Sunday in Outer Blogness: Still still not OK edition!

Awards season is almost upon us, and this year’s race for X-Mormon of the year is likely to be our most exciting ever! I hope to have the nominations thread up on Friday of this coming week.

The depressing part is that things are still not OK in this world. In addition to all the Fascism and sexism, it’s starting to look like we’re losing the race between fixing things and extinction. Maybe it’s time to join the resistance? I hope it will not be futile.

Anyway, sorry to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time. Let’s have some stories of hope! Novus Uomo is getting back to embracing life. GenX Gillian found the opportunity to apologize for a past fault. And some formerly-active exmo bloggers have started a new blogging community!

Other people are doing lots of cool stuff! Ben is creating a space for gay Mormons in Tucson, Froggie is making caramel apple pie, and Tracy M is stress-knitting.

Then we have church-related discussions like what’s up with Jesus, when Mormonism stopped polygamy, and fixing the problems with Gospel Doctrine lessons and the problems with priesthood.

The CoJCoL-dS has produced another round of ad-hominem for those who leave the church:

In many cases, students in similar circumstances made opposing choices. She went back through taped interviews with students and detailed what she learned in a spreadsheet.

“What I have been able to understand is why people stay,” she said. She boiled it down to character. Those who stayed active in the church exhibited patience, faith and trust in Jesus Christ, hope, knowledge and wisdom, obedience, diligence and persistence, humility, repentance and forgiveness, charity and virtue.

And the exmos have responded.

In lessons for ladies, we have adventures in modesty enforcement, and the subtext of some church lessons:

In my ten year old mind I translated this lesson as: I am just something to trade around. I am an object. I won’t have a voice in this world. Nobody mentioned if Heber’s wife had a say in the exchange. It was just a fate she needed to accept.

Those are the realities I began to understand as a ten year old girl- these are the teachings that shaped my understanding about myself and what my destiny and purpose was: that God blessed men with women. The more righteous a man, the more women he would be rewarded with.

That message just continued to be reinforced as Johnny Lingo became a seminary and YW/YM favorite. Women do not have a choice. We marry for the priesthood. A man will decide our worth.

And some women are seeking the divine feminine.

Here’s to surviving another week!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Quick break edition!

Hi folks, I have been too depressed about the state of the world to do SiOB this week, sorry. SiOB will be back next week, and we have an exciting awards season coming up soon!

In the meantime, I’m taking a pause for some less-stressful activities: drawing my comic book, reorganizing my apartment, and, of course, a distracting video game:






I just finished my Pokédex yesterday (minus all that aren’t currently gettable here in Europe). I even caught Ditto twice! I hope to have the energy to get back to the real world soon…

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Still not OK edition!

So, the reason I didn’t get SiOB done yesterday is explained in this helpful comic. I was thinking that rounding up this past week’s Mormon discussion would distract me from our current crisis of democracy, but it appears that the LDS-interest bloggers are also still talking about the election.

Well, a few people talked about some other topics:

In good news, the CoJCoL-dS has discontinued use of the infamous “little factories” pamphlet.

There was also a new infographic inspired by one of the essays, and Zina responded to an article about Satan telling a woman she’s not pretty.

Then there were a couple of interesting exit stories and a letter from a young Mormon just came out as transgender. Additionally, you may have seen some drama recently on the exmo reddit — here’s the explanation.

Good luck to all — let’s see what next week will bring!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Mourning in America edition!

Folks, I wish I had some good news for you. Unfortunately, we’re screwed. The fact that Mormons voted overwhelmingly for Trump was a particularly cruel disappointment, especially for their fellow religious minorities.

I’m not really sure what’s in store for our species, for our future, but I guess after a bit of self-care to recover our strength, we’ll get up and think of something.

Can we make sense of what happened? Can we heal this rift?

The problem is that hate won. This was a victory for bigoted violence and intimidation. Many friends are saying that only love can beat hate, but I’d rather stand by the disenfranchised than go make friends with the folks who don’t have a big problem with white supremacists.

