Here & there: The Eliza R. Snow Effect

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OPINION — Over stale pastries and a stunning ocean view, we met a lovely family vacationing on the island of Bocas del Toro, Panama. When they heard we were from Salt Lake City, I braced for it: the “Mormon Question.” But what came next genuinely surprised me. My new mom friend didn’t ask about polygamy, Mitt Romney or alcohol. Instead, she asked about Mormon bloggers. Specifically why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are so good at it. In all earnestness, she wanted to know if we are taught a church course, the Secret to Successful Blogging.

While I imagined the ridiculousness of a blogging seminar from the pulpit, I had to admit my friend had a point. Mormon women own a hefty chunk of the blogosphere: Design Mom; Nei Nei Dialogue; Love Taza; Hey Natalie Jean; Oh Happy Day; Pink Peonies; Parish Place. All Mormons. All successful.

Mormon women blog about spectacular crafts for kids (made from material other people might consider garbage), amazing dinner parties (decorated meticulously with handmade décor), and the bliss of being a stay-at-home mom (to perfectly coifed kids).

And people eat it up – people like Emily Matchar, who is a self-described childless-feminist-atheist. Ms. Matchar even wrote about her love for Mormon bloggers for in an article called, “Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs.”

So what gives?

It’s all Eliza R. Snow’s fault, really. Yes, you read that right: I blame the Mormon blogging phenomenon on Eliza Snow.

Snow is not responsible for why people like Mormon bloggers. She is, however, the inspiration behind why there are so many brilliant Mormon female bloggers.

Mormons are well acquainted with Ms. Snow’s legacy. She was a brilliant poet and a powerful female leader. Her many accomplishments are all the more amazing in light of recent revelations that she was also the victim of a brutal gang rape that left her barren.

Under her tenure as president of the General Relief Society of the LDS Church, the Woman’s Exponent magazine was established, as were the organizations for the children and young women of the Church. In addition, she was the first president of Deseret Hospital, which championed women’s health and trained midwives.

But she is somewhat unknown to the rest of the world. She was a private talent.

She dedicated herself to the Mormon community, her Mormon family, and spent her life serving within the Church. Snow is famously quoted as saying, “let your first business be to perform your duties at home.”

Mormon women are smart. Mormon women are clever. Mormon women are interesting. Mormon women are educated. Mormon women are crafty. Mormon women are thrifty. Of course, not all Mormon women are these things (I’m going on record that I am hideously un-crafty, among other things), but you get the picture.

Many Mormon women are all of these things. And many of them are all of those things at home. Literally. The majority are not out in the workforce making creative pitches to clients or articulating philosophical ideas on the floor of some government chamber or developing innovative technology for Smart Homes.

Instead, in the tradition of Eliza R. Snow, they invest their considerable talents into their homes and families. This is noble. This is important. But it can also feel lonely.

Blogging makes it less so. A Mormon woman who blogs can be crafty at home, clever at home, brilliant at home, and still share it with the world without taking away anything from her family.

She can turn the afternoon paper project with her kids into a tutorial for the world. She can make her tween’s dream bedroom makeover an inspiration on Pinterest. She can share her 2 a.m. post nursing epiphany on the blogosphere.

And we owe it all to Eliza R. Snow – a powerful Mormon leader who believed that the best way to help the world is to develop talents from home – a message that has translated into success for many Mormon bloggers, even it it’s not an official LDS church course.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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