“Two men went up onto the Bloggernacle to post, one a Progressive and the other a person with conservative views. The Progressive stood and was posting thus:: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other Mormons: sexist, homophobic, racist, or even like this person with conservative views. and don’t you dare say I’m not a good Mormon, since I fast (sometimes) and I pay tithes of all that I get (based on my idiosyncratic definition of tithing).’  But the person with conservative views just posted silly rewrites of NT parables and then moved on with life.

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About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was over 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has six kids and four stepkids.

85 thoughts on “Updated

  1. But behold, the Liberals were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and revised the history, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

  2. Wherefore, the Lord sent the Mormon liberals prophets and apostles, and they preached the word of God to them with much plainness, but the liberals strained at the teachings, finding reasons to doubt. The Mormon liberals loved the world more than they loved God. So the words of the prophets became a stumbling block to the Mormon liberals, and they kicked against the pricks, only hurting themselves. But some Mormon liberals repented and were welcomed back into the Church with open arms. Others disappeared into the mists of darkness and became lost, traveling on strange paths where they fell into filthy waters. And many people mourned because of the hard hearts and stiff necks of the Mormon liberals.

  3. Just in case my opinion on this is not clear, there is a big difference between a Mormon liberal who goes to Church regularly, goes to the temple and disagrees on a few things the Church teaches and a follower of some of the people who have recently been excommunicated by the Church. My comment is aimed at the latter group, not the former.

  4. 12 Now, when they had come into the [liberal bloggernacle], behold, to their astonishment they found that the [Dehlinites] had built [various websites and blogs], … and they did [preach and reason] after a manner which [the faithful members of the Church] had never beheld;

    13 For they had a place built up in the center of their [websites], a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person [for all dissenting opinions were moderated out of existence and mocked].

    14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:

    15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, [and that thou art neither male nor female, nor knowable, but just part of some Divine of some sort or other].

    16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren [which we do derisively refer to as TBM’s]; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness [and the bigotry and misogyny and prejudice] of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children [because we are so enlightened by the philosophies taught in our women’s studies classes]; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ [or rather, that there really wasn’t any need for an atonement because a perfect loving God, as we know you are, can never condemn or even criticize any of Her children for the things we do, and nothing is ever wrong].

    17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved [because we are so much smarter and enlightened], whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell [because of their patriarchy and bigotry]; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren [who follow Pres. Monson and those archfiends Boyd K Packer and David A. Bednar], which doth bind them down to a belief of [whatever it is that they believe, which we will misrepresent and take out of context do to malice or a general lack of understanding ourselves, who can tell?], which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

    18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

  5. There you go again. I am glad that you cleared up that if doesn’t apply, it doesn’t apply, but the sense is still polemical and divisive, as if there were only two kinds of Mormons, the Bensonites and the Dehlinites. I’m a progressive, but I loath what John Dehlin has done, and the following he has created. I’m a historian, but dumped my association with one online Mormon History group over the ridicule directed towards the seerstone announcement. I serve faithfully in my callings, and still have room to question things that are as yet unanswered. Grant Hardy’s “Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide” did more to solidify my testimony of that book than anything else in the last decade.

    The reality of the Mormon religion and experience is that we each individually experience God and his work in the restoration as we are each best suited to our own, uncreated individual spirits, while still communing with our fellow saints of all sorts of different persuasions, in an effort to become more Godlike. I can in no way define your path any more than you can define mine. The similarities we share far outweigh the differences, I suspect, but we are all prone to look at the differences first. Human nature, I guess. So in my case, I don’t think it applies, but I have this nagging suspicion that you might look at me and think it does.

  6. Well, kevinf – I have had plenty of liberal/progressive Mormons, permabloggers at T&S and BCC, for example, flat out tell me they see me and the M* crew as bigots, so I don’t need any nagging suspicions on this end about how I’m viewed.

  7. And of course, I don’t get to define anyone’s path, but the path is defined by God, and he’s declared it to be strait and narrow, whereas your formulation implies something a bit broader.

  8. People I like tell me they roll their eyes when the see me repeat my refrain that I love all and trust I have loved them for all eternity.

    But it’s true. John, Kate, all their followers, all the others, I love them. And of course I also love all those who are not following folks like John and Kate off the edge of a precipice of unbelief.

    Mostly I love the two lovely women who chatted with me this morning when I was waiting for the bus with my autistic daughter on the second day of school. One had told the bus driver yesterday where we were waiting (we were at the wrong corner) and the other talked about how well things had gone when her own daughter had attended the vocational school my daughter is starting this year. And then the second lady offered to assist anytime we need help.

    Does anyone remember that embarrassing filmstrip of ages yore, where a young kid runs around introducing himself to all the neighbors and telling them he’s Mormon? I think it was called “All Because of Robbie” or something. My daughter doesn’t necessarily tell everyone that she’s Mormon, but she has been aggressively friendly in a manner that embarrassed me in times past. But this week I started to see how many people in our neighborhood know her and love her and smile and wave back at her.

