Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference Fallout Edition!

Did you get a chance to watch or listen to the latest General Conference? If not, you can get some of the highlights from Alex. Or listen to the Infants’ usual parody. (Or maybe listen to their ghost stories instead.)

Brooke W didn’t care for the message that everything is part of God’s divine plan:

The idea that God’s design includes every aspect of my life makes me uncomfortable. I don’t believe that God sent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc. as special tests for the people most affected by them. I don’t believe that people lose their jobs so God can see how well they handle running out of money. And I definitely don’t believe that my infertility is some grand test sent to me to make me a better person.

Some other messages were also questionable.

Perhaps the biggest discussion point this time was the re-iteration of gay people’s status in the CoJCoL-dS, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Their situation doesn’t change much. But it’s important to be aware of the damage such teachings can do to people’s lives:

We have a suicide youth crisis occurring in Utah… and to continue this cultural bias and unfortunate “tradition of our fathers” promoted as revealed doctrine from God is at best irresponsible… and in my eyes, has taken the following step towards knowing abuse. I am sure you have been alerted to the statistics we are currently dealing with as a people. I hold you responsible for this knowledge and yet choosing to continue in this direction.

Of course some people are just going to hate gay people….

Then, in a surprise move, Elder Ballard condemned racism, sexism, and nationalism! What could it mean?

In church history, here’s the tale of how the Quorum of the 12 got its power, and grindæl explained the origin of the baptism for the dead doctrine. And don’t miss these five myths about Mormons and money!

In US politics, the president is a vulgar man with a decrepit soul, the latest tragic shooting may help pass a bump fire ban, and are we still writing poems about players kneeling down?

In other church stuff, Hawkgrrrl enumerated the ways the church lost her, Michelle found imagery of the divine feminine, and Martin contemplated a Mormon sociopath.

Also, here’s another candidate for this year’s X-Mormon of the Year: Nobel Prize winner Kip Thorne.

In random life, Monica is setting of on a Tinder adventure, Joseph Broom spent a gay day in Berlin, So Says Me is not ashamed to be a fighter, Petra described what it’s like to be the only woman in the room, Sam Young recounted a strange dream, Tracy recounted a sad departure, Rosalynde is changing her perspective on housework, the Pearce family spent five weeks in Europe, and Froggey shared some beautiful photos of pumpkins and roses.

Have a great week!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference Time Edition!

It’s waiting time! General Conference is upon us with all that entails! As usual, it will take a bit of time for the juiciest nuggets to hit the discussion circuit. Apparently there’s also supposed to be something newsworthy in the batch of leaked documents that we’ll be hearing about soon. (* ETA: Some leaked videos made the news.) So far, the biggest scoop was that they had someone kneeling behind the prophet (to hold him up while giving his talk…?).

Actually, since the women’s session was last week, we’ve already got some commentary on some of the gems like this missive from a speaker who is apparently reporting from some alternate reality:

We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married, those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices.

If only that were true, what a wonderful world for young women Mormonism would be! At least the CoJCoL-dS removed a verse from the YW’s lesson manual about how victims of sexual assault are permanently diminished, which is a good start. Although if they’d actually denounce/correct the bad teachings instead of just silently deleting them, that would be so much more awesome.

But virginity and motherhood aren’t the only messages the CoJCoL-dS has for women. There’s also the critical importance of not being fat:

One woman talks about how she still gets “dates” even though she’s fat, so she has no motivation to lose weight. How sad that is. The only reason she could possibly have to want to lose weight is to find a man? What about losing it because you want to? I also find it very strange that this film makes these women out to be binge and compulsive overeaters. Yes, it’s true that many people are heavy simply because they eat too much, but that’s not always true. The truth is, being overweight is a complex problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. I am myself overweight, but I don’t eat three bowls of ice cream in a sitting, as is depicted in this film.

To get rich view of Mormon women’s experiences, you can read this fantastic new book full of Mormon women’s personal experiences with love, sex, and marriage: Baring Witness. I contributed an essay to it, and I’m re-reading and enjoying it now. You’ll hear more about it in this space, but to start with, here’s what the Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack had to say about it.

