Manifesto Against “TBM”

This post isn’t a direct response to Chris’s or Enoch’s posts, but I want to touch on some of the same issues which I’ve been mulling over for the past year or so. Especially the label “TBM.” Joanna Brooks used it in her recent RD column:

“Romney is what many Mormons call a TBM–or “true-believing Mormon”—an orthodox believer and devout practitioner of the faith.”1

Contrary to Brooks, I don’t know that “many Mormons” would use that label at all. I suspect that not one in ten Mormons, active or otherwise, have even heard of it. I’m personally not a fan of it, and this manifesto is an attempt to explain why.

And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites, for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites…yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads (Alma 3:4, 13).

Come on, folks. Don’t make me crack out The Sneetches!

What is a “TBM”? I’ve seen multiple explanations. “True Believing Mormon” and “True Blue Mormon” are descriptors which seem harmless enough, perhaps even flattering. But “Truly Brainwashed Mormon” and “Truly Blind Mormon” seem closer to the intent of many who employ the acronym.

Chances are that reactions to this post will pop into your mind before you finish reading it all, since it’s so long. I hope you’ll read through the whole thing before responding. My intended tone here is not anger or outrage, and I hope I don’t sound too whiney. I understand that, in the grand scheme of things, “TBM” is low on the scale of terms to worry much about. I believe it manifests the same sort of problems I see with even worse methods of labeling, however, which is what I intend to discuss. Hear me out.

Origins

The words we use have a history, so I tried to trace the origins of this acronym. I’ve seen it attached to the story of Joseph F. Smith, who, when confronted with a pistol and asked if he was a Mormon is said to have boldly replied: “Yes siree; dyed in the wool, true blue, through and through.”2

I’m not sure this is where is really began. These newer acronyms most often spring to life in Internet conversations (LOL, OMG, BRB, etc.). The first place I can remember seeing the term was on the exmormon.org (“Recovery From Mormonism,” or “RfM”) message boards, which unfortunately purges its history, thus demolishing what I believe is its online origin. That board still leads the Google search results for the acronym. From there it seems to have spread to FLAK and MDD, and other online forums. The earliest blog reference discovered via a cursory Google search  is from July and August 2005, where it was still being employed with quotation marks, as though it was fresh. If you can find any earlier references, please  let me know.

My overall point point is that it didn’t originate in these discussions as a flattering term, nor is it employed that way there today.

Definition

In most cases, “TBM” has been used to describe “an orthodox believer and devout practitioner of the faith,” as Joanna Brooks claims, but such a believer/practitioner is generally understood to be something of a gullible fool who lacks the interest or ability to think critically, and thus does not see the obvious fact that Mormonism is ridiculous at best and downright evil at worst. A TBM is active in the Church (or “TSSC,” “the so-called church,” another acronym used in these same conversations) because the poor things don’t know any better. They don’t understand all the problems in the history of the Church. they believe in silly stuff like angels and golden plates and miracles.

The label is used most often, I believe, to invoke either pity or contempt. Take your pick, either way it’s not very nice. Many examples backing up my interpretation can be provided. You can check up on it yourself by googling the term along with “mormon” to see where it leads.

One of the more articulate explanations comes from a blogger who creatively utilized the story of Adam and Eve.3 His eisegesis labels Adam as the TBM. When offered the forbidden fruit by Lucifer, Adam issued an “instant, knee-jerk rejection,” responded with an “almost-automated thought process resembl[ing] that of a computer,”  “does not carefully ponder,” “does not engage in any dialog,” demonstrates “unquestioning and absolute obedience” to “Authority,” in this case, God. His approach is “admirable,” but would have caused disaster for the human race because it would have prevented procreation. This behavior is contrasted with Eve, the “NOM.”

Uh, oh. Another acronym.

Other Labels

“NOM” is a “New Order Mormon.” They have a website now, newordermormon.org, which may be unrelated to what Andrew was referring to. The site defines “NOM” as “those who no longer believe some (or much) of the dogma or doctrines of the LDS Church, but who want to maintain membership.” NOM Eve talked it out with Satan and advanced God’s plan, in contrast with TBM Adam, a sort of robotic pitiable fellow who stood in the way by bowing to authority. And there are even more labels springing up. We have “Open Mormons,” “Internet Mormons,” “Chapel Mormons,” “uncorrelated Mormons,” and the “DAMU,” or “Disaffected Mormon Underground.”

As the labels multiply it becomes harder to know who to call what, when. It’s hard to remember who has marked themselves as opposed to who has been marked, and what they are marking with and why. Most recently, John Dehlin had to differentiate himself from the “DAMU,” for instance.4 Websites, podcasts, message boards appear where communities who take on these labels can gather.

This is the sort of thing I was trying to articulate in my conference paper called “Google Earth Mormonism,” where I argued that the Internet offers more possibilities for us to connect, but it also presents more opportunities for us to divide.5 Even in the prehistoric years before the Internet arrived labels were cropping up. Richard Poll wrote an interesting piece comparing “Liahona Mormons” and “Iron Rod Mormons” back in 1967.6 They didn’t become acronyms, though, and we Mormons do love our acronyms!

Reactions

Despite my own interpretation of TBM as being largely negative, I also want to emphasize there are other possible reasons why people might employ such labels. There are self-applied labels and labels which are not self-applied. Some Mormons don’t view themselves as being “TBM,” but apply the label to other members. I’ve seen many former members use it to describe their pre-enlightened selves, it boosts credibility and functions as part of a larger exit narrative. Some Mormons see it as the insult it started out as. But even some Mormons who are aware that the term started out in derision might want to co-opt it. The label “Mormon” itself began as a pejorative which was subsequently co-opted by members of the Church, after all.

Other words have made a similar journey. There are “Queer Theory” courses in various schools around the country, for instance. “Jack-Mormon” traveled a path of definition from Mormon sympathizer to a Mormon who drinks or smokes, etc. “Anti-Mormon” began as a local political party! The Church based in Salt Lake City has sought to keep other groups from using the “Mormon” label, although Church leaders have also discouraged the application of “Mormon” to their own organization. So terms can transition from pejorative to acceptable and vice versa.

I don’t see “TBM” making this transition anytime soon, mostly because I don’t believe most Mormons have ever heard of it to begin with. (The fact that most Mormons are unaware of the label is more evidence in favor of my belief that it began as an otherizing, unfriendly term.) Maybe someone out there can convince me that co-opting is the best option. I’m not opposed to it in principle. I love the part in U2′s Rattle and Hum when Bono introduces their cover of “Helter Skelter” saying “this is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealin’ it back.” But at this early stage I say, why bother?

As for members of the Church, we’ve also used labels like “apostate” and “anti-Mormon” in ways which totalitize, explain, or dismiss people, to otherwise avoid meaningful interaction. I know what you are, I know what you think, I need not engage. “TBM” almost seems like a return of that favor, which brings us to the bottom line I want to discuss, which is the purpose and function of labels.

Labeling

These labels seem to be an attempt to organize and make sense of ourselves and our interactions with others. Adam was asked to name the animals, now we name each other. Maybe it’s human nature. So long as we use language we won’t be able to expunge all labels—doing so is not practical or warranted. We need words. The trouble with labels, it seems to me, is that they can slip all-too-easily into a sort of reductionism. And words have rhetorical affects on us.

This slippage is demonstrable in a discussion I recently encountered regarding multi-lingual students. Bear with me. My wife had the opportunity to teach an “ESL” class at West High last semester. ESL stands for “English as a Second Language,” but there has been debate about the propriety of that label. (For instance: many of the students already speak multiple languages, English is not their “second” language anyway.)

In debating this subject, Ruth Spack of Bentley College expresses

concern about the extent to which the linguistic and cultural labels that teachers and researchers attach to students’ identities send negative messages about and misrepresent who the students are. Words such as ‘foreign,’ ‘other,’ or ‘limited,’ for example, have the rhetorical effect of setting students apart and focusing on their deficiencies.7

The questions Spack thinks we ought to ask when thinking about labels include: who employs the label, and for what purpose. The label “TBM” seem innocuous enough on its front, sort of like the labels applied to these English-learning students, but Spack continues:

Labels that identify students by culture (e.g., ‘Chinese students’) do not capture the hybridity and complexity of students’ cultural backgrounds.8

Then Spack really brings it home:

“In my experience, students…display a wide range of linguistic and cultural behavior, depending on the number of dialects or languages they speak, the countries in which they have been educated, the type of schools they have attended, the variety of cultures they draw from, and a host ofcomplex variables such as age, gender, religion, and class. All of these factors converge to shape the student as writer and learner.”9

I’m letting Spack do the heavy lifting for me, but like the students she discusses, it seems to me that we Mormons have variety amongst our similarity. Our backgrounds, prejudices, beliefs, attitudes, and interests differ. Our approaches to Mormonism differ, and we’re trying to negotiate those differences. We might be rigid in one thing and completely loose in another. We might be ignorant of some things and knowledgeable of others.

An elderly “TBM” fellow, a real “Chapel Mormon,” in my ward blew the stereotype wide open during a Sunday School class discussion about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. He raised his hand and said something like: “That was the Mason’s signal Joseph gave at the window, it was the Mason’s cry of distress, not really a prayer.” This was the same fellow who, months before, had confused Dan Peterson as being a critic of the Church. (Dan was on the PBS “Mormons” documentary discussing Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon using a seer stone in a hat.) What do you do with him? Or what to do with me? I’m a TBM, and I’m not a TBM.

