Review: Daughters in my Kingdom

The Church has put out a new book titled “Daughters in My Kingdom: The history and work of the Relief Society.” I got my hands on a copy of it yesterday (being married to the ward clerk helps) and got a chance to look it over pretty well this afternoon. The description from the news release :

The 208-page book is organized by themes such as family, sisterhood and charity. Each chapter includes stories of Latter-day Saint women throughout history and around the world today. President Beck said the book is designed to be user-friendly for readers with varying literacy levels. It is also visually inviting, with every page featuring colorful photographs and beautiful artwork.

I will say that the full color format of the book was a bit surprising to me. There are pictures on literally every page. It is paperback, and has the same feel as the current Gospel Essentials book. I will also agree that it is appropriate for readers with ‘varying literacy levels,’ and as it is a book for every member of the church I do think that is a good thing. Another interesting tidbit from the news release is this:

Daughters in My Kingdom is unique within the Church because it was written by an individual woman rather than a committee. The writer is former general Young Women president Susan W. Tanner, who is now serving a mission in Brazil with her husband.

Individually authored books published by the church seemed to have gone the way of the dodo with the rise of the correlation committee. This is a very interesting departure from that established pattern. The recurring question everyone has is: what is it for? The news release has this to say:

Copies of Daughters in My Kingdom will be distributed to women around the world to be used as a resource for personal study and for teaching in the Church and in the home.

And as far as I know that it is the entire answer. It will not be used for 3rd hour lessons next year- I’ve heard we’ll be using another Teachings of the Prophets book. I get the impression that local Relief Society presidencies can use it as material for their 1st Sunday lessons. But to be honest the book isn’t really laid out for teaching from. It reads almost like an extra long Ensign article.

Content wise it is full of women’s voices. There are 10 chapters. The first chapter highlights many (most? all?) the women that are mentioned in the New Testament. It also makes note of all the ways that the Savior was attuned to women; how He was considerate of, included and taught the women around Him. It also draws attention to the way that the women of the New Testament had ecclesiastical duties, and draws parallels between those duties and the current ways that women serve in the church through the Relief Society.

Chapters 2-7 move chronologically through the establishment of the Relief Society to the present day. These chapters and the ones following quote extensively from the minutes of the Relief Society and from various women’s journals- something that I really appreciate. Reading first hand accounts from women of that time is something the average member of the church rarely, if ever, gets to do. These chapters were absolutely wonderful, in my opinion.

It also goes over historical facts that I never learned about at church, seminary, or institute. While professional and amateur church historians may be underwhelmed with the history presented it is still a huge step forward as far as presenting women’s history in official church publications. There is a subchapter on plural marriage. There is also a subchapter on the Indian Student Placement program. In my opinion those subchapters have been whitewashed, but I think it is better that they are mentioned at all rather than largely omitted (as with the Wilford Woodruff manualon plural marriage).

Chapters 8-10 are mostly apologetics on the church’s teachings about women and women’s roles. These three chapters, about the Priesthood, Motherhood, and “living up to your privileges,” are the most disappointing part of the book. The best way I can think to describe it is that as the book progresses it becomes more and more constrained.

The chapter on the Priesthood is, well, it is. It quotes almost every talk in recent memory about how the blessings of the Priesthood are available to all. Though thankfully it omits the idea that motherhood is the parallel to Priesthood.

The chapter on motherhood, “Guardians of the Hearth,” was a tough read for me; especially following on the heels of the first chapters. The early chapters of the book paint an expansive vision of women working together with men to lead and change the world in every possible way, and the later chapters paint women into the corner of changing the world through homemaking.

The early chapters quote women extensively, by name, telling first hand accounts. The later chapters quote general authorities telling second hand stories about ‘a woman’ or ‘a mother’ that they met in their travels. The early chapters take pains to point out how teachings about the roles and duties of women apply to men as well. One example is on page 19

[Joseph Smith] counseleld the sisters:”Let this society teach how to act towards husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection.”

In the very next paragraph (page 20)

In other settings, the Prophet gave similar counsel to men, saying that a husband’s duty is to “love, cherish, and nourish his wife” and “regard her feelings with tenderness.”

This parallel structure is missing in the later chapters of the book where it counsels women to place home and family responsibilities first in their lives- to the exclusion of practically everything else. The early chapters describe women seeing needs in their communities, then gaining educations in order to be equipped to meet those needs (p 54-55). They describe women who were entrepreneurial, and how the Relief Society helped women gain self sufficiency- even serving as a way help women obtain paid employment (p 66-67) and how this blessed the women, their families and their communities. The later chapters describe President Amy Lyman who “encouraged women to do all they could to be at home and teach their children.” It also quotes Sister Beck describing a woman’s eternal role as being a nurturer, and going on to define nurturing as “cooking, washing clothes and dishes and keeping an orderly home. … Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth.” (p 166-167)

I have the impression that this book was made because many women in the church don’t have ‘the vision‘ when it comes to Relief Society. The hope was that by teaching the history of the Relief Society women would catch ‘the vision’ and gain a sense of the importance of their part in building the Kingdom of God and how Relief Society is the organization to help women do that. They would see what the women of the Relief Society used to do, and discover that we are a part of the same organization.