LGBT suicide continues to ravage the Mormon world, and the hate fueling this crisis is shockingly open. To the point where Mormons can’t believe that the CoJCoL-dS would have anything positive to say about gay people. This past week there were personal discussions of the problem on Infants on Thrones and another by the Crazy Mormon:

There were a lot of things that happened at the time that furthered my isolation and depression, some of which were at hands of LDS bishops and therapists. My bishop told me that being gay could be cured, that it had to do with a problematic relationship with parents. Therapists told me the atonement would cure me of my homosexuality. Reading statements from church leaders condemning homosexuality (especially The Miracle of Forgiveness) made things worse.

Other discussion topics from the past week include religious-based workplace harassment, polygamy’s lasting impact on Mormonism, perfectionism, going to hell, cognitive dissonance, and how the church’s bone-headed inflexibility turns membership into more a burden than a balm.

Also this book about Joseph Smith’s seer stones looks interesting, and Thinker of Thoughts transcribed a talk that was mysteriously without transcription.

I hope you’re enjoying this conference weekend — with or without traditional items like cinnamon rolls and/or actually listening to conference. Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: talking back edition!

It’s the week after General Conference — traditionally the week to chew on all the interesting nuggets that people have teased out of the mass of pablum! Weirdly, though, it seemed like not much happened. Maybe they’re doing a better job of vetting the talks…?

Probably the highlight was the new primary presidency in their primary colors!

Also, some liked the talk on how Mormons should help refugees, some didn’t.

Ordain Women tried asking the first presidency nicely for the right to perform Mormon rituals that don’t specifically require the priesthood — we’ll see if that goes anywhere! Dana Haight Cattani also recounted what happens when you try to give feedback to the CoJCoL-dS through the official channels.

In church watch there was some discussion on BYU’s rape policies and the CoJCoL-dS is still trying to find a strategy for controlling the story.

Here’s a tidbit of odd news: the man planning Mormontown, Vermont also has plans in Utah!

In LDS culture, conservative Mormons don’t seem to like Trump (and Palin has her problems as well), and Mormon Jesus celebrated his birthday!

God’s favorite musical has some explaining to do. Around here, the focus has mostly been on the accuracy of the portrayal of Mormons, but this new review highlights a different problem:

I studied the crowd after the performance. Some folks were hurrying to beat the exodus from the parking structure, but many small groups were laughing as they recounted different scenes. But not a single black audience member was smiling. Most looked shell-shocked.

There was potential in this play. There was a level of depth and complexity that went into the portrayal of the white Mormon missionary characters and a sophistication to the humorous critique of Mormonism and American proselytizing that didn’t make it to the other half of the cast. The Ugandans were played for cheap laughs, and these jokes could’ve been written by just about any racist and homophobic 12-year-old.

In life journeys, we have a the story of a transgender man facing excommunication, Jeremy Runnels’s disciplinary council is coming up, Brandon Pearce gave some advice on a life of full-time travel, and Dad’s Primal Scream described ancestors who left the world with a Mormon testimony on their lips.

In books, Runtu is serializing a new story: The Incidental Prophet. And writers take note — the Mormon Lit Blitz has just announced its call for entries:

Submissions for The Fifth Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest are due by 7 May 2016 to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate with an LDS audience in some way.

In fun, here’s a new hymn parody!

Happy reading!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Bad advice edition!

LDS General Conference is upon us again, and with it a reiteration of one of the worst pieces of life advice that the CoJCoL-dS loves to give its unmarried members:

Brethren, may I remind you, if there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?

I don’t have the complete text (I’m just working from the BCC summary), but apparently President Uchdorf told the single men that it’s wrong to have high standards when choosing a wife — just grab the first faithful Mormon woman that’s handy, and get busy already!

Contrast that with some real, actual good advice I happened upon this week — which I wish Mormon kids would be taught:

In our world, the major rule is to get married before you’re too old—and “too old” varies from 25 – 35, depending on where you live. The rule should be “whatever you do, don’t marry the wrong person,” but society frowns much more upon a 37-year-old single person than it does an unhappily married 37-year-old with two children. It makes no sense—the former is one step away from a happy marriage, while the latter must either settle for permanent unhappiness or endure a messy divorce just to catch up to where the single person is.

Apparently that wasn’t the only example of terrible marriage advice from the priesthood session, as Alex reports:

…if you truly want more Priesthood power, you will cherish and care for your wife, embracing both her and her counsel.

This just seems like the most idiotic advice. Listen, if the reason men are bothering to cherish their wives and listen to their wives’ counsel is to increase their Priesthood power, maybe Nelson should be giving an address about how to be a good husband and an all-around decent human being before worrying about amping up the magical power levels.