Moreover, in a Church that talks a lot about “eternal progression” perhaps we should be more attuned to the fact that moods, understandings, intensity, devotion, and other factors are not static. Perhaps the best way to prove that point is to ask you to think about yourself. You are my evidence, thank you! We want to conflate time periods, experiences, and moods with personality and religious categories. We run a significant risk, not just in regards to how we treat others, but in how we understand ourselves.

Embracing and Embodying Differences

I’m not denying that differences exist among Mormons. I’m certainly not opposing that idea that we need new and better ways to articulate or faith—Governor Huntsman is a prime example of that need, I believe, as Brooks articulated. But I am saying that labels—however inevitable they may be—can be used to otherize, or to perpetuate a “distancing and exoticizing effect” which results from the “supression of similarity.”10 This is Spack’s jargon-laced way of saying that when we focus on what makes us different, and forget or hate what makes us similar, we don’t stand together, even though we have the possibility of doing so. We mark our foreheads, or we try to mark the foreheads of others. We are not Zion.

Ironically, some of those who argue for “big tent Mormonism” actually reassert the very view of Mormonism they’d like to counter. In many arguments for inclusion, “TBM” and other labels are employed, which only reifies the very boundaries people wish to transcend. “Fitting in” falls victim to the same “us vs. them” perspective which gave them a sense of alienation in the first place. The need to fit in deserves consideration. Maybe we ultimately need the labels in order to simplify the way to easily find others with whom we can peaceably agree. We all seek to be understood. In the process of doing so, we run the risk of rejecting others, hurting others, even if we’ve felt hurt or rejected. So I appreciated much of what Chris H. said in his post yesterday. I thought Enoch raised interesting points too. But at the same time I worry that these are fresh examples of walls (however small), as opposed to bridges.

So call me a TBM. Call the people in my ward and stake a TBM, or those people “out there” whom neither of us really know. Your “DH” is a TBM, or maybe your “FIL” is a TBM. Your “HT’s” are probably TBM’s, too. Call your former self a TBM, or your current self. When you do so, please remember that all of us are more than the labels we use. Please remember that TBM grew out of animosity and not fellowship. Maybe you’ll be able to let that label go.

To all the “TBM’s” out there: it seems to me that a label can best be broken by those who simply don’t fit the categories, by those who simply are complex selves, by those who come to be known as complex sisters or brothers. Consider the labels you use, too.

Conclusion

I recognize that we’ll still be labeling people, even after this monumental post has been forgotten in a few days. If history is a reliable guide, the labels and motives behind them will keep shifting. New ones will emerge and old ones will recede from memory.

As for “TBM,” it probably isn’t going to disappear simply because I put together a long-winded blog post about it. But I hope my thoughts will encourage a few people to take a closer look at the way we look at people. Look at the way we sum them up in our minds in our sometimes-admirable quest for closure. Perhaps more importantly, this conversation fits into the wider dialog about what it means to be Mormon, and who gets to decide that matter. The trouble with labels is that they can more often be used to shut down such a conversation, they can be a shortcut to a conclusion rather than an effort at understanding or reconciliation.

I hope, like Spack writes, “that we can use language that emphasizes the numerous strengths [Mormons] bring to the [Church] and allow [people] to define and construct their own identities.”11 I recognize that you, like Spack’s opponent, might see all of this as pie-in-the-sky foolishness, because “getting to know [people] on an individual level is an impossible place to begin.”12

Like Spack, I believe it is most often the right place to begin.

 

Footnotes:

1. Joanna Brooks, “Why is Huntsman’s Mormonism ‘Tough to Define’?“, religiondispatches.org, 13 May 2011. While Brooks was focusing on finding a way to explain John Huntsman’s ambiguous answer to the question whether he is Mormon or not, this post is not intended to enter that particular discussion.

2. See “Chapter 12: Valiant in the Cause of Christ,Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998).

3. Andrew, “Adam and Eve: the First TBM & NOM,” mormonmatters.org, 29 June 2009.

4. See here and here. This isn’t a new move for John. See his post “My ‘Wicked’ LDS Journey Part 11: ‘For Good’,” johndehlin.com, 29 December 2006.

5. See “Why We Blog: Google Earth Mormonism,” mormontimes.com, 25 February 2011.

6. Richard D. Poll, “What the Church Means to People Like Me,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2:4 (Winter 1967): 107–17.

7. Ruth Spack, “Comments on Ruth Spack’s ‘The rhetorical Construction of Multilingual Students’: Categorizing, Classifying, Labeling: A Fundamental Cognitive Process. The Author Responds to Nelson,” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 4 (Winter, 1998), 732.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid., 734.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 732.

12. Ibid., 734.

  • http://www.smallsimple.wordpress.com Eric Nielson

    There is a young sister in our ward who is a recent graduate of BYU who wears a light blue t-shirt with dark blue letters that say ‘TBM – True Believing Mormon’ or something to that effect. She knows there is a negative conotation to this, and glories in it. I think there is something about many Mormons that delight in being persecuted for the faith.

  • http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com Dave

    Wow. Of all the things people have called mainstream Mormons over the years, TBM (whether seems as true blue or true believing) is about the tamest.

    And what do mainstream Mormons call those who are marginal Mormons or who were once Mormon but are no longer? Apostates. The insider term “Korihor” is often applied to such people. “Tool of Satan” is another reference often heard. Mainstream Mormons do their fair share of ugly labeling. “Lamanites,” not Native Americans. “Gentiles,” not Christians. I just think we as mainstream Mormons are not ones to complain about labeling.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Eric, would she like a TBML shirt?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Dave, I am an active Mormon…but not a mainstream Mormon. We are not defending those who argue that anyone out of the mainstream is a apostate. In fact FPR has actively fought against M*-types on this.

    This is obviously aimed at the Mormon Internet community.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Dave, I agree that Mormons have been called some bad names, and we’ve called others some bad names. Pointing that fact out doesn’t overturn what I intend this post to do, which is to call attention to a relatively new term, and use the term to think more broadly about the labels we use. It isn’t just about name-calling, I believe we ought to think about who is using the label, why it is used, and what affects that usage has on our community.

    You note that TBM is pretty tame, comparatively. That’s actually part of why I see “TBM” as somewhat insidious. It’s a sort of laughing-up-the-sleeve way of labeling the deluded, typically done by former members or even current members who smile at you in Church and then laugh at you later online with their other friends. If you’re not ‘in the know’ the label will likely fly right past you. The history of the term and the way it’s generally used belies its seemingly harmless nature, in my view.

    You bring up labels Mormons have used like “Korihor,” “apostate,” etc. Take a closer look at my post, especially the paragraph prior to the section called “Labeling,” where I anticipated this aspect of the problem:

    As for members of the Church, we’ve also used labels like “apostate” and “anti-Mormon” in ways which totalitize, explain, or dismiss people, to otherwise avoid meaningful interaction. I know what you are, I know what you think, I need not engage. “TBM” almost seems like a return of that favor…

    So while this post focused specifically on “TBM,” I didn’t overlook the fact that Mormons have also used other labels in destructive ways. I hope you will take some time to think more about why the label bothers me. Consider again what I say about labels in general, because this post is intended to get people thinking about that broader question. I’m generally a pretty thick-skinned person, not particularly reactionary and not particularly interested in emphasizing personal persecution narratives. So I hope you’ll read again and see if there is something to be redeemed in what I wrote.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Dave, to put it more plainly, it seems your response is a sort of tu quoque approach. I think your response fails because I already pointed out in the post that the phenomenon cuts both ways. if you’d rather not slog though the post again maybe you can take a moment to justify the introduction of the term “TBM” into the lexicon, explain why the term is useful, why we ought to be fine with seeing this particular method of division grow up, as others have before it.

    I extend that invitation to anyone else who reads this as well. (I included a few examples of such arguments in the post, like Eric Neilson’s example of the girl who embraces the term.)

  • http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com Dave

    “M*-types” … that’s an interesting term to use in a discussion about the unfairnessn of the term TBM. I suppose there are FPR-types and BCC-types and FMH-types. Collectively, are we all Bloggernacle-types?

    BHodges, I agree that those who use the term TBM in online forums do not do so with affection. It would be nice if they just used the term “Mormon.” It would be nice if Mormons just used the bland term “former Mormon” to refer to those who have left the Church. It would be nice if journalists followed the request of LDS Public Affairs and used the full name of the Church, followed by the shortened form “the Church of Jesus Christ,” rather than “the LDS Church” or “the Mormon Church.” And so forth — there is an endless list starting with the words, “It would be nice if …”

    I know you are just trying to alert Bloggernacle-types to the insidious dangers and questionable origins of the new term TBM. But raising the larger issue of labelling and relating other examples makes the specific issue you are concerned with seem rather mild by comparison.

  • http://improvementera.com David Tayman

    So does that mean TBM is a term generally only used by Internet Mormons? ;)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Dave, the only place in this post where “it would be nice” appears is in your comment, although my conclusion above speaks directly to that sentiment. :)

    DT- haha!