My thoughts are that modern women don’t see the scope and opportunity in Relief Society that previous generations saw, because the modern Relief Society is *not* the same organization it once was. The sphere of influence of the Relief Society has slowly yet steadily been in decline for generations. This book inadvertently does an excellent job of documenting that decline. However I don’t think this book, on it’s own, will do much to help make the modern Relief Society into the Relief Society of old.

Starfoxy

Starfoxy is a fulltime caretaker for her two children.

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73 Responses

  1. Charity says:

    Thanks for the break down on the new book. I’ve wondered what it was all about since I saw it online recently.

    I think the phrase “Guardians of the Hearth” is the most problematic for me. It is an attempt to make women feel a sense of ownership toward the home as our domain, so to speak. The word “guardians” almost seems to carry a kind of authority with it, that is, until you remember that we’re told that it’s our husbands who are actually supposed to preside at home. It couldn’t say “Presidents of the Hearth” now could it? (not even “co-presidents.”) Wouldn’t want to give us TOO much authority of the place where we supposedly should be spending all of our time and energies.

    I am encouraged at least by the attempt to make women more visible in the church. Unfortunate that it has to have that propaganda aftertaste.

  2. Whitney says:

    Thank you for this nuanced review. It’s interesting how we are seeing the same double-speak and dual messages in this book that we see elsewhere in the church (women as educated, multi-faceted individuals equal to men vs. women should be in the home and men should lead). It sounds like there’s some really good stuff in the book, but also some stuff that would just give me more reason to be bitter and cynical.

    What I would love to see is for this book to be promoted as a resource for lessons in both RS AND priesthood meetings. I think that would be truly progressive, to have a book written BY women (I’m including the first-hand accounts here) and ABOUT women being framed as something relevant for ALL church members. I’m sick of the notion that priesthood lessons are for everyone, but only women need to learn about Relief Society. Wouldn’t it just be so cool for an EQ president to use a couple of these women’s stories from this book as examples in his lesson?

    • Keri Brooks says:

      “Wouldn’t it just be so cool for an EQ president to use a couple of these women’s stories from this book as examples in his lesson?”

      That would be great. This morning in sacrament meeting, a brother in my ward was giving a talk about hope. He quoted scriptures, told stories, and then he included a quote by one of the former RS general presidents. He delivered the quote with just as much gravitas as someone would give to a quote from a member of the Quorum of the 12, and he did it in such an un-self-conscious way, as if it was completely normal to quote female church leaders. I thought it was cool.

  3. “The early chapters quote women extensively, by name, telling first hand accounts. The later chapters quote general authorities telling second hand stories about ‘a woman’ or ‘a mother’ that they met in their travels.”

    We’ll know we’ve achieved equality when we have a book for LDS men which quotes Mormon women leaders telling stories about a man or father they met on their travels.

  4. Kirsten says:

    It’s disappointing that the book doesn’t tell individual women’s stories from today. It’s not like there aren’t any out there! I just finished “Mormon Women: Portraits and Conversations” by James N. Kimball and Kent Miles. The stories these women tell are real, honest, faith-promoting and modern.

  5. E says:

    Thanks for the interesting review.

  6. Jessawhy says:

    Great review, Starfoxy.
    I’m excited to get my hands on this book, although it may make my little booklet of “Words of Wisdom” a little less popular.

    • Starfoxy says:

      I don’t think it will displace the Words of Wisdom booklet at all. It’s an entirely different sort of book. The vast majority of ‘quotable’ quotations in this book are about either the RS itself, or a very narrow range of topics. Almost everything else in the book is stories.

    • Kmillecam says:

      I say the more the merrier. I am guessing that even though the books are different, since the idea for use is the same then they will help each other out 🙂

    • whoa-man says:

      I agree. For me it shows that we are headed in the right direction. For all the grief we get about WAVE, etc. The RS presidency is essentially doing the same thing (albeit very differently and we could talk about that for hours) by raising the voice of women in the church though this book. I want MORE and will take it even if it neglects some of the more difficult subjects like how can we be equal and men preside?, what of Heavenly Mother?, why aren’t women in the church today like those of the past? etc.

      Thanks so much for this post! We really needed a good honest review. I WISH that for ONCE they would teach from women’s voices to the men in the church. Now that would be revolutionary and make a TON of difference.

  7. C says:

    I find it frustrating that the book emphasized the homemaking role of women when we find that many of the accomplished women in the Church have been outstanding career women, ie. Sheri Dew, Cheiko Okasaki, and Barbara Thompson to name a few.

    I wish that women were encouraged to develop their talents, whether they are in or out of the home. We do not teach women in the Church to love and care for themselves, and this book seems to enforce that problem.

    • BethSmash says:

      I think it would be great, if we ALSO promoted men to pursue their talents if they are in the home talents. Which we often ignore. I have a friend who would be the best stay at home dad, but it’s not something our mormon culture, or our american culture values.

  8. Spunky says:

    I trust your review, and with that, I am underwhelmed by the book. I have to say that I am also disappointed by the title and that the target audience is only Mormon women; although since it seems less than progressive and undermining in the position of women as equals, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise- after all, what if Mormon men were to read this and further berate us by quoting women? As for the title, whilst I love positioning women as daughters of God, I can’t think of a single male-framed book that refers to men as “sons”… men are titled as prophets, priesthood holders, etc., i.e. authority figures. In titling and positioning women as daughters, rather than leaders in His Kingdom, we are diminished. I find it disappointing and even alarming… probably not what they were going for in a title.

