Powerful Voices: “Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage,” edited by Holly Welker

baring_witnessEver wonder how those beaming brides posing outside the LDS temple really feel? Are they happy? Are they nervous? Are they resigned? All or none of the above? “Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage” provides some answers to those questions. Elegantly written and meticulously edited, Holly Welker’s new anthology gives voice to a diverse group of LDS women, all of whom felt compelled to fulfill the faith’s unyielding expectation that they become wives and mothers.

In choosing contributors who are straight, gay, single, married, divorced, ethnically dissimilar, and in various stages of belief, Welker avoids the trap of promoting an agenda, and instead presents a fascinating and objective view of Mormon marriage and culture, one that both reflects and resonates with the larger LDS community.

Finding herself single and in her 30’s, Naomi Watkins realizes she has no contingency plan. Only Plan A: “meet a returned missionary, date, fall in love, get married, have a basketball team of babies, and live happily ever after.” Still devout to the faith, she continues to pursue that plan, and hopes for the best, in spite of past disappointments.

Marie Brian exposes the Mormon practice of “creative dating,” describing carriage rides in her pajamas, messy spaghetti dinners (no forks allowed), even a pretend date with a dressed-up dummy she’d attached with a balloon head. “At the time, I didn’t think there was anything risqué about dating something you inflated with your own breath,” she recalls.

Brian’s gem of a story hit me close to home. As a student at BYU, I took part in a number of these elaborate stunts, once dressing up as “James, your chauffeur” for a formal gala at McDonald’s. Evidently, no wholesome Mormon courtship is complete without a cross-dressing activity, a public parade in one’s nightclothes, or the unwitting participation in some sexually themed role-play.

Another standout is Bernadette Echols’ concise and eloquent piece on Mormon divorce. “Our strained and stoic goodbye hung awkwardly in the air by the back door before joining the billowing clouds of dust he churned up as he went rumbling, storming, careening down the dirt driveway,” she begins.

Suddenly abandoned, Echols turns to her ward for sympathy where she finds none. “Were they too ashamed of what had happened to me to speak of it, or did they imagine I was?” she asks. Meanwhile, her cousin, a newly widowed LDS woman, is embraced and comforted by her ward family. Rejected by her own, Echols finds solace in a divorce recovery program at a Methodist Church. It is there that she learns that “one is a whole number.”

The stories continue, different Mormon women with different Mormon marriages: same-sex, mixed-race, inter-faith, and plural. Some succeed. Some fail and try again. And some go on to “Plan B,” content with the knowledge that “one is a whole number.”

Filled with humor, pathos, and honesty, “Baring Witness” presents a powerful contribution to the body of Mormon prose, as well as a keen insight into the minds and hearts of those beaming brides posing outside the LDS temple.

Baring Witness

36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage

Edited by Holly Welker

275 pgs. University of Illinois Press $19.95

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Mormon integrity edition!

It’s starting to look more and more like Hillary Clinton has a shot at winning Utah in the upcoming US election!!

I’m really proud of the Mormons for having rejected Donald Trump months ago — as a matter of integrity — rather than supporting him out of expedience or making excuses for his despicable behavior because he’s on the Republican team. This past week there’s been a particularly awesome new development as the CoJCoL-dS has just signaled to its members that it’s OK to vote for Hillary Clinton by running positive pieces about her character and values in the church newspaper, the Deseret News!

She spoke out often about the persecution of religious minorities, even when doing so was politically unpopular. I saw her bring together faith leaders in places ranging from Abuja to Tatarstan and advocate for the principle that people should be able to worship how, where, and what they may.

She is also very familiar with the church. Once, over boiled meat in a Mongolian yurt, we spent an entire evening discussing the gospel, the church’s welfare system, and her visits to church historical sites. Long before that, as a young mother, she adopted the practice of family home evening and credited the church with the idea in her memoirs.

Steve Evans of BCC made some really excellent points about why it’s a good idea to vote for Hillary Clinton:

I view Donald Trump as threatening the rule of law and the peaceful transition of power from administration to administration. He has specifically called upon “the Second Amendment people” to do something about his rival, Hillary Clinton. He has repeatedly suggested that the polls are rigged. He has also repeatedly said that if he loses the election, it would be the result of fraud and rigged voting machines. Trump has hinted that armed insurrection in the face of such a rigged election would be appropriate. That’s such an awful threat to make in America.

