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December 05, 2007

Comments

Wakarusa

P.S. You are my "beloved children" for now, but the second you doubt the truthfulness of the Church, I'll exclude you from the family and send out e-mails insinuating that you are an unworthy sack of sh#@! Love, Dad.

P.P.S. Take care of my grandkids. After all, they are mine, but only in your care. Love, Dad.

wry catcher

Wakarusa, that totally jumped out at me, too - clearly, Mike's family operates under old-school patriarchy. Even Mike's kids are actually Mike's FATHER'S GRANDKIDS, and Mike's just looking after them.

With all apologies to Mike, his father is a pompous blowhard. If someone was trying to write a TBM parody of a reaction to an adult child's disaffection, it wouldn't even be this bad, this caustic.

At least he calls us all clever scholars. Or disillusioned believers with axes.

Sorry, "Mike." Hugs to you, my man. That letter and all the weight of needing you to be A Certain Way to be okay with your family, well, it just sucks. So sorry.

wry catcher

Just a semi-rhetorical question: Do we axe-grinding, disillusioned scholars know of any disaffected mormon who has rejected their family for being mormon? These wise scholars -- have they said, no, I reject you until you see things my way, you believing mormon jerk?

OR...have we all bent over backwards over and over and over again to try and maintain relationships with people who love a bunch of bullshit from a charlatan more than they love their own family?

That's what I thought.

Jordan F.

These are not the "fruits of the gospel in action" but the ramblings of one pitiful father who is understandably distraught but overly reactive and distressingly anachronistic in his extreme partriarchal views. It seems like this LDS family has an "off" dynamic about it that existed before the apostasy issue. I don't think it is fair or correct to hold this up as an example of LDS families.

fh451

Wow, this makes me sad! Don't people realize how judgemental and arrogant they sound, while at the same time accusing the "condemned" of being judgemental and arrogant? I've heard similar things, but it really bugs me when you're accused of "never seeking or achieving conversion." It denegrates and dismisses the struggle that many of us have been through studying, praying, even pleading to get some kind of confirmation of "Moroni's Promise." Don't put the blame on me when I did everything I could think of to make it work.

Sorry you're getting this treatment from your father, "Mike." It's unfair but unfortunately not that uncommon. The irony of the situation operates on many levels; not just that the church claims to be family friendly (until one strays), but that Dad feels compelled to protect the rest of his family from a "dangerous" child, who has done nothing but follow his/her conscience. "Standing for something" only applies if you are standing for what they want you to stand for.

fh451

fh451

Jordan F wrote: "I don't think it is fair or correct to hold this up as an example of LDS families."

Why not? It may not be "representative," but it's a perfect "example." No one's saying all LDS families are like this - mine's not. My mother and father were disappointed with me, but they have continued to treat me and my family as warmly as ever. But I think it's perfectly fair and correct to show this as an example of what SOME families do to their children, and are willing to do in the name of religion, to protect the "faith." To me it seems a case of "me thinks thou doth protest too much" (speaking of Mike's father). If their case is so strong, why the sensational reaction? Because all LDS families are not like this doesn't mean we should sweep it under the rug.

fh451

Equality

Mike's father's reaction is actually quite typical. I have heard variations on this story countless times over the past couple years. And I know plenty of closet doubters who don't tell their spouses, parents, or fellow ward members what they really think and how they really feel about the church precisely because they fear getting the sort of reaction that Mike's father gave his children. Jordan, I agree with you that the letter represents "the ramblings of one pitiful father who is understandably distraught but overly reactive and distressingly anachronistic in his extreme patriarchal views." My question is this: where did he get those views and why did he have this reaction? It seems to me his letter is just spitting out the bile he's been fed by church leaders and LDS scriptures. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.

Jordan F.

Equality claims that this letter is the "fruits of the gospel in action." I respectfully disagree. I am sorry that Mike has turmoil in his family- stuff like this is sad. But what is going on here is most decidedly NOT the "fruits of the gospel in action." Not the gospel I believe in. Just because an LDS guy (or even many) do it does not make it the gospel. It makes it an example of LDS guys not living the gospel.

