Tag Archives: Sis. Beck

Just saving Sister Beck’s talk, in case it’s ever archived and removed from the web!

BYU Women’s Conference 2011

Julie B. Beck

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Sister Beck’s story about educated women sitting in a park with children

Something in one of Sister Beck’s talks stuck me years ago, and I’m realizing I’m in a ward where it applies very well. She describes sitting in a park with some women who were very well educated, but who had also decided to become mothers. But these weren’t two separate parts of their lives: they were using their gifts and bright minds to think through mothering. She doesn’t say whether or not these women also worked for some portion of their time; that isn’t the point of her comment, I think. The point is that they saw that their work in the home deserved much thinking just as their advanced education did.

Here’s the part of the talk “A Mother Heart” that includes this story:

Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and “where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood. “Whatever principle of intelligence [she] attain[s] unto in this life, it will rise with [her] in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through [her] diligence and obedience than another, [she] will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18–19).

I was recently at a park where I met a group of women with mother hearts. They were young, covenant-keeping women. They were bright and had obtained advanced degrees from respected universities. Now they were devoting their considerable gifts to planning dinner that evening and sharing housekeeping ideas. They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears. I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3, 5). She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions” (Gen. 24:60).

Every girl and woman who makes and keeps sacred covenants can have a mother heart. There is no limit to what a woman with a mother heart can accomplish. Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially throughout the eternities. How grateful I am to the Lord for trusting women with the divine mission of motherhood. Like Mother Eve I am “glad” (see Moses 5:11) to know these things. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Reflections on how Sister Beck’s work has affected me

Today I might have the chance to sit in a presentation by Sis. Beck so I thought I’d take some time this morning to review the reasons why I have been impressed with her.

I reread this post I did in 2013: https://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/relief-society-is-the-organizer-of-the-combined-gifts-of-women/#comments

One thing I appreciate about Sis. Beck is that she can respond to a heated question in two ways at the same time: 1, she opens up new ways of thinking, and 2, she cuts passed the contentious aspect by pointing out what’s really important. I think I have liked both of those approaches a lot. The second approach speaks to me quite deeply, and the first approach is fun and engaging.

For example, think of this statement: “Relief Society is the organizer of the combined gifts of women.” What do you make of that statement? I immediately think of D&C 46, which says that each person has spiritual gifts, if they seek them, and seek to do good with them. It goes on to point out how many gifts come in pairs: some have faith to heal, some have faith to be healed; some speak in tongues, some interpret tongues; some have testimonies so strong they know, some have faith to believe on their words; some have gift of knowledge, some are taught to have wisdom and knowledge. From this I understand that gifts are (often? always?) meant to benefit others, and put us in a situation where we need each other.

So when I hear Sis. Beck’s idea about Relief Society, it makes sense. It makes sense of past Relief Society groups as well as current Relief Society groups. It is a place where women can be together and experience spiritual gifts together. It is a place where some have testimony and others have believe those with testimony. It is a place where some have gifts to heal spiritually and others have faith to be healed spiritually. It is a place where some have knowledge and others learn to be wise. In past groups, it was also a place where some had gifts to heal physically and others had faith to be healed physically. It was a place where some spoke in tongues and others interpreted.

The question perhaps after this is why it would be important for women to have a place where they experienced this together. Why have a gendered meeting?

One could say that it is to parallel the meeting of men, but that doesn’t account for the fact that not all men hold the priesthood. The group of men who hold the priesthood is a sub-group within the group of men in the Church.

Perhaps nowadays, since we welcome all men into the quorum meetings whether they hold priesthood or not, we could say that those meetings are a gathering of the spiritual gifts of men. But I don’t think we could say that this is what they are as the scriptures describe them. As I’m thinking about this, I’m also thinking that originally, women who were in Relief Society was a sub-group within the group of women in the Church. So perhaps these are more closely parallel than I was starting to think.

These questions are so interesting to me because of what has and hasn’t changed in history. The number of people with the priesthood has changed so radically. I imagine if we had enough documents, journals, and insights we’d see how the gifts given to women has changed too (kinds, intensity, number of women involved, etc.).

And with each change, the culture and community is affected and changed, but of course something remains the same. I like to look at both…why do I like to look at both? I don’t know, but I find both interesting and fun. Really, fun. I think it’s fulfilling and edifying to think of how communities grow and find ways to do good (and yes I know there’s a ton of negative to every community configuration). And I am deeply invested in learning what it is that hasn’t changed about the priesthood through all these thousands of years.

Anyway, this is why I find Sis. Beck’s talks interesting. They hit on both of these. I think my own thoughts aren’t completely overlapping with hers and she doesn’t answer close to all of my questions. But I feel like she’s another explorer in the same jungle, and I like learning from her field notes.

Sis. Camille Fronk (Olson) was that way for me too. I took two of her classes at BYU and I am so grateful I did. The first was a New Testament class (2nd half) and I fell in love with Paul’s poetic and interesting ways of talking about the gospel. I also enjoyed how she highlighted the women in the story (without making it a distraction). I’ll always remember that Paul’s “yolk-fellow” may have been his wife. Camille’s approach made me feel that Paul considered her his equal in the work of the kingdom, and her work locally among the saints was something he saw as just as vital as his work traveling. I liked the way she protrayed being yolked together.