    Back to the OP, it is hard when interacting with folks on the internet who wish to tear down ones beliefs using unfair and disrespectful tactics under the pretense of free speech. But as expressed in Ionesco’s Rhinosceros, it is possible to react in a manner that renders one as offensive as that evil that was being fought.

    I was commenting over at T&S saying that what I read in the comments reminded me of what I had read in the Expositor, the 1844 newspaper whose editors actively participated in conspiring to kill Joseph Smith. The thing is that these folks don’t appear to realize the danger they are courting, much less the corrosive effect their words are having on brothers and sisters they will never even know have read their words. They would like to presume that they are mere innocent rubes, with reasonable doubts, without realizing the responsibility they have (and will bear if the God Mormons worship is the God who will stand as their judge).

    I know this is TLDR, but aren’t I always?

  9. Kevinf, I look forward to your next comment on TandS or BCC telling permabloggers and commenters to stop being so polemical and divisive when discussing “conservative ” Mormons. There is a Kevinf on those blogs (perhaps it isn’t you) who cheers on some of the most divisive stuff.

  10. I admit I laughed when I read this and then felt a little bit like Kevinf as the comments piled on. I don’t like it when the progressives get similarly aggressive when they make their points, and I suspect any of them reading this did exactly what I do when I read something of theirs with a similar tone — quit reading. In other words, it is divisive. But, they’ve made some good points this way — it’s not just name calling. If they’re fair, they’ll realize this isn’t just name calling either.

  11. Meg,

    “It All Started With Thad.”

    With Gordon Jump.

    Yeah, that one was kind of hard to forget.

  12. GeoffB, same kevinf. Yes, I have been guilty of some of those same divisive comments. I have found, though, that it gets me nowhere fast, and BCC sometimes gets to be just as much an echo chamber on the other side. I really am trying to temper my immediate reactions, and trying to emphasize the commonalities, rather than the differences. I do check in here from time to time, mostly to make sure that I am not always getting the same perspective all the time. Don’t ban me, and I promise to try really hard to behave. Besides, most of my wife’s family would fall on your end of the spectrum, and I still love them. All that said, I still feel the adapting of the scriptural passages here, while clever, doesn’t go very far to dispel the perceptions of M* by some of those folks on the BCC side.

  13. And Ivan, when I talk about individual paths, as best suited to each of us, I am echoing Neal Maxwell’s comment that if there is a plan for all humankind, then it is not a stretch to understand that there is an individual plan for each of us, as well. The atonement makes allowances for differences in our circumstances, as no two of us are dealt the same hand in this mortal experience.

  14. OK kevinf, well said. We are all guilty of saying and writing things we shouldn’t say or write. I agree with you that it is better to emphasize commonalities. We have a nice group of liberals/progressives who comment here without resorting to personal attacks, and they add nicely to the conversation. I would love for you to be one of those people.

    I am friends with several people from T&S and BCC, but many others simply are never going to be friendly to me or others at M*. For my part, there are no hard feelings. I don’t hate or even dislike anybody, but I do tend to avoid people who are contentious because life is too short to spend your time arguing with people who simply are not going to see things from your point of view. In addition, the written medium is complicated because people will often write things on a public forum that they would never, ever say to your face. Now having said all that, I don’t think you should expect M* to change significantly in how it approaches issues, and every once in a while we will send a jab towards the liberal bloggernacle. I don’t think that will ever change unless the liberal bloggernacle changes. And, very sad to say, there will be more Dehlinites and Kellyites and OWites as time goes on, and I, for one, will be criticizing them occasionally.

    So, please come and comment and read the posts, but don’t expect us to worry about how people at BCC see us, because many of us are very, very far past caring about that.

  15. Progressives and Traditionalists have fundamentally different views on what it means to live the Gospel. Not surprisingly both groups think they are correct. Also not surprisingly they both are astounded that the other group can’t see the errors which are so obvious to them. Both however value “being” LDS. And luckily neither group gets to judge the other in the final judgment. In the short run there seems to be no shortage of people in either group who are willing to judge.

  16. For me, a member who doesn’t identify as part of either or these two groups, this post and many of the comments sound an awful lot like playground-style taunting and teasing. One might be tempted to throw out a “grow up”, but who am I to judge?

  17. who am I to judge?

    You are Steve S, of course.

    Actually, refraining from judgement in order to become effective is going to be part of my next post about Therapy for Spiritual Death. Then there is D&C 64, where God Himself tells us not to judge.

    “It All Started with Thad” – that was interesting in its day. I personally prefer the story of Paul Pieper, who was in Kazakhstan as part of his job (prior to being a general authority and after being in my ward). There were two Mormon families in the entire country and he asked for the Church to send all the information for people in the country who had expressed interest in some aspect of the Church. There were ten of them. As Paul (and others?) reached out, all ten chose to join the Church. And it turned out that this was enough members for the Church to formally request legal standing in Kazakhstan. So they submitted the paperwork.

    Meanwhile, the other family (a young couple with a baby) were far away in another city. They didn’t have work, and they had no one in their city who could help them. Paul and others reached out, asking the young family to move to the capital city, where they could be helped. But the family refused, saying they felt strongly that they needed to stay where they were.

