What are people’s thoughts, so far? What sessions have you liked, or loved, or hated? (Who got to see the feminist firestorm session?) I’ll type up some more detailed notes, soon — I hit the FLDS, Web 2.0, and motherhood sessions, myself, and there was a lot of good stuff — but in the mean time, let’s open a thread for general comments.


  1. Chirp. Chirp.

  2. Cricket FTW.

  3. No! No chirping!

    If the reports I am hearing about that session are accurate, this might be just what Sunstone needs. Next year, they can schedule a controversial session and market it with WWF as part of a pay-per-view cable package.

    Presto, funding problems solved.

  4. Did anyone go to the much publicized call for BYU to drop the honor code? (I didn’t make it, but Ms. Stack seems to have) Somebody is totally out of touch with how to be effective in a beuracracy…

  5. What do you suggest, Matt W.? Decades of very diverse efforts haven’t eliminated the honor code…

  6. Left Field says:

    They want to drop the honor code entirely? They do know that the honor code is not just about getting a haircut? It also includes stuff like plagiarism.

  7. StillConfused says:

    Prior to joining this forum I had never heard of Sunstone (I am in the Utah but not of the Utah). It seemed interesting but I didn’t feel I was ready to plunge in. I looki forward to hearing what you guys have to say about it.

  8. Left Field, the way the BYU honor code addresses issues like plagiarism is the polar opposite of how other honor codes do it. Honor codes in general mean that students pledge their honor not to cheat, and so professors don’t check (they don’t proctor exams, etc.). BYU’s honor code is enforced, which means it isn’t really an honor code at all. No honor is involved.

  9. Off with their heads!

    I find hand-wringing over the BYU Honor Code to be a bit silly, really. Far more insidious is the spirit of espionage or inter-surveillance that it seems to inspire in some people. That said, I don’t see that as necessarily being a result of an enforced honor code, but rather an overall cultural difficulty. Even calling BYU’s honor code “enforced” is a bit of a stretch, as so many behaviors and circumstances it relates to are completely unsupervised.

    BTW, Jay, I disagree re: polar opposite. I’ve attended some institutions that have both honor codes and proctors for exams. I think you may be overstating things.

  10. In other words, I preferred “chirp chirp” to a banal discussion of the BYU honor code. I doubt there’s anything new to say about it at all.

  11. Can’t comment on Sunstone — but I went to FAIR and had a good time. No firestorms that I noticed.


  12. Jns, I’d suggest in a bueracracy it is more effective to work within the system and make minute changes to the honor code over time rather than call for it’s absolute dismissal. It’s worked for the dems and republicans after all.

    And I went to catholic high school and the honor code is a basic staple.

  13. Left Field says:

    JNS, your experience at BYU is very different than mine. Perhaps things have changed. My experience was that professors more often than not passed out an exam, and then walked out of the room. It would be naive to think that students never took advantage of this, but in my experience, students in this situation took the matter of honor seriously. I’ve been associated with a number of schools, but BYU is the only place I’ve experienced professors leaving the room during an exam.

    Of course, the code was enforced in the sense that any students who were caught cheating suffered consequences. I would assume that would be the same anywhere. It certainly is so at the Catholic university where I now teach.

  14. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’m bummed that I couldn’t go to Sunstone this year due to family obligations. Is there going to be a Bloggersnacker (or is that Blog n’ Grog) tonight?

  15. Eric Russell says:

    Did anyone go to the much publicized call for BYU to drop the honor code?

    I can imagine. Dudes who are still bitter about the fact that their girlfriend had to go and confess.

  16. Here’s the kind of original, actually-honor-involving honor code I have in mind.

  17. I’ve enjoyed Sunstone and really look forward to Mack Stirling’s presentation tomorrow. I have found the ideas of Rene Girard absolutely liberating.

  18. Left Field says:

    Jay, I would think that the Stanford Code you linked to would be highly unusual in instructing faculty not to proctor exams. If that is the criterion for a true honor code, I doubt you will find another like it. I briefly checked the service academies, and did not find anything in their honor codes regarding proctoring of tests.

    Despite the fact that the BYU honor code does not explicitly instruct faculty to not proctor exams, or to take “unusual or unreasonable precautions,” my experience already discussed is that in practice, BYU faculty generally do exactly that. My memory is that faculty most often left the room during tests, and perhaps returned once or twice to answer questions and finally to retrieve the exams. If they did remain in the room, they were occupied with their own work or reading, rather than keeping an eye on students. Students generally responded in kind to this trust. Let me relate a couple of experiences.

