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Letter from the President 

Kirsten Campbell 


Fasting as Freedom 4 

Jana Riess 

Mourn with Those That Mourn.. 7 

Emily Clyde Curtis 

Sabbath Pastorals 

Heavenly Mother and the 

Proclamation on the Family 9 

Fara Sneddon 

Poetry 12 

Marsha Kay Ault 
Courtney Cooke 
Lindsay Hansen Park 
Steven Peck 
Sandra Rembrandt 

Global Zion 

Muslim Mormon? 14 

Erica Eastley 

Considering the Goddess 16 

Phyllis Barber 

Announcement 18 

Call for Chieko Okazaki Essays 

Goodness Gracious 

The Gospel According to Angry 

Birds 19 

Linda Hoffman Kimball 

Women's Theology 

Inclusive Language in the Latter- 
Day Saint Hymnal 20 

Emily Parker Updegraff 

Making a Family with Donor 

Sperm 22 

April Young Bennett 

Sisters Speak 

Presiding vs. Equal Partners 25 

Urban Camping 27 

Heather Olson Beal 

Book Review 

The Lonely Polygamist 29 

Gwendolyn Ivie Reynolds 

Exponent Generations 

To Feel at Home 30 

Sue Paxman 
P. Anderson 

Death of a Father 33 

Neylan McBaine 

Flannel Board 

How to Use Daughters in My 

Kingdom 35 

Exponent II Staff 

Special thanks to D Arcy Benincosa, Sharron Evans, Annie Henrie, Aimee 
Evans Hickman, Abbigail Israelsen, Pat Langmade, Lindsay Hansen Park, 
Sandra Rembrandt, Julie Rogers, and Erin S. Tripp 
for the use of their artwork in this issue. 
Cover art is She Pondered by Julie Rogers of Kanab, Utah 

Submissions to Exponent II 

We welcome personal essays, articles, poetry, fiction, and book reviews for 
consideration. Please email submissions to or mail them to 
Exponent II, 2035 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. Please include your name 
and contact information. Submissions received by mail will not be returned. 

We are always looking for artwork and photography to accompany our writing. 
Please send jpegs or gifs of art submissions to our email. If you are interested in 
illustrating articles, please contact us for specific assignments. 

The purpose of Exponent II is to promote sisterhood by providing a forum for 
Mormon women to share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and 
acceptance. Our common bond is our connection to the Mormon Church and 
our commitment to women in the Church. The courage and spirit of women 
challenge and inspire us to examine and shape the direction of our lives. We 
are confident that this open forum will result in positive change. We publish 
this paper in celebration of the strength and diversity of women. 

Co-Editors-in-Ch ief 
Aimee Evans Hickman 
Emily Clyde Curtis 

Design Editor 
Margaret Olsen Hemming 

Copy Editor 
Lisa Hadley 

Exponent Generations Editor 
Deborah Kris 

Sisters Speak Editor 
Caroline Kline 

Sabbath Pastorals Editor 
Amanda Olson 

Global Zion Editor 
Chelsea Shields Strayer 

Book Review Editor 
Marci Evans Anderson 

Poetry Editor 
Judith Curtis 

Staff: Kristy Benton, Sue Booth-Forbes, Susan 
Christiansen, Courtney Cooke, Bonnie Do- 
nigan, Deja Earley, Lisa Hadley, Sara K.S. 
Hanks, Rebecca McLaverty Head, Sariah Kell, 
Kendahl Millecam, Emily Mosdell, Natalie 
Prado, Gwen Reynolds, Suzette Smith, Jessica 
Steed, Heather Sundahl, Brooke Williams 


Kirsten Campbell 

Suzette Smith 

Cheryl DiVito 

Members: Andrea Alexander, Emily Clyde 
Curtis, Emily Gray, Margaret Olsen Hemming, 
Aimee Evans Hickman, Denise Kelly, Linda 
Hoffman Kimball, Caroline Kline, Deborah 
Farmer Kris, Jana Remy, Heather Sundahl, 
Barbara Taylor 


Linda Andrews, Nancy Dredge, Judy Dushku, 
Karen Haglund, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 

Exponent II (ISSN 1094-7760) is published quarterly by 
Exponent II Incorporated, a non-profit corporation with 
no official connection with The Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints. Articles published represent the opinions 
of authors only and not necessarily those of the editor or 
staff. Letters to Exponent II or its editors and Sisters Speak 
articles are assumed intended for publication in whole or 
in part and may therefore be used for such purposes. Copy- 
right © 201 1 by Exponent II, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Letter from the Exponent II President 

I am a quilter. 

Ten years ago, Pandora Brewer, an Exponent II sister, 
introduced me to the art of quilting and my life changed 
forever. I had always had an enthusiasm for fabric — I liked 
to make my own clothes and Halloween costumes for my 
kids. But, quilting was different. It awakened a part of my 
soul that has brought me more fulfillment and harmony 
than any other occupation or hobby. 

I love the beautiful variety of fabrics. Anything from 
homespun, to 1930's reproduction prints, to modern geo- 
metric designs — I love them all. It is like putting together a 
puzzle. I choose the pattern and the fabrics and then figure 
out how to create the quilt I desire. It amazes me how you 
can take very different fabrics, cut them up into pieces and 
reassemble them into a stunning quilt block. Some blocks, 
when put together, produce an unexpected secondary pat- 
tern that captivates the eye as much as the primary design. 
I consider myself an emotional quilter. Most of my projects 
come from a source of fulfilling a need. I have made quilts 
for a friend battling breast cancer, a friend going through a 
divorce, and for another's sweet preemie to cuddle up in. 
Currently I'm working on two quilts for the daughters of 
a friend. Their father committed suicide a year and a half 
ago and these quilts are for them to have as a "fabric hug" 
from Dad. As I work in my studio, cutting up fabric from 
his clothing, my heart aches for the girls. It is the most dif- 
ficult project I have ever worked on — but already the most 
spiritual as well. 

As a quilter, I belong to a local guild. The guild meets 
monthly to share our projects, exchange ideas and give 

Heather Sundahl receives a quilt made by Kirsten Camp- 
bell and Pandora Brewer at this year s Exponent II retreat 

each other support and advice. As one of the youngest 
in the guild, I have learned so much from these talented 
women. Their decades of experience are enlightening and 
inspire me to try new things. As a guild, we've created 
a pink breast cancer quilt to be auctioned off to support 
research, made a quilt for the young son of a guild member 
who tragically passed away, and created blocks to donate 
to an organization which raises funds to find a cure for 

I also like to delve into the history of quilting. Our an- 
cestors made many quilts out of worn out clothing — quilts 
that were functional and kept small ones warm. They were 
not without creativity, however. Many surviving quilts 
show the talent and ingenuity of those early quilters. 
Can you feel my fervor for quilting? 

I have the same passion for Exponent II Like the vari- 
ous fabrics, we women are beautiful and come from diverse 
backgrounds and experiences. This diversity serves to unite 
us in a strong bond of sisterhood. When we get together 
and share our stories, the secondary pattern is remarkable. 

Exponent II is, in its own way, like a guild. We pro- 
tect each other's interests and give support where needed. 
Through the magazine, the blog and the annual retreat 
we exchange ideas, share successes, and give each other 
advice. One of my goals as President is to have Exponent 
II move into community service mode. This idea came 
to me as I read through the Church's new publication for 
the Relief Society, Daughters In My Kingdom, and was 
inspired by the activities of the early sisters of the Church. 
In the book, President Monson states, "We are the Lord's 
hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to 
lift His children." I would like to generate ideas and plans 
for how to motivate and mobilize our Exponent II sisters 
to work within their communities to foster positive change 
and serve those who need it most. 

Many of you may be new subscribers to the Exponent II 
magazine. We welcome you and hope you find a home here 
with us. If you have been a long-time subscriber, thank you 
for your support as we continue to be an important outlet 
for women to share their life experiences. The quilt that 
is Exponent His large, warm, colorful, and magnificent! I 
hope you will consider adding your story—your block— to 
the quilt. There is room for everyone to wrap herself up in 
its warmth and share what means the most. 

Kirsten Campbell, Winter 2011 

Have a letter to the Editors or a submission for 
Exponent II? Email us at 



Fasting as Freedom 

Its important to keep in mind the end result — growing stron- 
ger in faith and closer to God — rather than the dead legalism 
of focusing on a single right way to do fasting. 

by Jana Riess 
Cincinnati, Ohio 

I recently undertook an ascetic fast- 
ing practice for my memoir Flunking 
Sainthood. For the month of February 
in 2009, 1 fasted as if it were Ramadan 
for 28 days, waking up before dawn to 
eat breakfast, and counting the minutes 
before sundown when I would eat ev- 
erything in sight. I wouldn't say it was 
a lot of fun, and in the book I recount 
some of the challenges and lessons I 
learned. (Lesson 1 : Eat eggs for break- 
fast. Those Atkins diet folks are really 
on to something about protein staving 
off hunger.) 

As a Mormon, it's not like I was 
a stranger to fasting. However, I was 
never one of those hyper-ascetic fast 
warriors who lived for the first Sunday 
of the month. Before the Ramadan ex- 
periment I often hated fasting. Maybe 
this describes you too. I know plenty of 
people who, when they are honest with 
themselves, admit they do not like to 
fast. One woman I knew found fasting 
so difficult that she joked that she con- 
tinued having one child after the other 
like stairsteps so she could legitimately 
avoid fasting for years on end. 

That's a pretty extreme case, but 
how many of us think of the first Sun- 
day of the month as a time when we 
"have to fast" instead of a time when 
we "get to fast"? We do it because it's 
a commandment, but we don't usually 
do it for the reason we're promised 
in Scripture: that it will bring us joy. 
D&C 59:13 and 14 specifically says 
about fasting "that [our] joy may be 
full." Note that in these verses fasting 
is equated with joy not once but twice. 
And then the following verse lays it on 
even thicker that fasting should be done 
in a context of thanksgiving, cheerful- 

ness, happy faces, and glad hearts, and 
let's say it again, happy faces! 

It's because I'm not very good 
at fasting that I wanted to learn more 
about it. If you're interested in my Ra- 
madan experience, I encourage you to 
check out the new book. But here I'd 
like to focus on four specifically Mor- 
mon ideas about fasting, and also give 
some historical context for why and 
how we fast in the Church. 

1) Fasting is a lifelong spiritual prac- 
tice. Fasting is one of the ancient spiri- 
tual practices, also called spiritual dis- 
ciplines. Spiritual practices are those 
things we do in order to grow in the 
faith: things like keeping the Sabbath, 
tithing a tenth of our income, pray- 
ing, or serving others. These are called 
"practices" and "disciplines" because 
they're hard. They take a lifetime of 
hard work to master and understand. I 
wish that in the LDS Church we spoke 
more about fasting as a lifelong spiri- 
tual practice. You didn't expect to learn 
the piano in a day. You don't ask your 
first-grader to learn to read overnight. 
But we expect new converts to come 
into the Church ready to do a full fast 
right away. 

I started out in 1993 as a new 
convert having never fasted before. I 
gamely tried this for a couple of years 
and found it very difficult and taxing — 
so taxing, in fact, that I quietly found 
excuses not to fast for several years 
thereafter. I had terrible headaches that 
prevented me from fasting; I also got 
mean and turned into a monster when I 

fasted. (Brigham Young once memora- 
bly belittled those of us who skip fast- 
ing because of headaches: "If it makes 
my head ache to keep the command- 
ments of God, let it ache!" 1 Typical 
Brigham. Thanks, bro.) 

It wasn't until I was called to teach 
Gospel Doctrine in my old ward that I 
thought I should buck up and start tak- 
ing fasting more seriously. I started 
with just one meal, fasting through 
breakfast and then eating a decent 
lunch when I came home from church. 
I found I didn't get a headache from 
skipping just one meal, so I started do- 
ing this twice a month and it worked 
wonderfully for a time. I felt I was get- 
ting at least some of the spiritual ben- 
efits of fasting without having it be so 

I have worked my way toward a 
full Mormon fast quite slowly - over 
a period of years, even. But even the 
times when I wasn't fasting perfectly 
have been rewarding and full of great 
spiritual growth for me. I believe that 
when we are instructed in verse 13 that 
our fasting "may be perfect," we need 
to understand that we are on a lifelong 
journey with fasting. It's important to 
keep in mind the end result - growing 
stronger in faith and closer to God - 
rather than the dead legalism of focus- 
ing on a single right way to do fasting. 

2) Fasting is a way to focus our spiri- 
tual energies and concentrate our 
prayers. The relationship between 

1 Brigham Young quoted in Alan P. Johnson, 
Fasting: The Second Step to Eternal Life (Salt 
Lake City: DeseretBook, 1963), 110. 

prayer and fasting, words which so 
often are linked together in the Scrip- 
tures, is surprisingly complicated. Does 
fasting merely prepare our hearts for 
prayer because we humble ourselves to 
God and declare our total dependence 
on Him? Or is there a supernatural 
effect from fasting, where the effect 
of a prayer is somehow strengthened 
in God's eyes because the person has 
made a sacrifice in the form of the fast? 
I'm skeptical about the latter, not be- 
cause I don't believe in supernatural or 
mysterious results from prayer but be- 
cause I don't particularly like the idea 
of God as a vending machine. Fasting 
should never be a bargaining chip in 
a transaction we make with Heavenly 
Father, where we imagine that we'll 
have better credit at the vending ma- 
chine merely because we put in our 
50 cents. I have seen people's faith ut- 
terly fall apart in hard times when they 
operated under a purely transactional 
concept of how God doles out rewards 
for good behavior. Their child- 
ish faith assumed that if they did 
the right things, fasted on Sunday 
and prayed the right prayers, this 
would be a talisman to preserve 
them from harm. Other people 
would get cancer. Other people 
would witness their teenage sons 
clinging to life in the ICU after a 
car accident. 

So if we shouldn't allow 
ourselves to indulge in childish 
magical thinking about what God 
"owes" us because we fast, what 
then is the relationship of fast- 
ing and prayer? I believe fasting 
prepares us for that "singleness 
of heart" discussed in D&C 59. 
In Mormonism we've developed 
an interesting tradition of fast- 
ing for a particular spiritual pur- 
pose on fast Sunday. Sometimes 
we might fast for someone's 
health, or for a child we're anx- 
ious about, or for guidance in an 
important decision. In past years 
I have dedicated various fast 

Sundays to all of those purposes. And 
I have felt strengthened and inspired 
from the one-two combo of fasting 
and prayer. Magical thinking? I don't 
think so. I wasn't praying for God to 
take away my mom's cancer a couple 
of years ago, or for any number of 
things that are out of my control. But 
I prayed heartily for inspiration about 
how I could cope with those issues, and 
feel sure that I received it. Fasting, I've 
learned, makes me more open to the 
idea of God walking by my side even 
in the hard times. 

I have also found that fasting is a 
wonderful way of spiritually uniting 
with LDS friends who live many miles 
away. Sometimes if I have an especial- 
ly pressing issue, I'll ask a couple of 
close friends who live far away to fast 
with me and pray about that thing, or 
they might ask me to do the same. The 
joint effect of our fasting is a deepen- 
ing of our bond and also a growing ac- 
countability to one another in prayer. 

Living Water by Julie Rogers, Kanab, Utah 

3) Fasting is a way to help the poor. 

Many different world religions have 
practices of fasting, often around spe- 
cial holy days (Yom Kippur in Judaism, 
or the holy month of Ramadan in Is- 
lam). Mormonism's fasting is unusual 
in two ways. One is that we fast each 
month all together on roughly the same 
days twelve times a year. Another is 
that we explicitly tie our practice of the 
fast to a special offering for the poor, 
and we have since almost the begin- 
ning of the Church. 

Considering that fasting is some- 
thing that Mormons have done con- 
sistently almost every month since 
the nineteenth century, there is sur- 
prisingly little historical information 
about it. Our theology may diverge in 
important ways from American Protes- 
tantism, but our worship practices and 
sacramental rituals generally have not: 
we take communion (which we call the 
sacrament) in much the same manner 
as Reformed Protestants; our Sunday 
services and the order of 
worship are structured in the 
low church Protestant tradi- 
tion; many of our hymns are 
Protestant; and our prayers 
sound like evangelical Prot- 
estant prayers that have been 
filtered through a Shake- 
spearean pronoun machine. 
But many Protestants rarely 
or never fast. Why do Mor- 

Fast days were an im- 
portant part of the New Eng- 
land culture that the Smith 
clan grew up in. In the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centu- 
ries, Puritan and Congrega- 
tional leaders would call for 
fast days for all the members 
of a town to repent of some 
perceived sin or to pray for 
deliverance from some ca- 
lamity or Indian attack. They 
would also declare occa- 
sional feast days to celebrate 
God's providence. The most 

memorable of these feast days, 
of course, is the one we now cel- 
ebrate as Thanksgiving, so some 
of that legacy is still with us. As 
a culture, however, America as 
we know it has basically lost the 
"fast" part of the feast- fast equa- 

In Joseph Smith's day, the 
LDS Church observed one of 
the first instances of the all- 
church fast, and it was explic- 
itly tied to helping the poor — in 
this case, the prophet himself. 
Shortly after Joseph Smith was 
released 2 from jail, he rejoined 
the Saints at Nauvoo but found 
his family in poverty. The entire 
church fasted and prayed for the 
Smith family, and donated their 
freewill offering to Joseph and 

Brigham Young spoke about fast 
Thursday in General Conference in the 
early 1850s and said that fasting was 
specifically to help the poor. Thursday 
may seem a bizarre choice for a fast 
day, but it was the traditional day for 
fast and feast days in New England, 
where many of the Mormons had come 
from. When Mormons would come into 
their testimony meeting on Thursday 
evenings, they would literally bring the 
food with them that they would have 
given to the poor: "flour, or meat, or 
butter, or fruit, or anything else, was 
to be carried to the fast meeting and 
put into the hands of a person selected 
for the purpose of taking care of it and 
distributing it among the poor." Young 
went on to encourage the Saints about 
the importance of this practice: 

"If we were to do this now faithfully, 
do you think the poor would lack for 
flour, or butter, or cheese, or meat, or 
sugar, or anything they needed to eat? 
No, there would be more than could be 
used by all the poor among us. " 3 

2 "Released" is in air quotes here. It was 
more of a warden-assiste jailbreak. 

