A few weeks ago, one of our spunkier staff members related some feedback from a Segullah-reading friend. Lately, she said, this friend has found the blog less open and welcoming than usual, more “hard-line” in terms of orthodoxy.
“I got a similar comment from a reader friend recently,” added progressive-minded staff member B.
“Interesting,” said the more conservative staff member C. “I heard from a loyal reader not long ago, concerned that Segullah was going the other direction.”
At first I bristled just a bit from the criticism (we editors have feelings too, you know). But after a few moments of reflection I had to smile. Staffer C’s correspondent thinks Segullah is a bit too edgy, and pals of staffers A and B think it’s not edgy enough? Sounds like we’re doing our job.
One evening in the fall of 2004 I sat down for dinner with Kylie Turley, a longtime friend from my married-at-BYU days. She congratulated me on having my first-ever personal essay published by Exponent II, a feminist-flavored newspaper that laudably pioneered the free expression of Mormon women’s voices. We wished aloud for an alternative publication that featured candid, thoughtful, probing personal writing while maintaining an ultimate stance of loyalty to the LDS Church. “Someday we should create a journal of our own,” Kylie said. “Can you imagine?”
We laughed. Our lives were full of young children and nearly void of discretionary time—the thought of us launching a new publication bordered on ridiculous. But in the days and weeks that followed, the idea stuck with me. As I went about the daily routine of diapers and homework and laundry, I daydreamed about a journal wherein Mormon women could explore and share their lives in ways that were solidly faith-promoting yet reached behind and beyond the carefully crafted “church face” we typically wear on Sundays. Kylie and I gathered some friends, began to scheme in earnest, and before long Segullah was born.
Since this forum’s inception, our name has served as a constant reminder of the blessings and responsibilities we receive in our covenant relationship with the Lord. Over these past five years I’ve realized that segullah describes something else as well: our voices in this forum. A collective voice that “explores life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Such balance is not easy to attain, and without constant diligence it quickly topples. But we believe it’s well worth seeking day after day on our blog, and page after page in our journal.
Inevitably, walking this path means we’ll draw criticism from those who prefer more or less controversy, convention, and/or conflict when it comes to expressing our experiences as LDS women. As another staff member recently remarked, “Some people think we’re flaming communists, others think we’re all romping around wearing denim jumpers and crocheting all day.” So be it. Inclusion is one of our watchwords, but if we tried to please everybody, we wouldn’t please anybody.
Of course, we very much want to please our intended audience: vibrant, grounded LDS women who enjoy lively yet respectful conversation on a wide variety of topics. For such individuals we want Segullah to be a comfortable place—one where our faith is affirmed and our views validated and our struggles understood.
On the flip side, we also intend Segullah to be a place of positive growth, and growth isn’t always comfortable. In our dialogue we should expect to have our hearts, minds, and spirits stretched on a regular basis, for here “our aim is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values.” Those beliefs and values—the core doctrines, standards, and policies of the LDS church—may be straightforward in principle, but can be amazingly nuanced in practice. And as the Lord’s cache of peculiar treasure includes an eclectic mix of personalities and perspectives, so do the women’s voices featured here.
Those are some of my thoughts about Segullah as we begin our next five years. And now, here’s your big chance to tell us what you think.