It’s time to vote for William Law X-Mormon of the Year 2018!!!

X-Mormon-2018-300x223 Wow, we’ve got quite a list of X-Mormons to choose from in 2018!!


And here are the descriptions of the nominees:

The poll will remain open until Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Switzerland time. And may the X-Mormon who made the biggest splash in 2018 win!!

Collecting Nominations for the 2018 Brodie Awards!!

2018-Brodies-200px The nomination process for X-Mormon of the Year is underway — please be sure to get in your nominations before next weekend when the voting begins.

Now, it’s also time to start on the Brodie Awards!! The Brodie Awards are a fun little yearly activity intended to give some extra recognition and signal boost to the best LDS-interest content published/posted during the past year. This is your opportunity to review your favorite pieces, find out about great works you may have missed, and even promote your own work!

As usual, I will start by posting a list of suggested categories (from last year), but the precise list of award categories depends on your suggestions. Please feel free to browse the sidebar for ideas on award categories we’ve used in the past for ideas. Below the suggested categories, I will post the nomination guidelines.

Year-long awards for people and groups:

  • Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best LDS-Church-Info Site
  • Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum
  • Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Awards for Individual Works:

  • Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Song
  • Best Poem
  • Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image
  • Best Post Title
  • Funniest Humor Piece
  • Funniest Parody
  • Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory
  • Best From the Pulpit Sermon
  • Most Poignant Personal Story
  • Best Exit Story
  • Best Life Journey Piece
  • Best Activist/Activtist Movement Within Mormonism
  • Best Leak or Personal Recording
  • Best LDS Church Watch Piece
  • Best Response to Apologetics
  • Best LDS-Culture Piece
  • Best History Piece
  • Best Scripture Study Piece
  • Best Discussion on Parenting
  • Best Discussion on Orientation
  • Best Best Discussion on Gender
  • Best Discussion on Race
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Podcast Episode
  • Best Short Media Presentation
  • Best Book Review

And here are the nomination guidelines:

  • Please nominate as many people, books, blogs, sites, podcasts, songs, articles, images, etc. as you want. However, please do not nominate more than two individual works by any one author/artist.
  • You are encouraged to nominate your own works. No one knows better than you do which pieces were your best. No more than two, though.
  • Please nominate works that first appeared during 2018.
  • Please try to nominate people and works that have some connection with Mormonism (eg. either the work touches on Mormonism, or the author is a current or former Mormon and/or is an active participant in our community).
  • A category must have at least three nominations in order to be included in the voting and awards phase.
  • You may suggest your own categories — however please do it as early as possible in the nominations process, to give others plenty of time to add nominations in your proposed categories.
  • Any other proposed changes to the categories or to the guidelines are welcome — feel free to discuss it in the comments.
  • The nominations will be open until mid-January, 2019, depending on my schedule. I will finalize the dates and categories and add my own nominations a few days before the nominations close and voting begins.

How to nominate: Just post your nominations as comment to this thread, but please include links to the works you nominate. If your nomination comment ends up in the spam filter, please email me (chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com) and I will fish it out.

I can’t wait to review all of the best works from 2018!!!

Collecting nominations for X-Mormon of the Year 2018!!!

X-Mormon-2018-300x223 Hey folks — it’s that time of year again! Time to decide which X-Mormon made the biggest splash in 2018!!

Sorry to be getting started a little late this year — maybe it’s just that the likeliest candidate has never been more obvious. I’m not going to say who I’m thinking of, because I hope you have some other ideas to give this candidate some competition. 😀

I will just say that — as always — getting excommunicated during the year in question is not a requirement… but it doesn’t hurt!

Please post all your nominations below for the X-Mormon who made the biggest splash in 2018!! Thanks, and I look forward to your nominations!

Yours truly on Mormon Happy Hour!!!

Satan-Beer-Cropped-281x300 Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the history of Main Street Plaza, the Brodie Awards, and Mormon Alumni Association Books!! I have just made a guest appearance on the always-entertaining “Mormon Happy Hour” Podcast. With host Colleen, in addition to discussing my LDS-interest projects, we did a fun send-up/smack-down of all of the new policies of the new head of the CoJCoL-dS — check it out!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference of Changes Edition!!

