Monday, May 19, 2014

Rights and Responsibilities

The anniversary of the restoration of the Priesthood to the earth just passed, and I've been thinking a lot about Priesthood authority. Thanks to the Ordain Women organization, female Priesthood ordination is a big issue (or at least seems like one due to the volume of the discussion).

I understand the frustration. I do not agree with or approve of what Ordain Women is doing.  The brethren have repeatedly made it clear that there are certain channels we use to raise and address issues we have within the Gospel and the Church, and I understand why those channels exist and I fully support them.  Having questions is one thing--openly defying the publicly stated requests the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles is quite another.  The moment you start calling yourself an "agitator" and acting like one, you have lost me.  Once you start staging public protests (media in tow) you aren't trying to understand, you're trying to win.  I cannot support that.  Furthermore, I believe quite strongly that the First Presidency and the Twelve are extraordinarily "tuned in" to what is happening in the world and within the Church, and that they are soft-hearted and responsive, and take inquiries, challenges and sincere desires for further light and knowledge quite seriously.  If I see someone writing (or implying) that they are a bunch of clueless old men who just don't "get it" or "aren't listening", my ability to take the individual seriously immediately starts to dwindle, because quite frankly I just think she's flat wrong.

That being said, I don't think its fair to dismiss any woman (or for that matter, man) who has questions about  women and Priesthood administration, or women and the temple, or any other such doctrine, as lacking faith, being disobedient or an apostate.  While I don't personally know any one who would identify herself as a "feminist Mormon", I have spent a quite a lot of time reading blog posts and discussions by those who identify themselves as such, and many of them are thoughtful, intelligent and seem like decent and mostly faithful sisters.  (Sure, there are some that definitely come off as angry or hurt and looking for someone to blame, or intellectually arrogant and consequently short on faith, but by no means are all the sisters who participate in such forums like that).  Some of the questions they ask are things I have myself noticed and/or wondered about.  Personally, I don't believe that many of the questions are in and of themselves necessarily destructive or out in left field.  But I think, especially in the world of the internet, where you have no idea who is reading what you say, or what the state of their testimonies or understanding might be, one must be very careful not to project personal frustrations or offer pure conjecture as answers to such questions.

Even though I have had some similar questions, or made some similar observations, it has never occurred to me that such things should challenge my faith in my Savior, in the validity and authority of his Church, the revelation and wisdom of the current leaders of that Church or the order the Lord has appointed for his Kingdom on Earth.  Whatever questions I may have or things I may not know, here is what I do know:  I have Heavenly Parents who love me, a tremendously merciful and kind Savior who gave all for my redemption, and the Church is led by inspired, righteous Priesthood leaders who are instructed in and  obedient to the will of the Lord.  There are things we do not yet know, or fully understand.  I'm OK with that.  One of my favorite things about our faith is that there are no Mysteries of God that are ultimately Unknowable.  I believe that Heavenly Father "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God", and I trust his wisdom, and the obedience and prudence of those he has chosen to lead his children, in the timing of those marvelous revelations.  Usually, the Lord offers revelation as an answer to diligent searching and sincere asking, but we have records of various instances when prophets have failed to ask for those things that were needful, or even tried to ignore revelation they didn't personally find pleasing, and the Lord has had pretty direct and intense ways of bringing it to their attention.   Why would he not do so if the prophet today were failing to address that which was needful, particularly if his other children were diligently seeking and asking?

It seems deeply woven into our mortal nature to look beyond the mark. When I hear women declaring that they should have the Priesthood, there's always a small part of me that thinks, "Have you done your Visiting Teaching this month?  How consistent is your Family Home Evening?  Are you magnifying your current calling?"  In our present division of labor, responsibility and authority, the Lord asks plenty of each of us.  Maybe some of these sisters are nearly perfect in those things, but the truth is that nearly all of us could improve within the stewardships, responsibilities and obligations that the Lord has already blessed us with.  I have not been asked to bear the responsibility of performing ordinances, or with specific administrative or ministerial duties.  But I can fully participate in any ordinance of which I am living worthy, and I have many other duties and responsibilities.  My energy would be better spent striving to perfect the responsibilities I already have than demanding that someone give me different ones.  If I am living worthily, I can call on the power of the Lord for whatever I might need--never have I had reason to doubt that.  If I can call to my assistance ministering angels, not being able to reach my husband or home teacher at a moment's notice doesn't feel like a deal breaker.

But the crux of the issue, as far as those who demand the Priesthood as their "right" is this:  we define the Priesthood as the power and authority of God.  No one has a right to it.  If you demand that you be given the power of God, declare that you have a right to it, you immediately show yourself to be unworthy to wield it.  The Priesthood is not about earthly arrangements of power, and it is not about self-fulfillment.  Its about the salvation of man through the great power of Heaven.  The Lord determines how that authority is delegated, and I am grateful to live in a dispensation where the Lord has given that authority and power to his children more abundantly than ever before.  There are still some gaps on the map to fill in, but we are rapidly approaching the point where any child of God living on the earth can access the ordinances and blessings of that power if they desire it.  What a marvelous time to be alive.  I think there may be sufficient reason to think that how the Priesthood is wielded in the eternities may be slightly different than how it is done here on the earth, but the bottom line is that this is the order the Lord has declared, and I trust that his reasons are good, his purposes can be fulfilled, and that all of his children can access the the power and authority of God unto salvation.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kinder Ready

Yesterday was the Head Start transition day for the kids heading to Kindergarten this fall.
Kylie will be in Mrs. Seymour's class--we're glad for it.
The biggest, nerve-wracking, "what do I do?" issue for most Kindergarteners is lunch.
So, we rode the bus to school, and then they fed them lunch,
and taught them the whole process.
You know, just like in prison.
I jest (sort of).
Kylie, being Kylie, ate all her broccoli, grapes and Jello,
and left her burrito untouched.
Love this girl.

