29 November 2016

10 Things I've Learned Recently About Being a Woman



1.

It feels down right healing to see lots of men, women and even children standing up for women in light of so much blatant degradation. I notice it, I feel it in my core, I am comforted by it as a woman, and I thank you all!


2.

I recently got to experience a massage technique called Mayan Abdominal Therapy. (A woman from our blog community was so generous to offer a treatment.) It's great for connecting with your body and it actually helps to correctly position your organs, which affects blood flow and lymph flow. (What?! Your organs can be repositioned?) Yes. And the whole thing was so fascinating - it was like nothing I'd ever experienced! I could feel the effects of it for days after. This certified practitioner I know is from San Diego and if you'd like her info., let me know (she is amazing and one of my favorite women.) Otherwise, see if there's a practitioner in your area. I highly, highly recommend this for all women.


3.

Mascara mystery solved: I have "hooded eyelids" and that's why my mascara usually doesn't stay on very well (as my lashes touch my skin.) Who knew that there was a name for this. Oh, what you learn from Google.



4.

I've thought more and more about Heavenly Mother over the last few years - something near non-existent in my upbringing and church experience. My friend, Rachel, is a scholar and once boldly spoke at a church women's event about some extensive research she did on the topic of Heavenly Mother. Her research felt trailblazing as it's a topic hardly spoken of - usually in hushed voices, with no elaboration, let alone celebration. I love the idea of a divine, feminine source - and the practice of openly aligning with that power. I'm thankful for the other women in my life who have claimed this relationship with the feminine divine and showed me the way. How about you? Do you feel a connection with a divine feminine source? What does that look like?

5. 

With a one-piece bathing suit on, when you go pee, you can just pull the suit to the side. haha. Say what?!? Never ever once thought of doing this. And then a bunch of women I know said they do that all the time. I guess it's never too late to learn something new. Is this news to you, too? Please tell me I'm not the only one.  :)

6.

This book with a shocking name is actually one all women should read ASAP. This interview with the author will convince you. The book is called Pussy: A ReclamationVery fitting for these times. Don't be scared! :) This book is sooo good and uplifting for women. It's about learning to be radiant and free and giving more honor to your feminine, despite a world culture that devalues women. I can't recommend this book enough.




7.

Sitting in a patriarchal church meeting where only men preside and claim to have authority over me - and where men are celebrated nearly 100% of the time feels increasingly more uncomfortable to me as a woman. It no longer fits in with the way I view women in this universe. I'd love to hear what that experience is like for you. Have you experienced any shifts lately? Sending love for anyone who has...as I know it can really rock your core. Though, to me, it's liberating to see the inequality - because seeing it opens up completely glorious possibilities - ones that you would not trade for anything.


8.

Pantsuit Nation remains a beating heart in America right now. It's a "secret" Facebook group with nearly 4 million people. You really just have to witness this and see the floods of American stories, mostly from women. Let me know if you'd like an invite.


9.

There's a Facebook gem called Aspiring Mormon Women and it's for women in the workforce or in school, or considering either option. The discussion group provides support, encouragement, networking, and mentoring surrounding educational and professional pursuits. I have a Mormon friend here in Cuenca who was a recent single mom with two young children and is in grad school. She was saying this forum is her favorite place on the internet. I, too, can't get enough of it. I just love seeing women supporting women in pursuits. And I looove seeing women pursue their dreams!!


10.

8 ways to take care of yourself while the patriarchy loses it's shit. So good.


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There you have it! Thanks for the sisterhood here all these years. I think we will need sisterhood more than ever in the years to come. As always, would love to hear any of your thoughts or comments. And, what have you learned recently about being a woman?

