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

Retreat Forward

treesRecently I attended one of the several Mormon Feminist retreats that happen around the US. I have been to different retreats off and on for twenty five years now, placing me somewhere in the middle of women who pioneered such programs and women who are just discovering them. In each, the first guideline is to keep the details of what is shared in trust, drawing a kind of sacred circle around the discussions and personal moments. This allows everyone to participate with openness in a safe environment. I have no intention of breaking this promise, but I do want to share some general reflections on why I love these experiences and how I believe they propel me forward throughout the year, at least to the next one when I get filled with energy once again.

Telling people I am going – For many of you, telling people you have signed up for one of these retreats can result in the “tut-tut” of disapproval and fear for your wayward soul. For me, it is an opportunity to share a part of myself that I don’t express very often. I do have to endure the inevitable “Mormon Feminist” oxymoron joke (I weather this with the patience of a girl who has lived with the juxtaposition of “Pandora” and “Box” for fifty years), but after this ritual of obligatory chuckling, we often begin a more multi-dimensional conversation than we may have had before. I reveal my continued affiliation with remarkable women and my desire for spiritual connection. The other person will often open up about their religious activity and their desire to participate in more meaningful ways. Sharing my plans invites additional layers to the relationship and to our understanding of each other.

Seeing old friends – I have friends that I only see at retreats. After the whoops of excitement and hugs and marveling at how beautiful we remain year after year, we pick up the narrative exactly where we left off. I feel closer to the women I spend forty-two hours with each year than those I see every day. There is an intensity to our bond that telescopes a universe of affection into a walk to and from the cabin. These are the people who know me best and hold my history and love me anyway.  

Read More

Introducing our Heavenly Mother’s Day Series

CW: Suicidal thoughts

I moved to Oakland five years ago. One of my first outings in the Bay Area was a gathering at Carol Lynn Pearson’s house where she gave each of us copies of her play, Mother Wove the Morning. It sat on my shelf for months because I didn’t want to open up Heavenly Mother-less wound I had.

When I finally read it, half a year later, I discovered that I was right in that it was an intense experience. I loved reading it and yet I ached. I wanted a relationship with Heavenly Mother, but I didn’t know how. Unfortunately the bigger question for me was “why.” Why should I have a relationship with Her?

Read More

The 5th Sunday Project

the 5th sunday projectIn today’s world of internet communication, we Mormons have access to a lot of information about our faith. [ ie – Websites are dedicated to our temple ceremonies, scriptures, and interests. The Bloggernacle is full of thoughts and attitudes about devotion, practice, and culture. And The Church itself puts out videos, article, recourses, and essays on lds.org.] Some of this information is troubling and difficult to absorb. Many are concerned. These concerns range from authenticity questions about LDS scripture to race imbalances.

My concern is for women in the church. I am concerned that in our patriarchal structure of governance, women have limited visibility and voice. I am concerned that in the exclusivity of male-only Priesthood, women have a reduced development in spiritual gifts and inadequate outlets sacred expression.

Read More

Real Talk

Two Women were chatting in office(1)I confessed to being Mormon at a cocktail party recently. The startled expressions of my coworkers indicated that I had either said too much, or was clearly not in good standing with my religion, or some combination of both. I wondered if I had once again failed at small talk. I valiantly attempt to admire necklaces or recall the weather, but inevitably I end up asking a question or revealing some piece of information that veers the conversation way beyond customary topics and into “Here be Dragons” territory. I had brought up religion. In the Midwest. At a work function. I was courting exile.

An offhand mention of a construction assignment at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints church building had elicited my proclamation. Much to my surprise, after the initial reaction, my two female companions eagerly started discussing their own religious upbringing and current involvement. We chatted about families, attendance, and what had shifted for us over the years. Then one of them looked me in eye and asked what I believed in now.

Read More

Series: #VisibleWomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: General Women’s Session

General Women's SessionA letter to the General Female Auxiliary Presidencies regarding General Women’s Session
(A similar letter to be set to my Stake Female Auxiliary Presidencies)
To: President Burton, Counselors, and General Relief Society Board
President Oscarson, Counselors, and General Young Women Board
President Wixom, Counselors, and General Primary Board

Greetings and warm wishes to you as we near the Easter Season.

The General Women’s Session is approaching and I praying for you: that preparations are going smoothly and that you feel inspired with words of counsel and love for the women of the church.

Thank you for the testimonies you have shared in the past.  It is obvious that you love the Savior and your testimonies of His grace have touched me.  I appreciate the way you have shared of yourselves in personal and vulnerable ways.

It appears that our church leadership values some same-gendered meeting time.  (ie: Priesthood Session is for men and General Women’s Session is for women – and – one hour each Sunday is set aside for women to meet in Relief Society and for young women to meet together.)  I see advantages to this approach as it allows us to explore our spiritual gifts, discuss concerns that may be unique to women, and most importantly, to be accountable directly to God for our stewardships.

Read More