Do You See Me?

My two-year-old daughter interrupts me from my keening at the computer to say, "Please read me a book." She has selected Rotten Island by William Steig. We have tried reading it before, but it was a little old for her and she lost interest. This time, she sits, riveted by all those colorful monsters.

I read one book and then another, and then, too distracted by politics, I turn on Hillary Clinton's concession speech. My daughter climbs up my back, curious. We watch very little television in our house. When Hillary gets to the part about daughters, my eyes fill with tears.

It hasn't been a good season for mothers of daughters—for Adventist mothers, for American mothers. Last night, the United States elected a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women. The nation was shocked for one news cycle and then shrugged. It felt, somehow, inevitable.

Trump began his campaign by promising to build a wall. He said that before you immigrate to America, you must pass a religious litmus test. He questioned the integrity of an American judge because of his Mexican heritage. Trump also, incidentally, questioned whether Seventh-day Adventists were really Christians—this was before Ben Carson dropped out of the race. Trump's version of America was racially divisive and hateful.

While Mr. Trump had no credentials beyond a flair for the dramatic, he was running against a woman with all the credentials. She was every girl who sat at the front of the class, did her homework, raised her hand, and then got called "bossy" or a "nerd." Secretary Clinton once said "Women's rights are human rights" and many of us realized that we had never really internalized that: We mattered.

But did we? Do we? Do you see us?

Several weeks ago, I was at home with my daughter, again distracted. I was watching a live stream of the General Conference Annual Council. Ted Wilson, the General Conference president, had presented a "unity" document. At the 2015 General Conference session, women's ordination was voted down, but some unions, like mine, were ordaining women anyway. The unity document was about finding a way to punish these unions. The ordination of women was this threatening. I watched a room of men speak. Most of them spoke against the document and I was grateful, but I still wondered: where are all the women? We are more than half the church. Do you see us? Do we get to attend meetings in equal number? Do we get equal votes?

Nearly everyone who spoke, spoke out against the document. They measured their words. They told jokes. But they affirmed the value of women. If you had only listened to the discussion, you would have thought the document would be defeated.

Of course, you are reading this and you know what happened. The document passed easily. Nearly everyone who voted was a man. They were voting for unity, but they were also signaling to Adventist girls that they mattered less than Adventist boys.

How do I raise my daughter in America? How do I raise her as an Adventist? These are real questions.

Back at my house, my daughter asks about monsters. I tell her they aren't real, but she persists. She wants to be a friendly monster. She chases me through the house. She is laughing and laughing. Then, I chase her.

I want to tell her the world is beautiful. I want to tell her that we will protect the planet. I want to tell her that her church believes that one day she could be either president of the United States or president of the General Conference.

Today, I can't tell her much of anything. So, I chase her. I tell her that she is silly. Then, I tell her that she is strong and smart. I tell her that I see her. Today, I see her.

Sari Fordham is Associate Professor of English at La Sierra University.

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There is no substitute for WITNESS! When the those who grieve speak up, hope gains a toehold.

Thanks, Sari.


Well, good parenting rapport with your daughter, I can see. I had a different style. The concession I made to fantasy was letting her watch Tom and Jerry cartoons and sic-fi movies, and for sports, athletics and boxing, and her mom took her to swimming classes. For entertainment she played dominos and chess with her friends at MY house, and some piano. NO parties, not even birthdays(she got gifts of course, No proms, No high school, but she did horseriding and started fencing later on.)Going to sabbath school was a must even if I missed out when tired, her mom took her, but I told her the choice of going to church was hers when she attained the age of majority. I would never want her to be in the Ministry or seek ordination worse yet. I would not want her to be a politician ot even President. What I touted and encouraged was science: physics (theoretical), astronomy, mathematics , and so on. She ended up with Biochem and is now a happy stay-at-home MOM to raise 4 of my grandkids . She called me the other day to ask my opinion about sending the younger daughter to Church. I said OH YEAH!!!


