the post about CBC that I wasn’t going to write.

My name is Allison Olfelt and I am not a Mormon.

However, apparently I was a speaker at a Mormon Blogging Conference last week.

I know, it was news to me too. Literal news, in fact, when I read an article in the Desert News titled Mormon moms connect through blogs about the “bloggers, specifically the Mormon mommy variety [that] met in Sandy this weekend for the first-ever Casual Blogger Conference.”

Really? Is that what that was?

Looking back, I can see why Amelia Nielson-Stowell, the journalist that covered the story, was confused. There were Primary Class (the Latter-Day Saint Church’s name for Sunday School) curriculum and “Family Home Evening” kits being raffled off four feet past the registration desk. I was asked by another attendee if, having grown up in Tualatin, Oregon, I knew “Brother so-n-so” from the neighboring town’s ward.

And most glaringly, an eight-minute evangelistic video produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was aired in front of the entire conference.

(I’ll give you a moment to process that.)


Yes, I saw what Ms. Nielson-Stowell saw, and it confused me too.

When I was asked by the creators of the Casual Blogger Conference if I would be interested in speaking on the Faith in Blogging Panel I was above all else, excited. It was not alarming to me that Mormon Mommy Blogs was one of the sponsors or that its co-creators were also co-founders of the conference. This was not because I have attended the Mormon church for a period of my past (surprise!), but because it was specifically communicated to me that even on the faith panel I was a part of, this conference would not be about religion. I answered with confidence when asked by friends and family if that conference I was speaking at in Utah was “for Mormons”. It was not, I had been assured, so I prepared mentally to discuss spirituality on the internet without getting into specific tenants of my religious practices (as I had been asked).

But then, sitting at a table meeting the other members of the ‘faith panel’, many for the first time, I was shocked to hear the plan to air the LDS Church-produced video during our 1 hour session. I swallowed my shock for a moment, but then it bubbled over. I said it. I said that after all the clear communication by the CBC creators that this panel was. not. about. religion., I would have never in a million years felt appropriate playing a promotional video explicitly produced about my religion containing scripture being read by a high ranking authority in my church.

I just wouldn’t.

It was discussed in some detail, and an hour before the session was to start, the creator of the movie (a full-time employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and I were told by a CBC co-founder to ‘just decide’ if it would be shown or not. Because it is not my place to tell someone else what to do, I went no further than to inform him of my own discomfort with the notion, whether it were my religion or someone else’s being advertised. It didn’t seem to fit with what I had been told was the purpose and message of the panel.

Ultimately though, I conceded that the choice was his.

And there I was a short time later along with the 300+ attendees, watching all eight minutes of what I will admit is an incredibly beautiful video about how a woman’s Mormon beliefs and her blog intersect. At a ‘non-religious’ conference.

After the movie, the creator shared that he and the church hoped that its members would share it with their non-member friends.

I was confused, too.

I still am.

58 Responses to “the post about CBC that I wasn’t going to write.”

  1. ~j.

    I was not in attendance at that session.

    I am a woman, a mormon, a blogger.

    I would have been embarrassed to have been in that session, and I will say that I am confused as to why the Blogging Your Faith panel was one of the all-inclusive sessions rather than a break-out.

  2. Alyssa

    Wow. I think you really handled that with a lot of grace and poise, especially allowing someone else to make the final choice. That was a tough call and I truly don’t think I could’ve handled it as well as you did. But sometimes making the tougher choice speaks much louder than yelling what we think is right, or the things that we were told.

  3. Adventures In Babywearing

    Aw, I understand completely. I hope after writing it out that you feel a bit better about it, and everyone knows your good intentions- above all YOU know your intentions, that’s all that matters. Honest and brave of you to post about it.


  4. Kalli

    Maybe it would help you better understand that The Deseret News is an LDS Church owned publication and of course they are going to spin the story from a point of view more relative to their readers, i.e. the Mormon mommy bloggers.

    I only caught the last 20 minutes of the panel. I’m not out to defend that panelist’s choice to show the video, but I think the message I got out of it was more of how Stephanie Nielsen’s faith has played such a huge role in her life and how that has carried over to her online endeavors i.e. sharing her experiences and her testimony of such things.

