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Daughters in My Kingdom: A Personal Response

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 19, 2011

World War II serves as a setting for Daughters in My Kingdom to present vignettes illustrating “charity in action.” The stories of several European sisters are briefly told as demonstrations of “praiseworthy courage in serving one another in spite of harrowing conditions.” One story is that of Gertrude Zippro:

Gertrude Zippro, another district Relief Society president, walked with God in the darkness many nights to love and serve her sisters. She lived in Holland at a time when the country was under military occupation. Because guards often stopped and searched travelers, she carried identification with her so she could visit branch Relief Societies in the district.

Sister Zippro’s son John said that it “became increasingly dangerous to be out at night as the occupation continued for five years.” Remembering his mother’s dedication, he said, “Can you imagine my mother braving those circumstances and going out at night on her bike many times, to visit another branch?” He recalled: “No matter how she felt or what the circumstances, she would take care of her obligation. What a great woman and leader she was! There is no doubt in my mind now that she was hand-picked by the Lord to be the Relief Society President at that time.”

Sister Zippro’s son observed, “She must have had complete trust in the Lord to go time after time under those conditions, not knowing what problems she would encounter.”

If this were all we knew of Sister Zippro, we would think that her greatest wartime trial was having to carry ID with her as she rode her bike from one Relief Society meeting to another. Yes, her country was occupied and yes, she could be stopped and searched, but is carrying ID and going out at night really all that big a sacrifice, even in wartime?

We’ve talked about Geertruida Lodder Zippro before (at Times and Seasons, before Keepa’s inception). Her greatest burden was hardly being under the necessity of carrying her papers with her. Go read her story. We’ll wait for you.

You’ve read it now? Does carrying ID sound like a sacrifice after you know she rode directly into the danger and confusion of an active war zone the morning after 30,000 of her countrymen were killed in a surprise bombing raid? Does “going out at night on her bike” sound like much when you imagine her bicycling on country roads with wired-on garden hose taking the place of bicycle tires? Does visiting “another branch” sound like much work without knowing that her district encompassed an entire nation?

Sister Zippro’s story is an easy hook on which to base this review because I can compare the version told in Daughters in My Kingdom with the version available after a little archival research. The account in Daughters of My Kingdom is representative – for me – of the entire book: It’s true, it’s okay, but I want more. I need more. I am grateful that I’m in a position to find more.

I write that admitting that I may not be fully representative of the women of the Church. When I try to put myself in the place of the General Relief Society Presidency, knowing the varied conditions of women around the world, I can suppose that there might be good reasons for using these tamer statements by Sister Zippro’s son rather than the more dramatic incidents I researched and which personally I find so inspiring. Telling the more dramatic story might, perhaps, be misinterpreted in modern war zones as implying that the Church always expects women to risk their lives while the bombs are still dropping. Or it might have been felt that some women would throw up their hands and say “Oh, she was wonderful, but I could never do anything like that!” which could defeat the purpose of including her story at all. It may be that the Presidency felt that stressing Sister Zippro’s ongoing attention to duty, her willingness to serve despite personal inconvenience, were the most important parts of her story, the most useful to modern women. Perhaps there were other reasons. If so, I admit that they are in a better position than I am to know what would be most useful to the greatest number of readers, and I won’t second-guess them as far as the whole Church goes. For me, in my circumstances, though, I wanted more than this story gives me.

That pretty well sums up my response to Daughters in My Kingdom as a whole. I wanted more. I needed more. It may all be true, it may all be good, it may all be beautiful, but I wanted more.

I realized that in opening lines where the author describes the Savior’s relationship to the women he encountered during his mortal ministry.

The Savior taught women in multitudes and as individuals, on the street and by the seashore, at the well and in their homes. He showed loving-kindness toward them and healed them and their family members. In many parables, He told stories of women engaged in ordinary activities. He demonstrated deep familiarity with women’s lives and drew timeless gospel lessons from their everyday experiences. He forgave them. He wept with them. He had compassion on them in their specific circumstances as daughters, wives, homemakers, mothers, and widows. He appreciated them and ennobled them.