Women have always been the religious instructors in the home, but invisible to the male-ordered church. The stained glass windows adore the mother of Christ; but since that time, her sisters have remained out of sight to the church.

Fortunately, the working world is beginning to value women’s unique contribution that extends beyond hearth, home, and pew.


Sari, Thank you for this beautifully-written essay. As a parent of a young child, it resonates profoundly. As someone who has watched developments both nationally and denominationally, the concerns and the values you articulate here reverberate in me, too.


Either someone didn’t like my response, or I pushed the wrong button - so, I’ll try again; and this time I’ll try to be more succinct in case it was the former.

There is much angst about that “glass ceiling” Hillary failed to crash. She didn’t fail because of bigotry; or an effort to keep women from succeeding. She lost because she lost an election. Of, course, just being the first woman president would not have been a good reason to make someone president - but it is the “cause celeb.”

My mother (since we’re talking about mothers and daughters) had a sixth grade education, yet, she managed to survive foreign occupation of her homeland; learn and function in three foreign languages; find a safe place to care for her family; and provide her daughter a college education (first in her family). I, her daughter, have two daughters of my own; and I have told therm they are limited only by what they are willing to work for. The ceiling that keeps them confined is only of their own making.



I can appreciate your concern that your daughter have every incentive to be and to do all that she wants to be. I have had two daughters whom I have always encouraged to do whatever they set their mind to do. They have certainly achieved much.

What is more difficult for me to appreciate is your statement that

This all or nothing, black and white thinking is surely a less than nuanced picture of reality. Hillary certainly has some deficits in her political skills. (This is exactly why both Hillary and Donald have a team around them). Donald certainly has some skills that will be useful in his work as president. Though the people’s choice is something you may oppose with every fiber of your being, your likes or dislikes for the particular choice of the people must always remain personal.

It occurs to me that the chief goal of presidential elections is not to break the glass ceiling of gender equality, even though this may be an admirable goal. Rather, the chief goal of presidential elections is to provide for the appointment of a Chief Executive of government. The chief goal of the 2015 GC Session was never to break the glass ceiling of gender equality in the church. It was to discern and fulfil God’s will for our church. We have every reason to ensure that our strategies for doing this, lead us to do this most effectively. And this is where I believe we went went wrong in San Antonio.

Having done all in our power to do this, it is important that we rest secure that our Heavenly Father will superintend all things. God is expert at the role of putting the hand we are served, back together again. Or to put it another way, God is the chess player extraordinaire. He chooses to overrule many of our poor moves as part of his winning strategy for us.

Perhaps Hillary may have had more success in the election had she shown more humility. Several commentators that I have heard here in Australia about Hillary in the last few days have suggested that she may have achieved greater things in the election had she not acted with so much of a sense of entitlement to the office of President.

Even in the church all of us, men and women have reason to examine our own attitudes toward our roles and responsibilities.


I find it difficult to believe that the thought that Hillary acted with a sense of entitlement is sexist. Her experience as First Lady to a Governor and President, plus her former role as Secretary of State and her previous waffer thin defeat in the 2008 Presidential Primaries would be sufficient reason for most people to believe that she must be alert to her real danger on this front.


this is a sexist observation…hillary’s well-founded confidence in her abilities wouldn’t be construed as a sense of entitlement were she a man…

i really blame the election of trump on blue-collar whites and evangelicals, who are groups that generally cannot be reasoned with…i also think comey’s unforgivable infusion of himself at the eleventh hour had an adverse impact…

i honestly believe hillary’s defeat is a missed opportunity for the world…we will never know what could have been…


The Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for this loss. They chose one of the worse candidates possible. With her history, and negative baggage, real or perceived, they should have known better. They were too hung up on trying to make history by electing the first female president. Gender and race are irrelevant. Character and leadership ability is more important. Unfortunately, Trump’s character isn’t any better than hers. But he wasn’t part of the establishment, and this was a vote against the status quo and the Washington elites, more than it was a vote in favor of Trump.


