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: 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!

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 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!