Even while reading those lines, some part of my brain was trying to find examples to support those statements. I can think of occasions when he was in close proximity to women, teaching them and speaking to them, and not treating them as inferiors or unclean beings – think of the woman with the issue of blood whom he stopped to speak to rather than pulling away when she touched the hem of his garment, and the woman he allowed to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. As for familiarity with women’s everyday experiences, think of the parables he told regarding a woman’s search for her lost coin, and about leavening flour. Recognizing their specific circumstances in their life roles, though? Examples to support some of those roles (mother, widow) come to mind easily, but I’m in the dark as to how he recognized other roles, including daughter (which is the only listed role that I can personally identify with). I can do the research to find those stories, if I want to. Will other women do that? Or will most of us be satisfied with the bare assertion that those things are so?

I can imagine critics thinking I’m being too petty here. It is not a single occurrence, though – this paragraph is merely representative of dozens? scores? of points in the book where I needed more. My experiences and temperament don’t allow me to settle for history by assertion, or religion by assertion. I don’t want my history or my doctrine second-hand that way. I need to know where ideas come from, why the book makes those claims, whether those things are true … and Daughters in My Kingdom gives me very little help in knowing where ideas come from or whether claims are true, because so little detail, so few examples, and almost no scriptural or prophetic sources, are given. If it’s true, for example, as this book claims, that “Women in the Church play essential roles in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation – just as important as the roles played by men who hold the priesthood,” I need to know what roles those are, or at least which roles are open to me. Priesthood is not. Motherhood is not. Leadership is not (at least, there has been no sign so far that leadership is an available role – I wasn’t even a class officer in any MIA class, much less had the adult opportunity to serve in any position that could remotely be considered leadership). What roles can I play that are “just as important” as exercising the priesthood? Why make that claim without explanation and example?

There is a section explicitly directed toward single women:

Many Latter-day Saints have never been married. Others are single because of the death of a spouse, abandonment, or divorce. Like all members of the Church, these members will be blessed as they remain faithful to their covenants and do all they can to strive for the ideal of living in an eternal family. They can enjoy the blessings, strength, and influence of the priesthood in their lives and homes through the ordinances they have received and the covenants they keep.

Well, good. At least they acknowledge the existence of single sisters. But Daughters in My Kingdom again leaves me craving more What can I do “to strive for the ideal of living in an eternal family”? I believe blessings do result from remaining faithful to covenants, but as a practical matter that belief is merely theoretical at this point in my life – how am I blessed for faithfulness?

The section on single sisters goes on to assure us that we preside in our homes. Oh, goody. Since the only alternative president in my home is my cat, I’m glad to know that the presiding role doesn’t belong to him even if he IS male. Okay, I’m being silly. Or bitter. Or snarky. Or something. But what does it mean to say I preside in my home? I wish the book hadn’t stopped with the bald assertion, but had gone on to explain what that means, and what, if anything, are the benefits of being my own president. It doesn’t, though. As on virtually every other point, Daughters in My Kingdom makes the assertion without explanation, without example, and leaves me crying for more.

One instance where the book does succeed fairly well, I think, is in the section “Glimpses of Heaven.” “Throughout the world,” it says, “Relief Society sisters and their families have drawn near to heaven by the way they have lived.” This is followed by eight, if I counted right, vignettes of unnamed sisters in various parts of the world who did such ordinary and unremarkable things as taking care of children, cultivating gardens, visiting teaching, and maintaining a home atmosphere conducive to scripture study. These are all the ordinary things I like to celebrate when I can find a story showing how some Latter-day Saint becomes extraordinary simply by doing what needs to be done. I think my stories – focusing on specific incidents, and naming names – do a better job of helping readers connect with the lives of our fellow Saints, but these examples, anonymous as they are, still sufficiently illustrate the idea that simply living lives of humble, clean, and productive service, no matter that – no, especially when – that service is so ordinary and routine as to seem unremarkable, is heavenly.

I suspect that Keepa’ninnies waiting for this review anticipated that I would review the historical sections about Relief Society bazaars, and building hospitals, and saving wheat, and interacting with national and international women’s groups. I could have done that, but it will be more interesting to most of you, I think, if I simply write the posts I’ve been threatening for months to write: somewhat more expansive accounts of those various activities. As with the rest of the book, I think the accounts of those activities in Daughters in My Kingdom are generally correct (except insofar as simplification and brevity create misleading impressions in a couple of cases) – as with everything else, though, what this book narrates in a single sentence leaves me needing more.