Under normal circumstances, it would be sufficient to have Trump lose and disappear back into his reality TV netherworld. But here, the specter of his vote fraud allegations is so problematic that he must not just be defeated, but defeated beyond all margin of possible tainted vote. As a Canadian I like a multi-party system (Sorry, Hugh B. Brown!). But when you’re facing a threatening demagogue you don’t splinter the opposition. Trump must be defeated by a completely undisputable margin. Hence McMullin is not an option despite him being a decent person (if underqualified). Gary Johnson is not an option for many other reasons as well.

Of course it’s not like the Mormon political leaders have become perfect or something:

I am a daughter. A sister. An aunt. Someday, I might be a wife or a mother. But I’m here, on the internet today, to tell you that I am a human being first.

Now, I don’t necessarily blame you for your misconceptions on this point. Not only are your misogynistic notions of my humanity reinforced by the patriarchal structure of US society, but you also belong to a church that teaches that a woman’s power comes from being a wife and mother. It’s easy to see how you might be confused.

Many Mormons who hate both Clinton and Trump will be voting for the Mormon candidate McMullin, but some of the faithful don’t like him either. Then there’s a particularly scary facet of the Mormons’ dilemma: the Mormons who openly welcome armageddon:

While the collapse will be sad, I look forward to it. The signs of the times are screaming at us from all sides, and yet we seem to ignore them (or are afraid to look). It will be the collapse that opens the door for us to start over and build Zion on Constitutional principles.

The fact that someone like Trump would be running as the candidate of the religious seems absurd (until you read the Bible a little).

Naturally, the discussion of the last General Conference continues! If you were wondering why people go to General Conference and vote “opposed”, you can read all about it — straight from the horse’s mouth. One of the interesting theological points raised in conference is the claim that God’s love is conditional.

There were some great discussions of Mormonism this past week! You can’t blame all the bad stuff in Mormonism on “the culture” since Mormon culture is the result of Mormon doctrine. Plus there was rape culture at church, the economics of “baseball baptisms,” challenging the addiction paradigm with regard to pornography, and a defense of the Nauvoo Expositor.

Thinker of Thoughts shared a discussion that he had with a believer about why the talk “Behold Thy Mother” was troubling. And it seems like fewer people are converting to Mormonism.

In life journeys, we have a memory of Mormon boundary problems. Also, delving too far into the church is as likely to lead you out as not being in deeply enough. In personal stories, we have a first-hand account of living in an “eternal polygamy” family.

Sorry for the lateness of this week’s episode. My cousin was visiting, and yesterday was her only full day in Zürich, so naturally I wanted to spend the day with her. But she left this morning, so now I’ve had the fun of reviewing all that’s happened in Mormon news of the past week! Enjoy!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Where you’ll go edition!

Has Trump finally crossed the line? Nothing Trump said in the leaked recording is particularly surprising coming from him, but maybe hearing it in his own voice will end some of the denial…? And it looks like the Mormons are first in line to dump Trump!

As I’ve said before, it would be awesome if Utah put itself on the political map this November by refusing to give its electoral votes to the Republican nominee, but it’s far from a sure thing. We can’t get complacent. We have a race between an extremely qualified/competent candidate and a candidate who is probably the most grotesquely unqualified presidential candidate nominated by a major party in the history of the US (and that’s saying something), so let’s band together and avert disaster. (If you’re a US citizen and not registered, your time is running out.)

At least we have General Conference to cheer us up. Elder Ballard gave all of us exmos the most charming gift when he asked “If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go?”

Thanks for asking! Oh the places we’ll go! Let us tell you all about it:

Where will we go? We’ll go wherever the hell we want to go. We’ll go to the real world where science can teach us about the elements and the origin of the earth and species, where rationalism can help us form values and opinions without relying on a magical worldview, and where technological and medicinal advances are causing more lame to walk, more deaf to hear and more blind to see than religion ever has.

