Time to Vote for the 2016 Brodie Awards!!!

Polls will remain open until Friday, February 3, 2017 at 10am (Switzerland time). Good luck to everyone!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Brodies 2016: Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast

Brodies 2016: Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Brodies 2016: Best Scripture Study Blog/Channel/Podcast

Brodies 2016: Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Church-Info Site

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum

Brodies 2016: Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Brodies 2016: Best faithful-perspective Mormon Blog or Podcast

Awards for Individual Works:

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Interest Book (General non-fiction)

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Interest Book (Narrative non-fiction)

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Interest Song

Brodies 2016: Best Poem

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Brodies 2016: Best Mormon-Themed Meme

Brodies 2016: Best Post Title

Brodies 2016: Funniest Humor Piece

Brodies 2016: Funniest Parody

Brodies 2016: Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory

Brodies 2016: Best From the Pulpit Sermon

Brodies 2016: Most Poignant Personal Story

Brodies 2016: Best Exit Story

Brodies 2016: Best Original Research Regarding Mormonism

Brodies 2016: Best Leak or Personal Recording

Brodies 2016: Best LDS Church Watch Piece

Brodies 2016: Best Response to Apologetics

Brodies 2016: Best LDS-Culture Piece

Brodies 2016: Best History Piece

Brodies 2016: Best Scripture Study Piece

Brodies 2016: Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Brodies 2016: Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion

Brodies 2016: Best Podcast Episode

Brodies 2016: Best Short Media Presentation

Have fun, and may the best content of 2016 win!! 😀

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! 😀

Congratulations to X-Mormon of the Year 2016: Jeremy Runnells!!

jeremy Jeremy Runnells is the author of the famous CES Letter — a clear, readable overview of the major critical issues with the CoJCoL-dS. In early 2016, Jeremy was called in for a disciplinary hearing, but when the church leaders refused to answer any of his questions, he presented his resignation and “excommunicated the church.”

Congratulations Jeremy for making the biggest X-Mormon splash in 2016!!

Note: The Brodies nominations are still open until Thursday, January 19, 2017. To see the results of the X-Mormon of the Year voting, the poll is here.

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.

Phase II of Brodie Awards Nominations!!

We have some really fantastic nominations for the Brodie Awards so far — thanks to everyone who has nominated! And don’t forget that the voting for X-Mormon of the year will continue here until Thursday, January 12, 2016.

This post is my first pass at collecting the nominations (and adding my own), so that you can see which categories need more work! 😀

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast This category could use some more nominations — note it is limited to blogs/channels/podcasts that first started posting during 2016 (or very late in 2015, eg. December).

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: This category needs at least two more nominations to be included in the awards phase.

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Best faithful-perspective Mormon Blog or Podcast

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction) This category needs at least one more nomination to be included in the awards phase.

Best LDS-Interest Book (General non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (Narrative non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best Poem

Best Exmo Fiction Posted Online: For this category to continue, we need at least one more nomination — also I need to know which of Don Bagley’s stories (from 2016) on the page below was the intended nomination.

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Best Mormon-Themed Meme Note to happy_apostate: please pick which one of your nominations you would like to have as your entry in the awards phase — otherwise it’s too many nominations of the same artist by the same nominator, plus I prefer not to have multiple works by the same artist competing against each other in a single category.

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 Item on LDS.org This category needs at least one more nomination in order to be included in the awards phase.

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 This category needs at least one more nomination in order to be included in the awards phase.

Please post your nominations as comments to this thread (although I will probably find them if you leave them on one of the other nomination threads). Remember to always post links to the works you nominate, otherwise it is often difficult for me to find them.

To keep your comment from getting caught in the spam filter, please only post two or three nominations per comment. If your comment doesn’t appear, email me: chanson dot exemormon at gmail dot com. Even if you have already posted nominations, feel free to post more, in accordance with the guidelines posted here.

I have consolidated and split some categories based the number of pieces of different types that got nominated — but keep in mind that it’s not too late to propose a new category if you do it right away. Also note that if you’ve been nominated, but your category has fewer than three nominees, it’s in your interest to nominate some of your colleagues/competitors so the category can be included in the awards phase. 😉

If you see any errors in the above, please leave a comment.

Thanks to everyone who has participated so far!!

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!!!

Time to vote for X-Mormon of the Year 2016!!

Here’s where you can vote on which X-Mormon made the biggest splash in 2016:

** Note: nominations for the 2016 Brodie Awards are open **

Introducing this year’s nominees:

Jeremy Runnells: Author of the CES Letter, he excommunicated the church after being called in for church discipline in 2016.
Erin Robertson: She won the 15th season of Project Runway (2016) and self-identified as Ex-Mormon on national television in the process.
Mark Naugle (chubs_gato): A lawyer who has processed thousands of resignations from the CoJCoL-dS (pro bono) over the past few years.
Rebecca Musser: She escaped from the FLDS and testified against FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs a total of 20 times and helped prosecutors to win 11 convictions against him.
Carolyn Jessop: She escaped from the FLDS, testified against them, and won custody of her children.
Elissa Wall: She escaped from the FLDS and helped expose their abuse by writing a book about her forced marriage/rape.
Ryan McKnight (fearless_fixxer): He has worked with multiple LDS leakers, setting up a Mormon wikileaks in 2016.
Clay Christensen: Professor and author, he was called in for church discipline and resigned from the CoJCoL-dS in 2016 (I think — please comment if this information is not correct)
Mike Norton (NewNameNoah): He has continuously exposed the LDS temple ceremonies on YouTube, including some newly-leaked/produced material in 2016.
Tyler Glenn: A rock star who painted an X across his face and revealed LDS temple tokens in a popular music video.

