Endowment Effects, Women, and the Priesthood

“If you gave women the Priesthood and then took it away, would they be less happy than if they’d never gotten it to begin with?” That’s what some wise guy said on the McBride thread. At the time it was meant as a joke; on reflection, it may actually work as a serious question.

First, two paragraphs of necessary economics background (sorry):

Behavioral economics, an important branch of economics (some of its major pioneers recently received the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-a-Nobel prize), focuses on questions involving whether people value the same item differently depending on whether they own the item. Economists run experiments to see whether test subjects give more value to coffee mugs that they own — “I’ll sell you my mug for $7” — versus identical mugs that they don’t own — “I’ll buy yours for $5.” (Results suggest that people value their own mugs more.) The same economists ask questions like, “suppose you’re given $20 and then $10 is taken away — does that have the same effect as just being given $10?” And somewhat surprisingly, the answer is no. These experiments suggest that people get attached to things that they own: People are more satisfied with a gift of $10 than with a gift of $20-minus-$10, because the latter involves a taking away of something that’s theirs; people value their own coffee mug more than someone else’s, even when it’s the exact same mug.

In behavioral economic terms, the idea that people attach greater value to things that they own is called an endowment effect. Endowment effects are related to the concept of loss aversion — roughly speaking, that people will take more steps to avoid losing property they own, than they will to acquire property they don’t own, even when the monetary effects are identical. (N.B. Frank and Mike are so going to kill me for my quick-and-dirty explanation of behavioral econ– I’ve probably missed a dozen important points).

So here’s the serious question: Could some sort of retroactive endowment effect exist in the context of women-and- (or for that matter, Blacks-and- ) the priesthood?

That is, take an LDS woman, raised in the church, who has no idea about broader womens’ roles in past times. Women don’t have the priesthood right now, and she’s fine with that. This woman has been given her role, and she’s happy with it.

Now posit that this woman reads through church history and notices that women in the past were given much broader pristehood-like roles — Eliza R. Snow giving healing blessings and so forth. This may subject our reader to an endowment effect of sorts. It’s not just that she doesn’t have the priesthood now anymore, it’s not just current not having that’s at issue. Rather, this woman may now perceive that an ability to participate in certain ordinances — something she should have owned — has been taken away. And that result may make her less happy than if she were never given the coffee mug in the first place — even though she ends up at the same endpoint.

I’m honestly not sure whether this idea holds water. It requires a conception of the endowment effect that is broader than the literature I’m really familiar with — it requires an endowment effect that operates retroactively. This scenario isn’t the classic my-coffee-mug-versus-someone-else’s. It’s more like telling a student in the coffee mug experiment, “oh, by the way, we drew your name out of the hat for a coffee mug, so it was yours, technically — but then we decided we’d rather give it to Mike, and you were never told it was yours.” There’s no present ownership at question. Can an endowment effect exist anyway? I’m not sure. (Mike? Frank?)

To the extent that endowment effects require present ownership, then this idea probably fails. Our LDS woman has never enjoyed present possession of broader ecclesiastical roles. But to the extent that endowment effects can operate retroactively, our LDS woman may feel that something that was rightfully hers — something she should have owned — was taken away. And if she feels that her property has been taken away, then behavioral theory suggests that she will be less satisfied than if she had never gotten the property to begin with.

(Hmm — I wonder if this narrative actually plays out in the experience of Mormon feminists. An empirical study might be helpful. But are there any empiricists who know any Mormon feminists . . . ?)

35 comments for “Endowment Effects, Women, and the Priesthood

  1. July 13, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    Given some of the conversations I’ve seen (and even participated in) over at FMH I’d say you’re right on target. As for retroactive endowment effects I think we only have to look at the Palestinians and the Israelis. Israel hadn’t belonged to the Jews for about two thousand years at the point when it was given back to them. Yet not only did they desire to have it back, other nations agreed that they had a right to have it back. Then there’s the Palestinians who were displaced so that Israel could be re-created. Several generations of them have been born who have never actually been in Israel but who feel that because it once belonged to them it should belong to them now.

    There’s Tibet too. China took it because it was historically part of China. That it was no longer a part of China was both beside the point and exactly their point. “It was ours and it should be ours!”

