Mercedes White French Macarons, Nov. 18-19, Bijou Market, Provo

16 Nov

My lovely friend Mercedes makes the most delicious macarons! Not only is she a professional baker, but she’s also a Columbia grad. Watch out, non-Ivy-League macaron-makers. She studies ritualized violence against women in the Middle East, and she’s going to post for Scholaristas if I can get my act together. Anyhow, she will be at Bijou Market in Provo this weekend and you should go check her macarons out!

Oh, and here’s an adorable video of Mercedes sharing her macaron-making wisdom with some other bloggers.

Mercedes White Macarons- Blogger night from Collin Kartchner on Vimeo.


Moosejaw’s Sexy New Ad Campaign and Miss Representation

16 Nov

My husband and I occasionally shop at Moosejaw, a clothing chain that conveniently has a store in Ann Arbor and boasts fantastic sales.  Somehow we ended up on their e-mail list.  Today we got an e-mail saying that Moosejaw was releasing an app that will allow you to see their models nearly naked.  That’s right.  If you were looking through your catalog and thinking, “Man, the layers on these girls totally obstructs their hotness!” Moosejaw has designed an app that will allow you to see right through their warm winter coat, wool sweater and long johns to the lacy black bra they were wearing underneath.  (For an article on the ad campaign, see: OR to see the images, type Moosejaw Nearly Naked Modeling into your Google Search engine.)


This announcement comes on the heals of Oprah’s re-showing of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about the sexualization of girls in today’s media and the effects that it has had on their beliefs about the leadership abilities of women.  The statistics are depressing.    American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, and 10 hours online each week.  Most of those hours will spent watching Jessica Simpson parading around in her Daisy Dukes, Flavor Flav choosing from an array of big-busted, scantily clad woman, and the girls of Jersey Shore grinding on each other.  Even those parents who have banned MTV and VH1 from their households will be battling with movies and TV shows that suggest that the prime concern of most women is dating or getting married.  Newscasters have called Hillary Clinton haggard, asked Sarah Palin if she’s had breast implants, and referred to Condoleeza Rice as a dominatrix.  The film juxtaposes these images with the fact that there is a massive gender gap among 15 year olds who want to be President despite that equal numbers of boys and girls want to be president when they are 7.  The film also points out that only 17% of the U.S. Congress is female and that the last elections actually decreased that percentage.

There will be a screening of the film in Ogden, UT in the Chamber Auditorium at Weber State University on December 1st.  You can also volunteer to host a screening.

To find out more information about the film or to view a trailer, visit:

I should mention the Moosejaw app lets you see men and women in their skivvies.  The ad I received featured a female model – of course.  I only found out about the male models by searching.

Facebook and techno-theology

11 Nov

I am breaking up with Facebook for now. This is an ambivalent decision. I have tried retrenchments and retreats before and have inevitably failed to restrain myself for very long. Truth is, I am a chronic user. It’s sort of funny to me that I have become one since I initially resisted joining the site for so long.

What I like about Facebook: I like the camaraderie and the networked friendships. I like meeting people virtually before I meet them in person. I like the interesting articles and videos people post. I love the instantaneous response and rapid-fire conversations. In some ways it’s an introvert’s social paradise. As one who can hardly manage being in a group of five or more, it is easier for me to maintain frequent contact with many from a distance. I like being able to have a virtual Rolodex (and this is the only reason I will not completely delete my account–for now–but only deactivate it) of all my contacts and friends with whom I have no contact otherwise.

What I dislike about Facebook: When I am not feeling well about myself, Facebook acts as a stimulant and a depressant,  temporarily boosting my ego before I despond again. I keep returning because I want to stay in touch with people. Whenever I begin my inevitable retreat from Facebook, I fear that I will be hurting someone’s feelings when I disappear from their friend list. Like it or not, virtual relationships have the emotional ties of friendships maintained in person. Those ties are real and important and something I take seriously. Then there’s the time spent. It consumes my mind in an unhealthy way and becomes an easy excuse not to think about more important things. It takes time away from healthy human relationships and personal growth in other areas. So, I am quitting for now. Buy me a patch for social network withdrawal (blogs are another form of social network, which I will ignore for the purpose of finishing this post).

The fear of missing out (FOMO), is what Wes Avram, a Presbyterian minister, suggests is perhaps the power driving Facebook, even more than the desire for social connection. His article “Connecting with a Theology of Technology” is featured in an issue of Reflections, the YDS magazine, a copy of which came for me by post. The entire issue is on technology and its implications for Christian ministry. Avram is asking for critical engagement with the ways that technology is influencing us, rather than simply accepting developing technology automatically as the status quo. And, of course of interest to me, Avram asks about its theological implications and the cost to religious life. Continue reading

Women and Creativity Conference Program (Nov. 3-5 at BYU)

2 Nov

Thanks to Monica Bowen of Alberti’s Window for passing along the program for the Women and Creativity Conference at BYU this week. The program looks fantastic and includes papers on various topics that would be wonderful fodder for lovers of Women’s Studies. Go hear Monica’s paper Friday morning, too!

