March 2015 General Women’s Session: Bonnie L. Oscarson

Bonnie L. Oscarson, General President of the Young Women’s Organization.

It is no small task to prepare an address for a worldwide sisterhood with varying experiences and privileges, let alone one tasked with defending the Church’s doctrine and teachings on the Family. There were some powerful moments in this talk where long past due truths were acknowledged and new possibilities were presented to women. But there were also times when President Oscarson fell back into the tired rhetoric so often present in Church discourse on the Family.

President Oscarson started her talk by telling the story of  Marie Madeline Cardon, an early Italian convert to the Latter-day Church. This is a remarkable story of a young woman who bravely stared down an angry mob of men and powerfully rebuked them. She claimed power from God and protected the missionaries and fellow believers in her family’s home. I am thankful that this story has been added to our record and that there is now one more example of a woman assertively standing up for herself and her beliefs. These are the role models our young women need.

I was also immensely grateful that President Oscarson openly acknowledged that life often presents unforeseen challenges and that many women do not live the “ideal” that the Proclamation on the Family puts forward. While I personally find the statement that we must “teach to the Lord’s pattern” reductive, I know there are many who are comforted when their individual experience is honestly recognized and not disappeared into a sanitized ideal. And amen to Oscarson’s admonition to plan for contingencies. While I hate to lump education and a satisfying career into the “Plan B” category, too many women have and continue to be hurt by the seemingly official sanctioning of only one life path.

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You can’t be what you can’t see

the-first-vision-82823-printMy seven year old nephew recently announced to his mother that there are more boys than girls on the earth. My sister asked,”Why do you think that?” He explained,

“Because Heavenly Father and Jesus are boys, there must be more boys on the earth.”

My sister said she wasn’t sure if there were more boys than girls, that the numbers were probably near equal. She also reminded him that we have a Mother in Heaven and she is part of our Heavenly Family. My nephew said,

“Yeah, but Heavenly Father and Jesus have powers and stuff.”

Not yet defeated, my sister explained that Heavenly Mother is powerful too, and we probably have sisters up there in heaven that we just don’t know about. Then my nephew wanted to know if he could pray to Heavenly Mother. My sister said, “Well, we’ve been asked not too, but you can think about her and remember her always.”

At the age of seven my nephew understands in the simplest terms that male is more.

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An Announcement from April Young Bennett

temple recommendAs a condition of renewing my temple recommend, my new stake president has required me to resign from the board of Ordain Women and, with the exception of my Ordain Women profile, take down posts I have written that raise the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. I do not believe that temple recommends should be used as leverage to censor ideas or silence advocacy, but if I hadn’t complied, I would have missed my brother’s recent temple wedding. Choosing between following the dictates of my conscience and being present for a family wedding has been heartbreaking. In the end, I concluded that while others may take my place as an author or an advocate, no one can replace me in my role as my brother’s sister.

The 11 posts I have deleted were published here at the blog site of Exponent II, which has provided a safe forum for Mormon women to share their opinions since 1974. This is the first time an Exponent blogger has deleted posts due to the mandate of a priesthood leader. Some of the deleted posts literally raised the question of women’s ordination simply by posting an opinion poll question for Exponent readers, but others, such as Ordination is the Answer to Correlation, Confirming our Hope: Women and Priesthood, and Shouldn’t It Be Obvious? How Women Hold and Exercise the Priesthood Today, represent months of scripture study and analysis of church history and the teachings of living apostles and auxiliary leaders.

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Moving Day

exponent jan 2I spent many hours over the New Year’s holiday helping my son move into yet another college apartment. This time he is in a tiny studio without the roommate riffraff, a choice highlighted by bright windows and his own kitchen. His mood vacillated between excitement and trepidation. Mine was alternately gung ho and over it. This is his fifth living space in two and half years. Each time it seems to get more complicated. Moving is always difficult, but why are we not better at it?

Early twenty-somethings live in a scattered universe. My son was abroad for the Fall quarter and his belongings are equally far flung – in the garage, in every corner of his “also-known-as-the-guest” bedroom, in a giant duffle bag. He has begun to look at our possessions with shifting perspective. What was ridiculous and parental last year is quite useful and necessary now as it disappears into his pile. Things get lost, or are given away, or wear out. Just getting organized, gathering what will be needed to survive, takes days and accumulating charges. Then there is a small car to load, stairs and hallways to navigate, and my growing anxiety about his safety as we witness a rather dodgy business exchange on the sidewalk in front of his building.

I was consoled as we hung pictures on his walls. Any person who uses a level to align a poster with mounting tape can take care of himself. He cooks like his father, spreadsheets like his mother, and has a fierce, brilliant spirit all his own. He creatively arranged his books, clothes, and utensils in ingeniously compact ways. His confidence was contagious. He is on his own again, ready for adventure. I began to think this whole moving over New Year’s Day was a grand metaphor to embrace. Why should I need a class syllabus to feel the same surge of energy? Why can’t my mental space feel like a new lease? Why can’t each new year hold the potential of this new apartment?

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Relief Society Lesson: The Life and Ministry of Ezra Taft Benson

A challenge with all of the Presidents of the Church manuals is to relate male life and leadership experiences to the life of the sisters in a local and modern day Relief Society.  The overview of the life of President Benson provided in the manual contains sufficient information for multiple lessons. In an attempt to manage the extensive material and relate it to the lives of women I have highlighted favorite stories from most subsections of the overview and have also provided links and summaries to supplemental lesson resources that provide additional insight into the marriage partnership of Flora and Ezra Benson.

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Have you seen any LDS Christmas movies?

LDS Christmas DVD CollectionA couple Christmases ago, I polled Exponent readers about their favorite Mormon Christmas movies and got a lot of blank stares. Apparently, most families don’t watch Christmas movies as voraciously as mine does. So this time, instead of asking about favorites, I’ll just ask if you’ve seen any of these at all. Check all that apply.

Poll: (If you are reading from a feed reader, you will need to click through to the original post to view and participate in the poll.)

And here is one, so that if you haven’t seen it you can remedy that now.
A Gift to the World

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