Sunday in Outer Blogness: Women’s Edition!

I hope everyone enjoyed International Women’s Day, a.k.a. “Why isn’t there an International Men’s Day? — oops there is!” Day. There was an international strike (A Day Without a Woman), and we just got around to celebrating here in Zürich this past weekend with another Women’s March.

The Women’s March in January was a profound experience for its LDS participants — just listen to this podcast about it. Also a great learning opportunity for the kids.

While we’re celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Relief Society, let’s not forget that it is a women’s organization that not only has no control over its own budget, but also doesn’t allow women to choose the leaders at any level or even hold a meeting without male supervision, as we’re reminded by the lady infants. And as cool as it is that there’s finally a book of 185 years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women, Geez, what kind of a baby step is that…? Maybe some are finally starting to get bored of white men and of the messages LDS women have been taught.

The biggest Mormon news shocker for me was that apparently LDS General Authority Dallin Oaks made some veiled criticisms of Trump in a recent devotional. (It’s about time, considering) The Zion Moat is still hanging around the news cycle a bit though, for laughs.

Remember that leaked document with that graphic about things leading people to leave the church? Well if you saw it and were wondering (like me!) “Who is Robert Norman?” your answer is here! Also Sam Young found an additional group of enemies of the church that the graphic somehow missed. Also Jack Naneek posted a new funny version.

In scripture study, Alex has just gotten to some really racist parts of the Book of Mormon.

In life journeys Joseph Broom has recounted more scenes from his gay adolescence and from his mission — and he’s not the only one sharing mission memories. Craig is saying goodbye to a friend, and the policy that Mormon funerals need to be about the atonement has traumatized some mourners, as recounted by the Infants.

In books, Dani Addante reviewed The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy, Lalove Foster reviewed Hearts of the Fathers, Greg Kofford Books has been publishing publishing a series of nineteenth-century novels with Mormon villains, and Alex posted a short story!

In not-Mormon-related, Dad’s Primal Scream posted about some favorite shows and I posted the last two of my puppet shows from when I was in college.

And now for some fun! Time for some memes! Plus those wacky Utah baby names! And Mormon deepities! And it turns out that the chicken dance has a sinister back-story

Folks, sorry I skipped last week and got this one out a day late! (Did anyone notice?) I’ve been thinking of writing a series on my analysis of the CoJCoL-dS and its strategies — but since I have limited free time, I might do that every other week while doing SiOB on the alternate weeks. We’ll see!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Finally something Mormon edition!

Last year it seemed like there was a new LDS-related scandal or news item almost every week, but it looks like “the Mormon Moment” is starting to fizzle. It seems the CoJCoL-dS can’t compete with the level of irrational/wacky/terrifying that’s coming out of the White House these days! But this past week, the CoJCoL-dS managed to swim up to the surface of the swamp with a handful of news items!

Thanks to MormonLeaks we got a view of the church leaders’ thoughts in the form of a powerpoint including an infographic on why people leave the CoJCoL-dS! Since it mentioned John Dehlin by name, he did a podcast explaining the whole thing in gory detail, in case you’re curious:

The most amusing part for me was when Dave resurrected his Mormon Inquiry blog to make the following remark:

That’s actually a pretty good list. While the graphic has prompted the usual griping from online LDS commentators, it is actually reassuring to know that LDS leaders are at least aware of the broad spectrum of challenges presently facing the Church and its membership. I wish there were a second graphic displaying a realistic action plan for each subcategory.

A realistic action plan for each subcategory?! Lolz. The plan for every subcategory is the same as it has always been: just tell the complainers/leavers that they’re unfaithful since (as far as the CoJCoL-dS is concerned) it’s a priori impossible that the members might have legitimate criticisms that the organization should listen to.