    Far sooner than anticipated, the government called about the legal application for standing. When Paul talked with the official, the official asked, “So, are all your members here in the capital?” With a sinking heart, Paul admitted that one family lived in a city on the other side of Kazakhstan. And waited.

    The official considered for a moment, then spoke. “If all your members lived in the capital, then the legal status would only apply to the capital. But as you have members in other parts of the country, the legal status will extend to the entire country.”

    Thus did one young family, by refusing to join the majority, extend blessings to an entire country.

    In a similar way, individuals from different ideologies who all embrace God can extend the blessings of the gospel to the entire world.

    It is when individuals abandon God and attack the diverse body of Christ that we ought properly send up our guard.

    Kate and John have asserted that they were acting as a doctor might, to heal the body of Christ. But a true doctor stops jabbing you with a needle at some point, which neither Kate nor John did. And then there is D&C 28 to consider, which I don’t think Kate and John considered germane to them.

  18. Not to get too bogged down in the cultural fight, but can anyone give me the scoop on “gross vs. net” when it comes to tithing? I ask because, for a typical W-2 employee, there is no such thing as “net.” There is only “income”, as reflected on the W-2. If you’re a sole proprietor, then you would have “gross receipts” (see Schedule C) and then a “net” after deducting expenses to run your business. I’ve been a member a long time, small talked with a number of bishops and stake presidents, and not one of them, though sticking to the First Presidency letter on tithing being paid on income, has ever said they pay on anything but what I would consider their income – Form 1040, line 22 “total income.” I’ve paid that way all my adult life. Can some one more enlightened than me explain what other kind of “income” we’re talking about?

  19. IDIAT – in the end, whether it’s gross vs. net, I think the important thing is that tithing is paid first – that shows commitment to the church. My jab about tithing in the OP is due to several posts and comments (though not too recently) in the liberal wing of the ‘Nacle about how tithing shouldn’t be a sacrifice, and it’s okay to pay tithing on what’s leftover after you’ve paid everything else, and if you feel you can’t afford to pay tithing, well that’s okay too.

  20. IDIAT, I asked my bishop about this once because I had (at the time) a very complex business situation and certainly could not pay based on gross revenues. His answer was: “The guideline is 10 percent. Pray about what that means for you.” I have felt good about how much I pay in tithing, even though it is never 10 percent of gross.

    My feeling is that what is important is your attitude towards tithing. Do you see it as a burden or as an opportunity for service, helping build the kingdom of God and a way of demonstrating faith? It seems to me that Ivan’s comment is aimed at the people who become Pharisees about tithing. And there have been some examples of that in the liberal Bloggernacle over the years.

  21. Geoff – if you mean “gross” as in gross receipts, I’m with you. This is how I explain things to the youth. Suppose you sell widgets for $1 each. You sell 100 of them, so your gross receipts are $100. However, your cost to purchase those widgets (or produce them) is $0.95 each. So, at the end of the day, you brought in $100, but you paid out $95 in costs, leaving you a net profit of $5.00. You would pay tithing on the $5 profit. Otherwise, if you paid on the $100 gross profit, or $10, you would actually lose money. I know the example is simplistic, but it makes sense to the youth. I once commented: What “income” would you put down if you were filling out a loan application? Your IRS “total income” or the “net” after paying taxes and household bills? Why would someone want to make themselves seem to have plenty of money when it comes time to obtaining a loan, but make themselves appear poor when it comes time to pay tithing to God? When it’s all said and done, it is all about where — and what — we consider to be our treasure.

  22. Was I riffing on Frank Herbert?

    On tithing, my husband and I have some tension on this point. I tell him I would like us to pay on everything I make (I’m a salaried worker). Thus I would pay on the net that goes into my bank account as well as taxes and retirement contributions, etc.

    My husband argues that we shouldn’t pay on retirement contributions until such time as we receive the retirement income. Which I understand, except that the performance of the markets themselves and how my retirement funds are invested in them are the closest thing to crop yields and the grace of God that occurs in my financial life. So I’m always nervous subtracting that from my “gross” when tallying whether or not my tithe was “full” at the end of the year.

  23. in the end, whether it’s gross vs. net, I think the important thing is that tithing is paid first – that shows commitment to the church

    In the JST for Romans 13:6-7, we’re taught to pay our other obligations first, and then to pay tithing.

  24. JST

    6 For, for this cause pay ye your consecrations also unto them; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    7 But first, render to all their dues, according to custom, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, that your consecrations may be done in fear of him to whom fear belongs, and in honor of him to whom honor belongs.


    6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    Of course, in Joseph’s time, new converts would tithe a tenth of all their property. So do we really want to revert to those times?

    Also, I’m not sure that the reading is as black and white as all that. Nowhere in the JST verse does it unequivocably clarify that the one first to be paid is other than God.