That said, some liberal Mormons are doing an impressive job of explaining the sadness and reaching out:

So here we are, it’s three days after General Conference, Korihor is the prophet, and you’re scrambling. How could this have happened? This is the guy who said, “Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.” This is the guy who spent years “leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.” But it’s no mistake, it’s no April Fool’s joke — it’s real.

I guess life goes on. A visit from the mishies brought back some memories. Madteaparty42’s exit story explained one of the big keys to why people leave the CoJCoL-dS. Plus there was an interesting article on Mormon and Jewish dating demographics, and I stumbled upon two fun new LDS-interest comics!

Good luck to us all — we’ll need it!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Unhappy anniversary edition!

One year ago yesterday, the members of the CoJCoL-dS learned that their church had launched a new policy of excluding the children of same-sex couples from the church’s principal ordinances. This one event broke many people’s hope that the CoJCoL-dS would one day do right by its LGBTQ members, and dramatically changed their feelings about the church — and caused a world of hurt.

So this whole week, the Mormon blogosphere has seen an outpouring of feelings about this unhappy anniversary.

Among the reminiscences, we have a fascinating first-hand account from “the first person to put the baby blessing and baptism portions of the November 5 policy in a publicly-accessible space online”. Of course the central point to remember from his story is the following:

The identity of “the leaker” should’ve been obvious to everyone from Day One. The “leaker” was …. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the internet age, when you send an email to thousands of recipients, YOU’VE LEAKED YOUR OWN DOCUMENT. It is therefore absurd to fret about the singular source of a public dissemination, as if there couldn’t be 99 separate sources.

Exactly. When it first appeared, it didn’t occur to me to worry about the psychology of “the leaker” because — if thousands of people have access to this information — their roll-out was the equivalent of handing it directly to the press. Better, in fact, because their attempt at keeping this critical information secret gave the story a more enticing hook.

Needless to say, this event inspired many people to finally leave the CoJCoL-dS.

In other news, the US election isn’t over yet. The Mormons got some praise from an unlikely source for the integrity I recently praised.

And life goes on! In other topics we have the horror that is modesty education, how the CoJCoL-dS values single women (or not), gendered behavior expectations, the life of Oliver Cowdery, God as a bully, and proof that Trump is Hebrew!

Not-Mormon-related exactly, but can we talk about the situation for Native Americans defending their water supply and land they own while a notorious band of white criminals got no punishment for their siege of public land…?

I guess this time I can’t really wish you all happy reading — and this week promises to be a nail-biting one! — but in case you didn’t notice it, you may be interested in checking out ProfXM’s new post on City Creek ads embracing “the world”.

City Creek Center – breeding cynicism

I’m an alumnus of the University of Utah.  As an alumnus, I get their alumni magazine, Continuum.  With all of the other stuff I have to read, I rarely read the magazine all that closely.  I typically just skim through the articles, looking for anything that might seem interesting.  The latest issue was fine, but one thing did catch my eye – an advertisement for City Creek Center.

We all know that City Creek Center is a for-profit shopping center owned by the LDS Church.  That, in itself, breeds a fair amount of cynicism about the motives of the Church.  But the ad went so, so much further.  Here’s the full page advertisement in its entirety:

Full page advertisement in Continuum.
Full page advertisement in Continuum.

You’re probably already seeing some of the issues with this ad, but, in case you don’t, let me go ahead and point out the most obvious ones for you.

First, the women (presumably – I don’t want to gender people, but let’s go with that intended perception) in the upper left quadrant aren’t dressed “modestly” by Church standards:

No garments.
No garments.

I, of course, think there is nothing wrong with this.  But, in a church that photoshops sleeves on little girls to make them appear more modest, this seems a little cynical to me.  It’s like the Church is saying, “City Creek Center isn’t really for Mormons.”

On to the guy on the right.  See any problems given what the LDS Church teaches its members about “proper” dress?

Who is this ex-Mormon?
Who is this ex-Mormon?

