Here’s an experience I frequently have on the Bloggernacle. I read a post and think of a great response. Then I read through the comments and find that someone else already made my point, typically with greater eloquence and precision of thought.
Here’s another experience I’ve had: I read through a discussion on a well-worn topic, only half-reading or even skipping some of the comments entirely if people are making arguments I’ve already heard many times. And then, like a meteor out of the clear blue sky, someone will write a comment that makes an entirely new point or brings new information or a new way of thinking about an argument.
I don’t usually have much to say in response to good comments like these. But I hate to see them buried so quickly by subsequent discussions. So in case you’re interested, let me quote a bunch of my favorite interesting comments of 2008. A few notes on them:
- I apologize for the length. I started with a list of nearly 1000, and it was only with much difficulty that I trimmed it to even these 150.
- I’ve edited most of these comments a lot to shorten them and reduce them to making a single point. I’ve linked to the original comments if you want to read them in full (as well as their context).
- What we find funny (like in my last Nacle Notebook post) is probably more generally shared than what we find to be good points. In other words, you probably won’t agree with all the perspectives taken in these comments that I liked. Where you do disagree, please just count it as one more piece of evidence in favor of the hypothesis “Ziff is nuts” rather than bringing up disagreements in the comments here.
In roughly chronological order, here are some comments made in 2008 that I found particularly interesting.
A comment on Heather B’s post Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection . . . at Mormon Matters:
- John Remy:
I think that so many Mormons feel that when you leave Mormonism, you completely cut yourself off from it, because joining Mormonism often demands a complete rejection from one’s former life. I know it’s more complicated than that, but when I joined the Church, I was disowned and I deliberately cut myself off from many of my former practices, beliefs, and social groups. Many members feel that Mormonism should be one big package deal, and this is the source of much friction within cross-Mormon dialog. For former members, post-Mormons, cultural Mormons, and many others, there is a strong sense that one can pick and choose the aspects of Mormon identity that are the most meaningful to them.
A comment on John C.’s post If you lose your faith . . . at BCC:
People who find themselves outside the Church have testimonies too. There are things we know to be true. There are things we desperately want to believe are true, but doubt. Sound familiar, oh ye faithful?
The idea that one can choose faith or disbelief as readily as one can choose whether or not to take a drink flies in the face of most individual’s real-world experience, imo.
Comments on Heather B’s post Who are these Anti-Mormons? at Mormon Matters:
- Kevin Barney:
Scholarship and anti-Mormonism are different things. Scholars can approach historical and theological claims from a rational, critical perspective, but no true scholar’s aim is to destroy a person’s faith or to destroy a church.
Anti-Mormonism tends to be tinged with irresponsible rhetorical trickery. It is usually geared not to actually witnessing to Mormons, which is fair, but to boundary maintenance (IE scaring the bejeezus out of their own people so that they won’t even talk to a Mormon).
. . . I agree that ordinary members of the Church who do not actually deal with anti-Mormonism tend to throw the term around much too loosely. I also don’t like it when Mormons won’t simply let people leave; if they’re going to demand an accounting for why someone has left, they have no one but themselves to blame when such an accounting is forthcoming.
- Clay Whipkey:
I think there is an invisible, impenetrable membrane between believing Mormons and NOM/ex-Mormons. Its not quite a wall. We can talk through it and mostly understand each other, and see each other but not with complete clarity. For a believer, the interest in the story of the non-believer will always hold some element of looking for the hole in it. Where did you go wrong, and how can I show you so you’ll see it and come back?
That’s not meant to be a slight on the believer. Its just inherent in the gospel as the believer sees it. EVERYONE needs to accept the gospel, and its out of love that they try to fix you. The only way you can really listen completely to an exit story is if you going into it genuinely believing that leaving might possibly be the “right” choice for that person, even in God’s eyes. In the Mormon tradition, believing that kind of makes you no longer a believer. Thus, to understand the non-believer, you have to change what you believe in.
A comments on Andrew Ainsworth’s post The Ammon Approach: Redefining Missionary Work at Mormon Matters:
- JH (on missionary work):
Would an emphasis on community service with-no-strings-attached (really no strings) not be good in and of itself? I think people in general are hesitant if we offer our service because we have such a reputation for trying to convert people. That is distancing. It reinforces their need to have their guard up.
A comment on Stephen Wellington’s post Overview and Discussion of Church Growth at Mormon Matters:
- Nick Literski:
When I joined the LDS church, the message was remarkably different than so-called mainstream christian churches, and I was attracted by those differences. When LDS try to water down the distinctions and “blend in” with other churches, they create an image to potential converts that the LDS church has nothing special or different to offer, so there’s no particular reason to be interested.
A comment on jupiterschild’s post Neutrality, Stumbling Blocks, and the Path of Least Interference at Faith-Promoting Rumor:
- SmallAxe (speaking of defining who “weak” saints who would “stumble” are):
Personally speaking, I think the way this pays out in our discourse is these people are depicted as new converts, “investigators”, or less-actives who might be turned off by “the appearance of evil”; but in reality those who are really offended are the “ultra-orthodox” (for lack of a better term) who have been life-long members of the church and are not “weak” in the sense that they would ever consider leaving the church. To give it a rather cynical reading, one could say that this discourse has been co-opted to enforce a sense of orthodoxy/praxy rather than to actually protect those who are depicted as “weak”.
A comment on Stephen Marsh’s post A style of our own at Mormon Matters:
- John Hamer:
Why are the Amish dressed the way the are?
They aren’t dressed like angels and they aren’t dressed like the early Christians at the time of Christ. They aren’t even dressed the way Amish people dressed in the late 1600s.
They’re dressed the way Amish people dressed whenever some social force within their community acted to halt further fashion development. It looks like that happened sometime in the mid-1800s and for the sake of argument, let’s say it happened in 1850.
If that’s the case, you might say that the Amish haven’t changed their appearance since 1850. The reality is that not changing is actually a change. Back in 1850 Amish people looked more or less like regular, conservative people of that era. That’s not what they look like now at all; now they look like a people with a distinctive, traditional costume. By not changing their appearance, their appearance has changed. . . .
LDS missionaries are on that same trajectory, just one century behind. When they dressed the way they do now back in the 1950s, missionaries looked like regular, conservative people of that era. Today, however, that has already started to change. By not changing, their appearance is changing.
Comments on Peter Brown’s post The Church and the BSA: part 1 at Mormon Matters:
The biggest truth in the first 20 comments: “Scouting is not for everyone” Why then do we as a church persist in making it so? What if Little League baseball were the church program for young men? It also teaches teamwork, responsibility, hard work, goal setting, etc, etc. Some boys and some parents would excel and exult in meshing their avocation and interest with the church, others would chafe and others with no interest in team sports would be miserable. It is no different with scouting.
A comment on Jeff Bennion’s post Metacomment: Bushman, Brodie, and the Mormon Quest for Respectability at Mormon Mentality:
- Jeff Bennion:
the Mormon quest for respectability is doomed to fail. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want our founding prophet to be interesting but interesting as a prophet, not as an amiable fraud.
A comment on Ronan’s post In the colonies, the stormtroopers are starting to lay down the law at BCC:
- jimbob (on why he isn’t a fan of The Unwritten Order of Things):
if President Packer wants an order, he should write it down somewhere where we can all read it. Offering it up for a few select souls in Provo hoping the rest of us will stumble across it does not make for good policy, let alone doctrine.
A comment on Steve Evans’s post Don’t homeschool your kids, please. at BCC:
- Julie M. Smith:
we all want kids under the public school thumb when it means rooting out the wacky ideas of those kooks. But when we admit that, we admit that the schools have the right to root out of our kids our wacky ideas. And whether you are concerned about the dominant philosophy from a conservative slant (traditional family and sexual behavior, etc.) or a liberal one (consumerism, pop culture, etc.) or a little of both (in my case), not being permitted to teach your own children on your own terms is a big, big deal.
A comment on Marc Bohn’s post Missionary Photos at T&S:
- Russell Arben Fox (quoting and commenting on a Church spokesman’s response to the missionaries who took pictures of themselves mocking Catholic churches in Colorado):
“We are deeply saddened to hear that the actions of three missionaries have resulted in the destruction of property,” said Scott Trotter of the church’s public affairs division….The LDS Church went on to say it holds its missionaries to the “highest standards”…BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Brother Trotter is either very, very, very good at his job of spinning for Zion, or he never served a mission, or has forgotten everything he heard, saw, experienced, or did while on a mission. 19-year-old boys, people; 19-year-old boys. They are capable of hard work, great charity, and being profound conduits for the Spirit. They are also idiots. I was an idiot. You were an idiot (don’t even pretend to deny it; the Holy Spirit was watching what you did with that chicken).
A comment on ECS’s post Orthopraxy at FMH:
- Amy S. (explaining why, as a recently inactive member, she felt judged by still-active friends):
i think it’s really hard to stay closely connected to active friends at first because the sorts of judgments that we’re assuming you’re making about us are based on our own personal histories of judging other people. in the years leading up to my leaving i was especially apologist about a lot of things and was quick to think i had the right answers for any and every one who had concerns similar to my own, but had left the church. i managed to stay, after all, so why couldn’t they?? although totally unfair and unfounded, i assumed my LDS friends would judge me using the same sorts of criteria and rationalizations as my three-months-ago-self would have judged the disaffected and no long participating me.
A comment on jupiterschild’s post BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part II: Scripture “Mastery” at FPR:
I’m not sure that this [knowing where colloquialisms come from because of reading the KJV] outweighs the problem of plain reading in most of the text. It would be nice if readers knew where “eat, drink, and be merry” came from, but I’m not sure it is nicer than having readers that are enabled to understand Paul better. . . . I wonder whether the KJV’s seemingly greater literary power isn’t the reason that the Mona Lisa is considered great art: it’s famous because it’s famous. It’s the language in which we’ve been taught to interact with God from our youth. Therefore, it is perceived to have greater power. But my great worry is that the language will overtake the content.
A comment on Kaimi’s post Discovering Nuance at T&S:
I teach Gospel Doctrine. I would hate to teach a nuanced history lesson in Gospel Doctrine. I know the history – I’m not an expert, but I’ve read more history books than the average member. But for Pete’s sake, I can’t even get through a lesson on something as cut and dried as the Word of Wisdom without Sister Psycho and Brother Bonkers weighing in with their weird theories. There is no way I would breathe a word about anything actually controversial. Can you imagine the “discussion”? My teaching is held prisoner by members at the grassroots level, not by any conspiracy of silence higher up.
