Disconnected

Having just returned from a summer in Europe, I find myself reattached to my phone. You see, while traipsing about the continent, my phone lacked internet and calling access. The only time I was able to check my email and respond to texts were early in the morning before I left and later in the evening after I returned from the day’s adventures. For a person whose homepage is CNN and who reads NPR and BBC articles more often than actual books, not being able to follow the world’s events was both freeing and suffocating.

It was freeing in the sense that I could focus solely on the people and events around me. I wasn’t constantly uploading statuses to Facebook or posting photos to Instagram. When I talked with someone, I was fully there. When I participated in something, I gave it all my attention. The world was more…. real and within reach. However, it was suffocating in the sense that I felt I was living in this privileged European bubble. While the horrid events were happening in Ferguson, Missouri, I was visiting castles in Denmark. And I’m sad to say, that’s really the only thing I’m aware of that went on in the States. I didn’t even know what was going on in Europe while I was there. I was too busy eating pastries in Prague and other cities.

And now that I’m home, I’m trying my very best to catch up to everything that’s been happening. I feel like an awful feminist and person as I was posting pictures of Europe while people’s human rights were being violated, both in the US and the Middle East. I am trying to become more fully aware.

But like I said, in a way, it was truly freeing to not feel so involved or invested. I wasn’t “burdened” by the terrible news and was able to enjoy my time abroad without heavy thoughts weighing on my mind.

And as I think about this, I imagine this how some people feel when confronting feminist or tough social topics. So many people are so apathetic about politics to the point that they don’t know where politicians stand. So many people have said to me, “who cares about Ordain Women? I’ve got enough on my mind.” And I’ve heard so many statements along the lines of, “Who cares what’s going on in Gaza or in Missouri? I’m not there. Why should I care or be informed?” These people are disconnected. These people are of the motto, Ignorance is bliss. But it’s not bliss. It’s really not.

Why try to catch up on the terrible news that I missed out on in Europe? So I can better empathize with my fellow men and women. So I can have an informed opinion and speak out on topics that matter to me. Even if I am so far away from what’s going on here or abroad, there are people that are close to it. And they matter so I should be informed about what matters to them.

Being connected is the very embodiment of “mourning with those who mourn.” It means we are trying to feel what they feel.

So now, I am repenting of the ignorant bliss I had while in Europe. I need to become reconnected, not only to the bad, but also to the good. To be disconnected from the world is be disconnected from humanity.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

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Women Exit Quietly: A Review of Neylan McBaine’s Women at Church

women at church cover (2)Guest Post by Emily January Petersen

Women are most likely to leave an organization after experiencing a psychological contract barrier, which is a belief “employees have about the entitlements they will receive and that they perceive were promised to them by their employers…. Violations of psychological contracts occur when the perceived implicit and explicit promises of employers are not fulfilled or are broken” (Hamel, 2009, p. 235).  When these violations happen, instead of putting up a fight, standing up for one’s self, or speaking out, women quietly leave.  In her research, Hamel found that some 90% of those interviewed left quietly.

Is this what is happening in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  Elder Marlin K. Jensen, former Church historian, “would not provide any figures on the rate of defections, but he told Reuters that attrition has accelerated in the last five or ten years, reflecting greater secularization of society” (Henderson & Cooke, 2012, para. 6).  While numbers aren’t available, I’ve heard talk of more women than men leaving the church.  I know in my own family and circle of friends, there are many women who have left, primarily because of cultural misogyny and bigotry.  Many of these women have strong beliefs about equality (for women and the LGBT community).  They part with the Church because of their disgust over the treatment of these groups, both officially and in cultural settings. 

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Neckties: Priesthood Attire or Lucifer’s Lust Pointer?

mens-fashion-ties-002 Neckties are arrows that point to the male genitalia. Why are they considered “priesthood attire” in the LDS community? In some congregations otherwise worthy men are not allowed to participate in priesthood ordinances unless wearing a white shirt and necktie. The male missionary uniform is a white shirt and conservative necktie, symbols of orthodoxy in the LDS Church. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby recently noted,

Neckties are so important to Mormons that it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing them airbrushed onto young men in church publications.

Oh, the horror! Before such a perilous day dawns, I must sound a warning. Neckties are leading women far from the iron rod of righteousness into the shadowy mists of lust. The influence of the necktie is subtle and pernicious and has infiltrated every level of Church leadership. legends-of-the-summer-justin-timberlake-jay-z-1.492.325.c The white shirt and necktie are ubiquitous symbols for male professional conformity and power, but some Christians contend that a man in a suit is too much temptation for the modern Christian sister.

