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Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Would Have to Get a Revelation: Continuing Revelation and the Mormon Feminism Crisis

On November 9, 1997, then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Gordon B. Hinckley gave an interview with Compass, an Australian television program. Within the interview with President Hinckley (who was accompanied by his beloved wife Marjorie), interviewer David Ransom brought up the topic of female ordination, over a decade before the recent, heart breaking debate came to fore recently about the Ordain Women movement among the Church's members and leadership. President Hinckley's reply is revealing in the context of the recent Mormon Feminist Moment the Church is now experiencing and the crisis it has caused many of its members (on both sides of the argument) to go through:

RB: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church. Why is that?
GBH: That’s right, because the Lord has put it that way. Now women have a very prominent place in this Church. They have there own organisation. Probably the largest women’s organisation in the world of 3.7 million members.  And the women of that organisation sit on Boards. Our Board of Education things of that kind. They counsel with us. We counsel together. They bring in insight that we very much appreciate and they have this tremendous organisation of the world where they grow and if you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied.
RB: They all say that?
GBH: Yes. All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that.
RB: You say the Lord has put it that way. What do you mean by that?
GBH: I mean that’s a part of His programme. Of course it is, yes.
RB: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks ?
GBH: He could change them, yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.
RB: So you’d have to get a revelation?
GBH: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organisation are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.
GBH: Are you happy? (to his wife...)
Mrs. H: Very happy! (laughs) 
 A few very revealing things are contained in the interview which shed a good deal of light on the current crisis:

1) President Hinckley says that the policy of ordaining the women to the priesthood could change. He never says "that's not possible," as I've heard some people say, or that it is some sort of eternal principle or doctrine. He said, "[God] could change them, yes." So much of the discussion I've been hearing from the anti-Ordain Women side of things revolve around how that's just not possible, that this is how it's always been in the Church, and how it will always be, falls flat on the floor with that statement from President Hinckley. The possibility exists, he admits, but...  

2) ... It would require a revelation. "If He were to change them, that’s the only way it would happen." This, I believe, is the heart of the matter, and what my major focus will be in my thoughts here. The need for revelation from God (not a statement from the PR Department) on this matter. Continuing revelation is one of the key principles of Mormonism. If we feel we cannot ask for it in a time of crisis like this one, then I believe we are living far below the privileges the Gospel affords us. But President Hinckley explained why there was no such revelation on the books. He said...

3) ..."There is no agitation for that. We do not find it." Even if that were true in 1997, it certainly isn't true now. The irony is also not lost on me that the very thing that President Hinckley said was needed to spur a revelation on the subject, "agitation," is the very thing that Mormon feminists are roundly condemned for providing.

But President Hinckley has a point here. A patient doesn't know they need medicine (revelation), until one starts feeling the symptoms (and the Mormon feminists are doing their job by providing the fever!). For the lack of revelation on the subject, President Hinckley also used the justification that...

4) "Our women are happy. They are satisfied." Certainly, I'm sure there are many good LDS women, a majority possibly, who would agree that they are generally happy. But there is an increasing number who say they are not (or worse, who say they are happy, but never truly outwardly express that they are carrying around deep wounds inside). There are some troubling statistics that have put that assumption of the smiling Mormon woman into question since then. It has been reported that "as many as 80 percent of the single Mormon women between 18 and 30 are no longer active in the LDS Church."  Another report from 2010 states that "1 in 5 Utah Women use anti-depressants." Utah had a higher usage of anti-depressants in 2002 than any other US state, another study found

One of the things that I loved about President Hinckley was his unflagging optimism, even in the face of adversity. Yet he also had a streak of the pragmatic realist, and if he looked at these numbers a decade later, I wonder if even his beautiful optimism might be sobered a bit by the number of Mormon women who need medical means to assuage the expectations to put on them to maintain the happy face, or the increasing number of women who are leaving the Church because they feel that the "separate but equal" rhetoric is insufficient to explain the way they have been treated or how they have been silenced. (Note Based on Feedback: In saying this, it should be made clear that I am NOT arguing against the need for medication for emotional disorders. I have many loved ones who rely on this sort of medical treatment and it should never be seen as a stigma.
I was rather pointing out that the extreme pressure Mormon women are put through to appear "cheerful" is not proof that they are really are happy all the time and thus is a non-starter as an argument against ordination. Depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, etc. are all very real things and we all should be very supportive of the medical means required to deal with them in a healthy way). Anecdotally, my own experience confirms these reports, as I have noticed throughout my life a large number of my female loved ones have to rely on medication to cope with the depression and challenges the face just to make it through their day. Now this unease in Mormon women may have nothing to do with priesthood, etc. But it would also be a stretch to say that Mormon women are particularly more happy than their sisters outside of the Church, considering the troubling statistics. Also, of the many women I have personally seen leave the Church, many of them have cited the reasons why being how unequal they felt (not even always with issues relating to the priesthood), how unvalued they seemed, and how they were never felt truly listened to, despite all the lip service to the contrary.