With Love,

Mara

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29 comments:

  1. Mara - Thanks for writing this. I read "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd as a young women and it changed my life. Sitting in a patriarchal church still feels uncomfortable to me. I would love to attend a retreat of women and learn more about the sacred feminine. Hint hint :)

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    1. Ack - I need to read that book!! One of my very well read friends highly recommended it recently. And, you'll like to know that I'm tinkering with plans for a women's retreat. We have to first get our re-launch going (which should be SOON) and we have some priorities in the works. But the women's retreat is a dream of mine and I hope to see that come to fruition before long. Thanks for the note!! XO

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  2. The world is waking up. Women are waking up and stepping up. It's going to be beautiful. I'm excited for my sisters and my daughter. There is this untapped power in the feminine and I think so many problems will be solved as we tap into it.

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    1. I just loved your comment. YES. The world seems to be waking up! It literally feels as though history is unfolding in a huge way as the feminine rises up. It's really exciting to be a part of it - to see changes in women, to see changes in men, and children. Obviously, there are people resisting it. But I think that resistance is in place because so much change is happening. Indeed, it's beautiful.

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  3. I have struggled in the past with the idea of priesthood in the LDS church. But I find the blessings and officiating in the initiatory ordinance incredibly comforting and much more indicative of what it will "be" like in the future and eternities to come.

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    1. Yes, I remember once feeling comfort from that ordinance as well. Thanks for sharing. I do hope that one day that kind of empowerment for women (and even more) will be instituted openly/publicly/boldly throughout the church in all ways imaginable.

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  4. Yes to all of this and I particularly identify with #7. As a "fallen" Catholic, I could never understand why my brother could serve as an alter boy, why priests had to be male and for the life of me, why of why, were we required to attend pre-Cana (premarital therapy) that was led by a single, never married, completely sexist and unenlightened male? My wedding (officiated by a drunk priest) was the last time I set foot in a Catholic church. Yes to women all.day.long!!

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    1. Right there with you, sister -- all day long. :) . Thanks for chiming in! (And oye - the drunk priest...ha-that must have been quite an unwelcome adventure.)

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  5. #5 - oh, you are not the only one! Really?! I'll try it, I suppose. :)

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    1. Haha. Oh good. It's kinda weird, admittedly. But perhaps still better than removing (and then putting back on) a wet suit. :)

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  6. I too have felt this inner feminist rising in me in recent years--maybe even just recent months--and it feels both enlightening, frustrating and maybe even a little scary. For me, this has been in conjunction with my eyes opening to the ableist society we live in as well. (Ableist: the discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities.) Realizing that things I've always viewed as "normal" are not necessarily normal. Or even if they are the norm--ie the most common--it is not necessarily right. Interestingly I don't really have an issue with men exclusively holding the Priesthood, but I DO have a problem with women not having an equal say in the decisions in the church, or equal leadership roles. And it does bother me. Not because I think it's "unfair" but because I think an entire point of view is being ignored and that this point of view is needed for fair and just decisions. My home certainly doesn't run this way--I have just as much say as my husband in any and all family decisions (sometimes more depending on the issue, sometimes less). And in fact the church has come out and clarified on many occassions that men and women are to make family decisions equally, yet the church itself is not run this way. Hmmmmm, I wonder why the confusion?

    I am curious how Danny feels about these thoughts? (haha... Is it ironic that I want to know how the man in your life views all this?) But really, for me this is new territory, and sharing these emerging feelings and frustrations is also new... so I'm just curious as to what Danny's thoughts are and what your suggestions are for navigating these discussions and even differences of opinion?

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    1. Miggy, Have you had the opportunity to serve on a ward council? I hope you get to sometime. I am a woman that is currently serving on a ward council that meets weekly. The women on the council are invited to share their opinions, inspiration and thoughts each time we meet. I have a "say" in decisions being made and have a "leadership role" that is equal to other men and women on the council, if not moreso due to the function of this particular calling. (This has nothing to do with me and my abilities, but everything to do with the calling. I am very humbled by it and at times feel very inadequate.) I have never felt that my "point of view is ignored." Many, including the bishop, come to me for advice, assistance and counsel on a regular basis. A few years ago, I served on a stake council and had a similar experience. The stake president frequently asked for my "say" on many matters. I believe the general women auxillaries also serve in this way. It is simply remarkable.

