A helpful template for progressive Mormons to help them respond to the latest news

This is a guest post by Huston.

It’s tough out there for a progressive Mormon these days. Reacting with horrified indignation on the Internet to current events has nearly become a full-time job! It’s almost enough to make one re-examine one’s passionately believed liberal assumptions. Almost.

But before you do something drastic like that, here’s how to deal with the exhaustion of always needing to rant online. After all, there are only so many synonyms for “sad” that you can dredge up in the service of your public moral vanity.

Just use this easy, user-friendly template for your next angry tirade against the LDS Church. It’ll even work for those trendy new rants that poorly veil their murmuring under the guise of being diplomatically disappointed.

Here it is:

I am (outraged / shocked / depressed) by the recent event in the LDS Church that everyone’s talking about. It (sickens / offends / discourages) my sensitive and compassionate conscience. Once again our leaders have shown themselves to be (out of touch / tone deaf / afraid of change / consistently faithful to their calling).

When will the Church finally (evolve / wake up / get with the times / become as good as I am)? And when will they finally start thinking about all the (minorities / non-Mormons / children / sensitive and compassionate progressives)? When?!

Don’t they know that this is the last straw and that oodles and scads of people are now (leaving the Church / not joining the Church / speaking out against the Church / scribbling stale criticisms online for cheap social capital)?

How do I know the Church is wrong on this issue? I’ll tell you: (insert string of logical fallacies here; begging the question, straw man, reductio ad absurdum, ad hominem, and false analogy work especially well). The Church’s stance on this one issue is obviously (a radical conspiracy by old white men / inspired by some conservative politician my friends and I don’t like / based on decades if not centuries of doctrinal precedent).

Now that the Church has thrust us into a dark age we will have just have to hunker down and patiently (wait for change / pray for our leaders’ enlightenment / waste time showing off online / ).

Hopefully I’ll never have to write anything negative about the Church again. (NOTE: when posting this in future years, remember to use updated references to whichever Church leader / social conservative / Republican politician is being called stupid by the media at that time. You don’t want your rants to start sounding predictable!)

24 thoughts on “A helpful template for progressive Mormons to help them respond to the latest news

  1. Huston, I hate to be the one to point this out, but this template has already been in use for years!

    I will provide a helpful template for people who dislike this post.

    “Dear Huston,

    I’m sure (you mean well / are a nice guy / have a good barber) but you couldn’t be more of a (racist / homophobia / bigot) and you should stop being so judgmental, you arrogant (mansplainer / sheep / apologist). If you don’t have anything nice to say, you should just (shut up / become a member of the OW Board / kill youself). The blood of dead teenagers are on your hands.”

  2. While I am very suspicious of such public articulations of feelings which are very much aimed at moral legislation after the model of participatory democracy, there is, however, an element within Mormonism take insists that feelings ought to guide our actions. Sometimes I worry that TBM’s don’t make room for people being legitimately led by feelings that we do not share.

  3. Hmm. As a socially conservative, “orthodox” member who has expended a lot of energy defending the church’s position on marriage and family issues, I think this post is a little too dismissive, even for the satire that it is. (I’ve been guilty of the same thing.) I have to admit, I was caught off guard myself by the new policy on children whose parents are in same-sex relationships. I sustain it, and I’m beginning to see the wisdom in it, but I wouldn’t want people to think I believe it’s easily understood or painlessly applied.

    While I’m sure certain people have played up their sadness in the “service of vanity” at times, it’s going too far to characterize a generic progressive Mormon as faking it for their ego’s sake (even taking into account that you’re exaggerating for humor). We don’t have to suspend much disbelief to think that people could actually feel sad about things like a child not being able to be baptized. We can take time just to sympathize with them without making church policy or church leaders into an enemy.

    I sustain the apostles, I love our doctrine on the family, and I hope to be a help to anyone who needs it.

  4. Huston, I hate to say it, but this template was leaked to progressive Mormons years ago and has been in constant use since then. I am pretty sure it was leaked by a BCC blogger to John Dehlin.

    Some commenters clearly need to go rent a sense of humor.

