Friday, October 25, 2013

Two Conferences, Both Not Alike In Dignity

dig - ni - ty
1. The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

In Mormonworld October is the month for two conferences.

The first is the LDS Semi-Annual General Conference. On the surface, it exudes the appearance of dignity: envision a sea of distinguished white men in white shirts.

Only once they open their mouths they're stripped of any semblance of dignity--all the way down to their holy temple garments. It never fails. Every General Conference what the men in the magic underpants say is sometimes folksy, always guilt-inducing, basically bullshit, and, at the same time, over-the-top boring.

As my regular readers know, I had the good fortune to be in London during this October's 7 1/2 hour snore-fest. So I missed the whole damn thing. But from what I understand this year was no different. Evidently only two speakers managed to rouse the faithful from their rem sleep:

The unintentionally hilarious Dieter Uchtdorf who admitted that LDS Church leaders had made a few mistakes (presumably referring to eensy boo-boo's like polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre) and then urged skeptics to "doubt their doubts." (Whatever the hell that means.)


The intentionally nasty Dallin Oaks who pompously insisted that even though gay marriage is legal it is still immoral.

Shakespeare couldn't have said it better.
The second of two conferences is the Ex-Mormon Conference in Salt Lake City. I was present for that and can report first hand. On the surface, it did not exude the appearance of dignity.

I spent a good part of it playing hooky with my pals at the registration desk.
I got this amazing breadboard made by InsanaD's husband.
Also we had a little too much fun with some missionaries I found at Deseret Book.--Leave it to the Mormons to make "action figures" with no moveable parts. We did our best to loosen them up.
Right off we got them drunk.
Ensuring these are the best two years of their lives.

Also there was some flagrant self-promotion--Yes, of course, I brought my new book!

I also won a very cool book in the door prize drawing!
These are true messengers!
But here's the thing, what the Ex-Mormon Conference lacked in decorum, it made up for in substance. What its speakers shared was sometimes folksy, never guilt-inducing, totally true, and, at the same time, over-the-top interesting. For example:

Micah McAllister's heartfelt presentation about his excellent book, Exit Strategy: Leaving Mormonism with your Dignity Intact. (There's that word again.)

D. William Johnson's panel discussion of his "I Am an Ex-Mormon" videos--a presentation so moving that at it's end, members of the audience rushed forward with cash donations to help him continue the project.

Richard Packham's two excellent talks that were, at times, intentionally hilarious.

Chris Johnson's fascinating insights into possible sources for the Book of Mormon.

Kay Burningham's speech, "Are Mormon Leaders Above the Law?"

And beyond that, the hours of scintillating conversation amongst the thoughtful and intelligent attendees.

Which of the two October conferences possessed the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect? I'm with the Ex-Mormons. We may not wear white dress shirts anymore, and we've nothing like the magic underpants. But our dignity is intact. Also we're allowed moveable parts.


  1. Damn straight! Kudos to all of you for celebrating real dignity ... and breadboards, wine, and blogging.

    1. It's a fun party every year. If you're ever in the area you should come, Ahab. We'll make you an honorary Ex-Mormon.

  2. I am very sad that I missed it - it looks like a lot of fun!

    1. Even more fun if you'd been there. Next year maybe? :)

  3. I didn't realize this conference existed. How did I miss that?!? Next year I'll plan a trip to Utah. I would love to meet you and others I have become familiar with through the ex-Mormon blogosphere.

    1. Hanging out with other exmormons is the best part of the conference. Hope to see you there next year!