Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How Julie Beck Introduced Me To Blogging

It was April 2, 2006 and I was listening to General Conference. Julie B. Beck, first counselor in the YW General Presidency was the token female speaker. She gave a talk titled An Outpouring of Blessings. It was the first I'd ever heard her speak. As I listened, I began to crawl out of my skin with frustration. Julie's thesis statement was that "through the blessings of the priesthood, we are all given equal partnership, gifts, and blessings." She developed this idea by saying that all faithful members are equally blessed by the priesthood. All babies, whether male or female, can be given a name and a blessing. Girls and boys both can be baptized. Women and men alike partake of the sacrament, receive priesthood blessings, patriarchal blessings, and the higher blessings of temple endowments. She went on and on in this vein and concluded that "through the infinite fairness and love of God, all men and women were given equal partnership, gifts, blessings, and potential."

What she carefully stepped around and never mentioned, was that MEN ARE THE ONES GIVING THESE PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGS. WOMEN ARE PROHIBITED FROM HOLDING THE PRIESTHOOD. What was with all the "equality" talk??

I continued to stew all that day and the next. I had to talk to someone about my feelings, but I knew no one in my Vernal ward would have the least clue of why the talk might be upsetting. I was aware that blogs and chat rooms and internet groups were out there, but I didn't know if I could find anyone discussing this particular subject. I googled around for a while but all I could discover was a small thread on Dave's Mormon Inquiry about the Priesthood Session. Not knowing what a threadjack was, I made my first ever comment. Bored in Vernal was born.

OK, a little embarrassing, it wasn't exactly the greatest place to find someone with whom to commiserate. (I never did find anyone to discuss that particular talk with me!) But I just thought all my readers would be interested to know that you have Julie Beck to thank for my presence here exactly two years and many posts and comments later!


Anonymous said...

Do you refer to the other speakers at that session as Gordon and Tom and Boyd?

ZD Eve said...

I had similar disagreements with that talk, BinV. In fact, there was more in that talk that I found disturbing than in the famous "Mothers Who Know" of last conference.

The line I found the most difficult to parse charitably was,

"Men and women have equal opportunities to make covenants."

Including the oath and covenant of the priesthood? Somehow I suspect not.

ECS said...

Happy anniversary, BiV! Glad you're here.

Can't wait to hear what's in store at this April's G.C. :)

Tom D said...

Re: anonymous
I don't know about BiV, but I know that I occasionally drop the middle initials from their names without any sort of mental problem. Besides, if you're worried about respect, think for a moment what we call the most respected Prophet of the Latter-days: Brother Joseph. First names can be a sign of the familiarity we all should strive for.

Mormon Heretic said...

BiV, I'd be curious to find out if other women share your view about women holding the priesthood. I know that my wife likes things the way they are, and has said on more than one occasion that she's glad she doesn't hold the priesthood.

I'm getting to be a little more liberal on the subject, though admittedly, it is not as vexing to me as it is to you. I have studied some about the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the "Apostle of the Apostles", and do feel that women could take a more active role in teaching in church.

I had a bit of a threadjack on my blog. Originally we were talking about Blacks and the priesthood but it did lead to a short conversation about women and the priesthood.

If you were to guess, what percent of mormon women hold the same opinion as you on this subject?

Eve, I do believe that women do hold the priesthood in the temple ceremony. Now this isn't the same as the "day to day" priesthood that men hold....

Bored in Vernal said...

MH, I often point out my frustration with the inequality in the Church, so perhaps it's not surprising that most readers leap to the conclusion that I believe women should hold the priesthood. Those who know me well, however, know that I do not advocate women being ordained to the priesthood. In fact, I believe that women already hold a "priestesshood" (see temple) which has not yet been fully recognized or defined. I believe more work needs to be done along these lines.

I would say the vast majority of the women in the Church believe as your wife. Perhaps one reason is that they see holding the Priesthood as adding to their work load! The Priestesshood I envision would not encroach upon Priesthood, but complement it, make use of women's powers and strengths, and give us the opportunity to act in the name of God(dess). I would also like to see the women's auxiliaries (RS, YW and maybe Primary) removed from male hierarchy. For example, why does a RS President report to and seek authorization from the Bishop, and not the Stake RS President?

Having said this, I certainly do not see these changes coming along any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Tom D, it isn't the lack of intial. BiV referred to "Julie's thesis statement" and I wondered if she would refer to "Tom's funny story" in the same casual way.

