Sunday in Outer Blogness: Rape room edition!

Hey folks — apologies for the salacious title, but wow — the latest from Mormon Leaks is quite a shocker! Audio of an interview in which a former president of the MTC admits to having a special basement office for very special interviews with Sister Missionaries who report to him!

Check out these responses:

Looks like Sam Young was right about the danger of abuse. And there was quite a march in Salt Lake City to raise concerns about these interviews with the leadership!

The CoJCoL-dS responded by conducting a full investigation, but not the one you might have hoped for, rather into the victim’s past:

“It sends a message to that individual person, but to everyone else, that if you come forward we are going to dig through your past we’re going to dig through your experiences who you are your very identity,” Bitton said.

It’s natural to be outraged when hearing of the church’s response, but their actions are hardly surprising. Further punishing rape victims for being harlots hasn’t even gone out of style yet in mainstream society.

As I discussed recently, the CoJCoL-dS uses polarization as a standard strategy. Those who were molested (and those who believe them) mistrust the church’s claims of having a trustworthy leadership hierarchy with the “power of discernment” — so the CoJCoL-dS throws them out violently and casts them as villains. That’s what retains the confidence of their target audience: the people who think the CoJCoL-dS is perfect, hence anyone who claims to have been harmed by it must be the minions of Satan, working to tear down the church. If that polarization tears your family apart, then T.S. for your family, as far as the church is concerned.

OK, well, let’s not get carried away — they did make some improvements.

And let’s not let this latest horror story crowd out all the little things, like wondering which white Mormon-royalty dudes from Utah will fill the recently-opened GA positions.

And don’t miss this article in the Children’s Friend, explaining to young girls that if it seems unfair that they don’t get to pass the sacrament like their brothers, they should just put that worry “on the back-burner”. It’s just so gross — particularly this helpful explanation:

Mom said I could ask Dad for a blessing, and he blessed me to not feel too nervous. I feel a little better now. Dad told me that giving a blessing is an act of service for someone else, just like everything else we do with the priesthood. He said that when he needs a blessing, he asks our home teachers. I’d never thought about it that way.

Of course Dad can’t ask Mom to perform this act of service for him (because penis), so he has to ask some random male neighbors to do it. Gosh, that makes me feel so much better about this whole thing…

Plus another sad family story about not meeting expectations:

In his office, my dad has a frame on the wall containing a picture of each of my sisters. My picture is not in this frame.

When my second oldest sister went on her mission, she happened to send home a picture of herself standing on a street with her bag slung over one shoulder. Someone in the family realized that this photo had striking similarities with a picture my oldest sister had taken on her mission. The background was from a different country and the outfits were slightly different, but the poses and the facial expressions were nearly identical. A plan was quickly hatched for my youngest sister to pose the same way at some point during her mission and for me to follow suit a few years later, completing an amusing but meaningful set for my parents to frame. My dad went so far as to get the frame and arrange the portraits so that there were two empty spaces. It wasn’t long until the third space was filled. And I knew that the bottom right-hand corner was reserved for me.

In announcements: the Sunstone fiction contest is coming up — submission guidelines here.

Good luck with the heavy dose of reading this time! Oh, and Happy Easter! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: I’m back edition!

Hey folks, let’s ease back into this with some good old-fashioned gender inequality!

April Young Bennett performed a fascinating experiment on what happens when you merely point out how few women speak at LDS General Conference — particularly daring to include some controversial musings:

“Wouldn’t it be strange if we had a whole session of #LDSconf without a single male speaker?” I asked Twitter after the Saturday afternoon session, which had included six male speakers and zero female speakers.

“Considering that would mean no talks by the priesthood leadership, yes. Yes it would be weird. Or, it’s be Women’s session.” answered one man. He was right on his first point; in our church, it is considered mandatory to hear from the priesthood (i.e., men) but women’s perspectives are thought of as unnecessary or optional. He was wrong on the second point: a man speaks at every Women’s Session. In fact, usually the male speaker at Women’s Session receives more speaking time than any of the female speakers.

