This weekend the interweb exploded with a post at Mormon Matters entitled Elder Marlin Jensen Apologizes for Proposition 8. In the ensuing discussion there, and in numerous discussions on Facebook, a debate erupted over whether the headline and the conclusions were warranted, or whether it was being spun into something that could be used by advocates for change. (For a good reflection of what actually happened in the meeting, refer to Carol Lynn Pearson’s comment at Mormon Matters, and her published notes of the account here.)
Particularly relevant is that the debate about the tactics used was largely confined to those who share the same values, those who hope to see our Church grow and reconcile some very difficult issues. This was not a debate about whether to talk about Elder Jensen’s words – the account of this meeting is touching and meaningful and should be shared. Rather, it was a debate about tactics. A debate about the use of inflated rhetoric to leverage Elder Jensen’s words to effect change.
Most of those debates are gone now. The threads at Facebook no longer exist, having been deleted mid-day following a fairly critical discussion of the conclusions and subsequent statements by the original author. (They have, however, been replaced with fresh status updates, free of the inconvenient “alternate voices”.) Further, a number of comments on the thread at Mormon Matters, particularly those revealing intent and those pointing out problematic and inflated rhetoric, were deleted or moderated. A striking action considering the author’s stated intent to hold church leaders accountable for their words and to advocate for transparency. It amounts to little more than giving lip-service to open forums and honest debate. And now the impact of this post and its tactics will be long felt, as it is now getting attention on the national scene with a post by Holly Welker at The Huffington Post.
Just a few days prior to this firestorm, Kristine Haglund published an exploration of what is required to effectively examine our Church and doctrines from a critical and dissenting stance. Acknowledging that “dissenting as a Mormon is tricky” due to “doctrinal discouragement and fierce social pressure to refrain from voicing any criticism,” Kristine maps a method of voicing concerns and advocating according to ones’ conscience while still maintaining loyalty for our Church and our people. Citing Mauss’ “Decalogue of Dissent”, she makes it clear that one must be transparent in her motives, her position, and her love if she is to have any hope of being acknowledged – and considered – by fellow Saints.
The use of inflated rhetoric to leverage Elder Jensen’s words to effect change is misguided. Critics, to have any effect, must maintain the respect of those they are trying to influence. Credibility is paramount, and in this case it has been lost. Also lost amidst all of this is the fact that we are one people, that we share a common belief and mission. We don’t do this to our friends.
Sadly, for those who hope for dialogue and healing of the wounds caused by the Church’s involvement in the campaign for Proposition 8, the methods used this weekend have the potential to delay things considerably.
I’m not sure why, after staying out of public forums on Mormonism, I’m so drawn to this one.
Maybe it’s because even as a non-believer, I find Elder Jensen to be the absolute best of Mormonism. What a fine, decent, Christian man. And it’s very likely that his kindness and Christian spirit will be repaid with a private rebuke from church leaders, or at least a caution to speak more circumspectly.
Those who think this is a good way to “hold the church’s feet to the fire” have grossly miscalculated. The end result is that a very good man is being misrepresented by those only interested in wielding his words as a blunt instrument.
From the HP article: Mormons are trained to accept that when a general authority speaks from the pulpit, he (and it is indeed always a he) represents the entire church — and, by extension, God.
Uh, no. The article missed the important issues of stewardship and scope. What a 70 says in California doesn’t necessarily apply to Saints in Texas…
I’ve never met Elder Jensen, but I have heard many firsthand accounts of his kindness and compassion, and I can understand why people who know and respect him are upset when Elder Jensen’s words are taken out of context and publicized online. It makes me uncomfortable, however, to read posts like this one, which gloss over the reasons why Elder Jensen’s remarks were so groundbreaking in the first place. The Church’s rhetoric about homosexuality and its political involvement in Prop 8 causes and caused irreparable harm. Far more harm than any ham-fisted editorializing of Elder Jensen’s remarks.
Dissenters have no credibility within the Church. None. There is literally no space for them to breathe. I loved reading Kristine’s piece and Armand Mauss’s tips for advocating for change within the church, but the dissenter’s responsibility to smile and nod graciously while formulating a neutral response to egregious Sunday School comments about the curse of Cain or the reprehensibility of homosexuality, or to demonstrate a willingness to serve by showing up to every Ward activity or Elders Quorum move is an extremely heavy burden to carry in silence for long.
No doubt publicizing Elder Jensen’s compassionate apology could have been handled better, but don’t blame John Dehlin if we don’t hear from Elder Jensen again. It’s not John’s fault that Church culture/protocol requires that Church leaders who feel sorry for people damaged by the Church’s actions in California give their apologies in secret.
“but the dissenter’s responsibility to smile and nod graciously while formulating a neutral response to egregious Sunday School comments about the curse of Cain or the reprehensibility of homosexuality”
I didn’t and wouldn’t suggest silence in the face of such comments.
but the dissenter’s responsibility to smile and nod graciously while formulating a neutral response to egregious Sunday School comments about the curse of Cain or the reprehensibility of homosexuality, or to demonstrate a willingness to serve by showing up to every Ward activity or Elders Quorum move is an extremely heavy burden to carry in silence for long.
ECS, I think you just avoided the point by changing the subject to Sunday School etc. Indeed, that is an extremely heavy burden you’ve described. However, not misrepresenting Jensen’s words is not a heavy burden.
It’s not John’s fault that Church culture/protocol requires that Church leaders who feel sorry for people damaged by the Church’s actions in California give their apologies in secret.
Didn’t Rory say, “This was not a debate about whether to talk about Elder Jensen’s words – the account of this meeting is touching and meaningful and should be shared.”?
This whole debacle is maddening for the degree to which people who actually largely agree are failing to even see each other’s words on the page (screen).
Kristine – I didn’t mean to imply that you would. Thanks for clarifying. I know I’m being a pest, but can you send me an email so I don’t have to keep leaving incendiary comments on random blog posts in a hope you’ll respond? :)
Nothing is going to happen to Elder Jensen. He didn’t do anything inconsistent with Church official stands. It is being spun as radical, though it was not.
I think it is clear that this was not about spreading the love, but an “in your face” gesture towards the church. While I enjoy such things, they are not effective.
Sister Blah2 – I’m not sure John did misrepresent Elder Jensen’s words to warrant the extent he has been excoriated for doing so. But to the extent John did misrepresent Elder Jensen’s words, I think we should give him (John) the benefit of the doubt. I mean, we’re all on the same team here, as Rory pointed out.
Thanks, Rory. I suspect you’re going to take a beating for this post, but I think you’re right in all points. Good for you.
And some of us are most definitely NOT on the same team with John Dehlin.
“I think it is clear that this was not about spreading the love, but an “in your face” gesture towards the church. While I enjoy such things, they are not effective.”
That wasn’t clear to me. And so what if it was an “in your face” gesture? “In your face” gestures aren’t nice, but I guess I don’t see the need for all the hand wringing and angst over it. It’s like John is being accused of making too many loud, sudden movements and now has scared off anyone who might be so bold as to publicly disagree with the monolithic pronouncements from the pulpit. That ain’t gonna happen.
“It’s not John’s fault that Church culture/protocol requires that Church leaders who feel sorry for people damaged by the Church’s actions in California give their apologies in secret.
Didn’t Rory say, “This was not a debate about whether to talk about Elder Jensen’s words – the account of this meeting is touching and meaningful and should be shared.”?”
One last thing: if John Dehlin hadn’t shared Elder Jensen’s remarks, I doubt any of us would have heard about this. The LDS Newsroom doesn’t post this kind of stuff, I don’t live in the Oakland Stake, I checked the mainstream LDS blogs and no one had posted about it. I’m grateful John brought this to my attention and I’m heartened to know Elder Jensen is ministering to those who are suffering.
