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: The Youth of Zion Edition!

Perhaps you’ve heard the news: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has begun excommunication proceedings against Sam Young, with the following charges:

  1. Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.
  2. Organized more than one public “action” that expressed opposition to the Church or its leaders.

I guess it isn’t that much of a surprise — although it is a bit of a disappointment. Once again the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS have demonstrated that their own authority, respect, and prestige pass above all else. Rather than revisit this terrible, abusive policy of arranging sexually-charged interviews with minors, they shoot the messenger because he embarrasses them. Once again the leaders try to solve the problem by getting the critic to shut up — because from their perspective the only real problem is the damage to the church’s image. As I said in my Sunstone panel on criticism:

I argue that shielding the CoJCoL-dS from all criticism — including criticism from strongly interested insiders — does more harm that allowing criticism to be aired and discussed.

Here’s Sam Young’s response letter, and here’s a list of related vigils and news items.

The other recent news story out of Mormondom is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is going to finally completely shed the nickname “Mormon”. It looks like this will be one of Russel M. Nelson’s signature issues as president — good thing he has some really important issues regarding the church’s image to worry about!

It seems like they’ve been doing this bizarre dance of embracing and rejecting the term “Mormon” my whole life — will it stick this time?

Well, let’s look at the style guide from the now-ironically-named “Mormon Newsroom.” They don’t want people using the terms “LDS Church” or “Mormon Church” anymore — now when you don’t want to type out the entirety of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” you are supposed to shorten it to “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ.” Or a new one that combines cryptic with unruly: the “restored Church of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, anything that is clear, concise, and would actually help a lay person to know who you’re talking about is verboten. That’s a brilliant plan — good thing the prophets, seers, and revelators have the hotline to God to get such great ideas. Bonus points for all of the persecution that the Latter-day-Saints-formerly-known-as-Mormons get to feel when nobody goes along with this nonsensical request.

See also Tyler Scott’s 10 problems with the name change and Mormon History Guy’s analysis comparing the use of the term Mormon with (not) referring to the colonized by their indigenous names.

At least they stopped insisting that people shouldn’t use the term “Mormon” for other offshoots of the same religious tradition, which is nice, though they do request that whenever people talk about modern polygamist groups they specifically mention that the groups are not affiliated with the CoJCoL-dS — good luck with that one.

Will someone stick a fork in this church? I think it’s done.

I’m sorry to be flippant about it — it’s sad for me to see this organization that has been such a big part of my life so fully embracing villainy. Lately, while thinking about Sam Young’s situation, the following song from my youth bubbled up and lodged itself in my brain:

Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!

True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.

I found I still have an emotional connection with this song (among others) after all these years. And in retrospect, it upsets me a bit to have been brought up on this. It starts with defending truth and right — which merits universal agreement — but then associates that noble goal with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t necessarily jibe with truth and right.

First, “the enemy assaileth?” — real-world problems are more complex than finding the bad guy and fighting him. This polarizing view is what leads the church to think they’re doing right by fighting Sam Young rather than bringing him into a real discussion. Fighting “the enemy” is just so much easier than introspection.

Then there’s the part about being true to the faith — which, in this case, can be interpreted as the organization or faith community. This is basically saying that challenging the church means being disloyal to your parents and to all those martyrs.

And being completely true “to God’s command”…? That is a terrible idea. Because acts that are good don’t need God to command them. They are justified by their good effects. “God’s command” only gets trotted out to justify things that can’t be justified on their own merits — often because those things are bad, like the closed-door adult/child interview policy.

So, yeah, I’m not happy to have an emotional connection with singing the praises of blind loyalty as being good and right — connecting that with being a part of my family and of the community of my youth. And I’m not the only one — just read this recent tale of how children are taught.

To you, Sam Young, and so many others: My you continue to defend truth and right by challenging all that other baggage.

To wrap up the last couple of items, the CoJCoL-dS is apparently working to prevent legalization of medical cannabis because of course they are. And check out this awesome review of Donna Banta’s novel Mormon Erotica!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outerblogness: Moral Outrage Edition!!

