Saturday in Outer Blogness: Another Boring Conference Edition!

I’d like to do SiOB a little early this week because it looks like this conference is going to generate some interesting news. That news will be rolling in over the next few days, so let’s wrap up this past week’s posts separately before the news begins! (To give you something to read while you’re waiting.) Also, I’m not really in a position to live blog events at the real “Main Street Plaza”, but if any of you are doing so — please feel free to post links here!!

Here’s the preview of what to expect this weekend: It’s General Conference (unfortunately, not a TED Talk). Here are some tips on surviving it. In one corner we have Ordain Women. In the other, we have righteous Mormons who understand the importance of gender roles. It seems like it wouldn’t be so hard to find a solution, but the CoJCoL-dS has cleverly decided to shut out the media instead — can’t wait to see how well that works out!!

The Ordain Women crowd makes some really good arguments, theological as well as personal, not to mention humorous. Across levels of orthodoxy, lots of people really believe in the priesthood, as unbelievable as it may seem. And some are even willing to settle for a separate track if the CoJCoL-dS could throw them that bone.

The church’s hard sell works on some people, but it can backfire:

I am a Mormon Feminist who believes in the gospel and is in love with a Unitarian Universalist. I attend his church because I want to be with my family on Sundays and because I know my Heavenly Parents understand that I don’t want to hear from other Mormons why I should leave him (yes, this is a common thing to hear when a marriage becomes interfaith) or why I should pressure him to come back to church.

Especially if you decide to treat your loved ones to stuff like this:

As to your living arrangements, there are other ways to enjoy the advantages you describe. I wish you would have talked to me first…but I guess that is the last thing you would have done. It’s difficult to hear you state so proudly that you have stripped yourself of the principles taught to you by the two people in the world who love you the most and want your happiness, while you drink the rationalizing bathwater of a society who cares nothing about you. I understand your perspective. I have heard it many, many times from people…people who later had to deal with the downsides they didn’t see and then kept trying to rationalize their regrets.

Mormonism isn’t all bad — it can encourage positive things like goals. And they’ve actually decreased their proof-texting. And Mormons can be surprisingly supportive and surprisingly assertive (despite their teachings).

But… you might want tho thing twice about taking your nevermo significant other to Testimony Meeting. Also, those awful Mormon sex-shame object lessons seem to have gone viral and the undies are a problem. Let’s hear some crickets!

In other fun, check out Runtu’s review of a personal review of an insider’s view!

In life journeys, how long have you lived in one place? The Profet has given the second part of his interview. Has John Dehlin left the church again? Also two more exit stories and two more responses to the FAQ!

OK, so now it’s time go pop some popcorn!!! And if you see the mishies, try not to get tazed!

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

79 thoughts on “Saturday in Outer Blogness: Another Boring Conference Edition!

  1. When I started first grade in the mid-sixties, others students asked me if I was Christian. I’d never heard the term before. I said, “No, Mormon” and went home and asked my mother what a Christian was. So the next day I went back to school and corrected my previous answer.
    What turns up next on being Christian in my incomplete and subjective memory is this–
    When I was in High School, some of the local evangelical church’s had lectures on how Mormons were not Christian. And there was a Mormon push back against that.
    Then “The God Makers” came out, and it seemed to me the Church started cozing up to the evangelicals who were happy to receive, but disinclined to give.

  2. @51: that’s what I remember, though I’m a few years younger than Suzanne. Mormons were content to just be their own weird brand of Christian, until Evangelicals started to make a really big deal of insisting that Mormons weren’t Christian at all and had no right whatsoever to claim the term. Then it became a fight that has to be refought ad infinitum, as witnessed by this conversation.

  3. I’m sure the relationship with the word “Christian” varies from family to family.

    My experience was closer to what Parker describes @49. I was raised to be very suspicious of the label “Christian”. When I was a believing Mormon, I probably would have answered in the affirmative if someone asked me if Mormons are Christian, but I would never have spontaneously self-identified as Christian. My recollection is that when I was a kid, it was way more important to emphasize that we’re not just another Christian sect than it was to claim the label “Christian.”

    I don’t claim my experience is universal, but I also don’t think it’s particularly rare in Mormon circles. I think a real shift has taken place on this issue.

  4. @54:

    I’m sure the relationship with the word “Christian” varies from family to family.

    OK. But one of my points is that by worrying so much about what the old guys at the top of the pyramid mean when THEY say, “Mormons are Christian,” you erase that variation from family to family. You privilege a corporate political agenda that makes personal experience irrelevant. And I think that’s seriously uncool.