From the website: “The BYU Women’s Studies Conference on Women and Creativity, an interdisciplinary conference, will feature speakers from a variety of universities. Panels will treat many topics, including literature, visual arts, film, music, engineering, anthropology, and other fields. Conference highlights will include a plenary speaker, Dr. Susan Pickett--Catharine Chism Professor of Music Theory and Violin, a music recital by concert pianist Stephen Beus, and exhibits in the BYU Museum of Art, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, and the Harold B. Lee Library.

“The conference is free of charge. All students, faculty, and visitors are invited to attend and participate in the event. Come and enjoy the rich history of women and creativity!”

Gentiles in Zion

22 Oct

Recently, one of my friends posted the following article to my Facebook page:  In the article, Jennifer Sinor writes about her experiences as a non-member living and teaching in Zion.  She describes the anger that she often feels towards the church for its attitudes towards gay men and women and the way in which she often lashed out at missionaries who visited her door.  I empathized with much of what she wrote.


As a kid growing up in Blackfoot, Idaho, I hated the Mormon Church for what I saw as its intolerance of any sort of religious or social diversity.  I hated what I saw as the cheery hypocrisy of many of my high school classmates, who would smile as they told me that they believed that their church was correct and mine was wrong.  Like Sinor, I took out my anger on the young nineteen and twenty year old Mormon missionaries who visited my door.  Like a lot of my non-Mormon friends, I had read enough anti-Mormon websites and books to know the basic holes within Mormon history.  I enjoyed asking missionaries about polygamy and the weight of the plates.  When I didn’t slam the door in the missionaries’ faces, I delighted in their discomfort when I asked them about the peep stones and various parts of the Mormon temple ceremony.  I was seventeen and feeling as though I knew more about the faith of my classmates than they did made me feel smart and empowered in a community in which I didn’t necessarily feel at home.


In the last part of her article, Sinor recounts how she became reconciled to the church and the missionaries it sent to her door.  As an English professor at Utah State University, she read a lot of essays by returned missionaries.  One recounted the struggles a young female missionary had had trying to hide her bulimia from her fellow missionaries.  Her inability to do so led to her being sent home early.  She also read about how difficult it was to tract everyday and the struggles that some missionaries had with depression.  Eventually, she came to see the missionaries who visited her door, not as representatives of the Mormon faith, but as young men and women who might be struggling with issues she didn’t know about.


I don’t have a single moment that I can point to as the beginning of my reconciliation with Mormonism, nor am I as completely as at ease as Sinor is.  I became more at ease with Mormonism when I moved out of Southeastern Idaho.  In Nevada and then Michigan, Mormonism was less prevalent and less threatening.  I could study it without feeling like someone wanted me to convert at every moment.  Studying Mormon history also allowed me to discover a past much cooler and richer than the one I had assumed I knew while living in Idaho.  I don’t what my reaction would be if I saw Mormon missionaries at my door.  My guess would be I would give them a cold stare and tell them I wasn’t interested.  I certainly don’t think that I would be able, as Sinor was, to laugh and joke with them.  I’m just not there yet.


Sinor’s article is well worth the read – for non-Mormons and Mormons alike.

the craft of feminist religious criticism

12 Oct

For some women discussions of feminism and religion can easily become emotionally charged and not without reason. Women who want to feel a sense of connection to their foremothers in the Bible (or Book of Mormon) are almost entirely presented with mere sketches or tabula rasae upon which they must draw their own images of who these women were. Women are subject to erasure and violence in the Biblical record. They are excluded or are used as symbolic vessels of meaning. The symbolic appropriation of women, to illustrate dichotomous characteristics of faith or Christian life or the Church, does not prove very satisfying for a woman seeking to discover women experiencing the ups and downs of faith, prophecy, wonder, and redemption to the same degree as they encounter men experiencing those things. Continue reading

Extended 2012 MHA deadline, Nov. 1. Submit!!

8 Oct

Call for Papers (Updated with Extended Deadline)

2012 Mormon History Association Conference

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“Mormonism In Its Expanding Global Context: Invitations to New Interpretations and Understanding

The 47th annual conference of the Mormon History Association will be held a month later than usual – June 28-July 1, 2012 at the MacEwan Conference and Events Centre at the University of Calgary. The year 2012 marks the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the first Mormon settlement on Lee’s Creek (later Cardston) in southern Alberta by Charles Ora Card. Furthermore, July 1, 2012 will mark the 145th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Originally established in 1875 as Fort Calgary by the Northwest Mounted Police, Calgary has become a thriving metropolitan center to many of Canada’s most successful oil, gas and transportation businesses. So come celebrate with us!

