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on January 10, 2014
I'm a feminist Relief Society pres in Provo, trying to help things progress as efficiently and effectively as I can. This is my handbook.
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on July 10, 2010
Being a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (more commonly called Mormons) I am slightly dismayed by the misogyny of authority, etc. However, it isn't any worse than most other religions. But this book reveals that things weren't always this way; that Mormon women in the past had more authority in the priesthood, etc.
A friend of mine and I think this misogyny will be corrected on the other side of the veil (to the spirit world).
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on April 11, 2012
A profound view of feminism within Mormonism. This is a collection of essays, poems, and research papers dealing with various women's issues in the church, including the historical perspective, ERA fights, views of Mother in Heaven, etc. I have purchased copies of this book to give to my family members. Very enlightening.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 2, 2011
Maxine Hanks is a feminist theologian who was one of the "September Six" who were excommunicated September 19, 1993; in response to her editing of this book, in her case. She is also the co-author of Mormon Faith in America.

This 1992 collection contains essays by LDS scholars/writers including D. Michael Quinn and Lavina Fielding Anderson. Hanks wrote in the Preface, "I saw a need for this book as I observed diversity and repetition among the ideas and work of Mormon feminists. I wanted to bring feminist voices together to show that they have much in common. I also felt that this broader approach to theology would utilize feminist voices that remerge from one decade to the next. This anthology unites some of the feminist perspectives that have surfaced in Mormonism from the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the present... This book is written for and about women; its purpose is to illustrate women's religious equality, not to lobby or persuade. This is the kind of book I wish had been available when I was a young woman or a sister missionary; it could have made a significant difference in my struggle for identity within a male-identified religion and society."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"Feminist theology is simply woman's philosophy of God and her relationship to God. It is revisionist theology; it reveals the feminine in our view of God and priesthood." (Pg. xxv)
"The idea of a mother in heaven is shadowy and elusive, floating around the edges of Mormon consciousness. Mormons who grow up singing 'O My Father' are familiar with the concept of a heavenly mother, but few hear much else about her. She exists, apparently, but has not been very evident in Mormon meetings or writings. And little if any theology has been developed to elucidate her nature and characterize our relationship to her." (Pg. 3)
"A question to which there is no definitive answer---but much speculation---is whether there is more than one Mother in Heaven." (Pg. 11)
"Mormon women suffered a considerable loss of power when the autonomous Relief Society was absorbed into the general church structure... They traded their autonomous organization for a percentage of the main church's power structure. The change in [our] Relief Society was a retreat in every way. In retrospect, I have often wondered if Mormon women gave in too easily..." (Pg. 103)
"Because no women are present in the decision-making or policy-setting councils of the church, they have no official voice in the management of the church or in the pronouncements that seek to define their role and determine the quality of their church experience." (Pg. 205)
"I believe that the most urgent change needed in LDS women's church experience is simply that men should stop preempting women's voices---that they stop speaking FOR and TO women, and let women speak for themselves." (Pg. 209)
"Yet by resisting naming God the Mother, we risk having someone else name her and describe her for us." (Pg. 252)
"Rather than a fine-tuning of the present, male (priesthood) system, I think we need a major overhaul. I see women's ordination to Melchizedek priesthood as a kind of 'tune-up,' when I believe what is needed is an overhaul of the vehicle or church system." (Pg. 358)
"Moreover, since God is the head of the male priesthood order, it is understandable that some Mormon women conclude that a female goddess is or should be the head of the female priesthood order. The doctrine of a female deity is the foundation for female priesthood." (Pg. 426)
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on April 15, 1999
This beautifully edited books is a collection of articles written by Mormon women of this century who have come to realize the negative impact that Mormon patriarchy has imposed upon them.
Aside from the controversial nature of these works, every Mormon female should read this book, perhaps in conjunction with the book "In Sacred Lonliness" a biography of the many polygamous wives of Joeseph Smith. When the lives of the strong, powerful and empowered women of the past are imposed over the current lives and roles of women today, one can clearly see the deterioation of the female "godhead" once so central to church doctrine.
This is a wonderful book. As I read it, I felt not only empowered, but enervated and comforted as well. Any Mormon woman who has heard the phrase "Men can enter the priesthood, but women make sure their feet are clean before they do" and has felt some unquiet in their soul will likely find some soul sisters or soul mates in this text.
As a 5th generation Mormon female and given the promise that the prophet Joseph Smith made to the women of the church which referred to their roles as those of "...healer and goddess..." I think I can safely say that I would rather be a goddess than a doormat!
Best wishes to the authors and editors of this magnificent book - read it if you are interested in Mormonism, women's roles in any church, or Mormon Feminism.
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on January 7, 2005
This book is just jolly good! I mean you get to read about all these aspects of LDS women's life and spirituality. The editor has really done a remarkable job, gathering all these essays from believing and cultural LDS, which illuminate the situation of many passed and present women of LDS.

