Sunday, September 28, 2014

What would happen if we really respected people?

The other day I was talking to a friend about domestic violence.  We were discussing men and how they talk about the women in their lives when the women are not around.  If men speak negatively of the women in their lives, that's a huge indicator of a man's behavior toward her when she is around.  My friend suggested we could use more lessons in church on relationships and how to treat people, and it doesn't really matter if it's marriage relationships or friend relationships, we just need to know what are healthy interactions and what are not.

I began to wonder, what if we did really did treat people the way we should?  What if we didn't put ourselves and our selfish desires first, what would happen?  What if we actually did unto others as we would have others do unto us?  Well, for one, men wouldn't beat their wives.  They'd respect them and listen to them and be a partner.  People wouldn't abuse children.  Enron wouldn't have happened.  The housing crisis wouldn't have happened.  Perhaps even Ordain Women wouldn't have happened because women would feel represented and listened to?  Maybe.

I guess this isn't a very coherent post, but these two quotes came to mind:

"One of the most radical things you can do is believe women when they talk about their experiences."-Jen Bekman
"The Mormon people teach the American religion; their principles teach the people not only of Heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this Church, nothing can stop their progress — it will be limitless. There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.’”-Leo Tolstoy
So what do Mormons teach?  They teach the ways of Christ which are anything but violent.  They teach integrity and forgiveness.  They teach mercy and kindness and. . . .  I think we learn these things, but we fail when we don't put them to practice (which is why we need a Savior).  I still keep thinking that one of Heavenly Father's goals must be to have all his children get along.  When we do live His commandments and live like Christ, we will get along and won't have to deal with all the junk that happens.  I guess actually living the way they should is what happened in the city of Enoch.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Little Bit of Hope in the World

Diane, Dawn, Me, Jan, Kembe
So it's slightly weird to me, too, that I'd go to a premier of a movie and a prescreening of a different movie within the same week! That just hasn't been my thing in life.  Today I was invited via Mormon Women Stand to see Meet the Mormons.

Let me be honest, I wasn't super excited about Meet the Mormons because why would I need to meet any more?  I also was indeed surprised that the LDS Church was going to release a film in theaters.  By the way, this particular movie was originally created to be shown in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, but had such positive reviews at other prescreenings, that they decided to take it to THE big screen, not just one big screen.

If you are a Latter-day Saint you will enjoy the film and might even cry.  If you are not a Latter-day Saint and are curious about Mormons and what they're really like, this will give you a feel for what they are trying to accomplish in life.  If you don't like Mormons and don't want to know anything about them, but for some weird reason see the movie anyway, if you take the Mormon element out of the film, you are left with stories of humanity where people are trying to better their own lives and the lives of people around them.  You realize there is goodness left in the world.  Some people are drawn to that goodness, and the people in this film happen to be tied together after the pattern of Christ because of their religion.  No matter your feelings about Mormons, you won't go away from the film feeling yucky.

Now, because this was a prescreening, those of us there had some little perks.  For one, I got to meet and sit by Kembe Sullivan from Atlanta who is the wife of the bishop in the movie.  During the question and answer period after the film, we learned that she was born in Kenya, lived in South Africa, immigrated to California, and now lives in Georgia.  Her cute kids are now 10, 8, and 4, I think, which is really close in age to my kids!  Someone asked if there were any "I wishes" after the filming. Kembe said she wished she wouldn't have sounded so whiney getting the kids ready for church. At the time of filming she said she was working at a "brick and mortar" school, so her husband actually got the kids ready for the day most of the time, so I guess she didn't feel justified complaining when she only had to do it one day a week.  Either way, though, for whomever gets the kids ready, it is hard work!  Another funny thing Kembe shared was that her husband asked the public affairs person in their ward to find someone to be interviewed for the documentary.  She tried, but returned to him without luck and asked, "why don't you do it?" and he said ok.