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    “M*-types” … that’s an interesting term to use in a discussion about the unfairnessn of the term TBM. I suppose there are FPR-types and BCC-types and FMH-types. Collectively, are we all Bloggernacle-types?

    Oh, Dave. Don’t mess with me today. I am not opposed to labels. I think the are useful.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I should point out that Chris and I have some similarities and some differences in how we look at this issue, and Enoch has also contributed to the discussion. This trilogy of posts isn’t univocal.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Good morning, Blair.

  • Manuel

    First, I have to admit I did not take the time to read this whole post (I know, shame on me), but as usual wanted to comment on my partial understanding of it. :) So take it for what it is.

    I find it very interesting and informative to know the origins of terms used to categorize groups of people, whether to glorify them or demean them. And in that respect, I really think this post is great and I will come back when time permits to read it throroughly and also learn even more from the footnote references.

    Having said that, I am not sure I agree with the tone or the intent (which I may be wrong at trying to interpret at this point) of the post.

    Trying to control or getting excessively worked up over semantics used to describe a perceived image (even a stereotype if you may) is useless in my opinion.

    Since coming to Utah, I have been categorized endlessly by the people here.

    Within the church, I have been referred to with the following and many other terms (these are the ones that stick out as I try to remember):
    “convert,”
    “he didn’t grow up in the church,”
    “returned missionary,”
    “Lamanite,”
    “from the subservient tribe of Manasseh,”
    “not sealed in the temple to an eternal family,”
    “Mexican,”
    “one who doesn’t work hard (due to my nationality),”
    “one who deserves the government and the trials of my country (a sign that people of my nationality are still a cursed people as described in the Book of Mormon).”

    oh, and I cannot forget my all time favorite:
    “a hybrid which can potentially contaminate the divinely chosen gene pool of the chosen people of God in the last dispensation.”

    That last one was uttered by the father of one of my past girlfriends. He was a stake president at the time and a True Believing Mormon (tongue in cheek).

    People create labels because of what they perceive, what they have been taught, the amount of exposure they have had with what they try to categorize, and their own interpretation and opinions of the combination of all of the above.

    I could spend a lifetime throwing fits on how I have been categorized by the members of the church here in Utah. Or I can take an alternative approach.

    The approach I have chosen is to be who I am and not bother about how people categorize me. I break people’s stupid stereotypes all the time, and it is my pleasure; because ultimately, actions speak louder than words, and my life is too short for me to try spending it trying to control semantics used by those with a limited understanding of who I am.

    Frankly, after the things I have been called by members of the church, it seems ridiculous and immature to me that someone gets offended or worked up over being called TBM, especially when some people choose to categorize themselves that way (see other posts).

    Having said that, the historicity of terms and denominations is very interesting to me, and I applaud any efforts into shedding light on how they came about.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Manuel, I encourage you to read the whole post, even though it is, as you say, a “useless” discussion. (Which is weird because you still chime in despite the futility!)

    Your statement that it seems “ridiculous and immature” to you that a person would get worked up over this issue is especially interesting to me because it helps prove the point of my post. You’ve basically displayed precisely the sort of exchange that this post opposes. Rather than engaging me, you quit reading and then issued a few labels my way. As I pointed out toward the end of the post:

    “The trouble with labels is that they can more often be used to shut down such a conversation, they can be a shortcut to a conclusion rather than an effort at understanding or reconciliation.

    In a way, I think you’ve inadvertently helped prove that point, I believe.

  • Manuel

    BHodges,

    You are quickly denouncing my actions when it appears you have done the same. Did you read my whole response?

    I addressed very specifically both: I will read the whole post, I did not call the whole post useless, and I explained why I still “chimed in.”

    hmm… so maybe I am not the only one commenting without reading fully? The differenc is I openly acknowledged it and openly warned the readers of my response.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Manuel, check my comment again, I added to it while you were responding.

  • Manuel

    I did. But again, I clearly stated where I am coming from. I have to work now, but I will take the appropriate time to read it and perhaps chime in further.

    I am glad I could prove your point at this point, because it proves my very own point that things are labeled in as much as they are understood.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    At this point I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say, so I look forward to your response to the post once you’ve read it, should you take the time. :)

  • Duckie

    I have categorized myself as a “Joseph Smith Mormon” or a “JS Mormon”. Labels are an interesting thing, and it is hard to tell when labels are being imposed, or have been embraced. I agree with others that in the grand scheme of Church history “TBM” is beyond tame, but I know I don’t care to be referred to in other people’s terms so I can see how it may be bothersome.

  • http://www.lehislibrary.wordpress.com James

    How about this for a new label: FAIRmomon.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    How about AIRjordan?

  • http://www.linescratchers.com/ Syphax

    I resist the use of labels and so do ALL my fellow Linescratchers.

  • Clark

    Dave: And what do mainstream Mormons call those who are marginal Mormons or who were once Mormon but are no longer? Apostates.

    Got to admit I’ve never heard that. I’ve only heard that applied to people who join splinter groups – especially polygamist ones. I’ve heard it occasionally to people who go from believer into actively working against the Church but even there it’s somewhat rare.

  • Duckie

    Clark I am glad the people you are surrounded by don’t generally use the term, but I myself have been called an Apostate and I neither actively work against the Church, nor practice polygamy (I will get to that in a minute). The term is still alive and doing well. It is a favorite venom spewing activity by “mainstream” Mormons (or whatever you guys want to be called) Not to get into semantics, but every group except the Church of Christ (which I believe may be defunct at this point, I am unsure) is a splinter group. Back to polygamy for a second, there is nothing inherently wrong with polygamy. I believe that at the very least this country is not ready for it and I abhor forced marriages and child brides but other than that I will never understand why people treat polygamy like it is a dirty word. It is a part of our shared history and legacy.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Let’s keep things on the topic of labels, and on “TBM.” Polygamy, etc. is a bit away from where I want this one to go.

    Also, if someone wants to write a manifesto against “apostate” as a label, feel free! I tip-toed around it in my review of Shawn McCraney’s book.

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=21&num=2&id=774#_ednref19

  • Vin

    The fb forum I participate in regularly uses labels like TBM. I think they’re unfortunately often necessary for the sake of brevity. Anyway, while I’ve seen TBM used pejoratively, my understanding is that it is not inherently pejorative, and in fact I perceive that in most instances its use doesn’t actually cast judgment at least in the aforementioned fb forum of agnostics/non-traditional/mostly-traditional Mormons.

  • Vin

    Great trio of posts, btw. I think you’ve got something special here.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    I’m going to carefully sidestep much of the comment discussion here…

    Hmm,

    One thing I will say is that, as another commenter mentioned (oops, soo much for sidestepping), TBM is a rather innocuous term. Blair mentions this point as part of its insidiousness — a “laughing up the sleeve” that if you aren’t “in the know,” you can unwittingly let the label fly right past you.

    I don’t really quite agree. I mean, I think that any time you’re comparing something that is subtle to something overt, then what is overt will have a greater potential to stay. “Anti-Mormon” has real negative staying power as a label because it is overt. TBM’s negatives are not overt, so it’s possible that even the people who should be “in the know” are not as “in the know” as they think, and the subtle connotations could change.

    I say this all because I think that something like TBM could more conceivably be coopted for this reason. Same with “Mormon” — there isn’t a whole lot of deep overt meaning there to linger.

    (IB someone who actually knows anything about linguistics rips me to shreds here.)

    I guess what I’m getting at is a different point entirely. I think that if you want to discourage the usage of TBM (or labels in general), then you’re going to have to argue against a concept of orthodoxy or standardized church beliefs to begin with. I know that Dave has *basically* done so in the past: see his post “We’re All Middle-Way Mormons.”

    But I think that case is overstated. As much as we like to say that every Mormon has their own cafeteria choices, that a “pragmatic approach to doctrine and practiced is so ingrained in the LDS approach to religion that…we don’t even notice the adjustments and cafeteria choices we often make,” (which could,and probably are nevertheless true), I think if we asked (insert however many number of members to make it a representative sample) what they sincerely would call the things the LDS church officially teaches, then there would be an incredibly high level of uniformity across the spectrum. (This is an idea that Bruce N. — yes, one of those “M* types” — raised kinda sorta here and definitely here)

    In fact, if we want to conduct the super-scientific experiment, here are those terms:

    You spend 10 minutes and write down things that ‘the LDS Church officially teaches’ and so do I. Then we assume everythings else is open to at least some level of interpretation and we’d probably have a 80-90+% match on our first try if you are honestly sincerely trying to not undermine it.

    Certainly, we would find as well that there’s a lot of stuff left for interpretation (which could be said to be what Dave thinks everyone is “middle-way” over), but there’d be a lot of stuff that is what the LDS church officially teaches. And more importantly, we’d be able to mutually agree upon a great amount of these items without any discussion.

    From here, we have a real basis to talk about people being TBM, or NOM, or whatever else. Because even if we recognize there is a lot of non-essential and peripheral disagreement and difference in belief, we can still recognize that some difference are notable, at least from an LDS standpoint.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Thanks Vin. To the extent that TBM is used to denote the “good Mormons” as opposed to the “bad ones” I would object to it on many of the same grounds.

  • Vin

    Well, if I were to use the term TBM, for instance, it wouldn’t carry with it a connotation of “good Mormon” or “bad, gullible Mormon”. I’d use it to describe a traditional, mainstream, general believing LDS person (no judgment on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing). Obviously labels are limited and limiting, but they can be helpful at times.

