Sunday in Outer Blogness: Judging each other edition!!

This week hosted two big kerfluffles! First there was Joni Hilton’s piece in Meridian Magazine on “Liberal Mormons”! It was so offensive that Meridian Magazine actually took it down, but John Dehlin came to the rescue and posed a cached version so that you, too, can personally experience the outrage, in case you missed it. And here are some great responses!

Then Kyle Pederson wrote an unfriendly letter to Dallin Oaks, who sent him an unfriendly response. This wouldn’t be news except that Kyle Pederson posted the exchange to the Internet for everyone to comment on. Here’s my favorite observation:

Still others are wondering why, when the Church regularly receives far more reasonable and well-considered complaints from faithful Mormons about all manner of issues, this is the protest that gets a response at all. It’s an excellent question. Are extreme positions the only ones that will be taken seriously by Mormon leaders?

For example, I wonder how far this reasonable letter will get?

In other random judgments, fat-shaming trick-or-treaters, the fashion police have taken over the Student Review, do you know what your butt looks like?, a pro-Dutch-gay-Mormon-marriage post is taken as “hate speech” by comment #3, and people who don’t have kids are apparently a bunch of free-loaders (though evidence suggests that pressuring people into stuff like marriage and kids they’re not ready for doesn’t promote stable families).

In life journeys, James R. Birrell discussed one reason it is hard for the apostate to go back while Andrew S presented an interesting analysis of why the orthodox members would like the fringe members to stay. Both Molly and M discussed dealing with death without religious faith. Jill asked how thinking style correlates with belief in God. Jen has re-evaluated the virtue of pride and Dad’s Primal Scream has done the same for the vice of niceness.

I want to promote this Latter-day Seekers movement because I think it’s a good option for a lot of people who leave the CoJCoL-dS but still want to be part of a church community. However, John’s latest post again leaves me asking Can you please make a positive pitch for why people would want to join your movement, instead of more jabs at those who aren’t interested? Of course, being as I got into trouble last time I tried to make that point (plus it would mean I’m ironically being all negative and judgy myself), I was going to ignore it. But then this lovely post from Knotty showed up in my feed this morning, demonstrating that it’s not so hard:

I see value in churches… but the value I see is not in worshiping God. It’s in making social contacts and enjoying music… sometimes, depending on the church you attend, you may get some wisdom in the form of a sermon.

I would probably go to church if I were on my own… Bill is now turned off of organized religion and has no desire to attend services. I’d rather be with him than go to church. But the church I would attend would no doubt be the church I was raised in, because as churches go, it’s pretty laid back and traditional. And since I have so much Scottish ancestry, it’s also heritage.

See, that actually makes church sound tempting, if I didn’t already have some other communities I’m busy with. Ren also gave a very positive pitch for Mormonism:

In my first or second meeting with the missionaries, they asked me to read aloud 2 Nephi 2:25.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

I was flabbergasted. This was so diametrically opposed to the theology I was raised with – worshiping out of fear, begging for mercy. To think being here was a Good Thing was a revolutionary concept. And while these days I’m agnostic about whether it was a choice made in a pre-existence or that’s just a creative story, I’m certain that we should have joy. That verse made sense to me. It was life affirming.

Unfortunately, she was totally contradicted by a popular faithful blog this week:

Life is not for us to enjoy the pleasures and blisses that are occasionally proffered us. Instead, it is a military academy or a monastery, where we learn to be like Christ by following his path of self-denial.

Jesus fasted 40 days and nights, prior to beginning his ministry. He ended that ministry suffering through torture, beatings, humiliations, and crucifixion. What was his call to us? Take up our crosses and follow Him.

Then, in really bad stuff, there’s sex abuse ( <-- disturbing story) covered up by the church. Also, an atheist was kicked out of BYU (and evicted). Folks, I can’t warn you enough — they can and will throw you out without giving you official transcripts to get credit for the classes you took (but interestingly, they won’t refund you tuition for the classes they take back). If you have a choice, even if you’re a believer but just a little “liberal”, don’t go to BYU.

In this week’s grab bag, banning technology for the wrong reasons, Georgia state parks get some new Bibles, fun vegan recipes, more nuttiness from the Book of Mormon, and a philosophical question: “When did the right to own a firearm become more important than the right to a reasonable expectation that when you walk out the door in the morning to go to work some out-of-control jerk isn’t going to gun you down?”

Sadly, I didn’t see any new pics of people dressing up as mishies for Halloween — but it turns out that Halloween isn’t the only holiday this season. The high-chair travelers have introduced us to the customs of Dia de los Muertos and Diwali!

Oh, and the I am an exMormon video series is back!!! Have a great week!


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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9 Responses

  1. Ren says:

    Me, contradicted? A first! hahaha Well, if life only affords someone pleasures and bliss occasionally, I’d say they’re doing it wrong. =)

    I love the post over at the Exponent II about letter to SLC about heavenly parents. Unfortunately, it probably won’t get a response. While mothers on earth are revered, acknowledging a heavenly one would be problematic to the patriarchy for multiple reasons.

  2. chanson says:

    @1 It was a funny coincidence, actually. That other post showed up in my RSS reader just a post or two after yours. It also highlights the difference in attitude between the liberal and conservative Mormons, and how the scriptures are varied enough that it’s not hard to find support for opposite conclusions.

    I agree, that letter will probably be ignored, unfortunately. It really is a small thing that they’re asking for (if it weren’t for the fact of being problematic to the patriarchy).

  3. Holly says:

    Jana’s blog post is nuts. This, for instance:

    Was Elder Oaks’s reply patronizing? Probably. But how could it not be, given the tone that the original letter-writer set in accusing him of all manner of hatred and bigotry? Who wouldn’t respond to such a nastygram with profound irritation?