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    2. Anon--yes a few times. Just for reference, I've been the RSP on two separate occasions and have served in various leadership capacities. And while I agree that my points of view and overall "say" were considered with equal weight (or greater if it was an issue I was more directly involved in) I would still say this overall equality of leadership roles for women falls far short. For example, in disciplinary councils. Women are completely absent as this is considered a Priesthood matter. Unfortunately, I believe that this creates a natural bias--I have heard countless examples of men who were given a slap on the wrist for what many would consider egregious sins (molestation, abuse). It could be argued that these cases are few and far between--and frankly I don't know the stats--but knowing that it happens at all is alarming to me, and I can't help but think, "if women were involved in those councils, this would not happen." (And I don't believe these situations were "inspired" either...that's a whole other discussion.) And while I may have had plenty of say in ward councils, ultimately it is the Bishopric who make many decisions on their own, without a RS or female representation present. It's great that your experience has been one where the men in leadership roles seek you out for advice--like the Stake President--I have never had that experience. (Bishop yes, Stake Pres. no) Since there is no system in place that requires them to do so, many don't. Additionally, there are other things about the current system that make me VERY uneasy--grown men behind closed doors with women or young girls (or even youth in general) asking probing questions about their sexuality. I have known friends who have had traumatic experiences in those meetings (and have read many other accounts as well) because a Priesthood holder crossed the line...the situation in general is ripe for abuse and it happens. It really does happen. And it shouldn't EVER. And while the church cannot be held accountable for every fallible bishop or Priesthood leader, they need to take a long, hard look at the systems in place that foster these situations. When you consider certain ordinances in the Temple, things are done differently because of appropriateness. I think it makes a lot of sense to have women involved in these type of worthiness interviews (and other areas) in large measure because of the "appropriateness" of these situations. I think it goes beyond that as well.

      If I, as a women, have access to every blessing of the Priesthood as I am told, and have access to God and revelation in equal measure to the Priesthood holders in my life, then there is no reason I can see that women shouldn't have a more visible and equal role in decision making and leadership in ALL areas of the church.

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    3. Hey Miggy - thanks for this. Always up for a good Miggy discussion. :) Also, interesting that ableism is opening your feminist self, too. I think once you see inequality for any group of human beings, you realize how unfair it is for ANY group to experience it. I think that happened for me when it comes to women's equality and LGBTQ equality - gender is just so connected to both of those groups. And I realized homophobia itself may even be a symptom of misogyny. ugh.

      I, too, agree wholeheartedly that women should have an equal say in decisions and equal leadership roles. The women in council meetings doesn't cut it for me one bit (though to Anon above, I'm glad that you've had a good experience with it.) But to me, the system is still set up to be 100% patriarchal and men have 100% of the decision making power. Even if they get "input" from a woman, it is still just input. And the male leader gets to make the final call. And you just never know if your male leaders WILL be implement the wishes of the women. There is no guarantee. In fact, it took me being in on some of those meetings and having leadership callings myself in Brooklyn to realize - - - - nope - - - even the female leaders have to defer completely to the men - and they aren't even able to meet the needs of the women in the way they see fit. It was actually those callings and meetings that turned me into a feminist! And, I realize every male leader will handle things differently and some may give actual trust to the female leaders. But that's just the point - every male leader has the opportunity to handle it how they want, and the women are 100% of the time at their mercy.

      Also - interesting point, Miggy, that the church claims that men and women should be a partnership in the home, but yet that is not at all how it plays out in the actual church. I had never thought of that.

      As for Danny and I, we feel very similarly on most of these things. And I know Danny will write in a comment. I do feel very lucky to be with a husband who is supportive of women and eager to see equality for women - and he's been open to me teaching him more about what it is like to be a woman in a patriarchal world. So we've grown together in learning and having our eyes opened. Danny looks to me spiritually in many ways - and we share equality in our home when it comes to spiritual stuff or rituals that we do. No one presides over the other. And we absolutely do not have any roles in our home that are traditional to gender. So we're very open in those ways.

