I come from (and am fiercely proud and loyal to,) a typical Utah Mormon family. My Mom's family being particularly "Mormonesque." For instance, I am the oldest of 37* grandchildren. Many of my aunts and uncles live within a 2 miles of each other. We visit my grandparents nearly every week. I do not go a day without seeing a member of my extended family, or at least talking to them on the phone.
Members of my family tend to be proud of the following things:
Their pioneer ancestry
Devotion to the Republican Party
I know they don't agree with me concerning most of the things I write on my blog, especially the stuff about the Gays. And the swearing. (But J. Golden Kimball swore, so there is still hope for me...)
Nevertheless, they all took time to congratulate me on my City Weekly thing. They are supportive and kind, even when we don't agree entirely.
Because we agree on the important things: we recognize the value of each other. My family loves and includes me, even when we don't agree. Plus, I think I got my Aunt to at least tolerate the idea of universal health care.
On Saturday I listened to Elder Cook's talk on women in the church. I was prepared to have my feminist feathers ruffled, even turning to Spouseman and warning him "this is not going to end well."
But then I noticed something. I noticed that Elder Cook stressed marriage as an equal partnership no less than three times. He never once said the word "preside" in reference to a husband's role. For the first time, over the pulpit, I was told that I could be just as valiant if I chose to work outside the home as a mother.
If I chose. Not if my husband died, or if we had a financial crisis, but if I chose.
While some people saw the bit about balancing church callings, (When a woman receives a time intensive calling, her husband will serve in a less time-consuming role,)as a tangent, I was pleased to hear about women acting in positions of authority and value in the church. That their role could be important enough to merit dad staying home, and, dare I say it...nurturing their children.
Plus, did anyone else think the part about the Bishop delegating responsibilities implied a delegation of responsibilities to women?
Most importantly, he was sincere. He was earnest. I could tell that he was trying very hard to reach out not only to the traditional LDS woman, but to those of us who so often feel excluded from the culture of the church. I don't think Elder Cook would agree with the more radical concerns of Mormon feminists, but I felt like he knew those concerns, and was listening.
He listened, and in very subtle, with carefully chosen words, made significant changes to the way we talk about women in the church. I mean, seriously? Are we going to get our undies in a wad over a somewhat-silly story about the contents of a woman's purse when the man said we can stay at home, or work, and still be valiant? DOES IT GET ANYMORE FEMINIST?
Yes, actually, it does. Someday, I hope to listen to a talk that promotes complete gender equality in the structure and organization of the church. I anticipate conference sessions where women not only are given the OK to pray in sacrament, but conference as well. My children and I will listen to more than two female speakers during 10 hours of Conference talks.
I look forward to revelations, authority, and blessings not currently offered to me because of my gender. Someday, we will not offer somewhat patronizing lip service on how awesome women are, because we will be working right alongside our male counterparts as equals. We will know of our potential not based on our gender, but our work.
So despite the fact that Elder Cook did not fulfill all my LDS feminist fantasies, for the first time in a very long time, Elder Cook made me feel like a valued member of a Church family. We don't agree on everything, but we recognize the value of each other.
Now what are the odds I can convince him to support universal health care? *? I think.