Especially for my single friends, those who have left and those who have stayed, they cite how difficult it is to be a single woman in a Church where a lot of a woman's worth is based on being a mother and a wife. Many have also cited that many Mormon men seem more interested in a woman who will bend to their authority, rather than being the independent, spiritual, intelligent, and passionate women they are. (Anecdotally, I almost married a girl who said that she would do anything I told her to do, because I had the priesthood. I gave her the opposite reaction than she expected, I think, as such ardent and unthinking submission was part of the deal breaker for me). Rather than silencing their voices and playing dumb to snare a husband and gain a foothold in the hierarchy of Church culture, and endure more and more the negative attention that they were not fulfilling their "role," some end up finding their own path and leaving the fold.  

I believe the Church continues to try and address these very real issues, I believe they really DO care for these women, but that they are often at a loss on how to fix these problems because many of them are structural in nature. Marlin K. Jensen, who served as the president of the Seventy in LDS leadership and was also the Church Historian for a time, reported during his leadership tenure, that in the last 5 to 10 years that the Church hadn't experienced the same kind of exodus away from the Church since the days of  the mass apostasy in Kirtland in the 1830s. He said that the highest leadership of the Church is very aware of the problem of so many people leaving the Church over issues like the ones that many Mormon women find daunting. Yet despite how much love and concern that has been shown on occasion, for many of these women it is too late. They are lost to us and some of them may never come back in this life. 

So the poll that says that 90% of Mormon women don't want the priesthood needs to be understood in that light. That number may be so high because all the other women who do not fit the current system have already left. I know a number of those women personally. Fortunately, we have that remaining number of 1 in 10 Mormon women who are trying to "agitate" faithfully, as President Hinckley said was needed for the process of change to happen.

However, it must be said, if the Church is by chance right in its gendered policy, then it SHOULD stand its ground and dig in its heels. Polls ultimately don't matter when it comes to maintaining truth, integrity and the revelations of God. Salvation and exaltation are not popularity contests, so the Church or the Ordain Women movements citing such things are helpful in the dialogue, but should not be the deciding factor. Ultimately, Mormons believe in continuing revelation from God, that we can still call upon God for answers to the most pressing questions of our time.

Yet the thing is, there is no such revelation on this issue which a faithful Mormon can point to. President Hinckley admitted so much when he said that there would need to be a revelation to change the policy, which indicates that there is not one in the first place to point to.

In my discussions with other Mormons about the issues involved, I have pointed out scriptures, statements by Joseph Smith, and corrected errors in translation of the New Testament which point out that there are possibly women in New Testament times who held offices of what we consider to be priesthood offices today (much of that information I have collected in my essay, "As in Enoch's Day, As In Paul's Day"). I use these to defend why I fervently believe that women should have (or already do) have the priesthood, and that they should have the right to exercise it openly in the Church.

In addition, the Old and New Testaments explicitly state several examples of "prophetesses," although I'm very aware of those who use the argument that this title was bestowed as a matter of them having the spiritual gift of prophecy, not the priesthood. I find that counterpoint underwhelming (especially since the scriptures themselves never give that rationale in these cases,) but for argument's sake, by that logic, does that mean that the males in the scriptures do not necessarily have the priesthood when they are called prophets? I think most Mormons would be troubled by the idea. If a male is called a prophet in the scriptures, we immediately assume he has the priesthood, since that is the mechanism by which he exercises the authority of God and makes his prophecies binding on the whole people, instead of just being a personal revelation by which no one else is not bound to follow. If that is not the case, why then would we apply a double standard?

If it were the case, then can other prophets (male of female) arise and speak the will of God to the whole Church, like Deborah did in Judges chapter 4 as the "prophetess" and who "judged Israel at the time" (in modern day LDS context, we call bishops "judges in Israel")?  And can they made pronouncements like Deborah did, "
And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand."

