Poll: Topics

With a new year before us, it’s natural to look around and take stock of our lives. Where we’ve been, where we’re going. And at The Exponent Blog, we’d like to do the same with your input. Take some time to let us know what topics and direction you might like to see the blog discussions take with the coming year. You can leave specific suggestions in the comments for post topics that you would like to see covered, or just vote for the general tone of discussions you would like to see more of with the poll. You can even vote for more than one if you do it before submitting.

Also, it would be wonderful for any new, as well as long time, readers to introduce themselves in the comments. Share a bit about yourselves with us as we start out. How long have you been reading? What are your joys, or your sorrows? Frustrations? Resolutions? You are our community and why we write, so help us to know and include you.

Corktree

Corktree is exploring life and spirituality in new ways and new environments while studying midwifery, reiki, yoga, homeopathy, herbology and evolutionary nutrition. She has 3 daughters and one son, which add up to what now feels like an enormous family of 6.

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22 Responses

  1. spunky says:

    Quickly: I would like to see most posts aimed at the power of women sans motherhood. I would also like to seem more in regard to international Mormon feminism, i.e. what do LDS women in Brazil/India/Russia seek in feminist empowerment? Do they have a voice? What would help all of us? What might hurt us? How can we all work together to make a unified, worldwide, LDS feminist movement?

    How long have you been reading? Um… my mother read The Exponent when I was a child… and as a teen I used to sneak her “old” collection and voraciously, repeatedly read them. Totally saved my soul and made me who I am now. I was not aware of The Exponent II until about 3 years ago, and have been reading (as time allows) since then.

    Joys: Husband, dog, conference talks (seriously), facials, research, publishing, Exponent II lesson plans.

    Sorrows: I already hold too many grudges… have no interest in spending more time thinking of my sadness than I already do.

    Frustrations: Only 24 hours in the day. Need sleep. Mortal. Really need to work on my super-woman skillz so I really can save the planet as much as I hope.

    Resolutions: Be more charitable and less sensitive. Being hurt by people’s words- especially the people at church, need not be a thing I deal with every week. Finish next academic milestone.

    • spunky says:

      grrr.. make that “more” posts…

    • Corktree says:

      Thank you for sharing, Spunky. I think looking at LDS feminism outside of the US is a great idea! If you feel like it, I think it would be great to hear your perspective in a guest post. I’m sure there are others that would appreciate it as well.

      And if your super woman skills involve getting us some more hours in the day, please let me know! 🙂

  2. lyn says:

    I’ve been lurking for 2 or 3 years. I comment infrequently, but read all the time. Exponent has become a lifeline for me!

    In answer to your poll question: There are 3 LDS female communities I follow: Segullah, fMh, and Exponent. If I want the TBM party line perspective, I read Segullah. fMh seems to have gone through a transition this year and really does fit their tagline “angry activitists with diapers to change” — the tone has become more angsty. Exponent is where I read when I want hope of what faith can look like at the end of transitions. I look up to so many of the women here who have struggled and are honest about that, but it doesn’t feel angry. I’ve had enough of my own anger that I don’t need more of it feeding me….and I’ve been to enough Relief Society lessons that I don’t need more reminders of what our culture teaches about being “faithful.” If the “faithful” topics are centered on Christ and our relationship to him, then I’m definitely interested – I have found a lack of that kind of dialogue. Maybe my observations reflect where I am in my journey, but I really appreciate the place that Exponent fills in the “LDS female community”

    My joys? My family. hands down. My husband and I observe our kids and are constantly amazed at how blessed we are with our children. Even when they’re being naughty it is too funny.

    My frustrations? Finding my place in a religion with little tolerance for gray. And of course, lack of time!!

    My resolutions? building stronger relationships with my children. Be more consistent in my personal goals (running, reading, balance)

    • Corktree says:

      Thank you for commenting Lyn! I hope you feel comfortable and welcome in continuing. I like your thoughts on “faithful” subjects, and I would like to see more of that too. Some women have a wonderful way of sharing their view of and relationship with Christ that always inspires me to develop and strengthen my own.

