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!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Books edition!

Yay, Mormon Alumni Association Books is finally taking off! I just got the first proof copy of our first book in the mail:

mormon_erotica_photo banta_low_res

Now I need to do some work on updating the website — the current list of books there is a list of recommended titles from other publishers — plus I would like to start contacting people about reviews, publicity, etc. And on that note, let me start this SiOB with all of the book-related items that have shown up in my LDS-interest newsfeed over the past fortnight!

For example, By Common Consent’s press has just announced a batch of new books including a version of the Song of Solomon!

Here are some other recent reviews:

And here’s the one that I just got done purchasing for myself: Dendo! My personal favorite genre to read for pleasure is comic-book memoirs about life in other countries — and this one has the bonus of being about Sister Missionaries!! (A fascinating group, tragically underrepresented in the missionary-memoir genre.)

And here’s a fantastically fun but not-quite-Mo-related (though Mormons get a mention) book discussion — Ana Mardoll is reading another book I’m dying to read: Prairie Fires, the new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, which gives a bunch of additional context to the beloved children’s series.

In news, some Mormons are not happy that the leadership of the CoJCoL-dS had such a cordial meeting with Donald Trump — and particularly didn’t like them complimenting Trump on his commitment to religious freedom, considering Trump’s attempts to explicitly discriminate against Muslims.

Also, despite lingering transparency problems, the CoCJoL-dS has also started subtly adding the infamous hat to some pictures of Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon translation process! Speaking of the Book of Mormon, Alex had finally finished deconstructing the last few chapters.

Sadly, the CoJCoL-dS completely shuts women out of any say in how the church is run:

My stake president felt that Mystery General Authority actually did appreciate my effort, was complimentary about the report’s quality and not at all defensive about its content. According to Mystery General Authority, they were already working on some of the policy changes I had suggested and after reading my report, were now considering some of the other suggestions that I had made that they had not thought of before (Which suggestions? I dunno).

That General Authority’s anonymous response had been vague, kind, noncommittal and nonthreatening. It wasn’t a good response, nor was it a bad one.

But when I told fellow Exponent blogger EmilyCC about what he said, her response was perfect. “April,” she said. “How do you feel about that?”

Well, I felt frustrated. This cleverly crafted response precluded any follow-up on my part as an advocate, and any accountability on the part of priesthood leaders. Even as priesthood leaders promised change, they upheld patriarchy by excluding me.

And here’s an interesting related church news item: there’s a popular idea that universities and businesses use affirmative action to give women and minorities over white males (who get in on their merits and/or connections), but it turns out that BYU until recently had an admissions policy that explicitly favored men over their more-qualified female counterparts. But maybe things can change.

In Mormon culture, imagine living in this amazingly Mormon town! And Jeremy Runnells is putting out another version of the CES letter.

In theology, Lynette would prefer a less micro-managing God, Stephen Marsh discussed what is doctrine, Knotty mused about baptising Trump’s parents for the dead, and hawkgrrrl analysed why people go to church.

Some current and former Mormons are also talking about non-Mo-related stuff like terrible films and reading letters from the WWII archive!

And let’s close with a joke that is very timely… Happy reading!

The Ignorance of Defensive Mormons

The last time I attended a Mormon sacrament meeting was around two years ago. The principle speaker was a stake high councilman. Boasting success in his professional life, he credited his accomplishments to his compassionate approach toward the “less worthy.”

“When I mix with my worldly colleagues,” he explained, “I see them not as they are but as they could be. Dressed in white and in the Celestial Room after receiving their sacred temple endowments.”

The mental image taking form, my first instinct was to suppress a giggle. Temple robes and aprons at the corporate happy hour? For Heavenly Father’s sake! But I was also both surprised and embarrassed to discover that there are still Mormons out there who insist they are without blemish, while all the rest of us are covered in warts.

I should have known. After all, the terms for outsiders and within-the-ranks slackers are still embedded in the Mormon lexicon: “less-actives,” “inactives,” “jack-Mormons,” “liberal Mormons,” “anti-Mormons,” and, of course, “nonmembers.” And when the self-righteous fling these assignations, they seem blissfully unconcerned that they are condemning over 99% of the earth’s population.

It would follow that anyone possessing such a narcissistic worldview might take offense at even the slightest criticism. Nevertheless, I was again surprised and embarrassed when I read the recent piece in The Atlantic, “The Ignorance of Mocking Mormonism” by Hal Boyd.

Boyd, who is the editorial page editor for the Deseret News, introduces his tiresome screed about “Mormon mocking” with a quote from Charles Dickens:

“What the Mormons do seems to be excellent, what they say is mostly nonsense.”

Skewing Dickens’ mildly critical praise into the height of insults, Boyd then quotes similarly “mocking” remarks from other notables. His conclusion being that it isn’t enough for “nonmembers” to merely admire the Mormons as people. They must also buy into the whole of their beliefs. Proclaim Mormonism as the “one and only true church.” Even though they’ve no intention of joining themselves.