Justin Timberlake and Jay Z acknowledge the power of the well dressed man in the song Suit and Tie. Brother Timberlake croons in the chorus,

And as long as I got my suit and tie, Ima leave it all on the floor tonight.

You are mistaken in hoping Brother Timberlake took off his suit and tie to put on his pajamas,

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A Book Review: Girls Who Choose God

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Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, Illustrated by Kathleen Peterson

Girls Who Choose God is a book I wish I’d had as a child, and am thrilled to have for my children. Featuring 11 women from the Bible, this lovely book was conceived when my dear friend Bethany’s three-year-old daughter asked her, “Mom, where are the girls?” when looking through her cartoon book of scripture stories. Bethany wanted her daughter to know not only were girls there, but they have stories that are stirring in their boldness, unconventionality, morality, and dedication to changing the world for good. The women featured are,

Eve
Miriam
Mahlah and her Sisters
Deborah
Esther
Mary the Mother of Jesus
Samaritan Woman at the Well
Mary and Martha
A Generous Widow
A Healed Woman
Mary Magdalene

Each of their stories framed as a choice. For example, when Miriam sees Pharaoh’s daughter approach the basket in the river, the authors write, “Miriam had a choice to make. She could stay hidden to avoid getting in trouble, or she could speak to Pharaoh’s daughter in hopes of saving her brother.” The stories conclude with the choice the girl or woman made, and then provide a question for the reader. From Miriam’s story: “What choices have you made to bring your family closer together?”

I like that the women featured run the gamut from sister to prophetess, and I like that the questions are far-reaching, not at all pointing girls toward deferential female roles. There is Miriam’s question that may seem at first to point toward a role type-cast for women (nurturing families). But there is also Deborah’s question: “When have you chosen to be a leader?” And Esther’s question, “When have you chosen to stand up for others?” When I read this book with my kids they are enthusiastic about answering those questions, they see themselves as leaders, peacemakers, and helpers.

I love that the book uses inclusive language. Male names are not always first (“Eve and Adam” instead of “Adam and Eve”). The authors use the word God instead of Heavenly Father throughout the book. I notice a great effort they’ve made to use language to shine light on women playing the key role in stories that make up our spiritual heritage.

The women are described as people children can aspire to be, with qualities they might see in themselves. “Miriam was a quick thinker. [Her] boldness rescued her brother and reunited her family.” I am used to stories of prophets and heroes from the scriptures being almost always men, and it surprised me how I felt reading about the widow who gave her two mites: “Jesus admired her noble deed. He called his disciples over to learn from her actions.” To learn from her. Our girls need stories told in this way to help them see themselves as full agents in the gospel.  The words “bold” and “courageous” appear several times in this book, words usually used to describe people like David and Nephi, but now used to describe Mary and Mahlah.

I love that the authors included the Daughters of Zelophehad (Mahlah and her Sisters), because this is one of my favorite Bible stories. To me this story has delicious subversive potential, but the question that follows is so perfectly relevant to children (and adults): “When have you chosen to solve a problem peacefully?” I didn’t know of this story until I was an adult. I hope it becomes more well known through this book.

Girls Who Choose God is unique. I don’t know of another illustrated book on women in the Bible, and it’s definitely a first for an LDS audience. The illustrations are striking and accessible, and match the text perfectly in their portrayal of bold women. Excitingly, the Church has acquired the paintings and will install them in the Conference Center this year.  Finally, the authors are donating 100% of the profits to a charity called Interweave Solutions that supports educational and entrepreneurial endeavors for women.

I think this an important book for two reasons: it’s the first of it’s kind, and it’s providing something we have far too little of — examples of strong, godly women.  Stories matter.  They don’t determine what girls can dream of becoming, but they absolutely inform it, and these are stories I want my daughter to know.  It’s also a beautiful book, in prose and in the artwork.  I hope you have a chance to own it.

 

*If you’ll be at the Exponent Retreat this year, you can buy a copy from Bethany there.

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Young Women Lesson: How Do I Guard My Virtue?

Young Women Lesson: How Do I Guard My Virtue?

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français
 

The outline for this lesson is here and the corresponding Young Men’s lesson is How Can I Resist Pornography? Despite not including it in the lesson title, the outline for the young women talks a lot about pornography and both lessons use the same scripture sources. Keep in mind the ages and maturity of the youth you are teaching and respect the boundaries of the parents. If you are going to go in the direction of discussing pornography, I think it would be wise to type up your outline and what quotes/scriptures you will be using and send that to the parents ahead of time.

I will first give ideas for a general “virtue” lesson. After that, I’ll add “bonus” material for pornography discussion.

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