On July 2nd, a terrific new book was released by Oxford University Press: She Preached the Word: Women’s Ordination in Modern America. Co-authored by Benjamin R. Knoll and Cammie Jo Bolin, it shares and analyzes the findings from new surveys, along with qualitative interviews, about how people in the U.S. and within specific congregations and traditions view women’s ordination, and especially about women being the primary leader (pastor, rabbi, priest, etc.) within a congregation. The results are interesting, and in some cases quite surprising. And though the book reports on social science studies and can’t admonish, advise, or cheerlead for any particular stance or leadership structure, most Mormon Matters listeners, we believe, will be quite encouraged by the results.
This episode features the book’s authors, Ben and Cammie Jo, in conversation with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, in a far-ranging discussion of the book, its origins, findings, and analyses. It speaks of many, many factors that influenced the data, ranging from views of scripture, political leanings, economic status, race, gender, education, and much more. One factor ends up standing above all others in influencing views. Please listen and find out what it is! And even though Mormonism is only mentioned a few times within the pages of the book, and only a small number of Latter-day Saints were interviewed, with each finding shared herein, Mormon listeners should be able to draw parallels and divergences with what is discussed, with either outcome becoming an impetus for more thinking and imagining. Part 2 of the discussion (Episode 493), focuses primarily on Mormonism and various aspects of its views of priesthood and leadership, along with its culture that is both conservative but also able to pivot and move quite effectively whenever a new direction is decided upon. These in dialogue with certain findings and social scientific theories yield rich veins for continued discussion.
Please listen and share your comments and questions below!
Benjamin R. Knoll and Cammie Jo Bolin, She Preached the Word: Women’s Ordination in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018)
Satirical video about why men should not be church leaders, Sojourners Magazine website.