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October 23, 2007

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Delusional in Dallas

A little help here would be nice. Now what will I tell my friends and co-worker to excuse polygamy? I’ve been using the old “ Utard had more women then men” excuse since my mission. In fact, that was the mission approved answer handed down from church leadership and it always confused everyone to the point of ending the discussion. Now what?

mollyfurie

You do understand, don't you, that 'Universalism' has a very specific meaning and was a religion of its own until it merged with Unitarianism? (On which occasion, my Aunt Mary quit the Universalists.) Universalism held that all humans were saved by Christ's sacrifice and that baptism was therefore unnecessary.

Equality

From Wikipedia:
"Universalist beliefs exist within many faiths, and many Universalists practice in a variety of traditions, drawing upon the same universal principles but customizing the practice to suit their audience." I use the term "Universalist" in a generic sense (perhaps I should uncapitalize it) in juxtaposition to dogmatic literalist faiths like Mormonism. Yes, I am aware of the history of Unitarianism and Universalism and the merger of the two into Unitarian Universalism. The Universalism to which I refer would include but not be limited to Unitarian Universalism. Thanks for commenting, mollyfurie.

Jordan F.

D in D- I have never used that "Utard" (and what, exactly is a "utard?" anyone who comes from Utah? good thing I am not from there...)

When asked about polygamy, I always just tell people that those early LDS church members were doing what they thought the Lord asked them to do, just like the fundamentalist mormons are today. I try to express no opinion regarding whether it was right or not, I just state things how they are. I don't think there is a better explanation for most polygamy practitioners other than that they are doing (and in the case of mainstream mormonism, did) what they thought the Lord required of them. Nothing more, nothing less.

And Utah is a beautiful state with an ever-increasing population of people who are not LDS. I don't think it is very nice to apply such a derogatory term ("Utard") to such a beautiful state just because you disagree with the religious beliefs of some of its resident. Every state in this country has something wonderful about it. I would not denigrate any of them, and am sorry to see you do so. It seems beneath the level of tolerance and mutual respect set by Equality on this blog which most of us generally try to adhere to when commenting. I wonder how many Damu citizens who love Utah despite its mormon origins would agree with you here that Utah is so backward it is really "utard" even in jest.

It's kinda like calling a whole discrete group of people "delusional". It is not very nice, even if you're kidding. Just sayin'.

D in D

Jordan F- Case in point, Sister Beck’s talk. To tell the group of LDS women to “put a smile on” and go forth hoping that things will miraculously get better, is rather humorous. I will not make judgment concerning this talk, as directed by the leadership of the church(being directed not to make fun of something is rather funny in itself). But is this not putting our “heads in the sand” and avoiding the issues. Maybe even allowing ourselves to live in a make believe or (I hate to use the word) “delusional” state of mind?

Sorry about the offensive language, I’ll watch how I present myself in the future. For a definition of Utard, this would apply to anyone living in the valley who can’t or won’t see past the mountains. Not very nice, I’ll search for a better term. Never said Utah wasn’t beautiful, I love it there.

Jordan F.

I don't think they were directing not to "make fun" but rather not to be "critical." I think there may actually be a difference there. And if I recall, there was more to the Beck talk than simply "putting a smile" on your face and "hoping" things will "miraculously" get better. My memory of that talk includes lots and lots AND LOTS of things women should supposedly be DOING. I won't comment on the effect of such a talk on many women who already strain themselves to the max to be doing, however. But I do remember an emphasis on doing things that has been the brunt of criticism, not an emphasis on "delusional" hopes. No, the emphasis there is definitely on doing. And doing more. And more. etc.

I sincerely try to understand people, DiD, but it is quite difficult for me to understand why people think it is funny to just broadly paint a diverse population with trite words and phrases such as "utard," "delusional," and whatever other beauties you have hidden in there. It is much better to try to understand people on an individual, person-to-person basis. That is what I try to do, and it helps me because it allows me to understand the person, like you, equality, brother x over there in elder's quorum, sister y sitting in the front in gospel doctrine, etc., and to appreciate and value them personally as I appreciate and value all of those mentioned.

