Sunday in Outer Blogness: Memorial Edition.

Many of us have spent the past week remembering and grieving for the victims of the massacre in Orlando.

Will this massacre be the one that finally gets sensible gun laws put onto the table in the US? Will it help people (and churches) rethink their anti-gay beliefs and rhetoric? It appears that the shooter’s shame over his own homosexual inclinations (shame he learned from his religion) was a big part of the deadly mix. It’s time to stop telling gay people to change.

And then there’s that election….

The Mormon History Association conference sounds like it was quite interesting, with discussions of race, sexual violence in early Mormon history, and the latest DNA evidence that shows that Sylvia Lyon probably wasn’t Joseph Smith’s daughter (with implications).

In other LDS discussions, why show up for church? What about personal revelation? How about Mormon dietary restrictions? And let’s consider the parallels between Mormon and Muslim polygamy.

Of course there’s more to the discussion of Mormonism and rape culture, including this shocker:

she went on to tell us about a mother of teenage sons who had a “Modesty Closet.” If one of her sons’ dates was dressed in spaghetti straps or something else they felt was too revealing, they would make her choose a sweater from the Modesty Closet to cover herself up before continuing the date.

In life journeys, Monica has reevaluated her relationships, Jana contemplated choosing happiness, and a Mormon woman got some dating advice from her bishop:

I asked him if it was wrong of me to date members of the church since I am not what the men are taught to want to marry (questioning things, feminist, not endowed, the list goes on…). He said that he loved having me there and that of course I was welcome and wanted, but he also told me that he would never counsel someone to get married outside of the temple (because I have doubts and don’t think it is apprioprate to go with how I currently feel) and that IF I find someone who is similar to me that could work. IF is one of the saddest words to hear in dating. If I find anyone I am lucky, if I find anyone in Mormonism that is okay with my (lack of) beliefs it is freaking miracle.

That’s it for a sad week. I hope you have a happy Father’s Day anyway…

Sunday in Outer Blogness: News is bad news edition!

I was kind of planning to call this one the “no news is good news” edition — since apparently the worst scandal of this week for the CoJCoL-dS was missionaries baptizing kids without their parents’ consent. Then I logged into Facebook one last time before beginning, and saw everyone posting the breaking news of the largest mass shooting in US history. Americans and their guns. I guess we’ll hear more about that story in the coming week.

There were a lot of great podcasts this past week, including an interview with Judith Freeman, one with John Dehlin, God-Awful Movies review of Saturday’s Warrior, Irreligiosophy on Mother Teresa, plus WMS recommended a podcast from the Orthodox Jewish community that perhaps we can relate to!

The rape discussion continues! Runtu suggested a simple new symbol for BYU alums to express their disappointment with their alma mater. Julie M. Smith argued that the New Testament Gospels condemn rape culture.

In other discussion topics, Zina of Zelph described the ways religion is not beautiful and told an amusing tale about Bednar, and Mithryn demonstrated that Hugh Nibley was an apostate.

In church history, did you know that Joseph Smith was convicted of assault? And that Lorenzo Snow’s polygamy is perhaps more shocking than Joseph Smith’s? And this story about poisoning?

In church-watch, the CoJCoL-dS is moving towards having seminary students master doctrine instead of scripture. Maybe we’ll finally get to learn what is doctrine and what isn’t!

We can still study the scriptures, though. For example, the Book of Mormon clarifies (modifies?) one of JC’s central messages:

The implication, at least the way I’m reading it, is that God will ensure that his chosen leaders will have adequate food, shelter, and raiment. Everybody else is on their own, at least in the Nephite world.

Why would the Book of Mormon make this change, narrowing a beautiful promise from the Son of God to encompass not everyone but only a select few? Could this implication that apostles needs and worries are of greater importance than the common man’s be one of the origins of the modern church’s hero-worship of its leaders?

In personal stories, we have careless mishies, more tragedy for the Adult Onset Atheist, and personal improvements for Alex.

So, my condolences to the victims and families of the most recent horror in the US. Maybe someday we can find the political will to put a stop to this. Until then, try to have a nice week. 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Personal Journeys Edition!

