Bloggernacle Tactic: Demanding Change To Accommodate the “One”

Lost SheepI think its time that various Bloggernacle tactics that I’ve seen used get called out and made public in hopes that such tactics will ceased to be used and be replaced with a more rational discussion.

Today’s tactic is to use the scripture about the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the 1 lost sheep as a means of demanding change. The following statement I overheard online (I wish I could take credit!) explains this tactic very well:

Like most of the Savior’s injunctions, that was meant to be advice for the shepherd, not a lever for the straying sheep to demand change. Whenever someone tells you that you should not judge their behavior, that you should forgive them without their repentance, that you should leave the 99 to come after them, or that you should turn the other cheek to them, they are weaponizing and perverting the gospel.

Anyhow, the advice for the shepherd was that he bring the straying sheep back to the 99. The ones not playing their role in this parable are the… folks who flee the shepherds and refuse to be brought back.

I think the key point here is that this scripture is about taking people out of step with God’s teachings and is not about changing God’s teachings to accommodate them but changing them to accommodate God’s teachings.

I realize that sometimes people who use this tactic often completely disagree with the teachings of the Church over what “God’s teachings” (however they define ‘God’ literally or non-literally) are in the first place. I’ve seen John Dehlin and Richard Dutcher use this tactic specifically because they think the LDS Church teachings are at odds with God’s will. Perhaps more subtly this tactic is employed in BCC’s current “Our Sisters are Leaving” post where it is also being used to claim that certain actions on the part of the Brethren are at odds with God’s will.

But if the disagreement is over what God’s teachings really are, why use this tactic at all since it then clearly doesn’t apply to the situation? We’re not then talking about some shepherd bring a lost sheep to the fold, we’re talking about a non-lost sheep bring a lost shepherd and his 99 lost sheep to the fold. In any case, it seems to me that either way this tactic is an abuse of the scripture and is more of an emotional appeal to avoid dialogue. I believe that this tactic should be discontinued.

170 thoughts on “Bloggernacle Tactic: Demanding Change To Accommodate the “One”

  1. This was one of the comments on the BCC thread:

    “This raises an interesting question for those who lead the church, and therefore—according to the doctrines of the church—speak for Christ. Are we more concerned with boundary maintenance than universal care for souls? Is boundary maintenance the more Christian choice?”

    These are people who want to be able to go outside the fence and be told that’s OK, because they personally feel it is. But if the Church were to cater to all of the groups that are trying this tactic, the whole wilderness would be our pasture, and there wouldn’t be much point of a shepherd anymore.

  2. Thanks for this post, Bruce.

    Just last night I was contemplating writing a short extrapolation from the original parable in which the little lamb in the wilderness continuously jumps away from the shepherd’s outstretched arms, while demanding that he bring the rest of the flock out into the wilderness. When the shepherd refuses, the sheep accuses him of not loving it. If you really loved me you wouldn’t try to bring me back to the fold! You would bring the fold to me. The shepherd realizes that even if the sheep were to come back, it would simply spend all its time trying to convince the rest of the flock to head out into the wilderness. He begs the sheep to reconsider. The sheep refuses. The Shepherd loves the lamb, but also loves his other sheep and will not endanger them. He weeps and leaves the lamb in the wilderness.

    This dovetails very nicely with the conclusion of the post I wrote on Saturday:

    Dead Works – When Goals Undermine Objectives

    http://www.millennialstar.org/dead-works-when-goals-undermine-objectives/

    The tactic is emotionally manipulative and as you have pointed out, wrests the scriptures and avoids engaging the real, substantial concerns of faithful members of the church.

  3. Bruce, fwiw, you’ve radically misread Karen’s post. She’s advocating reaching out, acknowledging, and helping those who feel left out—kind of quintessentially the lost sheep. She did not advocate changing anything about the church, other than its (and our) willingness to leave our comfort zone to help our sisters (and brothers) who don’t feel like they belong. That strikes me as meeting, quite literally, the demands of Jesus’ parable.

  4. Echoing Sam’s comment, Karen is advocating empathy for *faithful sisters in the pews* who feel hurt or left out. The comments on the BCC post include many stories of just such active, faithful women who feel hurt by PA’s tactics toward OW. Almost to a person, these women make clear that they are not advocates of female ordination. They are Mormons, true-blue, through and through, and our sympathy toward them is a matter of baptismal covenant to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

  5. Sam and Jason,

    Publicly undermining faith in the institution of the church and its leaders is a counterproductive method of “comfort”. It’s the same old “taking your marriage problems down to the local pub” problem I have discussed in the past.

  6. FWIW, the title of the post, “Our Sisters Are Leaving,” assumes that this is something to be lamented, rather than rejoiced over. Sympathy, yes, inviting, no. (And thank you for changing the link to reflect a somewhat more accurate reading.)

  7. No, we’re not advocating taking your marriage problems down to the pub. We’re advocating keeping all the involved parties in the pews.

  8. Thank you for the post, Bruce! You’ve elucidated some important insights. In some respects–for some individuals in particular–it does apply to the recent BCC post, but it is apparent that the many sister sheep who leave want more inclusion and recognition rather than doctrinal change. They have abdicated on the “enduring to the end” aspect of their membership covenants. If the member sheep truly loved their shepherd they would endure any deprivation, any cost to remain within the fold. Enduring to the end is a virtue many seem to have forgotten, wandering out in search for external relief and comfort when it is standing right before them with outstretched arms. The Shepherd is married to his Church (the Bridegroom) and you can’t have one without the other. But of course, we continue to succor those in need of succor as best as we can but not at the expense of the 99.

  9. Jason,

    Go and read my recent post on Goals undermining Objectives and then come back and tell me that you are trying to keep all parties in the pews.

    The pub is an analogy, Jason. Dissent from the church analogous to marriage problems and the bloggernacle is going and venting them publicly in the pub.

  10. Of course you’re spot on. The parable has the Shepard leaving the 99 to find the 1 and bring it back to the fold which was waiting for it. It does not say “move the 99 to wherever the 1 went” or “expand the fence so that wherever the 1 is, it’s still in the same pasture as the 99.”

  11. I’m tired of people claiming they just want to keep more people in the pews, because if they were truly intellectually honest, they would admit their demands (and they are demands, no matter how they equivocate about it) would cause people to exit the church in greater numbers than are retained. The slow (but increasing in speed) decline of the liberal mainline denominations shows that.

  12. I think your criticism is valid in some instances, where writers are demanding a bunch of changes. Fwiw that’s not what Karen’s post is doing.

    Also, the criticism is overblown when the changes being suggested are things like equaling budgets for scouts and Activity Day, letting women pray in general conference, lowering mission age for women, including female general leaders in (more) meetings where policy is being set, and similar (see, for example, Neylan’s list). Is this really “the wilderness”? Is this really a horrid place where we would never want to drag the 99? Many of these ideas are now adopted by the church, though they were decried as “wilderness” and foul heresy by some, right up until the moment the church said it was a great idea and started doing it. Go back and read some of the comments my Let My People Pray post, for example– a whole parade of horribles and FUD was trotted out to explain why women praying in general conference could never be. I would suggest to some that they pattern their behavior more after the church, and consider in love many of the ideas that bubble up from our anxiously engaged membership, and welcome with optimism and enthusiasm those that really are good ideas. Everyone can do this at the local level, and approving attitudes towards global change ideas aren’t enough to directly institute them, obviously, but can can help to make a fertile soil for sustaining the changes the leadership might choose to make. There really is no reason, especially in light of the facts and track record, for people to treat new ideas with knee-jerk rejection and derision and self-fabricated justifications for such.

  13. Cynthia,

    You know very well that the vast majority of the negativity has been motivated not by the substance of smaller incremental changes themselves, but by the methods by which they have been pursued by discontent members of the church. Public agitation, media pressure, and collaboration with excommunicated apostates is an inappropriate means. Righteous ends may be pursued through wicked means.

    I have good reason to believe that the changes we have seen in the church were brought about by righteous members in private consultation with their leaders and not through public agitation campaigns and critical blogs.

  14. The role of church orthodoxy and curricular policy is to care for the 99. “The one” is to be cared for by the individual, by a home teacher, by a single bishop, a friend, a family member, in private. It could even be the role of the bloggernacle to reach out for “the one,” to give them a place where they can voice and discuss their concerns with those who stand within orthodoxy, but see from diverse perspectives, some of which would be harmful for the 99 to address in church.

    The gospel is a “strait and narrow way, and few there be who find it.” The leadership is under the obligation to keep it as strait and narrow as possible. But the gospel is also expansive, “all truth,” and open to change, greater light and knowledge. This paradox can be reconciled by recognizing the mission of the authorized leadership, versus the individual. The leadership authority has the mission to keep the “strait and narrow way” and to protect the 99 by circling the wagons, telling everyone to stand in holy places. But the individual can expand to embrace all truth, through personal revelation, though tethered to the rock of the church.

  15. “Some” of the Sisters who are leaving the church will one day return. May not be soon, may take many years. But when they come back to the fellowship of the Saints they will movingly speak of how wrong they were to abandon the kingdom of God over these comparatively trivial matters.

    Every person I’ve known in my life who came back to church after a long absence has personally testified that they made a big mistake. But that takes humility.

    Leaving the Church to make a political statement, or for some social solidarity purposes, or to show one’s disgust might assuage your feelings temporarily, but it’s a huge mistake, and it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding over basic ground truths of the gospel.

    Do people not believe in patience? We’ve been commanded by the Lord to be patient. Do we as fat Americans no longer believe that heaven’s goods are obtained only by sacrifice? We’ve been commanded to offer up a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Our culture is so impatient and wants everything now. It’s the Microwave Mentality. Heavenly gifts, whether gifts of the Holy Ghost, or faith and testimony, are not dispensed like a gum ball machine.

    None of these enlightened Sisters would listen to me anyway (since I’m an inveterate masculinist), but I would say please be patient. Focus on spiritual attributes, set your heart on obtaining the heavenly gift and you might be surprised what the Lord has in store for you.

  16. Well said, Michael Towns. As you say: Be patient, stay in the fold, and see the salvation of God. In other words, endure to the end…! This, I’m afraid, is the forgotten principle of many who leave.

  17. I’ve read the BCC post. After a while I found the repeated, “I feel pain. . .I feel hurt. . .” because of what the Church or its PR department did or because of what a member did to get really annoying. I have some sympathy, but after a while I wanted to yell at the screen, “You need to take responsibility for your own feelings at some point!” Ultimately you can’t blame others for how they make you feel.

    As I read these tales of hurt I was reminded about a couple different mission companions. I got blamed for making them feel bad/hurt because I didn’t emotionally nurture them or something. I did not want them to feel “hurt” I tried being extra sensitive and ask about their feelings (I called it emotional temperature), but nothing I did every satisfied them. I eventually figured out that this was just a manipulation tactic in the end. It wasn’t just me they did this to others. These companions were eventually genuinely hurt when others did their best to avoid them.

  18. Boundary maintenance shouldn’t require much interpretation or enforcement it’s clearly laid out: Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery; For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

  19. To the extent that Karen’s post asks anything of the 99, it’s only to stop headbutting the one through the hole in the fence.

  20. Kind of underscores the purpose of fences in the first place, does it not, Kristine?

  21. Having read the BCC post, I would like to presume that Karen’s intentions with it are in some way positive, but to be honest even with that presumption I can’t see how anything positive will come from this sort of continued rhetoric. Specifically:

    “tentative raising of voices” – really? The “asking” for more influence in the governance of the Church seems to have largely consisted of very high profile public activities – nothing tentative about it. It is precisely this confrontational approach that has sidelined those in the OW campaign from the discussion of women’s involvement in the governance of the Church

    “What can be said to those women who feel that their best is not wanted, valued, or needed?” Sure, but what can be said to those men who also feel that their best is not wanted, valued, or needed? There are huge numbers of men who will never serve in any leadership capacity, whose voices will never be heard in governance at general or local level of the Church. Are they less important?