I think there is a place in this wide world for people who "can't see past the mountains" just as there is a place for those who do. And my libertarian leanings also tell me there is a place in society for fundamentalist mormons, a place for pagans, a place for all people to believe and behave as they choose, so long as it does not harm others' right to do the same, without much intervention from outside parties, like the government, you, or me.

Jordan F.

One last comment on this digression from fmh's thoughtful letter:

The term on which "utard" is based, "retard", is considered very offensive and juvenile by most people in today's society. Just a thought.

dpc

The following link is on that very point:

http://www.fray.ca/musings/retarded.html

D in D

Jordan, Jordan, Jordan,

Over time, I will illustrate how an isolated region of the country can become delusional in their thought. It’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for everyone to do as they please, we’re talking about right or wrong. And there is a right or wrong, I believe there is one truth or in other words a Healthy or Unhealthy way to live. Next time you’re in Utah, visit Southern Utah and tell me if the fundamentalist girls have any rights? Rights to an education, rights to free speech, rights to find love in a relationship, rights to do as they please? I don’t think so. You honestly believe that religions aren’t harming other’s rights? And do you really think that the fine people in Southern Utah selected that lifestyle for themselves? Our rights to practice do involve/infringe on others, our children and their children to come.

Not sure if I understand the difference between being “critical” and “making fun”. I tend to make fun of those things I’m critical of. It makes me laugh to think of my grandfather in the church office building planning the counter attack. I can hear him now, “children in my generation were meant to be seen, not heard. What do the children of today think they’re doing voicing their opinions? I’ve got it; let’s tell them it’s of Satan and that Satan will have power over them.” That’s how my 88 year old grandfather would handle it.

Jordan, I would love to be able to get to know everyone on a person-to-person basis; unfortunately, I just don’t have the time. I’m going to have to go with some trending data.

Jordan F.

So its "trending data" that you were relying upon in reaching the conclusion that led to your "utard" remark? I would like to see this trending data classifying various citizens of Utah and/or geographic regions into this "utard" category you speak of.

Jordan F.

Look, although I am trying to get over it, it clearly bothers me that you so glibly label anyone who does not see things as you do in the LDS church "utards" and "delusional". But it does not make me any less friendly towards you. Friends can disagree you know.

Equality

Jordan F. said: "And if I recall, there was more to the Beck talk than simply "putting a smile" on your face and "hoping" things will "miraculously" get better."

Indeed there was. For example, there was this:
"Mothers who know desire to bear children." Implication: if you don't desire to bear children, you are not one of the "Mothers Who Know."

And this:
"young couples should not postpone having children . . ." Apparently, a rule without an exception. If you postpone having children, you are not a mother who knows.

And:
"Faithful daughters of God desire children." If you don't desire children, you are faithless.

More from Sister Beck:
"I have visited sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on the earth where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn-out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection; their sons wear white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts." Yes, the all-important ironed dresses, perfect hair, white shirts, and "missionary" haircuts. Your kids don't have these? Well, step aside, you "mother who doesn't know."

Another gem:
"Mothers who know are nurturers. . . . Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world." Yes, LDS moms should be in the home cooking and cleaning. We've already established they should be pregnant. Should they also be barefoot?

More:
"They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening." So, "Mothers who know" spend all the time they are not doing housework on church-y things and their role is to make sure their kids go on missions and go to the temple. Success for mothers is to be measured by how well their children end up serving the institution as adults.

Further:
"Mothers who know are always teachers." Hey, now we are getting somewhere. Something I can agree with. But wait: "Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center." Oh, I see. Mothers are to teach their kids the way the church teaches missionaries in the MTC--with a 100% focus on strict church rules, no outside media or information (Beck says elsewhere in the talk that mothers should "not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting.") So, the "teaching" that mothers are supposed to do is to be modeled on the "teaching" that takes place in the MTC--where they tell missionaries what to think, what to say, what to read, what to listen to, etc. Nice.

Wait, there's more:
"Mothers who know do less." Another point I agree with. LDS mothers should do less: less worrying about measuring up, less mindless church activities, less church meetings, less trying to make sure their kids' hair is "perfectly brushed," less fretting about making sure their house is spotless, and way less listening to 50s-era conventional wisdom from women like Julie Beck.