We’ll go where truth is the authority, rather than the inverse. We’ll go where we can let our intellect sprawl without limitation. We’ll go where questions and progressive views are valued rather than suppressed. We’ll go where doubt is recognized as the beginning of wisdom, and not a spiritual “infirmity.”

We’ll go outward, becoming a more integrated part of a local, national, or global community.


So, to whom shall we go when we leave the church? Does it matter? We go where our heart, our brain, our conscience takes us, and we find a happy and authentic life. Elder Ballard seems to be suggesting, as my mother would about people breaking the Sabbath, that people who leave only “look happy” but aren’t really happy.

But we are. I am, anyway.

The other inspiring General Conference image was that of the women with the purple umbrellas standing up for themselves and asking to be heard. Also, if you parse President Monson’s talk very, very carefully, it appears that wine and beer are now OK for Mormons.

The leaked videos contain some interesting revelations, such as the fact that the primary goal of the church history department isn’t history, a fixation on homosexuality, and the CoJCoL-dS influencing US policy through a relationship with a US senator, yielding the lovely new term “church-broke”:

This term is used by church leaders, often with a chuckle (as in the video), as a way to describe people the church desires most, those who are willing to do whatever they are told, no questions asked.

There was also an interesting discussion of why the CoJCoL-dS is not retaining young single adults (hint: the organization can’t see them as anything other than children). Here’s a great strategy: just pretend like the problem is due to North-Vietnam-style propaganda!

Thunderchicken told a heartfelt exit story about trying to make it work in the church.

In not-so-Mormon-related, Tracy M posted a fascinating tour of Washington DC’s new museum. (Or maybe there is a Mormon connection.)

So it’s been an exciting weekend-after-conference-weekend, as usual. Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference Time Edition!

It’s waiting time! General Conference is upon us with all that entails! As usual, it will take a bit of time for the juiciest nuggets to hit the discussion circuit. Apparently there’s also supposed to be something newsworthy in the batch of leaked documents that we’ll be hearing about soon. (* ETA: Some leaked videos made the news.) So far, the biggest scoop was that they had someone kneeling behind the prophet (to hold him up while giving his talk…?).

Actually, since the women’s session was last week, we’ve already got some commentary on some of the gems like this missive from a speaker who is apparently reporting from some alternate reality:

We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married, those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices.

If only that were true, what a wonderful world for young women Mormonism would be! At least the CoJCoL-dS removed a verse from the YW’s lesson manual about how victims of sexual assault are permanently diminished, which is a good start. Although if they’d actually denounce/correct the bad teachings instead of just silently deleting them, that would be so much more awesome.

But virginity and motherhood aren’t the only messages the CoJCoL-dS has for women. There’s also the critical importance of not being fat:

One woman talks about how she still gets “dates” even though she’s fat, so she has no motivation to lose weight. How sad that is. The only reason she could possibly have to want to lose weight is to find a man? What about losing it because you want to? I also find it very strange that this film makes these women out to be binge and compulsive overeaters. Yes, it’s true that many people are heavy simply because they eat too much, but that’s not always true. The truth is, being overweight is a complex problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. I am myself overweight, but I don’t eat three bowls of ice cream in a sitting, as is depicted in this film.

To get rich view of Mormon women’s experiences, you can read this fantastic new book full of Mormon women’s personal experiences with love, sex, and marriage: Baring Witness. I contributed an essay to it, and I’m re-reading and enjoying it now. You’ll hear more about it in this space, but to start with, here’s what the Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack had to say about it.

LGBT suicide continues to ravage the Mormon world, and the hate fueling this crisis is shockingly open. To the point where Mormons can’t believe that the CoJCoL-dS would have anything positive to say about gay people. This past week there were personal discussions of the problem on Infants on Thrones and another by the Crazy Mormon:

There were a lot of things that happened at the time that furthered my isolation and depression, some of which were at hands of LDS bishops and therapists. My bishop told me that being gay could be cured, that it had to do with a problematic relationship with parents. Therapists told me the atonement would cure me of my homosexuality. Reading statements from church leaders condemning homosexuality (especially The Miracle of Forgiveness) made things worse.

