Friday, April 25, 2008

Polygamy, Blah, Blah, Blah . . . .

Okay, I know it seems beneficial to many to have something to complain about in regards to the Church, but please, please, PLEASE shake it up a little. There are only so many ways a person can answer a question and be told the answer isn't good enough before they get bored and move on. All a person can say is "Here is my answer, but why don't you ask the Lord for one of your own? I'm not nearly as good at answering questions as He is." Just because you don't believe a point of faith doesn't mean someone is an idiot for believing it. They also have no need to prove anything to you. If it could be proven, it wouldn't be faith. Just remember, you have the burden of proof to yourself. Finite.

If you absolutely insist on hashing something out, whatever you do, pick a topic that is new. There is nothing like a little freshness added, especially in the spring. Talk about the horrible lack of environmental awareness exhibited by the Mormon MobileTM. Discuss the bad fashion sense in wearing a tight shirt over a long sleeved shirt. Talk about the lack of culinary discernment necessary to put vegetables in a dessert. Maybe a discussion on how plain a typical Mormon face is could liven up your dinner conversation. I don't care what you gripe about so long as it is new. Give the right side of your brain a chance to shine. It has been oppressed by the Church for far too long.*

Useful List of Verboten Topics:
  • Polygamy

  • Blacks and the Priesthood

  • Women and the Priesthood

  • Proclamation on the Family

  • Julie Beck's Talks

  • Family Size/Sexuality/Birth Control/Abortion

  • Patriarchy

  • Republicanism in the Church

  • Gay Marriage

  • Dress Standards Anywhere

*Aha! A new idea!!!


  1. Silver Rain, you have single-handedly written "The End" to the Bloggernacle! /grin/

  2. Well, I suppose I'm a bit of a pot on this one. After all, I'm complaining about complaining. How prosaic can it get?

    (Nice to see you here, Ardis!)

  3. SilverRain,
    I think you're all wet on this one. People need to talk about these issues. They're doing it to discuss and to share and to open up and to heal--not necessarily to "get answers." I think where you and M&M run into trouble is that you are trying to make everyone see the definitive Church answer, when often there isn't one. GA's and even prophets disagree all the time. And even when you think you've come to terms with an issue, ten years later the Church may begin to lean another way!

    When I talk about these issues, I love to hear people comment along the lines of "here's something that made me think about this topic," or "this is how I do my life," or "I think that bothers me/doesn't bother me because..." NOT "this is the only true answer and those who don't agree are apostate."

    As a questioner, I am not out to prove things. I want to think about things in new ways and make connections.

    Polygamy and blah blah blah are big topics because they bother people. They don't go away if we just stop talking about them.

  4. BIV - Though this is a slightly different issue than I intended to address in the post, I think you wildly misunderstand both M&M and I (though she would probably be better at answering for herself) when you say we are trying to "make everyone see the definitive Church answer". I for one, avoid using GA quotes and other commentaries, preferring to share how I, personally, come to an answer through scripture and life experience in order to help others find what they are purportedly searching for. That is hardly considered a "definite church answer" in my mind, at least. When M&M does share quotes, I believe she is doing nothing more than trying to share the information which is out there so others can mull over it.

    Unfortunately, I have come to feel that there is a lot less truth-seeking than there is justification-seeking out on the blogs. Mutual truth seeking rarely gets people nearly as defensive as when their attempts to justify themselves are interrupted, however unintentionally they are interrupted. That is why I don't choose to butt heads over issues out on Bloggernaccle general very often; usually when I do so, my intent is misconstrued and the conversations spirals into an overly emotional dungfest.

    It gets wearying to be instantly labeled based on an intendedly mild, non-confrontational statement and then spend the rest of the discussion trying to defend against all the pigeonholing and extrapolation. Usually then, when I try to back out from a conversation that obviously has way more emotional stock than I bargained for, I'm labeled a coward. Fortunately, the internet medium provides a way to deal with bullies by simply withdrawing. I try not to let the name calling bother me too much, though I'm obviously far more thin-skinned than I wish.

    When these sort of situations happen, I usually go back after the hurt has died down and look at the conversation to try to analyze where it went wrong. Generally speaking, it seems to be when someone hears "this is the only true answer and those who don't agree are apostate," because they are already feeling defensive on a topic when "this is how I do my life," or "this is a quote that helped me" is what is really trying to be communicated.

    Frankly, there are only so many times a person is willing to open up their heart to a stranger only to have it smashed. This applies to BOTH sides of an issue. It is important to give the benefit of the doubt and self-analyze first reactions. If I find myself reacting emotionally to something, I won't post until the emotion has faded.