    It also bothers me that as you have described it- it has been written for readers of varying literacy levels. I wonder if this is done because it makes it easier to translate into various languages? But in that, the church has a grand reputation for being an American church; by simplifying the history of women (likely by and large focusing on American examples, I would guess), and selling Mormon female ideology in this format, it aids in the international perspective of the American woman as an indulgent (because she doesn’t need the money from an outside job) and submissive housewife. Pretty scary international implications with this.

    I guess it is nice that they even tried to do something to officially recognize the history of women in the church, but I suspect that women like Eliza R. Snow, Ardath Kapp, Barbara Thompson and Sheri Dew are sidelined as righteous women who will one day get the reward of motherhood, as though they are third class individuals (behind men, then mothers) and whom there is no real impact on Mormon women’s history (if they even bother to mention that Snow was childless), which further diminishes all women into baby-making machines as the only symbol of “real” value.

    I envisioned something so much more than this– a hard copy series of 5 books or more; real detail, real women. I am so sad now. So sad. Thanks for the head’s up- I can properly set my sights much lower now…

    • BethSmash says:

      As for the title, whilst I love positioning women as daughters of God, I can’t think of a single male-framed book that refers to men as “sons”… men are titled as prophets, priesthood holders, etc., i.e. authority figures.

      You are right! I’ve never thought of that. Next time I give a talk I’m gonna say something about everyone beings daughters and sons of God. You do, occasionally hear ‘children’ but I never really thought of the lack of ‘sons’.

      • chris says:

        Son of God (referring to Jesus, too many references to list).
        Sons of Moses (referring to all the priesthood in the Oath & Covenant of the Priesthood sec. 84 — which blessings have also been said to apply to women, so daughters of Moses would also be inferred)
        Sons of Helaman (stripling warriors)
        Sons of God (numerous places in D&C and elsewhere)
        Sons of men (numerous places in D&C and elsewhere)

      • BethSmash says:

        Chris,
        What I meant was that in Sacrament meeting talks – I often hear people say we are children of God (or God’s children – although that one is rarer). And I’ve heard a lot of women say, we are daughters of God (or daughters of our Heavenly Father [who loves us as we love Him 😉 ]). But rarely, in the wards I have attended, have I heard a man or a woman talk about how we are daughters and sons of God. It usually is children of God (or Heavenly Father) when talking about us, about the present day aspect of being part of this human race, particularly. OR if they DO mention that we are Daughters and Sons of God it is in the reverse order, sons and daughters of God. Sometimes something as small as word order can make you perk up your ears, as it’s not something you’re necessarily expecting.

      • JacobHalford says:

        I think the EFY medley is an great example of this strange juxtaposition of male and female descriptions and the general lack of a sons of God in common discourse. The women sing about being daughters of God, and sisters in Zion, and the boys sing about being in the Army of Helamen and bringing the world his truth. The two metaphors are striking in the power roles they advocate for each sex one of meekness and submission as a daughter of God, one a military role of conquering the world.

    • Starfoxy says:

      after all, what if Mormon men were to read this and further berate us by quoting women?
      What is interesting to me is that the shift in content between the first part and the last part of the book makes this less likely. The last few chapters reflect primarily male voices. And the quotes from women that are in the last chapters are all recent.

    • spunky says:

      Uh, Chris… I am talking about this:

      Abraham, the Friend of God: The Spiritual Journey of a Great Prophet and the Three Women in His Life, by Petersen

      Brigham Young: Modern Moses, Prophet of God, by Gibbons

      Even the Prophet Started Out as a Deacon: The Power of Your Aaronic Priesthood Ordination, by Barker

      The titles are inclusive of terms which place men in power, as prophets, and as friends of God. In Tanner’s book, women are “daughters”; I think this weakens and positions women as child-like, whereas men are positioned as friends, leaders, owners of priesthood/authority.

      Capiche?

      • chris says:

        One of if not the crowning doctrine and blessings of the church is to make us into the sons (and daughters) of Moses, the seed of Aaron and Abraham, the elect of God – ie having extended to us the possibility of being exhalted to receive all God has and is. The promises made to them become available to us as we are accounted with their posterity. I understand what you are saying but do not see son or daughter as being negative. Its funny because I just discussed this particular scripture with the young men last sunday and when we talked about exaltation and the oath and covenant one suggested the prophet was the one who would receive that and I suggested we read the verse again and see that to be a “son of moses” who received the Lords servants was no less important and in this context greater

      • spunky says:

        I agree that it is not derogatory to be considered a son or a daughter of God. But when there is a dearth of church publications that assign anything other than motherhood or daughterhood to LDS women, in comparison to titles of power, authority, priesthood and titles afforded to men, it is a reminder that we are only seen in terms of familial roles, rather than in terms of general spiritual contribution.

        Will you assign this book as reading to the Young Men in your ward? I hope you do, though in terms of masculinity, I would guess that the Young Men would be opposed to reading anything with the term ‘daughter’ in the title in comparison to reading something with the words ‘power’ or ‘leader’ in the title.

