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: 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.

Open Mormon Conference Features Service Opportunities

Next Saturday, some pioneers in Mormon feminism (including Joanna Brooks, Carol Lynn Pearson and John Dehlin) will be holding a conference in Salt Lake City where they will discuss how to navigate some of the challenges that face feminists in the church. Those challenges are not unique to feminism but also characteristic of the approach that many others take to viewing the culture and religion of Mormonism. The conference promises to offer some insights into feminism in the church and how one can remain faithful and hopeful.

In conjunction with the Mormon Stories Conference will be two service projects.

The welcoming session of the conference starts at noon. Prior to that at 9 am, conference attendees are invited to meet at the Utah Food Bank at 3150 South 900 West Salt Lake City, UT to volunteer for a couple of years until the conference kicks off. For more information see the agenda for the day’s events.

Also that morning is the 2nd Annual Salt Lake Run for Congo Women 5K Run/Walk organized by Utah for Congo. The run/walk will take place at Wheeler Farm in Murray, Utah at  6351 S. 900 E. Sign-in and registration starts at 8 am and the race begins at 9 am. Following the race will be followed by an awards ceremony, speakers, and entertainment. Then off to the Mormon Stories conference.

To pre-register for the Run for Congo Women, please visit:
www.saltlakerfcw.eventbrite.com

Registration is free, and you will receive an e-mail with advice on fundraising and donations.

For those in the Utah area, this promises to be an exciting and beneficial event. Please come back and tell us here what your experience was!

 

Censored: Mormon.org Profile

Guest Post by Jenne in response to the WAVE Call to Action to post a Mormon.org profile.

One of the questions available for members of the church to answer on Mormon.org is “What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?”

My answer:

“Mormons believe that God’s nature is that of the perfect parent. One of the greatest doctrines taught by the LDS church is that we believe we are loved by a Father and Mother in Heaven. Together, they love us with perfect knowledge of what we need to lead us to truth. They are patient, gentle, kind but firm and fair. Heavenly Father is attentive to our prayers and send the Spirit to guide and comfort us. He also sends his Spirit to others who will be guided to help and give us comfort in our struggles.”

Over a month later, it was still pending review.

I didn’t like the quandary that put me in. I didn’t feel like editing my response by cowing to the textbook answer; and it’s not something that I could argue with anyone. After a while, It seemed pretty clear to me that it was not going to be approved in that form and I wasn’t going to be hold the why’s behind it.

I toyed with the idea of leaving the answer the same but adding a personal experience to illustrate how I came to this belief and why it is so important to me spiritually. In the end that’s what I decided to do.

I did later find out that there had been a technical glitch with the system and my answer was never reviewed. In a way it was fortuitous, as I was given the opportunity to further reflect and add more detail and personal insight into my answer. It was a blessing to me to be able to bear testimony of Mother and Father in Heaven and to share my experiences of how I came to that testimony.

I’m pleased to report that my expanded answer was approved and is now available to view on my profile.

Mormons believe that God’s nature is that of the perfect parent. One of the greatest doctrines taught by the LDS church is that we believe we are loved by a Father and Mother in Heaven. Together, they love us with perfect knowledge of what we need to lead us to truth. They are patient, gentle, kind but firm and fair. Heavenly Father is attentive to our prayers and sends the Spirit to guide and comfort us. He also sends his Spirit to others who will be guided to help and give us comfort in our struggles.

Though I greatly mourned my father’s death, I had not had a good relationship with him when he was alive. Finding myself fatherless with no knowledge of my Father in Heaven, I yearned to know a father’s love. At first I thought it was very strange that Mormons called God “Heavenly Father” all the time. Then it grew on me when I realized that believing in a Heavenly Father meant I could come to know a perfect father and given the hope of the atonement of Christ, my father could become more perfect than he had been in life. I learned that God is a knowable, loveable personage that broke down my misconceptions about a Christian belief in God. Learning about the Mormon concept of the nature of God helped me embrace Christianity because Mormons reject the idea that God is a spirit, without passions, without body or shape.

Already having a nontraditional past and understanding of religion but valuing “truth wherever it can be found” the concept of Heavenly Mother, too, resounded strongly with me. Most Mormons first learn about Heavenly Mother in one of the LDS hymns which reads “In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason, truth eternal, tells me I’ve a mother there.” This concept made so much sense to me, and, I expect, to others who are coming from a pagan, earth-based religious background or who are familiar with the history of goddess worship throughout the centuries of the world. Its wonderful to me that neither gender is pushed aside for the other, but male and female reign together as divine beings.

In knowing about the existence of a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father, I have a better understanding of who I am as a daughter of God. Though not much is taught about Heavenly Mother, I envision a womanly goddess who is capable, strong, intelligent and all-knowing, creative, hardworking and infinitely loving: the perfect woman and mother and equal to power and ability to God the Father. The vision I have of Heavenly Father is gentle, loving, compassionate, all-knowing, patient and sensitive: the perfect man and father. In both, I find the parents I need to feel loved, comforted, guided and supported. I am able to learn how to be a better parent and partner to my husband because of the example I envision my heavenly parents set for me.

I find this experience frustrating and confusing, though in the end, I was glad to have the opportunity to bear testimony of Heavenly Mother, whom I feel is missing from my spiritual life and understanding. At this point, I have to be content with the idea I have of her in my heart and mind and pray that someday she will be more knowable.  I have faith that I will see her just as Eliza R. Snow describes in her hymn: “When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by; Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?” Yet, it’s with a pensive wistfulness that I hope to know her before then. And I hope for a church that openly recognizes, celebrates, seeks information about and teaches of her.

Note: This post has been edited to remove suggestion that Jenne’s profile was censored without communication as to why her answer was withheld. A technical glitch had prevented review of her response.

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.