At my suggestion, Rick Satterfield's temple website now has all the temple matrons (female) listed along with the presidents (male). This started late last year, but he's very busy. I don't know if my feminist blog posts have had any tangible effect on things within the church, but I know that this suggestion did, so I can die happy because I'm not useless.
Two Fridays ago, a full week before I expected to hear back from them, I got an email from the FSY people saying in part, "We regret to inform you that we will not be able to hire you for this particular job at this time." I was pretty qualified with my teaching experience and they were desperate for male counselors, so I first assumed it was because of my blog and/or social media posts. That was a known risk that almost dissuaded me from applying in the first place, but I wasn't about to lie or censor my true feelings and beliefs about anything. Anyway, while they have a right to try to hire those whose values and believes they feel are in line with their own, the chance that they've managed to only hire young people who agree with the church position on same-sex relationships is zero. Another possibility that occurred to me was that they'd discriminated against me for being socially awkward, but while that was a definite possibility and a thing that has been done to me throughout my life, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because the first option was sufficient and reasonable enough. In either case, though, I assumed they had been spineless and dishonest (albeit no more so than most people) to write "we will not be able to hire you" instead of "we have chosen not to hire you."
But on Monday I found out the real reason. Several FSY sessions have been canceled due to low enrollment. For a moment, that news made me feel better about myself and their honesty. Then it alarmed me. At worst, this means that a sizable percentage of the rising generation is not interested in church stuff at all - and everyone knows the church has a severe retention problem with this generation, but I wouldn't have thought it this severe. At best, it means that the leaders who have been hyping this thing up in vain are out of touch with the youth's actual wants or needs - and that problem has been apparent since Brad Wilcox's talk earlier this year went viral for all the wrong reasons, but I wouldn't have thought it this severe. I think it's a real shame because EFY, the North American precursor to FSY, was a mind-blowing, life-changing experience for me at age seventeen. It's hard for me to comprehend that any young Latter-day Saint who cares about or believes in church stuff at all wouldn't want to go. Granted, being surrounded by thousands of church members wouldn't be the same thrilling once-in-a-lifetime event for anyone who's grown up in Utah as it was for me.
Speaking of cynical young church members, I read this very balanced, very relatable article on "Five Real Reasons Young People Are Deconstructing their Faith." I'll resist the impulse to quote the entire thing and try to just go through each of the reasons. The author notes, "Depending on who’s using the word, deconstruction can be a complete demolition of Christian belief, a critical re-appraisal of one’s faith tradition, or an honest acknowledgment of doubt and questions." For me, deconstruction has been a process of rejecting and trying to replace false paradigms that I was implicitly or explicitly taught in the church. For example: everything spoken in General Conference is scripture, scripture comes straight from God's mouth and isn't filtered through human culture or limitations, scripture and science describe the same things and consequently the latter must be reconciled or rejected, prophets and apostles never make serious mistakes with long-term consequences, the "traditional" gender roles promoted by the church aren't sexist, and same-sex love is less authentic or meaningful than opposite-sex love.
Right now there's a big push within the church from scholars and laypeople alike to deconstruct the implicit paradigm of prophetic infallibility that simply doesn't hold up under any amount of scrutiny and often causes people's faith to shatter altogether. What most of them fail to acknowledge is that these incorrect assumptions didn't just grow up in a vacuum, but have been actively promulgated by generations of church talks, manuals, and magazines. Encouraging members to put exclamation points next to everything the prophet says and question marks next to everything else they hear or read is functionally little different from claiming the prophet is infallible. One article I read recently conflates "fallible" with "imperfect" (a much broader term) and then claims, "When a prophet is speaking or presenting a message in his official capacity as prophet, seer, and revelator, he does so under the direction of the Lord. His imperfections outside of his role as prophet do not limit his capacity within his role as prophet." If that's true, then prophets are infallible. We can't have it both ways. We can't pretend fallibility doesn't actually mean anything. We can't say we don't teach that prophets are infallible, and then claim that prophets have no human limitations in their role as prophets - which, by the way, would reduce them to nothing more than God's ventriloquist dummies. It also leads to the unhelpful circular logic that if a prophet is wrong about something, he wasn't acting within his role as a prophet (but you're not supposed to say so until after he's dead).
Now, getting back to the other article. Point 1: Trust in Large Institutions is Declining All Across the Board. The author notes that this is for good reason, and that "Younger generations appear far more eager to hold institutions accountable for their misdeeds and misconduct than the institutions themselves, especially regarding sexual abuse, sexism, racism, and fiscal irresponsibility." I believe my church is a fundamentally good institution and that most of the people in leadership positions are good, but I still don't entirely trust it. It's let me down before and it will again. It wasn't transparent about its history until the internet and hemmoraghing membership gave it no choice, and it still isn't transparent about its finances. My last bishop gave useless advice about a situation he didn't understand and was less than honest with me. He isn't "the church", but as a leader or even just as a member, he is inseparable from it. The church is the people. Without the people it's nothing. "And since the church claims to hold itself to a higher moral standard, institutional failures and distrust will always cascade and ripple outward." (When this author says "the church" he's referring to "a multitude of denominations, movements, and traditions from all over the world centered around the life and teachings of Jesus," but most of what he says is word-for-word applicable to mine.)
Point 2: We Live In a More Diverse, Accessible, and Global World. The author notes, "In contrast to previous generations, Christians Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to attend school, work alongside, and develop relationships with people who live, look, and believe differently. Relational proximity has massive implications for cultural acceptance, social awareness, and interpersonal empathy." This isn't a bad thing - nobody should believe in a religion for the sole reason that they were born into it - but it is a challenge. Of course, most Latter-day Saints in the world are used to being a minority and have lived with this challenge for as long as they've been Latter-day Saints. I suspect that those are Utah are far more likely to be thrown for a loop as the population diversifies or they venture out onto the internet and encounter different, often openly hostile perspectives. Personal acquaintance with LGBTQ+ friends and family members who no longer have to remain closeted in this day and age is also a huge factor in young people, including myself, rejecting what the church teaches about their lifestyles. From the USU English department alone, I'm acquainted with five LGBTQ+ people who have left the church because it made them miserable, and one who has stayed but whose beliefs are far from orthodox.
