There may be no textbooks on how to raise children, but history bulges with rules, how-to's and warnings on everything else in women's lives. Apparently we gals have been unruly, or at the very least, unpredictable since Lot's wife, against strict orders, turned around to check out what the rumble of falling buildings behind her was all about. (This strikes me as rather a common sensical response on her part--wouldn't it be like not staring with jaw dropped as the Murrah Building fell to the ground?)
Anyway, I'm sure everybody remembers where her curiosity got her that day. For ignoring the order from on high Lot's wife was unceremoniously turned into a pillar of salt. Biblical vengeance with a flourish. Even in Sunday School, this story struck me as just plain mean, but the lady who taught us apparently didn't question goosestep obedience.
Which brings me to a Mormon tidbit I read recently in a column from my hometown newspaper, The Cordell Beacon. It's a 19th century edict from Brigham Young to the women of the Latter Day Saints religion.
"If you see a dog run past your door with your husband's head in his mouth, do nothing until you have consulted with the prophet."
Wow, now that's taking the load off our shoulders. How cavalier. It's like, "Relax, ladies. We got this." I would, no doubt, be one of those meddlesome wives who would want more specifics, such as, "Do I chase the dog and try to retrieve the head so the prophet can reattach it?"
"What if the dog comes inside the house with my husband's head in his mouth? Should I grab the shotgun if the dog looks like he wants my head as well?"
"What if the dog only has my husband's finger or foot in his mouth and not the entire head?"
"If the dog is rabid, shouldn't I shoot him so he won't run by my door with my children's heads in his mouth?" Cujo does Salt Lake City .
"What if the prophet is out of town? Or out of the country??" (Back then, no phone, much less e-mail. Yikes! How long should the wife wait for the prophet's return?)
"When should I ready the kitchen for the incoming commiseration casseroles?"
Now I'm not here to bash the Mormons. God bless 'em. They strike me as gentle, loving people. And they send their children all over the world on missions of service, an act that grows tolerance of those who are not just like us. We could sure use some more of that.
This just happens to be the latest laughable example I've read of women being commanded over the ages to tamp down their instincts, stuff their feelings, and do as they're told. So I'm thinking, "If it's not okay to respond to the murder of a loved one, what should she do about picking out kitchen curtains? Should the prophet design her quilts? Can she wipe the nose of her little girl?" Is this any more extreme than the edict? I think not.
And why do men ask for all this decision making? Imagine all that high blood pressure from attending to, in this case, multiple wives who are waiting, toes tapping with impatience, for further instructions? Isn't this a recipe for early heart attack? Or stroke? Guys, you might want to think this through again. It's women, in this new millenium, who are seeing an upsurge in cardiac events. With power, apparently, comes clogged arteries.
But what I really want to know is, what happened to those ladies who disobeyed the prophet's edict? Maybe I am brutally mixing up my metaphors here, but what if they were turned into pillars of salt? Wait a minute, wait a minute. Is that what formed Salt Lake?
Linda Lee McDonald
I live comfortably poor in Oklahoma City, have a backyard garden in constant need of a weedeater manicure, am visited by birds every day when they bathe in my mixing bowl birdbath, and am blessed with my two rescue dogs, Jake and Roxie, who save me every day of my life.