“That wasn’t clear to me.”
Follow the FB threads. I am going to get myself de-friended a lot this week, but I do not think Rory or I are reading motives into things. They are just stated elsewhere.
I am shocked and appalled that anyone would criticize any of the saintly work brother John Dehlin does.
I’ll just say the following:
1) I never, ever intended to imply that Elder Jensen’s remarks amounted to a church-wide apology. I really regret that misunderstanding, and as soon as I learned that folks were concerned (including CLP), I changed the MM title, and deleted the Facebook posts (since you can’t change the titles of FB posts once they’re posted). It’s a bummer that the comments got deleted w/ the post, but I didn’t know of another way. I certainly didn’t delete the FB post to get rid of the comments.
2) The only comments I deleted on MM were the ones that I deemed offensive — including a few of my own. Rory, you’ll notice that I left your main criticism up, along w/ the criticisms of others. I have no problem with criticism. But just like BCC and other blogs — when people go too far, I reserve the right to moderate comments on my own blog. For the record, I regularly try to delete “anti-Mormon” comments that I deem to be non-constructive as well. Just ask the DAMU folks who despise me as well.
3) I fervently stand by the decision to publish the notes from Elder Jensen’s visit to Oakland. I loved his remarks, was excited/encouraged by them, and sincerely felt/feel like all the church is entitled to hear them. He was speaking as a general authority of the church, after all. Too much pain has been caused by Prop 8 in my opinion for only a privileged few to be entitled to hear these comments. Since they were forwarded to me by others, I knew that they would be made public eventually anyway….if they hadn’t been already (I didn’t search first to find out). Anyway….we need less private assurances in my opinion, and more public accountability on the part of the church.
When the church continues the practice of polygamy after it promises to stop (post 1890)….or covers up a massacre…..or blames dark skin (black and hispanic) on cursings from God….or claims that polygamy is no longer doctrinal (even though it remains the the D&C)…..or publicly distances itself from Theosis (“I don’t know that we teach it….I don’t know that we emphasize it”)……or (for decades) encourages electric shock aversion therapy on its gay members…or encourages gay men to get married, with the promise that it will “go away” if they pray hard enough….or uses its power and influence to impose its religious views on a sovereign state, and take away the civil rights of another minority…..
….then I believe that it needs to be held publicly accountable for those teachings/actions. That’s just how I feel.
4) For those who have/will accuse(d) me of harming Elder Jensen, or of being the cause for him not becoming an apostle someday (something several of you have either publicly or privately accused me of)….I would respond by saying that you clearly have little faith in your God, or in your leaders. If Elder Jensen is not called as an apostle because I quoted his own words publicly…..then he either shouldn’t have been saying those words….or the people in charge of those decisions about who becomes apostle are not acting on God’s will (if it was/is ever His will). Either way….I refuse to accept blame for that potential consequence (which I think is completely silly and insulting, by the way).
Other than that…I’m sorry to have caused pain. It wasn’t my intent. I was genuinely excited about Elder Jensen’s beautiful comments, and I wanted to share them. I also felt that maybe if his comments became broadly known within the church, that it could possibly lead to discussion that would maybe help us (culturally) move the needle a bit in a positive direction. I am also tired/angry for the pain that the church causes people on the margins (gays, feminists, intellectuals), and I do not believe that quietly working behind the scenes is the only way to achieve progress. I believe that sometimes — open, public discussion (sunshine) can be very, very effective.
I still retain this hope.
John Dehlin has done quite a bit of work to foster understanding and compassion relative to the LDS gay person’s plight, especially as of late. In fact, it’s because of his blog that any of us even know about Elder Jensen’s tender and beautiful expression of compassion toward those in this meeting. John said in the comments section of the post that:
“Never in this post was it my intent to indicate that Elder Jensen made an officially apology on behalf of the church. But just to make sure things are not misunderstood, I changed the title to: Elder Marlin Jensen Personally Apologizes for the Pain Caused by Proposition 8 (see above).”
Times and Seasons frequently requires readers to interpret things LDS Leaders say in the most charitable and loving way possible. Let’s quit finding subversive “motives” and “tactics” in everyone with whom we may disagree.
For once, an LDS church leader had the pulpit, but chose to sit down and listen to those who may have been personally hurt by actions the church took in re a specific issue. We should all take something away from the Oakland Stake’s meeting with Elder Jensen; true discipleship, compassion, Christ-like love and how the Holy Ghost can heal (and if nothing else…..how we should all occasionally shut the hell up and LISTEN to those on the other side of a particular issue). But the only posts I’ve seen so far, have been designed to highlight the way Elder Jensen’s words were twisted for this purpose or that. Folks, something is wrong with this picture.
“Let’s quit finding subversive “motives” and “tactics” in everyone with whom we may disagree.”
Maybe if people would not claim to have those motives in other places.
Yeah, Chris H……maybe.
So now incendiary comments are just a means to the end of getting private email communication? I feel so cheap. I thought they were an end in themselves.
In other news, I’m getting mixed messages from the Bloggernacle. Do we favor apologists or not?
And some of us are most definitely NOT on the same team with John Dehlin.
I find myself regularly in agreement with Ardis. In this case I believe she has it backwards; I would phrase it,
“And John Dehlin is most definitely NOT on the same team with some of us.”
Elder Jensen is a media-savvy leader who knows that: (1) a controversial or noteworthy statement (such as making an apology for the pain some have suffered over the Church’s support for Prop 8), if made in a meeting with 90 people present, will almost certainly be publicized; (2) any public statement made by a General Authority will be partly attributed to the Church, even if crafted as a personal statement; and (3) that the media (and bloggers) will only get the story half right most of the time.
The reasonable conclusion is that Elder Jensen knew his comments would be made public and probably expected that his personal apology for the pain caused to some who disagree with LDS participation in Prop 8 would be represented as an LDS apology for the LDS position. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a media-savvy organization makes a credible public statement while at the same time retaining the power to deny having made a public statement.
So whether you think John Dehlin is on your team or not, I think he’s just part of the system, and Elder Jensen was playing the system. If you don’t like it, send him (Elder Jensen) a letter complaining about the statement he made rather than griping at John.
I was thinking of your article of Brotherhood. I had a Bother hood at one time long ago. I spent two tours in Vietnam with the Marines (67-69) north of Danang–lst Marine Division. I have been a Mormon since 2004. I live alone now in the forest now with no vehicle, I am totally disabled–military and Social Security. I won’t accept a ride to church–I am not going to be someone’s ward. I drink and smoke. God bless your work though anyway.
The HuffPro article made me nauseous.
Adam Greenwood — you made me smile though. Thanks.
Dave — I would not necessarily think so.
I see the response from all quarters over this really small apology, really an empathic show of concern, as indication that the church leadership doesn’t seem to realize just how divided Prop 8 made Mormons, and how many Mormons feel church leadership is out of touch with their feelings. I am more astounded by the response to this apology than the apology itself (which I saw as simply Elder Jensen saying “I’m truly sorry you suffered.” and nothing more). I get the feeling from the response that church leaders need to get out more, listen to more regular members and get a better sense of what members really feel. I think they also ought to check out Mormon blogs every now and then.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a media-savvy organization makes a credible public statement while at the same time retaining the power to deny having made a public statement.”
Wow, Dave. I guess if it was just a PR stunt…maybe we should view and treat the Church in the way that John does.
I agree with Dan. Is This Anything?
No. it’s nothing.
I get the feeling from the response that church leaders need to get out more, listen to more regular members and get a better sense of what members really feel.
* How much do you suppose the Church’s leaders get out now? What specific changes would you make in their current allocations of time? — beyond the time the spend in individual members homes around the world.
* What sense specifically do you suppose they have now of what members really feel and what specific deficiencies have you identified?