. . . One reason nuances don’t get taught is because of the format of Church lessons. They are supposed to be discussions. . . . The Church’s teaching metholodology is not set up to pour new information into people. It’s set up to have discussions about topics we are mostly familiar with. You have to find out the new information on your own – as many people on this thread have pointed out. Teaching nuance would not only require a new curriculum, it [would] require an entirely new approach to teaching.
A comment on Julie M. Smith post The Quote that Wouldn’t Die at T&S:
- DW (responding to the suggestion that more emphasis be put on having quotes properly cited in church):
May I suggest that requiring that Church members “cite” things is really not the solution here (not that it is unimportant). There are plenty of things that could be cited accurately, even with an apostle’s or prophet’s name, that are nonetheless problematically seen as definitive Church teachings — what all (good) Latter-day Saints must believe. (For example, citing President Benson as definitive support for the claim that all Latter-day Saints should never watch a R-rated movies.) One of our big problems is that we hide behind “general authority quotes” because we do not know how to discern definitive doctrine from folk beliefs.
A comment on Hawkgrrrl’s post Gathering the Good of Other Faiths at Mormon Matters:
- Andrew Ainsworth:
We spend a lot of time emphasizing reverence and the importance of creating a library-like atmosphere in our church meetings. But have you ever noticed how awkward it is at a temple dedication when everyone does the “Hosanna Shout,” but nobody actually shouts hosanna with the type of feeling you’d expect? I think that’s because we Mormons are just very unaccustomed to expressing joy and gladness in a vocal way in our meetings, and I love how the black Gospel songs do that.
A comment on fMhLisa’s post Young Mormon and Pregnant at FMH:
we LDS have an issue with disapproval, as we are so good at it! In fact we have no problem in showing how much we don’t condone behaviour we see as “incorrect”. What the more obvious issue is how we show compassion. You know I think god will forgiven us quickly if we err in failing to judge and disapprove as much…… IMHO he will be more let down by us when we have concntrated on developing our ability to show our disapproval at the drop of a hat!!
A comment on Norbert’s post Special music, part 3 at BCC:
The flip side of the musical performances or offerings is how members of the congregation can and should receive them. I always feel uncomfortable not being able to acknowledge the beauty of a performance in sacrament meeting. If not clapping, how about an “Amen”?
Comments on the General Conference open threads at T&S:
- RBH (on the suggestion that the Seventies give talks in their non-English native languages):
I understand the difficulties involved with this type of undertaking but it would also do wonders for Missionaries in the field. I served in France and were Didier to have spoken in French – it would have had a tremendous impact on our investigators and members. Belonging to an “American” church caused an identity crisis for many French members… were we to embrace (especially in conference) the global nature of the church it would change how people relate to the church organization.
- Matt Evans:
I’ve been rather surprised how unaware some of the speakers seem to be about highlighting things that distinguish them from their audience. Sister Tanner just mentioned the strong the spirit at her children’s temple marriages, but got especially choked up adding that her father was the temple sealer. Elder Christopherson said he received his patriarchal blessing from his grandfather. Elder Cook said his great-grandfather was one of the young men called to rescue the handcart companies. Someone yesterday, I forget who, said he was given the Aaronic priesthood by his father, who was the bishop.
It would be better to avoid mentioning these kinds of things because first, it wrongly suggests that they matter, and consequently implies that other members should feel a little disappointed that their fathers and grandfathers aren’t bishops, patriarchs, sealers or pioneer heroes, and second, because it makes their own experience less relevant for “regular” members or converts. A speaker’s highlighting their differences from their listeners creates distance, and makes it harder for the listeners to identify with them, or to think the speakers life experieces are relevant to their own challenges.
A comment on ECS’s post Conference Report at FMH:
- Janet (on the Solemn Assembly in which President Monson was sustained):
That’s a rather gigantic visual semiotic we just sent to our children. And to investigators. Sure, they might as well know that the church parses power via gender–but it does pain me to think that had I been in the initial phase of investigating Mormonism and watched the SA, I’d have been on the fast train outta Zion and lost the gospel. I believe in the power of priesthood, but I sure wouldn’t blame anyone who fled the premises absent a testimony of that power when they saw how discriminatory it appears.
A comment on David Knowlton’s post Where Have All the Young Women Gone? at BCC:
- sister blah 2 (on singles’ wards):
YES, people under 25 like dating. YES, want to “find the one.” But here’s thing thing, I don’t want to go to a 3-hour Sunday block to do those things! I go to church to take the sacrament, to feel the spirit, to serve in my calling, to be instructed in the gospel and unite with a community of saints.
. . . The idea that I could be in a (singles) ward council meeting, and in addition to providing single-minded service to the Lord, I’d be noticing that the EQP is really hot, is a little jarring and almost creepy to me, like workplace sexual-harassment-y or something.
A comment on a random John’s post Revisionist LDS Visual Aids? at Mormon Mentality:
- a random John (speaking of depictions of John the Baptist restoring the Aaronic Priesthood):
The funny thing here is that I think that the newer representation is pharisaical in that it forces John to conform to our modern traditions that have no basis in scripture but people freak out if they are not followed. John’s method and language would both be seen as improper if used today though I’m guessing that if he did it then it must be kosher.
. . . I’m just arguing that by not cleansing our history of its oddities we are more able to avoid unnecessary strictness today.
Comments on Seth R.’s post Monogamist Post – Meet Polygamist Kettle at Nine Moons:
We act like the FLDS are aliens and not half-brothers. We act like the difference between them and us is like the difference between man and beast. “Where did these loons come from?” “They surely aren’t Mormons.” “Please make sure that you don’t call them Mormons in your broadcasts and columns; we stopped spiritual wifery 120, well 100, well, actually 80 years ago. But whatever the date may be, don’t confuse us with them.” “We don’t like them and they don’t like us.”
But . . . we are them and they are us, and that is a sobering thought. We have been persecuted like they are being persecuted — their innocent children being stripped from them unconstitutionally and put into the hell that is foster care . . .
And yet the thing we are most concerned about is distance and dissonance. Not freedom. Not Christian duty (and the irony is thick here as we want to be called Christian so badly but don’t want the FLDS to be called Mormon).
A comment on Mark Brown’s post Youth Programs – You Make the Call at BCC:
- Mark IV:
The idea that the fundraising that is proposed is anything but a thinly-veiled rip-off of the ward members is absolutely ludicrous. If people want to pay someone else 30 bucks to mow their lawns, they are already doing it, and it is paid to a legitimate company which brings its own equipment and carries liability insurance and workman’s comp on its employees. Let’s face the facts, people: a 14 year-old boy’s time isn’t worth 30 dollars an hour. . . . Fundraising of this sort fleeces church members just as much as fraudulent inventments run by white collar criminals, and the result is young men who soon develop an inflated sense of their own entitlement.
It continues to interest me that we will bend the rules for scouts, but not for anything else. People who would rather die than let their daughter get two ear piercings have no problem at all setting aside church guidelines for scout activities.
A comment on ESO’s post Didn’t the tankini solve this problem? at Mormon Mentality:
I am currently a Bishop of a YSA ward and am the father of four daughters. I have spent many hours counselling with young women regarding many of the challenges faced by them. Issues as one’s mental and emotional health, education, career planning, dating, self confidence, faith and repentance are significant. If I were making a list of the top ten issues that I would like to see addressed by the leaders of our young women, deciding what bathing suit to wear, or what clothing to wear would rank somewhere around, oh, maybe number five hundred on the list. I don’t believe I have ever known an LDS girl in any of my wards for whom this is a serious issue. But I do know of a few who have been damaged by their leaders’ obsession about the issue.
A comment on fMhLisa’s post On Patriarchy and Patriarchs at FMH:
I believe that a system that privileges men over women inevitably forces women to bear the brunt of the “goofs” . . .
Enforcing patriarchal norms where women are always subordinate to men, regardless of personal character flaws or individual talent, provides too many opportunities for men to “goof” and for their “goofs” to adversely affect women. Under a patriarchal system, women disproportionally bear the cost of the mistakes men make, regardless of whether these mistakes are made intentionally or in good faith. Is this what God wants women to do?
A comment on Jana’s post Great (S)expectations at the Exponent:
As a matter of relative harm — far, far better that one slip up and repent of premarital sex, than that one create a much larger problem by marrying the wrong person, or, heaven forbid, having kids with the wrong person.
You can repent of sex before marriage. You can’t repent of a bad marriage, and you sure as hell can’t repent of kids from a marriage that never should have existed in the first place.
A comment on Hawkgrrrl’s post A Non-Member Kirtland Experience at Mormon Matters (about being pestered by missionaries at Church history sites):
I had a similar negative experience at the Beehive house this last Autumn. I was looking forward to the tour packed with interesting historical tidbits that I remembered from my childhood and instead was treated to a monstrous distortion of the facts.
The sister missionaries earnestly informed our tiny tour group (which consisted entirely of three well-informed Mormons) that the presence of a dictionary on the table showed what a scholarly man Brigham Young was. They felt moved enough by the dictionary to bear their testimonies of its presence on the table next to the Bible. Apparently, Brigham Young held Family Home Evening each and every week — in this very room — and each of Brigham’s children felt so loved that they were each convinced that they were his favorite child. Many famous people came to visit the prophet in the Beehive house: did we know Mark Twain loved his time in Utah? They filled the tour with similar spurious nonsense. They rushed us through the house, avoided answering questions, and then trapped us at the end of a tour where they bore their testimonies, sang all four verses of a hymn very badly, and forced us to fill out comment/referral cards.
. . . based on this experience I will NEVER bring an investigator to a church history site tour because I don’t trust the missionaries to teach true things in that context. The history is severely distorted, and there is such a desperation to force a spiritual experience that I am tempted to describe the process as unrighteous dominion.
A comment on Jamie Trwth’s post ‘The White Shirt’ at Mormon Matters:
- Steve M:
I don’t think we do anybody any favors when we get preoccupied with shirt colors or hair cuts or earrings. This was driven home to me just last Saturday as I watched the priesthood session of conference at the local chapel. The room was filled with men who, almost uniformly, were white, were wearing white shirts and suits, were clean-shaven, and had conservative haircuts. The men we were watching on the screen fit the same description. However, there was one man sitting several rows in front of me who didn’t didn’t fit that mold. He was African-American, had cornrows, and was wearing a dark T-shirt and jeans. He looked as if he was very uncomfortable. About 20 minutes into the session, he got up and left.
I don’t know if he was a member or investigator. But in either case, walking into a room full of clean-shaven white men in white shirts and dark suits, and then watching a hierarchy of older clean-shaven white men in white shirts and dark suits address a conference center filled to the brim with clean-shaven white men in white shirts and dark suits must have been very imposing. If you deviated from that norm even modestly, how could you not feel uncomfortable?
