LDS Doubt in the NY Times

Well, this should be interesting.  The NY TImes has a story published on the web yesterday discussing the ongoing brouhaha in Sweden involving members who have had a crisis of faith. There is a bullet-pointed list of major concerns:

■ Why does the church always portray Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, when witnesses described him looking down into a hat at a “peep stone,” a rock that he believed helped him find buried treasure?

â–  Why were black men excluded from the priesthood from the mid-1800s until 1978?

â–  Why did Smith claim that the Book of Abraham, a core scripture, was a translation of ancient writings from the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, when Egyptologists now identify the papyrus that Smith used in the translation as a common funerary scroll that has nothing to do with Abraham?

â–  Is it true that Smith took dozens of wives, some as young as 14 and some already wed to other Mormon leaders, to the great pain of his first wife, Emma?

There’s also a video interview with former Swedish area authority Hans Mattsson in which he says, “What I felt kind of sad about, and I felt II didn’t really like, was that they said that  you’re not supposed to talk to your wife, your children; you don’t talk about these issues in church.”

The story isn’t exactly news for anyone here, but it is news that the matter is getting such high-profile attention.




Update on Mishies in Switzerland!

You may recall that recently Switzerland recently stopped the practice of routinely issuing visas to [foreign] Mormon missionaries (i.e. mishies from outside the EU). And — if you’re like me — this may have left you full of questions like: What will the CoJCoL-dS do??? Do they have enough European mishies to keep the mission going? Will they quietly shut it down? After all, Switzerland is an insanely expensive country, and I doubt they’re converting enough rich Swiss bankers to offset the cost of maintaining operations…

Fortunately for the curious, MSP’s Switzerland-based correspondent recently ran into some mishies at a tram stop and asked them!

So, it turns out that they do, in fact, have enough EU-citizen mishies to keep Switzerland fully stocked. Of the pair I met, one was from England and the other was from Germany. I’ve met mishies in various countries, and this was the first time I’d ever met a pair where neither one was from the US. (Once I even met a pair where both had attended the same high school in Utah.)

While it’s kind of too bad that many kids from Utah will be deprived of the experience of being rejected by the Swiss, this development may have a positive side for the CoJCoL-dS — if you think of the mission in terms of grooming the missionary himself for a life of Mormonism.

The one French guy I met who served an LDS mission told me that one of the key factors in his disaffection from the church was serving alongside the corridor-Mormons who already knew how to play the Mormon-corporate game. That is, the people who are raised in Mormon-land already know they want to be DL, ZL, AP, etc. because those distinctions mean something in their culture. And the mission experience is already disillusioning enough without watching people earn their leadership positions through all manner of polished, hypocritical butt-kissing. And I get the impression that Hellmut’s mission experience was similar.

It may well be beneficial for the European missionaries to get some Mormon leadership experience without having to compete with the corridor Mormons for it. That European guys that is. Ladies — still SOL, sorry!

Happy Birthday, Deutschland!

On a sunny winter day of 1985 or 86, I was waiting in the entrance of the Nuremberg train station when an elderly gentlemen with an Austrian accent addressed me: “When I see how beautifully Nuremberg has been rebuild, I feel encouraged that one day our Germany will be united again too.”

That was an extraordinary thing to say in 1986, especially to a perfect stranger. Clearly, the gentleman had been a supporter of the Nazi regime and yet I couldn’t hold the sentiment against him. He was so sincere, full of awe, hope, and humility. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Deutschland!”

Temple Marriage, Civil Marriage, and my marriage

When I got married — back in 2000 — the “gay marriage” issue was hardly on my radar. Ever since reading Stephen J. Gould’s Creation Myths of Cooperstown essay (back in my BYU days), I’ve tended to be wary of “just-so stories” that give an instantaneous creation point to something which, in reality, evolved over time. Naturally, I didn’t think highly of the idea that a holy man can suddenly create a marriage where none had existed before — just by saying the right magic words! For me, the marriage ceremony was merely one of the more interesting steps in the process of forming a family in that same way that conception, “quickening,” and birth are some of the more interesting steps in the process of forming a new mammalian individual.

Since my husband and I are from different countries, there was absolutely no question of rejecting legal marriage — we needed the protection of legal marriage to be sure to have the right to reside in the same country together. Even without that motivation, I’m sure we would have gone with legal marriage anyway, but the reason I mentioned gay marriage above is that — like many straight people on the side of marriage equality — I value the right to legal marriage more as a consequence of the fight to extend that right to all. But “what does that have to do with the Temple Wedding Petition?” you ask. Continue reading “Temple Marriage, Civil Marriage, and my marriage”

To stay and build up the kingdom

By the time Elder Beaverton and I got back to our apartment, it was past 18 heures (6 p.m.), so p-day was officially over, and it was time to get back to work.

The cool thing was that our work for the evening was hardly work. We finally had a referral for once — in fact, better than a referral, one of the local members had invited us to dinner to give the first discussion to her sister. Read the rest of the story

Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident

A while back another blogger asked me to submit an essay about my Mormon experience. Probably, for good reasons he changed his mind and never published it. Since it is already written and might shed some light on my argument at Times and Seasons, I might as well publish it myself. It might help some people to understand where I am coming from.

Testimony of a Dissident
When I grew up in the seventies and eighties, Church was a liberating experience. My mother converted when I was six. My father never joined the LDS Church and refused permission for me to get baptized until I was fourteen. Since the prohibition was never sufficiently justified, it only stimulated my aspirations.

I was an enthusiastic Mormon, walking five miles to get to Church when I couldnt afford public transportation. Except for my younger brother, I was the only Mormon in my school. Everyone knew about me because I was a Mormon for a reason. Probably the best indicator of my commitment to the Mormon cause was my role as a joint teacher in the conversion of over thirty Germans, which contributed to the creation of another ward. Continue reading “Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident”

Rebranding the Church

Gabriel Rossi is a marketing specialist who exercises in branding. I have not read much of his work but his emphasis appears to be that you first have to develop relationships with your staff and team members before you can successfully project a brand to your clients and customers.

With its origin myth in tatters and members leaving faster than being converted in North America and Europe and, may be, even in parts of Latin America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have to rebrand itself eventually.

According to Rossi rebranding is difficult and dangerous. Here are a couple of questions that he raises. I would love to hear your responses.

If a company wants to rebrand itself, what are a few things it should consider?

If a company wants to rebrand itself, what are a few things it should consider?

Rebranding is a bit more than changing the design of your logo. Rebranding is a long process (usually takes years) and always requires an inside-out response. You need to craft your brand again from the inside-out. It can be quite challenging, tricky and dangerous. Do it quietly and patiently… I advise companies to invest time in sorting internal issues out first of all. Ask your employees what the company represents to them. Do they understand its story and ambitions? What kind of dreams do they have for the future? Where does your organization want to go taking into consideration the current market place?