Virtual Oases

Catching up on the week’s news, here’s a few posts to add to your weekend reading list!

  • The Sunstone Symposium wrapped up just as the FAIR Mormon conference got going this week. Women’s issues in the church were at the forefront of both events. From Sunstone, a panel about “tone and the patriarchy” was a highlight. Peggy Fletcher Stack recaps a FAIR address by Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, that includes this great quote: “we need a way to describe the female contribution to priesthood. We are a faith community of priests and priestesses. We need a way to talk about that.”  This seems an astonishing assertion to be made publicly by a Church leader/employee! If a full transcript of her talk becomes available, I’ll link it here later. I’m curious! Edit: Here’s a link to the video of her speech.
  • In a commentary about “tone” and “Primary voice”, Jana Reiss makes some fascinating observations about women speaking in church. Read this one for sure! And then sound off in the comments about how you feel about speaking in church.
  • Harvard Divinity School grad Ashley Isaccson Woolley has laid out several counter-arguments to the Ordain Women movement and actions. Using very assertive language, she writes that OW “takes quotes out of context“, “gets it wrong“, and “isn’t the answer“.  Her piece about taking quotes out of context causes me to ponder the difference between “taking something out of context” versus “personal interpretation”. How do you perceive her points?
  • How well do you recognize sexism? This article lists 10 ways we can make ourselves more aware of sexism when we encounter it and what to do about it. Number 1 on the list? Religious sexism and discrimination.
  • Hilary Clinton discusses encountering sexism in politics. I include this article because of a great quote she gave: [I] think that for many women in the public eye, it just seems that the burden is so heavy. We’re doing a job that is not a celebrity job or an entertainment or fashion job.… In a professional setting, treat us as professionals.… [And] it takes a lot of time. I’ve often laughed with my male colleagues, like, ’What did you do? You took a shower, you combed your hair, you put your clothes on. I couldn’t do that.”   Disappointing, indeed, that our capable female professionals are so often seen as celebrities to be judged by their appearances rather than accomplishments.  By contrast, here is an article about Becky Hammon, the 2nd woman to coach in the NBA, and not a word about her appearance — only her skills, leadership and  work ethic. Way to go, basketball! 
  • A very interesting article about how children are harmed when forced to behave according to their gender role stereotypes. I found her examples of how some athletic girls avoid sports so they don’t seem “unfeminine” and how boys engage in “low-level violence” (slapping, hitting one another, inflicting pain on other boys’ genitals) very eye-opening.
  • And finally, Julie de Azevedo Hanks sings an anthem chock full of every unrealistic expectation and toxic perfectionism Mormon Mommies sometimes place upon themselves….and bids them farewell in this one year anniversary of the Death of Molly Mormon. Watch the video, it has great lines like:   “buried alive under vinyl quotes”, “she felt sick when hubby wasn’t called into the bishopric”,  “her superstar son got his call….stateside” “Someone spiked her punch with a diet coke”

Discuss your observations and thoughts in the comments!

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Where All the Stories Are LOVE Stories

One of My Heroes. From one of the greatest stories of LOVE.

One of My Heroes. From one of the greatest stories of LOVE.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu

 

 


http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/461259724/where-all-the-stories-are-love-stories

As a storyteller, I’ve long understood the power of connecting ourselves with our heroes. Growing up I was able to put myself in the shoes of Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, Nephi, Indiana Jones, then, eventually Bridget Jones and even Walter Mitty. It’s the power of a story. No matter where we live or who we are, we have the imaginations that stretch us, pull us, and encourage us to aim higher, achieve more, relate, and envision a happy ending–even if we’re at the scary, unknown exposition.

Stories are universal. And a culture is made up of stories passed from one generation to the next. The foundation of the way we define our lives is expressed through stories told in movies, social media, news media, and books written at a given time in history. Over the last year, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the right time in history to make a change in the stories we’ve passed on about the LGBT community.

The trend in our culture has been to portray our LGBT neighbors as misfits, always on the outskirts of normal society, often so eccentric that we are unable to relate. Rarely do you see a movie featuring gay couples sharing a simple kiss, holding hands, or looking at each other with expressions of everyday love– these simple actions are the foundation of everyone’s love story. They make art art and love love– your love and my love. My story, as a filmmaker, is to change this. To make a documentary film about these everyday, extraordinary stories that make us all the same.

I believe in people. I believe in the power of love. And I believe that the thing that connects us to each other, regardless of our differences, is our personal story. Our stories are our lives. They are fleeting. They are precious. They are worthy of being documented. And each one should be told and heard.

