I knew it had been a long time since I’d written anything for BCC. Turns out, it’s been five months since my last post. Hard to believe, since it used to be that I couldn’t slack off for five weeks without Steve Evans threatening to fire me. The aforementioned post was a response to the announcement that the church was doing away with the annual General Young Women and Relief Society broadcasts and replacing them with a semi-annual General Women’s Broadcast for females eight years and older. Not coincidentally, the topic that has prompted me to write this thing I’m writing right now is the maiden voyage of that very broadcast, which occurred just a few short hours ago. (Or maybe several regular-length hours ago, depending on what time you read this.)
Historically, our stake has not shown the YW and RS broadcasts live. They would show them when they had finished preparing all the food that would be served afterward. I guess. At their leisure, anyway. Since this was a historic broadcast, though—first of its kind and all—they decided to break with history and show it live. And then serve dessert afterward, like usual. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend our stake’s ceremonial celebration of the historic live broadcast and traditional dessert serving. I’ve come down with a terrible head cold, and at 6:00 p.m. MST, I was in no shape to stand shoulder to shoulder (or hip-to-shoulder) with my sister church members in the stake center. Instead I sat on our benighted family room sofa, folding laundry in front of the TV, which had been hooked up to the internet, which was also showing the broadcast live. (But not providing dessert afterward. Come to think of it, I still haven’t had dessert. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
I have two daughters, a fifteen-year-old and an eight-year-old. At her father’s mere mention of something church-related, my fifteen-year-old proceeded to have an existential crisis. Fortunately, she agreed to have it in her room for the duration of the broadcast. My eight-year-old, who is not prone to existential crises, decided to give this woman-broadcast thing a shot and sat next to me on the sofa for about five minutes before offering to help me with the laundry. Once the towels were all folded, she decided to go outside and play. Yeah, I was just as surprised as you. So I watched most of the broadcast alone, trying to pay attention to the speakers while sorting my loved ones’ clean clothes. I was pretty sure my pioneer foremothers would laugh at my idea of multi-tasking.
The opening prayer was given by a young woman (a teenager, not an eight-year-old). I want to say she was a freshly-minted Beehive, but even if I’m getting that wrong, so what? I don’t think I ever watched a Young Women broadcast, so perhaps it was standard practice to have young women give prayers at those meetings, but in any case, I thought it was a nice touch, having a young woman offer the opening prayer for this brand-new women’s meeting. Kind of symbolic, you know? (Though it might have been cute to have an eight-year-old do it.)
A choir made up of women of all ages (“8 to 80”!) sang “Daughters in His Kingdom.” There was a young woman cellist and maybe a young woman flutist or something, or I might be misremembering it. Anyway, the choir was very colorful and sounded perfectly competent. My husband (our ward choir director) talked about getting a suit just like the sister directing the choir was wearing, but then I made him leave the room.
The first speaker was Rosemary Wixom, General Primary President. She geared her remarks toward the very young women (i.e. the Primary children). At least it seemed this way at the time. The towel-folding was getting pretty intense and may have distracted me. Incidentally, Sister Wixom visited our ward last year while I was still serving in Primary and spoke to the children during Sharing Time. I can testify that she is exactly the same in person as she is on television. Anyway, she talked about making covenants at baptism and how baptism is the first step toward making covenants in the temple. She talked about people staying true to their covenants despite adversity in their lives.
Then there was a video presentation of women of all ages singing “I Am a Child of God” in different languages. We (the congregation) were invited to join in for the last round, but I used the opportunity to put a load of whites into the washer. (Which reminds me, I should probably put those in the dryer before tomorrow.)
Bonnie Oscarson, General Young Women President, was the next speaker. (Sister Oscarson also conducted the meeting.) She gave a great talk about women supporting each other and being united in Christ. She spoke about what we, in our differences, have to offer one another—particularly what younger women have to offer older women and vice versa. I loved the anecdote about the 80-year-old sister who was called as a Mia Maid advisor, but I’m kind of a sucker for that crap. She talked about how we need each other and how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to one another or judge each other harshly (as we unfortunately tend to do). It was such a great talk, I wished my fifteen-year-old were listening. (Hopefully I can talk her into watching it later.)
Then there was another video presentation about…women…doing stuff. I don’t really remember what the point was supposed to be, but it started off showing a young girl getting baptized, and then it showed young women getting temple recommends and doing family history and going to the temple and then getting more temple recommends to go get married and then getting married and then having kids and struggling with flailing toddlers in sacrament meeting until some older lady comes and sits with them, and somewhere in the midst of that there looked to be a woman tucking her daughter in for the night before going to work (I’m assuming it was work, but maybe it was a Relief Society meeting or a book club, or maybe I imagined the whole four seconds), and then finally this one lady got old and buried her husband and there was the rest of her 128-member family hanging out in the cemetery and you got the impression that she was well pleased with her life. I could be reading into it. (I admit I got a little misty when she laid the flowers on his grave, but then I thought, “Snap out of it, Rebecca, you only knew him for ten seconds.”) So I guess the overarching theme was women getting through life by keeping their covenants. Set to music.
Linda Burton, General Relief Society President, was the third speaker. She talked about “walking down the covenant path” and becoming perfect, noting that the word “perfect” in the scriptural reference she used was translated from a Greek word meaning “complete.” So being a disciple of Christ makes you perfect in the sense of being complete. No need to freak out about how you’ll never be “perfect” in the sense that, well, no one can be (no one mortal, anyway). Anyway, you can’t do the things you need to in life without help—from the atonement of Jesus Christ, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and the service of others. (On a personal note, I will add that I really like Sister Burton’s glasses.)
The choir then sang “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.”
The concluding speaker was Henry Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency (in case you’d forgotten what his job was). He also spoke about making and keeping covenants and bearing one another’s burdens. I always enjoy Hal. He seems like a good sort.
Then there was a closing song and a closing prayer and everyone walked out 10 minutes early—woo-hoo! And just as well because as the camera panned the audience (and the choir, for that matter), I saw some pretty tired-looking eight-year-olds.
So, my verdict: Not a bad start for a new tradition, though I’m still not convinced of the wisdom of including eight-year-olds (or nine-, ten-, and eleven-year-olds, for that matter). I know that some women were afraid of the content being dumbed down or watered down or whatever in order to be more appropriate for children, but a) it was probably not possible to have content any more bland than what we’ve been getting in Relief Society broadcasts for the last ten or fifteen years, and b) clearly, no one was concerned about maintaining the interest of eight-year-olds beyond the first ten minutes of the meeting. My own feeling is that not having to listen to a ninety-minute infomercial for Relief Society makes all the changes worth it.
So, sistren and those brethren who were man enough to watch an extra ninety minutes of church broadcast you weren’t invited to, what were your impressions of the first semi-annual Ladycast? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Why or why not? The time is now yours.