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Appendix B- Female Ordination Debate

Appendix B- Female Ordination Debate

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Published by Brad Carmack

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Published by: Brad Carmack on Jun 20, 2012
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Appendix B: Female Ordination Debate
In opposition to female ordination
"Brad Carmack, would you fear excommunication? I think this sounds like a good idea in general, but the retaliationwould be huge. And while sometimes I don't care if the church were to excommunicate me, I'm still a little tooshitless to do it."
"How dare you assume that you have the right to come charging in on your white horse, after having a feministawakening--what, 6 months ago?--and do something that will cause a backlash that will undo decades of the patientwork of Mormon feminists who are smarter and more politically savvy than you are and who will suffer for youractions while you go blithely on your way believing that you are some sort of feminist martyr? Shut the hell up untilyou've spent some time reading and learning about the rich history of Mormon feminism and you have somethingproductive to offer, instead of an idiotic publicity stunt that will set the cause back a few decades. I don't have a lotof patience with condescending "help" from Mormon men."
"A rogue female "ordination" would cause more problems than it would solve. We have enough work to do inreclaiming the priesthood we already have before attempting to force ordination as an underground resistancemovement. Above-board, grassroots reclamation is my goal."
"I agree that in the current environment, the only possible outcome would be a whole pile of excommunications,with the best possible result being that those people would end up in the Community of Christ, or would form theirown breakaway sect.I, in my heart, support those priests and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church who have begun ordaining womenunderground, but it really does not lead to systemic change. It's sad, but it doesn't."
"The church wouldn't recognize the woman's priesthood (or yours, for that matter), so what would be the pointexactly?"
"Rogue ordinations are not going to convert anyone in the existing power structure."
"If you believe in a Mormon conception of authority at all, then usurping it in this way completely strips it of itspower. If you don't believe in a Mormon conception of authority, then there's really no reason not to simply beordained in another church "
"I simply disagree with this approach. It will alienate more conservative women, demonize feminism, provokepriesthood authorities to speak out against feminists (and intellectuals from the pulpit), cause suspicion towardsfeminists (like myself) in their own wards, and do nothing to further the equality of women in the church in anypractical way. I am sure Brad's intentions are to make life better for women, but this will do the opposite."
"It's certainly hard to see results from the kind of dissent I'm suggesting in time scales shorter than epochal.But there are results. The RS minutes, a truly revolutionary document, are now published, not because of noisyfeminist protest, but because one saintly historian worked for her _entire_ professional career to make it happen,despite being consistently undervalued and underappreciated by both more revolutionary feminists and folks inpower. I submit that having those documents available is the sort of thing that will matter over the long haul, farmore than anything like ordaining a woman on camera.Nobody remembers the guy who ordained a couple of black men in 1971(ish?), but Lester Bush's careful, patient(kinda boring) scholarship (along with other factors) made it possible to conceptualize a face-saving way to rescindthe ban."
"I think there are those that need to take risks, make big-time stands, speak loudly in unsafe spaces and generallycause a scene. Those actions speak to those who are ready to listen. Then there is the need for more subtleagitation, education, patience and caution. These prepare the listeners. That said, I think Brad's approach isproblematic and would ultimately alienate more people's ability to pay attention than those that would."
I agree that many of the protests we make will just make people resist us, especially at a ward level where we will belargely outnumbered.
"Part of the problem with Brad's proposal is that it fails to recognize the fact that priesthood "power" is only partlyconferred by God. It is also constituted in a community, so of course it has to be cultivated within that community.
2Which is precisely why a rogue ordination is so incredibly damaging and offensive--it tears at the fabric of community, thereby deligitimizing priesthood power in the very act of "conferring" it."
"It seems to me, and I think a persuasive case could be made by looking at historical precedent specifically withinthe church, that this event would not be an effective way of changing the hearts of those who we'd expect needchanging."
In support of female ordination
"I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. I have done a lot of reading about humanitarian movements, and thesekinds of very public acts, accumulating over time and building on each other until they reach a crescendo, seem tobe the impetus for change in the long run. Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
When a handful of female ordinations occur, others may be emboldened to ordain women as well. When that tidegets large enough, it will be very difficult to stop.
(regarding the fact that a male would perform the ordination) "the same arguments were made against whitepeople (especially Jews) participating in the civil rights movement. Isn't a key component of systemic changeconverting those in the power structure to your cause, a few people at a time, until public opinion shifts in yourfavor? Where would the gay rights movement be if only gay people were supporting the cause? The uphill battleof the minority (whatever minority that may be) is always to win the hearts and minds of the bulk of the majorityso that, eventually, the opposing opinion becomes the minority opinion itself."
I guess I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this blog, but it seems to me that it would be helpful andintuitive for women to be ordained to Melchizedek priesthood office over and over and over until the messagegets through to LDS members and leaders that governance equality is vital. It's hard to ask for martyrs, butwhen their cause is just and there's enough of them the oppressive regime loses all semblance of morallegitimacy (compare to the Salt March http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_march). Once a few woman are ordained, both they and other willing men could ordain other willing women. It's gutsyactivism, but the potency of the symbols are impossible to ignore- and civil rights movements like this oftenaccelerate when powerful symbolism combines with martyrdom (think MLK & Tyndale and dozens of similarother examples). It can also be an effective long-term strategy; each data point added raises consciousness andforces discussions about LDS sexism. It is an act that can be replicated, and strikes at the heart of the illegitimateexercise of authority by the current patriarchy.