Then there was a talk that was something about lost car keys. On this profound topic even the summary needs a [tl;dr].

The biggest news from conference, though, was the decline in the growth rate of the CoJCoL-dS.

Of course some people stood up to oppose the sustaining vote, like last time.

It looks like some Mormons are thinking of creating a planned community in Vermont, and not everyone is happy about it. Oh well, at least the Mormons’ writing Amazon reviews for the Book of Mormon was amusing.

From the annals of why being Mormon sucks, some members have made a game of making sure the mishies follow every nit-picky rule in the “white Bible”:

Here’s a little challenge for everyone similar to looking for the hidden objects in Highlights magazine while waiting for that dreaded dentist appointment when you were a kid. Scan the photograph shown here and see if you can identify how many ways, if any, these two Mormon missionaries might be violating rules set down in the LDS Church’s Missionary Handbook.

Is it me, or could that paragraph use a little more punctuation somewhere? I had to read that first sentence three times, trying to figure out how someone could be similar to looking for hidden objects. See, I can be nit-picky too! 😀

In podcasts, we have racial issues in BYU athletics and the obligatory Mormon TMI mea culpa about the imaginary disorder known as “porn addiction.” Fortunately, there was someone with some sense in the comments section:

I think it would have been helpful to have a professional therapist, like Natasha Helfer Parker or Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, someone in the Mormon therapy world with real professional experience to provide a perspective on these issues. I think all of your guests were well intentioned, but I’m worried that some of the language used to describe addictions on this episode could perpetuate some of the problems we have in the Mormon culture around sexual issues.

And what would April be without some April Foolsjokes? Plus April has brought us a new exmormon hymn!

Happy April, Happy Conference, and Happy Reading! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Ponderize Edition!

I just love the week after General Conference! We get treated a to a whole week of discussion and analysis (and parodies and oodles and oodles of podcasts!) of all of the good parts of what was said — and, boy, did this last one have a lot of stuff to discuss!

First off, many people weren’t happy that — given the opportunity to fill three positions in the top leadership of the CoJCoL-dS — not only did they fail to think outside the “old white guy box,” but they couldn’t even find someone who isn’t from Utah.

I still remember being on a south America mission and an investigator who was interested wanted to see the apostles who are alive, the first thing she said was, “they are all white?”. It struck me because she was so sweet and her question wasn’t in offense but more in a surprising statement.

[…]

Had the same experience in Mexico. I actually stopped showing pictures of the Q15 because it embarrassed me so much.

Instead of trying to understand why members might be upset, the CoJCoL-dS decided to add insult to injury by posting a snarky article about the complainers. And, in case that wasn’t tone-deaf enough, the Mormon Observer helped out with an article about how one of the three new guys should fulfill your diversity wishes because his parents were from Europe, plus he has worked with black people in Baltimore and in Africa. (As far as I can tell, the article is not satire.)

Then there was the “Ponderize” scandal. In a nutshell, Elder Durrant coined the new word “ponderize” (by adding “-ize” to convert a verb into… a verb (hat tip Holly)), and he promoted this fun new term in his talk at General Conference. Meanwhile, his son had set up a website selling “ponderize” merchandise. Some criticized this move (and the whole concept of ponderizing), but others noted that LDS apostles sell uplifting merchandise all the time through Deseret Book, and nobody bats an eye. The punch line is that the ink wasn’t even dry on the speaker’s apology when the BYU Bookstore was monetizing “ponderize” merchandise!

Apparently, they also turned up the shaming/blaming of apostates. Even the liberal Mormons’ favorite apostle (Uchtdorf) spoke about the value of just believing what your leaders tell you, and — especially — not looking stuff up on the Internet.

Then Neil L. Andersen rubbed salt into the wounds of the less-believing by telling people to “give Joseph a break.” In other words, stop picking on poor old founding prophet Joseph Smith for all his little mistakes — but don’t expect the church to cut anyone else any slack.

Naturally, as usual, there were no new revelations:

5-year-long member Trudith McDillory summed up the way many members have come to view Conference. “A year or so ago, I realized that prophets, seers, and revelators really aren’t meant to do any of those things. They are just supposed to remind us about things we have chosen to know about and have faith in, in case we find any evidence to the contrary between conferences.” She further clarified her point by explaining that members of the KKK wouldn’t expect their Grand Wizards to actually be wizards. “That would be absurd,” observed McDillory. “This is pretty much the same.”

