Coming Home

July 26, 2007 | 99 comments
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Summer, 2003: I was a wreck.

My sixth child was six months old, and I wasn’t even close to recovering from his birth and the trauma that followed: For him, lung failure and three weeks in the NICU. For me, a profound emotional and spiritual crisis. The combination of outward and inward events shook me hard. My testimony was intact, but I felt disconnected from it. Unmoored. All my usual connection points failed me: church meetings, scripture reading, even prayer.

Around this time I visited my friend Kylie Turley. She had recently received word that she had won Exponent II’s personal essay contest. Eager to read her piece, I asked for a copy of the magazine, took it home, and read it cover-to-cover, enthralled.

The issue was about grief. Essay after essay, poem after poem, women shared their experiences with death and loss in honest, vulnerable language. I had never before read such writing by Mormons. These women’s insights fed me–and so did the very reality of their collective voice.

And so, a few months later, when my distress was escalating instead of abating, I began to write. I had never written a personal essay before. I’m not sure I can describe the sensations of power and relief and enlightenment that filled me as I tried to pin down my experience with words. My first draft stunk (although I thought it was brilliant). After some crushing yet astute feedback from friends I revised the piece and submitted it to Exponent II, where it was accepted for publication as a co-winner in their essay contest.

I was elated. Yet by the time my piece was printed, I had some concerns. I had subscribed to ExII soon after reading the grief issue, and while I enjoyed much of what I read in the subsequent issues, there were pieces that didn’t sit well with me. Committed to exploring and celebrating the many facets of LDS womanhood, the magazine seemed particularly sympathetic to voices of women who were dissatisfied with Mormon culture, practice, even doctrine. I was sympathetic, myself. I had weathered an intense bout of feminism in years past and I remained sensitive to women’s issues. But I had made my peace, and I simply wasn’t interested in revisiting what were, for me, old questions. Furthermore, with a few exceptions, the women I most wanted to share my published essay with felt the same way. Some of them never struggled as women in a patriarchal church; others had had resolved their issues, or had found a satisfying way to live with the remaining questions. I felt stuck. I was grateful for ExII, honored to receive the award, eager to share–yet hesitant to hand out copies of the publication containing my work.

Shortly after the essay was published I had dinner with Kylie. A feminist who felt at home with ExII, she agreed with my assertion that there is large group of Mormon women who want to read insightful, probing writings about Mormon womanhood, but who do not want to read writings that question or criticize the establishment. We lamented the fact that there was no publication offering the former without offering the latter as well. We decided to start one of our own. And Segullah was born.

After much discussion, the small group of friends and friends-of-friends who had gathered for this purpose came up with an opening paragraph for our mission statement:

Segullah is a journal designed to encourage literary talent, provoke thought and promote greater understanding and faith among Latter-day Saint women. We publish insightful writings which explore life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values.

I knew from the start that using a term like “faithful perspective” would raise a lot of questions, and hackles. To some, the term smacks of elitism. But it is a crucial part of our mission statement. It is an assurance to potential readers that their core beliefs and values will not be challenged when they pick up our journal. And I think this assurance is what makes most of our readers willing to give us a try. Independent LDS publications have earned an edgy reputation for themselves amongst mainstream members. Some people who embrace these publications believe that all “thinking” Mormons should do the same. I strongly disagree.

What do we mean by “faithful perspective”? The key word, “faithful,” refers to attitude. One of our evaluation criteria is respect for the Church’s established doctrines, leadership and standards. Segullah is not the place to lament policy, criticize leaders, or spin doctrine. There are plenty of other venues for that. One of our primary purposes is to disprove the mainstream assumption that probing, thoughtful, “unofficial” Mormon writing must reflect doubt, disloyalty, or dissatisfaction with the Church.

Additionally, we expect submissions to reflect the hope in Christ which is the very heart of the gospel. Pieces don’t need to have “happily ever after” endings–in fact, we purposefully include pieces that don’t. But we are not interested in submissions that bleed and breed discouragement. And we heartily reject the intellectual/artistic bias against happiness. We are out to break new ground by providing joyful Mormon writing that avoids sentimentality.

We’ve received some criticism for setting ourselves up as judges of righteousness. I emphatically state that our editorial staff does not attempt to judge the righteousness of writers. We’re not here to separate the sheep from the goats, for Pete’s sake. We’re here to support standards that have been set by the Church leaders we’ve chosen to sustain as such.

Some might be surprised to know that our staff members cover a wide spectrum of social-political views. Some of us have bones to pick with Church policy and practice, some of us do not. We don’t all resonate with every piece that gets printed, either. We rely on group consensus to decide which submissions will add to the overall atmosphere we have set out to create. And each of us is committed to maintaining this unique space.

It’s not easy. We walk a thin line, trying to push the boundaries of mainstream LDS culture without alienating the women we most want to reach. That requires us to exclude dissonant voices from joining the discussion. And I will not apologize for that.

I continue to remain grateful for Exponent II. I enjoy reading much of what’s published there, and I am developing a warm cyberfriendship with Deborah, who runs their blog. I’m impressed with Deborah’s commitment to providing space for Mormon women to speak. I believe every Mormon, every woman, and every Mormon woman has the right to voice her thoughts and feelings, and to belong to a community she feels comfortable in.

A few weeks ago the Segullah staff held our first annual retreat. A dozen women–nearly half of our staff–gathered at a mountain cabin to meet and eat and talk and talk and talk. We shared favorite scriptures and passages of literature. We told all kinds of stories–wild, poignant, hilarious, sober. We confided hopes and fears. It was beyond delightful. Here were intelligent, articulate, talented women with all kinds of personalities and perspectives who were united in their commitment to Jesus Christ and their loyalty to his church. One woman looked around at the laughing crowd and said, “I feel like I’m home.”

And this is why we invest thousands of hours of precious discretionary time in Segullah: so that many others can feel the same way.

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99 Responses to Coming Home

  1. Deborah on July 26, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Make that Deborah who “helps” run the blog, and you are spot on.

    I know we’ve talked about this a little in private communique, but I’m glad you directly address the real or perceived relationship between these two publications up the relationship ( By way of background, this early ExII post describes my history with the Exponent II.)

    I first heard of Segullah several years ago, when it must have still been in embryo stage. An old college friend mentioned that there was talk of starting an “alternative to Exponent II.” Her tone of voice was not warm toward ExII, and I wish I had spoken up and said “But I love that paper — it’s really important to my relationship with the church.” But I didn’t. That was long before the blog. I wasn’t formally associated with the paper. But I immediately felt put off — almost slapped –as if a group of women that’d I’d probably be friends with were somehow sitting in judgment and deciding to create a “more righteous” forum for women’s voices.

    Time passed. I forgot the exchange, I didn’t really look at the publication until y’all started the blog. Since I do a weekly round-up of LDS women’s voices on the web, I felt obligated to check it out. And mostly, I really really liked what I was reading. It wasn’t treacle or sentimental. It wasn’t moralistic. It wasn’t even trying to be women’s Ensign or a new “Relief Society Magazine.” It bothered me a little that I kept linking to your site and it wasn’t reciprocated, but mostly I was 1) impressed by the design 2) glad that there were MORE options for LDS women to tell their stories instead of less. Part of the reason I started e-mailing Kathy was to break down any lingering feeling of distrust I may have had. I am now happy to call her a friend, and I make Segullah part of my daily blog read.

    I am proud to be a part of the legacy of Exponent — I feel it when I open Emmeline Well’s biography, when I leaf through the “Pink” issue of Dialogue, and when I hear Claudia Bushman’s podcasts. As one-half of an interfaith couple and one of the few members in my family, it helps me stay anchored in the various worlds I inhabit. I also realize that the internet is providing new opportunities for women’s voices and we’d be foolish to feel threatened by this multiplication.

    I was born the month IWY came to town. The events of the 70s marked my mother’s generation, and I think some wounds still fester. I would hope that their daughters could do better, that — even by blog-hopping and sharing these conversations — we can focus less on dividing lines and more on active sisterhood. But then, I’m always the optimist.

