Mourning with those that mourn

Dore - castoutfromedenJob 1:

20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job 2:

11 ¶Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

 12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

 13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.


I do not have or expect answers. I acknowledge and feel the tragedy and sit in silence – for the grief is very great.

41 comments for “Mourning with those that mourn

  1. Thank you J. Olsen. Nothing could be more apposite in this moment than a call for silence. Ash, dust, and tears cover the spirits of all participants in this drama, regardless of their theological or political convictions. I have neither the wisdom nor the stewardship to speak, lest I charge God, his servants, or his suffering saints foolishly.

    May Lord’s mercy, judgment, and wisdom entwine together to let the will of the Father be manifest.

  2. What we’re mourning occurs because we tolerate it. I think the time has come to throw off the sackcloth and ashes and look ourselves in the mirror.

  3. My heart breaks. I’ve been trying to make this all work for years–juggling social, intellectual and spiritual pressures. This action makes me realize the fragility of that balance and worry for the time when it all comes crashing down. Is such a crash inevitable?

  4. The hardest for me is Dehlin, a few of his podcasts helped keep me -in- the church during my faith transition and led me to a stronger, more unshakable foundation. Processing this all. Wondering what it means for me.

  5. I’m sure that the father mourned when the prodigal son took his share of the inheritance and left for a far country. But there is always hope that the prodigal will return. And imagine the joy when that happens.

    I suspect that the Prophet Joseph mourned when Oliver Cowdery turned his back on the church and was cut off. But Oliver repented and returned. Weeping may continue for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

    We should be ready, as was the Prophet, to welcome the repentant into full fellowship. His words to W. W. Phelps set a worthy standard:

    “Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal.

    “Your letter was read to the Saints last Sunday, and an expression of their feeling was taken, when it was unanimously resolved, that W. W. Phelps should be received into fellowship.

    “‘Come on, dear brother, since the war is past,

    For friends at first, are friends again at last.’”

  6. There were two prodigals in the parable. The one who never left was as selfish as the one who left.

    Kate and John exemplify neither of the prodigals. Rather, they are the father, giving of their abundance when asked, and petitioning for greater kindness.

    It’s time the church repented of its many wrongs and returned to the faithful, not the other way around.

  7. Of course it isn’t the other way around… the faithful never leave, nor make continous public statements of an injurious nature against the church or its leadership. People who have faith don’t do that, people who have doubts do!

  8. Jax – Here’s a primer for you on the dangers of not questioning authority. Ever hear of Stanley Milgram?

    Also, it would behoove you to check out some articles on bystander intervention. The church would have us scared so that we don’t intervene and yet, following Milgram’s experiment, it is the MEMBERS who have the ultimate vote in who and what we sustain from our leaders. As things work – and don’t – now, it’s as if we seek their approval only. Such an unhealthy arrangement.

    And, by the way, sustaining is not to be confused with tacit approval. It’s not an all-covering, semiannual vote.

  9. Jax if all the people with doubts left the church, there’d be about 50 of you left.

  10. We are all prodigals. The story of the prodigal son is the same as the story of the endowment. We are fallen and wish to return to the presence of our parents.

  11. annegb:

    “Jax if all the people with doubts left the church, there’d be about 50 of you left.”

    The issue is not doubts — our faith, like everything else, proceeds line upon line. The issue is those who wear their doubts like a badge of honor and insist that others who do not likewise doubt are naive or ignorant or foolish. The issue is those who publicize their doubts for the acquisition of power or popularity or the praise of the world. The issue is those who, to salve their own consciences regarding their doubts, seek to instill their doubts into every other member of the Church.

  12. Sinclair,

    You’re making a claim that ludicrous at the onset. Because of “Milgrim’s experiment” we have an “unhealthy arrangement”??? Again, people with faith, who believe, don’t think it is unhealthy at all. They don’t put their trust in the mind of Milgrim. They have faith in Christ, that He is the head of this church, and that He wouldn’t put them in an unhealthy arrangement unless it furthered His plan for their happiness. And if it is unhealthy by design, then they don’t care because they have faith in Him, His goodness, His mercy, His justice, and His knowledge.

    Those who think, “well, because of our knowledge of X,Y, and Z from Milgrim we know that it would be better to handle decisions by A, B, and C…” then go find a church that does that. Or start your own. Because that isn’t how things work in HIS church. If you have faith in HIM, then you trust HIS arrangement of HIS Church for HIS disciples. This isn’t an discussion of infallibility of leaders, etc, it is one of faith. Does someone have faith in HIM and His plans?

    The continued public opposition to church leadership (Faithful people believe Christ is the leader BTW) says that you don’t have faith/trust/confidence in His plan, nor His choices in selecting people to carry out that plan. Having doubts is not the problem though, making public injurious statements about the church and demanding YOUR remedy to your doubts is. There are acceptable ways to deal with doubts, that both of these individuals were aware of, and disregarded.

