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“Many in our community don’t want to discuss various aspects of Mormonism even amongst themselves, much less with outsiders”

November 30, 2006

Blog article: Two More Emails – and a Podcast!, by Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew Sullivan received two very interesting e-mails from Mormons (one of which, albeit, is a liberal, “cultural Mormon”) regarding the benefits of having Mormonism under the spotlight:

The first:

I just want you to know that there’s at least one active Mormon “out there” who appreciates and supports what you are doing. I blogged about it here and I discussed it on a local Utah radio show, which you can listen to here.

Ultimately the more candid, open, and honest discussion there is about Mormonism–and frankly, the more awareness that can be broadly generated about some of the more controversial and damaging aspects of our history and doctrine–the greater the likelihood that the top leadership will make positive progress in improving on the weaker parts of our faith and culture (renouncing the loopiness, etc.). Ultimately, sunshine is the best antiseptic, as they say.

The second:

I’m a long-time LDS reader of your website. Am still enjoying it.

Yes, your publishing the garment photos was a tad offensive to most of us. But you’re right that our taboos need not be your own. And truth be told, we Mormons are really hypersensitive about criticism (or even discussion) of our faith in the media. (Bad experiences in the 19th Century, misrepresentations of our doctrines in the 20th, etc.). The Romney candidacy, as well as public discussions of Mormonism on blogs such as yours, can only do a service to the Mormons in the long run. So many in our community don’t want to discuss various aspects of Mormonism even amongst themselves, much less with outsiders. But the more exposure we get, and the more that various Mormon “oddities” are scrutinized in the press, the more we’ll have to think about various doctrinal and historical issues, as well as talk about them.

As far as this Mormon is concerned, that’s a very good thing. At least it will make my otherwise stale Church meetings a bit more interesting. For that, you have my eternal gratitude.

In a blog comment (linked to above) John Dehlin writes:

[W]e’ve been trying to straddle the fence of maintaining (or at least not officially denouncing) some very strange (dare I say loopy?) teachings/doctrines of the past, while trying to present ourselves to the Christian world as “just one of them….with perhaps some slight improvements.” … Because we have been less than bold/candid about our beliefs (both internally and externally), we’re now facing a bold day of reckoning. This will be painful, but ultimately, I believe that we will all be better off for it. And once we come clean (again both internally and externally) and clarify what we still do and don’t believe officially–we will once and for all be able to put all this behind us.

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