You’re the star of your adventure now, Lolly Weed!

For me, giving my whole heart to Josh while knowing that he did not love me the way a man loves a woman has always been devastating. We were best friends, but he never desired me, he never adored me, he never longed for me.

[…]

No matter how much I knew “why” he couldn’t respond to me in the ways a lover responds to a partner, it wears a person down, as if you’re not “good enough” to be loved “in that way.” And what I didn’t realize is that as human beings, we actually need to feel loved in that way with our partners.

This deficit started to mess with my self-esteem. […] No matter how clear I was on the technicalities of this reality, it was impossible not to internalize his complete lack of attraction toward me. Subconsciously, it was a constant message. You aren’t attractive. You aren’t wanted. You aren’t beautiful. You aren’t a good enough woman.

It was making me unhealthy. I gained a lot of weight. My self-concept was diminishing over time.

That’s Lolly Weed, writing a segment in Josh Weed’s heartfelt piece describing the end of their high-profile mixed-orientation marriage.

Early in the piece, Josh recounted the “three currents” that led to the demise of their marriage:

First: Love for the LGBTQ population

Second: Love of self as a gay person

Now, if you have read the above-linked piece, and if you’re like me, you probably anticipated #3:

Third: The realization that this marriage is slowly crushing Lolly’s soul, and that her happiness also matters.

But, if (like me!) you guessed that, then (like me!) you guessed wrong!!

Nope, it was:

Third: the death of [Josh’s] mom.

Ummm, Okaaaaaay… So your realization that the marriage was hurting Lolly (as described above) didn’t even come in fourth or something…?

The other disturbing bit is the following, (again quoting Lolly):

Almost everyone has said to me, with an air of protective emphasis, “Oh, but Lolly, you deserve to be loved that way! You will find someone else who can love you like that. You deserve to love and be loved in that way!” And I agree with them. The thing that I find interesting is that these are all straight people looking at me, another straight person, and being able to see the injustice of me not experiencing true love.

[…]

I mean, isn’t the same true for LGBT people? Shouldn’t we feel the exact same intuitive injustice at the thought of them deserving to be “loved like that”?

Yes, of course we should (and many do). But here’s the problem: This is a personal piece about your feelings about your marriage. Your marriage contains exactly zero (0) gay people who have never been “loved like that.” Josh obviously faced a number of profound challenges in your marriage, but failure to be the object of true romantic love isn’t one of them.

Lolly, if you are reading this, I find it disheartening that — the one part of this story that’s about you — you can’t just let it be about you. You have to immediately pivot to concern about other people’s needs. It’s as if you’ve been profoundly conditioned to believe that your needs always have to take a backseat to everyone else’s needs; that you think you fundamentally don’t matter.

Lolly, I hope you find the love you deserve. You are probably well aware that unfortunately — as a Mormon single mom — your chances of finding your new soul-mate are a lot lower than Josh’s. But you know what? Even if you never find true love, you’re still better off getting out of the situation you described: the marriage that is strangling your spirit.

Josh’s whole post describes a path of learning a truly beautiful love and empathy for LGBTQIA people. You both have developed a great understanding of the beauty and humanity of queer folks. Which is why the treatment of Lolly’s experience in the piece is so jarring.

Well, Lolly — you’re not the co-star of Josh’s adventure anymore. You’re the star of your own adventure now. Let me help you get started:

Mormon Erotica: Banta’s Third Book Delivers Heart and Humor

I’ve been a Donna Banta fan since 2010, when I discovered her blog “Ward Gossip.” Oh my god! This woman is The Onion of Mormonism, I thought, as I instantly recognized Banta’s fictional ward as a mostly-accurate reflection of my own Mormon experience, with just the right amount of exaggeration in just the right places to make the truth very apparent (and funny!).

In her latest book, Mormon Erotica, Banta’s penchant for satire is masterfully woven into a quirky and loveable cast of Mormon characters, who run the range of orthodoxy from the ultra-faithful to those who have left the Church. Yet, even the most outlandish characters are only slight exaggerations of most of the rank-and-file faithful, and are representative of enough actual Mormons that I’ve known to not feel like caricatures.

51WPpyFWCTL

The story follows Jim Maxwell, an affable forty-something divorced dad living in California’s Bay Area, as he navigates parenting, friendship and family, his love life, and his faith as a Mormon who has concluded that he believes in the Gospel, but is agnostic about marriage. Much to his sister Kellie’s dismay, Jim spends more time “[sitting] around Starbucks drinking hot chocolate with lesbians” than he does hunting for a faithful Mormon wife. (Kellie has some of the most deliciously hilarious lines of dialogue in the book, one of my favorites being her lament, “You can’t find a decent woman at Starbucks.”)

