Sunday, January 10, 2010

Curmudgeon

I frequently hold my tongue in discussions, especially at church, mostly because I hate being the kill-joy in the group. When I read "The Gurnsey literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," I said nary a negative word about the book, even though I'd wanted back the couple of hours it took me to get through that particular pile of cliches and shallow characters sporting far too modern attitudes, mostly because everyone else was gushing over it and I didn't want to dump on something everyone else obviously enjoyed. Similarly, at church I don't voice many of my criticisms because I know many of the things that bug me are pillars of faith for others. Instead, I blog, expecting those who read can either handle my disagreement or will move on. I'm guessing most people move on, but I do appreciate those who stick around, whether to be entertained by my daughter's antics or to read my occasional attempts at deep thought, or whatever.

Speaking of Sylvia's antics, I took these pictures today:



She's figured out how to open screw tops and, forgetting the red pepper flakes don't have a shaker top on them I let her have that jar to play with. She was rather pleased with her chili-pepper angels on the floor, as you can see.

Now that the entertainment portion of the post is over, those of you who just wanted to see my cute girl can leave.

The rest of you may be curious why I'm bringing up the reasoning behind holding my tongue. Well, probably it's on my mind because I held my tongue quite a lot today. We were talking about foreordination, which is a fine topic--particularly if you happen to feel like you're one of the noble and great ones the manual and the scriptures go on about. I suspect it helps to be youngish and male to feel that way, from the examples produced in class. I know, we're living in the latter days and by definition all of us were "held in reserve" and thus we are the noble and great ones. Never mind that the only woman mentioned in the D&C is Eve--not even Mary makes the cut (though the avoidance of anything vaguely Catholic probably explains that one). After a long list of men foreordained to be prophets or apostles or mission presidents, and a seemingly longer list of positions one may be foreordained to hold (but only if you're male), the teacher brought up motherhood, telling us women we were foreordained to bear and raise children. I like the teacher, really--he's a great guy, and I'm glad he at least thought about women at some point in the very male-centric lesson he was teaching. It still felt like a patronizing pat-on-the-head afterthought.

I find it problematic to speak of foreordination in respect to motherhood. Having babies is a biological function that I am capable of because I happen to have two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y. If I was foreordained to have babies, that implies every other woman in the world was also foreordained to have babies. Except those who are infertile, or married to infertile men, or whose babies die, or who just don't ever get married or have babies for whatever reason.

The examples given of what men are foreordained to do depend on righteousness for their fulfillment, which is not at all the case for motherhood. Girls fall into motherhood for violating the law of chastity all the time, which hardly seems like a reward for being righteous/financially successful in the same way being called as a mission president is. From that perspective alone claiming we are foreordained as mothers is a problem. All of the examples for men require righteousness; motherhood is independent of righteousness, as any unwed mother or faithful saint struggling with years of infertility can tell you.

But motherhood is hard, and I know for some women it's helpful to believe they are specially called to raise their children. (Perhaps they're right and I'm just too jaded to give that idea the credulity it deserves). So even though I question the claim that motherhood is a calling we women are foreordained to, I said nothing, saving my doubts for a blog post that will likely reach fewer eyes and I hope harm none.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting thought. I hadn't considered it in those terms (though to be fair, I had this lesson in Spanish, so I got a lot less out of it than I would have in English, haha). I haven't thought this through, but I wonder if there is an implied element of righteousness in the role of motherhood. What I mean is, I get the feeling that there is a difference between the role of the mother in a child's life and the biological logistics of having a baby. Certainly almost any woman can have a baby, but to raise your child to be a good, useful, and righteous sort of person, you do need to be in tune with the Lord and to be trying to be a good person yourself. I don't think there is anything particularly so wonderful about some teenager getting pregnant and having a child who receives little positive upbringing and grows up to go to jail. A woman who can teach her child to follow the Lord, however, I think is different, and that does take a considerable measure of righteousness. Perhaps that is where the difference is. I think I like that in particular because it does not negate the women who are not members of the Church who are still trying (and succeeding) to raise good and productive children, and I would venture to say that many of those women are following principles of the Gospel, even if they don't know it, much in the same way that (for example) the men of the Reformation were NOT mormons and were still foreordained and following the Lord to fulfill important missions which paved the way for the Restoration.

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