It turns out that the fundamental irrelevance of women is a bit of a recurring theme in Mormonism:

How many active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders does it take to form a ward? No, it’s not a lightbulb joke.

15 — to fully staff a bishopric with clerk and secretary, high Priests group leadership, Elders quorum presidency, young men presidency and a ward mission leader.

How many active, full-tithe-paying Relief Society sisters does it take to form a ward? Well, technically none.

Of course, the CoCJoL-dS’s more hard-core cousins are also not so keen on seeing women in leadership positions:

“It has come to a point where I have to choose between my religion and participation in city government, and I choose my religion,” he wrote in his letter dated Jan. 25. “My religion teaches me that I should not follow a woman for a leader in a public or family capacity.”

Given religion’s terrible record with recognizing women as full-fledged humans, wouldn’t it be awesome if the atheist movement were doing a great job of providing a clear alternative? That’s the future I’m trying to work towards, but for the moment, it’s more like this:

TJ Kirk AKA the “Amazing Atheist” has been around for over a decade, and he’s been this repugnant since he first popped up. He has over 100,000 followers on Twitter. He has a million subscribers on YouTube.

You want to defend the skeptical and atheist community? We’re going to have to face up the fact that the popularity and persistence of terrible people who wave the banner of atheism has already compromised us, and realize that when some of our ‘heroes’ go further and commit sexual harassment, that doesn’t mean that they’re exceptional, but are perhaps more representative than we like to admit. At the very least, we have to recognize that being a misogynistic scumbag does not disqualify you from claiming to be an “amazing” atheist.

Sam Young has turned his petition movement (against adults giving children sexually-themed “worthiness” interviews) into a non-profit. Also, you may know that one of the Infants on Thrones has worked as a sex crimes prosecutor — he shared some insights on how to best protect children and help victims of abuse and trauma heal.

Jacob Baker gave some interesting insights about the CoJCoL-dS gaslighting people on their choice of identity:

Elder Oaks’ recent talk about not “labeling” oneself gay is a case in point. You are not “gay;” at most you have certain “homosexual predilections” that must and can be contained and, if possible, re-purposed. Deciding that this is your identity is the “real sin.” Being okay with being gay, loving yourself as a gay person, wanting others to love you as a gay person, that’s problematic because you are actually not a “gay person,” you are a child of a God who would never task any of his children with the impossibility of eternal, ontological homosexuality, thereby preventing them entirely from being connected to the Great Chain of Exaltation.

And, as I’ve said before, this isn’t a case of the church trying to free us from the limitations of labels in general since they clearly don’t have a problem with me identifying as a “mom” and probably don’t have a problem with me identifying as a “software engineer” — but when it comes to people wanting to embrace identities the church doesn’t like (like gay), they’re like:

Other Mormon-related discussions include how Mormons are like fundamentalists, do blessings of healing work?, how Mormon apologetic tactics have improved, BYUI is of one of the most terrifying universities imaginable, and what does it mean to teach doctrine, and how is it different from what people were doing in Gospel Doctrine class before?

Tanner of Zelph has some more great book recommendations! All non-fiction though. If you’re up for a fun fiction title, have you tried this one yet? Or perhaps a sacred poem?

Folks — thanks for your patience (if there’s anyone left still reading this…). I hope that my little bi-weekly roundup of the most interesting Mo-related news and discussion is interesting and entertaining to you. As I’ve probably explained, the reason the content has been a little lean for the past six months is that six months ago I was promoted to CTO, and, naturally, I had to increase my hours at work. I am hoping to get the IT department into a state where I can cut my hours back down and still do this job effectively, but I’m not there yet. Maybe by this summer I’ll be able to have a day per week for projects like this blog and MAA Books — not to mention getting back to drawing my comic book (and in my fantasy universe I also do a podcast 😉 ).

Happy reading and have a great week!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: The Mormon Moment is Over Edition!

