The Power of God, from the women’s view

If you saw this video, and only this, what would you say of the role of women in the Church?

Breaking it down, scene by scene:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8. 

9.

10.

11.  (His reaction to 10.)

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

Discuss.

[Note: this post comes at the request of a number of female viewers of this Mormon Message.]

Comments

  1. I would say this video fairly accurately depicts the role of women in the Church as ideally conceived by the men who run it.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, I don’t know if that’s fair. I think it’s a video about a male priesthood, and so the role of women was never likely to be very prominent — but yeah, this is not great.

  3. They had nice smiles.

  4. Number 6 gives me the jibblies. I suppose we are meant to infer that he had been doing some service project at her house, and she is pouring him some water out of gratitude for his service of hard physical labor. But that isn’t obvious, and the expressions on their faces just makes it look bad. Even more so for her being the same lady he was passing the sacrament to in the scene before.

  5. Jane's Diction says:

    While it has some beautiful moments, and IS admittedly about the priesthood, much more sensitivity could have been applied to the editing choices. Specifically, the women as poised as backdrop without exception, and seem either subservient or ready to serve. Why is a single man taught and baptized, instead of a family, including a woman? Why is the son of the protagonist baptized, not a daughter? I won’t even get into the pouring a drink scene – it was the 50’s right? :) Especially from an outside view, this has sexism stamped all over it: women appear to relegated to background props – complete with looks of worshipful adoration.

  6. MelissaBea says:

    Ditto to Jane’s Diction. Women are marginalized, silent, background figures. Yuck.

  7. If I’d just watched the video without Blog Context, I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it. As is, I’m glad Gospel != Church, because otherwise I think I’d be out of here.

  8. serving and being served is what I see, just like the kid. Mind you it all seemed to be stuck in the ’70’s

  9. I would think that women stood idly by, passively watching men actively perform rites of the priesthood. But I wouldn’t know anything much about the role of women in the church, only the roles that women do not fill. I think most viewers, Mormon or not, would easily recognize a distinction between “priesthood” and “church” if only by analogy to, say, the Catholic church or to the business world where until fairly recently they would have seen the same distinction between management and managed. (What they would make of that distinction I’m not saying, but I think it’s fair to assume most would be able to make that distinction.)

    I’m not saying this video is innocent of what you seem to be implying merely by asking the question. I do, however, think it’s fair for the church to make a video depicting the roles of one segment of the membership, just the same as I think it’s fair for a scholar to study one aspect of a problem or a doctor to specialize in one part of the body or a conductor to favor one section of the orchestra. None of these tell the full story; nobody pretends they do.

  10. Sweet, smiley, supporting, subservient. Doesn’t make me happy.

    I have a question though: How does it compare with others not specifically about the priesthood? Excluding any that are specifically about Relief Society (or maybe it would be worth looking at those as well), is the role of women any different? Sorry, I’m showing my Mormon Message/film illiteracy. I really had no idea it was just released in December!

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, very astute.

  12. This was really interesting. If this is all I had to go on:

    Women are not baptized.
    Women look adoringly at men (sons and husbands).
    Men serve women the sacrament; women serve men lemonade.
    Women are agressors (10)? (Though I missed that in my first viewing of the video.)
    I couldn’t figure out what #20 was all about in the video; I gues it’s that men and women can give service.
    Men serve their wives (and love them).

    What Jane’s Diction said in #5.

    I agree that this is to illustrate potential scenes in this boy’s life after he receives the priesthood, but it sort of flies in the face of the notion that all members of the church — men and women — are the recipients of the blessings of the priesthood. Certainly would have been nice to at least somehow see the contribution a mother makes to her young priesthood holder’s life (more than pouring lemonade…)

  13. Since the video appears to be the journey of one specific person, and that person is male, how can it really be applied as an example of how women are utilized in the Church? All I see is that -everyone-, male and female, who is not the main character, is secondary. It wouldn’t be difficult to make a similar video of a girl growing up in the Church, showing her leading, teaching, and blessing the lives of others. Granted, it would not be showing her using the Priesthood, but it would also not be showing her sitting idly by while some male did all the “real work”.

  14. It’s not a video about priesthood responsibilities per se. It’s a video about the power of God to bless our lives. That a film on such a lofty topic focuses singlemindedly on male priesthood responsibilities and depicts women the way it does (and much more defines how they are(n’t) depicted than mere non-participation in priesthood duties…) speaks volumes about their place in the Church and in God’s plan as envisioned through the prism of how we have done and currently do things.

  15. I think we often see what we believe or what we expect to see.

    I think the “only this” in the OP twists everything from the outset, since the Church doesn’t produce “only this”.

    I get the concerns, and I even agree with some of them, but, in the end, I second Ardis’ comment.

  16. Well, it was Hugh Nibley (channeling his inner Emerson) who said that the most important role in the gospel is to be an observer…

  17. MikeInWeHo says:

    Am I the only one who found the stop-motion approach kind of creepy overall? It was like the first Mormon Message produced by Madame Tussaud.

  18. So what is the “best” Mormon-themed church video in terms of demonstrating ideals of equality and being you know actual agents unto themselves? A side by side comparison would be interesting.

  19. This was actually quite a radical presentation, since slide 14 shows the sitting woman blessing a child while the standing man holds said child.