    Furthermore, I think the meaning of labels heavily depends on *the person applying them*. For instance, although I am not very “TBM” myself, I hold no hostility or superiority towards “TBMs” and don’t believe them to necessarily be less intelligent or more gullible than I, hence, the term is not pejorative coming from me.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Vin, what do you make of the indisputable fact that TBM can also stand for “tremendous bowel movement”? :o

  • Vin

    Hmm, well I imagine a Venn diagram with one circle representing the realm where I might use TBM for Mormonism and another circle representing the realm where I might use TBM for bowel movement, and I’m straining to find the place where they might overlap :D Maybe we should ask New Order Mormons how they discuss the National Organization for Marriage…

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Andrew S.:

    TBM’s negatives are not overt, so it’s possible that even the people who should be “in the know” are not as “in the know” as they think, and the subtle connotations could change.

    That’s an interesting argument, and it may speak well to the desires of those who want to coopt the term and use it in a positive way–again, like “queer” and “Mormon” and other terms. Reminds me of the Simpsons episode “Homer Phobia:

    Homer: They ruined all our best names like Bruce and Lance and Julian. Those were the toughest names we had! Now they’re just…

    John: Queer?

    Homer: Yeah, and that’s another thing! I resent you people using that word. That’s our word for making fun of you! We need it!

    Even then, though, it would be embraced as a term to differentiate from those bad little non-TBMs out there, which again, I would discourage on much the same grounds.

    I say this all because I think that something like TBM could more conceivably be coopted for this reason. Same with “Mormon” — there isn’t a whole lot of deep overt meaning there to linger.

    Since multiple comments have brought this point up it seems I wasn’t clear enough in the OP, because I had intended to acknowledge this already. :S

    you’re going to have to argue against a concept of orthodoxy or standardized church beliefs to begin with.

    I don’t currently agree with that. It seems to assume that we can’t look at people, love or appreciate them, without at the same time condemning or rejecting them for ideas which we don’t agree with. I don’t think that is necessarily the case. I can think of circumstances where a group of people who believe differently on some things, agree on other things, get along sometimes, don’t get along other times, etc. My own family, for example.

    but there’d be a lot of stuff that is what the LDS church officially teaches. And more importantly, we’d be able to mutually agree upon a great amount of these items without any discussion.

    Right, that would be a fascinating experiment. As I noted in the OP:

    Perhaps more importantly, this conversation fits into the wider dialog about what it means to be Mormon, and who gets to decide that matter. The trouble with labels is that they can more often be used to shut down such a conversation, they can be a shortcut to a conclusion rather than an effort at understanding or reconciliation.

    Interestingly, you point out that this is precisely where such an experiment would lead: to a better ability to label each other:

    From here, we have a real basis to talk about people being TBM, or NOM, or whatever else.

  • Clark

    Duckie (24) I think it pretty obvious why polygamy is so controversial – especially because of the large apostate movements in the early 20th century. However I think it’s one of those terms that depends a lot upon how you talk about it. But yeah, it makes most Mormons uncomfortable. Even me. And I agree that technically from a Mormon perspective all the splinter groups are apostate. Based upon the meaning of the term. Doesn’t mean we go talking to other restoration groups and calling them apostate. But under the technical meaning of the term we think they are and they think we are.

    BHodges, I have to confess you’ve convinced me not to use TBM even though I have in the past. It had always seemed pretty innocuous to me. And I agree with Eric (1) noting that the use sometimes is precisely because it has been applied to mainstream members by those looking at them disparaging. Although I vaguely remember both Hinkley and Benson self-applying it back in the early 90′s and 80′s. (Don’t quote me on that – I’d have to check to be sure)

    I still think it a relatively innocuous term but I 100% agree that we shouldn’t be creating labels of belief within the community. Even active/inactive can be problematic and unhelpful at times. All that said, I’m still pretty sympathetic with Manuel (13) regarding labels. Ideally we should all primarily be individuals that transcend any label. I’m sure I’m labeled all the time. The difference is that I don’t particular care. And that should be the ideal. However I think in terms of our response to others we should be living the higher law, as it were, if only because we understand how this does hurt those who are weak in faith. But let’s not get too worked up over it in others.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Thanks Clark. :)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Funny enough, I’ll bet Orson Scott Card saw Joanna Brooks’s column too:

    http://www.mormontimes.com/article/20896/Defining-declaring-our-faith

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 33:

    BHodges,

    Even then, though, it would be embraced as a term to differentiate from those bad little non-TBMs out there, which again, I would discourage on much the same grounds.

    For whatever it’s worth, there will be differentiation. Especially if we’re talking about a religion where beliefs (to some extent) matter. And that’s really what we’re getting at when we’re making a differentiation here.

    I don’t currently agree with that. It seems to assume that we can’t look at people, love or appreciate them, without at the same time condemning or rejecting them for ideas which we don’t agree with. I don’t think that is necessarily the case. I can think of circumstances where a group of people who believe differently on some things, agree on other things, get along sometimes, don’t get along other times, etc. My own family, for example.

    Who said anything about condemnation or rejection? All I’m saying is that when you think of circumstances where “a group of people…believe differently on some things,” you first have to acknowledge that a group of people believe differently on some things.

    If that is the case, you can start to make all sorts of comparisons. Why does this group believe differently? Which group is in line with what the church officially teaches? (Does it matter?) etc.,

    You can make these comparisons (of which labels would all be helpful here) without condemning or rejecting. You can say, “This person believes what the church officially teaches” (that is, is a TBM) without condemning or rejecting him, or someone who does not believe what the church officially teaches.

    I guess what I would say is that labels can be used descriptively. The fact that we have labels to describe people’s beliefs does not necessarily say anything about what else we do with those labels or the people who are labeled. That we label some people one way does not necessarily mean we shut down a conversation of what it means to be Mormon, and who gets to decide. They simply give us working terms with which to proceed.

    Maybe we challenge certain definitions about the current labels. But in doing so, we don’t get rid of all labels. We seek more accurate labels.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    For whatever it’s worth, there will be differentiation. Especially if we’re talking about a religion where beliefs (to some extent) matter. And that’s really what we’re getting at when we’re making a differentiation here….Maybe we challenge certain definitions about the current labels. But in doing so, we don’t get rid of all labels. We seek more accurate labels.

    To be clear, this isn’t a missive against labels in general. See the part in the OP which says “I recognize that we’ll still be labeling people, even after this monumental post has been forgotten in a few days.” And further: I hope, like Spack writes, “that we can use language that emphasizes the numerous strengths [Mormons] bring to the [Church] and allow [people] to define and construct their own identities.”

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    Two things:

    Andrew S. (#28): You asked anyone who knows anything about linguistics to rip you to shreds. Well, as a linguist (a sociolinguist, no less, so this really is something i know about), no shredding here, but a redirection.

    You’re right that TBM could be co-opted into something positive. However, this isn’t because it’s a (semi-)covert label—for a parallel case, consider queer, which has been co-opted and certainly wasn’t at all covert.

    In actual fact, covert labels tend to have more power than overt labels, precisely because they’re harder to pin down and therefore harder to counter.

    On the original post: You mentioned the origin of TBM, and your attempts to try to find the source of it. No concrete answers for you here, but i first ran into TBM (in both its positive and negative connotations) on alt/soc.religion.mormon on USENET. I can’t give you a properly cited date range (though i stopped participating on those fora in 2007), but i’m pretty certain that my experience with it predates the existence of soc.religion.mormon, which began in 1997(?), and i started reading alt.religion.mormon in 1994, when that group began. (I hadn’t been part of the alt.religion.* community before then, so i can’t speak to any previous use—it was a historical accident that i first started on USENET right at the same time as a.r.m. started up.)

    However, it was pretty clear from the start that those who used it had been using it for a while, and they didn’t see it as something that needed to be explained—so this term has actually been around for quite a while.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Very interesting, Dave. Another friend of mine found TBM being employed on an email list on yahoo as far back as 2001. It may very well be the case that it originated in the pre-bloggernacle world, I believe it.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    But nothing before the bloggernacle really counts…except for my marriage and the birth of my children.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    and the restoration and the beatles

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Maybe the Beatles….and the publication of A Theory of Justice.

  • Paula

    I have always appreciated a phrase my sister uses to describe those who don’t attend church anymore. I believe it is a combination of accurate description and a commentary on the lengths we go to for the sake of political correctness.

    “totally less active”

  • Diane Tingen

    Interesting post, but I don’t think there needs to be a “manifesto” against the use of the TBM acronym. I’ve never thought of TBM as meaning anything other than “True Believing Mormon.” Yes, I’ve seen it used on the RFM board and other such discussion boards, and yes, I’ve used it myself to describe people who believe strongly in Mormonism and are very active in it. But I’ve never thought that it automatically has a negative connotation to it. It simply describes in concise terms the fact that someone is devoted to Mormonism without using those words. And although I take issue with the term “Anti-Mormon,” I don’t think TBM was created as a retort. But then, maybe I’m wrong. Regardless, I think it will continue to be used, just as I know that anyone who leaves the Mormon Church will continue to be thought of as “Anti-Mormon” by all the TBMs.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Interesting post, but I don’t think there needs to be a “manifesto” against the use of the TBM acronym.

