Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding My Inner Feminist, Part 2

"Queen of Heaven" by Gustave Dore

Feminist and Mormon

My journey towards accepting the label “feminist” kicked into high gear when I read Carol Lynn Pearson’s “Mother Wove the Morning”. It is a one woman play she wrote in which she performs 16 women throughout history in search of the female face of God. I was so very moved by this play. It is not hyperbole when I say that it has changed my life. I highly recommend reading it if you can get a copy and at least read the introduction here.  Having my eyes opened to how we live in a “Motherless house” as Pearson says catapulted me on this quest for understanding about women in my Church and society in general.

I also discovered Mormon Stories which has made me much more aware of the history and issues regarding women in the Church. My husband and I have loved listening to these podcasts. There are many topics covered and we’ve had some wonderful discussions about them all.

I’m not the only Mormon woman discovering her feminist identity these days. There has been a resurgence of late among Mormon women who self-identify as feminists. Thanks in large part to the wonder of the internet, Mormon women are connecting and discussing women’s issues in ways they couldn’t easily do before. As I’ve discovered this online community, I feel my soul expanding and my mind stretching in new ways. I feel a wonderful sense of sisterhood with my fellow Saints. I feel like I am looking at the world through new eyes.

Just last week, Patheos.com hosted an online symposium on Mormon Feminism which I linked to in a previous post. Kathryn Soper wrote an articulate and thoughtful article on the convergence of Mormonsim and Feminism. She expressed so well much of what I feel on this topic. I could quote so much of it, but you should just go read it. Really. And if you have time read the responses. They are great too.

Other great online resources in this Mormon Feminist movement are the Exponent II, WAVE, and Feminist Mormon Housewives. And while we are speaking about Mormon women, I just have to mention again the Mormon Women Project which showcases Mormon women from a vast array of background and circumstances. It is not a “feminist” project per se, but it shows the diversity among Mormon women and is an amazing example of what women are doing with their talents. I also love Segullah, a literary journal and blog written by women that explores all the facets of life as an LDS woman. I’ve been reading it for years. Kathryn Soper just happens to be founder and editor.

Being a Mormon Feminist can be challenging because aspects of Mormon doctrine, culture, and practice can be at odds with feminist ideals. And yet we are the only Christian denomination that teaches we have a Heavenly Mother. Knowing she exists is an amazing comfort. As I’ve been pondering about her more and more lately, I have felt both joy and sadness. Joy as I’ve felt the Spirit manifest to me that I have a Mother who loves me and whom I can strive to be like. But extreme sadness that we ignore her. We don’t speak of her. We don’t pray to her. How sad it must be for her that her children have mostly forgotten her.

I want to remember. 

Tomorrow-- Part 3, Feminist and Mother


  1. I asked my parents once why we don't talk as much about our Heavenly Mother (this was when I was really young). I have always loved their response: they said that their feeling was that our Heavenly Father loved her so much that he didn't want her name to be vilified and taken in vain the way His is. I really appreciated that perspective. I don't think she's forgotten--are women in the church forgotten because we don't hold the priesthood? We may not be as public, but we're still working right alongside.

  2. Oh I heard that too growing up and accepted it. And it isn't a terrible explanation. But the more I think about this the more I just don't buy it. Especially when you look through history and discover that humans used to worship female deity. During Old Testament times, when what became our scriptures was recorded, there was a new patriarchal movement that suppressed goddess worship, and that is the legacy we have today. It is also why women are so rarely spoken of in the scriptures in general.

    I love that Mormons at least acknowledge that God is both male and female but I just don't believe that our Mother would agree to be invisible to us. I think we've forgotten her. You should really read the intro to Pearson's book that I linked. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Margaret Tuscano (U of U professor) said something funny and true about this that I loved during her Mormon Stories interview. I don't have the exact quote but basically she said she doesn't believe the rhetoric that Heavenly Mother is too sacred to speak of because mothers deal with "sh**" all the time. Literally. It seems quite patronizing to say our Heavenly Mother can't deal with the crap her children here do to justify for all intents and purposes ignoring her existence.

