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Trusting the Octogenarians

Running in about fifth place, right after “Are you the only wife?” “So, how many kids do you have?” “Aren’t you the ones who can’t drink soda?” and “How come Mormons can’t dance?” the most common question I have received about the church was, “How can you be in a church run by a bunch of old men?”

Somehow it never occurred to me to label Gordon B. Hinckley and the likes of Dallin Oaks merely as “old men.” But how, in passing, do you fairly portray the intelligence, love, wit, humor, devotion that these “old men” display year after year? The respect that we give to them has been earned by their service and we sincerely grow to love many of them, not only for who they are, but for how they have enriched our lives.

As a young woman (and now a not-ever-quite-middle-aged woman) in the church, however, I haven’t always felt that I related to the General Authorities particularly well. Of course their messages are universal (and wonderful and valuable), but my life…well…isn’t universal. It’s personal. So I have always appreciated the female perspective coming down from on high in the conference center. It has been important to me to hear LDS women teach me how to be a better LDS woman.

But our access to that perspective is limited to three talks at the General Relief Society Meeting each year in addition to the token females at General Conference. The scriptures, too, focus on men. So I admit that there have been times in my life I have felt just a bit forgotten.

I’ve never known how to express this thought without being labeled a heretic. When even a Bishop’s Youth Council request that the Young Men might, perhaps, do some of the service in the bishop’s “youth service project” were rebuffed, how do you move to larger issues of gender without sinking from the realm of irritant to full-fledged extremist?

LDS Blogger extraordinaire, Julie M. Smith, recently discussed a faithful way to dissent. It is a thoughtful post, well-worth reading. But one of the comments caught my eye. The poster said:

Your faith in octagenarians’ [sic] willingness to pray about certain subjects is much greater than mine.

While this may not have been the most respectful way to address this issue, it is an idea about which I have often wondered.

Someday I’m going to go through the Doctrine & Covenants and count the number of revelations that were received after a direct question from someone with authority to receive an answer, as opposed to the number of times God popped down on someone and dictated some crucial information. I don’t have any hard numbers, but the former seems to far exceed the latter. And, if the latter, then what is our position if the “octogenarians,” for whatever reason, have widely differing doctrinal questions than we do?

When President Hinckley soundly stated that women in the church don’t have a problem with gender issues, I nearly fell off my chair since I know so few who do not have gender issues of some sort or another. I sincerely wondered if it was just a generational thing because most of the women he associates closely with do not, in fact, have any issues? My own mother (who was 39 years my senior) was always (patiently and politely) baffled by own questions and concerns. She was bright and educated — and was still perfectly content with the status quo.

When I lived through four, excruciating, summer pregnancies in a subtropical climate, drenched to the skin in my many layers of cotton, and then dealt with myriad…ahem…nursing and other feminine post-pregnancy issues, I was pretty darned sure that none of the 70-plus-year-old men in Salt Lake were praying about practical garment styles for “that time of the month.”

Yes, I’m aware of personal revelation, but it’s often not incredibly useful when dealing with church policy issues.

So many times my husband has said, “Honey, why don’t you write a letter?” But I can’t for the life of me figure out to whom such a letter would be sent. And I can’t figure out how to do it without being perceived on par with one of those women who stood outside the gates at temple square wearing garments over their clothes or the ones who stood up in General Conference at the sustaining of President Hinckley and yelled, “No!”

Sometimes it seems the only appropriate thing to do is to wish and pray (silently) about those things that trouble me and hope beyond hope that someone in Salt Lake, someday, might also start to wonder about the same things. Our age and gender difference notwithstanding.

{ 65 comments… add one }
  • daisy June 5, 2007, 9:16 pm

    Alison, I enjoyed your article. It got me thinking. Especially the part about God usually gives answers to questions. We have to ask before we recieve.

    Also, I remember in the 70’s thinking it was highly unfair that the young men got to wear short shorts to for basketball games at church and the girls got to wear these baggy- below- the- knee things that the relief society sisters made for us (out of thick polyester no less). ANd the reason I was given was that the boys “hormones” couldn’t handle seeing us in short shorts.
    I was indignant.
    Were we, as girls ,sexless? Did they think the boys were not attractive to us? I didn’t complain mind you, I enjoyed going to the boys basketball games and watching them running around in almost nothing. But I did think their male perspective was quite naive to assume that girls did not appreciate the male physique as much as they appreciated ours.

    But I am not a heretic.

    A church that is run mostly by males is inheritantly going to be driven more by a male perspective. THat doesn’t mean the gospel isn’t true, it just means they are human. I have seen a lot of efforts in the past few years to see the womens perspective. It doesn’t change the gospel. It simply changes day to day operations so that everyone is more comfortable. And quite frankly, having a job that is run mostly by women(I am a flight attendant) I can tell you that I would MUCH, rather have things run by a man. I think there is more unbiased fairness in most men than in most women. NOt all mind you, but most.

    My mother talked to a temple worker about the fact that wearing her bra over her garment chaffed her till she had horrible red marks under her breasts and what should she do. THe temple worker told her to wear the bra under the garment, “they weren’t meant to be an item of torture” she told her. “God will understand”. I think there is room in the gospel for individual adaptation.

    ONe more comment, everytime I’m having a pms kind of moment my husbands tell’s me “If I were a woman I think I’d have a thing or two to tell the man upstairs when I see him” I then tell him it’s really not so bad, to which he rolls his eyes and says “yeah right”

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 6:51 am

    everytime I’m having a pms kind of moment my husbands tell’s me “If I were a woman I think I’d have a thing or two to tell the man upstairs when I see him”

    HA! I’ve often said that with His infinite wisdom, His miraculous creations and Omnipotence,
    that surely, He could have come up with something other than menstruation. :swingin:

    You know what my husband says? “Anything that can bleed for days, once a month and not die from it, is evil.”:rolling:

    I always give him a good smack after that!

    I don’t know why, but I’ve never had any male vs. female issues with the gospel. I know some do, but my experience has been the opposite of yours Alison. I’ve only known 2 or 3 in my entire life. It’s possible, that many I’ve known, DO have issues, and like you were just afraid to speak them for fear of being labled a heretic.
    Okay– I just thought of my one issue– the polygamy one. I undertstand it and I don’t understand it. Well– it’s not that I don’t understand it, it just goes against every gut instinct I have. Adam and Eve? Yeah– I get why it would be necessary then.
    I’m just very thankful that it’s something we don’t do anymore and I don’t have to worry about it!
    But when it comes to leadership? Talks in Conference? I’ve never had a problem with that. — Never thought that that the number of talkks should be more equally divided, that the scriptures are to male focused. I’ve just always applied it to me whether a man or woman is speaking, and regardless of whether the scripture story was written by a man, or is about a man, a woman… it’s never been an issue for me. It never seemed important to me.
    And honestly, I always like the talks by the “Brethren” better than the ones by the sisters. I feel bad saying so, but I always have to force myself to pay attention to their talks because they’re voices are so syrupy that they irritate me. Too many of them look and sound like they’re speaking to the Sunbeams, do you know what I mean? Now Sister Hinckley, I could listen to all day! But those who have heard her speak know that she spoke NOTHING like the sisters who speak in conference.

  • SilverRain June 6, 2007, 6:55 am

    This is a poignant discussion for me, because I feel very insignificant in this Church. I have felt this way since returning to Utah after I served a mission. With such a large Church, how can my needs and desires be anything but swallowed up in the whole? And it is especially poignant because I am literally falling apart. I would give almost anything for an hour alone with an apostle right now, just to talk.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 7:25 am

    See, Silver– this is something I TRY to understand, but I just don’t get. I don’t understand how ANYONE could feel insignificant in the Church. Could you explain that further? What exactly IS it that makes you feel insignificant?
    My GUESS– and I stress that it’s a GUESS– is that you feel insignificant, period. That you feel that way in the world in general. That you’d feel that way whether you were Baptist or Jewish.
    Because THOSE faiths believe as we do, regarding men and women. (Depending on the specific sect)
    UNLESS the thing that WOULD make you feel significant in the church is a position as Bishop, or being able to pass the Sacrament, or being able to choose to never marry without doctrine teaching otherwise, or to put off having children, not have them at all, or put them in daycare full time so you could enjoy a full time career…
    If it’s not any of that, then what is it? I’d love to understand, because I honestly can’t make sense of it since I don’t relate to those kinds of feelings regarding the church.

  • JustRandi June 6, 2007, 7:46 am

    Silver – When I read your comments I thought of the BORG from Star Trek, and laughed out loud. Not at you – just at the thought of everyone being assimilated.
    I have had problems with things in the church, but they have almost always been policies and not principles of the gospel. Like Alison’s experience with the Youth Service Project a policy and or procedure problem vs a principle like faith or repentance. In my life it’s been important for me to separate the two.

  • SilverRain June 6, 2007, 7:57 am

    facethemusic – you are right in saying that I feel insignificant in general. I once clung to the Church in the belief that I could somehow fit in – somehow contribute and find a place where I belonged. Upon returning from my mission, I first got the feeling that I was merely a number in a crowd when I tried to attend a conference and because I had no ticket, was shunted off to the side and secreted in a high upper balcony. That is not to say there is anything wrong in this, just that the experience made me see that I was, indeed, just one of a crowd. It is brought home most strongly to me in my week-to-week attendance at church. Never have my talents been wanted. Never have I had a purpose in Church.

    It may be my problem, and not a problem of the Church, but I wasn’t trying to say that it was the Church’s problem. I was just expressing how I feel.

    JustRandi – you are fortunate in never having had a crisis of faith. I, however, believe there is value in doubting but holding on despite that doubt and that there is no shame in doubting so long as you are seeking the will of the Lord.

  • JustRandi June 6, 2007, 8:22 am

    Absolutely. If there is no doubt, there can be no faith. I think the most faithful are those who are uncertain, but stick with it while they work it through. That is true faith.
    And I didn’t mean to imply that I’m a blind believer, just that for me personally, when I really dig down, most of the time my problem is not with the principles of the gospel. I know it’s different for everyone.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 9:43 am

    Posted By: facethemusicOkay– I just thought of my one issue– the polygamy one.

    LOL Just that itsy, bitsy one? I don’t even want to go there today. I’m grouchy enough already.

    [P.S. moved to the front of the post. I have never in my life been this vocal about this issue. It’s something I’ve kept mostly to myself, with some ranting on my dear husband, and occasional outbursts on one bit or another. Whether anyone understand show I feel or not, here it is. Someday I hope those thoughts and feelings can be attributed to something other than raving estrogen.]