This has nothing to do with sweeping anything under the rug, but with debunking sweeping and untrue generalizations.

Jordan F.

For all the talk about how judgmental mormons are on this site, there certainly seems to be no lack of judgment here for what was a deeply personal family matter.

-Domokun-

If anyone thinks this is a made-up letter, I don't. This could be me, except I don't have two sons, and I know I didn't send this to Equality. Other than that, I can hear my parent's voices say the same things, (and I have,) and sometimes some even worse things. This kind of situation is, in my personal experience and in talking to others, the norm when a mormon family has an apostate in it. By their fruits ye shall know them, indeed.

Jordan F.

I don't think the letter is made up. Domo- not everyone's parents are psycho enough (like yours) to suggest that their daughter-in-law divorce their son and come live with them because their son has decided to stop going to church.

I am sorry that yours are like that- apparently even more screwed up than Mike. But nothing in the LDS Church that I know of mandates calling your daughter-in-law in secret and trying to convince her to leave your own son because of a difference in religious beliefs. The fact that your parents happen to be screwed up enough to do such a thing and subjected you to it shows that you can never be objective in deciding what "the fruits of the gospel" truly are in this circumstance. Because to you, screwed up parents were the "fruit of the gospel". But perhaps they are just mentally ill and would be psycho with or without the gospel.

Jordan F.

"apparently even more screwed up than Mike" above should read "than MIKE'S PARENTS."

Equality

Jordan,

It is, indeed, a deeply personal family matter. I post it here only because Mike requested I do so.

Jordan said: "But nothing in the LDS Church that I know of mandates..."

Jordan, you are missing the point. It is not that the LDS Church mandates such behavior. It's that church teachings and church culture encourage (or at least do not actively discourage) such attitudes and behavior.

Jordan said: "The fact that your parents happen to be screwed up enough to do such a thing..." Again, the question is what has caused them to be screwed up? You admit that the fruit is rotten (these parents are screwed up). The question is the cause of the rottenness. I think the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that it is LDS doctrine and culture that have influenced these parents in such a way as to cause this rotten behavior.

Jordan F.

Naaa- they are probably just rotten people.

Jordan F.

"It's that church teachings and church culture encourage (or at least do not actively discourage) such attitudes and behavior."

In your opinion, it does. I guess your opinion is just as valid to your perception of reality as mine is to mine.

Equality

Jordan,

If you think church doctrine and culture do not contribute to the attitudes on display in Mike's dad's email, where do you think he got the ideas that he attributes to the prophets and the scriptures? You really think "they're just rotten" is a better explanation than "they were influenced negatively by certain church teachings"?

OMR1425

Jordan F wrote: "I don't think it is fair or correct to hold this up as an example of LDS families."
In my experience, this is right on.

Mikes dad said, In this case, he has allowed his personal mistakes, his frustrations, and his personal weaknesses to cloud his mind.

I know for me in my life, I was scared of doing anything outside the guidelines prior to questioning the church. I lost my testimony while serving my mission, living 100% of the rules, well maybe I slept in ever once in a while. After losing my testimony and only after, I began to question, “what’s wrong with a drink now and then”? Not the other way around. It drives me crazy when members want to put it back on you, you’re the ass. If the foundation of the church is not correct, what about everything else I’ve been taught? It’s beyond most members to think that you actually thought, studied, and prayed for understanding and came up with a different answer.

DinD

Jordan F

Yup, you’re delusional. You’re in your own little world.

Equality

Now, now, DinD, no need for insults. Why not let Jordan answer my question about what he thinks is the root cause of Mike's dad's and Domo's mom's reactions to their disaffection, if not church teachings and culture?

DinD

Jordan F said, “But perhaps they are just mentally ill and would be psycho with or without the gospel”.

I disagree, the church tends to put people in a class of all their own. Beyond the outer limits. Watch closely Thursday night, you're about to see one on display at A&M. This should be good, I'll bring the popcorn.