  2. Frank McIntyre
    July 13, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    Kaimi,

    Interesting idea. As for can the effect take place, this research is about the nature of preferences, at which point just about anything goes. Some preferences are easier to deal with mathematically, but most things are allowable in some sense.

    So, given this effect, suppose it is real and that it is big (neither of which I know), would the optimal thing to do be to not bring up the early stuff– which is largely the approach of correlation?

    Yet another post by Kaimi justifying correlated material. :)

  3. Bored in Vernal
    July 13, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Just a personal opinion, I am absolutely IRATE (yes, I’m screaming) that women in the early Church had certain privileges and that they were taken away before I even came upon the scene. I would have loved to have been anointed for childbirth by the sisters. Before each birth, my husband gave me a blessing, but it just didn’t seem the same.

    Then again, I’m also perturbed that men who don’t hold the Melchizedek Priesthood used to be able to stand in the circle to bless their children, and have lost that privilege.

    Endowment effect? I’m not sure. I’ve never wanted the priesthood, but after realizing that women had certain (what I call) “priestesshood” rights, I have felt that these are my birthright and have been taken away. It fits with what you’ve described…

  4. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    July 13, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    I think one thing that is interesting is that there is a selective effect…some women want the “good ol’ days” of women’s participation in blessings, but wouldn’t want the polygamy that also was part of that era. Or the limits for women in society. Or the fact that husbands left on missions for three years. I’m always sad that sometimes we miss all that we DO have when we pine for days that are sometimes glorified more than I think perhaps they should be. Times were HARD back then, and there was a lot that probably wouldn’t be chosen today.

  5. queuno
    July 13, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    For me, the question is, are you heir to “the past”? Is it an issue of “ownership”? Is it a “birthright”? Just because someone else had something, was it “taken” away from you?

    I see a parallel to the slave reparation (“I want to be compensated for my ancestors suffering, even if it doesn’t directly affect me now”) claims — although, “I want to be given something that someone had a long time ago” is the reverse.

    Is it like social security, which my father receives, but I will likely never receive?

    I’m “Utah Mormon” by family history, but I was born a “Great Lakes” Mormon, then went to BYU (third generation), married a Utah Mormon, then moved to TGSOT. Can I claim “Utah Mormon” status, even though I was never born there?

    I don’t find the argument of “birthright” compelling in this case.

  6. s
    July 13, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    I think you raise an interesting question here, Kaimi.

    I wonder if rather than an “endowment effect” you have women recognizing that there is room in their religion for change when it comes to gender roles, priesthood, etc. For example, if the church had never allowed women to do anything even remotely close to priesthood ordinances, women would be less likely to see it as a possibility. But because we can see that things have changed, and we can also see other changes like that in the endowment ceremony a number of years ago, it makes many women wonder, “if these things have changed, could other things change that I’m not happy with?”

    I also wonder if you do have something a little closer to an endowment effect when you compare women’s positions in the church with the possibilities they have to wield power in the secular world. While there still is not gender equity, women are running businesses, running for office, etc. When they wield a certain kind of power in the secular world and then have that power “taken away” (though I do realize they never held it) when they are in church settings, it causes a disjunct. They think, “why can’t I do the same kinds of things in my religious community that I can in other settings?”

    Of course, this is speculation, and it’s coming from my own experience–my “endowment effect” has more to do with the disjunct between my church and non-church lives than it has to do with examinations of church history.

  7. July 13, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    Hm…I think kaimi, that you are fundamentally misconstruing the effects of charismatic authority and temple ordinances in all their common and esoteric forms. So, stripping your post of theology and looking at it from a strictly economics thing, sure, I’m sure some people are sad about not having similar access to activities as our progenitors.

  8. Costanza
    July 13, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    That is actually a very good point M&M.

  9. Mark Butler
    July 13, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    PDE (#11), There were virtually no Palestians displaced so the state of Israel could be created. The state of Israel was created under the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947 with the West Bank and the Gaza strip under Arab control, Jerusalem under international supervision, and the relatively narrow strip of land between the West Bank and the Mediterranean under Jewish control, plus a wider areas to the north and south.

