Sunday in Outer Blogness: Social Gatherings Edition!

Sunday in Outer Blogness

You may have heard that people gathered recently on Wall Street (questioning corporate wisdom) — with mixed reports on how it went.

In other gatherings, some exmos got together for a drinking game, inspired by General Conference. That’s one of the offerings when you’re done watching the game. Sulli summarized the first day of conference here. It looks like the highlight was teen-to-peri-menopauseheartthrob Dieter Uchtdorf (and feeling the Spirit). Many other reports and discussions popped up in the usual places.

A couple of (possibly conference-related) themes were gay suicides raising awareness, along with the counterpoint warning of the danger of making them heroes. Also, apostates and their concerned family membersare they mentally diseased? And don’t forget the far-fetched anecdotes, the unhelpful scriptures, the strange myths, and the metaphors that kind of backfire.

Of course, there’s no reason to let the bi-annual yawn-fest eclipse cool events like banned books week and blasphemy day, not to mention people running through Salt Lake in their (non-garmie) undies. Plus the Mormon Women Project Salon, a Muslim wedding, and an Every Woman, Every Child meeting at the UN.

Then there are the personal bishop’s interview and exit stories, the almost-but-not-quite exit stories, philosophical musings, calls for input on what it’s like to be a Mormon, clever quips, and project reports.

Quite a week in all — I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and are ready for the next one!

39 thoughts on “Sunday in Outer Blogness: Social Gatherings Edition!

  1. I liked L. Tom Perry’s new rule against echo chambers (that also happens to be great advice for how members ought to always interact with others):

    Share something about your religious beliefs, but also ask them about their beliefs.

    I’m trying to remember any Mormon anywhere ever actually asking me with genuine curiosity about my beliefs on anything related to religion. I don’t think it’s ever happened. At this point, I’d be surprised if it ever did. The last thing these folks want to hear is what anybody else thinks on the subject. But, who knows, maybe they’ll step up and take Elder Perry’s instructions to heart.

  2. Wow, you clearly paid more attention to conference than I did.

    Isn’t there a policy for the Seventies that they are simply released (with emeritus status) at a certain age?

  3. I don’t know what the policy is on that. At first glance, it seemed to me like maybe they were moving some folks off the official roster in order to lower their political profile. Bros. Hardy and Marriott can both be seen at this political function: http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/party-events-pictures/archive/4745-annual-canterbury-medal-dinner-

    And I thought folks had been wondering out loud about the problems presented by having the BYU Prez also serving concurrently as a GA?

    Anyway, no biggie, but just struck me as maybe a bit of prep for Romney’s 2012 run.

  4. That’s an interesting point.

    Does anyone know whether there’s a set age for retirement of Seventies, and whether all the ones that retired this cycle have hit that age?

  5. After I started reading Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses”, I forever regretted participating in a Banned Book Week. To my cynical mind, I can’t help but think that the whole fatwa thing was a ploy to move more units of unreadably dense drek.

  6. First Quorum of the Seventy members generally serve until they’re 70 (unless their health fails them), but they can also have year-by-year extensions. Second Quorum is a five or six year tenure. I’m not sure about the Area Seventies (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th quorums). Got this info here.

  7. Just to finish up the Conference round-up:

    It sounds like L. Tom Perry’s talk (mentioned @1) contained actual good advice.

    Other highlights and interesting insights: It was announced that the 2nd coming won’t be any time soon. Also, The precise details of the anecdote aren’t important, and some people deserve more blessings than others.

    There’s nothing like Conference for bringing people together!

    More reactions: here, here, here, here, and here.

    Live-blogging: here, here, here, here, and here.

    Open discussion threads: here, and here.

    Actually, maybe Conference is getting a bit predictable.

  8. From the sidebar: That 10 Ways to Cope With a Wife Who is Forward, Decisive, Motivated? might be retitled “10 reasons I’m glad I don’t believe in the CoJCoL-dS anymore.”

    Highlights include #4 & #5: be sure to use the tools the church gives you — so she’ll remember that it’s the church that put you in charge. Especially use the temple (which she’s not allowed to discuss if she has a problem with any of it). And give a lot of priesthood blessings to your wife and kids — not because they need ’em or anything, but just to remind your wife who has the power and authority to give blessings, and who doesn’t.

    Then there’s #7, #8, and #9: which can be summed up as “be sure you’re the one that comes up with the ideas, not her”. And while you’re at it, why not hang a sign on your back that says “Manipulate me!” I’m pretty sure that if you take a course in management, you’ll learn that insisting on always being the one who comes up with the ideas is a pitfall to avoid.