Point 3: High-Performance Christians are Simply Burning Out. "No one loses a lot of sleep if the spiritually apathetic or consumer-centric churchgoer deconstructs their faith. But when it’s a popular Christian singer/songwriter, a former missionary, a member of the worship team, or a heavily-involved church volunteer, people start paying attention." Yeah, some of the people who leave and subsequently devote all their free time to ranting about their former religion aren't much of a loss, but the church is also losing some of its best and brightest people. Some remaining members look at their departures as "the separation of the wheat and the tares," which is not only uncharitable but flat-out wrong. The tares in the parable are deceitful and actively trying to cause trouble, and the whole point is that you can't tell which ones they are until Jesus (not you) gets rid of them. I've burned out a little myself. It's impossible to maintain the enthusiasm I once had for sharing the gospel with the entire world when the world overwhelmingly seems to not give a crap.
Point 4: The Prideful Prioritization of Conformity Over Unity. "If everyone in your church is expected to look, talk, think, and believe exactly like you, your church isn’t as welcoming as you assume. Instead, you’ve created a culture that sacrifices unity for conformity." (emphasis in original) Young people want to discuss their legitimate questions and doubts without just being told to study their scriptures and pray more, and they don't care if men wear pastel shirts to church or women have multiple ear piercings. The church has progressed by leaps and bounds in this area but still has a long way to go.
Point 5: The Acceptance of Political Idolatry and Conspiracy Theories in Christian Communities. "It’s difficult to put into words how discouraging it can be to watch the very people who taught you the value of discernment fall into conspiratorial rabbit holes or succumb to inflammatory misinformation. Or, as Carey wrote in a blog post, “When Christians lose their minds, people lose their faith.” (emphasis in original) This. This. A thousand times this. When I see how stupid a significant number of middle-aged American members of my church are on social media, I become legitimately afraid that if I ever get married, my wife will turn into a moron on her fortieth birthday. I don't have much of a desire to affiliate with people who think that Trump is the rightful US president and critical race theory is Communism. Even without the conspiracy theory aspect, I have very little patience for the kind of people I used to be who think their political views are the only ones that a righteous Saint can hold and aren't shy about saying so. I'm not sure what part of "principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties" is so damn hard for members of The Church of Donald Trump of Latter-day Republicans to understand. I think this is much less of an issue in Young Single Adult wards, though I've still witnessed a high councillor's wife get up and bear her "testimony" that "social justice and reproductive justice aren't really justice."
Just one more quote to wrap up, and this is a key takeaway for me since I need to critique myself and not just other people: "Deconstruction without reconstruction is a tragedy. If the path you’re on isn’t making you a more generous, compassionate, hopeful, and merciful person (or, in other words, more like Jesus), then the destination isn’t worth the journey." Ultimately, I only want to believe what's true, so ultimately, I believe that will bring me closer to Jesus. But I know I need to go about it in the right way and I'll keep making course corrections in that regard. I can't not take the journey, though. I was made for it. Everyone should read that article in full, so here's the link again.
Things that Stood Out to Me in the April 2022 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The conference opened with a big emphasis on full-time missionary service, obviously in response to the big drop in missionary numbers that hasn't yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. It reminded me that my last love served a mission once. So that was a depressing note to start on.
Reyna I. Aburto asserted on Saturday morning, "The Church is more than the buildings and the ecclesiastical structure; the Church is us, the members. We are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Christ at the head and the prophet as His mouthpiece." I loved to hear her say that because for a few years I've been responding to the false and annoying cliche "The Church is perfect, but the people aren't" with "The Church is the people." This cliche is as nonsensical as "The body is perfect, but the cells aren't." The last time I brought this up, the other person insisted that the Church is Christ. And I said no it isn't, because without the people, it would be nothing more than an idea in Christ's head, and also, the Bible describes it as the bride of Christ, and I'm not sure what kind of weird modalist reading could twist that into saying they're the same entity. Anyway, most members are more likely to listen to Sister Aburto than to me.
Patrick Kearon, I mean Jeffrey R. Holland was on fire during the Saturday afternoon session with his candid recognition and denunciation of abuse. "The abuse was not, is not, and never will be your fault, no matter what the abuser or anyone else may have said to the contrary. When you have been a victim of cruelty, incest, or any other perversion, you are not the one who needs to repent; you are not responsible. You are not less worthy or less valuable or less loved as a human being, or as a daughter or son of God, because of what someone else has done to you." I think Elder Kearon should be an apostle.
Dale G. Renlund gave the concluding remarks in the women's session on Saturday evening. He talked about the Young Women theme. Just a couple weeks ago, a former church member in my poetry class shared a poem about the sexism that was drilled into her in the Young Women program, and it excerpted the pre-2019 version of the theme. A current member recited the theme from memory and a never-member beatboxed along with it, which didn't really work but was funny. The current member mentioned the 2019 revision from "Heavenly Father" to "heavenly parents," and acknowledged, "It's not much, but... it's not much." I respectfully disagree; I think any phrasing in a thing that gets repeated every week and memorized for life is significant. Elder Renlund also fixated on that phrasing and talked about Heavenly Mother. After rumors and reports about him and other leaders, I had some idea what he would say. "Very little has been revealed about Mother in Heaven, but what we do know is summarized in a gospel topic found in our Gospel Library application. Once you have read what is there, you will know everything that I know about the subject. I wish I knew more. You too may still have questions and want to find more answers. Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation."
A lot of people are very upset about that. Personally, I think he did the best he could and I choose to focus on the postiive that he discussed Heavenly Mother at all. I don't think any reasonable person will be able to interpret him as saying that we shouldn't talk about Her or that she's "too sacred" and needs to be "protected" by Heavenly Father. (By the way, I've seen Elder Renlund and his wife relentlessly tease each other in a smaller and less formal setting, so I'm pretty sure he wouldn't relate to that ridiculous and sexist hypothesis at all.) Granted, many members of the church are not reasonable people. But I don't think this talk would have the same chilling effect on discussion as President Hinckley's similar talk in 1991 even if that were Elder Renlund's intention, which I'm sure it is not. The culture is very different. The essay is on the website. And right after the caution that "Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive" came an implied openness to receive it anyway: "Instead, we wait on the Lord and His timetable to reveal His truths through the means that He has established."
