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Fathers Who Know


In October 2007, Julie B. Beck, newly called General Relief Society President, gave a talk at General Conference that continues to live in infamy. Here author Angela Felsted offers up her answer to Beck's talk. In this thought provoking essay, she turns the tables placing fathers in the hot seat. What follows is perhaps controversial, but an important lesson in the power of words. If nothing else, Angela's words should make us all think about the power of the messages that come across the pulpit.


Fathers Who Know

In the Old Testament we read about an extraordinary woman who was exceptionally stunning and obedient. “This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” (Ester 2:7). This faithful woman paid tribute to Mordecai, her cousin who raised her like his daughter by “ . . . (keeping) secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up (Esther 2:20). Mordecai was not Esther’s father, but when it came to what was best for her, he knew. I would suppose that the fathers of Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, and other great women also knew.

The duty fathers perform today has never necessitated more watchfulness. More than any other time in the history of the world, we need fathers who know. Precious spirits are coming into a world that will have to fight with the influence of Satan. Still, fathers can have courage. When fathers know what they can become, what God once was, and remember the covenants made with Him, they’ll have great power and authority over their children for righteousness sake.

Fathers Who Know Make Money

Fathers who know work hard to make money. Whereas in many places fathers are “letting their wives help” with bills, or going into risky fields they “enjoy,” in Latter-day Saint culture we still believe in fathers making money.

Valiant sons of God make good money. In the scriptures we read of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph of Egypt, who would do whatsoever was necessary to obtain land, sheep, birthrights, or riches for themselves and their families.

Some men are not capable of financial success in this life, but just as John the Baptist of the New Testament labored ardently without making ends meet, the worth men put on riches in this life and the time they spend laboring for it will bring them wealth when they rise in the resurrection. Men who work to achieve that blessing now are guaranteed to have it in the eternities, and the eternities last far, far longer than our life on earth. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Honor Sacred Commitments

Fathers who know honor sacred commitments. I have attended church meetings in the most destitute cities and towns where devoted fathers have dressed carefully in their Sunday clothes and left their wives and children in the wee hours of the morning to walk on dirty, mud-caked roads to early morning meetings. After hours of deliberating, they sit behind the podium and watch their wives bring each of their sons to sacrament meeting in starched white shirts with their arms folded; their daughters in modest dresses with their eyes lowered to the floor. These fathers honor their commitment as servants of God. They know if they aren’t setting an example of leadership and sacrifice, they are not emphasizing obedience enough. These fathers have a righteous influence. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Are Laborers

Fathers who know are laborers. This is their singular obligation and function under the plan of salvation. To labor means to work, toil, and make operational. Hence, fathers who know take extra shifts to cultivate a productive work environment. Another term for laboring is kissing up. Kissing up often includes taking the blame for others mistakes, working over holidays, and cleaning the coffee cups and crumbs left out by your coworkers. Work is where men can most influence people; therefore, Mormon men ought to be the best kiss ups in the world. Working beside non-members in a day to day job gives men an opportunity to model the kinds of behaviors their co-workers should emulate. Laboring fathers are smart, but all the learning men acquire will gain them nothing if they don’t know how to create a work environment that cultivates success for those around them. Productivity occurs most often when we serve others, and men should be willing to wash the feet of their co-workers like Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Laboring require energy and humility. Making work environments productive through laboring is an important and special role granted to men. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Are Firm

Fathers who know are firm. As they preside over their wives, they entrench their children in a vast and holy religious institution. These fathers work for the growth of their institution. They stress obedience, tithing, and temple marriage. They take charge of family prayer, give priesthood blessings, and aren’t afraid to take to task children who are disruptive during church. Fathers who know mold their daughters and sons into their own image. They won’t ever discard their hopes by reading secular parenting books and succumbing to popular models of discipline. These good fathers who know are selective about affection and sentiment in order to preserve their energy for the tough love that matters most. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Are Judges

