Monday, April 29, 2013

About Not Belonging in the Church You Belong To

When I was a teenager, my family moved to a town within the Mormon Corridor. (Western-ish U.S.) For the first time in my memory, I lived among a significant percentage of fellow Mormons. During this time, a friend of mine accused me of several things that I did not do. While no one at school believed her, some of the members of my ward did. They would whisper in the bench behind me, calling me Jezebel. My lessons in Young Women were pointedly pro-chastity. I was called into the bishop's office for a detailed interview. Fortunately, he believed me. He was the only one (besides my parents.)

This was the first time in my life that I was the target of someone's concerted manipulation of others to hurt me. Church was a nightmare for me, and I grew to hate it. But I knew that not all Mormons could be like that. A desire to prove it to myself contributed to my decision to attend BYU. There, I learned what I went to learn, that Mormons are not as cookie-cutter as people like to think, and that there were others like me who believed as I do.

But that feeling of being an outsider has never quite faded.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Sorrow

In the mornings and throughout my day, my Facebook is filled with people posting "uplifting" quotes. I know that many people feel supported and uplifted by positive thinking quotes, or lists of what to do to be "happy." I'm not trying to put that effort down for them, but just to mull over why it doesn't work for me.

When I hear things that say, essentially, "just think yourself out of sadness or negativity," I hear "your sadness is not valid, your negativity is all in your head. You don't (or shouldn't) feel what you feel. If you were a better person, you wouldn't feel that way." It's a lie, a pervasive and sneaky lie that masquerades as truth. Happiness doesn't drown sorrow, sorrow births happiness. We NEED to experience pain and sorrow, in order to know joy.

We tend to believe in our medicated, comfortable lives that pain is evil. If something causes us pain, it must be changed or avoided. Well, my life has an element in it that causes pain that I cannot remove. Though a part of me wishes it were simply gone, I am thankful for it. It has taught me that not everything which causes pain is evil.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Trees or Veils: a Division of Authority

In 2010, Valerie Hudson Cassler presented an idea in FAIR that addresses an idea of Priesthood and Motherhood. While I think there is some valuable insight into our eternal nature in this theory, it has one huge problem. It isn't doctrinal truth. Unfortunately, the idea has exploded across LDS blog thought, finding particular root in faithful feminists, that is people who support the Church and also believe in feminine eternal power, that women are not subjected to men via the priesthood, but have access to their own brand of power that works in tandem.

A very rough summation of the theory, in case you didn't want to follow the link above and read it for yourself, is that there are two Trees, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. In this theory, Eve was foreordained to partake first of the first Tree (of Knowledge of Good and Evil,) ushering mankind through that phase of existence and Adam is then to partake first of the second Tree (of Life) and usher mankind through that phase of existence (per Lehi's dream, I imagine.)

I can see why this idea is compelling. It explains why men have the priesthood and women do not, but still validates that women are powerful and important to God's plan. There is a very similar hypothesis that women and men are to preside over different veils, that women preside over our first birth (into mortal bodies) and men preside over our second birth (accept Christ's atonement.) This is slightly different, but still the same general idea. There are several problems with it, however, which I don't intend to touch upon until the very end. First, I'm going to take Elder Holland's advice and lead with what I know and believe.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Modesty: What's Your Policy?

Sure, hemlines are in the right
place. But is it modest?

You can't be modest and fashionable.


Now that the screams of protest have hopefully faded a bit, I'm going to share a few thoughts that I have been mulling around over the last several months.

I have a daughter about six years old. Despite my initial attempts to keep Barbie out of the house, after I decided to change my tactics and let the dolls into the home, she has developed a fascination with Barbies. I have also purchased several Barbie movies, which both of my daughters love. They're not as bad as you'd think. But, predictably, fashion plays a part in all of the stories. Several months ago, she expressed a desire to be a fashionista/model/rock star when she grows up. (The exact title changes, but the idea is the same.) I had a problem with this, but couldn't put my finger on exactly why. At first.

Who wants to waste time
tugging at hemlines?

When I was a teen I rolled my skirt tops like most girls whose parents didn't let them wear whatever they wanted, but relatively speaking I have always been fairly modest and largely unconcerned with fashion. As long as the colors don't clash and the clothes are comfortable, I'm good. It hasn't hurt that I have never been anything close to runway model material, nor that I always had tomboy tendencies. I rarely have a desire to wear anything that requires maintenance. Never having really challenged the LDS standards of modesty, I didn't have an informed testimony of it, just a trusting one. Knowing I'd have to present a good case to my daughters, I decided it was about time I developed one.

Enter Beauty Redefined. Lindsay and Lexie, the founders of BR, conducted a training study in which I volunteered to take part. I wanted to gain some tools to teach my daughters to love their bodies for what they can do, not for what they look like. And I wasn't sure how. The principles of BR are values that I have gravitated towards over the years. I didn't think it would change how I feel about the objectification problem, or that participating in the study would impact me as much as it has.

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