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 Post subject: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:24 am 
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Well, it seems like this war is destined to grind on. Now, Jack Welch's daughter-in-law enters the fray with a confused musing on Mormon Stories.

Among her more obviously wrongheaded comments is the following howler:

Rosalynde Welch wrote:
Mormon Stories thus defines itself on two axes: both as a supportive social ecosystem, and as a purveyor of what it calls "authentic self-expression." These two goals are, of course, in direct conflict with one another. It's not entirely clear what is meant by "authentic self-expression," and in any case I am one who doubts that anything like authentic self-expression—or even anything like an "authentic self"—actually exists. But conceding for the sake of argument that some kind of personal communication can spring directly from the soul, unmediated by environment or exigency, surely a vibrant social community is the last place one would expect to find such authentic expression. A social community is nothing more than a source of mediating narratives, names, and norms that exist precisely to shape the substrate of basic human perception into meaningful experience. If "authentic" expression is language that arises directly from an unadulterated private conscience, then expression from within a community can only be seen as artificially mediated—it's simply the nature of the thing. This point was made directly by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in her talk at the meeting of the Boston Mormon Stories community, though she was gracious enough not to draw out the obvious and dismaying implications for her audience.


Duh. The point, in my view, is not that there is an authentic self--your common tactic of Mopologetic nitpicking--but that in the Mormon Stories community people have the freedom to say things that they were unable to say in an LDS ward. Of course, most of us understand this, but LDS apologetics is all about nitpicking on issues of terminology, as in the case of their disagreement with John's loose use of the term "ad hominem." In the latter case, we all understand that John is referring to the personal attacks that are perpetrated in apologetic material, but the apologetic dodge is to say, "that's not what ad hominem means." Hardy-har.

Anyhow, we will undoubtedly continue to see much more of these impertinent pseudo-arguments against John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. Keep your eyes out for them, if you can stomach the sad spectacle.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:33 am 
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I will continue to pick apart this nonsense, because it is irritating to read:

Rosalynde Welch wrote:
By his own account, there were no interpretive resources available in 2001 to help him make sense of these issues, and Mormon Stories was born to fill that void: through a series of podcasts, Dehlin would develop a repository of unbiased historical information and interpretation to bring to light and make sense of the issues he encountered.

In one sense, this is a bit silly: in 2001, there were numerous Mormon journals—including BYU Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, Irreantum, and others—that had been dealing with precisely these issues for decades, and by 2004, long before Mormon Stories got started, the Mormon blog-world was well launched on its treatment of the same. To my knowledge, Mormon Stories has not brought to light any new historical knowledge or even any novel historical interpretation; the organization does not fill any actual intellectual void.


As Welch later acknowledges, what makes Mormon Stories unique is the medium. This is a podcast, and it introduces people to issues in an interesting and highly personal way. Even those who are familiar with Mormon issues from reading the journals Welch lists will be interested to hear someone ask Richard Bushman, Daniel Peterson, or Grant Palmer direct questions about the issues. The fact that he was able to get such a diverse set of voices to appear on Mormon Stories is an achievement in its own right. I find that significant, not "silly."

As to her second point about new historical knowledge, I would simply ask: how many people would have found Grant Palmer's article in a fairly obscure Protestant journal had he not appeared on Mormon Stories? So, to many people, including even the fairly knowledgeable scholars, one will certainly be introduced to material that is not familiar to them. Is Mormon Stories a useful and accessible resource? You bet it is. So, once again, Welch is nitpicking and faultfinding where such is really unnecessary.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:46 am 
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Continuing....

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.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:56 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Well, it seems like this war is destined to grind on. Now, Jack Welch's daughter-in-law enters the fray with a confused musing on Mormon Stories.


Anyhow, we will undoubtedly continue to see much more of these impertinent pseudo-arguments against John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. Keep your eyes out for them, if you can stomach the sad spectacle.


Kish,

You are great. I am sitting here laughing at Ms. Welch's nonsense and your tearing it to bits. I have to wonder if these people have any clue as to how this material looks to most people.

I am sure for most people it is like watching static on T.V. or better yet, a jackhammer in a crowded city!

If this is the quality of people who defend Mormon apologetics, then as I said earlier, the ship is sinking fast. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:58 am 
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Kish,

I don't think Welch's musings on Mormon Stories have much to do with the current FARMS SNAFU, other than being in the news and therefore making an article on the topic timely by means of being contemporaneous. These criticisms of Mormon Stories go back pretty much to the inception of Mormon Stories.