We are told in the Church, only those set apart as prophets with the priesthood can speak for the Church, so as to not create confusion about authority in the Church. But here we find Deborah "judging" Israel and "commanding" the Church in the name of the Lord. The military general Barak goes to Deborah, not because she has a personal spiritual gift, which would only give her stewardship over her own personal matters, but because she is the prophetess of his age and has authority to speak in the name of the Lord for and in behalf of Israel. Why would Barak go to someone who had no authority? But he did, and he said to her, "
If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go," indicating that he felt there was no one else in Israel that he felt was authorized to help him. Deborah did go with him as his equal (if not senior) companion in this military mission, and gave him the prophecy, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

This prophecy came true. Israel won the battle because another woman, Jael, killed the enemy's leader by driving a stake through his head. Talk about girl power. Neither Deborah, nor Jael, fit typical gender roles in this case, and showed that the Lord used Deborah's prophecy not just in personal matters, but in delivering the whole nation of Israel. 

The highest level of Mormon worship, the Temple endowment, explicitly points out that women will be known as priestesses, thus I am often mystified many in our faith have culturally conditioned themselves to fight so vindictively against the idea. Although I personally feel that there is a compelling case for female prophetesses with authority, not only with the Deborah as I mentioned above, but also with those other scriptural and Church history examples contained in my other essays, yet I completely recognize not all people will share my interpretations of these scriptures.

However, I have as of yet encountered a person who can point to me a single scripture that says, "Thus saith the Lord, women shall not have the priesthood." Rather, I have found multiple indications in the scriptures, in the temple, and in the words of Joseph Smith (again, see my essay, linked above), that seem to say the opposite. The other side's cases have generally relied on appeals to authority, to obedience, to the traditions of our fathers, to cultural patterns, to religious norms that have no scriptural backing. When I cite the examples I do, they then twist and turn those scriptures and statement beyond what I believe their plain meaning to be ("They just can't mean that!") and make alternative explanations which take on a lot of assumptions and confirmation bias. These good meaning folks simply have not mustered the specific, clear scriptural evidence to back up their appeals against a female priesthood.

And in the absence of a modern revelation on the subject (and by revelation, I do not mean Church policy and procedure, which General Authorities have told us as recently as last Conference, are liable to error) but a thus saith the Lord revelation), the pattern of prayerfully going to the scriptures, as we have been counseled to do, and seeking my own personal witness of the Holy Ghost on this subject matter, is the only recourse that I can faithfully turn back to. And the harvest on that process, I believe, has been personally rich and rewarding, as I truly did find the answers I was looking for that were not available in my more modern context. It strengthened my testimony in searching for God in the scriptures, and the manifestations that follow the earnest and diligent inquirer. Those answers sometimes require "ears to hear and eyes to see" as I had to discard cultural baggage that prevented me from seeing things I was conditioned not to see.

But on a Church wide level, my impressions and spiritual experiences and interpretation of the scriptures and Church history have no wide spread impact when it comes to how the Church structures itself. I have no authority beyond how I live my own life and how my wife Anne and I guide our children. For something more widespread to happen, well, that ball is in the Church's court. It is their privilege of the prophets to seek the Lord on the behalf of the entire Church and receive revelation that will impact us a whole. The Church is not perfect, its leaders are not perfect, but if one takes the faith claims of the LDS Church seriously, then they are the mechanism the Lord has put in place to received the official revelations that are binding on the members. But its not simply a "because I said so" process, where position in the Church creates a pecking order. It must be a revelation that clearly states it's from God. Otherwise, as President Dieter F. Ucthdorf said:
"To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes."
So, as President Hinckley confirmed, after the initial inquiry to satisfy that faithful "agitation," there would need come a revelation. It is this goal that the Ordain Women group have been seeking. "We operate on the Lord's time," Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly said. "We are not demanding anything. We are respectfully requesting that the brethren petition the Lord and ask if it is time that women are given the priesthood."

What is the most discouraging thing to me about this whole situation, though, is that the very idea of merely asking a prophet to plead on our behalf, as these good Mormon feminists have repeatedly stated is their intent, is causing fear, defensiveness, and anger among the membership of the Church. Cruel things have been said, bullying and fear mongering have been employed, judgment has been cast. I've repeatedly seen the words "apostate," "divisive," "extreme," "small," "communist," (yes, I have seen that one!) "troublemaker," "wolf in sheep's clothing," "influenced by Satan," thrown into the teeth of these members who have proven conventional in every other regard...who hold callings, who pray with their children, who come to Church, who have declared their testimonies over the pulpit and out to the world, who pay their tithing, who study their scriptures, who have laid great sacrifices on the altar of God, who strive to repent of their sins and apply Christ's grace and Atonement. I burn with shame and disappointment to see my fellow Church members mistreat and verbally abuse women and men who are simply following their conscience. It is not Christ-like behavior, it is not how we were taught to deal with disagreement. When Christ says, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," I saw people start picking up rocks.  This was not the loving community that I thought I was a part of.