  5. Hi–
    I’m sure you’re all vastly younger as well as wiser than I. But growing up the foxholes of Zion in Massachusetts 75 years ago, about 20 miles from where my Gr3-Grpa Willard Richards was born, I can attest to a sense that we were a peculiar and a chosen people amidst the gentiles, the “nations,” if you well, very much in the Biblical tradition. There was curiosity or indifference amongst them, perhaps, but no hostility, ever. But we were alienated—try having the only eligible female living 30 miles away. In the 50s, with the help of a book entitled, I think, “Those Amazing Mormons,” a lavishly illustrated scrapbook of achieving normalcy (which I always considered a variant of “Jet” or “Ebony” magazines, a kind of a “we’re okay to live next to” declaration in both cases), we were to embark on the “Every Member a Missionary” plan, I think, the first serious attempt at reaching out from the foxholes, rather than the antecedent century’s centripetal gathering to Zion after sending emissaries to the foxholes to gather the sheaves to Zion, to mix a metaphor.

    The result was, if LDS were going to stay with the gentiles, they had to learn to get along with the gentiles and stop shaking the dust off their sandals on the way down Routes 30 or 50, across the salt wastes or through Weber or Immigration Canyons, to where they could breathe free and feel secure.

    I do not exaggerate; there was always a sigh of relief either making the turn at Magna or crossing over the Wasatch front, into safety. We Saints had come, come to Zion, if only for a couple of weeks, and all was well, if only for a couple of weeks. For us, the gentiles had as little to offer as Babylon had for those in Jerusalem. We were always confident that something like the Apostles, I think Willard Richards included, wrote so assertively about in 1845 was going to happen. It was just a matter of time. It’s worth reading, if you want to get a sense of the relations between the LDS and the Church of the Devil. But now, instead of thundering on the gates of Babylon demanding submission and even tribute—read the declaration—there’s a certain hat-in-hand, “Can we come in?” quality about the intercultural/religion, call it what you will, relations. It’s a real change, hence my question about its being offensively strategic or its being defensively accommodationist and even capitulationist. But over the last 75 years, there’s been a real change.

    Cheers! For ease of reference, I’m taking the liberty of including the entirety of one of the more remarkable documents in American history. Don’t miss it.

    TO ALL THE KINGS OF THE WORLD, TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; TO THE GOVERNORS OF THE SEVERAL STATES, AND TO THE RULERS AND PEOPLE OF ALL NATIONS. Greeting. Know ye that the kingdom of God has come, as has been predicted by ancient prophets, and prayed for in all ages; even that kingdom which shall fill the whole earth, and shall stand for ever….

    Therefore we send unto you, with authority from on high, and command you all to repent and humble yourselves as little children before the majesty of the Holy One; and come unto Jesus with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and be baptized in his name for the remission of sins (that is, be buried in the water, in the likeness of his burial, and rise again to newness of life in the likeness of his resurrection), and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of the hands of the apostles and elders, of this great and last dispensation of mercy to man.

    This Spirit shall bear witness to you of the truth of our testimony, and shall enlighten your minds, and be in you as the spirit of prophecy and revelation; it shall bring things past to your understanding and remembrance, and shall show you things to come….

    By the light of this Spirit, received through the ministration of the ordinances-by the power and authority of the Holy Apostleship and Priesthood, you will be enabled to understand, and to be the children of light; and thus be prepared to escape all the things that are coming on the earth, and so stand before the Son of Man.

    We testify that the foregoing doctrine is the doctrine or gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness; and that it is the only true, everlasting, and unchangeable gospel; and the only plan revealed on earth whereby man can be saved….

    And we further testify that the Lord has appointed a holy city and temple to be built on this continent, for the Endowment and ordinances pertaining to the priesthood; and for the Gentiles, and the remnant of Israel to resort unto, in order to worship the Lord, and to be taught in his ways and walk in his paths; in short, to finish their preparations for the coming of the Lord….

    The Latter-day Saints, since their first organization in the year 1830, have been a poor, persecuted, abused, and afflicted people. They have sacrificed their time and property freely, for the sake of laying the foundation of the kingdom of God, and enlarging its dominion by the ministry of the gospel. They have suffered privation, hunger, imprisonment, and the loss of houses, lands, home, and political rights for their testimony.

    And this is not all. Their first founder, Mr. Joseph Smith, whom God raised up as a prophet and apostle, mighty in word and in deed, and his brother Hyrum, who was also a prophet, together with many others, have suffered a cruel martyrdom in the cause of truth, and have sealed their testimony with their blood; and still the work has, as it were, but just begun.