    “The world of non-Mormonism is not difficult to live in.” I think Christ made the point that following Him would be harder than not following Him. Of course we are all fallen mortals and consequently we impose our cultural norms even in the Church, which may make things more difficult for some, in some circumstances. But there seems to be a suggestion here that the very fact that it is easier outside of the Church than in it demonstrates there is a problem, when in fact it doesn’t. Discipleship is always going to be harder than non-discipleship.

    “when a person feels that their life experience is misunderstood and undervalued.” We are all misunderstood at times (I think I’m misunderstood more often than I’m understood), but we have a choice in how we respond to that. The language used here seems to be encouraging people to feel sorry for themselves and to look for blame. That may not be the intention of the post, but judging by many of the comments it seems to be what has been achieved.

    “showing a number of people—valuable souls and sisters—the door.” What about the majority of women who don’t want a change and would feel hurt if there was? Are they not valuable souls and sisters? Wouldn’t making the demanded changes be showing these other sisters “the door”?

    “those who lead the church, and therefore—according to the doctrines of the church—speak for Christ. Are we more concerned with boundary maintenance than universal care for souls?” That seems like quite an attack on the First Presidency and Quorum of 12. Is Karen really taking the prophetic role of an Ezekiel to condemn the shepherds?

    “our cultural attitudes about gender”. Yes I’m sure that we have practices that are based on our cultural attitudes about gender; just as we persist with cultural attitudes about race; we have cultural attitudes about nationality; we have cultural attitudes about disability; and even cultural attitudes about personality type (it can be really hard to feel valued in the Church as a strong introvert). But the Lord isn’t bound by 21st century United Nations definitions of equality. If and when I am given the opportunity I will express my views on these things, but ultimately I believe that we are led by living prophets and apostles and while they are not perfect, the Lord will reveal His will to them on those things that matter most. They may not get it right all of the time, but I trust that they will get it “right enough”, so that if I heed their counsel I can stay on the path I need to be on.

    “The current message from the PR professionals” – I don’t think the PR professionals make up this stuff – they speak on behalf of those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators.

    “those seeking more inclusive ground” – by definition that is different ground to where the 99 are. What appears to be suggested is that the 99 should move to accommodate the 1.

    “The spokespeople of the church are selling a dubious product” – again quite an accusation against the shepherds. Is there prophetic revelation behind this?

    “large number of concerned and thoughtful women” – does that mean those women who disagree are not concerned and thoughtful? My wife, who has 3 degrees, two of which are in Chemistry from Oxford University might take issue with that.

    And Kristine – as the article seems primarily about those who lead the Church are you suggesting that it is the First Presidency and Quorum of 12 who are “head butting”? Once again, that seems like quite an accusation.

    I do genuinely think there are issues we could address about inclusivity (not solely about gender, as I’ve indicated above), but the approach of this article will serve more to drive a wedge than to build unity or create understanding (either of the issues, or of the doctrine).

  22. Has anyone else thought that if someone gets their feelings hurt when they are not invited to leadership/administration/board-room positions, that maybe that’s evidence that that particular individual isn’t ready for those positions in the first place?

    I’ve always thought that leadership types would be more stoic.

    If the bcc post in question is the one I think, (recently linked under M*’s “Worth Reading”) that has to be the most quintessential example of new-speak/double-speak psycho-babble sophistry that i’ve seen. Are there any gender-related progressive buzz words not included in it?

  23. “Are there any gender-related progressive buzz words not included in it?”

    No, and that’s why it’s execrable. It’s politically “correct” bovine fecal matter.

    One of my major gripes about today’s pseudo-intellectualism is the stark reality of political correctness’ dearth of philosophical depth and sophistication. PC reveals the absence of thought, not its plenitude. When its adherents can divorce themselves from cant, then we have real conversations.

  24. The Bloggernacle extremists want to the flock to follow the straying sheep, and the Bloggernacle moderates just want the shepherds to stop letting people know where the flock is. Because that might hurt the strays’ feelings.

  25. “Almost to a person, these women make clear that they are not advocates of female ordination. They are Mormons, true-blue, through and through, and our sympathy toward them is a matter of baptismal covenant to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”

    Jason, if they are not advocates of female ordination, then why are they identifying with OW in the first place? Why does the Church not meeting with OW somehow supposedly offend them or have any relationship to them at all?

    It’s like trying to tell me that because the US won’t negotate with some muslim terrorist organization than its therefore a slam on all muslims everywhere.

    Okay, granted OW is hardly terrorists — though the analogy of the near complete lack of connection between those you claim the post is about and those that the post is actually about seems apt to me still.

    So if you don’t like the terrorist analogy, then let’s use a closer one. It’s like telling me that if the Church PR doesn’t meet with women insisting on ordination using public shaming tactics that they are somehow insulting any woman whatsoever in the Church that feels hurt but *isn’t* insisting on ordination and *not* using public shaming tactics. Yup, that’s a much better analogy, I think.

    I’m honestly confused why you think Karen’s post is in any way readable as a defense of women who feel hurt or feel they want a greater role but don’t want ordination. Why would such a woman in any way indentify with OW in the first place? What is the connection that you see that I don’t? And if that was Karen’s real intent, wouldn’t it have been far easier to instead write a post about how women everywhere that feel hurt should NOT see the Church’s rebuff of OW as in any way relating to them because it isn’t relating to them?

  26. One other point:

    As I understand it, OW is an organization that is insisting on ordaining women using human rights tactics to create a public shaming campaign. I think that’s exactly what they are doing via their tactics of creating victims for the secular media to eat up. And Kate Kelly was not shy about this being her purpose in her most recent interview. So we have it right from the founder’s own mouth.

    Also, Kate Kelly, won’t answer questions about whether or not she believes that the Church alone holds priesthood authority and that there was a need for restoration of the priesthood because it was lost from the earth. She won’t even answer such questions on a podcast entitled “Ask Kate Kelly anything.”

    Now it seems to me that between those two points that we’re not dealing with a mere desire (at least on the part of the OW leader who founded the organization) to see people someday ordained when God wills it – a very believing and understandable point of view — but someone that doesn’t believe that the Church is led directly by revelation from God and thus sees a campaign like this as the true way to make changes.

    And if Kelly is right about this, it seems to me that this is really just equivalent to the Church not being what it claims to be as far as I can see. (Can you please explain to me how it is something other than that?)

    So the struggle of OW isn’t over female ordination at all, its over whether or not the Church is what it claims to be. So we’re talking about a basic struggle over the most imaginably basic doctrine of the Church. The ordination of women is almost irrelevant to legitimate concerns over OW.

    Can I ask an honest question? Why do those at BCC not see that this is obviously going to be perceived that way by most believing members? And why do they never point that out and instead charge onward with the assumption that the only possible motive for the Church to not meet with OW is because they want to do nothing to help women (or men for that matter) that are hurting?

  27. I think the BCC post was written in response to the Peggy Fletcher Stack article in the Salt Lake Tribune describing a discussion Church PR had with women who weren’t affiliated with those seeking female ordination.

    If the Church has been reaching out to a variety of women, as represented, why is it only this discussion with the one group identified in the article?

    I think someone got super-excited that they’d had a chance to chat with Church PR and tweeted it or in some other manner betrayed a conversation the Church appears to have wished kept quiet (assuming the Church and participants won’t disclose what they said in the 90-minute conversation, as I think I read in the article).

    When one desperately wishes to be important to the Church and then finds out that others deemed line-towing ciphers have been consulted, it can hurt. In case we didn’t realize that, we need only read the comments to the Trib article and the BBC post.

  28. Meg … to address your comment about someone tweeting out their conversation with Church PA. We were told in that meeting we could mention that we had the meeting, but not what was said. Mormon Women Stand announced the fact that they had the meeting with Church PA, with Church PA knowing about it. None of us who were part of the meeting have discussed the details, past we had a meeting with them. It was uplifting and enlightening. I was happy to have been asked to participate.

  29. Meg,

    Sure Meg, if someone that supports OW finds out that MWS is interviewed and OW isn’t, I can certainly see how that would make a follower of OW feel bad.

    But that isn’t what is being claimed by Jason and others here. The claim is that a woman not seeking ordination that finds out the women are being consulted by the Church — but not a group of public and very vocally individuals putting pressure on the church to ordain women — that that would naturally make them feel bad too. Your explanation doesn’t address this claim.

    Also, for those that are supports of OW that feel bad over this. Like I said, that’s certainly understandable from a human viewpoint. But OW is not a passive participate in this affair. If you’ve been warned you shouldn’t use public protests, then you do, it’s not really that suprising, is it, that they weren’t consulted by those that already told you not to? So it seems a little unfair to just take one side and say “OW feels bad and the Church needs to fix it!” — which is the tone of the article as I had originaly read it. And I’m still scratching my head for any other way to read it.

  30. As for sisters leaving the church….

    I think everyone at one time or another has gone thru a period of hurt. What I see right now, is people, who have perhaps had run ins, or been offended by local leadership (who sometimes make mistakes) and then project that hurt on to the church. What I would suggest to any woman who is hurting is to take a step back from the bloggernacle, from social media, from the cacophony of dissent and go to the Lord in prayer. Just ask for help and ask to be directed where you can find the help you need from a local source — be in an RS Pres, a bishop, a Visiting Teacher, the scriptures, patriarchal blessing, Ensign articles …. there is help to be found, there are people waiting to be help, and who want to help. I think you will find that most faithful women are willing to listen, to love and to help. The person, however, needs to want the help, and to be willing to take the answers the Lord has and will provide. Many loudly dissenting groups have been given clear answers to their queries by the Church, but because the answer is not what they wanted to hear, they persist, they agitate more, and they alienate those who would love to help them. We must remember that the Lords ways are not our ways, and that His answers might not be what we want to hear, but they will be for our benefit, if we are willing to accept them. That takes humility and patience, and I am not perfect in this at all … but I know from past experience when we allow the Lord to be the driver and TRUST in him, things will work out. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.

    Thanks for the post Bruce. Excellent as always.

  31. “When one desperately wishes to be important to the Church and then finds out that others deemed line-towing ciphers have been consulted, it can hurt. In case we didn’t realize that, we need only read the comments to the Trib article and the BBC post.”

    Meg, as you know it takes two sides to be offended, the people who are supposedly doing the offending and the parties that choose to be offended. Church leaders have given us guidance to try to avoid being offended by choosing NOT to be offended. In this case, that guidance is especially apt because there clearly was no intent to offend on the part of MWS. I am pretty sure you would agree.

    We have reached the point in human history where the worst thing you can do is offend somebody, even when you don’t intend to. This is definitely a First World problem, but I still think we owe it to our friends and neighbors to avoid the “I am offended” pity party.

  32. It’s amusing to me that, having dragged the Church kicking and screaming into a public discussion on this matter, Church OW suddenly finds it so very hurtful, disrespectful, and humiliating when the Church publicly says “we disagree with you, this is why, and we are not amused at your tactics”.

    Something about heat and kitchens comes to mind, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to use that metaphor in a discussion about feminism.

  33. If the OW and BCC folks want the church to listen more to women, they should be pleased that the PR folks met with MWS. The only reason to be upset is because it’s apparently not the right kind of women. But the reality is the church understands the OW and BCC women, and is tailoring all kinds of messages to their concerns. Both in conference talks, media activities, etc. it’s only when the church doesn’t fall over itself to give OW or BCC what it wants (I realize these aren’t the same monolithic entities, but both are playing the offended card to some degree over being ignored.)

    The reality is they’re not ignored as plenty of messages are tailored to their concerns. They just don’t like the message. I’m pretty sure there is nothing I could do to get Elder Oaks to write a conference talk for my concerns. OW got a message from the apostle, over the pulpit to the general membership. What more can they ask

  34. Howard, what about the fact that if the types of changes you’re advocating hurts people that want to continue to believe the LDS church is lead by prophets and revelation and drives them from the Church? Including myself?