This past week there wasn’t really any huge scandal or news item in the Mormosphere, but we had quite a lot of fascinating personal stories, especially regarding faith transitions! (Actually, there was one news item that was also a personal story: another Navajo is suing the CoJCoL-dS for sexual abuse while enrolled in the “Lamanite Indian Student Placement Program.”)

Abby Van Buren recounted her exit story from Mormonism, which included some pretty important points:

I see the priesthood like this. In the Mormon religion you need to be baptized, go through the temple to make ordinances with the Lord/God and to be married in the temple being sealed to your husband. All of these steps require the blessing of a priesthood holder, a man. So basically to go to heaven, a man has to let me.

I won’t get to heaven by simply loving others. I won’t get to heaven by being a compassionate person. I won’t go to heaven if I serve others. I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?

The Gay Mormon Southpaw is calling it quits too:

The change in policy was the final straw. It made me so angry. If I were closer to Utah, I would have likely participated in the mass resignation event. Even during my “break,” I hoped the church would somehow make nice with us Mohos. (or simply leave us alone.) But no, for every step forward, there were 10 steps back. The church ain’t true and they continue to treat gay people like crap lead gay members to suicide.

And, while there are obvious reasons why women and gay people might leave, there’s something to be said for those old-fashioned reason for apostasy: anger and wanting to sin.

Tophat reflected on what she lost when she chose to have a temple wedding:

Five years into my marriage and I realized I never had a wedding. My friends and family could not all attend my sealing. And I didn’t agree with all the promises in the sealing script. I felt cheated. I had not been told, “When you love someone so much you decide to commit to them, you’ll want to share that with all the people you love and care about. You’ll want to have a party and celebrate.” I had been told, “When you love someone and want to be with them forever, you need to sit through this ordinance and say ‘yes’ at the right time. The party and celebrating isn’t important.”

The aspiring Mormon Sex Goddess explained an interesting arrangement she has made with her husband:

While only tangentially related to polygamy, having some financial autonomy has helped me claim my sexual autonomy. As a stay-at-home mom with three children under age five, I’m financially dependent on my husband and sexual partner. This creates a vulnerability in our sexual relationship that I’m uncomfortable with. But I also want to stay at home with my kids while they’re young. As a resolution, we’ve agreed to separate bank accounts. I charge market rate for providing full-time childcare for three kids and we split the bills. For us, this clears a psychological space where sex and money can be separate.

Other slices of Mormon life: GoshDarnitalltoheck enjoyed a lovely social event with people of various beliefs getting along. A Mormon guy in an interracial marriage explained why he opposes same-sex marriage. Authentic Jena recounted coming out as lesbian. And Adult Onset Atheist posted a sad personal tale of falling in love with someone who is trans. (Note: Jeff Swift offered some positive discussion about how Mormons should address transgender issues.)

Yesterday was the day that some “Rainbow Mormons” — organized by Dr. Kristy Money — wore rainbows to church in solidarity with LGBT Mormons excluded by the infamous policy. I hope to see some tales in the coming week about how that went!

The rape issue at BYU is still unresolved. Hawkgrrrl mades some really good points about how the currently-in-the-news problem ties in with BYU’s culture of encouraging students to spy on each other, which has additional problems:

I’ve shared before my concern that Honor Code complaints can be a form of sexual harassment due to the culture of sexual repression and the stringent modesty guidelines for women, creating a hostile environment for female students in which they may be unfairly targeted by men whose attentions they find unwelcome. What does that look like? A whole lot like Mr. Collins from Pride & Prejudice but with the backing of an Honor Code Office when he is spurned.

Then there were some great discussion topics! Leah Marie Silverman analyzed what prayer is. Andrew S compared the grace/works debate with the relationship between talent and hard work. Russell Arben Fox argued that Mormons may be the ones to save the US from Trump.