3 Quoted in Johnson, Fasting, 186. 

Awakening by Julie Rogers 

It's not a coincidence that fasting is 
linked so fundamentally with helping 
the poor. In fasting, we make ourselves 
hungry and poor. We have a taste - lit- 
erally - of what being poor might feel 
like, if only for a day. We can culti- 
vate greater compassion. Fasting and 
helping the poor go together, as Isaiah 
makes clear in chapter 58, when he 
says that God rejects the self-centered 
fast of the outwardly pious, but accepts 
the loving fast that seeks to renew the 
world and help the needy. 

Fasting also gives us a way to, as 
King Benjamin put it in his famous ser- 
mon, "retain a remission of our sins" 
by helping the poor (Mosiah 4:26). 
That passage in the Book of Mormon 
makes it absolutely clear that helping 
the poor isn't just something to do be- 
cause we're nice or we think it's a good 
idea to share. That passage, and Mat- 
thew 25 as well, make us uncomfort- 
able because they remind us that if we 
don't help the poor we simply can't be 
saved, that we have no part in God's 
kingdom. Ouch. (Knowing that poverty 

is intractable and overwhelming, 
though, King Benjamin cautions 
us that we're not required to run 
faster than we have strength. We 
can't do everything to eradicate 
poverty, but we can do a great 
deal, and it starts with a gener- 
ous fast offering.) 

4) Fasting is a reminder of 
death and resurrection. I like 
to think about fasting as a mini- 
death. I'm not trying to be mor- 
bid here, but I think we should 
all get good and intimate with 
the reality that we are going to 
die. These bodies that we ex- 
pend so much energy feeding 
and bathing and clothing will 
someday take one last breath. 
Could it be that fasting helps us 
to prepare for this truth, which 
is so inevitable and yet so impossible 
to accept? 

Throughout Christian history peo- 
ple have struggled with the place of the 
body and whether it should be subjugat- 
ed and controlled or celebrated. Mor- 
mons have always fallen on the more 
positive side of that spectrum, affirm- 
ing that the body is inherently good, 
that it is God's creation, that it will be 
perfected and renewed at the resurrec- 
tion. We place some restrictions on the 
body — eschewing sexual promiscuity, 
for example, or insisting that there are 
certain toxins that we won't put into 
our bodies. But in general Mormons 
have always taught that the body is 
good, even holy. We believe God has 
a perfected body and are consistently 
taught that our purpose in this life is to 
become more like God ourselves. 

But here's the thing: If we are to be- 
come like God, one thing we absolutely 
must learn to do is to die and be reborn. 
Fasting, in its small way, is that lesson 
for us, month in and month out. Fast- 
ing is, at its foundations, a reminder of 
bodily death. Once a month we choose 
not to sustain physical needs and the 
physical body, preferring instead to af- 

firm the truth that death will be real, 
that the needs of this body will one day 
cease, that we should not let ourselves 
become overly attached to the physi- 
cal. Heavenly Father created our bodies 
and declared them "very" good; they 
are temples of His Spirit and we are to 
treat them with honor and respect. But 
at the end of the day, they are not the 
sum of us. And ironically enough, fast- 
ing — which seems on the surface to be 
so world-denying and lifeless — is pre- 
cisely the kind of spiritual practice that 
reminds us that human life is a gift. 

I like to have people over for din- 
ner on Fast Sunday, because no mat- 
ter what I serve, these hungry people 
are going to think it is the best meal 
they've had in ages. ("Tripe! My favor- 
ite!") We're so grateful for breaking 
the fast and welcoming life and food 
again that we have a new appreciation 
for every bite. When we take the sac- 
rament on Fast Sunday, it is our only 
sustenance for much of that day, which 
is an excellent metaphor for what the 
sacrament is supposed to be for us - 
unique, a witness of God, the bread 
that gives us life. If you've ever read or 
seen The Lord of the Rings, you might 
remember that Frodo and Sam get a gift 
from the elves called lembas bread, a 
special food where just one small bite 
can sustain a grown man for a day. Au- 
thor J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic, 
wanted a way in his fiction to represent 
what the Eucharist meant to him, that if 
all else were taken away, that one gift 
of God would be enough to sustain life. 
That is what we should remember on 
Fast Sunday when we take the sacra- 
ment: this is life, this is grace. 

Dying and being reborn may not be 
first and foremost on our minds next 
month when we fast. But I hope we'll 
remember that over a lifetime, fast- 
ing can teach us about freedom, about 
death, and most importantly, about res- 
urrection. Fasting reminds us that we 
have been blessedly freed from sin and 
death. For freedom Christ has set us 
free. ■ 

Mourn with Those That Mourn 

Being a Hospital Chaplain 

by Emily Clyde Curtis 
Phoenix, Arizona 

Editor s Note: This essay is based on 
an excerpt from the keynote address 
given in February 2011 for the Clare- 
mont College conference, 'Women's 
Lives, Women s Voices. " The video for 
that address and other presentations 
at the conference is available at http:// 
ccdl. libraries, claremont. edu/collec- 
tion.php ? alias =/cms. 

My dad always said, "If you're the 
best at what you do, you can always 
find a job." So, as a Mormon woman 
who a. belonged to a church that didn't 
ordain women and b. belonged to a 
church that relied on a lay clergy, I 
think I put his words to the test when 
I told him I wanted to get a Master's 
degree in Divinity. 

Although I didn't know what I was 
going to do in terms of a profession, I 
was confident that I could be true to the 
Church by going to Divinity School. 
While I was there, I had the option to 
participate in the Field Education pro- 
gram, which places students preparing 
for ordination in churches, hospitals, 
prisons, group homes, and other plac- 
es. After a lengthy chronic illness as a 
teenager, I knew I wanted to work in 
a hospital, and I was thrilled to get a 
placement as a chaplain at Brigham 
and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mas- 

At my job, I had the privilege of 
being with people in both the dark- 
est moments of their lives and during 
moments of intense joy. I have held 
the hands of people as they died, and 
I have cradled dying newborns. I have 
sat with people waiting to hear about 
the severity of their loved ones' inju- 
ries, and I have rejoiced with people 

who had miraculous healings, even as 
I have also learned to redefine what mi- 
raculous healings are. 

I remember walking into the hospi- 
tal on my first day being thrilled that 
I would be embodying the scripture in 
the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:8-9. 

Now, as ye are desirous to come into 
the fold of God, and to be called his 
people, and are willing to bear one an- 
other s burdens, that they may be light; 
Yea, and are willing to mourn with 
those that mourn; yea and comfort 
those that stand in need of comfort. 

I feel indebted to the chaplaincy staff 
there. I could say that going to my of- 
fice each day sounded like the begin- 
ning of a joke... "So, an imam, a rabbi, 
and a priest are sitting together..." but 
these staff members taught me uni- 
versal themes of spirituality, and they 
showed me through their examples 
how to let my differences be an asset in 
my church service and how to deal with 
my spiritual struggles while staying in 
my church community. 

I watched my Muslim friends strug- 
gle to connect with patients after 9/11 
when people judged them by the color 
of their skin and the way they dressed. I 
watched my Catholic friends deal with 

Vol. 31, No. 3 

Page 7 

the issues of women in the priesthood 
that so mirrored my own experiences, 
and I saw them struggle with the sex 
abuse scandals in their church. I also 
learned different and beneficial ways 
of thinking about spirituality from my 
Buddhist friends and Christians from 
denominations different than my own. 
Still, in some areas, I was on my own. 
I didn't know any Mormon chaplains, 
much less ones who were women, and 
there were times when I had to grapple 
with theological issues, never being 
sure if I was doing the right thing. One 
of these situations arose when I was 
asked to perform Catholic infant bap- 
tisms as part of my job description. 

Because BWH has one of the larg- 
est Newnatal Intensive Care Units in 
New England, the chaplaincy depart- 
ment deals with a lot of stillborns and 
babies that die soon after birth. Living 
in a predominately Catholic city like 
Boston, this meant that we were often 
called on to baptize these babies. 

While Vatican II has refuted the 
belief that babies who die before being 
baptized go to purgatory, many Catho- 
lics still believe this. And I met with 
a few parents who were desperate for 
the ritual. As a Mormon woman, I was 
reticent to perform this ritual because 
my church taught me that these babies 
would go straight to God and there was 
no need for baptism. I also was uncom- 
fortable because even though the Ro- 
man Catholic Church does not require 
a person to be ordained to perform the 
rite of baptism, in my Church, baptism 
is a ritual done by people who hold the 
priesthood. I knew that by performing 
baptisms for another church, I would 
be questioned by other Mormons who 
would feel that I was leading people 
astray by sanctioning this form of bap- 

Still, as a chaplain trying to support 
grieving families, I wanted to do what- 
ever I could to ease their pain. And I 
knew the power religious rituals can 
have to comfort and bring the presence 
of God into a room full of sorrow. I also 

was terrified of being in a tragic situa- 
tion and having to explain my very mi- 
nor issue when time was of the essence. 

One of the most painful conversa- 
tions I have had about my career choice 
was when a male Mormon friend of 
mine enthusiastically tried to convince 
me that I should not baptize these ba- 
bies because by doing so I was partici- 
pating in "priestcrafts." He left his liv- 
ing room to grab his Book of Mormon 
and proceeded to read me scriptures 
defining priestcrafts and what hap- 
pened to those individuals who par- 
ticipated in them (Alma 1:16). I don't 
think he realized how hard it was for 
me, someone who is not permitted to 
have the priesthood, to be told that this 
other way I had found to express my 
pastoral authority was wrong and sin- 

My husband was concerned, too, 
and we argued for months about wheth- 
er or not I would baptize babies. My 
husband, Nate, you must understand, 
loves nothing more than a good argu- 
ment. He will often argue an opinion he 
doesn't agree with, or even believes is 
defensible, just to see if he can change 
your mind. It was incredibly frustrating 
to hear him say, "Yes, you should be al- 
lowed to baptize, but no, you shouldn't 
baptize in this way." Fortunately, my 
colleagues were patient and under- 
standing while I tried to figure out what 
to do. 

Chaplains are only permitted to 
baptize babies that will not live very 
long. If there's a chance that the child's 
parish priest can make it in time, we 
wait. Better yet, if there's a chance that 
the child can be baptized in her church 

with her community, we do not do this 
ritual because as in the LDS church, 
Catholics believe that baptism is a 
chance to not only wash away sins, but 
also a ritual that welcomes the child 
into the church community and begins 
her religious life. 

After much prayer, thought, and 
discussion with my supervisor and 
good friend, a Catholic nun who could 
identify with the issue of priesthood au- 
thority that I was facing, I decided what 
I would do to bring comfort to these 
families and to assuage the concerns 
of Mormons who felt like I should not 
perform this ritual. 

I realized that as a Catholic priest 
had taught me the way to perform a 
baptism, I could teach a baby's parents 
how to perform this ritual. What better 
gift could I give a mother or father than 
to give them a memory of sharing what 
would most likely be the only life ritual 
they would have with their child? 

The first time I did this I remember 
a young father looking at me dumb- 
founded when I asked him if he wanted 
to baptize his 28 week old son who had 
not been responding to medical treat- 
ments and had only hours to live. Af- 
ter explaining the ritual and putting the 
water in his hands, I asked him again 
if he wanted to do this or if I should 
find someone else. He said he did, and 
as tears streamed down all of our faces, 
this baby's mother cradled her dying 
son while his father softly said, "I bap- 
tize you in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." 

Though I long to perform the bap- 
tism ritual, I saw in that moment that 
this was the right thing for me to do. 

As I deliberated over whether or 
not to perform baptisms, I found a way 
to serve in a ministerial capacity while 
staying true to the current stance of my 
religious tradition, even as I struggle 
with that stance. By finding another 
way, I was blessed with a sacred mo- 
ment with this young family as we 
worked to find peace amidst the trag- 
edy of losing a child. ■ 

Sabbath Pastorals 

Pauls epistles (often called pastorals) strengthened early Saints and uplift followers today. Sabbath Pastorals 
highlights women preaching and teaching from pulpits in wards around the world. 

Heavenly Mother and The Family: A Proclamation to the World 

by Fara Sneddon 
Carlsbad, California 

I was asked to speak today about 
The Family: A Proclamation to the 
World. Our LDS faith teaches that the 
family is central to the Plan of Salva- 
tion and integral to each of our experi- 
ences on this earth. The Proclamation 
tells us that "All human beings — male 
and female — are created in the image 
of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or 
daughter of Heavenly Parents." Hugh 
B. Brown, wrote "[t]he family concept 
is one of the major and most important 
of our whole theological doctrine. Our 
concept of heaven itself is little more 
than a projection of the home and fam- 
ily life into eternity." 1 We are sons and 
daughters of Heavenly Parents. Know- 
ing our heaven is "family life into eter- 
nity," we are, therefore, taught to un- 
derstand our families on this earth as 
types or patterns modeled on a divine 
unit of parents and children: you and I, 
our very real Heavenly Father, and our 
just as real Heavenly Mother. 

While in all things we are taught 
of our Heavenly Father and His love 
for us, we learn about the unit of our 
Heavenly Parents in far fewer ways. 
While studying French at BYU, I was 
introduced to the French version of 
the hymnal, and I found what would 
become my favorite hymn, "Souviens- 
toi, Mon Enfant." In its first line, it tells 
us to remember we are part of a divine 
family. Loosely translated to English, it 

Remember my child, 
Your divine parents held you in their 
arms not too long ago. 

1 (Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1965) 

We have parents in heaven, who knew 
and loved us in the pre-existence and 
who now wait for our return to them. 
One particular Mother's Day in our 
previous ward, the First Counselor 
stood up just before the congregational 
hymn, "O My Father," and explained 
to those in the chapel that this was the 
only hymn he knew of that talked about 
our Heavenly Mother. He said that, 
though at first it might seem an odd 
choice of hymn for this day, no other 
hymn was more appropriate for honor- 
ing our mothers on this earth and our 
Mother in Heaven. Many of us know 
the verse by heart to which he referred: 

In the heavens are parents single? No, 
the thought makes reason stare. 

Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me 
Fve a Mother there. 

Sister Snow's hymn was first published 
as a poem in the Times & Seasons in 
1845, and its title was "Invocation, or 
the Eternal Father and Mother." 

The Proclamation on the Family 
teaches us that "[a] 11 human beings — 
male and female — are created in the 
image of God. Each is a beloved spirit 
son or daughter of Heavenly Parents." 
We believe and teach that, besides 
Heavenly Father, there is a Heavenly 
Mother, yet we forget this in our daily 
interaction with spirituality. We forget 
that She is someone who might be just 
as concerned about us, Her children, as 
the Father is; we do not consider that 
She loves us with just as powerful a 
love. We do not remember or do not 
know that our prophets have spoken of 

Joseph Smith spoke of having seen 
both of our Heavenly Parents; he taught 
of Heavenly Mother. The Church ar- 
chives house the following account: 

One day the Prophet Joseph Smith 
asked [Zebedee Coltrin] and Sidney 
Rigdon to accompany him into the 
woods to pray. When they had reached 
a secluded spot Joseph laid down on 
his back and stretched out his arms. He 
told the brethren to lie one on each arm 
and then shut their eyes. After they had 
prayed he told them to open their eyes. 
They did so and they saw a brilliant 
light surrounding a pedestal which 
seemed to rest on the earth. They closed 
their eyes and again prayed. They then 
saw, on opening them, the Father seat- 
ed upon a throne; they prayed again 
and on looking saw the Mother also; 
after praying and looking the fourth 
time they saw the Savior added to the 
group. 2 

What an amazing account of the 
reality of our heavenly family, of the 
divine origins of our own families. We 
see here the whole of it, and the Mother 
is a central component. In the Journal 
of Discourses of February 1862, Heber 
C. Kimball relates Joseph Smith as say- 
ing "that he [Joseph] would not wor- 
ship a God who had not a Father; and I 
do not know that he would if he had not 
a mother; the one would be as absurd 
as the other." From the records of our 
Church's history, we know our prophet 
Joseph Smith saw and taught that we 
have a divine Mother who is logically, 
physically, and essentially a reality. 

2 (Abraham H. Cannon Journal, Aug. 25, 
1890, LDS Church Archives) 

Other prophets and leaders have 
taught similar ideas. Apostle Erastus 
Snow shared his understanding of the 
female deity: 

"If I believe anything that God has 
ever said about himself, and anything 
pertaining to the creation and organi- 
zation of man upon the earth, I must 
believe that Deity consists of man and 
woman [. . .] [TJhere can be no God 
except he is composed of the man and 
woman united, and there is not in all the 
eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a 
God in any other way [. . .] There never 
was a God, and there never will be in 
all eternities, except they are made of 
these two component parts; a man and 
a woman; the male and the female. " 3 

Apostle Snow saw God as being made 
up of two parts: a man and a woman, 
the unity of Heavenly Father and Heav- 
enly Mother. 

