Jennings 1, Martha Beck -100

Marianne Jennings, one of my favorite columnists, skewers Martha Beck and her new book here.

My favorite line:

“Dr. Beck, Harvard PhD, life coach, bulimic, and incest recollector extraordinaire, bears a striking resemblance to Frau Farbissina, the Austin Powers sidekick, something that makes it all the more difficult to take her lion, camel, butterfly meditations, and evolutions seriously. Beck’s book has four themes: (1) she threw up a lot; (2) Mormons are loaded with problems because they cook, clean, raise decent children, head to church with regularity, and, worst of all, helped her through a pregnancy in which she was bedridden (one can understand why she hates them so); (3) she threw up a lot; and (4) her father, Mormon scholar, Hugh Nibley, molested her, something she recollected after she passed out whilst listening in on BYU students allegedly confessing to date rape, child sexual abuse, and pretty much anything Toni Morrison has loaded into her dime-store smut.”

She also has some choice things to say about Hanoi Jane.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

101 thoughts on “Jennings 1, Martha Beck -100

  1. I enjoy Oprah’s magazine, but I skip Martha Beck’s column now, she’s lost her credibility with me. However, I agree with the columnist about Oprah and Toni Morrison. I used to try to read Oprah’s book picks, but they were all exercises in masochism, although well written.

    I loved her point about how her husband is scared of her. It’s so true! We are the bosses of you.

  2. Annegb, you’re not supposed to know you are our bosses and you’re certainly not supposed to gloat about it. Ok, I’m sorry, please don’t take offense…don’t give me a nasty glare…OK, I give up, you win, I take back everything I just wrote.

  3. That interview was strange. Beck seems surprisingly uninterested in maintaining any sort credibility. Jennings does a nice job of tying together Beck’s literal and figurative barfing.

  4. The New Times, who published “Saint Misbehavin” the interview with Martha Beck is a alt-weekly out of phoenix. ALthough those in Utah are familiar with the jibes the Church takes from SLC”s alt weekly, these are mild in comparison with the deep contempt and disrespect the Phoenix New Times has for Mormons. The Phoenix New times is part of a national conglomerate of alt weeklies, so perhaps it is trying to compensate for its self loathing of its corporate roots.

    The polygamy issue in Hilldale/Colorado City is a big one for them. There articles almost deliberately try to hide any distinction betweens the FLDS and LDS. They portray the distinction made as evidence of the church’s supposed support of the FLDS church.

    The inaccuracies are astounding, from a supposed Mormon plot to turn ASU into BYU south, A mormon conspiracy to kick preschoolers out by expanding the institute, Mormon domination of free speech at ASU by protesting bare breasts on the campus newspaper, and a play entitled “Bashing the BIshop”.

    While I am aware of alt weeklies general skepticisim of the church, the New times goes way beyond the boundary of respected journalism. The new times interview is pretty much par for the course at the NT.

  5. Well, I can tell I’m in the minority here, but I think Martha deserves our compassion instead of our derision and contempt.

    Granted, her book is filled with offensive inaccuracies about the Mormon church and strategically placed anecdotes for comedic effect (the hairdresser calling her husband before she would cut Martha’s hair is great), but Martha is obviously a lost soul who is looking for affirmation from the world to make herself feel better about some of the choices she has made in her life. It’s sad when people feel compelled to bare their souls in this way in their search for peace, and hurt so many other people in the process.

    I feel bad for Martha, but I’m hopeful that most people who read this book will be turned off by the hyperbole and the sensationalistic writing, and will see right through Martha’s act of trying to impress them (i.e., how many times do we have to hear she graduated from Harvard?).

    Anyway, I do feel bad for Martha. But I feel worse for her family. I hope they will be able to forgive each other and be reconciled.

  6. I actually had a long email debate with the editor of the Phoenix Alt Weekly after the school pulled funding from the school paper after the nipple-on-the-cover incident. I argued the school is no different than an advertiser and could pull funding if they wanted. He argued the school was violating the First Amendment for not paying for nipples on the cover of the school paper…

  7. Tess, I think all lost souls deserve our compassion. I feel truly sorry for her and I know she will have a judgement process (most likely a self-judgement process) in the future that will be very painful for her. I am a convert to the Church and spent time deriding the Church to my friends, and I feel guilty for every lie I ever said. I am glad to have been washed clean of those lies, and I pray that Martha Beck will have a similar repentance process.

    Having said that, it is worth pointing out and addressing the lies of people like Martha Beck. Ever since Joseph Smith had the first vision, opponents of the restoration have resorted to lies, exaggeration and defamation to oppose the work. Martha Beck is part of that process. Her claims are eerily similar to the first anti-Mormon screeds that were published in newspapers in New York, Ohio and elsewhere . If left unaddressed, claims like Martha Beck’s begin to take on lives of their own. I can guarantee you that there are people in the United States today who believe that Mormon women must get permission from their husbands before cutting their hair. Don’t you think it’s important to set the record straight? Part of that process involves looking at the evidence behind the claims, and the character of the person making the claims. And, by her own actions and lies, Martha Beck brings a load of derision on herself.