    A great, a glorious, and a mighty work is yet to be achieved, in spreading the truth and kingdom among the Gentiles-in restoring, organizing, instructing and establishing the Jews-in gathering, instructing, relieving, civilizing, educating, and administering salvation to the remnant of Israel on this continent-in building Jerusalem in Palestine, and the cities, stakes, temples, and sanctuaries of Zion in America; and in gathering the Gentiles into the same covenant and organization-instructing them in all things for their sanctification and preparation, that the whole Church of the Saints, both Gentile, Jew and Israel, may be prepared as a bride for the coming of the Lord….

    Again, we say, by the word of the Lord, to the people as well as to the rulers, your aid and your assistance is required in this great work; and you are hereby invited, in the name of Jesus, to take an active part in it from this day forward.

    Open your churches, doors, and hearts for the truth; hear the apostles and elders of the Church of the Saints when they come into your cities and neighbourhoods; read and search the scriptures carefully, and see whether these things are so; read the publications of the Saints, and help to publish them to others; seek for the witness of the Spirit, and come and obey the glorious fulness of the gospel, and help us to build the cities and sanctuaries of our God….

    To this city [Zion or New Jerusalem], and to its several branches or stakes, shall the Gentiles seek, as to a standard of light and knowledge; yea, the nations, and their kings and nobles shall say-Come, and let us go up to the Mount Zion, and to the temple of the Lord, where his holy priesthood stand to minister continually before the Lord; and where we may be instructed more fully, and receive the ordinances of remission, and of sanctification, and redemption, and thus be adopted into the family of Israel, and identified in the same covenants of promise….

    The city of Zion, with its sanctuary and priesthood, and the glorious fulness of the gospel, will constitute a standard which will put an end to jarring creeds and political wranglings, by uniting the republics, states, provinces, territories, nations, tribes, kindred, tongues, people, and sects of North and South America in one great and common bond of brotherhood; while truth and knowledge shall make them free, and love cement their union.

    The Lord also shall be their king and their lawgiver; while wars shall cease and peace prevail for a thousand years….

    We say, then, in life or in death, in bonds or free, that the great God has spoken in this age.-And we know it.

    He has given us the holy priesthood and apostleship, and the keys of the kingdom of God, to bring about the restoration of all things as promised by the holy prophets of old.-And we know it.

    He has revealed the origin and the records of the aboriginal tribes of America, and their future destiny.-And we know it.

    He has revealed the fulness of the gospel, with its gifts, blessings, and ordinances.-And we know it ….

    He has commanded us to gather together his Saints, on this continent, and build up holy cities and sanctuaries.-And we know it.

    He has said, that the Gentiles should come into the same gospel and covenant, and be numbered with the house of Israel, and be a blessed people upon this good land for ever, if they would repent and embrace it.-And we know it ….

    He has said, that the time is at hand for the Jews to be gathered to Jerusalem.-And we know it.

    He has said, that the ten tribes of Israel should also be revealed in the north country, together with their oracles and records, preparatory to their return, and to their union with Judah, no more to be separated.-And we know it.

    He has said, that when these preparations were made, both in this country and in Jerusalem, and the gospel in all its fulness preached to all nations for a witness and testimony, he will come, and all the Saints with him, to reign on the earth one thousand years.-And we know it.

    He has said, that he will not come in his glory and destroy the wicked, till these warnings were given, and these preparations were made for his reception.-And we know it ….

    Therefore, again we say to all people, repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit, and shall know the truth, and be numbered with the house of Israel…. New York, April 6th, 1845

    TO THE ENGLISH READER. It will be borne in mind that the foregoing was written in the United States of America, therefore the language, which we have not altered, will be understood as emanating from thence…. W. Woodruff. Liverpool, October 22nd, 1845 [Liverpool pamphlet, BYU Library, Provo, Utah: see also MFP 1:252-66].

  6. Here’s a link to a 1968 album cover of a Motabs recording called Onward Christian Soldiers.

    The Motabs didn’t sing songs they didn’t approve of. They would change lyrics to make them fit a Mormon sensibility. I remember a Motabs recording of “Man of La Mancha.” They changed the line “to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause” to “to be willing to march anywhere for a heavenly cause”–even that reference to hell was too much.

    But singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” made such sense to the singers and directors and whoever was in charge of the Motabs that it was the title of the album.

    And that only works if, even way, way back in 1968, Mormons really did, on some level, think of themselves as Christians.

  7. @55:

    I can attest to a sense that we were a peculiar and a chosen people amidst the gentiles,

    Awesome sauce! Me too.

