Reframing Parental Roles in the Proclamation on the Family

Among other ideas, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, emphasizes the importance or gender identity and roles. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on several sentences that relate to the responsibilities of parents within the family as they rear children.  

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations…By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation…

In 1990 Relief Society General President Elaine L. Jack and her counselors Chieko N. Okazaki and Aileen H. Clyde met to decide their priorities for Relief Society. They outlined five points that would become the hallmarks of their presidency. The fourth read:

Strengthen families. Many types of families are part of the church today. All families need strengthening. 

Women of Covenant. Page 402  [Read more…]

The Improvement Era, May 1968

Some things in the Church change, some things never will. [Read more…]

Oral Histories: Minding the Gaps

Some of my favorite parts of Mormon history are the accounts and stories of rank and file members, tales from their lives that show the impact of the gospel and the culture around them. I like to see how people interpreted (or do interpret) their religion, and how their faith plays out in their lives. It’s not a secret that much of earlier Church history lacks firsthand accounts and stories from women. [Read more…]

How Redefining Beauty Campaigns Reinforce Our Notions of Women and Beauty (Part II)

In Part I  I highlighted the fact that Salt Lake City has more plastic surgeons per capita than any other US city. I noted that this could be an indicator that either:

  1.  Utah/Mormon culture makes girls and women more susceptible to media messages, or
  2.  Mormon girls and women are receiving messages about what it means to be beautiful from influences besides media, or
  3.  A combination of media influence and Mormon religious culture compound to make a bigger impact on girls and women about how to be beautiful and desirable.
  4. Or, as has been noted, it could mean nothing more than SLC has lots of plastic surgeons.

First, media influences play on the natural desires of women to want to be beautiful and attract male attention. Contrary to the idea put forth that advertisers are trying to get women to want to look a certain way, marketing techniques simply take advantage of women’s own existing vanity. [Read more…]

Why Redefining Beauty Campaigns Won’t Work (part I)

In the past several years there has been a growing backlash against Western media portrayals of women. Media outlets, and even actresses themselves, have not been remiss in pointing out digital nips and tucks. To counteract this barrage of picture perfect female forms, there is a trendy movement to redefine what beauty looks like.  These movements vary from going without makeup,  to daily self-affirmations of just how beautiful you are,  to athleticism as beauty, to the well-known marketing campaign by Dove.  Amazon and other book dealers carry many titles on the topic like Redefining Beautiful, Beauty Redefined, and Girls and Self-Esteem. Within the Mormon community this trend also promises to help women and girls feel more beautiful as they accept their bodies.  [Read more…]

Approaching Zion: Solving the Problem of Malnutrition

“There is probably no more fundamental way to eliminate poverty than to raise the development potential of children.  Nutrition is one of the keys to their proper physical and cognitive development.

Tadeo Chino and Namanga Ngongi, Foreword to What Works? A review of the Efficacy and Effectiveness of Nutrition Interventions (Manila, Philippines: Asian Development Bank, 2001), page iii

Brad Walker is a public health physician in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is also a cofounder of the Liahona Children’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to solve the problem of malnutrition and illiteracy in the LDS community in parts of Ecuador and Guatemala.  I spoke with him recently about the problem of nutrition, about the foundation, and about how fifty dollars a year can feed a child. [Read more…]

Short Skirt, Long Jacket

I have a lot of hair. It has quite a bit of curl. It tends to get frizzy. It took me years to figure out how to take care of it and it’s still kind of tricky. At one point that involved a hairdryer on low with a diffuser. I bought a couple of electrical adapters suited for Eastern Europe and packed them into my luggage. It will come as no surprise to anyone with a little knowledge about voltage and electricity that an adapter isn’t going to save a hairdryer. However as a young missionary I lacked this knowledge and the thing blew the first or second time I turned it on. [Read more…]

Winter’s Majesty

*This cold winter
  Moon spills the inhuman fire
  Of jewels
  Into my hands.


One December my parents hocked their wedding rings at a trashy pawn shop in Salt Lake City in hopes of scraping together enough cash for something small for at least the youngest children. Growing up, Christmas was an anxious time, my mother crying a lot, my dad working around the clock—hoping for a paycheck that wouldn’t bounce. But it was full of happy memories too, surrounded by family, good music, good food and much joy. People were often generous and our stockings usually weren’t empty. I don’t dislike Christmas, but I don’t love it.