I’m reminded often, during this filmmaking process, of  the words of my hero from one of my favorite stories. Atticus Finch understood something during his time that many people did not,  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Maybe that seems simplistic on a topic that has caused much heated discussion and debate, but for me, it’s truly come down to simple love, kindness, and acceptance of those who may at first appear different that I am.

If you feel so inclined, please, take a look at our kickstarter project, donate if you can, and share the link. Thank you.

First Gay Marriages in Utah

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Publish Peace

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The cemetery at Verdun

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace.

Armistice Day, celebrated in the United States as Veteran’s Day, is a natural time to reflect on war and peace.  The horrors of the First World War led those who lived through it to swear there would never be another such.  Of course it didn’t work out that way, as we know.

This month I have been studying peace as part of my personal scripture study and reflecting on it more broadly.  The scriptures are full of warfare and atrocities, but the Book of Mormon also takes a clear stance on offensive wars.

The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi promised that

“They would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it – therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.” (Alma 43:11)

Pahoran, in his letter to Moroni, averred that

“We would not shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land.  We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us.  We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do.” (Alma 61:11)

The Savior taught the people of the Americas the same truths he taught in Israel:

“And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (3 Nephi 12:39)

Modern day prophets and apostles also teach of peace, but it is generally within the context of inner calm:

Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality.  We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us.  Attaining harmony within ourselves depends upon our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate him by living the principles he has given us.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Peace Within” April 1991)

President Hinckley took a stand on behalf of the church in regards to the conflicts in the Middle East:

“As Citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders.  They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.” He acknowledged the right to express dissent, and then added, “We all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.”  Citing Captain Moroni, he concluded “It is clear from these and other writings that there are times when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat and oppression.” (Gordon B. Hinckley “War and Peace” April 2003)

I feel a deep sense of unease about justifying war, which it seems the Savior taught against.  What obligation do you have personally to publish peace? Does that obligation go beyond being peaceful within your own family and ward?  Did the Savior expect the same of nations that He did of individuals?

These questions have been swirling in my mind, particularly in light of the more recent debates over drone strikes and their terrible consequences for innocent civilians.  The recent story of a grandmother slain for inscrutable reasons, and the insouciant attitude of our own government to me raises grave questions about my complicity through inaction in programs that are in violation of my faith.

 

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Politics Flowing Over

Politics Flowing Over

Wow, the last 24 hour have been a roller coaster ride, yes? Starting with yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional. We need to make it easier to vote, not harder! I wasn’t happy with this, but I took a deep breath and hoped for better news in the next couple of days.

Then my attention turned to the #standwithwendy hashtag and the live feed of the Texas Senate session, where Wendy Davis was filibustering, SB5, which would have closed most of the health centers in Texas that provide abortions. I listened while I was making dinner, impressed with her abilities to draw this out and keep going. “What is she going to do when she runs out of things to say?” I smiled as she and her supporters made sure to speak slowly and draw out everything. In the evening, my husband and I were planning on watching Star Trek, but the suspense in Texas was so great, we had to pause it and listen. Who among us didn’t go, “Oh ZING!” when Senator Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

And the cheering… oh those last 10 minutes! Who couldn’t get caught up in that?! When 12pm in Texas struck, I opened our front door and shouted, “WOOO TEXAS!” a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever said. I was so loud our neighbors came outside wondering if something was wrong (there has been a lot of crime in our neighborhood lately). And I was glued to the live feed as it seemed that the Texas senate was going to ignore their rules and count a late vote anyway. Then I went to sleep.

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What are your political conversations like?

Just before the presidential election NPR’s This American Life had an episode titled “Red State Blue State” that talked about the well-known divide of right versus left in American politics.  It told stories of close friends and family members who don’t speak to each other anymore because of politics, then discussed a new book titled You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong) by Jacob Hess (who is Mormon and conservative) and Phil Neisser (who is not religious and liberal).  Hess and Neisser believe that civilized, useful political dialogue is possible if the two parties stop trying to change each other and start listening.  I said something similar here recently.

So I wonder, are the contentious conversations I sometimes experience and that Hess and Neisser have written a book about the norm?  Or are they less common than they seem?  Please take our poll and let us know how you experience political conversations.

In the comments, please tell us what has worked for you to make your political discussions amicable.

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Pretty Pretty Princess

Pretty Pretty Princess

We are one week away from a huge cultural event…the inauguration of a new princess. The major news networks have a countdown to the royal wedding and are gleefully reporting any trivial detail they can get their hands on.  It is estimated that two billion people worldwide will tune in to see Will and Kate take their vows. And there is no doubt that every aspect of the celebration will be dissected, analyzed and copied. As a Mormon aside, royal wedding dresses tend to be modest so be prepared to see replicas of Kate’s dress on temple grounds around the world.

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