Sunday in Outer Blogness: Books Edition!
There was a bit of a convergence of book posts this week! Adam Lee reviewed an LDS-interest book that I was not aware of — I need to get a hold of it. Knotty reviewed one of our MAA Books: Sacred Road. And did you know that John Gustav-Wrathall wrote a book? Then there was my review of Johnny Townsend’s new book. Other books I plan to read (when I’m not too busy drawing, learning German, designing Lego sets, etc.) include It’s Not About The Sex My Ass and The Lost Book of Mormon.
One would expect a historical essay to discuss what we know, but in this case the emphasis is squarely on what we donâ€™t know, or at least what the LDS church says we donâ€™t know. In discussing Fanny Alger, recognized by some as Smithâ€™s first plural wife, the essay states, â€œSeveral Latter-day Saints who had lived in Kirtland reported decades later that Joseph Smith had married Alger, who lived and worked in the Smith household, after he had obtained her consent and that of her parents. Little is known about this marriage, and nothing is known about the conversations between Joseph and Emma regarding Alger.â€ The second sentence leaves open the possibility that Joseph obtained Emmaâ€™s consent before marrying Fanny and ignores testimony from others who say Emma was outraged when she discovered the relationship. Most of the essay follows this pattern of carefully worded statements that are superficially true but give a misleading impression.
Even the faithful would like the CoJCoL-dS to make it clear that it wasn’t OK for Joseph Smith to pressure 14-year-olds to have sex with him, instead of claiming it was all God’s fault. Of course, blaming Joseph Smith for that stuff would lead to some credibility problems.
So the faithful have hit upon a new solution: “Pastoral Apologetics”! This apparently amounts to giving up trying to explain or even apologize for Mormonism’s “issues” — just focus on how wonderful it is to be Mormon. This was illustrated by Adam Miller’s Letter to a CES Student, which — despite the obvious reference in the title — has nothing to do with the famous CES Letter. Andrew S. isolated one of the big problems with this approach, namely that the experience Mormonism offers is actually harmful/hurtful for a lot of people. I wish I could link directly to some of the comments on Adam’s post, but let me at least quote one representative one:
What if Mormonism IS the poison arrow? For women, Mormonism requires a perpetual second-class status. For Native Americans, the Book of Mormon obscures the true history of indigenous peoples behind a mythology of â€œfilthy and loathesomeâ€ Lamanites. For LGBT people, Mormonism engenders self-loathing with the requirement of celibacy or mixed-orientation marriages. For part-member families, Mormonism demands the exclusion of families from temple sealing ceremonies and eternal separation from those loved ones who refuse to convert. For African Americans, Mormonism requires the belief in a God who punished them for the sins of their â€œancestor Cain.â€ The list goes on and on. Mormonism is the poison arrow. Once we remove that arrow, the healing can begin.
I have only one beef with Andrew’s response:
Unfortunately, Adamâ€™s last post got picked up in the disaffectosphere, so many disaffected Mormons also gave their criticism.
In what sense is that “unfortunate”? The title of the letter implied that it was directed at the disaffected, and the “disaffectosphere” made some excellent points. I think it is only unfortunate if we assume that open letters from the faithful to the disaffected are not actually meant for the disaffected, hence it’s inconvenient/annoying for the faithful to encounter responses that challenge the narrative that they’d like to project onto us.
Meanwhile, Kate Kelly is still excommunicated. Yep, the church’s gender problem isn’t going away any time soon (despite baby steps). On the bright side, here in Outer Blogness we have a real-life case of a woman who was ordained to the priesthood of the CoJCoL-dS:
This leads into other questions. Since I was ordained as an Aaronic priesthood holder and am legally female, does that mean I can bestow the priesthood on my other spiritual sisters? (Yes, I know the church has very carefully avoided addressing transgender issues on a deeper level.) Will I be male or female in the Celestial Kingdom? Donâ€™t forget the ever popular, â€œAre you sure having a harem with eternally pregnant wives is actually how I want to spend my afterlife?â€ If they answer yes, Iâ€™m going to remind them that atheists offer a much better deal.
Also, the closest thing to a canonized latter-day revelation that the CoJCoL-dS has produced in years — was it actually taken from an amicus brief filed by some lawyers?
In scripture study, we get to learn all the crazy that went into the definition of the word “jeremiad,” including some questionable sexual metaphors. The latest “Every Jot and Tittle” commandment was an equally disturbing image from the OT: Circumcise the foreskin of your heart. Not to be outdone, the Book of Mormon offers some fab parenting skills:
While it’s totally reasonable for a parent to wish one of their children had some of the better qualities of another child, it’s not at all reasonable to open a heart-to-heart talk with that sentiment. Alma basically begins with, “I noticed you’re not as awesome as your brother. Why can’t you be more like him?” Corianton probably tuned out right away and I don’t blame him for it at all.
(I think modern parenting is better.)
OK, enough heavy stuff — it was Halloween! It’s fun for all, and it’s great because there are no mandatory emotions! …Except pretending to be afraid. Plus you have to put up with Christians distributing Bible verses with the candy… Well, I guess nothing is perfect.
I hope you had a fun Halloween and a fun weekend! Happy reading!