    Oh wait, what? That’s not what’s actually going on there? Well, then, never mind…

  20. Totally agreed, Mike. It’s creepy to me, and seems especially unfortunate given stereotypes by non-Mormons that Mormons are wooden or fake (part of Romney’s problem). Somebody was way, way, way, way too excited about the fancy new camera setup they just got their hands on.

  21. The problem (to Frank and others) is that in the church a woman’s journey isn’t important enough to get a video like this about working with the power of God to bless lives. Does a “Mormon Message” exist to that end? I’d love to be proven wrong if it does…

  22. I know a lot of people dislike the priesthood = childbearing role-equal-but-different thing, but I kind of dig it. I.e. having children is something biologically only women can do (although of course priesthood isn’t a biological function and there’s the temple female component, etc). So this video, since it’s called the Power of God (and since we say we are co-creators with God in providing physical bodies), seems to me that the female corollary could be first menses, continuing menses every month with accompanying cramps/rage/chocolate eating, pregnancy, labor and birth, breastfeeding, and then a slow unraveling of metaphorical apron strings. Maybe that is offensive to my feminist friends, but as I am drawing out the breastfeeding of my fourth child, I’m feeling pre-nostalgia for the amazing things a woman’s body can do.

    It’s tricky though, that the Power of God in the female manifestation is usually considered extremely private, complicated by the OT designations of associated uncleanliness.

    Completely unrelated: I am preparing my lesson from the Primary 7 book (lesson 3) and plan to teach that Nephi knew that he would be helped in keeping God’s command because he was probably familiar with the Deborah/Barak/Jael/Sisera story (Barak even has a Nephi-ian declaration) and that he realized how valuable narratives like that would be for his children. No subservient women in that story!

  23. What is extra-awesome about this video is that it doesn’t have two separate problems, (1) the gender inequality, and (2) the creepy way-overused special effects. These are in fact one problem:

    You can’t tell me that if you’d had a woman in charge of directing this video, or had there been any input at all from women in the making of this video, that you’d have ended up with 3:24 straight of OMG I GOT A SHINY NEW CAMERA GIZMO THAT I CAN’T STOP USING at the expense of all other artistic considerations. Sorry, male gender, but that’s all on you. (and I say this even as a geek woman who likes her gizmos)

  24. Molly Bennion says:

    What Ardis said.
    Then, as a ward RS President, I ask: where is the video that speaks to the tremendous service (compassionate, teaching and leading) women do without aid of Priesthood, with “only” the Spirit, a love of Christ and their own admirable talents?

  25. Steve Evans says:

    “I know a lot of people dislike the priesthood = childbearing role-equal-but-different thing, but I kind of dig it”

    You can dig it if you want, but it’s totally and completely a fiction used to blind and enslave you. YMMV.

  26. Molly Bennion says:

    #22 I want my grandchildren in your Primary class.

  27. Thank you Ardis (#9). I did not feel off-put by the video at all (except for a little motion sick from all the camera movement). What I did feel was a renewed desire to excerise my priesthood righteously. And a renewed desire for my daughters to be able to do the same.

    One more thing – frame #16 is completely unbelievable. Every LDS baptism I’ve been to has 10-20 kids cramming the glass and blocking everyone else’s view. My kids are normally in the middle of the scrum.

  28. I think that the idea that the power of God = Priesthood is not particularly supportable.

  29. I’m with Steve Evans (#25). Actually, I prefer the “priesthood = menopause role-equal-but-different thing.” It makes about as much sense.

  30. Stapes,
    Unless this video counts as valid grounds for supporting such an equation…

  31. It is interesting how one notices those things that one wants to find in a Church message. I cannot see the motion video, so, my comment is on the screen caps only. I notice by the clothing that the footage at some point is intended to portray the 70’s. I notice people seem to be exclusively caucasian. That is probably the first thing that jumped at me.

    I am no stranger to video editing though, and I can see the editor’s effort in portraying a chronologically correct sequence. The boy in screen cap 1 is supposed to be the same individual as the old man in screen cap 25; while screencap 26 signals that the cycle is expected to be repeated for every generation of priesthood holders. This is where I see the editor placing the 70’s clothing on the characters to portray the youth of the old man. But as time went by, and when the second boy is being ordained, I think a little more racial diversity would have been a welcome sight from us minorities.

    If this message was just recently released like someone said, I feel that the people who released seem to nostalgically long for the days of old… perhaps the 70’s before 1978 and before we needed to worry about political correctness and life outside happy caucasian LDS communities.

    Like others have noted, this particular message appears to be about the priesthood, or about the expected chronological events in the life of a priesthood holder. I do notice the women’s passive role of simply being there happy to witness these events, and take part of the event in the case of marriage and child bearing. If the release date of this message is correct, I do think people putting these material together still are not very well aware of current sentiments within certain segments of the LDS community. This is “retro” in every aspect. People in chage of producing and releasing this type of material are in need of serious “Voice of the Customer” research.

  32. I want to join in agreeing with Ardis’ comment. I think it’s fair enough that the church might want to make a video about a boy’s life arc, and his milestones, and his use of the priesthood. Having one subject for a video necessarily excludes or minimizes others, and that’s not a problem per se.