    There are also the “will a man rob God?” verses:

    Malachi 3:8

    8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

    3 Nephi 24:8

    8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say: Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

  25. ji –
    I see nothing of what you claim in that verse. This is like (as Geoff said) the Pharisaical notion you don’t have to support your parents if you have decided to consecrate something to God at some indefinite time in the future; your reading is very strained and doesn’t seem to have any support from the leaders of the church. Heck, let’s go as far as this older quote:

    Joseph L. Wirthlin, a former Presiding Bishop of the Church: “The very word itself denotes one-tenth. A tithe is one-tenth of the wage earner’s full income. A tithe is one-tenth of the professional man’s net income. A tithe is one-tenth of the farmer’s net income, and also one-tenth of the produce used by the farmer to sustain his family which is a just and equitable requirement, as others purchase out of their income such food as is needed to provide for their families. A tithe is one-tenth of the dividends derived from investments. A tithe is one-tenth of net insurance income less premiums if tithing has been paid on the premiums.” (Conference Report, April 1953, p. 98.)

    But the official, and still oft quoted statement is this: tithing is “‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income.” The First Presidency has said, “No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970).

    Nothing in there about “income after all the other stuff has been paid for.”

  26. Wow! I make a simple comment, and now I’m a robber of God and a Pharisee?

    I think the JST has good advice, and that the “but first” has to have some meaning — but “but first” does not mean “instead of” as Meg and Ivan seem to suggest.

    What does “but first” mean?

  27. “but first, render to all their dues” – perhaps “God” is among those included in “all.”

    “now I’m a robber of God and a Pharisee” – you said it, not me. At most, I said it was like a Pharisaical notion, but that hardly makes one a Pharisee.

    I just find that those who say pay all the other stuff first, then pay God tend to 1) be less dedicated to the church overall anyway, and 2) admit they rarely pay much tithing.

  28. Is this post and its comments to lampoon Dehlin, or to lampoon BCC, T&S, and other bloggernacle mainstays…. Because if you don’t notice that there’s definitely a difference between these, then that is noteworthy on its own.

  29. Hi Andrew,

    I presume Ivan put this forward as a pithy commentary against a progressive straw man he has assembled from exposure to the often loosely attributed self-stylings of some noisy voices on sites that to M* readers seemed to be more sympathetic to Dehlin than we felt seemly.

    For my part, I have merely noted that there appears to be a segment of the Church population that is like the ablative coating on the space shuttle – liable to become removed from the core when things get hot. For my part, the ablative members of the Church are of many types. But it does seem that a certain segment of the disaffected makes a lot more Internet noise about their discontent.

    For those who are progressives but not inclined to leave God and His Church, Ivan’s comment would seem to attack them in their faithful walk, attributing to them a sloppiness of adherence to covenant expectations that they do not reflect.
    On the other hand, if there is someone who does not tithe and does not fast and does not uphold the Church as God’s instrument for the salvation of mankind, then perhaps Ivan’s pithy commentary is more apt than not.

    Ivan has apparently had bad experiences being mistreated on other blog sites.

    For myself, I have been maligned on exmo sites, and it was apparently so egregious that one exmo came here to M* to apologize on behalf of the most outspoken fellow. But since I don’t read these other sites, I wasn’t as invested in the mistreatment as I might have been.

  30. Meg, here’s another factor that I see.

    Liberals are perpetually frustrated by a conservative church that doesn’t align with their new-found values influenced by modernity. (Clearly issues of homosexuality, gender, transgender, etc. were non-issues 100 years ago, it’s only because society at large made it an issue that liberals in the church are mirroring that)

    Conservatives are increasingly weary and growing frustrated from defending the church and positions for years in the face of being called a bigot, but willing to endure it out of a combination of a belief in the true position of the church and loyalty.

    Occasionally, and increasingly the church throws bones to the liberal group, which causes the some at the margins in the conservative group to start to wonder why they should show any loyalty at all, if the policy will just be changed and prior leadership quietly laid to rest under the bus.

    In the church-member marriage covenant analogy that was recently blogged about elsewhere – liberals have often been flirting with other women, occasionally even cheating and are upset when the church looks down on their unfaithfulness as it says something negative about them. Conservatives, meanwhile, have tried to be very faithful only to find that the church has been increasingly neglecting their needs.

  31. “Ivan has apparently had bad experiences being mistreated on other blog sites.”
    Andrew S. –
    I think it’s more telling you think I don’t see a difference. Of course there’s a difference between them all, and a lot depends on which bloggers, not just the sites as a whole. There are several good bloggers at both BCC and T&S (for example) that keep me checking those sites (though BCC less and less, due to their hypocrisy over comment moderation among other things). However, in many cases, the difference is of degree, not kind, and there have been plenty of expressions of sympathy and support for Dehlin, Kelly, etc. at both sites (and other sites), and too much snark and accusations of bigotry as well.

    Meg –
    It’s a bit more than that – I’ve been personally (to my face) insulted, lost people I thought were friends, and likely lost employment opportunities (I can give more details on that if pressed) due to accusations of bigotry by people at other ‘Nacle blogs.

