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Link: This is a Woman’s Church

I’m a man, and I’m a feminist. I believe in gender equality. However, being a man, it’s sometimes a little difficult to speak to the nature and principles of the church that I believe support feminism. This talk by Sharon Eubank, who is the director of LDS Charities which is the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says all the things I have never been able to formulate on the subject of equality. The church’s practices may not seem traditionally feminist from the outside, but the true equality borne of the core doctrines may be feminism at its best.

This Is a Woman’s Church

Sharon Eubank at FAIR 2104 Conference

Sharon Eubank at FAIR 2104 Conference

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Repost: Ferguson, Thoughts on an American Flashpoint

As a white male, I am completely unqualified to address the core of the issues in Ferguson right now. So, I am posting the perspective of Michael Twitty, which I appreciate.

#Ferguson : My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint

I will say that the only way to fight fear and hate is with love. We need to love as Christ did, without respect to race, ethnicity, color, or gender, regardless of whether or not we think someone is “worthy” of our love. Jesus loved the criminals as well as the saints. Choose to see the good in people, and overlook the bad choices. That is the only way to learn to love others who we see as different from us.

Logic and Truth are Insufficient

As a follow up to my post on truth seeking,  I want to offer some thoughts connecting my post to an article in the New Yorker recently. The New Yorker article details the work of Brendan Nyhan who has studied the effect of media campaigns on the perception of political issues and policies. He has found that political beliefs — and, indeed, deeply-held beliefs of any kind — are almost impossible to change via marketing, discussion, logic or even broadly accepted facts!

To me this seems obviously related to our evolutionary bias for tribalism, which specifically helps us define ourselves as members of a group for protection. Of necessity, this bias also results in a desire to create “us” and “them” identifiers, which we use to maintain the integrity of the “tribe.” This is also the basis for a whole lot of nasty human tendencies: racism, sexism, religious tensions, extreme nationalism, etc. So, this bias is/was evolutionarily beneficial, but is highly problematic in a modern world.

Groups of all sorts are defined by their set of beliefs, from political parties to religions to social clubs to nations to families. Members of those groups often use shared beliefs to define their membership in those groups. So, as we are biologically biased to preserve our membership in groups, it makes sense that beliefs that tie us to those groups would be difficult to let go of. This is what Nyhan found in his research, and what I indicated was challenging in my previous post.

In discussing Nyhan’s findings with a friend, it reminded me of something I learned from my mother, who has a master’s degree in educational psychology, which was that people don’t really change as a general rule, but there are few things that can prompt substantial change in an individual:

  1. A near-death experience
  2. A life-threatening illness
  3. Cognative restructring, often achieved through psychological counseling
  4. A dramatic change of heart, often associated with a religious conversion

Perhaps this means that next time you run into someone with whom you have a deep fundamental disagreement, rather than trying to convince them that you’re right, you either need to guide them through therapy on the subject or convert them to your belief. Or you could just agree to disagree.

Repost: Book Review of Mormon’s Codex

Jeff Lindsay wrote a very useful review of John Sorenson’s book “Mormon’s Codex” on his blog, Mormanity. As we as Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be a true  record by people who lived in the Americas between 600 BC and about 350 AD, theoretically, archaeological findings should generally align with certain details in the Book of Mormon. This has been somewhat problematic in the past, partly, it seems, due to relatively limited studies of the peoples and sites of Central America (compared to, say studies of Israel or Egypt.) Sorenson seems to indicate that new studies are starting to have more and more potential points of agreement.

Here is the review: Mormon’s Codex: Rich Support for Book of Mormon Plausibility

On the Nature of Belief

Nathaniel Givens is rapidly becoming one of my favorite fellow logical Mormons. He wrote a post today in response to a question posed to him that asked, “What would it take to convince you that (in as much as you know anything) propositions such as God exists or the BoM is historical are false? Or do you consider such propositions unfalsifiable?” His response on the nature of belief is an excellent explanation of why questions like that are so hard to answer.

What It Would Take to Not Believe

Repost: On Ordain Women Being Confined to Free Speech Zones

There’s been a little controversy surrounding the group Ordain Women being asked to confine their activities to the “free speech zones” during the priesthood session of the upcoming general conference. Though I don’t agree with all of his philosophy, this blogger has constructed a very good argument supporting the Church’s position.

Difficult Run: On Ordain Women Being Confined to Free Speech Zones

Should Mormon women be ordained? Or are they already priesthood holders?

According to Joanna Brooks, “Mormon theology on gender is incoherent.” It’s a well written and reasoned argument and a fascinating read.

Ask Mormon Girl

For several weeks now, I have devoted my columns here to my own personal exploration of the question of women and priesthood ordination within the LDS Church.  What set me to this project was the launch of OrdainWomen.org, a set of profiles published by Mormon men and women calling for ordination of LDS women to the priesthood.

Even though I have been a committed feminist for more than twenty years, I never felt the same kind of visceral connection to the priesthood ordination issue that I had so readily felt on other issues of fairness and equality.  Seeing the faces of friends go public on-line in support of ordination at Ordainwomen.org made me wonder why.

Perhaps it was because I had not studied the issue carefully enough?  Perhaps studying the LDS scriptures and doctrines that structured priesthood ordination would help me arrive at a better understanding of the matter, and…

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