Discussion, Advocacy, and Some Thoughts on Practical Reasoning

I am saddened by Kate Kelly’s excommunication. I wish that events had played out differently. Excommunication in this case strikes me as the worst outcome for all concerned, although obviously my opinion on this matter does not – and should not – matter. I believe her when she says that the decision is extremely painful for her and her family. They have my sympathy and my prayers.

I do worry that part of the public meaning that she and her supporters are assigning to her excommunication is both inaccurate and potentially destructive. In her letter to her bishop, she wrote:

Please keep in mind that if you choose to punish me today, you are not only punishing me. You are punishing hundreds of women and men who have questions about female ordination, and have publicly stated them. You are punishing thousands of Mormons who have questions and concerns with gender inequality in the church and want a place to voice those concerns in safety. You are punishing anyone with a question in their heart who wants to ask that question vocally, openly and publicly.

This is not true, and to the extent that others believe it is true, Mormon discussions, the Church, and the community of the saints will be harmed. Unfortunately, the letter from Kelly’s stake president seemed to state that the only appropriate discussion of feminist concerns was in private or confined to private meetings with priesthood leaders. I do not believe that this is an accurate statement of Church policy, and I can only conclude either that the condition was specific pastoral counsel to Kelly or a mistake. In light of this statement, I understand why many people are concerned. Even if one acknowledges that the Church tolerates and welcomes “discussion” while viewing “advocacy” or “activism” with suspicion, it seems reasonable to me that folks are concerned. There is a sense in which every discussion in which one presents reasons for belief is an effort to persuade

However, it simply isn’t the case that the Church wants to shut down unsponsored discussions of difficult questions. The experience of T&S, BCC, FMH and other blogs over the last ten years gives lie to this claim, and I am willing to bet good money that in a year’s time there will be all of these blogs having the same discussions. I don’t know exactly how to draw the line between discussion and advocacy, but I think it has a great deal to do with the institutional and symbolic vocabulary that one uses and the way that the discussion positions itself vis-a-vis the Church. It’s a muddy line and one whose wisdom can be questioned, but I actually don’t think it’s that hard to navigate.

I am pretty sure that many long-time participants in Mormon intellectual discussions recognized instinctively that what Ordain Women is doing is quite different than what they had been doing. Indeed, part of the reason that OW have created so much public attention is precisely because they are doing something quite different than what had been happening in the Bloggernacle for the last ten years, even if it is difficult to articulate precisely what is different. In my view, those kinds of inarticulate instincts based on long experience are a pretty good practical guide. Figuring out how to articulate them is hard, but generally speaking I don’t think that means the instincts are wrong.

“It is the great virtue of the common law that it decides the case first and figures out the reason later,” said Justice Cardozo, and I don’t think it’s just a virtue of the common law. I suspect that most sound practical reasoning works this way: You try to live a virtuous life as defined mainly by tradition and authority that one trusts, one gets lots of experience, one then has strong intuitions, prejudices, and instincts about practical action. Generally these instincts are right, occasionally they are wrong. We struggle to come up with provisional articulations of principles that might guide further action and the building up of further experience. We are always beginning in the middle of things and we are never really acting based on the logical implications of first principles. When we try to act entirely on the basis of logical deduction from first principles, we are probably going to be led into doing stupid things. It’s not a particularly heroic view of practical reasoning, but I think it’s probably right.

I am not writing this out of Schadenfreude or to attack her. I am happy to give someone in the maelstrom of an emotionally wrenching experience the benefit of the doubt. However, I do think that it would be extremely unfortunate if the meaning of this event becomes that the Church wishes to silence those that publicly discuss difficult questions. I do not believe that this is true, and while I can understand why someone would reject a distinction between discussion and advocacy, in practice negotiating such a distinction is entirely possible, even if one might wish for more explicit guidance on where the line between one and the other lies.

63 comments for “Discussion, Advocacy, and Some Thoughts on Practical Reasoning

  1. I think a few differences are pretty easy to articulate: (1) Stating explicitly that their purpose is to “agitate for change. (2) Acting on said purpose in public ways specifically designed to gain widespread notoriety, in ways that, while respectful, are clearly probing the boundaries of what many reasonable observers would regard as protest (if quiet) or confrontation (if only by passive-aggressive civil disobedience). (3) Organizing a large coherent movement, with officers, instructions for action, official channels of communication, a standardized curriculum, etc.

  2. With the proliferation of Internet discussions of LDS doctrine, practices, and history, the church realized that it could no longer control the conversation about Mormonism. The church, to its credit, adapted quickly to this, even going so far recently as to assume a seat at the table in such discussions by publishing online position papers via Gospel Topic entries on lds.org. The challenge is that the church is not willing to cede similar ground when it comes to the activities of it members. Kate Kelly’s excommunication demonstrates this.

    There is a sharp incongruity between the increasing equality that women experience in the world and the lack of equality that they experience at church. As Claudia Bushman put it, “Women have come a long way in the last 40 years, just not in the Mormon church.” Indeed, the old arguments between feminists and non-feminists (are there are still both) seem quaint and bizarre in retrospect. In 1992, Hillary Clinton was questioned about her choice to pursue a career when her husband sought the US presidency, and she responded, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.” Neither this line of questioning nor Hillary Clinton’s barbed response make much sense within the framework of 21st century discourse.

    Maxine Hank’s 1992 book (the one for which she was excommunicated) titled Women and Authority, bore the subtitle Re-emerging Mormon Feminism. That was 22 years ago. Church leaders likely consider themselves fortunate to have some respite between the periodic re-emergence of Mormon Feminism. One has to wonder how long they’ll continue to be so lucky, because every year, more and more Mormons come of age who never even knew that women working outside the home was once considered a primary threat to the unity of families, and they see no obvious reason to relegate women to those roles outside of the priesthood hierarchy.

    Moreover, given the hazy difference between speech as expression and behavior as expression, one has to wonder whether church leaders’ most recent attempt to squash Mormon Feminism’s latest re-emergence will end up demonstrating to them that they were mistaken to have supposed that they could cede control of the conversation without also ceding control of the activities to which the conversations gave rise.

  3. Some excellent thoughts, Nate. I think you could have safely left off the “or a mistake” phrase in reference to the SP’s request that Sister Kelly address her questions and concerns in a private manner. The purpose of his letter was clearly pastoral, and was responding to the particular manner in which she was acting. As you say, on blogs like this people have been pursuing many of the same kinds of questions in a highly public manner for a very long time, with no sign that the church objects. So, to draw conclusions about public discussion in general from the response to Kate Kelly is to ignore a whole forest in one’s reaction to a single tree.

  4. Intriguing and articulate. Might be correct. Irrelevant to me personally for some crazy reason because it doesn’t make me feel better or more at ease when contemplating attending church. I feel more like an outsider than ever.

  5. Christian C,

    I think you need to add 4) being warned that you are doing wrong and chooses to continue doing it.

    Also, I’d like to point out that I agree with Nate that giving Kate the benefit of the doubt about how difficult and hard this is and will be on her family is more than fair. As one of the more vocal supporters of the church’s actions here on T&S, I hope nobody thinks I have anything personal against KK. I have no personal emnity for her and hope she and her family live happy and full lives, and that repentence will allow her a way back into the church.

