Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ the Lord is Risen! Alleluia!

I think this hymn captures the glory and majesty of the message of Easter. There are so many thoughts in my mind about what the Atonement and Resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ, mean to me. For now, I'll let the music say it.

I also liked this view of Easter through the lens of social media. It causes me to pause and ask myself what I would have done. (The Christmas video from Igniter Media is even more amazing, imo.)

Would we have followed Him then? Will we follow Him now?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Mormon Woman's Thoughts On Faith, Feminism, Gender Equality: Introduction

I'm a Mormon woman who has spent a lot of time over the past decade and a half thinking and writing about and discussing "women's issues" in Mormonism, how feminism and Mormonism might intersect (or not). This is always a challenge, because feminism means different things to different people...and, for that matter, so does Mormonism. And then you bring in the word "equality" and things get even more tricky, because I do think that different people define or approach equality differently.

I think it's safe to say that a typical (and simple) feminist definition of gender equality would be something like "equal opportunity" or "equal treatment" in an organization. Therefore, many feminists conclude, the Mormon church is not equal because it's a patriarchal organization -- led by men, where women can't hold all the possible positions men can.

I honestly can understand this position. I mean, I can't imagine anyone looking at the structure of the Church and not thinking, at least for a minute, "Hm. Why is it that men hold the priesthood and women don't? Why is it that the men hold the highest leadership positions in the general and local Church structures?" I think this question becomes all the more pointed the more that we see civil rights' movements, equal opportunity employment efforts, and so forth in our culture.

And so, the obvious follow-up question that is understandable is "Why would any woman choose to be Mormon?" I recently heard a commenter on a newspaper article basically say, "I would never be part of an organization like this, because it turns women into second-class citizens."

In the next while, I will attempt to share some of my thoughts on this, on why I don't feel like a second-class citizen as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I take a different approach when defining equality (which means I'm either not a feminist or I'm pointing out yet another definition of feminism). This different approach is a key reason why I am fine with the functional differences of men's and women's responsibilities in the Church.

A few caveats on this little blog mini-series include the following:

- I make no promises about the frequency of my posts. ;)
- I am most definitely not any sort of authoritative voice. I am simply sharing my personal thoughts and perspectives on this topic.
- As is often the case with a blog, some of what may be recorded here may be work-in-progress thinking. Which also means that I don't pretend to understand it all, but I do have some strong feelings about these topics.
- I'm still not sure what to do about comments. I might turn moderation on. I might turn comments off altogether. I might not do anything different. My life is pretty insane right now, so I don't have a ton of time to engage in a lot of detailed discussion. (And I know from experience how much time such discussion can take.)

So there you go. See you on Part 1, "A Mormon Woman's Thoughts On Faith, Feminism, Gender Equality" -- whenever I get to it. ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Themes in the April 2011 General Conference

This weekend was General Conference weekend for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I absolutely love Conference weekend. At the end of the two days, I found myself feeling sad...sort of like you can feel with post-Christmas letdown. Conference is like Christmas around here -- we anticipate it for weeks, we savor spending time together as a family, we eat fun food, we stop regular life for a couple of days, and we wish it could last longer. (My children always yell "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" as the last session ends.)

And it's another time to focus on and renew our faith in Jesus Christ and in our Heavenly Father's eternal plan for His children. It's a time when we seek to feel God's Holy Spirit in our hearts to help us refocus on what matters most.

Whenever I listen to General Conference, I like to look for themes. I'm reminded of what Elder Neil L. Andersen said last April in General Conference:

There are no assigned subjects, no collaboration of themes. The Lord’s way, of course, is always the best way. He takes the individual prayerful efforts of each speaker and orchestrates a spiritual symphony full of revelation and power. Repeated themes, principle building upon principle, prophetic warnings, uplifting promises—the divine harmony is a miracle! I testify that in this conference we have heard and felt the mind and will of the Lord.

I still want to mull over all the messages a little more (and given my weird sleep issues, I still have a couple of messages to listen to that I missed while sleeping). But here are some themes I noticed [edited to add that I'll be editing this list as I think of other themes]:

-The healing power of Christ
-Helping the poor and needy / Giving service
-The centrality of marriage and family in Mormon doctrine
-Life is a test
-Discipleship takes work, discipline, commitment, willingness to sacrifice, willingness to change/grow/receive (and even seek) correction
-We believe in angels
-Doing vs. becoming
-Small and simple things
-Revelation and personal testimony/answers

What did you notice? What talks stood out to you?