  9. As frightening as that post is, it seems a natural outgrowth of the idea that God has called men to preside in their families. I’ve seen some Mormon feminists try to twist that word around to make it palatable. Generally speaking, I don’t think Mormon marriages will become more egalitarian until they dump the “preside” language.

  10. @12 Absolutely!

    His post also highlights how the priesthood affects relationship dynamics (specifically the fact that the father can give blessings and the mother can’t). He advises men to regularly give blessings to their wives and regularly give father’s blessings to the kids. Note that he doesn’t advise men to ask their wives whether they want or need a blessing. Obviously, the wife has no recourse to say, “OK, Honey, now I think you need a blessing, so you just sit down here while I give you one.” It creates a power dynamic where the father is the parent and the mother is placed in the same category with the kids.

  11. @chanson, jonathan

    I think you’re being a little hard on the guy. A more charitable interpretation of what he is saying is that men should be involved with their families and that the man should be an equally committed to the relationship and to the children. I’ve seen a lot of relationships where men just pass on all the responsibilities to the wife or do really seemed concerned about where things are going. One partner, male or female, should not dominate a relationship.

    And Jonathan, what evidence to you have that Mormon marriages are less egalitarian than non-Mormon relationships?

  12. @dpc — Jonathan didn’t claim that non-Mormon marriages are necessarily more egalitarian.

    Sure, we can be charitable, but I wouldn’t want my spouse giving me a blessing as a way to deal with my desire to be an equal partner, and I can’t imagine you’d like to be put in that position either.

  13. How many more-or-less egalitarian non-Mormon marriages would survive a temple session? I mean, imagine a parallel universe where a married couple that was investigating the church was afforded the opportunity to experience the temple before committing to baptism… Even as a kid who grew up Mormon in a full-on patriarchal home, I was shocked and dismayed going through the temple with my folks and watching my mom in that context. I would never wish that on my daughter.

    Generally speaking, I dont think Mormon marriages will become more egalitarian until they dump the temple.

  14. chino – I’ve never been a particularly devout kind of person, so I don’t think that people really think that much about any covenants that they make in the temple or that they have that much of a psychological impact. I like the thought experiment, although I’m not sure that the temple ceremony alone would be the death knell for any relationship.

    chanson – Chalk this down in the heresy column, but I think it would be pretty cool if wives could give their husbands priesthood blessings. Maybe one day.

    Plus, I think gender roles in marriage are defined less by religion than by prior family history. I’ve seen both male-dominant and female-dominant marriages in the Mormon church and I think it has to do less with religious teachings and more to do with personality and how a person’s parents acted. I think that family dynamics are tough to categorize because, like snowflakes, they are all different.

  15. I’m assuming that this guy thinks he’s doing the right thing. He’s just following his religion to its natural conclusions. Words like “preside” and the pre-1990 temple covenant that women would “obey the law of their husbands” leave little room for thinking that the Mormon ideal is a truly egalitarian marriage.

    I can’t say whether or not the average Mormon marriage is more or less egalitarian than non-Mormon marriages. I can say that if a Mormon marriage is egalitarian, it’s because they have ignored or explained away the patriarchal elements of Mormonism.

  16. I dont think that people really think that much about any covenants that they make in the temple or that they have that much of a psychological impact.

    Have you ever tried posting this theory over on one of the Bloggernacle blogs (or better — on a “Nothing Wavering” blog)? That would be a very interesting conversation that I’d be curious to read. 😉

    But seriously, I think you’re right that many people don’t take the temple seriously, yet I’m pretty sure there are many who take it very seriously.

    Chalk this down in the heresy column, but I think it would be pretty cool if wives could give their husbands priesthood blessings. Maybe one day.

    Cool, but the fact that women don’t have the priesthood is only half the problem with this guy’s suggestion. The other half is the fact that he’s specifically recommending using that imbalance to teach one’s wife about her place in the relationship.

    I’ve read so many blogs by Mormon women who feel deeply hurt by the sexist messages and symbolism in the temple, and so many blogs by women who yearn to have the right simply to bless their own children. In that context, his suggestions take something that (theoretically?) should be spiritual and profound, and turn it into something ugly.

    Then I have another, completely orthogonal objection to this guy’s advice:

    Ignore completely the sexist relationship dynamic aspect, and just read it as advice on how to be a leader. Some parts are OK, but on the whole, it’s terrible leadership advice.

