What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in the Stock Market?

If you were monitoring Etrade’s MarkeCaster this morning you would have noticed that the ask price has consistently hovered below the market price for various stocks. I’ve been informed by Etrade customer service this is the result of NASDAQ ‘pushing through conditional orders’ of 100 shares at the lower price.  At this time, 10:34 MST, the worst case is a stock whose ask price is 6 cents lower than the actual price of the stock.

I no longer own any of the stocks mentioned in this blog.

Over the Counter Glitch

August 8 Update:  Previously I deleted all the stock market posts because of what was happening in the market.  I’m putting them back now.

Original Article:

Yesterday the price of a certain stock, which I can’t mention here because I’m no longer recommending stocks on this site, was different on Etrade’s main website than it was on Etrade’s MarketCaster service. The price on MarketCaster was lower than the bid price listed on the website. I called customer service. They said maybe someone had offered the stock at that price. I thought about that and decided it didn’t make sense—someone would also have had to buy it at that price, but how would they do that when it’s lower than the bid price?

I called back. The next person I talked to checked Bloomberg to see what they had for the last price. They had the lower price with an ‘AP’ after it. He said AP means ‘average price’. As I understand it, the OTC traders just threw that price out there although no one was buying it at that price.

As he gave me this information, the price on MarketCaster corrected itself so that it matched the price on the website and almost immediately both the bid and ask prices on the website moved higher.

Update: I no longer own any of the stocks mentioned in this blog.  

The Stock Market & Controversy Don’t Mix

I wrote previously about two innovative American companies. Since that time, it’s occurred to me that some people might associate those companies with controversial statements on this site. Since the companies have no relationship to any of the opinions stated here, I’ve deleted the articles about them. I still own shares in them however, and if I decide to sell them I’ll announce it here first.

I’ve also considered deleting a few controversial posts on unrelated topics. I’ve done this before but never because I thought someone else wouldn’t like them—I deleted them because I myself didn’t like something about them, or in one case, I deleted a post because it was just plain wrong—the one about Libya’s Arab Spring where I wrote in favor of helping Libyan rebels. I also canceled my cable TV account over that issue, when I realized that Western governments had ulterior motives. I admit it was embarrassing to be so wrong so early in this blog but that wasn’t the only reason I deleted it. The other reason was that I no longer agreed with what I’d written. I think now that I should have kept it in place and drawn lines through the words, but I didn’t think of it until it was too late. Maybe this confession can begin to make up for that error in judgement, but my point is that normally I wouldn’t delete anything simply because people didn’t like it.

But now I’m considering deletions even though this time I stand by everything I wrote. The suspicion that articles on this site might have had a bad effect on a good company has been the cause of a great deal of personal stress. However, rather than delete them I’ve decided to take them down and rewrite the main ideas. In the meantime, if it turns out these posts weren’t having the effect I thought they were, I can always republish them as they are. However, I won’t replace the company articles or recommend additional stocks.

I realize taking articles down might set a bad precedent—there will always be someone who doesn’t like what’s being said on a blog and who will try to pressure the writer. I’ll just say this will be the last time I take posts down for any reason. I’m only doing so now because it was clearly a mistake to recommend stocks side-by-side with controversial articles.

Update: I no longer own any of the stocks mentioned in this blog.

Church of England Votes on Female Bishops

The Church of England’s General Synod is set to vote on Monday on whether to allow women to become bishops.  This would not necessarily compel all Anglican Churches to accept women bishops, but it would set a precedent.  Conservative Anglicans rejected a previous proposal in 2012.  However, Anglican women in the United States, Canada and Australia have already been ordained as bishops.  ((London AFP,  Church of England female bishops would be ‘seismic’, July 11, 2014. available: http://news.yahoo.com/church-england-female-bishops-seismic-032533964.html))

What Do You Do With a Problem Like the Priesthood?

We’ve been forced by the Ordain Women story to talk about the Mormon Church as if it represents the world at large. What a coup for a Church that, although it shares the modern world’s basic premises, remains somewhat fringe. For example, Mormonism shares with Christianity the concept of male priesthood. However, this comparison is complicated by the fact that some Christian denominations ordain women. It’s also complicated by the fact that Mormon priesthood is extreme by any standards.