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    4. Hey Miggy,

      Mara and I were talking about your questions on how to handle discussions and differences of opinion. I know Mara's working on something, but I thought I'd briefly share something that I always go back to with this kind of question (I'll probably write a bigger post on this).

      My answer to how to handle discussion and difference....Story Telling. You already know this through your own blogging efforts to highlight children with various physical challenges. Story telling of real human beings forces people to stop dealing with idealogical or political or religious enemies, and forces them to deal with real human beings. We're generally more open to change when we realize that whatever we believe has a direct and negative effect on a real human being in front of them.

      Anyway, I could turn that into a much larger answer (and probably will). But that is a big one for me.

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    5. "Always up for a good Miggy discussion. :)" Busted. No matter how hard I try, I'm just not a demure, shy violet.

      Thanks for your many points as well Mara--and I wholeheartedly agree that having input is not the same as decision making. Danny--YES. Storytelling. Exactly. It's exactly why I do my interviews and exactly why I have been so changed in this area of my life. I think most people would assumed my wake-up call to ableism would be because of my daughter. I can honestly say I don't think I'd have half of the understand I do (which as an able-bodied person is still not that much) if I didn't do my spotlight series. I think it's been really helpful to my husband as well to hear stories about the experiences that have been "normal" for me as a woman over the years and why it's not OK.

      Anon--You know, a few years ago I felt exactly as you did. Completely content in the way the church system was set up. I was adament that I had never felt "less than" in our church and that often as a women I felt if anything my very being was somewhat held on a pedistal--but not in a patronizing way. However, my views have started to shift in a number of ways, while still believing at my core in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I just wanted to put that out there because I think it's easy to label members who are unhappy with aspects of the church as rebel-rousers or as people who are losing their faith or.... in general putting a negative spin on it. Like Danny said, a lot of this came about by listening to stories and circustances that at once broadened my compassion for the human condition and the gospels role in that, and at the same time has found me no longer afraid to ask myself, God or those around me hard questions. Best to you.

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    6. Hey Miggy - just wanted to get back to this...
      As for navigating conversations and differences of opinion. yikers. I think this can be really tough especially among spouses and family members - and especially as new frustrations are arising. In this time in history, more than ever, the differences seem to be more extreme as things are evolving greatly and quickly and some are on a different pace than others. But! Let life begin! It's all a part of our development. So, if we're on our A-game, I think the best thing is to welcome it - welcome and expect the disagreements, the differences of opinion, the conversations. Ugh. It can be ugly and hard and challenging. But it's all a part of developing our voice, our values - and hopefully aligning more with our truth (which helps us to better serve the world). And all this upheaval could even could be a necessary evil for cleansing so much fear and hatred from our society.

      Danny and I do experience some disagreements. For example, we didn't agree on every point during this election. And the truth is, that was not easy as this was anything but a ho-hum election - with many moral things on the line - not just politics as usual. But all those moments are just another opportunity to develop, to change, to grow - and to hopefully become a better person in the world. And this is not dependent on seeing eye to eye. Sometimes that just won’t be experienced.

      A few thoughts:

      -I think communicating is key when exploring new ideas/feelings/opinions. Holding your tongue constantly when you feel you have something to say is not healthy for the soul. If it does not feel safe to speak openly in a home or with certain people, seek out an outlet for connection and communication. I think this is so crucial.

      -Story telling is an effective way to communicate. If others disagree about something as beautiful as equality, for example, it's likely due to fear - fears that have been passed onto them or taught to them. So, storytelling can really help people to see the "human" behind the issue. Instead of seeing a feminist or a trans person or a disabled person as an "other", stories allow people to see actual human beings.

      -Depending on the severity of disagreements or emotions/hurts or the feeling of safety in a situation, I think it actually may be best to avoid topics or even interactions with certain people until we feel stronger or more able to handle it. I do think boundaries can be healthy sometimes depending on our needs.

      -It’s helpful to remind ourselves that in the end, we do not have to be victims to others. This one is HARD, hard, hard. Because so much is personal and there’s a long history of mistreatment of different groups and yes, that should end. Period. But continuing victimhood is not the way. So when we’re ready, it helps to channel frustrations towards advocacy, inner strength, and greater acts of love for others (and ourselves) in the face of opposition.

