Call for Submissions

Mormon Alumni Association Books is seeking LDS-themed novels in all categories, including literary, commercial, and genre fiction. We will also consider short fiction and poetry collections.

We are looking for completed manuscripts that explore the unique Mormon experience. Works may be critical of or sympathetic to the LDS Church and its members. However, we are not looking for books that focus on whether or not “the Church is true.” We are interested in stories drawn from across the greater LDS community, featuring convincing characters tackling real-life challenges.

If you have completed a book that seems a good match for us, please send your first 20 or so pages along with a query letter that includes a synopsis of your work to: mormonalumniassociation@gmail.com

A Mormon By Any Other Name

by Johnny Townsend

A Mormon by any other name would smell as sweet. Or, more accurately, a Mormon by any other name would smell as saccharine.

I don’t mean to sound offensive. That’s always the trick, isn’t it? Not sounding offensive.

It’s perfectly okay to be offensive, though, right? “I love you but I hate your sin of homosexuality, so you can’t bring your ‘friend’ to dinner.”

Granted, we should be happy when Mormons use the word “homosexuality.” Just as they tend to bristle when people label their religion a “cult,” gays and lesbians don’t like being called “people suffering from same-sex attraction.”

LGBTQ folk shouldn’t feel singled out, however. Black skin used to be “the mark of Cain.” For over 150 years, “pure and delightsome” characters in the Book of Mormon were described as “white and delightsome.” That particular book of scripture used to be a record of the Lamanites, indigenous people known by most others as Native Americans. And it used to be about all Native Americans, but now Lamanites are considered to be “among” the original inhabitants of the Americas, and the book is definitely no longer a “history.”

Speaking of scriptural adjustments, the Book of Abraham until recently was a “translation” of the papyri Joseph Smith purchased. Now, with evidence that the actual translation is vastly different, Church leaders say Joseph’s version was merely “inspired” by the Egyptian funerary text.

Words matter. That’s President Nelson’s reason for insisting we no longer use the word “Mormon.” What used to be a proud nickname embraced by the “I’m a Mormon!” campaign, and reflected in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, mormon.org, Mormon Newsroom, and countless other official Church terminology, is now a “slur.”

It’s that insistence on “correct” usage that is so maddening both for Mormons and those who interact with them regularly. When a Disciplinary Council is labeled a Court of Love, when enabling sexual predators is described as “protecting the name of the Church,” when gender discrimination is explained as “we all have different roles,” people are not fooled.

“I say people. You say apostate.” Come on, sing along.

After “anti-Mormon lies” are verified, Mormons change their claim to, “The Church has always taught that.” When embarrassing facts are hidden on the Church’s website, often only decipherable if one looks up the references in the footnotes to see the actual information, Mormons call this “transparency.”

Words matter. They can be used to illuminate. They can be used to obfuscate. And they can be used to oppress.

Kicking out one’s gay child isn’t “tough love.” It’s heartless cruelty. Keeping non- member family away from a temple wedding isn’t a matter of “worthiness.” It’s both a form of punishment and a means of control.

The list of deceptive and manipulative terms used by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could go on and on. The “Church,” by the way, is actually a corporation. That’s not a slur. It’s a fact. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Some people like roses. Others like Shakespearean plays. And some prefer Bible fan fiction.

That’s all fine. People like what they like. They believe what they believe. But let’s call a spade a spade. Mormonism by any other name would smell like nutrient-rich fertilizer. Oh, who the frack are we kidding? You know what it smells like.

Congratulations 2018 Brodies Winners!!!

