Sunday in Outer Blogness: Questionable Taste Edition!

I wanted to call this one “party edition” — as an attempt at ironic commentary on how weird some of this “10 year anniversary of 9/11″ media moment is. But then I thought perhaps that would be poor taste as well, so I went with “questionable taste”. That said, a lot of people reported on parties (and other social gatherings) this week — it’s good to see that life goes on. And let’s not let the story of Labor Day get lost in the shuffle.

This was also a big week for great videos — I can’t decide which of these I like best! Maybe that last one. Many people would be happier if we could cut down on the gender indoctrination. (In related news, Orson Scott Card tried to improve Hamlet with a generous dose of homophobia.)

The other big theme this week was social interaction across belief lines. When it comes to your less-believing kids, you can follow the prophet or follow your heart. The CoJCoL-dS has decided to stop labelling people “inactive”, but the Mormon History Website is still going strong at talking shit about ExMormons. Not that exmos are full of compliments about believers or anything. Andrew S has some great analysis of the dynamic between liberal Mormons and former Mormons. (And as wide as the faith/non-faith divide may seem, other issues like food can be just as passionately controversial.)

And in fun Mormon history and trivia, you all know about Joseph Smith’s famous niece, right?

Sorry to have been so scarce this past week, right after announcing an open thread, but I think I’ve wrapped up most of the personal stuff that was eating my time — and I’m ready to get back to my favorite hobby! I hope you’re doing well this week too!

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66 Comments

  1. 51
    dpc says:

    Chino – Although your “tu quoque” statement makes you seem oh-so-witty, it doesn’t really respond to what I had said. Secular non-profit that desire financial transparency should disclose who sits on the Board of Directors and identify who its senior executives are; it should have financial statement independently audited or have independent board members review and sign off on the audited financials at least once a year; it should have at least two signatories (the President and Treasurer) on every check. I don’t think any of those are draconian requirements.

    leftofcenter – I have no idea how a church should or should not be organized. I think there has to be some kind of top-down hierarchy. How much is the right amount is the question. And I haven’t seen anyone suggest a better model for the Mormon church that allows for its current theology while addressing the needs raised here. Plus the Lion’s Club isn’t a religion. It’s a charitable organization that generally works to improve local communities. It’s a great place to volunteer. It’s an invitation-only type of organization, but luckily if you let them know you would like an invite, they’ll ask you to join.

    Parker – I think that’s a good idea and I think that local units are given the latitude in the current handbook of instructions (although I could be wrong), but what happens when local leaders want to rigidly follow the guidelines? I think that what is needed is a way for local members to be able to approach the lay leadership with concerns without automatically being labelled as a dissident. And I think that the more church members are actively involved in taking steps to improve their congregations, the more committed they will be to the end result.

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  2. 52
    Chino Blanco says:

    dpc – Don’t get me wrong, I applaud your quibbling over PostMormon’s finances. As an encore, might I suggest taking John Dehlin to task? Never mind the Sunstone and Dialogue foundations, too? That’s sure to be riveting stuff. And please be sure to get all your research published before Quinn comes out with his third installment covering LDS financials from 1830-2010. Or maybe you’re saving your juicy exmo expos until then? Cage match!

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  3. 53
    Andrew S. says:

    I love how the definition of a religion is assumed to be different from “a charitable organization that generally works to improve local communities.” The only thing I would add is religions are on both a larger (global) and smaller (individual) level, as well as a longer term (eternal), but fundamentally, the idea is the same.

    Dpc, I’ll just spell out chino’s point… In the same way you can make a cogent criticism of financial reporting without offering nary a hint of a reform plan, so too may people offer critiques of the church without obligation a) to offer a reform plan or b) to create a reformed organization.

    For whatever it’s worth, I was actually looking forward to a discussion on accounting and financial reporting standards…

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  4. 54
    aerin says:

    51- How does reporting the not for profit and profit arms of the LDS church to the membership who tithe go against the LDS gospel?

    I can search for a scriptural basis if needed. I’m almost certain I can find one. There is no compelling gospel defense to not publishing where the money is being spent to the lay membership who contribute. I’ve heard the “keeping the LDS church solvent” argument before, that like a business the LDS church needs to make investments instead of being christlike, poor and helping the less fortunate.

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  5. 55
    Chino Blanco says:

    And, fwiw, Andrew S., I’d welcome that discussion from your side (the one you mentioned in your last graf).

    Chanson has elsewhere made the important point that the LDS church has — since long ago — already got itself into a bind with their knuckle-headed decision to tie their views/policies/doctrines re chastity to the wagon of US civil marriage law.

    By the same token, I’d suggest that the whole fascination with US corporate management/success/infallibility only works in an environment where that vibe can resonate without sounding an off note. At this point in the game, my sense is that we’re on the cusp of leaving a good bit of our previously-held confidence behind. In my case, that means cancelling my subscription to the Economist. For others, it might mean dropping the Ensign. But both reactions are essentially the same response.