It seems like a couple of years ago there was some LDS-related scandal practically every other week — often making national and international news. Now, not so much. I guess the CoJCoL-dS can’t compete with Trump. Those were the days.

Well, let me scrape together what Mormon news I found over the past few weeks. The highlights were mostly personal stories like Joseph’s reminiscences of love, Samantha’s path to joy, Gina’s love of her husband’s long hair, Anonymous’s experience with waiting until marriage, Jana’s list of life goals, John’s weird dream, and Laura-Denise’s tale of getting kicked out of church for standing up to racism.

In other personal journeys, Steve Otteson has decided to join the Community of Christ, apparently after listening to my brother’s thoughts on the subject.

This month folks have been remembering the discriminatory policy that the CoCJoL-dS launched two years ago; some discussing the parallel LDS exclusion policies for children of polygamists and children of gay couples; others leaving the church. Heather Armstrong spoke at the 8th annual mass resignation.

Then there were some fascinating discussion topics:

Joseph Peterson argued that the cookie-cutter LDS meetinghouse is a design triumph. Alex analyzed the mysteries in the wording sacrament prayers, plus other way the Book of Mormon’s teachings diverge from modern practice. Facsimilogos reviewed a piece from the LDS Newsroom about avoiding doctrinal deception:

Maxwell also accuses the members of the members of the church of not only being gullible but that they (we) lack doctrinal sophistication. Hmmm, I wonder whose fault that would be? If members of the church lack doctrinal sophistication – and LDS church members are highly active among church going people – where does the fault lie? Perhaps the leaders should provide a little more of that doctrinal sophistication. This highlights the perpetual behavior of church leaders towards the members. Everything is always the fault of the members! It just reminds me of dealing with a spoiled child. Nothing is ever their fault.

Sam Young is continuing his series on the problems with Mormon bishops grilling teenagers about masturbation, and some others have spoken and written about it this week as well, including John Dehlin. Nate Bagley recounted his shame surrounding masturbation as a Mormon teen, and apparently concluded that porn is the problem.

But it’s not just the really, really bad stuff that makes people leave the church. It’s also about failing to build a community that motivates people to stay:

In the 1970’s, during my teenage years at church, I had a wonderful time. This was a time of YM/YW activities that didn’t have to have a “Priesthood Purpose” . We played basketball, went golfing, chased the girls in the ward (literally and figuratively), went to trips to Los Angeles including a NBC studio tour and saw the filming of the sitcom “Sanford and Son”. Went water skiing, snow skiing, and anything else we could think of. We did road shows, and had church sport leagues, with regional games that included overnight road trips and sleeping in a hotel.

And then there’s another big hole in the church’s tent:

I remember first mulling over the reality that a ward could run without any women at all, that if all the women stayed home on Sunday, you could still have church services. (I guess the only possible wrinkle would be what to do with the male Primary children, who could still have Primary teachers—just not a Primary presidency to keep the whole thing running.) If all the men stayed home, on the other hand, there would be no church services. Full stop.

Well, let’s close with some fun, like General Conference Slam Poetry. Or a photo of Fantasy Canyon. Or — strangest of all — some Mormons took clips from Trump’s gaffe-filled trip to Puerto Rico interview and turned it into an interview about his Mormon mission! Fascinating that some Mormons still wish to claim Trump as one of their own…

See you in another couple of weeks!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Girl Boy Scouts edition!

When I was a kid growing up Mormon, I wanted to do all of the fun, cool things the Boy Scouts got to do. It wasn’t that the scouting program was ideal so much as the fact that the boys got infinitely more resources (and recognition) for their activities than the girls got. Now that the CoJCoL-dS has started decoupling its young men’s program from the BSA — and replacing some of it with a program more like the one they developed for the girls — maybe they’re making a small step towards equality. But it feels like an equality of bring everyone’s experience down to the same low level…

Meanwhile, the BSA has announced a plan to start admitting girls — to the point of allowing girls the possibility of earning the rank of Eagle. I doubt this means any girls will get to have a “Court of Honor” held for them by their LDS ward, alongside their brothers. It’s nice that the Boy Scouts are making an effort to join the 21st century, but girls are probably still better off joining the more-progressive-and-feminist Girl Scouts.

