Recently uncovered texting conversation from 1600 BC

Shem: Oh great. Moses just posted a new policy.

Mannassah: More animals we can’t eat?

S: Nope, it says we wander in the desert until we are all dead. Then our children inherit the promised land when they are old.

M: Uhhh

S: He said it would take about 40 years

M: This is not going to go over well on the blogs…

S: Newspapers either; the Egyptian Post just put up their article: “Moses declares every Israelite an apostate.”

M: I honestly think he’s going to take a bit of a PR hit on this one.

S: You’re probably right.




(I should note that the children of Israel really did suffer and really did have an incredibly hard time.  And some of them were relatively innocent — especially their children.  And of course Moses wasn’t perfect either.  All of these things are true.  And I am glad that so far I don’t have to do any of those things they did.  Just like many people today face really hard challenges as they try to live the gospel in incredibly trying circumstances.  I feel for them and pray for them, though I do not feel what they feel.  All of that said, this is not the first time or the last time that God or His church will ask people to do things that are not fair or easy.  Despite what Facebook says.)

85 comments for “Recently uncovered texting conversation from 1600 BC

  1. When Jehovah commanded the early Israelites to inflict tremendous suffering on other peoples, and the Israelites did exactly as asked, was Jehovah entirely pleased? Or perhaps disappointed at not having received a bit more pushback? This a genuinely tricky question. It involves a lot of assumptions on the level of faith and knowledge the Israelites were expected to have.

    But either way, I’m not sure that “No worse than what the Old Testament God commanded” is the best way to sell the recent policy change.

  2. Frank, I predict your basic common sense and appeal to scriptural truths will not be well-received in some quarters, especially among people who have stopped going to Church and are actively battling against modern-day prophets.

  3. All of that said, this is not the first time or the last time that God or His church will ask people to do things that are not fair or easy.

    This is tough, but important, to keep in mind.

    And–as much as I realize people will be very upset by your light-hearted tone–I really do think you made an important point here. We should expect, from time-to-time, to be put through the wringer for our discipleship. It’s part of the reason we’re here.

  4. It’s unfortunate that many who think that feelings (described and elaborated in harrowing detail) count as arguments will reject the content of this post on those grounds alone. The scriptures are full of examples where God commands things that we now find morally repugnant. Other times He commands things that are in flat out tension with other this He has commanded. This is primary difference between disciples and consumers of religion.

  5. Frank does realize that the exodus narrative was pretty much made up centuries later, right? And that there is no evidence of Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years?

  6. “this is not the first time or the last time that God or His church will ask people to do things that are not fair or easy.”

    If the bureaucracy had it’s way, the membership at large would remain unaware of this silent revision to the Handbook, so I’m uncertain where people have been “asked” anything by anyone.

  7. One of our late apostles (fairly late, i.e. 30 years) was known to say, “The dogs always bark as the caravan passes by.”

  8. Brian does realize that the exodus narrative could have been replaced with any number of other examples from the scriptures, right?

  9. If we’re going to the Exodus narrative, remember that time Moses disobeyed God, and clung to an old methodology when God said it was time to move on to something new? Remember how Moses was one of those apostates not allowed into the Promised Land? And remember how it was Israel’s leaders who led them into apostasy?

    Remember how leader worship can be just as serious a problem as the worship of any other idol? Remember how it was the priesthood leadership of New Testament Jerusalem that had Jesus Christ crucified, because they felt their power was being threatened, even though John expressly said they still had the gift of prophesy?

    I am fine when people honestly disagree with the views I hold. But you can write a thoughtful post about it, like Rosalynde did. The dismissive pithiness of this comes across as very unkind, and honestly dehumanizing to those who disagree with you.

  10. One of the sad lessons of history, from Moses’ time, to Nephi’s time, to Joseph Smith’s time, to today, is that people, even people with good intentions, will always murmur against modern-day prophets rather than follow their counsel. And sometimes they only realize they are murmuring when it is too late.

  11. “And sometimes they only realize they are murmuring when it is too late.”