On Sunday morning, Russell M. Nelson referred to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and actually mentioned the two countries involved by name this time. He said, "None of us can control nations or the actions of others or even members of our own families. But we can control ourselves. My call today, dear brothers and sisters, is to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others - whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or a resentment for someone who has hurt you. The Savior commanded us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, and to pray for those who despitefully use us." And that phrasing really stood out to me because everyone over the age of two without a severe mental disability has wanted to hurt someone else at some point, but we're not supposed to admit it. Only dangerous and scary people admit it.
Dallin H. Oaks' Sunday afternoon talk was so repetitive of his previous talking points that I really and truly thought I was watching an old conference by mistake, and I would have said so, but I was watching at someone's house and switching between a laptop and the TV as the latter kept failing to work, and I realized it was unlikely that she had brought up the wrong conference on both devices. I've been uncomfortable with Oaks' anti-LGBTQ+ talks for years but now my conscience leads me to straight-up disagree on at least one major point. Even granting "that exaltation can be attained only through faithfulness to the covenants of an eternal marriage between a man and a woman," I do not see how legalized or socially accepted same-sex marriage "oppose[s] progress toward exaltation." Most people aren't choosing same-sex marriage over opposite-sex marriage, they're choosing it over being alone until they die, which wouldn't get them any closer to exaltation either but would probably make them a lot less happy in this life. If same-sex marriage can't be sealed in the temple, then it ends at death and is moot in the long term. I see no reason why the Church needs to keep worrying about it at all. I know that if it does, it's going to continue pushing out its younger members and shrivel up to a shadow of its former self as the older ones die off.
New children of record during 2021: 89,069
Converts baptized during 2021: 168,283
Wards and branches: 31,315
Full-time teaching missionaries: 54,539
Church-service missionaries: 36,639
Temples in operation: 170
Temples dedicated during 2021: 2
Temples rededicated during 2021: 1
Growth has started to rebound from the catastrophe of 2020, but not all the way, and it was in steady decline for thirty years before that anyway.
Following President Nelson's trend, most of these temples are clearly not warranted by membership numbers alone (which have actually gone down in the UK and California in recent years) but will be more convenient for nearby members to attend. Breaking from the trend, one wasn't announced for Utah. Oh no, whatever shall we do? How will we get by with only 28 temples?
Good for Ohio though. Some of my favorite people in the world live in Ohio.
I recently arranged to hang out with someone from my ward because I didn't look forward to being alone for every hour of spring break and she seemed like a safe person to talk to about some stuff. We were going to go for a walk but when she had to work late, we went to dinner instead. It wasn't a date. I made sure to tell her up front that I was only seeking friendship, so she wouldn't have to wonder about my intentions, and she appreciated that. She told me about her awkward drama with two guys from the ward who are competing for her affections. If I needed a reminder of how grateful I am to not have anything to do with the world of dating anymore, which I didn't, that would have sufficed. I felt bad for them but also amused that someone besides me is going to suffer this time.
I told her that I just recently came to the conclusion that I simply straight-up don't believe in some teachings and claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A lot of people wouldn't see that as earth-shattering. Members who don't believe every single part are the rule, not the exception. But I tried for a really long time to avoid that route because I saw it as logically untenable to pick and choose parts of a religion that claims to be the only true and living church, the kingdom of God, uniquely led by revelation. It's all or nothing, I thought. But I grew tired of trying to make certain things work or pretend they made sense, so here I am. And I hesitated to share that fact with anyone. As invisible as I feel pretty much all the time, I know that a few people in and out of the church, including some who don't even believe in God, admire me as a truth seeker and an example of balancing faith and reason. I didn't want to shake anyone's faith, or to be seen as a hypocrite or as proof that faith and reason can't be balanced after all. I picked this person to confide in because I knew she wouldn't judge me and she didn't have enough preconceived notions to be too disappointed. She asked for examples of what I don't believe anymore. I said, "I don't believe that same-sex relationships are wrong." Without skipping a beat she was like, "Yeah, me neither."
The Church's opposition to homosexuality - which in fairness, it shared until pretty recently with the entire Judeo-Christian world - has bothered me a lot for a little over a decade, ever since I befriended a real live lesbian who shockingly didn't appreciate being told that God wanted her to pursue a life of celibacy. (I didn't volunteer that information, thank goodness. I didn't even know she was a lesbian yet. She asked me "What are your thoughts on gays?" and I told her and she said "Houston, we have a problem.") As I talked to her, the horrible real life implications of the glib phrase "The attraction isn't a sin, but acting on it is" - an improvement on the Church's previous stance of "Homosexuality is a curable pathology" - suddenly sunk in. Still, I remained agnostic about it. I tried to maintain some epistemological humility and not claim with certainty that the Church's position was wrong. God's ways are not my ways. Just because I and countless others find something deeply confusing and hurtful, I told myself, doesn't mean it isn't from God. I listened to countless rationalizations and obfuscations from happily married straight people about why it isn't as fundamentally unfair as they know it is. I decided I would just love people and not judge their lifestyle choices, and if God didn't like their lifestyle choices, that was His problem, not mine. And I continued to experience cognitive dissonance every time I became aware of yet another gay person who had left the Church because its teachings made him or her miserable.
The tipping point actually came last week when the final speaker at the Logan Institute's LGBTQ+ and allies seminar, a happily married straight man, gave everyone a handout of quotes that were supposed to rationalize and obfuscate the fundamental unfairness of the Church's position but had the opposite effect on me. For example:
Robert George: "If one believes that 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' truly is central to one's identity or being, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' teaching about marriage and family, including but not limited to the Proclamation on the Family, will always be highly problematic and, indeed, mysterious. It will be defensible, if at all, sheerly by appeal to authority." Okay, so sexual orientation per se is a pretty modern construct, but people have had varying kinds of sexual attraction for as long as people have existed, and how can that not be central to one's identity or being in some way if marriage and sex are central to God's plan? How can the purpose of one's existence be uncoupled (no pun intended) from the internal motivation to take part in it (or not)? Dr. George is certainly correct about the appeal to authority - though apologists have tried to fill in the gaps, church leaders themselves have made little if any serious attempt to explain or defend the Church's stance on homosexuality beyond "God said so."
