“Selma” & “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”: A Review

In a rare occurrence for this poor recent college graduate, I treated myself to seeing several movies in theaters over the past month, two of which were Selma and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. As an African-American female, both movies touched, educated, and inspired me. So it seemed fitting to attempt a combined review of these powerful activist films on the day we celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With all the recent events happening in Ferguson and beyond, it is so important now than ever to realize black lives matter (I would say that it’s important to remember black lives matter, but in this country, I don’t think we ever even knew that). Throughout the showing of Selma, all I could think of were the current protests happening. In the dark theater, I thought of how many people say they respect and admire Dr. King and would have fought for Civil Rights, but in the same breath, denounce the current protests going on today. To me, they are one and the same.

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Relief Society Lesson 2: Pray Always

Due to a scheduling snafu (my bad) this lesson was due to go up next week, but I’ve learned that many Relief Societies are teaching this lesson tomorrow. So, I wanted to throw up a few thoughts, quotes, and links gathered from the collected input of Exponent bloggers on the subject of prayer, in the hopes that something here might be useful. We would love your input as well! Please comment if you have ideas on how to teach this lesson. Let’s use this post as a chance to share thoughts and approaches.

EmilyCC suggests that a great place to go for thoughts about how to teach on prayer is the Exponent archives. This is what I’ve found.

Rachel:

I read the manual version today, and was interested in ETB’s remark that “After making a request through prayer, we have a responsibility to assist in its being granted. We should listen. Perhaps while we are on our knees, the Lord wants to counsel us.” It reminded me of something the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said about the lily in the field:

“But the lily who is the teacher is profound. It does not enter into conversation with thee, it keeps silent, and by keeping silent it would signify to thee that thou art before God, that thou shouldst remember that thou art before God—that thou also in seriousness and truth mightest become silent before God.”

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An Announcement from April Young Bennett

temple recommendAs a condition of renewing my temple recommend, my new stake president has required me to resign from the board of Ordain Women and, with the exception of my Ordain Women profile, take down posts I have written that raise the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. I do not believe that temple recommends should be used as leverage to censor ideas or silence advocacy, but if I hadn’t complied, I would have missed my brother’s recent temple wedding. Choosing between following the dictates of my conscience and being present for a family wedding has been heartbreaking. In the end, I concluded that while others may take my place as an author or an advocate, no one can replace me in my role as my brother’s sister.

The 11 posts I have deleted were published here at the blog site of Exponent II, which has provided a safe forum for Mormon women to share their opinions since 1974. This is the first time an Exponent blogger has deleted posts due to the mandate of a priesthood leader. Some of the deleted posts literally raised the question of women’s ordination simply by posting an opinion poll question for Exponent readers, but others, such as Ordination is the Answer to Correlation, Confirming our Hope: Women and Priesthood, and Shouldn’t It Be Obvious? How Women Hold and Exercise the Priesthood Today, represent months of scripture study and analysis of church history and the teachings of living apostles and auxiliary leaders.

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Tattoos and Ghost Stories

ghost

A few months ago a dear friend asked me if I had anything I’d want to contribute for a collection of essays on Primary that would be both real and uplifting. I recalled a funny and sweet memory of one daughter as a Sunbeam and submitted it. Another friend of ours, Bret Wunderli, also submitted a piece. Both were gladly accepted by the compiler. However, the publisher, whose distributor is Desert Book, found our submission troubling and chose to omit them stating: “With Deseret Book distributing this book, we can’t include anything that hints at questioning Church doctrines. Even if it’s subtle.” This disturbed me. Not because my story wouldn’t be included, but because of the climate of fear that is trickling down from above. There is just so much fear. And it is escalating.  Nobody’s mad about the editorial decision, just really sad when something you intended to be bright and insightful is seen as insidious. So brace yourselves for our expurgated stories:

“Tattoos”

My husband’s family is very loving, very supportive, and very colorful. Literally. Seven of the ten kids have at least one tattoo.  And not just initials, or some Chinese symbol that is supposed to say “serenity” but actually says “brussels sprout.” They wear tattoos of bulldogs and Spanish skylines, Maori symbolism, and even the Little Mermaid. My kids adore these aunts and uncles and get fairly defensive when Primary lessons lump body art into the list of “no no’s” or signs of apostasy.