  3. Great thoughts Katrina. I honestly wonder what is the threat of acknowledging Heavenly Mother? This is yet another example of the LDS Church having these beautiful, healthy, affirming doctrines, yet we don't emphasize them. Are leaders afraid of being too different from mainstream Christianity? I am surprised and disappointed that even as subtle a reference as "Heavenly Parents" was changed to "Heavenly Father" in the Gospel Doctrine manual.

    I love that we can be feminists together. :)

  4. That explanation for the absence of our Mother has always troubled me. We have our all-powerful Father-God who controls all nature, sends us messengers and weeps with Enoch for the lost of His children, but his counter-part, his "equal" is so delicate that she can't bear to hear her name vilified...like she would clutch her heavenly pearls and faint on her heavenly chaise lounge. So apparently she's okay with absolutely being erased...invisible...what kind of mother would choose to be uninvolved during the most lonely separation of a child's life? I don't buy that and I never have. It would be like giving birth and then leaving my baby with my husband, departing forever, for fear that one day the child would disrespect me. Oh please. Mothers are not such delicate flowers. And since the church so emphasizes the "nurturing" that comes from a mother doesn't the absence of divine mother-nurturing seem even more acute?
    Also. I've always felt badly that women don't have a "Heavenly role model."If the plan is to become like Our Father, I can't relate to that completely. He is a Man. I have no idea what heavenly Women do, except apparently fade into the background. "Eternal increase" suggests female presence, but I want more than suggestion, I want to be inspired, I want to know that there are female heroes for me to aspire to and love. Someone I can relate to as a female. I don't think that's too much to ask and I think we deserve better than that paltry and condescending explanation.

  5. rachel b, amen and amen! thank you for expressing that so eloquently. i couldn't agree more.

  6. I haven't participated in the LDS religion in more than five years but recently have begun considering the historical worship of a goddess/heavenly mother more and more.

    Part of the reason I left the church was the oppression I felt as a woman, although I must certainly admit this is not necessarily part of the doctrine... but at minimum, it's pervasive in the culture here in Utah.

    In any case, I feel that if I ever came to accept the existence of a heavenly father I would most certainly have to insist on the existence of his life-bearing partner's importance as well.

    Thank you for showing that being a housewife and mother doesn't mean denying the importance of feminist teachings, but rather, can embody them.

  7. Wow, what a refreshing discussion. It's amazing how so many people can have the same thoughts, but it is so easy to feel like they are alone thinking them because it is never talked about.

  8. Now I'm glad I sent you that book! It's wonderful, isn't it?

    I wish I knew more about Her because if I'm going to be a goddess some day, I'd like to know a little more of the job description. :) And I can't imagine, as a mother, having my kids believe that they can't talk or turn to me when they need me. I don't think Heavenly Mother likes that arrangement either.

    Have you read Kevin Barney's article on Heavenly Mother?

  9. I hope that Rachael, the first poster, doesn't think everybody her jumped down her throat. I thought that explanation was totally fine until I came in contact with someone who really had a problem with it. Then it didn't seem logical at all. But I went a couple steps further as to why the explanation doesn't make sense. People, all of us, have a tendency toward mind-blindness. That is, we often fail to see that others have different motives, needs, feelings, etc. This is particularly true when we think of Gods, both male and female. I believe that they differ from us greatly and as a result, it is very difficult for us to understand their desires, feelings, needs, motives, etc.
    Unfortunately, people therefore have given Gods all sorts of motives that we probably shouldn't have. An example is that He is actually hurt by people saying His name in vain. Many suppose that it is simple act of saying his name that hurts His feelings. Something I have learned from LDS doctrine it is that this is simply not true. I think that it is clear that the Lord is hurt when we withdraw from Him and is pleased when we bring ourselves near to Him. Thus when one says His name in vain then one distances themselves from Him, which displeases Him immensely. The simple reason for this is that He loves us.
    So we see that the behavior, as horrible as it may be, is never as bad as the only consequence that I believe God cares about that follows our sins: Our bad choices distance us (and often others) from Him.
    God isn't offended at us saying His name without real intent, He's offended at us not being as we properly should, which is celestial. We are not HIS peers. He couldn't care less about our opinions, only about whether or not having those opinions will make us happy in an eternal sense.
    So if we ever do disrespect Him in some way, He takes no personal offense, He's merely sad, angry, jealous, hurt that we are choosing to distance ourselves from Him. That is my belief, I think it is sound.
    If this is all true then the next logical step is that our Heavenly Mother would have the same motive as God. As a result, She would be hurt not because we said something to disrespect Her, but because doing so would distance us from Her. And naturally, what distances ourselves from Father distances ourselves from Mother. If God is omniscient, Godess is omniscient. Father could no more protect Mother from being hurt by her children's cold hearts than He could protect himself from our cold hearts, and that is what they are hurt by, not by us dissing their names.
    We, as mortal people surrounded by peers, have assumed that Father or Mother, in some sense, care about what we think as we care about others think. That is that what others say or think about us actually matters to us; that what others say or think could actually add or detract from our value. While completely true of humans, this is absurd to apply to deity.
    They don't care what we think, they only care that we are on our way back to them.

