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Long Live Sister O!

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

We’re coming up (in August) on the tenth anniversary of the death of Chieko Okazaki. She served as first counselor in the church’s General Relief Society Presidency from 1990 to 1997, and died in August, 2011, at 84. That is long enough ago that many of the new generation of Relief Society sisters were still …

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Toni Morrison’s Writing and Listening When Others Speak

By Karen Austin

Writing in the wake of Toni Morrison’s passing on Monday, August 5, 2019 is a daunting task. Her craft outshines my ability to describe it. Nevertheless, I want to gesture to her writing, which is powerful in both form and content. Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs …

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Interview with Jenn Lee Smith and Zandra Vranes, Producers of the film “Jane and Emma”

By Sandra Clark

Jane and Emma, recently released, breathes life into the real-life friendship of Jane Manning and Emma Smith. This important film examines their friendship within its complex matrix of history fraught with racism, the murder of the prophet Joseph, his polygamy and the strain of Emma’s marriage. The deep friendship Jane and Emma, shown in the movie and …

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Book Review: On Fire in Baltimore: Black Mormon Women and Conversion in a Raging City by Laura Rutter Strickling

By Sherilyn Stevenson

Published by Greg Kofford Books, October 2018 In her new release, On Fire in Baltimore, Black Mormon Women and Conversion in a Raging City, Laura Rutter Strickling, a White member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, documents the conversion stories of fifteen Black women. Right away, I asked myself how I, as …

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Interview with Jenn Lee Smith and Zandra Vranes of Jane and Emma

By Sandra Clark

Jane and Emma, releasing this weekend, breathes life into the real-life friendship of Jane Manning and Emma Smith. This important film examines their friendship within its complex matrix of history fraught with racism, the murder of the prophet Joseph, his polygamy and the strain of Emma’s marriage. The deep friendship Jane and Emma, shown in the movie …

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Stories of America

By Jennie LaFortune

Years ago I spent the Fourth of July in New York. As I walked near Manhattan I became a part of the variety of people meshing together in the streets. The hot humid air pushed my hair to my neck and my shirt clung with a slight dampness as I stood on a subway platform. …

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What if the Church Library was a Real Library?

By Sandra Clark

I accepted a new calling in the last week. It came as a surprise and not a surprise at all. A surprise because I’m well below the unstated age restriction to become a librarian in my ward, but that’s where I’m headed. The senior sisters that dole out the chalk and flannel board figures behind …

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The Spice House on Central Street

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

One step inside and you can almost feel the camel’s breath on the back of your neck. In the distance you hear the taut snap of canvas sails. Close your eyes. See the children, thin but strong, dark skinned, ebony-eyed, culling through the salt crystals swiftly plucking out debris like darting hummingbirds. The jingling and …

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Binaries, Bipartisanship, and the Mormon Moment

By Sandra Clark

Right now I am waist deep in literary theory. I am at the end of my first semester of an English grad program and assembling a term paper. I’m interested in food studies, anticipate spending a lot of long nights cozying up to Claude Levi-Strauss’ The Raw and the Cooked. So, indulge my geek-out for a minute here, but I talk about binaries, as used by Levi-Strauss, the theorist, not the maker of fine denim apparel.

Binaries have fans all across the academic spectrum. There are binary numbers, binary code, binary stars and binary relationships in theory. What makes the term so popular is its articulation the relationship of two alternatives existing in opposition to one another. Levi-Strauss pointed out man:woman, raw:cooked, and young:old. The list can go on and on. As Book of Mormon scriptorians, we are all familiar with the discussion of opposition in 2 Nephi 2. Yes, there is opposition, in just about everything.

With the political high season winding down, we are all quite familiar with the binaries that separated and divided so much of the country. Many of us are downright exhausted by it, myself included. I stress and agonize over the structural lines, fissures that edge us apart and divide us into binaries. While I realize that opposition is natural, normal and sometimes useful, its not something I find productive. As I am writing and considering binary theory with my semester research, I have to ask the question, so what? It is not enough that matter and issues exist in a divided state. For me, the interest comes in the second half of binary structure, not the opposition, but the relationship between the two, or, how they then come together.

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Census of My Sisters

Today’s guest post comes from Amy S., who is not really a writer. She majored in  fashion design at BYU (one of the few and the brave) and worked for a time as a costume designer for a dancewear company. She knows a lot about sequins. She gave up that job to stay home with her children and eventually began to work as a fiber artist—specializing in embroidery. Her work has been shown across the country and is represented by several galleries. Her life goal is to spread knowledge of handicraft and fiber to a people who have forgotten where their socks come from. She has an art blog, amosthefamous.blogspot.com, but it is mostly looked at by Scandinavians and South Koreans. She does not know why. She lives with her good husband and five children in the middle of Iowa.

I am the Mormon stereotype: a white, stay-at-home mom, blessed with the large bones of my pioneer ancestors. I am not, perhaps, the best person to write about diversity in the Church. I read an article yesterday at Slate.com by David Haglund called “I’m a Father, a Husband, and a Rock Star. And I’m a Mormon.” He talks about the potential ramifications of the “I am a Mormon” series of commercials and suggests that perhaps one result of the commercials is that members of the Church will see the Church differently—as a more diverse and inclusive community. I wondered. Late last night I went to Mormon.org and watched 20 or 30 of the videos. I felt my inner cynic creeping up on me—is this really a representation of the Church? All those people were SO cool. And they so carefully represented all the colors of the human rainbow. Is this really who we are? Or is it just a TV version of our cool diversity?

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