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.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Divisive and Suggestive of Apostasy. Well Said!

The Church issued a really classy reply to feminist agitation on being left out of certain dialogues taking place between LDS women and Public Affairs:
Yet there are a few people with whom Public Affairs and General Authorities do not engage, such as individuals or groups who make non-negotiable demands for doctrinal changes that the Church can’t possibly accept. No matter what the intent, such demands come across as divisive and suggestive of apostasy rather than encouraging conversation through love and inclusion. Ultimately, those kinds of actions can only result in disappointment and heartache for those involved.
Non-negotiable demands. That couldn't mean women want the priesthood or else could it? An ultimatum. Hmm. What scripture stories we have of individuals making ultimatums to God or Church leaders do not end well.

For these demands to end well, the requesting party has to be willing to take "No" for an answer. Are they? It seems not. They keep demanding. Hmm. This sounds like Martin Harris asking Joseph to ask Heavenly Father two and three more times when he didn't like God's answer that Joseph relayed back to him. That whole thing did not end well...

Also, aren't we taught not to covet? That's pretty basic. It's in the 10 Commandments. We should be content with what God has allotted to us.

The whole situation reeks of questionable tactics. For example, just because someone's, or a group's intent, is good does not mean that their actions are. We tend to judge ourselves by out intent and other people on their actions.

I don't much care for the group's tactics or their stated intents, which don't seem to square with their words. Their goals are at odds with revealed doctrine and their tactics are straight out of the 60s civil rights period. Whine and complain when you don't get what you want. Seek to constantly draw attention to yourself and your particular goal when all Mormons are seeking the words of prophets and guidance from them.

This might be okay if the issue was civil rights, but it isn't. The priesthood isn't a right. It's a responsibility. Besides, spiritual power of leaders doesn't flow up through the people like it does in a democracy. Spiritual power and authority flows down from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Political pressure by members on leaders in the hope to effect change is misguided. They should be praying their hearts out to the real decision maker, Heavenly Father. And, if that doesn't work, they should abandon their quest.

I agree with Church PR. these actions "can only result in disappointment and heartache for those involved."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Corrupt Church: A Relief Society Example

What follows is a conglomeration of tactics used at a variety of all the Relief Society meetings I've attended, anywhere I've been whether I was a member of the ward or not. Keep in mind that I'm not advocating these tactics, simply illustrating them. FYI: I don't know exactly how many wards I've been a member of. The number is somewhere between 35 and 50.

Be so disorganized that you start really late. Ignore the prescribed time between Sunday School and Relief Society and extend it out as much as you can. Being disorganized and scattered is a real help. The later you start the meeting, the less you will have to do.

Make certain you don't conduct opening exercises properly. We are told it should be organized and brief. If you are disorganized and long winded; you can fill up a lot of minutes without saying much of anything, or anything useful.

Never address sisters by name. Simply assume that everyone knows everyone and you must be an idiot if you don't know Sister Smith, who is the daughter of Sister Jones, who is a cousin to Sister Brown, who has been in the ward for at least 40 years.

Clutter up the weeks with craft activities and social events, if you have any Relief Society events at all. Just because the motto has always been, "Charity Never Faileth" doesn't mean it hasn't failed in your ward. Who says you should serve people, render aid or any other type of relief. Church should be fun, for you!

Make sure you announce, and then cancel, a lot of events. Sisters need to understand that nothing can be relied upon and you frequently fail to follow through with anything.

Mess up the music. Never know if you have anyone who can play the piano, actually in attendance. Waste time by asking if anyone knows how to play. 

If you are forced to use recorded music, never master your equipment. It wastes more time if you mess around with it, trying to get it to work properly. The possibilities are endless here. If you have to sing without it, you can only sing one verse a cappella and you'll end up with time on your hands.

Several musical false starts with the equipment can ensure the audience feels frustrated and jangled.

Don't put announcements anywhere, especially online or in the bulletin. This way you can rehearse them all verbally and waste more time. This technique has the added benefit of allowing you to get a lot of facts wrong, like the date, time or something of similar importance.

No one in the audience will be able to remember anything or have time to write it down, insuring they will not attend and you won't have to be bothered with them. This also prevents everyone not in actual physical attendance from ever knowing about anything.