  8. Annegb,

    I loved that line “we are the bosses of you.” That cracked me up.

  9. Hi, Geoff B. -

    I definitely agree that we should correct the inaccuracies and point out the sensationalism in Martha Beck’s book, but I don’t think we should stoop to her level with ad hominem attacks against her.

    I find it interesting that Martha completely undermines her own credibility by her obviously biased (and extremely negative) style of writing about the Church and her experiences. She would have been much more effective in advancing her agenda to discredit the Church and to scorn her family had she written her story more objectively.

  10. Marianne Jennings teaches gospel doctrine in my parents’ ward. She is amazing.

  11. With all due respect to Ms. Jennings, who I’m sure is a fabulous GD teacher, I thought her review nearly as trashy as what I’ve read of the Beck book itself.

  12. Tess, do you know anyone who has been falsely accused of preditory sexual abuse? I do. Believe me, when you see the kind of torture *these* poor souls have to endure it’s difficult not to spit in the eye of the accuser.

  13. Rosalynde, that was my take as well. If it takes talent to be acerbic and sarcastic, then pretty much everyone is talented from junior high on. I think good writing requires resisting the easy below-the belt shot– especially in every single paragraph.

  14. I revelled in Martha having little of her own “trash” thrown back at her. Though, I wouldn’t be suprised to learn that she swallows it wholesale with her trash-can-lid-sized mouth, being the martyr that she is…

  15. The book was not very good.

    The Jennings review was worse.

    If you don’t live in Arizona and you’re not LDS, chances are you’ve never heard of Leaving the Saints.

  16. What is Marianne Jennings trying to accomplish with a column like this? If her goal is preach to the choir comprised of people who already know that Martha is guilty of gross fabrications, then I guess she has accomplished her goal, and has given Martha’s critics a few good lines to quote back to each other. But if her goal is to give a good impression of the church and its members, or to persuade those who are genuinely wondering what to make of Martha’s allegations, she fails miserably. Junk like this only repels the very people we want to draw in. By this mean shall men know that ye are my disciples, that ye master the art of ridicule of one another? Martha should put her on the payroll.

  17. I found the Jennings review rather distasteful myself. The bit about doubting a parent telling kids to not be with non-Mormons is problematic as well. That happens a lot. Here’s what I wrote on my blog on it:

    For instance, while it is a distinct minority and the church leadership have condemned it, some parents have told their kids not to be with non-Mormons. I think it a horrible thing to do. I think the idea is that they worry about their kids getting involved in a “bad crowd.” The only problem is that most non-Mormons aren’t the “bad crowd” and there are plenty of Mormon kids who are. (After all being brought up Mormon doesn’t mean you were brought up well or that you do what you are told) It’s unfortunate the reviewer would say this is so unbelievable, as it does definitely happen and I think many non-Mormons have experienced it in Utah, even if it is a minority who does it. (And, as I said, it has frequently been condemned by LDS leaders like Pres. Hinkley)

  18. Geoff J

    So you are that Geoff Johnston! I thought your point was spot on. That’s interesting about your debate, I wonder if you could post that on your blog?

    Regarding Marianne Jennings, although she has a reputation in Arizona, I have always found her writing to be a little too reactionary and sarcastic. Her style is similar to many political commentators. While I am disapointed with Ms. Beck’s book, I don’t think wholesale ad hominem attacks and reductionist responses are the best way to go about countering this dreadful book.

  19. I have never known anyone like that in the church and I think it’s ridiculous for Beck to build an argument against the church on it. Good gracious, you could bring down ANY organization if you could build a legitimate argumant against it because of a tiny minority of poo-head adherents.

  20. I’ve read Beck’s book in its entirety. The the Sunstone review is thorough, fair, and as positive a review can honestly be given of the book–and it’s not a positive review. Frankly, Beck’s book doesn’t deserve to be treated so well; treating it seriously makes people suppose that it has some degree of credibility (a la Krakauer). So Marianne Jennings’ review is trashy? Good for Jennings.

  21. Note that her amazingness is not apparent in her writing. She has accomplished much and has boundless energy, and is amazing in that way.

    The article was distasteful. But someone can write a distasteful article and still be an amazing person, which none of you here have disputed of course.

  22. Hi, Jack-

    Yes, I have personally known many people who have been falsely (and not so falsely) accused of predatory sexual behavior, so I have seen the ravages wrought by such accusations first hand. In my experience, both the accuser and the accused deal with serious emotional trauma and public approbation as a result.*

    We’ll never be able to know whether or not Martha’s claims of sexual abuse are true. Given her track record, it strains credibility to accept her version of events, but stranger things have happened in this world, unfortunately.