Everything changes for Jim when he bumps into an old college flame at a wedding reception. Sadie Gordon has left the Church and makes her living writing PG-13ish fiction, deemed porn by Jim’s bishop and his neurotic ex-wife. Though the interim years have led Jim and Sadie to different conclusions about the Church, they discover that the flame they had for each other in college is still burning. But for love to win the day, Jim and Sadie must navigate their differences, as well as weathering the opinions, and intrusions, of family and friends, all while Jim does his best show up as a father for a whip-smart teenage daughter with some secrets of her own.

I deeply appreciated that every character was respected, and represented as a whole and multi-faceted human being. Banta avoids the Mormon tendency to view issues and people as black or white, and navigates all the messy shades in between with compassion and humor.

Mormon Erotica is a quick read. It is funny, and the container of humor tempers some deeply poignant reflections on a universally human dilemma that is more important now than ever: How do we live with, and love, all of the people in our lives through the full range of both our commonalities and our differences?

 

Leah Elliott is a writer, poet, teacher, and journeyer living in North Carolina. You can find poetry, social media links and other good stuff at her website.

Testing 1,2

We are unfortunately experiencing some server issues. Our server provider is doing some sort of critical maintenance that is supposed to not interrupt service too much, but… Well, thanks for your patience…

Congratulations to X-Mormon of the Year 2017: Savannah!!

When Savannah came out as gay while bearing her testimony, the bishop cut her microphone and told her to sit down — and the video went viral.

Savannah has been an inspiration to many people, she made an appearance at Love Loud, and she even won the popular vote for Utahn of the year! And now she’s the William Law X-Mormon of the Year for 2017 — Congratulations, Savannah!!

p.s. The nominations for the Brodie Awards are still open for another week, and check out this first review of the first book published by Mormon Alumni Association Books!

Mormon Erotica, Mormon Romance

Mormon Erotica, the new novel from Donna Banta, is a joyous page-turner that, despite the title, is far more concerned with love and romance than sex. While the book contains plenty of reflection on Mormon attitudes toward sex and marriage, the action depicted is strictly PG. As with so many romance novels, the suspense lies not in whether it will end with its hero and heroine poised to live happily ever after, but what sorts of personal discoveries and growth will make them worthy of that reward. I was always curious about and frequently surprised by the routes the characters forged to true love.

51WPpyFWCTL

If you don’t like romance novels, there’s a chance you won’t like Mormon Erotica. To me, this post-Mormon twist on the romance novel is a breath of fresh air, but then, I have a fondness for romance novels, having read dozens if not hundreds of them, from cheap formulaic paperbacks I checked out from the public library when I was in junior high to great classics of English literature like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. For that matter, as a teen I even read a few Mormon romance novels, such as those by Jack Weyland. I think Mormon courtship and marriage make great material for narrative, and I’m glad writers are tackling it in fiction for an audience beyond active Latter-day Saints. It’s especially nice to read a novel that takes you on a good-natured romp through the subject.

One of the best elements of Mormon Erotica is the main character, Jim, who is devout but not fanatical. Jim’s first marriage was disastrous and brief—but his ex-wife still plans to be married to him for time and all eternity, since they didn’t get a temple divorce to go with the civil one. Jim is comfortable in his role as a single dad too lazy and jaded to attempt another marriage—until he sees an old college girlfriend, Sadie Gordon, at a wedding reception. She’s hot, charming, and completely inactive, and she’s written a novel full of Mormons having sex. The title of Banta’s book refers to the way Sadie’s novel is characterized.

Less compelling are a couple of the supporting characters. Jim and Sadie each have a relative who seems like a caricature of the most awful Mormon you can imagine: small-minded, judgmental, and completely unable to understand boundaries. I’m certain there are Mormons like that, but they were so consistent and predictable that I was aghast at their actions without being surprised, a fact made all the more obvious given that Jim and Sadie did surprise me in interesting ways.

Occasional chapters are from the perspective of Jim’s teenage daughter, Julia. I don’t spend enough time around teenagers these days to know if Banta got twenty-first-century teen lingo and social interactions exactly right, but I thought she did a great job making the basic psychology of adolescence interesting for an audience of adults. Julia was so compelling that I’m now interested in reading The Girls from Fourth Ward, Banta’s murder mystery about four girls who hope to go to BYU.

The book is published under the imprint of the Mormon Alumni Association, and the cover art (which, you discover about halfway through the novel, makes particularly good sense) is by Chanson.

Gathering MORE nominations for the 2017 Brodie Awards!!

2017-Brodies-200px The voting for X-Mormon of the Year is underway you have until January 20th to get your vote in!!

As usual, we’re also doing the Brodie Awards — a fun little yearly activity intended to give some extra recognition and signal boost to the best LDS-interest content published/posted during the past year.

