I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Something Is Wrong, But I Don't Know What . . .

I read an article entitled, "Sealed Fate Page 1: A burning in Ida Smith’s bosom leads her to Christopher Nemelka’s new spiritual order" in the Salt Lake City Weekly by Stephen Dark after reading the commentary on it in the Standard-Examiner entitled, "Is there an after-the-age-of-reason limit for very old LDS church members?" by Doug Gibson. Don't miss the Grondahl cartoon that accompanies the article. It is hilarious. 

I don't know Ida Smith personally but I knew of her while I was attending BYU. For that matter, I think I knew Doug Gibson as well. If he is who I think he is, he was a year ahead of me at my high school.

Anyway, back to Ida. She has apostatized from the Church and is now a believer in Nemelka and his claims. He says Joseph Smith delivered the gold plates to him and he translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. The sealed portion is available for downloading online apparently.

Ida has been formally excommunicated.

The first time I encountered her was at my Freshman Orientation when I began attending BYU. She headed the Women's Office at the time. She gave an address that largely consisted of some very depressing statistics. All the statistics had to do with how many female BYU students actually end up getting married, getting married before they graduate, actually graduate, get married after they graduate, etc. I couldn't argue with her numbers but boy it was depressing. I felt ready to cry when it was all over. I had a negative reaction to her personally as well.

I thought there was something wrong with her.

All the optimism and excitement I experienced in starting school was dashed rather quickly after listening to her. I hadn't gone to BYU with the sole intent of getting married. I wanted to learn. But, I thought there was a chance I might meet somebody in that vast field of single Mormon men at the Y. I remember her address so vividly because it was such a downer.

The last time I saw her was about seven or eight years later as I was finishing up my first Master's degree. I was walking with my mentor on campus and Ida passed us. My mentor said hello and called her by her first name. She responded by saying hello and using his nickname. She looked just as embittered as I remembered her. I can't remember if I told my mentor about my initial experience with her. I seem to remember his acknowledging that he thought she seemed embittered too but my memory is a bit vague on that point.

I still thought there was something wrong with her.

Fast forward to 2011 and I find out Ida is really off the deep end. Gibson provides a thought provoking question on just what should we do with people who may be a little too old for their own good. Dementia is a reality many of us will have to face, probably with members of our own family or in our responsibilities in local leadership positions.

There was a lady in one of my wards with dementia. She couldn't remember if she was a Mormon or not. She thought maybe she had been "sprinkled" but she wasn't sure. Sprinkled?! Oh my. . .

I still think there is something wrong with Ida Smith. It is now simply more evident than it was back in 1980 when the idea first occurred to me.

The people I know who have apostatized or been excommunicated have all done so gradually. There were always signs that something wasn't right in their lives, often for years before their formal break with the Church.

 I don't think it ever happens abruptly. Satan's too careful for that.


  1. Hearing someone read a few statistics at BYU that depressed you, passing by them in the briefest of interludes on campus, then reading an article about them years later--you think gives you permission to gossip, use innuendo, and disparagement to tarnish the character of a person you appear to have never had a personal conversation with???

    And you "think there is something wrong with THEM"? Geeze!

  2. Anonymous Commenter Wrote: Hearing someone read a few statistics at BYU that depressed you, passing by them in the briefest of interludes on campus, then reading an article about them years later--you think gives you permission to gossip, use innuendo, and disparagement to tarnish the character of a person you appear to have never had a personal conversation with???

    It is unfortunate the above poster thought I was gossiping, using innuendo, disparaging or tarnishing Ida Smith. I clearly stated I was expressing MY thoughts and feelings about her after explaining EXACTLY what my interaction with her was.

    Suggesting that I THOUGHT there was something wrong with Ida Smith is a much milder reaction to her than the above commenter had towards me, someone I have "never had a personal conversation with" I might add.

    I don't necessarily think personal conversations will produce an accurate assessment of someone's character.

    However, to use this commenter's standard in evaluating his/her comments to me then he/she obviously is violating the standard by attacking me in the way he/she did. I believe this fits the definition of hypocrisy well.

    Ida Smith seems to have taken the Gibson article in stride. In it,he reported her reaction to it as well as her request of the Grondahl cartoon which she apparently loved. See:

    Ida Smith's reaction to Gibson's follow-up, that he reports, suggests her reasoning powers are intact. She makes some good points. I wouldn't be inclined to suggest dementia at all.

    I think her reaction suggests keen presence of mind as well as a healthy appreciation for humor.

    My compliments to her.

  3. I just read on some blog that there is a meeting at the SL downtown library, where the man who says he translated the sealed portion will be speaking. I think it starts at 10 o'clock in the morning.I'll bet the lady will be there too. Why don't you consider going and giving both of them a fair shake?

  4. The link I provided in my comment above includes this information:

    "Ms. Smith also invites those interested to meet her and her faith’s prophet, Christopher Nemelka, at the Salt Lake City main library on March 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main theater."

    Since I live in Indiana it would not be possible for me to attend the presentation at the SLC Downtown library.

  5. Well then maybe you could read the sealed portion there in Indiana, and report your thoughts back to us. I hear it's free on their website(unless you also judge a book by its cover?).

  6. I don't judge books by their cover. I know where Nemelka's web site and the sealed portion is. I have for some time, even before I read the first article on Ida Smith.

    Nemelka also responded personally to the City Weekly article. I read that too.

    When I judge anything I go to the source documents and statements. I don't like to read anything that has been filtered through anyone's bias if I can help it.

    If I do or don't read the sealed portion I will not report my thoughts and feelings on this blog. I would end this blog completely if I decided to embrace Nemelka's translation. That would be the only honorable thing to do.

    (Unfortunately, there are a number of other reasons that could force me to abandon this blog including employment and health related ones.)

    At this point I do not see anything lacking in the L.D.S. Church, or my faith. There is no compelling reason for me to read Nemelka's translation at this time. There are other religious and non-religious tasks I consider more important and are higher on my list of priorities.

    I shall evaluate Nemelka and his efforts by the same criteria I judge everything which includes source documents, source statements but especially what he and his efforts produce.

    I think the anonymous commenter on this blog posting I have been responding to is the same person.

    If he/she is representative of Nemelka or Nemelka's beliefs then I think he/she is a poor representative because the comments have been antagonistic, inflammatory and personally insulting. This is not Christlike behavior.

    My initial blog posting was simply my impressions of Ida Smith. The commenter has tried to make Nemelka, the sealed portion and my personal character as the issues instead.

    I resist fallacious ad hominem arguments regardless of where they come from.

  7. I worked for Ida when I was a grad student at BYU in the 1980's. When I discovered she was excommunicated, at first I was shocked. Then as I thought back on my experiences with her, I became less and less shocked.

    Ida's intents were good...but she rarely spoke of the Gospel, the Atonement... She was casual in her approach with Heavenly Father. I never heard her talk about prayer, the Holy Ghost.

    She was an important person on campus. She was adored and revered by many. I remember friends being awed that I knew such an important person. I also remember thinking that they didn't know the "real" Ida. She could be incredibly insensitive and lacking in compassion and love.

    She seemed to do what was right, but there was something missing!

    I hope she comes back. Her excommunication reminds me that we can have, as she did, friendships with the General Authorities, sought after jobs in the church (she was the Gospel Doctrine teacher for years), an outstanding family lineage and yet still not be converted to the Gospel.

    I hope she comes back...

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