Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part II
This is the second part of what has turned out to be a surprisingly lengthy two-part series on the perception of ex-Mormons as being angry and causes and reasons for anger that may exist, originally posted at Irresistible (Dis)Grace here and here. Please read part I (if you haven’t already) here.
3. Why do ex-Mormons appear to be angrier than we are?
If you’ll notice my phrasing of the previous question (in the first part), I wrote thatsomeex-Mormons will be angrysomeof the time. But what outsiders generally see is a perpetually angry mass of people.
So what explains the difference between appearance and reality?
It’s a matter of an unrepresentative sample along with the vocal minority/silent majority dynamic.
To explain, there are many people who drift away from the church. Even if specific numbers are not known, church inactivity rates are not insignificant. (Maybe if I am really bored, I’ll look up [or even better, commenters will link to] estimatesbothfrom “faithful” statisticians and not-so-faithful ones…but needless to say, inactivity and retention is something that even believing bloggers will address seriously from time to time.) The thing is…most of these inactive people…who for all intents and purposes, would look (to someone within the church)indistinguishable from someone who has left the church,are not blogging. They are not posting on ex-Mormon forums. They are not posting on reddit.
In fact, they may not even think about Mormon issues at all.
The people who blog, who post on forums, etc., are fundamentally different than the people who don’t. While I’m sure there are a number of relevant trait differences among the two groups, one reasonable one to assume is that people who blog have a reason to do so. They have a motivation to blog. Who’s to say that most “ex-Mormons” have no such motivation?
For all we know,mostpeople who leave the church might well be leaving it perfectly well alone. We would never know about it, though, because there would be no way to identify these people without having insider knowledge on their past affiliation with the church. In fact, the sheer statistics would suggest it. There may be a lot of ex-Mormon blogs, but there aren’t nearly as much as would be expected given the inactivity crisis figures. (Then again, keeping track of ex-Mormon blogs isn’t exactly a perfect science. There is the newOuter Blogness blog aggregator, and Chanson and the other permas here atMain Street Plazatry to keep track of any ex-Mormon blogging efforts, but everything is nevertheless quite decentralized.)
And that decentralized nature brings up another point. A blunder I see often on the internet is in assuming that one is dealing with a static body of people. In some of my forums I’ll visit, people will protest how others flip-flop positions. For example, before a movie has come out (or immediately after its release), there will be praise and anticipation for the movie. If the movie becomes particularly popular, all of a sudden, the posts praising the movie will turn to posts in rabid opposition to it. How is it that people can turn on something they once loved?
There are some interesting hypothetical explanations for this phenomenon. Maybe when things become popularthen they are no longer cool?
…but a better answer will take into account the fact that the population isn’tstatic at all. The people who anticipated and liked the movie when it was unknown or when it was unreleasedaren’tthe same people who dislike it when it is released. (And maybe, when the movie was unknown, the only people who had motivation to talk about the movie were precisely the kinds of people who would enjoy the movie enough to keep track of it or to watch early showings, even if later viewers would not be similarly impressed.)
In the similar way (but to a different effect), the same people venting about their experiences with the church aren’t the same throughout time. While blogs go defunct all the time (and Mormon blogs certainly do), I’d venture to say that ex-Mormon blogs do so more often. The disaffected Mormon underground, or Outer Blogness, or whatever you will call the body of ex-Mormons on the internet, is atransient groupprone to attrition.
I’m definitely too lazy to craft anything more than anecdata, but I will venture to say that many of the blogs I read two years ago (or even a year ago) do not update regularly now. Many of the blogs I keep track of today didn’t exist two years ago. To illustrate, check out myIrresistible Blogroll. I published the blogroll formally in July of 2010 and haven’t touched it since. If you look at the faithful Mormon side, there are few blogs (if any?) which are functionally defunct (and while there are new faithful blogs I keep track of now that didn’t exist then [most notablyWheat and Tares…], most of them are there). (Although there are blogs that are highly irregular posters.) The ex-Mormon side, however, is the only one that has a “blog closing” or “final blog” post as the last entry. It’s substantially incomplete — many of the blogs I follow via RSS weren’t around when I was still maintaining the blogroll.