Instead of reviewing Daughters in My Kingdom as an historian might review it, I’ve read it and thought about it as an individual woman, as a random reader for whom this book was written and distributed. I have that right – the book was intended to me as a female Church member as much as it was intended for a widow in Mongolia or a young wife in Ireland or a convert in Chile or a third-generation member in Australia. (In other words, please don’t respond to this review by telling me I need to remember that Daughters in My Kingdom was written for sisters all over the world in whatever conditions they live – I am one of those sisters, after all.) It doesn’t satisfy me – but not because it is wrong, or inaccurate, or preachy, or anything else like that. It doesn’t satisfy me, because it leaves me hungry. I need more. Have I said that enough? I. Need. More. Just as I don’t feel inspired by the published version of Sister Zippro’s story because I realize how shallow and incomplete it is, I don’t feel inspired, really, by unexplained and unsupported assertions that God loves me or that I have a meaningful role in the Kingdom. You can tell me that that is so, but that doesn’t make me feel it, or believe it, or know it, or be moved by it. I need the details for that to happen.

Fortunately, I’m in a position to help myself supply what is missing fromDaughters in My Kingdom, whether what is missing is examples from the scriptures, or examples from history. I have the interest and the inclination and the incentive and the education and the access to do that. The constant need for something to post on Keepa has driven me to do more of that in the past few years than I might ordinarily have done.

I don’t have any idea how other individual women will respond to Daughters in My Kingdom. It’s a different kind of writing than anything I’ve ever judged before – a manual that is intended to be read rather than merely taught from (and, incidentally, it was much easier to read in the Kindle version I made for myself by stripping out all the distracting illustrations and captions); a Church book that we’re all supposed to read and study (kind of like scripture, only without the divine weight of scripture); a history but one without scholarly argument, structure, or apparatus; a devotional book, but one which draws from the lives of contemporary women rather than from the lives and words of prophets, ancient or modern. This is less a review than one individual’s response to the book as a whole.

It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just doesn’t satisfy. I need more.



34 Comments »

  1. I did a fireside last week introducing this book to a ward (not my ward). I took those general statements in the first chapter and shared NT stories that illustrate them.

    I am glad that they went for big principles and not just isolated examples, but I wish that they had made “the more” that you speak of accessible. For the NT chapter, it would have been very easy to have footnotes. For the rest, perhaps a website with “the rest of the story”?

    Comment by Julie M. Smith — October 19, 2011 @ 7:54 am

  2. I like the image of “walk[ing] with God in the darkness” but it is just a bit unsettling to read in the next paragraph of her having done all that “walking” on her bicycle.

    It’s too bad that more of the story wasn’t told–it would only have required the addition of a few words, describing the distances she traveled and her perseverance despite the dangers and the difficulties.

    And, what’s with the change of her name? Even if she changed her name after emigrating to the U.S., wasn’t she Geertruida while serving as the Relief Society president in the Netherlands?

    Comment by Mark B. — October 19, 2011 @ 8:15 am

  3. As I hear you asking for more, I am struck that “more” is exactly what you give us in these pages on Keepa. I have to remember when PH or SS lessons leave me asking for more, what do I do to provide that “more”? Am I helping or just taking the lazy way out?

    I am also reminded of the parable of the talents. I suspect that had you been the servant given only one talent, you would have returned ten. A fine review, and a reminder of the example you set.

    Comment by kevinf — October 19, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  4. Ardis, your example and dedication to finding out the “more” is what keeps me coming back to this blog. I think this is true for all who read your posts.

    What you are able to do (and yes, I am somewhat envious that you have the resources available to you because of where you are) helps those of us who cannot (not because of lack of desire to do but sheer physical barriers) access those resources to find out more about those matters which we also want and need “more”.

    So THANK YOU! If I haven’t told you enough, thank you for all you do to bring these matters to life in all the lives of those who have found your blog.

    Comment by Cliff — October 19, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  5. I appreciate your kind words at this very moment more than you can possible know.

    I suspect that my honesty and openness with posts like this one have played a role in my losing an opportunity this morning that I had been counting on — and, frankly, desperately needed. There are people who are rewarded for wearing masks and hiding behind false names, and I am glad not to be among them.

    Pray for me. I’m going to need it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 19, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  6. I’ve been lurking on your blog for a little while now… I just love the way you write things. I think I’m like you in that I need more than just the fluffy pictures, the shallow analogies, the skeleton stories that we’re given so often. I’m reading Daughters in My Kingdom right now and having the same thoughts.