Bored in Vernal said...

I dunno...Tom's stories aren't all that funny to me.

amelia said...

Anon, BiV is participating in a much larger cultural trend (not a mormon one; an american one at the very least and perhaps a much larger one than that) of referring to women by their first name when, in the same circumstances, a man would be referred to by last name. think of the current democratic primary. it's "obama" and "hillary." almost always. sure, one could argue that it's "hillary" not "clinton" because "clinton" would cause confusion between hillary and bill. but that doesn't fly with me. it's part of an unfortunate language pattern that, i believe, demeans women. my problem with it has less to do with respect for this particular individual and more to do with the cultural practice.

that said, BiV is likely also participating in a cultural trend of diminishing the authority of someone with whom she disagrees by referring to them by a diminutive form of their name, rather than the conventionally respectful one. not saying that she's doing these things consciously; we all do them regularly without thinking about it because those trends and conventions are that powerful.

Bored in Vernal said...

...maybe I'll just lie here on the couch a bit longer...

Paula said...

As for the Obama/Hillary thing-- hasn't her campaign exacerbated it by using her first name only on bumper stickers, ect.? I understand what you're saying Amelia, but in the case of Clinton, I think it's not quite applicable.

Michemily said...

I've seen a ton of stuff about that talk online. Look again, there were over 500 comments about it at one site I looked at.

Bored in Vernal said...

just looked--there is this at Exponent blog with 34 comments.

That's about all I can find in a critical vein. It's EmilyCC being mostly positive while giving a lesson in RS on this talk.

Has anyone seen any other discussions of this talk online?

Loyd said...


I remember listening to this talk in my buddy's car as we were driving home from Vegas to see Nine Inch Nails. I about gagged on my cheetos. I subsequently wrote my thoughts a few days later here.

On a side note, I've found myself for some reason referring to 'Tom Monson' lately with my friends. I kinda like it.

PeriginatioAnimae said...

We all know that Men are more blessed by God. You know it, I know it, and apparently Julie knows it. Just a fact of life. It's a man's world.

Naismith said...

I was sitting in the conference center for that talk, and it was a positive experience for me. I was very impressed with her poise and the assured way she was bantering with the other GAs before stepping "onstage."

I don't have a problem with the talk. I thought it was inspired. But that's just me.

And of course the reason we have so many different speakers in the course of two days is so that maybe there is another one who will resonate with you.

MormonZero said...

Hi, I have never posted here but I wanted to chime in and I hope no one minds. This topic really fascinates me.

I personally believe that whether here or in the life hereafter the men will play a greater role in the creative processes, as HF with the Earth etc. and the women a greater role in priesthood functionality. That said I kind of look at all these "hoods" in a sui generis way.

IMO, the culminating "hood" in the world or lesser law is, depending on gender/sex, motherhood and fatherhood. However, when done by covenant and ordinance the woman and man can come together into the Priesthood with motherhood and fatherhood being subsets of the higher "hood" or law. The manifestation of priesthood power in women is by bearing children and for men by presiding. The idea of eternal marriage is that the two become "one." I see the COVENANTS of the priesthood as being the binding agent of man and woman (two halves made one) that makes them one whole. I am not denying a woman's natural ability to bear children and enter motherhood and also a man's ability to be a provider, protector, or whatever and enter fatherhood BUT when the two "hoods" (motherhood and fatherhood) come together through ordinances and covenants you get the priesthood, both man and woman.

I know this brings up some questions on how this would relate to the Aaronic priesthood and maybe even questions because i am in a hurry and not explaining very well. but this thought came to me while reading Isaiah and the reference to a "prophetess." Maybe this gives everybody some food for thought and if I get a chance after watching American Idol I will stop by and finish explaining or theory, I guess you can call it that.

Mormon Heretic said...

BiV, you asked, "why does a RS President report to and seek authorization from the Bishop, and not the Stake RS President? "

My understanding of church correlation was that before David O McKay, things often functioned as you would have liked things. However, he became concerned that there wasn't a standardized message, so therefore correlation came about. If things changed as you suggest, perhaps things would return to pre-Mckay era church.

Personally, I would prefer that the church did decentralize some things, but it does run the risk of the church not being of "one mind." And who would the stake RS president report to? The stake pres, or a female GA? And who would she report to? Somewhere, it's got to return to a male. Even Joseph Smith was not so progressive as to call Emma his prophetess... (Of course, this could be avoided if the church would allow a female prophet, say along the lines of Mary Magdelene....)