    I think you’re ignoring the fact that no matter what the Church does it hurts someone. This is as much about not wanting to hurt the 99.

    Besides, your quote entirely ignores the argument I made in the OP and it seems to me that argument undermines yours too. How is that scripture relevant to someone that either a) is demanding God come to them, b) honestly believes that the shepherd and the flock needs to come to God because they are the ones that have gone astray? Can’t we aat least admit the obvious: that your scripture doesn’t really say antying meaningful here because boundary maintenance can just as easily be interpreted as not changing God’s commandments but still asking the sinner to come unto God. In which case boundary maintenence is the same as the scripture you quote.

  35. Question for those who sympathize with the BCC post: Are there *any* instances when hurt feelings and personal moral objections to the church should *not* influence the course of the overall church? …any circumstances when people’s negative reactions to the church are their own crosses to bear–or the result of their own choices–and do *not* credibly carry weight as an indictment against the church’s status quo?

    Cynthia writes: “Many of these ideas are now adopted by the church, though they were decried as ‘wilderness’ and foul heresy by some, right up until the moment the church said it was a great idea and started doing it.”

    Um, yeah–that’s exactly how the church works. Do OW-types not understand that that’s how a faithful church member thinks? I oppose ordination of women to the priesthood, and same-sex marriage, and any number of other things because that’s what I know God has revealed through his leaders. If those leaders announced tomorrow a 180-degree reversal of any such policy via revelation, I would line up and endorse it as fully as I oppose it now. All of the M* writers would. Roll your eyes and call it convenient if you want, but that’s how it is.

  36. I totally agree with the question, if you don’t support the goal of OW, then why are you sticking up for them? The very idea that you were offended they were not invited underlines you do support them. Its time for “moderate” and “liberal” sisters to choose between the Church and whatever hobgoblin they create for themselves. I know of this group of likeminded Mormons who have been around for over 100 years who might be a better fit . . . or you could always repent of murmuring against the Lord’s anointed.

  37. Huston,
    I tried my best to respond to your question and to what prompts all of this ages ago, and probably failed, but here it is. Also, I’m sorry for breaking my vow. It won’t happen again.

    Yours,

    John C.

  38. John, I’m reading through your post and… honestly it’s quite good.

  39. “I oppose ordination of women to the priesthood, and same-sex marriage, and any number of other things because that’s what I know God has revealed through his leaders.”

    Huston, that’s fair enough. That’s not what I object to. What I object to is being told that women can’t pray in general conference because (a) inevitably nepotism will be involved in choosing who will pray, (b) that nepotism, or appearance of nepotism, will cause bitterness and resentment, (c) priesthood is required to pray in general conference, (d) that’s just a terrible and silly idea that only an idiot would think is a good idea, etc. (Seriously, go read the thread I mentioned earlier.) That’s what I was talking about with “self-fabricating justifications”–this thing that people do where they invent very specific reasons why something not only can’t be now, but never can be in the future. If all you’re saying is, “I don’t support this now because that’s not our policy now, but if it changes in the future I will support it,” and you change your mind later if/when the policy changes, that’s perfectly consistent. It doesn’t actively block change. It is being that fertile soil I was talking about. But that’s often not what we see.

    “I think you’re ignoring the fact that no matter what the Church does it hurts someone. This is as much about not wanting to hurt the 99.”

    Bruce, I don’t see why that is the case for most of the reforms people think are a good idea. Did women starting to pray in general conference “hurt the 99″? Did instituting sister missionary leadership positions “hurt the 99″? That’s what I was talking about earlier, about how labeling any change at all the “wilderness,” just per se because it is a change, is silly.

    “if you don’t support the goal of OW, then why are you sticking up for them? The very idea that you were offended they were not invited underlines you do support them”

    Jetboy, you may as well ask why somebody would be saddened by seeing someone else kick a puppy–”You weren’t kicked, why should you care?” It’s called empathy. Some of us don’t like to see anybody slighted, even if we may disagree with them. I may think Mitt Romney was wrong on almost every issue and should not be president, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad and angry on his behalf when some commentator makes a terrible remark about his grandchild’s race. That people feel this way shouldn’t be surprising or unimaginable.

  40. Somehow, Cynthia L.’s puppy-kicking analogy doesn’t resonate with me — it has no bearing on the current circumstance. The closest I can get is a person accidentally stepping on his or her long-time friend and companion, and the dog yelping, and both immediately succoring the other as life continues onward — that’s an analogy that can fit.

  41. Please, don’t accuse me of comparing women to dogs — I was merely taking Cynthia L.’s imagery and adapting it somewhat to make it more kind and more charitable… :-)

  42. There’s a term I learned of while studying the Irish situation:

    triumphalism

    It is when a person or group by their statements and formulation of statements “triumphs” over the opponent. This is a hard one, because the one writing the triumphalistic statement often thinks they are merely stating reasonable fact.

    Going back to the comment I made last night before getting a good long rest, I would say that though the PR folks no doubt told MWS that they were not to discuss the content of the conversation but allowed as how they could admit the conversation occurred, I’m not sure “admitting the conversation occurred” meant having Peggy Fletcher Stack write it up in the Trib.

    I will say that I have been part of one of no doubt many groups of women consulted by PR in the same vein as the MWS discussion. And it is from this perspective that I express both my suspicion that something went wrong to have the MWS conversation get publicized so prominently by the Trib, as well as my rejection of the Trib commentators that PR is merely going to Molly Mormons who agree with everything that currently exists in Mormon culture as being uniquely and eternally true, never to be modified.

    I might not get that impression if the MWS conversation had been mentioned in a Church News article talking about the Church reaching out to women across the board, illustrating this as one of the many ways the Church is fulfilling its dual stewardship to care for God’s children while ensuring God’s doctrines remain true to God’s instructions.

    By the way, I think for a gender-polarized discussion, rather than talk of kitchens and such, a better pithy summary might be “If it’s too hot in the smelting plant, get another job.”

  43. I see a certain amount of ‘reading into’ going on in some of the responses. Otherwise I’m impressed by the high quality and thoughtfulness of the participants. Personally I love the ‘mother hen’ scriptures which depict the Lord, and by analogy, His church, as providing sustenance and shelter and yearning for those wandering to return, often combined with condemnation of the rebellious who willfully refuse the shelter. What parent has not experienced the futility of chasing after an errant child who often dodges and giggles as they engage you in a chase. Most experienced parents hold their place and issue a promise and a threat. If pursuit is necessary to keep the child from imminent harm, retribution usually follows fairly swiftly. I imagine that those who feel offended will resent being compared to errant children, but even as a fairly elderly grandparent I am willing to accept the role of child of God.

  44. Cynthia L, if I may say so in the nicest way possible, I would say that your comment above at 11:18 p.m. reflects another Bloggernacle fallacy: taking one or two comments from extreme internet trolls and then construing them to reflect the thinking of entire groups and then triumphantly announcing your opposition to the trolls’ positions. If you have been reading M* over the years (and it is OK if you haven’t) you will have seen me and others write *repeatedly* that we are open to change that makes women feel more included. I am personally quite open to the idea of women’s ordination — *if it takes place through the normal revelation process in the Church.* What I and people like me have said again and again is that we are defending the Church’s revelatory process and opposing public campaigns against the Church, which is what the OW movement is. I can tell you that most people in my conservative ward in Colorado agree with my position, and I think the vast majority of faithful Mormons do.

    This tactic — basing your position on the opposition to the worst and most extreme commenters — seems dishonest to me. It seems like an excuse for manufacturing outrage. It is silly to worry about what some random troll on the internet thinks about the issue rather than concerning yourself with what the vast majority of Mormons think. If I could add to Bruce’s post, I would ask that avoiding the use of this tactic would also end a lot of unnecessary conflict and contention.

  45. There is a real difference between being ‘lost’ and being rebellious although they are often equated. I seldom get lost, but when I do I welcome any help in getting found. That is how I view the lamb in the parable, as someone who has innocently wandered off and welcomes the rescuer.

  46. Meg,

    Regarding your “triumphalism” comments, I think you need to realize that when you say “The Tribune” what you really mean is Peggy Fletcher Stack. Ms. Stack is hardly an unbiased source. Based on her columns over the last few years, its pretty clear that she has the leadership of some of these groups, including OW and BCC, on speed-dial. She takes any kind of “blog buzz” and turns it into a story to further the cause of dissident groups.

    I suspect that what happened is that when Mormon Women Stand posted on facebook that they had met with the church’s PA department, Peggy Fletcher Stack immediately picked it up, contacted her friends at OW and possibly BCC to get a few reaction quotes, and then purposefully turned it into a controversy in order to further the cause of OW.

    So to say that BCC was reacting to an article at the SL Tribune is kind of silly since they help generate this kind of “news” in collaboration with Ms. Stack all the time.

  47. Thanks for this article. Although I haven’t read all of the other literature discussed in the comments above, my husband and I have voiced this concern a number of times. As a church leader, he has been told how he is not doing his calling/job because he is not making members feel “loved” because he is basically not doing exactly what “hurt member” wants. And because there is so much emphasis in the church about loving people and bringing back the one, we do feel guilty or spend more time and physical and emotional energy catering to the “lost” one.
    I have seen people use the talks and lessons taught about serving others, not to be more motivated to serve others themselves, but to hang over someone else’s head how a leader or someone else is not following this guidance and being Christlike. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe the talks were meant to be used as ammunition or manipulative tools to condemn someone else.
    There are people I have dealt with in my church service, that I have had to choose to invest less time in because whatever time and energy I gave them wasn’t enough. I think we have many church leaders feeling guilt and being manipulated by those using these tactics. Because of this, families suffer, and congregations suffer because most of our time ends up being spent on people that can’t get enough.

  48. Bruce,
    The scrpiture I quoted is expressly written. I think a big problem is created by declaring that the church is more than the Lord says it is and attempting to police those greater boundries but I eagerly await your exegesis. When we accept the Lord’s church boundaries as He defined them these arguments become a lot to do about nothing. When “truth claims” and cultural markers are turned into creeds and worthiness tests used to judge and exclude other saints particularly without due process we have perverted and corrupted the core core concept of the Lord’s church and as the scripture clearly states this is not if Him or of His church.

  49. Amy’s comment is by far the best so far in a thread full of important ideas.

    The difference between the parties here is that some seem inclined to give automatic preference to the grievances of malcontents, while others are devoted to giving preference to the official, organized status quo. The motive of the latter is adherence to the authorized guidance as demonstrated by personal divine manifestations by the Spirit. The stated motive of the former is to empathize with the emotional experiences of individuals.

    While that motive is noble, it has the practical effect of hurting individuals in the long run, as it distances them from the institution of the Church, wherein reside the blessings of the Restoration.

    But just as insidiously, the malcontents function in the same way they would if they were actually seeking to destroy the Church: not by violently, openly fighting it (which would only strengthen the institution), but by slowly corrupting it from within–the same way the Book of Mormon says the Great Apostasy began in the first place (1 Nephi 13:26-28).

    One would think this would be a red flag to sympathizers.

  50. Hi J. Max Wilson,

    I suppose I am suggesting that whatever “artifact” was used by Ms. Stack to determine that MWS had had a conversation with the Church’s PR folks, it would have been better had MWS been more discreet.

    As I mentioned, I’ve been part of one of these conversations, though not the MWS teleconference, so I’m assuming I have a fairly good understanding of what the representatives of MWS were told about the discussion. I don’t recall anything that would be consistent with “Go ahead and tell your Facebook and Twitter friends know we’ve had this conversation.”

    I mention that I participated in a conversation to belay the impression that PR went uniquely and solely to MWS, which if understood as an isolated event would appear to have been a calculated snub to another group.