  6. “I actually don’t think it’s that hard to navigate.” I agree with this. The line is pretty simple, and has been drawn clearly by church leaders such as Dallin Oaks, who declared that “it is wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.” As T&S and BCC and the entire faithful Bloggernacle attests, the church tolerates a wide variety of opinions and robust discussions about Mormon doctrine, history, and culture. What is not tolerated is any degree of disloyalty, questioning, or criticism of the Brethren. Ordain Women crossed that line. When the Brethren spoke (particularly Dallin Oaks at the April 2014 General Conference), the thinking had been done, and it was time for Sister Kelly to fold up her tent, go home, and get back into the party line. John Dehlin understands this; it’s why he was so careful for so many years to never say a bad word about the Brethren, even as he pushed the envelope on a whole host of doctrinal subjects. Once he started questioning and criticizing some of the decisions and actions of the Brethren, he ventured out onto thin ice. It remains to be seen whether he will scurry back to safety (as he has done before) or whether he will stand his ground and suffer the inevitable consequence. There are many difficult questions that the church is quite comfortable letting the Bloggernacling navel-gazers talk about. You must admit, however, that some “difficult questions” are off limits (unless the predetermined, church correlated pat answer is quickly arrived at). Could Nate Oman long be immune from church discipline if he were to entertain such questions as “why doesn’t Thomas Monson receive any revelations”? if the answer arrived at were anything other than “it’s the members’ fault”? The Brethren do not cotton to being criticized; they brook no dissent. That many “difficult questions” can be discussed by members online without suffering Kate Kelly’s fate is true enough; but it’s not the whole story. Certain questions are off the table from the start, a fact you implicitly recognize with your comment that it’s not that “hard to navigate.” Avoid criticizing the Brethren–even if the criticism is true–and most likely you will not need to worry about being summoned to a court of love any time soon. For those who may have wondered, the Brethren have made it abundantly clear that advocating for female ordination equals criticizing the Brethren. And anyone doing so has now been more than adequately warned, such that any such agitators will not be justified in expressing surprise should they receive an invitation to a disciplinary proceeding as Kate Kelly was.

  7. Christian C, (1) Stating explicitly that their purpose is to “agitate for change.
    This is a confusing thing for myself and others I know (i am not affiliated w/ Ordain Women). President Hinkley made a statement during an interview that things weren’t changing for women because their was “no agitation for it.”
    So women spoke up and “agitated” (is that a word?) and now it seems that is not okay.

  8. Elle,

    We hear constantly on these blogs how the brethren aren’t infallible and make mistakes. Has anyone considered that Pres. Hinckley made a mistake in his statement? That he conveyed the wrong message, or worded it poorly so that many now think agitation acceptable/desirable/required?

    Just a thought

  9. I was struck about this whole thing when I was reading in preparation for the Sunday school lesson from this last Sunday as David had many opportunities to kill Saul and chose not to. Saul was clearly waging a campaign against David, had tried many times to kill him, had been told that the right to rule given to him by God was taken away and passed on to David. In short, David had the right and the opportunity to kill Saul, but did not because he was appointed by the Lord and he was king. Supporting your leaders, even when you believe they are in the wrong, and even when you know they are in the wrong is a hard thing to do, but it’s something we are expected to do and that we have covenanted to do.

  10. I think events have shown beyond reasonable dispute that interpreting Pres. Hinkley’s off-the-cuff remark to a reporter to mean they would welcome and invite “agitation” has proven to be a profoundly mistaken reading of the FP and Q12’s position. I also think that responding to that remark as a gauntlet to be taken up has proven to be serious strategic error on OW’s part.

    I should make clear that in commenting here and above I am not taking sides or opining on the “justice” of the situation as it has developed. I sympathize with the notion that members can hope and pray and inquire, including publicly, about the Brethren seeking revelation. In my comment above I was simply noting some differences between OW’s activities and the Mormon blogging I observed in past years, in response to Nate’s post. And in the previous paragraph of this comment I am simply trying to give an objective description of what I see as the leaders’ and OWs’ positions relative to each other; not “taking sides.”

  11. We have to bear in mind that “the Church” does not and cannot control the public reaction to Sister Kelly’s excommunication. All that effort showing Mormons to be normal, happy, industrious, wholesome, but mainly and most importantly not odd or strange can be seriously undermined by actions such as this. The image of a bunch of men telling a lone woman, without an advocate, after she has moved away from the congregation to stay in her place is not going to go away quickly. It will set back missionary efforts, at least among those who are feminists or those who are sympathetic to them.

  12. I don’t think the existence for the bloggernacle is really evidence that church leaders are as open to these conversations as it would seem. The reality is the discussions on these are blogs are pretty self-limiting. In the span of time that All Enlisted and now Ordain Women have been staging public actions, the level of discourse about women’s issues in the church generally has reached a pitch that even the most passionate blog posts could never achieve. If a poster here could get the church’s attention in the way Ordain Women has done, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume, given the logic in Kelly’s letter from her Bishop, that they would be subject to discipline as well.

  13. Thank you for analyzing this really important topic, Nate.

    You wrote, “I do worry that part of the public meaning that she and her supporters are assigning to her excommunication is both inaccurate and potentially destructive.” I agree. I would add that, based on the comments I’ve seen online, many conservative Mormons are promoting the same take-away lesson as Kelly: It’s okay to have questions, but resolve them privately.

  14. Sunday evening I was discussing the impending excommunication of Sister Kelly at a church meeting. One brother said “they can all get out” while motioning his hand behind his head for emphasis. A counselor in my Stake Presidency said twice “there are a lot of churches…they need to go start their own”. I was shocked by the lack of compassion and mean spiritedness that these two demonstrated by their comments. I am saddened by behavior like this. I believe it is not in line with the teachings of our leaders. I hope to see more love demonstrated in the future.

  15. I wonder if the cases of Denver Snuffer and perhaps more especially Brent Larson complicate this analysis. I’m not advocating for either of them, and admit that they are extreme cases, but Brent in particular seems to have been disciplined for what he said, not how he said it. It seems he was told clearly not to discuss his pet topics with anyone but his wife.

  16. I’m reposting my comment from another article, because i have concerns. As Mark said I have seen this kind of behavior by leaders the world over. Far worse than I could say. It’s a big concern! I think a lot could be done to better the mentality. You get the sense some local leaders don’t care what Christ wants or even the prophets.

    Why do I seem so bothered? because it is clear the church is lying about whether they had anything to do with this. Excommunicating her was not the wrong decision and yes I have great compassion (she went astonishingly way to far) but the those who wear the cloak of God (and don’t even seem to know it which includes spokespersons for the church) have made the greater error here by standing in those sacred and blessed positions (spokes lady included) and lied and lied!!! Should we not make a deal out of this????

    I think people are coming down a little to hard on priesthood leaders, though I think many people have had bad experiences with some leaders and automatically think the worst. That does not mean no bad was done here by those we expect to lead by example.

    One thing on Kate Kely and one thing on the leadership in Virginia. How Kate Kelly could possibly be s blind is beyond me, to think going on SACRED ground at a very sacred TIME and putting the prophets and apostles on the spot like that is not an astonishing act nearly unheard of in the history of this church (literally the Lords) and to stir such a storm is not unbelievably out of line is just ludicrous. truly, SATAN has deceived many here.

    On the weaknesses of an unpaid clergy that usually has full time jobs along with other problems, how can a church leader wait until Kate leaves the state to take such very serious action? I’m not gonna lie but there does seem to be a recklessness (not to the extent some are saying) here by church leaders that in and of itself undermines the church.

    We can say this is all Kates fault (the churches shortcomings) but that does not give men an excuse who hold the holy priesthood and seem not to get it to be so unprofessional and reckless. And am I wrong or is our church lying about (i don’t know, but even Gods people fall short) not knowing about this and this being all initiated by local leaders, even though other Mormons are being summoned for discipline?

  17. When I say people are coming down to hard on priesthood leaders I am referring to the long list of accusations against Kellys bishop and stake president. That does not mean wrong was not done by him or others or that it should not concern anyone

  18. The book Righteous Mind: why people disagree on politics and religion scientifically discusses the process justice cordozo described.

  19. By the way, when I said even the prophets I meant some local leaders don’t seem to care to much what they teach. As far as our prophets this church is blessed!

  20. Don’t challenge the brethren’s authority or embarrass the church and you won’t be in trouble. After extensive research, I no longer believe they have any authority beyond what the leaders of any club have. Having said that, the brethren have every right to define their club rules and exclude “agitators” for change of the club rules. If you don’t like the stifling authoritarian correlated thought, then leave like I did because in reality, the brethren can only take so much free thinking when it comes to their power and they have shown time and again that they will engage in boundary maintenance like they’re doing now.

  21. Unfortunately, the letter from Kelly’s stake president seemed to state that the only appropriate discussion of feminist concerns was in private or confined to private meetings with priesthood leaders. I do not believe that this is an accurate statement of Church policy, and I can only conclude either that the condition was specific pastoral counsel to Kelly or a mistake.

    Nate, recent events have made it clear that the LDS Church’s policy and doctrine are whatever some bishop in suburban Virginia says they are.