  10. From Melanie, a facebook acquaintance who couldn't post:

    "I think in the recesses of my mind I always accepted that we do not talk about Mother in heaven because this concept is taboo in other christain faiths... WE may offend our christian brothers and sisters and look downright silly. Heaven fo...rbid, as if polygamy did not do that for us. Perhaps human pride made us shun the doctrine in an attempt to be taken seriously by fellow Christians. I would LOVE to know more about our heavenly mother and her heart and mind. Thank you for this dialogue!"

  11. Feminism is such an exciting thing to discover, especially being a member of the LDS church. There is so much truth that God pours out upon us. I have always identified myself as a feminist, but I think the type of feminist I am now is very different than the type I was when I was in High School. I should probably write my own post on this.

    Can I put in my little warning about Mormon Feminist Housewives and the Exponent blog. I use to read them faithfully and I learned a lot of wonderful things from them. Then after awhile I found myself being filled with a spirit of contention about women in the church and the gospel in general. I felt like while I was getting a lot of good insights from the blogs I was also getting a tiny amount of poison and it was hurting my soul in a deep way. I've chosen not to read them any more because they tend to stir me up to contention and not peace.

    I think those blogs-- and ANY feminist writings LDS or not-- need to be taken with the spirit and with perspective. I know that for me it is so easy to loose sight of what is true and to let anger, hurt and confusion replace peace, truth and love. My general rule is that if it makes me feel contention on any level or hurt then I should leave it alone.

    There are LOTS of wonderful women who write for the FMH and the exponent-- some of them are my good friends-- but there are also people who want to sow seeds of discontent and anger. Mormon Feminism is a really tricky place to be.

    That it just my little warning-- from a woman who has been through the fire and back again when it comes to feminism and women in the church.

    I love Mother Wove the Morning too. I would love to see her perform it sometime!

  12. Oh and sorry I am writing you a book but I just wanted to mention something about Mother in Heaven. I've been doing an indepth study of goddess worship in the bible and have been so amazed at what I've found. I don't think it is that our Mother in heaven is "hidden" from us. It is just that we can't "see" her. Think about all the "invisible" women in the world. All the horrible things that women go through and the way in which they are viewed in the world. We can't see our mother in heaven because we can't even see her daughters on this earth. If we can't see her daughters, there is no way we will see her.

    She is SO connected to a woman's body. But so many women are so disconnected from their bodies and struggle against unrealistic expectations that they can't see her in themselves. Even in giving birth-- which is the ultimate display of our mother in heaven-- women are often SO disconnected from the process that they miss her all together.

    I think one of the main goals of feminism is to help women become more visible and when women and their true value is more visible we will then be able to finally be able to SEE our mother in Heaven. She is so obvious sometimes that it is really a shame we ignore her. Yet just like any sacred knoweldge-- those who have eyes to see will see and those who won't. I think the reason we don't talk so much about her is because God doesn't just hand us deep eternal truths on silver platters. He makes us work for them and discover them for ourselves.