N.T. Wright: "We have lived for too long in a world, and tragically even in a church, where the wills and affections of human beings are regarded as sacrosanct as they stand, where God is required to command what we already love and to promise what we already desire. The implicit religion of many people today is simply to discover who they really are and then try to live it out." I believe this statement, and yet when applied in this context, it singles out (no pun intended) a small segment of the population (percentage-wise) and holds them to a different standard than most people. If you're part of the heterosexual majority, then in this context God is regarding your wills and affections as sacrosanct to a significant extent. He is commanding what you already love and promising what you already desire. Maybe you won't be able to find someone, but that's because of bad luck, not because He doesn't want you to and forbade you from trying. Oh, and there's also the small detail that people's sexual and romantic wills and affections are typically the ones God gave them in the first place.
Robert Johnson: It's become increasingly common to believe that one "mortal human being has the responsibility for making our lives whole, keeping us happy, making our lives meaningful, intense, and ecstatic." Stephanie Coontz (misspelled Coonz): "Never before in history had societies thought that such a set of high expectations about marriage was either realistic or desirable." Maybe Latter-day Saints get this idea because the Church teaches that marriage is the most important thing in the universe and, once entered into, should be one's highest priority at all times. I thought this quote was on the list to imply that gay people shouldn't make such a big deal out of marriage because it isn't all that great, which would be pretty freaking hypocritical. After looking at the original article and its brief mention of LGBT+ individuals, though, I think it's on the list to imply (even though neither of the people quoted were talking about this) that gay people shouldn't mind dating and marrying the opposite sex without getting to enjoy any of the romantic feelings or attraction that straight people take for granted, and which gay people also get to enjoy when they date and marry the same sex.
So now I've had no choice but to change my mind. God's commandments can sometimes be very difficult to follow, but I'm pretty sure they aren't supposed to be a constant source of avoidable pain and trauma. The fruits of the Church's teachings on this subject tell me loud and clear that they aren't from God. If they are, then it seems to me that celibate gay members should find happiness and inner peace that outweigh the benefits of being in a relationship, and those who leave to pursue gay lifestyles (assuming they would even still want to) should feel empty inside and want to come back. From what I've seen, this is overwhelmingly not the case. (Of course there are rare exceptions on both sides, and there is sometimes middle ground. John Gustav-Wrathall was excommunicated in 2005, and has continued to attend church every week with his husband. Tom Christofferson broke up with his long-term boyfriend to get rebaptized, and now he's dating men again because he got lonely. A gay friend of mine is zealous about the gospel and committed to celibacy, and on my birthday he told me he was interested and kissed me on the lips.) The bottom line for me is that the gospel is supposed to work for all of God's children and the Church is supposed to be a healthy place for all of God's children, but it doesn't and it isn't, and consequently something needs to change. I don't presume to know exactly what, but something.
Even if it's true that opposite-sex marriage is a requirement for exaltation in the highest degree of heaven, and consequently the only form of marriage that can be sealed for eternity in the temple, it doesn't logically follow that a temporary same-sex marriage is worse than no marriage at all. On the contrary, since same-sex love and relationships are every bit as real and meaningful as opposite-sex love and relationships, a same-sex marriage that ends at death still provides the personal growth and development between two imperfect people that I believe is the main purpose of marriage. (I'm pretty sure that reproduction is not the main purpose of marriage, which every non-human organism on the planet gets along just fine without.) The Church could keep its temple sealing policies and teachings about the hereafter, and still stop punishing gay members for doing what makes them happy. This would still confer a kind of second-class status on gay members and be unsatisfactory to a lot of people, but it would be an astronomical improvement. In 1948 BYU students Kent Goodridge Taylor and Richard Snow told President George Albert Smith that they were in love with each other, and he told them to live their lives as best they could. Of course, that was a few years before gay people in the US started agitating en masse to be treated like human beings, which apparently frightened church leaders and sparked the rampant homophobia and witch hunts of the 1960s and 70s.
And even if my fallible mortal logic is wrong and it is true that marrying the wrong person somehow gets you farther away from exaltation than being alone, I don't believe that any God worthy of the title would be more concerned about chastity violations between people who love each other than about, say, the LGBTQ+ suicide rate. So there's the whole matter of priorities too. Again, not a perfect solution, but there is ancient and modern scriptural precedent for God allowing people to live a "lower law" when the "higher law" proves impossible for them.
My friend asked, "Are you a pretty logical thinker?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "That makes it hard." And then I complained about the hostility I frequently encounter in the Church to critical thinking or any kind of nuance whatsoever, as exemplified in recent remarks by Brad Wilcox and Wendy Nelson. My friend hadn't heard about the latter, and she smiled and shook her head when I described them. And then that led her to the topic that I would have brought up next anyway. She brought up a Sunday school lesson that our bishop taught last year, which I've complained about on this blog multiple times, but I had gotten over it and I'm only bringing it up again because she did. In this lesson he very forcefully asserted that God wants all married women to work unpaid 96-hour weeks as homemakers, and told the women present to only use their college educations to be better mothers, not to have careers (emphasis his). My friend remembered him saying that people who disagreed were "babies" in their understanding. I don't remember that, but I remember him saying that we were following the "natural man" and the world's lies, so the same general idea. I was very concerned about the women who sat through this nonsense. I was concerned that those who recognized it as nonsense would leave the Church, and those who didn't would either give up their dreams, feel guilty for having dreams, or feel guilty when modern economic realities forced them to have careers whether they wanted to or not. Now I know how two of them reacted. My friend said that she and her roommate were both angry about it, and then she went home and bawled.
