation services, as a lobbyist, and as communications director for a non-profit. Her writings appear in Exponent II, LDS Living and Journal of Mormon History. Fiona is a frequent speaker on podcasts and at conferences from Time out for Women to Sunstone and Women’s Retreats. A longtime collaborator in the books of her husband, Fiona and Terryl have recently co-authored two books: The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life and The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith.   Fiona is the grateful mother of six children and currently resides in Virginia with Terryl and Andrew’s dog, Zoe

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Relief Society Lesson 3: Freedom of Choice, An Eternal Principle

woman sunsetLa liberté de choisir, un principe éternel/ Traduction en français/Click for French Translation
Traducción española por Denisse Gómez/Click for Spanish Translation

I wrote a lesson plan on this exact topic 7 years ago, so I’m going to heavily borrow from that earlier lesson, particularly in the beginning section.

Introduction

I like brainstorming questions to start out lessons. I think it gets people comfortable and immediately involved. So I might ask, what comes to mind when you hear the word agency?What associations do you have with it? You can list some of their ideas on the board. When you or someone else brings up some of these ideas (choice, respect, Christ, plan of salvation, action, etc.) throughout the lessons, you can refer to the list.

I might go into the root of the word. It’s from the Latin verb, ‘ago’ which means do, drive, discuss, or act. It’s a word that is clearly about acting, about doing. There’s nothing passive about it. We are the agents, the actors, the subjects of our lives. It’s up to us to use our agency wisely, to proactively make good decisions.

Section 1: Agency is an Eternal Principle

This section talks about the War in Heaven, in which God rejects Satan’s anti-choice plan in favor of one that honors agency. You might want to read through some verses about the war in heaven and ask your class: What insights do you gain about agency from the story? If you need to be more specific, you can narrow it a bit. What do you learn about God as our parent and agency? What do they learn about spirit children and agency? (This might seem a bit simplistic, and you may have to prime the pump by first talking about an insight you gain from the story, but I actually think there’s a lot to say here.)

These are some possible ideas that the class (or you) might want to bring up:

- that even God lost 1/3 of his children due to the bad choices – the agency – of those children. It strikes me that given the fact that God himself wasn’t able to succeed with a good number of his children, it’s rather a miracle that any of us succeed to any degree with ours.

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Relief Society Lesson 2: Pray Always

Due to a scheduling snafu (my bad) this lesson was due to go up next week, but I’ve learned that many Relief Societies are teaching this lesson tomorrow. So, I wanted to throw up a few thoughts, quotes, and links gathered from the collected input of Exponent bloggers on the subject of prayer, in the hopes that something here might be useful. We would love your input as well! Please comment if you have ideas on how to teach this lesson. Let’s use this post as a chance to share thoughts and approaches.

EmilyCC suggests that a great place to go for thoughts about how to teach on prayer is the Exponent archives. This is what I’ve found.

Rachel:

I read the manual version today, and was interested in ETB’s remark that “After making a request through prayer, we have a responsibility to assist in its being granted. We should listen. Perhaps while we are on our knees, the Lord wants to counsel us.” It reminded me of something the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said about the lily in the field:

“But the lily who is the teacher is profound. It does not enter into conversation with thee, it keeps silent, and by keeping silent it would signify to thee that thou art before God, that thou shouldst remember that thou art before God—that thou also in seriousness and truth mightest become silent before God.”

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A Give-Away in Honor of Emma Lou Thayne’s Life

Many of us at Exponent II have been touched by Emma Lou Thayne’s wisdom and insight over the years. To celebrate her life, we’ve decided to do some give-aways:

  • one used hard copy of Thayne’s and Ulrich’s wonderful book, All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir
  • two kindle versions of All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir
  • one one-year subscription to the Exponent II magazine
  • one-two-year subscription to the Exponent II magazine

To enter yourself in this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post. If you are at all familiar with Emma Lou Thayne’s work, please leave a comment (it can be brief) reflecting on her writing, insight, how she impacted you, etc.  (We would like to compile some of these comments into an article for the magazine or just simply to send to the family as a token of how Emma Lou has touched so many people. ) If you are not familiar with her work, but would like to be, just leave a “please enter me in the give-away” comment. 

We will be selecting winners for these give-aways using the very scientific method of selecting names out of a hat. We’ll contact you via the email address you use when you sign in to comment.

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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.

 

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