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Full text of "Exponent II"

EXPONENT II 
Post Office Box 128 
Arlington MA 02174-0002 



B^^^'TO"" 



First Hands and Backs, Now Feet and Voices 



Huring my years in the Church, I 
have often heard light, slightly 
ironic, comical references to 
Mormon women playing such 
roles as the backs and hands with 
which the work of the Church is accomplished 
or the neck that mms the head [of the house— her 
husband]. And I know that, at times, I have even 
participated in the almost conspiratorial smiling 
and nodding of heads that sometimes accompa- 
nies such references to jokes based on our 
common experience. I believe that the time is 
here for this joke to be over. 

We women of the Mormon Church have 
much more to contribute than just our behind- 
the-scenes support. We want to use our voices 
to help make the organizational and cultural 
decisions that create and influence the 
"dailiness" of our lives in the Church structure. 
To participate fully in the building of the King- 
dom of God, we need to strengthen our voices as 
we speak truth and bear witness, and then our 
voices need to be accepted and our experience 
incorporated into the fabric of our culture. 
I have just re-read the editorials of 
Exponent's former editors from the last three 
issues (Volume 19, Numbers 1: Claudia Bush- 
man; 2, Nancy T. Dredge; and 3, Susan Howe). 
By reading them one right after the other, I came 
to understand the evolution and progression of 
the women of the Church in a new way. Our 
voices are getting stronger; however, the accep- 
tance of and respect for what we have to say is 
not increasing at the same rate. 

Exponent II began as a place where 
Mormon women could exchange everything 
from their latest insights and recipes to their 
testimonies and spiritual experiences. Over the 
years and under the nurturing guidance of the 
editors and staff, the publication has developed a 
stronger voice in its Mormon world as the voices 
of those who write have gotten stronger. 

Together, we have supported each other 
through such difficult discussions as depression, 
emotional and physical/sexual abuse, drug and 
alcohol abuse, the effects of unrighteous domin- 
ion, abortion, being single in a married church, 
infertility. We have talked honestly and from 
our own experience about many topics that our 
culture has previously considered off limits, 
sometimes even a threat to testimonies. 

What we have learned in the speaking is 
that we have ideas to contribute, experiences 
from which others can learn, opinions worth 
being heard, and spiritual gifts that bless others 
as well as ourselves. And, through it all, we 
continue to bear witness to the principles that 
sustain us and do all we can to shoulder each 



other's burdens by listening to and believing 
each other's stories. 

For some of us, Exponent II has been the 
only place in our Mormon world in which we 
felt safe enough to be honest and open. For 
others of us, our culnire's efforts to maintain the 
stanis quo as the only way to keep our Mormon 
world safe and comfortable has meant every- 
thing through the spectrum from ignoring us 
when we speak to excommunicating us so that 
we cannot speak. 

But from what 1 am hearing and reading, 
particularly in a number of the essays in this 
issue, those days will soon be over. We are 
beginning to speak with strength and clarity 
wherever we find ourselves. We are exploring 
who we are, not just the roles that we are asked 
to play, and we are insisting that we be heard 
and recognized for who we are. 



Relegating us to 
one or two accept- 
able roles and re- 
fusing to allow us 
to participate in the 
decision-making 
bodies of the 
Church keeps us 
"as little children" 
in a humiliating— 
not a humble — way. 



Unfortunately for our community, when 
we are not heard or recognized, some of us seem 
to have only one last option. In increasing 
numbers, we — particularly those of us in our late 
teens and twenties — are voting with our feet. 
We are leaving, choosing not to participate in a 
system that does not encourage us to participate 
fully, that does not validate us by respecting 
what we have to offer, or that does not extend to 
us the respect that we are finding elsewhere. 

I believe that this movement away is a 
terrible loss, a loss that can be avoided. First, 
we need to recognize and respect the diversity 
and breadth of Mormon women's experience. 
Relegating us to one or two acceptable roles and 
refusing to allow us to participate in the deci- 
sion-making bodies of the Church keeps us "as 



little children" in a humiliating — not a humble — 
way. How can we be expected to negate our 
own experiences, giving up our self-esteem and 
self-respect, by continually sitting and waiting to 
be told what to do and when by those "in 
authority" over us? There are times and places 
for all of the children of Gcd to be His obedient 
servants, to be subservient to His authority; no 
one should expect that being woman means 
always being obedient and subservient to 
everyone else. 

Second, to make a place for women's 
voices, we need to rid our culture of what 
appears to be the prevailing feeling about those 
who speak up, who ask questions, or who 
question a decision or policy: The Church is 
true; love it or leave it. Blind, arbitrary accep- 
tance does not enhance personal growth or 
access to personal revelation; raising and 
resolving personal questions does. Our assum- 
ing that those who question are somehow less 
than faithful is destructive to each of us as well 
as to our community of Saints. I believe that by 
being willing to allow each other to ask the 
questions and seek the answers together we can 
make the Kingdom of God progress. 

And last, we need to change our per- 
spective and to listen. We have much to learn 
from the voices of Mormon women, lessons 
about — among many others — relationship 
building, the true love of Christ, the pain and 
rewards of solitude, the joys of repentance and 
forgiveness, the struggle that is compromise, the 
strength of collaboration, the exaltation in 
steadfastness. Asking so many of us to remain 
silent about the most important aspects of our 
lives is creating a sickness that can only be 
healed by moving away from the source. We 
cannot afford to lose these voices, the lessons 
that they teach, and the witnesses that they bear. 

Exponent II will continue to make a 
place for us to share what we know and believe, 
to speak honestly from our own experience; 
however, I believe that we need to ask, even 
insist, that we be able to do the same in our 
Relief Society meetings, in our sacrament 
meeting talks, in our bishop's interviews, in our 
ward and stake councils. I believe that as 
Mormon women we understand that we are 
responsible for ourselves and our salvations, but 
we also understand that taking that responsibility 
requires that our voices be heard as we speak 
about how our lives are lived here on earth. ♦ 



EXPONENT II 



The Well-tempered Feminist 



slopped by my parents' house 

Iloday after work. I live close by 
again, after several years away; 
i, I can drop by almost any 

empty Tupperware that Mom had filled with 
Chnstmas leftovers. She deliberately cooks far 
too much and then insists that we would do her a 
favor by taking some ham with us, and just a 
few potatoes, too. 

I had called at noon to let Mom know 
that I was coming. She wasn't home when I 
called, but my father said he would leave her a 
message. When I got there, she happened to 
have a warm batch of my favorite Rice Krispie 
cookies on the counter. As I pulled off my 
raincoat, she offered to make a cup of tea, and I 
quickly accepted because, after all, I didn't want 
to drive home in the downpour. We sat together 
in the warmth of the kitchen, and 1 told her the 
latest anecdotes from school. When I am the 
hapless protagonist, she laughs as people laugh 
at characters who flail momentarily on the road 
to glory. Even when I am the antagonist or 
victim, she assures me that she is proud of me 
and that all my character flaws, my inadequate 
misguided words or deeds, are the inevitable 
consequence of genes inherited from her. 

1 don't believe her, but I am touched that 
she wants to absolve me of wrong and challenge 
any detractor. If she could, she would absorb 
my mistakes and their attendant pain like a paper 
towel, wiping away any trace of stickiness. 

When it was nearly dinner time, I put 
my mug in the dishwasher and pulled on my 
raincoat. Driving home, I thought about her 
greeting me at the end of the day with warm tea 
and fresh cookies and an affirmation that my 
every action is one she stands behind. I want to 
be this kind of woman. 

These thoughts always jar me, I think, 
because they accent the truth that never fails to 
startle me: I am a recanting feminist. I believe 
in equal opportunity and pay and shared domes- 
tic responsibilities and all that, but I believe in 
some other things, too. 

I believe that caring for people, their 
feelings, their minds, and their bodies is impor- 
tant. I believe that there is dignity in serving 
others. I believe that busy-ness is not inherently 
fulfilling. I believe that listening and affirming 
toward the end of a discouraging day is divine. I 
believe that cooking for people, serving them 
nourishing food in a warm kitchen, is an often 
unparalleled act of love, a feat of fmesse and 



skill, not to be scoffed at or delegated thought- 

I have been a scoffer and a delegator. A 
thoughtless one. I have supposed that there was 
something inferior about serving other people 
and something powerful about being served. In 
the not-too-distant past, 1 have spoken loudly 
and often about the lines I draw for myself, the 
boundaries beyond which I would not go. I 



I believe that listen- 
ing and affirming 
toward the end of a 
discouraging day is 
divine. I believe 
that cooking for 
people ... is an 
often unparalleled 
act of love. 



thought that career-minded women, intelligent 
women, spoke and acted this way. They drew 
lines ("I will not be the only cook in this house- 
hold," "I will not take your shirts to the clean- 
ers," "I will not shop for your mother's birth- 
day"), and the people they loved learned to 
accommodate these guidelines. Smart women 
measured and calculated and kept track so as not 
to be caught in the gummy and tenacious web of 
husbands, colleagues, employers, friends, and 
children. I envisioned fulfillment in carefully 
distributing my time and commitment in nickels 
and dimes to people who were demonstrably 
giving back in at least equal quantities. 

It did not occur to me that there is a 
smallness and privation in this kind of thinking. 
I did not think that it could make me its victim, 
that I could be other than the savvy player of a 
flawed game. I did not think that my willing- 
ness to give would determine my ability to 

Before I was married, I had specific 
ideas about my willingness to give: any future 
husband and I would split fifty-fifty on domestic 



chores, fifty-fifty on breadwinning, fifty-fifty on 
child rearing, and so on. I announced my rules 
loudly and often, and Kyle married me anyway. 
I figured he knew what he was getting into. 

He didn't. Neither did I, although I 
didn't complain that he was making more money 
as a computer manufacturer than I was as a high 
school teacher. 

Six years later, we're still married, 
partly because we've evolved into a comfortable 
pattern. I cook; he cleans. I buy the groceries; 
he pays the bills. I tend the flowers; he prunes 
the shrubs. We take turns doing the laundry, 
with my turn coming more often than his, at 
least as I reckon Samrdays. 

We have fallen into very traditional 
patterns, and I am not displeased by them. They 
seem to work for us. They foster peace and 
stability, commodities I come to value more than 
any nitpicking fairness we could have legislated 
for ourselves. It occurs to me that the sum really 
is greater than the parts, that a holistic partner- 
ship may transcend piecemeal equality. Over 
time, we build equity together, as one might in a 
home, through seasons that blur together in an 
indistinguishable but satisfying memory. 

I begin to see the feminism that the 
student me embraced as limiting and restrictive. 
If I make the foundation for my life a series of 
boundaries, I limit my choices for giving and 
receiving. Worse, I define myself as unchang- 
ing, expecting that others must modify their 
lives to accommodate my self-image. 

This approach is petty and inflexible in 
ways I would not appreciate in a spouse or 
colleague. Under my feminist credo, the small 
joys — the hot teas and warm cookies on rainy 
January afternoons — disappear. There is no 
room, no interest. Tea and cookies are time- 
consuming and demeaning, things women do 
only if they aren't successful professionals with 
busy personal agendas. 

I think it is not uncommon for personal 
philosophies to evolve over time. Change may 
be a sign of thoughtfulness or expedience or 
uncertainty or maturity. Whatever it is, it swells 
in me. As I recant the rigid rules of my past, 
broadening the definition of the woman that I 
want to be, I imagine that I finally fill out, 
softening into a less strident self 

I described this metamorphosis to my 
mother over tea. and she smiled and said noth- 
ing. She always says the right thing. ♦ 



VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



Take It Like a Man 



hy not? After all, hadn't I been 
in on the fixing of Thanksgiving 
dinner for over sixty years? 
Had there ever been one that I 
I didn't have a hand in? A big 
hand? And yet, I liked it, always had, the 
preparation, first the shining of silver, setting of 
the table with linen and goblets and cornucopia, 
stuffing the turkey — remember when we had to 
singe and pull pin feathers and extricate the 
giblets? 

And the dressing, dry not soggy but 
light thanks to beaten eggs and crumbs ground 
from homemade bread. And sweet 
potatoes candied with oodles of butter 
and brown sugar — oh, and first the salt 
and pepper to cut the too-sweet possi- 
bility. And rolls and pumpkin pies and 
cranberry salad and stuffed celery and 
green olives wrapped in bacon — after, 
of course, the bottling of fresh cran- 
berry sauce the night before. And the 
potatoes and gravy, each smooth as 
driven snow or water over a spillway. 
Sometimes carrot pudding with lemon 
sauce instead of or, more likely, in 
addition to the pie. 

And then doing the dishes, 
every supply of china and glassware, to 
say nothing of pans and roaster, pulled 
out of cupboards, brought up from the 
fruit room, sometimes only for this 
setting of a meal for maybe twenty or 
more depending on what relatives or 
acquaintances might enjoy Thanksgiv- 
ing at that dining room table with all its 
leaves in. Plus usually another set up in 



aglas 



oof milk. 



All day and into the night it 
took. With me always at the hub, even 
in these past few years of often cel- 
ebrating at the home of a daughter and, 
lately, with Mel loving to do the turkey 
on the grill outside between watching a 
game and the news and reading on the 
couch. Nice. Good cooks, my five 
daughters and my one-specialty hus- 
band, and the girls great putters-on of 
Thanksgiving dinners. But I have never not 
been in on all of it. Even when visiting in 
California. 