  9. Corktree says:

    Like Spunky, I’m a little disappointed as well. I’ll reserve judgment for when I actually read it, but my first reaction to hearing about this project was that they were doing it in reaction to the amount of women that are becoming dissatisfied with the status quo and expectations, numbers that are probably even higher than we imagine because most women don’t ever say or do anything about it. So I was expecting something to counter that, not reinforce it with both subtle and not-so-subtle messages. Maybe I was even hoping they’d prove me wrong. Though I guess we can hope that readers will see what you saw in the decline of RS influence over the years.

  10. Emily U says:

    Thanks for the review – I was curious about the book. Was.

    Your last paragraph hit the nail on the head.

  11. Starfoxy says:

    I feel I should add that the first chapters of the book really are as wonderful as the last chapters are disappointing. Perhaps the last chapters are only as disappointing as they were simply because the first half of the book set my expectations too high.
    Overall I would still say the book is a net positive.

  12. Charity says:

    “Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth.”

    Can we chew on this little nugget for a minute? Really? The thousands of hours I spend slaving for my bachelor’s degree in music will avail me nothing if I “do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth?”

    I can’t imagine the church telling my husband his degree in medicine is useless because he isn’t a homemaker. How are those two things even related?

    (Maybe I’m taking the quote out of context and this critique is unfair, but GEEZ!)

    • I do think that “mak[ing] a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth” has very little to do with cleaning, cooking, sewing, decorating, and so forth.

      • Charity says:

        I agree. But no matter what it entails, it’s not fair to say that the value of my education (in an entirely different field) is completely dependent upon whether or not I carry it out

  13. Hillary says:

    Maybe a more equality-minded way of looking at Sis. Beck’s quote would be that all the successes and achievements one might have, whether one is male or female, are not as important as creating an environment for oneself in which one can grow closer to and develop a relationship with God. While she may be directing her counsel at women, maybe we can re-frame it so instead of a man-woman issue, it’s a call to prioritize spiritual growth for yourself, if for no one else. Maybe we can conceptualize it as counsel to nurture one’s own spirituality above all else; after all, everyone has agency and is accountable for her/his own choices. A woman or man might have earned a medical degree and enjoyed a successful medical practice, but if she or he has no relationship with God and has neglected her or his spirituality, what’s it all worth in the end?

  14. Hillary says:

    FWIW, I believe husbands and wives have equal responsibility in creating a home environment in which spirituality can grow and thrive. To place that responsibility squarely on women is shortsighted, unfair, and overly restrictive. Here’s an extreme example: you could have a woman who is the epitome of traditional LDS womanhood, who stays at home to create immaculately groomed children, gourmet meals, and a spotless house, but the home environment could be completely undermined by a husband with a bad attitude, or worse yet, an abusive husband. Is the poor spiritual environment in that home the wife’s fault then? Of course not.

  15. EM says:

    Ditto, Hillary. I was one of those SAHM of 4, and considered myself a Molly Mormon Mom with a husband who worked way too much for the sake of making more money – near drove me over the edge. I think the church leadership do women a great disservice by telling them that their place is in the home – that’s okay if you have a husband whose place is also in the home and in the work world. Sadly there are some husbands who are not completely supportive. My saving grace was going out into the world and making a difference there as well as my home – I felt better and my kids were happier. I’m dreading reading this book, I’m feeling that it may be condescending and all that church leaders are doing is trying to appease women who think differently than they do. I will give it a read and a fair judgement though. I appreciate all the other comments too – it helps.

  16. Bree says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful review.

    Any plans to forward your review to Salt Lake?

  17. Joy says:

    “I agree that it is not derogatory to be considered a son or a daughter of God. But when there is a dearth of church publications that assign anything other than motherhood or daughterhood to LDS women, in comparison to titles of power, authority, priesthood and titles afforded to men, it is a reminder that we are only seen in terms of familial roles, rather than in terms of general spiritual contribution.”

    Are you suggesting then, when we refer to Heavenly Father we are only seeing Him in terms of a familial role rather than a spiritual role? To me they are one and the same.

  18. sweepswon@cox.net says:

    “Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth.”

    I don’t believe this references cleaning, cooking, and being a slave to the home as most of the comments suggest but truly what it SAYS “creating a climate for spiritual growth.” It means we have a responsibility to show love, compassion, and devotion to our families and to teach our children the same.
    I’m disappointed with most of the comments on this site as it sounds like women who fill “slighted” because their husbands go to work and get to hold the priesthood.
    I’m a college educated bachelor degreed RN who made the choice to stay home and raise my children. I don’t feel like the church “made me do it” but gave me the foundation to understand that I have the ability to influence and change lives. What can be more powerful than that?
    If you want to do something outside of the home, use your college educated skills to contribute to the community in other ways besides the “proverbial” work-force. Volunteer-anywhere. Join the local school board, sports board, etc.
    If your house isn’t perfect and you didn’t make a gourmet meal for dinner, so be it. Enjoy your family and enjoy being a woman!
    Use the book to help you feel positive with the gift of womanhood.

    • Alisa says:

      But what about women who don’t have a man to provide for them? This quote is about any woman’s education being of no avail if she’s unable to use it in a nurturing way in the home to grow spirits. The fact that this quote applies perfectly to you does not mean it applies to all adult women (married or not, childbearing or not, in a developed nation or not). Instead of saying that all working Mormon women should instead be volunteering, you might want to take a step back and realize that almost all of us working women (single, married, mothers, or childless) work because we *need* to. For example, I am the sole provider for my family. And believe you me, if I did not get paid for the work I do, I would not be doing it. Instead of volunteering in all of the ways you praise over paid work, I would spend my precious time with my child, my dying father, my dying grandmother, and other people in my life whom I care about. I am not seeking glory through my career. I am seeking to keep my family alive and to make a difference by showing them fiscal responsibility.