Our adventist church began by claiming to be the remnant church. Ours is a psychological wall we carry wherever we go.

Our church has 28 FB, a real religious litmus test before joining the church.

Our church delegates booed their once GC president because of his theological heritage on WO and Male Headship theory.

Our church’s version is one of sexually divisive and hateful as evidenced by the issues of WO and Male Headship which could very well rip our church apart.

As Madam Secretary Clinton once asked, “What difference does it make?” The best way of raising your child is to rely on your parenting instincts. As it has been said, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”


Psalm 146:2 “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”

This essay shows the mistake of looking to men for solace or comfort. Even Hillary would have failed you. SDA’s teach that the US is the beast power. You were expecting something else?

We have enjoyed a period of peace here, and the ability to worship as we please. That will soon disappear. Preparing the little ones for that is a frightening and horrible consideration. But it must be addressed. We will not get help from the government, no matter how amiable it seems to be.

We have someone else to save us and our little ones. He died facing a corrupt state and church. We can put our trust in him.


Ted Wilson, as a proponent of male headship ecclesiology and soteriology, believes that Eve standing alone at the Tree is the paradigm of all women. If you are a young girl, you can sit in the front row, raise your hand, study hard, read your Bible every day, earn a terminal degree in theology and become a biblical scholar, but Wilson and his alt right colleagues will still regard you as one who is like the paradigmatic Eve, as one who is innately incapable of differentiating truth from error, as one who cannot be ordained as a minister for fear that you will lead others astray as the paradigmatic Eve lead Adam astray, and as one who is innately incapable of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. For Wilson and his alt right colleagues, not even the blood of Jesus and His sanctifying grace alters the alleged paradigmatic relationship between Eve and the young girl; the young girl standing alone at the Tree will always be confused, easily deceived, and innately incapable of making the right decision, irrespective of anything Jesus has done for her. As per the metaphor advanced by Clinton and Gina Wahlen, the young girl can only be saved, temporally and eternally, if she submits to a man.

Who is the greater threat to Seventh-day Adventist women throughout the world, Ted Wilson or Donald Trump? Granted, a woman is more likely to be sexually abused by Trump than Wilson. But Wilson, not Trump, promotes a theology that demeans women, that demeans the Creator of those women.

It has been reported that South American Division has voted that only ordained males may teach theology in the institutions of higher learning. That policy is not the fault of Donald Trump.

There are plenty of catalysts that urge us to persevere in doing what is right.


I think America should have had better choices but Hillary should not have even been in the running. Can there somehow be an intellectually honest template for relative morality and virtues? How about starting with the actual historical record of how one has affected others in the role of governing. Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most corrupt person, regardless of gender, to run for office. Let’s start there.


Please don’t make Trump vs Hillary a man vs woman thing. Hillary lost not because she was a woman but because she represents a corrupt establishment that people were sick of. They thought that taking a chance with a non-career politician was better than continuing with the Democrats and the Clinton dynasty and all its scandals and lies. Notwithstanding Trump’s bragging, it’s not something he was promoting during his campaign.


I believe you have far more to be concerned about with Ted Wilson as President of the SDA Church, than with Donald Trump as President of the US.

The juxtaposition of the events of the church Annual Council & Unity Document with the US Presidential Election, represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the forces presently driving American public opinion, and the reasons for Trump’s success.

Those who joined General Conference president Ted Wilson in support of the document tended to be delegates from south of the equator who mostly remained silent during the debate. Inversely, the majority of delegates who spoke up did so in opposition to the document and included many North American Division and European leaders.

Interestingly enough, with one or two exceptions, nearly all the polls predicted a Clinton victory. What did they do wrong? Who did they miss?

You ask: “Where are more than half of the church?” Well, did you also mean the women and men from third class divisions who happen to constitute the vast majority in our church? Do their votes and voices matter to North Americans and Europeans? Can they see us?

Pray, please clarify what you mean by “third class divisions”? I hope you’re not saying what I think you’re saying . . .