That’s it for this week. Again, sorry it’s a little late. I had a lovely visit all afternoon with another ExMo family, and then my family had our traditional Sunday dinner (crèpes), and then it was between starting up my SiOB when it was already late or watching Monty Python with my husband and kids. The latter won. I’ve kind of decided that I’m going to stop apologizing for this. I’ve chosen Sundays for this little feature because Sunday is the day when I usually have time to do it — but occasionally that doesn’t quite work out, so I try to do it as early as possible Monday morning. Happy reading! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Rape culture edition!

I’ll admit it — the first time I heard the term “rape culture,” I rolled my eyes and thought, “that’s not really a thing — after all, we’ve made tremendous strides towards decreasing rape in our society, and nobody’s in favor of rape.” But, as I read more about it, I realized that it is, in fact, a thing. It has a clear and straight-forward definition — if you’re not familiar about it, this post will give you a great introduction. So we need to lose the scare quotes. Oh, and having made good progress on a problem doesn’t mean it’s done. We can build on the progress we’ve already made in order to do better.

As you may know, Elizabeth Smart is on the case. Let’s dig in and start analyzing:

Generally speaking, systems that insist on gendered space and position men as ‘protectors’ are steeped in a paradigm where men are viewed as predatory and women are sequestered away for their own safety. In defending male-only priesthood, one Mormon woman said that she was glad not to attend male-only meetings because it protected her. Whenever the topic of ward clerks comes up, someone will usually mention that women and men working together will lead to affairs. The implication is that sexuality is impossible to control.

Ironically, gender segregation may actually exacerbate sexual violence. A recent Harvard study found that all-male organizations, like fraternities, are more likely to commit violence against women. While the Mormon church is not a college fraternity, most decisions are made in male-only councils, environments where women’s needs, feelings and experiences can be easily overlooked. The results of this system have been on full display as complaints about BYU’s handling of sexual assault have surfaced.

Mormon dating culture has its own special set of challenges when addressing this problem.

And — because they just can’t stop digging themselves deeper — BYUI explicitly instructed students not to honor a female speaker the same way they are expected to honor a more important man.

In other Mormon culture, we have a concise explanation of why the CoCJoL-dS needs to dump proselytizing missions in favor of service missions.

There was quite a lot of discussion this past week on how the CoJCoL-dS pushes people out and what to do about it.

In life journeys, Richard of Zelph posted his exit story on the anniversary of his deconversion, the Mormon Child Bride shared a poem about post-partum depression, Josh Duggar simply cannot let go of reality TV, and Ex-Mo Tales is going through a divorce:

But my divorce is not a bad thing for me. It is just another change in this life that I will deal with and move on from. In my case this divorce is a better for me. As we have been living a marriage that was not full of love. But more full of “I have to put up with you because we said ‘I do.’ ” Or in our case, Yes. Since it was a temple marriage.

And Dad’s Primal Scream had just demonstrated why family history is such a fascinating hobby — here’s just a little taste of the story of his Mormon ancestors:

She had already been living with distant relatives for 3 years. But receiving word of her beloved father’s death her hopeful soul was replaced with emptiness and fear. It echoed all around her. Her father had been a butler, a middle class designation in Victorian England. Still, middle class meant long working hours. Middle class working men had no resources to survive as single fathers, so Nessie had been left with her paternal grandparents to raise since she was born. It’s not hard to imagine why her father took responsibility for the infant at that time, since men suffered none of the social stigma of parenting out of wedlock like a woman did. It was said that Nessie’s mother was also “in service” as a cook, but had she kept the baby she would have lost social standing and her job.

It should be interesting to see how some of these issues evolve. Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: The best defense edition!

So, the CoJCoL-dS decided to decided to respond to its bad publicity situation bywait for it!shooting the messenger! As usual. Because a church that never apologizes because it’s always right can’t possibly need a little help. On the plus side, at least they’re making an attempt to get serious feedback on this issue.

Some argue that failing to send assault victims straight to the honor code office (to be investigated/punished themselves) would result in increased false accusations, but Julie M. Smith really, really nailed it on how to protect our boys from being falsely accused.

Speaking of help, the Exponent II is in the middle of a critical funding drive to archive data.

