Friday, March 30, 2012

Publishing Peace

There is an Orem billboard which states, "Why did Spencer W. Kimball say: 'We are a WARLIKE People'?" and then links to a website. It is controversial, because whatever a person believes about war, it is a political agenda billboard which relies solely on quotes from prophets, scripture, and other church leadership to support (and sell) its point.

I have no issue with the supposed purpose of the billboard, which is to encourage LDS members to read the quotes included and think about the issue of supporting war in light of LDS principles. But I have issue with the approach, and I have issue with its actual purpose hidden behind the ostensible one, which is to call people to repentance in support of a libertarian agenda.

There is a fine line between persuasion and manipulation. Appeals to Church authority and quotes are patent manipulation, particularly without background or explanation of the interpretation and how the author believes it fits in with doctrine as a whole, or without plenty of allowance for differing interpretations*. It consists of an attempt to force a person into a situation where they either agree with the presenter's tacit interpretation of the quotes (deduced from context, since the authors never actually state their agenda openly unless you click on external links,) ignoring all opposing peripheral quotes, or they seem to put themselves at odds with "the prophets."

This is deliberate.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Be a Woman

There is an interesting discussion at Segullah on what it means to be a woman. I meant to comment there, but realized that what I have to say is more complicated than a simple comment. These thoughts are fresh, not fully cooked, but I think best when I write, so here it goes.

I have heard the argument made that there is no difference between being a woman and being a man because the qualities that typify womanhood (ie. nurturing, patience, kindness, service) are things that both genders can and should develop. And they are right. Any good quality is not the prerogative of one gender over another.

Also, I have heard it said that because there are exceptions to these stereotypes, they have no value. That there are men who are more nurturing than their wives, women who are more business-oriented go-getting money-makers than their husbands. Therefore, the principles in The Family: A Proclamation to the World are wrong.

Which is also true, there are women who exemplify traditionally male roles better than some men who exemplify traditionally female roles. And yet, I sense a real difference between being a woman and being a man. It is not true that the principles of gendered responsibilities (not roles!) have no value.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Unrighteous Questions

As I am certain my parents would attest, I am big on asking questions. Even now, I have little shame in probing into the how and why of everything from human motivation to scientific knowledge, though I would hope I've developed a little more tact than I once had.

It is my parents' fault, of course. One of my earliest memories is, as a 3-year-old in Sunbeam class at church, sharing what I heard in Church that day only to have my dad ask me why I believed it. Because of that gift of a questioning spirit, at eight years old I was fully prepared with a testimony of the truthfulness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the story of Joseph Smith's vision. I had actually read that book myself and prayed as he did.

That is a gift that every parent should try to give their children. I only hope that I do half as well as my parents did with me.

That burning need to understand, to experience and know things for myself, is a huge part of what draws me to internet discussions. There are fewer social courtesies online, things can be discussed that many people would hesitate to share in person. My beliefs are questioned and challenged, and I thrive on that.

Questions help me delve more deeply into myself, help me reach out to my God more fully. They keep me from ever being satisfied with what I know and who I am.

There is a darker side to questioning, however, which I am beginning to see more clearly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How the Internet is Ruining the World

And I'm not even going to talk about spelling and grammar.

More and more people are not only expressing their opinions, but doing so in a harsh, threatening, or violent way. People seem to think less and less of threatening a person's life because they are racist, or against gay marriage, or FOR gay marriage, or baptizing proxy for someone's deceased family members, or for participating in a group of people that also includes someone else with any of those qualities, or any number of opinions that are repugnant to them.

You see, anyone can have opinions nowadays, even about things that don't really affect them. Just the other day, I was solicited to sign a petition for something in an entirely other state. Which I refused because it's none of my business what another state decides to do with their law.

But that's just it, people think everything is everyone's business. Not only do we disrespect privacy, we actually castigate people who refuse ideological exhibitionism.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Priesthood, Stewardships and Lamp Oil

Some time ago, I addressed the parable of the ten virgins. Jim, an excellent commenter, presented some questions about the nature of stewardship and this concept of spiritual lamp oil. I can't promise to answer them the same way I would have then, but in light of a rather surreal and one-sided recent conversation*, I found it interesting when I ran into this old archived topic which I never addressed.

The essence of the topic is this: as we each have sole responsibility for our salvation, worked out entirely between ourselves and our Savior, do we not have a responsibility to invite others to Christ? Can we add oil to another's lamp?

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