    I’m with ~j though, I don’t know why it was a main session and not a break out.

    • AllisonO

      I think that would have been a great message to hear…

      from Stephanie Nielson.

      Fortunately, there were 5 OTHER bloggers who were sitting at the ready to talk about how OUR faith has played such a huge role in OUR lives and how that has carried over into OUR online endeavors. No church-produced video was necessary to get that message.

    • Holly

      This session was shorter than the others and following lunch. I think this was the only one at that time so that those not interested in it would not worry about returning so quickly… Like an OPTIONAL time slot…

  5. alexis

    i wasn’t there at that session, but wow. i don’t think i would have been so happy about that if i were you. i’m mormon, so i probably wouldn’t even have flinched if i’d seen the video, but knowing your side of the story, that’s a little annoying. thanks for blogging about it–it’s the way you felt, so you should talk about it–and i for sure will be more sensitive in the future about those kind of things.

    and for the record, when i read that article, i was like, errr…i don’t know why, but i was a little annoyed. maybe it’s the rebellious teenager in me, but i don’t like being pigeonholed. anyhoo, thanks again. :)

  6. becki

    I didn’t attend that session and a big reason for it was why is a person’s religion have anything to do with blogging? Don’t get me wrong, I do know what it has to do with blogging but I didn’t think any type of religion topic should have been at the conference, or if it was, it should have been a breakout for those who choose to go (course I chose to go shopping instead :).

    I am a Mormon and like Alexis says, I wouldn’t have flinched about it but, I am disappointed that what you were told didn’t really play out. Kudos to you for writing it out and I hope people pay attention to better plan out next year’s.

  7. Cluttered Brain

    Yeah, apparently NOT all of were mormon at the conference. Hmm. But most of us were moms AND bloggers.
    And that is all that matters, right?
    I missed the faith panel too.
    Was it good?
    I bet it was good.

  8. Kristen

    This was really brave of you to write, girl.

    I’m with you. Especially knowing the back-story as a fellow panelist: that we were told NOT to talk about our specific religion, but about spirituality in general. It was really weird to try to edit myself that way, and then see such an explicit message about one specific religion.

    It makes a little more sense to hear Kalli say that this was an LDS paper. I really didn’t feel uncomfortable with the conference at large, but our panel is where it got weird.

  9. alissa

    all i know about this conference are things you have shared via twitter or this blog. that being said, it sounds like this conference was (maybe behind the scenes) designed to subtly push, or present the mormon religion. the fact that they asked you and other bloggers to speak about faith, without specifying a religion, and then blatantly speaking about one specific religion kinda makes me feel like they didnt want other religions being spoken about.

    • NatTheFatRat

      We discussed before the panel that we SHOULD address our specific beliefs and denominations, and that it would make for a more interesting discussion, so actually that isn’t the case. This conference was not organized by the church or by anyone employed by the church.

      • Kristen

        That’s true – we did decide we would disclose our personal background the day before the panel. But I was under the impression that stating our denomination would be limited to the introductions part, because in all the email correspondence our sharing was supposed to be just general faith/spirituality. I still thought that there was a request to refrain from proselytizing or being too specific. I think that’s why the way it played out was a surprise. I can see where it felt like a bit of a bait & switch.

        • Loralee

          I am trying to be careful, here. I am inactive and while I am so glad I attended and had many great moments there I also has some issues so I want to try and be as balanced and fair about this as I can.

          I had never seen the video and I was more captivated than bothered by it, honestly.

          But…I know others were, and looking at it, I can see why.

          I keep coming back to the fact that Stephanie wasn’t there, all of you were. And there weren’t videos shown of each of you and your faiths, you know? (It would have been more appropriate if they had shown her video during CJane’s keynote as it is her sister and a huge part of her own story and faith, etc.)