So, it turns out, many ex-Mormons who had cause to be distresseddo move on. This isn’t to say that there aren’t ex-Mormons whodon’t, but even in this case, there is still a distinction: wemellow out. So the bloggers at MSP,Jon Adams at USU SHAFT, and myself at Irresistible (Dis)Grace are long-timers with respect to ex-Mormon blogging, but we’re not venting. This subject is our hobby and intellectual plaything.
If the Bloggernacle can be said t0 have no collective memory (somethingArmand Mauss has lamentedas a flaw in the medium), then this certainly applies to the decentralized Outer Blogness. And so, covering thorny issues of church history, doctrine, culture, and other pain points is something that happens over and over, as new generations of disaffected members struggle to find bearings in a post-faith-crisis world.
To say ex-Mormons are always angry, then, is to attribute to a static population what is better understood as the phenomenon of a dynamic population.
There are probably other conclusions we might draw from this. A while back, I wrote about the problem with atheist communities. Today, I’d probably retract much of what I said as my personal introverted thoughts on the issue masquerading as general commentary. I would probably be more willing to recognize today the important of community support — in the face-to-face, I-will-help-you-move-in-and-bake-you-something-when-you’re-sick sense — and wonder if that ever reliably and largely gets implemented in secular contexts.
…but I would venture (and maybe I’m totally wrong…because I don’t have experience here) that ex-Mormon communities do see different faces over the years. So instead of seeing the same core of people in an area at every meetup, perhaps things must be built from the ground up with the understanding that people move on — and that’s OK.
I nominate this post as a preface for the “Book of ex-Mormon”.
That is absolutely true, and it’s the main reason why I’m so active about seeking new blogs and highlighting the new ones in SiOB. We have tremendous turnover, so I’d like to help the exmo bloggers find each other.
If you’d like data on the subject, just look at Outer Blogness. I don’t actively delete people’s links unless they delete their blogs (which some do, but not all). It might be fun to ask Ziff of ZD to do a statistical analysis of how long an exmo blog typically stays active. 😉
I think chanson already wrote the preface to The Book of Ex-Mormon (see what I did there)? 🙂
And indeed, SiOB is truly a great effort. In the M* discussion about awards, when the conversation actually got refocused on awards (which didn’t last long), I suggested that really, the whole awards concept is kinda broken. The idea shouldn’t be to try to reward people for posts/comments, but to raise awareness of the breadth of posts around.
So, someone else responded: “so we should have something that is more of a regular piece that highlights blog posts in the community.”
And I was like, “Yeah, kinda like what chanson already does with SiOB…”
We’re literally ahead of the game. 🙂
Andrew, you are too sweet!! 😀
I really enjoyed this series, thanks for the post.
I think there’s one pervasive aspect of ex-mormonism that you left out. In the LDS church there is no such thing as an ex-mormon; only mormons and anti-mormons. Activity and commitment to the church are understood in terms of the degrees of glory doctrine, roughly speaking:
Celestial = Active TBM
Terrestrial = Semi-active/lukewarm
Telestial = Inactive/transgressor = Telestial
Outer Darkness = Anti-mormon
There is no vocabulary in the LDS lexicon for simply exiting the church and leaving it behind. There is no grammar of respect for those who leave the church without any animosity or desire to do the LDS church harm.
There is no allowance for happiness and peace outside the church, especially for those who have left the church. Likewise there is no allowance for upstanding morality or strength of character. (That’s what I love about the “I Am an Ex-Mormon” videos.
One might say that, on the whole, the LDS church is more negatively disposed towards ex-mormons than vice versa.
Is Andrew stilled banned from the ‘nacle? I alluded to this in a comment over at his personal blog, but after following that (long) thread at M*, I’m not sure us exmos would lose an “angry” contest with the ‘naclers. They seem to be riled up a lot of the time, too. And for much more inscrutable reasons (as far as I can tell).
