Pseudonyms Rule, Names Drool

Judith Donath, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has put forward an argument that we have been making for years: pseudonyms are better for online communication.  The Harvard Magazine article discusses the argument in more depth, but basically suggests that anonymity and pseudonymity are two different things.According to her new book, she, "contends that well-managed pseudonyms can strengthen online communities, an idea that contradicts the conventional wisdom tha … [Read more...]

The Aspirational Language of Mormonism

This post is a guest submission from Isaac Black.Recent events in Mormondom, including the excommunication of Kate Kelly and the Church's blog posts on controversial topics like the priesthood ban and polygamy, have prompted a higher scrutiny of seemingly basic terms of the religion. What defines apostasy? What precisely is priesthood? Even, what is doctrine? It is my observation that Mormon vocabulary, rather than being strict and legalistic as some of the more textually inclined among us … [Read more...]

An Apologetics of Care

When people leave the church over intellectual issues, I believe that part of what this means is that people leave the church because of the feelings associated with confronting these issues. In other words, when a LDS learns that Joseph Smith engaged in polyandry, for instance, it usually occurs in a context that induces fear and loneliness, which eventually leads to frustration and anger. Such a person may not be literally alone when he or she discovers Joseph’s polyandry (although he may be; f … [Read more...]

Announcement: THE FIFTH BIENNIAL FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE CONFERENCE

University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA February 27-28, 2015The Faith and Knowledge Conference was established in 2007 to bring together LDS graduate students in religious studies and related disciplines in order to explore the interactions between religious faith and scholarship. During the past four conferences, students have shared their experiences in the church and the academy and the new ideas that have emerged as a result. Papers and conversations provided thought-provoking … [Read more...]

Who’s the Prophet Here?

There are many different views about the validity and effectiveness of Kate Kelly and Ordain Women's campaign to seek redress for long-held institutional sexism, and I think it will take us a long time yet to fully understand what really happened this week as many people stopped to reflect more deeply about the state and future of Mormonism and whether that Mormonism is something they recognize or even want to belong to.But for the moment, I just wanted to note the irony from a sociological … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on a Recent Excommunication

We recently received this communication from a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous.It’s been a difficult week, but now I'm just sort of irritated all around.I'm irritated with the Church for treating Kate Kelly as an existential threat rather than a nuisance. Kicking her out polarizes the situation, makes everyone wary and fearful of sharing honest opinions (except for those who are confident that the Church can do no wrong), alienates members, scares off investigators, and makes an e … [Read more...]

Obedience and Speaking for God

Last week in my ward, the Sunday school lesson included 1 Samuel 15, where Samuel speaks for God and tells Saul, “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”So Saul kills the Amalekites, except the king, while sparing the best animals, ostensibly for sacrifice. Then, as is well known, Samuel tells him that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. … [Read more...]

Unanswered Questions about the Priesthood

As President Uchtdorf said in his in general conference talk last October, “Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information.”[i] And as Managing Director of Public Affairs for the Church, Michael Otterson, stated last month, “I suppose we do not know all the reasons why Christ did not ordain women as apostles, either in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, or when the Church was restored in modern times.”[ii]It’s important to recognize how much we don’t know, an … [Read more...]


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