  5. Jeff G, what do you mean when you are referring to people being “legitimately led” within this context? Are you suggesting that those who are claiming that the recent action is “not of God” (to quote at least one online commenter on a left-leaning LDS blog) may be inspired by the Holy Ghost to feel that way? I’m just trying to understand where you’re coming from here… Personally, I think it is objectively impossible for the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, unitedly, to institute an administrative change to the Church *and* for the Holy Ghost to inspire a rank-and-file member that such an action is “not of God”. If so, we’ve got bigger problems than minor children of people in a same-sex marriage not being able to be baptized.

  6. Regardless of one’s struggles, Elder Holland and other GAs have recently told us to discuss issues like this with compassion and consideration. I do not think we need to inflame the issues that some members struggle with. Instead, we need to invite them to patiently believe in the things coming from the prophets.

    Millennial Star is better than this. This is a form of ad hominem, and is below our normal standards. Mocking is what the great and spacious building does, not what those at the Tree of Life do.

    On behalf of my progressive friends, I apologize for this cheap sniping. I hope that the M* editors will not allow such postings again from “guests”.

  7. Once upon a time I was not entirely sure about the whole obedience to Church authority thing. My husband was a bit sympathetic with me on that point. This would have been in the 1990s.

    We were assigned to talk one Sunday about heeding the counsel of the brethren. I emoted about what I planned to say. The talk involved lots of stories regarding people who didn’t listen to authority and subsequently ended up having interactions with fecal matter. Literally.

    My husband’s talk was focused on the history of authority and deference to ecclesiastical figures going back to the early Christian fathers.

    The morning, minutes before we went to Church, we found our daughter had a very high temperature. We discussed which of us should take her to the doctor and which should go to Church and give both talks.

    I wish I knew exactly which day those talks were scheduled, because in hind sight, I believe I would be able to say that was the day my daughter’s autism was “precipitated.”

    At any rate, the opportunity to focus on why it is good to heed the counsel of the brethren was very good for us. Having an autistic daughter, for me, was possibly the salvation of my soul.

    I was a beloved child of God even when I used to have doubts. Thinking back to then, I’m not sure I would entirely have appreciated the tenor of this post. However, since then God has immersed me in a metaphorical pile of fecal matter and I now “get it.” So I am not as concerned about folks who might be offended by this post as much as I worry about what metaphorical pile of feces God will use to bring them home to Him.

  8. Observer,

    “Personally, I think it is objectively impossible for the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, unitedly, to institute an administrative change to the Church *and* for the Holy Ghost to inspire a rank-and-file member that such an action is “not of God”.”

    This is exactly what I’m denying. If somebody disagrees with a leader they are supposed to go to a higher leader. And what higher leader is there than God?. We have absolutely zero authority to tell others what God meant when he talked to them.

  9. I am going to take the time to respond publicly to my friend Rameumpton’s comment above. First of all, I respect Rameumpton and think he has made great contributions to M*. But I must disagree with him on this issue. As Meg implies in the comment above (if I am reading her correctly), the real question is NOT how offended progressive Mormons are right now about the Church’s policies. The real question is: how many progressive Mormons (and others with concerns — I realize they are not all progressives) will realize they are actively fighting against the Church of God? How many will come home to the Lord? How many will overcome their overwrought emotionalism and recognize that the Brethren are literally incapable of leading the Church in the wrong direction? So, if the Brethren are incapable of leading the Church in the wrong direction, then it must be true that people opposed to the Church’s policies are heading in the wrong direction. And the sooner they turn back to the Lord, the better for them. You don’t truly mourn with people who mourn by encouraging them to do the wrong thing. You mourn with people who mourn by helping turn them in the right direction. So, if one or two people can read this satire and say to themselves, “wow, it is true that a lot of people seem to have a programmed negative response to whatever the Church says,” then some good may come of it.

    And it also may be that a few people have gotten a chuckle out of this satire. It has gotten a lot of “likes” so far.