    The big asterisk on that, when it comes to trying to use it as an excuse for this video in its finished form, is that the details of the artistic choices enormously amplify whatever natural imbalance there might be arising purely from the chosen subject matter. The framing of the shots with women’s faces (just look at 0:54–ack), the very unfortunate cut directly from the image of young boys serving the sacred Sacrament to the unintentionally (?) but startlingly parallel image of a grown woman serving lemonade, the baptism scene, etc. All in all, this highlighted the inequality to an awkward degree, beyond what was strictly necessary from the subject matter.

  33. Aaron the Ogre says:

    To me, the video deals with issues of dual marginalization: “men, hold the priesthood and just do your duty; and women, be baby machines, it’s your duty.” The video misses the pragmatism of LDS lives. Yes, women deliver babies and men hold the priesthood, but isn’t there some overlap in roles and duties in any congregation and family in the church?

    If there were not, wouldn’t there be mass defections from both? Oh wait, there are.

    I think it is the over-emphasis and over-simplification of roles that sometimes leads to the marginalization of men and women in the church and the dissatisfaction that accompanies said marginalization. “If we are to be equally yoked” (Pres. Hinckley), there has to be a reemphasis on the overlap each individual plays in any congregation and family to avoid failure.

  34. seagullfountain:

    seems to me that the female corollary could be first menses, continuing menses every month with accompanying cramps/rage/chocolate eating, pregnancy, labor and birth, breastfeeding, and then a slow unraveling of metaphorical apron strings. Maybe that is offensive to my feminist friends, but as I am drawing out the breastfeeding of my fourth child, I’m feeling pre-nostalgia for the amazing things a woman’s body can do.

    Well, setting aside your feminist friends, what do you think the church thinks about your nostalgia for the things your body can do? You say what you feel the “female corollary” is–do you imagine the church celebrating that corollary in a video? Is the church ever going to make a video about a girl on life’s arc, from the proud moment of first menses to the challenges of leaking milk, to the hormones of menopause? I happen to agree with you that the magic/power/glory of being a woman is in part found in the raw physicality of it and supremacy of the body and its functions across a wide range of experiences that, in totality, have a deeply spiritual dimension. I could imagine a really powerful and artistic video celebrating those things in all their gore and physicality in a way that is still beautiful. I just can’t imagine Mormon Messages choosing to put out that video.

  35. EmJen, I enjoyed the link you provided. It includes quite nicely what I indicated was missing from the video in my comment #12, namely the mother’s role in helping her son prepare to receive and honor the priesthood.

    Manuel (31), I thought the boy in the final frame was the same as the boy at the beginning — that is this is his life flashing before him as he is ordained.

  36. Paul,

    Oh, ok… still haven’t seen the actual motion video… I see now they are the exact same people… :)

  37. “If you saw this video, and only this, what would you say of the role of women in the Church?”

    That it’s a male centered, male run church, despite the shining female smiles suggesting that it’s alright.

  38. President Monson says it best in this video (at about 0:19): “There is nothing else to compare with it [the priesthood] in all this world.”

    So no, you can’t say “men have priesthood and women have motherhood.”

  39. Some Guy Named Mark says:

    It’s definitely the weirdest episode of Mad Men that I’ve ever seen.

  40. Steve Evans says:

    #40 nomination for BCotW

  41. Mommie Dearest says:

    I watched the video with the voice-over (President Monson, wasn’t it?) which was the most revealing part for me. It’s hard to tease it apart, you listen to the holy music signifying something of utmost import, with the iconic images where only men are active; all the women are passive, but the voice-over nails it, repeatedly stating how important the priesthood is. “There is nothing else to compare it to in all the world!”

    After reading Ardis’ deconstruction (#9), it occurred to me that what was bothering me was that “priesthood” was being hailed as The Most Valuable Thing ever, without making any distinction between the actual priesthood, the blessings it creates, and the administration of them. And it was praised to the degree that the several other things of equal or greater importance were devalued by default, and once again we had another erroneous marketing tool that conflates the importance of the waitstaff with importance of the banquet. I can see that the video is all about the Brethren struggling to knock it into guy’s heads that worthiness is important (cause this priesthood thing is a big deal, guys!) but one of the unfortunate companion effects of this approach is that women are, forever and again, devalued and made invisible.

    It’s very wearying. I don’t have time to follow this; I shouldn’t be commenting anyway; I have too much invisible work to do.

    Also, the stop-motion style is just the trend of it’s time that isn’t aging well. It’s not 70’s though; it’s not that old. But it is a little dated to our hip, 2012 sensibilities.

    PS #41 seconded

  42. I’m willing to forgive the video as an accurate portal as a how a man utilizes the Priesthood throughout his life. I even like the ending implying that, “All this potential is given at this one moment.” It’s a good video.

    I’m not willing to forgive the overuse of a shaky stop-motion camera and the clunky editing. It felt like a cheap, amateur version of Disney’s Soarin’ California.

  43. #42 “but one of the unfortunate companion effects of this approach is that women are, forever and again, devalued and made invisible…” and “one of the unfortunate companion effects of this approach is that women are, forever and again, devalued and made invisible.”

    I can agree to both of those statements fully. Well said.