So, another General Conference has come and gone, and this one had some interesting announcements. The worst item right out of the gate was from Dallin Oaks, who explained that LGBTQ advocacy comes from Satan.

Also Satan…? Nicknames! The CoJCoL-dS is apparently really serious about rebranding away from the nickname Mormon (unless this report is true) — because when you say Mormon, Satan wins.

This change is confusing and contradictory, plus it’s annoying because now there is no good adjective to describe LDS-interest or LDS-related things like Mormon literature or Mormon news, etc.!! What if you want to talk about your “Modar” or your lingering connection to your former faith? Sure you can say “LDS” (as I just did), but apparently they don’t want people using that one either.

Then the big procedural change was that Sunday services will be cut from three hours to two. I guess that’s a step in the right direction…? So they’re not wasting so much of the members’ time with pointless non-issues like the above…?

As an alternate strategy, they might consider trying to make their services interesting and engaging… Maybe talk about issues that really matter, like our impending climate change catastrophe…? Or at least make the meetings almost as interesting as you might expect after watching the infomercial.

Another gem from conference was when President Nelson said that women should take a 10-day fast from social media. Not everybody, just women. Coincidentally during the time leading up to an important US election.

If you’d like to hear even more analysis of this crazy conference, tune into Mormon Happy Hour’s smackdown or this series by Mormon Women Speak. (Yikes, another couple of victories for Satan by those podcasters and their evil desire to give their podcasts clear and concise names.)

There have been a lot of great podcast discussions lately such as this treatment of the changes in church policy on contraceptives and oral sex within marriage. And I enjoyed Radio Free Mormon’s illustration of how the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS are gaslighting the members by pretending like they never treated the growth of the church as the inevitable proof of the church’s rightness.

In other news, Sam Young is still continuing the fight against grotesquely inappropriate interviews, despite having been excommunicated.

In film, there’s a new piece about Jane and Emma that looks really interesting.

I recently updated the Mormon Alumni Association Books website to highlight an award won by Mormon Eroticahave a look!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: The Youth of Zion Edition!

Perhaps you’ve heard the news: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has begun excommunication proceedings against Sam Young, with the following charges:

  1. Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.
  2. Organized more than one public “action” that expressed opposition to the Church or its leaders.

I guess it isn’t that much of a surprise — although it is a bit of a disappointment. Once again the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS have demonstrated that their own authority, respect, and prestige pass above all else. Rather than revisit this terrible, abusive policy of arranging sexually-charged interviews with minors, they shoot the messenger because he embarrasses them. Once again the leaders try to solve the problem by getting the critic to shut up — because from their perspective the only real problem is the damage to the church’s image. As I said in my Sunstone panel on criticism:

I argue that shielding the CoJCoL-dS from all criticism — including criticism from strongly interested insiders — does more harm that allowing criticism to be aired and discussed.

Here’s Sam Young’s response letter, and here’s a list of related vigils and news items.

The other recent news story out of Mormondom is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is going to finally completely shed the nickname “Mormon”. It looks like this will be one of Russel M. Nelson’s signature issues as president — good thing he has some really important issues regarding the church’s image to worry about!

It seems like they’ve been doing this bizarre dance of embracing and rejecting the term “Mormon” my whole life — will it stick this time?

Well, let’s look at the style guide from the now-ironically-named “Mormon Newsroom.” They don’t want people using the terms “LDS Church” or “Mormon Church” anymore — now when you don’t want to type out the entirety of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” you are supposed to shorten it to “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ.” Or a new one that combines cryptic with unruly: the “restored Church of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, anything that is clear, concise, and would actually help a lay person to know who you’re talking about is verboten. That’s a brilliant plan — good thing the prophets, seers, and revelators have the hotline to God to get such great ideas. Bonus points for all of the persecution that the Latter-day-Saints-formerly-known-as-Mormons get to feel when nobody goes along with this nonsensical request.