Until this year [1992]. 

We'd talked, as probably most women 
do, about the difference between what men do 
on a holiday — any holiday — and what women 
do. It's mostly food and getting to it that makes 
the biggest difference. From the 4th of July to 



Christmas or Easter, a cook-out in the canyon or 
a dinner on the patio, who is where for what? 

This Thanksgiving I got to find out— 
firsthand — because I was invited, instead of 
staying home to work on the dinner, to go with 
my two tall sons-in-law to play golf the entire 
afternoon. 

"Go, Mother," my daughters urged, as 
well as my husband, who thinks golf is a waste 
of everything. "You deserve it. We'll have the 
whole dinner ready when you get back." Heck, 
with an offer like that, who but the most duty- 
bound could resist? Besides, weren't we on 




This Thanks- 
giving ... I was 
invited, instead of 
staying home to 
work on the dinner, 
to go with my two 
tall sons-in-law to 
play golf the entire 
afternoon. 



vacation? In California, having flown away 
from record snows in Utah? Why not? 

So we did, the three of us. We played — 



a gorgeous cc 



It, of the 



high surf and seagulls and the sound of seals 
barking off shore. And then into deep woods 
with fairways cutting swaths of green, sand traps 
and water hazards configured like a gardener's 
dream, squirrels and deer and birds accompany- 



ing our balls into the benign rough. Not bad. 
The crowning glory: one son-in-law was a pro, 
in on running the place, and got us on free — the 
green fee (ordinarily $175!), car, my rented 
clubs, and all. A kick on any day — a riot on a 
holiday that I had nothing to do with except hit a 
ball, laugh, and visit with the boys that were 
mine to relish from the bounty of my five 
daughters, two of them home making Thanks- 
giving happen without me. 

We played till dark — fourteen holes, 
more than I'd played consecutively in three 
years. And we arrived back in the kitchen to the 

holiday cooking, five children, four 
under four, racing from backyard 
trampoline to upstairs bunks to jump 
from, a baby being fed a bottle by 
grandpa watching TV. and one seven- 
year-old girl setting the play table from 
the patio for the under-fours. 

The dinner was a triumph, 
Mel's nirkey was never more moist or 
flavorful from his peanut oil basting. 
Every dish steaming or plate delectable 
with hors d'oeuvres made us golfers 
glad that we'd saved up for the feast by 
not eating breakfast. All we had to do 
now was sit down and enjoy the relaxed 
talk as well as the wondrous meal. 

Except. . .Except. . .While I did 
think how nifty, just to waltz in with 
nothing more than a "When will it be 
ready?" And I did love eating someone 
else's cooking. And there could be no 
doubt that it was fun not to have been 
the cook. But, . .As 1 stood for an hour 
at the sink clearing up, dishwasher 
notwithstanding, as the piles and more 
piles of dishes and pans accmed with the 
clearing. I confess that for a minute. I 
sort of missed having been in on the 
preparation — better far than the clearing 
up. 

But then 1 thought: Who am I 
kidding? I had a great time out there on 
the golf course. With those dariings who 
invite, even kid. and push me to play 
And the clearing up takes only about 
one-tenth the time of getting it all on. 
Maybe the old women's movement 

aying still applies: What every woman needs is 

, wife. 

And then I smiled, not just to myself 

res, it is not bad to be a man on a holiday. Let's 

ee, what's the next one— Christmas? Skiing, 



Keeping My Head Above Water 



t's a smooth take-off, and the 
plane climbs rapidly into the 
blue. How could the sky be 
nearly cloudless, when the 
flooded ground below shows 
evidence of many rains? It's the summer of 
1993, and I've been flying out of St. Louis on 
business almost weekly, watching the Missouri 
and Mississippi Rivers swell their banks and 
eventually fuse into a giant lake at their junction. 
I've been flying so much, in fact, that I've barely 
been home to catch bits and pieces of the 
extensive news coverage that tells everyone 
exactly when and where "sandbaggers are 

Earlier today, I crowded in with my 
fellow travelers around a TV in the airport 
lounge, witnessmg an entire farm, from out- 
buildings to stately farmhouse, crumble under 
the force of the floodwaters rushing through a 
broken levee. 

Dozens of similar dramas have been 
unfolding around me for months; yet, I feel 
curiously detached from these events. Here I 
am, heading to Indianapolis for a week-long 
conference, while the Mississippi is cresting and 
creating havoc in St. Louis. As a pharmacist 
with multi-task responsibilities in a drug com- 
pany, I'm either on the road or busy catching up 
at home and preparing for the next trip. Conse- 
quently, I haven't found enough time to do my 
part in the flood relief efforts. Besides, after 
dragging computer equipment and suitcases 
through airports and medical centers, I'm 
dubious of hefting sandbags and further aggra- 
vating my lower back problem. 

Staring out the plane window at the 
devastation below, I chastise myself for such 
selfishness. Surely the minor pain and inconve- 
nience would be rewarded in the eternities. 1 
must do something'. Guilt begins gnawing at me 
again, as does some other frustration I can't 
quite identify. 



Those were my thoughts as I left St. Louis that 
August day. When I returned home at the end of 
the week, I had Saturday off; so, I hopped into 
my car and headed towards a town in southern 
Missouri, where the crest was expected to hit 
later than it had in St. Louis. But I was too late 
for sandbagging — any structure that could 
possibly be saved had already been reinforced, 
and the river had crested the previous night. 

This moment, though, was my most 
extensive first-hand look at the floods, and the 
impact was far greater up close than when 
observing it from above. My mouth dropped 
open as I passed highway signs partially sub- 
merged, farm machinery stranded on patches of 
dry land, rooftops the only visible portion of 
buildings, and sandbags holding back the water 
from the edge of the Interstate. 

I'd brought my video camera, and I 
veered off at an exit to stop and shoot some 



footage. The exit ended abruptly, at the edge of 
a flooded field; so, I abandoned the car and 
hiked the other direction along a dirt (or rather, 
mud) road. 

I passed a machine shop with its bays 
under water; then, I noticed a sandbagged house 
surrounded by a moat. A man and his son were 
maneuvering their motorboat up to the front 
door, bringing in supplies; it was a perfect photo 
opportunity. 

I raised my camera, then quickly 
lowered it again. I couldn't blatantly intrude on 
their troubles that way. Instead, I waved and 
called out a few condolences (as if anything I 
could say would improve the situation). 

Feeling discouraged and overwhelmed 
by a sense of profound loss, I returned to the 
grey Crown Victoria that was one of my com- 
pany perks, wrestled it around in the small patch 
of dry pavement, and drove the wrong way up 
the exit towards the Interstate. Wondering how 
this disaster could have happened with my being 
only peripherally aware of it, I vowed to be 
more involved with the world around me, to not 
let my job take up so much time, and to priori- 
tize the things that were truly important. 

Two days later, I tracked down the 
relocated Salvation Army warehouse, now in an 
abandoned grocery store becau.se the original 
building was under water Their greatest need 
for help that day was packaging together as- 
sorted cleaning supplies for the cleanup efforts. 
People were beginning to return to their homes 
and were now facing the daunting prospect of 
scrubbing and sanitizing whatever the floods had 
left behind. 

The hours passed quickly as I sorted and 
sealed boxes of donated goods, side-by-side with 
the retired men, the new mothers, and the 
playful teenagers who were cheerfully using 
some of their pent-up energy in a good cause. 



My 



appeased, but something deeper was still bother- 
ing me. What was wrong in my life if major 
worid and local events could barely penetrate 
my consciousness? Why had it particulariy 
disturbed me to watch the sandbaggers on the 
news racing the rising river to save a home, 
knowing the home would probably flood again 
during the next rainstorm? 

Memories of the disaster continued to 
cloud my mind: A favorite restaurant of mine, 
coincidentally shaped like a boat and named 
"Noah's Ark," becoming a centralized point for 
volunteers to gather. A young man trying to 
stay and save what he could from his business, 
despite the warnings to "get out immediately," 
and eventually being rescued by helicopter from 
the top of the building. ...His mother, in another 
city, watching the news and recognizing her son 
as the man being airlifted ...Countless people 
risking their lives to save pets and material 
goods. ...Sand becoming scarce and out-of-state 
companies charging elevated prices for the 
commodity. These images and more were now 
permanently engraved on my heart and mind. 



As I thought about how little time I'd 
spent helping others through this crisis and how 
much my current position drained me, I reas- 
sessed my job choice. I soon quit to take a 
medical publishing job that would keep me 
closer to home, one that would preserve some of 
my energy for other goals. 

But within a few months, I once again 
found myself involved in a project that monopo- 
lized my nights and weekends. At the start of 
April, I was looking forward to a relaxing spring 
and summer, but next thing I knew it was 
August, and I was still looking forward to the 

Good grief, I thought, I don't even have 
kids, and my days are already filled to the brim. 
How could I ever take on the responsibilities of 
children and other commitments? I could barely 
keep my own head above water Were extra 
projects and expectations being piled on me 
because I was a single employee? Or, was 1 still 
struggling with the challenge of putting myself 
and my plans first, of not letting others unfairly 
encroach upon my time or sway me from my 
goal? 

As I tried to sort out the reasons that my 
life was in such a shambles, I remembered 
another experience that I'd had while working 
for the drug company. To attend a one-day 
business meeting, I had flown from St. Louis to 
Detroit, rented a car, driven to upstate Michigan, 
and boarded a ferry to reach Mackinaw Island- 
all this effort just to spend one night on a 
secluded island at the discounted group rate of 
$250 per person. As it turned out, two of the 
most crucial people for my discussion group 
weren't even there; so, no issues could be 
resolved. 

What a waste! A few days later, back in 
St. Louis, I was waiting in line at a Walgreen's 
pharmacy, and an elderly woman ahead of me 
seemed to be slowing down the line consider- 
ably. She was asking the clerk to add up the cost 
of various combinations of her prescnptions, to 
see which ones she could afford to get that day 
and which would have to wait until next week. 
The one drug that she wanted to be sure she got, 
to treat her ulcer, was also the most expensive of 
all her prescriptions. 

Guess what? That ulcer drug was the 
one made by the company that had just sent me 
on that lavish, useless trip to Michigan. I felt 
like the world's biggest hypocrite. It went 
against my principles to spend money without 
accomplishing something, and it wasn't any less 
painful when it didn't come out of my own 
pocket. Besides, my goal in becoming a phar- 
macist was to help people gain better health, and 
I wasn't anywhere near reaching that goal. 

Although I felt partially responsible for 
this woman's hardship, I also had a feeling that 
she wouldn't be in any better financial shape the 
following week, or month, or year She was 
essentially using sandbags to momentarily patch 
up her situation and keep the bill collectors at 

{Continued on next page) 



VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



Keeping My Head 
Above Water 

(Continued from preceeding page) 

bay; matters for her would probably gel worse 

before they got better 

I suddenly realized I was doing the exact 
same thing in my own life, only in non-financial 
matters! I was responding to seemingly urgent 
problems by finding temporary fixes for them, 
not concentrating on the root of the problem. 
Then, like so many flooded-out homeowners, I 
was going back and rebuilding in that very same 
place. 

I reflected on this further while taking a 
few days off from work. I read a couple of the 
books I'd been wanting to read, visited friends 
and relatives in case they'd forgotten me by 
now, sorted as many of my "misc. junk" boxes 
as I could, put pictures into photo albums, and 
began a new exercise program, all the while 
reminding myself that I'd better get moving on 
these personal goals and projects because I'd 
soon be back at work and wouldn't have time for 
anything like this. 

Each day, I felt very unsettled, and 
certainly not very relaxed, as I'd prioritize my 
list, cry "On your mark, get set, go!", and 
off. It seemed I had never broken out of the 
labits I had in college when the things that I 
really wanted to do always waited "until this 
round of tests is over" and when I had promised 
myself to push my physical limits "just this one 
le, then I'll never stay up all night study- 
ing again." 

I was still constantly using sandbags to 
plug up the holes in my life, without ever asking 
myself what it was I was trying to preserve. 
Deep down, it hadn't really mattered to me if I 
stayed at the top of my class or if I got a 3.3% 
raise instead of a 3.2% raise at my job; yet, I felt 
compelled to do my best at everything. Some- 
thing worthwhile is worth trying to save. 

But I needed to choose more wisely, 
taking time to judge what was truly worthwhile. 
The "urgent" problems others handed me at 
work, my own tendency to prioritize whatever 
was in closest proximity at home (the pile of 
papers on the coffee table commanded more of 
my attention than the family history books I'd 
neatly shelved until I had time to read them). I 
needed to change these patterns. 

I thought of the obvious analogy, that of 
building my life on rock rather than on sand. 
My sporadic Church attendance and half-hearted 
attempts at tithing and fasting haven't provided a 
very strong foundation, and I'm now trying to 
re-establish those basic principles. But even a 
house built on solid rock can be flooded. I've 
got to move my home to safer, higher ground. 



keeping my distance from those influences that 
encourage me to achieve temporal milestones. I 
need to leave more quickly when I hear the 
warning "get out immediately," departing more 
rapidly from business or personal situations that 
are dragging me under, instead of investing four 
years in a bad marriage or spending time with 
acquaintances who consistently undermine my 
self-confidence. 