Chris H, thanks — it’s been a while since I laughed aloud at a bloggernacle comment!
John, #15, responding to your points:
1 – Yes, you did change the title as the criticism began to point out the problem with it. One thing that is admirable about you is your willingness to make corrections. When we aren’t at each other’s throats, sometimes we can actually make sense.
2 – This isn’t entirely accurate. Frankly, I would have preferred that you moderate my second comment, the one with the expletive, rather than comment #12 (at the time) which amounted to little more than quoting you and then disagreeing with your analysis. I wrote, in part:
“Looking at the report, Elder Jensen is sitting in an emotionally charged meeting with hurting people. How can he not offer some words of comfort? He’s a good and caring man. He’s ministering, mourning with those who mourn, and offering compassion. It’s a beautiful account.”
It’s comment #151187, or thereabout, in your system. There were others.
3 – This isn’t about publishing the notes. Really! It is NOT about the notes. It’s the accompanying statements to “seize this as an opportunity” and “force [the church] to clarify”, to stop “enabling [the leadership]” and “hold the brethren accountable”. I don’t know how else to try to convey this: Elder Jensen’s words of compassion were beautiful and not unexpected. It is the hijacking of an important and individually significant moment to use for a larger purpose that we are objecting to. It affects us all.
4 – I’ve seen some of these statements. I think some overreach. But I do think that using Elder Jensen’s words as I have detailed in #3 above puts a kind and compassionate man in a difficult situation.
The basic fact is that communication with the General Authorities is impossible, except for rare exceptions. I asked two questions at a stake conference that had a 70, and to be fair to others and to not violate the no letter writing rule, I should not ask a question for another 40 years. the right thing to do is to lose the desire to communicate, the way one works on controlling lust or other appetites. If you can’t take the fact that you have no influence and they don’t want your advice you might be happier elsewhere.
Bobby W Styles:
I’m quite touched that you know of and have thought about my brotherhood essay. Thank you for commenting. It means a lot to me.
May God bless you, too.
This discussion has taking on life at my thread on the topic at FPR:
Please remember that come niblet voting time.
As I began to read about Elder Jensen’s statement and the various responses to it, I was led to think about the activities of General Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day. In he last few hours of June 5, 1944 he walked amongst and talked with the paratroopers who would be the first to land on France. Their role was believed to be vital to the success of the invasion, but it was also assumed by many that only a quarter of them would live to see June 7. Ike deeply cared about those soldiers and needed to be wih them on what, in most cases, would be the last day of their lives. He could not simply leave, he stayed on the tarmac until the last man and the last plane left.
I believe that you can look at Elder Jensen’s “apology” in the same light. Church leaders had to know that many good people would be harmed or hurt by the Church’s involvement with Proposition 8, but they were sure that there was such a need for that amendment, that some individuals had to pay a price which they really did not deserve for its passage. In a meeting such as this, you would expect the stories of hurt to be near unbearable for many.
What else would you expect from a loving and caring person, as Elder Jensen is supposed to be, in such a situation. Regret and sorrow for the pain suffered by the innocent is only natural. But in no way would it necessarily change one’s belief that Prop 8 needed to be passed.
I posit what I have written is a hypothesis, not a truth carved into stone by Aletheia herself. There is too little information to do more. When I was in graduate school at Cal, a number of used the term “The John Wayne School Of History.” That referred to a history
where there were only good guys (white hat) and bad guys (black hat) A careful use of nouns, adjectives and verbs would make sure everyone knew who was who in a few paragrphs. Prejudice, shoddy research, overgeneralization were only three of the common techniques by its practitioners . A few of the posts were getting very close to its orollary, “The John Wayne School Of Analysis.”
Paul in #30 is right. The only time I met an Apostle is when he was not an Apostle.
Secondly, the point is that when they do go out and about, they’re not going out and about to listen, but to speak and have people listen to them. This works, generally. When it doesn’t work is when the church asks something controversial of its membership, something that would divide them. In this kind of situation, church leadership should not assume everyone is on board, and they thus have to balance the priorities: get the legislation they desire, or keep members active and on board. Because some legislation will be controversial enough that you lose membership. In the grand scheme of things, which is more important?
I find it highly likely that, in terms of effecting actual change to church tone, rhetoric, or policy, the work of Ben McAdams and Dean Criddle is more efficacious than that of John Dehlin or Holly Welker. Because they start from a posture of loyalty, McAdams and Criddle have, I imagine, the kind of credibility with church leadership that Rory is talking about.
What role does prayer play in terms of effecting actual change to church tone, rhetoric, or policy?
As I’ve noted elsewhere at T&S, I’m uncomfortable with the implicit assumption that the only Mormon prayers that really matter are those of the leadership.
And in response to that previous T&S comment of mine, in a discussion regarding the priesthood ban, Margaret Young had this to say:
Fellow Mormons. No need for Margaret to explain that she was talking about a burden for Mormons, both black and white. From the little I know of Margaret, that was understood. And appreciated.
Gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are also your fellow Mormons. Their burdens are your own. And they’re real.
To the extent that T&S remains a venue for faithful discussion of Mormonism, arguments here over the efficacy of the various secular methods available for persuading the Brethren on LGBT issues strike me as deeply paradoxical. As Mormons, you share a burden. Pray that it’s lifted. Voice your concerns through appropriate channels. Or don’t.
But to the extent that you shift accountability outside the organization, to your bogeymen or women du jour, you are relinquishing both your accountability as well as your credibility qua believers, and freeing the rest of us to carry on as best we know how.
And since I harbor an irrational animus for odd numbers, I’m compelled to note that the OP’s closing sentiment is utterly risible:
Oh come now. Talk about your ‘inflated rhetoric’.
Chino Blanco–I think the frustration with Dehlin’s actions here is precisely because it feels to those of us who are desperately praying and working on this cause from within, in the ways that seem most potentially efficacious among believers, that Elder Jensen’s meeting was the most apparent evidence to date that such prayers work, and that co-opting it and distorting it for use in a different kind of agenda will make leaders feel attacked and defensive instead of open to new ideas. It’s harder to receive revelation in a bunker.
Allow me, just for the sake of “diversity” if you will, to register one comment by a person who is not inclined to work for changing Church policy concerning homosexuality. I must say I admire the certainty of so many voices here regarding the direction the Church should take. This certainty seems to be based on a quite facile equation between Christian charity or compassion and amoral indulgence. What happened to compassion as inviting to repentance? Here’s a word from Elder Bruce D. Porter (along with a Catholic and an Evangelical author) in response to a Newsweek article:
One thing the Bible never suggests is that the world must work the way we desire it to. Jesus loves us enough not to let us do whatever we want. Every generation attacks biblical ethics in some new way, but the Bible endures. Hypocrites pretend they have no sin. Hedonists pretend their sins are good. Honest people repent.
doesn’t seem to realize just how divided Prop 8 made Mormons
I sometimes wake in a sweat wondering if the Bloggernacle may not be representative of most Mormons. But nah, that’s crazy talk.
Kristine and others,
Can you help me to understand. Implicit in all of this talk of Dehlin apparently poisoning the well or something like it, is this apparent aspiration that some are “working on this cause from within”.
To what cause are you working on? And what do you hope to accomplish?
Is there really some hope that in time the church will allow gay married members to be in good standing/temple work/etc? And encourage gay courtship among young adults in the church?
I’m just trying to think through what the end-game picture looks like. Is it that or simply that Mormons will love gay people as someone who is choosing a different path (that they also view as a mistaken one, but not so different from being mistaken in a variety of sexual or moral sins)?
Or is it something else? None of these necessarily reflect my thoughts on the issue, but I’m just trying to grasp at what you are hoping for?