    What does “too late” refer to in the context of a universal, infinite and unconditional atonement?

  12. Brian: If Moses never really existed, why care about the policies of a Church that purports to have received multiple revelations confirming his existence?

  13. Jeff G, yes, exactly. When their leaders said, “We can’t go into the Promised Land, because there are scary people there that we are afraid will overpower us,” the common Israelites should have said, “No, let’s trust God. He says He will protect us from any threat as long as we love and serve Him, so we don’t need to be afraid of coming in contact with these people or their children. We don’t need to be afraid.”

    In the modern day, Jesus Christ has told us to take the gospel to all the world. We are to teach the world faith, repentance, and yes, baptism. There is no exception in the revelations for people whose parents are gay. So if church leaders want to change that, we should say, “No, let’s trust God. We do not need to fear the people God has sent us to teach, or be afraid of letting someone join us because of their associations. If you want to change God’s commandment, then wait for a revelation: don’t cave in to fear. If we trust God, we don’t need to fear.”

    If our leaders have policies shrouded in fear and secrecy, it is our job to remind them that when those are present, faith cannot exist. Sometimes, again going back to Moses, our leaders need us to help hold their hands up, when they are weak and trembling. Physically, our prophet is very feeble right now, and we need to uphold him, and stop others from using the opportunity to dictate their pet policies to the church. If our prophet is too physically week to receive and deliver a revelation on the matter, we need to stick with what we have until that changes. And what we have is taking the Gospel to the whole world, without being afraid of some sort of outside contamination by doing so.

  14. A perfect Exodus example: Exodus 4: 24-26:

    “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met [Moses], and sought to kill him.Then Zipporah [the wife of Moses] took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.”

    The prophet wanted to deprive a child of a gospel ordinance, which God was prepared to kill the prophet over. The child’s parent objected, and had the ordinance performed anyway, making up for the prophet’s negligence.

    One of the great things about the Hebrew Bible is that it’s filled with stories like this. The Old Testament is very vocally against leader worship.

    By objecting to the new policy, we may well be saving Brother Todd Christofferson’s life, for all we know.

    The revelation, which has not been rescinded, and which many have quoted, is Doctrine and Covenants 68: 26-27: “For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized. And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.”

    Those who are trying to overturn this without new revelation are the ones that are murmuring.

  15. So, mirrorrorrim, you are honestly saying that you are more qualified to receive revelation for Church members than Elder Christofferson? Based on what authority? Have you heard about the Godbeites or Denver Snuffer? Any object lessons there for you?

  16. I think that mirrororrim is more qualified to provide insight than Todd Christofferson. He (or she) did adduce the most appropriate and relevant example from the Book of Exodus.

  17. Frank, is the reason you made this so cartoonish so that the parents of the at least two children (that I know of) who were supposed to be baptized today and had those baptisms canceled* can use this post to explain that to their 8 year olds? Why the dress they had picked out won’t be worn? Why the Costco food mom bought on Thursday morning won’t be eaten? Why the family and friends who planned to come will have to be called and told not to come? Why it’s not just being postponed for a week or two but for at least 10 years? Is that why you made it cartoonish?

    How thoughtful.

    * Two cases of eight year olds sadly not fictionalized but other details imagined/fictionalized.

  18. A friend told me about this post. I’m glad I popped over here to read this. Very funny. Thanks for a bit of lightness in all of this insanity. And yes, go to heaven, Frank. :)

  19. “But didn’t Jesus in fact tell his disciples to obey what the Pharisees said?”

    That’s not a very strong analogy on which to base your defense of this policy. While on the face of it, it does support the argument that rank and file members should do what they are told, it also cast the authors of the policy as blasphemers who would crucify the living God to protect their prejudices. Never mind. I take it back. It may be apt.

  20. Daniel,

    That comment was aimed at mirrororrim’s comment rather than the post. Either way, Jesus’ commandment strongly undermines the “But the prophets aren’t infallible” pretext by which many indulge in “faithful opposition”.