Anticipating possible funire crises, I 
should fill up a few sandbags every day, rather 
than hurriedly constructing an entire wall when 
an emergency strikes. I want to seek confi- 
dence-building activities and truly rejuvenating 
leisure time and build myself up on a regular 
basis so that I'll be strong enough to weather any 

To prioritize my time and monetary 
investments, I'm asking myself "If I had to 
leave my home due to a flood, what would I 
choose to carry with me?" Material goods per 
se aren't a big temptation for me, but I tend to 
accumulate newspaper clippings, old school 
papers, clothes that no longer fit, telephone and 
electric bills I paid years ago, and other stuff that 
weighs me down. I'm trying to limit myself to a 
few memorable items. 

It's not easy to re-channel the path I've 
cut over the last several years — when I felt 
constantly on the edge of a crisis, perpetually in 
danger of being dragged under by the fast- 
flowing pace of today's world. But when the 
pressures of perfection and performance con- 
tinue to wash over me, I plan to stay standing. 



Just last week, I went airborne again, flying for 
pleasure rather than business this time, and 
pressed my face against the scratched-up win- 
dow of a DC- 10. The trees and the crops below 
were beginning to take root again, and houses 
were being rebuilt along the riverbanks, wisely 
raised up on stilts. It was reassuring that some 
degree of normalcy was already returning to a 
place declared a disaster area not long ago. I 
closed my eyes, lowered the seat back, and 
allowed that comforting thought to completely 



Of Myself and Autumn 



Sail Lake City, Utah 



back is stiff leaning as far as 
possible over the stroller, trying 
to keep my head under the 
umbrella while making sure it 
covers the length of Thorn's 
small sleeping body. My back is heavy with rain 
and books, both of which hold me to the leaf 
covered earth and to my fear. It is the first day 
of class, and I am scared to be taking him with 
me; scared the teacher will guffaw and show us 
the door or say even worse; scared that I will 
find out that I really can't have it both ways; be 
with my child and continue my education. I 
want both so desperately that we've left our 
comfortable Draper home and moved to the 
small cinder block apartment on the third floor, 
where our books and our son and our passion for 
learning are about all that will fit. 

But the apartment is not without grace. 
There are trees at every window, sending their 
shadows in to play. Since I was very young, I 
have prayed at an open window, and when there 
are trees at that window, I feel closer to God. 
The trees are in autumn now, and the smell of 
their leaves perfumes our living and the autumn 
wind moves our dreams about, and they dance in 
the small space. And we are happy. 



This time I don't want him to touch my 
breasts. He does it to comfort me from the 
dream, but there is no comfort from the dream or 
from the reality of my breasts. The dreams are 
never the same and always the same: I am 
supposed to nurse my newborn baby, but I keep 
forgetting to nurse, or I can't because my breasts 
won't work. My baby dies; there is my baby 
blue and dead and always people with angry 
faces asking why I let my baby die. I hold my 
baby and cry and apologize for my imperfect 
breasts. 

When I wake, I have one hand on my 
fetus-swollen belly and one hand on my sili- 
cone-swollen breasts, and my first thought is of 
my mother She worships large breasts and 






e afflrmatioi 



luring Relief Society lessons and family 
prayer Mother always lamented the smallness 



of her breasts. I thought she was beautiful, but I 
despaired with her all the same and never 
questioned the celestial large breast. I yearned 
for them for her and then for me. She is my 
escort, and I prostrate in her temple: she takes 
snapshots of me, and we cut my face out of them 
and tape them on magazine-clipped bodies that 
are perfect: 36"-24"-36" affirming the reality of 
my imperfect body: 34"-24"36".When the large 
breasts did not come to me, I was afraid, afraid 
of my unrighteousness and more afraid that 
everyone will see my unrighteousness when they 
see my small breasts. The street slang is "boob 
job," but I prefer the medical term Augmentation 
Mammoplasty because most people have no 
idea what that is. 



They paid me over a hundred dollars an 
hour in New York City. Nema (my first agent) 
told me I was beautiful. Mildred (my second 
agent) told me I was beautiful. My paychecks 
told me I was beautiful. But, I did it anyway: A 
couple of thousand dollars, a couple of scars, 
and I own a couple of silicone implants. Mother 
liked to have my modeling portfolio on the 
living room table, beside her scriptures. All that 
was years ago, before my mission, before him, 
before college. I've looked into having the 
implants taken out, but it is very expensive. 
Now I want my breasts to nurture a child, and I 
am afraid of my unrighteousness, afraid that my 
breasts won't work — my imperfect hallowed, 
hollow breasts. 



The shower is only warm at a quarter of 
five in the morning; so, I get up then I don't 
mind. The Provo Temple across the street to the 
east is framed by autumn trees, and the trees are 
grace to the harsh seventies architecture. I have 
wanted to be here for a very long time, to wear 
this black tag, to teach the gospel in this way, all 
day long every day. 

"Hello, I am Sister Martin, I am a 
missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints. This is my companion, Sister 
Iverson. We would like to share a book with 

I whisper to myself as I dress and tell 
my imaginary contact about Lehi and ships and 
new land and disobedience and redemption. I 
testify of Christ to the imaginary contact and 
feel the realness and goodness of Him wash over 



The long days and the ( 
pattern and the large group meetings and the 
nt pattern and the scriptures and the 
nt pattern and the disgusting smell of 
hominy and the commitment pattern. He is Jack 
Nielsen, my mission president. He is righteous 
and prominent and white and male, and he asks 
me in my first interview why I have come and 



not married. We listen to him speak that 
evening. He is introducing his family: smil- 
ing, heavily made-up wife and seven also 
smiling, also heavily-made-up daughters. I 
can't remember their names. One son, the 
youngest. "I've got eight children. All boys 
except the first seven . . ," He pauses for the 
smiles and laughter, which come. Seven 
smiling heavily made-up female lives/excep- 
tions. And one vicarious womb. And he tries 
to make my mission misery, but he fails. It is 
glorious and difficult and altering and non- 



"Will you marry me?" And we laugh. 
What a silly question. We both know it is silly, 
that our hearts have been married to one 
another for some time now, but the romance of 
this tradition makes us giddy all the same. 
Here in this tiny BYU office, looking out over 
the filthy lake that has the capacity to create 
beautiful sunsets in spite of its filth, we enter 
each other through our eyes and are awed at the 
beauty there. Knowing him is my most sacred 
experience. He is my dearest friend, my 
teacher, my pupil, my playmate, my choice 
with whom to labor and to love. He is my 
solace, my home, my joy. I want us to return 
Home in honor and exaltation, to know joy 
here, and life eternal but there is that part of me 
that is still afraid that we will live, like my 
parents, in silent hate and open misery. It was 
his mother's ring. 1 feel overwhelmed by the 
task of keeping track of such a small, expen- 
sive object for the rest of my life. 

I want to always be joined to him, as I 
am now. I cannot remember now what living 
was before he was part of my living. This 
proposal, this means he is willing to wait for 
me while I serve my mission. If we can make 
it for three years of engagement, perhaps we 
can make it the rest of the way. We are late for 
class. He walks away from me, backward, and 
runs into a tree. Burnished leaves dance and 
drift to the ground around this beautiful, 
clumsy man I love. 



am thirteen, and I am cooking and cleaning 
and raising my parents' children, the youngest 
is six weeks. "Tell people I am sick," she says. 
I understand that this means, "Do not tell 
people I have had a nervous breakdown." My 
eyes are sage green, but all four of them have 
her chocolate eyes. Chocolate eyes crying, 
like hers. Brad has begun to stutter; Melanine 
sleeps with me at night; Tony wants to know 
each morning what I will make for dinner that 
night. He wants to know every detail. We are 
getting ready for school, and I hear him repeat 
the menu over and over: "Grilled cheese 
sandwiches on wheat bread, Campbell's 
chicken noodle soup, salad with tomatoes and 
peas and carrots in it (but I don't have to eat 
the salad if I don't want to), and whatever milk 
is left over from the morning milking. ...Grilled 
cheese sandwiches on wheat bread, 
Campbell's chicken noodle. ." Where is 
Bobby? I've lost him among the other chil- 



/ have secret places in the room that I 
share with my brother under the edge of the 
olive green carpet, between the mirror and the 
back of the dresser, under the pink crocheted 
dress of the doll that mother won 't let us play 
with. I tuck into these secret places all the 
autumn leaves that they will safely hide. 
Mother will throw them out or vacuum them 
up. if she finds them, because she thinks they 
belong outside. And they do. But then I must 
belong outside also, in the eastern wind and 
the Virginia forest. I am too young to care 
about good housekeeping. My world is full of 
the pretending that is in children 's poetry: 
Tony and I spend long afternoons in our own 
enchanted world where we pretend we have 
been left alone by some tragedy and must live 
in the forest. The trees are our home: we live 
off the berries and the leaves. I am certain 
that trees have souls, very old souls, wise and 
nurturing and long suffering, and that in 
autumn they offer their wisdom in golds and 
scarlets given to the wind to give to us. We 
give them names, Tony and I: we speak to 
them, and they hear us. And we are happy. ♦ 



I wake every morning and don't want it to 
be moming. Hit my head on the cold steel of 
the sixth step before I get around to actually 
climbing the spiral staircase, unfinished steel 
spiral staircase, welded poorly, ncer carpeted, 
too narrow. Climbing it makes me dizzy not 
because it is spiral but because it leads to her 
room. Her room with the blue carpet that has 
forgotten to be blue is trying to be yellow-blue, 
or yellow-brown-blue, or maybe just trying to 
die, but not gracefully as the autumn leaves 
outside are dying. I don't want to go to her; 1 
don't want to look into her eyes that used to be 
chocolate brown and are now mud brown. I 




VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



By a Woman Still in Her 
Fourth Month Only 



hem 



nsfor 



personal identity and 
autonomy, the more she 
develops her imagination. 
I the fiercer will be her 
struggle with nature— that is. 
with the intractable physical 
laws of her own body And 
the more nature will punish 
her: do not dare to be free! 
for your body does not 

— Camille Paglia 

Femininity forced itself on me, and I 
came face to face with what I am. I had loved 
the femininity of soft skin, lush mascaraed 
eyelashes, shining hair, and perfumes that 
lingered on my silk blouses between wearings. 
But my femaleness turned on me and threw me 
on the couch, into the kitchen haltingly to turn 
potato flakes and cream 
of wheat into hourly 
sustenance, onto the 
bathroom floor in a 
heaving heap. 

A shower was 
the greatest adventure of 
my day. I had once 
climbed under the water 
every morning as a 
thoughtless prerequisite. 
Now, I could not endure 
this event until late 
afternoon. Only after 
eating pea soup, and 
waiting for just a little 
digestion — but not too 
much — did I adjust 
pelting drops to a pres- 
sure and temperature of 
mildest effect. Even 
then, the white dark 
corridor of my bath 
would reel, and I would 
hurry to finish and crawl 
into my bed — not even 
thoroughly dry — close 
my eyes and try to relax, 
to be found there asleep 
by my husband at 5:30, 
matted, unparted damp 
hair, and soft naked skin. 
At least my skin was still 
soft. But my over- 
perspiring underarms, as likely to make me gag 
as a whiff of frying tortilla, would soon undo my 
afternoon's work and remind me that I was 
loosing the battle to remain what I thought I 

I turned inward, focusing my efforts on 
getting something in my stomach in order to 
keep what was already there, there, and then to 



get it out through the proper channels at the 
proper time. Well, anytime would be fine. 1 sat 
for stretches on the toilet to encourage my large 
intestines to give up what was not theirs to keep. 
When the edge of the seat pressed uncomfort- 
ably on the backs of my legs, Doug helped me 
find a footrest of just the right height. A laundry 
basket? Too high. A hat box? No. Finally, a 
quadruple combination from the study was 
perfect. Our questions about the use of this 
book were overshadowed, like everything else, 
by my immediate carnal requirements. 

The days moved so slowly. I could only 
focus on the most basic functions of physical 
being. I could not even think of eating the 
vegetables I knew my baby needed — the folic 
acid, the other vitamins. Canned green beans 
were the best I could do. Surely this was not 
natural — I should feel better than ever so that I 
could compose the perfect diet for that being 
inside me in its most critical stages of formation. 
I was furious. I was enraged. No other animal 
on earth experiences morning sickness. My 
creator had laid something on me that was not 
rational. It was a spiteful act, and I could not 
understand why. 

The work piled up on my desk. I was 
out of control of myself. 



Pregnancy slapped me in the face. I 
thought that it would be like taking on a new 
project, just so many Gantt charts of trimesters, 
fetal development, and stages of labor. I would 
arrange things to accommodate its requirements. 
But the corporal demands thrown up for me 
were qualitatively different from the corporate 
demands I knew how to absorb and influence. 



Instead of pressuring me to speed up and finish, 
they insisted I slow down and wait. Instead of 
scheduling their intrusions or civilly asking for a 
return call, they descended like thoughtless 
visitors who would never go home. 

I was unadaptable and, therefore, 
unreliable. I was giving excuses on the phone. 

