A Book Review (Of Sorts): Way Below the Angels

Craig Harline

Not very long ago, I read this post, that made me want to read this book, Way Below the Angels: the pretty clearly troubled but not even close to tragic confessions of a real live Mormon missionary. Even shorter ago, I did.

While it isn’t a woman’s story, I still feel that it is worth reviewing here, in this women’s story space for two reasons. 1) The author, Craig Harline, does a fairly good job pointing out when women’s stories, voices, and presence are forgotten.

One example of this is when his Salt Lake Mission Home President tells a mixed group of Elders and Sisters that they are to dress like “local businessmen.” Another is when his going-Belgium group was moved to the Rexburg, Idaho LTM, and they held a nightly devotional with the older going-Belgium missionaries, that fully excluded the Sisters because it was in an Elder’s dorm room. The saddest examples took place in Belgium. The first question they asked women who answered the door was if they could speak to their husband. Not because they weren’t allowed to speak to women, but because they were taught that they should focus on the man. A woman named Lieve demanded focus, because she had a dream and a wish to be baptized. She also had a husband who did not share that dream or wish. He was required to sign a permission slip, which he did. But then he took it back. Lieve learned that if her husband had the dream and wish, her signature would not be needed.*

2) Harline’s ofttimes funny/ofttimes insightful words created a space for me to remember my own mission story.

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Digging Deeper: The Future of Mormon Feminism Part 2

Click here for Part 1

Waking Up

I vividly remember an experience with my youngest daughter who was around four-years-old at the time. I was using public transportation to get to and from campus where Sara attended preschool while I attended classes. A younger mother on the bus held her baby. The baby’s complexion was dramatically darker than his mom’s. She nuzzled her child, talked baby talk, and saturated that baby with maternal love. Sara looked at the scene then back at me several times with a quizzical expression on her face. She wrinkled her brow and looked at me again. I said, “Are you wondering about the baby’s skin color?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, the mommy is white and the baby is black. The baby’s dad is probably black.” Sara’s expression changed only slightly before she shifted the conversation in an unexpected direction and slammed my white, Utah Mormon brain up against a wall of generational prejudice. She said, “No! The mom’s skin is pink and the baby’s skin is brown.”

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Digging Deeper: The Future of Mormon Feminism Part 1

Part one of two posts.

 

 Introduction

Maybe you won’t identify with this story. Maybe by the grace of God you escaped the curse of cultural or racial prejudice that affects both a person of privilege and a victim of racism. Maybe you were raised in an egalitarian environment and are truly free from such burdens. If so, you are among the lucky ones.

Others may find commonality with the thoughts and experiences I’ll share, especially women who grew up in Caucasian communities. And who, by osmosis, inherited cultural and racial biases from home, school, and church life. I see racism as a disease in America and I hope others will agree that by extension, racism is a part of the mainstream North American LDS communities where many of us live. (Perhaps some of our sisters abroad will share their experiences from elsewhere around the world in the comments below.)

I could try telling stories here about some of my sisters of color, but I don’t really know their stories well enough. Besides, they can do that for themselves. We would do well to seek out our sisters and listen carefully to their words.

My job is to tell my own story with as much accuracy and integrity as possible. So, I’ll start there, hoping it will lead to an increased awareness of how some of us can reach toward greater inclusion of all our culturally diverse sisters in conversations and as friends in our day-to-day lives. I feel moved to invite white sisters to actively acknowledge and champion the concerns and causes of Mormons of color as our own (feminist or not) or, I fear, we will ultimately fail in our mission as Mormon feminists.

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Virtual Oases

Here are some links to check out!

Did you attend the Women’s meeting last weekend? Would your 15-year-old son or brother listen to Hermione talk about feminism?  Tell us in the comments!

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We’re Number One! I mean, #1,029,545.

I recently ran global popularity ranking statistics from Alexa.com for some of my favorite and least favorite Mormon websites. (I’m not going to name which is which.)

(But you can probably guess.)

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Mormon websites because, in spite of evidence to the contrary, I don’t spend all my time on the Internet and so I am not familiar with every website in existence.  Also, websites with very small followings are not ranked by Alexa.  The rankings are constantly changing, so if anyone wants to check my work today, you are likely to find different results. Alexa rankings are based on web popularity over three months. I happened to test them on a date which did not include a General Conference within the previous three months, which may make Mormon websites appear less popular in general. The most popular websites have low rankings.

Not surprisingly at all, LDS.org was the most popular Mormon website.  I was surprised, however, that the commercial website LDS Living edged out Mormon.org for Number Two.

Meridian Magazine and Ordain Women were neck and neck,

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Some Feminist-friendly Finds on Netflix

Commander in Chief

Commander in ChiefCan you envision the day when the United States of America finally has a female president? If you can’t, Commander in Chief should help. Geena Davis won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role as a female president in this series, which unfortunately aired for only one season. Her character faces domestic and international crises that would be expected of any world leader, as well as some uniquely female opportunities to counter sexism.

Bomb Girls

Bomb GirlsWe often talk about our foremothers who paved the way for women in the workforce by working in factories during World War II, personified by the iconic Rosie the Riveter. Yet, it never even occurred to me to ask, “What the heck does a riveter do?” My unasked question is answered by Bomb Girls, a fictional series set in a Canadian World War II era bomb factory “manned” mostly by women.

Secrets of Mary Magdalene

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