Twilight of the Conservative Mormon Group Blogs

Things are out of balance. While one side of the socio-political (and faithfully orthodox) divide waxes ever more prominent in the online Mormon world, the other side wanes, wasting away, evaporating into nothing.

Consider the position of some of the most notable conservative Mormon group blogs from recent years:

  • Real Intent launched in 2012 with more than two dozen great bloggers, including some widely known names, and produced some intriguing and even powerful posts. However, after publishing a total of seven items in the years 2015 and 2016 combined, they have yet to post anything since then.
  • Orson Scott Card created Nauvoo Times and seemed to have hit on an easy success formula: not only did it also have a roster of admirable authors, many of the posts were merely reprints from the authors’ home blogs–constant content should have been a simple thing. But this site also failed and folded, though archives are still online.
  • The great standard bearer of this group is undoubtedly the Millennial Star, but even that’s not immune from these doldrums. Frequency of posts declined sharply several years ago, and at the end of 2013, they brought in Meg Stout to apparently fill the void and keep their product fresh. Meg’s writing is thoughtful, lucid, and original, bringing views and concerns to the table that would otherwise be largely absent. But most importantly–and most relevantly for this post–she’s productive. Of the last fifty posts at Millennial Star as of 5/5/18, Meg has written 21 of them–nearly half. That’s as many as the three next most frequent contributors combined. This isn’t to criticize Meg or anyone else at M*–again, she brings a lot of quality to the table, but the point is that M* isn’t really much of a group blog right now, at least not to the degree it once was. It’s become more like Jr. Ganymede, a great personal blog that sometimes features other voices.

Meanwhile, how many of the socially/politically liberal Mormon group blogs have expired or declined? The only one I can think of is Mormon Matters, which didn’t really die so much as it evolved into something else.

Is no one else worried by this trend? Where have all the great voices–faithful to the church, dissenting from the world’s culture–gone?

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Helaman 13:26-27

It’s almost time for General Conference again, which means it’s almost time for another regular ritual among some Mormons: the Bloggernacle’s analysis of Conference.  This is where we get to hear from some self-appointed folk heroes which talks were good (because they liked them) and which were bad (because they didn’t like them).

Will President Packer’s upcoming address, for example, be met with a favor born of surprise and condescension, as sometimes happens, or with righteously angry criticism, as usual?  It probably depends on whether or not his remarks fit easily into currently popular worldviews.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, the majority of Conference viewers–those outside of the elite, electronic, intellectual enclave–will seek out both comfort and correction as they come, at face value.

So You Want to Make Dead Mormons Gay…

A satirical web site has gone up inviting users to help the “many Mormons throughout history [who] have died without having known the joys of homosexuality.”  You enter a name, click a button, and the deceased will then somehow have the chance denied them in mortality.

I think this is a great idea.  Seriously.

The only problem is, this web site’s method isn’t truly analogous to what Mormons do in their temples at all.  Here would be a far closer parallel:

Users would first have to do research to identify their own ancestors who died without being able to try homosexuality.  After all, your motive in this project is to bless those whose lives led to your own.  This will require dozens and even hundreds of hours of interviews, online research, and contacting vital records departments.

Once you’ve identified your ancestors, you can’t simply click a button, though.  You must travel to a certain special place dedicated to this work, which will require you to set aside a few hours, on average.  Once there, the work itself involves a simple ritual, but one that must be done precisely, and repeated for each ancestor.

If you care about your departed forefathers being able to enjoy the same things you’ve been blessed to enjoy, then this effort should be a small price to pay.

I genuinely hope that the creators and users of this site will upgrade their satire and find a richer spiritual experience through their service, as millions of Latter-day Saints find in baptism for the dead.  Then, I think, we’ll have more to talk about.

Politically Unprepared Mormon Virgins

The LDS Church has made another statement about illegal immigration, emphasizing their disapproval of “mass expulsion,” among other things.  I saw a news story yesterday about it and how, apparently, Church headquarters is being inundated by calls from conservative church members who are outraged by what they see as a betrayal of their principles. 

I won’t rehash what I’ve said about this before, but here’s a scripture-based illustration of my point:

In my neck of the woods, our Sunday School lesson next week will be about Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins.  In this story, ten women were going to meet their bridegroom.  Five had prepared, and five hadn’t.  When the surprise announcement was made that the hour for the wedding was at hand, the prepared five got to go in, but the other five were left with no groom but regret. 

The interpretation of this parable for Latter-day Saints has always been pretty standard: it’s meant to teach us about preparing for the Second Coming.  Since all ten women had clearly accepted the invitation to go to the wedding, they all represent members of the Lord’s church.  The sobering warning in the parable is that only about half of us–even half of those who are at least nominally on board with the Church–might be ready for the rewards we want when the final day comes. 