It doesn’t get much more “heathen” than this guy.  No garments, obviously!  A man-bun?  And facial hair?  My old stake president would be calling him in for a worthiness interview instantly.  Yeah, he may be physically fit and attractive, but temple recommend holder he is not.  Again, what message is City Creek Center sending with this particular picture?

Now for the coup de grace, this smaller photo:

That's not water in that glass.
That’s not water in that glass.

The two glasses on the right very well could be water.  Of course, vodka and a variety of other liquors are transparent, too, so it may be something else.  And giving that they are clinking their glasses together and saying something like “cheers,” I’m inclined to think it’s not water (though the middle individual sure has a lot of whatever is in her glass if it’s not water).  Regardless of the two on the right, the glass on the left is definitely not water.  Perhaps it’s carbonated apple juice, ’cause, sure, that’s what they have in stock at the various restaurants in City Creek Center, right?  But cynical old me is thinking that’s a white wine.  What, then, is the take away from this last image in the advertisement?  Come to City Creek Center where we have alcohol, you can get inebriated, and have fun doing it (they are all smiling, even if the guy on the left is more smirking than smiling).

Overall, then, this ad for City Creek Center – the for profit shopping center run by the LDS Church – is conveying all of the following: we sell clothing that isn’t garment friendly for all genders, it’s okay for men to have long hair and beards, and drinking is fun.  Hmmm… Isn’t that interesting.  Seems like a rather cynical ploy by LDS, Inc. to increase the bottom line at the expense of the values they teach their members.  I can’t help but also note that this ad was in an alumni magazine from the University of Utah.  I’m sure LDS, Inc. would run a different ad in a BYU alumni magazine.

The cynicism of the leaders of LDS, Inc. to put out an advertisement like this should be pretty shocking to me (but it’s not).  It’s like their not even trying to hide their profit-seeking behind “family values” any more.  This ad is a straight up sales pitch to get people to come to City Creek Center and violate the moral teachings of the Church.  Congratulations, LDS, Inc., you win the award for most cynical advertisement of the year!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Mormon and Gay edition!

This past week the CoJCoL-dS launched a new website showcasing some personal stories of how it’s possible to be Mormon and gay — by living a life of celibacy or mixed-orientation-marriage. Well, sort of:

I understand why the November policy wasn’t mentioned, but I couldn’t help but think about it. When Elder Clayton said that he loves gay members and that we have a place in the church I was waiting for the asterisk and footnote that said, “Unless you’re in a committed same-sex relationship or were raised by same-sex parents.” And when Elder Christofferson said that a gay person can serve just like any other member, I was waiting for him to say, “Unless you want to be a full-time seminary teacher or be a temple worker because we don’t let single men do those things.” I get what he’s saying, but I feel like they failed to address the difficulty of our situation as gay Mormons. It is particularly painful for me to be told that I can serve just like anyone else when I have longed to be a seminary teacher and a temple worker and I’m prohibited from doing those things because I’m single.

In fact the new website has inspired quite a lot of heartfelt reactions:

We LGBT members of the Church are reassured that through obedience to the commandments and self-mastery we are going to be able to weather the incessant storms of this life. I can tell you that from my personal experience, and the experiences of many others who have since left the Church before me, that that is not enough.

Perhaps the most touching came from John Gustav-Wrathall:

I had been there by his side for several hours holding his hand, and even though he couldn’t open his eyes, when he first realized it was me there, he started to sob. He just sobbed! And then hours later when he could finally speak, he pulled me up close to him, and he whispered, “You’ve always been here for me!” I replied, “Yes. I love you.”

If you’ve been on Mormon social media lately, you may have noticed a trending hashtag about the “Mormon Mafia”. In a nutshell, it was inspired by the Mormons launching their own alternative candidate for POTUS.

Yes, the US election show isn’t over yet. There have been some positive developments, but it’s not over till it’s over. One of our blogland Mormon prophets is (seriously?) prophesying a Trump win, so it’s not time to get complacent, especially given the threat of illegal poll-watching vigilantes intimidating voters.