    Personally, I have often had an issue with the priesthood gender distinction. Sometimes like when I was 11 and the boy who’d bullied me for six straight years got the priesthood it was devastating, and made me feel that being male was the only, significant thing not being good or doing good or keeping the commandments. Other times (most of the time) it’s been something that I really just wish someone would explain in more detail than, “We don’t know why, that’s just the way it is.” I guess I have felt that ONLY men are really entitled to speak to this doctrine/policy issue, but it’s not much of an issue to them, because they aren’t the ones excluded. (In other words, unless they HEAR voices that ARE bothered, they won’t ever think it’s an issue worth troubling God about.)

    Other issues have been an annoyance to me, like when YW leaders are expected to have significant, planned activities every week and the YM…well they just can’t be expected to show up unless they just shoot hoops.

    I’ve been ticked off when, as I mentioned, the youth leaders were told to carry out a “youth service project” dictated by the bishopric and the YW were assigned to do EVERYTHING (plan, cook, set up, decorate, serve, clean up) except pass out some invitations. When questioned about the inequity (by another member of the presidency in BYC), the bishop said, “The Young Men just aren’t going to do SERVICE PROJECTS.” And, you guessed it, the YM did NOT pass out the invitations. So the YW made and passed them out so that someone would actually come to the event they had done everything else for. (It was an early Thankgiving dinner for all the single adults and elderly in the ward.)

    I’ve also been in wards where the boys had HUGE activities every year (like SCUBA certification PAID FOR for EVERY BOY), and the girls had absolutely nothing. And when we (the YW leaders) meekly (seriously!) asked if the YW could have some comparable event (because the YW heard all about the activities and felt slighted), the suggestion was almost mocked and, then, every event we could think of to propose (all with almost no resources or work by anyone else) was turned down.

    I don’t understand why scouts have camp-outs every single month–even in the dead of winter–and, yet, I have only been in one ward that would ALLOW a sleepover event (outside of YW camp) for girls. (Now, really, which group has had more problems with sleepover events?)

    I’ve been equally bugged when the RS was assigned all sorts of stuff for the “ward” party and then men put away the tables. Once in a ward council a bishop delegated assignments for a ward party to every single female auxiliary and not a single thing to any men. The YW representative (not me) piped up and said, “So, what is the priesthood going to do?” The bishop was honestly stumped, it hadn’t even occurred to him what he had done.

    So, let me say for just a minute that I think much of the time it’s almost unconscious…dare I say…sexism? It’s not doctrine or even policy, but just administering in a way that creates a division or even an inequity. For example, once my husband was the high counselor assigned to the YW of the stake. At a stake leadership meeting, all the ward and stake leaders divided up into their various areas of responsibility. Sam went to the meeting for youth leaders. The stake presidency member who was teaching came in a scout uniform and spent the entire meeting talking about scouts and YM. With about five minutes to go, Sam (who at that time was the father of FOUR daughters) raised his hand and asked, “What about the Young Women?” The teacher profusely apologized as he had only thought to prepare YM stuff.

    It wasn’t malicious, when he thought of “youth” he thought of “young men.” Frankly, that’s at least a somewhat natural response. When Sam came home he said to me, “Honestly, if I didn’t have four girls AND if you hadn’t made me aware of some issues, I don’t think I would have even noticed.” (One of my bishop’s had three sons, no daughters. He was also (ahem) a male. His emphasis didn’t really lean toward YW either.)

    I get annoyed every week in Sacrament meeting when ONLY men can say the opening prayer–even though that’s contrary to the handbook. (My current ward in Eagle Mountain, Utah, does this, my last ward in Orem, Utah, did this, the previous ward in Boca Raton, Florida, did it until it was addressed by a general authority (at which point it was only done by ONE member of the bishopric…which is another story all together).

    Sometimes I even get bugged by minutia. I wonder why the General YW and RS meeting addresses are listed LAST in the Ensign, even though they occur first and the Priesthood session is listed as it occurred chronologically. I’ve wondered why mass sustainings list all the male auxiliaries first (even Aaronic priesthood) and then the female-run ones. I wonder why newly called mission presidents are given a calling, a title, and a big article in the Church News, while their wives (who ALSO go through the training, learn the language, drop their lives to move around the world, and spend three years in enormous service) only rank mention in passing as the person the IMPORTANT GUY got married to.

    OK, rant over. For now.

    I do not disrespect my leaders. I understand that they are human, have cultural conditioning, have certain points that are more important to them (and, conversely, things that don’t concern them much). I also understand that I might not always, instinctively LOVE every single thing that God decides to do in his kingdom and that he might well have lots of things he wants to delegate specifically to one gender. No one has to get my permission to run the church.

    My thought, however, is that with a church that is run by men, women’s voices DO need to be heard, out loud, not just in secret prayer. With a God who tends to answer the questions that are asked, and with a church that takes it’s policy and doctrine only from the mouths of men, many of these issues will only be addressed if women are allowed to speak about the issues that effect and concern them and these issues ARE sometimes unique to women and/or to women of particular generations.

    President Hinckley once advised members to speak up without being shrill. I think, perhaps, that is something that we can do with regard to organizational administration. So, while I agree that there are great things to be learned through the examples of silent prayer and fasting and pleading with the Lord, I also think we, as women, can look to Emma and her concerns about the behavior of the men in the School of the Prophets, for an example of how we can, appropriately, address our concerns with church leadership. And I think leaders can look to Joseph Smith’s response to Emma as a great example of how the concerns of others might be handled, if appropriate.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 9:57 am

    But Silver, talents are ALWAYS wanted in the Church, they’re NEEDED in the church. And everyone has a purpose in the Church.
    So I can better understand what you mean, can you explain what Sunday would be like if your talents WERE wanted? If you DID have a purpose there? How would things be different? Not your feelings, but concrete things: “I would be teaching a lesson”, “I would be giving a talk”, “I would be playing the piano”, “I would be teaching a homemaking group on how to re-upholster a chair, how to make a power-point presentation” etc.
    What talents are you speaking of? How is it that they’ve “never been wanted”? Have you never had a calling? Even people who don’t have a current calling have a purpose there, and it’s not just to learn. It’s to contribute, to add something to the conversation, to bear testimony, to share your feelings on the scripture being read during class, to add another viewpoint from a different age group, a different sex, a different stage of life, a different background, etc. And I’m not saying this non-chalantly in an ethereal, utopian “every one has purpose” kind of way. I mean it very concretely.
    I understand that you’re not necessarily saying it’s a problem with the church, that it’s just how you feel, but your feelings assume the thoughts and feelings of others. For you to feel like you’ve virtually been ignored and have no purpose there, means that you feel that others have ignored you and think you have nothing to contribute.
    Here’s my take on this… and I realize that I don’t know you personally, and maybe I’m being presumptuous, but I’ve read your comments in other threads, and I read your article about the bad experiences you had in YW. And I noticed a pattern weaving through all of them.
    You make very big, dramatic, generalized, all-inclusive statements… “I feel insignificant in this church.. Never are my talents wanted… Never have I had a purpose…. In the eyes of my YW leaders I was a whore…. The ladies in the church fed on the gossip like it was the last supper…” and those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head from the most recent discussions. They’re your feelings, but you seem to super-impose your feelings onto other people, as though everyone else has those feelings about you too. Do you see what I mean?
    Your feelings say alot more than just how you feel, they reveal what you assume to be the thoughts and feelings of others.To say “I feel insignificant in this church”, makes it sound as though the entire church ignores you and brushes you aside. To say “Never have my talents been wanted, Never have I ever had a purpose” makes it sound as though no matter what ward you’ve ever lived in, no one has ever issued you a calling, ever asked you to share anything in class, ever asked you to teach anything, ever wanted your participation in anything, etc. Your talents have NEVER been wanted. And you’ve NEVER had a purpose. Those are very big, very dramatic, and surely, overstated and exaggerated comments. I understand that you’re just expressing your feelings, but you say them in absolute terms as though they’re fact. And I can’t help but think that you’ve said these kinds of things to yourself over and over and have actually come to believe them.
    So let me say, for the record… you’re NOT insignificant. Your talents ARE wanted. They’re NEEDED. And you most certainly have a purpose. At church, at home, in the community, in the world, and here.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 10:22 am

    Posted By: facethemusicBut Silver, talents are ALWAYS wanted in the Church, they’re NEEDED in the church. And everyone has a purpose in the Church.

    I’m not going to try to speak for Silver, but I disagree with your statement BECAUSE “the Church” is not synonymous with God. I believe that God values each of us and has a purpose (in his kingdom) for each of us. But I also know that it’s very possible to live in a ward or stake where your particular set of talents are not valued by anyone who is in a position to make use of them. That’s because the people in each ward, stake, area are different.

    Come on, I’ve been in places where being strong and dedicated made me “leaderships material” and in places where the same traits made me irritating and even something of a rebel. And there are definitely pockets in the country where the syrupy tone you find irritating is THE way to behave as a Godly LDS woman–and places where those who display it would be outcast…or doomed to nursery. Some bishops love women (and men) who will take charge of their callings and have lots of ideas and some will only consider those who are more passive and submissive. (Although I’d say the number of leaders who expect (prefer?) passive women far outnumbers those who expect passive men.) I’ve had both. Some bishops expect their auxiliary leaders to take care of things unless there is something they need help with and others go so far as to call and release individuals in auxiliaries without every speaking to the president. Again, I’ve had both.

    How you fit in with the leaders expectations and preferences and style can determine to a great extent how “valued” you are in a ward.

    I understand that you’re not necessarily saying it’s a problem with the church, that it’s just how you feel, but your feelings assume the thoughts and feelings of others.

    I’m not sure what you mean. I didn’t see the assumption you speak of and she explicitly said it was her own problem.

