Mothers Who Know and What Women Know

I am just a little behind on this issue. In fact I didn’t even know it was an issue until Carol mentioned it the other day. She belongs to a Relief Society email newsgroup where the subject was being discussed. Apparently, a number of sisters took offense at the wonderful recent general conference address by Sister Julie B Beck, General President of the Relief Society.

I had to go back and read it again to see what all the fuss was about. The address is entitled ‘Mothers Who Know.” I suppose the main thing that some women took offense at is they felt excluded because they weren’t mothers. I don’t think Sister Beck intended to exclude women who weren’t mothers from her conference address.

In fact, just the week before she gave an equally wonderful address at the women’s broadcast. The subject there was “What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable.” Nobody complained about that talk with her three-part focus on faith, families and relief. I guess it was just that her General Conference talk focused so much on mothering.

Some sisters felt so strongly about what she said that they have actually written a dissenting document and posted it on the Internet. I won’t link to it. You can find it if you want. It is entitled, “What Women Know.” They apparently took offense to Sister Beck starting her talk with a reference to the 2,000 stripling warriors by pointing out how bad war is.

Update: I am so glad to see that enough sisters feel so strongly about this subject that they created their own website entitled, “Mothers Who Know.” I am happy to link to it here.

If you have found and read the opposing statement you may appreciate that the introduction points out that Sister Beck’s talk “conflicts with their inspiration and experience.” When I read that 2 Ne 9:28 came to my mind. I won’t comment on all the other parts of their dissertation but I will comment on two phrases that speak volumes.

One phrase is that too many of these women fear that they “are just one fully-employed male away from poverty.” Huh? Where did that come from and what does it have to do with Sister Beck’s talk? These women seem to be coming from a fear-based and not a faith-based point of view. The church has never taught that women should not excel in education or employability.

The other phrase I find disturbing is that they claim that many of their men “also struggle within a system that equates leadership with hierarchy and domination.” True, the priesthood organization of the Church is hierarchical, but that is from revealed doctrine. Domination is a different story and has forever been preached against as long as I can remember.

I wonder what my mother would have thought of this talk if she were still alive. My mother raised four daughters and two sons. She was an extremely well-read and educated woman. Would she have taken offense at Sister Beck’s reminder to bring children to church “in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection?” I’ll have to ask my sisters.

What did you think of Sister Beck’s talk in General Conference? Was it demeaning or offensive or did you find it uplifting and encouraging?

Women having abortions to save the planet

I thought I had heard all the arguments against having children until I read this article in the Daily Mail UK. I just about fell out of my chair laughing until I realized that these women were serious. I am positive the writers of the article presented the story the way they did because they knew how foolish it would seem to so many conservative readers.

Yes, these women are now claiming that it is selfish to have babies because they are not environmentally friendly. They are having abortions and being sterilized because they want to protect the planet. And I quote, “…it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.”

The article includes phrases like “reducing our carbon footprint,” and “becoming eco-friendly.” Amazing! These women talk about it being their duty not to have a child. “Having children is selfish,” one of the women is quoted as saying. “It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet.” Hello! What’s wrong with this woman?

Talk about reversing the reasoning and logic of the world! These women are not normal and I mean that exactly as it sounds. They have fallen for and repeated the whisperings of the adversary in a manner that is shockingly brazen. Don’t they realize how idiotic they sound? No, of course not. They think they are completely rational, sane and normal.

Would that these women had been taught the words of prophets. Then perhaps they would understand. President Joseph F. Smith said, in 1917: “I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children.”

He continued, “I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by.”

From the Proclamation on the Family, “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” I think God knows if the world can still sustain the children that have yet to be born.

In regards to abortion: “The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother.

“Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.” There are probably another half dozen or more official statements of the First Presidency in regards to this subject but these should be sufficient to convince anyone that abortion is wrong.

I know this is a controversial subject. Even my own mother had a hard time accepting these statements from the Brethren and would often argue with me about them. Am I just too naive and simple in my belief that the issue is clear and straightforward? Abortion is wrong and the Lord still expects his daughters to bring children into the world. What do you think?

