Sunday in Outer Blogness: Bread and Stones Edition!!
You may recall from last week that some LDS women (including some bloggers) were planning to stand in line to see if they could get into the male-only conference session that they had been denied tickets to. And — surprise, surprise! — they didn’t get let in.
OK, I know, that probably doesn’t surprise anyone, and you probably also won’t be surprised that one of the apostles decided to add insult to injury by making some remarks (from the pulpit, at conference) about feminists devaluing homemaking. I naturally assumed this was some sort of intentional provocation designed to anger the supporters of Ordain Women, but then I thought better of it when I remembered the old adage, “never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple incompetence.” (Plus, at least the CoJCoL-dS has a good cop: Elder Uchtdorf.)
fMhLisa, however, reacted more charitably than I did, and wrote a beautiful piece encouraging empathy towards leaders who perhaps don’t realize they’re giving a stone to those asking for bread:
I donâ€™t think Elder Christofferson ever really heard me ask for bread. And I think, I truly do, that when he handed me that pile of rocks, he really for realz not-even-kidding thought he was handing me bread.
I know he hasnâ€™t heard me, because the person he described when he thought he was describing me is nothing like me at all. I donâ€™t devalue motherhood, motherhood is the best most valuable thing I have ever or will ever do. I donâ€™t want to destroy the differences between men and women, I love Relief Society and I love it when my husband gets his beard on and goes all Grizzly Adams and then lifts heavy things. Rawrrrrr. I donâ€™t want to be a man, I look far too good in heels and twirly skirts, thanksanyway, nor do I hate men, see Rawrrr above, nor any of the old feminist tropes.
But beyond continuing to be utterly transparent about who I really am, I can do nothing to convince anyone that my faithful yearnings are not selfish, power-hungry, rebellious and destructive. Until they are ready to look, until they are ready to hear, then the only thing I can do is to try my darndest not to return upon them that lack of seeing and hearing.
The women’s attempt to attend the meeting garnered various reactions: Admonitions to submit to authority, a list of open questions that give a very strong whiff of being rhetorical, sweet stories illustrating how selfish and misguided those women-who-want-the-priesthood must be, sad tales of how the priesthood would be less special for men if women could have it too, floating the idea of a new separate-and-unequal priesthood for LDS women, alternate suggestions for how women could have greater opportunity for leadership, responsibility, and visibility in the church, a request that the leaders listen, tips for giving a “mother’s blessing,” answering those annoying FAQs, and more reasons to give LDS women the priesthood.
Personally — and I’m sure others would back me on this — I think it would have been funnier if the CoJCoL-dS had just let the women attend the session. It would be like: Ha! Joke’s on you! Now you have to sit through another boring meeting that you could have watched on TV from home, only here you can’t slip out and get a snack during the extra boring parts or play “Conference Bingo”!
Well, maybe you could still play Conference Bingo if you’re subtle about it. But not as a drinking game. (Note: Even the faithful don’t rate the content as being the top reason to attend conference.)
As interesting as the Mormon gender-drama has been, it can’t match the whirl-o-crazy that hit the US government this past week. You’ve probably been following the story, so I’ll focus on what Outer Blogness is saying about it: Obamacare has its advantages and now some folks are on unpaid leave. Fortunately, the CoJCoL-dS has stepped in to take over for the government. (Cleary the US government isn’t what it used to be.) Brett Cottrell sums it up:
It might seem like Mike Lee and his Tea Party chums resemble Ahab chasing after their white whale, Obamacare. But this is wrong. Ahab knew how to sail. Mike Lee is flailing at sea, bailing the ocean into his sinking boat. Mike Lee isn’t Ahab. Ahab would take off his peg leg and beat him with it. Either way, they both crash the boat and don’t care who they take down with them.
In other drama — this time totally unrelated to Mormonism and/or this community — there has been an interesting battle over rape apologetics in the online atheist community.
It turns out a lot of people wrote on other topics: Brother Jake explained his YouTube series. Bill posted an unusual picture of a mountain. The CoJCoL-dS doesn’t have a policy on climate change. Mormon Disclosures has a sneak preview of the Brigham Young Lectures. Advice for new sister missionaries from someone who’s been there. And Ren brought us this week’s scripture mastery with a lesson on the problem with holy writ:
I posted the text above on FB. The responses from my TBM friends included one lamenting that some things in scriptures seem weird and she wished she knew more about the culture at the time. Because it would be ok then? My response to that was that Iâ€™m sure Leah would not have been happy in any century. I also said that some things seem weird because they are.
