Let’s Get Over Mormon Digitarianism

I’m done. I’ve felt noble long enough. I took a look in the mirror and realized, lo and behold, I’m the self-righteous, judgmental one that fusses over every politically incorrect misspeak uttered in Sunday School. If I don’t tweet it, then the world won’t know that I, though a Mormon—which I use as if it’s a disclaimer—separate myself from the stereotype; a stereotype I’m probably propagating with my tweet. There’s a double-edged sword there. So many of us have talents, wits and observational wisdom that we can put to good use if we think about it. We don’t like insular religions? What about Facebook group binging with insular, like-minded “Hubbers?” Don’t say you haven’t done it. I’m an observer and participator of so many of those Facebook groups: Mormon Stories, A Thoughtful Faith, The Mormon Hub, Liberal Mormons Support Group, (Support Group??!) and on and on. So while I’m calling myself out, it’s not something I, alone, do. But I get it. It’s cathartic; it feels good. It’s refreshing. Sometimes I get tired of self-righteous double standards…from others, obviously, not my own. I get sick of culture bashing in the name of “building bridges,” and would rather seek out a community where I feel like it’s easier for me to belong. Then, sure enough, an article comes along, some controversy du jour, even sometimes a piece of art (looking at you Jonny McNaught) that rubs me the wrong way, and maybe I’m not quite done in sticking up for my contingency in the broader Mormon culture. But then I think about 4th Nephi, and all this “no manner of –ites” business, and suddenly I am more mindful of the broader Mormon culture outside of my liberal corner, and things get, well, confusing. For every time someone like me screams, “why do all the traditional Mormons keep telling me to join another church?!” How often are we secretly, and unknowingly waiting for another church, or at least another faith culture of our own? One without “those...

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Lying for the Lord?

  The LDS Church is currently engaged in a systematic and officially endorsed effort to misrepresent some of its teachings to the outside world. This is not a new phenomenon.  As far back as the Nauvoo period, “Joseph [Smith] publicly and repeatedly denied he was advocating polygamy” while simultaneously marrying upwards of thirty women.[1]   But attempting a similar feat in the age of the internet is a dicey proposition. Mormons Don’t Get Their Own Planet? I am referring to a recently released essay on the LDS Church’s official website titled “Becoming Like God.”  While the essay should be commended for affirming that “divine parentage includes a Heavenly Mother,” such an admission cannot make up for the Technicolor prevarication in a different paragraph where it is claimed that “few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet.” As an active member of the LDS Church for over 35-years, this is news to me. A caricature is a “comic exaggeration.”  I am surprised to discover at this late date that the teaching I have personally heard and read on numerous occasions, that faithful Latter-day Saints will eventually have “their own planet,” is a “comic exaggeration.”  It is not an exaggeration at all, comic or otherwise.  It is a fact, plain and simple. The Church first ventured into this field of revisionist theology about a year ago when it published answers to frequently asked questions.  This is found on the official LDS website in the Newsroom section, which the webpage banner proclaims is “The Official Resource for News Media, Opinion Leaders, and the Public.” One of the questions that is apparently frequently asked is, “Do Latter-day Saints believe that they will ‘get their own planet’?”  The answer given to this by the Church is simple and straightforward, if somewhat unexpected.  The answer is, “No.  This idea is not taught in Latter-day Saints scripture, nor is it a doctrine of the Church.  This misunderstanding stems from speculative comments unreflective of scriptural doctrine.” Just to make sure I...

