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Friday, July 20, 2012

No Mormons allowed?

So this was posted on the Hairpin, one of my favorite websites, yesterday. As you can see if you skim the comments, there were some posters who were displeased with the article and others who weren't. Honestly the comments are a pretty big mess and I don't agree with most of the dissenting ones, despite being a bitter apostate. The bulk of the dissenting comments were in the mode of "Mormonism is toxic, we should not have articles about LDS culture/belief here," a few veering into "Mormons should not be writing for the Hairpin, period" territory.

I'm not chill with either of those statements. It might seem, reading Ye Olde Blogge here, that I am angry at the church and by extension anyone involved with it. That's largely true, but it doesn't mean that I'm uninterested in the church and its people. I spend a good chunk of my time online reading LDS-related blogs, and not just the ones written by the disaffected. If I thought there was the skinniest chance that I would never encounter another LDS member or have to hear about the church again, I might be able to just let it all slip away. But having been very devout for fifteen years and with LDS parents and a Mormon running for president, there's just no way. It's always going to be there, tendriling into my life, and trying to force it out completely is more tiresome and less rewarding for me than trying to continue engaging with it in non-toxic ways. For me this means thinking about who I was when I was LDS, considering the aspects of the church that most influenced who I became, considering how the church relates to the world at large, and keeping abreast of news and changes. Because I would like very much to see changes occur in the church. I can't think of a change that would make me want to return to it, but it would give me joy to think that all members could be married in the temple, for instance. If that happens, I want to hear about it and think about it and talk about it. Just because I'm no longer part of the membership doesn't mean I'm no longer affected by its workings. 

I don't often defend the church or its members. Everyone knows nice Mormons,  indeed most Mormons are nice Mormons. But within the context of the article presented, there was an issue for me and that issue is missionary work. I have no good feelings about missionary work, any missionary work. That is my problem with the Hairpin piece; not that it was written by an LDS church member, not that it concerns a facet of the LDS belief system, but that it concerns the imperialist-based act of going into a country with the set goal of converting the inhabitants. Missionary work is not neutral to me. This was why I looked at the article askance, but based on the rest of the comments, there are few interested in presenting a critique that isn't "Mormons are bad, we don't want Mormons here." That's a bullshit criticism and I was glad to see a few commenters say that Hey, I am a Mormon actually and I am allowed to comment here.

I hope that the Pin editors maybe think about inviting a few LDS bloggers to talk about other aspects of church belief and culture which aren't quite so rooted in privilege and colonialism. There are so many interesting Mormon topic blogs, so many conversations going on that are relevant to topics that the Hairpin talks about frequently--gardening and canning and baking, parenting, and of course, feminism. I don't think barring Mormon writers from the website is a good idea, but I also don't think that a missionary travelogue couched (somewhat oddly) in "weight loss tips" is a necessary item.


postmormon girl said...

I feel very similar in terms of talking about Mormon culture - we really do need to just address this topic with honesty, talking about both the good and the bad. Instead of just ignoring it. Which, in the Romney candidacy, seems to be the approach - most of the pundits are too scared to address the issue in an honest manner and so just gloss over the fact. When in fact, he is fully invested in the Church, fully a Mormon, with all of the pros and cons that accompany that identity.

Diana said...

Honestly, when I first read the post linked here my first reaction was confusion. I wasn't sure what the point of the post was or what the editors intended by including it in their daily round-up. If their intent was just to show a piece of religious-based travel writing, I would think they're more on the ball than that--their commentariat is feisty, well-informed, and opinionated, and the church is in the news everywhere these days. If they wanted to talk about Romney but didn't want to use a related news piece, this isn't a good way of bringing up LDS issues (obviously).

If the intent of the piece itself is as one of those "and I'm a Mormon!" style pieces designed to show the outside world that LDS folk are just like everyone else, with a little somethin' extra...well, I still find myself baffled by that sort of advertising. If you're going to be a peculiar people, be a peculiar people. Own it! Embrace it! And yes, talk about it! From what I recall, the point isn't to have it both ways, it's to be set quite clearly apart from the world in certain ways.

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