Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

Russell M. Nelson is a runaway train.

Of course, I'm pleased to hear that the church is making moves to try to limit family separation during important life events.  I still have one sister who isn't married, so maybe I'll actually be able to attend a Mormon family wedding someday.


I'm also amused at our current Godless Leader's strategy.  Almost every one of his policy changes is a potential shelf-breaker—and when he makes so many of them in such a short period of time, it's the equivalent of slamming a bowling ball down on an already creaking shelf.  The problem is that when these changes are implicity and often explicitly depicted as revelation and the will of God, people who benefit from the changes can start to wonder why God couldn't have easily provided this gospel golconda sooner.

Imagine you're a recently returned sister missionary.  The last few months of your mission, you were able to wear pants and it was awesome.  It was little change, perhaps, but it made a discernible difference in your quality of life in the often grueling mission field.  And then you learn that the little girl your brother and his husband are raising won't be automatically excluded from baptism prior to adulthood...but you wonder why there was a three-year period in which your adopted niece was treated so differently because of her parents' choices.  And now you learn that your whole family—including your gay brother and your apostate sister—can be present at your future wedding ceremony!

That's great, but at a certain point, you may begin to wonder why you should be celebrating when the church "fixes" its own policy.  Who decided women shouldn't wear pants in the first place?  Who thought it was a good idea to exclude children of gay couples?  Who originally instituted the practice of having legal wedding ceremonies inside the temple instead of just the spiritual sealing?  You may begin to associate changes in policy with the cessation of injustices.  And you may begin to wonder how and why God's true church could have been the source of these easily avoidable injustices.

If Nelson were the dynasty-building mastermind he thinks he is, he would play things more slowly.  Mormonism has had time to adjust to the fact that early leaders were racist, because that was "fixed" 41 years ago.  We've had time to sit with the implications of polygamy because that was "fixed" 129 years ago.  And while most of these recent changes are far less momentous than those more famous shifts, they affect a lot of people and they're affecting them in rapid succession.

When you're shady occasionally, it takes a long time for people to add everything up.  When your shadiness manifests itself in a flurry of activity, that sets the alarms whooping and the klaxons blaring.  This is exactly why the guys who just pulled off the perfect crime agree to lay low for a while.  Because people, whether they're law enforcement officers or cult novitiates, eventually forget or move on or focus on more pressing matters, and the moment when the tide of complacency rises again is the sweet spot for resuming shady activity.  Has Nelson never seen a heist movie?  Maybe too many of the good ones are rated R.

So while I applaud the apostles for their occasional awkward toddler steps toward transparency and inclusiveness and non-abusiveness, I also cackle with delight at the knowledge that they're unwittingly working against themselves.


  1. It’s quite obvious the church is trying to look more racially diverse. Just open the link to the church owned Deseret Morning News article you referenced in your post. It pictures a lovely couple who would’ve been forbidden from entering any temple just 42 years ago simply because of the color of their skin. Brings to mind a line from my favorite Book of Mormon song.

    “And I believe that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.”

    I wonder how many couples will still choose only the temple wedding to prove their higher level of righteousness. I mean, who wants to start out their marriage by having an unholy civil ceremony? What if they died in a car accident on the way to the temple? Would someone immediately perform a proxy sealing for them, or would it be understood as God’s will that they not be sealed at all. Hmm...something to ponder.

    1. That's a good point. I'm betting some particularly gung-ho members, even if they have close family who won't be able to attend a sealing, will opt to follow their own higher law and forego the civil ceremony because they think it's more righteous.

    2. I was recently talking with a woman who was super excited that her son finally called her from his mission. I asked, can’t he call you every week? She said that he’s too far away from a phone to do that. That makes me wonder how many missionaries don’t call, because they think it’ll distract them from the work and more blessings will come if they deprive themselves of the opportunity. I’ve been in and around the church for so long that I think about screwed-up, ridiculously stupid stuff like that. Crazy isn’t it?

    3. It's like the old "I know it's not in the Word of Wisdom, but I don't drink Coke so I can be even more obedient" cranked up to 11. I did a bunch of stuff like that myself...so while I agree that it's ridiculous and screwed up, it's not particularly surprising.

      Which is screwed up too, I guess.