In life journeys, Jen described how her approach to planning has changed, and Dad’s Primal Scream explained how he found truth. Plus I found a cool blog I wasn’t aware of (through his wife’s blog), which includes a fascinating deconversion story:
You are expected to not stay too long in the celestial room, but they donâ€™t rush out the new ones too fast. After 20 minutes or so people start to file out. I hang back, and ask my son privately if he has any questions. You arenâ€™t supposed to discuss details of the ceremony outside so like a good dad I want to see if there were any he has. We have a pretty good level of communication, more so than many parents and teens I suppose. He even knew I had some reservations about being here today. (Not the whole long story or the depth of my belief issues, just that I was unsure.) So I ask him, â€œWe have to leave now, do you have any questions?â€ He looked me square in the eye and said,
â€œYeah, did I just join a cult?â€
It hits me hard, devastates me. All the same angst I had felt my first time, the â€˜freaked outâ€™ feeling I had after making those oaths some 20+ years ago, the eerie feeling of being touched be a stranger, the fear about what I had just done like a bad memory flooded back all at once. I realize in that moment I had not been honest with myself for a very long time and that had led me to this point and to this question.
Wow, it’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? And I’m sure the story of the women who tried to go to priesthood session isn’t over! Happy reading, and here’s hoping you have health insurance and are not on unpaid leave…
Regarding, “Did I just join a cult?” If people think the temple ceremony is weird now, they should have gone through when I did; it was much weirder then.
As for the Mormon feminists hoping to be admitted to the Priesthood Session, they have my sympathy. I know what’s it’s like when you ask church leaders for bread and get a rock. I realize it’s hard to leave a church that you not only believe in, but it’s your whole way of life. Still, I can’t help but wonder if leaving wouldn’t be the best way to get Church leader’s attention. Have you noticed all the pleas at Conference and other venues to, “Stay with us” in spite of everything. In spite of the flaws and questions. They must realize they’re losing people and if more go they may actually begin reform in ernest. Or am I dreaming? Could they ever be transparent, honest, maybe even democratic rather than authoritarian? Could they ever have a female member of the Council of the Twelve?
Feminists of all stripes, Mormon or not, have my sympathy and support.
I don’t think so. The Ordain Women movement has small numbers so far, so leaving would do nothing. They are better off getting the press and continuing to grow. Media is potentially viral nowadays (that is, in many ways uncontrolled by tycoons), so the time is ripe for such a movement to grow.
I agree with @2 on this point — I don’t think they’d get more attention by leaving the church. If they just leave, it is way too easy for the leaders to simply dismiss them as unfaithful/unrighteous, and then use it as a cautionary tale about how women wanting the priesthood is selfishness that leads down the road to apostasy.
That crap about feminists devaluing motherhood and/or homemaking is a total non sequitur with respect to the obvious context (LDS women asking for the priesthood and/or more opportunity for leadership roles and responsibility). But they say stuff like that because demonizing the feminists comforts many people who might otherwise have seen faithful women with a sincere desire to do service, and who might consequently have started wondering whether the leadership is doing right by them.
@1 Don’t get me wrong — I think the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS are concerned about the number of people leaving. But I think they are happier to get back the semi-believers who are willing to sit in the back and shut up. It helps the church’s story if the people sincerely asking for change would just leave.
Uchtdorf’s talk points to a bit of a gentler strategy towards the less-conforming Mormons, but could they actually reform in earnest, and be transparent, honest, maybe even democratic rather than authoritarian…? Honestly, I don’t think the current leadership of the CoJCoL-dS is capable of developing any kind of coherent plan or strategy and sticking to it consistently.
It is interesting to me how multiple GA’s who gave talks managed to take the Two Great Commandments, which are about love, and turn them into an anti-LBGT talk (or at least part of a talk). That takes skill.
@4 I didn’t follow all of the talks — which ones were those?
OK, from the comments on other threads, it looks like the talk by Oaks is the one to read up on.
@4 Thanks for pointing that out. I was starting to feel the whole gay thing had been swept under the rug. Thank goodness the church leaders still have it in their hearts to slam on more than one demographic at a time.
I haven’t heard anything about Boyd K Packer this time around did he behave himself?
@8 I meant that other people alluded to the talk on the discussion on the posts before and after this one here at MSP. But, for example, Steve Evans wrote an interesting discussion of Oaks talk at BCC.