Why did I quite Times and Seasons? I was tempted to tell you that it was none of your business, by which I would have meant that I was too lazy to explain, but then I remembered I’d sent a long email to my former cobloggers a few months ago that was maybe good enough.
The context is that my former coblogger Kaimipono Wenger said something I disagreed with, implying that Church teachings on the family were tantamount to racism, and in my courteous way I gently remonstrated with him in the comments by calling him a low-down skunk, a boil on a spavined horse’s ass, and someone I wouldn’t cross the street to spit on if he were dying of thirst.
A ruckus naturally ensured behind the scenes on the blog and I ended up sending this email. Its a little out of date and I don’t know if I still stand by every single thing in it, but its good enough. Everything here is my characterization: you can take it with a grain of salt if you like.
Update: edited to remove confidences.
APOLOGIA PRO BLOGORRHEA SUA
Here’s my case. It’s mostly serious but it does include a few flippancies and irrelevancies. I realize the case would be stronger without them, but
I’d rather laugh on the gallows than long-face my way to liberty.I ask you to read the whole thing before you make up your mind.
1. I cuss that what I am about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2. Call me Ishmael.
3. On April 29, 2008, KW posted about a conversation he had with his young sons. This is the “D” post. http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4525#more-4525
4. In the D post, KW told about laughing with his kids at the longstanding Church doctrine of the male priesthood. The doctrine was described as “dumb” and “discriminatory.”
5. In the comments, http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4525#comment-261306 , KW raised three questions
Why is it that women aren’t allowed to be prophet? Why is it that Blacks weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood? Why is it that same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry in the church?
6. His answer to the first question was “its patriarchal bullshit.”
7. After I kicked up a fuss on the list, this was changed to “its patriarchal nonsense.”
8. KW did not answer the other two questions at that time.
9. In the D post thread cobloggers Matt Evans and (in one comment) Frank McIntyre, opposed KW’s characterizations of the priesthood.
10. Cobloggers Julie Smith and Ardis Parshall also participated in the comments but did not oppose KW’s characterizations of the priesthood.
11. No other cobloggers participated in the thread.
12. On the back list I asked KW to remove the D post or, failing that, for the list to vote to remove the D post.
13. KW did not remove the post.
14-15. . . . [a discussion of my former coblogger’s behind-the-scene’s responses to the D post]
16. I lost the vote to remove the D post by a big majority.
17-20. . . . [boring]
21. Y’alls reaction was a collective shrug, as some of you would be willing to admit.
22. Any “sport” where the entrants “perform” “routines” is not a sport?
23. It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.
24. After the spectacular failure of the D post vote, I decided to resign. My wife and a few friends convinced me that I should think it over for a couple of weeks before doing anything.
25. Also, resigning would be stooping, and I never stoop. Also, the terrorists would win. So I did not immediately resign.
26. I did not tell anyone on the list that I was planning to resign. In the past cobloggers have used resignation threats to create drama and sympathy and to get their way and I have resolved not to do this.
27-29. . . . [a bunch of pointless drama. Long story short, I didn’t resign pending a discussion about some new blog rules which I hoped I could influence to resolve my concerns.]
30. About this time I came across a Snarkernackle post alleging that a prominent bloggernacle blogger was also New Order Mormon who hung out at an ex-Mormon/New Order Mormon site. I followed one of the links, skimmed it, was disturbed, and sent an email to the list saying that I would have a problem if any of us cobloggers were “Cafeteria Mormon,” the individual at the link.
31. Kaimipono Wenger told me it was him.
32. . . .
33. Given a lack of time, and a comment from someone I consulted on the matter, I figured I’d misread the link and dropped the subject. My intention was to read the Cafeteria Mormon’s postings at some later point when I had the chance. But I didn’t get around to it until very recently.
34. It is better to crawl a mile on broken glass then to crawl it twain.
35. My Martian Rose presentation was awesome, FYI. Check out the sidebar link to a photo. It’s the only one where I don’t look like Paul Potts’ body double.
36. In June we got into another long discussion concerning a posted remark that “you probably do not have to accept Mormonism and its ordinances in this life or the next for Christ to save you and perhaps for God to exalt you.”
37-39. . . . [description of the discussions]
40. Given the opportunity presented by this new discussion, I pushed aggressively for some resolution to address my concerns. . . . I felt at the time that if I had not been pushing hard nothing would have been done. After reviewing the relevant comments threads, I still feel that way.
41. I caught a lot of flack in the resulting discussion. I was accused of being “orthodoxy police,” of trying to “exercise a heckler’s veto,” of “depicting Jehovah as a pagan storm god,” and of being a hockey-style “doctrinal enforcer.” [Ed. note–yeah, baby. Also, it should be noted that these were not universal concerns. I leave them up not because they were representative, but because they were awesome. If you’re going to be argumentative, be it in style].
42. We eventually got what I thought was a very good bolog norm against, among other things, using T&S as a platform for criticism. But I was ultimately dismayed to discover that the norm was as much aimed at me as at anyone else. Apparently some of my cobloggers thought I shouldn’t be allowed to post or link much on gay marriage politics or abortion.
43. I thought and still think that this was unjust and uncalled for, but decided to stomach it in the interests of the blog. A new norm, I thought, would go over better if it had more than one apparent target.
44. I am bearded like a pard. I am also full of strange oaths. See #1.
45. I wanted to make sure the D post was unacceptable under the new norm. A blog where it was acceptable was a blog from which I would resign.
46-61. . . . [More backlist debate. I eventually let the matter drop after receiving some private assurances]
. . . . [Pointless, tedious drama about the ratio of out pro- Prop. 8 posts to our anti- Prop. 8 posts]
62. Clouds are pretty.
63. Three days ago I remembered that I had been planning to look a little more at KW’s “Cafeteria Mormon” links. I did a quick search at the site and was very disturbed by what I saw.