Unfortunately, this has been a bit of a slow year so far for the Brodie awards — in part because I haven’t had as much time to keep things lively here at MSP since taking my new job. I’m glad to see some people are still having fun with this and have started leaving their nominations!

Now I’m going to do a first-pass of organizing this year’s categories, adding some nominations of my own, and pointing out which categories need more nominations. Remember that each category needs a least three nominations to continue on to the voting and awards rounds. The nomination process will continue for two more weeks and then we will begin voting. Here we go!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best LDS-Church-Info Site

Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

  • u/invisibles_cubit
  • u/relevantlife
  • This category needs more nominations.

Best faithful-perspective Mormon Blog

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (General non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (Narrative non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best Poem

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Best Mormon-Themed Meme

Best Post Title

Funniest Humor Piece

Funniest Parody

Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory

Best From the Pulpit Sermon

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Exit Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best Activist Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best LDS Church Watch Piece

Best Response to Apologetics

Best LDS-Culture Piece

Best History Piece

Best Scripture Study Piece

Best Discussion on Parenting

Best Discussion on Orientation

Best Discussion on Gender

Best Discussion on Race

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion

Best short media presentation

Best Book Review

How to nominate: Just post your nominations as comment to this thread, but please include links to the works you nominate. If your nomination comment ends up in the spam filter, please email me (chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com) and I will fish it out. (Also note that if you post each nomination as a separate comment, they’re less likely to get flagged as spam.)

And don’t forget the nomination guidelines:

  • Please nominate as many people, books, blogs, sites, podcasts, songs, articles, images, etc. as you want. However, please do not nominate more than two individual works by any one author/artist.
  • You are encouraged to nominate your own works. No one knows better than you do which pieces were your best. No more than two, though.
  • Please nominate works that first appeared during 2017.
  • Please try to nominate people and works that have some connection with Mormonism (eg. either the work touches on Mormonism, or the author is a current or former Mormon and/or is an active participant in our community).
  • A category must have at least three nominations in order to be included in the voting and awards phase.
  • You may suggest your own categories — however please do it as early as possible in the nominations process, to give others plenty of time to add nominations in your proposed categories.
  • Any other proposed changes to the categories or to the guidelines are welcome — feel free to discuss it in the comments.
  • The nominations will be open until mid-January, 2018, depending on my schedule. I will finalize the dates and categories and add my own nominations a few days before the nominations close and voting begins.

Thanks for all of your nominations!!!

It’s time to vote for X-Mormon of the Year 2017!!!

X-Mormon-2017-300x223 It’s poll time for William Law X-Mormon of the Year! Before you vote, though, please consider nominating your favorite bloggers, podcasters, etc. for this year’s Brodie Awards! Anyone can nominate.

Here are this year’s X-MotY nominees and what they did in 2017:

Vote here:

The poll will remain open for two weeks — until January 20th, 10a.m. Switzerland time. May the splashiest X-Mormon win!!

Collecting nominations for the 2017 Brodie Awards!!!

2017-Brodies-200px The nomination process for X-Mormon of the Year is underway — please be sure to get in your nominations before next weekend when the voting begins.

Now, it’s also time to start on the Brodie Awards!! The Brodie Awards are a fun little yearly activity intended to give some extra recognition and signal boost to the best LDS-interest content published/posted during the past year. This is your opportunity to review your favorite pieces, find out about great works you may have missed, and even promote your own work!

As usual, I will start by posting a list of suggested categories (from last year), but the precise list of award categories depends on your suggestions. Please feel free to browse the sidebar for ideas on award categories we’ve used in the past for ideas. Below the suggested categories, I will post the nomination guidelines.

Year-long awards for people and groups:

  • Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Scripture Study Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best LDS-Church-Info Site
  • Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum
  • Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor
  • Best faithful-perspective Mormon Blog

Awards for Individual Works:

  • Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Book (General non-fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Book (Narrative non-fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Song
  • Best Poem
  • Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image
  • Best Mormon-Themed Meme
  • Best Post Title
  • Funniest Humor Piece
  • Funniest Parody
  • Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory
  • Best From the Pulpit Sermon
  • Most Poignant Personal Story
  • Best Exit Story
  • Best Original Research Regarding Mormonism
  • Best Leak or Personal Recording
  • Best LDS Church Watch Piece
  • Best Response to Apologetics
  • Best LDS-Culture Piece
  • Best History Piece
  • Best Scripture Study Piece
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Podcast Episode
  • Best Short Media Presentation

And here are the nomination guidelines:

