Call To Action: Support the A Mother Here : Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest

How can Mormon women ever envision themselves as divine beings, as gods equal in every way to male counterparts, if Heavenly Mother almost never gets depicted or even mentioned in Mormon discourse? We desperately need images that bring Heavenly Mother into the forefront of the Mormon consciousness, that communicate permission to think about her, pray about her, and bring her into our religious speech.

That’s why I am so excited about the “A Mother Here: Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest”. (amotherhere.com) Images are powerful. Poetry is powerful. Like revelation, art opens up the world, showing connections between objects, events, and words that help us see the world around us in a new light. Both will help Mormon women to literally see themselves as nascent gods, and it will inspire the men around them to likewise see in women all that is holy, powerful, and godly.

The “A Mother Here: Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest” is looking for poems and 2-dimensional visual arts pieces that portray Heavenly Mother. The contest is offering over $2200 in prizes to the best entries, which will be chosen by judges Susan Elizabeth Howe (esteemed poet, playwright, and BYU professor) and Herman Du Toit (former head of museum research at BYU’s Museum of Art and former head of the Durban art school). There are two awards categories, poetry and visual arts, with six awards in each category: first place ($500), second place ($300), third place ($150), and 3 honorable mentions ($50 each). The contest will accept entries up until March 4, 2014, and award-winning submissions will be announced on May 11, 2014.

Please support this contest by:

  1. Spreading the word to all the artists and poets you know, and talking about it in general to draw attention to the contest.
  2. Submitting work to the contest if you create art or poetry.
  3. Donating money to help fund the contest. Even $5 will help get the contest to its $3000 goal. Currently the contest is a little more than half funded, and every dollar counts. You can contribute by clicking on the “donate” button that is available on the bottom right hand column of the contest’s webpage (amotherhere.com).

To encourage donations to the contest, those who give $20 or more will receive a thank you gift of a short, print hymnal featuring 15+ hymns that refer to Heavenly Mother. Two examples of such hymns, with their associated PDFs and MIDI (music) files are below.

(1) “O Remember, Little One.” Originally added to the LDS French hymnal in 1993 as “Souviens-toi, Mon Enfant,” this version includes a new English translation, and slight modifications to the music to better accomodate the flow of word syllables. [PDF] [MIDI]

(2) “Our Mother in Heaven.” Originally written in 1893 by William C. Harrison, this companion hymn to “O My Father” was circulated in LDS periodicals, such as the Juvenile Instructor and the Millennial Star. The text has been revised and placed to new music. [PDF] [MIDI]

Call to Action: Write to YW President Elaine Dalton

There has been much talk, speculation and confusion regarding YW President Elaine Dalton’s recent BYU Devotional address. In her talk entitled, “Prophetic Priorities and Dedicated Disciples“, she is quoted as saying:

“Young women you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood.  You will continue to be virtuous  lovely praiseworthy and of good report. You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.”

Both WAVE (on this facebook link) and Feminist Mormon Housewives posed the question: ”How do you interpret what Sister Dalton meant?” That much does seem evident–President Dalton’s talk is vague enough to leave many different interpretations for listeners among which to chose, as evidenced by the many guesses people have stated. The Salt Lake Tribune also published an article entitled “LDS women’s leader stirs it up with ‘no need to lobby for rights’ remark.”

The board members of WAVE are just as unclear as to President Dalton’s meaning as many responses have indicated, and, given our heartfelt belief that women are vastly unrepresented and marginalized around the world, we would like to better understand whether President Dalton is as opposed to women’s rights efforts as her comments could possibly indicate, or if, like us, she hopes for a time when advocacy efforts for women will become unnecessary.

Due to the vague nature of her comments, it is unsurprising that responses are ranging from confused to angry and hurt. If we were to follow the admonition of Jesus in Mathew 5:24 when responding to a perceived offense, we would seek to “first be reconciled to thy brother [in this case, sister]” and then to approach her in a way demonstrating the virtues of “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-42), with the hopes that we may be able to better understand the message she was hoping to convey to the young women of the church.

In it this spirit that we call our sisters to join with us in writing to President Dalton and request clarification as to what she meant about lobbying for rights. Through the gentle power of our voices, experiences and stories, we can share with her why women’s rights are so important to us and attempt to resolve the contention around her comments. As the hymn says, we are sisters in Zion and we have the divine instruction to all work together to build the kingdom where all may be edified (Doctrine and Covenants 84:110).