    • Caroline says:

      Lyn said “Exponent is where I read when I want hope of what faith can look like at the end of transitions.”

      Lyn, your comment made me so happy. Thanks for saying that. It’s exactly what I would hope we accomplish at Exponent.

    • Amy says:

      I’m sad that our Relief Societies aren’t focusing more on Christ and our relationship to him. Because that is what it is all about. All the other stuff is just supposed to help get us to that point, right? I thought that was part of the reason that we went back to having lessons out of the Gospel Priniciples book.
      I find that sometimes it is hard to navigate through our religion, because it honestly does not make intellectual sense all of the time. However, when I am able to let go of my need to know and/or control everything (I can definitely be a control freak ;)and realized that Heavenly Father will give me those challenges that I can manage and that it is not necessary to understand everyone else’s then I seem to feel a little better about things.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    Corktree,
    What an excellent post!

    We absolutely need to take the time to look at where we are and where we’re headed as a community.

    I love that Exponent welcomes a variety of voices and women at many places on their spiritual journey. Mostly, I try to accept that each journey is unique and valuable and we are here to help and honor each other.

    In the coming year I would like to see more of our readers recognizing that their comments are what make the Exponent community amazing. If you read and don’t comment, we’re all missing out on the dialog. I encourage you, if you mostly read and don’t comment, to start adding a note here or there about your experiences or thoughts on the posts, even if they’re not the most brilliant thing you’ve ever written or 100% on-topic.

    We want to hear from our readers, not just on this post, but throughout the year. We also encourage submissions for guest posts and articles in the Exponent II publication.

  4. Jesse says:

    I agree with Lyn. I really appreciate the generally hopeful and honest tenor of the posts and comments on this blog. I like to read about how other women cope with their struggles of faith, community and life.

    I only found The Exponent II a few months ago.

    Joys: running, writing, teaching, family
    Resolutions: engage and appreciate

  5. Conifer says:

    I’ve been lurking all over the bloggernacle for about a year now and commenting now and then. We’re in a one bedroom house with two kids, so the computer and a sleeping baby are in the same room. My time to type is while she’s asleep, so I don’t comment much.

    Over the last couple of years I’ve lost my faith and tried to rebuild something that will work in the interim until I figure out what the heck I believe. I’ve slowly figured out that I’m definitely staying in the church (at least for the foreseeable future) and I hope to both gain good things from that and add to others’ experiences there. I hope to slowly change things from within. I hope to continue to belong to the community. I’m not yet officially “out”, but people do know I’m a feminist.

    I generally like what I see. The one thing I feel like I personally need more of is posts discussing how to navigate this transition I’m in — how do you decide where the line is? How do you rebuild faith if you want to after everything’s out of the bag? How do you make sense of life long enough to even explain to someone else what you definitely believe? I can’t seem to figure these things out. Oh, and what on earth am I going to tell my kids about all of this? How do I raise them without making them confused but still helping them be critical thinkers who know some facts?

    I have no idea whether those things would apply to lots of people or whether I’m kind of alone here, so I don’t know how wide appeal for these kinds of things would be. Also, I don’t know how you’d write them. You’d have to have someone who’s figured it out — has anyone?

    • Jessawhy says:

      Conifer,
      I feel your pain, many of us (bloggers and readers) have gone through or are going through a similar situation.

      The best I can do right now is to acknowledge your experience and give you my compassion as you navigate your journey. There are lots of really smart, caring, and confident women in the Mormon feminist community and knowing them is one way that I manage the cognitive dissonance you describe.

      I invite you to attend any retreats you can or find a local group of women to meet with. In the meantime, we’ll try to answer some of your questions with posts because you really did identify one of them main purposes of Exponent in your question.