See also Tyler Scott’s 10 problems with the name change and Mormon History Guy’s analysis comparing the use of the term Mormon with (not) referring to the colonized by their indigenous names.

At least they stopped insisting that people shouldn’t use the term “Mormon” for other offshoots of the same religious tradition, which is nice, though they do request that whenever people talk about modern polygamist groups they specifically mention that the groups are not affiliated with the CoJCoL-dS — good luck with that one.

Will someone stick a fork in this church? I think it’s done.

I’m sorry to be flippant about it — it’s sad for me to see this organization that has been such a big part of my life so fully embracing villainy. Lately, while thinking about Sam Young’s situation, the following song from my youth bubbled up and lodged itself in my brain:

Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!

True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.

I found I still have an emotional connection with this song (among others) after all these years. And in retrospect, it upsets me a bit to have been brought up on this. It starts with defending truth and right — which merits universal agreement — but then associates that noble goal with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t necessarily jibe with truth and right.

First, “the enemy assaileth?” — real-world problems are more complex than finding the bad guy and fighting him. This polarizing view is what leads the church to think they’re doing right by fighting Sam Young rather than bringing him into a real discussion. Fighting “the enemy” is just so much easier than introspection.

Then there’s the part about being true to the faith — which, in this case, can be interpreted as the organization or faith community. This is basically saying that challenging the church means being disloyal to your parents and to all those martyrs.

And being completely true “to God’s command”…? That is a terrible idea. Because acts that are good don’t need God to command them. They are justified by their good effects. “God’s command” only gets trotted out to justify things that can’t be justified on their own merits — often because those things are bad, like the closed-door adult/child interview policy.

So, yeah, I’m not happy to have an emotional connection with singing the praises of blind loyalty as being good and right — connecting that with being a part of my family and of the community of my youth. And I’m not the only one — just read this recent tale of how children are taught.

To you, Sam Young, and so many others: My you continue to defend truth and right by challenging all that other baggage.

To wrap up the last couple of items, the CoJCoL-dS is apparently working to prevent legalization of medical cannabis because of course they are. And check out this awesome review of Donna Banta’s novel Mormon Erotica!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Hoax edition!!

OK — it was a few weeks ago now — but I think the most interesting recent bit of Mormon news was the hoax apology from the CoJCoL-dS (apologizing for the CoJCoL-dS’s history of racism), actually written by Jonathan Streeter.

The go-to analysis of it is by Zandra Vranes of Sistas in Zion — her reaction is powerful and moving. I won’t try to analyze it myself (since others have analyzed it well), but I’ll say I think it was a huge mistake when Streeter decided to trick people into thinking the apology was real. As the Infants pointed out, it’s very good as satire — but now it would be insensitive to discuss its merits as satire after all the damage that was done. At least Streeter offered a real apology.

There have been some really amazing transition stories recently, such as Tanner’s exit story, and Leah Elliott’s piece “In the Language of My Former People”, which I really liked — I related with it so well that I’m thinking of writing my own commentary on it.

Bishop Bill’s experience had a cool twist:

Do you remember the very first item about the church that you had to “put on the shelf”? The first thing you learned that didn’t have a good answer, and caused you some cognitive dissonance, so you just put it away to think about another day?

I remember mine, because it was already literally on a shelf

Alex had a pleasant discussion with his believing sister:

She didn’t understand how, when the armies of Coriantumr and Shiz were destroying each other, nobody on either side loved their families enough to flee from the violence. She introduced the absurdity of Ether into the conversation, not me. It was a fruitful debate and I think I did a decent job of demonstrating that my disgust for church doctrines is an entirely separate issue to how I feel about the average Mormon, so she was curious rather than offended.

Then there’s this inspiring tale from Lynette:

Over the years, I’d developed strong defenses to cope with things like polygamy and general sexism and and anti-gay sentiments and dubious historical claims and so on and so forth. But I didn’t have any kind of defense against the experience of finding happiness somewhere else.