    Is it naive of me to wonder why the church can’t provide different resources for different parts of the world? I’m sure it’s something to do with uniformity, but come on… Is church membership uniform? It makes no sense to me that we would expect a book like this to satisfy women who come from cultures that have almost nothing in common, from completely different levels of understanding, knowledge, and experience.

    Comment by Miri — October 19, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  7. Someday they will need to do a second edition of Daughters in my Kingdom and you should write it.

    Sorry about the lost opportunity. But as you know better than most, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.

    Comment by John Willis — October 19, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  8. I love you Ardis.

    Comment by HokieKate — October 19, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  9. Ardis: I wish you the best with the opportunities.

    Conference weekend I gave Daughter of the Kingdom a quick read; I read some sections quickly and skimmed over others. That said, I was underwhelmed with the section on the RS in Europe during World War II which I did read with some interest and anticipation. I do know much about Sister Zippro, but I do know a little about Sister Speidel from Germany. She served for many years as RS president of the Stuttgart district before and during the war. She faced many challenges as RS president which were not addressed in the book but could have been enriching and inspiring nonetheless. Her husband was a non-member and her son was in the Afrika Korps. A discussion of these pressures, I think, would have been enlightening. I also would have liked to have seen a discussion of the work of future RS presidents with Hull House. And, of course, I would have liked to have seen more balance between the 19th century and the 20th century. (So often it seems Church history ends in the 19th century).

    Comment by Steve C. — October 19, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  10. Oh, one other thought. I wish the book would have covered some specific things the RS and some women did in Europe during World War II. For example, the German RS, in conjunction with the German missions, set up several warehouses throughout Germany to collect and distribute food, clothing, and furniture to members who had lost their homes in air-raids. Also, Sister Erna Klopfer, wife of acting mission president Herbert Klopfer did some extraordinary things for the mission after her husband was called up for military duty. To me this would be more substantive and inspriational than the brief paragraph or two about the European sister included in the book. IMHO

    Comment by Steve C. — October 19, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  11. #9: It should read “I do not know much about Sister Zippro.” Sorry.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 19, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  12. Ardis,
    Blessings and good wishes for your courage, honesty and openness. I’m sad for the consequence it has cost you. Lots of platitudes are flying through my brain like ‘Honesty is its own reward’ or ‘the Lord looketh upon the heart,’ etc. But they’re all about as satifying as ‘things will be better when you’re dead.’ :(

    Comment by charlene — October 19, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  13. Loved this. That is all. :)

    Comment by Alyssa E. — October 19, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  14. Ardis for General Relief Society President!

    Comment by andrew h — October 19, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  15. I suppose for a book that never pretends to be a scholarly work, it’s only appropriate for any review to be personal in nature. So, thanks for this intriguing and personal review. And I agree with the previous commenter that one day you should write a second volume.

    Sorry for the lost opportunity. Being able to look at yourself in the mirror is sometimes cold comfort when faced with paying the bills.

    Comment by David Y. — October 20, 2011 @ 1:42 am

  16. I like your ideas, Ardis, because they often put into concrete words some of my still-vague feelings, and you always address them with fairness and compassion. In this case, for example, I felt a general dissatisfaction with Daughters in My Kingdom, but couldn’t articulate why, and so my only response was to mock it (juvenile, I know). You, on the other hand identified precisely why it was dissatisfying and did so while simultaneously acknowledging some justifications for why it might be that way. In other words, I want to be more like you, and reading Keepa is part of that attempt.