      Your comment smacks of the privilege you enjoy because you are not the sole financial provider, or substantial financial provider, for your family. I am truly disgusted by your lack of empathy and your urge that I sign up to coach some other kids’ soccer team rather than provide for a roof over my child’s head and food in his mouth, as if there is something discraceful about a mother earning an income to pay for the necessities of life for her child.

      And by the way, I fully enjoy “being a woman” by providing for my family financially and through other ways. It’s one of the most adult, heart-felt, heart-wrenching, compassionate acts of love any person could do, to go through a job day after day just to see that her children are brought up with food to eat, clothes to wear, and books to read. There isn’t a moment where I am at work that I am not thinking of how my son deserves to have an honest, hard-working, dedicated mother who takes her career and role as provider seriously. It’s motherly, it’s feminine, it’s powerful, and ther is no doubt that this is God’s calling for me and that I am doing the right thing by providing for my family.

    • Brenda says:

      Love your comment sweepswon. This book has touched my heart and taught me much. Finished reading a few weeks ago but I continue to read and study.

  19. April says:

    Okay, so I finally got my copy of this book today and read the first 20 pages. Here is my take so far.

    I had a bit of dread about reading a book about the history of RS because that inspiring story of how RS began doesn’t do it for me the way it does for other people. I know we are supposed to think it is really cool that when women came up with their own idea for a women’s service organization, Joseph Smith came in and took over and deleted all of their plans, made his wife the president, and created his own women’s org “under” the priesthood (i.e. men), but that bit of history bothered me even when I first learned about it as a kid. So, as usual, I was annoyed while reading this account in “Daughters in my Kingdom.” That is not the author’s fault. The history, itself, is annoying to me. Since most people seem to like this story, I doubt it will bother most other readers.

    But the author’s subtle editorial jibes at the early female participants are bothering me as well:

    The title of this chapter, “Something Better” referring to the idea that Joseph Smith’s version of a women’s organization was such an improvement over what the women had come up with themselves

    “Of all the minutes Sister Snow recorded, her notes on the Prophet’s discourses were the most influential.” So, when women discoursed at their own meeting it was never as worthwhile as when the one guy stood up to talk?

    I really am trying to like this book, since I like the idea of the church publishing its female history, so hopefully the next 180 pages will work better for me.

  20. Jack Ply says:

    First off, I am really glad to find this blog. I’ve been searching online for a review of this book for the last few days because my wife just recieved it on Sunday. As someone who is interested in feminism and history, I found it interesting from the moment I saw it. I began flipping through it on the way home and I swear I have a gift for finding the most controversial or negative content whenever I open a book. I turned immediately to page 157 and was reading the relief societies postwar (WWII) section which had this to say:

    “Sister Julie B. Beck taught about the role
    of nurturing: ‘To nurture means to cultivate,
    care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers
    [should] create a climate for spiritual and
    temporal growth in their homes. Another word
    for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking
    includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes,
    and keeping an orderly home. Home is where
    women have the most power and influence;
    therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be
    the best homemakers in the world. Working
    beside children in homemaking tasks creates
    opportunities to teach and model qualities
    children should emulate. Nurturing mothers
    are knowledgeable, but all the education
    women attain will avail them nothing if they do
    not have the skill to make a home that creates
    a climate for spiritual growth. . . . Nurturing
    requires organization, patience, love, and work.'”

    I was floored. It seems to me that the book is teaching that if my wife is not homemaking, then her education (which pays my tuition every semester) will avail her nothing. She actually does clean the house more than I do, which I am ashamed of, nonetheless I’m glad to hear that the beginning of the book is more focused on the women in the NT and early church because the last part in my opinion is dangerous.

    • Jack Ply says:

      Ok, it’s obvious that HTML is too much for me to handle. I hope my post makes sense… sorry for the bold and words ‘blockquote cite” Lol!

      • April says:

        No worries. I fixed your HTML for you.

        Glad you found us, too. I am only at page 22, but am not looking forward to page 157, based on your little preview. Chapter 1, about New Testament women, was nice. Unfortunately, I had issues with chapter 2. (See my earlier comment.) If the beginning is the best part, and I am already cringing at chapter 2, and I have quotes like this one to look forward to as I get farther into the book, I am a little scared to continue reading.

      • Jack Ply says:

        Oh wow! Thanks for fixing that for me! I should probably try to learn HTML one day, I’m somewhat of a luddite I guess. Not on purpose of course, it just sort of happened that way. Yeah, I think I will go back through the book when I get some time because it sounds like there are some pretty awesome features, such as highlighting Old and New Testament women. That is certainly something that seems to have been largely neglected when I was a kid. As someone that studies U.S. postwar history though, I was pretty upset by the teachings in that section, but oh well I’m sort of used to that.

  21. Annie B. says:

    Thanks for the review, I feel much the same way. One part in the beginning under “Defending Plural Marriage” struck a nerve with me just because I’m still struggling with the practice of polygamy in early church history.