Here we go again:
"Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom for the next 50 years." Again, motherhood is reduced to the job of producing good little soldiers for the Mormon kingdom. Change "gospel of Jesus Christ" to "Communist message" and "the Lord's kingdom" to "China" and this could have been uttered by Chairman Mao 60 years ago.

This is a talk crying out to be criticized and ridiculed. The recent remarks by President Hinckley and President Packer essentially equating criticism of this talk with heresy are outrageous but, unfortunately, not unsurprising to me. Jordan, what do you think of President Packer's efforts to squelch any criticism of talks given by General Authorities and Auxiliary leaders?

D in D

The trending data actually came from a twenty year study including a six year on location study where I actually lived amongst the saints in Zion. Two of these years, I served a mission for the LDS church which involved riding my 10 speed around Utah handing out copies of the BOM. The other four years were spent on the BYU campus interviewing the female students. During this six year time period, I met and got acquainted (person-to-person) with hundreds of saints. I compiled all the data and performed some simple regression analysis and came to my conclusions. The data is available upon request.

Jordan F.

Thanks for the reminder. Absolutely!

Jordan F.

I think that Packer has a right to his opinion, and a right to share it with wards and congregations where ever he goes.

And thanks for backing me up on Beck there, equality- see DiD?!? There is apparently a lot more to this than putting a smile on your face as a front to "delusional" beliefs.

DiD perhaps you should give a talk in your ward laying out this data about what constitutes and does not constitute a "utard". I am sure that would be interesting...

D in D

Equality - your comments have approached “critical”, I want nothing to do with allowing Satan power.

D in D

Jordan – Not sure if that topic is on the church approved sacrament meeting list. But with the bishop’s consent, I would be glad to present my findings at ward conference. I would of course, have to water it down some. I don’t think the saints are prepared to handle all the data at once.

Equality

Jordan,

I think DiD already acknowledged that the term "Utard" is not nice and that he will search for a better term. I agree that the term is offensive and that such terminology most often serves as a barrier to rather than a facilitator of civil discourse.

Equality

"I think that Packer has a right to his opinion, and a right to share it with wards and congregations where ever he goes."

Well, of course he has that right. Do you agree with him? Do you share his opinion? If not, would you feel comfortable saying so?

Jordan F.

Well, I personally see no reason for faithful latter-day saints to criticize her for what I perceive to be, after further reflection (I must admit I was quite defensive on my wife's behalf when I first heard this talk), the setting of an ideal or a standard that would be good to strive towards. I therefore see nothing wrong with President Packer expressing his opinion that her remarks should not be criticized by LDS church members. Whether or not I personally agree with his comments are irrelevant. I will say that I see his point, and will try to respect it and follow his advice not to criticize Beck for her remarks.

D in D

Jordan, you never answered my Question.

It’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for everyone to do as they please, we’re talking about right or wrong. And there is a right or wrong, I believe there is one truth or in other words a Healthy or Unhealthy way to live. Next time you’re in Utah, visit Southern Utah and tell me if the fundamentalist girls have any rights? Rights to an education (NO), rights to free speech (NO), rights to find love in a relationship (NO), rights to do as they please(and NO again)? I don’t think so. You honestly believe that religions aren’t harming others rights? And do you really think that the fine people in Southern Utah selected that lifestyle for themselves? Our rights to practice do involve/infringe on others, our children and their children to come.

Equality

"Whether or not I personally agree with his comments are irrelevant."

Why do you think your opinion is irrelevant? You didn't answer my hypothetical. If you did disagree with President Packer, would you feel comfortable in voicing your disagreement in public (like, say, on this blog)? If not, does that fact say anything interesting about LDS culture in 2007?

Jordan F.

Of course I would feel comfortable expressing that opinion. The point is that I need not opine one way or the other, because I am choosing to support Packer by withholding criticism from Beck.

