Interview with Girls Who Choose God Author Bethany Brady Spalding

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the BibleA little over a year ago Deseret Book released Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible.  I reviewed it here.  Now, authors McArthur Krishna and Bethany Spalding have published a second book, Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon.  I asked Bethany to tell us about the process of writing these books.


Tell us about where the idea for a book about women in scripture came from.

GIRLS WHO CHOOSE GOD: STORIES OF STRONG WOMEN FROM THE BOOK OF MORMONWhen my oldest daughter, Simone, was almost three years old, we were reading through a book of scripture stories together. At the end of the book, she looked up at me with puzzled eyes and said, “Mom, where are all of the stories about the girls?” Her question struck me.  I don’t think my mom had ever asked that question.  I didn’t think to ask that question until I was in my thirties.  But here, my daughter who was not yet three was already asking the gender question.  At such a young age she could already see that she wasn’t reflected in those stories.  She could already recognize the discrepancy.  It was then that I knew that Simone’s generation was different and that they would demand and deserve a new approach to teaching the gospel.  It couldn’t be boy-centric anymore.

Now I am not a writer, and I am not a scriptorian. But I am a mom, and I am a believer in change.  So when I couldn’t find an adequate book about women in the scriptures, I decided to write one.


How much time passed between that initial spark and publication?

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A Souvenir of Sobriety

This past week has been difficult for me and for most of the people I love, including my family and friends who do not necessarily identify as “left leaning,” “feminist,” or any other label that I tend to wear as a badge of honor. Like many others, my family is personally affected by the policy on children of same-sex couples. Two of my brothers are gay and joined our family in their late teens and early twenties because they were rejected by their biological families, in part, because they are gay. They have been in our family for over 20 years and to say that they have blessed the lives of our family would be a gross understatement; we have learned to love more and widen our hearts.

News of the policy, and subsequent articles, blog posts and interviews, has left me feeling sad, challenged and angry. Yet, I find myself able to attend church services and perform my calling. Yesterday I started to wonder how these two disparate ways of engaging could coexist within myself? I realized that I was employing a skill I was taught over twenty years ago when I began my road to recovery.

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New ways to navigate the Exponent

Exponent II Pinterest Collage

A collage of pins from the Exponent Pinterest Account.

An Exponent reader recently gave me some feedback on the website.  She told me that she would like to be able to see a list of all posts by a certain author, or a list of all posts in the archive by date from her phone. I have updated our top navigation menu so this is now possible.

One way that I have always liked to read the Exponent on my desktop is to peruse recent comments to see where conversations are in progress at the blog. I have now added this feature to the top menu so that browsing recent comments is available on both desktop and mobile devices.

I also added some navigation options that are new not just to mobile devices, but to the desktop version as well. For some time now, gracious volunteers have been translating Exponent posts into Spanish and French. (You can read posts by some of our translation volunteers here, here, here and here.)  We have even had some guest posts submitted in Spanish, that were posted in their original language along with an English translation. But until now, there has not been a way to view the complete collection of Spanish or French posts. Fixed.

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Why I am a Mormon Feminist…and Why I Won’t Tell You To Be One, Too


I have a conundrum that is apparently quite common among members of this community. On the one hand, I am someone with pretty liberal/unorthodox views in a conservative church. On the other hand, my professional life is populated with mostly non-Mormon progressives and I am conservative by comparison. I am too liberal for my church and too conservative for my job.

My colleagues and work friends ask me quite frequently how I can stay in the LDS church. The truth is that I do not really know. I do not have a rational explanation. I could talk about the sense of community, or the positive values, or my family’s roots in the faith. But the truth is that none of those reasons quite capture why I stay.

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To Hold In Their Hands

Last fall, I sat in a room on Yale University’s campus, and listened to Terry Tempest William read aloud from her book, When Women Were Birds. There were so many beautiful, meaningful thoughts, but the one that made my heart beat most wildly was this: “Mormon women write. This is what we do, we write for posterity, noting the daily happening of our lives. Keeping a journal is keeping a record.” I knew instinctively, that she was right, because of myself, and those who came before me.

My mind was flooded with their names: Eliza R. Snow, Louisa Green Richards, Emmaline B. Wells, and other early leaders who wrote in both their private journals and their published journal, The Woman’s Exponent; Claudia Bushman, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Judith Dushku, and other Boston area women who found their words in Harvard’s Widener Library, and carried their torch by starting the Exponent II; a myriad of other Mormon women writers and bloggers here and elsewhere.

The February before that, I sat in a room on Claremont Graduate University’s campus, and listened to Joanna Brooks affirm that Mormon women need a book. There were so many beautiful, meaningful thoughts, but the one that made my heart beat most wildly, was this:

The public conversations swirl onward and online as sometimes sort of directionless with nothing like the great orienteering tool of a book, for there is nothing like a book to hold in one’s hand and locate oneself in a tradition… Mormon women coming of age need to hold in their hands the wealth of perspective and knowledge of these last four decades of Mormon feminism… This work has value, and something about a book conveys value, so, I’m setting to work compiling a volume of essential Mormon feminist writings from 1970 to the present.

There was no way I could have known it then, but Joanna would later ask Hannah Wheelwright and I to help her co-edit the volume. It was a massive undertaking of love, and work, and patience, and community. (We ourselves asked for lots, and lots of help from our sisters, and received it.) The book is here now, and Mormon feminists are holding it in their hands. It is among the happiest, most beautiful sights.

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Beginning Conversations with Children about Pornography

I didn’t think about pornography much as a teenager or young adult. It was difficult to find when I was growing up. Internet browsers weren’t around (really) when I living in my parents’ home, and I liked to keep rules…no way I was going to look at someone’s yucky magazines.

I was well into my 20’s at my first exposure to pornography. The more I talk to others, the more I realize how rare that is. An innocent search of the comic book characters, X-Men, can shock a poor 10-year-old, and the misspelling of “boobs,” may be all that protects a curious 7-year-old. (“We just couldn’t figure out why there were like 10 entries in the search engine for “big bob.” Who is Big Bob?!)

So, I’ve had hard time figuring out where and when I start to teach my children about avoiding pornography and what to do when they see it. But, more importantly, how do I help them not feel shame, thus making it more likely for them to hide it?

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