Inject constant comments into the proceedings, especially if you think they are funny. This ensures that anyone trying to speak is interrupted constantly, the spirit cannot be felt, and you have drawn sufficient attention to yourself. After all, you are number one, aren't you!

Send multiple clip boards and signup sheets around to all the sisters, the more the better. You want them to be confused and distracted from what's going on up front.

Relief Society means you make crafty thingys. Make sure all available surfaces and wall spaces are covered with them. You want people to have as many visual distractions as possible. You wouldn't want them actually concentrating on the lesson or other highly relevant things, like feeling the spirit.

Be sure and squeeze the actual lesson time down to around 20 minutes or less. Really corrupt wards can eliminate it entirely, by declaring that there is no time for it. Since a good teacher would have prepared 30-40 minutes of lesson material, she will be disheartened by having her preparation rendered futile, ensuring she will be unhappy and resentful in her calling.

Encourage other sisters to hijack the lesson away from the teacher, so that irrelevant tangents can be pursued. Better yet, if you are leadership, hijack it yourself. Pontificate so that everyone knows that your opinion is the most important one in the room. You are leadership, after all.

Make sure teachers are poorly trained. This way they cover very little of the actual lesson and try to cram in everything, including the kitchen sink, in the last few minutes and not have time for the important issues.

It's an added plus if they go overtime. because then children will open and close the doors. trying to see if the meeting is over while increasing pandemonium. There is the added benefit that you can simply dispense with any closing hymn by declaring that time is gone. If you haven't done your job well, you might be forced to sing one verse of the closing hymn and we don't want that happening.

Make sure older sisters visit other older sisters and younger sisters visit younger sisters. If anyone actually does their visiting teaching, this will ensure they only get acquainted with a limited number of sisters their age.

Well, you may want to delay constructing visiting teaching assignments at all. You can wait six months at least. It will reduce your workload and people will move out, never having visiting teachers or being visiting teachers. This is especially likely with young adults who are highly mobile.

Treat younger sisters as visitors to Relief Society, instead of as equal sisters. The young should respect their elders, which means the young don't deserve any respect from their elders. Keeping young people alienated from people, events and especially participation will help them feel marginalized.

Don't just ignore the Handbook, treat it as thought it couldn't possibly have any useful or relevant guidance and others will learn to do the same.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What We Think Isn't What We Should Know and Other Reflections on Mormon Violence

In political science I was taught that peace is more than the absence of war. I would add that war is more than strong rhetoric and there was plenty of rhetoric in the early church and on the frontier. Most of the rhetoric from that time period would sound harsh to modern ears, especially those tempered by current ideas of tolerance.

The new topic page on lds.org entitled, "Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints," addresses violence against Mormons, as well as violence by Mormons. I like it. It said things I had long since assumed.

For example, I figured the Danites probably existed; but their numbers, activities and importance was probably exaggerated, especially by Sampson Avard.

At the Latter-day Saint settlement of Far West, some leaders and members organized a paramilitary group known as the Danites, whose objective was to defend the community against dissident and excommunicated Latter-day Saints as well as other Missourians. Historians generally concur that Joseph Smith approved of the Danites but that he probably was not briefed on all their plans and likely did not sanction the full range of their activities.
Entities such as the Danites probably organized with worthy ideals, but quickly degenerated into lawlessness and a sort of twisted vigilante justice. It's very difficult to morally control the masses, once they get out of hand. I only bet on the highly moral, thinking individuals to maintain their ideals.

The notion that this Danite organization continues to our modern day, in secret, and is controlled by the First Presidency has always been absurd. Robert Kirby's observations are insightful:
If the First Presidency really does maintain a secret Danite squad, how come I'm still here? More importantly, why haven't I been asked to serve on it?
Kirby further points out that after years of lampooning the church, while remaining a member:
...[A]ll I ever get is pissy feedback telling me that I'm going to hell. Nobody ever actually tries to send me there.
As I look around our modern world and analyze the news and commentary that surround us, I can't help but reflect. We can't agree about what's happening in our world now, let alone why it's happening. Why do we think that shining a magnifying glass on fragmentary evidence from the past will give us a complete picture of history?

