A Conversation about a Discussion…?

nametag_questionmarkOrdain Women is changing the name of their teaching platform from “Six Discussions” to “Conversations” in reaction to criticism that the name of the original program demonstrates their desire to evangelize LDS toward female ordination. The term “six discussions” is, after all, reminiscent of the former missionary program used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This title change is bringing the expected banter—claims that the name switch is as silly as the women behind it and other similarly dismissive things. As a non-member of OW (but then, OW doesn’t have a formal membership) who has participated in an online “conversation” group regarding these “discussions” (I’m confused), I recognize some validity in the charge that the Six Discussions are evangelical-ish in their appeal, but only insofar as any argument attempts to make its case convincing. It seems to me the silliness resides in the initial accusation that the Six Discussions were designed to convince others. Not because the accusation is wrong, but because making the accusation is, in itself, an act of silliness. Its a “duh” and a “so what?” Nearly every human conversation is designed to convince, to open or alter minds, to change ideas and, sometimes, hearts.  In some ways, argument can be considered the engine of free agency. It is essential.

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The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us

Church-with-sunflowers I’ve never understood the concept of the Angry God. I suppose that’s been a function of my religious privilege. Normally, I dislike the word “privilege” because it strikes me as a term progressives wield like a Bowie knife in a bear fight they bring on for the fur alone. But I’ll borrow it here because the term has successfully taken on a meaning that combines arrogance with naiveté. The term suits me because I have been both arrogant and naive in the practice of my faith. After all, my God has loved me: I found Him; I’ve obeyed Him, honored Him, and served Him. [Arrogance.] And I see His love in the blessings He gives me: I have an amazing family, a beautiful home, vehicles to drive, and friends galore. [Naiveté.] Continue reading “The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us”

On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints

butterflyThis morning, I awoke in our cabin, nestled in the piney woods of east Texas, and found, on the floor, the same beautiful black and blue butterfly that had, only yesterday, fluttered by me each time I stepped outside to enjoy the natural world. Somehow, she is trapped inside this morning, motionless, with her wings outspread in the attempt to camouflage against a maple-colored plank floor that will have none of it. I know from the experience of capturing butterflies in my childhood that if I touch her wings, I condemn her. Instead, I find a piece of paper and lay it before her. Although it doesn’t seem natural to her, the butterfly steps onto the paper and  I carry her outside, where she flutters back into the trees.

I love symbols. I look for them all the time. As I have struggled to come to terms with the pending disciplinary action against leading LDS feminist Kate Kelly, I couldn’t help but find an imperfect symbol of her predicament in this butterfly. Continue reading “On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints”

The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model

5340be6672844.preview-620Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experienced what some are classifying civil disobedience when Ordain Women took public action at the past two Priesthood Sessions of General Conference, all with the intent to call attention to perceived gender injustice within the church structure. After going on record suggesting OW refrain from demonstrating at Conference, I was invited by a male supporter of OW to once again review Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (full letter found here and an abridgment, here). After having done so, I am more puzzled than before over why OW has chosen this particular secular model to agitate for change in the LDS Church.

Before I proceed, I feel obligated to point out the obvious, that any conversation about civil disobedience in the Kingdom of God will bifurcate according to the belief system of those involved in the conversation. Continue reading “The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model”

Perspective and the Ordain Women “Problem”

woman-reading-on-computer-231x300I decided that, once the public action taken by Ordain Women (OW) at the April 2014 Priesthood session of General Conference was accomplished, I’d stay silent about the event. I figured there would be enough people talking about them and probably not enough people listening to them. In the aftermath, I read some very moving posts written by the OW sisters and their male supporters. Surprisingly, during and immediately after General Conference, my Facebook feed was almost absent of OW bashing. I was pleased.

However, about a week after the Priesthood session, a guest post from The Millennial Star, titled “Ordain Women: thanks for nothing” (sic), began appearing in my feed. I looked away the first few times it appeared, but its recurrence demanded I pay it some attention. Everything about that post stood in stark contrast to the things I’d read by OW supporters. It was angry when OW posts were reflective, jubilant, and sad. It was rude when OW posts seemed to go out of their way to forgive. And it was illogical, making claims about OW that were not recognizable to me and assumptions that should have been put on the Naughty Bench rather than online. But I haven’t an interest in discussing, much less debunking, the guest post. Read it here if you haven’t. Instead, I’d like to don my fiction writer/editor’s cap and discuss the difference between point of view (POV) and perspective, why and how that knowledge can help us, and what perspective has to do with the Ordain Women “problem.” Continue reading “Perspective and the Ordain Women “Problem””

HEADLINE: Ordain Women Shoots Self in Foot

pictures_of_jesus_woman_wellLast week I composed a few words (read here) asking the Mormon faithful to look at LDS feminism and, specifically, the Ordain Women movement through a more measured and Christ-like lens. The response was, not surprisingly, a mixed bag. Happily, many took to heart the “make love, not war” message. Regardless, I spent much more of last week immersed in the discussion of female ordination than I could have predicted. When a friend pointed me to the recent Feminist Mormon Housewife podcast with Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, I listened to about 30 minutes of the two hour discussion before my Internet glitched and that was that. So, admittedly, I haven’t ingested the entire interview, but I listened long enough to hear Kelly explain that OW’s public action at the Priesthood Session of April’s General Conference is intended to “communicate to the leaders of the church and to the Lord” that his daughters are, essentially, ready and waiting to be given the blessing of the priesthood. And I thought, “Sister Kelly, that ain’t gonna work.” Continue reading “HEADLINE: Ordain Women Shoots Self in Foot”

Today’s LDS Feminism and Ordain Women: An Epistle to the Saints

man-and-woman-symbolIt seems to be an unfortunate reality that, if I am to speak of gender issues to traditional Latter-day Saints, I must, at the outset, announce that I am not a member of Ordain Women. So here it is: I am not a member of Ordain Women. But I am a practicing and faithful Latter-day Saint who is disturbed by the depiction of the group as a small cluster of angry women who intend to usurp the positions of authority in the church. I’ve come across too much of that kind of rhetoric over the past few weeks to remain silent. And so I decided, in preparation for the 184th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which will be held the first week in April, I’d share with you my observations about what today’s LDS feminism looks like from where I sit, which, admittedly, is the cheap seats of the organizational hierarchy. My focus will remain on female ordination even though Ordain Women, as well as LDS feminists outside that group, have an interest in other women’s issues.

Continue reading “Today’s LDS Feminism and Ordain Women: An Epistle to the Saints”