Sunstone Boilerplate

For any who doubt that Sunstone at time struggles for new ideas, check out Nadine Hansen’s “The Garden of My Faith” . The essay was originally delivered as a “Pillars of My Faith” lecture at a Sunstone Symposium. As near as I can tell, the “Pillars of My Faith” lecture is sort of like the Storrs Lectures of the Sunstone subculture: an honor bestowed on those who have paid their dues and presumably have something to say.

Hansen’s essay doesn’t miss a cliché as she tells of her efforts to weed out white washing, over-correlation, sexism, and homophobia from amongst her neighbors. Perhaps it is an intentional parody of some of the repetitive and predictable devotional schlock that pours forth from Deseret Books, a kind of consciously constructed mirror image. Or perhaps not. The gardening metaphor is kind of fun, but otherwise as near as I can tell Hansen has virtually nothing original to say! Margaret Toscano’s essay works a lot better. She is a woman with some serious interpretive games to play. It is a much better show.

316 comments for “Sunstone Boilerplate

  1. Nate,

    If Pillars is the equivalent of the Storrs Lectures, then do we also need an equivalent of the Tanner lectures? Or do our own homegrown Tanners — Jerald et al — fill that niche sufficiently?


  2. Kaimi: Actually I think that there is a Tanner Lecture in Mormon studies. It is given each year at the MHA meetings by a nationally prominent scholar of religion who is invited to speak on Mormonism.

  3. “For any who doubt that Sunstone at time struggles for new ideas”

    It’s only a matter of time before the Bloggernacle confronts the same problems. I believe it already has begun to hit a wall in some respects. While Hansen’s subject matter was by no means entirely novel, I thought her treatment of it was better than you describe, and perhaps not deserving of scorn.

  4. There was something about the gentle how-I-brought-a-little-Bay-Area-liberal-decency-to-my-benighted-fellow-religionists tone of the piece that got under my skin.

  5. I got 404’d when I clicked on the links. Can you fix them? There’s some garbage at the beginning (well, not garbage, just a link to T&S tacked on the front).

    /btw, that’s a Homestar Runner 404 page in my link.

  6. What happened to Kristine’s comment? Can I get a comment removed if I put it up in haste and then regret it? I’m serious in asking this because I know that I have regretted a few things I’ve put up (just yesterday in fact) and would have liked to modify them.

  7. I went into edit some typos in the original post and accidentally deleted it. I had a back up of the post on my email which I reposted. By I could not restore Kristine’s comment. I have invited her to reposted it, but I suspect that she, alas, is busy with more important things that calling me on my rudeness. To my knowledge, Kristine has no regret for her comment ;->

  8. The first time I tried the link to the Sunstone article my computer crashed.

    The second time it didn’t, but I wish it had!

  9. Nate tells us he doesn’t believe Hansen has “anything original to say”.

    But he raises an interesting topic: What are the “Pillars of [Your] Faith” here among the folks at T&S? What are the important things, the core tenets, that make up your beliefs? What makes the Gospel Alive and Real for you? If you had to pick a handful and present them in a 25 minute speech, what would they be?

    Oh, and do they need to be original to be relevant?

  10. “Oh, and do they need to be original to be relevant?”

    No. But on the other hand, it would be cool if someone was to claim that spirit fluid and Adam-God formed the pillars of their faith ;->

  11. After reading Hansen, I agree that there really is not any point to the essay. She doesn’t seem to have anything substantial to say, despite the fact that she apparently spent a great deal of time crafting her garden metaphors. Maybe she should have allotted some of the time from her metaphors to her message.

    However, despite lacking an explicit, unifying message, Hansen’s essay does contain some implicit messages – and the theme that emerges is almost certainly unintended. The essay provides a depiction of Hansen’s personality and attitudes that are not sympathetic to the author.

    The entire piece seems to be an excerise in self-congratulation. The article attempts to indict the identical blades of grass that make up her lawn, the passive and blissfully ignorant majority membership of the institutional church. It suggests that applying the Golden Rule more universally and inclusively would be a more enlightened way to live a spiritually-centered life. She mentions her concerns about the lawn being too intrusive, and requiring a great deal of effort to maintain. This high-maintenance lawn contrasts with the spontaneous growth of the Sunflowers, a more organic or natural form of spirituality (don’t thorns and thistles spring forth naturally, to afflict and torment man?). Rather than convince me that applying the Golden Rule to matters relating to homophobia or sexism is A) different from or B) better than current doctrine, she has only succeeded in exposing her own elitist, “smarter-than-thou” (if not holier as well) attitude.

    The essay is filled with statements to suggest that she believe that she belongs to an exclusive group of intellectually superior “uber-spirituals” who have managed to free themselves from the constrictions of church correlation.

    For example, “I probably don’t have to explain to this audience why the Roslyn Chapel pillars…” (wink, wink) or three paragraphs later, her self-sacrificing statement:

    “Moving to Utah was culture shock! Spiritual ideas seemed as sparse as the desert…But I accepted the responsibility for making it bloom.”

    Who’s to say that there weren’t blossoms already in existence and thriving in the desert before she moved here? What is it that leads her to believe that her blossom-detection acumen is inherently superior to the saints who lived in Cedar City during the pre-Hansen age?

    I think scorn may be one reaction this essay deserves. Another might be pity, for a person who has become enamored with her own pseudo-intellectualism.

  12. I think scorn may be one reaction this essay deserves. Another might be pity, for a person who has become enamored with her own pseudo-intellectualism.

    Indeed, that is the sort of feeling one often gets. “Pay your dues and you are entitled to be part of the elite.”


  13. I just read (skimming some) the “Hansen” essay. I have to agree with Jim and Nate, et al. That was one the most painfully pretentious pieces I have read in a long time. It is difficult for me to understand how a person writing such a thing would not be conscious of the overly trite and self-congradulatory tone. Maybe it’s tongue-in-cheek… we can only hope. Speaking of whitewashing….

  14. So here’s my problem. I happen to know Nadine. And I suspect she isn’t worrying about the notion of saying something new. Maybe her focus is on what moves her. Maybe what moves her is an old story. Scorn is always tricky. On a personal note I say this: it’s hard to take when you know where a person is coming from and you respect the person’s life and struggle. (For “you” in that sentence, you can read “I” if you want). Sometimes you care about a person you don’t agree with. . . .

    What really interests me here is the value placed on saying something “new.” So impossible in a world which is as late as it is and so thought about and articulated. New is a matter of fashion. And it tricks itself out along a timeline. All I’d do (being on the older end rather than the younger end of experience) is caution a little modesty about the ability to be fresh, new.

    But then again. One of the finest things a mentor of mine said: my writing style has a “mean” edge. How do we balance people–and rhetoric.

  15. Sorry Nate, that Sunstone isn’t new and dynamic enough for you. Ironically, I’m getting a bit bored with the numerous times Nate Oman reminds us that something isn’t new, original, thoughtful, or “contributing to the discussion.” If only we could all be so enlightened…

  16. I agree with Nate about most things (a sign of my intelligence?), but I just finished reading both of the essays he refers to, and I didn’t find Hansen’s piece so awful nor Toscano’s piece so much better. (Besides, since they are written in different genres it isn’t that easy to compare them.) Neither is great writing, but that doesn’t set them much apart from most of what LDS intellectuals produce nowadays, whether on the “left” or the “right.”

    I disagree with Hansen about several things. I think we could have an interesting conversation. But I don’t find her essay scornful of the Saints, nor did I read it as self-congratulatory. Differing with others, even having issues with them, aren’t the same as scorning them.

    Nevertheless, I’m all in favor of criticism–in the formal rather than personal sense. I think we do far too little of it in the Church. But it seems to me that those who criticize Hansen ought to do so by pointing to specific claims she makes with which they disagree. If she unintentionally comes across as scornful or self-congratulatory, it ought to be possible to show where and how she does that. If she comes across as an elitist, intentionally or not, it ought to be possible to point out the elitist claims. The same if her essay makes her seem pretentious. Jim Richins is the only one whose post makes genuine criticisms because he’s the only one who takes the time to say where he found the attitudes he criticizes Hansen for. I could argue with him, just as I could argue with Hansen, but at least we would be talking about the essay and what it says rather than our mere impressions or prejudices or, worse, about a woman that I and, I assume, most of the rest of us don’t know at all.

    I realize that this is a blog and not a journal of criticism, so it is difficult to do much more than the typed equivalent of a sound-bite. In spite of that difficulty, we have an obligation, to those we criticize and to each other, to do so well. Ultimately sound-bites and their equivalents are dishonest, though the people who produce and use them may, as individuals, have honest hearts.

  17. Jim you’re too nice.

    It’s a bunch of mystical tomfoolery if you ask me. I was brought up as a california mystical mormon and believe me, I know what it’s like to arrange my own little universe and then pat myself on the back for getting it right. I learned a long time ago that the best way of being assured that you’re on the right path is by playing god and determining for yourself what that path should be.

    I thought there was a fun little irony in the metaphor of the grass as the populace of the church. It is indeed something that they who are loftily looking heaven-ward will walk right over.

  18. Sorry for my harshness. The combination of my irk button getting hit and it being after midnight arouses the worst in me.

  19. Not being a philosopher nor an intellect can’t stop me from commenting on “The Garden of My Faith”. Since Nadine has put so much effort into defining the metaphors she sees in the various plants in her yard, I wonder if she would permit a different view on those same plants.
    What if the grass were the principles of the gospel that the brethern have to work so hard at keeping free of weeds. What if the grass extending beyond its bounds under the concrete were the principles breaking through the hard-headedness of members. What if the weeds were those ideas which Satan puts in the hearts of some to destroy the beauty of the gospel. What if….
    We can all look at the same yard and make different metaphors for the things we observe. Why does the Church have to look bad to get satisfaction? Could that be the result of bad seeds being planted somewhere’s else?
    I ask this not to denigrate Nadine but there are a number of people of my own acquaintance who take great pleasure in pointing out the failures of the Church, while still holding on to the fact that it’s the best thing available so “I’m sticking with it”.
    They defend political parties, make political correctness a matter of fact, and do not accept the real world when the truths are made known. We are all guilty of harbouring attitudes and ideas that are non-conforming to the Gospel (if you don’t believe that you probably haven’t been tested on your issue yet) but why do we allow them to take precedence over the fundamental principles of the Gospel that invite us to support the Brethern and sustain them when we really don’t have knowledge ourselves of “things as they really are”.
    Could it be that maybe they do know more but in an imperfect world they are forced to use imperfect means?

  20. I actually thought that the tone of Hansen’s essay was quite gentle. I just was struck by the extent to which it consisted of a perfect litinany of “liberal” complaints about the Church. I suppose that I ought to be more patient with litinanys, since they obviously can serve an important purpose. I freely admit here that I have a bit of a double standard. I roll my eyes and nod off in Church from time to time when folks pull out familiar litianys there, but I suspect that I am more patient in that setting than I am here. I don’t know Hansen, but I am sure that she is a nice person.

    John is understandably a bit touchy about Sunstone, and I freely admit that I tend to harp on one note here, which of course makes me boring. I find it unfortunate that discussions and reactions to Sunstone get polarized between Sunstone-is-a-the-home-of-evil-apostates and Sunstone-is-the-embattled-bastion-of-free-thought-in-Mormonism. I am simply trying to find a third hoping-for-better-things-to-come category. (That and I am a rude, arrogant jerk ;-> ). As Jim points out, it is probably to be more specific rather than just posting impressions.

  21. Oops:

    “As Jim ponts out, it is probably better to be more specific rather than just posting impressions.”

  22. Nate:

    I appreciate your patience with my own snottiness and sound bites – I apologize.

    It’s difficult for me to not think of faith development theories when I think of Sunstone. James Fowler and Ken Wilbur are two of the more recent people writing about this topic that I’m aware of. In his faith development theory, Fowler discusses the stage where one stands at the edge of the abyss, looking straight down – the stage of *true* doubt. It’s characterized by self-discovery and a shift from putting trust in authority figures to putting trust in oneself. It is also often characterized by frustration and anger – even bitterness. It is a real crisis of faith – it is not simply a matter of reading a few books by the Tanners or Michael Quinn and fitting them into your faith view. It is not going on a mission and then Bible bashing with a few folks.

    My point is, I think Dan Wotherspoon has a lot of the people in this stage in mind when he edits and creates Sunstone. It’s not all he has in mind, but it is a part of it. Many people (the Steve Benson’s of the world) remain in this stage forever, always angry, always bitter, always needing for the dumb, blind sheep “below” them to see the light. But many can move on to a revaluing of their faith, as Fowler writes. Sunstone can help them do that. I personally see Sunstone about helping people navigate this sort of thing. Just like FARMS is clearly *not* about defending the faith most of the time, and is really about reassuring FARMers of the correctness of their worldview, Sunstone isn’t always about coming up with brilliant, new articles so much as it is pastoring to a small flock in Mormonism that is often pittied at best, loathed at worst.

    What all that means is, Sunstone, like FARMS, will repeat themes and ideas many times over. People like Nate, and even myself, will get a bit bored with some of these discussions. But there’s someone else waiting in the wings who needs it, just as I needed it five or so years ago. Without it, I seriously doubt I’d still be in the Church – just as Dean May said, “Sunstone has kept far more people in the Church than it’s ever driven out.”

    It doesn’t seem to do much good to simply point out when an article has nothing new in it. If we’re going to do that, let’s talk about the latest FARMS Review, where Nate’s article was one of about three or four that had anything remotely interesting to say. (Davis Bitton on how to spot an anti-Mormon; Louis Midgley advancing another absurd conspiracy theory of George Smith and Signature Books – yeah – we’re swimming in originality now!) Instead, what do each of these publications offer us that help us on our own spiritual journey seems a better question.

  23. John H. I’m sure you know by now that I’m not a great fan of Sunstone. However I’m not entirely unsimpathetic your feelings about Sunstone as a help for those struggling with their faith. As one who has “stared into the abyss”, I understand the impulse to hang to whatever one can get their hands on – even if it’s a barbed-wire fence – rather than falling into the jaws of the abyss. However, I wonder sometimes if there’s any evidence to be found at Sunstone of a belief that God knows His children and is able to do His own work with them. It seems like there’s a lot of ark-steadying going on which IMO is an indication of spiritual elitism.

    “Sunstone has kept far more people in the Church than it’s ever driven out.� This may be true, but it may also be keeping people out who have left for their own reasons by affirming that those reasons have merit.

    That said, I’m glad that your still in the church and if Sunstone was the means of preserving your faith then in that instance it was a source if immeasurable good.

  24. Jack:

    “This may be true, but it may also be keeping people out who have left for their own reasons by affirming that those reasons have merit.”

    I agree that Sunstone has probably helped people feel good about their decision to leave the Church. Sadly, it may have even ended up in the wrong hands – someone who isn’t ready for the discussion we host who leaves after reading a Brent Metcalfe article.

    The problem with using arguments like this to demonstrate Sunstone isn’t on the right track, is they have to ignore all the other reasons why people leave the Church. For example, most people I talk to have never even heard of Sunstone. But everyone has heard of the temple and many have experienced the temple ceremony. As a result, I’ve met far more people who have left the Church because they were freaked out over the ceremony (especially pre-1990) than have left over Sunstone, Dialogue, or Signature Books combined.

    Obviously it’s impossible to measure how many people have left over the ceremony, Journal of Discourses, polygamy, etc., vs. how many have left over liberal or naturalistic publications. But I don’t think Sunstone should go away anymore than I think the temple ceremony should go away.

  25. I just read Hansen’s article and finished it feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. She writes beautifully, and her garden metaphor is well developed. Assuming that she’s not writing this as a self-conscious parody, I find it quite troubling. Her tone is reflective and gentle, apparently clothed in charity and tolerance. There is a sort of warm, bland softness (as Nate points out, there isn’t anything particularly new there).

    But, IMO, the style covers some fairly disturbing thoughts.
    One of the complaints I hear from those who fancy themselves liberal intellectuals is that they lament the lack of critical thought, the thoughtless self-assurance, complacency and security of their orthodox brothers and sisters. This is implicit in the article and my sense is that Sis. Hansen sees herself as one who is open to ideas and willing to look at things critically. No self-unaware, ignorant dupe is she. But she speaks with smug self-assurance of any stolid white male Wastatch Front High-Priest who quotes Elder McConkie.

    For example, she mentions that she takes it as a compliment that people in her ward feel uncomfortable discussing the role of women around her.

    Isn’t open discussion something she values? She says that she won’t let a “constrained, correlated approach to religious thought….smother free inquiry and discourse.”

    But it is a good thing that her presence apparently smothers the free discourse of other people? Or, does her ward members thoughts and opinions not count as real discourse since they are orthdox and hopelessly unenlightened? Its ok for a liberal to make orthodox fuddy-duddies uncomfortable, but not ok for the institutional church to get in the way of her enlightened discourse?

    I am also disturbed by that fact that rather than wondering if she may be in the wrong, searching to see if she is overly combative, confrontational, or any number of other things, she apparently decides that other people’s discomfort is validation that she is doing the right thing. How un-self-critical can you get?

    She infers that she has never let the bindweed–her metaphor for obedience and orthodoxy grow “in my garden long enough to find out what kind of damage it would do.”

    Am I correct in thinking that means she has never simply tried following the program of the church in humility, wondering if perhaps, just perhaps, there might be something to it?

    There’s more, but space is limited.

  26. ” I don’t think Sunstone should go away anymore than I think the temple ceremony should go away”

    John, perhaps we can compare your statement to the immutability of death and taxes. God is responsible for one – mortals responsible for the other.

    Braden, I share your sentiments exactly. Only you conveyed your feelings in a much more civil tone.

  27. Thanks Jack.

    I have to note two more things that really troubled me about Hansen’s article. She mentioned that she is pretty well handling the personal, every day variety of weeds, by which I think she means her own sins: “My garden is not without weeds. I generally find it pretty easy to control the small, personal ones.” She continues by saying that there are some “persistent and particularly noxious weeds.” Comparing them to tumbleweed, she talks about sexism and homophobia. The other noxious weed is bindweed–“a metaphor par excellence for today’s constrained, correlated approach to religious thought….”

    I may be reading her metaphor incorrectly, but if I understand, she is saying that she has pretty much got her own personal sins under control. The real problem is her constant battle with homophobia, sexism and constraining orthodoxy in the church. Her life is all in order, so she can fix all the problems she sees. Unless I misunderstand, that sounds incredibly arrogant. Three words come to mind: motes and beams.

    Finally, and perhaps most troubling, she talks about the good plants, the flowers, in her garden. She mentions, love, service, the fruits of the spirit, concepts such as “Pagan respect for the cycle of Mother Earth.” She also celebrates “the uncorrelated wildflowers of Sunstone, Dialogue, the Mormon Women’s Forum and other independent Mormon publications.” Unless I missed it, she does not mention the scriptures or the teachings of the living prophets (she mentions dead prophets but laments that they are only acceptable if they are “filtered through the lens of correlation”).

    Sis. Hansen is free to think and believe as she sees fit. I wouldn’t presume to judge her lifestyle choices if she were my neighbor. But, when she publically demans her ward members and, by extension, those who are more orthodox, in such a self-satisfied, superior, condescending tone, I think it’s fair to respond.

  28. I find it interesting that Hansen makes a point of identifying the bad guys in her garden as non-native species (bindweed=correlation; tumbleweed=sexism and “homophobia”) yet apparently fails to connect that fact with her own status as a recent transplant from the liberal Bay Area of California into a conservative, homogeneously-Mormon, small Utah town.

    Even for an intellectualized testimony, this one doesn’t seem very Mormon. The most concentrated discussion of characteristically Mormon concerns is her (overstated) list of outdated Mormon beliefs. Christ gets two mentions, both in connection with her criticism of tumbleweeds. Does Hansen believe Jesus saved her from her sins? If so, it apparently wasn’t worth mentioning.

  29. Speaking of struggling for new ideas, has anyone read the Ensign lately? It’s been boiled down to a pamphlet of GA talks that are mostly rehashes. This is probably a good idea to the extent that there are new members and/or investigators to whom these things are new, but the old Ensign covered all of these rehashings as well as history, science, and other topics.

    Nadine Hansen’s article made me think of the City Mouse, Country Mouse story. Coming from the City, everything seems “wrong” to her. I suppose if you transplanted some old-time Cedar City people to the Bay area, they’d find a lot “wrong” as well–although somehow I think they would be less inclined to try so hard to find what’s wrong.

    Still, I thought she used some imagination to see her world view in nature, and in that sense, it was a “new” way to look at things. Definitely a much better way to express herself than to merely quote half a dozen “authorities” to make a point.

  30. GREAT comments Braden and Chris.

    I’ve been a mystical type most of my adult life. Until recently I have been coerced by symbols of my own fabrication – whether in the heavens or the earth – to follow a psychologically deranged course through life which I interpreted as the strait and narrow. I’m not suggesting that Hansen has any like problems – chances are she’s a great person and a great neighbor. But I can’t help but be concerned by a general mystical trend in those that separate themselves from the main body of the church because of “higher knowledge”. There always seems to be a sickly sweet condescension with the utmost pity for the poor spiritual simpletons of the main body of the church who are bound by the chains of correlation.

    Chris, you make an important point in demonstrating that Hansen hardly mentions the Savior as part of her litany. I’m not in a position to judge were Hansen is personally, but generally speaking this is a tell tale sign of the slippery slope of apostasy which typically begins with rejection of the brethren and ends with rejection of God.

  31. Regarding the Ensign, with the fantastic church website, is there really much of a *need* for it anymore? Seriously, the only reason I ever read it was for the GA talks and First Presidency message. Other than that I thought it hadn’t really had a very high rate of good articles in years. (I kind of liked the old issues from the 80’s) I can’t recall the last time I actually subscribed.

  32. Sorry, I think these comments that she didn’t mention the Savior enough are misguided. That clearly wasn’t the focus or the direction she wanted to go. What makes Pillars of my Faith interesting is that it isn’t a testimony meeting. (Speaking of originality – I’m sure telling everyone you love Jesus is at the top of the unique chain.)

    But of course it’s always a great way to attack someone – “Hey, she didn’t talk about Jesus! Someone who doesn’t talk about Christ *can’t* be good.”