Some essays are interviews with LDS women, there is a long excerpt from the 19th century LDS women's magazine, a lot of space is dedicated to the equal rights movement taking place in US and how LDS women handled it. The question of authority and priesthood is discussed which gave a great knowledge about the old days, when the LDS movement was charismatic, not so institutionalised as it became later. It is not only the facticity of women healing, administering to the sick, praying and having religous seances that is mentioned, but also how how this can be used today, in women's and men's lives. Do we actually need female priests? What kind of measures would it take? Is there a possibility for creating a forum besides the Relief society to empower women's sprituality?

The role of language and its patriarchal structure, another essay, reminded of my own church's struggle (I am Swedish Lutheran) in the 1950s when the first women were ordained to be priests. The question of language is also connected to the image of god, is it a man, a father, and how comforting can a father image be, when fathers seem so absent in our lives? There is according to LDS a mother in heaven but she is rather silent, but through this book you get to know people who were touched by her and answered by her.

I loved the book and you will like it independently of your relation to the LDS movement, because it raises important questions and can be a start-off for a change, just like that research which finally opened the priesthood for all males regardless of skin colour in 1978. But as always, change takes time, I mean it took five hundred years for the Lutherans in Sweden to finally "let" the women become priests, it will take time and a lot of effort. As an essay in the book says, there is hardly any women in the place where the action in the church takes place, because many posts in the LDS hierarchy are connected to the priesthood, so it will take time. It is a faith-promoting book in many ways, it showed how faithfulness to the religion can be empowering even if it never gives you the actual chance to be empowered.

Two constructive suggestions, when editing another collection: one: why the silence about polygamy? How did it affect authority? How did it effect women's chance to be priestesses and godesses of the new heavens and earths? I mean even if the women had an independence during Joseph's life time and a bit afterwards, many of them, were living in polygamous relationships. It is sad that not one essay mentioned this and I believe that polygamy had to do someting with the Relief society in the beginning and that polygamy helped institutionalise the patriarchy in the church so that women's voice was never heard, only their exit, when they could not handle it. Two: the book is in some way very US-focused, especially in the equal movement part, maybe I am too European living in Europe but it hardly mentions anything about the church in other countries. How is women's spirituality and authority affected by the church in countries with another religous/secular tradition? So, bro' or sis' I recommend and especially for the men in the LDS church!
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on May 11, 1999
Women and the Priesthood
The various diaries and journals also shed historical light on some of today's controversies. One example is that of women and the priesthood. At the present, LDS women are denied direct access to the privileges and blessings of priesthood. Yet on April 28, 1842 Joseph showed the women of the newly formed "Female Relief Society" how they would "come in possession of the privileges, blessings and gifts of the Priesthood" (p. 244). Apparently this did take place, for on Saturday, October 7,1843 "Hiram and his wife were blessed, ordained, and anointed [to the fulness of the priesthood]" (p. 418). Later, on Sunday October 23, "William Marks and wife anointed [to fulness of the priesthood and quorum of the anointed] 24 present" (p. 423). Given this precedent, one wonders if women will continue to be denied these same privileges and blessings today.
The above quotation is taken from the writings of Joseph Smith and published by Scott H. Faulring in his book: An American Prophet's Record. (see the Amazon listing under this title)
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on March 31, 2003
This book is an extraordinary collection of Mormon feminist voices, from the mid-19th century to the present. Numerous quotes and excerpts from a wide variety of feminists are included -- ranging from Emma Smith (wife of the LDS founder) to Emmeline Wells (editor of the Woman's Exponent) to contemporary scholars (like Claudia Bushman and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich) -- along with articles by respected scholars (like Linda Newell and D. Michael Quinn). Rather than simply protest or agitate for change, this book takes a positive approach that celebrates and reclaims women's spirituality, ministry and authority in Mormonism. The book documents women's past religious empowerment and suggests simply reclaiming any lost spiritual power. These voices are brave, authentic, and spiritual, showing that Mormon women use personal pathways to the divine, a living spirituality. Reading this book is an energizing experience. It's soundly based on Mormon history, theology and doctrine, not veering outside of the faith. Every Mormon woman could benefit from this book, and may find that it strengthens her relationship to Mormonism, as well as her connection to God, and expands her spiritual life. Overall, a healing book.
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on March 11, 2005
Even if you don't want to use the "F" word -- feminist -- to describe yourself, you will find this book tremendously interesting. Chock full of inspiring original documents from the founding mothers of Mormonism and thoughful, varied essays by modern writers, this book contains the writings of those on the "who's who" list of Mormon Feminists, from Eliza R. Snow to Sonia Johnson to Todd Compton. For those doing any sort of research on LDS women, this is an invaluable collection of original quotations and thoughful modern reflection.
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on November 26, 2002
So we have this new book on women that I have read, and I find this food for thought to be rather delicious, but need the tobasco sauce of truth at times.
I think the key is the irony of relevance and ennui between the paradoxical dichotomies that we se in the community of women of the Momonites. We have the power of life, but the fear of death; the potential for hope and the despair--thank you Soren Kierkegaard--of the eternal. This book fleshes out the counterpoints to the talking piints of the current intellectuo-spiritual paradigm.
A new benchmark has been reached, but the question is always will we just merely consider the ideals or go foreward withe the fellowship?
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