Other Zelophehads Daughters posted some fascinating statistics on LDS birth rates and on who likes the 15 leaders of the CoJCoL-dS (on Facebook).

In other discussion topics, Andrew Hackman answered the question: “Why do you not address liberal belief? Why do you only go after ‘the easy targets'”? — and he recounted some experiences with Evangelical services. No Man Knows My Herstory podcast discussed LGBTQ Mormons in history. BCC wrote some criticisms of using religion to justify separating children from their parents. Zelph on the Shelf covered Joseph Smith’s ability to translate ancient records such as the Kinderhook Plates and the Book of Abraham. Steve Wells explained the Masterpiece Cakeshop and Leviticus 20:13, and Knotty discussed the cake case as well.

Also, there are some interesting new books coming out: A Peculiar Transition: 6 Steps to Turn Mormon Faith Crisis into Spiritual Healing and Growth, by Wendi Jade Jensen, and Johnny Townsend’s new book The Moat Around Zion!!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Podcasts edition!

There are so many amazing LDS-interest podcasts these days — I’m really looking forward to the day I can cut back my hours and listen to them all! This morning I took the time to listen to a couple of them: Radio Free Mormon has been doing a cloak-and-dagger series about trying to get access to the Joseph Bishop BYU police report — I can’t wait to hear how it ends! And the No Man Knows my Herstory podcast has some excellent discussion of the despicable concept of “non-consensual immorality” — with some analysis of why the CoJCoL-dS is incapable of stating that rape is actually worse than consensual premarital sex (or even stating that the victim of a sexual assault isn’t guilty).

Additionally the Mormon Happy Hour Podcast is celebrating the lifting of the priesthood/temple ban with some discussion of Mormon Sex Myths. And the Infants on Thrones are doing a very cool listener essay series. I’d like to submit one myself as soon as I have two minutes to rub together, but I guess it will be for next year’s contest. Laura Root has been doing a series of “Ask a Mormon Lesbian” podcasts. And one of our local Brodie-winning bloggers did a Mormon Stories interview!

Another site you might want to check out is Stuff You Missed in Sunday School — a collection of stuff that gets taught at church, but that perhaps the CoJCoL-dS might not want outsiders noticing too much. It turns out that Sacrament Meeting can be quite a mixed bag!

I guess the biggest Mo-news we’ve had lately is the CoJCoL-dS cutting ties with the Boy Scouts. Looks like people aren’t too sad about it.

MormonHistoryGuy made a very good point about dismissing Brigham Young’s racism as “everybody was doing it back then” — plus some more background on the priesthood/temple ban. And Zo-ma-rah shared some great insights on the connection between culture and doctrine.

Sam Young and the Protect the Children movement ask you to mark your calendars for action on National Children’s Day, June 10th. And as a fellow religious minority, I hop Mormons can follow this recommendation to stand with Muslims as they fight against bigotry.

Knotty has some interesting commentary on Mormon parenting:

Now… let’s ponder this for just a minute. I can understand delaying entrance into school for developmental reasons. Since these young people are triplets, it’s possible that they were small and/or immature for their ages. However, the article states that their parents specifically decided not to start their children in school at the usual age because they knew, even when the boys were young children, that they absolutely would be going on missions.

In books, check out this Kirkus Review of Johnny Townsend’s book “The Last Days Linger.”

Looks like it’s Mothers’ Day, and the angst has already begun! Good luck to you all, and happy reading!

Good and bad life-advice from the CoJCoL-dS

It’s a lazy, sunny Sunday, and since I just got back from a long nature-walk with my family, it’s time for some relaxing fun. Let’s analyze the good and bad advice in this latest doozy from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints: Sister Oaks’s Experience Dating an Apostle (+ 7 Dating Insights).

Right off the bat, I have a problem with the premise (which echoes a harmful message that women receive in LDS culture): a woman’s success is based on her husband’s status. If you’re a woman, there is nothing you can do yourself that comes close to the achievement of being the arm-candy of some really important dude. And BTW, I don’t just mean that this devalues women’s career accomplishments — I mean it also devalues their accomplishments as homemakers:

You can create the most loving, healthy, conducive-to-growth environment possible for your family, but if your husband is a blue-collar worker who never even made Bishop (or worse — he’s a non-member), then Mormons are not going to look up to you and ask your advice like they do successful Mrs. Apostle.