I heard of other pregnant women who 
sat at their desks in cold sweats, garbage cans 
underfoot. But I could not get up and sit at my 
desk. Another woman I know drove daily to 
work with a bag under her chin — she cc 



at the S2 



:. Butei 




thought I might be sick, I asked Doug to go to 
the store. The mail box was even too far away. 
I could not get up, and I could not go out. But 
perhaps I should have gotten up, and I should 
have gone out. Perhaps I should have been less 
afraid of throwing up. I was a wimp. "Did you 
do any work today?" said Doug. No. "Did you 
feel well enough to work last week?" said my 
boss. No. I'm sorry. 

I sit down and cry, and even as I cry the 
tightness in my throat brings gag after gag. I'm 
crying, and I'm gagging, and I'm a pathetic 
human. I'm a pathetic woman. 

My nature, naked, backed me into a 
comer and thumped me on the chest. I bit back 
like a vicious animal; fiighl 
was not my choice. But my 
fight is only with myself 



Yet, I 






couch, and I read poems by 
mothers who hold their 
babies and feel joy. This is 
what I want. I did not know 
pregnancy would be like 
this, but I do not regret it. I 
am not the first to be torn 
between earth and sky- 
Just as my abdo- 
men begins to expand, I 
begin to understand what I 
am. I am not fooled 
anymore. I am Western 
creation, swerving from 
e, but failing to 



oblite 



n pregna 



watery body, forced to 
listen and learn from 
something beyond and yel 
within me. 

And I anticipate 
that the days ahead will 
teach me more. My friend 
Betsy tells me that her nine- 
month morning sickness 
prepared her for the impos- 
sibility of scheduling 
motherhood. After birth, she was ready for 
endless crying nights and the other inconve- 
niences of children that, although I have heard of 
them, I do not yet know of them. ♦ 



EXPONENT II 



The Unexpected Choice 



rs Greer, you must abort your 
baby." The words wrapped me 
in horror. They offered a solutioi 
worse than the problem could 



It was May 1986— a time when life was 
bom, not taken away. It had not been a good 
year. In January, I first discovered a lump in my 
left breast about the size of a small pea. My 
husband's employer was changing insurance 
companies and had not decided on a new one. 
Our family finances were in such deplorable 
shape that I didn't dare see a doctor unless a 
good insurance policy was in place. In February, 
I managed to severely damage our only car 
when I swerved to miss an oncoming vehicle. It 
was still driveable, but the windows on the 
driver's side were all broken out, and we did not 
have the necessary funds to replace them. It is 
very cold in northern Virginia in February. Then, 
about mid-March, the new insurance company 
was chosen, and the lump had not become 
larger — a good sign. I made an appointment 
with Dr. Fanale, my obstetrician. He examined 
me and diagnosed fibrocystic tumors. But, he 
wanted me to see a general surgeon, "just to be 
sure." Two weeks later I had a biopsy. 

Prior to the surgery, my surgeon Dr. 
Seamons said. "Linda, I don't believe it is 
cancer. You are simply not a candidate. I'd tell 
you if I thought it was a possibility." Twenty- 
four hours later in the recovery room it was a 
different story. With tears running in rivulets 
down his cheeks, he said, "Linda, it is cancer 
The breast will have to be removed." 

I said, "Oh, but how will I feed my 
babies?" He gently but firmly replied, "Linda, 
there will be no more babies," But the unmistak- 
able voice of a kind Heavenly Father assured me 
that the "no more babies" part was untrue. His 
Spirit surrounded me, despite the grim diagno- 

Four days later, I underwent surgery for 
a modified radical mastectomy. The following 
week. Dr. Krueger. my oncologist, recom- 
mended six months of chemo and radiation 
therapy because of the lymph node involvement. 
I resolutely resisted the idea. I had several 
friends who had undergone chemotherapy with 
less than desirable results. One died after a 
seven-year struggle with what I believed was 
chemotherapy — not cancer. I struggled for 
several weeks about my decision. I had not 
decided firmly to follow the advice of the 
doctors, but I was weakening. I knew that it was 
important to obtain baseline x-rays for the 
medical staff to have in evaluating my progress. 

On the scheduled day, I entered the all 
too familiar x-ray suite, signed the register and 
seated myself in a comfortable chair with a 
favorite magazine to pass the time. As I began 
to peruse the magazine, I found myself becom- 
ing increasingly uncomfortable with a sign on 



the wall directly opposite my chair: "If you 
think that you might be pregnant, please inform 
the receptionist." 

I had been in many x-ray rooms with 
lots of these signs, but this time, the sign seemed 
to speak to me. I began to think I was going 
crazy. Eventually, I got up and moved to the 
other side of the room, hoping to avoid the 
power of the sign. I felt rather stupid. The 
presence of the sign became so annoying that I 
was motivated to get up, cross the room, and 
inform the receptionist that they should place a 
lead shield over my pelvic region. The recep- 
tionist informed me that such a thing was not 
possible because the area that they needed to 
shoot was located in that region. 

I said, "Well, go ahead, then." 

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Greer.. We can't do 
that. We need to find out if you're pregnant." 

I thought, "Pregnant? That's absurd. I 
am only six weeks post-op." 

I was sent to the hospital lab to have my 
blood drawn for a serum pregnancy test. I was 
asked to wait for the results and informed that it 
would take about twenty minutes. I read another 
magazine. Finally, a fresh-pressed nurse came 
into the room and crossed to the nurses' station. 

"Hello. Dr. Krueger Mrs. Greer's 
pregnancy test is positive." 

Positive!? There was simply no way I 
could be pregnant. 

"Nurse, maybe my blood sample was 
confused with someone else's." 

"Mrs. Greer, you're the only patient who 
has been in the laboratory this morning. There 
is no mistake. Dr Krueger wants you to come to 
his office right away." 

As I was walking through the hospital 
corridors toward the parking lot, the wave of 
surprise and shock melted into sheer elation that 
a new life had begun and would add to our 
quiver of seven children. By the time I reached 
the exit doors, I was skipping and shedding tears 
of joy at the prospect of having a new little baby. 

Dr. Krueger was not nearly so excited. 
In fact, he was angry that I would do such an 
irresponsible thing. The truth of the matter was 
that never in our whole married lives had we 
tried to prevent pregnancy, except this time. 
Then. Dr. Krueger delivered the blow: "Mrs. 
Greer, you must abort this baby. Your cancer is 
estrogen sensitive. If you continue with the 
pregnancy, expect large tumor growth and 
possible death. You have a 40% chance of 
living, at best." 

Now, I was the one who was angry. In 
his stiffly starched manner, he presumed to be 
God, capable of deciding my fate with his 
statistics and theories. How does anyone 
measure a mother's heart? 

I drove home in a somber mood. My 
husband and 1 made an appointment with Dr. 
Krueger for the next afternoon. At the conclu- 
sion of the appointment, I had a lump in my 
throat, but anger was still my dominant emo- 
tion — angry that I could have been placed in 
such a dilemma. How could I have the wisdom 
to choose between our baby's life and my own? 
Several days later, I attended a Church 
Institute class entitled "Contemporary Issues." 
The topic was abortion. The sources of author- 
ity were messages and letters from our Church 
leaders and the scriptures. The longer we 



discussed the issue, the more emotionally 
uncomfortable I became. When my inner 
turmoil had just about moved me to my feet and 
flight, the instructor quoted, "A mother should 
do everything in her power to preserve her life." 

I felt as if my heart would collapse as I 
contemplated a need to really consider ending 
my pregnancy. I consulted with my bishop. I 
fasted and prayed fervently. I had my name 
placed on the prayer roll. 

The following week, during my regu- 
larly scheduled oncology appointment, the 
doctor said, "Linda, you have seven children. 
They need a mother." 

I went home, driving slowly to stretch 
my time alone to think and ponder the gravity of 
that statement. They did need a mother. I know 
of others who have chosen abortion. I now have 
compassion and understanding for those who 
have wresded with this agonizing resolution. It 
is not easy to make such a decision. Like the 
individual right to choose or reject chemo- 
therapy treatment, deciding whether to have an 
abortion must be a very personal choice, one that 
cannot fairly be judged by another. Because of 
the weight of the issue, the choice must be made 
through deep thought, fasting, prayer, and 
listening to the Spirit. 

At that point, I remembered a television 
interview with Sammy Davis, Jr., that I saw 
when I was fifteen. The commentator asked, 
"What was the most difficult thing for you to 
overcome in Harlem?" He replied, "Not having 
a mother. But I believe anyone can overcome 
any obstacle, even not having a mother." 

I believed that my children could 
survive without me. I pictured their faces; I 
wanted to hold them close and cry until I was 
exhausted. I knew if I aborted my baby, I would 
always wonder what he or she would have 
looked like and that when I looked at my 
children, I would be reminded of the one I didn't 
have and would be rendered a mental cripple of 
a mother. My thoughts felt like revelation. 

The cloud was lifted from my mind, and 
I decided that beautiful sunny day that I would 
have my baby. If I died, my family would be 
taken care of by the Lord. If I lived, my joy 
would be full. A peace came to my soul that I 
had not known for weeks. I knew this decision 
was right for me. 

So, I opted for neither an abortion or 
chemotherapy. My post-pregnancy scans 
showed no evidence of cancer. I enjoyed 
remission for nearly four years. Although I have 
since had a recurrence, undergone surgery, and 
chemo and radiation therapy, I have been in 
remission again for two years. The love, unity, 
and joy that our little boy has brought to all the 
members of our family is worth the price. He is 
deeply loved. If I am suddenly taken from my 
family, Justin will be a constant reminder to 
them of how much we love each other. 

It's true 1986 was not a good year, but 
1992 is the best. Nothing in the world is more 
exciting than my five-year-old putting his arms 
around my neck and whispering in my ear, "I 
loves you. Mommy." And nothing in the world 
is more comforting than knowing the Spirit 
speaks in a thousand small ways about our 
deepest needs and that His answers bring us 
light. ♦ 



VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



Human Beings, Human Doings, 
or Human Gettings? 



hen we entangle our "being" with our 
"doing" and "getting," we are lost 
when changes occur. What happens to 
us when we get sick? We can also 
become critical of what we are "doing 
to get" in order to "be," leading to an 
entanglement of negative talk to 
ourselves. This self-talk is most often 
self-degrading. 

I once overheard a very young 
nephew as he was talking aloud to 
himself, making some very critical 
remarks about what he should have 
done. I asked him if he had a voice in 
his head that said mean things to him. 
His eyes grew big, and he dropped his 
head. I asked him who he thought (his 
voice was and he exclaimed, "Satan." 
" Is it really Satan or is it you talking to 
yourself?" I asked. A little embar- 
rassed, he acknowledged that it was 
really his own voice talking. This little 
child had already learned to berate 
himself when his performance was less 
than "perfect." 

This kind of self-talk creates 
pictures of ourselves doing, saying, and 
thinking the negative. These pictures 
then produce negative emotions, 
resulting in a lack of self-worth. When 
we engage in self-deprecating talk, our 
motivation to reach for mature goals is 
minimized, and then we cannot fully 
realize or understand our potential. In 
this state of blame and shame, we 
mistakenly assume that we have to 
"do" in order to "gel" in order to "be" 
who we are. In this state of negativism, 
we believe that we have to obtain 
approval or recognition from ourselves 
as well as others, and we ruefully roll 
along this road toward self-defeating 
behaviors, becoming our own worst 

During surgery a few years 
ago, I suffered heart failure. Due to 
prayers, my own determination, my 
sense of mission, God willing, and 



modem medicine, I survived. The 
doctors restored my heart beat. 
Surviving the operation, however, 
was not the biggest hurdle. I came 
home no longer able to do many of 
the activities I enjoyed. I could not 
get out of the house and go as I once 
did. My life had been full of "doing 
to get"; so, immobility was very 
difficult for me. 

I went into a deep depres- 
sion, and because of this experience, 
I began a different journey, one in 
which I learned to value myself as a 
person — my desires, my essence — in 
a totally new way. I overcame the 
depression; however, it was in 
"dying" that I eventually learned of a 
far deeper meaning of living, to value 
the promise given from God that we 
will be judged according to the 
desiresof our hearts. I have learned 
more about loving God and myself. I 
have learned of God's love. In this 
loving cycle, I have also gained a 
greater understanding of loving my 
neighbor as myself 

Within each ofus is a core 
personality that is deeper than 
learned behavior, deeper than the 
critical voice within. It is this core 
being who knows how to be accept- 
ing, gentle, and nurturing. When we 
love ourselves that "being" is real- 
ized and appreciated. It is then we 
can understand that we are "human 
beings" not human doings" or 
"human gettings." 

As each of my babies was 
placed in my arms, I knew no words 
10 describe my love. A newbom 
baby is totally dependent, unable to 
do anything to get love except "to 
be" and yet the infinite worth of a 
newbom baby is beyond description. 
I was so deeply appreciative and 
grateful for every little spirit that 
entered my life. As my children 



grew, their beings were unconditionally 
loved. The doing and the getting added 
fun and, yes, very interesting and 
challenging experiences, but it's still 
their core essences that I cherish today. 
We each can have this love of 
self and even the cherishing of self 
We can be appreciative of whom we 
are first and then our doings and 
gettings can be enjoyed and appreci- 
ated more fully, even when they fall 
short of our expectations. It is when 
we find our core being that we can 
discover gratitude for self and thrive in 
the world, realizing that we are not 
doctors, or mothers, or fathers but that 
we are beings practicing the art of 
"doctoring," "mothering," or "father- 
ing," thereby fully and completely 
being who we are. It is in loving 
ourselves that we can truly live and 
love another. It is in the "being" that 
we transcend the "doing to get," 
transforming our lives and gaining the 
power to discover our missions, our 
destinies. 