    *As a disclaimer, I evaluate sexual harassment claims as part of my duties as an attorney, so while I do have a lot of experience in this area, it is more professional than personal.

  23. Oops. I wish I could go back and correct my post. I embarrassingly wrote public “approbation” instead of public “opprobrium”. Oops. I guess one person’s approbation is another person’s opprobrium (another Martha comes to mind – Martha Stewart), but probably not in this context.

  24. I think there’s a difference between Martha Beck and Martha Beck’s book. We can, and should, treat Martha Beck with sympathy and respect, as Tess mentions. But that does not mean we must react similarly to the book.

    I think that most books – even bad books – are written in earnest, and so deserve a sincere review. From what I have seen, Beck’s book is anything but. I must agree with Arturo in that I think the tone of Jennings’ review is absolutely appropriate considering its subject matter. Orgazmo deserves a more considerate review than does Leaving the Saints.

  25. I didn’t know Jennings was a Mormon; that makes me cringe. I used to read her column in the Deseret News, and I was incredibly turned off by her shrill, angry, ad hominem style. That’s dissapointing to know. And I echo Tess that Beck, whose inaccuracies need to be disputed kindly and firmly, needs to be treated personally with tenderness, not called names and ridiculed.

  26. Jay S. (#21)

    Wow, I never bothered to check what got printed… I better go look at that. That’s a good idea about reposting that email debate. I guess I should get permission from Mr. Barrs first though.

  27. Mellissa: The most pathetic thing about the column is that Jennings obviously thinks she’s being clever.

    On the contrary, the most interesting thing to me is how basically correct Jennings is. Have you read Beck’s book?

  28. Regarding Jennings’ style:

    I’ve wondered in writing before if in this modern war of words and ideologies we have any room for an occasional “Teancum” on our team now. Many of the FARMS guys get heckled in the church for using somewhat cutting tones in defense of the church too. I also wonder if extreme, gnarly, no-holds-barred soldiers like Teancum were considered an embarrassments by many Nephites in their time.

    I’m not sure I approve of this approach taken, but I suspect that it might have a little to do with using their talents in defense of the church too. Some people are good at fighting like that and sometimes it comes in handy to have them around.

  29. Geoff, I’m surprised to hear that point of view. I can’t imagine any grown-up situation where the ability to be really sarcastic and biting will ever be useful in resolving anything. Further, I think it’s naive to think that only a few people can pull it off. Probably half of the people I know, myself included, are able to bring a bit of sarcasm and mockery to bear if they want to, but choose not to in favor of actuallly being effective.

  30. Melissa, I can understand if your tastes are just too sophisticated for the likes of Jennings. She seems like the kind of woman who may even be comfortable with people using terms like chick or doll. Even so, “pathetic”? You must really flip out when you read things like Aaron Brown’s latest post at BCC, where he goes after George Lucas just for making a few bum flicks.

    Melissa: And my name is Melissa.

    Now that’s a relief. I was beginning to worry that you were having an identity crisis.

  31. Ryan, Concerning Beck’s book: When it is so easily shown of something that it is deserving of scorn and ridicule, then we should lose no opportunity to say so. Moreover, we should applaud those who scorn and ridicule it. This is a tremendously effective method of shaping conversations.

    For example, say everybody politely humored people who advance crazy conspiracy theories and engaged such people on their own terms in the interest of being (to use your word) “effective” (I prefer to call it “boring”). This would lead us to treat them as though they were just another point of view, and they would end up on equal footing with legitimate history and real scholarship. (This is, I think, exactly what ended up happening with the several schools of feminism, but that’s a different topic altogether.) In like manner, treating Beck’s work respectfully will lead people to believe that Beck’s book is on the same footing as something by (say) Quinn or Arrington.

  32. AT: how about starting your OWN blog so people could come and visit your blog and make comments? I’d be interested in reading your posts, instead of trying to make sense of your comments. I’m not sure if you’re for real or just really annoying.

  33. Ryan,

    The talent might be the ability to withstand or ignore the wave of criticism one faces for fighting sarcasm with sarcasm in the church. There is a powerful social correction machine in place to correct such missteps. Blasting Martha like that was asking for blasts back in Jennings’ direction but she did it anyway because she apparently believed what she wrote.

    Sure anyone could have snuck in to an enemy camp at night and stabbed the opposing general through the heart while he slept (not once but twice no less!) but only one person was brave/crazy enought to take the risk and do it. Do you think captain Moroni even approved of that stabbing people in their sleep? The records we have of him make it clear he would never do such a thing. We can tell that Teancum wasn’t demoted the first time he did it and later Mormon thought highly enough of Teancum to give him plenty of ink even as 99%+ of the other records were cut.