"So Sonia Johnson did not plant an important seed in the Mormon feminist movement? How about the SeptemberSix? Are we prepared to say that their agitations (resulting in almost across-the-board excommunications) won'tbe a net positive in the long run?"
"Sonia Johnson most definitely hurt the Mormon feminist movement, that should be clear." Response: "Not yet,maybe, but we're only a little more than three decades removed from Sonia Johnson's actions. These agitationsoften plant seeds that take decades upon decades to flower. If the church does open the priesthood to women atsome point, and the history of that process is written, you don't think that Sonia Johnson and her peers will beconsidered to have put this issue front and center? I realize there was a backlash against her, but there has neverbeen a human rights movement that does not include periods of backlash. Those periods, and the people whoinspire them, are generally considered to be useful and sometimes even necessary catalysts. Not at the time, ocourse, but in the end, yes."
"Forget the feminist movement and just think about the fact that it might be meaningful and spiritually powerfulfor the people involved. How it would benefit the feminist movement? I'm guessing in small ways it would. Anordained woman could give blessings to her children or women give blessings to each other. Or blessings to herhusband. I realize some women do this already without ordination. But if she feels as if she's been properlyordained, it would make a bigger difference to her."
"And as far as not needing men to swoop in and help women do what they think they cannot do for themselves,that will make it impossible for women to be ordained at all. Even going through the proper channels, the prophet,a man, would decide to begin female ordination, and at least one man would be required to ordain the first
3woman. The Mormon conception of authority actually requires us to need men to swoop in and help us do whatthey think we cannot do for ourselves."
"It is, however, an idea that has played out in every civil rights movement of the 20th century, so Brad is certainlyin good company to believe it has some merit."
"There is considerable evidence in contradiction of your statement that "there are no compelling arguments in itsfavor, no comparable historical analogies to successful reforms within well established, centralized, authoritarianreligious institutions effected in a remotely similar manner." In fact, women's ordination in the Episcopal Churchbegan in exactly this manner."The first women were ordained priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974, though the orders had not beenendorsed by General Convention. The so-called Philadelphia 11 were ordained by Bishops Daniel Corrigan, RobertL. DeWitt, Edward R. Welles, assisted by Antonio Ramos.[97] On September 7, 1975, four more women wereirregularly ordained by retired Bishop George W. Barrett.[98] The 1976, General Convention, which approved theordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, voted to regularize the 15 forerunners.In 1994, the Convention affirmed that there is value in the theological position that women should not beordained.In 1997, the Convention affirmed that "the canons regarding the ordination, licensing, and deployment of womenare mandatory and that dioceses noncompliant in 1997 shall give status reports on their progress toward fullimplementation.In 2006, the convention elected Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. She is the first woman to serve asprimate in the Anglican Communion.The Episcopal Church is not the only example, but I'll let you research further for yourself."
"Ordination of women is not a worldwide accomplished fact within all the member churches of the AnglicanCommunion, either, but it has made tremendous progress, and has not destroy the Communion, as somepredicted it would."
You wouldn’t have the authority to ordain without approval of your local leaders.
I'm authorized to ordain per the scriptural canon- the church handbook is not doctrine. The introduction toHandbook 1 (2010) reads:"Church leaders seek personal revelation to help them learn and fulfill the duties of their callings.Studying the scriptures and the teachings of the latter-day prophets will help leaders understand and fulfill theirduties. The Lord has admonished leaders to treasure up in their minds continually the words of God so they will
be receptive to the influence of the Spirit…
 These instructions can facilitate revelation if they are used to provide an understanding of principles, policies,and procedures to apply while seeking the guidance of the Spirit."Clearly, the Handbook is not revelation itself if its users are instructed to base their decisions on personalrevelation and the scriptures. I have felt inspired to ordain a woman as surely as I have been inspired to doanything, and my study of the scriptures supports the move. The gerontocracy has had decades of opportunityto reverse course and do the right thing and haven't. Church members are just as much a part of the church asits leaders are, and they too have the right to act and receive revelation in relation to it.
You point out that activist power grabs "fail," and that excavating power "works." What do you mean by theterms "fail" and "works?" Looking to comparable movements, women suffrage activists made a power grab anddid not fail; they obtained the right to vote. Civil rights leaders engaged a power struggle that escalated intobacklash, but they ultimately won the day. Joseph didn't focus on embedded power within a system andexcavate it; he also took authority into his own hands.Mormon feminists have been focusing on embedded power for over a century now, and though in many waystheir efforts have been fruitful, we still observe the anachronism of a governance equality gap the size of theGrand Canyon in contemporary Mormonism.Taking authority into one's own hands suggests that the authority did not reside there previously. Empoweredpeople _discover_ their power; they don't create it. Mormon men already have the authority to ordain LDSwomen. Mormon women already have the authority to govern the LDS church. Once Mormon feminists (maleand female) awaken to this reality, the governance equality movement will, like the civil rights and suffragemovements before it, become inevitable. The patriarchy has no more authority than we grant it.

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