    So I’m glad Segullah is around, I’m glad ExII is around, glad FMH found traction, that Z’s daughters have room to expound, and that we don’t have to break down doors to visit each other.

  2. Deborah on July 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Yes, I know I have some typos — but I’m on the run today . . .

  3. Steve Evans on July 26, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Deborah: “So I’m glad Segullah is around, I’m glad ExII is around, glad FMH found traction, that Z’s daughters have room to expound, and that we don’t have to break down doors to visit each other.”

    AMEN.

  4. Kaimi Wenger on July 26, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Interesting post, Kathy. Thanks for the background on Segullah.

    I had a question. I appreciate the forum that Segullah provides for LDS women. I appreciate the fact that it is sufficiently innocuous that it is unlikely (one hopes) to be viewed as apostate or heretical.

    But often, it seems, discussions along those lines end up implicitly criticizing other forums. The message, intended or not, seems to be: “We’re just like ExII, but more faithful.” And possibly implicit in that, is the statement, “we’re _better_ than ExII, because we have different norms.”

    I don’t think this is the view of any particular Segullah-ite. But it strikes me as one possible (and potentially problematic) way to view the interaction.

    And even if that’s not intended, statements might be viewed that way — because so much of Mormon social interaction is passive-aggressive I’m-more-righteous-than-you nonsense, for example — and so that method way of framing may trigger defensive responses from Exponent supporters.

    Which makes me wonder: Is there a way to say your message (“this is our niche: women’s writing, but a little less edgy and less critical”) without opening it up to implied criticism of Exponent II (and Dialogue, Sunstone, etc.)?

  5. Kevin Barney on July 26, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I didn’t even know a journal named Segullah existed until I read about it here. If anyone is interested, I blogged once about that Hebrew word, here:

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2006/07/a-peculiar-people/

  6. Kaimi Wenger on July 26, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    And I should add that, like Deborah, I’m also glad that ZDs, X2, FMH, and Segullah exist. I love reading posts and comments at the many nacle blogs run by intelligent, interesting, articulate women.

  7. Adam Greenwood on July 26, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Breaking doors down is great, provided we want the two sides to mix. We don’t always even want them to mix when we’re talking about people, though this is rarer. But when we’re talking about viewpoints, its even more problematic.

  8. Deborah on July 26, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    “Two sides?” My goodness. How about seven or eight or fifty-three . . . You want to raise my blood pressure, just keep talking about dividing sisterhood into “sides.”

  9. Adam Greenwood on July 26, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    You just can’t get around some differences. If I believe that viewpoint X is outside acceptable limits, and you don’t, then calling for me to treat viewpoint X as if it were within those acceptable limits isn’t a call for mutual tolerance or sisterhood or whatever, its a call for me to abandon my viewpoint. Creating a journal that’s “more faithful” is only a problem if you disagree that its more faithful. Talking about exclusion, tolerance, diversity, the wonderful mixing of viewpoints, and so on, only obscures the issue in an ad hominem way.

  10. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    First: Deborah. You are amazing. Thank you.

    We have had many debates about what kind of association to foster with other independent publications, especially ExII. When Segullah was first born it was critical to remain separate from those pubs. that mainstream readers have come to distrust. Otherwise we couldn’t get anywhere. I felt the unfairness of receiving so much support from you without reciprocating, and I figured you did too, much more so. I started half a dozen emails to you about it, but never finished them (my bad).

    Because our primary audience is women who are new to independent territory, or who have ventured elsewhere and been disappointed, we are careful about what we endorse/recommend. Our staff is divided on some points in this regard. But we are actively looking for ways to build bridges that won’t sabotage our purposes. Deborah, I’m grateful you accepted the invitation to guest blog in our neck of the woods, and that you have been so gracious to Segullah (and me).

    Kaimi:
    Is there a way to say your message (”this is our niche: women’s writing, but a little less edgy and less critical”) without opening it up to implied criticism of Exponent II (and Dialogue, Sunstone, etc.)?/

    Yes and no. If the origins of Segullah had nothing to do with ExII, I wouldn’t bring it up. But I felt that it was dishonest to neglect that part of the story. ExII inspired the creation of Segullah. I can’t think of a way to say why we created a new journal without implying that we found something lacking in ExII. The truth is, I did.

    But here’s the thing. The issue I had/have with ExII is the same issue that some ExII readers have with Segullah: it excludes some women from participating. And I think any conscientious member of that community would see my point. ExII is not for everyone.

    I think it’s a point of pride for ExII, Dialogue, and Sunstone that they publish edgy stuff. That’s part of their very purpose–to say things other publications won’t say. So while I’m committed to not slinging mud, I don’t see the point of ignoring this aspect of the equation. I do see that my post raises the uncomfy question: do I think these pubs. say things they shouldn’t say? Yes and no. I definitely disagree with a significant amount of what is said. But I don’t think people should be stopped from saying it.

    I am sympathetic to Deborah’s initial reaction (the slap in the face) and the reactions of other women who embrace ExII. I have stewed and fretted about that inevitable connotation to what we’re doing. I can’t blame anyone for feeling defensive. But my primary concern has been the women who so need a publication like Segullah. I refused to let the the trickiness, and even danger, of setting boundaries stop us from moving forward.

    I think it’s easy for readers of the “edgy mags” to assume that the media wants/needs of the rest of us are met through Church channels. This is not the case. A person can be at peace with patriarchy, the Proclamation on the family, church policy on SSM, and a dozen other things that are often targeted in other pubs., and still feel lonely in the Church. There are so many women who are looking for discussion that goes deeper, gets more personal, and takes more risks than what we get in the ultra-careful (for good reason) official publications. Their needs are just as significant as those of women who need a place to sound off, to express dismay, to question authority, etc. And women looking for this latter kind of discourse already have multiple forums to participate in. I don’t want to point fingers, draw battle lines, or anything of the sort. I do want to maintain a space where women like myself feel fully at home.

    I favor frank discussion over skirting the issues.

  11. Kaimi Wenger on July 26, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I think it depends on the claim made, Adam G.

    If a journal says, “we’re going to publish within certain ground rules,” that’s fine. They will only publish 40-page bluebooked articles about securities law. This is the audience they seek. It’s fine to say, “we will only publish securities law articles.” And maybe another journal will publish pieces on contract law, or admin law.

    It becomes trickier if we assert, “all journals should only publish securities law” or “our journal is better than X, because they don’t publish securities law.”

    I’m all for Segullah reaching out, filling a niche for women who aren’t comfortable with Exponent II. If people want vanilla ice cream and the shop only has chocolate, open a new shop that sells vanilla.

    It becomes trickier if there is evangelizing going on. That is, if some Exponent II readers _want_ more Mormon women to become Exponent II readers, and to embrace the Exponent II ethos. The existence of Segullah, because it provides an alternative outlet, may be a roadblock for evangelizing Exponent to new readers. And vice versa.

  12. Rosalynde Welch on July 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Kathryn, again let me offer you my congratulations and admiration. I’m totally envious of your evident drive and energy. Sometime you’ll have to let me know how you do it.

    Because this is the way I think about texts I take seriously, I noticed what seems to me a bit of a tension in your account of the origin and intent of Segullah. Your description of its inception sounds very much like an entrepreneur who notices an unoccupied niche in the market: you saw an opportunity to provide something that consumers want. This position takes you entirely out of the moral economy that Kaimi invokes above: you’re not making any value judgments about the various venues for LDS women, you’re simply providing another choice on the menu that some customers prefer.

    A little later, though, you suggest that the intent of Segullah is to “walk a thin line, trying to push the boundaries of mainstream LDS culture without alienating the women we most want to reach.” This gives a very different account of the purpose of Segullah: here it sounds like you have an ideological vision of an ideal LDS culture, and you’re trying to use Segullah as an instrument gently to achieve that vision. This, of course, would put you squarely within that necessarily contentious moral economy that Kaimi and Adam evoke.

    I don’t know which approach is first for you, and I don’t know which approach is best. I wonder how long they can both work together, though.