The bloggernacle has never liked Mormon Stories. And Rosalynde Welch was/is a member of one of the big blogs in the bloggernacle. I have never gotten to the bottom of the animosity, but it seemed to be pretty universal in the early days of Mormon Stories, none of the blogs liked him. My guess is that the bloggernacle has always fancied itself as Mormon intelligentsia, and always perceived Mormon Stories as lowbrow, a piece of Mormonism they would rather not see on display. This I think is the root of Welch's comments. I don't think this is a case of defending FARMS, because the bloggernacle has never liked FARMS either.

Part of the problem with critiquing Mormon Stories is you have to ask, Which Mormon Stories? At one point, Dehlin flushed Mormon Stories down the toilet and vowed never to do it again, only to reverse himself after Mormon Expression started podcasting. The Mormon Stories before and after this break were entirely different beasts. The Mormon Stories before the long break was much more focused on intellectual issues, the one after the break has been much more focused on community and social issues. If I have a critique of Welch, it's that she conflates the two in her post.

FWIW, I preferred the Mormon Stories before Dehlin took his long sabbatical.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:03 am 
Although some apologists insist that the John Dehlin incident had little or nothing to do with the change at MI, the amount of sniping they've directed at Dehlin and Mormon Stories almost seems to indicate that they do blame him.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:31 am 
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Kishkumen, thanks for posting your thoughts on this, I read that article and also thought it was rather muddled.

Also, it looks like John was successful in his request on Facebook for people to go and defend Mormon Stories in the comments to the article. The majority of the comments are refutations of the article, now. One of my favorite comments so far:
Ben Lauritsen wrote:
I see nothing sinister about the predictability of your blog post and its relatively insipid moral grounding; my quarrel is only with the intelligence of its discourse. Your post seems like a textbook (neo-apologist) application of freshman-level philosophy to tear down a system in defense of your own system that would be equally (if not more) eviscerated by the same approach, a lot like a high school straight-straight alliance and about as important.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:36 am 
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Joe Geisner wrote:
Kish,

You are great. I am sitting here laughing at Ms. Welch's nonsense and your tearing it to bits. I have to wonder if these people have any clue as to how this material looks to most people.

I am sure for most people it is like watching static on T.V. or better yet, a jackhammer in a crowded city!

If this is the quality of people who defend Mormon apologetics, then as I said earlier, the ship is sinking fast. :lol:


Hey, Joe-

Thanks for the comments. This blog post is really amazing. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is for me to believe that she wrote it and posted it. It really is a train wreck and quite revealing of some rather ugly elements to her underlying position.

K


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:41 am 
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The Bloggernacle doesn't like John Dehlin and Mormon Stories because the Bloggernacle wants to be seen as faithful. Bloggernacle bloggers don't want people questioning their faithfulness and commitment to the church, even as they engage in critiques of their religion which often mirror what ex-LDS, NOM, and non-LDS critics say. The friendlier a blog is with the NOM and ex-Mormon community, the more likely it will be questioned and criticized by other Bloggernacle blogs (e. g. Feminist Mormon Housewives). Of course, your mileage will vary when it comes to individual bloggers.

John Dehlin has openly admitted that he isn't sure of the existence of God and doesn't believe in a lot of the tenets of Mormonism. He gives a lot more air time to ex-Mormon and NOM perspectives than most Bloggernacle blogs do. That isn't something the Bloggernacle wants to be affiliated with. People will sometimes question their faithfulness regardless, but they aren't going to make it easy for them by paling around with John Dehlin.

This is why I laughed so hard when a commentator on Ralph Hancock's critique of Joanna Brooks called Dehlin the leader of the Bloggernacle. I can only imagine how irritated some Nacle regulars must be to hear anyone perceiving John Dehlin as their leader.

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Last edited by MsJack on Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:43 am 
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Cylon wrote:
Kishkumen, thanks for posting your thoughts on this, I read that article and also thought it was rather muddled.

Also, it looks like John was successful in his request on Facebook for people to go and defend Mormon Stories in the comments to the article. The majority of the comments are refutations of the article, now. One of my favorite comments so far:
Ben Lauritsen wrote:
I see nothing sinister about the predictability of your blog post and its relatively insipid moral grounding; my quarrel is only with the intelligence of its discourse. Your post seems like a textbook (neo-apologist) application of freshman-level philosophy to tear down a system in defense of your own system that would be equally (if not more) eviscerated by the same approach, a lot like a high school straight-straight alliance and about as important.