    OTOH since I’ve known many people who have felt similarly, so it’s not an unprecedented assumption.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 10:53 am

    Alison, I don’t think I’ve EVER been in a ward where only men could say the opening prayer. And I’ve lived in about 16 wards, in different states and overseas. Is it possible you’ve just had a horrible stroke of bad luck where this is concerned?
    Personally, I think the women of the church are at least partially to blame for always being expected to go all out for everything. do the planning, the organizing, the leg work, making it come out successfully, then the men just put the tables away.
    Women like to go all out for things. Let’s face it, we plan a lesson for RS and the lace tableclothes come out, the pretty centerpieces, the artwork, the family photos from home, the cross-stitch, the pretty figurine, the pretty handouts with stickers, rubber stamping, etc– whatever goes with the lesson and makes the room look nice. And I don’t deny that women have a tendency of wanting to out-do each other, so that feeds it.
    YW is the same way. Even for regular Sunday lessons and midweek activities, there’s always a pretty handout, a magnet for the fridge, a candy bar or basket of goodies with a clever “twist of words” saying that goes with the lesson, etc. We have New Beginnings, a mid-week activity about temples, etc and the ficus trees are out, decked with white lights and floral sprays. White organza is draped over the edges of an arch, and temple wedding photos are all over the tables. We put out trays of pretty little finger-foods, have a chocolate fountain… for heaven’s sake, no WONDER the men expect us to go all out for things that involve THEM too.
    The guys show up for Elder’s Quorum or YM and half the time, no one’s prepared a lesson and someone wings it from the book. But see, THEY DON’T CARE! The guys don’t care that there isn’t a pretty little handout.
    The sisters on the otherhand rave over teacher who’s lessons are well prepared and who decks out the table and has a great object lesson, and a few will even criticize the teacher who doesn’t (behind their backs, of course). They think those lessons are boring and say the teacher doesn’t put any effort into it.
    So when the husbands go into the RS room and see the nice room with paintings on the wall, floral arrangements on the piano, lace tableclothes and doilies, curtains on the windows,and their in their room with nothing more than a chalkboard, a plain table, chairs and plain white cinder block walls… naturally they assume that we LIKE the “frilly, extra stuff”. And the truth is, most of us do, and they assume we won’t mind going all out for the joint YM/YW or ward activity.
    But let’s look at what WE assume about them, that only contributes to this problem of making us look like we LIKE to do all this and we WANT to do all this.
    A sister has a baby or is sick and we provide meals for 3 days to a week???? –Like her husband is a total moron and can’t cook a meal? Like they’ll all starve if we don’t take food over because he’s such an idiot?
    I appreciated the meals sent over, and the love behind them– but they were TOTALLY unecessary. My husband can make a meal. Any husband can. Some can REALLY cook, and some can’t. But so what? He might just make hot dogs and macaroni and cheese– that’s fine!
    He might break out the tomato soup and PB and J sandwiches… who cares?
    But again, there are the women, going all out, taking in dinner, complete with dessert, AND a gift for the baby. Do MEN get gifts for a new baby in the ward? Of course not. This is a girl thing/boy thing issue. And we’re all playing our roles.
    We SHOULD expect more of the men. They certainly CAN do a better job in preparing activities, being more involved in them and not expecting the women to pull it all off. But I think that’s also a matter of women not speaking up, as Alison pointed out.
    On the other hand, I think we’ve brought alot of it onto ourselves.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 11:22 am

    Posted By: facethemusicAlison, I don’t think I’ve EVER been in a ward where only men could say the opening prayer. And I’ve lived in about 16 wards, in different states and overseas. Is it possible you’ve just had a horrible stroke of bad luck where this is concerned?

    It’s an issue in lots of places. So much so that when it’s been corrected in some places I’ve lived it has been met with a “not here, too” from some leaders.

    Personally, I think the women of the church are at leastpartiallyto blame for always being expected to go all out for everything.

    I understand your point. As the woman whose most identifiable teaching technique was to never have anything on display, I lived with the stigma as well. 😉 But the fact that women create handouts and bring flowers is, I think, quite distinct from priesthood leaders ASSIGNING everything to woman (and indicated, specifically, what those assignments were) without involvement from men. In the case of the YW, there was certainly no precedent indicating that they had any more idea how to do the assigned tasks than the YM.

    If one of my kids was supposed to clean her room and, instead, cleaned it, organized it, scrubbed the walls, and changed the sheets, I’d be thrilled. But I wouldn’t ASSIGN her to do it every week. And I certainly wouldn’t assign her to do the same to her BROTHER’s room the next day, either. 🙂

    Another thing I’ve seen repeatedly seen is quorum activities where, yes, the woman were either assigned to cook or the RS was given a sign-up sheet for cooking to pass around. Ack.

    A sister has a baby or is sick and we provide meals for 3 days to a week???? –Like her husband is a total moron and can’t cook a meal? Like they’ll all starve if we don’t take food over because he’s such an idiot?

    Actually, I almost completely agree. But let me tell you the benefit here that I perceive. In a traditional setting, the woman would normally cook. So, yes, the man is not a moron, but it’s not something that is generally in his “task set.” So, if he’s working outside the home, and then coming home and trying to manage all the household stuff that the woman might not yet be up to, he’ll be terribly swamped. He’s doing the cooking, the cleaning, the child care, the laundry…in addition to what he normally does, which is a lot. So relieving the burden while the woman isn’t physically up to her usual share of the load is a blessing for both.

    There are other factors such as difficulty of delivery, whether another family member is available to help, age of other children, etc. When I’ve had a difficult delivery and recovery and my mother was too sick (or, uh, too dead) to help me out, just getting through those first few days with all the (homschooled, home all day long) children breathing was about all I could handle. Having someone bring a couple of nutritious, tasty, hot meals over was awesome. That meant a lot of things to me: kids less cranky, I felt better physically, almost no cleanup after, and it gave Sam more time to help with other household things AND to give the older, attention-starved kids some serious one-on-one.

    Overall, I don’t think this is some crazy idea that an overzealous compassionate service leader concocted. 🙂

  • agardner June 6, 2007, 11:25 am

    I have been an observer on this site for nearly a year, and have never posted anything until now. I have found this particular thread to reach out to me.

    Alison, we share many of the same sentiments. As the mother of three daughters I have paid particular attention to the way we treat our girls. While serving as Primary president, I have to say that I genuinely got a bad taste for scouting because of the discrepancies. I’m trying to be good about it and still support the scouting program, but our scouting program alone (for about 15 boys) took up more of our budget than the whole rest of Primary (materials, activity days, quarterly activities, nursery, etc.) combined. For some reason, although we had a very large Primary (around 150 in Primary and 50 or so in nursery at any given time), we had relatively few boys of scouting age. So basically 15 boys were getting about 60% of the Primary budget. This was a shock to me! When I asked about it, I was just told (by former Primary leaders and my priesthood leaders) that this is just the way it is and has always been…and the assumption that this is just how it should be and I should keep my mouth shut about it.

    Sometimes I get bothered more about his stuff than at other times. I do wish we had more female “voice” in things. Not just because I sometimes feel under-represented, but because I think women add a distinction and value that, try as they might, men don’t seem to as much.

    Just a note on SilverRain’s comments about feeling insignificant. I do understand what she is saying. However, I also feel that sometimes we have to be the ones to put ourselves out there and get involved. I fault myself for this as much as I do anyone else.

    We moved about a year ago, from an active Utah County ward to the Southeast. My husband was immediately put into the bishopric (this has been a common occurance in the almost 10 years we’ve been married, lol) and I was immediately called to play the piano in Primary. I think I attended one RS meeting before I was put in Primary. So, I guess you could say that my talent (or at least one of my talents) is being utilized. But having been in Primary for most of my marriage and playing the piano being something I could do in my sleep, I have felt like I could be stretched a little more. This is a ward where it’s not uncommon for people to have three or four callings and here I am with skills to share and I sit at the piano. I guess that could (and sometimes does) make me feel unappreciated.

    However, I have decided I need to take a different outlook. There aren’t that many people who can play the piano here – They need me even though I really don’t feel like I’m contributing anything that significant. I was whining to my husband the other night that I really only know two people in my ward – the Primary chorister and Primary president – and he simply said, “What are you going to do about it?”. That made me think. Is it everyone else’s responsibility to be my friend, or is it my responsibility to reach out to them? Honestly, probably both. But it’s unfair of me to feel picked on or left out because most likely everyone is in the same boat!

    My mom can be really blunt, but I remember one time when I was feeling rather insignificant and sorry for myself, that she told me to get off my high horse and do something about it. Make a friend. Offer your talents. Share your testimony. Not that I always follow that advice but I am trying.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 11:33 am

    I used the term “the church” because that’s the phrase that Silver used. She said she felt insignificant in “this church”.
    But certainly, “the church” isn’t God– we’re agreed there.
    And sure, different people are going to appreciate different talents and gifts. Different leaderships are going to use you in different ways. But Silver mentioned through other posts that she’s moved around to different wards, and I doubt that in all those wards she’s NEVER used her talents and has NEVER had a calling, which would demonstrate that’s she had a purpose.
    I happen to think I’m a pretty darn good teacher. In fact, many people tell me that, and come up to me afterwards telling me that I’m their favorite teacher and that they wish I taught every week. That’s not to brag, but to make a point, because I’ve been in wards where I was never called as teacher. But that doesn’t mean that my talent wasn’t “valued” or that I had no purpose. She made a sweeping statement, as though no one in the church ever appreciated anything about her.
    Refering to your not understanding what I meant by “Your feelings assume the thoughts and feelings of others”… I thought I explained that, but maybe I wasn’t clear.
    She said she feels like her talents have never been wanted, (by who? other people, the church, the local leadership, whoever). Clearly she’s assuming the thoughts and feelings of other people.
    In order for her to feel that way, she would have to be assuming that no one wanted her talents, that they thought her talents were useless, unimportant, insignificant, not good enough, etc. But that’s not necessarily the case. If I’m a good teacher, and the ward didn’t call me to be a teacher, that doesn’t mean that no one “wanted” my talent. Maybe it means that those positions were already filled, maybe someone else needed that calling for a reason, maybe I was needed somewhere else, maybe there are 15 teaching positions and 20 people who are great teachers, and for some reason that I don’t know or understand, I wasn’t one of the ones called to fill one of those 15 positions. But that doesn’t mean my talent isn’t “wanted”. Besides which, people get called and released from things over and over, and the chances of me getting called to teach at some point are extremely high.
    To say “never have I had a purpose in the church” doesn’t just express what she feels about herself, but it expresses what she thinks OTHER people in the church thing about her. In order for her to feel that way, she would have to be assuming that other people, the local leadership, the other members, the church as a whole, whoever, don’t think she has a purpose there either, that she doesn’t have anything to contribute, that her thoughts and feelings and comments during classes don’t matter, that her serving in a calling doesn’t matter, that whether or not she ever shows up doesn’t matter to them. Do you see? How else would someone come to feel that they have no purpose at church, unless they feel that no one else at church has any use for them?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 11:34 am

    Holy cow, agardner, where have you been and WHY have you been lurking!

    I like to take action on things AND I like to whine about things. But I don’t generally like to take action on the same things I like to whine about. In truth it’s usually because I only whine when I can’t think of anything productive to DO, but still…your perspective was one I needed to hear today. Thanks.

    I do hope you stay out of the shadows!

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 11:38 am

    But the fact that women create handouts and bring flowers is, I think, quite distinct from priesthood leaders ASSIGNING everything to women

    I totally agree. But my point was that we’ve demonstrated, by our actions, that we’re willing to do it. That’s WHY they assign it to us. They think we LIKE it, and we’re WILLING, so they put it on our shoulders.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 11:41 am

    OK, who are these men who think we like doing all the cooking and serving and cleanup at ward functions. Are any of them married to normal women??? 😀

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 11:45 am

    But let me tell you the benefit here that I perceive. In a traditional setting, the woman would normally cook. So, yes, the man is not a moron, but it’s not something that is generally in his “task set.” So, if he’s working outside the home, and then coming home and trying to manage all the household stuff that the woman might not yet be up to, he’ll be terribly swamped. He’s doing the cooking, the cleaning, the child care, the laundry…in addition to what he normally does, which is a lot. So relieving the burden while the woman isn’t physically up to her usual share of the load is a blessing for both.