Certainly we need more of Elder Jensen’s sensitivity to trickle down to the masses. I have family who have suffered from insensitivity of that kind, that is more accurately called cruelty.
That said, I don’t think the Church has doctrinal maneuvering room or any kind of precedent the way there was with either the priesthood ban. I would expect to see a change in some with women and priesthood before any kind of change on homosexuality. And I’m not sure there should be any. I think there can be greater sensitivity and tolerance without any change to doctrine or policy.
I have a gay cousin who opposes gay marriage, so this isn’t as clearcut or simplistic a moral or “civil rights” issue as many would frame it.
correction: “the way there was with the priesthood ban”
correction #2: “I would expect to see a change in some *respect* with women and the priesthood…”
Sadly, Kristine, some of the same folks leaving the most caustic comments here and over at that “fun” FPR thread strike me as some of the brightest stars in the faithful LDS constellation – folks whose heavyweight historical understanding of the Mormon Reformation I’ve admired. But all that book learning has apparently been for naught, as it’s done nothing to temper their responses to contemporary outside concerns over what looks to be merely the latest example of the LDS community’s inability to self-regulate.
You talk about “known, effective modes of critique, and some others that might be worth trying, and there are some that we can fairly say are likely to be counterproductive.”
But unless you can expand on those methods in an open forum at T&S, pardon me for thinking that you can’t get there from here.
I know it’s an old reference, but this whole episode reminds me of some dialogue from “The Crying Game” …
“But all that book learning has apparently been for naught, as it’s done nothing to temper their responses to contemporary outside concerns over what looks to be merely the latest example of the LDS community’s inability to self-regulate.”
I love you, too.
I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Chris H. But it’s not personal, whatever it is. And for those for whom “The Crying Game” allegory arrived inscrutable and D.O.A., John Dehlin is the frog, and ‘Liberal Mormons’ are the scorpion.
Too metaphorical for me. I am getting at…that I love you. Really. Can I not love Ralph Hancock and Chino Blanco?
Can I not love Ralph Hancock
What lover of “diversity” cannot?
Ralph, just to be very clear, because I’ve been careful about how I express myself–I’ve said nothing about changing church policy, because that’s not my job (thank god). I said working on “this issue,” by which I mean the breach in the body of Christ between us and our gay brothers and sisters within the Church, and between those who affirm the Church’s activity in passing Proposition 8 and those who oppose it. If I were relying on my own thinking, I would say that changes in policy seem necessary and inevitable, but I’m aware both that I’m likely to be mistaken and that it doesn’t work to try to push ideas for specific policy changes up through the hierarchy.
Hey Chris H.,
Feel free. As far as Ralph is concerned, at this stage in my life, I’d call it ‘fond memories’ for an esteemed professor (but if you want to up the ante and call it ‘love’ … who am I to quibble?).
Thing is, if Ralph were really in tune with the Spirit, here’s what he would’ve heard in Bruce Porter’s talk:
If Ralph doesn’t like that third way, maybe he needs to spend more time on his knees and less time trying to impress Robby George and Matt Holland.
Good grief. Scratch that last sentence of mine in #53. Ralph would be on his knees in either case.
And do such comments from my side count for “fun” … Chris H.?
I hang out with the LDS apologist crowd quite a bit as well as the DAMU, ex-Mormon, and “anti-Mormonism crowds. There’s certainly no love lost for John Dehlin in some of those quarters. For myself, however, I’ve always felt sympathetic toward the “bridge-the-divide” role that John has been attempting to play. I’ve always wanted Mormonism to be a bigger tent than it is, and am inclined to support anyone working toward that end.
I also opposed the Church’s stance on Prop 8 on sort of a libertarian argument over at Nine Moons prior to the election. I’ve been nothing but frustrated with the way this whole thing has played out.
But John screwed up here.
And it has nothing to do with publishing the notes from Marlin Jensen (half the permas on the bloggernacle would have eagerly done that much). This is something I would have reported if no one else did.
The screw-up is in the execution.
John Dehlin walks a fine line between overlapping and often competing factions in the Mormon world – as most “New Order Mormons” do. He’s got three competing factions to juggle here: the LDS Church, the bloggernacle, and the ex/anti crowd. You could say four factions if you want to distinguish between the ex/antis and the DAMU.
What has me really frustrated with John here is the naivete he’s shown with respect to all of these factions.
He’s shown himself to be rather naive with respect to critics of the Church – accepting much of what they say and claim at face value, seemingly oblivious to the fact that ex/antis can and do lie about the LDS Church, often make up facts out of thin air, or allow their emotions to utterly compromise their view of reality (or all of the above). His interviews with such have often been really, really lacking in attempts to hold the interviewee’s feet to the fire, make them back up their fact claims, or even pressing them to address the common criticisms of their positions.
I think he’s also been very naive about the LDS Church. He seems to think that highly public grandstanding is the quickest and best way to effect change in the LDS leadership attitudes.
I consider this to be completely unrealistic wishful thinking (whatever Chino says). If you want a reform to fail, the quickest way to do it is to rub the leadership’s nose on it on ABC news (incidentally, I think John was a bit naive about how his remarks on that news program a while back were going to be taken – soundbite management is the first rule of dealing with the media). Reforms can happen, and have happened – when finessed correctly. But when you blow a trumpet in Thomas S. Monson’s face, and say “Ha, ha! You were wrong after all! Now you all look like imbeciles! Kneel before me…”
Who does John think he’s kidding? Of course that’s not going to work. You’re just going to set the dialogue back several years.
Whatever some folks in the DAMU think, outdated, reactionary, 1960s protest models simply don’t work. They don’t work in general in US politics, and they certainly don’t work with the LDS leadership.
The revelation on blacks and the Priesthood is not an example of the success of 1960s protest models – quite the contrary, since the revelation came almost ten years after most of the public outcry over the ban had long-subsided (and then only occurred due to internal concerns – like the impossibility of administering the ban in places like Brazil).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my people it is that they are stubborn. You try to drag them to water, and they will dig their heels in, and you will be tugging on that rope all day long. John and Chino can complain that this is immature behavior all they want, but a mature response demands that you set your goals and your cause at higher value than your resentments at how the other side is supposedly conducting themselves. An unwillingness to reach out to the opposition, and take the steps most likely to achieve your cause, simply because you don’t like how they play betrays a similar lack of maturity on your part.
Finally, John has shown more than a bit of naivete of the bloggernacle itself. He has failed to realize just how highly much of the bloggernacle dearly prizes its status as “faithful Mormons.” People in the bloggernacle are already trying to walk the same tightrope between opposing camps that John Dehlin has stepped out onto.
They really don’t appreciate him jumping up and down on it, and swinging it from side to side.
I’ll put it bluntly here – if you want to play a public and visible role as “middle-man” and “mediator” in this world, you have to be good at finessing opposing views, and skilled at “office politics.”
John has shown little indication of being good at either. His attempt to get Holly Welker involved over at the Huffington Post (of all places), shows a sort of hopeless ignorance about how to handle a sensitive issue like this.
I mean come on – even as liberal-minded as the bloggernacle is, most of us recognize the Huffington Post as being run mostly by left-wing douchebags, and wouldn’t trust anything that rag said about Mormonism even if Thomas S. Monson himself quoted it in General Conference. Did John think a HuffPo piece would raise the credibility level here or something?
Sorry for the rant. This has all been highly frustrating for me.
I invited literally 2100 friends to write about Elder Jensen’s comments. Holly Welker was 1 in 2100.
As for your comments about my being naive (e.g. dumb) — I think you’re accurate on all fronts (for what it’s worth).
There’s a difference between naive and dumb. I often enjoy your podcasts. I wouldn’t if you were “dumb.”
