Sunday, September 16, 2012

Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 1

I finally borrowed a copy of Women of Faith in the Latter Days edited by Turley & Chapman.  I knew it would be good, but I didn't know it would be this good!  I like it so much that I'm getting my own copy for Christmas -- and around here, that's a big thing.  We don't really buy books; there's no place to put them!  I'm not done with the book, but I need to get it back to its owner.

One of my favorite things so far in the book is learning about how women in pioneer days actually felt about polygamy.  I had several ancestors enter into the practice, and I wondered what they thought. In college I read A Mormon Mother, and if I remember right, Annie Tanner didn't like it all that much.  But, how did other Mormon women feel?

I've been writing down what women said about polygamy in Volume 1.  Rather than saving my paper notes, I'll type them here:

73:  "Tis rather trying to a womans feelings not to be acknowledged by the man she has given herself to, and desires to love with all her heart."  Martha Heywood
74:  "My husband had a long conversation with me last night counselling me to if possible to assist in the housework sufficient [Martha was expecting] to avoid the hiring of a girl during Mrs. Heywood's [the other wife] expected confinement."  Martha Heywood (I'm glad to know that even in polygamy with more women around, they still needed help with the housework!)
78: "After my husband and his wife Sarepta left me, I felt a spirit of peace. . ."  Martha Heywood
79:  "Joseph came as far as Provo [close to where Martha was living] and did not send me one single word which hurt my feelings and taught me to think that I was not much cared for."  Martha Heywood
98:  "Plural marriage destroys the oneness of course. . . .  'no one can feel the full weight of the curse till she enters into polygamy; it is a great trial of feelings, but not of faith.'  It is a great trial, no one would deny that; but she was willing because it was a duty her religion demanded.  For years, she says, she was so bound and so united to her husband that she could do nothing without him. . . ."  Mary Isabella Horne
99:  "Mary Isabella lived the law of plural marriage without complaint.  In looking back, she also later recognized the benefits of plurality, at least for her own development and independent growth. . . . 'Since his plural marriage, she could see some advantages, now she feels better; she is freer and can do herself individually things she never could have attempted before; and work out her individual character as separate from her husband."  Mary Isabella Horne
153: "'Well, after living in Plurality and getting the experience you desired how do you like it and what is your belief now?'  I will say I like it first rate. . . .  I do believe it is a principle that if not abused will purify and exalt those that enter in to it with purity and purpose and abide there in."  Lydia Knight

I really enjoyed the first hand experiences of Amanda Barnes Smith (327) at Haun's Mill.  She's the one whose little boy had his hip blown out in the massacre.  I've heard the story so many times, it was just more powerful to read it in the first person.

This was also interesting from Amanda Smith (342):  "I have borne six children since receiving the Gospel, and of these five were born without pain through the power of the priesthood. . . ."  Wow. I think I need to exercise more faith.

I also LOVED reading about Emma Smith (p. 343).  She's got to be one of the most wonderful, charitable, forgiving women EVER.  The chapter identified how Emma assisted in the translation of the first 116 pages of The Book of Mormon while she was expecting, and how her knowledge was so important in explaining things, like geography, to Joseph.  In time, she had the baby, but it was stillborn, and then she got really sick, and then the pages were lost!  I had so many questions about this experience.

If her knowledge was so important, why did she even have to be pregnant?  Why didn't God just prevent the pregnancy?  It would have made her life a lot easier. She wouldn't have been so sick and tired while she was trying to assist.  She could have possibly had more impact.  Then, after that, to lose the baby?  That seems so unfair!  Then, to know that the 116 pages of translation were LOST?  How devastating.  It must have been a labor of love for her to serve and then have it lost.  No baby, no pages, and sick?  Life is so unfair.  I also wondered, maybe her knowledge wasn't as important as her pregnancy.  But maybe it was, maybe biology reigns over knowledge.  Maybe that pregnancy was an answer to her prayers.

I'd love to know why things did turn out the way they did, and surely she grew from her loss and her trial of sickness afterward.  Emma is a woman I do want to meet someday.  I DO recommend this book!

Motherhood & Fatherhood

Oh wow.  I just read this beautiful piece by Kels at Empowering LDS Women entitled:  Motherhood is the Equivalent of the Priesthood?  I'm kind of over my concern and am settled about women's and men's roles in the Church, but this was so well thought out, I'm glad I took the time to read it.  I even got all teared up reading it because it was that good!

Kels drew a little chart making Motherhood & Fatherhood parallel, and then identified certain responsibilities of each underneath.  Mothers and fathers both create, nurture, and provide, but women are the only ones who birth.  What about the men?  What's their equivalent?  That's where the priesthood comes in -- it allows for Spiritual birth/rebirth.  Therefore, both mothers and fathers do provide a certain type of birth.

I liked this:
. . . So I began asking him these questions, and have been receiving the answer for years now. There are so many layers to the answer, but one important element is this: birth is an ordinance, an important gift that is the stewardship of God's daughters. This was confirmed to me by the fact that a woman who is sealed in the Temple, and who is living worthily, can give birth to her children in the covenant. By virtue of her covenant, her children are born within the covenant too. However when children are born outside the covenant, a Priesthood ordinance has to occur to replace it-- children are sealed to their parents in the Temple, as though they were born in the covenant. In other words, not being born in the covenant requires a Priesthood ordinance to replace it. It's that important.
Now go read the rest!