Thursday, October 30, 2014

That One Time CES Didn't Hire Us Because I was "Different"

This is also a cross-post over at Modern Mormon Men, a great group blog

Once upon a time I was a newlywed - a newlywed with a husband trying to be a Seminary teacher.  Back in the Ricks College days that had an East Idaho Pre-Seminary (OPT) training program.  So I took Rel 370, Intro to Teaching, in Fall 2001 along with my husband.  I forget all the details back in the day, but we progressed through the program to where he was teaching seminary part time at Madison, Sugar City, and Mud Lake High Schools.  We were in our final semester where you are up for hire and it's pretty intense and down to the wire.  I remember this last semester there are a few things they do to screen applicants:
  1. Lots of in class evaluations by OPT area supervisor
  2. Spouse survey
  3. Meeting with CES hierarchy, if you pass middle mgt interview I think there may have been a GA interview at the end right before hire
We had a few things going against us
  1. The OPT area supervisor didn't like my husband.  My husband didn't like him.  They both thought that the other had a too high opinion of themselves and constantly tried to take each other down a notch.  In retrospect it was entertaining.  
  2. I don't like being manipulated and I have a strong personality.  
The CES middle manager came to interview us as a couple and leave the survey for me to take.  I remember him liking us and being friendly.  I remember sitting down to read and fill out the spouse survey.  It was a few pages long, multiple choice, and it was a joke.  It was filled with loaded questions, in which it was obvious there was only one right answer that you could choose.  And, really, I was offended.  What kind of automaton did they think I was?  I had a brain and could use it.  There was so little complexity it was laughable.  I remember overthinking it wondering if it's a test - would the wife just fill in the correct blanks and follow with no questions?  Or Did they want to see an exercise of originality and someone who was comfortable being a little different?  It was so obvious which answer they wanted, is this reverse psychology somehow?  Welp, I refused to auto-fill the answers and probably snarkily made sure mine was honest but offbeat.

A few weeks later we got a phone call from the CES middle manager about some concerns he had that he'd like to talk to us in person about.  I remember sitting in our front room at Aspen (Ghetto) Village as he delivered the  news: we passed all the middle manager screenings except the spouse survey.  They were enough anomolies there to be extremely concerning that I wouldn't be a good fit in CES.  He said if Darik passed the rest of the hiring process they would relook at me again, but for us to know this was enough of a red flag to put his hire in jeopardy.

You would have had to know me back then, I would have been a founding member of Mormon Women Stand.  No questions, no rule breaking, no R rated movies.  Straight shooters we were - straighter than most (like 99%).  We were a bit baffled.

In the end it didn't matter as much since the area OPT trainer basically told my husband to hit the road and drop out before the end because there was no way in heck he'd ever hire him.  Darik always wondered if he was good enough or if it was just a personal problem with the hiring overlord.  When he taught seminary in Las Vegas he was disappointed to have the CES area guy observe and tell him he couldn't fathom why CES passed on him, as he was one of the best he'd observed.

And in the end?  I'm glad.  It reminds me of something my friend told me when I was applying for a job on campus at BYUI and I tried to cover my social media tracks:

"If someplace doesn't want you for who you are, and what your strengths and what you can bring to their organization - it's their loss.  Don't change who you are for people who don't want you there in the first place."

Wise words, and good riddance. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Polygamy Essays and Prophetic Revelation

So the new Polygamy Essays went live this morning at here, here, and here.
 At first I only read the first one, which seemed general and ambiguous, but after I read the other two it seems a little ground shaking.  I'm in a facebook group that was discussing it quite lively, mostly over whether it's a fair historical representation.  I have my own quibbles about a few lines and presentations (hello coercion of 14 year olds . . . but that's for later) but I started a new thread with this:
So with the whole polygamy essay going live today..... I'm feeling in the minority -- anyone else out there believe our prophets can be a hot mess and still be instruments in God's hands, they can still be divinely inspired -- and even be dead wrong elsewhere? Joseph is still the prophet that Restored the Gospel. My personal opinion is that polygamy and racial bans aren't from God -- but that doesn't invalidate that was who God chose to do that work that needed to be done.
I told my brother the fact that we can have a prophet that incorrectly restricts priesthood on race actually strengthens my testimony: that even a racist prophet can't stop the work of the Lord from progressing. It may slow it down, but God's still in charge.
 One of my friends commented about where we are getting the idea that our prophets are not a hot mess, that the OT is really consistent on that point.  And I'm still involved in that discussion hours later.  It's an interesting conversation of people wanting to hold our leaders to a higher standard, and perhaps the inevitable disappointment that will accompany when truth is revealed (hello, essays).  Even one of my tweets from general conference highlighted the tension between counsel we receive for personal revelation and following blindly that we were subject to in just one General Conference Session.  This challenge we have of sorting out the way forward is not unique to our generation -- every dispensation has had prophets that were imperfect and complex and each group of people had to deal with this tension.