    Again, I totally agree. But my point was that the RS does this automatically, it’s not like anyone called and said “Sis. Keeney, is your husband working? Do you need meals?” They just arrived, and my husband had the whole week off of work, an many men take a few days off when there’s a new baby.
    And beyond all that, whether it’s necessary or not, whether the husband can cook or not, it’s just a NICE thing to do. But I think it does assume that Dad won’t cook, can’t cook, or will be too busy too cook. Certainly, millions of women work all day and have to come home and cook.
    We have single mom’s at church who have to work all day and them go home to cook dinner, and there isn’t anyone else to help. But no one is taking THEM dinner! 🙂

  • agardner June 6, 2007, 11:49 am

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithHoly cow, agardner, where have you been and WHY have you been lurking!

    I like to take action on things AND I like to whine about things. But I don’t generally like to take action on the same things I like to whine about. In truth it’s usually because I only whine when I can’t think of anything productive to DO, but still…your perspective was one I needed to hear today. Thanks.

    I do hope you stay out of the shadows!

    I think I’ve been lurking because there have been lots of days in the past year where I haven’t really wanted to be “Mormon Mamma”…lol. Just meaning that I’ve had my struggles this last year about finding my place and what I think about things. But I’m starting to come around….it’s just been a tough year. But yes, I do have feelings and opinions and will hopefully be sharing them more often. Thanks for the welcome.

  • Lewis_Family June 6, 2007, 12:06 pm

    Unfortunately this discussion made me quite sad, to hear such things and thoughts about the church and those we sustain and respect and love, I don’t know, maybe I am young and naive, but yeah…. this discussion made me sad that I even read it.

  • east-of-eden June 6, 2007, 12:29 pm

    I wanted to comment on what Silver Rain said about feeling insignifgant at and in Church and in the whole fabric of Mormon culture.

    I thnink many times we might feel that we don’t belong because we don’t fit the mold of what we think others think we should be. Or we feel let down by not meeting our own expectations we set for ourselves. Does that make sense? I was single till I was 30 and now that I’m married and have struggled with infertility and being childless I’ve gone thru many periods of feeling like there was no place for me at chruch and in life, and that I was and am the family freak. And this can be devistaing to your self-esteem and how you view the world. I have felt as insignifigant as a bug in the church at times and in my own family, so don’t feel like you’re the only one who is this way.

    As I’ve gone thru life, I’ve had re-learn the lesson that I am a valuable person many times. The trick has always been for me, finding the place that I fit in and that I feel I will do the most good. I seem to have to learn this lesson over and over everytime I am in a new phase of life…why can’t I just get it and get it good? SIlly me!

    I had a watershed experience this year, when I was dragged along to BYU Women’s Conference in May by my very smart and very wise younger sister. The theme of the confrence was taken from the Old Testament story of Esther, “For Thou Art Come to the Kingdom, For Such a Time as This” (see Esther 4: 14). I remember steping into the Conference with a very low opinion of myself and really thinking that there is no place for me in my ward and I’m not really good at helping the people around me becuase I’m so different.

    To make a long story and a two day treck all over BYU short, I came away feeling very important and very signifigant in the eyes of the Lord. I have a mission to do, and I will figure it out, if I want to. I had not had a calling in my ward for over 2 years and felt like I was languishing on the back row. I also felt that I could not be a good visiting teacher to my sisters with young families because I have no children of my own. But Elder Holland said, in his remarks that the Lord urgently listens to our pleas, if we plead with him.

    When I got home, I mustered the courage to ask where is my place and telling the Lord, I’m going to be happy with whatever it is. I’m not quite sure yet, but I feel that there is hope for me. I also know that I have to do things on my own terms and in my own way and that might not be the Molly Mormon way, but it’s what I can do. I don’t give VT lessons, I just call my sisters up and see what they need. I don’t go to the play groups or girls nights becuase the converstaion turns to children and this is too hard for me, but I do make calls to my friends and try to help them as best I can in other ways. I have also found that I am very happy to have as many non-Mormon friends as I can too. I realize that might be hard in Utah, but there are people out there.

    So, my point is, please don’t languish as I did. Realize that you are important, even if you have to figure out how and in what ways on your own. We’re not meant to be all the same, and we all have purpose and reason for being in the places we are, at the times we’re there. It might not be what people expect, but you have to do what’s best for you.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 12:46 pm

    Lewis, I’m sorry you are sad. I, for one, meant no disrespect of any leaders. I guess that, for me, is part of the problem. If I express my concern for particular administrative or policy issues, people get sad, annoyed, or even angry. How, then, can they ever be addressed? Or is the point that they can’t ever be addressed by those not in authority (i.e. all women)?

    When I was little, women couldn’t speak or pray at all in Sacrament Meeting. At all. (And I’m only 43.) I have to assume that SOMEONE (a woman?) at some point asked, “Is there a reason why we can’t ever speak in Sacrament Meeting?” Then someone considered it and the policy or practice (unsure which it was) changed.

    I guess my question is, was it wrong to ask? Was it disrespectful or out of line? When asking is equated with heresy (or disrespect or…), where does that leave anyone who isn’t a leader of particular position (i.e. all women)?

    east-of-eden, I don’t want to go into details here (even I have some personal boundaries, believe it or not), but I greatly needed a particular part of your post today. Sincerely, thank you.

    I hope this isn’t too personal, but I want to tell you that, as someone who was adopted as a child, biological motherhood isn’t what makes a mother. Sheri Dew’s Are We Not All Mothers? struck so deeply with me because it brings up so clearly the amazing place that women who do not have “their own” children CAN have in the church and the world. I know that Sister Dew would give up all the callings and positions she has in order to be a wife and mother. She’s made that pretty clear in her speaking and writing. But I can’t help but think how her life circumstance has enabled her to bless so many millions of people.

    She didn’t have much going in the way of example or church precedence that this was even a possibility, at least not officially IN the church. Still, she moved forward with her unique mission, just as you have decided to do. What a positive example that is to me, from both of you.

    I’ve written way to much today. Sorry for monopolizing. Love to all.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 12:55 pm

    When I was little, women couldn’t speak or pray at all in Sacrament Meeting. At all. (And I’m only 43.) I have to assume that SOMEONE (a woman?) at some point asked, “Is there a reason why we can’t ever speak in Sacrament Meeting?” Then someone considered it and the policy or practice (unsure which it was) changed.

    Alison I’m turning 39 in a month and a half- we’re not that far apart. I’ve never known women to be “unallowed” to speak in Sacrament meeting. I REMEMBER my mother speaking. Does our age difference of only a few short years really mark such a huge change? Were you perhaps in an odd ward?

  • east-of-eden June 6, 2007, 2:54 pm

    Allison, I’m glad somthing that I said was good today. 🙂 You see when I eat too many IKEA cinnamon rolls my brain starts to short circut. (Being here in Utah this week with a new IKEA was too much of a draw–please turn off the big blue sign!!)

    Anyway….Thank you for YOUR comments! No they were not too personal…I welcome all comments.

    I have come to realize thru the trials of life and great examples, like that of Sherrie Dew, Wendy Watson-Nelson (Sherrie Dew’s best friend who did not get married to Elder Nelson till she was in her 50s) and others that biological motherhood is not the only motherhood. I’ve been very blessed to marry into a family who understands my unique fertility trials–as many of my SILs have had similar experiences. I’ve also had many people put in my path who have been able offer me great perspective and help. Two of my best friends have adopted children and another friend was a birth mother as a teenager. They have given me great perspective and have shared some very special experiences with me as well.

    When I began teaching I also knew that this was part of my motherhood. I’ve had so many exceptional kids pass thru my door whose own mothers could not or would not help them. One student in particular stands out, the day before graduation he came to me to thank me for pushing him and helping him. He told me that his own mother was so sick with cancer she could not do much and that I was the one who was dragging him across the finish line. Because he graduated he was able to serve his mission and now has been married in the temple and has his own family–I was part of that and I am so thankful for it! And when any of my primary kids has been baptized I’ve counted that as part of my blessings as well.

    So, I am sad some days about my own situation, but I know because of the Plan of Salvation and all that it entails, I will have the blessings and righteous desires of my heart–eventually.

    So, how does this relate to the thread….(here comes my momet of temporary lucidity)…I’ve had to do alot of self reflection and prayer to find my place in the Gospel and the world. It is hard, because I think it’s very much part of human nature to want to take the easy road….why not? It’s the easy road! But the Lord in his widsom usually puts us on the road less traveled by, and that makes all the difference (thank you Robert Frost!). Our happiness and salvation are not usually served up on a silver platter, but if we do our part–what ever it may be, we can find our place. And I KNOW there is a place for all of us. We are all important in the kingdom and in the eyes of the Father. And when those old men get up to talk to us in Conference I get it–they love us, even if they have a male perspective and think like men sometimes!

    Well looks like I’ve monopolized the converstation….thanks. Again, love this blog, all of you ladies are top notch!!

  • SilverRain June 6, 2007, 3:46 pm

    I am not emotionally capable of answering any of that right now. I’m banning myself from blogs for a few days. Don’t worry, I’m not dead.

  • ChanJo June 6, 2007, 7:02 pm

    to hear such things and thoughts about the church and those we sustain and respect and love

    What did you hear about those we sustain that bothered you? nobody was put down, these are just things that happened. Did I miss something? I think if there’s something wrong with what happened then it should be the person who DID it who should make you sad, not just people talking about it.

  • Lewis_Family June 6, 2007, 7:57 pm

    It’s people’s opinions about the way our church is run, this whole discussion makes me sick to my stomach. It is way too women’s liberal, the whole equality thing. I for one love and appreciate the priesthood and it’s holders and love to hear from them at conference or any time. Never have I dealt with a ward that said only men could do this or that outside of the normal priesthood holder role, so maybe I haven’t had a chance to form such opinions, but yeah the fact that the opinions I have read in the discussion exist is what made me sad.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 8:28 pm

    Lewis_Family, again, I’m sorry to have caused distress. I am trying to understand your position because I did not intend to be disrespectful, but it seems you think I was. Again, that’s part of the problem I have. Is there any way to express ANY concerns without some thinking it disrespectful? (That’s not a rhetorical question. That is what the post that brought this up to me discussed.)

    Funny thing is I have always hated the idea of feminism the way it is generally thought of. I love men and have always (ask my dh) been a defender against the cultural swing against them. Trying to understand, I’d like to ask you some specific questions. My point has never been to bash men, the church, or anything.

    Posted By: Lewis_FamilyIt is way too women’s liberal, the whole equality thing.

