Sunday, October 4, 2015

Notes on the Sunday Morning Session

Let us speak to others with love and respect, ever keeping our language clean and avoiding words or comments that would wound or offend.
Thomas S. Monson
He's talking about swearing.  Of all the problems in the world right now, the prophet, seer, revelator and mouthpiece of the Lord has chosen to address the important issue of profanity.

What I think is silly about all this is that the words he's worried about only have offensive power to people who choose to find them offensive.  My coworkers and I, for example, swear at each other constantly, and the only times anyone gets offended is when the context of the profanity indicates that someone is expressing anger or being intentionally disrespectful.  If we're simply joking around or complaining about something, the specific words used aren't that important.  None of us is offended.

Yes, we should speak with love and respect and try to avoid offending people.  But if nobody is being disrespected and nobody finds the f-word offensive, then no harm is being done.  Maybe the prophet should worry about teaching his followers to behave with love and respect instead of merely speaking with love and respect.

I can't remember not believing in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I have loved them since I learned of them at the knees of my angel mother.
Ronald A. Rasband
One of our newest inductees into the Quorum of the Twelve is apparently walking evidence that the brainwashing works.  If you've always believed, if you were taught to believe as a child and haven't faltered since, I'm a little dubious of the legitimacy of your faith.  If you can't remember how it started, how can you claim to fully understand its effect on your development?  How can you be sure your personal beliefs are yours instead of someone else's that were embedded in you during your impressionable years?

My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today.  You are the women he foresaw.  Your  virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world along with their families to the church in unprecedented numbers.
Russell M. Nelson
Whoa.  What's this, an actual prophecy?  I mean, I guess it's kind of piggybacking off a former president's prophecy, but it still kind of counts.

So when are we going to see this unprecedented spike in membership?  Because it seems to me that the church rolls are transitioning from stagnation to shrinkage.  If there were ever a time that the church could use an adrenaline shot of baptisms, it would be now.  I guess it's time for those women who are so awesome that they deserve a really long list of their awesome qualities to step up and start taking care of business.

The Kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them.  Women who can speak with the power and authority of God.  
Russell M. Nelson 
The first half of this quote is one of those things that shouldn't need to be said.  I wonder how many women hearing this react along the lines of, "Wait...who was saying the Kingdom of God could be complete without women?  Who is he contradicting?"

The second half of this quote is misleading.  How can women speak with the power and authority of God if they can't hold the priesthood?  

We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.  We know that the culminating act of all creation was the creation of woman.  We need your strength.
Russell M. Nelson 
Nelson lays it on so thick and he doesn't know when to stop.  This talk provides so much meaningless flattery and so many empty blandishments that it becomes more condescending than appreciative.  By implying that women are actually better than men, he relies on a common tactic to reinforce the claim of gender equality in the church.  But, of course, he can claim all he wants that women are the "culminating act of all creation," but if he still praises their ability to advise men, prohibits them from holding the priesthood and severely limits the leadership positions they're eligible to hold, it can hardly be said that women are equal in the church.

Actions speak louder than words and such.

For years, I thought the mocking crowd was making fun of the way the faithful live their lives, but the voices from the building today have changed in their tone and approach.  Those who mock often try to drown out the simple message of the gospel by attacking some aspect of the church's history or offering pointed criticism of a prophet or other leader.  They are also attacking the very heart of our doctrine and the laws of God given since the creation of the earth.
Gregory A. Schwitzer
Well...he's not exactly wrong, is he?

Personally, I try to mock the beliefs, not the people.  Although I guess I tend to consider public figures, like everybody who speaks at conference, as fair targets.  I hope I've done a good job of avoiding persecution of Mormons and instead focusing on combating the flawed and dangerous religion they follow.  It's the organization and the belief system I despise.  Most of the people in the church are just victims.

But, yes, this means attacking aspects of the church's history.  This means offering pointed criticism of a prophet or other leader.  This means attacking the very heart of the doctrine, which Mormons interpret as being the laws of God.  But the church needs to have a thicker skin.  Instead of crying persecution whenever someone says something it doesn't like, maybe it needs to directly confront the troublesome aspects of its history, its leaders, and its doctrine.

And, no, anonymously posted gospel topics essays on its website and the occasional advice to "give Brother Joseph a break" isn't direct enough.

We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.
 —Henry B. Eyring
This is also true.  But Eyring is part of the problem by continuing to perpetrate a clever deception on his millions of followers.  My parents and my sisters are smart people.  They're well educated and very capable of critical thought.  But they've had great difficulty distinguishing the truth from the clever deception of the church.  When this much sustained, coordinated effort has been poured into maintaining a fraud, no one of any level of intelligence or wisdom is inherently safe from being fooled.

He shed no tears.  That was because the Holy Ghost had long before given him a clear picture of who she was, where she came from, what she had become, and where she was going.
Henry B. Eyring 
I don't consider it noble for Eyring's father to shed no tears after witnessing the passing of his wife.  If his faith that she was going to a better place and he would see her again someday was strong enough to help him through that difficult time, then good for him.  But even with his beliefs in the afterlife, he still was not going to be reunited with his wife for a long time.  Eyring's mother died in 1969.  His father didn't pass until 1981.  My girlfriend and I haven't been together nearly as long as Eyring's parents were, but if I wasn't going to be able to see her or talk to her for the next twelve years, it's a safe bet that I'd be shedding a few tears.

You can believe in the afterlife all you want, but don't pretend that the temporary separation of loved ones isn't still tragic.  And what's more, don't imply that all those Mormons who have wept at the deaths of their loved ones have done so because their faith was somehow weak or incomplete.


  1. It is interesting how something that one person finds faith promoting can be the opposite for another person. I am often miffed at something that was shared in a meeting as though it were amazing, is to me something you would try to hide. We lost my dad a few years ago and one of the hardest things for me was never seeing my mom cry or act like she would miss him. I believe in love. What does it matter to be eternal companions if you don't even mean that much to each other here? I can't imagine getting up in front of a crowd and proudly saying my mom didn't even cry because she knew they'd be together again.

    This talk also bothers me because as a woman, I've felt so unimportant in the LDS church and community. They can say all those nice words to reassure us that we are equal all they want. However, the lack of women's value is so glaring in the church with rarely bothering to mention our contributions other than birthing and raising faithful Mormons. His saying his dad didn't cry is another way of saying that is all she was to him. My husband is my best friend. His contribution to my life is so great that I cry at the thought of losing him. How lost I'd be without my best friend and life companion. I've cried when someone I hardly knew but had touched my life briefly died. Someone who spent their life with you in such an intimate position, been your confidant, friend, lover, and co-parent. Even more than that has put up with you and loved you despite all your flaws, deserves at the very least, tears that say you meant something to them and you'll miss them. It is disgusting how little value relationships are in this church other than for eternal service to the church.

    1. Contributions other than birthing and raising more Mormons are definitely overlooked and downplayed at best.

      One of the girls I grew up with used to be so fascinated by various scientific fields and she was smart and studious enough to learn a lot about them in her spare time. All her facebook posts these days are about her kids and her husband, which I find a little depressing. I mean, if being a stay-at-home mother is all she wants to do, then good for her. It's nothing to be ashamed of, of course. But ten years ago I would have guessed her destined for some kind of cutting-edge research and I worry that her church convinced her that her contributions were better made in domestic life than in scientific advancement. She was bright enough and motivated enough that she could have pursued both. I don't think it's fair the way Mormonism teaches people, especially women, that there is some kind of honor in allowing limits to be imposed on yourself.