Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daughters in My Kingdom: Foreword and Preface

I've been having a fun time reading the new Daughters in My Kingdom book.  Is that sick and wrong?  Fun?  When you really like history, yes, it is (usually) fun to read history.  I've also been torn because I'm writing a chapter on an ancestor for Women of Faith in the Latter-days, Volume 2.  I really need to be working on that, but I also really want to be reading this and blogging about it. And, I don't know how many people actually read this blog, but I'm 15 weeks pregnant, and of course, that makes everything just a little bit more complicated.

Anyway, enough about me, on with the book.  Kathryn at a Well-Behaved Mormon Woman posted her initial thoughts on the book, but I wanted to do more of a chapter-by-chapter review on the book.  Well, I don't know if  review is the right word, but I wanted to share my thoughts like Stephanie does about General Conference over at Diapers and Divinity.  If you feel so inclined to share your thoughts, please do, or even share a link to your own posts.  It's fun to discuss -- especially for those of us who don't get to go to RS -- not that this will necessarily be taught in RS, but it might on occasion.

As the blog post title indicates, I wanted to comment on the foreword and the preface.

I liked how the First Presidency message in the foreword mentioned that we women are "dedicated disciples."  How lovely is that?  Just like Mary and Martha and other women in the scriptures.

When I read that we "help strengthen families and build up the kingdom," I realized that women without their own families may have a hard time with this, but the strengthening doesn't have to be in one's own family.  We can help and support other people's families (the book goes on in a later chapter to address this in more detail).  Coming from someone who has a family of her own, I'm sure this can sound very insensitive to someone who does not have a family and wants one.  I can only imagine how hard that must be, but honestly, yes, we young moms with little kids would love any help anyone wants to give if you are willing to give it.

I also thought the "strengthen families" phrase really doesn't have to apply to just us in the LDS Church.  We can and need to help strengthen families all over the world.  There are so many good people throughout the globe also in support of the family, and we need to bind together.

OK, this could take a while.  I think I'd better not comment on everything.

I think it is good to remember that "this book is not a chronological history, nor is it an attempt to provide a comprehensive view of all that the Relief Society has accomplished" (xii).  As I have read, I find I do want to know more!!  The basics are there, but some of the more confusing/deep stuff is not.  A-ha!  Maybe that's why it's not there -- because it's not clear to anyone in the modern day, so they figured they'd leave it out or just touch on it briefly (such as "female ritual healing" and polygamy).

"We know that women who have deep appreciation for the past will be concerned about shaping a righteous future" (xii).  Amen.  Why I love history.

"...the women of the church have united with men who hold the priesthood to build God's kingdom..." (xii).  We are united -- definitely.  We have to be or the plan will fail.

"The value in this book is not so much in the dates and facts it provides but in the purposes, principles, and patterns it teaches" (xiii).  I believe this book is doing just that.  Why do we have Relief Society?  Of course it would still be nice to have a comprehensive history, but learning the purpose of the Relief Society is a starting point.

I like that the book is written by women (Susan Tanner - xiv) for women.  Some people complain that this isn't a lesson manual for both the men and women, but a lot that's in the book isn't necessarily what men (or women) NEED to know (for salvation), but things that are nice to know.  [9/12/11:  Actually I change my mind on that original statement.  This book IS a WONDERFUL summary of everything we need to know to be WONDERFUL people.  We can find all these principles all over the Gospel, but this book wraps them all up in one tight little package.  So, yes, you could use the book as a manual for men and women, you'd just have to expand on it with A LOT more detail.]  My husband has also enjoyed me sharing parts of this book with him before we go to bed at night -- I think some men will love to read it, whereas, some men will probably find it kind of boring, just as some women will.

I also like the extensive use of references in this book.  Some Church publications (at least older ones) lack sources and it drives me nuts.  I also like that Sister Tanner was given credit for this book.  I love knowing who did the work behind a project.

"Church members of all ages may use the book as a reference in lessons, talks, and council meetings" (xiv).  I've heard a couple times people say that quotes by women just aren't as credible as quotes from the "Brethren."  The first time someone said that, I was quite taken aback.  I didn't really believe them, but just to be safe, I stopped using quotes from sisters.  The quote above affirms to me that, yes, it is okay to use quotes from sisters.  Thank goodness.  I mentioned this to my mom and she wondered how the women wouldn't be taken as seriously as the men.  Yes, that's the type of family I grew up in.  If a quote is from General Conference, it's from General Conference, does it matter if a man or woman said it?  So yes, lots and lots of women quotes in this book.

Apparently Lucile Tate and Elaine Harris (xiv) wrote a history of the RS starting in 1996, but it was unpublished and kept as a resource in Church archives.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were someday published?  I'd love to read that!