Kristine (@11:16am): Thanks — well said, and fair enough. I’m also glad not to be in charge. And of course any breach among saints is painful to all of us and so we would all like to contribute to healing. But then the frailty of the human condition is such that we can hardly help approaching the “healing” from one standpoint or another regarding what it would mean to be healed, or in full health. Thus my allusion to repentance. I’ll keep trying it on myself, too.
has Mormon Matters been removed from the Mormon Archipelago?
Also, I don’t want my comment to be read as a particular criticism of Welker, or her article. I wasn’t commenting on either – merely questioning the venue. John, I’ll take your remarks at face-value as to not being behind the article in a more direct fashion.
Best of luck in mending bridges.
#59. It looks like… it has. Seems like a harsh move for a post that has been deleted. I wasn’t a fan of the post but that does seem rather harsh considering the dissent that occurred even amongst the permas over there about all this.
Perhaps it’s just removed until things settle down and John articulates what direction it’s going to go. Seems reasonable.
Seth R. – In your #55 you forgot to mention your work patrolling LGBT sites. Pam, Joe, Jeremy and the rest of us are quite familiar with your moniker.
We’re all heartened to hear that you would’ve posted Marlin Jensen’s remarks if others had not.
That said, run a search for “liminal” + “Mormon” and appreciate that – even though “liminality” and “Mormonism” are neat words – they don’t evoke any kind of useful response from those of us who’re not invested in your tribal memberships. ‘DAMU’, ‘ex-Mormon’, ‘anti-Mormon’, ‘New Order Mormon’ … huh?
Forget that inside baseball jargon and recognize that your slander is a joke:
C’mon. Whatever we’re doing, it seems to be finally working, and thankfully bears little resemblance to what you’re describing.
But forget machinations, let’s get serious about this next bit, OK?
As if I never penned an email to LDS HQ offering to help them navigate this issue. They.didn’t.want.my.apostate.advice. They think their machine can squash me like a bug. When Kim Farah and Michael Otterson repeatedly tell the press: “Mr. Karger is entitled to his opinion but not to his own version of the facts.” … Whose “facts” do you think they’re referring to? As it turns out, many of them happen to be ones that I helped Fred uncover. Do I take that personally? Yeah, kind of. Go figure. My research is apparently suspect, according to Kim and Mike. Regrettably, I don’t have the resources to commandeer their bullhorn, or otherwise place a call to the Washington Post that will be taken seriously, and call them out. Not yet, at least.
But no worries. It’s not only “your” people who are stubborn, Seth R.
Gah, upon re-reading, I sound like a run-of-the-mill ‘offended’ exmo. I can live with that.
I have heard much about Elder Jensen and he really does seem like a kind and compassionate man. It is too bad that many of his words were read too literally or taken completely out of context. Hopefully, within the Mormon community ,there can be some reconciliation of him after all.
Chino, I see little evidence at all that what you’re doing “seems to be working.” Examples please.
Seth R. – Go to this link and hit play.
You know what, forget marriage equality for the moment. How sad is this coming from a woman whose intelligence and grasp of the language I freely admit far surpasses my own?
You’re not mistaken, Kristine. Except when it comes to supposing that resistance is futile.
I’ve been reading about this incident all weekend, coming back to old haunts on the ol’ ‘nacle. I have one thing to say, and then I’ll bow back out for another couple of years.
This whole thing has reaffirmed my notion that my time is much better spent working on my own personal discipleship of Christ than watching and participating in all the fretting about the church on the bloggernacle.
It is pretty easy to take Jensen’s apology as saying nothing more than “I’m sorry you have suffered”, and that is probably the most likely direct translation. However, I can only imagine how much more meaningful it would have felt for those present. Marlin Jensen is awesome (lots of other anecdotal evidence for this.)
John stretched it, sure. I suppose there could be some debate about whether or not this kind of publicity will be discouraging to future LDS leaders who feel a conflict between compassion and institutional loyalty.
I have really good reason to believe Elder Jensen is not concerned for his own career, but literally only cares to do the right thing. He is seriously awesome, and that is coming from a raving apostate.
I think the level of exposure that some bloggernacle threads, and even including the HuffPo article, translates to is a bit self-congratulating. Seriously folks, most people don’t care what we are talking about. Even the HuffPo is somewhat neutralized by its role as choir-preacher.
I honestly think showing compassion for our gay brothers and sisters is becoming expeditiously chic, even for our conservative brothers. You’d have to have a heart of stone to retain the archaic hatred, and I’m not quite ready to drop that judgment on most of the Brethren. If you want the real frontier of courage… look to women/priesthood. Any dude who sticks his neck out in that space… STONES.
Chino, what thesis is that graphic supposed to support?
That reactionary 1960s protest models have worked to increase support for gay marriage nationwide?
Or that they have worked to increase support for it within the LDS Church?
I like John, and his larger project. I do think that he blew it on this one.
I think Rory’s assessment that this could end up being counterproductive is correct. The institution has a history of reacting negatively to public pressure. By many accounts, the church was very close to an apology for race issues, about ten years ago. The story leaked prematurely, and church leaders were embarrassed and angry about it, and the apology never happened.
I’m a little worried that the same dynamic will play out here.
Kaimi-if you’re right (and I assume you are), what does that say about our church leaders? “I’ll show you who leaked the story early, and not do the right thing!”
72-73: If I recall the story correctly, Armand Mauss said he was working with another church member behind the scenes to get the proposed statement considered by the First Presidency. Things were moving along nicely, albeit slowly, but the proposal was still in the lower-to-mid levels of the COB. Mauss’ collaborator, not understanding much about the workings of the church, grew impatient and decided that the best way to move things along would be to “hold their feet to the fire” by using the press to put outside pressure on the church. He could not be dissuaded, and leaked the story that a statement was imminent. The FP’s office responded that no such statement was under consideration (the proposal had not yet reached the FP, after all). The statement from the FP’s office probably put the kibosh on any further consideration of passing the proposal up the chain.
So I don’t think it was vindictiveness that killed it.
Kaimi – this doesn’t sound like you. There’s no way in heck that the Church is ever going to apologize for its involvement in Prop 8 or any number of distasteful policy positions the Church has taken in the past. You know that. John’s missteps publicizing Elder Jensen’s “apology” are small potatoes. I guess it has been a slow news day in the bloggernacle for the past few days, but this is getting ridiculous (and here I am still commenting). Sheesh.
I don’t think that the church would apologize for Prop 8. I do think that the wide publicity over Elder Jensen’s statement could lead to (for example) an internal policy discouraging such apologies or an internal policy discouraging outreach like the Oakland stake was doing; and that that would be a bad thing.
That’s all. I don’t think that John is an evil mastermind, and I generally support his goals. I just think that he made a few missteps here.
A couple models to consider:
1. The BoM tells us that the Nephites would put their strongest men at their weakest points to prepare for the Lamanites’ onslaughts. I’ve taken that as a good model for administering a ward and it fits well with David O. McKay’s counsel to use the strongest members to work with the youth, who likely would be the least seasoned in their testimonies and conversions/mighty changes of their hearts/changes of their natures.
I see a parallel with the Church’s responses to external protests and such today. That they don’t give ground may be because they are applying their strongest force to where they see the strongest opposition to what they have found to be right. Consider that this may not be the mindless reaction some here would claim.
2. Another model would be Moses and the original commmandments or Brigham and the law of consecration. In these cases, the followers were not ready to follow the prophet in a change of order and so they were not given it in Moses’s time and had it retracted in Brigham’s. SWK’s son has related to us the pains his father took to prepare the GAs for the revelation on the priesthood, which occurred during a time of relative freedom from external pressure in contrast to the apostacy of two apostles following the Manifesto’s presentation without such preparation.
People have a natural inclination to circle the wagons around someone/thing you cherish when it is attacked from the outside. External attacks could make the membership less prepared to accept a change that is right and so would delay it being given to them by a prophet who knows it is the direction to go when the people are ready.