  51. As I have been looking at this, it really does seem to come down to a difference in what people believe the Church to be. Is it a collection of individuals supporting one another and helping one another (“we are the Church”), or is it the Lord’s Kingdom on Earth? If it is the former, then perhaps we ought to focus more on being empathetic and understanding. If it is the latter, then we ought to look to the Lord and His Priesthood leaders for guidance, and not be so hasty to condemn them for what they do and say.

    For what it is worth, there are any number of organizations that can take the mantle of the former, and provide that understanding and empathy. There is only one organization on the Earth that can fulfill the role of the latter. Let’s let the Church do what it alone can do, and give the established order of the Lord the benefit of the doubt.

  52. @ Howard: Obviously it’s dangerous to make blanket statements about someone’s internal motives; but I think it’s fair to say that “soft-hearted” and “repentant” are not attributes that OW has successfully incorporated into their public image.

  53. Jonatha, yes, I think this is really an argument over what the church is. Neither view is truly a bad view per se. But they are mutually exclusive views, unfortunately. Thus not everyone can be accommodated at the same time. It is literally physically impossible. I feel like failing to accept this — regardless of what you believe the church to really be — is really just a failure to discuss at all.

    Meg, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that you feel MWS, via the quote below off their facebook page, did not stick to the spirit of what was asked of them? Is that correct?

    Through the magic of technology, nearly the entire Mormon Women Stand admin team met with these inspired women [Jessica Moody, Lauren Winder and Teresa Elwood] from [LDS] Church Public Affairs,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “As you can imagine, gathering all of these bold women in one meeting to discuss women’s issues was a treasured experience for everyone who participated.

  54. Howard, I am not sure I understand what you are getting at any more. Obviously I completely agree with the scripture you quote and I also believe the Brethren do too and are actively fulfilling it to the absolute best of their ability.

    I take you interpret said scripture in some way such that you believe that the Brethren are being negligent in their duties to what Christ wants?

    If that is the case, it might be helpful if you got more specific about what you believe the Brethren needed to have done to fulfill this scripture in this circumstance. What would be, in your opinion, the correct way for them to have handled the OW situation in terms of wanting to get feedback from women in the church (including MWS, but also Meg who is not part of them. And presumably many other women.) Are you suggesting that unless the Church meets with Kate Kelly and other OW reps as well that they are not fulfilling this scripture?

    Also, can you maybe take a hypothetical. Suppose there is someone that feels uncomfortable at church because they smoke. The people in the church are nice enough to him and are never anything but kind. But they continue to in church teach that one must obey the Word of Wisdom to fulfill God’s commands and he is not allowed by his Bishop to hold a Temple Recommend because he smokes. This makes this gentleman feel ‘excluded’ and so he stops coming to church. In your opinion has the church not fulfilled the scripture you quote?

  55. “I suspect that what happened is…”

    So in other words you don’t have the faintest idea. How about you add “stuff I made up” to the list of things we should refrain from venting down at the pub.

  56. Meg,

    Here is the Facebook post from Mormon Women Stand:

    https://www.facebook.com/mormonwomenstand/posts/1425270021067349

    As Joyce pointed out in a comment above, MWS received explicit permission to say that they had met with the PA department, and PA knew that their announcement above was going to be posted.

    I don’t see why they should have been more discrete about it. The text of the announcement was clearly directed at the people who had liked their page.

  57. Cynthia says: “Huston, that’s fair enough. That’s not what I object to. What I object to is being told that women can’t pray in general conference because (a) inevitably nepotism will be involved in choosing who will pray, (b) that nepotism, or appearance of nepotism, will cause bitterness and resentment, (c) priesthood is required to pray in general conference, (d) that’s just a terrible and silly idea that only an idiot would think is a good idea, etc. ”

    Wow, okay, I can complete agree with you on this part. Consider me on your side here.

    But then you go on to say, “Bruce, I don’t see why that is the case for most of the reforms people think are a good idea. Did women starting to pray in general conference “hurt the 99″? Did instituting sister missionary leadership positions “hurt the 99″? That’s what I was talking about earlier, about how labeling any change at all the “wilderness,” just per se because it is a change, is silly.”

    Now here I have an issue. Are you mispotraying the people above as much as you are me and those here? Where am I or any where here saying that we’re against making reforms and raising awareness of gender issues, etc?

    It seems to me here, Cynthia, that you are confusing opposition to Kate Kelly’s public shaming tactics (thus not getting her a seat in the discussion) with the above reforms as if they are wholly one and the same. Is that what you honestly believe? Am I misunderstanding you? What am I missing here?

    You go on to say that the issue is that by Kate Kelly not getting added to the discussions this is equivalent to the Brethren ‘kicking a puppy’? And that’s why you sympathize? Can you see how this might make not a lot of sense to me and that you might need to explain yourself a lot better?

  58. Jim D wrote: I think it’s fair to say that “soft-hearted” and “repentant” are not attributes that OW has successfully incorporated into their public image.. You may be right about this but without additional evidence I don’t think you can argue that they are hard hearted or unrepentant about coming unto Christ and according to my read of the D&C scripture I quoted that places them firmly within the Lord’s church as He defines it.

    Christ is our exemplar. Who did he criticisze? Pharisees. Who did the Pharisees police and criticize? Other saints regarding pharasical laws and Christ himself. We should be careful to not become Pharisees and follow Christ’s example.

  59. Peter LLC,

    Your sarcasm is not welcome here. My original “I suspect” comment was an educated guess based on what I knew. Since then I have spoken with a member of MWS and my hypothesis is pretty accurate. Ms. Stack appears to have seen the post on the MWS facebook page and generated a story out of it.

    She’s been doing this kind of thing for years. See my post:

    Echo Chambers, Propaganda, and Agitation for Change in the LDS Church

    http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/echo-chambers-propaganda-and-agitation-for-change-in-the-lds-church/

  60. The call I was involved in was very similar. However while we were told we could confirm that the conversation had happened, *if asked*, I don’t recall being in any way encouraged to flaunt the fact of the conversation.

    I don’t see anything about the Facebook posting that indicates Church PR was specifically consulted regarding the Facebook post, per se.

    I don’t disagree that the MWS folks thought their actions were appropriate. They didn’t betray the content of the discussion. But I don’t agree that the Church PR department therefore welcomes the fact that it was announced on FaceBook, which led to the Trib article and the BCC post that we are discussing.

  61. As for discussing triumphalism, I don’t accuse anyone of having knowingly acted wrongly.

    But as this discussion continues to heat up, it is useful to look at a population that got so upset with one another that they started bombing each other. It is instructive to learn what it was about their communications with one another that caused so much hatred and polarization.

    I would prefer to live in a world where the individuals advocating the position I myself align with avoid behaviors (e.g., triumphalism) that have been proven to lead to an extreme level of hatred and polarization. This does not mean we have to avoid remaining true to our position.

  62. Meg,

    If you’re right, then MWS did (presumably unintentionally) over step their bounds and the end result was that it gave PSF ammunition to turn it into a biased article supporting Kate Kelly’s position by reframing it as “only MWS — a bunch of Molly Mormons — were allowed to talk to the Church while the equally faithful and believing Kate Kelly was left in the dust just because she believes in ordaining women.”

    I’ve actually talked to a couple of friends that happen to be in MWS and told them they shouldn’t talk to PSF at all and should starve her out because she is openly hostile to the Church about as far as is possible and still be able to claim to be an objective journalist. But the thought had not really occurred to me that maybe the initial FB post was a misunderstanding of the Church’s intent.

    Having said that, I would like for you to consider how this might have easily happened to yourself. You might have mentioned in passing your meeting to someone (you did — to me) and that person might have not realized it and passed it to someone, etc, until PSF finds it and then turns it into a piece about how Molly Mormon Meg — who has been openly flaunting her opposition to Kate Kelly by critically analyzing the well meaning discussions meant only to generate dialogue — got to meet with the Church while Kate Kelly herself didn’t just because she supports ordaining women.

    I mean let’s not create situations where PSF and the media can shoot at us, but let’s accept also that no matter what we do they will. MSW may have been unwise here. But there is a good chance it all would have happened anyhow the moment any sort of leak took place — which seems inevitable in an all too closeknit Internet community.

  63. “Flaunt” and some of the other language you are using is unnecessarily shaming and provocative. Until you have more information than you do, avoid fighting words.

  64. Hi Bruce,

    Here’s a redacted copy of my response to your query about being interviewed and when you could expect to see the result:

    “Hi Bruce,

    “[We] chatted with the PA folks for about an hour. They pretty much said they’ll neither confirm nor deny that any such interview took place, etc. But they apparently do this kind of thing not infrequently. As I recall, they reached out and then it took several weeks before the actual interview got scheduled.

    “So it isn’t as though you’ll see anything on the Church website that is directly linked to what we said.”

    So this was my understanding of the ground rules for the conversation in which I participated. It may be that MWS was given a different set of ground rules. Or perhaps they were given the same ground rules and merely interpreted them differently.

    As for using the word flaunt, I think the Facebook posting makes it clear that the MWS crew were very pleased and willing to explain that pleasure in a public venue.

    By comparison, I did not so much as mention my similar experience, and only responded in a cautious manner via private e-mail when someone directly asked me (and I’m wondering how/why someone informed you in the first place, beloved Bruce).

    Jesus said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

    I’m merely suggesting MWS hadn’t realized the need to be wise as serpents.

  65. Those who are as wise as serpents (women who know?) realize that there is negative, condemnatory connotation to ‘flaunt’ that there isn’t with ‘public expression of pleasure”

  66. I am going to be a touch blunter than I normally am, but the more I think about the situation, the more I think that it might be appropriate.

    Michael Davidson wrote (in his wonderful article on this site “The Unavoidable Consequences of OW Participation”):

    “I have yet to see someone claim that their involvement in OW has strengthened their desire to follow the Brethren or to be more supportive of the Church and its doctrine and policies. Instead, the participants leave more committed to the OW goals (which are in opposition to the Church). This, to me, is so obvious that I can’t believe that it isn’t intentional. In fact, Kate Kelly (in her earlier FMH podcast) talked extensively about how she feels that in person actions are important specifically because it forces women to go through this galvanizing process.”

    Anyone questioning PR or MWS are looking in the wrong place for what went wrong. If our sisters are leaving because of this trib article, it is not because PR met with MWS (or even that MWS posted about the meeting on Facebook), but rather because OW used the post to drive yet another wedge between the Members and the Church. If I may be blunt, this has all the makings of another publicity stunt by OW, who found themselves outmaneuvered on their protest of the Priesthood Session, and outmaneuvered by the subsequent publicity, and hamstrung by Elder Oaks’s fantastic talk on the Priesthood. Finding themselves left out in the cold, they are trying to regain some momentum by promoting themselves as victims.

    So be it, but the bothersome thing to many of us is that so many actions of OW (on the organizational side and through their allies in the media) seem designed to increase organizational power at the expense of the individual testimonies of the members. To my mind, this is priestcraft — preaching what you claim as doctrine in order to maximize power and gain. If you traffic in victimhood, you must perpetuate victims. To build a long-term organization around a political grievance, it is essential that the grievances may never be resolved and those who are victims must never be healed (because a victim healed is no longer a constituent). I have always found irony in the claim that we should go after the one coming from an organization that is often about driving the one away from the fold.

  67. Meg, I just want to say that I think you presume too much. From my conversations with MWS, MWS was given different instructions than you were — they were told that they could be forthright about their meeting with PR, and that PR was not at all reluctant to allow MWS to make meeting a matter of public knowledge.

    You presume that PR is uncomfortable with the public nature of the meeting and the conclusions people are drawing from it. But maybe that was their intent, and maybe that’s ok? Maybe they wanted to demonstrate that there are ways to get the Church’s attention, and that OW’s tactics are not those methods?

  68. Meg,

    I wasn’t trying to imply anything… I’m sorry, I feel like I sort of said that in a way that implied nearly the opposite of what i was trying to say.

