Friday, January 29, 2016

Signing Off On Ward Gossip

After six years and over 300 posts, I've finally decided to move on. It won't be easy! I've loved writing this little Mormon-themed blog. Even more, I've loved the responses I've gotten from so many readers - not only in the comment fields, but in private emails, snail mail (I received a lovely gift from a reader just the other day**), and in real life. I've made countless new friends via this blog and I am grateful and indebted to all of you for your encouragement and support. I'm even thankful for the occasional snarky reader who has kept me on my toes. It's been a great six years.

** the DVD and CD's, Gentle Reader/You Know Who You Are!

Ward Gossip started as a writing exercise. Since I was at work on my first Mormon-themed mystery novel, a Mormon blog seemed a natural companion. My early posts took the form of emails from the (fictional) Abbottsville 4th Ward. Later I added "other musings" to include articles from the (also fictional) "Salt Lake News" as well as some book reviews, obits, and my own op-eds. With a few exceptions, I've opted for humor, so that we might laugh at the things we once took too seriously.

My favorite subjects have been the rank and file Mormons, those obedient, ever-cheerful, perennial do-gooders who struggle in vain to live up to the Brethren's impossible expectations. Hapless and lovable, they never cease to inspire laughter.
 And so on.

Of course there are plenty of funny blogs out there to fill any void Ward Gossip might leave behind. For starters, there's the amazing blogroll in my sidebar. Also check out the nominees for this year's Brodie Awards. Voting ends February 5, 2016. Ward Gossip is up for 2 categories: "Best Parody" and (fittingly) "Best Exit Story."

I'm going to leave the site up for an indefinite amount of time, as a cure for insomniacs, also for the link to my 2 Mormon-themed mystery novels, as well as the links to the sites on my amazing blogroll. I may be taking a break from writing, but definitely not from reading! I'll keep the roll current, adding new sites as I find them. Also, who knows? Those zany Brethren in Salt Lake may pull something crazy enough to resurrect Ward Gossip from the dead. At this point that's hard to imagine. But stranger things have happened.

If you're on Facebook and haven't already done so, please send me a friend request. Or follow me on Twitter. I haven't been active there so far, but I see more tweets in my future. Since I intend to keep writing, I imagine I'll start another blog or website at some point, or maybe contribute to a group blog. If there's one that will have me.

But first I'm taking a breather ... and maybe fixing myself a cocktail! After all, it is Friday.

Tonight Mark and I will raise our glasses in a series of toasts. First to the Gentle Readers who have followed Ward Gossip - I am forever in your debt. Then to all the funny, Mormon-themed blogs. Next to the hapless and lovable Mormons who inspire them. And finally to laughter. Because, lord knows, we all dearly need to laugh.

If you would like to stop receiving these emails - today is your Lucky Day!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

LDS Youth Participate in Another Fake Q&A

Last night the LDS Church aired a "Face to Face" with Elder Rasband (Quorum of the Twelve), Sister Oscarson (General Young Women president), and Brother Owen (General Young Men president).

View here.

The 80 minute program was presented as an "unscripted" Q&A with young audience members either raising their hands in the local Salt Lake venue or remotely querying via email or social media.

However, after listening for only a few minutes, it seemed obvious (to me anyway) that the whole thing had been written in advance. Not only were the questions outside the teenaged vernacular:
"Brother Owen, how can I not feel so alone when I know those around me have so many different standards?" 
But the answers sounded like mini-conference talks replete with "great question, Andrea," the perfect homey personal experience - not too verbose - then, "and the moral is..." Clearly the answers had already been prepared to questions the leaders had already chosen.

Of course, what could I expect? Imagine the apoplectic fit a real question might have inspired:
"Sister Oscarson, I've been living with my dad and step-dad now for 5 years. They're really good to me. But since the church changed its policy about the children of gay parents, I feel pressured to move in with mom and her boyfriend. Do I really have to? It creeps me out when her boyfriend reaches up my dress."
"Brother Owen, I'm going on a mission soon. Only lately I've been doing a lot of masturbating. I'm not sure I can stop. Does that mean I won't get any converts?"
See what I mean? We all know that's never going to happen.

I'm reminded of one of the last church meetings I attended. It was a joint Relief Society/Priesthood meeting in suburban Dallas. Our stake president was the featured speaker. I found myself seated next to a gentleman I'd never seen before. Thinking he was either a new ward member or perhaps a visitor from out of town, I made an attempt to welcome him. He went out of his way to ignore me, to the point of rudeness. Then the stake president stood before us, and, after some brief introductory remarks, turned the time over to questions from the audience.

The rude guy next to me eagerly raised his hand and the stake president immediately called on him.
"President, how can we teach our youth the difference between worldly knowledge and spiritual knowledge?"
At that moment I realized what was going on. The guy didn't want to talk to me because he was a ringer. He had been put there to set up the stake president for the answer he'd already prepared on the topic he'd already chosen. I thought to myself, "How could a grown man reduce himself to participating in such a sleazy and transparent con?"

Today, some twenty years later, I finally have my answer. He was trained to do so in his youth!

I kept listening to that broadcast, hoping against hope that one of those apprentice shills would switch sides and ask a real question.
Elder Rasband, how can I not feel like a dope when I know my friends with different standards are at the school science fair while I'm here reciting your prewritten lines in this phony Q&A? 
Unfortunately, I knew that wasn't going to happen.

***Awards season is upon us again. Don't forget to visit Main Street Plaza vote for your Mormon-themed favorites in the Brodie Awards!