    And while we can toss criticizing the Ensign into the unoriginal bin alongside Sunstone and FARMS, Jonathan and Clark are absolutely right. Even the FP messages that Clark mentions aren’t original – they’re almost always taken from talks given in the 70s or 80s. If Sunstone’s guilty of repeating itself, the Ensign should be locked away and the key tossed into the deep.

  33. A quick clarification on my post yesterday seems to be in order. Apparently, some who have read the criticisms to Hansen’s essay posted here have assumed that a common theme for the criticisms has been that Hansen does not “say anything new”.

    I do not presume to speak for other’s who were unimpressed with the essay (Nate does say that the essay has “nothing original” to say, which suggests he is looking for something new), but I am not bothered by the lack of “anything new” in the article at all.

    The thing that bothers me is that there really isn’t any claim at all. It would be much better if the essay made *some* substantial claim about something – old or new. But, it doesn’t. It only seems to suggest that the “intellectually advantaged” (how’s that for a euphemism?) can divine through some mystical means (or the philosophies of men) a more enlightened set of teachings than those that emanate from Salt Lake, and laments the fact that most of the church membership are sheep (in more than one figurative sense).

    I don’t think I have to explain to this audience the principles of effective argumentation (wink, wink).
    Make a claim. Provide evidence. Anticipate counter-arguments. Convince me of something – old or new, I don’t care. Even old aruguments can be reframed in new ways. Don’t waste my time by displaying your own cleverness and praising (even if ever so subtely) your own enlightenment.

  34. Braden and Chris have already pointed out two of my main criticisms of Sis. Hansen’s essay: the hypocrisy of celebrating the intimidating effect her presence has on discussion of issues and the nearly complete absence of Christ in her discussion. Here are a few more:

    The way Sis. Hansen employs the garden metaphor is curiously telling. One would think that such an intelligent member of our faith community (or whatever she wants to call it) would be aware of the tradition of agricultural and horticultural metaphors that abound in the LDS canon, and would seek to situate herself within that tradition. However, Sis. Hansen seems to either be blissfully unaware of or willfully silent on her essay’s place in such writings.

    Or is she? The one move she makes towards placing herself in the scriptural tradition comes when she writes

    From the junipers, I lopped off the dead wood of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I then looked at my groves and saw that they were good.

    I may be wrong (but to me it doesn’t matter), but I think she’s echoing the language of Jacob 5 here. Here’s Jacob 5:17:

    And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard looked and beheld the tree in the which the wild olive branches had been grafted; and it had sprung forth and begun to bear fruit. And he beheld that it was good; and the fruit thereof was like unto the natural fruit.

    There are several other usages of the “behold/good” phrase in the chapter.

    What is striking by using this language, Sis. Hansen places herself metaphorically in the position of the Lord of the vineyard. I will argue that this is evidence of a spiritual worldview that places her at the center of the plan of salvation, as opposed to Jesus Christ.

    Some further evidence for my perhaps overstated claim: I am unable to think of any significant metaphorical uses of trees, plants, seeds, fields, orchards, wheat, tares, or other plant-related symbols in which a member of the Godhead is represented as a plant requiring care and attention from a human (the Lord is present in the burning bush, but the bush is not dependent on Moses for anything). Yet Sis. Hansen places God in a pinyon pine, “on the scruffy side,” which needs some pruning. He is not an actor anywhere in the metaphor, only an idea. While thinking about how we conceive the nature of the divine is an important part of developing our relationship with our Heavenly Father, it is essential to recognize that He is not as we make Him, but rather our understanding of Him changes as we grow closer to Him. For the purposes of understanding this essay, it is also important to note that the only intelligent actor on the scene is Sis. Hansen.

    I can’t think of a single instance of horticultural/agricultural metaphors in the scriptures in which the purpose of the plants being grown is to produce something other than food to be eaten. Food, of course, has its own rich set of associations in scripture. And in modern times, we have been advised to garden to produce food for ourselves and our families. Food has the property that it can be shared with others to provide a real physical benefit to them.

    On the other hand, Sis. Hansen’s garden, both the physical one and the spiritual one, both seem to exist solely for her pleasure and enjoyment. While it is possible for others to enjoy a garden, Sis. Hansen’s exists purely for her own benefit. The one mention she makes of other’s sharing in her joy is in her discussion of sunflowers and the Golden Rule:

    Hybrid species [of sunflowers] growing six or eight or ten feet tall, with flower heads ten or twelve or fourteen inches across, are big enough and bright enough to extend the Golden Rule to all people, even those different from us. By planting showy, inclusive versions of the Golden Rule in my own faith garden, by speaking up for the marginalized, I nurture the hope for a more inclusive institutional church.

    Her concern is not to share the joy she gets from her garden, as Lehi’s is when he partakes of the fruit of the tree of life, but to shame others who have the same flowers in their gardens by having the biggest and the best sunflower of them all.

    One last complaint: The Garden of My Faith focuses almost exclusively on what Sis. Hansen’s faith is not. It is not sexist, homophobic, close-minded, mindlessly obedient to authority, political, afraid of its history, prejudiced, patriarchal, or vengeful. For an essay as a part of the “Pillars of My Faith” series, this strikes me as a peculiar strategy. The pillars of my faith are not defined primarily by their opposition to some other thing. I can state them affirmatively: a belief in a loving Father in Heaven who loves me as His child, faith in my Savior Jesus Christ, a testimony of the power of the Priesthood on the earth today, among others. John Kerry is running into problems because he has defined himself primarily by what he isn’t, namely, George W. Bush. Sis. Hansen’s essay runs into similar problems. I know what she doesn’t believe. I’m not really sure what she does believe.

    Too long. Time to get my own blog, I guess.

  35. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments on this thread. When I first started reading, I thought “there is a total lack of thoughtful responses here.” But not to worry, I am here now to help you all along. If anyone begs to differ or takes offense, I will know that I have fulfilled my duty.) :)

    On a serious note, I would like to clarify my position. While I see that it could have easily come off this way (thus, I should have been more careful), my “painfully pretentious piece” comment was not regarding Ms. Hansen personally nor necessarily even the substance of her concerns. I never called her pretentious and agree that to do so would be unfair. Of course, I recognize that the line between the two is fuzzy and that calling a piece “pretentious” has implications for the author. But generally, I think I even afforded her the benefit of the doubt by stating my surprise that she did not recognize the pretentious tone herself when writing the essay. If I judged her a pretentious person, I would not be surprised at all at the pretentious tone.

    My problem with the essay is not its lack of originality or freshness, the forum (Sunstone), or even the validity of her causes. I have no qualms here with any of those things (though I do disagree with a variety of her observations/conclusions – but that is to be expected in life). It is the pretentious and condescending tone that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I looked at the article again to make sure I was not being hasty in my criticism. I stand by what I said earlier; I think this piece is very pretentious and condescending in its tone. I suppose to be fair, I should offer a detailed analysis as to why. I am very strained for time right now, so the best I can do is say “read Braden’s and Jim’s posts.” I think they both hit the nail on the head in their analyses. The statement for me that really sums up the tone is the following, “Moving to Utah was culture shock! Spiritual ideas seemed as sparse as the desert…But I accepted the responsibility for making it bloom.â€? I am sorry, but that is very poorly put and it would make no difference to me if it had been said by a conservative moving to Berkeley. In fact, I would probably find that even more distasteful (heck, I tend to lean moderately liberal).

    It’s certainly true that these types of judgments about a piece are ultimately subjective and the reader/receiver is filtering them through his/her own biases etc. etc…. So, maybe the tone I am picking up is nothing but the result of that unavoidable limitation.

  36. Awesome, Bryce. Some great ideas. Excellent analysis of garden metaphors. I especially appreciate how your analysis underscores how the essay’s hubris attempts to supplant God as the Master Gardener and replace Him with a human actor.

    Very well done!

    Thank you.

  37. John H writes: Even the FP messages that Clark mentions aren’t original – they’re almost always taken from talks given in the 70s or 80s. If Sunstone’s guilty of repeating itself, the Ensign should be locked away and the key tossed into the deep.

    I can’t be certain; however, perhaps there’s a reason for the Brethren’s repetition. The world, and we ‘the saints” or the weakest of us who are or can be called “saints” remain stuck in the same lifestyles that prompt those same talks year in and year out. Perhaps we are still more comfortable living in Babylon than struggling for Zion. Perhaps we are still more anti-enemy than pro Kingdom of God. Do we really believe and practice Mormon’s discourse on Charity in Moroni 7? For that matter, have we really mastered the first priniciples and ordinances of the Gospel embodied in the fourth article of faith? Maybe, just maybe when we have actually digested and mastered what we have, there will be further light and knowledge to come. Till then, I think it’s probably a good idea to keep all those Ensigns with their dusty old messages. We can keep Sunstone and Dialogue too, along with the Farms and all the rest.


  38. Very quickly,
    I do not think that how *little* she mentioned Christ is a fair criticism. We really have to be careful making negative judgments like this; as opposed to positive judgments that refer to something that was actually said. I personally think they assume way too much. I am not comparing anyone here to McCarthy (I swear!), but I think McCarthyism is a good example (albeit extreme one) of the dangers that come with leveling accusations against someone because they did not say enough in support/defense/criticism of a particular principle/principality. Please, don’t anyone think I am comparing you to McCarthy – just an example off the top of my head.

  39. John H writes: “Sorry, I think these comments that she didn’t mention the Savior enough are misguided. That clearly wasn’t the focus or the direction she wanted to go.”

    So she was asked to speak on the pillars of her faith, and mentioning Jesus in more than a tangential way wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. That was my point.

    “What makes Pillars of my Faith interesting is that it isn’t a testimony meeting.”

    But it is supposed to be about, well, the pillars of the speaker’s faith, right? If not, maybe you should think about renaming it.

    “Speaking of originality – I’m sure telling everyone you love Jesus is at the top of the unique chain.”

    Is a humble testimony of Christ’s atonement, as opposed to a proud declaration of one’s devotion to cleaning up the mess the General Authorities are making of the Church, something you hear from Sunstoners all that often? In any case, lack of originality was Nate’s complaint, not mine.

    ‘But of course it’s always a great way to attack someone – “Hey, she didn’t talk about Jesus! Someone who doesn’t talk about Christ *can’t* be good.’

    I never said that Sister Hansen’s decision not to mention Christ when asked to discuss the pillars of her faith made her a bad person.

  40. T. Wray wrote: “I do not think that how *little* she mentioned Christ is a fair criticism. We really have to be careful making negative judgments like this; as opposed to positive judgments that refer to something that was actually said.”

    Does this argument work on your wife when you neglect to say something in recognition of her birthday or your anniversary?

  41. Chris Grant: “Does this argument work on your wife when you neglect to say something in recognition of her birthday or your anniversary?”

    Well, I think that my wife would not question my sincerety or motivation if I did, in fact, recognize the day 2-3 times. That is, I don’t think she would presume I just didn’t care since I didn’t mention it 6-8 times instead.

    Further, even if I didn’t directly mention it at all… I think that if I spent the day discussing with her what our relationship means for me and what we could possibly do to improve upon it, I don’t think whe would assume I didn’t really care or remember our anniversary since I didn’t directly say so.

    Sheesh, I don’t even like the essay. But that doesn’t mean I will buy into any criticism that’s leveled against it.

  42. Well T Wray, If one can’t tell what it *is*, then maybe criticizing what it for what it *isn’t* will shed some light on what it’s intended to be.

  43. Another thought (I do have those once in a while), I think all of us will find ourselves at one time or another reevaluating the meaning of life. We’ll take stock of everything that we’ve experienced and what we believe because of those experiences (even if only intuitively) chew on it like an old bone for a while and then toss it when were ready to move on again. I would like to believe that a little of this as happening in Hansen’s article – even if it is only a thin lace around the edges. She really does little more than “stab” at ideas. (sorry for the bad pun) Therefore, one may be left to conclude that there is much more to be revealed about her beliefs by observing her daily walk than by reading a one time rather “presumptuous” statement. All of us are a little presumptuous as we try to fit a piece of the puzzle in the right place. We move it from one spot to another until we get it right. So perhaps, as Hansen looks over her own experiences and feels a disgust for the foolish fundimentalist views she used to harbor (I don’t know this, I’m just making an example), she’s going to break loose and run the other direction to a mystical extreme in her search for meaning. The sunflowers are going to loom large in her mind as symbols of freedom from a formerly constricted view of the gospel. Even so, the sad tendency for almost all as soon as they get a little knowledge, as they suppose, is to say “look ma!”.

    Well there you have it. That was my best effort to draw something positive out of the article. I agree with all of the criticiques on this thread and stand in awe of the scrutiny involved. I think I’ve been the most pointed in implying that Hansen may be off base personally and I apologize for that. However, as Braden put it so well: “when she publically demeans her ward members and, by extension, those who are more orthodox, in such a self-satisfied, superior, condescending tone, I think it’s fair to respond.”

  44. Much of Sunstone seems to be found in: One of the complaints I hear from those who fancy themselves liberal intellectuals is that they lament the lack of critical thought, the thoughtless self-assurance, complacency and security of their orthodox brothers and sisters and to note that it always seems to come as a part of rehearsing “the litinany.”

    I know, “to be learned is good …” but how good and in what context, and how many repetitions of the the litany are required to pay ones dues?

    Maybe Sunstone’s place is to merely repeat the litany or “litinany” over and over again for those who are learned. An interesting place, and one that doesn’t require it to say anything different, merely to find different ways to say it. I think with Nate’s personal connection to Sunstone, in a way, his remarks offer an insight that might be more direct than others.

    But this has been a very interesting thread.

    Thank you to everyone who commented.

  45. I can’t claim any special insight on Sunstone. I read it from time to time and I spent a fair amount of time in the library once upon a time goinh through many of the back issues. My comments and carping however rest no special expertise.

  46. Bryce’s commentary on the garden metaphors is right on, imo.

    I wasn’t really bothered by the litany because that’s what I expect from such a piece and I do find it useful from time to time to read about how others have had their faith challenged and how they react to such challenges, but I found myself reacting quite negatively to the way Hansen developed her metaphors.

    Part of it is related to what Bryce said as well as to the fact that I’m a literary snob.

    But a big part of it is that for the first 12 years of my life I was a sagebrush Mormon. And to see these southern Utah flowers and plants used in an extended metaphor to describe a position in relation to the Church that I don’t share made me just a tiny bit angry. On the most fundamental level I was thinking — those are my plants and I don’t like how you are using them.

    Of course, the irony is that I have lived in the Bay Area for the past 16 years so I’m sure that ‘true’ sagebrush Mormons would view me the same way many of them probably view Hansen. And I’m sure that as Jack points out, being very familiar with the milieu from which Hansen derived her current beliefs probably sharpened my reaction.

    And for what it’s worth: while I knew as a child that I should despise tumbleweeds, I have to admit that it’s pretty cool when there’s a windstorm and you can watch entire flocks of tumbleweeds tumble down the streets from your front window.

    And it’s also cool when someone builds a huge stack of them and lights it on fire.

  47. So, Nate O., you’re the new insider-outsider critic of Sunstone? Couldn’t have happened to a better man. :)

  48. “Spiritual ideas [in Utah] seemed as sparse as the desert…But I accepted the responsibility for making it bloom.â€?

    Holy moly. Onward Christian soldiers and all that. An angel among us, God be praised. She is Hathor, Egyptian cow goddess, sad-eyed, pacific, and wise, mooly intellectual, who fertilizes, for love, all arid fields. God be praised. Amen and amen. Finally, finally, is Isaiah made an honest man of. Brigham Young weeps for joy and Joseph Smith turns sommersaults. Nadine, all alone, with only her gigantic brain between her and certain death, faces that dread double-headed dragon, Homophobesexistor, and slays him. God be praised, amen and amen.

  49. Kingsley: Thankyou for verbalizing that which none of us had the talent or guts to say – but most assuredly wanted to hear.

  50. Not to mention, the obligatory SSM link, given she refers to it in the pillars of her faith …

    But seriously, the vainess and teh fraility and the typos of women, for when they are from the Coast, they think they are wiser than Deseret ….

    (so I reprising and playing with text, I think that maybe a smile or two is what this thread needs right now, though I enjoyed Kingsley’s perspectives).

  51. I’m sure no one is reading this anymore, but, for the record, I did not repent of my comment–I went away for the weekend just after Nate accidentally deleted his post, and I was gone by the time he got it back up.

    I still think it’s shockingly unkind to attack someone’s personal expression of faith, and tear it apart for having unoriginal metaphors, condescending tone, or whatever. I’m sure that if I were to post something mocking someone’s sincere expression of faith from the “Mormon Journal” section of the Ensign, I would be roundly criticized in this forum.

    I know Nadine a little; I really like and admire her. I agree that this was not the best writing she has ever done. But Nate, all of you, you have no idea how much garbage she has put up with and still managed to stay in church and contribute. She’s been around twice as long as most of you, and, if she was perhaps unthinkingly condescending, you are also guilty of being disrespectful young twits (and I mean that in the nicest possible way :) ).

    It really makes me angry to see this level of personal attack–and it *is* personal. That was not a theoretical essay meant to convince anybody of anything; it was a deeply personal expression and sharing of experience, clearly marked as such–there is no way to discuss it that isn’t personal.

    In any case, this is a helpful cautionary tale for me; I will be sure not to describe my own spiritual experiences, or try to explain my feelings about the church or the gospel in this forum–you are an awfully tough crowd.

  52. Kristine: Surely you can see how Sister Hansen’s talk/essay could itself be reasonably interpreted as an attack on the faith of others. (Maybe she misheard the assigned topic and thought it was supposed to be “Pillorying the Faith”.) When she says “that President Hinckley has to remind us not to be clannish or holier-than-thou is evidence of our reputation for our failure to extend the Golden Rule to non-Mormons. Conspicuously, the Rule doesn’t apply to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters”, and when she writes an editorial in the Boston Globe stating “With all due respect to our remarkable 90-year-old church leader, we find his words unfathomable in the face of reality.” you can possibly see how some of us would say that she is not, in fact, giving our Prophet “all due respect”. As for the “respect your elders” theme, some us think 34 is itself pretty young.

  53. Kristine,
    I am sorry that you are angry, and sorrier that you feel constrained in your freedom or willingness to express yourself. I have always enjoyed reading your thoughts and exchanging ideas with you. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t feel personal animosity towards Sis. Hansen. I’ve tried to show some degree of respect to her, refraining as best I can from sarcasm, hyperbole or general snarkiness. Admittedly, I did laugh at what Kingsley said. I prefaced all my comments with phrases such as, “perhaps I misunderstand what she means to say, ” etc.

  54. Kristine: As the twitiest tough in the crowd, I generally deserve rebukes &c.; this time, however, I do not feel all that badly. If I bear you my heartfelt testimony and mention in passing that I am a savior come to rescue your sad, degraded, comical culture from an unthinking bovine blandness, throwing in the usual political clichés (left or right) and accusations, I had better be prepared for a backlash.

    Feel free to bear me your testimony, but if the bulk of it goes toward bashing my testimony I will most likely tease you a little bit.

  55. (Sorry, hit the button too soon). I tried to use Sis. Hansen’s specific words rather than speaking in generalities.

    Still, your post, as they usually do, made me think. I don’t want to be unfair or unkind, and I would never take it as a compliment that people were uncomfortable discussing anything around me.

    That being said, I am not sure I see that this essay and an experience in Mormon Journal are completely analogous and here is why: for any faults they may have, entries in Mormon Journal are affirmative, personal experiences that share testimony-building moments. Sis. Hansen’s essay accused her brothers and sisters of several things from being ignorant to sexist and homophobic. Those accusations, and they were accusations, were stated as fact. There were no qualifiers and no presumptions of good faith.

    She also accused the leaders of the Church of wanting to stifle free discussion and inquiry, of lying, of butting in where they have no business, and of making things up on the fly in order to exert as much political control as possible.

    No matter how one phrases these things, this is an attack on regular old orthdox Utah Mormons who sustain the Brethren. And, as a regular old Utah Mormon who sustains the Brethren, this really disturbed me.

    All of my liberal LDS friends, feel that having a discourse in which the leaders of the Church and the policies and practices of the Church can be discussed and, as they deem necessary, criticized is very important. and they greatly lament that such fora are few and far between. Why, if debate and criticism are so critical to keep Elder Packer et al. in line, is it so wrong when someone debates or criticizes the critics?

  56. Kristine: “Disrespectful,” yes, “twit,” hell yes, but “young”? I turn 28 on Wednesday–we’re practically twins!

  57. So, if someone publishes a piece with the caveat that it is a “personal” expression of some kind, does that mean that it is untouchable? If someone shares his/her experiences with me, am I not allowed to respond? I also do not understand what relevance having “put up with garbage” has, or how being “around” for so long justifies even a small amount of pride.

    You are right, Kristine, that it almost inevitably becomes personal when discussing an essay such as this. Speaking for myself, I apologize if my response seemed ad hominid – it was not intended that way. I wanted to speak directly to the essay itself, but even if she had written a dry legal brief or a segment of computer code with which I might find fault, the potential for interpreting criticism personally still exists. However, we must not assume that because a critical response to an essay is unfavorable, that the critic necessarily wants to excoriate the author.

    It might be helpful to imagine a similar exchange in a different context – say, between me and some random member of my ward in between meetings during the Sunday block. I imagine that if he/she said similar things to me, I would A) not be expecting him/her to be convincing me of anything, other than perhaps their sincerity, B) I would be respectful, and in an attempt to be non-confrontational, excercise discretion with my comments, and C) the exchange would certainly be altered because of two-way interaction (I’m sure there would be other differences due to context as well).

    Although there would be fundamental differences due to context, I am certain that my intellectual response would be the same. I would want help my friend realize that such comments seem very arrogant and conceited, and that they probably are not conducive to the Spirit. In this context, it would absolutely become very personal, very quick (albeit, without necessarily becoming condemning).

    However, the differences in context allow an even more severe set of responses. The comments were not made during a hallway meeting, over a phone call, or during a home/visiting teaching visit. They were published in as an essay in Sunstone. To me, this context explicitly invites commentary and criticism.