  • Please nominate as many people, books, blogs, sites, podcasts, songs, articles, images, etc. as you want. However, please do not nominate more than two individual works by any one author/artist.
  • You are encouraged to nominate your own works. No one knows better than you do which pieces were your best. No more than two, though.
  • Please nominate works that first appeared during 2017.
  • Please try to nominate people and works that have some connection with Mormonism (eg. either the work touches on Mormonism, or the author is a current or former Mormon and/or is an active participant in our community).
  • A category must have at least three nominations in order to be included in the voting and awards phase.
  • You may suggest your own categories — however please do it as early as possible in the nominations process, to give others plenty of time to add nominations in your proposed categories.
  • Any other proposed changes to the categories or to the guidelines are welcome — feel free to discuss it in the comments.
  • The nominations will be open until mid-January, 2018, depending on my schedule. I will finalize the dates and categories and add my own nominations a few days before the nominations close and voting begins.

How to nominate: Just post your nominations as comment to this thread, but please include links to the works you nominate. If your nomination comment ends up in the spam filter, please email me (chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com) and I will fish it out.

I can’t wait to review all of the best works from 2017!!!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Towel girls edition!

Thanks to everyone who has been contributing nominations for X-Mormon of the Year! I am planning to start collecting nominations for the Brodie Awards this weekend, and then the following weekend, I’ll post the polls to vote for X-Mormon of the Year.

So, the Mormon community got some exciting news this past fortnight — teens are now allowed a greater role in performing baptisms for the dead in the temple! Specifically the boys can perform the baptisms (and do other jobs including acting as witnesses and officially greeting temple patrons), and girls can hand people towels! What is wrong with this? I think it was best summed up by April Young Bennet:

Busywork is not equality. Female temple workers do not need Young Women to serve as their “assistants” because women do not have a lot to do in the temple baptistry; they are banned from most of the work. Women are not allowed to baptize, to serve as witnesses, to confirm, to stand in the confirmation circle, to welcome patrons to the temple, to check temple recommends, to keep records, or even to feed names into the projector. With so many bans in place, women often sit to the side watching or receive the kind of assignment that could easily be performed by inanimate objects like towel hooks and laundry baskets. Young Women will not feel needed if their work is literally not needed.

Gina Colvin also nailed it:

I felt the resentment boiling over as from the sidelines I see myself holding towels while my male peers ‘officiate.’ Being baptized by a 16-year-old ‘priest’ who gets to hold me under water, rub up against my body, and see the shape of my body under clinging wet clothing is another horror I imagined. But I feel that familiar sensation of indignity as one by one those boys drop their wet towels behind them in a gush of dripping triumph while I stoop to pick them off the floor. I am pretty confident that I would have been furious at this injustice posturing as gender equality.

There was a lot of good commentary on this issue, including some fun, snarky takes on it, and various people pointed out that they could at least allow women to serve as witnesses. Blaire Ostler offered the counterpoint that we shouldn’t marginalize the value of towel distribution.

In other Mo-topics, Joanne Hanks wrote an article for Free Inquiry, William Kempton discussed some positive changes the CoJCoL-dS has made, Knotty wrote about the Mormon kid masturbation interviews, oh, and the Mormons have been proxy-baptizing holocaust victims again.

In the category of Mo-friends on non-Mo topics, Equality has re-booted his blog as an activism blog, Jana loves letters, On ‘Planet InfoWars,’ People Have Sex With Cars, and Froggie has more lovely photos!

I hope you’re having a fun holiday season! Happy reading!

Collecting nominations for X-Mormon of the Year 2017!!!

X-Mormon-2017-300x223 Hey folks — it’s that time of year again! Time to decide which X-Mormon made the biggest splash in 2017!!

As I said a few weeks ago, it seems like the “Mormon Moment” is over. It seems like there haven’t been as many high-profile excommunications or original public demonstrations during General Conference in 2017 as there have been in the past. So X-Mormons have been out there doing some cool other stuff instead!

Here are my first two picks for nominees:

Of course there are always people doing some Mormon-related things that get them into the news as well. For example, Sam Young started a petition to protect youth from sexually-oriented “worthiness” interviews. (Note: he might still be an active/believing/participating member of the CoJC-L-dS — and I think we’ve decided that that would disqualify him…? — so I’ll hold off on officially nominating him until getting more info on this point.)

*** ETA: It looks like we will probably go back to the old system of not excluding active members (“The X stands for any kind of non-standard Mormon“) because it would exclude two of our main contenders: Sam Young and Savannah. ***

So, who would you like to see nominated? Did you see an excommunication that should have gotten more coverage?

Note: The William Law X-Mormon of the Year award 2017 is for real-life actions that X-Mormons performed in 2017. It’s not intended as an award for content. So if you know of someone who made the best Mo-related film or published an amazing book or article, performed a song, etc. — save those nominations for the Brodie Awards that will be coming up in a couple of weeks.

I look forward to your nominations!