In any case, per MSP’s strictly-enforced Fairness Doctrine, who’s gonna write up the follow-up post here about all the angry Mormon bloggers? No rush, but just wanted to make sure that gets scheduled at some point. Just thinking out loud, wouldn’t it be fun if one of their angrier bad examples agreed to grace us with a guest post explaining the phenomenon of raging believers?
Echoing Andy, this is the one additional point I was thinking of commenting on.
It’s a sincere and honest mistake, but typically faithful Mormons view even neutral statements from non-believers and constructive criticism of the CoJCoL-dS leaders as some sort of hostile, hateful, personal attack. I know this isn’t quite comparable, but to take one of your examples, people wouldn’t assume you’re a mean, bitter hater if you were to completely trash a movie you don’t like. But much milder criticism of Mormonism is often interpreted as hate and rejection of family.
That’d be great! If one of the ‘nacle insiders would write us such a post, I’d love to see MSP host it!
I think the parallels with the behavior of the “fanboys” discussed in this article are quite interesting (not to mention amusing).
Oh man, kuri, don’t mess with an early adopter of not-ready-for-primetime tech who bought in thinking it was gonna bestow some cutting-edge cred. All of a sudden, I feel myself relating to the ‘nacle’s pain and I’m ready to commit to being a better ambassador. Thanks.
Until then, since I think we’re all banned except for chanson, I think she’s gonna have to handle the logistics of luring one of the ‘nacle’s cautionary tales over here for a powwow.
That’s a really great point. I’d love to see it fleshed out more, but I probably could reason it out myself based on my own experience. I just never thought to put it in those terms.
I continue to get emails every once in a while informing me that one of the BCC tripwires has been disabled, but I don’t try to confirm whether that’s the case or not, because every time I’ve tried in the past, I’ve just gotten burned by another one. (Although the latest email DID confirm that there were multiple methods in place to try to block me, which I think is kinda thoughtful.)
There are a lot of new comments on I(D)G that haven’t notified me by email. Will have to look at why that’s happening, but then I’ll have to respond as well.
The one thing that really gets me about the Millennial Star conversation is how MSP and OB is just really “past” a lot of the drama the believers are going through. Scott and Bruce talk about blogs discussing other blogs and linking to each other…but we already do that. We already directly link the people we are referring to, rather than talking about people indirectly and then denying that we were ever really addressing their comments/blog articles in the first place.
(FWIW, I had to add a link to Jake’s post about ignorance/intelligence, because I was so annoyed that he was playing that anonymous citation game, and I wasn’t having it.)
My original idea to start writing again at MSP was to write something about the conflict within the believing sphere (as evidenced by the flareups in comments at M*)…I wrote this article instead because of a completely different conversation, and haven’t gotten to the original article idea.
I have to go pick up my siblings from their first day of another school year though.
@Kuri, that article is spot on. I used to be an Apple fanboy back in the mid-90s when Apple printed its own Mac-evangelism material. Thanks for sharing.
Andrew- Yes, yes, please write your proposed ‘On the nature of conflict in the believing sphere’ post for MSP, looking forward to it! In the meantime, here’s a Paul Graham quote that I’ve probably copied-and-pasted a dozen times now, but it still comes to mind every time I think about our loosey-goosey open community approach here vs. the “look-out-somebody’s-plotting-to-poach-our-traffic” mentality on display elsewhere:
The revolving door that is Outer Blogness must be somewhat mind-boggling for those still diligently defending boundaries. I wonder if they understand that the bulk of LDS online foot traffic will someday be an entire generation passing by on their way to the exits. If the more interesting Mormon voices don’t make an effort to reach some of these kids through venues like MSP and Reddit and elsewhere, they’ll never know if they missed the chance to establish a connection with that small percentage who’d appreciate learning about a more inclusive, more expansive Mormonism before leaving it all behind. It reminds me of that discussion about the Student Review over at T&S. What some of the commenters failed to appreciate (even now, twenty years on) is that SR was a project that never would have happened if the litmus test had been whether or not the participants would commit to a lifetime of interest in Mormonism. Some times, you’ve gotta meet people where they’re at and make good things happen while you’ve got their attention. Following the test that Scott B. described for BCC (believers:in/non-believers:out) might seem like it’s working now, but it’s not a viable long-term approach as the inexorable demographic tide turns that will eventually wipe out Sunstone, Dialogue and every other interesting unofficial Mormon project that doesn’t figure out a way to harness the contribution of young Mormons in transition toward equilibrium with an increasingly unchurched culture.