DinD

His response will most likely be gibberish. But I’ll let him answer. Sorry.

Jordan F.

The root cause is a lack of true love and compassion for their son. No church can force that into the hearts and minds of people, it is something they must gain on their own, regardless of their religious persuasion.

But what do I know, I am one of those stupid, delusional mormons who still actually believes in the LDS Church that DiD likes to laugh at and deride while pretending that he likes and respects them.

Jordan F.

Oh, sorry. I guess it was gibberish.

DinD

Sorry!

Sister Mary Lisa

Jordan ~

Your argument "they are probably just rotten people" is way too similar to the argument that troubling things that are done by church leaders or prophets is "them speaking as a man, not a prophet."

The truth is, the church promotes this feeling that parents have a responsibility to uphold the gospel for any wayward children, and a duty to push them harder to hold to the iron rod, and a duty to protect their children (of any age) from apostate siblings, and to "avoid the very appearance of evil." Hence the reason few members are bothered by general authorities suggesting openly that parents of actively gay people not welcome said gay children into their homes. Hence the letter we see here to Mike, which is tragic.

Tell me this, Jordan...would you say that in this instance Mike's father was expressing righteous priesthood authority in drafting and sending such a letter to his other children? Because you know and I know that such a letter (if shown to a stake president or bishop) would be supported as that father being a righteous priesthood presider in his family. The thought makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

But perhaps that's only because I have a "righteous priesthood presider" father who is just like Mike's father. Or perhaps he's only "rotten." But apparently that's OK for a priesthood wielder to be within the gospel since Mike's father and mine are still able to keep their priesthood power and authority to act in God's name on this earth as they see fit.

Equality

"But what do I know"

Hey, Jordan, you don't need to self-denigrate here. You have a valid opinion and one that I am sure is based on something substantial. I'd really like to hear it.

You said: "The root cause is a lack of true love and compassion for their son. No church can force that into the hearts and minds of people, it is something they must gain on their own, regardless of their religious persuasion." Taking it outside the context of the LDS Church for a moment, can you not think of any church that might cause its members to forsake their families in favor of the church? Does it never happen? I am not so sure that Mike's dad doesn't love him very much. What I see is a father who simply has his priorities skewed because he believes so strongly the dogma his church teaches. He exalts loyalty to the church above his relationship with his kids. When presented with conflicting loyalties, he chooses the church over his son. You say no church can instill that kind of thing. I wonder.

Sophocles

This letter really hits home.

Ever since I discussed my own disaffection with the church with my dad, he has been completely loving and accepting. I can tell he is trying his hardest to put family ahead of church, and I love him for it.

And yet, even will all of that, he could have written this letter, word for word. From talking with him at length, I know these are his beliefs. I get the impression that he wishes he could ignore the church's teachings in this case, but he can't.

Jordan F.

The self-denigration was for D's benefit. He has formed an opinion that TBMs are necessarily delusional. Therefore, he routinely dismisses anything they have to say as "gibberish."

I am sure that what you, Equality, describes does happen. I am not so sure that it is what Jesus Christ wants or what his gospel teaches.

It seems to me that what you would like me to focus on is the idea that the doctrine of eternal families actually harms families. As misinterpreted by some (or many!) LDS members, I can see how your point- they lose sight of the forest (the importance of keeping families together) for certain trees (perhaps temporary setbacks in expectations, like a family member choosing to believe something besides the gospel as taught in their home).

But I think reasonable (not necessarily delusional) minds can differ regarding whether this intense focus on a tree at the expense of the forest is necessarily caused by the LDS Church.

I, for one, would be sad if my children abandoned my faith, because I highly value my faith, and it would make me sad that my children would not have something that has enriched my own life so greatly. And, of course, I would be sad at the prospect of not seeing them in the hereafter, should that particular interpretation of the "gospel" turn out true. But that would only make my time with them here that much more valuable- and that is a belief that I believe is informed quite a bit by the LDS teachings on the central importance of family.

Jordan F.

"would you say that in this instance Mike's father was expressing righteous priesthood authority in drafting and sending such a letter to his other children?"