    WaPo 6/24/2014:

    The Utah-based LDS church, when asked for comment, referred to [Bishop Mark] Harrison’s letter […]

  22. btw, Nate, contributors to Times and Seasons “advocate” for changes to the LDS Church all the time. they just don’t have the skill and/or guts to actually make their suggestions heard by the people who matter in SLC. Kate Kelly did — that’s the only difference between her and you.

  23. The nature of revelation allows for discussion and supplication, but “demands” all but preclude the intended change from happening while the demands are still in play. In much the same way the Church rarely, if ever, pays ransoms for kidnapped missionaries. Were they to do so it would set a precedent that is untenable. The very acts of OW, particularly their use of temple grounds and general conference as their points of focus, created an environment where it was impossible for the very change for which they advocated to happen. The temple will not become a place of protest. They would close the doors and shut it down first.

    As the furor dies with time, as it inevitably does, changes that can be made will move forward, policies clarified, and many of the things discussed in the bloggernacle will start to see the light of day. The changes already made, to my mind, are a harbinger of things to come. Though I don’t believe ordination is necessary, nor will it happen. We shall see in time.

    I touched on my second thought a bit. The choice of using temple grounds, particularly at conference as a tactic was ill conceived from the beginning. The offense of creating a spectacle at that time and place in many ways belies the misunderstandings that permeated much of the rhetoric coming from OW. It was not just an “offense”, it was offensive to many members (very probably a majority), and certainly Church leadership. The use of sacred things to publicly criticize the brethren, policy or doctrine is fundamentally flawed in every conceivable way, if actual change (other than your own excommunication) is genuinely desired. In particular after the letter was sent telling them to go where the other protesters are, the final outcome was all but assured.

    One of the skills a competent attorney will possess is the ability to read a situation to its eventual outcome and act accordingly. This implies to me that either she isn’t that good at her trade and severely misread the situation, or she committed excommunication by Bishop (as opposed to suicide by cop) in an attempt to become some kind martyr. Either way I hope she can reassess and find a path back.

  24. Agree with 22. OW had more influence in a year than all the discussion over the years.

    Perhaps this might precipitate a feedback system, like I understand the US gov has for present and future legislation?

    If there was a means of communicating with the top leaders, this would have been unneccary.

  25. What would it have hurt if they would have been permitted to sit in the tabernacle during the priesthood session? Where would this all be today if that had been the case? Interesting hypothetical.

  26. That’s a good question, Mark. The church has a long history of kicking against the pricks. Back when the Tanners were making a business of publishing documents leaked from the church archives, the church could have stolen their thunder by publishing the documents themselves — something they actually started to do decades later.

    The church’s reaction to OW seems to be par for the course. Why do church leaders, when confronted with challenges where the wisest course would seem to be increased openness, react out of fear?

  27. Nate, I think Kate Kelly often uses “ask a question” as sort of a euphemism for “express a disagreement”. Her writing is easier to follow once you realize this. Also, I think that “vocally, openly, and publicly” means “in a manner that has a good chance of getting top church leaders to pay attention and respond”.

    When you get past the euphemisms to what (I think) she is actually saying, it seems that she does have a legitimate point. It is not currently very easy to express disagreements or concerns in a way that forces the leadership to pay attention.

    Should it be easier? Well, that really is a question.

  28. Why do church leaders, when confronted with challenges where the wisest course would seem to be increased openness, react out of fear?

    What is the basis for this question? Why do you assume that they are afraid instead of inspired? I’ve seen no evidence that they aren’t fulfilling their duties as desired by the Lord. Can you point to some?

    Many KK supporters seem to think that the LDS leadership (local and general) have acted contrary to Christ’s will? can anyone point out any evidence that Christ doesn’t want apostates excommunicated? Or KK specifically? Is there some scripture? perhaps telling us to no worry about wolves roaming among the sheep (Matt 7:15)? Or that it’s okay if we aren’t “one” but instead splintered by a group agitating for their own angrandizement(D&C 38:27)? Or maybe one saying that it doesn’t matter what doctrines we hold, so long as we use his name(3 nephi 27:8)? Or telling us that the preisthood shouldn’t be used to keep iniquity out of the church (D&C 20:54)? Any scriptural support at all that they have acted poorly in Christ’s name? Any other support for this idea??

  29. We hear constantly on these blogs how the brethren aren’t infallible and make mistakes. Has anyone considered that Pres. Hinckley made a mistake in his statement? That he conveyed the wrong message, or worded it poorly so that many now think agitation acceptable/desirable/required?

    I have been thinking about this lately. I would also like to note that in that same interview, President Hinckley plainly stated that drinking caffeine was against the Word of Wisdom.

  30. I read around the edges of the blogernacle from time to time. I have been surprised by the stir this action by the bishop of the Vienna ward has caused. Imagine the scene outside the building where the meeting was held on Sunday night. Its purpose was to try and influence the men to accede to Kate Kelly’s wishes.

    I am also surprised that people think this is some kind of new thing. Does no one remember the Sonia Johnson affair. Spencer Kimball had left out part of his revelation about all worthy males, she said. She set out to fix it.She was the faithful Mormon woman who gave a speech in New York City SShewhich included words that asked the listeners to turn the missionaries away until women had been given the priesthood.

    Even before that in Kirtland, Missouri and Nauvoo there were those who called Joseph Smith a fallen prophet. They claimed they could get revelation the same as he did. That is where the policy was born.

    Yes, everyone can receive revelation for their stewardship, for their own lives and sometimes they can receive revelation about doctrines and meanings of scriptures; but only the prophet, seer and revelator can receive revelation for the running of the church. Only the head of the church has a stewardship for the whole church. Ms Kelly decided she could start her own organization that would be able to push the prophet to do something she wanted done. She never once said she might be mistaken in her actions.

    Everyone is all upset about OW. That is not what it is about at all. She met with the local leadership while she still lived in the Vienna ward. The bishop issued a probation. She moved and told him by letter she would do none of the things he said she must do. Power struggles always end on the side of the one with the most power. That it ended as it did should surprise no one.

  31. @Mark 25:

    What would it have hurt if they would have been permitted to sit in the tabernacle during the priesthood session? Where would this all be today if that had been the case? Interesting hypothetical.

    Have you heard the fable about the camel asking to have his nose in the tent?

  32. I don’t think the decision to excommunicate Kelly was wrong. What she did in my eyes was unbelievably serious and off the wall. However, leaders may have gone about this wrong. Without getting into that, I will point out one thing that bothers me that people seem to be overlooking.

    Three bloggers from California to Virginia were summoned for discipline. How can anyone believe this is just a coincidence? This is what bothers me most that the church is being disingenuous and dishonest.

    Most, even those who are defending the brethren know it. I’m not even saying that they are wrong in doing so initiating this cleansing. If the prophet or an apostle was moved upon that’s fine with me, even if it trumped scripture on these matters. What bothers me is the dishonesty and just how foolish it is in a strategic sense.

    How can we trust the priesthood when there are so many lies, especially at a local level?

  33. Aaron, that these didn’t all happen at one time is a pretty strong indication that it wasn’t coordinated. If it was all of these people would have received letters the same day, not just a few here and there. The church have clarified their position on apostocy recently, but that is a far cry from coordinating a “purge”. I don’t see where anyone has “lied” at any point.

    If it was a coordinated effort, the bretheren are well aware of the media implications and would have instructed a specific day for both the meetings, and time to have completed the councils. By doing this they would have had one big boom in the media, but like all other things, it would have faded quickly. As it is, it is just the normal flow of bishops working through things with people, set deadlines not being met, and things progressing as they will with each individual with each leader. The fact some have happened simultaneously is more a cause of precipitating events than coordination.

    One can coose to see bogeymen anywhere one wishes. Have leaders lied? Yes, wrongly as have we all. They are human. Is this one of those cases? I don’t believe so. Is there a coordinated coverup here? No.

    Remember too, you only get one side of any of these. The leaders involved cannot and will not discuss any particulars as a matter of their calling. When you only get half a conversation, you get a very skewed set of facts that often lead far from the truth. You have no idea how much time and preliminary work went into any of these other than the word of the individuals. What makes them so trustworthy that you will cast aside the limited statements of leaders in favor of theirs?