This week’s miracle — some LDS “sister missionaries” (i.e. missionaries, but female) are allowed to wear pants! (And mishies are now also allowed to protect themselves from the sun with hats and sunglasses!) Leona made a very good point about women’s work and a famous Bible story:

The work still needed doing. And if she’d sat at Your feet, it wouldn’t have gotten done. Her sin wasn’t in the doing, it was in complaining about Mary. But if she hadn’t complained out loud, she would have resented her still, and things might have festered, and that would have been bad. I know about quiet resentment. I know what it’s like to feel like I’m doing nearly all of the rowing. All women do. It’s not a happy feeling. And yes, Mary was doing something higher, better, more important. But Lord, for Heaven’s sake, Lord, Martha’s work still had to be done. Probably right then. There are many, many time-sensitive elements when it comes to housekeeping (particularly when you’re doing it with no indoor plumbing or refrigeration).

In other gender-and-sex, I really enjoyed this Mormon Expositor podcast about women and “sacralized sex”, and I’m planning to listen to this podcast interview with Affirmation president J G-W. Transgender folks — the Bible offers you little help.

In history, Steve Otteson found a historical parallel that may interest you!

In excommunications — now a regular feature! — a friend of Denver Snuffer got snuffed, and not just him:

Not only was Louis targeted for Church disciplinary actions, but his son, who had been serving an LDS mission, also was targeted and labeled an apostate and sent home (on April 22, 2016) dishonorably from his mission for being associated with his dad, even though his son did not endorse his father’s testimony nor has he read any of Snuffer’s books or participated in any activities associated with Snuffer.

And the procedure had a particularly Orwellian flavor:

Louis’s court statement is that the mission president called his son into his office on a Thursday and told his son he had a plane ticket for him to go home the very next day (on Friday). That means the Mission President (or his superior) had already decided to send Louis’s son home before even talking to him. And as you’ll read, there were ward members in his mission boundary that knew his son was going home before he even did.

[…]

The Stake President required that Louis sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) if he was to attend the council.

The news is pretty disturbing, so let’s go straight to personal stories. Chris Smith recounted speaking in tongues. And I posted a group portrait of the characters from my comic book! 😀

Have a great week, and good luck not getting X’d!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Non-story edition!

The biggest Mormon headline this past week was the appearance of some companies owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Panama Papers. It was reported on the exmormon subreddit and discussed in a Zelph on the Shelf post that doesn’t appear to exist anymore and in a BCC post that suggests that at most one of the companies listed has ties to the CoJCoL-dS. Then Deseret News claimed that neither company listed in the papers is church-owned. So it looks like it’s a non-story (but I wouldn’t be surprised if some other church-owned company with a better disguised name is in there somewhere…)

In other news, it looks like the Catholics are ahead of the Mormons in slow march towards finally ordaining women! Also, Tyler Glenn’s faithful Mormon mom wrote a thoughtful response to her son’s “Trash” video. And Nearing Kolob reported on the dissolution of the one LDS stake in Armenia, on mishies in Japan being given a goal to baptize at least one person before the arrival of a GA — and on another GA’s talk rounding the number of active Mormons up to 14 million!

Sadly, it looks like one of our number posted a suicide note — the good new is that it appears that the exmo redditors rallied to get in touch with local friends of hers who (it appears?) were able to put a stop to it. I hope to see more confirmation that she’s safe.

In history, Richard of Zelph explained the origins of the “three degrees of glory”. And check out this excerpt from Christopher C. Smith’s Sunstone presentation on Joseph Smith.

In theology/philosophy, the Adult-Onset Atheist turned a broken chain into a metaphor, and in Mormon culture, Knotty contemplated the problems with the door-to-door model.