    • Corktree says:

      Like Jessawhy said, a lot of us are going through something very similar. Exponent has helped me a lot on this journey, and I hope it helps you too. We’re all at different stages with different priorities I think, but we all help and support each other. These women are all strong and beautiful, with different perspectives to add. I think we can give this a bit of focus with the coming year, Conifer. Thanks for bringing it up!

      • Conifer says:

        Thank you for your comments. It really is so comforting to know I’m not alone, even if I feel alone over here. I met some women at a Sunstone event near me that I hope to see again. A retreat will have to wait until the kids are older. 🙂

        I am lucky enough to have a TBM husband who 100% accepts me and my new views. I at least have one person I can talk to in real life.

        I look forward to those posts you talked about.

  6. Caroline says:

    Conifer asked:
    “how do you decide where the line is? How do you rebuild faith if you want to after everything’s out of the bag?”

    I have no great answers, but I can tell you what’s currently working for me. I cling to those things that empower and which stand for principles of inclusion and integration, and I reject those things that limit people’s potential as humans. For me, this means that I embrace Jesus’ social gospel of the NT. Reaching beyond boundaries and embracing the unwanted, using power to empower others … these are all things we can find in Jesus’ visionary message. If I hear something from current church leaders that does not fall in line with the above, then I don’t feel obligated to embrace it. (ex: Prop 8).

    I’ll always be grateful for progressive Christianity. When everything fell apart for me a few years ago, the progressive Christians saved Jesus for me, which in turn, allows me to connect with my Mormon faith in an important way. The emphasis I put on Jesus’ teachings may be different from most Mormons, but he’s still something we have in common.

    • Conifer says:

      Thanks. I’ve come to see Jesus in that same way. I like your thoughts on keeping the good and jettisoning the bad, too — I’m trying to figure that out as I go.

      It seems like the hardest thing for me is that I used to know my answer to any question immediately, and now I’ll figure something out one day and I have to figure it out all over again a week later. My new thoughts and beliefs aren’t ingrained yet, so I feel like I have to figure it out over and over again. I hope it doesn’t take too long to feel reflexive.

  7. Alisa says:

    Conifer’s question has really struck me as well. I had my crisis of faith 3 years ago when I realized I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’d been raised by very obedient parents who practiced Mormonism nearly to perfection. But I was getting so worn down with it, working two jobs, holding demanding callings, and knowing the emphasis that Mormonism places on women’s roles, I just broke. It was too much to do, and I couldn’t do it all.

    So I had to let it go. It took a physical and mental collapse that landed me in the ER before I realized I needed to reform my personal faith. I started with simple truths that Jesus taught, like loving God and loving our neighbors, and I realized that his teaching about the Sabbath being for us–and not for God–was an important truth about all the advice and “little” commandments we were given. As long as I kept my focus on loving God through loving others, the Great Commandments, I would end up OK. I began to turn down some callings, and I stopped going to the temple once a month. In the place of those things, I took up physical exercise and started eating right. I only went to Church meetings when I felt like it, which turns out is more than enough to still keep me active in my ward. I began to study mindfulness and meditation, and experienced my first real spiritual experience while in meditation. I found that God was not in all the little to-do lists and errand-running that were running me into the ground, but God was in the still small voice that comes in those private, quiet moments that I built for myself. Recognizing that my spiritual needs were ones of quiet reflection, peace, and solitude was a huge step for me. It appears to be different from the more sociable Mormons who gain their spirituality through being in the community, but I’m OK with realizing the Spirit comes to me differently.

    When I talk to others who are going through a spiritual crisis, here are a few points I’ve learned from the Exponent community, John Dehlin, and my own experiences:

    1. Spirituality is a journey. You’re always moving. So I stopped waiting to “arrive” at my previous level of faith. I had moved on from that faith, and I needed something new to replace it. Likewise, when I felt the need to confess my changed faith to someone close, I chose to say temporary words like “this is where I am right now.” I find that this journey language brings comfort to those who would be most worried by a faith crisis. If they know you are stubborn or static, and that this crisis is part of your overall journey, they’re more likely to support you.

