Essential Reading For Mormon Feminists

Posted on February 10, 2010. Filed under: feminism | Tags: , , , , |

by Caroline

One of our readers recently emailed and asked what the most important books were for Mormon feminists to read. Here is my list, but please, readers, contribute your own ideas.

I have ranked these books. Three stars means most important, one star means less important.

Readings on Mormon Feminism

1. Women and Authority: Reemerging Mormon Feminism by Maxine Hanks. *** This is a collection of essays that addresses just about every topic you ever thought about as a Mormon feminist. I highly recommend the first chapter about Mother in Heaven, and I also love the excerpts from Exponent II.  This book is completely online, but I recommend buying your own copy.

2. All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir by Ulrich and Thayne. *** This is a gentle, thoughtful collection of essays and poems from a couple of our best thinkers in the Church. Whatever you do, make sure you read the essay, “Lusterware.”  If you’re ever feeling discouraged and wonder if there’s a place for you in the church, read it. You’ll be renewed with fresh hope.

3. Sisters in Spirit by Beecher and Anderson. ***A great collection of essays. I remember particularly liking Newell’s one on gifts of the spirit.

4. Strangers in Paradox by the Toscanos*** Fascinating ideas about women and Mormonism.

5. Mormon Enigma by Newell and Avery. **If you’re interested in Emma Smith, this will blow you away. What an amazing woman. And how messed up polygamy was.

6. The pink Dialogue issue from 1971. **The first women’s issue, put together by the wonderful ladies of Exponent II.

7. Mormon Sisters by Claudia Bushman. **Who knew those early women of Utah could be so empowered?

8. From Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson * You’ll learn details here about the Church’s underground work against the ERA that will blow you away. She’s a powerful writer. But you might find her over the top anti-patriarchal rhetoric a bit tiring.

9.) The Exponent II publication. **Started in the 70’s to explore the intersections of faith and feminism, this publication has been publishing wonderful essays and articles for over 30 years.

10. God the Mother and other Theological Essays by Allred. ** Here she proposes that the Holy Ghost may be God the Mother.

Books on Feminism and Religion

1. When Women Were Priests *** by Torjesen. A powerful argument that women held priesthood in the early Christian church.

2. Womanspirit Rising by Christ *** A collection of seminal articles on feminism and religion, from a variety of traditions.

3. Sexism and God-Talk by Reuther *** The best book I know about patriarchy, feminism and Christianity.

Please add to my list!

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Upcoming Book Group Discussion: God’s Problem

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: Mormon Life | Tags: , , , , |

Our friend, G, had the great idea to start an X2 book discussion.  We’ll be doing 2 books: the first (this one) by a Christian who became an atheist, the second is about an atheist who became a Christian.

So, read God’s Problem by July 9th and prepare for a lively discussion and more info on the next book.  Thanks, G!

Anyone up for a group discussion of Bart Ehrman’s book, God’s Problem?

Bart Ehrman was raised a devout Christian, spending an extensive college career devoted to the Bible and training to become a minister. After serving for some time in various churches he found himself becoming more and more conflicted about how the Bible (and the Christian tradition) tries to explain why people suffer.

In God’s Problem, Ehrman delineates the contradictory explanations put forth by the Bible, contradictions which he eventually could no longer reconcile, leading him to leave Christianity; “I finally… came to realize that I could no longer believe in the God of my tradition, and acknowledged that I was an agnostic; I don’t ‘know’ if there is a God; but I think that if there is one, he certainly isn’t the one proclaimed by the Judeo-Christian tradition, the one who is actively and powerfully involved in this world.” (pg 4)


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Making History

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: history, women | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A few weeks ago I recorded an interview with Exponent II founder Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. She read some passages from her latest book, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History and she answered my questions about historical writing and research. You can listen to the first and second segment of our chat via the Making History Podcast.

In her book, Laurel writes of her contributions to Mormon women’s history:

“My friends and I called our feminist newspaper Exponent II to honor a nineteenth-century pro-suffrage periodical launched by Mormon women in Utah in 1872. Most of us had grown up knowing about the heroism of pioneer ancestors who had participated in the epic trek across the United States, but until we had discovered old copies of the original Woman’s Exponent, few of us knew anything about early Mormon feminism. We did not know that Utah women voted and held office fifty years before women in the eastern United States, not that polygamists’ wives has attended medical school, published newspapers, and organized cooperative enterprises. Reading their words, we were astonished at how confidently these pioneer women insisted on their right to participate in public life and work…we found in their lives models for religious commitment, social activism, and personal achievement that seemed far more powerful that the complacent domesticity portrayed in popular magazines or in our own congregations.”

Laurel closes her book with a potent rumination about women who “make history.” She says that “well-behaved women make history when they do the unexpected, when they create and preserve records, and when later generations care.”

My question for you, is whether you fit into any of these categories? Are you making history by doing something unexpected or my keeping records? And do you think that today’s generation cares about the lives of their foremothers in the same way that Laurel and her sisters cared about early Mormon women?

And one last question: do you own a t-shirt, mug, sticker, totebag, or other paraphernalia with Laurel’s now-famous phrase? (Me, I’ve got the bumper sticker but it graces my favorite water bottle rather than the rear of my car…)

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Posted on July 21, 2007. Filed under: Family | Tags: , , , , , |

Our family was a bustle of preparing the book release all week long. Most of us re-read the whole series–or at least the sixth book–beforehand. We also made long lists of predications, loose ends that needed to be resolved, etc. We made wild predictions. We came just short of placing bets. 🙂

The kids and my husband dressed up for the party (John made a perfect Snape except for his ever-present smile). When we picked up the book from our favorite children’s bookstore the proprietor (a good friend) handed us a small packet of kleenex. She explained that we might need it–either because the book would have some sad parts or because of our sorrow that the end of the series had finally come. She’s right, that this is a bittersweet ending for us. My son began reading Harry Potter in kindergarten and he’s now a teenager. The stories have been a formative part of my kids’ growing years. It’s truly hard to believe that that will soon (in a few hours when we finish reading) be over!

What about you–are you feverishly reading today? Are you as enamored of this series as we are? If not, are there other series that have sparked your imagination?

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