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Daughters in My Kingdom: Revising Expectations

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 23, 2011

Late last week LDS Newsroom announced that the promised Relief Society history, Daughters in My Kingdom, was ready for distribution and would be mailed to English-speaking Church units this week, with work proceeding to translate the book into some 25 other languages. As the book is distributed in the next few weeks there will undoubtedly be much Bloggernacle discussion.

This is my first attempt at – what? Not a review, or even a preview, because I haven’t seen the book and know no more about it than what has been publicly reported. Let’s call it an exercise in forecasting what’s coming, and an exercise in revising expectations that, before Friday, I hadn’t even realized I had formed. When the book is in hand and can be given a legitimate review, I will be overjoyed to correct anything I prematurely and wrongly assess here.

As I wrote to a friend over the weekend, my reaction upon reading the press release was that I “was so disappointed that I curled up in my rocking chair and cried until I couldn’t cry any more.”

I hadn’t expected the book to be a scholarly history of Relief Society, to address women’s issues in an academic way, to explore the place of a single woman in a married church, to contrast the historic opportunities of Mormon women with those of the surrounding society, or to examine what it was like for 19th century Mormon women to bear their children on the underground or, even if they were in monogamous families, to cope with the pressures of a community steeped in plural marriage. I didn’t even expect it to be a traditional history – Sister Beck had already warded off that expectation with her April Women’s Conference talk: “[I]t’s not so important to have a linear historians[’] history in the Church.” Never mind that it’s important to me to have a “linear historians’ history” – I’m used to being the odd woman out, with needs that don’t mesh with the only demographic the Church cares about, and I’m used to finding my way on my own without much help.

But I did expect, I think, a narrative history that told us about the role of women in God’s plan, and in the Church, and how the sisters of the Relief Society of the past had lived those roles, models for us as we live an updated version of mortality.

Not long after last fall’s General Relief Society meeting when the history was first publicly mentioned, a reader asked me “which parts of Relief Society history we were supposed to focus on, and what we were supposed to learn from them?” My response to her, typing even as I thought about it for the first time, was:

I think Sister Beck and her board would probably want us to understand — really understand, in a visceral way — that Relief Society isn’t just a class we go to on Sunday to keep us off the streets while the menfolk are in priesthood meeting. I think they’d want us to know that Relief Society wasn’t a routine thing for every woman, that they joined the Society voluntarily because they wanted to serve.

To know that would require us to know about all the things they did outside of Sunday worship — the relief of the poor, nursing (both in families and on a larger hospital scale), hands-on work of creating clothing and blankets and food, perhaps the social work of improving their communities (anti-fly campaigns, beautification campaigns, improvements to sanitation, nutrition, families in crisis). They might want us to learn about how Relief Society brought a measure of education to women who often had only a scanty district school education and spent the rest of their lives on farms — Relief Society brought them elements of culture in the way of music and literature and history and current events that nobody else was providing for them. Maybe they’d want us to see how those sisters looked out for other women — fought for their rights in the world, provided restrooms (safe havens, not merely toilets) for women who came to the larger towns for shopping and needed a place to get off the street for an hour, and provided an employment bureau and safe temporary living quarters for girls coming to the city to find work.

I hesitate to think the modern leaders would care that we know those facts just for the sake of knowing facts, but because of what those events of the past stand for: Women can do more — for themselves, their families, the church, and their communities — than we often make the effort to do, and it’s our privilege to look to our sisters of the past for models of how they improved their world, then go and do likewise.