Hearing that also made me angry all over again - about the lesson, and about the total lack of any retraction, correction, or apology to those harmed, because we don't seem to mean it when we say we don't believe that our leaders are infallible. A few months later, referencing my complaint to the stake president, the bishop privately acknowledged to me that "We all make mistakes," but my friend and I are pretty sure he still doesn't think he said anything wrong. She was chill about it, though. She said we don't have to believe everything we hear, and if something feels wrong, it probably is. She shared another experience in another ward when the principle of modesty was, as per bloody usual, taught completely wrong by telling the women they needed to cover up to help men control their thoughts. (Jesus would have told the men to pluck their eyes out if they had a problem.) And she was upset, but that very week she saw a quote in institute that she was able to take to her bishop to convince him that this was the wrong way to teach modesty, and he asked how she would teach it and asked her to prepare a lesson, and she was terrified but she got a reprieve from the you-know-what pandemic. Because of her taking this stand, though, when the time came for her mother (who had originally seen nothing wrong with the modesty lesson) to require the young women at some church activity or other to wear shirts over their bathing suits, she refused. My friend said people like us need to be here to take stands like that and to create space for others who otherwise wouldn't be welcome. I agree. It just feels at times like a ridiculous burden that we don't deserve, especially when less nuanced members and leaders openly resent us as they push the culture in the opposite direction.
I told her about how I had become an out-and-out feminist in the last couple years because of my ex-neighbor Calise, who probably still has no idea that she had this effect on me. (This friend already knew something of the less positive effects that Calise had on me and had said that she "sounds like a butthead," so I jumped at the chance to give a more nuanced picture.) Because of her, I started to question things that I had never questioned because they were conditioned into me. Calise made the most beautiful artwork and she wanted to be a teacher and share her passion with children. It made me sick to think that anyone would tell her not to use that God-given talent because she had a one-size-fits-all role to change diapers, wash dishes, and so on. My friend said that she really appreciates men like me. That was nice. She said we have "a lot of very conservative men" in our ward and that the ones in our home evening group have made several "domineering comments" and she finally called them out on it. I stopped going to Elders' Quorum for a while in part because of sexist comments like the high councillor's assertion that his wife "understood her role as a homemaker" and that her career was to follow him wherever his career took him. They weren't frequent by any means, but I felt like life was too short to gamble every other week on whether or not one would pop up.
I said, "The whole thing about the man being the breadwinner and the woman staying home..." "...is bullcrap," she interrupted. I was going to say "...only solidified after World War II and was only feasible for white Americans of a certain social class where women could afford to stay home instead of working as housekeepers for wealthier families," but I guess her more concise version covered that. Of course, I don't think it's bullcrap if/when a heterosexual couple decides with equal input and without coercion that it's the right option for their specific circumstances, but it is bullcrap when preached as God's eternal model for everyone ever. So anyway, I've come to the conclusion that I don't believe anything the Church teaches about gender roles. It's lost all credibility on that subject for me because its current teachings are just a watered-down version of more egregiously sexist teachings from a few decades ago (that some people are still perpetuating). And while men and women are obviously different, everyone is an individual and you simply cannot make any generalization about one or the other that will always be true. (Not to mention that many differences stem more from culture and upbringing than biology.)
I could have gone on about things I don't believe anymore, but my friend asked what I do still believe. So I started listing those off. I believe the basic theology, which, although I don't often say so because I have no interest in denigrating other faiths, in my opinion is the most complete and makes the most sense of any Christian theology. As an example, I mentioned the teaching that some part of our identities, which Joseph Smith called "intelligences," is uncreated and co-eternal with God. This resolves the theological problem that if God created us from scratch, it's His fault that we aren't perfect and His fault that we sin. I don't know if she ever considered that before but she looked impressed. I believe in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. For whatever reason, after saying that I felt a need to reassure her that I don't like polygamy. It's one of the major issues that keeps a lot of people up at night but doesn't bother me much for some reason, but if I were a woman like my friend it would probably bother me more, so I felt like I needed to be sensitive to that after mentioning that I don't have any real problems with Joseph Smith. So we got on a tangent about that because she said that she doesn't like it either but she thinks it was necessary for a time and she just recently learned about how it empowered plural wives to take turns going back East to get college educations. I said, "The Church was more feminist in the nineteenth century than in the twentieth." She said, "Ohhh yeah."
She had said she needed to be back around 6:45, but when I glanced at my phone at 6:35, she told me not to worry about it, to take my time. We left around quarter after seven. I had a delightful time and appreciated her empathy and thoughtfulness very much. I am starving for these intellectual discussions that I can't have at church or with my family. She said she thought I wasn't giving myself enough credit for everything I still believe. I agreed and no longer felt like it was a big deal to share this with both of the people who read my blog.
During the surprisingly painless Sunday school lesson on the Family Proclamation a couple months ago, someone in my ward mentioned a class the Logan Institute of Religion had done for LGBTQ+ allies, and said they were going to do it again. So I sought it out and signed up. It's not a standard class, but rather a seminar that started partway through the semester and is held once a week. It's had three meetings so far. They're an hour and a half each, but unfortunately I can only stay for about fifty minutes because of a time conflict. They're led by Brother Diamond, who's also in my stake presidency, and I've heard him talk about LGBTQ+ things before when he taught a class about all the controversial things. I didn't know what to expect from this seminar but just knowing that it exists with the institute's approval gave me hope for a better future.
As it turns out, Brother Diamond does very little, which is great. He opens by showing a music video - so far we've gotten two selections from Zach Williams and one from the Bonner Family - and then reiterates this quote from M. Russell Ballard: "We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord." That's essentially the course objective. Then he turns the time over to an LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saint attending USU who shares their story for thirty or forty minutes. Then everyone breaks into little groups and discusses what they've heard for a few minutes, and then the LGBTQ+ person takes questions. (Brother Diamond told everyone the first time to stay respectful during this portion, and he said he feels protective of these people and he's from England so he knows how to be rude.) Notably missing from this format is the teacher feeling a need to constantly remind us of church teachings on marriage and gender as if we're somehow at risk of forgetting about them. It's all about listening, learning, and loving. I'm very happy that the LGBTQ+ people get to speak for themselves and be as real and honest as they want. Their faith strengthens mine, though of course I never want to fall into the lazy self-serving "Look, here are some LGBTQ+ people who haven't left the Church, so everything is fine" trap.