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Kaimi:

    Nobody on Segullah’s staff feels competition with ExII–and I suspect the same is true from the other end.

    There’s a lot of overlap in what we’re doing. Many women who love ExII will enjoy Segullah, and vice versa. Some will only feel comfortable in one of the two forums. Most, I suspect, have a “home base” and make periodic ventures elsewhere. This is all as it should be, imo.

    I can’t imagine that the existence of Segullah would stop anybody from enjoying/subscribing to ExII, who would have if we never came around. I think that any woman who chooses to submit a poem or essay to Segullah instead of ExII has a legitimate reason to do so, a reason that most, if not all, of the members of the ExII community would respect.

    Rosalynde, more later.

  14. Adam Greenwood on July 26, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    #11, #12, right on.

    The thing with Mormon journals is that their niches are inevitably tied up with viewpoints, and viewpoints aren’t often morally neutral like icecream flavors can be.

  15. Adam Greenwood on July 26, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    “walk a thin line, trying to push the boundaries of mainstream LDS culture without alienating the women we most want to reach.”

    I suspect I’m misunderstanding you, because this sounds kinda subversive.

  16. Deborah on July 26, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Per Kathy’s #12. I tend to view it as a Venn diagram.

    And none of us are making a living off of this . . . Mormon journals are labors of love.

  17. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Adam (#15) I’ll amend that. We’re definitely out to push some boundaries. Would you ever find a poem about a boob job in the Ensign?

    But there are some boundaries that we refuse to push. I think I’ve made those pretty clear, but I’ll elaborate if necessary.

  18. Kaimi Wenger on July 26, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Kathryn,

    Based on that example, is it that Segullah seeks to push _cultural_ boundaries (i.e., that women shouldn’t talk lightly about boobs) while avoiding any direct _doctrinal_ clashes (such as on same-sex marriage)?

  19. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Yep. Like I said before, “push the boundaries of mainstream LDS culture.” But I think the way I positioned that statment in my post gave it undue emphasis. Kylie and I didn’t sit down and say, “Hey, let’s shake things up!” Our purpose is, as stated, to “encourage literary talent, provoke thought, and promote greater understanding and faith.” Pushing boundaries is a by-product of this. And there are plenty of cultural boundaries we don’t touch.

  20. anon on July 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    So I\’m confused: Are we supposed to be cool with boob talk, or not?

  21. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Segullah is cool with boob talk. I don’t know about anybody else.

    We published an essay about breast reduction:
    http://segullah.org/spring2007/wonder

    and a poem about breast augmentation: http://segullah.org/spring2007/angelsofmercy

  22. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Rosalynde (12) I fully admit I’m smack in the middle of that moral-economy thing.

    In my post I said I hesitated to pass out copies of ExII because some of the contents “didn’t sit well with me.”

    In #10 I said this:

    I do see that my post raises the uncomfy question: do I think these pubs.[eg Exii] say things they shouldn’t say? Yes and no. I definitely disagree with a significant amount of what is said. But I don’t think people should be stopped from saying it.

    Is Segullah trying to bring about social change in the Church? Yes, but within very limited parameters. There are no policies, principles, doctrines, standards, etc that we are trying to change. But we are trying to make it more acceptable for women to talk about being women, to discuss our behind-the-scenes efforts to live the gospel, to cast aside the “church face” and be more real with each other.

    We especially want to expand the typical notion of what a faithful (loyal-to-establishment) Mormon woman is like. We’re a colorful bunch–but most of us don’t know that.

    Ask me more questions if I didn’t answer your previous ones.

  23. anon on July 26, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Worst. Boob magazine. Ever.

  24. Jacob on July 26, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    I think most men are also comfortable with boob talk, but they tend not to participate due to highly probable miscommunication, which usually ends in some form of punishment from the women in their lives.

  25. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    anon (23)–huh? Oh, because we didn’t include photos?

    Jacob (24)–heh!

  26. EmilyCC on July 26, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for this post, Kathy. I appreciate hearing more about Segullah’s history and mission.

    I’ll admit when I first heard about Segullah, I felt a little hurt. Segullah came out at a time when the X2 board was trying to figure out ways to appeal to a broader group of Mormon women because there was (is) the perception that X2 women are not faithful, too critical, etc. I thought, “Why didn’t these women want to join up with us? Don’t they know we’re trying to do the same thing (publish Mormon women’s stories and experiences)?” But, as I became familiar with Segullah, I’ve come to enjoy the paper (and now the blog) and admire what you have done. With the bloggernacle, I’ve learned that different publications and blogs make different people feel comfortable–I’m glad to have so many choices.

    Adam, I, too, am concerned with the perception that there are a) two sides and b) shouldn’t mix. I don’t understand how I ask (or am asked) to abandon my viewpoint when I dialogue with someone with viewpoints differ from mine.

  27. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 26, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Emily, thank you. Yet another example of graciousness. I am touched.

    And Deborah (#16): perfect. That’s the exact image I have in my mind–two circles overlapping.

  28. Adam Greenwood on July 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    I, too, am concerned with the perception that there are a) two sides and b) shouldn’t mix.

    Its not a perception, and it only concerns me if I think the two sides should ‘mix.’

    I don’t understand how I ask (or am asked) to abandon my viewpoint when I dialogue with someone with viewpoints differ from mine.

    That depends on what your viewpoint is and the nature of the dialogue. Everyone–everyone–who calls for more dialogue and inclusion is actually comfortable with excluding some viewpoints from the dialogue. X2 doesn’t print misogynist rants and would be compromising their viewpoint if they did.

  29. X2 Dora on July 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Like Deborah and Kathryn, I think there’s more than enough room in the bloggernacle for many different points of view, and I’m glad that there are forums for different discussions. Yes, there are discussions that may be too controversial or too bland on either site, but it’s good to have it available. The readers can choose for themselves what they want to read and be involved in. The way I tend to break it down, X2 has the links to the magazine, and we do a lot of current stuff: cultural or political. ZD has a much more academic tone. And FMH seems to do a lot with LDS culture and mother/wife-hood. I’d be interested in how others would characterize the different feminist blogs.

  30. Ray on July 26, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    I introduced my wife to the bloggernacle shortly after I found it, but I introduced her to different sites than those I frequent most often. (Sorry, any of you who wish she and I would switch sites.) After 25 years, I know her well enough to understand what environment would be a good starting point. There is one blog that is geared primarily to practical issues of motherhood that she loves; there is another that is a bit eclectic that she reads regularly; there is Segullah – a blog that inspires and touches her heart. I introduced her to the first one; she chose the other two after sampling many that were linked on the first one. She skims those on which I focus whenever there is a thread I think she will enjoy, but she has no interest in much of what is discussed there.

    My wife is extremely bright, but she isn’t interested at all in intellectual debate or cutting-edge theological discussion. In a few years that might change, but not now. Segullah fits her perfectly, in connection with the other two sites. A Venn Diagram describes it perfectly for her.

  31. Sonny on July 26, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Kathryn,

    I applaud you whole-heartedly. My wife, I believe, is exactly the type of LDS woman you feel would read your publication. While incredibly bright and talented (she puts me to shame in so many areas), she would definitely feel uncomfortable reading publications that openly lament church policies and challenge church authorities and positions. Not only would she feel uncomfortable, she would avoid it. Having said that, she would appreciate discussion on issues that effect LDS women–discussion that does not fall into the categories I just listed.

  32. Heather O. on July 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Let me first say that I think Deborah and Kathryn are two of the most amazing people on the planet. I have known the former for years, and have been blessed by our association. I feel confident that the same thing will be true with the latter.

    I also appreciate how Rosalynde put it–that Kathryn, like any good entrepreneur (sp?) found a gap, and did what she could to fill it. As I see it(and please correct me, ladies, if you think I am off base) both publications/blogs are united in one goal: to provide a forum where woman are comfortable talking about things that may not be easily expressed somewhere else. My understanding of why Segullah was created is not because they felt that Exponent was unimportant, or didn’t serve a purpose. Exponent’s parameters are simply ones that Kathryn didn’t feel comfortable with. Thus Segullah exists with different parameters, which do not include calling into question mainstream Mormon doctrine.

