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Still, Downing parts ways with Ordain Women organizers when they try to bring about change in the church through "faithful agitation," listed as an objective for the Six Discussions.
These feminists’ "efforts to agitate are alienating mainstream LDS women who see them as demanding and attempting to unrighteously usurp power and authority," Downing says. "That estimation may be unfair, but it exists nonetheless."
Ordain Women’s ‘Six Discussions’
This series will feature one discussion each Thursday for the next six weeks, led by Ordain Women organizers and conducted via Google Hangout (with live-streaming through http://ordainwomen.org and from Ordain Women’s YouTube channel at bit.ly/1opIxz6):
Discussion One — See the Symptoms
Was live on May 22 (recorded video is available on YouTube)
Covering the concept of institutional patriarchy and how it affects women and men unequally.
Discussion Two — Know The History
May 29 at 7 p.m. MDT
Covering the history of Mormon priesthood ordination.
Discussion Three — Study the Scriptures
June 5 at 7 p.m. MDT
Exploring the theological underpinnings of priesthood and ordination.
Discussion Four — Revel in Revelation
June 12 at 7 p.m. MDT
Examining how revelation operates within the LDS faith.
Discussion Five — Visualize Our Potential
June 19 at 7 p.m. MDT
Encouraging supporters to imagine the day women will be ordained and the blessings that could follow.
Discussion Six — Be the Change
June 26 at 7 p.m. MDT
Source: Ordain Women
Ordain Women’s discussion objectives
» To foster conversations that help people reflect on their own thoughts and experiences.
» To reaffirm our faith in God and testimony of continuing revelation.
» To encourage continued membership and full fellowship in the LDS Church as we explore the topic of women’s ordination.
» To effect change through faithful agitation as a united group of LDS women.
Source: Ordain Women
In a lengthy blog post, titled "Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model," Downing argued that "you can’t serve or help people who reject that service and help. ... If female ordination is to come, in whatever its form, it will come only when we mortals want the blessing. It seems counterintuitive to me that Heavenly Father would force a blessing when the majority of his followers are arguing that they don’t need it."
Diane Tueller Pritchett, a music teacher and former LDS Relief Society president in the Boston area, sees similarities between Ordain Women discussion groups and those proposed in Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book, "Lean In."
Pritchett, who spends part of the year in Utah, appreciates the topics and extensive research in the first discussion packet.
"It does confirm, however, that this is a political action activity," Pritchett says, " — organize, produce talking points, reach out to get others to join."
In the end, though, "I don’t want the ordination of women to come via political action," she says. "I want it to come via revelation. I recognize that God can’t reveal an answer to a question until we ask the question so I appreciate that there are people asking the question."
Mormons should be "talking and praying and asking and working together," Pritchett says. "The way I differ with [Ordain Women] is that we should also be waiting for answers. It is what we do while waiting that matters. Are we building Zion while waiting or hurting Zion?"
She says the question comes back to a stance she adopted years ago: "Be the change from within while waiting for God to speak."
"Be the change" is, in fact, Ordain Women’s final discussion topic.
The group’s founder acknowledges that the language of social activism is unfamiliar to most Mormon women, but she believes it is useful to borrow vocabulary and tactics from activist efforts.
"Part of what we are doing is new in every conceivable way," Kelly says, "For women to take direct action and communicate their message with their bodies and showing up in the tradition of social movements is 100 percent new."
It is, she says, "revolutionary."
And, Ordain Women backers hope, revelatory — since all they’re asking is for the LDS prophet to inquire of the Lord.
Of course, they want God’s answer to be yes.
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