It would also follow that Boyd has little appreciation for the trials of other faiths. Awash in self-pity, he goes on to complain:

“The Catholics got The Sound of Music; the Jews got Fiddler on the Roof, and, well, the Mormons got South Park on stage.”

Given Boyd’s narcissistic worldview, I shouldn’t be surprised by this unfounded, self-inflicted belly-aching. But I am surprised. Also embarrassed that after almost seven years since it opened on Broadway, Mormons like Boyd are still whining about the Book of Mormon. As though that adorable chorus line of tap dancing missionaries is something akin to an “anti-Mormon” version of Charlie Hebdo.

But I digress. The central target of Boyd’s venom is another article in The Atlantic: “One Blasphemer’s New Admiration for Mormons,” by Kurt Andersen. Impressed with prominent LDS Republicans such as Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney for speaking out against Donald Trump and Roy Moore, Andersen literally gushes over the Mormons’ sincerity and strength of character, attributing these gifts to the quality of the faith’s leadership and cohesive culture:

“Latter-day Saints are genuinely old-fashioned, with a strong top-down hierarchical establishment that maintains a powerful communitarianism and enforces exacting norms … In addition, while so much of politicized American Christianity is driven by loathing and condemnation, conforming to the religious scholar George Marsden’s definition—‘a fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something’—Mormons tend to be more cheerfully, industriously focused on their own tribal self-improvement.”

As a “nonmember,” Andersen is unable to accept the Mormon doctrine. Nevertheless he finds value in it:

“… while I find their religious beliefs as extreme and strange as I do those of most American Protestants, Mormons seem more consistently virtuous and disciplined in the ways they live their lives.”

Sadly, that wasn’t good enough for Boyd, who accuses Andersen of granting faint praise while “simultaneously snickering” at his beliefs. Evidently he expected Andersen, an atheist, to conclude by bearing his testimony.

His unrealistic expectation unmet, Boyd composed this embarrassing screed and then submitted it to a major publication. Thus detracting from the efforts of Flake, Romney, and even the well-meaning Andersen.

H. L. Mencken wrote, “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

But then, he was a “nonmember.”

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

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

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

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

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

Then there were some fascinating discussion topics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in another couple of weeks!

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Girl Boy Scouts edition!

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

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

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

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

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

And a number of book reviews:

Life journeys!

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

Plus a couple of somewhat Mormon-interest topics:

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

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Conference Fallout Edition!

Did you get a chance to watch or listen to the latest General Conference? If not, you can get some of the highlights from Alex. Or listen to the Infants’ usual parody. (Or maybe listen to their ghost stories instead.)

Brooke W didn’t care for the message that everything is part of God’s divine plan:

The idea that God’s design includes every aspect of my life makes me uncomfortable. I don’t believe that God sent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc. as special tests for the people most affected by them. I don’t believe that people lose their jobs so God can see how well they handle running out of money. And I definitely don’t believe that my infertility is some grand test sent to me to make me a better person.

Some other messages were also questionable.

Perhaps the biggest discussion point this time was the re-iteration of gay people’s status in the CoJCoL-dS, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Their situation doesn’t change much. But it’s important to be aware of the damage such teachings can do to people’s lives:

We have a suicide youth crisis occurring in Utah… and to continue this cultural bias and unfortunate “tradition of our fathers” promoted as revealed doctrine from God is at best irresponsible… and in my eyes, has taken the following step towards knowing abuse. I am sure you have been alerted to the statistics we are currently dealing with as a people. I hold you responsible for this knowledge and yet choosing to continue in this direction.

Of course some people are just going to hate gay people….

Then, in a surprise move, Elder Ballard condemned racism, sexism, and nationalism! What could it mean?

In church history, here’s the tale of how the Quorum of the 12 got its power, and grindæl explained the origin of the baptism for the dead doctrine. And don’t miss these five myths about Mormons and money!

In US politics, the president is a vulgar man with a decrepit soul, the latest tragic shooting may help pass a bump fire ban, and are we still writing poems about players kneeling down?

In other church stuff, Hawkgrrrl enumerated the ways the church lost her, Michelle found imagery of the divine feminine, and Martin contemplated a Mormon sociopath.

Also, here’s another candidate for this year’s X-Mormon of the Year: Nobel Prize winner Kip Thorne.

In random life, Monica is setting of on a Tinder adventure, Joseph Broom spent a gay day in Berlin, So Says Me is not ashamed to be a fighter, Petra described what it’s like to be the only woman in the room, Sam Young recounted a strange dream, Tracy recounted a sad departure, Rosalynde is changing her perspective on housework, the Pearce family spent five weeks in Europe, and Froggey shared some beautiful photos of pumpkins and roses.

Have a great week!

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Two LDS Romance Reviews

A DATE WITH DANGER
By Kari Iroz
256 pp. Covenant Communications, Inc. $15.99

PRIDE AND POLITICS
By Britanny Larsen
272 pp. Covenant Communication, Inc. $16.99

As I was adding finishing touches to my upcoming LDS romance novel, I picked up a couple of Deseret Book titles, curious to see if the stock Mormon rom-com formula had changed. You know the story:

Good Mormon boy (or girl) falls for a non/inactive member because she’s so refreshingly different. Then, after a series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and one chaste kiss, the girl converts/reactivates, the boy pops the question, and they live happily ever after, even though she’s now become the sort of girl that bored the boy in the first place.