    “…many people in the United States believed that women who lived the law of plural marriage were degraded and abused. As a result of a general misunderstanding about the Latter-day Saints and their beliefs, the national government passed legislation forbidding polygamous marriages.”

    I totally respect my ancestors for their obedience. I’ve read some of their journal entries about how the practice repulsed them, but that they received personal witnesses that it was what they should do. But it still bothers me when anyone tries to pass the practice off as not degrading. I know the author probably meant that the women weren’t forced or physically abused, but to say that they weren’t degraded really bothered me. Especially in the case of Emma Smith, not to mention the rhetoric and doctrine that was used as coercion. As for the experiences of the women, there are journal entries and quotes on the practice from the women living it that record their mental anguish over sharing their spouse, that they could not find comfort or intimacy (not talking physical but I’m sure that could have been an issue too) in their polygamous union, as well as feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.

    As a child I was exposed to the stories of my ancestors living the principle of plural marriage, and even though I’m 100+ years removed from the practice, it had an effect on my self worth, making me feel expendable and second class. What’s worse is that when I grew up and realized that Joseph Smith condemned polygamy publicly while practicing it secretly, even keeping many things from Emma, I was seriously freaked out, wondering if my own dad and husband also had secret wives. I know that’s extreme, but that is honestly what I felt. I was unable to cope with the feelings and for several years I avoided going to church because it brought up too much anxiety. I’ve recently tried going back with my husband, trying to allow myself to take in the things that give me peace without being overwhelmed by the topics that give me anxiety, but it’s still hard and I’m not sure where I’ll go from here.

  22. Cranky says:

    One of my least favorite quotes in the book DOES equate nurturing and essentially womanhood with housecleaning.

    Sister Julie B. Beck taught about the role
    of nurturing: “To nurture means to cultivate,
    care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers
    [should] create a climate for spiritual and
    temporal growth in their homes. Another word
    for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking
    includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes,
    and keeping an orderly home. Home is where
    women have the most power and influence;
    therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be
    the best homemakers in the world.” p. 157

    Man I felt like a valued asset in the kingdom after reading that. After all, if I wasn’t scrubbing toilets, then my husband might have to do it, which would clearly distract him from the REALLY important kingdom work, so it’s a good thing us “daughters” are here to save the day.

    • Singlee says:

      NOW I know why I’m not married with children: I have a disability, and am not able to do lots of housework. Clearly, I would stink as a wife and mother. Thank you, Relief Society and Sister Beck, for clearing that up for me.

  23. Cranky says:

    Haha, sorry, I just saw that someone else posted this quote too. Ironic that we were both independently ticked about the same thing.

  24. Andrew says:

    Call me crazy, but I for one, would much rather spend my entire day, every day nurturing and teaching my children rather than spinning in the hamster wheel of fortune or jockeying for position in the rat race.
    Is there something repugnant and stigmatic that comes with ‘homemaking’ and nurturing children that I just don’t understand?
    How about cleaning? Cooking? —Two more things that make me very happy considering the results are yummy food and a clean home. Two of my favorite things.
    Is working every day for money and the praise of men really better and more fulfilling than rearing your very own children?

    Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side? Someone please help me see what I don’t.

    • April says:

      How about waste management? Waste disposal makes me very happy, considering the results are having my garbage whisked away in a big truck instead of littering my home. Or sewage treatment? The results of sewage treatment also make me happy, because I enjoy clean water and dislike the smell of human waste. It is hard for me to understand why everyone wouldn’t want to enter these fields of labor, considering how important they are and how they lead to wonderful results.

      I do value the people who do these important jobs, but it would seem a little silly to demand that half the human population do only these kinds of work, especially if we demanded that they do this for their whole life span, to the exclusion of any other task. It also seems a little strange if we can’t empathize with people who would not feel fulfilled doing such important life work as waste management or sewage treatment.

    • Emmaline says:

      Andrew –
      If you’d rather it, have you thought about negotiating that option with your wife? I’m sure a suitable compromise of some sort could be reached.

  25. Andrew says:

    It seems to me that the Church Welfare System has been addressing most all the issues that once fell squarely on the shoulders of the Relief Society.
    It seems that the primary role of women of the Relief Society if focused on the family and is to raise up a righteous posterity. I couldn’t agree more.
    Quoting a talk by given in General Conference by Sister Nadauld, “(Women of God/Daughters of God) understand what Elder Neal A. Maxwell meant when he said: “When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?” 4

    Daughters of God know that it is the nurturing nature of women that can bring everlasting blessings, and they live to cultivate this divine attribute. Surely when a woman reverences motherhood, her children will arise up and call her blessed (see Prov. 31:28).

    Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.
    http://lds.org/ensign/2000/11/the-joy-of-womanhood?lang=eng

  26. SilverRain says:

    Andrew, the repugnant part is being told your role by others who will never have to share it in the same way, and then being dismissed if you try to be anything else.

    • Starfoxy says:

      For me the repugnant part is the complete financial dependence that comes with the role, and the unsavory ways that dependence can crop in a relationship. And those unsavory dynamics aren’t limited to unhealthy or abusive marriages either.
      In many, dare I say most, relationships with a dependent spouse one will be able to find a pattern where the dependent spouse defers prematurely, or the providing spouse “pulls rank” on a point of disagreement because the dependent spouse has no other options and they both subconsciously know it. They may not even realize such a thing has ever happened to them.