A comment on Raymond Takashi Swenson’s post Why it’s unchristian to call Mormons not Christian at T&S:
- Seth R.:
as the term is commonly understood throughout the world, no, we really aren’t “Christians.” We’re fundamentally not a part of that tradition. Our theology is totally different. . . . it really doesn’t seem fair that we get to doctrinally refute an entire world faith and then try to claim its name for ourselves.
Finally, do we really want traditional Christianity’s baggage? The word “Christian” isn’t always a really positive one. Do we want to take all their skeletons into our own closet? Don’t we have enough in our own? We have a distinctly unique opportunity to start fresh on the world scene and newly brand ourselves however we want. Why shoot ourselves in the foot from the get-go?
A comment on Zenaida’s post My Relationship with Married Men (on being single and working with and having friendships with married men) at the Exponent:
- seraphicarus (JohnR):
Jana and I discussed this topic last night, and we came to the conclusion that while there are risks to our relationship in our relaxed and trusting approach, there are also risks inherent in the more careful restrictions encouraged by Church culture. A rule prohibiting a man and a woman from driving alone in a car or meeting behind a closed door together because they might commit adultery/fornication immediately imbues that situation with sex. Otherwise innocent encounters with the opposite sex become illicit.
I felt the tension in those situations much, much more when I followed these rules than I do now.
A comment on Devyn S.’s post Polygamous Dichotomy or Dichotomous Polygamy? at Mormon Mentality:
- a random John:
OD 1 is anything but clear on the questions raised in this post. Not only that but it reads like a third grader put it together by doing a bad cut and paste job under a tight deadline. It continually references the Manifesto but does not provide the text of the Manifesto or even tell you where to find it. It is littered with ellipses. It does not announce an end of polygamy so much as describe what would happen if it were continued.
Comments on Lisa Ray Turner’s post Raising the Bar at Mormon Matters:
- Brett Williams:
there is very little stress for most missionaries in dealing with the day to day of proselyting. It’s easy to shrug off the transitory verbal abuse, the rejection. Now some take this harder than others, but I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about proselyting.
The big problem with missions, and it is systemic, is the problem of dealing with other missionaries and the leadership of the mission. The regular refrain I experienced, heard on my mission, and talking to friends, is one of consistent pressure for baptisms. Everything else is given lip service, but the pressure for baptisms is constant. If you were not getting baptisms you were sinning, and this was stated both directly and indirectly. In my mission this got to the point that a missionary who got significant numbers of baptisms was made a AP, despite getting tattoos and dating sister missionaries along with local members.
A comment on Hawkgrrrl’s post Men: The Weaker Sex? at Mormon Matters:
If women were more righteous than men, then it would only be logical that they hold the priesthood and not men. If women are generally in tune with the spirit much more than men, then the men should hearken unto the wife’s council as the wife hearkens unto the council of God.
I know, I know, I know, the priesthood is given to men because spiritually we are like a helpless broken-legged deer just wandering through the forest waiting to be put out of our misery. Without the priesthood, we would just get snatched up by Satan, and if women were given the priesthood, all the women would be so righteous, you would have women being translated right and left. Now, we couldn’t have that happening, just imagine the kind of accidents it would create with women being translated while they are driving to priesthood meetings. Not to mention the shortage of women it would create on earth.
A comment on Kaimi’s post A word that begins with D at T&S:
- Ben H:
I think it is important for kids to know the depth of their parents’ commitment to the church, but I also think it is important for kids to know that you don’t have to agree with everything everyone says or does at church in order to be a whole-heartedly committed member. For me, that’s part of my commitment.
A comment on Andrea’s post Why Aren’t Temple Ceremonies Mentioned in the Book of Mormon and Bible? at FMH:
- a random John (responding to a commenter who quoted several General Authorities about how wonderful the temple is in response to people who had concerns about the temple):
I think some of those quotes actually serve to exacerbate the problem. If someone feels uncomfortable with the temple, insisting to them that it “is the most delicious course at the Lord’s table” is likely to drive them away.
Comments on Rusty’s poll How do you feel about gay people? How many do you know? at Nine Moons:
- Nick Literski (on the phrase “gay lifestyle”):
My “gay lifestyle” includes working 40 hours (or more) a week in a government program to assist those who have become ill through radiation and toxic exposures in the nuclear defense industry. My “gay lifestyle” includes helping a friend with his resume. My “gay lifestyle” includes volunteering with, and donating to, community organizations which serve the disadvantaged. My “gay lifestyle” includes helping family members with their own personal crisis. My “gay lifestyle” included spending about a day and a half helping someone strip wallpaper. My “gay lifestyle” includes mostly things that everyone else in this discussion does on a day-to-day basis.
Bigots invented the phrase, “gay lifestyle,” in order to condemn all gay men and lesbians as wild, sexually-deviant, drug-abusing, physically abusive, etc. By all means, refer to me as an openly gay man, but please—don’t use the language of bigots to label my “lifestyle” in their dark terms.
A comment on Bored in Vernal’s post Should the Church Handbook of Instructions Be Made Available to Members? OR Can the Genie Be Put Back into the Bottle? at Hieing to Kolob:
- Seth R.:
If the Church wants me to obey a commandment, they can darn well make it public and let me know about it. If they are so concerned about keeping it secret, then I don’t have to be bound by it.
So honestly, they can take their opinion on vasectomies and and shove it.
Comments on Kaimi’s post Sunlight (on how troubling topics in Church history should be handled) at BCC:
It’s absolutely correct that it’s mean to criticize people for their human failings. I have my own faults and failings, and I don’t particularly like being criticized for them.
But then, I’m just a ward member and blogger. The calculus changes when I ask you to view my life story as evidence that I am the mouthpiece of God.
. . . Joseph Smith claimed the title of prophet, based on his account of events in his own life. Given that backdrop, ‘events in Joseph’s life’ becomes fair game for discussion.
Comments on mfranti’s post On Personal Style and Faithfulness at FMH:
I revealed my oddly stubborn niavete . . . because when the prophet started his little “only one earring” bit I thought he was leading into a joke about cultural awareness and laughed aloud. Many many glares got directed my way, but I swear I didn’t think he was serious at first!
Sometimes I don’t understand the whole “no (more than 1 in each ear) piercings, no tattoos” rule. As a person who got many stretch marks from pregnancy and has many acne scars, I feel my temple is already “defiled.” – why the hell not throw a couple of tattoos in the mix?
A comment on Kevin Barney’s post Not Letting Women Open Sacrament Meeting Redux:
- sister blah 2:
why are AA70s wasting their time on this issue in training meetings?? Even assuming for a second that having a MP holder say the opening prayer is the “right” way to do things, does it really matter that much that they spend precious training time discussing it? If I were talking to a bunch of Stake Presidents, I’d be wondering about things like how is your missionary work? How are the singles in your area? Are we hanging onto folks as they transition from high school to college (YM/YW to Priesthood/RS)? What are the particular challenges facing teens in your stake?
Instead our leaders are doing their darndest to prevent such a travesty as a woman giving an opening prayer??
A comment on J. Nelson-Seawright’s post Through the Valley of the Shadow at BCC:
- sister blah 2:
Pregnancy and birth have a way of tearing down the facade of modern American life, and exposing us to the kind of primal, life-and-death struggles that have defined the human experience for all but a vanishingly small number of us through the ages. Stepping into that realm can be simultaneously harrowing and enlightening.
A comment on TT’s post The Holy Person in Mormonism at FPR:
I don’t see the “informal leaders (who) have emerged with special chrismatic qualities, or…special knowledge”. . . . I guess I’m not holding my breathe for the day when a chrismatic wanderer comes to the podium in General Conference, speaking maybe a few words in an unknown tongue, then delivers a message universally accepted by the congregation as from God, and them dramatically departs – his or her mission finished. Would that be cool, or what?
Comments on Nick Literski’s post Certainty: Blessing or Curse? at Mormon Matters:
The more certain someone is that they see the full picture and know the full truth, the more they are likely to retain that certainty even if the things about which they are certain change radically. I would be willing to bet that most of the most vitriolic, hyperbolic, bitter, intolerant ex-mos once were among the most certain Mormons when they were active. When they believed, everyone who didn’t were sinners, unlike them; when they left and changed their beliefs, that basic perspective didn’t change.
Comments on David Knowlton’s post What is Doctrine? at BCC:
- John Hamer:
The problem with LDS doctrines/teachings/policies/whathaveyou on blacks in the past and today is that forgetfulness is not repentance.
If you steal something, putting the fact that you stole it out of your mind is not the same as repenting of your sin. If, every time the subject is raised, you say, “I didn’t do that,” and then, if further confronted with reality, you deflect it by asking “is there really any such thing as ‘ownership’ really?” then you never really repented.
At least three negative consequences are the inevitable result: (1) those you have wronged cannot fully forgive you, (2) you can never learn from your mistake and you will no doubt lapse into a similar error again, and (3) you remain in a condition of sin.
Calling past beliefs “folklore” doesn’t alleviate that condition, because forgetting isn’t the same as repenting.
- Aaron Brown:
Terms like “doctrine”, “folklore”, “policy”, “principle”, “culture”, etc. are nothing more than tools to make it look like we are drawing careful, principled distinctions that we aren’t really drawing. We want to make sense of the morass of teachings that have, or have had, currency in LDS life, coming as they do from a variety of sources which vary in authoritative weight (and whose relative authority is itself often a matter of dispute). So we make pronouncements about how X was a doctrine, but Y was just “folklore”, and so “don’t you see how EVERYTHING IS OK NOW? The world of LDS teachings makes sense again, and we can go on making confident pronouncements about how LDS Prophet X’s prior statements aren’t problematic after all, since we can accurately categorize them as something less than fully prophetic!” But this game doesn’t have set rules, so it’s easy to play and falsely convince ourselves that we’ve suceessfully tackled the problematic rhetoric from past LDS leaders when we haven’t really done so.
A comment on Jeff Spector’s post Okay, So What If It Isn’t True? at Mormon Matters:
- Nick Literski (responding to the question of whether people on the Bloggernacle respond more negatively to believing testimony than to unbelieving comments):
I can’t recall ever seeing a humble statement of testimony ridiculed or attacked in the bloggernacle. At times, however, I have seen individuals state their testimony as a weapon, in an effort to shame others into “repentance,” to bring uncomfortable discussions to a halt, or present the writer as a spiritually superior individual. When individuals have borne their testimony or shared experiences in such a manner, they have quite often faced hostility. Almost universally, such individuals have then reacted to that hostility by attacking the bloggernacle as a gathering of apostates who hate faithful believers.
