Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

turning down a calling?

Recently, I was called in by a member of the bishopric. He apparently wanted to give me a new calling, though he manfully tried to chit chat a little beforehand. He also wanted to (in a very smooth and, to my ears, condescending tone) assure me that my issue with my name - the ward listing had me under my husband's name, not my own - would be rectified. I had sent him an email a month or so before since the ward clerk had definitively told me that it was impossible for me to be listed under my own name. I was puzzled by this bishopric member's questionable tone (perhaps he thought he was being soothing?), but I'm glad I will once again be found on the ward phone list under my own name.

I had hoped that he would call me to something semi-meaninful. Perhaps a RS teacher, or maybe something to do with community service. Something that would utilize my skills in some minor way. But instead I was called to a position which requires basically no talent or thinking whatsoever. To work in the library.

I can see why he made the choice - maybe he even thought I'd be pleased, since I am in grad school getting a masters in library science. But let's face it. These are leagues apart. I'm interested in library science because I want to be a literacy advocate, a community servant who works to open up information in order to empower every member of society. But working in the ward library? Ugh. I'd spend my time policing chalk. How uninspiring in every way is that?

Anyway, I clearly communicated that this was not a calling I was excited about, telling him that I would like the freedom to attend RS and SS - if the teachers were good. One of the reasons he probably gave me the calling also is because I've recently been skipping out on SS and RS due to the less than average teaching, and going instead to another church to attend their service. Maybe he thought this calling would be a good way out of attending these classes that I generally don't get much out of. But aside from the pettiness of the calling, I also don't know if I want my freedom restricted. I'd like to be able to go to my other church whenever I want, and I'd like to be able to go to SS, particularly if Mike is subbing.

So I told him I'd get back to him. I don't know what I'll say yet, but I'm very tempted to turn it down. If I'm going to spend time and energy on a calling, I'd at least like it to meaningful in some way.


Blogger John said...

I'm with you on the "restricting freedom" part, but I don't think you can expect to have the callings you want without some proactivity on your part. This means a)proving yourself by serving in the yuck callings, and/or b)lobbying for the callings you do want. Jana got the cool calling in PR only after putting in time as an early morning seminary teacher for a year. Me, I tell every EQ Prez and Bishop that I like to teach, and I used to offer to sub for adult classes pretty regularly.

The other thing I've realized is that you have the power to make just about any calling as meaningful as you'd like it to be. One of my favorite bishopric members (an ex-hippie) in a previous ward was released and put in charge of the ward newsletter. He did candid bios every week and kept tabs on ward members who had moved on and even turned it into a PDF and emailed it regularly to current and former members--turning a "meaningless" calling into something that truly brought people together.

As for me, I'm happy that the EQ actually wants me to teach (it's probably one of the things that keeps me somewhat active), but with my liberal, anti-authority attitude and general pickiness about callings, I have no illusions about getting any influential positions.

And I'm okay with that. :)

12/17/2005 10:58 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I agree that getting callings you want takes lobbying or yuck callings. But I feel I've done both. I did the horrible primary thing for a year and a half and hated every moment, but showed up every week. I've been the only visiting teaching supervisor to consistently call the coordinator with stats, and I've gone to every RS board meeting. I've had numerous people tell the RS pres several times that I would be a good teacher. I even just emailed the bish and told him that I would in the future like to do something that utilized my interests or skills - like teaching or doing community service stuff. What is there left to do?

Anyway, as I mentioned, I just emailed and said I would accept the calling to the library, but also mentioned the types of callings I thought I would be well suited for in the future. I doubt anything will come of it, but at least I feel I've communicated honestly with him about how I'd like to serve and what I'd be good at. Hope he's not offended, but oh well. I tried to be nice without kissing up, which is what I think Mike wanted me to do a little more of.

I'll be very interested to hear how you would make the library worker calling more meaningful...

12/18/2005 12:05 AM  
Blogger NFlanders said...

I love that we call it a "library," when in reality it is little more than a chalk and VCR repository. I suggest you start stocking copies of Dialogue and un-correlated books. That'll get you back in the Primary quick!

I can't help wondering if the last name incident has adversely impacted your future callings.

12/18/2005 1:42 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi Ned,
I think what has adversely affected future callings more is a certain RS presidency member in my ward that likes to call my friends up and ask about me. Who knows what she's communicating to the bishopric about me, since everything she's getting is third hand. Wish she'd just talk to me herself.

12/18/2005 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may well be that your training led to the call, and that the library desparately needs the kind of structure and organization that the bishopric thinks you can provide. But your reaction suggests that you -- like most Church members -- still have a very limited vision of what the ward librarian can and should do. The job isn't just to catalog and maintain resources, it is to help teachers and families use them! I wish that the librarians in our stake would watch what lessons are coming up and call teachers to suggest pictures, videos, etc., that they could use to enrich their lessons. I wish that they would find ways to persuade families to take home materials and use them in home evening. I wish.... well, I hope that you find ways to truly magnify your calling.

12/29/2005 2:43 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I think I have a limited vision of what the library can do because the library itself is so limited. There are VERY few resources in our library, and most of them are 30 years old. You must have a much better library than the one I would be working with.

12/30/2005 9:07 AM  

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