      -For me, when I see people disagreeing (let's say on equality or treatment of others)-yes, I am just beside myself. But what helps is to remind myself that all of us are victims to some degree to various systems. We all have fears due to our upbringings, institutions or religions or surroundings we are exposed to. And this is all a part of the human experience. All we can do is hope that we all, over time, have the opportunities to develop and become more enlightened. And in the meantime, may we be able to see the human in another - even one that disagrees or harms - and believe that they, too, can evolve. And perhaps even compassion can be present - as we witness someone experiencing needless fear and hatred. (I once experienced it, too. So I have hope for everyone!)

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  7. My brother does strategic planning for the church and says he has noticed a TON of thugs shifting in the organization of the church. It's excited to see what this generation will do when they get to leadership age!! It can't come soon enough!

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    1. That's good to hear. And yes, it can't come soon enough. ha. I do think change will happen. There is no doubt in my mind. I actually don't think the church would survive in the way it is today if they never changed. This younger generation won't put up with a lot of what is happening.

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    2. Can I just say I laughed out loud, good and hard, when I read your comment with the typo "thugs" because it allows for a totally different interpretation than the word I'm guessing you meant - "things".

      Anyway, that was a good hearty chuckle.

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    3. Haha sorry! My spelling was terrible throughout that whole thing! Glad I gave you a good laugh!
      And Mara, I agree that the younger generation won't put up with a lot that has happened in the church in the past. I love watching young women go out on missions and serve in callings that really prepares them to become strong influential woman in the church. It thrills me! Such cool changes!

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  8. Also, *I have felt a strong sdesire to feel closer to my Heavenly Mother. I read an amazing article I will try to send to you!

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  9. thank you for this post, mara! i think i have recently realized how much my feelings and decision-making in ("romantic") relationships and specifically about sexuality have so much to do with evolution: the fact that i, as a woman, can become pregnant and would thus be emotionally and physically tied to another human being. i know that this such a delicate topic to bring up on this blog, but i feel that it has been my truth for quite some time, and i thought i'd share anyway!

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  10. Just wanted to say thanks for this post! It spoke to me. I was raised Catholic, but over the last decade or so, have gradually moved away from the church. It has been a complicated, tangled experience. On the one hand, I feel empowered by living my own truth, especially as someone who truly values the feminine, has daughters and wants to see a different world for them, works as an advocate for women in my career, and frankly, is angry at the misogyny in our world. On the other hand, it is painful to feel the widening of a chasm between family members who cannot understand what is in my heart. We have tried talking about it, but our worldviews are so different that sometimes it produces more hurt than good. I feel misunderstood, put in an outcast box, and hurt, while they feel disappointed, guilty about the choices they made that could have led me astray, and defensive. As you said, these shifts of recognizing inequality and choosing another way can truly "rock one to the core"! So yes, just thanks for you posts on this topic!!!

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  11. A few scattered thoughts that this post and comments brought up for me:

    I remember years ago a bishop of mine explaining to me that bishops and stake presidents act as proxy for Christ, so when we confess to them, we're actually confessing to Christ, and they take our sin upon them as Christ did. And since this is a proxy situation, it would not be appropriate for a woman to act as proxy for the man who atoned for our sins. Also, as Christ presides over the church, only males can act as proxy representatives of Christ in presiding over wards and stakes. Yes, these men are imperfect. I know of situations in our stake where a leader did some very bad things and he was removed from his calling immediately (ex-communicated as well).

    Recently our Stake President spoke to us in a women's symposium in our stake (centered Eve, which was AWESOME) and he talked about the Stake RS Pres and how she is his female counterpart in the stake, and as such, they counsel weekly. I thought that was profound, and I never thought of the RS pres that way. Maybe she can act as proxy for Heavenly Mother? I would love for her to take on more of a counseling role for women.