    I only meant that since I happened to know… theoretically I might not remember to not say anything, so I tell my wife, who tells a friend, and the word gets out. Hey it happens no matter how well intended. And the end result could just have easily been the PSF piece.

    But if your instructions were the same as theirs, you’re right they may have accidently said more than was wise. So I’m agreeing with you.

  69. And Jonathan’s comment is right on the money. Why is MWS being made out to be the bad guy here? Why isn’t PFS the one who takes the blame for the feelings of hurt that result? She’s the one that has twisted this towards that narrative. Why give her the benefit of a doubt, but not MWS? Why allow her to twist your view of things?

  70. One more thing – if PA talked with me, given the kind of things I’ve posted (both written and recorded), they are clearly not just going to [insert negative stereotype of unthinking Mormon women].

    That point is my only intention in commenting here on this topic. I suppose someone could try to make hay of my comments here, but I adore those individuals associated with MWS that I know. I suppose it’s a sad commentary on me that I’ve learned to be so cautious.

  71. Jeff T, I think Meg has already acknowledged that she was making assumptions and said that they may have been given different instructions. I think both Meg and MWS both deserve a break here. Making presumptions is a necessary part of life and the human brain can’t really NOT make assumptions and still function. I think both MWS and Meg are acting in good faith here. I do not believe PSF is, but then I am not really impressed with news media ethics anyhow. But I do think – after this discussion — we need to maybe cut a bit of slack to those that read the PSF piece and were mislead by it. Because obviously they were just reacting to the information that happened to be available to them. But you’re right that PSF is the one that caused this. But if you’re reading the piece and that’s all you iknow, you probably do think the Church caused it.

  72. “One more thing – if PA talked with me, given the kind of things I’ve posted (both written and recorded), they are clearly not just going to [insert negative stereotype of unthinking Mormon women].”

    Yes, but I didn’t say THE PA would do so. I said PSF would. ;-)

  73. Meg, re-reading my post (and Jeff’s follow-up), I do want to clarify that my bluntness was not directed towards you. There are a number of variables that are unknown, and if MWS overstepped, then they were wrong to do so. There are enough unknown facts to know whether I agree or disagree with you. My post was more on the main topic — weaponizing pursuing the one all while creating and perpetuating the one. It goes beyond the one being lost and running away and demanding we chase them, and becomes an organization that appears actively involved in creating the one, institutionally invested in maintaining the one away from the fold, attempting to hold the one hostage until their demands are met, and then criticizing the shepherds for not rescuing them.

  74. By the way, I think I was the one who suggested the excited MWS post that prompted the Trib article (written by Ms. Stack) might be the underlying cause for the BCC post.

    I’m happy if there was another cause for the BCC post.

    By the way, I thought I got a memo to avoid using the name of an organization that advocates female ordination. I guess no one else got that memo? I find using the long explanatory version has been illuminating. It’s as though I had been saying:

    Fred is filthy

    rather than saying

    The boy at the dinner table who persists in sticking his finger up his nose is filthy.

    In the first case I have personified Fred as being defined as filthy.

    In the second case, I have allowed Fred to stop sticking his finger up his nose and therefore avoid the identification of being filthy.

    Just sharing the memo with you.

  75. Oh, and I love all you folks. I always presume you love me too. And It’s been fun looking up the definition for flaunt and seeing that it refers to a broader set of circumstances than, for example, a young girl twirling in her new frock.

    Back when I learned the word, I think I was possibly the young girl in the frock, and being told not to “flaunt” the thing I was happy about. And so this would have become my formative understanding of the word, despite going on to live a long life where the other meaning was also present.

  76. Bruce wrote: I take you interpret said scripture in some way such that you believe that the Brethren are being negligent in their duties to what Christ wants? No. I’m not taking this position. They may or may not be doing what Christ wants and since it seems to be commonly acknowledged that they are fallible it reasonable to argue at least in some small part that they are not doing what Christ wants with regard to the church. But that isn’t my point. Rather I think the D&C scripture makes it clear that you and others exceed your authority and calling and stewardship when you attempt to police these broader boundaries and judge or attempt to exclude other saints in that way.

    I’m not sure tobacco vs a temple recommend is a good analogy to say one of the favorite topics of this thread OW. I’ll be happy to differentiate the two or go into more detail if you like but my point is really much broader than that debate. Everything beyond repenting and coming unto Christ is beyond what He defines as His church! Most or all of those practices may be good or helpful but their existence and your judgement of a given saint’s or group of saint’s compliance to them isn’t up to you or other bloggers to judge as apostate or unfaithful.

    With regard to the OW organization, I disagree with imposing a purely secular PC argument upon the church I think that position should be distilled to it’s merits clearly articulated independent of some PC political creed . But I do support the concept of women’s ordination from the perspective of a Zelophehad’s daughters type of request for revelatory services from the prophet and I hope that he would follow Moses’ example in doing so.

  77. Howard, you are taking people showing support for decisions by the Brethren (to not meet with OW) and then claiming that this is an excess of authority and stewardship and an attempt to police broader boundaries.

    I would like to point out that by making such a claim and defending it based on the idea that the Brethren are fallible, you’re doing what you claim we’re doing. You’re policing broader boundaries and making a judgment that attempts to exclude us from other saints through boundary maintenance based on your own beliefs. Symmetry!

    The only difference is that we’re actually supporting those that are authorized to do so by God.

  78. Wow, lots of intelligent and well thought responses. I am somewhat familiar with OW and Mormon Feminist Housewives, Exponent II etc. I found many intelligent bloggers and commenters there. However, I chose to limit my consumption of their materials and comments, when it became clear to me that many participating were not trying to clear up doubts and find out how all truth can co-exist (I have found that it eventually always does when we find more information). I found many involved were not looking for truth, they were looking to justify their feelings. They are very well spoken and intelligent, and are very good at this. I didn’t always have the academics to back up my feelings, but am not sure that would change their view anyway. I think we need to be careful in how much attention we are giving to these groups and conversations.

  79. And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.

  80. Meg Stout wrote (a huge number of posts back):

    “There’s a term I learned of while studying the Irish situation:

    triumphalism

    It is when a person or group by their statements and formulation of statements “triumphs” over the opponent. This is a hard one, because the one writing the triumphalistic statement often thinks they are merely stating reasonable fact.”

    Which kicked off quite a conversation.

    I want to publicly thank her for summarizing that concept/action so well. She summed up very well a mode of expression which has tainted my interactions with a number of members of the Church for the past 40 years. This post is not a response to the OP’s ideas – I dare not wade into that territory – rather just a public thank you to Meg for providing with well written description of what I occasionally experience from my fellow saints.

  81. NB: triumphalism usually means ‘victory disease’–the attitude that you or your group are guaranteed winners so you don’t sweat the details as much as you ought–you take your superiority for granted instead of continually trying to earn it.

  82. “triumphalism usually means ‘victory disease’–the attitude that you or your group are guaranteed winners so you don’t sweat the details as much as you ought–you take your superiority for granted instead of continually trying to earn it.”

    Which perfectly describes the side of the political house that most “Bloggernacle” denizens inhabit. You know, the side that claims that they’re on the “right side” of “history”. Since they are on the “right side”, it absolves them from having to look too deeply into the implications or consequences of their ideology or from having to look too intently in the mirror.

    It may very well be that we are marching towards a grand progressive future, with enormous coming pressures for a church that stays remarkably conservative (in the Kirkian and Burkean sense). But I find the triumphalist attitude of the folks over at BCC so off-putting. They fancy themselves so sophisticated because they are following the church handbook of instructions published in 2090.

  83. Bruce I have no problem at all with anyone expressing support for the brethren, their position or the church in general. Be my guest, I haven’t criticized this!

    The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 is offered specifically in response to the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes because Jesus receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. It would be roughly similar to TSM having dinner with OW! And perhaps he should thereby following the example Christ set!

    I’m not policing boundaries, I merely pointing out that boundaries have been CLEARLY defined by the Lord and so are those who declare the church to be more or less than His definition.

  84. “It would be roughly similar to TSM having dinner with OW! And perhaps he should thereby following the example Christ set!”

    I could not disagree more.

    Howard, by your definitions, I see no one doing anything but expressing support for the Brethren’s decision. therefore you are criticizing people expressing support for the Brethren. It honestly seems to me that your logic is:
    1) Use of the term “boundary maintenace” of necessity must be at odds with the scripture you quoted.
    2) Therefore anyone that uses the term is policing boundaries in inappropriate ways.
    3) And since the Brethren haven’t used the term, therefore the person using the term must of necessity be going beyond both the scripture and be at odds with God.

    But of course those you are arguing with thought that by “boundary maintenance” that they meant standing up for the commandments of God and not caving when someone doesn’t want to keep them. And then the person involved can choose for themselves if they are going to repent and come or leave. This is not at all policing boudaries in the sense you are trying to misattribute people here to.

  85. Bruce,
    “Standing up for the commandments of God” is one independent concept. Not wanting to keep those commandments is another independent concept. But bridging these two independent concepts with the phrase “not caving” is a conflating leap of logic, what are you trying to say here?

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this particular thread but as I recall one of your blogging rule goals (and apparently the goal of a few others here) was being able to label someone apostate or an apostate equivalent which also suggests some form calling them to repentance. Has that changed?

  86. Howard:

    “Bruce I have no problem at all with anyone expressing support for the brethren, their position or the church in general. Be my guest, I haven’t criticized this!”

    But you have, just not directly. For example:

    “And perhaps he should thereby following the example Christ set!”

    This contains language informing the Lord’s anointed leader of His Church what he “should” do. You clearly indicate that only by following this ‘should’ would President Monson be following the example Christ set. Thus if President Monson doesn’t do as you direct him to do, he will be deviating from Christ. This may not be what you meant, but it is in what you said. I don’t want to lay a trap for you because of your words, but rather to point out the stumbling blocks your words naturally contain — whenever any of us are telling our leadership what they should do, it is dangerous, dangerous ground. Regardless of how ephemeral you choose to define Church, the Lord for reasons of His own established the Priesthood order and the Church structure by revelation and we deviate from it at our peril.

    If the Lord feels like President Monson needs correcting, He will take care of it Himself. He certainly needs neither you nor me to advise Him on how He regulates His Church. Any time your language contains a declaration of what the Lord, His Prophet, or the Priesthood leadership He has established should or must do, or what they are doing that is wrong, you have taken a position contrary to the brethren.

    I hope this is an issue of careless language in a posting (it has happened to all of us).

  87. Howard, you lost some of my sympathy with this comment: ” I think the D&C scripture makes it clear that you and others exceed your authority and calling and stewardship when you attempt to police these broader boundaries and judge or attempt to exclude other saints in that way.”

    Public actions and statements may in turn be legitimately publicly commented on. To classify publicly made rejoinders as “judgement” is whining, and falls under the “We attack, you defend” brand of hypocrisy.

  88. Well Bookslinger, the point of that comment is that the Lord defined His church as something quite clear and very specific; repenting and coming unto Him, not more or less than this. But these boundaries are not what’s being policed rather what is being policed is *more*, the scripture goes on to say Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. So there’s a big problem associated with declaring something more. Isn’t there?

    “We attack, you defend”? What are you defending His church or something *more*? Why are you defending *more* than his church given he says it isn’t of him?

  89. Howard says: But bridging these two independent concepts with the phrase “not caving” is a conflating leap of logic, what are you trying to say here?

    As in the Church not compromising its principles.

    Howard, the problem with your use of this scripture is that *repentance* covers *everything* we’re talking about. True, we don’t get to decide what matters and what doesn’t, God (though prophets) does. But we do get to stand up for it. So we are aligned with this scripture. I’m not sure you are.

  90. Howard, I don’t call people apostates. I do on the other hand believe that asking questions about beliefs is fair game in a true dialogue. It’s you that injected the word ‘apostate’ into the discussion, not me.