    I do. I can see by your blog that the label is very useful to you, though. Anyway, thanks for stopping in Diane. :)

  • Enoch

    I agree with your overarching points, but Vin also has a valid point that abbreviations are often called for in the flurry of words on the internet where typing flows as quickly as thought.. sometimes more quickly than good sense. ;)

    I am in the same group as Vin and we do use TBM very neutrally. Of course, I also think it is an unusual group in that it explicitly set out to be a place of respectful discussion among those of diverse beliefs.

    But you can’t stop there, my friend. You can’t just problematize our three letter acronyms and neglect a better replacement! Anyone can tear down the status quo; it is when we can suggest something better that people listen.

    Right now it sounds like you are just suggesting we use TBM* or “TBM”, including an unspoken disclaimer that we are more than our labels, yadda yadda.

    I think those who use TBM derisively will speak thusly of such Mormons acronym or no. I don’t know that the abbreviation is reifying the categories, any more than “lol” diminishes my genuine laughter.

    I resisted acronyms for a long time, but expediency has prompted me to adopt them more. IMNSHO FWIW.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I suggested something better in the conclusion specifically.

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    You know, part of the problem with trying to stop people from using TBM (completely aside from the fact that directives on linguistic usage rarely gain any traction in real life, of course) is that it’s a delightfully flexible term—it can be used as a point of pride (I’m a TBM!), and it can also be used to cast aspersions (You’re just a TBM!)

    It sounds like you’re not a fan of the second use, but are you really trying to take away people’s positive self-labeling, too?

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    I’d like to thank the author for helping the DAMU finally rate a mention in in the Utah press.

    A tip o’ the hat for the assist with this historic first.

  • http://www.kaimipono.net Kaimi

    I tend to agree with Blair on this point.

    I’ve used the term occasionally myself. But I don’t like it in general. It’s a term which is defined almost entirely by people who are criticizing it or trying to differentiate themselves from it. That is, I typically don’t see people saying “I’m a TBM.” The ratio of negative to positive uses of the label is extremely high. It’s a term like “politically correct” which is defined against. (Who goes around saying, “I am politically correct”?) And as such, it seems particularly prone to misuse.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 38:

    Blair,

    It just seemed like that part of your post was a resignation or concession… :) “I recognize we’ll still be labeling people (despite my best attempts to create a label-less Zion community, etc.,)” But I’ll go with it.

    re 39:

    David B,

    I guess what I was wondering about from a sociolinguistics standpoint is…even if covert labels have more power, how do they maintain stability, so to speak? I mean, let’s take “TBM” (and ignore your rather inconvenient counter history of the term’s usage.) I’m not doubting that it is used by certain subsets with some covert connotations. But we’ve had several people state that they’ve been a part of these subsets and even *they* haven’t been aware of these connotations. So what I was thinking is…a covert label doesn’t even *need* countering, because its covert connotations can be diluted on its own.

    If that makes sense.

    re 50:

    Chino,

    DANG, BHodges gets around. I can’t say I’ve ever had a blog article taken up by the Salt Lake Tribune, much less on the same day of publication.

    Anyway, first the DAMU gets a mention in the Utah press…next, THE WORLD.

  • http://moderatebutpassionate.com Grant

    I’m just going to declare myself NLM (No Label Mormon) and be done with it.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    haha yes Grant!

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    Andrew S. (#52):

    Well, the issue is that you’re assuming useful labels actually have some sort of inherent stability. They don’t.

    This occurs both diachronically (i.e., the referent of labels change over time) and synchronically (i.e., the referent is labels isn’t static at any given point in time).

    Consider what it means for someone to say another person is a New Yorker (for convenience assuming the city here, not the state)—it depends based on where the utterer is from, how much contact the utterer has with New Yorkers (however defined), what the specifics of the situation of the utterance might be, and so on. Yes, a Chicagoan wouldn’t be called a New Yorker, but how about someone from Westchester NY or Long Island? Maybe, maybe not. In fact, depending on the context, someone from Manhattan or Staten Island might or might not be called a New Yorker (especially if that label were preceded by the modifier real…). However, despite all this, calling someone a New Yorker has a pigeonholing effect, and a pretty serious one in some contexts.

    (Of course, deconstructionists take this idea and say that this means that real communication is, ultimately, impossible, since we can’t adequately conclude that what we think someone means is what they actually mean. Linguists conclude otherwise, pointing out that we do a pretty good job of communicating anyway despite these issues.)

    Also, pejorative labels tend to have their most power when they’re at their squishiest. If you’re in a context where calling someone a New Yorker could be taken as a negative (as could happen in certain political contexts, or when talking about politeness, or a few other things), the negatives encoded in that label are essentially irrefutable, since the utterer can shift meaning pretty freely—not just the “oh, you’re not really like that” or “except for Pat, Pat’s different” approaches (which acknowledge the nature of the slam), but among others things like “what do you mean?—you’re acting a little oversensitive”, which allows the slam to continue (since everybody knows, at least a little, what was intended) while not giving the target of the slam a reasonable avenue to refute the slam.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    David B has nailed some key points. Thank you.

  • Clark

    David, to be fair, the deconstructionists accept that we normally do pretty well as well. Derrida makes that point explicitly in his debate with Gadamer over communication. The Decontruction position is more that there’s no way to ground communication and that communication is founded more upon miscommunication and that there is no pure movement of an ideal meaning.

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    Clark (#57): True dat—i should have said something like “reliable” instead of “real” in my parenthetical, or maybe even left the parenthetical out, since it’s just an aside from my main points.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    excellent

  • Sgarff

    It’s interesting to see how many of the comments here are focused on points in the post where BHodges used labels. These commenters are missing the point of the post entirely, which is not an absolute prohibition of labels, but a call for more reflection and care regarding their usage.

    One of the most common, and I think pathetic, fallacies in discourse is to take something a person said, convert it into an absolute, and then use it as stick to beat them with for inconsistency.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Sgarff has wonderfully articulated some of my frustration with the discussion!

    My friend Clair pointed me to alt.religion.mormon discussion from 2001 where I found this interesting and eerily similar observation by a poster there:

    “TBM” is a derrogatory term (over- and mis-) used by LDS critics. It basically translates to “a person who is a stupid, unthinking sheep who would continue to believe in Joseph Smith, Jr. even if Christ Himself personally witnessed otherwise”.

    I haven’t spent much time digging through to find earlier references, but it’s interesting to see this very similar argument from ’01.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I forgot to mention this in the OP, but I believe it is connected to Eric Hoffer’s idea of the “True Believer,” which he described in this book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Believer.

    I read it while reviewing Shawn McCraney’s “Born-Again Mormon” book because he recommended it in one of the footnotes.

  • http://www.linescratchers.com/ Syphax

    Don’t know if this has been brought up around here yet, but I recently saw a Community of Christ blog dealing generally with the same issues of self-identification:

    http://saintsherald.com/2011/02/03/mapping-the-community-of-christ-terrain-of-identities/

    Interesting to see how they divide/unite themselves too.

  • Clark

    The term goes back at least to Joseph F. Smith. Here’s an oft repeated story.

    The leader jumped off his horse and shouted, “We will kill anyone who is a Mormon!” The other missionaries had fled into the woods, but Joseph F. bravely stood his ground. The man shoved a gun in Joseph F.’s face and asked, “Are you a Mormon?”

    Joseph F. stood tall and said, “Yes siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through!”

    While it’s not quite the same as TBM I suspect that story and its repetition by others is the origin.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Clark, in the OP!

  • Wraith of Blake

    About the dated style guideline mentioned, re-read it. It did NOT discourage use of the term Mormon much at all, rather it mainly discouraged use of the term Mormon Church.

    This goal has been modified now though. Despite Elder Oaks having said a decade ago to the ”New York Times, “I don’t mind being called a Mormon but I don’t want it said that I belong to the Mormon Church,” nowadays: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700123737/LDS-or-Mormon-It-depends.html?pg=3

    In order to enhance SEO (search engine optimization), Deseret News editors and Deseret Digital Media managers will purposefully put “Mormon” — and even “Mormon Church” in bodies of text and headlines. // “Usage of the term ‘Mormon’ has two benefits,” (Deseret Digital Media’s LDS products manager Robert) Johnson said. “One, greater traffic coming to the article due to a higher search rate for the term “Mormon”; two, offering greater visibility of accurate information in regards to the LDS Church.” // Postings on the church’s newsroom.lds.org site follow the same treatment — with the word “Mormon” often, but not always, inserted deliberately into headlines and article texts. // “It’s all about the search engine,” said Scott Trotter of LDS Public Affairs. “If we want people to see it, it has to be searched under those terms. But it’s a constant battle of putting the full name out there and helping them get it in the right context.” / … / For example, ”’on the home page of the church’s own mormon.org web site”’ — used to introduce those unfamiliar with the LDS Church to its principles, practices and people — “Mormon church” can be found three times and the word “Mormon” at least a dozen times total, while the full, formal name is used only twice. /…/(Per LDS Public Affairs managing director Michael Otterson) “…having people associate the word “Mormon” with “Latter-day Saints” and with Jesus Christ makes sense rather than avoid it. You’ll never avoid it. So at least let’s have people associate the two together.”