Later I took her Pearl of Great Price class. Man, I loved that class. Her enthusiasm for figuring things out in scripture was contagious, first off. But I learned a lot from how the Book of Moses describes Adam and Eve’s relationship. From looking at this blog, you can see how deeply that affected me.

I think perhaps that Joe, Sis. Beck, and Camille have affected me the most within the topics that I care about the most. I’ve learned a lot from many people and I have had many important conversations with many people. But within the scriptural topics that run to my center, I think these three people have affected me the most.

Anyhoo, it will be interesting to see if I get to go to this meeting (there’s a chance she can’t come, and it snowed a good deal yesterday and last night so travel is an issue now), and if I do, interesting to see what she decides to share with a group of newly hired BYU Religion professors. I don’t know if I will be able to even say a word to her, but if I did, it will be interesting to see what I decide to say. What would I say? Thanks? Have you written anything lately? Do you have an hour where I can share my thoughts and hear your responses?? Probably not that one. But any way, it will be interesting!

Hypothetical Situation: What if there were a book called something like “Recent Discourses on Priesthood”?

If a book were to be published containing discourses on priesthood from the past ten years of General Conference and BYU addresses, what would be included?

My first thought is that they would mostly be Sister Beck and Dallin H. Oaks! Here are the talks that come to mind:

Elder Oaks (2005): Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/priesthood-authority-in-the-family-and-the-church?lang=eng

Elder Oaks (2014): The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Elder Oaks (2010): Two Lines of Communication: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/two-lines-of-communication?lang=eng

Sister Beck (2012): Why We Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/julie-b-beck_why-we-are-organized-into-quorums-and-relief-societies/

Sister Beck (2012): Opening Session of BYU’s Women’s Conference: http://ce1.byu.edu/cw/womensconference/pdf/archive/2011/JulieB_openingS.pdf

Sister Beck (2010): Our Spiritual Gifts and Connection to the Priesthood – Episode 7: https://www.mormonchannel.org/listen/series/relief-society-audio/our-spiritual-gifts-and-connection-to-the-priesthood-episode-7

What else comes to your mind?

Collection of Julie Beck’s work on women and the priesthood

Julie Beck is, in my opinion, one of the best scriptural theologians on women and the priesthood. I am going to start cataloging her talks, essays, interviews, and so on about the priesthood.

BYU Women’s Conference 2011

Our Spiritual Gifts and Connection to the Priesthood – Episode 7

Why We Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies

The Vision of Prophets regarding Relief Society: Faith, Family, Relief

Relief Society: A Sacred Work

“Relief Society is the organizer of the combined gifts of women”

After talking with my friend Helena this weekend, I’m back to studying women’s roles in the church. This morning I’m listening to this interview with Sis. Beck:


The title of this post was the first comment that really stood out to me. I’ll add more of them in the comments as I listen to the interview.

I love Sister Beck!

It’s no surprise, it’s no secret: I love learning from Sister Beck, the former RS General President. Her readings of scripture mixed with her personal insight and experience always open my mind to deeper and more accurate ways of seeing the work of the Church.

Tonight I listened to two talks by her that I’d like to revisit again soon. One was from the BYU Women’s Conference in 2011:

http://byutv.org/watch/1daaaa65-7fdb-47fe-aa39-0bd79328561b (Opening Remarks)

(transcript also here: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/womensconference/archive/2011/pdf/JulieB_openingS.pdf)

And the other talk was from 2006, also at BYU Women’s Conference but when she was a part of the YW General Presidency:

http://byutv.org/watch/de76d699-ed55-4ac5-a6d0-0bf3e20cd2ce (“Thou Art An Elect Lady, Whom I Have Chosen”)

(transcript not available)

Sometimes I like Sister Beck because she says something similar to what I think is right, and it’s so nice to have that confirmed. For example:

Some women I know postpone that crucial, empowering covenant [temple ordinances] thinking that somehow they are tied to serving a mission or marriage when in reality, a mission or marriage is an outflow of the endowment and not the other way around.

An example of the other kind of experience, where she opens up my mind to another way of seeing something, was this from the first talk above. She talked about some of the things she worries about: anger, entitlement, resentment, and apathy. When she talked about entitlement, I wondered how she would address that. It’s a weighted political word, and sometimes can be used in insensitive, unproductive ways. But how she handled it cut right past all of that kind of stuff. She said that entitlement is a feeling that someone owes us something. She hears of women saying their husbands owe them something, even if it’s a break, or help, etc. Or women saying that the Lord owes them blessings. She said that when she thinks of the Savior, and what he did for her, then she knows exactly who owes who here. No one owes us anything, but we owe to God everything. What a beautiful way to see life. No one owes us anything, because we, and everyone, owe God everything. That reminds me of King Benjamin’s speech.