The church website provides a postal address and email address where you can direct your letters to the Young Women’s President:


ATTN: YW President Elaine S. Dalton

Young Women General Office

76 North Main

Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-1702
E-mail: youngwomen@ldschurch.org

Please remember to speak honestly, from your own experiences and observations that have informed your world view and reach out in the spirit of reconciliation and a desire to understand and attain clarity.

Readers are also invited to make a donation to a not for profit foundation promoting education for women such as Somaly Mam Foundation in memory of President Dalton’s mother who passed away the day before the devotional. Expressions of condolences and sympathy would also be appropriate.

 

 

Call to Action: Mormon Feminist Gift Giving Guide

This year was a fantastic year for Mormon feminist publications and there are many titles that would be the perfect gift for the Mormon Feminist on your list.

Last the Women’s Service Mission published its Holiday Gift Guide which focused on free trade products that help to empower entrepenuers in the developing world. Many of the organizations listed also promote female empowerment through economic sustainability. For those non-bookish types, the Holiday Gift Guide is full of functional everyday items and creative multicultural gift ideas.

Deseret Book has published some wonderful titles in the last few years including: the series Women of Faith in the
Latter Days
Volume 1 and 2. Filled with stories of well-know and lesser known Latter-day Saint, these books profile the lives and experiences of women’s heroism, courage and dedication to their ideals and loved ones.

In a way, these books respond to the request of former Relief Society President Emmeline B. Wells when she said,

“History tells us very little about women; judging from its pages, one would suppose their lives were insignificant and their opinions worthless. Volumes of unwritten history yet remain, the sequel to the written lives of brave and heroic men. But although the historians of the past have been neglectful of woman, and it is the exception if she be mentioned at all; yet the future will deal more generously with womankind, and the historian of the present age will find it very embarrassing to ignore woman in the records of the nineteenth century.” [Source: Emmeline B. Wells, “Self-Made Women,” Woman’s Exponent, March 1, 1881, 148.]

Also published from Deseret Book this year was The Beginning of Better Days: Divine Instruction to Women from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Editted by Sherri Dew and Virginia Pearce, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith as recorded by Eliza R. Snow are widely available for the first time in published form Through the compiling effort, the authors had the following in mind: “We wanted to know where women ‘fit’ in the plan of salvation.  What did the Lord expect of His daughters? What blessings did He have in store for us, and how could we lay hold upon those blessings? In Joseph Smith‘s teachings to the Relief Society, we each found a treasure of guidance, motivation, pure doctrine, and wise prophetic counsel.” The authors, sensing the importance of these words, invite readers to really engage with the texts by providing space for notes on each page as well as offering commentary and exposition at times.

Just published from Deseret Book is The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life written by husband and wife team Terryl and Fiona Givens. The erudity of Fiona, especially, shines throughout this book due in large part to how well read she is and her skill with making prose out of the written word. This book has receieved much critical acclaim from within and outside the church. Some are saying that it is quickly going to become the go-to resource when sharing a detailed explanation of Mormon beliefs with others.

 Independent works that also came out this year and are highly recommended are:

The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth

Written by a number of female Mormon birth professionals, including doulas, childbirth educators and bloggers, the book sensitively offers perspectives on the some of the hardest and often least discussed aspects of childbirth, including miscarriage, infertility, postpartum depression, sexual abuse, traditional birth practices, and informed decision making through a connection with the divine, including Heavenly Mother. The Gift of Giving Life is the perfect gift  to give at baby showers or to new brides. The book truly offers an empowering and inspiring look at the woman’s experience of reproduction. Through Christmas, a 30% off discount is available when you purchase 3 or more copies.

Chocolate Chips and Charity: Visiting Teaching in the Real World by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Written by a contributor to Exponent II, Chocolate Chips and Charity take a realistic view to the challenges of Visiting Teaching and through the words and wisdom of women offers insightful and poignant stories about women’s experiences with Visiting Teaching; making this book a perfect gift for your Visiting Teachers or those you visit teach.

The Book of Mormon Girl written by Joanna Brooks

Featured recently on NPR, the Jon Stewart Show and in the Washington Post and New York Times, Joanna Brooks tells her story of coming of age as a Mormon feminist within the church. It is a honest look at the struggles of finding one’s way through questioning and the confusing mixed messages aimed at women in society, both within and outside the church.