So in the first meeting, this guy with an interesting hairstyle got up to speak and I thought, "He must be gay." He turned out instead to be asexual. I couldn't believe they started off the seminar with an asexual person. It was only the second time in a church setting - the first one being the aforementioned Sunday school lesson a couple months ago - that I heard anyone acknowledge the existence of asexual people, and the first time I heard the term used. I could imagine people seeing this as a copout, since he doesn't have any real desire to get married and he can just not get married and not deal with as much heartache as someone who does want to get married but is told their otions are to marry nobody or to marry somebody they're not attracted to. For me, though, it was kind of incredible to hear him speak. I'm vaguely aware that I fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, but I don't give that fact much thought. It causes me some angst because I do experience some romantic attraction and some desire for companionship and some awful cognitive dissonance about whether or not I want to get married, but that decision has been made for me and I don't feel like it affects my life much at this time. I 100% came to this seminar as an ally, not as an LGBTQ+ person seeking something for myself. But I got something anyway.
He talked about how he came out to his mission president, and his mission president totally dismissed his concerns and said he was too young to know this about himself and insisted that he will be attracted to his wife, and insisted on meeting with him every transfer, which was very embarrassing. Then a recent gay convert knew exactly what to say to cheer him up. I could relate a little. When I've told peers in the Church about being asexual, typically they didn't know what that was but could understand and accept it as soon as I explained. It's not complicated. If some people's hormones make them want to have sex with boys and some people's hormones make them want to have sex with girls and some people's hormones do both of those things, it's really just common sense that some people's hormones can't be bothered to do either of those things. And because I know what the Greek prefix "a-" means, I started identifying as asexual long before I knew others were doing the same. But my parents refused to accept it. My dad yelled once, "You're not 'asexual'! Maybe that's the buzzword..." When I asked, then, what terminology he thought I should use to indicate the fact that I've never had the slightest urge or desire to have sex at any point in my life, he said "Chaste, or celibate." Of course neither of those words is adequate because they describe behavior, or more accurately a lack thereof, and say nothing about the underlying cause that differentiates me from most people.
I just loved that this guy didn't hold back on sharing his experience with his mission president and how negative it was. During the Q&A session, someone asked if it had damaged his testimony that the mission president was called by God. He said it had made him angry at the time, but maybe the mission president needed that experience and maybe someday he'll remember it and be better for it. He said that church leaders have made plenty of mistakes, that church leaders are just like us, that the only difference is they have more authority. I just loved that kind of real talk. He was in my discussion group, but I didn't say anything because all I could think of was how much his experience resonated with mine, and I didn't want to make it about me. Then I left early. He probably thought I was offended.
The next week, we got a speaker who was asexual and genderfluid. Though biologically female (at least on the surface - other things may not line up, but it would be kind of gross for me to speculate on the inner workings of a stranger's body, so I won't, but I just want to be clear that I'm not oversimplifying biological sex or its connections to gender dysphoria), often they feel more male and sometimes they don't. I really wish I could understand what that feels like. I only know what it feels like to be one person - me. I don't have any point of reference to know what it's supposed to feel like to be a man or what it's supposed to feel like to be a woman. If I did feel like a woman, how would I even know? I guess a big part of it is just feeling like you're in the wrong body, but I don't even know what that feels like. The important thing, then, is for me to recognize that just because I haven't shared and can't personally relate to an experience doesn't make it less real or valid for someone else. They related this experience to Romans 8:16-18: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Before I had to leave, I was able to ask if they've had any struggles with the temple or other highly gender-segregated aspects of the Church. They said yes, some, but they feel so good at the temple that those struggles are minimized. In response to someone else's point-blank question, they acknowledged that they believe some things in the Family Proclamation are wrong, reiterated that church leaders receive revelation through their biases just like we do, and said that some things probably aren't going to change as long as certain people are around. I am so grateful to the institute for providing this safe space for them and others to be honest about beliefs that the institute would not likely share or endorse. We simply cannot "listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing" if we pressure them to self-censor and only say what they think we want to hear. In any case, church members of all stripes should all be able to accept that more light and knowledge on God's transgender children will be forthcoming. Dallin H. Oaks said in 2015, "I think we need to acknowledge that while we have been acquainted with lesbians and homosexuals for some time, being acquainted with the unique problems of a transgender situation is something we have not had so much experience with, and we have some unfinished business in teaching on that."
The third week we heard from a gay woman. (She preferred to identify as "gay" rather than "lesbian", but in this context it's the same thing.) Growing up, she realized that she liked girls and that other girls didn't like girls, and she tried to get over that by looking at boys and thinking "If I liked this boy, what would I like about him?" and acting more boy-crazy than any of her friends. She said a lot of gay people do this kind of masking, so if they come out later in life, it's not helpful to say "But you weren't like that before!" I could relate a little to this experience too. I've never been gay, but being called "faggot" five times a day on the school bus made me a little defensive regardless. I made a big screaming deal out of all my crushes until people got really annoyed at me. "Look," I tried to say, "I like girls, I like girls so much. Just girls and that's all."
Growing up in the Church, she heard the teaching that "the attraction isn't a sin but acting on it is," and thought that meant she wasn't supposed to think about it, talk about it, or read about it. She wouldn't even acknowledge it to God. A Young Women leader told her class that same-sex attraction wouldn't exist in the next life, and she interpreted that to mean that God wanted her to kill herself so she could be fixed. Fortunately she didn't go through with it like many others have. As she pointed out, an LGBTQ+ youth aged 13-24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the United States. Again, I loved this kind of real talk - not that I loved what she said, of course, but I loved that she didn't sugarcoat it to make straight people more comfortable. And then, like so many others, she believed that her same-sex attraction would go away if she served a mission. Fortunately that wasn't her only reason for serving a mission, and she said she loved everything about it. Afterward, when she found that she was still gay, she finally opened up to God about it and got into a healthier place. She acknowledged that the lifestyle options left open to her by church teachings aren't thrilling, but she was hopeful and faithful. I don't remember more specifics about that and I missed some stuff because she talked for a long time and I had to leave before we even got to the group discussions.