Bored in Vernal said...

Narrator, thanks for the link. That was a great thread. It looks like you would have been better off if you had called her Julie, too.

Bored in Vernal said...

Mormon heretic,
You said, "And who would the stake RS president report to? The stake pres, or a female GA? And who would she report to? Somewhere, it's got to return to a male."

The stake RS president reports to the general RS board, who reports to the general RS President. Why would it eventually have to return to a male? Can't the buck stop at the General RS President? We have a woman President in place. She makes the final decision. Period.

(And yes, I recognize the supreme irony that this figure happens to be Julie Beck!)

Bored in Vernal said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I've thought quite a bit along these lines, "The manifestation of priesthood power in women is by bearing children and for men by presiding." It's a very appealing view. However, I just can't reconcile this with the fact that every woman can bear children, member or not, righteous or not. We learn that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. When men are presiding or performing ordinances, their ability to do so is enhanced when they exercise the principles of righteousness and make use of the Holy Spirit. The priesthood is not given to/taken away from those who are not worthy. Childbirth does not fit into this equation.

One must also remember that men participate in the creation and raising of children through fatherhood.

Fatherhood -> Motherhood
Brotherhood -> Sisterhood
Priesthood -> Priestesshood

Whether Priestesshood includes the bearing of children is questionable.

Bored in Vernal said...

Going to Conference is always a high for me, too. You are correct in pointing out that there will always be some talks that are more apropos or personally appealing to different people.

What did you find inspirational about this talk? Did it convince you that since we partake of ordinances in the same way that men do, women are "equal" to men? Do you agree with her that two women being able to sit in the temple together "equalizes" the disparity in their economic situations?

Confutus said...

You said, about Julie Beck:

What she carefully stepped around and never mentioned, was that MEN ARE THE ONES GIVING THESE PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGS. WOMEN ARE PROHIBITED FROM HOLDING THE PRIESTHOOD. What was with all the "equality" talk??

It may be that she has a different view of the priesthood, or a different view of "equality".
Perhaps she belives that she has sufficient gifts and callings as a woman and doesn't covet those of the priesthood as well.
Perhaps she doesn't believe that she or any other woman needs to hold the priesthood to be equal to any man.

Have you considered the possibility that it's not the men who are giving these blessings at all? All men can do of themselves is administer the forms. Men are only, at best, acting as God's agents in administering the ordinances and other affairs of the church. They have no power of their own to heal, or bless, or prophesy, or discern, or do anything spiritual at all. The priesthood does not give them the Right to Command and Control According to Their Own Pleasure.

I can't help but think that complaints about the injustice of women not being permitted to hold the priesthood should properly be directed to God. If one dares. If President Monson could make independent decisions about it, it would be another manmade priesthood and worthless anyway. Sister Beck has no say in the matter, and it seems really unfair to make her the target of ire.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I can relate to your motivation for starting to blog. I've gotten frustrated by the lack of faithful Latter-day Saints who are willing to have frank discussions about certain aspects of Mormonism, to the point that it started to boil over for me. I think that blogging has become the outlet that I've needed and the Bloggernacle community is full of curious souls like myself. I've enjoyed what I've read on your blog so far and hope you'll stop by mine sometime.

And just for the record, I have a hard time relating to Beck's talks as well. It's all great for those who are able to mold themselves into the traditional LDS woman, and I'm by no means bashing them, but those who don't/can't/won't fit into the mold can be left wanting more.

Naismith said...

"What did you find inspirational about this talk? "

For me, there were two things: First, the "duct tape" nature of the priesthood. You know, that old saying that duct tape is like the force, it has a light side and dark side and keeps the universe together. Her talk made me appreciate that priesthood blesses all of us.

I also think her talk stressed males as being mere conduits for that power. I don't see how a young man could walk away thinking he was any better than his sister, just because he happens to hold the priesthood.

MormonZero said...