The worst and most painful thing for me personally was when a member of my own family called me "anti-Christ." To use my Savior's name in vain like that, against a person who has proclaimed the name of Christ all his life, to use it as a weapon instead of the balm of healing that it was meant to symbolize...I almost wanted to give up right there. If I could not worship God according to my own conscience in this faith that I had invested so much love and sacrifice into, then was there even a community at all here for me?   

Fortunately, I have had enough spiritual witnesses of Jesus, of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith's prophetic mantle, of the inspired words of modern leaders, that this discouragement has never set in for good. I am so grateful that God has inspired words of love to be put into the scriptures that wash away all the mean spirited things that have been said this last year towards those of us who dare ask a question. A personal favorite is this passage in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 26: 23-28, 33:

"For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden... For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

In addition to those words of love, it is made explicitly clear that this is a religion, when the weeds of hate and fear are taken away that have grown around, that values inquiry and positive change. Again, in the same talk as I cited above, President Uchtdorf commended the power of asking of God, "It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions."

Whether or not one agrees with OW's methods, surely it is saying something very dire that there are those in the Church who feel threatened by the very thing that planted the Restoration in the 19th century...questions. It was Joseph Smith's intense and deeply troubled questioning that led him to pray in the grove of trees in which God manifested to the young boy. It was the passage in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him," that inspired Joseph to say the prayer that changed the destiny for every one who would join the Church after him.

In fact, in 2 Nephi 29:7-8, the Book of Mormon seems to take the opposite view, where God is flustered with those who aren't continually seeking more revelation:
Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?... I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
Yet although God doesn't "upbraid" or scold us for our questions, as radical as they may be, that certainly is not the case for for the rest of the world. They can upbraid expertly, even in the Church, as the Mormon feminists have discovered. Jesus may have said, "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you," yet there are those who look at honest questions as a sure sign that Satan is leading you by the hand. And thus this is the great irony in the Church. We may claim we want revelation, but then we hear the clamor and fear of "but I already have enough on my plate! Please, don't ask! Don't rock the boat! Just follow the current program!"

Joseph Smith was also kicked down (and eventually killed) for his questions, for his radical re-definition of the world around him which he felt came from God. Even as a young boy, he encountered this resistance to his revelation:
Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me. It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
 These women have been called a "small" group, what Joseph may call "of no consequence in the world."  Yet, as with Joseph, "men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against [them], and create a bitter persecution." We need to be careful that in fighting for the faith, that we don't also attack the very pillars that it was built on. In this case, the power to "ask of God." That we don't "upbraid" the very people who are following the example of the founder of the Church and the God he prayed to.  


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful approach!

  2. Excellent comments. I am appalled at the narrow-minded, hateful rhetoric coming from some members of the church towards supporters of OW. Aren't we supposed to love each other, to seek to understand each others' joys and sorrows? Instead, those who profess to be followers of Jesus are not walking his of mercy, love, patience, understanding, and generosity.

  3. I've been casually following your threads on FB about this, and I have to say, Mahonri, that even as one who sometimes disagrees with you, I am always impressed by your Christlike humility. You are spot-on here that, while "charity never faileth," many of us who would claim the title of Saint have reacted in less than charitable ways to the OW movement - to our shame.

    I honestly think the biggest challenge to women's ordination are women like me who find the idea of being offered the office of elder or high priest in the Melchizedek priesthood as deeply wounding. Such a thing would necessarily imply that the divine power that is native to me is inferior to what men hold, and I've had too many profound spiritual experiences affirming the divinity of that power to let anyone else tell me otherwise. At the same time, I want to be a priestess like my Mother (not a priest like my Father). As a covenant woman, that is what I have been foreordained to become. In fairness, I have not submitted to OW whether their agitation for ordination would embrace ordination to a priestesshood, but I strongly suspect they would reject it. For that reason I have chosen not to affiliate with them, not because I fear asking questions of the Lord or importuning His servants.

    As one who has a genuine gift for seeing (charitably, no less) both sides of an issue, please take heart in the fact that I publicly "Like" most of what you have to say and follow your discussions with interest. Please also remember that at least some of the people who disagree with the OW movement respectfully do so after many years of prayer, meditation, and study on feminist issues within the Church.