Comments on Not Ophelia’s pointer to Chandelle’s post and now, a few words from the resident welfare queen at FMH (Chandelle’s post was at her personal blog, now accessible only by invitation):
- Peter LLC:
Americans seem to be able to accept in principle a criminal justice system that goes to great lengths to avoid type I errors (innocent is pronounced guilty) at the expense of committing a few type II errors (guilty is pronounced not guilty).
Against this backdrop, the hue and cry against welfare when someone is discovered to be abusing what little there is to be had is bewildering–rather than suffer a small margin of error in the service of the greater good, many seem willing to throw the baby out with the bath water and cut welfare entirely in a zealous effort to stamp out abuse.
It’s been repeated a lot here . . . I should have the choice to give, satan’s plan takes away choices so universal health care is satan’s plan and the ilk.
But we all know that society, that communities, that governments must curtail certain choices. No one argues that we should be able to choose to drive on the sidewalk because choice is so sacred that public or individual safety must be sacrificed at its alter.
So unless you really believe that all laws, all government, all taxation, all the collective redistribution of resources (such as roads, fire, schools) are wrong and must be destroyed, then I believe it is disingenuous for you to simply argue that you disagree with universal health care based on the curtailment of “choice” while we who are in favor are satan’s minions poised to snatch your sacred choices and your sacred cash.
Comments on John C.’s post Learning the wrong lessons at BCC:
I attended a pioneer trek back in the day – ours was pretty benign . . . I agree that the weepy testimony meeting was a little bit manufactured. I think also that a lot of the spiritual experiences I had as a youth and also in the MTC were manufactured.
For youth, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing – perhaps the end justifies the means. But as an adult trying to rebuild a fragile testimony, I’ve been weeding through my catalogue of spiritual experiences to sort out which ones are really authentic, and which ones are just a reaction to the dramatics and theatrics of LDS propaganda films or the urgings of YW leaders. I think youth are done a disservice by having artificial emotional experiences identified as the real deal – sometimes the real deal is so subtle it can seem anti-climactic in comparison and important spiritual experiences can be overshadowed by weepy hunger-induced testimony meetings.
A comment on Julie M. Smith’s post So many roads lead to a wet wipe at T&S:
- sister blah 2:
For a long time, I tried juggling doing my schoolwork at home, because I felt that (especially at church) there was a horrible stigma associated with having kids in someone else’s care. Ultimately I came to this conclusion–they would be WAY better off with an attentive nanny or quality preschool than constantly being told to be quiet for a minute while mommy finishes writing this. Now I’m angry at myself that I let other people’s uncharitable, uniformed judgment color my thinking for as long as I did. The damage done to kids in that situation might be something for people to consider before allowing their words or actions to contribute to an atmosphere where new moms feel that pressure/stigma to avoid childcare, even when it is the better choice.
A comment on Nitsav’s post A Brief Apologia for Going to Teach in the Religious Education Department at BYU at Faith-Promoting Rumor:
Some years ago I was privy to an unusual conversation with a General Authority whose responsibility was in whichever of the Utah area presidencies had to oversee BYU at the time. In the course of this conversation he said that by far the majority of the complaints about BYU faculty that were received at Church HQ were that the BYU faculty were way too liberal!
Apparently many, many parents complain that their child is learning some new-fangled approach to scripture or whatever that they considered threatening, and wanted such faith-destroying approaches stopped asap. So perhaps even more than the students, the families of the students are an influence.
A comment on Cynthia L.’s post Stuff I Learned from My First Trip to the Temple at BCC:
Much of the strangeness of the temple for LDS who have grown up in the Church is not the specifics but rather the fact that it is a highly formalized ritual. The notion persists in Mormon culture than formal religious ritual is an aspect of apostacy, and for someone imbued with that notion the elaborate “high church” ritual of the temple can be quite disconcerting. In contrast, my observation over the years is that converts with Catholic backgrounds take much more easily to the temple than those born and raised LDS.
A comment on Caroline’s post Ways To NOT Teach About Chastity at the Exponent:
i really wanted to laugh when the teacher brought out the banana. the question ‘are we going to learn how to put on a condom?’ was the first thing that crossed my mind. i’d just treat such methods as fertile fodder for satire if i didn’t know how harmful they were, too.
the banana lesson got even better. because the teacher’s method for trying to incorporate the atonement was to talk about turning the mushed up banana into a banana cake and how delicious it was. i wasn’t sure whether the message was ‘you can never be the same again if you sin sexually, but you get the consolation prize’ or ‘you should sin! banana cake is so much better than bananas.’
A comment on Mark Brown’s post The Easy Way Out at BCC:
- J. Nelson-Seawright (on whether there are members who accept all the Church’s counsel):
I think there are many Mormons who have constructed an edifice in their minds that they label “all the church’s counsel,” and they accept that edifice. However, the construction in question is always partial. The church’s counsel is wild and varied, it covers a vast range of topics, and, yes, it has even contradicted itself from time to time.
A comment on Ronan’s post Your Monday Poll #22 (about home and visiting teaching) at BCC:
I think I’ve decided that it’s a bit like arranged marriages for acquaintanceship and there’s something of interest to be learned from letting someone else determine with whom you will be spend some of your precious time.
A comment on Kaimi’s post Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Hell at BCC:
- Mark IV:
If we think our political opinions are congruent with the personal opinions of Jesus Christ, we belong in the mental hospital. If we think that our political positions are the only ones the available evidence allows, we are a walking, living, breathing examples of confirmation bias. And if we don’t know, respect, and love many people whose opinions are different from ours, we are to be pitied, because our lives are not as rich as they could be.
A comment on jupiterschild’s post Provo-based Media and the Priesthood Ban at FPR:
- Manuel (speaking of modern prophets):
I think it is more damaging to the Church to keep pretending every single thing that these men have brought about within the organization has been inspired by God.
It has resulted in endless shelves of books containing unfounded apologetics that often times minimize historical facts, and uses less than honest constructions and assumptions to make an effort to justify these questionable actions. A bizarre attempt to “fix” old practices and dismissed doctrines.
The problem is that many regular members of the Church adopt these less than honest apologetic constructions as if they were true doctrines of the Church.
A comment on Steve Evans’s post Your Friday Firestorm #52 at BCC:
If you force people into a corner — “you must believe that the entirety of Joseph’s revelations came directly from God” . . . — don’t be surprised when they reject the whole thing. This black-and-white thinking is a house of cards waiting to collapse. Be careful that you don’t blow it over.
Comments on Ayla’s post California, Homosexuality, and my Baptismal Interview at FMH:
- Jim Donaldson:
The history of the church in ‘obeying the law of the land’ is, to be delicate, spotted. The church, and its leaders personally, resisted and ignored all of the anti-polygamy legislation passed in the 1870s to 1890s, to the point that its leaders were in jail or fugitives, the federal government had seized virtually all the church’s property, conferences couldn’t be held, and sacrament meeting attendance had slipped to around 10%, if I remember correctly.
. . . the church always emphasized (even back to Joseph Smith’s day) how loyal and lawabiding we are, even when we weren’t.
it seems to me that the only point that anyone stands on within the books [in the Old Testament] that presumably mention homosexuality by name is that of a man lying with a man. everything else is ignored. in fact, i dare say that i could not find a single other tradition in the book of leviticus that is followed today.
A comment on ECS’s post No Girls Allowed! at FMH:
- Ardis Parshall:
Last year I joined Westerners International, a social/professional organization for those interested in western history. The women members of the Salt Lake chapter are still counted in single digits. We have only been admitted to this chapter within the last few (>5?) years, after the Alta Club, the old and established men’s club where our meetings are held, started admitting women.
There aren’t any multimillion dollar deals being negotiated, to the best of my knowledge. However, since joining, I have been brought into contact with dozens of men who from time to time need the kind of research services I offer. These are men I could theoretically have introduced myself to at any time, but in practical reality they are men whom I have never before had the occasion to meet . . .
There’s one concrete example of the benefit to a woman by breaking down the barriers at a previously men’s-only social organization roughly comparable to this Arizona country club [described in the post].
A comment on Amri Brown’s post The Little Bird and the Red Rose at BCC:
I am not a fan of the emotionally manipulative stories (especially when they get botched and lose any hint of proper symbolism they were supposed to have). At the same time, I think this is one area where the educational divide can rear its ugly head. I know many people who love these stories, none of whom are toting around graduate degrees. Does education affect how we view the gospel? If so, how do we relate to others at church that do not see the gospel the same way we do? Do we migrate away from them, or sit stunned wondering what on earth could be so good in such a simplistic story? Do we try to correct them? Or do we try to understand why it is meaningful to them? I’ve been trying to ask myself these questions lately (introspectively). It’s been a struggle for me.
A comment on matt b.’s post In defense of the Pew survey: a recap at Juvenile Instructor:
- matt b.:
I also agree that Mormons tend toward something like what’s been called a naive inerrancy, particularly with regard to the Book of Mormon. Even though our theology and the book itself is counter to it, we prooftext like mad, disregard issues of context, assume each verse is functionally of equal worth as every other, and so forth. All classic inerrant reading styles. We do it even though we don’t believe it.
A comment on ESO’s post My Fellow Americans… at Mormon Mentality:
- Jim Donaldson:
I love the Star Spangled Banner. It is the best national anthem ever. All other national anthems (except France’s and England’s which are even older than ours) are written by committees, are dull and boring, and are unpasteurized propaganda. You have to love a country that has an old drinking song for its national anthem. Really. That alone will keep us from becoming Nazis or Commies.
The SSB has personality and character, even quirkiness. It’s honest. It is the USA at its unselfconscious best. You can’t say that about the sentimental dreck of ‘America the Beautiful.’ There’s nothing ‘anthem’ about ATB. It doesn’t come close to moving one like the first few notes of the SSB does, which are unmistakable. Touching. Stirring, even.
A comment on Marc Bohn’s post Church halts sending North American missionaries to Russia at T&S:
Retention has been crappy in my ward. Less than 5% retention after one year throughout the 1900’s. As a result the ward has experienced very little actual growth. We have not baptized even one family in twenty years with an intact marriage and stable enough income to allow home ownership in this ward. . . .
Much of the area [in the ward boundaries] was developed about 30-40 years ago and is being repopulated with conservative middle class to affluent young families who value education and home life. . . . My wife teaches at a private pre-school run by the local Methodist church. This church congregation has grown from about 1300 to over 7000 in the past decade, almost entirely by the conversion of young families. . . .
My perspective of why: Young people get married and have children and move to the suburbs. They seek a network and find it at the pre-school or the soccer team or some other activity of their kids. The church network grows thicker with events like the weekly Wed. night spagetti dinners for only $3 per family and the Christmas play and the music programs and dance programs and all the other “ministeries” The growing network draws people into church membership when they see the value of moral and religious instruction for their children along with the excellent activities. Our modern communities have been shreaded by a variety of factors but they are being rebuilt around what I have heard called “full-service churches.”
