Monday, February 11, 2013

Concatenation of diabolical rascality

An argument for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon that I often hear is that Joseph Smith couldn't possibly have written it because he was an "uneducated farm boy."  Maybe, but I think that anyone who has read very much of his writings can tell that he was eloquent and intelligent.  I'm not saying that I think he wrote the Book of Mormon—just that his being uneducated is not a good argument against such a claim.

One of the best examples I can think of is in D&C 123:

 "And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts...and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practised upon this people..." (D&C 123:1, 5 emphasis added).

Those do not sound like the words of a mere ignorant farm boy to me.

Another example of his talent with words is this lovely poetic statement: "But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in" (D&C 127:2).  Yet another one: "O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?  How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?"  He used figurative language well.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that I think he was a good writer and speaker.  If you're going to argue for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, don't use the argument that Smith couldn't have written it because he was some hick without a good command of English.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The role we were born to play

Another installment of a Universe article to which I add commentary:

The role we were born to play

Listening to President Barack Obama talk about the new policy allowing women to be in combat roles in the military, I was a bit concerned. Now before my feminist friends get upset, Danger!  Danger!  Danger!  let me explain. Why are you not a feminist?  While I am all for women in leadership roles, this new announcement concerns me because of what it means for our definition of gender roles in society.

Growing up with a working mom, I have always respected women in the workforce. At least her experience has given her this perspective.  Throughout my life my mom has balanced a full-time job as a high school teacher, and heavy involvement in community organizations, with taking care of four children and a husband.

Due to this environment I have always believed that the role of a woman is important and that we have much to contribute to this world, including being involved in leadership roles. However, with that said, I also believe strongly in the importance of gender roles.

Although my mom was heavily involved in leadership during my growing-up years, at home I knew that ultimately my father was the head of the home Whaaaaat?  Why?  Why can't they both be the head of the household as the parents?  and there were certain divine roles that my parents were each to play. Just labeling something as "divine" doesn't excuse an irrational belief.  While things were not always perfect, my mother respected my father’s role as father and provider, while he respected her divine role of mother and nurturer.  I know I've said this before, but why can't the father be a nurturer too?  He should be!  And since she mentioned that her mother worked, wasn't her mother a provider as well as her father?  I don't understand her division of nurturer vs. provider.

The thing that concerns me in society today, with announcements like women now allowed in combat roles in the military, is that we are disregarding the divine roles we were born to play as men and women.  I'm hoping the explanation for how these ideas connect is forthcoming.

I believe what is taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” when it says, “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.”

As men and women, we were created with specific genders in order to “fulfill our purpose.” To me that means we are different, and that difference between men and women should not be disregarded but celebrated.

Every individual is different; some women love video games and sports, and some men like chick flicks. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. Good.  We should be able to express our individuality. However, there are some distinct differences between men and women that cannot be ignored.  I get genitalia, but then again, what about intersex people?  Or people who aren't cisgendered?

One of those differences is physical size and strength of men versus women. In general, this is why the previous rule has been in place to only have men in combat positions in the military. While I know there are the rare few women who are larger and stronger then men, in general women are physically weaker and smaller in comparison. Since when is this a bad thing? So we are different; in my mind that is a good thing.  So, is the argument that women aren't strong enough for the military?  I think that's what she's saying, but I'm not sure.  A lot of her arguments sound quite vague.

In the last general conference Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, ”In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions. Thank you for at least not saying that all people who promote opportunity for women put down men.  In my opinion, women who do that are hypocritical.  They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female — that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn. Some argue that a career is everything and marriage and children should be entirely optional — therefore, why do we need men? In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.”  OK, OK, so here's why this is problematic: what is masculine and feminine can be considered a social construct.  So "emasculation" just means that what is considered to be a man's natural temperament or role is changing, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  A common theme I see in General Authority comments is that if cultural practices have changed since the time when they were young, that is automatically a bad thing.  If people today aren't, for example, dating the way that they did and getting married as young, then people today are doing it wrong.  A man bemoaning the emasculation of males needs to read this article (in my humble opinion).  Most times being "emasculated" means losing the monopoly of a certain role/privilege/opportunity.  Also, as a fellow group member on Facebook mentioned, it's women who are also frequently portrayed as "incompetent, immature, or self-absorbed."  He probably hasn't noticed that, though—until it happens to him.

Reading this statement, I felt a bit sad. When did we come to the conclusion in the world that one role of a man or a woman is better than the other?  This is a total straw man argument.  True, there are some "man haters" out there, but everyone who agitates for women's opportunity does not think that one role is better than the other; for the most part, we think that they are equal.  I saw a shirt the other day that said, "Anything boys can do, girls can do better."  I don't like this sentiment.  It is wrong to put someone else down in an effort to raise yourself up.  If the shirt had said, "Anything boys can do, girls can do," then that would be OK.

In high school, I was shocked one day while having a conversation with a friend in my AP English class when he said “Wait, don’t you feel bad that your religion is so degrading to women?” After he said this I was pretty confused. I have never felt degraded in the Church. In fact, it has been the opposite. I have always been taught that my divine nature as a woman was something to be praised rather than looked down upon.  Just because you have never felt degraded doesn't mean that it's a real or valid issue.  Just because you haven't experienced something doesn't mean no one has.

I grew up with two sisters and a brother. My sisters are my best friends. I have always loved the chick flick movie marathons we would have and the shopping trips and girly things we would do together with my mom. So you're saying that you're traditionally feminine.  This makes sense.  I think you would feel differently if you were a tomboy.  I was taught that my role as a wife and mother is one of the most important things I would ever do. My parents have encouraged me to get a college education, go on a mission and do things on my own time good, but always with the idea in mind that I had something to contribute to this world as a daughter of God.

I believe the same goes for men. There are certain roles that they were born to play. They have just as much to contribute to this world as women; their role is just different. I would hope that we would be able to celebrate and accept the difference among men and women. We all have something to contribute to this world. We just do it in different ways.  OK, so if these roles are so natural, why do we have to prescribe them?  If men are just a certain way and women are just a certain way, we wouldn't need to tell people what roles they need to fill—they would just fill these roles.  So much of what is "masculine" and "feminine" is based on cultural tradition, and many people confuse cultural tradition with innate nature.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


"God has revealed through his prophets that men are to receive the priesthood, become fathers, and with gentleness and pure, unfeigned love they are to lead and nurture their families in righteousness as the Savior leads the Church."  (OT gospel doctrine teacher's manual, lesson 4)

I don't love the husband: family :: Jesus : church, but please note that it says fathers are supposed to nurture their children.  I frequently see/hear that it's women who nurture and fathers who provide, as if both of these roles are mutually exclusive.  Mothers and fathers can both nurture and provide.  The roles don't have to be so separated.