    I concede that my expectation of some claim and systematic argumentation in support may have been inappropriate for a “Pillars” essay. The Toscano essay which was offered as a contrast is such a piece, and so my expectations were obviously skewed. However, the Hansen article being a “Pillars” piece is, again, even more indicting of the author. She is ostensibly sharing some of those experiences that combine to help support her faith, expressing a part of her world-view, exposing how she views herself in relation to the Church, her community, and the world around her. That being the case, the essay actually invites personal criticism – unfortunate, but unavoidable.

    I hold no ill will for Sis. Hansen, and I wish her the best. However, I am very unlikely to grant any future comments or claims by her very much credence, at least not until she repairs the conceited and elitist public image she has constructed by this essay.

  58. Chris: I don’t think that Nadine Hansen was an author of the Globe editorial to which you refer. Rather, it was written by Maxine Hanks and Courney Black. Interestingly, Elizabeth Harmer-Dionne, an LDS attorney in Boston, wrote a letter in response to the editorial that the Globe declined to print. You can read the entire exchange online here:

  59. Nate Oman wrote: “Chris: I don’t think that Nadine Hansen was an author of the Globe editorial to which you refer.”

    You’re right. I should have said “signatory”.

  60. Were their signatories? I don’t remember. I do remember that there were a fair number of Mormons in Boston who were a bit peved that the Globe refused to print any of the letters sent in replying to the editorial.

  61. Nate Oman wrote: “Were their signatories?”

    According to this site, Sister Hansen signed the editorial, but apparently the Globe didn’t print all the names.

  62. Jim Richins has expressed, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, precisely my feelings from before, but without Egyptian cow goddesses &c.

  63. Kristine: A few lines that must have slipped between the uh, lines.

    I actually thought that the tone of Hansen’s essay was quite gentle.

    She writes beautifully, and her garden metaphor is well developed.

    Sis. Hansen is free to think and believe as she sees fit. I wouldn’t presume to judge her lifestyle choices if she were my neighbor.

    …chances are she’s a great person and a great neighbor.

    It’s certainly true that these types of judgments about a piece are ultimately subjective and the reader/receiver is filtering them through his/her own biases etc. etc…. So, maybe the tone I am picking up is nothing but the result of that unavoidable limitation.

    I never said that Sister Hansen’s decision not to mention Christ when asked to discuss the pillars of her faith made her a bad person.

    I wasn’t really bothered by the litany because that’s what I expect from such a piece and I do find it useful from time to time to read about how others have had their faith challenged…

  64. I’m going to have to side with the twits on this one. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the snark and sneer of the twits — funny as it is — Hansen’s expression of the pillars of her faith happens to denigrate the pillars of other people’s faith. I think it only fair for those people to be able to respond. Further, I’m not sure Sunstone readers and contributors ought to be declaring that personal expressions of faith are off limits from criticism.

  65. Kristine,

    Thanks for articulating my feelings. This may not be a safest thread or forum to reveal nuances in one’s feelings or reservations about the Church’s policies with respect to gays and lesbians, the sex restrictions on holding the priesthood, and the correllation program.

    I am glad that, notwithstanding Sister Hansen’s concerns and disillusionment about those and other issues, she chooses to be one of us.

  66. “Speaking for myself, I apologize if my response seemed ad hominid.”

    Well, hold on, bucko! We can tolerate a lot on this thread, but don’t you dare call Sis. Hansen a Neanderthal!

  67. I can only speak for myself — but I have no problem with hearing nuances on those topcis. I’d actually like to hear about/discuss some of these things in a forum [and maybe here isn’t it] where there could be some dialogue between Mormons who have a range of opinion. The problem that I have encountered with the few Sunstone articles and other [what term does one use — ‘liberal’ doesn’t seem quite right?] publications is that the rhetoric tends to do what Hansen’s does — glosses over things, self-congratulates, repeats pc platitudes. Perhaps that has currency and resonance with some, but I’m at a point where that doesn’t interest me. I can paint by numbers as good as any grad student [or (conversely) fiery Big-O orthodox RM]. I did go to Cal, after all [and I loved it].

    In other words, I very much am looking for nuance.

    And this is not to say that ‘conservative’ [I’m not sure about that term either] Mormon discourse does much better.

    Kristine writes: “you have no idea how much garbage she has put up with and still managed to stay in church and contribute.”

    Yes. That’s what I want to know. How has Hansen managed to stay and why does she stay? What does she contribute? In what ways would she like to contribute that she isn’t able to [for whatever reason]? What garbage has she put up with and what has helped her to put up with it? Has she had fruitful interactions with ‘conservative’ Mormons and/or Mormon leadership? What makes her think her brand of Mormonism has some validity to it? What are these hedges that she puts up around her lawn [the institutional church]? Why does she think they are needed?

    Yes, that’s a tall order, and probably not appropriate for the lecture that Hansen gave — again my criticism of that piece (an admittedly emotional one) had more to do with the co-option of sagebrush Mormon flora for her Bay Area agenda.

    And perhaps I just need to read more [I welcome suggestions].

    But I would very much like to understand those who stay in the Church but are critical of its authority(ies) and official stances/actions. At least with fundamentalist Mormons I get that they think that the Church has strayed off course and so there’s a need to get back to what Joseph Smith said [or Brigham Young] with the often accompanying belief that their leader has special insight into that [or even receives new revelation]. I feel like I’m not sure where I stand with many liberal Mormons.

  68. Nate,

    A tangent, but I’m not terribly surprised that the Globe didn’t publish the rejoinder — it didn’t really rejoin.

    It didn’t offer credible support to the rather remarkable statement attributed to Pres. Hinckley. If he said it, I believe that it’s the truth — but from that belief, how can I not conclude that my experience within the Church must differ extraordinarily from his. It makes me worry that the culture we have doesn’t seem to be promoting much in the way of honesty and candor — at least not that gets to Pres. Hinckley’s administrative level.

    It didn’t address the Church disciplinary proceedings referenced, either to prove the stories about them to have been wrong or to prove the need for them to have been right.

    I didn’t understand it even to dispute the conclusions about the need for women to receive the priesthood — just the methods utilized to get there.

    What’s the feminine version of ad hominem? Ad feminem?

    Resumes don’t matter much to me.

  69. I know Nadine a little; I really like and admire her. I agree that this was not the best writing she has ever done. But Nate, all of you, you have no idea how much garbage she has put up with and still managed to stay in church and contribute. She’s been around twice as long as most of you, and, if she was perhaps unthinkingly condescending, you are also guilty of being disrespectful young twits (and I mean that in the nicest possible way :) ).

    I had no idea she was 96. I guess her depth of garbage is greater than mine.

    Hey, I write poetry too …


    I’m just reluctant to say “this is private, personal, and, oh, btw, I’m publishing it in a magazine for the world to read, but don’t respond with any criticism.”

    (Just save me from editors, I might have said that ….)

  70. We exploded like a show of fireworks over Hansen’s article, but what about Toscano’s? I just got around to reading it and find it even more presumptuous than Hansen’s. Of course, any criticism of Toscano’s essay here at T&S is unlikely to carry any significant weight as the majority of commentors are mostlikely white male priesthood-holders.

  71. Jack –

    I haven’t read it yet — it’s longer, and Hansen’s article put me off of it.

    I’ll look when I get a moment or three.

  72. What I got from Toscano was that she would really, really, really like to have a go at writing a revelation or two.

  73. To tell you the truth, I’ve been reading it in small chunks. (kinda how I used to eat brusselsprouts as a kid – always wondering if I had enough stamina to handle the next swallow)

    It’s basically the same old stuff about power-structure messing with what ought to be the free-flow of knowledge. (perhaps I should invoke Godwins Law right now and get it overwith) Implicit in the entire essay (IMO) is the idea that unless we break the bonds of authority and to a lesser degree culture, knowledge will not have the power to shape-shift the Kingdom into it’s real potencial. (or in other words, Margaret Toscano will not have the power to exert her influence as she would like) Her general argument is spear-headed by the supression of the mother in heaven “doctrine”. (yawn, Nate is certainly right that nothing new is going on here)

    Her bias is obvious, when she says – in my own words (sorry I can’t copy from acrobat) that those who continue to disregard with Pres. Kimball’s counsel against excessive hunting are not disciplined by the church while feminists are. Then in the same paragraph she says (speaking of how changes in society affect changes in counsel – in so many words) that though women in the church may desire to follow Pres. Benson’s counsel to stay home with their children, necessity has forced them to work outside of the home. I have no qualms with this except for the fact that Margaret does not connect the dotes by acknowledging that the church takes no action against those who go against this counsel for less noble reasons – which “action” would be a much better comparison to that of discipling blood-thirsty hunters rather than self appointed feminist high priests. Priestcraft is a much more serious offense.

  74. I toyed with the idea of saying “self appointed feminist high priestesses” but alas that was too offensive.

  75. Burning the midnight oil, Jack? The hard thing for me about these essays is that they somehow have a very, I don’t know, Academy Awards kind of feeling about them, very in-house, self-congratulatory, gushing, etc. The September Six showing up to a sumptuous dinner, cooked by themselves, followed by a show, performed by themselves, and finally little golden trophies are passed out, bought and paid for by themselves and voted on by a distinguished panel composed entirely of themselves.

  76. Ivan, it’s OK. I think they’re doing it on purpose–it’s a deliberate parody of smug condescension. (I just hope nobody pulls a muscle patting himself on the back!)

  77. Kristine,

    You’re right that there’s some echo chamber going on here. But I also think some people answered your initial volley fairly well, and I assume you have more of a reply than simply being snarky back.

  78. Jack, I have to agree that I find the worst thing about pdfs (now that they no longer crash Netscape again) is that I can’t cut and paste with them.

    I do think that by comparison, Toscano’s essay seems to have more thought, less polish, in it. I find it interesting that almost all the Mormon Studies positions are held by the equivilent of defrocked priests or republican Blacks in the equivilent programs (Catholic Studies and African-American Studies).

    Her essay did make me want to dust off a poem I wrote about a guy who used to come to the writing lab. The math tutor he was assigned was female, and he didn’t feel like taking tutorials from a woman, so he was in the writing lab talking to me, since I was a guy. I don’t think it helped him much at the end of the semester when he took his math final.

    As for hunting and President Kimball’s talk about not wasting the flesh of song birds in meaningless blood sport, that made a lasting impression on me.

    Anyway, while the entire essay is tainted by the liturgical use of power process analysis, and could have used a good recounting of the constant thread of talks and essays by Church leaders about how women are not property but are equal partners in life, it does bring up the excellent point that religious language has real effects on thought and perception. If it did not “Virginia” would never have asked the questions she did.

    Of course she misses that many men feel a need to be reassured of their self-worth. When she starts talking about how every man is a “girl” to the people above him in the line of authority I felt like I had been dumped back in one of the Gor novesl I was asked to read to comment on whether they should be censored from the bookstore (my response — reading crud was too painful, just consider whether or not A Feast Unknown really needed an end cap display and leave it at that).

    Her conclusion drops out into a litany position, but that is normal for that sort of work and doesn’t deprive the whole of being something where someone was trying to think. Not terribly deeply, but they were doing something interesting and reflecting some interesting trends in the world where they live.

    As for Nadine I’m just waiting for her friend to explain how Nadine is in her nineties (I’m 48, so if she is twice my age) and has gone through more than I have. I’m sure Nadine has buried more than three children, has been cheated out of more money by church members, has had a home teacher who thought it was his calling to hound her family out of the Church, etc. I know I did not find Utah to be a spiritual wasteland when I was there going to law school.

    I think it is fair to discuss public essays, especially ones in critical forums (I’d put Sunstone as institutionally critical of the culture it resides in) or ones that gain a good deal of their focus by being by people who have paid their dues.

    Or is criticism a one-way street?

    I think it helps that no one here seems to be overly impressed with their own insights to the point of seeing them as something that need only to be polished rather than explored, challenged and probably changed.

    I know I surely have a long way to go before I am smooth and polished.

  79. Stephen, I don’t know Nadine well enough to be her “friend” (alas), but I assume you mean me. I said she was twice as old as many of the commenters, not all of them. I also didn’t say she’s had more troubles than everyone and should be beyond questioning on that account. She has had more occasions to bump up against institutional and cultural biases of Mormonism than some–she was outspokenly pro-ERA and has been active and outspoken in feminist Mormon groups for a long time. Unlike some others who have been involved in those causes, she has managed to remain active in church and make significant contributions. I think that’s interesting (though Nate has trashed the “Why We Stay” kind of Sunstone essay, too).

    I don’t think that all personal reflections should be off-limits for criticism, especially if they’re published (duh!). However, I do think we have some obligation to read such things charitably. I think Nate’s reading (and some others’ who have commented) was mean-spirited. In particular, I think it’s both unkind and a little dumb to criticize it for being “Sunstone boilerplate.” It’s like saying that testimony meeting is “Mormon boilerplate”–of course it is; it’s a forum where like-minded people gather to reaffirm their insider status in the group, their reasons for being there. The “Pillars of My Faith” sessions are largely about people explaining how they hold onto a “Mormon” faith, despite feeling somewhat alienated by the broader Mormon culture; it’s not shocking that that culture would come in for some criticism. I note that none of Hansen’s detractors have yet argued that there isn’t sexism, bias against homosexuals, or closed-mindedness in Utah (I dare you to try that argument), only that she wasn’t being nice by pointing it out.

    Do you want me to offer congratulations on the breathtakingly original insight that there’s intolerance on the left as well as the right? I think we’ve covered that ground a few times.

  80. “Ivan, it’s OK. I think they’re doing it on purpose–it’s a deliberate parody of smug condescension. (I just hope nobody pulls a muscle patting himself on the back!) ”

    I think that the dissecting of Hansen’s essay here has probably gone a bit overboard, but I suspect that charges of smugness, condescension, and self-congratulation tell us as much about who we identify with as anything else. I found Hansen’s essay a bit trite and gently self-congratulatory. Kristine obviously found it otherwise. I suspect that this has more to do with the fact that Kristine knows and identifies with Hansen, while I found myself identifying with those that Hansen criticized. I suspect that self-congratulation and condescension are things that are done mainly by those with whom I disagree. It is kind of like “pork barrell spending” (which my boss on Capitol Hill, a Kentucky Senator, defined as government spending in Ohio) or “illegal revolution” (Franklin remarked — at least in the play 1776 — that revolution is always legal in the first person, as in “our revolution.” It is only illegal in the third person, as in “their revolution.”)

  81. Kristine: I don’t recall ever trashing the “Why We Stay” kind of essay. (This not to say, of course, that I haven’t done it at some point. I just don’t remember. My list of past sins in lengthy.) I am all for reading things charitably and freely admit that I was probably not as charitable to Hansen’s essay as I ought to have been. On the other hand, it seems like one ought to be able to register disappointment, boredom, hope for something better, etc. when reading something that is published in a magazine that bills itself at least in part as a forum for enlightening discussions of Mormonism. The fact of publication seems to imply that the writing is meant as more than an exercise in tribal solidarity or group therapy. I am willing to try to be nicer. However, I reserve the right to evaluate, disagree, get annoyed, and otherwise react in ways other than gentle and sincere appreciation, although perhaps that IS the best response at times.

  82. Nate, my initial assessment of the piece was more similar to yours than you might think–I reacted strongly not because I thought it was a great essay, but because I thought the *use* you were making of it was wrong. A detached critical reading is not the most appropriate way to read such an essay. I wouldn’t compare the Hansen and Toscano pieces as you did–they’re different genres and need different approaches. I read Ensign articles and New York Times editorials differently too, regardless of whether I agree or sympathize with the author.

    And I thought it was just plain not nice to take a piece that was delivered in what its author took to be a friendly forum and drop it into a forum that could be presumed to be somewhat hostile, with an open invitation to pile on. That’s not good sport.

    (I wish you’d spend a little more ink dissecting Toscano’s essay).

  83. Kingsley wrote:

    “What I got from Toscano was that she would really, really, really like to have a go at writing a revelation or two.”

    Her sister did, didn’t she? (Or have I got the family tree mixed up?)

  84. I agree with the sentiment over the last few posts that we are done with Hansen. As with other posters, I also would like to move on to something more substantial.

    I first read the Toscano article a few weeks ago, and I re-read it yesterday as a refresher. I like the Toscano article. I don’t necessarily agree with all that she says, but I think it is a much better article. And, there is much which I do agree with her on.

    It is true that she spends extra time expounding Foucault’s ideas about power and knowledge – almost as a remedial primer. I also think that she seems to find something sinister or conspiratorial within the suppression of H.M. doctrine, which I think is unwarranted (this may be due in part to her status as an excommunicated feminist). And I have other complaints, as well.

    But, I also agree with two of her most important points: A) power structures do exist in the Church, and they have the capability of inordinately affecting doctrine and practice, and B) the Heavenly Mother doctrine does seem to suffer from suppression (both official and organic). In particular, I agree with her suggestion that the lack of authoritative discourse about Mother does not reverence her, it erases her.

    I say this as a very orthodox LDS. I would never presume to suggest to the FP or 12 that they modify the Church’s programs to make more allowance for H.M. – I am certain that we have received exactly the knowledge that God wants us to have at this time. If it were not so, and if Pres. Hinckley were intentionally or not restraining new revelation, I am certain that God would instantly remove him. There must be a reason(s) why we are being kept from a more personal relationship with Her at this time. I am certain that speculation about Father wishing to protect Mother from undue blasphemy is cute, maybe works in Primary, but is ultimately false.

    Finally, given the sample topics of sexism, or bias against homosexuals, I would be happy to enter into a discussion. I do not believe that there is any significant bias against homosexuals in the Church, and I believe that gender roles and relationships in the Church are far more complicated than the term “sexism” ostensibly meaning an exclusive bias against women implies.

  85. Kris,
    You said, “I note that none of Hansen’s detractors have yet argued that there isn’t sexism, bias against homosexuals, or closed-mindedness in Utah (I dare you to try that argument), only that she wasn’t being nice by pointing it out. ”

    I have a few thoughts about this. First, do individual members have problems with sexism and homophobia? Yes, sure. I don’ t know that anyone is going to argue with that. But, I find it interesting that of all the vices and problems, many people fixate on these two. I’m not defending these things, but for some reason, homophobia and sexism are simply seen as being beyond the pale. In other words, its ok for liberal Mormons to have their weaknesses, but by golly, we will simply not tolerate homophobia and sexism and if any poor shmoe is guilty of these things, off with his head! Yet, criticism, pride, mockery, and all sorts of other personal sins, well, they are just between us and the Lord.

    The Savior’s atonement is fortunately there for all of us sinners, including sexists and homophobes. If they are faithful to their covenants, then they will be healed and cleansed and sanctified just like anyone else.

    But, there is a problem. What is homophobia and sexism? If someone simply believes what the church teaches, does that make him or her a homophobe or sexist? Those words are used to attack and label and marginalize, and they are generally used very subjectively. Most often homophobe and sexist are simply pejoratives thrown out like verbal grenades. Besides, I thought that our sins and shortcomings were personal and that we shouldn’t judge. Why is it wrong for me (and it is) to judge Sis. Hansen but it’s ok for her to judge her neighbors? Is it ok because homophobia and sexism are so evil and bad that it trumps what Jesus said about judging?

    Another problem is that Sis. Hansen seems to be implying that this is not merely something that individual members struggle with, but that the church’s official teaching, doctrine and policy, that the church itself is homophobic and sexist.

    I have a problem with that. Does that mean because our doctrine says that sexual activity outside of marriage, including homosexuality, is wrong, does that mean the church is homophobic? Because women can’t hold the priesthood, does that mean the church is sexist? Might there not be reasons for these policies that go beyond simply sexism and homophobia? We may not understand them, but surely they exist.

    I understand how difficult it must be for those who struggle with homosexual inclinations, and for those sisters who feel that they need the priesthood to feel like they are fully valued. But calling the church names because it doesn’t change and conform itself to personal hopes seems like a cheap shot as well as sour grapes.

  86. Jim, you said:

    “I am certain that we have received exactly the knowledge that God wants us to have at this time. If it were not so, and if Pres. Hinckley were intentionally or not restraining new revelation, I am certain that God would instantly remove him. There must be a reason(s) why we are being kept from a more personal relationship with Her at this time. ”

    I’m glad you brought this up. I have always thought it was strange to say that the Brethren were unrighteously hiding this knowledge. That implies that they have it, which means they are communicating with the Lord. However, if they were supressing what He wanted made known, why would he not remove them from their places? I realize that is somewhat of a simplification, but it is at the heart of the argument.

  87. As for “Virginia’s” questions; doesn’t the larger context of an encroaching world shed some kind of an interpretive light on what happens in the church? If the church were in a societal vacuum then maybe…

    Kristine said (speaking of Hansen), “She has had more occasions to bump up against institutional and cultural biases of Mormonism than some–she was outspokenly pro-ERA and has been active and outspoken in feminist Mormon groups for a long time.”

    I think that labelling what Hansen “bumps up against” as merely “cultural biases” is an indication of a bias toward Hansen’s “outspokenly pro-ERA” position.

    Why is it that when the left is at wits end that a cry of insensitivity (or lack of charity) on the part of the right is brandished as the last hopeful weapon? It’s not entirely one’s lack of sensitivity that causes gaging over those d–n brusselsprouts. (tho I admit its fun to dramatize it a bit)

  88. Braden, I think the reason people get stuck on homophobia and sexism is that official church positions, which are not themselves intrinsically homphobic or sexist, can be used to buttress sexist or homophobic members’ notions that their own prejudices are righteous. A man who is disinclined to value the contributions of women will not find himself encouraged by the structure and culture of the church to repent of his sexism. Likewise, a homophobe who makes a caustic comment about gays in Sunday School is unlikely to meet a stinging rebuke, and will probably get more than a few laughs. It’s easy (though not necessarily correct) for liberals to conclude that the church cares less about getting conservatives to repent than getting liberals to conform.

  89. “I think that labelling what Hansen “bumps up againstâ€? as merely “cultural biasesâ€? is an indication of a bias toward Hansen’s “outspokenly pro-ERAâ€? position.”

    Jack, can you elaborate a bit? I think I know what you mean, but I’d like you to flesh it out before I respond.

    And I’m not at wit’s end yet (of course, I’m also not “the left,” so maybe you weren’t talking about me).