 Because she seems so little to me, 
I sometimes forget that she's one of the bigger/older preschoolers.
She was pretty confident,
and just had a lot easier time reaching everything
than a lot of the other kids.
After lunch, she went to her teacher's classroom,
with the other Head Start kids that will be in her class.
They read a book,
and colored a picture,
and then lined up for recess.
At this point, the teacher had them put a giant,
pretend marshmallow in their mouth
to keep them quiet in the halls.
Kylie thought that was awesome.
And she was really good.

The Dwyer playground is a whole different world
than the Head Start playground.
It was super exciting for all the kids to play out there.

After recess we loaded up on the bus
and headed back to preschool.
After work time, I left to pick up Keira and Dylan
(and take Keilana to a church activity),
and then I took the other two back to Head Start with me
to enjoy their last recess of the day with them.
The sun was shining, most of the kids were in shorts,
and everybody was pretty happy about it.

We're pretty happy that sunshine is here fairly consistently,
at long last.
And Kylie is learning to wink.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Word Play

I really can't stand when abortion advocates use the term "anti-choice".  It is an intentionally disingenuous phrase.

The only thing I'm against is ending what can be very reasonably (scientifically, not just religiously) called a unique human life. That's it.  I'm not trying to tell anyone (or make the government tell anyone) that they must raise their children in a certain way, or teach them specific things that are to my liking;  I'm not trying to control how much of what you can drink, whether or not you join a union, what kind of light bulbs you can use in your own house, whether or not you buy health insurance (and what your insurance should cover), which causes your income supports (or doesn't),  or really anything else.  No--its largely the supposedly "pro-choice"crowd who supports all those choice-restricting legislative gems.  Those who are constantly pushing for ever more expansive legislation to affect and control the day-to-day decisions and life styles of huge numbers of people rather ironically call themselves "pro-choice".  I have no desire to control anyone else's life or decisions, and tend to hate it when I see people doing it to others.

Yet I get labeled "anti-choice" because I don't think it should be legal to end a human life on a whim, even if that life is temporarily dependent upon your body for survival.  Don't give me the "its just a clump of cells" line.  While that may technically be true for about a week (by the time most women know they're pregnant, and are thus capable of choosing an abortion, an embryo has a distinctly human, if extremely under-developed, form), I have birthed four babies, and have watched them grow into beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind and fascinating young children, and every one of them started out as two cells fused together.  But those two fused cells are so much more than the sum of their parts.  The Bible states that a man shall leave his mother and father, and cleave unto his wife and the twain shall be one flesh.  We see this made somewhat literal all the time in the creation of children.  One gamete containing genes only from mom, another only from dad, fuse and form a new person that is parts of both of them, and yet distinct and unique from either of them.  From the moment that egg and sperm meet and meiosis completes, a unique individual is present:  if we had the capacity to peer into the the tiny genetic code, it would tell us--from the very moment of conception--what gender that new individual is, what color her eyes and hair will be, how tall he will likely grow to be, whether or not she'll have freckles, or Dad's cleft chin.  That's incredible.

And in our society, that wonderful, unique person can be thrown away--literally--because the timing isn't "good", or a woman is scared or nervous, or feels trapped by her circumstances, or parents find out that the child will not be "perfect" in the ways they imagined, or a hundred other reasons.  We have created a society where we trifle with the power to create life, and so abuse the power to end it.  I certainly think there are better circumstances than others to raise a baby in, but that doesn't make it OK to throw a life away.  I have known more than one young woman who, finding herself pregnant, felt panicked and unprepared, to say the least, but found that bringing that baby into her life made her own life much better than she could've imagined.  I've known more than one young woman who knew she couldn't raise a baby in her circumstances, and selflessly carried that baby to term and then gave it up to a couple who could provide the things she could not.  I've known many, many couples on the receiving end of that gift, couples who often spent years (in some cases more than a decade) giving in to frustrated, desperate tears in the belief that they might never have children.  Their joy upon being blessed with a child is indescribable, but delightfully supernal.  I've watched children light up the lives of parents who "couldn't afford" them, I've seen women surprised to discover how little the "career disruption" actually mattered to them in the long run, and I've seen parents of special needs children fall in love with their "imperfect" kids over and over again.

We have been blessed with the power to create life.  Sometimes, that gift is used inappropriately or unwisely.  There are better options, however, than compounding a mistake with another mistake.  I believe we should be able to choose how to live our own lives, but I don't believe we should have the power to end lives because they are inconvenient to our own.   I don't think that fairly bears the the label "anti-choice".

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Grandma and Cousins

This is my mom's maternal grandmother, and some of my mom's nieces and nephews (she was the youngest of 7, and was only about 13 when this picture was taken, so this is by no means all of her nieces and nephews).  A little over a generation later, I got to see my own grandmother often in circumstances like these.  Its uncanny how much she looked like her mother.

This is what several generations of my family looks like: lots of cousins, grandparents who delight in all these kids everywhere, able to see some of the benefits of all their years of sacrifice.  Lots of love, lots of people who share your story.

I've said it before, but its worth repeating: I know big families aren't everybody's thing.  I am deeply grateful that they're ours.