Since I’m typing this from my phone and am too lazy to turn off the mobile version of each site, I can’t see comment numbers, but I hope that makes it comments will make enough sense in context.
I see a lot of members (especially in the bloggernacle) take an approach of “dues paying” before they will accept criticism. Exmormons and non-Mormons by default can’t pass the test (and are thus illegitimate critics of the church) because we don’t play by the rules (e.g. Have Faith.) the splinters within the faithful blogging community happens because there are other perceived failures in paying dues beyond faith and lack-of-faith. Even if some people either do not see or do not agree with those other criteria. For example, bloggernacle blogs are unacceptable to someone like J. Max Wilson (of nothing Wavering fame), because they don’t give prophets their due. And even in the bloggernacle, which publishes some surprisingly subversive articles sometimes, there is a distrust of someone like John Dehlin…because he fails to pay the lesser, but still existent dues that bloggernaclers expect.
As a refugee of a platform that just got taken off life support in one of the most unceremonious manners possible, that article hits way too close to home 🙂
It’s definitely an article I’m looking forward to writing (even if I doubt my capacity to address it in the best, most mature way), but it’s one that will require a lot of research to hit the depth I want it to have (can we say Niblet for best trans-bloggernacle history article in 2011? Or will it be another “in my bloggernacle, there are CERTAINLY no awards for Andrew S”?)
The obvious solution is to hijack the Niblets and run it ourselves. If the ‘nacle decides to run a competing version of the contest, I trust they’ll at least be polite enough to call theirs the Brighamite Niblets in order to avoid any confusion in the minds of the public.
Chino, @13, I don’t quite understand your logic. How are the young people who leave the Church today any different than the young people who left yesteryear? How are the young people who participated in Sunstone in the 1970s “on their way out” any different than now? Why would these unofficial projects get wiped out when they somewhat thrive on disaffection?
Many years ago, I got caught up with a local chapter of the League of Women Voters, and one of their main concerns was the lack of young people, such that the League was perhaps going to die with the next generation. But of course, if you go to their website, this doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s really a local administrative concern…getting younger people to hold the reins. But if something is big enough, and cashes on a phenomenon outside itself that isn’t going away, but only getting bigger — it seems like Sunstone can thrive indefinitely, even if many of those who hold the reins are passersby with a core of old-timers (which is the case in every organization, right?). Perhaps I’m missing some aspect of this, though.
First off, there’s an element of smack talk to my last couple of comments. Secondly, prognosticating about the demise of this, that or the other fringe-y Mormon project is predictable and unoriginal. But finally, I do think there’s probably a difference now. We agree that these projects “thrive on disaffection” but I don’t think most of the under-20 young people leaving the LDS church today count as “disaffected” … They’re networked like we never were, they’re planning their exits earlier than we could’ve ever imagined, and I suspect they’ve got more in common with their unchurched peers than they’ll ever have with any of us who continued thinking about religion after leaving home. These kids won’t give it a second thought.
Andrew @14, I agree with you regarding the ‘nacclers. My comment @7 was more about ordinary chapel Mormons who see a non-believer amongst their friends on FaceBook or accidentally stumble upon MSP. They’ve been taught that former Mormons “kick against the pricks and persecute the saints” — and they’re looking through the lens of that prejudice when evaluating what you say (instead of starting from a clean slate and evaluating what you say based on what you said.