    Can you give me a specific equality issue that I (or someone else) mentioned that you DISAGREE with? For example, I didn’t demand to get the priesthood, but I would like to have more information about why the gender division surrounding it exists. Is that something that bothers you? I would like YM and YW participate at the same ballpark level for “youth” service projects. Did that offend? I’d like YW and YM (***see below) to have similar budgets/opportunities/focus in their respective auxiliaries. Is that what you disagree with?

    I for one love and appreciate the priesthood and it’s holders and love to hear from them at conference or any time.

    I appreciate the priesthood leaders, too. My husband is one and so is my dad, and my brother and… I love to hear from them as well! General Conference is my favorite church event. I watch every single session (except the priesthood session, which I read). I purchased the double Ensign subscription so I have my own copy to mark up. I have gotten tickets to the First Presidency Devotional every Christmas since 2001 (when we moved to Utah). But why is any of that DIMINISHED by the fact that I also love to hear from Godly women and/or the fact that I notice we don’t have much opportunity to do so?

    I happen to love some of our female leaders as well, and genuinely cried at my computer when I listened to Sheri Dew speak of Women of God. No, she’s not the prophet and I don’t revere her as such. But she spoke to my soul like no man in the world ever has.

    I guess the thing that strikes me is that our church makes a BIG distinction between genders–more than US culture generally does at large. And IF they are so different–just as the church declares–then isn’t it even MORE important to hear from BOTH genders (that are very different) in order to get a correct picture of the world? Isn’t it MORE important for LDS WOMEN to hear from women than even the in the greater culture (the culture that tries to minimize the distinction)?

    ***As I typed that, I recalled a ongoing situation in my Boca ward. A member of the bishopric demanded that when you SAID male/female groups, you had to say the man’s first. The proper terminology was “Young Men and Young Women” or “High Priest Quorum and Relief Society.” NOT the other way around. He would get upset and sometimes even correct those in ward council or other meetings if they said it “wrong.” (FWIW, he was about my age…in his mid-30s.)

    That is the absolute truth and, yes, it bothered me. Is stating what happened wrong? Or is wishing that he had not made an issue of something that was not an issue wrong? I’m sincerely trying to figure out where the offense is, so that I can determine if it’s correctable.

  • Lewis_Family June 6, 2007, 8:40 pm

    I agree on the whole YM/YW thing. Yeah, the whole priesthood thing, now that I reread the comments is what is irking me. I am not the most knowledgeable and never will claim to be, and it is true that alot of the church runs on faith, and with the priesthood that is just the way it works. I know that though I might not hold the priesthood and may not be able to do things that having it entails, but women are just as important to the family unit and so that is why it made me sad that is sounded as if some of the opinions on here did not understand and therefor sounded ( i say sounded because that is how I perceived but it may not have been so ) disrespectul in that manner. It is a touchy subject and I am sorry that the background on that has never been shared here, so that could be were the roads aren’t crossing. I am incredible graetful for the priesthood and the sad thing is my family is lacking it, my dad struggles with issues and therefor is not a current preisthood holder, so my younger siblings who are still home are not benefiting from that. So, even if I don’t understand all about the facts around the preisthood, I know what it feels like to have it in our home, when I was young and now with my husband and his family and so it rubs me the wrong way when what I have found to be amazing lds women, whose opinions I have grown to value, were expressing such discontent about such a sacred and special thing to me. That is where the feelings occured.

    (In regards to calling and duties and activites, I agreed with that, that there should be more equality on that stance and should have shared that opinion as well as the sadness opinion, so I apologize for leaving that out )

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 9:12 pm

    Lewis, thank you for clarifying your thoughts. I understand why this would be a sensitive subject to you.

    Again, I do not mean to offend any sisters AND I do not intend to bash our brothers. These are just issues that have troubled me. (Women overall probably bug me more, if you want to talk about inequality!)

    Tracy, I was trying to find a source for the Sacrament Meeting talks and have not yet been successful. Perhaps I’m misremembering what my mother said, but the conversation I remember occurred in the red church on 4th West in Orem, which means I would have been under ten, I think. A couple spoke and my mom explained (when I asked) that women could now speak in church. I’ll keep looking.

    In the search, however, I did find sources to document that women were not allowed to pray in Sacrament Meeting until around 1978. Interestingly, it was Sonia Johnson who made the public issue of it. (Do you remember her?) And, actually, if I’m not mistaken, initially women WERE only allowed to close the meeting, but I’m not positive about that.

    Posted By: facethemusicDoes our age difference of only a few short years really mark such a huge change?

    Are you kidding? Yes! We’re talking a few years in the 1960’s and 1970’s! And, I’ll note, that *I* missed a bunch of changes that those a few years older were cognizant for. 🙂

    That would, I’m thinking, mean you also missed all the endowment changes in the mid-1980’s, some of which are also related to gender issues.

  • facethemusic June 6, 2007, 9:42 pm

    I DO remember the changes regarding the endowment. (I was in high school then) My mother couldn’t get her endowments because my father wouldn’t give his permission for her to go. She couldn’t go until around 1987-88 or so. Actually, I think she COULD have gone a little sooner, but it was in 88 when my father left and they divorced, so then his permission was no longer an issue anyway.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 6, 2007, 10:13 pm

    By “missed” I meant that you missed seeing both versions. 🙂 And I don’t think women have to get permission from their husbands anymore anyway.

    I also remember (by personal experience) when the priesthood leaders would get permission from husbands before extending a calling to the wife. It didn’t go the other way. Now, in my experience, in “smaller” callings everyone speaks for themselves and in “larger” callings, the spouse is asked whether man or woman, due to the need for great support.

    You know, Tracy, your question about whether things could have changed much in a short time span kind of whirled my brain around to something Sam said a week or so ago. Institutions (the church included) tend to change gradually. Of course that’s true.

    I tend to be impatient in addition to getting anxious not knowing what the changes will be (will I like them? will they be the ones I want?). It could help if I noted all the positive changes that have occurred during my lifetime more often, like those I just mentioned, blacks getting the priesthood, women speaking in General Conference at all, general meetings held annually just for women, men serving in Primary with female leadership, 2-piece garments. 🙂

  • facethemusic June 7, 2007, 12:33 am

    By “missed” I meant that you missed seeing both versions. 🙂

    Oh, I gotcha.

    And I don’t think women have to get permission from their husbands anymore anyway

    You’re right, they don’t. That’s what I meant by “remembering the changes regarding the endowment'”. Though I don’t remember what year it was, I remember my mother being excited that she no longer had to get my father’s permission. But if I remember correctly, she still waited a year or so– I think she was afraid of the possbile fallout with my father. But he ended up leaving shortly after anyway, and that’s when she finally went.

    In regards to changes happening slowly, you’re right. And I think it’s just a matter of what you said earlier and how you titled the blog in the first place. We have to trust that they know what they’re doing and that they’re being led, even if we don’t always understand the reasons for things, the timing of things, or we can’t make sense of it.

  • agardner June 7, 2007, 6:32 am

    This thread was the last thing I read last night before going to bed…so naturally I kept waking up with thoughts about it all night! Does anyone else have their most brilliant thoughts in the middle of the night and then are too lazy to write them down and when you wake up in the morning you are stupid again?

    What kept coming to me is that we need to remember that there are differences in doctrine/principles and traditions/practices. Doctrine (i.e. the priesthood) does not change, but practices sometimes do (and should, IMO). I guess I have never felt guilty about questioning the practices at times. Lots of practices have changed in my lifetime (I’m not that much younger than you, Alison) and to me that’s a positive thing. I’m sure that many more will change as well, and that will most likely work for our good.

    I guess all I am saying is that I think there is a difference between desiring a better way to practice our doctrines and criticizing the doctrines themselves.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 7, 2007, 8:41 am

    Tracy, I’m not sure from your post if you understood what I was referring to. By “changes” I wasn’t talking about the permission. I was talking about the ceremony itself. The ceremony was rewritten somewhere around 1986. So when I first got married, it was one ceremony and shortly thereafter it was different. The changes reflected, to a great extent, cultural changes and relevance (at least from my point of view). It’s been changed many times over the years, just as the initiatory was more recently.

    Posted By: facethemusicWe have to trust that they know what they’re doing and that they’re being led

    You know, this was the whole idea behind the article. The word trust is interesting. Do I trust that our leaders are being led and know what they are doing? In the most respectful way I can put into writing, yes, I do. But does that mean that I think they are completely aware of what most, for example, women of child-bearing age are struggling with? In this case I think they are MOSTLY only aware of our needs if the women of child-bearing age speak up and tell them. Yes, they can receive revelation but, as I said, I think MOST revelation is the result of questions, and if we are silent, they won’t often be asking questions about women of child-bearing age because they will be praying about things that HAVE come to their attention. And I know they have a lot of competition for their attention. 🙂

    So I get bogged down in this idea that is often presented (at least indirectly) that “trust” requires us to shut up and do what we’re told, because speaking up displays disrespect and/or lack of faith or something.

    There is a revelation to one woman in the D&C. One. And it was given because the woman ASKED the prophet. She didn’t just pray and have faith that he “knew what he as doing.” The revelation on the Word of Wisdom came BECAUSE a woman asked about something that, apparently, the prophet and the other leaders simply hadn’t thought about. Years ago President Hinckley addressed the question about whether or not females could go to the celestial kingdom. He did it because a young girl wrote him a letter with her concern. She didn’t just pray and have “faith” that if God wanted her to know, someone “important” would be inspired to tell her.

    Joseph Smith:
    It is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action.

    I remember once having a discussion with an evangelical Christian about children, birth control, etc. She would not look into any fertility remedies because, “If God wants us to have a baby, we will have one.”

    I reminded her, “You might want to have sex, too.”

    Faith may not be synonymous with action, but I think being faithFUL often requires action on our part. The Preparing for Exaltation manual says, “Faith is more than just a belief that something is real and true; it is a feeling that motivates us to do something based on our belief.” (As an aside, I think this is the main piece of truth from The Secret.)

    Posted By: agardnerDoes anyone else have their most brilliant thoughts in the middle of the night and then are too lazy to write them down and when you wake up in the morning you are stupid again?

    I do ?minus the brilliant thoughts in the middle of the night ?

    What kept coming to me is that we need to remember that there are differences in doctrine/principles and traditions/practices.

    One of the (three) books I’m writing (ugh!) actually has a whole chapter about that. I find three important distinctions: doctrine, policy, practice. Policy being the formal rules (the handbook, etc.) and practice being the more cultural, traditional things that we do. Often policy and even practice are elevated in some people’s mind to doctrine and it causes a lot of problems. The opposite occurs, too, but no as often in my experience.

    I guess I have never felt guilty about questioning the practices at times.

    Thank you. I think that’s a great way to say it. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with questioning doctrine to the extent that the question is asking for clarification or more information about it–as opposed to defying it.