    I used to try to get along and engage in fruitful if heated debate, but frankly, I’ve given up. You can only take so much abuse before you realize many on the other side really aren’t interested in dialogue, no matter how much they say they are.

    I’m grateful for the few people like Meg and Clark Goble and others who seem to be able to rise above the pettiness and still somehow make conversation work, but I was pushed past my breaking point, and now I don’t care what they think (since they pretty much consider me a bigot merely for being an orthodox Mormon).

  32. Meg, Ivan,

    For whatever it’s worth, I don’t dispute that the BCC/T&S/Bloggernacle crowds and the Dehlinite crowds can both be cruel, mean, or mocking. But I was just noting that they nevertheless are not similar or congruent theologically.

    like, when you say:

    However, in many cases, the difference is of degree, not kind, and there have been plenty of expressions of sympathy and support for Dehlin, Kelly, etc. at both sites (and other sites), and too much snark and accusations of bigotry as well.

    Historically, many/most BCC permas have been very skeptical or critical of Dehlin. There have historically been big divides there. So, to collapse the difference to being of degree rather than kind is exactly what I find to be noteworthy. Like, you say that you still see a difference, but if you don’t see that the difference is in kind…then my point still stands.

    (On the bigotry issue…I think that’s just the different sides framing a real difference in perspectives in charged terms. I mean, you may disagree with the connotations of bigotry, but suppose someone takes the position that God’s ways are not constrained to the liberal/progressive’s moral concepts — wouldn’t it be possible under such a model that God/the church/etc., could operate in a way that would be interpreted under the modern liberal/progressive framework as being “bigotry”? I mean, at some point, if someone says that they think God is clear on homosexuality being a sin, on women not having the priesthood being the appropriate course of action for the church, etc., etc., then that does represent an appreciable difference in perspective from a lot of our modern egalitarian rhetoric. If someone reserves the right to call liberal/progressive members as being faithless because they engage modern egalitarian rhetoric with their religious practice in discourse, then those liberal/progressive members are just engaging in fair play to call the conservative/traditional members’ faith bigoted because they do not.

  33. “If someone reserves the right to call liberal/progressive members as being faithless”
    there’s your problem. I’m not calling them faithless. I have never called any specific person as faithless, apostate, etc. Yet they have felt no qualms about calling me, specifically, out as a bigot.

    Same goes for others here at M*. With one exception, the bloggers here rarely (if ever) call specific bloggers by name out as apostate, etc. – yet the reverse happens quite often.

    There’s no real moral equivalence here. And accusations of bigotry have real world effects (people can lose jobs and friends), whereas accusations of apostasy are pointless, because God makes that ultimate decision, so even a loss of church membership won’t result in a loss of salvation if the accusation of apostasy is false.

  34. The problem is that some people will always see truth as too divisive. I think people use the term “divisive” as synonymous with “bad”, but that’s not really consistent with the scriptures. The prophets are always getting in trouble that way. I think of the priests of Noah trying to accuse Abinadi of divisiveness by using “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good;” Abinadi’s response is excellent. And happily his ‘divisiveness’ separated Alma out from the crowd of unified wickedness.

  35. Ivan,

    But by comparing BCC, T&S, etc., etc., with Dehlinites (where the fracture lines is that the former absolutely does see the latter as having suspect faith), it is implying that they are on a similar trajectory as the Dehlinites.

    I think that your post noting the dissimilarities between the two misses a few things:

    For example, you write:

    In fact, I think the accusations of bigotry are objectively worse because they can destroy lives, whereas accusations of apostasy are at best (outside of certain rarefied instances) annoyances.

    I don’t think that this makes accusations of bigotry *objectively* worse. Rather, this sort of statement highlights several things about the sort of society that we live in. In today’s society, accusations of bigotry have more impact than accusations of apostasy. Why is that?

    Because the greater society typically follows liberal/progressive values that do not appreciate bigotry, but the greater society typically does *not* prize faith as much (so claims of apostasy are, in a secular context, not a big deal).

    But if part of your religious discourse is that greater society is wayward and sinful, then being at odds with that society should not be problematic.

    And if part of your religious discourse is to maintain alignment with your religious tradition (as is true of liberal/progressive Mormons but not necessarily so much with Dehlinites), then claims of apostasy are a big deal.

    I think that claims of apostasy are a big deal. We do live in an era where publishing in certain venues will preclude one’s employment at BYU, where publishings online are collected by certain sites and sent to various local leaders to form cases against people.

    When we talk about the comparative harm of claims of bigotry vs claims of apostasy, that is getting at the competing value systems of competing worldviews. Yes, secular society is bigger, so yes, the total impact of a claim of bigotry will often affect people in more places than the impact of a claim of apostasy. But if part of your religious narrative is that “greater society gets things wrong,” then this alienation should not be that big of a deal.

  36. I also believe I answered most of Andrew’s objections in the post I linked to. If Andrew doesn’t agree, that’s fine, but I’ve already laid my case out there and I don’t want to repeat it here.