  33. Kristine on July 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    “mainstream Mormon doctrine”

    Aye, there’s the rub. Who gets to decide what is “mainstream doctrine”? Simple example: President Hinckley lauds his nurse, who works while she has children at home; President Benson (and others, including current apostles) teach that women should not work for pay unless they must. What, exactly, is the “mainstream” doctrinal position? For an article in Segullah, am I allowed to cite President Hinckley’s talk as justification for my contention that women should prayerfully make their own decisions about employment, as long as I don’t _explicitly_ contradict President Benson? Or can I point out that the two talks are in tension, as long as I don’t take a position on which one is right? And, is this a cultural or a doctrinal issue?

    I believe that the issues that divide women in the church are largely issues of style, rather than of substance, and it pains me to see different styles of rhetoric becoming grounds for a breach in the body of Christ. I long for a church where there are no Ensign-ites, Exponent-ites, Segullah-ites or any manner of -ites, and I think the multiplication of “niches” is potentially very dangerous.

  34. Heather O. on July 26, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    “I think the multiplication of “niches” is potentially very dangerous”

    Why? Do you really think that would separate women more?

  35. Heather O. on July 26, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    And, Kristine, though I don’t dare do this often, I will have to disagree with you about what divides women. I don’t think it is issues of style. I believe that women who do not identify themselves with those who call themselves feminists and call for changes in a patriachal church feel directly threaten by those who do, and vice versa. I suppose you can have a semantic debate about what is style, but I think there are more fundamental divisions that exist.

  36. Seth R. on July 26, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Just responding to the original post:

    Sometimes, I can see a similar thing happening to me with the bloggernacle. It seems that, at a certain point, you get the controversies out of your system and you just don’t feel up to yet another diatribe about correlation.

    I’m not done with this community yet. But I can see it happening down the road if I don’t find a way to transform how I interface with it.

  37. Kristine on July 26, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Heather, you should dare more often; I’m very often wrong. I agree that at the edges of the bell curve, there are truly fundamental differences that are threatening. However, as President Kimball, Elder Ballard, and many others have pointed out, most women in the Church want the same thing–to feel valued as partners in the work and to have their concerns and ideas heard. I think I’m acquainted (at least via their writing) with most of the vocal feminists in the church, and I can name on my fingers (and maybe toes, too) the number of women who “call for changes in a patriarchal church”, at least for changes (like women’s ordination) that would clearly require new revelation. Most of the differences between feminists and “not a feminist, but…” women in the church are differences of opinion about how best to have women’s voices heard. There are significant differences of opinion about means, but I think that most women in the church have very similar ideas about the real goals.

    I could well be wrong, but I remain optimistic.

  38. Emily M. on July 26, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    I love Segullah. I started to write more because I wanted to be published there. Then Kathy, bless her, asked me to be on the staff. It’s been so good for me to be able to work with these women. I truly feel at home with them. I also feel like we offer a valuable service to women who want to tell their stories, to share their voices.

    I began my association with Segullah unfamiliar with Exponent II. I’d heard of it before, and thought of it as “one of those feminist things.” When people on the staff recommended ExII’s blog to me, and I read the radical Mormon feminist manifesto, I was pretty shocked (I’m new to the bloggernacle). I was not interested in spending much time there. But Kathy and others continued to speak highly of the ExII blog, and so I checked it out some more, and found moving and interesting writing. Our Venn diagram overlapped much more than I realized at first. So you could say that associating with Segullah led me to better understand the ExII perspective. In that sense, Kristine, the fragmentation actually served to help me appreciate different perspectives better. I would not have found ExII on my own, or even read it on my own. Segullah led me to it. That may not be the case with everyone, but it was my experience, and I’m grateful for it.

    I think if people choose to be offended, they can find reasons to back up their hurt feelings: ExII people can say that the Segullah crowd is self-righteous and judgmental, Segullah people can say that the ExII people don’t think we are open or tolerant enough. I appreciate the graciousness of Deborah and EmilyCC, in choosing not to take offense where none is intended.

  39. Emily M. on July 26, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    We both want to serve the women of the church, and that’s a good thing.

  40. Nate Oman on July 26, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    “Aye, there’s the rub. Who gets to decide what is “mainstream doctrine”?”

    Here is the answer [tic]

  41. EmilyCC on July 26, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Well said, Heather in #32!

    Thank you, Emily M. I think you articulate the mission we both share perfectly in #39.

  42. RahRah on July 27, 2007 at 1:14 am

    When I go to the bookstore to get a magazine about beading, I have at least seven to ten publications to choose from. I choose different ones each time depending on my mood or what I\’m needing at the time. It should be the same with LDS women\’s magazines. I don\’t even understand the necessity of having a discussion over this. Yeah! We have a few alternatives! Let\’s celebrate, grab some bonbons and read, read, read!

  43. Beijing on July 27, 2007 at 8:43 am

    “weathered an intense bout of feminism and I remained sensitive to women’s issues”

    You describe feminism like it’s an unfortunate malady. Like weathering an intense bout of migraines and remaining sensitive to light and sound.

  44. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 9:43 am

    X2 Dora (29):
    Yes. It’s kinda like being in a group of women with different strengths, viewpoints, and personalities. You’ll choose which ones to interact with based on your wants and needs at the moment, and your mood. And there might be a few that you just don’t get along with, so you simply opt out of their company.

    Ray (30) and Sonny (31):
    Hooray!

    Heather (32):
    Yes. Thank you. Although I want to emphasize that I wasn’t just trying to fill a market niche–I was trying to create a niche for myself as well. I’m certainly not a disinterested entrepreneur. *smile*

    Kristine (33):
    What do you define as the body of Christ? What do you see as the cause of breaches therein? And what do you see as the solution?

    Seth (36):
    “you get the controversies out of your system”–yes.

    Kristine (37):
    I agree that most Mormon women want “to feel valued as partners in the work and to have their concerns and ideas heard.” But I also agree with Heather (35) that the differences in ways and means are not benign matters of style/approach. You say there are “significant” differences–would you agree that some differences are significant enough to warrant some women from choosing not to “hang out” with others?

    I think the reason why many women choose not to participate in the ExII community is the fact that sustaining Church leaders and following Church policy/practice are not considered givens. Can you really expect women who disagree on that point to feel comfy with each other in forums where discussion of such matters is one of the main purposes?

    On a side note: You may be acquainted with the all of the relatively few pushing-for-fundamental-change feminists who publish themselves as such, but I believe there are many other women who are dissatisfied with the established order of things, and not all of them would agree with you that ordaining women would require revelation.

    Nate (40):
    Very interesting. Although reading your paper made me glad I’m not a lawyer.

    And back to Kristine (33):

    The Segullah staff certainly doesn’t consider ourselves the gatekeepers of Church doctrine. As Nate pointed out, doctrine is a slippery thing. But if a submission comes in with an element that seems unusual or completely unsubstantiated, we discuss it and sometimes ask for changes. For example, we had a submission wherein the author said her children chose her as a mother premortally. We asked her to qualify that with a “might have.”

    Doctrine has rarely been an issue. The times it has been, it’s come in the form of an underlying assumption that manifests itself in the writing rather than a direct assertion. And in each of these cases, we’ve found ourselves asking for the opposite kinds of changes some people might assume. We asked for a major revision on an essay that implied that women should make martyrs of themselves.

    We would look very, very carefully at a doctrinal article that focused on a controversial issue such as women choosing to work outside the home. A lot would hinge on the purpose and tone of the piece rather than the sources cited.

    Rah rah (42):
    Thanks for your enthusiasm!

    And finally

    Beijing (43)

    Ha! I see what you mean. And that’s not what I meant to mean.

    Sensitivity to women’s issues was not an unfortunate side effect of being an intense feminist. My interest and concern came way before my feminism, and will last forever. But feminism, as I understood it/experienced it, was only a temporary home for me.

