The Economist discusses young women, missions and education

The Economist magazine has a very interesting article on another side of the surge of young women going on missions. It turns out that as more young women go on missions, fewer are going to college, and the Economist says some people in Utah are concerned about this trend:

KAITLYN BOURNE, a 21-year-old student from Salt Lake City, Utah, recently returned from 18 months as a Mormon missionary in Atlanta, Georgia. Before going on her mission, she was studying a pre-medicine undergraduate degree at the University of Utah with a full scholarship. But when the Mormon church lowered the age at which young women can go on missions from 21 to 19 at the end of 2012, the idea of going consumed her. “It was a huge commitment, a really hard decision,” she says. “But after months of prayer and thinking about it, I realised I had to do it.”

Ms Bourne’s decision was hard—she had to give up her scholarship. Since returning, she has made plans to go back to university, but instead of resuming her pre-medicine course, she plans to study music at the Hawaii branch of Brigham Young, a Mormon university. Such decisions concern many Utahns. In seeking to expand spiritual opportunities for women, they fear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be inadvertently reducing academic ones.

I think this article in the Economist, while thought-provoking, has a fatal flaw: it ignores the biggest crisis in higher education right now, which is that going to a four-year university for a BA degree is increasingly worthless.

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Review: Joseph Smith’s Polygamy – Toward a Better Understanding

JSP_LauraAnd now for the review that matters this month, the delightfully concise book about Joseph Smith’s Polygamy written by Brian C. Hales with the support of his bride, Laura Harris [Hales].

The main text of this book captures the heart of the point Brian C. Hales made in his three volume, 1500+ page master work titled Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. Some of these points are:

  1. Joseph was not the skank he is so often portrayed to be.
  2. Polygamy in our day is not required. The New and Everlasting Covenant itself does not require polygamy.
  3. Bennett was there, but he does not appear to have actually been instructed regarding the New and Everlasting Covenant. Thus his accusations and actions should not be presumed to accurately reflect Joseph’s teachings.

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What Mormon Women Want

YW themeThe world always clamors for our attention. As covenant women, we have to be diligent with how we spend our time and the things we work for and involve ourselves in. In order to stir up contention and to divide us, individuals, the media, and social groups engage in divisiveness and the politics of destruction to get Latter-day Saint women to contend with each other. So I asked over 100 friends and acquaintances what Mormon women want. Is it material things, or mostly things of a deeper nature? Although, I will not argue with my friend who said she’d like a nap and someone else to pick up the house once in a while, most of my friends indicated that they want spiritually lasting things over the things of this world.

So how do we do this? How do we obtain those spiritual, long lasting, eternal wants? And most importantly, what will we do about it?

The first idea, and the one that was most expressed by my friends, was the desire to be better at building Zion. Several said they felt like this could be accomplished if we ministered to each other better without excuses. I remember a few years ago our ward’s Relief Society President gave a presentation during class about turning Visiting Teaching into an opportunity to minister to each other, as Christ ministered to others. It was so revolutionary to me to think of Visiting Teaching in this way. Because the Lord establishes patterns for us to follow, learning to recognize and follow the pattern of Christlike ministering is something that everyone should strive for.

How did Christ minister to people? First, he saw them as they really were. He was and is able to do that, because he knew us before we were born. He knows us by name as we are here on earth, and he suffered and atoned for us in Gethsemane. Do you believe the words of Alma when he said, “…and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (see Alma 7: 11-12). We succor people as we try to see them as they truly are – as Christ sees them. Yes, some people have very rough edges, but sometimes those are the people that need us the most.

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Review: The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume 2

Persistance of PolygamyIIThis second volume of the Persistence of Polygamy series deals with polygamy following the death of Joseph Smith. And yet it includes a surprising amount of content that those wishing to understand polygamy during Joseph’s life ought to know.

Thus I didn’t find this volume boring, contrary to my expectation.

I did find that this volume is much more eclectic that the first volume. Not only are the topics included eclectic, the individual articles themselves often wander away from what appeared to be “the point” into strange historical nooks and crannies. Reasonably, since these are all original essays, there isn’t a sense that the different essayists benefited from academic discussion with the other writers. Thus we learn graphic details of William Smith’s misbehavior in one article, while other articles portray William as merely a former polygamist who eventually relinquished plural marriage for monogamy within the RLDS faith tradition.

With my perspective that there were two distinct forms of “polygamy” practiced in Nauvoo during Joseph’s lifetime, I would have arranged the essays differently. In an introduction, I would have distinguished between the secretive covenant marriages Joseph and select followers entered into and the not-so-secretive instances of illicit intercourse (termed spiritual wifery) that occurred under the direction of Dr. John C. Bennett. I then would have listed all the individuals who were named in association with the 1842 High Council investigation in the introduction, noting where in the subsequent history these same names re-emerge.

I would have divided the book into three sections:

  1. Legacy of Smith’s Polygamy among the Mountain Saints
  2. The Factions who Didn’t Gather to Utah
  3. Forces of Change

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D&C 76 and the Telestial Kingdom, a Different Reading.

On Facebook, I’ve been in a discussion with several in regards to Pres Uchtdorf’s talk on Grace.  The discussion evolved into a disagreement on those who receive the Telestial Kingdom, whether they inherit salvation, are forgiven for their sins, etc.  I was surprised at the wide variety of views given regarding it.

So, I went back to D&C 76 to do a hard look at what it says, and to question our basic interpretation.  Here are some of my thoughts and questions. I hope you will share your additional thoughts in the comments Continue reading