          Even if Stephanie had been there I don’t think it was the best idea because it was not a key note…it was a PANEL. I’m speaking with her at BlogHer on grief and community and I can tell you that while I am proud to share that with her and truly love her blog, her story and I think her faith is extremely touching, it would really irritate me to be sitting on a panel with my own story and things to contribute too and have that large a chunk of time taken up with something like that…even if she was sitting next to me. (Let alone if she wasn’t)

          I think one thing I am finding really confusing is that everyone seems to agree there were repeated statements by the conference to not push one religion. Or religion at all on this panel. BUT…they HAD to have set up showing that video much more in advance than a day before the conference.

          So, it is great that you all came to the conclusion you could be more specific about religion and backgrounds but…to me it seems like they had already made the decision and knew it was going to be shown before you decided to include any specifics in your panel.

          It just seems contradictory to what they said to you.

    • AllisonO

      I have to completely agree with Natalie here. The conference was not NOT NOT created to be a proselytizing event. If that had been the hope, wouldn’t a location outside of Utah been more effective? (kidding)

      In all seriousness, I do not see the LDS church on high having had anything to do with what ended up occurring. We were people, given a space to share, and somehow it turned out much much different than I had been told to expect. This is me working through the confusion of that, not pointing fingers at the church.

  10. NatTheFatRat

    I have to tell you, I’m not a mom, so we all get to feel left out in some way, and isn’t that nice? (Kendall, who came with me, pointed out, “I’m not Mormon, I’m not a mom . . . I’m not even MARRIED!” Also, she really enjoyed the conference and didn’t mind the Mormon overtones. Probably because I told her to expect them. Because honestly. It was in Utah.)

  11. Adrian

    Yes, i read that article as well and I was a little surprised at the emphasis that it was a “Mormon” blogging conference. It was never presented that way when I signed up, or at any point along the way, and being a little on the oblivious side, I didn’t put two and two together until yesterday to figure out that the lady who runs the Mormon Mommy Blogger site was the same lady who organized all this. (Hey, my life goes on at 90 miles an hour, so information is strictly on a need-to-know basis!) I just heard Blogging Conference was going on five miles from my house and figured it was a win-win situation.

    As for the Faith Panel and the infamous video, sorry, I missed it completely. I found myself in dire need of a nap about then, so I missed all the controversy. But as a Presbyterian/Methodist, married to a Catholic/Redneck, I guess the organizers and presenters could have been a little more inclusive of other faiths, but hey, I figure it was their party and they were nice enough to invite me to it, so I’m not going to complain.

  12. Holly

    I’m sorry that this video clip made your experience a bad one. I was quite touched by Stephanie’s story. Perhaps I didn’t see the overtones so much because I was not in a defensive position when it was shown… Had I been a panelist of a different faith, being told what you were, etc… I likely WOULD have been taken aback, too… I understand your disappointment… THAT being said, and looking at it through a different perspective… Would you find the clip posted on someone’s fb or blog as overly PUSHING the MORMON faith on YOU??? Or would you see it as something to help one put their life in perspective and hold to their faith (regardless of WHAT that may be…) in the face of adversity?? I have posted the like before, but because it was inspirational to me and thought to share… not shove anything down anyone’s throat. I have had friends of other faiths find many of the messages uplifting. I’m asking because I’d like your point of view, as well as those of others of other faiths…

    I thought your comments (as well as the others…) on the panel were wonderful. I loved the way Kristen and Heather kind of played off each other… I am LDS, but have lived all over the country and love those of all faiths. I was born in NY, raised in FL & UT… since lived in IL, FL, CA, Guam, and am BACK in UT because that’s where the grandkids are… I have friends and relatives of many faiths all over. There are touching things that I can appreciate even from leaders of other faiths. I have quoted the Pope, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, etc… I seek to find the common ground to relate to, as there is MUCH… I don’t feel offended when someone discusses things specific to their faith, as it is part of WHO they are, as is mine… I don’t feel that them sharing is TRYING to convert me… nor am I TRYING to CONVERT when I share… Now if something they or I said changed a perspective in any way, I would hope that it would be in a manner of bettering the person it affected; but is between that individual and God… I hope NOT to offend anyone. (Heck! I CAN be offensive even to those OF my own faith… Unintentionally, of course… but that is NEVER my AIM…)

    So I hope that you were able to come away from the conference in the end without feeling like it was not worth your time and efforts. There are MANY of us that truly appreciated your participation! (((HUGS)))

    • AllisonO

      Holly, my experience was by no means a bad one. Really. I truly loved so much that I got to experience because of the CBC. This post is really just about my own confusion on how things went down. Confusion, not discomfort or bad experience!