  45. ECS on July 27, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Hi, Kathryn,

    I’ve enjoyed your posts here – and then I clicked over to your blog. Excellent writing, powerful topics. Thanks very much for sharing your experiences with us.

    I have a question about this quote from your response to Kristine:

    “Can you really expect women who disagree on that point to feel comfy with each other in forums where discussion of such matters is one of the main purposes?”

    Are you saying here that unless we feel comfortable with an expressed (or implied) viewpoint or position we shouldn’t attempt to engage in a (respectful) dialogue about the subject?

  46. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 10:48 am

    ECS (45). Thanks!

    And to answer your question:

    No. I think respectful dialogue is great. That’s why I did this post. And that’s why Deborah and I are planning a blogged discussion along these lines as soon as we find the time.

    I think there’s much room for improvement regarding the way women with different viewpoints think about/talk about/behave toward each other. I’ve contributed to the problem myself.

    But just because dialogue is good doesn’t mean women are duty-bound to read/appreciate ExII or Segullah or any other independent pub.

  47. ECS on July 27, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Oh, absolutely. We _are_ duty-bound, however, to build a community with our fellow Saints (whether this applies to online communities is of course a matter of intense debate :)

    Thanks for this post. I’ve wondered how Segullah and ExII felt about each other, and I’m so glad to hear that the relationship between the two blogs has become productive and supportive.

  48. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 11:45 am

    We _are_ duty-bound, however, to build a community with our fellow Saints.

    Absolutely. And every member of the community is responsible for doing their part to make that happen.

    This is why I asked Kristine to clarify her remarks about the body of Christ (#33). If there are schisms in the church proper, if we’re lacking the respectful community that we’re duty-bound to create and maintain as brothers and sisters in the gospel, what are the causes and the solutions?

    And how do independent pubs. figure in to this scenario? I don’t think that having multiple forums for LDS women means that we don’t/can’t care for each other as sisters. We can go to church together, visit teach each other, have charity for each other, and still not prefer to spend our discretionary time with each other.

  49. X2 Dora on July 27, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Rereading the piece and comments, I have a few more thoughts and questions …

    “And we heartily reject the intellectual/artistic bias against happiness.”

    Is this a prevalent preconception? Do “mainstream Mormons” perceive “edgy/intellectual/artistic Mormons” as miserable? Do “E/I/A Mormons” actually feel miserable?

    “Some of us have bones to pick with Church policy and practice, some of us do not. We don’t all resonate with every piece that gets printed, either. We rely on group consensus … That requires us to exclude dissonant voices from joining the discussion … I believe every Mormon, every woman, and every Mormon woman has the right to voice her thoughts and feelings.”

    These statements seem very inconsistent. If the writers who have bones to pick outnumbered the ones without bones, would different articles be published? Or do the bony writers just assume that their issues aren’t going to be discussed at Segullah? It sounds like you are very selective about which articles are published. How does the selection process work on the blog? Does excluding dissonant voices also extend to excluding dissonant voices on the blog comments? How does that fit in with women’s rights to voicing thoughts and feelings?

    This is not to say that the X2 women always agree either. There are plenty of times when we have differing views on policy, doctrine, and how they are represented on our blog. However, our goal has been to show a range of ideas, and to encourage our readers to explore and define their own beliefs. Think of us as the Mormon equivalent of “The View.” Occassionally we will delete a comment, but it’s rare.

    Lastly, I find it interesting and laudable that you’re creating something to fill a void that you feel at church. Are there other ways, within the context of the established church, that you are trying to bridge the gap between current church talk about women, and how women find meaningful communication between themselves? What are the Segullah women doing, that you can recommend, to improve the way women communicate and share experiences in your own wards and stakes? Has it been successful?

  50. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Do “mainstream Mormons” perceive “edgy/intellectual/artistic Mormons” as miserable? Do “E/I/A Mormons” actually feel miserable?

    I didn’t mean to single Mormons out on this particular point. I think the current general trend in literature runs dark. And while expressing deep emotion of any kind is perhaps the greatest challenge in writing, I think it’s easier to write miserable art than joyful art. That’s one reason why the overtly happy writing out there tends to be “chicken soup-y,” low on the artistic scale. Also, to make a gross generalization, I think it’s considered hip to be unhappy. And I do think that holds true to some extent in Mormon intellectual circles. Edgy writing is born of discontent.

    If the writers who have bones to pick outnumbered the ones without bones, would different articles be published? Or do the bony writers just assume that their issues aren’t going to be discussed at Segullah?

    The bony writers respect the boundaries that have been set and do their picking elsewhere. They understand the value of having a space where mainstream readers won’t feel threatened, and they’re eager to help the staff maintain a balance of editorial viewpoints.

    It sounds like you are very selective about which articles are published.

    When I responded to Kristine’s query I was referring to doctrinal or theological essays that are out to prove a certain ideological point. Yes, we would be very picky about those if they’re about a controversial topic. We are picky about the personal essays we publish, but for a wide variety of reasons, chief of which is the quality of the writing. So far we have not rejected any personal essay on ideological grounds, although we have asked for revisions and clarifications.

    How does the selection process work on the blog? Does excluding dissonant voices also extend to excluding dissonant voices on the blog comments?

    We have covertly deleted one comment on our blog from an ex-Mormon ranting about how the church is a cult. We’ve deleted a few other comments that violated our commenting policy, but we replaced those comments with notices explaining why they had been removed.

    We certainly wouldn’t appreciate someone coming to our blog with the intention of starting a fight. That would be rude.

    I can’t delineate specifics about what kinds of posts we would disallow. Generally speaking, commentors are welcome to share personal opinions with the intent of raising awareness of a different point of view, in a way that does not attack the views of the poster and the other commentors.

    How does that fit in with women’s rights to voicing thoughts and feelings?

    People have a right to say whatever they want–but they should respect the guidelines established by the forum they choose to speak within. If they’re not willing to frame their remarks within those parameters, they should speak elsewhere.

    Great questions, Dora.

  51. Kristine on July 27, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    “We can go to church together, visit teach each other, have charity for each other, and still not prefer to spend our discretionary time with each other.”

    Here’s the thing: if you were my visiting teacher, I would know that there were certain thoughts that I should not voice to you. It seems to me that the notion that we can exclude some women from speaking their ideas in one forum will of necessity spill into other forums. We can rely on geographical accidents to help us compartmentalize our intellectual lives, I suppose, but not forever. Sooner or later, you will be a visiting teacher to someone who has published in ExII. She will know the precise limits of your charity towards hearing her ideas. She will know that you would not “choose to spend discretionary time” with her That is a schism in the body of Christ.

    And just to be clear that this goes both ways–if I publish in ExII, sooner or later I will visit teach someone who finds ExII threatening or unpleasant. If I have not “hung out” with smart, conservative women like those who write for Segullah, I’m at great risk of falling into the liberal Mormon trap of thinking that women who choose to insulate themselves from such views are less educated or less sophisticated than I, and she will know that and be guarded. If I have been unwilling to read and seriously consider her views, or those views she finds sympathetic, I will have placed a stumbling block on our path to sisterhood.

    I believe that the hyper-niched marketplace of ideas in the broader U.S. culture has spilled over into the church in very ugly ways–people who get in the habit of not reading things they disagree with are in danger of forgetting how to read critically, and falling into the trap of trusting whatever comes from their chosen source of information because they are comfortable with its general ideology. The spillover of this into church is evident in the reaction of people to “The Mormons”–many, many Mormons I’ve spoken to were extremely discomfited by not having the speakers labeled as “pro-” or “anti-” Mormon, finding the process of critically evaluating speech on its merits too difficult or threatening, somehow not “comfy.” I’ve had to correct multiple people on their inference that Bushman and Flake were somehow disaffected because they didn’t have a BYU label, or some explicit identification as faithful Mormons. I think it would be great if Sunstone and Dialogue and Exponent regularly discomfited ALL of their readers, so that we would all remember how to read and think and exercise our powers of discerning truth, regardless of its source.

