Girl Scouts

Yesterday was so much fun! Our family recently got involved with Girl Scouts, and I’m really starting to enjoy it. Yesterday we had a ‘cookie’ meeting, where the lady in charge talked about cookie sales and how to sell them, which are the top sellers, and how the money from the cookie sales help the Girl Scouts. We’ll  have cookie booths that we’ll set up outside grocery stores. She says that she even has giant cookie costumes. It sounded like so much fun, and I can’t wait to get started. There are, like, a ton of different cookies. If anyone wants some, call my dad. The cookies are 3.50$ a box, which might sound like a lot, but every penny goes a long way.

Yesterday, before the cookie meeting, we were looking through our Girl Scout book thingies for different badges that we could do. I wanted to get started on the comic artist badge for my level, and my sisters are doing painting badges. – they’re in different ranks, but Callie has an artist badge and Lucy has a painting badge. I honestly don’t know the difference.- Anyway, we went to the store and got tons of painting supplies, including about 5 different paints, some brushes, a palette for mixing paints, an acrylic paper drawing board, a sketch board, felt pens, and pencils. Then we sat down at home and painted some still life and abstract art. They rock! Callie drew a still life of a coconut, which my dad is hammering open right- ow! a flying piece of coconut shell just hit me in the ear! **$#**%$**!?!?!!Okay, now I’m good.

By the way, has anyone seen Vi Hart’s doodling in math videos? To see them, go onto Youtube and search Doodling in Math or Vi Hart. She is so cool!

Primary 5 Lesson 2, Feminist Edition

My goal in teaching primary this year is to fulfill the purposes of the curriculum while including apropos discussions of women. This will be an interesting challenge as the book of scripture is modern, and so the lives of contemporary women should be much more accessible than the sometimes oblique mentions here and there in the Bible and Book of Mormon. But my first week to teach is the second lesson, The Apostasy and the Need for the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Church, which is not exactly modern.

The lesson is at once simple and complex. It would probably be the most controversial to any other Christian group, as it lays the foundation for our only true church claim. Three reformers who paved the way for Joseph Smith’s questioning, visions and ultimate restoration are discussed at length, with a suggestion that three children read over the provided biographies and come prepared to tell their stories next week. The three reformers are John Wycliffe (b. 1320), Martin Luther (b. 1483) and Roger Williams (b. 1620). The lesson is careful to point out that these men did not have “authority from Jesus Christ to correct the problems they saw in their churches. However, by calling attention to these problems, they helped prepare the world for the time when Jesus’ church would be restored.”

I want to add one woman to this group: Joan of Arc, who was born in 1412 and whose life and mission on earth in some ways parallels Joseph Smith’s even more closely than the three reformers mentioned. Here is the short bio* I wrote and handed out along with the other three:

Joan of Arc was born in France in 1412. She was a peasant girl who never learned to read or write. When she was about twelve years old she started hearing voices and seeing angels, including the Saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret. Her mission was revealed to her gradually, and when she was about seventeen she left her home to help the heir to the French throne fight against the English and receive his coronation. After she succeeded she was taken by the English and tried for heresy. Joan’s voices had advised her to wear men’s clothing and armor for safety as she traveled and fought. She would not deny that her revelations were from God, and she was burned at the stake for committing the heresy of dressing like a man when she was nineteen years old. Joan was determined to obey God, even at the cost of angering the institutional church. Joan’s mother and others got her a retrial and she was later made a saint in the Catholic church.

Several things stand out to me about Joan (not all of which I plan to discuss). She was poor (but not destitute), she had a loving family that she desired to be with. When it was revealed to her father that she would be with the army of France, he feared that that meant she would be a camp follower (prostitute), and he said that it would be better if she died. The Catholic Encyclopedia is careful to say that Joan was not a feminist — she lived in a system in which any person, regardless of class or gender, could obtain a calling from God. Joan was rehabilitated and canonized pretty quickly after her death. And it’s interesting to compare her to the three reformers. They were ministers, professors, powerful men who deliberately and consciously criticized the Church. Joan was humble and reluctant to believe that she had any great mission, and yet her central conviction, that God had spoken to her through His messengers was blasphemous in the extreme (if untrue).

