Not asking Permission: Reflections on the 40th Anniversary Exponent II Issue

“Ecstasy” by Maxfield Parrish

What I say is that women should not ask permission, they should just act.”  – Claudia Bushman in the upcoming anniversary Exponent II magazine

I love this idea that Claudia Bushman articulates in her article in the coming 40th anniversary issue of Exponent II. In one of the very first conferences I participated in with Claudia Bushman seven years ago, she hosted a discussion about women in the church. One of the points she made at that conference was similar — that women should come up with ideas and carry them out, working outside of church-sponsored forums. Think that the church should be more involved in humanitarian work, Claudia asked? Then start a humanitarian organization. Think that we need more books that highlight Mormon women’s voices? Write them yourself. Stop looking to the institutional church to carry out these projects and do them yourself. Make your own opportunities for leadership, vision, and community.

This advice resonates with me. While I would love the institutional church to change its ways and create more inclusive practices for women — and I have certainly picked my battles to create more visible roles for women in my ward  and the church at large– I also love this liberating vision that Claudia sets forth. That we act on our consciences, without always seeing the need to ask for permission from church leaders.

Read More

New Editors Announced for Exponent II

Margaret and Pandora In 2009, Aimee Evans Hickman and Emily Clyde Curtis assumed the roles of Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor for the Exponent II magazine. Their incredible work and vision revitalized and refreshed the paper, resulting in a new life for the magazine and a strengthening of the entire Exponent organization.  With the 40th Anniversary double issue now going to press and the Spring 2015 issue underway, Aimee and Emily are stepping down from their positions. We are so grateful to them for their thoughtful leadership and the sacrifices they have made to provide a forum for Mormon women’s voices.

Exponent II is excited to announce its future editors: Margaret Olsen Hemming will step in as the Editor-in-Chief and Pandora Brewer will be the new Managing Editor.  Margaret worked briefly as Exponent II’s layout editor and has been the art editor since 2010.  In addition to the work she has done for Exponent II (which has also included fundraising and other board responsibilities), Margaret has a BA in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University. She is also an AmeriCorps alumna, and previously worked for the International Rescue Committee and the Academy for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University. She is currently raising three young children.  Her guest posts on the Exponent blog can be read here, here, here, here, and here.

Pandora Brewer has been involved with Exponent II since 1990. She has written and edited for the magazine and is a recurring presenter at the annual retreats.  Professionally, Pandora has worked for Crate and Barrel since 1989 and has held multiple positions in stores and at the corporate level. She is currently heading up a Process Improvement Team for the company. Pandora is a proud mom to two grown-up boys and the hungry wife of culinary-inclined husband. She is a perma-blogger for Exponent.  Her posts can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Exponent II is delighted that its legacy of standing on “the dual platforms of Mormonism and Feminism,” as iterated in its first issue in 1974, will continue with its new editors.  To subscribe to the quarterly magazine or to read more about Exponent II’s mission, visit www.exponentii.org.

Read More

March 2015 General Women’s Session: Carole M. Stephens

Sister Carole Stephens framed her talk around the children’s song, “The Family is of God,” and she based much of her talk on portions from the Proclamation on the Family. One thing I particularly appreciated about the talk was that she twice referred to Heavenly Parents. I am someone who craves acknowledgment and discussion of our Heavenly Mother, so it was very refreshing to hear Sister Stephens refer to our divine Parents.

Early in her talk, Sister Stephens acknowledged that we “try to create traditional families,” but that belonging to the family of God is not contingent on marital, financial, or social status. I think that message — that there is a place for everyone and that we all should feel a sense of belonging, despite different life circumstances — is expansive and hopeful, and I welcome such messages. I am glad that she chose not to dwell on this idea of trying “to create traditional families,” since that seems potentially alienating to those very many women who don’t belong to such families.

I also appreciated her honesty in acknowledging that she has not been tested and tried in the ways that so many other women have — she hasn’t lived through the death of a child, divorce, single parenthood, same gender attraction, infertility, or abuse.

Read More

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

Read More

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.

Read More