And there was this other kerfluffle in which a former Young Women’s general president gave a fireside with some questionable remarks about the women’s march:

“We were in a cab, and as I watched those women marching and yelling, and should I say, behaving anything but ladylike and using language that was very unbefitting of daughters of God,” Sister Dalton said. “As I watched all of that take place, my heart just sunk and I thought to myself, ‘What would happen if all those women were marching and calling to the world for a return to virtue?’”

Which drew some reactions:

Michelle Obama stood up for virtue. Beck stood up for sexual assault. So did Robert C. Oaks, a former member of the quorum of the Seventy who was a speaker at the rally. But as far as we know, Dalton didn’t have a problem with Julie Beck. Perhaps because she was ladylike as she supported violence against women?

And:

That she was offended by the language they were using, as if that were more important than their vocal refusal to countenance a president who has clearly engaged in other behaviors that I’m sure Sister Dalton would censure, like boasting that he could “grab” any woman he wanted “by the pussy.”

Somehow, it’s unfeminine and wrong for women to protest that, in fact, their pussies are not Trump’s for the grabbing. And to match his profanity in getting their message across.

Then there was anther mini-story Utah decided to further protect minors from seeing alcohol by adding the new “Zion moat” to its existing “Zion curtain” laws.

In personal stories, a gay dude unfortunately felt pressured to find a wife:

As soon as the door shut I started running to my car. As I ran I said to myself out loud, “What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?” I sat in my car and felt like garbage. I felt like I had just lied to her. That I had expressed something that I didn’t really feel. When I got home I told my roommates I had kissed her and they were all excited and I feigned excitement as well. The next day I was back at Emma’s house talking to her roommates before she got home. They told me that they had heard all about the kiss and how magical it was from Emma. They were so giddy about it, but the thought that kept running through my brain was, “She and I did not experience the same thing.”

In fun, I found a new Mormon satire site you might want to check out — here’s a sample: Newly Engaged Couple Feels Need to Teach Remaining YSAs About Marriage. Also Knotty posted some fun stuff about mishies and trolls.

And let’s close with some lovely pictures of the historic Cottonwood Paper Mill. Here’s to surviving another week!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Personal stories edition!

Here’s a charming little story of making a connection across cultural boundaries:

A moment later it spoke back in Chinese. His eyes widened. I showed him the button to press on my phone. He spoke into it, and a moment later it said “Yes, I am sad.”

“Why are you sad?” I asked. My phone translated.

“I lost my gloves during lunch,” my phone said aloud after he spoke to it.

Angela C revisited her mission, which brought back memories:

So in deciding to go on a mission, I felt like my identity was unsuitable anyway. I needed to be silent and milquetoast if I couldn’t be that pastel-wearing smile machine that seemed to be the desired stereotype. Since I was mostly pretend-dour in the MTC, my district didn’t really like me. They thought I was a killjoy (me! a killjoy!), and they would hum the Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch theme whenever I came in the room. My companion was cool and didn’t see me that way, but I silently let the elders think that, considering the loss of identity my necessary cross to bear.

Sam Young continues to vote his conscience:

I vote opposed in the expectation that this law will once again become the common law of church governance. I have made a temple covenant to obey the law of God. Consequently, I vote opposed in order to keep my sacred promise of obedience.

Sadly, in order to participate, you have to attend church which is boring and no fun — though you can liven it up with coloring books and comic books!

If you’re wondering whether you’re an exmo in Utah County, La has a helpful list for you. Jaxon Evans has created his own Christianity / Zen Buddhism fusion.

Does anybody understand how the forever families doctrine works? The Rational Faith bloggers have some thoughts on here-and-now marriage as well as on combining Mormonism with other identities like queer or Latino.

In scripture study, RT posted an analysis of Michael Austin’s application of Biblical canonical criticism techniques to the Book of Mormon.

Sorry I’m not feeling like posting about politics this week. I’m sure I’ll be back at it next week though — see you then!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Latter days edition!