Speaking of reformers, I can’t help thinking of how some people I know think of nondenominational churches, as if they are the very devil, like, the worst thing imaginable. And yet, taken to the extreme, I think the rational end for the reformation is exactly in those nondenominational congregations. And the Mormon church has more in common today, in many ways, with the Catholic church than most Protestant sects (and those milquetoast nondenoms!).

But whatever. I love Joan of Arc. I am nigh onto obsessed with her. I saw and wept through a play about her life the night before Pants Sunday that suggested the idea that she might be called after death to inspire and guide Martin Luther. The timing is right anyway.

Joan’s similarities to Joseph Smith strike me. She was quite revolutionary, doing something completely unexpected by those around her and even by herself. She was young, unlearned, headstrong and fiery and passionate. She answered her judges much more wisely than they expected. She was wrongly imprisoned, even to being held in a secular male prison instead of a female church guard as she was entitled. And when she relapsed into her heresy of wearing male attire, for safety from rape or because her dress had been stolen, or to emphasize that her visions, with their endorsement of her clothing, were always from God, she was martyred at the stake.

On Sunday we sang happy 601st birthday to Joan and ate King cake for Epiphany in her honor. (Utter and blatant papistry!) The girls helped me gather up little trinkets as per Pioneer Woman. Tom got the dime in his slice (wealth). I got the button (increased spiritual knowledge). Avery got the thimble (increased industry). Callie the shoe (will walk in the ways of the Lord). Lucy the ring (blessings of the church). And Molly, appropriately enough, got the bean and was crowned king (queen) of the feast and has to make the cake next year.

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*In writing about Joan of Arc, I reference a talk by S. Michael Wilcox that I heard at Education Week last August, Melissa Larsen’s play Martyr’s Crossing, wikipedia.org (I know) and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Any mistakes are my own, of course.

Master of the house

Around the dinner table tonight, Avery told us that her teacher shared the extremely relevant opinion today that “Ms.” is a foolish construction. It was Avery’s turn to tell us one thing about her day. We were fairly swimming in complacent self-congratulation up to that point. Molly got an Elmo toddler bed from the 24/7 yard sale classifieds on Facebook and Lucy won the afternoon kindergarten spelling bee and Callie had all As in her progress report except an A minus in math for sloppy homework-turn-in.)

And then: “Ms.” is stupid. And you know what? I can see his point. Or, I almost think I kind of remember thinking or hearing something that sounded reasonably like that and almost good in a smug “we’re above political correctness/lameness” and “we prefer simplicity and the unwritten order of things” sort of way.

I don’t know the history of “Ms.” (I’m going to have to look it up now.” But this is what we came up with on the spot:

Is there an equivalent male title that denotes a man’s marital status? Why?

Why do we need to denote a woman’s marital status but not a man’s?

Is there a reason people need to know whether a woman is married or not?

Are there or were there things a woman could not do if she were married? (Like teach school a century ago, or own property at different times in history or retain custody of her children or have the right to not be raped or beaten by her husband?)

Is there a good reason for society to know if a woman is married or not in the sort of situations where a title is used?

Then —

If it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask an applicant if they are married or not, is there a way for a woman to retain her legal right to that privacy if she must title herself either “Miss” or “Mrs.”?

And then —

What about, I asked her (skimming over the littler ones’ hears, I hope) the rape case in California where the state appeals court ruled that a man cannot be charged with rape if he rapes a sleeping woman while impersonating her boyfriend. It is only rape, so the archaic law goes, if he is impersonating her husband.

Is it fair if the same action with the same intent by a man is judged differently by the law based on the marital status of the victim?

No, no it is not.

Almost every day, it seems, I reach the breaking point. That’s it. I’m done. I wash my hands of this misogynistic, crappy world. I’m not happy that my blog has turned in to feminism and the church* all the time blog, but it’s not like I blog every day, any way. But I could, and every day I could write more about how this is just so not the way things should be. So not.

