I have a few words that I’ve learned in my reading travels that I like to toss out to confuse my less learned friends and to impress others with my great intelligence. Paradigm is one of them. I learned it from a professor. (Oxymoron, dichotomy, ambivalence…..all good words)

So, I’ve had a paradigm shift. In essence, I’ve changed my mind. It happened this week and is more of a spiritual awakening than being convinced intellectually of anything. Totally unsought and unexpected.

It started Saturday afternoon as I thought of those women lining up to attend priesthood. I felt a sudden pang of sisterhood and so much sympathy for them. I’d previously been pissed off at them because I thought this demonstration was crossing a line into open rebellion. I didn’t like that they were, in essence, airing our church’s dirty laundry publicly. Better to do as I do, simmer, and bitch and moan to local authorities ad nauseum.

But a picture entered my mind at the moment I walked into my laundry room, thinking about priesthood session, of Cheiko Okazaki as prophetess. Of my husband’s awkward and caveat-filled blessings (I know I could kick butt in giving powerful blessings). And somehow it made sense.

I didn’t say anything, I just pondered it in my heart. Then, as I awaited a prescription refill at my local pharmacy, a man started to complain about the OW movement. Now, I know this guy, he’s a moron and he doesn’t remember me, but I know he treats his wife like shit….I’ve seen it. I’ve never liked him. He’s one of those mean-spirited guys whose flaws are apparent even to priesthood leaders so he’s never been in a leadership position, but he clings to his rigid orthodoxy. This day, he was scruffy and unshaven, his clothes slightly dirty.

His eyes shown with fervor and resentment, though, as he proclaimed his disgust at “those women demonstrating at temple square.” I jumped right in (and guys, I don’t deserve any credit for this, there’s no argument I won’t enter into, often taking the opposite opinion which I don’t believe just because the other person annoys me. I’m contention ridden to the core) and defended them. A woman and her priesthood age son were sitting nearby and when I said “those women were very respectful and quiet in their requests” she turned to her son who’d attended the priesthood meeting at the temple nodded in agreement.

She got up and left as my argument with said misogynist bastard escalated, though. He was adamant but not articulate and I was fairly articulate in stating my conviction that while I didn’t want the priesthood, these movements had achieved some progress for women in the church and they had strong testimonies and commitment to the gospel. I cited Deborah….and instances of women giving blessings in our early church.

He jutted out his hairy chin and said “we’d better not talk about this any more.” And steadfastly refused to meet my eyes after that.

Like I said, I don’t deserve any credit, but I was taken by surprise by my own need to defend the women of OW. This, I realized, was more than needed to argue with an idiot. I came home and while on facebook, found a link to a FMH post: The Mormon Priestess. As I read this, I realized that much of my own heartache from interactions in the church has happened because of male insistence on being right. Sometimes this has been leaders, sometimes it has been my husband.

My rough upbringing has made me an iconoclast. I must accept my own responsibility and acknowledge my contrary nature in analyzing the disagreements and disappointments I’ve had with my husband and church leadership. But it’s also clear that many men feel women should be seen and not heard and I’ve encountered these men, to both our detriments.

I think things are changing, especially for younger people. I said at one point in my argument with the MB at the pharmacy “My husband agrees with you…..most men your age do feel that way” and that’s true. I’ve said over and over again that the church attracts workaholic, task oriented, chauvinistic men and I believe that. They are in the church if only at a sub-conscious level, because men are in charge.

I still believe in the traditional family. It feels right to me, but now I realize this might be more my societal conditioning and the age I am than actual sociological necessity. I must ponder that because I still think kids do better in a two parent (and I now support gay marriage, so this could be two women or two men) family.

I live much of my life in duality. If that’s even a word. I am an onery bitch and many in my ward already think I’m a feminist and a liberal, neither of which I personally would identify with. I make my temple recommend interviews quick because I don’t want to get into a long philosophical discussion about how I believe in the Plan of Salvation and the First Vision—one true church, not so much. I probably would have survived in a “1984″ world. I don’t feel torn on a conscious level because I think my core belief that God lives, Jesus is His son and my savior are what’s most important. I know I’m sometimes considered for leadership….or have been before I went all mentally ill, but I hate being in charge of anything and make that known loud and clear. I don’t want the priesthood. Now, though, I might take the priestesshood. Not to be the bishop or anything. But damn, I could rock those healing the sick blessings.

*******Here are some scriptural references to prophetesses in the Bible (there’s only one in the Book of Mormon and it refers to Isaiah)

Luke 2:36 (Anna); Exodus 15:20 (Miriam); Judges 4:4-14 (Deborah); Nehemiah 6:14 (Noadiah); Isaiah 8:3 (Isaiah’s wife); 2 Kings 22:14 (Huldah)