Sunday in Outer Blogness: Doctrinal Jello Edition!

I learned an interesting thing this past week in the comments of Reddit: Apparently the General Authorities of the CoJCoL-dS are discouraged from keeping journals. Why? Well maybe this tale of one of Joseph Smith’s revelations getting edited before canonization may shed some light on it. In other news of of the church’s mania for avoiding a paper trail, one of the two sentences informing Denver Snuffer that his appeal was denied was the instruction that the local leaders were not to give him a hard-copy of the refusal letter.

Some argue that the church is simply trying to discourage the spread of speculative doctrines like the (folk?) doctrine about who can and can’t have sex in the afterlife or that stuff about where the “Lost 10 Tribes” are hiding or this particularly creative one about antediluvian cloning technology. But I contend that discouraging members from discussing theology openly at church encourages these speculations to flourish unchallenged through private conversation. It would be cool for the church to encourage interesting discussions of the “White Horse Prophecy”. David T reported that the CoJCoL-dS has started releasing essays on a handful of church issues, but is it too little, too late?

Speaking of church issues, the CoJCoL-dS has a completely different “Law of Chastity” for gay people (like one of the Zelophehad’s Daughters bloggers who recently came out). The sexism is objectively measurable as well as being sharply felt by kids despite some efforts to compensate. (Remember that sexism is a problem to be addressed outside of Mormonism as well.) Also math.

In personal stories, the tale of Heather’s journey continues with the story of her romance with her husband. Knotty recounted the time her MiL invited her husband’s ex to the family Thanksgiving Dinner. Therese told a fascinating and human story of an interview she once had with a former Nazi soldier. And the Anarchist Soccer Mom wrote a beautifully poignant piece on old wounds, and how Joni Hilton’s piece on “Liberal Mormons” reopened them:

I was out of practice, and the dress, with its slippery fabric, gave me fits. Unable to put the zipper in, I conceded partial defeat and modified the design for buttons. I cut myself more than once and bled spots of bright red blood onto the white fabric.

And I cried as I stitched the seams together. Because the truth is this: I did not want my daughter to get baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While I still consider myself culturally Mormon, I no longer identify with the church’s teachings, and I fear that they can be especially toxic for bright young girls.

But baptism is what my daughter wanted (and no eight year-old should face the sort of social stigma she would endure if she didn’t).

Many brilliant Mormon and post-Mormon bloggers have done a better job than I could of articulating my own existential angst at the thought of my daughter’s baptismal covenants. Sitting behind her (I was not permitted to sit beside her) was one of the most agonizing moments of my entire life. Talk about NOT feeling the Spirit! Still, I smiled through the ceremony, shook hands, and got through the day. Because that’s just what you do, and it wasn’t about me anyway.

I think the loss of community is probably the biggest loss when leaving religion. However — as Daniel argued in his review of the Sunday Assembly and as the above story illustrates — community isn’t always positive. It sometimes encourages a very real “small town mentality” in which grown-ups’ social experiences are dominated by petty rules enforced by junior-high style cliques. There’s something to be said for a vagabond’s education.

Outer Blogness saw some reminiscences this past week, including advice to one’s younger self, what happened 50 years ago, plus a reunion that wasn’t harmed by differences in faith. And the Bloggernacle is celebrating its 10th birthday!

In general issues, we have the scientific consensus on GMOs, the (im)possibility of overhauling the Constitution, and people who need healthcare,

And in fun stuff, Froggie has posted a number of recipes (somehow this isn’t how I pictured Butterbeer — maybe I should submit my own recipe). Sister Christensen gave some advice on making your prayers more powerful (and if it’s for something important — like football — you may need to take more drastic measures). And the Abbottsville Fourth Ward Relief Society Book Club has chosen some possible books for next month.

It’s been a fun week — happy reading!!


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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10 Responses

  1. Donna Banta says:

    As always, your column is as entertaining as ever. But that link to the pre-flood genetic cloning/Children of the Corn theory will have me smiling for days. Thanks for posting these!

  2. knotty says:

    Thanks for another entertaining post! I just wanted to clarify that my mother-in-law did NOT invite my husband’s ex wife over for Christmas. My delightful mother-in-law would never do such a thing. What happened was that my husband’s TBM ex wife invited herself to my husband’s father and stepmother’s home for Christmas. Then she invited us to join her there for the holidays, so my husband could see his kids. I didn’t really go into what actually happened in that post because I’ve written about it a few times and linked to the original story in the post.

    The mother-in-law referenced in my post was from a Dear Abby column; I was commiserating with the letter writer, who was upset that her husband’s mother had invited her abusive ex boyfriend for Thanksgiving.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  3. visitor says:

    I have heard a considerable number of incidents where people were given important news that was bad or controversial orally by third parties and then refused the documents it was read from. The impression I’ve gotten is that it’s pretty standard operating procedure in the COB culture.