      • Marie says:

        You make a good point here. I’m currently the primary provider for my family and I’m sure my husband is feeling a lot of the stress that most SAHMs feel. He has an insight into the situation that most dads will never get. We’re raising two children and I went back to work after each one when they were less than two months old. I know other women who say, “Well, I just had faith and quit my job and knew things would work out for us.” Well, good on you. In my situation, I see it as a matter of fiscal responsibility to stay working. I’m lucky in that I enjoy my job and I feel like I’m making a positive difference in the world with my work. But there’s not a day that goes by that I secretly long to have that “picture-perfect” life of staying home with my kids, baking them bread, reading stories, doing crafts, blogging my every waking minute…you follow me? Every now and then I get that “picture perfect” day, and the next day I’m SO ready to get back to work because IT’S A FANTASY. It’s rough, it’s hard, and it’s not all roses.

        I think for many it’s a matter of “the grass is greener” syndrome. There are probably many women who really should be working some outside the home and others who really should be at home a little bit more. Each woman needs to know, through prayer and personal revelation, that her choice is right for her family.

        And on another topic–why is everyone so quick to get annoyed at Sister Beck’s comment about needing the skills to create a home where the spirit can thrive? To start with, I knew Sister Beck in the MTC (her husband was in the branch presidency) and not ONCE did I ever get the sense that she was a demurring, my-husband-calls-all-the-shots, “traditional” LDS woman. She was strong, loving, kind, and powerful. So I guess I take most of what she says with that frame of reference and I don’t get offended by her comments.

        The way I read her comment is that it won’t matter how much education and such I have, if I can’t also translate that into helping the spirit be welcome in my home so that my family members can grow closer to God, then it won’t have done me much good in life.

  27. Gisela says:

    Andrew…. Even though I’m not as educated as many of my sisters here are, I’m going to speak up..

    I have been a SAHM for 15 years. My children are the most treasured blessings I will ever receive, IMO. There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to stay home with her children. If that fulfills that woman that is a wonderful thing. We are not all cut from the same mold though. Not all women naturally feel nuturing and charitable. I know a few that shouldn’t have been allowed to have children, but that’s not my call. Not all the women in RS will be wives and mothers. Some women find education and their jobs fulfilling. That doesn’t mean that their family doesn’t also. Not all women enjoy cooking and cleaning, just as not all men enjoy yardwork and fixing things. I am an individual before God… before I am an wife or mother. What ever choices a woman (or man) makes for her(his) life, (with her spouse if she has one), along with God, and receives personal revelation confirming that choice…. is not the business of anyone else, and does not need to qualify or explain it. Just because a woman has a job doesn’t mean she doesn’t revere motherhood. It’s not about money and praise. It’s about feeling like a complete person, for me anyway.

    I have 5 daughters I’m raising in the Church. They want to be teachers, doctors, veternarians, soccer players…. should I just tell them they shouldn’t aspire to those occupations because they are only going to be mothers? Should I lie and say, you can be whatever you want to be and not mean it? No… I teach them that they can be whatever they want to be, because I believe it. They can be both mothers and teachers or doctors or whatever. They can be a SAHM if they want, work part-time, work full-time… It’s about choosing their own lives instead of being stuffed into a role simply because they are female.

    No one should be rude, course, vain, greedy, etc. Not just women.

  28. missy pierce says:

    I had to stop reading all these comments on the book…
    I have been asked to present this book to all the sisters in our ward….the RS.
    I asked several sisters i work with in the temple their impressions of the book if they had read it yet. I heard nothing but the same feelings I felt “It was like reading scriptures.” “It was powerful. Especially the last 3 chapters” (the ones you hated) so weird, huh?
    we all have different understandings of the purpose of life, i suppose. The homemaker roll is only a season of life. My husband and I are empty nesters and I can’t WAIT for him to stop being the breadwinner and get home with me so we can NOW GO TO WORK in the Lord’s vineyard.
    Stop feeling like you are not respected and respect the process of growing up and being responsible without a bad attitude. Not one of you younger women spoke about your children and the importance of them above yourself…(to be fair, I could only read 1/2 of what is above).
    I underlined so much of the book and the beautiful quotes from men and women that i have writing on every page. I recomend it. I think that teaching and stirring the pot about the level of women in the church is dangerous if flat out false doctrine. As a ordinance worker, I feel the savior’s love and power that is beyond anything any job or earthly influence can overtake.
    Do not trust another’s discernment. Read it for yourself with a submissive spirit of learning and a desire to know what the Lord has instore for you.
    Basically, I learned the same lesson I learned when flying a commercial flight, “Apply your oxygen mask first before you help others” (or you are basically useless.)

  29. Deborah says:

    I just finished reading this book, and was very inspired by it. I loved the view it gave of women in the church, their great examples throughout history, and our important roles, both past and present.

    That said, it seems that the author of this article went into this looking for something to be critical of, with the need to find something to put down.

    How sad that so many readers will now go into reading it with that bias–or not read it at all because of that one opinion.

    I am educated, have a master’s degree, have worked, but now choose to be home with my children. I love the Lord, His church, and the Relief Society. This book is a beautiful testament of our divinity.