Other discussion topics from the past week include religious-based workplace harassment, polygamy’s lasting impact on Mormonism, perfectionism, going to hell, cognitive dissonance, and how the church’s bone-headed inflexibility turns membership into more a burden than a balm.

Also this book about Joseph Smith’s seer stones looks interesting, and Thinker of Thoughts transcribed a talk that was mysteriously without transcription.

I hope you’re enjoying this conference weekend — with or without traditional items like cinnamon rolls and/or actually listening to conference. Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Exposed Edition!

So, you may have heard that a bunch of internal documents from the CoJCoL-dS got leaked to the exmo reddit the other day (by a disgruntled former employee?). The consensus appears to be that they don’t contain anything too surprising, but perhaps it’s interesting to see how the church functions like any other corporation. And maybe something more interesting will turn up as people examine the documents.

Probably more shocking is the church’s blatant re-writing of quotes in order to pretend that Brigham Young didn’t teach that Adam is God. This was described in a blog post last year, and was recently reviewed in a really interesting podcast (long, but worth it!).

General Conference season is upon us, and Ordain Women has another action planned. Apparently the CoJCoL-dS has been using the metaphor of an umbrella to explain why it’s OK for only men to hold the priesthood (because one person can hold it while it protects everyone). Interestingly (ironically?) this metaphor does exactly the opposite — as anyone who has shared an umbrella knows, it doesn’t work nearly as well as individual umbrellas. So the event involves holding umbrellas while asking the church leadership to meet with Ordain Women. (It might not be too late to get an umbrella if you’re interested.)

Also note: the Exponent II is holding an essay contest.

Speaking of priesthood authority, the infants described some disturbing misuse.

In news of the fringes of Mormonism, some real estate developer is creating a Zion scam, Kody Brown is upgrading his harem, and it looks like now Denver Snuffer is claiming to be a prophet.

In discussions, we have Joseph Smith’s magic worldview and the equinox, Book-of-Mormon-Jesus misquoting Isaiah, some responses to a TED talk on the evils of porn, and is this “temple worship” image real???

In life journeys, a woman described coming out as a lesbian Mormon, the infants presented some accounts of LGBT suicides in the CoJCoL-dS, Andrew Hackman and his brother podcasted about their life journeys, an exmormon recounted the death of his wife, and the Gay Mormon Southpaw is having second thoughts about dating gay Mormons.

And let’s close with another seasonal item: Pumpkin Spice Rice Crispy Treats!

Happy reading — and if you happen upon anything interesting in the leaked documents, please tell me!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: The women problem edition!

Michael Austin of BCC pointed out that the BYU system of universities is one of the worst offenders when it comes to gender disparity in the faculty (check out these graphs!). In related news, a story from a Utah High School went viral when cheerleaders were asked not to wear their uniforms to school (the uniforms assigned to them by the school) because some dude complained of “impure thoughts”.

This may be related to teaching unhealthy messages about sexuality:

The religious world is (and has always been) OBSESSED with the concept of virginity. Specifically female virginity (notice that most of the scriptures regarding “virtue” refer to women). So much so, that Jesus’s mother was a virgin upon giving birth to him (wait…what?). When you’re a young girl raised upon these messages, they don’t just become a part of your belief system. They are ingrained in you.

The CoJCoL-dS can’t seem to do anything right. From early-morning seminary to ridiculously inflexible callings to denouncing things that bring family and community pleasurable bonding moments together like missionary farewells and Pokémon Go.

Of course the Catholics have also ignited some controversy with the beatification of Mother Theresa.

There were some great interfaith interactions this past week like giving the mishies free food and fun conversation. And who knew there was a positive side to cleaning the toilets at the local chapel?

In other topics, we have Dad’s Primal Scream musing about relationships, a Mormon version of the classic “12-step program”, and shedding superstition.

Let’s close on a positive note with a letter of good advice for a new Mormon bishop. Plus Summer’s on the wane, which means it’s time for Autumn cooking, and some of the fun of being Mormon:

Part of this is my Mormon frugality. I grew up with an enormous garden in the backyard and adventures of picking plums off a wild tree in the empty lot to make jelly. The huge concord grape vine that acts as a privacy fence in the backyard also makes intensely flavored bottled juice that we enjoyed all winter. Our big raspberry and strawberry patches supplied tastes of sunshine that we could freeze or bottle and open back up when we started to forget the tastes of summer.