Life journeys! Joseph Broom has started his new life journey with a new blog. Zina of Zelph wrote a retrospective of her past year in post-Mormonism. AleixsAR recounted her experience as a candy-striper. And as part of a series on the experience of singles in the church, Mary Ellen Robertson wrote a great piece on how the expectations and judgments make things worse when it’s time to divorce:

One of the most difficult things I finally acknowledged to myself—and eventually to others—was that my marriage was NOT WORKING. It was a difficult, conflict-riddled, abusive, and often unbearable nine years punctuated with a smattering of brighter moments, but not enough positives to offset the negatives. What made it worse: I hid the realities of my situation from nearly everyone I knew. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t “making it work,” that counseling with four different therapists had produced no discernable improvement, and that I had stayed years longer than I should have. When I first started “coming out” about the divorce, most people were supportive and kind; others reacted with various measures of surprise or pity or they backed away as if my uncoupling was somehow contagious. In some ways, it parallels the negative reaction toward people who express doubts about LDS Church doctrine or history. There is risk in disclosing one’s countercultural beliefs.

In books, there are htree new reviews of various books of LDS thought, and we have a new installment of The Incidental Prophet!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Another Mother’s Day Edition!

Yes, it’s every Mormon’s favorite holiday again! Time to talk about moms, and how motherhood is every woman’s most important role!

In the ongoing discussion about rape policies at BYU, we have a lot of discussion about how the CoJCoL-dS’s chastity/modesty teachings contribute to rape culture (not a new observation, it turns out).

Maybe it would be better for the church to spin off its universities…?

In other victim-blaming news, the CoJCoL-dS seems a little confused as to whether they want to invite people back or kick them out. The discussion continues on Tyler Glenn’s video (here are two podcasts). Jeffrey Holland’s charming speech doesn’t appear to have helped.

I feel like the church’s biggest problem is that they want everyone to stay Mormon by simply becoming that round peg that fits into the round hole that Mormonism has preparted for them. Look at the situation for singles:

Within the church, however, some institutional and cultural pressures tend to overlay doctrines of marriage and family with the idea that one isn’t fully an “adult” until he or she is married. A common and commonly commented upon illustration of this is the singles’ activity that requires the presence of advisors or supervisors who are younger and less-experienced but are married. The implication seems to be that returned-missionary, military-veteran, graduate-degree-holding, formerly-married people who aren’t married are not “adult” enough to manage their own activities but that a husband-and-wife team of twenty-three year-olds is.

In scriptures, the Book of Mormon has some difficulty agreeing with modern Mormon beliefs. The first vision has gotten some interesting new spin, though:

In an incredible show of cognitive dissonance, Richard Maynes (presidency of the Seventy), has declared that the various differing and contradictory accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision actually lend credibility to the event rather than detract from it. Can you imagine a lawyer in court making that conclusion about a witness who changed his or her story multiple times?

In books, we have a very exciting announcement!! Holly Welker has two new Mormon-related books out: Singing and Dancing to The Book of Mormon: Critical Essays on the Broadway Musical and Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage (I’m proud to have contributed an essay to the latter). Also another ex?mo, Galen Dara, is in the running for a sci-fi/fantasy award. Plus, the Sunstone Foundation is starting this year’s fiction contest!

Speaking of Sunstone, don’t miss this podcast with Mary Ellen Robertson!

In personal stories, we have a tale of white privilege, an exciting mission escape, a year in IT, an illness, and the church stepping on a kid’s birthday wish:

Fifteen years old and all he wants is to spend time with his dad. This is going to end badly for dad who will probably have some painful regrets. However, I prophecy a happier ending for the son who will likely become an exmo, although due to this experience, a bitter exmo.

I can relate to the dad, and one of my many regrets is the time I spent on callings which I should have spent with my kids.

How about those US elections? sigh.

For those of you in SLC, Richard Carrier will soon be speaking in a venue near you!

Folks, sorry this one is a little late — the reason is actually kind of mothering-related (though I’m not entirely sure whether it’s Mothers’ Day here in Switzerland). In the afternoon, I went with my kids to the pool, and then my son created this elaborate Minecraft universe that he really, really wanted us all to play, so I spent the late afternoon and evening playing Minecraft with my kids. Then we all went to bed. Anyway, it’s done now — happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Trash vs. Treasure edition!

