This month I would like to introduce a fairly new blog called
Project Deseret is written by Ashley Sanders, famous for organizing the BYU Alternative Commencement last year. She was also editor of the Collegiate Post, a progressive magazine at BYU that was shut down largely due to her article The Evolution Of Revolution, which you can find on her blog, and which I suggest that everyone should read.
Don't go to this blog for a quick blog-fix during the day on company time. This blog needs to be savored late at night when all the kiddoes are tucked safely in bed and Dear Spouse is safely occupied with some engrossing hobby. The articles are thought-provoking and current, if a bit longer than what we usually encounter on a blog. They are full of substance and well-written, as befits the English major that she is. Ashley's blog was started in connection with Sunstone magazine as a blog/podcast with a goal of social change: "building a socially, politically, and economically just community." Her vision for this project is as follows: "The podcast is divided into three parts: narrative, interview, and manifesto. It is divided that way to give history on three levels: the individual’s story, the expert’s analysis, and the dreamer’s hope. I hope that these three histories will tell us who we have been and where we can go now." Ash is exactly the person to do this. Some of her posts so far deal with pacifism versus passivism, chain stores, and liberalism and secularism. She is stirring and passionate about these causes.
"We love the revolutionary as long as he is tucked safely in the folds of history..." Ashley says. "We talk about repeating history. We worry about it; we hope we won’t. But we will if we don’t realize that ethics is always uncomfortable in the present..." In one of her posts, she explains one of the reasons why she organized Alternative Commencement: "I believe that ordinary people know what is best, and I believe that organizations that don’t allow ordinary people to improve them from the inside will be less vibrant, less fair, and less humane."
The personal stories in her articles draw me in to the author's life, and make me feel I know her and her struggles:
"I am at a class party when my professor looks at me and says, “Let me guess. You’re a vegetarian.” When I answer yes, he runs to his closet with glee and pulls out a shirt. On it, a bunch of animals are bursting out of a stuffed pot. The caption says: “For every animal you don’t eat, I’ll eat three.” My teacher thinks this is hilarious, nudging me and crowing with triumph. I think this is supremely odd: If I said I was ethically opposed to slavery, would he have run to his room and pulled out a slave?"
Another issue she addresses is one I really relate to as a Latter-Day Saint:
"A lot of people have asked me: if you disagree with what BYU or the government does, why don’t you just go someplace else? (A favorite suggested location is Berkeley.) I only know one way to answer them, which is to tell them that I love this place, and want it to be what it can be. After I answer this way, there is always another question: If you love it, why do you criticize it? My answer is the same: because I love it, and because I believe that integrity requires a mix of staying and going, charity and chastisement, and because I want to go to a school and live in a country that let me do all of the above."
I have been asked many times on my blog if I disagree with some of the policies of the Mormon Church, why don't I go to another church? Ashley articulates so beautifully what I would like to tell them.
The latest articles on "Project Deseret" reveal Ashley's personal concerns and thoughts. I've felt some of the same feelings myself. She reveals:
"I also worry about how contradictory and proliferate my thoughts are. I will write something and immediately feel the exact opposite, and then I will wonder whether I should revise my earlier writing or continue stalking the contradiction."
I'm fascinated to see the blog move in a more personal direction as she explores some of the issues she confronts in the Church. I'm looking forward to more writing in this vein.
I read Ashley's blog because she is eloquent, touching, and funny. I read it because she falls apart. Because she picks herself up and keeps on. I read it because she isn't sure yet where she is going, and I want to be part of her journey.