Hope you’re enjoying the season! And happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Where’s Mom edition!

So, what’s up with Heavenly Mother? What do Mormons even believe about Her? Here’s an interesting theory (and rebuttal):

Recently, it was suggested in another blog post featured in Young Mormon Feminists that Heavenly Mother was Lucifer and that Heavenly Father viewed her as narcissistic and attention seeking. As a result, Heavenly Father turned against all those who were made in Heavenly Mother’s image- namely her daughters. Consequently, Eve was demonized once partaking of the “apple”, and all her female children would be barred from the Priesthood. Man would now rule over us.

The Zelph folks have isolated the root problem of the CoJCoL-dS. I agree that’s the central point, and yet there’s so much more! Take this fascinating and chilling bit of history for instance:

No acknowledgment or reply was ever received. Four months later came the excommunication of several vocal members of the Mormon academic and intellectual community in September 1993–The September Six. Among those excommunicated were some members of the Mormon Alliance. So perhaps, an answer to this letter was actually received, although in a way which reinforced the message of its warning.

Another effect of the lack of transparency is that people are stuck trying to piece together cryptic clues to figure out the CoJCoL-dS’s positions on central issues:

Senior Mormon apostle Russell M. Nelson gave the LDS Church’s hotly debated policy about gay couples and their children extra emphasis when he declared the action came as the result of a revelation from heaven to the faith’s prophet.


A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has confirmed that the Nelson illustration has been removed from the lesson on “prophets and revelation” — as Mormon authorities continue to develop the new online training for teachers who instruct Mormon high-schoolers.

What the deletion means remains an open question.

For those members who want to see borderline members stay in the fold, there are good approaches and bad approaches:

Others were visibly so uncomfortable to be talking undies with a middle age sweating bro, they’d just checked out. Trying to drum up enthusiasm for the topic, he asked us to share how we are blessed by keeping our covenants to wear the garment appropriately. Sweet sweet awkward silence ensued. The sole comment was from an 80 year old lady who laughingly said “wearing too little hasn’t even crossed my mind the last two decades.” The RS women roared. Our stake is old as sin. Active young families are few and far between, we’ve got REAL problems, and THIS is the special message the stake delivers? Are they polling, carefully observing, or using peep(ing) stones to determine our inappropriate under-wearing? I could feel the RS president sitting next to me face palming with every fiber of her being.

In Mormon culture topics, we have Mormons and suicide, blaming girls for getting raped, and (not entirely unrelated) Mormons convincing themselves that sexual orientation is made up. Contrary to popular Mormon belief, sex addiction is not a thing.

Then there were a few lighter Mormon culture topics: Do Mormons really believe some of the wilder stuff in their scriptures? And that odd custom of using “Brother” and “Sister” as titles:

My personal favorite comes from when I was a small-town cop.

Weeping suspect: “Why won’t you give me a blessing, Brother Kirby?”

Me: “Because, dumbass, you’re under arrest for punching your wife. This is jail. You get a phone call but no blessing.”

And in life journeys, iGenIvy is celebrating the modern opportunities to make a positive change in the world and Monica has been falling in love again.

What a week! Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Back to school edition!

Sadly, Summer is on the wane — it’s time for the fun of seminary with some changes to the curriculum! Even better — Free BYU announced that BYU is starting to relax its “leave Mormonism and get expelled” policy:

While bishops can still refuse or revoke an ecclesiastical endorsement for any reason, they’re no longer involved in what happens thereafter. School officials no longer “freely communicate with” a student’s “present and former ecclesiastical leaders” when the student applies for an exception to the endorsement requirement (unless the student asks them to); in fact, they don’t even review the bishop’s decision to withdraw or deny the endorsement. Of course this affords greater respect and protection for the personal information that students disclose in confidence to their trusted (or once-trusted, as the case may be) spiritual advisors. It also serves to reduce the influence that lay clergy members have over students’ academic and professional careers and should enhance the consistency of the decisions made regarding student retention as well as the extent to which these decisions remain within the confines of accreditation standards.