As if our biosphere weren’t in enough trouble last year, having an incompetent clown waving nuclear threats around for all to use as they see fit isn’t a step in the right direction. Oh, and there’s a chunk of ice the size of Delaware about to slide into the ocean to melt. Can we Save Our Species? I hope so. Is it just me, or have others out there gone through all five stages of grief lately?

Well, that’s not a fun opening, I guess. Let’s get back to everyone’s favorite diversion! Has the CoJCoL-dS done anything interesting lately? Or sexy. Not really, but the Book of Mormon is always there for a few laughs.

The BYU rape discussion continues, as well as discussion of the church’s political neutrality, belief boundaries, commandments vs. social norms, and the wayback machine offers some surprises as well!

Here’s hoping things are better next week!!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: It can get worse edition!

Well, this has been one of the most horrifying weeks I have ever seen. Fortunately we have some lighter topics, like the Brodie Awards! You have until Thursday, February 2 to get your last votes in!

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s performance at the Trump inauguration got mixed reviews. Fortunately not all faithful Mormons are Trump voters — some were at the march and in the pews. Others advocate non-violence and support religious freedom for all. As Trump’s spokesperson treats us to a new euphemism for lying, Mormons are constructing their own moral leadership.

(Of course maybe the problem goes even higher.)

I imagine many of you have been having some interesting discussions on social media lately:

Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who skip the gym to make cupcakes for church activities. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are sleek and silky and frizz-free. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are passive aggressive.

Here’s another response to the Mormon women’s critique of the Women’s March:

You are calling your own sisters in this church rude, greedy, and vain. Do you HEAR yourselves? Many of you protested when your politically liberal sisters called you racist, sexist, and xenophobic for your Trump vote just a few months ago.

“We voted for his policies!” you cried, “it doesn’t mean we agree with EVERYTHING he said!”

“How can you call me these horrible things?!” you said. Well, now you know.

In Mormon news, the SCOTUS declined to hear the Kody Brown polygamy case. In Mormon culture two podcasts responded to a devotional about “worldly sex”, plus Zelph provided new evidence of Mormons’ love of queer culture! In life journeys, Monica is making peace with death. And in scripture study, we have an overview of the issues with the Book of Abraham, and some commentary on everyone’s favorite Bible fan-fic:

In the Bible, Jesus makes a vague reference to his ability to grant someone life until his Second Coming. In the Book of Mormon, he explicitly gives three people this supernatural longevity. That’s much awesomer than the Bible.

When the Three Nephites were cast into the earth (verse 20), “they did smite the earth with the word of God” and were “delivered out of the depths of the earth.” That makes them way awesomer than Joseph of Egypt.

The Three Nephites were thrice “cast into a furnace and received no harm” (verse 21). That makes them three times awesomer than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

But wait, there’s more! The Three Nephites were also, on two separate occasions, “cast into a den of wild beasts…and received no harm” (verse 22). This makes them each twice as awesome as Daniel.

That’s all for now — I wish you all a safe and pleasant week!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: We shall overcomb edition!

The voting for the Brodie Awards has begun!! Please go here to cast your votes. I know that there are quite a lot of nominations, but you have two weeks to vote — so I really hope you’ll take the opportunity to review these awesome nominations a few at a time, and vote for the ones you like best!! And check out this Mormon news year in review!

Mormon news was overshadowed this week by the reality of Trump getting sworn in as the new POTUS — and the overwhelming response from all over the world!! There are so many reasons to march:

I feel sad and afraid as I think about the future. What will happen to me and to people like me? I didn’t have anything life threatening, but what if I had? What if I do in the future? What if Todd does? What happens to the people who are “uninsurable” now?

And the work doesn’t stop there!

Of course there was a bit of a Mormon angle. After compromising their reputation by sending the MoTab choir to sing for Trump’s inaugural, the CoJCoL-dS was rewarded with the news that Trump’s pre-inaugural church service was given by a pastor who has called the CoJCoL-dS a cult. God I wish the church leadership would grow some self-respect and stop begging for a seat at the mean girls’ lunch table. It’s not going to happen. Let’s instead stand with our fellow minorities. Catch a clue!

