This new blog is the brightest star on the Mohorizon for 2008:
BNJeans describes herself as a "lifelong member and former YW, now a Laurels teacher, parent, part-time college professor, and all-around busy gal." Her new calling in the Young Women's organization has prompted her to start the blog "Beginnings New." Jeans is a feminist who was unable to find any substantive YW ideas on line. The offerings out there are primarily "cutesy" ideas, crafts, quotes, and clip art. With the arrival of this new blog, YW leaders have something more.
When Jeans first broached the idea of a blog with more substance directed toward YW leaders, it was met mostly with enthusiasm at FMH. However, there was at least one vote of caution about what she hoped to accomplish. Silver Rain wrote about this on her blog post "A Plague of Agendas". Here she expressed her concern that YW leaders should not push their feminist agendas in church classes. "Is nowhere safe?" SR laments. "What will I do if I find my daughter isn't being taught the gospel in Church?" After a thorough perusal of the new blog, I don't think she has anything to worry about. I was sincerely impressed by the post What's in Your Church Bag? Jeans speaks of negotiating how to teach from the prescribed materials while being authentic, real, and relevant. In her "Church bag" she brings her testimony, scriptures, and love and unconditional acceptance. She leaves behind her political affiliations, confessions (ha! one of my bug-a-boos!), higher biblical criticism (not the place), personal angst (must you whine about how hard it was to prepare the lesson?) and demons from her own YW experience.
On the sidebar, the purpose of the blog is clearly stated.
My goal is to provide a lively and practical online place for YW leaders to talk about everything related to their calling to minister to the young women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... This is not the place for clip art or sappy poems. It's also not the place to merely complain about the program or about specific leaders, or the materials and manuals. While possibly cathartic, that can't be very helpful. I think we can help one another as leaders without throwing the manuals out in disgust. Yes, they are outdated. Yes, my own YW leaders taught out of the same ones in the 1980s. Total redesign of the manuals or overhaul of the program is not within my stewardship or my power. I'm looking for ways to inspire, challenge, nurture and transform the young women in my care to greater discipleship, and I'm confident there are lots of people out there who can participate in that project.
I found many things to enjoy over at Beginnings New. There are plenty of lesson ideas. Jeans hopes that as more people visit the blog, these will turn into discussions on how to adapt lessons to different wards, different age groups, and different needs. In one of these lesson discussions on health she mentioned considerations for girls who were vegetarians. I was thrilled to see this. One of my daughters decided to go vegetarian at the age of 16 (not due to the influence of DH or myself, rabid McDonalds and Pizza Hut frequenters). This was a considered and thoughtful decision on her part. At Church, she got no guidance beyond the advice that "eating meat sparingly" meant she was a sinner if she decided not to eat meat at all. It's good to see a YW blog that treats the girls as if they have intelligence of their own, and are able to understand complex issues.
I'm also excited to see that she has also included posts on issues of importance to YW. There is a post dealing with the pregnancy of Jamie Lyn Spears, Britney's younger sister and popular actress on the Nickelodeon show "Zoe 101." This is something my 14-year-old is talking about with her friends.
To all who are interested in YW issues, I encourage you to visit this blog and add your input.
**Revised 1/3: Just visited Beginnings New and read the new post on "God the Father"--this blog is going to be great fun even if you're not involved with YW at all!! Also I forgot to mention the cool webcrawl on the sidebar. Example: "no dating before 16? In S. Africa, no kissing either."