    Being a non-Mormon my reaction the first time I read of it was that it was outrageous not mention pretty slimy conduct. Today, getting close to a decade later, I think I’d try to say that in a more palatable way (or not) but, when you get right down to it, there’s a spinelessness and lack of integrity that’s stunning coming from a religious body much less one that purports to act in direct communication with god. It screams that they don’t have much confidence in their ability to justify the positions they’ve taken and, consequently, refuse to be pinned down. It’s hard to pretend that god would endorse such a practice when he gave the commandments to Moses on stone plates that anyone could read and examine.

    Things like that and insisting on converts being baptized before they’re fully indoctrinated into the beliefs and practices make me wonder why people don’t run in the opposite direction. Above all, one would expect scrupulous honesty from a church and its leaders, no?

  4. Just Jill says:

    I have learned so many things today; two of which are what all the letters in LGBTQIA stand for and what Cisgender means.

    It’s tough keeping up but thanks to all your hard work Chanson I’m managing okay for a 54 year old XMOLA (ex Mormon, Lesbian Atheist.)

    xoxoxo and happy 10th birthday to the Bloggernacle!

  5. chanson says:

    Thanks, all!!

    @2 Sorry! I sometimes kind of simplify in the links, and I make an effort to keep the details accurate, but don’t always succeed. Thanks for the correction! 😉

    @3 Weirdly, this is the thing that bugs me the most about the CoJCoL-dS.

    @4 I still don’t know what all the letters in LGBTQIA stand for, but I’ve known about Cisgender for a long time. XMOLA = very cool new acronym!! 🙂

  6. visitor says:

    Doesn’t strike me as weird, chanson. What strikes me as weird is that people accept this behavior! They wouldn’t in business. They wouldn’t in a court. They wouldn’t in government. They probably wouldn’t from their next door neighbor but they meekly put up with it from a church. AS-TOUN-DING!!!

  7. chanson says:

    @6 By coincidence, an new post just appeared at T&S, praising the GAs for not giving definitive statements of doctrines, and telling people they’re lazy if they want answers:

    In this sense, I think it’s quite plausible that official theology is intrinsically opposed to the Mormon conception of priesthood authority, which must operate “without compulsory means.” Of course it’s impossible to make a perfect binary division between core essential doctrines (e.g. that there is a theory of atonement) and formal, authoritative theology (e.g. this is the official theory of the atonement), but the principle remains important. And, as a direct result, it’s possible to have incredible range of diversity within the Mormon faith community on key doctrines. There’s a fairly large and generous range of neutral territory, even if the exact boundaries of this safe zone are hazy and indistinct.

    More than anything else, however, the stubborn refusal of General Authorities to weigh in authoritatively on every issue is a vital stand against the human tendency to seek the path of least resistance.

    If the GAs were to stand up in conference and say, “We will not authoritatively pronounce on doctrines outside of the ‘Correlated’ topics, so you are welcome to discuss and publish your theological speculations among yourselves, and you won’t get excommunicated for it,” then I would totally agree with the author.

    Interestingly, the author admits that the GAs give the message that there exists one true and correct theory of atonement, but that they won’t tell people what it is….

  8. Alan says:


    a completely different “Law of Chastity” for gay people

    Yeah, this is true, but it’s difficult to get many straight members to see it/admit to it.

    The conversation often goes like this (G means gay, S means straight =D):
    G: “You can hold hands with someone of the same-gender, but I can’t if it’s in the context of a same-sex relationship. That’s a double standard.”
    S: “No, it’s not. We both can’t hold hands with someone of the same-gender in the context of a same-sex relationship. That’s one standard.”
    G: “So, you’re saying that the attraction itself is a sin? Because hand-holding is not a sin.”
    S: “No, the attraction is not a sin. Acting on it is.”
    G: “But the action is holding hands. For me, that’s a sin, and for you it’s not. Double standard.”
    S: “No…” *provides more and more circular reasoning that only makes sense if everyone in the world were straight*

  9. chanson says:

    @8 True.

    It seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to understand, though. Straight members are encouraged to form romantic relationships, and these relationships are considered “chaste” but church standards if the participants are either married or not having sex. But, as the linked writer explains, simply being in a romantic relationship with her girlfriend period is considered to be against the “Law of Chastity”. That’s very obviously a double-standard.

  10. Alan says:

    @9: Actually, I think you have to go into a specific action to demonstrate the double standard, because of logic like this:

    In my opinion, where your thinking is flawed is you believing the law(s) is given singly to individuals without any relationship context. But a careful observation of the law reveals quite the opposite. The law is given in context of how a man AND a women should and should not interact sexually with one another. We are to have no sexual relations with anyone (including ourselves), or with any thing, EXCEPT with our husbands or wives. There isn’t a straight law and a gay law, there is A law of how men and women should sexually interact with each other and everything else is prohibited. The law is not just for you and me, it’s for US as opposites. It’s a subtle but crucial detail that is explicitly presented in the temple.

    Thus, the same-sex romantic relationship period is of course a double standard from our perspective, but from these TBM perspectives, that’s a misinterpretation of the law…hence, the need to go into specifics, I think.

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