  21. Thanks for the comments, all.

    Cynthia, I don’t think this post is written for those 2 kids. But I think the scriptures might be valuable in helping them come to grips with a very difficult situation, either now or in the future. Or the book of Job. I hope you think the same. I am very glad that I am not their Bishop. Also I am glad I was not Moses when he had to lead the Israelite’s children into the desert. The scriptures are full of situations I am glad I have not been faced with.

  22. Are you seriously arguing that Jesus command to obey the Pharisees includes following them in the sins that He enumerates in Matthew 23? I’m not sure which version of “faithful opposition” you believe Jesus to be undermining, but it seems pretty clear He wants people to discern between the righteous commands of the Pharisees and their iniquitous practices.

  23. Frank, shame on you (and Times and Seasons, shame on you.) This is a moment of real pain and some of your friends, and some of your relatives, will end up pushed out of the church by this. Have the decency to realize this isn’t about whether you can appear to be clever. If you don’t have the wisdom to mourn right now, please don’t write.

  24. On other sites there is sometimes a “Report abuse” flag for inappropriate comments. How can I report abuse on this whole OP?

  25. Barnabus (#34) and Cynthia (#27), sorry you and your friends are in pain. I think this is a poorly designed policy that was poorly instituted and that senior management is now scrambling to figure out what is happening and how to respond. Let’s hope they respond to this self-inflicted wound in weeks rather than (as so often in the Church) in years. Perhaps the harm and hurt the policy is causing real people will penetrate the layers of bureaucracy that surround LDS leadership and actually spur a quick response. Bad media publicity tends to help that process along as well, and there seems to be plenty of it, so we should not have to wait very long.

    At the same time, Barnabus, we certainly can publicly discuss the policy and relevant facts, and your strong feelings aren’t a basis for shutting down discussion you disagree with. You enjoy the freedom to voice a strongly critical view of the OP in comments to this forum — so it is hard to take you seriously when you suggest that Frank should not have posted the OP because you disagree with his view or the way he said it. You are sort of sawing off the limb you are sitting on, so to speak. So un-shame on you, Frank, for the post. The more public discussion we have, the quicker leadership (I assume they or their staff read — they claim they do not operate in a bubble) will figure out that changes need to be made.

  26. Dave (#36), good attorney that you are, be sure and note the conditional in my plea to Frank put aside, at least now, for God’s sake, the petty cleverness that attracts the Adam Greenwoods and Nathan Givens among us (with Terry H, to top it off, feeling like this is the time to roll out BRM’s caravan riff?)

  27. Isaiah 9:16 (or 2 Nephi 19:16 in case you think there isn’t a dual prophecy) For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    On Jesus telling people to obey pharisees, check your JST:

    KJV: Matt 23: 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
    3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    JST: 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
    03: All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, *that they will make you observe and do*; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works:; for they say, and do not.

    Today, the scribes and pharisees sit in Joseph’s seat. Continuing with Matthew 23:

    4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

    5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: [yellow tshirts] they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

    6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, [big red chairs]

    7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. [or, President, or Elder]

    13 ¶But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. [this includes the children of gay people]

    23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

    24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

    25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

    26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

  28. Fictional story implies fictional people suffered so we should support a policy that contributes to real people’s pain?

    Are the other T&S bloggers reading this? Do you want to be associated with this complete lack of empathy?

  29. Frank logic: Old Testament God was crazy mean! He had bears rip 42 kids to shreds for being disrespectful. Of course he doesn’t care if a few more gay kids committ suicide because they are told being gay is worse than murder or child abuse! That’s who God is!

  30. Can anyone point me to a parallel discussion in the LDS blogs regarding the impact of the policy on children of polygamous families?

  31. To me, the most meaningful lines of scripture are the scriptures that teach us to mourn with those who mourn (and I’m pretty sure there’s a corollary corresponding that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all). Humans have an innate bias against accepting and interacting with the Other – undoubtedly for evolutionary reasons – and these scriptures exhort us to pause and access our prefrontal cortex to consider our shared humanness when we encounter the Other, instead of reflexively reacting to our basic flight or fight instincts programmed into the reptilian part of our brains.