64. Two days ago I put up a critical post on a recent decision holding that a fertility doctor was required to help impregnate a lesbian woman over the doctor’s religious objections. http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4733#more-4733
65. In the comments Julie Smith hypothesized a comparison between race discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. ECS suggested that opposition to same-sex marriage was tantamount to opposition to “miscegenation.” http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4733#comment-272263
66. I said it was “wicked and offensive” to make that equation (later in the day, but I believe before we had our blog contretemps, I struck out wicked and replaced it with wrong). I also indicated that I would remove further attempts to equate the Church’s ecclesiastical/moral view on non-traditional sexual relations with racism. In my mind the equation is little more than name-calling and is wholly inappropriate coming from church members.
67. Despite my statement that further comments on those lines were not welcome, KW put up a defense of ECS’ comment. He said that “the comparison was an apt one for many observers,” compared the fertility doctor to a Jim Crow doctor, and said that relying on revelation wasn’t enough because our prophets and apostles had also been Jim Crow supporters.
68. I moderated the comment and notified KW.
69. He then posted a series of arguments for and against comparing the Church’s moral stand with racism. The arguments he offered “against” were weak and, unlike with the “for” arguments, he provided counterarguments. For instance, he said that the alleged empirical bases for distinguishing sexual morality from racism were of the kind that a prior T&S post had tried to explode. http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4734#more-4734
70. I lost my temper and said things I regret, though in degree, not in kind. For instance, I wish I had said “wrong and offensive” instead of “wicked and vile” and at Neil Penzo’s urging I updated that comment to include an apology for the language used.
71-72. . . . [More back list drama]
73. That same day I took a more in-depth look at KW’s postings as “Cafeteria Mormon” at the ex-Mormon/DAMU site www.thefoyer.org
74. A cafeteria Mormon is one who picks and chooses among Church doctrines, revelations, and practices without a feeling of guilt or “Lord, help thou mine unbelief.”
75. The purpose of www.thefoyer.org is to “provide a place for open, honest, robust discussion on Mormonism from the viewpoint of disaffected Mormons and post-Mormons.” Reading the discussions there is not pleasant.
76. I set down to read KW’s postings in detail. http://www.thefoyer.org/search.php This moderated the very negative impression I had from the day before .
77. The impression that emerged after wading through it all was of a man who did not believe in Mormonism but thought there was a fair amount of good in it and was dedicated to keeping his family together by going to church without allowing his children to be contaminated by the bad, Mormon doctrines and practices.
78. In short, KW aka “Cafeteria Mormon” is a New Order Mormon.
79. A New Order Mormon is one who no longer believes most (or all) of the specific dogma or doctrines of the LDS Church but who wants to maintain membership. See, for instance, the definition of the New Order Mormon “middle way” here — http://www.newordermormon.org/ — and KW’s defense of his “middle way”here — http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=56782#56782.
80. As I said, I came away with a more favorable impression than the one I went in with. KW spent a lot of time defending Mormons and the Church on various points where he thought the denizens of the site had gone too far.
81. I do not now, nor have I ever, had a dog named Checkers.
82. Nonetheless, there were several KW/Cafeteria Mormon postings that were very disturbing.
83. In this post, KW agreed that the Church’s commandments on sex should be ignored because Church leaders are not young and virile. http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=56422#56422
84. In this post, KW encouraged a man who wanted to “de-program” his kids with “anti-FHEs”. http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=50456#50456
85. In this post, KW encouraged a man who doesn’t believe in the gospel but had been called to be first counselor in the bishopric. KW advised him to accept the calling and gave him suggestions about how he could keep people from finding out that he didn’t believe in any of it. These included acting as if any questions about his faith were judgmentalism and urging the questioners to be more loving and civil. “You can’t go wrong if you take every opening to be judgmental.” http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=56216#56216
86. In this post KW describes questions about Book of Mormon historicity as questions about “what a bunch of people who didn’t really exist did or didn’t say to each other 2000 years ago.” http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=56742#56742
87. In this post KW acknowledged that : “it’s also clear that more orthodox Mormons would not consider me one of them; and that, if they knew my particular belief configuration, they might try to expel me from the community,” http://www.thefoyer.org/viewtopic.php?p=48123#48123
88. In this post KW describes his cafeteria, middle-way, New Order Mormon approach to the Church:
–“Mormonism is not a sole conduit to God. And I see other, very serious problems in the faith. There are serious problems with certain Mormon truth claims. And there are both personal and structural deficiencies in the community, both at the local and global levels.”
–” there’s a lot to reject. The problematic ideas about women’s roles, gender essentialism, Women who Know, gender imbalances in the temple — that whole ball of wax.”
–” The emphasis that only one right type of family is acceptable, and the rejection of others — particularly gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgendered — who do not fit that bill.”
–” I’m happy to draw from other religion traditions, from . . . Wicca. And I look to various interpretational aids like Fowler’s Stages of Faith.” Kaimi has linked several times a goddess-pagan-feminist-Mormon blog on the sidebar.
. . . . [harrumphing and my claims of disproportionate treatment]
Our blog has recently been much more concerned with angry reactions to what looks like apostasy than with apostasy itself.
My recent reaction was angry and was excessively angry. I admit this and I apologize. However, if the blog continues in the course it is on, I will continue to react the same way, if not in the same degree. Our blog cannot hold itself out as a faithful Mormon blog while allowing bloggers to chip away at Church policies, especially if those bloggers do not have testimonies.
I have been with this blog since the beginning. I have put in a lot of time running it, posting, commenting, and keeping it going. This is where I announced the death of my daughter. This project means a lot to me. But I’m not willing to keep participating at any price.
. . . .[quixotic calls for dramatic action]