    Comment by Amy — October 20, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  17. Thank you all (except maybe andrew h, who nominates me for a role I wouldn’t want!). Amy, I couldn’t have asked for a better summary of what I try to do, whether or not I succeed. Thank you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 20, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  18. That you for linking to the wonderful post I missed. I was somewhat ill at ease when my daughter visiting from college unearthed DOMK from my church/nursery bag. Which in all truth I haven’t perused, were she to read it I know she would want more as well. All I could say was it is a good first step, hoping that was true. I had the same feeling when I read you illustrations review of the manual. I feel like it is an overdue work due to a glaring omission in our church history studies. My feeling is that it was put together with the best if intentions but at a speedy pace and pushed to realease to fill a gaping void. I hope it will be followed by a volume that is more substantial. That is what I hope and pray. I haven’t read much of anything this past summer because I like to think that I’ve been called to live the my religion in substantially different ways than I thought I would be these last few months. Sometimes you don’t see the miracle of it all when you are in the messy middle of living it. Not that I’ve diverged from standard practices in my weekly worship but by opening my home to a sister in my family, in the gospel, but not by blood. As she has needed to be closer to medical care and also needed her family to be with her. Then needing to undergo unplanned major surgery myself two weeks after she did in the midst of helping to care for her. Then she became caregiver for me (while still recovering herself) and then we together minded the ten children between us, not understating the role the of the two husbands and even the ward family played in providing the ten meals for the 14 people. Crazy but real (and still happening) in my tiny little home. A profound prolonged messy arduous miracle. When I read real stories that contain a little more depth about how my sisters in the faith have lived the gospel in inspiring ways, that on the face in crazy circumstances and seem beyond what they would have before imagined for themselves, because it as the Spirit bid them to do so it inspires me now more than ever. All women live richer more complicated lives than it seems on the surface and when those lives are lived in the context of the faith that I’m living I want to know I want to connect with them I want to understand them I want to be sisters in the kingdom with them. So I hope this is an introduction to their stories, like polite introductory conversation. I hope we will get the opportunity as a church to get to know them individually better.

    Comment by Dovie — October 20, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  19. Thank you for linking to that previous post. There were plenty of other typos in my comment but the Thank You! needed to be clear. :)

    Comment by Dovie — October 20, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  20. I really enjoyed your review, Ardis. I particularly liked this point:

    My experiences and temperament don’t allow me to settle for history by assertion, or religion by assertion.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your lost opportunity. I hope good things come to you to replace it!

    Comment by Ziff — October 21, 2011 @ 12:54 am

  21. I skimmed it and didn’t know how to put my reaction into words. Your words express what I felt upon said skim.

    You have my prayers as to your lost opportunity and my hope that you will be able to find something else.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — October 21, 2011 @ 5:54 am

  22. Thank you for writing this, Ardis. I’ve struggled with my feelings about DIMK. Underwhelmed and wishing for more are probably two good ways to describe them. It really wasn’t what I was expecting when compared to Sister Beck’s talks. I almost wonder if, after correlation, the original idea was watered down and qualified so much as to make it nearly useless.

    I do have to say this, though: I think the concept of a Relief Society that is a true sisterhood of support and charitable service is the heart of the message. That is a concept I have been noticing a need for over the past few years. So, I appreciate that. I just had a hard time with the very narrowly defined roles of women. Should I? Is it time to just accept that and move on? I don’t know. I decided to put the book away and move on to thinking about something else.

    It seems that a lot of women are underwhelmed with the book.

    Comment by Stephanie — October 21, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  23. Stephenie, someone gave a General Conference talk a handful of years ago — wish I could remember who, and find it — that left me with the feeling that Relief Society should be considered a quorum for the sisters the same as priesthood quorums are for brethren — something about belonging to the Relief Society, not merely attending a Sunday class. As I remember it, and hope I would still feel if someone points me to it today to reread, I, too, caught briefly the vision of Relief Society as that sisterhood, something that clearly underlies this book/manual/history/whatever we want to call it.

    Then last night I was rereading recent VT messages. The one from June on temporal self-reliance has this paragraph: “In Relief society, we are taught self-reliance principles and skills. sisters can learn about budgeting, debt relief, employment qualifications, the scriptures and the gospel, teaching others to read and learn, technology, physical health, fitness, addiction prevention and recovery, social and emotional health, preventing illness, gardening, food production and storage, emergency preparedness, and many other things that will help us become self-reliant.” We do talk about the gospel, and do a fourth-rate job of learning about the scriptures, and every few months there’s some event where we can buy stuff from the church cannery for food storage, but other than that I can’t remember the last time any of those topics was addressed, even obliquely, in my ward.

    I think that, like this neglect of the possibilities for teaching self-reliance, whether or not Relief Society is a true sisterhood depends almost entirely on local conditions and how well the program is put into practice. Maybe with DIMK Sister Beck is trying to inspire local units to do more and be more, by at least getting the attention of local groups with this new approach, and reminding us what we can and should be doing.