    * * *

    Here’s a recent ”DesNews” headline: “‘Mormon PR leader: ‘Why I won’t be seeing the Book of Mormon musical.”

  • Clark

    Dang, sorry about that. I’d read the OP a day or so ago (whenever it was you posted it) and then somehow forgot about that. C’est la vie. (I was actually trying to find the Hinkley or Benson quote and then obviously had a brain shutdown of some sort. Mea culpa.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I don’t speak French

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 55,

    David B,

    While I can see what you mean about the greatest potency of pejoratives when they are at their squishiest, I still can’t help but feel that it’s not addressing the thing that I was mentioning.

    I mean, recognizing that labels don’t even have inherent stability, then why would their pejorative use have more stability?

    E.g., why does calling someone a New Yorker have a pidgeonholing effect when there is nothing in the words to suggest it? Well, people in the “know” can probably answer that, but why would calling someone a “New Yorker” (a squishy term) have more of a lasting pidgeonholing effect than a word which distinctly and overtly pidgeonholes?

    I mean, in your squishiness example, you assume that the utterer when using the label encodes the label with the negative meaning (and switches pretty freely). But isn’t it entirely possible for the speaker not to know the negative meaning…or to know a completely different negative meaning?

    Maybe I’m not speaking coherently.

    Let’s take a different analogy: an “inside” joke vs. an “outside” joke. Both can be misinterpreted, by joke teller and joke listener…but why wouldn’t the inside joke be easier to be misinterpreted (by people who think they are on the inside but aren’t really…or by the fact that the people on the inside cease to exist over time, so the inside meaning doesn’t propagate anymore) than the other joke?

  • http://www.linescratchers.com/ Syphax

    Actually, I believe the first usage of the term TBM was in the Old English epic poem Beowulf:

    703
    …Sceotend swæfon,
    þa þæt hornreced healdan scoldon,
    ealle buton anum. þæt wæs yldum cuþ
    þæt hie ne moste, þa metod TBM,
    se scynscaþa/ under sceadu bregdan.

  • http://www.linescratchers.com/ Syphax

    Which means it predates Clark’s Joseph F. Smith story by at least 8 centuries.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Syphax,

    I love you.

    Chris H.

  • Sharon LDS in TN

    “because the poor things don’t know any better. They don’t understand all the problems in the history of the Church. they believe in silly stuff like angels and golden plates and miracles”……….

    Gosh, how stupid of me and deluded to have witnessed, first hand, and participated in, outright blatant and Dr. verified MIRACLES…..must have been in a coma…forgot to tell the non-member participating in one of them, to forget the fact his huge tumor of cancer just IMMEDIATELY disappeared verified on an X-ray…..
    and Golly, I should have stood right up and slapped that angel in the face who brought a special sacred message years back to me, told him it was stupid to come to mortals cause it’s the 2lst century after all………..poor thing me, to have resolved ANY of my questions about “problems of the history of the church by asking God directly and getting SOLID ANSWERS that satisfied any doubts! Better bleach out my TBM letters on MY T-shirt !!!
    Just saying: Changed my mind, I LOVE MY TBM label….think I’ll keep it forever.

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    Andrew S. (#69):

    No, what you outline is completely possible. However, while the interpretation of words is certainly an individual thing, it only works if there are group norms. (As an aside, but an important one, the norms i’m talking about here are generally emergent norms, not imposed from outside sources like, say, dictionaries or style guides.)

    Also, i said nothing at all about pejorative senses of words having more (or less, FTM) stability than positive senses.

    If a speaker and a hearer are both part of the same group with the same norms, they’re generally going to understand each other.

    There are, in my observation, groups for which TBM is a negative label, and there are other groups for which TBM is a positive label. (Most groups, i suspect, don’t have any sort of noticeable weighting for the term at all, but my most is just a guess with no real evidence behind it.) And even though it’s entirely possible for someone to be in groups with different norms for the connotative interpretation of the term, context tends to disambiguate.

    The problem from a rhetorical standpoint is that these positive and negative senses are connotative and therefore very difficult to argue against, since someone who uses such a term can always fall back on the strict denotation of the term (which is pretty solidly neutral) if pressed, even though those in the group would still be getting the connotative meaning.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Nicely said.

  • mimosachan

    Maybe I missed this when I was skimming through the comments, but TBM has been around in the Mormon internet since at least 1995. It was used as an acronym on various email lists, and wasn’t pejorative at first.

  • http://wheatandtares.org hawkgrrrl

    I agree that the term just started as a way to distinguish those in internet discussions who were believers from those who were no longer believers (or even ex-Mo). The fact of the matter is that those who no longer believe view themselves as superior to those who still believe because they view their former belief as a mistake. I don’t like the term, but I do think it’s sometimes useful to be able to distinguish believers from non-believers in the discussions at times.

    However, there’s a difference between blind unexamined faith and the faith of someone who has doubts and still believes. There’s also a difference between a hate-filled anti-Mormon and someone who practices but doesn’t believe it all. There are many more nuances on both sides of the belief divide than any labels really allow for. Labels just create camps and divisions; they reinforce stereotypes. It’s easy to stop listening to someone when you’ve pigeonholed them into a group you consider not worth listening to.

  • http://ldsarchitecture.wordpress.com Jonathan

    This is all pretty funny considering that the term ‘Mormon’ is a label in and of itself that didn’t originate as a flattering term and was only used by anti-Mormons as an insult. Now we have an official website called mormon dot org showcasing members who are proud to be called Mormons. Maybe in the future we will have a TBM dot org website as well?

  • jks

    TBM is definitely a term that is mostly confined to the internet world. Many, many Mormons have never heard of it and I have never heard it spoken in my presence or said “TBM” or whatever phrase it stands for myself.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Jonathan, it seems to me you didn’t read the entire post because your point was already included.

    mimo, #76: since at least 1995. It was used as an acronym on various email lists, and wasn’t pejorative at first.

    The earliest use of the acronym I could find was 1996 and it was pejorative. Even without considering its origin as pejorative or not, the vast majority of current usage for the term is pejorative. A simple google search can prove that for anyone. I included a link in the post itself to demonstrate this fact.

    hawk #77: The fact of the matter is that those who no longer believe view themselves as superior to those who still believe because they view their former belief as a mistake.

    And I’ve seen such people go further than just viewing themselves as superior, they act on that view, and the TBM label is just a part of it.

    There are many more nuances on both sides of the belief divide than any labels really allow for. Labels just create camps and divisions; they reinforce stereotypes. It’s easy to stop listening to someone when you’ve pigeonholed them into a group you consider not worth listening to.

    Right on.

    Again, I think David B. has stated it quite perfectly regarding denotation and connotation.

  • http://d2o7bfz2il9cb7.cloudfront.net/main-qimg-4b5f853bcdcfdb220cde0e31867ccf35 Spencer L. Jensen

    I am guilty of using the phrase “True Believing Mormon.” If I had my way, it would not be necessary to use, as all members would adhere to the standards with order and exactness.

    However, with the alarming growth of these so-called “Middle Way” or “New Order” Mormons, it is used for convenience to draw attention to the bold, unrelenting faithfulness that the Lord requires.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Spencer, it’s hard not to read your comment as a supposition that we members of the church should view everyone within a certain hierarchy of righteousness by which we can judge other members rather than bearing one another’s burdens that they may be light, etc. “Unrelenting faithfulness” required by the Lord seems to include things like serving others, not judging others unrighteously. So again, we see the problem I have with the TBM label, this time coming from someone who ostensibly accepts the truth claims of the Church without hesitation.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Ah, I get the sense “Spencer” is a parody. Got it.

  • Manuel

    I finally read the post in its completeness. Nothing changed for me. It was very educational as to the roots of labels and possible consequences of them. I still find a huge disconnect between my perception of what is really going on and my perceived tone of the post. I see an enormous double standard being implied by the tone and I simply cannot find the tone to be completely honest. Maybe I simply don’t get it. Maybe I need to be labeled once more.

    As a member of the church, I have been officially and exhaustively categorized and labeled numberless times. Sometimes to be uplifted and emotionally strengthened, though most of the times to be demeaned, insulted and degraded (per my personal reaction). I find this practice to be intrinsic to the organizational behavior of the church, its teachings and its doctrines. I won’t mention more examples as they will probably be “mitigated” or somehow minimized (fallaciously of course).

    I am failing to feel even the smallest speckle of empathy for a member of a community that notably has insisted, taught and perpetuated relentlessly the categorizing and labeling of individuals regardless of the feelings and reactions of those individuals throughout its history to the very present day, who is having a negative reaction to a label someone else imposed on him/her. My most honest feeling about the tone of this post is “boohoo boohoo.” Labeling is not going to change, not because individuals fail to show or feel unity, but because as an organization, this is how we play the game. Am I a terrible person? I’ll be waiting for my new label.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I still find a huge disconnect between my perception of what is really going on and my perceived tone of the post. I see an enormous double standard being implied by the tone and I simply cannot find the tone to be completely honest. Maybe I simply don’t get it. Maybe I need to be labeled once more.

    Regarding tone, if you got the impression that this post was an angry rant, or maybe even an attempt to raise a cry of persecution, then the only thing I can do is tell you I’m not mad, it wasn’t written in anger, and I personally don’t feel particularly persecuted based on the “TBM” label in any way that measures up to larger, more substantial problems in the world, and there are plenty of those. I guess people just have to take my word for it on that, I’m not sure what else would convince you otherwise.