Halloween is coming up tomorrow, and “Trunk-or-Treat” is becoming ever more odd:

This is assuming ward members are expected to invite their non-member friends to the Trunk or Treat. Such a thing would never occur to me, but I guess some people would do that. I just think it seems more natural to say, “Hey, they’re giving out candy at Friendly Neighborhood Park. As long as you’re out trick or treating anyway, why not stop by?” rather than, “Hey, my church is giving out candy on Saturday night. Why don’t you dress up your kids in their costumes two days early and drive out there? There might be some donuts left if you get there on time. Yes, we are holding it at rush hour. Before it gets dark, you know!”

After getting rejected by the Big 12, it looks like BYU is finally getting serious about correcting its policies towards those who report sexual assault.

In other news, the Bundy bandits were found not guilty. Plus there are some updates on the Native Americans suing the church for sexual assault during the CoJCoL-dS’s Indian Placement Program.

In random fun, Johnny Townsend’s book The Washing of Brains just won an Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards. Daniel Lewis wrote an allegory about how faith crises are handled. And Runtu explained that (contrary to popular belief), he’s happy.

Happy Halloween and happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: It’s not over till it’s over edition!!

After last week’s high note on US/Utah politics, things are getting muddy again, with Trump triggering PTSD in assault victims, and the news that Utah’s own dark horse (or rather white horse) candidate may actually win in Utah (I guess that’s better than Trump…?)

I think Adam Lee makes a very important point about the election coverage:

We know they’re out there – Clinton got almost 17 million votes in the primaries, more than any other candidate of either party. But to judge by the scanty media coverage, you’d think they were some impersonal force like weather or tides, rather than tens of millions of human beings who presumably have reasons for choosing as they did.

By comparison, rivers of ink have been spilled describing, interviewing, and psychoanalyzing Trump voters, whether sympathetically or critically or some mixture of both.

Remember that mental illness is not to be taken lightly, particularly at this time of year.

In media, Brooke and Casey (of Expert Textperts) have started an awesome new podcast — check it out! And songs in Tyler Glenn’s new album Excommunication are being hailed as our new anthems!

In other LDS news, BYU’s Big 12 bid was rejected, largely due to issues with treatment of those who are different. Also, they can’t seem to stop blaming the victims of their famously boring meetings.

In discussions, how about that dress code? And gravy train? Polygamy and feminism…? And agency and abortion?

BCC has been posting a cool series on helping girls stay in school:

But in all honesty, I didn’t plan on “using” my degree, so I never purposefully thought about a career path in college. I chose those majors because I thought they would be conducive to being a SAHM, and a good “back up career” if I HAD to work. My senior year at BYU, I worked at my aunt’s law firm in Sal Lake City as a legal assistant, and enjoyed the job. Shortly after I graduated I landed a job at a law firm in Provo as a full time legal assistant/file clerk, and soon trained as a paralegal.

In life journeys, aenonemoss recounted a heart-wrenching story of what happens when a 15-year-old LDS girl gets pregnant and is sent away “to live with relatives” to hide it. Dad’s Prima Scream’s daughter is not so keen on church, and ViolaLeDuc is saying goodbye on a beautiful high note:

Nine years ago marriage was something different. It was part of check list to get into heaven. I had to find the right person that would follow the commandments with me. We would live together for eternity….. etc, etc, etc, etc.

Today I am getting married because of a deeper connection I have with my fiancée. I cherish every moment I have with her because this life is all I have. I am living for the now. People tend to think that just because I don’t belief in god(s) my life must be full of less love, but I am finding it to be just the opposite.

Folks, I hope you had a chance to check out Donna Banta’s review of Bearing Witness — I recently got my copy and had a blast re-reading it! Full disclosure: I wrote one of the essays in it, but I can tell you that my essay is not the only reason this fantastic book is worth a read! In case you run out of great stuff to read. 😀

Till next week!

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 seeks support from 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 in their relationships. 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!