Having said this, I have hope that the Church will not change its position in the specific instance of endorsing homosexual unions.
I feel some excoms coming on.
I have never thought of John Dehlin as being naive.
He’s a very serious and intelligent person – he is also earnest and accomodating to an extreme – often to such a degree that it comes across as unreal and possibly devious.
It amazes me the degree to which some members of the ‘Nacle are condescending towards church leaders and have advice for church leadership about being more in touch with its members. In my opinion the general authorities of this church, particularly the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, are better traveled, better educated, far wiser and much more inspired than any of us.
After the debacle that was the war in Iraq, and President Hinckley’s support of said debacle, I tend to think they don’t get out as much as I assumed.
Well of course, Dan. Because if someone disagrees with your point of view they are naive, stupid, or just “don’t get out much.” It couldn’t possibly be that they just have a different opinion. Considering that President Hinckley stepped foot in almost every single country on the planet, visited all sorts of cultures and people of every income level, made incredible strides in humanitarian efforts, worked at this little thing called the perpetual education fund, etc., etc., I think in all actuality he probably did get out just fine. What a ridiculous thing to say.
Other than that, this has been a very interesting discussion. I think Elder Jensen is awesome. I hope he’s doing okay after this firestorm.
RE: “After the debacle that was the war in Iraq, and President Hinckley’s support of said debacle, I tend to think they don’t get out as much as I assumed.”
Dan, please point us to Pres. Hinckley’s support of “the debacle that was the war in Iraq.” Such hopelessness from such an optimistic man. I recall some general counsel to pray, etc. but not support specifically for whatever you have in mind that was a “debacle.”
I do recall his anguish expressed in the opening of his remarks in GenCon 10/1986,
I noted in the public press the other day that the war between Iran and Iraq has gone on for seven years. No one can ever estimate the terrible suffering incident to that conflict. Lives numbered in the tens of thousands have been lost. The terrible wounds of war have left bodies maimed and minds destroyed. Families have been left without fathers. Young boys who have been recruited as soldiers have, in many instances, died while those yet alive have had woven into the very fabric of their natures elements of hatred which will never leave them. The treasure of the involved nations has been wasted and will never be recovered.
To us who look upon it from afar it seems so unnecessary and such a terrible waste of human life and national resources. Seven years is a long time. “Will it ever end?” we ask.
His phrase, “woven into the very fabric of their natures elements of hatred which will never leave them” has stayed with me since I heard him say it. Such hopelessness from such an optimistic man. So, you surprised me when you wrote that the speaker of these words later supported the part of a war in the same place that was a debacle. Please share where we can read his comments doing that.
Just saying, but it’s a bit of a non sequitur to say that travel equals cultural understanding or that setting foot in a country is tantamount to coming to know its culture or that even visiting a culture (whatever that means) leads to an open mind about that culture(in reality, “visiting” feels like a detached and ephemeral contact). The list could go on. This comment has nothing to do with Pres. Hinckley or any other GA. But it has to do with the facile notion that a Sams Club approach to human contact translates into meaning on a personal level.
Think of the widely traveled colonial administrators in a host of “exotic” locations in British or French controlled areas. They got out, but they didn’t get out, if you know what I mean. Secure in their “opinion” of the world around them, they could visit many countries, visit all sorts of cultures and people of every income level, make incredible strides in humanitarian efforts and do all kinds of benevolent things to help educate the natives, all while comfortably maintaining their “opinions.”
If we want to talk about who gets out and who doesn’t, it needs to be on different terms than just frequent flyer miles.
@71 Seth R. – You’re the one who brought up “reactionary 1960s protest models” … what few protests actually occur are a minor component, but to the extent that they apparently get under your skin, I’ll ask around and see if we can’t schedule a few more. Meanwhile, you might want to take a look at this project to get an idea about how we do things here in 2010.
And here’s the latest evidence that something seems to be working.
it is found here.
I think it is clear that in 2003 GBH ‘supported’ the war in Iraq. Whether he would after the ‘debacle’ unfolded is another matter. What is unclear to me is why GBH’s position in 2003 re. the war in Iraq should be the touchstone for measuring how in touch with the people he was, or all church leadership (as per danithew’s original point)for that matter. For GBH, how about taking temples to the people or the PEF for perhaps a fairer reflection of his ‘in-touch-ness’.
Oh, I do think that President Hinckley did a fantastic job reaching out, particularly with regards to increasing temples around the world. The debacle wasn’t post-war, but pre-war (though of course, post-war was just terrible). Enough information was available for everyone to see that the Bush administration’s argument (which President Hinckley supported) was not based on facts. President Hinckley himself states in his 2003 talk that the war in Iraq was an outgrowth of the war in Afghanistan begun two years previous. Who would believe something like that? As Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, why would anyone believe something like that? Particularly a man who is, supposedly, well travelled and well educated as President Hinckley was. Like I said, that incident simply told me not to assume church leaders are that well versed in the world around us.
I don’t want to threadjack into talk of the Iraq war. My point is essentially this: danithew made the point that he feels the church leadership is more in touch, better educated, more inspired, etc than some commenters seem to give them credit for. You apparently wanted to take issue with this point and use as your only example a couple of lines from a talk given in 2003 to indicate GBH (and by extension all church leadership) were/are not as well acquainted with the world as you assumed they were. What your assumptions were prior to 2003 that they would be rocked by a couple of lines from one talk I don’t know.
John — I think you were overly eager to leverage this statement to support your agenda regarding LGBT folks and the Church, and I don’t think this has worked well, and was unwise from the outset.
What bothers me, more than that, is the backlash against people who have been friends and allies for their apparent disloyalty to you personally. Removing a post is one thing (and I’m generally not a fan of it — hiding the unpleasant just doesn’t work), but removing permas and friends is quite another, and I would suggest you rethink that step. Emotions running high is usually not a good guide for behavior, especially making long-lasting decisions. Disagreement is a good thing, when it’s honest, and punishing people for it is rarely good.
And, with what has happened to others who had a closer relationship for disagreeing with you, I don’t know that I expect better treatment for doing so here. I guess we’ll see.
Chino, I still fail to see what any of this has to do with my point that John’s stated approach (or yours) is unlikely to be effective with respect to the LDS leadership, or changing church policy.
You talk about national trends – which wasn’t what this discussion was even about to begin with. I don’t really care what the rest of America thinks for the purpose of this discussion. So I’m not sure what your point in commenting here is – other than to bring up your favorite pet topic in every forum that has a plausible connection to it.
Pres. Hinckley’s 4/2003 address is not support for the war in Iraq; at the most, it is reluctant assent.
President Hinckley himself states in his 2003 talk that the war in Iraq was an outgrowth of the war in Afghanistan begun two years previous. Who would believe something like that? As Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, why would anyone believe something like that? Particularly a man who is, supposedly, well travelled and well educated as President Hinckley was.
Pres. Hinckley did not mention 9/11, Afghanistan, or Iraq — much less claim real linkage. He’s giving an address about the Church’s position regarding “War and Peach” and as he begins to call out the evils of war, he notes,
And so I venture to say something about the war and the gospel we teach. I spoke of this somewhat in our October conference of 2001. When I came to this pulpit at that time, the war against terrorism had just begun. The present war is really an outgrowth and continuation of that conflict.
I’m surprised that anyone who watched the Bush White House back then would disagree with his observation. They seemed bent upon what they supposed would be a cleaning-up of the world through their “war on terrorism”. President Hinckley noted how this lead from one conflict to another.