There are plenty of reasons why those five virgins (and many more Latter-day Saints) might be slack in their preparation for the Lord’s return, but in light of the blowback over the Church’s recent political stances, I wonder if some of those virgins might represent good people who let their faith be compromised by being offended by the Church’s positions on gay marriage and illegal immigration.

Book of Moses Commentary Part V: What I Wish To Tell the Young Women of the Church

Moses 8:13-15 reads: “And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.  And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.  And the Lord said  unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves…”

This could have been written today.  The daughters of the sons of God were fair?  No kidding.  Everywhere I’ve seen, the local LDS young women tend to be among the most beautiful, the most talented, and the most wonderful girls there.  The sons of men wanted them?  Of course they did.  And still do.  Who wouldn’t?  Any guy in his right mind would want to be married to a Mormon girl.  And those fair daughters sold themselves into marriage with the sons of men?  I see it all the time.

I don’t know why so many Mormon girls marry non-Mormons, but I do know one thing: those guys may be perfectly fine, might even be really great guys, but when these poor girls become mothers and older women and see the priesthood and temple blessings they and their family are missing out on, and see the lack of unity their relationship has to deal with, it hurts them.  I’ve never known an LDS woman who married outside the church and never regretted it. 

So here’s what I wish to tell the young women of the church: don’t sell yourself short.  Don’t settle for anything less than a temple marriage.  And don’t be tempted by anyone outside of that goal who might want you for himself.  There absolutely will be many, many boys and young men who will want to be with you, and many of them will be good guys.  But they won’t be the right guys.  Your eternal happiness is worth holding out for the very best man.  It was true in Noah’s time, and it’s still true today.

Inactive Husbands

My experience ministering at church has shown me that there is one large demographic whose quiet sense of loss in their community is rarely understood by those around them: women with inactive husbands. 

There are certainly men who go to church but whose wives are unsupportive, but that’s relatively rare.  Far more common are women who strive to get to church as much as possible, often taking kids with them, but whose husbands refuse to get up and come along.  I’m not talking about women with non-Mormon husbands–those women knew what they were getting into when they got married–or even women whose husbands have never been very involved in church. 

What still shocks and discourages me is just how many men become inactive after marriage and then put their wives in an impossible position: these men may think that they’re not making their wives choose between them and church, but these poor women are still living in a gray twilight zone, trying to trudge along the thorny path of discipleship but doing so without a partner with whom to share her burden, unlike most of her friends at church.  Her husband may think that his non-involvement is purely neutral, doing no harm, but that doesn’t help when the kids ask why they have to go to church and Dad doesn’t. 

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Priorities

There are three locations in Las Vegas for Deseret Book, the LDS Church’s bookstore: one on the far east side of town, and two on the far west side.  Well, just the two on the west side now, apparently. 

The one on the east side is gone.  The space that it occupied for many years is now vacant.  It was located in a Mormon-themed strip mall just down the road from Southern Nevada’s only temple, so location couldn’t have been a problem.  If anyone finds it disconcerting that an outlet for things like scriptures, oil for priesthood ordinances, and the works of current Apostles is no longer economically viable, don’t worry: that strip mall’s credit union, fancy bread store, and hair salon are all still open for business.

13 Things Mormons Like

The Official Guide To Stuff Mormons Like, a satirical blog perpetrated by my friend Steve and I, is still growing.  In case you’ve missed out on the hilarity, here are my contributions so far:

  1. Making Fun of Themselves
  2. Expensive Pictures of Temples They Don’t Go To
  3. Testimonies of Random Stuff
  4. Predictable Blogging
  5. Loving / Hating Utah
  6. Criticizing Those Who Criticize
  7. Mormons Like Blogging About Stuff Mormons Like, Apparently
  8. Showing Off Names of Mormon Celebrities
  9. Deceptive Marketing Tactics
  10. Adapting Popular Things In a “Mormon” Version
  11. Ridiculously Large Extended Family Portraits
  12. Cheesy Seminary Videos
  13. Thrashing Anti-Mormon Arguments

Ah, only a deep and abiding love for a culture can produce social commentary like that!

New LDS-themed Humor Blog

For the last few weeks, my friend Steve and I have been putting together a new blog poking fun at the foibles of Mormon society (target of our first entry: the tendency of Mormons to poke fun at the foibles of Mormon society–because what the world really needs now is more self-referential irony.) 

It’s starting to pick up steam (I’m told Eric Snider liked it, but I can’t document that until I finish hacking his hard drive, and I can’t do that until I figure out how to turn on my computer by myself), so start checking it out now so you can tell your friends that you were a fan of it before the authors went insane with fame and power and got blown up in that terrible silly string incident at Toys R’ Us. 

The Official Guide To Stuff Mormons Like