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Oct. 7th, 2011 at 11:22 am
I read about this survey several days ago: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52682333-78/church-lds-mormon-survey.html.csp
The church has sent a survey out to 1000 people + or – asking questions about their use of/opinion about several blogs and some bloggers, among other things. Blogs listed that I’m aware of are T&S, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and BCC. There are questions about John Dehlin, Joanna Brooks, and Jana Reiss as well as several writers. They’ve included Glenn Beck and Michael Otterson.
I am mildly concerned, given the inclusion of John, Joanna, Jana and FMM. Heartened to see T&S and Michael Otterson, although the paranoia in me says that could just be a cover.
I could joke and say where’s my name? I’m kind of nutso. Where’s MM? We’re a liberal bunch, mostly. I think. I myself (screw you if you don’t like that term, I do) am a crazy mix of liberal and conservative. But I really don’t care about that today. I’ve wondered if there would ever come a point where my friendship and support of John Dehlin’s mission in life would get me into trouble. I’ve only recently learned about Joanna’s public pleas for tolerance for gay Mormons and have Jana’s book “Flunking Sainthood” in my pile of books to read. I’ve scanned it and I know I’m going to love it.
Long, long ago in a galaxy far far away I wrote a post about my ward which I thought was fairly innocuous, but I did refer most noteably to the fat guy who bore his testimony and lived like a pig as well as my neighbor who couldn’t get along with anyone and another deal, can’t remember that one. Said neighbor and friends took this post to our stake president, who dismissed their request to discipline me for it. I assume, not having been privy to the conversation. But he never said a word to me, so I assume he didn’t think it was as big a deal as they did.
I remember when Sonja Johnson was lobbying for the ERA and she and her friends were excommunicated from the church. Don’t recall specifics, but some of them chained themselves to the gates of the temple. It was a paregoric situation for the brethren, I’m sure.
I’ve read some comments from people saying this is no big deal. Calm down. “It’s easy to look at a list of journalists compiled by the Mormon church and see a witch hunt, but I doubt it,’’ Coppins said. “I didn’t personally feel targeted when I saw my name on the list.’’ That from McKay Coppins. John said this: “It shows me that they care about their consumers, and that they are willing to change,’’ said Dehlin, whose weekly podcasts address sensitive LDS topics. “I consider it progress that they are thinking more like a company and less like the Soviet Union.”
Jana was surprised that she was included, but the Tribune noted that “she and others viewed it as a positive development the church is attuned to member sentiments and focused on a thriving debate about LDS issues online, especially in the Mormon blogosphere, sometimes dubbed the “Bloggernacle.”
One person interviewed expressed some mild dissent: “Are they trolling for favorites or people to avoid?’’ asked Al Tompkins, a journalism ethics teacher at the Poynter Institute, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based school for journalists. “It’s their right to do both of those, but if I were a member, I would wonder why they are spending resources and energy on it.’’
I guess I feel mild dissent at this point. I wonder as well, again because of John and Joanna’s inclusion. I’ve benefited from what John has done to encourage those who are discouraged. I haven’t lost my testimony, but my faith in the good intentions of my local leaders has been shaken and my feelings have been hurt. It’s deeply disturbing to see the wishy-washy-ness regarding the sexual abuse issues that have shaken our ward. I’m terribly bothered by my priesthood leaders’ insistence that a meeting is made better if a priesthood holder opens with prayer. It makes them look small in my eyes. Uneducated, ignorant and myopic. It does not invalidate The First Vision, The Book of Mormon, or the Plan of Salvation. The church is true. The church in southern Utah is a tough proposition for those who are different.
We had an activity in RS once regarding the color coding—not from the book, but some other source, can’t remember. One of the colors was green. They asked us all to score ourselves and then have us stand up so we could see what each person’s color was–all the reds, etc. I was the only green. Which truly caught me off guard. It was a small moment over twenty years ago, but I’ve never forgotten that. I wasn’t trying to be different, it was fun. I had no idea I was so different until that day. I used it in a snobby way, actually, but a tiny part of me never forgot that I don’t quite fit in.
I feel okay when I attend Sacrament meeting, although there are many new people and I haven’t been a regular attendee since 2006, due to my personal circumstances. But Sunday School and Relief Society are another matter. I feel like a heretic when I point out that Jesus died for us, that the atonement means we can be with God again and that “after all we can do” is a heavy and hard caveat that is tremendously discouraging for many members. I feel like a heretic when I point out that none is better than another and that many of us are going to be greatly surprised at who we meet in the Celestial Kingdom to which we’ve already assigned ourselves.
I suppose part of that is that I’m a pain in the butt anyway and made the issue of new tables for the cultural hall and windows in the nursery a contention situation because I was like a dog with a bone and wouldn’t shut up about it. But I submit that if a priesthood holder had brought up the same issues, they would have been addressed fairly quickly and painlessly. It may be a characteristic of my stake, but there’s a “shut that mouthy broad down” air among my leaders. “Here she goes again.” Despite this, despite the awful things that have happened in my ward in the last five years, it’s still my ward, my stake. It’s home. Dysfunction and all.
But I have to wonder, what does individual opinion about John, or Joanna—or even Glenn Beck have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ? How is that going to positively affect the church’s stated goal of bringing souls to Christ? What does it matter?
It makes Bill nervous when I go on these types of tangents and our conversation yesterday about the survey was typical. He doesn’t understand why I get worked up about this type of thing. At this point, I’m a bit concerned….a tiny quiet forboding. We can try to make it positive, but I do not think it is.