  44. Dang it, J. Stapley beat me to it, but I’ll say it again just because… Priesthood is not synonymous with the power of God.

    Mogs

  45. Ray, the church doesn’t produce “only this” but the are promoting and touting this, and encouraging us to share it on Facebook and Twitter. I frankly don’t want my family, who limits their exposure to LDS things, to ever see this- it’s not the face of the church I want them to know.

  46. Thank you for reminding me why I don’t watch Mormon Messages.

    It seems more like the 12 year-old is visioning what his life is going to be like now that he’s getting the priesthood. Interesting that a mission was never in there… Was this movie based off Monson’s life?

  47. whizzbang says:

    @45-Can you or J. Stapley please flesh that idea of God’s power not being synonymous with Priesthood?

  48. Capozaino says:

    A wild feminist appears. Ardis uses *perspective* . . . IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE!

  49. Tracy, in fairness, they have “promoted and touted” on FB, twitter, etc, tons of other videos before this one, including very woman-focused ones. Like Uchtdorf talking about women’s potential for creation, in both the craft sense and the spiritual/divine sense:

  50. The smiling lady in screenshot 13 looks constipated. So I guess that’s the role women serve?

  51. Love ya, Mogs.

    whizzbang, the easiest thing to do is think of how priesthood is actually used. A great read is wvs’s series on D&C 107 at baop.org, as well. To me, the most compelling and historically supportable perspective is that priesthood is a certain aspect of divine authority. Now, things get all sorts of screwy in Nauvoo, which complicates Mormon discourse, but this brief write up is an attempt to get at that.

  52. Of course they have- but if I had to have my family see ONE thing, this particular video would be at the bottom of the list.

  53. I strongly agree with both Stapley and Mogget, but the problem is that this video and a whole bunch of our current discourse in priesthood does, in fact, equate priesthood with the power of God.

  54. #47 Newly — I think #9 represents his mission. He’s wearing a nametag…

  55. Tracy, I agree with both of your comments completely.

    If my own kids and extended family or any of my non-member friends had to see only one thing, I cetainly wouldn’t recommend this.

  56. When I’m confronted with material that innocently and unintentionally reinforces unrealistic gender roles I always try and temper it with something a bit more accurate. Like Julie Beck’s “Mothers Who Know”.

  57. Someone said it: we see what we want to see.
    I saw a really cool stop-motion video.

  58. Steve Evans says:

    Why are they wearing modern name tags in the 70s?

  59. it's a series of tubes says:

    #49 FTW.

  60. I’m fairly certain this film was produced by the same people who brought us the bar scene in The Other Guys

  61. it's a series of tubes says:

    Also, #23 is spot on. Bullet time – it’s SO HOT RIGHT NOW! Provided, of course, “right now” is circa 1999.

    Directed by a man? Undoubtedly.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    Agreed, #49 is a BCotW contender.

  63. BedfordFalls says:

    I hesitate to weight in, but as someone with a little bit of insider information on this video, let me clarify a few things in this discussion:

    1. The actors portraying the priesthood boy as he ages are, in fact, latino and not caucasian.
    2. The original working title of the piece was “Priesthood Hero” and the voice over by President Monson is from his address in April 2011 entitled, “Priesthood Power.” The theme of the piece was supposed to be this line from the talk: “May we be worthy recipients of the divine power of the priesthood we bear. May it bless our lives and may we use it to bless the lives of others.”
    3. The video was never intended to portray the totality of Mormon existence in one video–none of the Mormon messages have that intent. Instead it was to show, as tastefully and elegantly as possible, the expected life experiences of a Mormon boy and how the priesthood he receives at age 12 affects and shapes those experiences throughout his life. Each scene is to show how the priesthood blesses the boy and how, within its construct, he blesses other people. Hence the scenes are passing the sacrament, home teaching (the lemonade scene), preparing for and attending the temple, serving a mission, giving a blessing, serving a neighbor, serving is wife.
    4. The “frozen moment” style employed by the director is gimmicky, to be sure. He was instructed by his superiors to try something “different” than the standard Mormon Messages. His perspective was that he was using the old “filmstrip” approach, except that the camera got to move, rather than simply a series of still shots.

    No video is intended to be the sole source of information about the Church. Not every talk has to be gender balanced, nor does every video have to provide an accurate portrayal of every point of view. The Mormon Message “The Purse” is exclusively about a young woman, with no mention of men at all, nor images of them on the screen.

    I believe that this video achieved the intent of its creation.

  64. Yes, let’s do talk about “The Purse”… but let me get some popcorn first.

  65. Steve Evans says:

    BedfordFalls, thanks for the comment.

  66. Mommie Dearest says:

    Bedford #64, you’re absolutely right; the video acheived the intent of its creation. The problem we’re discussing here is the unintended effects of this marketing tool.

  67. #60, #63, can you explain #49 to me, please? I hate to spoil a good line, but I don’t get it. (And if that makes it unintentionally funnier, so be it.)

  68. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, it’s a Pokemon reference. See, e.g., http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/its-super-effective#.ThMsNEfpiSo

  69. Turin Turambar says:

    I can definitely see the gender inequalities and creepiness in this video.

    However…perhaps a useful question to ask would be “who is this video for?”

