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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Moving Day

exponent jan 2I spent many hours over the New Year’s holiday helping my son move into yet another college apartment. This time he is in a tiny studio without the roommate riffraff, a choice highlighted by bright windows and his own kitchen. His mood vacillated between excitement and trepidation. Mine was alternately gung ho and over it. This is his fifth living space in two and half years. Each time it seems to get more complicated. Moving is always difficult, but why are we not better at it?

Early twenty-somethings live in a scattered universe. My son was abroad for the Fall quarter and his belongings are equally far flung – in the garage, in every corner of his “also-known-as-the-guest” bedroom, in a giant duffle bag. He has begun to look at our possessions with shifting perspective. What was ridiculous and parental last year is quite useful and necessary now as it disappears into his pile. Things get lost, or are given away, or wear out. Just getting organized, gathering what will be needed to survive, takes days and accumulating charges. Then there is a small car to load, stairs and hallways to navigate, and my growing anxiety about his safety as we witness a rather dodgy business exchange on the sidewalk in front of his building.

I was consoled as we hung pictures on his walls. Any person who uses a level to align a poster with mounting tape can take care of himself. He cooks like his father, spreadsheets like his mother, and has a fierce, brilliant spirit all his own. He creatively arranged his books, clothes, and utensils in ingeniously compact ways. His confidence was contagious. He is on his own again, ready for adventure. I began to think this whole moving over New Year’s Day was a grand metaphor to embrace. Why should I need a class syllabus to feel the same surge of energy? Why can’t my mental space feel like a new lease? Why can’t each new year hold the potential of this new apartment?

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RS Lesson #1: Love the Lord

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).”

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Guest Post: Who’s the Captain of the Ally-Ship?

by Kate Kelly

I have had several conversations that conform to the following script of late and I wanted to write to male allies regarding this familiar narrative.

Male ally: Says or does something sexist

Feminist: “That was sexist.”

Male ally: “How dare you attack me! I’m not the enemy. Can’t you see?? I’m on your side. Cut me some slack.”

Feminist: Sighs. “Sure, but UGHhhhhhhh, get a grip on reality. That WAS sexist.”

Male Ally: “You are being so rude. You are the reason lots of men eschew this conversation at all. You sure don’t know how to make allies!”

Dear male ally,

In my continuing journey to become an ally to others I have learned a about what helps and hurts in supporting a community you are not a part of. Many of these lessons I have learned from young Mormon feminists. I still have miles and miles and MILES to go in becoming a better ally myself, and you can rest assured that I will take every word I write below to heart in my own work to be an ally to communities of color, my LGTBQIA brothers and sisters, people with varying abilities, those in poverty and all other communities I stand in solidarity with. Some of the lessons I am trying to learn apply to what I’d love to see from male allies.

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Poetry Sundays: Short Roots

Gustave Le Gray (photographer) [French, 1820 - 1884] from the J. Paul Getty Museum

The Beech Tree by Gustave Le Gray (photographer) [French, 1820 - 1884] from the J. Paul Getty Museum

2014 was a tough year for many Mormon feminists. While there were some great positive changes in the Church, for me, they did not outweigh the hard truths I’ve witnessed.  I’ve found comfort in looking to Mormon women of older generations as spiritual role models than I have lately. Women who have weathered storms like the ERA and the 1990′s excommunications of feminists and intellectuals, women who have created their own spiritual paths in and out of the Church.

I’ve loved this poem by Carol Lynn Pearson in particular lately. This past year, I’ve felt so thirsty as I ponder my place in the Church and my own spiritual path.

“Short Roots”
by Carol Lynn Pearson

The tree
At the church next door to me
Turned up its roots and died.
They had tried
To brace its leaning
But it lowered
And lowered,
And then there it lay–
Leaves in grass
And matter roots in air,
Like a loafer on a summer day.

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Guest Post: Almost Everyone who Interacts with a Pregnant Woman is Drunk

by MargaretOH

I’m pregnant, due in February with my third child.  That’s all I feel comfortable telling you, although the chances are good, if you’re like the majority of people I interact with these days, you’ll want to know more.  Much more.  And you’ll probably ask in the rudest, most intrusive way possible.

When exactly are you due?

Are you sure you’re not having twins?

Did you get pregnant on purpose?

I’m an introvert and I realize that I’m more sensitive than most about being the focus of attention when I walk in the room.  I don’t like discussing private concerns with most of my friends, let alone complete strangers.  And yet, I know I’m not unique in my frustration with the lack of privacy pregnant women receive.  The hands on the belly, the constant comments about body size, the unfiltered questions—every pregnant woman I’ve ever talked with is bothered by these impositions.

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Visiting Teaching Message January 2015: The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Obedient Son

Guest post by Hope
This is Hope’s first guest post at the Exponent. She is an Alaskan girl who loves the adventure of living in New England. In her spare time, she likes to go on adventures, eat good food, and read good books. She is currently on a quest to organize her whole apartment before her next semester begins.

 


The formal Visiting Teaching Message for January 2015 can be found here.

 

“And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6)Praying woman handsI have always loved this story. It is simple in the way I wish obedience really were. A few years ago, I realized that in the depths of this highly independent, warrior-feminist heart, lived a very obedient soul. I was even more surprised to find that I didn’t know what that meant.We talk about obedience as the first law of heaven. Our scriptures are littered with examples of staunch, unwavering, seemingly senseless obedience. We pose impossible situations to ourselves and one another, routinely testing the theoretical limits of our own convictions. Would I, like Abraham, sacrifice my son? Would I share my husband? Would I build a boat? Would I kill Laban?
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