  90. Kristine wrote: “And I thought it was just plain not nice to take a piece that was delivered in what its author took to be a friendly forum and drop it into a forum that could be presumed to be somewhat hostile, with an open invitation to pile on. That’s not good sport.”

    I admit I am a little stunned by this. Not nice? Friendly forum? Hostile forum? I have always thought of Sunstone as the New Era of LDS intellectual mags, and these sentiments seem to sort of seal the deal. How depressing it would be if (e.g.) National Review and The New Republic articles could not be reviewed, discussed, and yes, even criticized, because after all their authors wrote them for people who agreed with them. I am sorry if my comments on the Sacred Six were snarky, but I think my back muscles are just fine, and I think what I wrote was accurate. Enough is enough is enough already–there is something gruesomely masochistic about this constant licking of wounds, this constant preening of wounds, like the Far Side joke where the guy at the bar is comparing scars with Frankenstein. It is hilarious to be accused of back-patting for making a few jokes about one Sunstone article when (for how many years now?) the sound from Sunstone is one long neverending pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat …

    The critiques of the Hansen article on this thread have been mild, to say the least. It seems not to be the force of the critiques that ruffles so much as the fact there are critiques at all.

  91. Kris, That is a fair point , and I understand what you are saying about the perception of getting conformity rather than repentance. Again, though, I still don’t understand why it is important for more liberal members to worry about the sins of their brothers and sisters. During my time at BYU, I knew lots of liberal Mormons who felt that their thoughts and struggles and criticisms were no one’s business and that charity and agency required that they be left alone to dissent as they would. Why is it ok for this same group, and I realize I am speaking in generalities here, to be so worried about the shortcomings, real or perceived, of their spiritual siblings? I get the idea that liberals have decided that sexism and homophobia are so important that they trump anything else and that there is some sort of special dispensation to criticize your brother or sister if they are suspect. Thus, it is easy, if not necessarily correct, for conservatives (gosh these labels are so inexpressive) to feel that liberals care more about implementing a social justice/pc agenda than loving their neighbors or going along with the program of the church.

    I would like to suggest though, that sexist or other unkind, prejudiced, unChristlike attitudes are challenged through sincere, honest participation in the gospel. Any man who has not changed his attitude towards women from listening to Pres. Hinckley speak is either deaf or simply past feeling. I know my own appreciation for the contributions and qualities of women has grown and my respect for and kindness to my wife has imporved over the years of attending priesthood meetings, general and local. Likewise, participating in ward council meetings, going home teaching, etc. ,all bring me into contact with remarkable women, and hearing members of the RS, YW, and Primary presidencies speak also does this. In other words, no, the Brethren don’t issue stinging rebukes about sexism, but what they teach clearly is incompatible with it, and experience in the church helps us appreciate everyone more.

  92. Kingsley, it’s not that I mind criticism, and I’m certainly not saying everything in Sunstone is off-limits for criticism. I’ve even said I wasn’t especially impressed with Nadine’s essay. My point was that the “Pillars of My Faith” sessions are very personal, intended to be sort of devotional, and function partly to reinforce the group cohesion of the Sunstone Symposium crowd. Critiques that don’t take that context into account are likely to take the form of restating the blindingly obvious truth that Mormon liberals are just as capable of intolerance as Mormon conservatives. Given that this thread started with a condemnation of Hansen’s piece for its lack of originality, well…

  93. Jim Richins,

    I did not fully agree with your read of Sister Hansen’s article, but I do agree with your appraisal of Sister Toscano’s. While I do not agree with her on every point, I think it was a thoughtful and temperate piece.

    With respect to homphobia and sexism in the Church, I do not think the Church’s institutional policies mean that there is appreciably more homophobia and sexism within the organization than outside. But just as the Church’s previous restrictions on priesthood and full temple blessings to less than all worthy individuals certainly gave an “appearance” of racism, the Church’s practices regarding the sex of priesthood holders and condemnation of same sex marriage and sexuality could be interpreted in a similar way. Does anyone know if there are any attitudinal surveys measuring sexism and homophobia among the Church membership? As I recall, even while the priesthood/temple restrictions were in place, surveys showed that Church members were no more likely to have racist attitudes (and indeed less likely in most cases) than the population at large.

  94. So, Braden, I guess we’ve arrived at these two truths:

    1) Liberals and conservatives are tempted to judgment and intolerance—everybody wants to get the mote out of her sister’s eye (pc language especially for you :)) instead of attending to the beam in her own

    2) Liberals and conservatives prioritize different gospel principles. Liberals have overactive sexism and homophobia radars, conservative antennae are prone to twitch at the faintest whiff of disobedience.

    Fair enough?

  95. Kingsley, I forgot to say that I had to spend about 15 minutes cleaning up my keyboard after I snorted Diet Coke all over it laughing at your first comment. Thanks a lot, man :)

  96. Kingsley:

    No one has yet argued that Hansen’s essay shouldn’t be open for discussion or criticism. I think Kris’s point, and one that I’d agree with, is that picking one essay from several that appear in each issue of Sunstone, which is published at least 5 times a year, and posting on it at T&S is a lot like showing George W. Bush’s grammatical gaffes to a crowd of Democrats just so they can go nuts.

    It’s like watching a group of monkeys screetch and scream and start throwing their own feces around as soon as they read the article. But as I pointed out before, why didn’t Nate drop Louis Midgley’s article, or Davis Bitton’s article from the latest issue of FARMS into the discussion? If the point was that Hansen’s essay was unoriginal, you can’t get much more unoriginal than FARMS criticizing Signature Books, can you?

    Since the sound coming from Sunstone is one long “paaaaaat”, perhaps you can explain that in the context of articles like John-Charles Duffy on LDS Apologists, the Book of Mormon reflections by four very different authors, Kevin Christensen on Wagging the Dog, Molly Bennion, Bill Russell, and Mack Stirling on scripture, Parker Blount on his experience growing up in rural Georgia, the reviews of the Passion of the Christ by Bob Rees and Eric Samuelsen, Barry Laga on Mormon Metaphors, etc., etc. These are all from the last three issues of Sunstone. Did you bother to even read any of them? Or is it just easier to come up with whitty rejoinders that have the drooling crowd at T&S ready to burst out in applause and laughter?

  97. Hmmm–how embarrassing to have outed myself as a member of the “drooling crowd at T&S” just as John was typing that :)

  98. I personally do not know why people take the Sunstone so seriously. Of course there will be stuff like Hansen’s essay. For goodness sake, there it is a magazine for “intellectuals,” and there will be some who think they are more enlightened than almost everyone around them. There are plenty of positive articles from the magazine too, as John points out. John, in fact, makes a good point, but there is a definite “the members are bigoted fools/the Church is messed up” streak at the magazine, but is not the overwhelming current some say.

    We should not be too surprised at this streak. What forums are there to discuss problems with the Church or its members? Perhaps lack of this type of venting makes ugly rants out of simple complaints.

  99. John H: That line about the monkeys was damn good. You should use it next time Sunstone has a “We are the Champions” night. Kristine: Thanks. Do you ever put Limeade in your Diet Coke?

  100. Sorry Kris :)

    And sorry in advance for my harsh comments. But if some people can’t see the waist-deep irony (even as they wade through it) of criticizing Sunstone for lack of originality or thoughtfulness with posts that hash over the exact same arguments groups like Sunstone and Dialogue have been hearing for 30 years, then I’m at a loss.

  101. Kingsley,

    I do like lime in my Diet Coke, but not when I’m reading T&S–the lime seems to burn more when I accidentally snort it through my nose.

    Thanks for asking :)

  102. “That line about the monkeys was damn good. You should use it next time Sunstone has a “We are the Championsâ€? night.”

    What’s that? Another hilarious, knee-slapping clever remark that in no way addresses any of the points I raised or deals with any of the articles I mentioned? I’m shocked – shocked I say! – to learn this kind of behavior goes on here!

    Of course, if we just keep perpetuating the image of Sunstone as a mindless group of automatons ready to congratulate themselves on their own outrage and intellectual superiority, then it becomes easier to be dismissive of everyone and everything involved with it. Then we really can pat ourselves on the back because we are so much smarter than those New Era, GED-hopeful wannabes! After all, they’re just a bunch of people who *think* they’re smart, but I’m the one who’s really figured it out since I’m both smart *and* faithful. When will they learn, when will they learn.

  103. John H: Relax, man. Kristine has told us how hard it is to clean Diet Coke from a keyboard–think of what a burst forehead vein must be like. I sort of liked the apologetics article.

  104. For the record, since I’ve commented in this thread, Sis. Hansen’s article was the first Sunstone article I’ve ever read in my life. I had no real opinion of it before reading the essay. My criticism of the essay was based solely on its content.

    As for the appropriateness of the close reading that I did of her text, which was intended as a personal expression of faith, I have a couple of thoughts. First, I have no problem with testimonies or expressions of faith that are not informed by a critical perspective. Testimonies of all varieties should be received in the spirit they are given. The fact is that Sis. Hansen’s feelings are presented expressly as being both spiritually and intellectually more enlightened than standard-issue LDS testimony, so I treated it as such. Had she presented her ideas as a record of a personal journey without constant reference to the value of others ideas, I wouldn’t have reacted nearly so strongly.

    Second, my reading of her testimony, and the conculsions that I draw from it, leads me to believe that her notion of faith is so radically different from my own that I find it threatening and dangerous to me, so I seek to understand it. Even if a critical analysis of the essay is inappropriate response, I feel compelled to read it critically to ease the cognitive dissonance that gives rise to in me.

    Finally, after reading this thread, I’m tempted to quote an outrageously un-PC line about arguing on the Internet and the Special Olympics. If you don’t know it, and you’re curious, google it.

  105. Kingsley, John has a point. You do duck too much–we all want to know what you think and not just how rhetorically clever you can be. Consider yourself invited to be serious every once in a while, too, even though we greatly value your comic relief.

  106. John H.,

    The problems people have with the Hanson article go far beyond Nate’s original (?) criticism of a lack of originality. I think we can all agree that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Or anyway, the two of us can agree on that. And since we don’t get to agree very often I’ll take what chances I get.


    You may wish to look into those plastic shields for your keyboard like I see in mechanic’s shops.

  107. Kristine: I though I said what I thought. Must I go through and say what I did or did not like about every Sunstone article? It seems perfectly appropriate to comment about the general tone of a thing, e.g. the Ensign seems generally saccharine though good articles are published from time to time.

  108. It seems the content of this thread can be divided into several distinct issues:

    1. The Originality of Sunstone: I can’t comment on this, as I’m not a regular reader of Sunstone, although the argument that FARMS isn’t original either doesn’t speak much to the merits of the question. Twits — 0; Sunstone Liberals — 0

    2. The Content of Hansen’s Essay: I happen to agree with the twits. I think she comes off as being absurdly elitist, condescending, and self-righteous. Twits — 1; Sunstone Liberals — 0

    3. The Fair Gameness of Criticizing Hansen’s Essay: Much of the vitriol of this dicussion was leveled at Kristine’s suggestion that, “I still think it’s shockingly unkind to attack someone’s personal expression of faith, and tear it apart for having unoriginal metaphors, condescending tone, or whatever.” I fervently disagree with this notion, and it seems that Kristine has backed away from it a bit. Twits — 1; Sunstone Liberals — 0

    4. The Unoriginality of the Twits Criticizing the Unoriginality of the Sunstone Liberals: John H. has a point that the twits aren’t exactly offering up criticisms of the Sunstone Liberals that haven’t been heard many, many times before. Twits — 0; Sunstone Liberals — 1

    5. Monkeys Throwing Feces: This induced a funny image in mind, for which I award John H. a point. Twits — 0; Sunstone Liberals — 1.

    6. Righteousness of Twits vs. Sunstone Liberals: Kristine admits to imbibing a forbidden beverage; Kingsley implies he drinks said forbidden beverage as well. Clearly neither of them are worthy of temple recommends, and as such oughn’t to be discussing Gospel topics. Twits — -1; Sunstone Liberals — -1.

    Bottom line: Neither side’s criticism of the other is original because neither side has changed very much.

    Solution: Nadine Hansen, Kristine, and Kingsley should be excommunicated.

  109. John H.,
    Perhaps the reason Nate didn’t include the article by my dear uncle Lou in the mix is that it isn’t available to those that don’t subscribe to FARMS Review of Books. Since this is an internet discussion forum it makes sense that articles that are on the internet are most likely to be discussed. Consider it a compliment. This does bring up the point of why some articles from FARMS are up and others aren’t.

  110. Kris,
    For the sake of T&S harmony, I think we can agree to your two propositions, sexist language and all :). I am still curious as to why sexism and homophobia, and the perception thereof are such cardinal sins. I am not saying they are ok–they are NOT, but I am not convinced, though I am open to it, that they are any worse than the multitudinous other sins, shortcomings and flaws that abound in people’s individual lives.

    John H,
    I realize you are resonding to a lot of posts and so generalities are a necessity, but I am with Kris–most of the critical posts, at least mine, were not concerned with a lack of originality. I don’t see that as a problem. And, you have a fair point about the Bush gaffes insofar as people were arguing that Sis. Hansen’s article is representative of Sunstone. Again, that wasn’t really the point of my criticisms.

    I am intrigued by your comments, but wonder if you, for the sake of discussion, would define homophobia so we are all on the same page. If you are talking about discriminating in terms of employment, violence, unkindness, my guess is that most or at least many, LDSs feel strongly against it. But, if you are talking about supporting gay marriage, that is likely to be a sticking point. Can you clarify?

  111. I’ve noticed that sometimes when some folks don’t like certain comments, the subsequent complaints are often aimed at the tone rather than at the content, and that also the complaints are sometimes rather generalized and not directed at a specific person. These complaints are either that the commenters were being “too serious” or too lighthearted, “glib” or silly. Sometimes the complaint is that the tone of the comments does not match the tone of the original post. Judging the tone of comments rather than the content seems to be a means to express dissatisfaction while avoiding specific criticisms aimed at specific individuals. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s not. It seems to me that it’s a sort of careful and politic way to say “shut up” (though it’s not always all that subtle). Of course I’ll compound the hypocrisy here by not naming names myself either.

    I do recognize that Kingsley is getting his little dose of specific criticism here but I thought I’d just mention something I’ve seen occurring occasionally over an extended period of time.

    Honestly, I think Kingsley’s refreshingly satiric barbs have been sufficiently pointed and meaty — to a degree that we could all see exactly what he was criticizing. There’s plenty of excellent analysis going on here in the comments (Bryce’s for example) that there’s plenty of room for the more lighthearted reactions as well.

    That’s about all the monkey’s feces I had available for now. Maybe with these soiled hands I’ll now go and make one of my favorite concoctions: lime juice and grape soda. Kingsley, if you time it right maybe you can make sure that ends up on the keyboard rather than my tummy.

  112. “Judging the tone of comments rather than the content seems to be a means to express dissatisfaction while avoiding specific criticisms aimed at specific individuals.”

    Touché. My specificity, if it was ever there regarding the Hansen article, bled into a generalized rant about people who nail their own hands to crosses closely clustered to make group discussion easier. I really did not mean to duck, unless it was to avoid another one of Danithew’s massive poo bombs.

  113. Braden, and others, here’s one possible reason why sexism and homophobia are worse than pride or dishonesty.

    Ask a Latter-day Saint who is guilty of pride if it would be wrong to brag about himself and feel better than others. He would say yes.

    Ask a Latter-day Saint who is guilty of occasional dishonesty if it is wrong to lie: She would say yes

    Ask a Latter-day Saint who is guilty of homophobia if it would be wrong to look down upon a person with same-sex attraction. Often, he would say no.

    Ask a Latter-day Saint who is guilty of sexism if it would be wrong to limit the roles that women ought to play in the workplace or in relationships. Often, he would say no.

    In short, pride and dishonesty are sins we all agree are wrong, but struggle with despite our conviction. On the other hand, we still have not all arrived at a point where we agree that homophobia and sexism are truly wrong. Or rather, while we may all agree that ‘homophobia’ and ‘sexism’ are wrong, we probably do not all agree that certain specific examples of those attitudes are wrong.

    Thus, while we must always help others recognize the wrongfulness of things they already know are wrong, it might be especially worth crusading to convince people of the wrongness of acts they do not currently accept as wrong. It’s hard to change how well people conform to their attitudes about virtue, but much easier to actually change the attitudes themselves.

  114. Ryan,

    You have some good points in there, and I leaning toward agreeing with you, but I need to think more about it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  115. Braden, I don’t think sexism and homophobia are worse sins than many others, but they are more acceptable in Mo culture than others–a barbed remark about gays or feminists in a church meeting would probably go unremarked, while smoking a cigarette or criticizing a GA would not. I think that perceived inequity is what liberals react to.

  116. I feel like I just walked into a South Park episode. Twits, liberal weenies, and crap flying around like Mr. Hankey was tossed into a blender. Throw in a midget in a bikini and we’ve got a heck of a show.


    My nose bleed tipped me off before any serious trauma occurred. I have some diminished use of my right-hand – it’s hard to know if I suffered a minor stroke or am feeling the effects of years of following Mark E. Peterson’s advice to tie my hand to my bedpost at night.


    I can only assume I was left off the excommunication list because you think I long ago had my name removed in a fit of righteous indignation :) Thanks for the great laugh – I too have liquid all over my keyboard. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s just water, not alcohol. I keep the alcohol handy when we need a little fuel to burn faithful members at the stake hear at Sunstone (usually the Book of Mormons we light on fire get the trick done though).

  117. The word homophobia gets thrown around a lot. But it seems to me that this is a word that should be used for those who fear homosexuals and not those who hate and despise homosexuals. There ought to be some other word to differentiate between the two. Of course the word homophobia is handy for the gay rights movement because whoever is described by this term is automatically deemed to be suffering from some kind of absurd psychosis and needs counseling to overcome their obvious delusions.

    Of course you know how to treat someone with a phobia. A person who suffers from arachnophobia should be placed in a room full of spiders …

  118. Kris,
    That is a very fair point nicely explained and I thank you for posting it. I do admire liberals for their commitment to equity. I am curious, and this is not for argument or debate, just for my own information, what are homophobia and sexism–how would you define them?

  119. Braden,

    You ask a good question. I suppose “homophobia” (or conversely, the “homosexual agenda”), like racism, exists on a continuum. On one extreme might be a belief that there is no fundamental or moral difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and that government and religion have no basis in trying to encourage or discourage either type of conduct. The other extreme might be emotional (or physical) persecution of gays and lesbians, or advocacy of the recriminalization (with actual jail time), or ineligibilityfor anyone engaging in homosexual conduct. I’d be curious where the rank and file of Latter-days fall on that continuum of beliefs, compared with rank and file Americans (and perhaps compared to LDS and U.S. attitudes 20 years ago and 50 years ago).

  120. danithew–I don’t like the word homophobia either, but it has been commonly used for a while to describe irrational dislike and distrust of homosexuals. Somebody with no 4-year-old clammering for their attention could probably google the term and find a quick link for a history of its invention. I think the first use is credited to George Weinberg, who really was describing fear of being in close quarters with homosexuals, but the term was expanded in the late 70s/early 80s to more generally describe negative attitudes towards gays.

    I’d say more about my own understandings of the terms, but my son is literally pulling on my fingers and u0uer g b….

  121. John H: As far as tying one’s hand to one’s bedpost goes, I would certainly follow the Brethren on this issue if it did make smoking and masturbating at the same time so difficult.

  122. A few more useless comments like this one and we’ve made flinging monkey poo one of the most popular entries of all time at T&S.

    I’m considering making some gratuitous posts on the least popular of the most popular, but there seems to be a lot of threads between 140 and 145 posts.

  123. Davis Bell: Very funny. Nice job. I missed your post earlier.

    David: I appreciate your elucidation, but I am still a bit at a loss for understanding what we are talking about when we talk about homophobia in the church. Which point of the spectrum are we pointing at? My guess is that nearly all LDSs would say violence against gays is wrong, a vast majority that discrimination is wrong in terms of jobs, etc. (though, some would be worried about having to rent a room to a homosexual couple, most likely). I would guess a smaller majority would be for outlawing, though I suspect that would have more to do with fears about gay marriage becoming a reality than anything else. I doubt you would get a majority, perhaps a sizeable minority that would advocate actual jail time. I think there would be a large minority opposed to gay marriage.

    I could be wrong, that’ s just my gut feeling.

  124. How about this: (acknowledging, again, that the word is imprecise and unfortunate, but must be stuck with now that it’s entrenched) homophobia is the belief that people who are primarily attracted to members of their same sex are disgusting, undesirable, un-relatable, alien, and irredeemable.

    The people I know that I would call homophobes evidence a strong, visceral reaction whenever talk of homosexuality arises or whenever they come into close proximity with someone who might be gay. Instead of simply noting in the silence of their minds that they disapprove of that person’s lifestyle, they experience real feelings of revulsion and alienation just by being near them.

    While this description sounds exaggerated, and may not cover all those with lower levels of homophobia, I have written it this way because 1) I think this is a rendering that all of us may agree is morally wrong, and 2) this is the strain of homophobia I have actually witnessed in more than just one or two people that I know well (all of whom are church members)

  125. Even as I was writing my little criticism of the term homophobia I was realizing that there was no alternative word. Part of the reason I continue to write was that I thought someone might say “Duh Danithew, such-and-such word is the obvious alternative word you are looking for.” But it appears the consensus is that homophobia is the only word we’ve got and it’s what we’re stuck with. So now I’m suddenly wondering if there’s a word from another language that we could borrow … probably not though.

  126. Braden,

    I spent the first 18 years of my life growing up in what has always struck me as a typical Utah ward in an average Salt Lake suburb. There was another kid my same age that lived five houses away from me for the last 13 of those 18 years. We were best friends through middle and high school. We were both very active in our ward, alternating as presidents and counselors in the various quorums we moved through. We both spent a lot of time in scouting, and each received our Eagle. We took most of the same classes in school, and did many of the same extracurricular activities (we debated together for three years on the high school debate team). I think that most people in our ward looked approvingly upon both of us–upstanding young men doing well in church, in school, and seemingly in life. Beginning with our senior year of high school and continuing through the first year of college, my friend gradually let it be known that he was gay. A year or so after that, he learned he had HIV. Many people in our ward who had smiled upon my friend for more than a decade now could no longer bear to shake his hand, talk to him, or even acknowledge his presence.

