Writing Hard Things, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to write “hard things.

This week I got the chance.

It’s an experience that’s still unfolding, but let me just say that I’m grateful to have the chance to contribute what I hope is something meaningful to the conversation. To be able to do so in the Grey Lady herself is truly a privilege.

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17 thoughts on “Writing Hard Things, Part II”

    1. Pretty dang cool. I admit I never thought the opportunity would look like what it turned into, it’s much bigger than I dared dream. With your help, encouragement and direction! Proper blog credit is coming on Friday.

  1. Oh wow, it’s you who wrote that!! 🙂 Caitlin from Broadside posted a link to it on Twitter yesterday and I clicked on it, intending to read it when I had more time. But I didn’t realize who the author was, until now.

    Congratulations! It’s a great article.

  2. Hi Cadence, do you remember me? We were in a BYU ward together one year, in the… service committee maybe? Well, somehow I found this blog a while back and I kept on reading because you’re words are as sharp as your wit. Congratulations on this publication! Well earned. And I certainly respect your search for truth, though it does sadden me that you no longer attend services. I am curious, what would have to change within the church for you to return? Is it primarily woman receiving the priesthood or are there smaller (or grander!) steps that you feel much must be taken?

    1. Hi Katie! Yes, of course I remember, and though I’m a dreadful commenter, I’ve followed your blog as well (you have adorable kids!). Thanks for reaching out and the kind words even though I know the news must seem less than welcome, and thank you very much for the deep question. I’ll try to do my best to answer in a short space, but feel free to email me to talk about it more whenever you’d like!

      Women’s ordination is a major issue for me, and it’s vastly important. But at its core I simply think Mormonism doesn’t have a good theology about women. There are massive doctrinal gaps about the female experience that I find troubling and (in their worst cultural manifestations, which unfortunately I got to witness working for BYU’s police department for five years, I find them outright damaging and wrong). Systems that preclude women from final decision making structures (to say nothing of access to the divine without mediums that are necessarily male) are fundamentally bad for women.

      Let me be clear. I think Mormonism values and admires women a great deal and the theology has a much, much more positive view on women (certainly in the 20th and 21st centuries) than many other denominations. But value and admiration are not the same thing as spiritual, administrative, temporal, financial, hierarchical, disciplinary, and etc. equality of ability and authority. Within the context of the LDS church, all of those are tied distinctly to priesthood which is tied distinctly to maleness. I do believe that there are some differences between men and women, but I have never in my life heard an argument that successfully justifies gender segregation – and most of the speculative “theology” out there boils down to ideas of “separate but equal.” Which is a phrase so fraught with dangerous precedent that I cringe every time I hear it used. From polygamy to strictly defined and culturally entrenched gender roles to rhetoric about modesty/chastity geared towards women, I find too much damage. Some people chalk this up to culture, but I find the problems of the culture rooted firmly in the doctrine, which in too many regards I cannot reconcile to my conscience. Ordaining women is absolutely a necessary step, in my opinion, but it does not solve cultural sexism, and it does not plug the doctrinal holes for me. Indeed, I recognize that it opens a great many more questions than it resolves, which is why I think some of the backlash against it has been so vitriolic and intense, but for a long time I hoped for dialog anyway. I’m afraid I eventually ran out of hope, after years of bad experiences and a lot of personal thought, and yes, prayer.

      This is of course, not the whole story of my personal experience, but gender issues have played a central role in my faith journey, which is why I write about it publicly. I’m not sure there is a solution because the church has drawn a line in the sand about doctrines over gender and have, I feel, painted themselves into a dark and messy corner. I am not sure the church is capable of changing on this issue, it has tied itself to ideas and practices about gender which society and science can and do refute. Which is hard for an organization that claims ongoing divine revelation, but that too has been part of my journey.

      In the end, I’m not embarrassed of or even necessarily conflicted about my Mormon life. I recognize and value the direction, peace, and good it brings into the lives of both my and my husband’s families. For a long time it was often a force for good in my own life, and frankly on the surface nothing about my day-to-day behavior has really changed. But my experience in it for 10 years now has been ugly to the point of eroding my faith in several of its claims and messages past the point of repair. Apart from anything else, the recent experience not just of Kate Kelly but of other Mormon feminists convinces me that there isn’t a place for people like me, despite Pres. Uchtdorf’s much needed beautiful words. I don’t entirely preclude the possibility theoretically, but I don’t expect to ever return to activity.

      1. Thank you, Cadence, for taking the time to respond so eloquently and thoughtfully to my question. I’ve been thinking about a lot of Things as a result and will probably email you once I’ve thought all my Thoughts. (do I email the address listed on the Work With Me page?)

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