    As I’ve read through the various responses to the new policy, invariably those who defend it say things to the effect of that they are grateful they are not the ones who are responsible for administrating this difficult policy in their wards and stakes, but that they have faith that God has revealed the necessity of implementing this policy to protect the family and the church’s doctrinal integrity.

    I have trouble with these sorts of responses, although they are to be expected, because I doubt any of them are written by people who will be deeply and personally affected by this policy. Indeed, they express relief – like Frank – that they don’t have to be the one to sit across from the earnest eight year old eager to be baptized and watch her face fall as they tell her that she can’t be baptized along with her friends that day.

    This policy very well may be from God and necessary to protect the church, but if you can’t mourn with those who are mourning, and you instead feel the urge to dash off a funny, lighthearted post about how we’ve all got it hard these days, please pause and consider remaining in respectful silence of those who suffer instead. The church doesn’t need you to rush to its defense, but we all need you, as members of His church and the human race, to be respectful of the very real pain this new policy is causing in the lives of others.

    This post doesn’t meet that standard of basic respect and decency during a difficult time, although it is an illustrative and clever example of how to poke someone in the eye who is already crying.

  32. mirrorrim, I hope you aren’t implying that the Church refuses to baptize children of homosexuals, or even children of active, unrepentant homosexuals. Sexual preference or activity isn’t involved here. Perhaps you noticed the Church campaigns against gay marriage, starting, perhaps, twenty years ago with the Proclamation? Was that long enough for you to realize that the leadership of the Church were, no kidding, not just 7 out of 15, opposed to gay marriage? And now they apply the standard century-old anti-marriage-heretic tradition to a marriage heresy, and look at all the SHOCK and LEGITIMATE PAIN, and just like Jeff G. said we’ve got feelings here, feelings there, feelings everywhere, with everyone who apparently either slept through the last twenty years or actively refused to make their peace with the Lord’s consistent refusal to consider a union between two men or two women to be marriage.

    I can hear it already, complaining about OD 1 and 2 as if those changes mark a trajectory for the Church. Here’s something to consider: the Restoration itself was a movement towards Old Testament models. It’s possible for the Church to change, yes, but it’s possible for the Church to change in a direction you don’t like, too.

  33. This analogy is bogus, yes the children of Israel were in the wilderness because of the transgressions of their parents, but they were not denied saving ordinances during that time.

  34. But didn’t Jesus in fact tell his disciples to obey what the Pharisees said?

    No. Please show me where he said that. This appears to be yet another case of: when preaching blind obedience to earthly leaders goes wrong. Jeff G, preaching blind obedience since… (I don’t know when, 2008? 2009?)

  35. Brad L,

    It’s adorable how you pretend that each and every one of those points hasn’t already been addressed. Are ad hominem attacks any better than an appeal to priesthood authority?

  36. Elizabeth, thank you for your comments on mourning with those who mourn. I really feel that is what a lot of us have been doing for the past few days. Okay, even if people who support the new policy are right, and it is from God, which I do not believe, then, to put it very mildly, this was “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.” But what is supposed to follow that? “[T]hen showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.” There has been no increase of love, not from Frank, not from most of the commenters here, and not from church leadership. It seems like all of these sources want gay people to consider the church their enemy—they don’t want us or our families anywhere near it.

    What this feels like, honestly, is a kicked dog taking it out on the family cat. People fought really hard to stop gay marriage from happening, both in the United States and other places. Now that it is legal, and considered just as valid and important as any other type of marriage, those who fought so hard feel like they have been kicked. They have tried resisting the United States government historically, and lost, so they are not going to try that and get kicked again. Instead, they are taking it out on the members of their family who are smaller, vulnerable, and under their control.

    They are in essence saying to gay Latter-day Saints, “Yes, you can get legally married, but if you do, we are going to make your lives, and those of your children, so terrible in the church that you as a Latter-day Saint will come to regret the day gay marriage was legalized.”