    I don’t know if those people wanted my friend to serve actual jail time, of if they were merely could not bear the thought that he was gay. Call it what you will, but I don’t like it, and there is too much of it. I suspect you don’t like it either. I hope you’ll call others on it when it rears its ugly head.

  127. Bryce,

    If you’d get that new blog of yours launched already maybe you could write a post about the differences between useful and useless comments. I’m being quite serious. I’m sure it would be an interesting read and might save T&S from having more monkey poo threads entering the most popular posts. :)

    In the meantime, I’m happy to enter this useless comment and thus help this post to arrive in the standings where it belongs. I’m trying to remember what post had all that chupabraca nonsense in it and how the two compare for comment popularity (as well as utter ridiculousness).

  128. Good discussion of the term:

    I agree that institutionalized values can differ from correct doctrine, and that discrepancies between doctrine (the “ideal”) and practice can be revealed in sunday school discussions and elsewhere.

    However, I disagree that institutionalized homophobia or sexism can be demonstrated using the hypothetical examples given. In particular, Kristine’s disproportionate example is unrealistic, since a barbed remark about gays or feminists during Gospel Doctrine isn’t itself a sin (just bad taste), but smoking a cigarette is, and therefore, would be expected to cause a much more severe reaction. If the example were modified so that a comment about gays and a comment about smokers or masturbators were contrasted, it becomes much harder to concede any institutional bias.

    But, even then, these are hypotheticals and can not be used to deduce latent homophobia in the church. In real life, I suspect a missionary sent home for having “homosexual tendencies” is very unlikely to be seamlessly integrated back into his home ward’s Elder’s Quorum. I think that if we analyze the many possible reasons why this would be the case, we would be much more likely to actually discover institutionalized homophobia.

    In my experience, however, problems such as suspecting another member of homosexual tendencies or spreading gossip of the same, taking steps to ensure that no homosexuals can receive callings or participate in ward activities, or disseminating homophobic teachings during Church or through Church-related channels, just are not very big problems.

  129. Randy,
    First of all, I am very sorry to hear about your friend. There is clearly a great deal of pain wrapped in those sentences and I sincerely hope you can find peace. Although I have gay friends, I haven’t had as close a relationship as it sounds like you had, nor have I lost anyone to HIV, but I can imagine it must be very painful, particularly under the circumstances you describe.

    Please understand, I am not defending homophobia or saying that it is ok. I was questioning what I perceive to be a tendency to give it a hierarchical ranking that trumps other things. I also don’t think it is fair to call people who believe that any extra-marital sex is wrong but have no personal animus, homophobic. I hope that did not sound glib. I realize that arguing in the abstact can be painful to people for whom the abstraction is a reality.

    Personally, I think that the response of those ward members was simply wrong, and I can’t think of any scripture or teaching from a modern prophet that would justify that behavior. In fact, to the contrary, I can think of several that would more fully condemn the behavior.

    It’s not mine to judge, but I believe those people who acted that way will have to make an accounting to the Lord for what they did (or perhaps, more accurately what they didn’t do). You mention you would hope I would call others on it. I have tried to help those in my circle of influence understand that homosexual transgressions, while wrong, are not qualitatively worse than other kinds of sins and that there is no reason we shouldn’t love and be merciful to someone who struggles with SSA. I’m very sympathetic to those who struggle with these problems I can imagine it must be very, very painful on so many levels. The way I see it, we are all in desperate need of repentance, mercy and grace, no matter what specific sins and weaknesses we are tempted with.

    Please accept my sincere condolences on your friend.

  130. I would prefer a set of terms that allowed us to distinguish between related cases:

    1. Desire to impose legal restrictions on homosexual activity.

    2. Condemning the sin of engaging in sexual sin (which is a righteous and good thing)

    3. Condemning those that engage in a sexual sin (which is wrong)

    4. Discomfort around people that do not engage in sexual sin, but feel same-sex attraction

    5. Speaking out against those that push a gay rights agenda in the public forum.

    6. Beating up people that engage in homosexual behavior.

    7. Other forms of discrimination against those that engage in homesexual behavior.

    8. Other forms of discrimination against those that feel same-sex attraction.

    I think these all get linked to homophobia, but that is not really useful. There is a difference between how we feel and how we act. This is true both for those that feel SS attraction and for those that feel SS revulsion. There is also a difference between condemning sin and condemning people. It is very common to condemn people for their sins, and homosexual sins are no different in this regard. We can give this condemnatory behavior a special name but it is much the same as the way we treat many other sinners as outcasts. It is not so much about homosexuality as about a desire to judge others unrightesouly.

    Also, homophobia typically should not be defined by public policy views. Those views are not necessarily related to any dislike for homosexuals, and so the definition is not useful.

  131. Randy: Are those who support anti-sodomy laws homophobic by definition? Does it make a difference how concerned they are that such laws be enforced?

    Ryan Bell: The several Church members you know who are homophobic: How did they manifest the fact that they consider those with SSA irredeemable?

    John H: One way to get Brother Midgely’s pieces on Signature Books to be more original would be for Signature (and its major players) to open up their archives to him. Should we not hold our breath?

  132. Jim:
    You said “I suspect a missionary sent home for having “homosexual tendenciesâ€? is very unlikely to be seamlessly integrated back into his home ward’s Elder’s Quorum.”

    Sadly, I think you are correct, which is tragic. I would hope he would feel integrated into my quorum.

  133. Randy, I appreciated your comment. The case you describe is unfortunately entirely too easy to imagine.

    I think one of the points at issue in this thread is your admonition to “call others on it [their homophobia] when it rears its ugly head.” Sis. Hansen certainly is clear on where she stands on our responsibility to do so. I struggle with how exactly I might do this, and when and if I should. Sometimes the lines aren’t so clear to me.

    For example, what do you say to a friend who fights to keep his or her child out of the lesbian first grade teacher’s class in the elementary school? I don’t think it’s a fight worth fighting, but I don’t want my friends telling me how I should take care of my children either. What should I say to my friend whose brother recently came out? My friend is uncomfortable with having his brother and his partner over for dinner. I think that the reaction is unreasonable, but I don’t know how the family relationships work in his family, and my opinion hasn’t been sought out. Am I a coward for not speaking my mind? Or are these issues best left to individuals to decide for themselves? I really don’t know, but I’m by nature confrontation-averse, so I generally keep my mouth shut. Maybe I’m wrong for not speaking up.

  134. Dan (and Kingsley)-

    To be clear, I was referencing my own post as useless, not the one immediately preceding it.

    The discussion of the term “homophobia” seems to have returned this thread to civil and interesting discussion (albeit with much less interesting imagery).

    As for my own blog, I’m working on it. Stay tuned to this channel for late-breaking news.

  135. Jim: Although you may be right that being same-sex attracted might exacerbate it, I think that any person sent home early from his mission for any transgression woul find difficulty re-integrating into his home ward’s Elder’s Quorum.

    Randy: I wasn’t using “irredeemable” in a literal sense, as in, my homophobic friends believe that same-sex attracted people must inevitable be cast down to hell. Rather, I use the word to suggest the view that these people are lacking in good or worthy characteristics, and have nothing good to offer the world, and are therefore worther very little— almost not worth redeeming.

    Frank: You are correct that for both the same-sex attracted individual, and the person judging him, there is a difference between thoughts and behaviors. However, we’re speaking of homophobia and same-sex attraction, not actual discrimination against gays and homosexual activity. In other words, in the frame of our discussion, it’s the persons feelings and attitudes that are relevant. Homophobia is a feeling or attitude, and must be addressed as such. We cannot hold a person blameless for hating gays but not doing anything mean to them.

  136. I’m thoroughly confused by this thread — I don’t know whether to laugh or choke.

    P.S. I agree that there should be a new word coined for hatred of homosexuals. Right now, homophobia to homosexuals equals anti-semitism to Jews. It’s just a catchall term.

    But homophobia leads to… anti-homoism. There’s a general misconception in the world that someone could be “taught” to be a homosexual, and would thus choose a self-destructive lifestyle. It isn’t true, and why anyone in the world would choose it (unless they were born to it) is beyond me. But this is why many people shy away from homosexuals — fear of being drawn in or having one’s children drawn in. It’s a little silly.

    Sorry to take the thread this way, not my fault this time.

  137. I’ve sometimes wondered if the church couldn’t do more to make it much more acceptable for celibate homosexuals to “out themselves” and play significant roles in the Church. Perhaps there is fear that this could become a fad of some sort but it just seems that the road for those who have same-sex attraction is a very hard one — perhaps made much more difficult than it has to be.

  138. Yes, Dan, I’ve mentioned many times, if there are going to be celibate homosexuals attending the LDS church, then we need a doctrine of celibacy. They need to be applauded for their choice, the “high road” as somebody recently called it. Perhaps there should be a special quorum, just for them, the Levites, or Ministering Angels, or something.

    Right now, of course, they just need to be silent, marginalizing themselves even further.

  139. I wonder if the kind of skin-crawl revulsion version of homophobia is largely a generational thing: I’ve found that the skin-crawl response seems much more common among people over, say, age forty (by no means do ALL people over 40 have this response, of course!), while it seems very uncommong among those under thirty (though this isn’t to say that other types of homophobia don’t exist among younger folks).

    If my anecdotal observation is correct, I wonder to what it should be attributed? Cultural factors, of course, but what precisely? The recent harvest of “Queer Eye”-type television seems symptomatic rather than causal.

  140. Braden & Bryce I,

    I don’t have a problem with the old adage “hate the sin but love the sinner.” The problem is that some people get so worked up hating the sin that they forget the other, arguably more important, part. In my experience, this happens more frequently to some sins (gay sex) than others (straight sex).

    I don’t disagree that it’s not always clear how to respond in a given situation. The facts are always more complicated in real life than in abstract hypotheticals. I’ve certainly not gone back to my old Utah ward and admonished my former neighbors for what strikes me as borish behavior. I don’t know that I should. Bryce I, you raise good questions, and I don’t have neat and tidy answers. If anyone does, I’d be interested to hear them.

  141. Here’s my thought on how to treat a gay blood relative — love that person irregardless of their homosexuality. Should you invite that person over to dinner and allow them to bring their partner or gayfriend? Sure.

    The only caveat I’d add to that “sure” answer is that I probably would not want to invite someone over who is flamboyantly sexual in the way they present themselves to the general public. But that’s more about personality conflict than sexual orientation. I’m kind of put off by that kind of flamboyant sexuality whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual — despite the fact that I’ll occasionally listen to a Prince song.

    As long as a person won’t scare the kids and pets, invite them over — especially if they are a blood relative or closely linked to a blood relative.

  142. “despite the fact that I’ll occasionally listen to a Prince song”

    Speaking of sexy music, “Raspberry Beret” is one of the world’s greatest pop/funk tunes. The bit about the horses is almost–but just not quite–too much, which makes the whole thing perfect.

  143. I’m not seeing it, Danithew. I would no more invite over the partner/gayfriend than I would, say, the equally counterfactual adulter that my sister broke up her home to run off with. I couldn’t acknowledge that they deserved any status. If I said nothing, the walls would cry out. To do otherwise, it seems to me, is to disrespect yourself, to say that there is no place where you and your beliefs must hold sway.

  144. Ryan:

    that is exactly one of my points. If a miss. was sent home, he/she would find it difficult to be reintegrated into “civilian” life. There are many factors at work, including length of time in service, previous ward-integration of the family, effectiveness of the Bishop/Stake President/Mission President, and more. But, if a miss. was sent home *solely* for SSA (and, it’s happened), how would THAT affect reintegration?

    I just think that examining a few real-world test cases (as if that were possible) would be a better way to determine homophobia than hypotheticals.

  145. So have we invented a new word here? Danithew and Adam share credit for the newly coined “gayfriend.” It’s kind of cute, and pretty neutral. Nice job, guys, you’ve both made a real contribution to gay culture.

  146. Um, Adam, does Christ’s association with prostitutes, publicans, and sinners of all sorts have any application in such a situation?

  147. Adam,

    Of course that’s your call.

    Maybe the way I presented that was a little bit too unreserved. If I had a gay sibling (I don’t) who was was living with a dedicated partner or if my sibling was dedicated to living a gay lifestyle — I’d feel that in order to build and maintain a friendship with my sibling I’d probably have to be friendly towards the partner. It doesn’t mean I’d be condoning their homosexuality. But having someone over to dinner doesn’t mean you see eye-to-eye with them on everything or that you can’t disagree vehemently with something they are doing.

    Would you consider befriending an atheist? Would you ever consider inviting an atheist over for dinner?

    That situation with your sister that committed adultery strikes me a bit differently. She had committed by covenant to be with a certain person and then broke that covenant and destroyed an existing family. I’d probably be just as offended as you are with that kind of a situation. That’s something more than living an immoral lifestyle. That’s outright betrayal.

  148. On the whole “gayfriend” thing … I was trying to figure out how to write the concept of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” and then just plain decided “gayfriend” would work best. I’ve never heard it before, but I can’t believe no one else has thought of that or used it previously. I doubt it’s an original and don’t know if I should be proud if it is. If I’ve truly contributed to gay culture, report me to my bishop. :)

  149. But the point is, Danithew, that the betrayal is my sister’s, not her new lover’s, right? So would you consider having your sister in your home by herself? I would, probably, with time. If so, then it suggests to me that the betrayal itself, in the abstract, isn’t enough to exclude her. Then why not your sister and her new lover? The best answer, I think, is that with adulterous or homoerotic relationships the relationship itself is sinful, so by hosting the relationship in your home–the home being in some ways an extension of yourself–you’re showing friendship and welcome to sin.

  150. Well Adam, then I suggest you take them out to a really good restaurant. That way you can be friendly and still protect the sanctity of your home.

  151. I still don’t see that it’s any different, Danithew.

    And we could meet in a restaurant, but I certainly wouldn’t be taking them out to it.

  152. To answer your question, I’d still communicate with a sibling that committed adultery. I’d be angry and disgusted but I wouldn’t entirely disown them.

    Part of my reasoning is based on an experience I had. Years ago I went to visit a girlfriend (who was about to go serve a mission) in California. While I was there one of her dearest high school friends showed up and wanted to go out for the evening with us. He was gay and he brought along his boyfriend. At the time it occurred to me that a) I could refuse to go on principle or b) I could reciprocate an offer of friendship that was being extended. I went with option B. The gay friend drove the car we went in and on the way back the gay couple was holding hands in the front of the car.

    I admit that I felt really strange and at least slightly repulsed by this minor display of gay affection. I was a very Republican conservative Mormon guy and it felt really weird to be going on a double-date with a gay couple. I hadn’t planned it but I went along with it. These were two friendly nice people and I didn’t feel strongly enough about moral principle to completely rebuke them and reject them on the spot.

    I don’t actively seek out friendship with homosexuals. I don’t hang out in gay bars (or any bars, for that matter) or other places where gays congregate. But if a loved one or someone I cared about brought a gay friend into my presence, I’d be friendly to them. And maybe I’d even make dinner or pay for dinner.

  153. My late uncle, a return missionary, lived for many years in a committed relationship with his partner. 10 years ago, my aging aunts and uncles, who are to the right politically and “iron-rodders” religiously, made it a point to invite both him and his partner to family celebrations, including one that was a sort of family testimony meeting. I confess I was uncomfortable at the time (this was, after all, 10 years ago). But in retrospect, I was glad they had the kind of love that encompassed my uncle, warts and all, and his partner, including a relationship that was not in keeping with the standards of the Church.

    When my wife’s grandmother died, her family, which is conservative politically and “iron-rodder” religiously, made it a point to invite my wife’s cousin, also a return missionary, and welcomed his partner, to all of the proceedings.

    The families have been kind to the partners. The same is true with respect to those (and my extended family is large enough that there are some) who have been in heterosexual unwed relationships. I return to my earlier point; how much does the Church’s institutional position affect our personal treatment of those who are not in conformance with its teachings on sexuality? While, for many of us, our attitudes with respect to those who veer far from the path may be harsh in the general sense, in many (but not all) cases, when the rubber hits the road, and we are personally dealing with friends or relatives or others we care about, our attitudes and practices may be less harsh.

  154. So Adam, what sins gets a person on the “No soup for you!” list? Only those involving relationships?

  155. I have work to do so I’ll be laying off this conversation for a while. I’ll just have to ask you to imagine that I’m still here, still participating. Just ask yourself, what brilliant and unique and wordy insights would Adam Greenwood have brought to the table? Once you’ve imagined it, then go ahead and respond. If, after a few exchanges, you don’t imagine yourself acceding to the truth of my argument, imagine me losing my Olympian calm. Lard my imagined comments with a little *en ira veritas*: “I’ll not sit down to a sodomitical soiree,’ you could have me say, or “I’d rather hoist than host a homewrecker.” Be creative. Than respond with all deliberate dudgeon. Pile on. After a while have Nate O. defend me on some weird ground that, while insightful, would have the effect of shifting the debate to less juicy topics. Have me ignore him, and you ignore him too. Proceed. Then log off so you can simmer down in time for dinner with your loved ones and their . . . friends. :)

  156. Adam, that was quite a paragraph. I thought I was reading Kingsley there or something. How do you guys do it? I must have not taken the right class(es) at BYU. Sheesh. Nice job. :)

  157. Climbing the charts this week all the way to number three in just over four hours, here’s Sunstone Boilerplate by Nate and the Twits (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

    On a more serious note, Dan and Adam seem to have taken my hypothetical and run with it. Actually, my hypothetical isn’t a hypothetical. The question is not would I invite my brother’s gay partner into my home for dinner (for the record, I would), it is what do you say to a friend who is facing (or has already faced) such a situation who disagrees with you? My friend hasn’t asked my advice, is (or was) reluctant to host the gayfriend (as we seem to be calling him), and for all I know doesn’t even know I am aware of the situation, which I heard about through a third party. Should I say anything at all?

  158. Darn, WordPress silently discarded my clever “KaseyKasemVoice” “/KaseyKasemVoice” tags I had wrapped around my first sentence.

  159. Work schmerk. Likely excuse, Adam. I bet your actually having dinner with Kingsley and his untied hand at this very moment. The hypocrisy of it all! ;-)

  160. Ouch. I was just revisiting this thread tonight and read Ethesis’s comment about not wanting his poetry mixed up with monkey feces. For some reason as I was sipping my crystal light that comment came back into my head and it suddenly struck me as very funny and the C-lite friggin’ came out through my nose! I’m laughing but now I’m in some pain here too. Crystal Light is just deadly in the nasal passages and I don’t know why.

  161. I think I would only be hesitant to host a friend or sibling and his/her partner in my home because of the outdated stereotype I have built up in my mind about gay men. In my experience, many gay men are both *overtly* gay (perhaps because of over-compensation to a hostile society) and assertive about their political agenda. By overtly gay, I do not necessarily even mean flamboyant, cross-dressing, or pretentiously feminine. It is not my hypothetical guest’s SSA that would offend me, nor is it even their choice of lifestyle – it is the behavior that I would be afraid would be displayed in my home, perhaps in front of my children.

    A good analogy might be hosting someone who I knew cursed a lot. I would want to trust that this person would have the tact to watch his/her language in my home, but an occasional four-letter word or colorful image might be too much to tolerate. I have worked with some people with foul mouths, considered them friends in the workplace, and was happy to have lunch with them when circumstances permited. But, that doesn’t mean I would invite them to my home for a family dinner.

    The presence or absence of my children, in both cases, would make a huge difference.

    I don’t think this makes me homophobic (if maybe sheltered for having to rely upon a stereotype to make my decision). I have also known gay men and women who do not fit my stereotype. In the past, I have been happy to have lunch or “hang out” with people regardless of their sexual preference. There have been a couple of former co-workers who I held in very high regard who were gay, though you would never know it by interacting with them. I would have no reservation about hosting either of them (one is a man, the other a woman) in my home. Contrary to the bulk of my experience, they did not openly display their sexual preferences, just like my heterosexual friends do not generally display their sexuality.

    However, if I did have a heterosexual friend who was overtly sexual, I would be hesitant to invite him/her into my home as well. So, I think I can confidently claim that my aversion has little to do with the specifics of a person’s sexual choices, and more to do with a person’s demonstrated behavior.

    Furthermore, I do not think it is reasonable to expect an added layer of tolerance for a person whose behavior is offensive, just because that person is gay. As I have stated, I would exclude a person from my home (including a sibling or other family member) for demonstrating any kind of behavior that is contrary to my family’s standards. That is not to say that I expect every visitor in my home to act as if they were in the Temple, or even in the Chapel. Based on what we tolerate on TV, I expect the standards of behavior would be generally quite liberal. Nevertheless, I reserve the right to exclude anyone on the grounds of inappropriate behavior.

  162. Stephen —

    I read your poems and liked them a lot. I don’t even know you, but I feel like I understand where you’re coming from.

    Thank you for sharing them.

  163. A final point in my defense and then off to run-up AT&T’s legal bills:

    I would like to point out that my original post contained 1 snarky comment about a Sunstone article, 1 snarky comment about Deseret book (in which I accused it of the same sins that I accused Sunstone of), and 1 positive comment about a Sunstone article. Besides, I had already posted a long comment about what was obviously the most important article in the recent FARMS Review (although the topic fell still-born from the press). Hence, while John and Kristine are no doubt right that I unfairly pile on Sunstone from time to time, my initial comment while snarky was not as unbalanced as I think it has been portrayed.

    I am Nathan Oman and I approved this comment.

  164. Flip-flopper.


    I’m glad that you’re fair and balanced, Nate. Somebody has to be. But I do think that a little unbalanced criticism of Sunstone for unoriginality would not be unfair. Deseret Book unfortunately does not have the same pretensions to original thought that Sunstone does (though FARMS is a different question).

  165. Jim Richens, I ran rather quickly through what you wrote and all I have to say at this point is Amen. It seems to me that you wrote a pretty thorough and sound expansion of my glib little line “if they won’t scare the kids and pets, invite them over.” Perhaps that line would be amended to “if they won’t act inappropriately or unduly influence the kids and pets, invite them over.”