    Just my thoughts :)

  13. Jonathan... I'm not sure I agree with you on the "they don't care what we think". I think I get your point but perhaps don't like that way of saying it? I think our Heavenly Parents do care what we think in that our thoughts are part of who we are and are part of what helps us return to them. Do they get offended by what we do or say or think? No I don't think a God or Goddess is capable of being offended. They know us perfectly and understand us perfectly and love us perfectly. Is what you meant by them not caring what we think that they don't take offense at what we think?

    Heather, I'm so glad you commented! I was hoping you would as I knew you would have some great insights. I see where you are coming from with the caution on the blogs. I think that a lot of feminists (and others) who take issue with how the Church does things at times can have a lot of angst. This comes out in blogs. I am personally not a super regular reader of fMh or Exponent although I think they are valuable and I do read them from time to time. I personally don't see the need to hash everything out the way some people do. And like you, I choose to steer clear of some posts that leave me feeling more down than uplifted. I think its about knowing yourself and what you want to subject yourself to. However, I do enjoy the discussions and ideas brought up in these forums when they push me and make me think about things differently or more deeply.

    I really loved what you said in your second comment. I don't think God is hiding our Mother from us. I don't think Church leaders are either. I think our forgetting our Mother is a consequence of the patriarchal society that we live in. As women take back their voice and as you said, become more visible, my hope is that we will find our Heavenly Mother again. I would love to see her mentioned more in Gen Conf talks, etc. though!

  14. Spot on Katrina, I simply meant that the reason they would care about them is because they are either good or bad for us. They are by no means dismissive. I just was pointing out that thinking that heavenly Mother wouldn't like to be talked about is essentially saying that our view of reality had some bearing on Her self worth. It's very victorian age. Thinking that God feels He must protect Her. It's the equivalent of saying that God needs some sort of protection which is of course absurd. If God is all powerful, Godess is all powerful...I doubt she feels the need to be protected at this point. I just think that they (gods) are be above this.

  15. Thanks for clarifying, Jon. I totally agree!

  16. I really like what Heatherlady had to say about the spirit of contention. The class in grad school that I was most uncomfortable with was a seminar on various theological representations of women throughout history. We covered goddess worship in depth--believe me, I know all about it. I am fully aware that it was alive and thriving.

    But in that class, our lectures and discussions inevitably dissolved into a rant against thousands of years of organized religion. And while there are many, many, many repressive religious practices, I was very uncomfortable with the conclusions drawn by the professor and students; the discussions were far from faith-promoting.

    The thing that I find most disturbing is the implication that "educated" or "more involved" thinkers have to push the boundaries of our faith or what our leaders have outlined. I think that's very dangerous.

  17. Ooh- about contention and angry feminists, I wrote up a guest post for fMh about why I think we need to give angry feminists a little break and understanding- it's hard when your world view is shattered! If/when it posts, I'll link to it on my blog. If they don't ever post it, I'll put it on my blog. I just feel like sometimes I am that angry feminist and being dismissed as "just an angry feminist" and being told "contention if of the devil" is belittling to the process of re-evaluating your paradigm.

  18. I certainly agree that there are more and less constructive ways to discuss the oppressive and harmful effects of religion. I try to keep a balance in my World Religions class--we highlight both the affirming and positive aspects of religion as well as the potentially (and actually) hurtful aspects.

    I also am very sensitive to the reality that certain avenues of education and thought can be detrimental to faith. I accept and am ok knowing that over 90% of members of the Church and other religious individuals don't know or care about the things I study. My studies have transformed my faith... I am comfortable with that, but would never want to inflict it on someone else (not without them asking for it at least). I try to be responsive, not proactive when it comes to discussing challenging ideas. I appreciate the benefits and blessings that come from religious belief and practice, and I don't want to destroy that in people. It is useful to understand car engines, but it would be unproductive to dismantle someone's engine so they could not get from point A to point B. I do not want to dismantle someone's religion so it cannot serve its purpose.

