The First Semi-annual Ladycast

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.

Comments

  1. My wife watched it at home, She appreciated the messages. She also liked the I Am a Child of God video piece. I watched it with her. I’ll admit liking the sisters’s talks better than Bro. Eyring’s, but maybe that’s because I was sleepy [we're a couple of time zones east of Utah]. But my overall impression is that these are good people trying to do a good work, and I appreciate them and their efforts.

  2. I was not really excited about attending. I have usually found the general women’s broadcasts bland and vague and not particularly inspiring (and frequently, if there was a good talk, it was made by the one brother who spoke, and that irritated me a little. Ladies, step up your game! It’s OUR broadcast!). But I have say that seeing all those women and girls together, singing and talking, really touched me in a way that I wasn’t expecting. The videos and music were sweet and sentimental (but they can’t do the exact same thing every time, so it will be harder next time) and choked me up a little as well. Although I don’t think any of the talks hit a home run, I have to say that I walked out feeling inspired to work better at being a disciple of Christ and feeling that the women in charge were strong, committed leaders. That’s a pretty good start to a new tradition.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for this report. My favorite part was “but then I made him leave the room.”

  4. I was driving home before the meeting, and turned down North Temple, completely forgetting about the meeting. But I could not believe my eyes, and was almost moved to tears. I saw thousands of women and girls going to the meeting. The standby line was several hundred deep. It was a beautiful sight! I didn’t see any protesters. I thought about the power and Spirit and potential of these women. It was a beautiful sight. We really need to better utilize everyone in the Church. I hope that’s not a thread jack, or came off paternalistic or anything. My mom and sisters really liked the meeting

  5. I watched at home with my two kids as well. I really loved President Oscarson’s talk and the video presentation of everyone singing “I am a Child of God,” and thought Pres. Burton’s talk was decent. The kids loved all the music. I couldn’t really get into the second video at all, and have to admit that Elder Eyrings talk really rubbed me the wrong way. As a woman who very much does not have nurturing come naturally to her and has to work really hard at even feeling nurturing, let alone acting so (who married a man who is naturally very nurturing), I struggle very badly with talks that tell me that nurturing feelings are my divine inheritance from God. Did He just not care enough about me to give me my inheritance? Did He accidentally give my divine inheritance to my husband?

  6. I watched last night from the comfort of my laptop. I really enjoyed it, though the sisterhood aspects were largely lost on me. I felt that Sister Oscarson and Sister Burton’s talks were excellent. I got misty-eyed at the video. I have serious doubts that the Priesthood session will be half as good.

  7. melodynew says:

    Thanks for this post, Rebecca J. I left clothes in the dryer while I went to the church for the meeting. And, for the record, I skipped dessert and went to Molly’s Restaurant instead. They were having a fund raiser for a good cause. . . Anyway, I loved the spirit of the meeting. However, there was a whole lot of child of god and daughterly stuff going on. Likely due to the youngsters in attendance. I look forward to a day when “daughters of a Heavenly Father” becomes “daughters of Heavenly Parents or “of Heavenly Mother.” The constant reference to women as daughters in relation to a parent/God – who is male – reinforces a sort of infantilization of women.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love being a child of God – of heavenly parents. And I love my Heavenly Father. Even more, I love being a child of Christ, who is the father of my New Heart. However, it seems to me that when a young (or old) man hears “sons of Heavenly Father” or “son of God” he immediately recognizes “sameness” with a same-gendered, all-powerful, all-loving deity. I want that for girls and women in the church.

    I felt uncomfortable with Presiden Eyring’s “sister leaders” comment. Just say “leaders.” Period. Please.

    So, along with beautiful feelings from the spoken messages and the inspired music of the meeting, I had those thoughts. . . Truthfully, I can’t help but think that women and men alike will breathe a sigh of relief when we finally say – aloud, in church – “We are sons and daughters of a Heavenly Mother who loves us.” For me, as a woman, this was the most noteable absence at the meeting – acknowledgement of the God who looks like us. Otherwise, I loved it.

  8. Jack of Hearts says:

    “I have serious doubts that the Priesthood session will be half as good.”

    Here, here.

  9. I thought the language about being daughters of God was really important. It linked back to the idea that because we are daughters of the same God, we are also sisters. I loved the talk about this sisterhood we belong to. And also men weren’t referred to as the priesthood, or men, but our brothers. The word was used twice in phrases like “sisters and brothers”. That’s very powerful to me.