    I also think it’s really important to note that lots of things that people were SURE were doctrinal, apparently weren’t. The blacks and the priesthood being the most obvious and glaring example. Multiple general authorities (notably Bruce R. McKonkie and Mark E. Petersen) were clear on stating that blacks didn’t have the priesthood due to premortal sin and that, therefore, they would never get it AND could only hope to go to the celestial kingdom as “servants.”

    I have always found it interesting that blacks DID have the priesthood with Joseph Smith, then they didn’t with Brigham Young. I have never been able to find a revelatory source for the ban and, yet, a revelation was required to change it. I don’t think it’s heresy to ask if there was a revelation or if it was just assumed.

    In the same way, I have never seen any official source citing a revelation stating that women could not have the priesthood. Initially in the church they blessed and administered (by the laying on of hands). Joseph Smith vocally supported it and defended it (note that the practice REQUIRED a defense!). Then the practice was slowly faded out and discouraged until it was no longer allowed accept in the temple. Again, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to ask if there was a revelation on this directly, or if the cultural influence at the time was the major reasoning, or something else all together.

    I’ve already mentioned that, minus an official statement on the subject, the doctrine/policy/whatever always made me feel that I could not be CERTAIN that any particular scripture applied to women, BECAUSE some (the priesthood ones, in particular, as well as a few others) had been declared NOT to apply to women from a non-scriptural source.

    To rephrase (I feel I’m not being clear), I couldn’t just read the scripture and ASSUME they applied to women. I had to know the other non-scriptural authoritative statements telling me which applied and which didn’t. Sometimes “man” means all people and other times is means only men. This same thing, actually, is what prompted the teenage girl referenced above to write the letter to President Hinckley. The scriptures don’t SAY that women can go to the celestial kingdom. So can they? Or is this another thing that only applies to men?

    Anyone want to take a stab at listing all the scriptures that only apply to men? Either doctrinally or in practice?

    I guess all I am saying is that I think there is a difference between desiring a better way to practice our doctrines and criticizing the doctrines themselves.

    So well said. Thank you! That’s what I mean!!

  • facethemusic June 7, 2007, 9:14 am

    Oh!!! Sorry– I guess I’m a little slow on the up-take. Yes, THOSE changes happened shortly before I got my own endowment in ’90. In fact, they must have happened between 87 and 90 because when my mother went through for her own, and I don’t think that was until 1988, but I’m not positive on that date, it was the old one. But when I went through in ’90, it had been changed.
    When you said “changes” and mentioned gender, I thought you were talking about women not having to get permission from the husbands. I didn’t realize there was anything else gender related.

    So I get bogged down in this idea that is often presented (at least indirectly) that “trust” requires us to shut up and do what we’re told, because speaking up displays disrespect and/or lack of faith or something.

    I have to say here, that I’m very glad that I’ve never felt like I had to “shut up and do what
    we’re told”. A couple others mentioned feeling this way, and if I remember correctly, someone said they were actually told that in similar terms. I’ve always felt, and have been told, that we’re not SUPPOSED to just blindly follow. That if we have questions, we should ask.

    There’s a difference between “blindly following” and “following in faith”.
    If I don’t understand something, don’t understand the reasoning behind it, or it doesn’t make logical sense to me, I’m left to question. Thankfully, when I have questioned, I asked a person who I felt would have more insight and knowledge than myslef (A Bishop, a former Stake President and current Patriarch, etc) and they’ve always welcomed the questions and were more than happy to explain things. And even if at the end of the conversation, I still didn’t “get it”, they told me to just pray for understanding. But they never made me feel, or said anything to insinuate that I should just ”shut up and do what your told”.
    When I continued to ponder and pray about it, I eventually came to an understanding.
    And in regards to two particular points of doctrine, I STILL don’t really “get” but, I’m able to “follow in faith”– or “accept it in faith” because I KNOW that eventually I will understand more fully, even if it takes until the hereafter. I know the gospel is true, I know the prophet is a prophet of God, that Joseph was as well, so I’m able to believe, even if only by faith, that those particular points of doctrine are true, even I don’t completely understand them.
    I think the bottom line is, Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to blindly follow.
    He wants us to have all understanding, in fact, He promises us that if we’re faithful, we eventually WILL. But the process of getting to that point is something that takes our entire lifetime and more. That’s why we continue to go church every Sunday, and essentially get the same lessons we’ve had since Primary, only in more depth.
    Because as we listen, as we learn, as we continue to ask questions and seek answers, we slowly gain more and more knowledge and more understanding– becoming more like Him– even though they’re infinitesimal steps.

  • facethemusic June 7, 2007, 10:11 am

    Don’t mean to thread hog– but I was just reading the transcript from the journalists’ interview with Richard Bushman about Romney, Mormonism and the presidential race.
    Bushman quoted something that the church posted on it newsroom webpage, and I thought it went perfectly with our conversation in this thread:

    “Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of church doctrine.”

    And BTW, the transcript is VERY informative, mentions much that I didn’t know about church history, and is a fantastic read. Guess I should start a different thread for that.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 7, 2007, 10:16 am

    I would tend to agree, but our thoughts on this are not universal. The post I referred to made these three points on appropriate (or general-authority-like) dissent over an doctrine/practice with which you disagree:

    • pray
    • do not argue publicly
    • do not let it affect your church activity

    This is the post that started the ball rolling and that, combined with other comments I’ve heard over my life, brought up the questions. I agree with all these points, but sometimes the second, the idea of refraining from public ARGUMENT, leads to dismissal of any questions, of characterizing questioners as unfaithful or heretical, and/or the idea that asking questions is disrespectful and shows lack of trust in our leaders. I think we have to distinguish between, perhaps, public “argument” and public “discussion” or public “questions.”

    The post went on to say:

    …may I suggest that one approach to doctrines/policies that we don ?t like would be to pray for them to change and not air our grievances in public?

    I agree this is “one approach.” One that is often appropriate. Julie did not imply this was “the only way” although I have heard many advocate that it is. I think this does amount to “shut up and do what you’re told” in more civil language or at least “shut up and pray a lot.” It means “don’t rock the boat” and “don’t be a troublemaker” or at least can be interpreted as such.

    As I said, I’m not really sure that my prayers are going to get any of the general authorities to ponder the problem of trying to wear a pantie liner when the crotch of your garments hangs to your knees. I think a (perhaps delicately worded) letter is a more elegant way to approach it–and I don’t think God would object.

    Assuming that we can “faithfully question,” what would be some guidelines on how to do it?

  • facethemusic June 7, 2007, 10:42 am

    I agree– I think letters are perfectly appropriate. I think it was letters in the 80’s from wives who were being physically abused by husbands who weren’t worthy to be holding the priesthood, that prompted the many and recurring conference talks about unrighteous dominion and spousal/child abuse. I’m sure it was letters from wives that first prompted all the talks about men and pornography. Letters from women pleading to go to the temple without permission from spouses probably prompted THAT change, and letters from struggling divorced mothers who weren’t getting financial support from their ex’s that prompted the additional question in the temple recommend interview. Letters like these are often brought up during conference talks.

    I think the issue of “arguing publicly” refers to those who “make a scene” and throw a public tantrum, not simply having a public discussion like this. There are disenfranchised members who have websites dedicated to the issue of arguing for the acceptance of homosexuality within the church, women holding the priesthood, etc.
    Remember when one of the Benson grandsons was always on the news, issuing statements to the newspapers, etc, speaking out against the church’s policies?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 7, 2007, 8:58 pm

    Yea, I do, but I do not at all think the labels are limited to those who make a scene or a spectacle or act as those I mentioned in the second to last paragraph.

  • mlinford June 8, 2007, 2:07 am

    OK, I haven’t read all the comments and need to get to bed, but I have a couple of thoughts.

    First of all, I think it is absolutely essential that we separate out what is culture, what is doctrine, and what is local vs. general. With what comments I have read, it seems to me that so many of the issues are local, not general, and can and should be dealt with locally. I agree with whoever said that we as women sometimes contribute to the problem because we don’t say anything. There is a reason we have councils, and there is a reason we have brains and voices and computers, too. I have on more than one occasion talked to a bishop or other leader and said, ‘Hey, this comes across wrong” or “hey, this isn’t working.” I can only think of one situation where the leader simply did not agree with my input and went along with his thing, but it wasn’t a “sexist” issue anyway. I believe we CAN speak up. If the leader doesn’t care or doesn’t listen, that’s beyond our control. Sometimes the leader will accept feedback but decide differently. That’s where we be quiet and support anyway, because sometimes we can’t see what they see (and/or sometimes they simply need our support in spite of the fact that they are wrong).

    I believe we can give feedback. There are ways to do this even to the general leaders. (Through the bishop, who sends it up the line. I have seen this done.) If we have feedback on curriculum, there are links to do that. The web site? Links there, too. I have seen far too many people sit around and complain (not saying that is happening here) and not actually DO anything about their feelings.

    All of that said, though, I will say that I have seen enough of how things work to believe that our leaders aren’t simply trapped in their cultural upbringings. I don’t believe that they live in a bubble, and I believe that fact is consistently more true as they travel more and as councils are used more effectively. There are committees and groups that explore issues relevant to us today. Our leaders travel the world. They receive unsolicited feedback all of the time (so much so that I have heard two of our apostles explicitly tell listeners (young adults in both cases) to NOT send them mail complaining about what they said or asking for validation of their situation that simply must be an exception. While I realize that our leaders are human, and males do sometimes see things differently than females, I truly believe that that they are not as unaware of the issues we face as I think sometimes people think they are.

    When Elder Holland said the following, even with how trusting I am by nature of our leaders, I felt a reaching to a higher level of faith in what our leaders say.

    As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings.

    Now, again, I think it’s entirely reasonable to acknowledge that there is sometimes a difference between the cultural and the doctrinal. But I also think that the process we engage in as a church as a whole in trying to continually improve things for all members, male and female, US and international, “ideal family” and “broken family” member (or single, or whatever). Let’s not forget the complexities that come from trying to manage all of the different types of people and situations and cultures and countries and all the other variables that come into leading a worldwide and diverse church. For all that they manage, I think all in all they do a good job. 🙂

  • mlinford June 8, 2007, 2:14 am

    As to the question of “how to question” — I think this talk by Elder Oaks is a MUST READ.

    He gets at why public criticism can be problematic. I tend to agree in general. It’s tough because sometimes it helps to be able to discuss and share and get different people’s perspectives. But I think we also have to remember that it could also be misunderstood or misused as justification to not support a leader. It’s the sort of eating meat offered to idols that may be perceived by someone as justification for sin. (think paul in Romans 14 and 1 Cor somewhere). It’s not an easy issue to address, especially in the world we live in with the internet and such. But also note what he says about the potential effect on the individual.