This journey to discovery 
can affect us and others in a subtle 
yet profound way. As we physically, 
ntally, emotionally, and spiritually 






re able to 



confidence in 

seeking not to impress but 

to be impressed with the 

goodness ol 

others. We 







10 EXPONENT II 



Tiny Tim and I 



1 1 entered, the doll museum's musty 
I odor assaulted me with memories. It 
I smelled of my grandmother's cellar and 

room. I don't remember any 
I other part of her house smelling that 
way, but there was no mistaking the 
feelings that the odor brought up. 

I had recently been trying to 
construct some remembrances of my 
grandmother. I had solicited memories 
from my cousins. I had been going 
through the love letters that my grand- 
father wrote. I had read her handwrit- 
ten recipes, such as "Cooking Spinage 
with Electrcty." 

I was so thrilled with her 
homeyness. and I had become keyed 
into my maternal side. Odors are 
powerful storehouses of memories. 
The doll museum smell intensified my 
connection to my grandmother. 

I walked slowly through the 
museum. I looked at all the dolls. As a 
child, I didn't play much with dolls. I 
had a few, but most of my remembered 
play was acting out. I was usually 
personally involved in the action, not 
justdoing the pretending for a doll. I 
often marshalled friends to be my 
students or to act out the parts in a 
book I had just read. 

During my slow tour, I found a 
composite baby doll that looked just 
like one of my mother's. I have that 
doll now, but because 1 didn't know to 
appreciate her value, through the years, 
my doll had become badly cracked. As 
a child growing up, I had not been 
allowed to play with her. The reason, I 
was told, was that when I was little, I 
had bit her finger off (I'm sure that 
brought about some action). 

I also saw a Fisher Price doll 
like my daughter's "Annie." Annie is 
our family's Velveteen Rabbit, and if 
we had to evacuate the house, we 
would probably count to see whether 
Annie had gotten out. too. One never 
saw Layna without Annie. 

My time in the museum had 
been pleasant and peaceful, full of 
good memories and smiles. So why — 
when I saw a doll that looked like my 
baby doll, Tmy Tim — did I pick it up 



out of the doll carriage, hold it to my 
breast, and sob? I didn't just cry; I 
wept; I bawled; I rocked back and 
forth. My mature, rational self told 
me that I had better get control; 

Where was this raw emotion coming 

Was it for my mother or 
grandmother, both dead for many 
years? Was it for more children I 
wanted and couldn't have? Was it for 
my lost youth? Was it for the inno- 
cence of a child, with a child's 
feelings that all is safe, feelings that 
an adult can never feel? I know that 
girls of ancient Greece, shortly 
before marriage, put their dolls on the 
altar of Artemis, to prove they had 
outgrown childish things. Maybe I 
had never made that sacrifice. 

No one remembers how I 
came to name the doll Tiny Tim, 
although I suspect someone had read 
A Christmas Carol to me around the 
time I got him. He is, by everyone's 
account, the ugliest doll in the world. 
His face is twisted in an eternal 
grimace. Like Annie, he's had at 
least four new torsos sewn onto his 
head, arms and legs. Despite his 
looks and wear, when you hold him, 
he feels real. There is a heft to him 
that feels right. His vinyl head looks 
and feels like a newborn. And once 
people get over the shock of his 
ugliness, their next comment is 
always, "He's so real!" 

I don't remember playing 
with Tiny Tim. I do remember my 
brothers teasing me about loving 
something so ugly. I never had a 
bedroom of white provincial furni- 
ture, with a canopy bed and Madame 
Alexander dolls neatly displayed. 
That wasn't my style then, but Tiny 
Tim was — simple and homely. 

As an adult, I don't have a doll 
collection, with fancy dresses and 
illuminated cabinets. Tiny Tim is 
safe in a Rubbermaid box, in the 
basement. The odd thing is that I 
want to bring him out, but I know I 
would have to defend his presence 



now, just as I had to in my youth. 

Maybe that's one reason why 
seeing Tiny Tim's twin in the doll 
museum touched an emotional nerve. 
I constantly feel that I have to justify 
my choices because they differ from 
the norm. I don't feel badly about 
them, but I notice that I do spend time 
explaining why I make choices 
different from those in my cookie- 
cutter-mold world. 



;d the IT 



's doll 



back in the carriage. It has its original 
body and doesn't have a smear of 
green paint on its permanently dirty, 
but loved, head. When I got home, I 
found Tiny Tim, and again I bawled 
and rocked. I have no explanation. I 
gave myself permission to cry for 
several hours, just as now, while I type 
this essay with tears running down my 
cheeks. Nevertheless, I did put him 
back in his altar of Rubbermaid. My 
daughters, my husband, and my son 
will never know of my sacrifice. ♦ 




VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



Discovery 



ourteen months ago, I began 
another of my seemingly endless 
quests to make more sense of my 
life, to find the insights that 
would enable me to understand 
why such a feeling of profound loneliness and 
intermittent depression has been with me 
throughout my life. I sought the insights that 
would explain the "alone in a crowd" pain that 
has been my constant companion since I can 
remember. In spite of exhausting social activi- 
ties in high school and college, marriage and a 
house full of children, activity in the Church, 
and volunteer work in my community, I have 
experienced a profound sense of aloneness all 
my life. What has happened to me during this 
past fourteen months can only be classified as 
personal revelation, to me and about me. 

Many years ago, I sought extended 
counseling because of some very painful events 
in my personal life. The work I did then helped 
me come to terms with the demands of the 
immediate situation, but when I quit, I knew in 
my heart that there were issues I had left un- 
touched. I thought I knew what they were and 
chose consciously to avoid them because I just 
wasn't strong enough to deal with both them and 

Years passed, filled with the demands of 
a large family and other draining obligations too 
complex to explain. But, I felt needed, and I 
convinced myself I was valuable and fulfilled. 
In spite of all the reaching and doing, I 
could never seem to plug the hole in my heart, to 
feel a sense of completeness and comfort. As I 
approached the years of the "empty nest," the 
loneliness began to consume me, and nowhere 
did I feel more alone than when I was at church. 
Over the years, my deeply felt feminism had 
found its way to the surface, and it was becom- 
ing more and more apparent that I was a "lone 
voice in the wilderness" in this part of the 
Kingdom. 

Concurrently, events in my personal life 
were again creating unacceptable levels of 
stress, and I knew that once and for all I had to 
find some answers for and about myself I had 
to achieve an understanding that would then give 
me the power to listen to the voices that have 
whispered in my ear for years but that I consis- 
tently silenced. 

I sought therapy again, and after sincere 
prayer that I would be led to the right person. I 
found her "Her" is significant because I had 
never gone to a female therapist before, and that 
decision has had a profound impact on my life. 

It would take pages, of course, to review 
all the steps in therapy that led to the insights I 
alluded to earlier. It is important only to relate 
that through a year-long process, I came to 
identify the real source of my loneliness. It 
wasn't really others I was lonely for it was me I 
was seeking. / was what had been missing from 
my life all these years. 

As a very young child, I had hungered 
for knowledge; I had a constant need to ask 
"Why?" about everything. I lived for the library 
and the books I could bring home! Although my 
intellectual and leadership qualities were recog- 



nized and somewhat encouraged at school, I 
internalized the subtle message of that era that 
somehow it was not quite acceptable for a girl to 
be intelligent, that one must never let a boy 
know that you are as talented or gifted as he. It 
was certainly the era when it was acceptable to 
be vice president of the student body, but heaven 
forbid that I run for president! 

As I got older, my need to understand 
more than surface explanations lead to my 
questioning authority and dominion. I couldn't 
tolerate the "that's the way it's always been 
done" mentality, and long before the word 
feminist ever entered my vocabulary, I was one 

At home, at school, and at church, I 
knew something was amiss; I knew that my 
spirit was in pain, but I had no reference point 
from which to begin to explore and understand 
those feelings. I lived in a completely patriar- 
chal home and church; and at school, my female 
voice had no real power to change anything. 
The only female authority figure at school that 
had any real power was no role model because 
she saw any challenge to the system as a threat 
and was more concerned with protecting her 
own position than in helping solve injustice. 
Everywhere I had turned, it had been 
totally unacceptable to be "me." It was okay to 
get straight As but not to challenge the system 
that issued them. It was okay to be a 100 
percenter at all my Church meetings and achieve 
all the MIA awards but not to question or 
challenge authority or policy. Whenever I 
questioned the role of girls/women in society or 
at church, I was accused of wanting to be a man, 
which successfully silenced me every time, as I 
was overcome with both guilt and pain at the 
idea that no one really understood me. 

Even those feelings I really couldn't 
articulate to myself I only knew that I have felt 
profoundly alone all of my life, in spite of my 
full quiver of children and excessive Church 
activity, and I knew that I did love being a 
woman, in spite of the self-numbing cultural 
messages I took on about the inferiority of 
females. 

But in order to be accepted, I always had 
to meet someone else's definition of what 
"woman" meant. Over and over, I was forced to 
repress and deny the God-given gifts and 
feelings that I had. I could use them only if they 
met the approval of both my family and the 
Church. 

The price I paid was that from a very 
early age, I developed what I believe was a 
profound case of self-denial and self-hatred. I 
looked outward for someone or something to 
ease the internal pain I was feeling, and I was 
never successful. How could any man or any 
friend fill that need when the person I was 
missing was me? 

It has been a fifty-year search, and I will 
be eternally grateful to the person who gently 
led me to find that little brown-eyed, blond 
daughter of God who from an early age replaced 
her real self with the person everyone else 
wanted her to be. 

I am only now beginning to understand 
the implications of that and to gather the courage 
to bring her fully out to the world. I must 
confess that I fear that in the process I will feel 
the need to leave my life in the Church because. 



at this time, I see no hope that I can be fully who 
I am in that organization; it is hard enough to 
unhook and realign my family relationships, 
both present and extended. I wish with all my 
heart that my sisters in the Church were part of 
my support system as I do this, but most of them 
resist it as much as the men do, I believe. They 
are fearful of recognizing the missing "them." 

This fear recently surfaced in a very 
painftjl way when I mentioned dunng a Relief 
Society lesson that I was teaching that I some- 
times thought about my Mother in Heaven as I 
was speaking to God in prayer Several sisters 
were offended (even though the lesson itself 
contained quotes from General Authorities about 
Her), and much discussion was held behind my 
back. One of their husbands even went to the 
Stake President! Thankfully, the experience was 
resolved to my satisfaction, but how tragic for 
all of us women that we have been taught to 
deny, in so many ways, the role model who 
could best teach us who we are. How self- 
denying it was that women within the Church 
would not feel enough respect for each other to 
go to a teacher first with their questions about a 
lesson but, instead, would seek priesthood 
authority to validate their fears. 

In the last few years, I have discovered 
and attended Mormon women's retreats where I 
can be with other LDS women andbe totally 
accepted for who I am. I believe those times 
have been literally life-sustaining. To know that 
at least once a year there is somewhere to go 
where I don't have to fill some other person's 
definition for me has been a God-given gift! I 
cannot and will not continue to be made in the 
image of other's expectations, but what a 
struggle it is to reach out to me! 

I'm sure I will be fighting this good 
fight for the rest of my life because I believe that 
any person or influence who tries to keep me 
from being or expressing my true self is thwart- 
ing God's intent. At times, I am not a very brave 
warrior. There have been many wounds in this 
struggle, and at times I am a coward, but I am 
determined that my beautiful daughters and 
granddaughters, as well as all my other sisters 
who are struggling to find the meaning of their 
own loneliness, will some day come to know 
their own best friend and allow her to speak the 




EXPONENT II 



A Study in Perspective 



I here is a fast-food place in 
1 Houston that serves cheap 
I Mexican food twenty-four hours 
a day in a gaudy, loud setting, 
_ I making it a favorite hangout for 

college students. The place sports pink and 
tourquoise walls, outdoor seating, and old metal 
tables. As you stand in line waiting for a slightly 
greasy plate of nachos, a bright mural covering 
the nearest wall catches your eye. It depicts a 
poster-style Mexican seascape in the distance 
behind the red-tiled roofs and palm trees. 

But there is something wrong with the 
picture. No one object is misshapen, nor is 
anything visibly out of place; however, as you 
gaze down the "street" to the sand and the waves 
beyond, you begin to feel uncomfortable. The 
perspective is all wrong. No one object is done 
badly, but the combination is just a little out of 
balance. Art students struggle to keep the 
objects in a painting in perspective and take 
courses to learn to relate different subjects to 
one another while maintaining the balance 
necessary to keep the innocent viewer from 
feeling off kilter. 

How much harder it is to keep any sort 
of proper perspective in our own lives ! It might 
be easier if we could step back to see how all of 
the components relate to one another. But 
without that overview, it becomes a real struggle 
to develop the sort of balance in ourselves that is 
so desirable in art. 