None of the speakers had quick and easy answers for how to make their lives in the Church easier. If quick and easy answers existed, this seminar wouldn't need to. But I think they taught us how to create a healthier and more inclusive and accepting community. Again, this works in large part because Brother Diamond recognizes that it isn't his job or our job to be obsessed with whether LGBTQ+ people are "acting on it". Adding a caveat to every expression of love is not loving at all. They know the Church's teachings, and they are following the Church's teachings, but if they ever change their minds about that, it's between them and God and doesn't absolve any Latter-day Saint of the commandment to love them, mourn with them, and comfort them. This seminar is exceeding my expectations.
I used to post screenshots of myself arguing with people on the internet, usually on Facebook, usually critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a lot more often. I get into fewer arguments than I used to because I'm trying to be nicer on social media and I've figured out that most of them are a waste of time anyway. I'll often give one response to a stupid comment and then ignore whatever the person says next, which I suppose makes me a troll, but it's my compromise. Sometimes I just can't not say anything. I'm not made of stone. Anyway, I got into a couple of arguments recently that I don't regret because I was standing up for important principles - and not with critics of my church, but with members, who collectively do far more damage to it than the critics could dream of.
People who get their idea of gender roles from the 1950s are bad enough, but at least they're almost in the right century. It's a little startling to realize that people live and work among us who get their idea of gender roles from the Bronze Age. (When I say "people" of course I mostly mean men, but I've seen plenty of internalized misogyny, so I can't discount the possibility that some women also hold these views.) I encountered the second one in as many months on a recent YouTube re-upload of Valerie Hudson Cassler's 2010 FAIR Conference presentation "The Two Trees". In this presentation she outlines a potential non-sexist paradigm for the part of the Latter-day Saint endowment ceremony where women covenanted to hearken to the counsel of their husbands (or obey the law of their husbands before 1990) while men covenanted to hearken directly to God. Though I respect her and her work, I don't find this paradigm convincing because a lot of it is pure speculation, because that part of the ceremony was changed in 2019 and rendered most of it moot, and because we know that Brigham Young (who oversaw the all-male committee that wrote down and systematized the endowment ceremony 35 years after it was introduced) believed that men were responsible for leading their wives to salvation. I think placing men between women and God was simply a sexist mistake that didn't get corrected for a very long time. But anyway, I encountered this guy in the comments:
Benevolent sexism in a nutshell: "Women are superior to men, so they shouldn't have rights." Note how I tried to be civil by not attacking him as a person, even though I think nothing of him as a person. I didn't say that he was woefully out of touch with reality and irredeemably sexist, I just said his comment was. Also, yes, Moses 4:22 is descriptive of the power struggle in fallen marriages. The "desire" here is not one of love, but control. The same language is repeated in Moses 5:27: "Satan desireth to have thee... And thou shalt rule over him."
Like, seriously, what is he thinking? Does he think any substantial percentage of women spend all day in bed while men wait on them and buy them things? Yes, I'm sorry, my attempt to be civil faltered under this barrage of stupidity, but I did still say that his behavior, not he himself, was delusional. I should have picked better phrasing than "household chores" to better encompass women's labors in other times and cultures that don't fall under that category, but you get the idea. And studies have found that when both partners in a heterosexual couple have jobs - which is increasingly a requirement in today's economy - the woman still does most of the housework. A better question would be, if men's gender roles are so awful, why have they fought tooth and nail to keep women out of them? Because they're concerned about women? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. But anyway, I had to let the matter drop until I get some more life experience.
And then there was this. I'm in this Facebook group that deals with critics and criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because I've long had an interest in that sort of thing and a desire to defend my faith, but I've butted heads several times with its primary demographic of conservative middle-aged white people. When so many people struggle to get along with me, of course I have to consider that maybe I'm the problem - but I think not.
For one thing, they're still in the mindset that the main threats to the Church are evangelical Christians - which is no longer the case in this secular age when mainstream American society doesn't care about evangelicals' opinions on anything - and not only waste a lot of time arguing with them, but often go from defense to offense, hypocritically mocking and poking holes in their beliefs. For another, they have such a persecution complex that they regard any member who wants to see any kind of change in the Church as an apostate and a threat. They seem to have a particular distaste for everything Jana Riess writes. She's more radical than I am but I would die without more liberal members like her pushing back against the insufferable conservative church culture. For another, they're very big on the apologist victim-blaming game, e.g. "If you experienced a faith crisis after discovering uncomfortable things about church history that you were never taught, it's completely your own fault for not reading everything the Church has ever published." For another - and they certainly aren't alone in this - they bend over backwards to avoid developing a shred of empathy for LGBTQ+ members, because recognizing these members' pain would give them cognitive dissonance over the Church's teachings and policies that cause much of it. (I live in that cognitive dissonance.) So any gay man who's less than enthusiastic about choosing to be alone and celibate until he dies or marry someone he isn't attracted to is seen as a threat.
David Archuleta recently shared an hour-long Instagram video in which he opened up about struggling to reconcile his faith and his sexuality, about his loneliness and depression and suicidality. Now if you want to uphold the Church's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and if you disagree with the path that he's thinking about taking, that's one thing. But if you are a baptized member, you covenanted to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Not just those you agree with or those whose struggles you can personally relate to or those who will never cause you cognitive dissonance by being the way God made them. And that does not, by any stretch of the imagination, involve constantly trying to minimize their struggles and belittling them for not having more faith or stamina when required to do things you probably wouldn't be willing to do yourself. The desire for companionship is fundamental to almost all human beings. It is not analogous to alcoholism or whatever other temptations these people compare it to. For one thing, even if you struggle to abstain from alcohol, there are still countless other things you can drink. And LGBTQ+ people who get no empathy, no understanding, and no love are killing themselves all over the place. David Archuleta's vulnerability will save many lives. So anyway:
Most of the comments were in agreement and insensitive - a bunch of happily married straight people who think God appointed them to police gay people's adherence to the law of chastity wondering why David Archuleta has the audacity to think God should change the law of chastity. Also, they think young people pretend to be bisexual for popularity points. Emily clarified that in her opinion David Archuleta "is now an anti-Mormon." But there was just enough pushback from the minority of actual Christians that an admin warned about the post being muted or taken down if it escalated too much. So I escalated it. I put the devil's tool of contention to a good purpose. I said something like, "Yes, you are a terrible person. [Something something I don't remember] And all of you people mocking him without having watched the video can go to hell." And then I replied to a few people, including the genius who thought David Archuleta needed to "work through his struggles" but not, you know, actually tell anyone about it or get any support. And commenting was turned off and then the post was deleted. A friend in the group who has been equally disgusted with its direction, and for whom this post was the final straw, tried to make a comment but was too late. I print it here so her effort won't be in vain:
How is it that when we see someone publicly voice the pain and confusion they’re feeling regarding keeping their covenants in the church, this group’s knee jerk reaction is to treat them as though they were the new John Dehlin or Zelph on the Shelf? Did you and I watch the same video? He has literally been struggling with suicide ideation, a hell that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and you say “poor little rich boy”? Seriously, THAT is your reaction?? That “poor little rich boy” is still a human being, and as someone who has frequently struggled with my own mental health issues, HOW DARE YOU insinuate that he somehow deserves less compassion and empathy just because he also says he’s open to having a gay relationship!