The results are in!!! Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to all who participated!!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Podcast: Marriage on a Tightrope

Best New Blog/Channel/Site: Unrigeteous Dominion

Best Podcast: Radio Free Mormon

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast: The Drunk Mormon Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics: Stuff You Missed in Sunday School

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast: The Drunk Mormon Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor: CosmoMormonMagazine

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction): Mormon Erotica, by Donna Banta

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction): Educated, by Tara Westover

Best LDS-Interest Song: Theme song to “The Drunk Mormon Podcast”

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image: Mormon Deadpool images

Funniest Humor Piece: ShadowLeaks Discovers a Modest-Is-Hottest Proposal

Best Parody or Metaphor: ShadowLeaks™ Releases LDS Church’s Sacred Memos

Most Poignant Personal Story: McKenna Denson/Joseph Bishop interview

Best Life Journey Piece: Truth Seeking with Hans and Birgitta Mattsson

Best History Piece: My Book of Mormon ep 209 on the lost D&C Section 101 on monogamy

Best Activist Action or Movement Within Mormonism: Sam Young and Protect LDS Children

Best Leak or Personal Recording: McKenna Denson/Joseph Bishop interview

Best Watchdog Piece: Bill Reel, Mormon Discussions: Elder Holland, Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Best Discussion of Activism: Mormon Happy Hour’s two interviews with Lesley Butterfield: on Joseph Bishop and on UnrigheousDominion.org

Best Op-Ed: Open letter to LDS Patriarchy, by Lesley Butterfield

Best Film or Media Presentation: Believer

Best Scripture Study Piece: The Drunk Mormon Podcast: The Frickin’ Golden Plates!!

Best From the Pulpit Sermon: Thomas Shaffer

Best LDS-Culture Piece: The Drunk Mormon Podcast: We Know Who Bigfoot Is

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS: Radio Free Mormon: General Conference Death March

Best Theological Discussion: Some Things that are Useful are Not True, by Alex

Best Discussion on Race: The Racism 101 podcast

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism: Mormon Happy Hour: Mormon Sexual Trauma Dumpster Fire

Best Discussion on Gender and/or Orientation: Mormon Women Speak, featuring Mica McGriggs, PhD and the Hushed Ones Documentarians

Here‘s the list of all of the nominees and the results of the polls. And here are the button graphics for the winners — feel free to display these on your site:

2018-Brodies-Black

2018-Brodies-White

Thanks again for your participation!!

Time to vote for the 2018 Brodie Awards!!!

2018-Brodies-200px The polls are now ready!! A huge thanks to everyone who nominated and shared with us this fantastic crop of amazing content from 2018!!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Podcast

Best New Blog/Channel/Site

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Funniest Humor Piece

Best Parody or Metaphor

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best History Piece

Best Activist Action or Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best Watchdog Piece

Best Discussion of Activism

Best Op-Ed

Best Film or Media Presentation

Best Scripture Study Piece

Best From the Pulpit Sermon

Best LDS-Culture Piece

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Best Theological Discussion

Best Discussion on Race

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism

Best Discussion on Gender and/or Orientation

The polls will remain open until Sunday, February 17, 2019 @ 10a.m. Switzerland time. Good luck to everyone!!!

Last call for Brodies Nominations!!

2018-Brodies-200px Thanks for all of the additional nominations!!! I am really sorry for losing so many nominations between the first and second nomination threads — there was this cute little button marked “older comments” which I somehow didn’t notice when I did my earlier roundup. I hope I have everything now — if you see any errors, please comment below (or you can email me: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com).

I have mostly finalized the categories — I have moved some nominations from one category to another in order to try to even out the categories a bit. In particular, I think the categories of “Best Blog Post” and “Best Podcast Episode” are just too general, so I have moved those nominations to more specific categories. If you would like me to move any nomination to a different category, please say so in the comments — but keep in mind that I need at least three nominations per category. I still might have to eliminate some categories, but I will try to move the affected nominations to other categories. (If one of your faves is in an incomplete category — feel free to nominate some competition! 😀 )

I will keep nominations open for one more week because of the confusion over the lost nominations. So you have until February 3, 2019 to add your nominations.

Here’s what we have so far:

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast/Site

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Best Humor Piece or Parody

Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best History Piece

Best Activist/Activtist Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best Watchdog Piece

Best Discussion of Activism

Best Op-Ed

Best Film or Media Presentation

Best Scripture Study Piece

Best From the Pulpit Sermon

  • Thomas Shaffer
  • This category needs two more nominations in order to go on to the voting phase

Best LDS-Culture Piece

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion

Best Discussion on Race

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism

Best Discussion on Gender or Orientation

The nomination guidelines are found here. I look forward to seeing the rest of the nominations!! 😀

Brodies 2018 – intermediate nomination roundup!