  52. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I don’t think that line of reasoning cuts it, KHH. In essence, you’re arguing that the viewpoint that sees some viewpoints as impermissible is impermissible because that viewpoint will make its holders less friendly or sympathetic to the people who hold those viewpoints. But unless you think that the only principle that defines Mormon sisterhood is ‘we love you if your chromosones are XX,’ than you have to concede that thinking that some principles are not Mormon is acceptable. So all you’re left with is that you think the folks who don’t like X2 are wrong about the principles that define Mormonism and you think that folks at X2 are right.

  53. ECS on July 27, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Adam – It’s not about who holds a “right” or a “wrong” viewpoint, but whether we can talk to one another constructively and respectfully. Segregating ourselves from those who believe differently but who are willing to respectfully engage in dialogue about their divergent viewpoints damages our Church community.

  54. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Kristine (51):

    She will know that you would not “choose to spend discretionary time” with her. That is a schism in the body of Christ.

    I disagree. If I refused to be her visiting teacher, to sit next to her in RS, to bring her a meal in a time of need, that would be a schism. If I refused to read her essay in ExII at her request, that might be a schism. But if I don’t want to read ExII as a matter of course, that is not a schism. The body of Christ is the church, not spinoff publications controlled by a few of its members.

    I would imagine that all of us feel constrained regarding what we share with our visiting teachers, especially at first. But if two women have formed a close relationship through visiting teaching, and they can share confidences about various kinds of personal struggles, yet they can’t bear to hear each other’s differing viewpoints on, say, patriarchal authority, then they’ve got a problem. Respectful listening is a requirement of charity.

    But I don’t think “I’m okay/you’re okay” is a requirement of charity. I can love someone that I think is wrong on a particular point. If she’s offended that I think she’s wrong, yet my thinking-she’s-wrong doesn’t affect my interaction with her in church settings (or my willingness to engage in dialogue with her in a forum like this), whose fault is that?

    I agree that there are dangers to pigeonholing. But I certainly don’t think pigeons should be forced out of their holes. Should ExII be required reading for all LDS women, so that we can better understand each other?

  55. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    “Segregating ourselves from those who believe differently but who are willing to respectfully engage in dialogue about their divergent viewpoints damages our Church community.”

    Avoiding fora that tolerate or promote unacceptable viewpoints is not segregation. Your real beef is that you don’t think that X2 is such a fora, I warrant.

    I think its indicative that some of the people who are upset that some Mormon women don’t want to read X2 have gotten pretty ferocious about views I’ve expressed before. There wasn’t much sympathy, understanding, or appreciation, though I believe the obligation to have fellowship is one that applies to all Mormons, not just women. But that doesn’t mean these people are close-minded or are opposed to fellowship. They thought that my views were antithetical to the ideals of our fellowship, and I can understand that.

  56. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Respectful listening is a requirement of charity.

    I agree, and I think I understand where you’re going with this. But in a less than perfect world, sometimes what we don’t talk about is as important to a relationship as what we do talk about. None of us has perfect charity.

  57. ECS on July 27, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Adam – I don’t have a “beef” here. I like both Segullah and ExII.

  58. Melanie on July 27, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I think “friends” and “visiting teachers/teachees” are different categories, and that’s OK. I would even say that’s one of the wonderful aspects of visiting teaching–namely, that it gets me out of my circle of friends, who tend to share my general perspective on the gospel. Certainly friends can visit teach each other, and many visiting teaching assignments grow into a deeper friendship, but it’s also very possible to have a charitable, beneficial relationship that does not require a best-friends-share-all-our-deepest-secrets attitude.

    Yes, there are some people I choose to avoid in my discretionary time out of a moral judgment–I don’t want to be around their actions/language/attitude/etc. But most of the world is made up of people I simply don’t seek out because we just don’t click and get along in the way that I do with my closest friends. I don’t think the choice to have a relatively small circle of intimates necessarily makes me a bad person. Isn’t that why we go on dates and job interviews? With humanity’s infinite personalities and perspectives, it’s not surprising that we don’t all enjoy every interaction equally.

  59. Nate Oman on July 27, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    “She will know that you would not “choose to spend discretionary time” with her. That is a schism in the body of Christ.”

    Wow. Is the body of Christ similarly threatened if I choose not to read my Home Teacher’s scholarly articles on accounting? Did the body of Christ fall to pieces, when I decided to let my Sunstone subscription lapse, because I found the content boring and decided I would rather subscribe to the Economist instead? What about those schismatics who refuse to read all of my posts at T&S?

    This argument strikes me as a dog that won’t hunt (to speak good Tennessean).

  60. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    C’mon, Nate O. You’re not the Fred Thompson of the blogosphere. I’m the Fred Thompson of the blogosphere.

  61. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    “What about those schismatics who refuse to read all of my posts at T&S?”

    Nate, it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. To quote Luke Skywalker, “you ask the impossible.”

    It’s ironic (or entirely appropriate, I guess) that this topic of isolated communities would be debated within the confines of the Bloggernacle, which is itself fairly insular. All of us participate in private fora with guidelines of conduct and standards, written or unwritten. All bloggernacle admins have banned commenters, excised comments and posts and made editorial decisions. Some of us are more Stalinistic than others, but the demarcation of community boundaries continues nonetheless. We’re clearly within our rights to establish gated communities like ours, and obviously we feel it desirable to do so, or else T&S, BCC, FMH, etc. would not exist.

    Here’s a nicely pretentious thought question: what would Christ’s group blog look like? Assuming you can get past the mind-jarring idea of the Savior wasting his time posting on WordPress, everything about how He spent His time here suggests that He would spend most of his time amongst those that needed him the most, reaching out to those who hated him or were most desperate in need of His healing. He might be saddened at the way we exclude the confused or the lost under a guise of avoiding tough issues or keeping our community pure.

    Then again, he might appreciate us acting boldly in the name of truth, and love us for loving those who preach His word. Tricky guy, that Savior. Either way, I get itchy when people try to establish superiority on the basis of their personal righteousness, or on the basis of their personal “openness.” Neither form of pride strikes me as really justified. Besides, we all know it’s really about unique visitors per week.

  62. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    “Segregating ourselves from those who believe differently but who are willing to respectfully engage in dialogue about their divergent viewpoints damages our Church community.”

    From what ECS said in other comments, I think she meant that it would be wrong if, say, Deborah wanted to chat with me about Segullah and ExII or even just about things in general, and I refused because I thought she was too sinful for me to talk to. Or if Segullah promoted the attitude, *whisper whisper* don’t talk to THOSE women, they’re BAD. I think situations like these can have an adverse effect on the body of Christ, somewhat indirectly.

    Nate (59):

    Your examples are different, though. I’ve admitted that some of what’s in ExII is not only uninteresting to me, but in fact runs counter to my morals. And I think many of the women who have checked out ExII and decided it wasn’t for them included a moral judgment of some kind in their decision. I think I understand Kristine’s concern–making moral judgments against fellow Saints can be dangerous business. But sometimes not making them is just as dangerous.

    Adam, you get a gold star for using correct Latin. “Fora”– I never knew.

  63. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    I get itchy when people try to establish superiority on the basis of their personal righteousness, or on the basis of their personal “openness.”

    Steve, do you see that happening in this thread?

    (you get a gold star for Latin too)

  64. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Kathy, it’s possible. If we were all experts in self-analysis we’d see some withering and dark aspects in ourselves, to be sure. Heaven knows I see both of those trends near to the surface in myself and in some of the commenters out there. I am not familiar enough with you or Segullah to even attempt to apply the ‘itch-test’ to you or your group; but I can say that I have yet to see a community that doesn’t have some of those failings.

  65. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Adam, you get a gold star for using correct Latin. “Fora”– I never knew.

    You can’t spell pretentious without l-a-t-i-n.

  66. Ray on July 27, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    We live in an imperfect world, and we worship within imperfect congregations. We do our best to develop true charity, but we also maintain our individuality. Without our individuality, life would be a truly boring, tortuous experience.