    It is not a sad day that the church, after giving warnings about unacceptable behavior, followed through with the approved disciplinary measures. That is required to “cleanse the inner vessel.” Any organization with a code of conduct must follow through with enforcement of that code. The Kingdom of God has such a code. How tragic it would be if it weren’t used to try to correct those in error (to HELP them back, not punish them), and to remove those with no interest in uplifting but rather in tearing down.

  13. Jax – First, familiarize yourself with the findings of Milgram’s experiment. It exposed the dangers of the level of unquestioning obedience to a perceived authority figure which your comments encourage. As you said, Christ is the head of the church, not the leaders, and it was he who welcomed critical thinking, dialogue, and the inclusion of those considered heretics in his day.

    Then, and only then, will I gladly engage in further dialogue with you regarding this issue.

  14. Sinclair:

    Those of us advocating obedience have no trouble dealing with the Milgram’s experiment. In fact, our understanding of the Gospel is such that we accept that each of us arrived in mortality in part because we developed the righteous characteristic of obedience. That obedience was towards the Authority Figure of our Father. Now, on Earth, we are expected to have that same strength of obedience towards Him.

    The problem comes when we dedicate that same type of obedience to principles and people aligned against our Father. Whether that be unthinking obedience to a political party or philosophy, an unthinking obedience to an idea (equality, for instance?), or an unthinking obedience to a leader, our adversary uses the obedience that we have cultivated against us. That corruption of the virtue of obedience was what Milgram showed — not that obedience was negative. Science does not and cannot arrive at such moral conclusions.

    Our hope only comes through using that innate sense of obedience we have developed and using it properly. We hold fast to the Lord, and we are grateful to Him for the Priesthood leadership He has given us. We follow them, imperfect though they are, because He has put them in their position and we follow Him through following them.

  15. To me, the story of Alma 30 is applicable here, that there is no problem with believing whatever you want, but when you teach others and lead them to follow you rather than the church, it can become problematic.

    I lived through the ERA in the early 1980s, in a town that was a state capitol and thus there was a lot of activity around the issue. I knew lots of LDS who were in favor (and thus not in agreement with the church’s stance), including a state legislator who also served on the high council, and a member of an auxilliary presidency. There was absolutely no hint or question of their church membership being affected in any way, because they did not try to convert others (nor ridicule them as mindless sheep), nor did they criticize the church. Indeed, every time I heard general RS president Barbara Smith talk about ERA, she acknowledged that others may think differently. She mentioned a judge in Utah. But she was clear that it was no problem to think differently. Sonia Johnson was excommunicated only after she encouraged people to turn the missionaries away, accused church leadership of being ‘a savage misogyny,’ and in other ways TAUGHT AND ENCOURAGED OTHERS to take action against the church. Not for her beliefs or doubts.

    That may seem like a trivial difference to some, but it is huge.

    I would love to support a group that asked questions about women’s roles in the church, in a respectful manner. There are questions that should be asked. But OW is not doing that. Their name in the imperative rather interrogative, and their public refusal to acknowledge a request from the church were a turn-off.

  16. ” a perceived authority figure”

    Christ isn’t a “percieved authority figure”, He is THE authority figure. He as given Hit authority to others. Disobedience to those He authorizes is disobedience to Him. You can’t follow Him by failing to follow those He has called to lead.

    It doesn’t matter what Milgrim’s experiment shows. Milgrim’s knowledge is not superior to Christ’s!!! Christ says to have faith and be obedient, Milgrim says that obedience is dangerous… who should I obey. You say Christ encouraged critical thinking and therefore we should be critical of Christ?? What rubbish! What exactly is your argument here?? “Christ said be a critical thinker, so be sure to criticize His church, don’t trust the people He has called to act in His name, trust in the experiments of men to reason for yourselves about His [supposed] mistakes, and forget all about all that faith stuff written about and encouraged in the scriptures and over the pulpits. What we really need is science and logic, to trust in your own knowledge and intellect, not faith!”

    I don’t know Kelly nor Dehlin and haven’t read/heard anything directly from them, but IF this is what you got from Kelly and Dehlin then they deserve any discipline handed down for sowing the seeds of discontent and faithlessness.

  17. From Milgram’s postscript, a quote from Laski who wrote _The Dangers of Obedience_: “…Our business, if we desire to live a life, not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or convention or authority. It may be that we shall be wrong; but our self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience. That is why the condition of freedom in any state is always a widespread and consistent skepticism of the canons upon which power insists.”

    The court is a test of Kate and Johns obedience to the church which cannot trump their obedience to our Heavenly Parents, who have called them to do this work. Imperfect leaders are subject to mistakes, including those wrought due to the cultural and traditional mists which clog the mediums through which they claim rights to alleged revelation that affects others.

    Christ is our only intermediary with the Father. Full stop.

  18. Grief should never be mocked or belittled. I am legitimately confused, though. What exactly is being grieved? To my knowledge, neither person has had any official church action taken against them to this point. They were notified of a disciplinary council from local leadership and further action would not be taken until after that time. As one who has participated in such councils in the past, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the result of a such a council would be excommunication, though it is a possibility. Why grieve now? Nothing has yet happened. Why assume the worst?