Perhaps it's a common occun-ence in the 
lives of young adults, but somewhere in my 
college experience of academic struggles plus 
examination of my values and philosophy, I 
became completely absorbed in my own activi- 
ties and goals. It was easy to pour my life into 
school and doing so produced tangible results 
and rewards. It was even easier to focus singly 
on my theater projects, on the shows I was 
directing, and so when that job was yanked out 
from under me, I felt like my world had col- 
lapsed. I believed that no problem could even 
compare to the crisis on my hands at the time. 
In the midst of my depression and frustration, a 
wise friend offered advice that I get out of my 
shell and do something different. That was my 
incentive to meet Emily and open my eyes to 
another world. 

Emily was a middle-aged woman 
wanting to learn to read better She had been 
working for years to become literate and now 
sought me out for tutoring. Together, we 
worked through Hemingway's Otd Man and the 
Sea. I brought all my English course knowledge 
to our sessions, cocky in my understanding of 
the book. 

In the middle of a discussion on the 
symbolic purposes of Joe DiMaggio in the story. 
Emily interrupted me with firsthand stories 
about DiMaggio, his love affair with Marilyn 
Monroe, and the image that he represented in 
American history. She remembered it all and 
had a perspective I didn't have because I hadn't 
been there. My own understanding was fine for 
term papers and exams, but I lacked Emily's 
personal connection. With her reminiscences, 
the book took on a whole new dimension, and / 
began to learn from her. 



When in the face of her own personal 
trials. Emily broke down in tears over her faith 
in God, I realized how untested my own faith 
was. When Emily strtiggled with a simple 
assignment, I realized how easy it is to take for 
granted the ability to read. The hours that I 
spent with her were hours spent viewing educa- 
tion through a very different pair of eyes, and 
her perspective on life stuck. I began to find it 
easier to understand and accept ideas that I had 
previously dismissed. 

Emily and I came from vastly different 
backgrounds, cultures, religions, and walks of 
life, but the removal of even a subtly different 
viewpoint from a situation can make a drastic 
difference. As an example, the demographics of 
our brand new, young single-adult branch are 
pretty much the same as the young, single-adult 
Church groups that I've always been associated 
with. Some of us are in school, some working. 
We live in small apartments, nice new homes, 
with parents, with roommates, alone. We are 
poor or not so poor, smart or not so smart. So 
Relief Society ought to feel just like it always 
has. But there is, once again, something miss- 
None of us has lived very long. None of 
us is a grandmother, mother, or widow. Our 
group discussions are clearly missing the 
viewpoints of women who have seen more of 
the world. While we have endured our youthful 
trials, they can't compare with those that we 
have yet to face. And on Sunday afternoons, 
there are no women in the group who can look at 
us knowingly, recalling themselves at our age 
and offering bits of wisdom on the road ahead. 
Regardless of my opinions on singles 
branches in general, the loss of this perspective 
in Relief Society discussions is sad; we need that 
guidance. Along the same lines, we have no 
toddlers interrupting meetings to innocently 
remind us of children's zest for life. We have no 
elderly couples celebrating their golden wedding 
anniversaries to set examples for our own 
shallow attempts at romance. When we remove 
part of the spectrum of ages, we lose perspective 
on where we've been and where we're going. 

During a recent sac 
heard one of those all-too-n 
some balanced perspective > 
we feel from the Church. The speaker brought 
up the often paraphrased "three gospels of the 
Church": the gospel of Christ, the gospel of the 
Church, and the gospel of the people. The so- 
called gospel of the people applies to the day-to- 
day assumed requirement of dress, habit, and 
style, such as the idea that all women will wear 
pantyhose to church on Sundays. The gospel of 
the Church deals with the rules for day-to-day 
existence not covered in the scriptures — age 
categories for various activities and so forth. 
Then finally, the gospel of Christ contains the 
divine guidelines that we must follow to attain 
the blessings of exaltation. Together the three 
produce such a large body of instructions and 
requirements that no person could possibly 
handle them all. The speaker listed just a few of 
the meetings to attend, jobs to fill, and expecta- 
tions to be met by today's Latter-day Saints. The 
list was overwhelming. 

So the responsibility falls on each of us 
individually to weight the various demands and 
sift out the gospel of Christ. How do we keep 
some sort of reasonable perspective on what is 
important and what is not? Perhaps we each 



ament meeting, I 
re talks on keeping 
)n the demands that 



must simply say that it can't all be done, and 
frankly, it isn't all terribly important. If we start 
with Christ's teachings and focus on them, the 
peripheral rules and pressures are clearly less 
important. And from that perspective, living a 
Christian life does not seem like .such a daunting 

If all things must be kept in perspective, 
small failures of our youth fade into insignifi- 
cance; everyday crises become manageable; 
temporal rewards lose their sense of supreme 
accomplishment. When one's middle school 
transcript loses all importance in the face of 
graduate oral exams, it becomes easy to wonder 
how to tell what is of universal importance. 
After all, there was a time when my algebra 
homework was an all-consuming pursuit, mixed 
with the notion that success there and then was 
essential to all future success. 

How do we keep our perspective in the 
present? Perhaps this is when the idea of eternal 
progression becomes relevant. It is important to 
strive toward each goal as if it were the ultimate 
one because small accomplishments are impor- 
tant insofar as they can be built upon, even 
though when we are standing on the resulting 
tower of our efforts, it is sometimes hard to 
remember the first few blocks that we stacked 
up. Therefore, devotion to one topic is fine, and 
even desirable, as long as it does not block out 
our awareness to other things. 

I still spend most of my time in libraries 
reading dull, scholarly books, but now I make 
sure that I spend a couple of hours a week with a 
woman that I am currently tutoring. Seeing her 
eyes light up when she first reads a children's 
storybook by herself makes me appreciate the 
complexities spelled out in my academic jour- 
nals. A professional musician friend of mine 
plays in an unpolished community orchestra to 
remind himself that music need not be perfected 
to be enjoyed. One of my professors keeps 
pictures of her children prominently on her desk 
so that the paper she's working on doesn't make 
her forget the people who want her home in time 
for dinner. A small-town radio station broad- 
ca.sts the sports scores for a tiny, insignificant 
college along with the big conference team 
scores. None of these actions detracts from the 
primary goal, but somehow each adds commen- 
tary on the wealth of experiences available in 
life. 

Maintaining balance seems daunting at 
times. I asked my mother how she felt about her 
decisions on balancing family and career. She 
answered that when she was my age, she too 
sought the same sorts of things that I am work- 
ing for — graduate study, freedom, time to 
explore. But with the passing years, she has 
turned her focus to people, specifically her 
family. She told me that she had discovered that 
our priorities often change over time. 

Her words didn't immediately alter my 
goals, but I have not forgotten them; they 
witness that indeed there is more to this life than 
the pressing deadlines of tomorrow. Advice 
from my mother and other women I admire — 
those from similar as well as different back- 
grounds — add perspective to my sometimes self- 
centered view of life. Maybe I can find a way to 
accomplish my goals while still enjoying the 
panorama of life — and maybe that artist in 
Houston can step back a little from his work and 
get a broader perspective on the scene that he 

VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 13 



"^ 



ACRAMENT MEETING 
SAMPLER 




Recognizing Our 
Stewardship 



ecoming a parent made me 
realize that I am a link in a chain 
that goes back to the beginning 
of life. We are linked to the past 
by previous generations, and 
children link us to the future. The very act of 
bringing a child into the world is a statement of 
faith that the world will go on. Our actions as 
parents reflect this hope in thousands of ways — 
in the care we take of our beautiful infants; that 
we make kids wear seat belts; the music and 
dance lessons, cheering soccer games in the rain; 
all the effort to get good nutrition into them; 
making sure the homework's done. We do all 
this in complete faith that the world holds 
promise for our children. This belief says we are 
living as if there is hope for our planet and its 
people. 

I recently took a course called "The 
Biosphere at Risk," and what I learned brought 
me to a point of despair. But, I remembered that 
if having children is the ultimate expression of 
hope and if I love my children, it is my responsi- 
bility to lead my life as if there is hope. And that 
also means I must be informed. 

We are an enormously successful 
species. We have figured out how to improve 
our health so that most of our children live, and 
we all live longer lives. We have learned how to 
feed and house huge numbers of us. We have 
done things that were unimaginable only 100 
years ago — from such simple things as indoor 
plumbing to mass communication and space 
travel. What is not so apparent is at what cost. If 
you think about the world's resources as a 
savings account in a bank, the cost becomes 
clearer. We have been behaving as if our 
account has no limit. Until now, we have had no 
reason to behave otherwise because, in a global 
sense, there have been enough resources to 

In the past 160 years, however, the 
world's population has more than quintupled. 
The current figure of 5.4 billion people is 
expected to double within the next 40 years, 
which is within the expected life span of some of 
us and certainly within the life span of our 
children. Trouble is, nobody knows how much 
human life the earth can actually support. 

People who study populations of all 
kinds have found that two patterns predominate 
after a population reaches its peak. One is that 
the population levels off — growth stops, and an 
equilibrium is reached between the population 
and the environment's ability to support it. The 
other pattern is that the population crashes. In 
other words, at least one factor critical to the 

14 EXPONENT II 1996 



survival of the population is diminished, and the 
population drops precipitously or becomes 
extinct. So, when we scratch the surface of our 
bounty, it gets scary because our sheer numbers, 
combined with our wasteful habits, are destroy- 
ing the environment that supports us. 

We are facing so many ecological 
problems that it is impossible to begin to address 
them all here; so, let's look at just a few. 

First, there is the greenhouse effect 
caused mainly by rising levels of CO^ in the 
earth's stratosphere. When we bum fossil fuels 
or wood, the carbon stored in them enters the 
atmosphere. The resulting C0\ along with 
several other gases caused by human activity, act 
as an insulation layer and reflect heat back to the 
earth, heat that would normally escape into 
space. The extra heat, in turn, reduces the 
amount of vegetation available to capture and 
use CO- during photosynthesis. 

Our atmosphere requires a very small 
percentage of CO^ to maintain the earth's cli- 
mate. Atmospheric CO^ levels have been mea- 
sured in Hawaii since 1958 and have been 
consistently rising. Ice cores from the polar ice 
caps have been studied, and by measuring the 
ancient gas bubbles in them, we know that the 
CO^ level today is at its highest in at least 
180,000 years. Scientists have also noted an 
almost exact correlation between global tem- 
peratures and atmospheric CO', going back for 
tens of thousands of years. 

Although scientists agree that the 
greenhouse effect is real, there is debate about 
its consequences; however, the probability is 
that as climate shifts occur, the earth's ecosys- 
tems will not be able to tolerate the changing 
temperatures, entire ecosystems will be de- 
stroyed, and ocean levels will rise. It is, also, 
almost certain that there will be vast changes in 
agricultural regions, thus real uncertainty about 
future crop production. 

Another problem is the thinning ozone 
layer, which can justifiably be considered a 
factor critical to our survival. Not only do we 
face an increase in the number of skin cancers, 
ultraviolet rays penetrating a thin ozone layer 
can also mutate the DNA in living cells. The 
EPA has estimated that a 5% ozone depletion 
would cause the following effects in the U.S. 
alone: an increase in basal and squamous cell 
skin cancer by nearly 1 million cases; 30,000 
more cases of melanoma skin cancer; a sharp 
increase in eye cataracts; suppression of the 
human immune systems resulting in an AIDS- 
like syndrome; decreased yields of major food 
crops; reduction in the growth of phytoplankton, 
which is at the base of the ocean food chain and 
a major user of CO^; and increased global 
warming. 

The thinning of the ozone layer is 
caused by an increase in cloroflorocarbons 
(CFCs), which are released into the earth's 
atmosphere by refrigerators, air conditioners, 
styrofoam, and spray cans. Each CFC molecule 
destroys about 10,000 molecules of ozone in the 
stratosphere and can last from 20 to 100 years, 
depending on the type. CFCs are increasing in 
the atmosphere at a rate of 4% per year now, 
although through a recent international agree- 
ment, we hope that the output of CFCs will 
actually begin to decrease over the next decade. 
Even so, the CFCs already in the atmosphere 






le for decades t. 



In view of these impending crises, it 
would make sense to make a plan to address 
these global problems. In fact, the UN Confer- 
ence on Environmental Development (UNCED), 
that took place in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, 
was an attempt to do just that. It would make 
sense for us to implement an energy policy 
supporting renewable, alternative energy 
sources, such as solar and wind. At this time, 
these alternatives are economically viable in 
many areas. Unfortunately, President Bush did 
not appear at UNCED because CO- emission 
levels were kept on the agenda. 

It seems to me that it would make sense 
to create an economic policy that supported 
preserving forests, here and abroad. Unfortu- 
nately, our National Forest Service uses our tax 
money to build logging roads into our National 
Forests, roads that cost more to build than the 
value of the logged timber Over the past 15-20 
years, the only U.S. ram forest— in Hawaii— has 
been almost completely destroyed in order to 
make room for more golf courses. It seems to 
me it would also make sense that any environ- 
mental protection plan should offer family 
planning education and materials to lesser 
developed countries so that together we can 
more effectively address the critical problem of 
overpopulation. 