In a previous post here on MSP, Jerry Argetsinger poses the question, “Where is the official moral outrage?” He is referring to the subdued statement issued by LDS Church leaders about the family separations at the border, a seemingly anti-family response that eventually leads him to conclude:

Suddenly it hit me! The Mormon Church had already weighed in on the morality of the current immigration issue. On November 5, 2015, the LDS Church announced an unprecedented New Policy in the wake of the nation-wide legalization of Gay Marriage, or other similar arrangement. Such action is now defined as apostocy and requires a Disciplinary Council that would likely result in the excommunication of such members. But wait! That’s not all! The children of gay marriages are now denied all church ordinances: as babies they cannot be blessed, at age 8 they cannot be baptized, at age 12 male children cannot be ordained to the priesthood, as young adults they cannot serve missions for the church. These children may be considered for baptism when they legally come of age and renounce their parents’ gay union. Is this not ripping children from their parents?

While LDS leaders may be slow to express their anger, there’s plenty of outrage in Outerblogness this month. Mr. Hackman explains the lack of empathy over the border crisis, as well as the importance of religious freedom. Meanwhile, Geoff B. takes a stab at understanding Trump. Sam Young continues his activism to protect the children, including a 17 year-old girl who writes:

And let me tell you, Sam, nothing feels better than knowing that a printed hard copy of my story is in the hands of the apostles, the people who allowed this to happen and the people who can prevent it from happening again.

Amber argues that environmentalism is a Christian issue, and gender-specific pronouns in the children’s songbook inspire more protest. Maggie continues to collect signatures for the appeal of lenient polygamy sentences, while Happy Hubby ponders whether petitions are even effective. Tirza regrets that LDS women and girls are objectified, Knotty shares her “rage quit” experience, and Lisa discusses the negative impact of polygamy culture and temple rites:

Married (sealed) LDS women too often live in marriages in which submission is the ultimate sign of godliness. In the temple ceremony, men covenant to obey God, but women covenant to obey their husband as he obeys God. This isn’t “the usual” religious patriarchy. Typical Christian patriarchy may chain women to outdated notions, but those chains can be broken without the risk of her damnation.

In other news, Samantha over on Zelph on the Shelf offers tips on leaving Mormonism. “The Kingdom of God” series concludes on Pure Mormonism, and there is a thoughtful post about boundaries on Exponent II. Kevin Barney wonders if he could ever walk away from Mormonism, Bishop Bill suggests cultural Mormons might use religion like a placebo, and Fashion muses on how to avoid conforming to the “Mormon mold:”

What I understand now is that the expectation to fit any sort of “Mormon mold” is self-imposed. I can decide if I want to play the game of trying to live up to some invented social expectation or not. Yes, there might be throngs of women around me with white, subway-tile backsplashes, growing at-home businesses, and taking family pics each week. And I can be happy for their pursuits. But the only thing that I am required to offer is my faith and obedience to God. I was never meant to be like any particular Mormon woman. Each has their role to fulfil and I have mine. We all make up the Body of Christ.

As for chanson, she’s taking a break from SiOB this Sunday to work on her mid-year goals which include stoking the fires here on MSP – new and returning authors welcome!! – working on her comic book, and (shameless self-promotion) publicizing our joint venture, Mormon Alumni Association Books.

Happy Reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Hoax edition!!

OK — it was a few weeks ago now — but I think the most interesting recent bit of Mormon news was the hoax apology from the CoJCoL-dS (apologizing for the CoJCoL-dS’s history of racism), actually written by Jonathan Streeter.

The go-to analysis of it is by Zandra Vranes of Sistas in Zion — her reaction is powerful and moving. I won’t try to analyze it myself (since others have analyzed it well), but I’ll say I think it was a huge mistake when Streeter decided to trick people into thinking the apology was real. As the Infants pointed out, it’s very good as satire — but now it would be insensitive to discuss its merits as satire after all the damage that was done. At least Streeter offered a real apology.

There have been some really amazing transition stories recently, such as Tanner’s exit story, and Leah Elliott’s piece “In the Language of My Former People”, which I really liked — I related with it so well that I’m thinking of writing my own commentary on it.

Bishop Bill’s experience had a cool twist:

Do you remember the very first item about the church that you had to “put on the shelf”? The first thing you learned that didn’t have a good answer, and caused you some cognitive dissonance, so you just put it away to think about another day?