Flunking Sainthood:  A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Reiss

In this ecumenical volume, Jana Reiss, a practicing Mormon writes about the exploration of various religious practices
borrowed from diverse belief systems. Through a year of month long faith experiments, Jana shares with readers the lessons she learns and how her faith is impacted and made the better.

The Place of Knowing by Emma Lou Warner Thayne is described as a “spiritual autobiography” where the author writes about the numerous spiritual experiences she has shared with people around the world. A renowned writer in her 80th year, this book is touching and impactful filled with knowing after severe adversity.

 

Also out this year is Sue Bergin’s Am I a Saint Yet: Healing the Pain of Perfectionism. Writting with those who cling to the checklist in mind, this book offers a way out of the some of the constricting and discouraging expectations that many Latter-day Saints struggle to meet. Containing case studies that show the breadth and diversity of women’s experiences in the church, this book encourages people to express their authentic selves and in so doing find greater joy in living the gospel.

Also published this year was the groundbreaking Motherhood Issue of Sunstone Magazine with beautiful cover art by Galen Dara Smith. Articles by WAVE board members Tresa Edmunds, Chelsea Sheilds Strayer and Jenne Erigero Alderks  are included in the issue on the topics of parenting after abuse, egalitarian parenting arrangements and the history of Latter-day Saint birth attendants. Heavenly Mother is also featured throughout the issue with articles by Robert Rees and Margaret Toscano. The cover and interior art specially commissioned for this issue can also be purchased in the form of greeting cards, posters, t-shirts, journals and even iPad and iPhone covers. 

Last but not least, give the gift of Exponent II to the Mormon women in your life. A year long subscription will bring 4 issues of high quality poetry, art and the written voices of Latter-day Saint women exploring what it means to be a Mormon woman in the contexts of diverse themes features issue by issue. Also available from Exponent is their publication Habits of Being: Mormon Women’s Material Culture which features essays and poetry from a  variety of Mormon women writing about objects they have inherited from their ancestresses. Humorous and heart-breaking, this collection includes works by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Jana Riess, Margaret Toscano, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

 

This last one is not written by Mormons but has inspired many Mormon Feminists in the last few years. Half the Sky was made into a documentary that aired on PBS this fall and both the book and DVD are available for purchase. You may remember that the book Half the Sky inspired Mormon Courtney Cooke to create the organization Talents of Sisters to raise money to donate to efforts around the world to empower women.

 

Are there other publications or items from Mormon Feminist women that you would add to this list? If yes, please include a link and description in the comments! 

Call to Action: Start Podcasting

The Mormon feminist community has been greatly blessed this last year by the podcast Daughters of Mormonism where we were able to hear from many Mormon women’s voices and participate in discussions on topics pertinent to  women of the church today. Sybil, the creator of Daughters of Mormonism, just recently announced that she will be unable to carry the podcast forward. In her farewell episode, she passes the torch to us, LDS women with experiences and thoughts that need to be expressed and heard. Sybil says, “There is so, so much still to be spoken. I want to hear your voices. I want to hear your stories. And there is more out there than I could ever cover. I’ve known this time was coming, and now it’s finally here.”

Sybil has issued the call, and now, by extension WAVE is issuing the call to Mormon women to start podcasting. For those who are new to podcasting and do not know where to start, Sybil has compiled a list of resources and created a tutorial on how to get started from your own home.

Feminist Mormon Housewives have already answered Sybil’s call by starting the fMh Podcast. They are off to an amazing start and featured an interview with WAVE board members in Episode 11.

The Roundtable of Mormon women’s voices at Patheos is another place to find recordings discussing topics pertinent to church culture .

Mormon Stories have featured Mormon women like Carol Lynn Pearson, Claudia Bushman and our very own Tresa Edmunds.

Mormon Matters frequently features LDS women in their episodes on a variety of current events and historical topics pertinent to Mormonism.

We at WAVE are looking forward to your stories and thoughts.

With podcasting, you can post episodes as frequently as your life can allow–if its once a week, once a month or even sporadically. Once your first episode is up, please place your link in the comments of this post so we can have a respository of podcasting LDS Women’s voices.  Vlogging (video recordings of your thoughts and stories) is also welcome and encouraged.

We look forward to hearing and sharing your stories!