I was also able to meet Dawn Armstrong, "The Missionary Mom" from Utah.  Again, I have to be honest: I knew her story was last, so it had to be good, but I seriously wondered how the story of a mom from Utah could warrant the finale of the film?  I don't know how much I want to spoil it, but her story did not disappoint.  She has overcome really hard things, but because of good choices, she is in a great spot now.  She's had eight children, and her oldest son, now returned from his mission, encouraged their family to participate in this project.  I don't think Dawn thinks she has such a powerful story, so it's wonderful that her son pushed for it.  She said she only wishes that there could have been more of an introduction to her family in the film.

The story of the football coach was great, as was the boxer, and the humanitarian, but I have to say always one of my favorites is that of Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber.  I cried through most all of his.  Maybe it's black and white pictures that make me cry.  We'll blame it on that.  I just love how he gave so many people hope in such a dreadful time of history.  I think I also get emotional because he came in 2012 to the Christmas Concert at Temple Square where they shared his story and dropped candy parachutes from the Conference Center ceiling and it was magical.

I was impressed with the spread of women bloggers represented at this prescreening.  There were women from Feminist Mormon Housewives, Exponent II, WAVE, Juvenile Instructor, The Small Seed, Holly on the Hill, LDS Women, LDS Women of God, Sistas in Zion, Mormon Women Stand, and others who I can't remember.  I admit, because we wore name tags with which blogs we represented, I was less likely to talk to some of the others in the beginning, but afterward, when feelings were so good, I think the tone had changed, or maybe it was just my attitude.  I think we realized we're here to spread Christ's goodness, and not to argue with one another, and maybe that was Public Affair's intent of inviting us.


I've always wanted to meet a Sista!  Wow I'm pale!

Q&A with Jessica Moody, Kembe, and Dawn

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Heart of the Matter Movie Premier

Tonight I was able to go to the premier of The Heart of the Matter, a non-denominational Christian documentary that brings HOPE to the pornography problem. It was so well done and leaves you with this wonderful feeling of reliance on Christ.

Obviously, because most people will feel dumb going to a theater to watch a film about overcoming pornography, it will not be released in theaters, but will be available October 1 at http://theheartofthemattermovie.com.  You can also buy the DVD with additional footage. The producers will additioally be working with churches and recovery groups to license the film for use.

The goal of the film is to get people talking about the pornography problem because once it's out in the light, that's when people can start to heal.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Statistically Speaking: Differences Between Males and Females

The other night my husband and I got to go to a funny stake fireside with "relationship coach" Matt Townsend. I learned some new things about communication, but I specifically wanted to share and ultimately save some of what he said were differences, statistically speaking, between men and women.

  • Women communicate to bond and build rapport
  • Men communicate to convey information (share data) and report (my husband leaned over and asked if that's why so many men were software engineers, which he is)
  • Women talk to create feelings and create bonding
  • Men "act" to create bonding (Townsend felt that perhaps men hold the priesthood to "act" in God's name because of this trait: it creates bonding; if they just talk, it won't work.  This concept would be a very interesting discussion to continue.
  • Because fathers tend to "rough house" kids more than moms do, it gets kids' emotions really high, then they settle; this leads to their ability to better stabilize their emotions as adults; they're finding adults raised without fathers have a more difficult time controlling their emotions
  • When men speak, only one side of the brain is used, the side that conveys data
  • When women speak, both sides of the brain are used, the data side AND the emotion side
  • When a little girl is about to do something naughty, she looks to her caregiver first, almost asking permission before she does it
  • When a little boy is about to do something naughty, he just does it
  • Men tend to look at life through a hierarchy; they don't like to communicate anything that may decrease their sense of hierarchy (that actually explains a lot)
  • Little boys and little girls are 98% the same (or was it 98.5%?)
  • Men's brains are 11% bigger than women's (so are men on average 11% bigger than women?), but men and women have the same amount of activity in their brains
  • Women's brains do shrink during pregnancy, but return to their normal size after
He also talked a bit about the Mind, Body, Spirit connection and how we need to be aware of what is driving us. Is it our mind that creates shame, competition, body image problems..., our body that makes us hungry or tired..., or our spirit influencing us to act and feel certain ways?  I thought it was an interesting concept.  It seemed that Townsend suggested our mind drives us to some negative feelings, but our Spirit led us to more positive feelings and actions. I question, though, can't our mind lead us to compassion and other good traits, or would that always be the spirit and our light of Christ?  Would that fall into spirit? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