  34. Comparing KK to Sonia Johnson is apples to oranges. Kate did not ridicule any known revelation. She did not belittle the church or the Brethren. She expressed her faith in them, in fact. She publicly recognized that revelation must come to those who hold keys and acknowledged that she has no keys. She set up her website and organized her group of women to faithfully agitate, based on Pres. Hinckley’s statement on national television that there was no current agitation taking place on this matter.

    To me, who is not an OW affiliate or supporter, it seemed their whole website and marching to Priesthood session was, and is respectful to the church. At first I was just shocked, I admit. I thought, “you can’t do such things in the church—it’s not seemly!” But then, I bagan studying their website and have read every profile. I have prayed many times about OW endeavors. Of course, I may be mis-interpreting the spirit, but I have felt inspired that they are inspired in their words and actions. That said, I would have not marched in April when asked to stand down. I think their cause is just—to beseech our leaders to ask, seek, and knock on this matter for revelation. As they have not brought revelation from God to the membership to ratify by common consent, we can be assured that no answer has come yet, or perhaps even that no asking has been done.

    As to the six discussions, I never perceived these as any form of recruitment. I’ve seen them as tools to help explain how women and men who support greater equality in the church reach their conclusions—they explain their opinions. Many people have an intuitive inclination toward further equality and face simple to vehement opposition from family members. I thought it was an act toward peace-making and peace-keeping to create the discussions for those who, in the heat of many contentious moments, could draw on these discussions in part or full measure to explain why they believe as they do.

    Of course, I could be wholly wrong. Or partially. I think mistakes were made in the wording of some parts in the discussions. The profiles have greatly touched my heart. I’m embarrassed that I had sort presumed they’d be full of angst and bitterness toward men and patriarch ides. Instead, I was delighted to see the profiles are full of love and hope, respect, and honor toward the proper channel of revelation.

    What I first was skeptical of became a place to see the goodly powers of women put to use by gentleness (marching reverently to priesthood sessions after hymns and prayers), meekness (acknowledging that they are not ordained or called to seek further light and knowledge for the church) and love-unfeigned (never denigrating leaders or members who disagree with them, as is often the case toward them on the blogger able).

    I feel I have grown to understand these members who do ask this blessing of our Brethren–to seek the Lord’s will today on this matter–to a much greater degree. I was never overtly rude to a “feminist” but I confess that in my heart I judged them as being “those people” “others” “power-hungry” “haughty” and so on. I thought I was meek and humble and had no beams in my own eyes.

    I’m grateful for OW in this regard. They have taught me true things about themselves and their reasonings. I don’t agree with all their opinions, but to me, they are not apostate people. Yet, I have faith in church courts if those in authority are truly seeking the Lord’s will regarding a person’s eternal covenants and ordinances.

    I wish so much her Bishop had met with her, or the Stake president over the course of this past year. I wish they had said specific things they found unacceptable in word or action and why this was so doctrinally. I wish the leaders would have accepted one of their invitations to meet in person because someone’s intent and heart can be sooo misunderstood when reading mere words. It is by being together in the same room, having prayer and then visiting together that greater understanding comes.

    I’m very sad for us all that this is the result of the matter. It’s difficult to convince my friends who are not members that the church is delicious and true when their two greatest objections to investigating are that 1) the church is far too controlling telling us what music to listen to, movies to watch, what to eat and drink, what to wear, how to think properly, and 2) the lack of women in the governing bodies of the church. No matter what I say or how I testify, they believe I am brainwashed and cannot see the forest for the trees. Excommunicating Kate brought phone calls of their ire and disdain — “What is the matter with you people?!

    I believe they have a point, to a point. I believe we could find kinder ways to deal with agitation. But, it is what it now is, and I will do my best to pick up the pieces once more.

  35. Actually they were all summoned within a matter of days. It does not have to be on the same day if it was influenced by Salt Lake. Is it also not true that Elder Ballard and Elder Clayton just happen to be in Dehlins stake and Kellys of all the stakes in the church?

    I am sure there were others they were in, but this and the timing of all three bloggers makes clear there was another influence. Also, the third blogger Rock Waterman says his bishop said an area authority initiated it.

    If it was coordinated the last thing any leaders would do who don’t want blow-back would make it appear too coordinated. As far as the media, to do both on the same day would have made it looked coordinated and what about the strengthening the members committe?

    Even if it was not coordinated and that is very hard to believe (it came from the top with the September six and more recently Denver Snuffer) the higher ups should have stepped in to make sure things went right in harmony with all our values.

    John Dehlins stake president writes some letter using all this love language and had never even met John while in the same breath making it clear he wants John out of the church, referring him to resign or face church discipline.

    Ya I know his former stake president had already worked with him, but decided to issue NO discipline of any sorts and then this new MAN comes into office and immediately seeks to excommunicate him. This doesnt seem odd to anyone?

    By the way Wonko, your points are good and strong, but I’m just not sure I can believe Salt Lake had nothing to do with this, which I personally would have NO problem with. I actually think Salt Lake needs to be more involved and more connected with stake presidents. Most I’ve known are allowed to run there stakes to some extent how they want. Area authorities tell them “you have the keys.” A greatly misunderstood truth in this church.

  36. Sharon, I don’t want to lay this all out, but how you can possibly believe that Kates actions were not a serious violation of the sacred is beyond me. While church leaders may not be perfect Kate Kelly needed to be released from the church. We have enough problems as it is and we don’t need what she would have continued to bring as an active member. She put our entire church on the spot when she decided to make an unprecedented scene on the grounds at Temple Square and at one the most sacred occasions.

    For you guys to not be able to even consider the possibility that maybe what she did was way out of line is baffling. I suspect those gambling in the temple thought they were doing something “non violent” calm beneficial in some way. Kate took a huge gamble by publicly disgracing the foundation of the church built on prophets and apostles. It does not matter if she used trickery and did not specifically attack certain leaders. Her actions spoke volumes and in the Lords church things work differently than they do in the world. It did not have to be proven that she specifically went after certain people.

    And this dishonest argument that she only wanted the prophet to pray is just a bunch of baloney. She even said she would not stop this. She even said she believed the Lord would someday give females the priesthood. Kate was absolutely deceived as so many are in setting themselves up with disappointment and then claiming its the churches fault.

    We see this when some members leave and claim the church has not been honest when for the most part it would be foolish and unnecessary for the church to focus on all aspects of Josephs Smiths life as though that matters. The church and the Book Of Mormon ask people to pray about it. You receive an answer or you don’t. It promises answers from God and that is what is important, not whether Joseph hid polygamy from Emma for a time-it must have been hard on him! You guys who are being fooled into Kates shenanigans are setting yourselves up.

    If God really loves Kate, as imperfect as Mormons and many of its leaders are, than the only choice was to let Kate go and let her do some thinking. It was good for everyone!!!!!!!!! She simply could not be allowed to continue in this way for the her good and everyone elses.

    The question is will Kate display a true spirit of love and humility and recognize how blind she has been and the serious error of her way? I mean she claims she knows this church is true and that God has placed these imperfect leaders in those positions.

    While I may not agree with every word that comes from a church leader at any given moment, I am confident the Lord is closely working with these brothers at the top and He gets what he wants on things especially that big.

    If Kate truly was close to the spirit and had that greatest of all gifts, would she really go this far? Would she really make our church look bad as though were leaving women behind when in fact women who have faith and TRULY sincerely pray can have far more access to the Holy Ghost than even the pope? Absolutely not! Kate was absolutely an apostate in almost the worst way.

    One side note. I have notices though she smiles often, a coldness about her. Some smiles come from different places. She seemed lacking warmth, love, etc. She seemed kind of like a doll to me. I could see the light was dimmed. I can assure you only Satan would inspire someone to go this far against this church. We do not know what God knows, but something seemed real off to me about Kate Kelly, which is fine, many are sick or on there own level, but the point is she was far from the spirit. There could be other problems with her as well.

  37. Not that the pope has access, but Kate Kelly and other Mormon women have far more blessings if they could see it than the world in general.

  38. Someone should do a deeper investigative piece about Comrade Kelly before Ordain Women. when as champion of the proletariat she co-founded Mormon May Day.
    “On May 1st 2010, International Workers’ Day, or May Day, we will participate in local May Day festivities and organize ‘Social Justice and the Gospel’ Teach-ins/Firesides all across the country.”