That is not for me to say, SML. I probably would have approached it differently myself, however.

Equality

Jordan said:
"I am not so sure that it is what Jesus Christ wants or what his gospel teaches."

On this we agree. It's not what Jesus would teach. But it is what the LDS church teaches. And that, it seems to me, is problematic.

"As misinterpreted by some (or many!) LDS members,..."

This seems to be a common refrain from you, Jordan. It seems so many members of the church are misunderstanding and misinterpreting the "true" doctrines of the church. At what point does the church bear some responsibility for all this misunderstanding and misinterpreting that is taking place?

Sister Mary Lisa

Jordan ~

If we can't look at letters like this and judge them for the crap they are (or not) and look at what the church teaches and judge it for the crap it is (or not), then what's the point of having the Choose The Right teaching at all in the gospel?

Lincoln

Mike's Dad said:

"However, I exhort each of you to be aware that you should never get too close to a man that is drowning in the oceans' waves. For if you do, he will grab you in desperation and the two of you will usually drown together. You only throw life preservers or extend a life saving device, so that you are not caught and become a victim yourself."

This is the classic example of how TBMs have deluded themselves into believing that they belong to the one and only true Christian Church, when the truth is many cannot even exert the slightest degree of Christian love to one of their own children. Sad. Very sad.

Sister Mary Lisa

Mike's dad wrote, "Mike made two major mistakes. One, he never sought nor achieved that conversion of the spirit that is spoken of in Moroni 10:3-5."

Why is it that every time someone leaves the church and claims to have prayed and searched and tried, it is never accepted as true? I'll tell you why. Because you are taught your whole life at church that if you pray and receive a burning in your bosom, or a witness that what you've been taught at church is true, then it is good. If you receive nothing, you didn't pray hard enough, or weren't faithful enough. If you think it is NOT true, and pray to receive witness of this, and receive such burning in your bosom, then that is not of God but rather Satan leading you astray.

It's a messed up system.

For me, when I prayed so hard to know that it was still true when all I had discovered pointed heavily to me that the church WASN'T true, I got nothin' ~ absolutely nada. Why would a loving heavenly father leave me hanging like that? And why would a father who claims to love his son as Mike's father does treat him so horribly by sending out this letter that was meant in love but which instead shows us a perfect example of non-love and disrespect?

Jordan F.

SML:

I agree that the letter is crap. But that is not the question you asked. You were asking me whether Mike's father was "expressing righteous priesthood authority," not whether the letter was crappy. And my answer to THAT question (i.e., the question you actually asked) is that Mormons believe that whether Mike's exercise of priesthood authority is "righteous" or not is between him, the Lord, and possibly his bishop. I have no idea what his bishop would say to him, nor do I have any desire to speculate. So all I can say is that I am pretty sure I would not do the same thing myself.

Equality:

"At what point does the church bear some responsibility for all this misunderstanding and misinterpreting that is taking place?"


In my opinion, at no point. As Mormons, we believe that we are to "work out their OWN salvation" before God. Couple that with the teaching that those who must be "commanded" in all things are "unwise and slothful servants," and one soon sees that belief is a very personal thing. We Mormons have teachers to help guide our own personal understanding of things, but ultimately the choice of what to believe and how to believe is ours, and is informed by our personal relationship with God, and transcends any institution.

One thing my personal beliefs tell me is that the LDS Church's main function, as an institution, is to oversee the performance of various ordinances that we Mormons believe are necessary to return to live with God again, and to teach the people about the absolute centrality of the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ in informing and shaping personal belief. Everything else is ancillary to this, though it may (and when properly done, should) help individuals to form the necessary relationship with God. But ultimately, I believe (and mormon scriptures support this belief) that understanding the gospel is our PERSONAL duty and obligation as Latter-day Saints.

Sister Mary Lisa

Nowhere in the church is it obvious to me that one is afforded "PERSONAL" allowance in beliefs. One must conform or be cast out.

Mayan Elephant

Jordan,

Ya had to know I was comin to join this party, right? How could I miss this one?