LDS Abuse Survivor Support Group (LASS)



A friend of mine asked me to share about an online support community for victims of domestic violence/abuse (not a site about church abuse as you could mistakenly assume from the name). Before I had kids, I was a Visiting Teacher to a gal in an abusive relationship. I had no idea what was going on until she ran away from home with her baby. Before that, I honestly thought society had progressed enough that there was no longer domestic violence against women. Obviously I was too optimistic in that assumption.

Quoting from my friend, the group is "LDS Abuse Survivor Support (LASS), for victims of domestic abuse of all kinds. All of the contributors are anonymous because of the nature of the site and that makes it difficult to publicize. Part of the need for publicity is also to emphasize that this is a site about members who have been abused, NOT a site about church abuse. We are faithful women trying to solve the issues of abuse in our lives while retaining our faith in the Savior and his gospel.
"There are women you know right now who need this site, you probably would never suspect their need, but it is there and desperate. Please help me help our sisters in need. . . ." 
"It is my intention that this site be a long standing place of refuge, understanding, and support for women who need it, that it will be there when they search for it. . . . I also hope that by reaching more people with the site and its messages that we will inform the public about domestic violence so that they can provide good and healthy support when someone goes to them in need, including educating priesthood leaders."

Please share.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm . . . just a mom?

Today I went to a collaboration meeting in Salt Lake with several professionals.  We were asked to introduce ourselves, so people went around and said, "I'm so and so, and I work (or volunteer) for such and such." Then, as I was to introduce myself, I thought, what am I to say? I'm a mom, I do mom stuff. I know one time as I introduced myself directly to someone I said the word "just" and another time I deliberately avoided it. However, both times, I was semi (but kindly and supportively) reprimanded for belittling myself to the "only a mother" mindset, but I really didn't know what to say or how to describe myself.

I thought about it throughout the meeting and began brainstorming things I've been involved with over the years of my mom life.  It could go like this:

"Hi, I'm Emily. I'm a mom of 4, 1 boy and 3 girls. I've served on the PTA board a couple times, volunteered in Mrs. Rafferty's class, Mrs. Shorts' class, Mrs. Savage's class, Mrs. Lawrence's class, Ms. Trease's class (...) organized Ribbon Week, Mountain Man Rendezvous, helped with Patriot Day, volunteered at This Is the Place Heritage Park, like to recreate historic clothing, do my Visiting Teaching, teach Relief Society, help a little with Mormon Women Stand, blogged at Real Intent, have a chapter in Women of Faith in the Latter Days, blog a little (tiny bit here), make the Sacrament meeting programs, and helped with Cub Scouts."

And that is why we often say, "Hi, I'm Emily, and I'm, uh, just a mom." I think most moms have a list like this unless they have a company or organization to tie themselves to which is much easier to explain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Goddesses

I wanted to write a longer review of Sharon Eubank's Fair Conference Address entitled, "This is a Woman's Church," (which, btw, is worth a read. Sharon is fantastic, in fact, I used to be her secretary!) but I don't think I'll take the time now because in the next few minutes I want to focus on Goddesses, of which she mentions one in her talk.  I'd actually like to take the time to do my own research and make this sound all scholarly, but for now, I'll just post some notes for future use, which is pretty much all I can do anymore.