The saddest part was probably the fact that the current prophet is in such ill health that he was falling down at the podium, which people miraculously managed to spin into something inspiring.

The most dramatic moment, however, took place during one of the Mormon Stories podcasts reporting on the conference, in the words of Jamie Handis Handy about the hollow words on the value of women:

I really appreciate the beautiful editing job that Thinker of Thoughts did to draw attention to Jamie H. Handy’s powerful words (which otherwise would be buried in a three-hour podcast). That said, I find it weirdly ironic that the speaker’s name (and the source of the audio) don’t appear in the credits of the video itself — and I hope that Thinker of Thoughts will take the time to make a minor edit to rectify this oversight.

To summarize, here’s this latest conference in hilarious memes!

While putting this SiOB together, I’ve been thinking “Wow, chanson, this coverage of conference is really negative… I know faithful readers will not believe me when I say this, but I’d really like to report positive stuff happening at Conference. The problem is that the whole thing was such a train wreck on so many different ways (without even starting on the finances). And I simply don’t subscribe to the philosophy that positive coverage is to pretend that nothing bad happened and report on all the fluffy Hallmark cards read over the pulpit, as if they were news.

So much happened at conference this week, that it overshadowed a really interesting development in the fight for religious freedom at BYU! Apparently, BYU’s law school hosts some sort of ironic religious freedom conference, and Free BYU wrote to all the speakers to explain the irony — and they got a bite! And it’s getting some traction:

I’m pleased to see that the Free BYU guys are having some success because this issue is really important to me personally. I need to get down to business on submitting a profile for their site…

Other interesting LDS-related discussions include William Morris’s analysis of Mormon fiction writers and self-censorship and Jerry D. Grover, Jr.’s translation of the Caractors Document — which I totally want to check out when I get a minute. On a related note, the Cultural Hall podcast recounted the adventure of discovering a Mormon archeological site. And don’t forget our New Testament lesson on avoiding the appearance of evil!

The Sunstone Symposium is finally coming to Europe! It looks like there will be a symposium held in London February 26-28, 2016. I hope to see more details soon. I’m seriously thinking of attending — anyone else coming…?

(Though, honestly, it looks like it would be even more fun to go to Donna’s house…)

In other events, there’s an Inclusive Families Conference coming up in SLC in late October — anyone here planning to participate?

Wow, this has been quite a week! I’d like to sign of with my usual “happy reading” — but perhaps it would be more appropriate to wish you luck getting anything else done once you get started on this past week’s adventures!! 😉

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference Review Edition!

General Conference was last weekend, so this SiOB is the traditional wrap-up of the commentary after everyone’s digested it a bit. Especially the nardoo:

My faith is starving, full of nutritionless spiritual nardoo but too weak to stand, and I’m scared that our tiny baby steps of progress—women praying in General Conference; pictures of women leaders hanging in the Conference Center— can’t cross the desert fast enough to feed me. This is a crisis of faith too, as it ultimately means my faith isn’t strong enough, doesn’t have enough flesh to sustain me, but it’s a different sort of crisis: quieter, slower, belonging to the ones that just fade away, that never wanted a fight, that don’t have the energy anymore to keep showing up. Mine is a crisis of patience: I still hope for change, for progress, for Zion—the signs are there, and from small and simple things we might get great things—and I believe it will happen someday, but I no longer know if it that day come for me before I starve.

The opposed votes continue to generate memes. Will the BYU coach who threatened them resign? And why are nay voters a problem?

You’ll notice Elder Tanner didn’t balk at Brother Marchant for having the gall to voice his dissent right there in the middle of conference. Tanner responded to him with the respect you would expect from the Chair. After all, an opposing vote was asked for. Marchant’s beef was his opposition to the Church’s policy at that time of withholding the priesthood from black people. I’m certain that when Elder Hinckley (an apostle at the time) met with Brother Marchant, he was not swayed by Marchant’s arguments, but that’s not the point. I also doubt Marchant held any illusion that his minority vote would change the policy. The reason dissenting votes are important is so that the record will reflect not all members are in lockstep, regardless of how many others may or may not share their views. (Marchant was soon excommunicated for advocating a view that would become Church policy by the very next year. Go figure.)