A few facts about Mormon priesthood:

In the Mormon church, the priesthood is not a vocation. It is a natural result of being male. Boys become deacons at twelve but theoretically even younger boys outrank their own mothers.

Generally, priesthood is like a male trade organization with the purpose of controlling something that men don’t rightfully own—female fertility. This is doubly true of Mormonism. At its worst, it operates on the assumption that there is just not enough room in the female role for two genders and one of the genders has to go. Hence we see lip service for mothers combined with policies and attitudes that neuter women even as they carry out their duties.

My list of gripes about Ordain Women:

1. Mormon Bishops are appointed and then they choose their councilors. So even if women were ordained they could easily be denied higher offices. We know this happens because it’s already taking place in denominations that ordain women. How is this different from feminist strategy in the corporate world where women struggle to advance, and where even those who attain high positions are paid much less than men with the same title?

2. Women who succeed in the corporate world don’t naturally implement policies that help women. This problem is likely to be compounded in the Mormon Church where women are devoted to its doctrine and its leadership. Further, I predict that if the brethren were forced to appoint women as bishops, they would choose alpha-females—successful women who have no problem with anything they see or experience in the church.

3. Non-Mormons may not be aware that bishops are not paid! Nor are they trained to fill such a responsible position. In addition, they can be ‘released’ at any time. Because bishops carry out their duties while holding down regular jobs, they don’t normally object to being released. And because Mormon priesthood has nothing in common with a fight for income or advancement, no aspect of labor law could address it. Given this reality, what do you think would happen to a female bishop if she were willing to go against church policy?

4. A large majority of Mormon women don’t want the priesthood. Also, they tend to trust those who are in authority. Ordain Women carries out its tactics in spite of this. In the process they give us the worst of both worlds. Their tactics acknowledge church authority, allowing it to publicly demonstrate its power, while ignoring the real injustices perpetrated on those they claim to love.

Here is an example of the church’s contortions of femaleness as they play out among its female membership.

There was a girl in our ward (I’ll call her ‘A’) who used to babysit our kids. She loved to babysit and she loved our kids. She was an open, kind person. A’s sister (I’ll call her ‘B’) worked for a prestigious organization. She didn’t live in our town but she used to visit her family there. Some of the young women admired B and liked to sit by her in church. One day one of these women told her, “A just wants to get married and have kids.”

B answered, “She might as well; that’s all she’s good for.”

You’d think that if a safe haven exists in this world for a woman who just wants to get married and have kids, it would be in the Mormon Church, but it doesn’t work that way. These young women were in the minority, but I’m still amazed that they remained in the church even though they rejected the ideal of motherhood. More to the point, they betrayed something that should be acknowledged as basic in any religious tradition: the kindness, humility, and good will of A.

The majority of women I knew wanted the ideal, and part of the ideal is the male priesthood. So here I am arguing for the ideal of a tradition that I’m no longer a part of. What I’m really arguing for is the value of a woman’s noble ownership of the ideal and her efforts to achieve it. I think it’s possible to pursue this ideal in a noble way, even though it’s imbedded in a troubling environment. It’s when the ideal is used to entrap and coerce that it becomes a problem. On the surface, female ordination seems to offer a solution, but for the reasons I’ve stated above, it’s no solution at all.

There comes a time when one’s spiritual convictions must prevail. I don’t see that happening with Ordain Women. Perhaps we should assume this movement is not the result of spiritual convictions, but an example of feminist strategy transplanted into a realm that feminists don’t fully understand.

Toward a Solution

Any effort to help women must begin by discovering and restoring to the female gender the role of motherhood with all the authority it implies. Male priesthoods would like you to believe they have done this by promoting large families and a mother’s willingness to submit to male authority. They even have the audacity to call it righteousness. But anthropologically speaking, these things are a manifestation of the age-old reproductive strategy of the male of the species.