Also @15, don’t forget that in that infamous Nibletology thread I was also mentioned alongside Chino as someone who should never get to win a [Brighamite] Niblet! 😀
I think that’s probably true. The Internet has completely changed the way people socialize.
When I was a teenager, we had no means (or reason) to hear from former believers, and nor any context where we’d hear believers voicing criticism of LDS church policies. (Yes, there was Sunstone, but what if your parents don’t subscribe?) So we’d hear everyone bear their testimony once a month, and we’d get the impression that everybody believes and everybody has it all figured out. If something at/about the church makes you go WTF?, you naturally assume that it’s just you, that you’re the only one with the problem.
Teenagers today — upon their first WTF? church moment — can go to the Internet and immediately find tons of other kids like them who have had the same WTF? experiences. So they quickly get the message “Aha, it’s not just me, it’s a real concern” instead of spending years with this angsty “it must be me — I have to try harder not to be the weird/bad one” idea.
Hey, it’s been mentioned at W&T and r/exmo, but not yet at MSP, are we still gonna crash Sunstone next year and/or present some kinda DAMU panel? I need to know fairly soon so the sound and lighting techs have time to prepare for our presentation.
And another thing!
On your list of “Why are Ex-Mormons” questions, you forgot to address Why are exmormons so sexy?
@21 Yes, absolutely! Do you know when Sunstone 2012 takes place? Let’s start making plans!
Not sure of the dates. This year was Aug. 3-6. Last I heard, the 2012 theme is Mormons and Mormonism as a Political Force. I keep telling Fred Karger we need to do a roadshow in Utah to stir the pot. That’d be a hoot. Whether or not that works out, let’s plan to park a car covered in pro-LGBT bumper stickers at BYU and keep a camera on it overnight. The last time Eric Ethington did that his tires got slashed (too bad he didn’t have a camera rolling). If that had been caught on tape, it would’ve made a great YouTube clip.
In line with the conference theme, I’m probably gonna speak on the phenomenon of people who pretend to use the Force to open automatic doors and how they’ve got a Facebook group with more “likes” than the official lds.org page and what that means for the future of humanity.
It cracks me up that I can type “Why are Mormons so…” and MSP is in the top 2-3 results. We must be friggin’ SEO geniuses. Some national paper should write about us.
That’s cool. So our panel about how ExMormonism is the world’s fastest growing religion should fit the theme quite nicely. Also fits the thing about people using the force to open automatic doors — they’re pretty cool, I should go “like” them…
Have you actually been to Sunstone in the last twenty years? I’m assuming we’d be welcome to bring the circus to town, but maybe not?
Yes, I was there just a couple years ago. I’m emailing Mary Ellen to ask her, but my impression is that they’d be fine with us gathering up a group to attend and participate. For this most recent one, I received a couple of emails asking for suggestions of people who could represent our end of the Mormon spectrum on various panels. Keep in mind that they let people speak who are plenty weirder than us! 😀
Ha! Perfect. I assumed correctly that you’ve got the inside track on this and your reminder above (Why are exmormons so sexy?) is going to make an alluring panel title.
When I was there, I attended a panel where the presenters were fundamentalist Mormons. [Aside: I’m sorry to break my own rule and respond to a certain troll allegation, but I met a number of fundamentalist Mormons, I even attended an AUB Sacrament Meeting, and I can tell you that they really do call themselves Mormons in casual conversation. I also met Anne Wilde, and I can tell you she’s a real person, not just a name on a press release.]
I also attended one session where a speaker started off more-or-less reasonable, and then kind of veered into crazy-land (IMHO). I also attended a panel where Holly gave God the finger. And this was years before “The Book of Mormon” made giving God the finger cool!! That’s another reason MH’s post about a few bad eggs ruining Sunstone was so absurd. They have a lot of fascinating and excellent presentations, and part of the way they get them is by not doing a lot of picky boundary maintenance — that’s just the way it works!