If I have made any errors, please leave a comment so I can make the correction.

The poll will remain open until Thursday, January 12, at 8:00 am Switzerland-time. May the most awesome X-Mo win!

Collecting nominations for the 2016 Brodie Awards!!!

As you may recall, 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, 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. (Also note, the nominations for William Law X-Mormon of the Year 2016 are still open until Thursday, December 29, 2016).

Year-long awards for people and groups:

  • Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best Overall LDS-interest Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum
  • Best faithful-perspective Mormon Blog

Awards for Individual Works:

  • Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Book (Non-fiction)
  • Best LDS-Interest Song
  • Best Poem
  • Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image
  • Best Mormon-Themed Meme
  • Most fantastic r/mormon AMA
  • Best Post Title
  • Funniest Humor Piece
  • Best Parody/Metaphor/Analogy
  • Most Poignant Personal Story
  • Best Exit Story
  • Best Original Research Regarding Mormonism
  • Best LDS Church Watch Piece
  • Best Response to Apologetics
  • Most Interesting Interfaith Interaction
  • Best History Piece
  • Best Scripture Study Piece
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Review
  • Best Recipe

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 2016.
  • 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 approximately January 12, 2017, 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 2016!!!

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!!

The Ironies of Science: Religion is the Addiction

It’s not uncommon for TBM Mormons to claim that people who leave the religion do so because they want to sin.  Tied to this are all sorts of claims about addiction: addiction to drugs, to pornography, to alcohol, to coffee, and to sex.  A simplified caricature of the TBM perspective might be something like: Mormons are righteous, good, healthy, people with no addictions and non-Mormons – but particularly ex-Mormons – are less-righteous, not very healthy people with lots of addictions.

Then along comes that thing called “science” and flips all of these baseless claims on their head.  I don’t mean to wax toward scientism, but it’s awesome when you have data, rigorous methodology, and closer approximations of reality on your side.

I’m not sure if you caught it, but an article recently came out in Social Neuroscience that used fMRI on 19 devout, returned-missionary Mormons and found some really, really cool stuff.

First, the big finding: when Mormons claim they are “feeling the spirit,” the “reward” center in their brain is being activated.  This same center of the brain is activated when people feel romantic love, parental love, and drug-induced euphoric states.

So, what does that mean?

It means that Mormons are addicted to Mormonism!

Mormons are kind of like junkies.  They get a “hit” (aka “feel the spirit”), it activates the reward centers in their brains, and then they want more.  So, they seek out other opportunities (e.g., fast and testimony meeting, watching Mormon-produced videos, youth conferences, etc.) to get another “hit” and are constantly in pursuit of more “hits” where they can “feel the spirit” in order to feel that same reward.

Mormons are junkies.

Oh, the irony!

But the study isn’t done dropping delightful little, technically-worded bombs.  Here are a couple more that I thought were amazing.

“Activation of the medial prefrontal cortex in all three tasks may suggest a role in representation of affective meaning for the religious stimuli and suggests that cognitive attribution and judgment of the meaning or value of religious stimuli contributes to their experience.”

Translation: You have to be taught to associate emotions with religious stimuli.  In other words, Mormons don’t “feel the spirit” because the “spirit” is actually there.  Mormons are taught that there are times when you associate X (e.g., people crying at youth conference) with Y (e.g., a powerful emotion).  Feeling the spirit is taught, not innate.  Ipso facto, there is no “spirit.” There is just a learned association between stimulus and response.

“Broadly, our findings are consistent with the view that religious experience may be described through known neural circuits mediating cognitive processes such as reward, social cognition, attention, and emotive processing rather than through a novel category of experience.”

Translation: There is nothing novel or unique about religious experiences – they are just an aggregate of other experiences.  In other words, religious experiences aggregate other types of neural experiences – rewards, cognitive attribution, attention, and emotion – into an experience such that the result is feeling something, but there is nothing special or unique about “religious experiences” per se.  They are cognitive/neural experiences.  Nothing mystical or supernatural is happening at all.  It’s all visible in the brain and fits neatly within the neuroscience paradigm.  Religion isn’t supernatural; it’s neurochemical.

Okay, what’s the big takeaway from this study then?

The biggest one is that Mormons are addicts (note: I doubt this is true for all Mormons but it is likely true for many).  That explains a lot.

Have you ever tried talking an alcoholic out of drinking?  How about telling a heroine addict that they are ruining their lives?  Reason and logic don’t work.  Until they see the damage from their behavior and make a decision on their own to change, they will continue down the path they are on (and even that is an over-simplification of how addiction and recovery work).

What about using logic and reason with Mormons?  You’re likely to get the same result.  It doesn’t work.  Those of us who have left often use simple explanations to address this, like, “They always turn to faith in the end.”  Yes, logic, reason, and even evidence may be on the side of the nonbelievers.  But until we recognize that Mormonism (and, likely, religion generally) is functionally like meth, we will continue to fail in our interactions with Mormons.



Ferguson, M. A., Nielsen, J. A., King, J. B., Dai, L., Giangrasso, D. M., Holman, R., … Anderson, J. S. (2016). Reward, salience, and attentional networks are activated by religious experience in devout Mormons. Social Neuroscience, 0(0), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/17470919.2016.1257437