    2. It’s a lonely road you walk when you redefine your faith. Don’t expect others in real life to understand where you’re coming from, and don’t try to force your crisis of faith on others. Understand everyone has their own journey and they need to own it. Likewise, I have found most Church leaders aren’t really in a position to do anything about my concerns. I found it’s always better to say less about my private spiritual beliefs. Redefining my faith is a journey I’m on with Christ, and I have friends like those here at Exponent who can help me, but in the end it is my journey, not my bishop’s or my husband’s or my in-law’s or anyone else’s. A new faith comes by study and prayer and being open to what our experiences lead us to.

    3. You can’t go back. This is sometimes the most painful, but it’s also the most helpful. Once I left the black-and-white letter-of-the-law view I had of the gospel behind, it’s really impossible to go back. The good news is that it forced me to create something new. While it sounds really un-Mormon to say so, through letting go of my previous view of the gospel I now have a new understanding of what it means to overcome spiritual death and be born into a new understanding of what Christ offers us. Many people can judge me and say I’m worse off for my new views, but others would say I’m better off. Only I can be the judge.

    4. I’m grateful for many teachings of the Church. I’m glad that our Mormon understandings do not have to necessarily be at odds with science but allow for continuing revelation and teach that God must follow the laws of the universe. I’m glad we teach that many great and important things will yet be revealed pertaining to the kingdom of God, and that we are to seek after anything that is of good report. This has allowed me to carefully seek out the good in others outside my faith and be taught by them. I am still Mormon, and I always will be, but whether it’s my yogi friend at work or the evangelical woman who tends my baby, I seek for something that they can teach me to strengthen my spirituality, and it has helped. I’m not so dogmatic as I was, but I am actually now in a position to learn and grow, which really isn’t a bad place to be.

    • Conifer says:

      Alisa, this is such a fantastic comment that I’m completely speechless. You said all kids of things that spoke to me directly. This has given me a lot to think about and I’ll certainly have to revisit this to ponder what you said. What marvelous suggestions and information! Thank you so much for sharing what you’ve learned.

    • Kmillecam says:

      Alisa, this comment is amazing. Thank you for writing all of that out. You are an inspiration in so many ways.

      • Alisa says:

        Oh thanks, but ack! The bad grammar! The last sentence of #1 should be “If they know you AREN’T stubborn or static, and that this crisis is part of your overall journey, they’re more likely to support you.” Critical negation was omitted there. 🙂

  8. Amy says:

    I really enjoyed your comment. Although I don’t know what you are doing that makes you feel like you are less Mormon than you were, I think you are sounding like you are really getting to the spirit of things and learning that the gospel really isn’t all the “to do” lists that we expect of ourselves or think that others expect of us.
    I also love how you are finding truth in many places. The truth IS in many places beyond just the Mormon church. We have the fulness of the ordinances, but there is still much truth out there and there is room for all truth (as long as it is really truth!)
    I really like how beautifully you expressed how you feel and what you’ve been going through. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Hydrangea says:

    I appreciate reading Exponent because of the women who open up their lives in a vulnerable way to frankly write about what they are doing to find happiness and contentment. I also love the carefully crafted observations on “random” topics (with a feminist twist.)

    I love reading how women grieve, recompose, and then revive themselves when crisis (of any source)inflicts them.

    I am mother of 2 kids that absolutely loves putting on pants and going to work (part time.) Even before I knew what real boobs were (age 11 or 12 ) I have been convinced that LDS women deserve more prominence and respect in our culture. I am an Alaskan girl who loves all things Alaska (well, minus Sarah Palin :)) This year we relocated to Washington D.C. and unknowingly moved into a neighborhood where we are literally the only white family. It’s eye opening and I love it.
    I am fascinated with the way class, culture, religion, race, and gender fabricate our identity, create our belief systems, and project our life outcomes.
    Thank you Exponent for encouraging women to expand themselves.

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