I admire Kristine's strong desire to set the record straight regarding feminism in general and Mormon feminism in particular, and I think she'll be more readily heard if she appreciates moderate attempts to highlight the common ground between feminism and Mormonism, and if she acknowledges the reality of conflicts between the two belief systems (which are evident in the writings of Paul himself, as well as many modern-day apostles). Further, although I'm sure there are weaknesses in my brief survey of feminism, I'm surprised to hear it interpreted as overly broad and patently vapid. Perhaps Kristine has a more respectful, precise, and nuanced version to share. I can think of no better candidate to undertake this and other daunting tasks, including the rigorous theological analysis she calls for. In the meantime, I trust most readers, whether feminist or not, will recognize the value of sincere attempts to increase understanding and promote teamwork in Mormon women's approach to gender issues, and I encourage all readers who share that goal to follow up my effort with efforts of their own.
To conclude, I come to Neylan McBaine's question about defining success in Mormon feminism. Her query reminds us to guard against pinning hopes on institutional change, however welcome that change may be. I share Tresa's confidence that leaders of the Church are sincerely invested in the well-being of its female members, yet as I noted in a recent statement about Mormon women's identity, true empowerment comes not from the conference center pulpit but from the direct workings of the spirit within individual lives.
Thanks to David Charles at Patheos for facilitating this gathering, and for offering to host similar discussions throughout the coming year. I'm looking forward to lively dialogue from readers in response.
For the responses to Kathryn Soper's As Sisters in Zion, click here.