The LDS missionary approach does not reach these people. They are not interested in theology, or visions or promises of celestial glory. They do not feel insecure in ways that having a modern prophet might comfort them. They want tangible benefits for their children. . . .
Perhaps we do not want these people in our church. . . . they are too superficial for us, you might say, choosing a church based on what activities it can provide for the kids and not on the truths that it teaches as revealed by the Spirit. They lack the backbone to make the sacrifices required of Mormons. . . .
Perhaps some do not want them. But I do.
A comment on c jane’s post Using Anonymous at Segullah:
Sometimes I wonder, though, if blogs also contribute to the “All is Well in Zion . . . In Everybody Else’s House but Mine” problem that many LDS women seem to suffer from. So many personal blogs are like extended family Christmas cards with photos of smiling children and exclamations of joy and delight at every turn. Blogs can take a person’s natural inclination to put her best foot forward and ratchet it up a notch (with the help of Photoshop and emoticons and specifically chosen tales of family cuteness.)
And I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a blog like that. Many people use blogs as a way to communicate with family or to have a public record of their family’s lives, and since the record *is* public, I can see not wanting to hurt a family member or embarrass someone with gritty tales of real life. But I do think that sometimes, peeking in on another person’s blissful blog can be a bit of a punch in the gut to women who assume that the blogger’s life is like that *always*. It can make that feeling of being the “only one” even more pronounced.
A comment on Spunky’s post Cowardly, Passive-aggressive or Simply Delusional: Have I Done the Right Thing? at FMH:
Church can be the most unforgiving place of all to parent. Sometimes the unrealistic standards of perfection placed on all these mothers to always do everything right under every circumstance can bring an otherwise sane woman to the brink of a nervous mental breakdown. Kids have an internal radar for those moments that parents cannot respond the way they would at home, especially in a sacrament meeting where everyone is trying to be reverent and desperate parents are hoping it isn’t their kid causing a ruckus.
Comments on Silus Grok’s post Blog Aggregators & the Dynamic Gospel at Nine Moons:
- Seth R. (on the value of the Bloggernacle) at Nine Moons:
if you provide no outlet for “loyal murmuring,” you polarize the field. The only two options are either shut up or parrot the LDS lowest-common-denominator PR line, or join the DAMU (who tend to make the murmuring here pale in comparison).
Do you really want to force that choice on people who are struggling with their Mormon identity?
A comment on Christopher Bigelow’s post Is “Unconditional Love” Really Possible? at Mormon Matters:
- Just for Quix:
I think Conditional Love of God is a very pernicious concept. . .
Why? Because splitting hairs on types of love may be interesting, but it’s academic. It is correct that trust and love are different matters with God, but to the person in need of rescue, in need of confessing their absolute dependence on God’s salvation from sin, the place to start is love. Absolute, dependable, confident and trustworthy Love of God.
A comment on AdamF’s post Celestial Marriage Amendment at Mormon Matters:
- Matt Thurston:
If we are willing to live and love and let these confusing heterosexual ties sort themselves out in the next life, why can’t we approach gay relationships the same way?
A comment on Chris H.’s post New Order Mormonism at Faith-Promoting Rumor:
When I read accounts of former Mormons, I invariably find that the so-called defenders of the faith who take ultra-conservative stances on prophetic authority, social issues, etc., are one of the principle causes for people leaving the church. This breaks my heart to see those who in their zeal for the church function as one of the greatest hindrances to its growth and nourishment of God’s children. In my limited experience, I have never seen anyone say that they left the church because their bishop, HTer, SS teacher, etc was “too liberal.”
A comment on Steve Evans’s post Evil-speaking History at BCC:
Given that the Lord has told us that an important litmus test for discerning true prophets from false ones is objective analysis of their fruits, it’s a little disconcerting when our apostles and prophets justify censoring information about their fruits. . . . it seems to betray a worry that examination of our leaders’ fruits might undermine their prophet status. On a gut level, that lack of confidence just doesn’t sit well.
A comment on Marc Bohn’s post Interesting P.R. Approach at T&S:
I’ve read over the Church’s approach to the term “Mormon” and find it confusing and contradictory. On the one hand, we’re not supposed to refer to ourselves as Mormons (instead, we are to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and we’re definitely not supposed to refer to the Church as the Mormon Church (or even LDS Church). On the other hand, the Church buys and uses mormon.org, and unleashes PR barrages when anybody who isn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refers to themselves as any kind of Mormon. WTFlip?
A comment on Dave Banack’s post “Mothers Who Know” Still Spurring Debate at T&S:
- Ardis Parshall:
The difference between this talk and many others was that it was filled with very concrete images for us to compare ourselves against, and to be compared against by each other. The images in talks about charity or tithing or honesty or temple work or purity of heart or avoidance of porn or a missionary mindset are seldom as concrete, as publickly visible, as easy to judge or be judged by, as the images in this one: everybody can instantly see whether you have children, how they’re dressed at church, whether your house is neat. It isn’t instantly knowable that you wanted children but couldn’t have them, or that you rocked your sticky little boy for hours as he sobbed his heart out for his dead puppy, or that you have been wearing your soul out helping your headstrong teenager stay somewhere near the right path.
A comment on Norbert’s post On Being Peculiar at BCC:
- Ardis E. Parshall:
Some of us have it backwards. Whatever peculiarity we have should be a natural outgrowth of differences between living gospel principles (many of which are shared by others, in which specific cases differences won’t be that great) and violating those principles. But some seem to court peculiarity aggressively as though extremes in behavior and appearance are proof that they are living the gospel. That’s like deliberately provoking persecution, or seeing it where none was intended, as evidence that they are righteous. Men may revile you for His name’s sake; men may also revile you because you’re revolting.
Comments on Batman’s post The LDS Church, Homosexuality and Suicide: How Can We Prevent It? at Mormon Matters:
The official stance of the church is that any expression of same-sex love is a sin just one notch down in severity from murder. Yet, people who have any real-life contact with gay folks don’t smell the stench of evil. Gay people seem pretty wholesome and decent up close. And this is not the case with other “near-murderers” like rapists, child abusers, wife beaters, etc. Something just doesn’t click.
- Stephen Marsh:
It is easy to be self-righteous, especially about biology. Naturally thin — well all those who are fat are terrible sinners who aren’t abiding the word of wisdom as the naturally thin have been permitted by God to truly understand it. Asexual (that is, lacking sexual drives), well, those who have them just lack self control. Have narrow and accepted sexual tastes … obviously those who do not share them are sinful, especially the same sex group. Have malleable sexual tastes you can control? Obviously those who don’t are choosing what is wrong.
A comment on fMhLisa’s post “Weeping for the Death of the (Mormon) Sleepover” at FMH:
But here’s the thing about fear, there are real risks to teaching your kids to fear things illogically . . . then you reduce their ability to sense when something really should be feared. (And you lose a lot of the joy of life.)
something like 97%of child predators are men, so you could just teach your children to fear and distrust all men, I mean “why risk it?” But the vast majority of men are not predators. So either they’d spend lots of time fearing and distrusting perfectly pleasant and trustworthy men, and/or perhaps their experience will teach them that fearing men was pretty silly anyway and they’d stop listening to your advice.
A comment on Kylie Turley’s post Reverence Practice at T&S:
- Steve H.:
One of the wonderful things about our Mormon meetings is that our congregations all know each-other well; we also have big families, and this inevitably leads to meetings which are not at the “temple” level of “reverence.” (In other words, our meetings are noisy.) In my opinion, this noisiness is basically wonderful. I have always felt that the solutions to our “reverence” problems are much worse than the reverence problem itself.
A comment on Valoel’s post Five difficult words to contemplate at Mormon Matters:
- C. L. Hanson:
So many people think that their fear of eternal punishment is the only thing making them responsible, productive members of society. Then they lose their faith and discover it isn’t true.
A comment on Norbert’s post Teaching with the missionaries at BCC:
I’m not sure that joining the Church would make my friends/acquaintances happier. It’s a mixed bag being a Mormon, for sure. Some might say that it’s not my call whether they will be happy, but I feel a significant weight of responsibility encouraging someone down the path.
Comments on Nate Oman’s post Evil Speaking at T&S:
When the 12 have spoken of their marriages publicly, they’ve usually described something like the model you [the poster] hint at–they say things like “we’ve never had an argument,” “we never raise our voices to each other,” “she has never spoken an unkind word…” It’s an older model of marriage, but I think that it can work very well, especially for people who grew up with that particular model as an ideal. The ideal of marriage has changed, though, both in the broader (Western?) culture and, to a lesser degree, within the church–people my age and younger grew up with a different model of marriage. The expectation of conflict has increased along with expectations for intense emotional intimacy; we no longer think it’s necessarily a virtue not to express anger or criticism within the relationship.
I suspect that we’re wrestling in part with this shift in the church–younger people expect to have a relationship with the Church–a marriage, if you will–with a great deal more intimacy, more give-and-take than those of previous generations expected. The Church’s model hasn’t changed, though; it’s still the benevolent and somewhat distant patriarch. Part of the reason people’s criticism spills over into the public sphere is simply that they can’t find a space for that give-and-take within the relationship itself.
Comments on Kaimi’s post Seeking for Mormon Feminism – Part I at BCC:
I do have this feeling when I walk into my ward building that I go from being someone generally viewed in the world as competent and … potent, to someone weak and powerless. I feel like I go from being somebody to being a nobody. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it has to do with the near total gender segregation of jobs and social groupings in the church, and my social comfort zone being always hanging out with the guys or with mixed groups.
A comment on Shelah’s post Is there any truth to this rumor? at FMH:
The extreme, constant, nit picky policing of modesty standards feels like sexual harassment to me.
I don’t know why. But it gives me the same icky feelings- I have a right to comment about your body, with authority over you, and shame you about what you are doing with it
A comment on John C.’s post Captain Moroni: War Criminal at BCC:
- Steve Evans:
Whenever we read of Nephites fortifying their cities and we start talking about “how can each of us fortify our cities, spiritually?”, it’s a ridiculous mockery of history.
Not all past events need to metamorphosize into a life lesson, people! And for that matter, not all scripture needs to be immediately relevant, or interesting, or chock-full of instruction. If we respect history (and scripture), we need to be more serious about how we approach the text instead of cramming it into lesson plans.
A comment on Carter Hall’s post What Would You Change? at Mormon Matters:
when a program doesn’t run well, you can blame the people involved or you can tweak the program. Success = idea’s merit x buy-in. Buy in is enhanced by ease of implementation and how clearly one understands the benefits among other things. Great ideas fail when they fail to catch on. Therefore, were they great ideas? Take the united order. Is it a great idea if it’s totally unworkable? As a church, we tend to blame the people, a time-honored tradition dating back to JS. As a pragmatist, I’m not sure that’s always the best approach.