I watched the Bush White House and I vehemently disagreed with that observation. In a talk in which President Hinckley decries the veneration some have of empires that have come and gone, it’s quite ironic that he would support/assent (I don’t care which word you use) for an expansion of the American empire toward a target that was not a threat to us. And yes, it was clear in February 2003 that Iraq was not a threat to the United States and our interests. Certainly not a threat worthy of the beheading of the Iraqi regime and the illegal occupation of their whole country. President Hinckley used Captain Moroni as his justification that we had a right to go into Iraq. But that makes no sense at all. Captain Moroni never went into Lamanite country into an aggressive war. Never. Look it up. Captain Moroni defended at home. That President Hinckley would use Moroni as justification for aggressive warfare with a nation not even coming close to attacking us made the least sense of his whole talk.
I’ve never doubted that President Hinckley was our prophet (and that President Monson is now our prophet), but my assumption that he was supposed to be wise and learned went way down after that talk. It didn’t make sense, except that he was a neo-conservative who framed the war in Iraq in exactly the terms found at the Weekly Standard, not in scripture.
Perhaps the lack of sense in that talk, Dan, is the fault of one who was listening and misunderstanding, not the fault of the speaker. manaen’s recollections and analysis are pretty much the same as my own. i can’t twist that talk to fit your description at all.
Not to end up with a threadjack, but I have to agree with Ardis. Also while one can reject Bush’s strategy and arguments it seems part of his grand strategy that all the middle east was linked and you can’t have peace in the world until there is peace in the Islamic world. Even if you think the particular strategies are wrong I’m not sure that thesis is that uncontroversial.
Clark and Ardis,
My point is that he took the neo-con premise about the Middle East, which was a flawed premise, that peace in the Middle East leads through Baghdad. It never has, and it never will. You guys are not the least bit troubled that he tried to conflate our aggressive war against Iraq as that of Captain Moroni defending Nephite territory? Nothing in that sounds wrong to you? Was Iraq coming at our doorstep with a massive army ready to take us down? Was Iraq in any way shape or form even close to the thought that they could alter our Constitutional freedoms in any way shape or form? Did you two really inflate Iraq to be that big of a monster? How could you guys do this? What evidence was there of this? The evidence was shoddy and from disreputable sources. And this was known BEFORE the war began. America drank the bitter cup of vengeance and lost its head for a few years. I would have expected the prophet to have risen above that. Silly me for having such lofty expectations of the prophet of the Lord. But his argument was classical neo-conservative.
Dan, is there any thread you DON’T try to turn into a debate about the Bush Presidency?
I’ve been largely absent from these blogs for several years now, and I finally come back, and it’s like you’ve been stuck in a time capsule the entire time. You’re posts are exactly the same thing you were saying almost 6 years ago.
It’s like a Twilight Zone episode or something.
welcome back. :)
“The HuffPro article made me nauseous”
Ditto. To me, that seems the worst outcome of this. It’s one thing for bloggers to have online discussions about how things are presented, but for the blog with it’s second hand quotes to be the main source for a news story seems shoddy. Couldn’t an author with Welker’s credentials have gone to the trouble to actually interview someone that was there? And if you are sending a message to so 2000 facebook friends and you know that one of them is Welker, might you not know of her eagerness to turn sacred experiences into essay fodder enough that you might think twice before a call to action?
Anyway, I’m a displaced Mormon Matters reader with no idea where to go. I’m not sure anyone ever reads my comments but me, but I enjoy writing them. Anyone have a suggestion where I can find a new home blog???
Welcome, Rigel. I’d provide a suggested link to a new home blog, but doing so here might create an infinite loop.
The HuffPro article made me nauseous
You guys are not the least bit troubled that he tried to conflate …
No, because he didn’t do that. That’s what you misunderstand. I can’t argue the rest of your position with you, Dan, because you get off track at the very beginning: he didn’t say what you heard.
Please read the following section of his talk and tell me I am wrong:
He just used Captain Moroni to defend “times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.” But Iraq was not a threat to our families, our liberties. That a piddly backward country like Iraq could be a threat to our families and liberties is just ludicrous. Same with Iran. Same with any country other than perhaps China. We’re so vastly more powerful than any other country, that when we claim someone is a threat to us, we look ridiculous.
Dan: Where did he assert that the situation in Iraq was indeed such a “time and circumstance”? It could be understood that he’s just giving us the guidelines by which we can judge for ourselves whether that applied in the current situation.
President Hinckley’s remarks were ambivalent enough that people were able to read into them exactly what they wanted. As I recall, the Sugar Beet ran a bit saying that an LDS bookstore reported that “President Hinckley Supports the War” bumper stickers were selling equally well as “President Hinckley Opposes the War” bumper stickers.
Wait, what happened? What’s going on? Who is this Elder Jensen fellow, and what did he say? Would someone please summarize this whole brouhaha for me, and would everyone please re-enact every single piece of the drama for me right here in this thread? I’m too lazy to go back and read everything elsewhere. I demand immediate gratification from you all.
Also, George Bush was a man of God and the Iraq War was divinely sanctioned by Jesus Christ himself. Meanwhile, Obama is a socialist with a Kenyan, anti-colonialist mindset. Discuss.
Please read the following section of his talk and tell me I am wrong
I will cheerfully comply. You are wrong. You are wrong precisely because you limit your reading to that single section and fail to consider the total message of his talk. While President Hinckley did say there was such a time and circumstance, he did not say with the definiteness that you assert that this was such a time and circumstance. He merely acknowledged that war is sometimes inevitable
The totality of his message is far better summarized by the very next line, the one you cut off by ending your “read this” demand where you do. He said “When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace.” He went on at great length to say that although we are people of peace, we are subject to governments which are not. He said that because we are people of peace, we can find a kind of peace despite being surrounded by war. He called on the Lord to end the particular conflict that you claim he endorsed.
In short, you are the man who hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. You are also a man who is so fixed in his political opinion that you can’t really see what is on the screen before you: If you have read this far in my comment, it is only your eyes that have passed over the words — your mind is otherwise engaged in constructing your rebuttal. It isn’t worth the effort of a foregone failure to further attempt to convince you of your stubborn disregard for President Hinckley’s message. Construct all the rebuttals you wish; you’ll be typing them to yourself. You’ve typed them all before, many times and in many venues, and they are just as wrong now as they were the first time you typed them. I have no wish to debate you further.
he says it right in the first paragraph. Did you not read it? Here it is again:
There, I put it in boldface just so it is clear. Present situation: war in Iraq. Judge it on Captain Moroni. My analytical skills are not substandard. I’m reading his words very carefully.
Aaron, go back to watching reruns of Punky Brewster. We’ll let you know when there’s something you need to read.
But you’ll be happy to learn that I will debate you, Dan. And unlike Ardis, I am willing and able to engage you with my FEARLESS USE OF ALL-CAPS, SO YOU JUST PREPARE YOURSELF MISTER !!!!!!
By the way, I feel like an epic battle of this magnitude deserves to have at least one gratuitous reference to the Adam-God Theory in it. So consider this comment to be that reference.
I don’t know why I’m wading into this but here goes. Maybe it’s just instinct to crane your neck at a carwreck. Trying to keep it neutral here, so take note.
Rigel, #98. I’m not sure what Welker’s credentials are supposed to be, and that’s not meant to be a slam. On the same thread cited over at FPR from JD’s FB page, she herself rejected the label of “journalist” and said she was just a blogger at HP and HP doesn’t pay her or any of their bloggers, IIRC. And hers was a blog post at HP. So, “it’s one thing for bloggers to have online discussions…” And that’s what it was, yet granted, HP has a bit more visibility than, say, FPR, as much as we love FPR :) [and those statements were publicly available on JD’s FB page until he removed the post and comments.]