    Anyway, I’d be interested in others’ thoughts on this talk. His perspective has been one that has influenced me greatly (he talked about this sometime later than this talk, too, but I’m too tired/lazy to find it…at least I am remembering something more recent…could be wrong). As such, I have made it a policy to not publicly discuss the questions and concerns that I sometimes have (they are fairly rare anyway), mostly because usually they are at a local level anyway and secondly because of how *I* feel when I do (feeding frustration rarely helps me toward clarity, and talking about it often just feeds it) and thirdly because I am deeply concerned about anything I say being misunderstood as undermining a leader.

    I also realize that not everyone takes this conservative approach.

  • mlinford June 8, 2007, 2:19 am

    And I should add that in sharing my approach I’m not trying to dismiss those who feel the need to discuss or say that I don’t care what you have to say. Just sharing my approach. 🙂

    And one last thought — I often find that, for me, I usually get more clarity if I keep things mostly to myself (and/or limit to hubby/a close friend at most) and ponder and study and pray. I have been amazed at clarity that can come as I do this. On issues such as gay marriage, gender issues, a male priesthood, different gender roles, and many other “hot topics” I have found that by keeping my thoughts to myself and taking leaps of faith in my heart and life, I have received line upon line, helping me see more clearly and feel more comfortable with ‘the way things are.’ Although I don’t have any way to prove this, my anecdotal evidence suggests that many times those who complain regularly end up focusing on the negative and the concerns and don’t seem to get clarity. They feed the doubts and questions rather than seeking, from the Lord, the solutions. Most often, I think we have to find these answers for ourselves in the quiet chambers of our hearts (again, speaking more doctrinally than culturally or sometimes even policyally). 🙂

  • facethemusic June 8, 2007, 7:02 am

    I have seen far too many people sit around and complain (not saying that is happening here) and not actually DO anything about their feelings……
    Although I don’t have any way to prove this, my anecdotal evidence suggests that many times those who complain regularly end up focusing on the negative and the concerns and don’t seem to get clarity. They feed the doubts and questions rather than seeking, from the Lord, the solutions.

    Ditto– I’ve seen this so frequently, with other things as well, health issues, marital issues, problems with family members, etc

    Well said.

  • Oregonian June 8, 2007, 1:57 pm

    Posted By: mlinfordI usually get more clarity if I keep things mostly to myself (and/or limit to hubby/a close friend at most) and ponder and study and pray

    Like Allison said, shut up and pray.

    I have seen far too many people sit around and complain and not actually DO anything about their feelings.

    Maybe, but isn’t that what the whole artcle is about? Women who want to act, but are told they should not act or are put down when they do act?

    You can’t tell women to keep things to themselves while at the same time condemning them for doing nothing. Or are they supposed to do something that can’t be identified as doing something?

  • mlinford June 9, 2007, 12:16 am

    Oregonian, I think you are misunderstanding me. Did you read that article by Elder Oaks? He makes some suggestions about actions we can take therein. Also note that I made suggestions for action with various situations. I’m gonna try again to clarify my thoughts a bit.

    I feel a bit like there are two different topics going on. One could be about doctrinal issues that really only the Brethren, our prophets and apostles can deal with. To be perfectly honest, I think there is very little we can or should do to influence what is asked about and sought in this regard. The Church is too big and too diverse and involving too many people with too many points of view and concerns for us to reasonably expect that as individuals it’s our place to influence doctrine, or that each of our individual concerns will be addressed or should be over the pulpit. 🙂

    Alison said:
    My thought, however, is that with a church that is run by men, women’s voices DO need to be heard, out loud, not just in secret prayer. With a God who tends to answer the questions that are asked, and with a church that takes it’s policy and doctrine only from the mouths of men, many of these issues will only be addressed if women are allowed to speak about the issues that effect and concern them and these issues ARE sometimes unique to women and/or to women of particular generations.

    I think this will always be an ongoing process, but the way you frame this, you make it sound a bit as though women’s voices are never heard, that our leaders never seek input or receive input from women. I have heard our leaders address many of the doctrinal issues that do concern women, but I think they also know that the issues really aren’t the way some women think they are. I guess I feel comfortable saying this because as I have thought and pondered about issues that bother a lot of women (and I can understand intellectually why some do), I have gained more perspective and insight and feel less and less need for more information on these topics.

    Back to what I was saying: Councils exist at all levels of the Church, and our leaders (men AND women) get out all over the world, and they have (and ARE) wives and daughters and granddaughters and neighbors and sisters and…. They may not always address things as we individually woudl like, but that doesn’t mean that is simply because they are male and older and don’t understand. It could be sometimes that we don’t. 🙂 And if not, patience can bear out and if we really need our voices heard, we can write letters and send them via the local leaders on up.

    As a sidenote, I think public discussion rarely if ever will have any effect on changing doctrine. I see it as a place to discuss with and support each other and explore ideas judiciously, but I guess I have never understood the idea that public discussion can somehow be used to change doctrine or have our voices be heard because we are simply voicing to each other in such a context.

    I think on doctrinal issues and questions, more often than not, we ought to use prayer not to ask God to reveal more to the prophets, but to ask Him to reveal more to us. Consider the temple, for example. We hear so very little about it (and sometimes I really wish they could say more!) and yet think about how important it is. Might that not be a type of what we might need to do with some doctrinal questions we have? The personal discovery and learning process can be an amazing thing if we stick with it and if we approach things less as problems to be fixed or changed or explained but more about things we need to understand.

    But my thoughts aren’t simply about shutting up and praying, because I think this post is addressing something more that requires a totally different consideration.

    I think that so much of what Alison is getting at doesn’t fall into this realm of doctrine or prophetic revelation at all. A lot of her examples aren’t about revelation or doctrine, but about policy and programs more specifically poorly implemented policy and programs at the local level. Those kinds of issues seem to have little to do with “the octogenarians” and more about the tugs and pulls of imperfect people trying to implement policies and programs that the Lord lets us struggle through a bit. On these, I think there is a lot more room to give feedback because WE are part of the process of making the Church better at our level!! The prophets can’t be with us to implement things as they should be, so it’s up to us to participate with the men in getting the programs and policies to work in a way that benefits God’s sons AND daughters. This is why councils exist. We have stewardships within those wards and/or know the people who do have such stewardships. We can approach them with thoughts and concerns directly if we feel we have something valuable to contribute. I do this ALL OF THE TIME.

    As a sort of side note here, to be honest, I think part of the purpose of priesthood is for men to learn how to assimilate more and to appreciate and work with and consider the views of the women in their life and world, both at home and in the Church. And I think that is why God lets us struggle, so the men can learn how to do that while we as women learn how to work with them and add to the process in a positive way. We are supposed to take our different roles and resopnsibilities and perspectives as men and women and not simply sit in our corners doing things the way we are comfy doing them and without seeking or giving input, but to learn to combine our efforts so that the sum can be greater than the parts.

    So, like I said before, If we really feel there is something that needs to be said or done (and I think we ought to seek the Lord’s guidance to make sure that we arent’ acting in selfishness or myopia), there are ways we can do that, and I listed some of those. I have approached leaders with various concerns and they have listened. (Incidentally, in giving feedback I have also learned that my perception is often not reality. We have to realize that we might be wrong in what we think is wrong (although many examples Alison shared seem really just wrong. 🙂 )

    I think the real changes can only happen as we share our thoughts and concerns with those who have the stewardships to make the changes, particularly at the local level because that fits into our world and our circle of influence. If you aren’t on a council, then talk to someone who is. We have RS presidents and YW presidents and denmothers and Primary Presidents (who have some level of stewardship over scouts (a counselor in the presidency is over this!) we can talk with. Encourage them to represent the concerns that women and mothers have about things that are happening. Talk to other women to see if they share your concerns, so you can get a feeling for the perspectives around you. Talk to priesthood leaders at ward and if necessary stake levels. We are not only led by men. Women are SUPPOSED to have input! Ask Elder Ballard!

    It is not heresy to participate in our wards and stakes, as long as we do so in a way that 1) respects stewardships and follows the order of things (speaking to and through those with stewardships (which means we can also talk directly to bishops, for example); 2) seeks to contribute to the process of improvement with the guidance of the Spirit and 3) doesn’t violate our charge to sustain our leaders (which means we don’t criticize them or undermine them — we share feedback if we feel so inclined or inspired and then we support them in whatever they do).

    To me, this is part of what is exciting about being part of a ward, because we CAN get involved and make a difference and have our thoughts be heard. The mechanisms are in place! There is an order to it all, but there is much we can do within that order to have our voices be heard!

    Thoughts? I’ve rambled on, I know, but I think it’s important to parse out the different situations that merit different responses and to recognize where our energy will best be put to good use! 🙂

  • mlinford June 9, 2007, 2:26 am

    BTW, I just want to add, since Alison is off chastising herself somewhere else as an “evil questioner” that I think it’s perfectly natural to have questions, to wonder about things, to have holes we want filled. It’s one of the challenges of faith, especially for those of us who are information people. At least I’m an information person. (But I still can’t not say that I find the discovery process through faith really quite exciting, too in its own right…. 🙂 )

  • SilverRain June 9, 2007, 9:47 am

    First, I will apologize for being “overly dramatic.” I apparently project my own feelings onto other people, a failing of which I was unaware. I have been falling apart over the past few weeks, and my grandfather’s funeral accelerated my breakdown. I will try to leave my feelings out of future articles in the interest of not indulging in the sort of things facethemusic discussed above. I can’t promise to be perfect at it, because part of me struggles with the thought that I have to suppress my feelings to avoid leading others astray or hurting other people. To be honest – it makes me want to run away from people. If I can’t honestly express what I feel without hurting other people, than I would rather remove myself from people. It’s an urge I have fought against my entire life. I have always found it easier to leave than to stay and cause pain or be criticized for such expression. In my defense, I do know the difference between what I feel other people think and what they truly think. Unfortunately, it’s essentially impossible to act on what another person truly thinks rather than on what you think they think.

    I believe the main difference between “questioning” and “asking questions” is the intent behind it. Am I asking questions to challenge the Brethren, or to learn? Am I trying to find fault, or am I trying to understand? Am I angry, or am I confused? If I am angry, am I feeding the anger or trying to alleviate it? Am I making positive change or simply tearing down existing structure? Am I feeling the Spirit of Christ as I act, or the spirit of contention?

  • mlinford June 9, 2007, 11:19 am

    Ah, SilverRain, way to put it all succinctly.

    And incidentally, I don’t think facethemusic was suggesting that you leave your feelings out. I really don’t. I think she was just seeing a possible pattern in things that you have said, suggesting that maybe there was more to your feelings that an isolated topic. I hope you won’t feel to remove yourself from us here.

    And I am so very sorry you have had a difficult time the past couple of weeks. Hugs to you!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 9, 2007, 2:25 pm

    Silver, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a blessing for you to have had such a wonderful man in your life into adulthood!