    You may say that Teancum had more personal risk, but based on the bashing this Jennings is taking I’d guess she knew there was social risking her cutting (but honest) review as well. Yes, its true that Jesus would not have written such a review. I’m just not convinced that Jesus opposes the honest efforts of the Teancums of the world and more than a righteous captain Moroni or later Mormon did. I willing to reserve my judgment on her because of that.

  34. I don’t think the Teancum parallels are apt. Rhetoric is a very different issue than combat and warfare, despite the metaphors of the latter used in the former. Recall that Teancum basically went (apparently without orders) and assassinated the leaders of the opposing armies. (Their command and control structures) Yet despite that metaphor of “character assassination” in rhetoric, what’s the equivalent? If ones aim is to make people discount the voice, then the issue is the best way to do that. I think Jenning’s approach simply doesn’t work for that. When people hear so much ad homen, I think many tune out. Thus Jennings’ approach undermines her own efforts.

    I think that rehtorically a calm, collected presention of where Beck goes wrong is much more effective. Otherwise you’re just preaching to the choir and making them feel better about their already held positions.

  35. Arturo: For me, at least, the issue is not whether Jennings’ criticisms are basically correct, or whether Beck’s book deserves to be trashed. The issue is whether Jennings’ approach is effective in accomplishing its purpose. There is no point in being right, if you are not effective. It is the rare person indeed whose mind is changed by vituperative ridicule such as that found in Jennings’ review. If we want people to see the errors in Beck’s book, and to believe that she has misrepresented her family and the church, this is not the way to do it. Ridicule is not persuasive.

  36. Geoff, your use of Teancum as an analogy strikes me as misplaced. Teancum had a chance to do something that we normally condemn because the act might end a conflict and save many, many lives. Now, without commenting on the justifiability of this very utilitarian approach, it’s not hard to see how different the Jennings situation is.

    Let’s just concede that Becks book is evil and we should righteously be trying to discredit it. First, from an instrumental standpoint, I’m not convinced that being really snide and sarcastic will do any good at all. In my experience sarcasm and derision are only received positively by those who already agree with the views of the speaker. Thus, anyone looking for a helpful assessment of Beck’s book will certainly not feel aided by Jennings’ bile. Have you ever been persuaded by someone whose main weapon was outright mockery of your position?

    But even if we did concede that Jennings’ methods are effective in persuading others, we’d still have to question whether they’re moral. You concede that Jesus wouldn’t use these tactics, but I’m not sure why we should be up for it. Again, Teancum did what he did with the hope of averting thousands of deaths. Here, we are talking about someone trying to assassinate the character of one woman in order to diminish the impact of a single book that is critical of the church. I don’t see why vitriol and derision are justified here. Even in defense of Christianity, these methods don’t seem Christian.

  37. Tess: I’m not sure if you’re for real or just really annoying

    Do you really mean to imply that these are mutually exclusive?

    To clarify: the opinions I express are my own real opinions (and yes, I have a job, friends, a wife, kids, and a church calling–it takes all types, you know). I try to make it obvious when I’m joking around; e.g., I never really worried that Melissa (I just scrolled up screen to make sure I spelled her name right) suffered from an identity crisis. And I don’t play devil’s advocate. I’ve just got a really loud mouth, and I’m a really fast typer.

    Tess: how about starting your OWN blog so people could come and visit your blog and make comments?

    Be serious. Nobody would read it. It’s already everything people can do to avoid what I have to say on other people’s blogs–why post a sign that says, “Hey, this place is guaranteed to have content written by that overbearing Arturo guy”?

    Tess: I’d be interested in reading your posts, instead of trying to make sense of your comments.

    I wouldn’t be shouting something like this from the rooftops if I were you, Tess. People will begin to wonder if your daffy. Even so, if there’s anything unclear about my comments (and there often is), I’m always happy to clarify.

  38. IMO, anyone with a PhD who can publish that kind of crap deserves to be ridiculed. And who knows but what a little snark might take just enough shine off of those big letters that those less informed folks out there who might otherwise be blinded by them will stand a chance of seeing through them to the truth.

  39. “I’m not sure if you’re for real or just really annoying”

    Tess, we’ve all had similar doubts at some point in our blog lives, whether about AT or other “fictional” persons like DKL, Steve Evans or Chelsea Grimmus. The answer is simple: we’re ALL fake.

  40. “I’m not sure if you’re for real or just really annoying”

    It depends upon whether or not you’re on the same side of the issue. Art is rarely annoying to me.

  41. AT,

    Well, it’s not so obvious to everyone else when you’re joking around. And calling people “chicks” seems like a thinly-disguised ploy to generate controversy and then laugh at people getting their knickers in a twist over the outrageous things you say. The problem is that you do have insightful observations, so I’m never quite sure what to make of your comments. I guess I’d like to see some more context for your opinions, which might make getting your own blog useful.