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Mar 15, 14 #doublestandard

Posted by in Featured, Modesty, Mormon Humor, Mormonism

  BYU recently held it’s Pro Day where NFL scouts come to watch players. It looks like things started out well, but eventually all hell broke loose and we had football players in underwear. I mean sports attire. I’m not sure what they were thinking posting those pictures. They know that women and kids would see these pictures of men in form fitting and almost no clothing.  And these aren’t just any men, but very attractive men. We women didn’t even stand a chance when these images assulted us in our Facebook feeds. These images may stay with us for years and could even lead to bigger problems like pornography addiction. Seeing extremely attractive and fit men leaving nothing to the imagination is a mere stepping stone into that dark and dangerous world. These men need to try harder for us because we just cannot control how we feel when we see them dressed like this. #impurethoughtsabound    #leavingeverythingtotheimagination #mormonpornforthemodest #livingrightonthefield #ryangoslingtomodestmormongirls #allmenaresupposedtobebeautiful #lustingafterhim #womencanthelpit #nomatterwhatyouwear   #wearingashirtisnotunreasonableforparticipation #orshorts #strippingimeanstriplingwarrior #askingforit #hairlust #mormonporn   #wearingashirtIStotallyunreasonable #shortstoo #mengetthewomentheydressfor #makingmesin #noselfrespect #avertthineeyes #hemakesittoohardtostrivetobepure #cannotunsee #entertainingthethought #thoughtsareseedsforactions #notjustaskingforit #demandingit #garmentfriendly #couldtakemetothetemple #leavinglittletotheimaginationthough #formfitting #thebodyismeanttobeattractive #thankyouforhighlightingthatwithyourpants #totallyleavinghimanoteinthelibrary #notestingcenteruntilhechanges #exercisepantsmustbeloosefitting #wanttotouchthehiney #modestishottest #itakethatback #thisishotter #runningporn #toosexyformyshirt #tryingtoseehimasachildofgod #singingassistersinzion #singingmakesthebadthoughtsgoaway #notouchdownsplz #dressingforthekindofwomanhewants #Idontknowwheretolook #bareshoulders #sexualshoulders #havemercy #largeinstature #toeingtheline #byunipples #pleasedontchafeandruinthisforme #Icantcontrolmythoughtsaroundhim #noticingeverythingabouthim #totallynormalforwomentodo #protectingmyvirtue #tacklingmodesty #eldercallistershomeboy #proofthatyoucanreasonablydothisactivitywithmodestclothing #iwouldtackle #imsurehehasbeautifuleyes #andasweetspirit #imagininghisthighsimeaneyes #tryingtokeepmepure #baremidriff #helloabs #whereiseldercallister #byufootballmademegay #thankgoodnesshehasgloveson #priesthoodpower #BYUfootballmakescougarsroar #meow #winkface #riseandshoutthecougarsareout #greatandspaciousbuild #toobeautiful #freegame #bromance #byumendosportsinunderwear #halfwaymodest #soclose #icantbelieveheworethat #noshortsnoproblem #notheyaresportsattire #mayaswellbewearingunderwear All pictures  used were found on BYU’s Football Facebook...

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New Year’s Resolutions: Breaking Bad

If books like Not Even Once Club are any indication, we Mormons hold ourselves to some pretty strict standards.  As I’ve mentioned before, we often forge these standards as weapons and use them against each other.  We create a picture of what a good Mormon looks like, and judge each other based on these standards. One example of this is the arbitrariness of our rated R movie standard.  Let me be clear, I think there is value in not watching media that is not uplifting.  And I think much of what is out there can be the exact opposite of uplifting.  Things that would harrow up the souls of men and cause unnecessary sorrow. (See Mormon 5:8-9).  But using rated R movies for this standard is both archaic and arbitrary.  Archaic because, while it maybe once upon a time was useful, with the advent of the internet and technology there are much better ways of judging whether or not a movie is worth seeing.  Arbitrary because the rated R standard is only relevant in the United States.  Movies that are rated R in the states for some reason or another are often rated the equivalent of PG (or even G!) in other countries.  By which standard should Mormons in those countries measure themselves? It seems unfair that members in Canada can enjoy the fabulousness that is The King’s Speech, but members in the United States cannot. But, alas, we are so passionate about our rated R rule that we pretty much treat others who view rated R movies the same way we treat porn addicts. Another obvious example of this is the Word of Wisdom.  We’ve applied so much more to D&C 89 than is actually written on the page.  For one, it isn’t actually a commandment. (see verse 2) For another, our interpretation of it has changed so much over time, it becomes a fairly arbitrary standard.  And, as we Mormons are prone to do, we often taken it way, way further than...