    So that touches on the "boundaries of our faith." Concerning "what our leaders have outlined", however, is there one, monolithic doctrine or view? There has always been great diversity of belief in what our leaders have believed and taught. Yes, there are certain base lines, but I think that "our leaders say" is just as problematic as "the Bible says". I would also add that in addition to what is revealed from on high, much of what is taught is simply tradition or cultural construction. We are discussing one such topic... our doctrine is that we have a Heavenly Mother, but we don't talk about her because of patriarchal habit and tradition.

    Finally, just because something is dangerous does not mean it is not worthwhile. Surgery is dangerous, but often saves lives. In my experience, ignorance is also dangerous. History has taught us that unquestioning obedience can be dangerous. One reason I teach religion is because to the degree which our worldviews do not correspond with reality, our faith is vulnerable to breaking upon discovery of some fact or "truth". This happens all the time.

    Yes, questioning and searching can be a dangerous journey. But it can also be so rewarding. Jesus challenged the beliefs of his time, as did Joseph. I think that God wants us to move beyond the untruths we cling to, whatever their origin. I agree with the comments above that he is sad we don't talk about Heavenly Mother. I think he was sad that blacks were not able to hold the priesthood, for reasons that were taught by leaders but never had anything to do with doctrine, only culture and tradition.

    So to sum up this rather long comment, I agree that if questioning is going to destroy a particular individual's faith, it is probably better not to go on that path. But in general, I think God calls us to question, think for ourselves, and make our faith and beliefs our own.

  19. Jared--I like what you say about making our faith and beliefs our own. When I think it becomes problematic is when people do NOT do this in the expansion of knowledge process--when they see the different worldviews, and accept them without questioning how they are compatible with their own beliefs. I think it's important to look at what is applicable and discard what is obviously invalid. But I think the danger is that so many people forget to discard--they accept the whole, or reject the whole. Does that make sense? And I think that so many of the intellectuals I know make this mistake. It seems like the more educated many people are--and I realize I'm generalizing here--the less faith they have.

    Maybe I'm jaded after five years of teaching at a very non-religious school, but the lack of faith I've seen here is very disquieting to me. For instance, so many of our friends here are atheist because they can't see any way of reconciling science with religion.

    But on the other hand, I think this is an issue at religious schools too--I'm thinking the "purge" at BYU a few decades ago. When does challenging our ignorance stop being useful and start being destructive? I think this is a difficult question--and the answer is probably different for everyone.

  20. Rachael, I really appreciate your response. I think we agree on the most important aspects of this issue... it is an extraordinary and potentially excruciating challenge to balance faith and certain types of education, and so many fall to one extreme or the other because they can't negotiate that fine line.

    The productive question is what can we DO about it! I think one of the most important solutions is to embrace and use, not discipline, those who have found ways to deal with both academia and faith. I hope we can move beyond the simplistic rejection of intellectualism and acknowledge that many earnest members of the church have questions, and set up as mentors those who can remain committed while also engaging with history and ideas.

    But I don't want to get too sidetracked away from Katrina's wonderful topic of feminism!!

  21. What a great conversation. I am so glad that you started it Katrina!

    Tophat, I really liked your comment about giving the angry feminists a break. It is really true that it takes awhile to reconstruct your paradigm and that we need to be sensitive to people who are struggling through that. It is a really hard journey.

    I've been an angry feminist in my life too. I know what it feels like to be filled with a spirit of contention and anger about women in the church and I also know what it feels like to be filled with a spirit of peace and doubt about women in the church. One is darkness and the other is pure light.

    Sometimes is really breaks my heart when I see women start down the same path I took towards feminism. I wish I could tell them that there is a much easier path, one that is filled with peace rather than anger and answers rather than contention.

