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My Sould Delighteth in Plainness

[Sometimes I spend so much time on a blog comment that it starts to resemble a blog post in size. That's what happened when I commented on a post at Main Street Plaza about the website What Women Know which is a response to Julie Beck's controversial speech Mothers Who Know. Did I lose anyone?]

In true Relief Society fashion, these women are calling an ultra-polite bullshit on the trite attitudes many LDS people hold. I’ll translate the politeness for you:

Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture.

If a father notices his child bearing the burden of a “dirty” diaper, he damn well better do something about it.

Individuals and relationships flourish when we are able to share not only our strengths but also our mutual imperfections and needs.

Get it through your skulls that June Cleaver and Martha Stewart aren’t real people. They are just characters on bland television shows.

Cleanliness depends upon access to resources and has more to do with priorities than purity of heart.

We’re too busy living our lives to care that there are dirty dishes in the sink and semi-naked children eating off the floor when the visiting teachers come over for a surprise visit.

Housework is something that grownups do and that children learn by example and instruction.

Being born female isn’t a sentence of lifelong domestic slavery, so you better get off your butt and do some dishes.

We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.

Until the Brethren or the Relief Society start paying our bills or providing free, high-quality child care, they better back off with the baby-making talk.

Effective parenting is a learned behavior, and, as parents, we learn and grow with each child.

No one is perfect from the day the baby drops, and we won’t accept your guilt trip when our child decides to leave this church and its meddlesome culture.

The choice to have children does not rule out other avenues of influence and power.

Make with the priesthood for women already.

When it comes to employment, most women prefer the luxury of choice to the limitations of necessity.

Stop firing pregnant or divorced CES employees.

We work because we want to; because we need to; and because we have no other choice.

Having a lot of money doesn’t buy happiness, but having some money certainly does. If that means that a woman needs to work to support the baker’s dozen of buns that have left her oven because you told her to multiply and replenish the earth, then a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.

We distrust separate-but-equal rhetoric; anyone who is regularly reminded that she is “equally important” is probably not. Partnership is illusory without equal decision-making power.

Were you sleeping during history class? Separate is inherently unequal.

We have discovered that healthy relationships are equitable relationships.

No, I will not follow the law of my husband.

We claim the life-affirming powers of spirit and wisdom, and reject the glorification of violence in all its forms.

Has anyone noticed that the scriptures are replete with the glorification of violence? (e.g. headless corpses gasping their last breaths, severed arms, prophets cursing children to be torn apart by bears, stoning disobedient children, the wholesale slaughter of every man, woman, and child (born and unborn) on Earth,…) I plan to skip over the stupid parts of the scriptures during FHE.

Our roles as mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, and friends are just a few of the many parts we will play in the course of our lives.

Stop try to make me a one-dimensional character.

This seems to be an iron-fisted manifesto for Mormon women in a velvet glove of diplomacy.

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Women of the Priesthood

washing_and_anointing_tub_in_the_salt_lake_temple_circa_1912.jpg There’s something that puzzled me for a long time when I was Mormon: women officiating in the ritual washings and anointings in the temple. Women are forbidden to hold the priesthood which allows a man to perform the religious rituals which are necessary to gain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. Yet, in the temple, women perform rituals which are considered essential to exaltation exactly as though they were members of the Mormon priesthood.

When I first noticed this, I presumed that men didn’t officiate in these rituals in order to preserve feminine modesty during a ritual that was historically received in the nude (as suggested by the photograph of the ritual washing tub in the Salt Lake Temple circa 1912). Even so, this pragmatic solution didn’t explain how women could perform what must be a priesthood ordinance without being a member of the priesthood. I then realized that other temple rituals promise women that they will become “priestesses”, albeit just “priestesses to [their] husbands”.

Up to that point in my life, I had been staunchly against women priests. It seemed presumptuous that people desired to change what God had ordained. I speculated based on this new evidence provided by the temple that women would indeed be inducted into the priesthood in God’s own time.

I know that I’m not the only one who has ever noticed this inconsistency, but until now, I’ve never had anyone to share my ideas with. The irony is that now that I feel free to share, I don’t care about it much, though the idea of women holding the priesthood still causes angst and controversy even among feminist Mormons. It seems to me like people are fighting over a gorgeously wrapped gift full of nothing.

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Years ago while driving to work, I saw something that made me want to cry.

All over town in Las Vegas, there are little metal boxes along the sidewalks. In other cities, these would dispense your run-of-the-mill newspapers. In Las Vegas, many of them dispense advertisements for adult entertainment. Naked women with stars or hearts covering strategic portions of their anatomy sell their wares. It is Sin City after all. We wear our vices on our sleeves for all the world to see.

While waiting at a red light that morning, I glanced over at a mother walking down the sidewalk holding her daughter’s hand. The girl was probably only four years old. When they came to some of those notorious boxes, the little girl’s eyes went wide as she stared at something that I couldn’t see. She kept her eyes glued to that something as they walked past. I had a pretty good idea what she saw.

I had a newborn daughter of my own. It struck me that my little girl would probably see those same things as she got older. It broke my heart to realize what that little girl was learning and what my daughter had ahead of her.

When I saw the following video from Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty (the same people who brought us evolution), I immediately remembered that little girl on the sidewalk.

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