    Like others have mentioned, many, many families have to struggle with learning one thing on Sunday and another at home. My father was actively anti-Latter-day Saint when I was growing up, and yes, it was hard and helped foster some difficulties in his and my relationship with one another. But I do not ever regret the opportunity I had to be baptized when I was eight years old, the gift of the Holy Ghost, or the opportunities of church membership that came later. If such a choice was too terrible for my father to allow me to make, he could have prevented it.

    It makes no sense to tell gay parents that they and their children cannot make their own decisions about baptism, temple, and missions, and that they need the church to dictate to them what their family can or cannot handle. It is dehumanizing, and is an ugly modern version of the White Man’s Burden fallacy. Rich heterosexual white men are telling the children of homosexual people that they need help keeping their families together from the rich heterosexual white men. But the very statement is full of duplicity, since those rich heterosexual white men do not consider the homosexual families to really be families at all, so why would they care about preserving them?

    It there is an attack on the family that the church finds itself involved in, this is it. But it has somehow found itself on the wrong side.

  37. Frank,

    Yuck. My humble suggestion is to take it down. We all make mistakes. If you want to do a “murmur” post, try and make a sensible argument without mocking the children and single parents most affected by the church’s new policy. Just yuck.

  38. mirrorrim: I’d like you to make sure you distinguish between homosexual parents and homosexual parents that went ahead and did something the Church has been trying to stop for years. You’re really not being fair to the ordinary homosexual parents here.

    And as long as you’re calling for civility, why don’t you apply some to us? You’re ascribing motives to us. This isn’t revenge, this is consequences. I don’t lick my lips with quivering delight when I see something happen like this. I merely see that balance has been restored. I don’t take pleasure from your pain. I’m disappointed that you would cause yourself that pain.

    And do you think none of us regret the day gay marriage was legalized? Do you think regretting the day we declared marriage to be a thing of man and not of God, when we covered the house of our highest leader in the desecrated rainbow, when our highest judges traded their solemn robes for festive raiment as we branded our nation with the seal of Baal, is a bad thing?

  39. Jeff G, it’s not an ad hominem if it accurately describes that person/person’s position, and in this case your position. Having read a number of your comments and blog posts over the years, I can’t see any way to explain your position other than blind obedience. In this post alone, you suggest that:

    1) the prophets are infallible (“Jesus’ commandment strongly undermines the ‘But the prophets aren’t infallible’ pretext by which many indulge in ‘faithful opposition'”)

    2) true discipleship is accepting and following without question (“The scriptures are full of examples where God commands things that we now find morally repugnant. Other times He commands things that are in flat out tension with other this He has commanded. This is primary difference between disciples and consumers of religion.”)

    Sometimes I wonder if you’re for real.

  40. I understand Jeff’s position, I think.

    It’s not that prophet’s are infallible, it’s that trusting their sincere discipleship and trusting their calling requires that we follow them unless we have been given clear directive to do something else by the highest authority of all…God, Himself. And we’d better make sure it’s really God, because we will have to account for ourselves to Him.

    I have never seen Jeff advocate never questioning. But I have seen him urge people to follow until they get a revelation of their own, and to remember the scope of their stewardship for such revelations.

  41. Anonymous,

    Let me go ahead and disavow any interpretation of the post that mocks children. My goal was to point out that hard things are sometimes asked of people and even of children. And just because it is not fair or easy does not mean God can’t do it or the policy can’t be from God or the policy should be revoked. On the other hand, I am not claiming that I know the policy is right or that it won’t get modified. I don’t have any inside scoop on this, but I do have a copy of the standard works.

  42. Frank, your intentions are good, but I also think removing the post might be wise. It is too easy to misread. It plays into the narrative of “Religious people think they are entitled to inflict suffering on others, based on their barbaric ancient scriptures” that our church leaders (unlike those of, say, ISIS) have tried to avoid.

  43. Tim, your intentions are good, I’m sure, but continuing calls to remove a post that you disagree with is even easier to misread; they play into the “SJWs are trying to censor me” narrative.