Historians, along with everyone else, keep looking at correspondence, directives, news articles and other so-called objective evidence to decide the questions that darken our LDS history.

I don't think this will help. Whether or not Brigham Young ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre is irrelevant. (For the record, I don't think he did and no one can prove it one way or the other.) The real question in understanding this tragedy is whether the perpetrators thought he did, or if they thought he would have if he knew what they thought they knew.

People act on their imperfect beliefs and their imperfect knowledge, rather than objective evidence. Historians study objective evidence, what there is of it, and it can't prove anything. Historians can't get into people's heads and that's where the real evidence is. They can only study other stuff and the other stuff isn't that helpful.

I'm glad we have historians and that they study history. Just don't expect me to swallow it all.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pray, You Idiot!

Religion was infused into my high school sports life. As I think back, this was totally unfair. Here's how the exchange went on the day I was personally, and directly, affected:

We were in the locker room before the volleyball game was set to start. Coach had just finished giving us our customary pep talk. Suddenly her gaze fell on me and she said,

Coach: Krista, you're on.

Me: (innocently) I'm on what?


Me: Yes Ma'am (I dutifully prayed.)

Although the ACLU may get it's panties in a wad over this incident, this was probably the least objectionable comment uttered by my coach. Her method of motivation was criticism, constant lecturing and yelling.

Not even remotely a religious person, I suspect that praying wasn't her idea either. It was probably customary for the times.

Since almost everybody in my high school was LDS, most of the prayers were Mormon prayers. However, we hit on a solution that worked out well and that I've not seen implemented anywhere else.

We had the Buddhist kids pray.

They would give a nice little non-denominational prayer that pleased everyone and offended no one. Some might not even consider it a prayer. However, it was prayer enough for most people and not-prayer enough for the others. What's more, it never hurt anyone.

My point? I don't have one exactly, but I'm sure there's a point in here somewhere...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Paunchy, Balding, Near-sighted and Thoroughly Normal...

I hesitate to bring this up, but not because I'm afraid of the subject.

I am afraid to use the term. If I use it this post won't come up on Google searches, if the SafeSearch feature is turned on, like it is on my computer.

Okay, then veiled references will have to do.

Are Mormon women unduly conscious of their physical appearance and taking serious steps to augment it?

Yikes! I've given it away.

Okay, perhaps I need to take another brave step into the unknown and admit that I am highly disturbed by... the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

You may not think these topics are related, but they are. The women in Choir look, forgive me, fake. It is difficult to find even a handful of women that:

  • Have not obviously dyed their hair.
  • Do not have excessive makeup, especially eye makeup.
  • Do not appear to have had face lifts.
  • Are not obviously trying to look younger than they are.

High definition television is revealing and the above have bothered me for some time. The men look okay. They look like men -- paunchy, balding, near-sighted and thoroughly normal.

I hadn't thought to conduct my physical evaluation of female Choir participants below neck level.

Utah is my home state and I will always love it, but I think people there are preoccupied with looks, especially the women.

When I headed east to pursue education, I was astonished at the couples I saw on campus. I thought to myself, "That girl wouldn't be able to get a date in Utah. She's not cute enough."

I also learned something else. Women in locales with higher humidity cannot cover all their blemishes with makeup. They would melt.

It is easy to look good in Utah. The dry air preserves makeup and hair styles. These are battles I lost in other states. With my age and ill-health, I have given up entirely. However, I could still, um, augment myself in other ways...

Is this...augmentation... actually common in Mormondom? Do I really want an answer? The evidence cited in the article is persuasive. Also, a significant other, who shall remain nameless, thought it was common in Mormondom, long before he met me. Should I have known this? After all, I lived in the state for many many years.

It is only with the rationale found at the bottom of the article that my brain can even entertain the possibility as plausible. Are Mormon women trying to repair what child bearing has done to their bodies? That, I can accept, even if I don't like it.

I worked on my brain when I was younger. I knew that what looks I had would eventually fade and I would need something else to rely on. My body managed to escape child bearing but not necessarily by choice.

What's wrong with looking as natural as the men? What's wrong with other Mormon women looking like me -- paunchy, balding, near-sighted and thoroughly normal?