    True, my path got me to where I am now but it wasn't the best way to get there. There was a point in my life when my anger and confusion almost led me to loose my faith. I was really lucky to works with several amazing, faith filled feminist professors when I worked for BYU's women's research institute. They taught me that it is a waste of time to be angry or contentious. That the best source of "feminist" ideals if found in the scriptures, not in books, lectures or blogs. They taught me that while it is good to have doubts, good to have sorrow, good to have passion, good to push the limits, you also have to make sure you do it God's way and with the spirit. If you don't you throw yourself wide open for other influences. That perspective changed my life and when I embraced it I felt like the darkness had fled from my mind and heart and my eyes were open.

    It is sort of like the story of Vashti and Esther in the Bible. Vashti's approach was very bold, contentious and angry. In the end she lost everything. Her approach destroyed her. Esther on the other hand took a path that was VERY guided by the spirit, one of prayer, faith, and peace. She went about things completely different than Vashti but in the end she accomplished the same thing Vashti had wanted, plus a lot more. I think there is need in this world for both Vashtis and Esthers and I think that women will often play both roles at times in their lives. I don't think being a Vashti is wrong, but it isn't very constructive. It only ends in destruction. The danger in being a Vashti is never being able to find the Esther path which is a way of love, peace and is constructive.

    I sometimes worry about "moromon feminism" because I think it is sometimes too much modeled after the feminism of the world. As LDS women we have such a different perspective on eternity and gender and our feminism shouldn't resemble ANYTHING like the world's type of feminism. It should be something so different that it almost deserves another name. Many of the goals are the same-- improved choices and living for women-- but the way we go about it should be different. We know so much more than the world does about who we really are.

    It excites me that so many women are finding their feminist voices but I really do worry about the direction that some women are being led. Where does anger and contention lead to? Can we be feminists in God's way. Can we be the sort of feminists our mother in heaven is?

    Such a good conversation. I'm sorry for rambling on. I still have a lot to figure out myself about women and feminism. It is always good to talk it out.

  22. This is such a great conversation Katrina! Heather, your Vashti/Esther contrast made me think of how Jesus got everything Lucifer demanded; he just went about it the right way (the glory of the Father, the salvation of pretty much everyone). I beg your pardon bringing male examples back into it. On the topic, however, I think that the portrayals of Jesus as female/mother are fascinating.

  23. Great conversation. I love it. I've been thinking more today about the "angry feminist" aspect. For whatever reason, I don't feel angry about how women are treated in the Church. I mostly just feel sad. I feel like we are missing out on truly reaching our potential-- or at least making it harder to see our potential-- by not discussing women's Divine power more. I think my hope for now is that we can continue to have these conversations. I hope that women can talk about our Divine potential fully and openly. I would love to be able to talk about Heavenly Mother more in church. I would love to be able to teach my primary class about her more. I feel hopeful that as more of us are thinking about these things and talking about them and connecting, we can make a difference.

  24. Katrina- I think your reaction as sad is on the same lines as people who react in angry ways. I think of it like grief: some people have longer stages of anger or depression when they are grieving, but the root of the grief is the same: hurt and pain. Behind the contention and anger- and sadness and loss- is pain. And since we all grieve differently, it's going to show itself in different ways. I don't think there's one way to grieve. Anger is a part of it. Depression and sadness is a part of it.

  25. I just wanted to thank all of you for this discussion. I too feel like I have so many questions, and there are many things about LDS culture and teachings (not doctrine) that really trouble me, like gay marriage, subjugation of the divine feminine, racism in denying blacks the priesthood, and polygamy. Sometimes, as I would sit in church, I would feel myself near tears, wondering why I didn't feel right about what I was hearing and wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't just smile and nod.

    However, when I can participate in conversations like these (or by reading some things on the Exponent, Segullah, FMH, etc.) I don't feel angry or contentious. It makes me feel better and more at peace. It makes me feel like there are intelligent, thoughtful people out there who question the same things I do--people who don't necessarily fit the rank-and-file LDS stereotype. And as I feel my paradigms shifting and my view expanding, I feel the presence of the Spirit as I strive to know more.

    I could not agree more that the whole point, at least in my opinion, of all of this--of church, of scripture study, of prayer, everything--is to develop one's own divine potential and cultivate a relationship with God. Questioning is good, because then you have the opportunity to draw nearer to the divine for answers. Aren't we supposed to "ask and ye shall receive"? So when did asking become subversive?