This puts me in the mood for some scripture study!:

Whoa, hold up there. You can’t just drop some earth-shattering miracle into the middle of a sentence like it’s no big thing and then steamroll on through a list of names that we’ll never need to remember.

I mean, sure, if Nephi raised his brother from the dead, that’s awesome. It bears mentioning. In fact, that kind of faith-promoting story should have its own chapter. Maybe they could have made space for it on the gold plates by skipping an Isaiah chapter or two.

And here’s some seasonal excitement — this election season could finally be the one that puts Mormons on the political map!!

The fact that some early Utah polls had Clinton ahead of Trump caught the attention of the entire political class. Both Democrats and Libertarians started campaigning heavily in Utah, and Republicans, worried that they might lose in the reddest state in the Union, had to follow suit. If this goes on for a few election cycles, people might start talking about “the Mormon vote” the way that they talk about “the Catholic vote” today: something contested, or at least contestable, that needs to be carefully cultivated and taken seriously. If Hillary Clinton becomes the first Democrat in three generations to win the presidential vote in Utah, both parties will have to re-examine their current electoral calculus, which for the last fifty years has been, “ignore Mormons and focus on swing voters.”

In LDS-interest news, Misty Snow — the first trans-woman nominated for senate by one of the major political parties — is running in Utah! FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs has given the law the slip, and his lawyer argued that he might have been raptured. And the new laws agains religious proselytizing in Russia have led to at least one LDS missionary deportation.

In LDS discussion topics we have a very good analogy to illustrate the central problem with Facsimile No. 1, assigned friends, and some peculiar experiences that are weirdly typical for Mormon kids:

At the ages of six and seven, I really internalized the teaching that children who died before the age of accountability would be guaranteed exaltation. I also didn’t learn too much (i.e., anything) about grace, and it was pretty clear to me that that was likely my only shot, since as soon as I was baptized and became responsible for my sins, I was sure to sin up such a storm that I would never be able to keep track of and repent of them all. Considering these facts, I mused a fair amount about suicide. I wasn’t particularly depressed; I was just thinking through things logically. I never made anything like a concrete plan, but I often turned the idea over in my mind, and wished that I could come up with a way to make it happen. It seemed perfectly in line with what I was learning at church: better to suffer a small pain now and have happiness later than avoid pain now and have sadness later.

The CoJCoL-dS’s relations with women have traditionally been strained, due in part to restrictions on devotion towards Heavenly Mother and all of the things women in the CoJCoL-dS are missing out on:

1. Informal blessings, i.e. healing blessings, father’s blessings, even baby blessings and dedications of houses, chapels, and temples

2. Formal ordinances, i.e. baptisms, sacrament

3. Church governance, i.e. bishops, stake presidents, and the ability (apparently) to preside over most mixed-sex organizations

I hope that the common practice of LDS bishops grilling kids on masturbation in closed-door interviews will stop, not to mention other questionable training for girls. (And, in case that stuff isn’t bad enough, the CoJCoL-dS has to get in one last jab when a woman leaves.)

In life journeys, continuing to care about Mormonism after leaving the CoJCoL-dS is a valid and healthy option — though one’s feelings often mellow a bit and you might feel freer to explore your feelings and find inspiration in new places. Also the leaving process could be made more friendly. They might consider not kicking so many people out. OTOH, if you’re looking for a good reason to leave Mormonism, some pick-up artists have identified Mormon women as good targets (because of LDS ladies’ submissiveness). And check out this powerful painting!

And in not-mo-related, the old grouch reviewed Ann Coulter’s new book and the Mormon Child Bride is sharing her memoir writing project adventures!