I remember the first time I learned 
that in the Hebrew, "Eloheim" is plural. 
At first this seemed incongruous with 
what I had learned through my youth, 
but it simultaneously resonated through 
me in such way that I knew it was truth; 
it only made sense that "God" must be 
plural, that "God" must be the celestial 
marriage of our Heavenly Father and 
Heavenly Mother, two parts of a whole, 
two partners in eternal life. Bruce R. 
McConkie taught this same principle: 

"An exalted and glorified Man of Holi- 
ness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Fa- 
ther unless a Woman of like glory, per- 
fection, and holiness was associated 
with him as a Mother. The begetting of 
children makes a man a father and a 
woman a mother, whether we are deal- 
ing with man in his mortal or immortal 
state" 4 

Finally, the prophet Joseph F. Smith 
explained, "Let us make man in our 
image after our likeness [. . .] Is it not 

Dulce Convivencia, Cuzco, Peru 

feasible to believe that female spirits 
were created in the image of a 'Mother 
in Heaven'?" 5 His emphasis implies a 
mother deity was involved in the plan- 
ning and decision making and was 
part of whatever group of exalted be- 
ings decided to create earthly men and 

We do have a Mother in Heaven. 
Knowing this, when we read The 
Family: A Proclamation to the World 
and when we understand our fami- 
lies should be patterned after this di- 
vine pattern, how does that change the 
way we see or understand our families 
and our place in them? How does that 
change what we see as the potential for 
our daughters? How does that change 
the things we teach our sons about 

In our last ward, we were sitting 
behind a young family with a two year- 
old son who was coloring pictures dur- 
ing Sacrament Meeting. He turned to 
his mother and asked for a new crayon, 
and she handed him a pink one. Imme- 
diately he started to cry, repeating with 
what seemed like offense and indigna- 
tion, "You gave me a girl crayon! I am 
not a girl! This is a pink crayon! This is 

a girl crayon!" Then he threw it back at 
his mother, who reverently returned it 
to the box, chose a different color, and 
gave him this new crayon. 

What have we taught our children, 
particularly our sons, to make them 
look down upon things constructed as 
feminine? Our daughters and our sons 
need to value the female and see them- 
selves in the feminine. We have been 
successful in teaching our daughters to 
use blue crayons and find themselves 
reflected in a Heavenly Father; we need 
to grant our sons the same gift. We need 
to de-stigmatize the pink crayon and 
teach our sons the necessity of seeing 
themselves reflected in their Heavenly 
Mother, too. 

Our Church leaders have long 
taught the necessity of sharing respon- 
sibilities in our families, regardless of 
gender. Elder James E. Faust quotes the 
late Elder G. Homer Durham: "Man, 
as well as woman, has obligations to 
learn the difficult art of fatherhood in 
homemaking. This is not a task just for 
the woman." 6 1 love the idea of "father- 
hood in homemaking." We should be 
teaching "fatherhood in homemaking" 
to our sons, and we should be teach- 
ing our daughters to value and choose 
to be with men who see "fatherhood in 
homemaking" as integral to their role 
as husband and father. Husbands and 
wives are to be equal partners, because 
our Heavenly Parents are equal part- 
ners. I cannot imagine it being other- 

It is not particularly easy to look 
at ourselves and see how ideas of dif- 
ference shape how we understand our 
relationships with our spouses. There 
are absolutely biological differences 
between women and men, but how do 
we view these differences in our cul- 
tures and in our own families? Do our 
interpretations let some of us off the 
hook? Do they empower others of us? 
Do they keep some of us from learning 
and growth? Do they restrict us or al- 

3 Journal of Discourses, Mar. 1 878 

4 Mormon Doctrine 1966 edition, p. 516. 

5 Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 3 (Salt 
Lake City: Deseret Book, 1960), p. 144. 

6 "A Message to My Granddaughters: Be- 
coming Great Women" (Ensign 1986), 

low us to shift responsibility onto our 
spouse? Do they keep us from being, as 
the Proclamation tells us we must be, 
"equal partners"? Virginia Woolf said, 
"Men and women are different. What 
needs to be made equal is the value 
placed on those differences." 

The default Christian explana- 
tion for the subjugation of women 
throughout the ages goes back to an 
interpretation of Eve's role in the Fall 
from the Garden of Eden. One of the 
most revolutionary and wonderful lib- 
erating truths of the restored gospel is 
our knowledge that the Fall of Adam 
and Eve was not a bad thing brought 
about by wickedness, but was instead 
a central component to God's plan. 
Our modern scriptures elucidate a very 
different reading of the Fall than has 
been traditionally understood. In Mo- 
ses 5:11, Eve refers to "our transgres- 
sion" — revealing it as something that 
she and Adam chose together, as part- 
ners. In the Doctrine and Covenants, 
section 29, we learn that Adam initiat- 
ed the Fall. President Kimball explains 
this more fully, stating that "Adam" is a 
plural proper noun, and in this scripture 
the term "Adam" means both Adam 
and Eve. President Kimball goes on to 
read these verses, inserting "Mr. And 
Mrs. Adam" where the scripture just 
says "Adam". 7 

Modern day revelation teaches how 
Adam and Eve, together as a partner- 
ship, made the critical, crucial deci- 
sion to act; surely they did this through 
consultation and agreement. If Adam 
and Eve had an equal partnership and 
an equal responsibility for their choic- 
es in the garden, how much more so 
must our Heavenly Parents have an 
equal partnership in their roles as di- 
vinities over this creation and plan? 
It is now time that we must really sit 
and ask ourselves, honestly and with- 
out pride, if we, in our marriages, have 
truly equal partnerships patterned after 
these divine examples. Just as we teach 

7 Kimball, "The Blessings and Responsibili- 
ties of Womanhood," (Ensign, Mar. 1976) 

our children to model themselves after 
Christ, we need to teach ourselves to 
model our families after God, a God 
who is both Father and Mother. As we 
look to the Proclamation for knowl- 
edge and guidance, what we discover 
is not simply a cursory explanation of 
roles and positions, but something far 
more subtle yet far more powerful: "All 
human beings — male and female — are 
created in the image of God. Each is a 
beloved spirit son or daughter of Heav- 
enly Parents." 

The Prophet Joseph Smith empha- 
sized the importance of knowing God 
if we are to know ourselves: He taught 
that "[i]f men do not comprehend the 
character of God, they do not compre- 
hend themselves," and, in the same dis- 
course, he quotes John 17:3 and para- 
phrases it thus: "If any man does not 
know God ... he has not eternal life; 
for there can be eternal life on no other 
principle." 8 

Brothers and Sisters, do we know 
God? Do we understand that God is 
a celestial marriage, that God is our 
Heavenly Father and our Heavenly 
Mother? We need to ask ourselves this, 
because if God is male and female, then 
eternal life is connected with knowing 
Her as well as knowing Him, to valuing 
Her as well as valuing Him. Whether 
you are a father or a mother, a son or 
a daughter, I believe that knowledge 
of our Heavenly Mother is crucial for 
each of us, that we might know our- 
selves as eternal beings. 

I would like to share a poem by the 
LDS author Carol Lynn Pearson. Its 
title is "Position," and it talks about the 
equity and partnership that can exist in 
our best marriages and families: 

If "A" looks up to "B" 

Then by nature of the physical universe 

"B" must look down on "A" 

Rather like two birds 


One on a tree 

And one on the ground. 

8 Teachings, 344 

Or so thought Marjorie 

Who had always wanted to marry 

A man she could look up to 

But wondered where that 

Would place her 

If she did. 

Imagine her astonishment 
When she met Michael and found 
That together they stood 
Physics on its head. 

You could never 
Draw this on paper 
For it defies design 

But year after year 

They lived a strange 


That by all known laws 

Could not occur: 

She looked up to him 
And he looked up to her. 9 

Our wonderful gospel teaches us of 
our Mother in Heaven. While we do 
not know much about Her, and while 
we do not pray to Her or worship Her 
in overt and ritualized ways, we should 
understand Her reality; Her existence 
should make us more aware of how we 
think of men and women, and Her mar- 
riage with God the Father should teach 
us how to be honest and true partners 
with our spouses, a value explicitly 
taught in The Family: A Proclama- 
tion to the World. Our knowledge that 
we are each a son or a daughter of our 
Heavenly Parents should enrich our un- 
derstanding of our divine natures and 
encourage us to see ourselves in both 
our Heavenly Father and Mother. Our 
knowledge of God as a marriage be- 
tween Heavenly Father and Heavenly 
Mother should infuse our own families 
with equality, equity, and partnership, 
from which we learn to place ourselves 
continually in such a way to serve one 
another, preside with one another, and 
in which we can both, simultaneously, 
look up to one another. ■ 

9 Pearson, "Position", Picture Window, Gold 
Leaf Press, 1996, 113. 


My Sunset Journey 

by Sandra Rembrandt 
Boulder City, Nevada 

Where is Mother? 

by Lindsay Hansen Park 
Stansbury Park, Utah 

I came to rest by the side of the road. 
The path ahead looked familiar, 

but different 
somehow, with challenging twists 

and turns. 
Though the journey ahead appeared 
extraordinarily long and deep, 

the actual 
crossing to the other side appeared not 
too far. 

Now what? 

then came the realization- 
I had reached the precipice of sunsets. 
That moment of awareness of self 
found me benumbed, without thought 
or word. 

Then as breath and air brought focus to 
the now, 

an exquisite, perfect moment occurred, 
an inner knowing, embraced and held 
with grateful recognition. Thank 

You, I whispered, 
feeling a smile. I am safe. 
I can sleep when the wind blows. 

What meaning, I can sleep when 

the wind blows? 
Have no fear. The way is clear. 
These words, long familiar, yet never 
settled in truth until now. 

Eager to learn, I walked to the edge 

of the precipice. 
As my eyes adjusted to the vastness of 
forever tomorrows, a relenting ego 
surrendered to Spirit. 
Stunned, I saw my Sunset being born. 

I remember how the air opened, offer- 
ing scents after rain, 
while myriads of vibrant color 

from the storehouse of wisdom, 

weaving, re-weaving 
lessons from past journeys into 

a carpet 
leading to my future. 

I saw colors — orange, yellow, red 

and violet 
whip across the blue vastness, 
rippling and twirling as dancers in an 
inspiring ballet 

move to a dance of fire, a dance 

of forgiveness, 
followed by freedom, hope and love. 

With quiet anticipation and a 

low chuckle 
I stepped onto the lighted path, 
remembering passions of early spring 
and with eyes twinkling in thought. 
I can do this. ■ 

Mother has living blood. 

veins blue and moving, 

like Earth. 

She speaks soft, 

as loud as shining morning. 

Her skin is one thousand roads 

driven on dust and rock and grit. 

We suck Her sighs into our breast, 

a breeze, breathing this whisper 

from Heaven. 

She bleeds, She bleeds, 

can you hear Her? ■ 


by Courtney Cooke 
Boise, Idaho 

Sticks and leaves 

Water and mud 

In a makeshift pond 

Along a tree lined path. 

Branches and clouds 

Blue and white sky 

Clearly reflected 

In an unclear puddle. 

Looking down 

where beauty is not, 

A reminder 

of what is above. 

Her countenance shines 

as the divine comes through 

despite flaws 

and distractions. ■ 

My Sunset Journey by Sandra Rembrandt 

Page 12 

Exponent II 

A Patchwork 

Blowing Dandelion Seeds 

by Steven Peck 
Pleasant Grove, Utah 

by Marsha Kay Ault 
Nacogdoches, Texas 

She rests on her grandmother's quilt, 
the Spring air cool, but sun warming — 

Winter's darkness. 
She, face turned to the sun, 
is thinking back on the line of mothers 
who gave her being and body . . . 

She thinks about 
an Eve, way back . . . 

Out of some Cambrian longing 
her distant grandmother emerged 
hard shelled, many limbed, 
singular in purpose, only a 
crustacean of sorts, but a 
crustacean on its way somewhere. 
What a piece of work, this creature. 

There would be many cuts, 
restitchings, corrections, additions, 
before her story appeared leaping 
onto this wet fabric, around this sun, 

in this 
neighborhood of stars, 
in this galaxy, in this cluster, in 

this universe, 
in this multiverse, in this embedding, 

in this quilt. 

She is a small thing compared to a star, 
attached to eternity 

by only a pineal of complexity — maybe 
netting consciousness from some other 
place. Is she some eternal piecework or 

does she arise like her 

arthropod grandmother 

new and shining from lesser things? 

On this day, she notices that 
a far more distant 
relation has shed an apple 
leaf, which spirals 
downward with grace. 

She, saturated in connections, turning 
over, leans off the quilt 
and breaths in the scent of fragrant 
Spring grass, 

face first, she smells existence 
in the loam, and feels some of 
Schopenhauer's Will 
wrapping its arms around her 

and whispering 
sentences that that grandmother 

knew and 
passed on to this mammal woman, 
her child's child and so on. 
Mothers running backwards, for eons. 

This patchwork on which she lies 

is of certain origins, and 

she can wrap herself in its squares 

and enjoy its warmth and the mercy of 

the long chain of its history and 

its intent. ■ 

This poem was originally published on Wilderness Interface Zone 
http://www. wilderness, motleyvision. org 

I saw a pregnant seed head 
out on my morning walk 
full of tiny parachutes 
each connected to a seed 
my little grandchildren love 
to pull these stems, blow, 
scatter feathered follicles 
heavenward, and watch 
the winged seeds 
float through the air 
to unknown fertile fields 
blooming yellow flowers 
I thought of a dear widow 
whose husband just died, 
separated from his mortal port 
his spirit dispersed 
to an unknown heavenly realm, 
she longs to touch, to see, 
to feel his presence again 
her numbness and sorrow 
to be washed away 
with fresh falling rain 
of trust and peace 
blooming yellow flowers 
on winged parachutes of faith, i 

Stardollars by Erin S. Tripp, Salt Lake City, Utah 

Global Zion 

Giving voice to the international and multicultural experience of women in the Mormon Church. 
Muslim Mormon? 

by Erica Eastley 
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 

My husband and I cupped our hands in 
front of us as we chanted the Fatihah 
in Arabic with Jyldyz and Bobir. We've 
recited the Fatihah all over the world 
and its words mirror our beliefs: 

In the name of God, the infinitely 
Compassionate and Merciful. 

Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds. 

The Compassionate, the Merciful. 

Ruler on the Day of Reckoning. 

You do we worship, and You do we 
ask for help. 

Guide us on the straight path... 

"Are you Muslim?" Bobir asked my 
husband when we finished, using the 
informal form of "you" for the first 
time since we'd met them. Praying to- 
gether does that, but we didn't know 
enough Kyrgyz to explain how our re- 
spect for Islam and belief in the gospel 
of Jesus Christ support each other. We 
could only show that respect through 
our Arabic words and gestures. After 
the prayer we sang together in their 
tiny wagon, high in the mountains of 
Kyrgyzstan where they host tourists 
in a yurt and care for sheep, horses, 
yaks, and cattle. The animals chorused 
around the yurt that night while the 
sheep-dung fire warmed us. 

As I've lived, traveled, studied, 
learned the languages, and blogged in 
the Middle East and Central Asia with 
my husband and children over the last 
15 years, I've had the opportunity to 
learn about a variety of Muslim cul- 
tures, particularly those in Central Asia 
where we've lived for several years. 
Ethnicity, culture, and religion inter- 
twine in Central Asia, partly as a result 

Page 14 

of Soviet definitions and partly for his- 
torical reasons. Saying you are Muslim 
in Central Asia might not mean you 
strictly subscribe to Islamic doctrines 
or go to the mosque to pray often, but 
simply that you are a good Kazakh or 
follow the Kyrgyz way. 

I've also been able to see how the 
Church works in different cultures and 
countries. It can be difficult for mem- 
bers from those cultures to navigate 
LDS cultural expectations when those 
expectations are so different from 
their own. The LDS Church is often 
described as an American-centered 
church, but I'd like to suggest that, 
more than Americentric, its roots are 
firmly planted in Christian, and most 
especially, Protestant belief and prac- 
tice. As a result, I think there might be 
more pressure to act "Christian" than to 
act "American." 

Instead of insisting that we are 
Christian, with all the cultural, linguis- 
tic, and historical baggage that term 
carries worldwide, we should focus 
on following Christ and recognize that 
there are many ways to do that beyond 
traditional Christianity. Helping new 
members find familiar ways to follow 
Christ has to be more effective than 
trying to fit everyone into a prescribed 
mold that might be uncomfortable. 

For example, there are many rev- 
erent prayer postures throughout the 
world. In Central Asia, people pray 
with their hands cupped, finishing with 
an "amin" and running their hands 

down their faces. However, those 
prayer rituals change sometimes when 
a Central Asian joins the Church. Well- 
meaning missionaries might tell new 
converts they ought to pray with their 
arms folded and heads bowed, or those 
new converts make the switch simply 
because some of the people around 
them are praying that way. 

There are also many cultural expec- 
tations surrounding religious holidays. 
One Easter I ate with some Central 
Asian Mormons when Easter was cel- 
ebrated on the same day by all Chris- 
tians. One sister asked if Mormons cel- 
ebrate Easter; she had never celebrated 
Easter herself because Easter, like 
Christmas, is a Russian Orthodox holi- 
day in Central Asia. If those holidays 
are celebrated by LDS Central Asians, 
and they often aren't, it might be con- 
venient for them to be observed on the 
Orthodox dates. But there is sometimes 
pressure from American Mormons to 
encourage Central Asian Mormons to 
celebrate those holidays on the tradi- 
tional Protestant/Catholic dates with 
American traditions. 