  39. Sharon, you seem well intentioned and fairly reasonable, except on not seeing how far Kate went. Who cares if Kate did not come across as violent and was careful to make a smiley sells pitch? What does that have to do with anything? Lets not forget the war in heaven where we helped cast Satan and 1/3 third out of heaven for there position and defiance and BLINDNESS as a result of pride and other things.

    Do you really believe Satan was able to deceive so many without coming across as harmless as Kate does to some? He must have been far more likable than her and even honest in appearance and tone and having peoples best interest at heart. This whole argument that the protest was gentle, etc, is sad. Her actions are what spoke loudly! It was beyond disrespectful what she did and she still displays an arrogance and defiance that can only be assigned to one so prideful.

    Personally I believe there is more going on here with Kate. Who would feel so small, so deprived in the Lords church unless they were feeling this about other areas of there life, (looks, how you perceive people to perceive you)whether they knew it or not. I’m not sure she has kids and am not sure how great her marriage is, but this movement and protesting is coming from a deeply negative place (perhaps even some bad experiences with church leaders or mission) within her. They say miserable people like to bring down others and can become very dark in the way they think. She is also unusually defiant. This church really does have some great women. Ladies so sweet and happy and humble and Christlike and that is REAL POWER! I don’t see them protesting.

    There is nothing about this that is inspired or in harmony with the restored gospel and the Savior. And who knows, maybe the timing of her move to Utah and soon Africa has some divine correlation behind it, to remove her as far as possible and give her time to think. Hopefully she wont misinterpret Gods tender mercies and continue in this defiant and prideful state. It will seal the deal on where her testimony really is when it comes to the restoration and that as imperfect as the leaders are, that God is running the show and highly influences this people like no other people on earth.

    The OW movement undermines the atonement of Jesus Christ. It makes people feel like His churches doctrines are not good enough. It causes people to loose sight of just how great the blessings we have are. It undermines far more than can be said. Yes, the church can use improvement, but this what she does is on a whole other level like we have not seen and Kate Kelly continues to show a defiance and a negativity that can come from her own weaknesses and magnified by Satan and those who cheer her on and believe me, the adversary has much to do with this.

  40. Ben H: “So, to draw conclusions about public discussion in general from the response to Kate Kelly is to ignore a whole forest in one’s reaction to a single tree.”

    You can be sure the letter was at the very least vetted by people higher up the chain than the Bishop. It was pretty clear that there were rhetorical advances in the letter intended for a wider audience, and seeing that the Church through the Deseret News was the first to publicize the whole letter, if I understand correctly, it stands to reason that it was written with more than Kate Kelly in mind as audience, though she was the primary.

  41. Aaron: “The OW movement undermines the atonement of Jesus Christ.”

    Then it seems the atonement of Jesus Christ would have to be a very weak thing, indeed. I don’t believe it is that weak and I’m puzzled as to why so many other people don’t see it the way I do.

  42. Aaron, You really have a bee in your bonnet about this. I don’t see that there is much fact in your rants. She was exed because she organised like minded people, and would not agree to remove the OW site. Has it gone now that she has been exed? What has been achieved?

    If your language and ideas are an example of how faithful members are, the Gospel of JesusChrist is very far away. The church has a big problem if your ideas are the result.

  43. Aaron, likewise, your interpretations of Kate Kelly baffle me. You assume your perceptions are obvious and correct. Did you pray about OW? Did you study it? Did you ponder on their words and actions?

    You may be correct. I fully believe that. But my life experience is such that no one is all right and another all wrong. Including me and you. I asked the Lord to help me see Kate and OW the way He sees them, not how I tended to, which was very self-righteous of myself looking down on them. Through this past year of study and humbling myself over and over again, my heart was opened to the love and goodness HF has for them and sees in them. They have made mistakes. So have the Leaders. We must open our hearts to forgive and move forward.

    As to Kate seeming “cold”…… I’ve only seen and heard warmth. Perhaps she is somewhere in between.

    Interpretation is completely subjected to our biases and fallibility. Almost always, when I get to know someone who rubs me the wrong way, I see how fallible my perceptions are. I urge greater prayer for discernment for us all. And I strongly urge less broad and sweeping assumptions toward anyone.

    This difference in perception between you (a male priesthood holder) and I (a female) speaks to the good wisdom that could be gained by having feminine perspectives brought to the courts and decision-making councils of the church. Sometimes women see things men cannot see and vice versa. I think a lot of men feel women are too soft. And often women think men are too hard. And we’re probably correct many times. Is HF too hard or soft? Obviously, He cannot be for He’s perfect. In trying to seek His will, there have been many instances in my marriage where the spirit spoke more balanced to one of us because the other was pretty sure what the Lord would say before even asking. We hear through our lenses of past experience, opinion, bias, and presumption—we are fallen. There are two voices and two genders in a marriage. Both are needed. They’re critical. We need those voices listening for the spirit and we need both genders interpretations to find God’s perfect balance. You condemn her as apostate. I condemn her not as an advocate faithfully agitating. We baffle each other. Let’s seek HF’s thoughts on these perceptions.

  44. Quickmere,

    the atonement of Christ is not weak! You know better than that. Humans are weak and humans can limit there ability to access the power of heaven. Satan is truly deceiving many on this. Some have left the church even because they want a church that allows them to keep there sinful habits and still believe they will fully be saved.

    I would be very careful if I were you in making that argument. Is God weak because he allowed 1/3 to be deceived in a heavenly state before this sphere? God has His reasons and we have the free agency to believe what we want, but yes, OW undermines The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints and all it stands for.

    Women in this church have the potential to have the third member of the Godhead a gift beyond what even men in this world are given and much more. Anything that diminishes from these truths does bring people closer to the spirit of the Lord and having greater access to the atonement. This OW is the spirit of trickery and contention!

    As the Bible says Matt 7:21 not all who say Lord Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many of them preach the atonement.

    Also, keep in mind salvation in light of restored doctrine is completely different than what most people think, even sometimes the members. All will be saved (for the most part) and glorified in a degree of heaven. Even the wicked. So no no church on earth teaches the power of the atonement more than this church, but we also know that there is more and a greater kind of salvation in the Celestial Kingdom.

    So while you might not understand it (that the atonement can be limited by ones actions and those who are influenced) it is nevertheless true. While I believe God will never forsake Kate Kelly (though the spirit itself may withdraw) and I would guess is probably still trying to get her attention and her going to Africa may be divine design, she has been excommunicated and damaged other people in the process. She has limited herself in so many ways.

    Lets not act like we know everything about the atonement as we sometimes do. One of the things we do know in regards to your contention though is someone can damage themselves and there ability to feel the spirit and stunt there eternal prospects and potential.

  45. Thought-provoking as always, Nate. Couple reactions:

    This is basically the conclusion I came to early on–that there would be no effect on the venues for questions and doubts and discussion and debate that have been in place for a decade, but that there would be some more conservative-minded members who would take the news as an excuse to ramp up disapproval of questions, doubts, discussion and debate. It’s too bad that, as you point out, some on the OW side have actively contributed to this narrative that the excommunication means all instances of those activities are threatened or at risk.

    Your arguments about instinct and logic are well taken, and I agree in most contexts. But there are certain genres of questions where our instincts are ill-suited to arriving at a fair conclusion. These are cases where we have been steeped in various -isms to the point where we have a very brain-stem level reaction to things, and that reaction is not correct. The thought of a black man and a white woman kissing used to be like this for many otherwise kind-hearted, loving, educated, wise individuals. When a group of only men (and only men of a certain generation, or in certain kids of marriages) consider a question of women and authority, I wonder if they can truly see clearly with the gut.

  46. Not to get into this to much because it is complicated and I don’t expect to many to understand, but I am not big on discipline. There are many church leaders I disagree with, more on a local level who I think are unChristlike, though I could not speak on any dsiciplinary actions some have taken. My gues is even the not so god leaders are very careful in these settings.

    Do you guys know the stuff the brethren go through? All the temple cancellations? All the letters of abusive spouses and people? There is far more they know we do not that could crush a person who has only a soft side.