I want to be sympathetic with J.G-W’s position, but… It seems like there are situations (eg. someone calling your family “counterfeit”) where self-respect would inspire you to say, “sorry, that crosses the line,” instead of writing a wall of excuses and rationalizations. (I guess you have to accept God’s priorities.) But I relate to this more easily:

As a LGBT member I of course felt horrified and attacked. I was meant to. The words were meant to be divisive. The words were meant not to draw a line in the sand and create a boundary. The words were meant to build a big brick wall with my believing family members firmly planted on the other side of the wall and me left out. I won’t be calling home for a few weeks because I don’t need the preaching. The preaching that believing members feel entitled and called to give because they have The Truthâ„¢.

One big theological surprise was Uchtdorf’s discussion of grace.

In other theology, bwv549 discussed some interesting points about using spiritual experiences to determine truth — specifically that they’re the entire basis for believing the church is true, and the church explicitly teaches members to reject spiritual witness when it doesn’t line up with the church. Our New Testament lesson covered types of evidence as well. (The BoM covered more war stories.)

How about books? Ever wanted to know more about Missouri and the Apocalypse? Meg Stout read The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume 1, and was very disappointed to discover that the author completely ignored her theory that it was all Bennett’s fault! (A lot of members don’t know much about Joseph Smith’s polygamy.) Living in Zion lamented that there’s no Jack Weyland for today. And the Mormon Sex Girls got it right when it comes to 50 shades:

The greatest danger we see with the 50 Shades phenomenon is not the promotion of an alternative sexual lifestyle but the promotion of what they are declaring as a modern day romance with an abusive dynamic in the name of BDSM. For adolescents trying to sort out their sexuality, they may wonder if this is in fact what a romantic relationship looks like. On the other hand, what 50 Shades has done in a positive way has prompted yet more conversation around sexuality, which in our opinion, is always a great thing.

And, not really Mormon-related, but an interesting perspective on the 20th anniversary of “The Rules”:

Of course, the thing that always blew my mind about The Rules, when I finally got around to actually looking at the book years later, which a friend left at my mom’s house, was how contradictory the advice was. On one hand, the authors told you that men enjoy bright, easy-going women who do not seem to need anything from them. Indeed, you are supposed to pretend to be busy when you’re not in order to give the impression that you are just such a good times gal with such a full calendar that you couldn’t possibly need him. You were also instructed to manipulate sexual contact to give the impression that you aren’t desperate, the idea being that by holding out on sex, you demonstrated that you weren’t eager to please him (because, in their minds, the only reason women have sex is to please men). Same story with their instructions to always break contact first, to give the impression that you are just such a busy person with such a full life that you couldn’t possibly need him.

But outside of a few guidelines for playing hard to get, you were otherwise instructed to act like a desperate supplicant who would do anything to placate a man. Having your own opinions—or even really talking much at all—was forbidden.

For some additional fun, see Diane Tingen’s new anthem: Refugee! And more!

In personal stories, So Says Me is relieved to have a real diagonsis. As for myself, it’s been another great weekend of sharing Minecraft fun with nieces and nephews across the ocean, including believers and unbelievers (Minecrafting together!), plus my cousin Aerin (who writes for this site) and her son joined us!

I hope you’ve had a fun weekend as well — happy reading!! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Easter Conference Drama Edition!

What’s the best way to spend a long holiday weekend? If you said “watching General Conference“, you may be Mormon!

Normally the most boring activity known to man (the faithful give tips on making your kids watch and staying awake), this conference was livened up by five people who decided to stand up and voice their opposition during the “any opposed?” part. They were loud enough to be heard on the broadcast, so the PSR (prophet/seer/revelator) at the podium had to acknowledge them.

Though it wasn’t the first time, the responses were what you would imagine. The orthodox were incensed (well not all of them), but some think that only the faithful deserve to be there:

One thing that stands out to me is that at least five people among thousands dissented, yet people are commenting on how “sad” it is that those people are losing their faith. Because they don’t sustain the leaders? One person went as far as saying that “evil” was coming into the dissenters’ lives.

This is news because apparently this is the first time in 30 years that anyone has opposed the leaders. To listen to the news video, you’d come away with the idea that the whole thing is a big formality anyway. One woman said that it was a person’s right to dissent, but it wasn’t appropriate to dissent during General Conference. Okay, well if you can’t dissent during General Conference when you are asked to sustain or oppose, when should you make your voice heard?