  10. I love being a woman. I think women are particularly inspired to reach out to individuals, particularly children. That is probably why God gave leadership of the Church into the hands of men. I doubt most women would have been able to formulate this policy if they were caught up in the idea of individuals who might be hurt.
    I believe most men are able to focus more on the needs of the social entity such as the family and the Church while still feeling compassion for those who are injured by the choices others make.

  11. I have to agree with rameumptom. This piece comes across as snarky and mean-spirited.

    The issue isn’t whether the portrayed issue is true or not. Just as Elder Oaks said that evil speaking isn’t OK if the criticism is true, similarly this type of mocking is not OK just because it may be true. It is supposed to be the great and spacious building that is full of mocking and laughter, it should not be the model that is used for the saints.

  12. Thanks rameumptom, I submitted a comment (which does not appear) with a similar conclusion quoting a scripture and President Monson, very nice to see the point publicly made.

  13. Awesome post Huston! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face while I sadly have to sit here and work on this fine Sunday night.

  14. I think you are assuming facts not yet in evidence. Who says only “progressive” Mormons are disturbed by the church’s position on SSM and children? I know plenty of people who would be considered iron rod Mormons, middle-of-the-road Mormons, conservative Mormons or whatever you want to call them who are disturbed by what the church has done. Unless you have clear evidence in your hands, please don’t muddy the waters here by making stuff up. It does not help anyone as we try to understand what is going on.

  15. Jeff G., how can that possibly be? For the First Presidency and Twelve to, unitedly, take a position on a subject as important as this, while a rank-and-file member can receive their own inspiration that such a position is “not of God” is to suggest that there is no objective truth. One of them – either the prophets, seers and revelators, or their critics – are in error. Are you advocating the position that the Lord can lead His prophets one way, while revealing to someone else that such leadership is not of Him? How can there be any reliable measuring stick, otherwise? This issue was at the very heart of what led Joseph Smith into the Sacred Grove. My own view is that anyone claiming inspiration or revelation that this policy does not represent the Lord’s will is being deceived.

  16. I suggest that there is a difference between personal revelation that provides a seemingly surprising approach in light of Church policy and personal revelation that persuades an individual that the Church is not God’s vehicle for salvation.

    The Book of Mormon gives us the example of the brother of Jared, who questioned the Lord’s wisdom in making the people travel across the sea in darkness. He humbly went to the Lord with a proposed solution.

    The Book of Mormon also gives us the example of several apostates, such as Nehor, who confessed that they had been led astray, who had taught that the Church itself was wrong and that people ought to leave the Church.

    So a question one might ask is if someone who questions is a Nehor or a Brother of Jared. Do they fundamentally question the validity of the Church, or are they questioning implementation, complete with humble suggestions for how the implementation could be improved?

  17. I think Meg makes a valid point. But notice her use of the words “humble.” Notice that the correct process involves humble supplication and long-suffering with an ultimate willingness to be obedient to the Lord and His servants.

    We have gotten many comments on M* from people who clearly have not be involved in humble supplication but want to direct the Lord’s servants based on their worldly feelings and emotions. Some of these comments have been deleted because they encourage people to disobey modern-day prophets, and this is against M*’s comment policy.

    So, a new Church policy or revelation takes place that is surprising and difficult to understand. The correct process is: go to the Lord in humble supplication with a willingness to bend your own desires to the Lord’s will and a willingness to follow the guidance of modern-day prophets. The incorrect process is: “I will not accept this because it contradicts my personal understanding of how the Church should operate in 2015.” (I would also throw in the reality that some people oppose the policy based on quotations from more than 100 years ago. Modern-day prophets’ statements always trump seeming contradictions from the past).

  18. Yup, more than once I have gone to the Lord with my proposed path or solution and basically just asked him to validate it for me, rather than humbly ask Him to reveal his path or solution. It generally has not worked out as well as I had thought it should. But, I still find myself doing it at times. Hopefully I will not have to learn the lesson too many more times for it to stick.

  19. Jeff G.: “If somebody disagrees with a leader they are supposed to go to a higher leader. And what higher leader is there than God?. We have absolutely zero authority to tell others what God meant when he talked to them.”

    Yes. And they have no authority to tell us what the Lord means when He speaks to the brethren.

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