In the U.S., we have about 5% of the 
worid's population using about 33% of the 
worid's non-renewable energy and mineral 
resources. We also produce 33% of the worid's 
pollution and trash, and all of us do things every 
day that contribute to these problems. When we 
eat a hamburger, we are contributing to rain 
forest destruction because the main reason they 
are being destroyed is the economic incentive 
provided by grazing beef (It has been estimated 
that every fast-food hamburger represents six 
square yards of rain forest cleared.) 

We also contribute to the increase in C0= 
because we bum fossil fuels in the processing 
and transportation of neariy 100% of everything 
we consume. When we recycle, we somehow 
think we're doing our part, but it is only the tip 
of the iceberg. We have to stop consuming so 
much and stop buying what we don't need. 
Donella Meadows, a Dartmouth College profes- 
sor in environmental studies, has recently 
estimated that even if there were no more 
children bom after 1995, the people who are 
alive today are enough to drive the world to 
economic and social collapse if we keep on with 
business as usual. Within thirty to forty years, 
there literally would not be enough food and 
non-renewable resources to support the human 

These problems are so vast and seem- 
ingly overwhelming that it is very easy to act 
like ostriches and pretend they aren't there or, at 
least, pretend that we can insulate ourselves 
from them. We actually may be able to live our 
lives out in reasonable comfort, but I fear our 
children will not. Think about their lives and the 
lives of their children with every action you take 
for the rest of your life. Think about them with 
every purchase, every time you climb in the car, 
every time you don't write our political leaders 
about it. We live in a pivotal point in time, and 
the future is quite literally in our hands. ♦ 



Things I Love 
About the Church 



Editor's Note: The 
original title for this sacrament 
meeting talk was to have been 
"100 Things I Love About the 
Church, " but because one of 
the first things that Katherine 
loves is getting out early, she 
cut down her list. 



J love coming to church and the 
general chaos— the grabbing of 
Cheerios and scriptures (both 
holding equal value at this point i 
our lives) every Sunday morning. 
I love studying the gospel in Sunday 
School because no matter how many times I go 
over the scriptures I am constantly coming to 
new and different understandings. I love a 
religion that requires so much study. 

ve the Relief Society and the sister- 



:. Ic 



hood that we experiei 
brotherhood because 
experienced it. 

I love that ins.. „^.„, 
take their lessons out of the 



giving a 






all over the world 
Jme manuals, 
learning base for 



r membei 

I love that no matter where I may travel 
I know that when I go to an L.D.S. meeting I 
will feel an instant intimacy with the members 
of that ward. When I have lived in other coun- 
tries, 1 knew I would have the privilege of 
immediate friendships wherever I attended 
because of our shared religion. 

I love testimony meetings when I have 
experienced tender and passionate expressions 
from members whom I had previously judged to 
be subdued. 

I love testimony meetings in which the 
seats on the stand are filled to capacity with 
pounding hearts and compressed lungs and there 
is barely time to hear from all those who want to 
speak. 

I love testimony meetings where very 
few speak and we enjoy rare moments of quiet 
meditation. I feel that such silent interludes give 
us the opportunity to worship God in our own 
personal and private way. 

I love sneaking whatever snack was 
brought into nursery whenever I am there. 

I love walking past a vacated bench as 
we file out of sacrament meeting and seeing 
decimated soda crackers with a fine sprinkling 
of Cheeno dust on the seat and appreciating 
what that parent or those parents have been 
struggling with for the past hour— all with the 
purpose of teaching the next generation the 
importance of attending our Sunday meetings. 

I love the concept of homemaking night. 
Although at times the projects may not interest 
me, I love the notion of women congregating to 
a cultural center featuring the talents of many 

I love that the Church recognizes 
children as an important and valuable resource 



and have provided an entire organization to try 
to meet their young and fragile needs. 
I love reading pioneer journals. 
I love that we are divided into wards 
that function as mini-hierarchical societies, filled 
with brothers and sisters that are unique in their 
talents and personalities. 

1 love that Carol says "yes" to me even 
when I ask her to do something she hates to do. 
I love that Church involvement makes it 
possible to see sides of people that we might 
otherwise not be privy to — such as a verbally 
timid man who shared a touching and expressive 
blessing when he confirmed his son a member of 
the Church. 

I love seeing Christ's hands in the rough 
and calloused hands of our organist as he 
constructs genteel and luscious music on Sun- 
days, in place of the buildings he constructs 
during the week. 
I I love that the Church gives people who 

must make boring executive decisions all week 
the opportunity to enjoy teaching the Star B 

I love big, shiny cultural halls where if 
you get a good run with socks on you can gel a 
really good slide. 

I love singing "Give Said the Little 
Stream." 

I love singing "I Heard the Bells on 
Christmas Day." 

I love singing "Amazing Grace," which 
isn't in the hymn book although I wish it were. 
(I guess I'll save that one for my "Things I Wish 
the Church Did Differently" talk.) 

I love that I am somewhat of an oddity 
among my neighbors and associates— a thought 
that makes me acutely aware of being on my 
best behavior most of the time. 

I love that our religious historical 
culture is not only rich in moving tales of 
courage, faith, and strength but also with folk- 
lore, spiritualism, and magic. 

I love that we all share the same general 
temporal and eternal goals. 

I love that we all go about trying to 
reach those goals through different methods: 

• Some look for answers to 
keep them focused. 

• Some spend their energy 
looking for questions. 



re converted at 



• Some of us 

• Some of us were converted 
years after our baptism. 

I love that even though we have differ- 
ent methods for reaching these goals we learn 
from each other's ways and continue to love and 
support each other 

I love that we serve. 

I love that we are in some ways depen- 
dent on our fellowman for 
need each other. 

I love that we believe that all people 
have a chance to be saved. 

I love that we acknowledge a female 
deity, something not accepted en masse since 
ancient history. 

I love that we can, if we choos 
be priests and priestesses in equal partr 



that w 






I love that in Moses 6, God weeps, and 
Enoch has hope. 

I used to love getting to keep the sacra- 
ment cup; of course, I don't do that anymore. 

Hove Mormon jokes. I've got one for 
you: The bishop was trying to get perfect 
attendance at Sacrament Meeting. Months were 
spent on home teaching and other such avenues 
to increase the number of members attending 
sacrament meeting. After months of work, the 
bishop was thrilled, and to celebrate, he decided 
to go fishing. Well, he had a fine day fishing, 
and as he returned home, he began to notice that 
the streets of town seemed to be empty. His 
concern increased when he turned onto his street 
and saw nobody in sight. When he finally got to 
his house and reached the front door, he found a 
note saying: "Sorry we missed you. Signed, 

I love Mormon literature, good Mormon 
literature. 

I love that our Church is conservative 
and as such evolves slowly and that our leaders 
ivoided getting caught up in social gospels 



be destructive 

I love that we belie 

just for sinners but for v 






men at the vulnerable and life-pivotal ages of 21 
and 19 to lose themselves in service and loving 
others as they serve missions. 

I love that we believe we are creators, 
that we spend a lot of this lifetime creating, and 
that we will go on creating through the etemi- 



I love that we believe God respects and 
loves us despite the fact that He knows us— all 
our evident brokenness, weakness, and omeri- 
ness— yet, He keeps loving us. It strengthens my 
spirit to know that I don't have to find reasons 
for God to love me, that I don't have to perform. 
I don't have to be a dazzling career woman or a 
Supermom. I don't have to publish. I don't have 
to be a perfect wife, sister, or ward activities 
leader, and He still loves me. That's what 
unconditional love is all about. And the next 
best thing to God's loving favor is that of our 
brothers and sisters. I sometimes forget what a 
gracious thing it is that people come to respect, 
admire, and love other people. And it is even 
more delicious that we love each other in spite 
of the fact that we know each other. 

I love that we not only learn through 
God's example to love others but also to forgive. 
It is often laborious to be forgiving and forgetful 
of each other's shortcomings, but it is probably 
the greatest of all of God's talents and one that 
we would do well to emulate. 

And last, I love that green Jello salad 
with pineapple and cottage cheese that is only 
found at Mormon functions. ♦ 



with God. 



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Flowers for the Living 



y father believed in giving 
credit where it was due. 
He felt that the world was 
full of nay sayers and that 
people seldom heard 
enough praise for the good things that they 
did His ntw twist lo the golden rule 

not waiting tor people to die before 
sharing your positive feelings about them 
but telling them whenever and wherever 
you had the chance He called this shanng 
flowers for the living 

Through the years I \e tried to 
appK his philosophy to my daily dealings 
with family friends and co workers. 
From the (.olor of a person s dress to the 
quality of a job well done, 1 try to make it 
commend. I see 
low these "flowers" affect people, and I 
ippreciate the smile that always follows a 

impliment. However, it wasn't 
until recently that I added another dimen- 
sion to my father's approach when I gave 
the most meaningful "flowers" of my life. 

Our friend Chet had been given 
just a few months to live. Because he 
lived a good distance away, we seldom 
saw him. When my husband and I heard 
his unhappy news, we made it a point to 
visit him for the last time and, sadly, to say 
goodbye. The two days that we spent with 
Chet and his wife were poignant beyond 
belief, knowing that everything that we 
did together we did for the last time. 
When we went to Chet's favorite Japanese 
restaurant, he decided to eat sushi after all, 
despite the fact that he'd heard it was 
especially unhealthy to do so. 

"After what I have just been told," 
he quipped, "what difference does it 

We all laughed because of his 
wonderful attitude and were amazed at 
how honest we could be with each other. 

When it was time to say goodbye, 
however, all the things that I wanted to say 
to Chet got stuck in my throat. Here was a 
unique opportunity to deliver those 
"flowers" in person, to say how wonderful 



I thought he was, how he'd been an 
inspiration to me, and how very much I 
would miss him when he was gone. But, 
all I could manage, as I choked back my 
tears, was to hug him tightly, kissing his 
bald head before racing to the car. 

On the way home. I mentally 
wrote Chet the letter I knew would have 
to be written. Those last-minute, unspo- 
ken words would haunt me until I 
expressed them on paper. The next day. 
I wrote to him, mailing the letter with 
some trepidation. Would he be embar- 
rassed by my "Goodbye, dear friend; we 
will miss you."? Would he want to hear 
those heartfelt yet painful words? 

The following week he called. 

"Hi," he said. "It's Chet." Then 
silence. Now what? 

"Did you get my letter?" I asked, 
a bit tremulously. More silence — and 
then came his quiet response. 

"After reading your letter, it took 
me an hour to get rid of the lump in my 
throat," he said softly. "It's the best 
letter anyone ever wrote to me, and your 
words really touched my heart. Never in 
my life has anyone said such beautiful 

It wasn't much, his simple 
statement, but it took me by surprise. 
I'm really not sure what I expected to 
feel when I mailed those verbal flowers, 
but in that quiet moment, as I listened to 
Chet's shaky voice on the other end of 
the line, I discovered something my 
father hadn't taught me. Although I 
thought those "flowers for the living" 
were meant for Chet, in the final analy- 
sis, they were really delivered to me. ♦ 



VOLUME 19 NUMBER 4 



OOK REVIEW 



Taking a Good Look at Ourselves 



Home to Roost 
by Linda Hoffman Kimball, 
Greensboro, North Carolina: 
Halrack River Publications, 

pp. 193. $8.95. 



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've never had high hopes for 
"Mormon fiction." I quickly 

(dismissed it long ago as too 
didactic, too poorly written, too 
predictable. Didn't everyone 
have to end up getting married in the temple and 
living happily ever after, with eight children in 

When I was a junior in college, I had a 
long conversation with friends after seeing the 
film Amadeus where we wondered aloud — as 
many smarter, wiser Mormons have wondered 
before — if there is a place for great Mormon art. 
We mused about what sorts of big themes could 
take place in a framework constructed with the 
level of certainty that seems to be the stuff of the 
Mormon collective unconscious. Having just 
consumed a large dose of French existentialism, 
I asserted that nothing great could ever be said 
by an artist who wasn't tormented, on the edge, 
troubled and often destroyed by the shadow of 
nothingness and angst that characterizes much of 
post-World War II continental thought I was 
reading. I was so sure that nothing important 
could really be said or felt by a committed 
Mormon. 

Orson Scott Card, science fiction writer 
and committed member of the Mormon church, 
couldn't disagree more with my undergraduate 
assessment of the important questions and who 
can ask them, write about them, live them. His 
small fiction publishing house, Hatrack River, is 
committed to the writing that tells the stories of 
a complex, flawed, but faithful crowd that goes 
to church on Sunday, has kids or not, gets 
annoyed by quirky congregations — the Latter- 
day Saints — whose world is one of ward dinners 
and visiting teaching and scriptures and missions 



and faith, those who commit themselves to a 
kind of truth and value they find in the Mormon 
community. Card believes that these people are 
the Church and that their stories told with love 
and honesty and a chuckle are the stories of an 
infinite variety of people. 

Home to Roost by Linda Hoffman 
Kimball is Hatrack River's most recent publica- 
tion. And true to Card's vision, it tells of real 
Mormons working together, with a common 
vision of something — call it building up the 
kingdom of God, call it love, or being a dis- 
ciple — that keeps them trying and forgiving and 
learning. Reading Home to Roost, I leamed that 
redemption and forgiveness and love and grace 
can all happen in places as unlikely as a stake 
play rehearsal. 