So she starts by quitting her lucrative job that she’s very good at. I’m actually not going to debate that part — it can very well happen that despite being successful at your job, you can get tired of it and want to try something else while you still can. And since she didn’t have debts or dependents, why not? (Though it’s a little odd that she then turned down a dream job at a competing firm.) Kudos to her at least for not saying that it was because she didn’t want to die an old maid.

But this bit kind of jumped out:

This meeting with a General Authority was extremely unusual for me. My exposure to General Authorities had been minimal, and I liked it that way. I had the utmost respect for them. I revered them, but I also understood the line of priesthood jurisdiction and felt confident that my home teachers and my bishop were sufficient to bless my life.

In other words, all of you plebeian ordinary members need to remember that there are layers of hierarchy between you and the really important people. So just because I became successful through my Mormon-royalty connections, don’t try it yourself.

Looking back, I would never have planned to meet an Apostle of the Lord and his daughter dressed so casually.

Um, why not? Oh, right, because they’re more important than everyone else.

On to dating insight #3: “Take Time to Develop a Good Friendship”. This one is actually pretty reasonable, and directly contradicts the terrible advice Mormon young people often get (namely to try to be married within a year of finishing your mission, and any two faithful Mormons can make a marriage work, so just marry the first available person you meet at BYU).

Time is a dear friend also—it mellows us and matures us. My wish for other singles is that they enjoy each and every day of their life.

Yes, Mormon young people — read that bit. Enjoy your life as a single person. Seize the day! Gain life experiences. Don’t sit around fretting about the fact that you aren’t married. And take marriage seriously by not just jumping into it when you’re not ready yet.

Don’t listen to this next bit, though:

Now that I am married, I do not feel that I have graduated to a higher plane. I do know that I feel more complete.

What does that even mean? I’m going to interpret it as “I don’t want to say that getting married is the most important thing a woman can do with her life (because I don’t want to hurt single women’s feelings), but… it is.”

Then comes the most popular pull quote from the article:

When I look back on my single life, my only regrets are that I spent too much time worrying about my future and too little time in the kitchen. I would do anything to be able to make better dinner rolls.

I don’t want to waste too much time on that one since it makes even less sense than the quote above it.

Then she gives a tip in which she has a friend act as a character witness for her — which was made possible by the fact that she’d done good work for her ward in various callings over the years. I’m not sure why she calls that one “Do Your Homework”. I would call it “Enrich your life with interests and experiences that build friendships and make you an interesting person.”

That’s reasonable advice that will help you to lead a full and happy life whether you marry or remain single. It’s certainly better than encouraging single women to spend all their time obsessing about getting married by, say, having them do wedding-dress fashion shows from the age of 12…

Then comes the real winner:

To help facilitate a successful dating relationship, it is usually wise to allow the man to be the initiator, no matter what age you are.

What the…? What does age have to do with it?

Is she saying “No matter how old and desperate you are, don’t try to rush your man.”..? Or is she saying “Even if you have been a fully-independent adult for thirty years, remember that the man is the adult in the relationship.”..?

She goes on to say:

If he makes the effort to contact you, arranges to see you, and takes care of the details, you can be fairly certain that he wants to be with you and has some idea of the basics. In addition, it is an interesting truth that the more self-initiated and independent effort a man puts into building a relationship with a woman, the more he comes to value her.

My issue with this is the gender imbalance. This absolutely goes both ways — or it should. I guess in Mormon-land of course a woman would value her husband, how could she not?

And this next bit is, I think, the worst part:

During my early acquaintance with my husband, I allowed him to make all the phone calls and appointments and contacts because I felt those were his prerogative until I knew him well. That entailed more than a few nail bites as I waited for him to call me. A confident woman does not need constant reassurance.