In addition, a Central Asian mem- 
ber might be encouraged to stop cel- 
ebrating Navruz, an ancient Spring 
festival that is currently tied to Islam in 
Central Asia, even though the holiday 
is far older than Islam. Is it always nec- 
essary for members of the Church to 
celebrate Easter and Christmas if they 
don't feel comfortable doing so, or to 
stop observing Navruz? 

Exponent II 

American Christian Mormons also 
might have expectations about leaving 
behind former religious identification. 
An American missionary told about a 
conversation he'd had not long after 
he began serving in Central Asia. "I'm 
still Muslim," a Central Asian returned 
missionary told the surprised American 
at church. That might sound illogical 
based on what many Mormons think 
about Islam, but in Central Asia where 
a Mormon Kazakh retains her Muslim 
culture because she is Kazakh, it is log- 

These experiences make me won- 
der how the Church might be differ- 
ent if it had been restored in a Catholic 
or Buddhist or Muslim country. How 
would we hold our hands for prayer; 
what books of scripture might we turn 
to besides the Book of Mormon or 
Doctrine and Covenants? How would 
Joseph Smith have framed the Articles 
of Faith? And even more important, 
what would be the same? 

Of course there are aspects of 
Mormonism that aren't Protestant, es- 
pecially the organizational structure 
which is a lot more familiar to many 

Photographs courtesy of the author 

Catholic and Orthodox Christians. But 
the culture of the LDS Church is heav- 
ily influenced by Protestant culture and 
practice. This isn't surprising or nec- 
essarily a bad thing, but it does affect 
how the Church and its doctrines are 
received by people whose background 
isn't Protestant. 

Obviously former Catholics make 
up, by far, the biggest group of mem- 
bers of the Church whose background 
isn't Protestant, but since they come 
from that traditional Christian back- 
ground, the Protestant influence isn't 
so glaringly different. We are also 
comfortable allowing Jewish converts 
to the Church to maintain their Jew- 
ish identity. Some American Mormons 
with Christian roots observe Jewish re- 
ligious practices themselves. We often 
see strong connections and little con- 
tradiction between Jewish and Mormon 
religious practices. In short, we sepa- 
rate Judaism from Jewish culture and 
accept many Jewish religious practices 
as cultural. I think we can do the same 
with Muslim converts from Central 
Asia where being Muslim is as much 
about culture as it is about religion. 

For the many Mormon converts 
whose frame of reference is not Chris- 
tianity or Judaism, many aspects of 
Judeo-Christian religious history that 
long-time adherents take for granted 
might get lost in translation. For exam- 
ple, I was reading the Articles of Faith 
together with some Central Asian sis- 
ters. I'd always considered the Articles 
of Faith to be a basic outline of many 
LDS beliefs, but I had to change my 
thinking after reading them with mem- 
bers who used to be Soviet Muslims. 
Punished for Adam's transgression? 
Gift of tongues? The gathering of Isra- 
el? The admonition of Paul? Who was 
Paul? Those phrases meant nothing 
to them, but articles of faith outlining 
LDS belief from a Central Asian per- 
spective would be confusing to most 
Mormons outside Central Asia. 

There is also a major gap in our 
teaching when we don't understand 
what others already believe, are famil- 
iar with, or are comfortable with. This 
is especially noticeable with isolated 
members whose gospel instruction 
comes almost entirely through Church 
publications instead of being taught by 
people from their own culture and re- 
ligious background. The Central Asian 
members I know have a difficult time 
understanding the basic manuals of the 
Church - not because they aren't well 
educated (they are all very well educat- 
ed), but because they're trying to learn 
about an entirely new topic where very 
little attempt has been made to make 
connections with their cultural and reli- 
gious background. 

Central Asians are particularly dis- 
advantaged because no Church materi- 
als have been published in any Central 
Asian language, so everything they 
read and learn comes not only with this 
Protestant bias, but also through a Rus- 
sian language filter since all the church 


Considering the Goddess 

manuals are published in Russian. 
Would you have much success learn- 
ing about Islam from a book written 
for Muslims, translated into English by 
Pakistanis for Nigerian Muslims? 

Jesus himself tailored his message 
to his hearers, speaking in parables to 
some, quoting the scriptures to oth- 
ers, and using more than one language. 
Each book of scripture demonstrates 
that He speaks to different people at 
different times in different places in dif- 
ferent ways based on their understand- 
ing. We miss so many opportunities to 
teach when we cannot connect on that 
basic level of mutual understanding. 

I cannot believe God only speaks in 
English or Protestant terms. He speaks 
in words and ideas that are familiar to 
us, whether the language is Russian or 
Spanish or Uzbek, or the concepts are 
from a Muslim, Catholic or Hindu point 
of view. It's easy for us to find things 
that help us follow Christ and are good 
and familiar in traditional Christianity; 
I hope in the future we can do the same 
with other religious traditions. ■ 

Phyllis Barber 
Denver, Colorado 

Editor s Note: This piece is an excerpt 
from the essay, "The Goddesses in 
Quintana Roo, "part of a forthcoming 
collection of essays called Searching 
for Spirit. 

In the freewheeling decade of the 
eighties, my friend Leslie, wearing 
a long purple cape and the tiara of a 
high priestess, called me to stand in 
the middle of a circle of five people. 
The season was spring, it was my 40th 
birthday, and her living room had been 
transformed into a ceremonial space 
with jerry-rigged velvet curtains, a 
sideboard converted into an altar 
topped with candles, a bowl of floating 
gardenias, two vases of purple irises, 
and a statue of Isis. The two men in the 
group wore loose white robes, while the 
other two women and I were dressed in 
long white gowns. Mine was a drapy, 
Roman-looking concoction covering 
only one shoulder — an item Wonder 
Woman might have worn to prom. It 
was also something I'd conjured from 
my dreams of queens and empresses. 

My youngest of four sons was eight 
years old, causing me to wonder about 
who and what I was in addition to moth- 
er and wife. Leslie had been following 
her dream of conducting ceremonies to 
help women explore the goddess within 
themselves. Tonight, she'd offered to 
do this for me. I had nothing to lose by 
committing myself in a ceremonial rit- 
ual. Why not accept the goddess with- 
in — the one who knew how she wanted 
to express herself in the world and what 
she wanted to give back? It was time 
to move on from my bad habit of hesi- 
tation, equivocation, and the familial 
tendency toward self-effacement. Did 
pre-environment have anything to say 
about it? Leslie led us through a ritual 

acknowledging the four directions — a 
process compiled from Native Ameri- 
can and Wiccan traditions and her fe- 
cund imagination. She instructed me to 
stand and receive a purple velvet cape, 
which she tied around my shoulders. 
As we began, part of me vacillated be- 
tween belief and disbelief. Part of me 
took this occasion seriously. Through 
ritual and ceremony, one could mark 
the passages and phases of one's life, 
honor the good, the highest, and the 
best in one's self. But was I indulg- 
ing Leslie because she was my friend? 
Because I wanted her to have what she 
wanted? Maybe it was make-believe to 
think I had a goddess within. A child of 
God or a God in embryo, maybe, but 
Goddess? The word sounded slightly 
scandalous to my Mormon-trained ears 
that had always heard about God as a 

As a young girl, I loved listening 
to "Let's Pretend" on the radio and, 
afterward, playing dress-up with the 
luminous pink silk trousers and frog- 
fastened turquoise and yellow silk tops 
my father brought home from Shang- 
hai at the end of World War II. Mother 
kept this extravagance of exotic fabric 
in the substantial, well-used Kirby vac- 
uum box in a storage closet. My older 
sister, my brother, and I were forever 
dragging the Chinese clothes from that 
purple box with faded lettering and en- 
tering into worlds where we could be 
anyone: Chinese, young, old, regal, 
powerful. If I listened carefully when 
dressed in vibrant silk, I could hear a 
nightingale. A houseboat could arrive 
to take me down the Yellow River to 
a palace filled with jade and princesses 
with crystal chimes hanging from their 
puffed-up hair. Why not be in my own 
fairy tale now? A character in a myth, 
possibly brushing against the tangent 
of something important? 

From a shadowed corner, Leslie 
lifted a long, forest-green velvet bag 
lined with satin and embellished with 
a strip of brocade. It was tied with a 
coarsely woven ribbon of cotton yarn 
embedded with a ladder design. From 
the depths of that bag, she drew out an 
exquisitely wrought metal sword. The 
hilt was knobbed with opposing heads 
of Gorgons — those vicious protectors. 
The design on the upper portion of 
the blade had been fashioned after the 
Celtic knot. This was a real sword. Not 
a let's-pretend-it's-a-sword cardboard 
fabrication. I'd only seen such things in 
illustrated books of myths and legends, 
and, of course, in the movies. 

Except it wasn't a real sword for 
cutting or thrusting because it wasn't 
sharp enough to cut my finger when I 
rubbed its blunted edge. It was a cer- 
emonial weapon rather than something 
to carry into battle. It hadn't been made 
for plunging into someone's heart, but 
rather to defend the honor of one's self 
within one's self. 

Leslie placed this symbol in my 
hands — this reminder of knights and 
honor and gallantry. I stilled in awe that 
such a thing was being passed 
to me. The basket- weave metal 
hand grip weighed heavily in my 
left hand. The tip of the sword in 
my right hand felt light by com- 

"Let this help you achieve 
clarity," she said. 

I wanted to say, "Wow!" I felt 
myself opening to receive a new 
flow of possibility, even a new 
story about who I could be. But 
then my contrarian tendencies 
infiltrated my brain again. Was 
this play-acting? Suspended on 
a bridge between two realities, I 
didn't know which way to point 
my feet. 

"Remember the Lady of the 
Lake," she said, her pale blue 
eyes reminding me of picture- 
book illustrations of ice prin- 
cesses. "She holds the sword in 

the stillness of water until it's drawn 
out for use in the world. You're not 
in alignment with your true source of 
power if you see power as something 
outside yourself. The sword is not about 
power over another, but about power 
emanating from your deepest, most 
authentic source. This comes from self- 
acceptance, integrity, and commitment 
to your evolution. With the gift of this 
sword, you are being asked to 'knight' 
yourself, to empower yourself in the 
talents and gifts that you carry in this 
lifetime. This is a call to take risks in 
sharing your gifts with others." 

In a sudden departure from vacilla- 
tion, I surrendered. I gave myself over 
to the blurred edge between reality and 
fantasy. I stood in front of Leslie look- 
ing into her Scandinavian eyes and ac- 
cepted the gift she was giving — atten- 
tion being paid to the me who struggled 
to find the self she thought she could 
be. This ceremony was bigger than I'd 
allowed myself to imagine, this experi- 
ence of finding the goddess within. 

"Our Father, Who art in Heaven..." 
Our Mother, Who art in Earth? Hal- 
lowed be thy names. Who of us can 

truly know God? Many have ideas 
about who and what G-d, Yahweh, Al- 
lah, Shiva, the Unutterable Name of 
the Divine is, but does anyone really 
know? We can guess, conjecture, muse, 
study sacred writings, testimonies, eye- 
witness accounts, etc., but aren't we 
all hoping to know something Infinite 
that may not be knowable to the small 
brains cramped inside of small cra- 
niums on the shoulders of our small 
bodies walking down narrow streets 
in large cities in big countries in a vast 
number of universes? 

I have my cultural impressions of 
God, gleaned from the religion of my 
birth. The Mormons believe there is a 
God the Father with "body, parts, and 
passions." But there are rumblings 
about a Mother. The pragmatic words 
"In the heavens are parents single?/ 
No, the thought makes reason stare./ 
Truth is reason, truth eternal,/ tells me 
I've a mother there," 1 were penned by 
Eliza Snow, a 19th-century Mormon 
poet with close ties to Joseph Smith, 
the founder of the religion. These were 
then set to music to create "O My Fa- 
ther," a favorite hymn. In addition, 
"The Origin of Man" document 
issued by the First Presidency of 
the LDS Church in 1909 states: 
"All men and women are in the 
similitude of the universal Father 
and Mother and are literally the 
sons and daughters of Deity . . . 
man, as a spirit, was begotten and 
born of Heavenly Parents." 2 

Even with these mentions of 
the Mother, the Divine Feminine 
seems a rather quiet entity, mostly 
ignored by the religious masses, 
except, that is, for her appearance 
as the Virgin Mary, whom Mor- 
mons respect but don't revere 
in the way some religions do. I 
sometimes feel envious of my 
"lapsed Catholic" friend Mary, 
and her devotion to and adora- 
tion of La Virgen de Guadalupe, 

Restful Mood, by Annie Henrie, Provo, Utah 

1 Oh My Father, LDS Hymnal, 292. 

2 Ensign, February 2002, 26-30. 

and the altar on which she lights can- 
dles daily. Then there are the myths in 
which the Goddess of All Things is the 
Earth Mother. The Peruvians call her 
Pachamama or "Mother Universe." 
And the mystical matriarchal figures 
such as Shakti, Eurynome, Demeter, 
Gaia, Tiamat, and Corn Mother, origi- 
nating from folk wisdom and celebrat- 
ing the realm of the feminine — the 
Earth. As for the truth of the matter, I 
have no expert opinion to offer. All I 
know is that sometimes I like to whis- 
per, "Dear Mother," to the embodiment 
of human life and its continuity, the 
nurturing side of Divinity. 

Recently, I tried something bold- 
er: addressing the Divine Mother in 
my morning prayer, but the words "O 
Goddess, the Eternal Mother," or "Our 
Mother in Heaven," didn't trip so eas- 
ily off the tongue of my mind as "Our 
Father Who art in Heaven." Even the 
thought of those words makes me feel 
like a daredevil or a blasphemer. Heav- 
enly Father is imprinted indelibly in the 
language center of my particular brain. 
But why has the pronoun for the inef- 
fable become He, Him, or His rather 
than She, Her, or Hers, or even It? 
Doesn't the ultimate God and Knower 
of All Things embody all aspects of 
humanity: the female and the male, the 

yin and the yang, the Creator and the 
Created, the Lover and the Beloved, 
and whatever can be imagined beyond 

When I think about Michelangelo's 
Pieta carved into stone, I feel what it 
would be like to be Mother Mary hold- 
ing the humanity of Christ in her arms, 
stroking his lifeless cheek, gazing down 
at her beloved son. I've cradled four 
newborn sons in my arms and luxuri- 
ated in their smell, their newness, the 
pulse beating in their necks. I've also 
held a dying son and stroked his slack 
skin with the backs of my fingers, even 
with one knuckle. I've felt his human 
body glazing over as life departed. The 
weight of his enervated flesh on my 
lap. I mourned this son. I wept for him. 

I can also feel my own mother's 
arms holding me after I came home 
crying after a bad fall from my bicycle. 
She picked pea gravel from the scraped 
skin on my thigh. She washed and ban- 
daged and loved me, and scolded me, 
because she wanted her daughter to 
be safe. My mother could be exacting 
and harsh, but still, I can relate to the 
caring aspect of God better than to an 
Old Testament God who is continually 
frustrated by His children (who rarely 
obey Him), a God who demands total 
obedience and threatens extinction to 
those children who don't 

"Turn to the Mother- 
hood of God, the Moth- 
er-aspect of God," writer 
Andrew Harvey says in 
The Return of the Mother. 
"Allow its unconditional 
love to begin to penetrate 
your mind, heart, and be- 
ing. Whatever religion 
you belong to . . . what- 
ever non-religion you 
don't practice, imagine 
the Motherhood of God, 
turn to it in fearless inti- 
macy, and allow its love 
to reach you." ■ 


Grace in Gold, by Annie Henrie 

On August 1st of this year, our be- 
loved sister, Chieko Okazaki, passed 
away. With her passing, the LDS com- 
munity lost one of its most charismatic 
and engaging authors, speakers and ac- 
tivists. Her experience living in a soci- 
ety in which she was often marginal- 
ized — whether for her race, her religion 
or her sex — offered her a perspective 
that made her especially sensitive to 
those who felt like they did not "fit in" 
with LDS Church culture and helped 
her lead as the first counselor and the 
first woman of color in the General Re- 
lief Society presidency in the 1990's. 

As a rhetorician, Sister Okazaki 
told her stories with clarity, skill, and 
heart, bringing hope and courage to 
those who heard her speak. She taught 
true Christian discipleship, encouraged 
us to study the scriptures deeply, and to 
forgive each other and ourselves. She 
modeled a way to do this without giv- 
ing up her sense of humor or feistiness. 

At Exponent II, we considered how 
to best mark Sister Okazaki's passing 
and pay tribute to her legacy. We real- 
ized to do her justice, this would take 
more than a column or two. So, we are 
planning a special segment in our Sum- 
mer 2012 issue to celebrate her life. If 
you have a story or a moment when 
your life was touched by Sister Oka- 
zaki's teachings or service, please send 
your submissions to editor@exponen- ■ 

Goodness Gracious 

The Gospel According to Angry Birds 

by Linda Hoffman Kimball 
Evanston, Illinois 

"In Angry Birds, players control a flock of multicolored 
birds that are attempting to retrieve eggs stolen by a group 
of evil green pigs. On each level, the pigs are sheltered by 
structures. The objective of the game is to eliminate all the 
pigs in the level. Using a slingshot, players launch the birds 
with the intent of either hitting the pigs directly or damaging 
the structures, which would cause them to collapse and kill 
the pigs. — Wikipedia on the game play of the puzzle video 
game Angry Birds 

Spending obsessive hours smashing green pigs with 
slung birds revealed valuable life lessons for me. (At least, 
spending time and mental energy constructing an elaborate 
defense for spending obsessive hours smashing green pigs 
with slung birds revealed a few.) 