    I remember once when I was an undergraduate several students left our exams on the front desk and congregated in the hall discussing the test while others continued working on the exam. We were unaware that our voices were carrying back into the exam room, until one of the students went out in the hall and suggested we lower our voices. I don’t think this sort of thing was an unusual occurrence, but I doubt that students at many universities would take such action to maintain academic integrity in the absence of the instructor.

    About 8-9 years ago, I interviewed for a faculty position at BYU. While visiting with a professor in his office, the phone rang, and the professor made arrangements for a makeup exam. The student was to go at his or her convenience to the secretary for the exam, find an empty room, and take no more than one hour to complete the exam while on honor not to use outside materials. The exam was to be returned to the secretary when finished. I was dumbfounded. After 15 years in secular universities, I had become accustomed to the expectation that students will cheat unless monitored by faculty. I had completely forgotten how different the culture was at BYU. The really astonishing thing to me at the time was in remembering that there was absolutely nothing unusual or astonishing about that kind of trust at BYU.

    I submit that the culture of academic trust I experienced at BYU is exactly what is contemplated in the Stanford Honor Code. We can say what we like about dress and grooming standards and how such things are enforced, but when I think of the honor code, I think of students and faculty trusting each other enough to maintain both honor and academic integrity. Some of course, will violate that trust, but they do so to their own detriment.

    We all know that the Y has its faults and foibles, but the academic portions of the honor code are absolutely not among them. When I read of a call to eliminate the honor code, I envisioned BYU losing that extraordinary culture of academic integrity. The alternative isn’t pretty. Other schools where I have taught, if a student has a question during an exam, I fear to look them in the eye, or to look at their exam, knowing that someone else in the room will take advantage of that brief distraction to read their neighbor’s test.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Kaimi, thanks for throwing up an open thread for Sunstone. I’ve been at FAIR and just got here. But the Sheraton overbooked my room, and so they schlepped me to some Microtel out by the Airport (I’ll be back in the Sheraton tomorrow night). So no blog and grog for me tonight; I’m going to bed. But I hope folks will post impressions of sessions they’ve attended so far. I’ll try to add some stuff tomorrow.

  20. As a former bare-faced member of the BYU Honor Code Council … my experience teaches me is that any public calls for scrapping the honor code (without working through the bureaucracy) might signify that Sunstone had an open slot and was desperate to fill it…

    And it’s noWHERE as stringent as other universities.

  21. queuno, there are a very small number of schools with more rigid behavioral codes, it’s true.

    Left Field, I’m sorry that you’ve taught at such problematic places. I can quantify to some degree the amount of cheating in different places I’ve taught, since I have used plagiarism software the whole time. The course for which I was a TA at BYU had by far the highest rate of cheating of anywhere I’ve been.

    That said, I don’t really think anyone is calling for eliminating academic integrity standards at BYU. What’s distinctive about the BYU honor code isn’t the academic integrity material, which is pretty standard and universal. It’s the nanny-state rules about visiting hours in apartments and about guests of the opposite sex not being allowed to use the bathrooms, etc.

  22. As this thread has a feminist bent, I thought I’d solicit some help. I’m teaching Gospel Doctrine class tomorrow and would like to contrast recent egalitarian comments (i.e. husband and wife are equals in decision-making authority) with previous statements that the priesthood was the ultimate authority in the household (i.e. discuss it together, but then the husband makes the decision).

    Could someone provide a reference to a prophet or general authority making a statement in support of the older, patriarchal model?

  23. Left Field says:

    I tend to agree with you regarding rules of housing, dress etc. However, I lived at home the whole time I attended BYU, so the housing rules really never applied to me and I had the luxury of mostly ignoring their existence. Are there really bathroom rules? I can probably count on one hand the number of times I visited someone in on-campus housing. Who knows if I violated any rules?

    I don’t know how reliable my memory is, but when I was a student (77-86) it seems like the honor code and the dress code were two different things. Technically, the honor code included observance of the dress code, but I don’t remember the dress and grooming code at that time being thought of as being part of the honor code per se. I vaguely remember there being a standards office that handled dress code violations, while academic violations of the honor code were handled by a different process.

