Chapter 1: The Great Commandment—Love the Lord
Click for French Translation/Traduction en français
Click for Spanish Translation/Traducción española por Denisse Gómez
President Benson defined loving God as, “To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.
The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one’s life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord,” said Alma, “yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36).”
A recent video mashup of male LDS leaders providing instructions to LDS women on how to be LDS women, left me longing for gender parity in General Conference speakers. The ratio of two female speakers to 36 male speakers documented here is devastating to those like me that hunger for messages from Heavenly Parents spoken in a female voice of leadership.
An English speaking woman of modest means or a non-English speaker is restricted to the meager rations of LDS female leader voices doled out in increments of two every six months (with a once a year bonus of three additional talks by women in the Women’s Session of General Conference). That’s an annual total of seven talks by women translated in a variety of languages and available for free. Half the membership of my church is represented by seven voices in a year!
Those privileged as English language speakers with money and means may hear from the female auxiliary leaders and some other LDS female role models at BYU’s Women’s Conference sponsored by BYU and the Relief Society. Last year over 11,000 women attended. Early registration for 2015 will cost $52 for two days of predominantly female voices with additional costs for transportation and lodging ($92 for a stay in Helaman/Heritage Halls). That’s half a million US dollars in registration fees for 11,000 attendees! I wasn’t part of the elect 11,000 this year, but I caught most of the talks for free online.
Thank goodness I speak English! My Spanish speaking grandmother struggles to understand spoken English, but has no trouble with a written English language copy of a talk. Sadly, no free transcripts of the 2014 BYU Women’s Conference are available for printing at home. You might want to pay the $24.99 to buy a copy of the 2014 talks from Deseret Book. I think she’d really like this gift, but this is not what I want for Christmas.Read More
A few years ago, my friend called me up and told me about the beautiful testimony meeting she had just experienced, that left her feeling the spirit more strongly than ever before. The one detail I remember now is that a lesbian sister spoke from her pain and her faith. I was surprised to discover later that the same meeting that meant so much to my friend, caused other members to walk out of the chapel, audibly voicing their distaste. I thought of these things again after a somewhat unfortunate series of events re-demonstrated that words that may be a balm for some may be a source of discomfort, fear, or anger for others. It has made me wonder if this will always be the case, and how a real unity–allowing for real differences–may be developed. It also made me remember something that I wrote here before, about belonging.
In that previous post, I wrote about a friend who was confident of God’s love, but didn’t quite feel like she belonged in her ward, because she was over a certain age, with a PhD, but without a husband or child. I wrote too, about another dear person to me, who had a husband and many children, but similarly felt the not-belonging feelings because she was older than many in her ward. And then I wrote about me, and how I have felt the feeling before, too, including during the period when I biked to church alone, and didn’t know who I would sit by, because my husband was in another state, with a relative who was not well. In my own instance, a dear women literally made room for me by scooting over, and inviting me to sit with her family. I felt the welcome.
So when I was recently asked to speak to the women in my ward about fellowshipping, I wanted to speak to all of these things. There are a myriad of reasons why someone might not feel like they belong. One of them is that they may feel like their truest thoughts and feelings don’t belong. It is why I was so grateful for President Uchtdorf’s remarks in his talk, “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth” at this last General Conference.
The printed version includes the subject heading “There Is No Litmus Test.”Read More
Linda K. Burton, General President of the Relief Society, opened this Women’s Meeting as the first speaker – and set the theme of “Temples” which continued throughout the meeting.
She discussed being prepared for the temple – starting with Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins: five of whom were prepared for Christ’s coming with oil in their lamps and five of whom did not prepare and were not ready to welcome Christ, the bridegroom. President Burton noted (and I agree with her) that gaining symbolic “oil” is a slow and consistent, life-long process.
She continues with the suggestion that the home is one place where we can prepare to enter the temple: creating a home environment that is peaceful and full of the spirit (like the temple) acclimates us to “things of the spirit”. We, therefore, will feel comfortable in the temple, allowing our spirit to receive revelation from heaven. She emphasizes the importance of saving ordinances.
President Burton focuses most of her examples and her quotes on the Savior, which I appreciate. Throughout her Presidency she has focused on Christ and that has impressed me.
While I found her personal stories in this particular talk were simplistic and her language overly “flowery”, I thought her message came across and was positive: prepare now and each day to know the Savior and to be ready to partake in the saving ordinances of the temple.Read More
Here are some links to check out!
- The Exponent II turned 40! Our friend Tona writes about the festivities. And for the first time in Boston retreat history, a reporter was allowed in to portions of the event. Here’s what was published in the Botson Globe!
- The General Women’s Meeting of the church was held last weekend. Huge news — for the first time in history, a woman of color gave a prayer at a session of General Conference! (Sister Dorah Mkhabela from the YW General Board) Reporters and press were barred from attending the meeting in person this time. For anyone who did attend in person, did you stop by the display of Kathleen Peterson’s artwork of the “Girls who choose God” illustrations, hanging in the Conference Center? Julie M. Smith from T&S highlights the meeting nicely.
- The Mormon Messages video about the over-extended mom in “You Never Know” circulated Facebook recently, as did some well-thought out critiques and analysis. Make sure you read what Catherine from Segullah had to say about it.
- Ordain Women will undertake a local action this weekend for the Priesthood session of general conference.
- Remember the frilly poster about the Europe Area Women’s meeting a while back? Some nice words, some not-so-nice words shared there. Jana Riess writes about it and Rune from fMh cartoons about it.
- Neylan McBaine’s book, Women at Church, is out and making headlines. Have you read it, or shared it with anyone? This week she shares a thought-provoking post about the low graduation rates for females in Utah.
- UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame!) creates a buzz in her speech calling for male allies in the feminist cause and launches the HeForShe campaign. A 15-year-old boy’s positive response went viral in the Sunday Telegraph. Is “feminist” a dirty word? Joseph Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t think so.
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!Read More