Yeah, maybe you and I wouldn’t advocate for making that kind of choice, but you wanna know the secret to keeping gay people in the church? Maybe don’t belittle them, even if behind their backs, when they open up about how hard this mortal journey has been for them. “Yeah but everyone has their struggles!” Yeah of course they do, but do you speak of other people’s struggles the same way you do of this? But no, his struggles can just be dismissed and waived away because he’s a public figure, and a gay one at that.
P.S. bisexuality is a real thing. Presuming that those who identify as such are largely just trying win popularity points is beyond ignorant. Even if someone were making it up, it shouldn’t change the way you and I treat them or speak about them.
Emily's next post was, "I am leaving the group." And that brought out a lot of sadness, and a few people who didn't know what had happened asked why, but of course after making the post for attention she didn't stick around to answer questions. One of the few people who displayed any basic decency on her previous post spoke up here too, so I'll give him a shoutout.
Alas, when I spoke up for basic decency on this new post, people got pissed at me. I won't attempt to reconstruct the whole argument, because it probably isn't that interesting and several comments by me and others were deleted. You'll just have to look deep inside yourself and decide if you trust me or not. I said this to one person who lamented the deletion of the previous post:
I felt like this was pretty straightforward stuff, but I was wrong.
Is... is she serious? Is she really serious? Unbelievable. Everyone knows you don't use three adverbs in one sentence. It sounds awful.
I also got a reply from Darryl Barksdale, the founder of FAIR. In keeping with that organization's grand tradition of scholarly rigor and academic standards, his comment was a puking emoji. Then further down in a new thread he said, "I gotta tell you... Emily was the wrong one to go. I'd happily trade her for Nicholson." (Both of those comments were deleted). Now, I've barely had any interactions with this guy, but he's one of the biggest jerks I've ever observed, and I respect him a little bit more than I respect law enforcement. So it was a mistake for him to let slip that my presence in the group bothered him so much, because that knowledge made me happy, and I don't think that's what he was going for. I replied, "Boo hoo." And then he went and made it even better:
Yes, this jerk I've barely interacted with was so bothered by me not being a homophobe that he left the group. I never tried to make this happen, I never tried to harass him into leaving the group, I never would have thought to care enough to muster up the effort to carry out such a thing, and he just dropped it in my lap. Tender mercies.
And then you see this guy Leighton. He was the main guy who argued with me and several of our comments were deleted. I haven't respected him much either - mostly because of his deliberate lack of empathy on this very issue - and he, too, made the mistake of letting me know how much I bothered him. His last comment addressed to me ended with "Shut. Your. Mouth." I could just imagine him seething. I could just imagine his frustration that he couldn't make me take orders from him. He could have just blocked me, and that would have taken less effort than continuing to respond, but maybe he was too angry to consider that. I guess putting periods after every word was his last-ditch effort to intimidate me. That comment was deleted, but my reply to it stayed up and is now a bit of a non sequitir.
Really, all this because I espoused the controversial notion that mocking lonely and depressed people is wrong. I was rather surprised to discover the depth of Leighton's personal vendetta against me, especially when, twenty minutes after I acquiesced to the admins' damage control and stopped commenting, it manifested in what struck me as a rather bizarre obsession with trying to get "the fellow" (me) kicked out of the group. Maybe he has a crush on Emily.
Objecting to objectionable behavior is literally my objectionable behavior that Leighton objects to. Wow.
Please, tell me more about what you think.
I did not make any nasty comments about Emily in her absence. You can't choose to ignore something that doesn't exist.
No, I did not literally say that. Leighton began the argument by replying to my comment pictured above, "Suggestion: shut up." I said, "I have a suggestion for you too, but it would get me kicked out of the group :)" (Both of these comments were deleted.) Leighton said, "On the evidence, that would certainly be appropriate and desirable." I said, "Because I'm the only person here who's even trying to follow Christ?" (That comment was deleted.) So it was a rhetorical question, not a claim, and its obvious intent was to highlight the absurdity of him saying I should be kicked out for speaking up against bullying marginalized people. I also said "trying," and that was a deliberate word choice to acknowledge that I'm by no means perfect, in this instance I wasn't the one spitting on everything Christ stands for.
Ah, so he does know how to represent people's words accurately, as long as the people is himself.
Sorry, I'm still confused. Please explain it again.
I don't know about 2 and 3, but 1 did not happen. Boo hoo, Leighton. Honestly, this is one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen.
My friend is biased, but her summary of the whole debacle is good enough for me:
I do want to say one last thing in my defense. I am a very imperfect individual, but in this instance, I was callous toward people who were first callous toward people that I love. In other words, I was callous not because I don't care about people, but because I do. And I won't pretend that Jesus would have said exactly the things I did, but I do think He would have also been blunt and even rude - like He was when the Pharisees were dicks to marginalized people - and I am perfectly confident that on the whole I did the right thing and He's proud of me. I won't apologize for objecting to objectionable behavior. I can't change all the things in the Church that I would like to change, but I can and will refuse to tolerate members choosing to make it a more toxic environment than it needs to be. It did take a lot of time that I could have spent on homework, but now my effort is on record here so it can be magnified by both of the people who read my blog.
"We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord." - M. Russell Ballard
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.