Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mormon Women and the Priesthood

The topic in Relief Society today was Mormon Women and the Priesthood. Admittedly, I immediately tuned out. These lessons seldom hold much value for me and it's easier and more comfortable if I just sit there quietly and read something on my phone.

At five minutes in, however, I learned that our teacher had other things in mind. She took a deep breath and then, with hands visibly shaking, dove head first into a conversation I never thought I'd see instigated--the very current topic of the "ordain women" movement that is happening within the Church. Since this movement (I believe) began in Seattle, it's no surprise that we're all familiar. To have have such a controversial topic brought up so directly was a breath of fresh air.

Well, sort of.

I certainly did a lot of breathing. Mostly of the calming variety.

Nearly immediately a woman visiting from out of state (no, not Utah) raised her hand and uttered the oft repeated justification that "women have the gift of Motherhood, and men have been given the gift of the Priesthood." The implication here is twofold: (1) all righteous women are mothers; and (2) shut up and accept your role--you're not getting the priesthood, so here's a consolation prize, but we'll tell you it's the other way around so you can pretend to feel good about it. In case you can't tell, I hate that saying. I hate it so much, in fact, that I audibly coughed/choked when she said it. Not surprisingly, I didn't feel comfortable countering her point. The Mormon Church, is, after all, a Conservative religion and a much safer haven for conservatives to voice their opinions than it is for liberals.

I took comfort in the fact that I was sitting next to a good friend who is similarly liberated, childless, and disinterested in children as I. We muttered things to each other under our breaths as I resisted the urge to get up and walk out of the class. Thankfully, the winds soon turned to how to talk to "our" children (both daughters and sons) about why women don't hold the priesthood. It was uplifting to hear that many women struggle with how to address it (thus, implicitly, struggle with the concept itself).

However, my friend, not known for her tact, couldn't let the comment just slide, so she raised her hand and, with impressive decorum, said unsatisfactory words which attempted to address the earlier comment. I honestly don't remember what she said, but it wasn't, I felt, enough.

Ultimately, I couldn't stay silent any longer. I raised my hand and, when called upon, offered two separate comments. But not before my companion exhaled, "finally" under her breath.

The first: If we look in the scriptures in the Old Testament we find six distinct references to "prophetesses". Six. The New Testament gives us two. The Book of Mormon also offers two (though, one is in reference to Isiah's wife, so not quite distinct). These are women who weren't just cool chicks. They were women who were given the title of "Prophetess." We also have stories in our own recent history of pioneer women exercising the priesthood worthily and without rebuke. So, why, now, do we not ordain women. Is it doctrine? Or is it tradition? I have my own opinion on the matter, and was quick to point out that this discussion was, perhaps, not the place to address it, but rather something we should ponder ourselves. Also, let's think about how much of a big deal these women must have been to make it through all the editing and washing that has taken place over the millennia. Clearly they were a big enough deal that after all the cutting and removing being done the editors (possibly begrudgingly) felt they had to leave in at least one line mentioning the status of these women.

The second, and this was the one I was most nervous about, went roughly like this (trust me, it was less eloquent and there was a surprising amount of blubbering and many more words): "Equating motherhood to the priesthood is a common comparison made in the church. Possibly because it's easy. It's easy to say "men have this and women have this." However (as far as I know), it is not doctrine. As a woman who is not a mother, and will never be, it hurts my soul to hear this comparison. What you're saying is that because, for whatever reason, I cannot be a mother, I cannot receive all the blessings that others can and that I am, somehow, less worthy in the eyes of the Lord. That is not doctrine. It is hurtful. And it is wrong." (It's important to note here that during all my blubberings I accidentally implied that I am incapable of having children, while what I meant to say was that some women are incapable and others make the choice, but either way the Truth remains the same. Now I'm a little worried that the entire ward thinks I'm barren. It should make for some interesting "motherhood" lessons if nothing else.)

My friend later pointed out that to hold the priesthood in the Mormon church one must be two things: (1) a member; and (2) worthy (and the current third: male). However, to be a mother it is not necessary to be either of those things. Thus, the whole argument is really invalid from the start. I pointed this out after class when the woman who made the comment came up to me to "clarify" her statement.