    Also, when I was saying that I would invite a gay sibling (again, I don’t have any) and a gayfriend over for dinner, I’m looking upon this as a sort of “family/friend exception.” Embracing a gay sibling or friend or inviting that person into my home is not equivalent to embracing the entire gay community and everything that the gay community stands for. The motive is to be kind to an individual or a couple of individuals. Under this family/friend exception approach I could conceivably have a gay couple over for dinner at my house and the next day cast a vote against the legalization of gay marriage.

    It’s kind of odd for me to be writing all this because in my life I’ve had very little contact with gay people. However, what contacts I’ve had though have almost always reinforced the idea in my mind that gays are children of God just like everyone else. The first priesthood blessing I gave in my mission was to a gay man who was dying of AIDS. He had returned to Guatemala from the United States and was using the limited time he had left to put his life in as much order as possible. He showed up at a Church conference and sought out the elders for that blessing. He was clearly wasting away and his face was almost skeletal. It was simply impossible for me to feel anything but sympathy and caring for that man and an appreciation that he would ask me to give him a blessing.

  166. Jim Richins’ comment is right on. I think we should be morally/spiritually/ethically self-reliant enough to rely on our own judgement in these situations.

    I was invited by a friend to meet a colaborator of his in the arts. The three of us had dinner at a restaurant. The colaborator was a professor of music at San Francisco State (I believe, if not there then another well known university in that area. I can’t remember) and IMO one of the top composers in the country. He was familiar with some of my music and I with his. We had an invigorating discussion about the arts and both praised each other’s music. I felt it a great honor to receive such complements from one so distinguished in the arts (IMO). The fact that he was gay was entirely beside the point. He was a perfect gentleman.

    I can imagine D. being much the same way – and more so as he has sought to live the gospel at great personal sacrifice – and have the fullest confidence that he would exercise prudence in these matters if he found himself sitting at my table with my family. (which prudence I would expect from anyone visiting my home regarless of sexual orientation)

    That being said, I do have some feeling for Adam’s position as well. I have a loved one, who made some disruptive choices in his life. A family was broken and for a season relations were awkward and strained to the point that it would have been too uncomfortable for my children to encounter. Thankfully that season is past (though there is still some awkwardness). However, even when things were at their worst I let him know that my door was always open to him. After all was said and done, he made his own decision to distance himself for a time.

  167. Stephen –

    I read your poems and liked them a lot. I don’t even know you, but I feel like I understand where you’re coming from.

    Thank you for sharing them.

    Comment by Bryce I — 9/29/2004 : 1:04 am

    Thanks, that is a lot better than being lumped in with feces throwing monkeys ….

    Or told that I’m beating up on 96 year old grandmothers.

  168. Hey Ethesis, I had a little trouble rediscovering the links you provided for those poems but yes they are very meaningful and profound. I can only begin to imagine the feelings and experiences that lie behind them.

    BTW folks, I think the links are somewhere around comment #78. Give those poems a shot. I’ll probably need to re-read them to get even more out of them. Thanks again Ethesis.


    I thought I’d share that given the number of times Ad Hominem is discussed here.

    For some poetry I’ve written, is a link to a collection.

    Organized (by Win Marsh) was written by my wife.

    I used to write a lot more poetery before I was married, now I often live it. It is almost impossible to describe just how wonderful a good woman is. I actually had an editorial published about mine ( ) in response to a guy writing about how he couldn’t explain to his wife why and how he said “good morning beautiful” when he saw her in the mornings.

  170. Sorry to digress to the gay friends/family over for dinner topic, but some of the comments made above are still on my mind.

    My husband and I have had numerous opportunties over the past years to host dinner parties and other events (ranging from just the two of us and one other couple to large Christmas parties, etc.)that we have invited my various gay co-workers/classmates and their partners to attend. Rest assured, these situations turned out swimmingly well and we were all blessed for the diversity of thought and experience that each guest provided. I just think that so much can be gained when people who are (very) different from one another sit down and talk about what is important to them in their lives. I don’t think I could ever hate/fear someone that I had spent an hour or two talking to over a nice home-cooked meal. I feel very sad for anyone who is afraid, unwilling, or unable to have such experiences.

    As several of these individuals have become my close friends, I know that someday when we have children that we will continue to invite them over. And not just invite them over. I’d even say that I want them to be an important part of our lives. In my opinion, the benefits of such rich friendships far outweigh any negatives. Furthermore, isn’t it preferable to have children learn through observation of their parents’ behavior the appropriate way to interact with individuals of different lifestyles and belief systems? I’d much rather have my kids learn from me than at school, on the playground, or at church (gasp!) about the way that they should treat gay people. Then, when the difficult questions arise (as they inevitably will), my husband and I will have already established a foundation of love, tolerance, and respect.

    I would no more bar gay people from having dinner at my home than I would bar people of other races, religions, or political parties. Is there a single better place to teach “love thy neighbor as thyself” than in one’s own home?

    And p.s. after one particularly enlightening evening of diverse conversation, almost the entire dinner party (all were not members of our faith) showed up to church the next morning to see my husband sustained in his newest calling (we let the cat out of the bag–but it doesn’t count if they’re not members, right?). Several even stayed to witness the ordination. (I’m bracing myself as to what some of you might say to that). But I just love the idea of all my gay friends coming out to church to support my husband in his calling. How neat is that?

  171. It’s so hard to dispel the miasma of assumptions. I guess we just absorb ‘anti-homophobia’ with the air.

    So, though I thought I was already clear, let me counter some of the recurring inaccurate restatements of my ‘gayfriend’ position.

    Myth #1: Mr. Greenwood and people of his sort would not have people who were gay in their home.
    Not at all. I would not want a gay *couple* in my home. The ties they’re forming are illicit and self-limiting. I would not want to play host to that tie. But while a relationship can be born of sin, a person isn’t. I reiterate the illustration I’ve already used. I would be willing to have a friend over who is involved in an adulterous relationship. I would not, however, wish to invite both the friend and the friend’s partner over, no matter how diverse or enlightening I imagined the conversation would be.

    Myth #2: Mr. Greenwood and people of his sort don’t want gay couples in their home because they hate/fear gays.
    Wrong again. See #2.

  172. Two more references for logical fallacies and argumentation

    I think I was the first in this thread to refer to this particular logical fallacy, and several subsequent (humorous) postings were spurred in part by the spelling I used – “ad hominid” – which I admit, does not appear to be valid.

    Long ago I learned (evidentally incorrectly) that the adjectival form of “Ad Hominem” was spelled “Ad Hominid”. I suppose my debate teacher didn’t really know Latin. Maybe someone who reads this maybe DOES know Latin fairly well, and can provide us with a definitive answer.

    On Maria’s post:

    I agree with all the points she makes, including that it is important for us to seek diversity and that as parents we should model good behavior. I assume that the intent behind Maria’s post was partly to offer a constrasting perspective (perhaps not necessarily diametrically opposed) to earlier posts – mine included. If one of the posts that remained in Maria’s mind was indeed mine, then unfortunately I don’t think I may not have expressed myself very well.

    So, to clarify, I have former co-workers/friends who are gay, they were people I grew to know fairly well and respected, and would have no problem inviting either of them into my home. I also had earlier occasion to work with a larger group of men and women who were gay, who frequently displayed unseemly behavior and language, and although I was on friendly terms with each of them at work, I was nonetheless embarrassed at times to be in the same room with them.

    Thus, there are two “good” gay friends in my experience, and eleven others who were “bad” examples and were sometimes uncomfortable to be around. In addition, there are the scores of anonymous contacts with gay people in public or in the media. 99% of the time, these examples are the extreme types who enjoy standing out in a crowd, but who may actually come from a minority within the gay community. This adds up to an unfavorable (and unbalanced) stereotype of homosexuals in my mind. Since I (and most of us, I think) was thinking of a hypothetical example (not having any specific instance of gays-at-dinner in my personal experience) my stereotype understandably came into play.

    To reiterate the point from my earlier post – my decision to invite or not an individual and his/her partner would have nothing to do with their lifestyle choices and everything to do with their demonstrated behavior. I would exclude a college-educated, white-collar professional, heterosexual, WASP-type person in a heartbeat if I had any reason to believe that his/her appearance, behavior, or language would be antithetical to the values I wish to instill in my home.

    If I still had a working relationship with either John or Jane (names have been changed, but rest assured, they represent two real individuals), I would have no problem inviting them to my home and interacting with my children. This is because I came to know them and had a very good idea of what to expect of them as guests. They each also knew me, and knew what kinds of standards to expect in my home. I am certain that Maria’s friends were also well known to her before their invitations were extended.

    Good parents *choose* the influences that bear on their children. They also *teach* correct principles upon which to evaluate external influences, and *model* appropriate responses. Good parents are aware of the maturity, intelligence, and ability of each individual child, and can allow an ever widening range of influences to expose their child to. Seeking Diversity does not mean allowing any random influence to affect a child, hoping that a 2, 4, 8, or even 16 year-old would have the experience to effectively process that influence within the appropriate context.

    Hopefully, parents are able to adequately prepare children in the home before they encounter random influences in the world. There are still plenty of influences in the world that I myself am not adequately prepared to handle. Unfortunately, children are exposed to a wide range of adult influences at earlier and earlier ages, thus almost making it into a “race” for parents to prepare children in time. In some situations, a child is exposed to an influence (hypothetically speaking, a flamboyantly, cross-dressing gay man) before being prepared. Being unprepared, the child is likely to feel confused emotionally and disturbed intellectually. In this case, the best a parent can do is damage-control, but this is less-effective and can be further complicated by the child’s embarrassment or confusion.

    Like Maria, one of my goals in seeking Diversity is to make choices regarding which influences to allow into my home that are not based on irrational or closed-minded biases. I do reserve the right to censor (and I use that work purposefully) what influences come into my home. This is the rationale behind choosing good movies, books, games, and TV, and it applies to homosexual dinner guests as well.

  173. It’s so hard to dispel the miasma of assumptions. I guess we just absorb ‘anti-homophobia’ with the air.

    Adam, I hope I’m not one of those you’re talking about with the assumptions line. I don’t like the words “homophobe” or “homophobia” and wouldn’t use them to label anyone — unless there’s someone out there who is as afraid of homosexuals as my wife is of spiders. Getting up on a chair and screaming “eek” fear or suddenly bolting from the room kind of fear is what I’m talking about here … not anything political or intellectual mind you.

    Labelers are the worst kind of people, you know.

  174. Adam tells us he won’t invite a gay couple or an adulterous couple into his home because the relationships express an amount of sin intolerable to his family.

    How would he treat the following people, and if he allowed them into his home or at his dinner table, what is the difference between those to whom he would provide a meal and those to whom he would not?

    Would he invite a couple of non-married heterosexual people into his home if he knew they were intimate?

    Would he invite a couple of heterosexual people into his home if he knew they were roommates but not intimate?

    Would he invite a couple of heterosexual people into his home if he knew they were “just friends”?

    Would he invite a couple of gay people into his home if he knew they were roommates but not intimate?

    Would he invite a couple of gay people into his home if he knew they were “just friends”?

  175. Adam, the way these comments are going, you’re going to have to start scheduling recommend interviews before you have anyone over for dinner.

    But Laura missed a question. What are you going to do with those slimy bastards who sneak candy into movie theaters?

  176. Okay, since you won’t answer yourself, maybe you will say how wrong these assumed answers are:

    Would you keep all the sinners out? – yes, if they come as couples. We love the sin but hate the sinner, so we can’t approve of letting the sinners build their relationships in our presence. If they are not building their relationships in our presence, we would let them in one at a time, no matter their sexual preference.

    Would you let all the non-sinners in? – yes, of course. Dumb question.

    Would you let the ones who appeared to be sinning in? – no, because they probably are sinning and we don’t want to tolerate the least appearance of sin.

    Would you let the ones who appeared to be sin-free in? – yes, because they probably are innocent and we want them to think we love and accept them.

    How can you tell which ones are sin-free, then? – the ones who appear most like Adam and testify they are “just friends” and sin-free, unless they appear to be lying.

  177. But do you want a real answer?

    I am happy and willing to have anyone over to my home who is willing to respect the rules of my home and behave politely and not throw monkey poo all over the dining room while they are there.

    When smokers visit my home, they know not to smoke. When drinkers visit my home, they know not to bring wine for dinner. When lovers visit my home, they know that my parties are not the place for intimate liasions or make-out sessions (thus I’ve never actually had to deal with the sex-on-the-living-room-floor question). I generally avoid inviting ex-spouses or ex-lovers to the same party in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort on anyone’s part.

    If my guests act inappropriately, I politely inform them that their behavior is inappropriate and that they are welcome to excuse themselves in order to continue the behavior elsewhere or to cease the behavior and remain in the house.

  178. Lol at comment no. 202.

    As for comment 203 – over all I agree with it. The harshness in my comment (201) was a response to your rather harsh treatment of Adam’s position – which I’ll let him defend in his own way.

  179. The problem I see here is that Adam has a certain level of sin he is willing to tolerate in his guests, and that he sees active homosexuality as one of the BIG sins, as opposed to just one of the many sins we all are subject to.

    One person I find interesting, re: this discussion is Orson Scott Card. In his fiction, he has many sympathetic gay characters. In fact, for his fiction, he has many gay fans because of this.

    He is also great friends with Janis Ian, a 60s folk icon who is also a lesbian (she gave a concert and a workshop at his Endercon celebration at UVSC in 2002). Orson Scott Card praised her as a singer, and even has a short story in an anthology of stories based on her songs.

    However, he also wrote the often reviled (in liberal circles) “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality.”

    More telling, a few years ago, he was interviewed ( )by lesbian reporter Donna Minkowitz (she called the interview “My favorite author, my worst interview “) which he reportedly said:

    I” find the comparison between civil rights based on race and supposed new rights being granted for what amounts to deviant behavior to be really kind of ridiculous. There is no comparison. A black as a person does not by being black harm anyone. Gay rights is a collective delusion that’s being attempted. And the idea of ‘gay marriage’ — it’s hard to find a ridiculous enough comparison.”

    Then, recently, on his own political website, the Ornery American, he writes a huge diatribe against the idea of gay marriage. He clearly does not believe homosexuality is okay, and insinuates its very existence threatens society.

    Yet he continues to defend his inclusion of sympathetic gay characters in his works. He says he reconciles this apparent contradiction by recognizing that he is sinner and that gay people are a mixture of good and evil just like he is.

    To me, sexual sins are at the top of the list, just below (though there is a significant gap) sins that involve killing people, and way above sins such as speeding, drinking coffee and tea, or cussing in public.

    But if I would invite them into my home? That’s something reserved for a case by case basis. Like Adam, I doubt I would invite a homosexual couple anymore than I would invite a married man/woman and his/her paramour. But that’s because I see sexual sins not as “just another sin” but something far worse that actually does (even if hidden) real damage to society and the fabric of the universe. (Go ahead and beat me up over that one. I will stick by it).

    Talking about bringing more righteousness to homosexual relationships sounds awfully like saying that adulterous couples should practice safe sex in order to be more virtuous. It ducks the entire issue – that the act itself is wrong.

    I tried avoiding posting on this subject, but I figured that I might as well get my views out in the open.

  180. Well, Adam did invite me to guess rather than answer the original questions for himself, so I say, be careful what you ask for.

    Of course, I could have answered with simple yes/no questions, but then we wouldn’t have had our happy little discussion, would we?

    I hope that if my guesses are wrong Adam will thoughtfully correct me, rather than write me off as a blithering idiot with no moral values to speak of, now that I’ve admitted to opening my home to so many kinds of people. I never serve brussels sprouts, though, so maybe Adam would be willing to join us some time. I’m sure we’d have an interesting conversation or two, so long as everyone stayed off the living room floor.

    In the mean time, I’ll be doing my patriotic duty and watching the professionals sling mud and other substances at each other, presidential style. TTFN.

  181. Gosh, Adam, I’m not assuming you’re evil. I’m just guessing how you would answer based on the little bits of information available on this thread.

    You said to give my best guesses, and you got them. Apparently I’m not a very good guesser (which probably explains why I never win The Big Prize).

    I’m sorry you’re not willing to answer the questions directly, because if you were, then nobody would have to assume anything, we would just know.

  182. I can’t say that I am really following this thread anymore, but since the conversation has turned to Orson Scott Card, and the thread was originally about Sunstone, I am wondering if anyone has the inside scoop on the falling out of Card and Sunstone…

  183. JOHN: “It is also often characterized by frustration and anger – EVEN bitterness.”

    John, you sound like Thomas F. Monson. Does that mean you got the BIG CALL??

  184. “I’m not assuming you’re evil”

    What, you already know?

    “I’m sorry you’re not willing to answer the questions directly, because if you were, then nobody would have to assume anything, we would just know.”

    I was going to accept this apology, but then I got to wondering if it was one.

  185. Adam, you’re being unfair. In comment 206, you tell Laura: “Sorry, Laura, try again. Assume I’m not evil and see if you get better results.” So she replies in 212 ““I’m not assuming you’re evil.â€? She’s replying directly to your (somewhat snide) remark.

  186. I don’t understand why Adam is comparing a homosexual couple to an alduterous couple. The correct analogy would seem to be an unmarried heterosexual couple.

  187. The ready answer, Bryce, is that I disbelieve comment 212. The evidence does not support it.

  188. Adam – I don’t assume you are evil, I don’t think you are evil, I don’t believe your are evil, I don’t know you are evil. All I know is that you are unwilling or unable to answer a few questions. All I believe is that you think I am lying to you [evidence being, “I disbelieve comment 212”]. For that I am truly sorry, because I was hoping your answers to my questions in comment 196 would clarify your point of view and help explain why you chose to draw the analogy you did. As for making character assumptions, though, why are you assuming I’m insincere – do you really want to ass-u-me so much?

    I’ve done as you’ve asked – I’ve made my best guesses, I told you I don’t think you are evil, I’ve even gone a step farther and told everyone where I stand and have invited you to my dinner table. I am knocking at your door – will you let me in?

    ed – I agree.

  189. Myself, I’d invite them over (heck, have invited some over) or to lunch like any other friends or co-workers.

    I’m missing the issue.

    Though I didn’t know Card and Sunstone had a falling out — I’m interested in details if anyone has more.

  190. “I didn’t know Card and Sunstone had a falling out – I’m interested in details if anyone has more.”

    This may be what has been referred to:

    “[Orson Scott Card] had published an essay in Sunstone in which he defended ‘the prophet’s sole authority to determine whether homosexuality is or is not a sin in the eyes of the Church. Signature [Book]’s reaction was to threaten to withdraw from distributing Sunstone unless they stopped publishing me.’ ‘Their agenda was clear. You can attack the church under Signature’s aegis, but heaven help you if you dare to defend the Church'” (FARMS Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 394 [with footnotes to a letter from Card to Louis Midgley dated 4/14/2004])

  191. I suppose the problem is that I believed you meant comment 200. I’ll be happy to disregard it if you wish.

    I’m just not seeing the point of your questions, Laura. What information will you get from my answers that isn’t already there in my explanation of why I would I invite a gay friend over but not a gay friend and his gayfriend?

  192. Thinking about it, I’d say that one distinction between a gay couple and an unmarried couple is that the unmarried couple have the possibility of righting their relationship without ending it. It’s not intrinsically sinful, so to speak.

  193. Wow, I had no idea that Signature Book was so proactively censorshipish. Guess Sunstone had little choice but to drop Card, kind of like they dropped everyone that would have kept them from still being distributed at Deseret Book.

    Signature [Book]’s reaction was to threaten to withdraw from distributing Sunstone unless they stopped publishing me.’ ‘Their agenda was clear. You can attack the church under Signature’s aegis, but heaven help you if you dare to defend the Church’�

    Does Signature engage in much censorship and on what issues does Sunstone self-censor itself at Signature’s behest?

    I’m really curious.

  194. Adam brings up an interesting issue when he suggests that a immoral (an immoral? — why am I stumbling on grammar questions lately?) heterosexual relationship has some kind of intrinsic value and could be righted if the couple would just get married (I’m assuming Adam is talking about marriage).

    It did occur to me that a gay couple could make their immoral relationship right by just becoming friends. “I just want to be friends” he could say to his gayfriend. “That’s such a cliche” says the other. :)

    I’m being a bit silly about it but I’m kind of considering the question Adam sort of raises here … how would a gay couple make things right?

  195. Behind my whole thinking here, Danithew, is the idea that if the gay couple made things right they would cease to be a couple. Once they made things right (and power to them, especially if they were able to stay friends without causing themselves too much temptation), you’d no longer invite the two of them over as a social unit. So I object to treating it as a valid social unit in the first place.

  196. Several days ago, Associate Professor David Hailey of Utah State University jumped into things with an interesting academic claim that has since had some interesting changes. SSM arguments often seem to be as deeply flawed (on both sides).

    Yep, one more thread that has turned into a SSM thread.

    But it took a long time before that part of it took over.

  197. Halley claimed that he had a typewriter that could produce the Rathergate memos. Turned out he had a computer typeface, that when combined with other computer typefaces, could produce the Rathergate memos.

    It just made a nice illustration of flawed research and result driven work that I thought made a nice contrast with SSM research, so much of which starts with a conclusion and works to the result without regards to whatever is actually being stated.

    For those who missed it, here is a quick summary from (more on the site):

    The New Report Supporting the Bush Guard Memos Falls Apart.–
    I have waited to post on this until things are mostly sorted out, but I expect much more to come out today, when Wizbang (who broke this story) provides significant updates.

    Several days ago, Associate Professor David Hailey of Utah State University posted a report on the internet that purported to provide evidence for his opinion that the Bush Guard memos were typed. As you know, virtually every competent expert who had come forth concluded that the memos were almost certainly produced on a computer, probably using Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word.

    CBS producer Mary Mapes was so impressed by Hailey’s report that she sent it out to support the story.

    People were amazed that Hailey had come up with a typewriter that could come fairly close to producing text from the memos (but not as close in my opinion as Microsoft Word). Naturally, people were curious what sort of previously unknown typewriter it was that could produce a font that looked like computer output. Strangely, Hailey didn’t say in his report.