    Let me begin by asking another question: How many of you have ever been a 12-year-old boy? It is truly a confusing time–you still want to be silly and immature, and not take anything seriously, but recognize major changes coming in your life. It is sometimes very difficult for boys of this age to really understand the importance and “responsibilities” connected with priesthood service. If the video is interpreted as a wake-up call to teenaged boys, perhaps it is a bit less offensive.

  70. Steve Evans says:

    TT, that’s a good question, but the images in the video don’t call out to teenagers. Teenagers don’t think about the rest of their lives this way. Teens couldn’t give a rip about themselves as old people. Rather, this video is a very powerful message to adult priesthood holders. If the intent was to make a video to reach teens, this does not do it.

  71. Ah, understood. Thanks, Steve.

    /s/ Old Lady

  72. I think that, if one is watching without the bias of looking for offense on one’s own pet topic, this video is a beautiful vignette which describes how the priesthood is for serving others.

    I like the slide-show like quality, because it shows possibility, it illustrates the future which is all tied up in gaining increased power and responsibility to serve in righteousness.

  73. Steve Evans says:

    “if one is watching without the bias of looking for offense on one’s own pet topic”

    Subtle! And, classy!

  74. Priesthood : giving birth :: The Power of God : The Purse.

  75. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, enough of your SAT questions!

  76. I can’t help myself Steve.

  77. Steve Evans says:

    If a pair of Elders driving a Corolla leave Kansas City at 4:00 p.m. driving an average of 75 mph, and a pair of Sisters leaves Oklahoma City at 5:00 p.m. driving their Corolla an average of 60 mph, where and when will they meet up for their splits?

  78. steve (#78)…that’s a trick question…Elders and Sisters don’t go on splits (legally).

    Unless you were going for the answer “They meet in the APs office at 9pm for discipline”.

  79. It’s a trick question. Elders and Sisters couldn’t work together on a split without accidentally fornicating and/or disrupting the space time continuum. Plus, since the question didn’t mention the sisters’ purses, I can only assume they turned around to go get them.

  80. Just for fun we watched it without the audio:

    A mother smiles as she watches her son get the priesthood. As the men lay their hands upon his head the boy’s life begins to flash before his closed eyes. (We’re not sure if it’s just this boy or if all men receive similar visions when receiving the priesthood.)

    You may think the woman taking the sacrament is sad, but she is not, look at her face when she pours lemonade it’s the same. So she is not sad, that’s just the way her face looks.

    See the Mormon woman wear a pantsuit that even Hillary Clinton would envy, see how she matches her suitcase to her suit.

    The boy is on a mission teaching an investigator whose live in girlfriend refuses to take the discussions with him. We know he lives with a woman because of the multiple floral arrangements, wallpaper and neatly arranged picture frames in the home. We know that he and the live in woman are not married because he is not wearing a wedding ring. The missionaries must not like his girlfriend because they then take him to a singles ward, where a young single Mormon gal smiles in his direction utilizing the technique flirt-to-convert. It works, because he is then baptized.

    While pretending to read a very thick book while standing, a young woman notices the newly returned missionary in the library. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and she tells him so, but not verbally, because that would be inappropriate, she uses her eyes. The couple is soon married and shortly there after give birth to a bouncing baby boy, ignoring rumors that they “had” to get married.

    The woman watches as her husband baptizes their son. She is smiling on the outside, but inside she is thinking where did we go wrong, why does he have no friends. As someone pointed out earlier usually baptisms are crawling with kids smashed against the glass. No children are watching his baptism, so clearly their son has no friends.

    Something is amiss in the couple’s relationship they have reached rocky times. Look how they sit closely to one another in church, but pay close attention to how the Mormon woman is NOT tickling/rubbing her husband’s back during sacrament meeting. They see the bishop and he suggests that they serve together to help their marriage. They participate in a service project of raking and elderly woman’s yard. She’s the one doing the raking and he’s just standing there chatting the old lady up, but she finds it endearing, divorce averted.

    The woman has borne many children; see their ridiculously large family in the picture over the fire place. As many Mother’s do sometimes she gets sick and tired. So he gives her a blessing.

    The couple grows old together. See them in church. See how she sings like she’s auditioning for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. See how he looks kind of annoyed about it. How he longs for the days when she didn’t sing so loudly and just sat quietly and tickled his back.

    Alas the effects of the blessing have worn off, she is sick again. He tries chicken noodle soup, but to no avail. She passes on and defies statistics that women outlive men. In the end he is a lonely old man, the children don’t visit, thank goodness for the photographs on the mantle.

    Back to the boy receiving the priesthood, he opens his eyes and thinks; I hope my patriarchal blessing gives me better news than this.

  81. Somewhere near Wichita, which is outside both of their mission boundaries, so they might as well keep driving home.

  82. They’re going to RAF’s house for the funeral of Taco the Goldfish.

  83. Steve Evans says:

    “So she is not sad, that’s just the way her face looks.”

    I’m going to say that to my wife tonight as a compliment and see how it goes.

  84. #64 BF — thanks for confirming the Latino casting. I thought so but couldn’t tell if the sacrament / lemonade lady was Mom or another sister in the ward (she didn’t look Latino to me but I’m not an expert).