    That’s a different question from whether or not Mormons are Christian.

    Perhaps the problem, Pierre, is not Mormons’ definition of Christian, but YOUR definition of Christian. What does it mean to you?

  8. Hi, Holly–
    Yikes! My definition of anything might be of interest? I’m giddy! My inner smart-ass tempts me to say anyone belonging to the Great and Abominable Church, but operationally, those around the world who recently came home with ash smudges on their foreheads and today brought palm fronds; but let’s see if we can cram 2,000 years into 20 words or less: Here goes–

    Monotheists who believe God sent Christ to save sinners and gave the New Testament to guide faith and practice.

    How’s that?

  9. Pierre states at last that Christians are, as far as he is concerned, “Monotheists who believe God sent Christ to save sinners and gave the New Testament to guide faith and practice.”

    Given that definition, there’s no reason (with the possible exception of Heavenly Mother, whom Mormons generally prefer to ignore when deciding whether they are monotheists) why Mormons can’t ask, as you put it, “Why can’t we be Christians?” There’s also no reason why they shouldn’t simply assert that they are.

    In other words, given your own definition of Christian, your line of reasoning makes no sense.

  10. Well, according to some authorities, not heard of much lately, the Christian wrestling with the definition of deity is a “mass of confusion.” I guess they’re not alone in that:
    http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/87saltlakecitymessenger.pdf
    So, would it help if I identified the NT as God’s “only” guide for belief and practice. I understand that’s a point of controversy for some.

    Is there a difference between a polygraph and a monograph?

  11. would it help if I identified the NT as God’s “only” guide for belief and practice.

    In other words, you exclude everyone who still considers the Old Testament the word of God; thus. by your definition, must Christians reject the story of the Garden of Eden and the Ten Commandments?

    If so, interesting move.

  12. Hi, Holly. Thanks for the good question.
    The New Testament recommends the Old Testament in many places, and authoritatively, which Christians take as part of God’s guidance for belief and practice.
    Christians tend, upon Paul’s advice, to read the Old hrough the lens of the
    New. But Christians don’t feel obligated to derive their “practice” from it.
    Those folks were called “Judaizers.” There are lots of those still around.
    I hope that’s helpful.

  13. @62:

    Those folks were called “Judaizers.” There are lots of those still around.

    Actually, there are only 15 million. That’s not really that many.

    And exactly where in the New Testament does it say that we need to believe in the story of Adam and Eve?

    I’d still like to see you explain why, by your definition, Mormons are not already Christians.

  14. — 15 million? Anyone I know among them? Big on animal sacrifice and ritual exclusion of unclean women are they? How about circumcision? Limited interest in those subjects in the Evangelical community these days. Never was big in Catholicism, either.

    — Adam and Eve? Romans is good for Adam, first and second.

    — No problem; Mormons are already Christian, always have been; it’s just those Christians that aren’t Christians any more; something about the cuckoo gene.

    And now, dear Sister Holly–
    Have a blessed and wonderful life in Christianity; many have; I can speak with authority.

  15. Adam and Eve? Romans is good for Adam, first and second.

    Alas. Nothing is ever good for poor Eve, beginning and end.

    No problem; Mormons are already Christian, always have been; it’s just those Christians that aren’t Christians any more; something about the cuckoo gene.

    Hmm. Whatever you have to say about cuckoos is always likewise completely cuckoo. Funny, that.

    But I’m glad you answered the question you asked us to debate. Perhaps you can start future conversations with such relatively clear statements of your position from here on out.

    Have a blessed and wonderful life in Christianity

    Thanks but no thanks. I’ll leave that you and the others of whom you can speak with authority.

  16. Alan–
    Interesting sequential point. Can I as a fond adieu, suggest that a reading of the following two very recent, unconnected, but fascinating reactions to the contemporary malaise in the American religious scene might indicate a motivation for the LDS move into formerly unfamiliar territory? I think Chanson’s idea that there is a leadership role to be seized as well as neglected/abandoned fields in the right wing ready for the harvest. Maybe a new term is necessary: “Replacionist.”

