Don’t apply modern feminism to the scriptures

This is a guest post by Idealist at Large, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who loves the scriptures, and especially enjoys reading Isaiah, Moses, 2 Nephi, Moroni, and Paul’s letters. Her blog is Peaceable Treasures, where she writes about Gospel topics and life matters. She lives in Queensland, Australia, and is currently working on a project to help parents counteract the radical theories their kids are learning at school. 

It often gets said that women are largely ignored or forgotten in the scriptures; that it’s all about men, because they’re all written by men. This seems to be mainly the result of applying feminism to the scriptures, more than properly understanding them – their purpose and context in history.

Most histories that we have were written by men, for a variety of reasons, including that what ‘we’ know is largely from European and British culture, that men most often held overt positions of power, and at certain periods of time, were more likely to receive an education that included writing. They were also the ones who generally held administrative positions in literate civilisations, so they would either be directing or making official records. Moreover, we might consider that the writing of scriptures was a priesthood responsibility – revelation meant for a nation or church group was given to priests and prophets, and recording it was commanded. The scribe might have been male or female – I don’t know enough to say, but I think we often assume. Even if they were usually male, it doesn’t affect the meaning or applicability of what was recorded.

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On Heavenly Mother

(Lattertarian is a jaded Gen-X Saint living in Southern California, currently serving as a Sunday School president)

By Lattertarian

Periodically this concept crosses my path, either in real-life conversation or in some random corner of the blogosphere or wherever. It popped up again the other day in an oddly specific way, taking form in the question “why shouldn’t I pray to Heavenly Mother?” 

I got to thinking, and at some point decided I needed to start writing stuff down so I could keep the details straight and work through it. On reflection it appears to me that there is a broad four-step progression here. Unfortunately that progression slides in sequence from benign to malevolent, and does it pretty quickly. It’s important to have perspective on what’s good here, what’s bad, and how to distinguish which is which and evaluate your own position and desires. 

First we must lay out a basic frame. I’m looking specifically at this from the Restored Gospel view as promulgated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is easy to turn Heavenly Mother into a pagan Goddess-figure, and that’s outside the bounds of where I want to look. I’m approaching this as a facet of currently accepted Latter-day Saint theology and cosmology, not chucking all that to wonder if Freya or Hera or Isis or whoever are for-real. It’s worth noting that this is in line with the basic question at the start of this. “Heavenly Mother” as a thing requires that a number of other gospel concepts be in place.

Thus, I am stipulating up front to the following:

  • Heavenly Father exists as, literally, the Father of our spirit selves
  • He is a perfect, loving, omnipotent Father who created this Earth and its associated mortal experience for our learning
  • The Godhead concept (that is, a nontrinitarian separate and distinct God, Christ, and Holy Ghost) is correct
  • The Restored Gospel is legitimate and accurate
  • The scriptures are sound reference documents, written by prophets
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by prophets who have been (and are) called of God.  

In short, I am really talking to Church members here. If you are not a member of the Church, I’m not going to tell you that what follows isn’t for you, but you’ll probably have questions. By all means, find a Latter-day Saint friend you trust and ask. Read this with them. See what they think. 

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Whistle blower discusses the tragic reality of pediatric gender clinics

This story is so depressing that I caution about reading this. If it is any help, remember that as Latter-day Saints we believe that Jesus will come and clean the world of tragedies like this one.

Also, remember that the prophets were forewarned about this day and as guardians on the watchtower they gave us the Family Proclamation which says regarding this issue:

All human beings—male and female—are created in the
image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of
heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and
destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual
premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

A woman who worked at a pediatric gender clinic has revealed what really happens at these clinics. Her post is here.

I am a 42-year-old St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders. My worldview has deeply shaped my career. I have spent my professional life providing counseling to vulnerable populations: children in foster care, sexual minorities, the poor. 

For almost four years, I worked at The Washington University School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases with teens and young adults who were HIV positive. Many of them were trans or otherwise gender nonconforming, and I could relate: Through childhood and adolescence, I did a lot of gender questioning myself. I’m now married to a transman, and together we are raising my two biological children from a previous marriage and three foster children we hope to adopt. 

All that led me to a job in 2018 as a case manager at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which had been established a year earlier. 

The center’s working assumption was that the earlier you treat kids with gender dysphoria, the more anguish you can prevent later on. This premise was shared by the center’s doctors and therapists. Given their expertise, I assumed that abundant evidence backed this consensus. 

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Ralph Hancock’s excellent article on the future of BYU

We urge all readers to take a look at Prof. Ralph Hancock’s excellent articles on BYU. As many readers know, there is widespread dissatisfaction among Latter-day Saints regarding the type of education students are receiving at BYU, specifically BYU-Provo, but also other BYU institutions.

To summarize the dissatisfaction from the conservative and traditional perspective, the concern is that BYU is becoming too worldly and embracing too many “woke” causes. But progressives are also unhappy that BYU is not like other universities in the U.S.

Prof. Hancock addresses these are other issues here.