      • Holly

        I’m so glad you had a good experience and I TOTALLY understand where you are coming from. I haven’t read the article yet, but I can certainly wrap my head around the direction it likely took coming from an LDS journalist FOR an LDS publication IN a mostly LDS COMMUNITY… *sigh* I will just say I’m sorry it happened and thought you handled the whole thing SO WELL. Even with the post, there are no attacks and it comes from pure honesty and emotion. (((HUGS)))
        As for ME… I learned some things about myself. The most important being that I should bring my camera EVERYWHERE! Friday I didn’t and wished I had. I was an oddball wall flower loner… Saturday I brought it and met REALLY AWESOME PEOPLE!! Thursday… Well… I MISSED it due to a migraine… BUMMER… So on top of all the things I learned concerning blogging… It was an overall great experience and I’m GLAD that YOU were a small part of it! CHERRY on TOP!! =D Thanks you!

  13. Suzanne

    I think you were clearly put in a confusing position and are rightfully confused. The difference between “faith” and “religion” is sometimes hard to understand, and clearly one the organizers and panelists didn’t 100% agree on. I’m glad you decided to post about it, since it feels like an important part of your experience and might help future attendees know what to expect.

  14. Cameron

    I’m not going to comment on the weirdness of this whole thing, since a lot of people who commented above have already said the things that I’d say.

    But I do want to say… you grew up in Tualatin? I grew up in Aurora! Gratned, I’m like 10 years older than you, but still… Oregonians unite! :) LOL

    • The Mom Venture Blog

      Hey, I grew up in Canby! Graduated from Canby HS 1998. It’s been neat to find other bloggers from Oregon, and many of the ones I’ve found have been from the Portland and surrounding areas! Gotta love Oregon! hehe :)

  15. Cameron

    I’m not going to comment on the weirdness of this whole thing, since a lot of people who commented above have already said the things that I’d say.

    But I do want to say… you grew up in Tualatin? I grew up in Aurora! Granted, I’m like 10 years older than you, but still… Oregonians unite! :) LOL!

  16. Suzanne

    It was just as I thought it would be, since the main platform the conference was promoted through was the Mormon Mommy Bloggers group, but I didn’t find anything about it overtly religious except maybe the idea of having a “mocktail” party (why drink a high calorie drink if it’s not going to have booze in it? I fail to see the point.) and I assumed the faith panel would be overtly Mormon, which is why I did not attend.

    I love your honestly. A former Mormon myself, I know that most Mormons are completely oblivious at how heavy handed they can be, and sometimes they just need to be educated. Your post is polite and honest and may go far to do just that.

    • DeNae

      Alison’s post is polite and honest, and I’m preparing to comment in full support of what she’s saying here. But I just can’t let a remark like “I know that most Mormons are completely oblivious at how heavy handed they can be” pass. There are 14 million Mormons, Suzanne, and as one of the – what? 13,990,000+? – Mormons you’ve never met and whose behaviors, choices, and attitudes you are in absolutely no position to judge, I would like to point out that often, when people feel strongly about something, they tend to overstate things, and may even be “oblivious” about doing so. This goes for practitioners of religion, supporters of political or social causes, and yes, even commenters on blog posts.

  17. mama23bears

    i feel so bad yoy were in that situation. i totally get what you are saying about it. if i was told it wasn’t a mormon conference and it turned out to be, i think i would be uncomfortable. there is nothing wrong with any of it. it’s just if you aren’t mormon and basically asked to “pretend” to be, that would suck.

    i think that how you handled it shows what a true and kind person you are.

    and, i love that you are always honest on your blog. even if it might ruffle feathers!!