A friend posted a link to Julie Smith's essay  at Times and Seasons that was posted during this online conversation I was having, and it's brilliant.  After highlighting about a dozen ambiguous passages from the essays about how our church leaders (prophets) were walking blind trying to figure the whole thing out . . . . she concludes:
What I see here is–intentional or not–the articulation of a theology of prophetic revelation that runs precisely opposite to the way that many Mormons (mis)read Amos to say that God will do nothing without first revealing his secrets to the prophets (Amos 3:7) and that whether by God’s voice or the voice of church leaders, it is precisely identical (D & C 1:38). Rather, this suggests that God reveals things line by line (a scripture frequently quoted in these essays), does not reveal all details at once, and leaves some matters to be worked out without divine mandate.

I think the odd confluence of 1950s American corporate culture, historical amnesia, and rapid world-wide growth led Mormonism to advance the idea that a CEO-like prophet got regular memos from God, bullet-pointed with precise operating instructions designed to maximize return for the next quarter. Diligent work by historians, now disseminated instantly and internationally, shows that that vision isn’t quite precise. It is understandable that some will mourn that vision–I know I’d feel much safer led by that bespoke-suited CEO, divine memo in hand, than by some guy with a leather belt eating locusts in the wilderness. And yet, we should thank those historians (some of whom sacrificed their careers, if not their very membership in the Church, in order to publish things very similar to what is hosted on the Church’s own website today) for helping us overcome the cultural conditioning that misled us regarding what prophets are and what they do. The glass through which we see today is a little less dark because of their work, not just on historical matters related to polygamy but also regarding what we should–and should not–expect from prophets.

for further historical readings on polygamy, Dialogue has a great topic page

Monday, October 20, 2014

Double Standards Help No One

There were a few items this last general conference that made some waves:

1) Members of Ordain Women attempted to attend local Priesthood (PH) meetings instead of trying to attend the overflow location with extra seating on temple square they were denied entrance to for the past year.  Some women were able to attend, others weren't. 

2)  In what some see as an attempt to equalize the Women's Meetings, they were combined to be somewhat equivalent to the PH Session.  Elder Uchtdorf referred to this month's meeting as part of general conference as well as another GA who gave a prayer.  LDS Church Correlation/PR/Editing then edited that GAs prayer to remove reference to Women's Meeting being equal to PH Session.  Further info is found here.

Both of these issues are related - if we refer to women being equal without having the same things (separate but equal clause); when you have something separate for women, it should be equivalent.  In my response to the items above

1) I don't mind if women attend the priesthood session. They don't want to be men, they want to learn more about priesthood keys, authority, and power; something even Elder Oaks admitted women have a relationship with in April - albeit one that we know next to nothing about. There is no requirement of any amount of priesthood to enter.  They let unordained boys enter, they let non-members enter, they don't let female reporters enter.  The only requirement is male anatomy.  Many people argue that the presence of women in this meeting will ruin the spirit and brotherhood there, but:

2) for decades every Women's Meeting has had men in attendance, whether they be ticket takers, ushers, reporters, speakers, or presiders. The presence of men in our meetings has never ONCE ruined the spirit or sisterhood felt at such meetings. What does it mean that Priesthood is a session of General Conference but women aren't?  It furthers the notion of the organization and work of women as being an "appendage." (I have a whole different post about that word as well).  If you want to help women to feel less marginalized?  Count them.

And for heck's sake, change the name of the Priesthood Session to describe what it actually is: a General Men's Meeting.  Bonus side effect? Women no longer want to attend a men's meeting because they don't want to be men; they will look elsewhere for instruction on "priesthood preparation."  And since women always have a man speaking to them about how to be better women of God, I can only see it improving the men's meeting if we let women speak there, too!

If not, if they want to continue to restrict the meetings by gender, then men should not attend our meetings.  They shouldn't usher, report on, or speak at our meeting.  If the reasoning applies to one it should apply to the other.  Double standards help no one.