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Nitsav

"When the Mormons claim that women relate to men and to God through men, they succeed in giving theological approbation to a widespread sociological reality."

As a Mormon, I question the claim that "the Mormons" assert this. I'm unaware of any formal or informal statements or folk theology asserting this.

JohnFH

Hello, Nitzav, whoever you are. I like your pen name. As a Mormon, you would do us non-Mormons a favor if you described in your own language what Mormons claim about women and authority and such.

Here is a site I like, though I imagine you don't:

www.feministmormonhousewives.org

I know that my brief characterization of the Mormon position requires qualification. Are you willing to qualify it after the manner of Maxine Hanks? What do you think about the Sonia Johnson case?

Nitsav

Actually, I browse and even comment on FMH from time to time.

I'm not familiar with whichever of Hanks specific claims you're referring to (though I have read some essays from her edited book), but following others (scroll down to response), I have serious doubts her claims are either accurate or representative.

As for Sonia Johnson, it was before my time. I find myself largely in agreement with Orson Scott Card's essay "Walking the Tightrope" which discusses her story to some extent.

But neither Hanks' nor Johnson's books or experiences establish the claim that Mormon women have access to God solely through men. "The Mormons" simply do not make this claim, and uniquely Mormon scripture explicitly refutes it, in my view.

Regardless of the group in question, it's not methodologically safe to make generalizations solely on the basis of the writings of the disaffected, as you may or may not be doing.

Nitsav

I believe that all men and women regardless of faith or denomination have direct access to God by prayer, and that accordingly God can speak directly to each individual.

From the Book of Mormon- "And now, [God] imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned. "

My pen name, as you may well guess, comes from two of my favorite passages- Psalm 82 and Isaiah 3:14.

Nice blog, btw :)

JohnFH

Nitsav, thanks for your helpful comments. What strong and wonderful images we find in Ps 82 and Isa 3:13-15! You clearly know your Bible well. I like your blog, too. If you had to name the top three Bible bloggers in Mormondom, who would they be?

The Mormon men and women I have known over the years have taught me much. Once upon a time, I spent a summer excavating in Syria with a team from BYU. Since I was practically the only non-Mormon on the team, they often forgot I was there, so to speak, and spoke unguardedly and often about Mormon things, their doubts as well as their faith.

Disaffection is not the word that describes what I heard. Quiet pain mixed with love and pride sums it up better.

Peter Kirk

Roast beef with white wine? I thought there was something wrong with the meal I was being served up on this blog. I appreciate the strong meat, perhaps even more than your wife's pasta stuff, but it needs the right drink with it. White wine? You might as well serve whey! Let's have a good full-bodied red to help us digest the meat.

JohnFH

Perhaps I've been moving in the red direction lately.

Iyov

John: you have a particular fascination with American fringe movements such as Mormonism or Unitarian Univeralism -- you mention them regularly. I don't recall you posting much on Islam, Greco-Roman beliefs, or religions from outside the Ancient Near East (Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, aboriginal religions, etc.)

The history of Mormonism in 19th century America is interesting (full of colorful, complex characters, particularly Smith and Young, and many dramatic and bloody episodes) and it is of course central to understanding the growth of the American West from Illinois to California -- and especially in the Utah Territory.

However, I have never considered the claims of Book of Mormon's theories about the Ancient Near East or the aboriginal peoples of the Americas seriously. (In contrast, for example, non-Christians can learn about Second Temple Judaism and the Greco-Roman world from the Christian Scriptures and early Christian writers; the Hebrew Scriptures, even to biblical minimalist, have a great deal of information about Ancient Near Eastern culture.) Thus, I am afraid I have little knowledge or sympathy to Mormonism outside of its historical role in the 19th century.

Do you think I am shortsighted in this? Given that I have only a small number of orbits about the sun, would my time be better spent learning more about Mormonism than about, for example, Islam or Buddhism?

JohnFH

Iyov,

I've just been saving up my Buddhist and Bahai posts for the right opportunity.

I'm a curious George by nature, but it's the intersection of people, ideas, and their experience of God (however understood) that has always intrigued me the most. When I'm on good terms with someone from another faith tradition, I eventually ask them to give me lessons in their faith, Thus I have been catechized, if only briefly, in a dozen different traditions. It's fun to watch a Muslim or a Buddhist trip over the same questions we all do. The result is that I go back to trying to make sense of my own faith tradition with a little more humility.

Jenelle

I have a couple of thoughts, John.


1. I think you could write a whole series on what you said here:

Ultimately, interpretation is a listening process. If you are not a good listener, what makes you think you will be a good interpreter of the Bible?

Simple truths. I like those.

2. I'm glad someone else already questioned the white wine choice.

3. I'd agree that a treatment of Islam's perspective here would be phenomenally relevant. Maybe you could have a few continuations of this post?

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