    • Annie B. says:

      I started reading it before I read this review (having a bishop for a dad has it’s advantages). But I got to the point where I mentioned above, felt sick to my stomach and could not read much more. I kept thinking about the equally important stories of women they didn’t tell on account of them not being “faith promoting”.

  30. Lisa says:

    Daughters In My Kingdom is a lovely GIFT that I have been given. I didn’t have to pay for it. It was a gift to me from my bishop. How grateful I am to have this gift!
    What beautiful illustrations and I am so fascinated with so many of the wonderful quotes. The spirit bears witness to me of the truth of these things everytime I read the book. What a blessing that we can be reminded of the love our Savior has for us. That we are different from men, gratefully and that we have a divine purpose. And that other women have had similiar trials which has strengthened their testimony.
    I have not felt that any comment was given to be demeaning as has been suggested by earlier posts. But have been written to encourage, uplift and edify. I love that Sis. Tanner wrote the book with no help from a committee. That she received direct inspiration as to what the Savior would have included in the book.
    I especially love Elder Widstoes quote on page 25. We are given the gift to have relief from Doubt and Ignorance.

    • Annie B. says:

      I also don’t feel that any words in the book were meant to be demeaning, but it is possible to demean without meaning to.

      “And that other women have had similiar trials which has strengthened their testimony.”

      The issues that I’m struggling with were barely mentioned in the book, and the little they were mentioned only saddened me.

      Deborah, I definitely appreciate this blog as a place where I can address feelings that I have with women who feel similarly as I do without (too much) fear of judgment. I can’t speak for the author of this post, but I didn’t come here because I’m looking to be critical. I came here because I have real fears and questions that are glossed over or not addressed at all by church leaders. Many of the women here address those things that I struggle with and express how they’ve overcome them with their testimonies in tact. I’m genuinely trying to figure out how I can do that and still be honest with myself.

  31. Deborah says:

    I like you, Annie. Thanks for being part of this warm, seeking community.
    Love,
    The x2permablogger Deborah

  32. Morning Joy says:

    Recently I had the opportunity to attend training conducted by members of the RS General Board for Single RS Presidencies in our Stake. One of the comments made about “Daughters of My Kingdom” was that the book was written for all women of the Church but especially directed to the young sisters. As I thought about the world that they will be raising their children in I felt a great sense of renewed gratitude for this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Relief Society. I was baptized when I was 29 as a divorced single Mother and had lived a life immersed in the ways of the world. The Church and the Relief Society literally saved my life. Satan is subtly distracting us from our powerful roles as women and men and at greatest risk are our young people. All we need do is look at the statistics. I plead that we can attune ourselves to the true purposes intended for this inspired writing and capture the vision of the generations to come who will benefit from its teachings and principles. Beware of being offended — it is one of the Adversary’s greatest tools. The Savior said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended” (John 16:1.) When we feel offended by someone or something let that be a red flag to us that perhaps Satan has us in his crosshairs — especially if it is concerning something coming from our General Church Leaders. We as women hold such great power as guardians of the hearth. “For the hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world.” (William Ross Wallace) What more could we want?

    • Annie B. says:

      “When we feel offended by someone or something let that be a red flag to us that perhaps Satan has us in his crosshairs — especially if it is concerning something coming from our General Church Leaders.”

      Thinking this way sets a dangerous precedent. It makes anyone not in a position of power in the church think that they never have a right to feel hurt, even when church leaders make a mistake. Which they do.

      • Morning Joy says:

        Considering that Satan seeks for us to be miserable like himself and that the Savior is an advocate of the plan that “men are that they might have joy”, I feel it’s dangerous not to run that check within when I’m trying to resolve issues. Before I found the Church I was so miserable (depressed, confused and unhappy). As I learned Gospel principles and about the Savior I felt so much joy that the contrast was astounding. So I guess that’s why I use that as a standard with my feelings. I never want to go back to that painful place & I’m always trying to keep that feeling of “joy” that I experienced then. While I know I can’t feel joy all of the time, I do believe we can feel peace even when we are having struggles. Yes, we are always going to be hurt in this life and sometimes sadly by Church Leaders and other church members whom we should be able to trust. The important thing is what we do with that hurt. Forgiveness is an important element of having joy, since not forgiving someone can stand in the way of our joy. D&C 64:10 A quote I once read said, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” My comment about being offended by our general church leaders related specifically to “Daughters in My Kingdom” because the First Presidency directed its preparation (see the letter at the beginning of the book). A very important truth to me is that the Lord will never allow the Prophet to lead us astray, so I can always trust His words. I may not always understand but I can trust that His position is the Savior’s. And when I don’t understand I can ask for help in understanding through prayer. We each have the power to receive personal revelation for ourselves no matter our calling in the Church.

      • Annie B. says:

        I think the fact that so many women feel similarly about some concepts in the book are an indication of something. Your experiences have shaped you and your feelings towards certain things, and likewise, many of the women here have had experiences that have shaped the way that they feel. I’ve had my feelings undercut and dismissed by well-meaning people implying that if I were only in tune with the spirit I’d feel the same way they do. I’m sorry, but I find that manipulative. It is much easier than truly listening and trying to understand someone else’s point of view though.

  1. December 14, 2011

    […] wrote an excellent critique of the book here.  And, Exponent II founding mother, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, gave an informal talk […]

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