    I won’t mention more examples as they will probably be “mitigated” or somehow minimized (fallaciously of course).

    It’s hard to want to carry on a conversation with you about it when you anticipate reactions like this and basically assert that your mind is made up, you know what to expect, and that whatever unholy labeling you’ve encountered must automatically be the fault of any and all current members of the Church. Hard to have a dialog with such a black-and-white perspective.

    My most honest feeling about the tone of this post is “boohoo boohoo.”

    Oddly enough, this post, although focusing specifically on “TBM,” is intended to get people thinking about the labels they use generally, whereas you seem to think I’m saying the problem doesn’t cut both ways. Quite the contrary:

    As for members of the Church, we’ve also used labels like “apostate” and “anti-Mormon” in ways which totalitize, explain, or dismiss people, to otherwise avoid meaningful interaction. I know what you are, I know what you think, I need not engage. “TBM” almost seems like a return of that favor, which brings us to the bottom line I want to discuss, which is the purpose and function of labels.

    That paragraph precedes the rest of my post, which talks about some of the drawbacks and dangers of labeling generally. I’m not sure how you managed to turn that into a personal attack, but all I can do is assure you no such attack was intended.

    Best wishes.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    BHodges,

    All this TBM talk has me asking WTF? Look at what I started.

  • Manuel

    “It’s hard to want to carry on a conversation with you about it when you anticipate reactions like this and basically assert that your mind is made up, you know what to expect…”

    Hum, perhaps? But I am not anticipating reactions out of mere speculation. I responded to your email with specific examples, some of which I was appalled at how easy (and fallaciously) you mitigated them. My mind is not really made up though, I am just exhausted reading these attempts to cover up an intrinsic characteristic of Mormon culture, so I don’t care to read them again.

    “…and that whatever unholy labeling you’ve encountered must automatically be the fault of any and all current members of the Church.”

    Hum, I recommend you not put that many words in my mouth. I didn’t necessarily place “fault” on anybody in particular, but I especially did not place fault on “all current members of the Church.” That is ridiculous and cheaply dismissive of what I said, which refers specifically to the culture of the community as a whole, which by the way is very well documented.

    “Hard to have a dialog with such a black-and-white perspective.”

    Ah, more labels: my perspective is “black-and-white.” Well, in that case I agree. No dialogue is going to happen on such a basis: my perspective and perceptions are black and white versus what? Your perspective is better and more balanced than mine? Uh, ok.

    “That paragraph precedes the rest of my post, which talks about some of the drawbacks and dangers of labeling generally. I’m not sure how you managed to turn that into a personal attack, but all I can do is assure you no such attack was intended.”

    Hum, more words put in my mouth that I didn’t say. First of all, I did not manage to turn anything into a personal attack, and I don’t even perceive anything in this post as a personal attack; rather I think you are trying to tackle something that is absolutely intrinsic to the church’s structure, doctrines, teachings and culture in general: categorizing and labeling. I never use TBM as a way to describe anyone, not as a pejorative nor in any other way. If anything I find it amusing you are trying to asphyxiate a beast by plucking the little hairs of its neck. It just isn’t working for me.

    Second of all, I take full notice of that paragraph yet I find it fallacious because it seems to define the practice of categorizing or labeling is only in a “members of the church” level and is defined only in negative terms. When in reality, this isn’t an issue at the “members of the church” level; it is an inner core and intrinsic part of religion in general and is not necessarily viewed nor practiced in the LDS community as an absolute negative.

    Furthermore, I never said you are mad neither did I say that this is an angry rant. I just said I find a dissonance with your tone, that’s it. If what you are looking for is an actual label of what I feel your tone conveys, is definitely not “angry rant,” rather I feel the tone is hypocritical, not angry. I’m sorry; I am not looking to be “convinced” of anything, I am just not buying it at all. So best wishes to you too.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Good bye, Manuel.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Manuel, perhaps one of the biggest points I’ve failed to effectively communicate to you here is my perspective on labels and labeling, which I don’t decry *as such,* though you seem to think that was my intent. It wasn’t my intent and it still isn’t. I really don’t understand the distinctions you attribute to me regarding “levels” and “members of the church,” etc. Labeling is something we all do. You seem to see it as a big “Mormon” thing, I see it as a big people thing and I hope to get people thinking about labeling in general by looking at this particular instance (“TBM”).

    You refer to my “fallacious” mitigation of points you raised in emails, but your comment here seems quite different from our exchange as I remember it. I wouldn’t have guessed that I had “appalled” you based on that exchange, I thought we had an interesting and fruitful discussion. If you’re interested in carrying on in that direction you have my email address.

  • Clark

    I think we need to think in terms of labels. However we should be careful to always remember people never fully fit our labels. I think we also have a responsibility to see how our labels affects others. Whether you agree with him about label use or not I think BHodges did a fantastic job pointing out the downside in how this particular affect some others. If we seek to be Christlike and love others then I think we have to live the higher law and worry about such matters even if others don’t. And even if people’s reactions might not be fully rational.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Clark, you’ve given me some confidence that my intentions are discernible in the post, thanks!

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    If in fact the main point of the post is what is Clark describes in #90, I can get on board with that. I am constantly labeled as someone who lives ‘the homosexual lifestyle’. I still will take anyone out to dinner at Zuni in San Francisco (a great place) who can give me a cogent meaningful explanation of what that means, especially when it is employed by those who have not a clue how I live. I am not interested in nor do I care if anyone in the Mormon Church loves me–I will just be happy to have someone finally explain to me what is meant by everyone from GA’s to blogosphere participants using the term ‘homosexual lifestyle.’

    I do mean that about the dinner–although you might be in spiritual danger since Zuni is in San Francisco not too far from the Castro.

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    To the person who finally explains the term ‘homosexual lifestyle’….doesn’t have to be dinner at Zuni if that is too edgey–we can go to any restaurant in SF which is located in any Marriott hotel in the City–there are several–if that feels safer. Fair warning–there are still those in every Marriott who practice the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ since Marriott International doesn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    emhmd:

    I’m not in Cali so I can’t take you up on your offer though I wish I could, but I’ll give the question a shot anyway. Basically I think they intend to describe a person who has sexual relations with a person of the same gender, who might enter into a monogamous relationship with a person of the same gender, or engage in recreational sex with a person of the same gender. But it isn’t clear to me what else could fit into this label. Maybe someone who loves to go clubbing? Enjoys fashion? Other stereotypical bits included as well.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    I’ve head basically the exact thing.

    The homosexual lifestyle, as was explained to me, is precisely acting on one’s homosexual desires and feelings and having sexual relationships with *ominous music* someone of the same gender. Thus, one always has a choice to live the homosexual lifestyle, just as one has a choice to live the heterosexual lifestyle or the asexual lifestyle.

    (That’s right: celibacy is the asexual lifestyle.)

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    Interesting. At least you tried. All of your choices include a primary focus on sex peppered with some stereotypical descriptions of someone who goes ‘clubbing’ and enjoys fashion. A bit shallow don’t you think? I wonder why no one ever refers to a ‘heterosexual lifestyle’? I am a ballet student, so I guess that would round out a description of a ‘homosexual lifestyle’, except that my instructor is heterosexual and married, and the other students in my class are all straight except for me and one other guy. Of course, none of your definitions included for instance, that I and many other homosexuals are parents. Perhaps your attempt fails because you are attempting to define a term which is simply stupid, shallow and an attempt to dismiss an entire group, which is I think the point you are trying to make?

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    Thanks Andrew….so all of the people in the Mormon Church who are celibate outside of marriage are ‘asexual’? Never heard that from the pulpit, but OK. What is the ‘heterosexual lifestyle’? I guess all of those Mormon young people are not heterosexual until they are married?

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    PS Neither one of you wins the dinner at Zuni, but I will compromise and buy you a slice at Marcello’s at Market and Castro.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 97:

    ExMoHoMoDon,

    Or at least, living the asexual lifestyle. And when they date/marry someone of the opposite sex, *then* they are living the “heterosexual lifestyle.” The guy was pretty remarkably consistent in separation attraction from “lifestyle.”

    …Honestly, I don’t know how people come up with things like this.

  • John Mansfield

    What is Zuni?

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Perhaps your attempt fails because you are attempting to define a term which is simply stupid, shallow and an attempt to dismiss an entire group, which is I think the point you are trying to make?

    emhmd: I think you confused my response, which was an attempt to describe how some people might define “homosexual lifestyle,” with my actual perspective on the cogency of a concept of “homosexual lifestyle.” If you read my comment again you’ll see I set up my response like this:

    “I think they intend to describe…”

    No one ever said the homosexual lifestyle necessarily includes excellent close reading skills, though…

    I kid! I kid!

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    ExMoHoMoDon (#92):

    Here’s what i think is the clearest, most complete definition of the term that exists:

    Stuff that homosexuals do, and which therefore is evil, even though it’s generally the same stuff i [the speaker] do.

    So do i win?