    The Jews, by and large, were more than willing to accept the U.N. Partition plan, but the Arabs swore that it was unnacceptable, that Jewish control was per se illegitimate, and they were going to push them into the ocean or die trying. As Arab attacks accelerated, many of the Palestinian settlers became increasingly fearful of an all out war, and were invited by Syria among others to escape the war zone. That is how the vast majority of them left their homes in what is now Israel.

    Now, after Israel survived the Arab siege of Jerusalem (where the Jewish settlers nearly starved to death), and expanded their borders a little beyond those specified in the partition plan, they were perfectly willing to let the Palestians who had fled come back to their homes and be Israeli citizens, on one condition – the Arabs had to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Since the Arab’s were unwilling to do this, Israel refused to allow repossession of the lands. Now that strategy may be questioned, but I am sure Israel thought it was a question of national survival.

    In short, virtually no one was displaced to create the modern state of Israel, they left of their own accord to avoid being caught in the middle of a war that Israel did not instigate, and have not been allowed to return yet, because Israel places a greater value on not being utterly obliterated, a right to life that not even the Palestianians are willing to recognize.

  10. Mark Butler
    July 13, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    #1 I mean.

  11. Buckeye the Elder
    July 13, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    mark has the history of the formation of Israel dead-right. However, academic apologists of Palestinian terrorism, pro-Palestinian activists, and modern day supporters of Islamic terrorism like to pretend that the truth that mark wrote never happened. It si easier to demonist Israel, when you can call them ‘occupiers” etc. And repaeat the lie a thousand times, and the prevailing wisdon nowadays is that Israel just ran of thes peaceful palestinian arbs who were shephards playing their flutes in Judea and Samaria, when the evil, land-grabbing Sabra came and ran them out and robbed them of their land and their heritage.
    Sorrt for the thread-hijack.

  12. greenfrog
    July 13, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    I would have loved to have been anointed for childbirth by the sisters. Before each birth, my husband gave me a blessing, but it just didn’t seem the same.

    Perhaps too much of a derail from the basic question about human preferences, but why not ask sisters who love you to perform an anointing and prayer? We do lots of ceremonial actions outside the auspices of the priesthood, from singing Happy Birthday at parties to shaking hands/hugs and kisses at greetings and partings to cooking and serving a Thanksgiving meal.

    The anointing and prayer needn’t be done as a recognized ordinance under the authority of the priesthood, but simply as a ceremonial expression of love and caring from sisters and daughters of God invoking God’s care for the mother and child.

  13. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    July 13, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    12
    I don’t think that would be looked upon very favorably. Too close to sacred stuff w/o authorization.

  14. Ariel
    July 13, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Count me as one more woman who was disappointed when she found out that the “priestesshood” could/should have been hers, but it isn’t. I was absolutely happy about not having “the priesthood” until I found out that women of past generations had had it, and I pine for blessings at the hands of my sisters… I think your post is dead-on.

  15. Michael McBride
    July 13, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Let me do this in two comments…

    First, a clarification about behavioral economics and the endowment effect.

    Behavioral economics does much more than focus on the endowment effect. I think your 3rd paragraph may have unintentionally left the impression that that’s the primary focus.

    Regarding the endowment effect, let me state that (I think) it is better understood as one outcome of a more general process of happiness and self-assessments. When assessing their happiness with some outcome, an indivdiual compares her achievement with a reference point that potentially changes.

    The endowment effect is a special case where the reference point refers to the ownership. But reference points could also refer to social comparisons (did others have the cup?) and other factors.

    Back to your post, this suggests that a retroactive endowment effect could certainly work so long as the new information changes one’s reference point.

  16. Michael McBride
    July 13, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Second,

    I asked my wife is she is less happy because she learned of the privilleges women had in the past. She actually gave an answer opposite of your prediction. She said that learning about the past has, in her mind, increased the chances of change happening in the future. This has in turn increased her hope, and thereby increased her happiness.

    So, there appears to be at least one other effect that works against the mechanism you’re talking about. In the end it just might depend on the woman. But I like the idea you’ve brought up. I think it will help us to understand why some women are less happy once learning of certain changes in the Church.

  17. July 13, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    Count me as one more woman who was disappointed when she found out that the “priestesshood� could/should have been hers, but it isn’t. I was absolutely happy about not having “the priesthood� until I found out that women of past generations had had it,

    They didn’t have the priesthood.