Also after class I was looped into a number of discussions regarding this subject. The most interesting thing of all was that the first discussion was with a woman who has teenage daughters but for whom I assumed this was not an issue. I learned it is. How little we know and how quick we are to judge. The second discussion was with my friend, our teacher, her mother, and our Relief Society President (who is a very liberated woman). The instructor's mother stood outside our circle and just listened for the majority of our conversation before finally saying words that were music to my ears. She told me that she had frequently heard the comparison and hadn't thought much of it, but now, she's going to go back to her ward and clarify the matter. How wonderful!

The last discussion I had on the subject was with a member of the Bishopric who wasn't in our class but was aware of the topic since they had a similar lesson in their class. He was interested to know if we had broached the subject of ordination and how that had all gone down. I can't remember if his wife was in our class, but I'm sure they had an interesting discussion this evening.

I've also received an email thanking me for addressing the matter. I loved that the woman who sent it, a mother of three, told me that the comparison had never sat well with her and thanked me for clarifying why.

So, there you have it folks, my thoughts on Mormon Women and the Priesthood, and the comparison to motherhood and priesthood, shared with many tears in my heart. I know I'm not alone in my feelings, and I'm hopefully that my thoughts help change some of the dialog that is so unthinkingly thrown around.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Destinations Weddings

It appears that I've hit the stage in life where my friends all start getting married. I thought I hit that stage while in University, but it turns out when you hang out with single people the glorious cycle repeats itself.

So, now, another set of friends are engaged, and I'm thrilled for them.

In discussing venues they've decided to opt for a destination wedding in a place I'm totally excited to visit: Glacier National Park. The fun thing here is I was trying to fit in a trip to Glacier summer 2013, but life got in the way and I wasn't able to make it happen, so I decided to post-pone it to 2014. Now I don't have to figure out how to fit it in, I'll just go backpacking after the wedding. Yay for that!

Now, for the 'but' (because isn't there always). They're active and seem to like nature enough, but they're not super-duper-crunchy-granola-tree-hugger-outdoors people. Last year when our other friends were getting married I expressed the desire to get married in Yosemite, and, now, here we are, they're getting married in a national park. And, I know I don't have dibs on getting married in the outdoors, and I know I don't have dibs on national parks, and I certainly don't have dibs on a national park that I have never been to, but I still feel a little (admittedly irrationally) like they 'stole' my wedding venue.

Which is even more ridiculous when you consider how amazingly impressively decidedly single I am.

So, yeah, there we are.

Friday, May 10, 2013


This last year has been the worst year of my health in a long time. It started when I developed plantar fasciitis in February and hasn't really let up since. Here's a depressing recap (most of which is covered in previous posts, but just in case you forgot...):

Once I stopped running and had to cut back on biking things just spiraled out of control. I crashed my bike which ended up banging up my knee more than I thought. Then I pulled this and strained that and had a long-running knee issue. I simultaneously fractured my foot and sprained my ankle in the summer. I rang in the new year year with impressively horrible back spasms. The lead up to this summer hasn't been much better. Chronic knee pain flares up every now and again. But, I'm feeling better (I tell myself), so I have started leisurely walking to slowly work back up to jogging—which has lead to foot pain. When I ride my bike more than 20 minutes my toes go numb. I'm terrified to lower my riding position down to a more aggressive angle lest I anger the back spasm gods. And I've gained back nearly every pound I've lost over the last three years of hard work and exercise. This last week my knee pain has been so bad that I've caught myself letting escape involuntary vocal whimpers.

I think you'd be surprised if I haven't had some pretty awesome spells of exercise-less induced depression around the whole thing.

And I want to complain. I want to be vocal and bitter and angry and have my friends nod sympathetically and not necessarily offer suggestions but just listen to me.

But I can't.

Because in doing so, I'd be the biggest jerk in the entire world.

Why? In October one of my good friends was biking to work and was t-boned by an SUV when the driver ran a stop sign. In addition to the usual road rash, she broke both wrists and her knee. Getting back on the bike has been a painful challenge every step of the way. She has had ups and downs, and hope and depression. She's had physical therapy and surgeries. And more surgeries. And lots of narcotics. And through it all she has put on a brave face. But she's depressed. And she should be. She was doing nothing wrong and her quality of life was stolen from her in one brief moment because some lady couldn't pause at a stop sign long enough to look both ways before crossing a 5-lane street. She's had to watch friends keep riding and others take up racing. Right after she was hit I finally got my new cross bike and took up cyclocross racing—something we had been headed towards together. And, now summer is here and she just went through another round of surgery. I think it is completely safe to say that her situation is orders of magnitude worse than mine.