I agree with you completely. The distinction of my thought(s) is that there is a certain order to all things and in this world there are "bodies celestial, terrestial, and telestial." (sorry going off of memory here)

Priesthood = Eternal "Oneness" of Man & Woman; motherhood & fatherhood, brotherhood & sisterhood etc. (or in other word, FAMILIES.) No longer is there a simple distinction between the two; like two puzzle pieces coming together. This does not rid us of motherhood and fatherhood but rather makes m&f a subset of the priesthood or highest order. Similar to the way temple ordinances and covenants do not erase baptismal ordinances and covenants. When a man receives the priesthood, I don't see it as him "HAVING" the priesthood but rather being given the RESPONSIBILITY to preside within said order. Thus, I see the restoration of the gospel as not being complete. I believe that women are destined to be given "Priesthood Responsibility" to preside within certain limits of jurisdiction but to not directly preside (at least not while man and woman are confined to a telestial earthly life); similiar in fashion to what should be men's current role in the creation of human life; not direct (i.e. being pregnant) but still is part of the creation process and should help raise the child side by side with the mother. This would fall under a "Celestial Order." (All that said I also think the roles of men and women, especially in the life hereafter, will be less relevent as TRUE oneness continues to increase)

Possibly, Motherhood and Fatherhood would then fall under a "Terrestrial Order."
A simple brotherhood and sisterhood concept would fall under "Telestial Order."

Priesthood to me is an Order or Law by which people live. Thus, simply said, each person is claimed by the law by which they live. (Alma 13, Abraham 3, D+C 88:19-42, Facsimile 2), Furthermore, every person (mormon or non-mormon) is essentially governed by this law whether they know it or not; all living the law at various degrees of directness and rigidness. Thus, a woman can use her ability to have children under the confines or degree of priesthood law by which she has chosen or has been presented with, even without direct knowledge of the Holy Order; whether Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial. Same goes for a man to act under the law by which he lives.

For whatever reason we currently live in a world where men preside, which sometimes sounds glamorous but it truly is not.

In fact, I would be quite interested to see how the church populace would take it if women were allowed to receive the priesthood. Even if men are truly meant to preside I don't see why women could'nt receive and exercise the priesthood in similar capacity (as explained above) to that of a typical elder who is just a hometeacher.

I personally don't see Priesthood as gender specific though. I think that this is apparent by scriptures about prophetesses and such. (This also is apparent when factoring in my opinion that fatherhood and motherhood are both governed by this Priesthood law) I also believe that there is evidence about women having and/or using the priesthood--especially when you step into realms that go beyond that of canonized scripture.

Sorry for the lengthy post and this whole thing is probably somewhat off topic.

Mormon Heretic said...


While I agree with your line of logic, all the way up to having the Gen RS president in charge of all the women of the church, just who called Julie Beck? It was the man Gordon B Hinckley. Are you saying that Julie should choose her own successor?

What happens when Julie (or her successor) starts decrying that she is pro-abortion, or pro-women getting the priesthood, or pro-same-sex marriage? There's going to be a "correlation" problem. That's why I'm saying that it must always return to the man prophet. Now, the way out of this conundrum is to start allowing women to hold the Melchizedek priesthood. Of course, if the RS president reported to a woman prophet (prophetess), I am guessing that you wouldn't have a problem with this, but you say you're against that, so I'm a little confused where you're drawing the line.

Please understand, I'm sympathetic to your view, but I'm just trying to state what an "orthodox" person would say, and why he/she would find your proposal unsettling.

everyday joe said...

It's too bad that comments aren't numbered so I can just refer to specific comments.

BiV, I would like to go back to your question, "Why does a RS President report to and seek authorization from the Bishop, and not the Stake RS President?"

It seems to me that the primary function of a RS president is a personal ministry to members of the ward, particularly with regard to their spiritual and temporal welfare. That is also the function of the bishop. So it is natural that they council together in that regard (what you have called "report to"). In addition, the bishop is aware of personal needs and has personal information about individuals that the stake president is not aware of. In my view, the stake president (and the stake RS president) both have more of an administrative role (especially training) rather than a ministry. It's just too hard to minister well to 2000 or 3000 people, or even to the percentage of stake members who are currently dealing with a personal crisis.

On the more general subject of the priesthood, I don't think the role of function of the priesthood is as well understood as it could be. (Elder Oaks gave a good talk on the subject in the Oct 2005 general conference.)

Taxonomic pairs (fatherhood, motherhood; brotherhood, sisterhood) are sometimes misleading, particularly when they give an impression of opposition. And I wouldn't necessarily equate biological motherhood (or fatherhood) with real or functional motherhood or fatherhood.