Think Shirley Sealy’s Beyond This Moment or Jack Weyland’s Charly or Kurt Hale’s film, The Singles Ward.

I’m happy to report that, based on my two chosen titles, the LDS formula may be on its way out, replaced by the more enduring influence of Regency England.

In A Date With Danger, a Utah Valley college coed, Jacklyn (Jack) Wyatt, teams up with FBI Special Agent Damon Wade to catch a stalker on “Eter-knitty Online Dating,” an LDS forum Jack recently joined. Since it’s unclear which of her contacts might be the culprit, she is ordered to date each of the suspects, while Damon monitors her encounters via hidden microphone.

—Yes, I know. But this is romantic comedy not true crime, and it’s hardly the silliest example of the genre. Think Pretty Woman.

Moreover, with her numerous references to Mr. Darcy, the author is really channeling Jane Austen. Predictable, yes, but Iroz’s writing is solid. Her heroine, Jack, has a strong, witty voice, adorably ditzy in the manner of a good Mormon girl who is more intelligent than she lets on.

Jack’s love interest, the FBI agent, is also a well-drawn character. He’s a lapsed Mormon who makes it clear from the start he’s not coming back to church. Not because he no longer believes. (This is Deseret Book, after all.) But also not because of a petty complaint or a desire to sin. The actual reason is a serious one neither Jack nor the reader can fault.

The two fall in love and then have a falling out over the Church (of course). Then, at the urging of her believing Mormon father, Jack goes back to him even though he’s inactive because—now get this—she loves him! (Cough.) Yes, I just said that. And at the end of the book he’s still inactive and they’re still together! (More coughing.) Has Deseret Book gone astray?

Maybe. Maybe not. They still haven’t lost that chaste kiss requirement. The “lovers” in A Date with Danger have two kissing scenes, one at the end, and another that Jack describes as neither “demanding or even passionate.” Sigh. If it were my book the ex-Mormon would be a much better kisser. Still, I can’t help but admire the real life conclusion.

“It’s not that I’d lost faith in my religion. More that I’d lost faith in the people who practiced it. Or claimed to,” says Summer Knight, author Brittany Larsen’s Elizabeth Bennet clone in Pride and Politics.

Feisty and intelligent, Summer naturally catches the eye of snooty Ivy League Mormon, Benson Hardy. But he isn’t tempted, telling his friend Chase, “First of all, I think you’ve got dibs on the best-looking girl here. Second, she doesn’t go to church. Third, mind your own business.”

Why mind his own business? Because Summer is something far worse than inactive. She’s a Democrat. And not just any Democrat. She’s the daughter of the Democratic senator from Arizona, the arch rival of Benson’s uncle who is soon to become the Republican Party’s nominee for president.

Not long after this initial encounter, Summer obediently returns to church. But that’s not to say the novel follows the old formula. Unlike a more conventional LDS plot that exists within a sheltered Mormon cocoon, Pride and Politics is set in the real world with people who are comfortable in it. We’re definitely not in Happy Valley anymore.

Larsen sticks closely to the story, featuring all of Austen’s beloved characters in interesting—and not necessarily wholesome—manifestations. My favorite is the Lydia Bennet character, Lindsay, who enters the plot when she loses her ecclesiastical endorsement for BYU-Idaho after a public episode of under-aged drinking. There are all the same scenes, only through an LDS lens in Southern California and Washington D.C., with a mock British accent thrown in here, riding breeches and scones thrown in there.

Imagine the ball at Netherfield transported to the Newport Beach LDS Stake Center. Mr. Collins, who needs to marry before he can begin his job as an LDS seminary teacher, foppishly begs Elizabeth Bennet for her hand. She manages to escape, only to be confronted by Darcy who woos her with awkward conversation and caffeine-free Coke. Until they are interrupted by a scantily clad Lydia who jiggles her bodacious cleavage under Darcy’s disapproving gaze. —Now that’s a scene worthy of Amy Heckerling.

Speaking of Lydia’s cleavage, there’s a healthy dose of sexual tension in this book. Enough to shock/titillate a number of Mormon sisters, confound some of the Brethren, and make a 19th century literary realist roll her eyes.

Describing their first kiss, Summer says, “The heat of his (Benson’s) lips made me forget about the cold … my only thought was, More, please.” And then later, when they were dancing, “the synapses in my body were tingling from his touch”

Of course it all ends with a delicious snogging scene for Benson and Summer. The Mormon Republican is elected president. (I’m guessing that was a concession to Deseret Book.) And Lindsay is home from her slutty affair in Mexico, repentant and reformed for life. (Nah—she’s barely warming up.)

Perhaps Deseret Book will favor us with more worldly Mormon romances? I hope so.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?