On a related note, the CoJCoL-dS has just cut the number of gender-segregated General Conference meetings in half. Yay, fewer meetings!! (for those who still watch conference…)

Then there was a very cool bit of Mormon news: New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is a former Mormon!

In the past few weeks, the blogosphere has yielded some fascinating theological discussions:

And a number of book reviews:

Life journeys!

I really didn’t want to go on a mission. Trolling through strange neighborhoods for two years, knocking on the doors of strangers, and telling strict Catholics to believe in something I didn’t ever believe in just didn’t sound like the most appealing way to spend my time. But as all my friends disappeared, and as my 19th birthday came and went, and the pressure continued to mount, I finally consented and agreed to go. I should also mention that it didn’t hurt that Mom and Dad generously offered to buy me a new car when I got back. And, no. It was not a bribe. It was a kickback from two very generous parents for giving such a big part of the best years of my life to the Lord. Okay. It was definitely kind of a bribe. And I took it.

Plus a couple of somewhat Mormon-interest topics:

So, is everyone ready for Halloween? I’m not sure I am… I just had a major increase in workload and stress at my job, which is why I skipped SiOB last week. These will probably be a little more sporadic until the end of 2017, but the Brodies and the X-Mormon of the Year awards will be on schedule! 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: BYU Coke edition!

In my day, “caffeinated pop” was one of those sinful beverages that good Mormons avoided. Then it became a point of controversy, and then President Newsroom announced that there’s not actually any rule against it. And now Brigham Young University has finally started allowing the sale of Coke with caffeine on campus! Which, naturally, takes all of the fun out of it.

The other bit of Mo-news was that the CoJCoL-dS purchased the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ for $35 million. Many were shocked, but I can’t bring myself to be remotely surprised that the richest branch of the Mormon tradition bought a valuable historical artifact from another branch in need of cash…

General Conference season is upon us, so it’s time for exciting activities like voting opposed! The first controversial development so far is that Joy D. Jones explicitly mentioned “Mother in Heaven”! Maybe talking about Heavenly Mother will one day be allowed again, like Coke.

There were some interesting scripture-study topics, including :

At no point does anybody say, “hey, we went from millions to less than a hundred, let’s stop and think about this.” At no point does someone say, “I’m getting out of here to live on my own before these animals destroy everyone.” At no point does anyone say, “Maybe the fact that we keep fainting from the loss of blood doesn’t bode well.” It’s just continuous fighting, with occasional breaks for sleeping and for fleeing to other made-up place names between battles. When did they have time to prepare and ingest food to fuel more fighting? How is it that one side didn’t win by attacking while the others slept?

None of this makes sense. None of this feels like the behavior of real people—although, admittedly, it would make one seriously badass action movie (Jason Statham IS…Coriantumr. Coming summer 2018). No one is this obsessed with victory or vengeance, but even if there are people like that, what are the odds that the last hundred or so warriors of a nation numbering in the millions would ALL be that kind of person?

But you know what’s even more ludicrous? After these millions of Jaredites have hacked each other to pieces, the last two combatants after every single other person has died are the two leaders of the armies. The final inning is a showdown between Shiz and Coriantumr.

Gimme a break.

Then there were a bunch of other interesting LDS-interest discussion topics:

As soon as a white Mormon man decides to ‘reimagine’ Eve as black, she is naked and up for auction.” Likewise, Bryndis Roberts, a Black convert to the church who practices law in Atlanta, told the Salt Lake Tribune that “this depiction with more of a focus on her breasts than her face is far too similar to pictures of black women on the auction block.”

But Richards did not listen.