After reading the press release, I think I was way off base in my assumption. Instead of telling us our history, letting it speak for itself, and having it model for us how earlier women of faith faced their lives and, therefore, how a contemporary woman might face her individual circumstances, I think this book is written 180 degrees in the other direction. Sister Beck calls it “message based,” and the press release says it is “organized by themes.” From that, I expect this book will be like all other manuals produced by the Church in this generation:

Rather than narrating our history and letting it speak for itself, I’m guessing that each chapter or lesson or section (however it’s divided) will be written to teach one aspect of the gospel that Relief Society leaders have decided women in the Church need to focus on. We’re familiar with this approach in our Sunday School manuals – a few minutes’ survey of any manual lets you pick out the standard faith lesson, standard family lesson, standard tithing lesson, standard obedience lesson, and the other three dozen standard topics that are covered each year – the same lessons, with a veneer of Book of Mormonishness, or Old Testamentishness, or whatever book we are pretending to study that year. We don’t study those scriptural books, letting them speak for God and directly to us; instead, we discuss the same gospel themes, with verses from that year’s scripture pulled out as proof texts to teach us the same lessons we had the year before, illustrated from last year’s scripture.

In other words, I expect that Daughters in My Kingdom will consist of a selection of the same gospel lessons as appear in the Gospel Principles book or any Gospel Doctrine manual, but with examples and quotations and vignettes drawn from Relief Society history as proof texts, instead of (or in addition to) scripture verses. Based on statements in the press release and a rereading of Sister Beck’s April Women’s Conference speech, I’m guessing that we won’t be reading history; we’ll be reading a current presentation of gospel didacticism, illustrated by carefully selected bits of history.

I can live with that. I live with it as a substitute for scripture study in Sunday School; if Daughters in My Kingdom is used as a manual in an upcoming year in Relief Society, I can deal with it in the same way there. With diligent effort, we can have some effective discussions, with a real focus on the scriptures themselves as well as the assigned gospel theme, even with a skim milk lesson manual. But as I’ve also learned from being a member of umpteen Sunday School and Relief Society classes, everything depends on the teacher, and her commitment and preparation and thoroughness and skill (and the Holy Ghost, too – but I’ve noticed that the Holy Ghost seldom bothers to put in an appearance when the teacher hasn’t bothered to prepare). There is no reason to expect that Sunday lessons taught from this book in our wards will be any more moving, any more helpful, any more applicable to our needs – to my needs, at least – than the generally dismal run of classes in our wards now.

What disappointed me, though, and what made me cry, is the anticipated superficiality of the forthcoming book. “This is not a conclusive history,” says its author. It’s to be another Church-produced beautiful but lowest-common-denominator book, “accessible to the whole world.” It is not meant to engage the mind, but is intended for women with short attention spans (“the book is designed to be user-friendly for an audience that may not read much”;   “it is the kind of book [a woman] could pick up even if she only had a few minutes”). The thumbnail page views provided with the press release, and the release’s favorable notice that “every page featur[es] colorful photographs and beautiful artwork,” as well as the book’s brevity (208 pages), all give notice that the word count is low, the lessons simple and explicit, and the written word of no greater importance than the page ornamentation. Even the book’s odd size – it seems very short and very, very wide, although I haven’t seen actual dimensions given anywhere – means that it isn’t designed to be held comfortably for focused reading, but for flipping through like a glossy magazine. If you like the slick, shiny style of the Ensign, you should like Daughters in My Kingdom.

I don’t begrudge new readers, busy readers, new converts, unsophisticated readers, or any others of my sisters who need this special consideration having their needs met. I hope this book does meet their needs. If my needs cannot be met at the same time, it is doubtless more urgent that their needs be met than that mine be met. I have the opportunity and skills and access to learn from genuine, “historians’ history” what I need to learn from and about our sisters of the past. Millions of other Latter-day Saint women have no such opportunities.

I don’t need my history to come from the Relief Society General Board. I don’t have the words to say, though, how much I do need some sign from the Church that my needs, and the needs of others like me, are known and understood and addressed. Daughters in My Kingdom gives promise of none of that. For many sisters somewhere, yes, but for me, no.



