Author: Julie M. Smith

Men, Women, and Modesty

1913

Imagine that every single talk you ever heard about missionary work was given by someone who had not served a mission or every single talk about fasting was from someone who (let’s say for health reasons) had never fasted. It is reasonable to suspect that our rhetoric about missionary work or fasting would, in these circumstances, sound very, very different. Currently, we define modesty as being (almost) solely applicable to females, and yet the discourse is (almost) entirely shaped by people who are not female. I think this has led us to several problems.

A Seven-Participle Pile Up in Mark 5

Mark’s writing style is characterized by parataxis, which means that he writes really short, simple sentences and then joins them together with the word “and.” (It’s the kind of thing your elementary school teachers were always trying to get you to stop doing.)

My Beef with Goals

According to the de facto Mormon liturgical calendar, it is the time of year to talk about goal-setting. Most Mormon discussions of goals make me want to poke myself in the eyeball with a fork–a reaction I initially did not understand, since I set goals for myself all of the time. But after thinking about it for a while, I figured out a few reasons why the standard Mormon discourse on goals and goal-setting aggravates me so much.

Stewardship

When I was in college, I took a Shakespeare class. The text was one of those huge editions of the complete works, with lots of notes further expanding its length.

“Cannot Change”

This announcement from the newsroom (related to ENDA and a statement from Harry Reid that “the church is changing” [ftnt1]) contains this sentence: “As such, traditional marriage is a foundational doctrine and cannot change.”

8 & Up

The Church has announced that starting in 2014, there will be a General Women’s Meeting twice per year, with women, young women, and girls ages 8 and up invited to attend.

Conference Announcement

The 2013 Conference of the European Mormon Studies Association, in cooperation with the Brigham Young University London Centre, will take place on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of December in London. 

Rereading A Prayer for Owen Meany

I never re-read books, but I decided to read this one, twenty-two years after I first read it, because “he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” That’s a quote from the first sentence of the book, but it is true, literally true, for me, too.  I feel somewhat guilty that this book triggered my conversion, because it is not G-rated; in fact, it is a little crass.  It isn’t sweet and it isn’t fluffy and it criticizes religion and miracles and believers just as much as it celebrates them. But I don’t think I read this book by accident. I have a vivid recollection of standing in the aisle of a used book store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with this book in my hands. I think someone knew I needed Owen Meany to save my life. Rereading it was scary; what if it was stupid this time? The thought gave me,…

Strands of Priesthood

Many discussions about women and the priesthood get muddled because they don’t pay attention to the fact that “priesthood” involves multiple doctrines and practices, with different rationales, functions, and histories.  I thought it might be helpful if I separated the strands of priesthood and thought about them separately.