    As far as feminine voices adding a different perspective, there is some truth to it. I’ve also known many men to be more compassionate and positive. I really did not find that deep feeling with Kate Kelly. She seemed proud to be a Mormon, but that feeling humility and warmth was lacking. Who could be so defiant and tell her leaders so bombastically she wil not stop her actions which is causing DIVISION and be so sweet and Christlike. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!Elder Holland and others come to mind in having that streak and that is by divine design!!

    The Lord does not need females as apostles to get what He wants and far greater than the insight females could bring is the influence of the spirit. Besides, the brethren counsel with great women constantly. This movement is not inspired of God, but may be used by Him to refine His people, as is the case with the 1/3.

  47. Nate OP,
    Very good thoughts.

    Bryan S. #29,
    Same here. I know I am not immune to being selective in my GA sourcing. As my little brother (inactive) has pointed out to me: Generally we use statements or GA positions that are useful to what we need to validate. Hence, Pres. Utchdorf remarks get elevated above Elder Oaks by some, and vice versa. There’s no counter weight to measure GA statements other than our conscience (at least what we think is our conscience – Jeff G raises an interesting point at NewCoolthang about Liberal Democracy tending to be our go-to counterweight).

  48. Its not that I did not have any willingness to consider where they were coming from or like I saw no good, but that does not mean that what Kate did was not worthy of discipline. You love your children and you listen, but sometimes you need to discipline, though I am not big on discipline at all.

    Its also not because I do not forgive Kate Kelly or have negative feelings. I just love the church and feel so strong about it. I think its time we do an depth study on how the New Testament church collapsed. It was stuff just like this! To many it seemed innocent.

    A bee in my bonnet! What would have justified the church excommunicating her if not what she did? Would she have had to “yell” at the protest? I seriously doubt Satan was yelling in the pre-mortal, just making SINCERE arguments, but do you guys really believe in this doctrine as defined in the Bible and further clarified by GOD in modern revelation- the revolt in heaven? Yes the doctrine that Satan cleverly and calmly conned 1/3 of the pre-mortal spirits? God cast them out. Kind of harsh for a loving God to do don’t you think? Since the atonement was planned from before the foundation of the world then why did it not seem to cover the devil and his minons just a little more?

    Kate Kellys excommunication is an act of mercy in comparison to the 1/3 who were cast out and lost the opportunity to get bodies. As a matter of fact, if Kate Kelly TRULY repents and humbles herself before God and applies the atonement of Christ on a greater level she can re baptized fairly soon. Is this really a severe punishment, or could this be a blessing in disguise from a loving GOD?

    Sisters, I would agree the church has faults. I am about the most fair minded person I know. I am not in denial, but I stand with the brethren on this one. She is undermining the kingdom of God and has defied the requests of her priesthood leaders so much so she proclaimed she will never give it up. This is the spirit of who? Of Heavenly and the Savior? The third member of the Godhead which emanates from Them?

    While you may feel the spirit of God while praying about Kate Kelly as He tries to comfort you, please do not misinterpret for one sec that inspiration, as though you are being told her cause is just and in line with HIM and not the prophets and were not just taking about a prophets opinion here, we are talking about history in which God Himself has made these matters clear and to continue to fight does us no good if it goes to far.

    I do not want to be condescending or disrespectful to any on her side, but I feel the need to speak straightforwardly as I am convinced Satan has deceived Kate and this has clearly had an impact on many people.

    How is this unreasonable? And yes, I see what some of you mean in defining things with terms like conservative minded members, but don’t take that to far. Is it liberal or conservative to believe that God is literally our Father and has a body of flesh and bones? Is it C or L to believe Jesus is the Christ? Is it C or L to believe Joseph was a prophet and that God the FATHER and HIS SON appeared to the BOY! Is it c or l to believe the priesthood was restored and given to MEN as in ancient times? Is it c or l to believe those keys are with the prophets and passed down by divine design to the senior apostle and that though why God cannot literally control every single thought of a church leader at any given moment that these men are unusually close to the Godhead and have the traits and personalities God wanted in those positions of anyone on the face of the earth? Can you doubt this is Gods work?

    Believe me, I do not walk in lockstep with Mormons or leaders, especially local. I have disagreements often. I do not always agree with Republicans or even Conservatives. Even Gods prophets are allowed opinions. He does not hop in there brains and take complete control. He calls them beforehand, like Moses and Joseph, but when not receiving revelation they can have opinions that are flawed. However, on females not receiving the priesthood this is something that has been the case for decades and was the case anciently.

    Keep fighting it and your doing no good to yourself, to the Lord and to His church on this particular point. Sorry to sound like Brigham!

  49. Part of the reason to excommunicate her was no doubt an effort to discredit her as a member in good standing, since she was hurting some members and the church and that status gave her some validity. For this and the purposes of discipline (if she so CHOOSES to see it this way and rises above this and demonstrates she is heavily possessing the fruits of one who is close to the spirit) the church had no choice but to do this.

    If she would have denounced the church and left as did Tom Phillips did and continued to fight the church than maybe an excommunication would not have been necessary, because regardless she would feel the loss of blessings and would have been discredited. And to those who don’t think the word fight is proper here, if you only knew just how much Satan had to do with gripping Kate Kelly as he did so effectively in the pre mortal where words like war were used and just how true this church is, you would think twice.

    Also, to those preaching gloom and doom and that this will hurt the churches reputation and furture. This church has a far better reputation that it has ever had. This church has had a huge image problem (by divine design) from the beginning. Do you guys not understand whos work this is and just how determined He is to bring it out of obscurity? I’m sure there will be setbacks (look at Mormon history) and disappointments, but I would not even for one minute underestimate the love of God and His foreknowledge and power. Nothing can stop this church! NOTHING, not even the shortcomings of it’s leaders, because it is simply the work of God. And guess what, the brethren know this beyond any doubt. WE ARE BLESSED!!

    What will be telling about Kate Kelly is if in one year Kate loves the restored gospel and displays that and testimony. Will Kate Kelly believe Joseph Smith was really a prophet of God and the Book Of Mormon was truly a divine work brought forth by God, the Almighty Himself and that He guided the saints who were humble and willing to the rocky mountains and that the keys of the Holy Priesthood were protected by God Himself as restored by Him and under His direction and that those keys have been passed down to the senior apostle of the church that God has raised up.

    Or will Kate Kelly believe like some that God who planned the golden plates ( the stick of Joseph as prophesied in Ezekiel )for centuries, the founding of America, the restoration, the life of Joseph Smith, sent ancient angels galore to him, including Moses (to bring priesthood keys, though I do believe we are narrow in our understanding of this) and fulfilled prophecy in Elijah and so many other visitations and landed Modern Israel next to its own Dead Sea (salt sea) just like ancient Israel, that after all God put into the restoration that He has allowed the church to stray that far off course. Its beyond ridiculous! He is steering the ship of Zion I can assure you of this, from Joseph down to President Monson!

    Just one last thought, as imperfect as Tommy Monson is, I testify he is the Lords prophet to the church and of all the men on earth he holds all the keys of the kingdom. He was foreordained and is one of the most Christlike men on earth.. I encourage to go watch a documentary on him. He is a man who walks the walk. We are absolutely blessed beyond measure in this church when the world is full of fake religious actors. THE CHURCH IS TRUE AND ITS GODS KINGDOM ON EARTH!!!

    All these doubts and all these counter arguments to the foundation of the church do not enhance ones ability to feel the spirit, it diminishes it. If only you would have more faith and confidence, you might be able to feel the spirit much stronger in regards to the church the prophets. Here people are claiming this is going to hurt the church.

    It might reinforce some impulses in some members who are prone to be harsh, but it could help as people see so many churches giving way on so many things and our church standing this way and besides, the Lord is going to oversee things.

  50. Thanks for your concern for those who don’t see things the same as you, Aaron. I believe you are very sincere and I appreciate that. I’d like to know if you’ve prayed about Kate Kelly and OW. Have you read their mission statement carefully—not just to skim it and the six discussions and the profiles to garner ammo for condemning them? I ask sincerely. Have you studied them for 15 minutes? A half hour? Several hours, days, months? Please don’t presume that those who have, and have felt the spirit, are being deceived by an evil spirit. It’s unfair to assume that if someone disagrees that they are deceived. I’ve studied and prayed long and fervently to not be deceived. I trust the Spirit when He speaks.