    Brad L., can you see a middle ground between “obey without question” and “question without obedience?” Because I don’t obey without question. Yes, when the prophet speaks, the debate with the prophet is over, but the debate with God is never over. He’s the one we should take this up with. And if the Spirit confirms that the Church has been lead astray, bear a sincere testimony so that we too can be blessed. That isn’t an argument I’ve seen anyone use, though, which is odd, since your side seems to be made up of a lot of long-time members, and they should see the way this works.

  44. Brad L,

    The whole point was that anytime a person such as yourself thinks that “not trusting in human reason” = “prophetic infallibility” or “blind obedience” they have automatically lost the debate. It’s ironic that these people use such sloppy reasoning to defend a trust in that same human reasoning.

  45. Frank,

    I love satire. Don’t get me wrong. But you got this backasswards.

    You see, satire is a tool for those without power against those that do have power. When those with power enact rules that adversely affect those without any recourse, you need a tool other than satire. It’s in the unwritten order of things.

    There is plenty to say about “murmuring.” In fact, I’m sure you can find it in a manual. If memory serves, the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Gay is bad, (2) faith, (3) gay is bad, (4) repentance, (5) gay is bad, (6) baptism, unless your parents are gay or going to kill you, (7) gay is bad, (8) gift of the holy ghost, unless your parents are gay or are going to kill you, and (9) don’t murmur.

    This is a taste issue, Frank. You need another genre other than satire. My .02.

  46. can you see a middle ground between “obey without question” and “question without obedience?”

    Of course there is a middle ground. Yet it doesn’t appear that either you or Jeff G understand this. You seem to be saying that either you accept everything the prophets completely and not question them (which is the same thing as treating them infallibly), or you are an apostate. Saying that when the prophet speaks the debate is over is the same thing as saying, “blindly obey the prophets.”

    Jeff G, it is oh so ironic that you engage in human reasoning to attack human reasoning. I’m just going off of what you wrote in comment 31, that somehow one of Jesus’ commandments (not sure which one you’re referring to) “strongly undermines the ‘but the prophets aren’t infallible’ pretext.” You’re clearly criticizing those who suggest that the prophets aren’t infallible. You routinely encourage hero worship, treating the prophets as infallibles, and blind obedience to them, and yet you won’t own up to what is so patently obvious in so many of your posts and comments. You’re being intellectually dishonest.

  47. If only Times and Seasons and therefore this post were around pre-1978. History will not judge this policy kindly. But at least you’ll be able to defend your views by saying you were following the brethren. There must be some peace in that, at least.

  48. Tell you what, BradL,

    If you can point to where I’ve ever said that obedience should be blind or that prophets are infallible, I will be more than a little impressed-if only because I’ve never believed either of those things. Indeed, I would be pretty surprised if you could find *anybody* who has seriously taught such things. That’s what makes that pretext so pathetic: you’re arguing against people that don’t exist.

  49. The analogy may be apt, but not for this reason.

    Did God cause the Israelites to wonder for 40 years? Or did God permit Moses—the leader he appointed—to err in navigation, while he sustained the community’s survival until the leaders figured it out?

    There may be nobility in loyally sticking with your tribe even if it’s lost. There may be moral value in the unity of arriving together.

    Nevertheless, I don’t see why we should assume that this “policy” is the will of God. (Incidentally, because it’s mere policy, the Church won’t have to publish an essay if/when it changes.)

  50. This post is absurd. The policy, among other feelings, has left me often feeling as if it absurd. We are all trying to process this. Pointing out that God has done some absurd things in the past helps me to continue to think through the policy and my relationship to it. Thanks for posting Frank.

  51. Anonymous: Where did you pull that rule from? Satire is not some divinely ordained anti-oppression tool. It’s a joke. Even then, who has more power in this society? A church that nobody loses their jobs for making fun of, or a movement that routinely gets people fired? I’d say mocking the gay rights movement is punching up.

    Brad L.: You should have read the rest of the post, you would have liked it.