Hestia/Vesta

Sharon said:
Now just as a complete side-note, the Romans had the goddess Hestia or Vesta. She’s a very interesting goddess. She’s a virgin goddess. She doesn’t have family, but she is in charge of all family relationships. And her symbol is the fire on the hearth and it symbolizes life and she is guarding that life. And she’s also the patron goddess of civilization. She’s the mother of Rome. And so her role is to connect all family relationships into a family unity and a local unity and a community and a civilization. So her work is all about weaving things together. And I think that that’s a nice symbolic representation of the role of women.
She continues:
In our scriptures, although we often talk about this scripture in terms of the temple . . ., this is Doctrine and Covenants 88 verse 119. . .  It says: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house…” I don’t think it’s talking about a physical house or even the temple. I think it’s talking about a generation of life. It’s talking about a house in the same way that the Lord promised Jeroboam or David a house. It says: “…establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order…” It’s a house of God. And that’s what I think women have stewardship, to establish that house. They have a particular, gender-based role to establish that house. And men have a corresponding gender-based role to establish that house or that generation of life.
I've started at least one blog post exploring men's duties as organizers of church/es and women as organizers of home and family. I didn't get to develop it very far and never posted it, but perhaps there is some truth to it. Women, by biology and duty and connection to children organize the home and pass on traditions. Yes, men do it too, but I'm not sure that bond to children, home, and family is as strong. Maybe I've mentioned it before, but one time I found a list of who organized churches throughout time in the world, and nearly all the examples were men.  I think that list (wherever it was) showed only one or two women as ever organizing churches.

Asherah

So our Sunday School classes get a bit away from doctrine sometimes (ok, often), and on Sunday we were talking about how some scholars believe that Heavenly Father's wife's name was Asherah.  However, as it goes, her nature of true Goddess got perverted and she became the female counterpart to the false-god Baal.  The teacher mentioned something about her being associated with wisdom, though. And that's about all I know about that, but it would be interesting to research.

Isis

I should probably ask my friend Mary if I can share this, but she posted the idea on Facebook, so I give her all the credit for bringing it up.  Apparently, Egyptians had a strong belief that women were essential to male progression and power.

Mary wrote:
 "For example- the throne that this king (Osiris) is sitting on is Queen Isis's name or glyph. Meaning he derives his authority to rule as pharo, from her. But it get's better, the glyph of "the throne" with the little square in it, is a reference to the fact that her body creates life or "houses" life, so it's a drawing of a house inside the throne. . . . In the story Osiris (king and "father of all") is killed by the serpent, but Isis (queen and "mother of all living") saves the day by giving birth to his son (the kings son) So that Osiris is king of the underworld, and his son, Horus, is prince in the mortal sphere.  Meaning a woman's super power is to create life. It's not a virtue that the western world values, since we measure women on our ability to be as good as a man. . . .  So "Ma'at" is the (female) persona of wisdom justice and truth- all that keeps the earth in order. In this picture she accompanies the man into the presence of the Divine—Isis and Osiris. Her presence signifies that he is worthy to enter heaven. That was my question. Is she a symbol of righteousness like an endorsement? Or is she a real role/person? Michael Rhodes says both and pointed to similar rendering of the scene for many coffins, where the dead man was painted holding his wife's hand as though she was "ma'at."
What strikes me is that the man is only worthy WITH the woman.  I think of abuse cases where the husband is in no way worthy of the wife he abuses.  At the gates of Heaven will he be counted among the faithful with the stains of abuse on his heart?  My mortal view says no: he needed to live a life in harmony and unison with his wife, not of dominance.

D&C 131:
2 And in order to obtain the highest [degree of Glory], a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

It's also interesting that the idea of wisdom is also associated with ma'at as with Asherah.

Heavenly Mother

Another friend, JT, and I can't find her original post, recently shared that while attending BYU's Education Week that she felt very much taught about Heavenly Mother, although the speakers weren't directly speaking of Her, it was more of a Spiritual thing.  I can't wait to hear JT's impressions and what spurred them on when/if she feels to share them.

As Eliza R. Snow said, "truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a mother there" and I believe we will come to know her better in time.