Sunday in Outer Blogness: Intellectual Exploration Edition!
The ripples “Swedish Rescue” continue to spread! Some Europeans described their experiences with information and the CoJCoL-dS and the faithful continue to seek strategies to blame the doubters and/or head off doubt. Some Mormons have identified “Correlation” as the problem, yet seem to think the solution is to have doubters get individual interviews with unofficial apologists rather than creating a climate where open discussion is encouraged. The Tapir Times gave a historical parallel explaining the problem with this solution:
Why would they be against writing it? Seems like the logical thing to do, right? Because having an oral set of guidelines has its advantages. To phrase it gently: it is flexible. To phrase it bluntly: you can make stuff up depending on the situation, in order to best try to help those who come to you with spiritual dilemmas (or to best suit your own needs, unfortunately). But once you start writing things down, they are set in stone. You lose the flexibility. If you try to vary from what is written, people will point to where it is written and call you out on it.
The problem isn’t simply the existence of the dumbed-down “correlated” curriculum (which members have no say on), but actively preventing open discussion from going beyond it:
And then in the early 1990s something happened. Whilst I was bogged down in my PhD research, ping-ponging across the globe, independent study groups were apparently banned. That was how we heard it. We knew nothing of symposia or Sunstone. Members who had been getting together to study and talk about doctrine and other church related subjects stopped doing so. From now on, only the correlated programs were the appropriate place for that kind of thing.
And speaking of symposia that the faithful are not supposed to be participating in, Sunstone Symposium just wrapped up — I wish I could have been there!! What I’ve heard sounds great, and I hope people will post more about the various sessions! (Please feel free to leave comments here about any of your experiences at Sunstone!)
Of course, maybe the CoJCoL-dS doesn’t want open discussion because it’s issues all the way down. Some issues that aired in blogspace this past week include the increasing creepiness of teaching modesty to toddlers, what the young women are learning, the practices of the CoJCoL-dS roundly condemned by the Book of Mormon, miscellaneous discrimination, Mormonism and capitalism, Joseph’s wives, and Moroni: historical figure or registered trademark?
Not to mention the brand-new film that premiered in a Mormon temple near you!
This all leads to the biggest problem with doubt:
The intent of the site was to allow people a place to tell their stories, and get support as they figured out how to stay active and involved in the church, while not believing some or all of it. I thought maybe this would be a good place for me to figure out how to navigate the stormy waters of doubt. As I read other’s stories, however, I realized that I didn’t want to be where they were. I didn’t want to continue to be an active, albeit non-believing, Mormon. This wasn’t the place. But, there were links to other sites that seemed more fitting for my situation. And, as I read, I came to a startling realization. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to think the most blasphemous words I could have ever imagined. What if the church was not true? And I was okay?
(The biggest problem for the church, that is…)
And what happens after leaving the CoJCoL-dS? You may deal with depression or have your concerns dismissed in insulting ways. Maybe you just can’t stop tracting! Maybe you’ll wonder how to interact with faithful Mormon colleagues or tell your story (in a new book) or discover new wonder and curiosity:
When I look at something amazing, like the Grand Canyon for example, I no longer have the easy answer of “god made it.” And I find myself wanting to understand how exactly it was made.
And in community notes unrelated to Mormonism, the Overeducated Housewife is moving into a new place; others have discussed problems with righteous rants and homeschooling.
Good luck with that doubt, and happy reading!!
I was one of the presenters for the Sunstone session on “Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction.” I’m also one of the editors/contributors to the book. Putting the book together over the last year and talking about the gay Mormon experience in the Union building at my alma mater were wonderful things, I wish you all could have been with us at Sunstone!
Hi, Jeff. I’m a fellow contributor…well, if a 3-page excerpt counts. 😀
chanson, RE: the continuing anti-intellectualism fallout, what do you think will come of it?
Hi Alan. We met at Sunstone, three years ago, I think? We were glad to have an excerpt from “Ockham’s Razor” in Latter-Gay Saints. And yes, a three-page excerpt counts. 🙂
@2 — It’s really hard to say, which is part of what makes Mormon-watching so fascinating!
The direct result is that it drives away people who are different (non-conformist) and/or who have real leadership potential. But maybe the CoJCoL-dS doesn’t need ’em. It certainly fosters the growth of tons of tiny Mormon splinters, but will any of them really take off?
@1 — I wish I could have been there to meet you, too! I really enjoyed your book, and the anthology is quite impressive!
Hey chanson, thanks for featuring my Toast post! Excellent round-up of news, as always.