  26. Excellent point, Heather (tophat). I think you are probably right.

    For the record, I wasn't trying to suggest that being angry is wrong or that being sad is better. I was just trying to puzzle out where I fit in the spectrum of reactions.

    We all have to go through that grief process in all its stages. My hope is that in the end we can try to remain as positive as possible as we try to change things.

    Hillary, I love your comment!

  27. These are issues (the lack of knowledge about Heavenly Mother, angry feminism, pushing boundaries,) I have been thinking a lot about lately. While I am not feeling very eloquent today, here are some of my thoughts.

    1. I am in an Angry Mormon Feminist phase. However, while I try to have moderation in all things (including my anger) I do not feel like it is necessarily a bad thing. For me (and I respect that for others it is different,) my anger motivates me to question, to push myself, to seek answers, and find and claim peace. It is the opposition between my periods of anger and my periods of peace that make me stronger. Giving my emotions validity (but not letting them run my life,) is important for me. That is just me. And it is incredibly difficult to find balance, so again, I recognize it is not the best path for everyone.

    2. For me, part of finding the balance between angry feminist and peaceful feminist is pushing boundaries, even boundaries set by some church leaders. Not every boundary, but I want to leave room for personal revelation when the boundaries imposed on me could be incorrect. For instance, I feel like the "boundary" to have my husband "preside" over me is one I choose to push in favor of of another "boundary" established by the church: that men and women should act as "equal partners."

    Both language resides in documents like the Family Proclamation, and I feel it is sort of my spiritual duty to push and explore those boundaries to make them applicable to myself.

    3. I really like adopting inclusive language when I talk about spiritual matters. I find it comforts me greatly to refer to Heavenly Parents whenever possible.

    Anyway, this is a long comment, but I also want to say thank you for hosting such a meaningful discussion. Thank you for commenting on my blog and giving me the opportunity to get to know you better.

    And, I am jealous of your red hair.

  28. Stephanie, thanks for your thoughtful comment. On the topic of pushing boundaries... sometimes I think I should feel guiltier for the boundaries I push against. But most of the time I really don't. I've come to realize that our personal relationship with the Divine is what is more important. We are ENTITLED to personal revelation. There are exceptions to every rule. We don't have to be a cookie-cutter mold of every other Mormon girl or boy or man or woman. We are individuals on individual paths. It is ok to question--yes even the prophet--and get our own confirmation directly from the Lord.

    I had a bishop once say when speaking about the gospel-- "The tent is large." There really is room for all different types of people. There are different ways to be a "good" Mormon. I really do believe that.

    Ok... I may have totally gone on a tangent there. But it does relate to the discussion I think. Maybe? :-) Sorry, it's late.

  29. Oh goodness...I don't have time to delve in here, but I just want to say Katrina... I am so glad that we are friends and that your interest and passion about things like this makes me take more time to think about things I might have otherwise ignored or not found time for. And also, your husband is awesome.

  30. Great discussion. I don't really have much to add, just want to thank you for the food for thought. As conscientious parents we can be the ones to start a new trend in the way we teach our children (male and female) about our Heavenly Mother and how we view womanhood. Having read this will help me reevaluate the way that I word things as I teach my children (i.e. "Heavenly Parents" vs. "Heavenly Father").

  31. I'm late in commenting on this post in part because I feel like I have so much to say on the topic and so little time to think about how best to say it! This is a subject I've thought about and wrestled with for years and I'd love to talk about it in person some time. For now, I'll just recommend a book: Women in Eternity, Women in Zion by Valerie Hudson and Alma Sorenson. You can get it on Amazon or read it on Google Books here (or borrow my copy): http://books.google.com/books?id=vyFGcGH7OIUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=women+in+zion+hudson&hl=en&ei=c0oITY2SGIu4sAOoxuGgDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    I worked with Valerie for many years and while I don't agree with everything she thinks, she definitely comes to these topics with a lot of intellectual prowess and faith--a winning combination. I think you'd really enjoy it.

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