    This comment was interesting: “Instead it was to show, as tastefully and elegantly as possible, the expected life experiences of a Mormon boy and how the priesthood he receives at age 12 affects and shapes those experiences throughout his life. Each scene is to show how the priesthood blesses the boy and how, within its construct, he blesses other people.” I think the first sentence is terrific and I think the video / slide show approaches that pretty well (though I would have preferred some different imagery). I’m a little more troubled by the idea of the priesthood’s blessing the boy. According to section 84, the blessings of the priesthood are in the ordinances thereof, not the holding thereof. The boy receives blessings of the priesthood the way any female would, by receiving ordinances from someone else.

  85. ASIZ: “(We’re not sure if it’s just this boy or if all men receive similar visions when receiving the priesthood.)”
    Yes, all men receive similar visions, however, mine included apocalyptic events at Y2K, followed by the final trilogy of Star Wars Episodes 7, 8, and 9 to usher in the millennium.

    Unfortunately, not all of the events in my vision have come to pass (probably due to my unrighteousness and not cleaning up enough old widows’ lawns.).

  86. Some Guy Named Mark says:

    “They meet in the APs office at 9pm for discipline” is the best euphemism I’ve ever read.

  87. #81 for BCoTNM (Best Comment of the New Millennium). Failing that I’ll go for comment of the week.

  88. I second that, John C.

  89. I was endowed 4 1/2 years ago and I was a little surprised at how much of the temple ceremony and initiatory was performed by women. The D and C says that celestial marriage is the highest order of the priesthood and I have thought on that many times. I feel like I am as much a priesthood holder as my husband, but my responsibilities are different. Being pregnant with my son, giving birth to him, nursing him, and taking care of him were and are truly special experiences. I don’t think they were superior or inferior to the times my husband has laid his hands on our son’s head to give him a blessing, just special in a different way.

  90. “I think that, if one is watching without the bias of looking for offense on one’s own pet topic, this video is a beautiful vignette which describes how the priesthood is for serving others.”

    Possibly, but I’d suggest that looking past or being unwilling to see the subtexts of messages is a brand of bias in its own right, and a particularly insidious because it can tend to promote apathy and benign acceptance of an unacceptable status quo. To use a more extreme example, whoever produced Song of the South probably didn’t set out to promote nasty racial stereotypes, and its intended audience may not have recognized them anyway. An against-the-grain reading is necessary to point that out, and it’s totally valid (and, of course, open for debate).

  91. Nicky,
    I am happy for you that you have those experiences, and find meaning in them analagous to the priesthood. But what do childless women do?

  92. I find the entire thing very strange. Not only the super weird “cinematography” but also the odd way that the voice over stuff doesn’t seem to fit with the images. And I really don’t understand the idea that the Priesthood = the authority to act as God’s servants. I guess my wife’s missionary service wasn’t service. Either that or she has the priesthood.

  93. mellifera says:

    It’s super-sweet that we get to have babies and nurse and do all this super-important stuff that guys can’t. (It’s hard to remember, but there were moments when I genuinely did enjoy nursing.)

    Those poor men, missin’ out on so much. Aren’t we lucky that God ordained men some kind of consolation prize in life, e.g., 99.9% guaranteed orgasms?

    Whoops, I meant the priesthood.

    **********

    I’m just sayin’, folks, in the priesthood=motherhood rhetoric talks it up like guys don’t get any my-body-does-cool-things-simply-by-virtue-of-being-male points. Really? Really? The only thing dudes get 99.9% guaranteed orgasms, and they need to be lent the power of God to MAKE UP FOR IT???!!

  94. Steve Evans says:

    Mellifera, it’s the 0.1% that haunts us.

  95. No guarantees here. I am the .1%!

  96. “Priesthood : giving birth :: The Power of God : The Purse.”

    Fifteen and a half years ago, my husband and I had the special privilege of kneeling across the altar from one another in the Salt Lake Temple and being sealed for time and all eternity by an sweet, terribly well-meaning, terminally opinionated old duffer. Among the many views he shared with us that morning was a heartfelt conviction that a man should never violate the sanctity of a woman’s purse–not even when she instructed him to do so. A purse was the only thing in this world his wife could call her own, and galdurnit, he respected that.

    I’m quite sure there’s an entire Lacanian master’s thesis in that little excursus, and even more sure I never want to find it.

  97. #81 might have replaced Thomas Parkin’s Korihor riff as BCofAT (Best Comment of All Time) – but I can’t bring myself to demote TP’s, so I’ll nominate them as co-BCofAT. I bow in awe and wonder.

  98. Motherhood is sweet, especially that part where it rotted my teeth out of my head and shot my bladder and turned me into a raving lunatic. I especially love how God’s great justice endows priesthood-holding men with the compensatory experience of lifelong incontinence and leaking nipples seared with as if with a hot iron so they can be as privileged and special as we are, poor things.

  99. ZD EVE FTW.

  100. I’m in love with this thread.

    Meanwhile, I would say if I saw only this video, I would think: “Wow – women can do anything they want in that church. So stealth! No up-front responsibilities. Woo-hoo!”

  101. Jane's Diction says:

    91. I’m with you, Casey – the subtext IS the problem – ignoring it is even more problematic.

  102. #93 – “Either that or she has the priesthood.”