A comment on Rebecca’s post Toddlers and Testimonies at FMH:
what do we mean when we talk about testimonies in testimony meeting, primary, and FHE? I think many Mormons have far too formal a connotation when they think of the word “testimony.” It isn’t just something that begins with “I’d like to bear…” And ends with “in the name…” Every time I discuss my feelings about the Gospel, aren’t I bearing (or baring, depending on whether you think we are “carrying/transporting” our testimony, or that we are “exposing” it) my testimony? Haven’t we read testimonies borne dozens upon dozens of times here on this blog, even if they are much more informal than those given at the pulpit? Yet there have been times I’ve been gently remonstrated after my GD lessons for not sharing my testimony. I may not have used the words “testimony” or “testify” in the lesson, but I’ve absolutely shared my beliefs and faith. Are we giving our children an incomplete understanding of testimony if the come to see testimony only as the ritualized versions we hear once a month?
A comment on Artemis’s post Blocking Care For Women at FMH:
I’ve worked as a pharm tech for 7 years now and I have to say as both an employee and a woman on birth control, pharmacists are the WRONG person to make a decision not to dispense birth control. I went on birth control when I was only 15. My thyroid had started to die off due to an autoimmune disorder, which resulted in severe hypothyroidism, but this wasn’t diagnosed until several years later. All I knew was that when I got my period, it lasted 2 weeks and I was in so much pain from the cramps that I could only lay on our couch and cry. My mom brought me into an OB/GYN and he put my on birth control to control and regulate my cycle and keep me from being in so much pain. I certainly wasn’t sexually active, so it wasn’t being used for that purpose. Birth control was a decision made between me, my mom, and my doctor–for a pharmacist to intervene without knowledge of the medical situation warranting that decision, it would be completely inappropriate for him or her to say they wouldn’t dispense my medication.
A comment on Ray’s post Is Pornography Adultery? at Mormon Matters:
- Doug G.:
When people discuss polygamy, I think they don’t actually mentally go through the processes involved in bringing a new love into an old relationship. If they did, they may start to empathize with these women who were forced to choose between believing the prophet and sharing their husbands (with all that entails) or leaving the religion. . . . reading my GG grandmothers journal of being pressured at 15 to marry her uncle was revealing. The hatred (from her aunt) that existed in the home after their marriage became so intolerable that she was forced to live in a separate cabin some distance from the main house. Her new husband only came over to spend the night on special occasions, but other than that, never spent time with her. Therefore, I think the emotions are very much the same for polygamy or adultery
A comment on ECS’s post Not our most attractive feature at FMH:
Whenever I hear the end of the world talk because of a bump in the road of our comfort, I think of two world wars and a real depression. If Hitler didn’t bring back Christ I’m not sure why Lehman Bros. would.
A comment on Steve Evans’s post Whoa. at BCC:
- the narrator:
I think “meaningfulness” is entirely appropriate in the question of abortion. By the standards of 46 chromosomes and biological function all sorts of cells in my body are alive. My white blood cells are each a life. My fingertip is a life. My appendix is a life. The chunk of flesh hanging off my knee after a mountain biking accident possessed life. Yet nobody I know of would say that those are the types of life that deserve protection and ought to saved.
. . . Elder Nelson may have learned in med school that ‘life’ begins at conception, but is that the same sort of life that we mean when we talk about a person being alive? At a funeral if we say that someone lived a good ‘life’ are we also referring to there time as a zygote or embryo?
A comment on smallaxe’s post The Perils of Parallel-o-Mania at Faith-Promoting Rumor:
- The Right Trousers (on overpursuing parallels to our religion in other religions):
It’s not just other religions we do this with, it’s the ones we claim in our own past as well. The three degrees of glory get superimposed over Paul’s clarification about the nature of physical resurrection, and we can no longer discern what he really meant. We read about Nephi and his brothers casting lots and don’t realize they expected the Lord to make his will known through randomness. We don’t talk about how the early Saints understood the purpose of sealing ordinances differently than we do.
I would guess that in these cases, we’re afraid that finding differences will shake our faith. Isn’t truth supposed to be eternal? That may be a partial reason for our doing this with other faith traditions. What if they’ve got some fantastic insight that’s either not known in ours or doesn’t fit? We’ll either avoid finding it or discount it when we do.
Comments on J. Nelson-Seawright’s post Against Abortion at BCC:
- Bro. Jones:
in our rather broken healthcare and childcare regime, I’m not willing to oppose abortion legally. You can’t make the State big enough to tell a woman she can’t stop her pregnancy, but still keep it small enough to let her and her child suffer without help.
A comment on Brad’s post That Depends on What You Mean by “Christian” at BCC:
It’s so ironic. Many LDS feel their families are somehow under assaut by the gays, and then turn longingly toward a powerful evangelical community that explicitly attacks Mormomism as a destructive cult. The Southern Baptists alone have spent a fortune trying to thwart LDS missionary work.
A psychoanalyst could have a heyday with that!
A comment on Janet’s post General Relief Society Conference at FMH:
I confess that sometimes the Mormon formula(s) get old to me. I think we should all visit other churches more often, if only to get other ideas about sermon/talk delivery and style.
A comment on Matt W.’s post Correlation is Not Causation at New Cool Thang:
- Eric Russell:
the white bible says that member referrals were the most effective way of finding people to teach. What it doesn’t say is that most of those referrals are probably voluntarily given. As it turns out, hounding members into giving up the name of someone who has zero interest in the church isn’t very effective after all. Who would of thought?
A comment on mfranti’s post Dear Undecided Voter at FMH:
If you get an adrenaline rush from replying to a blog post, you’re probably being too rash and speaking too soon.
A comment on SteveP’s post Astrid grills a phone-missionary about evolution at BCC:
Brigham Young said that everything true is part of our religion. I’ve always believed, therefore, that evolutionary biology is also part of our religion. . . . Evolution is THE central idea that informs and makes sense of the life sciences. With it, everything just falls into place, it all makes sense, the entire fabric of observations. Without it, there are thousands and millions of curious facts that point to evolution but that must all be independently considered not as evidence but simply as curious whims of God.
A comment on Elizabeth’s post Defining a modern ecumenical prophetic voice at Juvenile Instructor:
- matt b:
A challenge that Mormons face here, I think, is that we’ve unified the traditional divide that Weber observed between the prophet (who stands outside the status quo and denounces it for its sin) and the priest (whose job it is to maintain and stabilize the faith). It’s difficult to confront and uphold the institution at the same time.
A comment on Bored in Vernal’s post White Shirts: The Best Look in the World at Hieing to Kolob:
- Peter LLC:
I’ve never understood the argument that a white shirt is a symbol of purity, etc. Why is just the shirt vested with such meaning in sacrament meeting? Why not socks? Suits? Shoes? A lower law that permits the non-temple worthy to participate in meetings?
A comment on Ray’s post Opposition to the Church: A Charitable View at Mormon Matters:
What if we only did missionary work because these are people we like and would enjoy hanging out with at church and after we die (rather than all this fearmongering for eternal souls)?
A comment on Kristine’s post A Short Question (about pre-blessed food in the temple cafeteria):
My own hypothesis (no more than that) is that, in our historically-rooted aversion to anything that smacks of “papishness” or high churchiness, we’ve completely eliminated the liturgical imagination from Mormonism. We think of ordinances as a series of boxes to check off (and we really do have boxes for them on our membership records!). Even our only real liturgy we usually call “temple work.” On that model, it makes perfect sense to pre-bless the food–we’re just trying to get the boxes checked in the most efficient manner and avoid disruption. It’s the juxtaposition of our most elaborate ritual with our drive towards efficient checking off of ordinance-boxes that strikes me as endearingly Mormon.
Comments on Troy Williams’s post Why the gays need Chris Buttars at FMH:
- Anonymous This Time:
One thing I often hear people say who suggest that homosexuality is just like any other trial is that “sex is not a need”. Well, it’s not just about sex, is it. Sex is just one component of a relationship. It’s about companionship. It’s about not setting a table for one for the rest of your life. It’s about learning to serve a partner selflessly. It’s about learning to grow together with someone in the gospel. Sex enhances the relationship, makes it stronger, and it is an integral and essential component. The other parts of the relationship can’t achieve the same level of intimacy without it. And it seems to me that this is what life is all about.
And to a homosexual, those feelings and desires sure don’t seem like a “trial” – they don’t feel “broken”. All that has to happen for them to be able to seek happiness is for the church to say “ok”. Straight single Mormons, no matter what their condition, at least always have a sliver of hope that they’ll find companionship. It is NOT the same thing to be a celibate single homosexual as a celibate single heterosexual in the church.
I have heard in my life, too often to mention “love the sinner, hate the sin.” What this has always boiled down, in my experience, to is hate the sinner but get extra condescension points when doing so. You don’t really get it both ways. Those you label sinner figure it out pretty quickly, and that which you think is love comes across to them as something else entirely.
A comment on Natalie B.’s post Called to learn: what would you tell a missionary at BCC:
- Kevin Barney:
I’m glad I went; in many ways, my mission was the making of me.
On the other hand, while I’m always happy to talk about the church with anyone who is genuinely interested, I don’t really have an interest in the kind of socially invasive proselytism a mission entails. And experiencing the bizarre bureaucracy and politics of mission life can be a severe challenge to one’s faith. I survived it mainly because I have the kind of laid back personality that allows things to roll off my back. But not everyone does; I had one companion in particular who was so overcome by guilt for every little thing he wasn’t doing quite right that I feared he might do himself a harm.
We seem to want to have it both ways–we put immense pressure on all young men to go, but then we say they shouldn’t go if they’re not really committed to it. We really ought to pick our poison; we can’t have our cake and eat it, too. If we keep up with the cultural pressure, then of course we’re going to get some young men out in the field that really don’t want to be there. If the Church doesn’t want them in the field, they need to provide a culturally acceptable means for them to decline such service.
Comments on Reese Dixon’s post John McCain Wants Me Dead at FMH:
- Starfoxy (speaking of John McCain):
he was saying that the health exception could be abused to make abortion restrictions meaningless.
That idea put out there on it’s own leaves one to make the obvious assumption that health exceptions are a bad idea (because they’ll only be abused), and we should just get rid of them- which means that if your pregnancy is killing you then you’re just going to have to, ahem, live with it.