Ben really nailed it. But, then, that is what a lot of this conservative hand-wringing is about. It is the idea that tolerance of the very people they were kicking around before is a threat to their very existence. It is as if to say, "well, if I can't bully gay people anymore, what is to prevent everyone from becoming gay?" Or, "if I can't segregate black people to keep them out of my restaurant or bus seat, what prevents my daughter from marrying a black buy and having mixed-race babies?" And so they form things like "white power" groups to prevent the fall of Western Civilization and that kind of nonsense.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:48 am 
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MsJack wrote:
This is why I laughed so hard when a commentator on Ralph Hancock's critique of Joanna Brooks called Dehlin the leader of the Bloggernacle. I can only imagine how irritated some Nacle regulars must be to hear anyone perceiving John Dehlin as their leader.


Well, Ralph Hancock has no problem bloviating out of his rear end, that is for sure.

I get the fact that the 'nacle folks are tense about showing how true blue they are, and that they don't care for John Dehlin for this reason. I am having a hard time believing, however, that Jack Welch's daughter-in-law adding her two cents on Mormon Stories at this time is a coincidence.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:53 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
Part of the problem with critiquing Mormon Stories is you have to ask, Which Mormon Stories? At one point, Dehlin flushed Mormon Stories down the toilet and vowed never to do it again, only to reverse himself after Mormon Expression started podcasting. The Mormon Stories before and after this break were entirely different beasts. The Mormon Stories before the long break was much more focused on intellectual issues, the one after the break has been much more focused on community and social issues. If I have a critique of Welch, it's that she conflates the two in her post.

FWIW, I preferred the Mormon Stories before Dehlin took his long sabbatical.


I have many points of disagreement with Welch, including the idea that support groups for people who have had a rough time are fundamentally silly. So, in her view, it is morally insipid for gay students to seek comfort, support, and to create understanding in an environment of bullying and marginalization. The evidence of a basic obtuseness and lack of compassion in her perspective is clear. I think it is worth calling this out for what it is.

Rosalynde Welch wrote:
Mormon Stories seems like a textbook liberal mini-institution, a lot like a high school gay-straight alliance and about as important.


So the fact that gay kids feel marginalized and seek emotional support is morally insipid and silly? You mean the same kids who end up taking their own lives when they get bullied and don't have emotional support?

I extend my middle finger at you, Rosalynde Welch.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:00 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
My guess is that the bloggernacle has always fancied itself as Mormon intelligentsia, and always perceived Mormon Stories as lowbrow, a piece of Mormonism they would rather not see on display. This I think is the root of Welch's comments.

This is spot ____ on. Welch and her fellow travelers at BCC and T&S drove me straight into the DAMU back in 2005. At the time I was simply a faithful Mormon looking for more stimulating conversation than could be found on Sunday morning in church. I found it for a brief while, in the Bloggernacle. But their thinly disguised viciousness was terribly off-putting. It was precisely what Welch criticizes in her blog post--the lack of authenticity in the Bloggernacle--that led me (and many others) to find folks who could talk intelligently about Mormonism without all the pomposity, arrogance, and elitism found in the major 'Nacle sites. What Mormon Stories and the DAMU blogs and discussion boards provided then and now was a place where people could feel free to express themselves on their own terms. We didn't have it in church, where every thought that strays beyond the pages of the correlated manuals must be squelched and left unexpressed for fear of becoming the ward pariah, subject to church discipline and social ostracism. But we didn't have it in the Bloggernacle, either, where certain topics not typically discussed in Sunday School could be approached, but where the likes of Welch and Brown were always on the ready to scold and denigrate those who expressed views deemed too unorthodox for the slightly heterodox Naclers. The self-censorship required to participate in the online faithful communities may not have been as exacting as that required to participate in Sunday School, but it was still an ever-present suppressive influence. Welch may not have an authentic self, and that may be why she fits in so well in the LDS church and the Bloggernacle.

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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:03 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
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.

I think this can be explained by the fact that she is not trying to demonstrate her intelligence, rather, she is fighting a battle and trying to score rhetorical points for her teams. It seems that Mormon Stories is a special two-faceted enemy for her, in that (1) as Aristotle mentioned, from the time Dehlin came into the fray (in the weeks before launching Mormon Stories), he was challenging her Bloggernacle team, claiming that they weren't "filling the intellectual void," and creating Mormon Stories, in part, to address those shortcomings, and (2) as you pointed out, Dehlin is now in conflict with her FIL's FARMS team, claiming that the institution's polemics are damaging the Church.

-JV


Last edited by Juggler Vain on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:08 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
Kish,

The bloggernacle has never liked Mormon Stories. And Rosalynde Welch was/is a member of one of the big blogs in the bloggernacle. I have never gotten to the bottom of the animosity, but it seemed to be pretty universal in the early days of Mormon Stories, none of the blogs liked him. My guess is that the bloggernacle has always fancied itself as Mormon intelligentsia, and always perceived Mormon Stories as lowbrow, a piece of Mormonism they would rather not see on display.