    Pres. Oscarson’s talk was inspiring. She quoted several women and used stories about women from the scriptures as her example. Awesome!

    I loved watching the broadcast with my 8 year old. I felt it was a great experience for her seeing a 12 year old give a prayer over the pulpit. She was embarrassed that I cried so much, but I told her it was her heritage as we come through a long line of criers. She also often comes with me visiting teaching so she used to old lady talk.

  10. Oregon Mum says:

    I really enjoyed the meeting and felt the Spirit. My only regret is that I waited and waited for even a brief mention of Heavenly Mother, or at least Heavenly Parents. I thought this meeting would be a great opportunity for such a mention.

  11. I find it disappointing that so little mention is made of the Savior. Covenant-making and -keeping seemed to be a theme of the meeting, but the reasons we keep covenants, especially as they relate to our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, were not explained–other than going to the temple. I would like the focus of these meetings to more strongly emphasize God’s love for us and Jesus’ atonement. Until we start doing that, our meetings lack spiritual power that they could otherwise have.

  12. First, I must admit that I was a little surprised that BCC didn’t host an open blog during the broadcast. Full disclosure requires that I let you know any commentary I had made during the open blog would have had nothing to do with the broadcast, and more to do with the NCAA Men’s Basketball game that me and the boys were watching while Mom and daughter were gone to the broadcast. I did make one snide comment about switching over to see what it was the women were talking about, but never followed through.

    However, I was curious. So when I awoke this morning at about 4 AM, I broke out the laptop and pulled it up. I have to say it was about what I expected. I was surprised that only the presidents of each organization spoke, and then President Monson designated President Eyring to represent the First Presidency. I suppose that in the future, counselors from the organizations will be mixed in. I’ll be curious to see if the ever invite members of the Quorum of the Twelve to speak, but I doubt they will. Was it just me, or did there seem to be a fair amount of empty sets scattered throughout the conference center?

    We did briefly discuss it at dinner(since we live in Alaska and they were home by 5:30) with my wife, daughter, and her friend who was with us, but with 6 boys at the table, the discussion quickly turned to other topics after each of the women made a brief comment on the meeting.

    I was a little surprised by Sister Wixsom breaking everyone out in song in the middle of her talk. Can you imagine what would happen if someone did that in a Sacrament meeting?

    Overall, a good meeting. The messages were clear, and on such a level that the primary kids attending could get something out of it as well as everyone else.

  13. RJ, it would be great if you wrangle the job of doing all the conference reports. I imagine readership would increase dramatically.

  14. Oh how I loved this meeting/laundry report, Rebecca. Your writing consistently inspires and entertains.

  15. Laurel Lee's Blog says:

    I ushered as a Guest Services Missionary at the conference center for the meeting. It was packed. About 1500 women could not get in, and went to the Tabernacle. As every conference (general or specific), a section is provided for special visitors and family of church leadership (just so you know why you might have seen a few empty seats near the front on TV). The tickets have individual seats assigned, so they remain available only for the ticket holder, as a courtesy. It was a delight to see generations of women attending together as family and friends. I took countless photos for these groups for this historic occation for them. Some little 8 year olds wore their white baptismal dresses – so cute! The spirit was so evident, I cried through much of the meeting!

  16. I was mostly pleasantly surprised by the meeting: 1) it was bland sure but not dumbed down, 2) the focus was on covenants rather than motherhood, 3) the choir was really fantastic, and best of all, 4) it ended early which also happened at last General Conference making me think that church leaders are sending a signal that shorter meeting times are perfectly fine so quit trying to drag them out.

    My 11 year old spent the entire time playing Pokemon with her brother, but she was half listening because after the video she rolled her eyes and said “Was that supposed to be touching?” I confess I too wondered what the purpose of the video was. These types of things often strike me as emotionally manipulative. But I concluded it was showcasing the diversity of women: ages and races, although only showing them making covenants, not doing everyday things like working. In the talks there was also a lot of effort to speak about the experiences of a variety of women: young, old, single, married.

    I have begun to find the constant references to daughters of a Heavenly Father with no mention of parents (plural) or a mother to be grating. Last General Conference there was a big increase in saying Heavenly Parents which was a rhetorical improvement. Some leaders give the impression that God and Jesus are somehow our spiritual parents despite both being male. To my female ears that sounds very strange.

  17. Priesthood meeting might be half as good, but it will surely be almost twice as long. The sisters spoke to a broader audience and crammed all of that into an hour and fifteen minutes. Why can’t we be as efficient?