42 Comments »

  1. That’s a tragic waste of a great opportunity. On the other hand, it does fill a gap that is not currently filled in the correlated slate of lesson manuals. Almost all currently-existing lessons focus on the lives and teachings of modern-day (male) prophets, or the writings and stories of ancient (male) prophets and leaders. I agree with your assessment of the lesson material—it’s just a bunch of correlated topics with proof texts from whatever the scripture of the year happens to be, rather than an in-depth look at what the scriptures actually say, but all those proof texts are in the male voice and based on the male experience. Perhaps this is a move toward recognizing the female voice and the female experience as also valuable for teaching gospel principles—however hackneyed, it may be positive half-step.

    Comment by Amy — August 23, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  2. Ardis, I also feel your disappointment; there is such potential in really learning about RS history! I do agree with Amy’s expression of some slight optimism, but it is a shallow comfort compared to what could have been.

    Comment by HokieKate — August 23, 2011 @ 7:16 am

  3. Hmmm. Who do we know that could put together a “linear”, “conclusive”, “historian’s” history of the Relief Society?

    There must be someone out there who excels at research and writing about church history who is willing to dig in past the superficial veneer.

    Any ideas? Ardis?

    Comment by middle-aged Mormon Man — August 23, 2011 @ 7:28 am

  4. I agree with you, Ardis. I was disappointed for myself with the recent announcement of what this book will be. I had hoped for something very different and for myself, I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to this book.

    But the women you talk about in your second-to-last paragraph truly do remove all of my disappointment. I hope that if we can get several copies in Russian here (not the native language, but it certainly won’t be translated into the native language) that I can read this book with the LDS women in the country I live in. These women are certainly some of the most isolated women in the Church and, from the news about this book, I think this book could be exactly what we need. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get any copies here at all though. We haven’t been able to get the Liahona here in years, much less any other sort of Church publications. Even our few copies of Gospel Principles and the scriptures are difficult to read and discuss together because they are not written for my sisters’ needs.

    In some ways it seems that your isolation might be as great as the isolation of the women here. You and many other women have every reason to feel that this book probably won’t meet your hopes and needs, but so much more of what is produced in the Church and by Church members doesn’t even come close to meeting the needs of my sisters here and there is nothing else available. To have a book that might alleviate those needs just a little really does make up for all my disappointment. I don’t expect it to do so for anyone else, and I certainly don’t want to lecture. But it works for me.

    Comment by Amira — August 23, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  5. I hadn’t even thought of that, Amy (making this comment the first of what is sure to be many corrections, revisions, reassessments, apologies, etc., as the book is released and read and other voices heard). That could indeed be a very valuable, very comforting, very positive step. Thanks for noting it. I’m with HokieKate in appreciating your comment.

    Thanks for the implied compliment, MMM … there’s a difference between a privately produced book and one that has the Church’s explicit approval and imprimatur, though. And even if I didn’t have to earn a living (something that gets in the way of doing all the unremunerative work I might like to do), that’s the kind of project that I mentioned as always having to find my own way without help.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 7:59 am

  6. Amira, I actually thought of some of the sisters you’ve mentioned as being exactly the women this book is directed toward. It is far more important to get something like this into their hands than to produce even two words for somebody like me — it would be far more selfish than I really am to think that my own needs were anywhere as critical as theirs. I genuinely do hope that Daughters in My Kingdom is exactly what your sisters need, and that we can find some way to get it to them.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  7. Since you put a critical take of this work out there, I hope you can receive a friendly critical take on your expectations.

    Let’s start with some friendly presumptions that not only apply to you, but all of us.

    1. Presumably, you accept you are not perfect or if that word has too much baggage, complete to the degree our Father in Heaven desires of you.
    2. Presumably, you acknowledge that you do not know best what you need to become more like our Father in Heaven.
    3. While at the same time, you are in the entirely unique situation of having experienced those highs and lows in your own life and presumably have received various degrees of personal revelation about those things you should learn and experience which are for your own personal good.

    Without wanting to add a ton more and go into deep detail, I fully expect this book has the potential to help you, (and all of us), with #2. It’s highly likely it will help you with #3 as well. And in the process of combining this book with those things you have received revelation you should also, but not exclusively pursue, you will be working toward #1.