Making time for the important things

Another great thing I like about my church is how I am constantly encouraged to study and learn. The LDS Church has placed tremendous value and emphasis on education. Besides the four church-owned colleges and Universities, which are subsidized through tithing contributions, there are the thousands of seminary and institute facilities throughout the world. Seminary is for high-school age students and institute is for college-age students.

The main focus of study in all seminary and institute classes is the scriptures. In fact it is the same in almost all Sunday School classes. We rotate through the scriptures each year: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Church History (Doctrine and Covenants). Of course we are also invited to continue a life-long pursuit of gospel knowledge through our own individual efforts to study the gospel in our homes.

You would think with all this emphasis on scripture study that most Mormons would be gospel scholars. Not so. Some are, but for the most part, most of us have just a basic rudimentary understanding of some of the more important doctrines of Salvation. Why is that? It is because the emphasis of our gospel study is not to become scriptorians, it is to draw us closer to the Savior and to bring His spirit into our lives on a daily basis.

To quote President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985), twelfth President of the LDS Church, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” I love this quote and think of it often when I am experiencing a lack of spirituality in my own life.

Mormons for the most part are a happy and busy people – too busy. We are focused on our families and focused on being successful in providing for our families. In that respect we are no different from many other good people of the world. Sometimes, the stress of the world catches up with us and drags us down with feelings of being overburdened with so much to do. That’s when it is easy to say, “I’ll study the gospel later when it’s quiet.”

The funny thing is that when you put off that quiet time to focus on the Lord and his Word, the rest of your day seems to be even more stressed. Instead of feeling that you’ve completed more and accomplished things that are important, there is a nagging feeling that the most important thing for the day has not been completed. It’s a lifelong pursuit to balance the demands of this life with the need for constant nourishment to the soul.

What’s your secret? Do you just get up earlier to study the gospel or stay up later?

What I love about my church

We had Stake Conference today. If you’re not LDS that just means we had a semi-annual gathering of members of the church from the CamarilloOxnard CA area.

One of the speakers at the meeting was the mission president of the Ventura CA mission, President Richard Ellsworth. Mission presidents are the men who supervise all the missionaries in a local geographic area. They serve by calling, or volunteer appointment for a period of three years.

Among other encouraging comments, President Ellsworth reminded us of an easy way to bring up the subject of the church in conversation with friends, co-workers and neighbors.

He suggested that it is easy and natural to say, for example when discussing the behavior of teen-age children, “What I love about my church is that we have published standards for our youth that help them to know what is acceptable behavior.”

Why would President Ellsworth teach us this technique? It is because sharing the good news of the restored gospel is a part of our faith. It is also one of the things that most church members find difficult to do. You see we are mostly a quiet and conservative bunch and often fear how others will respond when we bring up the subject of our religion.

Besides, it isn’t always considered ‘politically correct’ to talk about religious issues at work or even in an educational environment such as a classroom. In fact, simply talking about your religious beliefs with coworkers has been considered religious harassment in the workplace.

Quoting from an article entitled, “Thou Shalt Not Discuss Religion,” on the Liberty Council Web site, consider these three circumstances:

1. Vanessa McCauley, a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines for 12 years, learned that her employment came to an abrupt end when she decided to read her Bible and profess her religious beliefs in the workplace.

2. Mr. Turner, employed by the State of California Department of Education, asserted he was reprimanded for discussing religion with his co-workers and keeping religious pamphlets in his work cubicle. His employer issued an order to forbid him to discuss religion in the workplace.

3. A clerk at a California medical clinic alleged he was fired from his job in 1993 after attempting to share his Christian convictions with co-workers.

The author of the article concludes, “In a day of fallen values and absent character, it seems silly for employers to worry about religion in the workplace. However, as long as millions of people seek to share with others the joy of their faith, these feelings will continue to spill over into the workplace.”

And, “there is no reason why casual conversation, allowed over breaks, cannot focus on religion as well as last night’s softball game. An employer should not establish rules so harsh as to ban all outward displays of religion in an attempt to avoid disputes.”