    As stated above, I disagree with some of OW’s word choices and methods. But I have learned from them too. I have felt the spirit when studying their website. I go to my scriptures and see support there for some of their logic and reasoning.

    As to your remark that female voices are not needed—only the spirit, that is beyond sad. I repeat, women sometimes are more in tune than men, and vice versa. Women’s perspectives are very valuable, just as men’s are. I cannot deny that I have had the spirit testify to me of the good of women being part of the discussions at every level of the church. All my life I have been content with things as they are—I’ve always been treated very well by the men in my wards and stakes. I love and revere them immensely. I adore our FP and Q12. Yet, truly I can see the work hastening to great degrees if women were included in making governing decisions and in giving counsel. I’m not sure we need to be ordained to accomplish this. But I would like to know what Heavenly Father thinks about it in this current time.

    And I’m sorry, but we will have to respectfully disagree regarding KK. I find her to be confident, but not prideful. Positive, not defiant. Warm, not cold. And so on. I’d love to meet her and have her over for dinner so I could feel of her spirit and see what she’s like in person. I admire her very much in some ways. I get that you think she’s deceived and harmful. Thankfully, you don’t have to meet her and have dinner with her. But I would love to be a friend, especially now. She needs love and support, and I offer mine.

    Let’s continue our studies, prayers, ponderings, and seeking the Lord’s spirit in our our doings.

  51. Aaron: “This church has had a huge image problem (by divine design).” Let me get this straight. It is by divine design from the beginning that the church have an image problem? Then why does it have a PR department? Are you saying Brother Otterson, Sister Isom, et al. are working against the Lord’s divine design when they try to improve the church’s public image? Interesting.

  52. Eric,

    I make clear the reputation of the church is better now than ever, but I also believe part of the restoration was for a people to be shaped and refined. There could and I’m sure are other reasons for this, such as I’m convinced some kind of strategy God has in marketing the church. I have some good theories on that but that is a side story I won’t get to deep into.

    I do not believe leaders past or present themselves have tried to do anything but put a good face on the church, but what we want or pray for is not always in line with Him who created worlds without end. Lets face it, God has done all kinds of strange things.

    For example, does anyone really believe when God instituted polygamy and polyandry and commanded Joseph to even take a few very young wives that this would not be a massive image problem for the church? WHY would God do this most necessary thing knowing this? Surely He saw it as clear as day and its not like polygamy was a necessity in terms of the short term. Whether it is later for some or all and what Gods designs are I do not know. My best guess is at the least some will have to do it, which in the next life would be way different. God could have waited on that and not only do I believe the Lord foresaw it being outlawed by the Feds and a government army on our doorsteps, but I actually believe the Lord used the government to prepare the saints for its discontinuation. I simply cannot accept any other argument.

    To slip this in as well, another reason could be to subtly familiarize enough of the modern membership with polygamy that if in say 2060 it was legal and the prophet received a revelation that key people are to do this, that we would be far more ready, though I think it has more to do with my other thoughts.

    So then why did the Lord allow it, actually command it knowing the problems it would cause? I mean He wants to convert everyone right? Or does He? I’m not necessarily suggesting that was the reason for polygamy, but it could (which the other reasons would be in my eyes why He commanded it, not for any of the more principled reasons, at least more principled in human eyes) have fit in with other purposes of the Lord, while truly being a divine principle. Nevertheless, one that could have waited.

    You could say its a sifting mechanism. Some have suggested that was the Abrahamic test for them. I think thats foolish. There were bigger reasons with God as would effect His church greatly. You could even make an argument (I believe there is truth to this one) that this church is so great, so unbelievable, far greater than even the members can comprehend, that God had to bring it down a notch, at least for a period to disguise it. Were just moving into countries cautiously and respectfully as the “Mormons.” With a persecuted past and a on some points a strange one. This could also be in harmony with the burst we are suppose to see as we head into the final innings towards the second coming. A David verse goliath. A persecuted little American sect with a racist and bizarre past. Oh and I’m sure God saw Waren Jeffs when He commanded Joseph to take on many wives and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

    Blacks and the priesthood is another one. Polygamy could have something to do with that as well, in creating a bit of a balance and diversion from solely having a racist past as our sole problem. After all, again, God did not have to threaten Joseph to take wives, but He did and that usually more known than the restriction.

    I’m sorry for not being able to articulate this very well and I have many other thoughts on it. I will tell you this, while the brethren may have had some guess work that was flawed on the restriction of blacks, no one is going to convince me it was not the Lords will and I have my own feelings on that, but it really does not matter because no one knows for sure why. We do know all modern scripture has language that is tough for moderns and our obsession and sensitivity over race issues (I share a sensitivity to a great and extent and understand it is hard for mortals to understand it’s possible Father in Heaven can do strange and hard things and still be a God whose love is all encompassing, especially when stirred by the likes of certain people. We see God doing much worse for those who opposed His plan when He cast them down to earth without bodies. And modern revelation makes clear all here will go a kingdom of glory.

    Sorry, because I get scattered brained Chris because I have so many thoughts here and some of these points are so sensitive and usually reserved for me or a very select couple of people I trust. As part of the Latter Day Glory, I will tell you I believe with ALL MY HEART God planned it. And no matter what, even members complaining and questioning the brethren of this church does not matter. It will roll forth because it is Gods kingdom and that is absolutely the truth. We see so many members buying a little to much into the arguments of the world. Hopping on causes and ideologies (not necessarily wrong if done in priority and properly) rather than holding there heads high with a firm confidence that they are part of the greatest cause on earth, regardless of the casualties it goes forward. This to me is one bothersome thing among many about OW! It so undermines the grandeur of the Latter Day Glory and hurts peoples faith.

    The Garden Of Eden in Miss. The continents separating and the Lord preserving this land to a great extent as a result, after the flood. The Reformation! The flood of gentiles into America, not to forget the Jaredites and Lehi and those others He brought ( I believe that also was planned, and that God had as one thing the DNA argument in mind) the founding fathers, the constitution, the most powerful country the world has ever seen (as the BoM prophecies) Modern Israel next to a dead sea, the seed of Joseph pushing peoples to the ends of the earth and presiding over Israel, (Joseph Smith was a descendant of Ephraim) to Moroni burying the plates where he did, to the Smith family being moved from Vermont through crop failure (divine design) to where God buried the plates.

    What I’m trying to paint and no one fully could understand and not even the prophets could see just how far God has gone from before the world to plan the Latter Day Glory and Second Coming and crucial aspects of the plan of salvation is that it has been far more planned than we can even grasp. I suspect and actually believe when God created the world He knew right where the Garden Of Eden would be and right where the church would be headquartered in the last days in the Salt Lake Valley.

    So, with this I do not believe the ODDS and the image problem the church has faced has been by coincidence. It has been of the most EXTREME NATURE. Not that your against this Chris, but if you are, you or the prophet could not convince me otherwise. If I was God that is EXACTLY how I would plan it and revel in it! Oh and the last thing I would do is COMPLETELY bow to human arguments.

    He did not have to curse Laman and Lemuel in the way He did knowing and I’m convinced, Him being the one who made sure that got in and then raising that record up to have controversial things from the human standpoint, along with the Book Of Moses and the Book Of Abraham which God brought to Joseph. How fitting of all the Abrahamic faiths, Modern Israel has the only book written by Father Abraham.

    So He will do things in such a way that is not bowing to us and that creates an atmosphere where miracles will shine forth. After all, your God right? What do some dinky (dinky to Him at least) odds do other than prove the work is true and divine and EMPOWER the membership and create a growing narrative in the world and it is really getting peoples attention as something great.The underdog of all underdogs. A work so against all odds that as it progresses, that in and of itself will suggest a power and a divine sanctioning far beyond we could comprehend along with other fruits and signs.

    The Second Coming I think is supposed to be proceeded by a kind of a climactic explosion. This could be another thing God is shooting for as He has planned the restoration and its coming forth out of obscurity for longer than we can comprehend. It’s a work in progress and I simply MARVEL and I KNOW IT IS GODS HOLY WORK!