    It’s one thing to disagree with LDS leaders, and to speak plainly and pointedly about the reasons why. Such discussions can elevate our people’s reflections about important issues. I have no problem with any Mormon writing an open letter expressing dissent on any topic; the more transparent our discourse, the better. Bring it on.

    But we do not call each other horrible names, or blame total strangers for the deaths of children. We focus on issues, not personal attacks. We behave like grown-ups.

    I know she’s read the Book of Mormon, so what’s she going on about? It starts off with brothers calling each other names and blaming each other for the deaths of (yet unborn) children. And the story continues that way to its bloody and terrible end.

    Calling an entire society, “ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people,” is actually calling them horrible names. But it’s OK because God told Samuel to do that? And those who receive such a nastygram are just supposed to say, “Oh, hey, you’re right! Thanks, righteous right dude [cuz it’s always a dude], for pointing that out!”? They can’t react with profound irritation?

    Saying “heavy destruction awaiteth this people [because of their sins], and it surely cometh unto this people,” is blaming the deaths of children on complete strangers. But that’s OK because God told Samuel to do that?

    Calling people horrible names, accusing them of the vilest wickedness, telling people that they’re the children of the devil and going to live with him forever, and blaming total strangers for the deaths of children, is at the basis of LDS ethics and concepts of righteousness. Labeling all humanity “carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature” is what the most “righteous” among us do as their job. It’s the sacred duty of BOM prophets to call people horrible names and to blame total strangers for the deaths of children. And the subsequent irritation of those so labeled is not proof of their humanity and normalcy, but of their hard-heartedness and evil.

    But the prophets are the only ones who get to engage in name-calling–because they’re righteous…? Because when they call names or blame others for the death of children, they’re simply speaking the truth…? That seems to be the defense: a prophet is entitled; no one else is. His incivility is actually quite civil–but woe to any who speak to him as he speaks to them! For others just like him have said, and he himself has said, that he is called of God to name-call and to blame strangers for the deaths of children.

    DHO can and must blast others as evil and call them all manner of awful names, because he has claimed to be a prophet, and others who came and spake before him just as he has done chose him to be a prophet after their own manner and their own hearts. And Lord knows, it never happens that when men get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion, so it’s not possible that DHO is in any way led astray by his own prejudices and weaknesses, and no one should ever call him on it, or speak to him the way he speaks to others.

    Not that DHO qualifies at a “total stranger”: he is known to us through his many talks and the biographies published about him.

    It’s the children he makes miserable who are “total strangers” to that insufferable blowhard.

  4. chanson says:

    @3 That is a good point. I hadn’t thought of that — I kind of picked up on that point that I quoted and skimmed the rest…

  5. Holly says:

    to answer Jana’s question of why Oaks answered this letter and not others: Kyle Pederson got a response from Oaks because he dared to speak to Oaks the way Oaks speaks to everyone else, and Oaks had a conniption fit. He absolutely couldn’t bear any sort of “turn about is fair play.” He has the right to call others wicked, but absolutely no one has the right to turn that label back around on him.

  6. Heather says:

    I was talking to my believing member friend about Kyle’s letter, and she agreed with him (Kyle, not DHO). These leaders who claim to represent Christ, why can’t they just be nice? It’s about time that someone called them on the carpet about how the things they say have a negative effect on innocent people.

  7. Alan says:

    Are extreme positions the only ones that will be taken seriously by Mormon leaders?

    Fascinating question! In this particular case, I think I can explain why Oaks would respond. I don’t think it’s so much the “extreme” position that grabs his attention and solicits a response, so much as a certain issue pressing on the mind.

    Oaks, I would say more than any other apostle, has been in the business of trying to wed Mormon doctrine with the existence of homosexual attraction for many decades. In the 1980s he single-handedly convinced the rest of the quorum to adopt the attraction/behavior distinction (before that, policy on the subject was muddy; there was a general “sin” of homosexuality while Spencer Kimball literally watched gay pornography to “understand” the temptation). In the 1990s Oaks wrote the policy and “same-gender attraction” became standard Church phrasing. The rest of the history (the Church vs. Gay Marriage) we know all too well, and I wouldn’t doubt if it was mostly Oaks’ idea to do the Prop 8 thing with a kind of Cold War mentality … a fear of a gay domino effect. The Church’s strategy backfired, and I’m sure that still burns.

    Btw, if we thought the Church was done in the marriage fight, let’s look back to the debate in Hawaii where the marriage wars all started in the mid-1990s. It seems the Church is quietly involving itself after being hush-hush the last few years (b/c of Mormon investments in Hawaii).

    Anyway, so when a member writes that Oaks is a “bigoted homophobe” that causes young people to commit suicide after all the work he’s done on this issue, I can understand why he feels “very sad.” So very sad that he has to vocalize how sad he feels. But since Oaks is likely to become the prophet at some point, he should get busy forming a new paradigm rather than wallowing in past missteps.

  8. Just Jill says:

    Reading the supportive comments to Rame’s post about DHO’s rant from the bully pulpit just makes me so sad. Every time there is a little forward movement and I think… maybe, just maybe the LDS church leadership will listen to the voice of the members and change their stance on ‘gay behavior’… boom it turns out the members are listening to their false prophets.

    I need to go read something more uplifting now.

  9. Just Jill says:

    So the stories of sexual abuse and cover up by the church are not more uplifting. :\ You did warn us.

    A while back I read a book (a bit disturbing but so revealing) that goes into detail about a lawsuit against the church over sexual abuse. “The Sins of Brother Curtis”.

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