    But as Paul and Kevin at Wizbang (and later other bloggers) began to look at the report, it began to collapse. Wizbang disclosed that the superscript “th” looked very different from the rest of the type. Indeed, it appeared as if it had been floated into place using a program such as PhotoShop.

    Then Wizbang discovered what might be the smoking gun: on Hailey’s own website, they discovered what appears to be an earlier draft version of the same document that had most of the text that Hailey had produced using the font “Typewriter.” But where the superscript was supposed to be, there was only a blank, as if he had not yet floated in the superscript from another font. There were also some numbers missing from the draft document in places where numbers from another font was later floated in.

    Once caught, Hailey changed his report online, without indicating that he had changed it. In the new version of the report, he disclosed that he had created his document, not on a typewriter as everyone had supposed, but instead using a computer font. He added this language, confessing for the first time that he had not typed the text supposedly matching the Killian memos:

    Conference … a message about the two vacancies ….

    Elder hmm, can’t spell their names.

  198. John H, claiming to speak for Sunstone over at BCC corrects me on the Orson Scott Card story, and I’ve followed up with the Janitor over at on the story was well.

    This is what I got from the BCC voice of Sunstone ….

    Orson Scott Card’s been banned from Sunstone? Gee, that’s news to me (you know, the guy that actually works for Sunstone).

    People will believe the stupidest things to feel good about themselves, won’t they?
    John H | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 1:23 pm | #


  199. It was pointed out to me that I needed to apply a higher standard of sourcing and criticism in blog comments about Sunstone, at least in regards to Card talking to Lou Midgley, than Sunstone often applies to criticisms of the Church.

    In many ways that is actually appropriate. People are critical of Sunstone because of the standards of sourcing and criticism it uses. That should be a warning not to fall into those same standards and practices ourselves and I should have not assumed the truth of the statements or the accuracy of the quotes or references.

    That was a mistake.

  200. Follow-up.

    I wrote the Nauvoo Janitor and instead of hearing back from her, I heard back from Card. The Lou Midgley summarization suffers from some problems, though it is correct as to threats, it is not correct as to Sunstone giving into them.

    Not that Card has the same fondness for Sunstone that he had before. But that is his story to tell.

    BTW, great tag line …

    Orson Scott Card
    For Your Amusement Only
    Do Not Try This At Home



  201. And, with my final effort in trying to return this thread to its topic (and away from SSM, etc.), ” an honor bestowed on those who have paid their dues ” strikes me as the core of much of the counter-culture in the Salt Lake liberal area (what you would refer to as “coffee shop culture” in other parts of the world — not a slam, as coffee is usually seen as ok by college profs and their graduate students meeting to talk and think in an informal setting — but a descriptive. A Starbucks isn’t a place where people are going to sit and talk for hours [at least the ones I’ve seen in this area] and when I was at BYU I didn’t see much in the way of European style coffee shops, so the phrase may miss something and the beer drinking equivilent from law school loses something of the mid-afternoon under the trees on the patio charm).

    I stil remember being quite struck, twenty years ago or so, by someone who angrily attacked John Welch as someone who had not paid his dues and so was not entitled to be heard. Come again?

    But it is an interesting concept. Kind of like some social circles in Salt Lake where it is assumed that family connections are the primary measure of “the right stuff” when it comes to participating in Church related programs or activities. (Note I said “some” not “all” or “most” and had it brought to my notice by a McKay who was charming, unpretentious and genuinely a good and decent person. So there).

  202. At the end of “A Storyteller in Zion” Card seems to indicate he has only fond feelings for the editors at Sunstone, and that his decision to not publish there anymore had to do more with audience reaction to his stance on homosexuality than on any editorial pressure.

    On Scott Kenney an editor at Sunstone and Signature: “Even though there were many matters on which we did no see eye to eye, we were able to work well together because of out mutual respect . . . He is still a dear and honored friend.”

    On Elbert Peck, another Sunstone editor: “Elbert never flinched from publishing what I wrote, even when he took enormous amounts of flack from the Sunstone audience for having done so . . . I remain of the opinion Elbert Peck is a genuinely fair-minded editor who truly cares about the Mormon community . . . May his tribe increase.”

    On Sunstone: “Sunstone is not today the magazine I hoped it would become when I worked on it in its early days and when I contributed to it more recently.”

    Of course, this was all written in 1993. I don’t know if OSC’s opinions have changed on this issue in the last 11 years, but he let it be reprinted in 2000 with no alterations.

  203. Well, obviously there are a lot of players over time. Sunstone is not Readers Digest or The Ensign and Signature is even less consistent than Deseret Books in terms of editorial voice and direction.

    I’ll leave it at that. I suspect that Card is not fond of whoever it was who threatened him.

  204. Hmm,

    this led me to some great Lou Midgley quotes, google is a wonderful thing.

    Now Sandra thought that what she had told me answered Foster’s essay. I told her that it did not address the central issue raised by Foster. She had no idea what that might be. I explained to Sandra that Foster had correctly argued that the Tanners are entirely unwilling to subject their own faith and its foundations to the kinds of demands that they make of Latter-day Saints. To this Sandra replied that Foster was right. I tried to explain that there is something wrong with insisting that we satisfy her demands for what she calls proof and for consistency, when she does not require that Evangelicals satisfy those same standards. Her reply was that her evangelical faith was true and hence did not need to satisfy any standards of proof. — a group I’ve run into in the far past. Then they were accurate and precise, with good natures. I particularly feel fond towards Tom Hickey, though I understand his health has been worsening.

    Persons responsible for this web site:
    Stanley D. Barker (e-mail: click here)
    Eugene I. Humbert (e-mail: click here)
    Malin L. Jacobs (e-mail: click here)
    Associates: (Guidelines forthcoming)
    Tom Hickey (e-mail: click here)
    Charles J. “Chuck” Peterson (e-mail: click here)
    Wayne D. Arnett (e-mail: click here) a great link for those inclined to be thoughtful about conflict.


    for those wondering where Kerry went.

    Now, all I need to do is find Pistas3’s latest essays.

  205. I just got permission from Card to share this:

    Back at the beginning of Sunstone, when I was an editor at BYU Press, I got involved with Sunstone, writing some pieces for their second issue under a pseudonym. Scott Kenney was the editor then, and he remains a friend. When it was taking too much of his time, I edited an issue – I was the one who took it from journal size to 8.5×11, to give it a more informal, conversational feel. I was proud of my work witht the journal.

    then it got different editorship, and went in an unfortunate direction. Finally, at one outrageous moment, I went to Elbert Peck (the editor) and called him on the outrageously outside-the-church, politically-correct, new-age stance. He said, “We’d publish more orthodox things if we got them. Why don’t you do a column from your point of view?”

    So I did. It lasted a few issues until I wrote my essay “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality” in which, contrary to rumor, I did not attack gays, I attacked hypocrites who claimed to be Mormon but denied the fundamental premise of the whole religion: The prophets get revelation for the whole church and therefore are the ones to tell us what is and is not a sin. However, the hate mail I got was astonishing.

    Including Signature threatening to withdraw from handling Sunstone’s circulation if they continued running my column. The reaction from Sunstone was so pusillanimous, and the conversation with Gary Bergera of Signature was so smarmy and hypocritical, that I realized: They weren’t running my column to be balanced, nor were any of them interested in balance. I was there as window dressing, the way Playboy ran respectable essays and fiction in order to mask what they really were.

    The true character of Sunstone had also been shown to me when I attended and took part in a sunstone symposium in Salt Lake. I was actually booed by the audience for defending an apostle’s conciliatory remarks against truly offensive and dishonest attacks by Lavina Fielding Anderson (later excommunicated for precisely that kind of thing). I realized that by writing for Sunstone, I was not writing to Mormons, but to anti-Mormons. It was wasted effort.

    So I decided to stop playing. For all those years, my name had continued on the masthead as part of the editorial board or advisory board or whatever. After a decent while, I asked for my name to be removed. Then they started reprinting earlier pieces I’d ran, without permission and changing pseudonymous work into attributed, which is ethically way over the line. At that point Sunstone became a dead letter for me.

    But I’m proud of the work I did for them in the early days of the journal, when it was still a Mormon publication. For that matter, I also worked with Signature at THEIR beginning, before George Smith’s anti-Mormon agenda became clear. I published Saintspeak with them, as also my sports bio Ainge. I learned in the process that not only were they incompetent, they were also smarmy in their business practices. Ugly stuff.

    So … everything you heard was and is true [grin]

    Anyway, that is what Card had to say when I asked him about the censorship issue.

  206. If what OSC said about Signature and Sunstone is true, then they ought to be ridiculed and held in contempt. Their agenda is worse than hypocritical — it is deviously Satanic — and must be exposed to the light of day. I trust that the new Sunstone editor, Dan Wotherspoon, has the backbone to stand up to this non-sense and to openly confess Sunstone’s sins, ask for forgivness and change the ways of this contemptible conduct — including disavowing the tie-in with Signature even though George Smith is its primary financial contributor to both Sunstone and signature and therefore the de facto editor of them both. It will take courage on Dan’s part and may spell the demise of Sunstone — but so be it. If Gary Bergera or Ron Priddis of Signature are lurking, let them account for their conduct. I call on them here and now to have the moral backbone to put a stop to to the kind of conduct that censors whatever doesn’t promote their agenda — i.e., their refusal to publish Card’s work because it expresses a view different than theirs on homosexuality.

    Perhaps it is foolish of me to trust that minions of darkness will seek the light.

  207. I don’t think of them as minions of darkness, so perhaps my perspective is different than yours.

    I think a lot of people feel that God just hasn’t got His act together, and if He only did, He would follow the course they have outlined in their hearts.

    Since God hasn’t pushed the prophet the right way, then people feel it important to help, by whatever means that they have. After all, in Israel when Samuel’s sons lined up prostitutes by troops at the Temple and took bribes, wasn’t that a sign that well meaning men needed to switch the land of Israel to kings and away from the scattered and disorganized and disfunctional rule of judges?

    The entire point of [quote]essay “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality� in which, contrary to rumor, I did not attack gays, I attacked hypocrites who claimed to be Mormon but denied the fundamental premise of the whole religion: The prophets get revelation for the whole church and therefore are the ones to tell us what is and is not a sin.[/quote] is exactly that: prophets get revelation.

    Not that the rest of us don’t, but …

    That said, I think it is important to realize that many people we would see as walking in darkness by their own light are people to whom conciliatory remarks are properly addressed.

    My confused and jumbled thoughts, though you may be right too.

  208. Wow, talk about your personal venom. I guess what Mohammad Atta . . . er, sorry, Blake Ostler, is trying to say is that he ought to be showing us the light, since I’m just a minion of darkness.

    Hey, at least if someone flies a plane into Sunstone or Signature next week, we’ll all know who did it.

    While Blake’s calling us to repentance, I hope he’ll keep that whole beam in the eye thing in mind. But hey, who needs to look inward when they’re busy pointing out the faults of everyone else.

  209. Wow Johh, I guess that since everyone has a beam in their eye we can avoid the entire discussion. As for your personal brand of name calling — no thanks, such things as sticks and stones and all of that. I also suppose that just calling others names lets us all off of the hook. So hand OSC his walking papers, I’m sure he’s just vituperating abolut nothing of real concern. Are you suggesting that it’s OK to refuse to deal with OSC because he has a view you don’t like?

  210. “who needs to look inward when they’re busy pointing out the faults of everyone else.”

    John, without wanting to get personal (because I think most, including myself, like having you around here), there are many who feel that the above quote could pass for Sunstone’s motto.

  211. Boys, play nice!

    We don’t know enough about OSCs interactions with Sunstone to be drawing conclusions about who is or isn’t a minion of darkness or what Sunstone’s editor should be doing. The incidents under discussion happened several years ago, and we have one very brief and biased personal account.

    What we do know is that Times and Seasons’ comments policy clearly prohibits the kind of ad homines bickering and slander of third parties that several of you are engaged in. Cut it out.

  212. Sorry Kris (and anyone else I offended). But although I should hardly give a rats behind what the likes of Blake Ostler thinks, it still pains me when people say what they do about Sunstone and my dear friends their and at Signature.

    Blake’s attitude is shocking and appalling. Since he thinks (note the word “thinks”) he has the truth, all Christian-like conduct towards Sunstone (and by extension, myself), George Smith, friends Ron and Gary, and anyone else goes out the window. Frankly, it’s a little creepy when someone sees themselves as Jesus tossing the money changers out of the temple (“I call on them here and now to have the moral backbone to put a stop to to the kind of conduct that censors whatever doesn’t promote their agenda” – this would be absolutely laughable if it wasn’t so thoughtlessly offensive).

    Blake, I know you’ve had your eye on the red seat in the conference center for a while now, but spare me your “calling” anyone to repentance – you’re not there yet.

  213. John, if I were you I would also seek to change the subject and the focus. I would raise holy heck trying to get people to forget what Sunstone and Signature did (according to OSC) and to distrust OSC’s account of his own experiences. I would change the focus and obfuscate all I could to get people to focus on the evil Ostler rather than the contemptible actions that have been clearly described by OSC. Good job — but let’s get back to the real problem here.

    Just so you know, I have no illusions about the great red seat in the conference center (I was put on the long list of undesirables when I wrote The Book of Mormon as an Expansion article long ago). As for your mind-reading ability about what I think — I see clearly that Sunstone and Signature tout themselves as the bastions of truth and open thought (that is how they alway pitch themselves to me when they seek to have me write for them) when the facts are clearly quite different.

    I was somewhat amused that you so quickly and easily identified yourself with the “minions of darkness,” a comment that was rather tonque in cheek. As for your rejecting a call to repentance — it seems to me that given your view any call to repentance is appropriate and a good thing. Moreover, note carefully that one does not have to be perfect before calling others to repentance — if that were so, we could rip out most of Isaiah and Jeremiah and get rid of John the Baptist too. Methinks that thou doest protest too much …. Calls to look inward go both ways. Or perhaps you missed that part. And so you know, they are also my friends at Sunstone and Signature — and that makes it all the more important for them to pay attention.

  214. JOhn –

    You should see Blake’s initial qualifier:

    “IF what OSC said about Signature and Sunstone is true”

    Logically, he’s just opened the door for someone to tell him that OSC is wrong/misinterpreting the facts/has a bad memory. If so, the rest of his initial post is moot. It all depends on the “If.” Sunstone is only one of the “minions” IF “what OSC said” is true.

    Why not argue that point, rather than assume Blake Ostler hates you and is jockeying for position in the church. I’ve met Blake (a couple years ago) and he is one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever known. There is no venom in him, as far as I could tell.

  215. Actually, looking at my post, logically Sunstone could still be one of the minions even if OSC was wrong (since it wasn’t an “if and only if” argument) but I still think that’s where the argument lies: is OSC right or not.

  216. John, I’m not offended. I’m pointing out that both you and Blake are violating T&S comment policies. If you need to have this argument, do it somewhere else.

  217. Ivan Wolfe:

    Blake’s qualifier reminds me of the bickering couple that goes to counseling. The husband says, “I know I’m not perfect but…” then launches into a 45 minute tirade about his wife. The qualifier didn’t fit the charge, not by a longshot.


    Typical apologist nonsense. You treat people like crap, then wonder why we react the way we do, insisting you’ve done nothing wrong and are only talking “about the issues.” No one wants to talk about the issues when you act that way. It’s a lesson FARMS should’ve learned long ago.

    If you want to have a conversation about mistakes Sunstone has made, I’m all for it. If we want to chat about OSC’s comments, let’s do it. If we want to talk about what Sunstone should change, then let’s have the conversation. But if you try leaving out the ludicrous calls to repentance, references to minions of darkness, and you might find I react a bit differently. In the meantime, we won’t be making me the bad guy. Your post was stupid, thoughtless, shockingly arrogant, and offensive a thousand times over. If you want to talk looking inwardly, try starting there. You can insist you’ve done nothing wrong, blame me for trying to change the subject. Or you can realize you didn’t just cross the line, but pole vaulted over it, apologize, and we can move on with our conversation. It’s your call.

  218. Ivan: Good point. The “if” in the offing is very important. I don’t know that his account is accurate. That is what I want to find out. If it is, then I have real problems with how things went down.

  219. John: So would you admit that if OSC’s account is accurate that it calls for a radical change?

  220. Just for the record — I don’t believe that Elbert Peck (the former editor of Sunstone and a good friend) was the problem and Dan Wotherspoon is a dear friend of mine whom I cannot see engaging in such conduct. I cannot see either of them engaging in such nonsense (and Card says as much — no the real problem seems to be at Signature and I’d like to hear their side of the story).

  221. John H,

    It would be helpful to have some of the people at Sunstone involved with Orson Card to share their side of the story. Can you ask those you know to reply to Card’s account of his experience with Sunstone? While I agree that Blake went over-the-line in his comment, I think he was trying to parody the calls, made frequently by contributors to Sunstone, for the to church to air its dirty laundry and publicly apologize for alleged grievances. He was asking the Sunstone request of Sunstone.

    The facts I would most like clarified:

    1 – Did Signature pressure Sunstone to stop publishing Card’s column?

    2 – Did the audience at a Sunstone conference boo Card for defending an apostle’s remarks?

  222. Don’t be naïve, John H. Blake’s attitude is neither shocking nor appalling, even if he has couched it in rather inflammatory terms. If Sunstone were just another journal or magazine, we could chalk its behavior up to petty politics and axes being ground. After all, editorial bias is ever present, and cheap politics in the academy are more common than most people realize. But we’re dealing with the prophet of God here, and that means that (if OSC is correct) the Sunstone guys are—at the very least—playing with fire.

    For my part, I used to like Sunstone (but I never thought that it approached the quality of Dialogue or BYU Studies, though the even the quality of these is intermittent at best). Any more, when I’ve read essays in Sunstone, I often found myself thinking, “It’s guys like this that killed Socrates.”

    John H. (on Blake Ostler): You treat people like crap, then wonder why we react the way we do, insisting you’ve done nothing wrong and are only talking “about the issues.” No one wants to talk about the issues when you act that way. It’s a lesson FARMS should’ve learned long ago.

    In fairness to John H., he does have a point here.

  223. Having absolutely no dog in this fight, I’d just like one thing cleared up: isn’t it the case that OSC’s and Signature’s mutual falling out took place over ten years ago, possibly fifteen? My memory is that Card’s last essays in Sunstone appeared around 1990 or 1991. Not to deny that old wounds can run deep, but is this blog really the appropriate place to either fire off calls for repentance or militantly defend the accused when the subject matter is something none of us have any first-hand knowledge of? Blogs, in my experience, really don’t lend themselves to the granting of either absolution or clarity regarding historical events.

    Also, please note Kristine’s warning above.

  224. Russell,

    You may be right that blogs produce more heat than light, but I don’t think the medium is the problem. Evidencing the current discussion about Signature, Sunstone and the Sunstone symposium, it’s clear that books, magazines and symposia frequently do the same thing. The main difference between traditional media and blogs, it seems to me, is that in the case of the former, the hate mail is usually read only by the author, whereas with blogs everyone witnesses the heat.

    In the current controversy, we appear to have better access to facts than historians generally do. Orson Card has written his recollection of the experience within the past few weeks, and one of our readers, John H., has direct access to many of the people involved, all of whom (I believe) are still living. It should be easier for us to get this history straight than almost any of the histories published by Sunstone or Signature or FARMS.

  225. I should know better than wading back in…

    Ok, in all seriousness, my apologies for my heated comments to all – including Blake. Not that it’s any excuse, but I’ve had a rough, rough day. Sorry again.

    Russell’s comments are extremely appropriate I think. This event took place long ago. I wasn’t around when it happened, and neither was Dan. Why it’s being dragged out again as the evidence of evil old Sunstone and Signature is beyond me. There are more current topics that could be discussed (did anyone read Duane Jeffery’s article on the Flood of Noah, for example?)

    I began composing a lengthy response, telling everyone what I know about the OSC fiasco, George Smith’s involvement in Sunstone, etc. But it’s not my place. I’ve already crossed the line with my earlier comments. I’m very passionate about Sunstone and my work there, and sometimes I let it get the best of me. Hopefully I’ll still have a job on Monday :)

    Could Sunstone have been on the wrong side of this issue with OSC? You bet. Could Signature? Of course. All organizations are guilty of hasty decisions and foolish mistakes. But when these mistakes are trotted out as evidence of the problems of these organizations, it doesn’t strike me as all that different when people do the same thing to the Church. It seems a little charity could be had from both sides.

    I sent Dan Wotherspoon an email after Blake’s first post. If he chooses to respond, that’s great. But it’s not my place to do so, so I leave this discussion offering more apologies and with a hope that people are judging Sunstone by what they read in it today, and not by a handful of shrill articles over a fifteen year period.

  226. With Russell, I find it interesting that this issue would flare-up so long after the fact. Who would have thought this controversy would still generate heat all these years later? I remember reading OSC’s complaints with Sunstone back in the day, and I spoke with him briefly about it after a Fireside in the late ’90s. He still seemed very peeved at Sunstone.

    With Matt (and Blake), I think it would be interesting to get Bergera and Priddis to tell their side of the story.

    Aaron B

  227. I can only speak for myself, but for me the controversy isn’t 15 years old; I’ve known about it for a couple of hours. In that sense it’s like any other historical controversy of a controversial institution; it’s interesting even though it happened some time ago. It’s also interesting because the issue doesn’t appear to have been resolved. In that sense it’s like the old Jefferson/Hemmings story, which was made fresh all over again as new evidence arose 200 years later. This controversy may not produce multiple books like that one did, but I think there’s enough here at least to justify 30 comments on an internet website.

  228. Matt,

    I have to disagree with you that this discourse is providing some sort of historical value. It looks to me like pure gossip. It’s not history, it’s not research, and it’s not really even sleuthing. It’s just gossip, plain and simple.

    Let’s see — incidents (if they occured) which are ten or fifteen or some other unspecified number of years old. A bunch of accounts, all of which are secondhand or thirdhand or more, all of which are by interested parties. A lot of fallbacks to character — “I know X and there’s no way that he would do such a thing” — which of course makes any argument to the contrary into a personal attack on X’s character. And of course, a current controversy of sorts to tie it in to, so it’s unlikely that anyone who actually cares about the issue isn’t coming to the table with an axe to grind already.