    Yeah, there is that.

  103. In D&C 84:20-21, we read that the power of Godliness is manifest to mankind in the flesh only through the ordinances of the priesthood, and that without the ordinances of the priesthood, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto mankind in the flesh. There must be considerable importance to the priesthood’s authority and it ordinances.

    I appreciate BedfordFalls’s comment (no. 64). I see the video as a gift from its producers to its audience. Thanks to everyone who tries to do good.

  104. I take exception to the central message of the video. The priesthood is not the really powerful power of God. That really powerful power is The gift of the Holy Ghost which does everything, tongues, healing, prophecy, visions, etc., and women participate equally with men in that gift. That gift can perfect people, the priesthood, alone, not at all.

    The priesthood is an organizing function. In that capacity it has been ordained to keep the Church running. In this regard it is a very specialized power of God. It is there to keep the Church structured and in order so that people do not go off willy-nilly doing stuff. I mean, if priesthood were all that powerful then our bishop and stake president would be entirely different people. Church office in the priesthood does not necessarily make a person good or insightful. (It might help, but so might a broken back or a death in the family.)

    If it is the power by which the worlds were created then it is a management power by which resources are developed and effort directed. The real power is faith, which is a gift of the Spirit, given equally to all.

    The Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ tell each of us how to get to perfection. It does not take priesthood, per se, to receive this message. Here, according to my perception, women are generally ahead of men by about one sigma.

    This video is presumptuous in its depiction of the grandeur of the priesthood. The priesthood should be held with a great deal of humility because we, men, know we are not worthy of it or the worship which some give us for merely holding it. We should not be thinking it gives us some magical powers which are not available to women through the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It does not, except for the performance of ordinances which are part of the management function.

  105. I would agree, except sometimes the subtext is in our own minds and experiences. Not in the actual text.

    I can find offense in almost anything, if I look for it. Maybe if all conversations were kept to fluffy bunnies and the price of a loaf of bread, we’d all be able to live in peace and harmony.

    But I don’t want a church that is too afraid to celebrate the good for fear of giving offense. In this video which does an excellent job of portraying the SERVICE aspect of the priesthood, I see no reason to be offended. I wish that the priesthood as a vehicle of service was more heavily emphasized in day-to-day church.

    There is nothing offensive unless one is offended by the very existence of the priesthood, in which case nothing will satisfy. At that point, why indulge in another pointless round of back-patting at how much more enlightened we all are than the poor sheep at Church HQ? Anyone who reads the blogs for more than a week has already gotten that message.

    If my comment has no merit, if you’re actually wanting to hold a discussion and not a back-patting opportunity, than at least post an analogous discussion of what is GOOD about the video, about what kinds of progress in thought it demonstrates.

    And lack of subtlety and class was a deliberate choice, Steve. I try to honor the OP by following the tone it sets, and also tailor my comments to the audience. ;)

  106. Steve Evans says:

    SilverRain, that’s a deliberate choice you seem to make on a consistent basis. Good luck in your church where you don’t have to be nice to people.

  107. Mark Brown says:

    “There is nothing offensive unless one is offended by the very existence of the priesthood”

    Hmm. I wonder how you know that. Is it really impossible for you to see that somebody could respect the priesthood and still find this video problematic?

    I think think Casey in # 91 gets it about right, with the comparison to Song of the South. We can appreciate the effort and give full credit for good intentions, while still recognizing some very unfortunate and probably unintended aspects of this message.

  108. #14 Brad said: “It’s not a video about priesthood responsibilities per se. It’s a video about the power of God to bless our lives.”
    The flaw in this statement is that the Priesthood (using its responsibilities) IS the power of God to bless our lives.

  109. Steve, I apologize for the wording of my comment that was attacking. I viewed the video, expecting unpleasant things from it based on what was said here, and instead found a message that emphasized that the priesthood is about service and not presumptive authority. This is a message I’ve been hungering to hear on a local level. This critique you present seems to attack something that I can see as promoting that incredible good, and I reacted badly to it. I should not have worded my comment the way I did, attacking you in return.

    I hope you accept my apology for that.

  110. Steve Evans says:

    No problem SR. If I were really offended by your remarks, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  111. “The gift of the priesthood is priceless. It carries with it the authority to act as God’s servants. … There is nothing else to compare with it in all this world.”

    For some reason I had this lingering impression that motherhood was comparable. Glad to have that cleared up.

  112. The same thing has been said about motherhood too many times to try to list. Probably at least a half-dozen things have been called “the greatest gift of God”. Hyperbole is a common oratory technique. No deeper, totally literal meaning necessary.

  113. I think it’s interesting how two women going through the same thing (temple ceremony) can have the exact opposite emotional experiences. WRT Nicky’s temple experience, I’m glad she had such a positive experience! When I went through the temple, I was aghast at how little Eve figured into the endowment, amongst other things. After all, Eve doesn’t even have any lines after banishment from Eden. But that’s actually my point here… while some women will find this video offensive and insulting, others actually do find it affirming. I just wish the Church would do a better job at acknowledging the wide variety of viewpoints held by its women (and all its members).