  • ExMoHoMoDon

    102 Yes! you win! 101 I got that….I was hoping to goad you into further explanation of what someone might mean when they use the term, which you deftly avoided falling for. You still only get the slice at Marcello’s though, if you are up for it. 100 Zuni is a great restaurant that Martha Stewart speaks highly of……is eating there part of the ‘homosexual lifestyle’? Martha is straight, most of the patrons are straight, but it is close to a gay neighborhood, and several of the waiters are gay…..I am getting so confused! My sister loves it…and she is a ‘TBM’….have we gone full circle now?

  • http://monex.to/wiki/Michael_Carabini Michael Carabini

    One of the things he brought out is that depending on the context skeptic can be an approving label heres someone who wont be fooled by flim-flam or a term of abuse theres someone who stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the facts of the matter . As well Kevin notes that especially when scientists are dealing with folks from outside the scientific community e.g. journalists or politicians terms like skeptics and the mainstream can be used to designate something like tribal memberships here are the people that are worth listening to and there are the people whose opinions can be dismissed…I think the issue of labels is an important one not only in scientist-lay person interactions but also in scientist-on-scientist contexts. While I agree with Kevin that some labeling sets us on the path to intellectual laziness there are instances where labels can actually be useful.

  • Dan

    I’m just going to throw this definition in and see what you all think:

    The “homosexual lifestyle” is simply all the things you do in a closet.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Had a chance to discuss this on the Mormon Matters podcast.

    http://mormonmatters.org/2011/05/31/34-self-indentifying-as-%E2%80%9Cmormon%E2%80%9D/

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    I am trying to listen to it. Not sure if I can given that the TBML perspective was banned from the discussion. :)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    haha, my mistake.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    As long as we are “open” to all voices. Right?

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    I was disappointed to hear RfM held up as an example of angry exmormons. RfM long ago became a caricature, and folks here are too smart to go wielding it like a cudgel against “angry exmormons” … I wouldn’t throw anyone here at FPR in the same pot with the LDS author of Sixteen Small Stones. So, please, if folks are gonna talk about what’s happening online with exmos, at least try referencing projects from this century, e.g., iamanexmormon.com … I’m dropping this here because apparently expressing this sentiment over at Mormon Matters is not allowed (my similar comment was promptly deleted).

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    RfM?

    If Mormon Matters doesn’t like it…it must be okay. :)

  • http://wheatandtares.org Andtew S.

    Chris,

    Just no.

    Anyway, I haven’t heard the podcast yet (uggg podcasts) but the issue isn’t that RfM isn’t a good example of angry exmormons (no…they are a pretty good example of that.) they are not a good example of any other exmormons. But if one wants to talk about angry exmos, then one couldn’t find many better places than RfM to look through.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Chino, if that was your takeaway from the podcast I don’t really know what to say. It is too clear to me that we talked about a variety of Mormons, current, former, whatever you want to call them, aside from brief mentions of RfM. It’s difficult not to read your comment as an attempt to find something to complain about.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    I was talking about Chino’s comment (in relation to MM).

    What is RfM? I really have no idea.

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    Mormons who hold up RfM as a cautionary tale are going to look increasingly like Mormons who have no clue what is happening in the online exmo world. It’s not simply that RfM is ridiculously angry, it’s that they’re increasingly irrelevant.

    I know this is not the place to be asking, but I look forward to an answer regarding why Mormon Matters deemed it necessary to delete my comment. Do Mormon readers need to be protected from the reality of a growing community of exmo websites that are more fun than furious?

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    I know this is not the place to be asking,

    Probably should have stuck with that instinct. ;)

    Look, RfM exists, whether you like it or not. At the same time, no one, as far as I can recall, intimated that they were broadly representative of former Mormons. Can you point out a specific statement that indicated otherwise?

  • http://wheatandtares.org Andtew S.

    re: 114

    Right, and I was “ugh no”ing (it’s a technical verb, you see) that. The other day I was surprised to find a rather damning challenge of the old maxim that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    such a statement about RfM wrt MM (although I wouldn’t say MM is an enemy in any respect) gives me the same phenomenal experience.

    anyway, to fill you in, RfM stands for “Recovery from Mormonism”. It’s a pretty obnoxious site.

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    Hey Blair,

    I’m just registering my disappointment that RfM got mentioned at all. It’s like all the decent exmo sites get the silent treatment from the bloggernacle but it’s no problem yukking it up about RfM. Or maybe I’m wrong that Mormon Matters deleted my comment because I mentioned iamanexmormon.com? If so, then I’ve got no theory as to why my comment was deleted. Anyway, you’re right, and it’s admittedly silly asking folks here about MM’s commenting policy, but it just struck me as strange, especially on a thread about avoiding offense.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Google “tbm” “mormon” and you’ll see why it came up in the context of discussing that label.

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    Hey Blair,

    I listened to the podcast, I follow what you’re saying, what I’m talking about is admittedly orthogonal to all that, and I’m mostly just gobsmacked that somebody at MM apparently thinks it’s off-limits to note that RfM happens to be considered an embarrassment by many self-identified exmos.

  • http://outerblogness.org/ Chino Blanco

    To MM’s credit, my comment has now been restored and all is right with the world. Sorry for the drama.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Good to hear. I stand by my original post indicating dislike for the label “TBM,” based on where I see its most frequent iteration to be taking place. That doesn’t mean that place is the summum bonum of former Mormons. It means the more thoughtful and loving former Mormons, however they wish to label themselves, will consider being thoughtful about this label as well.

  • Dude

    I did not take the time to read all the comments. There is a more up to date turn form TBM. It is Kolobian(s), have fun with that.

  • TBM

    And here I was thinking Elder Packer in the last general conference said Y’all are members of the Church Of JESUS CHRIST of latter day saints?

    So SORRY you are not MoRons!

    I mean really?

  • stephanie spencer

    Funny thing is that it was from Mormons that I learned the term ‘Jack Mormon’. Equally as odd is that it is the strict Mormons I know (specifically the devout ;the ones with temple recommends) who choose to put all sorts of labels on their ‘own’(inactive, apostate, and so on). They seem to spend their lives putting people in categories. (I myself was a ‘nonmember’….a term that caused me much puzzlement when I first heard it used.) There ARE different types of Mormons. A TBM is one who follows the rules and regulations and general ‘group think’ of the organization fairly to a ‘T’. It would seem rather a waste of time to get one’s knickers in a twist over this.

    Stephanie

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    TBM #124, I don’t get what you’re trying to do there, sorry.

    Stephanie, the label “Jack Mormon” has shifted in usage over time. Originally it referred to non-Mormons who were sympathetic to the plight of members of the Church.

    You’ll notice in the original post to which you are responding I mentioned that members of the Church have tended to use various labels (apostate, etc.) in a way I find unfruitful, in a way I discourage as much as I discourage the use of “TBM.” In fact, this is one reason I oppose the reappropriation of the term by members of the church. Some people say “let’s use TBM for ourselves and make the meaning positive.” I say no to this move on the grounds that it would be an unnecessary way of differentiating oneself from other members of the Church.

    A TBM is one who follows the rules and regulations and general ‘group think’ of the organization fairly to a ‘T’. It would seem rather a waste of time to get one’s knickers in a twist over this.

    So you basically reaffirm what I observed as being a bad thing about the TBM label (that it refers to blind dupes, victims of ‘group think’), and then tell me not to get my knickers in a twist?

    “Sure, they’re calling you an idiot. Why should you object to that?”

  • Turnip Lover

    TBM / non member. I know which sounds more exclusionary.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Not sure how that responds to my original post, Turnip Lover.

  • http://www.avertinghumanextinction.org/index.php?title=Main_Page Tatiana

    I hear what you’re saying about divisive labeling, and I agree in general. But as for that particular label, I do consider myself a TBM, though others perhaps wouldn’t call me that, and it doesn’t feel pejorative to me. Even if some silly people want to look down on me for being a true believer, that’s okay by me. If they want to think I’m naive and foolish, it doesn’t bother me at all.

    Atheists, for instance, think we’re all naive and foolish for being believers to begin with. That’s where they are in their walk, if you want to put it that way. That’s where they’re coming from at the moment. As a former atheist, I feel like I understand their position; I just don’t agree with it anymore. It was always a bit of a stretch to maintain that so many highly intelligent people could be so naive and silly about God. What I finally realized is that there was something else going on which I didn’t formerly understand.

    But isn’t it true that whatever each of us believe, we feel is the right thing to believe? So doesn’t that mean we’ve looked at the other options, and feel they offer less? So all of us, in that sense, feel our own choice of what to believe is superior. Of course we do, or else we wouldn’t believe it!

    So it’s okay for my friends to think their beliefs are somehow better than mine, at least for them they are. How can we accept each other’s choices and beliefs is the most important question, I think. I think we have to leave room for understanding that we each have a point of view that is valid for our own selves, and we each have stewardship over our own beliefs. And respect others for their differences as well as our shared knowledge and understanding.

    But do I declare that I’m a TBM, dyed in the wool, through and through, etc. and it’s fine anyone calls me that, even if they’re doing it as a way of laughing at my innocence and naivete.

  • http://wheatandtares.org Andrew S.

    Brushing atheists with one broad categorical brush? Very classy.

  • http://latterdaysnark.blogspot.com/ David B

    Brushing those who brush atheists with one categorical brush with one categorical brush? What would one call that?

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Very classy?

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    I indeed do my best to keep it quite classy…

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I think this one’s run its course for now. Gonna shut down comments when I figure out how. Thanks everyone.


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