I hope that outward displays of religion are never banned in the workplace. I often wear a tie pin that has an image of the Angel Moroni on it surrounded by the name of my mission: “Costa Rica San Jose Mission“.

My wife wears a CTR ring which of course stands for ‘Choose the Right.” Both the tie pin and ring have been the subject of conversations when noticed by co-workers, customers or vendors.

When asked about the pin I have said, “It’s a reminder of the two years I spent in Central America as a missionary over thirty years ago.” Sometimes it leads to further conversation. “Oh you were a missionary…”

What I love about my church is that the leaders of the church encourage me to share the joy I feel from my association and membership in the church and how it helps my family be happy. I just wish it weren’t considered so politically incorrect to talk about religion in the workplace.

What do you think? Have you noticed this same concern in your workplace about religious discussions? Are you aware of employers attempting to ban such conversations?

We knew it was going to get ugly

From Politico: “In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and criticizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. …there were “lots of negatives on Romney, including mentions of his “flip-flops,” hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.

“Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult,” said the Iowan, deeming them “common criticisms of Mormonism.” “I think they asked twice if being a Mormon would be an issue,” this person added. Let’s see, “Book of Mormon replacing the Bible, Baptizing the dead, Mormonism being a cult.” What do these subjects have to do with a man’s capability to lead a nation?

Romney communications director Matt Rhoades offers the following statement: “Whatever campaign is engaging in this type of awful religious bigotry as a line of political attack, it is repulsive and, to put it bluntly, un-American. There is no excuse for these attacks. Governor Romney is campaigning as an optimist who wants to lead the nation. These attacks are just the opposite. It’s ugly and divisive.”

I predict we will see more and more of this as Mitt Romney continues to grow in popularity as the most trustworthy candidate. I also predict it will do a tremendous amount of good as everyday members of the church get asked about stuff like this. How would you respond when asked about Baptism for the Dead? “What, you actually dig up dead people and baptize them?” What a great opportunity to discuss the things of eternity and ordinances of salvation.

Update: Mitt comments on the attacks and is attacked for his ‘attack’ on the attackers.

What do you think? Will criticism of Mormonism get more intense in the year to come?

Lessons learned from a failed LDS bookstore

I love books. I always have. There’s just something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages to read it. A book to me represents an accomplishment. The author worked long and hard to get it into a format to be published. The editors made sure that there were no typos and that the grammar was acceptable to most readers. The printer did their best to produce a good product and the publisher spent lots of time and money to market it. But that’s not the accomplishment I’m talking about.

When I get a new book I usually buy it for one of several reasons. Highest on that list of reasons to buy is if it was recommended to me by someone I trust. Second is if the author is someone whose work I have read previously and with whom I am familiar. Third is if the book is one that is getting a lot of press or ranks high on a bestsellers list somewhere. But that’s not always why I buy. I’ll often pick up a book and just browse through the first page or two, skip to the back and read the last page or two and of course, read the front and back covers.

Building a library

Once I’ve decided that this book might be a worthwhile investment I buy it and put it on my bookshelf. “What? You don’t read it right away?” No, not usually – not unless it is something that directly relates to a project I am working on or was so intriguing when I bought that I just have to know what’s in it or how it turns out. Yep, I have dozens of books in my library that I have not yet read all the way through. They do eventually get read and I keep a mental list of which ones I intend to read and usually by what time frame I intend to read them.

When I have finally read the book and absorbed what the author tried to say, that book then turns into an accomplishment. I can say that I have read it and I have learned something from it. It may not be what the author intended but if I invest my time to read a book then I’m going to come away enriched in some way. I’m either going to have an increased understanding of a subject, or a different opinion of the author or both. That book has then become a part of me.

Why I love books

Do you know why I love books? Because my mother loved books. My mother loved to read and she taught me to read when I was very little. I love to read because my mother instilled in me a love of learning. We didn’t have a TV in my home when I was growing up because my mother wanted us to read. She read to us, we read to her and we especially read in the summer months. We were always visiting the library and checking out books to read. Mother was always buying us books to read and they always seemed to be books that had won awards.

