A few days ago, I was discussing with someone over Terryl and Fiona Givens’ recent firesides slash tour of England, where they have talked about (among many things), The God Who Weeps. I’ve written some of my thoughts on The God Who Weeps and Givens’ other recently popular efforts (I’ll summarize by saying these works have not exactly impressed me), One of the main things is that (HT: Nietzsche) to love is to be vulnerable…thus, to love infinitely is to be infinitely vulnerable. God infinitely loves, and thus is infinitely vulnerable. Cue weeping.
Anyway, someone suggested that if “God” were too weird a concept to handle, we might instead replace it with the “environment,” for in our modern understanding — even our modern, supposedly agent-deprived, secular understanding — most people still understand the environment in a similar way that people in the past understood God. In another comment, the person said:
“We don’t understand the environment (god). It is powerful in ways we cannot predict or control (viz. the recent tsunami). It is also incredibly vulnerable to our thoughtless abuse (viz. pollution, which exists and causes problems that are visible whether or not one accepts anthropogenic climate change as happening in any specific way, i.e. via measurable causal relationships existing predictably between known variables).
The environment is at once incredibly weak and incredibly dangerous, and its outcome in particular instances remains unclear (while I can be certain I and every other living thing will die, I have no way of reliably predicting how or when).”
This week’s weekend poll at Wheat & Tares asks, Has the Bloggernacle Run Its Course?
My issue for this poll is that I simply cannot pick one of the two options. The poll question: Is the death of the ‘nacle imminent? (choose the answer you feel best applies)?
And the poll answer options:
1) No, the ‘nacle will continue to reinvent itself: new blogs, fresh voices, new topics, and there is always more progress to discuss.
2) Yes, the topics of the ‘nacle are simply recycled and rehashed ad nauseum. People eventually quit reading, and we are running out of audience for these tired topics.
The reason I can’t pick an option is not because I believe neither option is the case…but because I feel that both are true, at least in some sense.
I was listening to an episode of Mormon Stories from 2010 — the one where Dan Wotherspoon interviews Randy Snyder and Tyson Jacobsen about atheism.
Anyway, I only have finished the first episode so far (I’m listening as I drive to and from work each day, so it’ll take me weeeeeks before I’m through it), but late in the first part, Randy says:
“Basically, the way I describe it: when I was a true believing Mormon, it was like i was in a small little box, and I was afraid to look around the world outside the box…(snip)…once I got out of that box…the roof of the box opened up, and I saw this whole beautiful universe that I had yet to explore, and there was all this knowledge out there, and when you get rid of all the cognitive dissonance associated with trying to make Mormon theology and Christian theology fit the rational world and the natural world…everything comes into focus, and now I’m free to follow the evidence wherever it leads me. And it’s a fascinating and exciting journey.
[snip]…to me it was freedom that was so appealing.”
Now, plenty of people have done research on the similar constructions of ex-Mormon deconversion narratives to Mormon conversion narratives — check out Seth Payne’s paper and Rosemary Avance’s presentation for starters. But I’ll say that the commonalities I find in Randy’s “exit” narrative and others’ religious conversion narratives is striking. Read more…
A few weeks ago, John Dehlin posted some status about religion — or, to be more precise, about those who criticize religion. The details aren’t super important, but for this post, what is important is that a bunch of people freaked out, and so John tried to delete/hide/undo the drama, which only caused more drama. After a point, John decided that he really needed to study for finals, and so he deactivated his Facebook account.
This predictably caused more drama.
There was some conspiratorial thinking about John’s absence being a direct result of being muzzled by church leaders, and there was more drama. At some point, I decided to lay out what I see as the (rather predictable) John Dehlin Drama Life Cycle:
JD’s behavior is pretty predictable — you don’t need to implicate conspiracies with priesthood leaders or whatever. I’ll run it down for folks who haven’t seen the cycle.
1) John posts something that ends up controversial (usually inadvertently)
2) People flip the heck out.
3) John tries to delete/undo/rewind/reverse the controversy
4) People flip the heck out.
5) John tries to repost/restore/redo/correct the post sans controversy
6) People flip the heck out.
7) John goes on radio silence/total shutdown.
8 ) ??? (I mean, “People flip the heck out”)
9) John comes back in xxx days/weeks/months on his own.
We are, of course, in step 8.
Notice what a great thing of beauty this cycle is. If I didn’t tell you that this was written in response to some FB status from April or whenever, you might think it describes that one time that John temporarily shut down Mormon Stories. You might think it describes the one time that John Dehlin shut down Mormon Matters (from which Wheat & Tares reincarnated like a phoenix from the ashes, and Mormon Matters became a podcast again.) You might think it describes…yeah, so many possibilities.