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As I Have Loved You…

We were all abuzz in the bloggernacle last week when Meridian Magazine published Joni Hilton’s “Are You a Liberal Mormon”. Such a fierce and vehement reaction  (even from Meridian’s faithful readers)  forced Meridian to take the article  down before the day was over (although you can still read it HERE.) Much of the reaction seems to be over the use of the word “liberal”.  Mitchell has clarified that she wasn’t talking about political affiliation.  I believe her—I think she would have been better served using the words progressive or unorthodox, but that doesn’t make the article she wrote any less horrible.  It was judgmental and hateful. And I think there is a lesson we can take away from her article and the reaction to it that is much more important than pointing out all the ways in which she was wrong in that piece – so I’m not going to do that. I just want to point out that she used a lot of standards that seem to be benchmarks for her idea of righteousness.  The Word of Wisdom, Sabbath Day observance, church attendance, callings, dress standards, movie choices, and more were used as weapons against those who didn’t fit her mold. In his talk, “The Love of God”, Elder Uchtdorf said, “there are so many ’shoulds’ and ’should nots’ that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of ‘good ideas.’  This was one of the Savior’s criticisms of the religious ‘experts’ of His day, whom He chastised for attending to the hundreds of minor details of the law while neglecting the weightier matters.” This is the pharisaical mistake that Hilton made, to a damaging degree. But the problem is much bigger than one author...

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Lesson Notes on “How can I help others understand my standards?”

Oct 29, 13 Lesson Notes on “How can I help others understand my standards?”

Posted by in Featured, Sunday School

These are some brief notes I put together for my youth Sunday School lesson using the theme How can I help others understand my standards? Paul asked me to put them up here in case someone else finds them useful. Open by reviewing the experience Al Fox (the “tattooed Mormon”) had on her first trip to Utah. Discuss: What did the man in line do wrong? What could he have done instead? Why would Al Fox’s (presumably) LDS friends warn her that she might not fit in living in Utah? Do we have a poor reputation in tolerance? Soap box: briefly introduce the idea of religious pluralism and the increasing need to learn to get along with those of different standards and views. Briefly discuss what it means to be self-righteous and what effects it can have on others (and on oneself). “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 Discuss: What does this scripture have to do with the lesson theme? What are the characteristics we are supposed to have when being an example?  Role playing Put forth several scenarios that involve a difference in standards and an opportunity to explain them. Show an example of a poor communication attempt, ask the kids to critique it, then get someone to demonstrate a better communication attempt. One of your friends only wants to watch PG- or G- rated movies, but everyone else wants to see the latest PG-13 blockbuster Same scenario, except now you are the one who is uncomfortable with PG-13 movies Your parents let you watch a certain TV show and your friend is over, but his parents don’t him watch that show Same scenario, except now you are the one whose parents don’t let watch the show Your Muslim friend believes that females should cover their hair, otherwise they are being immodest You are being invited to the party of the...

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The Problem with the Layman Confessor

Sep 06, 13 The Problem with the Layman Confessor

Posted by in Featured, Mormonism

(This post was co-authored by my husband, William John Silverman, Jr.  This is something he and I have discussed together at great length, and the words here are a joint effort.  You can check out William’s bio on our guest blogger page.) Let’s talk vulnerability.  Most moments of vulnerability come when we find ourselves in a position to open up to someone, in other words, to place our trust in someone. When we expose secrets (whatever they are) about ourselves to someone else (whoever they are), we put ourselves into a vulnerable situation. That vulnerability is, to some degree, a cultural construct that comes from centuries of conditioning that resulted from harsh judgment, penalties/punishments, ostracism, and even the simple fear of what that other person, or anyone, might now think about us. In the church, members are encouraged to take advantage of the atonement. We appreciate that focus, but are often befuddled by the innumerable roads men and women have taken to find the peace which only forgiveness brings. This is where the vulnerability comes in because the policies of the church require us to have a confessional with our bishops (and sometimes stake presidents) depending on the degree or severity of our transgressions.  We see these men as our judges in Israel and so the deciders of our worthiness.  And this process totally goes down like a box of chocolates because you never know what you are going to get.  You can get a kind, loving bishop who handles you with delicacy—or you could get a judgmental bishop who makes you jump through unnecessary hoops until he deems you worthy again.  We’ve all heard ample stories from across the spectrum.  This is especially a problem for the youth of our church, and maybe even especially for girls.  William, by his own admission, never voluntarily confessed anything to a bishop as a youth until he faced specific questions from his bishop.  While he was mostly a good kid, he had his share of indiscretions. ...