    • mama23bears

      i just reread what i wrote here. i didn’t mean you had to pretend to be mormon. i just meant that being put in this position that you were, i would have been uncomfortable too! you are without a doubt the real deal. an honest, faithful and respectful mommy blogger who i have the utmost respect for.

      hope that makes more sense than my previous comment (it’s hard for me to think with kids talking to me much less make any sense while typing out my thoughts)

  18. Heather of the EO

    Hey friend. Miss you already. Um…yeah. This is tough stuff, and I totally understand your need to think through it out loud here.

    I KNOW you were NOT saying you had a horrible time at a mormon conference and you were tricked. If people think that’s what you’re saying, it’s coming out of a place of insecurity, or they recognize there’s some level of truth to it and they feel a bit silly about it.

    This topic was bound to come up somewhere, because it’s kinda the white elephant in the room overall.

    Maybe it’s my own insecurity and as Nat said, basically, DUH it was in Utah…but I too had moments of confusion. I don’t think the minority of us there needed to be treated with kid gloves or anything, but…

    and I’m not even talking about the video. Even Mormon friends of mine were feeling a wee bit silly about the tone of things, especially when we non-LDS peeps were consistently told this is NOT a Mormon event.

    Then I get thinking about our Cupcake event in January and how people thought it was a “Christian” event, simply because there were (honestly, by chance) many Christians attending. (People very out-spoken about their faith on their blogs). It made people nervous and so we were VERY careful to be sensitive to that. The last thing I would want was for someone to feel isolated or excluded in any way. It turned out that people with other beliefs were pleasantly surprised and grateful that nothing about the event was Christian, and the Christians in attendance, if they spoke of their faith, just were simply sharing their own story, not advertising, etc.

    I think what gets me confused the most was all the booths, etc with LDS products, etc. You know I was a bit ok with the video and I said why at the end of the panel. Maybe I’m naive, but I just felt that if it was a panel about faith, it was ok. Because it wasn’t a shove-it-down-your-throat message. And yet, I TOTALLY see your point. Totally. It just didn’t really bother me at that point. And to be honest, that’s mostly because I’d accepted the whole conference as a Mormon conference at that point. Because it was. Whatever we were told, it was. Maybe simply because it was in Utah…but it was. There really isn’t any denying that. Even our Mormon friends would vouch for that, many of them anyway.

    Overall, you and I both had an excellent time. I know because we’ve talked about this. We loved spending time with blog friends, WHATEVER they believe. We loved the people and the experience because we focus on people and experiences and not labels. I know that’s true. It was good.

    And uh, this is way too long. Sorry.

    Love you.

    • AllisonO

      I love what you said so much that I think it bears repeating:

      “I KNOW you were NOT saying you had a horrible time at a mormon conference and you were tricked. If people think that’s what you’re saying, it’s coming out of a place of insecurity, or they recognize there’s some level of truth to it and they feel a bit silly about it.”

      Thank you for being explicit about that, Heather. You hit the nail on the head.

  19. Tiffany

    If you were confused even a fraction of the amount I am now…I can see where that would be an issue. I think it’s clear you enjoyed yourself but it seems you were caught off-guard by the video + the mormon undertones.

    I would have posted about it as well. I think you have established yourself as an honest blogger who blogs what she is thinking, and this happens to be it.

    Wish I could have been there still, video and all. I would have LOVED the panel. LOVED.

  20. Heather of the EO

    Oh and of course I have more to say. I know I thanked Dallas at the end of the video and I hope you didn’t want to punch me (ahem)

    But I meant what I said. Because it was a good example of speaking about faith with out being a nutcase about it.

    You’re right though, it would have made more sense if Stephanie shared it herself…especially because Dallas doesn’t really blog anymore and was promoting a business. Nicest guy in the world by the way. Poor guy…all surrounded by controversy… :)

    • Ryley

      That was my beef with it. He’s not even a blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why was he there?? Yes, he may be a great, kind man. But wasnt that panel about blogging through your faith?
      He was promoting a business. Agreed.

    • Kristen

      I know. Poor Dallas. He was soooo nice and diplomatic about the whole thing. And I agree – I was really touched by the video. It was moving and well done and I liked it a lot. Just, um . . . yeah. What Allison said.