  19. “cannot trump their obedience to our Heavenly Parents, who have called them to do this work.”

    This is an interesting claim. You know this as a fact?? Or you believe it because… why? because they said it? Or because you want it to be true?

    I know a group of men who HAVE been called to a work, who have been sustained as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. And so when I see one group claiming to be doing the Lord’s work, but is working in opposition to a group I KNOW to be called, what possible conclusion can a reasonable person make except that the first group has NOT be called to that work. More reasonable to think that God called two groups to work against each other?? Seems like that whole “house divided” thing makes that unlikely, right?

    I’d fully accept that they are working with good intentions to toward what they view as a desirable outcome and not necessarily under some evil influence. But claiming that they were divinely called to their work seems outlandish.

  20. “Christ is our only intermediary with the Father. Full stop.”

    I cannot speak regarding those who aren’t members, but anyone who claims membership in the COJCoLDS and admits the authority of its scripture cannot seriously make this claim. Christ performs a unique, intercessory function that no other can, but he has given authority in the ordering of his Church to the apostles. Christ specifically set up the apostles as judges enthroned to judge the House of Israel. Further, the scriptures are rife with examples of church leaders rebuking members. Christ himself in the BofM prescribed procedures for cutting someone off from the Church. That same Christ has set standards in modern scriptures for doing the same.

    Taking your claim to its logical conclusion, every person in the world who claims, in good faith, to follow Christ would be answerable to no one on earth in terms of doctrine, practice or conduct. Alma, the Apostle Paul, and John the Revelator would be decidedly unimpressed. You certainly cannot have a church based on orderly, revelatory principles on that basis.

    Disagree with where the line is to be drawn if you must, but claiming that no earthly human being has the right to draw a line for another in the first place is beyond the pale for anyone who regards the Church as more than a mere human organization.

    Besides, you’ve already drawn the line in spiritual matters when you claim that valid revelation to perform the work of God has fallen on Kate and John, but that church leaders appear too out of touch to know it. Why not let Christ judge the matter as the only intermediary? Or does he need earthly advocates like yourself to discern who is getting the true revelation?

    While wishing John and Kate great blessings and mercies from God, I’m still going to stick with the same bunch that Jax backs.

  21. Yes, to Naismith once again.

    In addition to the April conference incident, OW probably crossed the line when they published specific discussion packages with the intent that they be used by sympathetic members to proselytize the OW position to other members.

  22. Honestly, anyone who thinks that Jesus or Heavenly Father have anything to do with this are nuts. Just plain nuts.

  23. @DKL – well at least you are honest about your qualification to make psychological evaluations of 15 million people across the globe. If you weren’t honest about it, then THAT would bother me.

  24. thor, the only qualification relevant to this conversation is the fact that I’m smarter than you.

    Please outline your basis for asserting that “15 million people across the globe” believe that Jesus or Heavenly Father had anything to do with these excommunications.

  25. DKL… what excommunications? As I understand it there have been notices of disciplinary proceedings. I’m not even sure why we know about those though… Did Kelly and Dehlin make them public??

  26. And by “those,” I mean the disciplinary actions, so that my question becomes, “what’s the basis for believing that the disciplinary actions have anything at all to do with Jesus and Heavenly Father?”

  27. So your question is really, “What the basis for believing that the actions of our leaders (when clearly acting within the scope of their calling) has anything at all to do with Jesus and Heavenly Father.” Well, that’s called faith, and we’ve been talking about that. Faithful people believe Christ calls the leadership of his church and that they are doing His will when they exercise the duties of their offices. “Faith” may not be an acceptable basis for belief for you, but it is for the majority of us!!

  28. No, it’s not for the majority of you. Best estimates indicate that only about 5 million Mormons are active. And only a fraction of them share your diseased approach to religion.

    People said the exact same thing that you are saying back in the days before the church stopped excommunicating people for talking about Heavenly Mother and doing scholarly history. You and the church are on the wrong side of history. If that’s where you want to place Jesus and Heavenly Father, then you do so at your own peril.

  29. I don’t get to place them anywhere… they are where they are and I get to seek them out. I find that I’m much more likely to find them in the church, than in the scholarly history.

  30. Love it when the perma-bloggers have to trot out the comment policy. It makes me feel like Kate Kelly or something.

  31. I will say this. The local leaderships of the church have the right to discipline Dehlin and Kelly on grounds of apostasy. What they are advocating runs counter to what LDS church leaders have been advocating. They are challenging authority by calling out leaders for their position towards gays and women.

    However, those who claim that the LDS church teaches obedience to leaders no matter what they say are in the wrong. Leaders have routinely taught obedience to principles. They don’t claim to be infallible or beyond question. Advocacy of blind obedience are rather frightening, as the quote below:

    “We follow them, imperfect though they are, because He has put them in their position and we follow Him through following them.”

    We follow God by following moral principles, not by blindly following leaders.

Comments are closed.