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Unfailing Love

Aug 22, 13 Unfailing Love

Posted by in Agency, Faith, Faith Crisis, Featured

  Two days ago I stumbled upon the Mormon Messages video, “Mountains to Climb”. It came to me on a day when I was on an emotional edge after reading a fictional story that brought many emotions I felt after the loss of my twin sons to the surface. The tears fell as Elder Eyring spoke words that touched my heart. : “Many of you are now passing through physical, mental, and emotional trials …I wish to encourage those in the midst of hard trials who feel their faith may be fading. … The Lord has promised, ‘I will not forsake thee.’ Curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. …  His love is unfailing.” As many “movements” in Mormonism have come under broader recognition, I feel like there is a lot of criticism and polarizing going on. We are eager to shame those who we feel are “disobeying” or bringing attention to things that they struggle with. I see a lot of closed hearts instead of love and understanding. One of the statements that I have seen and heard personally is of the refrain, “if you don’t like it, then why are you even here? Why don’t you just leave?” Many say these words out of frustration. They don’t understand how truly complex the situation and some of these issues are for many members. They don’t understand how a person can dislike so many things and still want to be a part of it. Emile Durkheim, who is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology (Wikipedia), stated that religion differs from the private belief in that it is “something  eminently social”. Religion is intertwined in our lives and relationships with our families, and sometimes in our friendships, community, and even our workplace. It is complicated and far reaching. For most Latter Day Saints, being a member of The Church is a giant piece of us and our identity. Being a...

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What We’re Reflecting

Mar 24, 13 What We’re Reflecting

Posted by in Charity, Featured, Modesty

What We’re Reflecting By Heidi Doggett At first I didn’t know what to think of her–this visitor who, when asked what we could do to get inactive members to come to church, stood up to make a long comment on the importance of smiling at everyone. Her words rolled forth; casual, warm, and unhurried. Something you could wrap yourself in. And her smile, well-worn into the creases around her eyes and mouth, bore out her words with sincerity. I’ve experienced love offered as advance payment; usually from people at church who I can’t even name. Maybe, they think, if I insert enough smiles and handshakes and cookies, I’ll get a toy surprise in return. And it will be filled with socially acceptable sweetness and regular church activity. This woman saw love as an element, like air, to be given without qualification and received as a necessity. The more I listened, the more I could see it pulsing inside her, shedding true light on whoever she saw. I marveled. When the teacher asked what we could do to set a good Gospel example for people outside the church, the answers generally came as follows: 1) Dress appropriately. 2) Don’t drink or smoke. 3) Don’t watch R-rated movies. Now, I’m no great scholar, but I know that the Mormon church claims Christ as its head, and I know that the only time Christ mentions dress in the scriptures, he isn’t preaching the exactness of hemline as an eternal doctrine. The beauty of Jesus’ life and teachings is not found in a checklist. I’ve scoured his teachings for this chart people seem to be using that illustrates what righteousness looks like, and what it eats and drinks, how it decorates its house and what hobbies it should choose. For all Christ’s trouble, this is what defines us? A righteous shave, and a righteous orange juice with our bacon and eggs when the guy next to us is ordering coffee? I asked the teacher whether we shouldn’t live...

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If your pants are too tight…

Recently in the news we got a little taste of a “Mormon moment” when on Valentine’s Day a male BYU student passed a note to a female student declaring that she was immodestly dressed and should think about how her appearance was affecting others. I’m sure he was just trying to do his duty as stated in the BYU Honor Code to “encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code”. Right? Well, she took a picture of the note he wrote along with a picture of what she was wearing at the time (you will love the floral print), and the story caught fire and even ended up on the home page of Yahoo. Why did it cause such a stir? Because there was nothing scandalous about her attire. At all.  Just months ago we had another “Mormon moment” at the BYUI testing center over skinny jeans (that weren’t really skinny jeans) where a testing center employee (an employed student) told a female student that she couldn’t take a test because her pants were too tight. Read about that one here. In both incidents it is important to point out that it wasn’t BYU imposing judgment, but students. Let’s try to get a sense of where the complainants are coming from. First, the testing center flier posted in the testing center at BYUI: “If your pants are tight enough for us to see the shape of your leg, your pants are too tight. If we can see the shape of your belly button, your top is too tight.” It goes on about “form fitting clothes” and blah, blah, blah (read the whole thing here). Toward the end you get to the really good stuff where they invite students to go home and pray about it and “recommit yourself to be a true disciple and abide by the Honor Code that defines your commitment to be a disciple” – a real gem there! Next let’s look at the precious Valentine’s Day note...

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