Donald Trump, to me, is not someone that decent, God fearing, family loving, fiscally conservative people ought to be backing. To me, it doesn’t make any sense. Here’s a man dripping with riches, living in a fucking gold tower in New York City. Yes, he’s filthy rich, and Republicans like that. But did he get that way by being fiscally conservative? No.

Fortunately my feed is full of Mormons who have caught the clue:

And so, no thanks. Trump is not worthy of our respect in any way. I don’t support him and won’t support him. A transition of power to someone like him is cause for mourning, because it appears that the electors of this nation have chosen evil over good. I support those exercising their rights to demonstrate against Trump. I view all those performing for Trump as having tainted themselves and their reputations. In the case of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Piano Guys, the pain is particularly acute. Mormonism is small. Our reputations are linked in the eyes of the public. Now, Mormons have vocally and disproportionately identified their brand with Donald Trump. But I won’t normalize him or respect him until he demonstrates himself as worthy of respect. I don’t respect offices. And neither should you.

In other Mormon News, BYU is still working on the rape problem, and it’s a bit of a bumpy ride — just have a look at this open letter. Also, what’s up with those mountain letters…?

In life journeys, check out this new podcast! Also, Gina’s faith has irreversibly changed, GenX Gillian is healing, and Julie de Azevedo Hanks listed things to say and things not to say to a loved one who is leaving the church.

And let’s close with a poem, an allegory, and a tale of magic and the Eagle Forum. Good luck in the coming week, not to mention the coming few years…

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Money money money edition!!

In case you missed it, Jeremy Runnells just won X-Mormon of the Year 2016, and the nominations for the Brodie Awards will continue until Thursday, January 19 — so get your final nominations in here! (Also note the Wheat & Tares blog is also collecting nominations for their yearly awards.)

Thanks to some new revelations on Mormon Leaks, we now know a little more about how modest those modest stipends for the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS really are (spoiler: not very). Naturally this led to some discussion over Mormonism’s claims of not having a paid ministry and a bit of anger a the church for telling poor people to pay tithing before necessities like rent and food. The church countered by claiming the salaries don’t come from tithing funds, whatever that is supposed to mean.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is still set on its shameful course, and the weak excuses aren’t fooling the international members.

Remember when M. Russell Ballard asked “If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do?” Well, this new website gives you the opportunity to tell him! Check out this response from Dad’s Primal Scream. He also had some good news to report — a big mistake was averted.

In other life journeys, Monica is navigating divorce after kids, iGenIvy set a goal to enjoy the journey, and Paul Duane is out drinking with his Mormon family:

Many years ago, my own falling away became known to the family. This was ushered in one Christmas night as we were wrapping up a family party. My parents went home, my daughters returned to their mother’s house, leaving just the three of us kids together. Wine emerged from Camille’s cupboard. Glasses were poured, glasses were raised and we partook of the goodness of the grape together for the first time. Something shifted in a way that’s difficult to account for – it may suffice to say that we found ourselves three grown adults with things in common that only we could have. It’s like some kind of pretense disappeared and left us honest. I found new friendship in my brother and sister. From that day forward, I’ve enjoyed their companionship in a way that starts to give ironic legitimacy to the promises of the church.

In Mormon culture, Utah made international news by distributing sexist dating tips as part of an assignment in a public school.

In church history, Mithryn analysed the origins of the LDS.org Book of Abraham essay. In scripture study, Mormonism has some interesting theology:

Jesus mentions in verse 30 that no one from the generation he’s addressing will be “lost.” But he mourns the fourth generation in verse 32, because they will be “led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition.”

But if Jesus knows this, why didn’t he design his world and his generations in such a way that those people wouldn’t be led away? And if he couldn’t because doing so would defeat free agency, then are we really just souls in a vast generational lottery? If I’d been lucky enough to have been born in the second Nephite generation following Christ’s appearance, I’d never have turned apostate?

