And remember, we’re not the only ones wrapping up 2013: Ziff did his annual round-up of funny comments from the Bloggernacle, fMh gave a fun overview of all of the main events in the CoJCoL-dS of 2013, and Wheat and Tares is in middle of their blog awards.
It would seem that these essays would serve to inform the members of the church about the issues. It would also seem that the essays could bridge the gap between those who have left and those who haven’t. However, neither of these is true because most members of the church remain unaware that the essays even exist. The church is publishing them without any fanfare at all. They just show up on a topic page on lds.org one day. No announcement is made, no press release, no reading them over the pulpit, no attention is drawn to them at all. The only way someone would know they’re there is if they go looking for those issues specifically.
Another thing worth noting is that there is no date on these essay, nor is there any name or names associated with them. You have to go digging elsewhere on the internet to find out that they have been written by a few different people and then approved by the First Presidency.
This somehow comes off as an ass-covering measure, as something official for the faithful to link to while posting “See? How dare you say we’re racists, you Anti-Mormon!” in friendly discussions on Facebook. Or to point to when someone starts feeling betrayed by the church after discovering that some “Anti-Mormon lies” were actually true.
It seems a little ill-advised in that case, though, because when someone feels like the church misled them after, say, finding out about the rock-in-the-hat thing, it somehow doesn’t help to have people say, “What do you mean, the church wasn’t forthcoming about this?! It’s right here (in this obscure reference that you never would have found by accident (whereas images of JS reading straight from the plates are commonplace)). It’s your own fault for not studying enough!” In my experience, that actually tends to worsen people’s opinion of the church. Of course, I’m biased because I mostly talk to people who ultimately left. Maybe some people react by saying “OMGosh, you’re right! How stupid I was — sorry church!”
And the other problem is that the new topics essays contradict the teachings of the LDS prophets and scriptures. And it turns out that some believers are actually not OK with the CoCJoL-dS silently allowing anonymous people to write articles disavowing LDS doctrines on the official website.
The State of Utah made a bunch of very confusing policies on which gay couples are married or not. Here are some links — see if you can make heads or tails of it! It turns out that — even though Utahns voted against gay marriage in 2004 — it looks like a substantial number have changed their minds since then. Alan Rock Waterman doesn’t think God cares much about whether people are gay. Oh, and has the guy with the hunger strike against gay marriage influenced anyone? I liked Rob Tisinai’s explanation of why this is so threatening for some people:
Spending time with gay people is pro-gay only if it reveals weâ€™re the not moral criminals youâ€™re painting us to be. Mixing gays with straights is an aggressive assault on your values only if those values are wrong!
And, yes, your values are wrong. Inviting the gay couple to join you will have precisely the effect you fear most: It will turn your friends against your beliefs. Accordingly, every good thing gay people do is aggression against you, because itâ€™s gay people who are doing it.
We’ve got a few more updates on the women-and-pants event, especially since Joanne rounded up some links with a bit of commentary. It also turns out that the guy who posted a death threat to the participants got silently transferred to another BYU campus where he can go back to comfortable anonymity. Also, some Muslim women have planned kind of a similar-yet-opposite event, inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) “to experience the hijab for one day” to foster tolerance and understanding. It’s an interesting idea, but I think it really misses the boat by failing to also invite (Muslim and non-Muslim) men to “to experience the hijab for one day.” That would be really horizon broadening!!
In random church stuff, PostMormonGirl reflected upon the effects of busywork in Mormon culture. I have to admit that this trek thing sounds kind of fun, but maybe that’s just because I never did it. And Dad’s Primal Scream published some good analysis of the problems with North Star. He has a really good analogy to explain why the advice given there is irresponsible:
Did you know that some people have survived going over Niagara Falls?
In fact the majority have survived the drop. From what I can tell, 12 people have gone over the Falls and only 5 have died. Four of those survivors to date have accomplished it without any protection!
If you want to know how to survive going over Niagara Falls go here. Itâ€™s really cool speculative advice by some guy who thinks he knows what itâ€™s all about. You can even read all about the 7 people who have done it and lived and so Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s reliable information. Ready to jump?
(It kind of made me think of this post for some reason.)
In scripture study, Philip Wells covered some of the adventures of Alma, and Molly has started her series on the Articles of Faith! But, of course, this year’s book is the Old Testament!! Andrea posted a list of references to Goddess-worship in the Old Testament, and gwesley has pointed out the fascinating development that the CoJCoL-dS is currently publishing a series of new Pseudepigrapha, pretending to be written by Old Testament prophets!! And Daniel’s OT lesson #2 covered the Book of Abraham:
Occasionally someone will actually try to figure out where Kolob is (often Sagittarius A), and I always think “Bless their hearts,” as one would with someone who’s slightly ‘touched’.
It also kind of pisses me off. That’s the problem with religious scams: the con artist makes enough off of it to last for their lifetime, but they waste other people’s time for generations. Think of all the human time and effort that’s been dedicated to baloney. Entire lifetimes.
It’s why I say that bad answers are worse than no answers at all. At least when you have no answers, you might look for â€” and find â€” a good one. When you have bad answers, you don’t.
In philosophy and theology, Thinker of Thoughts posted a cute drawing by his daughter to discuss the tension between and beautiful fantasy and a practical reality. Facsimilogos wound up going to tithing settlement, inspiring him to reflect upon the tithing doctrine.
There were a number of interesting reviews this week. Donna Banta reviewed “Dark Deception”, and AlexisR reviewed “False Prophet”. Mormon 411 watched “the God Makers”. This blog review called my attention to a an interesting fictional blog about a Mormon super-hero attending BYU. Teleste reviewed two books, plus Johnny Lingo:
After watching it, Iâ€™m honestly a little confused as to why the church still has this movie on its website. While the moral of the story is a good one â€” treating people with respect builds their self-esteem and makes it easier for them to shine â€” the delivery is, well, problematic. No one ever questions the system of measuring womenâ€™s worth in terms of cows ergo property. So it comes across as the church saying, â€œYes, women, you ought to measure your worth in terms of whether men desire you, which men desire you, and how big of a house/engagement ring/yadayada theyâ€™re willing to buy in order to secure you as theirs for life.â€
Also note that Restless Noun has put out a new e-book.
In life stuff, Heather has some great New Year’s resolutions. So Says Me is learning from horses. J G-W reconnected with an old friend and Alex has others that he wonders about. Renn got a new job, but sadly the situation is grim for long-term unemployed. So, naturally, conservatives want the government to be as punitive as possible towards those who may be thinking of turning to food stamps.
Again, sorry about the lateness of the awards — I hope everyone will get excited about them and post some nominations!! (I’m looking forward to my yearly review of what everyone did!)