In Home to Roost, two stories take place 
simultaneously, and a third— the unraveling of 
the past — weaves itself into the present. The first 
story is the production of a stake play. Annie 
Bauer — married, mother of two — is directing a 
stake play that is beset by a power hungry ex- 
director, a costume designer named Crystal 
LaRue, a drill sergeant of a choreographer. Sister 
Cluff, and all sorts of electrical problems. 

At the same time, another thread takes 
place on the home front when Annie's Aunt 
Minnie shows up unannounced, uninvited, loud, 
and irreverent, in the middle of a missionary 
open house. Minnie's visit may disrupt Annie's 
life in the present, but she also unsettles Annie's 
sense of the past when she begins telling the 
long untold stories about Annie's mother and 
grandparents. 

Home to Roost captures a world that is 
oddly familiar because it is ours; it certainly was 
mine. Much of the setting mirrored the world of 



my Mormon family, with family home evening 
and missionary farewells and stake plays and 
genealogy and Jell-O. It is. at the same time, a 
place of wonder — a world where visions begin 
with pure sunlight reflecting off a sequined 
sweatshirt, and angels sport orange pant suits 
instead of wings, where a stake play is the 
microcosm of the larger world in which compli- 
cated people learn to love in unlikely ways. It's 
where Burger King and retirement centers are 
settings for conversations that count. 

If a stake play seems to some an im- 
probable spot for fiction that matters, then a gray 
haired, uninvited relative named Minnie, who 
first installs her Mr. Coffee coffee maker and 
who calls the song "Love at Home" nothing but 






ihkely a 



le for m 



who may choose to read Mormon fiction. 

But Home to Roost is not about being 
Mormon. And for that matter, it's not much 
about fiction either Annie is tormented by the 
nagging "every member a missionary" duty to 
make her Aunt Minnie a Mormon and thus seal 
her scattered family members together. She 
silently recites the litany of her Latter-day 
responsibility to make her family one that "can 
be together forever." However, this assumed 
burden to convert Minnie fades after a remark- 
able dream where Annie glimpses a little more 
than she wanted to about herself and her mo- 

In the dream, Annie— in a Houncy tutu 
flits about with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir 
singing "Love at Home" in the background. She 
magically floats from anonymous soul to 
anonymous soul, touching them with a magic 
wand, saying "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, I'll make a 
golden contact out of you." But then Minnie 



appears, gently reminding Annie: "You think 
you're a magician, but you're not. Someone else 
is. He just loaned you a wand." 

The scene then changes and men in white 
jumpsuits at a Penzoil station dance and change 
the oil on a convertible with a gold angel Moroni 
hood ornament. Their chant is the second 
reminder that the dreaming Annie has that she is 
not magic, that she doesn't create or shape or 
convert or change, and that maybe she has a few 
ideas that need to be rethought: 

Don't think that you can change her. 
Or try to rearrange her 
Don't worry "bout the timing. 
Or celestial social climbing. 

Here we are brought up short and 
reminded that Home to Roost is neither cute nor 
whimsical. It is funny, hilarious at times. But the 
gentle accusation that our best intentions may be 
mostly clever and showy steps in our own 
"celestial social climbing" is tough medicine. 
Annie is not bad or mean spirited or petty. In 
many ways, she represents EveryMormon. With 
genuine goodwill, she wants to have a celestial 
family and to spread the gospel as she under- 
stands it. She accepts Church callings and takes 
her aunt to the investigator class and worries 
about avoiding the very appearance of evil in the 
form of a coffee maker on her kitchen counter. 
Could all this be misguided? Social climbing? 

Minnie is wise and she is real, but she is 
not bigger than life. She watches "Wheel of 
Fortune" and spends her days at a senior citizens 
center She is loud and irreverent. She calls her 
sister a "conniving, money loving, two faced 
snot." And she's just "so tacky all the time." 

But she sniffs out hypocrisy and de- 
mands (not always gently, never too sweetly) 
honesty and fairness and a life lived with both 
eyes open. She hauls the old family skeletons 
out of the closet and reminds over and over 
again that a family life that is the "bliss com- 
plete" of the Mormon hymn "Love at Home" is 
"hooey, just plain hooey." She has lived too long 
and seen too much to accept the simplicity of 

At Minnie's first sacrament meeting, she 
hears the expression "the God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob." We know that she is mulling 
it over, and eventually, we hear her interpreta- 

Her reading is one that most likely will 
never make it to a Gospel Doctrine manual. It is 
an honest reading, one that insists that God be 
whole and inclusive and free of the pettiness that 
Minnie sees all around her In her reading of the 
Bible, Minnie decides that Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob did "some really horrible stuff." Abraham 
lies to get out of Egypt. He traumatizes his son 
when he almost sacrifices him. And Jacob 



"duped his starving brother Esau into giving up 
his birthright" all for a "bowl of stew." 

She sums up Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 
based on what she saw in them, based on the 
totality of their lives. 

So what do we have here? We've 
got fathers and sons and wives and 
mothers lying and cheating and doing 
weird things to and with each other. 
These are real folks, all right. Not hard 
to find living breathing clones under 









Knowing the "real" Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob doesn't bother Minnie, though. Sure, she 
labels them as jerks and losers. But that label is 
for humans with weaknesses, not for the God 
they worship. In fact, the only way Minnie can 
make sense of these nasty lives is to imagine a 
God big enough to understand his weak and 
sneaky children. If God can love Isaac, who lied 
to "save his butt," then he is a God who is huge, 
a God who loves in big ways. 

Minnie says it best: 

The real surprise to all this is that 
God actually still seemed to care about 
these people even knowing what jerks 
they were! He kept doing good things 
for them. ... To me this means that if 
God can be the God of these losers. He 
can be the God of anybody! Of all of us! 
Even me! If He can love them. He can 
love any one of us! ... If this is true, if 
I've got this right, this God is huge! Can 
you imagine what He must be like to get 
something good out of rejects like that? . 
. . I can almost hear him telling me, 
"Remember, I took folks like Abraham 
and Isaac and Jacob and managed to pull 
off some pretty hot stuff with them. So 
quit judging, quit griping, and mind 
your own life's business! 

Minnie dismantles the distortions all 
around her Rather than accepting a cut and paste 
reading of the Bible, she looks at the whole 
story. She reads all the lines and then manages to 
read between the lines, too. Abraham was a jerk; 
so was Minnie's father So are a lot of us a lot of 
the time. Somehow, though, Minnie discovers a 
God huge enough to deal with imperfect and 
weak children and even to love them and call 
himself their God. 

While Minnie takes aim at false piety, 
self deception, and intolerance, she manages to 
move beyond it. She saves a stake play at the 
last minute by moving it to her senior citizens 
center And she loves and teaches and speaks 



truth. She is puzzled when she learns that 
somehow she must learn to love some of her 
relatives and pray for them, when for years 
she's just wished that "the rotten folks would 
bum in hell." 

The Rolling Haven stake is a colorful 
one. full of the same sorts of odd and wonderful 
characters that make up any stake I've ever 
known. In Home lo Roost, Alphonso 
Meidenbach bellows that "Refined sugar will 
give you ulcers, depression, and flatulence!" 
Bonita Little throws a fit about the evils of 
caffeinated beverages and the "procedural 
irregularities" at play practice when Annie 
neglects to have an opening and closing prayer 
at each rehearsal. And an unnamed brother in a 
scout uniform descends on play rehearsal to 
conduct the monthly Scoutmaster Training 
Session. And, of course, the disposal in the 
kitchen has a life of its own and "gummy gray 
glop" spurts out all over a class of shrieking 

Home lo Roost is written with a rare 
combination of mirth and gentle irreverence. 
Underlying the spewing disposal and orange 
pant suits is a search for truth. In the guise of 
all that is familiar about a stake and Mormon 
family, Minnie insists on unsettling the shiny 
veneer. She speaks truth when it hurts and 
when it heals. 

I liked reading Home to Roost. I felt 
known because, like many readers who would 
read a work of Mormon fiction, I am an insider 
I "got" the jokes. I've been in stake plays. I've 
stayed up all night sewing costumes for road 
shows, served chicken broccoli casserole at 
ward dinners, and made refrigerator magnets at 
homemaking meeting. And I have met my own 
versions of Sister Cluff and President Gibson 
and Annie and Doug. 

But it was my very status as an "in- 
sider" that I had to look at as I listened to 
Minnie's simple wisdom. Inside started looking 
less comfortable when I saw it from "outside." 
and the lines blurred as I began to call into 
question my own sense of community and 
"Mormon society." When Minnie first hears 
"Love at Home." she announces that she could 
teach the crowd "a thing or two about love at 

Home to Roost is about the search 
for a home, for family, for something that will 
last. And Minnie does, in fact, teach us a 



\m 



nr 



ETTERS TO THE EDITOR 




Dear Exponent. 

It annoys me greatly to receive a publica- 
<n listing coming events three months after 
the event occurred. 1 would have loved to 
attend the April Willamette Valley Retreat had 
I known of it — or the Rocky Mountain Re- 
.reat. It would help if you mentioned the dale 
IS well as the other information. I didn't call 
reserve space as I am positive it has either 
already taken place or no reservations are 
'ailable at this late date. 

I love the articles that you publish and 
the forum for women, but I hate the delayed 
arrival and size of the publication. Is it so 
cost-effective that you must use tabloid-size 
paper? It gets tattered and torn being pushed 
through a mail slot, if not in the mail itself. 

I give you an A for content and a D- for 
delivery. 

Mary Jane Johns 
Oxnard. California 



Greetings to the Exponent Staff, 

Please give attention to my protest about 
the abhorently inconvenient size of Exponent. 
Possibly consider a size that will fit in my file 

r, my magazine rack, or my carry bag 
for sharing. 

My Exponents arrive regularly crumpled 
and worn from being jammed and wadded into 
a postman's mail bag, or delivery box, or into 
my mailbox. 

I am weary and worn after trying to read 
it while sitting or reclining. . but must stand to 
keep it visibly comfortable and available. 
Why must it be so huge? 

Thanks again for an exceptional contri- 
bution to my woHd of mental confusion. This 
most recent issue Volume 19, Number 2 is 
particularly pleasant and informative. 

Yvonne W. Cassity 
Anchorage, Alaska 



Submissions for Book 
Requested 

A motherhood anthology. With Child, to be 
published by Signature books, is seeking 
further submissions. Poetry, narratives, 
fiction, essays, and visual art dealing with the 
experience of motherhood are welcome. 
Please send your submissions to: 

Mami Asplund -Campbell 
6193 NE Radford Drive 
Seattle, WA 981 1.5 



Mormon Electronic Mail 

If you have access to an e-mail surfing device, 
you may want to check out these addresses on 
Internet: 

GENERAL MAILING LISTS 
LDS-net: Contact David B. Anderson 
(anderson@merl.com); he can also provide a 
copy of his complete "List of Lists." 
Mormon-L: Contact Susan McMurray 
(catby rd @ onramp.net) 

WOMEN ONLY 
Sister-Share (an "on-line Relief Society"): 
Contact Lynn Anderson (Iynnma@netcom. 
com); for information about discussing LDS 
feminism and gender issues. 

MAGAZINE 
Saints-Best: Contact David B. Anderson 
(anderson@merl.com); there is no discussion, 
just "best of the lists" and news items. 
There are also LDS-related lists on America On- 
Line, Compuserv, Genie, and Prodigy. 



Exponent II Plans 

Reception During 

Counterpoint 

Conference Weekend 

Plan now to attend the Exponent II Open House, 
which will be held during the weekend of May 
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EDITORIAL 

EDITOR 

MANAGING EDITOR 
SENIOR EDITORS 



ASSOCIATE EDITORS 



ART EDITOR 

BOOK REVIEWS 

EASTAVEST 

FICTION 

POETRY 

SISTERS SPEAK/HELP 



BOARD 

Sue Paxman 
Barbara Streeper Taylor 
Nancy T. Dredge 
Ann Stone 
Laurel T. Ulrich 
Robin Zenger Baker 
Evelyn K. Harvill 
Bret Wunderii 
Eileen Perry Lamben 
Linda Hoffman Kimball 
Melinda Smart Graves 
Susan Elizabeth Howe 
Laura Hamblin 
Judy Dushku 



PRODUCTION 

CIRCULATION Karen Call Haglund 

Melinda Smart Graves 
WORD PROCESSING Ellen Patton 
BACK ISSUES Jenny Atkinson 

READERS COMMITTEE 

MEMBERS Lynn Matthews Anderson 

Jenny Atkinson 
Robin Zenger Baker 
Nancy T. Dredge 
Kristen Graves 
Linda Hoffman Kimball 
Sue Paxman 
Sylvia Russell 
Annie Bentley Waddoups 
Linda Andrews 
Stephanie Smith-Watennai' 



EXECUTIVE BOARD 

PRESIDENT Robin Zenger Baker 

SECRETARY Karen Call Haglund 

TREASURER Jenny Atkinson 

HISTORIAN Cheryl Howard 

MEMBERS Nancy T Dredge 

Judy Dushku 
Kristen Graves 
Melinda Smart Graves 
Eileen Perry Lambert 
Sue Paxman 
Sylvia Russell 
Carrel Hilton Sheldon 
Barbara Streeper Taylor 
Linda Andrews 



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