Mother loved books so much and loved to discuss them that when she retired from teaching school she took her life savings and opened a bookstore. She was so excited to pick out the selection of all the books she loved. She arranged them just so on the shelves and eagerly anticipated the many enjoyable conversations she would have with customers when they came in to buy books or ask her what she recommended that day. It was just too bad that mother didn’t realize that not everyone shared her love of books, especially the ones she chose.

Selling LDS books is not easy

Mother specialized in LDS Books. The location for the bookstore was OK. It was in a nice new shopping center in the relatively affluent town of LaVerne CA. Oh she had regular books and bestsellers, both fiction and non-fiction but for the most part, mother invested her inventory in books from Deseret Book, Bookcraft, Horizon and other LDS publishers. I remember going to several booksellers conventions to learn about all the new books coming out that season.

It was a sad day when mother closed her bookstore. It didn’t even last a year. She had sadly miscalculated in her plans. She had mistaken her love of reading, learning, sharing and teaching for something that could be marketed and sold in the cold business world. She just couldn’t understand why the customers didn’t flock to her door. It takes time to establish a clientele and she had a lot of competition from the big resellers that could undercut her.

Summary and conclusion

I don’t look at mother’s bookstore as a failure although she often did. Mother taught me that you should go for your dreams even if they don’t come to fruition like you had hoped. Not only did mother pass on to me her love of learning but also her passion for sharing. I love to share things I learn because I saw the joy that sharing brought to my mother. Most of the time that joy is reciprocated as the teacher and the learner rejoice together. This blog is like my mother’s bookstore, except that thanks to Blogger, the initial investment is, well, nothing but my time.

Donny Osmond on Eternal Marriage

OK, I’ve just got to say something about the Osmonds on Oprah today. No, I’ve never watched Oprah before in my life. I was working from home today and Carol had the show on in the front room. Frankly, it was simply an amazing show and a celebration of life. More specifically, of the life of George Osmond, the patriarch of the family. He passed away Tuesday at the age of 90. It was wonderful to see such a large family all together in one place at one time.

It was great to see the Osmond brothers sing together again. It was great to see Donny and Marie sing together and great to see Marie dance again, especially after her fainting spell on Dancing with the Stars a couple of weeks ago. No, I don’t watch that show either – it just happened to be on in the front room again. I loved seeing Marie give one of her special dolls to Oprah. It was obvious that she was delighted. But the real hero in my eyes was Donny and what he said.

“We believe we’re an eternal family,” Donny said. “We know we will be with our parents again. We know it. We don’t just believe it. We know it. It’s so comforting for us to know that we will be together again.” Donny also said he and his family wanted to celebrate both their late parents not just for setting an example for what a healthy relationship should look like but for doing a mighty fine job, if they say so themselves, of raising children.

“Isn’t it interesting how two people can raise a family in show business, nine children, and still love each other? We still have our problems. We still have our issues. We’re a normal family. But the mere fact that we can all come together and still be a tight, close-knit family, that’s a testimony to my parents.” (Source: eOnline)

More than 120 members of the Osmond family joined Oprah Winfrey in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday to tape a special tribute to clan patriarch George Osmond, who died on Tuesday. The 90-year-old was supposed to join his relatives for the TV special, but he’ll now be buried in his native Utah when the show airs on Friday.

Son Donny Osmond says, “The funeral will take place on Friday, the day that Oprah airs, which is very interesting as far as coincidence is concerned. I think there’s a little divine intervention in the fact that everybody will be talking about my father (on the show).”

Sister Marie Osmond adds, “To have something like Oprah right now is really special to our family because there’s nothing they like more than their posterity, and to be able to see all of them together at one location is really special.” (Source: IMDb)

Now, doesn’t the person who wrote this little diatribe on the ABC Forums feel special: “I cannot believe this! HELLO! Mr. Osmond just died on Tuesday and the funeral won’t be until Friday!! Don’t ya think that the family could have waited until he was buried before jetting off to Oprah? Maybe… oh.. I don’t know… maybe after the guy was buried? Is that the way Mormon people treat their dead family?” (Source: ABC Forums) She obviously has never heard of tape delay.