This is a huge problem because, while the woman who will abort due to swollen ankles is still a phantom that no one has managed to capture, the woman who will die because of pregnancy is well documented reality. With those air quotes McCain made it clear that imagined, potential abortions are more threatening to him than the real morbidity and mortality of real flesh and blood women.
assuming everyone agrees with the Church’s stance on abortion (only for the sake of a known example), turning these exact exclusions into law creates problems. Even if you fall under one of those exceptions, you must legally prove it. You may be required to wait for a guilty rape conviction, or a positive DNA test proving incest (but what about step- or adopted fathers?), or a legal hearing to lawfully decide if the mother’s health was in danger… And what exactly is the mother’s “health?” I’m not sure someone in that situation should have to wait for a court to decide what constitutes health and if her health is truly in danger.
A comment on Kevin Barney’s post All About Name Removal at BCC:
- Left Field:
Does shepherding the flock have to mean that every member has to get a regular visit despite their wishes? Maybe some sheep can best be served by just giving them some space. I don’t see where the prodigal son had his riotous living interrupted by home teachers every month. When the Lord moved him, he came back.
Comments on Matt Evans’s post Calendar Guy indicates he’ll sue BYU for degree he earned at T&S:
- Matt Evans:
BYU diminishes respect for the honor code when they appear to employ it coercively. The purpose of the honor code is ostensibly to maintain a particular environment on campus, not to coerce religious belief. BYU will have a hard time showing what purpose denying Hardy his diploma serves except to coerce his religious belief. What’s the purpose of kicking someone out of school after they’ve already left? There is none except revenge or coercion.
A comment on EmilyS’s post In Times of Sorrow at FMH:
- Kimberly (suggestions on more effectively mourning with those who mourn):
Realize that there is a period of shock and it’s almost protective for a period of time. The full realization of the loss does not come until the bereaved has encountered the ramifications of the daily life without the loved one. We are not fully aware of the webs and tendrils or the subtle interconnections of our lives until they are suddenly gone. Even the hope of future developments- they are gone…it is a great loss. . . .
Let the bereaved remember, talk and cry. Don’t stop talking about the deceased (unless they specifically request it)- it can make a bereaved person feel so alone…like he/she is the only one who remembers and the rest of the world is erasing and forgetting.
A comment on The Baron’s post What If Pornography Really Does Reduce Rapes? at Waters of Mormon:
- Jacob J:
I think we have to decide early on if we oppose pornography because of its deleterious effects on society or if we oppose it per se. If we are going to oppose it no matter what good things can be shown to spring from its use (think red wine and heart disease vs. the word of wisdom) then wouldn’t we be more honest to stick with our fundamental reasons for opposing it rather than latching on to whatever studies that come along agreeing with our stance?
. . . I think we need to try to get at our real reasons for opposing something rather than just using whichever arguments seem to be winning at the moment.
A comment on MikeInWeHo’s post Proposition 8 and Commandment 9 at FMH:
- Mark N.:
The think about “traditional marriage” and the Church that I find curious is the fact that the Church (or God, for that matter) recognizes the authority of the state to perform marriages at all. It’s not like there’s some vestige of Priesthood authority residing in the state that allows them to perform marriages that suddenly turn the union of two people into something that achieves a status such that the couple is no longer capable of commiting fornication.
A comment on Julie M. Smith’s post The Case Against John McCain at T&S:
I had to stop using a candidate’s stance on abortion as my litmus test. They [Republicans] could take me for granted, and bring along whatever baggage they wanted, and I would hold my nose and vote.
I finally came to the conclusion that abortion should be only one consideration, because a child dead from lack of health insurance or a soldier dead in an ill-advised war is just as horrible as an aborted fetus.
A comment on ECS’s post Open Voting Thread at FMH:
I always love voting in major elections. The whole process feels almost holy to me. It’s like a secular sacrament.
A comment on fMhLisa’s post Heartache, Healing, Forgiveness at FMH:
- Mathew (speaking of the Church):
I don’t think it is compassionate to call for civility after accruing the benefits of uncivil behavior. I don’t think it is appropriate to say no one should be vilified or subject to erroneous information if prior to that statement you engineer the funding of a campaign that traded heavily in misinformation and demonization. It doesn’t work to then say “I didn’t direct the campaign so I bear no responsibility” or “I didn’t directly fund the campaign so I bear no responsibility.” This isn’t a legal question where appropriate corporate forms can shield the actor. It is a moral question and as such each actor must answer for the morality of his actions. If the church seeded an environment in which uncivil behavior blossomed and in which misinformation was the norm, it needs to acknowledge its culpability, not wring its hands that such things exist after the fact.
Comments on Hawkgrrrl’s post Is Mormonism Built to Last? at Mormon Matters:
- John Nilsson:
Secularism and Islam are two languages Mormons have not learned to speak fluently. Using biblical language and talking about restored Christianity and the Great Apostasy is not only meaningless in those two contexts, it is embarassingly parochial, like introducing the medieval controversy of nominalism versus accidentalism in the middle of a contemporary presidential debate.
A comment on Kulie Turley’s post Just Say No (to members) at T&S:
Something about the FHE program has always bothered me and it took me years to figure it out. . . .
With FHE it was like the church was saying: we own you for every other night of the week and all day Sat and Sun. We give you these few hours with your family, not as relaxation, but as another meeting for you to plan and execute. Then we will not feel the least bit hesitant to take you out of your home any other time for any other reason, regardles of how flimsy. If you object or even whimper, you are not fulfilling temple covenants to devote your all to the building of the Kingdom.
Comments on Margaret Young’s post “Am I Adequately Outraged?” at BCC:
we brought to pass a measure that calls 18,000 gay marriages into question.
And now if we’re going to be “shocked” or “indignant” or “offended” when a few thousand overly rowdy protesters march around our temple with “Mormons go to Hell” signs, then we have no business fighting in the political sphere. If an organization successfully lobbied to overturn your marriage, wouldn’t you smash a car or two?
Comments on a random John’s post Are Members Getting Ex’ed over Prop 8? at Mormon Mentality:
having members that disagree with the church publicly is not embarrassing. Quite the reverse. It would be a lot more embarrassing if every member said or did only what the church leadership said to say and do. All during Romney’s campaign he and the church leaders and members took great pains to say that we were free thinkers, not robots. Now we get a chance to prove it and suddenly it’s a bad thing to think for ourselves? Sheesh. You can’t have it both ways, people.
A comment on fMhLisa post Personal Mommy Wars at FMH:
Granted, I’m new to this whole Mommy thing, but I don’t usually see a stark SAHM/WOHM division so much as I see a general sort of scattershot belittling.
A comment on davidknowlton’s post Pictures at a Demonstration at BCC:
- blt (on the Church taking sides on political issues):
Isn’t that pretty much the same thing, in many instances, as endorsing a candidate? Especially since the church seems to take very few political stances, doesn’t this put pressure on some members to narrow their political priorities down to one or two (usually social) issues at the cost of ignoring others (usually economic)? Doesn’t this both lower the bar for what makes a church member a good citizen and indirectly, if nearly transparently, endorse candidates?
A comment on TheFaithfulDissident’s post How I Got My Husband Off The Clearance Rack at FMH:
- Janet (on Elder Nelson’s talk where he described types of marriages as shopping alternatives):
We really need to convince the Mormon populace that not every single talk requires a controlling metaphor, becuase we do it so much that the metaphor becomes the focus of the talk, obscurring what it was meant to clarify.
. . . since the medium sometimes becomes the message, we should pay more attention to the logical extension of our medium/metaphors.
A comment on Brad’s post Prop 8 Redux: Afterthoughts at BCC:
It’s all well and good to call this [Prop 8] an Abrahamic test. But really, Abrahamic tests are usually a very bad idea, not least of all because they inflict all sorts of collateral damage on innocent people. Abraham skips off into the sunset having passed his test; Isaac is left with PTSD and years of therapy.
Isn’t there a way to test or prove some of God’s children without being horrible to others of God’s children?
A comment on CJ Douglass’s post Concealing Mormonism at Nine Moons:
- Seth R. (responding to another commenter, on ways gay couples could get the legal benefits of marriage without being legally married):
I don’t think that cobbling together a series of agreements under contract law is quite so simple as you make it out to be. Under marriage, a lot of presumptions kick in which simplify things exceedingly.
How many of you people reading this have made out your living wills?
Didn’t think so.
Thing is, if you are married, it’s simple. Your spouse will still have visitation rights at the hospital. Kicks in automatically. Which is a good thing, because only a very rare few people are really so organized that they bother to formalize all this stuff.
A comment on Devyn S.’s post My Favorite Latter-Day Prophet at Mormon Mentality:
I hate those Facebook groups where people become “fans” of things or people. They have groups for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” “Gordon B. Hinckley,” “Thomas S. Monson,” etc. When you join one of these groups, it puts a notice on your mini-news feed (or whatever it’s called) that broadcasts to your friends that “So-and-so became a fan of Thomas S. Monson.”
Now, this irritates/amuses me in a number of ways. First, putting a date and time to such a thing makes me think of those cards that Born-Agains have that state the date that they accepted Christ as their savior (“I became a fan of TSM and accepted him as my personal prophet on ____________”).
Second, the pop-culture overtones of both Facebook and these fan clubs get on my nerves anyway – I feel like they’re a hallmark of the OMG demographic – so, fine, become a fan of Beyoncé, but GBH? It makes me think of throngs of screaming tweens hyperventilating over his latest Ensign article or fawning over the tie he wore to conference and exclaiming, “he’s so HOT!”
A comment on Steve Evans’s post Steve’s big list of things we ought to bring back, unless we never did them, in which case we should start. at BCC:
As for fun ward parties — do it yourself. When Sandra and I were living in the Chevy Chase Ward back in DC, we started the habit of holding a BBQ at our house every 2-3 months and simply inviting the ward. It was great, we had large turnouts, and we still get wistful e-mails from our DC friends telling us how much they miss the BBQs.
Comments on Marc Bohn’s post Rhetoric, Ideology, and Prop 8 at T&S:
Once you start donating to political campaigns like this one, you are spending money to distort, oversimplify, and malign the views of your opponents. You should not be surprised when your opponents spend money to distort, oversimplify, and malign you. . . .
But you know, the sad thing is that most of the Mormons who donated to this cause are not political activists. . . . They didn’t want to make anybody angry. They just wanted to follow the prophet and make their bishops happy. Now that they are getting more than they bargained for, one can’t help but feel sympathy. I think of little old ladies, handed a sword and nudged into battle by well meaning priesthood leaders. Now the other side is hitting back, and they are going to get hurt.
Comments on Kristine’s post Mormonism and the English Language at BCC:
- Rebecca J:
I’ve found that praying in my normal voice is the only way I can have sincere prayer. Which means, I think, that I’ve never offered a sincere prayer in church.