It’s also interesting to note that Holly was unceremoniously defriended by JD on FB soon after all that hubub on FPR. Holly announced it on someone else’s page [again, public information on FB] and said that John BEGGED [her emphasis] her to write something for HP. That along with the other quote cited at FPR from her that she “wrote [the HP] piece at John’s explicit request that I hold the church’s feet to the fire,” challenge John’s assertion that he sent out some general message to all his 2200 (Or is it 2100 now?) friends to get the word out and that Holly was just a lone gunman on this.
The lesson I take away from all this, among others: Guard your (and your friends’) FB privacy settings like the Gold Plates!
wow Ardis. I read your whole comment. You did not offend me, as you seem to assume, that I would not consider what you wrote. You think I’m some partisan or something. There are only two issues I have very strong feelings about. The war in Iraq and the use of torture. But I guess you’re not going to read these words, so it won’t matter what I say further. So I guess I’ll go head to head with Aaron Brown or something, though Aaron will be disappointed that I won’t use all-caps. Boldface is the extent to which I embellish my words.
I read, Dan, but I won’t debate.
Oh, and also, never get involved in a land war in Asia.
Dan, for what it’s worth, I’ve also read your take on GBH’s conference talk several times in various places, and I also find your reading far too narrow. I largely agree with you about the war, but I think you’re failing to see the nuance in the conference talk. Rather than trying to decide if GBH supported or the war or not, the question to ask is probably in what ways GBH was ministering to the spiritual needs of a flock that included war supporters, war opponents, and those who were about to go into combat.
Well Ardis, since you’ll read it, here is my rebuttal,
Actually I have read the entire talk very carefully numerous times over the past seven years. I have considered the total message of his talk. And in the end, I believe his words, that what governs his personal feelings and what dictates his personal loyalties in that situation was that the war in Iraq was akin to Captain Moroni defending against tyrannical Lamanites. I think he said contradictory things, that we’re a peaceful people, yet who feel obligated to start aggressive wars against nations that are not a threat to us. That makes no sense to me. He felt that the war in Iraq was a natural extension of the war in Afghanistan, which is the neo-conservative position, but not accepted by everyone. That’s fine and all. He can take that position, but he and those who defend him, should accept push back against such thinking. It’s wrong. Iraq was not an extension of the war in Afghanistan. Iraq was a distraction from the true fight against our actual enemy: al-Qaeda. That Al-Qaeda appeared in Iraq after we removed the Ba’ath Party should not be a surprise to anyone. They certainly were not there under Saddam. If President Hinckley were learned on the problems of the Middle East, he would have believed the general consensus of most reasonable Middle East experts. Peace in the Middle East runs through the Israeli-Palesine conflict. Fix that, and you fix so much in the ME. He should have known this if he were, as danithew indicates, smarter and wiser than all of us.
Let me put two sections of his talk right next to each other and you will see why you are wrong on this:
Couple that with what he said earlier:
His personal feelings in the “present situation” are that we have a tyrant who oppressed his own people and threatened the world, thus we should support our respective national leaders because they have access to greater intelligence, and we are under obligation to fight against tyranny. And “such is adjudged to be the case presently.” And then, to add more, he says:
Yeah, we’re a people of peace…but…well, Christ came not to send peace, but a sword,” so there, we are allowed to fight! I’m sorry Ardis, but you’re wrong. The evidence, President Hinckley’s own words, are very clear. He supported the war against Saddam.
1. It was an extension of the fight in Afghanistan
2. Saddam was a tyrant who oppressed his people and threatened the world
3. Our national leaders have access to greater intelligence so we should trust them
4. We are under scriptural obligation to stand against tyranny and threats
5. Even Christ said that he came not to send peace, but the sword.
How can you read otherwise?
I don’t know, man. But I probably wouldn’t compare the war in Iraq with Captain Moroni.
Dan, why are you so intent on pursuing your own Iraq-sized war on goodness, truth and apple pie?
I’ve said my peace. I’ll say no more.
I hereby declare myself the Winner of this thread.
Your citation refutes you. I was going to point you earlier to this section you quoted,
In the course of history tyrants have arisen from time to time who have oppressed their own people and threatened the world. Such is adjudged to be the case presently, and consequently great and terrifying forces with sophisticated and fearsome armaments have been engaged in battle.
But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.
“such is adjudged to be the case presently” by whom? The rest of this sentence says that a consequence of this adjudgment is that powerful elements have been engaged in battle. Was this a consequence of Pres. Hinckley or of some government types so adjudging? Clearly Pres. Hinckley’s conclusion would have no such consequence (unless Iraq was a Danite operation) but such a conclusion by government officials would and did have that consequence.
Pres. Hinckley’s language distances him from this adjudgment. He emphasizes this distance by saying national leaders “have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally” — e.g. him. He’s being very careful here to distance himself himself from the decision to commit those powerful forces in Iraq; he specifically lays responsibility for it in the laps of national leaders who have information that he does not have.
Is gst also in charge of closing threads on T&S?
Rigel, I read and enjoyed your comments at MM. It’s not going away, though I’m sure you will notice some big changes as John revamps the site to what his original vision was. Many of the permas from MM have banded together and will create a new (yet to me named) blog. I’m sure I will have an announcement about the new blog on my Personal blog (Mormon Heretic–just click my name), so you’re welcome to hang out at my blog for the short term, though it is a bit more sedentary than these group blogs. I will something when we’re ready.
@90: Seth R. –
I have a difficult time imagining what it must be like to craft every blog post or comment with an eye to the effect one’s words might have on the LDS leadership, but it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. Maybe that explains the general level of crankiness in these parts. In any case, if my earlier comment #37 didn’t make this clear, I think the efficacy argument is inane and very nearly insane. It screams Stockholm syndrome.
Yes, for the purposes of insulting me, let’s put brackets around your own prolific (and laudable) efforts to engage “the rest of America” (or at least gay America) on your pet topic of Mormonism. Pot.kettle.black.
Please be aware that the majority of Mormon Matters writers are not going to drop out of blogging. There is a new blog under works.
And of course, Times & Seasons ain’t a bad place. It’s just intolerable to comment here because comment subscription by email alludes Kaimi and co.
…and I pressed “enter” exactly as I realized that the proper spelling of “elude” had eluded me.
Referring us back up to #37 is fairly burdensome, but I did scroll, and I did appreciate it.
The discussion here has wandered far and wide, but I would like to reiterate that this post is all about credibility. I don’t know that anyone really writes with an eye to the effect one’s words have on leadership, and I agree with Chino that such a method wouldn’t be fun.
We all write, however, to persuade, and to persuade requires credibility and trust. That means reporting accurately, using measured words, and not giving someone reason to distrust what you say.
I’ll be closing this thread tonight around midnight, Eastern. In the mean time, go back to whatever it is y’all were discussing. Carry on.
President Hinckley said he used the Moroni Test to inform his personal feelings and loyalties, and implied that we should do the same. But he does not say what he concluded from the Moroni Test, and certainly didn’t say anything about what we should conclude. We can try to read between the lines, but if we do so, that means we’re just reading between the lines. The words on the page are not so clear-cut as you seem to think.
“I don’t know, man. But I probably wouldn’t compare the war in Iraq with Captain Moroni.”
But it sounds like you did indeed compare them. And after comparing them, you found that the two situations are quite dissimilar. President Hinckley also compared them, but didn’t explicitly tell us what he concluded, leaving that for us to decide.
As far as “such is adjudged,” it has already been pointed out it was not GBH that made the judgment, since it was not his judgment that led to battle.
to persuade requires credibility and trust. That means reporting accurately, using measured words, and not giving someone reason to distrust what you say.
Maybe not; I just strolled through the comments following HuffPost’s posting on Elder Jensen’s apology — they’ve achieved group persuasion by eschewing your criteria.
128 : manaen – I looked at the comments on HuffPo, and the only thing I really learned is that our readers and commenters here at T&S are pretty smart.