SL10312: The Descent of Dissent: or On the Origin of Speciousness

”In the Olden Days before Blogs: A Message to Maggie.” This paper will explore some of the developments in dissent over the past two decades, including what constituted dissent then and now. Is dissent praying privately to Mother in Heaven? Is it not putting up a lawn sign supporting Prop 8? Is it splitting your Boy Scout donation so that the Young Women get half? What role has dissent played in the Church in the last 20 years? Has it been good for the Church? Good for dissenters? Two bookends for this discussion will be the speculative theology represented by Strangers in Paradox, published 20 years ago, and the Gospel Essentials manual, now curriculum for Relief Societies and Melchizedek Priesthood quorums. “Defecting in Place.” I remain active in my ward while defining my beliefs differently from most orthodox LDS Church members. I have adopted the stance of “defecting in place,” or dissenting while staying. Based on my most recent temple recommend interview, I examine some of the areas of tension, shared expectations, and teaching/learning moments that move the experience from hostile interrogation, ritual compliance, or personal soul-searching into community-building between leader and member. In a setting where the handbook assumes that one person has all the questions and the other person has all the answers, what happens to areas of dissent? I share some approaches I have taken over a lifetime of Church activity.