My sheer existence is a stench in the nostrils of good people everywhere.


Welcome to MY world.


Roughly a decade or so back, the Mormon journal Dialogue published an article by a very liberal non-LDS writer in which. en passant, he lamented the viciousness of the FARMS Review when it reviewed a particular book.


I found his complaint amusing but revealing.  Why?  Because, as a matter of fact, we hadn’t yet reviewed the book in question.  At that point, we didn’t even have a reviewer assigned.


Such is the power of dogma.


It’s an article of faith in some circles that my friends and I are nasty and unprincipled, and that, thus, everything we do bears the mark of our depravity.  One doesn’t need to have seen our work — and, as it happens, it doesn’t need to actually exist — for the right-minded to know that it’s brutish and bad.


And the act of any one of us is the act of all.  We are a hive mind.  We are the Morg.


I’m routinely accused of acts of mean-spirited wickedness and unchristian cruelty.  Nevertheless, with depressingly amusing regularity, when I ask for specific examples of my misbehavior my request is met with confident boasts, promises, and, in the end, little or nothing.  It always ends not with a bang, but a whimper.  There have been no exceptions.


I’m not exactly biting my nails in suspense on such occasions, either.  I know with perfect assurance that my supposedly gross acts of heartless cruelty don’t exist.  They never did.


I bring this up because there’s recently been an apparently heated, even acrimonious, exchange between two Mormon friends of mine who take very different approaches, it seems, to the scriptures.


I’ve been meaning to read the back-and-forth.  I care about the issues very much, but, with the trip that I’m currently on, and the preparations for it, and the various deadlines I’ve been under, I haven’t found the time.  I haven’t read any of it, let alone participated in it.  I haven’t communicated about it with either of the two discussants.  I’ve wanted to give it careful attention, not just a cursory glance.


Now, though, I find that I’m being condemned for my tone and my behavior in connection with this debate by those who favor the man who, I suppose, might be considered the more “liberal” of the two participants in the debate — both of whom, as I say, I consider to be friends.


“It seems,” J. Golden Kimball once quipped, “that everything that ever happens around here they blame on either me or Mae West.”


I know the feeling.


Posted from Florence, Italy