  52. nl,

    “A satire should expose nothing but what is corrigible, and should make a due discrimination between those that are and those that are not the proper objects of it.”

    “Should a writer single out and point his raillery at particular persons, or satirize the miserable, he might be sure of pleasing a great part of his readers, but must be a very ill man if he could please himself.”

    asshole. n. One who uses satire to kick people who have been disowned by a multi-billion dollar corporation because they are associated with a loved one who is living in a perfectly legal manner, but is deemed evil by the multi-billion dollar corporation.

  53. “Did God cause the Israelites to wonder for 40 years?”

    “And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.” (Numbers 32:13)

  54. Tim, if you know someone who read this and thought that, then be sure to let them know that the point is not that “we” are trying to “inflict” things so much as the world is a hard place and sometimes we are asked to do hard things. I am not sure how to avoid that without avoiding the scriptures, because it is all over them. I don’t think we should avoid talking about trials just because we’re afraid an outside person misunderstands us.

    Since this is a Mormon blog, I think we should be allowed to talk about Mormon things and expect those who see the world differently to make some allowances if they want to hang out here.

  55. Anonymous, who exactly is the powerless person I am supposedly satiring? The post is a short conversation between two imaginary people about how they and those around them reacted to a very harsh policy. The one thing I mock are the over the top newspaper headlines, but that is hardly attacking the powerless. The post does not condemn the speakers or us or Moses, just points out that the policy is going to not be popular (which it apparently was not). It is purely to provide context. I think perhaps you are reading things I did not write?

  56. All of that said, this is not the first time or the last time that God or His church will ask people to do things that are not fair or easy.

    Frank, I just reread your original post. … I’m sorry for what I said. It was wrong of me. Within the last couple of days I’ve made some decisions publicly. I feel good about those decisions, and I’m excited for the future. Those decisions also mean that it is no longer productive for me to participate in these types of discussions. It’s not productive for me, and it’s not productive for these types of communities.

    I reread your original post, and I think you state it as well as any believing Mormon can. God has asked something difficult of those who believe it is God doing the asking. It makes sense that a post in this blog would start with that underlying assumption. I reject that assumption outright. Today I just realized that this isn’t the type of discussion I should be engaging in anymore.

    I’m genuinely sorry. I was in the wrong.

    nl, Bill Maher is a caustic jerk and proves the exact point I was trying to make.

  57. Joel:

    President Kimball endorsed Numbers 32:13 in 1979. Does that mean anything to you?

  58. Nathan,

    I don’t know what you’re referring to or what you mean by endorsement. I’m curious though.

    Was his point that the word “made” in that verse can only support one concept of the circumstance? That would be odd coming from Pres. Kimball in 1979, considering that the 1978 revelation was the finale to a 30-year saga of disagreement among the apostles. I think he would understand better than anyone that God deals with self-assured, strong-willed leaders who disagree with each other–which implies that even some of the apostles failed to understand the will of God.

  59. I understand it was King Solomon’s policy to determine the parentage of disputed infants by cutting them in half. And that this policy is given as evidence that he was wise. Thoughts?

  60. We (Mormons, the church) ARE inflicting suffering on vulnerable people (gays, their families, etc.) We are putting thousands of people in a position where they feel the need to give up what they see as their best chance at happiness in this life. Maybe it’s God’s will, all for the best a grand scheme, and we’re just the messengers, the foot soldiers, just following orders, etc. But we are the proximate agents. We have to own that.

    Moreover, there is at least a _possibility_ that we are _unnecessarily_ causing suffering, and that some of the things we are doing are mistakes. We have to own that as well.

    The potential unnecessariness is the most troubling part, more so than the magnitude of the thing. There is a reason that Aztec human sacrifices trouble us more than Aztec cancer deaths. We are primed, for good reason, to pay particular attention to unnecessary suffering. This is what we can (sometimes) change.

    It requires extraordinary sensitive and wisdom for us to know what to say in this circumstance.