    That probably explains why when people start talking about scrapping the honor code, I immediately think of the prospect of scrapping academic integrity standards (my comment #6), rather than anything to do with housing or dress rules.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Well, I’m finally in my room at the Sheraton, and took off a session to schlep my stuff up here.

    My first session this morning was Kristine’s sing-along. I really enjoyed it. The music she selected was all really beautiful and fun to sing. I’m not the most accomplished musician, and usually I was just sort of getting the hang of a piece by the time we moved on, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nevertheless. I kept the music with the idea of possibly arranging for a musical number in my ward from one of these pieces in the future. And Kristine was so into it, she was as cute as a bug, which was fun to watch.

    Next was John Charles-Duffy on the BoM historicity debates. He basically used ideas from the sociology of knowledge to assert that there’s really no such thing as evidence for historicity, but rather readings premised on historicity. By the same tokcen, the same is true of those who claim a 19th century origin. It was a useful thought exercise, but I thought making these claims exclusively was going too far. He has a new website,, so someone should check that out and report.

    Next was a review of Mike Ash’s new book Shaken Faith Syndrome. I think it’s a good book, and I thought he absorbed some pretty unfair criticism (to be expected in a Sunstone venue), but Mike responded effectively I thought and in a gentlemanly manner.

    Then I responded to a paper by Chris Smith, a grad student in Christian History at Wheaton College, on Joseph Smith in Hermeneutical Crisis. I thought it was a good paper.

    I’m skipping the session that is going on right now to deal with getting into my room. The one I would have attended was the panel on the continuing battle over same-sex marriage in California.

    The last session I’m planning on is La Vida Online, which is about how much of your personal life one should reveal in blogging and other online communications.

    And that will be that; I fly home tomorrow. Vacation over.

  25. BYU’s honor code is enforced, which means it isn’t really an honor code at all. No honor is involved.

    That would be a big surprise to the miliary academies.

    The last session I’m planning on is La Vida Online, which is about how much of your personal life one should reveal in blogging and other online communications.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of your notes.

  26. Peter LLC says:

    That would be a big surprise to the miliary academies.

    All a matter of definition, I suppose.

  27. I went to the honor code session and I don’t think it should be surprising or controversial (or, frankly, news-worthy) that university students would apply ideas they learned to the environment they find themselves in. I appreciated their passion and my only constructive comment was that they could have benefitted from a little more organization of their presentations.

  28. Like Kevin, I went to Kristine’s sing-along and enjoyed the music, which ended with all the lesser-known verses of my favorite hymn, The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning. I also went to John Charles Duffy’s Book of Mormon Wars as social construction session, where I was struck with the knowledge that even if I am hopelessly tainted by social constructionism, I will never be as pure as John Charles.

    In another “Mapping Mormon Issues” session, Hugo Olaiz address the status of the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression to ask “are we still gods in embryo?” In a cute quip on LDS theology today he said: As theology once was, correlation now is. As correlation is, theology shall never again be.

    I really enjoyed Kaimi’s panel on the marriage equality in California issue. I think it was very helpful for him to address and debunk rumors, including the idea that if the state continues to avoid discrimination by gender in civil marriages, the LDS Church will be forced to perform gay temple sealings. He also explained why the LDS Church’s tax exemptions are not in any foreseeable danger. His co-panelist Clark Pingree was a very effective spokesperson for the defenders of California’s constitution against the current ballot initiative.

    This was a big baton passage year in Mormon journals. Levi Peterson gave the banquet address as outgoing editor of Dialogue and Dan Wotherspoon gave did the same in the Pillars of My Faith session for Sunstone. Both the Journal of Mormon History and the JWHA Journal are also looking to bring on new editors this year.

    There were lots of other great sessions that I attended and many, I’m sure, that I missed. I was upset that I missed FAIR. I had planned to go down for at least 2 FAIR sessions Friday morning but real life intervened and I had to do work for a client. Hopefully next year.