    Getting back to the real topic at hand, I think the example of Teancum is instructive, but I agree with Ryan’s observation that it probably doesn’t work in responding to criticisms by anti-Mormons. These people have already made up their minds that the Church is evil or whatever, and any yelling and screaming from our end is just going to make things worse.

  42. The reality is that several commenters, including “Steve Evans”, “Arturo”, “danithew”, and others, are all bots that Bryce set up one day when he was bored.

    for example, some Steve-bot coding goes:

    $bcctopics = $db->get_results(“SELECT topics FROM bcctopics”);
    foreach ($bcctopics as $bcctopic)
    {
    $regex = “/”.$bcctopic->topic.”/i”;
    if (@preg_match($regex, $tscontent))
    {
    echo (‘POACHERS!!’);
    }
    }

  43. Tess: The problem is that you do have insightful observations…

    Yes, I know. I’m trying to get rid of them, but nothing seems to work. Any tips?

    By the way, I do use the word chick in serious conversations at work, at home, at church, and among friends. It’s a staple in my vocabulary, and I wouldn’t be who I am without it. My wife has even gone so far as to write a comment (on this very blog) with a charming and articulate defense of the term.

  44. Clark said it best. Being mean and sarcastic serves only to convince yourself and those who already agreed with you (not to mentions the fact that it gives a lot of ammunition to the opposition, i.e. “These people are supposed to be Christians, yet look how mean they’re being to me.”)

    Further, it doesn’t take guts for Jennings to say those things she said. I would venture that most people she knows and cares about applaud her columns. For this reason, and many others, the Teancum analogy is misplaced.

    Finally, using heated rhetoric and invective serves only to diminish one’s credibility in the eyes of disinterested parties, and distracts and cheapens one’s message.

  45. This must be the tenth post from one of four blogs that has resulted in AT/DKL defending his usage of “chicks.” Remember, he also tried to defend “dykes” over at T&S.

  46. Davis Bell: …using heated rhetoric and invective serves only to diminish one’s credibility in the eyes of disinterested parties, and distracts and cheapens one’s message.

    I don’t think that you’ll get very far in politics with this philosophy.

  47. Don’t go trying to downplay it, gst. Try? Nay. DKL actually did defend the use of “dykes” over at T&S.

    I suppose I should be impressed by how rude you can be to individuals while still objecting on moral grounds to otherwise harmless ways of referring to abstractions, but I’m just old fashioned that way.

  48. Arturo,

    I just clicked on your name for the first time. That’s hilarious!

  49. Clark said it best. Being mean and sarcastic serves only to convince yourself and those who already agreed with you (not to mentions the fact that it gives a lot of ammunition to the opposition, i.e. “These people are supposed to be Christians, yet look how mean they’re being to me.”)

    Sheesh! It looks like I’m going to have to stand up for myself becasue no one else sees how silly the position Clarks and the brothers Bell have taken here.

    Ok, so let me get this straight, guys. Teancum is justified in stabbing a sleeping man through the heart because there was physical conflict going on. But at the same time, in a conflict of words and ideologies Jennings is much more wicked than Teancum for reacting to Martha’s sarcasm with some sarcasm of her own?

    Of course the Teancum analogy works here. It is not at all misplaced. Jesus would not have done what Teancum or Jennings did. The opposition did whine and call the Nephites murderers after what Teancum did too. The killing of Amalickiah did nothing to deter the Lamanites either. Yes Clark, a calm and collected captain Moroni did much more good in total. Yes, Teancum was in effect preaching to the choir too by showing off like that. And yet obviously the great prophet/general Mormon thought quite highly of Teancum. I’m sure many of the saints at the time thought he was a dangerous psycho and got what he asked for.

    I’m not saying I would ever go as far as either of them did. But please don’t make silly implications that what Teancum did was justifiable but what Jennings did was not. I am going to withhold judgment on both of them.

    — Now back to your regularly scheduled talk all about DKL/AT (Dude, I’m waiting for you to say something useful here. Stop talking about yourself already!)

  50. Sarcastic humor has its uses in making an argument. My favorite examples would be Mark Steyn and Tom Tomorrow. There is almost nothing that I agree with Tom Tomorrow on, but he presents his stuff in such an entertaining and compelling way that I have to think about his points before I dismiss them. When it comes to Leaving the Saints, the indication of all the reviews is that ad hominem argument is the substance of the book. Jennings vomiting theme builds on that substance in an effective way, making ridiculous arguments sound ridiculous.

  51. Having gone through the temple but not being married in the temple, I was curious about the reference in the Phoenix New Times’ article about part of the marriage ceremony. Did Beck get married before 1990 or is this still part of the ceremony?

    I might feel guilty about threadjacking if AT/DKL weren’t already here.

  52. The difference Geoff, is in the results. What I and others are saying is that sarcastic ad homen are ineffective as a practical matter. Whereas I think it is an established military point that destruction of command and control in war is very effective. That’s all.

