Sunday in Outer Blogness: The Empire Keeps Striking Back Edition!

Another blogger has been threatened with excommunication! Kirk Van Allen criticized D&C 132 and was told by local leaders to delete or modify the post, or else! (Don’t miss FAIR’s 31-page rebuttal!)

In addition to that story, Nearing Kolob has been doing some really interesting investigation into the changes in the missionary iPad program:

they want to teach missionaries how to protect themselves from pornography while they are on their mission, so they can know how to avoid it when they go home. They are focusing on working inside – out…changing the hearts and minds of the missionary, which will them help them use technology during and after their mission.

The reboot has been titled “Repent, Refresh, and Restart”. I am guessing that translates to “Learning to use anonymous proxies and incognito windows” considering the CoJCoL-dS’s talent for information control.

In gender, The Exponent has been doing a series on how to counter female invisibility in the church. See this advice. Women are getting silently deleted in surprising contexts.

The Meg Stout saga continues with a challenge and analysis of her algorithm, plus a personal example illustrating the use of evidence. And Runtu has started posting some primary-source transcripts about polygamy and sex.

L. Thomas posted a personal list of reasons why “the middle way” sucks:

Church leaders don’t want you to talk about “doubts” or new beliefs you have developed during a faith transition. Make no mistake, while the Church has released statements that it’s okay to doubt, they’ve also said that you’re not allowed to try and convince others of your point of view. You may think that your new belief is beautiful and based on the scriptures, but if you share any of those beliefs too broadly you could get accused of apostasy, which is an excommunicable offense. Because Mormon Doctrine is never actually defined you never know when a belief of yours is going to be on your local leaders’ no-no list. I once bore my testimony in church about how I had experience with being discouraged about the church at times, and that if others had any problems they could talk to me. My bishop called me into his office and asked if I was trying to start an apostate group.

In other Mormon-land news, Free BYU just sent over 230 third party comments to the NWCCU, will be reviewed as part of BYU’s accreditation renewal in April — I contributed one myself! Then we have new hymns, good questions, a snarky response to John Dehlin’s appeal, advice for those with TBM spouses, Mormons having fun, nevermos having Mormon fun and adventures in cognitive dissonance:

Therefore, despite knowing that the church was true and that dinosaurs existed…I blamed this seemingly unreconcilable conflict on the unreliability of science. It also caused me to buy into ridiculous LDS apologetics to explain away the dilemma… the false apologetic idea that dinosaur bones had been parts of other worlds…gathered together during the earths creation. This is why they existed…they never actually had lived on our earth…but had lived on an alien planet who’s part had been used by God to form our own earth. As bizarre as it seems now…I was taught this in Seminary and Sunday School and sadly I believed it…why? Because the church was true god damit.

B. Hodges wrote a few confessions to people who’ve left the church which Andrew S appreciated and analysed.

In scripture study, take the Bible quiz on whether you are just and righteous and whether you want to be. And the Book of Mormon’s math doesn’t add up:

My question is how much wine did Laman have? In order to get every last Lamanite guard drunk enough, there would have to have been a lot. Laman did have an unspecified number of men with him (how, exactly, did the Lamanites not notice they were white?), but there’s no mention of whether any kind of vehicle or beast of burden was present to transport the alcohol. I find it hard to believe that these “escaped prisoners” would have walked all the way from Bountiful each carrying a barrel of wine.

Also, the New Testament has some questionable stuff:

Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
11:3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

It’s a bit odd that John seems uncertain about Jesus. He was supposedly present for the baptism and the dove and the voice from heaven, so you think he’d have made his mind up somehow… oops, unless those things were later insertions like so much of the New Testament.

Till next week folks — watch out for the excommunicator! 😉 And 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. visitor says:

    Anyone care to bet that the “more capabilities, and more memory so they can be more effective with [missionary iPads]” includes to-CoJCoLdS-order filters á la Scientology? Buying those iPads in bulk certainly offers an opportunity for The Brethren and their IT minions.

    I wonder if anyone who has access to one of those MTC iPads would be interested in the experiment of googling “CES letter”.

  2. chanson says:

    @1 According to Nearing Kolob’s sources, the mishies are going to have to provide their own iPads. They might be required to buy them from a church source — that was not clear from the above links.

  3. Holly says:

    Meh to bhodges and his attempt to articulate his sorrow. It’s still a display of how Mormonism warps and retards healthy emotional responses. It’s all about the emotional incompetence and illiteracy engendered by the church’s disapproval of anything that smacks of “disobedience.”

    You can be sad when a good friend takes a job in another state and moves away. You can be sad that you can’t go to parties at their house anymore. You can be sad that you can’t just go to lunch together. You can tell them, “I am going to miss you so much.” If you do it right, it won’t hurt their feelings–it will reassure them that you value them.

    But what you also do if you’re a good friend is help throw them an awesome going-away party. You wish them bon voyage, you express every hope that this move will bring them happiness and prosperity. You promise to keep in touch, and then you actually do it. You like their photos of their new house and posts about their new job and are glad to know that they’ve made new friends.

    And the friend who’s moving away gets what you’re feeling. They see the mix of your personal loss and your happiness and hope at this new opportunity in their life. They believe that you really do wish them well and trust them to make decisions and take actions that will foster their well-being. They probably still miss you too. They’ll probably be glad of a chance to go back and visit you, and they might encourage you to come visit them–without anyone feeling that you both have to live in the same city for the relationship to continue.