  29. Did anyone go to the much publicized call for BYU to drop the honor code?

    i went to that session. and though the organizer and main presenter is a friend of mine, i found her argument tarnished with her emotional over-generalizations, fallacious assumptions, and other claims that were blatantly false. 2/3 of the time was spent complaining about campus regulations and cultural rules that are not even part of the honor code. it was really disappointing as she is a brilliant person, and yet her presentation seemed to be a burst of emotioned frustration guised in ‘intellectial’ rhetoric.

    some of her claims included:

    -“what byu honor code teaches eventually governs mormonism”
    -“all byu students must agree that the honor code represents what it means to be a good mormon”
    -“the honor code is set up so that revision is impossble”
    -“those who create the honor code do so intentionally knowing that it causes the students to be dishonest”

    in the q&a afterwords, i pointed out that byu’s former prohibition of wearing jeans on campus showed how ludicrous her claims were.

    i am no fan of the honor code. it is partly because of it that i chose not to go to byu. i’ve even been reported to the hc offices even though i don’t attend there. i think there are very good criticisms of the honor code that could be made. hers was not one of them.

  30. Left Field says:

    You are correct that the dress code does change periodically. A few years after I left BYU, I went back for a visit and was surprised to see students wearing knee-length shorts.

    The dress code has also been changed for other reasons. When I was a freshman, a friend of mine mentioned that he had noticed something funny in the dress code. He figured that if one is going to spend time reading the dress code, that it ought to include something entertaining. Sure enough, the code included (I kid you not) the following statement:

    The administration will designate appropriate dress for each student body function.

    Apparently, the administration thought that regulating body functions was a little heavy-handed even for BYU. By the time I returned from my mission, the dress code had been amended to read “…appropriate dress for each student body dance.”

    Did the session include discussion of the academic portions of the honor code, or was it only about the dress code?

  31. I agree with “the narrator” that Ashley’s presentation was a bit too emotional for my tastes, but I also thought she had some good points. Her central argument was that one of the consequences of the honor code was that allegiance takes the place of determining one’s own moral values, and this can prevent students from trying out their own “truths” (which is something that should be central to Mormonism, since it’s about discovering “truth” wherever it may be).

    In answer to Left Field’s question, none of the commentors talked much about academic issues, but they did talk about more than the dress code. The second presenter talked about his experiences as an activist on campus (and how the honor code restricted his ability to speak his political views). And the third commentor talked about gender, and his main points of emphasis were on the rules about living arrangements and visiting hours, and also the section in the honor code about homosexuality.

  32. Some of my favorite bits of Sunstone this year:

    –The “Why We Stay” panel, which was packed, and which included some fabulous presentations. Lavina Fielding Anderson’s was particularly memorable.

    –Listening to Robert Kirby tell stories about tracting with his dog, at a panel on missionary behavior.

    –The Pillars of My Faith talk by Community of Christ apostle Susan Skoor, who shared some moving personal experiences related to her own faith journey.

    –John Dehlin talking poignantly about people struggling with their faith who don’t feel they have anyone they can share their challenges with, and the question of how we as a community can better support them.

    –A panel on interfaith dialogue in Utah, including a remarkable Protestant pastor who’s lived in the Salt Lake area for 33 years and is particularly interested in talking to Latter-day Saints.

    –An engaging variety of short belief statements in the “This I Believe” session.

    –“La Vida Online,” in which Heather Armstrong (of dooce), Kaimi, FMH Janet, and Jana Remy raised a lot of great questions related to blogging–how much do you share of your personal life? do you do it under your real name? does it lead to compartamentalization? how does it connect to other kinds of writing in your life, especially if you’re an academic?

    –And (as usual) the most enjoyable aspect of being there was getting to hang out with so many fun and interesting bloggers.

    I had a great time this year. I heard a lot of wacky things, and plenty that I wouldn’t agree with, but I think that’s part of the fun. I actually had a kind of warm fuzzy moment on Friday evening–I was sitting on the floor in the back of the room listening to Pillars of My Faith, with Bored in Vernal, Seraphine, and Kiskilili, and we were watching Muffin (fMh Janet’s adorable one-year-old) investigate our things. And I looked around the room, and thought of some of the crazier things I’d heard that day, and just felt a sense of appreciation for a community that made space for such a variety of people.

  33. I really enjoyed Sunstone, but mostly just because it was my first time and I had fun meeting a lot of people whose work I have read online and in print. The presentations generally weren’t up my alley. Not enough history stuff. By far my favorite talks were Don Bradley’s piece on Book of Mormon translation and Brian Hales’ on sexuality in Joseph Smith’s plural marriages.