  91. Bruce wrote: Howard, the problem with your use of this scripture is that *repentance* covers *everything* we’re talking about.

    I don’t see how you can make this case. If nothing was added or taken away repentance must mean what it did in 1828 or 29 when this revelation was received. Joseph opposed creeds and calling out members for erring in doctrine.

    Or are you arguing the word repentance is actually a God intended and God provided loophole to allow for Pharisaical statute expansion?

  92. Yeah, ok, Howard, we’re going to have to agree to disagree that the scripture you cite was meant to mean that ever doctrine revealed and every practiced revealed to the Church is invalid. I’ll go with Joseph Smith’s understanding of this that involved revelations on beliefs, new practices, authority, church authorities, etc. And I’ll trust to God through revelation to apostles and prophets to avoid any sort of Pharisaical statue expansion rather than your interpretation of that scripture. And, yes, Joseph Smith did teach the importance of proper chain of authority for revelation and stewardship (See D&C 21 and also the extremely relevant to your view D&C 28). And that is what we’re discussing here today and defending. But thank you for explaining where you are coming from. I can see why you (in my opinion) drastically misinterpret that scripture now. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this point.

  93. Okay Bruce, we can disagree.

    But given the ban on blacks fiasco I’m not sure trusting to God through revelation to apostles and prophets is a very fool proof way of avoiding Pharisaical statue expansion.

  94. But Howard, you are constantly explaining beliefs that we’re all supposed to hold and backing it up with your private interpretations of scripture (that seem like misinterpretations to me) and calling people to implied repentance for not accepting your intepretation. So I guess I honestly don’t see a difference between your views and those taught by Joseph Smith (or rather taught by God through Joseph Smith) that you supposedly reject. So it seems to me we’re talking about God through revelation to apostles and prophets or God through revelation to Howard (or anyone else’s private interpretation). The choice seems obvious to me.

  95. Howard,

    How is trusting an secular interpretation of the priesthood ban rather than that of the prophets proof that we shouldn’t trust the prophets? Isn’t that a little circular?

  96. Howard, did the Pharisees possess all the keys necessary for administering the gospel of Jesus Christ? No? Didn’t think so. Do you? No, don’t think so.

    So in your analogy you share more in common than the brethren with the Pharisees.

    Seeing as how we are talking about the right to represent The Lord here, this is pretty apt. Your thoughts regarding the brethren do not represent the Lords thoughts.

  97. “Coming unto Christ” also means sustaining his prophets and apostles. The public actions and public words of KK and OW do not, in my opinion, sustain the prophet and apostles.

    The various blog posts, at least one podcast, their six “discussions” and public actions of OW (or OW leaders) seem to fall more under what JS warned about in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839-42, p.156:

    “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

    It looks to me like OW is saying that the church and church leaders are “out of the way”, and the things proposed by OW are “more righteous” than the current state.

    Also, from President George Q. Cannon:

    “A friend … wished to know whether we … considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities of the Church was apostasy…. We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities constituted apostasy, for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the Authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term.” (Deseret News, November 3, 1869.)
    Quoted at http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/ToHumbleFollowers.htm
    Quoted by Ezra Taft Benson in his General Conference talk. Conference Report, April 4, 1969, 10-15. Improvement Era, June 1969, 43-47.
    Original scan here.

    The six OW discussions and even the recent BCC post in question seem to me to fit pretty closely to the part that says: “publishing those differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light”.

  98. A couple more points:

    3 Nephi 11 contains the “this is my doctrine”. Then chapter 12 starts out with the Lord giving authority to the 12 disciples and the admonition “Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, …”

    `–

    The same sermon goes on to include the “judge not” admonition so loved by those who don’t like to tolerate disagreement, or who wish to constrain approval by others. Yet this should not be confused with the absolute necessity of discerning/choosing what to give heed to in the public sphere.

    Every item brought up in public discourse or public activity needs to be discerned or judged by the hearers, especially by Christian believers. Is it to be emulated or avoided? Is it to be repeated/supported by the hearers/observers, or ignored, or denounced? Is it to be believed, disbelieved, or “put on the shelf” ?

    I think the judgement proscribed means ascribing someone else’s standing before the Lord. The judgement/discernment of public actions and public words is quite a different thing than the judgement of the person.

  99. Jonathan,

    Thank you for the link to that talk. Very nice. I particularly liked when Elder Oaks said:

    “I heard President James E. Faust say, ‘The older I get, the less judgmental I become.’”

    That and just the clarification between eternal judgement (which is not ours to perform anyway) and intermediate judgements are the nuggets I will likely remember from that talk after the natural decay of memory after getting some sleep.

  100. Perhaps you missed the word “perhaps”?

    “Perhaps” Barak Obama was born in Kenya?

    Hey! Don’t call me a loony birther! I said perhaps–I clearly didn’t mean to disparage the President. Why are you so against people who are just asking innocent questions?

    (Bloggernacle tactic # 158: Always couch your argument so as to maintain plausible deniability for as long as possible.)

  101. Bruce, I think you mean my private interpretation of expressly written scripture, I’m still waiting for yours.

    Jeff G, what interpretation of the priesthood ban do you find compelling?

    JimD, “Perhaps” can be used to softly introduce an idea or when in doubt about it instead of asserting it. So, nothing sinister about it given one can both read and comprehend, but it is a little more nuanced than concepts like either being true or fraud. In any case to interrupt what I wrote by simply ignoring it’s presence is clearly wrong and misses the point.

  102. Well Howard, I’m trying to be nice because I like you. But if you continue to insist on me explaining to you in full how you have departed from what the scriptures plainly say and what the teachings of the living prophets teach today as well, I will.

  103. Bruce I like you too so how about just offering your short exegesis that can be bumped against mine to contrast and compare. Or in the alternative I’m happy to just drop it or leave this thread.

  104. Howard, I’ll do my best to explain briefly.

    Bookslinger already pointed out that Joseph Smith taught that correcting those that hold the keys — even by claiming revelation from God like you do — is a sin that one must repent of:

    “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

    This has been confirmed by all prophets since:
    “A friend … wished to know whether we … considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities of the Church was apostasy…. We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities constituted apostasy, for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the Authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term.” (Deseret News, November 3, 1869.)

    But more importantly, it is entirely rooted in scripture and comes directly from God via revelation to the Prphet Joseph Smith:

    God to Joseph Smith in D&C 21:
    1 Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,

    2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.

    4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

    5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

    When Hiram Page attempted to claim revelations for the whole church God explained that this was not to be because it was outside of what today we call his stewardship.

    D&C 28
    11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

    12 For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.

    13 For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

    There is no lack of clarity on this subject, Howard. A person that claims authority through revelation or insists on their authoritative intepretation of scripture is in fact sinning and must repent and come unto Christ. As D&C 10 explains:

    64 Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery;

    65 For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts;

    66 Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.

    67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

    68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this [i.e. D&C 21 and 28 explain clearly that the intent here is to try to declare more or less than the need to repent and come unto Christ by treating the Prophets words as God's words, as God explains in D&C 21], the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

    Therefore, a person that claims revelations to the world that has no authority to do so is in fact in need of repentance and needs to come unto Christ and is not, according to D&C 10, part of His church yet even if he has membership records in it.

    This scripture, in full context of all of God’s teachings, says almost exactly the opposite of how you are trying to use it and undermines the whole concept of receiving revelations for the Church that are equal in authority to the President of the Church.

  105. As for pithy exegesis, I like this excerpt from Matthew 17:5:

    “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

    For many of us, we have had a personal confirmation by revelation that the Church as restored by Joseph Smith is aligned with God’s will (aka true), including the aim of bringing to pass the immortality (living forever) and eternal life (living with God) of man (including the female “man”).

    We wish all to hear that gospel. But we’re concerned (having read Jacob 5) with the good fruit of the gospel going wild under the influence of those who do not profess even a willingness to acknowledge God’s right to be God.

    Namely, if the prophet hasn’t yet proclaimed the time when every man (male and female) may exercise all spiritual gifts, we are not sure using the methods of the world (hypothetically series of articles in the New York Times, or protest marches, or youtube chats) is a right way to force God to produce His gifts on man’s schedule.

    For example, these were not the techniques that produced the change extending priesthood power to all worthy men. Even if you believe that the former priesthood ban was completely culturally based and wrong-headed, it is instructive to realize that the means that brought about that change are not the means being used now to attempt to affect what proponents of female ordination feel is an analogous change.

  106. “Even if you believe that the former priesthood ban was completely culturally based and wrong-headed, it is instructive to realize that the means that brought about that change are not the means being used now to attempt to affect what proponents of female ordination feel is an analogous change.”

    THIS^

  107. Bruce your response is pretty conflated, correcting those that hold the keys being a sin has nothing at all to do with the express plain language scriptural definition of His church which is not to be exceeded. Instead your response amounts to a childish if I can’t (make my argument) you can’t either (make yours).

    D&C 28 is about who is authorized to receive revelation for the church. I’m not claiming revelation or authoritative interpretation of this scripture. I’m saying it is obviously written plainly and very expressly and therefore means exactly what it says. But, I am also open to considering your exegesis or the exegesis or others but after multiple invitations they do not appear to be forthcoming. I take that to mean a plea of no contest.

  108. I found it illuminated to observe a hen gathering her chicks. She sat on her nest, lifted her wings, and clucked. The chicks heard her, ran to her, and nestled under her wings.

  109. Jeff G,
    I agree this is a good start! I’m thankful for the new essays because they are a good start and they begin to bring positions like yours and mine closer together. Using your source which is also today’s church source it becomes apparent that considerable error crept in over the years as the church went from blacks can, to blacks can’t with ridiculous rationalizations (“theories”) being offered by prophets (without calling them theories) to justify the ban and then back to blacks can and those rationalizations offered from the mouths of LDS prophets disavowed. And of course while the church wandered around in the wilderness on this issue for 125 years don’t forget the prophet cannot lead the church astray. So even using this source it sure seems like a fiasco to me but I know we have different ideas about the application of logic.

    There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime…In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood…subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church…According to one view, which had been promulgated in the United States from at least the 1730s, blacks descended from the same lineage as the biblical Cain, who slew his brother Abel… Black servitude was sometimes viewed as a second curse placed upon Noah’s grandson Canaan as a result of Ham’s indiscretion toward his father…The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions. Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in the premortal battle against Lucifer and, as a consequence, were restricted from priesthood and temple blessings…By the late 1940s and 1950s, racial integration was becoming more common in American life. Church President David O. McKay emphasized that the restriction extended only to men of black African descent…As the Church grew worldwide, its overarching mission to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations” seemed increasingly incompatible with the priesthood and temple restrictions…The Book of Mormon declared that the gospel message of salvation should go forth to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”…Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

    Hmm, might this part below be an example of secular PC leading the church???

    Brazil in particular presented many challenges. Unlike the United States and South Africa where legal and de facto racism led to deeply segregated societies, Brazil prided itself on its open, integrated, and mixed racial heritage. In 1975, the Church announced that a temple would be built in São Paulo, Brazil. As the temple construction proceeded, Church authorities encountered faithful black and mixed-ancestry Mormons who had contributed financially and in other ways to the building of the São Paulo temple, a sanctuary they realized they would not be allowed to enter once it was completed. Their sacrifices, as well as the conversions of thousands of Nigerians and Ghanaians in the 1960s and early 1970s, moved Church leaders.

    JimD,
    Does my use of the word “might” above constitute Rule 159?

  110. John Mansfield,
    Since the restoration there have been multiple versions of “the only true church”. If each of these versions was indeed the only true church it becomes apparent that some of the minutia in each of these versions isn’t really essential. I suspect black LDS members prefer the only true church that allows them priesthood ordination and temple access over the the only true church that doesn’t. The point is that much of this stuff is just practice, not defined and required doctrine. I’d bet that most of the women who represent OW do hear the Christ hen and run to Him nestling in His wings but they would prefer a nest version of the only true church that extends priesthood to them than the version that does not!

