Rosalynde Welch wrote:
And indeed we see, in the website's archive of "Member Stories," that every narrative sounds the same notes, as surely and predictably as an LDS testimony meeting: beginning from a state of closed naïveté, a precipitating crisis, moving through confusion and rupture, finding Mormon Stories, and ultimately achieving openness and health. "Health" appears to be the dominant value in the community and the ultimate good, replacing the traditional Christian categories of truth and salvation: the archives, for example, are organized into narratives of Individual, Marital, Community, and Family Health. The website contains language assuring the reader that Mormon Stories is not and will not become a religion in itself. These assurances are at once grandiose and unnecessary, since the community evidently lacks the moral gravity necessary to anchor a religion. I have nothing against health, but it is far too comfortable and anodyne a concept to capture the soul.
I see nothing sinister about the predictability of these narratives and their relatively insipid moral grounding; my quarrel is only with the intelligence of their discourse. Mormon Stories seems like a textbook liberal mini-institution, a lot like a high school gay-straight alliance and about as important. And if it is founded on contradictory projects, well, the same can be said about much of Western civilization. Contradiction can add interest and energy to a project; incoherence can also eat itself from the inside out. I doubt anybody knows which will be the fate of Mormon Stories.
Ms. Welch surely understands that the reason for the disclaimer on starting a new religion is motivated by the questioning that John and other participants in Mormon Stories have fielded from LDS leadership and other Mormons. So, this is not "grandiosity" on John's part; it is a necessary defense against the concerns of a religious group--namely, the LDS Church--that has such a pitched anxiety about apostasy and the formation of splinter sects that it has gone so far as to ban informal scripture study groups and forbid its university faculty from participating in symposia. I find it stunning that a young woman of her obvious intelligence could be so astoundingly ignorant of these basic facts of history from the past few decades. If Dehlin is guilty of a certain naïveté, she is certainly no less so. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Finally, I would ask: why is it necessary that a social support group provide the kind of intellectual discourse that scholarly journals do? Why not pick on the LDS Church itself for providing materials that are so lacking in substance and interest that they actually drive people to bring in books and electronic devices just to keep from falling asleep in church meetings? But, for some reason, doubting and hurting members are insipid for seeking healing from a church experience that was obviously lacking in the resources that provided for the emergence of something like Mormon Stories in the first place. As I have said many times, maybe if others had paid attention to the hurting and doubting members of the Church, instead of blaming them, there would have been no Mormon Stories to trash now.
The misdirected anger and sniping continues.