    I’m rambling, sorry. Not much sleep recently.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 21, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  24. Ardis, was it “Relief Society – Its Promise and Potential” by Spencer W. Kimball in the Ensign in March 1976? One of my VTs (who knows my feminist dark-side) gave me a copy of it earlier this year. After finishing DIMK and feeling thoroughly discouraged, I got out that talk and read it again. It is a powerful vision of women and Relief Society and our potential.

    Comment by Stephanie — October 21, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  25. The one I’m remembering wasn’t that long ago, but I’ll pull up and read the one you identify — it may be what I need even thought it’s a different speaker. Thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 21, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  26. I picked up my first copy of DIMK about a month ago in Relief Society meeting and browsed through it and was not instantly attracted. Back in my graphic design days, we broke up our book layouts with lots of illustrations, sidebars, and visual gewgaws when we wanted to capture the attention of readers we couldn’t count on to care about the material, and also when we had an underlying agenda, usually to sell something, but often to teach something that they might be resistant to otherwise. That sort of design is also the standard for children’s material, as you pointed out. So I automatically felt wary of the book.

    I gave away that copy to a lady I visit teach, and I commented about it based on that first perusal. I kept reading conflicting comments about it, raising my interest to get beyond my first impression, so one evening I went to our meetinghouse and poked around until, sure enough, I found one that someone had abandoned.

    I’ve given it a much more thorough inspection, but I can’t say that I’ve changed my mind a great deal, and I really wanted to whole-heartedly like it. I will say that I am blown away by the amount of care in preparation that it shows; it is rather magnificent in a fancy, Sunday-dress sort of way. The layout brings to mind a well-dressed table at a North American Relief Society meeting, with not just any old tablecloth you find in the RS closet, but the one on which your great-grandmother lovingly hand-crocheted the edge, and plenty of fascinating artifacts that illustrate the point of the lesson. No expense or careful effort has been spared: The book itself has die-cut rounded corners, which are not at all necessary, but a very nice touch. Each chapter has its own color theme, and they aren’t the YW colors, these are sophisticated jewel tones. It was printed with at least a 4 color press, and probably more. Every single page has a faint pattern printed onto it that changes with each chapter. The photography for each chapter title is a work of art unto itself, and the rest of the plentiful photos and illustrations are well-designed, thoughtfully chosen, and fully captioned. And the editorial work that is evident — Holy Gutenberg! I can promise you that this publication has been proofread thoroughly. Many times. By professionals. Not only is there an index, but footnotes by chapter, an index of all the visual elements with full information and credits, an illustrated timeline (with those visuals indexed too), and a list of the General Presidencies and the women who served in them. There are plenty of subheads and sidebars and pull quotes to help us along.

    The only letdown is in the content. Ardis, you already got to the heart of the main problems with the content. On every page we are told how much we are loved, cherished, and valued, and how great is our calling, but those sentiments are not made real (to me at least) by details of how and why. This is by design, as stated in the preface: “The value of this book is not so much in the dates and facts it provides but in the purposes, principles, and patterns it teaches.” So it is a fancy handbook for sisters, that doesn’t delve too deeply into any of the really unpleasant difficulties women face in the church, either past or present. It’s kind of mind-boggling to read the glossed-over description of the Relief Society being disbanded by Brigham Young, deftly stated (and yet not stated) in a single sentence. All through the book are bits and pieces of facts, and allusions to real life hardship that could tell a poignant story, but instead are bowdlerized to better serve to teach only “purposes, principles, and patterns.”

    I think I can find value in this publication, inasmuch as it helps me keep covenants and guides me in setting priorities, but I’d rather just go to the scriptures for that, and cobble together a library of other books, blogs (like Keepa!), and documents from which to learn about the real deal of history, plain and unadorned as best I can find it, which is the way I can most clearly see it, and perhaps glean something useful from it.

    I apologize for my long rambling comment.

    Comment by Mommie Dearest — October 22, 2011 @ 4:24 am

  27. Ardis, I’m glad you write this blog.

    Comment by Jeannine L. — October 22, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  28. Ardis, I think the talk you’re referring to might be Elder Packer in April 1998; at least, he says something like what you’re saying. It’s also quoted in DiMK near the end of the book.

