Monday, September 29, 2014

Thoughts on a Book Review

I recently read this book review: by Valerie Hudson and I have some thoughts.

First, the book Hudson is reviewing is Women at Church by Neylan McBaine.  I have not read the book--just the review!  My thoughts are only about the review and whatever else I've been thinking about.  I would like to read the book some time in the future, though.  It looks really interesting.

I have come to a few conclusions about the new buzz around women in the church.  First, I believe there are really only three camps.  One camp is the incredibly small group that actually think women should be ordained.  Another camp is probably by far the largest--those women who feel like the status quo is just fine and don't see much need for anything to change.  The third camp (where I find myself) believes that women do not need ordination but that our current church culture does not always live up to church doctrine.

This book is written by a woman who also falls into that third camp.  Plus, the reviewer is Valerie Hudson so I was predisposed toward the review and the book.  Now all my biases are out in the open.

Another conclusion I have reached, and I feel this is important, is that the discussion about women swirling around the church is not really about ordination.  It also doesn't indicate a lack of faith in Christ or church leaders or anything like that.  Really, at its core, it is a discussion about motherhood.  Is motherhood really all that and a bag of chips--our legitimate major focus and the center of our natures, or is it something pawned off on women by men so they can do more interesting things than clean up poo and vomit.  Motherhood is the center of this debate--not ordination.

We already know that our culture treats motherhood as a lesser calling or merely supplemental to the real contribution of women, but are LDS women starting to feel the same?  Heaven knows there are days I have grave doubts about it all.

If you don't pick up the Sheri Dew book about priesthood for any other reason, pick it up to read her chapter on motherhood.  She starts by saying, "Prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood again and again.  And it is doctrine (her own emphasis, not mine)."  Remember a few years ago when Kami told me I shouldn't call it the doctrine on motherhood because people automatically switched off when I did?  Well, ha.  Is that the problem then?  A lack of understanding that motherhood IS doctrine and what exactly the doctrine is?  Or is it, in general, a lack of desire to be mothers and put in the grueling days necessary?  Or is it really an authentic belief that men could do "mothering" just as well as women and we should share our roles and responsibilities in a more egalitarian fashion because women's natures are not fundamentally different than men's natures?

What is causing the disconnect?

Sister Dew doesn't appear to be conflicted.  "Motherhood is divine, eternal, and core to the nature of every woman.  When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman's most sacred and divinely appointed role."  (pg. 141)

But that isn't news to me.  I've felt that way my whole life and feel constantly the need to preach motherhood.  The doctrine of motherhood has shaped every major life decision I've ever made.

So here I am, planted firmly in the camp that thinks our church culture needs to catch up to doctrine and that women need to accept that things aren't perfect in Zion and quit telling other women to get over it if they've felt marginalized, but also staunchly in favor of traditional roles.  I actually think our traditional roles are divine.  It appears a contradictory position.

Here's another dilemma.  How do church leaders figure out what changes to make to our culture?  It is worse than an anthill--it's like a pit of vipers.  One misstep and bam.

For example, I have read a lot recently about women who want to be more actively involved in their baby's blessings.  For some women, holding their baby during the blessing feels like the right answer.  To me it feels like a slap in the face to the mother.  As though someone who grew a body for a spirit child of God needs to be involved in the baby blessing to feel important!  It is ludicrous!!  I would be offended if someone wanted me to do it.  Since I, as the MOTHER, acted as a Savior by allowing that Spirit Child of God to progress from pre-mortal life to mortal life and procure a body, I don't need any token involvement in the blessing.  It would be too much of a come-down--a gesture that shows a lack of respect and understanding of what I did for that child.

But other women totally don't agree with me and think that by not allowing mothers to be involved in the blessing the mothers are being demeaned.

This is just one issue!  Imagine the multiplicity of feelings other women may have on this one issue!  It is mind boggling.

To sum up.  Read the book review.  It was good food for thought.  Second, remind me again how converted I am to motherhood because now that I've hit last trimester it is really, really hard to remember why I do this.  :)