The non-orthodox to non-believing thought it was awesome, and even made a meme of the relevant Thomas Monson quote: Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus.

Highlights of the talks? Apparently gay people live a counterfeit lifestyle. Monson was still alive, mostly. Remember those talks where some old guy tells women how to be valued wives? This time they decided to mix it up a bit! Then there was the usual crap about non-believers. And my personal favorite: a brand-spanking-new object-lesson comparison for women!!

I’m surprised that a member of the Primary General Presidency would admit that in order to be full of “the Spirit and gospel truth” an LDS woman has to swallow the intellectual equivalent of an entire cup of dissolved sugar that’s been shot up with pressurized gas.

Also reported at conference: the stats show that lowering the missionary age didn’t help conversion rates.

Mithryn provided a contrasting talk on leadership:

The most frightening people (in leadership especially) are the ones who have no doubts. Because no matter how wrong they are, they will never know it and they cannot be reasoned with

Specifically, we need to rethink this polarization.

On a related note, how to respond to Indiana? It’s not time to be apathetic. Interestingly, as the CoJCoL-dS has backtracked on opposing gay marriage, the core members are finding a way to deal with it.

And wasn’t there something else going on this weekend? April Fools? Oh yeah, Easter. Time to scrutinize the legends of Jesus! (as well as other scriptures.)

As usual, Andrew S has some interesting insights about belief/unbelief and staying/leaving:

It seems to me that Dan wants to pin faith crisis issues in the head space (so the solution: move outside of one’s head, and learn to appreciate the heart space stuff, and rebalance the two. As Dan says, “Where else other than religion can you seriously engage matters of spirit?”)

I don’t think that this works, because I actually would probably agree with Carlisle that faith crisis issues discussed in a “head/belief” way actually have deeper roots with heart/lived experience issues. In other words, we could probably go into how every issue that shows up as a reason for faith crisis drills down to perceived decreased autonomy, lack of fulfillment, decreased personal dignity, etc., And if that is true, then that’s a different challenge for Dan. People are resistant to the concept of spirit because religion has soured them on “the religious life.” So it doesn’t feel like throwing baby with bath water in a move to secularism, scientism, atheism, etc., because it doesn’t feel like there was a baby.

In other random fun, we have some memorable Mormon art!! BYU polled people about the honor code. The BoM musical got some attention for flipping God the bird. The exmo reddit hit 20,000 subscribers! Obama met with LDS leaders. Skeptics have an image problem because there’s really no nice way to say, “Um, actually, that psychic isn’t really speaking to your dead relatives.” And what about these priorities?

Then some people are doing other stuff. Bipolar disorder is no joke.

Also, did you see the Scientology documentary? Maybe just watch the parody:

Personally, I have been having a fantastic weekend! It was just short enough that I didn’t plan myself anything, but long enough that I made some serious progress on my personal projects: I finished my palette-management program that I’d been planning to make to simplify my comic art, and I repotted my tomato seedlings for my garden. Plus I got a bunch of random stuff done around the house and had a great time inviting over friends I haven’t seen in a while and got to play some video games with my own kids and with my niece across the ocean! Not to mention the usual treats for Easter!! And we still have one more long-weekend day tomorrow for some more artwork and to have a look at all the homework my kids have for next week…

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend as well!!! À la semaine prochaine !

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Countdown to Conference Commentary Edition!

Today my RSS reader was full of open threads and live-blogging of General Conference! While some commentary and especially laughs are already rolling in, experience tells me that if anything interesting at all gets said at conference, the awesome/exciting conference commentary will be next week‘s SiOB. (The most exciting things so far have been that some women attended satellite sessions of priesthood, plus another predictable PR blunder from the CoJCoL-dS.) And if nothing interesting gets said, then next week’s SiOB will be back to normal. But for today we can sit back and enjoy a relaxing Sunday.

Some redditors showed how the proofs of the Book of Mormon also prove the truthfulness of Harry Potter. But — being a good atheist and everything — I’m one step ahead of them!! Yesterday, I wrote yet another scathing critical analysis of Harry Potter! (Yes, it’s a sickness I know, but this is the last one. I hope…)

Remember how the Mormons did that ad campaign about how normal Mormons are? Well, guess who else’s reputation has dropped so low that they’re making ads to try to convince people they’re normal: the Republicans! I think this kind of marketing is actually kind of counter-productive.