Angry Birds teaches that perseverance pays off. 
When you embrace Angry Birds, you embrace prophetic 
counsel from Heber J. Grant and the wisdom of a sage, Ralph 
Waldo Emerson. Grant (President of the church 1918-1945) 
was known for his determination. He overcame personal 
limitations and excelled despite them. His favorite saying 
was Ralph Waldo Emerson's adage: "That which we persist 
in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the thing has 
changed but our ability to do it has increased." (Some think 
that the quote was President Grant's, but no. It was Emer- 

Learning anything - from penmanship to the laws of 
physics (which is really what's happening when Angry 
Birds' players explode pigs) - requires sticktoitiveness. 
No matter how many times the slingshot's angle isn't quite 
right, hit the reset button and persevere! This relentless ap- 
petite for learning the skills and pitfalls at every level is just 
a laptop version of Eternal Progression. 

One person 's OCD is another person 's perseverance. 

Angry Birds offers a practicum for Joshua 1:9: Have not I 
commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not 
afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] 
with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

Enemies abound in Angry Birds. There are the pigs 
themselves - simple green pigs, pigs fortified with helmets, 
moustaches or crowns; mini-pigs in remote corners; pigs 

Angry Birds Logo, Copyright Rovio Entertainment Ltd. 

suspended by balloons. Then there are their myriad contrap- 
tions and bulwarks. 

Yet I find the worst enemy to be my pesky inner critic. 
In my head it yells, "Bad aimer!" "Flubber!" "Time waster!" 
This pest is bolstered in Angry Birds by the snarky graphic 
that proclaims "level failed!" again and again and again. 
Diffusing this negative thinking requires faith and fortitude. 
Remember D&C 122:7 "...All these things give thee expe- 
rience and shall be for thy good." Take risks knowing that 
each supposed "failure" teaches the skill sets of the birds 
and the foibles of the pigs who threaten (in Angry Birds and 
in real life ). Meanwhile, learn aerodynamics and structural 
engineering in the process. 

Angry Birds takes "Peace, be still!" to new levels. 

Like riding the wild, tempestuous sea, Angry Birds can 
make you fearful and anxious. 

Some of this anxiety takes a physical form. While Angry 
Birds is no aerobic Wii experience, you may find yourself 
shaking your iPad, twitching your leg, or leaning to the right 
in futile efforts to encourage longer flights, rolling boulders, 
or to nudge pig heads off outcroppings. These motions will 
do you no good, but - except for making you look ridiculous 
if others are nearby - they will also do no harm. 

The larger task is to "keep calm and carry on." If you 
can keep a hopeful, trusting attitude while pursing level 
after level like a stalwart pioneer in uncharted terrain, you 
will prevail. There must surely be a way to progress, or why 
would Angry Birds be selling like crazy, right? 

Take these lessons to heart, enjoy and flourish. May your 
nests be restored to their fullness. May your bomb birds set- 
tle low and your toucans ricochet in righteousness. ■ 

Vol. 31, No. 3 

Page 19 

Women's Theology 

Inclusive Language in the Latter-day Saint Hymnal 

by Emily Parker Updegraff 
Evanston, Illinois 

Nephi likened the scriptures unto himself, and we are ad- 
monished to do the same. This involves forming analogies. 
For example, the Good Samaratin is to binding wounds with 
oil and wine as I am providing rides to church. Other times 
likening needs no analogy because the scriptures give direct 
injunctions. King Benjamin concludes his great sermon with 
a very clear one: "And now, O man, remember, and per- 
ish not." For men, this likening of scripture to oneself is a 
straightforward mental process, but for women there is often 
a hitch. Because the language of scripture is almost entirely 
male-oriented, women must first make an analogy before 
likening the scriptures to themselves: man is to humankind 
as woman is to humankind. 

I have made such analogies so much that they've be- 
come almost automatic. I accept that, for its English-speak- 
ing members, the Church uses the King James Version of 
the Bible rather than a more modern and gender-sensitive 
translation, and the Book of Mormon is unlikely to ever be 
adapted to modern English. Still, the pronouns used in a text 
influence the way that people think about its content. Hence, 
the advice to replace "we" with "I" 1 or to use your own name 
in place of the word "you" when reading the scriptures. 2 So, 
while I am accustomed to likening texts written in male- 
oriented language to myself, nevertheless, I must perform 
an extra mental step before I can apply them to my life. This 
process can be distracting at times. 

In recent years, the Church has shown sensitivity to the 
fact that male-oriented language may sound exclusionary to 
modern ears. For example, the introductions to some of the 
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals contain 
the following disclaimer: 

"President McKay [or Kimball or Woodruff] often used 
terms such as men, man, or mankind to refer to all people, 
both male and female. He also commonly used the pronoun 
he to refer to both genders. This was common in the lan- 
guage of his era. Despite the differences between these lan- 
guage conventions and more current usage, readers will find 


Number of times 

Number of times 

"mankind" appears 

"humankind" appears 























"Mankind" and "humankind" usage in General Conference 
since 1970 (not including quotations). These data were obtained 
using the Advanced Search Options at 

that President McKays teachings are equally applicable 
and valuable to both women and men. " 3 

This passage acknowledges two important things: one, that 
male-oriented language can alienate female readers; and two, 
that modern language (at least modern English) eschews 
male-oriented language in favor of inclusive language. 

The sensitivity to inclusive language shown in the Presi- 
dents of the Church manuals is also apparent in General 
Conference. As shown in the table above, usage of "man- 
kind" in General Conference has decreased over the past 30 
years, from an average of 8.4 times per conference between 
1970-1974 to an average of 4.6 times per conference from 
2005-2009. There also has been a concomitant (though nu- 
merically small) increase in the usage of "humankind." Ad- 
ditionally, in the April 2010 General Conference "mankind" 
was used just 5 times and male pronouns were never used to 
describe a mixed group. Thus, Church leaders are increas- 
ingly replacing male-oriented language with inclusive lan- 
guage in their sermons. And if current sermons reflect inclu- 
siveness, shouldn't the Church's current publications show 
similar sensitivity? 

Unfortunately, Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-day Saints is not a publication that demonstrates 

1 Marlin K. Jensen, "The Message: Making a Mighty Change," The 
New Era June 2001, 5. 

2 The Presidents of the Church: Teacher s Manual. The Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT. 1996, 152. 

3 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay. The 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT. 2003, 
v. The introductions to the Spencer W. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff 
manuals contain the same text as the McKay manual. 

great inclusivity. Of its 326 unique hymn texts, 91 contain 
male-oriented language (using "man" or "mankind" to de- 
note humanity, "brethren" to denote a mixed group, or "he/ 
him" to denote a mixed group). Given the frequency with 
which hymns are sung and the general importance of hymns 
in Mormon life (i.e., the First Presidency introduction to 
Hymns says, "We hope the hymnbook will take a prominent 
place among the scriptures and other religious books in our 
homes" 4 ), it is significant that nearly one-third of the hymns 
in the LDS hymnal contain male-oriented language. In a 
publication as oft used as the hymnal, the Church should 
consider using inclusive language. 

Making the hymnal inclusive would involve revising ex- 
isting hymn texts. Would removing male-oriented language 
be akin to rewriting scripture? Would it ruin the poetic na- 
ture of beloved hymns? While it is hoped that hymn texts 
will have a place "among the scriptures and other religious 
books" in Mormon homes, hymn texts do not have the im- 
mutable nature of scripture and there is precedence for 
changing them, as discussed below. Additionally, if Church 
leaders saw fit to make hymn texts inclusive, much male- 
oriented language could be corrected by a single word sub- 
stitution that would not alter the meaning, flow, or poetic 
nature of the text. For example, the phrase "that man may 
rest" in "Gently Raise the Sacred Strain" could be rendered 
"that all may rest" or "that we may rest." Or, the fourth verse 
of "Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth" could read "One 
general chorus then shall rise from those of every tongue" 
rather than "from men of every tongue." 

This kind of simple word substitution is commonly and 
tastefully done in other Christian hymnals. Take, for ex- 
ample, three popular hymns found both in Hymns and in 
hymnals from the Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian 

"All Glory, Laud and Honor" Verse 2 5 6 

LDS Hymnal 

Hymnbook 1982 

The company of angels 
Are praising thee on high 
And mortal men and all 

Created make reply. 

The company of angels 
Is praising thee on high; 
And we will all creation 
In chorus make reply. 

4 Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret 
Book Company, Salt Lake City, UT. 1985, x. 

5 Hymnbook 1982 (New York, N. Y. : The Church Pension Fund, 
1985), 154). 

6 Evangelical Lutheran Worship renders it "Creation and all mortals/ 
in chorus make reply" 

"Christ the Lord is Risen Today" Verse 1 7 ! 

LDS Hymnal 

Evangelical Lutheran Wor- 
ship (Evangelical Lutheran 
Chruch of America) 

Christ the Lord is risen 

today, Alleluia! 
Sons of men and angels say 


Christ the Lord is risen 

All on earth with angels 
say Alleluia! 

"Jesus the Very Thought of Thee" Verse 2 9 

LDS Hymnal 

Hymns, Psalms, and Spiri- 
tual Songs (Presbyterian) 

A sweeter sound than thy 

blest name, 

O Savior of mankind! 

A sweeter sound than Thy 

blest name, 

O Savior of us all. 

These examples demonstrate that revising hymn texts to 
be gender-neutral and inclusive can be done in an aestheti- 
cally pleasing manner, and in such a way as to not change 
the meaning of the text or to alter the meter and flow of well- 
known and loved hymns. 

At some future date, Hymns will be revised. When it is, 
modifying existing texts to be more inclusive would do a 
service to both women and men, in making explicit the fact 
that the teachings of the hymn apply equally and are equally 
valuable to all. At the very least, any new hymn texts in- 
cluded in a newly published hymnal should contain inclu- 
sive language, as other Christian publishing houses currently 
demand. 10 Such revisions and requirements would also be in 
keeping with the trend toward using inclusive language in 
the sermons and writings of modern Church leaders. 

Would anything be lost by modifying existing texts? Two 
primary concerns might be a loss of poetic value and a pos- 
sible betrayal of fidelity to the author's original words. In 
the great majority of cases, a simple solution may be found 
that preserves the poetic nature of the text, as in the above 
examples. Regarding fidelity to the original text, the Church 
has already shown a willingness to change texts for various 
reasons. Examples of modified texts in Hymns include "Joy 

7 This hymn text is set to different tunes in these two hymnals, hence 
the omission of "Alleluia" in the Lutheran hymnal. Hymns uses Easter 
Hymn and Worship uses Orientis partibus. 

8 Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis, M.N.: Augsburg For- 
tress, 2006), 373. 

9 Hymns, Psalms, & Spiritual Songs (Louisville, K.Y.: Westminster/ 
John Knox Press, 1990), 310. 

10 The Augsburg Fortress guidelines for sacred music submissions 
read: "All publications should show a concern for inclusive language. 
While classic texts are normally honored and retained for their poetic 
value, new texts for hymnody, psalmody, and liturgical rites should 
include generally accepted inclusive language for humanity." http://augs- (accessed 21 September, 2010) 

to the World" and "Praise to the Man." 
Hymns retains changes to "Joy to the 
World" made by William W. Phelps in 
order to give the text a more millennial 
meaning ("Saints and angels sing" rath- 
er than "heaven and nature"). 11 And the 
first two lines of "Praise to the Man" 
originally read, "Long may his blood, 
which was shed by assassins, / Stain Il- 
linois while the earth lauds his fame." 
But "when the Latter-day Saint Hymn 
Book was compiled in 1927, in order to 
be in harmony with the 'good neighbor' 
policy of the Church and nation, the ... 
line quoted above was changed." 12 

Would removing male-oriented 
language be akin to rewriting 
scripture? Would it ruin the po- 
etic nature of beloved hymns? 

Clearly, the Church wishes to avoid 
giving offense and is willing to sacri- 
fice fidelity to an author's text when 
modern sensibilities require it. Show- 
ing sensitivity to more than half of the 
Church's own members is at least as 
important as not offending its neigh- 
bors. As a final point, the goal of in- 
clusivity may be flexible enough to 
allow for exemptions in certain cases, 
for instance where scripture is directly 
quoted (as in "Love One Another") 
or in rare cases where the meter of a 
verse cannot possibly be maintained if 
changes are made. 

What would be gained if hymn 
texts were made more inclusive? Wom- 
en and men would not need caveats and 
explanations to understand that a text is 
meant for both sexes. And when read- 
ers are not taking the step of making 
analogies in a text, they can focus more 
on its message. The scriptures are for 
us, for our generation. And so are the 
hymns. It should be explicitly clear that 
their message is not just for males. ■ 

1 1 Davidson, Karen Lynn, Our Latter-day 
Hymns, the Stories and the Messages (Salt 
Lake City, U.T.: Bookcraft, 1988), 214. 

12 Ibid. 56. 

Making a Family with Donor Sperm 

April Young Bennett 
South Jordan, Utah 

"What man is there of you, whom if his 
son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a 
serpent? " 

Long before children start asking 
for bread and fish, all biological parents 
gave their children a few stones and 
serpents through their DNA, like bad 
eyesight or crooked teeth. Ours were 
more serious than average. 

My husband, Jared, has two chron- 
ic diseases. He was born with neurofi- 
bromatosis (NF). NF causes tumors to 
grow in the nerves, causing disfigure- 
ment and chronic pain. These tumors 
can interfere with organs or become 
cancerous. At the ripe old age of 28, he 
was diagnosed with another unrelated 
illness: idiopathic cardiomyopathy. 
That's medical Latin for heart disease 
with no known cause. To prevent early 
death, Jared's heart requires constant 
maintenance using expensive, power- 
ful drugs with unfortunate side effects. 
NF is a dominant trait: any child born 
of a parent with NF has a 50% chance 
of getting the disease. Jared's doctors 
believe his heart disease is genetic, too. 
With the known 50% risk for NF plus 
some unquantifiable risk for heart dis- 
ease, it is more likely than not that any 
child possessing my husband's DNA 
would be sick. 

Jared lives a fulfilling life in spite of 
chronic illness. Still, genetic disease is 
not the legacy we wanted for our chil- 
dren. "If God wants to give my children 
a disease, He can, but I don't want to 
be the one to give it to them," Jared de- 

That's why we conceived our chil- 
dren by artificial insemination with do- 
nor sperm. 

Confronting Ethical and Religious 

As active Mormons, we wondered 
if we should bring our children to the 
temple for sealing ordinances, like ad- 
opted children. We checked the Church 
Handbook and read that children from 
insemination are already considered 
sealed to their parents, like naturally 
conceived children. 

However, the Handbook did not 
provide a glowing endorsement of 
the procedure. It stated, "The Church 
strongly discourages artificial insemi- 
nation using semen from anyone but 
the husband. However, this is a person- 
al matter that ultimately must be left to 
the judgment of the husband and wife. 
Responsibility for the decision rests 
solely upon them." 

The Handbook did not explain why 
the Church frowns upon donor insemi- 
nation. We tried to guess. The donation 
process — masturbation — might be the 
problem, or perhaps there are "design- 
er baby" concerns. Maybe the Church 
simply prefers adoption, or is waiting 
before endorsing new technology. 

We eventually focused on deciding 
how we felt about these issues rather 
than trying to learn Church policymak- 
ers' opinions. After all, even these poli- 
cymakers, who were clearly less open 
to the idea of donor insemination than 
we were, agreed with us that this is a 
"personal matter that ultimately must 
be left to the judgment of the husband 
and wife." 

Of possible ethical concerns, fore- 
going adoption resonated most with us. 
Providing homes for children in need 
would make good come from our situ- 
ation; however, we felt that American 
infants who were up for adoption were 
not really in need, since so many infer- 
tile couples were competing for them. 
The cost of adopting children from 

Page 22 

Exponent II 

overseas was prohibitive. Insemination 
was cheap — not dollar-movie cheap, 
but less expensive than infant adoption, 
in vitro fertilization, or raising a child 
with chronic illness. 

We seriously considered another 
meaningful and inexpensive option: 
adopting older children in foster care. 
But I was afraid that I couldn't help 
or even love a child who, through no 
fault of her own, may have developed 
serious emotional problems during her 
earlier childhood of neglect and abuse. 
I was also afraid I would love her, only 
to have her snatched away from me and 
returned to her biological parents. 

I am ashamed that I did not dare 
to rescue foster children. Ironically, if 
we had conceived children naturally, I 
don't think I ever would have realized 
that my choice to bear my own children 
was a choice to forego rescuing foster 

Shopping for a Daddy 

Shopping for a biological daddy via 
sperm bank is not at all like the tradi- 
tional method of finding a father. When 
I dated, I didn't give any thought to my 
suitors' genetic codes, as evidenced by 
my final choice: a kind, talented, intel- 
ligent man with a lousy genetic resume. 
A sperm donor's only contribution to 
a child's life is his genetic code, so it 
takes on paramount importance. 

However, the jury is still out on how 
character, personality, and intellect are 
linked to our genes, so we weren't tak- 
ing any chances. We purchased all the 
information available about the donors 
we considered. 

We agreed that a perfect family 
health history was the most important 
quality in a donor. We soon realized, 
though, that all donors have perfect 
health histories. That is how they get 
the job. Health records were reassuring 
but useless for decision-making. 

