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.
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.
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.
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 versefrom 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.
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.
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…?
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.
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.
Submissions for The Fifth Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest are due by 7 May 2016 to email@example.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.
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!
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].
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! 😀
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.
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!
5-year-long member Trudith McDillory summed up the way many members have come to view Conference. â€œA year or so ago, I realized that prophets, seers, and revelators really arenâ€™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.â€ She further clarified her point by explaining that members of the KKK wouldnâ€™t expect their Grand Wizards to actually be wizards. â€œThat would be absurd,â€ observed McDillory. â€œThis is pretty much the same.â€
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.
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.
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…?
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!! 😉
My faith is starving, full of nutritionless spiritual nardoo but too weak to stand, and Iâ€™m scared that our tiny baby steps of progressâ€”women praying in General Conference; pictures of women leaders hanging in the Conference Centerâ€” canâ€™t cross the desert fast enough to feed me. This is a crisis of faith too, as it ultimately means my faith isnâ€™t strong enough, doesnâ€™t have enough flesh to sustain me, but itâ€™s a different sort of crisis: quieter, slower, belonging to the ones that just fade away, that never wanted a fight, that donâ€™t have the energy anymore to keep showing up. Mine is a crisis of patience: I still hope for change, for progress, for Zionâ€”the signs are there, and from small and simple things we might get great thingsâ€”and I believe it will happen someday, but I no longer know if it that day come for me before I starve.
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.)
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„¢.
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.)
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.
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 momâ€™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 youâ€™re not in order to give the impression that you are just such a good times gal with such a full calendar that you couldnâ€™t possibly need him. You were also instructed to manipulate sexual contact to give the impression that you arenâ€™t desperate, the idea being that by holding out on sex, you demonstrated that you werenâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 opinionsâ€”or even really talking much at allâ€”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!! 😀
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.
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?
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.
It seems to me that Dan wants to pin faith crisis issues in the head space (so the solution: move outside of oneâ€™s head, and learn to appreciate the heart space stuff, and rebalance the two. As Dan says, â€œWhere else other than religion can you seriously engage matters of spirit?â€)
I donâ€™t think that this works, because I actually would probably agree with Carlisle that faith crisis issues discussed in a â€œhead/beliefâ€ 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 thatâ€™s a different challenge for Dan. People are resistant to the concept of spirit because religion has soured them on â€œthe religious life.â€ So it doesnâ€™t feel like throwing baby with bath water in a move to secularism, scientism, atheism, etc., because it doesnâ€™t feel like there was a baby.
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!!! Ã€ la semaine prochaine !
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.
(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.)
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 WomenÂ 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 profileÂ 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.