    Take the part about how — if she doesn’t want to go to the temple — you should use your free evenings to go without her, to pressure her into coming along? Manipulative. A great recipe for resentment. Ditto for that stuff about how you should make the plans, not because you actually have a better plan, but simply because you have to be the one who makes the plans. If my manager at work had similar management skills, and I couldn’t find a way to get transferred to reporting to someone who is competent, I would resign.

  17. Im just going to say it. Please dont throw things. These people are nuts.

    The whole lot. Bonkers. And no, this is not just me doing my “job” as the crusty exmo, there’s some seriously disturbing Stockholm syndrome sycophantic shit going on over there.

    Edit: Wow, that was kinda mean. But even in the cool light of morning, I still don’t get the point of ostensibly progressive Mormons writing paeans to a paleobumpkin like Packer for an unremarkable talk that was a rehash of his standard themes.

  18. @20 It’s a little strange, but you have to keep in mind that these folks are watching Conference because they actually believe that those men speak for God. In that context, BKP saying something inoffensive is a cause for celebration.

    Moving on down the sidebar: I’m a bi fan of Dan Savage, and it’s great that he loves those “I Am Ex-Mormon” videos. However, w.r.t. “That’s so Mormon” — regardless of whether it may be more fair or less damaging than “That’s so gay” — Savage shouldn’t be giving the green light to any kind of bullying.

  19. point of ostensibly progressive Mormons writing paeans to a paleobumpkin like Packer

    Every Packer talk might be his last. So, perhaps people are gearing up for eulogies, and these kind of pre-eulogies are coming out.

    Haglund, I’d say, has no illusions about Packer: she’s characterized him as an old man incapable of stepping into a post-1980 world. Like Joanna Brooks who paints issues a little more optimistic than “realist” (leading some people to wonder if she’s doing more harm than good), I think Haglund is doing the same thing about a person instead of an issue. I guess I just don’t see the Stockholm syndrome in that.

  20. It seemed to me that her point was that we shouldn’t expect too much from prophets just because they’re personally called by God himself and have a special inside track on communication with him. That doesn’t mean they have any special insights anyone else wouldn’t have, or that they know more than anyone else about anything. So we should have compassion for them because of the high (and unreasonable) expectations everyone places on them.

    Which is fair enough, I guess, but it kind of left me wondering what exactly prophets are good for then.

  21. what exactly prophets are good for

    Has anyone seen anything written on progressive Mormons vis-a-vis the divine authority of church leaders?

  22. Re my Stockholm syndrome insult, yeah, that was probably uncalled for. I should’ve just wondered out loud if progressive Mormons are ever going to stop genuflecting long enough to get anything done and left it at that.

    Edit: Re prog Mos and their holy geriatricos, this recent Mormon Stories discussion with Terryl Givens mentioned how TG “believes in the possibility of even radical fallibility by church leaders”… I suspect many progressive Mormons share that belief, but they also almost all seem wary of direct criticism.

    Edit2: Which reminds me of this earlier Mormon Stories discussion about Eugene England. Levi Peterson recounted Gene telling him that the LDS leadership “treated me like shit”… It’s hard to listen to without getting upset again at the way so many Mormons who ought to know better continue to make excuses for the Brethren’s bad behavior.

  23. I suspect many progressive Mormons share that belief, but they also almost all seem wary of direct criticism.

    That was me. Mostly because of a desire not to stir up contention or commit acts of lse majest — er, I mean speak evil of the Lord’s anointed — but partly because it struck me as a little dangerous (back when the fates of the September Six were a less distant memory).

  24. It seemed to me that her point was that we shouldnt expect too much from prophets just because theyre personally called by God himself and have a special inside track on communication with him. That doesnt mean they have any special insights anyone else wouldnt have, or that they know more than anyone else about anything. So we should have compassion for them because of the high (and unreasonable) expectations everyone places on them.

    Exactly. All of her enthusiastically gushing “I love this! I love that!” is so distracting (about Packer? For this banal talk? Really?) that you might not read between the lines, where she’s essentially saying: I love that he’s just talking like a regular guy instead of trying to use the prophetic mantle to call down the wrath of God on young people, like usual.

    Which is fair enough, I guess, but it kind of left me wondering what exactly prophets are good for then.

    Right, it seems like that should be the natural question.

    It was the same in that discussion of D. Todd Christofferson’s infamous “ironing” talk where people try to excuse and explain why he might tell such a story. But the point isn’t whether you can excuse/explain his anecdote as a product of his time, the point is why are people holding this clown up as an authority, and treating him as though he has some sort of special insight?