  37. Speaking as the fellow who first brought up the term “Dehlinite” in this discussion, I never equated the BCC or T&S crowds with Dehlinites and I don’t think Ivan did in the original post. I do think a fair case can be made that certain permabloggers at BCC and T&S are on the same trajectory as Mr Dehlin, despite some criticisms of Mr. Dehlin in the past. After all, I think Mr. Dehlin (circa 2000) would have plenty of criticisms of Mr. Dehlin (circa 2015). Perhaps if Mr. Dehlin (circa 2000) could have seen where his path would lead, he would have changed it. Unfortunately for most of us, we rarely get visits from the Ghost of Christmas future and only have scriptures, prophets and apostles to warn us against the pitfalls that lead to apostasy.

    Why else would Korihor be included in the Book of Mormon, and why else would it be so on point? As the time honored maxim states, “if the shoe fits …”

    Having said that, I can understand how someone who feels like they are part of the Church would find it objectionable to have their ideas and sentiments compared to famous apostates, past or present. I imagine their concern at such a comparison would be in the range of my concern at such people trying to pass themselves off as “believing” members of the Church while actively preaching and publishing against the Church and its doctrines to audiences that may not know better.

  38. “In fact, I think the accusations of bigotry are objectively worse because they can destroy lives, whereas accusations of apostasy are at best (outside of certain rarefied instances) annoyances.”

    You must not live in Utah.

  39. It is still significant that this post does not call out anybody in the liberal bloggernacle by name, but yet it gets under the skin of liberal bloggernaclites in a way that appears to be very telling. I can think of, off the top of my head, dozens of liberal Mormons whom I know personally for whom this post and the subsequent comments clearly do not apply. So, why don’t people like Andrew S read this and say, “well, this doesn’t apply to me or the people I know, so no big deal?” But of course that is not what they think. Apparently, they think this hits home and is directly applies to people they know. So, the question becomes: why don’t those people change their behavior to be less divisive and less Pharisaical about Mormon doctrine?

    The other point is that, while Ivan is being rather general in his comments (again, not naming anybody in particular), many liberal Mormons have been direct in criticizing people on this board in the most personal and public way possible. Andrew S may want to address his concerns at such people, who are clearly acting in a hateful and un-Christian manner, rather than the somewhat mild-mannered critics like Ivan.

  40. This is the kind of happening which causes me to reflect on my belief in an omniscient God who, I believe, will in some future day share all with us, along with His opinion regarding what occurred.

    Perhaps in that day I will learn what happened to the awesome knife I took out to the backyard, the loss of which knife is causing great sorrow in my household, like unto the breaking of Nephi’s bow.

    And I imagine in that day we will be embraced for our goodness, no matter how maligned by our fellows. And we will appropriately be made aware of our abuses of our fellows.

    And in that day we will all get to know what was really going on in Nauvoo with Joseph and Emma and the women Joseph covenanted with. And God will explain why He didn’t force David O. McKay to rescind the priesthood ban, and we’ll get to know how the Book of Mormon came forth, and we’ll see the realization of the results of every time society turned their backs on God’s marital mores.

    As for me and my household, we are looking forward to judgement day.

  41. … and Meg, isn’t it true that we will all feel a little bit sheepish about the assumptions and judgments we made against others!

  42. for whatever it’s worth, i only wanted to comment that it seems particularly humorous to link (even implicitly) liberal bloggernacle types with john dehlin. but please continue y’all’s psychoanalysis.

  43. Hey – someone just posted on fb in a publicly viewable post that I am a “jerk” and that liberals “universally banned” on M*.

    News to some commentators here, but pretty much a certain belief in certain circles. And again, I’m not calling anyone out by name, but I am being publicly called out and insulted by name.

  44. Yup, par for the course among liberal Mormons. Immature, thin-skinned, cyber-bullying behavior. And, again, you never called anybody out by name, but of course they call you out by name. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  45. Andrew, I’ll declare a link between some (not all) progressive BCCers/TSers and Dehlin. Actually Joseph Smith said it: (paraphrased from memory) those who rise up [ie, publicly] to criticize the Brethren, saying they are out of the way, while claiming to be correct themselves, are on the high road to apostasy and if they don’t repent, will apostatize.

    According to JS, public criticism of the Brethren was a “sure sign” of _eventual_ apostasy if they did not repent of it.

    JD apostatized many years ago, he just kept it hidden until his local leaders finally realized he had become a wolf in sheep’s clothing. One doesn’t get ex’ed for mere personal apostasy in the LDS church. It is only when one goes public with it, or leads others astray.

    So yes, they (those who publicly criticize the Brethren) _are_ on the same trajectory, imnsho, as JD, perhaps just not quite so far along yet, or perhaps not yet publicly denying the foundational truth claims, or not yet been found to have led members astray. Plus, there are degrees in all those actions, such that small degrees won’t trigger corrective counsel or action from leadership.

    And BTW, Andrew, do you accept/believe the foundational truth claims of the church? You don’t have to answer that, of course.