    I grew up in Hawaii, and here, women tend to be very vocal and opinionated, and I wonder if cultural differences alter the way the "patriarchal hierarchy" of the church plays out. Sometimes I find it difficult to relate to the wider feminist movement in the church. Here, age trumps gender, so an older woman can wield quite a bit of power and influence over the ward. I see that in our ward, where the bishop is in his 30s and I can imagine how difficult it must be for him to lead people who have raised him. We call each other "Aunty" and "Uncle" a lot of the time rather than "Brother and Sister" and that establishes a hierarchy based on age. Everyone does their best to respect the authority of the calling, but when (as an older person) you've seen your bishop running around in diapers, well that can be tough :)

    A recently had a temple recommend interview with my bishop and he left the door open a little (open enough to remind him that we weren't alone, and closed enough that I knew it was still a private conversation. I appreciated that.

    All of this isn't to say that I don't see issues. I take issue with the fact that when I receive a calling, my husband has to be there to "give permission" but when he receives a calling I don't have to be present to give my permission. I take issue with the fact that women are still responsible for childcare while doing their callings, but men almost never watch their kids and do their callings at the same time (I know some callings are harder to fulfill with kids, but others aren't). I HATE the priesthood leaders sit on the stand and leave their poor wives to deal with all the kids during sacrament meeting. I once heard a story about a woman whose father wasn't active so her mother went by herself with all the kids, and when she got married to an active LDS man, she never saw him either because he was always on the stand. #irony
    When I was in high school my dad was a bishop. In a 24 hour period, I would see him for a grand total of 10 minutes - the drive from our house to early morning seminary. The sacrifices women and children make are crazy to me and my husband (he's a convert so he's really unaccustomed to it). Fortunately he hasn't had any extremely time consuming callings, but everyone tells us it's not a matter of "if" but "when." I'm not looking forward to it, and we would do our best to be very careful with the amount of time we're actually giving to the calling.

    Sorry so long and scattered. Kudos if you made it to the end :)

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    1. Hey Ihilani,

      I agree that cultural differences can change the way things play out quite a bit. One thing we've noticed is that here in Ecuador, it's possible for patriarchy to play out in some of its more stereotypically troubling ways because patriarchal tendencies already run quite strong in many south american countries.

      I loved the idea of deep respect for the elderly/aged in your community, I think that speaks volumes...and I'm all for "aunty/uncle" instead of brother/sister.

      I think there can be many instances where leadership is done right. I've felt pretty fortunate to have witnessed a number of good examples in my time, and I'm encouraged by that. But as you mentioned, there can still be some odd and glaring examples of just how unequal things can be, and I've seen plenty of that too.

      As for your first paragraph, for me the explanation your bishop offered doesn't sit well with me. It is, no doubt, very well intentioned, and said without malice or desire to harm. But I think it has the potential to point in the wrong direction. Sometimes, in the absence of true understanding, we come up with stories that sound and feel good, but in the end aren't correct. No where in scripture would you find even a hint of what your bishop suggested of taking your sin upon themselves. Just the opposite. You'll find Christ declaring that he is the keeper of the gate, and that He employs no servant there. You'd find that he is the Rock, and that the arm of the flesh (even well intentioned arms) are sand, and unreliable. We'd be better off pointing towards whatever we believe is the source of wholeness, than we would at someone who is asked to facilitate that wholeness. (King Benjamin's sermon is a REALLY good example of this deliberate deflecting from himself and towards Christ). Anyway, I hope my disagreement doesn't come off too harsh....I just really don't like the idea of lifting up a leader with that kind of language that should ideally be reserved for who and what we worship.

      Much love!

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    2. Danny,
      Would you ever be willing to share some of your findings in personal studies you've had over the years. I would love to hear them. I love your Sunday sermon and would love to read more things like that!

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    3. Sure. Send me an email and let me know the kind of thing you're looking for. If I've written a talk on it or prepared a lesson, I'd be happy to share. I've been doing weekly Gospel Doctrine lessons for my family and a few others that are interested. Just let me know if that's up your alley.

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