  25. Hey, O/T, is the FLAK board down? Seems like it’s been down for several days now. Anybody know what’s up?

    Edit: Ahh, nevermind, found the answer at PostMo:

    ATTN: FLAK is going to be down for a while. The server that it’s hosted on underwent a massive Denial of Service attack today… it can be accessed temporarily here: http://69.195.105.244/

  26. lol, thanks. 😉

    Also, I’m glad you linked to the I am a Holy Being of the Almost Final Period. Wilfried Decoo makes some excellent points:

    To refer to the Church in daily communication, nine words is still much too long. All churches are referred to with a simple adjective: Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Greek Orthodox , even if their official names are different and much longer. Pragmatically, a short moniker to identify a church is unavoidable. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not yet offered a simple solution to this quandary, while rejecting the one easy name Mormon Church that has been used since the 19th century, also by Church leaders.

    But then there is the contradiction between, on the one hand, the desire to be viewed as Christians, to see the Church accepted as a Christian church, and, on the other hand, the uncompromising assertion that it is THE Church of Jesus Christ, the only one that can claim His name, as often stated.

    Plus there’s a whole list of additional points about the CoJCoL-dS’s schizophrenic practice of using the term “Mormon”, then telling everybody not to use it to describe the members of the CoJCoL-dS, and then telling everyone that “Mormon” should especially not be used to describe anyone other than the members of the CoJCoL-dS…

  27. Ballard’s talk was rubbish. And so was the commentary from “Curious” under Wilfried’s post. A more appropriate anonymous internet handle for that drive-by commenter would be “Inquisitorial”… Anyway, Decoo was very gracious. If it was me, I would’ve responded by recounting the various names that Jesus’ restored church tried on for size in the early days before settling on the oh-so-handy CoJCoL-dS.

    Or maybe I just would’ve dropped a link to this recent post at Wheat & Tares: Q&A with Elder Bednar

    The second stage of [Bednar’s] response was that we dont see what goes on behind closed doors. That as soon as any of them go out and visit places and start to feel like they are cool, they return to the Quorum where they are soon put in their place. He then told us what it was like being in a meeting with the rest of the apostles. He described them as speaking very candidly, forthrightly, directly, and boldly, that everyone expressed an opinion and that they often disagreed in a strong manner on certain points. He told an interesting story about when Elder Scott was made an apostle. The candor and directness of the discussion was so intimidating that Elder Scott avoided making a comment for the first three months. During one of the early meetings the intensity of the discussion was higher then normal, and a fellow apostle passed him a note saying: welcome to the quorum; we play hard ball here. I did try to ascertain what things they disagreed on; the best I got was things that concern the membership of the church.

    It was refreshing to hear that in meetings at the upper levels they are free to disagree. I had always suspected this to be the case but to hear it being said was encouraging. Elder Bednar also spoke about how, even though they spoke directly and with conviction (a nicer way of saying they disagreed strongly), none of them were trying to prove others wrong or to contend with each other. None of them were doing it to gain respect or validation from others but out of a sincere passion to do what was best for the church and was right in the eyes of God. It is a shame that this knowledge of the internal discussion and disagreement that constitute the mechanics of church meetings is kept from members. Perhaps if members knew then it would result in a more healthy attitude towards leaders, rather than a Mormon version of papal infallibility.

    Oh well. Ballard is going to get away with burdening the membership with his rearguard whining and Mormons won’t call him on it because culty commenters like “Curious” won’t let them.

  28. Ha, I usually just scroll past those sorts of comments, but now that you point it out, it’s almost kind of funny:

    I am very genuinely wondering what the purpose of this post was. What are you trying to accomplish?

    Perhaps it was not your intent to do so, from where I sit you seem to systematically go through and write down all the reasons why what Elder Ballard said to us in his capacity as a special witness of Christ, speaking to the world in His name, during General Conference on His behalf, actually has no idea what he is talking about.

    What could you possibly be thinking, ordinary mortal, criticizing a talk by an apostle? What do you think you’re doing, using all this logic and evidence that do nothing more than make the remarks of an apostle of the Lord look silly?

  29. lol.

    It’s funny how subversive it is for a member of the CoJCoL-dS to give clear and reasonable arguments showing that something an apostle said (in conference, no less!) is wrong or foolish. I can hardly think of anything the church leaders would consider more threatening than that.

  30. Well, apparently, it’s also potentially subversive and threatening for a faithful blogger to write a glowing review of an apostolic visitation to his homeland.

    Check out #15.

    Ultimately, I probably need to make peace with the fact that post-conference mo-blogging is gonna invariably push a few of my buttons as the membership works through its semi-annual burst of gooey culty goodness.

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