Now that Summer’s over, I hope to get my schedule back on track. I hope you’ve had a lovely season as well — but if not, at least have a good week, and happy reading! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness:

This week Elder Holland has launched another attack on secularism (which drew some criticism). On the other hand, a speaker at the FairMormon Conference advised Mormons to “make secularism an ally rather than a bogeyman.” With the rise of Trump some faithful Mormons are finally getting the picture that their marriage to the religious right (political movement) is kind of ill-advised:

If any of the speculation about Trump’s long-run interests in competing with Fox turn out to be true, then—even if he loses the election—it could very well mean that we’ll see a rising media conglomerate drawing a bulls-eye on Mormonism from the right of the American political spectrum.

There have been some fantastic church-related discussions lately, such as
an insightful new perspective on counting your blessings, a history of BYU-Hawaii and The Proclamation, details of a bishop asking sexual questions to an 8-year-old as a part of the baptism process, more stories of missionaries coming home early, modesty creep, a great new use for General Conference, addressing homophobia through BYU football, and the shady dealings of Paul H. Dunnand others:

I write this post with not a little irritation that the Mormonism that currently presents is encumbered by an unfathomable immaturity in its organisational culture that draws a hard line in the sand, rejecting anything and anyone who might disrupt the ‘good’ members’ intractable confidence that the church is perfect and without accountability for any misdeed that occurs within its dominion. It has few checks in its systems that arrests its constant reproduction of the spiritually juvenile, organisationally infantile and obdurate cultural rule that all Mormons must protect the Church’s good name whether deserved or not. This is a dangerous nonsense and leads me to ask:

“What is a good name?” A good name is earned; it’s not coerced and bullied out of its adherents.

I think my favorite recent discussion, though, was this list of recommended changes to the CoJCoL-dS. I’ve seen lists of what the church can do to improve that are basically like “denounce Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and replace them with (Evangelical) Christian theology,” but this one is different — it’s a comprehensive list of simple policy changes that would make a huge improvement without compromising Mormonism’s unique character. The pervasive sexism is something that does harm and could be addressed (think Mormon Women’s Position and Organization Names and Titles) as well as transparency issues and other problems.

The new semester is starting, so it’s time to deconstruct this year’s scripture lessons! Plus check in with Jesus in the Book of Mormon (not to mention Corianton and Lucretia).

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Sunstone Fiction Contest!

In life journeys, Ben described coming out as a gay Mormon, and Natasha Helfer Parker explained why she stays Mormon:

And I get the question a lot. From my own. “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just leave?” And from those outside, like this thread. “If it’s so harmful, why are you still in?” They are both valid questions. But I still have the belief that I have a right to Mormonism on my own terms. That I have the right to my beliefs and the many ways LDS doctrine is relevant in my life, to the many spiritual experiences I’ve had within this faith, and to the community I have served and been served by since my parents converted when I was five years old — even as I have the right to call out the harm I see and the ways I hope we can improve and change. It’s a journey after all. I have a right to stay or go… and I choose to stay.

In not-Mo-related, we have a poem about identity, using cannons as musical instruments and churches as armed camps, and other metamorphoses. Plus another one of my puppet shows.

Thanks to all for your patience with my irregular vacation posting schedule. Since it’s already mid-week, I think I’ll probably skip next Sunday and do another week-and-a-half SiOB the following week. I hope to see you then!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Vacation edition!

Yes, it’s vacation season here in Europe! All the fascinating news and stories keep pouring in from Mormon-land, but sadly I have not had time to gather them up for you.

I put off putting up this post because I kept thinking “I will have some point have a block of time when I can do SiOB…” And it kept not happening. It’s surprising how time-consuming vacation can be, especially considering how little travel we’re doing this year. I don’t think I’ll have time to do a catch up post until probably the middle of next week. :(

In the meantime, please give a warm welcome to the newest members of Outer Blogness: Gen-X Gillian and iGenIvy!

You bet, “born in the covenant” is a big deal, hence the bulk of church membership. But when one leaves all behind, to walk free into the beautiful world, what about those venerated ancestors? After growing up cousin to the current prophet, g-g-granddaughter of The Greatest Missionary, sure, there’s DNA baggage walking away with me.

(Little did I know g-g-grandaddy’s contribution was challenged as belonging to JS, since g-g-grandma spent the years her husband served missions as a single-parent, thus vulnerable to “The Prophet’s” wily charms. DNA testing resolved that claim in the late-90s.)