  21. Tonya

    I attended the conference – but I will be honest and say that I did not attend the blogging your faith section. I firmly believe that we all have rights to blog our own faith… and although I am a member of Utah’s dominant religion, I didn’t sign up for a Mormon blogging conference either. The FHE stuff? Didn’t bother me because I didn’t really give it a second thought (my kids are too old for that) I assumed that the blogging your faith would just be more of what we’ve heard, had I done my homework and known that it was a multi-faith panel I would have made a bigger effort to attend – we should ALL be comfortable sharing our individual beliefs – Kudos to you for sharing your feelings!

  22. Kristina P.

    Man, what a tricky thing to try and balance. I know that there were many discussions that took place, behind the scenes, about that panel and wanting to make sure it had a good balance and it didn’t turn into the Mormon Bloggers Conference.

    I loved the video, but I can completely see your point of view. I would have loved to hear more from you ladies on the panel, especially those were WEREN’T LDS. I wonder if the reaction would have been the same if Stephanie were Catholic or Jewish. But showing a video from the Mormon church, about a Mormon, at a primarily Mormon attended conference can definitely feel heavyhanded.

    I think your feedback and concerns are legitimate. I know that Jessica was a bit nervous, being Jewish, coming to this conference amongst The Mormons. Dun, dun, dun. I gave her a hard time, and joked with her about Mormon chastity belts and a secret room where we we would “get her and convert her.” But she told me how much fun she had and how welcoming everyone was and that’s the way it should have been for everyone.

    • AllisonO

      Thanks for your comment, Kristina! As for the reaction had Stephanie’s story involved a different faith, I meant it when I said I would have been uncomfortable “whether it were my religion or someone else’s being advertised” because of how I had been told the faith in blogging panel would go. I was uncomfortable with going against everything that I had been asked to do.

      I had so much fun, too! So, so much fun, and we definitely joked, too! I will certainly be posting about that as well, but this was written from my heart as I was processing it. I think it is sitting especially heavy with me because I was on the panel, you know? I don’t think any of this would have been worth bringing up if I hadn’t had the experience of being on the panel and communicating with the CBC creators about what was expected from the beginning.

      • Kristina P.

        I can absolutely see how you have a different take on it, since you were on the panel, and I think you have done a great job as expressing what I think are fair and respectful concerns. This is a great example of a post that has disagreement and concerns, without being mean, nasty, or personal. Well done, my friend.

  23. vanessa

    Dallas is the nicest guy on earth. Also the paper took such a weird twist on the conference…I had to leave your panel to go set up for my class so I must have missed the uncomfortable part.

  24. Erin

    I thought you did a great job! I had never seen the video before and it made me think about my own faith and trials but I agree, I did not sign up for a mormon mommy conference. I am mormon all though lately it seems I’m more inactive than active. The video was a bit odd because she wasn’t there to share her story and it would have fit in better with Courtney’s speech than in the panel. I know everyone has already said that but I just thought I’d add in my two cents and say that I thought you handled it well.

  25. annie valentine

    I was just ticked that we couldn’t see your cute yellow shoes. Seriously, couldn’t you have danced on the table or something? That would have been VERY unmormon-like in the coolest way ever. Next time, for sure. I LOVED meeting you.

  26. annie valentine

    I was just ticked that we couldn’t see your cute yellow shoes. Seriously, couldn’t you have danced on the table or something? That would have been VERY unmormon-like in the coolest way ever. Next time, for sure. I loved meeting you, by the way.

  27. Megan

    I attended the faith panel discussion and while nothing struck me as odd at the time, I completely see your point about why this was confusing and a little uncomfortable. I like the NieNie movie, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to use 8 minutes of conference time that we paid for to show it. Almost all of us Mormons have seen it since 4/5 Mormon bloggers posted it on their Facebook/blogs the day that it came out. I didn’t see the reason that Dallas was on the panel at all frankly. He doesn’t blog.