Clearly something is stirring at Brigham Young University. The university is re-examining its fundamental mission, taking stock of how it has drifted away from this mission, and undertaking a realignment with that mission. All Latter-day Saints, and indeed all friends of religious higher education in the United States, have a stake in this challenging ongoing process. The university’s leading officers, under the direction of the Commissioner of Church Education, Clark Gilbert, and of the Board of Trustees in Salt Lake City, have addressed the university audience repeatedly, clearly, and emphatically — especially over the last two years — concerning the need to realign BYU with its distinctive religious as well as intellectual mission as a university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It is much less clear, though, how these efforts to redirect BYU will unfold or what will be the eventual outcome of the present ferment. This article is mainly a reflection on the university’s annual conference, August 22, 2022, as well as on meetings and conversations at the college and department level that same day, and on subsequent reverberations throughout the institution that I have witnessed directly or that have been reported to me by BYU colleagues who share my concerns. I aim both to clarify the nature of the changes being called for by BYU leadership and to explain the very significant obstacles that stand in the way of these changes. Let me say at the outset that I wholly embrace the present call for mission realignment, and that I also understand that the obstacles to it are in many cases structural and not a result of deliberate opposition or disloyalty on the part of recalcitrant faculty.

As I will show below, President Kevin Worthen and Vice President Shane Reese made it very clear in their respective addresses on August 22, 2022 to the whole BYU community — and to the whole faculty — that improved alignment with the Church and the Restored Gospel is a high priority in the school’s updated strategic planning. VP Reese, in particular, offered some very bold and suggestive reflections on BYU’s need to articulate a “gospel methodology.” What remains unclear is just how the re-commitment to a gospel-centered education approach is to be articulated and just how this mission realignment is to be conceived and implemented, given the university’s deep involvement with and dependence on the mainstream establishment of higher education in the United States. I will argue, further, on the basis of observations at the “operational” level of the university (academic colleges and departments), that in the absence of a clear and substantive articulation and organizational incentivizing of the administration’s mandate to integrate religious faith and intellectual learning, the faculty as a whole will likely continue in their familiar professional grooves, and that many professors will continue to interpret gospel imperatives in ways that align conveniently with the humanistic religion, now largely driven by victimhood identity politics, that is prominent in the mainstream academy.

Finally, returning to the most important message from the annual university conference, I intend to show that a careful reading of Elder Christofferson’s speech of August 22 provides the key to a fuller and more practicable articulation of BYU’s mission and shows the way forward to a difficult and gradual but necessary implementation.

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Guest post: reflecting on “Under the Banner of Heaven”

This is a guest post by Lattertarian.

Under the Banner of Heaven is the title of a 2003 true-crime book by Jon Krakauer, who is not a stranger to bestselling non-fiction writing. He’s a big name. In this book, he tackles two topics that are tangentially related to one another: a 1984 Utah double murder perpetrated by fundamentalist maniacs, and the broad early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culminating in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which over 100 migrants in a wagon train were murdered by … fundamentalist maniacs. 

The book came and went, but it also got picked up by Very Serious dramatists who were Very Serious about bringing this story to a video audience, so here we are. This reflection is about the “FX on Hulu” miniseries based on the book. It’s easy to see what you want to see in UBH (which is what I’ll call the show hereafter for convenience), and the showrunners make several very important and very misguided decisions that make the thing a mess, but the central questions are compelling and merit some thought. Bottom line: it’s all more complicated than it needs to be, and not in a good way.  

First, a few paragraphs about me. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Branches of my family, including my entire mother’s side and the family line of my fraternal grandmother, are old-line multigenerational Mormon in the classic sense, what people inside the church call “pioneer stock”. I’ve been surrounded by “Mormon culture” my whole life, including semi-annual trips to Salt Lake City to visit all that extended family on summers and Christmases. I was baptized at age eight in the famous Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I served a two-year mission (in Idaho, no less). I have a “testimony,” and remain an active member of the church serving in positions of responsibility in my local congregation. I have been “married in the temple,” and am getting ready to watch my son and his bride do the same. I am fully fluent in the jargon and behavior signals of ethnic Mormonism (more on this in a bit), and have been for almost 50 years now.   

Lest that lead you, dear reader, to believe that I’m going to slavishly bash UBH because I’m a partisan stooge for my faith, this is a good place for me to state that I am also a Gen-X Libertarian who grew up in Southern California, not Utah. While I am fully fluent in Mormon, I grew up exposed to much more than a single cultural throughline. I graduated high school with the class of 1989. I remember the before-times when people didn’t have cable TV, personal computers, or internet access, let alone smartphones. I am the chairman of a county Libertarian party affiliate, and have no recollection of voting for either an R or a D (I’m not saying it never happened, but if it did I either don’t remember or just don’t care). I believe that every individual has absolute rights over his or her self, stuff, and speech, and believe the world would be a better place if every individual accepted and respected that in every other individual. I have a deep-seated skepticism of authority, particularly government authority (and if there’s any ethnic group within the United States that has every reason to distrust government authority, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in the top five), and my loyalty is not easily won. I seek to see things as they are, not how I wish them to be.

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