  46. Bookslinger,

    I do not believe the foundational claims of the church. (So a lot of the comments people are making are don’t because of the assumptions are making) That’s part of why it’s intriguing to me why people compare BCC folks to Dehlin. From your POV, you may not see an appreciable difference (e.g. you may not see a difference in kind). But from my POV, I do.

  47. You know what the Kingdom of God needs? More disparaging, insulting, and inflammatory blog posts where members of the Church attack other members of the Church.

    – Said no spiritually in-tune person ever.

  48. You know what the Kingdom of God needs? Folks with a sense of humor and an absence of hyper-sensitivity. Or perhaps Ivan and others can include helpful trigger warnings?

  49. Oh, and Dan. Meet kettle. The most recent blog post on your blog is entitled “Bruce Hafen is Wrong.” There is nothing insulting, disparaging or inflammatory about that post, now is there?

  50. I disagree with the tone of that post (on Bruce Hafen) as well. If your argument is that I’m an imperfect messenger, I absolutely concede the point. I have not always exemplified the civility that I believe the Lord requires of us in 3 Nephi 11. But we all can do better. This post literally had no other purpose than to make a mock of other people, and no, there is nothing humorous about that. I disagree with much of what is posted on this blog, but I read because I don’t mind being challenged and I appreciate the points of view here. This post is honestly just sad- nobody benefits in any way from it, and it invites contention at a time when the prophets are asking us to model better ways of interacting with those with whom we disagree.

  51. Dan, suggestion: if you don’t like a post, stop reading it and go do something else productive with your time. The Kingdom of God definitely does not need people with beams in their eyes worrying about the motes in other peoples’ eyes.

  52. The post seems to have “struck a nerve” with some people, although it named no names and, to me, was pretty much tongue-in-cheek” in a Dilbert sort of way. By the way, Wally did it again today, Sunday September 13.) But it is hard to see any humor when one suspects that the humor is pointed at himself or herself.

    I suppose that some around the Mormon bloggernacle would refer to me as a TBM to which I have no problem. I expect that at some point in time that label will become pretty much cherished as the word Christian was when it was by the disciples of Christ after it was coined in Antioch (Acts 11:26) and applied to members of the fledgling flock.

    I don’t know that the post helps the dialogue between “liberals” and “conservatives”. But I do know that having a thick skin helps.

    I do think that Bookslinger makes a couple of good points.

    As I read the litany of criticism of church leaders and policies past and present on the bloggernacle, I am reminded of Lehi’s vision of the great and spacious building that was part of the iron rod vision.


  53. We had a massive regional conference today. Apostle Ballard spoke. He addressed the problem of those who follow other voices instead of focusing on the Gospel as preached by living prophets and apostles. I was not surprised to hear a reference to those who some might see as ultra conservative, not content with what they consider mild and tepid warnings from the leadership of the Church, they seek after special more tangible information from those who’ve given firesides and published books about their dreams and visions but who not in the direct line of authority . Cassandra Hedelius gained attention for her presentation about these so-called gnostics the 2015 Fair conference. I was invited to join a Facebook group that features conversations about books by these off-line prophets. All the talk nowadays is about the Shemita, bloodmoons, the end of the world and the need to take refuge in tent cities.
    It helps me to remember that are two sides that edge the straight and narrow path. You are just as off course if you wander off the path no matter what direction you take. What the critics of the OP seem to have ignored is that he also makes fun of his ‘typical’ conservative.

  54. Pat, good point. The opposite side from liberal mormon could be the ultra-scrupulous. Scrupulosity, or overly focusing on “gospel hobbies” can also lead people out of the church. I think Elder Oaks addressed that at a gen conf. And long ago Elder Bruce McConkie spoke about it.

    Btw, here’s the quote I was referring to:

    “That man who rises up to condemn others, 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.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pgs. 56-57)

  55. That I have perpetual hope that people who profess to be members of the Church will recognise that they aren’t being Christlike.

  56. Do you think it is more Christlike to leave intolerant, judgmental comments anonymously on a blog, or would it be more Christlike to simply ignore the posts you disagree with and go on with your day in a happier frame of mind?

    I too have perpetual hope that people who leave judgmental comments on somebody else’s blog will recognize that they aren’t being Christlike.

  57. The comments I have made not been intolerant, though you may have interpreted them otherwise. It’s my hope that all members can be kind to one another and not judge each other based on political or other views. Members are, of course, free to do so, but I feel that it’s not the best look for disciples of Christ.

  58. Whenever people ask what Jesus would do, remind them that overturning tables and whipping people is not out of the question. Jesus often disagreed with people, without silently walking by. Why people think polite disagreement is Christlike is beyond me.

  59. Why were my previous postings not approved? Is this about someone “winning” an argument or getting a last word in?

  60. Laserguy, Jesus is allowed to overturn tables and wield a whip because … well, he’s Jesus. He’s perfect. He has no beam in his own eye, so he can do whatever he wants to pluck out others’ beams or motes.

    None of us are Jesus, obviously. To be “Christlike” in our lives, we don’t imitate the things that Jesus alone has prerogative to do. Rather, we live according to how he commanded us to live. He asked us to love one another and to treat our neighbour as we ourselves would want to be treated. This is what I mean by being Christlike—I don’t think it literally means doing exactly what Jesus himself would do in every situation.

