It is my nature to be cynical and critical and to focus on flaws, so when I tell you that the General Women’s Meeting was nearly perfect, that’s really saying something.
In no particular order, what I liked:
1. Those incredible Korean Primary children, singing in Korean and looking completely adorable.
2. The anonymous women and young women testifying about the temple, in their own languages. This was very moving.
3. Sister Marriott–her accent, her list of women’s roles that included leader and wage-earner along with mother, her frank discussion of her own weaknesses being shown to her and knowing that she could apply the atonement to her life to overcome them, her excellent inclusion of girls and young women in her talk without talking down to them. Also examples of other girls and young women as models to those older than they are–including Alaskan girls inspiring her to memorize The Living Christ. (She couldn’t join in the recitation at girls’ camp because she hadn’t paid the price.)
[Side note: if you want to know what’s wrong with the “women are naturally more spiritual” rhetoric, just listen to Sister Marriott talk about her struggles with recognizing and overcoming pride and applying the atonement. That rhetoric denies the necessity, reality, power, and transformative nature of her experience.]
4. The opening prayer by Dorah Mkhabela, in her lovely accent.
5. President Burton–reference to her “cute husband,” powerful talk about temple covenants.
6. The “voice over” at the beginning being a female voice.
7. Sister Stevens–her parents’ unusual marriage can be, I think, a solace to others with difficult situations. And references to 8 and 13 yo girls doing family history and temple work.
8. President Uchtdorf: “a daughter of eternal parents” “Your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance.” Love this! “Thrones, kingdoms, principalities.” Kindness and humor but serious teachings. Blessings aren’t locked in a cloud, but rain down. Sin is our umbrella; commandments are instructions for closing the umbrella–commandments are not just life hacks or motivational quotes from Pinterest! The “why” of visiting teaching. No check-lists. One thing I hope you know: you are dear to your Heavenly Parents. God loves you now, not waiting until you overcome your weaknesses and bad habits.
A general note: I worried that the inclusion of 8+ girls would result in talking fluff. That didn’t happen. There were stunning examples of treating the girls as actual disciples who could influence those around them to be better disciples, now.
I know there are a lot of women out there who feel wounded by recent gender drama in the church and may not have listened to this meeting to avoid having their scabs ripped off. But, please, listen to it. It was a lovely presentation of the gospel, far more reflective of the international church and of women in a variety of realistic roles instead of stereotypes, and focused on real, actual discipleship and not the maintenance and performance of mid-twentieth century, middle class American gender roles. When it comes to the church, I continue to believe, and I think this meeting demonstrated, that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward equality.
Note: notes and quotes are my own and may not be precisely correct.