    Just to add, sarcasm can be occasionally useful. (Even Jesus used it at times) But one must be careful to understand what one is trying to accomplish. Who is the audience one is trying to persuade? How will they understand the form of your rhetoric?

    I also would note how the Lord talks about it in D&C 121:41-45. When we use sharp words, let’s be sure we’re doing it because of the Holy Ghost and not because we wish to feel power. Further, when we do it, we have to then show an increase of love. It’s that showing (not just “feeling”) love that often is missing when people get mean and sarcastic. Further, as I think D&C 121 implies, often our desire for sharpness is to make ourselves feel good by exercising power.

  53. Ned, I believe Beck was married prior to the changed in 1990. (That was the time, wasn’t it? I seem to recall ’89 for some reason) She doesn’t mention the change in the book. But then she doesn’t really deal fairly with symbolism very well either. Her portray of the events from the temple is fairly offensive. One could do the same thing with many religions. (i.e. taking the sacrament or communion and portraying it as muching on Jesus)

    Sarcasm can be effective. Take Dave Barry or even P.J. O’Rourke. However the way both Beck and Jennings do it isn’t as fair, given the topic. Actually I think in terms of rhetoric Beck is fairly skilled, while Jennings is nowhere as skilled. But in both cases it is fairly misleading. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  54. Alright Clark, if the article dissuades thousands of people from taking the ramblings of a mentally ill person seriously as she slanders her father and the church is it justified then? How do you know that isn’t the result of this article?

    (Also, I keep hearing this preaching to the choir comment but the link take me to Jewish World Review. How is the readership of that publication “the choir”?)

    I am not advocating communicating as Jennings did. I wouldn’t do it. I try to follow the the guidelines outlined in section 121 myself. I am only reacting to the judgments being heaped upon Jennings here. I’m not convinced the Lord is necessarily displeased with her efforts. He certainly may be, but I believe he may not be depending on the details of his relationship with Jennings.

  55. As I said Geoff, heavy dripping sarcasm and personal attacks aren’t effective except to strengthen the resolve of people who already agree with you.

    As for the source of the article, that just shows how inappropriate the article was. It doesn’t justify anything.

    As for who the Lord is pleased or displeased with, I’ll leave that to him. I’m merely indicating a solid reason why a Mormon might wish to think twice before reproving with sharpness.

  56. I’m slow on the uptake, and kept wondering where was the interview you guys were referring to. I found it and really have a visceral reaction to it. No one I know here has even heard of this woman, no one has ever mentioned her, I’d read her columns in Oprah, but I didn’t know she was LDS. I haven’t read anything in the paper either, although maybe it’s in the Salt Lake papers.

    But she is skewing a whole bunch of innocent people, even if there’s truth to her accusations about her family. She is really, really wrong here. I am pretty liberal, and I certainly don’t think we are all perfect in Zion, but she is really unfair to us.

    The fact that she’s a life coach scares me.

  57. Actually I truly believe people like Ann Coulter give conservativism a bad name and do nothing to convince moderates or liberals of anything except that they ought oppose conservativism.

  58. Geoff Johnston: Dude, I’m waiting for you to say something useful here. Stop talking about yourself already!

    ROTFLMAO. OK, OK. I hope not to keep you waiting too long.

    It’s all fine to insist on perfect rationality in private conversations. But all this high-minded denouncing of juicy, red-meat, attack essays is irrational. Frankly, it’s ironic how snide and insulting some people here (read: feminists) can get when they’re advocating rational discussion. To most people, the bottom line is this: rational argument is boring, boring, boring. It takes thinkers of the magnitude of Bertrand Russell or David Hume to make ratiocination interesting–and almost nobody reads them. Let’s face it, to the extant that sound logic plays any role at all in most decisions, it is a very small factor, indeed.

    But let’s stop talking in the abstract. Take Ann Coulter, who is nothing if not vitriolic. What does she accomplish?

    A. Among those who agree with her:

    1. Her approach instills confidence in those who may otherwise be timid or defensive
    2. She motivates people to actually take up the arguments with others
    3. She defines the terms according to which they discuss the issue
    4. She gets their attention
    5. She entertains

    B. Among those who sit on the fence:

    1. She provides an input that they will consider along side other inputs
    2. She counterbalances vitriolic arguments from the other side
    3. She entertains

    C. Among those with whom she disagrees

    1. She gets their attention

    Howsoever dreadful red-meat, attack essays may be, let’s not pretend that they (a) aren’t effective in accomplishing anything, (b) aren’t more fun to read than most essays of a more rational tone.

  59. “The fact that she’s a life coach scares me.”

    Right on annegb. It’s terrifying, especially when one considers that most folks who recover false memories are coached into doing so.

    That’s why I think it may be useful for Beck to be taken out a beat like a dirty rug by Jennings (and the like) so all the world can see the filth come flying off.