Building upon last year’s theme of global transformations, we intend to capitalize on Calgary’s dynamic setting to invite papers that interpret the Restoration Movement in fresh, new ways. Canada is a richly diverse and cosmopolitan nation and as such beckons the immigration of new viewpoints on Mormon history. International studies of the Mormon experience and comparative studies with other faiths and their environments are encouraged; we also invite research that considers changing perspectives. For instance, how have media and the new era of electronic digitalization influenced the print culture of Mormon history and historical research? What influence has internationalization had on church structures and local memberships as well as interpreting our histories? To what extent has U.S. politics defined the internal understanding of Mormonism? How might various disciplinary lenses such as lived religion, theology, praxis, gender, race and ethnicity shape and reshape our understanding of the Mormon past? Beyond the standard North American perspective, how have local cultures, challenging economics, and national politics affected our interpretations?

The intersection of Canadian and Mormon history also begs scholarly inquiry. For example, how did the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881 impact Mormon migration to Alberta? What unique legal and social challenges did Mormon polygamy encounter in Canada? How does the current debate in the Supreme Court of Canada over plural marriage challenge historical interpretations? How have the Restoration Movements developed in Canada? What of the challenges of secularization?

While we encourage presentations related to the conference theme, we also welcome high-quality proposals related to any and all aspects of Mormon/Restoration history. As a Program Committee we invite proposals for panels as well as individual papers. Innovative formats will also be considered. Please send an abstract of each paper (no more than 300 words) plus a short CV (no longer than two pages) as well as suggestions for session chairs and respondents. Previously published papers will not be considered. Young scholars are especially encouraged to participate. Generous donors have offered to pay travel expenses for some undergraduate and graduate students whose proposals are accepted. Student proposals should include estimated expenses if applying for a travel grant.

The deadline for proposals has been extended to November 1, 2011. Proposals should be sent by email to If necessary, hard copies of proposals can be sent to Richard Bennett, 370D Joseph Smith Building, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made by December 31, 2011. Additional instructions and information are available on the MHA website at

Mormon Women Project Salon, November 5

30 Sep

I feel extremely privileged to be part of the Mormon Women Project, a website created to showcase individual Mormon women’s stories of faith. The MWP is much more than just a website, though. It’s a network of women. I have met and made many meaningful connections with incredible women by conducting interviews and by meeting with the other members of the staff. 

I joined the project when I desperately needed to devote myself to a Mormon cause, to experience and contribute to the power of my people. And it was exactly the sort of cause I had been seeking. Neylan McBaine, the project’s founder and editor, had begun to do something I had wanted to do for years–document the stories of Mormon women in a way that would highlight their diversity and that would show them engaging with the world in important ways, in ways that are influenced by their Mormonism. And this is what I love most about the project. These women are not pigeonholed according to how they enact an institutional feminine ideal. They are allowed to be fully themselves–daughters of God on their own paths of faith, paths that test and challenge them but that do not destroy their belief. These women are all powerful forces for good in their own spheres of influence.

The MWP is also a nonprofit organization that sponsors a yearly salon, an intellectually and spiritually edifying evening where remarkable women gather to discuss issues pertinent to women. This year’s salon “Crafting A Deliberate Life: Making Choices That Are Purposeful, Personal and Powerful” features prominent Mormon women–Emma Lou Thayne and Kate Holbrook, to name a couple–and will be held in downtown SLC at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Please register and come support these women, and check out the website. This is worldwide women’s religious history in the making!


Live blogging the Relief Society General broadcast

24 Sep

President Julie Beck: Pattern of discipleship in the ancient church.
Early LDS church–women were economic supporters of men as missionaries and early church members.

Authority to teach.

Preparation of saints for temple fulness–>RS
Red brick store–select society, choice, virtuous, and holy
I hope my granddaughters treasure the temple, make covenants there.

Patterns of discipleship that are applied globally on a local level.

Mental, physical, spiritual illness. War, hunger, natural disaster. Addiction, insufficient education.

Trials can bleach the bones of faith and discipleship. RS gives relief. Through RS, discipleship is expanded and work with Christ.

Sisterhood and protection.

a magazine for girls based on “moral truth”

23 Sep

So, my mom just sent me this link. It’s from a woman who plans to start a magazine for girls. Here is how she describes it.

“I’m starting a magazine for teenage girls based on standards and values. It will be less air-brushed, less fake, less celebrity drama and more real, more inclusive, more empowering. Oh, believe me–there will still be articles about what your lip-gloss color says about your personality, but there will also be articles about being (and becoming) the amazing women they are and were always meant to be.

“There will be no mixed messages about modesty and sexuality and how those ideas play into self-worth and personal esteem. We will talk about education and dating and family life and health and beauty and fashion. But we’ll talk about the hard things too–drugs and sex and suicide–as these are things today’s teens are dealing with (whether you want to admit it or not). But we’ll talk about them within the context of moral truth.”

Good on you, Krista Maurer, for trying to offer something uplifting to young women, something that teaches them to honor themselves and their bodies and helps them appreciate who they are and who they can become. Looking at the beginnings of a project like this make me realize what a challenging job LDS Young Women’s leaders have and how difficult it is to be both frank–treating the issues that you know young women will encounter–and spiritually uplifting–teaching them to try to rise above the fog of their youth and popular culture and strive for something more. Any move in that direction is good. This sort of counterculture is good. Way to enter the fray.