My first December in Moscow I spent a p-day cutting up an ugly red plaid skirt that I was too embarrassed to wear and sewed it into makeshift stockings for all the missionaries in my zone. My companion and I stuffed them with candy and cards that said Happy New Year in Russian. A week later we all walked together beneath the light of the moon through a forest of evergreens. The quiet of the forest felt cleansing; white pillows of snow fell covering the dirt from snows past. It’s one my favorite memories of both winter and my mission.   [Read more…]

What Love Requires

As lines of people approached long tables filled with grilled tri-tip and baked potatoes, a small loaf of bread, sliced and ready for the taking sat by a large basket of rolls last night at the ward Christmas party. The paper laying next to the crusty loaf labeled it “Gluten Free”.  Cranberry filled Jell-O with a cream cheese underlay was cut into generous helpings and divided into lots. One was gluten-free, the others endowed with a crunchy pretzel crust. Trays of gluten-free, chocolate-oozing dessert were delivered to table after table by the Young Men along with slices of regular chocolate and vanilla sheet cakes from Costco. In addition, a moist gluten-free coffee cake was there for your indulgence. It’s one of the small things we do in our ward for the handful of people who suffer from Celiac disease. That’s what love requires.

We have a handful of brothers in our ward, suffering from diseases not of the body, but of the spirit that caused them to become part of the criminal justice system, and for a time were (or still are) incarcerated. [Read more…]

TGIF afternoon poll

Poll below the fold. [Read more…]

A Short Post for Election Day

I wouldn’t have known one of the candidates running in my California congressional district is a Mormon, except that everyone felt inclined to tell me as if it was the dealmaker. “He’s a Mormon,” they said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a Mormon in office?”  Of course some people aren’t voting for him only because he’s Mormon, they also affiliate with his political party (or parties, in this case). But the underlying factor for many of my friends is not that he’s Mormon, but the assumption that he’s more honest than any other candidate because he is Mormon. That’s hardly fair. [Read more…]

Reconciling the Indian Placement Program

This post comes from BCC Guest mmiles.

I was sixteen when Mr. Zeeman assigned our journalism class to interview another student. “Lisa” was in the class with me, and I could interview her while we waited our turn in typing class.   Lisa was “on placement.” She was from an Indian reservation and was assigned to live with a foster family for the school year. She had been a participant for a few years already. [Read more…]

Missionary Racism

From BCC Guest mmiles

The following is the weekly email update that arrived today from my brother serving a mission in Idaho. [Read more…]

An Open Plea for Marital Advice

This post comes from mmiles, who has posted earlier at BCC (here and here), and who appears to have unilaterally extended an invitation to guest post to her husband. The BCC Subcommittee on Guest Blogging Ethics has been convened and is considering formal disciplinary action.

Last night my wife and I went to bed by eleven, but didn’t fall asleep until well after midnight. It began with those subtle hints and gestures back and forth, as each of us tried to determine whether the other had the interest and energy to see it all the way through. But one thing led to another, passion and excitement surged, and we soon found ourselves in the throes of a heated Bible discussion. [Read more…]

Moving Notice

[Ed. note: mmiles continues to grace us with her guest presence]

A few months ago my friend called. Over the phone she said her husband had gone to the bishop to ask if he was still worthy, ready to surrender his temple recommend. The sole reason for his query? They were filing for bankruptcy.


“Are your parents here?”


“Well, don’t take these papers down.” And with two pounds of the staple gun, he was gone.


The papers glared at me as I moved closer to read the small print, documents in a bundle my sixteen-year-old education couldn’t understand. A few hours later my mother’s cheeks were wet as she removed them. Breaking this law seemed small compared to the moral failing of filing for bankruptcy. [Read more…]

The Arms of the Priesthood

MMiles is a long-time participant in the Bloggernacle and a participant at Segullah. We are honored to have her as our guest.

“Brandon says he’s learned the importance of serving others through his Church membership. He notes that giving meaningful service is one of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. ‘Scouting is the activity arm of the priesthood,’ he says.”

The February New Era arrived today sporting a pristine boy scout, backpack and all, prepared for a hike and perched on a large boulder. It’s the cover for the feature story, “Scouting: A Pillar Supporting the Priesthood.” At the heart of the article is the third page, a showcasing of scouts of varying ages, explaining how they find scouting and the priesthood work together. The opposite page briefly details the history of how the church chose BSA as its match.

1911 Church leaders decide that Scouting, with its spiritual background and cultural ideals, has great appeal.

And so, in 1913 the Church and BSA were married. It’s like a match made in heaven! The boys learn to serve, how to be a missionary. They gain knowledge, and build camaraderie. But, as we all know, scouting has its drawbacks: the lawsuits, extraordinary expense, extraordinary amounts of time, and its failure to adapt to modern needs, arguably unlike the Young Women’s program (unless you count video gaming).

However its biggest failure is stated plainly in the article itself, ironically one of the very reasons for which it was chosen to be the lifelong partner with the church—cultural ideals. [Read more…]