Their baby photos were cute, but 
whose baby photos aren't cute? (Awk- 
ward, pre-teen photos would be more 
useful for the process of elimination, 

we joked.) And my brain couldn't paint 
any pictures from the facial features re- 
ports. What does a nose look like that 
is "round in front" and "straight in pro- 
file"? And why should we care? Such 
trivialities were not relevant. 

The recorded interviews persuaded 
us most. One donor said he hated read- 
ing. Is hating reading genetic? Probably 
not, but lack of appreciation for litera- 
ture was just as much a turn-off to me 
in a donor as it was in a date. I wanted 
a smart, thoughtful, well-rounded do- 
nor — like my husband. Donor 3500 
sounded a lot like Jared — both played 
guitar and were Ph.D. candidates in a 
scientific field. Mr. 3500 also seemed 
kind and intelligent. Jared and I agreed 
that he was our man. 

Disclosing to the Grandparents 

We never intended to keep our de- 
cision a secret. Jared, who is naturally 
reserved, might have been able to keep 
quiet. For me, a more open person, a 
lifetime of little white lies would be 
frustrating. I didn't want to give false 
hope to Jared's relatives with NF 
("None of Jared's kids came out sick, 

in spite of the risk. That could happen 
for us, too."). Most importantly, I didn't 
want our children to experience unnec- 
essary fear, since there was no reason 
for them to worry about inheriting their 
father's sicknesses. 

Still, we were nervous about how 
our conservative families would re- 
act to a nontraditional conception. We 
tested the waters by telling my parents 
first. Unlike Jared's family, my family 
was not losing its biological connection 
to our children. 

We prepared ourselves thoroughly, 
rehearsing reasonable and tactful re- 
sponses to all of the hypothetical con- 
cerns my parents might bring up. 

I was shocked by their reaction. 
My well-rehearsed explanations were 
wasted on a pair of people who were 
too giddy about the prospect of a new 
grandbaby to care about such details. 
When pressed, they enthusiastically 
congratulated us for finding a way to 
avoid passing on Jared's health prob- 

I was confused. Who were these 
people? I thought I remembered them 
as conservative. 

Encouraged by this success, Jared 
spontaneously spilled the beans to his 
mother on the phone a few days later. 
He discovered that she was every bit as 
conservative as she seemed. 

I wasn't pleased when Jared told 
me he had promised his mother that we 
would talk to our bishop before my in- 
semination. "It's none of the bishop's 
business," I protested. 

Jared agreed but implored me to 
consider performing this little ritual to 
help his mother feel better. 

I empathized with my husband's 
mom. We were breaking the biological 
tie between her and her grandchildren. 
Moreover, our decision to save our 
children from NF seemed to critique 
her decision to risk passing on the dis- 
ease. It didn't seem unreasonable to put 
myself through one undesired bishop 
interview to save her a little angst about 
the status of her son's soul. 

At the interview, Jared said some- 
thing about insemination and the bish- 
op cut him off, telling us that was a per- 
sonal decision. Phew. 

Doing the Deed 

My body has an irritating tendency 
to avoid ovulating until the weekend. 
This would be adaptive if my husband 
were impregnating me through sexual 
intercourse following a romantic week- 
end date. Instead, we would frantically 
locate the doctor on the weekend and 
persuade him to open up his office. 

The insemination itself is a pain- 
less — and unlike sex, pleasureless — 
one-minute procedure. Although the 
procedure was uneventful, we were 
reeling with excitement after my first 
insemination. We were starting our 
family! After leaving the doctor's of- 
fice, we celebrated this milestone in 
bed. Unlike most couples trying to con- 
ceive, we used contraception. 

But we were back at the doctor's of- 
fice again exactly four weeks later. On 
our third try, the doctor invited my cu- 
rious husband to insert the donor sperm 
himself. That was when I became preg- 

nant, so I can honestly say that my hus- 
band made me pregnant with our first 

Our second child was conceived on 
the very first try, leaving us with two 
vials of #3500 for our third child. We 
were anxious to conceive our last child 
with the same donor's sperm. Jared 
wanted our children to be full blood 
siblings, increasing the likelihood that 
they could help each other if any of 
them ever needed an organ donation, 
such as a kidney. Less altruistically, 
I wanted to save some money by not 
buying any more sperm. 

After an unusually long wait with 
my pants off on the examination table, 
we were devastated when the doctor 
announced that the sperm sample was 
not viable. We only had one vial left 
and no idea whether it had been dam- 
aged as well. 

We tried all day to contact the fertil- 
ity clinic to get our last vial of sperm 
out of storage. As my fertile hours 
evaporated and we hadn't reached any- 
one, I became desperate. I implored my 
husband to inseminate me himself, the 
old-fashioned way. He was flattered but 
declined to take advantage of me, ob- 
serving that the fertility hormones were 
obviously clouding my judgment. 

In the end, we did get our hands on 
that last vial, and the sperm in it were 
swimming. We conceived our third 
child, our last — or so we thought at the 

As parents of three kids, we found 
ourselves wondering about adding a 
fourth child to our family. We could buy 
more sperm, but not from Mr. 3500, we 
assumed, who certainly would have 
graduated from college and found a 
real job years previous. 

We considered those potential kid- 
ney donations again. Children born 
from donor sperm have half-siblings 
across the country. We had, in fact, 
corresponded with the parents of three 
other children made from Mr. 3500's 
sperm. If a fourth child came from a 
different donor, maybe the possibil- 

ity of far-flung half-siblings would 
increase the likelihood of finding a ge- 
netic match in a medical emergency. 

I felt silly asking, but I called the 
sperm bank to find out if they had any 
vials of #3500, just in case. 

They did! They had two vials re- 
served only for women who already 
had a baby using Donor 3500's sperm. 
I bought them both. 

Becoming a Family 

I met my first child long before 
she was born. She was tapping at me 
from inside, as if trying to get my at- 
tention. Before her birth, I was already 
nurturing her by sharing nutrients and 
protecting her developing body. And of 
course, she carried a part of me in her 
genes. She was mine. 

Fathers usually meet their children 
when they are born. I have seen many 
fathers proudly rejoice over this new 
acquaintance. "He has my eyes," they 
might say, or, "She has my nose." 

My husband couldn't brag that our 
baby was created with his genes, mani- 
fested by her eyes or nose. I wondered 
when he would start to feel that same 
fatherly pride. I imagined it would hap- 
pen over time, as he cared for the child. 
"My daughter said 'Da-Da' today," I 
pictured Jared bragging. "I taught her 

As soon as I delivered our daughter, 
Jared only had eyes for her. He loved 
her already and glowed with fatherly 
pride, although she carried none of his 
genes and he hadn't had any time yet to 
nurture and teach her. 

I realized my mistake. With all my 
careful consideration of the implica- 
tions of genetics on my baby's life, I 
had somehow forgotten that she had a 
spirit, too. Spiritually, my husband was 
already her father. He had given up his 
biological link to his child in order to 
give her the gift of a healthy body. This 
loving sacrifice only strengthened their 
spiritual bond. She was his. ■ 

Page 24 

Exponent II 

Sisters Speak 

Sisters Speak gives our readers a forum to present their own ideas about a topic of interest to Mormon women. The 
topic posted for the next issue can be found at the end of this column on page 26. We look forward to hearing and publish- 
ing your own thoughtful response soon! 

Our Sisters Speak question comes from Caroline Kline of Irvine, California: 

"The Proclamation on the Family asserts that fathers should "preside over their families," but two sentences later, it asserts 
that fathers and mothers are to act as "equal partners." According to Webster's Dictionary, the term 'preside' means to exercise 
direction, guidance or control and to occupy a place of authority. So how can Mormon couples be equal partners while the 
man presides? Are the two ideas mutually exclusive, or is there a way to interpret the terms so that they are compatible? 
How does presiding and equal partnership play out in your marriage or the marriages of those around you?" 

Cynthia Van Dam of New Orleans states: 

When I was first married I worried a great deal about what it meant for my 
husband to preside over me. I took that covenant very seriously. We have made 
some mistakes in that vein and sometimes my husband has asked me to follow 
him in ways that he shouldn't have. For instance, we once decided to vote for the 
same candidate because that was his choice. He has realized the error of his ways. 
But over the years, we have definitely influenced each others' political views. In 
fact, these days, I yell at the candidates of my choice telling them what his party 
says, and he yells at the candidates of his party telling them what my party says. 
Then we laugh at each other. I think the kind of process we have gone through is 
what we should be looking for. Yes my husband should preside. That may mean 
for some cases that really I make all the decisions and he just "shows up and pre- 
sides." At other times, he makes those decisions and I follow. Those words sound 
like I am somehow less than he is. But over the years, we have learned to respect 
each others' strengths, weaknesses and wisdom. We listen to each other. For us, 
he does preside, but I think we have found something pretty close to equality." □ 

Rachel Redfern from Sacramento, Cali- 
fornia says this: 

Personally, I still haven't been able to 
reconcile the preside/equal partners di- 
chotomy. To me, preside still suggests that 
one must be over the other, and I just can't 
believe that the Lord would resign me to a 
place of secondary status within my home, 
which is exactly what that wording says to 

Unfortunately, at this point, although I 
would consider myself an active and (most- 
ly) faithful member, I don't think I want the 
Proclamation hanging in my home. Every- 
time I see it, I get frustrated; it's a document 
that doesn't bring me any peace. □ 

Emily Updegraff from Evanston, Il- 
linois states: 

It's true that most organizations 
need leaders (corporations need CEOs, 
ships need captains, and orchestras need 
conductors), but when it comes to an or- 
ganization the size of a human family, 
there is no reason why there can't be co- 
leadership between wife and husband. 
So if your family is the size of a cor- 
poration, a ship, or an orchestra, sure, 
have a presider. If not, they are totally 

Furthermore, why would we aspire 
to model our families on worldly orga- 
nizations? Shouldn't we be trying for 
something more transcendent? Why 
would anyone cite earthly organizations, 
which are temporal and terrestrial, as 
something after which to model families 
working toward eternal life together? □ 

Miri Shorten of Wylie, Texas says: 

Unless we're proposing to 
change the definition of "preside" 
and "equal partnership," it is just not 
possible to have both. If you are sub- 
ject to someone's authority, then you 
are not equal to that person. 

Families need leadership, not a 
leader. There is no reason why two 
adults can choose to spend their lives 
together, but can't make decisions to- 
gether. If it's ever necessary for one 
person to be the final word, it should 
be the one whose experience or 
needs are most particular to the situ- 
ation. Gender doesn't need to be the 
deciding factor. If someone gets the 
final word because of their gender, 
that implies pretty strongly that that 
gender is better. And that's not what 
the church teaches. . . right? □ 

Carol Brown of South Jordon, Utah 

The Lord's teaching about priesthood 
leadership in D&C 121 describes a servant 
leader who serves with "persuasion, by 
long-suffering, by gentleness and meek- 
ness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, 
and pure knowledge." 

My husband has that kind of a heart 
and has served as a bishop and partner with 
humility and gentleness. Although I know 
many LDS men who are loving and kind, 
I have also observed some active LDS men 
who are brutal, harsh, cruel, and unkind. 
They treat their wives as servants and are 
emotionally and sometimes physically abu- 
sive. I am concerned that the statement in 
the Proclamation about the husband's role 
as presiding in the home is misinterpreted 
by many men in the Church as a reason to 
demean their spouses. □ 

Vol. 31, No. 3 

Page 25 

Shelley, a commenter on the "Modern Patriachy" post on the 
Modern Mormon Men blog writes: 

I see [the presiding injunction in the Proclamation] as defining 
the responsibility a man has to his children. I do not believe that it 
means husbands have any sort of dominion over their wives. 

There are a couple of reasons I interpret it this way. First, it 
specifically says "fathers are to preside" — not "husbands." Men are 
not fathers to their wives (hopefully), so I honestly don't see why 
people read wives into this statement. 

The second reason is that this reading is consistent with the two 
sentences that follow. To put them in context: (1) Fathers are to pre- 
side over their families in love and righteousness ... (2) Mothers are 
primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. (3) In these 
sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one 
another as equal partners. In context, the three sentences collec- 
tively address (1) the father-child relationship, (2) the mother-child 
relationship, and (3) the husband-wife relationship. Note that with 
respect to this last relationship, they are to be equal partners. 

So, to me, the [presiding sentence in the Proclamation] has little 
relevance to a discussion on the relationship between a husband and 
his wife, just as the second sentence has little relevance to a discus- 
sion on the relationship between a wife and her husband. The only 
relevance is in relation to the third sentence. (3) tells us spouses 
are to be equal partners and are to help one another; (1) and (2) tell 
spouses what they are supposed to be helping one another do. □ 

SilverRain from Salt Lake City says: 

I think the two ideas ARE mutually exclusive when they are 
viewed in a temporal, fallen light. Our society views leadership as 
always better and stronger than following. 

I believe that the Proclamation and other discourses are specifi- 
cally worded the way they are to cause us to examine them more 
closely and push ourselves to discover in what context they could 
NOT be mutually exclusive. The seeming dichotomy between "pre- 
side" and "equal" challenges us to examine our notions of leadership 
and hierarchy. 

I take Christ's words literally when He says we are heirs to all that 
He has, equal to Him. Yes, He will always be my Savior, but He lifts 
me up to be equal to Him. And that is the kind of leadership, the way 
to preside, that we must learn in our small, mortal minds. We must 
learn to be the kinds of beings for whom power flows to us "without 
compulsion" and for whom hierarchy has no value judgment. □ 

Next Sisters Speak: The Church and LGBT Relations 

I am encouraged in the last few years that Church leaders have generally backed away from asserting that homosexuality is a 
choice, and that they now often acknowledge that they don't know how or why people are homosexuals. I'm also encouraged 
that Church leaders have affirmed repeatedly that having homosexual inclinations is not a sin. These are important steps. 
However, I can't help but think that there is/should be room within Mormonism to better welcome LGBT folk in our wards. 

Do you foresee the Church carving out more room for LGBT's to become practicing members of our Mormon commu- 
nity, even if they are in committed relationships? Is there space within a Mormon framework to do this? Why or Why not? 
What are the next steps leaders could take to do this? And what, if anything, can regular members do to help move the 
Church along this trajectory? 

The next Sisters Speak will appear in the Spring 2012 edition of Exponent II. Please send your Sisters Speak responses to ■ 

Room 1 by Abbigail Israelsen, Bloomington, Indiana 

Trudy Rushforth of Union City, California says: 

I think the preside/equal partners ideas are mutually 
exclusive. Either one person can preside or both people 
can be equal. But, I think that navigating contradictions 
is an essential part of our growth. Just like in the garden, 
Adam and Eve were given two mutually exclusive in- 
junctions (reproduce, don't eat the fruit), and they had 
to decide which one was more important to obey. We're 
given two mutually exclusive worldviews (husband pre- 
sides, equal partners) and we need to choose which one 
is more important. □ 

Page 26 

Exponent II 

Urban Camping 

by Heather Olson Beal 
Nacogdoches, Texas 

Long before I became a parent, 
years of Young Women lessons, Gener- 
al Conference talks, Primary songs, and 
New Era articles had taught me about 
God's plan for my life. God wanted 
me to graduate from high school, go 
to college (maybe), get married in the 
temple (definitely), and have children 
(definitely). I heard all those messages, 
but somehow didn't think they applied 
to me. My mom split her child-raising 
years between working, staying home, 
and getting a Ph.D., so I never really 
bought the idea that I'd have to choose 
family or career. Even though I didn't 
know how it would all work out, I al- 
ways suspected I'd end up creating my 
own plan. 

When my husband Brent and I de- 
cided to start a family, I already had a 
fulfilling career as a high school Span- 
ish teacher that I wasn't interested in 
giving up. Because he was a graduate 
student, he had more flexibility than I 
did, so he took our daughter Kennedy 
to the babysitter's house every morning 
at about 9:00; I picked her up at about 
4:00. He also took care of her while I 
worked on my master's degree at night. 
In terms of child care, our division of 
labor at that point was close to 50/50, 
which felt just about right to me. It 
wasn't the arrangement I'd been taught 
that God preferred, but I was happy and 
our daughter was thriving, so I didn't 
see any reason to change course. That 
doesn't mean I never questioned my 
decision. I often wondered whether 
I was doing the right thing, but since 
the status quo was working for us, we 
stuck with it. 

Then, when Brent finished his 
Ph.D. and got a "real" job, I flirted 
with the notion of giving God's plan 
a shot and planned to stay home with 

Kennedy (then 3) and Marin (a new- 
born). But before the plot came to pass, 
I applied for — and was granted — a 
university teaching position, which I 
accepted. Although I felt conflicted be- 
cause a full-time job didn't conform to 
Mormon norms, I was excited for the 
opportunity to advance my career and 
forged ahead. I taught three mornings 
a week and stayed home the other two 
days. Brent dropped them off at pre- 
school at 9:30 or 10:00 (depend- 
ing on whether they stopped for 
donuts on the way). Once again, 
my job fed me emotionally and 
intellectually, which enabled 
me to sometimes appreciate our 
division of labor at that point: 
probably 70 percent me, 30 per- 
cent him. Most days, however, 
I longed for our former 50/50 
arrangement. (Actually, I some- 
times fantasized about a new 
arrangement, maybe 90 percent 
him, 10 percent me, but I'm 
writing about the kind of person 
I aspire to be, okay?) 

