A Response to Salon’s “But I’m a Good Mormon Wife” Article

UPDATE 9.14.15: This post periodically blows up online. Today it got three times more hits than the whole blog gets on an average day. People keep bringing it up on social media, apparently.

I’ve looked over some of those comments, and the biggest thing they tend to say is that I’m being judgmental. I’d like to address this with three points:

  1. I didn’t judge her value as a person. In fact, I diplomatically phrased much of this essay to specifically avoid the false appearance of condemnation. Sadly, it seems that some will see moral judgment, even in its obvious absence, no matter what someone actually says. To castigate me for an imagined insult shows not just a lack of charity, it shows a lack of reading comprehension.
  2. I wasn’t criticizing her as a person; I was analyzing her essay. Written documents, publicly published, are all fair game for discussion. That’s how discourse works. There are no privileged texts, immune to analysis. To suggest such is to create a caste of secular scripture, and to demonize someone who dares to analyze such a text is to practice an intellectual inquisition.
  3. Where I speculate about the author’s possible (possible!) motives and background, it is always in light of what’s explicitly or implicitly in her text. Criticize my analysis, and do so with better evidence and reasoning, but there’s nothing here to warrant an attack. Certainly, I have yet to see a substantial criticism of this post that uses actual citations and clear reasoning–nothing more, in fact, than simple invective. Anyone who wants to engage in civil dialogue is always welcome to, though.

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This article made me sad.  Not because it mischaracterizes my church, which it does, and not because I think Maren Stephenson, the author, is an awful person, which I don’t, but because I think she totally misunderstands what she rejects and needlessly misses out on something wonderful because of it, even though she must have been so close to it.

The author writes about how her husband, and then she herself, became intellectually disillusioned with the LDS Church, and became happier after leaving it.

For someone who calls herself a “scholar” in her own article, she doesn’t seem to know the difference between doctrine and urban legends, and she seems ignorant of some obvious facts that contradict her new worldview.  It isn’t the factual errors that are heartbreaking, though–it’s the personal drama that accompanies (and perhaps fuels) the skepticism, which seems to lead her to a badly warped view of the LDS Church:

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Las Vegas: An Example Of Society’s Growing Anti-Semitism

A story appeared in Friday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal about a local high school teacher who has stirred controversy when she questioned the historicity of the Holocaust to her class.  I’m not interested in commenting on that so much as I am on the reader comments that appear after the article (here).  I certainly haven’t read all 300, but I read through enough of them to see a disturbing trend–a lot of them were viciously, violently anti-Semitic. 

Now, I’ve seen plenty of trolls online before, but they’re usually just tossing out quick insults to anger people for fun; the bigots writing on this forum were often writing long, detailed, even eloquent speeches against Jewish people.  In short, these are real racists.  I can’t put into words how shocked I am. 

I also don’t care to dignify their assertions about the Holocaust or Jews in general by analyzing them here, but I have to wonder where all of this comes from.  What in the world could any Jewish people have possibly done to create this degree of rancor from so many strangers?  Nothing, of course.  It doesn’t make any kind of sense.  Such is the inherently ignorant nature of prejudice, I suppose. 

Having read the posts that I did on that article, I can only think of two explanations: that many in our postmodern world are upset by a people whose very existence testifies of a solid, traditional religious heritage, and that a lot of people have been successfully convinced by multicultural media propaganda that Israel is evil (by overwhelming us with the message that “Palestinians” are underdog victims, mainly).  If I’m right about the racists’ motives, the commonality between them is likewise shocking: these are the motives of progressive leftists. 

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Error Message Poetry

Teaching a poetry unit in summer school this week, I used material from a contest sponsored by Salon.com several years ago. 

Haiku are short, strict, sparse Japanese poems that focus on a single detail of the natural world, elegantly described.  Computer error messages are common, terse, and often frustratingly mired in jargon.  Isn’t it obvious that these need to be entwined?

Hence, Salon’s contest, which asked for new and improved error messages, written as haiku.  My personal favorites are:

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.

and

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

The rest of this digital whimsy may be found here.