You (jordanf) said: “It seems to me that what you would like me to focus on is the idea that the doctrine of eternal families actually harms families.”

I love that one. First of all, you are right; the church sings songs about families being together forever and tells us all the reasons for it. More, it sets up marriages and families to live in a model where the rewards come after death so stick to the prescribed model that we learn at age 4. Here is the problem, as shown in the letter from mike's dad, the mormon church, its faithful followers and its leaders do not believe for one fucking second that families are forever. It is not part of mormon doctrine. It is not part of mormon scriptures. It is not part of the mormon temple ceremony. It is not part of mormon indoctrination. It is a farce that anyone dares even suggest it in light of this letter. What do mormons believe and teach, its very simple mate – MORMON FAMILIES ARE TOGETHER FOREVER! Only mormon families. And when mike stepped off the common treadmill or path – he forsook his family. It is embarrassing for his parents to admit, because it is a badge of honor to claim to be entering eternity together as a mormon family. There is no claim for active mormon families to have an eternal family that includes their inactive or exmormon children. Those parents are fucked.

Now, to your claim that this is a maverick whack dad that is way out of line and not acting according to the gospel. Well, whatever, who knows what is really the gospel or not. But, as for his behavior relative to standard mormon practices – it’s as typical as blessing the food to nourish and strengthen our bodies and do us the good that we need and blessing the hands that prepared the food

The leaders of the church have a lot to say about what people should do. My god. Look at the beck speech from conference. She gave a godamn list of things to do. The church dumps millions of dollars telling homosexuals what to do, and they aren’t even mormon. The church spent millions fighting ERA. Hell, go to priesthood this week and learn about revelation from spencer kimball. That jackass had the nerve to claim revelation about how married couples should and should not have sex and went so far as to make it part of the temple recommend interview. Every temple recommend holder submits to an interview to make sure they are in-line in doing what they are told to do. Being told what to do is not a problem in the mormon church. Its standard behavior.

And yet, I dare you to find an instance where dads are told to not do this sort of shit that mikes dad just pulled off. It will never happen. Rather, you will find a bunch of Porter Rockwellian members willing to claim some higher ground for saying the hard things in the name of the Lard. It’s obedient. Its their testimony. It’s the higher ground. All the while, the leaders of the church are telling people to not wear earrings and letting this sort of shit slide.


Lincoln

Jordan:

I thought the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ teach us to love our family members, be there for them, and help them when they need help. Are you saying that every member who treats an apostate with anything less than Christlike love (as Mike's Dad does so eloquently) isn't really following the centrality of the mission of the Church? Don't make me get out my Joseph Smith and Brigham Young quotes about apostates.

Jordan F.

Even if it were standard for LDS fathers to react like that (which I doubt, but I will take your word for it), that does not make it right, or in conformity with the "gospel" as I understand it.

Equality

Jordan,

So the church bears absolutely no burden to teach ethical principles to its members? Because if the church teaches something unethical, well, the individual member should be constitutionally strong enough to resist the unethical teaching that is coming from, say, the person (i.e., the Prophet) he believes receives revelation from God regularly in a continuous thundering appeal (according to this week's Kimball lesson)? Interesting viewpoint.

Jordan F.

Dead rhetoric, Linoln. Dead rhetoric. Those quotes, I mean.

Jordan F.

It is up for the individual member to decide what teaching to accept. My personal belief system, though, happens to coveniently coincide in most aspects to what is taught in the LDS Church.

Though I don't believe that turning away your sons and daughters for not going to church is actually taught- I have never heard that teaching. And if the LDS church did teach that, it would probably not be one of my personal beliefs.

Equality

Probably?

Jordan F.

"Why would a loving heavenly father leave me hanging like that?"

SML- I have no idea. When I have a perfect understanding of the universe and the mind and will of the personage I believe is God, I will let you know. Until then, I am forced to wonder just like you.

"And why would a father who claims to love his son as Mike's father does treat him so horribly by sending out this letter that was meant in love but which instead shows us a perfect example of non-love and disrespect?"