    Don argued, among other things, that the evidence points overwhelmingly to a visual method of translation. The much cited instruction to Oliver Cowdery– that he should work it out in his mind and then ask the Spirit for confirmation or disconfirmation– is a binary process consistent with his “gift of working with the rod”. This was much different from Joseph’s gift, which (as implied by the terms “seer stone” and “spectacles”) was visual in nature. On the whole, I think Don did a great job “mapping” this issue. And despite his personal convictions, he was very neutral and believer-friendly.

    Brian argued that there is probable evidence of sexual relations in many of Joseph’s non-polyandrous marriages, with the exception of the two fourteen-year-olds. That the polyandrous marriages were sexual, by contrast, cannot be credibly established. Brian’s intentions were clearly apologetic, but he has also done his homework. While I think his hypothesis about the polyandrous marriages being platonic will ultimately be problematized, I think his book (once it’s published) will be the must-read for anyone interested in writing on this issue in the near future.

    Another talk that was pretty interesting was the one put on by the Mormon Transhumanist Association, which was titled “The New God Argument”. They essentially argued that there must be far more advanced civilizations out there than we, that our world may in fact be a simulation created by one of those civilizations, and that any such civilization would necessarily be far more benevolent than we. Such a civilization, from our perspective, would be godlike. I didn’t buy the argument, especially insofar as it was framed as an argument for the truth claims of the LDS Church. But it was food for thought, nonetheless.

    Probably my favorite session was the bloggernacle get-together. Meeting a lot of interesting young people my own age who are interested in the same flighty kinds of things I’m interested in was eye-opening. I am not alone! :-)

    One of my least favorites was John-Charles Duffy’s talk. John-Charles clearly missed the point of the whole “Mapping Mormon Issues” concept. He used the session as an opportunity to pontificate about why the issue he’d been assigned to map doesn’t, in fact, need mapping. His argument was that nobody decides to believe or disbelieve Book of Mormon historicity because of arguments or intellectual concerns. Rather, it’s all a social thing. How we view the Book of Mormon depends upon the social circles with which we choose to associate. As we renegotiate social relationships, our views change in order to gain approval or prestige. I think Duffy’s approach is hopelessly reductionistic and entirely apologetically-motivated. I hope they boot him out of the project and assign that issue to someone else.

  34. By the way, I didn’t get to see the feminist session. But I did get to see some of the shouting match between Paul Toscano and the woman who defended Mormon housewifery. Paul’s strident attempts to bring her to his own point-of-view (namely that she is oppressed) struck me as a perfect example of male domination and the silencing of a female voice.

  35. @29, the narrator

    Amen. I enjoyed and appreciated your comments in the Q&A session after the presentations. I thought the two other panelists were quite reasonable and made some interesting points. But Ashley’s part overshadowed the others because of how one-sided (and over the top) it came across.

    I also enjoyed the person who pointed out the irony that the panel was unanimous in their criticism of the Honor Code with no input from the “other side”, when part of their presentation hinged on the fact that there wasn’t enough legitimate discussion and dialogue about the Honor Code.

  36. I really enjoyed Kaimi’s session on Prop 8 in California. Two of my former students were there. I love those kinds of reunions. I attended “Pillars of my Faith” and “This I believe” as well as the discussion of the new book on the MMM and another on faith crises in intellectuals. (I don’t think intellectuals have an exclusive claim to faith crises, btw.).

    When I checked e-mail, which I hadn’t done since Wednesday, I had a note from a friend forwarding me a letter she had received from her friend, announcing that she was leaving the Church and giving several reasons. (Yes, the race issue enters in, but it’s not the only one for this young woman–who does happen to be black. But the past statements about race which we discuss so frequently provided the door for her to begin an exit.) I wished I had taken notes on a few things at Sunstone. In the “faith crisis” session, the speaker mentioned the need of spiritual mentoring for those who are at some level of cognitive dissonance–a theme which was repeated in the Pillars of My Faith session. As I read the forwarded letter, I recognized tht the soon-to-be ex-Mormon had certainly had mentoring to take her away from her faith, and wondered if I could be one of several mentors to help her back. I dislike anything coercive, so I would be gentle. I don’t see myself as a spiritual mentor for my students, though I definitely present myself as a friend, and someone who is “safe.” Years after my class, quite a few have returned to ask me for advice. (I don’t tell them that I have no memory of them whatsoever–though that’s often the case.)

