The Mysteries of God, or Handbook 1

I’ve done something scandalous again. I’ve read the Church Handbook of Instructions 1, or at least some of it. The recent debate over whether or not the contents of Handbook 1 qualify as doctrine got under my skin, so I decided to study it and find out for myself. (How Mormon of me.) Of course, there was a hitch to my plan. Handbook 1 may be an authorized read for stake presidents and bishops (plus those who outrank them), but not for lowly members like me, who aren’t given access. My problem is compounded, of course, because I’m female, which means I’ll never serve in a bishopric or stake presidency. I suppose I could, technically, be plucked from obscurity and called to serve as one of the nine women in the general auxiliary presidencies who have authorized access, but the chance of that is exactly zero. So, for all intents and purposes, the book is sealed to me, in spite of the fact it contains policies by which I, as a Latter-day Saint, am to live and be judged. Huh. That stinks. What’s a girl to do? Continue reading “The Mysteries of God, or Handbook 1”

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Restore Honor to BYU’s Honor Code

brigham-young-university-rollins-center-for-etrepreneurship-technologyBrigham Young University has released a statement, pledging to “study” policies that open student victims of sexual assault to discipline from the Honor Code office and to possibly enact “structural changes within the university” to resolve what BYU President Kevin Worthen calls “tensions.” Good for BYU. I hope the university and its Church sponsor work quickly to devise a system that encourages, rather than discourages, the reporting of rape. In the meantime, all university disciplinary actions against victims of sexual abuse should be put on hold. Continue reading “Restore Honor to BYU’s Honor Code”

Dear Bishop: With Love, Mormon Women

Ward_Council_mtgRECENTLY A FRIEND, whose husband seems always to be in one or the other position of local leadership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed that she tries to help her husband understand how women in the church feel and, essentially, wondered what I would tell him, or other local leaders, if I could. Easiest writing challenge ever. So while I am just one woman and cannot be said to represent all LDS women–not even those of a more feministy persuasion–here’s my Top 10 list of things I’d like to say to bishops and stake presidents about how women in the church “feel.” The list is in no particular order. Continue reading “Dear Bishop: With Love, Mormon Women”

The Boys are Fine

Sometimes I think we Mormons aren’t aware of how differently we think from other groups. This can lead to communication problems with “outsiders,” but it can also keep us talking only to ourselves and ingrain ideas in our collective mindset that go unchallenged. When ideas aren’t challenged, they can become distorted and wind up doing us harm. Take for instance, our mindset about boys and, in particular, the Boy Scouts, the sacred cow of Mormon youth programs. Continue reading “The Boys are Fine”

Mormon Woman, Artist, Filmmaker on Heart of Africa

When considering people who have had an influence in Mormon literary art and film, Margaret Blair Young’s name surfaces among those of greatest influence. A creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University and a leading Mormon author in her own right, Young has, most recently, paired up with Darius Gray, founder of Genesis Group, and, together, determined to bring the stories of African American Mormons to the forefront of LDS cultural knowledge. The pair have given us the Standing on the Promises trilogy, a series of novels that fictionalize the real lives of Mormon African Americans, and the documentary film Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. Her current project, a feature film titled Heart of Africa, is based on the experiences of a real-life American missionary from Idaho and his Congolese missionary companion as they forge both a relationship that supersedes their cultural prejudices and spreads the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the African continent. Many consider it a rebuttal of sorts to the popular Book of Mormon Musical. While Young expects LDS audiences to gravitate to the film, her aspiration reaches far beyond the LDS world; Heart of Africa carries a universal message of hope and redemption. The players and the situation just happen to be Mormon. Continue reading “Mormon Woman, Artist, Filmmaker on Heart of Africa”

Women, Priesthood Authority, and the Holy Ghost

stake-relief-society-training-480x270-AV100921cah0056In his April 2014 General Conference talk entitled “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks asked one question that has caused me many sleepless nights. He said, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?” He then answered himself, supposing LDS women must receive a portion of priesthood authority through the men presiding over them. Mormon feminists who hope for female ordination were pleased, if not appeased, by his words, while many traditional Mormons were appeased, if not pleased, by them. I, however, was deeply troubled by his idea and have spent months seeking peace through prayer and pondering. But I can’t find it. The truth is, the prompting I keep receiving is very different from his answer. As a committed, practicing Latter-day Saint, this is an uncomfortable position. Continue reading “Women, Priesthood Authority, and the Holy Ghost”