BINGO! Keep in mind that the naccle was largely started by a bunch of law students in the early 00's that were interested in philosophy, PoliSci and Mormonism of course (true at least of the early Times and Seasons and By Common Consent). It has of course expanded greatly since then, but the old guard blogs (weird to call them that already) have always been very ivory tower high brow stuff IMO, and not really all that interested in troubling issues (you're much more likely to see a blog posting about court systems in Utah or Kierkegarrd then you are about BofA papyri). Dehlin is, in his words, much more of a "meat and potatoes" guy. The naccle has also nevery really been about a support community at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:10 am 
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I never got into the bloggernacle. I read a few things and didn't like the superior attitude. Besides, they don't really talk about anything that relates to my life. After reading the excerpts posted here, I have no desire to read any of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:12 am 
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Equality wrote:
At the time I was simply a faithful Mormon looking for more stimulating conversation than could be found on Sunday morning in church. I found it for a brief while, in the Bloggernacle. But their thinly disguised viciousness was terribly off-putting. It was precisely what Welch criticizes in her blog post--the lack of authenticity in the Bloggernacle--that led me (and many others) to find folks who could talk intelligently about Mormonism without all the pomposity, arrogance, and elitism found in the major 'Nacle sites.


That accords well with my experience. The 'nacle is the place where people like Nate Oman, who is essentially a more sophisticated apologist in some ways, thrive. I respect Oman's intelligence, but some of his arguments in defense of the orthodox Mormon community have been positively risible. I thought his open letter to Dialogue was pretty hilarious and completely idiotic from a historically literate point of view. To call the community of marginalized and uncorrelated voices associated with Dialogue on the carpet for consciously excluding the same people whom an apostle warned off of participation in these journals and fora was a breathtaking act of chutzpah (if it was not just evidence of ignorance).

To be fair to Oman, however, he does have his good points. He is not an uncomplicated character, and I have seen him take a principled stand out of the public eye. So, regardless of my dislike of some of his more ludicrous apologetics, I do respect him very much in other ways. Welch may be the same kind of person, but her comparison of Mormon Stories to a gay-straight alliance in a high school, as though that were a bad thing, was unfortunate and rather revealing, I think.


Last edited by Kishkumen on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:13 am 
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Equality wrote:
Welch and her fellow travelers at BCC and T&S drove me straight into the DAMU back in 2005.

Similar experience here, but I didn't attempt to participate in the discussion -- lurking was enough.

Equality wrote:
...certain topics not typically discussed in Sunday School could be approached, but where the likes of Welch and Brown were always on the ready to scold and denigrate those who expressed views deemed too unorthodox for the slightly heterodox Naclers.

People expressing views that were too orthodox were also scolded and denigrated. Your views had to hold just the right amount of heterodoxy in order for you to fit in. I assume that's still how it is over there, but I haven't looked in a while.

-JV


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:18 am 
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Juggler Vain wrote:
People expressing views that were too orthodox were also scolded and denigrated. Your views had to hold just the right amount of heterodoxy in order for you to fit in. I assume that's still how it is over there, but I haven't looked in a while.

-JV


This is one of the most unfortunate things about all of these communities. I have no doubt that it afflicts Mormon Stories as well. It is the demand for a kind of in-group orthodoxy. Is it just a function of LDS culture that any group springing up from it suffers from an anxiety over controlling the discourse tightly? I know I have seen the same in the Mormon Stories community, come to think of it. It is as though each of these little groups has their charismatic leaders whose genius and authority are assumed to be sacrosanct.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:20 am 
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I have to say that I am somewhat miffed that John would call out people to defend him on Facebook. For someone who demands that the church open itself up more for criticisim, he seems to have a very hard time getting criticized himself.


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 Post subject: Re: Rosalynde Welch takes on Mormon Stories
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:26 am 
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Here is my favorite comment in response to Welch's post:

Quote:
I've never heard a Mormon Stories podcast and I've never met John Dehlin. I don't really have a dog in the fight, so to speak. I have, however, spent the last few years finishing a doctorate in philosophy at Cambridge, and from my view this seems like a poor excuse for a reasoned argument. As someone said below, it reads like an undergraduate's first venture into philosophy (not the student that you encourage; the one that you gently advise to consider another field).

The argument seems to pivot on the supposed contradiction between the concepts of self-expression and the social community; but the only evidence the author provides for this contradiction is a post-modern invalidation of self-expression. I fail to see how this supports the central claim, and I also fail to see, as with most amateur attempts at deconstruction, how the author plans to rescue any aspect of the moral or social world from her sweeping critique.

It makes a fun thought experiment but does nothing to support her argument (whatever that turns out to be).


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