Everybody is talking about two angry outbursts that hit the news the other day! The first was from Tyler Glenn of the Neon Trees. His debut solo single was a passionate reaction to the CoJCoL-dS — which has ultimately rejected him as a gay man. (Here’s a recent Mormon Stories interview of him.)

The parallel outburst came from apostle Jeffrey Holland:

Don’t you dare bail. I’m so furious with people who leave this church. I don’t know whether furious is a good apostolic word. (Crowd laughter). But I am. And I say, what on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of paddy-cake, taffy-pulled experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered, as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered? As if this is all supposed to be just exactly the way I want it and answered every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that, decide this, and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-day Saint. Well, there is too much Irish in me for that.

So Elder Holland is furious that people have stopped believing that he and his colleagues have superhuman wisdom and insight…? I have just three words for Mr. Holland: Respect is earned.

And if you don’t know what I mean by that, please listen to this awesome “smack up” from the Infants on Thrones praising Elder Kearon’s fantastic talk about service and compassion in the face of the current refugee crisis. Their biggest criticism was that this sort of talk is the exception rather than the rule. They explained — quite accurately, IMHO — that if the leaders were regularly showing this type of true moral leadership, we’d see a lot fewer people jumping ship over Mormonism’s truth-claim issues.

There were a lot of great responses to Elder Holland’s talk, such as the following from J. Cluster:

Well, let me explain something to you, Elder Holland. People aren’t just losing faith. People aren’t just really pissed off. People are hurting! And you 15 men in your red chairs are not at all accessible behind your velvet ropes and cloak-and-dagger policies. You see, this is what is currently slitting the church’s throat. First, this church (if it can bee called such) is authoritarian in nature and structure. The culture is “trickle-down” revelation, not “trickle-up” revelation. It wasn’t always like that. There were some golden eras within church history when things were much more egalitarian. Now, Common Consent isn’t even a real vote. It’s an opportunity to sustain leaders. Nice spin! Second, since the foundation of the church is appeal to authority, what are members to do when authority has been proven wrong over, and over, and over, and over, and over again?

And this analysis from James Patterson:

People are leaving the church (a.k.a., rebelling) because its leaders have lost legitimacy in their eyes. People are leaving the church because they don’t feel respected. People are leaving the church because they don’t feel the system is fair. People are leaving the church because they don’t feel the leadership is trustworthy.

I also really liked Steve Otteson’s translations of all of Holland’s veiled references. Overall, I think this image basically sums it up:

View post on imgur.com

On a related note, the whole BYU-rape scandal isn’t going away. It turns out that — while the belief that the victim must have been somehow asking for it has traditionally been a popular one — it’s kind of falling out of favor. So, having a rape report trigger an investigation on the victim hasn’t been cool since the ’50’s. Let’s hope that one day the CoJCoL-dS will one day escape the deadly grip of that benighted decade of yore. On the positive side, one Mormon university already gets it.

In other news, it looks like Salt Lake City maybe won’t be losing its independent (of the church) newspaper. And don’t forget Jeremy Runnells and how he flipped the script.

In scripture study, the Book of Mormon’s Jesus chapters have some serious plot holes. In history, grindæl wrote basically a whole book in one blog post about the alleged gang-rape of Eliza Snow — maybe someone could post a [tl;dr] in the comments…?

In poetic life narratives, Monica mused about her former marriage, Joseph Broom about his late husband, and Stephanie about her daughters. In other narratives, Jana Remy has begun recounting her year in IT and Runtu’s Incidental Prophet continues.

Well that’s it for another exciting week in Mormondom. Happy reading! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Everything’s coming up Jeremy edition!

By now, you’ve probably heard what happened to Jeremy Runnells last week. In a nutshell, he arrived at his disciplinary council with a list of questions and learned that in church court, the defense has no right to cross-examine!! So he presented his court with his letter of resignation from the church.

The video of the court was posted online and has been transcribed. After the church refused to explain what was wrong with what he posted, Jeremy responded, “I don’t know how to repent of the truth.”

This just seems like such a dumb move from the church’s perspective.