    In the times I've observed M&M's conversations, she is usually (in my opinion overly) solicitous when trying to bridge gaps between opposing groups of people. For all her efforts, she is usually only cursed as a quote-slinging busybody no matter how careful she tries to be.

    But let me try to get back on the post's real topic (sorry for the mini-rant, but obviously that whole situation bothered me more than I realized). This post is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but like most satire, there is a serious grain of truth in it.

    Maybe it warrants a post of its own, but I see a world of difference between productive discussion and sheer donkey-whipping. When the same people are running through the same discussion over and over, it leads me to believe one of two things. Either they simply enjoy the controversy and don't genuinely have an issue with it at all or they ARE finding answers, but they are rejecting them as not aligning with their paradigm of how-things-ought-to-be. In other words, they are unwilling to contemplate the chance that they could be wrong. I don't believe in the possibility that they are genuinely seeking truth and peace and not finding it.

    The Lord has promised multiple times that all who seek shall find, if they seek with all their hearts. I have found that to be true. It does not necessarily come when I want it to, but I have never yet been disappointed when I have been patient.

    I'm not saying we should stop talking about the big issues. I'm saying we should look at them in a way that leads to enlightenment, not in a way that simply gives us a pig wallow to play in.

    It is wrong to complain for the sake of complaint. I do not condemn honest seeking for truth, even if that seeking takes awhile. I do not condemn ANY individual (even myself) because I have no way of judging whether or not someone is honestly seeking. I do know, however, that even though I have no fingers pointed at anyone specific, those who are simply stirring the pot do exist, and they grievously err. If they do not humble themselves and turn to God in repentance, they are the only ones who will be hurt. I know because I have found myself in the position of pot-stirrer before. That is the simple truth, and I'm not going to apologize for that. It doesn't make me happy, only regretful and hopeful that I don't fall on that end of things when all is said and done.

    I think there is value in constantly analyzing oneself to measure whether or not one is posting from genuine desire to know or from a simple desire to generate controversy and blog stats.

  5. "I'm not saying we should stop talking about the big issues. I'm saying we should look at them in a way that leads to enlightenment, not in a way that simply gives us a pig wallow to play in."

    I would ask: Whose "enlightenment" do we want? Many times I have read through discussions and had an "A-ha!" moment and come away "enlightened." I believe it all comes down to an openness and willingness to respect each other's viewpoints.

    There have been occasions when I have felt folks wished I would "shut up." Their wish is never my command. I will have my say and everyone is free to ignore my pearls of wisdom.

    Rambling thoughts for a Monday morning.

  6. "I don't care what you gripe about so long as it is new."

    Who gets to decide what is new?

    When I was baptized at age 17 (four years ago) I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. Missionary discussions and YW lessons did not prepare me for the church I am encountering now with adult eyes. I'm glad to know you can be so smug about the "old news" on your list. Maybe someday I'll be just as confident. In the meantime, having recently discovered Mormon blogs, I'll continue to find solace in the fact that some folks really struggle with these things while at the same time keeping their faith.

    blogless paulina in slc

  7. Kalola & Pauline - My intent was never to condemn honest seeking of truth. Pot-stirring, however, is sin, meaning not that those who do it are condemned or evil, but that they are doing themselves and others damage they may not even realize.

    I believe it important to analyze posts and comments to determine whether or not a topic is being approached with the intent to find/share healing or with the intent to stir the pot. There is balance in this, as there is in all things. Pleading for something new was an attempt to clothe a genuine issue of concern in slightly more lighthearted apparel. Not everyone will see the humor in it (as is apparent) but that's okay, too.

    The serious concerns I tried to address:
    1) Often, those who pretend to struggle with the Issues of the Church have a blatant intolerance for any attempt to approach an answer faithfully. They only want to hear the voices that complain similarly, not hear the voices of those who have struggled and found answers.
    2) Often, the Issues seem to be brought up on blogs to generate hits, not to genuinely discuss concerns. That isn't to say that there is no value in the discussion, only that the motivations for starting the discussion are not pure. I think it valuable to try to resist that temptation and post out of a true desire to help.
    3) If someone is truly burdened with a concern, there is value in stepping away from it for awhile. If you can't quiet the voices - both inner and outer - screaming for attention, the Spirit has no chance to whisper healing. You cannot be healed through discussion alone, only through the guidance of the Spirit.

    You might note that I did not say to never discuss those topics, only to mix them up with other topics.

  8. SilverRain ~ I must be in the dark because I do not know which blogs you are referring to. Also, I'm new to viewing your blog, so there is a definite possibility that I am misinterpreting what you write.