    If there is one thing I am certain of, is this book is inspired, Sister Beck is inspired. I can say that without having ever read it, because the spirit testifies of the immense good it will do, and I pray the brothers will get to study some of this too.

    Comment by principles — August 23, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  8. Ardis, your comments are as valuable as your OP (which is delightful). I think of the sisters my wife serves in our stake: some are life long members who would do well to have some meat to chew on; others are brand spanking new converts in struggling branches filled with more brand new converts. I know my wife struggles with how to help teachers reach all of those sisters in meaningful ways, because each is deserving of being taught.

    Comment by Paul — August 23, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  9. Paul, thank you.

    “Principles,” if you had the guts of your moniker, you wouldn’t preach to me under guise of a pseudonym. I use my real name, even for criticism. If you have a genuine testimony to bear of the “whisperings of the spirit,” then sign your real name. Otherwise, it’s a fabricated witness.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  10. Oh, never mind, principles. Your IP identifies you as that self-righteous little twerp who signs himself as lowercase “chris.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  11. I agree with MMM that a well-researched, well-written history of the Relief Society would be well received (and sell well to boot. Just look at the study aids Deseret Book promotes every year a new manual comes out.)

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 23, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  12. I wish they wouldn’t call it a history. Call it “faithful stories” or “heritage” or something else, but the stamp of “history” gives it weight that I don’t know if it will deserve, especially after all the caveats President Beck mentioned in the press release.

    But as you say, I should wait to reserve judgement.

    Comment by EmJen — August 23, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  13. This manual will likely tap into a previously unrecognized hunger for that kind of thing, Clark. I wonder if anybody is working on something like that? When we heard this book was underway, I asked everybody I could think of who might be in the know about who might be writing it (expecting it to be a committee rather than a single author); nobody I spoke with knew, or even mentioned that so-and-so was working on a parallel, non-manual history.

    EmJen, I think that would have been more accurate, or at least would have held down expectations. I do expect to review this book at least twice more in the future: once as soon as I can read it, and again after it’s been around a while and I can sense what it means to me and how it might be being used by other women.

    This post is admittedly a preliminary, even premature one, about my *expectations* rather than a judgment of the book itself. Just in case there’s any misunderstanding about that — I’m fully aware of and admit how premature this is. And I expect to be able to say very many good things about Daughters in My Kingdom, looking at it for whatever it turns out to be, and not for what I had hoped it might be.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  14. I have seen, but not read, the final version of this book. It looks very nice. I hope it reads as well as it looks. I was put off by the word “recipe” in the headline of the article I read about it in the DesNews. It sounds too cookie-cutter and lock-step. I do think more people will know more about women of the Church and also the RS than they do now, so that is to the good.

    Also, Women of Covenant was an “officially” produced book for the RS sesquicentennial, and was approved all the way up to the First Presidency, so I don’t know where the idea that this is the “first authorized account” comes from (again form the press release). I would suggest Women of Covenant to anyone who wants a fuller history of RS. I guess I’m making more comments about the Church press release than your post. Along with you I’m holding my breath to see what this new book really is.

    Comment by Marjorie Conder — August 23, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  15. I’ve swithered about posting a comment, because I know how much you dislike negativity on Keepa, Ardis. Amy’s first comment cheered me, a good perspective to take. However I do long for the days when this sort of topic might have been considered for a series in the Ensign, and a “History” would have been just that. I can’t help it, I like meat with my milk, and sometimes starvation feels near.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — August 23, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  16. Marjorie, thanks. I’ve heard from one other person who has seen at least some of the pages in a preliminary stage, but not read the text, who is very enthusiastic about the look. If that helps make it attractive to women who might otherwise not pick it up, good for that, at least. And there was another official history, wasn’t there, even before Women of Covenant? I’m visualizing one done in the ’70s, I think, with a greenish and white cover? An oversize, thinnish book?