    I know some people want to suggest Elder Oaks (and Joseph Fielding Smith) don’t know what they are talking about, but I am going to include this here again anyway because perhaps some have not at least been able to consider it.

    From Elder Oaks:
    President Smith explained: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, … that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. Authority and Priesthood are two different things. A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.â€? (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, p. 4.)….

    In considering the Prophet’s instructions to the first Relief Society, we should remember that in those earliest days in Church history more revelation was to come. Thus, when he spoke to the sisters about the appropriateness of their laying on hands to bless one another, the Prophet cautioned “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order—that the Church is not now organized in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.� (Minutes, 28 Apr. 1842, p. 36.) During the century that followed, as temples became accessible to most members, “proper order� required that these and other sacred practices be confined within those temples.
    (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Relief Society and the Church,� Ensign, May 1992, 34)

    Remember, women are performing saving ordinances all of the time, every day, all over the world in the temples. This isn’t priesthood, either, but it’s blessing the lives of women every day, in significant ways. And women are participating in the Lord’s work in significant ways at the local and general level — more so, in many ways, than they were back then.

    I think it’s just problematic to look back at isolated parts of history, which we don’t completely understand anyway, and get upset about it all. This sense of being “entitled” to something just never seems to work well in the mode of religious faith, and can just create (what I think is) unnecessary angst. Whenever I approach heaven with that kind of attitude, I’ve set myself up for disappointment. (I’m speaking from experience here!) It’s not that I don’t understand why “some women are less happy once learning of certain changes in the Church,” but doesn’t it seem sad to be happy one minute (as described in the post) and then to be unhappy once finding out something that we can’t fully understand anyway? Doesn’t that seem like a trap? I believe that the adversary will try to get us disaffected in whatever way he can. A sense of entitlement is one way he tries to get us. (Again, I am speaking from experience…not trying to speak in a spirit of criticism, but concern!)

  18. Frank McIntyre
    July 13, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    MM: “Whenever I approach heaven with that kind of attitude, I’ve set myself up for disappointment.”

    Indeed.

    J: “I think kaimi, that you are fundamentally misconstruing the effects of charismatic authority and temple ordinances in all their common and esoteric forms.”

    I am a little lost. Why does Kaimi’s question about endowment effects misconstrue authority and temple ordinances?

  19. July 14, 2006 at 12:07 am

    I’m confused when I hear that women used to have the priesthood and then it was taken away. I can find no evidence in Church history that women ever had the priesthood. They did perform some work that is usually assigned to the priesthood today but as the Church became fully organized that changed some. Many of the rituals (blessings?) which they practiced women could do today, just not as an official ordiance of the Church. I prayed over my children and often my prayers were answered in the affirmative even though I did not have priesthood power to annoint them. I have prayed with my sisters and we have seen miracles of healing etc. which seemed to be answers to these prayers. I don’t feel disenfranchised by the Church and personally, I don’t want the responsibilities the priesthood entails, I’m too busy trying to meet the responsibilities my position in life entails. I have sympathy for those of my sisters who feel disenfranchised but I sometimes wonder if this isn’t a big opening for Satan to get in to their lives (not saying they allow him in). We don’t need to be blind followers but neither do we need to question everything or insist that it fit with a world view that is outside the Church. Sometimes prayerful acceptance is the best route when we have questions.

  20. Silver
    July 14, 2006 at 1:49 am

    #18 and 19

    If women didn’t really have the priesthood, will you agree that Elijah Abel had it? I understand he did. I’m new here and don’t want to be seen as “threadjacking,” but the original post by Kaimi did at least mention it:

    “So here’s the serious question: Could some sort of retroactive endowment effect exist in the context of women-and- (or for that matter, Blacks-and- ) the priesthood?”

    If the world lasts long enough, I believe women will be given the priesthood, and the male will be dropped in “all worthy male members.”

    I noticed in some of the earlier posts (other subjects) writers were using “high councilman” which I would hazard 90% of LDS use when speaking. Some high councilors use it! If we’re going to get ourselves prepared for the coming day, better drop the “man.” You won’t even find a GA saying councilman.

  21. Téa
    July 14, 2006 at 1:58 am

    Could the retroactive endowment effect apply to the women’s suffrage movement?