    Comment by Amira — October 23, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  29. J. Max Wilson, over at http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/downloadable-pdf-of-new-daughters-in-my-kingdom-manual-for-lds-women

    wrote that Susan Tanner was the sole author of DIMK.

    Comment by Bookslinger — October 24, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

  30. Susan Tanner wrote it, but I am sure it passed through many editorial reviews before publication.

    Comment by Stephanie — October 25, 2011 @ 7:22 am

  31. Am preparing a lesson for tomorrow’s RS using DIMK. I find the book perfect. For those who can only digest “milk” (as my audience tomorrow) it provides just that – for those who are ready to eat meat – it lends to personal searching and striving to get that “meat” – sounds like it has given you the opportunity to eat meat – not spoon fed, but to search for yourself and get that “more” you so desparately need.

    Comment by Debbie C — December 31, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

  32. Debbie, I didn’t see your comment when posted.

    For Debbie, and for all future commenters, it would be really, really appreciated if, when you disagree with my assessment, you were to support your own assessment. In this case, what makes the book “perfect” for you and your ward sisters? Something like “The book meets my needs because it addresses issues X, Y and Z,” or “… because I learned that Sister X, like me, has struggled with and overcome issue Y,” or something.

    When you just say “I liked the book” or “I find the book perfect,” it is the equivalent of my saying “I hated the book” or “I find the book to be absolute garbage” (neither of which statements reflects my views, please be clear). I pointed out specific places in the book where the discussion stopped before it reached the point that I needed to read, and specific places where the book was too general for me to understand and I needed illustrative examples.

    That, not a mere “I disagree,” is what is needed from commenters. Thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  33. Hello Ladies! So happy to have found this post even if I’m a few years late! An email went out recently in our ward telling the RS members that reading this book was going to be our summer project. Now, I have not been an active member for many years and consider myself well out the door but keep trying to find a reason to believe ever once in a while and saw this invitation to read this book as one of those opportunities. I’m almost finished with chapter five and my goodness! Sometimes, I just have to wonder why?! So I started googling and found this site. Ardis, you said it perfectly! Where is the MORE and, I would like to add, where is the TRUTH? So many, many references to Eliza R. Snow but now one that mentions that she was Birgham’s wife through all of this and was Joseph’s before that. As was Zina. For a book that boasts the merits of Polygamy why not include that fact? Why not include the doctrine of Polyandry? These things happened but are left out. In the section that discusses the disbanding of the RS by Brigham Young, as you mentioned Ardis, why not give the full story? Include Brigham’s quote about how when he needs the help of the women, he’ll ask for it! Why state the disbanding as being necessary? This was a time of huge upheaval, sorrow and loss for the women of the church. If ever there was a time for them to be able to meet together as women for support, commiseration, and inspiration, this was it!! And yet the book makes it sound like it was Divinely stated that there was no possible way for the RS to continue. Simply not true. I could go on but won’t. I don’t see myself ever coming back to this church out of belief. I have found so much peace, love, guidance and understanding of what it means to be a Daughter of God in church and books in the Christian realm outside of the LDS church. But, as my husband is still a believer, I keep trying. Keep hoping. This book was huge disappointment. It’s encouraging though, to see that there are women in the church who feel the same way. Peace and God’s Blessings to you all.

    Comment by Hillary Haskett — June 25, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

  34. Hillary, you have misunderstood my desire for “more.” I wrote, more than once, that I was not reviewing this book as a historian, but as a believing woman in the Church who needed more depth in the devotional aspects of Daughters in My Kingdom: Don’t just tell me that the Savior felt such-and-such a way toward women; show me some examples so I can think about them and how they fit my circumstances. Don’t just assert that Mormon women are blessed in such-and-such a way, but demonstrate that to me. Give me some depth.

    The kinds of historical faults you see would not fill in those depths for me. You and I, and many, many others, already know that Zina was the wife of both Joseph and Brigham, but that little factoid does not contribute to the depth which I crave – it has nothing to do with my life, my faith, my relationship to the Savior, my participation in the living Church. Neither, frankly, do any of the other historical gaps you use as examples of this book’s shortcomings.

    “Depth” is not at all the same as “warts.” Warts are as shallow as whitewash.

    Our dissatisfaction with Daughters in My Kingdom apparently comes from two different directions. I don’t mind that you have given your personal view here, but I certainly want to clarify that your view is not at all my view.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 26, 2014 @ 7:43 am

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