    Anne, you’re in the same boat with me.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  17. At a regional conference here recently, Sis Beck spoke about being called to the office of one of the Apostles (possibly Packer, my wife doesnt remmeber for sure) and given “several binders full” of RS history that he has collected over the years, saying that he was concerned that we (the RS) were forgetting the history of the RS and could benefit from learning more.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what was produced, and hope that it isnt just a stripped down history.

    And I’ll also add my voice to the thought that you, Adris, would be an excellent choice for writing a multi-volume history of the RS. Hmm, I wonder if we can find a way to mention it to Sis Beck ;)

    Comment by Frank Pellett — August 23, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  18. I can barely remember a green and white thinnish book in the seventies (or more likely 60s). I also have a copy of the official, A Centenury of Relief Society, which was published in 1942 for the RS centennial. It was oversized, thinnish and medium blue with a gold RS seal on the cover. So this new book is not really the first “official history” although it may be the first “correlated” one.

    Comment by Marjorie Conder — August 23, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  19. principles/chris/steve/et al.: You don’t seem to understand that you rub so many bloggers the wrong way because of your basic approach to everything you say — we recognize the attitude long before we realize that it’s the same person hiding behind a new name. Try toning it all down a couple or twelve notches. We are neither idiots nor apostates, languishing in darkness until you come along with your tedious stating of the obvious and not-so-subtle voice of superiority. You’re like that guy everybody has run into, who is auditioning for stake president with a continuous stream of pious judgments, but whom nobody believes or trusts because his behavior doesn’t match his tone. You’re banned from Keepa, and as fast as I discover your other fake names, those will be banned as well.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  20. Ardis,

    I hope it is better than your current expectations. One of the things I most appreciate about your posts and comments on this blog is the unflinching honesty of your statements and observations, your willingness to stand corrected (which rarely happens, from what I have observed), and your continuing desire to see us a a church and society do better in the future by learning real lessons from the past. It’s called integrity, and you have it in abundance.

    One positive thought here is that if we have the same correlated lessons, but illustrated or told from the perspective of the women in church history, that will be a step in the right direction. Using an odd interpretation of the “milk before meat” concept, if all you have is a milk cow, don’t go for the meat until you’ve grown yourself a herd, or you won’t even get any milk. Let’s hope this is a fresh start to help us learn more about the contributions of the women of the church, and eventually, a more complete and thoughtful historian’s history.

    Comment by kevinf — August 23, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  21. It is still unclear to me if this is going to be the RS manual for next year. If not, this book will just be another “True to the Faith”, and forgotten in about 6 months or so, IMO.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 23, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  22. A couple of the pages of the manual are available to read at the press release. It looks like a pleasant little book. From my experience, many members of the church, even women with feminist leanings, aren’t interested in reading histories of women in the church like Women of Covenant, so this might be just what the membership needs.

    Comment by Researcher — August 23, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  23. Thanks for the pre-read review. It will be a rare luxury to be able to compare it with your post-read review.

    After having read President Beck’s short article in the recent Ensign about the importance of RS history, and then reading this description of the DIMK book, I’m left scratching my head. So, I’m very interested in getting my hands on the book.

    Comment by David Y. — August 23, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  24. Re 16 and 18: there’s the history of the Relief Society covering 1842-1966 (c. 1967).

    Comment by Justin — August 23, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  25. Ardis,

    I felt the same way you felt when I read the press release. However, I guess my expectations have been lowering with every Visiting Teaching message this year.

    I guess my heart just hurts in the sense that I don’t feel there is a real understanding of our place as women in Heavenly Father’s plan. I know that sounds horrible, but every conference talk, every lesson on womanhood ends up being this very uncomfortable message to me…it all ends up being so stereotypical, and it all seems to fall short. I was hoping to have something that wouldn’t feel that way and would give me better insight. I’m sure I’ll gain some, but I wish sometimes I could open an Ensign or a talk directed towards my group and feel like it contained real answers.