A confident, self-respecting woman does not sit by the phone, biting her nails waiting for a dude to call her. If she wants to talk to him, she picks up the phone and calls him or texts him herself because she knows that her own time is as valuable as his.

Sister Oaks’s tip here is excellent advice if for some reason you want to be with a man who wants his wife to be a total doormat. If, OTOH, you have a bit of self-respect and you want a husband who sees you as a full-fledged adult human being, I would replace that whole section with an improved section called “Don’t be a doormat.”

It’s disappointing, too, because all of that earlier good stuff about enriching your life with independent interests and friendships is suddenly right out the window if an apostle comes knocking at your door.

I also take issue with her naming that section “Don’t Smother or Pester”. “Don’t smother or pester” would be good advice — if that were actually the topic of the section. But with that title, the section advises women not to call their man at all or make any attempt to contact him. I guess that when a woman calls a man, that’s smothering and pestering (unlike when a man calls a woman)…? This title reinforces the misogynistic belief that there’s nothing more annoying to a man than a woman talking.

The last two bits are par for the course of Mormon dating advice. “Maintain the Lord’s Standards” (a.k.a. don’t have sex) is easy to say if you’re an elderly couple. It’s far more problematic for young people since it’s hard to treat the marriage commitment with the gravity it deserves if it’s placed right where it will be trampled by raging young libidos. And the part about feeling peace when you pray about the relationship — I’m not sure that’s really a good way to pick a spouse. YMMV. It’s nice that they like gardening together though.

And then there’s the eternal Mormon closer: “Anything less will be inadequate eternally.”

Well, I hope you’ll enjoy eternally sharing your husband with Sister Oaks #1…

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Post-conference edition!

In our last episode, we were too distracted by scandal to take much note of General Conference, but apparently there was a bit of a surprise! Since people were not happy to see three apostleships all going to white guys from Utah (in 2015), this time the CoJCoL-dS decided to try to make an effort to add some actual diversity to their (all male) top brass. One of the new apostles is even in an interracial marriage — which shouldn’t be a big deal, except that the CoJCoL-dS officially discouraged interracial marriage until quite recently.

With a new president comes new policies, and apparently the latest change is to scrap (or at least modify) the Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching programs. In retrospect it’s not too surprising.

The really exciting conference tidbit was that someone shouted “Stop Protecting Sexual Predators!” during the conference! Mormon Happy Hour Podcast interviewed the girl who did it.

On that note, the follow-up on the Joseph Bishop scandal continues:

And Lynette asks:

To put it baldly: how is it that church leaders who are said to have special gifts of spiritual discernment get duped by predators?

I can think of a very simple answer to that one — you’ll have to read her piece if you’d like to know whether she accepts the obvious solution.

Walter Van Beek wrote a good discussion of Mormonism’s lack of a public wedding ritual, and explained the central problem:

What aggravates the situation, at least for couples of ‘mixed provenance’, is that in the USA the Church does not give couples the choice to marry civilly first; if they opt to do so, they have to wait for a year before being allowed to the temple; outside the USA this is not the case.

When civil weddings are performed by bishops in the USA, they are discouraged from rendering the ceremony too much ‘like a wedding’: no wedding march, no walk through the isle, no exchange of rings. The Church not only has no wedding ritual, but leaders prevent the members from fabricating one themselves.

In my view this is a problem that will not go away, since at its basis lies exactly this missing ritual: it is the absence of a wedding ritual that creates the quandary.

Then there was this tragic tale of a fun community tradition that the CoJCoL-dS latched onto like a parasite — and ultimately ruined.

Since the CoJCoL-dS appears to be contracting, let’s visit the world of the formerly-Mormon!

Sara will be chronicling her post-Mormon journey. Dad’s Primal Scream is still working on reclaiming honesty. Zelph’s Samantha Shelley explained five things she wishes she’d known before leaving Mormonism, as well as a fun exmo gift guide. And check out this profile of NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In fun, Andrew Hackman did a March Madness of film reviews, and let’s take a visit to Gilgal Gardens!

Happy reading!