  60. Oh yeah,

    I must agree with Arturo. For a lot of folks, “rational argument is boring, boring, boring.” They won’t touch it with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole–especially the types that are prone to this kind of psychosis. A little verbal shock treatment might keep them from going over the edge.

  61. Jack,
    This is the second time in the last six months I have had to remind you that they lengthened the pole. Have a great day.

  62. AT–

    You should add “She entertains” to c) as well. I’ve read a few of Ann Coulter’s books, and was definitely entertained, even though I’m at heart not on her side.

    I’m inclined to agree with you that vitriolic, sarcastic, biting screeds have their useful place in public discourse. The problem with the Jennings review is just that it’s not very good.

  63. Bryce, consider my list C amended. I do like the paragraph that Geoff quotes, but I agree Jennings article is not terribly artful as a whole. But let’s be honest: We wouldn’t be spilling nearly so much ink (so to speak) on Jennings if she’d taken an approach similar to that of the Sunstone review.

  64. AT, I’d come to your blog.

    I think Ann Coulter is pretty, but I haven’t been able to get through her books, the level of negativity just bothers me. I admire her courage and plain spoken-ness, but I can only take so much talk radio. Like 5 minutes or less.

    As for that interview, I thought it was the New YORK Times, and I thought, “geez, they are really down on Mormons.” Makes more sense this way.

  65. Bryce,

    “I’m inclined to agree with you that vitriolic, sarcastic, biting screeds have their useful place in public discourse.”

    Even though what you say is technically correct, would you agree that for the common folk, the level to which rhetoric has fallen in the last 30 or so years is the main reason why average voter turnout has dropped to unprecedented levels. Even though it has it’s place, it also carries significant consequences.

  66. Well said, Larry. While I agree that sometimes it’s necessary to shout loudly and wave your arms around to get noticed, I don’t agree with the vicious attacks lobbed daily from the right and the left. And what I hate most is how the “Christian” right have exploited religion to advance their own political agenda. But that’s a story for another day.

  67. Yes,

    And the “atheistic” left has exploited the religion of secular humanism to advance their own political agenda. But that’s a story for another day.

  68. AT, in reference to your comment #55: I don’t object to the epithet on moral grounds–I just think it’s impolite.

  69. AT: if you call women “chicks” at work (#51), you may be creating a hostile work environment. That’s sexual harrassment, and it’s illegal.

  70. Tess: if you call women “chicks” at work (#51), you may be creating a hostile work environment.

    Yes, but then again, I may also already be a winner.

    Tess: That’s sexual harrassment, and it’s illegal.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a neanderthal and a rogue and a criminal. That’s what happens when a cry-baby judiciary create basic law out of whole cloth to appease cry-baby litigators.

    But seriously, if you’d like the names of some of the chicks I work with to feed your client pipeline, drop me a line.

  71. Many of you seem very concerned about the ad hominem attacks. But, given the subject, Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.

  72. I find it interesting that we can be having a good discussion and Arturo throws in the word chick and suddenly the whole subject changes. Perhaps we need a seperate thread for that topic.

  73. I find it downright astonishing, annegb.

    All I did was speculate that Jennings is “the kind of woman who may even be comfortable with people using terms like chick or doll.” Nobody even cared to disagree with my speculation. They just jumped right in to talk about the word chick. I’ve never seen anything like it in the real world. There are some very tightly strung people in the bloggernacle who are more than a little interested in lording their morality over others. Maybe that’s what prompts many of them to post.

  74. Well, this is a sort long story. While I was in New York, and my daughter was so sick, one night I was exhausted and hungry for comfort food and the hotel sent me to this nice little pub, fireplace, brick walls and wood, just cozy. I ordered shepherd’s pie, which I mostly just inhaled, I was too tired and stressed out to eat.

    Sitting in the corner were three guys surrounded by empty and half full and full bottles of beer. I thought that would make a great picture. So I asked if I could have my picture taken with them (it’s a family tradition when we travel, pictures with men, just us girls), they were so cute and excited because they were sitcom stars in Europe, on BBC, and they thought I’d recognized them. I said, “no, I’m a Mormon, and I thought all these beer bottles would make a great picture.” What sweet boys. When I left, they said, “see ya, doll.” And I thought “I must be cuter than I thought I was.” I wasn’t insulted, I thought it was very sweet of them. They had a respectful tone.

    The pictures were flattering, but not what I’d hoped. I was hoping I would look all happy and drunk, but I was too tired and it shows, so I won’t be making copies for my friends. ….maybe with that cute Italian carriage driver…or the rabbi…or the street cops.

    I tried to get a picture of the maintenance head at Bellevue who was dressed in a fire engine red suit and tie, but my camera failed. Now that would have been a picture.

    What was the subject again?