    In the places where women’s suffrage was granted, then taken away (think New Jersey and Utah), I think there would be some difference between those who did vote and those who couldn’t. Would a woman who came of voting age in Utah between 1887 and 1895 react differently knowing that she belonged to a group whose rights were no longer the same than a woman who was unaware of previous suffrage? What about women in other states who couldn’t vote until the ratification of the 19th amendment?

    Kaimi, my own personal peace with not holding the priesthood is an integral part of my conversion story. For me the question is not how the lack of priesthood (or function) and the seemingly reduced role of women/Relief Society in our times affects me. If I believe that historical women’s authority and activities were conducted outside of priesthood office to begin with, I can still accept that I do not currently hold the priesthood and think favorably on a return to an enlarged sphere.

    I don’t think ignorance equals bliss–it’s up to the individual to sort out the devil’s dissonance from divine discontent.

  22. John Taber
    July 14, 2006 at 9:47 am

    “You won’t even find a GA saying councilman.”

    But you will find members using “councilperson” as if women could be councilors – or will be.

  23. Bored in Vernal
    July 14, 2006 at 9:50 am

    I would agree that women never held the priesthood. My perception is that they were given more autonomy in the things they were able to do as relating to womanhood. When Joseph Smith turned the key _to_ the RS he gave them authority to choose their own ways of blessing their fellow sisters. (choosing their own book clubs?) Now, however, the key is turned “in their behalf,” putting all of their activities under direct priesthood control. Everything we do in RS, enrichment meetings, midweek activities, how we choose to bless our sisters, is under direct priesthood control.

    Why not let women have the “priestess” authority to decide which activities are religiously appropriate? I know that it would not have chafed as much to be told not to pray to Heavenly Mother if the authority for making that decision had been left to the General RS and if the pronouncement had come from them.

    What bothers me is that we are told on one hand that we are to learn to be queens and priestesses. A model exists on how this worked at one time. Then there is a retrenchment that occurs taking away the powers we enjoyed over our own sisterhood.

    My personal model of priestesshood power does not include usurping any authority men hold in performing ordinances, becoming apostles, etc. Although it is true that women do perform ordinances in the temple for our fellow sisters. But I do feel anxious to regain control over our own activities, at least.

  24. Bored in Vernal
    July 14, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Oh, and #12 and 13…
    It would be nice to be able to do “sacred stuff” on my own without fearing reprisal because I don’t have “authorization.”

  25. July 14, 2006 at 11:51 am

    #9 Mark Butler: For the purposes of this discussion, how the Palestinians got displaced is not as important as the fact that they have and that generations who have never seen Palestine are still claiming it for their own.

  26. Hilkeem
    July 14, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    The crucial point you\’re missing is that women STILL have the ability to hold those priest-ess capabilities, but it is no longer necessary now that is an abundance of men. The fact is nothing has been taken away. (Stranded on a desert island, I have no doubt that I would be able to bless my child). The priesthood is the power of God on earth to *bless others*, that is the material point. If we are waging a war of –who\’s more righteous than who–a better marker is how much of the fullness of the Spirit someone has. When one is overflowing with this, then the technicality of how many blessings one has been called on to perform is moot.

  27. Kiskilili
    July 14, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    This is a very interesting question, Kaimi. My own interest in the topic of women and priesthood has almost nothing to do with past precedent (though I think past precedent is convenient ammunition in the feminist arsenal–okay, that metaphor might be more militant than I intend!). I think one reason for this is that my interest in the priesthood exists largely on the theoretical level. I’m not so interested personally in exercising the priesthood or being the beneficiary of females exercising the priesthood, but I suspect this is a matter of personality and individual situation and absolutely respect the valid concerns other women have about being able to administer blessings or receive blessings from women.

    My own concerns center more on what it means, theologically, to be female, and the possible implications an all-male priesthood has on this. Are women less trusted by God than men? Are women less capable? (I think we should coin a term for studying this–theological gynology, maybe, to parallel theological anthropology? Or, relying on Akkadian rather than Greek, theological sinnishtology? :))

    So if the kinds of opportunities available to nineteenth-century female members became open to us, this would not come close to satisfying my concerns, because, as others have said, women have never really held the priesthood.

  28. Jack
    July 15, 2006 at 10:45 am

    “Endowment effects women AND the priesthood.”