And now that Jesus has been publicly recorded saying that the fourth generation will be wicked, it has to happen, right? Because he can’t be wrong. But these people are supposed to be able to make their own choices. But isn’t it technically predetermined now because Jesus says he already knows what they’re going to do?

Speaking of theology, how about this theology of gay marriage within Mormonism:

So, if most people won’t be exalted, and heterosexual marriage is required only for exaltation, what’s wrong with gay marriage? Even if you accept the idea that gay people can’t be exalted, what’s wrong with people deciding they’re fine with being a ministering angel? It’s not that crazy of an aspiration – as far as I can tell, this is the goal of most Christians, right?

And have you gotten a look at the news lately? If you’re having trouble keeping your spirits up these days, at least we have the CoJCoL-dS to distract us from the really bad news out there! 😀

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Onward into 2017 edition!

We are smack dab in the middle of awards season here at Main Street Plaza! If you have not yet voted for X-Mormon of the year 2016, this week is your last chance — do it here! Also, I’ve just cleaned up the categories and added my own nominations for the Brodie Awards here. You have another week or two to add your nominations — to give a little extra boost of recognition for the best LDS-interest content published or posted in 2016!!

Also note that Wheat & Tares have started their parallel (perhaps slightly-more-faithful-leaning) awards and Ziff has posted his yearly roundup of funny Bloggernacle comments!

So 2017 has begun, for better or for worse, and with it come new reasons to doubt! Also, Dan Pearce has done a new batch of wrong numbers, Joseph Broom is continuing his human journey, a Utah artist has done a series of portraits of Joseph Smith’s wives, and Dad’s Primal Scream described a scary new development in his family:

Rumor has it that one of the step-sisters is about to get married to her fiance who is gay. Well, he was once gay, or once did something slightly gay, or only has a tiny ounce of gay in him at the moment, or he’s been cured.

All I really know is that my kids have heard the whispering of his cured homosexuality and that the marriage is proceeding. My ex-wife who was so greatly hurt in our divorce and my subsequent coming out is standing on the sidelines while her step-daughter makes the same horrible mistake.

In Mormon culture, here’s a piece on unfundamentalist parenting, the non-issue of explaining to kids about transgender people, and the echoing effects of polygamy:

If I’m raw and honest, polygamy has ruined marriage and motherhood for me. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I’m cut out for the kind of plan of happiness god has for his daughters. If I’m honest, I finally understand why I always felt enslaved to the children I wasn’t ever sure I wanted but was expected to be the only purpose of my life. I finally get it though. I get why I feel pressured to be okay with a marriage of friendship instead of romance. I get why I feel “needy” wanting my husband’s attention. Why my goals and dreams are expected to take a back seat to his career. Why I felt so guilty whenever I wanted to say no. Why my body has never belonged to me and I’m supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to sacrifice.

A Mormon blogger warned others about “The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism” — which prompted some responses.

In church-related discussions, we have an analysis of the content of the CoJCoL-dS’s tweets, the church’s Republican problem, the Chad Hardy defense, learning wrong things from the church about women and others, and the conflict between “milk before meat” and honesty:

Now it is possible that Joseph and others lied about polygamy from the pulpit because they felt they had some higher moral principle in mind when they lied. Unfortunately the only obvious candidates to me are to gain more converts (dishonestly by fraud, basically) or to save their own collective asses from the consequences of their actions, neither of which strikes me as a particularly noble moral principle to be prioritizing above honesty.

In history, here’s a list of sacred items that the CoJCoL-dS has lost and some research on Fanny Alger.

In fun, myinlawsaremormon just discovered Mark Twain’s thoughts on the Book of Mormon, and Janet Chamberlin released her debut album! (satire)

And, since we can’t really count on God to save us from our current predicament, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. Even if it’s hard, we can do it.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Good Riddance 2016 Edition!