    “RELIGION in America is clearly changing, but it can be difficult to fathom where it is going. While Evangelical Protestantism is declining and Liberal Protestantism is in freefall, some groups which demand a deep commitment—from the Mormons to the Pentecostalists—are still gaining members. Yet the fastest-growing category seems to be that of the “spiritual but not religious”–people who have a sense of connection with a higher power and want to share it with others, without signing up to formal rules or beliefs. Generally, religion seems to do best at the extremes: either rigorously conservative or free and easy.” http://chantblog.blogspot.com/

    And

    “It’s a model of ministry suited to our historical moment. As the Yoderites and Hauerwasites have been telling us for some time, Christendom is dead. The religious right was its last, long susperation. Though there are millions of Christians in the U.S. and Europe, Christian faith no longer provides the moral compass, the sacred symbolism, or the telos for Western institutions. America’s Protestant establishment has collapsed. Neither evangelical Protestants nor Catholics nor a coalition of the two are poised to replace it. Christian America was real, but, whatever its great virtues and great flaws, it is gone, and the slightly frantic experiments have failed to revive the corpse. It’s past time to issue a death certificate.” http://www.firstthings.com/
    Happy trails to all the good folks in Main Street Plaza,
    especially Saint Chanson!

  17. @ Very interesting articles. The question of why “deep commitment” churches aren’t losing members as fast as less-demanding churches (and whether that trend is changing) is another fun topic, maybe for another thread.

    Happy trails to all the good folks in Main Street Plaza

    Are you leaving us? Or just bowing out of this thread of discussion?

  18. America’s Protestant establishment has collapsed.

    The religious right was its last, long susperation.

    Perhaps Christendom is dead, but that’s not to say Christianity is. The splintering of Christianity such that the Republican party can no longer produce viable presidential candidates that unite under a Christendom banner is not a bad thing for the party, the country or Christianity, IMO. Almost everything that the religious right claims (policy-wise: things like “traditional family” or laissez-faire economics) is not what Jesus would claim. Arguably, “Christendom” is never how Jesus would have had it…. kind of like how the Buddha insisted that he not be worshiped.

    The idea that the Church is adopting “Christianity” in order to take over splintering Protestantism is interesting, but Mormons are still only like 2% of the American population, so “Replacionist” seems too premature. I think the Church has a bloated sense of self-worth underpinned by its coffers.

    Are you leaving us? Or just bowing out of this thread of discussion?

    If he never came back, who could blame him?

  19. If he never came back, who could blame him?

    Truly. God knows, Alan, despite his oft-proclaimed lack of interest in the site, has stuck around in order to drive away so many.

  20. @71: I got to wondering how long I’d been ignoring Alan, so I went back through a year and a half of archives. In that time, I found only one of his posts that I commented on, while he commented as often as not on my posts. If he did comment, I didn’t respond to his comments, unless he asked me a direct question or quoted me and no one else.

    In other words, in the past 18 months, I found only two interactions between us, and he initiated both of them–including the one on this post.

    So I think I do pretty well on not responding to him, and I think he actually wants to hear from me. I think the favor he seeks is not as he said recently that I would ignore him, since he has gotten that and tried to change the situation. I think the favor he wants is that I respond as often as possible.

    If I’m wrong and he really wants as little conversation between us as possible, well, then perhaps he could return the favor I had shown him in the previous 18 months and not engage with me in the future.

    But regardless of that issue, I will still point out that Alan is the one who says that the conversations here don’t interest him, for a variety of reasons, but nonetheless insists on staying, even though his posts don’t really seem to interest anyone else, either, as evidenced by the frequency with which they get no comments.

  21. If I’m wrong and he really wants as little conversation between us as possible, well, then perhaps he could return the favor I had shown him in the previous 18 months and not engage with me in the future.

    Yeah, except that I have a hard time believing that you don’t want him to respond to you when you follow up by claiming that his posts don’t interest anyone.

  22. @73: Given that Alan appears not to have noticed my demonstrable lack of interest in conversing him despite his avowed lack of interest in conversing with me, I thought it possible that the same thing had happened with the site overall. I thought pointing both out might help him consider how he could actually achieve in the future what he says he wants now.

    If I’m wrong, I apologize.

  23. despite his avowed lack of interest in conversing with me

    I don’t have a lack of interest in conversing with you. I have a lack of interest in you behaving like an a****** when you respond. But since you can’t seem to help yourself, I would consider it a favor if you didn’t speak to me.

    […]as evidenced by the frequency with which they get no comments.[…] I thought it possible that the same thing had happened with the site overall.

    Those are biting words, but they’re also full of s***. I invite you to peruse my posts and find that, out of 70 total:

    Half have more than 10 comments.
    Nearly a quarter have more than 30 comments.
    And there’s at least 5, I think, with more than 50 (one with 168).

    I think that’s pretty high in relation to the traffic of comments that come through MSP.

    So, again, you seem more interested in being asinine and rude in an attempt to belittle me than making any substantial point. I’m not sure why that is.

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