Heh. What drama. Now you’re reminding me why I actually do get a bit angry sometimes. The damn boundary maintenance never stops. Have you seen the last few comments on this BCC thread? I sure as hell hope that these MDL-boosters don’t throw me/us in with the “anti-Mormon” Internet. Memo to the More Good Foundation maniacs:
Joanna Brooks is doing more good for the perception of Mormonism in America with articles like this than you will ever do.
By the same token (and here’s why I get riled), during the Prop 8 and Maine 1 campaigns, I participated in various activist/blogger groups, and was pretty much known as “the Mormon blogger” and I never contested that identity because for all of my public vitriol against our opponents (yes, including Mormons) the fact is that I’d like to see a world in which Mormons are part of (and welcome to join) progressive causes. And the only place I ever saw any raw anti-Mormon bigotry was in random comments under some of my blog posts, but never once from any of the dozens of activists I was in daily contact with. And here’s the thing, nobody from MGF or any other para-Mormon outfit ever rode in to help me push back against the intolerance. Except for Margaret Young, who I was so happy agreed to let me post a few of her things, the rest of y’all seem scared to engage with real non-Mormons who could really benefit from seeing real Mormons taking up a progressive cause for a change.
Anyway, Joanna Brooks is the best thing going right now for the Mormon image in America. I’m admittedly much smaller potatoes and much more of a mixed bag (and anyway I’m mostly not interested in writing for a larger audience except in the context of a live campaign effort). And I’m admittedly antagonistic toward the institutional church. But I would suggest that I have done less harm (and indeed more good) than the More Good Foundation. If you’re Mormon, and you’re a paranoid nutter who thinks there are vast numbers of people plotting to subvert the LDS project, it’s pretty much a given that You’re Not Helping.
For Pete’s sake, listen to that Kyle M person on this and stop defending your self-defeating tactics, MGF.
And yes, if I catch wind that y’all think you need defending against MSP or anyone here, I’ll be righteously disappointed and pissed.
Grrrr. Sorry, I’m venting again. But I might as well get it all out, so a couple more things:
When that Mormon group went to the White House, what was the takeaway? They couldn’t name a single Mormon individual or group that was working on a cause that could tie in with broader administration objectives. That should be a red flag. If you want to promote a better image for the LDS church in America, you need loudly self-identified Mormons working on high-visibility issues (and I’m not talking about SB1070 or Carl Wimmer and his pals in the Utah legislature, I mean issues that a substantial part of
non-brain-deadpolitically-engaged America cares about).
Secondly, I really hope that no friend of this blog has been personally offended by the criticism of the MDL project. I tend to veer into mockery. It’s not personal. If you want to talk about it here, that’s fine. If not, I’m gonna shut up about it now, fwiw.
It’s kind of another example of what I was talking about on this other thread. By claiming they need a “defense league”, etc., the CoJCoL-dS is painting a [very negative] public face onto their critics. And it’s hard for us to challenge that image because they have a bigger microphone than we do — despite all of our SEO genius. 😉
I’m not sure how else to respond to the MDL except by laughing at it. After all, it is practically a parody of itself. But if others disagree, they can feel free to make their points here.
And on an even-more-unrelated note, I just noticed a way that I’ve exercised female privilege! I can make an innocuous remark about someone else having a bigger microphone than mine, and not worry that people will start sniggering about it and checking out my package. 😉
Yes, but this has been the case for 15 years. Is the Church really biting its nails about not retaining its American numbers? I was a teenager who left in the 90s with the help of the internet, but there’s just as many who’ve stayed. I mean, sure, gay young adults are still leaving in flocks, but young people generally?
Also, am I right to assume that because MDL is basically FAIR v0.5, it’s not run by 20- and 30-somethings? The dissonance that the internet provides, which might in some ways actually serve to keep people in the Church, may eventually pan out to create a kind of indifference among the membership.
The next generation of Mormon protectors: “Eh, sure, the FLDS are Mormons, too. Eh, I guess you could say we’re a cult.”