I’d be even happier to see 2016 gone if it weren’t for the fact that the main problems of 2016 are ones that will be blossoming catastrophically in 2017… :(

Adult Onset Atheist described the problem in a nutshell:

One potential lead indicator, that has a lot of scientists worrying a lot, is the increase of atmospheric Methane. Rising temperatures have begun to cause the release of what could be immense amounts of methane in the frozen, or more precisely previously frozen, north. In Siberia escaping Methane has blown giant plugs of permafrost out of the ground, and left strange craters that look a lot like what I imagine the result of some huge alien space laser blast to look like. The reason Methane release is such a scary lead indicator has less to do with alien invasion, and a lot to do with the fact that it is many times as effective a greenhouse gas as Carbon Dioxide, and we have no real control over the rate it is being released. Some estimates have the climate impact of the rate of increase of Methane concentration in the atmosphere equaling the impact of the current increase in Carbon Dioxide; if Methane release rates continue to increase it could become the major driver of future temperature increases.

I guess it’s time to get to work.

At least one Mo-Tab member has quit rather than sing for Trump. I would hope they would consider dissenting voices, but I guess they know what audience they’re trying to attract. As Amy Allebest has said:

These arguments might have been valid in the past, but they ignore the fact that this president-elect’s behavior is utterly without precedent in US history.

On the positive side? Set good goals. Idaho experienced one Christmas miracle. The Exponent offered a list of favorite female-led podcasts.

And please keep in mind that we’re in the middle awards season here at MSP! It’s time to make a list of your favorite Mo-related books/posts/songs/podcasts/etc. of 2016 and nominate them here!!! Voting has begun for X-Mormon of the Year (vote here). On a related note, Ryan McKnight was just interviewed on the Friendly Atheist Podcast.

It’s also the season of yearly reviews, in case anyone actually wants to review 2016…

For this past week, in responses to apologetics we have the anti-Nibley challenge, some really obvious bad writing, and an improved message for women. The CoJCoL-dS is making baby steps towards allowing people to discuss doctrinal meat in church.

In personal stories, Laura Root recounted being an in-love Mormon Lesbian, Steve Otteson described his connection with Germany, Monica shared her hall of infamy, and Gen-X Gillain recounted sexual shaming:

Judging by current media America is pretty clear on LDS morals, and sure, it’s great fodder for comedy … But to a teenager battling with on-setting hormones? Not so funny. It’s a desperate feeling to have your body telling you one thing and your adults telling you another—we’ve all been there to some extent, right?! Okay, my vice, but there are a lot of Mormon teens struggling, right now, with the intense instincts built into their bodies.

Here’s hoping things turn around in 2017!!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Christmas Edition!

Wow, just when you thought the CoJCoL-dS didn’t have a shred of integrity left to sell, they’re sending the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to perform for Trump’s inauguration. The same Trump that hasn’t even taken office yet in is already putting us all in an incomprehensible level of danger from both war and accelerating climate change. If you’d like to tell the church what a mistake they’re making, you can sign the petition here.

The one ray of hope I see in the current US situation is how many people are organizing to resist and how openly. If you’re thinking of joining the resistance, one good suggestion is to form a small group with local friends — that will make it easier to cut through fake news and coordinate on what actions to take. And consider participating in the march.

Now for an update on the awards!! It looks like the nominations for X-Mormon of the Year are wrapping up. If you have any last nominations, please add them here. My plan is to open the Brodie Awards nominations on Tuesday and to start the voting for X-Mormon of the Year on Thursday.

And it’s Christmas! There have been tales of merriment and even tragedy is a part of the magic.

The Infants did an entertaining reading of the CoJCoL-dS’s “Light the World” advent program; in church history, we have a tale of moral choices; in other church discussions, we have 10 things the church could cut down on; and in books, we haveanother review of “The Garden of Enid”.

Happy Holidays to all, and let’s hope 2017 will be better!!