    I have more to say, but I don’t want to be tangential.

    Comment by Marie — August 23, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

  26. In reading this I did feel very sad for you and your disappointment that the promised history is not really going to be a written history, but something else.
    In reading Sis. Beck’s statement on the church website, however, I think the book might be something positive and useful. Perhaps it is a manual or reference book that has information and acknowledgement of women and the RS that has been invisible to many for a long time. Will it make it easier or more likely for women to quote famous Mormon women of the past in a talk or a lesson? If it brings more visibility to women’s history to the masses, I will consider it a successful, worthwhile venture. I am glad you are trying to adjust your expectations and I appreciate you writing this. I hadn’t really heard about it before yesterday so it was interesting to read what you were hoping for vs. what it seems it will end up being.

    Comment by jks — August 23, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  27. “Sis Beck spoke about being called to the office of one of the Apostles (possibly Packer, my wife doesnt remmeber for sure) and given “several binders full” of RS history that he has collected over the years, saying that he was concerned that we (the RS) were forgetting the history of the RS and could benefit from learning more.”

    Oh for cripes sake.

    Comment by Joe B. — August 24, 2011 @ 12:12 am

  28. #21: True to the Faith is forgotten? No one told my ward. It’s quoted about once a week in at least one of the meetings I attend.

    Comment by Paul — August 24, 2011 @ 6:28 am

  29. agree with MMM that a well-researched, well-written history of the Relief Society would be well received (and sell well to boot. Just look at the study aids Deseret Book promotes every year a new manual comes out.)

    Ardis, talk to an agent. See what kind of an advance they would pay you to do the book you wish had been done.

    What you consistently fail to realize is how compelling your writing can be, how clear your insight and how useful your perspective.

    You also consistently appear to undervalue yourself and the value others would put on what you do.

    Given that there is a void, talk to an agent… If I were closer to FARMS and Welch these days I’d have just written him and asked him to contact you about a joint sponsorship of the book you wish was being written.

    Alas, I fail in that regards, but talk to an agent.

    Clark. I wonder if anybody is working on something like that? When we heard this book was underway, I asked everybody I could think of who might be in the know about who might be writing it (expecting it to be a committee rather than a single author); nobody I spoke with knew, or even mentioned that so-and-so was working on a parallel, non-manual history.

    Comment by Stephen M (ethesis) — August 24, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  30. I appreciate your understanding that this book may fill a need that is not your own.

    Where I live, I doubt that 20% of the sisters know who Eliza R. Snow is. Or that women were physicians in early Utah. This will be a great resource for us.

    The new thing I got from the recent series of VT lessons is that current RS is an extension of women at the time of Christ. Wonder if that will be part of this book?

    Comment by Naismith — August 24, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  31. Ardis, your penultimate paragraph in the OP reminded me of a quote from Spock in Star Trek II.

    “… the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. ”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084726/quotes

    Live long and prosper. :-)

    Comment by Bookslinger — August 24, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  32. Ardis, I share your sadness for the lost opportunity, and hope it will be helpful for women in Amira’s home and elsewhere.

    A slightly different concern I have is that this book will serve to further divide women and men in the church–an unspoken message here is that women’s history is for women, while the men learn the “real” history and doctrine of the church. If this were the curriculum for RS _and_ Priesthood, I think I might feel less bad about the superficiality of it.

    Comment by Kristine — August 24, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  33. Seriously, you should look for an agent and consider writing your own book (if you haven’t already). From what you’ve written here, it’s clear that you have the ideas and expertise to write something that (wouldn’t be canonized as a manual, but) would be a valuable faithful resource.

    Comment by chanson — August 24, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  34. Strongly agree with Kristine.