Here’s a representative example of the other side’s perspective:

I think Jeremy would have been surprised just to see how many of the questions he had have been addressed by historians over the past half-century (for example, the archives to Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought are free and available online, offering over fifty years of thoughtful scholarship).

This sort of response really sticks in my craw: The answers are out there, take my word for it! If you can’t find them, you didn’t look hard enough. Try pouring through the archives of the last 50 years of Dialogue (that should keep you busy!). But don’t expect your leaders to have any answers. And whatever you do, don’t try to crowd-source it because then you will be ex’d. Just keep your mouth shut so that everybody else will think you see the emperor’s clothes found satisfactory answers to your questions.

But even excommunicating Jeremy Runnells couldn’t keep the church’s most horrifying current scandal out of the national and international news: BYU’s policy of systematically starting an honor code investigation on everyone who reports being sexually assaulted, which can potentially lead to expulsion (of the victim). Let the airing of opinions commence!

Utah decided to respond by further whipping its favorite bogeyman.

But maybe they’re improving…?

Many are mourning Prince, who challenged the gender stereotypes Mormons hold so dear.

Also, the world celebrated Earth Day, although, sadly mourning is probably more appropriate for that one as well…

In personal stories, Kiley connected with her new name.

In books, a new review of the Mormon Feminism anthology, and one for the book that explains modern Mormonism.

Well, it’s been a pretty exciting week for Mormonism! Here’s to watching how it all turns out! Have a great week.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Blaming the victim edition!

The CoCJoL-dS has made another splash in the press — this time with the news that when students report having been sexually assaulted, the victims get sent to the honor code office themselves, to see what infractions they were committing themselves to have gotten into this situation!! Wow!

This is just wrong in so many ways. As Mormon Therapist Natasha Helfer Parker explains:

For those that would say, “well, students sign the Honor Code themselves – and should expect to be held accountable in these types of situations” – I would plainly say, NO! There are situations that trump the legalities or implications of any Honor Code signature – particularly a criminal action. We have to have university policies in place that make it as easy as possible for victims to feel safe to disclose trauma, knowing their confidentiality is going to be protected, where mental health services are readily offered, where all will be done to support their ongoing educational, personal and relational goals, and where there will be no negative repercussion or indirect/direct blame for sexual assault. Plain and simple. Nothing else will do.

Maybe you’d like to be an ally and sign a petition about it.

Meanwhile, it turns out that same-sex parents aren’t inferior to the traditional model.

So, Jeremy Runnells (of the CES Letter fame) had his disciplinary hearing last night! In case it wasn’t obvious who’s the villain here, the CoJCoL-dS decided to make it crystal clear by refusing to allow Runnels (who is deaf) an interpreter. It would appear that Runnells arrived with his resignation letter in hand, hence the breakup was quite mutual. The details have been collected on this thread.

In other church news, it has been confirmed that the growth rate of the CoJCoL-dS is declining, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the change in missionary age — and retention of members of dropping as well.

On the positive side, Thunderchicken has offered ideas for getting involved in helping refugees.

This week we finally got a new installment of “Gospel Doctrine for the Godless,” and it’s a doozy!:

And after all this — a sinful nature, a broken compass, and access to bad influences — our self-efficacy is constantly being undermined and belittled by the gospel itself. We’re reminded that we’re less than the dust of the earth, that we owe God everything, and that there’s nothing we can do to be considered worthy.

Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone: the gospel is a terrible system. It’s a set up. God could have made it any way he wanted, but he chose to put us in a situation with impossible, contradictory, confusing, and demeaning expectations. This contemptible god belittles us, and expects us to praise him in return.

The appropriate response is the same as it should be for any abuser: we must cut him off entirely, and work within a loving and supportive community to build our own lasting self-respect. Our morality isn’t perfect, but we can work to improve it without the petty sniping of a demanding and jealous father figure.

In politics, it looks like Ted Cruz should be a good choice for Mormons, given his stance on masturbation.

In personal stories, Alex broke up with his girlfriend, and Liz Emery recounted her first time getting a Brazilian.

Until next week, everyone — happy reading!