It is interesting to me that the qualities to govern priesthood influence (D&C 121:41-43) are the qualities that I would associate with true nurturing, with functional fatherhood or functional motherhood.

Anonymous said...

I look at it this way, HF made the female to have innately a sense of spirituality and intuition, compassion, charitable - a connectedness to others, especially her children. Men on the other hand, because of their role to play, were made to be more compartmentalized, removed a tad more from their emotions (because of their innate nature to fix, provide, hunt, etc) and it is through their use of the priesthood that the Father is able to tap into that power that is apart of our (female) condition. I dont need it. I like my "part". I have enough responsibility and know through my temple covenants that I am equal. I am not repressed, held back, and certainly feel the partner. I am perplexed at how some women within the church feel inferior because they dont have the priesthood.

brooke said...

i'm glad you started blogging - you and john dehlin, and a bunch of others. it's people like you - and john dehlin - that have helped me to find some peace within this church. i do belong here. so - i'm glad that julie beck got you all riled up - and while i know it was difficult to be bored in vernal, it was a benefit to me that you were.


btw. if you were BiL (L = Logan) and in my ward you'd have someone to talk with for hours about all this :)

brooke said...

PS. On the whole women and the priesthood - I think its simply whacky that women can't hold the PH. I think its whacky to assume that every woman will be married and thus bring the priesthood into their home (I'm 35 & single), and - as BiV has already said - there are women who simply can't have children.

And then there's the whole gender dichotomy / binary thing. Expression and living of gender is not simply binary. So what about those folks who fall out of the strict binary definitions. Do they get the priesthood? Or ?

Lastly - and I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way - I've met men who simply should not have the priesthood. They are about as evolved as a rock. I've met plenty of women who are far more connected to God than many men I know, and yet they are denied the ability to be able to carry out sacred acts that they would be very gifted at carrying out.

As much as I love this church, this is one area that digs at me. I get around this by going to men within the church that know me, love me, and that I believe have the ability to bring the blessings of the priesthood to me effectively. I don't meet with my bishop or ever meet with both of my home teachers. I meet with one - who is one of my dearest friends - because I trust in his priesthood abilities. My bishop has only disappointed me.

MormonZero said...

My opinion is that all things are done by and through the power and law of the priesthood. Whether it is a planet orbiting the sun or creation of a baby.

It does not solve the answer of equality in the Priesthood. Maybe it is that men needed to preside in order to match the influence that women naturally carry over the rising generation thanks largely to their strong role in creating human life. Look at Roman history for example. The men ruled but to say the women had no role would be over presumptuous.

By no means am I trying to say that women having babies is equivalent to men presiding. That does not match my view of what the priesthood is and how it works.

Anonymous said...

My sympathies are with Sister Beck. A good woman who gave a good talk does not deserve all the crap 'some' women are giving her. Get a life. Or figure out the one you have. Why can't you just know that the church and the gospel are true and correct instead of trying to make trouble out of every little thing. A little faith would go a long way.

Zillah said...

It's true that women had a lot of influence in Roman history. I don't think that they exerted influence in quite the way that Mormon leaders (or the judicial system) would encourage women to exert influence today...well, maybe some misguided priesthood holders and rs presidents would jive with lucretia.

as for the last anonymous comment, questioning and exploring and trying to figure things out does not equate a lack of faith. faith does not equate a lack of thought and immediate understanding and agreement. however, comments such as "Why can't you just know that the church and the gospel are true and correct" imply a lack of thoughtful experience on your part (forgive my assumption; i recognize that i don't know you, but i'm making a textual analysis). a good woman who wrote a good post doesn't deserve that kind of crap.

Bored in Vernal said...

Thanks, Zillah. I didn't quite know how to respond to Anon. My blogging is the way I am trying to figure out my life. And the funny thing is, I do know that the Church and the gospel are true and correct. I don't understand how anyone who really reads me doesn't catch on to that. But life (and the gospel) are not as simplistic as some might wish them to be. Many members deal with cognitive dissonance by ignoring it and pretending it doesn't exist. That's just not my way.

Anonymous said...

Men are paternal, and Women are maternal. Men hold the powers of priesthood, Women hold the powers of motherhood. Men and Women, together, hold the necessary, different, and equal powers to rear a child properly in the eyes of God. We are sent to this earth to practice procreation under the right circumstances (a temple marriage) and to guide our children back to our heavenly father.