    Oooh yeah.

  29. Jack
    July 15, 2006 at 10:47 am

    I know it should be “affects” but still…

    Fun.

  30. July 15, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Bored in Vernal,
    Relief Society has always acted under the direction of priesthood authority.

    The next time he met with the Relief Society, Joseph Smith “exhorted the sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence in those whom God has appointed to honor, whom God has placed at the head to lead.� (Minutes, 28 Apr. 1842, p. 37.) This counsel, of course, furthered the direction in the earlier revelation on priesthood, which declared that all “authorities or offices in the church are appendages� to the Melchizedek Priesthood and that this priesthood “holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world.� (D&C 107:5, 8.) [This also applies to the men!] Consequently, the Relief Society and the auxiliaries organized later have always functioned and have thrived under the direction of the presiding authorities of the priesthood.
    Dallin H. Oaks, “The Relief Society and the Church,� Ensign, May 1992, 34

  31. Seth R.
    July 15, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    Asking the women here –

    if the Church gave you the Priesthood, what would you do with it? And how long would you keep it up?

  32. Beijing
    July 15, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Asking Seth here –

    if a woman told you she personally did not feel driven to obtain or exercise Priesthood,* even though she is still concerned about “women and the priesthood” issues, would you still ask her the question in #31? Would you still ask it in such a way as to imply that she wouldn’t know what to do with the Priesthood if she had it, or at least not for very long, and thus she ought to shut up and stop lusting unrighteously after your rightful Priesthood?

    *such as Kiskilili in #27 or such as I; now that I belong to a faith that allows female ministers, I could certainly go and become a minister, yet I have chosen and am choosing not to do so.

    Kaimi–I think the contrast between “the world” and “the church” on gender issues was enough to create a sort of “endowment effect” on me as to so many options and opportunities, well before I knew anything about the history of LDS women and the priesthood. In public schools I was told that I could do anything I wanted–as long as I put in the hard work, etc.–I could even be president! In Primary, the boys were told that they might be prophet someday! The girls were told that we might be the wife of the prophet. If I had only ever been told at school that someday I could be First Lady, I might not have felt there was anything lacking in the highest honor the Primary teacher offered the girls.

  33. Seth R.
    July 16, 2006 at 8:17 am

    OK Beijing,

    But realize that I feel the same way about the male Priesthood holders. Other than that, you are reading waay too much of your own paradigm into my question. It was actually an honestly asked question and wasn’t meant to imply anything really. Except to encourage a healthy awareness of our own nothingness. Which is something I always advocate, regardless of whom I’m talking to, or about.

  34. Beijing
    July 17, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Next time you remind us all of our nothingness, Seth R., try not to preface it with “Asking the women here” because that comes across as reminding only women–not men–of their nothingness. I’m glad to know that wasn’t your intent.

  35. Kaimi Wenger
    July 17, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    Beijing,

    That makes sense — that the comparison between church and non-church environments created a sense that something had been taken away, which is (mostly) what the endowment effect is. (I should stop here before Mike hits me with something and has to correct my misstatements about economics again).

    It’s interesting that you compare-and-contrast the church with the President of the United States. In theory, a woman can be President. Absolutely.

    In practice, there have been the same number of female Presidents of the United States as there have been female church Presidents.

    Kishkilili,

    “if the kinds of opportunities available to nineteenth-century female members became open to us, this would not come close to satisfying my concerns, because, as others have said, women have never really held the priesthood.”

    That makes a lot of sense. I’ve wondered how _much_ of different people’s ideas have been influenced by a sense that what was once there, has been lost. It doesn’t sound like your own views depend much on that idea.

    And other than that, I’m just nodding and pretending that I know what “theological sinnishtology” means. I’m also writing up a draft (two, actually, unfortunately) that I’ve got to get to a review editor(s) later this week. So I suppose if I’m feeling really bored, or adventurous, or sleep-deprived, I may try to work the term into a footnote somewhere. No one reads the footnotes anyway.

    Jack,

    I can’t _believe_ I missed that obvious pun. My skills have truly grown rusty as I’ve become fat and complacent in the land.

    Téa,

    Good question about suffrage — I’m not sure of the answer, but one would think the same sort of logic would apply.

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