There are often times where we may disagree or feel critical about something a church leader has said, but unless the advice/counsel given by that church leader is actually immoral or unconscionable, which I don't find most advice to be, I see no reason to speak out against it and/or be critical. In fact, my own personal grumblings about something are often just the result of my own unfair biases and tendencies. So regardless of whether I agree with what he said (and I do, for the most part, there I opined...), I see no reason not to support it.

Sister Mary Lisa

Jordan F.~

You perceive Beck's talk as "the setting of an ideal or a standard that would be good to strive towards"...

Would you feel Beck's ideas were ideally sound if she were directing all her comments to you as a man?

Women are harmed by such archaic "ideals" and so are men. This promotion of a standard that basically says a woman's value and worth is to be determined by her domestic goddess skills and the perfection of her children's appearance is insidious at best. The underlying and obvious message that women need to be doing more to prove their worth sucks at best. There are men who listened to this outrageous talk and then heard Packer say not to criticize her ideas who look at their wives and think wow, she's not anywhere close to ideal, is she? They and their poor wives are harmed by this. You can't tell me there won't be fallout from this.

In short, Beck's talk is offensive. As is Packer's directive not to criticize such teachings. Watching men and women staunchly defend this talk and its message as the "ideal" women should adopt really grinds me. I can't support it even a little. Just once it'd be great to hear a female (or male) leader tell the women how wonderful they are in all their glorious diversity and in their differing life situations. Just once it'd be nice to feel like a valid and worthy contributor within the church without emphasis being placed on housewifely perfection.

Jordan F.

So, DiD, do you think religion should be banned?

I had thought based on previous discussions with you that you were critical of other LDS members who looked upon that lifestyle with disdain. Where the government should and should not step in is tricky and has caused 200 years of litigation in the Supreme Court. Obviously, polygamy is illegal in this country, so that is one place where the people have decided it is appropriate for the government to step in. That is probably sound public policy, given the oppression that women and children are often subject to in polygamous arrangements. So, I guess there the government should intervene given the high externalities imposed on society by that belief. So good point.

Still, that a ban against polygamy may be sound public policy does not make its practitioners delusional.

Equality

"Still, that a ban against polygamy may be sound public policy does not make its practitioners delusional."

True enough. But do you not think that some of the practitioners of polygamy are delusional? Brian David Mitchell? Warren Jeffs? Ron and Dan Lafferty? Ervil LeBaron?

Jordan F.

I hear you SML, I hear you. And I am empathetic to your feelings here. But that said, I see no reason why I, as an active, believing LDS church member, need to openly voice such criticism.

Jordan F.

Surely some would fit into the narrow clinical definition, I am sure. But that is not my call to make, because I am not a trained psychologist.

Jordan F.

"Calculating" or "manipulative" might be a better word to describe some of those people than "delusional."

Jordan F.

I like this- we are slowly but surely directing the conversation towards one of the actual posted topics- polygamy. On that topic, let me share a quote that Equality wrote almost exactly two and a half years ago at millennial star. Here, equality is disagreeing with the position that it would make no sense for some things to be moral one day and then for the same act to be "immoral" the next. Take it away, equality:

"I disagree. For example, for me, engaging in sexual intercourse would have been immoral on December 8, 1989 (the day before my wedding day) but not immoral on December 10, 1989. Same act, different date. One immoral, the other pefectly moral. You may say that not only the date had changed--that an intervening act of some significance occurred between the 8th and 10th of December and that this intervening act changes the calculus. You would be correct. But just as the ritual act of a wedding ceremony conducted by one with proper authority could change the nature of an act from moral to immoral, so the act of one having authority can (and did) change plural marriage from immoral, to moral, and back to immoral. The doctrine really has not changed and I (for one, there are those here in the 'nacle who disagree) see no meaningful contradiction between Jacob 2 and D&C 132. The default position is that polygamy is immoral and not to be practiced. The Lord, through his servants, can change this, at which point polygamy that is approved by the proper priesthood channels becomes moral. The Lord can later revoke the command, at which point polygamy becomes immoral once again. So, yes, determining whether polygamy is moral or immoral does depend on the date on the calendar--in relation to the date on which the Lord's most recent revelation on the subject has been recieved by his authorized servant."