  111. Sorry about the kicking the puppy analogy, it was poorly considered. I was thinking of the puppy’s feelings, not the kicker’s intentions, but I certainly don’t want to make a comparison that casts the church or PA or the brethren as the kicker.

    Geoff, as to your point, you are correct as far as I doubt anyone here believes that women praying in conference will lead to nepotism, specifically. But the pattern of telling thinking we know why something is or isn’t, and proclaiming that to others, is commonplace throughout the church, M* no exception. We need to be better about greeting new ideas or questions with “we don’t know why” rather than “we know why because XYZ.”

  112. Cynthia, I see nothing wrong with your point at all. But where is the place for standing up for decisions already made by the Brethren (say, not meeting with OW and choosing to portray them as a protest)?

    I can totally see your point that a person claiming women praying in church is going to cause nepotism is lame and silly. But what if the person was honestly doing their best to come up with their own understanding of the Brethren’s reasons to not have called a women to pray in conference?

    Personally, I came up with my own reason and expressed it: that they hadn’t noticed because they were using prayers as a way to include the 70 and they wanted to include women in more prominent speaking roles. In other words it was not intended as a slight at all and there was no rule against it whatsoever.

    I am, I suppose, making up an explanation as well as the person you quote. I’m probably right, btw. But I don’t know that for sure, I suppose. And I am also defending the Brethren.

    At some level I hope you can see that someone trying to explain why the brethren might have done what they’ve done is not truly the same as believing we know something we don’t and proclaiming it to others — though it also easy to see how someone might take it that way if they so chose. If there is truly a problem with the nepotism argument you quote — other than that it is kinda silly — its that you portray the author as being certain rather than offering a defense via a possible explanation. Are you okay with offering a defense via a possible explanation at least? Because it seems to me that is a completely necessary thing.

  113. CBL, I don’t think we are as far apart on this issue as you may think. My constant refrain on M* and as a gospel doctrine teacher is: “we don’t know why this is.”

    Just to give one example, we covered the OT lesson on the Judges on Sunday, and I mentioned that the OT has five prophetesses and the NT has at least one. What was a prophetess exactly? Well, we don’t know for sure, but we know that this means that women are given authority at times that is special and greater than the men around them (think specifically about the example of Deborah). We know that women today are given authority in many spheres. So, my conclusion is that there is a lot we don’t know about the exact roles of men and women in the eternities.

    I just think it is uncharitable to take the worst and most egregious comments from trolls and then to conclude that “conservative” Mormons agree with such things. And frankly I see people in the Bloggernacle do this all the time, and it is really a negative thing.

  114. “correcting those that hold the keys being a sin has nothing at all to do with the express plain language scriptural definition of His church which is not to be exceeded”

    No Howard, I’m afraid they have everything to do with each other. That is God’s teachings to the Church, my friend. The leaders lead and receive revelation and people that take scriptures and say “well, this means such and such contrary to current teachings” are off base and need to repent. This is not new and it’s been the teaching of the Church pretty much from start to finish. The teachings of both the standard works and the teachings of those authorized to declare God’s word today have never wavered on this point and have reaffirmed the doctrines I have laid out to you over and over again. In so far as you disagee with it, you are the one that needs to change, not them.

  115. Harking back to an earlier thought in this thread–about the tactics of Mormon agitators resembling those of the secular “mainstream counterculture”–I read this paragraph about affairs in Africa’s Burkina Faso from Mark Steyn this morning:

    “Whatever it is, it’s the perfect tale of Islamic victimhood: the foreigners have made us impotent! It doesn’t matter that the foreigners didn’t do anything except shake hands. It doesn’t matter whether you are, in fact, impotent. You feel impotent, just as (so we’re told constantly) millions of Muslims from Algerian Islamists to the Bali bombers on the other side of the world feel “humiliated” by the Palestinian situation. Whether there is a rational basis for their sense of humiliation or impotence is irrelevant.”

    Replace a few words here and there–substitute Mormon for Islamic, conservatives for foreigners, etc.–and you have a pretty good commentary on our topic. Another red flag should be the ease of exposing liberal victimhood in all its manifestations–it’s the universal soup du jour.

    As I wrote yesterday, the divide here largely seems determined by where each side is committed to giving initial credence–to the grievances of the agitators or the declarations of the General Authorities. I won’t rehash the arguments for each, as that has been what this thread has largely been about, but I will add this:

    In The Crucible Arthur Miller writes of the hysterical cult behind the witch hunt: “If *she* is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers?”

    I don’t mean to imply that Mormon agitators are as disingenuous or calculating as the accusers in The Crucible, but there is a scary similarity: a tendency to uncritically celebrate each other and sprint forward in a rush to condemn those who they’ve decided are responsible for their inner ails. Alas, this is also widely applicable to liberal auto-martyrdom in general.

    Agitators may reply that the orthodox crowd does the same, and there is probably some evidence of that, but before this becomes too recursive, let’s note that two wrongs don’t make a right, nor are any two wrongs always of the same degree or import.

    When President Uchtdorf says, “Doubt your doubts,” and then John Dehlin says, “Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts,” I say, “Doubt those who tell you to doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts.”

  116. Bruce, I think I understand your position now, thank you for stating it succinctly. You seem to be overriding the scripture I asked you to interrupt with a global blanket and offering that as your exegesis. I don’t think that approach works given it is the Lord speaking clearly using plain, unambiguous language. It amounts to the Lord correcting Himself or a prophet correcting Him. So let’s just agree to disagree here.

  117. Huston,
    I agree liberals more frequently display and embrace victim-hood, interestingly conservatives compete for victim-hood when they perceive something is being taken from them. Much of this stems from privilege or the lack of it.

  118. Howard,

    You’re still bringing a secular interpretation to your reading which taints your view of the prophets.

    “Since the restoration there have been multiple versions of “the only true church”. If each of these versions was indeed the only true church it becomes apparent that some of the minutia in each of these versions isn’t really essential.”

    Why in the world do you think this? In particular, I think you might be a little too sure about your assumptions regarding universality and God’s church.

  119. Howard, we will agree to disagree. But just for the record, what you call my interpretation is really that of those that hold the priesthood keys. I’m just explaining it to you.

    And it has nothing to do with God correcting himself either. It’s line upon line and precept upon precept explaining to us His will through continuing revelation. You’re unilaterially choosing to take a single scripture out of its entire context and later explanation and then choosing to read it the way you see fit and contrary to the teachings of all the First Presidencies and Apostles from Joseph Smith onward. You are literally on your own here. But that is your choice to make.

  120. Howard,
    There are some very private and sacred thoughts I hold about certain aspects of the gospel. At times they’ve been embraced and quasi-refuted by various authorities. (not dealing with polygamy, etc)

    But I feel as though they’ve been confirmed to me by revelation. That’s a bit of a cop out, because the experience I had with some aspects of what I believe came through pretty much an earth shattering revelation. I’ve received greater confirmation that these things are true than I have about the BoM, the church, etc. But wrapped up in the confirmation with this revelation I’m speaking out (admittedly in a private way) was that all of the church and the prophets, the scriptures are true as well. So for me I can’t separate one from the other.

    I only provide that long preface to this following point – what I received I know to be true and I know that where what I’ve received does not represent the teachings of the prophets and apostles, I have absolutely no authority to teach it, aside from sharing it with my spouse someday and maybe my children “someday”. (I have not) This knowledge was conveyed along with the revelation itself.

    So, where you feel you have received revelation from God, which you perceive might contradict (often there is no contradiction when you enlarge the scope of your revelation, assuming its true, vs. prophetic teaching) with current apostolic teachings then you are duty bound by that revelation to keep your mouth shut. If it’s truly from God, then it’s to you. If it’s from God to the world, it will come through his current prophets.

    If you feel otherwise, you are truly obligated to start your own church and call people unto it with you as the new prophet.

  121. Jeff G wrote: Why in the world do you think this?

    Well, I think it’s because there is a core essential part to the church and that core is surrounded by a lot of less-essential and even non-essential parts. I think the bloggernacle spends a lot of time arguing the permissibility of less-essential and non-essential issues. Progressives simply want to make the church more user friendly for a broader range of people by changing some of these things but I haven’t heard them seriously argue doing away with repentance or coming unto Christ. Conservatives oppose. Honestly I think the brethren would do a lot less foot dragging if poles didn’t show a growth advantage accruing to the more fundamental churches. Fundamentalism isn’t more inherently true than figurativism.

    It’s also good to keep in mind Christ was a progressive who opposed Pharisaical thinking incarnate so it’s in congruent to assume he changed his politics and attitude in death, that appears to be more the influence of well intended care taking men rather than a micromanaging Christ providing frequent revelation.

  122. Quite well put, Aaron. Our personal revelation can lead us to depart from our priesthood leaders, but never to correct them.

  123. Aaron,
    I respect your personal revelation. I would appreciate the same from you. Please quote me doing what you imply I’m doing.

    If you feel otherwise, you are truly obligated to start your own church and call people unto it with you as the new prophet. Sorry but “obligated” doesn’t necessarily follow in this sentence.

  124. Howard,
    Your personal revelation is to be a thorn in the side of blogging members online who want to respect the proper lines of priesthood authority?

    You’re certainly having no effect on the leadership. They’re not changing their course based on your prolific blog comments. I can see the personal value in simply engaging in discussion to try to persuade others to believe your point of view.

    But your point of view seems non-negotiable, and so is the typical church members in this respect — revelation for the world comes from God through his prophets. We each receive personal revelation on an infinite number of subjects, but we have no authority to go beyond what the prophets and apostles are teaching and emphasizing.

  125. Howard,

    ” I think it’s because there is a core essential part to the church and that core is surrounded by a lot of less-essential and even non-essential parts. I think the bloggernacle spends a lot of time arguing the permissibility of less-essential and non-essential issues. Progressives simply want to make the church more user friendly for a broader range of people by changing some of these things but I haven’t heard them seriously argue doing away with repentance or coming unto Christ.”

    I think this is spot on, as far as it goes. Furthermore, I think the conservatives of the ‘nacle certainly do understand that this is what the progressives are trying to do. On the other hand, I am not so sure that the progressives understand what the conservatives’ efforts are about. For us,

    1) The question of what is and is not essential to the church in this time is not to be settled by human reason, but by revelation.
    2) The church leaders are the only ones authorized to receive such revelations.

    Thus when the progressives run around say what they think is or is not essential, they are appealing to reason rather than revelation. When they run around saying that what their promptings are regarding what is and is not essential they are making false prophets of themselves. Either way, it’s steadying the ark.

  126. Howard, scriptural interpretation is in fact a claim to prophetic authority. So you’ve consistently done what Aaron claims.

    I realize you don’t see scriptural interpretation as a claim to prophetic authority. You’re trying to get around it by saying “But that’s just what the scriptures plainly say” which is the Evangelical belief, not the Mormon one. For that matter, I laid out for you the doctrines of the Church on this subject and they were overwhelmingly clearly stated. But you still implied you had the the correct intepretation of D&C 10 and that the prophets must therefore be wrong. So, yeah, I think Aaron is reading you pretty much the same way I am and probably everyone here. Because that’s precisely how you come across. And from the way the LDS Church leaders (those who actually hold the authority) have taught this from the beginning, you are out of bounds and out of step with the Church and it’s ‘order’ of revelation. Your revelations are to be ignored by the Church and to be considered false because you’ve made them public. They carry no weight at all because you lack authority to make such claims.

    This isn’t about creeds — you don’t really understand Jospeh Smiths teachings on that subject anyhow. This is really about stewardship. You come across as consistently over stepping yours.

    You’ve also told everyone the church needs to accept the BoM as fictional because of a revelation you received. That’s an even more direct example of what Aaron is saying.