    I really enjoyed responding to Roy Whitaker’s paper called “Is the Mormon Church Still Racist?” He was delightful, very bright. He’s a young African American non-Mormon. My favorite line of his was after he asked for the title of President Hinckley’s 2006 General Priesthood talk: “Show a Little Kindness.” Roy said, “We don’t want a little kindness. We want justice.”

    Best part of Sunstone AND of FAIR: THE PEOPLE. It is so fun to see friends.

  37. My favorite parts from this year:

    -Don Bradley’s presentation on Book of Mormon Translation.
    -The “Why We Stay” panel. Absolutely incredible; all of the presenters were quite memorable.
    -Sam MB’s presentation on death stuff.
    -Christopher Smith’s presentation on JS and some big scholarly word.
    -Brian Hales on JS’s sex life.
    -Ron Walker and Glen Leonard on Mountain Meadows. Someone in the audience actually asked if the Church had paid Oxford to publish the book.

  38. >>Christopher Smith’s presentation on JS and some big scholarly word.


  39. I attended Phyllis Barber’s workshop on writing essays. It was excellent. I also thought Rebecca Stevenson’s and Janet Garrard Willis’s session on ritual and its interface between reality and the spiritual was very thought provoking–well worth getting the recording. Other sessions were also good, but I always miss what seem to be the funny ones–I’m always in the quiet session next door. The Thursday night film on blacks in the church done by Darius Gray and Margaret Blair Young was simply outstanding. It should be sponsored by the church or at the very least strongly supported when it becomes available.

  40. I swore off Sunstone last year, thinking that I no longer shared so many of the issues hashed out there, but ultimately I returned because the people who attend Sunstone are so understanding and welcoming of those on (some of) the margins of Mormonism.

    John Dehlin’s wrap up of those who experience intellectual crisis of faith was especially validating: he said that doubters shouldn’t be dismissed as ones who care too little; they suffer because they care so much.

    Although I appreciated hearing Kaimi and Nadine’s clarification of the laws surrounding the Prop 8 battle we’re prepping for here in California and had a personal investment in Jana’s moving presentation in the Vida Online panel, I think the high point for me was the Thursday night viewing of “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons.”

    Sharing a hotel room with Kaimi was maybe a close second. :P

  41. A couple more things–although I missed Susan Skoor’s talk in the Friday night plenary, I had a couple of opportunities to hear from and speak with this amazing apostle from the Community of Christ. Her presence in a group of LDS alone is a powerful witness of the possibilities of an egalitarian priesthood; but her eloquence and obvious compassion left a deep impression on me and others.

    The Thursday Mormon Motherhood session is worth downloading just for Margaret Toscano’s rallying speech.

    Finally, anyone struggling with raising children in a mixed faith (e.g. if you and your partner are at very different places in your faith journeys) should listen to the “Raise up a child” Saturday session (you can ignore my own heretical counsel, but there is great advice from the likes of Dialogue’s own Kristine Haglund).

  42. John, are the sessions available for download now? I’d love to listen to some you’ve recommended–including and especially your “heretical counsel”!

  43. On the back of the Sunstone program, it said that the dates for Sunstone 2009 are Aug 12-15, 2009, still at the Sheraton on 5th South. If you think you might be going next year, it might not be a bad idea to call them up and see if they’ll let you reserve a room now if you want to stay there. Ask for the Sunstone rate, which is $117. (801) 401-2000? I just got my reservation. This hotel is right across the street from the Sheraton, and might be cheaper:

    Because there is a big outdoor equipment show in town the same week, you really have to reserve early to stay close to Sunstone, and to get the best rates.

  44. Eve, I hear that the Sunstone folks are working on getting the mp3s up, but there’s no ETA right now. Thanks for your interest in my heresies. :)

    Paula, Mary Ellen said something about the Outdoor Retailer show not being a conflict next year (I think they moved theirs to July). That said, it’s probably still a good idea to sign up early!

  45. Lots of familiar faces here in comments, just like at Sunstone. :)

    I enjoyed so many things about the conference. Just to name a few of them:

    -It was awfully fun hanging out with my roommate. We stayed up late and talked about deep topics, like I used to do with my brother when we shared a bedroom. It was interesting and definitely fun.

    (We did kind of take the circuitous route to do it — flying 800 miles to hang out together, when we live an hour away from each other.)