When I got pregnant with our 
third and decided I wanted to get 
a Ph.D., I quit my job and we 
moved closer to campus to short- 
en our commute, leaving behind 
a great church family and neigh- 
bors in the process. On my first 
day of school, I tried and failed to 
find a semi-private place between 
classes in which to pump breast milk 
for my then-four-month-old son. With 
only 10 free minutes left after my dis- 
appointing search, I settled on a not-so- 
private women's restroom on the top 
floor of the education building. As I 
crouched over the public toilet seat to 
pump, my feet and legs began to fall 
asleep and I had to concentrate on not 
falling into the toilet. I felt like I was 
experiencing an all-time motherhood 

low and resented that Brent could not 
share this responsibility. I wondered — 
perhaps for the first time — whether 
I was doing the right thing. Maybe I 
should be at home watching my infant 
son sleep, making paper dolls with my 
daughters, and having dinner on the 
table when Brent came home. And why 
did God's divine plan for Brent not in- 
clude any indignities like crouching on 
public toilets pumping breast milk? 

Photos by Aimee Hickman, 
Baltimore, Maryland 

But I'm stubborn, so I plowed for- 
ward. Over two years, I managed to 
carve out enough time to successfully 
complete my coursework, which was 
intellectually stimulating in a way that 
board books and Cheerios was not. Our 
division of labor was probably still 70 
percent me, 30 percent him, but that's 
not including our babysitter extraor- 
dinaire who also grocery shopped and 
cooked dinner for us. 

Then it was time for me to write my 
dissertation proposal, which demanded 
more of me than coursework. The con- 
stant interruptions common with young 
children started putting the squeeze 
on my productivity. So Brent offered 
to take a month off work during the 
summer and take the kids away some- 
where — anywhere — so I could have 
a solid month alone to write my pro- 
posal. No butts to wipe, no mouths to 
feed, no fights to referee — just me and 
my computer. A 100/0 arrangement! 

He decided to spend the month do- 
ing what he called "urban camping" in 
Huntsville, Texas — my hometown, as 
well as where my parents and my sis- 
ter's family live. Once they arrived, he 
scoped out apartment complexes until 
he found a manager willing to write a 
one-month lease to a middle-aged pro- 
fessor with three kids. Then he took 
the kids to Rent-a-Center and let them 
pick out whatever furniture they want- 
ed. They chose a faux suede sectional 
couch with an enormous matching 
chaise lounge, a tacky dinette set, a big 
TV (by our standards), a shiny black 
entertainment center, and a queen-sized 
mattress (Ew! Yes, he rented a mat- 
tress). In short, they picked out things 
we would never buy and were positive- 
ly gleeful when the furniture got deliv- 
ered to the dingy student apartment. 

I'm not exactly sure how they spent 
the month. They saw my parents and 

my sister's kids fairly frequently, but 
not as much as I thought they would. 
They got a library card (they were resi- 
dents, after all). They saw a lot of mov- 
ies and spent a lot of time playing video 
games, ping pong, and pool at the stu- 
dent union. They ate at Golden Corral 
a lot and washed clothes at the laundro- 

And I wrote my dissertation propos- 
al. I kept strange hours — writing until 
late in the night if I was in the groove 
and then sleeping in until 10:00. 1 even 
went to a restaurant for lunch or din- 
ner every day because I was desperate 
to interact with other human beings! I 
sometimes called Brent to whine that I 
was lonely and just couldn't work one 
more minute. He must have smiled as 
he listened to me, but he never said 
"I told you so," because he's nice like 

He sometimes called me, aggra- 
vated by how stinking hard it was to 
do simple things. He recounted how, 
one morning, one kid couldn't find her 
shoes and another lost one of his shoes 
and then two kids started fighting and 
then he got to the gas station and re- 
alized he'd left his wallet at the apart- 
ment and then someone started cry- 
ing, and all he wanted in the first place 
was a Diet Coke, dammit! I smiled as 
I listened, and I probably did tell him 
"I told you so," because I'm petty like 

The girls 
missed me — sort 
of — but it was 
harder for our 
youngest, Stuart, 
who was only two 
years old and was 
used to having me 
around. He cried a 
lot and refused to 
touch water (and 
this was July in 
Texas, so swim- 
ming was a must). 
He went crazy with 
scissors — cutting 

a bed sheet, his own hair, and two of 
Brent's brand-new shirts. He slept fit- 
fully at night because an echo in his 
apartment bedroom bothered him. I 
talked to him on the phone, but he 
was too little to really talk, and he was 
stand-offish when I showed up to visit 
one weekend. That made me feel bad, 
but it's not like I had abandoned him to 
the stork for a month. He was with his 
dad, right? 

When the month was up, they 
said good-bye to the rented furniture, 
moved out of the apartment, and came 
back home to the real world. Urban 
camping gave Brent and me an invalu- 
able peek into each other's world. I got 
to see what it was like to be holed up 
in an office — nothing standing between 
me and a deadline except for, well, 
me. He got to see what it was like to 
be holed up at home — nothing standing 
between him and bedtime except, well, 
16 hours of kid time. Neither of us was 
happy with that division of labor. I 
didn't like working such long hours. I 
missed reading to the kids at night and 
snuggling with Stuart. Brent didn't like 
spending all day every day with the 
kids and missed having some time to 
nurture his own interests and desires. 

I eventually finished the Ph.D. and 
got a job in academia, so now we both 
work full-time. Our kids (eight, 11, 
and 14) are smart, responsible, and 
independent. I think I was right to be 
suspicious of the whole God's-divine- 
plan-for-me business. I've come to 
believe that every person should focus 
on creating his or her own plan rather 
than trying to follow the standard Mor- 
mon template. Although the "Mormon 
ideal" has always been in the back of 
my mind, I've tried to trust my own in- 
ner voice and do what was best for our 

I suspect that's the way God wants 
it after all. 

And if we start to lose our bearings, 
we can always try another round of ur- 
ban camping to get back on track. Lo- 
cation TBA. ■ 

Book Review 

The Lonely Polygamist: A Review in Reflection 

by Gwendolyn Ivie Reynolds 
Cambridge, Massachusetts 

I unclenched my fist, and sand poured 
through my fingers. The sun beat down on 
my sticky eyelids as drops of sweat traced 
down my bikini, which, to my horror, was 
just a half size too small this year. My thin 
towel wasn't doing much to stop the sand's 
progression to unexplored places. The 
sound of muted girl talk drifted through 
my mind and faded into the rhythm of the 
waves. My friends were talking about how 
some of their husbands had lost their faith, 
and how they were (or were not) dealing 
with it. It wasn't something I felt qualified 
to address, since Andrew and I found our- 
selves in the reverse situation. 

"I just didn't think I'd ever feel this 
lonely in my relationship to God." Becca's 
voice penetrated through my heated haze, 
and I felt a terrible loneliness engulf me in response to hers. 
"He didn't know he'd ever feel that lonely either," I re- 
marked. What I meant to say was, I didn't know how lonely 
I'd feel either. 

When we first moved out of Utah, my husband and I 
were nervous about making friends. Within months of at- 
tending our first Sunday at church, we were caught in a 
whirlwind of Relief Society activities, book groups, Elders 
Quorum BBQs, Institute lessons, Church basketball and on 
and on. Our Bishop assured us, "These are the friends who 
will make you who you are in life." The community sur- 
rounded us, and I was swallowed whole in the details of 
responsibility and organization. Yet with each new activity, 
I felt myself slipping further away from myself, towards 
passive engagement and that most horrible of feelings — the 
feeling of being alone in a room full of people. Loneliness in 
chaos, something that, to me feels distinctly Mormon. 

Golden Richards is Brady Udall's "lonely polygamist," 
although at times it feels that "accidental polygamist" may 
suit him better. After a strange childhood where Golden is 
more prisoner than actor, he finds himself drawn into the 
curious religion and practice that characterizes some small 
sects of FLDS polygamy. Through the seemingly remarkable 
act of not running in the other direction screaming, he even- 
tually ends up with four wives and twenty-seven children in 

The Lonely Polygamist 

by Brady Udall 

W.W. Norton & Company, 2010, 602 p. 

three households. Even as he acquires one 
responsibility after the next, Golden seems 
I fli Mm t0 move trough his life as a non- actor, as 
IJj I f m someone who things happen to, not some- 
one who does things. 

The Lonely Polygamist is Udall's 
treatise on the Mormon Man, perhaps even 
Mormon Masculinity. For Golden is exact- 
ly what a Mormon Man, polygamist or not, 
should not be. He is impotent. He is as in- 
capable of making decisions for his family 
as he is of being able to sexually satisfy his 
wives. He is even incapable of carrying out 
a proper mid-life crisis, as he bungles his 
way through an adulterous affair in several 
cringe- worthy scenes. Golden rarely rises 
to the occasion when he is needed most. 
His attempt to reach out to his confused, pre-teen son Rusty 
results in a conversation with Rusty speaking robot language 
and Golden, left without a translator, berating his son for 
"act[ing] so dang weird" (120). When the head of their con- 
gregation approaches Golden about taking a fourth wife, 
Golden's response is to groan and ask if he's already cleared 
it with his first wife, Beverly. 

Golden routinely tries to escape the chaos surrounding 
his children and houses by hiding in nonsensical places of 
quiet, while his wives carry on running his households. It 
is the efficient way the women make sure everyone's basic 
needs are met, and the organization of the entire enterprise 
that just barely walks the line between order and brilliant 
anarchy, that truly reminds me of my very own Mormonism. 
While The Lonely Polygamist is actually about — cough — 
polygamists, it feels uncannily like the Mormonism I know. 
It's a Mormonism that sweeps you up in so many activities 
and responsibilities that when you finally catch your breath, 
you aren't really sure how you got to where you are. It's a 
Mormonism whose dark side can sometimes reveal impotent 
men and desperate women, while maintaining an appearance 
of sweet innocence. You don't have to be a polygamist to be 
a lonely Mormon, but Udall's ingenious polygamists show 
us a distorted view of ourselves that can bring our particular 
loneliness in chaos into stark relief. ■ 

Exponent Generations 

In 1872, our foremothers began publishing The Woman's Exponent (1872 to 1914). One hundred years later, 
their spiritual granddaughters formed Exponent II (1970s to present), and thirty years after that, a new generation 
launched The Exponent blog into the digital realm (2006 to present). By reprinting thematically linked articles from 
these three different publications, we hope to pay homage to this chain of sisterhood. 

What does it mean to 'feel at home? " What, in the physical and emotional environment, fosters a sense of safety? 
How does place influence our spiritual growth? These three generations of essays offer a broad perspective on 
homemaking and the process of finding shelter in our surroundings. 

The Woman 's Exponent: Aunt Polly's Letter from Laie 

by "Homespun" 
Vol 17, No. 23 (May 1889) 

Dear Aunt Polly: 

It seems friendly and easy to sit 
down and chat with you a while, but if 
I were asked to sit down and write a 
piece for our Exponent I fear I should 
not feel to steal the necessary time to 
think and write one. So if Aunt Em 
finds enough in this semi-personal let- 
ter to save it from the waste basket fate, 
you can hear now a few of our pilikias 

"Going home!" Joyful words with 
a sweet mellow sound filled with the 
odors of apples and plums, tinged 
brightly with the blush of apple blos- 
soms and after- time autumn leaves. 
Echoing faintly with the voices of far 
away and long-absent friends, what 
words of melody they are: Going home. 

Meanwhile, you, Aunt Polly, can 
guess what is going on at this end of 
the line. Shirts, skirts, pants and pan- 
teletts of four dear little pairs of legs, 
garments, socks, and palulis for the 
pater families (by-the-by I have made 
four white palulis for my husband this 
fall), besides a dress and sundries for 
Mamma and Grandma. 

Grandma tends the two babies, does 
the front-room work, and sews all day, 
all day. Mamma and Lule divide up the 
kitchen as best they may, Mamma hur- 
rying to sew, sew, sew, that the work 
of our four weeks may be crowded into 
two. Baby's advent this winter pre- 

vented any sewing being done until the 
last little while. You can imagine how a 
great part of the winter has been spent: 
counting the months — six, five, four, 
three — then weeks, and now even the 
days are numbered and measured. Can 
you enter in our busy homes and hear 
the half-sad, half-merry clatter about 
ways and means, where we shall stop, 
and when we shall arrive? And then the 
last hours — the last time at the mill, at 
the sea, at the meetinghouse, at Laie — 
and we are gone. 

Ferns are to be cared for and ob- 
tained; mosses to be dried and pressed; 
our few common shells cleaned and 
prepared. What a tedious, weary job 
this pressing, drying, and preserving 
is, is it not? Only we who have tried 
it know anything about it. You know, 
our friends at home (we have often said 
here to one another) think it is such a 
simple matter: You walk upon the sea- 
shore and gather in your apron all the 
shells and mosses and coral you care 
to, and come home and pack them up; 
or you step out your back door and 
gather from the surrounding rocks and 
trees any sort of ferns or moss you may 
like or desire. Shall I repeat the real 
facts in this to you who know them 
so well? No, unnecessary it would be. 
So we will leave society the vague, 
deliciously uncertain veil of romantic 
fancy over the mystic scene which the 
words "Sandwich Islands" call to ev- 
ery eye, and only when alone together 
shall we compare experiences, and ex- 

To know that within another 
week I shall have bid good- 
bye forever to Laie with its 
cool sea breezes, its grassy 
slopes, and above all, the 
ever restless, lovely sea . . 
. it makes me feel sad, or as 
the natives call it, kaumaha. 

change ideas about our Hawaiian Mis- 

I long ardently to see my children, 
friends and home again, and yet to 
know that within another week I shall 
have bid goodbye forever to Laie with 
its cool sea breezes, its grassy slopes, 
and above all, the ever restless, lovely 
sea, whose brow, now calm and jewel- 
crowned, anon furrowed with grey 
and sullen foaming-tipped billows — it 
makes me feel sad, or as the natives call 
it, kaumaha. 

One grows to love the place, and 
feel a love for these . . . people, dread- 
ing to leave them forever. 

Aunt Polly, I hope to see you with 
many in Zion, till then, farewell. 


PS. We are just starting to the sea for 
one of our last sea baths — oh, that we 
could take the sea home with us. Don't 
you wish you were going along? Can 
you swim? ~H. □ 

Page 30 

Exponent II 

Exponent II: In Search of a Place of Safety 

Sue Paxman 
Lexington, Massachusetts 
Vol. 17, No. 2 (1993) 

"And it shall be called the New Jerusa- 
lem, a land of Peace, a city of Refuge, 
a place of Safety for the Saints of the 
Most High God... and it shall be called 
Zion. " Doctrine and Covenants 45:66 

Most of us spend a great deal of our 
life, knowingly or unknowingly, seek- 
ing people and places that make us feel 
safe — loved, nurtured, and protected. 
For those of us who have suffered 
abuse at the hands of others, the search 
for safety becomes what we do most. 

From Doctrine and Covenants 
45:66 we understand that the Zion the 
early Saints were attempting to build 
would be "a place of safety." What a 
wonderful blessing and promise for our 
foremothers and forefathers and one 
that they needed desperately to believe 
in. I would imagine that the emotional 
and physical threats that they lived un- 
der constantly for so many years made 
them despair that they would ever feel 

They thought they had found safe- 
ty in Ohio, then Illinois, then Utah. 
Eventually the attacks from the out- 
side subsided, and they were able to 
settle peacefully down in their western 
homes to a pattern of multiplying and 
replenishing, safe in their knowledge 
that their enemies no longer pursued 

And that is the atmosphere in which 
I grew up; I felt safe. I lived in a small 
Utah town where everyone left their 
front doors unlocked, even at night. 
No one ever locked a car; everyone 
had a role to play and seemed to play 
it without complaint. The status quo 
was rarely, if ever, challenged, which 
contributed to the feeling of safe, rip- 
ple-free sailing. In fact, everyone and 
everything seemed, to my adolescent 

eyes, to be "practically perfect in every 

(Of course, I realize now that there 
was as much going on under this "safe" 
surface then as there is more openly 
now. Crimes were being committed; 
families were in trauma; people were 
being cruel to each other. But no one 
really talked about such things then, 
certainly not to me; they mostly smiled 
and kept going. The few troubled souls 
that I did hear about were summarily 
dismissed as "kooks.") 

Red Heads by D'Arcy Benincosa, Salt 
Lake City, Utah 

I felt safe when I walked alone 
through the fruit orchards and fields 
that surrounded my house. I felt safe 
when I went out on dates. I felt safe at 
school. I felt safe at church. Without re- 
ally thinking about it, I assumed that I 
would continue to feel as safe as I al- 
ways had. I did, indeed, feel like I lived 
in "a place of safety." 

As I grew older, things began to 
change. I began noticing that I was 
feeling less sure of being safe. People 

began locking their doors. I didn't feel 
comfortable walking by myself. I no 
longer assumed that everyone I met 
was "nice." The place that I called Zion 
began showing the outward signs of 
being physically unsafe. 

But even more disturbing, I be- 
gan noticing that even in those places 
where I had felt spiritually safe, I 
sometimes felt unsafe. It was a shock 
to discover that too often the structures 
that are meant to protect us and keep 
us safe can also protect practices that 
can make us unsafe; for example, not 
all homes are safe havens for all of the 
family members who live there; not all 
men who hold the priesthood are safe 
people to be with; not all of us are com- 
fortable playing roles that others have 
determined for us; not all practices la- 
beled "Church" make individual souls 
feel safe. 

I don't think that things are really 
that much different now in either our 
physical or spiritual worlds, but I do 
think that because our spiritual sphere 
is growing so rapidly — changing and 
progressing as it grows — we are begin- 
ning to notice the unsafe places. And 
we want them to be made safe so that 
Zion can be accomplished. 