  18. My daughters, 15 & 18, and I kicked it off with Panda Express and then blankets on our comfy couch for viewing. The oldest made brownies during the meeting for dessert afterwards. (I think it’s in the church handbook as a requirement for dessert following a broadcast, right? =) I felt like the video montages were meant to keep the 8 yr olds attention spans. I was grateful because it worked wonders for my girls as well. In fact, once Pres Eyring was about 10 mins into his talk, I was feeling like we all needed another montage. I didn’t care if they recycled one from earlier. I think Elder Eyring is a pretty good egg myself but I felt like he was the only one who forgot his young audience. Sis Oscarson was my favorite speaker.

    I must admit the opening song moved me to tears. My daughter looked it up on her ipad and was singing along to the words by the last verse. She has played it and sung it a few times since. Really pretty and moving.

    I, too, was struck by how no one knows what to call the women of the church. The opening prayer giver said something like “General Sister Auxiliary Leaders”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Pres Eyring called them “Sister Leaders” which is what they call my niece and other female missionaries who are given leadership roles on their mission. I know in the temple they are called “Sister Followers”. Sounds like we are playing a big game of sorts. I would suggest calling us Queens but that has a different connotation nowadays…Suggestions?

    I must admit the feeling of the broadcast overall was really incredible. The world would call it gurrrrrrrrrrrrl power but I think it was the power of righteous women. We really could change the world!

  19. I loved the meeting; instead of laundry I worked on looking up the sign language for Beautiful Savior (which I taught in primary today) during the meeting. And I tweeted/twatted/twittered (?). Sis. Oscarson was my favorite.

  20. the second montage…for me it was great. I was preparing a sharing time on reverence and thinking about what I call “active reverence”. I think loving service is reverent. I like the emphasis on not just making covenants, but keeping them.

    I really liked the “child of God” video.

    My favorite quote was “As individuals we are strong, together with God we are unstoppable!”

    I found the short talks and appreciated the song in the middle of the talk…I have 8yo twins and we were in the stake center, so one of them needed every opportunity to wiggle or interact or in general, not say “I’m bored”.

    I really liked all of the quotes from Sister Hinckley, one to emma, sister holland and other women.

  21. I really, really like Pres Oscarson. Her talk was outstanding.

    I don’t think I would even have noticed the complete omission of Heavenly Mother if Pres Eyring’s talk had not been begging for a mention- it really looked like that was exactly where he was going and then… Not even ‘Heavenly Parents’. It was the elephant sized Goddess in the room.

    Other than that, I thought the evening was outstanding.

  22. For all those searching for a heavenly mother, there is good advice in John chapter 14, which I recommend. It has been helpful to me, and reminds me where my focus should be. Speaking only for myself, I’m content with putting all of my faith in Jesus Christ in this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  23. Loved this post! I also enjoyed the broadcast. Confession: I don’t watch a lot of the Women’s Broadcasts so I can’t compare it to past ones, but felt it was the right length and interspersed with enough multimedia to keep my attention. Not too much of the “talking through the megawatt smile” stuff that I expect from the Sisters’ talks. Also not too heavy on motherhood/raising children, which I’m sensitive to as we struggle with infertility. Pretty fluffy, though. The brief mention of the girl with only one hand (but she reaches out with her one hand in service!) kind of annoyed me as I’m probably heartless. As another commenter put it I find this emotionally manipulative. However, overall I was glad I watched it.

  24. My mom’s stake in Arizona (I was gate crashing) had a fantastic dinner before hand. Chicken salad sandwiches for the adults and pb&j for the little girls and those of us not so fond of chicken salad :). Then they provided little activity books for the activity day girls to do something during the broadcast and learn from the speakers. I don’t know if they’ll be able to sustain that pace for a semiannual meeting but they sure got it right on the starting block. Major props to the activity day leader that got that done. The meeting had a few moments (sister leaders – really, is that like lady athletes??) but Sister Oscarson smoothed it all over and I will be going back to that talk a lot. It was a bit slick wasn’t it? Kind of an interesting model for the meeting of the future – short, lots of music and video, shorter length talks

  25. rameumptom says:

    I was assigned by the stake president to preside over the mtg at a branch in our stake. Including me and a baby, there were 18 of us. One 10 year old Primary girl, 3 Young Women and RS sisters of varying ages. We began an hour early with Pizza Hut pizza and root beer floats. Definitely better bonding material than the chili and ice cream I will get next Saturday night at the priesthood session. It was nice to sit in the background and let my wife be the main figure chatting with everyone. I thought the actual session was very good, though I did not really get the point of the second video. Filler, maybe? I think there will be a period of time for us to figure out what works best for this combined women’s session. I’m sure they will make improvements, and next one in 6 months will be even better.

  26. I have not watched the broadcast, but I wanted to say that the picture you put with this post was one of the best things ever!

  27. Didn’t watch because it was not my meeting, but I might sneak a peek at it this week. Sounds like a lot enjoyed it. While that appears to be true, much more snarky comments on Facebook. I guess those with a chip on their shoulder still have it.

    One of the interesting things is that on Facebook, most of the women are referring to Sister Oscarsson as “President,” which is OK I guess, but not how they refer to themselves. When I’ve had those types of leadership positions, I just wanted to be called by “Brother” or by my first name. I never really got the severance for titles the Church seems to have )let alone initials). I always that that Brother Joseph or Brother Brigham was nice.

  28. should be “reverence”

  29. small s steve says:

    My wife was bothered by some of the things presented, only because she is experiencing problems in her family involving members not fully living up to their covenants. So for her, even though it was spiritual she felt personally disappointed and fearful for those closest to her. One of those examples of dissonance caused by the contrast of reality versus the ideal.

    On another note, I look forward to the day when we don’t have separate meetings for men and women. Notwithstanding the male-only priesthood, the principles of the gospel apply equally to all. I suspect if Christ came down to instruct us personally, He wouldn’t separate us by sex.

  30. small s steve – I have noticed an increased emphasis–you could also call it a narrowed focus–on the temple in the last couple years. The last RS broadcast was all about keeping covenants too. What I liked about this meeting was the emphasis (and focus) on bearing one another’s burdens as we strive to keep our covenants. (Is “strive” a very Mormon word? It sounds more purposeful than “try,” I guess.) But there was also a lot of “everything we do is looking toward the temple,” and I did think, on reflection, that it seems odd to have this temple-centered rhetoric with little or no explanation of why we are (or ought to be) temple centered–as if the temple and the covenants made there are self-explanatory, which they certainly aren’t. Most non-endowed people have only the vaguest idea of what the temple covenants are or their significance. It reminds me of being in Young Women and always hearing about temple marriage as though it were the finish line and not the beginning of the rest of your life. For people in your wife’s situation, reminders of the temple and its significance can be painful. That aspect did not occur to me until I read your comment.

  31. Jeff Spector – I think there will always be snark-worthy material in any LDS presentation. I like to think of myself as a mercy-tempered snarker. At least today I do.

    As for titles, I myself initially dithered between the feministly correct “President” Oscarson/Wixom/Burton and the traditional (and friendlier-sounding) “Sister.” In the end I went with “Sister,” because that is how I prefer to think of them. As you can see, I’m already on a first-name basis with the apostles.

  32. small s steve says:

    Rebecca J,

    You bring up a good point in that the message can be different depending on whether you’re an insider or an outsider, so to speak. It would probably do us good as a church to be a little more explicit about covenants without being sacrilegious.

  33. Thanks for the overview, Rebecca.

  34. I was so impressed with Sister Oscarson. I particularly appreciated the theme of breaking down barriers and loving each other, despite differences. I really enjoyed the broadcast. I admit to enjoying the entertaining bits (like a game of name-that-tune, evolving into a sing-along, all happening during someobody’s talk (are we actually allowed to do that?)), which I might have been tempted to describe as silly had I not felt such a wonderful spirit at the meeting.

    One thing that was jarring to me was that every single male priesthood leader on the stand (not just the first presidency but the presiding bishop and several others) was recognized by name and position, while members of the presidencies of the women’s organization on the stand were not named, unless they got up to give a talk. There probably is a more charitable interpretation of this, but to me it felt like a pointed reminder that the priesthood leaders are the ones who are really in charge, not the auxiliary presidencies.

    The other thing that I wondered about was the repeated use of the phrase “covenant path.” I am not sure what is meant by progressing along the covenant path, but the visual that immediately pops into my mind is a ladder or a staircase where each step is a different ordinance (e.g. baptism, endowment), as if our progression in the gospel is measured by the covenants that we make. This is a picture that has been used a lot in my ward.)

    As someone who is not endowed, I am uncomfortable when leaders use temple covenants in particular as benchmarks of spiritual maturity. While I don’t doubt that such a framework has some validity, I think that it presents an incomplete picture of progression. It puts a kind-of-unorthodox person like me, who doesn’t yet feel ready to go to the temple, clearly behind the 19-year-olds in my ward who have been endowed, and waaaay behind the young couples who have been sealed in the temple. It makes me feel like my path, that includes lots of struggles and doubts, isn’t valid. I feel that my efforts to serve with charity, deepen my understanding of the gospel, and follow the teachings of the Savior will never be enough to make me a first class member of the Church.

  35. Jenny in nc says:

    When we first heard about this, the other primary, rs and yw presidents in our building tried to turn the event into an extravaganza (dinner, service project, decorations, invitations) I flatly refused to participate because everybody knows that the women end up doing all the work, not the teenagers or children. As rs pres, Im very protective of the women’s time. So I was the bad guy for squashing all the fun. So I have a bad attitude about the whole thing and haven’t watched it yet. I’ll probs watch it later when I’ve gotten over my grumpiness.

  36. amyspeaks says:

    I don’t post my thoughts/opinions/writing online regularly. But, with the recent deluge of chatter surrounding General Conference flooding out of the blogs and into everyday conversations and life, I can no longer live in my quiet Valley of Silence. (How’s that for dramatic?) As I work on my personal, and rather peaceful “manifesto” I see the pattern and purpose in being a Covenant People. I love the Old Testament so much that I’m going to try really hard not to teach an entire Gospel Doctrine lesson right now! The Old Testament is all about teaching the hows, whens, whys of sacrifice and covenants. But, most importantly The Old Testament tries to teach how to recognize the Messiah when He comes, and what form Deliverance and Redemption will come in. I believe that making and keeping covenants are part of a process I need to better understand the nature of my Heavenly Parents. Especially, during times in my life when the storms around me rage, and all I can do is hope that God’s promises are sure.

    The words “covenant” and “testament” are interchangeable. The Law of Sacrifice was replaced after Christ came and offered Himself to satisfy the demands of both Mercy and Justice. We take upon us the name of Christ and accept that offering when we are Baptized. We keep these covenants “by [our own] sacrifice” with a “broken heart and contrite spirit” as we “offer our whole souls as an offering unto God” ( D&C 97:8, 3 Nephi 9:19, Omni 1:26) and most importantly as we keep the First and Second Great Commandments (the Sacrament Prayer is a great reminder of this). To love God, and love one another. When Jesus replaces some aspects of the Law of Moses in the Sermon on the Mount he also explains, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matt 5: 23-24) The emphasis is not on the covenant or the end product. For me, the Hope in the Gospel and the personal power comes through the process in striving to keep covenants that changes me for the better. In addition, the word “consecrate” can have a plural meaning. So when we are a covenant people and consecrate our lives and sanctify our efforts we are unified.

    In response to one other comment about our families and covenants. I’ve never liked the idea that I’m here on earth to “prove” anything or be “tested.” It goes against my Divine Nature or the non-conformist I like to think I have inside me. I am very close to my family, siblings who are not “active” in their covenants or the Church. The reason I have for coming to the earth is not to be tested or to prove anything. I am here to be with my family, now and forever. Whatever it takes. I’m not sure how that’s possible. I have no easy answers. I will never turn my back on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I will never turn my back on my family. My journey in this life is to reconcile the two. I have a testimony that the sealing power and the covenants we make on earth have power to bind beyond our abilities to comprehend. One of the hardest things we experience in this life is watching those we love exercise their agency unwisely. Or, to hurt others. Perhaps I am naive in my interpretation of the Gospel and the Doctrine. No doubts on my testimony, just not sure I’ve found my voice.

  37. small s steve says:

    I have to comment about one niggling detail regarding covenants. A lot of gospel conversations seem to imply that we, God’s children, make covenants. I don’t think we make covenants, I think God makes covenants with us. Our obligation is to try to keep His covenants. It puts ownership of the covenant where it belongs, with God. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10). We can certainly swear oaths to live up to covenants, but a covenant is God’s promise to us, not the other way around. Our promise to Him is only actualized when we live up to the conditions of His covenant. Whether it’s the Abrahamic Covenant (Old Testament/Covenant), Atonement of Christ (New Testament/Covenant), Priesthood covenant, temple covenant, etc., it’s always His promise to us if we meet the conditions.

  38. it's a series of tubes says:

    The reason I have for coming to the earth is not to be tested or to prove anything.

    Kinda tough to reconcile this position with Abraham 3:25 (and D&C 98:14 and 124:55), no?

  39. Greg D. says:

    I believe the purpose of life is to learn how to be a more masterful creator of quality–just as our Heavenly Mother and Father are divine creators of all that is good.

  40. Steve, your comment got me thinking about my own post from last year on that question.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2013/07/09/covenants-is-the-lord-bound/

  41. amyspeaks says:

    Woh. This could become way to much of a bloggy for me. (Blog/hobby). Since I homeschool and have a whole gang of kids (ie four) I would get way to involved/excited about these discussions. The covenant one is fascinating! My understanding (I’m just sort of throwing this out because I don’t have time to write this out concisely before dinner) is that we made covenants “before the foundation of the world” (I think that’s from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith) which are “renewed and confirmed” (D&C 84 I think?) in this life. I read about it in Eternal Man by Truman Madsen a long time ago. But I will definitely rethink my overuse of the word “make” in reference to covenants. To renew, remember, accept, or confirm covenants could be better words? Awesome.

    I guess in a round about way, being in a family will “test” me and stretch my patience and “prove” my love in about every possible way. Perhaps I would just rather say that I am here to improve rather than prove myself. Practice makes progress. Again, I’m not saying “this is my voice unto all…” or “thus sayeth the Lord.” This is just my own understanding of scripture. Hopefully we all embrace the Atonement in deeply personal ways and find individual perspective and faith.

    And I love the idea of the purpose in life to be “masterful creators.” The Priesthood is the power to organize, and the power by which the worlds were formed. I seem to struggle with just mastering the art of organizing my own sphere of influence at times. My husband and I work hard to consecrate our time and talents and organize our efforts so that our home is one on learning, fasting, prayer so that we can better build the Kingdom. But, most days it’s just a crazy mess of void and chaos waiting to find form.

    Thanks all it’s been swell.

  42. small s steve says:

    john f.,

    Thank you for the link; I knew there had to be a more comprehensive discussion about covenants somewhere. A lot to review and think about, especially the thoughts on covenant-making and binding.

  43. That’s a nice “old” post John. I realize I was off at a family reunion at that time with little internet, and missed it completely.

  44. Thanks Ben. In rereading it, I see it perhaps does not do full justice to God binding himself through covenants (e.g. Abraham) but I still think my focus on the rest of D&C 82 was important and would be worth further discussion.

  45. amyspeaks says:

    John f – I read through the post that you shared the link from. Madsen published Eternal Man in 1966 through Deseret Book while the Director of Mormon Studies and a Professor at BYU. It’s a philosophical exploration on the questions you were looking into, and I have a few other essays of the same era in different compilations. They are classified under “commitment” but I think some may be from law professors at BYU as well. This is an excerpt from his discussion involving covenants and the power to bind in relation to freedom and commitment.
    “Why is it, we may ask, that the Father and Son ‘cannot’* break their eternal compacts?
    Because they are ‘unfree’ in attitude? Just the opposite. Because they have made
    everlasting covenant that they will express freedom in the fullest way, to the resounding
    blessing of the whole human family…Made in imitation of the Divine, man’s free agency is the
    boldest, most powerful, most sweeping, and most exciting commitment possible.
    (*This is a cannot that reduces to a an eternal ‘will not.’ It is impossible because He has so chosen, not because eternal forces prevent it. Another remarkable power of freedom.)”

  46. Vanessa says:

    I attended our broadcast at the church (it surprised me so few here did so!) along with about 96 other women (of all ages) from our two wards here in a small, upper-South city. The turn-out was astounding for our area, we had an absolutely delightful zero-stress soup and dessert dinner and everyone seemed thrilled to be there. Maybe we don’t get together as often as you western folks do, so the ladies were excited for a party :) I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcast, got misty eyed several times (am I the only one who loved the second video?! It reminded me of very much of the YW broadcast videos for the last few years, which I have enjoyed as well, but the overall scope of a woman’s lifetime really struck my heart.) Sister Oscarson quoting and telling stories of only women was fantastic! I felt like the leadership did a bang-up job of trying to work out just what this meeting is going to look/feel like and meet the needs of a giant swath of woman-kind during the inaugural meeting. A friend and I spent an hour afterward sitting quietly in the pews and talking about women and the gospel. Then I found myself turning it on and listening while making breakfast the next morning before church, and that’s high praise indeed.

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