So not.

*I know school is different from church, but sometimes they’re the same in small town Utah. Avery’s teacher said last month that the women planning to wear pants should be worried about not following the prophet. And he is an old family friend of my grandparents, and Avery happens to really, really like him, as do we, most of the time. But she wore pants that day to church so I think she can like him and stay in his class and learn a lot from him while not agreeing with everything, and I told her to tell him she’s sorry he doesn’t understand these things but he’s probably just suffering from White Male Privilege.

 

by name

Today in Primary the theme was “God is my Heavenly Father. He knows and loves me.” Evidence for this personal relationship and paternal love were three scriptures in which God (or Jesus) calls a person by name. Those people were Enos (Enos 1:5), Moses (Moses 1:6) and Joseph Smith (Joseph Smith–History 1:17). We were then asked, “If Heavenly Father visited you, what would He call you?” This is perfectly fine, of course, and definitely something I want my own children to learn, something that, if we could get each person in this world to believe about themselves, and about each other, would theoretically solve every problem, right?

But is sharing those three scriptures the best way to teach children (all children) that they are the offspring of God? The primary presidency’s mandate is to each week “1) identify the doctrine, (2) help the children understand it, and (3) help them apply it in their lives.” They are also told to “Supplement the ideas provided here with some of your own.” So I think it’s valid, even necessary, to think, to actually ponder, how to best teach our beautiful doctrine.

I sat in Primary today wondering if/why I am the only person in the room to see anything wrong with a lesson whose sole purpose is to convince children that they are known personally and by name to God and yet the only examples given are of men that God knows? Does God only know men? Does He know His daughters and simply prefer His Sons? Does He respect His daughters so much He would not approach them personally? Does God wish to know and love me as a female or does He prefer to be inscrutable to me?

I would like to see this lesson taught with both male and female examples. The most easily parallel female example happens to be in the book of scripture we’re studying in class this year. Can you guess? Do you know? (Tom didn’t. And I’ll admit it took me a while to think of her, and now I am more heartsore than ever.) In Doctrine and Covenants 25 :1, the Lord says “Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.

The only other textually comparable example I could think of off the top of my head was the Annunciation — in Luke 1:30 the Angel Gabriel (sent by God) says “Fear not Mary, for thou hast found favor with God.” The angel also mentions Elisabeth to both Mary and Zachariah byname. There are several scriptures about the Lord “remembering” women by name (Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Hannah, Ruth) and allowing them to conceive.

In the temple we learn that God and Jesus spoke to Eve by name (and in Moses 4:19 it reads: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many.”)

And, speaking of names, when the Lord changes Abram’s name to Abraham He also changes the man’s wife’s name. Genesis 17:15 reads ”And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.” So not only did God know Sarah by name (and remember her eventually in conception), but it was important to Him to change her name as part of the Abrahamic covenant.

Finally, beyond the personal, loving relationships Jesus* had with His female disciples while on earth (e.g. Mary and Martha), in John 20:14-17 there is this beautiful exchange after the crucifixion:

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

in which Jesus both comforts Mary and makes Himself known to her by saying simply her name.

When I was first lamenting about Sharing Time to Tom, he apologetically reminded me that there are just not that many women in the scriptures, we just live in an unfair world, it’s just the unfortunate way things are.

But that isn’t true! There are women in the scriptures! Of course I wish there were more, and that more were known by name, and that they were more often discussed in terms outside their maternal function. But they are there! They are known by name to God and Jesus, even if they aren’t known by name to us!

I want my daughters to know that God knows them, and all other people, male and female, by name.

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*I am a little stumped as to whether there is a doctrinal issue with saying Heavenly Father (Elohim) knows us versus Jesus (Jehovah) knowing us, but  for the purposes of instilling a sense of divinity and divine love in children, I’m going to say it doesn’t matter. In the original examples, Moses and Joseph Smith are pretty clearly addressed by God the Father, but I have always understood Enos’s interlocutor to be Jesus Christ.