I remember mine, because it was already literally on a shelf

Alex had a pleasant discussion with his believing sister:

She didn’t understand how, when the armies of Coriantumr and Shiz were destroying each other, nobody on either side loved their families enough to flee from the violence. She introduced the absurdity of Ether into the conversation, not me. It was a fruitful debate and I think I did a decent job of demonstrating that my disgust for church doctrines is an entirely separate issue to how I feel about the average Mormon, so she was curious rather than offended.

Then there’s this inspiring tale from Lynette:

Over the years, I’d developed strong defenses to cope with things like polygamy and general sexism and and anti-gay sentiments and dubious historical claims and so on and so forth. But I didn’t have any kind of defense against the experience of finding happiness somewhere else.

Other Zelophehads Daughters posted some fascinating statistics on LDS birth rates and on who likes the 15 leaders of the CoJCoL-dS (on Facebook).

In other discussion topics, Andrew Hackman answered the question: “Why do you not address liberal belief? Why do you only go after ‘the easy targets'”? — and he recounted some experiences with Evangelical services. No Man Knows My Herstory podcast discussed LGBTQ Mormons in history. BCC wrote some criticisms of using religion to justify separating children from their parents. Zelph on the Shelf covered Joseph Smith’s ability to translate ancient records such as the Kinderhook Plates and the Book of Abraham. Steve Wells explained the Masterpiece Cakeshop and Leviticus 20:13, and Knotty discussed the cake case as well.

Also, there are some interesting new books coming out: A Peculiar Transition: 6 Steps to Turn Mormon Faith Crisis into Spiritual Healing and Growth, by Wendi Jade Jensen, and Johnny Townsend’s new book The Moat Around Zion!!

Happy reading!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Podcasts edition!

There are so many amazing LDS-interest podcasts these days — I’m really looking forward to the day I can cut back my hours and listen to them all! This morning I took the time to listen to a couple of them: Radio Free Mormon has been doing a cloak-and-dagger series about trying to get access to the Joseph Bishop BYU police report — I can’t wait to hear how it ends! And the No Man Knows my Herstory podcast has some excellent discussion of the despicable concept of “non-consensual immorality” — with some analysis of why the CoJCoL-dS is incapable of stating that rape is actually worse than consensual premarital sex (or even stating that the victim of a sexual assault isn’t guilty).

Additionally the Mormon Happy Hour Podcast is celebrating the lifting of the priesthood/temple ban with some discussion of Mormon Sex Myths. And the Infants on Thrones are doing a very cool listener essay series. I’d like to submit one myself as soon as I have two minutes to rub together, but I guess it will be for next year’s contest. Laura Root has been doing a series of “Ask a Mormon Lesbian” podcasts. And one of our local Brodie-winning bloggers did a Mormon Stories interview!

Another site you might want to check out is Stuff You Missed in Sunday School — a collection of stuff that gets taught at church, but that perhaps the CoJCoL-dS might not want outsiders noticing too much. It turns out that Sacrament Meeting can be quite a mixed bag!

I guess the biggest Mo-news we’ve had lately is the CoJCoL-dS cutting ties with the Boy Scouts. Looks like people aren’t too sad about it.

MormonHistoryGuy made a very good point about dismissing Brigham Young’s racism as “everybody was doing it back then” — plus some more background on the priesthood/temple ban. And Zo-ma-rah shared some great insights on the connection between culture and doctrine.

Sam Young and the Protect the Children movement ask you to mark your calendars for action on National Children’s Day, June 10th. And as a fellow religious minority, I hop Mormons can follow this recommendation to stand with Muslims as they fight against bigotry.

Knotty has some interesting commentary on Mormon parenting:

Now… let’s ponder this for just a minute. I can understand delaying entrance into school for developmental reasons. Since these young people are triplets, it’s possible that they were small and/or immature for their ages. However, the article states that their parents specifically decided not to start their children in school at the usual age because they knew, even when the boys were young children, that they absolutely would be going on missions.

In books, check out this Kirkus Review of Johnny Townsend’s book “The Last Days Linger.”

Looks like it’s Mothers’ Day, and the angst has already begun! Good luck to you all, and happy reading!

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: 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!