    You don’t worry that you can’t say anything at all about this move, because if you do, they’ll think that you’re sad they’re moving away from the one true city, that you are convinced they’ll be completely miserable in their new home, and that you believe that, whatever you say to the contrary, in their hearts they’ll know they’ve made a huge mistake they must someday correct.

    You don’t console yourself that the inarticulation you feel so bad about is at least better than what you could do, what they’re expecting you to do, which is get all hurt when they discover that their new city is AWESOME and send them a message about how you know that deep in their hearts, they recognize the superiority of the city they moved away from. You won’t console yourself that at least you’re not one of the people telling this friend that enjoying their new life makes them “anti-old city” and is deeply offensive to everyone who used to know and love them.

    This is the flip-side of passive-aggression. However articulate and understanding he may be in real life, in this post, instead of being unable to tell someone he’s angry at them, bhodges tells us how he is unable to tell a loved one that he has complicated emotions, both because he doesn’t know how to express that complication and because he fears they won’t have the capacity to understand it.

    That’s one reason to be happy for people when they leave the church: they suddenly have a much wider range of emotions available to them, and they get to hang out with a lot more people who are more adept at expressing and interpreting emotions.

  4. Holly says:


    I hope my friends and family who don’t share this particular belief [that all of us are so much more than our church membership or lack thereof] can understand it as flowing from unfeigned love, and that they know my love for them isn’t contingent on their relationship to my church.

    His love for others might not be contingent on their relationship to his church, but his acceptance of them sure is, as he demonstrates right here:

    More than with grief, however, I try to relate to them with hope. Not just hope that they’ll turn around and choose the right and make it back, but that whatever they do, they’re in the hands of a loving God whose plans for them are beyond the reach of my own vision.

    Hard to believe the sincerity of that hope about the God whose plans exceed his own limited vision when he leads off with his hope that people will turn around and come back and states explicitly that in order to “choose the right,” they have to do go back.

    He doesn’t get that his fundamental condemnation of others’ choice to leave is at the root of all this suspicion and distrust they would feel were he to express his “sorrow.” He doesn’t get that they would be right to distrust it–because, in this post at least, he still reveals a belief that their choices are inferior to his and that he has the right to believe that–even as he insists that he really feels something else.

    They may get the impression I feel bad for them because they aren’t living life the way I believe they should. Any pity on my part can feel judgmental and misplaced—especially considering the fact that someone who leaves the church can still live a good and happy life.

    fyi: telling people that you “hope that they’ll turn around and choose the right and make it back”? That’s judgmental.

    That’s why people would have no interest in hearing about his “sorrow” and why his hope is just as insulting: they’re still all about the belief that not living as he does is to choose the wrong–even as he protests otherwise. The mix of condescension and personal dishonesty just holds no appeal.

  5. chanson says:

    @3 & @4 That is a really excellent analogy and an excellent point.

    It’s very possible (indeed very common) for non-religious people to be judgmental about the beliefs of others. But it’s true that one nice thing about being an atheist is that I don’t have to believe that theists are endangering their eternal salvation or even their happiness in life.

  6. Holly says:

    @5: I’ve said something similar to religious people I disagree with: “Yeah, I think you’re wrong, and foolish, and deceived. But at least I’m not so arrogant as to believe that the most powerful being in the universe agrees with me and will eternally deprive you of happiness and privileges because you’re wrong and foolish and deceived.”

  7. Holly says:

    Check this comment out:

    I empathize with many of your thoughts here. However, many of those I know who have left the Church have done so as a result of their intellectual wrestling with truth claims. While their transition away from the Church was painful, and persists in its cultural and familial difficulties, they “seem” quite confident in their rejection of the Church and genuinely happy to have left. As their stated reason for leaving was that they could no longer believe in something so ridiculous, when I am around them I feel as though they perceive me to be an idiot for still believing. Or further, there is a sense (sometimes stated overtly) that I will eventually come to my senses. So I confess to avoiding them. I am confident that they feel as though I have judged them to be wicked, that I feel sorrow for their soul, that I think they are secretly suffering, that I am fickle in my friendship. Such is not the case. In truth, I simply find them to be insufferable.

    So, people who think they know better than you are insufferable.

    What special adjective should apply to people who not only think they know better than you, but send teenagers out into the whole world to knock on your door and persuade you just how much better they know than you?

    At least Turtle Named Mack should have no problem understanding why anyone who’s not Mormon would avoid him and all other Mormons.

  8. chanson says:

    @7 Wow! So close to encountering self-awareness, and yet so far…

  9. visitor says:

    re #2

    Yes, I guess who they buy them from or if there is a requirement concerning that would be the issue. But this statement from the church news still concerns me. “The missionaries will be asked to buy their pre-configured iPad minis…” (emphasis mine).

    We all know iPads come with operating software and a few apps but who among us refers to that as a “pre-configured” iPad? So what could that mean?

    As I originally suggested maybe one day someone with on of those missionary iPads will attempt to google “CES letter” and tell us what the result is.

  10. chanson says:

    @9 Aha, I missed that bit! I agree, I’d be really curious to see what this special configuration entails…

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