  61. So, being Christlike means not actually being like Christ?

    Christ also said to forsake our families and buy swords.

    Heck, this quote right here from Jesus doesn’t fit your model of Christlike, so I guess Jesus himself wasn’t very Christlike:
    “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

    Too many people picking and choosing – instead of taking Christ as he is, they invent a partial Christ based on what they want other people to do.

    There’s an inherent contradiction in calling others to repentance by telling them to stop calling others to repentance, or being self-righteous about other people’s self-righteousness.

    I called no one out specifically – my method is to state general principles and let people make their own decisions about their own lives. Apparently I struck a nerve, since plenty of people have had no problems specifically calling me out.

  62. “Why were my previous postings not approved? Is this about someone “winning” an argument or getting a last word in?”

    No, nothing like that. I have a life outside the blog and a lot of essays to grade, so I don’t hang out at the site. Other posters than me may or may not approve messages, but at M* we tend to let the author of the post handle the moderation of the specific thread, and not all of us are here all the time.

  63. For what it’s worth, someone I know who happens to visit M* from time to time (and knows I post here) commented to me in person that they didn’t like this particular thread.

    I asked what the individual thought/felt about my comments in this thread, and they indicated they hadn’t really noticed what I said. TLDR (too long, didn’t read), I suppose.

    From time to time, as I google for learning and entertainment, I will chance across some past thread in which I participated. There are times that, if I could travel in time, I would go back and invite myself to chill.

    Along that line, I suspect that some of us, reflecting on this post, might at some later, wiser point in our existence determine that we could have used different and better words.

    Andrew, the rules of moderation on M* are sometimes odd. I got “moderated” when commenting on my own post recently, even though I don’t recall checking the box that indicated all posts should be moderated. And since I do get e-mails for all comments on my own posts that require moderation, I don’t think all comments were being moderated. It’s a great and grand mystery. If one tries, one can get added to the list of automatically moderated commenters. I’m not sure if you’ve tried enough to “earn” such a distinction.

  64. More than X links in a comment are the usual reason a comment gets automatically moderated. X is set by the blog owner somewhere in the blog control panel.

  65. Ivan, I think our interpretations of Christ and what kind of person he calls us to be can be legitimately different. I don’t think it means that either approach is wrong. You may see me as “picking and choosing”, but I think the same suggestion could be made about virtually any characterization of the issue in question. But in response to your question—yes, I would be of the opinion that being “Christlike” sometimes does not involve being exactly like Christ in this mortal life. There are many things that he did and does that I cannot, and some that I have no business doing at all. I can think of many examples (I hesitate to ennumerate—don’t want to make this TLDR).

    I also hope you didn’t think I was specifically “calling you out”. I don’t feel like I called any individual out at all or called anyone to repentance—judging whether anyone needs to repent of anything is certainly none of my business!

    I was just trying to express my viewpoint and perspective. I don’t identify myself as a “conservative” member of a “liberal” or “progressive” member—I guess I’ve never thought of my Church membership in those terms at all—and I thought my perspective could be a useful contribution from someone outside both worlds, as it were.

  66. I’ve enjoyed reading this thread because it has highlighted something that seems to be confused. When God speaks against judgment, we sometimes interpret that to mean people have a right not to be judged. Yet it is one of our solemn obligations to remind others that we all will be judged, and to seek from God to know how to put our lives in order to be ready for that judgment.

    “Don’t Judge” finger-pointing all on it’s own is very hypocritical. But the reminder that we will all be judged, and warnings concerning what types of things will matter in such judgment, gives us the ability at times to say, “Don’t judge”, and at times to speak boldly the truths that will prepare us to stand before God and be judged.

    We must not give people the impression that anyone has the ‘right’ to not be judged, but at the same time, we should be careful that our attempts at righteous temporal and limited judgments do not distract others from their task of readying themselves for God’s judgment.

  67. My favorite living philosopher has a couple good short essays on judging:




    And my favorite dead philosopher, Epictetus, said much about the importance of deciding whether to _emulate_ or _avoid_ the observed behaviors (and to adopt/not-adopt the words/ideas, etc.) of others:


    That _decision_, to emulate an observed behavior or to avoid it, is necessarily a form of judgment of that behavior ( and not necessarily a judgment of the person).

    So whether we verbalize such decisions or not, we are constanly judging what we see, hear and read.

  68. And many of the Mormon conservatives justified their own stances by quoting from the Donald on why they should abhor Hispanics, dismiss women as objects, love bad toupees, and only give ear to the prophets on things they agreed with. They also determined that contention among the Saints was justified if they were contending against Satan’s liberal followers.

  69. Ram, true that saints should not be contentious, and sowing discord among brethren is one of the things that God hates (Prov 6:19).

    Yet I have noticed that accusations of divisiveness and contention, usually made by progressives against conservatives in response to mere disagreement, generally have the air of “How dare you disagree with me!”

    Both sides could use more diplomacy.

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