When Georgia was a Sunbeam, her sweet teacher taught a lesson on bodies being temples. When she got to the part about tattoos being Bad, Georgia jumped up from her chair and let loose that her family had lots of tattoos and they were good and pretty and in fact God LOVED tattoos and temples had art so why not bodies—so there! Her kind teacher quietly directed these 3 and 4 year olds to draw pictures for the rest of the lesson.

After church, this teacher found my husband and me and told us the story. She handed me the picture Georgia had drawn. It was a very simple sketch of a man in robes, beard, long hair. Clearly it was Jesus…with a large red tattoo on his forehead of a heart. I looked up to see how this teacher was responding. She had a huge smile on her face and told me she loved Georgia because she was so passionate and truly understood that the Lord loves us all.  I hugged her and was so thankful for a teacher who can teach the party line but did not need to shut down the opposition. 

“Why aren’t there any women in the Godhead?”

By Bret Wunderli

Several years ago, my wife and I taught the oldest teenagers in Sunday School. We had prepared a lesson on something else, but when it became clear that the students were unclear about the Godhead, we scrapped our lesson and taught them about the Godhead. (It should be noted that these young men and women were smart; the fault, we’ve always assumed, was in the teaching they’d received. That is, their teachers had always assumed that they understood the Church’s teachings regarding the Godhead. That was our hypothesis, anyway.)

Some years later, I found myself teaching the oldest Primary children. To say these boys and girls were bright doesn’t do them justice. Remembering our experience in Sunday School, I decided to teach them the clearest, best lesson about the Godhead that I could manage when the topic came up in the manual.

At some point in the lesson, Victoria raised her hand. Her question was priceless. She said, “Why aren’t there any women in the Godhead?” Slight pause. Then, with a puzzled face and a tilted head, she added, “I mean, there’s a ghost in there after all.” That class was not only full of smart kids; they were also kind. They respected each other. So when I tell you that everyone (including the teacher) laughed, it’s important to understand that we were laughing at Victoria’s wit and not at her. Victoria was glowing.

Here’s my answer to her that day: “Victoria, there are many people in the Church who will give you many different answers to that question. Here’s the real deal. We just don’t know why there aren’t any women in the Godhead.”

And there you have it.

 

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Reading Resolutions

Bookshelf

(A bookshelf my husband once made me.)

One of my main resolutions for 2015 is to say no more often, when I want to, so I can say yes more often, when I want to.

My other resolutions are reading ones, including books I need to read for my qualifying exams, and books I need to read for me. The majority of those in the latter category are books by or about Mormon women.

I have been editing a book like that with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright that is going to be beautiful (and handed to our publisher sometime this week!). It is an anthology on Mormon feminism since the 70s. Sitting with words and women I admire has felt like holy work. I am not ready to give that up yet, so I am turning to my own bookshelf. Some of the books I hope to read are volumes I have previously read and treasured. Others are books I collected knowing that I would love and treasure them.
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Sacred Music: Glorious

I’m a little ambivalent about the movie, Meet the Mormons, and I’m afraid I don’t quite keep up on the latest pop stars like David Archuleta. But, someone put this song on their Facebook feed months ago, and I love it. This chorus sung by these children gets me every time:

It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies

In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious

 

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Guest Post: The Next 40 Years …

by Astell

I have always been fascinated with Moses and the Children of Israel. I won’t say that Yul Brenner and Charlton Heston had nothing to do with my initial fascination, but my real obsession began in seminary.

I only attended seminary for a year due to my dad’s military assignments. That year we studied the Old Testament. On more than one occasion, I made that poor volunteer teacher cry, in her own living room, as she tried to teach the six kids who showed up. I did not understand oh so many things. I mean sin offerings for giving birth? My questions were hard and unremitting. And I was a 14-year-old snot.

But when the course was over, my real bewilderment became: how on earth the Children of Israel could see miracle after miracle and not believe. Parting the Red Sea, water from a rock, manna, the brass serpent. The list is long, it is spectacular, and after every single miracle they just keep asking to go back? Back to what? Back to slavery?

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