This week’s big theological question concerns masturbation: is it OK for medical reasons? Other fun topics include tough choices, the beard revolution, and who was more valiant in the pre-existence!

More serious church topics include debating the Book of Abraham and that strange type of “equality” the CoJCoL-dS offers.

In this week’s faith journeys, Emma Smith came out as an unbeliever to her parents, and Knotty is enjoying some religious music.

And lots of folks in the fringes of Mormonism are simply talking about other topics, like no-bake muffins, helping abuse victims, visiting Florence, and how awesome it is to be car-free!!

(Also Brett Cottrell has a new book out — I need to get more details because he’s calling it a “debut novel” — and it sounds very similar to his earlier book — so I’m guessing he re-worked after finding a publisher.)

Have a great Sunday!

No Longer Afraid of the F Word

Last year my 20 year old son recommended I read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I don’t think I had ever read an explicitly feminist text before that and it was an eye opener. I was surprised by how much the experiences of the women she wrote about resonated with me. Married at age 19, I didn’t complete my college education since my hubby was in school. I was a stay at home full-time mom with four children that had experienced “the problem that has no name.” Learning about some of the early feminists in history that had impacted things that I took for granted was eye opening. I was amazed at their courage and tenacity and the sometimes terrible sacrifices they made. It was also enlightening to learn about the women in early church history and what they were able to do. Some of the well known women’s names were the early church feminist pioneers as they worked to empower women in the church and provide opportunities for them.

During this same period of time I became familiar with the Ordain Women movement and began interacting with some of the participants and supporters online. It took me a while to understand who they were, what they were trying to do, why they felt this was appropriate and their reasons for stretching cultural church boundaries in their methods. I read what they wrote, asked questions, listened and became supportive from a comfortable distance. My family was already trying to navigate a mixed-faith situation after my husband’s and my faith transition; I wasn’t sure I wanted to add anything more to this challenge. I posted, commented, liked and showed support online, but that was as far as I got and I didn’t typically put anything on my personal FB wall.

Their October event came and went and I watched from the sidelines. It was frustrating to see the way they were portrayed and the things being said and written about them. Much of this disturbing stuff came from members! I found myself becoming more and more of an ally as I realized the challenge they were facing and how hard they were working to try express why/what they were doing. In February I finally decided to submit my profile and officially endorse what they were doing and made the plunge into public support. I knew they were planning on asking for tickets in April and really wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend.

Fast forward to Saturday. There I was walking through the rain and hail in a line of supporters headed toward Temple Square. I stood for two hours waiting my turn to speak with Kim Farah, the woman who stood in front of the Tabernacle, whose job it was to tell us that we could not have tickets. As I moved forward I was surprised at the support that people displayed. Several men moved along the line letting us know how much they appreciated what we were doing. One man purchased a bag of new towels and gave them to women who looked cold and wet. Another man stopped to genuinely ask about what we were doing and why. He listened and asked questions and didn’t judge or condemn. Nobody on temple square asked me to leave, gave me instructions of any kind or made it clear in anyway that they wanted me to get out of line. The statement released later in this Deseret News article came as a complete surprise and is disingenuous at best.

When I got closer I wondered what and how I would express myself and why I had driven from Montana to do this. It wasn’t hard to find the words once it was my turn and I shared why this was important to me as a woman, my sadness that leaders were unwilling to actually listen and speak to us like she was doing and my hope that things could change. She asked me questions, told me she cared – that was why she was there – and hugged me. I was surprisingly emotional afterward as I stepped away and found two young women watching the entire scene. They were not members and asked me what we were doing and I explained it to them between wiping my eyes. I described the heartache and difficulty and why so many of these women were trying hard to help change the church that they loved into something healthier.

On my drive home by myself mulling things over for those hours I realized the impact that book my son had recommended had on me. I had just experienced my first true public display at supporting something feminist. It had forced me to step outside my comfort zone and opened me up to criticism and scrutiny. People were now judging my character, motivations and I was being called divisive. Being surrounded by this group of intelligent, articulate, hardworking and savvy women was motivating. Watching them reach out to each other and extend support, empathy, sacrifice and friendship, as they worked to empower and encourage women, was what I felt the vision of Relief Society was about.

I’m no longer afraid of the “F” word…..I’m inspired by it.

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!