Sunday in Outer Blogness: Season for the reason edition!

Sunday in Outer Blogness

Yes, earlier this week, we celebrated the National Day of Reason, and now today we celebrate the handwringingest holiday on the Mormon liturgical calendar: Mother’s Day!!

Let’s have a look at this year’s rendition of this yearly spectacle:

If you have all the mothers stand up to receive a gift it’s salt in the wound for the childless/single; so you have all women stand, but what’s the age cut off? 18? 16? I heard one ward gave cookies to every girl in the ward (including Primary) because they will one day be mothers. (sigh) Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of showing gratitude for mothers?

And even worse, as I said last year, it gives the message that if you’re a woman and not a mother, then of course you must feel bad about it — you should feel bad about it. Mormon girls are given the message that motherhood is really their only important function. At least there are some empowering images of women.

It’s been an interesting week for observing Mormon culture (and trying to make sense of it). A mission president blogged about his love of exact obedience (the worst law of heaven). Ren discussed how Mormons’ “perfect family” image can hinder families from getting help for problems. Alex responded to a well-meaning but misguided attempt to defend the church’s claims without demonizing those who struggle with them. Another Utah-based MLM failed and stiffed the investors. STDs are on the rise in Utah.

But the most telling/disturbing bit of Mormon news this past week was of the Sunday School teacher who was released for using the church’s official essay on race as a source. So, for all of you who were wondering whether these anonymous essays meant more honesty/transparency from the CoJCoL-dS or whether they’re just another deniable P.R. fig leaf over the embarrassing issues, I guess you have your answer. You’re supposed to stick to the pablum:

Then one of them mentioned a boy in his class who “asks deep questions.” “Yeah,” the other said, “I have a kid like that in my class, too.” I was curious what would be considered a “deep question” for a ten-year-old boy. One of the boys, I heard, lived with his grandmother. Another came from a troubled family.

Neither man really described the questions these boys had asked. But one volunteered how he had handled it, which consisted of redirecting the boys’ attention to what was in the lesson manual and/or by singing a song.

Apparently some leaders of the CoJCoL-dS are teaching that freedom from being criticized is an integral part of freedom of religion. Of course, ignoring and trying to cover up legitimate concerns is a problematic strategy:

In the church we indicate our sustaining by verbal affirmation in private interviews and by raising the right hand in affirmation in conferences and meetings. Interestingly, most members who do not feel inclined to sustain or grant consent commonly vote with their feet.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints boasts a total tally of members to be above 15 million strong. What is not commonly discussed is the fact that more than 10 million of these members of record do not attend Sunday services or participate in church activities or pay tithing. In essence, a clear two-thirds majority of members are voting with their feet; these two-thirds do NOT sustain the church leaders in word or in deed.

There were some interesting exit stories and interfaith exchanges like this discussion of the temple ceremony changes:

I was taken aback because I didn’t expect her to elaborate about it. I was telling her that people in my generation (20s and 30s) don’t really know about it and in 40+ years it’ll be like it never happened because nobody will have first hand accounts. She was totally fascinated by that idea for some reason. Maybe it was her feeling like she had inadvertently shared a piece of family history that she was proud, but ashamed of.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

Just this past Sunday I went to a “Donut” night at a members house. My wife has been bugging me for months to come along. They do it every fast Sunday evening. I explained that this was all about church members and all that. But she insisted I come. So I finally did. And the looks I got. It was almost funny. Two minutes into the door I see the lady of the home pointing to me and talking to one of the missionaries who was there. It was awesome. Let’s just say I felt less then welcome in this community.

Or maybe you’ve seen reviews like this one:

This book is not about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints nor its members who have not practiced polygamy in about 150 years and who have distanced themselves from splinter groups that try to practice polygamy. The difference between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and these polygamous splinter groups is like night and day despite what the bigoted prejudices of some people would fool you into believing.

Tanner77 might have a legitimate concern if the book claimed to be about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints*, suggested that the church practices polygamy today, or didn’t take pains to differentiate it from polygamist splinter groups such as the one that Joanne and her husband joined.

In Gospel Doctrine this week, we learn about some of Jesus’ worst advice and theology. The EJ&T project has finished counting and moved on to organizing the commandments thematically.

In church history, we have Mormons in Nazi Germany, some info on the witnesses against the Expositor, and a chronology of Ezra Taft Benson‘s politics.

How about that Supreme Court case? The case against gay marriage is on its last legs:

First of all, his use of the term ‘pro-marriage’ is an instance of a persuasive definition. Since both sides of this debate place high value on marriage, it is misleading to label one side ‘pro-marriage’ as that makes it seem that the other side is against marriage. When an argument uses a persuasive definition, it is an instance of the persuasive definition fallacy.

Second, Monson claims that our letter’s argument “is designed to marginalize” those that oppose gay marriage. Monson then promptly contradicts himself, saying that this is true “even if this is not the intention”. Apparently, Monson believes that design can happen unintentionally. (I wonder what implications this would have for the Intelligent Design movement.)

In the arts, Diane Tingen has new songs, and David Tweede felt the spirit while producing beautiful images.

In other random stuff, the Hugo reviews continue! And Knotty has gained insights about how social media changes our relationships:

It amazes me how the Internet, and Facebook in particular, has changed the way people interact with each other. Twenty years ago, you could have friends from different walks of life. You might know someone from church and another person from school. They might never interact just because they both know you. They might never have a reason to. But on Facebook, your friends can end up mixing with disastrous results.

Wow, another weekend gone! At least I got in some good relaxing, gardening, and leisurely reading in addition to the usual housework and homework. I hope you’ve been having a good weekend as well. Happy reading, and happy Mother’s Day!!

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