    1. Hillary, there are a lot of people in OW who I've seen mention a female specific priestesshood as a possibility. I think they welcome that approach as one that could be very empowering, celebrating their female identity. From what I've heard not only would they welcome that approach, but some would prefer it. With me, I think that both approaches are distinct possibilities.

    2. Thanks for the quick response! :) It's very heartening to me to know that others are open to a female-specific priestesshood.

  4. As always, as others have already said, you give a thoughtful, heartfelt, and kind response.

    My issue with the OW movement is a bit different.

    One thing is that from what I can tell, that they've asked for a lot and GOTTEN a lot already, from women praying in general conference (an incredibly cool thing to see!) to getting a bigger (and international!) presence in auxiliaries, both of which I believe have happened in the last year or so. So change IS happening, and it's happening quickly.

    OW began the discussion, and based on results, it IS being heard. I'm quite sure it's a sensitive topic that comes up in the meetings in the top leadership, and that prayer and revelation is part of that. And the rate of change so far is pretty phenomenal, IMO.

    But the current attitude from OW seems to have shifted. It now feels, to me, like they're pushing harder and moving away from their own stated purpose of merely asking humbly. They have asked, and they've gotten an answer, at least for now. It wasn't the answer they wanted. But instead of looking at OTHER women's issues and seeking additional positive changes, they're making it an all-or-nothing deal regarding female ordination.

    As the Church's statement implied, that behavior and attitude is putting the kibosh on other potentially awesome changes. It's like they've suddenly gotten blinders on.

    Line upon line, people! Maybe female ordination will happen someday. Maybe not. But for now, let's make what steps we can, even if they feel like baby steps in the moment.

    So I feel like they're really shooting their entire movement in the foot by constantly pushing for entrance into the priesthood session (the Church already made a huge concession in broadcasting it elsewhere, in meetinghouses women *can* attend, but that doesn't count) and by insisting that ordination is the one--and now, really only--big goal, when so many other smaller goals are in between. Saddens me.

    As a side note, this post from a liberal, feminist, Jewish convert about why she doesn't feel the need to hold the priesthood in this life rang true for me:

    Margaret Young has written several great posts on the topic as well at Patheos, particularly in regards to how women already hold the priesthood (although, granted, can't exercise it in the same ways as men at this point). Very much worth reading.

    1. Annette... Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the OW movement, as this is *exactly* how I feel about it.

      These women have helped to bring about wonderful things for women in the Church previously, as you stated. I was turned off from their particular mission when I went to their website (a long while ago) hoping to learn more about their work and read that their goal was simply to acquire female ordination. It mentioned absolutely nothing on their entire website (and I combed it quite thoroughly -- I knew it had to be on there somewhere!) about asking the leaders of the Church to bring the matter before the Lord. They've since changed the mission statement on their website, probably due to the push back that they've received, so at least they are making positive strides in that regard.

  5. Melody and I are reading Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" right now. A sizable part of the novel examines analogous medieval questions facing the faithful then, namely how poverty of Jesus and the apostles doesn't square with the early power and riches of pope and priests. What happened? Saint Francis, a procession of heretics, inquisitions, and, long after, the renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. In the novel though, the narrator contemplates the fiery fate of one seeking reform with these words, "I know why Dolcino was in error: the order of things must not be transformed, even if we must fervently hope for its transformation."

  6. A thousand "AMEN" to you - thanks so much for this post!

  7. Mahonri... I love your thoughts and admire you for sharing them so openly.

    Ask, ask, and ask again, I say. My only problem with personally identifying myself with the OW movement has been (as I stated above in response to Annette) that their publicly-stated goal was not to ask, but to acquire. I am happy to see that that mentality has shifted and that the focus is becoming more centered around what the Lord wants for his Kingdom, and not simply what we want for ourselves. I saw a lot of unChristlike comments aimed at OW as well, but many of the women that I saw coming out against the movement (in a nicer way) didn't necessarily disagree with their aims or proposed outcome, but their "this is what we want and we want it now" methods and mentality. This progress (readdressing their goals) is just further evidence of the truth of Elder Uchtdorf's remarks. Many people like to focus on the 'leaders' portion of his statement, but he says 'members and leaders'. There are positive strides being made with everyone involved when they prayerfully go to the Lord with questions or concerns, and I love that this is happening.

    Again, thank you for your openness and honesty. You are a brave soul.