    That being said, I am perceiving that you are annoyed by individuals who may not agree with your views. I also get a sinking feeling that you are, perhaps, asking that bloggers censor what they want to discuss on their own blogs.

    I sincerely hope I am just confused and that I am not seeing the complete picture.

    You can always e-mail me if you want to discuss this privately.

  9. Kalola - You aren't entirely incorrect in your perceptions, but I'd like to clarify a little.

    I'm annoyed when people who don't agree with my views dismiss them as mere attempts to convert or coerce others into believing them. I put a lot more of my heart into my words online than I'm really comfortable with because I hope that they may help someone else. I know what it feels like to need help and not find it. It is difficult for me to meekly depart when slapped in the face in the way I've described, though I'm getting better at it. (And to tell you straightforwardly, I don't really want to finger any one blog or person specifically. I like to keep my complaints about general concepts rather than individuals. I recognize that everyone messes up and has weaknesses, and I see no need to point out another's faults unless they ask me to. I'm too busy with my own myriad faults, and I figure everyone else is busy with theirs.)

    As for censorship - I am asking bloggers to censor their thoughts before putting them out for the world to see. Self-censorship is a powerful tool. I did write about that here. I think it all too easy for people to feel the internet is a private medium when it is the most public and unintentionally enduring medium possible. Blogs make it easy for people to spew forth all the ideas that come into their head, rather like journals once did, but instead of being a private or even personal-among-friends way to work out issues the way some people treat it, it is displayed for all to see, misconstrue, and use as a weapon.

    I think one has to be very careful what one says on blogs. I wish I had been more careful in the past, myself. There is no harm in double-checking your motives before posting. There is nothing wrong with posting prayerfully. I'm not saying that people are evil for saying what is in their hearts - just incautious.

    There is a saying, "Whatever you do will return to you threefold." I believe that can be true. Whether good or evil, what you do will come back to you. If you spew forth frustration and venom with no thought for how it affects others, you will end up receiving frustration and venom. If you genuinely try to serve and bless others, you will eventually receive service and blessing.

    I do not in any way mean to curtail genuine question-asking and discussion. But I would entreat everyone - especially those who have covenanted to stand always as a witness for Christ and to help one another's burdens be lighter - to try harder to make that their goal when posting and commenting. I think that spreading out our grievances like street vendor junk and lovingly polishing and crooning over each piece will lead to nothing but more sorrow in the long run, however comforting it can seem in the short term.

  10. SilverRain ~ I read through your post "The Glory of Self-Censorship." You brought up some excellent points. You wrote "Venting has its place, ...." Often, blogs are the only place some people feel they can vent.

    Yesterday, I had one of my "venting" moments on my blog. When I thought about what I posted and how it might be perceived by my readers, I decided to delete it. That one step toward "self-censorship" did, perhaps, show a "sign of maturity and well-developed self-awareness" (quoting your words).

    I've gleaned much from what you've written on your blog.

  11. Kalola - you are completely right when you say that sometimes blogs are the only place a person feels they can vent. Life can be lonely, especially for those too shy or fearful to make real friends. I have been in that situation - and it has turned on me with a vengeance. When I speak of these things, it is not with the shaking finger of derision, but with the open hand of compatriotism.

    Often, the answer is to vent to God, for He is always there, but sometimes that doesn't seem to be enough. You need a flesh-and-blood heart to speak with. In my darkest times, I have often had to carry my burdens alone. Once, however, when I was at the brink of utter despair it seemed, the Lord sent me someone I hadn't looked for or expected. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to have someone there when I needed them. It filled a gaping void in my heart.

    But I know that no amount of online venting and "support" can replace that. All it accomplishes is a temporary release, and I have found the price is not worth the risk.

  12. Wow! that's pretty hypocritical! Why do you bother continuing to read it if you hate it so much? Presumably nobody's tying you to the computer and forcing you to open tab after tab of 'nacle blogs. If you just can't tear yourself away, why don't YOU introduce some new topics? Geez. Get over it or go away.

  13. Anonymous - and if you're not completely comfortable with all aspects of Mormonism/America/company culture/marriage, you should just get out, right?

    Thanks for what I'm going to try to assume are good intentions. I would appreciate it if you would try to actually read my comments and my post and try to understand what I am saying before you simply react. I try to give that benefit to others; I insist upon it myself before I engage in discussion.

  14. Silverrain, I loved this post, read alot of it aloud to DH and had a great laugh.

    I support what you have said, I wonder if it hits too close to home for some and that is why all the venom appeared here.


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