    On a semi-related note, I once had a bishop’s wife bear fervent testimony to our singles’ ward R.S. that she longed for the (in her opinion) “inevitable” day when women would officiate in the priesthood equally with men and that she felt quite sure it would be in her daughter’s time or her granddaughter’s time. I’m guessing she’s pinned her hopes on something that isn’t quite as imminent as she had hoped. One thing I’ve learned in my lifetime of experiences in the Church is that the wheels of progress move slowly. Hence, nothing in this video really surprises me, and I don’t expect a more modern Church video to be noticeably more progressive, aside from wearing more fashionable clothing.

  114. If Priesthood is equal to Motherhood, what is Fatherhood equal to? Just wonderin’. Oh, and I think the photography is really amazing.
    I’ve looked over the pictures several times and watched the video, trying to decide how I would view the woman’s roll. I can’t seem to take myself out of it. Every woman is me, and the young men are my sons. My sons decided not to stay members of the church, even after getting the priesthood. As much as I question the way things are in the church, I sure have had a hard time adjusting to them leaving. We had regular FHE, attended church, their father was often in the bishopric, and almost always in Scouting, or YM pres. I taught RS, Primary, Cub Scouts…we did family prayer…I have some explaining to do to my daughter. She is having doubts. I think the women in the video lack power, but that might just be my own feelings coming through. We are dependent on the men. Yes, we are dependent on the Priesthood for the things we need to survive this life and the next, and we are at the mercy of the men.

  115. If this video were the ONLY thing I knew about the Mormons I might think they are a little peculiar. If this video AND these comments were the only thing I knew about the Mormons, I would run like the wind.

  116. Armstrong says:

    I just noticed this, the producers of this gave special attention to the moles on the young guys’ head to match the liver spots when the guy gets old. (How’s that for finding hidden meaning :-))

  117. Fred Donaldson says:

    I watched the video. It was obviously aimed at young men and priesthood holders. I can envision a companion video depicting the life of a faithful Mormon woman. It would be amazing!

  118. Mommie Dearest says:

    I can envision one too, Fred. The point is that we have never seen and are not going to see its companion in the future. Besides, another marketing tool is not what’s needed.
    I don’t think anybody here has voiced any objections to the video’s intent to build up the importance of priesthood service in the minds of young men, or the importance of the priesthood itself. What we’re exploring instead is the unplanned fallout from the way the video presents its themes.

  119. My point is that the question is flawed. If you were not a member of the church and only heard the hymn “As Sisters in Zion” what would you think of the role of men in the church?

  120. Mommie Dearest says:

    Looks like I interpret the question different from the way you interpret it.

  121. It would depend on whether they hymn was sung by women clearly in charge of the whole situation, surrounded by adoring men gazing at them in passive wonder…

  122. If you saw a man who claimed he was prophesied to be the King of Israel and God himself, hung on a cross by the soldiers who had invaded and conquered Israel what would you think?
    – you don’t mean that this is a cheap rhetorical trick aimed at taking comples and sensitive issues out of context for sport in aan overall attempt tto win some ideological argument?

  123. I have a hard time understanding comments like #120… It’s like people aren’t aware that there is a culture of men having all the power and women feeling marginalized, and that “how would you feel if the reverse happened” therefore doesn’t actually hold much water. Like this comment that one of our lovely ‘nacle trolls made on a post I was reading the other day:

    “Think about the reverse for just a second. Mark Zuckerberg gives a speech on how to increase the number of men in top positions in business and government. Think anyone would mind?”

    Can a rational person really think that women saying we need more women in top positions is the same as men saying we need more men in them? When we have a culture of women in charge and men being oppressed by them, then these arguments will make sense. At the moment they’re somewhere between meaningless and just plain absurd.

  124. Steve Evans says:

    #123 for WCotW.

  125. It makes lityle sense to expect or hope that a video depicting a life of priesthood service could or would illustrate the role of women in the church. I do disagree that women are oppressed in the faith. That may make me a minority on this thread. Difference does not imply a hierarchy.

  126. “Think about the reverse for just a second. Mark Zuckerberg gives a speech on how to increase the number of men in top positions in business and government. Think anyone would mind?”

    Wow, Miri! It does make sense, though, that he would ask people to think about it for “just a second,” because that is evidently the most time he has ever invested in thinking about any topic. (just judging by the quality of his thought)

  127. Fred, the fact is, the way the church is run is much more completely and accurately represented by this video depicting men almost exclusively, than it is by a song or video depicting almost exclusively women. Take a sec and scroll down this page from lds.org and take it all in, visually. The church may not “oppress” women, but they certainly don’t have equal institutional power. They may not be under the boot, but they are off in the sidelines (smiling). Just like in the video.

  128. @Cynthia – I don’t disagree to an extent. Men clearly have a more visible role in church affairs. Am I kidding myself to believe that women have significant influence in church affairs indirectly and through the auxiliaries?

  129. I don’t know about kidding yourself, Fred, but at least… Optimistic. The fact that any influence IS indirectly and through auxiliaries (a name that means subsidiary, supplementary) kind of makes the point.

    For the record, “oppress” is slightly too strong a word for the church; I meant that in reference to larger world culture. Hierarchy, though? Absolutely. Very much so.

    Cynthia, I wish that were the most ridiculous thing he’d said. The conversation was on Both Sides Now.

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