Fathers who know are judges. Since they are responsible for monitoring the home, they should never let things go. A friend of mine with an ultra-clean house mentioned to me that she did not gain anything from Sunday School that she hadn’t already been taught at home. Her father used bed time, meal time, homework time and family prayer time to make sure she’d cleaned her room, put away her shoes and socks, scrubbed the dishes, and complied to all his orders. Think of the sparkling homes future wives and mothers would have if fathers ran their households like a boot camp for homemakers. Then the obedience, work, and dedication needed to diaper children, scrub the floor, and listen without offense to their husband’s criticisms would be a blessing and not a burden. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Build Protective Walls

Fathers who know build protective walls. They use these walls to shield their families from the world in order to foster eternal goals. They put up walls against their children’s internet use, friend’s phone calls, Sunday parties, and children playing in other people’s homes. Fathers who know are willing to be the bad guy, to keep heathen influences out of the home in order to better teach their children—about Bible reading, Book of Mormon scripture chasing, planning talks, studying the Ensign, listening to the prophet’s voice, sitting with reverence, and the value of isolation. These fathers choose carefully who’s allowed inside the wall. Their purpose is to keep the rising generation safe against the onslaught of the adversary. Their purpose is to set future fathers and mothers on the path to train up their own children. That is power; that is authority.

Fathers Who Know Stand Guard

Who will stand guard over this rising generation? Mormon men will—men who know, men who stand immovable when they’re so exhausted they want to collapse. We are led by prophets of God who have asked the men of the Church to stand tall. He has told us to guard our children. Mormon men should be the best in the world at making money, upholding their commitments, laboring, standing firm, and insulating their families. I have a strong belief that our men will do this and be known henceforth as fathers who know.


Angela Felsted is a musician, poet, and nature lover. Her work has appeared in issue fifteen of Drown in Your Own Fears, Chantarelle's Notebook, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. You can download, SCARRED, her most recent poetry collection on Amazon Kindle or visit her blog at www.my-poetry-place.blogspot.com

7 comments:

Amber said...

Angela, in many ways this is haunting in how accurate you spun her talk around. I believe some might roll their eyes, but that's because they don't recognize how hurtful Julie Beck's talk was to many of us women. And this gets to the core of that hurt.

Angela Felsted said...

I was kind of shocked by how "not funny" it was when I turned it around. I'd hoped by adding a few things like "kiss up" and such that I could lighten it up. But in writing this I was struck by how rigid the ideas in the original talk are.

Angela Felsted said...

And how that rigidness (when brought to light) just isn't funny.

janeannechovy said...

An earlier response to Beck's talk is at http://whatwomenknow.org

Anonymous said...

"That is power. That is authority."

Wow. Just wow.

I was expecting to be laughing as I read this, but I felt actually more of a chill. I think you were even more accurate than you intended to be. Kind of scary, isn't it? To think that we all know fathers like this. To think that some of us succumbed to fathers like this. To think that Julie Beck's talk could have ever been taken seriously... how dangerous is that?

jen said...

I have known fathers like this, mine was one of them for a long time

I had a conversation with my dad once... It was after I had left the church. He has been supportive. His reasoning, "Everyone needs to find love for themselves. For you (meaning me), the church just gets in the way of that."

I asked him why he raised me the way he did... It wasn't just the church that got in the way, it's the way church principles were taught and enforced at home: using so much fear, guilt, and shame to mold me into the perfect mormon daughter... He teared up. Apologized. And said, "I was just trying to be a good dad. I didn't know any better. If I could redo it, I would do it differently."

It isn't just the women who get the harmful messages (like Beck's talk). It's the men too. My dad was taught that is how he SHOULD be, and he nearly lost more than one of his children because of it. He had to go through his own personal hell to change himself, to recognize how much he'd hurt his kids even though he never wanted to hurt any of us.

Right now, there are more young fathers just like this one... More young fathers raising up children to feel fear and guilt and shame at not being perfect Mormon men and women. It scares me. It angers me. And it saddens me.

jewelfox said...

I think I love you. >.>;

You're right, though, it came across as scary and not funny, even the "kissing up" part. That seemed more insulting than light-hearted. I think that it was still appropriate, though.

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