    Anyway, back to why I’m commenting. I think that a lot of of the time us Utahns are naive. Basically I figure that everybody I meet in Utah is a Mormon. It’s an easy assumption to make around here. But our religion is just such a part of who we are and what we do and what we talk about, we come off a little (a lot) strong about it. Sorry. I would have LOVED to know that half of the faith panel members were not Mormon. I would have LOVED it, I wish that they hadn’t advised you against sharing specifics, it would have added a lot more validity to the panel. I’m sorry that it was awkward, but really I thank you for your participation–I really enjoyed attending the faith panel. And I’m happy to be introduced to your blog!

  28. Megan

    Just an idea, I would love to read a post (by you of course!) on what you would have said during the faith panel if you could do it all over again (with no meddling Mormons in the way. ha ha.) I’m really interested.

  29. DeNae

    As you know, I was also involved in your panel, and I struggled with these things, too. In defense of Dallas and his not being a blogger, I know that those responsible for the panel were hoping to expand the platform to include all internet media. There were other classes, for example, where the subjects of Twitter and Facebook were also discussed, all in relation to what we do as bloggers. There was a therapist included in the panel on “blogging through grief”, even though she wasn’t one of the bereaved. My sense was that Dallas was there as someone on the business side of the equation, and since it was a panel on blogging about faith and spirituality it wasn’t as extreme a reach as it might have seemed.

    Having said that, for myself I would have wanted more time with your group, and I was very disappointed that we didn’t get to hear more from any one of you. Had your observations on a panel discussion with more available time led to a profession of your faith which was specific to your religious preferences, I think it would have been a very positive thing. The discussion didn’t go far enough for me; I wanted to hear more from you all.

    Finally (maybe!) my sense about the urgency to keep religion out of it was well intended, and it was intended primarily to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. However, it didn’t take us long on Thursday night to realize that it isn’t easy for any of us to separate our religious beliefs from the expression of our faith and spirituality. Perhaps it would have been better to have just laid it all out there from the get-go, and allowed you panelists to speak from that place that was likely the most natural starting point in this kind of discussion.

    Please give this conference another chance, Alison. I know I speak not only for the organizers but for the participants as well, we need MORE, not less, of the leavening and balance that you, Kristen, Heather, Jessica and the others provided for the event. Utah is a tough place to try to hold a “not about the Mormons” kind of conference, and the very last thing we need is for you wonderful contributors to pull out.

    It was a true pleasure to meet you, Allison. Thank you for what you say here.

  30. DeNae

    Oh, and one more thing (see, I knew I wasn’t finished): I was surprised and then not surprised at the number of LDS-type vendors at the conference. I’m pretty sure this had to do with the search for sponsorship, and the reality of the situation is, there are a LOT of businesses in the Salt Lake area that cater to the hobbies and interests of the LDS population. And these were the businesses that helped finance the conference. I live in Las Vegas, and if the conference had been held here (and we’re talking about doing just that, one of these years) I wouldn’t be surprised to see representatives of businesses which serve the Las Vegas community in attendance. That would almost certainly include casinos and so forth. Yet I would hope that the attendees wouldn’t feel uncomfortable seeing their displays at the event. Hmmm…it really is food for thought, isn’t it?

    (And I’m with Annie. I was digging those yellow shoes!)

  31. Heather of the EO

    I just have to say that i love how respectful this conversation has been. This is so cheesy…but…we love each other, and that’s quite evident here. We have differences of opinion and maybe beliefs here, but each one of you has been nothing but kind. That’s pretty amazing to find in the blogging world.

    LOVE IT.

  32. Shelle-Blokthoughts

    Okay, kinda crazy. I guess I missed a lot, I, of course, was taking pictures.

    Thanks for posting this first off. It’s when you get it out that allows people to fix things or give one a better understanding of why they did one thing or another.

    I think with anything, when we give something an expectation, but deep down expect something else, and then that something else actually happens–we are disappointed. It sounds like you expected, deep down, that the Mormon faith was going to be strongly represented and that you accepted so that you could take on balancing that out, and then were disappointed when it wasn’t as balanced as you had hoped. I get that, expectations are tricky.

    I think, as anyone, that with MMB being highly involved with the conference, and it being held in Utah you knew, or should have that naturally they would involve that which is comfortable for them, or what they know. They wanted you and the others there because they WANTED a balance-that is harder to achieve than not I would think, and apparently it wasn’t. The video is awesome, and hearfelt, AND presented, I believe, because we all know Stephanie and her story or it was assumed that most of us did. But you are right, if they were having just a faith panel with different religions, showing that video was highly unbalanced and somewhat unfair.