 

 

Call to Action: Addressing the Temple “Issue”, Period.

Check out the Call to Action from our sisters at Feminist Mormon Housewives: Call to Action: Addressing the Temple “Issue”, Period. Click on this link and get involved!

Call to Action: Contribute to an Anthem for Mormon Feminists

In honor of WAVE’s first birthday and thanks to one of our newest and quickly becoming a favorite feminist blogger, WAVE is excited to invite all of you to participate in our newest Call to Action.

This month, we are joining with Jena (blogging at Like Unto Eve) to brainstorm and write the lyrics to a new song intended to become an anthem for Mormon feminists.

Our LDS Hymn Sisters in Zion began in a similar way. Originally published in the Women’s Exponent, the leadership of the Relief Society requested that readers submit their original verses for consideration to be included in the hymn. You are familiar with the three verses in our current hymnbook, but did you know that you can find up to 10 recorded verses?

Finding inspiration from scriptures in the Book of Mormon, Jena has given us a start to this new hymn: complete with meter and melody. Please join with us to add to these verses and see the beautiful music we can create together.

Jena writes:

About a week ago I was driving home from somewhere or another and thinking about something I wrote in a recent blog post :

It’s time for us to “arise from the dust, my sisters, and be women, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that we may not remain in captivity.” Indeed, “Awake, my sisters; put on our armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which we are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.” (Likened from 2 Nephi 1:21, 23, Also reference The Book of Morma)

I started humming and in a few minutes I had the rough idea for what turned into an anthem. I could hear a snappy, staccato rhythm and a unison chorus of women’s voices.

Awake and arise, my sisters,
Awake and arise, my friends!
Arise from the dust (Come shake off your dust?)
For labor we must.
It’s time for our work to begin.

Awake and arise, my sisters,
Awake and arise, my friends!
Come shake off your chains
Of heartache and shame
It’s time for oppression to end.

Other ideas came and went and were written down and altered, and while [I think] they’re great, they’re just one woman’s perspective. My vision for this anthem is 5-10 verses (they’re short after all) encompassing a much broader and more inclusive scope. I’d like to have a variety of perspectives and subjects covered in the name of unity and understanding. I want there to be something that just about everyone can identify with as a call to action in life

So I’m opening it up to the audience! Compose your own verse(s) and submit them for consideration.

Meter: 87558
Rhyme scheme: ABCCB

To hear the tune, visit this link on youtube: “Awake and Arise” tune (Only those with the link can access, so feel free to pass it along).

The first two lines don’t have to be the same as the verses above.

Submissions are open until October 7th. Together, Jena and the WAVE board will be deciding on the final draft and announce a decision Friday, October 14th. Winners will get co-authorship credit and the opportunity to participate in recording if desired. Submissions will be accepted at likeuntoeve (at) gmail (dot) com.

Call to Action: Participate in the first WAVE Blog Carnival

Last month, Aaron B at By Common Consent wrote about his experience becoming a Mormon Feminist. He then posed the question to readers: When did you become a Mormon Feminist?

Its a perfect question for our January Call to Action: A Blog Carnival across the bloggernacle where you and other feminists in the church describe what experiences lead you to embrace (or even reject) the label of Mormon feminist.

Here’s how the Blog Carnival works:

  1. Tweet or share this call to action and invite others to participate with you.
  2. Write a post on your personal blog or on facebook. In your post link to this Call to Action and tell your readers that you are participating in the WAVE When Did You Become a Mormon Feminist Blog Carnival.
  3. Link your post to our facebook page and/or share on facebook and Twitter.
  4. Comment below and share the link to your post.
  5. Please indicate if we have your permission to cross-post your entry as a HOPE Blog submission.

At the end of the month, we will link to the  posts that have been shared with us, as well as cross-post them to our HOPE blog throughout the year.

Other ways you can be involved in by placing the WAVE button on your blog showing your support and sympathies towards feminism and women’s issue in the church.

WAVE is the action arm of the bloggernacle when it comes to feminist issues. In order for our efforts to have effect, we rely on the support and cooperation of many who share our sympathies and values. Before we move on to calls to action with more far reaching effects, we need to know the interests and stories of those supporting us. Through your voice on the bloggernacle via your personal blog, guest posts to the HOPE blog and other sites, you are informing us where your interests and passions lay. As Ask a Feminist recently wrote: you create the goals for which actions we will take. Through answering the question, “When did you become a Mormon feminist?” we will begin to get an idea of what goals are meaningful to you. If you need some extra encouragement to join us, please read Winterbuzz’s recent post at Feminist Mormon Housewives: “Being a Brave Feminist.”