    When your respond with “The ancient Israelites did even harsher things to innocent people” or “Know who else suffered? Job.” or “World’s just a tough place” it does not come across as an outpouring of love, compassion, sensitivity. It does not come across as a grand wrestle with our responsibility as a people. It comes across as downplaying the gravity of the current situation and belittling the people who raise objections. Add in the glib tone and it really (as you have seen) rubs a lot of people the wrong way.

    My hope is that people reading this blog will just see this as Frank being Frank, not as a signal of the way Mormons in general think. Please note that the other posts on T&S or BCC have not been like this.

    I do think that the horrors of the Old Testament can be discussed in a thoughtful way. I’m not suggesting we ignore the scriptures. I just hope we read the New Testament as well and emerge from the exercise more compassionate and sensitive, not less.

    Frank, I do believe you mean well. And I’m done now. Last word’s yours if you want it.

  61. Tim, fair enough. All of your quote mark statements from me, though, are not quotes from me. They are meaner, uglier versions (though one is actually not that different from D&C 121:10). Let me end the conversation by repeating what I _actually_ said:

    “Just like many people today face really hard challenges as they try to live the gospel in incredibly trying circumstances. I feel for them and pray for them, though I do not feel what they feel. All of that said, this is not the first time or the last time that God or His church will ask people to do things that are not fair or easy.”

    Now maybe the above is not well worded and somebody still does not like it. I am not sure how much responsibility I have for the way others respond to what I did not write or when they take my meaning to be the opposite of what I say. And yes, it would be a real shame if everyone took me to be the poster child for sensitive and compassionate Mormon dialogue.

  62. nl, gay marriage is the seal of Baal? This is what I mean by definitely neither mourning, nor showing an increase of love. The prophets of Baal were God’s enemy, so it very much seems like you are saying that you do want gay families to esteem themselves the church’s enemy.

    And isn’t what was so abhorrent about Baal worship was that it involved child sacrifice? I don’t equate not allowing children to be baptized with burning them; that would be silly. I hope you won’t equate having children raised by loving parents of the same gender with it, either.

    And “consequences” sure sounds like a sinister euphemism for revenge if I’ve ever heard one.

    Like I said, a kicked dog biting a smaller cat to express anger at the wrongs that were done to it. Everything you have said reinforces that picture.

  63. I do mourn! That’s what I said! I mourn because gay marriage is evil, and wrong, and people like you are trying to win people over to think that opponents of gay marriage are evil and wrong. The increase of love is coming about a millisecond after you get reproved. I misspoke about the seal of Baal, our modern version of child sacrifice is abortion, but I know you’re probably tired of hearing about Sodom. God was too, so he burned them.

    I’m sorry you can only see things in terms of power relationships. I’m sorry, in fact, that you see things so incompletely even in terms of power relationships. Gay rights advocates pushed their will onto the entire country. That is a fact. The church expressed opposition to the very concept of gay marriage from the beginning. That is a fact. And now you take families that have participated in gay marriage and say the Church is trying to make enemies out of them? They already made themselves enemies of the Church when they desecrated a divine symbol. I don’t care how loving same-gender parents are, if they desecrate the symbol of marriage, that’s heresy, and it is the duty of the leaders of the Church to protect us from that. It’s not revenge, any more than God takes revenge on a sinner by allowing the Spirit to be cut off, or the floor takes revenge on a dropped chandelier for falling on it. The prophets have been unusually consistent on this point: Gay marriage is wrong.

  64. nl, just to point it out, “you should have expected to be hurt” is nothing like “mourn with those who mourn”. At the least, recognize people are hurting, feel even if you don’t understand it, and give some time. A week would probably be best for you.

  65. My point, my entire point,
    is that none of you mourned with me.

    None of you mourned with me when what was holy to me was trampled.

    None of you mourned with me when I saw what was evil to me celebrated worldwide.

    None of you recognized I was hurting when you were dancing in the streets.

    In fact, because you saw me as the oppressor, you refused to even acknowledge I could hurt.

    And I don’t think you ever will.

  66. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I think we’ve probably about covered the ground we need to for one thread.

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