    Please, don’t leave your feelings out. That’s what makes us human.

    Posted By: mlinfordAm I asking questions to challenge the Brethren, or to learn? Am I trying to find fault, or am I trying to understand? Am I angry, or am I confused? If I am angry, am I feeding the anger or trying to alleviate it? Am I making positive change or simply tearing down existing structure? Am I feeling the Spirit of Christ as I act, or the spirit of contention?

    That was truly profound. Thank you.

  • facethemusic June 9, 2007, 2:31 pm

    Silver, I certainly didn’t mean that you should leave your feelings out– we all put our feelings into the things we do, say and write about. Many of the articles here are charged with feeling and passion, that’s part of what drives the site! It’s also part of what makes for good discussion.
    I was trying to say that it seemed that much of what you posted in various threads reflected deep feelings of hurt and rejection. And I do not think that you should avoid sharing those here. I just wondered how much of your intense feelings were made worse, and how much may have even been self-inflicted in part , by repeating those negative things to yourself in all-inclusive terms.
    You made that wonderful and touching banner, and everyone loves it. Someone pointed that out and said in so many words.. “see? Your talents are wanted and are appreciated.” And that’s sort of what I was driving at. I couldn’t imagine that in your entire life in the church, that no one had ever wanted or used your various talents, or had ever given you a purpose or responsbility within the church. I thought that surely, you’d used your talents many times, whether it was teaching a lesson, singing in the choir, giving a talk, teaching a homemaking class, etc. So when you said that your talents had never been wanted by anyone at church, and you never had a purpose within the church, I wondered if you’d said that to yourself so many times that you’d gotten to a point that you actually believed it.
    Anyway– I sincerely apologize if my post only caused you to feel even MORE hurt and rejected. I honestly just felt badly after reading that you felt so insignificant.

  • mlinford June 9, 2007, 4:55 pm

    By the way, the quote indicates that the profound words were from me, but they were from SilverRain. And I agree they are profound, and succinct (something I admire in a person!) 🙂

  • Sharilee10 June 9, 2007, 6:02 pm

    Regarding your rant, Alison . . . it makes me so grateful I am a big picture person and sometimes lack in noticing the detail!! I hadn’t even thought of half the stuff you pointed out!! LOLOL . . . is this good or bad!?! I guess it just is what it is . . .

    I will have to finish reading this full thread later (there ARE other things I need to do in this life!), but I have to say that from what I read facethemusic seems to be my kindred spirit on this issue. I have agreed with pretty much everything I have seen her post.

    I have never felt insignificant in the Church just for being female. In fact– I have actually always felt a little ‘special’ as a daughter of God. There is so much focus on that! Of course, the men are sons of God, too, but I haven’t noticed as much focus on that– maybe it’s just because I’m not in those male settings. Maybe part of it has to do with growing up in a class with 13 girls and 5 boys– Girls Ruled from day one! 🙂 Hmmm . . . I hever thought of that having such an impact on my overall life’s experience.

    When I have had any inkling that I was less significant than the next guy it has always been self-inflicted and an inaccurate assumption of others. I find that more often than not our issues with others are actually us projecting our own issues onto them.

    As a single woman I certainly noticed a ‘difference’ in the callings I received after my divorce. I can’t deny that there have been times I have wondered about that or even had discussions and I guess feelings about it. However, the bottomline has always boiled down to me that I KNOW God extends the callings (you were only my FIRST experience in that area– I had several other equally compelling experiences that have driven home the point that callings come from God himself). So– when I wanted to complain about the fact that it seemed like the Church didn’t need my talents anymore simply because I was a single woman now, I quickly pushed those thoughts aside and accepted His will for that time in my life. It eventually lead to my involvement in community activities, etc (I still had time and energy, so I had to turn elsewhere to use my talents). I confess there have been times I have stated it such in the term, “Since the Church didn’t need me I tooks my talents to the community.” I can’t deny, though, that hindsight revealssome pretty interesting stuff to me. My community involvement has lead me down paths that have blessed my life in ways that will bless me and mine forever. I am soooo glad it all worked out the way it did. All is as it should be and life is good.

    Silver— whatever you may have felt in the past, I hope that you are aware of the incredible talent and skill you have with graphics and will look for ways to share that gift. I can only wish I had such creativity and ability! You rock, girl!

  • SilverRain June 10, 2007, 7:53 am

    Facethemusic – you are right in saying that I’ve made my own pain worse. I realize that. It is one thing, however, realizing that, and another thing to change it. It’s a struggle that I’ve gone through with varying levels of success for years. Most of the time, I win. Sometimes, Satan wins. I’m getting better at it, though. Thank you for your concern.

    That is why I dislike “the power of positive thinking” lines of reason. It is not just a matter of getting up in the morning and saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” to yourself in the mirror. You can say that to yourself seventy times seven times daily and you’ll only push yourself into deeper self-loathing. It might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for all.

    As far as feeling insignificant – I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with that. It can lead to greater understanding of God’s love and care for us. Both Alma and Moses came to this realization. Their understanding was followed by an understanding that although they are nothing, and are weak, that they had a place in God’s plan. That place was revealed to them through the power of the Spirit. You just have to be careful that that feeling of insignificance doesn’t end there.

    As for the rest on my “talents” being used – or not – in the ward, I’d better leave it alone. 😐 I admit that I have a tendency to push away strongly when I’m pushed away softly. It’s a defense mechanism. 🙁

  • Alison Moore Smith June 10, 2007, 3:59 pm

    Thought about what you said, Sharilee. In my current ward, being married to the same person you started out with is almost an oddity. We’ve even been teased (good-naturedly) about it. I’d say about half the ward is divorced or remarried. And most of the leaders, it seems, are divorced, some remarried. I’ve been here five years and, if I think about we’ve had the following callings filled by divorces: bishop, two bishop’s counselors, bunch of clerks, YW president (myriad counselors), YM president (same), two Primary presidents (same), Sunday School president, HP group leader. Not sure about EQ, since I never know who’s in there. So the only “major” ward calling where this didn’t happen was RS president, but multiple RS counselors.

    There is no stigma about divorce here at all. Should there be? Interesting topic, maybe.

    Posted By: Sharilee10Since the Church didn’t need me I tooks my talents to the community.

    I’d love to explore this more, but don’t have much time. Of course, your community service is wonderful and valuable. But I do think as leaders, we should be very careful that we don’t allow our own prejudices to cause us to overlook the person God would chose. Yes, I believe in inspiration in extending calls, but I don’t believe that God FORCES us to use HIS first choice, any more than he forces us to do anything else. And, sorry, but I do believe that sometimes very talented, capable, faithful people get looked over again and again because of the weaknesses of the LEADERS. I don’t think people get pigeon-holed and forgotten in callings for years on end necessarily because God wants them to be.

    So, it’s not a condemnation of leaders. I’ve been in leadership positions multiple times and I’ve probably DONE the very thing I’m talking about it–honestly, usually because I haven’t really thought about it. But it’s something to be aware of. Thinking about it is a GOOD thing.

    Posted By: SilverRainAs far as feeling insignificant – I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with that.

    That is a really good point. I’m going to think more about that today. 🙂

  • Oregonian June 11, 2007, 11:11 pm

    I think the threads are starting to blend together. The blacks, scouts, and octogenarians are converging. 🙂

    I’m going to write this here because I think it fits better, even though the black thread has been taken over by women.

    I get a little offended by the idea that wondering about things or even asking things means you don’t trust or that you don’t really understand the gospel at a deep level. Don’t we have enough prophets who have gone through questioning and searching to keep us from being holier-than-thou. “If you just prayed and had the spirit, you’d know the same thing I do.”

  • mlinford June 12, 2007, 1:53 am

    Oregonian, you are right that we shouldn’t assume that our answers or approaches will work for someone else. I mentioned on the other thread that this is a weakness I have. But on the flip side, it seems unfair to quickly label people as trying to be holier-than-thou. I think our discussions might go better if we try to give each other the benefit of the doubt a bit and not fling accusations at each other. These are tender topics and require us all to be willing to step back and not make assumptions. It’s yet another reminder to me, anyway, that I need to do better in that regard.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 12, 2007, 6:28 pm

    Short rant of the day:

    In LDS.org in the Prepare a Lesson>Lesson Home here is the order of the lessons:

    Aaronic Priesthood
    Melchizedek Priesthood
    Optional Courses
    Relief Society
    Young Women

    So it’s all alphabetical EXCEPT that the priesthood ones are all listed first?

    Rant out.

  • SilverRain June 12, 2007, 6:57 pm

    I’m confused. Are they not listed completely alphabetically? I don’t see it.

  • mlinford June 12, 2007, 10:20 pm

    Alison, I’m sorry, but I’m sort of chuckling because they are ALL in alphabetical order. 🙂

  • mlinford June 12, 2007, 11:55 pm

    Get some sleep.

  • ksjarvis July 2, 2009, 6:25 am

    Hi Alison,

    I’ve been going back and reading some of the archives and have really been learning a lot and enjoying the discussions. I really wish I had found this site sooner!!!

    I have noticed that in a couple of places you have briefly mentioned a few of your views about women and the priesthood and I was just wondering if you ever wrote an article about that and if there is a discussion thread about it. If so could you direct me to that thread? I would really interested in what you and others have to say about it. My opinions are only partially formed on that issue and it would be comforting and informative to know what others think about it.


  • Alison Moore Smith July 2, 2009, 1:13 pm

    Thanks Katheryn.

    I have a lot of stuff sprinkled here and there on the site about women’s isues. Like this post and the woman and prayers thing and the boy scout thing.

    It’s really been from writing over the years that I’ve become more discontent with the status quo. Coming from a place where I accepted the gender differentiation–even if it bothered me (my earliest recollection was at my sister’s baptism in 1968, when I was four and I told my mom I wanted my dad to baptize me but her to confirm me–the sense of fairness was very strong even then)–I have come to the point where it honestly makes no sense to me at all.

    I can see the affect of general culture in the church–blacks and the priesthood being the closest example–and I sincerely think a lot of it is simply culture that has become pseudo-doctrine.

    Don’t mind me though, I really haven’t solidified my own thinking either. I just know I’m bugged.

    Someday I’ll probably write about it more. But feel free to start your own thread about it. Or, if you want to write a guest blog, I welcome that, too. Others will undoubtedly join in.

  • ksjarvis July 3, 2009, 6:07 am

    I am not sure about writing a post about just yet myself, because to be honest I’m not even sure how to convey some of the thoughts that I have on it. Maybe one day.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 12, 2007, 11:39 pm

    Ahem. That’s exactly my point. Obviously they chose all the auxiliary names so that men are first and women are last. 😉

    Either that or I should stop posting with only two hours of sleep.

    We report. You decide.

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