Mormonism, Priesthood and Gender

Kate Kelly argues that the roles of women have become more restrictive since the founding of the church, and that women were always meant to have the priesthood. The same thing has been said of Christianity. The reality is that modern culture is heir to ideas developed during the so-called Axial Age. (800 to 500 B.C.) Many of the religious and philosophical ideas developed during that time were aimed at women. Today these ideas remain influential in Mormonism and other modern sects, as well as in the more orthodox churches. If you have a problem with the place of women in religion and society, that’s where you’d have to look for the cause. However, people who are invested in these offshoots often try to correct the immediate problems instead. I understand that. I just wonder how successful they can be if their efforts are not based in reality.

As a former Mormon, I find Kelly’s approach curious for another reason: Abuse of women in the Mormon Church does exist, but not as a stated policy of the church. Unlike the male priesthood, injustice in the Church is more akin to the breaking of promises. It is done behind the scenes and on a personal level, and so its victims have no recourse. You could argue that it is facilitated by a male priesthood, but I think it’s doubtful the priesthood is the source of the problem. It’s more a symptom of the problem.

It’s important to point out that the Church knows how to present an attractive ideal to women. At the same time, the men’s behavior often indicates that they have no intention of adhering to this ideal. The result is that Mormon women are attracted to an ideal that never seems to materialize.

You might be asking which is the real Mormonism? Also, what is the nature and purpose of priesthood? In the process of trying to answer these questions, a third question might arise—about gender.

The website for Ordain Women ((Frequently Asked Questions, ordainwomen.org, Available: http://ordainwomen.org/faq/)) states:

“Many Mormons respond to questions about the inequity of an all-male priesthood by insisting that men and women have distinct but equal roles. Women have motherhood, they argue, and men have priesthood. What they fail to acknowledge is that fatherhood is the appropriate parallel to motherhood. Priesthood power is separate and distinct from parenthood and gender. Rhetoric that uses motherhood to circumscribe women’s lives has been used throughout history to deny women access to the voting booth, political office, education, employment, and spiritual empowerment. Ordain Women does not question the importance of motherhood and fatherhood. Rather, we reject the use of motherhood to justify limitations on women’s authority in the LDS Church.

“Equality is not about sameness; it is about removing obstacles to access and opportunity. We refuse to tolerate inequity in our secular institutions. Ordain Women asserts that we must also reject it in our homes and religious communities.”

I think it’s true that Mormons use rhetoric about motherhood in the wrong way. However, this shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that motherhood is an obstacle to women’s rights. If the assumption of Ordain Women is that women can only be given equal rights in spite of motherhood I think it misses the point. [intlink id=”1510″ type=”post”]I’ve argued[/intlink] instead that the rights and authority of women should stem from their motherhood.

So what is the nature of priesthood and how does gender come into it? Part of the above quote defines the problem:

“What they fail to acknowledge is that fatherhood is the appropriate parallel to motherhood. Priesthood power is separate and distinct from parenthood and gender.”

I disagree. Claims to religious and political authority are always based on parenthood and gender. Think of the birth of Greek gods from the body of Zeus.

If I’ve failed to make my point, you might think this last statement is another argument for female ordination. Hopefully my position will become clear in future posts.





Kate Kelly and the Church

One reason I’m having such a hard time talking about Kate Kelly’s Ordain Women movement is that she’s apparently forgotten who the Mormons are.

Isn’t this the same church that ranks women lower in authority than their own sons?

Isn’t this the church that regularly asks women to give the ‘It’s-okay-that-my-husband-is-the-boss’ speech?   The speaker starts out by confessing that she once objected to her husband’s authority over her, but now after a long personal struggle, she’s fine with it. I’ve seen this done several times in two different wards.

Isn’t this the church in which the bishopric of a ward can bar its women from speaking or praying in public?

Isn’t this the church where men can ask the bishop to make their wives stop using birth control?

Isn’t this the church where Relief Society lessons warn women that anger and depression are personal failings that will be passed on to their daughters?

Kelly’s petition to church leadership implies that the church’s meaning and essence would continue if women were ordained, but it seems to me the subservience of women in the church is its meaning and essence.   Her petition also assumes that people who benefit from such a system would consent to change it.  This is a type of denial about the nature of the system.

But I suppose denial is inevitable if you believe this system is the result of revelation from God. Unfortunately, Mormonism’s social structure is based on the ideas of Plato.   Maybe Kelly can get the general authorities to channel Plato, but I think he’s caused enough trouble already.