    But I also agree that you can’t have a “blogging about faith” panel without involving your specific religion. I think that should have been embraced. I LOVE learning how all of us are similar in our passion about our certain faiths and how we intertwine it in our blogs because it IS such a major part of our lives, for me, it IS who I am. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to separate it with any sort of grace (which is why I was chosen to take the pictures;), but it sounds like you had a ton of it! I just appreciate that you took that leap and were there to represent you!

    Your smile is so addicting by the way! I loved meeting you! You honestly made my day a couple of times by saying HI and remembering my name! Meant so much! :)

    Again so glad you shared this!

    *im typing this on my phone! Sorry for the spelling and grammatical errors!

  33. TravelinOma

    I’m late to this discussion, but I am so glad you posted about it, Allison.

    I got the same message as you did: that our panel would not discuss our own particular brand of faith, but how blogs can be used to share faith in general. I didn’t get much guidance other than that, so I assumed it was the most important directive. I was totally surprised at the dinner when we were told the video would be shown. It bothered me a lot. We had signed up (literally) for a non-denominational discussion. All of us could have preached our version of the gospel, and told conversion and spiritual experiences, but we were asked not to.

    I think the video and Stephanie are both amazing, but using it was counter to what we’d been instructed. It was created as a “Mormon Message.” That’s what it’s called! I found it inappropriate to wrap up our “non-denominational” panel with an official statement by an employee and representative of the church. Although I loved what Dallas said, I felt uncomfortable about the whole segment. It was not impartial.

    Our panel was shorter than the others already. With six interesting and varied participants, it seemed unfair to devote ten minutes to the story of a person who wasn’t even there. Knowing that you, and others, had come so far at your own expense, with stories we didn’t have time to hear, made it more frustrating.

    I’m so glad to have met you and the others on the panel, and I’ll be reading your blogs to get to know you better. Thanks for writing the post you didn’t think you’d write.

    • AllisonO

      Thank you! I really appreciate each of your words. It was a pleasure to meet you and to get a glimpse of your beautiful legacy sitting in the front row!

  34. Emily

    Oh, and one more thing (see, I knew I wasn’t finished): I was surprised and then not surprised at the number of LDS-type vendors at the conference. I’m pretty sure this had to do with the search for sponsorship, and the reality of the situation is, there are a LOT of businesses in the Salt Lake area that cater to the hobbies and interests of the LDS population. And these were the businesses that helped finance the conference. I live in Las Vegas, and if the conference had been held here (and we’re talking about doing just that, one of these years) I wouldn’t be surprised to see representatives of businesses which serve the Las Vegas community in attendance. That would almost certainly include casinos and so forth. Yet I would hope that the attendees wouldn’t feel uncomfortable seeing their displays at the event. Hmmm…it really is food for thought, isn’t it?

    (And I’m with Annie. I was digging those yellow shoes!)

  35. marta

    hello allison.. it was so nice to ‘meet’ you; i’m marty’s daughter and loved hearing your panel. you all did a wonderful job. i’d love to know more about your religion, in fact. i am a mormon but agree with you about the inappropriate addition of showing the mormon message at the end of the non-denomination panel discussion. of course i love the video and bawled my eyes out, etc. however i feel that lots of bloggers have already seen it and it would have been more ‘fair’ or ‘ethical’ to wrap it up without that clip. or they could’ve ended your panel and invited everyone to stay for dallas’ thoughts and movie. i was sad you had to give up so much of your panel’s time for it. oh well, what’s done is done. i’m glad you wrote this post, because i think a lot of us were thinking the same thing you were. i had no idea i was attending a so-called mormon event either. i’m sorry it came off that way. we were all unaware i guess! on the whole, i hope you enjoyed your time with your darling little one. i really loved hearing your thoughts and was inspired to add more spirituality to my own blog. thank you for your honesty and friendliness. i could tell you handled it classy and with grace. best wishes to you. xo.


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