- Adam Greenwood:
One reason to read stuff from non-Mormons is that you aren’t used to how they talk about spiritual experience yet.
Another thing I wonder about is whether using ready-made tribal language might actually change the quality of our spiritual experience over time. I recently went back to visit a ward where I had been Beehive advisor for a long time. It happened that several of “my” girls were home from BYU and the bishop asked them to bear their testimonies. Not surprisingly, they sounded somewhat similar and I felt like I understood very little of what they had experienced spiritually during their time at school. It was a painful contrast to the way they had spoken of their growing (or not) testimonies as 12- and 13-year-olds. In one way, they had grown up exactly as we would have hoped they would–they were beautiful young Mormon women and were clearly developing the kind of faith and loyalty which would sustain them; their use of linguistic markers of Mormonness was a sincere expression of something that had become important to them. But it was somehow a little sad to see the differences between the girl who had said sometimes she felt like God was moving her foot to hit the soccer ball just right and the girl who said she thought she had only ever gotten one answer to a prayer and she didn’t understand it get smoothed over into “proper” testimonies. I couldn’t tell anymore how the content of their experiences differed, how their temperaments informed their sense of God, or how their interactions with holiness could show me something I couldn’t learn from mine. And I wonder if the actual experience gets diluted somehow as we learn to interpret it in testimony-meeting shorthand.
Comments on Quimby’s post Let’s Rewrite the Hymn Book at FMH:
- Paul S.:
even though he’s been dead for 121 years, John Taylor is one of the worst things that’s ever happened to LDS hymnody. In the late 1800s, Pres. Taylor decided that our hymns were too “Protestant,” so he commissioned Evan Stephens, along with George Careless and Ebenezer Beesley, to write hymns (and new music for existing hymns) that would be specifically “Mormon.” The problem was that all three of them had no formal training in music – they had experience, but little knowledge of music theory. This is how we got a lot of really weird music, like “Father Thy Children to Thee Now Raise,” “Let Us All Press On,” and a lot of others (just look the three composers up in the hymnbook!) Much of the music they wrote . . . is hard to sing, hard to play, and generally “bouncy” in character – i.e., they used a lot of dotted rhythms – just think about “Let Us All Press On”, for example. A well-intentioned project that had horrendous results.
. . . Modern-day leaders (and members, too!) don’t know what good church music is supposed to sound like, and are not experts in music, but act like they are. I think we got the “hymns only” thing as a result of leaders noticing that there was too much inappropriate music in Sacrament Meeting. Not knowing enough about music, many leaders just fell back to a position of “just play the hymns, that will get the Spirit in!” Our previous Ward Organist was a dear old woman in her 80s, very sweet and very talented, but very little of what she played for preludes/postludes was appropriate, or worth listening to. So, many leaders in such a situation will just fall back on “What you’re playing isn’t appropriate, but I don’t know enough about music to say what is appropriate, so just play hymns, and everything will be hunky-dory.” This has really led to an attitude amongst church members that only hymns in the hymnal are appropriate – but, as I already pointed out, inclusion int he hymnal does not equal appropriateness!
A comment on Artemis’s post Shared Presiding at FMH:
I do find it very funny when men imply that women are power-hungry, as they fearfully or sarcastically defend their “right” to maintain power based not on righteousness but the presence of a penis. Such irony.
A comment on Natalie B.’s post LDS v. Mormon: a quick note at BCC:
One of my main arguments is the international perspective. By using LDS (and its dozens of weird translations in other languages) we fraction the perception of what the church is into a myriad of little sects – JUNS, OSZA, HLD, SPD, HLT, SDJ, KMNAKN, FMMMHN… Good PR requires a strong, well-known brand name, to which good things are attached. Mormons and Mormonism are known all over the world, but as detractors revile those names, we need to provide counterweight.
My proposal: when in need of an adjective, use “Mormon” as much as possible, and avoid LDS. Language is dictated by use, not by norms. At the same time, of course, squeeze in the full official name of the Church.
Comments on SteveP’s post It’s Raining Men: Celestial Demographics (again) at BCC:
What did all those spirits of men and women who died before the age of accountability do up in the pre-mortal existence to merit celestial glory? 18.25 billion of them, 3 times the current population of the planet. All automatically exalted. So why do I get the pleasure of struggling to gain my exaltation as part of the meager 146 million of us who have heard the “true” gospel of Christ, complete with saving ordinances?
I don’t want to sound flippant, but these numbers make God’s plan sound absurd if accurate. While scripture and logic confirms that God needs to concentrate mostly on people who are accountable for their own actions, could God’s plan really to let enough people to survive until adulthood just so they can produce offspring, 25% of which would die before the age of accountability and therefore be automatically saved? It seems the best way of getting the greatest number of spirits their exaltation. But it sounds like a sneaky way to get people there, considering Satan’s plan was to not give people a chance to choose, and infants, toddlers, and young children who die young don’t really have an opportunity to choose, either.
A comment on the BCC post Roundtable Discussion: Evil-Speaking, Part I:
I would suggest that any leader who maintains that s/he shouldn’t be criticized should be forced to cross-stitch [D&C] Section 121:39 on a decorative throw pillow.
A comment on Rebecca’s post Advent Notes at FMH:
One of the things I have noticed, as a convert, is that the moment we are into the season- be it Easter or Christmas, there is going to be a series of talks thrown at our heads about keeping Christ in mind (when I bet most of us do) and not getting sidetracked by materialism , which is useful advice, up to a point, as long as it doesn’t become an incessant theme or chronic hand-wringing gesture, which in itself, sucks the joy right out of the day.
A comment on Amelia’s post Teleology: Living For The Ends Or Living For Now. at the Exponent:
the church . . . wants to argue that certain things–gender, family, marriage, etc.–are innate and so core to eternal nature that they can’t be dislodged. but then they want to prescribe how to enact them. if they’re actually innate, there shouldn’t be a need for prescription.
A comment on fMhLisa’s post What does your FHE look like? at FMH:
- Kimberly (on her FHEs):
We do game nights and often invite our kids’ friends. We also have been doing financial teaching over this last year. Our teens have been learning about different loans, credit cards, investments, real estate, taxes (they did their own in 2007, federal and state). They all have their own checking/savings and debit cards and we’ve focused on teaching them Quicken- which we use as our family financial system. They get to view their pie graphs for expenditures and such and have challenges around budget items. A lot of people would see this as boring, but the kids never miss it- my 16 year old’s teacher was stunned that she understood the stock market.
Comments on Kevin Barney’s post Reading at Church at BCC:
- Ardis Parshall:
For improving Sacrament meetings . . .
Rather than assigning conference talks, or even topics, bishops could let speakers choose their own topics, something they actually have a testimony about or are enthusiastic to address, even if those topics need to be cleared by the bishop a few days after the invitation to speak is given (added benefit: that would cause speakers to begin to think about their talks earlier than Sunday morning). When two or three speakers are assigned the same topic — usually boringly broad ones, like “baptism” or “faith” — they end up googling the same dictionary definitions, finding the same talks at lds.org, and quoting the same two or three scriptures, because they don’t have any real interest or personal investment in the assigned generic topic.
- Jim Donaldson:
Here are some of the things we did to improve our sacrament meetings:
. . . We varied the format frequently, sometimes having six five-minute talks, or, because we had a couple of exceptional speakers in the ward, even giving the whole meeting to one speaker, and every possible division in between.
. . . We once had a sacrament meeting about the sacrament and had the talks before we passed the sacrament, thus having the sacrament at the end of the meeting with, we hoped, heightened sensitivity.
. . . On Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving, we’d do this: I’d call a few shills to be prepared in advance and the bulletin would list no speakers. I’d announce after the opening prayer that I’d be calling speakers from the congregation as the meeting progressed and announce the topic, which was something generic and based on personal experience like ‘the most important spiritual lesson my mother taught me’ or ‘the most impressive example of Christian ethical living that I received from my father.’ After the sacrament I’d go first, essentially to model the kind of thing I was asking for, then announce the next three speakers, the first of which was always one of the shills that I had asked in advance. When those three were completed, I announced another three, and so on.
Comments on LisaJ’s post The Problem With Silence at FMH:
my current bishop once started referencing the temple recommend question about “associating” with groups contrary to the church when I approached him about spearheading an outreach interfaith Christmas concert. . . . And I don’t believe I’m being at all heretical. But because HE has the authority, I have to be careful about any possible conclusions or judgments he might make about my worthiness, based primarily on his own preconceptions or misperceptions or whatever. . . .
The point is that often it seems like the offense or lack thereof is built into the perceptions of the authority, grounded or not, and that rather than answering to God through his appointed representative for my worthiness, I’m answering to the man, acting as a man, who happens to hold the office that holds stewardship over me. And so I must censor, not just to him, but to any who might mention my comments to him.
I am in the process of “rebuilding my testimony” and have found that religious books from Jewish authors are much more helpful than LDS ones. Too often the LDS advice is “just grin and bear it” “fake it till you make it” “if life were easy it wouldnt be hard” stuff. Well, those make lovely wall paques, but don’t really help in my really personal, internal struggle.
Comments on LisaJ’s post The Dichotomy of Eve at FMH:
there is a big difference between making personal sacrifices to submit to the higher plan of an all-knowing Father, and accepting a permanent second-class standing from people who know little more than you do, and just happen to have testicles.
When I was investigating the Church . . . I just thought “well, I’ll be honest about what I do and don’t believe, because the things I do believe I feel so strongly, I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater”. And, unfortunately, I was deemed to have “failed” my baptism interview, haha. I guess they tagged me as “cafeteria” before they even dunked me The funny thing is I feel really Mormon in a lot of ways, and deeply connected to so many beliefs. It’s kind of sad- it seems like, if you’re born in the Church, it’s okay to have some flexibility, make it your own, surrender what you don’t feel is right. But to convert- you have to be full fledged, thank you Lord I’ve found the one true Church.
- Left Field:
To follow up a bit more on the idea that an emergency situation requires one person who makes all the decisions–I think that’s not only nonsense, but actually dangerous. Consider a situation when the house is on fire.
Wife: “We’ve got to get out of here!”
Husband (opening Son’s door): “I’ll get Son. You get Daughter. We’ll meet back here in the hallway.”
(seconds later, they all meet in the hall)
Wife (who just saw that the front door is blocked by flames): “We have to go out through the garage.”
(they leave through the garage).
In this case, the decisions are made immediately, by the person with the most information to make the decision, or simply by the first person to verbalize the decision. The result is that they quickly get everyone out of the house.
Now imagine the same emergency when the husband has to make all the decisions. The wife wants to evacuate, but they all have to wait for her husband to make the decision. The wife knows that the front door is blocked, but can’t make the decision about the exit route.