2018-Brodies-200px Thanks for all of the great nominations so far!! I haven’t added my own nominations yet, but I plan to do so this weekend, and then I’ll make the polls. So you have one more week (from this posting) to nominate and then two weeks to vote.

It would appear that the most hotly-contested race this year will be for “Best Podcast Episode” — with whole lists of episodes getting nominated per podcast!! It looks like people are maybe suggesting that each podcast should get its own category (eg. “Best Mormon Happy Hour Podcast Episode”, “Best Drunk Mormon Podcast Episode”). I could potentially do that if that’s what folks here want (feel free to discuss in the comments) — but I’d really prefer to keep the Brodies a little tiny bit competitive.

Here’s what I’d prefer to do: For each podcast, the podcaster can select (in the comments below) their best episode to go in the “Best Podcast Episode” category, and then we can move the others to the more specific categories based on the content (eg. humor, history, church watch, race/gender discussions, best title, etc.). Some of the specific categories haven’t gotten any nominations yet, but can still go to the voting phase if people nominate some pieces this week.

Here are the nominations so far:

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 2018 (or very late in 2017, eg. December).

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

  • Drunk Mormon Podcast
  • This category needs two more nominations in order to go on to the voting phase

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Other potential categories that could use nominations: Best LDS-Church-Info Site, Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum

Awards for Individual Works:

Best Podcast Episode

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

  • Mormon Erotica, by Donna Banta
  • This category needs two more nominations, otherwise it will be merged with the “Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)” category.

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

  • Educated,
    by Tara Westover
  • This category needs two more nominations, otherwise it will be merged with the “Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction)” category.

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Funniest Humor Piece or Parody

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best Activist/Activtist Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best LDS Church Watch Piece

Best Op-Ed

Best Full-Length Media Presentation

Here are some potential categories that haven’t gotten nominations yet:

  • Best Post or Episode Title
  • Best Exit Story
  • Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory
  • Best Poem
  • Best From the Pulpit Sermon
  • Best Response to Apologetics
  • Best LDS-Culture Piece
  • Best History Piece
  • Best Scripture Study Piece
  • Best Discussion on Parenting
  • Best Discussion on Race/Gender/Orientation
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Short Media Presentation
  • Best Book Review

For any category that has at least two nominations by January 27, 2019, I will either try to find an appropriate third nomination myself or I will merge it with another category so that reader nominations will not get lost. That said, it would be really nice if people who are following this could encourage their friends on social media to swing by and add their own nominations for the best LDS-interest content of 2018. 😀

Congratulations to X-Mormon of the year 2018: Sam Young!!!

sam_young Sam Young — a former Mormon Bishop — has spent the past few years shining the light on a shameful practice within the CoJCoL-dS: having untrained lay bishops give one-on-one, closed-door interviews with children and teens in which bishops are expected to ask the minors about their sexual experiences (chastity) and are allowed to ask for some pretty graphic and explicit details.

This is a problem that has been hidden in plain sight for decades. Those who were raised Mormon know about it. I’ve read TBM comments online explaining that the bishop sometimes needs to ask for graphic details in order to determine what type of repentance is required. And I guess the idea is that if the kid feels ashamed while being asked precisely what their hands and other body parts did, then that’s good — they should be ashamed.

The problem is that that sets up the perfect opportunity for abuse. Kids who think they deserve to feel ashamed certainly aren’t going to dare tell their parents about it, knowing the response is more likely to be “You did X?! You should be ashamed of yourself” rather than “X is a normal part of growing up, and this untrained middle-aged man had no business asking you about it.” Thanks to Sam Young for his tireless efforts to call attention to this practice that absolutely shouldn’t be treated as ordinary and acceptable.

Sam Young caught the public eye in 2016 by voting opposed in General Conference. Over the past few decades, this voting procedure in the CoJCoL-dS has morphed into just a “sustaining” vote (in which “no” votes are inappropriate). But Sam Young argued that according to the scriptures the church should be governed by common consent, hence the vote should be a real vote.