But, despite the perspective that should (and occasionally does) bring, I still can't do the things I was able to do 18 months ago.

But I can't complain. I have it way better than my friend. And, thus, my frustration and depression is unjust and shouldn't be mentioned.

I have another friend who sometimes asks me how I'm feeling about what's going on with myself and all I can say is, "It sucks, but I feel guilty if I complain," and then I try to not complain. I appreciate her asking, but I worry that she's judging me.

I suppose it doesn't help that I'm pushing myself to be more active than I probably should be, so it doesn't appear that things are as bad as they really are. But I know if I become sedentary I'll just slip back into a dark place, and I can't go there again.

So, I push on. I grit my teeth (both figuratively and literally sometimes) and do things I probably oughtn't. And I brush it off. And, if anyone asks, I'm doing ok. Still a little achy, but ok.

And I swallow my bitterness and frustration and complaints. Because all of that isn't nearly as bad as the guilt I have to live with when I compare.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Year in Review

As I've been thinking about how I would sum up 2012, all I can think of is how I've been side-lined most of the year with injuries that kept my activity level at an all time restricted low.

I didn't ride the STP.

I didn't run a half marathon.

Or a full.

I didn't finish the cross season strong.

I haven't been able to run since February.

Or ride my bike for 3 weeks.

Going up and down stairs is frequently challenging.
Getting off the couch or out of bed is a laughable offense.

Bending over to tie my shoes takes 4 times longer than normal.

But, focusing on the negative means that I forget the positives.

I backpacked in Yosemite for a week.

I started racing cyclocross.
I tried a new type of yoga.

I hiked up to my favorite hut twice.

I went snowshoeing a few times.

I backpacked in the Angeles National Forest for a long weekend.

I took a great many day-hikes in various parts of Washington state.

Much less active than I would have liked, for sure, but I still did some cool things.

Aside from my activity level, here's the year in recap:
Left my job at a huge company for a mini-retirement.
Went on a brief walk-about (see Yosemite).
Came back to WA and took a job at a small company I had never heard of before.
Fell in love with said company.
And, to end the year, I had a brief, ill-advised, initially doomed, whirlwind office romance with a boy nine years my junior.

2013 can only be better, right?


Sunday, August 19, 2012


By now you've figured out that I don't tend to get too terribly political over here. I can remain silent no longer.

In a time where the FBI has (finally!) redefined rape to expand the scope from just the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to a more broad definition designed to include men (in part: “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim (from the DOJ))," various men in politics are seeking to redefine it in quite the opposite direction.

Let's start with Ron Paul and his Feb 3rd CNN interview when he stated that if it's an "honest rape" he'd allow the woman to take the morning after pill. Go to CNN for video of the bizarre mangling of logic that Paul goes through to arrive at what one blog commenter labeled "Schrodinger's abortion". On one hand, I could kiss that commenter for their observation. On the other, let's go back to the wording "honest rape." Is there such a thing as "dishonest rape"? It's not like people accidentally rape someone. Or lie about how they did rape someone when, in reality, they didn't. So, basically, what we have is (according to Paul's interview) a woman who, at 7 months in, decides she doesn't want to be pregnant any more and so waltz's into the doctor's office for the super trendy 28th week abortion. Uh... yeah.

Now on to this afternoon's comments from Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri. Today Akin announced to the world that "if it's a legitimate rape the female body has way to try to shut that whole thing [pregnancy] down". Wow. Just wow. I'd like to know when this little miracle of evolution came along. It must just be an American thing, since there are still women in war-savaged countries bearing the babies of their enemies. I'd comment on that happening in America, but, apparently I'm mistaken and those women haven't been "legitimately raped." Clearly they were all "illegitimately raped," which is how they got pregnant.

Allow me an open letter to the Conservatives in this country:
Just because you don't like abortion doesn't mean you can redefine rape to make it so that no one could possibly be legally raped thus allowing yourself to get out of that pesky moral loophole that we all love (life of the mother, incest, and rape). The thing about rape is: it's inconvenient. It only happens when we don't want it. Trust me, if we could just clap our hands and wish very hard to make rape never happen again I promise you that every woman alive would participate in a global clap-a-thon. And, let's say that you do manage to redefine out rape, how are you going to define out incest or what the "life of the mother" means?