Book Review: Fresh Courage Take

Fresh Courage Take

I can’t remember when I first heard about Fresh Courage Take, but can remember when I first knew that I would read it. It was earlier this summer, sitting beside a Provo splash-pad with one of the contributors, Ashley Mae, listening to her talk about renaming her faith crisis, and watching our children play. Ashley’s is such a clear, thoughtful voice. I suspected (correctly) that if it was included, the book would be clear and thoughtful, too.

She is joined by eleven other authors–eleven other women–who wrote down their truths and handed them to us, bravely, vulnerably, and strongly. Each one tells the smallest (slash biggest) part of what it means for her to be a Mormon women, as well as some of the courageous choices she has made in claiming ownership of her actions, beliefs, and story.

As we might expect from a group of twelve women, those stories and truths do not always look the same, and sometimes look quite different. This is as it should be. This is the strength of the book.

Read More

Anxiety in Speaking in Sacrament Meeting

Years ago, in preparing for a Young Women “Values” themed sacrament meeting, I mentioned to a member of the Young Women presidency that I was not sure what to speak about. “It doesn’t really matter,” she assured me. You know what the value is that you’ve been assigned to present, so just tell us a story about it. You’ll do great anyway. We start children giving talks in primary, so by the time you are a (14 year old) Mia Maid, you’ve been speaking in public for a decade! This is why Mormons are great public speakers. You’ll do fine!”

 

At the time, her words did calm me. I thought, “I can do this! I’ve been giving talks for 10 years!” I had not been afraid of giving speeches on the debate team or in English class, and as a rule, wasn’t nervous but for that last burst of excited anticipwoman-podiumation that strikes me just before the words came out. But church talks were and are different. To be clear, I could do them. But they made me more nervous than addressing almost every other kind of audience.

 

As the years passed, and even to this day, when I speak in public- (the thing that is listed as the greatest fear, even over death)  I remind myself that I can do this because “I learned to not be afraid of speaking when I was in primary.” I’ve presented at conferences and meetings and even been disappointed at the smallness of the audience upon occasion; I am a good public speaker and I know it. But. When church speaking assignments came…. the butterflies and anxiety started. I became cranky and argue with my family. I fret and fast and pray for calm. No matter the topic, no matter how well I know it or how many hours I spent in preparation, I became anxiety-ridden. So why is that?

Read More

Announcement: Exponent II Mormon Feminist Midrash Short Story Contest

Deborah under the palm tree “Deborah Under the Palm Tree” by Adriene Cruz. adriencruz.com

Exponent II is excited to announce a short story contest of Mormon feminist midrash. Midrash is a Jewish tradition of spinning out a new story based on scripture, filling in narrative gaps or retelling the scripture from a new point of view. Stories can help resolve tension or evoke questions as they ask the reader to consider possible meanings, even as the fictionalized accounts are not meant to be taken literally.

For our short story contest, we are inviting writers to tell us the missing stories of women from the scriptures. Give us the perspective of Deborah, Huldah, Dinah, Miriam, the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, Sariah, Laman’s wife, or Emma Smith. We want to hear their voices. We want to know how they came to hear the voice of God and how they made choices in their lives. What were their childhoods like? How were they personally influenced by the great and terrible things that happened to them in the scripture stories? What did they think about in private moments? Let your imagination reveal new interpretations and meanings of scriptural stories and help us to hear the women of the scriptures.

Many of the stories we receive will be printed in our Winter 2015 issue of Exponent II and the winner of the contest will receive $150. Submissions should be between 800-3000 words and the deadline is November 2. Please send them to editor@exponentii.org. We look forward to reading your stories.

“I want midrash to give a voice to women in the Bible who have had nearly none. To be an advocate for biblical figures over whom the ages have kicked considerable dust, and to imagine their lives.”
– Rosen, Norma. Biblical Women Unbound: Counter-Tales. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996.

Read More

“What’s your plan when you get home?”

Girl with Books

I always ask missionaries about their schooling. Did they attend college or trade school before serving a mission? Are they planning to go back? What are they planning to study and why? I know that’s a lot of pressure for a young person who’s supposed to be 100 percent dedicated to service for 18 to 24 months, but it’s the luck of the draw, kid: I prep students for the SAT, and my husband is a college professor.

Read More

Mormon Women Write

Book Cover

Approximately three months ago, I packed my bags and my baby and hopped on a plane to California to say a few words about the book, Mormon Feminism: Essential Writingsand what coediting it with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright has meant to me. Many of my words are about writing, and legacies, and memorials. Others are about baby nap-times, and gratitude, and resolution. I quote authors, philosophers, and women I love, and I get teary. It is hard not to be moved by the intertwined, brave, lived history of Mormon feminism.

Thanks to the magic of technology (and the good folks at my Claremont Graduate University), you can watch my remarks here. If you listen especially carefully, you may even hear my babe pronounce, “Mama.” (A shoutout to my kind classmate and colleague who cared for her in the back.)

Read More

Sacred Music: Eliza R Snow and A Mother There

Eliza and MotherThis image is one that will be in the upcoming EXPONENT II COLORING BOOK (look for it later this year).

It is Eliza Roxcy Snow writing her famous hymn: “O My Father”.  Eliza had many roles and callings in the early church including 2nd President of the Relief Society, sister to the Prophet Lorenzo Snow, plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and she was called the Prophetess of the Church by some.  She was also known throughout the region as a poet.

“In Nauvoo, she gained distinction as a Mormon poet [through her] featured [work] in local newspapers … and was called “Zion’s Poetess”.  She wrote 10 of the hymns in our current hymn book including some of my favorites:

  • How Great the Wisdom and the Love
  • In Our Lovely Deseret (sung with great fervor by the Elders on my mission)
  • The Time is Far Spent (another beloved song from mission days)
  • Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses

And, of course, the hymn she is perhaps most known for: O My Father.  This is a beautiful hymn written in 1845, a year after Joseph’s death, directed to our heavenly parents.  This direction is precicely what makes it so well known – it names both our Father and our Mother in Heaven.

Today on Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to both of these women who represent different kinds of mothers.

1. Heavenly Mother created our spirits and gave us life in a heavenly sense. In an earthly reflection of this creation, our mother’s here give life to our physical bodies. I honor the mother of my spirit and the mother of my body.  My earthly mother is good and kind and caring.  She gave me my body and has stayed near me on life’s journey to guide me and love me. This gift has come at a personal sacrifice to her.  Earthly mothers everywhere give of their body, blood, and heart to bring us into the world. A beautiful calling.

2. Eliza Snow did not bare children, but she has been a women of great influence and mentored many.  She used her spiritual gifts well and did great things for the Kingdom of God. This emulation of womanhood can also be called Mother. I honor Eliza, this pioneer Mother who went before me.  I also honor the many women who mentored me and loved me now. I consider them mothers to my spiritual journey.

Today,  I love both “the mother who bore me and the many mothers who bare with me.”

Read More