Again, I have no idea. You would have to ask Mike's father, I guess. I wouldn't have sent that letter. And I don't recall any lessons in the LDS church teaching us to behave like Mike's father did when presented with the fact that a child no longer believes in the LDS church. And even if some such lesson were taught, I don't recall being told that accepting such a teaching was essential to personal salvation/exaltation/whatever.

Jordan F.

Yes, Equality, probably. I would subject it to the same silly truth test which I subject every teaching I hear at my church in deciding whether or not to make it part of my personal belief system. I would pray and ask God if it was true. I have not done that for this particular "teaching" yet, so I don't know with 100% certainty whether I would choose to believe it. But right now, I am reasonably certain that the answer I would receive is that I should love my offspring and not abandon them over a difference in faith.

Mayan Elephant

"Though I don't believe that turning away your sons and daughters for not going to church is actually taught- I have never heard that teaching. And if the LDS church did teach that, it would probably not be one of my personal beliefs."

good hell jordan. what is so tough about this? this type of letter is common. this response is common. and yet, packer is silent about it. the jackass has all the time in the world to carry on about feminists, but not a fucking breath or a nod about this stuff. of course packer isnt going to stand up and say "men, if your son believes grant palmer more than me, you should download the letter that sr. mike sent to his son and send it off." instead, they just let this go on and on and on with silent approval. just as you restated it yourself, the mormon families are forever schtick continues, even for you. you may not respond with the same anger and despicable rant as mikes dad if your son marries a methodist and decides to let your grandchildren color outside the lines - but, you will experience a similar mourning. and that, is cruel and harmful.

Equality

"Again, I have no idea."
Really? No idea at all what is motivating Mike's dad? I see in Mike's dad's letter the influence of Mormonism in almost every sentence. And I have a feeling that many who are familiar with the LDS Church, its teachings, and its culture, can also see them. If this letter were posted elsewhere (i.e., not on a blog discussing Mormonism), would it have been difficult to know what church Mike and his dad belonged to?

Equality

"I would subject it to the same silly truth test which I subject every teaching I hear at my church in deciding whether or not to make it part of my personal belief system. I would pray and ask God if it was true." Ah, yes, the Dan Lafferty approach.

Sister Mary Lisa

I'd be curious to know if any other siblings besides the one who forwarded this letter to Mike had any thoughts of abhorrence for this letter. Because if not, that is extremely telling as well just how deeply such sentiments as those in this letter are considered "normal" or "righteous" or "true" in the gospel mindset. The probability that none of them spoke out about this letter or defended Mike or ripped Daddy Dearest a new one is telling.

Jordan F.

It's cruel and harmful to experience sadness because of the decisions of a child? Then every parent is cruel and harmful, I guess.

Personally, I think you can be sad because of a child's decisions, or perhaps temporarily disappointed, but still love that kid to death and not turn them away. If that is cruel and harmful in your opinion, then I guess most parents are.

NOTE: I am not trying to persuade anyone that I am right, indeed, I fully acknowledge that I could be completely wrong. But this is the path and the personal belief system I have chosen. That choice is mine, and I can't persuade you to choose what I have chosen, nor am I trying to do so.

Here, I am just presenting an alternative viewpoint, and my opinion that Mike's dad's letter is not the "fruits of the gospel."

Mayan Elephant

sheesh.

jordan. let me help you out. ill give you examples of how the church teaches people to do this sort of shit.

church courts. you break the rules - no more family for you.
Lyndon Lamborn. a stake president wanted to publicly announce his excommunication, and the mormon church was as silent as a mormon church mouse.
the excommunication of authors. publicly cut them off, for being naughty.
only employing TR holders at the lds church. if you cant live up to the questions - you lose your job.
public scorning of sinners by not allowing them to take the sacrament.
telling dads to hold regular interviews, including worthiness interviews, with their kids. making the dad a judge of sorts.

jordan, the patterns are godamn obvious and they extend from top to bottom in the church. even if you disagree that they are are there, can you at least see how others do see it this way?

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