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My Mozilla Firefox suggests articles for me, and this one popped up today. I should also say that I absolutely love Longreads--I prefer the long article pulse on news and society rather than main stream news 3 minute segments.
I'm sharing it here in the name of noting how the "Mormonism" conversation is taking place in a larger context.
MEET THE NEW MORMONS
I'm ambivalent about the article itself. I found it unsatisfying, but I'm still trying to put my finger on why. I think in part that there are unsupported statements, that assume much from a supposed already-agreeing audience. For example, she mentions twice about being people being called in to "discipline" for Facebook posts, but doesn't even give one example, much less showing an ongoing pattern. Again--maybe readers should already know and be up on that, but I'm not, and I really don't think all readers will be, especially if the audience is mainly non-Mormon, as would be the case for Longreads. Similarly there are statements like this: "But they [the Church] definitely don’t like everything that happens online. That’s why they excommunicated Kelly in 2014." Again--wow--a lot that could benefit from unpacking there even if the conclusion remains the same. She does not go through the Kelly case at all--just says only that. So, again--an expectation that the reader already is following the entire matter and has background.
What I liked best about the article was her personal story and struggles (and her Mom's). I also can hardly disagree with the hope that there can be a greater atmosphere of talking about tough things without fear.
All communication depends upon a level of shared understanding and commonly accepted assumptions. If the communication is verbal, then much of the shared understanding and commonly accepted assumptions has to do with the meanings of words, their semantic ranges and how context influences those meanings. For example, when in the context of a Temple Recommend interview, the interviewer uses such words as "Testimony," "Saviour," "Word of Wisdom," "Law of Chastity" and suchlike, it is mutually understood that these terms take on specifically Mormon meanings, and that short "yes" or "no" answers convey the same information to the hearer as they do to the speaker.
If a person is not familiar with Mormon terminology, those meanings will not be obvious. But if an interviewee is indeed familiar with them, but chooses instead to interpret those terms in alternative ways without informing the interviewer, - as advocated by Mister John Dehlin, Ph.D. - then s/he has deliberately set out to deceive the interviewer, and is engaging in what I call "lexical duplicity."
None if this would be particularly controversial, were it not for the fact that there are in this forum one or two ideological friends of Mister Dr Dehlin who see nothing wrong with such behaviour, and flatly deny that any duplicity is involved.
This raises a serious question, however. If those posters cannot see any problem with such behaviour in a Temple Recommend interview, in which the overriding principle is one of uberrimae fedei, then how can they balk at such things in this forum, where caveat lector so clearly applies? How are we to know, when such a poster uses any well-known Mormon term, that they are using it in its expected Mormon sense, and not in some private sense that is kindly withheld from us, perhaps to avoid distressing us?
To embrace lexical duplicity of the Dehlin kind is to undermine, if not outright destroy, the trust without which any effective communication must fail. This is in no sense a "personal insult," but a serious problem that needs a serious resolution. If anyone tries to pretend that this is a "personal insult," then they are merely sweeping the problem under the rug.
While it’s content offers little or nothing that will strike most here as anything new, it’s worth noting anything like this that appears in the mainstream media.... I imagine it’s content WILL be new(s) to many of its non-LDS viewers, so it’s worth taking note if nothing else to stay informed as to what members of other Faiths (or of no Faith at all) are hearing about Mormonism.
In a fairly new development, it appears that John Dehlin and Patrick Mason are collaborating on blog series at patheos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mormoninout/ The purpose of the series is to present a serious dialogue between a believer and a former believer. So far there are three posts, all of which are really good. John has asked pointed, but fair, questions. Patrick has done an admirable job in answering. Here's hoping that Patrick also asks John some difficult questions.
For my 2-cents, I believe that this blog series has the potential to be ground-breakingly good. I am hopeful that John and Patrick can bring to light many great insights. And perhaps more importantly, I am hopeful that by just trying, they are providing a needed example of how we LDS can productively dialogue with those of different beliefs (especially former believers).
In the recent TribTalk Elder Oaks reminded us that there is an appeals process for disciplinary decisions. My understanding is John Dehlin will not be appealing.
I've never seen or heard of a successful disciplinary appeal where the First Presidency has overturned a stake decision. Has anyone ever heard, seen, experienced a successful DC appeal?