In personal journeys, we have some literal ones and a poignant live journey:

There were so many things I didn’t know that day as I knelt at an altar and agreed to the LDS vows of a forever marriage. For example I would have been devastated to know that three close family members who were present at the ceremony would die too soon. My father would only live two more years because of pancreatic cancer, I would lose my brother-in-law to lymphoma five years later, and my grandmother a decade after that. I couldn’t foresee that I would move more than 15 times in those 25 years or that the wedding gift that I received that day, of a sewing machine from my mother, would become one of the very few possessions that would travel with me for each of those moves. And of course it was completely beyond my imagination that the eternal wedding vows I agreed to that day would, seventeen years later, be erased by the action of a stake president when he excommunicated my spouse from the LDS Church, or that a year after that I would file for a civil divorce.

See you in a fortnight!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Disaster edition!

I hope all of you in Florida and Texas and other disaster-stricken regions are safe today! It is time to take climate change seriously. Runtu’s daughter and son-in-law’s home was flooded by Hurricane Harvey and they didn’t have flood insurance — he has set up a fund for them here.

Surrounding the hurricanes, prosperity-preacher Joel Osteen was shamed for not sheltering people, and a Texas professor got fired for making an insensitive remark.

Let’s have a look at this week’s Mormon discussion topics!

In life journeys, Brooke W recounted some adventures with fertility. Andrew Hackman’s son just turned 16. Paul Sunstone lost his mother. David Johnson shared some thoughts about the CoJCoL-dS and his mixed-faith marriage. Dad’s Primal Scream participated in a discussion of divorce and gay parenting. Ben came out to his new ward, and Alexis’s cousin had an unusual gay Mormon experience:

We were led to believe that he suffered with a mere lack of direction in his life which compelled him to spend hours at a time in front of the family’s living room television, thoroughly engaged with Food Network programming. Richard’s fascination with all things related to Bobby Flay did not escape the attention of his mother, who honestly believed she could change her son’s true nature to what it should have been according to LDS teachings by the simple act of cancelling her family’s cable TV connection.

And I could relate to Bethany Jane’s experience of not connecting with one of the central components of Mormonism:

It took me until my late twenties to realize that I am not a spiritual person. I don’t feel things in church or when I pray or when other people are. The only time I feel something is when music is involved and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the pioneer hymns of Mormonism. When you are not a spiritual person and frankly most religious things make you incredibly uncomfortable, it is virtually impossible to try and gain faith in things you feel nothing for and are super confused by. I deal primarily in logic and not feelings; religion is not logical. When I told my bishop that I was not a spiritual person he tried to assure me that isn’t true and of course I am; I do not see this as a fault but just how I was made.

This week’s Book of Mormon lesson was pretty fun:

And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.

Again!? I’m starting to think that if the FBI developed a time machine and used it to track American crime statistics back a few thousand years, they’d discover that about 80% of all homicides in this country prior to European invasion took place on either a throne or a judgment seat. It’s literally the most dangerous place for any character of the Book of Mormon to be at any given time.

Or maybe Joseph Smith just wasn’t that creative when it came to dreaming up scenarios for the assassination of government officials (luckily for Lilburn Boggs).

Then there was quite a lot of discussion about books:

Good luck to all, and happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Intolerance edition!

You may have noticed that there have been some racial tensions in the United States lately. Also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has traditionally had some problems with racism (see this helpful infographic). And, yes, there’s racism in the Book of Mormon:

This scripture is important because it racializes skin color. That is, it was because of the dark skin, that we know the Lamanites were bad hombres. This as opposed to the idea that the Lamanites were sinful and thus they were cursed with a dark skin. Also note that the dark skin was a mark of marriage prohibition. This is racism 101. Let me provide an example to help better understand what I mean

“How do we know Blacks (insert negative stereotype) act that way?”

“Because their skin is black and black people always act that way.”

There is no way 2 Nephi 5:21-24 can be read metaphorically.