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  6. 56
    chanson says:

    Secular non-profit that desire financial transparency should disclose who sits on the Board of Directors and identify who its senior executives are; it should have financial statement independently audited or have independent board members review and sign off on the audited financials at least once a year; it should have at least two signatories (the President and Treasurer) on every check. I dont think any of those are draconian requirements.

    Absolutely. Religious non-profits, too, for that matter. But if this is a critique of postmormon.org, why are you posting it here and not on postmo? Have you been banned from postmo or something? Do you need our help in passing your suggestions along to them?

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  7. 57
    dpc says:

    Chino – In the legal world, that quibbling can be the difference between freedom and a lengthy prison sentence. And the others you mention don’t make it a point to show exactly what their finances are in order to be perceived as financially transparent. So who cares about them?

    Andrew S- That’s not an assumption I’m making. If religions and charitable organizations were one and the same, then why does freedom of religion apply only to a bona fide religion and not just to any charity? Just because A and B share a common trait, C, it does not necessarily follow that A = B

    Everyone has the right to complain without offering solutions. But for what purpose I wonder? And it would stand to reason that those outside an organization but who possess an intimate knowledge of that organization would be in the best place to offer up potential solutions. And for all the “the Mormon church should do this” or “the Mormon church should do that” I haven’t heard one practical solution ever put forward by any disaffected person, even just for discussion.

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  8. 58
    dpc says:

    chanson – No. It was just meant as a convenient example to support my larger point and ended up growing a life of its own.

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  9. 59
    Chino Blanco says:

    Just for giggles, since you brought it up, dpc, please mention one reform of the accounting world that you’re in favor of. Just one.

    Do that and I’ll deign to dazzle you with one idea that would rescue the Mormon project from oblivion.

    Fair?

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  10. 60
    chanson says:

    ended up growing a life of its own.

    In what sense did it grow a life of its own? You posted the comment. If you meant it as a serious suggestion for postmo, then why not suggest it to postmo? If not, why is relevant to this discussion?

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  11. 61
    Andrew S. says:

    re 57,

    dpc,

    It’s not so much that they are one and the same, but religions **assuredly** are a subset of charitable organization. In this case, the difference between religions as charitable organizations and charitable organizations in general is as I mentioned…both smaller and larger scope (change on the individual and on the global level) and time scale (eternal). Other charitable organizations have considerably restricted scope or time scale, but if I were going to say that Lion’s Club is not a religion, I wouldn’t say that it’s (implied: instead) “a charitable organization that works to improve local communities.”

    In this case, courts generally do all the can to avoid making a clean-cut line of what a “bona fide” religion is, but I’d classify most of the followings as fitting under my idea that religions seek to change individuals (especially through beliefs) in order to improve them.

    I guess, one thing you might do (with respect to the question “but for what purpose”) is wonder about why you yourself made a jab at financial reporting without offering solutions. Because it seems to me that even if you or I don’t verbalize the purpose, we both understand that there is a purpose to it, even if you *never* get to offering any solutions.

    One possibility could be that you recognize that you have little real chance of being able to implement your solution (e.g., you think it’s hopeless), and so it’s not a productive use of your time listing all the ways you think you could solve the problems. However, even if you think you have little real chance of being able to implement your solution, there would still be value *separate* of offering a solution in simply airing your complaint (e.g., to signal to others that they are not the only ones with x issue).

    …All that being said though, if you have never heard any practical solutions ever put forward by any disaffected person, even just for discussion, then you probably just aren’t reading a lot (or the right kinds) of disaffected commentary. Either that, or you’re defining all solutions presented as not being practical.

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  12. 62
    dpc says:

    Wow, I’ve forgotten how much you guys swarm when someone brings up alternate viewpoints. I might just have to go back to my inactive commentator status.

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  13. 63
    Andrew S. says:

    I can think of a site or two where “alternative viewpoints” are ignored or moderated (and I’m not sure which I like less), so I would’ve never guessed some people prefer that over engagement.

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  14. 64
    Chino Blanco says:

    I thought we’d already agreed on retiring the term “inactive”? Or am I commenting on the wrong blog again?

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  15. 65
    dpc says:

    Chino – I’m sure your friends find your attitude to those who think differently endearing. I don’t. If there’s anything you want to discuss with me, cut out the bullshit and show a little respect. You don’t even know who I am. I’ve been commenting on this blog since its first post. Ask profxm who suggested that moniker. Who would have thought this place would have become less welcoming?

    Andrew S – I’m not saying that I don’t like the engagement and that I want any comments moderated. I’ve been away for blogging for a few years and I forgot what a time commitment it can be to discuss things, so that’s why I felt swarmed when I saw the response and each involved something different.

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  16. 66
    Chino Blanco says:

    Dpc- You lost my respect when you wrote this: “I havent heard one practical solution ever put forward by any disaffected person, even just for discussion.” That’s just rude and uninformed and not the kind of thing someone interested in a conversation would say. And now, instead of walking it back, you apparently have decided to double down.

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