Sooner or later, I’m going to write about how it seems that fame so often comes with misfortune like this, but for now, I’ll point out that for that last event, we already passed into step 9 and now we are back into step 1, moving onto 2.
What’s the latest drama? John has decided to repurpose the Mormon Stories Podcast Community Facebook group.
Yesterday (and today) have been interesting days. I noticed earlier last morning (like, 2AM early), that around 7 of my friends had changed their profile pictures to a pink-on-red variation of the Human Rights Campaign’s equal sign logo. It seems that as with sports and holidays (“March Madness” does not seem real to me…and I had to google just to confirm that it is pretty much happening right now. I completely missed St. Patrick’s Day whenever that was), I am also living under a rock when it comes to politics — I know the Supreme Court would be hearing cases on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, but I didn’t know when.
Well, the profile pictures clued me in.
The main reason today has been interesting is because so many people I know have shown their support for marriage equality/gay marriage/same-sex marriage.
Like, I am aware that my friend group is assuredly not a random sampling (let’s put it this way: I have the greatest number of friends in common with John Dehlin, followed closely by Joanna Brooks. After a gap comes my own brother in third place.)
Nevertheless, the 7 early birds ballooned out to a much larger number…I haven’t counted them all, but here’s one thing I’ll say: I’ve seen several Facebook discussions where every commenter has a red equal sign.
Is it so strange that support for gay marriage/same-sex marriage/marriage equality has spread so quickly?
Sorry for the unwieldy terms here…but that gets me closer to what I wanted to talk about today. What do we even call this?
J. Max Wilson has written a couple of posts critiquing liberal believing Mormons. (Well, he has written more than a couple of posts, actually, but these are the latest few). This time, he addresses it from the vantage point of Mormons rejecting present leadership by hoping for future revelation (hat tip to chanson for cluing me in to JMW’s criticism of Latter-day Saints who live in the future.
He has written a follow-up addressing prophetic fallibility.
Just to quote a bit from his latest post:
The whole point of having a prophet in the first place is that a prophet is a metaphorical “watchman on the tower”. While his eyesight may be just as fallible as anyone else, the tower upon which he stands provides him with a view superior to those with equally good eyes but who are not situated upon the tower. His view is better not because his eyes are superior but because his location on the tower allows him to see farther and more; not because of something inherent or different in his person, but because of something inherent in the position in which he has been placed for the protection and benefit of all.
This analogy is fun, because I notice a pretty big issue here.
I finally got around to posting my latest blog article at Wheat and Tares, If your morality is fragile, do handle with care….
The basics of this post are that it was supposed to be a quick followup to my previous post at Wheat and Tares, which was a partial transcript of John Dehlin’s interview on Mormon Stories and A Thoughtful Faith. (This podcast episode drew a lot of discussion at Main Street Plaza, by the way.) The basics were simple: many folks suppose that when people leave the Mormon church, they become (or have the possibility of becoming) immoral. My response was such: 1) I don’t think that really happens, 2) there are some parts of Mormon morality that should be challenged, and 3) to the extent that some former Mormons legitimately do become immoral, this really says something about the way the LDS church teaches moral reasoning.
One of the comments made me think of something entirely different, however. Read more…
My LDS interest internet is collectively rejoicing, and I would say for good cause. The LDS Church has released a new edition of the English scriptures in digital format. As its comparisons page makes note of, this is the first major set of changes since 1981. And read that last line there — rather than making silent, imperceptible changes, the church has explicitly produced a guide comparing before and after. Here is a PDF of the side-by-side comparison of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Papers project has a summary of explanations and notes that the support for the changes will be supported in two forthcoming volumes from the project. This is definitely showing the incredible fruit of the Joseph Smith Papers project.
Emily Jensen covered just a couple of the major changes — introductions to Doctrine & Covenants Section 132 and Official Declaration 1 (on polygamy) and Official Declaration 2 (on blacks and the priesthood). Blair Hodges posted on Facebook that he would be covering all changes in the standard works in a blog post today, so I’ll add that link when it gets there. The point is…the actual changes will be covered by many bloggers (see Paul Barker’s quick commentary on OD2 at Rational Faiths) of far greater stature than myself — at least when they wake up — so instead of trying to beat people to the punch on getting the news out, I just wanted to offer a few thoughts.
In September, I wrote that I saw plausible deniability and ambiguity as being a change strategy for the church. How does this hold up here?