    -It was fun chatting with Sunstone newbies Jessawhy and Markawhy. Jess fit in like a glove, flitting from one session to another and bonding with the ZDs. Mark started out quieter, but pretty soon fit right in, too. By Day 2, he was the first audience member to the mike to comment — at the nudity session, no less!

    -It was definitely fun to meet the nacle’s blue-haired witch. Ayla had very interesting takes on a number of topics, and she had her two cute little kids with her.

    -The Web 2.0 session was fun. Rory and John hit some interesting points. Rory talked about the “continuous partial attention” of Gen Y, and — sorry, lost my train of thought for a moment there — and about their religious diversity. (Only 7% have all friends from the same religion.) John wondered if we’re not overstating the impact of elite-class phenomena like Gen Y and Web 2.0 — isn’t the global rise of Pentecostalism a much bigger deal, really?

    The best part, though, was Rory’s demonstration of the difference between Web 1.0 (heirarchical) and Web 2.0 (participatory). For Web 1.0, he pulled up a screenshot of, and for Web 2.0, ZDs. I think we have a winner.

    -Speaking of the ZDs, they were out in force, and it was great. Lynnette, Kiskilili, and Seraphine were all in attendance. It was a blast to talk to such witty, intelligent women throughout the conference. Kiskilili is just as dry and outrageous in person as she is online, and Lynnette took a brief break from the conference to go RUN 13 MILES. Seriously. Mess with those women at your own peril.

    (to be continued . . . )

  46. JohnR, I hope they also fix the air conditioning by next year. I hadn’t heard about the outdoor expo change, but I’ve got my reservation anyway.

    I was sharing a room with someone who’s a cousin of Seraphine’s mother (if I got that right) and she was surprised to learn that her relative was a well-known blogger. :)

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Kaimi, I’m hopelessly in love with the ZDs, a fact to which I’ve already alerted them. They’re the coolest women on the planet.

  48. (Continued)

    -So, the Motherhood session was great. Margaret T.’s comments were really good. If mothers are so vital, why not put our money where our mouth is, like offering chapels as daycare, or fighting for better maternity leave. Gay marriage isn’t a threat, poverty is. And women sacrifice themselves in an endless chain of giving up individuality – adult women give up their self to raise daughters, who will give up their own selves to raise daughters, who will . . .
    Other panelists were great, too. Lorie talked about the LDS adoption of Victorian attitudes, and that the bloated rhetoric on the wonderfulness of motherhood served as a distraction from womens real powerlessness. Janet talked about her feminism and her love for her child.

    Immediately after the panel, a commenter Camile jumped in. Her opening line was, “I’m offended I wasn’t invited to speak on this panel.” It went downhill from there. She said that SAHMs get no respect, because they don’t have degrees (“letters after our names”). She wanted Margaret to apologize for saying that LDS women feel confined. And Margaret did apologize — and point out that the church’s rhetoric on motherhood creates unnecessary problems.

    -I took a break from sessions to run a good friend to the doctor. It was kind of a scare. But it’s (probably) better, now. Whew. I hope.

    -Nobody knows how awesome _Nobody Knows_ is, except those who have seen it. Sunstone was a great opportunity, again, and the showing was packed. Margaret Y. and Darius were in great form.

    -The Why We Stay panel had a wealth of great stuff. Greg prince: Go with the data if it’s an empirical question, otherwise use faith. Lavina: In, but not of, the churrch. Family, scripture, worldview. Claudia: The church needs people like me. And everyone emphasized the role of community, support, family, and friends.

    (to be continued more . . . )

  49. How is Darius?

  50. Paula, she’s actually my dad’s cousin. :)

  51. Thanks to everyone who has posted a list of what they perceived the best overall presentations to be. If anyone else attended, please give us your list of favorite presentations. I am hoping to buy several presentation sessions and it really helps to get a sense of which were of the highest quality. So please continue to give us your “best” or “favorite” lists. Thanks!

  52. Seraphine, I could have sworn she said your mom, but whatever. :)

    Ann, Darius looked and acted great, but I don’t know more than that. He was at dinner in the group I was in Friday, and seemed hale and hearty.

  53. Darius is doing well. That doesn’t mean he is healed of his cancer, but he is doing well. He was wise at Sunstone and found places to nap when he needed to. Hale and hearty–yep. We didn’t talk a lot about Sunstone, because we’ve had to focus on business details to get our doc available, but he did attend the session on JS and polygamy and said he enjoyed it.