    I also think Women of Covenant should have been used as the book.what a gem

    Ardis’s comments remind me of a story from David O McKay’s life, as told through Prince’s bio: McKay wanted one of Nibley’s book as curriculum for the next year’s church meetings. The Sunday School board then took the book, gutted it, and made it “approachable” for the average member. Nibley complained about it to McKay, who in turn complained about it to the Board. The Board then said, “But Pres McKay, it will be over everyone’s head!” McKay responded, “Well, then let them reach for it!” I fear we’ve lost that spirit.

    My wife and I have decided to re-read Women of Covenant in our area’s reading group next year.

    Comment by Ben Park — August 24, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  35. Having recently read Women of Covenant I find this post a bit disheartening. It wasn’t so long ago that WoC was published, after all.

    Comment by BHodges — August 24, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  36. Stephen M (ethesis) (29), I have to say that I don’t think finding an agent in the Mormon world is much of an option, and not much of an option in the national market either.

    First, among Mormon publishers, agents are simply not accepted. The largest Mormon publisher have explicit policies that they don’t work with agents. And I’m afraid that most of the books about Mormonism published by non-Mormon publishers are from academic presses, which usually don’t involve agents either.

    I’m afraid that the option of finding and agent for this kind of book is an extremely remote possibility. Someone like Deseret Book is the only current publisher that could take the risk on selling enough copies to offer an advance — and they don’t seem to do that for unproven authors.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — August 25, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  37. The largest Mormon publisher have explicit policies that they don’t work with agents.

    I’m amazed. Deseret Book won’t deal with agents? So all the “one off” books that they publish and all the commissioned biographies are all done without agents, just editors dealing directly with writers?

    Obviously I am seriously illiterate about how that part of the world works.

    Kent, thanks for the update.

    Comment by Stephen M (ethesis) — August 25, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  38. I’m with Kristine. The other thing that bothers me about “women’s” history is that it accentuates the “other”-ness of women. No one will ever give a talk on “Valiant Men in the Scriptures” or “The Men of Church History,” the way they will about women, and I long for the day when men’s and women’s stories are told–to both men and women– without respect to gender–without even needing to bring it up in the title.

    Comment by Amy — August 29, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  39. Sisters, if you don’t know either me or Keepa very well, please think twice about what you attempt to post.

    Keepa is a blog for believing Latter-day Saints, or at least for those who can be civil toward the Church and the beliefs of its members. This post is not an invitation to mock what you call “chicken patriarchy” nor to express every angry opinion you have about anything related to women and the Church.

    Nor am I an arrogant apostate bent on destroying the work of God. Really, I’m not. Take it for granted that I believe as firmly as you do in the inspiration of Church leaders. Daughters in My Kingdom, however, is not a gospel ordinance. If you have daughters (or even an average imagination), you must admit that they have individual needs and preferences, and that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. What right do you have to demand that I humble myself and pretend that your preferences are the only ones that matter?

    Really, if your comment tends to either extreme, you haven’t read carefully enough. You’re reading what you would have written, not what I actually wrote. Extremist comment in any direction are not apt to make it out of the moderation queue and into public view.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 6, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  40. Ardis,

    I had a chance to glance at this new volume over the weekend while visiting my sister (her husband the bishop persuaded the RS president to let him have a copy to look at). My sister in law (former stake RS president in her midwestern stake) and my wife were also very insterested to see it.

    My sister in law observed whatever the book is (and she was very positive), it is not a history. For that, she said, she’d turn to Women of the Covenant (as cited by others above). But both she and my wife (who is in the stake RS presidency in our stake) both agreed it’s quite a good thing for a wide swath of sisters in their respective stakes.

    Looking forward to your post-review review… :-)

    Comment by Paul — September 6, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  41. I’ve been working on it for the past hour, Paul, but it isn’t going very well so I’ll junk it and try again another day. The book is better than I expected in a great many ways … not all.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 6, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  42. Ardis, thanks for the heads up. I’ll resume my breathing instead of holding my breath til it appears… ;-)

    Comment by Paul — September 6, 2011 @ 11:22 am

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