Oh, how the mighty have fallen... ;)

Sister Mary Lisa

"I hear you SML, I hear you. And I am empathetic to your feelings here. But that said, I see no reason why I, as an active, believing LDS church member, need to openly voice such criticism."

Do it for the women, Jordan F. Do it for your wife. Do it for you.

I imagine many active, believing LDS church members in 1970 said the same thing to themselves: I see no reason why I, as an active, believing LDS church member, need to openly voice my criticism over Blacks being banned from holding the priesthood.

Do it for you, Jordan.

Jordan F.

I don't think these are similar issues.

Equality

I'm so embarrassed by that quote. "I before E except after C." Duh.

Equality

"'Calculating' or 'manipulative' might be a better word to describe some of those people than 'delusional.'"

I agree. In that they are similar to Joseph Smith in his practice of polygamy; for example, with Helen Mar Kimball and his attempt to secure as a wife the lovely young Nancy Rigdon. Right?

Jordan F.

I disagree. Respectfully, of course.

Equality

We must be wearing different lenses. :-)

D in D

I'm with SML on this one.

Sister Mary Lisa

Thanks, DinD.

Equality

"let me share a quote that Equality wrote almost exactly two and a half years ago at millennial star."

In my defense, at the time I was speaking as a man and not a heretic.

D in D

If we could only get SML into the church leadership in Salt Lake, all these things would go away.

Sister Mary Lisa

Jordan ~

Women's issues in the church have many similarities to the priesthood ban for blacks.

Regardless, if you felt as you said ("I must admit I was quite defensive on my wife's behalf when I first heard this talk"), then you should feel compelled to say so out loud, not compelled to silence yourself when you know something is not right, just because Packer said to. The way women are treated in the church is embarrassingly misguided by the leaders at the top, and Beck's talk outlines this only too well.

Sister Mary Lisa

I mentioned the "leaders at the top" before I saw DinD's comment about SML being placed as a leader at the top. Um...while I'd be honored, I don't have the proper body parts for such an important calling.

Jordan F.

SML, I believe my initial defensiveness was based on a misunderstanding of what Beck meant to say.

Sister Mary Lisa

What do you believe Beck meant to say, Jordan? Would you appreciate hearing the same message if her comments had been specifically directed to you as a man along with all the other men in church?

Speaking of men, why do you suppose her talk was directed to the women only? Why do only women have this burden to keep their children perfectly groomed on Sunday, and to keep their homes like the MTC, and why are they admonished to be "mothers who know" but men aren't admonished to be "fathers who know"? Why did she not tell us that "faithful sons of God desire children"? Why not "fathers who know are nurturers"? Why not "fathers who know are always teachers"?

Jordan F.

Because she was addressing the sisters of the church in her calling as relief society president. However, I personally took her remarks to apply to me, personally, as well, and would think that any man with an ounce of the Spirit about him would do the same. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I do not view duties associated with maintaining a household or raising children to be women's work. They are couple's work. I hear nothing in Beck's talk to divorce me from that view.

Equality

I think her remarks apply only to women from black-and-white sitcoms from the late 1950s and early 1960s America. A small subset of the population to be sure. All others should give her remarks the same consideration they would give to advice printed on fortune-cookie papers (although perhaps I am being unfair to foirtune-cookie writers).

Sister Mary Lisa

If only all the other millions of men in the church would be like you and hear her telling women to be the "ideal" woman she describes, and see that as a message to themselves to work toward being ideal in just those housewifely ways. Unfortunately, I'd bet that the majority of them will instead look at their imperfect wives and wonder what they can do to also encourage these sweet women to be more "ideal"...

Jordan F.

SML- maybe amongst your acquaintances. But the people I hang out with tend not to be so mysoginistic.

Sister Mary Lisa

Jordan~

But these upstanding acquaintances of yours support such talks as Beck's. As do the Brethren. Her talk actively and openly encourages all LDS women to be more "ideal" (which you claim is mysoginistic from my comment that many husbands will encourage their wives to be more ideal too) as does the admonition of the Brethren to not criticize the talk. How's that admirable?

Jordan F.

No, the mysoginistic comment was directed towards husbands who are so spiritually void that they will not see how that talk applies to them too.

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