    I suspect that the issue is “unresolved” because it is unresolvable. People have memories which may or may not be correct; there are old friendships and hostilities involved; there is no unbiased, reliable source. (Not meaning that as an insult to anyone involved, but there appear to be no unbiased sources). Do you really think that a silver-bullet is going to show up at this point? It’s just not going to resolve easily, one way or the other.

    Further discussion is just gossip, and there’s no need to engage in it. Can I suggest that we (please) find something else to discuss?

    Also, I second Russell and I third Kristine.

  229. Though I’m not interested much myself, I don’t at all object to Matt Evans making his inquiries. Critical organizations must learn to bear criticism.

    I do object to the vituperation. This conversation will proceed in the spirit of dispassionate inquiry or not at all.

  230. Signature Books is hostile in several ways to those who are at all critical of the things they publish. This can be seen not only in some of the books they publish,126 but also in the unseemly attack posted on the Signature Books Web site entitled “Why I No Longer Trust the FARMS Review of Books.”127 This essay was originally read at a Sunstone conference in Salt Lake City. John Hatch, its author, was partway through undergraduate work in history at the University of Utah when he launched his attack on FARMS.128 He was soon rewarded (1) by having his essay posted on the Signature Books Web site and (2) by then being employed by Signature Books to put together an anthology of essays on the Book of Mormon. But when that project failed, he was shifted to editing the diaries of Anthon H. Lund,129 and (3) he was hired as managing editor of Sunstone and also assigned to coordinate their symposia.130

    I’ve my doubts about the article, as you can see where the above is going.

    I’d like a reasoned response for “the rest of the story” if John has the time (appreciate he has been having some very rough times and hope he is ok).

  231. Kaimi,

    We have a first-hand account from one party in the controversy (OSC) and a reader with first-hand access to the other parties (John Hatch). From what I can tell, no one from Sunstone has even responded to Card’s claim, making your judgment that the issue is unresolvable premature.

    Sunstone is a controversial institution that has a controversial history. Lots of people are interested in the behind-the-scenes goings-on at controversial institutions. Dismissing the controversy as gossip doesn’t work — all controversies are contested, and have competing factual claims. That’s what makes them controversial. First-hand, behind-the-scenes accounts are gossip only to the institution involved. To prosecutors, researchers, jurors, historians and T&S readers, those accounts are evidence.

    Because Sunstone has itself has published many first-hand accounts of people who feel they were wrongly treated by a controversial institution, and has sought comment from and urged reform of said institution, it’s compelling drama to see how Sunstone handles the parallel situation when the tables are turned. Do they air their dirty laundry and publicly apologize, as they ask other institutions do, or do they remain silent and refuse to answer questions, following the course they accuse other institutions of doing?

    T&S has played host to many historical controversies that are known only through competing accounts that one party would dismiss as gossip. However, in all of those posts, I don’t recall seeing anyone request, since the parties involved were interested, or had imperfect memories, that we should drop the topic altogether. If T&S is going to issue a pass to only one institution, why should it be Sunstone?

    It’s my hope that people at T&S would continue to be allowed to discuss and weigh evidence regarding the early history of the church, Mountain Meadows Massacre, OD2, BYU policies and other controversies that interest them, even in the many instances where the available evidence is less reliable than in the case of Sunstone and OSC.

  232. It seems to me that Matt is onto something and I agree with him — except I think that it is probably Signature books that has more to explain.

  233. I think you’re right, Blake, that according to Card’s account, Signature bears more blame than Sunstone.

    The reason I’m pushing Sunstone is because they have pertinent information and we have access to them — one of their editors is a loyal T&S reader. They would also know if Card was booed at a Sunstone symposium for defending an apostle’s conciliatory remarks. That issue isn’t relevant to the censorship controversy, but if true, it reveals something about the agenda of Sunstone and those who attend its symposiusms.

  234. Matt:

    First, John H has already said that he doesn’t feel comfortable divulging or defending what he knows about his employer’s actions ten years ago. Let’s respect that. Second, whether or not Card was booed doesn’t really reveal much about Sunstone or those who attend its symposia generally. It only tells us about how some portion of those that heard Card’s talk felt about it. There is no reason to assume that the boo-ers are more representative of Sunstone than are the faithful, non-boo-ing Sunstone attenders among us. This is the fallacy of composition, if I remember my Philosophy 105 right.

  235. “one of their editors is a loyal T&S reader.”

    I wouldn’t say “loyal”…it’s more inevitability than loyalty :)

    I don’t think John speaks for Sunstone when he blogs, for that matter, and if he did, he’d do it at the True and Living Blog. It’s dangerous, I think, for you to try and wrestle official positions out of people in an unofficial setting such as a blog comment. It strikes me as an odd place for the airing of grievances in the first place, especially amongst organizations. I share Kaimi’s perspective that this is more about gossip than about a genuine sense of investigative reporting or historical analysis.

  236. “They would also know if Card was booed at a Sunstone symposium for defending an apostle’s conciliatory remarks … if true, it reveals something about the agenda of Sunstone and those who attend its symposiusms.”

    This is a bit of an overstatement, Matt. An isolated incident involving booing Card may reveal something about some of the attendees at his presentation, but I hardly think it says anything about the “agenda” of Sunstone in general.

    But I suppose that’s another tired debate for another day, and this thread is already long enough.

    Aaron B

  237. Steve: “It strikes me as an odd place for the airing of grievances.”

    Exactly. Save it for Festivus!!

  238. I admit that Sunstone can take the 5th and refuse to respond to Card’s charges. My point has been to show that, should they do that, it’s hypocritical for them given their regular complaints about other institutions’ attempts to cover up mistakes rather than to acknowledge and apologize for them.

    The reason John Hatch’s presence here is significant is that it gives us access to Sunstone leaders. I realize that John isn’t Sunstone and can’t speak for them without permission. However, John’s involvement here allows us to know that Sunstone’s silence isn’t due to ignorance, should they refuse to address the issue. If Sunstone wants to offer an explanation or apologize, but feels a blog is the wrong place to do it, it would be appropriate for them to address it in their magazine or website. They could then simply post a comment here pointing us to their statement.

    Knowing that Card was booed at a symposium wouldn’t reveal the agenda of Sunstone or its attendees, but I think it’s indisputable that it would tell us, as I qualified, something about Sunstone’s agenda. Of course the number of booers is significant, so hopefully someone who was there will let us know. If it was just a couple of people, then I agree it could just be chalked up to the presence of some disagreeable cranks. But even if its just a few people, it would be significant to know that the kind of people who boo speakers that defend the conciliatory remarks of apostles felt free to do so at a Sunstone symposium. It also indicates that some people (again, numbers matter) felt that a defense like Card’s was unwelcome at a Sunstone symposium.

    I’m aware that many people attend Sunstone conferences who would never boo a speaker for defending an apostle, or for any other reason. The fallacy of composition (as Greg called it — I trust he’s right) is correct — not every member of a group shares the traits of other members — but it’s still correct to judge a group by the average behavior of its members.

    I’ve been to many heated debates hosted by the Federalist Society, a society that invites guests whose views run counter to the strong views of the audience, but I’ve never seen a guest booed. This is no doubt in part because the Federalist Society doesn’t attract the kind of people who boo. To me, that says something good about the Federalist Society.

  239. One of my pet peeves is the myth of monolithic Mormonism. It’s completely fallacious yet frequently used to bootstrap to a desired conclusion, i.e., if BY’s frontier Mormon kingdom was monolithic and BY controlled everything from the top of the pyramid, and further if southern Utah settlers committed MMM, then they couldn’t have acted on their own but must have been following orders from the top. Therefore, BY ordered MMM. It’s silly but also very irritating.

    Now it seems we’ve got the myth of monolithic Sunstone. All the human actors within the magazine and the symposiums are encompassed within the reification, “Sunstone.” Well, I have my doubts about that.

    What’s more, and now making some practical observations, I’ve noticed that the “attitude” and “tone” of the symposiums and their attendees vary considerably from place to place and time to time. I’ve attended in at a variety of locations in So-Cal (Pasadena, Burbank, Claremont), the Bay Area (both Peninsula & the East Bay), Dallas and SLC. The flavor, attitude & tone is different in other locations than SLC, at least in my experience.

    Outside of Utah the attitude is similar to here at T&S: discussion is open; there is a wide range of opinions & broad latitude in expressing one’s opinions with the bounds of civility; and there is appreciation for the opportunity to explore and probe our faith with others who similarly enjoy the intellectual stimulation, emotional support & camaraderie.

    Yet in SLC there ‘s a certain “aggressiveness” that I haven’t noticed elsewhere. Others have noticed it too.

    For whatever reasons, things are different at Ground Zero.

  240. Having risen to that stirring defense I suppose I ought to respond to Nate’s original post about Nadine Hansen’s piece in a recent issue of Sunstone.

    I respect Ms. Hansen’s right to her opinion. I think she has a wonderful daughter who has recently married Todd Compton and I wish them and the whole Hansen clan well.

    That said, Nadine Hansen’s pieces at Sunstone, with their knee-jerk, ptich-perfect whine . . .

    . . . usually drive me freakin’ CRAZY.

  241. “It’s my hope that people at T&S would continue to be allowed to discuss and weigh evidence regarding the early history of the church, Mountain Meadows Massacre, OD2, BYU policies and other controversies that interest them, even in the many instances where the available evidence is less reliable than in the case of Sunstone and OSC.”

    Matt, just to make my comment yesterday (or the day before) clear: I think it’s perfectly fine to talk about this issue here at T&S, and I don’t particularly consider the discussion to be merely “gossp.” That said, blogs don’t lend themselves especially well to the sort interlocutory framework that is necessary if one party or another is going to be brought to, say, a recognition of the need of repentence. I’ve never seen a blog thread that truly resulted in closure; even the most earnest threads ultimately just run out of steam before the participants come to any sort of resolution. Such would only be possible, I think, if one was discussing a very recent and immediately “available” (in terms of commonly accepted recollections and evidence) event. Since that’s not the case here, what we have instead is a historical inquiry; and while such inquiries can lead to changes of heart and heartfelt conclusions, a blog thread can, I suspect, at best only contribute to such an end, not actually bring it about. So my complaint wasn’t with the topic, but rather with the sort of expectations which those who started the topic seemed to be carrying with them.

  242. First, John H has already said that he doesn’t feel comfortable divulging or defending what he knows about his employer’s actions ten years ago. Let’s respect that.

    I would have to agree. When a poster talks about not knowing if he will have a job tomorrow, how terrible his days are and other things, I believe it is time to be patient and kind to them.

    Hectoring can always come later ;)

    Seriously, though, I’ve learned a lot and appreciated the links.

  243. I love the Federalist Society too (rah, rah, the Federalist Society, etc.) but the Student Symposium at Notre Dame did not bring out the best in everyone’s behavior and I’m not just referring to Nate Oman at Rocco’s Pizza.

    During the sessions on International Law a couple of the panelists were rude to Cole Porter and an ND professor whose name I forget, and the audience ate it up.

  244. Thanks Russell for your comment. My visions of this aren’t that grandiose, either. I just want more information, and one of the best features of the blogosphere is the ease with which it gathers information. The costs are low, and because of the large number of participants in the conversation, information comes to the surface. I agree it’s unlikely to bring someone to repentance this way, but that’s not my goal. I’m just interested in hearing Signature and Sunstone’s version of Card’s story.

    Rob, calling Salt Lake “Ground Zero” suggests that Sunstone views itself as being engaged in an important struggle whose locus is in Salt Lake. Part of what I find interesting in the controversy we’ve been discussing is whether Sunstone does indeed think it’s on the front lines of a struggle against a prominent institution headquartered in Salt Lake City. That question itself is a point of controversy.

  245. Adam: I remember that session and also recall that it was a bit embarassing. In many ways, I think that the Federalist Society has some of the same problems as Sunstone. They frequently cycle through the same stalwart participants (how many presentations has Richard Epstein or Frank Easterbrook made at Fed Soc Student Symposia?) and there is occasionally a preaching to the choir aspect to it. On the other hand, I think that the Federalist Society geniunely makes an effort to have balanced panels and real debates. Certainly, the best debates at HLS were all sponsored by the Fed Soc. (Richard Epstein v. Christine Jolls on employment discrimination was quite wonderful!)

  246. Adam and Nate, thanks for your counter-examples from the Federalist Society. After I read my comment mentioning them, I realized that my discomfort with Card’s story of being booed wasn’t so much the fact that he was booed. Booing may be crass, but that wasn’t the reason I disliked the story. What was disquieting about his story was the point of view allegedly booed. The story provided further evidence that Sunstone fosters or welcomes opposition to the church and, in Card’s case, those who defend its leaders.

    We could tell something about the Federalist Society by the ideas and claims that were ridiculed at the Notre Dame meeting. We can similarly learn something about Sunstone by comparing the audience’s reaction to different ideas presented there.

  247. No one was booed at at ND, but there was applause/cheering etc. when one of the particpants (wild-eyed, anti-ICC guy from Cornell, name not coming) zingged a international-human-rights-tribunal-rah-rah participant. It started to feel a bit more like Crossfire and a bit less like an intellectual debate.

  248. Wow, was Cole Porter really at a Federalist Society program? In olden days a glimpse of fed’ralism
    was looked on as pure fascism
    Now’adays Heaven knows,
    Anything Goes.

  249. I’ll just very briefly comment on another issue. I’m letting the OSC issue drop.

    I think it’s extremely telling that people continue to refer to Dan Wotherspoon as the “new editor” of Sunstone. Blake Ostler, a friend of Dan’s even, does it above. It happens often throughout the bloggernacle and online community when I read about Sunstone. People point out that Dan seems to be taking Sunstone in a new direction.

    Why do I think this is telling? Because Dan’s been editor for four years now. He’s presided over four Salt Lake Symposiums and numerous regional symposiums. There’s plenty produced by Sunstone to talk about *now*, not fifteen years ago. I think it shows that people who are suspicious of Sunstone are determined to view it through the lens of controversy, so they continue to bring up past events.

    It reminds me of people who insist on viewing the Church Historical Department and archives through the Mark Hofmann lens. They have to continually refer to what happened during the Hofmann era as evidence that the Church whitewashes and hides sensitive documents. These people haven’t been to the archives today and have no idea how helpful and how open many things are. I think the principle is the same with Sunstone.

    If you want to ask me about Sunstone, then let’s talk about Sunstone today, when I’ve actually been involved (I was a sophomore in high school when the OSC fiasco occurred, for cyring out loud!) And Steve Evans is right – I don’t speak for Sunstone when I post online. I can’t imagine the horror poor Dan would feel if he thought I was speaking for Sunstone when I opened my mouth and repeatedly inserted my size 13 shoes.

  250. John: I don’t think that we need to see referring to Dan as “new” as quite so nefarious. It’s more a function of perspective. To me he’s new still because I’ve lived through so much already with others. To my four year old, 4 years is a long time.

  251. Matt, about the booing episode, that happened at Sunstone – SLC in one particular session (I don’t know which one.) So my suggestion would be not to overgeneralize based on the one session.

    Now (risking my own overgeneralization) my experience is that the folks at the regional symposiums are largely like the folks that blog here. However, SOME of the folks (not all) at SLC are a bit more marginalized and have more “edge” to them.

    Then there’s the whole SLC scene – Mormon vs. gentile, Church vs. state, Headquarters vs. I-don’t-know-what. John H. & I have discussed this before. I’m an outsider to it and don’t fully understand it (& frankly glad I don’t have to deal with it.) But unique issues & tensions arise in SLC that don’t occur elsewhere. Some of that is reflected in the “edge” among some at the SLC symposium. FWIW.

  252. Rob: I think that this is an important dynamic. Much of intellectual discussion of Mormonism along the Wasatch Front is tied up with the cultural politics of the Wasatch Front, which accounts, I think, for the edge you discuss. There is a lot less of that outside of Utah, although obviously American Mormonism is always influenced to one degree or another by the culture of the Wasatch Front by sheer force of Utah move-ins if by nothing else.

  253. I have been a member of the Federalist Society for 18 years, beginning with my stint in the the Reagan Administration’s Justice Department long ago. I haven’t attended many of its meetings. I don’t recall anyone being “booed” publicly, but I do remember them being “booed” privately.

    I have never attended a Sunstone Symposium, but I enjoy reading the magazine. I gather that there are among the readers of Sunstone people who are strongly opposed to the Church, its leadership, or some of its current teachings, and that some of them, 15 years ago, may even have booed a defender of the Church. It seems to me that the way to solve the problem is to be sure and never attend a Sunstone Symposium and to stop reading the magazine. I mean, this reminds me of the elderly woman who, when asked for whom she voted, said, “I never vote; it only encourages them [the politicians] if I do.” From now on, I will only read the Ensign (and perhaps Meridian) instead. [Sorry Blake, I will need to put down my copy of your excellent book because it has not been through the correllation department.]

    Now that it has been confirmed that the Federalist Society, except in perhaps one instance, has been a model of scholarly moderation and receptiveness, I will feel free to continue my membership and perhaps attend a meeting again. But if someone disillusions me, for example by suggesting that someone from the ACLU might attend, participate in, enjoy, or even belong to the Federalist Society or its symposia, I will probably need to resign (after requesting an explanation of why such heathens were allowed in the door in the first place, or what evil objective of the Federalist Society attracted them).

  254. BTW, David: I don’t think that anyone has advocated not reading Sunstone. I am an inveterate Sunstone complainer, but I do try to read their articles. (Although, I confess, not all of them. I am simply totally uninterested in the poetry or the fiction. Law school has exacerbated my philistine tendencies on this front, I am affraid.)

  255. Nate,

    Are you telling me that not only do heathen ACLUers enjoy Federalist Society events, but they speak at them too? What does that tell us about the Federalist Society and whom it attracts?

  256. Blake,
    I’m not lurking, but your post was brought to my attention. Scott Card periodically dredges up old history and rants about it. Poor Scott Card. He repeatedly engages in hate speech that is intended to inflame emotions, stopping just short of encouraging violence against people whose views are different than his. I remember that, in one of his editorials in Sunstone, he sided with the Islamic cleric who issued a fatwa against Salmon Rushdie. Elbert’s view was that all voices should be heard, however crazy they might be. We disagreed and thought that whatever view a writer advanced, that person ought to adhere to certain conventions of civil discourse and that it would be wrong to facilitate distribution of that kind of extreme rhetoric of hate. Make no mistake about it: Card’s objective was to silence people, not to engage in reasoned discussion of issues. I think that now that enough time has elapsed, he benefits from foggy memories and hopes that other people will not remember how irresponsibly provocative he had tried to be. But then, your own rhetoric puts you in camp with Card where you refer to us as “deviously Satanic … minions of darkness” and so on. That is quite a departure from your usual high-minded approach to issues. Is that how it’s going to be from now on–this lowest form of insults and slurs? If you came to Signature Books with a ms. full of this kind of nonsense, we would reject that too.
    –Ron Priddis

  257. Ron: Can you say parody? Read the comments and posts — I was just giving a parody of the Mormon Alliance type of demand for apology and repentance — so I guess I can still be high-minded, whatever that is supposed to mean. Trust me, I won’t come to Signature books for anything, including to buy a book. I think I can see pretty clearly what that agenda is. I wouldn’t spend a dime to promote Signature’s goals and publishing. I was fooled once into publishing with Signature — that won’t happen again. However, that said, I still consider you a friend and wish the best for you. I just don’t want to promote what you want to promote and I will promote what you have openly opposed.

  258. Jeesh, it was a parody?! A parody of Mormon Alliance?! I have to confess it was WAY too subtle for me. I thot it was rant, not parody, so appreciate the clarification.

  259. David,

    The Federalist Society is composed of conservative and libertarian lawyers, but it’s not an advocacy group; it’s essentially a club that organizes discussion forums or debates. Most of their events are comprised of two or more prominent attorneys with diverse views opining on a hot topic. Nadine Strossen is a frequent panelist, as is Guido Calabresi. There’s probably no prominent liberal American law school professor or judge who hasn’t been invited to speak at Federalist Society events. The format is wonderful for creating lively and interesting conferences.

  260. Matt writes: “liberal American law school professor or judge”

    Matt, aren’t you being redundant here? ;)

  261. ALL:

    Comments have moved from the gray area into possible violations of T & S comment policies. This is a (final) warning. We’re through with the nastiness on this thread.

    Comments that appear to violate our policies will be deleted. DON’T MAKE THEM.

  262. Ron:

    I read the article OSC wrote about Salmon Rushdie and he DID NOT side with those who issued the fatwa. He merely said that Rushdie was hardly the saint many were making him out to be.

    Hardly the same thing. It’s actually a fairly nuanced view – but critics of OSC often prefer to simplify his complex views rather than deal with him on his own terms.

  263. I’m not surprised to learn that Scott Card didn’t endorse Khomeini’s fatwa. That seemed extraordinarily unlikely to me. Such is the art of demonization.

  264. I’ll excerpt the relevant portion:
      I watched with a mixture of gratification and embarrassment as every writers organization in America expressed its solidarity with Salman Rushdie, the man whose book, Satanic Verses, led to the Ayatollah Khomeini pronouncing a death sentence upon him.
                I was gratified because I also am afraid whenever words are answered by violence; we who live by words are always vulnerable to those who have the power of the sword.
    I was embarrassed, however, because in the process of defending the freedom of the press, most failed to notice that Rushdie was an unworthy champion – that defending Rushdie’s freedom of the press should have been just as unpleasant to people of good will as defending, say, Larry Flynt’s freedom to publish pornography.
    Just because Khomeini behaved in a very bad way toward Rushdie did not make Rushdie one of the good guys.  Quite the contrary.  Rushdie is a bad guy in this story, and we defend him only because of the inappropriateness of the Ayatollah’s response, not because what Rushdie did was good or even innocuous.

    That’s hardly condoning the fatwa. It’s instead focused on those who tried to canonize. In fact, the entire article starts off with a condemnation of the type of behavior of the Ayatollah (go read the whole article. It’s a good one – a bit stringent at times, but that’s OSC’s essay style).

  265. Well, Sunstone is changing editors, which seems sad in a way (though I hope it is a step up financially and professionally for the outgoing editor) and I wonder what changes that will lead to.

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