  75. Arturo, you have a comically (if pathetically) inflated opinion of your own “astonishing” influence. In a thread of 92 comments, a single commenter has objected to your use of the term, and that in only two comments. Astonishing, indeed.

    In truth, your anemic version of red-meat masculinity has almost no nutritional value, and commenters who know you quickly find somewhere else to eat.

  76. annegb, though I’m not English and I’ve never appeared on the BBC, that’s exactly the context in which I’d call a woman “doll”, and I often have. Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent too much time in bars (I was a bartender back in college). Though I don’t think I’ve ever used the term chick as though it were a noun of direct address–that just doesn’t sound right to me. At any rate, maybe you’re beggining to see the light.

  77. Funny story (well, slightly) of my own, annegb: my stake had a wild western dance two weeks ago, and they planned to have a “saloon” where “drinks” (Shirly Temples and Roy Rodgerses) were served. They asked me to be the bartender. So I donned my tux (with a vest, but sans coat), my black Longhorn boots, and my gold revolver cuff-links. Then I poured “drinks,” and had a blast. I never thought I’d tend bar at an LDS function. Perhaps I’ll get called to be the Stake Beverage Specialist, but probably not (I’m never that lucky).

  78. Sheesh, Rosalynde, as anemic as Arturo’s favorite topic is he sure got a red-blooded response out of you. True, most commenters do go somewhere else to eat, but you always seem to bite.

    Seems to me you must either be bored or you proved his point quite adequately.

  79. That’s what happens when a cry-baby judiciary create basic law out of whole cloth to appease cry-baby litigators.

    I should know better than to bite, but this was not a doctrine created by the judiciary. It was created by Congress. It’s called Title VII.

    Last I checked even conservative wingnuts thought it was OK for Congress to create law.

  80. Jordan Fowles: I should know better than to bite…

    Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    Jordan Fowles: [the doctrine of the hostile work environment] was not a doctrine created by the judiciary. It was created by Congress. It’s called Title VII.

    I’ve read the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I can’t find the term hostile work environment anywhere. The reason? It’s not in the Title VII, or any other part of the Civil Right Act of 1964. I realize many law school courses on laws do not use actual laws as the primary texts, and that few courses on the Constitution use the US Constitution as the primary text, but just the same, shouldn’t you know that the doctrine of the “hostile work environment” as we know it was created out of whole cloth from a section of law concerned primarilly with hiring practices and promotions? I stand by my assertion that it was created out of whole cloth by a crybaby courts to appease crybaby litigants.

  81. I think the language of Title VII, as well as the legislative history, can pretty easily and obviously yield the terms “hostile environment” even if they are not the actual words used in the legislation.

    You don’t have to be a legal genius to see that. Or some hyper-active judge.

  82. Jordan Fowles: I think the language of Title VII, as well as the legislative history, can pretty easily and obviously yield the terms “hostile environment” even if they are not the actual words used in the legislation.

    Yours is a losing argument, Jordan. Title VII does not easily and obviously yield the terms “hostile environment” in connection to current sexual harrasment standards. At any rate, it’s not easy or obvious enough that any judge saw it before the late 1970s. And the intervening 15 or so years between the act’s passage and the first decision applying it to sexual harrasment was a period of unprecedented activism–it yielded such judicial monstrosities the “fundamental right” to abortion (the only fundamental right which has never had more than a bare majority of support among those to whom it supposedly applies) and school bussing. If it took these judges so long to extrapolate something close to the current reading, you can’t very well claim that it’s obvious or easy.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to see exactly what portion of Section 703 you take to easily and obviously yield the terms “hostile work environment” and how this can be understood to obviously and easily include sexually suggestive meterials or common slang. The most it can reasonably be taken to say is that you can’t pressure workers to quit by mistreating them–a far cry from the current standard.

  83. I find it very surprising that in this entire blog, not one person noticed that Jennings frequently (and quite centrally) mislables anorexia as bulimia. At no time does Beck describe barfing, instead describing starving herself repeatedly to exhaustion. It almost made it appear as though Jennings hadn’t even bothered to read the book! Altogether much more embarrassing than either a vituperative tone or a compromised partiality.

    Also, the Teancum analogy only really works if there are two armies and one general assassinates one on the other side. In this debate, there seems to be POMO (Pissed Off Mormons Online), vs . . . Beck. Alone, she’s not much of a camp to sneak into. And in a debate, even an assassinated opponent comes back. Kind of like sneaking into a lonely tent at night, but all you can do is throw a bucket of paint. Just wait for the next day and use a roller. That way you won’t get any on yourself. That’s what the above-mentioned Sunstone review did. I thought it fair, well researched, well thought out, and very honest (it mirrored almost exactly my own reading, and research, of the book, minus the interviews of course). The review was leagues more scholarly than its subject, which is ultimately such a better weapon to hit Beck with than mere vitriol, if you want her to stay down.

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