    Let’s celebrate the unity that binds us together as congregations – and recognize that their is a diversity that causes the tensions we might eliminate in an “ideal” world AND a diversity that causes tensions we should NOT try to eliminate – differences that only cause tension because of our lack or true charity. Entirely eliminating our differences would turn us into a cult, and I don’t choose to attend an evangelical church for a reason. To echo Steve in a different way, I imagine Lucifer’s group blog wouldn’t tolerate differences at all, while Christ’s probably would exclude a few – since I doubt he would give much space to the promotion of lying and hypocrisy.

  67. Nate Oman on July 27, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Adam: The Tennessean in question is Kristine not Fred.

  68. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Are you suggesting that I’m the KHH of the Bloggernacle?

  69. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Kristine would probably have raised more campaign funds than Fred.

  70. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    In my opinion Lucifer’s group blog is just him and various sock puppets, and Christ’s group blog allows a diversity of opinion among the bloggers but in fact there isn’t any. The commenters and guest posts can be a little sketchy some times, though.

  71. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Steve (64) thanks for clarifying. I was concerned that I was coming off as (overly) smug. I admit to secret feelings of superiority, but I beat them into submission on a regular basis.

    At the same time, how would we ever make choices if we didn’t think some of them were superior to others? I’m thinking about parenting styles. I secretly think some of my parenting ways are better than my friends’ , but I don’t necessarily consider myself a better parent overall. Similarly, I think sustaining the prophet is morally superior to not sustaining the prophet. But can I consider myself more righteous than a person who doesn’t sustain the prophet? No, because righteousness is a state of being that can’t be broken down into tidy checklists.

  72. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Kathy, sustaining the prophet is likely morally superior to not sustaining the prophet. But is someone who sustains the prophet morally superior? That’s a tricky question, to be sure. In this scenario, it’s a novel question: is a forum that sustains the prophet morally superior? What does one do with moral superiority, anyways?

  73. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Is someone who sustains the prophet morally superior? Is a forum that sustains the prophet morally superior?

    I answer the same way I did in #71: I would say yes if we’re only talking about this particular point. But evaluating a person or a forum in a general sense (which is more righteous, Segullah or ExII?) just can’t be done on a point-by-point basis. In my opinion the moral value of any Mormon forum is determined by the extent to which it helps its participants come unto Christ. Segullah helps me come unto Christ more so than ExII, but that’s just me. I suspect when all is said and done, we’ll never know which journal did a greater amount of good for its readers. And that’s completely beside the point anyway.

    As Deborah once said to me, “We’re all at different places in our faith journey.” I believe ExII helps many women move forward in a way Segullah can’t. And as long as we’re moving forward, all is well.

  74. Ray on July 27, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    #70 – Brilliant, Adam.

  75. madera verde on July 27, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    After a quick skim I characterize the debate thusly:

    One side is saying, “I don’t read ExII because I feel my testimony is less challenged by doing so. I want a similar magazine with a lesser testimony challenging element.”
    The other side hears, “We are more righteous than you, worthless ExII readers. ExII is anti-testimony.”
    To which they respond, “In order to promote diversity and be charitable we should all read the same magazine(s). Why can’t you be more charitable/diverse?”
    Then the first side says, “You’re overly upset. That proves that I’m right and you’re wrong.”

    I await further “conversation leading to mutual understanding” with some anticipation.

  76. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    MV, that is indeed the product of a quick skim. Your summary sounds like trashcalls’.

  77. Kristine on July 27, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Just a couple of points, because I should be packing:

    1) “Sustain” is not a simple word, and I don’t think setting up a binary opposition between those who do sustain and those who don’t is sufficient as a criterion for judgment.

    2) There is a wide difference between thinking an argument is wrong, or an article is unfaithful, and refusing to engage with that argument or read the journal in which an offending article was published. There is also a wide difference between finding some articles in Exponent not to one’s liking and deciding to publish one’s own journal which is explicitly defined as more “faithful” than ExII.

    3) Nate, there’s a big difference between finding something boring and finding (and declaring) it unfaithful.

    I really like Segullah, and if having their own place makes these women more likely to write and publish, then I guess I’m glad, because I am as greedy for good writing by Mormon women as anyone. What I wish is that instead of withdrawing so quickly from ExII, that Kathy and others had engaged the things they found troubling there–letters to the editor, more submissions… If nothing else, I would think that having won a prize from ExII would suggest that one’s perspective was, in fact, welcome there. I’m not sure that there’s really enough energy in the Mormon intellectual community to sustain a multiplicity of publications–I *know* there isn’t enough money!

    I don’t have any answers. I dislike sitting in smug, self-congratulatory crowds of liberals pleased with their own openmindedness about exactly as much as I dislike sitting in smug, self-congratulatory crowds of conservatives pleased with their own orthodoxy. There’s not a lot of intellectual foment in groups that get too “comfy.”

  78. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    madera (75): Maybe the thread seems pointless to you, but it has been very helpful to me, and I think to others as well.

    I just realized I never answered Dora’s question from #49:

    Are there other ways, within the context of the established church, that you are trying to bridge the gap between current church talk about women, and how women find meaningful communication between themselves? What are the Segullah women doing, that you can recommend, to improve the way women communicate and share experiences in your own wards and stakes? Has it been successful?

    There’s no organized effort on our part. But I imagine our experience with Segullah naturally affects our interactions at church and elsewhere, though. I’m more interested in my church sisters than I used to be. I know they have stories, and I want to hear them. I find myself asking people about themselves more often, with more sincerity. I ask questions that encourage them to tell me more, to go deeper into the story. And I am more willing to be vulnerable in classroom settings now. l talk about struggles I’m having–in what I consider to be appropriate ways–because my work with Segullah reminds me how helpful it can be to hear about what other women are facing and how they manage.

    Nothing earth-shattering there. Thanks for the question–you’ve got me thinking. And tell me, Dora, what do you do to build community in your neck of the woods? What do the rest of you do? What do you think would help Mormon women be more charitable towards each other even if we have unreconcilable differences about some things?

  79. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    There is also a wide difference between finding some articles in Exponent not to one’s liking and deciding to publish one’s own journal which is explicitly defined as more “faithful” than ExII.

    What’s the difference, prithee?

    Either Segullah is more faithful than X2 or it isn’t. Either its OK to have a journal that’s more faithful than X2 or it isn’t. I don’t see how we can make any progress in this discussion until you explain what your view is on these points and why.

    P.S. I reread KLS’s post and it doesn’t seem that she explicitly defines Segullah as “more faithful than ExII.”

  80. Kathryn Lynard Soper on July 27, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Kristine,

    I’m learning a lot from your questions and answers. And I’m glad you like Segullah. Really glad.

    I appreciate you acknowledging that liberals and conservatives indulge in some of the same stupid judgmental behaviors. I agree. Smugness is never good.

    I agree that there’s probably not enough energy and definitely not enough money in the existing Mormon intellectual community to sustain a multiplicity of publications. You’re helping me to finally make a point about Segullah that I’ve failed to make thus far: We’re not out to divide the pie into more pieces. We’re out to make the pie bigger. We’re primarily appealing to women who aren’t already part of the Mormon intellectual community.

    I never claimed that Segullah is morally superior to ExII. I tried to explain in #73 that such a judgment can’t be made.

    Along those same lines–I didn’t intend to throw stones about the issue of sustaining the prophet. It probably wasn’t wise of me to use that as an example, given the fact that it’s an easy accusation that many mainstream women throw at feminists.

    I can see your point–why not try to enlarge the existing community rather than create a new one? I had a friend ask me that exact same question when Segullah was taking its first baby steps.

    Here’s what I said: ExII is here to serve Mormon women. So is Segullah. But our audiences and purposes are somewhat different–and, I’d say, significantly different. I don’t think one journal can serve everyone’s wants and needs at the same time. Do you?

    I think a neutral online forum that is for the express purpose of “meet and chat about Mormon women’s issues” would be great. By neutral I mean the only agenda is discussion, and the only criteria for participation is respectful discourse. But Segullah is not that forum per se, and neither is ExII–although either or both of us could purposefully set aside space within our forums for those kinds of discussions. And I think that’s an excellent idea.