    But the truth is that the proper LDS teaching on this subject is that if you had received a true revelation from God about the Book of Mormon being fictional, you’d also have known not to teach it publicly until the leaders go there. (To say nothing of the massive paradox such a revelation would cause since it means God has no problem lying to us. So how do you know your revelation wasn’t the lie that God gave you for your own sake and the BoM is in fact historical?)

    And you have no authority whatsoever to read D&C 10, decide for yourself that it isn’t about repenting and coming to meet the standards of God’s authorized church but instead means repenting in some other sense and then declaring your authority based on that scripture. Thats not what the Church teaches. It’s not what Joseph Smith taught. It’s not what the scriptures teach. This isn’t a subject that has been hidden or difficult to understand. The church plainly teaches that you’re out of your bounds on both of these examples because you have no stewardship here.

  127. Aaron wrote: Your personal revelation is to be a thorn in the side of blogging members online who want to respect the proper lines of priesthood authority?

    What are you talking about Aaron? And what personal revelation are you referring to

  128. You know since we’ve ‘gone there’ now, I might as well sum this up succinctly.

    Howard, you’re trying to say “a person can use protest methods to ask for the priesthood and invite the media in to shame the leaders, but if they have come to Christ, they are part of the Church as per D&C 10 and so anything that says they need to repent is inappropriate boundary maintenance and thus not God’s will.”

    The Church leaders are saying “If a person uses inappropriate methods to demand the priesthood by inviting the media in to shame the Lord’s church, they need to repent and come to Christ. They may still be members in good standing. They maybe in other respects by loyal to Christ’s teachings. But in this regard, they need to repent and come to Christ.” (Note how this view in no way disagrees with D&C 10 no matter how much you want it to.)

    None of us misunderstand what you are saying Howard. We just know it’s at odds with and mutually exclusive from the authorized teachings of the prophets and apostles. So we’re disagreeing with you because we accept their claim to authority and not your implied claim to authority. There isn’t anything else going on here. Who knows, maybe tomorrow the President of the Church will proclaim that the BoM is just fiction and that OW was right all along. Yet that won’t change for a minute your total lack of authority and that we should — at this moment — not accept your claims to revelation implied or explicit and should not accept your arguments as valid.

  129. Jeff G,
    I agree with much of your last comment. But I also know promptings can occur in opposition to the church’s position and so does Elder Oaks who presents the general rule for church consumption while allowing you may be an exception. Many have had and reported this in regard to the ban on blacks, Prop. 8, the church’s teachings with regard to the spirit fleeing and most recently with regard to the place of females within the church. Are you denying their experience? I do not because history shows the brethren respond to agitation and pursue God for an answer. This may well be the way God wants it at this time. he may even want the double standard to lull TBMs into sleeping through the controversy until it’s settled.

    If steadying the ark actually struck members dead I’m sure it would stop, that’s a myth when applied in that way.

  130. Bruce wrote: Howard, scriptural interpretation is in fact a claim to prophetic authority. So you’ve consistently done what Aaron claims. So if I read “The Book of Mormon” I need to have the brethren confirm that is the title before proceeding? And if their response isn’t unanimous? I think you’ve carried this to a mindless extreme when it comes to plainly written scripture.

    The Church leaders are saying “If a person uses inappropriate methods to demand the priesthood by inviting the media in to shame the Lord’s church, they need to repent and come to Christ. Does this reasoning apply to those otherwise faithful members who opposed the black ban?

    So we’re disagreeing with you because we accept their claim to authority That works for me.

    Who knows, maybe tomorrow the President of the Church will proclaim that the BoM is just fiction and that OW was right all along. Yet that won’t change for a minute your total lack of authority and that we should — at this moment — not accept your claims to revelation implied or explicit and should not accept your arguments as valid. Well that effectively ends discussion doesn’t it? When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done!

  131. “I need to have the brethren confirm that is the title before proceeding?” Only when you decide to publicly start teaching that the title actaully says “The Book of Howard.” And honestly, Howard, you’re just being silly now. You knew what I meant. You’re playing dumb and we both know it.

    “The Church leaders are saying “If a person uses inappropriate methods to demand the priesthood by inviting the media in to shame the Lord’s church, they need to repent and come to Christ. Does this reasoning apply to those otherwise faithful members who opposed the black ban?”
    Absolutely it does! They should not have tried to shame the church publicly if they disagreed and instead worked within proper channels like Lowell Bennion did. Holding a press conference isn’t. Using shaming tactics not at all.

    “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done!”

    You know Howard, you are again playing dumb on this. I don’t mind having conversations with you at all. I find it interesting. But I’ve warned you about this before. Playing dumb with me is not okay and I won’t put up with it. Since our views on this have been explained at length, including about how to go about dissenting vs how not to (which strongly implies the opposite of how you summarized us), you know we don’t agree with that. I won’t play this game with you, Howard.

    So I’m done here unless you care to retract and stop playing dumb on this and do a better job of restating what you know actually believe. And that’s fine if you want to end it for now. This conversation was going long anyhow. I’m sure we’ll meet again for the next conversation and can pick it up then. :-)

  132. Howard,

    Of course I’m not denying such experiences since they are none of my business…. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t be talking about them: they are none of my business.

    Again, the spirit can prompt us to depart from the prophets, but never to correct them. I don’t deny their experiences, only their reaction to them. People can be as unsatisfied as they want with how the church is run, they are freely choose to stay or leave. What they are not free to do as members who claim to be faithful, is publicly suggest what questions the leaders ought to be asking, what answers they ought to be receiving or what the church should be doing in any way at all.

    Nobody but the leaders are authorized to receive any promptings at all regarding what the church ought to be doing. If these people claim to have spiritual promptings on any such topic, then yes, I deny them. Such promptings are not of God. It’s written all over the scriptures and prophetic teachings. Your claims regarding what the church ought to have done with blacks and the priesthood are NOT inspired by God. At all. You have never been authorized to receive any such promptings and we have been promised that God will never give you such promptings.

  133. Publicly? I’m not sure the internet blogs qualify as publicly but I haven’t researched this in a long time and it’s an evolving question, the last I checked it was considered a private conversation.

    I wasn’t playing dumb with you Bruce I was testing your position by contrasting it. But, I think we mostly done with this conversation so I’ll leave. Thanks again for providing voice. Have a great day all!

  134. Howard,

    Online blogs most certainly are public in the sense that relevant here. Perhaps it would be clearer if I traded out the private/public distinction in favor of the stewardship/non-stewardship. You can receive revelation for your stewardship only and all the revelations the one receives for people outside of their stewardship are not from God. This covers very nearly all bloggernacle progressives.

  135. And before you fall back on the cliche “would that all the Lord’s people were prophets”, it should be clear that this does not refer to an egalitarian access to all information and guidance. Rather it is a call for the church to be inspired at every level of its hierarchical organization, each person according to their stewardship.

  136. Does my use of the word “might” above constitute Rule 159?

    No, Howard. Rule 159 is “Selective quotation”, such as your omission of the article in question’s statement that “After praying for guidance, President McKay did not feel impressed to lift the ban”. (And, of course, the primary sources say that McKay got a much stronger response than that.)

    Perhaps your love of the people and institutions who champion behaviors that the modern Church is denouncing as “sinful”, creates in you a desire to erode the Church’s own moral authority by inventing a history in which the Church itself spent a hundred and fifty years in a state of sin?

  137. [Howard] “Are you denying their experience? I do not because history shows the brethren respond to agitation and pursue God for an answer. This may well be the way God wants it at this time. he may even want the double standard to lull TBMs into sleeping through the controversy until it’s settled.”

    That God is able to make positive outcomes from rebellion does not justify the rebellious, Judas being the ultimate example.

  138. J Cavender, you wrote: “If you traffic in victimhood, you must perpetuate victims. To build a long-term organization around a political grievance, it is essential that the grievances may never be resolved and those who are victims must never be healed (because a victim healed is no longer a constituent).”

    Exactly. And the solution is perpetual “revolution”. This is part and parcel of Leftism (Progressivism).

    Professor Bruce Charlton wrote a couple essays about how the Left is about permanent revolution, and how calls to treat different things/people/groups “equally” is always destructive:

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2014/01/living-in-new-left-society-of-permanent.html

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2014/01/calls-to-treat-different-things-or.html

  139. A book, now available free onlione, that studies the feminization of Christianity:

    http://www.podles.org/church-impotent.htm

    (If you want a short-cut, just read chapter 10.)

    About:
    After documenting the highly feminized state of Western Christianity, Dr. Podles identifies the masculine traits that once characterized the Christian life but are now commonly considered incompatible with it. In an original and challenging account, he traces this feminization to three contemporaneous medieval sources: the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the rise of scholasticism, and the expansion of female monasticism. He contends that though masculinity has been marginalized within Christianity, it cannot be expunged from human society. If detached from Christianity, it reappears as a substitute religion, with unwholesome and even horrific consequences. The church, too, is diminished by its emasculation. Its spirituality becomes individualistic and erotic, tending toward universalism and quietism. In his concluding assessment of the future of men in the church, Dr. Podles examines three aspects of Christianity-initiation, struggle, and fraternal love-through which its virility might be restored.

    In the otherwise stale and overworked field of “gender studies,” The Church Impotent is the only book to confront the lopsidedly feminine cast of modern Christianity with a profound analysis of its historical and sociological roots. Dr. Podles presents the fruit of his meticulous scholarship in a lucid and readable style thoroughly accessible to the non-specialist.

  140. Along these same lines, I’ve often thought how Jesus let certain people go along the way. He fed the 5,000 and then most turned on him because they didn’t understand his “bread” doctrine. He didn’t call them back. He didn’t offer to keep feeding them. He didn’t chase after them and beg them to understand, nor did he force his disciples to do the same. The crowd, just so amply fed by the Savior, rejected the truth and left him. The truth is the truth. Just as we have today. I heard this doctrine put brilliantly by Vaughn J Featherstone in a talk, when I was a missionary; quoting the scriptures he said Jesus asked Peter “will ye also go away”? to which Peter responded “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure, that thou art the Christ”. Yes, we should love, care and help bring the one back to the fold, but as it is so well put here, not at the risk of re-defining what is truth or what Jesus and his current day prophets teach. Accept what they offer or wander off “into strange paths”. He gives us our agency.

  141. I want to thank everyone in this thread. In particular, I want to thank Howard. He certainly is out of the majority here. He has been persistent and so have so many others.

    The clarity I get from the interaction here is
    - personal revelation should never be publicly taught unless it is in line with the doctrine confirmed by those with the keys
    - blog comments are demonstrably public. Even if they are not accessed by billions, they are more accessible to billions than many books published by the tens of thousands.
    - this “living room” has offered me so much comfort. To know that there are friends that are able and willing to defend the church. Exhaustively. I nearly do not have the patience to merely read the interactions. Let alone think that I might be able to maintain my composure. I love Howard. I do not know you except for the blogs you have commented on. I certainly do not agree with much of your position. I am grateful that you have been so willing to express yourself here. It gives me a window into your heart and mind.

    That does not mean that I do not think you should repent. You should.

    I do not mean to say that I do not have need to repent. I do. Just that my sin has not been publicly posted. My sin does not persuade others to see the words of the seers as less than they are. We are to sustain the arms of Moses as Aaron did. Even if we privately do not agree with the battle Moses says we should fight.

    I

  142. I also do not want to discount your agitation. I do agree that The Lord does not want us to rebel. And that he makes so much good from some rebellion.

    We must ask questions. D&C is full of revelation that came from questions. We must be mindful to ask in way that is what The Lord has said is best. Public shaming, or demonstration is not part of the best ways. The Lord has told us that through his authorized servants.

    Thank you again to all

  143. Rich says: “…this “living room” has offered me so much comfort. To know that there are friends that are able and willing to defend the church. Exhaustively.”

    Rich, its the occaisional comments like this that allow me to keep diong this.

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