Now it’s your turn: When did you first become a Mormon feminist?

We look forward to your posts!

Submissions:

Heather at Its All About the Hat Vlogs her response.

Sara at SK{ru}SH: lists the times in her life where she became feminist.

You can read other stories in the comments of Aaron B’s BCC post as well.

LDS WAVE board member’s feminist journeys are posted on the HOPE Blog: Jessica, Caroline, Jenne, and Chelsea.

Submissions will continue to be accepted as you are able to finish your post. Please link in the comments or on our facebook page.

Call to Action: Your Favorite Mormon Feminist Posts

Over the last decade, hundreds of fantastic posts on Mormon feminism have been composed. We at WAVE feel that it’s crucial to create a catalog of Mormon feminist posts from around the bloggernacle, so that those who are searching for ways to think about these issues can quickly and easily access the ideas of others who have had similar thoughts or questions.

Please send us links to your favorite posts about Mormon feminism.

Call to Action: Form Your Own Book Group or Chapter

The purpose behind this call to action is to create a forum for you and other women to explore ideas about Mormonism, gender, and feminism.

When we meet together to tell our stories, share our questions, and explore new ideas, we strengthen ourselves and our relationships with one another. There’s a power in naming problems and in discussing strategies to navigate the difficulties of our lives as Mormon women. There’s a power in knowing that we are not alone.

This group can be a book group, a discussion group, or a WAVE chapter, depending on the makeup of people. You might not have other feminists in your community to invite to this group. In this case, pick women you know who are compassionate and open minded and form a book group.

Suggestions for reading material, followed by comments about appropriateness of the material for various group makeups:

1.) If you want to read an article, consider the essay, “The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother” by Linda Wilcox. You can find this article in the book Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspectives or you can find it online here.  Begin a discussion with your own thoughts or questions about Heavenly Mother. (Not too edgy. Academic, objective tone. Very readable.)

2) If you want to read a novel, consider The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  Discuss the role of the feminine divine in the novel and the role she played in the lives of the characters. (Not at all edgy. Perfect for a Relief Society book group.)

3) If you want to read a non-fiction book, consider Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women, which has suggestions at the end of immediate things you can do to take action on behalf of women in the world. Discuss any resonances you see between your own lives and the lives of the women featured in the book. (Not necessarily edgy, but both painful and inspiring at times.)

What are your suggestions for great books or articles to read in your groups? Please share below.  Also, please let us know if you are able to form a group.

Call to Action: Celebrate the Diversity of Women

The purpose behind our next call to action is to send the message to Church leaders that we celebrate women, in all their diversity.

We need our leaders to know that we are inspired by messages of heterogenity, not homogenity; messages of diversity, not conformity. We want them to know that we embrace women, whatever their marital status, whatever their career path, whatever their ethnicity, politics or socio-economic status. The more types of Mormons the Church has, the healthier the body of Christ is.

Please email Scott Swofford at the Missionary Department at Church Headquarters to tell him why you appreciate the profiles of women on Mormon.org.

Scott Swofford, Missionary Department

Church Office Building
50 E. North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

Also, let’s show both the Mormon world and our non-LDS neighbors that Mormon women are not a monolithic entity. Create a profile at Mormon.org and identify yourself as a feminist, a progressive, a social activist, a libertarian, a birthing rights advocate, a survivor, a career woman, a visionary, etc. Whatever makes you the individual that you are.

Be open about the things that inspire you about Mormonism. Perhaps it’s Heavenly Mother, or the idea of the eternal progression of all humans, male and female. Perhaps it’s our feisty Mormon foremothers who fought for suffrage alongside Susan B. Anthony. Perhaps it’s the idealism behind the United Order, that there be no poor among us. Check out this great profile of WAVE’s own Chelsea as example of what Mormon.org is willing to put up. http://www.mormon.org/me/28TV-eng/Chelsea

Please fill out a profile at Mormon.org. Go to http://mormon.org/create/ (Note that you will need your membership number.)

Please leave a comment or email us once you have completed one or both parts of this Call to Action.