It turns out there’s a Mormon Mommy Blogger who is one of the leaders of the Alt-Right! To the church’s credit, President Newsroom explicitly called out white nationalists when the Nazi mommy interpreted their more ambiguous statement as being favorable to the alt-right. Next step maybe actually excommunicate her?

The Mormon Church has been making empty statements about racists not being proper Mormons since well before the Alt-Right groups became a thing. Individuals, like Ayla, have risen in popularity while the great authority of the Mormon Church has excommunicated people like Kate Kelly for suggesting that some women could be given the same magical “blessings” reserved for eight year old boys. This leads the outsider to think that, to the Mormon Church, respectfully discussing aspects of magical wacky-woo is much more egregious than openly espousing neo-fascist ideology.

For the average Mormon, some tips on standing against white supremacy from BCC and the Young Mormon Feminists. Dooce recently resigned from the CoJCoL-dS over the racism:

When I found out that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was going to sing at the inauguration of a self-professed sexual predator and unadulterated bigot, I submitted my name for removal. Here’s the PDF I have hanging over the laundry basket where I throw my dirty panties.

Trump’s flailing incompetence is fanning some very dangerous flames of hatred. In my analysis on my personal blog, though, I’ve found a possible ray of hope:

The critical point is that the Republicans in Congress are finally starting to turn on him. Trump doesn’t seem to understand that those Republicans in the House and Senate are currently the only people standing between him and jail. And he is just too. damn. stupid. to do a bare minimum of maintenance on those alliances that are so critical to his survival. Instead he has repeatedly demonstrated that teaming up with him is the fast track to finding yourself under a bus.

The CoJCoL-dS also has some problems with homosexuality, but some gay Mormons are making it work — sometimes in unusual ways. Specifically, this lesbian couple earned praise for getting divorced in order to be members in good standing!

In happier gay Mormon tales, Dad’s Primal Scream came up with a positive way to keep himself from being erased from his son’s life:

My e-mails have usually been full of the latest details about our family, me and his sisters. I always tried to include a healthy amount of humor. I’d send jokes or the latest memes because I know how somber and dreadfully serious everything can be on a mission.

But now that he’s coming back I’ve been dreading the same sort of snubbing at homecoming events that I experienced when he left.

So, I’ve decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself I am going to take my power back. I’ll be hosting my own welcome back party for him. I’m be inviting my gay and ex-Mormon friends and he can invited whomever he wants. The focus will be on our joy to have him back. That’s it. I’ve run it by him and he has agreed!! I’m very excited.

On to other LDS-interest news and discussion topics!

And Alexis posted a fascinating Mormon doctrinal riddle — comment on her blog if you know the answer!

What is the protocol concerning informing new spouses about old secret names? And what about if two husbands know a woman’s secret name? What if the original husband says he has moved on, but he really hasn’t, in an emotional sense, and he still knows his ex-wife’s secret name? What if he manages to get himself posited into the right place to bring his ex through the veil? The wife is unsuspecting and thinks it’s the right person bringing her through the veil, or whatever, and then VOILA! She gets through or across and sees that she has been facilitated into eternity by someone she wasn’t at all expecting to see there. What does she do then?

Or does she get a new secret name so that the old husband, in case he’s not on the up and up, doesn’t know her more current secret name?

Also don’t miss this new blog with travel tips from one exmo friend to another!

Wow, there was really a lot of fantastic discussion in blogspace this past fortnight! I hope you get a chance to check out some of these links despite my getting this out so late. Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: **edited: forgot to add a title edition, lol

I guess it’s not Mormon news, but various Mormons had a lot to say about the recent racist violence in Charlottesvilleand about racism within Mormonism. Good for the CoJCoL-dS for specifically calling out racism — something Trump couldn’t bring himself to do.

I wish the atheist movement were doing a better job of stepping up to the platesadly, no.