    People like Kate Kelly are simply taking away from this! As far as the imperfections of the leaders and the clergy not being full time it’s a wonder the church as strong as it is. That is largely due to the spirit and Gods hand upon it. Most of us have had experiences with leaders that don’t get it. I hope to see a greater perfecting of the work, mentality and the system, but in the meantime I see the greatness of the restoration, the amazing goodness of such a high percentage of members, the light, etc and I am leaning on the constant witness of the Holy Ghost and Gods living reality and the atonement of the Savior. Truly, He answers prayers!

  53. I don’t really see how Kate Kelly asking for additional revelation about the nature of the Priesthood is really any different than Emma Smith asking Joseph if the Lord had any opinion about the men using chewing tobacco.
    The only difference I can see is that Emma Smith didn’t need to make much effort to get the President of the Church’s attention; Kate Kelly did.

  54. I have nothing against Ms. Kelly. Her questions are legitimate and beliefs valid (whatever that means). But she is defiant. Once told to cease her activities, her humility should have kicked in and she should have dialed things back. She could still have pursued her dream in smaller, less grandiose ways. But pride gets in the way sometimes, and that’s what happened here.

  55. Or maybe it is the general authorities who are prideful, and if they were humble, they would be receptive to the message that Sister Kelly was bringing. Is that possible? Maybe pride got in the way of Elder Oaks, Elder Ballard, Elder Clayton? Or are the leaders of the church immune from pride?

  56. Eric, no one is immune from pride. No one claims this to be the case, but this was so much more than that. This was all out defiance. I would also add most people, even those who struggle more with pride would have been much more swayed by humility than let it go that far. God does not use perfect people, but would most people do what Kate did? NO! I believe there is more than pride going on with her though.

    Nate my last name is not Cox.

    Jader3rd, there were people Joseph turned down and that tobacco was a direct trial on Emma. The church was completely different than it is now. Also, Kate Kelly was as defiant as I’ve ever seen a member and do you think for one minute Emma or Eliza R Snow would have “pushed” Joseph to give the priesthood to females and protested alongside with a national media audience on sacred ground to many and at a very sacred time along with anti Mormons? It is astounding you cannot see Kellys defiance on the world stage compared to Emmas problems with smoke and her husband who was a prophet in a different time and taken to him in quietly.

    For you to either be so tricked by Kelly or yourself engaging in at the least intellectual dishonesty and acting like she was only asking is just flat wrong. Kelly manipulated people and she fooled herself and others and I know this can sound like a standard talking point, but I truly do believe she greatly moved upon by the adversary.

    I just had one thought in regards to Gods planning and apostasy. William Law and Sidney Rigdon did not think they were in apostasy. They thought the prophet was and tried to over throw Joseph. We know also others like Oliver Cowdery were excommunicated, so yes, there are times when it is necessary. Rigdon and Law were Josephs counselors in the First Presidency.

    People may think they are in the right and feel they are taking the right path, such as to petition a prophet of God and foolishly think the President Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints should personally give attention and answer the requests of every member, especially ones this foolish and lower that evolving sacred office as the church becomes more and more a world religion and set a precedent when the brethren have already been duped before, is beyond me. THEY DID THE RIGHT THING!!!! We are taught we can receive answer from God. What greater thing can we have than that and the spirit? We do not need everything we think we need!!! We do not even need the prophet in order to go before God and commune. All are Gods children and at the very least He’ll comfort, fortify and make you very aware of His reality.

    The more I hear from you guys the more I am convinced just how right the brethren handled this. Kate Kelly wanted discussions with leaders. This was I’m convinced a trap by Satan himself. No matter what she going to make them look bad! She is manipulative and dishonest! And the brethren know it!

    About Rigdon and Law, I believe even that was planned by God, as I do the apostle Judas backstabbing Christ and turning Him in. Perhaps partially so God can somewhat cover for the fact that some called to priesthood offices fall. If a stake president can fall how can the brethren be inspired? Well, I would point to Christ calling Judas. God has His reasons.

    A bigger reasons with Rigdon and Law would be that the saints who moved from many places and had been through much and absolutely adored and revered Joseph Smith. His death would not be easy and there had never been a succession in the modern church. So I believe the Lord prepared the saints by discrediting the First Presidency (Sidney claimed to be the guardian of the church and his position as Josephs counselor gave a compelling argument) but the Lord had other things in mind, such as to establish what would become how His prophets are called- the president of the twelve takes over as the remaining apostles confer all the keys upon him. The Lord so disrupted the First Presidency in order to prepare the church and set the precedent on how the transition from one prophet to the next is to take place.

  57. Eric, you ask if it was the church leaders who were prideful, and not Ms. Kelly? The problem with that question is that Ms. Kelly is not their priesthood leader; they have as their leader Thomas S. Monson, and above him Jesus Christ. It is not prideful for a leader to fail to cede to the demands of a follower (member). I’m not going to launch into a long dissertation on this, because I don’t think you are interested. But for those who may be lurking here, there is an order of things (” . . . my house is a house of order . . .”) and it does not include members of the church demanding they not only be heard but have their every wish granted in their way and on their schedule. The church is not a democracy; members don’t vote the general authorities into office, so the idea that we are entitled to transparency and immediate access is off base. We have access to God, and to the virtues of patience and humility. We also have our agency.

  58. The scriptural record is filled with stories and stances of God speaking to the prophets through various means. One of the burdens of church leadership is that a leader must not ignore advice given simply because it doesn’t come from the “right” source. God may choose to inspire a leader through direct revelation, through dreams, and certainly through people “below” him/her on the inspiration chain. God may choose to commuicate an important truth to a leader by means of a piece of litter, a news story, through a child or, gasp, through a woman. One should not choose to ignore inspired advice simply because it comes through an unapproved or unorthordox source. Mike said that “it is not prideful for a leader to fail to cede to the demands of a follower (member).” To whichI would simply add “unless it is.”

  59. Riiiiiight . . . And where is the evidence that Ms. Kelly was inspired for the whole church? Or inspired at all? Her word that it is? Her methods belie that.

  60. Nate:

    “We are always beginning in the middle of things and we are never really acting based on the logical implications of first principles.”

    You are too easily assuming that because we may not consciously act on first principles that we do not act on them at all. The web of reasoning that impels our actions is too vast to exclude first principles. Who’s to say that “the middle of things” is not constantly being affected by “the beginnings of things?”

  61. I would like to see some discussion about “asking questions” or “having questions” in the church. What would it look like as a culture if asking questions were acceptable? Having been a lifelong member now for over 45 years attending several wards and going to church weekly, I think I know the culture pretty well. I certainly feel that there are or would be negative consequences for asking questions about some of the concerns with some history of the church (i.e. was it right for Joseph Smith to practice polygamy while denying it in public?) or why certain things are the way they are.

    If I were to have a discussion about these types of things with a bishop or stake president in private my understanding of the culture suggests to me that it isn’t accepted well…you are viewed as not one in full standing if you express questions. The counselor in the stake presidency said in a meeting as we were talking about Kate Kelly. “There are many churches out there, they need to go start their own church”. This sends a message to anyone wanting to ask questions that he is unlikely to have a response that “it’s ok to ask questions”.

    Talking to my father about concerns and questions I have he reflected back to me the culture…He became angry and started to interrogate me about whether I believed God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith and many other specific questions about my beliefs. I again think that is typical of the culture to not accept questions…

    So when I see blogs that say “Kate Kelly was not excommunicated for asking questions…she did more than ask questions.” OK, she did more than ask questions…but is it really o.k. to ask questions? I think the evidence is that there are negative consequences to “asking questions” and it really isn’t an accepted thing to do – even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to excommunication.

    Can you ask the leaders of the church questions? Officially letters to general authorities are referred to local leaders. When you ask a local leader to ask the general authorities a question what is their response? I asked once if they could ask their regional authority supervisor about the policy on requiring a one year wait for a temple sealing after a civil marriage and the stake president’s counselor laughed at me like it was a joke. He didn’t ask – and that is not a doctrinal issue because it isn’t practiced in Europe. I got the message. Questions aren’t really acceptable.

    Can we create a culture where questions are an accepted part of the culture? Are there questions that one can reasonably expect a response from the church about?

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