And Brooks shrugs off the possibility of being disciplined/excommunicated. I do wonder just how much the GAs will tolerate these days as they weigh a response against the force of the internet. They’re happy with diversity to an extent (Hinckley in 1997: “Now we have gays in the church. Good people.”) But if people like Brooks stand above the membership boundary maintenance, there’s no one to stop them but the GAs. She has a cordial (and what strikes me as careful) tone, but then those types are the most “dangerous” in the GA’s eyes, right?
“I mean, sure, gay young adults are still leaving in flocks, but young people generally?”
Isn’t the activity rate for young single adults around 30 percent? I seem to remember reading that more than once…
Yep. Thanks for seeing that, Chanson.
The year I gave God the finger was also the year Kristine Haglund came up to me ever so shyly and admitted that she felt really close me to, because the issue of Sunstone she’d edited on women’s voices contained my essay about straight Mormon women and gay Mormon men, a topic she struggled with because her ex-husband was gay. I’d said all these things she’d never thought of, expressed all these feelings she’d been unable to articulate, blah blah blah, and would never have the courage to say herself. It was so important, so illuminating, blah blah blah, and she was so grateful to me, blah blah blah.
The thing is, the first draft of that essay was a paper I presented in a panel I organized for Sunstone 2006, and at least one gay man was as vocal in his outrage over the it as Mormon Heretic was over my Mother in Heaven panel. Sunstone is valuable in part because it’s a place where you work out ideas, and sometimes they’re rough around the edges when you first present them. One of these days, I might write an essay on how to pray to Mother in Heaven and why it’s valuable for women, and perhaps I’ll have another on how killing Mother in Heaven so she can rise like a phoenix from her ashes (because the way she is now, she’s just the fur lining that makes Mormon women go, “Oh, these handcuffs don’t hurt! In fact, they’re sorta sexy!”) is what Mormon theology really needs. (All of that, btw, is the full context of my statement about why I want to “kill Mother in Heaven.”)
The prayer to Mother in Heaven at the 2011 symposium was a very impromptu affair (I didn’t even think of it until well into the session, so anyone who says I announced it at the beginning is full of shit) but some of us have been talking about how to make it a more official part of the program–perhaps a morning devotional? I guess the MSP constituency isn’t the prime audience for such an activity, but I will say that even self-identified atheists who took part in the prayer said it was healing and rewarding to consider what was missing from and might have improved the theology they’d grown up with.
I think the GAs learned a lot from the September Six debacle, which is one reason they didn’t ex Tom Murphy a few years back. What would they gain from excommunicating Joanna? They wouldn’t shut her up or keep her out of church, any more than they’ve managed to silence Janice Allred and Lavina Anderson, both of whom still attend church faithfully. They don’t even have the added threat of excluding her from temple participation like Janice and Lavina, since she has never had a temple recommend and refuses to get one as long as her jewish husband can’t go to through the temple either.
All the GAs would do by excommunicating JB is make her a lightning rod and alienate the people who support her. I didn’t pay much attention to the whole business when John Dehlin was called in for questioning and review a few months back, but I did notice a person or two (or four?–can’t remember) who changed their facebook photos to pictures of themselves wearing t-shirts that read “I am John Dehlin.” Same thing would happen if they took any action against Joanna. Better just to let her say what she wants and act like they don’t notice – particularly since she is doing more than that damn Mormon ad campaign to make Mormon seem sane.
A number I have heard goes undisputed by official church sources is 80% departure rate, 20% activity rate for young women. Supposedly Monson himself lies awake at night worrying over this, but the solution so far is same as it ever was: remind the girls of their duty, and tell them how miserable they’ll be if they leave, how happy they’ll be if they stay.
@37 I was thinking of making a similar remark.
I’m sure the GA’s aren’t happy about Joanna Brooks speaking without permission, but — with all of the media attention on the Mormons at the moment — they would have to be pretty stupid to try to forcibly silence her. And I completely agree that she is doing more than that damn Mormon ad campaign to make Mormon seem sane.