  81. Deborah on July 27, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Steve wrote: “Besides, we all know it’s really about unique visitors per week.”

    In that case, FMH smacks us both down :)

  82. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    So they say, Deborah, so they say. But word on the street is that they double-count. I’m not kidding, either! Those cheating cheaters.

  83. Kristine on July 27, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    “Either Segullah is more faithful than X2 or it isn’t. ”

    Adam, do you have a Faith-O-Meter somewhere, so we could check?

  84. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Patent pending. Not available in stores.

  85. m&m on July 27, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Kathryn,
    I appreciate hearing how how and why Segullah came to be. I also think that the Venn diagram sums up the relationship nicely. I also think that the fact that you are working with Deborah on a joint effort suggests that you aren’t over in a corner playing the “who’s more righteous game.”

    Kristine, in light of this, I suspect that Kathryn probably agrees with you more than not. As you know, I, too, hope that there can be fewer corners and more coming together. But I also agree that this is something that is a responsibility of ALL of us to make happen. I frankly think, though, that the focus of blogging often makes that difficult, because 1) we often post our point of view that often won’t draw different points of view and may not always have the goal to bring opposing points of view in (which won’t always be a negative, IMO…there is sometimes value in “like-minded” people getting together to discuss without constantly having to bring assumptions to the surface). 1) happens in part because 2) often more like-minded people simply end up grouping together. It’s simply easier to blog that way.

    What I think the different viewpoints have the potential of doing is giving one exposure to different ideas, if one has that interest and takes the time (which often doesn’t happen, though). It’s part of the reason I have stuck around the ‘nacle as long as I have. I have had enough people cross my paths who see the world differently or have questions I never would have had myself that I have been grateful for greater understanding of such things. The last thing I would want is to get a visiting teachee who would feel she couldn’t express her concerns to me, regardless of what they were.

    I’m mulling over this question of what a “faithful” blog looks like. Rather than dissolve into an argument about whether this is fair to consider, or whether it’s judgmental, or how to define what faithful is (or see if we can buy a Faith-O-Meter, we could all try to understand what “faithful” means to Kathryn and at Segullah, or to ExII, or to Kristine, or to Adam or…. If what we want is bridges where irreconcilable differences may sometimes exist, we don’t have to agree; what I am realizing more and more is that a huge part of what causes us to disagree is disagreement about terms like this (and the list is endless: What does it mean to be faithful? To sustain? To preside? To heed prophetic counsel? To nurture? etc.etc.etc.). Of course, we probably can’t all be right, but we also can’t reach out to each other if we don’t understand each other, which sometimes can be more important than being right. I’m think that it does little good toward the end of fewer walls and corners and more bridges to try to defend or attack; rather, the more we respectfully listen and kindly explain, the more I think we will be able to find fewer schisms and more love.

    And this is what I see in Kathryn’s dialogue. I am seeing much to learn from her approach, as I obviously still have much to learn toward listening more, and responding directly and clearly, but clearly with love.

    That said, I also think Kathryn shows how it’s completely appropriate (and I’d say necessary) for different fora (am I smart now that I used that word?) to exist, because there are fundamental differences in how we approach and interpret the gospel and the Church. But rather than thinking of that as always schismatic, we could think of these all being part of the body of Christ in a way. If different blogs end up helping people cling to Christ wherever they are on the path in their progress, then we could consider them a good thing. The key really is whether the group and individual intent is to bring people and to come to Christ and to rely on Him; if that is the intent (which to me might define some of what the body of Christ is), then I think this scripture could somehow apply (loosely perhaps, but still):

    1 Corinthians 12:15-18
    If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
    And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
    If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?
    But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

    If the foot or eye starts playing the criticism and pride game, then that’s another story. But I hear Kathryn taking more of this other approach, a desire to unify as much as possible but also being realistic that we can’t all be all things to all people, and it’s not a bad thing to recognize differences and work with them and the resulting constraints. If we are aware of them, we might be able to navigate them better and be better equipped to build on similarities and increased understanding.

  86. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    m&m you lost me after the first page of your comment. I must be a body part not mentioned in 1. Cor. 12.

  87. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    So witty, it was worth saying twice.

  88. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    And deleting once.

  89. m&m on July 27, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Sorry I was so longwinded, Steve. What I”m basically trying to say is that if we are seeking to build bridges, we need a whole lot less of selfish motives, self-defense and attacking others’ positions (or questioning their motives) and just seeking more to understand.

    Is that better?

  90. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Sure, that’s better. Those are still pretty vague terms. Concretely, what steps are you planning on taking in those regards?

  91. Deborah on July 27, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    M&M: I agree with you the first time and the second time.

  92. m&m on July 27, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Concretely, what steps are you planning on taking in those regards?

    I think that’s more a question for each person to ask of him/herself, not to use to demand answers from others.

    But just as an example, I want to ask more questions when I get into a conversation with someone (or someones) who see things differently, rather than spend all of my time simply sharing my own point of view.

    I also am working really, really hard to avoid sarcasm, assumptions about people’s motives, and trying not to respond in anger or frustration when I feel attacked.

    What about you? :)

  93. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Me? I’m trying very few of those things. I’m focusing on being honest and open. When someone disagrees, I plan to not ask any questions, as that person is wrong and needs not to be understood, but to understand. I also plan on using petty methods of retaliation whenever vanquished in combat.

  94. Adam Greenwood on July 27, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Your petty retaliations don’t bother me, Steve E.

  95. Steve Evans on July 27, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Nor should they — note the condition following “whenever” in my comment.

  96. X2 Dora on July 28, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    “And tell me, Dora, what do you do to build community in your neck of the woods? What do the rest of you do? What do you think would help Mormon women be more charitable towards each other even if we have irreconcilable differences about some things?”

    The thing I consider most important, is that I’m reaching out to the most neglected group of latter-day saints … the mid-singles. We are singles in a decidedly “married” church, and mostly considered beyond the hope that the young single adults are generally accorded. For women, the situation is compounded by the fact that educated, active women over 30 far outnumber their male cohorts, and the possibility that we may never have some of the most church-advocated experiences, ie: getting married, bearing and raising children.

    I used to think that the best way to reach the mid-singles was through the church organization. However, anyone who has ever attended a mid-singles dance can attest to the fact that most such activities are a huge disaster. I’ve talked with ward and stake leaders, who I generally respect, about strategies that have helped support mid-singles in other stakes, but there is very little comprehension, and even less interest in providing solutions.

    And so, I’ve gotten over the idea that the church will be able to support me in certain things, and have been finding other ways to reach out to singles, especially women. Planning fun events, meeting new people, networking, getting people to talk about their ideas, etc. Really, it’s about forming my own community.

    As for helping latter-day saint women be more charitable towards each other? I think that hearing and understanding one another’s stories is what helps women most. I think that we all can find a little of ourselves in each other, if we just took the time. For instance, when you talked about your experiences with Exponent II, it sounded a lot like what some post-Mormons have experienced, just in the opposite direction … you found something new that filled your needs at a critical time, then moved beyond it when you had had enough, to something that fills your needs in a more complete way. Even if I don’t agree with everything else, that simple story resonates, because we’ve all had that type of experience, to a greater or lesser degree.

  97. queuno on July 28, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Re 59, 60, 67, 68, 69 –

    Sorry, but I see bbell as the Fred Thompson of the Bloggernacle. Nate and Adam can fight over which of them is the Mitt Romney of the Bloggernacle.

    Other notables:

    Dennis Kucinish – DKL
    Ron Paul – Kevin Barney
    Rudy Guiliani – Steve Evans
    John McCain – ???
    Hillary Clinton – ???
    John Edwards – ???
    Sam Brownback – ???

  98. Ray on July 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    John McCain – Anyone’s health failing badly right now, private insurance about to lapse, with close family friends administering the last rites and running from the hospital?

  99. queuno on July 28, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    97- Maybe someone from Millenial Star, given their levels of activity and technical problems?

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