Since then he has been the primary organizer and driving force behind the Protect LDS Children organization. After hundreds marched with Protect LDS Children in protest of this policy and Sam Young went on a hunger strike, the CoJCoL-dS finally changed its policy — now allowing parents to sit in on the interviews.

Yay?

Well, yes, except that — in accordance with its usual M.O. — the CoJCoL-dS pretended that the change was a total coincidence that had nothing to do with the organization and demonstrations. In September of 2018, they thanked Sam Young by excommunicating him. Shame on the CoJCoL-dS, but a big thanks and round of applause to you, Sam Young — 2018’s “William Law X-Mormon of the Year”!!!

Please get your Brodies’ nominations in as soon as possible on the intermediate nominations roundup thread — anyone can nominate! You can see the results of the X-Mormon of the Year voting here.

Gerrymandered Out of Church

by Johnny Townsend

My mom had few friends in her life. As a kid, I watched her interact with neighbors just twice. My parents never hosted parties, never invited anyone over for dinner, rarely let my sister or me bring any of our own friends over. Once, on a visit back to Mom’s hometown in Mississippi, we ran into an old school friend of hers, and I watched, fascinated to see her so energized and happy. But after we returned to New Orleans, life returned to “normal.”

Then we converted to Mormonism, and suddenly, my mother had adult friends for the first time. Even as a self-absorbed child, I couldn’t help but notice how much happier having the new social network made both my parents.

Then our congregation—Jefferson Ward—split. We lived on the far outer edge of Metairie, a middle class suburb of New Orleans. To our immediate west lay Kenner, a town consisting largely of working class folks. Church leaders made the practical decision to loop our neighborhood into the Kenner Ward to provide the new congregation with more middle class men who could function as leaders.

All of Mom’s friends lived in what was now the Metairie Ward. LDS policy mandates that members attend the ward they have been assigned to. No shopping around for a different congregation is allowed. My mother, who lived only a few blocks from the friends she loved, was cut off from them almost completely.

Granted, there was no real reason these women couldn’t have continued socializing together outside of church. They all had their own cars. They had telephones. They could have met for lunch, gone to see a matinee. But an unfortunate aspect of Mormon friendship is how dependent it is on church. My mother may as well have moved out of state.

Now, I don’t know what other issues my mother may have had with Mormonism. She died of leukemia at the age of forty-three, a few months after I returned from my mission. We had very little time together as adults. It’s possible gerrymandering was her only “problem” with the Church, but it’s just as possible it was simply the final blow to her testimony.

My mother only attended church three more times in the remaining eight years of her life.

Mormons often say that those who “fall away” do so because they were “offended,” the implication being that members leave over trivial issues. But it isn’t trivial to discover that your best friends were never really your friends at all, just pleasant work acquaintances.

Mormons often speak rapturously about the benefits of LDS community. If it is really that great, then it is no small thing to rearrange random blocks of people. Even devout Mormon women aren’t Stepford Wives, interchangeable, with no personalities of their own.

My mom’s friends all came to her funeral. They pulled me aside and told me what a loss it was that she’d died so young.

They may indeed have felt loss, and I know I did, but even then, still a true believer, I knew that the person who’d suffered the greatest loss was the woman who’d died friendless.

It’s time to vote for William Law X-Mormon of the Year 2018!!!

X-Mormon-2018-300x223 Wow, we’ve got quite a list of X-Mormons to choose from in 2018!!


And here are the descriptions of the nominees:

The poll will remain open until Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Switzerland time. And may the X-Mormon who made the biggest splash in 2018 win!!

Collecting Nominations for the 2018 Brodie Awards!!

2018-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 Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast
  • Best LDS-Church-Info Site
  • Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum
  • Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

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 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/Activtist 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 Best Discussion on Gender
  • Best Discussion on Race
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Podcast Episode
  • Best Short Media Presentation
  • Best Book Review

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 2018.
  • 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, 2019, 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 2018!!!