The biggest Mormon story was that a General Authority got excommunicated. The CoJCoL-dS didn’t say what it was for, except to say that it was not apostasy. So let the speculation begin! (Both about what this dude did to get X’d and about why the CoJCoL-dS felt the need to tell us all that it wasn’t apostasy…)

On to discussion topics! We have some new takes on familiar topics like whether Joseph Smith had sex with his polyandrous and teen brides, how the CoJCoL-dS delegitimizes the stories of those whose experiences with the church were less than positive, the problem with faith-promoting stories, how to communicate across the Mo/exMo divide, the church taking credit but not blame, whether prayer works, and masturbation! Plus some modern topics like blaming the poor for poor health (as opposed to socialized health care) — looks like blaming is actually more biblical. There are also women’s issues like fat shaming, rites for girls in other faiths, gender essentialism, and being trained in which aspirations are allowed.

In history, there’s the ambiguity of the succession crisis, plus a follow-up!

In scripture study, the Book of Mormon teaches some questionable ideas about faith.

In life journeys, John Gustav-Wrathall explained why he stays in the CoJCoL-dS (despite having been excommunicated), myrtlejoy told the story of a transgender pioneer, the Narrator has taken off his (metaphorical) hats, and Adult-Onset Atheist lost a friend to intimate partner violence:

There are so many things that are happening in the world that some 63-year-old man bashing in the head of his middle aged girlfriend in an out-of-the way West Virginia home barely claws its way into local news. There is a family bereft of their flame-haired matriarch, and scores of people who have suddenly lost a good friend. Not just an acquaintance that is so cordial that they earn the title “friend”, but an honest-to-goodness good friend. She was a close friend of my younger sister.

And there were a whole lot of book reviews in Mormon land over the past few weeks! See these reviews of Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons, Days of Awe and Wonder, The Burning Point, Mother’s Milk, Illuminating Ladies, Tears We Cannot Stop, and Singing and Dancing to the Book of Mormon!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Extreme Parenting Edition!

By now you’ve probably heard the story about the Mormon family who dumped their son in Bryce Canyon when he didn’t want to serve a mission — and about the BYUI professor who got fired for posting pro-LGBT remarks on Facebook.

By Common Consent’s new publishing house looks like it’s off to a great start! I wish them well, and hope MAA Books‘ publishing arm will be ready to roll soon. Other books discussed lately include The Burning Point, The Handmaid’s Tale, Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons, Days of Awe and Wonder, The Burning Point, and ABC’s of Science and Mormonism!

There have been some great discussions lately on apologetics and conspiracies, on gerrymandering, on what the priesthood is anyway, on how the disaffected are silenced and how to counterbalance the problem, and on garmies and porn shoulders.

Sam Young continues to shine the light on the church’s despicable practice of having untrained middle-aged me grill adolescents about masturbation in closed-door interviews. And Grouchy brings us more terrible news from Trumpland — the only worse disaster is climate change.

In life journeys, Myrtlejoy has posted a lovely story about her connection with her pioneer ancestors. Froggie is exploring mystery through photos. Uomo Nuovo has been on an epic bike tour. Kevin Barney recounted becoming a liberal-minded Mormon. And Chiroscuro recounted an adventure with black-and-white thinking:

Do you think I’m being extreme? I wish I were! President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Each of us has to face the matter — either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” (May 2003 Ensign) And guess what? Church history is absolutely not the rosy whitewashed picture we were all taught.

Thanks for your patience, everyone! Sorry I’ve been doing such a terrible job of keeping up my posting here at MSP lately — the thing is that (in addition to extra stress from getting a new job) I have been desperate to finally finish drawing part 1 of my comic book. Well, I finally finished the last panel this morning — yay me!! I still have corrections to do, but I plan to be ready to print up some pre-prints in two weeks. This takes a lot of pressure off, and I’m hoping to have time to catch up on all my other projects in August.

BTW, another fun project I did IRL was to participate in an “Evening of Apostasy” panel hosted by the local freethinkers group here in Zurich. Here’s a write-up of it (warning: it’s in German).

I hope all your projects are going well too, and I hope to be back on track with my series on Mormon strategies next week — happy reading!