  54. Rick Jepson says:

    Margaret, when do you expect Nobody Knows to be available for purchase?


  55. Rick–October 1. I’m even hoping we’ll have copies when we screen the film in Seattle on Sept. 16th. We meet with our editor on Aug 20 to see how he’s finished special features.

  56. molly bennion says:

    To add to the info on Nobody Knows in Seattle, September 16, we have the Varsity Theater on the Ave in the UW district from 6:30-9. Come at 6:30 as we’ll be screening by 7 to be sure to have time for questions. If you can donate $5 to help cover costs, great, but, if not, don’t let that keep you away. Ya’ll Come, friends and family in tow!!!

  57. Okay, this one will be short. Or I’ll be all month, summarizing.


    Interesting, but overstated. At one point, the speaker said (trying to respond to the argument that nudism is bad because nudity is sexual) that it’s clothing that creates sexual “hot spots” (his words), and that “a nudist resort is one of the least sexual places in the world.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement, in my book. “Hey honey, let’s go vacation at the least sexual place in the world!”

    Crisis of Faith:

    Fascinating discussion, drawing on interviews with people who have had crises of faith, and who continue as church members. Some of the highlights — the idea that crises of faith can be ongoing, everyday events; and the one person who said he was grateful for his crisis. John Dehlin’s follow up was perfect, too.


    Illuminating discussion — history of the What Women Know website. (Including comments about how infuriating some readers founf the T&S thread on the Beck talk.) The hate mail section was great, too. “You women ought to be glad I’m not your ecclesiatical leader” — wow.

    The femininner:

    Wonderful discussion with great feminist voices — Lorie W.S., Paula G., Maxine and Margaret and Margaret. Highlight was the CoC female apostle talking about Protestant ministers standing up against Hitler.

    Evening and blog-n-grog:

    So many great people. The BnG was a lot of fun, and so was the general hanging-out. I saw lots of the usual suspects I already knew from blog-land — Kevin and Kristine and Matt B and so on. Plus, I met a lot of new people. The FMH comment crowd — Lessie, G, Chandelle, and Ellen — were buckets of fun. The ZDs, as usual, were a blast to hang out with. The only missing ingredient was karaoke. Sniff.


    It may sound like a crazy idea to sing shape notes at 8:45 in the morning. Surprisingly, it worked. Kris did a great job putting this one together. I’m not a good singer — there’s a reason I’m the chcoir accompanist — but I piggybacked off of Kim McCall, who has a great voice. And the music itself was wonderful — great arrangements.


    Roy and Margaret were wonderful on this one, which hit a lot of interesting issues. Roy’s comment that Blacks don’t want sympathy, they want justice, was spot on.


    One of the best sessions of the symposium — half a dozen people at various stages of faith, discussing child raising. Kristine’s segment alone was worth the price of admission.

    This I believe

    Another very good session — though a little up-and-down in places, I thought. A whole array of presenters talking about their current belief structures. Fascinating, and enlightening.

    Gay Marriage

    Clark’s personal comments were very solid; Nadine’s reactions to the church’s reaction was also very good. I talked about law, with a goofy microphone.

    Online identity

    I liked this panel a lot. Dooce (Heather Armstrong) and Janet and Jana had fascinating thoughts on navigating the personal space, online. Weirdly, there was almost zero audience for this one.

  58. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t figure out why the online identity session wasn’t better attended (it was in the ballroom, so the organizers expected it to be the biggest draw that hour). But the microphones weren’t really working, and I could only make out a fraction of what people were saying.

  59. Happy to be the blue haired witch! ;) It was so nice to meet so many people, my head is still spinning! I was especially happy to meet Kaimi!

    I wish I could have attended more sessions but I had to work around my kids needs for hotel room cartoons and naps LOL I really enjoyed the Affirmation panel, the God in Embryo, and the Emma Smith as Shaman presentantion.

    I can’t wait for next year!

  60. We’ve posted the audio for the Mormon Motherhood session, the one that caused the controversy with the incident in the hallway. Mormon Motherhood – Choice or Destiny?

    We’ll also be posting some more free audio and video, including segments of This I Believe and the La Vida Online panel.

%d bloggers like this: