More Strange Loopiness

Or, putting some fun into our dysfunctional discourse on gender.  If you haven’t already ready read Cynthia L.’s excellent post, please read it now before proceeding.

This post introduces a new feature called the BCC Puzzler. Consider the following situations and the questions which follow.  If you think you know the answer to any of the questions, please write the answer on the back of a twenty dollar bill and send it in. And if you just paid your tithing yesterday and can’t find a twenty, please write your answer in the comments. [Read more…]

Gender, Authority and Strange Loops

I want to expand on thoughts expressed by commenters in the Sunday PM General Conference Open Thread, specifically, “…Or maybe, if we’re going to talk about how wise mothers are, and what good teachers, and read sentimental poems about grown men longing to hear their mothers’ voices, we could just, y’know, hear their voices….”

The immediate context of this comment was Brother Foster’s talk, “Mother Told Me,” but the point applies to the entire conference, and more broadly to women’s influence in the church. I’d like to delve deeper into an analysis of some details in Brother Foster’s talk. I want to emphasize that this should not be read as a condemnation of the whole talk. It is both much narrower (a quibble with just one particular example he selected), and much bigger (the whole situation of women in the church), than his talk. Also, on some level, this is just a golden opportunity for me to geek out on some of my favorite geeky topics: logic, paradox and feminism.
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What Is Mormon Studies?

There is what looks to me like a terrific conference coming up at CGU April 23 and 24. Below I’ve attempted to paste in the information from the program. (One with eyes to see will note a lot of bloggers on this program!) Those of you able to should definitely check it out (notes will be appreciated). [Read more…]

Primary General Presidency News Conference

The New Primary General Presidency

We just got finished attending the press conference for the new Primary Presidency. A few photos are below, as well as a few bits of information from the Q&A session we attended.
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Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour

I first encountered Joanna Brooks during freshman orientation week at BYU in 1989–she was sitting on a table in the checkerboard quad recruiting for the Student Review, swinging her feet and looking like a pixie with her freckles and short, dark hair.  She quickly gained a reputation on campus for being articulately outspoken on various social issues, and I admired her from afar.  But I didn’t get to know her until my junior year, when both of us took a certain contemporary literary criticism course from a certain feminist professor. On the first day, I spotted her a few seats down (her hair was longer then–super thick and shiny),  and knew this would be a class to remember. And I was right.

I’ll spare you the details of the wild, semester-long romp through Kristeva and Cixous and Jaggar (drop me an email if you want to hear about the bra burning). Instead, let me tell you about the groundbreaking multi-state event that Joanna is spearheading this month: Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour. Better yet, let Joanna tell you about it in this mini-interview we had recently: [Read more…]

You Make the Call: The Gospel as a Weapon Edition

Suppose that you are faithful Latter-day Saint who lives in a part of the world where there are few members of the Church, and everyone knows each other–or knows someone who knows those you don’t. A small, close-knit network of several 3rd and 4th generation families and their children, minimally impacted by converts and migration.

Suppose further that your spouse is a very well-respected member of the Church–generally regarded as a highly spiritual person, faithful to temple covenants, magnifies callings, has friends in lofty local leadership positions, and serves in the ward otherwise in ways that demonstrate to all observers that he is an honest, loving, faithful Latter-day Saint, husband, and father. Suppose, however, that the truth is, your spouse is a monster who uses the gospel as a weapon to demean you, to malign you, and to compel you into submission in all areas of life. [Read more…]

Book Review: Women of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is a fairly intimidating source of scripture as it was produced thousands of years ago by a culture that is greatly foreign to our own. The strangeness of the Old Testament text and cultural milieu is likely particularly potent for women who approach the text. Among the few things that we can say with confidence regarding the culture of Ancient Israel is that it was misogynistic. Therefore, Camille Fronk Olsen’s recent book Women of the Old Testament is best considered as a good introductory text to help teachers, particularly those interested in applying scripture to women’s lives, tackle this very difficult work.
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Caption This MormonAd

The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.

Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning: [Read more…]

Goodbye Women’s Research Institute

Had I not been raised Mormon, I suspect that I would not have majored in English literature.  I like nonfiction more than novels, but literary criticism offered me women’s studies and a vocabulary through which I could think critically about how my Mormon culture prescribed gender roles that I found constricting.  Being able to grasp a historical perspective on the evolution of gender was liberating to me, because this understanding gave me an expanded psychological capacity to choose how I would live my life.  I appreciated that I found a place that was willing to take women’s experiences as serious objects of study, thus making significant experiences that were often under-valued.   [Read more…]

Three Midwives

ELOUISE: I took beginning creative writing from Elouise Bell, who demanded quite a lot. I loved the experience, and decided I would indeed become a writer. I didn’t do particularly well in it (I think I got a B), but I loved the freedom of creating stories. I loved the give-and-take of her class–though I was frankly intimidated by her back then.

I still use some of Elouise’s exercises as I teach my own students. More than her teaching, however, I remember two specific incidents involving Elouise. [Read more…]

My Sunstone Experience

Sunstone is over for another year. I finally have access to a computer, so I thought I’d jot some notes on my experience there this year. [Read more…]

Especially For Glenson — Covered Wagon Feminism

Brother Lars Glenson is a good, though misguided and simple-minded soul who shows up hereabouts from time to time. He holds the study of Mormon history in special disdain and refers to it as Mormon Minutiae. Our Christian duty requires us to bear with Lars in his difficulties and to shed as much light as possible on his darkened path. It is in this spirit that BCC announces it will provide from time to time a new feature as a public service called Especially For Glenson. This service will be carried out in the form of short, inspirational posts, much like the format of Especially For Mormons. However, the BCC iteration will be better because the stories will actually be true. Please enjoy our first feature, which we will call Covered Wagon Feminism.
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Post-Mother’s Day Meeting Debrief

A few simple questions for consideration and discussion regarding your ward’s Mother’s Day festivities:

1. Priesthood Choir or Primary Choir?

2. Flowers or Cookies?

3. Oh, My Father, or Love at Home?

4. Old People or Young People?

5. Spiritual Feast or Cringe-Fest?

So I watched Twilight last night…

Introduction/disclaimer: I haven’t read the books and had no desire to, so I thought I’d check out the movie once came out on DVD, just to see what the big fuss is about. I threw it in my Netflix queue, couldn’t have had lower expectations. Here’s my first reaction: UPDATE: here’s a video “summary” of Twilight for those who haven’t seen it. Heh.

First off, I can definitely, definitely understand Natalie’s reaction in calling it porn for women. The women-porn force is strong in Twilight. Except for the -ahem- very rare moments when I got a little sucked in by it, I was just laughing and marveling at the absurd levels to which the blatancy of its women-porniness rose.
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Male Recession

In a couple of short articles that combine two major themes of recent BCC posts, employment for women and unemployment due to the current economic climate, the Financial Times is reporting that our economies are experiencing a “very male recession”. [Read more…]

Unemployment: My Own Personal Recession

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been some great, thought-provoking discussions here at BCC about women’s issues in the workplace. Implicit in all of these posts, and the resulting comment threads, is a question about how Mormon doctrine and culture influence the way women in the Church balance parental and employment obligations. These topics need far more attention and serious discussion–in society generally, but also in the Church, and especially in our individual homes. However, while the number and magnitude of difficult issues may or may not be distributed evenly across gender lines, recent events in my life have caused me to give more and more consideration to the impact that those same doctrines and cultural elements have on men in the Church.

Three Tarrying Nephites, by Matthew Page

Three Tarrying Nephites, by Matthew Page


Over the the past few months, many men I know have lost their jobs. It seems that rarely does a week go by without news that another person from the ward was laid off. Witnessing this has left me with a form of survivor’s guilt for my own good fortune in having a secure job I enjoy, great coworkers, and increasing opportunities for growth. This feeling is magnified by the fact that some of the people who have lost their jobs are dear to me–more so than they could possibly know–because they rallied around me and buoyed my spirits two years ago when I was faced with unemployment and in dire need of help for my family. The time I spent without a job was the worst stretch of my life. Now, nearly two years later, I think I can finally say I’m grateful for that nightmare of a year that was 2007, but I’m still not entirely recovered from the detrimental impact it had on my spirituality, self-confidence, and ability to communicate with God.

No two people experience unemployment in the exact same way; accordingly, I don’t expect that my experiences will resonate perfectly with everyone. However, I have noticed some themes that may be common to anyone dealing with unemployment, and I think they are worth discussing.
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Breastfeeding and Radically Mormon Feminism

In the latest issue of The Atlantic (or, at least, the one I most recently got around to reading), Hanna Rosin has a provocative article on why mothers shouldn’t be or feel compelled to nurse their infants. She argues, rightly, that breastfeeding requires an inordinate amount of time, making it all but impossible for a nursing mother to do paid work. The benefits to the infant, at least as measured so far, are not sufficient to justify the costs to the mother. Moreover, excluding fathers from the opportunity to bond with their infants by feeding them is inconsistent with newer cultural expectations of fathering, and introduces a sort of inequality into the parenting structure that is hard to overcome as the child grows.

I agree with her on all counts. And I think she is completely wrong. [Read more…]

Mormon Shame

It has recently come to my attention that we, as mormons, have done something shameful, I thought it may be too hot to post, but I can’t be silent.  [Read more…]

Don’t believe the (happiness) hype

Will Wilkinson, commenting on Catherine Rampell’s “The Happiest States of America” article on the NYTimes’ Economix blog, suspects “a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation” is at play in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which puts Utah at the top of states reporting a general sense of happiness (HT: Greg). More specifically, he states:

I’ll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy.

Just some Mormons, Will? Happiness is inherent in our ideology. [Read more…]

Pride in Our Husbands’ Callings

It is my sense that women in the church feel our identities defined in part by the callings that our husbands hold. What are the emotional implications for LDS women of their husbands’ callings?

In reacting to a new calling for my husband, I have felt gratitude for having a righteous and service-oriented individual by my side for life’s journey, and pleased (not proud!) in his ability to serve the church so well. It is also my experience that there can be more muddled feelings [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part III (Updated)

This is Part III of three. Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here. Part II is here.

32. I just wanted to mention what I think is the most striking aspect of this conversation: [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part II

Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here.

17. There seems to be a generational shift at play. [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part I

A few of us had the pleasure of overhearing an internet conversation the other day. Here are 50 of the more interesting things we heard, which we have boiled down and made anonymous for presentation purposes. Note that this discussion is for mature audiences, and will appear in three parts. Certain words may appear a little funny as we attempt to keep the original wording intact but permit those with internet filters to enjoy the conversation — the post requires images and may not read well in RSS feeds. Comments are closed on these posts; we encourage you to talk about this conversation with your families and on your own websites and blogs. Please email us with any questions. [Read more…]

Health baptisms, pond hockey, & Asherah– A New Year’s toast

It’s a blustery 3 degrees F (-17 C) outside right now on the first Sunday of the New Year. In a moment I need to head into the wind for an meeting. But first, two New Year examples of BCC bloggers popping up in daily life in Utah County.

A few days ago we were playing a family game of hockey on a nearby pond. While one of us chased down a puck after an errant pass, the rest of the family paused to rest, and someone commented, “Can you imagine breaking through this ice to get baptized, and doing that for 7 days in a row!” That statement stems from a family home evening lesson we had based around J. Stapley’s and Kris Wright’s Journal of Mormon History article, “A History of Baptism for Health.” If you haven’t [Read more…]

“White on the outside; white on the inside”

There is a baptism card sold at the BYU bookstore which shows a white girl (cartoon) apparently preparing for baptism.  The upper part of her body is viewable, and she is dressed in white.  The front of the card says, “White on the outside…”  The inside says “And on the inside.  Congratulations on your baptism.” [Read more…]

You Make the Call – Women in Priesthood Meeting (Gasp!)

Previous installments in this series have examined questions from the perspective of a priesthood leader. This post puts a wrinkle in the theme by asking a question about what a woman should do.

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Seeking for Mormon Feminism – Part I

Bloggernacle voices (and I’m one of them) often point out that church structurally disadvantages women in a number of important ways. Women are denied the formal leadership structure of the Priesthood; limited in other official roles; subjected to a variety of messages. Indeed, an outside observer might think, from reading bloggernacle posts alone, that women would be fleeing in droves from this anti-feminist church, leaving behind only a foul-smelling, unshaven, male-populated shell of an organization.

They would be wrong. In fact, women seem to consistently be the most active church members. This is perhaps the trickiest conceptual problem for the Mormon feminist: Explaining the appeal of this anti-feminist church to so many actual women. If the church is such a bad place for women — and conversely, such an unfairly good place for men — then why are women so much more likely to attend church? [Read more…]

The loneliness of the reluctantly orthodox Republican Mormon feminist

Here is our newest guest: Rebecca J. When prodded coerced to write a bio, she replies: “I’m a writer, a housewife and a lifelong Mormon. I have a personal blog, which I write under “madhousewife,” which is an homage to the Sue Kaufmann novel and not a commentary on my emotions. I used to be a journalist, but now I mostly write fiction, which has gleaned me mostly rejection (though I did recently move up to the hand-written rejections, which was nice). I have four kids, two of whom are toilet-trained (mostly). I also tap-dance–poorly, but with joy.” Welcome Rebecca!

As this is my first post for BCC, I feel obligated to break the ice somehow. I could make like I’m giving my first sacrament meeting talk in a new ward and say how I’m really nervous but so grateful for the opportunity and maybe tell the cute story of how I met Steve Evans, but that’s probably been done. I don’t know any jokes, either, so I guess I’ll just have to go straight into my prepared remarks.

Mormons love conversion stories. So do feminists. Mormon feminists must love conversion stories twice as much as anybody. A common Mormon feminist conversion story will tell how a naive, true-blue Mormon girl started out thinking feminism was for godless abortion-lovers and how over time she learned that feminism was merely the radical idea that women are people–oh, and also, that she could vote Democratic and still be a good Mormon. It’s less common to find a story about a Mormon woman who converts to feminism without converting to liberal politics in general, but certainly those stories are out there. It’s even less common to find a story of a Mormon feminist who started out as a liberal and converted to conservatism, while simultaneously diving headlong into the abyss of religious doubt. I am that lonely, prone-to-hyperbole Mormon feminist. [Read more…]

Desert Ranches in the News

Two ranches are featured in today’s U.S. headlines: [Read more…]

Pink Cadillac

March_2008_pink-issue-coverOf the various articles in the Spring 2008 Dialogue, Bushman’s essay, “Should Mormon Women Speak Out? Thoughts on Our Place in the World,” is available free to nonsubscribers.

There, Claudia Bushman, as professor, historian, and consummately-involved church member, briefly reviews the history of women’s roles in the church and the development of the Summer 1971 “pink” issue of Dialogue (dedicated to women’s themes). And, almost 40 years after she wrote the introductory essay to that issue, she asks herself and the rest of us for a status report and issues a call for involvement:

“…Mormon women were among the first and best at learning to stand and speak…. But where have we gone since then? Somehow in our liberated society, we have remained as dutiful and quiet daughters and wives. In our Church society where women are valued as daughters of God, as noble followers in the pathway of Eve, we still do not speak out. We know that there are dangers. People don’t always understand. Some take umbrage. Instead of being embraced as sisters, we can be shut out. So I propose a practical program of action for Mormon women to encourage them to speak up and out….”

[Read more…]

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