Women, who are changing the way 
they view themselves and their roles 
and taking more responsibility for 
their own destinies and for the build- 
ing of Zion, are discovering that having 
these new views often makes them feel 
unsafe. Some women who have raised 
interesting and important theological 
questions about the nature of deity and 
their own places in God's plan have 
often been made to feel unsafe. Those 
fearful of change can be cruel in their 
fear. Some may even use the basic hu- 
man need for "a place of safety" as a 
weapon by threatening to take that 
comfort away. 

The way the business, government, 

Page 31 

and church organizations are run is also 
changing as these groups begin to re- 
flect the new diversity of the people in 
them and the changes that they repre- 
sent. Those directing operations want 
to remain in charge; those who are do- 
ing the operating want to be recognized 
and play more of a part. As we move 
through these transitions, however, we 
must not permit the needs of those who 
fear change to take precedence over the 
entitlement of all of the Saints to find 
safety in Zion, even those Saints who 
are pushing the hardest for that change. 
Zion is a place for all of us to dwell, 

by D'Arcy Benincosa 

In my view, the best we can all do 
is try to see change as progression, and 
progression as something that we have 
consecrated ourselves to ensuring will 
happen. Our reason for being here is 
to improve — to perfect ourselves and 
to build "the New Jerusalem, a land of 
peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety 
for the saints of the Most High God." □ 

The Exponent Blog: Safe 

by P. Anderson 
Scottsdale, Arizona 
October 16, 2009 

People give us furniture. I'm not 
entirely sure why, but they do. Because 
of this, most of the furniture we own 
is used, old, and mismatched (maybe 
that's why people give us furniture). 
We're super cheap so we don't see 
much point in buying new furniture 
when what we have is fully functional. 
A while ago a friend from my ward 
came over to my house on 
fairly short notice so we 
could practice a duet to- 
gether. As she was waiting 
for me to finish printing out 
the music she sat down in 
my lime green rocker and 
made herself at home. Af- 
ter a few minutes she said, 
"You know, I really appreci- 
ate your house." 

I smiled and asked 
her what she meant. She 
went on to explain that she 
doesn't have super-nice 
matching furniture, or art- 
fully painted walls, or fam- 
ily portraits in nice frames 
on every wall. She sighed, 
and patted the arm of the 
rocker and said, "Yep, I feel 
right at home here." 

I found the conversa- 
tion interesting because it 
was coming after the holi- 
days, when there had been a 
string of Relief Society ac- 
tivities held in members' homes 
rather than at the church building. 
Without fail, every home we went to 
was tastefully and expensively decorat- 
ed, with matching furniture and framed 
portraits. The conversation with my 
friend told me that I wasn't the only 
one who felt slightly inadequate about 
the state of my house. 

She went on to explain that 
she doesn't have super-nice 
matching furniture, or art- 
fully painted walls, or family 
portraits in nice frames on 
every wall. She sighed, and 
patted the arm of the rocker 
and said, "Yep, I feel right at 
home here. " 

To a large extent, it is a problem of 
size. The only houses large enough to 
accommodate the whole Relief Society 
are going to be big, expensive houses, 
owned by affluent ward members. On 
the other hand, the only ward members 
willing to volunteer their homes for 
such gatherings are the ones who feel 
confident that their homes are fit to be 
seen. In that way it becomes a self-per- 
petuating problem. Since everything 
we see looks like a Pottery Barn cat- 
alogue, we begin to believe that any- 
thing less isn't good enough. 

I want this to stop. So I've quit giv- 
ing my house an extra special cleaning 
for the visiting teachers (we vacuum 
for the home teachers, but that's be- 
cause they're allergic to cats). If my 
house is clean enough for family, it's 
clean enough for everyone. I'm going 
to have a weekly activity at my house 
(humanitarian aid quilts) and I'm not 
going to kill myself trying to fix the 
ratty cat-scratched curtains before the 
first meeting. 

I hope women from the ward will 
come and sit in my lime green rocker 
(with a missing button cover) and feel 
a little bit safer letting other people into 
their lives, and their homes. Maybe 
then we can all start feeling safer let- 
ting one another into our hearts. ■ 

Death of a Fathei 

by Neylan McBaine 
Salt Lake City, Utah 

The wide automatic doors swung open 
leading from the Kennedy Airport lug- 
gage claim to the taxi stand outside, 
blasting me with the oppressive heat of 
a New York City August and the patch- 
work of international faces. My gaze 
settled quickly on my tall blond hus- 
band at first glance, although it did take 
me a moment to realize how odd it was 
he was waiting for me when we had 
agreed I would simply take a cab home. 
Still, after spending the past week in 
San Francisco with my three children 
- the last only two weeks old - tending 
to my dying father, my husband's face 
was a delightful relief. 

I had still been in the hospital with 
my baby, hours old, when I bought my 
tickets to go to San Francisco. Instead 
of meditating on the fuzz on my baby's 
head or the pucker of her lips, I had 
been taking hourly phone calls from my 

uncle who reported my father's failing 
health from a two-year battle with mel- 
anoma. As the holder of the power of 
attorney and as the only non-estranged 
child of a twice-divorced man, I alone 
was responsible for making all medi- 
cal decisions. I held newborn life in the 
crook of my arm while holding death 
up to my ear. 

At the airport, grateful to put aside 
the week of hospice, lawyers, bottles 
of oxycodone, and my confident assur- 
ances to my dad that I would see him 
again in a few weeks, I started handing 
my husband the Hello Kitty backpacks 
and the baby car seat that had accom- 
panied us cross country. Instead of un- 
encumbering me, my husband took me 
firmly by the arm, led me to an alumi- 
num-wrapped pillar away from the taxi 
crowd and said directly: "Neylan, your 
dad died while you were on the plane." 

Looking back on the scene, I re- 
member such odd things: the way the 

Passage by Sharron Evans, Vista, California 

cheap aluminum felt cool as I slid down 
the pillar to the linoleum floor; my hus- 
band hovering over my crumpled body, 
protecting me from the glances of the 
crowd gathered around; the individual 
faces I noticed in that crowd - a woman 
with dirty blonde hair, an Indian man 
- even as I shrieked with abandon; the 
clarity and boldness of my thoughts 
even as my throat began to hurt from 
the guttural cries and my body seemed 
to seize: "Are my children watching 
me? Are these people going to go home 
and tell their families about me over 
dinner? Leave it to Dad to create some 
drama!" But also: "Is this what grief 
feels like?" 

I take comfort in knowing that, de- 
spite my seemingly mundane observa- 
tions during my moment of spontane- 
ous release, I felt true anguish at the 
news that my father had died. I often 
reassure myself that my visceral re- 
sponse was genuine, that the scene in 
the airport, with its cinematic drama, 
wasn't a fabrication. Because by the 
time I went to bed that night, my griev- 
ing had ended. 

Grief was defined for me when I 
was twelve by an American Ballet The- 
ater production of Romeo and Juliet and 
I saw Lady Capulet raging and pulling 
out her long, ballet-dancer hair at the 
news of Tybalt's death accompanied by 
the rawness of Prokofiev's score. At the 
time, it seemed frightening yet tantaliz- 
ing to know that I had the capacity as a 
human to feel loss that violently. Since 
my father's death, there have undoubt- 
edly been moments of wistfulness and 
nostalgia - "Oh, Dad would really have 
liked that" or "I wish Dad could be here 
to share this with us" - but despite my 
moments on the airport floor, there has 
been no hair pulling for me. No sus- 
tained feelings of hopelessness or de- 

bilitating depression. In the three 
years since my father's death, I 
haven't struggled with overcom- 
ing my loss. I've struggled with 
the guilt of not feeling my loss 
more acutely. 

Here are my excuses: I had 
a complicated relationship with 
my father. As the only child 
of my divorced parents, I bore 
both his suffocating adoration 
and cold disapproval in equal 
measure. Frantically possessive 
about his time with me, his de- 
mands to see my family strained 
my marriage and left us bewil- 
dered since he wore ear plugs BW 
around my kids anyway. And |H 
yet, his sincere pleasure in being 
with me - if not my children - 
and his efforts at tenderness kept 
me tethered to him. 

My newborn baby also dis- 
tracted me from the grieving re- 
sponse. I simply had to move on 
with new life. In addition, I was 
responsible for cleaning out storage 
units full of four generations of fam- 
ily belongings and selling his library 
of books and paintings, which proved 
to be a full-time job for at least six 
months. Yet with all the distractions, 
a little voice nagged, "This isn't grief. 
Why am I not grieving?" 

Not having experienced a signifi- 
cant loss before, the question remained 
for me: What is grief? Am I feeling it? 
Simply the fact that I wasn't sure made 
me uneasy. Shouldn't grief be like be- 
ing in love: you know it when you feel 
it? And shouldn't the amount of grief 
you feel be directly proportional to the 
amount of love you felt for the lost 
person? Had I really loved my dad so 

I prayed to be forgiven, repenting 
of my inability to feel more deeply, for 
the lack of love so evident in my cool- 
ness. I prayed to feel like Lady Capu- 
let, for more than just my few minutes 
on the airport floor, whose balletic art- 
istry made my quick recovery seem 

Dove, detail by Sharron Evans 

even more banal. I prayed not only to 
my Heavenly Father but to my earthly 
father, now in spirit, begging his for- 
giveness for not missing him more, not 
honoring his memory more profoundly. 
I felt bitterly ashamed at the thought 
that the dispassion I had sometimes felt 
towards him privately in life was now 
fully evident to him in his all-seeing 
perch up above. 

Ironically, it was the very picture 
of my father up in heaven, hurt by my 
indifference as he looked from above, 
that led me to my eventual peace of 
mind. As this image continued to haunt 
me - my secret feelings being bared to 
a man who had loved me the best way 
he knew how - it dawned on me how 
completely I believed in that image. 
My father was, indeed, alive in spirit. 
I was absolutely sure of it. I am abso- 
lutely sure of it. 

I began talking to my dad more 
regularly, explaining what I was feel- 
ing and taking time to honor him with 
sincere reflection. I played his favorite 
recording of Verdi's Requiem on the 

first anniversary of his death, fo- 
cusing my thoughts on him and 
why he loved Verdi with the kind 
of passion I charged myself with 
lacking. As I sorted through the 
hundreds of family photos he 
left me, I allowed my mind to 
remember him, both fondly and 
with annoyance, and laugh at 
the fact that he was, eccentric as 
always, buried in his McBaine 
tartan, although generations re- 
moved from Scotland. 

And, slowly, came the realiza- 
tion that my inability to grieve 
stems directly from my inability 
to believe that my earthly father 
is extinct. This is insufficient 
comfort to many who are robbed 
of time here on earth with be- 
loveds, but for me, this realiza- 
tion explained why my airport 
scene had been so fleeting: the 
shock of being fatherless on this 
earth was quickly replaced by 
the assurance that our separation 
is temporary. That death is a manifesta- 
tion of timing: my baby's life quietly 
overlapping with her grandfather's here 
on earth when they could have just as 
easily missed each other; my life inter- 
secting with my father's more briefly 
than another daughter's might intersect 
with her own father's. 

My questions have not been entirely 
laid to rest, but they have changed. In- 
stead of asking why I am incapable of 
grieving, I ask instead: Does my faith 
in my Heavenly Father's transtemporal 
plan of life make me an insipid mourn- 
er here on earth? Likely so, but the 
very rhetoric of the question relieves 
me of personal guilt by disassociating 
my reaction to my father's death from 
my feelings for him. Rather than ex- 
coriating my meager reaction to loss, 
I choose to affirm what I have gained: 
a knowledge that my father - both of 
them - lives. ■ 

Flannel Board 

How to Use Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society 

The Exponent II Staff 

At Exponent II we have eagerly await- 
ed the distribution of the Church's new 
book, Daughters in My Kingdom: The 
History and Work of Relief Society 
(DIMK). Overall, we are pleased that 
a book about women and the Relief 
Society has been created for main- 
stream use. The Church has not speci- 
fied a plan for its use beyond a news 
release, stating that "copies of Daugh- 
ters in My Kingdom will be distributed 
to women around the world to be used 
as a resource for personal study and 
for teaching in the Church and in the 
home." While we like the open-ended- 
ness this offers, Exponent II is eager to 
find ways for DIMK to be employed by 
both women and men, on a ward level 
as well as in personal study, to deep- 
en our appreciation for the contribu- 
tions women have made to the Church 
throughout its history. 

Third Hour Lessons — First Sundays 
of Relief Society: Much of DIMK ap- 
pears to have been written for easy con- 
version into a Relief Society or Priest- 
hood lesson. For instance, the chapter 
"Nurturing and Teaching Investigators 
and New Converts" usefully centers a 
discussion of Gospel teaching and fel- 
lowshipping around the example of 
Sister Silvia H. Allred's mother, who 

served as a branch Relief Society presi- 
dent in El Salvador (91-92). 

There are also general themes 
throughout the book that can be made 
into lessons. Chapter 4, "A Wide and 
Extensive Sphere of Action," would 
be a great starting place for a lesson 
on Mormon women's role in the pub- 
lic sphere. Sharing the story of Belle S. 
Spafford's experiences with the Inter- 
national Council of Women presents an 
opportunity to recall the original inde- 
pendence of the Relief Society and to 
talk openly about what we can do today 
to be strong, independent women in our 
Church and global community (88-91). 

Fifth Sundays — Relief Society/Priest- 
hood Combined: DIMK offers a chance 
during combined fifth Sunday meetings 
to engage the entire ward in a discus- 
sion of Relief Society and women's 
issues. It appears that many Mormon 
men have had little exposure to Relief 
Society history or its work. DIMK can 
provide occasion to educate Mormon 
men about historical events that are not 
well known and highlight the actions of 
powerful women, past and present. 

Chapter 8, "Blessings of the Priest- 
hood for All," could initiate a frank 
conversation about gender equality in 
the Church. This chapter includes state- 
ments like Barbara W. Winder's here: 
"I learned that when you are invited to 
a meeting, you are not invited to come 


and complain about all your problems, 
but you are invited to come with solu- 
tions. Then together you can talk about 
ideas to see what will work. The priest- 
hood brethren expect and need the per- 
spective of the women of the Church. 
We need to be prepared and assist 
them" (141). A statement like this one 
can enable a dialogue about the posi- 
tive ways in which men and women 
have worked together as equal partners 
in the Church and can facilitate such 
cooperation going forward. 

Elders Quorum and High Priests 
Group Lesson: Priesthood leaders 
could use DIMK to teach a lesson on 
Relief Society history to men in the 

Vol. 31, No. 3 

Page 35 

ward. The celebration of the Relief 
Society birthday in March makes this 
an obvious time of year to teach such 
a lesson, though we hope all Church 
members will be interested in this his- 
tory more than once a year. Addition- 
ally, these lessons could be taught by 
a woman, perhaps a member of one of 
the auxiliary presidencies. Relevant 
suggestions as to the content of these 
lessons are included in the preceding 

Providing Supplemental Materials: 

DIMK can be used as a reference dur- 
ing Sunday School and other Church 
meetings to interject women's voices 
and contributions into lessons that can 
be androcentric. 

Quotations: Several statements use- 
fully highlighted in sidebars through- 
out the book are gender-inclusive or 
focus on women and/or Relief Society 
and should make their way into Sun- 
day discussion. Something as simple 
as quoting Bathsheba W. Smith's testi- 
mony would be an easy way to include 
women's voices in any Sunday lesson 

Teaching Examples: DIMK chronicles 
the Relief Society's charity work dur- 
ing the Church's time in Nauvoo and 
includes an excerpt of the Nauvoo Re- 
lief Society minutes (available online) 
in which Joseph Smith offers commen- 
tary on 1 Corinthians 13 (22-23). Such 
material could enrich New Testament 
Gospel Doctrine Lesson 34, "Keep 
the Ordinances as I Delivered Them," 
which discusses 1 Corinthians 12-14. 

Pictures: Typically, our ward libraries 
have lots of pictures of men (famous 
and not-so-famous) engaging in good 
works. This book is full of pictures of 
women doing the same things. Online 
these pictures can easily be resized and 
used for any lesson when a picture of 
praying, serving, proselytizing, etc. is 

Learning and Claiming Our History: 

One of the best things about DIMK is 
that it can introduce Church members 
to the history of Relief Society. Many of 
the stories in this book have footnotes 
that guide the reader to other books and 
publications that provide more infor- 
mation. When reading in DIMK about 
the Relief Society's wheat mills, some 
of us longed for the rich (and humor- 
ous) detail in Women of Covenant. At 
the end of that section, a footnote refers 
readers to the pages of Women of Cov- 
enant upon which those interested can 
read more (188 n. 36). Other important 
historical records like the Relief Soci- 
ety Magazine, the Nauvoo Relief So- 
ciety Minutes, and Woman s Exponent 
are also indicated in the footnotes, all 
of which can be found online. 

With a little study (perhaps through 
a monthly, small Relief Society group 
meeting, like a book club), DIMK can 
be used as an outline for delving deeper 
into the history of the Relief Society. 
Following DIMK's footnotes as well as 
bringing books like Mormon Enigma, 
Sisters in Spirit, and Mormon Sisters 
into our personal study may afford a 
richer sense of the history and work of 
Relief Society. 

Writing Our History: In addition to 
having a book group to study DIMK and 
other books about Mormon women's 
history, a memoir writing group could 
also use this book to get motivated to 
record their stories and perhaps submit 
them to publications like Exponent II 

We are encouraged and excited to 
have a Church resource devoted to the 
history and mission of women in the 
Church for mainstream use. We hope 
all members of the Church will be pro- 
active in using this book as a spring- 
board to enrich our understanding of 
Church history and bring women's 
voices to the forefront. Please adapt 
these ideas and use your own. And let 
us know how it goes. ■